Color woodcut printed from 12 blocks
Support: Japanese laid tissue
Sheet: 35 x 52.2 cm (13 3/4 x 20 9/16 in.); Image: 23 x 35.1 cm (9 1/16 x 13 13/16 in.)
Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland 2004.16
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris
Catalogue raisonné: Fields, p. 82, XXXIX; Sueur-Hermel 60
During a period of feverish activity from 1890 to 1894, Henri Rivière created some of the finest, most complex color woodcuts produced in 19th-century France. This seascape of Brittany, depicting a view from Rivière’s summer home that overlooked the sea, required 12 different blocks, each used to print a different color in the composition. French interest in Japanese art had been steadily increasing since it began to be imported to Paris in the 1860s. Rivière was enamored with Japanese prints and incorporated aspects of the Japanese aesthetic—particularly the high horizons and flat passages of brilliant colors—into his own work. He sought to emulate the Japanese woodblock technique, making his own cutting tools, cutting his own blocks, mixing his own inks, and doing all of his own printing. Eager for authenticity, he searched for antique Japanese paper upon which to print his blocks. His work was a tremendous success; a contemporary critic commented that his landscapes communicated the "quintessence of nature."
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