Event—Public Programming

Confined to Black And White? Reassessing the Value of the Printed Image in Louis XIV’S France

Intaglio print-making arrived in France towards the end of the 1500s and became a widely-used tool of communication within the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715). In characterizing the art of printmaking, the academician Charles Perrault (1628-1703) wrote, "Today there are as many ways of engraving as there are objects in the world. There are burin strokes to represent … even the subtlest colours, for all that engraving is confined to black and white." While intending to advocate for the importance of the print, Perrault constructed its limits. This paper will challenge long-entrenched approaches to the printed image to expose its radical and unique qualities, which, I argue, functioned as a central pillar of the visual culture of Louis XIV's France.