Signed in brush H. Somm [lower right corner], watercolour
248 x 193 mm. (9 x 7 5/8 in.)
2,900 [including elaborate gilded frame]
Henry Somm worked as a painter, illustrator, designer and printmaker. He trained at the Ecole Municipale de Dessin in Rouen under Gustave Morin. Somm settled in Paris in the early 1860s. Henri Bravire introduced him to printmaking. Somm sold his illustrations through periodicals such as Charge, Cravache, LInutile, Gazette parisienne, and Courier Franais. He also made numerous illustrations for menus, invitations and visiting cards. Felix Bracquemond commissioned Somm to produce a series of designs for plates whilst he was artistic director of the Haviland porcelain factory. Somm also illustrated Gaston Bergerets Journal dun negre a lExposition de 1890, and he drew numerous vignettes for Achille Melandris works of light literature. He was influenced by Japanese culture and especially woodcuts, and his work reflects this in the lively use of colour of the impressionistic use of the watercolour, seen especially in the background of the present watercolour. Somms friends were also deeply influenced by Japanese culture and many were collectors. Somm was invited by Degas to take part in the Fourth Impressionist exhibition of 1879 alongside Bracquemond, Cassatt and Pissarro. This proved to be a turning point in his career, since in the 1880s he worked extensively as a graphic artist in the above mentioned publications and magazines. According to Menon: Somms graphic production must be viewed with three complex notions in mind-Impressionism, Symbolism and the cultural phenomenon common to both, Japonisme. The present drawing is a typical example of his work.
1.Elizabeth K. Mason, Henry Somm: Impressionist, Japoniste or Symbolist?, Master Drawings, vol. XXXIII, 1995, p.8.