Elegance and Intrigue: French Society in 18th-Century Prints and Drawings
Sumptuous designs, classical tales, political zeal, and erotic rendezvous pervade this selection of more than ninety prints, drawings, and decorative objects from the final decades of the ancien régime through the French Revolution and the early years of Napoleon’s empire.
In celebration of the CMA’s centennial year, Elegance and Intrigue: French Society in 18th-Century Prints and Drawings showcases works from the museum’s collection, including a rare impression of Jean-Antoine Watteau’s etching The Clothes Are Italian, several prints and drawings by court favorite François Boucher, and Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s ravishing drawing Invocation to Love.
At the heart of the exhibition is a selection of color etchings and engravings meticulously crafted to imitate chalk and gouache drawings, a trend in elite home décor at the time. Charles Thévenin’s expressive etching The Storming of the Bastille captures a sense of revolutionary spirit, while Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier’s Tureen, a quintessential masterpiece of silverwork fashioned for the English duke of Kingston, is displayed alongside Gabriel Huquier’s etching featuring two views of the tureen set in a lavish rococo interior.