François Boucher
Interrupted Sleep

Click on the picture to see an enlarged version.

    • Oil on Canvas, 1750
    • Metropolitan Museum of Art

In this charming scene, a young herder of goats is using a feather to tickle the neck of a sleeping shepherdess who has fallen asleep after picking some flowers. This totally unrealistic picture -- notice the handsome dress of the young girl, and the huge flowers which would never have grown in the wild -- was part of an extremely popular genre: the shepherdess and her swain.

In his version, Boucher has faithfully followed the pattern, indeed he did much to popularize it throughout France. To the sophisticated ladies and gentlemen of the court, this country-side idyl was a symbol of innocence and purity. Here, in touch with nature, people were assumed to be more "natural" and closer to Rouseau's ideal of the perfect human.

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