Edited by Melissa Hyde and Mark Ledbury
François Boucher (1703–1770) has suffered a curious fate: to have been so identified with the French Rococo as to have lost his visibility as an artist in his own right. Rethinking Boucher reclaims the artist's individuality, revealing not only the diversity of his talents but also the variety of visual and intellectual traditions with which he engaged.
In part one, "The Various Boucher," Melissa Hyde, Colin Bailey, and Martin Schieder examine the artist's identity in relation to his portraits and self-portraits, his ingenious genre scenes, and his overlooked religious paintings. In part two, "The Unexpected Boucher," Katie Scott, Mark Ledbury, and Mary D. Sheriff focus on the network of social and cultural contexts in which the artist functioned, including the commercial print market, the theaters of Paris, and the contemporary textual explorations of the exotic. In the final part, "The Enlightened Boucher," René Démoris, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, and Thomas M. Kavanagh discuss Boucher's work as a vehicle for Enlightenment visions of the body, whether conjured by Denis Diderot and Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Madame de Pompadour—Boucher's most famous patron.
Melissa Hyde is associate professor of art history at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Mark Ledbury is associate director of the Research and Academic Program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts.