The indiscreet libertine

The young woman in the centre wears an impish smile, showing her teeth and mischievously raising one of her cheekbones. Her sparkling eyes give her a roguish look.

A young man tries to force open the door to a room in which a young girl lies half-naked on a bed, another woman, standing, is scantily dressed. Both show their breasts and look at the viewer with a knowing air.

While the forcing of the door and the chair placed in front of it call into question the young girls' consent, their expressions give the scene a cheerful atmosphere. The composition of the trio corresponds to a theatrical archetype in the comedy register.

The gazes of the young women solicit the spectator's complicity. They seem to be inviting him/her into the room, to become a voyeur of the scene, which is in line with the libertine tastes that were in vogue at the time, personified by Laclos and De Sade.

Boilly strives to carefully render the details of real intimacy. The clothing strewn on the chair includes elegant feminine objects: a skirt, a ribbon and pink gloves that match the overturned shoe, a sign of agitation.

This still life demonstrates Boilly's virtuosity in capturing the effects of the material, like the sheen of the satin. The sensuality of the composition is reflected in the treatment of the decorative elements, through the play of light and shadow, bright colours and silky fabrics.

His sense of humour invokes the British spirit of the 18th century and the virtuosity of his manner reveals his admiration for Dutch 17th-century painting. The artist exploits the libertine theme for its admirers according to the fashion at the end of the 18th century.