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The Public Scribe

A work made of etching, drypoint, and roulette on ivory wove paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of etching, drypoint, and roulette on ivory wove paper.




Jean Jacques de Boissieu (French, 1736-1810)
after Jacob van Ruisdael (Dutch, 1628/29-1682)

About this artwork

This large plate is characteristic of de Boissieu’ s last period of printmaking, which was dominated by his interest in landscapes and scenes of daily life. The influence of seventeenth-century Dutch genre scenes is clear in this work, which depicts the predicament of a writer who must transcribe the message of a young couple although more interesting activities distract his attention. Boissieu used the roulette, a tool with a spiked wheel, to indent the plate and simulate the effects of an inked wash.


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Prints and Drawings


Jean Jacques de Boissieu


The Public Scribe


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1790


Etching, drypoint, and roulette on ivory wove paper


Image: 25.8 × 38.4 cm (10 3/16 × 15 1/8 in.); Plate: 29.3 × 42.1 cm (11 9/16 × 16 5/8 in.); Sheet: 30 × 42.7 cm (11 13/16 × 16 13/16 in.)

Credit Line

The Wallace L. DeWolf and Joseph Brooks Fair Collections

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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