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Collector Series

.!. .1.

announce the publication of this series
of books, each volume of which will
discuss some one of the subjects which are of
interest to Collectors.

Coins and Medals, Engravings, Pictures and
Drawings, Postage Stamps, Book Plates, Auto-
graphs, Armour and Weapons, Plate, Porcelain
and Pottery, Old Violins, Japanese Curios, and
Bric-a-brac of all sorts, will be dealt with, each
in a separate volume, and by a writer specially
conversant with his subject. The instinct for
collecting has been made the butt for much
cheap ridicule by those who confound it with
the mere aimless bringing together of objects
which have no other merit than their rarity.
But it has repeatedly been proved that skill and

patience are more helpful to success in col-
lecting than length of purse, and it is especially
for those who desire to pursue their amusement
with intelligent economy that this series has been

The great prizes in the older forms of col-
lecting have long since been won, and though
it may be needful in these handbooks to refer
occasionally to a book, a coin, a postage stamp, or
a particular " state " of an etching or engraving,
of which only a single example exists, the object
of the series will mainly be to describe those
specimens which are still attainable by the
amateurs who will take the pains to hunt them

For this reason, though the series will be
written by experts, it will be written by experts
who have in view, not the visitors to the great
Museums of Europe, but the amateur and col-
lector of moderate means, who is anxious to
specialise in some one or two departments of
his favourite studies, and to whom it is still
open by care and judgment to bring together,
at a moderate expense, small yet perfect collec-
tions which any museum would be glad to

Arrangements have been made with many
well-known writers and specialists for their
assistance as authors or editors of volumes of
the series.

Each volume will contain from 250 to 300
octavo pages, from twelve to twenty plates, and
a title-page designed by Mr. Laurence Housman.
The series will be printed, from new type, on
specially-prepared paper, by Messrs. Ballantyne,
Hanson & Co.

The price of each volume of the series will
be /J. (id. net.

The Publisher reserves the right to issue a
limited number of copies of any volume of the
series either on Japanese vellum, or Whatman or
India paper, or with the illustrations in "proof"
state, according as the subject of the book may
suggest. The number of these will be announced
in each case, and they will be strictly reserved
for Subscribers before publication.

The Series will be published in America by
Messrs. Longmans, Green & Co., Fifth Avenue,
New York.


Uniform with this Volume

The Coin Collector

By W. Carew Hazlitt

With 1 2 Collotype Plates depicting
129 rare Pieces

Introductory — Collectors and Collections — Value of
Coins — Unique or Remarkable Coins — Greek Coins —
Rome — Continent of Europe — United Kingdom — The
Coin Market — Terminology — Bibliography — Description
of Plates — Index.

" Mr. Hazlitt is an expert in regard to coins ; his book from
the practical standpoint is trustworthy." — Notes and Queries.

"We may say at once that we have a very interesting and
instructive volume before us. The subject is, of course, only
lightly touched upon, and no attempt at dealing with any
section of it in detail is made. This is as it should be in a book
on coins in general." — Antiquary.

"Perhaps as excellent an introduction to the study of a
delightful pursuit as could have been written." — Daily Tele-

"Abreast of the latest discoveries and theories, and is sure
of a welcome from the general reader as well as from the col-
lector." — Scotsman.

" This admirable volume gives a bird's-eye view of the whole.
It is clear that Mr. Hazlitt is not only an enthusiast in the
subject of his book, but also a student whose knowledge is at
once singularly wide and remarkably accurate." — Publishers'



Collector Series


Altographs and






English Water-


Tapestry Lace and









Book Plates


Old Bibles

An'cient Glass

r!! L ' . !! WU n u i'i| >ii —*i" « "i ^ i! i Wi|l|<

isf < 1^

^' t^

P^WIW ' H i'l'i' . lj























The Landscape vnth a Tower .... To face page bi:
From Rembrandt's Etching.

CUment de Jonghe „ », 62

From Rembrandt's Etching.

Le Stryge. From Meryon's Etching . . . „ ,,80

The Little Morse. From the Engraving by Durer „ „ 140

Coat of Arms itnth the Cock „ „ 146

From the Engraving by DCrer.

Panel of Ornaments „ „ 156

From the Engraving by LucAS VAN Leyden.

Dance of Damsels , „ 164

From ZoAN Andrea's Print after Man-
tegna's design.

Saint Cecilia „ ,,167

From Marc Antonio's Engraving after

Le Jem de VOye ....-..„ „ 178

From SURUOUE's Engraving after Chardin.

Severn and Wye „ „ 198

From the Print by TURNER.

Esther Jacobs ,, ,, 212

From SriLSBURY's Mezzotint after REYNOLDS,

Interior of Country Ale-house. . . . „ „ 216

From William Ward's Mezzotint after





In the collecting of prints — of prints which must be
fine and may most probably be rare — there is an ample
recompense for the labour of the diligent, and room for
the exercise of the most various tastes. Certain of the
objects on which the modern collector sets his hands
have, it may be, hardly any other virtue than the doubt-
ful one of scarcity ; but fine prints, whatever School they
may belong to, and whatever may be the money value
that happens to be affixed to them by the fashion of
the time, have always the fascination of beauty and
the interest of historical association. Then, considered
as collections of works of art, there is the jn-actical
convenience of their compactness. The print-collector
carries a nmseum in a portfolio, or packs away a picture
gallery, neatly, within the compass of one solander-box.
Again, the print-collector, if he will but occupy him-
self with intelligent industry, may, even to-day, have a
collection of fine things without j)aying overniuch, or
even very much, for them. All will depend upon the

School or master that he ])articularly affects. Has he



at his disposal only a few bank-notes, or only a few
sovereigns even, every year ? — he may yet surround
himself with excellent possessions, of which he will not
speedily exhaust the charm. Has he the fortune of an
Astor or a Vanderbilt ? — he may instruct the gi'eatest
dealers in the trade to struggle in the auction-room, on
his behalf, with the representatives of the Berlin Museum.
And it may be his triumph, then, to have paid the
princely ransom of the very rarest " state "" of the rarest
Rembrandt. And, all the time, whether he be rich
man or poor — but especially, I think, if he be poor — he
will have been educating himself to the finer percep-
tion of a masculine yet lovely art, and, over and above
indulging the " fad " of the collector, he will find that
his possessions rouse within him an especial interest
in some period of Art History, teach him a real and
delicate discrimination of an artist's qualities, and so,
indeed, enlarge his vista that his enjoyment of life itself,
and his appreciation of it, is quickened and sustained.
For gi-eat Ai't of any kind, whether it be the painter's,
the engraver's, the sculptor's, or the writer's, is not — it
cannot be too often insisted — a mere craft or sleight-of-
hand, to be practised from the wrist downwards. It is
the expression of the man himself. It is, therefore, with
great and new personalities that the study of an art,
the contemplation of it — not the mere bungling amateur
performance of it — brings you into contact. And there
is no way of studying an art that is so complete and
satisfactory as the collecting of examples of it.

And then again, to go back to the material part of



the business, how economical it is to be a collector, if
only you are wise and prudent ! Of pleasant vices this
is surely the least costly. Nay, more; the bank-note
cast upon the waters may come back after many days.

The study of engravings, ancient and modern — of
woodcuts, line engravings, etchings, mezzotints — has
become by this time extremely elaborate and immensely
complicated. Most people know nothing of it, and do
not even realise that behind all their ignorance there is
a world of learning and of pleasure, some part of which
at least might be theirs if they would but enter on the
land and seek to possess it. Few men, even of those
who address themselves to the task, acquire swiftly any
substantial knowledge of more than one or two depart-
ments of the study ; though the ideal collector, and I
would even say the reasonable one, whatever he may
actually own, is able, sooner or later, to take a survey
of the larger gi'ound — his eye may range intelligently
over fields he has no thought of annexing.

From this it will be concluded — and concluded

rightly — that the print-collector must be a specialist,

more or less. More or less, at least at the beginning,

must he address himself with particular care to one

bnuich of the study. And which is it to be? The

number of fine Schools of Ktching and Engraving is

really so considerable that the choice may well be his

own. 'I'liis or that luitster, this or that j)eriod, this or

that njethod, he may select with freedom, and will

scarcely go wrong, lint the mention of it brings one,

naturally, to the divisions of the subject, and the



collector, we shall find, is face to face, first of all, with
this question : " Are the prints I am to bring together
to be the work of an artist who originates, or of an
artist who mainly ti-anslates ? "

Well, of course, in a discussion of the matter, the
great original Schools must have the first place, what-
ever it may be eventually decided shall be the subject
of your collection. You may buy, by all means, the
noble mezzotints which the eng-ravers of the Eighteenth
Century wrought after Reynolds, Romney, and George
Morland ; but suffer us to say a little first about the
great creative artists, and then, when the possible
collector has read about them — and has made himself
familiar, at the British Museum Print-room say, with
some portion of their work — it may be that though he
finds that they are nearly all, however different in
themselves, less decorative on a wall than the great
masters of rich mezzotint, he will find a charm and
spell he cannot wish to banish in the evidence of their
originality, in the fact that they are the creations of an
individual impulse, whether they are slight or whether
they are elaborate.

The Schools of early line-engravers, Italian, Flemish,
German, are almost entirely Schools of original pro-
duction, I say "almost,'"' for as early as the days of
Raphael, the interpreter, the translator, the copyist, if
you will, came into the matter, and the designs of the
Urbinate were multiplied by the burin of Marc Antonio
and his followers. And charming prints they are, these

Marc Antonios, so little bought to-day. Economical of



line they are, and ex([uisite of contour, and likely, one
would suppose, to be valued in the Future more than
they are valued just now, when the rhyme of Mr.
Browning, about the collector of his early period, is
true no longer —

" The debt of wonder my crony owes
Is paid to my Marc Autouios."

That in the main the earlier work is original, is not
a thing to be sm-prised at, any more than it is a thing
to lament. The naiTow world of buyers in that primi-
tive day was not likely to afford scope for the business
of the translator ; the time had not yet come when there
was any need for the creations of an artist to be largely
multiplied. That time came first, perhaps, in the
Seventeenth Century, when the immediately accepted
genius of Rubens gave ground for the employment of
the interpreting talent of Bolswert, Pontius, and Vos-
terman. Again, there was Edelinck, Nanteuil, and
the Drevets.

It need scarcely be said that extreme rarity is a
characteristic of the early Schools. The prints of two
of the most masculine of the Italians, for instance,
Andrea Mantegna and Jacopo de"" liarbarj, are not to
be got by ordering them. They have, of course, to be
watched for, and waited for, and the opj)ortunity taken
at the moment at which it arises. In some measure
there will be ex[)erienced the same engaging and ])re-
ventive difficulty in possessing yourself of the prints of
the gi'eat Germans and of the one gi'eat Flemish master.


Lucas of Leyden. And if these, in certain states at
least, in certain conditions, are not quite as hard to
come upon as the works of those masters who have been
mentioned just before them, and of their compatriots of
the same period, that is but an extra inducement for
the search, since there is, of course, a degi-ee of difficulty
that is actually discouraging — a sensible man does not
long aim at the practically impossible. Now in regard
to the early Flemish master with whom Diirer himself
not unwillingly — nay, very graciously — exchanged pro-
ductions, there are yet no insuperable obstacles to
the collector gathering together a representative array
of his work ; it is possible upon occasion even to add
one or two of his scarce and beautiful and spirited
ornaments to the group, such as it may be, of subjects
based on scriptural or on classic themes. To be a
specialist in Lucas van Leyden would be to be unusual,
but not perhaps to be unwise; yet a greater sagacity
would, no doubt, be manifested by concentration upon
that which is upon the whole the finer work of Albert
Diirer. Of late years, Martin Schongauer too, with the
delicacy of his burin, his tenderness of sentiment, and his
scarcely less pronounced quaintness, has been a favourite,
greatly sought for ; but, amongst the Germans, the work
that best upon the whole repays the trouble undertaken
in amassing it, is that of the great Albert himself, and
that of the best of the Little Masters.

And who then were the Little Masters ? a beginner
wants to know. They were seven artists, some of them

Diirer's direct pupils, all of them his direct successors ;



getting the name that is common to them not from any
insignificance in their themes, but from the scale on
which it pleased them to execute their always deliberate,
always highly -wTought work. There is not one who has
not about his labour some measure of individual interest,
but the three greatest of the seven are the two brothers
Beham — Barthel and Sebakl — and that Prince of little
omamentists, Heinrich AldegTever. Nowhere was the
German Renaissance greater than in its ornament, and
the Behams, along with subjects of Allegory, History,
and Genre, addressed themselves not seldom to sub-
jects of pure and self-contained design. Rich and fine
in their fancy, their characteristic yet not too obvious
symmetry has an attraction that lasts. Barthel was
the less prolific of the twain, but perhaps the more
vigorous in invention. Sebald, certainly not at a loss
himself for motives for design, yet chose to fall back on
occasion — as in the exquisite little print of the Adam
and Eve — upon the inventions of his brother. There
is not now, there never has been, veiy much collecting
here in England of the German Little Masters. Three
j)ounds or four suffices, now and again, to buy at
Sotheby's, or at a dealer's, a good Beham, a good
Aldegrever. In their own land they are rated a little
more highly — are at least more eagerly sought for —
but with research and pains (and remembering resolutely
in this, as in every other case, to reject a bad impres-
sion), it is possii)le, for a most mcxierate simi, to have
(juitc a substantial bevy of tliese treasures; and though
large indeed in their (l(si<rti, their real ail (|ualitv, they




are, in a material sense, as small almost as gems. Mr.
Loftie, who made , specialty of Sebald Behams, was
able, I believe, to carry a collection of them safely
housed in his waistcoat-pocket.

If we pass on from the Sixteenth to the Seventeenth
Century, we have the opportunity, if we so choose, of
leaving Line Engi-aving, and of studying and acquiring
here and there examples of the noblest Etching that
has been done in the world. For the Seventeenth
Century is the period of Rembrandt — the period, too, of
that meaner but yet most skilful craftsman, Adrian van
Ostade, and the period of the serene artist of classic
Landscape and Architecture, who wrought some twenty
plates in acjuafortis — I mean Claude. In an introduc-
tory chapter to a volume like the present, there is time
and space to consider only Rembrandt. And it cannot
be asserted too decisively that in the study and collec-
tion of Rembrandt, lies, as a rule — and must, one thinks,
for ever lie — the print-collector's highest and most legi-
timate pleasure. And even a poor man may have a few
good Rembrandts, though only quite a rich man can
have them in gi-eat numbers and of the rarest. Rem-
brandt is a superb tonic for people who have courted too
much the infection of a weakly and a morbid art. Not
occupied indeed in his representations of humanity with
visions of formal beauty, his variety is unsurpassed, his
vigour unequalled ; he has the gi-eat traditions of Style,
yet is as modern and as unconventional as Mr. Whistler.
Of the different classes of Rembrandt's compositions,

the sacred subjects perhaps — at least some minor



examples of them — are the least uncommon; and in
their intimate and homely stud^ of humanity, and
often too in their technique^ the sacred subjects prove
themselves desirable. Never, however, should they be
collected to the exclusion of the rarer Portraiture or of
tjje rarest Landscape. A Lutma, a De Jong-he, in a fine
state and fine condition, a Cottage xvith a Dutch Hay-
barn^ a Landscape xcHh a Tozcer, attain the sunnnit of
the etcher's art, and, both in noble conception and
magical execution, are absolutely perfect. Why, such
impressions of the Rembrandt landscapes as were dis-
persed but two or three years since, when the cabinet
of Mr, Holford passed under the hammer, appeal to the
trained eye with a potency not a whit less great than
can any masterpiece of Painting ; and, to speak in very
soberest English, no sum of money that it could ever
enter into the heart of the enthusiast to pay for them
would be, in truth, a too extravagant, a too unreason-
able ransom.

In the Eighteenth Century original Etching falls into
the background, and the skill of the engraver, in those
lands where, in the Eighteenth Century, it was chiefly
exercised — in France, that is, and England — is devoted
in the main to no sponbmcous creation, but to the
translation of the work of painters. In I wo mediums,
thorougldy opposed or thoroughly contrasted, yet each
with its own value, the engraver's labour is executed ;
there flourished, side by side, the delicate School of Line
Engi'aving and the noble School of Me/zotint. Repro-
ductive or interpretive Lini; I'^igi-aving had done great

17 B


thinffs a generation or so earlier, and even Mezzotint
was not the invention of the Eighteenth Century, though
it was then that the art discovered by Von Siegen, and
practised with a singular directness by Prince Rupert, was
brought to its perfection. But the Eighteenth Century
— even the latter half of it — was certainly the period
at which both arts were busiest ; and not so much the
professed collector as the intelligent bourgeois of the
time gathered these things together — in England chiefly
^Mezzotints, in France chiefly Line Engi-avings — and a
very few shillings paid for the M'Ardell or the Watson
after Reynolds, and later for the Raphael Smith or
the William Ward after George Morland. Often the
engraver was a publisher of his own and other people"'s
prints. That was the case in Paris as much as in
London ; and in Paris, in the third quarter of the
Eighteenth Century, the line engi-avers issued for a
couple of francs or so — and the Merciire de France was
apt, like newspapers in our own day, to notice the
jniblication — those admirable, and still in England, too
little known prints which recoi'd the dignified observa-
tion, the sober, just suggested comedy of Chardin.

There were exceptions, of course, to the common rule
that in the period of our first Georges, and of Louis the
Fifteenth, engi-aver's work was translation. Hogarth,
in the first half of the century — about the time when
the French line engravers were occupied with their
quite exquisite translations of the gi'ace of Watteau,
Lancret, and Pater — wrought out on copper with

rough vigour his original conceptions of the Rake's



and of the Harlot's Progress, and not a few of his
minor themes ; but when it came to the rendering into
black and white of those masterly canvases of Marriage
a la Mode, professional engravers, such as Ravenet and
Scotin, were employed to admirable purpose, and a
Jittle later the very colours of the canvas seemed to
live, the painter's very touch seemed to be reproduced,
in the noble mezzotints of Earlom. And the immense
successes of this reproductive engraving, with the art of
Hogarth, brings us back to the truth of our earlier pro-
position ; the period was a period of intei-pretation, not
of original work, with the engraver. The whole French
Eighteenth Century School, from Watteau down to
Lavreince, is to be studied, and collected, too, in Line
Engraving. The School is not invariably discreet in
subject : Lavreince has his suggestiveness, though rarely
does he go beyond legitimate comedy, and Baudouin,
Fran^-ois Boucher's son-in-law, has his audacities ; but
against these is to be set the dignified idyl of the gi-eat
master of Valenciennes ; the work of Watteau 's pupils,
too ; the works of Boucher ; Massard's consunnnate
rendering, in finest or most finished line, of this or
that seductive vision of Greuze ; the stately comedy
of Moreau le Jeune ; and, as I have said alrejuly, the
excellent interpretations of the homely, natural, so
desirable art of Chardin.

Mezzotint really did for all the English j)ainters of
impoi-tance of the Eighteenth Century, and in a measure
for certain earlier Dutchmen, all that Line Engi-aving

accomplished for the French. " By these men I shall



be inunortiilised," Sir Joshua said, when the work of
M'Ardell and his fellows came under his view. Gains-
borough, it is true, was not interpreted quite so much
or quite so successfully. But Romney has as much
justice done to him in later English Mezzotint as the
luxurious art of Lely and Kneller obtained from one
of the earlier practitioners of the craft — John Smith.
Morland*'s continued and justified popularity in our
own time is due to nothing half as much as to the
mezzotints by Raphael Smith, and Ward, and Young,
and others of that troop of brethren. And it was
mezzotint, in combination with the bitten line for lead-
ing features of the composition, that Turner, early in
our own century — in 1807 — decided to employ in the
production of those seventy plates of Liber Studiortim
upon which, already even, so much of his fame rests.

Lihei' Studiorum occupies an interesting and a pecu-

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Online LibraryFrederick WedmoreFine prints → online text (page 1 of 16)