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direction shall represent the precious qualities daisies and wild-flowers of her native soil, rewhich ought to how from the direct and un- minds me of little country maids with whom trammeled expression of one's own chosen and I used to trudge merrily to school in summer best-loved themes.
and winter — those glorious New Hampshire For my own part I have tried to introduce, winters, when with the snow waist-deep upon to such as may care to know them, some of the ground, and hiding out of sight the old the old and fast-disappearing types of a sturdy stone walls, I used to draw the little sleds race who have lived untrammeled by the man- uphill, and think them never so light as when dates of fashion, and who have preserved their their fair owners were seated upon them. Not independent and original character, both in one wrinkle upon the faces of these time-worn its inward being and its outward expression. veterans has been traced by me without inI have done this work without one moment creasing my respect for my rude New England of careless or flippant thoughtlessness; and forefathers, for I see in them that which reminds while I am deeply conscious of the faults of me of dear old friends and neighbors of my boytechnique, I hope I have atoned for them in hood days; and if in these faulty attempts at desome measure by the earnest purpose which lineation of character I can awaken in others a has actuated me in the delineation of these corresponding respect for “Old Hayseed,” as faces. The unaffected beauty of the young girl, we sometimes hear him thoughtlessly called, whose beaming face I can liken only to the this work will not have been done in vain.
ORIGINALITY IN WOOD-ENGRAVING.
WITH ENGRAVINGS BY THE AUTHOR.
HE revival of interest in Ameri- trast two methods of treatment — the one for
can wood-engraving during the the etcher and the other for the engraver.
arts. We are told, upon the production from another artist. Every inducebest authority, what qualities are inherent in ment is made to have him assume the position the wood, what is suitable in subject and of an artist; at least in the sense of being drawing, and what is legitimate and illegiti- master of the color scheme of his black and mate in technique. We are also gravely as- white reproduction. Fullness of modeling or sured that a neglect of these well-defined lines exactness of detail is not expected; but only of expression leads to a decadence of all that the suggested abbreviation, dashed with a peris truly beautiful in the art. There is an assump- sonality that distinguishes his work from that tion that what has been best in the past must of another man. Even the dominating of the be the authority for the future, no matter what printer, while inking his plate so that each conditions arise to revolutionize and widen the impression shall be unlike another, is regarded sphere of its usefulness. We are also instructed a merit and paid for accordingly. that the province of wood-engraving should This artistic atmosphere and treatment is be confined to reproduction, or the interpreting supposed to bring something unique and rare, of artistic thought at second hand, and any and undoubtedly does bring to each representdeparture from the beaten track should be ative impression the best impulse of the moment. regarded as a temerity punishable with stripes It would seem that such methods would derather than encouraged with approval. All of stroy all faithfulness in reproductive work; yet, the traditions and habits inherent in the pro- on the contrary, if the artist loves his copy, it is fession are reverently promulgated, and all of the only way to reproduce its quality. The the textures necessary for the printing of fifty personal friends of an etcher and his market years ago are tenaciously insisted upon. All combine to make him a law unto himself in this in spite of the fact that modern machinery his method of producing a result. has made a new era in the printing of illustra- Without claiming for the wood-engraver tions, as complete of its kind as that incident such entire consideration, there is much in the to the conditions of present warfare in contrast plan which recommends itself if we are to have with the old methods of the past - in spite of artistic results. There is an assumption in the
that in the best of Turkey boxwood we beginning that we are dealing with a highly have a material capable of the most exquisite imaginative organization, capable of being atfinish, and responsive to any texture or instru- tracted in some special direction of art, and ment known to the engraver. It is capable of able to reproduce it through training already holding its sharpness and delicacy, down to the established. In the past, and to a great exfinest touch, through a limited edition on a tent in the present, a contrary environment is hand-press, just the same as an etching or a steel the lot of a wood-engraver. It is assumed plate. And yet such is the power of habit and in the beginning that he has not the feeling tradition that it would be exceedingly difficult and imagination of an artist, although he may to have publicly acknowledged what would habitually produce better quality than his copies be freely admitted in private — that the fine call for. He is hedged in by mechanical inJapan proof is fully equal in quality to that of Auences that sap the enthusiasm and deaden a high-class etching. Seemingly the first proofs the ambition; he is harassed till, like a fox from the wood-engraving should settle its po- chased by the hounds, he would fain give up sition among the graphic arts, just as the best the merit of his own production and escape to prints settle the rank of the etching or the a burrow of peaceful oblivion. And all this steel-engraving. On the contrary, the enor- because the result must stand the strain of mous edition from an electro-plate of the en- thousands of impressions and because the graving fixes its position and relegates it to the end is purely commercial, no matter how realm of the commonplace.
highly artistic the beginning. These conditions To illustrate more fully how the purpose or can be changed only when the public recog. aim of a given work dominates the result, we nize and value the engraver's first proofs and have only to consider and put in sharp con- the putting of his position on a par with that
of the etcher this view of the case to be graver is pretty sure to become a specialist, taken upon the supposition that the engraver strong in certain directions while weak in has the will power to dominate his own plate, others, just the same as his brethren of the using his copy as an inspiration. If, on the brush and pencil. contrary, mechanical exactness is the purpose, Much confusion arises in the inquiring mind then all departments concerned in the mat- concerning this matter, because of the disater can fall into line with the precision of greements of professional criticism. The narparade, and a result may be counted upon rowest comments come from where we have with ease and certainty. Many artists are look- the right to expect the broadest and most helping for such a millennium, when the engraver ful judgments, so that, unconsciously, and with shall become an electric machine controlled entire honesty, the engraver's own technique by a button, and themselves produced as in a and manner become the yardstick with which mirror-forgetting that they themselves would to measure everybody else. The only true not make an exact copy of their own work, even position for the outsider to take is to regard the same size as the original.
every prominent engraver as a specialist and Through such influences art departments judge him upon his own ground. Even then, are obliged to constitute themselves into halls comparatively speaking, every man's life is of judgment, with the elusive and ever-chang- made up largely of failures. Only a very few ing standards of the artist on the one hand examples reach the high-water mark that gives and the needs of the printer and the pockets character to an artist's reputation. of the publisher on the other. It is small credit Of course a large share of illustrations used to those most interested if the whole matter in connection with relief printing have only a does not take refuge in a process that shall matter-of-fact purpose. Many artists also lean grind with delightful monotony and uniformity to the scientific phase of their art, requiring, all coming to its mill, and with a great saving with perfect reason, a more colorless medium of conscience and responsibility. If the pages than the specialist engraver can give. Here of the great publications should sparkle with mechanical exactness is the better expression. the variety and change of such a system, a like If, however, the demand is in the direction of machine might be used with profit on the color, textures, and values, or in the line of paintings and etchings gathered at exhibitions. tone harmonies, where no part is an exact It would only be necessary to decide upon a repetition of another, then the mechanical renstandard, and then bring all work to its meas- dition will destroy the whole sentiment of the ure of perfection.
picture. It may be scientifically exact and yet Many artists may justly feel that they are have nothing in common with the original. better reproduced by mechanical means than Artists of such subjects cannot possibly find by engraving. This may be true if they can infallibility in reproduction, even if they conmake the textures necessary entirely themselves; trolled every stage of the work themselves, if not, they are dependent on a monotonous because it is not a matter of reason and for
are that is entirely mechanical, thus an- mula, but of feeling and impulse. Some of the tagonizing one of the most important princi- most important work of this kind assumes many ples of their daily teaching and practice — that phases while in the hands of the engraver. is, that “nature does not repeat herself, and The copy may be a painting that undergoes no one given surface of a picture should be many changes while the engraving is progresslike another.” Thus, how can a harmony, made ing. When finished, the two results are sure up of many notes, be best produced by a ma- to be unlike in the scientific sense of the term, chine having only one note or texture? The and yet so near together in quality that the result can only be a shadow of the original - artist may feel himself better rendered than a mere lifeless corpse.
were possible by any other means. It is a This cannot be entirely true of the engrav- species of legerdemain in which present results er's work, no matter how poor, because his are only stepping-stones to higher excellence. personality is bound to show itself in some There is no accepting of standards at a given shape, giving change and variety in contrast time, either in exactness of form or in harmony with that of another. He cannot get rid of his of color. If the engraver is to accomplish method any more than of his handwriting. It anything here he must work in the same spirit is a part of himself, and in it is the very ele- as the artist, or not at all. He must mount ment needed for the vitality of an engraving. the steed of his own technique, unfettered by Indeed, the feelings and ambitions of promi- leash or rein, and chase a leader, perhaps nent engravers for personal expression should mighty in creative force, yet as fickle as the be exactly the same as those which govern wind. There is no exact classification of the painters and workers in all departments of results till long after the actors are deadcreative art. And also, each important en- either for the artist or for the engraver. Never