Explore the renaissance of etching from the late 1850s through the turn of the century in Europe and the United States with the new Cincinnati Art Museum exhibition The Etching Revival from Daubigny to Twachtman, on view February 13–May 8, 2016.
Featuring more than 100 monochromatic prints from dozens of artists, the exhibition also includes a wood etching press from the early 1900s, along with plates and tools used to create the etchings. Etching is one of the first original art movements in America and it played an important role in developing the public’s aesthetic appreciation of the graphic arts.
Etching involves using a substance to bite into metal surfaces with acid in order to create a design. Etching was attractive to painters because it allowed them to capture the fleeting effects of nature rapidly with freedom and spontaneity. The process coincided with artist’s desire to work directly from nature, to sketch en plein air to create landscapes and seascapes.
Ties to Cincinnati
Cincinnatians featured in the exhibition include early etching practitioners Mary Louise McLaughlin, Henry Farny, Lewis Henry Meakin and John Twachtman. Working abroad in the 1880s, Covington, Ky.-born Frank Duveneck and his students, known as the "Duveneck Boys,” pursued etching in Venice with James McNeill Whistler. Some of Duveneck’s gifts will also be featured in the exhibition.
The Cincinnati Etching Club, the second etching club in America after the New York Etching Club, was founded in 1879 and actually gifted a group of prints to the Art Museum in 1882. These etchings were among the first pieces of art acquired by the Art Museum.
The Artists and History
The American Etching Revival was inspired by the earlier French and British mid-century etching revivals by Barbizon artists, such as Charles François Daubigny, Camille Corot, and Jean-François Millet, who made preparatory drawings for etchings out of doors to capture natural landscapes and romanticized scenes of peasants at work at the time of the industrial revolution.
The etchings of Whistler and Sir Francis Seymour Haden influenced the next generation of artists. In 1862, the Society of Etchers organization in France inspired a new generation of independent etchers including Edouard Manet, Charles Meryon, and Maxine Lalanne, and Impressionists Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt. The success of this movement was fostered in both Europe and America by publishers, artistic printers and critics.
“It’s fascinating to look at these etchings and to learn the history behind them,” said Cincinnati Art Museum Curator of Prints Kristin Spangenberg. “They showcase an emerging art form and also the very beginnings of the Cincinnati Art Museum’s permanent collection.”
The Etching Revival from Daubigny to Twachtman coincides with the Taft Museum of Art’s exhibition, Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape (February 20 – May 29, 2016).
Images from the exhibition:
Le Gué, 1965
Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of Herbert Greer French
Mary Louise McLaughlin
Beeches in Burnet Woods, 1883
Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of The Cincinnati Etching Club
The Admiralty, Paris, 1865
Etching (fifth state)
Cincinnati Art Museum, Bequest of Herbert Greer French
John Henry Twachtmann
Cincinnati Landscape, 1879-80
Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of Frank Duveneck
John Henry Twachtman
United States, 1853-1902
Snow Landscape, 1879-83
Cincinnati Art Museum, The Albert P. Strietmann Collection and various funds