Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pierre Dubreuil and Hans Gött: two pupils of Henri Matisse

While most of Henri Matisse's close relationships with other artists were as friend and colleague, sharing ideas and going on joint painting expeditions (for instance in Collioure with Derain in 1906, in Tangier with Marquet and Camoin in 1912, in La Goulette with Étienne Bouchaud in 1926), he also had various formal and informal master-pupil relationships. Most notably, between 1908 and 1912 he ran the Académie Matisse. Many of the students there were Scandinavian, of whom the stars were Sigrid Hjertén, Isaac Grünewald and Per Krohg, but there were also Americans (Max Weber, Alfred Maurer), Germans (Hans Purrmann) and even Britons (Matthew Smith). At this time Matisse had much more respect internationally than he commanded at home, and there was a notable lack of French students at the Académie Matisse. One young French artist who did attend was Pierre Dubreuil. I'm prompted to write about him because of the almost simultaneous acquisition of his engraving Sarah la baigneuse, and the etching Schlafendes Mädchen by Hans Gött. Two sensuous reclining nudes, both resonating with Matisse's vision of an art of luxe, calme, et volupté. Gött was not a student at the Académie Matisse, but instead benefited from informal lessons in Matisse's atelier in 1919.

Pierre Dubreuil, Sarah la baigneuse
Engraving, 1930

Pierre Dubreuil was born in Quimper, Brittany, in 1891. After initial studies in Vannes, and three months at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Dubreuil entered the Académie Matisse in 1908, and remained there until Matisse dissolved the school in spring 1912. His artistic career was stalled by World War One. First military service and then war mobilization stole seven years from his artistic development. Dubreuil did not exhibit until 1921, after which he was a regular at the Salons des Artistes Indépendants, d'Automne, and des Tuileries. As a printmaker, his preferred medium was the copper engraving, though he also produced drypoints, etchings, and wood engravings. He was president of the Société des Peintres-Graveurs Français, and a member of the Peintres-Graveurs Indépendants.

Pierre Dubreuil, On n'est pas heureux qu'avec une bonne femme 
Engraving, 1930

As well as painting and printmaking, Pierre Dubreuil painted murals and designed tapestries, and illustrated a number of books, including works by Restif de la Bretonne, Paul Valéry, Hugues Rebell, and Henri de Regnier. Alongside Matisse, he contributed original prints to the two great collaborative livres d'artiste of the 1930s and 40s, Paris 1937 and Alternance.

Pierre Dubreuil, La Double Maîtresse
Wood engraving, 1930

In 1944 Dubreuil illustrated La Nichina, a novel by the dissolute Hugues Rebell about a sixteenth-century Venetian courtisan, with numerous engravings. The book was published in a fairly large edition of 970 copies, of which 930 were on vélin de Rives, and 40 on vergé de Hollande. The 40 on Hollande laid paper also had a supplementary suite of the engravings, printed in sanguine on china paper. The engravings were printed by Paul Haasen.

Pierre Dubreuil, La Nichina (reclining)
Engraving, 1944
Examples in sanguine on chine and in black on vergé de Hollande

Pierre Dubreuil, Venice, Campanile di San Marco
Engraving, 1944

Pierre Dubreuil, Venice
Engraving, 1944

Pierre Dubreuil, Au soleil levant
Engraving, 1944

Pierre Dubreuil, Filles déguisées en page
Engraving, 1944

Pierre Dubreuil died in Paris in 1970. In 1991 J.-P. Zingg published the first monograph on his work, Pierre Dubreuil. Female bathers were one of his most consistent themes, culminating in a series of paintings between 1941 and 1957 of nude bathers discreetly shadowed beneath trees.

Hans Gött, Schlafendes Mädchen
Etching, 1924

Hans Gött (sometimes spelled Hanns Gött) was born in 1883. He is known as a painter of women, especially nudes and intimate portraits in domestic settings. This is not surprising as, after studying at the Munich Academy, Hans Gött went to Paris in 1919 to study in the atelier of Henri Matisse, whose work remained a strong influence on Gött's art.

Hans Gött, Ars Amatoria I (Romulus with a Sabine woman)
Lithograph, 1920

Hans Gött, Ars Amatoria II (Pasiphae and the bull)
Lithograph, 1920

Hans Gött, Ars Amatoria IV (Daedalus and Icarus)
Lithograph, 1920

Hans Gött, Ars Amatoria VII (Lovers)
Lithograph, 1920

Hans Gött, Remedia Amoris II (Phyllis)
Lithograph, 1920

As a printmaker, Hans Gött worked in both etching and lithography. Among his lithographs are ten made for an edition of Ovid's Ars Amatoria published in 1920; on the title page the artist is credited as Hanns Gött. These witty lithographs show the influence of Matisse's line, though in my view they are too much in thrall to line, and make poor use of lithography's tonal effects. It's as if the artist was expecting to illustrate the text in etching. Hans Gött lived and worked in Munich, and died in 1973.


Groslier said...

Formidable. Je ne connaissais ni l'un ni l'autre. Si près et pourtant si loin de Matisse. Merci

Neil said...

Thomas - The echoes of Matisse's style and preoccupations in the work of Dubreuil and Gött are contrary to the true purpose of teaching, really. In my view, the role of the teacher is to enable the pupil to find his or her own style. That is what happened with the strongest students at the Académie Matisse, notably Hjertén and Grünewald. But all the same it is interesting to see these Matisse odalisques turn up in the art of his students.