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Jean-Baptiste Le Prince

(1734 Metz – 1781 Saint-Denis-du-Port)

Le repos. Aquatint. 44.5 x 34.7 cm. Signed and dated in the plate. Inscription: “Le Repos | se vend à Paris chés l Auteur, Cour du Vieux Louvre”. 1771. Hédou 170; Nagler 20 (date 1777); IFF 159.

This print is primarily notable for the fact that it is a very early aquatint. Jean-Baptiste Le Prince is usually accredited with the invention of the aquatint technique, his first sheets of this kind dating to the year 1768. Le Prince produced this print after a painting he exhibited at the Salon of 1767, which was entitled Une jeune fille endormie, surprise par son père et sa mère. The painting provoked a lengthy reaction from Diderot, who condemned it for its unclear (but highly suggestive!) subject matter (see Diderot, Salon de 1767, no. 93). Apart from inventing the aquatint technique Le Prince also prompted the French infatuation with russerie, the fad for Russian folklore that flourished after Le Prince’s return from Russia in 1762. Le Prince brought back with him a large number of drawings of Russian costumes and aspects of daily life, which he used in new compositions such as Le repos. Hédou considers this print the very best in Le Prince’s entire graphic oeuvre.

A very fine impression with full margins. Some foxing, a small wormhole in the lower margin, slight traces of handling and a trace of a previous mounting on the reverse. Otherwise in excellent condition.

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