Lot 208
  • 208

François Boucher

60,000 - 80,000 GBP
25,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • François Boucher
  • The little alchemist, or an Allegory of Chemistry
  • signed and dated lower centre: FBoucher 1769
  • oil on canvas
  • 62.5 by 51.5 cm.; 24 5/8  by 20 1/4  in.


Louis-Auguste Alfred Beurdeley (1808–82), Paris;
By whom sold, Paris, Hôtel des Ventes Mobilières, 18 December 1855, lot 5;
Sale, Paris, Hôtel des Commissaires-Priseurs, 28 May 1863, lot 48;
Baur collection;
Joseph Fau, Paris;
His sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 9 March 1874, lot 25;
Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 17 April 1875, lot 5;
With Auguste Sichel, Paris;
His sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, 1-5 March 1886, lot 179, where acquired by Settiner;
Sir Charles Hedworth Mills, 4th Baron Hillingdon (1922-1978), England;
Private collection, London, until 1951, when acquired.


Milwaukee, Art Institute, The Story of Medicine in Art, 11 September-25 October 1953, no. 498;
New York, Wildenstein, Francois Boucher, 12 November-19 December 1980, no. 37;
Tokyo, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Francois Boucher, 24 April-23 June 1982, and Kumamoto, Prefectural Museum of Art, 3 July-22 August 1982, no. 70.


L. Soullié and C. Masson in A. Michel, François Boucher, Paris 1906, p. 68, cat. no. 1231;
G. Pannier in P. de Nolhac (ed.), François Boucher, premier peintre du roi, Paris 1907, p. 144;
The Story of Medicine in Art, exhibition catalogue, Milwaukee 1953, cat. no. 498;
A. Ananoff, François Boucher, Lausanne and Paris 1976, vol. II, pp. 288-89, cat. no. 663 and p. 69, under cat. no. 365/3, reproduced in colour p. 200, and p. 289, fig. 1737;
A. Ananoff, L'opera completa di Boucher, Milan 1980, pp. 141, cat. no. 701, reproduced;
D. Sutton François Boucher, exhibition catalogue, Tokyo 1982, cat. no. 70, reproduced in colour p. 104 and 183.

Catalogue Note

The design is closely related to a similar work by Boucher of the same subject which is one element of a decorative scheme of eight allegorical panels entitled The Arts and Sciences. The series, which is thought to have been painted around 1751 for Madame de Pompadour’s Château de Crécy, is now in the Frick Collection, New York.1 The Frick version was engraved by Claude Duflos the Younger (1700-1786). The composition of the present version was the basis for a Gobelins tapestry woven by Jacques Neilson (1714-1788), two examples of which were sold Paris, Drouot-Richelieu, 4 June 1993, lot 220, and 14 December 1994, lot 71.

A copy, en grisaille, was at one stage on the Paris art market.

We are grateful to Alastair Laing for endorsing the attribution after seeing the original.

1. See Ananoff 1980, under Literature, pp. 117-18, cat. no. 387, reproduced.