Emanuel von Baeyer

La Toilette de Vénus. 1783

Jean-François Janinet
1752 – Paris – 1814

Colour etching and engraving after François Boucher. Size of sheet: 49.9 x 39.3 cm. IFF. vol. XII, 39 (III./ IV.). P.& B. vol. II, 3 (II./ III.). Jean Richard, Boucher, 1978, cat. no. 1225 (III./ IV). Exh. cat. Regency to Empire, 1985, p. 260, cat. no. 91. M. Morgan Grasselli, p. 100-1, cat. 47b.

Excellent early state, before the removal of the putti dressing Venus’s hair, and untrimmed impression with small margins.

An undescribed intermediate state: a progress proof without the yellow plate. Janinet was still experimenting in the early states with every individual pull and due to the very rapid wear of the plates he made adjustments.

Janinet also tried to give each impression a balanced colour palette and an individual look. In this impression there is a cooler palette, lacking the yellow tone, giving the feel of an early evening rather than a warmer and bright summer morning.

There are other examples known of progress proofs by colour printmakers such as the famous Tête de Flore by Louis Marie Bonnet and the Noce de village by Charles-Melchior Descourtis (both in the National Gallery, Washington, inv. nos. 1946.21.48 and 1958.8.77-86).

This is “one of Janinet’s most important prints” (Washington, p. 100). The painting by François Boucher (now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York) was originally commissioned by Madame de Pompadour and completed in 1751. When Janinet produced this print in 1783 the image was well out of fashion but he still managed to ask a price of 12 livres which was the highest charged for any of his individual prints.

Early impressions are few, but as an intermediate state like ours it is extremely rare, maybe unique.