Joslyn Art Museum

Omaha, NE



Painter/Etcher: The American Painter-Etcher Movement


Featuring some 35 works on paper from Joslyn Art Museum's permanent collection, Painter/Etcher: The American Painter-Etcher Movement, on view at Joslyn from June 9 to September 30, 2001 illustrates the origins and history of the late-19th-century artistic rebirth of etching.

The American painter-etcher movement, also known as the etching revival, sought to reestablish public appreciation for etching and counter the popular view - pervasive by the mid-19th century - that engraving was solely a reproductive medium. Painter-etchers rejected the hard line, tight handling, and high finish of engraving in favor of a freer, sketchier style and more personally expressive and spontaneous mood. This goal emphasizes the original training of the movement's "members": painters and watercolorists, they aspired to invest their etchings with the same aesthetic originality as their paintings.

The American painter-etchers were also eager to absorb European stylistic trends and influences. Following their Parisian contemporaries, who were painting directly from nature the scenic outdoors, painter-etchers also concentrated on landscape: the rhythms of the sea, farm settings, European villages, and America's western landscape became mainstays for the group. As the movement progressed, practitioners adopted the subject matter of Impressionists, and city streets and urban monuments and architecture received widespread attention. Because the painter-etcher movement's "membership" was fluid, these ideas and trends were easily communicated. Thomas and Mary Nimmo Moran - hugely influential in reviving etching in America - were born in Europe and made frequent return visits; James McNeill Whistler and Joseph Pennell were American expatriates established in London; and John Henry Twachtman and Otto Henry Bacher moved in the circle of Frank Duveneck and William Merritt Chase, visiting every European artistic capital during the late 19th century.

Painter/Etcher: The American Painter-Etcher Movement features singular examples by the above luminaries of the movement, as well as their European counterparts and tutors, Charles-Emile Jacque, Francis Seymour Haden, Jean-François Millet, and Johann Barthold Jongkind.

See a related article: The Morans: the Artistry of a Nineteenth-Century Family of Painter-Etchers (4/25/01).

Read more about the Joslyn Art Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 5/28/11

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