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The Dramatic Image: Baroque Prints of the 17th Century

Jean Bérain
French, 1640–1711

Ornemens Inventez par J. Bérain (Ornaments Designed by J. Bérain)

Published by Jacques Thuret, Paris 1711
Engraving, 1710
Purchased with funds from the Libbey Endowment, Gift of Edward Drummond Libbey, 1983.104

John Bérain was an architect and designer who specialized in whimsical decorations known as “grotesques.” Grotesques were popular in the 16th and 17th centuries and fit nicely with the Baroque period’s delight with fantasy. His designs were used for furniture decoration, tapestries, and ceramics.Bérain studied with Charles LeBrun (see LeBrun’s work in this catalogue), the most influential arbiter of artistic taste in the court of Louis XIV. Indeed, Bérain was himself appointed to the court of Louis XIV in 1674 as designer of the House and the Royal Collection and he became the official decorator of the Royal Academy of Music in 1680.