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bridle and a curb for the too prcsinnjjtuous fortunate
ones; in the other, a goblel lor uiiappreciatetl worth."
Mr. Middleton-Wake, wisely less ])hil()s()pliical, urges a
8im})Ier meaning. The city of Ninvmberg, he reminds
us, had, in compliance with Maximilian's demand, lin-

nished four hundred foot soldiers and sixty horse, for

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the campaign in Switzerland, and at the head of these
troops was Pirkheimer, to whom on his return his
fellow-citizens offered a golden cup. " We assume,"
says Mr. IMiddleton-Wake, " that it is this cup which
Diirer places in the hand of the Goddess.'' With the
Swiss War are also associated the Coat of Arms with the
Cock and the even rarer (certainly not finer) Coat of'
Arms zaith a SJcidl. The one may symbolise the antici-
pated success, the other the failure, of the campaign
into Switzerland.

A reference to the Richard Fisher Sale Catalogue (at
Sotheby's, May 1892) affords as ready and as correct
a means as we are likely to obtain of estimating the
present value of fine Durer prints. Mr. Fisher's col-
lection was unequal ; but it was celebrated, and it was,
on the whole, admirable. It was, moreover, practically
complete, and in this way alone it represented an
extraordinary achievement in Collecting. Its greatest
feature was Mr. Fisher's possession of the Adam and
Eve in a condition of exce})tional brilliancy, and with a
long pedigree, from the John Barnard, Maberly, and
Hawkins collections. This was the first Albert Durer
that passed under the hammer on the occasion, and so
opened the sale of the Di'irers with a thunderclap, as
it were — Herr Meder paying =£"410 to bear it off in
triumph. Then came the Nativity, the charming
dainty little print, which Diirer himself speaks of as
the " Christmas Day." Mr. Gutekunst gave i?49 for
it. A fine impression of the Virgin with Long Hair

fetched i?51 ; an indifferent one of the more beautiful

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DURER : THE " LITTLE MASTERS "

Virgin seated by a Wall, £\0, 15s. The St. Hubert
sold for i^48 — a finer impression of the same subject
selling, in the Holford Sale, just a year later, for o^l50
— the Melancholia, £2Q ; but, it must be remembered,
the Melancholia, though always one of the most sought
for, is not by any means one of the rarest Diirers. The
Knight of Death passed, for i?100, into the hands of
Mr. Gutekunst. An early impression of the Coat of
Arms -icith the Cock was bought by Mr. Kennedy for
,^20; the Coat of Arms xoith tfie Shill going to Messrs.
Colnaghi for ci?42. In the Holford Sale a yet finer
impression of this last subject was bought by Herr
Meder for £75.

Before I leave, for a while at least, the prosaic ques-
tions of the Sale-Room, and pass on to direct attention
to the artistic virtues of the " Little Masters,"" let the
" beginning collector,"" as the quaint ])hrase runs, be
warned in regard to copies. It has not been left for an
age that imitates everything — that copies our charming
Battersea Enamel, taiit Men que rnal, and the " scale-
blue" of old Worcester, and the lustre of Oriental — it
has not been left for such an age to be the first to copy
Diirer. In fact, no one now-a-days bestows the labour
required in copying Diner. He is copied now-a-days
only in the craft of photogravure. Bnl, of old time,
Wierix, and less celel)rated men, copied In'ni gi-eatly.
Tliis is (I matter of wliicli tlie collector — at first at
leu.st — Yiiis need to beware. II nnist be stamped upon
his mind that Dinx-r's work at a certain ]K'ri()d did

ninch engage tiie copyist. It engaged the copyist only

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less perhaps than did the work of Rembrandt himself,
throuo-h successive generations.

And now we speak, though briefly, of the seven
German " Little Masters," of whom the best are never
" little " in style, but, rather, great and pregnant,
richly charged with quality and meaning : " little "
only in the mere scale of their labour. The print-
buyer who is in that rudimentary condition that he
only considers the walls of his sitting-rooms, and buys
almost exclusively for their effective decoration, does
not look at the Little Masters. Upon a distant wall,
their works make little spots. But in a corner, near
the fire — on the right-hand side of that arm-chair in
which you seek to establish your most cossetted guest,
the person (of the opposite sex, generally) whom you
are glad to behold — a little frame containing half-a-
dozen Behams, Aldegrevers, to be looked at closely (pieces
of Ornament perhaps ; exercises in exquisite 1 e), adds
charm to an interior Avhich, under circumst nces of
Romance, may need indeed no added charm at all from
the mere possessions of the collector. Still — there are
moods. And if the German Little Masters come in
pleasantly enough, on an odd foot or so of wall, now
and then, how justified is their presence in the port-
folio — in the solander box — when the collector is really
a serious one, and when he no longer bestows upon
living, breathing Humanity all the solicitude that was
meant for his Behams !

To talk more gravely, the German Little Masters

should indeed be collected far more widely than

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DDRER: THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

they are, amongst us. Scarcely anything in their
appeal is particular and local. Their qualities — the
qualities of the best of them — are exquisite and ster-
ling, and are for all Time.

The seven Little ]Masters, on whom the late Mr. W.
Bell Scott — one of the first people here in England
to collect them — wrote, in an inadequate series, one
of the few quite satisfactory books, are, Altdorfer,
Barthel Beham, Sebald Beham, Aldegrever, Pencz, Jacob
Binck, and Hans Brosamer. One or two of these may
c|uickly be discerned to be inferior to the others ; one
or two to be superior ; but it would be priggish to
attempt to range them in definite order of merit.
It may suffice to say that to me at least Aldegrever
and the Behams appeal most as men to be collected.
The Behams — Sebald especially — was a very fine Orna-
mentist. Aldegi-ever, it may be, was an Ornamentist
yet more faultless. Some examples of his Ornament,
the collector should certainly possess. And then he
will come back very probably to the Behams, recog-
nising in these two brothers a larger range than Alde-
grever had, and a sjjirit more dramatic — an entrance
more vivid and personal into human life, a keen in-
terest in human story. They were realists, not without
a touch of the ideal. And in design and execution,
they were consummate artists, and not only — which
they were too, of course — infinitely laborious and ex-
quisite craftsmen.

Adnin I{arts<h has catalogued, in his industrious

way, according to the best lights of his period, the

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works of the Little Masters. His volumes are the
foundation of all subsequent study. To Alttlorfer he
assigns ninety-six })ieces (I speak of course here, and
in every case, of pieces engraved on metal) ; to IJarthel
Beham, sixty-four ; to Sebald Beham — whose life,
though not a long, was yet a longer one than Barthel's
— two hundred and fifty-nine ; to Jacob Binck, ninety-
seven ; to George Pencz, a hundred and twenty-six ;
to Heinrich Aldegrever, no less than two hundred and
eighty-nine ; to Brosamer, four-and-twenty. But of
late years, as was to be expected, certain of these
masters have been the subjects of particular study.
Thus we have, in England, the dainty little catalogue
of Sebald Beham, by the Rev. W. J. Loftie — a book
delightfully printed in a very limited edition. That
book brings up the number of Sebald Beham''' assured
plates to two hundred and seventy-four. Dr. Ro. 'nberg
has also, in much detail, written in German upon the
])lates of this fascinating artist ; and still more lately
M. Edouard Aumiiller has published, at Munich, in
the French tongue, ela])orate, though indeed scarcely
final, studies of the Behams and of Jacob Binck.

Of the German Little Masters, Albrecht Altdorfer is
the earliest. He was only nine yeai's Dlirer's junior;
nearly twenty years separate him from others of the
group. Born it really even at the present moment
seems difficult to say where, Altdorfer, Dr. Rosenberg
considers, was actually a pupil of Dlirer's — an appren-
tice, an inmate of his house, probably, soon after Diirer

as a quite young man, already prosperous and busy,

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D0RER:THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

took up his abode, with his bride, Agnes Frey, at the
large house by the Thiergarten Gate. But whatever
was the place of Altdorfer's birth and whatever the
place of his pupilage — and neither matter, as it seems,
is settled conclusively — Ratisbon is the city in which
his life was chiefly spent. There he was architect as
well as painter and engraver ; an official post was given
him ; and during the last decade of his career his
architectural work for Ratisbon caused, it is to be
presumed, the complete cessation of his work of an
engi-aver. Merits Altdorfer of course has — variety and
ingenuity amongst them — or his fame would hardly
have survived ; but Mr. W. B. Scott, whose criticism
of him was that of an artist naturally rather in sym-
pathy with the methods of his endeavour, never rises
to enthusiasm in his account of him. His drawing
is not found worthy of any warm commendation, nor
his craftsmanship with the copper. The great lessons
he miglit have learnt from Durer, he does not seem
fully to have appropriated. His design is deemed
more fantastic. But his range was not narrow, and
apart from his ))ractice in what is strictly line-en-
graving, he executed etchings of Landscape — caring
more than Diirer did, perhaj)s, for Landsc-aj)e for its
own sake : studying it indeed less lovingly in detail,
but with a certaiti then umisual reliance on the interest
of its general cH'ect. Some measure of romantic char-
acter belongs to his Landscape: "partly intensified,"
says Mr. Scott, "and |»,ully deslroyed, by the eccentric

taste that appears in nearly everything from his hand."

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FINE PRINTS

The pine had fascination for him. "And he loaded
its boughs with fronds, Hke the feathers of birds, and
added long- lines, vagaries of lines, that have little or
no foundation in Nature."

Of both the Behanis, Mr. Loftie assures us that they
were pupils of Uiirer. Greater even than the artist I
have just been writing about, they show, it seems to
me, at once an influence more direct from Dlirer, and
an individuality more potent, of their own. Barthel,
the younger of the two brothers — one whose designs
Sebald, with all his gifts, was not too proud to now
and then copy — was born at Nuremberg in 1502. " Le
dessin de ses estampes," wi'ites M. Aumliller, "est
savant et gracieux, et son burin est d'une elegance
brillante et moelleuse." The words — though it is im-
possible, in a line or two, to generalise a great persona-
lity — are not badly chosen. Exiled from Nuremberg,
whilst still young, Barthel Beham laboured at Frankfort,
and, later, in Italy — a circumstance which accounts
for something in the character of his work. For, in
Barthel, the Italian influence is unmistakable ; he is,
as Mr. Scott says truly, " emancipated from the wilful
despising of the graces." In Italy, in 1540, Barthel
died.

Sebald Beham, the more prolific brother, whose
years, ere they were ended, numbered half a century
was born in 1500. He remained at home — not indeed
at Nuremberg, but long at Frankfort — yet, remaining
at home, his work was somehow more varied. A

classical subject one day, and peasant life the next, an

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DURER: THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

ornament now, and now a design symbolical like his
Melancholia — these interested him in turn ; and, as for
his technical achievement, his Coat of Arms ic'ith the
Cock (for he, like Durer, had that, as well as a Melan-
cholia) would suffice to show, had he nothing else to
show, his unsurpassable fineness of detail. " Cette
superbe gravure," M. Aumiiller says — and most justifi-
ably, for technical excellence cannot go any further,
nor is there wanting majesty of Style. At the Loftie
Sale some happy person acquired for dP4 this lovely
little masterpiece : at the Duraz/o Sale, £5 was the
price of it. Analysis of Sebald Beham"'s prints shows
that of his noble work on metal seventy-five subjects
are suggested by sacred and nineteen by "profane"
history. Mythology claims thirty-eight designs, and
Allegory thirty-four. Genre subjects, treated with the
various qualities of observation, humour, warmth, ab-
sorb some seventy plates, (^f vignettes and ornaments,
there are about two score.

In 1881 — several years after he had finished his
Catalogue — the Rev. W. J. Loftie sold in Germany his
remarkable collection of Sebald Rehanrs works. Next
perhaps, in imjjortance, in recent times, to Mr. Loftie's
collection, was that of Richard Eisher — disj)ersed at
a sale I have already spoken of. I'roin the I'isher
Sale, which was so comprehensive in its character,
we will tiike note of the j)i-ic('.s hci-c in England of at
least a few fine things — premising that whatever be the
prices fetched i)y an exce])tional larity, a very few

pounds (often only three or foin-), spent (•arcfiilK , will

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buy, at a good dealers, a fine Behain. In the Fisher
Sale then, the Madonna and Child zcith the Parrot
fetched £5, 10s. ; the Madonna zcith the Skeping Ckild^
£\1, 10s. (Meder) ; the Venus and Cupid, i?3, 10s.
(Deprez) ; the niao-nificently drawn Lcda, only eleven
shillings — but then it must have been a bad impres-
sion, for a fine one at the Loftie Sale fetched dC4, 10s.,
and at the Kalle Sale, £6 — Death Surprising- a Woman
in her Sleep, £S, 12s. (Meder); the Baboon and tlie
Tivo Coiiples, £5 ; the Tzcv Buffoons, First State,
£7, 12s. (Deprez) ; the Ornament zcith a Cuirass and
the tzco Cupids, £S, 10s. At the same sale, Alde-
grever's Virg'in Sitting had gone for £1, lOs., and
Barthel Behanrs Lucretia for £^, his Fight for the
Standard for ^^4, his Vignette zcith Four Cupids for
£4!, 4s. But it ought perhaps to be remembered that
in several cases the representation of the Little Masters
in Mr. Fisher's Sale was not good enough to bring the
prices which, under favourable circumstances, are wont
to be realised by the finest impressions. In regard to
Barthel Beham, I will add that the highest price
accustomed to be fetched by any print of his, is
fetched by his rare, strong portrait of Charles the Fifth.
Having said what I have of it, I cannot say that it
is undesirable, but it is quite undesirable if it stands
alone — for it is exceptional rather than characteristic.
In mere size, for one thing. A First State of it has
fetched as much as sixty pounds : a Second State
averages about twelve.

To Aldegi-ever — perhaps the very greatest of the

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DDRER: THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

Omanientists — the most general of recent students of
the School, Dr. Rosenberg, does the least justice. Mr.
Scott, upon the other hand, asserts his position with
strength ; nor will it be unprofitable for amateur or
collector if I cjuote, at some length, what he says.
The Behanis, who were great, and Altdorfer, who was
scarcely great, we have — for our present })urposes —
done with already. But about the others ]\Ir. Scott
may well be heard. " George Pencz,"" he reminds us,
"left the Fatherland and subjected himself to Italian
influence, both in manipulation and in invention, while
Brosamer and Jacob Binck are of comparatively little
consequence."" I hope — may I say in a parenthesis ? —
that Mr. Scott attached great weight to his "com-
paratively,"" for otherwise he did the charming work
of Jacob Binck a rude injustice. But to proceed —
" Aldegi'ever is the most worthy successor to Diirer,
and is the gi-eatest master of invention, with the truest
German traditions of sentiment and romance, as well as
the most prolific ornamentist. He remains all his life
skilfully atlvancing in the command of his graver, to
which he remains true. Like Lucas of Levden, he lives
a secluded \\^(;^ .hikI his niiniature prints continue to
issue from his hands with more and more richness and
imlej)endence of poetic thought, until we lose sight of
him, dying where he had HvchI, in the small town of
Soest, without unv wi-itcr to i-crord the particulars of
his modest life." It may be added that Rosenberg
considers not only that Aldegrever was never under

Di'irer's direct tuition — tlnxigh cairying out tiie Diirer

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FINE PRINTS

traditions — but also that he was never in Nuremberg at
all. And, by this means isolating Aldegrever from the
coterie that grew up in the Franconian town, Rosenberg
derives him rather from Lucas van Leyden. To which
Mr. Scott answers, that if Aldegrever never left his
native Westphalia, never even visited Nuremberg and
Augsburg, " he apprehended the movement wonderfully
from a distance, and apj^ropriated as much as he chose
— happily for his works — as much as properly amalga-
mated with his Northern nature."

A great name has passed our lips in discussing this
thing briefly. I wish that there were space here —
that it had been a part of my scheme to treat, not so
utterly inadequately, Lucas van Leyden. But in a
book of this sort — which must seize, so to say, upon
finger-posts, where it can — ^^half of the business is
renunciation, and I renounce, unwillingly, the fau'
discussion of the great early Flemish master. Dlirer
himself approved of him : gladly exchanged original
prints with Master Lucas of Leyden, who showed
him courtesy on a journey. Numerically the work of
Lucas is not inferior — rather the other way — to Albert
Durer's. His range of subject was hardly less extensive,
thouo-h his range of mind was less vast. In a dramatic
theme, Lucas of Leyden could hold his own with any
one. He had less of unction and of sentiment — less
depth, in fine, very likely. But the great prints of the
Renaissance in the North are not properly represented "
in a collector's portfolios, if the work of this master of

various and prolific industiy is altogether omitted. His

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DtJREH : THE " LITTLE MASTERS "

draughtsmanship, though it improved with Time, was
never the searching draughtsmanship of Diirer, indeed,
or of one or two of Dlirers followers. Yet it was ex-
pressive and spirited. And spirit, vivacit}', a certain
grace even, are well discovered in the rare work of
Lucas in a particular field in which the Behams and
Aldegi-ever triumphed habitually and in which Albert
was occasionally great — I mean the field of Ornament.
The rare Panneaii cTOrnements (Bartsch, 164 — dated
1528), in scheme of light and shade, in scheme of action,
in ingenious, never-wearying symmetry of line, in tell-
ing execution, reaches a place near the summit. The
collector, when the chance offers, does well to give the
six or seven, eight or ten guineas perhaps, which, in
some fortunate hour, may be its ransom.



15-



CHAPTER VIII

Earliest Italian Prints — They interest the AfHiqiiaty
more than the Collector — Nielli — Baccio Baldini —
Mantcgna and his restless energy — The calm of Zoan
Andrea — Campagnola — The Master of the Caduceus
— His " Pagan sentiment " — Marc Aiitonio — His
first practice — His art ripest when his prints
interpret Raphael — Important Sales of the Italian
Prints.

As one of the chief reasons for the composition of
the present volume is that the collector, whether a
beginner or more advanced, may have ready access to
a little book which supplements to some extent, but
does not attempt to supersede, any one amongst the
labours of earlier students — and which treats often
with especial prominence themes which it seems lay
scarcely at all within the range of their incjuiries —
it will hardly be expected that much shall be said
here on the various departments of Italian Engraving.
Italian Engraving, from the 7iielli of Florentine gold-
smiths to the larger method and selected line of Marc
Antonio, has for generations occupied the leisure and
been the subject of the investigations of many studious

men. Volumes have been written about it : treatises,

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ITALIAN LINE ENGRAVERS

articles, catalogues, coiTespondence innumerable. About
Italian EnoTavino; — in any one of its branches — it
would be as easy, or as difficult, to say something
new, and at the same time to the point, as it would
be to Avi'ite with freshness about the decorations of the
Sistine Chapel or such an accepted masterpiece as the
Madonna di San Sisto. The few words I shall write
upon the subject will be of a wholly rudimentary
character. If the reader wishes to go into this subject
elaborately, I refer him at once to experts. No one
is less an expert upon it than I am ; but partly that
all sense of balance shall not be wanting to this book,
and partly that the beginner, even with this book
alone, shall not grope wholly in the dark, the place of
the Italians must be briefly recognised. In recognising
it, I do not claim to do more, of my own proper know-
ledge, than bring to bear upon the question the results
of some more general studies, and perhaps the side-
lights thrown from more particular investigations into
other branches of the engraver''s achievement.

The rik'Hi — those things wrought so minutely by the
early goldsmiths, IVIiiso da Finiguerra and the rest —
which are the very foundations of Engraving, are, to
begin with, introuvahh\ To the practical collector then,
it cannot be pretended that they aj)peal, though they
may engage the attention of the studeiil. Then again,
in fine condition, not sj)()ilt by the retouching — nay,
re-working — of the plate, or the wear of the particular
impression tliroiigli its long life of more than three
hundred vears, the somewhat niaturer work oftheirreat



FINE rillNTS

Primitives, or of those who, like Mantegna himself,
stands, a link upon a borderland, is scarcely within
the region of practical commerce. The finer work of
the line-eno-ravers upon copper, of the earlier Renais-
sance in Italy, does not, save on the rarest occasions,
appear in Sotheby's auction-room. Perhaps its very
scarcity, its gradual absorption during more than
one generation, into such great private collections as
are not likely to be dispersed, and, yet more, into
national, or university, or municipal collections, into
which everything entering takes at once, and with no
period of novitiate, the black veil — perhaps this very
scarcity is accountable for the lack of vivid interest in
such work on the part of the collector of modern mind.
After all, even masterpieces have their day : nmch more
those things of which it must be said, that though en-
dowed with a great vigour of conception and executed
often in trenchant, if not persuasive, form, they do not
in execution reach the standards set up for us — and
passing now almost into the position of " precedents ""
— by the later technique.

If, of the work of the greatest master of the Ger-
man Renaissance — of the greatest, most original, most
comprehensive mind in the whole of German Art —
it is possible to speak as that very fair and penetrating
critic, Mr. P. G. Hamerton s})eaks, in his general
essay on Engraving, which appears in the " Encyclo-
paedia Britannica,"" what is to be said of the earlier
Italians? Why, in the very passage in which Mr.

Hamerton — far too intelligent, of course, to deny the

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ITALIAN LINE ENGRAVERS

gi-eatness of his qualities — devotes to Diirer, they, by
something more than impHcation, are to take their
share of the dispraise. After telling us that Martin
Schonffauer's art is a stride in advance of that of " The
Master of 1466," Mr. Hamerton adds, "Outline and
shade, in Schongauer, are not nearly so much separated
as in Baccio Baldini, and the shading, generally in curved
lines, is far more masterly than the straight shading
of Mantegna. Diirer continued Schongauer's curved
shading with increasing manual dexterity and skill ;
and as he found himself able to perform feats with the
burin which amused both himself and his buyers, he
overloaded his plates" — "some" of his plates, would
here have been a reasonable qualification — "with de-
tails, each of which he finished with as much care as if
it were the most important thing in the composition."
" The engravers of those days " — it is said further —
" had no conception of any necessity for subordinating
one part of their work to another. In Dih-er, all


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