Abraham Bosse

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Valet de Chambre
from a series of etchings of trades, Les Metiers
1635 Abraham Bosse Valet de chambre.jpg
Valet de Chambre from a series of etchings of trades, Les Metiers 1635

Abraham Bosse (1604 [1] 14 February 1676) was a French artist, mainly as a printmaker in etching, but also in watercolour.

French art

French art consists of the visual and plastic arts originating from the geographical area of France. Modern France was the main centre for the European art of the Upper Paleolithic, then left many megalithic monuments, and in the Iron Age many of the most impressive finds of early Celtic art. The Gallo-Roman period left a distinctive provincial style of sculpture, and the region around the modern Franco-German border led the empire in the mass production of finely decorated Ancient Roman pottery, which was exported to Italy and elsewhere on a large scale. With Merovingian art the story of French styles as a distinct and influential element in the wider development of the art of Christian Europe begins.

Etching intaglio printmaking technique

Etching is traditionally the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio (incised) in the metal. In modern manufacturing, other chemicals may be used on other types of material. As a method of printmaking, it is, along with engraving, the most important technique for old master prints, and remains in wide use today. In a number of modern variants such as microfabrication etching and photochemical milling it is a crucial technique in much modern technology, including circuit boards.

Watercolor painting Type of painting method using water-based solutions

Watercolor or watercolour, also aquarelle, is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. Watercolor refers to both the medium and the resulting artwork. Aquarelles painted with water-soluble colored ink instead of modern water colors are called "aquarellum atramento" by experts. However, this term has been more and more passing out of use.



He was born to Huguenot (Calvinist) parents in Tours, France, where his father had moved from Germany. His father was a tailor, and Bosse's work always depicted clothes in loving detail. [2] He married Catherine Sarrabat at Tours in 1632. He remained a Huguenot, dying before the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, but was happy to illustrate religious subjects to Catholic taste. [3]

Calvinism Protestant branch of Christianity

Calvinism is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians. Paul Helm, a well-known Reformed theologian, appropriately uses the term Augustinian Calvinism due to John Calvin's self-admitted adherence to Augustine's theology. "Augustine is so wholly within me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings."

Tours Prefecture and commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Tours is a city in the west of France. It is the administrative centre of the Indre-et-Loire department and the largest city in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France. In 2012, the city of Tours had 134,978 inhabitants, and the population of the whole metropolitan area was 483,744.

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.


Roughly 1600 etchings are attributed to him, with subjects including: daily life, [4] religion, [5] literature, [6] history [7] fashion, [8] technology, [9] and science. [10] Most of his output was illustrations for books, but many were also sold separately. His style grows from Dutch and Flemish art, but is given a strongly French flavour. Many of his images give informative detail about middle and upper-class daily life in the period, although they must be treated with care as historical evidence. [11] His combination of very carefully depicted grand interiors with relatively trivial domestic subjects [12] was original and highly influential on French art, and also abroad — William Hogarth's engravings are, among other things, a parody of the style. Most of his images are perhaps best regarded as illustrations rather than art.

Dutch art

Dutch art describes the history of visual arts in the Netherlands, after the United Provinces separated from Flanders. Earlier painting in the area is covered in Early Netherlandish painting and Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting.

Flemish painting paintings from Flanders from the early 15th century until the 17th century

Flemish painting flourished from the early 15th century until the 17th century, gradually becoming distinct from the painting of the rest of the Low Countries, especially the modern Netherlands. In the early period, up to about 1520, the painting of the whole area is typically considered as a whole, as Early Netherlandish painting. This was dominated by the Flemish south, but painters from the north were also important. Dutch and Flemish Renaissance painting, of which Antwerp became the centre, covers the period up to about 1580 or later, by the end of which the north and south Netherlands had become politically separated. Flemish Baroque painting was especially important in the first half of the 17th century, dominated by Rubens.

William Hogarth English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist

William Hogarth was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. His work ranges from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects", He is perhaps best known for his series A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode. Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".

Watercolour of a ball by Abraham Bosse, a similar subject to many of his most famous etchings Abraham Bosse 001.jpg
Watercolour of a ball by Abraham Bosse, a similar subject to many of his most famous etchings

He was apprenticed in Paris about 1620 to the Antwerp-born engraver Melchior Tavernier, who was also an important publisher. His first etchings date to 1622, and are influenced by Jacques Bellange. Following a meeting in Paris about 1630, he became a follower of Jacques Callot, whose technical innovations in etching he popularised in a famous and much translated Manual of Etching (1645), the first to be published. [13] He took Callot's highly detailed small images to a larger size, and a wider range of subject matter.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Antwerp Municipality in Flemish Community, Belgium

Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and is the capital of Antwerp province in Flanders. With a population of 520,504, it is the most populous city proper in Belgium, and with a metropolitan area housing around 1,200,000 people, it's the second largest metropolitan region after Brussels in Belgium.

Melchior Tavernier Flemish printmaker (1594-1665)

Melchior Tavernier (1594–1665) was a French engraver, printmaker and print publisher.

Unlike Callot, his declared aim, in which he largely succeeded, was to make etchings look like engravings, to which end he sacrificed willingly the freedom of the etched line, whilst certainly exploiting to the full the speed of the technique. Like most etchers, he frequently used engraving on a plate in addition to etching, but produced no pure engravings.

Engraving practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it

Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, usually flat surface by cutting grooves into it with a burin. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper as prints or illustrations; these images are also called "engravings". Engraving is one of the oldest and most important techniques in printmaking. Wood engraving is a form of relief printing and is not covered in this article.


In 1641, he began to attend classes given by the architect Girard Desargues (15911661) on perspective and other technical aspects of depiction. Bosse not only adopted these methods but also published a series of works between 16431653 explaining and promoting them. [14]

Girard Desargues French mathematician and engineer

Girard Desargues was a French mathematician and engineer, who is considered one of the founders of projective geometry. Desargues' theorem, the Desargues graph, and the crater Desargues on the Moon are named in his honour.

In 1648, when Cardinal Mazarin established the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture, Bosse was made a founding member. However his publicising of Desargues' methods embroiled him in a controversy with Charles Le Brun and his followers who had different methods, and also a belief that "genius" rather than technical method should be the guide in creating artworks. In 1661 Bosse was forced to withdraw from the Academy; he established his own school as an alternative.

Major works

Etchings & Images

Frontispiece for Hobbes' Leviathan. Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.jpg
Frontispiece for Hobbes' Leviathan.

Later Collections

Related Research Articles

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  1. Based on recent research, his date of birth has been corrected to 1604 from the traditionally given birth year of 1602. Bosse's apprenticeship contract was found in which it is mentioned that he was aged 16 at the date of signing the contract (16 June 1620). http://www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/actualites/celebrations2004/abosse.htm
  2. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/017.htm
  3. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/118.htm
  4. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/074.htm
  5. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/109.htm
  6. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/106.htm
  7. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/168.htm
  8. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/040.htm
  9. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/215.htm
  10. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/195.htm
  11. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/081.htm
  12. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/070.htm
  13. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/209.htm
  14. http://expositions.bnf.fr/bosse/grand/278.htm
  15. Guerriaud, Mathieu (2013-09-01). "[Abraham Bosse and the dean's engraving] Abraham Bosse et La gravure du Doyen". Revue d'histoire de la pharmacie. LXI (378/379). ISSN   0035-2349.