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Nanteuil, Robert

(1623 - 1678)

Robert Nanteuil (1623 - 1678), French line-engraver, was born about 1623, or, as other authorities state, in 1630, the son of a merchant of Reims.

Having received an excellent classical education, he studied engraving under his brother-in-law, Nicholas Regnesson; and, his crayon portraits having attracted attention, he was pensioned by Louis XIV and appointed designer and engraver of the cabinet to that monarch. It was mainly due to his influence that the king granted the edict of 1660, dated from St Jean de Luz, by which engraving was pronounced free and distinct from the mechanical arts, and its practitioners were declared entitled to the privileges of other artists. He died at Paris in 1678.

The plates of Nanteuil, several of them approaching the scale of life,(they were very dull and boring), number about three hundred. In his early practice he imitated the technique of his predecessors, working with straight lines, strengthened, but not crossed, in the shadows, in the style of Claude Mellan, and in other prints cross-hatching like Regnesson, or stippling in the manner of Jean Boulanger; but he gradually asserted his full individuality, modelling the faces of his portraits with the utmost precision and completeness, and employing various methods of touch for the draperies and other parts of his plates. Among the finest works of his fully developed period may be named the portraits of Pomponne de Bellièvre, Gilles Ménage, Jean Loret, the duc de la Meilleraye and the duchess de Nemours.
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