top of page

Rooster Portrait
Prosper Alphonse Isaac (France, 1858-1924)
Woodblock Print circa 1910
9 x 7 1/8 (15 1/4 x 17 frame) inches


The excellent book "The Great Wave: The Influence of Japanese Woodcuts on French Prints" which was an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1974, recounts the phenomenal "cult of Japan" in late nineteenth-century France and reveals through direct comparisons its particular impact on the graphic work of Manet, Degas, Cassatt, Bonnard, Vuillard, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Gauguin. This print directly relates to the discovery of Japanese art most notably through the woodblock prints which found their way to the West oftentimes as stuffing or packing materials from consumer goods that were being imported to the West at the end of the 19th century. 


Prosper-Alphonse Isaac was born in a well-to-do family.  This gave him the means not only of leaving his native Calais to pursue a career as an artist in Paris, but also the means to acquire art.  Isaac was particularly drawn to Japanese arts, which he collected avidly.  Many of the objects he bought were eventually given to museums.  As a printmaker Isaac started drawing seascapes in dry point, but eventually moved on to become one of only a handful of artists versed in color woodcut techniques in France.  His compositions, generally small in scale, are heavily influenced by the arts of Japan.  He printed small editions of these works.  Aside from this artistic activity, Isaac was also an active textile decorator.  


"This mark, which he borrows from Hokusaï and Totoya Hokkeï (1780-1850), accentuates the link with Japanese art and seems to mean "engraved and printed according to Japanese processes". the two Japanese artists made" "The animals, presented on large prints, are an opportunity for Isaac to put into practice the lessons of Hokusai's Manga, and especially Masayoshi's Method of Drawing Animals and Birds (1764-1824), Japanese artist, master of Hokusaï, particularly appreciated by Isaac. He presented them in close-up and thus produced "portraits of birds", in particular the rooster, a great source of inspiration."

Sadly, Isaac's prints weren't widely distributed and are very rare nowadays.

An example of this print can be in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco

Rooster Portrait-Woodblock Print circa 1910 by Prosper Alphonse Isaac

    bottom of page