French painter, draughtsman and printmaker. Born to a family of ornamental sculptors and gilders, he became famous for creating a new kind of genre picture, based on the direct observation of Russian subjects, and also for perfecting aquatint technique. Sometime around 1750 he became a pupil of Franois Boucher,
thanks to the protection of the Marchal de Belle-Isle (1684-1761), governor of Metz. Boucher s saturated brushwork, highly finished surfaces and incisive drawing had a decisive impact upon the young artist, as did, perhaps, the diversity of his output. He was also inspired by 17th-century Dutch and Flemish genre and landscape painters.
By 1757 Le Prince was painting at the Imperial Palace in St Petersburg. He traveled extensively in Russia, perhaps even to Siberia. Returning to Paris five years later and eager to make a name for himself, Le Prince created paintings and etchings of the Russian countryside and daily life,
often using Russian costumes and small mannequins to get the exactitude he desired. Le Prince not only became famous for creating this new kind of genre picture, but he also perfected the technique of making aquatints.
Upon becoming a member of the Acadmie Royale in 1765, Le Prince exhibited fifteen paintings at that year s Salon, all Russian subjects. The Beauvais Tapestry Manufactory wove his Russian Games tapestry cartoons many times. After 1770 Le Prince s health declined and he left Paris for the French countryside, where he painted landscapes and pastoral subjects.
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