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7 avril 2007 6 07 /04 /avril /2007 21:49

 

 
The print connoisseur July 1923 Edited and published by Winfred Porter Truesdell Champlain New York

 

The etchings of Maurice Achener by Louis Seyden

 

In all epochs artists have seen to suddenly find themselves after having long and laboriously searched for their way. Such was not the case with Maurice Achener, however.
He had etched some twenty years and if he worked much, with the feelings always, sometimes a little uncertainly, from the very first his work has shown the impress of sincerity. One can go through it from the first to the last plate without finding the least suspicion of the deliberate use of any artifice. The desire to strike the imagination is totally foreign to him, and no etcher is less literary in the sense that is given to this qualification today. Let us understand by this that in a landscape whether in his native Alsace, in Italy, or in the Isle of France, disregarding theory and recollections, he has only he has only the desire to be an analyst of as great penetration as possible. Blank perhaps to the uncultivated or superficial observer, because often less pictures than their reflection his works enchants the delicate by shades of intense expression, by its refined sensitiveness which is left to ones divination.

One may well understand that’s Achener’s success under such conditions have been slow and progressive. He had from the first followers on whom the quality of his esprit and of is work was not lost. A circle of faithful collectors, growing larger every year, followed and encouraged him, classing him among contemporary etchers of solid reputation, and the future will certainly rank him among the masters.


Born in 1881 at Mulhouse, Achener studied at first in his own country, then at Munich. He destined himself to paintings, which he never gave up completely; his sending to the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts while not frequent have not passed unnoticed "sic". But soon, perhaps under the influence of one of his professors at Munich, P.Halm, himself etcher of repute, he began to feel the attraction of the point and the etching. But he did not give himself up to it definitely until after he had tried the wood block.
















About 1909,
sollicited by an amateur, M Spetz to illustrate a collection of legendary poems, he acquired by himself the technique of the wood block, and even his first effort were successful. We may add in passing that he returned to the wood engraving in 1919, illustrating La princesse Maleine, of  Maurice Maeterlinck, and in1922 making the very important illustrations for La faute de l’abbé Mouret by Emile Zola.


But it is with the etching; that we are concerned here. His  first  plate date from 1902. The subject he chose from the country round around him, at Strasbourg and vicinity, attacking the most diverse themes, landscape, architecture, interiors. He even etched figure subjects a Dutch woman, a fisherman, some portraits. His character being (idealism and talent apart) laborious and conscientious, these first effort although scattered are yet not without value. The struggle of the artist with the technique of the medium which must to be learned is not too evident, and if the techniques hesitate at times, the vision is already personal. Before commencing to etch he had made   many designs and painting which one readily perceives even in his first efforts. When he started to works with the needle he had therefore long been in the possession of the requisite knowledge acquired as a painter, of what subject to choose and how to translate it. It is without doubt to this that these first are a quality often lacking in the early work, the result of experience, thought and happy simplifications…..


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6 avril 2007 5 06 /04 /avril /2007 22:31

 

The print connoisseur July 1923 Edited and published by Winfred Porter Truesdell Champlain New York

 

The etchings of Maurice Achener by Louis Seyden

In 1908 Achener came to Paris, and here, as in his own country, is still drawn to that which attracted him from the first the irregular outlines of the old buildings, the savoury color of the stones slowly weathered by the sun and rain of centuries, in other words the picturesque. To loosen this tendency, to give the proper aspect to his work, the severity and the hardness of the North needed the infusion of Latin cheerfulness. The warmth and serenity of the South were wanted .Italy was necessary. He arrived there the first time in 1910 and a once there a revelation. At the contact with these aspects, new to him, of nature and civilization, his perceptions asserted and multiplied themselves; his spirit became free from its timidity from the first influence received. He burned with an enthusiasm, new and free, with a young and virile ardour for the eternal beauties which appeared to him. From that tile on he tried, he dared he succeeded. His composition fell into order, showed development, acquired ease and brilliancy.

Scarcely had he had the time to catch a glimpse of what Italy had in store for him than Venice with its imperial charmed attracted him. It is however as a “flaneur” that he repaired there, stopping at Brescia, Verona and ”, from whence he dates some interesting notes in sketches of their monuments-bathed in that indescribable atmosphere full of tenderness, showing the power to grasp, and what is better, to express.

Finally he is at Venice. He etched here as early as that first year, eleven plates, notably le Pont des Saints Apôtres, la Fondamentea Nuove,  de Saint-Jean Evangeliste and the façade of Vieux Palais reproduced here, in which the ruin retain a smiling nobility behind the wreathed palli. From that time his talent is marked by Italy. He returned the year following to revisits Brescia, Vincenza, Verona. Later he remained a long time at Florence and visited Sicily, bringing back from Palermo and Girgenti many significant plates. Each halting place seems to hold in reserve for him a voluptuous intoxication of production. His thought became fused with the happy harmony which created all about him that powerful light without violence, that architecture of such ordered elegance, that wonderfully decorative vegetation. He created in joy! What more dazzling remembrance than that remembrance that of a morning spent before the ramparts of Sclaligieri at Verona!

 

Certainly this talent is subjective, but how well it expresses, how it excels in fixing forever the emotion of an hour. No better example of this could be given than that one of his plates, the view An werp (?), impregnated with the melancholy austerity of the North. This date, like the preceding one of 1911 shows that the impress left by Italy on the mind of Achener did not turn him, asides from working under other skies. The South had not held him entirely : often he returned to Alsace, and he also worked a good deal in, Paris, and Switzerland both before and after the war.

But to return to the Italians plates (of which there are no less than forty-six) beside the Venitian Series one should note the importance and the interest of the Florentine Series which include several plates of the first order, such as the panorama of La Certosa, views in which the penetrating lights is cleverly graduated, the luminous Descente de Fiesole, or the noble and sober Or San Michele.



 





































Continued .....
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5 avril 2007 4 05 /04 /avril /2007 21:44

The print connoisseur July 1923 Edited and published by Winfred Porter Truesdell Champlain New York

 

The etchings of Maurice Achener by Louis Seyden


The olds buildings, the walls pitted by the weather and burned by the sun, the shadowed alleys, seemed to hold a particular appeal for Achener. He loved the harmony here, the discordance there; good portraitist of the towns, he penetrated their innermost secrets with a tender veneration. But nature also held for him its charms, and in particular the trees. Besides playing an expressive role in many of his plates, there are a certain number in which they furnish him with the sole motive. From his first essays in etching Achener saw the tree decoratively (see la Matinée de Printemps, Les Dunes près de Knocke). In Italy the mixture of the silvery trees with the sombre green of the Cypress rejoined the colourist in him, their silhouettes brought also to his compositions an clement of attraction which he used with originality. From this point of view le vivo Alto of Sienne is considered by many collectors to be one of his most personal plates.

 

 

 

In Switzerland the old and picturesque Fribourg, surrounded by precipitous gorges and dominated by the massive tower of its collegiate church, has furnished Achener the subject of six important plates : in default of a really  characteristics atmosphere the artist has called to his aid others factors  of emotion, violently contrasting lights and shades, profundity of perspective. However, in spite of the great picturesque interest and technique of these plates (of which the best seems to be la Vieille Ville) we prefer to the large view of Sion et la vallée du Rhône, and anove all the small and more recent views of Geneva and its environs, those of Collogny, or la Villa de Lord Byron, more varied in means and expressive of the utmost subtlety.  


 




In the interval of these journeys, and with the exception of the war time (for him, as for so many others, a frightful  period of four years) Achener has nearly every year etched some aspect of Paris, into the spirit of which he has a fine insight. If he is not swallowed up into the contemplation of the old capital with the fervour of the Florentines hours, for example, at least he loves with a clairvoyant feeling, taking pleasure in analyzing, and expressing with justness. Few plates of Paris, even the most celebrated, have for me the same appel as the Pont de la Tournelle of 1919, or that of 1920 the moving grace of the Pont Neuf of 1912, the elevated style of la Place de la Concorde of 1919. Some of the older views, such as the Pantheon of 1909 attract us however almost as much, as in spite of the picturesque interest perhaps a little too much in evidence, we find in them an irresistible eloquence expressed in loving fashion meditative and comprehensive.
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3 avril 2007 2 03 /04 /avril /2007 23:17

The print connoisseur July 1923 Edited and published by Winfred Porter Truesdell Champlain New York

 

The etchings of Maurice Achener by Louis Seyden

As to the technique of the work, we are able to omit going into details as an original plate and numerous reproductions accompany the present text. Achener draws directly on the copper from nature, the rustic  perpectives or villagers which he has prepared to interpret. Often he makes first a small sketch to determine the principal lines of a subject. At other times when the extend and variety scheme require, the sketch is more detailed; the values are studied more thoroughly. This rigorous study of perspective is one of the masterly qualities of etcher. He attains by this to that precision of atmosphere, to that feeling of space which characterizes all his work: it is so true that all poetry is born of a patient labour. If he confines himself to the essential in is work of preparation, Achener never leaves a plate until he given and minute consideration to the mise au point. And the pulling of the proofs, he confides to the care of no other, which is responsible for a notable part in the final result. He has for his profession the same veneration as for his art.

 

 

It is b the views of the Geneva country already mentioned and by a fine series consecrated to Etampes, a pretty little villa in the suburbs of Paris that we may judge of the present expression of the art of Achener. As his evolution progresses we see him turn more to simplicity,. He shows more tone, he is sincere but more wilful, also sensitive but less subjective. The picturesque element is subordinated, the effect aimed as is discrete and at the same time imperious.  The artist does not content himself to suggest emotion, he become more ardent; yesterday he analyzed; now he suggests, he wishes to conquer. It is possible that these new tendencies remain unobserved among certain categories of collectors, who may regret the plates of effect, the decorative pictures of former times; at any rate they will enjoy the selection of the elite, and that is the essential, since Achener’s aim has always been to produce work which would appeal to the elite
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