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Jean-François Janinet

1752–1814, Paris

The son of a lapidary, Janinet probably took his first art lessons from his father before entering the studio of the print-maker, Louis-Marin Bonnet, through whom he became acquainted with the techniques of multi-plate colour printing. Although he entered the Académie royale as a student of painting in 1772, Janinet owes his fame largely to his printed oeuvre. Janinet excelled above all in the so-called manière de lavis technique, a sophisticated and complicated printing process eminently well suited to transferring the very popular water­colours and gouaches of artists such as Nicholas Lavreince, Pierre Antoine Baudouin and Jacques Charlier to the medium of printmaking. However, his reputation as a man of technical skill suffered a severe setback when, on 11 July 1784, Janinet and his friend, Abbé Miollan, organized a public event around the ascension of their self-made hot-air balloon. Instead of taking off, the balloon caught fire, making its constructors the subject of numerous popular print caricatures, satirical songs and anecdotes.