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Landscape with a Watermill
François Boucher
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A weathered but picturesque watermill sits in a landscape that includes several idealised peasants engaged in tasks such as fishing, collecting water and washing clothes. Although this landscape has an air of decorative artificiality, even theatricality, Boucher includes sufficient detail to suggest it may have some basis in his direct observation of an actual place, possibly on the river Seine west of Paris.

Watermills were a popular subject among eighteenth-century French artists, who looked to pictures of them by Dutch painters of the previous century. But there are also echoes here of the seventeenth-century French artist Claude, particularly in Boucher’s use of tall trees to frame the scene as if it were a stage set. Against a pale sky, the entire landscape is suffused with silvery-green tones which Boucher counterbalances with areas of brighter colour, most notably the items of red clothing. The painting shows his characteristically fluid handling of paint.

Key facts
Artist François Boucher
Artist dates 1703 - 1770
Full title Landscape with a Watermill
Date made 1755
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 57.2 x 73 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bought, 1966
Inventory number NG6374
Location in Gallery Room 33
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