Félix Bracquemond (1833-1914)
Was Félix Bracquemond an Impressionist?
The few oil paintings Félix Bracquemond made until 1869 were quite traditional in the line of Ingres (R73,p25). Bracquemond emphasizes the importance of line above that of colour (R73,p9+21). In that sense he was not an Impressionist. In several of his etchings Bracquemond tries to render the influence of weather, time of day and season, clearly impressionist motives. But overall he was more a Realist than an Impressionist.
Still Bracquemond was very active within the impressionist circles and he exhibiting in 3 of the 8 ‘impressionist’ expositions. So Bracquemond clearly was part of the impressionist art-movement, but he also clearly was not one of the key-figures.
Félix Bracquemond exhibited at the impressionist expositions in 1874 + 79 + 80:
In 1874 Félix Bracquemond joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition with 33 works. 1 drawing and 32 etchings. They were listed in 6 catalogue numbers (23-28). With these 33 works he exhibited far out the most art-works and in that sense Félix Bracquemond was the most important artist of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition. It also can be seen as a retrospective of his work, many of them were first exhibited at the Salon. This made him a sort of famous guest star within this first independent exposition where many quite unknown artists were fighting for recognition.
In 1879 Félix Bracquemond joined the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition with 4 works, all etchings (catalogue numbers 3-6).
In 1880 Félix Bracquemond joined the 5th ‘impressionist’ exposition with 14 works, 1 drawing and at least 13 etches for faience tableware (catalogue numbers 4 + 5).
See link for his exhibited art-works. See link for an account of the exhibited works (references, translations, info, discussion, locations on Google-maps).
Félix Bracquemond at the Salon:
Before and after Félix Bracquemond exhibited with the Impressionists he exhibited at the Salon. He made his debut in 1852 and thereafter exhibited in 1853/55/57/59/61/64/65/66/66/67/68/69/70/72. In 1863 he was rejected and exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. Bracquemond received a medal for his oil painting exhibited in 1866 (R73,p8+25;iR1). After he exhibited with the Impressionists in 1874 / 79 / 80, Bracquemond exhibited at the successor of the Salon, at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1881/82/84/86/87/89. Thereafter he choose for the alternative Salon de la Société National des Beaux-Arts (=SNBA) and exhibited there in 1891/92/93/1902/07. In 1902 he exhibited applied art and in 1907 Bracquemond had a solo exhibition in Salle D.
A realist within the impressionist art-movement:
Rappard-Boon suggests that his rejection at the Salon of motivated Félix Bracquemond to join the independent Société des Aquafortistes (R73,p7). But he co-founded this society earlier in 1861/2. Later on in 1867 Bracquemond supported the plea of Bazille for an independent exhibition. In 1870 he repeated this plea himself. But Moffett doesn’t mention him as one of the co-founders of the ‘Société Anonyme…’ (which is contradicted by Rappard-boon;R73,p17). At the first impressionist exposition in 1874 he exhibited 33 works, which made him far out the artist showing the most works (15% of the total). In 1879 he showed 4 and in 1880 he showed probably at least 14 works. Still in books on Impressionism you will not often find his name and almost no picture of one of his works. Moffett and Walther reproduce just one picture (R2,p318; R3,p208). There are two main reasons for this. 1. Félix Bracquemond is more a Realist than an Impressionist. And 2. Bracquemond merely was an etcher and almost didn’t paint.
Braquemond was befriended with Degas and related painters as Fatin-Latour, Manet and Whistler. He portrays many (impressionist) artists and corresponds with several of them. He takes part of the meetings at Café Guerbois in the late 1860’s and in Café Nouvelle-Athènes in the early 1870’s (R3,p650; R16,p81;R73,p17). This makes him part of the impressionist circles.
Félix Bracquemond was an engraver:
Félix Bracquemond far most was an engraver. Though he received drawing lessons form Joseph Guichard in 1848, Bracquemond was an autodidact. Only since 1872 Bracquemond had his own etching press, before that he let his etchings press by others, merely by Auguste Delâtre. In the second half of the 19th century in France one could not earn much by making etchings and Bracquemond did know poverty. Engraving was often used for making reproductions of paintings and Bracquemond did so many times and exhibited several of them (see 1874-25). Bracquemond also made many portraits, especially of people involved in the artistic scenes (see 1874-24). He advised many artists in engraving, including Degas, Gauguin, Manet. Bracquemond experienced with several procedures and techniques. He invented ‘la procédé à la plume’, with which one directly draws with a pen at the etching plate. In 1873 he also reinvented the colour etch (see 1879-3). Bracquemond made many states of one etch, being not very fast satisfied with the result. His etchings are of an unstable quality. His refined landscapes done with a dry needle are the best of his oeuvre. (R73,p5-21;iR1)
Félix Bracquemond and applied art:
Already in 1857 Félix Bracquemond worked at a faïence factory. Fame he received for his designs made for the Rousseau service in 1866. Bracquemond used Japanese motifs found in albums of Hokusai, Hiroshige and Taito. Bracquemond used different motifs for different tableware. In 1871 he works 6 months at the ‘Manufacture de Sèvres’. In 1872 he becomes artistic director at a studio of the faience factory Haviland in Auteuil and will do so until 1881 (Walther mentions 1879;R3). Bracquemond made several series of tableware. ‘Service Parisien’ designed in 1875 contained landscapes rendered under different weather conditions (a very impressionistic motif) and animal and plant motifs. In 1878 he designed ‘Le bestiaire’, on which he used animal and plant motifs. For his applied art Bracquemond would use several techniques like woodcarving, embroideries, ‘emaux cloissonés + ajour’. Together with Alexandre Charpentier, Jules Chéret, (Besnard and Rodin) he made several decorative designs for the mansion ‘La Sapinière’ in Evian of Baron J. Vitta (or: Vita). Some of these works were exhibited at the SNBA in 1902. (R73,p5-21;iR1)
Félix Bracquemond, a short biography:
- 1833: born in Paris as Joseph Auguste Bracquemond (R73,p6;R3,p650; iR1)
- 1848: Death of his father, who had been a tailor and caretaker (R73,p6)
- 1848: Félix Bracquemond was a pupil of Joseph-Benoît Guichard (R73,p6;R5,p257; R3,p650; R16,p81;iR1)
- 1852: debut at the Salon (R3,p650; R16,p81;iR1)
- 1856: Bracquemond discovers some Japanese albums and gets interested in Japanese (and Chinese) art and inspires many fellow artists (R73,p19;R5,p17;R3)
- 1861-2: with Legros co-founder of the ‘Société des Aquafortistes’. They were supported by Cadart. Corot, Courbet, Daubigny, Fantin-Latour, Manet, Puvis de Chavannes, Whistler and others were members. (R73,p18)
- 1863: exhibits at the Salon des Refusés (R5,p25;iR1)
- 1864: along with Legros and related painters as Whistler and Manet, Bracquemond stood model for the group-portrait of Fatin-Latour ‘Hommage à Delacroix’ (R5,p28)
- 1867: A portrait by Bracquemond of Manet is published in ‘L’Artiste’ (R5,p43)
- 1869: marries Marie Bracquemond-Quivoron who joins the 4th, 5th and 8th ‘impressionist’ exposition (R3,p650;R73,p8)
- 1869: Bracquemond stops making oil paintings (R73,p8)
- 1880: Bracquemond has succes at the fifth ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1880 with his portrait of Edmond de Goncourt. He is praised for his finished and ‘Ingres-like’ way of drawing and thus is opposed to the independents / impressionists (R2,p318; R5,p119).
- 1881: The health of Bracquemond declines (R73,p9)
- 1886: Degas writes Bracquemond he may not join the eight ‘impressionist’ exposition because he has submitted to the Salon (R5,p151)
- 1886: published ‘Du dessin et de la couleur’ dealing on engraving (R5,p257; according to Walther in 1885, R3,p650)
- 1889/01/23: first exhibition of the ‘Société des Peintres-Graveurs’ by Durand-Ruel including Bracquemond, Pissarro, Cassatt and Redon (R5,p168;R73,p18;R44,p28). Other exhibitions would follow and Félix Bracquemond was an important force behind them (R44,p28). In 1891 they excluded artists who were not French by birth, thus excluding Pissarro and Cassatt who had their own exhibition at Durand-Ruel (R44,p31).
- 1900: receives the ‘Grand Prix de Gravure’ at the World Exhibition (R3,p650; R16,p81)
- 1914/09/15 Félix Bracquemond dies at the age of 81 in Paris (R5,p236)
My main sources are books on Félix Bracquemond: of Rappard-Boon (1993=R73) and of Bouillon (1987=R52). Additional sources are Moffett (1986=R2), Walther (2013=R3,p650), Denvir (1993=R5) and the Salon database (iR1). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are Wikimedia (iR6) and NYPL digital collection (=aR1=iR61). For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
Additional references (=aRx):
- NYPL digital collection / Félix Bracquemond (823 pictures !) (=iR61)
- Félix Bracquemond et les Arts décoratifs (digital reverence to a book)
- aubainmarie.fr (6 plates engraved by Bracquemond)
- expertissim.com (info on Bracquemonds Service pour Haviland)
- petitpalaisparis (info on Bracquemonds Service pour Haviland)
- Christies.com (info on Bracquemonds Service pour Haviland)