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Artists and Amateurs: Etching in Eighteenth-Century France

The exhibition is made possible by The Schiff Foundation.

The catalogue is made possible by Karen B. Cohen.

Exhibition objects

  • Recruits Going to Join the Regiment
    Recruits Going to Join the Regiment

    Antoine Watteau (French, Valenciennes 1684–1721 Nogent-sur-Marne)

    Date: ca.1715–16
    Accession Number: 2006.43

  • To the Genius of Franklin
    To the Genius of Franklin

    Marguerite Gérard (French, 1761–1837)

    Date: 1779
    Accession Number: 83.2.230

  • L'Armoire
    L'Armoire

    Jean Honoré Fragonard (French, Grasse 1732–1806 Paris)

    Date: 1778

  • Andromeda
    Andromeda

    François Boucher (French, Paris 1703–1770 Paris)

    Date: 1734

Artists and Amateurs

Etching in Eighteenth-Century France

October 1, 2013–January 5, 2014

Accompanied by a catalogue

Throughout the eighteenth century, a large number of artists—painters, sculptors, draftsmen, and amateurs—experimented with etching, a highly accessible printmaking technique akin to drawing. Some, like Antoine Watteau and François Boucher, encountered the process within the thriving commerce of the Paris print market. Others, like Jean-Honoré Fragonard and Hubert Robert, experimented with the technique during their student years in Rome. Over the course of the century, the free and improvisational aesthetic of the etching process increasingly was embraced, and French artists looked to seventeenth-century masters, such as Rembrandt in the north, and Salvator Rosa and Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione to the south, for inspiration. The expressive potential of the technique was also explored in a more experimental manner by artists like Gabriel de Saint-Aubin and Louis Jean Desprez, who harnessed the inky tonalities of the medium to their personal and idiosyncratic vision. The exhibition includes loans from North American museums and private collections.