Over the course of the 18th century a great number of artists, ranging from established painters and sculptors to amateurs, experimented with etching, an accessible form of printmaking akin to drawing. In a period when artists strained to navigate the highly regulated Académie Royale and the increasingly discordant public spheres of the marketplace and the Salon, etching afforded them stylistic freedom and allowed them to produce exquisite works of art in a spirit of collaboration and experimentation.
Featuring works by Watteau, Boucher, Fragonard, Hubert Robert, and many others, Artists and Amateurs embarks on a fresh exploration of how etching flourished in ancien régime France, shedding new light on artistic practice and patronage at that time. Treating such topics as technique and practice, experimentation, and the crucial role of the amateur, it establishes the unique place of etching in the shifting social terrain of 18th-century Paris, and explores an artistic context in which conventional hierarchies of genre and medium were breached to brilliant effect.
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