On December 27th, this site had a large traffic spike. Page requests were four times higher than they were the day before or the day after. The 27th also happens to be my birthday. Did people visit this site in order to wish me well? Of course not. They were looking for famous people born on their birthday.
I was well on my way to a Hermann-Paul collection when I discovered something of personal interest: The French graphic artist was born exactly one-hundred years before me, on December 27, 1864. We share a birthday and, apparently, a similar taste in art. He died on June 23, 1940 at age 75. I’m hoping for a better run.
The traffic spike that prompted this recollection made me wonder who else was born two days after Christmas. Interestingly, there’s a small cottage industry dedicated to solving this problem. A Google search provided plenty of sites that answer the following question: Who was born on my birthday? I chose Famous Birthdays because — let’s face it — you don’t expend this much effort to learn you share a birthday with Cleetus from rural Louisiana.
So what did Famous Birthdays have to say? It turns outs John Amos, Sydney Greenstreet and Savannah Guthrie were also born on the same day as me. Imagine that.
The piece on the right is listed in the Online Hermann-Paul catalog as The Amateur. I dated it to 1895 based on auction records. Here’s a recent example in which #10 was listed by Swann Galleries.
Eighteen ninety-five is very early for a Hermann-Paul wood cut print. Since it is so early, prints from this cut tend to sell for twice as much as similar items from the 1920s. This is his only known use of the media prior to the First World War. For a man who dedicated much of his post-war work to wood, it seems odd that he dabbled once in 1895 then abandoned the media for another nineteen years.
Prior to the war, Hermann-Paul’s graphic work dominated by etchings and lithographs. When war broke out in Europe, armaments started to consume France’s metal. It was by necessity that Hermann-Paul turned to wood. Once he was exposed to wood, he never turned back. His fine arts and his book illustrations were all conducted in wood. He used water color and oil during this period but often those were preparatory works for wood.
It seems likely that The Amateur was incorrectly dated and the error has been perpetuated by the self-reinforcing nature of the Internets. Swann Galleries even got the name wrong. It’s listed as La Vie de Monsieur Quelconque which was indeed an 1890s series by the artist.
Here’s a little secret: one way to date art is to date items in the motif. In The Amateur, the buyer’s facial hair is configured in an 1890s fashion. One can understand why some date this work to 1895. But other factors undermine that assessment. The use of wood is inconsistent with Hermann-Paul’s 1890s work. The signature is reminiscent of a much later style.
For now I’m going to leave this piece in the 1890s, but I suspect it actually dates to the 1920s. In the meantime, don’t spend more than $1200.00 for the work unless you really love it.
It seems like every town in the south of France has its own art patron saint. Nice has Mattise, Antibes has Picasso. You can’t walk a mile in Aix-en-Provence without stumbling over a sign or sculpture dedicated to Cézanne. And now, another famous French painter, Pierre Bonnard, has found a home for posterity in the French Riviera, this time in Le Cannet. –ArtInfo
Pierre Bonnard met Hermann-Paul in the 1890s when the pair were making lithograph posters in the circle of Toulouse-Lautrec. By their mid-twenties, they were part of a post-impressionist group of artists known as Les Nabis. By 1910, they started to chart a different course. Hermann-Paul began working with wood cuts and biding his time in the Carmague. His friend Bonnard left Paris for the south of France and the city that would later dedicate a museum to his work.
Musée Bonnard just opened in Le Cannet, a tiny hillside town overlooking Cannes where the artist produced some of his finest work. It is the first museum in the world dedicated to the artist. Bonnard’s star has risen of late. He was generally well-known among artists and aficionados but mostly unknown to the wider public. A major exhibition last year at the Metropolitan helped raise his profile. Musée Bonnard lifts it further.
[FT: Luminous Legacy]