A young lady holding a pug dog

François Bouchermid 1740s

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales

With his pupil Fragonard, François Boucher is rightly held to epitomise the rococo sensibility in French eighteenth-century painting. Refined in intelligence as much as in taste, Boucher's art is a celebration of surface, not superficiality. His love of silks, satins, velvets, furs and brocades is exceeded only by his devotion to the pearly properties of youthful skin, especially female skin. Whether painting the mythical subjects that characterise his larger commissions, or, as here, an intimate portrait of his wife, Marie-Jeanne Buseau, Boucher brought to the task an attention to detail and a sense of delight that are definitively rococo.This painting wittily, and not at either's expense, juxtaposes the very different beauties of a charming woman and her lapdog. The latter is a canine inclusion not without sexual connotation in the iconography of the period - though Boucher can hardly be thought to portray his spouse in the role of teasing mistress. The slightly generic cast of her face, echoing those of the nymphs and shepherdesses prolifically rendered by this artist, is attributable to the fact that Marie-Jeanne was Boucher's model for almost two decades.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

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  • Title: A young lady holding a pug dog
  • Creator: François Boucher
  • Date Created: mid 1740s
  • Physical Dimensions: 34.5 x 28.6 cm [oval] ; 49.0 x 42.5 x 7.5 cm frame
  • Provenance: C.J. Wertheimer, 1906, London/England, by 1906, listed in 'French art from Watteau to Prud'hon' by Joshua James Foster, vol.2 1906, as collection Wertheimer Joseph Bardac, 1907-pre 1925, Paris/France, by 1907, listed in 'François Boucher, premier peintre du roi' by Pierre de Nolhac 1907, as collection Joseph Bardac. Not listed in 1925 edition. Hector Pétin, 1932-1964, Paris/France, by 1932, lent by Hector Pétin to 'François Boucher (1703-1770)', Galerie Jean Charpentier 1932 Mme Hector Pétin, 1964-05 Mar 1970, Paris/France, by 1964, lent by Mme. Pétin to 'François Boucher: premier peintre du roi 1703-1770' Galerie Cailleux May-June 1964. Sold Palais Galliera, 5 March 1970, lot no.16 'Dessins, aquarelles et tableaux anciens; tableaux modernes; objet d'art; meubles et sièges; suites d'importantes tapisseries.' Agnew's, London, 05 Mar 1970-Oct 1970, London/England, Purchased by Agnew's from Palais Galliera, 5 March 1970, lot no. 16. Agnew's stock number 32603. Sold to James Fairfax, October 1970. Purchased by Fairfax from the exhibition 'Paintings and drawings from Agnew's London' held at David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney 7-24 October 1970. James Oswald Fairfax AC, Oct 1970-04 Jun 1992, Bowral/New South Wales/Australia, Gift of James Fairfax 1992. Purchased by James Fairfax from Agnew's 1970.
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gift of James Fairfax AC 1992
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Signature & Date: Not signed. Not dated.
  • Object Other Titles: Portrait of Madame Boucher; Presumed portrait of Madame Boucher
  • Object Alternate Title: Portrait présumé de Madame Boucher
  • Artist Country: France


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