Gallery of prints for sale

Thursday 17 May 2018

Pierre Bulliard’s engraving, “Common Daisy”, 1780

Jean Baptiste François Pierre Bulliard (aka Pierre Bulliard) (1742–93)

“Plate 173: Bellis perennis (Common daisy), 1780, from “Herbier de la France, ou Collection complette des Plantes Indigènes de ce Royaume; avec leurs détails anatomiques, leurs propriétés, et leurs usages en Médecine.” (one of the first botanical books printed in colour and, interestingly, one of the few with plates designed and printed by the artist himself).

Engraving coloured by the painstaking and rare Le Blon-Gauthier process (i.e. these impressions are not coloured by watercolour or retouched by hand, but rather the prints were created through the superimposition of up to four plates inked separately by the technique called "à la poupée" for each colour).

Size: (sheet) 27 x 20.8 cm; (plate) 23.1 x 17.1 cm; (image borderline) 18 x 15.4 cm
See additional plates from this publication (“Herbier de la France”): 

Condition: faultless impression of this rare print with fine colouring by the Le Blon-Gauthier method. The sheet is in pristine condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, stains or foxing), backed on a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper.

I am selling this colour printed (as opposed to hand coloured) engraving from one of the first colour printed botanical books, for the total cost of AU$143 (currently US$107.46/EUR91.03/GBP79.57 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this beautiful botanical illustration that is also an historical milestone in colour printing, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

This seemingly simple botanical illustration is a milestone in colour printing. What makes it special is that the colours are printed (rather than coloured by hand) by the superimposition of up to four engraved plates inked separately by the technique called "à la poupée" for each colour. Not only was the process (called the Le Blon-Gauthier process) slow and laborious, but in the case of this print and the others illustrating “Herbier de la France …” it was engraved, inked, wiped and printed at each stage by the artist. In short, this print when it was being printed has only been touched by Bulliard himself.

To a certain extent, colour woodblock prints (like the previous one that I posted) also involve separate plates of different colours superimposed to create a single image, but any artist who has explored working with multiple colours using oil-based inks on an intaglio plate (unlike the water-based inks of woodblock prints) knows that the viscosity of each colour—i.e. its oil content—needs to be adjusted so that the colours “stick.”

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