Friday, 20 January 2012

Around Antwerpen School Printmaking (VIII)

Emile Antoine Verpilleux (IV)
British painter, portraitist,
woodengraver, illustrator and
Modern Printmaker

It would be interesting comparing Verpilleux’s British Museum print with works by his colleagues of the period who also choose similar classic-revival buildings. The more I look at Verpilleux' prints the more I am convinced he deliberately choose a different approach from his colleagues. A view not done before (Edinburgh, York), an even grander panorama (river Thames), a daring perspective (Tower Bridge) or like here, a careful choosen detail of the front entrance of the British Museum.   

This section of a very recent photograph (right) showing  how accurate a woodengraver and printmaker he was. Nothing much has changed in a 100 years except for maybe the fashion. In earlier comments it was discussed photography may have been used creating composition. A posting is already in preparation showing the photogravures of enigmatic William Hyde proving the interaction, use and thin line between early photography and other forms of Art.  

The British Museum (designed by architect Robert Smirke) was opened in 1847. American etcher Joseph Pennell (1857-1926) when living in London (untill 1914) had his own studio on the Adelphi Terrace overlooking river Thames and also had a keen eye for  drama and perspective. He created these two British Museum prints. 

The two artists actually may even have met. Pennel also staging, suggesting crowds in the lower margins in most of his prints, like Verpilleux and August Lepère (see before postings). This is perticularly the case in both artists New York high-rise prints (later)   
Pennel also created this view of St. Pauls cathedral:  “St. Paul’s pavement”. 

(This print/etch sometimes wrongly titled "the London Stock Exchange" for reasons not difficult to understand as you can see later)  

The Paris Stock Exchange (“Bourse de Paris”), build in 1825, was a comparable classic decorative city landmark attracting many and various artists,

like this other great artist Emile Verpilleux may have met either in London or in Antwerp: Frantisek Tavik Simon (1877-1942). Simon is said to have visited Antwerp and Holland while living in Paris, the years Verpilleux studied there. He later stayed and worked in London when Verpilleux had returned in 1910. 

Anton Schutz (1894-1977) a German printmaker (left) who later immigrated to the US and made it to fame and glory as a printmaker of American city-scapes was here too.

And Luigi Kasimir (1881-1962), in spite of his Italian name, Austro-Hungarian innovator of color-etching was inspired creating one of his most interesting works here (above). It is certainly one of his most entertaining. Kasimir was in London too, have a look at both his and Verpilleux' Tower Bridge print here*

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Also by Luigi Kasimir is “Eglise Madeleine” a neo classical colonnade church. Building started before the French Revolution and was at last completed in 1842. Chopin’s funeral ceremony was held here a few years later in 1849. His last request was Mozart’s Requiem to be played. The service was delayed for two weeks allowing for the exception to be made for female choir members attending in the church. But invisible, singing from behind curtains was the comprise. 

In Berlin the “Altes Museum” by architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel was similarly build 1823-1830 on the Museum Insel. The entrance closely resembling the British Museum. Or is it the other way around. Just a coincidence?

In the Victorian era similar neo-classical buildings were designed and build in many places in the Old and New World. 

National Galleries, Banks and almost every Stock Exchange Building was designed with classic columns. Showing-(off) wealth (companies), good taste (city officials) and to impress mortals (tax and insurance payers). Creating a feeling of safety and stability. 
After a century and a half in the case of the National Galleries only this seems to have been justifiable architectoral symbolism. Like the stability they once symbolised  the columns have all but disappeared from modern buildings today. 
The list of similarly designed decorative and impressive buildings is as long as the list of artists and photographers portraying them. Sydney Jones (1881-1966) and his rendering of the Royal Exchange (above, collums of the Bank of England on the left) the last example for this posting.
The new Rome Stock Exchange was designed and rebuild just before the Victorian age and may have set the example and revival to Victorian Europe's city architects. In Rome they re used the actual columns (those that were left) of Hadrian’s palace.  Some 15.

Emperor Hadrian (76-135 AD) middlest of the Five Good Emperors might have walked the Londinium Hills during his visit in 122 AD, thus nicely closing the circle of this posting on Verpilleux' 3 British Museum pillars.

Question: Shall I continue with another posting on Verpilleux' prints , or move on ?


  1. Gosh, Gerrie, this is a lot of research, with all these interesting comparative images. Definitely adding to the sum of human knowledge!

  2. It added to mine Neil, thank you. And research is a big word. Combining pictures and artists on a rainy afternoon really.

  3. Thank you Lorna, I think that meant a yes for another one ?

  4. Gerrie, perhaps they all made prints of the BM hoping their prints would find a way into the collection! I don't have time right now to do you justice. I only have half an hour oin a Naples internet joint.

    Ciao, Charles

  5. I think the ended up all up in the Tate. Safe return !