Rivière : Engraver and Lithographer
Much loved in America, saluted by every specialist of wood engraving as an unequalled master, Henri Rivière (1864-1951) remains little-known to the French public. On the fringe of impressionism, an autodidact indifferent to fashion, a prodigious and indefatigable technician, constantly striving for perfection, Rivière had the additional "fault" of being discreet and modest.
He assiduously attended the Chat Noir cabaret, regularly met Degas, was the most appreciated lithographer of the printer Verneau (even before Steinlen), and gathered one of the most interesting Parisian collections of Far East objects, etc. But none of this was important in his eyes compared to his unceasing poetical meditation on nature, his love for his wife and his friendship with a few chosen friends. This justified the long hours he spent painting the Brittany landscapes in water-colours which he then translated into lithographs or on wood, the care and dexterity he put in creating these marvellous translucid and lustred colours which are his signature.
Everything in Rivière's work breathes simplicity, candour without mawkishness, the intransigence of the world of childhood, the faith (without religiosity) in nature, eternal source of inspiration. There may lie the secret of an artist who seemed indifferent to success.