Sunday, April 10, 2011

Edouard Daliphard - a lost Impressionist?

Édouard Daliphard is the opposite of a household name. Until I acquired the etching below, I had never heard of him - and actually it took quite a bit of concentrated research to find out who the artist was or anything about him. But now I feel quite passionately that Daliphard deserves new study and re-assessment. The classic lost Impressionist is Frédéric Bazille, who died in 1870 at the age of just 28. But Édouard Daliphard is another case in point. Daliphard was born in Rouen in 1833. He studied under Gustave Morin at the Beaux-Arts in Rouen, and then under Joseph Quinaux at the Brussels Academy. He exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1864-1875, and is best known for melancholy twilight landscapes of scenes in Belgium, Holland, and France. He died prematurely in 1877; I do not know the cause, but the fact that he failed to exhibit in 1876 suggests an illness rather than sudden death.

Édouard Daliphard, Etched signature

My etching by Daliphard is a street scene executed with an Impressionist spareness. It is the only etching by Édouard Daliphard that I have come across, and dates from the very end of his short life. It may be the only etching he ever made. It was commissioned from Daliphard by the Impressionist printmaker Henri Guérard for the short-lived journal Paris à l'Eau-Forte, which was published from 1873-1876. I have not yet been able to see a complete run of this journal, so I do not know if Daliphard's etching was published in the original run. Quite probably it did not appear until after Daliphard's death when - in 1879 or 1880 - the editor Richard Lesclide tried to revive the publication. My sense is that Lesclide was left with a lot of debts after the failure of Paris à l'Eau-Forte, When his own fortunes had revived, largely due to his employment as secretary to Victor Hugo, he had a go at reviving the journal. It seems he had a supply of etchings already printed by Delâtre for the original journal, and also a supply of copper plates, either previously published or commissioned but never published. Freshly-printed etchings were printed by Quantin, not Delâtre. The new version of Paris à l'Eau-Forte survived for two volumes, the second of which was renamed Eaux-fortes Parisiennes (though the dustwrapper still retained the old title). The economic desperation of this publication may be tested by comparison of two different copies. My first copy of Eaux-fortes Parisiennes has 26 etchings. My second copy, with exactly the same text, has only 17. Only 5 etchings are repeated, and not in any sort of rational order - for instance the frontispiece in the first copy, by Marc Antoine Claude Monnin, is repeated in the second, but opposite page 168. There are also several repeat etchings from my copy of the first volume of this ill-fated relaunch. There are no lists of the etchings, and in all 3 volumes there are some I cannot confidently attribute to a particular artist.

Édouard Daliphard, Street scene
Etching c.1876

Luckily, one of the etchings present in both my copies of Eaux-fortes Parisiennes is this deft work by Édouard Daliphard. The economy of line in this etching just takes my breath away. At a time when etching was all about filling the page with black, Daliphard holds back. His philosophy here is less-is-more - and he is right. It's perhaps hard now to realise how daring it was to leave so much detail out, and to simply suggest the subject rather than delineate it. Daliphard was influenced by Corot and the Barbizon School, and it seems likely that if he had lived he would have allied himself with the Impressionists. In 1875 Daliphard became a very early patron of Impressionism when he bought Berthe Morisot's La Lecture for 210 francs; the painting is now in the Cleveland Museum of Art.


Atelier Conti said...

What a fascinating story. You are a real sleuth. The print is exquisite. Thank you so much for introducing us to Édouard Daliphard and this lovely print!

Neil said...

Luckily the signature printed more evenly on the second copy - on the first I couldn't make out the initial letter of the surname, so was stuck!

Jane Librizzi said...

I checked the website of the Cleveland Museum & couldn't find a mention of Daliphard. Either they forgot they own it or they de-accessioned it. I wonder which. The indignity of it!

Neil said...

Jane - Here's the link to the Cleveland site - you need to scroll down till you get to Morisot.

Valentin said...

I happen to have own one of his paintings, named "La freme de la Maladrerie". I had no idea who he was, thank you

Neil said...

Glad to be of help, Valentin. Lucky you to have one of Daliphard's paintings.