Picart, Bernard

, a famous engraver, was son of Stephen Picart, a good engraver also, and born at Paris in 1673. * He learned the principles of design, and the elements of his art, from his father, and studied architecture and perspective under Sebastian le Clerc. His uncommon talents in this way soon began to shew themselves and, at ten years of age, he engraved the hermaphrodite of | Poussin, which was soon followed by two pieces of cardinal de Richelieu’s tomb. These works laid the foundation of that great reputation which this celebrated artist afterwards acquired. When he was grown up, he went into Holland, where his parents had settled themselves; and, after two years’ stay, returned to Paris, and married a lady who died soon after. Having embraced the reformed religion, he returned to Holland in 1710, for the sake of that freedom in the exercise of it, which he could not have at Paris; but connoisseurs are of opinion, that in attempting to please the taste of the Dutch, he lost much of the spirited manner in which he executed his works while in France, and on which they tell us his reputation was more firmly founded. Others inform us, that he was not so fond of engraving as of drawing, that he took up the graver with reluctance, and consequently many of his prints are better drawn than engraved. The greater part of his life was certainly spent in making compositions and drawings, which are said to have been very highly finished; and they are sufficient testimonies of the fertility of his genius, and the excellency of his judgment. He understood the human figure extremely well, and drew it with a tolerable degree of correctness, especially in small subjects. He worked much for the booksellers, and book-plates are by far the best part of his works. The multitude of these which he engraved, chiefly from his own compositions, is astonishing. One estimate makes them amount to 1300 pieces. The most capital of his separate plates is the “Massacre of the Innocents,” a small plate lengthways. After his death, which happened April 27, 1733, his friends published a small folio volume, called the “Innocent Impostures;” a set of prints from the designs of the great masters, in which he has attempted to imitate the styles of the old engravers. Strutt, who has, with apparent justice, censured this production, in the essay prefixed to his second volume, laments that Picart’s friends shouldhave been so injudicious as to publish what must diminish our respect for this artist. 1

1 Dict. Hist.Strutt’s Dictionary There is a life and list of his works preixed to the “Innocent Impostures.