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

Within the oval opening of a rectangular gold frame, a woman seen in half-length pours steaming liquid from a cup into a saucer held in her left hand.  She is looking down and is turned slightly to the left; a striped scarf is draped over her shoulders.
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.

Gallery Talk

This event was recorded. Please view the talk here.

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 will discuss 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.”

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

This free talk will take place online via Zoom. To join, follow this link: (pre-registration not required).

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Art Talks Live offer an up-close look at works from our collections with our team of curators, conservators, fellows, and graduate students. Presented live via Zoom on every other Thursday afternoon at 2pm, these short talks—along with our Art Talks video series—investigate artists’ materials and techniques, reveal our latest discoveries, offer a fresh look at old favorites, and explore big ideas using the collections of the Harvard Art Museums.

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