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    Bears attribution to mount in pencil

    Red chalks on laid paper with an indistinct watermark

    21 x 15 cm





    Le Prince, born in Metz, studied first under Francois Boucher in Paris, before embarking on a brief trip to Italy in 1754. In 1758, Le Prince travelled to Russia, which was to be a pivotal moment in his career: despite having little to no reputation professionally, he found himself commissioned to paint a ceiling decoration in the newly-constructed Winter Palace in St Petersburg, only a few weeks after his arrival in the country. He would remain there for five years, working primarily at the Winter Palace on further decorations; however, he also travelled extensively throughout the vast expanse of the Russian empire, making studies of Russian life, dress, scenery and local customs. These studies would serve as the inspiration behind much of Le Prince’s later works, both for paintings and prints, following his return to France in c.1762.


    The first major publication of works relating to his Russian sojourn came in 1764, when the artist announced the publication of a large series of prints  - titled ‘Cinq suites d’Habillemens d’après le figures dessinées en Russie’ - which was followed swiftly by further etchings of his Russian subjects, published in 1765, and two more related series published in 1767 and 1768. Printmakers such as Gilles Demarteau and Louis-Marin Bonnet also produced prints after Le Prince’s Russian drawings during this period, helping to spread his name far and wide among the collectors of Europe. These print series undoubtedly helped to win him election to the Académie Royale in 1765, with his election painting titled ‘The Russian Baptism’. In the same year, Le Prince exhibited fifteen paintings of Russian subjects at the Paris Salon, an indication of the popularity of the subject within France at the time (mirrored in the Russian court’s extreme Francophilia). Shortly after his debut at the Salon, Le Prince provided thirty-two drawings to illustrate the Abbé Jean Chappe d’Auteroche’s ‘Voyage en Sibérie’, published in 1768.

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