Musée d'Orsay: Bernhard Hoetger Scene with several characters

Bernhard Hoetger
Scene with several characters

Scene with several characters
Bernhard Hoetger (1874-1949)
Scene with several characters
Graphite, sanguine and watercolour
H. 55; W. 47cm
© ADAGP, Paris © RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Scène avec plusieurs personnages [Scene with several characters]

Trained in Düsseldorf, the sculptor Bernard Hoetger went to Paris in 1900 and was particularly influenced by the work of Rodin. Finally, he decided to move to the French capital, where he lived until 1907.
It was in 1903 that one of Hoetger's drawings was mentioned for the first time, no doubt in the context of food, since he published fifteen satirical drawings in a special issue of L'Assiette au beurre. But more importantly, in 1905, the publisher Eugène Blot organised an exhibition of Hoetger's bronzes and drawings, along with the sculptures of Camille Claudel. Hoetger also presented six watercolours at the Salon des Indépendants that same year.

This drawing is representative of all his earliest works between 1903-1905, and is one of the most ambitious. It is quite close to the drawings in Bremen (Kunstsammlungen Böttcherstrasse), although they are often limited to one or two figures. All adopt the same broad, calm rhythm, the flat colours of the pale figures dissolving into an indeterminate background, sometimes the bare paper, sometimes, as here, a coloured field. The use of watercolour on wet paper was a technique Hoetger used to blur the perception of space, in a style still influenced by Impressionism and above all by Rodin's drawings. The graphic works of the master were in fact the opportunity to experiment with a more formal, extremely simplified style, and show, perhaps even more than his sculptures, the monumentality that captivated the new generation.
A little later, in 1907, both Hoetger's drawings and sculptures began to move away from Rodin's influence, with heavily outlined figures and a new concern for synthesis, no doubt influenced by Maillol's La Méditerranée and the Gauguin exhibition held in 1906 at the Salon d'Automne.