Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Boilly, Louis-Leopold

Young Woman Ironing
oil on canvas
40.7 x 32.4 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA, USA

Boilly's precise, intimate pictures, filled with anecdotal detail, were inspired by seventeenth-century Dutch paintings of daily life. This portrayal of a young laundress demonstrates Boilly's rich, warm color and masterful rendering of textures and materials.

Louis-Leopold Boilly (1761 - 1845) was a French prolific painter and draftsman. He was born in northern France, the son of a local wood sculptor. A self-taught painter, Boilly began his career at a very young age. A gifted creator of popular portrait paintings, he also produced a vast number of genre paintings vividly documenting French middle-class social life. His life and work spanned the eras of monarchical France, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Empire, the Bourbon Restoration and the July Monarchy. He meticulously recorded facial details and gestures, and his depictions of costumes and textiles are fascinating as a chronicle of fashion. Boilly's paintings and drawings, often tinged with humor, showcase his witty interpretation of urban life.

Boilly was a popular and celebrated artist of his time. He was awarded a medal by the Parisian Salon in 1804 for his work. In 1833 he was decorated as a chevalier of the nation's highest order, the Legion d'Honneur. He remains a highly regarded master of oil painting. Altogether he executed about 500 genre paintings and some 5,000 small portraits. He is also noted for his pioneering use of lithography.