François Boucher

The focus of this powerful drawing is not Boucher’s model but the yards of voluminous cloth enveloping her, resulting in a study that approaches abstraction. The artist used black chalk to create an outline and shadows, white chalk to produce shimmering highlights, and buff-colored paper to suggest flesh and give the fabric color and volume. The figure’s carefully considered pose is graceful yet monumental, delineating a semicircle with her upper body and arms. The study may have served as the model for Cleopatra in Boucher’s etched frontispiece for an edition of the French playwright Pierre Corneille’s tragedy Rodogune: Princess of Parthia.

François Boucher
French, 1703–1770
Study of a draped woman leaning on a pedestal,1759–61
Black chalk, with stumping, and white chalk, on buff paper
The Art Institute of Chicago, gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray; 2019.835
Gray Collection Trust, Art Institute of Chicago
Photography by Art Institute of Chicago Imaging Department