Very little is known about the French painter, engraver and print dealer Claude Bornet, best known for his portraits and miniatures of famous figures including the encyclopedist Denis Diderot and the ill-fated Princesse de Lamballe, who was murdered by a revolutionary mob in 1792. Portraits by Bornet are held in the collections of the Louvre and the National Gallery, and his paintings appear regularly at auction. Almost all we know for sure is that he lived in Paris all his life, and was married to Charlotte de Noireterre.

                          La Princesse de Lamballe, 1789

In addition to portraits, Bornet also created illustrations for plays and novels, and sometimes also engraved them. Although the erotic engravings in the Marquis de Sade’s La philosophie dans le boudoir (Philosophy in the Boudoir) and La nouvelle Justine, ou les malheurs de la vertu, suivie de l’histoire de Juliette, sa sœur, ou les prospérités du vice (The New Justine, or The Misfortunes of Virtue, followed by the Story of Juliette, her Sister, or The Prosperities of Vice), and Andrea de Nerciat’s Le diable au corps (Devil in the Flesh) are unsigned, the drawings for each of them have been reliably attributed to Bornet.

Example illustration