Jean-Baptiste Le Prince (Metz 1734 – 1781 St Denis-du-Port)
Russerie - Two Men in a Landscape with a Temple in the Background
Pen and grey ink and coloured wash on paper, black ink framing lines, 143 x 96 mm (5.5 x 3.75 inch), laid down on a sheet of 18th or 19th century paper. Mounted on a 19th or early 20th-century grey-blue mount with black ink and grey wash framing lines
- Collection of the Polish/French Symbolist writer Téodor de Wyzewa (1863-1917) (Lugt 2471)
- Private collection, The Netherlands
Two influences were paramount for Jean-Baptiste Le Prince: his teacher François Boucher and his stay in Russia. Born to a family of ornamental sculptors and gilders, Le Prince began studying with Boucher around 1750. His master's tightly controlled brushwork and highly finished surfaces influenced him greatly, along with Boucher's affection for scenes with shepherds and shepherdesses.
By 1757 Le Prince was painting at the Imperial Palace in St Petersburg. He traveled extensively in Russia, perhaps even to Siberia. Returning to Paris five years later and eager to make a name for himself, Le Prince created paintings and etchings of the Russian countryside and daily life, often using Russian costumes and small mannequins to get the exactitude he desired. Le Prince not only became famous for creating this new kind of genre picture, but he also perfected the technique of making aquatints.
Upon becoming a member of the Académie Royale in 1765, Le Prince exhibited fifteen paintings at that year's Salon, all Russian subjects. The Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory wove his Russian Games tapestry cartoons many times. After 1770 Le Prince's health declined and he left Paris for the French countryside, where he painted landscapes and pastoral subjects.
The present fluent and spontaneous Russerie drawing is probably a design for a print or book illustration.
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