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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

Johan-Barthold Jongkind
Dutch (active France), 1819–1891

Setting Sun, Port of Antwerp (Soleil couchant: Port d’Anvers)

Etching, 1868
Museum purchase, 1912.1172

Although Dutch marine painter Johan-Barthold Jongkind made only a few prints, he was nonetheless influential in the renaissance of etching in France in the 1860s. His etchings were highly praised by discerning critics, one of whom wrote, “he takes what is necessary to render the expression and omits the rest.” Setting Sun, Port of Antwerp focuses more on the rays of the evening sunlight, the reflections playing on the water, the luminous fog, and the blurring atmospheric effects than it does on the boats, the quays, and the buildings. It is essentially a black and white equivalent to an Impressionist painting, beautifully emphasizing immaterial effects over material objects.

Even though considered by some to be “the most impressionistic of all impressionist prints,” Setting Sun, Port of Antwerp did not impress its maker. Jonkind, an independent Dutch artist who was not regarded as an Impressionist master, was disillusioned with printmaking. He considered it a secondary means of expression, hardly fit in his eyes, for “serious work.” He did little to promote his etchings and the public paid him back in kind by simply ignoring them.