Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Marie Wippermann in Paris

These two (signed Paris, 1907 and 1908) and at first sight rather crudely executed and not very appealing or decorative prints recently surfaced. On   closer examination they potentially may add a new chapter to my investigations into the lives of pioneering with color woodblock printmaking artists. First of all: I've never come across any artist by this name:

Marie Wippermann.

And secondly: they are really "early" Modern prints. Assuming she was German (historically there are many French families with a German family name) I also know from experience her family with almost certainty must be found in the upper regions of society: academics, industrials, physicians, intiligentia etc.. But she is simply not mentioned in any of the lexicons or handbooks. In the  Internet I found some Wipperman families at the end of the 19th century but so far without any direct or indirect connection or indications to an artist. (Unless she was baptized 1884 Margarethe and used "Marie" in Paris).  

Finding a German woman artist named Marie Wippermann in 1907 in Paris must be related to the great numbers of well-to-do German young women encouraged by their parents and being able to study in one of the Paris private Academies admitting women in contrast to Germany where women only were welcome well after WW-I.

Let's start with the nicest of the two prints. What is most striking: it is thoroughly "Japanese". In composition, subject and in execution. Below: Kawase Hasui, but decades later.   

Even without a proper title here's also some neurological proof the location in the brain for memory of pictures is the same spot remembering names: while instinctively recognizing the location.......... having seen "millions" of pictures, I had to look up the name of the Paris bridge. 

I have never seen this in such an early European woodblock print but the use of the "Japonist" diagonal in composition was described for instance in this iconic and famous print by Eugen Kirchner (1865-1938). 

Several iconic and later considered Masters of Modern Printmaking were only just active and still in the early years of  their careers as free creating artists, professors and teachers: Orlik, Moser, Thiemann, Klemm, Gabriele Münter, Martha Cunz etc... 

1907 is the year that Urushibara (1888-1953) left Japan for Europe to stay until his departure and return in 1934. His Quai D'Orsay is probably of a later date but only a few years before, in 1902 Henri Rivière published his 36 views on Paris (Eiffel tower) in "Japanese style". 

So, after realizing what exactly Marie depicted in 1907 on the banks of river Seine and some happy Googling it was possible to determine the exact location where she stood sketching. 

She shows several small boats anchored on long poles along Quai de Bourbon  on Isle St. Louis looking upstream towards Pont Marie on her right. Visible at the top is the tip of the most outer of a row of "Bateaux Lavoir": moored in river Seine washer boats. They have disappeared all a long time ago but once crowded all the quais of Paris. Not withstanding their romantic appearance life inside must have been pretty harsh, reminding of rows of slaves on a Roman (or French) rowing galley. 

Eugene Atget (1857-1927) a famous early Paris photographer showed these exact same boats on several occasions.  

And one of the painters who stood her was Bernard Lachevre (1888-1950) "Peintre  officielle de la Marine". He is mainly known for his ships portraits.  

Fritz Thaulow (1846-1906). I know I will do a certain Boston reader a great pleasure showing this example of his painting of the bow sections of these same washer boats chained to Pont Marie crossing river Seine connecting Isle St. Louis to the Hotel de Ville district. Thaulow was maybe the finest artist to depict the surface of the water in all his works. He also was a great aquatint etcher. As was his colleague Tavik Frantisek Simon (1877-1942). He chose the same row of Bateau Lavoirs looking down from downstream Pont Louis Philippe. 

Albert Marquet (1875-1947) saw and painted these boats and the bridge from  a window or balcony high up the Quai Bourbon.  


And here is Marie Wippermann's Paris companion print. The previous owners managed to keep them together for 110 years ! I have no idea about this Paris location. It is an intriguing print most of all because of the dominating sky with towering  white (thunder ?) cloud. 

But most important: I would love to know more (all !) about Marie Wippermann and would like to give her the place among her sister artists she deserves. Not known before last week she now has just one line in the book: "Unknown (German ?) printmaker visiting Paris 1907-1908 known from two woodblock prints". So please, when you've stumbled over this posting Googling "Wippermann" share any information on this artist with me and the rest of the world. 

PS: in 1908 Dresden impressionist painter and printmaker Rose Friedrich (1877-1953) studied for a year in Paris with Claude Monet.

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


  1. Just a note to say your dates are out of Urushibara. He arrived in the UK in 1910 and left in 1940. Quai D'Orsay was exhibited first in 1920 (I think).

    1. Thanks. Found dates mentioned here: https://art.famsf.org/yoshiji.
      All information found in the Internet is at least unreliable.

    2. PS: in 1908 Dresden impressionist painter and printmaker Rose Friedrich (1877-1953) also studied for a year in Paris with Claude Monet.

  2. As you know the first colour woodcuts were made in Paris well before 1907 and by that date, they had gone out of fashion. I can't say I'm impressed but as usual you have unearthed images they are interesting and new to me.

    1. Thank, and yes I know. I would like to be impressed by similar or even contemporary other examples, by other artists to compare them with.

  3. The blue Japanese print of the boat in the water is by Kawase Hasui, and would have been made decades after Wipermann's print. That's not to say that she wasn't influenced by earlier ukiyo-e prints (whether or not they featured boats).

    1. Thanks, you are right of course I will make a note in the post.