Black and white chalks with stumping and red chalk on beige laid paper
Support: Beige(1) laid paper, laid down on beige laid paper
Sheet: 37.7 x 22.2 cm (14 13/16 x 8 3/4 in.); Secondary Support: 39.6 x 24.2 cm (15 9/16 x 9 1/2 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1952.529
Catalogue raisonné: Michel 2554?; Ananoff 968?
While translating this drawing into etching, the printmaker Gabriel Huquier replaced Boucher's grotto setting with an architectural niche.
In this early chalk drawing, François Boucher combined plants, dolphins, rocks, shells, and tritons (mythological creatures that are part man and part fish) into a design that was meant to suggest a fountain in a rocky garden grotto. This sheet represents l'art rocaille, or "rock and shell art," a style of ornament that developed in France during the 1730s and featured decorative compositions with abundant detail. The image was one of seven that the printmaker Gabriel Huquier translated as etchings around the time Boucher completed them. These reproductions helped to bring Boucher's work to a broader audience, including other artists who emulated his style.
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