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Sold at Auction: Hubert François Gravelot

Alias:Hubert François "Bourguignon d'" Anville BourguignonHubert-François Bourguignon d'AnvilleHubert François BourguignonHubert-François Bourguignon GravelotHenri GravelotHubert GravelotHubert François Gravelot


Hubert-François Bourguignon, commonly known as Gravelot (26 March 1699 – 20 April 1773), was a French engraver, a famous book illustrator, designer and drawing-master. Born in Paris, he emigrated to London in 1732, where he quickly became a central figure in the introduction of the Rococo style in British design, which was disseminated from London in this period, through the media of book illustrations and engraved designs as well as by the examples of luxury goods in the "French taste" brought down from London to provincial towns and country houses.

Early career: His years in London, 1732–45 were fruitful ones. They coincided with a period when Britain and France were not at war.Though French-trained craftsmen, engravers and even some painters, were already working in London, but the Rococo style in luxury works of art was relatively new: the Spitalfields silk industry, always dominated by Parisian innovations rendered by Huguenot designers and weavers, produced its earliest asymmetrical and naturalistic floral designs in the early 1730s, and the earliest identified full-blown Rococo piece of London silver, by the second-generation Huguenot Paul de Lamerie, can be dated about 1731. Gravelot's trip was not a speculation; he had been invited by Claude du Bosc to engrave designs for an English translation of Bernard Picart's Ceremonies and Religious Customs of... the Known World.The chronicler of English art and artists George Vertue, an engraver himself, soon took note of Gravelot: "His Manner of designing neat and correct much like Picart" he noted in 1733. "A very curious pen & writes neatly. He has been lately in Glocestershire where he was imployed to drawn Antient Monuments in Churches & other Antiquities... He has tryd at painting a small piece or two."

George Vertue noted in 1741 that Gravelot's "drawings for Engraving and all other kinds of Gold & Silver works shews he is endowed with a great fruitfull genius for desseins inventions of history and ornaments"

By that time Gravelot had become a central figure in the artistic set that gathered at Slaughter's Coffee House in St Martin's Lane and formed the St. Martin's Lane Academy organised by William Hogarth in the premises of his father-in-law Sir James Thornhill. The St. Martin's Lane Academy was an unofficial precursor of the Royal Academy at a time when there were no public exhibitions of art in London, no annual salons as in Paris, no public museums and no places to see or copy from good examples of paintings save in the houses of the rich or noble. As a drawing-master Gravelot had Thomas Gainsborough for a pupil.

Late career: Gravelot's rococo book illustrations in London reached a peak in the designs he contributed to Theobald's 1740 edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare, for which Gravelot provided 35 frontispieces.
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