barber institute of fine arts
university of birmingham

Jacques Beltrand (1874-1977)

La Baigneuse

France, about 1910

Wood engraving

19.1 x 18.8 cm 

Beltrand helped pioneer the use of watercolour pigments in printing in France, inspired by Japanese printmaking techniques. In this way, he was instrumental in the 20th-century revival of woodcuts and the advent of colour in Western printmaking. This woodcut subtly incorporates green, yellow and brown hues. Yet black is heavily applied in the foreground and to the tree by the riverbank, a technique that emphasises – and brings forward – important elements of the image. This contributes to the composition’s strong sense of perspective. Unusually, the crucial forms of the river and the bather are largely left un-inked, indicating the artist’s skillful use of ‘negative space’ to create colour without adding more coloured inks. He was aware of Cézanne, even if the two artists did not meet, and made prints after his work. Here, the figure has some of the awkwardness of Cézanne’s bathers and is similarly integrated into the landscape.

Purchased in 2014 (No. 2014.3) 

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