François Boucher (artist)|
French, 1703 - 1770
Madame Bergeret, possibly 1766
oil on canvas
overall: 143.5 x 105.4 cm (56 1/2 x 41 1/2 in.) framed: 172.4 x 134.3 cm (67 7/8 x 52 7/8 in.)
Samuel H. Kress Collection
Object 5 of 11
Of the more than one thousand paintings Boucher produced, only about twenty are portraits. Contemporaries noted that the artist had difficulty capturing a likeness, a handicap eighteenth-century audiences felt less severe for women's portraits. In them, flattery could substitute for veracity. The fresh glow of Margeurite Bergeret's complexion, the rich, shimmery fabric of her gown, the profusion of roses—even the rustic touch of a straw hat—are all typical of Boucher's style. It captured the grace of a pampered way of life, of aristocrats who, as a contemporary explained "really have nothing else to do but seek pleasant sensations and feelings."
Madame Bergeret was the wife and sister of important art patrons, and it is possible that they introduced Boucher to a third—Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV's powerful mistress. Her refined tastes influenced French art for two decades, and Boucher would become her favorite painter. He produced several portraits of her, the most celebrated modeled on this earlier one of Madame Bergeret.
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