Voluptuous Taste, indeed! "La Volupte du Gout: French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour" is a wonderful french painting exhibit at the Portland Art Museum. Last Thursday I stopped by to see the exhibit of ornate, rococo paintings by the likes of Francois Boucher who was one of many artists patronized by Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV. During the 1700's Europe was experiencing a birth of reason and scientific curiosity. Apart from this surge of intellectualism, Boucher's paintings were entirely fantastic, sensual and aesthetic. Madame de Pompadour, one of the most intelligent, well-spoken and politically powerful women of her age, supported this almost purely decorative art and filled her residential halls with it, creating a diverting and erotically charged atmosphere for her lover, the king.
It's a little bit embarrassing at times, looking at these paintings. There seems to be a slight whiff of pedophilia amongst the trailing flowers and friendly animals... naked cherubs lolling about and bare breasts abound.
I did read that Boucher was the son of a lace maker. The photo below of him does show him well-adorned with that particular textile.
There is no question that the paintings are gorgeous, and as I personally have always loved looking at beautiful clothing, (along with the all the fat nakedness Boucher painted lots and lots of beautiful clothing) I loved it!
The next night none other than the AMAZING ADAM GOPNIK came to the museum to speak about art in the age of Madame de Pompadour. It was great, like taking an art history course from the art critic of the New Yorker (which of course, it was!). I've loved Adam Gopnik's writing ever since I read his book "Paris to the Moon", and then fell in love again with "Through the Children's Gate". Both books are fantastic accounts of two of my favorite cities, Paris and New York. Plus, he's hilarious.
"La Volupte du Gout: French Painting in the Age of Madame de Pompadour" is at the museum until May 17th. Tres bien!