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(5) _Head_ and _tail_, the top and bottom of the back.

(6) The _head-band_ and _head-cap_, the fillet of silk worked in
buttonhole stitch at the head and tail, and the cap or cover of leather
over it. The head-band had its origin probably in the desire to
strengthen the back and to resist the strain when a book is pulled by
head or tail from the shelf.

(7) _Boards_, the sides of the cover, stiff or limp, thick or thin, in
all degrees.

(8) _Squares_, the projection of the boards beyond the edges of the
book. These may be shallow or deep in all degrees, limited only by the
purpose they have to fulfil and the danger they will themselves be
exposed to if too deep.

(9) _Borders_, the overlaps of leather on the insides of the boards.

(10) _Proof_, the rough edges of leaves left uncut in cutting the edges
to show where the original margin was, and to prove that the cutting has
not been too severe.

The life of bookbinding is in the dainty mutation of its mutable
elements - back, bands, boards, squares, decoration. These elements admit
of almost endless variation, singly and in combination, in kind and in
degree. In fact, however, they are now almost always uniformly treated
or worked up to one type or set of types. This is the death of
bookbinding as a craft of beauty.

The finish, moreover, or execution, has outrun invention, and is the
great characteristic of modern bookbinding. This again, the inversion of
the due order, is, in the opinion of the writer, but as the carving on
the tomb of a dead art, and itself dead.

A well-bound beautiful book is neither of one type, nor finished so that
its highest praise is that "had it been made by a machine it could not
have been made better." It is individual; it is instinct with the hand
of him who made it; it is pleasant to feel, to handle, and to see; it is
the original work of an original mind working in freedom simultaneously
with hand and heart and brain to produce a thing of use, which all time
shall agree ever more and more also to call "a thing of beauty."

T. J. COBDEN-SANDERSON.




OF MURAL PAINTING


There seems no precise reason why the subject of this note should differ
much from that of Mr. Crane's article on "Decorative Painting" (pp.
39-51). "Mural Painting" need not, as such, consist of any one sort of
painting more than another. "Decorative Painting" does seem, on the
other hand, to indicate a certain desire or undertaking to render the
object painted more pleasant to the beholder's eye.

From long habit, however, chiefly induced by the constant practice of
the Italians of modern times, "Mural Painting" has come to be looked
upon as figure painting (in fact, the human figure exclusively) on
walls - and no other sort of objects can sufficiently impart that dignity
to a building which it seems to crave for. I can think of no valid
reason why a set of rooms, or walls, should not be decorated with
animals in lieu of "humans," as the late Mr. Trelawney used to call us:
one wall to be devoted to monkeys, a second to be filled in with tigers,
a third to be given up to horses, etc. etc. I know men in England, and,
I believe, some artists, who would be delighted with the substitution.
But I hope the general sense of the public would be set against such
subjects, and the lowering effects of them on every one, and the kind of
humiliation we should feel at knowing them to exist.

I have been informed that in Berlin the walls of the rooms where the
antique statues are kept have been painted with mixed subjects
representing antique buildings with antique Greek views and landscapes,
to back up, as it were, the statues. I must own it, that without having
seen the decoration in question, I feel filled with extreme aversion for
the plan. The more so when one considers the extreme unlikelihood of the
same being made tolerable in colour at Berlin. I have also been told
that some painters in the North of England, bitten with a desire to
decorate buildings, have painted one set of rooms with landscapes. This,
without the least knowledge of the works in question, as landscapes, I
must allow I regret. There is, it seems to me, an unbridgeable chasm,
not to be passed, between landscape art and the decoration of walls; for
the very essence of the landscape art is distance, whereas the very
essence of the wall-picture is its solidity, or, at least, its not
appearing to be a hole in the wall. On the matter of subjects fit for
painting on walls I may have a few words to say farther on in this
paper, but first I had better set down what little I have to advise with
regard to the material and mode of executing.

The old-fashioned Italian or "Buon Fresco" I look upon as practically
given up in this country, and every other European country that has not
a climate to equal Italy. If the climate of Paris will not admit of this
process, how much less is our damp, foggy, changeable atmosphere likely
to put up with it for many years! It is true that the frescoes of
William Dyce have lasted for some thirty years without apparent damage;
but also it is the case that the Queen's Robing Rooms in the House of
Lords have been specially guarded against atmospheric changes of
temperature. Next to real fresco, there has been in repute for a time
the waterglass process, in which Daniel Maclise's great paintings have
been executed. I see no precise reason why these noble works should not
last, and defy climate for many, many long years yet; though from want
of experience he very much endangered this durability through the too
lavish application of the medium. But in Germany, the country of
waterglass, the process is already in bad repute. The third alternative,
"spirit fresco," or what we in England claim as the Gambier-Parry
process, has, I understand, superseded it. I have myself painted in this
system seven works on the walls of the Manchester Town Hall, and have
had no reason to complain of their behaviour. Since beginning the
series, however, a fresh change has come over the fortunes of mural art
in the fact that, in France (what most strongly recommends itself to
common sense), the mural painters have now taken to painting on canvas,
which is afterwards cemented, or what the French call "maronflée," on to
the wall. White-lead and oil, with a very small admixture of rosin
melted in oil, are the ingredients used. It is laid on cold and
plentifully on the wall and on the back of the picture, and the painting
pressed down with a cloth or handkerchief: nothing further being
required, saving to guard the edges of the canvas from curling up before
the white-lead has had time to harden. The advantage of this process of
cementing lies in the fact that with each succeeding year it must become
harder and more like stone in its consistency. The canvases may be
prepared as if for oil painting, and painted with common oil-colours
flatted (or matted) afterwards by gum-elemi and spike-oil. Or the canvas
may be prepared with the Gambier-Parry colour and painted in that very
_mat_ medium. The canvases should if possible be fine in texture, as
better adapted for adhering to the wall. The advantage of this process
is that, should at any time, through neglect, damp invade the wall, and
the canvas show a tendency to get loose, it would be easy to replace it;
or the canvas might be altogether detached from the wall and strained as
a picture.

I must now return to the choice of subject, a matter of much importance,
but on which it is difficult to give advice. One thing, however, may be
urged as a rule, and that is, that very dark or Rembrandtesque subjects
are particularly unsuited for mural paintings. I cannot go into the
reasons for this, but a slight experiment ought to satisfy the painter,
having once heard the principle enunciated: that is, if he belong to the
class likely to succeed at such work.

Another _sine qua non_ as to subject is that the painter himself must be
allowed to select it. It is true that certain limitations may be
accorded - for instance, the artist may be required to select a subject
with certain tendencies in it - but the actual invention of the subject
and working out of it must be his. In fact, the painter himself is the
only judge of what he is likely to carry out well and of the subjects
that are paintable. Then much depends on whom the works are for; if for
the general public, and carried out with their money, care (it seems to
me but fair) should be taken that the subjects are such as they can
understand and take interest in. If, on the contrary, you are painting
for highly-cultured people with a turn for Greek myths, it is quite
another thing; then, such a subject as "Eros reproaching his brother
Anteros for his coldness" might be one offering opportunities for shades
of sentiment suited to the givers of the commissions concerned. But for
such as have not been trained to entertain these refinements, downright
facts, either in history or in sociology, are calculated most to excite
the imagination. It is not always necessary for the spectator to be
exact in his conclusions. I remember once at Manchester, the members of
a Young Men's Christian Association had come to a meeting in the great
hall. Some of them were there too soon, and so were looking round the
room. One observed: "What's this about?" His friend answered: "Fallen
off a ladder, the police are running him in!" Well, this was not quite
correct. A wounded young Danish chieftain was being hurried out of
Manchester on his comrade's shoulders, with a view to save his life. The
Phrygian helmets of the Danes indicated neither firemen nor policemen;
but the idea was one of misfortune, and care bestowed on it - and did as
well, and showed sympathy in a somewhat uncultivated, though
well-intentioned, class of Lancastrians. On the other hand, I have
noticed that subjects that interest infallibly all classes, educated or
illiterate, are religious subjects. It is not a question of piety - but
comes from the simple breadth of poetry and humanity usually involved in
this class of subject. That the amount of religiosity in either
spectator or producer has nothing to do with the feeling is clear if we
consider.

The Spaniards are one of the most religious peoples ever known, and yet
their art is singularly deficient in this quality. Were there ever two
great painters as wanting in the sacred feeling as Velasquez and
Murillo? and yet, in all probability, they were more religious than
ourselves.

It only remains for me to point to the fact that mural painting, when it
has been practised jointly by those who were at the same time
easel-painters, has invariably raised those painters to far higher
flights and instances of style than they seem capable of in the smaller
path. Take the examples left us, say by Raphael and Michel Angelo, or
some of the earlier masters, such as the "Fulminati" of Signorelli,
compared with his specimens in our National Gallery; or the works left
on walls by even less favoured artists, such as Domenichino and Andrea
del Sarto, or the French de la Roche's "Hémicycle," or our own great
painters Dyce and Maclise's frescoes; the same rise in style, the same
improvement, is everywhere to be noticed, both in drawing, in colour,
and in flesh-painting.

F. MADOX BROWN.




OF SGRAFFITO WORK


The Italian words Graffiato, Sgraffiato, or Sgraffito, mean "Scratched,"
and scratched work is the oldest form of graphic expression and surface
decoration used by man.

The term Sgraffito is, however, specially used to denote decoration
scratched or incised upon plaster or potter's clay while still soft, and
for beauty of effect depends either solely upon lines thus incised
according to design, with the resulting contrast of surfaces, or partly
upon such lines and contrast, and partly upon an under-coat of colour
revealed by the incisions; while, again, the means at disposal may be
increased by varying the colours of the under-coat in accordance with
the design.

Of the potter's sgraffito I have no experience, but it is my present
purpose briefly and practically to examine the method, special
aptitudes, and limitations of polychrome sgraffito as applied to the
plasterer's craft.

First, then, as to method. Given the wall intended to be treated:
granted the completion of the scheme of decoration, the cartoons having
been executed in several colours and the outlines firmly pricked, and
further, all things being ready for beginning work. Hack off any
existing plaster from the wall: when bare, rake and sweep out the joints
thoroughly: when clean, give the wall as much water as it will drink:
lay the coarse coat, leaving the face rough in order to make a good key
for the next coat: when sufficiently set, fix your cartoon in its
destined position with slate nails: pounce through the pricked outlines:
remove the cartoon: replace the nails in the register holes: mark in
with a brush in white oil paint the spaces for the different colours as
shown in the cartoon, and pounced in outline on the coarse coat, placing
the letters B, R, Y, etc., as the case may be, in order to show the
plasterer where to lay the different colours - Black, Red, Yellow, etc.:
give the wall as much water as it will drink: lay the colour coat in
accordance with the lettered spaces on the coarse coat, taking care not
to displace the register nails, and leaving plenty of key for the final
surface coat.

In laying the colour coat, calculate how much of the colour surface it
may be advisable to get on the wall, as the same duration of time
should be maintained throughout the work between the laying of the
colour coat and the following on with the final surface coat - for this
reason, if the colour coat sets hard before the final coat is laid, it
will not be possible to scrape up the colour to its full strength
wherever it may be revealed by incision of the design. When sufficiently
set, _i.e._ in about 24 hours, follow on with the final surface coat,
only laying as much as can be cut and cleaned up in a day: when this is
sufficiently steady, fix up the cartoon in its registered position:
pounce through the pricked outlines: remove the cartoon and cut the
design in the surface coat before it sets: then, if your register is
correct, you will cut through to different colours according to the
design, and in the course of a few days the work should set as hard and
homogeneous as stone, and as damp-proof as the nature of things permits.

The three coats above referred to may be gauged as follows: -

_Coarse Coat._ - 2 or 3 of sharp clean sand to 1 of Portland, to be laid
about 3/4 inch in thickness. This coat is to promote an even suction and
to keep back damp.

_Colour Coat._ - 1 of colour to 1-1/2 of old Portland, to be laid about
1/8 inch in thickness. Specially prepared distemper colours should be
used, and amongst such may be mentioned golden ochre, Turkey red, Indian
red, manganese black, lime blue, and umber.

_Final Surface Coat._ - Aberthaw lime and selenitic cement, both sifted
through a fine sieve - the proportions of the gauge depend upon the heat
of the lime: or, Parian cement sifted as above - air-slaked for 24
hours, and gauged with water coloured with ochre, so as to give a creamy
tone when the plaster dries out: or, 3 of selenitic cement to 2 of
silver sand, both sifted as above - this may be used for out-door work.

Individual taste and experience must decide as to the thickness of the
final coat, but if laid between 1/8 and 1/12 inch, and the lines cut
with slanting edges, a side light gives emphasis to the finished result,
making the outlines tell alternately as they take the light or cast a
shadow. Plasterers' small tools of various kinds and knife-blades fixed
in tool handles will be found suited to the simple craft of cutting and
clearing off the final surface coat; but as to this a craftsman finds
his own tools by experience, and indeed by the same acquired perception
must be interpreted all the foregoing directions, and specially that
ambiguous word, dear to the writers of recipes, - _Sufficient_.

Thus far method. Now, as to special aptitudes and limitations. Sgraffito
work may claim a special aptitude for design whose centre of aim is
line. It has no beauty of material like glass, no mystery of surface
like mosaic, no pre-eminence of subtly-woven tone and colour like
tapestry; yet it gives freer play to line than any of these mentioned
fields of design, and a cartoon for sgraffito can be executed in
facsimile, undeviated by warp and woof, and unchecked by angular tesseræ
or lead lines. True, hardness of design may easily result from this
aptitude, indeed is to a certain extent inherent to the method under
examination, but in overcoming this danger and in making the most of
this aptitude is the artist discovered.

Sgraffito from its very nature "asserts the wall"; that is, preserves
the solid appearance of the building which it is intended to decorate.
The decoration is in the wall rather than on the wall. It seems to be
organic. The inner surface of the actual wall changes colour in puzzling
but orderly sequence, as the upper surface passes into expressive lines
and spaces, delivers its simple message, and then relapses into silence;
but whether incised with intricate design, or left in plain relieving
spaces, the wall receives no further treatment, the marks of float,
trowel, and scraper remain, and combine to make a natural surface.

It compels the work to be executed _in situ_. The studio must be
exchanged for the scaffold, and the result should justify the
inconvenience. However carefully the scheme of decoration may be
designed, slight yet important modifications and readjustments will
probably be found necessary in the transfer from cartoon to wall; and
though the ascent of the scaffold may seem an indignity to those who
prefer to suffer vicariously in the execution of their works, and though
we of the nineteenth know, as Cennini of the fifteenth century knew,
"that painting pictures is the proper employment of a gentleman, and
with velvet on his back he may paint what he pleases," still the fact
remains, that if decoration is to attain that inevitable fitness for its
place which is the fulfilment of design, this "proper employment of a
gentleman" must be postponed, and velvet exchanged for blouse.

It compels a quick, sure manner of work; and this quickness of
execution, due to the setting nature of the final coat, and to the
consequent necessity of working against time, gives an appearance of
strenuous ease to the firm incisions and spaces by which the design is
expressed, and a living energy of line to the whole. Again, the setting
nature of the colour coat suggests, and naturally lends itself to, an
occasional addition in the shape of mosaic to the means at disposal, and
a little glitter here and there will be found to go a long way in giving
points of emphasis and play to large surfaces.

It compels the artist to adopt a limited colour scheme - a limitation,
and yet one which may almost be welcomed as an aptitude, for of colours
in decorative work multiplication may be said to be a vexation.

Finally, the limitations of sgraffito as a method of expression are the
same as those of all incised or line work. By it you can express ideas
and suggest life, but you cannot realise, - cannot imitate the natural
objects on which your graphic language is founded. The means at
disposal are too scanty. Item: white lines and spaces relieved against
and slightly raised on a coloured ground; coloured lines and spaces
slightly sunk on a white surface; intricacy relieved by simplicity of
line, and again either relieved by plain spaces of coloured ground or
white surface. Indeed they are simple means. Yet line still remains the
readiest manner of graphic expression; and if in the strength of
limitation our past masters of the arts and crafts have had power to
"free, arouse, dilate" by their simple record of hand and soul, we also
should be able to bring forth new achievement from old method, and to
suggest the life and express the ideas which sway the latter years of
our own century.

HEYWOOD SUMNER.




OF STUCCO AND GESSO


Few things are more disheartening to the pursuer of plastic art than
finding that, when he has carried his own labour to a certain point, he
has to entrust it to another in order to render it permanent and useful.
If he models in clay and wishes it burnt into terra cotta, the shrinkage
and risk in firing, and the danger in transport to the kiln, are a
nightmare to him. If he wishes it cast in plaster, the distortion by
waste-moulding, or the cost of piece-moulding, are serious grievances to
him, considering that after all he has but a friable result; and though
this latter objection is minimised by Mrs. Laxton Clark's ingenious
process of indurating plaster, yet I am persuaded that most modellers
would prefer to complete their work in some permanent form with their
own hands.

Having this desirable end in view, I wish to draw their attention to
some disused processes which once largely prevailed, by which the artist
is enabled to finish, and render durable and vendible, his work, without
having to part with it or pay for another's aid.

These old processes are modelling in Stucco-duro and Gesso.

Stucco-duro, although of very ancient practice, is now practically a
lost art. The materials required are simply well-burnt and slacked lime,
a little fine sand, and some finely-ground unburnt lime-stone or white
marble dust. These are well tempered together with water and beaten up
with sticks until a good workable paste results. In fact, the
preparation of the materials is exactly the same as that described by
Vitruvius, who recommends that the fragments of marble be sifted into
three degrees of fineness, using the coarser for the rough bossage, the
medium for the general modelling, and the finest for the surface finish,
after which it can be polished with chalk and powdered lime if
necessary. Indeed, to so fine a surface can this material be brought,
and so highly can it be polished, that he mentions its use for mirrors.

The only caution that it is needful to give is to avoid working too
quickly; for, as Sir Henry Wooton, King James's ambassador at Venice,
who greatly advocated the use of stucco-duro, observed, the stucco
worker "makes his figures by addition and the carver by subtraction,"
and to avoid too great risk of the work cracking in drying, these
additions must be made slowly where the relief is great. If the relief
is very great, or if a figure of large dimensions is essayed, it may be
needful even to delay the drying of the stucco, and the addition of a
little stiff paste will insure this, so that the work may be
consecutively worked upon for many days.

From the remains of the stucco work of classic times left us, we can
realise how perfectly workable this material was; and if you examine the
plaster casts taken from some most delicate low-relief plaques in stucco
exhumed some ten years ago near the Villa Farnesina at Rome, or the
rougher and readier fragments of stucco-duro itself from some
Italo-Greek tombs, both of which are to be seen in the South Kensington
Museum, you will at once be convinced of the great applicability of the
process.

With the decadence of classic art some portion of the process seems to
have been lost, and the use of pounded travertine was substituted for
white marble; but, as the _bassi-relievi_ of the early Renaissance were
mostly decorated with colour, this was not important. The ground colours
seem generally to have been laid on whilst the stucco was wet, as in
fresco, and the details heightened with tempera or encaustic colours,
sometimes with accessories enriched in gilt "gesso" (of which
hereafter). Many remains of these exist, and in the Nineteenth Winter
Exhibition of the Royal Academy there were no less than twelve very
interesting examples of it exhibited, and in the South Kensington Museum
are some few moderately good illustrations of it.

It was not, however, until the sixteenth century that the old means of
producing the highly-finished white stucchi were rediscovered, and this
revival of the art as an architectonic accessory is due to the
exhumation of the baths of Titus under Leo X. Raphael and Giovanni da
Udine were then so struck with the beauty of the stucco work thus
exposed to view that its re-use was at once determined upon, and the
Loggia of the Vatican was the first result of many experiments, though
the re-invented process seems to have been precisely that described by
Vitruvius. Naturally, the art of modelling in stucco at once became


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