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PARIS 1849 – DOMME 1918

The young Auguste Lepère received his first art training at home from his father, the well-known French sculptor François Lepère. His formal study began under the guidance of the English engraver Burn Smeeton who was active in Paris between 1840 and 1860 as a reproductive engraver. Lepère was something of a prodigy; he is known to have begun his first professional work at 13 when he was apprenticed at the drawing office of the Magazine Pittoresque and L’Illustration. (This early experience possibly influenced his predilection for wood engraving, since it was the popular medium for such mass-produced illustrations.) By the end of his career he had become a technical virtuoso of the art of wood engraving supplying designs and cuts for French, English and American magazines: Le Monde Illustrée, La Revue Illustrée, Black and White, Harper’s and Scribner’s.
Lepère’s artistry in wood engraving has hardly been surpassed. He was an excellent painter, as well as draftsman, and his love of the flexible, fluid brush stroke can be seen in his wood engravings. Like Félix Buhot he was very much the peintre-graveur imbuing his prints with a distinctly painterly quality. Thus we find those beautiful, intermingling tones created with strokes of the burin so fine that they read as brush wash.
His etchings and lithographs should not be overlooked, for Lepère was also a master of these techniques, producing fine prints which were highly admired and which were awarded prizes at the Salon exhibitions.

From: Forgotten Printmakers of the 19th Century, Kovler Gallery, Chicago, 1967.