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Alastair Laing

(b Paris, Sept 29, 1703; d Paris, May 30, 1770).

French painter, draughtsman and etcher. Arguably it was he, more than any other artist, who set his stamp on both the fine arts and the decorative arts of the 18th century. Facilitated by the extraordinary proliferation of engravings, Boucher successfully fed the demand for imitable imagery at a time when most of Europe sought to follow what was done at the French court and in Paris. He did so both as a prolific painter and draughtsman (he claimed to have produced some 10,000 drawings during his career) and through engravings after his works, the commercial potential of which he seems to have been one of the first artists to exploit. He reinvented the genre of the pastoral, creating an imagery of shepherds and shepherdesses as sentimental lovers that was taken up in every medium, from porcelain to toile de Jouy, and that still survives in a debased form. At the same time, his manner of painting introduced the virtuosity and freedom of the sketch into the finished work, promoting painterliness as an end in itself. This approach dominated French painting until the emergence of Neo-classicism, when criticism was heaped on Boucher and his followers. His work never wholly escaped this condemnation, even after the taste for French 18th-century art started to revive in the second half of the 19th century. In his own day, the fact that he worked for both collectors and the market, while retaining the prestige of a history painter, had been both Boucher’s strength and a cause of his decline....


David Alexander

(b in or near Dublin, c. 1710; d London, April 2, 1762).

Irish painter, mezzotint-engraver and porcelain manufacturer, active in England. He probably trained in Dublin, benefiting from the example of the portrait painter James Latham. However, there were few opportunities for portrait painters in Dublin, and by 1735 he had moved to London. He was sufficiently established by 1736 to be commissioned by the Saddlers’ Company, London, to paint a full-length portrait of Frederick, Prince of Wales (destr.; version, Windsor Castle, Berks, Royal Col., see Millar, no. 543). Frye engraved this portrait himself in mezzotint (1741; see Chaloner Smith). He also worked as a miniature painter, both in oil and in pencil. He quickly matured into a confident and assured portrait painter and could undoubtedly have made a greater name for himself, but he chose to join Edward Heylyn (1695–after 1758) in the attempt to produce porcelain at the Bow Factory, London. In 1744 they took out a patent for a new method, using china clay brought to England from the North American colony of Georgia by ...


Norman Stretton

(b Badsey, Hereford & Worcs, bapt April 7, 1731; d Brislington, Avon, Oct 14, 1817).

English engraver and painter. He was apprenticed to George Anderton, an engraver, in Birmingham on 28 January 1745. In 1756 he joined the Worcester Porcelain Company of Dr John Wall (1708–76). He became a partner in the firm in March 1772. At Worcester, Hancock engraved copperplates for transfer-printing on porcelain. Many designs were adapted from contemporary engravings and paintings, particularly those of the French schools; such romantic scenes as Amusements champêtres and Fêtes vénitiennes were derived from compositions by Antoine Watteau. A series of children’s games, including Battledore and Shuttlecock, Blind Man’s Buff and Marbles, are based on a series of compositions engraved by Gravelot. Mugs with portraits of Frederick II, King of Prussia, dated 1757 (for illustration see Worcester), are based on an engraving by Richard Houston after a painting by Antoine Pesne and are among the best-known examples of Hancock’s work. The English schools also provided subjects for Hancock’s engravings. A half-length portrait of George III decorates Worcester mugs together with one of Queen Charlotte, both likenesses after engravings by ...


David Blayney Brown

(b Dinsdale, Co. Durham, 1647; d York, 1728).

English draughtsman, printmaker and potter. Of a Yorkshire family living in Durham, Place was intended for the Bar, and he entered Gray’s Inn, London, in 1665. However, a meeting with Wenzel Hollar confirmed his early inclination to art. Place was collaborating with him as early as 1665, and it was presumably Hollar who taught him to etch, for in 1667 he produced several etchings of grotesque heads, two of them after Francesco Parmigianino (e.g. London, BM) and David Teniers. Place was one of several artists invited by Hollar to etch the plates for John Ogilby’s edition of Jan Nieuhoff’s Embassy to the Emperor of China (London, 1669). The 17 plates signed by Place and 23 others attributable to him were his first book illustrations and his earliest essays in topography.

In the mid-1670s Place journeyed around England and probably the Netherlands, for he made drawings of places around Antwerp and The Hague, and some of his etchings bear the names of Dutch publishers such as ...


Dario Succi

(b Angarano di Bassano, March 30, 1740; d Rome, Sept 22, 1803).

Italian engraver and porcelain manufacturer ( see fig. ). In 1760 he entered the famous copperplate printworks of Giambattista Remondini in Bassano and, under the guidance of Antonio Baratti, learnt the art of engraving and etching. During this early period he engraved, signing himself Jean Renard, four Rustic Capricci after Giovanni Battista Piazzetta, the Four Parts of the World after Jacopo Amigoni, the Four Ages of Man after Andrea Zucchi and the portrait of Giambattista Morgagni. On the invitation of Francesco Bartolozzi, who had noted his talent during a visit to Bassano, he moved to Venice in 1762 and was thus able to refine his technique while maintaining his connection with the Remondini concern as a technical consultant and commercial adviser.

In Venice, Volpato engraved four landscapes after Francesco Zuccarelli, six landscapes after Marco Ricci, four religious scenes after Amigoni, the Four Seasons and six Flemish Scenes after Francesco Maggiotto, as well as various portraits, including those of the ...