Draughtsman, commercial artist, etcher, painter, court painter and copperplate engraver
Israel Silvestre's work followed the tradition of prints descriptive of social types as especially cultivated in Lorraine. In his generally small-format and very finely executed series of engravings, he followed the example of his older countryman Jacques Callot. But unlike Callot, he emphasised the depiction of topography in his work, so that his extensive oeuvre of drawings and engravings provides us with rich documentation of his time, especially with respect to building activity. Several trips to Italy and within his own country, in part undertaken in order to depict newly discovered regions, complement the miscellaneous view of Paris and its environs, where Silvestre had lived since 1659. There, in 1663, he became 'Graveur du Roi', and in 1670 a member of the Académie Royale. In addition to his precise and occasionally dry-seeming pen drawings, which served as engraving patterns, Silvestre produced a number of watercolours, not all of which were translated into graphics but were rather conceived as independent works. In them, beyond the mere description of reality, he attempted to capture a specific atmosphere with his arrangement of colours.