17. Louis-Marin Bonnet

The Lady ta King Coffee; The Milk Woman

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Bonet, The Lady ta King Coffee; The Milk Woman

The Lady ta King Coffee; The Milk Woman

Other Images:

Color tool-work engravings with hand-applied gold leaf, 1774, 300 x 238 and 297 x 242 mm., Hérold 294 and 295, National Gallery catalog (Colorful Impressions) 30 and 31, ex collection: William Salomon (not in Lugt) and later sold by Knoedler & Co. Fine, bright impressions on laid paper trimmed outside the borderlines, barely into the bottom of the text on the first, removing most of the text on the second; slight wear on the gold leaf in places, and some dirt, stains and edge repairs in the blank plate margins and verso. The story of this famous and rare pair of engravings, their false identity, their false nationality and their striking use of gold leaf is one of the great curiosities of print-making history. Bonnet’s name appears nowhere on the prints (he did, however, make them). Instead, they are ostensibly after or by a fictitious painter whom Bonnet chose to call Marin, and they are, by evidence of the English titles (Bonnet’s English was imperfect, hence mistakenly printed “ta King” for “Taking”), supposedly English-made prints, which Bonnet, again ostensibly, merely imported and sold at his shop. Although absent here, the name of an English publisher was also printed. The reason for all this subterfuge is that the use of gold leaf was officially restricted in France and Bonnet was clearly in violation of the law. These were the first such prints he produced (they constituted a virtual revolution in the appearance of prints) and though he went on to produce several more, the authorities finally caught on to him and put a stop to his efforts. Exceptionally beautiful prints in their old frames but with newly-made French mats.

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