BONNET, Louis-Marin direxit (1736-93):

Première feuille d’Arabesques,
after Carle (first name unknown)

Wash manner (tonal intaglio technique) printed in several colours from multiple plates. Hérold 967
Provenance: J. Hérold (without mark)

A very good impression with fresh colours, on the full sheet. A rust-mark in the upper right plate margin, a pale pink stain at the left plate edge, pale scattered foxing largely in the margins, a water stain in the upper left corner of the margin, very slight rubbing in the brown background, generally in good condition. 255 x 202mm.

Bonnet was central to the perfection of colour printing in France. He is famous for having succeeded in printing in gold (while using subterfuge to evade the taxes due on its use), but his substitution of brown in many prints conveys a similar effect, as here. According to Hérold some impressions of this plate exist in which the background is blue. He acted as publisher and dealer for many of his prints, and it is not clear here how far his own hand was directly involved in the superlative execution, but the exacting and labour-intensive technique is certainly due to him, and resulted in prints such as these being very rare. Fewer than six flower prints with dark backgrounds have been found at auction in the past twenty years.