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appreciation of the original in Art, comes to them all
at once. And touchy folk — unreasonable, almost irre-
sponsible — are apt to blame one on this account. One
has " swallowed one's words," they say — because one
has modified an opinion. The world, even the intelli-
gent world, they querulously gi'umble, was not ready
to receive them. Is that so very amazing .? Them-
selves, doubtless, were born with every faculty matured
— they possessed, upon their mother's breasts, a nice
discrimination of the virtues of Lafitte of '69. Some
of us, under such circumstances, can but crave their
tolerance — we were born duller.

Of lithographic technique^ Mr. C. H. Shannon — to
go back to him, after an inexcusable digression — is a
master ; and here let it be said that not only does he
draw upon the stone invariably, whilst Mr. Whistler
(it has been named before) sometimes does and some-
times does not draw on it, but he insists also upon
printing his own impressions. He has a press ; he is
an enthusiast ; he sees the thing through. The precise
number of his lithographs it is not important to know.
What is important, is to insist upon the relative
" considerableness " of nearly all of them. With him
the thoroughly considered composition takes the place
of the dainty sketch. Faulty the works of Charles
Shannon may be, in certain points ; deficient in cer-
tain points ; but rarely indeed are they slight, either
in conception or execution. Of each one of them may
it be said that it is a serious work : the seriousness

as apparent in the more or less realistic treatment



of The ModeUer as in Delia, ideal and opulent and
Titianesque. The Ministrants, of 1894, is perhaps his
most important. AMiat is more exquisite than the
just suggested movements of The Sisters P Sea-Breezes
is noteworthy, of course, in composition, and refined,
of course, in effect.

, Before I go on to discuss a few others of the modern
men, it may be more interesting to remind the reader —
it may be, even to inform him — what is and what may
hope to be Lithographv^s place. In such signs of its
revival as are now apparent, he will surely rejoice.
One does rejoice to find an artist equipped with some
new medium of expression — some medium of expression,
at all events, by which his work, while remaining auto-
graphic, may yet be widely diffused. And the art or
craft of Lithography, whatever it does not do, does at
least enable the expert in it to produce and scatter
broadcast, by the hundred or the thousand if he
choose, work which shall have all or nearly all the
quality of a pencil or chalk drawing, or, if it is desired,
much of the (juality even of a drawing that is washed.
This is excellent ; and then again there is the com-
mercial advantage of relatively rapid and quite inex-
pensive printing. But what the serious and impartial
amateur and collector of Fine Art will have to notice
on the other side, is, first of all, that Lithography
is not richly endowed with a scf)arate quality of its
own. With work that is printed from a metal plate,
this is quite otherwise. Mezzotint ha,s a charm that is

its own, entirely. And Line-Engraving has the par-



ticular charm of Line-Engraving. And Etching — the
biting, which gives vigour now, and now extreme deli-
cacy ; the printing, which deHberately enhances this or
modifies that ; the bm-r, the diy-point work, its in-
tended effect ; the papers, and the different results they
yield, of tone or luminousness — all these things contri-
bute to, and are a part of, Etching's especial quality
and especial delight.

A comparison between Lithography and Etching in
particular — putting other mediums aside — leads to
further reflections. Lithography lacks the relief of
etched work. " You can't have grey and black lines "^
— a skilled etcher says to me, who enjoys Lithogra})hy
as well as Etching, and sometimes practises it — "you
can't have grey and black lines, in that the printing
of a lithogi-aph is surface-printing, and every mark
upon the stone prints equally black. Therefore for
gi-ey work in Lithography, you must have a grain
upon the stone — or on the transfer-paper — that your
drawing is made on."" And he adds, " Whatever can
be done upon a lithogi'aphic stone, can be done with a
much higher quality upon a plate." And the soft gi'ey
line, he says, when got upon the stone — " well, if that
is what you want, in a soft-ground etching it can be
got much better."

As to Me/zotint again, to compare the quality of a
fine mezzotint from copper, with any quality that is
obtainable in stone, would, generally, be absurd. We
are brought back, however, to that which is Litho-
graphy's especial virtue and convenience — it gives the



autographic quality of the pencil drawing, of the chalk
drawing, of the drawing that is washed.

When, in these last words, I tried to indicate Litho-
graphy's natural limits, and said, practically, that its
main function was to produce " battalions "" where ordi-
nary drawing must produce but "single spies," I said
.nothing that need encourage readers to suppose that
its process lay perfectly at the command of every
draughtsman, and that the first-comer, did he know
well how to draw, would get from the lithographic
stone every quality the stone could yield. And this
being so, it can surprise no one if in a chapter on the
Revival of Lithography I give conspicuous place to the
young men who have really fagged at it, rather than
to the possibly more accomplished, the certainly more
famous artists who have drawn just lately on the tracing-
paper, oftener than not in complimentary recognition
of the fact that now a hundred years have passed since
Alois Senefelder invented the method which, half a
century later, Hulmandel did something to perfect.

Mr. C. H. Shannon — pre-eminently noticeable among
these younger men — has been discussed already. We
will look now at the work of another of them — Mr.
Will Ilothensteiii, whose mind, whose hand-work, is
conspicuously unlike Mr. Shannon's, in that, though he
can be romantic, he can scarcely be jioetic. A vivid
realism is bis characteristic, and, with that vivid
realism, romance, phantasy, caprice — either or all —
may find themselves in company; but poetry, hardly.
Mr. Rothenstein — a.s there is some reason, perhaps, for


telling the collector — is not only young, but extremely
young. His series of Oxford lithographs were wrought,
most of them, when he was between twenty and two-
and -twenty years old. It was an audacious adventure,
with youth for its excuse. For this set of Oxford
portraits was to be the abstract of the Oxford of a
day. In it, Professors and Heads of Houses are — men
who for perhaps a generation remain in their place —
but in it, too, are athletes, engaging undergi-aduates,
lads whose achievements may become a tradition, but
whose places know them no more. The first part of
the "Oxford Characters'"' — that is the proper name
of it — appeared in June 1893. In it, is the portrait
of that gi-eat Christ Church boating man, W. L.
Fletcher, and a portrait of Sir Henry Acland, for
which another more august-looking rendering of the
same head and figure was after a while substituted.
Asrain, there is an admirable vision of Max Mviller —
Mr. Rothenstein's high-water mark, perhaps, in that
which he might probably suppose to be the humble art
of likeness-taking.

Quite outside the charmed Oxford life are the sub-
jects of some of Mr. Rothenstein's generally piquant
portraits. There is the portrait of Emile Zola, for
instance. I never saw the man. This may or may
not be a terre-a-terre view of him. Most probably it
is. But certainly the face, with its set lips and hollow
cheeks, is cleverly rendered, though in such rendering
we may fancy not so much the author of the Faute de
VAhhe Mouret and of the Page cT Amour, as the author



of Nana and of Le Ventre de Paris. Again, there is a
portrait, at once refined and forcible, of that great
gentleman, path-breaking novelist, and dainty con-
noisseur, Edmond de Goncourt, elderly, but with fires
unquenched in the dark, piercing eyes, and the great
decoration, so to say, of snow-white hair. Then again,
the pretty, pleasing lady, the fresh young thing with
her big bonnet — the lady seen full-face, her lips dra^vn
so tenderly. Such flesh and blood as hers, had the
Millament of Congi-eve. If sometimes in them the
anatomy of the figures is expressed insufficiently, these
works are at least executed with well-acquired know-
ledge of the effects to which Lithography best lends
itself. It can escape no one that, whatever be their
faults, the artist utters in them a note that is
his own.

To trace, with fairness, the revival of Lithogi-aphy,
even in England only, it should be mentioned that a
generation after the achievements of Samuel Prout —
his records of architecture in Flanders and in Germany
— and the somewhat overrated performances of Hard-
ing, the members of the Hogarth Sketching Club made
one night, at the house of Mr. Way, the elder — the
date was the 15th of December, 1874 — a set of draw-
ings on the stone. They must be rare, now. Indeed
the only copy I have seen was that shown to me at the
printing-h<juse in Wellington Street. One of the best
was Charles Green's drawing of two iiuii — ostlers, both
of them, or of ostler rank — one ol" tlicin iigliliiig his

pipe. The hand is excellently modelled : the light and



shade of the whole subject has crispness and vigour.
Sir James Linton contributed a Coriolanus subject, in
something more than outline, though not fully ex-
pressed — and yet it is beautifully drawn. Mr. Coke
sent a Massacre of the Innocents, classic and charming
in contour; while to look at the Sir Galahad of Mr.
E. J. Gregory is to recall to mind completely the great
Romantic Gregory of that early day.

In the Paris Exhibition of Lithographs and in that
at Mr. Dunthorne's, there have figured a group of sub-
jects done lately by well - known Academicians and
others, and printed — some of them with novel effects
— by or under the close direction of Mr. Goulding,
that famous printer of etchings, who now, it seems,
has the laudable ambition of rivalling, as a printer of
lithographs, the great house of Way. He has his own
methods. The original woi'k is of extremely various
quality. Much of it was produced somewhat hurriedly.
I do not mean that the drawings were done rapidly,
or that it would have been wrong if they had been ;
for, obviously, the rapid drawing of the capable is
often as fine as the slowest, and has the interest of a
more urgent message. I mean that they were done, for
the most part, by those not versed, as yet, in such
secrets as Lithography possesses. Yet, coming often
from artists of distinction, many of them have merits.
Not much is finer than a girl's head, by Mr. Watts.
It is mostly " in tone ; " and it is scarcely too much to
say of it that it is strong as anything of Leonardo's —

as anything of Holbein's, one might as easily declare,



did not Holbein*'s name suggest, along with strength,
a certain austerity which ]Mr. Watts mostly avoids.
There is a gi'aceful figure-drawing by Loi'd Leighton,
who was interested in the new movement, but who
was far too sensible to set vast store by what — as I
remember that he wi-ote to tell me — was the only
■lithographic drawing he had ever executed. There
are strong studies by Sargent — rather brutal perhaps
in light and shade — of male models, whose partial
nudity there is little to render interesting.

We are brought back then to the work of artists not
Academicians at all — men some of them comparatively
young in years, but older in a faithful following of the
lines on which the craft of Lithography most properly
moves. There is Mr. C. J. Watson, for instance. The
personal note — which, I cannot conceal it, I esteem most
of all, and most of all nmst revel in — the personal note
may be, with him, a little wanting ; but thorough crafts-
man he undeniably is. And by Mr. Oliver Hall, one
of the most delightful of our younger etchers, who
as an etcher has been treated in his place, there is a
vision of some gicv sweeping valley — Weivikydalc — with
trees only in middle distance, or in the remote back-
ground. In it, and perhaps even more especially in that
quite a<lmirable lithograj)h, The Kdgc of the Moor,
we recognise that wav of looking at the world which
we know in the etchings ; but the intelligence and
sensitiveness of the artist have suffered him, or led
him rather, to modify the work : to pro})erly adapt

it to the newer nicdiniii. The Edge of the Moor



is, I have inijilied, quite masterly ; and then again
there is a tree-study in which Mr. Hall recalls those
broad and massive, yet always elegant sketches made
by the great Cotman, in the latest years, generally, of
a life not too prolonged.

Again, among fine lithographs exhibited or not
exhibited, there is, by Mr. Raven Hill, Tlic Oyster-
Barroxv — a marvellously vivid, faithful study of " Over
the Water " (or of Dean's Yard, it may be) by night
— and the equally momentary, spontaneous vision of
TTie Bahy, with the rotundity of Boucher, and more
than the expressiveness of the late Italian : a baby lost,
one must avow, to all angelic dreams, and set on carnal
things. Perhaps Mr. George Thomson's finest litho-
graph remains the Brentford Eyot, though there is
charm of movement in at least one figure-study. By
Mr. Charles Sainton there is a luxurious head of just
the type one might expect from the author of silver-
points promptly seductive and popular. Mr. Walter
Sickert's work, whether you like it or not, at least has,
visibly, its source in personal observation and deliberate

By M. Theodore Roussel there are a whole group of
lithographs, dainty and delightful, exquisite and fresh
— with so much of his own in them, as well as some-
thing, of course, of Mr. Whistler's. By the side of his
Scene on the River — a quaint Battersea or Chelsea bit,
I take it — j)lace one of his supple nudities, and against
his supple nudity place his Opera Cloak. The man is

a born artist — he not only draws but sees, sees with



refinement and distinction. And there must come a
time when Roussel's work will be appreciated far more


By Mr. Jacomb Hood there is a spirited elderly
man's portrait, and an Idyll — a Classical or an Arca-
dian pa,s de quatre — of singular, unwonted charm. By
Mr. Corbett, the semi-classical landscape painter, there
is a nude study — a torso, magnificently modelled. By
Mr. Solomon Solomon there is a Venus, correct in
draughtsmanship of course; nor wanting in dramatic
quality, for it is not the undressed woman of too many
students, but Aphrodite herself — "Venus, a sa proie
attachee.'"' And lastly — since I cannot merely cata-
logue — there is Mr. Anning Bell, who has bestowed on
us enjoyable designs — book-plates hois ligne indeed,
so charming are they in their reticence and grace
and measured beauty. In Lithogi-aphy, we may be
thankful for the Tanagi-a-like grace of his Dancing
Girl. But "Why Tanagra?" am I asked. Because
Classical without austerity : provokingly Modern, and
yet endowed with the legitimate and endless fascina-
tion of Style.

And now, to end with, it seems julvisable to say
something on the very practical matter of the acquisi-
tion of lithographs by the collector, and on their cost.
The money value of the lithograph is most uncertain.
When the lithograph aj)pcars in a ])()j)uliu- niaga/ine
— the actual lithograph, rcmLMiilxT ; no iiitTcly j)h()to-
graphic vciiroduction of it — it is, on publication, valued

at a couple of shillings, or at a shilling, or, as in the



extraoi-dinary case of publication in the extinct Whirl-
zvhid, even at a })enny. The prices I have named are,
most of them at least, absurd ; but on the other hand
the dealer's price— sometimes the original artist's price
— for an impression, is wont to be excessive. A litho-
graph can be printed — as magazine issue suffices to show
— in considerable numbers. Nothing restricts it as the
ordinary unsteeled etching is restricted : still less, as the
dry-point is restricted. There is no reason, except the
scantiness of the public demand, why it should not be
issued in an edition almost as large as that of the
average book. Nor is the printing costly. Nor has
the drawing on stone or transfer-paper involved any-
thing more of labour, skill, or genius, than is involved
in the preparation of a single chapter of a fine novel —
of a single paragraph in a fine short story. Yet while
the novel sells probably at six shillings, and the whole
short story (and other short stories along with it)
sells, very likely, at three-and-sixpence, the impression
of a lithogi-aph — unless, as I have said before, it be
published in a magazine — is sold seldom for less than
a guinea. The Fine Ai"t Society asked something like
three guineas apiece, I think, for the lithographs of
Mr. Whistler, when it exhibited them. I mentioned
the circumstance to a man who was interested in the
question, both as artist and connoisseur. " You do not
want to vulgarise lithographs," he said, " by issuing too
many impressions." I wonder how many impressions
of Gray's " Elegy " have been issued ? And how many

of the "Ode to Duty.^" And I wonder whether Words-



worth and Gray have been "vulgarised," because the
fruit of theii- genius has been widely diffused ?

About five shillings seems a reasonable price for a
lithogi-aph issued in our time. AVhen draughtsmen
(and their publishers) realise this, they will confer a
boon upon themselves, and will do no injury what-
.€ver to us who admire them. And until they do
realise it, the collecting of lithographs will go on only
within a limited circle — a circle of rich people, possibly,
but most likely idle, and therefore probably, at bottom,
unappreciative. Indeed such a circle cannot be said
to consist, truly, of " collectors." They will be " pur-
chasers," rather — which is a different affair.




Though when this volume was first planned, it was
supposed that in its regular course it might embrace a
chapter upon Woodcuts, mature consideration and the
progress of the work revealed to me the undesirableness
of treating either by my own or by a more qualified hand
the theme of Woodcuts, at any important length ; and in
adding here a Note on certain examples of that ancient
art, it is convenient that I should say plainly why the
matter is left to an Appendix.

First, then, treatment exhaustive, or adequate, could
only have been supplied by some one other than myself :
my own knowledge of Woodcuts being merely that of an
outsider who cannot withhold a measure of interest from
any department of Art. To have invited the continued
presence of an expert — an enthusiast in the particular
thing — would have been at least to deprive the book of
that unity of sentiment which comes of undivided author-
ship, and which even in a work of this sort may conceiv-
ably 1)0 a benefit : moreover, although a comj)lete Guide
to Old Prints must include of necessity many words about
woodcuts, it was doubtful whether the sulycct of " Fine
Prints" involved even a mention of then). I mean, it
might be argued, plausibly, that woodcuts, however fine
in their design -and the design of the giant Diiror was
given to some of them — are in the very nature of tilings
scarcely " fine " in execution. To say that tlie best recall
the utterance of noble sentiment by rough and uncouth
tongue, is not for a moment to minimise their sterling

241 u


wortli. Lastly, too, the collectors of them — in England
at least — are scanty in the extreme. When — one may ask
— do they appear at Sotheby's ? As objects of research,
they seem hopelessly out of fashion. It may be that they
had their day when only the Past was thought interesting.
But it has been one of the objects of this book to acknow-
ledge specially the interest of more modern achievement,
and not to call contemporary genius only "talent," until
it is contemporary no longer, and, being dead — and dead
long since — may be accorded its due.

But I should like to tell the beginner in the study
of prints one or two quite elementary things — as, for
instance, that the best and the most numerous of old
woodcuts are German ; that not a few of the earlier
masters of copperplate engraving carried out upon the
wood-block certain of their designs ; that in the days
of Bewick the ai-t had a certain revival, finding itself
well adapted — in book illustration at all events — to the
rendering of Bewick's homely and rustic themes. And
so one might go on — but after all, book illustration is no
part of one's theme. Let it just be mentioned about
Bewick — before we leave the P^nglish woodcuts for the
earlier masters — that the rarest and in some respects the
most important of his works (not, I think, the most fas-
cinating) is the piece known as the Chillingham Bull.
When only a few impressions had been taken from it, the
original block split. Hence the print's scarcity ; and in
its scarcity we see in part at least the cause of its attrac-

A passage in the last annual report made by Mr.
Sidney Colvin to the Trustees of the British Museum — in
his capacity as Keeper of the Prints — reminds me of a
splendid gift made lately to the nation by the munificence
of Mr. William Mitchell : a gift which the possession of
money alone, and of a generous intention, could not have



empowered him to make ; only deep knowledge, and
real diligence in the art of collecting, made the thing
possible. Through Mr. Mitchell'-s gift thei'e passes into
the store-house of the Department of Prints this connois-
seur's collection of German and other woodcuts, including
a series of those by Albert Diirer, which is almost com-
plete, and "quite unrivalled," Mr. Colvin says, "in quality
and condition." The whole array includes 1290 early
woodcuts, chiefly, as will be seen, German, and consti-
tuted for the most part as follows: — 104 by anonymous
German artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries ;
151 single cuts by Albert Diirer, together with the Little
Passion (set of j^roofs), the Life of the Virgin (first state,
without text), and the Great Passion, the Life of the
A'irgin, and the Apocalypse (all with Latin text, edition
of 1511); 63 by Hans Schaufelein, including two sets of
proofs of two series of the Passion ; 1 8 by Hans Spring-
inklee, including 14 proofs of illustrations to " Hortulus
Animae ;" 7 by Wolfgang Huber; .')'() by Hans Baldung ;
7 by Johann Wechtlin ; 19 by Hans Scbald Beham ; 43 by
Lucas Cranach, including an unique impression of the St.
George, printed in gold on a blue ground ; fiO by Albert
Altdorfer; 40 by Hans Burgkmair ; 313 by or attributed
to Hans Holbein; 9 by Urs Graf; 12 by Heinrich Holz-
niiillcr ; 14 by J. von Calcar ; 5 by Jost Amman; 11 by
Anton von Worms ; \G by Lucas van Leydcn ; 6 attributed
to Geofl'roy Troy ; one attributed to Marie de Medicis ;
the large view of Venice by Jacopo de I^arbarj, first state ;
9 by Niccolo Holdrini ; 5 by I.H. with the bird.

An insj)('cti<tn of this collection alone, in the Museinn
Print Kooni, constitutes, at first hand, an introtiuction
to the study of an ancient, (piaint, and pregnant art.

So luucli I written when there came to me a note
fnnii Mr. (). Gutekunst, curiously confirming, on the whole,
lli<- view that I had taken as to the sinall place filled by


Woodcuts, generally, in the scheme of the modern collec-
tor. It is not, however, so much on this account that I
print the note here, as because it contains one or two
particulars — especially as to money value — not named
by me, and which may be of interest. "The history of
Woodcuts," says Mr. O. Gutekunst — instructing my ignor-
ance — " begins, as you know, practically with printed
books in which the woodcuts took the place of the minia-
tures, &c., in Manuscripts. During almost the whole of the
Fifteenth Century the Woodcut was thus confined to illus-
tration, and belongs far more to the bibliophile than to the

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Online LibraryFrederick WedmoreFine prints → online text (page 15 of 16)