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Tête de Flore (Head of Flora)
Bonnet, Louis Marin (printmaker)
Boucher, François (draughtsman)
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Tête de Flore
Head of Flora
Bonnet, Louis Marin (printmaker) French artist, 1743-1793
Boucher, François after (draughtsman) French artist, 1703-1770
The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum 1959-01 (Prints
given by The Friends of the Fitzwilliam Museum)
Bonnet's 'Tête de Flore' represents one of the greatest achievements of printmaking in eighteenth-century France, highly regarded for the complex technique used to create it and for the delicate handling of colour in the image. Bonnet developed his method of colour printing from the demand for 'crayon manner' or 'chalk manner' prints, a subtle form of etching lines of tone to convincingly imitate the effects of chalk drawings. This print can be seen as the culmination of the artist's experiments with multiple-plate printing in the 1760s, where he employed up to six plates to produce images with layers of colour and tone. Remarkably, 'Tête de Flore' employs eight such plates, each stage being detailed by the artist in a description that he submitted with a set of progressive proofs to the Marquis of Marigny, which led a recommendation that Bonnet should receive a pension from the King for his ingenuity. Bonnet's innovative method to ensure the accurate layering of colour involved the use of registration pins to guide the printer, and a further development was his use of plates inked with more than one colour, which helped to create the range of tones seen in this print. The eighth plate was inked with a special white ink, for which Bonnet had become famous, as it imitated the delicate use of white chalk for highlights and softened the other colours to suggest the tint of pastel. This impression is trimmed, partly in order to remove the marks left by registration pins and also to heighten the illusion that it is a drawing. The identity of the sitter is François Boucher's daughter, Marie-Emilie, who married Boucher's student, Pierre-Antoine Baudouin in 1758, a year after the pastel was executed.
Standard print ref/s
Herold (Bonnet) 192
P.59-1959 (Paintings, Drawings and Prints)