Puslapio vaizdai
PDF
„ePub“
[graphic]

One of Mary Cassatt's noted "mother and child" dry-points. The plate has been canceled by drawing lines across them, so that no more impressions can be taken

on the special kind that fits the particular case, as when Cadwallader Washburn printed his old Buddhist priest on gray paper taken from the window of a Japanese temple.

Printing, however, does not necessarily indicate completion of the plate. It may mean simply that the artist is proving his An impression (trial proof) is

taken to see how the work already accomplished appears in print. The plate is then again coated with ground, though not smoked, and the ground, being transparent, permits the artist to make any desired changes. This process, of course, can be repeated as often as the artist desires. In reproductive etching especially, "proofs" and "states" of a plate are at times fairly

d

[ocr errors]

ate is

h not

arent

esired

Can be

In

numerous, as one may see by referring to the work of Bracquemond or Waltner or Köpping.

In this description of the etcher's art reference has been made only to pure etching, with only such aid as manipulation in printing may give. But there are various auxiliary processes that have served etchers, though usually only to a limited extent, to give an accent here or there.

For instance, the burin, the line-engraver's tool, was used by Meryon, and the roulette, a small, toothed wheel that produced a dotted line, shows its work in the water of Whistler's "Doorway," while in some of Heinrich Wolff's plates it is used independently. When the ground has not been properly laid, and gives way in spots before the acid, "foul biting" results, spoiling the plate by its dots. But applied intentionally, it gives a sort of coarse spatter-work effect at the desired places.

There are also various ways of roughening the surface of the plate so that it will print a tint. It may be rasped with

[graphic]

roots"

fait

a file, corroded with powdered sulphur,
rubbed with Scotch stone (as in Mrs. M.
N. Moran's "Twilight, Easthampton"),
brushed with acid, passed through the
press with sandpaper laid upon it, the par-
ticles of sand being forced through the
ground and opening a way for the acid.
The most familiar tint method, however,
is aquatint. In that, minute particles of
a resinous substance are deposited on a
copperplate. When the plate is placed in
a bath the acid attacks it only between the
resinous particles. Aquatint, generally
used as an auxiliary in combination with
line etching, more rarely in its pure state,
may be studied in the works of Goya, For-
tuny, Klinger, Mielatz, and many others.
In color work it is also combined at times
with soft-ground etching. In this the
ground is mixed with tallow to make it
soft. On this is laid a piece of paper on
which the drawing is made with a pencil.
Wherever the pencil touches, the ground
adheres to the paper and comes off with it.
So, again, the copper is bared for the ac-

The late William M. Chase etching a pen-drawing by Robert F. Blum, photographed
on a zinc plate, and etched, S. H. Horgan superintending the process

[ocr errors]

tion of the acid, the lines in this case being broken, as in a pencil-drawing on grained paper. Finally there is dry-point, which is not etching at all, but is often employed in combination with etching. Dry-point indicates drawing with a needle directly on the copper, without any ground and without the use of acid. The "point" in this case penetrates the surface of the copper, and, as it passes along, throws up ridges along the lines, as the plow throws up the earth along the furrow. These ridges, known as "burr," catch much ink, and print a rich, velvety black; but they are soon crushed down in the press, so that the plate yields only a comparatively small number of good impressions.

Here are plenty of aids, then, for those of experimentative bent, a characteristic strong in Buhot, a veritable juggler with processes, and in Guerard, but found also in Fortuny, Bracquemond, and in our own J. D. Smillie and Mielatz.

Etching, like all other media, has limits that must be understood and respected. It has characteristics that must be felt and expressed. To realize what possibilities lie in copper and needle and acid, one has only to recall some of the characteristics of various artistic individualities that have

found expression in this art, at once incisive, suave, definite, and supple. There rise before one the big simplicity of soul, the warmth of human sympathy, that pulsate in the art of Rembrandt; the fastidious selectiveness, the exquisite sense of adjustment, peculiar to Whistler; the haunting strangeness of Meryon's translation of Paris back into its past; the strong mastery with which Haden expressed his affection for the beauties of his native land.

There are, too, the bucolic charm of Jacque; the Gallic vivacity of Buhot; the masterly versatility of Bracquemond; the calm, smooth sureness of Lalanne; the discreet color accents of T. F. Simon; Jacquemart's revelation of the beauty of inanimate objects; the power, seriousness, and refinement of Legros; the beautiful truthfulness of Mary Cassatt's mother-andchild pictures. There's no need of keeping on. He who looks may find opportunity. The field is wide and varied. The intimacy of enjoyment of prints is intensified by one's understanding of the artist back of his work; and a student of the process is much helped toward such an understanding by some knowledge of the elements of technic.

Out of the Mist

By GEORGE T. MARSH Illustration by Clifford W. Ashley

"WEET

TEEL, w'at you t'ink, Loup? De Albanee onlee leetle piece now? We do good job to mak' for de sout' shore, eh?"

With a whine the great slate-gray husky in the bow turned his slant eyes from the white wall of mist enveloping the canoe to his master's face, as if in full agreement with the change of course.

The west coast of James Bay lay blanketed with fog from the drifting ice-fields far to the north. Early that morning, when the mist blotted out the black ribbon of spruce edging the coast behind the marshes of the low shore, Gaspard Laroque had swung his canoe in from the deep water. For hours now he had been feeling his way alongshore toward the maze of channels through which the Albany River reached the yellow waters of the bay.

Fifteen miles of mud-flat, sand-spit, and scrub-grown island marked the river's mouth, and his goal, the Hudson's Bay Company post, Fort Albany, lay on the easternmost thoroughfare of the delta. There waited the dusky wife and children he had not seen since his trip down the coast over the sea-ice at Christmas with the dog that now worried at the scent of the invisible flocks of geese that rose clamoring through the fog ahead of the boat. Bought when a puppy from an east-coast Eskimo at the Bear Islands, the husky had been his sole companion through the lonely moons of the winter before on the white wastes of his subarctic trapping-grounds.

"Whish you, Loup! Here we go!" Swinging the nose of the boat well off the flat shore, the half-breed dropped to his knees, placed a battered brass compass on a bag in front of him, and, following the wavering needle at his knee, started

straight out through the smother of mist across the delta of the many-mouthed Albany. Two, three hours passed, and still the narrow Cree blade bit into the flat surface of the bay as though driven by an engine rather than by human thew and sinew, when suddenly the husky lifted his nose, repeatedly sucking in and expelling the baffling air. Then with a whine he suddenly sat up, throwing the canoe off its bottom.

"W'at you do, Loup? You crazee? Lie down!"

But the husky did not lie down. Instead, his black nostrils quivered in long sniffs as he faintly sensed the strange odor that the moisture in the heavy air almost obliterated. Then the hairy throat of the great dog swelled in a low rumble as he strained against the bow brace, peering into the impenetrable mist.

"Ah-hah!" chuckled the Cree, interested. "W'at you t'ink you smell, eh? No goose mak' you so cross; mus' be seal."

In answer the hair on the dog's back lifted from ears to tail, and raising his nose, he broke into a long howl, a warning which his master knew full well meant that from somewhere out of that wilderness of mist human scent had drifted to the husky's palpitating nostrils.

Again from the dog's throat rolled the challenge of his wolfish forebears to the hidden enemies, and out of the fog ahead floated the answer of a human voice.

"Quey! Quey!" called the Cree in reply, and ceased paddling.

Again the voice called from the fog; again Laroque answered, and started paddling slowly in the direction of the sound. It was a canoe from Moose, he surmised, bound for Fort Albany, and he was nearer the south shore than he had reckoned.

Then of a sudden out of the mist ahead broke the black mass of a ship.

The paddle of the surprised half-breed hung suspended over the water while the dog bellowed his rage at the mysterious thing looming through the fog. Clearly it was not the small company steamer from Moose Factory, which was not due at Albany for a month, after the furbrigades had arrived from the up-river posts, but one of the big ships.

Still, what was one of the company ships from across the big water, which never entered the treacherous mouths of the Moose or the Albany, but unloaded at Charlton Island, a hundred miles east, doing here? Then it flashed across the Cree's brain that the vessel had missed the island in the thick weather and had run clear to the Albany flats, where she had anchored.

"Quey! Quey!" Laroque gave the Cree salutation to the men at the rail of the ship as he paddled alongside. "You goin' travel up de Albanee?" he added, with a grin. But there came no answer to his question.

Shortly a gold-braided cap crowning the bearded face of an officer appeared at the rail, and a gruff voice demanded:

"Where are you from and where bound?"

"I go to Albanee; been huntin' up de wes' coast las' long snows," replied the Cree, while the excited dog bared his white fangs in a snarl at the strangers peering down at the canoe.

"Keep your dog quiet!" the officer rasped.

Gaspard spoke to the husky.

"Now make your boat fast to the ladder and come aboard."

After the long months he had spent alone with his dog, the half-breed welcomed the opportunity for a chat and a meal of ship's rations with the crew of the vessel. Furthermore, she was out of her course, in a dangerous position, close in on the Albany shoals, and the captain needed the information he could give him. So lashing his canoe to the rope ladder dropped over the side, Laroque clambered

aboard, followed by the yelps of his deserted dog.

Twice Laroque had seen ships of the Hudson's Bay Company loading furs at Charlton Island, but he knew at once from the looks of the long deck-house and the size of the vessel that she was not one of these. A group of sailors, talking together in a strange tongue, eyed with frank curiosity the swart trapper with gaudy Hudson's Bay sash, skinning-knife at belt, and sealskin moccasins as he followed one of the crew aft. At Charlton Island the men of the company ships spoke English and were friendly to Cree and Eskimo, he thought. Surely there was something queer about this ship.

On the after-deck three men in uniform were conversing in low tones. As he approached the group, the restless eyes of the Cree made out, behind the officers, two long shapes covered with tarpaulin, which failed to conceal their heavy metal standards rising from the deck-plates. What could these things be, he wondered. No Hudson's Bay ship carried such strange gear on its after-deck.

The curious eyes of Laroque were suddenly shifted to the bearded officer who had hailed him from the ship by the abrupt question: "What's your name?"

The domineering manner of the speaker and the undisguised curiosity and amusement with which the others inspected the half-breed, from fox-skin cap to moccasins, stung the trapper's pride. He had boarded this ship to render the captain a service. The manner of these people was not to his taste. His face set hard as his small eyes met those of his questioner when he answered:

"Gaspard Laroque."

"You are an Indian?"

The tone of the officer brought the blood leaping into the face of Laroque. He, Gaspard Laroque, who held the record for the bitter Fort Hope winter trail from Albany, whose prowess as canoeman and hunter was known from the Elkwan barrens to Rupert House, was no sailor to be treated like a dog.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »