French wood engraver, etcher and
First Modern Printmaker
Both my main subjects and starting point of these series of postings, printmakers Emile Verpilleux and Henri Wils were taught in Antwerp at atelier Pellens. Wils at least "claimed" he had been inspired by Auguste Lepère. Verpilleux, although I could not find a quote, has Lepère written all over his wonderful prints.
So I’ve taken the burden upon me to pay attention to the great Auguste Lepère.
Without consulting textbooks, dissertations (there are), collection catalogues (there are) nor
any scholarly (I haven't on this subject) background. As Charles (of Modern Printmakers Blog) put it very to
the point: "all information gathered from the Internet is at best superficial". And
he is totally right of course. Nevertheless, warned but undaunted I’ll continue this personal account of my internet investigation. Facts and pictures. No harm in there.
|Lepère and his friend and colleague Felix Noël (1839-1907) at work.|
|à la Rembrandt|
|atmosphere (and rain) engraved by Smeeton & Tilly|
The studio in Paris must have been a success because they even engraved the world famous Waterpoort, build around 1500 in my hometown. In Friesland. Nothing much has changed on that location in 400 years. (all pictures are mouse click-able)
In 1862 Auguste Louis Lepère was accepted as an apprentice just 13 years of age after being taught (probably the basics of engraving) by his father, the Paris sculptor Francois Lepère. Auguste was to become one of the greatest French artist of the 19th century and world famous already during his life, because of his remarkable wood engraving skills and technique but particularly for the atmosphere he was able to create in his engravings, etchings and later for his pioneering and inspiring modern printmaking.
|Marché aux pommes, Paris. etching (notice: against and into the light)|
|Watercolor by Lepère: "Son et lumière au place des Vosges,|
Victor Hugo Centenaire.
It’s always these same few but great color prints turning up (on the www) but how fascinating they are. I wonder if he did any more.
|Palais de Justice|
|Dimanche, bords de Paris|
|Le dimanche aux fortifs 1898|
There’s always a lot to see and discover in Lepère's prints. With all his skills and experimenting he was able to create atmosphere and temperature, in his etchings, engravings and in his pioneering color printmaking. Impressionist printmaking.
|London, Houses of parliament by Auguste Lepère|
a British Newspaper supplement anno 1889
|around 1900: Notice the slight difference in view point with Lepère.|
The photographer stood on a balcony or used a ladder while Lepère appeares to have been seated.
|Pigeon eye view of Parliament Square.|
The staging of a silhouetted (back-lit) but amazingly detailed and always busy crowd in the foreground was probably Lepère's invention and it was eagerly borrowed by Emile Verpilleux. Greatly increasing drama and scale very effectively. There's a story told in the lower 3 cm. Hurrying, sheltering, weeping, travelling, commutering, praying, visiting, sunday afternoon strolling people. The other 95% is an impressive stage setting. These prints both Lepère's and Verpilleux' are not decorational. Every print is like a play.
|All examples: Verpilleux' bottom 3 (!) cm of his prints.|
If Lepère was the God of Modern Printmakers, Verpilleux must have been his son.
Next: Emile Verpilleux, a wonderful perception of greatness and atmosphere.
See also: http://www.clivechristy.com/2010/06/auguste-lepere-1849-1918.html
* Frances Gearhart's Merry go round borrowed from Lily's Japonism