Verdun from the Meuse


James Alphege Brewer (fl.1909-1938), Verdun from the Meuse, 1916. Etching with watercolor, signed and titled in pencil. GA 2008.01068

The biography of J. Alphege Brewer has yet to be written and details are sketchy. He was the son of the artist H. W. Brewer and his brother H. C. Brewer also painted. Alphege was born around 1882 in Great Britain but moved to Paris, where he lived most of his professional career. He was especially successful drawing architectural views of the great cathedrals of France.

This view of the medieval city of Verdun, in the Lorraine region of northeast France, is typical of Brewer’s work. The river Meuse in the foreground places the viewer on a low horizon, giving the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Verdun a dramatic central focus.

We are grateful to Robert Milevski, our Preservation Librarian, for bringing this work to the attention of the Graphic Arts division.


I have my own identical copy of this fine print beside me and can read more details which will also apply to the Princeton example. The small stamp (LH bottom corner) reads: 'PRINTSELLERS ASSOCIATION F 1''

Along the bottom right of the print 'Copyright May 1st 1916 by Alfred Bell & Co 6 Old Bond Street, W. Copyright in America by Samuel Schwartz Sons & Co. 290 Fifth Avenue New York USA 1916'.
The date of publication of the print was deliberate. From 21 February 1916 German forces battled with the French for control of Verdun and the surrounding villages and countryside, with great loss of life on both sides. By May 1916 battle continued to rage with losses and successes on both sides and the uncertain fate of Verdun had come to symbolize the fate of France itself. Brewer's timeless, tranquil image of the town at peace would have chimed in with all those admirers of old France concerned for France's future.

I have a print called
Evening on the Meuse with pencil signature, J Alphege Brewer, copywright Alfred Bell,Old Bond Street, London in 1919,It is a big picture about 58 cms by 50cms and quite beautiful.
It is taken from a different perspective and the cathedral appears to have 3 towers (not 2).

Any comments ?