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Monday, 14 May 2018

Hermann-Paul's 'Little Typewriters': What Did He See?

The prints, drawings and paintings of French artist Hermann-Paul (René Georges Hermann-Paul, 1864-1940) are generally quite realistic, the more so because he produced work in the "intimiste" style, that school of impressionist painting in France whose painters portrayed everyday, usually domestic,
scenes. The seemingly derisive term was coined by Édouard Vuillard. Still, it's difficult to work out what typewriters Hermann-Paul saw when he produced "Les petites machines à écrire ("Little Typewriters"), one of his earliest known published works. The three-colour lithograph on wove paper (paper made on a wire-gauze mesh so as to have a uniform unlined surface; some sources vellum) is 22½ inches by almost 17 inches (57.3cm x 42.9cm) and the original is in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam. "Little Typewriters" appeared in L'Album des peintres-graveurs ("painter-engraver"), printed by Auguste Clot and published by Ambroise Vollard in 1896. The cover is by George Auriol, the French type and graphic designer. Given the year of publication, whatever the typewriters are they're not Juniors or Bennetts, as the tiny keyboards might suggest, but perhaps something like "reconstructed" or "re-construed" Bar-Locks or even Blickensderfers?
The museum says "Little Typewriters" is Japonism, a style first described by French art critic and collector Philippe Burty in 1872, from the French Japonisme, referring to a Japanese influence on European art, especially in impressionism. But Hermann-Paul (self-portrait, left) is also known to have been influenced by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Peintre-graveur distinguishes between printmakers, whether working in engraving, etching or woodcut, who designed images with the primary purpose of producing a print, and those who essentially copied in a print medium a composition by another, to produce what is known as a "reproductive print", or who produced only essentially non-artistic work in print form, such as maps.
Hermann-Paul drew on a stone with lithographic crayon. After the material was fixed to the stone, he washed the whole thing with water. The greasy image repelled the water which dampened the bare stone. Then he would apply printers ink to the stone. Since water repels grease, the ink sat only on the image area. After the stone was inked, Hermann-Paul laid paper on the stone and applied pressure with a roller. He repeated the process for multiple colors. Hermann-Paul was an artist of considerable scope. He was a well-known illustrator whose work appeared in numerous newspapers and periodicals. His fine art was displayed in gallery exhibitions alongside Vuillard, Henri Matisse and Toulouse-Lautrec. Early works were noted for their satiric characterizations of the foibles of French society. His points were made with simple caricature. Hermann-Paul worked in Ripolin enamel paint, watercolors, woodcuts, lithographs, drypoint engraving, oils and ink. 


Bill M said...

Stone cold printing, Interesting process.

Richard P said...

Weird image! I think it's pure fantasy, and I like it.