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A young lady holding a pug dog

mid 1740s


François Boucher


29 Sep 1703 - 30 May 1770


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.


Other Titles

Portrait of Madame Boucher

Presumed portrait of Madame Boucher

Alternative title

Portrait présumé de Madame Boucher


mid 1740s

Media category


Materials used

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

Accession number


Artist information

François Boucher

Works in the collection


Shown in 11 exhibitions

Exhibition history


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. 278

Alexandre Ananoff, François Boucher, Lausanne, 1976, vol.1, 384 (illus.). no. 268, 801

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Art Gallery of New South Wales, The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992, cover (colour illus). 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. 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, Christie's International Magazine, 'The James O. Fairfax collection', London, Oct 1994-Oct 1994, 7 (illus.).

Edmund Capon, Great philanthropists on trial : the art of the bequest, 'The James Fairfax collection', pg.126-135, Melbourne, 2006, 129.

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. 8

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, CXXXVIII, 388, '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, AGNSW 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.). 31

Galerie Charpentier, François Boucher (1703-1770), Paris, 1932, 44.

Galerie Seligmann, Portraits français, de 1400 à 1900, 1936, 42.

Galerie Seligmann, Réhabilitation du sujet, 1934, 27.

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. 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 38

Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1992 [for the year ended 30 June 1992], Sydney, 1992, 67.

Paintings and drawings from Agnew's, London, Sydney, 1970. 27

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