François Boucher (French, 17031770)
Gouache over black chalk on paper; 16 1/4 x 11 in. (41.2 x 28 cm)
Purchase, David T. Schiff Gift, and Rogers and Harris Brisbane Dick Funds, 1997 (1997.95)
Known for graceful mythologies and charming scenes of rustic genre, Boucher produced relatively few religious paintings for a history painter of his standing. Those he did make were typically of an intimate scale intended for private devotion. These small paintings are quintessential expressions of the Rococo idiom, typified by lithe, elegant figures, a lush handling of the medium, and a preference for compositions based on the arabesque. Here, in the rustic subject of the Adoration of the Shepherds, Flemish painting and the oil sketches of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione are recalled, but in Boucher's hands the subject takes on a lightness and delicacy that distinguishes it from such sources.