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Duplessis, Georges Victor Antoine

    Image Credit: Wikidata

    Full Name: Duplessis, Georges Victor Antoine

    Other Names:

    • Georges Victor Antoine Gratet-Duplessis

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 19 March 1834

    Date Died: 26 March 1899

    Place Born: Chartres, Centre-Val de Loire, France

    Place Died: Paris, Île-de-France, France

    Home Country/ies: France

    Subject Area(s): prints (visual works)

    Career(s): curators


    Curator Print Room Bibliothèque nationale; self-trained specialist in the history of engraving. The father of Duplessis was Pierre Alexandre Gratet-Duplessis (1792-1853), who had held positions of recteur at the academies of Douai and Lyon between 1827 and 1830. After his retirement, in 1841, he settled in Paris, where he devoted himself to the education of his son. The younger Duplessis had an exceptional passion for images and prints. He attended the Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris. After his father’s death, in 1853, he entered the Print Room of the Bibliothèque nationale as an intern. His first years of service in this institution already were significant. As soon as 1855 he published a new edition of Le Livre des peintres et graveurs par Michel de Marolles, abbé de Villeloin (1600-1681). With Anatole de Montaiglon he co-authored a study on the French sculptor Jean Antoine Houdon in the Revue universelle des arts (1855-1856), and he was an art critic for engraving at the 1855 Salon. His catalog of the oeuvre of the seventeenth-century French engraver Abraham Bosse appeared in the Revue universelle des arts (1859). Duplessis was a contributor to the Gazette des Beaux-Arts and Magasin pittoresque. In addition to the edition of several catalogs and inventories, he wrote a number of monographs on engraving, his main field of interest. Duplessis earned the Prix Bordin from the Académie des Beaux-Arts for his 1861 study, Histoire de la gravure en France. He then traveled to Rome. He wrote an overview on historic costumes for a two-volume plate book of engravings after drawings by Edward Lechevallier-Chevignard, published in 1867, Costumes historiques des XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. In 1869 a more popularizing book followed, Les merveilles de la gravure, which appeared in an English translation a year later. In the tumultuous year of the occupation of Paris (1870) Duplessis was appointed librarian. He held the position of secretary of the Société française de gravure (1873) and of the Société nationale des antiquaires de France (1874). The latter association elected him president in 1882. For the second time, in 1875, Duplessis won the prix Bordin for his monograph De la gravure de portrait en France. He published a monograph on the French caricaturist Paul Gavarni (1804-1866) in 1876, together with fourteen unpublished drawings of the artist. Under Henri Delaborde Duplessis obtained, in 1876, the position of deputy curator of the Print Room. Between 1877 and 1884 he published the five-volume inventory of the print collection of Michel Hennin (d. 1865). Duplessis published a series of albums of the oeuvre of famous etchers and engravers, such as Van Dyck, Potter, Lorrain, Dürer, Mantegna, Schongauer, and Lucas van Leyden. At the invitation of Maison Hachette, Duplessis wrote a critical overview of the history of engraving in Western Europe, which was published in 1880. It is considered his most important work. Particularly interested in iconography he studied Andrea Alciati’s emblemata, Les livres à gravures du XVIe siècle. Emblèmes d’Alciat. He was appointed curator of the Print Room in 1885. With Henri Bouchot he co-authored the Dictionnaire des marques et monogrammes de graveurs. In 1891 Duplessis was elected a membre libre of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. He retired in 1897 due to poor health and succeeded by Bouchot, who was appointed deputy curator in 1898. Duplessis died in 1899. His widow, who died in 1926, bequeathed the library of her husband to the Académie des Beaux-Arts.

    Selected Bibliography

    [complete bibliography] “Ouvrages de M. Georges Duplessis” in Bouchot, Henri. M. Georges Duplessis ..., pp 47-48; Le Livre des peintres et graveurs par Michel de Marolles, abbé de Villeloin. Paris: P. Jannet, 1855; La gravure française au Salon de 1855. Paris: E. Dentu, 1855; Histoire de la gravure en France. Paris: Rapilly, 1861; Costumes historiques des XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles, dessinés par E. Lechevallier-Chevignard, gravés par A. Didier, L. Flameng, F. Laguillermie, etc. Paris: Lévy, 1867; Les merveilles de la gravure. Paris: Hachette, 1869, English, The Wonders of Engraving. New York: C. Scribner & Co, 1871; Eaux-fortes de Antoine van Dyck. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1874; De la gravure de portrait en France. Paris: Rapilly, 1875; Eaux-fortes de Claude Lorrain. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1875; Eaux-fortes de Paul Potter. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1875; Oeuvre de Albert Durer. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1877; Inventaire de la collection d’estampes relatives à l’histoire de France, léguée en 1863 à la Bibliothèque nationale par Michel Hennin. 5 vols. Paris: H. Menu, 1877-1884; Oeuvre de A. Mantegna. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1878; Histoire de la gravure en Italie, en Espagne, en Allemagne, dans les Pays-Bas, en Angleterre et en France, suivie d’indications pour former une collection d’estampes. Paris: Librairie Hachette et Cie, 1880; Oeuvre de Martin Schongauer. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1881; Oeuvre de Lucas de Leyde. Paris: Amand-Durand, 1883; Les livres à gravures du XVIe siècle. Emblèmes d’Alciat. Paris: Librairie de l’Art, 1884; and Bouchot, Henri. Dictionnaire des marques et monogrammes de graveurs. Paris: J. Rouam, 1886-1887.


    Limouzin-Lamothe, R. “Georges Duplessis” in Dictionnaire de biographie française, vol. 12, 1970, p. 395; Bouchot, Henri. M. Georges Duplessis, membre de l’Institut, conservateur des estampes à la Bibliothèque nationale, 1834-1899. Paris: Impr. de Lahure, 1899; Müntz, Eugène. Bulletin de la Société de l’histoire de Paris et de l’Ile-de-France 26 (1899): 74-75; Durand, R. Procès-verbaux de la Société archéologique d’Eure-et-Loir (1901): 138; Martin, Henri. “Notice nécrologique sur Georges Duplessis” Bulletin Société nationale des Antiquaires de France (1904): 79-91.

    Contributors: Monique Daniels


    Monique Daniels. "Duplessis, Georges Victor Antoine." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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