GRAVELOT, Hubert-François
(b. 1699, Paris, d. 1773, Paris)


French illustrator, engraver, painter and draughtsman. He was born Hubert-François Bourguignon, son of a Parisian tailor. As a young man he took the name Gravelot, the surname of his godfather. Together with his elder brother, who later became the well-known geographer Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, Gravelot attended the College des Quatre Nations, Paris, but neglected his studies in favour of drawing.

Under the patronage of Louis d'Aubusson, Duc de la Feuillade (1673-1725), Gravelot undertook a trip to Rome to study art, but when he reached Lyon his money ran out, and he was forced to return to Paris. Several years later Gravelot's father sent him to Santo Domingo (now the Dominican Republic) with the Chevalier de la Rochalard, Governor-General of the island. There Gravelot apparently tried to establish himself in the business of overseas trade, but an early loss of an expensive shipment of merchandise caused him to abandon the project. By c. 1729 Gravelot had returned penniless to Paris; all he had produced in Santo Domingo was a map of the island.

He had an established reputation as an illustrator when he arrived in London in 1732. His delicate, elegant drawings, in a Rococo tradition derived from Watteau, were highly influential on his English contemporaries including Hogarth, Highmore, and Hayman. Gravelot, who was highly critical of English draughtsmanship, established a drawing school in James Street, Covent Garden, but his main contacts were made through the St Martin's Lane Academy, re-established by Hogarth in 1734. Here Gravelot taught drawing, having Gainsborough as a pupil in 1740, and collaborated with Hayman, a fellow teacher, on the designs for Vauxhall Gardens. He was in great demand as a designer and engraver, illustrating Gay's Fables (1738), Shakespeare (1740), and, with Hayman, Richardson's Pamela (1742). He returned to Paris in 1746 but continued to work for English clients. His few paintings are small and intimate, intended for engraving.