The celebrated French artist Edme Bouchardon (1698–1762) is primarily known as a sculptor today, but his contemporaries widely lauded him as a draftsman as well. Talented, highly innovative, and deeply invested in the medium, Bouchardon made an important contribution to the European art and culture of his time, and in particular to the history of drawing. Around two thousand of his drawings survive—most of which bear no relation, conceptual or practical, to his sculpture—yet, remarkably, little scholarly attention has been paid to this aspect of his oeuvre. This is the first book-length work devoted to the artist’s draftsmanship since 1910.
Ambitious in scope, this volume offers a compelling narrative that effectively covers four decades of Bouchardon’s activity as a draftsman—from his departure for Rome in 1723 as an aspiring student to his death in Paris in 1762, by which time he was one of the most renowned artists in Europe. His accomplished and dynamic style is analyzed and copiously illustrated in a series of five interrelated chapters that serve as case studies, each of which focuses on a coherent group of drawings from a particular period of Bouchardon’s career.