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    Signed & dated l.l. Bouchet 1850, inscribed l.m. Panneau arabesque dans le style du 16 siècle

    Watercolour with pen & ink and gouache

    30 x 20 cm



    Private collection of the artist's drawings, Italy





    This study for a decorative panel with grotesque motifs depicts, in the centre of the composition, the sculptural group of Cupid and Psyche which is now in the collection of the Capitoline Museums; and, at the base of the composition, the scene of Mars and Venus surprised by the gods, derived from Room 21 of the Domus Aurea, Pompeii, reproduced here in reverse.



    Bouchet was born in Paris, and began his career as a student of the polymath Charles Perrier (1764-1838), an artist and designer who was to have a deep lasting impact on his protegé. In 1822, Bouchet was awarded the Second Grand Prix at the École des Beaux-Arts in the category of architecture for his design for an opera-house interior, and seems to have either had the funds or found sponsorship that enabled him to spend three years in Italy, though not at the French Academie, between 1825-1828. Like his teacher Percier, Bouchet made a rigorous and close-study of Roman antiquities and architecture, and its influence on the arts of the Renaissance in turn. The trip generated two important publications – an illustrated work on the Villa Pia, a building in the Vatican Gardens designed by the architect Pirro Ligorio; and a series of twenty-seven engraved plates for a work on Pompei titled La Maison du poète tragique (‘The House of the Tragic Poet’). This was one of the first significant studies of Pompeian architecture, and several of the original watercolours and drawings for the series were sold from the same collection as this sheet in 2024 in Italy. 



    The year after he returned to Paris, Bouchet was appointed as inspector to oversee the reconstruction of the Bibliothèque Royale, a major project which was a testament to his growing reputation. Another major commission came in 1834, with the reconstruction of the Cour de Cassation (the French Supreme Court). He was assisted in the latter project by the Italian architect Ludovico Visconti, with whom he would cross paths again almost two decades later: Visconti was the architect who designed Napoleon’s tomb, upon which work began in 1842; however, the Italian died in 1853, whereupon Bouchet succeeded him as chief architect and chief inspector. 




    Bouchet was not just a practical architect but a gifted draughtsman, and exhibited regularly at the Salon from the 1830s to the 1850s. Among his drawings are a number of fine interiors, with works in public collections across Europe and the U.S. He was active as a teacher, and supervised the printmaking class at the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures. Here, he produced two treatises for his students on drawing and on linear perspective.


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