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1734 Metz – 1781 Saint-Denis-du-Port


Le Vertu au Cabaret [Virtue at the Cabaret] - 1768


Etching and aquatint. Size of sheet: 24.3 x 18.2 cm. Signed and dated on the plate: Le Prince 1768. Lettered with title “La Virtue au Cabaret”. Watermark: part of AVUERNE. Annotaion in pencil below the platemark.


Hédou, 1879, 174; IFF (102); Le Blanc 49; Portalis 24. 


Provenance: probably with Paul Prouté Gallery (based on the purchase price code below the image). 


Very fine richly inked impression on laid watermarked paper with margins. Light stains from old glue in the corners on the upper border, otherwise in excellent condition.


Comparative impressions: British Museum – 1859,1210.102; Yale University Art Gallery – 2007.69.3.



Jean-Baptist Le Prince: Le Vertu au Cabaret

  • The painter and engraver, Le Prince was a pupil of François Boucher and Joseph-Marie Vien. After spending five years in Russia (1759-64) where he worked for Catherine the Great at the Imperial Palace in St Petersburg, Le Prince returned to Paris bringing with him extensive collection of his drawings executed while travelling in Russia, Finland and Lithuania. These would serve as his own iconography for his printed russeries till the end of his life.

    After a number of experiments, he created the process of la gravure au lavis or the dust-grain aquatint etching. Le Prince’s new works were met with enthusiasm from the public as they satisfied the demand for reproduction of washed drawings.

    Most of Le Prince’s aquatints depicted scenes which he had sketched while in Russia. Le Prince’s first gravures au lavis (wash prints) were published in 1768; the last appeared in 1774, only six years later. All of them were printed on bright white papers to sharpen the contrast with the inks and enhance the pictorial richness of the images. During this relatively short time the artist produced 79 aquatints.

    La Vertu au Cabaret and Le Chartier et la Laitiere were among his first showcases of newly invented printing technique.

  • Ralph Nevill, French Prints of the Eighteenth Century, 1908;

    John Ittmann et al., Regency to Empire: French Printmaking 1715-1814, 1984;

    Margaret Crasselli, Colorful Impressions/The Printmaking Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France, 2008;

    Ad Stijnman, Engraving and Etching 1400-2000, 2012.




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