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Lot Number: 396
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Estimate Range: $3,000 - $6,000
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François Boucher (1703–1770) Decorative Hand-Painted French Coin Scale with Weights In Original Box c. 1750 by The First Painter to the King and Director of the Royal Academy

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c. 1750 Colonial & King Louis XV Era, Signed by Artist “L. Boucher” (François Boucher 1703–1770) Decorative Hand-Painted Original Box including Coin Scale with Weights, French, Choice Very Fine+ to Extremely Fine.

A spectacular, historic and Artistically important Decorative Hand-Painted French Coin Scale with Weights, in its Original Box, made c. 1750. The artist, François Boucher was a French painter, a proponent of Rococo taste, known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories representing the arts or pastoral occupations, intended as a sort of two-dimensional furniture. He was perhaps the most celebrated decorative artist of the 18th century.

Upon his return from studying in Italy in 1731, he was admitted to the “Académie de peinture et de sculpture” as a historical painter, and became a faculty member in 1734. His career accelerated from this point, as he advanced from professor, to Rector of the Academy, becoming head of the Royal Gobelins Manufactory in 1755, and finally Premier Peintre du Roi (First Painter of the King) in 1765.

According to The Metropolitan Museum Of Art of New York; “More than any other artist, François Boucher (1703–1770) is associated with the formulation of the mature Rococo Style and its dissemination throughout Europe. Among the most prolific of his generation, he worked in virtually every medium and every genre, creating a personal idiom that found wide reproduction in print form. He was highly adept at marketing his work, providing designs for all manner of decorative arts, from porcelain to tapestry. Boucher's insistence on a painterly surface and adoption of a high-toned palette favoring blues and pinks was well suited to Rococo interiors, but was the target of critical derision late in his career when the style fell from favor.

Denis Diderot, whose opinion on Boucher's merit was decidedly mixed, famously wrote of him in his review of the 1761 Salon, "Cet homme a tout—excepté la vérité" (That man is capable of everything—except the truth). Boucher's most original contribution to Rococo painting was his reinvention of the pastoral, a form of idealized landscape populated by shepherds and shepherdesses in silk dress, enacting scenes of erotic and sentimental love.” His wide-ranging production soon graced the walls of an equally wide-ranging clientele, from King Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, and Count Carl Gustav Tessin, Swedish ambassador to Paris, to bourgeois collectors of much more modest means. In 1765, he was appointed to the two highest positions in the French arts establishment: First Painter to the King and Director of the Royal Academy.

Housed within its beautiful Hand-Carved and François Boucher Hand-Painted Wooden Case with its original Brass hinges and hasps intact, measuring about 5” x 2.25” (126 x 55mm). There is a Printed Weight and Value Chart in black, upon white period paper pasted to the upper inner lid with a small 1/4” chip out of the bottom center. Listed there are Coins which include traditional French Gold Louis, Silver écus and five-franc pieces, plus coins of Britain, Spain, Holland, Austria, Papal, Italian and German States. The scale includes a 100mm steel balance beam which supports two 45.4mm round Brass pans, plus having compartments holding four brass sheet weights and one larger steel weight.

The wooden case is Hand-Painted by François Boucher with a full-color scene of country aristocracy upon its outer lid. The outer lid is beautifully decorated with an impressive, very colorful Painting of family members with bird cages being admired, Signed by artist “L. Boucher” at the bottom right. Only slight wear is apparent at the extreme outer rim edges of the top and bottom, as would be expected. The other four sides and the bottom bear an outstanding gold and green geometric pattern, creating a stunning ornate overall design. (Set of 6 pieces & box).
François Boucher (1703–1770), from a humble background, Boucher initially supported himself as a printmaker and designer of book illustration. Around 1726–28, he was employed by Jean de Jullienne (1686–1766) making etchings after drawings by Antoine Watteau (1684–1721). These activities eventually financed his trip to Italy in 1728, where his interests seem to have been largely focused on masters of the Baroque.

Although the influence of the Italian countryside and the Dutch landscape painters who worked there in the seventeenth century can be felt in such early works as Capriccio View from the Campo Vaccino (1982.60.44), Boucher also clearly studied Venetian eighteenth-century painting and the bravura handling of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione's rustic caravans and animals.

Returning to Paris around 1731, Boucher increasingly turned his attention to large-scale mythological painting and soon found official recognition in the form of royal commissions and membership at the Royal Academy, where he was reçu (received) in 1734.

His wide-ranging production soon graced the walls of an equally wide-ranging clientele, from King Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour, and Count Carl Gustav Tessin, Swedish ambassador to Paris, to bourgeois collectors of much more modest means. In 1765, he was appointed to the two highest positions in the French arts establishment: first painter to the king and director of the Royal Academy.

Paintings and Theater:

Boucher's most original contribution to Rococo painting was his reinvention of the pastoral, a form of idealized landscape populated by shepherds and shepherdesses in silk dress, enacting scenes of erotic and sentimental love. This form was closely tied to contemporary comic operas, especially those produced for the Théâtre de la Foire by Boucher's friend Charles-Simon Favart (1710–1792), for whom he occasionally produced stage and costume designs. The Interrupted Sleep (49.7.46), painted as an overdoor for Madame de Pompadour's château at Bellevue, exemplifies this type of subject matter. A fetching shepherdess, clad in ivory-colored silk, lacking all trace of dirt or labor, is asleep and vulnerable to the mischief of a shepherd boy, tickling her cheek with a piece of straw.

Likewise painted for the Royal Mistress is The Toilet of Venus, an exquisite cabinet painting in which the surface has been brought to a high state of polish, setting off the pearly flesh tones of Venus and the sumptuous fabrics that surround her. Admired as an amateur dancer and actress, Madame de Pompadour had played the title role in a production of La Toilette de Vénus staged at Versailles in 1750, perhaps the inspiration for the painting.
Lot Number: 396
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Estimate Range: $3,000 - $6,000
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