Thursday, April 21, 2011

The art of Jean Cocteau

It seems fair to say that Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) would scarcely have been a significant poet without Apollinaire, or novelist without Radiguet, or filmmaker without Bunuel. Certainly, he would not have made much contribution to the visual arts without the spur of his friendship and collaboration with Picasso. Almost all my lithographs by Jean Cocteau were conceived as illustrations to his own plays. They were printed by Mourlot in 1957.

These rapidly-sketched works would not convince anyone that Cocteau was a great artist, but they do show, I think, how thoroughly he absorbed Picasso's intent playfulness of line. I like them very much - more so than the Picasso-esque bullfighter he contributed to Prints from the Mourlot Press in 1964.

Actually, my favourite work of art by Jean Cocteau would be unreproducible on this blog. It is his painted fishermen's chapel in Villefranche-sur-Mer, just across from the Hotel Welcome where Cocteau lived for long periods. The walls of this tiny church, the Chapelle Saint-Pierre, are stunningly frescoed with images of fisherfolk and angels. Angels with hairy armpits, which just about sums Cocteau up, I think.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The enchanted Paris of Eugène Véder

I first came across the work of the etcher Eugène Véder in issue 17 of the art revue Byblis (Spring 1926), which published his etching La rue Saint-Denis. I thought it a lovely piece of work, and was intrigued to find out more about its creator - especially as my copy was hand-signed by the artist. I think Véder probably signed every copy of this print. Usually in Byblis there were 105 hand-signed and 500 unsigned impressions, but in this case there seem to have been 105 in colour and 500 in black-and-white, all signed.

Eugène Véder, La rue Saint-Denis
Etching, 1926

Byblis was published by the art publisher Albert Morancé. Morancé was evidently equally struck by Véder's work, because the Winter 1926 issue of Byblis carries a full-page advertisement for a work to appear the following June from Éditions Albert Morancé: Paris: 50 Eaux-Fortes originales en couleurs d'Eugène Véder, réunies en un portefeuille d'amateur. There were to be 100 copies on Japon impérial at a subscriber's price of 800 francs, 400 copies on vélin de Rives at a subscription price of 400 francs, and 25 hors commerce copies, 5 on Japon and 20 on Rives. On publication the prices were to rise to 1000 and 500 francs. I believe that 1000 francs then would be about 500 euros today.

Title page of Paris: 50 Eaux-fortes originales

I have managed to find a copy of this exceptionally rare work. It is one of the 20 hors commerce copies on B.F.K. Rives. It consists simply of 50 loose etchings with a title page and a contents page, in a paper cover. Remarkably, it still looks in brand-new, perfect condition, despite being now around 85 years old, and having been posted from France to the USA and back to England over the course of that time. It appears that it remained in Albert Morancé's personal possession until 1949, when he presented it to a young American friend, William Sutton. Sutton in turn sent it home as a Christmas gift to his family, with an excited letter in which he writes, "These 50 etchings in water color are priceless now because the artist is dead and this is the last collection (and the best) of his work. The editor, Monsieur Morancé, told me that every one is original and signed by the artist. Each etching expresses the quaintness found in every quarter of Paris. I have been to several of the places pictured and they are exactly like that."

Inscription from Albert Morancé on the verso of the half-title

In fact the etchings are signed in the plate, not hand-signed. Each one was printed by Eugène Véder himself on his own hand press - an incredible labour to achieve a total of 26,250 perfect prints, each painstakingly colour-registered. No wonder he didn't feel like signing them too!

Eugène Véder, La place du Parvis Notre-Dame
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, Sur le Pont-Neuf
Etching, 1927

It has been quite hard to find out all that much about Eugène Véder. Every website which lists or mentions him has his date of death wrong, repeating a rare mistake in the art reference bible, Bénézit. This has him living to be 100, and dying in 1976. As we know from William Sutton's letter, written on November 22, 1949, Véder was already dead by then. In fact he died in 1936.

Eugène Véder, La Seine au quai Saint-Michel
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, Le quai de Béthune
Etching, 1927

Perhaps not surprisingly, the only writing of any substance I have found about Véder is in Byblis, accompanying his etching of La rue Saint-Denis. It is an essay by Robert Vernand, entitled "Eugène Veder, Parisien" (Burnand never gives Véder the acute accent). He writes: Tous les jours, j'imagine, Veder quitte son atelier de la Montagne Saint-Geneviève, cette petite place de l'Estrapade qui, malgré son nom redoutable, dort à l'ombre de paisibles catalpas. Il s'en va, son carton sous les bras, ou sa boîte d'aquarelle. Il muse le nez en l'air, descend la rue Mouffetard, bavarde avec les commères, marchande des fruits aux baladeuses et, si besoin est, boit un verre sur le zinc. Et son oeil note et son crayon enregistre; il dessine et il peint dans un coin, installé vaille que vaille. "Every day, I guess, Véder leaves his studio in the Montagne Saint-Genevieve, in the little place de l'Estrapade which, despite its formidable name, sleeps in the shade of tranquil catalpa trees. He sorties out with his portfolio under his arms, or his box of watercolors. He dawdles, nose in the air, down the Rue Mouffetard, chats with the gossips, from the fruit sellers to the idlers, and, if necessary, pops in for a drink at the bar. And his eye notes and his pencil and records, and he paints in a corner, installed any old how."

Eugène Véder, La porte de Bagnolet
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, La place des Vosges
Etching, 1927

Burnand compares Véder's art to that of Jean-François Raffaëlli, the great Impressionist pioneer of the colour etching, and it is a comparison that also occurred to me. Interestingly, the earliest work by Véder mentioned by Bénézit is a 1913 drawing in coloured crayons entitled Les chiffoniers (The rag-and-bone men), a subject that also attracted Raffaëlli.

Jean-François Raffaëlli, Le chiffonier
Etching with aquatint, 1911

Eugène Véder, La rue Saint-Médard (Marché des Chiffoniers)
Etching, 1927

A second work mentioned by Bénézit places Eugène Véder at Arras in 1916; it is a crayon and watercolour drawing of Arras, porte des Trois Visages.

Eugène Véder, Le Marché aux Oiseaux
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, La place de la Madeleine (Marché aux Fleurs)
Etching, 1927

Eugène Louis Véder was born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1876. As Bénézit attests, his artistic career stretches back before WWI, but I am not sure how active he was as an artist at this time - after all, he was 38 when the war broke out, so if he had been working as an artist much before that time, one would expect more evidence of it.

Eugène Véder, Le parc Monceau
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, La place Blanche
Etching, 1927

Whatever the facts, Eugène Véder is essentially an artist of the 1920s. He exhibited with the Salon des Artistes Français from 1922, becoming a member of the society, and receiving a bronze medal in 1923 and a silver in 1925.

Eugène Véder, Le Moulin de la Galette
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, La Pointe Saint--Eustache
Etching, 1927

Véder received prestigious commissions for etchings of Paris, for instance from the Chalcographie du Louvre, enabling him to establish himself in a studio in the place de l'Estrapade in the Latin Quarter. However his chief patron was certainly Albert Morancé, who promoted Véder's art in Byblis, and commissioned his masterwork, Paris: cinquante eaux-fortes en couleurs. These etchings remain one of the finest artistic records of the city of Paris. As Robert Burnand puts it, "With a few pencil strokes he evokes the clutter and bustle [of the city] - with a single line, he opens up infinite horizons."

Eugène Véder, Le Pont des Arts et l'Institut
Etching, 1927

Eugène Véder, La Tour Eiffel vue d'Auteuil
Etching, 1927

 Les Amis du vieux Châtillon published a book on Véder in 1993, Eugène Véder 1876-1936, but unfortunately I have not been able to track down a copy. Véder's son, Lucien Véder, was also an etcher. Taught by his father, he used the pseudonym Legarf so as not to tread on his father's toes.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Edouard Daliphard - a lost Impressionist?

Édouard Daliphard is the opposite of a household name. Until I acquired the etching below, I had never heard of him - and actually it took quite a bit of concentrated research to find out who the artist was or anything about him. But now I feel quite passionately that Daliphard deserves new study and re-assessment. The classic lost Impressionist is Frédéric Bazille, who died in 1870 at the age of just 28. But Édouard Daliphard is another case in point. Daliphard was born in Rouen in 1833. He studied under Gustave Morin at the Beaux-Arts in Rouen, and then under Joseph Quinaux at the Brussels Academy. He exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1864-1875, and is best known for melancholy twilight landscapes of scenes in Belgium, Holland, and France. He died prematurely in 1877; I do not know the cause, but the fact that he failed to exhibit in 1876 suggests an illness rather than sudden death.

Édouard Daliphard, Etched signature

My etching by Daliphard is a street scene executed with an Impressionist spareness. It is the only etching by Édouard Daliphard that I have come across, and dates from the very end of his short life. It may be the only etching he ever made. It was commissioned from Daliphard by the Impressionist printmaker Henri Guérard for the short-lived journal Paris à l'Eau-Forte, which was published from 1873-1876. I have not yet been able to see a complete run of this journal, so I do not know if Daliphard's etching was published in the original run. Quite probably it did not appear until after Daliphard's death when - in 1879 or 1880 - the editor Richard Lesclide tried to revive the publication. My sense is that Lesclide was left with a lot of debts after the failure of Paris à l'Eau-Forte, When his own fortunes had revived, largely due to his employment as secretary to Victor Hugo, he had a go at reviving the journal. It seems he had a supply of etchings already printed by Delâtre for the original journal, and also a supply of copper plates, either previously published or commissioned but never published. Freshly-printed etchings were printed by Quantin, not Delâtre. The new version of Paris à l'Eau-Forte survived for two volumes, the second of which was renamed Eaux-fortes Parisiennes (though the dustwrapper still retained the old title). The economic desperation of this publication may be tested by comparison of two different copies. My first copy of Eaux-fortes Parisiennes has 26 etchings. My second copy, with exactly the same text, has only 17. Only 5 etchings are repeated, and not in any sort of rational order - for instance the frontispiece in the first copy, by Marc Antoine Claude Monnin, is repeated in the second, but opposite page 168. There are also several repeat etchings from my copy of the first volume of this ill-fated relaunch. There are no lists of the etchings, and in all 3 volumes there are some I cannot confidently attribute to a particular artist.

Édouard Daliphard, Street scene
Etching c.1876

Luckily, one of the etchings present in both my copies of Eaux-fortes Parisiennes is this deft work by Édouard Daliphard. The economy of line in this etching just takes my breath away. At a time when etching was all about filling the page with black, Daliphard holds back. His philosophy here is less-is-more - and he is right. It's perhaps hard now to realise how daring it was to leave so much detail out, and to simply suggest the subject rather than delineate it. Daliphard was influenced by Corot and the Barbizon School, and it seems likely that if he had lived he would have allied himself with the Impressionists. In 1875 Daliphard became a very early patron of Impressionism when he bought Berthe Morisot's La Lecture for 210 francs; the painting is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

New York Etching Club: The Moran clan

Today, the best-known figure of the American Painter-Etcher movement is undoubtedly Thomas Moran. Along with his wife Mary Nimmo Moran and brother Peter Moran, Thomas was a towering figure in American art - so much so that he even had a mountain named after him, Mount Moran in Wyoming. Although they were members of the New York Etching Club and its offshoot the American Society of Etchers, the Morans were based in Philadelphia, and stood a little aside from the core coterie of New York etchers. My sole etching by Thomas Moran is one of the most dramatic and striking of all the American etchings of the 1870s/1880s that I have seen. I believe the title of it is The Sounding Sea. Moran's 1884 painting The Much-Resounding Sea is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington; he also made an etching after this painting, which is reproduced as plate 47 in Alicia G. Longwell, First Impressions: Nineteenth-Century American Master Prints. This earlier image of breaking waves is much more exciting, in my view, with glimpses of both Hokusai and Courbet in an etching that makes the coast off Long Island as exciting as anything off Japan or France.

Thomas Moran, The Sounding Sea
Etching, 1880

Thomas Sidney Moran was born in Bolton, England, in 1837, but emigrated with his family to the USA in 1844, eventually settling in Crescentville, Pennsylvania. The young Thomas showed a talent for drawing, and was apprenticed to a Philadelphia wood-engraving firm, Scattergood and Telfer, from 1853-55, during which time Thomas learned to paint in oils and watercolour under the tutelage of his elder brother Edward Moran. In 1862 Edward and Thomas travelled to England, where their encounter with the art of Turner had a profound effect on Thomas Moran's artistic formation. Thomas Moran was elected an Academician of the National Academy of Design in 1884. Moran made his first etching in 1856, but did not take it up seriously until 1878. In all he made around 100 etchings, alongside his many paintings of the American landscape. He died in 1926.

Mary Nimmo Moran, Conwy Castle, Wales
Etching, 1885

As soon as Thomas had mastered the art he taught it to his wife, the artist Mary Nimmo Moran. Mary Nimmo was born in Strathavon, Scotland, in 1842, but emigrated to the USA in 1847. The Nimmo family settled in Crescentville, Pennsylvania. There Mary met Thomas Moran, five years her senior, who was the son of the Nimmo family's neighbours. Mary took art lessons with Thomas from the age of 18, and married him two years later. Homemaking and taking care of their three children stopped Mary continuing with her painting, but in 1879 Thomas taught her how to etch. Mary proved an apt pupil, and became celebrated as "the most prominent of the (American) women etchers in the late nineteenth century". Mary Nimmo Moran was elected to the Society of Painter-Etchers of New York, and was the only woman among the 65 original Fellows of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers in London. John Ruskin was among those who collected and praised her prints, which were regarded by critics as on a par with those of her husband. Nevertheless Mary worked as M. Nimmo Moran, to avoid unsettling the buying public by declaring her gender too openly. From 1884 till her death from typhoid fever in 1899, Mary and Thomas Moran lived on Long Island, which furnished the motifs for many of Mary Nimmo Moran's etchings.

Peter Moran, The Noonday Rest
Etching, 1877

Peter Moran, Landscape and Cattle
Etching after Émile van Marcke de Lummen, 1889

Peter Moran was the youngest of the three Moran brothers, born in 1841. Like his brothers, Peter Moran was born in England, but emigrated to the USA in 1844. Peter Moran was apprenticed at the age of 16 to the firm of lithographic printers Herline and Hersel, for whom he drew advertisements. The following year he began to study with his brothers Edward and Thomas. Peter Moran is particularly noted for his landscapes with cattle, which show the influence of Rosa Bonheur and Constant Troyon, and for his scenes of Pueblo life in New Mexico. Peter Moran was married to the artist Emily Moran, and taught painting and etching at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women. He died in 1914.

Stephen J. Ferris, Mrs. Philip Nicklin
Etching after Gilbert Stuart, 1879

Stephen J. Ferris, Mrs J. Coleman Drayton
Etching after Daniel Huntington, 1881

Stephen J. Ferris, Devil's Way, Algiers
Etching after Adolphe Mouilleron, 1879

Stephen J. Ferris, The Old-Clothes Dealer, Cairo
Etching after Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1880

The influential Moran clan was further extended by the marriage of Elizabeth Moran, sister to the three brothers, to the artist Stephen J. Ferris. Stephen James Ferris was a highly-accomplished etcher who devoted himself chiefly to interpretational etchings of the paintings of others - or, at least, I haven't come across any original works by him. He was born in Plattsburg, N.Y., in 1835, and studied at the Pennsylvania Academy and then in Paris under Gérôme. Stephen and Elizabeth named their son after this teacher, and Jean Leon Gerome Ferris also became a notable etcher.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New York Etching Club: Henry Farrer

Although the first meeting of the New York Etching Club in 1877 was in the studio of J. D. Smillie, the meetings soon moved their regular venue to the studio of Henry Farrer, one of the club's co-founders and most active members. Etchings were printed on a press built by Farrer himself. Of all the Etching Club artists, I think Farrer is my favourite. Unlike R. Swain Gifford, the subject of my last post, Farrer did not favour a less-is-more economy of line. Instead his moody landscapes and seascapes are intensely worked, deeply bitten, and often almost impenetrably dark with cross-hatched lines.

Henry Farrer, On New York Bay
Etching, 1879

Henry Farrer, Marine
Etching, 1880

Henry Farrer was born in London in 1843. He emigrated to the USA in 1863 at the age of twenty. Farrer was very much a driving force in the American etching revival. Most of his etchings are seascapes or landscapes, though the first, made in 1868, were views of New York buildings.

Henry Farrer, The Lighthouse
Etching, 1881

Henry Farrer, Sunset, Gowanus Bay
Etching, 1880

Most of Henry Farrer's seascapes are views of New York Harbor, a subject he rendered with great vigour and great sensitivity.

Henry Farrer, Sunset, New York Harbor
Etching, 1879

Henry Farrer, Twilight
Etching, 1880

Farrer loved the mysterious time of twilight, when the world hovers between daylight and darkness, and returned to sunset scenes time and again.

Henry Farrer, Woods in Winter
Etching, 1880

Henry Farrer, December
Etching, 1879

Wintry scenes were another staple of Henry Farrer's art. Something in him responded to the dying months of the year just as it did to the last rays of the setting sun.

Henry Farrer, The Last Walk in Autumn
Etching, 1881

Henry Farrer's older brother, Thomas Charles Farrer, was also an artist, who studied under John Ruskin and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. In America, Thomas founded the idealistic, Pre-Raphaelite, Society for the Advancement of Art and Truth, of which Henry became a member. However, Henry Farrer soon went beyond his brother's Pre-Raphaelite influence, adopting a tonalist approach in his watercolours and etchings. As well as the New York Etching Club, Henry Farrer also co-founded the American Watercolor Society. Henry Farrer died in 1903.