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.
Curator insights - European galleries A young lady holding a pug dog
Portrait of Madame Boucher
Presumed portrait of Madame Boucher
Portrait présumé de Madame Boucher
oil on canvas
34.5 x 28.6 cm [oval] ; 49.0 x 42.5 x 7.5 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of James Fairfax AC 1992
Shown in 10 exhibitions
François Boucher (1703-1770), Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 09 Jun 1932–10 Jul 1932
Réhabilitation du sujet, Galerie Seligmann, Paris, 17 Nov 1934–09 Dec 1934
Portraits français, de 1400 à 1900, Galerie Seligmann, Paris, 09 Jun 1936–01 Jul 1936
François Boucher: premier peintre du roi 1703-1770, Galerie Cailleux, Paris, May 1964–Jun 1964
France in the eighteenth century, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 06 Jan 1968–03 Mar 1968
Paintings and drawings from Agnew's London, David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 07 Oct 1970–24 Oct 1970
'Private treasures': an exhibition of art from Australian private collectors covering a period of five centuries, David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 10 Jan 1978–21 Jan 1978
The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Apr 1992–14 Jun 1992
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Apr 2003–20 Jul 2003
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.
Referenced in 28 publications
Alexandre Ananoff, L'opera completa di Boucher, Milan, 1980, 107 (illus.), 108. cat.no. 278
Alexandre Ananoff, François Boucher, Lausanne, 1976, vol.1, 384 (illus.). no. 268, fig.no. 801
Art Gallery of New South Wales, The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992, cover (colour illus). no catalogue numbers
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers
Richard Beresford and Peter Raissis, The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, 36 (colour illus.), 37-39. cat.no. 7
Georges Brunel, Boucher, London, 1987, 44.
Jean Cailleux, The Burlington Magazine, 'Who was Boucher's best beloved?', Feb 1966, iv, v (illus.), vi. fig. 5, note 20
Edmund Capon, Great philanthropists on trial : the art of the bequest, 'The James Fairfax collection', pg.126-135, Melbourne, 2006, 129.
Edmund Capon, Christie's International Magazine, 'The James O. Fairfax collection', London, Oct 1994-Oct 1994, 7 (illus.).
Pierre du Colombier, Journal de l'Amateur d'Art [no.333], 'Francois Boucher', 10 Jun 1964, 17 (illus.).
David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, 'Private treasures': an exhibition of art from Australian private collectors covering a period of five centuries, Sydney, 1978. cat.no. 8
David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Paintings and drawings from Agnew's, London, 1970. cat.no. 27
Pierre de Nolhac, François Boucher, premier peintre du Rois, revised edition, Paris, 1925, opp. p. 168 (illus.). as formerly collection Bardac
Pierre de Nolhac, François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, Paris, 1907, opp. p. 98 (illus.). as collection Bardac
Catherin Fisher, Apollo, 'James Fairfax: a remarkable collector of old masters', pg. 3-8, London, Jun 1994, 4, 6. fig. 3
Joshua James Foster (Editor), French art from Watteau to Prud'hon, London, 1905-1906, vol.2, opp. p.104 (illus.). plate no. XXXI, 'A young lady holding a pug dog' as collection Wertheimer
Renée Free, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pg. 108-172, Sydney, 1994, 124 (colour illus.).
Galerie Cailleux, François Boucher: premier peintre du roi 1703-1770, Paris, 1964, (illus.). cat.no. 31
Galerie Charpentier, François Boucher (1703-1770), Paris, 1932, 44. cat.no.99
Galerie Seligmann, Réhabilitation du sujet, 1934, 27. cat.no.14
Galerie Seligmann, Portraits français, de 1400 à 1900, 1936, 42. cat.no.46
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Paintings and Sculpture', pg. 17-77, Sydney, 1999, 30 (colour illus.).
Royal Academy of Arts, France in the eighteenth century, London, 1968, 48. cat.no. 45
Regina Shoolman Slatkin, François Boucher: his circle and influence, 'A portrait by Boucher', pg.10-13, New York, 1987, 10. note 4
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, François Boucher, 1703-1770, New York, 1986, 196. under cat.no. 38
Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1992, Sydney, 1992, 67.
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Connoisseur, London, Sep 1964, 49.
Editor Unknown (Editor), Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 'Chronique des arts', Unknown, Mar 1993, 31 (illus.). no. 149