Paul was born in Amsterdam on New Year’s Eve 1698. His father was Jacques Fourdrinier and his mother was Jeanne Theroude and both were Huguenots. Jeanne had been deported from France to England in 1688 and we do not know how she met Jacques or got to The Netherlands, but there was a Pierre Fourdrinier deported to England at the same time as the Theroudes.
We believe that Paul was apprenticed to Bernard Picart, one of the greatest engravers of his age, about 1714 and then emigrated to London with his parents and brother Benjamin in 1720.
His apprenticeship had stood him in good stead as he was immediately commissioned by Jacob Tonson, a prominent publisher, to develop about 100 engravings for John Dryden's Works of Virgil.
From here he went on to work on Milton's Paradise Lost, and then fell in with the 3rd Earl of Burlington and his close associates William Kent and Isaac Ware. These were the leading advocates for Palladian Neoclassical architecture, a movement which superceded the Baroque and earlier styles and influenced many public buildings in the UK, France and the USA. Burlington was wealthy and spent liberally on his crusade to bring Neoclassical design into England. He published and supported a number of important books, most of which were illustrated by Paul Fourdrinier.
Paul had married Susanna Grolleau, the daughter of a Cloth Dealer who had migrated to England from France around 1680 and who in 1686 married Marie Dufay, another deportee who came to England in probably the same ship as Jeanne Theroude.
Paul and Susanna had eight children of whom three died fairly young. He set up shop in 1731 on the corner of Craig's Court and Whitehall in London; this shop continued in the family until about 1810. One of his grandchildren was the mother of Henry Cardinal Newman and two of his grandchildren became famous for developing the Fourdrinier Paper Making machine.
Paul's printmaking career involved him in the building of the first Westminster Bridge, Houghton Hall, the splendid Palladian home of Robert Walpole, England's first Prime Minister, the Georgian City of Bath, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Foundling Hospital and many more great projects of the century.
He died in 1758 and is buried with his wife and some of his children in the Grolleau family grave in the Huguenot Cemetery in Wandsworth, a London suburb.