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François Bernard Lépicié

(1698–1755, Paris)

La Gouvernante; La Mère laborieuse. Two engravings after Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin. Each approx. 37.5 x 26.5 cm. 1739; 1740. IFF 53, 58. Bocher 24, 35. Watermark: Letters.

The painter, engraver and art writer, François Bernard Lépicié, studied in Paris under Jean Mariette and Gaspard Duchange. From 1737 he was employed as ‘secrétaire historiographique’ at the Académie Royale, to which he was admitted as a full member in 1740. The reproductive engravings and occasional paintings which Lépicié exhibited at the Paris Salon in the years that followed regularly met with success. Among them was the present print La Gouvernante which he submitted in 1740.

Lépicié’s engraving is based on a painting by Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin which had caused quite a stir at the Salon the previous year. Both Chardin’s painting and Lépicié’s engraving were very well received by contemporary critics, as is indicated by an excerpt from the Mercure de France: “… elle fait également honneur au rare talent de M. Chardin, Peintre de l’Académie, & à M. Lépicié, de la même Académie, qui l’a gravée avec un soin extrême.” The scenes from everyday life which Chardin captured with incomparable sensitivity in his painting were crucial in establishing his considerable standing – and they indirectly enhanced Lépicié’s reputation too. The latter subsequently made a series of reproductive engravings after Chardin, thereby becoming the most prominent interpreter of his works in the printmaking medium. Lépicié entered La Mère laborieuse at the Paris Salon of 1741. As in the earlier print, the artist has again added a caption to this engraving which comments on the scene in a restrained, moralising tone. Lépicié’s refined, highly sophisticated engraving technique pro­vides a superb counterpart to Chardin’s delicate genre painting. Very fine, crisp and contrasting impressions with even thread margins. Minor defects, otherwise in excellent condition.

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