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Apr. 4 ArtMinute: Henri Rivière, Funeral Under the Umbrellas (L’enterrement aux parapluies)

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Museum, art, artminute, art of the week
Henri Rivière (French, 1864-1951) Funeral Under the Umbrellas (L’enterrement aux parapluies.) Color woodcut, 1891. Frederick B. and Kate L. Shoemaker Fund, 2000.48.

This print reflects the strong influence of Japanese art in late 19th-century Paris. Beginning in 1889, Henri Rivière was instrumental in introducing into French art the techniques of Japanese color woodcuts. In complex, labor-intensive procedures, he cut the woodblocks, mixed the water-based inks, applied them by hand, and printed each impression without a press. Each color necessitated a separate woodblock; this print employed six. 


Rivière’s interest in the flattened compositional space, dramatic points of view, strong light-dark contrasts, and delicate blending of colors of Japanese woodblock artist Andō Hiroshige (1797–1858) is evident in this work. The silhouetted figures are reminiscent of Rivière’s designs for the shadow theater in the famous Montmartre café Le Chat Noir (The Black Cat).