WILLE, Johann Georg
(b. 1715, Obermühle am Dünsberg, d. 1808, Paris)

Biography

German engraver. He learned to engrave as a youthful apprentice to a gunmaker. His talents were soon recognized and in 1736 he was sent to Paris to engrave some plates after Rigaud. Most of Wille's early art was in the genre of portrait engraving. By 1750, however, Wille had established himself as a leading engraver of historical and genre subjects, particularly after the designs of contemporary Dutch and German painters. Wille's unsurpassed ability to render form and texture earned him many honours. During his career he was awarded the lucrative titles of Engraver to the King of France, Engraver to the Emperor of Germany and Engraver to the King of Denmark. He was elected an Academician of the French Academy in 1761 and was also a member of the Academies of Dresden, Berlin, Augsburg, Vienna and Rouen.

As the eighteenth century drew to a close the changing French political climate was not kind to Wille. Like many persons associated with French royalty, Wille lost his property and much of his possessions during the French Revolution. Failing eyesight also contributed to his poverty. His last engraving bears the date of 1790.