Posted By whatsitworth on November 3, 2010
Hi, we have an original painting from my grandfather, it appears to be a watercolor, best I can make out is:
Saint Germain, “Les Loyes” Miason de le Legion o’Honneur
Eaw – Forte Original, artist Hubert
How interesting and a nice little back to school item! Although “Eau Forte” might lead one to believe that this is a watercolor, the term basically translates to “original etching”. What you have is a colored etching of “Les Loges” Maison de la Legion d’Honneur located in the Saint Germain forest in France.
Les Loges Saint Germain was a boarding school for French girls and we have Napoleon Bonaparte to thank for it. While the education of boys and men was standard for Napoleon’s soldiers and peers, the National Convention of the previous decade had closed all of the convent schools; there was nowhere for girls – especially the daughters of members of the Legion of Honor – to be educated. By 1805 a degree had been approved and the first school for daughters of Legionnaires opened in 1807. The school was so successful that Napoleon ordered a second school to be built in 1809. From 1810 through 1813, three additional schools were added to educate daughters, granddaughters and orphans of members of the Legion. The school added in 1813 is the one illustrated in your print.
The pencil notation “Hubert” is not a signature but may be the name of the artist who did the original watercolor from which the etching was reproduced. The work looks much like that of French watercolorist Hubert Robert. He was a classical artist who was noted for, among other things, his attention to architecture. Robert, however, died in 1808 so, while the work looks like his type of work, he could not have painted a school that opened in 1813.
Alfred Hubert (1830-1902) was a Belgian watercolor painter. He could have painted a watercolor the school in the mid 19th century but almost all of his works are of military battles. No good match there either.
I then went back to your image and realized that the school did not necessarily build new in 1813. Rather, the school took over the buildings that formerly housed the convent (and school) of the Order of Saint Augustine in Saint Germain. When the etching was done of the painting, the scene was identified as what it currently was – a school for the daughters of members of the Legion – and not as it was when Hubert originally painted it.
Colored etchings of European landmarks were done in great numbers and many of them survive today. Yours has some condition issues: the paper is beginning to discolor and deteriorate a bit. You did not mention a size but most 19th century colored etchings sell in the $80-150 range.