Louis Bonnet, Provoking Fidelity, a print

France, AD 1775

Fancy prints of attractive young women were popular in Paris and London in the last decades of the French Ancien Régime, before power was wrested from the monarchy in 1789 at the French Revolution. The mild eroticism of the low-cut dress and see-through black gauze in this signed and dated print is rendered innocent by the puppy's devotion. The novelty of this kind of print lay not in its subject, but in the multiple colours with which it is printed.

The crayon manner technique for reproducing chalk drawings in three-colour prints had been invented by J.C. François in 1757, and Bonnet was his pupil. Bonnet extended the technique to suggest tone and printed additional colours, calling his new method the pastel manner.

In addition to the touches of red on the girl's lips and nipple, he has printed plates in yellow and blue, combining them in the chair to create green. The puppy is printed in brown. The printed gold frame was an important innovation, since it could double the price of a print. However the use of gold was restricted to traditional crafts, such as bookbinding and frame gilding. To by-pass this regulation, Bonnet pretended that his gold-framed prints were English imports. The title is given in English, with the name and address of a London printseller, Franics Vivares.

Bonnet's most elaborate pastel manner print, the Head of Flora (1769), was printed from eight plates and won him a pension from the king.

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More information

Bibliography

V. Carlson and J. Ittmann, Regency to empire: French prin, exh. cat. (Baltimore Museum of Art, 1984)

Dimensions

Height: 286.000 mm
Width: 237.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1875-7-10-2915

PPA50851

Location

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