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Otto Henry Bacher

Artist Biography
Acquisition Number: 2015.4
Medium: Etching on laid paper
Size: 3 1/8" x 8 1/8"
Date: 1879
Credit: Gift of Charles & Carole Rosenblatt

Otto Bacher was one of Cleveland, Ohio’s first artists to travel to Europe and attain a national and international reputation. Bacher was highly regarded for his etchings, many of them depicting scenes from his early years in Cleveland. "Schwabelweis" dates from the one-year period Bacher lived and worked in Germany, where the art of etching became his focus. Schwabelweis is a city along the Danube River in Germany, and Bacher’s etching of the location clearly shows his great skill from this period in his career. Published in "American Art Review,” "Schwabelweis" is one of the "Danube Set" of Bacher's German compositions. "American Art Review" was a journal which commissioned American artists for original etchings, such as Thomas Moran and William Merritt Chase. Due to its expensive production costs, the journal only lasted a little over two years. The _finely printed etchings it produced, however, served as a cornerstone for the many great American etchings of the early twentieth century. After his time in Germany, Bacher lived and worked in Italy. He had his etching press sent from Munich, and it was in his Venice studio that he and other artists, including James McNeill Whistler, experimented in printmaking. Among the group's contributions were some of the first American examples of monotypes, which they called "Bachertypes" because they were printed using Bacher's press. From Whistler, Bacher learned tone and line graduation; from Bacher, Whistler learned his etching techniques, including better ways of using the acid bath which was less tedious and more efficient. The two artists worked together on a number of occasions, producing etchings of Venice which shocked contemporary critics for their freedom of expression. These remarkable etchings are now considered cornerstones of modern art.