Inky & Stormy: View of Staint-Jacut (Brittany) coastline by Norbert Goeneutte

This is an unusually inky impression of Norbert Goenneutte’s etching titled Le Moulin de Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer (The Mill of Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer).  There is no clear date for this work, though the catalogue entry for it in Christophe Duvivier’s raisonné suggest a time after 1890.  It most likely dates from that time.  Goeneutte didn’t etch much after 1892, and his most interesting and innovative printmaking, such as this one, dates from the 1870’s to the late 1880s.  Goenneutte was a close friend of Henri Guérard, another master etcher active during the impressionist era in France.  The two artists seem to have worked side by side or been influenced by each other’s work often.

Henri GUERARD: Prés Caudebec
Etching printed with selectively wiped plate tone on laid paper, 1873.

Reference: not in Bertin.  Extremely scarce, possibly unique.|
Plate: 4 ¼ x 7 ⅛ inches.

Norbert GOENEUTTE (1854-1894): Le Moulin de Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer
A monotyped etching and drypoint with selective wiping on tan wove paper, after 1890.
Reference: Duvivier 160.  The third and final state.  Edition unknown.
Signed with the black monogram stamp (Lugt 1182).
Plate: 7 ¾ x 12 ⅝ inches.

Our print is a moody impression printed nearly as a monotype.  While other impressions of this print were printed with the plate wiped clean, showing just the line work, this one is very different.  Goeneutte inked the plate heavily and then wiped it selectively to render the effect of an oncoming storm.  A bit of sunlight still peaks through the clouds out at sea, creating a reflection the ocean’s horizon line in the right edge of the composition.  This lends the subject depth of field.  The remainder of the composition is engulfed in heavy shadows, and brewing storminess, with ink creating darkness all around the landscape.  The horse in the foreground seems completely unperturbed by the oncoming storm.  Brittany’s coast is knows for just such weather, which comes and goes in minutes.  The animal has clearly been through it before and continues to search for tasty sprouts of grass.  The windmill in the background is prepared, however.  Its sails have been taken in, and it is ready to weather strong winds, stoically waiting for the return of Brittany’s steady breeze to get back to work.

Impression of the same plate from the regular edition.

With the increasing popularity of etching in the 19th century, then like now, collectors were looking for the unusual.  Editioned prints were very collectible at the time.  But given the opportunity to buy something another collector couldn’t have was obviously desirable for any serious collector.  Artists who liked to print their own editions, as was Goeneutte’s case, obliged.  They would ink selectively, etch in evolving states, using different ink, papers, or even add a touch of color.  Our simple composition was given atmospheric richness in this impression.  It is difficult to envision how the artist thought of changing it so dramatically.  A bit of excess ink in the right place as he was readying to pull another plain impression may have inspired him to go from sunny to stormy, and been the catalyst to this unique impression.  This is a collector’s item.


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