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Eugène Delâtre
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A leader in the development of the techniques of color etching at the end of the 19th century, Eugene Delâtre was a painter, watercolorist and printmaker and one of the most important printers in Paris. In addition to creating his own color etchings, he instructed and assisted other artists in making color etchings. As a printer, he worked with some of the most important artists of his day. Born in Paris in 1864, his father was Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907), the leading etching printer in Paris and an accomplished printmaker. In addition to receiving instruction from his father, Eugène studied with the French artist John Lewis Brown (1829-1890) who worked in London, from whom he learned watercolor while the family was in London from 1871 to 1876. After their return to Paris, Eugène worked with his father in his Montmartre studio as a printmaker, learning the intaglio processes of drypoint and etching. As a teenager, Delâtre exhibited watercolors and drawings of Montmartre at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1881-1882. His earliest dated print is a Montmartre scene from 1886. He also issued a set of ten etchings of Montmartre scenes in 1891. Delâtre began experimenting with color etchings in 1890-91; his earliest color etching is probably from 1891. He was no doubt influenced by the set of ten color etchings by Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) exhibited in April 1891 at the Galerie Durand-Ruel. Delâtre collaborated with Charles Maurin (1856-1914), a painter and printmaker who lived in Montmartre near the Delâtre studio. They worked together for a decade, experimenting with different techniques. Delâtre first showed color etchings at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1893, and exhibited again in 1894 and 1895. His three-color etched portrait of Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907, Stein/Karshan 18) appeared in 1894 as part of the sixth album of André Marty’s (1857-?) famous L’Estampe originale (The Original Print), a set of 95 prints by 74 artists published in installments from 1893 through 1895. He exhibited twenty-one color etchings and four black-and-white prints in 1895 at the Galerie Laffitte, and exhibited at Siegfried Bing’s (1838-1905) gallery in 1896 and at Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1898. The usual technique for printing color etchings was to use a separate plate for each color, which required exacting care. Around 1895 Delâtre began experimenting with single-plate etchings printed with multiple colors, with each color daubed on the plate with a pad. He would use both techniques for his own art and when printing works by others. In 1899 Delâtre was one of the founders of the Sociéte de la gravure originale en couleurs (Society of Original Colored Prints), and exhibited with the Sociéte at the Galerie Georges Petit beginning in 1905. Delâtre continued to print for other artists, and took over the printing business after his father’s death in 1907. One of the most famous works he printed is Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) The Frugal Repast from 1904 (Geiser/Baer 2), printed in an edition of 30 before the plate was steel-faced. Other artists Delâtre printed for included Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and Henri Rivière (1864-1951). Later in the 20th century Delâtre focused on landscapes and genre scenes in black and white. He continued to make prints until the end of his long life, and over his career produced some six hundred prints. He died in Paris in 1938. (TNB 7/2013) Selected bibliography: Bailly-Herzberg, Janine. Dictionnaire de l’estampe en France, 1830–1950, p. 93. Paris: Arts et Métiers Graphiques, 1985. Cate, Phillip Dennis and Marianne Grivel. From Pissarro to Picasso: Color Etching in France. Exhibition catalog. New Brunswick,N.J.: Zimmerli Art Museum; Paris: Flammarion, 1992.