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Beautiful Country Woman, c. 1732

François Boucher

French, 1703-1770
Oil on canvas
16-1/8 x 12 in. (41.0 x 30.5 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Jennifer Jones Simon
M.1999.1.P
© 2012 Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

In the decades before he was appointed first painter to King Louis XV in 1765, François Boucher painted many cabinet-sized pictures of a wide variety of subjects for private collectors. Although best known for his sensuous mythological and pastoral paintings, during this early period Boucher also experimented with subjects from everyday life, including peasant “low-life” scenes inspired by seventeenth-century Northern European art. The Beautiful Country Woman (La Belle Villageoise) lacks the coarse or satirical features often associated with Dutch paintings of this subject, however. Instead, Boucher treats with great sympathy the young country woman surrounded by her three robust yet scruffy children in a humble domestic interior. In front of the family, on the kitchen floor, Boucher has rendered a Dutch-inspired still life of copper pots and plump root vegetables to underscore the association between peasant life, simplicity and closeness to nature.

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