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Property from a New York Academic’s Collection

A young woman at the top of stairs outside a rustic building

A young woman at the top of stairs outside a rustic building
with inscription ‘f. Boucher’ (lower left)
black chalk
8 ¾ x 6 ¾ in. (22.2 x 16.9 cm)
Henry Oppenheimer (1859-1932), London; Christie’s, London, 10-14 July 1936, lot 414.
Joseph Gruss (1903-1993), New York.
Anonymous sale; Christie’s, New York, 12 January, 1995, lot 99.
F. Joulie, Boucher et les peintres du Nord, exhib. cat., Dijon, Musée Magnin, and London, The Wallace Collection, 2004, p. 89, n. 138.
X. Salmon, Dansez, embrassez qui vous voudrez. Fêtes et plaisirs d'amour au siècle de Madame de Pompadour, exhib. cat., Lens, Musée du Louvre-Lens, 2015, p. 167.

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Lot Essay

From the 1740s onwards, François Boucher developed an interest in Northern painters, resulting in works such as the present drawing, as it is based on the composition of a drawing by Cornelis Saftleven in the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Archéologie in Besançon (inv. D 295; see Joulie, op. cit., no. 59, ill.). Another version by Boucher of the same composition is in the Musée du Louvre, Paris (inv. RF 28993; see ibid., no. 58, ill.). This latter version differs more from Saftleven’s original, and is more characteristic of Boucher’s own style: the light that illuminates the figures, the objects piled up on the ground, the addition of several figures who enliven the composition, as well as the complexity of the architectural details. Boucher did not simply copy, but reinterpreted the composition. In Saftleven’s drawing, the young woman on the balcony is conversing with a young man, whereas in the present work she is alone, simply looking down at the stairs. The barred window in Saftleven’s work was transformed by Boucher into an alcove with a flowerpot. A red chalk drawing by Hubert of the same subject, dated 1774, is based on the same idea, while reflecting the artist’s own manner (Minneapolis Institute of Arts, inv. 68.53.7).

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