Impressive: Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella
Born in Lyon, France, Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella (1641–1676) was a skilled printmaker who specialized in depicting biblical and mythological scenes. The youngest child of the artistically talented and industrious Bouzonnet and Stella families, Antoinette—along with her sisters, Claudine and Françoise, and their brother, Antoine—were trained by their maternal uncle, the painter and printmaker Jacques Stella.
In 1654, when she was thirteen, Bouzonnet-Stella and her siblings accepted their uncle’s invitation to move to Paris and live and work in his prestigious quarters in the Louvre. There, the siblings etched copies of paintings by their uncle and his associate Nicolas Poussin. The printed reproductions circulated widely in France and beyond, thus ensuring the fame of Jacques Stella and Poussin.
Through their efforts, Bouzonnet-Stella and her siblings, particularly Claudine, attained prestige and financial security for their family. They also helped secure the longevity of a new artistic style in France, which was rooted in the principles of classical antiquity.
Impressive: Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella is organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts. The exhibition is generously supported by Stephanie Sale and the members of NMWA.
For exhibition-related resources, including label transcripts, visit nmwa.org/impressive.
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In addition to the work she did for her uncle, Bouzonnet-Stella also received independent commissions from important French officials. In 1675, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, advisor to King Louis XIV and “Vice-protecteur” of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, commissioned her to produce these twenty-five copperplate engravings.
Bouzonnet-Stella’s imagery is taken from a stucco frieze in the Palazzo Te in Mantua, Italy, designed by Renaissance artists Giulio Romano (1499–1546) and Francesco Primaticcio (1504–1570). In turn, Romano and Primaticcio based their imagery on the second-century style of Trajan’s Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, two triumphal monuments in Rome.
Colbert’s goal through such commissions was to create a strong national art embodying the ideals of ancient Greek and Roman iconography: political strength, military prowess, and intellectual refinement.
Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella (after Giulio Romano and Francesco Primaticcio)
b. Lyon, France, 1641; d. Paris, 1676
Plates 1–25 from The Entrance of the Emperor Sigismond into Mantua, 1675
(Published by Chez Chereau et Joubert, Paris, ca. 1787)
Engraving on paper; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Chris Petteys