Melchior Tavernier

Melchior Tavernier (1594 or 1595 – 1665) was a French engraver, printmaker and print publisher.

Plan of Paris published by Melchior Tavernier in 1630

Heritage, early life, and trainingEdit

He was the son of Gabriel II Tavernier,[1] an engraver, who in 1573 moved with his father Gabriel I Tavernier (born Bailleul c. 1520; died 1614) and his brother Melchior Tavernier (1544–1641)[2] from Antwerp to Paris.[1][3] The younger Melchior Tavernier's mother was Suzanne Tonnelier. He had four siblings: Jean-Baptiste (who became a well-known writer and traveller), Gabriel III, Daniel, and Marie. His father, Gabriel II Tavernier, died in 1607; the inventory after his decease is dated 23 February 1607.[1] By a contract of 30 June 1609, the younger Melchior Tavernier apprenticed with Thomas de Leu for four years at the age of fourteen, thus he was born in 1594 or 1595.[1][4] It is often very difficult, with our current state of knowledge, to distinguish the work of the younger Melchior Taverner from that of his uncle.[1]

In 1589, when the Catholic League occupied Paris, the Tavernier family had fled to Tours, where Henri IV's court and the Parlement of Paris ruled in exile;[5] the family lived there from 1590 to 1594.[1] French engraving was of lower quality compared to the Flemish school, and Protestants, such as the family of Gabriel I Tavernier, brought high quality copperplate engraving to France. The first atlas of France, Maurice Bouguereau's Le Théâtre français, où sont comprises les chartes générales et particulières de la France, was published in Tours in 1594. It contained twenty maps of the provinces of France, the engraving of which was done by Gabriel Tavernier. Bouguereau said that the opportunity to use a highly skilled engraver encouraged him to publish the atlas.[5]

After Gabriel I Tavernier returned to Paris, he resided on the Île du Palais, at 'L'Épi d'or', on the quai facing the Quai de la Mégisserie [fr]. After 1609 he was on the Pont Marchand [fr], at the sign of 'La Huppe', parish of Saint-Barthélémy, where he remained in 1612. The elder Melchior Tavernier, who is otherwise obscure, claimed at a legal proceeding in 1620 that Gabriel I Tavernier introduced the art of etching to Paris and stated that his father died in 1614. On 7 December 1615, the assets of the elder Gabriel Tavernier's business and the lease for the house of 'La Huppe' on the Pont Marchand passed to the younger Melchior Tavernier's mother, Suzanne Tonnelier.[1]

Later life and careerEdit

In 1618 Melchior Tavernier became an intaglio engraver and printer to the king (graveur et imprimeur en taille-douce du Roi) with an emphasis on historical subjects and maps.[6] On 2 April 1619 he married Sarah Pitten and on 30 April he purchased from his mother the assets of the family business and took over the lease of its premises, 'La Huppe' on the Pont Marchand. The couple had at least three daughters (Suzanne, Marie-Madeleine and Marie-Catherine) who were still living on 16 March 1638, when an inventory was drawn up after the death of their mother.[1]

Abraham Bosse became his apprentice in 1621.[7] Between 1623 and 1629 Ludolph Büsinck made woodcuts for Tavernier after drawings by Georges Lallemand.[8] Tavernier has an important place in the history of the French map trade. He published and sold maps and atlases of, among others, Henry Hondius, Jan Jansson, and Nicolas Tassin.[9]

Initially Tavernier continued to operate the shop at 'La Huppe' on the Pont Marchand but in 1621 moved to the Île du Palais, first on the rue de Harlay and later on the quai facing the Quai de la Mégisserie, where it was known as 'La Sphère Royale' (1638 at the latest). On 12 February 1644 he sold part of his assets to François Langlois for five million livres and the rest to Pierre Mariette (1596–1657), the grandfather of Jean Mariette, for eleven million. Retired from business, he bought the office of contrôleur et clerc d'office de la maison du duc d'Orléans.[1][9]


Works that he published include:



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Préaud et al. 1987, pp. 287–290.
  2. ^ Préaud et al. 1987, pp. 287–290. Benezit 2006b says Melchior Tavernier was "born in 1564 (?) in Antwerp, died 1641, in Paris".
  3. ^ Benezit 2006a.
  4. ^ Grivel 1996.
  5. ^ a b Ballon 1991, pp. 213–214.
  6. ^ Benezit 2006b.
  7. ^ Walsh 1996, p. 415.
  8. ^ Anonymous 1996.
  9. ^ a b Pedley 1981, p. 36.


  • Anonymous (1996). "Büsinck. Ludolph", vol. 5, p. 294, in The Dictionary of Art, 34 volumes, edited by Jane Turner. New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009.
  • Ballon, Hilary (1991). The Paris of Henri IV: Architecture and Urbanism. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. ISBN 9780262023092.
  • Benezit (2006a). "Tavernier, Gabriel", vol. 13, p. 732, in Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Paris: Gründ. ISBN 9782700030709.
  • Benezit (2006b). "Tavernier, Melchior", vol. 13, p. 733, in Benezit Dictionary of Artists. Paris: Gründ. ISBN 9782700030709.
  • Grivel, Marianne (1996). "Leu, Thomas de", vol. 19, p. 257, in The Dictionary of Art, 34 volumes, edited by Jane Turner. New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009.
  • Pedley, Mary Spoonberg (1981). "The Map Trade in Paris, 1650-1825," Imago Mundi, vol. 33 (1981), pp. 33–45. JSTOR 1150782.
  • Préaud, Maxime; Pierre Casselle; Marianne Grivel; Corinne Le Bitouze (1987). Dictionnaire des éditeurs d'estampes à Paris sous l'Ancien Régime. Promodis. ISBN 2903181608.
  • Walsh, Amy L. (1996). "Mariette family", vol. 20, pp. 415–418, in The Dictionary of Art, 34 volumes, edited by Jane Turner. New York: Grove. ISBN 9781884446009.