L’Amour Oiseleur (L’Eté)
François Boucher, French, L’Amour Oiseleur (L’Eté), 1732-1733, oil on canvas; 71.1 x 72.1 cm (28 x 28 3/8 inches), Anonymous gift 64.115
Plump, naked children known as “putti” have appeared in Western art since the Renaissance. Emerging from the ranks of angelic choirs, they often represent mischievous and frisky heralds of love. In the 18th century their role was to amuse and delight, whether in service to a mythological figure or in fraternal bands such as this group of bird-catchers. The French court, particularly King Louis XV’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour, favored François Boucher’s treatment of classical and amorous themes. His voluptuous subjects reflected Rococo taste in fashion and decorative arts and represented a dominant style in both easel painting and interior decoration. Boucher excelled at setting his joyous figures in nature, as in this scene—one of a series based on the activities of putti—in which he celebrates the charms of summer.