The illustrator, etcher, and painter Jean Michel Moreau, called "Moreau le jeune", was born on March 26, 1741. He was among the most significant illustrators of the French rococo. In 1758, Moreau went to St. Petersburg with his teacher Louis Joseph Le Lorrain (1715 – 59). Le Lorrain was appointed to be the first director of the Academy there. Jean Michel Moreau also advanced to the position of art teacher at the Academy. However, he returned to Paris after the death of his teacher in 1759 and joined the copperplate-engraving studio of Jacque-Philippe Le Bas (1707–83).
Jean Michel Moreau began with etchings based on existing models and collaborated in the "Recueil d’antiquités" by Count Caylus (1692–1765). But the major portion of his work were the book illustrations, including the works of Ovid (43 B.C. – 17 A.D.), Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–75), Molière (1622–73), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78). He initially received his first commissions from the publisher Laurent François Prault. In 1760, he created the title pages for several Italian books such as "Pastor fido", "Rime di Petrarca", "Decamerone", and "Dante". In addition, Jean Michel Moreau prepared vignettes for the "Histoire de France" by Hérault and the Ovid translation by Abbé Banier.
In 1770, he was appointed as the "Dessinateur Menus-Plaisirs du Roi". In 1773, the first volume of "La Borde Choix de chansons" was published with 24 full-page illustrations etched by Moreau and the works of Molière. This was followed in 1777 and 1783 by the second and third installment of the "Monument du costume" by Nicolas Édme Réstif de la Bretonne (1734–1806), each with twelve pages by Moreau.
In 1781, the artist was named the "Dessinateur Graveur et du Cabinet du Roi". Moreau took a trip to Italy in 1785, which brings with it the decisive turn to the classicism of the later years. Beginning in 1789, he was chosen to be a member of the Académie Français. He became a partisan of the Revolution and was appointed to the "Kommission temporaire des arts" 19793. As of 1797, the artist became a professor at the reformed Écoles Centrale.
Jean Michel Moreau only engraved a small share of his complete graphic works on his own. Among others, Noël Le Mire (1724–1801), de Launay, Martini, and Duclos produced the very precisely executed drawings on the sheet for this purpose. Many of these pieces are still preserved today. Moreau’s own etchings usually stand out because of the sparse use of the graver.
Jean Michel Moreau died on November 30, 1814 in Paris.
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