The master of French rococo gave free rein to his virtuosity and movement in this preparatory study.
François Boucher (1703-1770), preparatory study for the man on the right of Vénus aux forges de Vulcain, pierre noire, stump and white chalk highlights on blue paper, signed “F. Boucher”, 24.8 x 25.3 cm/9.76 x 9.96 in.
Drawings always reveal a painter’s mastery. In this work, François Boucher demonstrates beautiful strokes with pierre noire and a stump, bringing this man’s body to life in a style that is still "very jerky, with beautiful matter and intense blacks, and quite early in his career, typical of the years 1740-1750," according to expert Patrick de Bayser, who also says that "Afterwards, his drawings became less brittle and powerful”.
This beautiful drawing is probably a preparatory study for his famous painting Vénus aux forges de Vulcain (Venus at the Forges of Vulcan), of which several variations exist. The grisaille sketch at the Louvre is noticeably different from the final painting, presented at the 1757 Salon, which has a more restrained composition and fewer figures. The man reproduced there, to the right, can be found, but in reverse due to a tapestry technique, in the Gobelins tapestry of the same name. Boucher collaborated with the workshop for many years, providing Jean-Baptiste Oudry with cartoons from the late 1730s and succeeding him as inspector there in 1755. These works are related to the important 1750s commission for the tapestry Amours des dieux (Loves of the Gods), which was woven starting in 1759.