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Portraits Des Grands Hommes, Femmes Illustres, Et Sujets Mémorables de France, gravés et imprimés en couleurs. dédiés Au Roi.

RA Collection: Book

Record number



A Paris.: Chez Blin, Imprimeur en Taille-Douce, Place Maubert, No. 17, vis-à-vis la rue des trois Portes. Avec privil. du Roi., [1786-88]

Physical Description

Engr. t.-pl., engr. dedic., [64] eng. pl. (printed in colour); 324 mm.

General Note

Printed throughout in colour from multiple copperplates.The 64 plates included in this copy are bound (and were probably issued) in the following sequence: A1, A2, E1, E2, C3, C4, Q3, Q4, C5, C6, C7, C8, B3, B4, B5, B6, C9, C10, C11, C12, C13, C14, C15, C16, C17, C18, C19, C20, AA3, AA4, &3, &4, O3, O3, N3, N3, K3, K4, N5, N6, L3, L4, K5, K6, G1, [unnumbered], K5, K6, N7, N8, F3, F4, G3, G4, F5, F6, &5, &6, G5, G6, E3, E4, G7, G8.


[T.-pl., engr. dedic.] - [plates].

Responsibility Note

The engraved title-plate is unsigned; the dedication is signed as engraved by Beaublé. Most of the other plates are signed as drawn by Sergent (one by Benard, two by Duplessis Bertaux, two by Le Barbier), and as engraved by Ridé, L. Roger, J. Morret or Le Coeur. Each plate carries the publisher's imprint of Blin. The work is dedicated by Pierre Blin to the King (Louis XVI).


M.M. Grasselli, Colorful impressions: the printmaking revolution in eighteenth-century France [exhibition catalogue] (2003); S. Lambert, The image multiplied: five centuries of printed reproductions (1987); Collection De Vinck: un siecle d'histoire de France par l'estampe: 1770-1871 ... inventaire analytique par F.-L. Bruel ... (1909-), no. 369. A survey of developments in Britain is Color printing in England, 1486-1870 [exhibition catalogue] (1978).

Summary Note

Issued serially in parts, four plates at a time, this copy represents the first sixteen 'livraisons' only. Blin continued to issue the series until 1792, by which time a total of 192 had been appeared. The rationale of the lettering and numbering is not explained. The plates form pairs - the first showing a portrait of a celebrated person, the second some event connected with him or her. The six pairs of plates showing women are the sequence AA3, 4; &3, 4; O3, 3; N3, 3; K3, 4; and N5, 6. All plates have engraved captions, and those showing the historical events are accompanied by engraved explanatory text.


Purchased in 1788 via John Boydell for £5 5s. against a credit note of £7 10s. on account with Basan & Poignant in Paris (see Basan's bill for '1. Suitte des 1.ere Livraisons des grands hommes en couleurs' endorsed by Chambers as 'Allowed them in Account Novr 18th 1788'; RA Cashbook 1769-95, Nov. 1788: 'Basan for 16 Numbrs.: £5: 5s.).

Binding Note

20th-century half morocco, brown cloth-covered boards; brown morocco spine-label lettered 'Portraits Des Grands Hommes Etc.', spine lettered 'R.A.'


Celebrities - France - History
Biography - Portraits
Pictorial works - Aquatints - Color prints - Colour printing - France - 18th century


Pierre Blin, printer, publisher
Louis XVI King of France, dedicatee
Antoine-François Sergent, draughtsman
Beaublé, engraver
Jean Duplessis-Bertaux, draughtsman
Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier, draughtsman
Jacques François Bénard, draughtsman
Ridé, engraver
Louis Roger, engraver
Jean Baptiste Morret, engraver
Louis Lecoeur, engraver