Monday, 25 April 2016

Marius Bauer: Susanna or Saskia ?

Recently I discovered this intriguing and charming etching in a fair. Going through a pile of other "stuff" this one stood out and since I could not find any new works created by my German woodblock printmaking ladies, I decided she was to be my fair consolation. 

What had caught my eye, and interest, was the Rembrandtesque light, the sketch like drawing and the slightly familiar interior and pose of the startled girl. See also the subtle slipper lower right. In both works ! 

It is obvious the artist was inspired by Rembrandts Susanna (but without the dirty old men euphemistically named.. "Elders"). 

And that she is actually situated in Rembrandts house (preparing and looking towards the bed) is maybe another a clue. This artist knew his Rembrandt (1606-1669) and showed his admiration in this "pastiche".
Rembrandt drew his love Saskia in the "box" bed. And she may also have been model to the most lovely, intimate and spontaneous nude drawings I know.

Even during his life Rembrandts sketches probably were inspiration for others. I can't help suspecting Rubens was inspired by Rembrandt in his Susanna (1636-40), but I'm not an art historian. 

It is known, Rembrandt probably was on his way with Hendrikje, his later wife, to visit her parents that Rembrandt stayed in the city of Amersfoort in the early 1650's. Here lived  his colleague Paulus Bor  (1601-1669). This location, the Westersingel, very near the place where I learned to play the piano. 300 years later.. 

Paulus Bor, sitting nude  ------------------

There has been a signature, obviously, but it looks like it has been clumsily erased. Why ? After some research I found this etching listed in the catalogue raisonée of one of the most important (consider by experts "the best") Dutch 1880-1930 etchers and "orientalist" Marius Bauer (1867-1932) and there it is titled "Saskia". 

The residue of the erased signature however resembling the signature seen in etchings by Etienne Bosch (1863-1933). Sadly the print has no margins. Another clue why the erased signature, was within it's borders ........A clue but not an answer. 

Etienne Bosch had been a class mate and friend of Marius Bauer in the Hague Art Academie (studying there 1880-85, yes Bauer entered aged 12 !). Like Bauer, Bosch probably shared the same teachers and thus also had been a student of controversial George Breitner (1857-1923) a most celebrated post-impressionist and early photographer who had once claimed Vincent van Gogh paintings were: "Art for Eskimo's"................ I think this was not ment to be an advice hanging Vincents colorful paintings in an Greenland iglo. It had to do with the colors Breitner could not approve of.  

 Bauer and Breitner, student and master.
Both considered controversial in the Hague's Academy. Both left.  

Who knows, Bosch "cheated" with Bauers copper plate and changed his mind later. There can be multiple explanations. As long there's no copy of the etching with Bauers actual signature I'll stay doubtful about the attribution. The original plate, but without makers markings or signature is said to have been found together with 50 others (by Bauer) and is now kept in Bauers reference collection. But "found together" is no proof either. 

Both men were involved in the "Nederlandse Etsclub" (Dutch Etching Club 1885-1896) and consisted of some 28 leading Dutch graphic artists publishing and promoting their work and organizing exhibitions showing the international graphic works of contemporary colleagues: Degas, Whistler, Rops, Pissarro and many others.  

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only. 

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