Jean Le Pautre (Lepautre or Lepaultre) (1618-1682) has been described as the most important ornament engraver of the 17th century. His prodigious output extended to more than 2000 prints, mostly from his own original designs.
He was not only the originator of the grandiose Louis XIV style but was also responsible for disseminating and popularising its full lavish repertoire throughout Europe. Le Pautre’s often over-elaborate and flamboyant designs frequently included arabesques, grotesques and cartouches, together with elements from classical mythology.
His diverse range of subject matter, influenced by his carpentry/joinery architectural background, included: friezes, wallpaper, grottoes, alcoves, fireplaces, furniture, murals, ceiling mouldings, fountains and grottoes.
A 3-volume series of his works was released in 1751 by Charles-Antoine Jombert of Paris, under the title: ‘Oeuvres D’Architecture De Jean Le Pautre’ and was recently uploaded by the University of Heidelberg. (Hint: to get to the thumbnails, click on ‘Titelblatt’, then the ’-’ symbol and arrow across to reach the 147 illustrations) The sample of images above are from Volume One which concentrates on the grotesque/arabesque prints.
- Biography at Artnet.
- Antiquarian Booksellers’ listing.
- Getty Museum biography and inventory listing at OAC.
- Related: Tales of the Arabesque at Giornale Nuovo; Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Le Pautre and he shared a mutual respect) at Lines and Colors.
Ornamental Decoration in 17th Century France