French Colour Prints
- Mastery & Elegance -

The search for colour can be seen as a recurrent theme in the history of printmaking. A wide variety of methods were developed and used over time, from colouring by hand to new printmaking techniques, such as Chiaroscuro woodcut.

The eighteenth century and it's advances in commerce and technology bore witness to technical innovations in all fields. Printmaking was no exception. Colour mezzotints were introduced in France by Jakob Christoffel Le Blond in 1721. Innovations in colour printmaking were subsequently developed by several artists such as Gilles Demarteau, Jean-Francois Janinet and Fabien Gautier-Dagoty.

By producing such images, artists offered contemporary emerging Bourgeoisie a wide variety of coloured images, substitutes for paintings and drawings. These images were highly praised and consequently colour prints soon came to be considered as fashionable luxury goods in their own right, a sign of good taste.

A selection of fine French colour prints, which, through their techniques, their subject matters and the sheer elegance of the plates, offer a particularly compelling illustration of the refined taste of eighteenth century France.

Huber, Jean
Le souper des philosophes.
Etching on blue paper.
Size of sheet: 26.4 x 36.5 cm.

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Gautier Dagoty, Jean-Baptiste André
Portrait of the duc de la Vrillière.
Colour mezzotint printed in red, yellow, blue, white and black.
Size of plate: 24 x 19.5; size of sheet: 27.4 x 21.5 cm.

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Pfenninger, Matthias
Le Tombeau de Virgile prez de Naple.
Handcoloured etching with watercolours, heightened in white.
Size of plate: 28.5 x 42 cm. Size of sheet: 30.2 x 44.1 cm.

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Leclerc, Pierre Thomas
Formal dress at Choisy.
Watercolour over pen and brown ink with brown framing lines.
25 x 17.7 cm.

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Debucourt, Philibert-Louis
Les Plaisirs Paternels
Etching and wash manner, printed in orange-red, blue, yellow, and black inks
Size of sheet: 54.4 x 41.5 cm

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Janinet, Jean-François
La Crainte Enfantine and La Confiance Enfantine
Aquatint and wash-manner in colour after Sigmund Freudeberg (1745-1801).

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Janinet, Jean-François
La Baraque Rustique
Etching, aquatint and wash-manner in colour after Adriaen von Ostade (1610-1685).

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Demarteau, Gilles
La Jeune Bergère
Etching, aquatint and wash-manner in colour after Jean-Baptiste Huet (1745-1811).

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