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Jan 2012

The Four Seasons: Winter, by François Boucher

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2012;14(1):76-77. doi:10.1001/archfaci.14.1.76

Decadent, frivolous, light, elitist. These words are often used to describe François Boucher and his art. This is largely because of the culture that arose in France immediately following his heyday, namely the French Revolution and the belief that the aristocracy had robbed the common man in order to feed its taste for luxury. Prior to the French Revolution, rococo was the style favored by the French Court (first by Louis XV and then during the first portion of the reign of Louis XVI). Rococo is a style based on the French word rocaille, meaning stone, and referring to the shell and stone grottos that were popular during the Renaissance. Rococo sought to celebrate nature and all the joys of the Enlightenment. The focus on natural forms gave way to a more decorative interpretation that culminated with an abundance of asymmetrical C-scroll designs and fantastical pastoral landscapes. Boucher was an artist who is not only associated with the Rococo style of art but in many ways was responsible for its popularity and profusion during the 17th century in France. During this time, France was seen as the cultural capital of the western world. The best of art, fashion, and philosophy came from within its borders. To speak French was to be sophisticated and fully educated. It was also a time of great financial upheaval. France had switched to a paper currency, and through much of this time they were at peace with Great Britain, for a change. Many were making and losing fortunes by speculating on the burgeoning colonial markets. The rich were growing wealthier while the middle class was often left out.

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