Art Of The Day
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” – Williams Wordsworth, The Daffodils
To celebrate the season of spring and the return of flowers, let’s look at an etching entitled “Spring” by the Belgian artist Félicien Rops.
Born July 7th, 1833 in Namur, Belgium, Rops, was known primarily for his prints. Rops attended the University of Brussels before producing illustrations for various journals. Rops went to Paris to work in the studio of the sculptor Henri-Alfred Jacquemart. Eventually, the artist returned to Brussels and founded the International Society of Etchers.
Much of Rops’ work is erotic (sometimes even pornographic)and depicts social decadence or imaginary underworlds. This composition is comparatively subdued. Here we see a woman rather innocuously reading a book while lounging in a meadow. However, Rops included a small nude sketch in the lower right hand corner. Rops used delicate lines to make up the individual leaves of the trees and the petals of flowers, which conveys that the plants are moving in the spring breeze. His skillful handling of dry point etching directly onto the plate has marked him as one of the masters of etching. Also, Rops was one of the first few modern etchers to revive the art of soft-ground etching, which is where the etching ground is melted into and mixed with tallow in order to produce the effects of lines drawn with a piece of chalk or soft pencil.
After 1872, Rops dedicated himself to principally illustrating books. Notable book illustrations of his include those for “Flemish Legends” by C. de Coster and “Young France” by Théophile Gautier. Eventually, Rops joined the revolutionary art society of Les Vingt, which was created in Brussels in 1884.
Can you make out the daffodils in the meadow?
The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Félicien Rops, Belgian Artist.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Last modified November 2012. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Felicien-Rops.
Wordsworth, William. “The Daffodils.” Poets.org. Accessed January 31, 2017. https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/daffodils.
(Belgian, 1833 – 1898)
Etching with pen and ink drawing on japon paper, 13 ¾ x 21 ¾ in. (34.93 x 55.25 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Peter O. Stamats, 1972.168