The light of the world (after François Boucher 1703-1770) Oil on copper painted around 1761, this work first called the Adoration of the Shepherds was originally commissioned by Madame de Pompadour from François Boucher for the Château de Bellevue . Currently kept at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon. Dimensions, with frame: width, 38 cm x height 43cm Unframed: width, 20cm x height 25 cm History of the work This painting, originally titled The Adoration of the Shepherds was commissioned from François Boucher by Madame de Pompadour, favorite and friend of the King. This is the first commission that Madame de Pompadour made to the painter, but, more importantly, the first religious work of large format produced by the latter, who will produce five in total. The painting was exhibited in 1750 at the Salon, which constituted a turning point in the career of François Boucher, since thanks to this painting he obtained accommodation at the Louvre Palace as well as the position of first painter to the king. When the painting was completed, it adorned the altar placed in the closet of one of the antechambers of the Château de Bellevue (Meudon). Indeed, a chapel was necessary for the prestige of this castle. An engraving of this painting was made in 1761, by Étienne Fessard, who gave it its current title, La Lumière du monde. Description and Analysis Jesus is adored not by the traditional group of shepherds, but by a family of shepherds: an elderly woman dressed in gray, a man in red, a very young woman seated holding two small children. Their presents are on the ground, two dead roosters and two eggs. However, it is difficult to know if they have a symbolic resonance – the dawning light and the resurrection – or if François Boucher uses them simply to underline the rusticity of birth in the stable, reinforced by the berthe on which the old woman. The youngest child offers baby Jesus a dove, a sign of peace. Opposite the group of shepherds, above Jesus and Mary, Joseph (New Testament) watches them from a distance. He leafs through a very large book curiously leaning on the head of an ox which serves as a lectern. It is the ox of the manger, as we see it in almost all the Nativity scenes. But the ox, or the bull, is also the symbol of Luke (evangelist), the evangelist who gives us the story of Christmas. At the very top of the painting, a swarm of cherubs, of which only the head and the two wings are visible, pushing back the dark clouds to let in the clarity of the sky. It is this light coming from above that illuminates the child Jesus.
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