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1734 Metz – 1781 Saint-Denis-du-Port


Calmouk [Kalmuk man] 1771


Etching and aquatint in brown. Size of sheet: 24.3 x 18.2 cm. Signed and dated in the plate: Le Prince 1771. Lettered with title “Calmouk”.


Hédou, 1879, 131 (II/III); IFF 14:168; Le Blanc 125; Portalis 38.


Very fine impression on laid paper, trimmed within platemark. Some printing creases on paper in the upper corners, otherwise in excellent condition.


Comparative impressions: Victoria&Albert Museum – SP.357 (impression in black); Yale University Art Gallery – 2007.170.1.


£1,250.- (with frame)

Jean-Baptiste Le Prince: Calmouk

  • 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.

    The present print shows a Kalmuk warrior from the Central Asia region of Russia. It is printed in brown ink to imitate the appearance of a bistre ink drawing. Le Prince followed a painstaking process of biting, stopping out, and re-biting his plates to create the visual effect of wash drawings.

  • 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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