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Antique Prints, Famous Engravings

Updated on April 14, 2015

Found in the attic...

Imagine... A very wealthy and mildly eccentric grand uncle with a great and healthy taste for the fine arts has passed, and you inherit all the wonderful things you'll find in the attic, in something like a treasure chest... That sounds like the opening of one of those wildly romantic adventure stories, but the 18th century rococo engravings in the chest are for real! They are put in marvellous frames and extremely well preserved, covered with a glass plate.

Now, you have to start something like a true treasure hunt, surfing that wonderful worldwide web. Who are these guys like Louis-Marin Bonnet, Francis Vivares, Gabriel Huquier? And what are they worth, these antique prints?

Interested in not only the story of the rococo engravings? Just contact the Lost Dutchman!

Louis-Marin Bonnet, The Milk Woman (1774)


Pastel manner printed in red, blue, yellow and black inks

with two colors of applied gold leaf sheet,

outer framing line: 28,5 x 23,5 cm (11 1/4 x 9 1/4)

L. Marin invenit 1774

The Milk Woman

To be sold at F. Vivares ingreat Newport Street London


French engraver and publisher. He came from a family of artisans and owed his training in engraving to his brother-in-law, the engraver Louis Legrand (1723-1808). Through Legrand, Bonnet became the pupil of Jean-Charles François in 1756, a year before the latter discovered the crayon manner technique of engraving, designed to reproduce the effect of a coloured-chalk drawing. Around the end of 1757 Bonnet used the new technique to engrave a Cupid. He also was the first one to use a technique to make false gold leafs around his subjects. He exploited the taste for "English Exotism" of his fellow citizens by publishing his prints with a text in English.

In the handbook of the Collection of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, we read about Bonnet: The son of a Parisian stocking manufacturer, Bonnet trained with the engravers Louis-Claude LeGrand and Jean-Charles François, the latter the inventor of the chalk-manner technique of printmaking. Erroneously referred to as engravings, chalk-, crayon- or pastel-manner prints are actually etchings made with a metal wheel called a roulette with a random pattern of variously sized points that was rolled over a plate coated with a protective wax ground. When the plate was etched in acid, the resulting pattern of dots provided a passable approximation of the original chalk drawing.

Bonnet's prints made in this way became immensely popular with collectors seeking images that imitated the subtle blend of colors epitomized by the drawings of Watteau, Boucher, and their contemporaries. During the late 1770s and 1780s, Bonnet's success as a color printmaker was unrivaled; he counted among his patrons the wealthiest Parisian collectors of the time, and at his death he was able to leave behind a sizable estate despite the changing tastes brought on by the Revolution.

FRANCIS VIVARES (1709-1782):

François or Francis Vivares was born in France, but at the age of eighteen established himself in London. He is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential landscape engravers, known for his meticulous technique and bold style. He also was a famous print-seller who sold in his print-shop The Milk Woman.

Optical/Perspective Print: A view of the grand Palace of Westminster

9.8 x 16.3 inches or 25,0 x 41,3 cm

"Optical print" by an unknown artist, maybe Gabriel Huquier or his son Jacques-Gabriel Huquier, with a perspective view of the old Palace of Westminster. In the 18th and 19th century there were many popular establishments in Paris and London which produced optical viewing devices and special engravings to be viewed through them. In the 18the century the "optical print" or "vue optique" came into existence, whose exaggerated converging lines were intended to produce the optical illusion of deep recession. The viewing devices for which these perspective prints were produced, consisted of a lens and a mirror, this requiring the use of reversed or mirror-image pictures. As a result of their constant handling, optical prints in excellent condition - like this one - are extremely rare!

Authentic 18th century engraving of Jacques Firmin Beauvarlet, based upon a work of the famous French painter François Boucher

Boucher was known for his "sweet" paintings with a sensual undertone. Together with Jean-Honore Fragonard, Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin, Jean-Baptiste Greuze et Jean Antoine Watteau, Boucher is the main representative of the French rococo. He produced several portraits of madame de Pompadour and wall decorations for the palace of Versailles, he designed tapestries, theatrical scenery and costumes for the opera. The Wallace Collection in London, the Louvre in Paris, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles all have Boucher collections.

Louis-Marin Bonnet after Jean-Baptiste Greuze: The Pretty Noesgay Garle, 1775 (pastel manner, printed with applied gold leaf sheet)

B. Greuze pinxit / L. Marin invenit 1775 - To be sold at F. Vivares ingreat Newport Street London: outer framing line 28,5 x 23,5 cm

Jean-Baptiste Greuze (1725-1805) was a French painter who had a great success at the 1755 Salon with his Father Reading the Bible to His Children (Louvre, Paris). He became enormously popular with similar sentimental and melodramatic genre scenes. Much of Greuze's later work consisted of pictures of "innocent" young girls with only thinly veiled sexual allusions. With the swing of taste towards Neoclassicism, his work went out of fashion. At the end of his career he received a commission to paint a portrait of Napoleon, but he died in poverty. His work is well represented in the Louvre and the Wallace Museum in London.

Louis-Marin Bonnet: The Woman ta King Coffee, 1774 (Pastel manner with applied gold leaf, outer framing line 28,5 x 23,5 cm)

Louis-Marin Bonnet after M.A. Parelle: Provoking Fidelity, 1775 (pastel manner with two colors of applied gold leaf, outer framing line: 28,3 x 23,4 cm)

Vue Perspective de l'Eglise et de la place de St. Pierre à Florence. A Paris chés Huquier, fils Graveur rue St. Jacques, au Gd St Remy

Optical Print/view of the Church and the Saint Peter Market in Florence, made in Paris by Huquier, son of the Engraver (9.8 x 16.3 inches or 25,0 x 41,3 cm)

Jacques-Gabriel Huquier (1725-1805) also known as James Gabriel Huquier was the son of the famous engraver Gabriel Huquier. He married to the daughter of the engraver Chéreau, with whom he collaborated as an engraver and printseller, including several series engraved after François Boucher. He then established himself as a maker of fans and wallpaper. Around 1770 he moved to England, exiled it is said because of his publication of an anti-Jesuit satire. He exhibited some pastels at the Royal Academy and was also represented at the Society of Artists. He worked in London, Cambridge and Shrewsbury.

Someone has further information about "L'Amour et l'Amitié", lithography Collette - Marie, Fabourg St. Denis 61?

Someone has further information about these two marvellous hand colored rococo engravings?

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    • profile image 

      2 years ago

      Have water color eau forte original Henri of pointe naughty cats signed boris okline! How do I know it's not a print ( my wife has had this for over 40 years! Any and all help would be appreciated

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      hello,I just wished to write to say how much I've ejyoned reading your site. I am part cherokee on my mother's side and my sister is half blackfoot on her father's side. we are half sisters actually as you can see. but anyways I love anything and everything to do with the Native American culture. I also have a friend who is always looking for new info on this as well and I am having a problem with finding information about her birth totem. Her birthday is September 13 If you could help me I'd be grateful as I say she loves Native American stuff as I do. Also I noticed you do crafts. I do too and am looking for a crochet pattern for a native american girl dress to do for a project I'm working on. If you may have any ideas or could help in any way I'd be grateful. Sorry if I've rambled I take medication due to a serious ailment which has left me bedbound. Thanks again for any and all help!!!!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I wonder....i have an original oil painting from 1955 by someone named Leo with a last name that I can't make out....looks like Sppwps....doesn't make sense...does that ring a bell for you? thanks for your time...

    • The Lost Dutchman profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Bernauw 

      8 years ago from Flanders (Belgium)

      @ Ben: I'm not an expert, I' afraid.

    • profile image

      Ben Aumenta 

      8 years ago

      I have a print on silk of The Graben Hotel in Graben Austria, circa 1925-30. Would you be able to tell me something about it?

      Thank You

    • adorababy profile image


      8 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      I think with antique prints, they have some sort of an eerie feeling in them that sends chills. Maybe because they have been around for over some time and a lot of people have come and gone by with them.

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      10 years ago from Springfield, Oregon


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