Friday, 19 August 2016

Marcel Lucien Baron, a Paris aquatint etcher

Stumbling over a pair of aquatint etchings signed “Baron” in a local charity shop brings me to Paris today. Most people will consider this “Souvenir Art” (these color etchings obviously were produced for that purpose), "old fashioned" and perhaps not the most “artistic” or collectable prints: a poor man’s choice. They may have been in the shop for quite a while and before I cleaned them they were very browned and showing very unattractive. Well…………., after next postings you may think otherwise or decide for your selfs.

Thanks to the incredible possibilities of the Internet (a quick Google search) I learned one of them is actually showing Eglise Sainte Etienne du Mont in central Paris in the  “Quartier Latin”. Seen from the Rue de la Montagne Sainte Geneviève” just around “Place Larue”. I particularly love the wall with the advertisements. I think he was familiar with the works of a famous and very successful colleague working in Paris. 

And I like it. Very much. OK, it’s not a Tavik Frantisek  Simon (1877-1942) the undisputed king of printmakers of Paris street views. Not by far. Simon, who is very collectable and desirable nowadays, did not do “Eglise St. Etienne” but he choose “Eglise St. Severin” (500 meters away as the crow flies). And also used and included a blind wall with  advertisements............ And he was pretty good with figures. A print not to be picked up in car boot I'm afraid. 

By Eugene Atget (1857-1927) a pioneer Paris photographer

Among the many Baron prints that are available in Ebay every day (most of them however are not as good) this one is probably his finest. I think. Until now nobody ever bothered to look into the life of this bread and butter printmaker who simply signs “Baron”, a bit deeper. Showing some nice old photo’s from the same spot I'll try to avoid showing Barons many etchings here: I will make a selection for a later posting. There are some locations that are in need of identification too hopefully with the help of readers.  

 By "Yvon": Pierre Yves Petit (1886-1969) contemporary photographer of Marcel Lucien Baron 

I found his grave in "Cimetière Pere la Chaise", assuming the “peintre” who lies here is the artist signing the many Paris aquatint etching with a simple “Baron”. One can not be careful enough with assumptions. Until someone knows better let us assume:

Marcel Lucien Baron (Paris 14-06-1872 - 1956 Paris) is mentioned in Benezit Artist Dictionary: “Peintre de paysages forestiers“ (painter of forestry landscapes”, but there’s no mentioning of his graphic activities nor where or with whom he studied. He exhibited in the “Société Nationale des Beaux Arts”, in “Salon d’Automne” and with the “Indépendants. His woody landscape paintings seem all but forgotten a century later.


It would be nice to know who his parents (or family) were and where and with whom he’d studied. An interesting lead may be these two “Baron” artists I found in “Benezit, Dictionaire des Artistes”. Without speculating, I think there may be some clues here and the time-lines making it not impossible to suspect a relationship. Reasons to investigate further:

Stéphane Baron
 (Lyon 1830 or 32 – around 1921 probably Paris)

He is mentioned in Benezit too and remarkable enough as “Peintre et Aquafortiste” exhibiting also in Paris and winning prizes (1875 and 1926). Stéphane had been a student of his father, amateur engraver Jean Balthazar Baron (1788 -1869) and in Paris by Leon Cogniet (1794-1880) a historical painter, Prix de Rome winner and professor in the “Ecole des beaux Arts”, but best remembered as a teacher who taught over a hundred later well known artists but died forgotten in the 10th arrondisement in Paris and is also buried in Père-Lachaise. 

Jean Balthazar Baron
(Lyon 14-07-1788 - 24-06-1869 Lyon) 

“Manufacturer of silk products and judge at the “Tribunal de Commerce” 1843-1845 in Lyon. He started making lithographic prints 1824-25 before trying at etching of local (Lyon) motifs but also locations around Paris when he was there for his business trips. It is said his figures weren’t all that good but his work showed great love for nature” (Benezit).

A clue for a family connection might also be he used besides several signatures, a monogram J.B. but also: a simple: Baron. There has been recent interest in J.B. Baron’s work and career, a book was published and his work is collected in Lyon Museums.


But it was the finding of Marcel Baron’s wife, buried with him at Père Lachaise, that gave me a thrill. I'll tell you all about her in my next posting.

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


  1. After reading your first two paragraphs and seeing the first image, I also immediately thought of Simon's colored Parisian etchings such as "Rue Saint-Jacques."

    1. Hello Darrel. This one does indeed, most of the others are not as good. The companion print was a "Bouqinistes", Simon did several booksellers prints. I will put these in a separate posting later. I found two Simon "St. Jacques" prints btw. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Yes, Simon did a number of bookseller prints. All of Simon's prints are illustrated here:, a one of a kind site devoted to Simon's life and work.

    1. Indeed Darrel, a wonderful reference site.