Friday, November 15, 2013
Born to a family of ornamental sculptors & gilders, Le Prince began studying art with Francois Boucher (1703–70) around 1750. In 1754, the young artist traveled to Italy. By 1757, Le Prince was painting for Catherine the Great at the Imperial Palace in Saint Petersburg. He traveled extensively in Russia, Lithuania, Finland, Holland, & perhaps Siberia, returning to Paris 5 years later eager to make a name for himself. The sketches Le Prince made on his travels of exotic costumes & customs served him well, when he returned to France in 1763. He became a copper engraver, & a genre, landscape & portrait painter. He is also credited with being the first artist to introduce aquatint into his etched & engraved plates. Upon becoming a member of the Académie Royale in 1765, Le Prince exhibited 15 paintings at that year's Salon, all Russian subjects. The drawings he made in Russia provided the basis for a considerable body of work that added to the general taste of 18th century Europeans for exotica. After 1770, Le Prince's health declined, & he left Paris for the French countryside. There he painted the pastoral subjects; which he had learned from Boucher as a young man & from the 17th-century Dutch & Flemish genre & landscape painters, which he so admired.