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François Boucher

The Assumption of the Virgin


François Boucher
Paris 1703 – Paris 1770


The Assumption of the Virgin


About 1758-1760


Oil on canvas


143.2 x 75.3 cm


Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2003.88


Western Art

Painter to Louis XV and director of the Royal Academy, François Boucher remains among the most esteemed Rococo artists of the eighteenth-century. He is at his peak when he paints this painting and its open sketchbook illustrates his superb draftsmanship. The "Assumption" of the Virgin is the belief that due to her purity she ascended, her body uncorrupted, to heaven. Boucher may have produced this sketch in connection with an unrealized alterpiece for the Church of Saint-Sulpice, a commission ultimately given to another artist by the King’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour. The work bears some connection to a commission for an Assumption received by the artist’s pupil and son-in-law Jean-Baptiste Deshays in 1758. Because Boucher’s oil sketches were popular with collectors, he may have produced this painting initially to help Deshays and then to sell. Boucher painted it in brown camaieu (monochrome), restricting his palette to salmon pink, red and brown with white highlights.

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