Georges Duplessis.

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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



FROM THE LIBRARY OF

BENJAMIN PARKE AVERY.



GIFT OF MRS. AVERY,

August, 1896.

Accessions No. h^>(ptL ^~ Class No.




\M*









THE WONDERS OF ENGRAVING.



mm*-{~ Qhucfimo c cr r




Autotype.

SAINT CHRISTOPHER.

/>w// the early Woodcut in the possession of Earl Spencer.
Frontispiece.]



THE



W N D E B S



OF



ENGEAVING



GEORGES DUPLESSIS.



ILLUSTRATED WITH TEN REPRODUCTIONS IN AUTOTYPE ;

AND THIRTY-FOUR WOOD-ENGRAVINGS,

BY P. SELLIER.




LONDON:

SAMPSON LOW, SON, AND MARSTON,

CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.

1871.



THE



W O N D E E S



OF



ENGEAVING



GEORGES DUPLESSIS.



ILLUSTRATED WITH TEN REPRODUCTIONS IN AUTOTYPE
AND THIRTY-FOUR WOOD-ENGRAVINGS,
BY P. SELLIER.




LONDON:

SAMPSON LOW, SON, AND MARSTON,

CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.

1871.




PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS,
STAMFOBD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.



NOTE.

The present volume is a translation of Les Mer-
veilles de la Gravure, by M. GEORGES DUPLESSIS,
which has already appeared in the well-known
Series now in course of publication by Messrs.
L. Hachette et Cie.

The author has made Engraving and Engravers
his special study ; his chapters on the Italian,
Flemish, German, and French schools will, we
think, be considered exhaustive ; and nothing can
be clearer than his account of the processes em-
ployed : but he has scarcely done justice to this
country many of our most illustrious names are
unnoticed, whilst others are brought into undue
prominence. This omission may, we hope, be
rectified by the publication of a separate volume
on English Engravers, which is evidently much
needed.

The translator need only add an earnest hope
that the present version of Les Merveilles de la
Grav^^,re may be acceptable to all lovers of this
important and deeply interesting branch of Art.

N. R. E. M.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

PAGE

THE ORIGIN OF ENGRAVING . i

CHAPTER II.

ENGRAVING IN ITALY. Engravers on Wood Nielli-
Copperplate Engraving at Florence, in the Northern
Cities, at Milan, Parma, Bologna, and Rome . . 5

CHAPTER III.

ENGRAVING IN SPAIN. Giuseppe Ribera and Francesco

Goya 74

CHAPTER IV.

ENGRAVING IN THE Low COUNTRIES. Engravers on
Wood in the i$th Century Early Engravers on
Metal Holland : Rembrandt, Ruysdael, and Paul
Potter Belgium : Rubens, Bolswert, Paul Pontius,
and Anthony Vandyck 82

CHAPTER V.

ENGRAVING IN GERMANY. Early Engravers on Wood
Maximilian's Engravers Engraving on Metal The
Master of 1466, Martin Schongauer and Albert Diirer 138



viii CONTENTS.



CHAPTER VI.

PAGE

ENGRAVING IN ENGLAND. Engraving on Wood W.
Caxton The Influence of Foreign Masters on English
Art Its Originality in the Eighteenth Century, and
its Influence on our Age . . . . . .182

CHAPTER VII.

ENGRAVING IN FRANCE. Engravers on Wood En-
gravers on Metal The School of Fontainebleau
Portrait-painters Nicolas Poussin and Jean Pesne
Charles Lebrun and Gdrard Audran The School of
Watteau Vignette Engravers The School of David 207

CHAPTER VIII.

PROCESSES. Engraving on Wood, Camaieu Copper-
plate Engraving Line Engraving, Etching, Dry
Point, Combination of Etching and Line Engraving,
Mezzotint, Aquatint, Chalk style, Engraving in Colour,
Physionotracy, Heliography or Photography Printing 308

INDEX OF ENGRAVERS' NAMES 331



ILLUSTRATIONS.



*SAINT CHRISTOPHER . . . From the early Wood-
cut (Frontispiece].

"CORONATION OF THE VIRGIN . Maso Finiguerra . 10

SAINT SEBASTIAN .... Niello . . .11

SIBYL AGRIPPINA .... Botticelli . . 18

VIRGIN AND CHILD . . . Mantegna . . 27

A YOUTH Campagnola . . 33

LUCRETIA Raimondi . . 57

A POET Ribera ... 75

THE CONDEMNED .... Goya ... 79

*ECCE HOMO L. van Leyden . 88

THE UYLENSPIEGEL ... 90

*JAN SYLVIUS Rembrandt . . 94

A LANDSCAPE .... 97

Two Cows Paul Potter . .103

*SHEEP AND GOATS . . . K. du Jardin . . 105

A CORNFIELD .... Ruysdael . . 107

COSTUME Goltzius . .113

SAINT CATHERINE .... Rubens . . .125

PORTRAIT OF SNYDERS . . . Vandyck. . .133

DANCE OF DEATH (after Holbein} H. Lutzelburger . 147

SAMSON AND THE LION . . Master 0/1466 . 149

*FLIGHT INTO EGYPT . M. Schongauer . 152

THE INFANT JESUS ... . . 154



ILL USTRA TIONS.







TAGS


*SAINT JEROME


. Albert Dilrer


1 60


VIRGIN AND INFANT JESUS .





I6 3


GERMAN COSTUME .


. Aldegrever .


171


A LADY OF BALE .


. W. Hollar .


176


*THE ROYAL EXCHANGE





177


PORTRAIT OF R. BAYFEILD .


IV. Faithorne


I8 7


MARRIAGE A LA MODE .


. W. Hogarth .


201


HENRI II


. Geoffroy Tory.


215


HEAD OF CHRIST .


Claude Mellan


239


CLAUDE DERUET .


. Jacques C allot


247


SUNRISE


. Claude Lorraine


251


TIME DISCLOSING TRUTH


. G. Audran, after






Nicolas Poussin


260


ARABESQUE ORNAMENT


. J. Lepautre .


280


A "COSTUME ....


. A. Watteau .


283



STUDIO OF A COPPER -PLATE

ENGRAVER Abraham Bosse . 313

THE MOUNTEBANK . . . Rembrandt . .316

VANITY J.Callot. . .317

A PORTRAIT Prince Rupert . 320

COPPER-PLATE ENGRAVING . . A. Bosse . . 327



* These Illustrations are reproduced by the Autotype process,
and printed by Messrs. CUNDALL and FLEMING under license
from the Autotype Company, Limited.




WONDERS OF ENGRAVING.



CHAPTER I.

THE ORIGIN OF ENGRAVING.

EFORE reviewing the various schools of En-
graving, and studying the growth of this art
in each separate country, it seems expedient to us
to recapitulate in a few words, the very diverse and
often contradictory opinions put forth concerning
its origin. By doing this, we shall avoid unneces-
sary repetition, and, without occupying ourselves
unduly with the purely archaeological question, we
can ascertain the characteristics of each school, ex-
amine the works worthy of attention executed in each
country, and enumerate the artists whom future gene-
rations will remember and judge. We must not
forget to say that we intend to occupy ourselves
solely with that kind of Engraving from which
impressions are taken ; and, purposely neglecting
ancient engraving, we commence our work only at

E



2 . WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

the period when, Printing having been discovered,
Engraving became a new art and produced important
results.

Let us bear in mind, to begin with, that there
are two processes, very different in their execution,
although similar enough in their results engraving
on metal and engraving on wood ; in the first, all that
is to be impressed on the paper is cut in sunken lines
on the metal ; the second involves work of a diametri-
cally opposite kind ; all that is to appear in the proof
must be raised on the wood, and the graver must
carefully remove all those parts which the printer's
press is not to touch.

Whole volumes might be written if we wished to
discuss or even to review the opinions put forth by
scholars on the origin of engraving. Every country
has taken part in the discussion, and eminent men on
all sides have become the champions, each of his own
country. National pride has often interfered in the
dispute, and it would have run the risk of becoming
bitter had it descended to the arena of personalities
instead of remaining in the hands of earnest workers.

The French have the greater facility for discussing
the various opinions on this matter, inasmuch as they
have no claim to be considered its inventors. France
has indeed put forth some pretensions on this matter,
and has been willing to consider one Bernard Milnet
(an artist whose very name is more than problema-
tical) the most ancient engraver ; but, after a careful



THE ORIGIN OF ENGRA VING. 3

investigation, this opinion is now abandoned by all,
even by those who first adopted it.

It is not the same with our neighbours : for a long
time the 'St. Christopher' of 1423 was thought the
most ancient known example of engraving. But
lately a discovery by the Baron of Reiffenberg, over-
threw this opinion ; and the engraving of 1418, which
he obtained for the Museum of Brussels (the date of
which appears to us incontestable), transported the
real period of the invention five years backward. In
our day, thanks to two plates printed on the leaves
of a manuscript which M. Henri Delaborde has
described and commented on* with remarkable clear-
ness, we know, that in 1406, the art of wood-engrav-
ing must have existed and the printing-press been
brought into use.

The history of copper-plate engraving, properly so
called, has passed through the same vicissitudes.
Before the Abbe Zani found in one of the collections
of prints in Paris, a proof of the ' Pax of Florence,'
executed in 1452 by Maso Finiguerra as shown by
the official registers German scholars looked upon
Martin Schongauer as the true inventor of copper-
plate engraving ; quoting in testimony some impres-
sions executed, according to them, about 1460. From
this period, already far removed from us (as the
Abbe Zani's discovery took place only at the end

t

* 'Gazette des Beaux-arts/ March, 1869.



4 WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

of the eighteenth century), investigators have not been
discouraged, and their efforts have been crowned
with success. Passavant, in the 'Archives de Nau-
mann' (4e Annee, 1858, p. i), has carefully described
a figure of the Virgin, bearing date 1451. Renouvier,
in a very learned pamphlet, has revealed the existence
of a series of prints of the 'Passion,' executed in
1446. Persevering efforts in this direction might,
without doubt, lead to some new discovery. Some
day or other, we doubt not, Germany or Flanders will
be proclaimed the inventor of printed engravings ; and
that the archives of history, examined with great care,
and turned over in every possible way, will furnish a
document before which every ambition must succumb.
But we should be much surprised if all these patient
researches led to anything more than the knowledge
of a mere fact ; and we shall be much mistaken if
any art-object worthy of the name can be cited to
contradict our theory, that it was in 1452, in Italy, at
Florence, that the first really important specimen of
the art of engraving appeared ; an event brilliant
enough to be in itself alone an historical landmark.



ENGRA VING IN ITAL Y.



CHAPTER II.

ENGRAVING IN ITALY.

Engravers on Wood Nielli Copperplate Engraving at Flo-
rence, in the Northern Cities, at Milan, Parma, Bologna,
and Rome.

THE history of engraving in Italy follows that of
painting tolerably closely ; many painters were
also engravers, and those who did not themselves
take the trouble of engraving upon metal or wood,
were sufficiently greedy of fame to gather around
them engravers who multiplied the works they pro-
duced under their supervision.

Wood-engraving did not in Italy, as in other
countries, precede engraving on metal. It appeared
at the same time. It is in printed books that we
must look for the first instances of this useful art,
which, when combined with the text, is peculiarly well
suited to bring the author's thought visibly before
the eyes, whilst the words explain it to the mind.

In Italy, wood-engraving was slower in acquiring
real importance than in other countries. Although



6 WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

from the first half of the fifteenth century, we find
many specimens of Italian wood-engraving, recog-
nisable solely by their style, none of these attempts
bear certain dates, and it is only at the end of the
fifteenth century that this form of art was seriously
cultivated and practised by true artists. Until then
it had been in the hands of artisans, who were more
desirous of instructing the faithful than of conforming
to the laws of beauty.

The most curious specimens of Italian wood-en-
graving are met with in a rare book called the ' Hyp-
nerotomachia Poliphilii,' printed at Venice by the
brothers Aldus, in 1499, a book in which are unfolded,
amongst dreams more or less fantastic, some reflec-
tions on ideal beauty, or the theory of art, composed
by Francesco Columna ; this work would have run
great risk of remaining in oblivion had it not been
embellished by some excellent wood-engravings.
This book exhibits compositions which were attri-
buted successively to Andrea Mantegna and Giovanni
Bellini, executed in a very summary fashion, but with
a firmness of touch which proves that their author
possessed rare knowledge of drawing. It is true that
we do not here recognise the style of these two
masters ; but, at the same time, we do not hesitate to
affirm that a superior artist alone could have guided
the hand of the engraver in this work.

The sermons of Savonarola, published at Florence
the day after they were delivered, also contain a



ENGRA VING IN ITAL Y.



certain number of woodcuts, which reproduce with
accuracy the beautiful Florentine designs of the fif-
teenth century. From their first appearance, these
engravings had a success sufficiently great to warrant
their being simultaneously employed in different pub-
lications. The plates which adorn the text of Savona-
rola's sermons are again found in ' L'Art de Bien
Mourir,' printed at Florence, in 1513 ; and a diligent
search would certainly discover these engravings in
other publications, as they were well suited to the
mystical books of the beginning of the sixteenth
century.

At Rome the art of engraving on wood did not
attain the same degree of beauty as in other* Italian
cities. The discovery of printing spread there less
rapidly, and the artists of the Eternal City seem from
the first to have required for their work a field larger
than that offered by a book.

It was in the north, and at Venice particularly,
that printers encouraged and employed the best artists
of this class. Amongst books brought out in this city,
special attention is due to Doni's publications, usually
printed by Francesco Marcolini da Forli, and em-
bellished by more beautiful wood-engravings than
had until then appeared. We must not forget to
remark that these works appeared in the middle of
the sixteenth century, from 1550 to 1553, when
Italian art was already at its zenith. About the same
period, many engravers applied themselves to repro-



8 WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

duce compositions which Giulio Campagnola and
Titian himself drew for that purpose. They executed
some admirable engravings engravings properly so
called, as not intended merely to adorn a book or
illustrate a text, but entirely devoted to producing in
fac-simile, and making popular, the works of these
masters. As yet, the artist did not dream of showing
his own dexterity, but occupied himself solely in
faithfully transferring to the wood the design which
had been confided to him. He was content (and
herein lay his chief merit) to follow scrupulously the
outlines traced by the pen or pencil of the painter,
and he seems to be far more anxious for the glory of
his model than for his own.

Among the wood-engravers who habitually took
their inspiration from Titian's works, Niccolo Bol-
drini an artist to whom posterity has been unjust
must take first rank.

The origin of engraving en camaieu * also dates
from the sixteenth century. Andrea Andreani, Ugo da
Carpi, and Antonio da Trenta, the principal repre-
sentatives of this new art, showed remarkable genius
in their works. They copied the compositions of
Raphael and of Parmigiano in preference to those of
other masters, and, by means of several consecutive
printings, succeeded in imitating washed drawings,



* This term is applied to painting or printing in a single
colour, varied only in depth of tints (as red, blue, bistre, &c.).



ENGRA VING IN ITAL Y.



and giving an exact . representation of designs exe-
cuted in many tints, and therefore more difficult than
others to be faithfully copied.

During the two centuries which followed, engraving
on wood was suddenly, and almost entirely, abandoned
in all countries. In the middle of the eighteenth
century we only find one engraver in Italy endeavour-
ing to restore to favour a process formerly employed
with such happy results by the artists we have named.
Antonio Maria Zanetti published at Venice, in 1749, a
series of prints, executed en camaieu by himself, after
designs by Parmigiano ; but he had no imitators, and
confined himself to this one publication. Even now
that wood-engraving has by degrees regained a very
important position, it hardly exists in Italy, which
has hitherto been the first to adopt every new inven-
tion, and, until the middle of the sixteenth century,
had taken the first place in every branch of art.

Engraving on Metal Nielli. A goldsmith of Flo-
rence, Maso Finiguerra, had just put the last touch
to an engraving of a ' Pax,'* ordered by the brothers
of the church of St. John, and wishing to see the effect
of his work, filled the lines traced by his graver

* ' Pax,' is the name given to a plate of chased metal, enamelled
or niello, still used in the solemn feasts of the Agnus Dei. It
was called 'Pax' because, after it had been kissed by the offi-
ciating priest, the acolyte, in presenting it to each of the assisting
ecclesiastics, pronounced the words " Pax tecum." (Littre,
{ Dictionnaire de la Langue Franchise,' t. ii., p. 906).



io WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

with a liquid composed of oil and lamp-black. By
chance, a pile of damp linen was placed upon the
silver plate thus prepared, and the sunk lines filled
with black liquid were reproduced upon the linen.

Such, we are assured, was the origin of engravings.
Is this legend true or false ? It is impossible to cite
any trustworthy document either for or against it ;
but no one doubts that Maso Finiguerra is the author
of the ' Coronation of the Virgin,' a niello, engraved
in 1452. The original plate is in the Urfizi Gallery,
at Florence, and the only known impression from it is
carefully preserved in the Bibliotheque de Paris.
Must we believe that no engraving appeared before
this time? and are we to consider 1452 the date of
the origin of engraving on metal ? This opinion was
accepted for a long time, but now scholars 'have
brought to light prints which contradict it. If, how-
ever, we are to admit that an art is not really invented
before it produces a choice work, we may, until further
information, consider the ' Pax ' of Maso Finiguerra
the first specimen known of the art of engraving.

At Florence, as in other Italian cities, goldsmiths'
work was very much in fashion at the beginning of the
fifteenth century ; and this, like other branches of art,
was then practised by men of real merit. At this
time goldsmiths adorned most of their works with
sunken designs, and these designs were called " nielli."
Their mode of testing their work was as follows.
When they had engraved the required design upon




A PAX.
From the Niello by Maso Finiguerra.



ENGRA VING IN ITAL Y. 1 1

the metal, they first took an impression in very fine
clay ; upon this they sprinkled sulphur, and then, by
filling in the engraved parts with lamp-black, they
were able to obtain a just notion of their work.
Until perfectly sure of the final result, they would not
have dreamt of pouring in the indestructible enamel
or coloured matter called " nigellum," which, when
once in its place, prevented any further impression
being taken.

When they discovered that damp paper firmly
pressed upon the plate, im-
pregnated with a certain ink,
gave the same result, they
abandoned the use of sul-
phur, and their trials on paper
became engravings. They did
not at once see all that their
discovery involved. For a
long time workers in gold
confined themselves to the
small number of impressions
necessary to the progress
of their work ; and it is to
this indifference that we must Fi> I '-

attribute the extreme rarity of these early impressions,
and the great value which amateurs attach to them.
(The neuter noun "nigellum," is usually called
" niello," and is applied indiscriminately to the plate
itself and the impression taken from it.)




12 WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

The nielli are by no means all of equal merit, and
were it not for their rarity many would be scarcely
worthy of a place in choice collections. Indeed,
although the Italian masters, and men of true genius,
were the first to express grandeur of form and perfect
beauty on metal, we must not ignore the fact that
there were many second-rate artists working and pros-
pering at the same time. Instead of always deriving
their inspiration from the examples before them, they
were sometimes imprudent enough to borrow their
models from the neighbouring countries, thereby
voluntarily depriving their works of the stamp of
nationality, which generally distinguished Italian pro-
ductions of the fifteenth century. We must not sup-
pose that the use of niello was given up as soon as
the means of taking impressions by other processes
were discovered. The previous demand for nielli
still continued, and goldsmiths were not inclined to
put in jeopardy an art which brought them honour
and profit ; they thus still covered with engravings the
plates which were to ornament furniture, armour, or
caskets. It was only towards the beginning of the
sixteenth century, when public taste took another
direction, that they abandoned this kind of work.

We know the names of a certain number of niel-
lists, but this is about all we do know. These artists
did not appear worthy of special mention to the his-
torians who wrote of the sixteenth century, and the
few works they have signed reveal nothing of their



ENGRA VI NG IN ITAL Y. 13

lives. We can put the names of Maso Finiguerra,
Peregrini da Cesena, Antonio Pollajuolo, Matteo di
Giovanni Dei, Francesco Raibolini, called Francia, and
of Marc-Antonio Raimondi under the works attributed
to them with almost absolute certainty, or great proba-
bility, but it would be difficult to give the smallest
biographical details about many of them ; say for in-
stance of Matteo di Giovanni Dei, to whom tradition
ascribes two plates, preserved in the Uffizi Gallery
at Florence, the ' Crucifixion,' and the ' Conversion of
St. Paul ;' but as we cannot compare these anonymous
works with any signed drawings of Matteo di Giovanni
Dei, we ought scarcely to sanction this tradition. On
the contrary, some official reports published by Gaye
in his ' Carteggio d'Artisti ' prove undeniably that the
most illustrious of all these artists, Maso Finiguerra is
really the author of the Florence ' Pax,' representing
the ' Coronation of the Virgin,' and this is enough to
prove that other nielli which denote singular know-
ledge and exquisite taste, may be attributed to the
same hand.

Peregrini da Cesena engraved a considerable number
of nielli on metal, which he sometimes signed in full
and sometimes with a monogram only. He was
evidently greedy of fame, for he is the only artist who
signed the greater part of his productions.

The painter and engraver Antonio Pollajuolo, is
thought to be the author of two other small nielli
which are remarkable for the somewhat puerile exact-



14 WONDERS OF ENGRA VING.

ness of the drawing of the muscles and bones of the
human body.

As for Francesco Francia and Marc- Antonio
Raimondi, we know enough of their works to be able
to admire the nielli attributed to them without fear
of mistake. After being for a long time much under-
rated, Francia is now, by some enthusiastic admirers,
considered a painter of the first order. To us both
opinions appear equally exaggerated. The pictures,
incontestably by this artist, exhibited in the Pinacoteca
at Bologna, his native place, certainly show great
artistic feeling and rare knowledge of drawing, but
does this entitle their author to take rank among and
share the renown of the greatest masters ? Certainly
not : and while on this subject, we must say that we
consider the nielli attributed to him, of which we
have seen the original plates at Bologna, are by no
means so beautiful as the indiscriminate admirers of
every work of his would have us believe. These plates
represent ' Christ on the Cross ' and the ' Resurrection.'
The arrangement and style of the figures recall the
designs engraved by Marc-Antonio Raimondi after
Francia, -and this is equivalent to saying that they
have neither imaginative power, nor grandeur of style
sufficient to warrant the fame they enjoy. Marc-
Antonio Raimondi has nothing to gain by being con-
sidered an engraver in niello. The few prints attri-
buted to him which we have seen in Paris, or in Count
Durazzo's collection at Bologna, add no new lustre to


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