Born on 29 September 1703, Francois Boucher was perhaps the most celebrated painter and decorative artist of the 18th century and is mainly known for his idyllic and voluptuous paintings on classical themes, decorative allegories, and pastoral scenes. Although his early works celebrate the idyllic and tranquil portrayal of nature and landscapes, soon he became inspired by the works of artists like Peter Paul Rubens and Antoine Watteau and abdicated the traditional rural innocence to portray scenes with a definitive style of eroticism. It is evidently reflected in his paintings of mythological scenes, which are passionately intimate and intimately erotic rather than a traditional depiction of the epic. As a master of playful eroticism, Boucher’s works for the French court were designed to titillate, but they always maintained an innocent tone, regardless of the numbers of appealing girls and intimate coupes that fill his canvases. Nevertheless, it is for the lively fleshy scenes that Boucher is most celebrated.
Housed in the Louvre in Paris, Diana Getting out of Her Bath, a 1742 painting in oil on canvas by Francois Boucher, depicts Diana, the Roman goddess of the hunt and the moon, equated with the Greek goddess Artemis, assisted at her bath after hunting by a beautiful nude nymph. Diana, often described in mythological stories as a strong, athlete, and bow-wielding huntress, is presented by the artist as a charmingly innocent girl, unabashedly nude. While the goddess is reclined on a blue, silky drapery in the middle of lush woods, wearing nothing but a crescent moon, pearls, and ribbons in her hair, the assisting nymph is slightly bent to the ground with her eyes concentrated on Diana’s tilted right leg and toes. The exposed feminine bodies are exquisitely depicted in bright colours and delicate brush strokes to bring the mythical figures into the scope of aesthetic worldly enjoyments. The bow and the arrows of the young goddess lie on the ground beside her, next to the hunted hare and birds, and her hunting hounds are shown drinking from a stream in the background.
Born to Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo, Diana is portrayed in the mythological stories as a symbol of chastity, and Boucher used this thin mythological guise to explore the beauties of her body. With exquisite delicacy he painted the gentle point of Diana’s feet, the languid tern of her slender, but strong body, the gleam of light emanation from the left sensuously highlighting every appealing curve and line of both the women’s figures. While Diana’s nipples are naughtily detailed by the artist daubed a rosy red, the creamy complexions, fair hair, rosebud lips and rounded bodies of the women are evidently feminine and innocently titillating, adding to the sense of a romantically charming world.
The scene depicting Diana Getting out of Her Bath is a masterpiece of guiltless voyeuristic pleasure and is believed by many as the most artistic nude painting by Francois Boucher. First exhibited at the Salon of 1742 as part of a series of small sensuous works destined to decorate the private gallery of some collector, it was eventually acquired by the Louvre in 1852, where it is now exhibited.
The figures in the painting were reported to be the special model in the studio, known as the Miufei sisters, who could perform what the painter intended to depict. On his turn, Francois Boucher gave the painting full modeling accuracy which was worthy of a masterpiece of Boucher.