Greuze has made himself a painter-preacher of good morals, Baudouin, a painter-preacher of bad; Greuze, a painter of the family and of respectable people Baudouin, a painter of rakes and houses of ill repute
(Diderot Salon of 1765)
Pierre-Antoine Baudouin (1723-69) was an artist for the mid-century world of irresponsible pleasures and frivolous societies.... A pupil of Boucher, he took his master's work to one logical conclusion with a prolific oeuvre of mildly erotic and highly popular miniature boudoir scenes in gouache. In 1758 he had married Boucher's beautiful younger daughter and model Marie-Elisabeth and in August 1763 he gained respectability through his election to the Académie royale. He exhibited in the Salons throughout the 1760s. His reception piece was a historical subject (Hyperides pleading the cause of Phryne before the Areopagus, now in the Louvre) and he apparently received some minor royal commissions -a Life of the Virgin and a frontispiece for the Gospels intended for the Chapelle royale. But these serious subjects were an exception.. Diderot described him as: "A nice young man, attractive, kind, witty, a bit of a libertine..." (Bon garçon, qui a de la figure, de la douceur, de l'esprit, un peu libertin)" - and, comparing him adversely with Greuze, roundly condemned his art as immoral. It was even rumoured, perhaps maliciously, that Baudouin's early death was the result of "libertinage".
One of the best source of information Baudouin is the database of the Utpictura18 project, an interdiciplinary study by the Centre interdisciplinaire d'étude des littératures d'Aix-Marseille (CIELAM). This brings together images and contemporary commentaries on paintings, particularly, for Baudouin, the Salons of Diderot. Here are a few of the more interesting pictures:
Diderot noted the appeal of Baudouin's depictions of illicit sex and sexuality; he complained that all the young girls (and quite a few old men) manoeuvred themselves into a position where they could eye distractedly Baudouin's paintings, particularly The Peasant Girl Quarreling with Her Mother and The Cherry Picker.
The Peasant Girl Quarrelling with Her Mother (La Fille querellée par sa mère)
"The Peasant Girl Quarreling with Her Mother is the best of Baudouin's small pictures; it's better drawn than the others and rather agreeably coloured, though still a bit drab" A second painted, which suggests an earlier episode in the story, appeared in the Salon for 1767.
The empty quiver (Le carquois épuisé)
Described by Diderot under the title "Hope unfulfilled", this picture was named The Empty Quiver in the etching by Nicolas Delaunay. The setting, says Diderot, is a boudoir "appointed for pleasure"; the young man stretched out nonchalantly on the chaise longue is reluctant to make further effort: like the the elaborately depicted statue of Cupid, he has shot his last bolt. The "fille" standing beside him, applying rouge, gives him an irritated look, as if to say "What, is that all you know how to do?" Elsewhere Diderot conceded that technically "the weariness of the man on the sofa of the prostitute freshening her rouge is not bad." He likened Baudouin to the castrated Abelard: his work lacked the masculine rectitude of great art.
Two young gentlemen disrupt a fashionable crowd at the confessional - the Archbishop of Paris had the work withdrawn from the Salon as impious, though as Grimm pointed out, he seemed happy enough to leave Baudouin's other, morally reprehensible pictures, in place In 1763 an earlier religious scene, of a priest hearing catechism, had similarly been removed.
|Le Confessionnal. Engraving of 1777 by Pierre-Etienne Moitte|
Salon of 1767
The marriage bed (Le Coucher de la mariée)
| Musée des beaux-arts du Canada (no.28441)|
This piece was a study for a work executed by Baudouin on the occasion of the marriage of the marquis de Marigny, brother of Madame de Pompadour. A half naked bride is forced into bed by her women, aided and abetted by her young husband. Diderot, sensing Baudouin's real objective was to titillate, slated this picture, though his own alternative scene, the modest and trembling young bride parting from her parents, seems just as sexually charged. Diderot concluded that no respectable French girl would act up in front of the servants; the picture more closely resembled a courtesan and her customer. The bride was quite well-drawn but her husband, in his dressing gown, resembled an "empty sack". Diderot conceded that the servant turning back the bedcovers was "rather well conceived."
Le fruit de l’amour secret (The fruit of secret love)
|Engraving of 1777 by François Voyez, British Museum (detail)|
Salon of 1769
The honest model (Le Modèle honnête)
Washington, National Gallery of Art
The theme of this gouache, a poor girl driven to abandon modesty and pose nude for an artist, is made clear by the original title in Latin on the picture frame: Quid non cogit Egestas? ("What does not Poverty compel one to do?") Diderot had previously suggested the theme to Greuze and did not appreciate Baudouin's rendition; according to him, the older woman, was not a solicitous mother but "a vile creature who does some villainous business". Fragonard, who copied Rubens with Baudouin in the Galérie du Luxembourg in 1767, essayed a similar scene; his work is generally considered more successful, though still morally ambivalent, with its strong sense of collusion between the protagonists.
See also [Extracts on Google Books]:
"Baudouin, The Honest Model 1769" in Colin B. Bailey et al., The Age of Watteau, Chardin, and Fragonard; masterpieces of French genre painting. (2003) p.240-1
Pierre Rosenberg, Fragonard Metropolitan Museum of Art (1988) p.316-7.
"Baudouin" in Utpictura18 - Base de donnés iconographiques
(Projet Utpictura18: CIELAM, le Centre interdisciplinaire d'étude des littératures d'Aix-Marseille)
List of texts from Diderot's Salons:
English translations of the Salons : John Goodman: Diderot on Art. Vol.1 (Salon of 1765); Vol.2 (Salon of 1767)