François Boucher, Pastoral Composition with Two Young Lovers, a chalk drawing

France, around AD 1750

This fine drawing is in black chalk with some white and yellow heightening. A pair of young lovers, clearly a shepherd and shepherdess play in a rustic setting surrounded by farm animals. Under a bower of vine leaves and with delicate eroticism, the young man leans over and undoes the bow of the girl's dress. She sleeps, though her gentle smile is brought out by the heightening used on her face.

Influenced by Watteau (1684-1721) and by contemporary theatre, Boucher (1703-70) reinvented the pastoral setting in art. Shepherds and shepherdesses as sentimental lovers were used in every medium from paintings, engravings to the decorative arts in the decoration of porcelain. The delicate yet firm outlines of the forms and varied shading in this drawing provided guidelines for the printmakers who copied it.

It was engraved by G.F. Schmidt (1712-75) and prints such as these were exploited commercially by Boucher to spread knowledge of his compositions throughout Europe. His decorative style typifies the Rococo of the eighteenth century, which he derived from his experience of making etchings after paintings and drawings by Watteau. He was one of the most successful artist of his age, becoming drawing master to Louis XVI's mistress, Madame de Pompadour, whom he advised on all her artistic projects. Finally he became Director of the French Royal Academy and First Painter to the King.

Find in the collection online

More information


M. Royalton-Kisch, H. Chapman and S. Coppel, Old Master drawings from the M, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)


Height: 233.000 mm
Width: 327.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1895-9-15-955



Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore