Art Talk: Precious Deception—The Illegal Use of Gold Leaf in an 18th-Century Print

November 24, 2020
Louis-Marin Bonnet, French, The Woman Taking Coffee, 1774. Stipple, etching, engraving, and gold leaf. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Susan and Richard Bennett Fund and through the generosity of two anonymous donors, M23100.

This handsome engraving, with its printed gold-leaf frame, was made by Louis-Marin Bonnet, one of the most gifted and innovative producers of full-color prints in 18th-century France. However, the inclusion of gold leaf in the print was illegal. In this talk, visiting senior scholar Margaret Morgan Grasselli discusses Bonnet’s elaborate efforts to conceal his authorship, pretending that the print had originated in England and had been made by a mysterious artist named “L. Marin.”

This video is part of our Art Talk series, in which our team of curators, conservators, fellows, and graduate students shares short, informal videos that offer an up-close look at works from our collections.  

Speaker:
Margaret Morgan Grasselli, Visiting Senior Scholar for Drawings, Division of European and American Art, Harvard Art Museums, and Visiting Lecturer, History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University

Work discussed:
Louis-Marin Bonnet, French, The Woman Taking Coffee, 1774. Stipple, etching, engraving, and gold leaf. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Susan and Richard Bennett Fund and through the generosity of two anonymous donors, M23100.