François Boucher

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François Boucher
The Nativity
ca. 1761-1762
Pen and brown ink and wash, red chalk wash, white chalk with wet brush, over black chalk.
11 5/16 x 14 11/16 inches (287 x 371 mm)
Thaw Collection.

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No fewer than twelve figures--including the Christ child--and eight farmyard animals inhabit Boucher's luminous Nativity. Inspired by the pastorals of the Italian artist Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione, this autonomous drawing is executed in a complex and layered mixed-media technique. Boucher first laid out the composition in a black chalk underdrawing and lightly washed the cream paper in red. He then delineated his cast of characters in pen and brown ink with very few revisions, emphasized certain details in the foreground with more insistent pen work, and finally added white chalk highlights to the lantern and the central group. -- Exhibition Label, from "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection"


Watermark: Lion with wheat and staff in circle surmounted by crown and tree; LIBERTE PRO PATRIA EIUSQUE in outer circle, VRYHEYT on base. Seven provinces. (central medallion similar to Churchill 84: 1746).

Possibly Etienne Maurice Falconet (1716-1791), Paris; sale (including drawings belonging to Falconet), Hotel Druout, Paris, 10 December 1866, among either lot 18, 37 or 42; Henri Michel-Lévy, Paris; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 12-13 May 1919, lot 48; Galerie Cailleux, Paris; Hector Petin, Paris; Mme Hector Petin, Paris; sale, Piasa, Paris, 4 December 2002, lot 65, repr.; Agnew's, London; Flavia Ormond Fine Arts, Ltd., London; Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw, New York.
Associated names: 

Falconet, Etienne, 1716-1791, former owner.
Michel-Lévy, Henri, 1844-1914, former owner.
Petin, Hector, former owner.
Petin, Hector, Mme, former owner.
Thaw, Eugene Victor, former owner.
Thaw, Clare, former owner.


The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, NY, "Drawn to Greatness: Master Drawings from the Thaw Collection", 2017. Exh. cat., no. 20, repr.
The Thaw collection of master drawings : acquisitions since 2002. New York : Morgan Library & Museum, 2009, no. 12, repr.
From Leonardo to Pollock: Master drawings from the Morgan Library. New York: Morgan Library, 2006, cat. no. 78, p. 164-165.

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