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Dottists, spottists, and bitumenists

Post #1407 • October 19, 2009, 8:28 AM • 28 Comments

Hilary Spurling, The Unknown Matisse:

Matisse also spent a night at Pont-Aven, which had served for the past decade and more as an unofficial open-air annex to the Académie Julian, swarming all summer with would-be academicians. "Wherever you may wander within a radius of fifteen miles," wrote Menpes's daughter Dorothy, "you cannot stop at some attractive prospect without hearing an impatient cough behind you, and, turning, finding yourself obstructing the view of a person in corduroys and flannel shirt, with a large felt hat, working, pipe aglow, at an enormous canvas." The pools, rocks and waterfalls of the gentle wooded slopes round Pont-Aven were endlessly reproduced in every Parisian style up to and including Impressionism, Symbolism and pointillisme. "There were the Dottists," wrote Dorothy Menpes, "who painted in a series of dots. There were also the Spottists - a sect of the Dottists whose differentiation was too subtle to be understood. Then there was the Bitumen school, a group of artist who never painted anything but white sunlit houses with bitumen shadows."

Comment

1.

Jack

October 19, 2009, 9:52 AM

Is this Dorothy Menpes related to Mortimer Menpes, the printmaker?

2.

Tim

October 19, 2009, 10:00 AM

Was Dorothy Mortimer's wife? Anyway, to see some of the finest drypoint etchings to come out of 19th Century Britain, have a look at the work of Mortimer Menpes, a buddy of J A M Whistler until Whistler ran him off, as he did everyone else.

3.

Arthur

October 19, 2009, 10:02 AM

Spurling's name is misspelled.

4.

Jack

October 19, 2009, 10:13 AM

Actually, Tim, I think Menpes was Australian, at least by birth.

5.

ahab

October 19, 2009, 10:15 AM

"Dottists, spottists, and bitupeople."

6.

Tim

October 19, 2009, 10:22 AM

Right Jack, Menpes was Australian by birth, but his family moved back to England from whence they came while Mortimer was a boy. I think he met Whistler in France, where they both spent a lot of time.

7.

Chris Rywalt

October 19, 2009, 2:00 PM

Ahab, you made me smile.

8.

piri

October 20, 2009, 9:19 AM

I can't remember if I've read this before, because I've read only the first volume of Spurling's life of Matisse, and not alas the second. But my recollection is that I loved this first volume, not least because it dealt with the first forty years or so of Matisse's life, before he'd arrived at a mature style and was still a struggling unknown. Pont Aven, I suspect, would have been part of the learning process.

9.

Franklin

October 21, 2009, 7:27 AM

Thanks, Arthur. It's fixed.

10.

Arthur

October 21, 2009, 10:15 AM

Spruling would require an umlaut over the u.

11.

dude

October 21, 2009, 10:38 AM

These books look good. The descriptions on the bookmonger's site are confusing though. 'Unknown Matisse' Vols I and II were followed by a third book, 'Matisse the Master', n'est-ce pas?

12.

dude

October 21, 2009, 10:45 AM

ok no sorry. wiki lists two books. they're just editioned differently, retitling the second volume 'Matisse the Master'. i think. silly.

13.

dude

October 21, 2009, 10:50 AM

the paperback 2006 edition of vol II has a jazzy yellow cover without the full title that was throwing me off. oops.

14.

Chris Rywalt

October 21, 2009, 1:44 PM

A Google Image search on Mortimer Menpes turns up a number of really lovely prints, at least one of which is so affordably priced I have to wonder if it's a forgery. There's also a print of a sabotier at Pont-Aven.

But to me the real find in my wandering today turned up when I checked Wikipedia on drypoint and discovered an image of a beautiful drypoint and aquatint print by Mary Cassat called "The Bath". It reminds me of Japanese woodblock printing.

15.

Chris Rywalt

October 21, 2009, 1:51 PM

Whoops, dropped a T in Cassatt. Sorry, Mary!

16.

Tim

October 21, 2009, 1:52 PM

Chris, Cassat made many prints in the style of "The Bath." She was close to Degas then, who introduced her to the Japanese work that influenced her greatly. There are a number of books surveying her prints.

17.

Tim

October 21, 2009, 1:53 PM

Chris, Cassatt made many prints in the style of "The Bath." She was close to Degas then, who introduced her to the Japanese work that influenced her greatly. There are a number of books surveying her prints.

18.

Chris Rywalt

October 21, 2009, 2:24 PM

I think I'd have a better shot at doing drypoint than woodblock carving. The aquatint part seems kind of fussy, though.

19.

Tim

October 21, 2009, 2:46 PM

Right, Chris, aquatint is a comparatively involved process requiring a lot of patience and a lot of experimenting and some space for all the stuff used in the process. I've had very good experience with it though, and it has played right into the etching that I occasionally incorporate in things I make with glass. It can be a process for the use of very painterly technique.

20.

Tim

October 21, 2009, 2:52 PM

Isabel Bishop made a lot of prints, drypoints, aquatints. She worked in NYC all her life, I think. Quite acomplished.

21.

Jack

October 21, 2009, 4:24 PM

Chris, it's not as if you have to use aquatint. You could just use drypoint. As for print prices, as I've said here before, they can be surprisingly modest. eBay is actually a pretty good place for prints, or can be. You might care to look into it.

22.

Chris Rywalt

October 21, 2009, 6:25 PM

Me no collector, me creator. Collected, not collecting.

23.

Tim

October 21, 2009, 7:17 PM

Here's an aquatint I made in 1975. It's a 'portrait of a building that housed the collection of a New Orleans print dealer. Chris, if you zoom in, you can see how 'fussy' aquatint can get. I recall it taking forever to make the plate.

24.

Chris Rywalt

October 21, 2009, 8:32 PM

Very nice, Tim. And, yes, it looks like a lot of work.

25.

David

October 21, 2009, 8:48 PM

Dottists, Spottists and Bituminists sound like victims of 19th c. respiratory diseases.

26.

opie

October 22, 2009, 6:23 AM

Or extremely esoteric dermatological specialties

27.

Jack

October 22, 2009, 7:34 AM

Very nice print, Tim.

28.

Tim

October 22, 2009, 9:30 AM

Thanks.

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