Anne Allen etched this image from the design by Jean Baptiste Pillement
Pillement, the designer of this imaginative scene, ranks among the most prolific developers of “chinoiserie”: a style of Western decoration featuring exotic, often purely fantastical motifs, whose name (French for “Chinese-esque”) misleadingly suggests a direct relationship to Chinese art. In a peripatetic career that took him across Europe, and brought him into collaboration with many printmakers, Pillement’s imagination never waned, and his innumerable designs would be adapted for use in textiles, wallpapers, tableware, and furniture—readily recognizable images that continue to epitomize the Rococo style today.
The etcher of Amherst’s sheet stands as the most effective translator of Pillement’s work: Anne Allen, who encountered the French-born designer in London (where he passed the longest sojourn of his career), and who began making prints after his designs in the 1770s. In 1799, following the death of his first wife, the two married, and continued their artistic collaboration.
Allen printed the present work using the latest method in color printing: applying different hues of ink to selected portions of each plate using a dauber. That tool’s shape (comprised of a round head on a straight handle) inspired the technical term for this method of printing: “à la poupée,” French for “with the doll.”
machines; men; fishing; fish; speed; design; vegetation; writing; rivers; boats
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