Long before the fashionable photographs of Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) or the posh pochoir plates of George Barbier (1882–1932), there were the costume studies of Jean Dieu de Saint-Jean (1654-1695). Far too little is known or recorded of the French painter and engraver known as Saint-Jean (not to be confused with the sculptor Jean de Dieu). According to Benezit’s Dictionary of Artists, “he was accepted by the Académie de Paris on 25 April 1671 but was struck off on 2 March 1709 for not having come up with his acceptance piece. He engraved fashion figurines.”
The prints in this bound collection were all designed by Saint-Jean, as noted in the plate, but engraved by other artists. The only engravers identified in the plate are Gérard Scotin (1643-1715) and Franz Ertinger (1640-ca.1710). The prints represent Louis XIV (1638-1715), King of France, along with members of his family and court. However, they should not be taken as likenesses of the individuals, who did not sit for their portraits, but merely costume studies placed inside generic backdrops.