Draughtsman, copperplate engraver, commercial artist, illustrator and art theorist
With Cochin we turn to book illustration, and with it to an art genre that had an important role in the whole of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and that thrived in particular during the reigns of Louis XV and XVI.
Increasing interest on the part of a broader public in educational readings of all kinds, whether of ancient authors, contemporary writers, travel reports or scientific treatises, and a resulting frenzy in the collecting of expensive books fostered the development of illustrative drawing of a high quality. Luxurious publications were the result, books in which the decoration frequently outshone the text.
The most important mediator between the draughtsman and the engraver, only rarely the same artist, was Philipp Le Bas. In his engraving workshop, outstanding engravers transformed the original designs into graphics, and draughtsman also received their training.
Before Cochin entered the Le Bas workshop, he had already been trained in drawing and engraving by his father, Nicholas. In 1739 he became a collaborator on the 'Menus-Plaisirs', meaning that he was not only responsible for the organisation and decoration of courtly ceremonies, royal entertainment and official state occasions, but also obliged to document these events in drawings and engravings to make them available to a broad public and preserve them for posterity.
His close friendship with the brother of Madame de Pompadour, the Marquis de Marigny (they travelled to Italy together in 1749-51), gave him a certain influence in the administrative realm, which encouraged him to publish several treatises on art theory.
With his sometimes dry but high-quality drawings, Cochin made an important contribution to book illustration in the period. Among his most important illustrations are editions of the works of Ariosto, Bocaccio and Tasso.
Lesser-known, since they were not disseminated in book form, were his Bible illustrations.