Aug 20, 2015

The Pranksters (Les Espiègles)

The Pranksters (Les Espiègles)

c. 1798

Charles-Melchior Descourtis

(French, 1753–1820)

after Frédéric Schall

(French, 1752–1825)

Wash manner etching and engraving printed in blue, red, yellow, and black

Sheet: 57 x 45 cm (22 7/16 x 17 11/16 in.); to borderline: 46.4 x 37.4 cm (18 1/4 x 14 3/4 in.)

Gift of the Print Club of Cleveland in honor of the museum's one-hundredth anniversary 2015.150

Catalogue raisonné: Portalis & Béraldi 3; Model/Springer p. 50, plate 20.



This meticulously crafted color print reproduces an oil painting by Jean-Frédéric Schall, an artist best known for his pastoral and mildly erotic scenes.During the French Revolution (1789–99), the market for deluxe color prints declined, as titillating subjects and signs of luxury were considered immoral. When attitudes relaxed around 1800, printmakers like Descourtis made a few color prints using multiple plates to layer tinted inks as they had before the Revolution. However, this time-consuming and expensive process was soon replaced by hand coloring that workers could more cheaply and easily accomplish.

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