A lifelong Parisian, Eugène Béjot started his artistic studies at the Académie Julian with Jules Lefebvre and Benjamin Constant. He began etching in 1891, under the tutelage of Henri-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936), but perfected his art with the help of Félix Buhot, Félix Bracquemond, and mostly Henri Guérard. By 1893 Béjot had clearly already spent a significant amount of time at Guérard’s print shop, picking up on his elder’s printmaking tricks. In an etching drawn in Cannes, Béjot sent a note to Guérard. In it he gently pleaded to be admitted to the exhibit of the Peintres-Graveurs, of which Guérard was a co-founder. By asking Guérard when he should return to Paris to have 20 or so plates engraved in Cannes, printed in time for the exhibition, he introduced the notion of his work being shown there. It is very likely that Guérard was then printing Béjot’s editions and that a friendly relationship had taken root. His request was granted, as it is known that Béjot become a Sociétaire of the Peintres-Graveurs in 1893; and he did exhibit at the annual exhibit that very year for a first time.
Béjot quickly began working directly from nature when composing prints. Through Félix Buhot, he met Seymour Haden who helped him win admission to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers. Béjot’s technique is precise, often forgoing the use of plate tone for any kind of effect. His lines are lightly drawn, and their simplified appearance is very elegant. A popular artist in England and France, Béjot was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur on December 3rd 1912.
Focused mainly on landscapes and cityscapes, his work is bright, crisp. Views of Paris and other cities depict modern life from a variety of vantage points, sometimes seen from up on some balcony, at other times from the perspective of the casual stroller. In his landscapes, Béjot likes to leave quite a bit of space around his lines, letting the viewers fill in blanks with their own imagination. He etched nearly 450 plates in his life, both for publication in books and other print format, and for himself, in small editions of circa 50. Impressions of these latter works, signed and numbered are very attractive. They are printed with great care, generally on beautiful laid paper.
Eugène Béjot was also an avid draftsman, delineating his compositions in pencil or charcoal, then giving it tone with bright watercolor or gouache. Such drawings have mostly ended up in French museum collections and have become very scarce on the market, yet remain affordable.
(August 31st 1867 - Paris - February 28th 1931)
A.k.a. Eugène Joseph Béjot