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Department of Paintings: French painting

Family Taking Breakfast

© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

Paintings
French painting

Author(s):
Pomarède Vincent, Le Bourdellès Marie Claire

According to some commentators, this glimpse of domestic happiness portrays the artist's own family. An invaluable testimony to lifestyle at the time of Louis XV, the picture shows a rocaille interior complete with wall lamps, elaborate wall clock, exotic Chinese statuette, and indulgence in the current coffee craze.

A family portrait?

One of Boucher's rare excursions into the interior genre, this work has sometimes been interpreted as a family scene, with Madame Boucher seated on the right, their children, and on the left the painter's sister feeding the little girl. In an elegant sitting room the family is seen taking coffee, the latest luxury import. The relationships between the figures, the exchange of looks, and the little girl turning towards the viewer express a striving for simplicity and real intimacy. This was a time when approaches to raising children were changing and toys were being made for them: the girl, wearing a protective headband, holds a wooden horse and has a doll at her feet.

A rococo interior

Bursting with freshness and grace, this painting details a way of life less solemn than Chardin's. The painter of happiness is bent on telling all: he shows furniture, diverse objects, silk garments, and lacework in a way that echoes his varied fields of activity. As an ornamenter, for example, Boucher fitted out a number of royal residences; as a decorator/designer he worked for the theater and the opera, and created many tapestry designs for the royal manufactories at Beauvais and Les Gobelins. With its delicate blues, greens, ochres, and reds, this interior is suffused with a soft glow reflected in the richly gilded woodwork.

A Northern School view of the everyday

During the period 1739-46, this painter of mythological trysts extended his range to genre scenes influenced by the 17th-century Dutch masters and, most directly, by Jean-François de Troy. What he offers here is a view of the everyday - a moment of the simple happiness family life can bring.

Technical description

  • François BOUCHER (Paris, 1703 - Paris, 1770)

    Family Taking Breakfast

    1739

  • H. 0.81 m; W. 0.65 m

  • Bequest of Dr. Achille Malécot, 1895

    R.F. 926

  • Paintings

    Sully wing
    2nd floor
    18th-century genre painting
    Room 40

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