Monday, July 10, 2017
France's Auguste-Louis Lepere
Auguste-Louis Lepère (1849 - 1918) was a French artist who was considered the a European leader in printmaking circles. By the mid-1870s, Lepère had clearly emerged as one of the most renowned printmakers of his time. Lepère became an expert both in making reproductive images from which others prepared matrixes to print images, and in making the prints himself.
He was born to the sculptor François Lepère. He was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to the English printmaker Joseph Burn Smeeton who worked in Paris. Lepère desired to be a painter and submitted his work to the annual Salons but he also worked for thirty years as an illustrator, earning his livelihood producing printmaking illustrations for various magazines. Prints were widely used for illustrations in journals during that time so it provided him with a dependable income.
With the advent of photographic images being used for magazines and newspapers, Lepere stubbornly continued to make his images in the printmaking media. It was a natural progression for him to move from magazine illustration to book illustration and Lepère became well-known as one of the masters of French book illustration.
Between 1889 and 1901, Lepere’s favorite subjects were the urban Parisian scenes—bridges, cathedrals and boulevards. He focused mostly on daily life and he is now renowned for his use of colored paper, and combining printmaking processes on the same print. In total, his graphic body of work consists of over 150 etchings, over 200 wood engravings and 14 lithographs.
In the 1880s Lepère’s reproductive prints business expanded, while he continued to publish original prints. He abandoned his atelier in 1884, and after 1885 pursued making only original prints for journals and illustrations in books and prints sold as single sheets.
He exhibited his prints in the Salon, receiving medals in 1881 and 1887.
Lepère’s artistic experimentation continued in 1889 with hand-colored prints. In the Exposition des Peintres-Graveurs at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in 1890, he exhibited 41 works in a variety of media. Also in that year he exhibited his prints at the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
His work encouraged artists like Henri Rivière, Félix Vallotton and Paul Gauguin in the 1890s, leading to a revival of printmaking.
After 1900 Lepère was financially able to spend more time painting, and his earlier work was republished in portfolios.
Member of the Legion of Honor