Pointillism, invented by Georges Seurat, applies colour theory to painting in a radical way, substituting dots of colour for brush-strokes, and allowing the colours to mix naturally in the eye. It’s basically the same as modern colour printing, where all the colours in a reproduced image are made up of dots of black, cyan, yellow, and magenta. A remarkably wide range of artists adopted the Pointillist (or Divisionist) approach, if only temporarily, and at least three – Seurat, Signac, and Cross – produced masterpieces in it. But I never expected to find a monochrome Pointillist. His name was John Jack Vrieslander, a German artist, born in 1879, After studying at the Düsseldorfer Akademie from 1897 to1898, Vrieslander went to Munich, where he lived from 1901 to 1905. Then he moved to Paris, where he lived for the years 1905 to 1908. It must have been here that he encountered Pointillism (still an active force in neo-Impressionism, although Seurat had died in 1891), and experimented with it in his etchings. Both of my etchings by John Jack Vrieslander depict Parisian scenes, and were almost certainly executed there. The influence of Seurat is strongly felt.
John Jack Vrieslander, Place de la Concorde
They were published in 1910 by Zeitschrift für Bildende Kunst to accompany a short article on Vrieslander’s etchings by Ernst Schulz-Besser. Schulz-Besser writes admiringly of Vrieslander’s elegance of line and mastery of the distribution of forms. He remarks, “His technique, as applied to these two etchings, appears somewhat laborious, but the elaborate method produces a refined shimmering effect.” Unfortunately one of my etchings, Place de la Concorde, is rather discoloured with yellow staining from the tissue guard, and foxing in the margins. It’s still an attractive piece, though. Luckily the second, Jardin du Luxembourg, is in much better condition.
John Jack Vrieslander, Jardin du Luxembourg
John Jack Vrieslander’s career does not seem to have taken off, and he is now a virtually forgotten artist. Besides his etchings, he published a number of portfolios of black-and-white drawings, often of theatrical or lightly erotic scenes, such as Varieté, Schlafende Frauen, Rose Mirliton, and Paris. Beyond that, I can’t find out much about him. He died in 1957, having long outlived his brief fame.