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Mariette, Pierre-Jean

    Full Name: Mariette, Pierre-Jean

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1694

    Date Died: 1774

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

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

    Home Country/ies: France

    Subject Area(s): prints (visual works)

    Career(s): art collectors


    Print collector and early art historian. Mariette was born to a family of Parisian engravers and print dealers. These familial connections created friendships early on for Mariette with antiquarians such as Anne Claude Philippe Caylus, whom he met at age 22. After attending the Collège des Jésuites in Paris, Mariette’s father sent him to Germany and the Netherlands in 1717 to further his artistic and business ambitions. In Vienna he cataloged the art collection of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Throughout his travels and work, Mariette made the acquaintance and maintained contact with most of the scholarly and artistic community in Europe. One of these was Pierre Crozat (1665-1740) whom he met in Paris in 1720. He married Angélique-Catherine Doyen in 1724. For Caylus, Mariette wrote Lettre sur Leonardo da Vinci in 1730, a preface to the Count’s book on Leonardo caricatures. Through his artistic connections, Mariette was named a member of the Academy of Drawing in Florence in 1733. His knowledge of prints and his now close friendship with Caylus and artist Charles-Antoine Coypel secured a position reorganizing the print collection of the Bibliothèque Royale. In 1741 Mariette was asked to catalog Crozat’s considerable collection of paintings and antiquities. At the death of his father in 1742, Mariette had already been running the family print business. However, by 1750 he sold it in order to buy office of Contrôleur Général de la Grande Chancellerie, allowing him to research art for the rest of his life. In 1750 he published Traité des pierres gravées, his treatise on graphics. He was made an associate member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, acceding to honorary member in 1757. Although he left numerous annotations to Abecedario pittorico (1704) of Pellegrino Antonio Orlandi, his major ambition was to write a history of engraving and a dictionary of artists. His father’s notes on artists, used to further the art trade, and his own correspondence with the eighteenth-century art world, were the basis of these projects, none of which, however, ever came to fruition. He amassed a fabulous art collection, mostly prints and drawings, which were sold at auction after his death. Caylus used Mariette’s notes on Varsari’s Lives for his manuscript Vies d’artistes du XVIIIe siècle. In 1851 Mariette’s Abecedario notes were assembled into a book by Philippe de Chennevières and Anatole de Montaiglon. Mariette is the founder of the modern discipline of print connoisseurship and collecting.

    Selected Bibliography

    Chennevières, Philippe de, and Montaiglon, Anatole de, editors. Abecedario de P.J. Mariette et autres notes inédites de cet amateur sur les arts et les artistes. Ouvrage publié d’après les manuscrits autographes conservés au cabinet des estampes de la Bibliothèque impériale. 6 vols. Paris: J.B. Dumoulin, 1851-60; écoles d’Italie: notices biographiques et catalogues des oeuvres reproduites par la gravure, XVIe-XVIIIe siècle. Paris: Les Beaux-arts, 1969; Les grandes peintres. Paris: Les Beaux-Arts, éditions d’études et Documents, 1969 ff.


    Tassie, J. S. “Mariette, Pierre-Jean.” Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology. Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996, vol. 2, pp. 725; Walsh, Amy. Dictionary of Art.


    "Mariette, Pierre-Jean." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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