Jean-Baptiste Le Prince

Le Prince, Oeuvres (La Danse Russe)

Œuvres de Jean-Baptiste Le Prince, peintre du Roi...
Contenant plus de cent soixante Planches gravées à l'eau-forte,
& à l'imitation des Dessins Lavés au bistre : le tout d'après ses
compositions, représentant divers Costumes & Habillemens de différens
Peuples du Nord; où ce célèbre Artiste a sejourné quelque tems.

Portalis et Béraldi, II, 674-677, Cohen 625-627, Lipperheide 1339

etchings with aquatint, the complete album of 157 plates* printed on 62 sheets, grand in-folio, Basan Frères, Paris, 1782, first edition, uncut, comprising 78 etchings (on 29 sheets) and 77 aquatints in facsimile of watercolour wash (on 33 sheets), very fine impressions with full margins, on heavy laid paper with various watermarks, some light foxing, one sheet torn and repaired (affecting one image), contemporary blue paste-paper boards, a bit worn, lacking backstrip, upper cover detached, otherwise in quite good condition

Provenance: a private collection  S. 570 x 420 mm. 

Le Prince was a student of François Boucher and Joseph-Marie Vien, and is often credited as being the inventor of aquatint, or at least, the as being the artist who perfected it. The subjects represented here feature a large number of works based on his sketches undertaken during a five-year sojourn in Russia, where he was employed by Catherine the Great between 1758 and 1763.

A hallmark undertaking in itself, from both a technical and an editorial point of view, this work constitutes what may well be considered a groundbreaking quasi-ethnographic, albeit rococo illustration of many facets of Russian life in the late 18th century. **

Full description:

Letterpress title with decorative floral border and woodcut vignette

The suites and individual plates comprise the following:

Divers habillements des prêtres de Russie - 10 plates on 4 sheets

Les Strelits - 8 plates on 3 sheets

Divers Ajustements et Usages de Russie - 10 plates on 5 sheets

Suite de divers habillements des peuples du Nord - 6 plates on 3 sheets

Première Suite de Cris et Divers Marchands de Petersbourg et de Moscou - 6 plates on 3 sheets

Deuxième Suite de Cris et Divers Marchands de Russie - 6 plates on 3 sheets

Troisième Suite de Divers Cris de Marchands de Russie - 6 plates on 1 sheet

Quatrième Suite d'Habillement des Femmes de Moscovie - 6 plates on 1 sheet

Divers Habillemens des Femmes de Moscovie - 6 plates on 1 sheet

Habillements de Diverses Nations - 6 plates on 1 sheet

Sujets divers - 10 plates on 4 sheets

Première Suite de Coiffures dessinés après nature - 6 aquatint plates on 1 sheet

La Vertu au Cabaret (etching) and Le Chartier et la Laitière (aquatint) - 2 plates on 1 sheet

Deuxième Suite d'habillements de diverses Nations - 6 plates with aquatint on 1 sheet

Divers sujets - 63 plates on 30 sheets:

Les Sens - 5 plates on 1 sheet 

Le Roue vertueux (for the book by Coqueley de Chaussepierre) - 6 plates on 1 sheet

L'Adoration des Anges after Vien, La Maitresse d'Ecole after Boucher (the only homage paid to his masters) - 2 plates on 1 sheet

Les Nouvellistes, Le Poele, Les Oeufs Cassés, Le Berceau, La Ferme, La Pompe, Le Cabaret de Moskou, Vue des Environs de Nerva, Les Filets, etc.

Eleven large plates, each on a single sheet:

Jesus dans le Temple,

Ie Pastorale,

IIe Pastorale,

Les Batteaux Russes,

Le Coche d'Eau,

La Recreation Champetre,

La Danse Russe,

Les Pecheurs,

Les Laveuses,

Le Repos, and

O Fortunatos nimium, sua si bona nôrint, Agricolas.

* The title pages clearly announces more than 160 plates, although we have never been able to trace a copy comprising more than the present number of 157 plates. 

See for example:

**  Though referring seldom to the corpus of prints per se, their ethnographic nature and "authenticity" have been contested:  see Stéphane Lojkine's article, La Russie de Leprince vue par Diderot,in Slavica Occitania, n°19, Toulouse, 2004, pp. 13-38 (