July 29, 2021

immersed in the painting of desire in the 18th century

Buttocks, buttocks, buttocks … But not only: there are also small plump tootsies, alluring hollows of the neck, fiery kisses, ecstatic female faces, sheets and eiderdowns turned upside down by no one. knows what excesses. In around sixty paintings, drawings and prints, the Cognacq-Jay museum, in the 3e arrondissement of Paris, draws up a selected inventory of the 18th century lover’s imaginatione century, starting with that of François Boucher (1703-1770).

Of the one who was the first painter of Louis XV (known as “the Bien-Aimé”) and lived part of his young years under the regency of the Duke of Orleans, which we know was rather agitated from the point of view of manners, we especially know of nice shepherdesses chatting in an idyllic countryside with shepherds too beautiful to be true. The exhibition, entitled “The Empire of the Senses”, highlights another side of the artist’s work, more reserved for alcoves than living rooms. Because let us remember: these paintings were seen by very few people, except their owners.

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It is a deliberate choice of Annick Lemoine, the curator (the majority of the speakers in this exhibition, as in the catalog, are women), – to whom we already owe a salty evocation of the “Bas-fonds du Baroque”, formerly presented at the Medici villa in Rome then at the Petit-Palais museum in Paris -, than to focus on “The most extreme licentious iconographies”… She does this in three large sections, which follow the desire from her birth to her satisfaction, divided into eight rooms.

The suggestive power of artists

The first two are devoted to “the object of desire” and show how it is transmitted, from Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) to François Boucher, to Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) then to Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732) -1806); accompanied by some lesser-known figures such as those of Antoine Pesne (1683-1757) and Pierre-Antoine Baudouin (1723-1769) – we show him a reader who read only with one hand and abandoned his work to continue the other his work – or Gabriel de Saint-Aubin (1724-1780), is therefore transmitted a theme that uses metaphor, allusion, suitable to awaken the senses of the spectators, but also of the spectators.

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From room to room, we thus pass from “Loves of the gods”, very practical since the Renaissance for painters wishing to show undressed people, to “Figures of the voyeur” which send back to back satyrs and spectators, ambiguous reports of painters. with their model to the “Naked offered”, from the preliminaries (“From caresses to the kiss”) to the conclusions (“L’Entrelacs des corps”). In all cases, the drawing, the color, but also the touch, show the suggestive powers of the artists.

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