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[BKARTS] Exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Forwarded message:
>Soon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A very interesting exhibit,
>especially for teachers of French, history teachers and their students.
>The Philadelphia Museum of Art celebrates one of the most innovative
>epochs in the history of printmaking, from the extravagances of the royal
>court to the beginning of the French Revolution, in To Delight and
>Instruct: Prints and Illustrated Books in 18th-Century France, on view
>from February 21-May 16, 2004 in the Museums Berman and Stieglitz galleries.
>Arranged thematically, these more than one hundred French 18th-century
>prints and a dozen illustrated books selected from the Museums collection
>reflect the dramatic changes that occurred during the reigns of Kings
>Louis XV and Louis XVI (1723-1792), beginning with a sumptuous
>representation of the stately masked ball at Versailles where Louis XV met
>his future mistress, and proceeding to an image of Louis XVI at the
>guillotine (from a three-volume book illustrating the important events of
>the French Revolution). Original etchings, reproductions of grand works of
>art, anatomical illustrations, poetry vignettes, fashion plates, and
>architectural views attest to the crucial role played by prints in the
>dissemination of French thought during a period of increasing literacy
>when Paris held sway as the cultural capital of Europe.
>The prints presented in this exhibition afford the modern viewer a
>wonderful understanding of life in 18th century France and the important
>role played by artists and printmakers in defining and promoting French
>culture, said Rena Hoisington, organizer of the exhibition. This is also
>an occasion to celebrate the stupendous technical accomplishments in color
>printmaking made by such expert engravers as Charles-Melchior Descourtis,
>Louis-Marin Bonnet, and their contemporaries.
>The prints in the exhibition capture the ebullient wit and spirit of
>France during the age of the Enlightenment, beginning with the elegant
>courtiers of Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), who won a lasting
>reputation as the undisputed master of the     fete galante  with a set of
>650 engravings that reproduced his entire output of paintings and
>drawings. Among scores of printmakers working on this vast project
>was  Francois  Boucher (1703-1770), the future First Painter to King Louis
>XV and the favorite artist of Madame de Pompadour, the king ' s mistress.
>Such prominent artists as Boucher and his younger colleague, Jean-
>Honore  Fragonard (1732-1806), produced a handful of charming original
>etchings of their own, but like other successful artists, they generally
>relied upon highly skilled professional engravers to replicate their works
>in black and white or full-color. Whether portraying clandestine lovers or
>men of science, village fairs or royal weddings, the prints in the
>exhibition show a society soon to be decisively transformed by the French
>During the second half of the century, technological advances allowed
>printmakers to build color images with multiple plates inked in different
>colors, using special tools to replicate the visual effects of powdery
>chalks and pastels. These innovations led to the production of thousands
>of color prints, some used as useful color illustrations for scientific
>texts, others functioning as inexpensive facsimiles of paintings and
>drawings that became fashionable with collectors. Among the notable works
>on view are a rare proof of Sea Nymphs and Sea Gods (c. 1762), a
>chalk-manner engraving of a group of nudes by Gilles Demarteau the Elder
>(1722 - 1776), copied after a delectable red chalk drawing by Boucher; La
>Noce de Village, La Foire de Village, La Rixe, and Le Tambourin (1785-c.
>1790) a set of four ravishing color prints engraved by Charles-Melchior
>Descourtis (1753-1820) after paintings by Nicolas-Antoine Taunay
>(1755-1830); and one of the glories of French late 18th-century color
>printmaking, La Promenade Publique (1792) designed and engraved by
>Philibert-Louis Debucourt (1755-1832).
>A new acquisition on view in the Museum for the first time plays a
>starring role in the exhibition. It is a sumptuous impression of the Head
>of Flora (1769), Louis- Martin  Bonnet ' s eight-plate, pastel-manner
>engraving printed in eleven colors reproducing a Boucher pastel. Never
>before and never afterwards did a French 18th-century printmaker succeed
>in making a color print using so many plates. This choice impression bears
>the collectors stamp of Edmond (1822-1896) and Jules (1830-1870) de
>Goncourt, the two brothers jointly credited with the revival of interest
>in art and culture of the ancien regime during the later 19th century.
>Rena Hoisington, the Margaret R. Mainwaring Curatorial Fellow in the
>Department of Prints, Drawings and Photographs, organized the exhibition
>together with John Ittmann, Curator of Prints.
>* * *

I have no affiliation other than having received the announcement on
another list.

 - Rachael Schechter

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