AUDRAN, the name of a family of French artists and engravers. The first who devoted himself to the art of engraving was Claude Audran, born 1597, and the last was Benoit, Claude's great-grandson, who died in 1772. The two most distinguished members of the family are Gérard and Jean.
Gérard, or Girard, Audran, the most celebrated French engraver, was the third son of Claude Audran, and was born at Lyons in 1640. He was taught the first principles of design and engraving by his father; and, following the example of his brother, went to Paris to perfect himself in his art. He there, in 1666, engraved for Le Brun "Constantine's Battle with Maxentius," his "Triumph," and the "Stoning of Stephen," which gave great satisfaction to the painter, and placed Audran in the very first rank of engravers at Paris. Next year he set out for Rome, where he resided three years, and engraved several fine plates. That great patron of the arts, J.B. Colbert, was so struck with the beauty of Audran's works, that he persuaded Louis XIV. to recall him to Paris. On his return he applied himself assiduously to engraving, and was appointed engraver to the king, from whom he received great encouragement. In the year 1681 he was admitted to the council of the Royal Academy. He died at Paris in 1703. His engravings of Le Brun's "Battles of Alexander" are regarded as the best of his numerous works. "He was," says the Abbé Fontenay, "the most celebrated engraver that ever existed in the historical line. We have several subjects, which he engraved from his own designs, that manifested as much taste as character and facility. But in the 'Battles of Alexander' he surpassed even the expectations of Le Brun himself." Gérard published in 1683 a work entitled Les Proportions du corps humain mesurées sur les plus belles figures de l'antiquité.
Jean Audran, nephew of Gérard, was born at Lyons in 1667. After having received instructions from his father, he went to Paris to perfect himself in the art of engraving under his uncle, next to whom he was the most distinguished member of his family. At the age of twenty his genius began to display itself in a surprising manner; and his subsequent success was such, that in 1707 he obtained the title of engraver to the king, Louis XIV., who allowed him a pension, with apartments in the Gobelins; and the following year he was made a member of the Royal Academy. He was eighty years of age before he quitted the graver, and nearly ninety when he died. The best prints of this artist are those which appear not so pleasing to the eye at first sight. In these the etching constitutes a great part; and he has finished them in a bold, rough style. The "Rape of the Sabines," after Poussin, is considered his masterpiece.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)