« AnkstesnisTęsti »
"Le repos," by Charles Jacque.
Between the first and the fifth states the herdsman has wandered about on the plate, and the sheep have been changed into cattle
etchers to be their own printers. Whistler was photographed at the press, and many of his prints bear in pencil, after the signature, the letters "imp."
The texture, quality, and color of the paper used are also factors in printing. Note, for example, the difference in effect
between an etching by Meryon printed on white paper and one on the greenish paper that he favored, or run through some portfolios of the work of Buhot and mark how he experimented with various kinds. of paper. Happy is the etcher who lights on a supply of old hand-made paper, or
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
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
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 particles 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, Fortuny, 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
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.
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.
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
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.