Michael Allison
Humanities 123-05A
February 21, 2013
A dramatic departure from his usual works of mythical scenes and characters, stunning portraits of French royalty and scenes of excess, and frivolity and amorous indulgence enjoyed by his aristocratic subjects, Francois Bouchers’s 1751 painting The Mill at Charenton nonetheless is worthy of appreciation as it showcases Boucher’s talent in painting landscape themed works. Enjoying the patronage of Madame de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV, Boucher’s art covers a wide range of themes, and The Mill at Charenton is representative of his outdoor, landscape works.
The same, or very similar scenes, appear in a number of Boucher’s paintings. According to, Boucher is famous for his opinion of the natural world, as he describes it as “trop verte et mal eclaire,” or too green and badly lit ( Set apart from the grit of the city and the excess at Versailes, The Mill at Charenton portrays a simple, yet fulfilling life in a tranquil scene that radiates serenity.
Dominant lines in the painting are diagonal, beginning at the top of the tree about halfway up on the left side of the painting, crossing the smaller building with an opposing diagonal roof   and continuing over the top of the chimney to the other side of the work. This is the dominant line of the painting, and it passes over and leads the eye to the dominant structure in the work, a building set on a hill overlooking the scene below.
Both simple and non-descript, in its simplicity the abode, possibly a mill, speaks to the mind’s eye as it is removed from the excess and frivolity of Versailles. Sunlight is cast on it as it stands, almost a sentinel, overseeing and protecting the occupants of the scene below. The roof of the mill is a secondary diagonal line beginning in the upper right of the painting, with the staircase below running parallel to it. Another diagonal line is present from the roof of the...