Amiens Cathedral

Marius Bauercirca 1890-91

Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

The recent revival of interest in Orientalism has led to the rediscovery of the technically outstanding but unfairly sidelined Dutch painter and printmaker Marius Bauer (1867-1932). Bauer was an inveterate traveller, going off to India, Indonesia, Turkey, Palestine and Morocco among other destinations. In 1888 he was given the opportunity to make his first trip east, to Istanbul (then Constantinople) by the art dealer E.J. van Wisselingh. He returned with more than 100 drawings and several full sketchbooks. This pattern repeated itself again and again.

Among the cities he visited were Cairo, Luxor, Jerusalem, Agra and Benares. He was irresistibly drawn to street life, the colourful populace and the exotic landscape of parts of the world that were then unfamiliar to most people. There Bauer found inspiration for spacious landscapes and picturesque city scenes. Many of his works were based on photographs he bought during his travels, some of which were by famous photographers such as Felix Bonfils.

Bauer often went to the north of France, or passed through it on his way to Constantinople or Africa. This etching of the west front of Amiens Cathedral is said to have been made in 1890. However, the first note of a journey to that part of the world that we can trace is a press-cutting in the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie of 6 December 1891, which mentions that his journey had just taken place and that drawings were made there.

This early etching has far greater realist exactitude than Bauer's brilliantly schematic prints of the turn of the century (e.g. <em>Fantasy</em> and <em>The Kremlin</em>, which are both in Te Papa's collection). Yet at the same time he creates a highly atmospheric, mysterious effect, not totally removed from Claude Monet's near-contemporary paintings of Rouen Cathedral, also in northern France. Bauer deliberately did not quite wipe the surface of the etching plate entirely clean, leaving a little ink on it instead. This produces a greyish haze over the impression and is called 'surface tone'. In the tight, one could almost say precious, world of the etching revival, opinions sharply differed about whether its use was proper and appropriate.





Dr Mark Stocker  Curator, Historical International Art   February 2018


  • Title: Amiens Cathedral
  • Creator: Marius Bauer
  • Date Created: circa 1890-91
  • Physical Dimensions: Image: 370mm (width), 438mm (height)
  • Provenance: Gift of Sir John Ilott, 1958
  • Subject Keywords: Churches | Arches | Architectural sculpture | Architecture | Columns | people | Amiens (France)
  • Rights: No Known Copyright Restrictions
  • External Link: Te Papa Collections Online
  • Medium: etching
  • Support: paper
  • Depicted Location: Amiens (France)
  • Registration ID: 1958-0003-7

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