November 6, 1916:
The Print Department of the Brooklyn Museum announces an exhibition of wood engravings by Alfred Prunaire, to be opened to the public on Sunday, November 5, and to continue through Friday, Nov. 24. The collection is one belonging to the artist's widow, Mme. Fanny A. Prunaire who is herself a wood engraver of much distinction, and some of her own works are included in the exhibition, as well as a few engravings and etchings (nine in all) by other important artists. The exhibition includes about fifty numbers.
Alfred Prunaire died in 1914 at an advanced age. His standing in France corresponds to that of Timothy Cole and Henry Wolf in this country, and, like these artists, he lived to see the general abandonment of the art of wood engraving which was incident on the rise of the recent photographic reproductive processes. However, the French Ministry of Fine Arts pursued in his case its general policy of giving commissions to men of original genius, and many of his famous wood-cuts were executed for the Government Musée de Chalcographie in the Louvre long after the art of wood engraving had lost its hold on public support. Many of these works are in the present collection.
Without making comparisons with the work of his great American contemporaries, it may be safely said that Prunaire was not their inferior. Many of his works have the strength of line and execution which is characteristic of the great wood-cuts of the 16th century. Mr. Frank Weitenkampf speaks in his book, "How to Appreciate Prints", of "that clever Frenchman, Alfred Prunaire, who can work with dash and bigness and vigor, as when he renders drawings by Daumier, sometimes with a dash of color and whose hand is capable of the utmost delicacy if the subject demands it." This capacity for various methods of execution, both bold and delicate, to which Mr. Weitenkampf has alluded, is well illustrated by the present exhibition.
Prunaire was a younger contemporary of Corot, and the other men of the Barbizon School, and was personally affiliated with them by ties of friendship and mutual sympathy.
Among the artist's proofs on exhibition is one of a series which he executed for Duret's "Histoire De J. McN. Whistler et de son Oeuvre", another is the famous "Stairway of the Palais de Justice" by Daumier, the engraving itself being in the Musée de Chalcographie. Other engravings are after Gustav Doré and Harpignies. Four proofs represent engravings which appeared in Duret's work on Manet. Others, some of which were executed in collaboration with Mme. Prunaire, are artist's proofs from blocks made for publications relating to the unfortunate and talented animal painter, Saint-Marcel, forming an album of eight designs. These wood-cuts appeared in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, and in the 5th Series "Sensations d'Art" by Georges Denoinville.
Of special importance are three engravings of monumental sculpture by the talented American, Andrew O'Connor. There are also portraits of various distinguished men, including Jules Claretie, the former Director of the Theatre Francaise of Meissonier (after a painting by the artist himself), and of Berenger.
Among the engravings by Mme. Fanny A. Prunaire are four after Delacroix, including a portrait of the artist, of astonishing strength and execution. Among the nine engravings and etchings by other artists are portraits of Theophile Gautier, of Edmond de Goncourt and of Jules de Goncourt.