Hornby's etchings of the great war; with a complete authoritative list of all his plates (1906-1920) and with two of the artist's letters from the front online

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Online LibraryUnknownHornby's etchings of the great war; with a complete authoritative list of all his plates (1906-1920) and with two of the artist's letters from the front → online text (page 1 of 2)
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No. 3


Not transferable.


In accordance with Section XIU Par. B., G. O. 146, G. H. Q,
A. E. F., C. S., the person named below is permitted to

make sketches 0&-ftH**~t* )

the American Army, during the period stated
provision that nil such photographs will be sti'
ship to the Photographic Censor, Signal Co '

Pass used by Mr. Hornby
permitting him to make
SKETCHES at the front.

Lttttr G. Htrnby
A self portrait.



OF ALL HIS PLATES (1906-1920)





Louis A. Holman


(Lester G. Hornby was born at Lowell,
Mass., March 27, 1882. He studied at the
Rhode Island School of Design, the Brie
Pape School in Boston, the Art Students'
League in New York and under Jean Paul
Laurens and others in Paris. His first
plates were etched in Paris 1906. (See list,
page 20.) Hornby was in Europe when
the war broke out and saw the British and
French mobilizations. In 1916 he was at
the front with the French troops. In 1918
he was with the Americans. Although
gassed he did not spend a day in the hos-
pital. After the Armistice was signed he
had a slight attack of influenza but was able
to sail for home in good health about Nov.
28, 1918.)

Copyright 1921. by

All right* rerTed

No. 186 The Observer.
Valley of the Marne.


ONE does not conclusively prove himself an
artist by drawing correctly, or an etcher by
successfully biting a plate. It is quite possible
that a clear brain and nimble fingers account for
both results, and that the man has no sense of art,
or anything to say that warrants the using up of a
single copper plate. Unfortunately these facts are
not widely recognized, but Time, sitting on the
bench, usually pronounces a just verdict. We have
but to wait.

Since Hornby some fourteen years ago began
etching, there has never been a question about his
ability to draw correctly , and it was soon apparent
that his etchings had about them a good deal of that

spontaneity which the art at its heights demands.
As the years have passed Time's judgment has been
heard in two continents. It is that Hornby has
something to say, and that, given the opportunity,
he says it forcefully and artistically. The year
that the war began, to cite but one concrete in-
stance of this judgment, Dr. Frank Weitenkamph
justly spoke of him as "an artist who is original
without a shriek, without a blaze of discord. He
has recognized and utilized tradition ; he has re-
spected the limits of his art, but has moved freely,
unhampered within them."

WTiat his opportunities were before the war and
how well he measured up to them is an old story.
It is unnecessary to try here to add anything to
what the pages of The Studio, Art and Progress,
La Revue d" L'Art, Figaro, Le Temps and many
other authorities have so well recounted at length,
and to which the permanent collections of the
national museums of art in Europe and America bear
continuous witness.

It was in 1918 that Hornby's great opportunity
came. Throughout the whole North American con-
tinent, in response to a second call to arms young
men were hurrying forward that they might not be
wanting where duty or danger called. In the con-
fusion of the hour there was many a mistake, many
a needless sacrifice, many a foolish assignment.
But Hornby was one of the fortunate ones. He
was attached to the Commission on Public Infor-
mation and given permission to wander at will


wherever there were American troops. So he passed
those ever memorable summer and autumn days
of 1918 in the rain, and mud, and cold (more nerve-
racking, says many a soldier, than the German bombs)
gathering, on this front and that, " information "
that was not wired to America, or relayed to the
Commandant's headquarters, but rapidly and care-
fully tabulated with pencil, pen and brush on small
sheets of paper to be finally given to the world in
the form of drawings and etchings. They con-
stitute a permanent record of the war to which in
future years descendants of those who bore part in
the conflict will turn with ever increasing pride and

These pictorial records are original human doc-
uments, stenographically recorded, but having the
valuable additional quality of being so happily put
down that, per se, they delight the eye even while
they carry one into the midst of the awful struggle.
Sometimes Hornby made as many as fifty sketches
under fire, in a single morning. No matter what
the number, each was done with unhesitating, rapid
sureness, by a master of brevity and of complete-
ness. His years of practice, with eye and hand
working in perfect unison, had given him this mar-
velous facility. His previous long and intimate
acquaintance with the country where the war was
fought contributed a thousand and one facts to the
final result, thus making him, perhaps, the one
American artist absolutely qualified for the great
task before him.



No tbS The Alarnt Advance at Vaux.

In peaceful student-days Hornby had wandered
about France, always at home with the people.
Now in the days when war laid waste the country
he loved, he lived with the soldiers, a soldier, par-
taking of their experiences through each day and
night. It was by entering thoroughly into the life
of Paris that he, years before, had succeeded so
admirably in giving ua etchings of Paris second to
none among those of modern men ; by living a
peasant in the land of peasants he had produced
etchings of the Marne country that breathe the very


spirit of rural France ; so by natural sequence when
Hornby lived a soldier in the army of his country-
men he produced a set of etchings worthy of the
man and of the opportunity.

The two letters of Hornby that follow speak for
themselves. Though not written for publication
they show the same keen-sighted, accurate observer
of life and of events, that is so evident back of the
wonderfully virile series of etchings. This series
is, I believe, destined to stand as the greatest
pictorial record of America's part in the Great War.

July 29, 1918.

I AM now in the south of France the routine of
all blesses Americans ; but don't draw the con-
clusion that I am a blesse; far from it. I am here
with Herbert with a government car, stopping in the
large industrial centers giving conferences and
movies on what America is doing in the war ; and it
would surprise people at home to know the wonders
that are being done over here. There are miles and
miles of new quais in the different ports, and our
own railroads connecting them with the front.
Thousands upon thousands of motor trucks of enor-
mous size continually going over the roads with sup-
plies that are being landed daily. And divisions
twice the size of French and English divisions going
to the front in surprising numbers and speed.

The C. P. I. (Committee on Public Information)
has done everything possible to faciliate my work in


getting sketches of the front, and I have a pass
allowing me to go to any front of the army. As
soon as I received this precious paper I promptly
took advantage of it and left for Chateau-Thierry.
I fell in with a division of Texas boys who had put
in a generous supply of cigars, candy and canned
goods. I rode along with them on one of the
supply trucks, showing my genuine and demonstra-
tive appreciation for the good things that came my
way. The road was occasionally shelled and the first
truck to get hit was the bread truck. A lot of bread
was being left in the road, so I picked up a few
loaves and brought it along under my coat and threw
it under the seat of our truck. And hours after
when it got dark and the roads became congested, a
column of infantry, mud soaked and hungry, stopped
beside us and asked for bread. Well, 1 was glad I
had salvaged that bread. I never saw bread appre-
ciated more.

We had gone through Belleau Woods where the
fighting had torn almost every tree to shreds. There
were still Germans dead in the woods, and a number
of hastily made graves of Americans who had turned
the Boche advance into a retreat. We passed the
road leading off to Chateau-Thierry, but I wouldn't
have left that supply train for anything in the world.
Evening was just coming on and our artillery fire,
already behind us, was barking, cracking, booming
and thundering as though the sky would split open
from the shock and tremble of the big guns.

We donned helmets, made ready our gas masks


and crept along between our guns and the high fagot
camouflage on the enemy's side of the road. We
saw the silhouettes of two avions almost directly over
us fighting it out to a finish. The enemy plane had
come over locating our train and the gun emplace-
ments. Another avion shot down from out of no-
where, banked abruptly, slid into a nose dive and
rolled up under the enemy's tail, opening fire at him
with deadly accuracy. It all happened so quickly
that the falling machine had hardly struck the earth
before the victor had shut off his engine and was
sweeping down to within a hundred feet of our heads,
leaning over the side of his machine, and revealing
the American colors on his plane.

We parked on the edge of a dense woods, and
regardless of the deafening batteries concealed in the
trees, stretched out for a short sleep. I was
awakened by the tramping of infantry.

It was now pitch dark and roads were crowded ;
long bedraggled columns of twos going and coming
from the lines not trenches ; no, we were away
ahead of the old trenches and advancing too rapidly
to make anything more than the hastiest sort of
consolidations, small scooped out places that might
be useful in an emergency.

An enemy " star light " floated over us and lit up
the countryside like daylight, then there was a long
hiss punctuated by a deafening explosion, and the
gas alarm was passed down the line. We wore our
gas masks for a few minutes until the wind veered
and took the fumes back where they came from.


The artillery fire of the enemy seemed to be
weakening, and by early morning but few shells
dropped near enough to be dangerous. With the
light of dawn we found ourselves sprinkled about the
wooded edge of a wheat field heavily fringed with
underbrush ; the first rays of daylight pierced the
misty darkness here and there ; the woods seemed to
be alive with men. Groups standing, some sitting,
some scrawling hasty notes ; Grenaders restlessly
arranging their deadly missiles ; " chau-chad " gun-
ners with their automatics and ammunition. Officers
were busy with brief orders and words of assurance.
Mingling with the muffled clicking of rifles and
bayonets an occasional sniper's shot found its way
into this restless woodland quiet. Shelling had
begun somewhere down the line and kept coming
nearer and nearer. The whole woods was soon rent
by deafening bursts of high explosives and shrap-
nel, and from across the wheat field the irritating
rat-tat-tat of enemy machine guns now working on
our first three lines already " going over " through
the wheat. Hell itself had broken loose with its
smoke and smell of gasses.

I was in the third line and with about six others
was extremely intent upon making a full-length im-
pression of my figure at a point as near sea level as
the wheat field had to offer. We were being sprin-
kled with wheat clipped off above our heads when
one boy got inquisitive and raised himself to locate
the gun, but dropped down again and soon broke into
an oath revealing a complete mastery of technique


in profane expression. " S ' matter buddy? " one of
us ventured. " S' matter ! look at that ! " He held
up his left sleeve showing how a machine gun bullet
had just missed his arm taking a piece out of the
sleeve. " And that's where I always wanted to get
mine, too.*' A cherished vision of two months be-
hind the lines seemed to vanish l>efore him forever,
and he put himself down for being S. O. L. (Sure
out o' luck).

By this time we had worked in on the enemies
flank with grenaders and automatics, and cleaned up
the objectives in that neck of the woods, taking a
number of prisoners, machine guns and ammunition.
The people at home cannot begin to realize the work
the boys are doing. It is impossible to comprehend
the courage and tenacity that this turning of the tables
stands for without actually seeing them in action.

The next evening I went back to Chateau-Thierry
and found quarters in a hospital that had been
bombed shortly before I arrived, regardless of the
huge red cross painted on the roof. The 1 1 1th Field
Hospital had just moved in and were sitting down to
mess when I got there about midnight. It was the
first real meal I had had for three days. I had the
good luck to fall in with an officer who offered me his
bed while he was on duty. This with good meals for
two days and I was all set up again. Knocking
about as I do one gets a pretty good cross-section on
humanity. And it has been my luck to meet fine
types of both officers and men with the outfits I have
been with.


. /<?/

Advance, Romagne

Chateau-Thierry now, and the C T. I knew
over here as a student presents a great note of con-
trast. The old hotels along the river, " The Giraffe "
and " The Elephant " are now masses of ruins. My
first glimpse inside " The Elephant " was by moon-
light coming down through shell holes in the roof.
Broken plaster was piled over the chairs and billiard
tables in the old "Salle" where we had had such
good times in student days.

Ruined houses now fall over one another and into
the barricade streets. The place is deserted and
silent, but for the occasional hum of an avion over-
head or the bombs at night.


[RoMAONE,] BAT. B 146TH F. A.,
November 7, 1918.

EVER since I last wrote to you I have been along
the front of this recent advance that seems to
have made the Hun shout " Kamarad ! " The infantry
have had to go through all the hell the enemy had to
offer here in the woods. Attack and counter attack
following one another day in and day out. But
things are moving steadier now. The Howitzers
booming down behind the P. C. have had their tar-
gets advanced again and again, and are now at work
on the Meuse bridges where the enemy's retreat must
be considerably harrased by our heavies. Another
duel is on. We have a nine-inch dud set upon a
chopping block in the court, it ricochetted from one
building to another, wakening an American K. P.
who was taking a nap there. The dud and Tony
rolled out into the court together. The dudgradually
stopped but not so with Tony. Some time later he
was still shaking. One of the fellows asked how he
felt ; " Fifty years old, and this morning I was only

During the first days of the drive we had warm
autumn weather ; and along the roads in the morning
one could look off across the trench scarred hills
north of the Argonne and imagine perfect hunting
days. Yesterday I saw a covey of young quail
whirr-r up out of the dusty shell-torn bushes along
the roadside.

Nov. 8. Now we are covered with mud and have
been for four days, but this offers certain advantages


by way of camouflage for one has simply to embrace
the landscape you don't even have to be told when,
and one blends perfectly with the surroundings.

Nov. 9. We went back to Cunel this morning and
saw in the roof and wall of the old farm house shel-
tering the P. C. one place where two nine-inch shells
went through the same hole, during the artillery duel
we had heard going on above us. The Captain re-
marked, " They must have our range." No one dis-
puted this conclusion. But there is a certain feeling
of relief now for the firing from across the river has
become very intermittent. Report has come in, that
we have the enemy's main arteries of communication
under fire ; and every thing indicates that it must be
so. For the last two nights we have had no visits
from the bombers. " Light out " has gone around a
few times, and everyone becomes silent and listens
for the uneven hum of an enemy plane.

Orders have come for the outfit to get in traveling
position ; the guns are being pulled up along the
road and we expect to advance in the night.

I was going to stay behind for awhile, but it looks
as though it would be more interesting up here.

There are articles by Mr. Hornby on his war experiences in
the CKNTURY, Dec. 1914, and the OUTLOOK, Aug. 30, 1916.


No. 775 Seicheprey


A handful came to Seicheprey
When winter woods were bare
When ice was in the trenches
And snow was in the air
The foe looked down on Seicheprey
And laughed to see them there.

The months crept by at Seicheprey
The growing handful stayed
With growling guns at midnight ;
At dawn, the lightning raid,
And learned in Seicheprey Trenches
How war's red game is played.

September came to Seicheprey ;
A slow-wrought host arose
And rolled across the trenches
And whelmed its sneering foes
And left to shattered Seicheprey
Unending, sweet repose.


Sent to Mr. Hornby in MS. by the author, after they had visited
Seicheprey together*




L of C. In Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. Washington
N. P. L. Newark Public Library

B. 1C. of P. A. " Boston Museum of Pine Arts

C.A.I. Chicago Art Institute

V. and A. 1C. " Victoria and Albert Museum. S. Kensington. London

Hornby is also well represented in the National Museums of
Germany and France.

Seventy-6ve per cent of the etchings are out of print. Fifty
per cent of the plates have been destroyed.

The figures following the date give the whole number of
impressions made.


THK SOUL OF A CITY. Mr. Hornby's tickings
and drawings have captured Ike poetry as well as tke
" character" of Paris. Mr, Hornby is evidently a
possesser of a variety of gifts working in unusual har-
mony, and his equal mastery of various styles and
media is remarkable. The romance of old buildings on
the lie dt la Cite, the bohemianism of " Lt Rat Afort,"
tke elegance of tke Hois, tke quaint " character " of
street vendors, small shopkeepers and funny . good old souls
enjoying a play of La Gaite. Mr. Hornby it equal to
them all. No better pictures of Paris and Paris lift
have ever been made.

1 Parisian Cockers 1906 10

2 Clditre St. Honor* 8 Salon, 1907

The technique of etchings seems to have presented
little difficulty to him, for within a very brief period he
had so familiarised himself with its intricacies as to be
able to produce a series of plates which the Socittt des
Artistes Francois found sufficiently meritorious to in-
clude in their annual Salon. The same year (7907) the
Salon <f Automne paid tke same compliment tt his

3 Vieux Passage, Palais Royal 1906 18

4 Rue dn Sabot 8 Salon, 1907

5 Canal St. Martin 8 Salon, 1907

6 St. Nicolas du Chardonnet 6

7 Passage St. Pierre 18 L. of C.

8 Rue Madame 8

9 Porte de la Cour du Dragon 8


10 Little Shops, Rue deVaugirard 1906 6 L. of C.

11 Vieux Passage, Rue de

Vaugirard 8 L. of C.

12 Vieux Hotel de Sens 14

13 Old Court, Rue Vercingetorix 30 L. of C.

14 Rue de L' Hot el de Ville 20

15 Rue Eginhard 30 Salon, 1908

16 Rue du Sabot (Evening) 20 Salon 1907

L. of C.

" Rue du Sabot " is an effective night scene in Paris,
as is the little plate entitled " Parisian Cochers." The
effects gained by means of the retroussage in these plates
are very powerful.


17 Rue du Rennes 1906


Mr. Hornby, " dont la concision nous etonne, nous
autres, Latins bavards."

18 LaModfcle 1906 10


19 In Happy Valley. Llandudno,

Wales 18

20 Welsh Farmhouses. Llan-

dudno, Wales

21 Blackwall Beach 10

22 The River Tyne at Newcastle " 12 L. of C.

A poetic little print is the one entitled " The River
Tyne, Newcastle." It looks almost as if Turner might
have done it. A. J. P.


23 Cafe" du Rond Point 1907 50 Salon, 1907

L. of C.,
N. P. L.

Turning from these to the sketches made in Paris
in old Paris one begins to comprehend the versatility
of Mr. Hornby 1 s sympathies andgenius. Take the littte
plate entitled " Cafe du Rond Point." It is delight-
fully sketchy and suggestive, both in the character of the
architecture and the life. It is well balanced as a com-
position by means of a broad street foreground, and it is
bizarre in its luminosity. A. J. P.


24 The Little Balconies, from my

Stndio 1907 60

After living in a city for a long time, one reaches a
point where one no longer really sees it. The great
value of etchings and drawings such as these is that they
make us see and appreciate the thousand and one beauties
of familiar and charming corners of old Paris, where we
used to take our walks when we were young, in the days
when we were wise enough to take the time to idle.
Hornby takes us again through these pleasant and re-
freshing streets. We find the narrow balconies^ the
curious passage-ways, the little restaurants of the Latin
Quarter and we realize better the wealth of charm of the
most human of capitals and hospitable of cities.


25 Quai Aux Pleurs 1907 60

The immediate rendering of the theme, without any
superfluity of detail, into a work of art.

26 Boulevard Montparnasse 1907 15

27 Passage St. Paul 40

28 An Jardin du Luxembourg 8 L. of C.

29 Palais du Luxembourg 11 Salon, 1908

30 Le Pont Marie 12

31 St. Nicolas des Champs 12 Salon, 1908

32 A la Gait6 Montparnasse 60

33 Charenton 15


34 Little Spanish Wine House 30

35 In Old Toledo 30

One of the richest plates in the entire collection is one
made in Spain, entitled "/ Old Toledo." In this
plate you feel the strength of the architectural pile, and at
the same time there is all the spell and mystery in the tone
values. The accents are strong, but the tones are all
rich and deep. A. J. P.

36 Burgos 1907 30

37 Wine House in Moonlight 30

38 Gypsy Dancer, Seville 30

39 Paseo de San Sabastian 30

40 Old Spanish Doorway, Seville " 20

41 Street to Plaza de Zocodover,

Toledo 30



42 Rotterdam Canal, Twilight 1908 50

43 Dutch Fishing Boats 50

44 Delft 60

Suck rapid impressions followed by instantaneous com-
position, account for Hornby* s excessive lightness of touch.



45 Rainy Sunday at San Marco,

Venice 1908 60

46 In the Guidecca 30

47 Canal in Venice 40

48 Ponte di Rialto 18

49 Souvenir de Venice 40

50 Cologne from the Rhine 50


51 Passage des Patriarches

(1st state) 18 B.M.of F.A.

52 Passage des Patriarches

(2nd state) 1919 60 B.M.of F.A.

53 Market Day on Boulevard

Edgar Quinet 1908 18

54 La Lettred' Amour " 18 Salon, 1909

" Little Balconies," " La Lettre d' 'Amour " and the
charming " Quai aux Fleurs " all invite description, so
tellingly do they give us not only the familiar outlines of
these picturesque localities, but the atmosphere replete
with human interest, which envelopes them. Seldom
does he give us a plate in which this interest is lacking.
And it is in this comprehensive outlook that much of the
strength of Mr. Hornby' s plates lie ; this keen interest in
the life of the people combined with forceful powers of ex-
pression. These are of the qualities that combine to
make the great etcher MARIB BROUETTE.

55 Swiss Chalets 1908 18

56 Aux Ambassadeurs 30

The lady of "Aux Ambassadeurs," the art oj
omission. M. BROUETTE.

57 A Montrouge 1909 24

58 Cafe" Julien-Rue Mouffetard 18 Salon, 1909

59 Le Gros Chou 18

60 L'Hiver dans le Jardin du

Luxembourg 60 Salon, 1909



Again in " L'Hivcr au Jar din du Luxembourg "
nnv remitting is given to an oft repeated corner. Tke
Cour del Jf tints is shown with the outlines of the Palais
in the distant e. It is the children's playground, but
covered with the snows of winter and deserted with the
change of seasons. To be sure one small maiden is seen
on the highway, but led by a maternal hand, every line
of the alert, little figure tells us where there will be no


Online LibraryUnknownHornby's etchings of the great war; with a complete authoritative list of all his plates (1906-1920) and with two of the artist's letters from the front → online text (page 1 of 2)