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An image of the Hubert-François Gravelot: Designing the Georgian Book exhibition in the David Pike Drawings Gallery at Gainsborough's House. There is an overlayed banner in the bottom right corner which reads: Last chance.

Hubert-François Gravelot: Designing the Georgian Book

March 23June 23


Hubert-François Gravelot (1699–1773) was a student of François Boucher and Jean Restout, invited to London to collaborate on the illustrations of a religious encyclopaedia in 1733. Bringing Rococo taste to England, Gravelot had a broad practice, being a draughtsman, painter, engraver, and designer.

During his twelve-year stay in England, Gravelot joined William Hogarth at St. Martin’s Lane Academy. He collaborated on several designs for Vauxhall Gardens with his former pupil Francis Hayman. Both Gravelot and Hayman were Gainsborough’s masters during his training in London in the early 1740s.

Gravelot’s output has long been overlooked by art historians because he was principally a supplier of designs for commercial enterprises, especially book illustrations, often considered a minor genre of art. Yet, his bravura in creating elegant scenes full of details in the small space of a page made his work famous. Well-known authors of the time such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, or Henry Fielding, specifically asked for him to illustrate their works to ensure they became best-sellers. Overall, Gravelot designed the illustrations for more than fifty books both in France and in Britain.

Gainsborough’s House is fortunate to hold one of the largest collections of drawings and prints by Gravelot in the UK, second only to the British Museum’s collection. The exhibition will present a selection of books and preliminary studies highlighting Gravelot’s talent as an illustrator.