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1734 Metz – 1781 Saint-Denis-du-Port


Le Chartier et la Laitiere [The carter and the milkmaid] - 1768


Etching and aquatint. Size of sheet: 24.3 x 18.2 cm. Signed and dated on plate: Le Prince 1768. Lettered with title “Le Chartier et la Laitiere”. Fragment of a watermark. Annonation in pencil below the platemark. 


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


Hédou, 1879, 133 (II/III); IFF (101); Le Blanc 21; Portalis 24. 


A strong and well-printed impression on laid paper showing no sign of wear to the printing plate with margins. Besides slight yellowing in the top corners of the sheet, the print is in excellent condition.  


Comparative impressions: British Museum – 1859,1210.103; Yale University Art Gallery – 2007.69.3.



Jean-Baptiste Le Prince: Le Chartier et la Laitiere

  • 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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