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cautery, a surgical instrument invented for cauterizing, has been adapted to the use of the artist, so that he can work with comparative freedom.
Formerly the fire-etcher employed copper tools, not unlike soldering-irons, set into wooden or other non-conducting handles. These tools cooled rapidly, and had to be constantly shifted, while the oxidation of the copper necessitated constant cleaning. What with feeding his fire and blowing it up with hand-bellows, it is a wonder that the wood-burner produced anything at all artistic. To-day the hollow burning-point is of platinum, a metal which does not oxidize. Once heated, a never-failing current of naphtha gas, burning within, enables theartist to work for hours, wholly independent of the forge, the bellows, and other
The electrode, another surgical cautery, is likewise used in burnt-wood work, and electricity will in time supersede all other means of heating the burning-point.
With these facilities at hand, the fire-etcher must still encounter difficulties not found in practising the kindred arts. Clouds of smoke constantly rise in his face, while the incessant flashing of the fiery point is always trying to the eye. He must have a deep-rooted love of his art, and the patience of Job.
The wood-carvings and wrought-metalwork
GOTHIC PANEL DESIGNED AND BURNED BY J. WILLIAM FOSDICK.
of the middle ages attract the lover of the picturesque by certain irregularities of line and angularities of curve and plane, which do no injury to the whole, yet give it a character not found in the work of the rounded, sandpapered school of to-day. The tools of these masters were often crude, and many of these accidental accents were doubtless due to this fact. Yet these men expressed grand ideals, and their work as it stands to-day has an individuality which is largely due to this very picturesqueness. There are compara
tively few workers in wood to-day who appreciate this quality, and only recently has really artistic wood-carving been done by American carvers. One of our most eminent architects, in speaking of the desire of his wood-carvers to destroy all character by the sandpapering process, says that it is necessary to stand over these men and to take their work from them while they still consider it unfinished.
Burnt-wood decoration must be something more than a simple scorching or tinting of the wood: the same effect can be more easily produced with bitumen or Vandyke brown. Its value as a means of decoration lies in the wonderful character of its intaglio line-work and flat tones, and in the picturesque inequality of surface which the more or less vigorous burning produces. He who best knows the value of a line can best practise this art; but he who seeks to create modeled realisms can only degrade it. A rigid devotion to accentuated intaglio line-work and to the laws of flat decoration must of necessity result in original effects unlike those produced by other mediums.
As of old the master wood-carvers and violin-makers hoarded flawless, dry wood, so must the wood-burner of to-day keep a vigilant eye upon the lumber-yards, and lay in a stock of flawless, dry wood. His material cannot be too well seasoned. It must be white, free from gum, and soft: white because contrasts are wanted, and free from resin that it may not turn black with age. As it is the fiber of the wood which is blackened or carbonized, not the resin, it is obvious that the freer the wood is from gummy substances the better. The most satisfactory fire-etching has been done on panels of French poplar, which is soft, white, close-grained, and free from gum. The common white wood or yellow poplar of America yields readily to treatment with the hot iron, and can be successfully used in conjunction with harder, rarer woods, as beneath the magic touch of the burning tool it becomes rich and solid. The harder woods are more difficult to work, but, by combining the natural grain of woods like maple or oak with the rich burnt tones, beautiful results may be obtained.
I know of a hall which is paneled from floor to ceiling with golden-hued Mexican mahogany upon which has been successfully burned a frieze of delicate Renaissance traceries. On the other hand, I know of a low-toned diningroom paneled in antique black oak, with a deeply burned frieze, and containing in the massive chimneypiece a historical decorative
DECORATIVE PORTRAIT OF LOUIS XIV IN BURNT WOOD, ADAPTED FROM EXISTING PORTRAITS IN THE MUSEUM OF VERSAILLES. BY J. WILLIAM FOSDICK. OWNED BY THE PENNSYLVANIA ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS.
portrait, and in the four walls other similar ing, mosaic, or stained glass may destroy the portraits, all in burnt wood.
Every architect is willing to acknowledge that the utmost circumspection is necessary in applying any foreign material to architectural spaces. A glaring piece of mural paint
artistic value of an interior, however purely and chastely conceived. It is obvious, therefore, that the very simplicity of the art of wood-burning, the unobtrusive quality of its color, and the utter impossibility of color dis
lieu of mural painting, tapestry, embossed leather, and tiles.
The commercial spirit of the age asks for decoration in large quantities, but it must be supplied cheaply; consequently the lover of truth and artistic originality is disgusted and disheartened at seeing the public accept and approve of mechanically produced decorations which are but base mockeries of nobler reali
It would be useless to compare or contrast this class of burnt-wood work with that of the artist. We can more easily consign it to its proper category-that of the branded shovel-handle and cigar-box cover.
It would be impossible to state positively when this art was first practised. Burnt panels have been found in various parts of Europe, set into ancient furniture, chimneypieces, and
wainscoting. In the museums of Europe there are marriage-chests, coffers, and panels, dating from the fifteenth century or thereabouts, upon which a species of low-relief woodwork, not unlike the socalled «fret-saw » work of to-day, has been applied or chiseled out, the flat surface being richly ornamented with fine traceries unmistakably burned with heated points. Some years ago a New York artist, while wandering through the sea-shore villages of Wales, found in a peasant's hut a rare panel of burntwood work of the Italian Renaissance (about the fifteenth century). The fisherman had found it on the beach, where it had drifted from some wreck. In the sacristy of the little octagonal church of Sant' Ercolano at Perugia are some ancient chests which were quaintly decorated with hot irons some four hundred years ago.
THE WITCHES FROM MACBETH.» BURNED WITH A RED-HOT POKER BY
We are all familiar with the Japanese decoration of bamboo with the blowpipe, and any tourist to Switzerland or Germany can recall the rude scorching or tinting of the little carved souvenirs sold in the booths. These latter forms cannot, of course, be classed as manifestations of the art in question.
The art first made its appearance in this country nearly fifty years ago, when Ball Hughes, the English sculptor, residing in Dorchester, Massachusetts, became well known as a burner of «poker pictures.» As copies of old English and Italian masters, they possessed merit, being executed with marvelous deftness. They were not decorative, nor were
they intended to be such. Only recently has this medium been used in decoration, which is its only legitimate field.
Mr. H. C. Ives, art director of the Columbian Exposition, in his visits to all the capitals of Europe found but one interior completely decorated with burnt wood. It was the reception-room of the Stockholm Technological School of Art, which school, says Mr. Ives, is one of the best in the world. The apartment-a reception-room adjoining the director's office-was finished in every part by students. The mass of the woodwork was dark; the panels of doors, wainscot, and ceiling were all of satinwood, into which had been burned Renaissance designs. The decorations of the room, comprising stained glass, embossed leather, porcelain, etc., were all the work of students-«a rare pleasure,» says Mr. Ives, «to see the true idea of art education
ENGLISH BURNT-WOOD PANEL IN LIBRARY OF WHITE STAR STEAMSHIP «TEUTONIC.» DESIGNED BY ALDAM HEATON.
thus practically carried out in the adornment of the school edifice itself.>>
The art of wood-burning may be easily abused. The ignorant may debase it by failing to recognize its proper sphere, but it will
become an important factor in the furtherance of pure decoration so long as it is employed by the artist alone; for surely only the artist can give it that seriousness and strength without which it will be merely a passing fad.
J. William Fosdick.
BY PROF. FLINDERS PETRIE, D. C. L., LL. D.
WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO HIS RECENT DISCOVERY OF THE BUST OF MERENPTAH.1
O every English-speaking person the one preeminent Pharaoh is he whose long baffling with Moses has been familiar from our earliest reading the ideal bad man, who has stood for a type of an oppressor through all these ages. We have his ways and character strongly drawn by his enemies, and we have conveniently credited him with all wickedness, and labeled him along with the monsters of humanity. Before we can look at the other side and see the real Pharaoh,» we must come to some conclusion as to which of the hundreds of Egyptian Pharaohs was intended. by the Hebrew account. There have been several attempts at identifying him during the last eighteen hundred years that the matter has been studied; but as no trace of the Israelites could be found in Egypt, there was nothing to go upon on one side of the history. Josephus boldly claimed the Hyksos invaders of Egypt as glorious conquering ancestors of his: a daring appropriation, to which we owe the invaluable preservation of the Egyptian account of those Hyksos. But no one defends such a position now. Some have thought that one of the kings of the eighteenth dynasty (1587-1328 B. C.) must be the Exodus Pharaoh, mainly because of the long period supposed requisite for the history of the Judges. But there has been a more general agreement that it was Rameses the Great who oppressed the Israelites, and his son Merenptah who let them go. When Pithom was found some years
ago by M. Naville, and it was seen to have been mainly rebuilt by Rameses II, there was a presumption that the city built by the Israelites must have been this city of Rameses. The adjacent city being named Raamses (Ex. i. 11) has also been generally taken as an evidence of the reign in which it was built. Yet, so far, not a trace of Israelites by name or by object could be found in all the searchings of the monuments or diggings in the mounds. Until last February no trace of the existence of any such people was known in Egypt.
At last, in a clearance of the site of the funeral temple of Merenptah, at Thebes, I found a very large tablet of black granite with a long inscription of his, which mentions the much-sought people of Israel. In this account of his campaign in Syria he says that he had subdued all his enemies: «The Hittites" are quieted; ravaged is Kanah [near Tyre] with all violence; taken is Askalon; seized is Chesulloth; Yanoah of the Syrians" [by Tyre] is made as though it had not existed; the people of Israel is spoiled: it hath no seed; Syria is widowed.» Here one firm point of contact has been reached, and we can be certain that Merenptah knew the name of