Monday, October 22, 2007

The back of an artist

Norbert Goeneutte, Le dos d’un artiste

This wonderfully fresh etching is by the unpronounceable Impressionist, Norbert Goeneutte. Well, I suppose his name can be pronounced, I just hope nobody ever asks me to do it. Published in 1876 by Paris à l’eau-forte, it is titled simply, The Back of an Artist. But which artist?

The answer is almost certainly Goeneutte’s friend and fellow-Impressionist Henri Guérard (sometimes called Henry, Henri-Charles, or Charles-Henri Guérard). Goeneutte often seems to have worked in Guérard’s studio at 4, rue Frochot, which is just off the Place Pigalle and overlooks the Boulevard de Clichy – another etching of Goeneutte’s from the same year shows the view from Guérard’s studio window.

Norbert Goeneutte, Le boulevard de Clichy

Both men were friends of Édouard Manet; Guérard was married to Manet’s pupil Eva Gonzales and, after her death, to her sister Jeanne. Guérard, one of the finest etchers of the day, also etched plates after Manet’s paintings, and assisted Manet in printmaking, amassing in the process probably the finest collection of Manet prints (now in the permanent collection of AIC). You can see his image in Manet's 1878 painting Au Café (in the Oscar Reinhart collection at Winterthur), in which he poses in La Brassserie de Reichshoffen with the actress Ellen Andrée.

Henri Guérard, La rue Chevert

I have quite a few etchings by Guérard, some in his early style based on the study of Rembrandt, mostly in his mature Impressionist style, as well as interpretative etchings by him after artists such as Corot, Courbet, and Whistler; the art of the 19th-century interpretative etching is a subject I’m going to have to save for another day, but Guérard was one of its masters.

Henri Guérard, Tête de jeune fille

Henri Guérard was describe by the 19th-century prints expert Beraldi as "having in his head an imagination that explodes in a thousand capricious directions". He was a great collector of prints, and encourager of other printmakers, and also an important figure in French Japonisme. The Hokusai etching below is almost certainly etched by Guérard after a Hokusai drawing, though the editor of Paris à l’eau-forte, Richard Lesclide, pretends it was etched by Hokusai himself.

Hokusai, Une partie d'échecs
etched by Henri Guérard?

1 comment:

lotusgreen said...

i'm glag to discover your blog!