The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Muse Clio
  • Jacques Charlier (1706 - 1790)
  • After François Boucher (1703 - 1770)
  • The Muse Clio
  • France
  • c. 1756 - 1770
  • Miniature
  • Painted on ivory
  • Image size: 5.3 x 7.9 cm
    Frame size: 10.1 x 12.7 cm
  • M67
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Today, the French miniature painter Jacques Charlier is mainly known for his mythological and erotic scenes in the style of Boucher but it is documented that he produced many portrait miniatures. Although he worked for some of the most important patrons of his age, little is known about his life.

    Among the miniatures associated with Charlier’s name this represents one of the most direct copies after a Boucher painting. Its model is a painting of Clio, the Muse of history, in the Wallace Collection (P490), which was possibly painted as an overdoor for Mme de Pompadour in the mid-1750s. The miniature was painted directly after the painting as it follows the colours and composition closely – and it must have been executed before the original canvas was enlarged at an unknown date.

    Miniature painters often followed compositions of easel painters in their figurative compositions because they had usually not received a full academic training. Charlier is a case in point. What today is known of his work refers to Boucher so often and so openly that his training with Boucher has been assumed. It is as likely that some working arrangement between the two artists existed. Charlier might have been charged with reproducing Boucher’s work in miniature in the same way that several print makers did for the print market.

    Charlier’s work was avidly collected in the mid nineteenth century, at the same time when major collectors became interested in Boucher. The 4th Marquess of Hertford assembled the most important group of works by Boucher in the world and also by far the largest group of works attributed to Charlier. The 4th Marquess was exclusively interested in Charlier’s mythological scenes and his erotic work. Because of their small scale and personal character, these miniatures were often highly erotic scenes, occasionally bordering on the pornographic.