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Henri Rivière and Japonisme
Henri Rivière and Japonisme
Henri Rivière (Paris, 1864-1951)
Much of Rivière’s art was influenced by Japanese woodcut prints, which had become well-known in the Parisian artistic community, particularly after the exhibitions of Japanese prints in Paris in 1888 and 1890. He collected Japanese prints and became friends with Tadamasa Hayashi (1853-1906), a print dealer in Paris. Rivière taught himself to design and cut wood blocks, make appropriate inks and print the images. He began printing woodcuts
in 1888. An admirer of works by Japanese artists Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858) and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Rivière’s prints used the flat colors, two-dimensional forms and compositions with elements cut off by borders, typical of Japanese ukiyo-e (“floating world”) prints.
Henri Rivière, Paris, 1864-1951. La Falaise, 1897, from Les Aspects de la Nature . A series of sixteen lithographs in twelve colors, edition of 1000, printed by Eugène Verneau. Dm. 545 x 830 mm, Ref: Sueur-Hermel, BNF p. 135-141, Fields 3. $2,900.
…most important was his blending of the Brittany landscape -- a Western artist’s view of nature -- with the Japanese style of perspective, high horizons and flat color.This combination created a picture that the critic Édouard Louis Sarradin (1869-1957) said was the ‘quintessence of nature.’
Armond Fields, Henri Rivière, 1983
Henri Rivière, Paris, 1864-1951. La Plage, 1908, from Les Aspects de la Nature . A series of sixteen lithographs in twelve colors, edition of 1000, printed by Eugène Verneau Dm. 540 x 830 mm, Ref: Sueur-Hermel, BNF p.135-141, Fields 14. $2,800.
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, Tokyo (Edo) 1797–1858 Tokyo (Edo)), View of Imaki Point from Maizaka , ca. 1834, Woodblock print; ink and color on paper, 241 x 357 mm, courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art
Henri Rivière, Paris, 1864-1951. Le Ruisseau,1898, from Les Aspects de la Nature . A series of sixteen lithographs in twelve colors, edition of 1000, printed by Eugène Verneau. Dm. 545 x 830 mm. Ref: Sueur-Hermel, BNF p. 135-141, Fields 12. $2,700.
Uniting Impressionism and Japonisme in woodcuts and lithography in the 19th century, Benjamin Jean Pierre Henri Rivière (Paris 1864-1951) was also a gifted theatrical designer. A life-long resident of the Montmartre district of Paris, Rivière received only limited formal art training, studying for a year with Émile Jean Baptiste Philippe Bin (1825-1897), a painter known as Émile Bin, the “mayor of Montmartre”. In Bin’s studio, Rivière met Paul Signac (1863-1935), who became a close friend. Signac encouraged Rivière to visit Brittany in 1880. Brittany became Rivière’s summer home and (together with Paris) an inspiration for Rivière’s art.
Selected bibliography: Cate, Phillip Dennis. “From Redon to Rivière: Albums of the 1890s,” in
Gilmour, Pat, ed. Lasting Impressions: Lithography as Art. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1988. Ives, Colta Feller. The Great Wave: the Influence of Japanese
Woodcuts on French Prints. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974.