François Boucher, ‘Saint John the Baptist, half-length, in profile facing to the right’, Christie's Old Masters

Ananoff related this drawing to an early painting by Boucher, the Venus and Adonis of 1733 now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Nancy (Ananoff and Wildenstein, op. cit., I, no. 86). The figure in the painting faces left, while the one in the drawing faces right. But as Regina Slatkin (op. cit.) has shown, the subject of the drawing is more likely Saint John the Baptist although no known composition can be connected with it.

Alastair Laing, whom we thank for his kind help in cataloguing this lot, has suggested it was actually sketched from an Italian painting. The oval, into which it seems to have been drawn rather than cut to fit, might support such an idea.

A. Ananoff and D. Wildenstein, François Boucher, Fribourg, 1976, I, pp. 220-1, no. 86/2, fig. 369.

R. Slatkin, 'François Boucher: St. John the Baptist: A Study in Religious Imagery', The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Bulletin, 1976, p. 17 and fig. 26.

Sir Bruce Ingram.

H.W. Mapleton-Bree, London.

with Charles E. Slatkin Galleries, New York, where acquired in 1967 by David Daniels, New York; Sotheby's, London, 25 April 1978, lot 65.

About François Boucher

In 1765, François Boucher was awarded the two highest honors among the French arts establishment—appointed as first painter to the king and head of The Royal Academy. Boucher was one of the most celebrated decorative artists of the 18th century, known for formulating and championing the style of Rococo through revival of the idealized, pastoral landscape. Born in France, Boucher moved to Italy in 1728 where was immersed in the Italian countryside and the study of Baroque, 17th-century Dutch landscape painters, and 18th-century Venetian works. Upon return to Paris, he began producing large-scale mythological paintings, combining his early reference points in a playful, lighthearted way. Boucher pictured a landscape filled with shepherdesses and classical divinities, combining the traditional innocence of rural pastoral views with his decorative allegories, erotic scenes, and voluptuous forms.

French, 1703 - 1770 , Paris, France, based in Paris, France