ARTISTS / Rassenfosse, Armand
Rassenfosse was an engraver and painter. He showed a taste for drawing and engraving as a child and later, with the encouragement of his father, who had an art business, he studied occasionally with the Liege painter and engraver Adrien De Witte (1850-1935), a family friend. At this time he became interested in contemporary literature and in the literary review La Jeune Belgique. He also collected the engravings of Felicien Rops whom he met in Paris in 1886, an event which was to prove a decisive influence on his career.
Around 1890 Rassenfosse left his father's business to devote himself to printmaking and joined the staff of the printing house of Benard in Liege. From 1893 he also produced prints for the Societe des Aquafortistes Belges, while winning many commissions from Parisian publishers. In 1896 Rassenfosse was nominated by Rops as illustrator to the Societe des Cent Bibliophiles, which asked him to engrave illustrations for Charles Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du mal; for this he used a new technique that he dubbed ‘colour engraving on marked-out copper’. The illustrated edition was published in 1899 and its success brought further commissions..
The influence of his friend, Felicien Rops, which was particularly discernible in such engravings as the Amorous Undressing (1890; r 867) and the Devil’s Instrument (1893; r 926), gradually diminished. While figures of women had always been central to the work of Rassenfosse, those that now appeared were associated principally with traditional rural values as his attachment to the soil took on increasing importance: this is the case with Woman Knitting (1900; r 172) and Sitting Haulage-Woman (1906; r 153) in which anecdotal detail finally disappeared from his work."
Armand Rassenfosse et G. Serrurier-Bovy (exh. cat., ed. L. Lebeer; Stavelot, Mus. Anc. Abbaye, 1975), E. Rouir: Armand Rassenfosse: Catalogue raisonne de l’oeuvre grave (Brussels, 1984), N. Rassenfosse-Gilissen: Rassenfosse (Liege, 1989)
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