Texas museum showcases Boucher drawings, paintings

— He drew with expression and detail, using soft red chalk to portray a nude woman reclining, and pen and ink to bring to life religious and mythological scenes.

Francois Boucher, the 18th-century draftsman who became the premiere painter for France's King Louis XV, drew some 10,000 pictures during his career. Many were sketched for his students, in preparation for a painting or to refine his work.

Fort Worth's Kimbell Art Museum showcases 80 of his drawings in "Genius of the French Rococo: The Drawings of Francois Boucher (1703-1770)." The exhibit, which includes many pieces never seen in the United States, opens today and runs through April 18.

Celebrating the 300th anniversary of Boucher's birth, it is the first major exhibit of his graphic work on loan from major museums and private collections in this country and Europe.

Because the Kimbell owns four Boucher paintings, museum curators decided to hold a simultaneous exhibit, "Boucher's Mythological Paintings: The Last Great Series Reunited." It includes two paintings on loan from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Boucher painted those six works -- most of them measuring about 9 feet-by-6 1/2 feet -- for the Hotel Bergeret de Frouville in Paris about a year before he died on May 30, 1770. The paintings have not been together for decades and have never been displayed with his drawings.

Boucher was born in Paris and learned from painters there, then studied in Rome in the late 1720s. He later returned to France, where he drew designs for engravers, tapestries, the theater and book illustrations.

He taught at a drawing academy and, being considered the best artist of his time, became the painter for King Louis XV, in 1765.

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