National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS
The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard: Masterpieces of French Genre Painting

Introduction | Watteau and the Fête Galante | Fashion and Gallantry | Chardin
Greuze and His Followers | Fragonard | Boilly | Image List | Exhibition Information


Louis-Léopold Boilly, The Cardsharp on the Boulevard, 1806The same response is seen in Louis-Léopold Boilly's art, which takes us into the first decade of the nineteenth century. The small Cardsharp on the Boulevard was painted almost with the finesse of a miniature, as he detailed with meticulous care the various activities on a Paris boulevard, from a cardsharp with his credulous victims to a young woman soliciting an older man. Some veiled moral lessons may lurk here, but we feel that Boilly, like a modern urban stroller, took a detached pleasure in observing these scenes of the perennial human comedy. Boilly was working a century after Watteau, and his scene is undoubtedly more true to life than Watteau's enigmatic fêtes galantes. Yet both artists were acute and sensitive observers of the world around them. Both also worked within an art form--genre painting--whose developments and transformations function, at one level, as a constantly changing mirror of Parisian life and culture.

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