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The Cover
December 16, 1998

Allegory of Music

JAMA. 1998;280(23):1972. doi:10.1001/jama.280.23.1972

He had a brilliant career at a brilliant court in the century of The Enlightenment. The glitter of the court did not survive even the century of its birth, but the pink and blue confections of François Boucher (1703-1770) remain as fresh and as charming—and frivolous—as the day the King's mistress ordered them. Born in Paris during the waning years of the reign of Louis XIV, young François was taught design and draftsmanship by his father, Nicolas Boucher, a lace maker. By the time Boucher died, some 67 years later, also in Paris, he had attained what, in anyone's book, would be called the summit of success. He was First Painter to the King, Louis XV, Director of the Royal Academy, and head of both the Gobelins and Beauvais manufactories. In his private life he had a wife, a son, and two daughters. He had the most visible of all the marks of the King's favor, apartments at the Louvre, then the royal palace. And although neither the King nor the Queen apparently had any strong feelings for (or against) art, the King's mistress, Madame de Pompadour, did. It was through her influence that Boucher secured much of his court success and financial security. The talent, the skill, and the genius, on the other hand, were solely his.

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