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etcher, and, as an original etcher, with well-nigh per-

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feet command of technique^ he registers the daintiest of
individual impressions of the world. That his field
as an observer at first hand is limited, is certainly
true. Coast subjects please him best. We have no
finer draughtsman of low-lying land, of a scene with a
low horizon, of a great expanse of mud and harbour
deserted by the tide — all their simplicity, even uncome-
liness of theme, made almost poetic. Low Tide and
the Evening Star ; Evening, Bo.sham ; Sleeping till the
Flood, are all, among subjects of this order, prints that
should be secured where it is possible — and where the
accumulation of modern etchings is not an incon-
venience. In Stourbridge Canal and in Wrought NaiU
— both of them finely felt, finely drawn bits of the
ragged, sordid " Black Country "" — we have desirable
instances of Mr. Short's dealings with another class
of theme. If you want him in a more playful mood,
take Quarter Boys — a quite imaginative yet gamesome
vision of urchins looking out to sea from the Belfry of
the church of Ilye.

C. J. Watson has for many years now been etching
persistently, and been etching well. But he has not
got, and could not perhaps quite easily get, beyond
the learned simplicity of Mill Bridge, Bosham, done in
1888. It is a sketch with singular unity of impression
— or rather with that unity of impression which is not
so singular perhaps when the work remains a sketch.
St. Etienne-du-Mont — a theme from which one would
have thought that Mr. Watson would have been warned

off, remembering how, once and for ever, it had been

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dealt with by the genius of Meryon — is, doubtless, an
accurate enough portrait, but the individuality — where ?
And without individuality, such work is an architec-
tural drawing. This St. Etknne bears date 1890; but
since 1890 Mr. Watson has done finer things — his
strong and capable hand stirred to expression by a
nature not perhaps very sensitive to every effect of
beauty, but feeling the interest of solid workmanship
and something of the charm of the picturesque. Ponte
did Cavallo has daintiness, and some yet more recent
work in Central Italy and Sicily — with architecture
generally as the basis of its interest — may fall reason-
ably enough within the province of collectors who can
afford to accumulate — who can afford to add well to
well and vineyard to vineyard.

Of the remaining English etchers of our time. Colonel
Goff', Mr. D. Y. Cameron, and Mr. Oliver Hall are
those whom it will be best to notice. Mr. Macbeth,
Mr. Herkomer, Mr. Pennell, Mr. W. H. May, Mr.
Mempes, Mr. Raven Hill, Mr. Haig, Miss Bolingbroke,
Mrs. Stanhope Forbes — others besides — have brought
out i)rints of which the possession is pleasant ; but it
is, I suppose, the three men whom I named earlier who
by reason of combined (juality and (juantity of " out-
put"" most deserve the collector"'s serious consideration.

Of these three, Goff — a retired Guardsman, but no

more really an amateur than Seymour Haden — is, I

take it, the best known. Actual popularity he has

been, for an etcher, wonderfully near lo atbiining.

He may even now attain it. Much of the excellence

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of his work is easily intelligible ; his point of view,
though always artistic, is one that can be reached,
often, by the ordinary spectator of his prints. Hence,
his relatively large accejitance — an agi'eeable circum-
stance which I should be glad to consider was owing
exclusively to the skill that is certainly likewise his.
Colonel Goffs sympathies are broad ; his subjects
admirably varied ; and the vivacity of his artistic
temperament allows him to attack each new plate
with new interest. He is almost without mannerism
in treatment, and of that which })resents itself to his
gaze on his journey through the world, there is singu-
larly little which he is not able artistically to tackle.
Not (juite the architectural di-aughtsman that C. J.
Watson is, he yet can indicate tastefully the architec-
ture of church or cottage or city house. His sym-
pathies are with the new as much as with the old,
and that is in part because to him a building is not
only, or chiefly, a monument with historical associa-
tions; it is, above all, an excuse and a justification
for an arrangement on the copper, of harmonious and
intricate line. Very successfully he has dealt with
landscape. Is it the seaboard or the town that he
depicts, he can people the place with figures vivacious
and rightly displayed. I suppose that he has executed
by this time scarcely less than a hundred plates.
Summer Storm in the Itchen Valley remains the most
popular, and would therefore prove, in an auction-room,
the least inexpensive. But, among the pure etchings.

Pine Trees, Christ Church, and Norfolk Bridge, Shore-
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ham^ and the extremely delicate little print of the Chain
Pier, Brighton^ and Low Tide, Mouth of'tlie Hampshire
Avon — with its own dreary but impressive beauty — are
to my mind distinctly more desirable, and should be
possessed if possible ; whilst among the dry-points (and
a dry-point can never be common) I would place highest,
perhaps, the peaceful little Itchcn Abbas Bridge.

Intricate in arrangement of line, the work of Colonel
Goff is in actual workmanship less elaborate than that
of Mr. D. Y. Cameron, who, though now and again,
as in that which remains almost his masterpiece —
Border Towers — a pure sketcher in Etching, much
oftener devotes himself to work solid, substantial,
deliberate rather in fulness of realisation than in eco-
nomy of means. He is a fine engi'aver on the copper;
addicted to massive airangements of shadow and light
— giving to these, wherever there is any fair excuse for
doing so, a little of the Celtic weirdness Mr. Strang
bestows upon the figure. Glamour, just a touch of
wi/ardy, is in the Pahue, Stirling CaMle ; und not in
that only. A master, already, of the arrangement of
light and shade — a master, already, of technique —
Mr. Cameron (who has studied Rembrandt so much,
and, I should j)resume, Mcryon) is finding his own path.
Indeed, the Border Towers shows that all that he has
learnt from Rembrandt he h;is made his own by this
time. How else could he have acc()mj)lishe(] what is
certainly one of the most comj)lete and significant
suggestions of" Landscaj)e wronghl in owv day! A

Rembrandt Farm is earlier. It is extremely clever,

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but, as its very name might lead one to conjecture, it
is more distinctly imitative. Mr. Cameron was not a
master at the moment when he wrought the Flower
Market^ because if he did not make in that the iiTeme-
diable mistake of choosing the wrong medium — printer's
ink where one"'s cry, first and last, is naturally for
"colour"" — he made at all events the mistake that
Mr. Whistler is incapable of making (as his etching
of The Garden shows), the mistake of working with a
heavy hand, when what was wanted was a treatment of
" touch and go," as it were — the very lightest coquetry
of line. Occasionally Mr. Cameron has failed ; occa-
sionally his industry has resulted in the commonplace ;
but he is a young man still ; the collector must take
account of him ; his may hereafter be a very dis-
tinguished name ; and meanwhile — now even — the col-
lector of good Modern Etching is bound to put into his
folios a few of Mr. Cameron's always sterling prints.

Mr. Oliver Hall — a young man also, and one who
paints in water-colour as well as etches — can hardly
have done as many plates as Mr. Cameron, yet; and
in none of them, free sketches of landscape — breezy, im-
mediate, well-disposed — has Mr. Hall been so unwise
as to emulate the almost Meryon-Iike elaboration not
inappropriate to at all events the architectural subjects
of Cameron. Oliver Hall's is delightful and mascu-
line work. After a very short period of immaturity,
during Avhich the influence of Seymour Haden was
that which he most disclosed, his Trees on the Hillside

and A Windy Day testified to an extraordinary flexi-

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bility and force. The lines of " foliage," as people call
it — it is the tree, however, rather than the leaf — the
lines of the tree-form, however intricate, did not elude
his point. Afterwards, Angerton Moss : Windy Day,
and the Edge of the Forest, with its gust-blown trees
and threatening sky, and later still. King's Lynn J'rom
a Distance, came to assure us that here was an artist
getting at the heart of Nature — a master who could
bring before us a broad poetic vision of natural effects.

Mr. Alfred East, Mr. Mempes, Mr. Jacomb Hood,
Mr. Percy Thomas, Mr. J. P. Heseltine, Mr. W. H.
May, Sir Charles Robinson, Elizabeth Armstrong (Mrs.
Stanhope Forbes), and Minna Bolingbroke (Mrs. C. J.
Watson) ought not to go unmentioned even in a book
which has a wider field than " Etching; in Eny-land "" — in
which some of them are named less baldly.

The inexpert purchaser may like to know what is the

sort of price asked generally by its producer, or by

the dealer, or the Painter-Etchers'' Society — to which

the print may be intrusted — for a new etching. I am

here on ticklish ground ; but I nmst make bold to

answer, speaking broatlly, " Far too much." Later on —

before I have (juite done with the subject of the Litho-

graj)h — I shall return to the charge, on this matter of

solid cash. liut each class of work stands, in the matter

of price, on its own j)eculiar footing; and here we talk,

not of litliograplis, but of etchings and dry-points.

'I'lic wholly exceptional genius, approved by Time,

and happily yet with iis to hfuelit by the result

of his fame, may be j)ai-(loncd for asking twelve

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guineas for one of his most recent etchings. If he
gets it, his rewards are delightfully contrasted with
those of Meryon — who w as grateful when an old
gentleman in the French War Office gave him a franc
and a half for an impression of the Ahside de Notre
Dame, which, hecause of its beauty and of its peculiar
and rare " state," is worth to-day about a hundred and
fifty pounds. But we are not all men of exceptional
genius ; and, in the case of etched work, which, without
deterioration, may be issued to the number of fifty or
a hundred or a couple of hundred impressions, is it
wise to seek to anticipate what after all may prove not
to be the verdict of the world? — is it wise to limit the
issue so very artificially by the simple, I will not say
the gi'eedy process of asking two, three, and four
guineas for an impression of a good but ordinary etch-
ing ? A good etching, produced by a contemporary
artist, could, (pite to the benefit of the etcher, be sold
for a guinea. If the etcher has not time to print it
himself, or is not, at heart, artist enough to wish to do
so, let him send it to a good printer, with definite in-
structions how to print it, and, on the average, each
impression may cost him half-a-crown. Then, of course,
if he sells it through a dealer, there will be something
for the dealer — perhaps five shillings. Say about four-
teen shillings will be left for the artist. The fee is
insignificant — but, if you once interest the public, it
may ])e almost indefinitely multiplied. The price that
is prohibitive to the ordinary man of taste — the price

that prevents him, not, of course, from buying an

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etching here and there, but from forming any con-
siderable collection of etchings — that, if the artist only
knew it, is the gi-eatest possible disadvantage to him-
self. He is concerned for his dignity; his amour-propre^
he sometimes says. But an etching — like a book — is
a printed thing; and the author of a book conceives,
and rightly, that his amour-propre is wounded rather
by absence or nan'ow restriction of sale than by the
moderation — the lo^v^less, if you will — of the price at
which his book is issued.

Now a drj'-point and an ordinary etching stand on
different gi-ound in this respect. Both are printed
things, indeed ; but whilst the etching will, according
to its degree of force or delicacy, yield, without " steel-
ing,"" from fifty to four hundred impressions — and
generally c^uite as near the four hundred as the fifty —
a dry-point will inevitably deteriorate after a dozen
or twenty impressions, and may even deteriorate after
three or four. Each impression, then, of a dry-point
that is desirable at all, has its own peculiar value — its
rarity to begin with (unless you work it to death), and
its unlikeness to its neighbour. I blame no good artist,
when he has made a good dry-point, for asking two or
three or four, or .six or seven, guineas for it. I do not
as work of art — as ])roviding me with joy — esteem it
any more highly than the etching. The etching, which
I ought to ac(juire at a guinea, may give me the gi'atifi-
cation of a ^V^)r(lswol•thian poem. It may bo — happy
chance for every one concemed if it is! — as directly

inspired as the Ancient Mitr'uur : it may be a thing

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conceived and wrought in one of those "states of the
atmosphere " which (it is Coleridge himself who says it)
are "addressed to the soul." Do I underrate it? Not
a jot. But I discern that, like the Ancient Mariner,
it can be multiplied in large numbers. The dry-point
cannot.

Even at the risk of beinsr charged with a certain
repetition of my argument, I shall return — as the
reader has been warned already — it will be somewhere
in the chapter on modern Lithography — to this ques-
tion of the too extravagant price, and therefore of
the necessarily too restricted sale, of the contemporary
print.



138



CHAPTER VII

Recent Interest in Martin Schongauer — A graceful
Primitive — Diirer the exponent of the fuller Renais-
sance — Some principal Diirers — Their prices at the
Fisher Sale— Gennan "Little Masters"— The Orna-
ment of Aldegrever — The range of the Behams —
Altdorfer — Other Little Masters — And Lucas Van
Leijden.

Among the least reprehensible, and also among the
least widely diffused, of the recent fads of the collector,
there is to be reckoned a certain increase in the con-
sideration accorded to the work of Martin Schongauer.
If Martin Schongauer s ingenious and engaging plates
— naive in conception, and, in execution, dainty — came
ever to be actually preferred to the innumerable ])ieces
which attest the potency and the variety of Dl'irer, that
preference might possibly be explained, but could never
be justified. As it is, however, no reasonable admirer
of "the great Albert" can begrudge to one who was
after all to some extent bis predecessor, and not in all
things his inferior, the honoin-able place which, after
many generations ol' coinparative neglect, that prede-
cessor has lately taken, and now seems likely to bold.
Schongauer, even more it may be than Albert Durer
himself, was, as it were, a j)atb-breaker. The interest

of the Primitive belongs to him ; anil the interest of

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the simple. Some of his reli<;ious conceptions wei'e
expressed in prettier form — and form on that account
more readily welcomed — than any that was taken on
by the conceptions of the giant mind that even now
draws us upon our pilgrimage to Nuremberg, as Goethe
draws us to Weimar. The Virgin of Schongauer is
more acceptable to the senses than the average Virgin
of Dlirer, whose children, on the other hand (see
especially the delightful little print, The Three Genii^
Bartsch 66), have the larger lines and lustier life of the
full Renaissance, A touch of what appeals to us as a
younger naivete, and a touch of what appeals to us as
elegance, are especially discernible in the earlier artist's
work ; and that work too, or nuich of it, has often the
additional attractiveness of exceptional scarcity. Like-
wise, it is to most of us less familiar. But when all
these elements of attraction have been allowed for,
the genius of Albert Dlirer — so much deeper and so
much broader, at once more philosophical and more
dramatic, and expressed by a craftsmanship so much
more changeful and more masterly — the genius of
Albert Dlirer dominates. If our allegiance has wavered,
if we have been led astray for a period, by Martin Schon-
gauer himself, it may be, or by somebody less worthily
illustrious, we shall return, wearily wise, to the author
of the Melancliolia and the Nativity, of the Knight of
Death and of llie Virgin hy tJic City Wall. To study
long and closely the work of the original engi'avers, is
to come, sooner or later, cjuite certainly to the conclu-
sion that there are two artists standing above all the

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DURER: THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

rest, and that it was theirs, })i-e-eminently, to express,
in the greatest manner, the greatest mind. One of
these two artists, of course, is Rembrandt. And the
other is Dlirer.

Adam Bartsch, working at Vienna, in the beginning
of this centmy, upon those monumental books of refer-
ence which, as authorities upon their wide subject, are
even now only partially displaced, catalogued about a
hundred and eight metal plates as Albert Durer''s con-
tribution to the sum of original engraving. The Rev.
C. H. Middleton-Wake, working in 1893 — and profit-
ing by the investigations, all of them more or less
recent, of Passavant and G. W. Reid, of Thausing,
Durers biogi-apher, and Mr. Koehler, the Keeper of
the Prints at Boston, Massachusetts — has catalogued
one hundred and three. The number — not so con-
siderable as Schongauer's, by about a couple of score —
does not, at first thought, seem enormous for one the
greater portion of whose life was given to original
engi-aving ; but then, it must be remembered, Dl'irer's
life, though not exactly a short, was scarcely a long
one. And, again, whatever may have been the pro-
cesses he enn)loyecl, and even if, as Mr. Middleton-
Wake sup])oses, etched work, as well as l)urin-work,
helped him greatly along his way, the elaboration of
his labour was never lessened ; the order of complete-
ness he strove for and attained had nothing in conimon
with the coiii{)Ieteness of the sketch. His German
pertinjicity and dogged joy in work for mere work's

sake, never j)ermitted him to dismiss an endeavour

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until lie had carried it to actual realisation. Each
piece of his is not so much a page as a volume. The
creations of his art have the lastingness and the finality
of a consinmnate I>iterature, and of those three mate-
rial thintrs with which such Literature has been
compared —

" marbre, onyx, email," —

as the })hrase goes, of one who wrought on phrases as
Cellini on the golden vase, and Diirer on the little
sheet of burnished copper.

Of the hundred and three prints which, in the Fitz-
William Museum, Mr. Middleton-Wake placed in what
he believes to be their chronological order — many, of
course, their author himself dated, but many afford room
for the exercise of critical ingenuity and care — sixteen
belong to the series known as "The Passion upon
Copper," which is distinguished by that title from the
series of seven-and-thirty woodcuts known generally as
" The Little Passion." The " Passion upon Copper,"
executed between the year 1507 and the year 1513, are
j)ronounced "unequal in their execution," "not compar-
ing favourably with Durer"'s finer prints," and " engraved
for purj:)oses of sale." Now most of Diirer's work was
" engraved for purposes of sale " — that is, it was meant
to be sold — but what the critic may be supposed to
mean, in this case, is, that the designs were due to no
inspiration ; the execution, to no keen desire. Four
much later pieces — including two St. Christophers —

are spoken of with similar disparagement. I am

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DURER: THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

unable to perceive the justice of the reproach when it
is apphed to the Virgin xvith tlie Child in SxcaddUng
Clothes — a print of which it is remarked that it, Hke
certain others, is "without any particular charm or
dignity ; being taken quite casually from burgher-life,
and only remarkable for the soft tone of the engraving."
No doubt the Virgin zc'ith the Child in Sicaddling Clothes
'is inspired by the human life — and that was " burgher-
life " necessarily — which Diirer beheld ; and it is none
the worse for that. It is not one of the very finest of
the Virgins, but it is simple, natural, healthy, and it is
characteristic, as I seem to see, not only in its technique,
but in its conception. What more fascinating than the
little bit of background, lavished there, so small and yet
so telling ? — a little stretch of shore, with a town placed
on it, and gi-eat calm water : a reminiscence, it may be,
of Italy — a decor from Venice — a bit of distance too
recalling the distance in the Melancholia itself. But we
must pass on, to consider briefly two or three points in
Diirer's work : points which we shall the better illus-
trate by reference to the gi'eater masterpieces.

The year 1497 was reachetl before the master of
Nuremberg affixed a date to any one of his plates.
'Hiat is the not (juite satisfiictory com})()sition, curiously
ugly in the particular realism it affects — and yet, in a
measure, interesting — A Group of Four Naiad Women.
'J^ausing doul)ts, or does more than doubt, the origi-
nality of the design. Mr. MiddlctoM-Wake holds that
in execution, at least, it shows distinct mlvance upon

l^iirer's earlier work, and amongst earlier work he in-

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dudes no less than three-and-twenty of the undated
plates : putting the Ravislier first, with 1494 as its
probable year, and putting last before the Group of
Naked Wornen, a piece which he maintains to be the
finest of the earlier prints, the Virg^'m and Child with
the Moiikqj.

Looking along the whole line of Diirer prints, in what
he deems to be their proper sequence, Mr. Middleton-
Wake observes, as all observe indeed, wonderful varia-
tions — differences in execution so marked that at first
one might hesitate to assign to the same master, pieces
wrought so differently. He argues fully how their dis-
similarity is due "either to a marked progression in
their handling " or to an alteration in their actual
method. For quick perception of such partly volun-
tary change, the student is refeiTed to an examination
of the Coat of Ariivi with the Skidl, the Coat of' Arms
with the Cock, the Adam and Eve, the St. Jerome, and
the Melancholia. The year 1503 was probably the date
of the two Coats of Arms ; the great print of the Adam
and Eve can*ies its date of " 1504 '^ ; the St. Jerome is
of 1512 ; the Melanclwlia of 1514. The practical point
established for the collector by such differences as are
here visible, and which a study of these particular ex-
amples by no means exhausts, is that he must most
carefully avoid the not unnatural error of judging an
impression of a Dl'irer print by its attainment or its
non-attainment of the standard established by some
other Dijrer print he knows familiarly already. The

aims technically were so very different, he nmst know

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DlTRER: THE "LITTLE MASTERS"

each print to say with any certainty — save in a few
most obvious cases — whether a given impression, that
seems good, is, or is not, desirable. The " silver-grey
tone,"" for example, so charming in one print, may be
unattainable in, or unsuitable to, another.

L'pon the question of the meaning of certain prints
of Dlirer, anv amount of ingenious, interesting conjee-
lure has been expended in the Past. One of Mr.
Stopford Brooke's sermons — I heard it preached, now
many years ago, in York Street — is a delightful
essav on the Melancholia. For suggestions as to
the allegorical meaning of The Knight of' Death, it
may be enough to refer the reader to Thausing (vol. ii.
page 225) and to Mrs. Heaton's Life of Dlirer (page
168). The Jealousy, Dlirer speaks of, in his Nether-
lands Diary, as a *' Hercules." The Knight and the
Lady, Thausing says, is one of those Dance of Death
pictures so common in the Middle Age. Of the Great
Fortune, Thausing holds that its enigmatical design,
with the landscape below, has direct reference to the
Swiss War of 14-99, and this we may agree with ; but,
explaining, it may be, too far, he writes in detail,
"The winged Goddess of Justice and Retribution
stands, smiling, on a globe ; carrying in one hand a


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