Following the Paris Salon of 1746, several critics voiced their concern at what they perceived as a decline in the quality of painting. To encourage native artists to renew their approach to history painting, a competition was proposed with the hope that a revival of the French School would follow. This sketch was Boucher’s initial compositional idea (‘première pensée’) for a painting of the Rape of Europa, which he submitted to the 1747 competition. Examples of Boucher’s premières pensées are rare as he often discarded them once the paintings were complete. The drawing demonstrates some initial thoughts that were omitted from the final picture, such as the bull gazing longingly at Europa. Boucher did not win the competition, and was heavily criticised for his unoriginal choice of subject.