Celebrating the tercentenary of the artist's birth, this exhibition was the first survey of François Boucher's (1703–1770) drawings in more than twenty-five years. Featuring approximately eighty sheets — few of which have ever been on view in the United States — the exhibition provided a new understanding of Boucher's prolific output of works on paper and demonstrated his extraordinary technique and style as a draftsman. The artist's wide variety of subject matter was revealed with his depictions of pastoral scenes and landscapes, various conceptions of mythology, religious narratives, historical events, representations of literature and allegory, and contemporary scenes. The Drawings of François Boucher, which was organized by the American Federation of Arts and curated by Alastair Laing, Advisor on Paintings and Sculpture to the National Trust, London, made its debut at the Frick and then traveled to the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth (January 17 through April 18, 2004).
A fully illustrated catalogue accompanied the exhibition and features an essay by Alastair Laing exploring Boucher's development as a draftsman, his range of subjects, contemporary appeal, and innovations in technique. Pierre Rosenberg, former director of the Musée du Louvre, Paris, discusses Boucher in the broader context of eighteenth-century French drawings.
The exhibition was organized by the American Federation of Arts and made possible, in part, by grants from the Grand Marnier Foundation, the Fino Family Foundation, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Pfizer Foundation. Additional support was provided by the Benefactors Circle of the AFA.
Presentation of the exhibition in New York, which was coordinated by Chief Curator Colin B. Bailey, was made possible through a major grant from The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation with additional support from Jean A. Bonna and the Fellows of The Frick Collection.