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1734 Metz – 1781 Saint-Denis-du-Port


Le Pope [Seated Orthodox Priest] - 1768


Etching and aquatint. Size of sheet: 19.5 x 16.5 cm. Signed and dated on plate: Le Prince 1768. Watermark: T DUPVY MOYEN. 


Hédou, 1879, 167; IFF (104).


Very fine richly inked impression on laid watermarked paper with very large margins. Some annotations in pencil in the left corner and on the back of the sheet, slight hardly visible discoloration of paper in the top margin, otherwise in excellent condition.


Comparative impressions: British Museum – 1853,1210.727; Minneapolis Institute of Art – P.83.76.



Jean-Baptiste Le Prince: Le Pope (Seated Orthodox Priest)

  • 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 russeriestill 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. The majority 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.

    Le Pope was one of the artist’s first prints where he used his new aquatint technique (see Ittmann, 1984, p.190).

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

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

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

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


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