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A Young Woman in Classical Attire, Facing Left. Pen and black ink, grey wash. 30.8 x 19.9 cm. Circa 1791.
Jean-François Janinet is known primarily as a noted printmaker who was a past master in the technique of multi-plate colour prints. 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.
Around 1787 Janinet began collaborating with the sculptor and draughtsman, Jean-Guillaume Moitte, whose reputation was based largely on his classical reliefs and drawings of frises à l’antique. The present drawing is very much à la Moitte, illustrating Janinet’s abandonment of the Rococo style and adoption of a purist, neoclassical idiom. Janinet’s reproductive engravings after Moitte’s drawn frieze compositions with their characteristic fond noir oblong format quickly became extremely popular; the present delicately executed drawing in all likelihood helped the artist to approximate as closely as he could to Moitte’s style. The pretty young woman with her classical profile is rendered in a light and accurate drawing technique; the fluid, seemingly effortlessly applied washes produce a delightful chiaroscuro effect and emphasise the three-dimensional quality of her limbs and drapery. The girl’s plaited tresses are of graphical delicacy, while the two hair ribbons stand out from the dark background like a kind of arabesque. This drawing was probably exhibited at the 1793 Paris Salon. The catalogue records it under number 315: “Trois dessins, études”.