The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Joseph Auguste Bracquemond, 1813-1914

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1813
Place of Birth: Paris
Date of Death: 1914
Place of Death: Paris


Félix(-Auguste-Joseph) Bracquemond was a printmaker, designer, painter and writer.


Bracquemond was brought up by Dr Horace de Montègre who was a friend of the positivist philosopher Auguste Comte. Comte was an early influence on his aesthetic ideas. Bracquemond also came under the influence of the painter Joseph Guichard, a pupil of Ingres and Delacroix. From 1852 he began exhibiting portraits in the style of Ingres at the Salon, but he gave up painting after 1869 in order to follow a career in printmaking.

Bracquemond learnt the process of etching in 1849. Along with Charles Meryon he was responsible for the etching revival in France in the 1850s, and in 1862 he founded the Société des Aquafortistes. Working for a short period in the studio of Joseph-Théodore Deck, he learnt the technique of enamel painting, and became involved with the design of tableware. He also designed furniture, jewellery, bookbindings and tapestry. He published a number of theoretical works from 1878 onwards, including Du dessin et de la couleur (1885). He was a founder member of the Société des Artistes Français and belonged to the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. In 1890 he founded the Société des Peintres-Graveurs Français. In 1900 his prints won first prize at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

In 1855 Bracquemond's work at the International Exhibition was admired by Théophile Gautier and Edmond About, and he became part of the Parisian artistic and literary avant-garde. Bracquemond encouraged Manet to etch and exhibited with him at the Salon des Refusés in 1863. He also exhibited at the Impressionist exhibitions of 1874, 1879 and 1880.

Bracquemond, like JW, was amongst the first collectors of Japanese artifacts, competing for items at La Porte Chinoise, 36 rue Vivienne, and at the establishment of E. Desoye on the rue de Rivoli in Paris. It was he who apparently first came across a copy of Hokusai's Manga in Auguste Delâtre's printshop. His own prints were heavily influenced by the asymmetrical arrangement and naturalistic motifs of Japanese prints and ceramics. He appears beside JW in Fantin-Latour's Homage to Delacroix (1864).


Monneret, S., L'Impressionisme et son époque, Paris, 1978-79; Bouillon, Jean-Paul, Félix Braquemond: le réalism absolu: oeuvre gravé 1849-1859, Genève, ca 1987; Bouillon, Jean-Paul, 'Félix(-Auguste-Joseph) Bracquemond', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 22 February 2002); Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Lochnan, Katharine A., The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1984.