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History, by Henri Delaborde

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Title: Engraving: Its Origin, Processes, and History

Author: Henri Delaborde

Translator: R. A. M. Stevenson

Release Date: June 13, 2013 [EBook #42936]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


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Principal of the National Art Training School, South Kensington Museum.

Its Origin, Processes, and History.



With an Additional Chapter on English Engraving





The author of "La Gravure," of which work the present volume is a translation, has devoted so little attention to English Engraving, that it has been thought advisable to supplement his somewhat inadequate remarks by a special chapter dealing with this subject.

In accordance with this view, Mr. William Walker has contributed an account of the rise and progress of the British School of Engraving, which, together with his Chronological Table of the better-known English Engravers, will, we feel sure, add much to the value of the Work in the eyes of English readers.



I. The Processes of Early Engraving. The Beginnings of Engraving in Relief. Xylography and Printing with Movable Type 1
II. Playing Cards. The Dot Manner 30
III. First Attempts at Intaglio Engraving. The Nielli of the Florentine Goldsmiths. Prints by the Italian and German Painter-Engravers of the Fifteenth Century 49
IV. Line Engraving and Wood Engraving in Germany and Italy in the Sixteenth Century 86
V. Line Engraving and Etching in the Low Countries, to the Second Half of the Seventeenth Century 118
VI. The Beginning of Line Engraving and Etching in France and England. First Attempts at Mezzotint. A Glance at Engraving in Europe before 1660 150viii
VII. French Engravers in the Reign of Louis XIV 178
VIII. Engraving in France and in other European Countries in the Eighteenth Century. New Processes: Stipple, Crayon, Colour, and Aquatint 211
IX. Engraving in the Nineteenth Century 248
A Chapter on English Engraving 287
Chronological Table of English Engravers 331
Index 343





The nations of antiquity understood and practised engraving, that is to say, the art of representing things by incised outlines on metal, stone, or any other rigid substance. Setting aside even those relics of antiquity in bone or flint which still retain traces of figures drawn with a sharp-pointed tool, there may yet be found in the Bible and in Homer accounts of several works executed by the aid of similar methods; and the characters outlined on the precious stones adorning the breastplate of the high-priest Aaron, or the scenes represented on the armour of Achilles, might be quoted amongst the most ancient examples of the art of engraving. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Etruscans have left us specimens of goldsmith's work and fragments of all kinds, which, at any rate, attest the practice of engraving in their countries. Finally, every one is aware that metal seals and dies of engraved stone were in common use amongst the Romans.

Engraving, therefore, in the strict sense of the2 word, is no invention due to modern civilisation. But many centuries elapsed before man acquired the art of multiplying printed copies from a single original, to which art the name of engraving has been extended, so that nowadays the word signifies the operation of producing a print.

Of engraving thus understood there are two important processes or methods. By the one, strokes are drawn on a flat surface, and afterwards laboriously converted by the engraver into ridges, which, when coated with ink, are printed on the paper in virtue of their projection. By the other, outlines, shadows, and half-tints are represented by incisions intended to contain the colouring matter; while those parts meant to come out white on paper are left untouched. Wood-cutting, or engraving in relief, is an example of the first method; while to the second belongs metal-work or copperplate engraving, which we now call engraving with the burin, or line engraving.

In order to engrave in relief, a block, not less than an inch thick, of hard, smooth wood, such as box or pear, is used. On this block every detail of the design to be engraved is drawn with pen or pencil. Then such places as are meant to come out white in the print are cut away with a sharp tool. Thus, only those places that have been covered beforehand by the pencil or the pen remain at the level of the surface of the block; they only will be inked by the action of the roller; and when the block is subjected to the action of the press, they only will transfer the printing ink to the proof.

3 This method, earlier than that of the incised line, led to engraving "in camaïeu," which was skilfully practised in Italy and Germany during the sixteenth century. As in camaïeu engraving those lines which define the contours are left as ridges by the cutting away of the surrounding surface, we may say that in this method (which the Italians call "chiaroscuro") the usual processes of engraving in relief are employed. But it is a further object of camaïeu to produce on the paper flat tints of various depths: that is to say, a scale of tones somewhat similar to the effect of drawings washed in with Indian ink or sepia, and touched up with white. Now such a chromatic progression can only be arrived at by the co-operation of distinct processes. Therefore, instead of printing from a single surface, separate blocks are employed for the outlines, shadows, and lights, and a proof is taken by the successive application of the paper to all these blocks, which are made to correspond exactly by means of guiding marks.

A third style of engraving in relief, the "early dot manner," was practised for some time during the period of the Incunabuli, when the art was, as the root of this Latin word shows, still "in its cradle." By this method the work was no longer carried out on wood, but on metal; and the engraver, instead of completely hollowing out those parts destined to print light, merely pitted them with minute holes, leaving their bulk in relief. He was content that these masses should appear upon the paper black4 relieved only by the sprinkling of white dots resulting from the hollows.

We just mention by way of note the process which produced those rare specimens called "empreintes en pâte." All specimens of this work are anterior in date to the sixteenth century, and belong less strictly to art than to industry, as the process only consisted in producing on paper embossed designs strongly suggesting the appearance of ornaments in embroidery or tapestry. To produce these inevitably coarse figures a sort of half-liquid, blackish gum or paste was introduced into the hollow portions of the block before printing. On the block thus prepared was placed a sheet of paper, previously stained orange, red, or light yellow, and the paste contained in the hollow places, when lodged on the paper, became a kind of drawing in relief, something like an impasto of dark colour. This was sometimes powdered with a fluffy or metallic dust before the paste had time to harden.

Though simple enough as regards the mere process, in practice line engraving demands a peculiar dexterity. When the outlines of the drawing that is to be copied have been traced and transferred to a plate usually made of copper1 the metal is5 attacked with a sharp tool, called the dry-point. Then the trenches thus marked out are deepened, or fresh ones are made with the graver, which, owing to its shape, produces an angular incision. The appearance of every object represented in the original must be reproduced solely by these incised lines: at different distances apart, or tending in various directions: or by dots and cross-hatchings.

Line engraving possesses no other resources. Moreover, in addition to the difficulties resulting from the use of a refractory tool, we must mention the unavoidable slowness of the work, and the frequent impossibility of correcting faults without having recourse to such drastic remedies as obtaining a fresh surface by re-levelling the plate where the mistakes have been made.

Etching by means of aquafortis, originally used by armourers in their damascene work, is said to have been first applied to the execution of plates in Germany towards the close of the fifteenth century. Since then it has attracted a great many draughtsmen and painters, as it requires only a short apprenticeship, and is the quickest kind of engraving. Line engravers have not only frequently used etching in beginning their plates, but have often employed it, not merely to sketch in their subject, but actually in conjunction with the burin.6 Many important works owe their existence to the mixture of the two processes, among others the fine portraits of Jean Morin, and the admirable "Batailles d'Alexandre," engraved by Gérard Audran, after Lebrun. But at present we are only occupied with etching as practised separately and within the limits of its own resources.

The artist who makes use of this method has to scoop no laborious furrows. He draws with the needle, on a copper plate covered with a coating of varnish, suggestions of form as free as the strokes of pen or pencil. At first these strokes only affect the surface of the copper where the needle has freed the plate from varnish. But they become of the necessary depth as soon as a certain quantity of corrosive fluid has been poured on to the plate, which is surrounded by a sort of wax rampart. For a length of time proportioned to the effect intended, the acid is allowed to bite the exposed parts of the metal, and when the plate is cleaned proofs can be struck off from it.

With the exception of such few modifications as characterise prints in the scraped or scratched manner, called "sgraffio," and in the stippled manner, the methods of engraving just mentioned are all that have been used in Europe from the end of the Middle Ages up to about the second half of the seventeenth century. We need not, therefore, at present mention more recent processes, such as mezzotint, aquatint, &c., each of which we shall touch upon at its proper place in the history of the art. Before7 proceeding with this history, let us try to recollect the facts with which we have prefaced it; and, as chronological order proscribes, to differentiate and classify the first productions of relief engraving.

However formal their differences of opinion on matters of detail, technical writers hold as certain one general fact. They all agree in recognising that the methods of relief engraving were practised with a view to printing earlier than the method of intaglio. What interval, however, separates the two discoveries? At what epoch are we to place the invention of wood engraving? or if the process, as has been often alleged, is of Asiatic origin, when was it brought into Europe? To pretend to give a decisive answer to these questions would be, at least, imprudent. Conjectures of every sort, and even the most dogmatic assertions, are not wanting. But the learned have in vain evoked testimony, interpreted passages, and drawn conclusions. They have gone back to first causes, and questioned the most remote antiquity; they have sometimes strangely forced the meaning of traditions, and have too often confounded simple material accidents with the evidences of conscious art properly so called. Yet the problem is as far from solution as ever, and, indeed, the number and diversity of opinions have up till now done little but render conviction more difficult and doubt more excusable.

Our authorities, for instance, are not justified in connecting the succession of modern engravers with those men who, "even before the Deluge, engraved8 on trees the history of their times, their sciences, and their religion."2 Nor is the mention by Plutarch of a certain almost typographical trick of Agesilaus, King of Sparta, excuse enough for those who have counted him among the precursors of Gutenberg. It is by no means impossible that Agesilaus, in a sacrifice to the gods on the eve of a decisive battle may have been clever enough to deceive his soldiers, by imprinting on the liver of the victim the word "Victory," already written in reverse on the palm of his hand. But in truth such trickery only distantly concerns art; and if we are to consider the Greek hero as the inventor of printing, we must also allow that it has taken us as long as eighteen centuries to profit by his discovery.

We shall therefore consider ourselves entitled to abandon all speculations on the first cause of this discovery in favour of an exclusive attention to such facts as mark an advance from the dim foreshadowing of its future capabilities to the intelligent and persevering practice of the perfected processes of the art. We shall be content to inquire towards what epoch this new method, the heir of popular favour, supplemented the old resources of the graphic arts by the multiplication of engravings in the printing press. And we may therefore spare ourselves the trouble of going back to doubtful or remote information, to archæological speculations, more or less excused by certain passages in Cicero, Quintilian, and Petronius9 or by a frequently quoted phrase of Pliny on the books, ornamented with figures, that belonged to Marcus Varro.3

Moreover in examining the historical question from a comparatively modern epoch only, we are not certain to find for ourselves, still less to provide for others, perfectly satisfactory answers. Reduced even to these terms, such a question is complicated enough to excuse controversy, and vast enough to make room for a legendary as well as a critical view of the case. Xylography, or block printing, which may be called the art of stamping on paper designs and immovable letters cut out on wood, preceded without doubt the invention of printing in movable metal characters. Some specimens authentically dated, such as the "St. Christopher" of 1423, and certain prints published in the course of the following years, prove with undeniable authority the priority of block printing. It remains to be seen if these specimens are absolutely the first engraved in Europe; whether they illustrate the beginning of the art, or only a step in its progress; whether, in one word, they are types without precedent, or only chance survivals of other and more ancient styles of wood engraving.

Papillon, in support of the opinion that the earliest attempts took place at Ravenna before the end of the thirteenth century, brings into court a somewhat doubtful story. Two children of sixteen, the Cavaliere Alberico Cunio and his twin sister10 Isabella, took it into their heads in 1284 to carve on wood "with a little knife," and to print by some process seemingly as simple a series of compositions on "the chivalrous deeds of Alexander the Great." The relations and friends of the two young engravers, Pope Honorius IV. amongst others, each received a copy of their work. After this no more was heard of the discovery till the day when Papillon miraculously came across evidences of it in the library of "a Swiss officer in retirement at Bagneux." Papillon unfortunately was satisfied with merely recording his discovery. It never occurred to him to ensure more conclusive publicity, nor even to inquire into the ultimate fate of the prints he only had seen. The collection of "The Chivalrous Deeds of Alexander the Great" again vanished, and this time not to reappear. It is more prudent, in default of any means of verification, to withhold our belief in the precocious ability of the Ravenna twins, their xylographic attempts, and the assertions of their admirers, although competent judges, such as the Abbé Zani4 and after him Emeric David, have not hesitated to admit the authenticity of the whole story.


The learned Zani had, in truth, his own reasons for taking Papillon at his word. Had the story tended to establish the pre-existence of engraving in Germany, he would probably have investigated the matter more closely, and with a less ready faith. But the glory of Italy was directly at issue, and Zani12 honest though he was, did not feel inclined to receive with coldness, still less to reject, testimony which, for lack of better, might console his national self-respect, and somewhat help to avenge what the Italians called "German vanity." Pride would have been a better word, for the pretensions of Germany with regard to wood engraving are based on more serious titles and far more explicit documents than the one discovered by Papillon, and recklessly passed on by Zani. Heinecken and the other German writers on the subject doubtless criticise in a slightly disdainful manner, and with some excess of patriotic feeling. For all that, they defend their opinions by documents, and not by mere traditions; and if all their examples are not quite evidently German, those which are not should in justice be attributed to Flanders, or to Holland, and by no means to Italy.

In this struggle of rival national claims the schools of the Low Countries are entitled to their share of glory. It is quite possible that their claims, so generally ignored towards the end of the last century, should in the present day be accounted the most valid of all; and that, in this obscure question of priority, the presumption may be in favour of the country which supplied an art closely connected with engraving with its first elements and its first examples. It would be unbecoming in every way to pretend to enter here on a detailed history of the origin of printing. The number of exhaustive works on the subject, the explanations of M. Léon de Laborde, M. Auguste Bernard, and more recently13 of M. Paeile, would render it a mere lesson in repetition or a too easy parade of borrowed learning. Anyhow, the discovery of printing with type is so intimately connected with the printing of engravings, and the practical methods in both are so much alike, that it is necessary to mention a few facts, and to compare a few dates. We shall therefore, under correction, reduce to the limits of a sketch the complete picture drawn by other hands.

If printing be strictly understood to mean typography, or the art of transferring written matter to paper by means of movable and raised metal types, there can be no doubt that its discovery must date from the day on which there was invented at Mayence the process of casting characters in a mould previously stamped in the bottom by a steel die bearing the type to be reproduced.

Gutenberg, with whom the idea of this decisive improvement originated, is in this sense the earliest printer. His "Letters of Indulgence" of 1454 and his "Bible" are the oldest examples of the art with which he is for ever associated. In a general sense, however, and in a wider meaning of the word, it may be said that printing was known before Gutenberg's time, or at least before he published his typographical masterpieces. People previously knew both how to print broadsides from characters cut on a single block, and how to vary the arrangement of the text by using, in place of an immovable row of letters, characters existing as separate types, and capable of various combinations. On this point14 we must trust to the testimony of one of Gutenberg's workmen, Ulrich Zell, the first printer established in Cologne. Far from attributing to his master the absolute invention of movable type, he merely contrasts with the process known and practised in the Low Countries before the second half of the fifteenth century "the far more delicate process" of cast type "that was discovered later." And Ulrich Zell adds, "the first step towards this invention was taken in 1440 in the printing of the copies of Donatus5 which were printed before this time in Holland (ab illis atque ex illis)."

Now if these copies of Donatus were not printed by means of movable type, why should they be mentioned rather than the many other works equally fitted to give a hint to Gutenberg? Why, in going back to the origin of the discovery, should his pupil say nothing of those illustrated legends which were xylographically cut and sold in all the Rhenish towns, and which the future inventor of printing must have seen hundreds of times? For the attention of Gutenberg to have been thus concentrated on a single object, there must have been some peculiar merit and some stamp of real progress in the mode of execution to distinguish the copies of Donatus printed at Haarlem from other contemporary work. Laurence Coster—the name attributed to the inventor of the process which Gutenberg improved—must have already made15 use of a method more closely allied than any other to the improvements about to follow, and destined to put a term to mere experiments.

To suppose the contrary is to misunderstand the words of Ulrich Zell and the influence which he attributes to the Dutch edition of Donatus, from which Gutenberg derived "the first idea of his invention." It is still more difficult to understand how, if the Donatuses are block-printed, reversed letters are sometimes found in the fragmentary specimens which survive. There is nothing the least extraordinary in such a mistake when it can be explained by the carelessness of a compositor of movable type, but such a mistake would really be incredible on the part of a xylographic workman. What possible caprice could have tempted him to engrave occasional letters upside down? One could only suppose he erred, not from inadvertence, but with voluntary infidelity and in calculated defiance of common sense.

The discovery which has immortalised the name of Gutenberg should be recognised and admired as the conclusion and crown of a series of earlier attempts in printed type. Taking into account the inadequacy of the movable type, whether of wood or of any other substance, first employed by the Dutch, and the perfection of the earliest specimens of German printing, it can and should be admitted that, before the publication of the "Letters of Indulgence," the "Bible," and other productions from the workshop of Gutenberg and his fellow-labourers16 attempts at genuine typography had been already pursued, and to a certain extent rewarded with success.

From the very confession of Ulrich Zell, a confession repeated by the anonymous author of the "Chronicle of Cologne" printed in 14996 the first rude essay in the art (prefiguratio) was seen in the town of Haarlem. We may, in short, conclude that the idea of combining designs cut on wood with a separate letterpress in movable types, belongs in all probability to Holland.

One of the oldest collections of engravings with subject matter printed by this process is the "Speculum Humanæ Salvationis," mentioned by Adrian Junius in his "Batavia"—written, it would seem, between the years 1560 and 1570, but not published till 1588, many years after his death. Therein it is expressly stated that the "Speculum" was printed before 1442 by Lourens Janszoon Coster. It is true that Junius is speaking of events which occurred more than a century before the time to which he ascribes them: "on the testimony," as he says, "of very aged men, who had received this tradition, as a burning torch passed from hand to hand." And this belated narrative has appeared, and may still appear, somewhat doubtful. We ourselves consider the doubt to be exaggerated, but we shall not insist on that. The specimens survive which gave rise to such legends17 and commentaries; and it is fitting they should be questioned.

Four editions of the "Speculum" are known, two in Dutch and two in Latin. It must be understood that we only speak of the editions which have no publishers' names, no dates, nor any sign of the place where they were published: the "Speculum," a sort of Christian handbook, much used in the Low Countries, having been frequently reprinted, with due indication of names and places, during and after the last twenty years of the fifteenth century. The oldest Dutch edition that is dated, the one of 1483, printed by John Veldenaer, reproduces certain engravings which had already embellished the four anonymous editions, with the difference that the plates have been sawn in two to suit the dimensions of a smaller volume. Hence, whatever conjectures may exist as to the date of the first publication, we have, at least, a positive fact: as the original plates only appear in a mutilated state in the copies printed in 1483, it is evident that the four editions where they appear entire are of earlier date. These questions remain:—first, whether they are earlier, too, than the second half of the fifteenth century—earlier, that is, than the time when Gutenberg gave to the world the results of his labour? and second, whether they originated, like the edition of Donatus, in a Dutch workshop?

Doubt seems impossible on the last point. These four editions are all printed with the same cuts, on the same paper made in Brabant, and under the same typographical conditions, with the exception of18 some slight differences in the characters of the two Dutch editions, and the insertion of twenty leaves xylographically printed in one of the two Latin editions. Is it, then, likely, or even possible, that these books belong, as has been supposed, to Germany?


German Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)

The thing might, indeed, be possible, were it merely a question of the copies in Latin; but the Dutch ones cannot be supposed to have been published anywhere but in Holland; and the origin of the latter once established, how are we to explain the typographical imperfection of the work if not by ignorance of the process which Gutenberg was to popularise? According to M. Paeile, a competent judge in such a matter7 the letterpress of the Dutch "Speculum" is written in the pure dialect of North Holland, as it was spoken in those parts towards the end of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the fifteenth. Armed, therefore, with but a few particulars as to printing and idiom, it will not be too bold in us to fix the date of publication between the first and second quarters of the fifteenth century. It may be added that the costume of the figures is of the time of Philip the Good; that the taste and style of the drawing suggests the influence of the brothers Van Eyck; and that there is a decided contrast between the typographical imperfection of the text and the excellent quality of the plates. Art, and20 art already well on its way and confident of its powers, is thus seen side by side with an industrial process still in its infancy: a remarkable proof of the advances already accomplished in wood engraving before printing had got beyond the rudimentary period. For our present purpose, this is the chief point, the essential fact to verify.


German Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)


Fig. 4.ST. JOHN.

Flemish Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)

22 The discovery of printing, therefore, is doubtless a result of the example of relief engraving, and there is no doubt either that the first attempts at printing with type originated in Holland. Whilst Coster, or the predecessor of Gutenberg, whoever he was, was somewhat feebly preparing the way for typographical industry, painting and the arts of design generally had in the Low Countries attained a degree of development which they had not before reached, except in Italy. Amongst the German contemporaries of Hubert and John van Eyck, what rival was there to compare with these two masters?—what teacher with so notable an influence, or so fertile a teaching? Whilst, on the banks of the Rhine, artists unworthy of the name and painters destitute of talent were continuing the Gothic traditions and the formulæ of their predecessors, the school of Bruges was renewing, or rather founding, a national art. By the beginning of the fifteenth century the revolution was accomplished in this school, which was already distinguished by the Van Eycks, and to which Memling was about to add fresh lustre. Germany, too, in a few years was to glory in a like success; but the movement did not set in till after the second half of the century. Till then everything remained dead, everything betrayed an extreme poverty of method and doctrine. If we judge the German art of the time by such work, for instance, as the "St. Christopher," engraved in 1423, a single glance is sufficient to reveal the marked superiority of the contemporary Flemings. It is, then, far from unnatural24 that, at a time when painters, goldsmiths, and all other artists in Flanders were so plainly superior in skill to their co-workers in Germany, the Flemish engravers should likewise have led the van of progress26 and taken their places as the first in the history of their art.


Flemish Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)


German Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)


German Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)

It may be said that the proofs are insufficient. Be it so. We shall not look for them in the "Virgin" on wood, belonging to the Brussels Library, and bearing the date 1418, as the authenticity of this date, to our thinking perfectly genuine, has been disputed; nor shall we seek for them in the anonymous examples which it seems to us but just to ascribe to the old school of the Low Countries.8


Dutch Wood Engraving. (Fifteenth Century.)

Up to now we are willing to admit that only Germany is in a position to produce a piece of evidence beyond suspicion. With its imposing date of 1423, its time-honoured rights, and official renown, the "St. Christopher," now in the library of Lord Spencer, has privileges which cannot be disputed or questioned. But it does not follow that the wood-cuts of the "Speculum," of the "Biblia Pauperum," of the "Ars Moriendi," and of similar undated publications, must be more recent. Nor, because a dated German print has survived, must it therefore be concluded that nothing was produced at that time except in27 Germany. It should be particularly observed that the plates of the "Speculum" seem well-nigh prodigies28 of pictorial skill and knowledge in comparison with the "St. Christopher;" that their author must have served a long apprenticeship in a good school; that, in short, no art begins with such a piece of work, and that, even supposing these cuts did not appear till after the German print, some time had doubtless elapsed during which the progress they involve had been prepared and pursued.

It is therefore reasonable to suppose that, from the first years of the fifteenth century, the engravers of the Low Countries began, under the influence of the Van Eycks, to be initiated into the conditions of art, and that, like their countrymen the printers, they showed the path which others were to clear and level. It must be remarked, however, that in the beginning printing and wood engraving do not always march on parallel lines—that they do not meet in like order their successive periods of trial and advance. In Germany, up till the time when Gutenberg attained the final stage, and popularised the last secrets of the printing process, painters, draughtsmen, and engravers were all helpless in a rut: from the author of the "St. Christopher" to the engravers of thirty years later, they boast but the roughest and coarsest of ideas and methods. Heinecken, the exaggerated champion of the German cause as against the partisans of Coster, whom he contemptuously calls "the beadle"9—Heinecken himself, speaking of the first German books engraved on wooden tablets, is29 obliged to admit that "when the drawing is examined with a connoisseur's eye, a heavy and barbarous taste appears to reign throughout."10 In Germany the artistic part was to wait upon and follow the example of the industrial: was to lag behind and to plod on in barbarism long after the industrial revolution was accomplished at its side. And it was long before the "wood-cutting" engravers acquired anything like the skill of the printers employed by Gutenberg and by Füst.

In the Low Countries, on the other hand, the regeneration of art preceded mechanical improvement. Even when the latter was in full progress, nay, even when a grand discovery had revealed all the capabilities and fixed the limits of printing, engraving was by no means subordinated, as in Germany, to the advance of the new process, but, on the contrary, had long since acquired a clearness and certainty of execution which was still lacking in the works of the printers. The "Speculum," as we have said, bears testimony to that sort of anomaly between the mechanical imperfection of the Dutch printed texts of the fifteenth century and the merit of the plates by which they were accompanied. Other examples might be mentioned, but it is useless to multiply evidence, and to insist on details. We shall have accomplished enough if we have succeeded in accentuating some of the principal features, and in summing up the essential characteristics of engraving, at the time of the Incunabuli.




In our endeavour to prove the relative antiquity of wood engraving in the Low Countries, we have intentionally rather deferred the purely archæological question, and have sought the first signs of talent instead of the bold beginnings of the art. The origin of wood engraving, materially considered, cannot be said to be confined to the time and country of the pupils of Van Eyck. It was certainly in their hands that it first began to show signs of being a real art, and give promise for the future; but we have still to inquire how many years it had been practised in Europe, through what phases it had already passed, and to what uses it had been applied, before it took this start and received this consecration.

We treat this question of origin with some reserve, and must repeat as our excuse that savants have pushed their researches so far, and unhappily with such conflicting results, and have found, or have thought they found, in the accounts of travellers, or in ancient official or historical documents, so many proofs and arguments in support of different systems, that it becomes equally difficult to accept or to finally reject their various conclusions. The prevailing31 opinion, however, attributes to the makers of playing cards, if not the discovery of wood engraving, at least its first practical application in Europe. Many writers agree on the general principle, but agreement ends when it comes to be question of the date and place of the earliest attempts. Some pronounce in favour of the fourteenth century and Germany; others plead for France, where they say cards were in use from the beginning of the reign of Philip of Valois. Others again, to support the claims of Italy, arm themselves with a passage quoted by Tiraboschi from the "Trattato del Governo della Famiglia," a work written, according to them, in 1299; and they suppose, besides, that the commercial relations of Japan and China with Venice would have introduced into that town before any other the use of cards and the art of making them.

Emeric David, one of the most recent authorities, carries things with a still higher hand. He begins by setting aside all the claimants—Germany with the Low Countries, France as well as Italy.11 Where playing cards were first used, or whether any particular xylographic collection belongs or not to the first years of the fifteenth century, are matters of extremely small importance in his eyes. In the documents brought forward by competent experts as the most ancient remains of wood engraving, he finds instead a testimony to the uninterrupted practice of the art in Europe. For the real origin the32 author of the "Discours sur la Gravure" does not hesitate to go boldly back beyond the Christian era. Nor does he stop there; but sees in the practice of the Greeks under the successors of Alexander a mere continuance of the traditions of those Asiatic peoples who were accustomed from time immemorial to print on textile fabrics by means of wooden moulds.

It would be too troublesome to discuss his facts or his conclusions; so many examples borrowed from the poets, from the historians of antiquity, and the Fathers of the Church, appear to sustain his perhaps too comprehensive theory. The best and the shortest plan will be to take it upon trust, and to admit on the authority of Homer, Herodotus, Ezekiel, and St. Clement of Alexandria, that from the heroic ages till the early days of Christianity, there has been no break in the practice of printing upon various materials from wooden blocks. Still less need we grudge the Middle Ages the possession of a secret already the common property of so many centuries.

But the printing of textiles does not imply the knowledge and practice of engraving properly so called; and many centuries may have passed without any attempt to use this merely industrial process for finer ends, or to apply it to the purposes of art. Seals with letters cut in relief were smeared with colour and impressed on vellum or paper long before the invention of printing. The small stamps or patterns with which the scribes and illuminators transferred the outlines of capital letters to their manuscripts, might well have suggested the last33 advance. And yet how many years and experiments were required to bring it to perfection! Why may we not suppose that the art of engraving, like the art of printing, in spite of early, partial, and analogous discoveries, may have waited long for its hour of birth? And when block printing was once brought from Asia into Europe, why may it not have suffered the same fate as other inventions equally ingenious in principle and equally limited in their earlier applications? Glass, for instance, was well known by the nations of antiquity; but how long a time elapsed before it was applied to windows?

We have said that according to a generally received opinion we must look upon playing cards as the oldest remains of xylography. But the evidence on which this opinion is based has only a negative authority. Because the old books in which cards are mentioned say nothing of any other productions of wood engraving, it has been inferred that such productions did not yet exist; but is it not allowable to ask if the silence of writers in such a case absolutely establishes such a negative? Might not this silence be explained by the nature of the work, and of the subject treated, which was generally literary or philosophical, and quite independent of questions of art? When speaking of cards, whether to formally forbid or only to restrain their use, the chroniclers and the moralists of the fourteenth century, or of the beginning of the fifteenth, probably thought but little of the way they were made. Their intention was to denounce a vice rather than to describe an industrial process. Why, then34 should they have troubled about other works in which this process was employed, not only without danger to religion and morality, but with a view of honouring both? Pious pictures cut in wood by the hands of monks or artisans might have been well known at this time, although contemporary authors may have chosen to mention only cards; and, without pushing conjecture too far, we may take the liberty of supposing that engravers first drew their inspiration from the same source as illuminators, painters on glass, and sculptors. Besides, we know well that art was then only the naïve expression of religion and the emblem of Christian thought. Why should the cutters of xylographic figures have been an exception to the general rule? and what strange freak would have led them to choose as the subject of their first efforts a species of work so contrary to the manners and traditions of all the schools?

Setting aside written testimony, and consulting the engravings themselves which have been handed down to us from former centuries, we are entitled to say that the very oldest playing cards are, at the most, contemporaneous with the "St. Christopher" of 1423 and the oldest known wood-cuts, inasmuch as the engraving of these cards certainly does not date back beyond the reign of Charles VII. That the Italian, German, or French tarocchi (ornamented chequers or cards) were in use before that time is possible; but as none of these early tarocchi have survived, it cannot be known to what extent they represent the progress of the art, and how far they may have served as models for other35 xylographic works: even though it be true that relief engraving, and not merely drawing with the pen, was the means first employed for the making of the tarocchi mentioned here and there in the chronicles.

Such French cards as have come down to us would lead us to believe, in any case, that the progress was slow enough, for they still reveal an extraordinary want of experience both as to shape and effect, and have all the timidity of an art still in its infancy. This must also be said of works of the same kind executed in Germany in the fifteenth century; except the cards, attributed to a contemporary of the Master of 1466, and these are engraved on metal. In Italy alone, cards, or rather the symbolical pieces known rightly or wrongly by the name of tarocchi, possessed, from an artistic point of view, real importance from the time when engraving on metal had begun to take the place of wood-cutting. The artists initiated by Finiguerra into the secrets of the new method displayed good taste, knowledge, and skill; and in such less important work, as well as in that of a higher order, their talent at last inaugurated an era of real progress and of fruitful enterprise.

It is of no consequence, for the matter of that, whether wood engraving was first applied to the making of pious pictures or to the manufacture of cards. In any case the process is generally looked upon as the oldest method of engraving, and as the first to give types to be multiplied in proofs by printing.

36 M. Léon de Laborde, one of the clearest and best informed writers on the origins of engraving and typography, considers, on the other hand, that engraving in relief on metal, rather than the xylographic process, was the proximate cause of the discovery of printing. In a work published in 1839, which unfortunately has yet to receive the amplifications promised by the author12 M. de Laborde declares that the first printed engravings must have been dotted ones: that is, prints produced in the peculiar mode already touched upon, and in which the black parts come out sprinkled with white dots. According to him, engraving, or, to speak more exactly, the printing of engraved work, must have been invented by goldsmiths rather than by draughtsmen or illuminators. The former, by the nature of their craft, possessed the tools and the necessary materials, and were therefore in a better position than any one else to stumble upon the discovery of the process, if not deliberately to invent it. As matter of fact, many of those who worked in the Low Countries, or in the Rhenish provinces, during the first years of the fifteenth century, printed works in the early dot manner: in other words, engraved in relief on metal. And those xylographic specimens which are usually looked upon as the oldest examples of engraving, are in reality only the outcome of a reformation, and the product of an art already modified.



Engraving in the Dot Manner (1406).

38 The opinion expressed some time ago by M. Léon de Laborde has recently been supported by the discovery of two engravings, in the early dot manner, belonging, we think, to the year 1406, and on which we have ourselves published some remarks.13 But our argument being only founded on the similarity of certain external facts, so to speak, and on the probability of certain calculations, it is not really possible to attribute to these documents so secure a standing as to those whose age is established by dates, and set practically beyond question.


Engraving in the Dot Manner (1406).

Now, the oldest of the dated engravings in relief on metal is the "St. Bernardino of Siena," wrongly called the "St. Bernard," belonging to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. This engraving in the dot manner bears the date 1454. It is, therefore, later than the "St. Christopher" engraved on wood, and later even, as we shall presently see, than the first engraving in incised line, the "Pax," by Finiguerra, whose date of printing is certain. Remembering these facts, the separation of the oldest dotted prints from the first specimens of true engraving is only permissible on the ground that they are works executed by a special process. Considered from a purely artistic point of view, they offer little interest. Their drawing, still ruder than that of the German wood-cuts, exhibits an almost hieroglyphic unreality. Their general effect is purely conventional; and, owing to the uniform depth of the40 blacks, their insignificant modelling expresses neither the relief nor the comparative depression of the forms.



Engraving in the Dot Manner (1454).


Engraving in the Dot Manner. (Fifteenth Century.)

In short, we find in these early dotted prints nothing but perfect falseness to nature, and all the mendacity42 inherent in feebleness of taste and slavish conformity to system.

How comes it that this sorry child's-play has appeared to deserve in our day attention which is not always conceded to more serious work? This might be better excused had these prints been investigated in order to demonstrate the principles of the method followed afterwards by the engravers of illustrations for books. The charming borders, for instance, which adorn the "Books of Hours," printed in France at the end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries, would naturally suggest comparisons between the way in which many parts are stippled, and the process of the early dotted engraving. But we may surely term excessive the efforts of certain scholars to fix on these defective attempts in a particular method of work the attention of a public naturally attracted elsewhere. The fact is, however, that in this matter, as well as in questions relating to the origin of wood engraving and printing, national self-respect was at stake, and writers sought in the narrow field of archæology a victory over rival claims which they might less easily have achieved on other grounds.


Engraving in the Dot Manner. (Fifteenth Century.)

Between the authors of the Low Countries and of Germany, long accustomed to skirmishes of the kind, this new conflict might have begun and continued without awaking much interest in other nations; but, contrary to custom, these counterclaims originated neither in Germany nor in the Low Countries. For the first time the name of France was43 heard of in a dispute as to the origin of engraving; and though there was but scant honour to be gained, the unforeseen rivalry did not fail to give additional44 interest to the struggle, and, in France at least, to meet with a measure of favour.

The words "Bernhardinus Milnet," deciphered, or supposed to be deciphered, at the bottom of an old dotted engraving, representing "The Virgin and the Infant Jesus," were taken for the signature of a French engraver, and the discovery was turned to further profit by the assumption that the said "Bernard or Bernardin Milnet" engraved all the prints of this particular class; although, even supposing these to belong to a single school, they manifestly could not all belong to a single epoch. The invention and monopoly of dotted engraving once attributed to a single country, or rather to a single man, these assertions continued to gain ground for some time, and were even repeated in literary and historical works. A day, however, came when they began to lose credit; and as doubts entered even the minds of his countrymen, the supposed Bernard Milnet is now deprived of his name and title, and is very properly regarded as an imaginary being.

Does it follow from this, as M. Passavant14 would have it, that all these prints, naturalised for a little while in France, ought to be restored to Germany? Their contradictory character with regard to workmanship and style might cause one, with the most honest intentions, to hesitate, though their intrinsic value is not such as to cause the former country any great loss.


Fig. 14.ST. GEORGE.

Engraving in the Dot Manner. (Fifteenth Century.)

Fig. 15.ST. DOMINIC.

Engraving in the Dot Manner. (Fifteenth Century.)

Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of anything less interesting, except with regard to the particular nature of the process. The outlines of the figures have none of that drawing, firm even to stiffness, nor46 has the flow of the draperies that taste for abrupt forms, which distinguished the productions of the German school from its beginnings. The least feeble of these specimens, such as the "Saint Barbara," in the Brussels Library, or the "St. George on Horseback," preserved in the Print Department of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, do indeed occasionally suggest some similarity of origin or manner with the school of Van Eyck. But it is unnecessary to debate the point at greater length. Whether produced in France, in the Low Countries, or in Germany, the dotted engravings of the fifteenth century add so little lustre to the land which gave them birth, that no scepticism as to their origin need lie very heavily on the conscience. In the general history of the documents on the origin of engraving, the dotted prints form a series distinguished by the method of their execution from any other earlier or contemporary specimens of work; the date mark 1454, borne by one among the number, gives us47 authentic information as to the time of these strange experiments, these curiosities of handicraft rather than of art. This is as much as we need to bear in mind upon the subject, and quite enough to complete the history of the elementary attempts which preceded or which co-existed for a few years with the beginning of engraving by incised line in Italy.

We have now arrived at that decisive moment when engraving, endowed with fresh resources, was practised for the first time by real masters. Up to the present, the trifling ability and skill possessed by certain wood-cutters and the peculiar methods of dotted engraving have been the only means by which we could measure the efforts expended in the search for new technical methods, or in their use when discovered. We have now done with such hesitating and halting progress. The art of printing from plates cut in intaglio had no sooner been discovered by, or at least dignified by the practice of, a Florentine goldsmith, than upon every side fresh talent was evoked. In Italy and Germany it was a question of who should profit most and quickest by the advance. A spirit of rivalry at once arose between the two schools; and fifteen years had not elapsed since Italian art had given its note in the works of the goldsmith engravers of the school of Finiguerra, before German art had found an equally definite expression in the works of the Master of 1466. But, before examining this simultaneous progress, we shall have to say a few words on the historical part of the question, and to48 return to the origin of the process of intaglio engraving, as we have already done with the origin of engraving in relief. This part of our subject must be briefly and finally disposed of; we may then altogether abandon the uncertain ground of archæological hypothesis.




We have seen that Gutenberg's permanent improvements in the method of printing resulted in the substitution, so far as written speech was concerned, of a mode of reproduction almost infinitely fruitful, and even rapid when compared to the slowness and the limited resources of the xylographic method. Typography was destined to abolish the use of block printing, and more particularly of caligraphy, which, till then, had occupied so many pious and patient hands both in monasteries and in schools. The art of printing from engravings worked similar mischief to the illuminator's craft. Such were, before long, the natural consequences of the progress made; and, we may add, such had been from the first the chief object of these innovations.

Perhaps this double revolution, so potent in its general effect and in its influence on modern civilisation, may have appeared to those engaged in it no more important than a purely industrial improvement. Surely, for instance, we do no injustice to Gutenberg if we accept with some reserve the vast50 political and philosophical ideas, and the purposes of universal enfranchisement, with which he has been sometimes credited? Probably the views of the inventor of printing reached neither so far nor so high. He did not intend to figure as an apostle, nor did he regard himself as devoted to a philanthropic mission, as we should put it in the present day. He considered himself no more than a workman with a happy thought, when he proposed to replace the lengthy and costly labours of the copyist by a process so much cheaper and so much more expeditious.

A somewhat similar idea had already occurred to the xylographic printers. Even the title of one of the first books published by them, the "Biblia Pauperum," or "Bible for the Poor," proved their wish to place within the reach of the masses an equivalent to those illuminated manuscript copies which were only obtainable by the rich. One glance at the ancient xylographic collections is enough to disclose the spirit in which such work was undertaken, and the design with which it was conceived. The new industry imitated in every particular the appearance of those earlier works due to the pen of the scribe or to the brush of the illuminator; and, perhaps, the printers themselves, speculating on the want of discernment in the purchasing public, thought less of exposing the secret of their method than of maintaining an illusion.

In most of the xylographic books, indeed, the first page is quite without ornamentation. There are neither chapter-headings nor ornamental capitals; the51 blank space seems to await the hand of the illuminator, who should step in to finish the work of the printer, and complete the resemblance between the printed books and the manuscript. Gutenberg followed; and even he, although less closely an imitator of caligraphy, did not himself disdain at first to practise some deception as to the nature of his method. It is said that the Bible he printed at Mayence was sold as manuscript; and the letterpress is certainly not accompanied by any technical explanation, or by any note of the printer's name or the mode of fabrication. Not till somewhat later, when he published the "Catholicon," did Gutenberg avow that he had printed this book "without the help of reed, quill, or stylus, but by means of a marvellous array of moulds and punches." Even in this specimen of a process already settled and finally disclosed to the public, the capital letters were left blank in the printing, and were afterwards filled in with brush or pen. It was a farewell salutation to the past, and the latest appearance of that old art which was now doomed to pass away before the new, and to leave the field to the products of the press.

Did the inventor of the art of printing from plates cut in intaglio, like the inventor of the art of typography, only wish at first to extend to a larger public what had hitherto been reserved for the favoured few? Was early engraving but a weapon turned against the monopoly of the miniature painter? We might be tempted to think so, from the number of manuscripts belonging to the second half of the52 fifteenth century, in which coloured prints, surrounded by borders also coloured, are set opposite a printed text, apparently in order to imitate as nearly as possible the familiar aspect of illuminated books. Next in turn came printed books with illustrations, and loose sheets published separately for every-day use. The Italian engravers, even before they began to adorn with the burin those works which have been the most frequently illustrated—such, for instance, as the religious handbooks and the poem of Dante—employed the new process from as early as 1465, to assure their calendars a wider publicity. But let us return to the time when engraving was yet in its early stages, and when—by chance, by force of original genius, or by the mere completion of what had been begun by other hands—a Florentine goldsmith, one Maso Finiguerra, succeeded in fixing on paper the impression of a silver plate on which lines had been engraved in intaglio and filled with black.

Finiguerra's great glory does not, however, lie in the solution of the practical difficulty. Amongst the Italians none before him had ever thought of trying to print from a work engraved in incised line or intaglio on metal; and therefore, at least, in his own country, he deserved the honours of priority. But the invention of the process—that is, in the absolute and literal sense of its name, the notion of reproducing burin work by printing—was certainly not peculiar to Finiguerra. Unconscious of what was passing elsewhere, he may have been the first in Florence to attempt this revolution in art; but53 beyond the frontiers of Italy, many had already employed for the necessities of trade that method which it was his to turn into a powerful instrument of art. His true glory consists in the unexpected authority with which he inaugurated the movement. Although it may be true that there are prints a few years older than any Florentine niello—the German specimens of 1446, discovered but the other day by M. Renouvier15 or the "Virgin" of 1451 described by M. Passavant16—it cannot change the real date of the invention of engraving; that date has been written by the hand of a man of talent, the first engraver worthy of the name of artist.

That Finiguerra was really the inventor of engraving, because he dignified the new process by the striking ability with which he used it, and proved his power where his contemporaries had only exhibited their weakness, must be distinctly laid down, even at the risk of scandalising some of the learned. He has the same right to celebrity as Gutenberg, who, like him, was but the discoverer of a decisive advance; the same right also as Nicolò Pisano and Giotto, the real founders of the race of the Great Masters, and, truly speaking, the first painter and the first sculptor who appeared in Italy, although neither sculpture nor painting were even novelties at the moment of their birth. As a mere question of date, the "Pax" of Florence may not be the earliest example54 of engraving; be it so. But in which of these earlier attempts, now so much acclaimed as arguments against the accepted tradition, can we glean even the faintest promise of the merits which distinguish that illustrious engraving? He who wrought it is no usurper; his fame is a legitimate conquest.

It is a singular coincidence that the discovery of printing and that of the art of taking proofs on paper from a plate engraved in intaglio, or, to speak more exactly, that the final improvements of both these processes, should have sprung up almost simultaneously, one in Italy and the other in Germany. There is only an interval of two years between the time when Finiguerra printed his first engraving in 1452, and the time when Gutenberg exhibited his first attempts at printing in 1454. Till then, copies drawn, painted, or written by hand had been the only efficient means of reproduction. None, even amongst those most capable of original thought or action, considered it beneath them to set forth the thought of others. Boccaccio and Petrarch exchanged whole books of Livy or of Cicero which they had patiently transcribed, and monkish or professional artists copied on the vellum of missals the paintings which covered the walls or adorned the altars of their churches. Such subjects as were engraved on wood were only designed to stimulate the devotion of the pious. Both by their inadequate execution, and the special use for which they were intended, they must rank as industrial products rather than as works of art.

Besides illumination and wood engraving, there55 was a process sometimes used to copy certain originals, portraits or fancy subjects, but more frequently employed by goldsmiths in the decoration of chalices, reliquaries, and altar canons. This process was nothing but a special application and combination of the resources belonging to the long known arts of enamelling and chalcography, which last simply means engraving on metal. The incised lines made by the graver in a plate of silver, or of silver and gold combined, were filled with a mixture of lead, silver, and copper, made more easily fusible by the addition of a certain quantity of borax and sulphur. This blackish-coloured mixture (nigellum, whence niello, niellare) left the unengraved parts exposed, and, in cooling, became encrusted in the furrows where it had been introduced. After this, the plate, when carefully polished, presented to the eye the contrast of a design in dull black enamel traced upon a field of shining metal.

Towards the middle of the fifteenth century this kind of engraving was much practised in Italy, especially in Florence, where the best niellatori were to be found. One of them, Tomaso, or for short, Maso Finiguerra, was, like many goldsmiths of his time, at once an engraver, a designer, and a sculptor. The drawings attributed to him, his nielli, and the bas-reliefs partly by him and partly by Antonio Pollajuolo, would not, perhaps, have been enough to have preserved his memory: it is his invention—in the degree we mentioned—of the art of printing intaglio engravings, or rather of the art of engraving itself, that has made him immortal.

56 What, however, can seem more simple than this discovery? It is even difficult to understand why it was not made before, when we remember not only that the printing of blocks engraved in relief had been practised since the beginning of the fifteenth century, but that the niellatori themselves were in the habit of taking, first in clay and then in sulphur, an impression and a counter-impression of their work before applying the enamel. What should seem more simple than to have taken a direct proof on a thin elastic body such as paper? But it is always easy to criticise after the event, and to point out the road of progress when the end has been attained. Who knows if to-day there is not lying at our very hand some discovery which yet we never think of grasping, and if our present blindness will not be the cause of similar wonder to our successors?

At any rate, Finiguerra had found the solution of the problem by 1452. This was put beyond doubt on the day towards the close of the last century (1797), when Zani discovered, in the Print-Room of the Paris Library, a niello by Finiguerra printed on paper of indisputable date.


The "Pax" of the Baptistery of St. John at Florence.

This little print, or rather proof, taken before the plate was put in niello, of a "Pax"17 engraved by the Florentine goldsmith for the Baptistery of St. John58 represents the Coronation of the Virgin. It measures only 130 millimetres by 87. As regards its size, therefore, the "Coronation" is really only a vignette; but it is a vignette handled with such knowledge and style, and informed with so deep a feeling for beauty, that it would bear with perfect impunity the ordeal of being enlarged a hundred times and transferred to a canvas or a wall. Its claims as an archæological specimen, and the value that four centuries have added to this small piece of perishable paper, must assuredly neither be forgotten nor misunderstood by any one. Yet he would be ill-advised, on the other hand, who should regard this masterpiece of art as a mere historical curiosity.


(Fifteenth Century.)

Fig. 18.

ITALIAN NIELLO. (Fifteenth Century.)

The rare merits which distinguish Finiguerra's "Coronation" are to be seen, though much less conspicuously, in a certain number of works attributed to the same origin. Other pieces engraved at the same time, and printed under the same conditions by unknown Florentine workmen, prove that the example given in 1452 had59 at once created imitators. It must be remarked, however, that amongst such works, whether attributed to Finiguerra or to other goldsmiths of the same time and country, none belong to the class of engravings properly so called. In other words they are only what we have agreed to call nielli: that is, proofs on paper of plates designed to be afterwards enamelled, and not impressions of plates specially and finally intended to be used for printing. It would almost appear that the master and his first followers failed to foresee all the results and benefits of this discovery; that they looked upon it only as a surer test of work than clay or sulphur casts, as a test process suitable to certain stages of the labours of the goldsmith. In one word, from the time when he made his first success till the end of his life, Finiguerra probably only used the new process to forward his work as a niellatore, without its ever occurring to him to employ it for its own sake, and in the spirit of a real engraver.


(Fifteenth Century.)

Florentine engravings of the fifteenth century, other than in niello, or those at least whose origin and date are certain, are not only later than Finiguerra's60 working days, but are even later than the year of his death (1470). In Germany, from the very beginning, so to speak, of the period of initiation, the Master of 1466 and his disciples were multiplying impressions of their works, and profiting by the full resources of the new process. In Florence, on the contrary, there passed about twenty years during which the art seems to have remained stationary and confined to the same narrow field of practice as at first. You may visit the richest public or private collections without meeting (with the exception of works in niello) any authentic and official specimen of Florentine engraving of the time of which we speak.18 You may open books and catalogues, and find no mention of any engraved subject that can be called a print earlier than those attributed to Baccio Baldini, or to Botticelli, which only appeared in the last quarter of the century. Yet it is impossible to find any explanation of this sterility—of this extraordinary absence of a school of engravers, in the exact acceptation of the word, outside of the group of the niellatori.


Illustration from the "Divina Commedia" of 1481.

Some years later, however, progress had led to emancipation. The art of engraving, henceforth free, broke from its industrial servitude, deserted the62 traditions of enamelling and chasing, and took possession of its own domain. There are still to be remarked, of course, a certain timidity and a certain lack of experience in the handling of the tool, an execution at once summary and strangely careful, a mixture of naïve intentions and conventional modes of expression. But the burin, though only able as yet imperfectly to treat lines in mass and vary the values of shadows, has mastered the secret of representing life with precision and elegance of outline, and can render the facial expression of the most different types. Sacred and mythological personages, sybils and prophets, madonnas and the gods of Olympus, the men and women of the fifteenth century, all not only reveal at the first glance their close pictorial relationship to the general inclinations and habits of Florentine art of the fourteenth century, but show us these tendencies continued and confirmed in a fresh form. The delicacy which charms us in the bas-reliefs and the pictures of the time; the aspiration, common to contemporary painters and sculptors, of idealising and heightening the expression of external facts; the love of rare, exquisite, and somewhat subtle expression, are to be found in the works left by the painter-engravers who were the immediate followers of Finiguerra, no less clearly than in the painted and sculptured subjects on the walls of contemporary churches and palaces.


Theseus and Ariadne.

Whatever we may suppose to have been the part due to Baccio Baldini, to Botticelli, to Pollajuolo, or to anybody else; with whatever acuteness we may63 discern, or think we discern, the inequalities of style and the tricks of touch in different men; all their65
works display a vigorous unity, which must be carefully taken into account, inasmuch as it gives its character to the school. Though we should even succeed in separately labelling with a proper name each one of the works which are all really dependent on one another, the gain would be small.


The Prophet Baruch.

Provided that neither the qualities nor the meaning of the whole movement be understood, we may, as regards the distribution of minor parts, resign ourselves to doubt, and even ignorance, and console ourselves for the mystery which enshrouds these nameless talents: and this the more readily that we can with greater impartiality appreciate their merits in the absence of biographical hypothesis and the commentaries of the scholar.


The Sibyl of Cumæ.

The prints due to the Florentine painter-engravers who followed Finiguerra mark a transitional epoch between the first stage of Italian engraving and the time when the art, having entered upon its period of virility, used its powers with confidence, and showed itself equal to any feat. The privileges of fruitfulness and success in this second phase no longer, it is true, belong wholly to Florence. It would seem that, after having again and again given birth to so much talent, Florentine art, exhausted by rapid production, reposed and voluntarily allowed the neighbouring schools to take her place. Even before the appearance of Marc Antonio, the most important proofs of skill were given outside of Tuscany; and if towards the beginning, or at the beginning, of the sixteenth century, the numerous67 plates engraved by Robetta still continued to sustain the reputation of the Florentine school, such a result was owing far less to the individual talent of the engraver, than to the charm and intrinsic value of his models.




The Virgin and the Infant Jesus.

Of all the Italian engravers who, towards the end of the fifteenth century, completed the popularisation in their country of the art whose first secrets and examples were revealed and supplied by Florence, the one most powerfully inspired and most skilful was certainly Andrea Mantegna. We need not here69 recall the true position of this great artist in the history of painting. Such of his pictures and decorative paintings as still exist possess a world-wide fame;70 and, though his engravings are less generally known, they deserve equal celebrity, and would justify equal admiration.


From the Print Representing a Battle of Sea-Gods.

The engraved work of Mantegna consists of only twenty plates, about half of which are religious, and the remainder mythological or historical. Though none of these engravings bears the signature or initials of the Paduan master, their authenticity cannot be doubted. It is abundantly manifest in certain marked characteristics of style and workmanship; in the delicate yet strong precision of the drawing; and in that somewhat rude elegance which was at the command of none of his contemporaries in the same degree. Every part of them, even where they savour of imperfection or of extravagance, bears witness to the indomitable will and independent genius of a master. His touch imparts a passionate and thrilling aspect even to the details of architectural decoration and the smallest inanimate objects. One would suppose that, after having studied each part of his subject with the eye of a man of culture and a thinker, Mantegna, when he came to represent it on the metal, forgot all but the burning impatience of his hand and the fever of the struggle with his material.


The Entombment.


Jesus Christ, St. Andrew, and St. Longinus.

And yet the handling alone of such works as the "Entombment" and the "Triumph of Cæsar" bears witness to the talent of an engraver already more experienced than any of his Italian predecessors and more alive to the real resources of his art. The burin in Mantegna's hand displays a firmness that can no longer be called stiffness; and, while it hardly as yet72 can be said to imitate painting, competes in boldness and rapidity at least with the effect of chalk or the pen. Unlike the Florentine engravers, with their timid sparse strokes which scarcely served to mark the outlines, Mantegna works with masses of shadow produced by means of closer graining, and seeks to73 express, or at any rate to suggest, internal modelling, instead of contenting himself with the mere outlines of the body. In a word, Mantegna as an engraver never forgot his knowledge as a painter; and it is this, combined with the rare vigour of his imagination, which assures him the first place amongst the Italian masters before the time of Marc Antonio.


From the Triumph of Julius Cæsar.

74 Mantegna had soon many imitators. Some of them, as Mocetto, Jacopo Francia, Nicoletto da Modena, and Jacopo de' Barbari, known as the Master of the Caduceus, though profiting by his example, did not push their docility so far as to sacrifice their own tastes and individual sentiment. Others, as Zoan Andrea and Giovanni Antonio da Brescia, whose work has been sometimes mistaken for that of Mantegna himself, set themselves not only to make his manner their own, but to imitate his engravings line for line.

However strongly Mantegna's influence may have acted on the Italian engravers of the fifteenth century, or the early years of the sixteenth, it hardly seems to have extended beyond Lombardy, Venice, and the small neighbouring states. It was neither in Florence nor in Rome that the Paduan example principally excited the spirit of imitation. The works it gave rise to belong nearly all of them to artists formed under the master's very eyes, or in close proximity to his teachings, whether the manner of the leader of the school appeared in the efforts of pure copyists and imitators more or less adroit, or whether it appeared in a much modified condition in the works of more independent disciples.

Fig. 30.MOCETTO.


It was in Verona, Venice, Modena, and Bologna that the movement which Mantegna started in art found its most brilliant continuation. As the engravers, emboldened by experience, gradually tended to reconcile something of their own inspirations and personal desires with the doctrines transmitted to them, assuredly a75 certain amount of progress was manifested and some improvements were introduced into the use or the combination of means; but in spite of such partial divergences, the general appearance of the works proves their common origin, and testifies to the imprudence76 of the efforts sometimes made to split into small isolated groups and infinite subdivisions what, in reality, forms a complete whole, a genuine school.

The same spirit of unity is again found to predominate in all the works of the German engravers belonging to the second half of the fifteenth century. With respect to purpose and style, there is certainly a great difference between the early Italian engravings and those which mark the beginning of the art in the towns of High and Low Germany. But both have this in common: that certain fixed traditions once founded remain for a time almost unchangeable; that certain fixed methods of execution are held like articles of faith, and only modified with an extreme respect for the time-honoured principles of early days. The Master of 1466, and shortly after him, Martin Schongauer, had scarcely shown themselves, before their example was followed, and their teaching obediently practised, by a greater number of disciples than had followed, or were destined to follow, in Italy the lead of the contemporaries of Finiguerra or Mantegna. The influence exerted by the latter had at least an equivalent in the ascendancy of Martin Schongauer; while the Master of 1466, in the character of a founder, which belongs to him, has almost the same importance in the history of German engraving as the Florentine goldsmith in that of Italian engraving.


St. Sebastian.


The Virgin and the Infant Jesus.


St. John the Evangelist.

The Master of 1466 may, indeed, be regarded as the Finiguerra of Germany, because he was the first in his own country to raise to the dignity of an art77 what had been only an industrial process in the hands of talentless workmen. Like wood engraving, intaglio engraving, such as we see it in German prints some years before the works of the Master of 1466, had only78 succeeded in spreading abroad, in the towns on the banks of the Rhine, productions of a rude or grotesque symbolism, in which, notwithstanding recent attempts to exaggerate their value, a want of technical experience was as evident as extreme poverty of conception. These archæological curiosities can have no legitimate place amongst works of art, and we may without injustice take still less account of them, as the rapid progress made by the Master of 1466 throws their inferiority into greater relief. If the anonymous artist called the Master of 1466 be the true founder of the German school of engraving; if he show himself cleverer than any of the Italian engravers of the period—from the point of view only of practical execution, and the right handling of the tool—it does not necessarily follow that he holds the same priority in talent as he certainly holds in order of time before all other engravers of the same age and country. One of79 these, Martin Schongauer, called also "handsome Martin," or for short, "Martin Schon," may have a better right to the highest place. Endowed with more imagination than the Master of 1466, with a deeper feeling for truth and a clearer instinct for beauty, he displays at least equal dexterity in the conduct of the work and in the handling of the graver. Assuredly, if we compare Martin Schongauer's prints with the beautiful Flemish or French engravings of the seventeenth century, the combinations of lines which satisfied the German engraver cannot fail to appear insufficient, or even archaically simple; but if we compare them with the engraved work of all countries in the fifteenth century, it will be acknowledged that, even as a technical worker, the master of Colmar19 exhibited a striking superiority over all his81
contemporaries. Such plates as the "Flight into Egypt," the "Death of the Virgin," the "Wise Virgins," and the "Foolish Virgins," are distinguished above all by power and by grace of expression; but to these ideal qualities there is added so much firmness of drawing, and so much decision of handling, that, in spite of all subsequent progress, they deserve to be numbered with those which most honour the art of engraving.


Jesus Betrayed by Judas.


The Entombment.


Figure from the set entitled "The Foolish Virgins."

Martin Schongauer, like the Master of 1466, at once raised up both imitators and rivals in Munich, in Mecheln in Westphalia, in Nuremberg, and in many other towns in the German States. His influence and reputation extended even beyond the borders of Germany; and it was not the artists of the Low Countries alone who sought to profit by his example. In Florence young Michelangelo did not disdain to study, nor even to copy him, for he painted a "Temptation of St. Anthony," after Schongauer's engraving. Italian miniature painters and engravers, Gherardo and Nicoletto da Modena, amongst others, reproduced many of his prints. The very figures and ornamentation which decorate the "Books of Hours," published by Simon Vostre and Hardouin at the beginning of the sixteenth century, show that in the France of that period a zeal for imitation of the master's manner was83 not always restrained by the fear of actual plagiarism. But the influence of Martin Schongauer on the84 progress of art and the talent of artists was more extended and decided in Germany itself. Amongst those who most obediently submitted to, and who best knew how to profit by, that example, we need only mention Bartholomew Schön, Franz von Bocholt, Wenceslas of Olmütz, Israel van Mechenen85 Glockenton, and lastly, the engraver with the monogram "B M," whose most important work, the "Judgment of Solomon," was perhaps engraved from a picture by Martin Schongauer, who like Mantegna, like Pollajuolo, and indeed like the majority of early engravers, was not only a painter, but a singularly good one. His painted pictures still belonging to the town of Colmar, and, setting aside his rare talent as an engraver, even the little "Death of the Virgin," which has been the property of the London National Gallery since 1860, would be enough to establish his reputation.20


St. Anthony.

The importance of such an artist is in every respect that of the leader of a school and a master in the strictest acceptation of the word. Martin Schongauer in his own person, and through the talent he helped to foster, did so much, and so greatly honoured his country, that it is only just to regard him as one of the most glorious representatives of national art, and to place his name beside those of Albert Dürer and Holbein, as the three men in whom the essential qualities and characteristics of the German genius have been most typically represented.




Thanks to the Master of 1466 and to Martin Schongauer, line engraving in Germany was marked by brilliant and unexpected advances, whilst wood engraving merely followed the humble traditions of early days. It is true that the latter process was no longer exclusively applied to the production of occasional unbound prints, or cheap religious pictures on loose leaves, of which we have a specimen in the "Saint Christopher" of 1423. In Germany, towards the end of the fifteenth century, the custom had spread of "illustrating" (as we now call it) type-printed books with wood engravings. To mention a few amongst many examples, we have the "Casket of the True Riches of Salvation" ("Schatzbehalter"), published at Nuremberg in 1491, and the "Chronicorum Liber" called the "Nuremberg Chronicle," printed in the same town in 1493, both of which contain numerous wood-cuts interpolated in the text.

These cuts are not so bad as the earlier German work in the same process, yet they are far from87 good. They scarcely hold out a promise of the advance in skill made some years later by wood-cutters under the influence of Albert Dürer, and if they are compared with the illustrations which adorn Italian books of the same period—the "Decameron" of 1492, for instance, and especially the "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili" of 1499—they appear still worse. Though they are not of much value in themselves, the prints which accompany the writings in the "Casket" and the "Nuremberg Chronicle" deserve attention. They were done from designs supplied by Albert Dürer's master, Michael Wolgemut; and the gulf between the rather feeble talent of the older man, and the profound knowledge and powerful originality of his illustrious pupil, can thus be easily measured.

Albert Dürer was the son of a Hungarian goldsmith established at Nuremberg. He tells us himself how, at the age of fifteen, he left his father's shop for Wolgemut's studio: not that he wished to free himself from parental authority, but simply to hasten the time when he might do his share towards satisfying the wants of a numerous family. "My father," says Albert Dürer, in his autobiographical notes, "could only supply himself, his wife, and children21 with the strict necessaries of life; and spent his life in great hardship and severe hard work. He suffered in addition many adversities and troubles.88 Every one who knew him spoke well of him, for he led a worthy Christian life, was patient and gentle, at peace with every one, and always thankful to God. He did not seek worldly pleasures, was a man of few words, kept little company, and feared God. My dear father was very earnest about bringing up his children in the fear of God, for it was his greatest desire to lead them aright, so that they might be pleasing to God and man. And his daily injunction to us was that we should love God, and deal uprightly with our neighbour.... I felt at length more like an artist than a goldsmith, and I begged my father to let me paint; but he was displeased with the request, for he regretted the time I had lost in learning his trade. However, he gave in to me, and on St. Andrew's Day, 1486, he apprenticed me to Master Michael."

Albert Dürer's progress was indeed rapid, at least his progress in engraving, for he drew with remarkable talent before he entered Wolgemut's studio. The charming portrait of himself at the age of thirteen, still preserved at Vienna in the Albertine Collection, sufficiently proves that he required no lessons from his new master in the skilful handling of a pencil: the teaching of his own mind had been enough. But it was otherwise with engraving, where he had to advance by way of experiment, and gain capacity from practice. And it was not till about 1496, after many years of apprenticeship, that he ventured to publish his first engraved work. His early works, moreover, are very probably only copies from89 Wolgemut22 whereas the original works which followed, though retaining something of the traditional manner, bear nevertheless a stamp of independent feeling. Thus too, and at nearly the same time, the genius of Perugino's gifted pupil began to show itself under the borrowed forms of the only style permitted in the school; and the obedient hand which portrayed the "Sposalizio" in the manner and under the eyes of his master, in secret already obeyed the mind of Raphael.

Meanwhile Albert Dürer, whose fame had begun to spread beyond the walls of Nuremberg, undertook a tour through Germany, and was absent for four years; and when he returned to settle in his native town, he married Agnes Frey, the daughter of a respectable and wealthy merchant in Nuremberg. If we may believe report, the union was unhappy, and darkened and shortened by cruel domestic troubles the life of the noble artist. The story has often been told how his imperious and greedy wife kept him continually at work, and how, as prints paid better than pictures, she would not allow him to sacrifice the burin to the brush. Dreading the reproaches and accusations of idleness to which she gave vent on the smallest provocation, Dürer bent beneath the yoke and rarely left his studio. One day, for instance, they relate that he was discovered in the street by his wife, whom he believed to be at the other end of the town, and was90 forced to return and to expiate his momentary idleness by working far beyond his usual time. The poor artist died at last of overwork and misery; and his hateful widow only regretted his death because it set a term to his earnings.

Such is the account in all the books that deal with Dürer, from the work of the German Sandrart, in the seventeenth century, down to the biographical dictionaries published in our own time by French writers; such is the story which has served as text to so many denunciations of this new Xantippe, and to so many elegies upon her victim. But the facts of the case were not carefully examined. The result of Herr Thausing's scrupulous investigation of the subject, and the authentic testimony he has adduced, show, on the contrary, that Albert Dürer and his wife lived on pretty good terms till his death; so that we may banish as idle fables the torments which he was supposed to have suffered, and the sorrows that were said to have shortened his life.

The story so frequently repeated after Vasari, of Dürer's quarrels with a certain forger of his works at Venice, where copies signed with his monogram were publicly sold as originals, rests on a surer basis. The said forger was a young man of no reputation who had conceived this idea of commanding a sale for his works, and of thus quickly realising a profit on the renown of Dürer and the simplicity of his customers. It was not long, however, before the fraud was discovered91 when he tried, it is said, to turn it into a joke; but the German artist could not be brought to see it in that light. It was a case in which his wife was not concerned, and he could take his own part openly. He applied at once to the Senate, denounced the fraud, and obtained a decree condemning the offender thenceforth to affix to his plates no other name than his own. This name, destined to become celebrated, was no other than that of Marc Antonio Raimondi.

In our own days the truth of this story has been more than once doubted, at least in so far as the legal consequences are concerned, for the forgery itself cannot be denied. The plates of the "Life of the Virgin," engraved by Marc Antonio from Albert Dürer, and bearing the monogram of the latter, are known to every one; but it has been objected as an argument against the sentence that, in the state of morals and legislation in the sixteenth century, to affix another person's signature to these plates did not constitute a misdemeanour; and that Marc Antonio, by appropriating the name and the works of Albert Dürer, did no worse than many imitators of Martin Schongauer had done before him, no worse, indeed, than was presently to be done with regard to his own works by imitators as unscrupulous as himself. This is quite true; but it is no less so that Albert Dürer's signature, so deliberately added by Marc Antonio to the copies he engraved of the "Life of the Virgin," is not to be found on the plates of the "History of the Passion," engraved later on by Marc92 Antonio in imitation of the German master. It is impossible not to suppose that in the meantime a judgment of some sort was passed, obliging the copyist to appear under his true colours.

The just satisfaction accorded to the demands of Albert Dürer was not, however, to preserve him from the injury afterwards done him by imitators of another kind. Some Venetian painters followed the example of Marc Antonio, and, adding insult to injury, energetically abused the very man whose works they impudently copied. "If you saw these men," wrote Dürer to his friend Pirkheimer, "you would take them for the best people in the world. For my part, I can never help laughing at them when they speak to me. They are quite aware that one knows all about their knavery; but they don't care. You may be sure I was warned in time not to eat and drink with them. There are painters in Venice who copy my works, clamouring loudly the while that I am ruining art by departing from the antique."


The Jester and the Lovers.

Albert Dürer, however, found in the welcome he received from the most celebrated Italian artists a compensation for the bad conduct to which he was a victim. Old Giovanni Bellini himself overwhelmed his young rival with praise, and begged for one of his works, for which he declared himself "eager to pay well." Lastly, when Dürer was once more in his own country, and might have considered himself forgotten by the Italian painters, Raphael, the greatest of all, sent him as a token of his admiration some proofs of plates that Marc Antonio had just engraved under93 his own eye. What happened at Venice was nearly happening at Nuremberg. The German engraver did not dream of copying the works of his old imitator as a sort of quid pro quo; but, as he really appreciated them at their true value, he did not hesitate to show them to his pupils, and to recommend them to their imitation. Aldegrever, Hans Schaüflein, Baldung Grün, Hans Sebald Beham, indeed, the greater part of the so-called "Little Masters," who were destined all their lives to remain faithful to tradition, were content to admire without any thought of imitation; but those who were younger and less fixed simply took Albert Dürer at his word. Perhaps he scarcely welcomed such excessive docility. But their master having thus almost acknowledged a superior, these young men hurriedly left him to put themselves under the guidance of the conqueror. The deserters were numerous. Georg Pencz, Bartholomew Beham, and Jacob Binck, who had been the first to cross the Alps, succeeded in copying Marc94 Antonio well enough to cause several of the subjects they engraved to be mistaken for his own. When in their turn, and in Rome itself, they had educated German pupils, these latter returned to their own country to finish the revolution already begun, by spreading still further the taste for the Italian manner; so that the school of Dürer, the only one known in Germany some years before, was, after the second generation, almost entirely absorbed in that of the Italians.

Fig 39.


The Three Soldiers.

The engravings of Albert Dürer, even those produced in the full force of his talents, for a long time obtained but little favour in France and England. They now possess zealous admirers, and modern painting now and then shows signs of being affected by this enthusiasm; it is in the new German school, of which Cornelius and Kaulbach were the chiefs, that the Nuremberg master seems to have exerted the most important influence, and one which is, even in some respects, to be regretted. It would, however, be unjust to Dürer to saddle him with the burden of errors of which he was but the involuntary cause. However exaggerated may have been the reaction produced by his followers three centuries after his death, considered separately and apart from96 them, he remains, nevertheless, an eminent artist and the greatest of all his countrymen. Vasari considers that, as a painter and sculptor, "he would have equalled the great masters of Italy, if he had been born in Tuscany, and if the study of the antique had helped him to impart to his figures as much beauty and elegance as they have truth and delicacy;" as a mathematician he ranked among the first of his time in Germany; as an engraver—and it is as such only that we can look upon him here—he enormously advanced the progress of the art. No one before him ever handled the burin with the same skill and vigour; no one ever cut outlines on the metal with such absolute certainty, or so carefully reproduced every detail of modelling.


Willibald Pirkheimer.


The Holy Face.


The Standard Bearer.


The Ride.


The Pommel of Maximilian's Sword.

The qualities which distinguished his talent and manner are found to nearly the same extent in all his work. As examples, however, peculiarly expressive of his delicate yet powerful talent, we may mention the hunting "St. Hubert"—or, more probably, St. Eustace—kneeling before a stag with a miraculous crucifix on its head, the "St. Jerome in his Cell," the print called the "Knight and Death," and lastly the subject known as "Melancholia," which should rather be called "Reflection," but reflection in its gravest, darkest, one might almost say its most despairing, attitude. This piece, which even Vasari allows to be "incomparable," represents a woman seated, her head resting on one hand, whilst she holds in the other a compass with which she is trifling mechanically. As though to suggest the limitations and97 nothingness of human knowledge, an hour-glass and various scientific instruments are scattered about; whilst in the middle distance a child, doubtless an image of youthful illusions, is attentively writing, and contrasts in its serenity with the troubled countenance and despairing attitude of the principal figure. Had Dürer only engraved this one extraordinary plate, had he only produced this one work, as strikingly original in execution as in intention, it would98 be enough to mark his position for ever in the history of art, and to commend him to everlasting honour.99 But there are many other works from the same hand which might be also mentioned to confirm or to100 increase our admiration. There are many, besides the "Melancholia," where the almost savage energy of the style is allied to an extraordinary manipulative delicacy in the expression of details. Sometimes, indeed, his energy degenerates into violence and his precision into dryness; sometimes—as a rule, in fact—the general effect is impaired by a too detailed insistence on subordinate forms, while the beauty of these forms is at least affected by the minute care with which they have been separately studied and expressed. But these imperfections, or, if you like, these faults, may be attributed in part to the tendencies and prejudices of the period, and in part to that national taste for excessive analysis which has been a characteristic of the German mind in every age. That Dürer's merits, on the other hand, are entirely his own, may easily be seen by comparing his works not only with those of former engravers, but with those of foreign contemporary masters. Neither in Italy, nor anywhere else, is it possible to find in the sixteenth century an engraver of such original inspiration and possessing so much knowledge and technical skill. Even Marc Antonio, superior though he may be in sentiment and majesty of style, cannot dispossess Dürer of his lawful102 renown, nor take from his art its peculiar virtue and authority.


Lucretia. After Raphael.

Marc Antonio Raimondi was born at Bologna, where he studied in the school of the painter-goldsmith Francesco Francia, and was still only an unknown worker in niello, and the author of some rather indifferent plates engraved from his own or his master's designs23 when a journey to Venice and the careful study of Albert Dürer's engravings showed him the inmost possibilities of an art of which he had till then known little more than the mere mechanical processes. Unfortunately, as we have seen, the young engraver was not content with copying these, the best models of the day, for his own improvement, but, to secure a double profit, pushed his imitation a step further, and copied the signature with as much care as the style.

Some years later he went to Rome, where Raphael, on the recommendation of Giulio Romano, allowed him to engrave one of his own designs, the "Lucretia." Other originals from Raphael's pencil were afterwards reproduced by Marc Antonio with so much success that these fac-similes of the ideas of the "divine Master" were soon in everybody's hands, and the best judges, even Raphael himself, were fully satisfied.


Poetry. After Raphael.

The nobility of feeling, and the purity of taste and execution, which shine in these now classic plates103 have never been surpassed. These are the qualities, and these only, which we must look for and admire unreservedly; to seek for more, as to regret its absence, would be superfluous. To complain of the absence of colour and of aërial perspective would be as unjust104 as to expect from Rembrandt the style and types of the Italian school. Rembrandt's prints are impregnated with poetry in their tone and in the harmony of their effects; those of Marc Antonio are models of beauty, as regards line and dignity of form. The two great masters of Bologna and of Leyden, so opposed to each other in the nature of their aspirations and the choice of their methods, have yet, each in his own way, proved their case and carried their point; and to each must be allotted his own peculiar share of glory.

It would be idle to point out with regret, as some have done, what is lacking in the masterpieces of Marc Antonio, or to say that greater freedom in rendering colour or in managing light and shade would have lent them an additional charm.24 Such qualities should be looked for elsewhere than in subjects engraved—not, it must be remembered, from pictures—but from pen or chalk drawings. In sixteenth century Italy they could scarcely come from the burin of one of Raphael's pupils: an epic burin, so to speak, and one contemptuous of qualities then considered of secondary importance. Moreover, the hand of him who held it was bold rather than skilful, vigorous rather than patient. To model a body in shadow, he employed unevenly105 crossed or almost parallel hatchings, drawn at different widths apart, and in subordination to the larger feeling of the form and movement he wished to express. Then lighter strokes led up to the half-light, and a few dots at unequal distances bordered on the light.


Apollo. After Raphael.

What could be simpler than such a method? Yet what more exact in its results, and what more expressive in drawing? The exact crossing of lines mattered little to Marc Antonio. What he was taken up with and wanted to make visible was neither the manner nor the choice of workmanship: that might be simple indeed, and he was satisfied if only the beauty of a head or the general aspect of a figure were striking at a first glance, if only the appearance of the whole was largely rendered and well defined. Sometimes one outline is corrected by a second, and these alterations, all the more interesting as we may suspect that they were ordered by Raphael himself, prove both the engraver's passion for correct drawing and his small106 regard for mere niceties of craftsmanship. The time was yet distant when, in this same Italy, the trifling search after common technicalities should take the place of such wise views; when men should set to work to reproduce the shadows of a face or a piece of drapery by lozenges containing a semicircle, a little cross, or even something resembling a young serpent; when engravers like Morghen and his followers should see, in the reproduction of masterpieces of the brush, only an opportunity for assembling groups of more or less complicated lines and parading their dexterity, and should gain by these tricks the applause of all men and the name of artists.


Portrait of Raphael.

The school founded by Marc Antonio soon became the most numerous and active of all. We have seen that the Germans themselves crowded to Rome, and surrounded the master who had caused them to forget Albert Dürer. Engravers came to learn or to perfect their knowledge in the same school from every part of Italy. There were Marco da Ravenna, Agostino Veniziano, Giovanni Caraglio da Verona, Il Vecchio da Parma, and Bonasone da Bologna. Some years later came the family of the Mantovani, a member of which, Diana Scultori, more often called Diana Ghisi, presented perhaps the first example, so common afterwards, of a female engraver. Many others, whose names and works have remained more or less celebrated, descend from Marc Antonio, whether they received his teaching directly or through his pupils.

He, whilst so much talent was being developed107 under his influence, continued the kind of work in which he had excelled from the beginning of his stay in108 Rome, confining himself to the engraving of Raphael's compositions: that is, as we have already said, of his drawings. It is this which explains the difference, at first sight incomprehensible, between certain prints by Marc Antonio and the same subjects as painted by Raphael. The painter often submitted to the engraver pen or pencil sketches of subjects which he afterwards altered with his brush when transferring them to walls or panels: the "St. Cecilia," the "Parnassus," the "Poetry," for instance, which are so unlike in the copy and in what wrongly appears to have been the original. Raphael often drew specially for engraving: as in the "Massacre of the Innocents," the "Judgment of Paris" the "Plague of Phrygia," &c.; but in either case Marc Antonio had but to find the means of faithfully rendering given forms with the graver, without troubling himself about those difficulties which the luminous or delicate qualities of colour would certainly have introduced.

Raphael's death, however, deprived the engraver of an influence which, to the great advantage of his talent, he had obeyed submissively for ten years. Marc Antonio would not continue to work from the drawings of the master who could no longer superintend him; but he still continued to honour him in the person of his favourite pupil, Giulio Romano, to whom he attached himself, and whose works he reproduced almost exclusively.


The Three Doctors.

The connection of the two artists resulted in the publication of some fine engravings, amongst others the "Hercules and Antæus," but it unfortunately109 terminated in a disgraceful business. Giulio Romano, following the dissolute manners of the day, rather than the example and traditions of the noble leader of the school, stooped to design a series of boldly licentious subjects. Marc Antonio consented to engrave them, and Pietro Aretino helped still further to degrade the undertaking by composing an explanatory sonnet to be printed opposite to each plate. The result was a book whose title is still infamous. In publishing it110 the two artists took care not to sign their names. They were, however, discovered by the boldness of the style and the firmness of the line; for, surprising as it may seem, neither took the trouble to alter his usual manner: they merely profaned it. Here, assuredly, their wonted dignity of form and energy of workmanship appear somewhat incongruous qualities.25 The culprits were soon discovered; and Clement VII. issued a warrant to pursue them, ordering, at the same time, that every copy of the work should be destroyed. Aretino fled to Venice, Giulio Romano to Mantua, and the only sufferer was the engraver. He was imprisoned for several months, and only set at liberty, thanks to frequent requests made by Giulio de' Medici and the sculptor Baccio Bandinelli, from whose original, to prove his gratitude, he executed the beautiful "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence," one of the masterpieces of Italian engraving.

The rest of Marc Antonio's life is only imperfectly known. It is said that he was wounded and left for dead in the streets when Rome was sacked by the Spanish under the Constable de Bourbon; that he111 was then taken prisoner, and only recovered his liberty at the cost of a ransom large enough to ruin him; and that he then took refuge at Bologna, where it would appear he soon afterwards died: not, as has been alleged, murdered by the lawful possessor of one of his plates, which he had himself forged, but, so says Vasari, "nearly reduced to beggary" ("poco meno che mendico"), and at any rate completely forgotten.

Marc Antonio's death did not bring with it the ruin of line engraving in Italy. The numerous pupils he had educated, and in turn the pupils of these, handed down to the beginning of the seventeenth century the master's manner, and propagated his doctrines in neighbouring countries. We have spoken of the revolution which their works produced in German art; we shall presently see French art submitting in its turn to Italian influences. Meanwhile, and even during Marc Antonio's life, a particular sort of engraving was making rapid progress in Italy. It consisted in the employment of a process, popularised by Ugo da Carpi, for obtaining from several wooden blocks proofs of engravings in camaïeu: that is, as we explained at the beginning of this book, proofs in two, three, or four tones, offering almost the same appearance as drawings washed in with water-colour: a process which Ugo did not really invent, but only improved from the first attempts made at Augsburg in 1510 by Jobst Necker, which were destined to be still further improved by Nicolò Vicentino, Andrea Andreani, Antonio da Trento, and many others.

112 A great number of pieces, executed in the same manner from Raphael and Parmigiano, prove the skill of Ugo da Carpi, who unfortunately took it into his head to introduce into painting even more radical changes than those he had first promoted in engraving. He conceived the strange idea of painting a whole picture with his finger, without once having recourse to a brush, and, the proceeding appearing to him praiseworthy, he perpetuated the recollection of it in a few proud words at the bottom of the canvas. Michelangelo, to whom the picture was shown as a remarkable curiosity, merely said that "the only remarkable thing about it was the folly of the author." What would he have thought of Luca Cambiaso, the Genoese, whose talent consisted in painting with both hands at once?

The practice of engraving in camaïeu was not continued in Italy and Germany beyond the last years of the sixteenth century. Even before then wood engraving, properly so called, had reached a stage of considerable importance in both countries; and it had distinguished itself by decided enough progress to cause engraving in camaïeu to lose much of the favour with which at first it was welcomed.

We said at the beginning of this chapter that a real regeneration in wood engraving took place in Germany under the influence of Albert Dürer. We have plates from the drawings of the master, engraved, if not entirely by himself, at any rate to a certain extent with his practical co-operation; we have others—for instance, the "Life of the Virgin" and the113 "Passion," to which we have referred in speaking of Marc Antonio's copies of them with the burin. But, in addition to these, we have a number of wood engravings, earlier than the second half of the sixteenth century, which prove the progress made in the art at this time in Germany, and the ability with which it was practised by the successors of Wolgemut. Wood engraving was no longer, as in the time of Wolgemut, a mere mode of linear imitation, and only fit to represent form by outlines; it was now capable of suggesting modelling and effect, not of course with that finished delicacy and freedom which can only be produced in true line engraving, but with an energetic exactness quite, in accordance with the special conditions and resources of the process. The "Triumphal Arch of the Emperor Maximilian," by Hans Burgkmair and to some extent by Albert Dürer; the "Theuerdannck," an allegorical history of the same prince by Hans Schaüfflein; the "Passion of Jesus Christ;" and the "Illustrium Ducum Saxoniæ Effigies," by Lucas Cranach, as well as many other collections published at Nuremberg, Augsburg, Weimar, or Wittenberg, deserve mention as remarkable examples of the peculiar skill of the German artists of the time. Indeed, when, a little later, the "Dance of Death," by Lützelburger, from Holbein, made its appearance, this masterpiece in wood engraving closed the period of progress which had gone on in Germany from the beginning of the sixteenth century, and marked in its general history the time when the art itself had told its last secret, and attained perfection.



The Miser. After Holbein.

Whilst this regeneration in wood engraving was being accomplished in Germany, the art continued to be practised in Italy, and especially in Venice, with a feeling for composition, and that delicate reticence of handling, of which the cuts in the "Hypnerotomachia Poliphili," published before the end of the fifteenth century (1499), and in other books printed some years later, are such striking examples. The Italian wood engravers of the sixteenth century, however, did not limit themselves so entirely to the national traditions as to stifle altogether any attempt115 at innovation. They had already tried to enliven even the execution of the illustrations intended to accompany letterpress by more decided suggestions of light and shade and general effect. This is the reason of the successful first appearance, and the present value, of so many beautiful volumes from the printing presses of Marcolini da Forli, Giolito da Ferrari and other printers established at Venice.



The Rich Sinner. After Holbein.

Little by little, however, the domain of wood engraving widened, or rather the object which wood116 engravers set themselves to attain was changed. Instead of confining themselves, as in the past, to the part of commentators of authors and illustrators of books, they set to work, like the line engravers, to publish, in larger dimensions than the size of a book, prints reproducing separate drawings and sometimes even pictures. The works of Titian specially served as models to skilful wood engravers, some of whom, Domenico delle Greche and Nicolò Boldrini amongst others, are said to have worked in the studio, even under the master's own eye. According to the careful testimony of Ridolphi, confirmed by Mariette, Titian gave more than mere advice. He seems, more than once, to have sketched with his own hand on the wood the designs to be reproduced by the wood engravers; and amongst the prints thus begun by him, several "Virgins" in landscapes and a "Triumph of Christ" may be mentioned: the last "a work," says Mariette, "drawn with fine taste, in which the hatchings forming the outlines and shadows ... produce a softness and mellowness understood by Titian alone."

However brief the preceding observations on the progress of engraving in the sixteenth century in Germany and Italy may appear, they will perhaps be sufficient to indicate the reciprocal influence then exercised by the engravers of both countries. Without ceasing to be Italian in their real preferences, their tastes, and their innate love of majesty of style, Marc Antonio and his disciples understood how to improve their practical execution by Albert Dürer's117 example, exactly as Dürer's pupils and their followers, while continuing to be German as it were in spite of themselves, tried to become Italianised as best they might.

But it is time to speak of the school of the Low Countries, which appeared to stand aloof, as much from the progress in Germany initiated by Martin Schongauer and Albert Dürer, as from the more recent advance in Italy. Apparently unaffected by external influences, it was content to rely on its own powers, and to make use of its own resources, whilst awaiting the time, now close at hand, when it should in its turn supply example and teaching to those who had till then believed themselves to be the teachers.




The history of engraving in the Low Countries really dates but from the early years of the sixteenth century: that is, from the appearance of the prints of Lucas van Leyden (1494–1533). Before that time certain line engravers, such as the so-called Maître aux Banderoles, the "Master of the Streamers," and those other anonymous artists of the fifteenth century who composed the group called "the Dutch primitives," had attempted to widen the domain of the art, till then confined to the wood-cutters who were the contemporaries or successors of the xylographists of the "Speculum Salvationis" and the "Biblia Pauperum." But, whilst the German and Italian engravers were distinguishing themselves by the brilliancy of their achievement, their contemporaries in the Low Countries were producing works little fitted to compete with those of the foreign masters. They only succeeded in showing themselves more or less able artisans. Lucas van Leyden was the first to use the burin artistically, or at least to handle it with a boldness and knowledge never foreshadowed in the timid essays of his predecessors.



Hercules and Omphale.

While still a child Lucas van Leyden had already attracted the attention of his countrymen by his talent as a painter, and his sketch in distemper, the "Story of St. Hubert"—done, it is alleged, at the age of twelve—placed him at once amongst artists of repute. Some120 years later the publication of his prints brought him to the first rank. He maintained his place till the end of his life; and if, after his death, the Dutch and Flemish engravers still further perfected the art he had practised, they did but follow in his footsteps and draw more abundantly from the source he had discovered.

The principal feature of the works of Lucas van Leyden, and in general of all those belonging to his school, is a keen feeling for the phenomena of light. Albert Dürer, and even Marc Antonio, despised or misunderstood this essential quality of art. In their works there is hardly any gradation of tone to suggest atmospheric distance, and we might mention engravings of theirs where objects consigned to the background are almost as distinct as those in the foreground. It was Lucas van Leyden who conceived the idea of perceptibly diminishing the values according to their distance, of giving to the shadows more or less of transparency or depth, as the case might be, and of endowing the lights and half-lights with relatively greater force or delicacy. Reasoning so valid—based as it was on the real appearances of nature—was the principal cause of the young Dutch master's success. In his numerous engravings, however, qualities of another order are added to the merit of this innovation. The variety of facial expression, the truth of attitude and gesture, are no less remarkable than the harmony of effect, and the attempts at what we may venture to call naturalistic colour.


Adam and Eve driven from Paradise.

Considered only from the point of view of execution122 the pieces engraved by Lucas van Leyden are far from possessing the same largeness of design and modelling, and the same simplicity of handling, which the works of Marc Antonio exhibit, and, in a word, have none of that masterly ease in the rendering of form which characterises the Italian engraver. Nor do they exhibit the determination to pursue the truth even in minute details, and to sternly insist on the portrayal of such truth when recognised, which distinguishes the work of Albert Dürer. They are to be specially praised for delicacy of handling, and for the skilful application of the processes of engraving to the picturesque representation of reality. Thus, instead of surrounding with an invariably firm outline objects or bodies at a distance from one another, instead of treating alike the contour of a figure in the foreground, and that of a tree, or group of trees, in the background, Lucas van Leyden altered his work to suit the degree of relative clearness or uncertainty presented in nature by the forms of objects at different distances from the eye. An unbroken line is his method for giving the required boldness to such contours as, from the place they occupy, must be strongly defined and dominate the rest. When, on the contrary, he wishes to reproduce the half-veiled lines of a distant landscape, and to imitate that tremulous and floating aspect assumed by an object in proportion to its remoteness and the amount of intervening atmosphere, he changes his touch; and, instead of bounding by a single continuous line the object reproduced, employs a series of small broken lines, superimposed123 in a horizontal or oblique direction; and thus, instead of a dry definition of outline, he renders with124 deliberate hesitation that floating quality which is to be observed in nature.


The Visitation.

Lucas van Leyden was the first amongst engravers who took into account with any measure of success the assumed distances of his models, in order to organise in their representation a varying value of tones and a general gradation of force. This important change he introduced from the beginning: that is to say, from 1508, the year of his first dated print, "The Monk Sergius Killed by Mahomet" (which, by the way, might be more appropriately entitled "Mahomet before the Body of a Hermit Murdered by One of his Servants").26 Here, as in the master's other prints, the backgrounds are treated with so light a touch that their distance can be felt; the handling becomes less energetic, the burin ploughs the copper less heavily, as the objects recede from the front of the composition. Moreover, every subordinate form is observed and rendered with singular delicacy; every face and every detail of drapery bear testimony, by the way they are engraved, to the clear insight of the artist and his extraordinary skill of hand. His work is strictly realistic, his style precise and clear rather than loftily inspired; and we look almost in vain to him for taste, properly so called, the feeling for the beautiful, in fact, the understanding of the ideal conditions of art.


Pyramus and Thisbe.

This it is which constitutes the principal difference, and clearly marks the distance, between the talent of Lucas van Leyden and that of Mantegna, of Marc125 Antonio, or of any other Italian engraver of the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. Besides, neither the126 defects nor the merits of the master are entirely the result of his inclinations or his personal habits. The very spirit of Dutch art and the instinctive preferences of the future school of the seventeenth century are to be found in embryo in his works, which tend less to initiate us into the mysteries of the invisible, than to place before us the faithful image of what really exists. "It was the fate of Holland," as Eugène Fromentin has well said27 "to like ce qui ressemble, to return to it one day or other, to outlive all besides, and to survive and be saved itself by portraiture." Taking the word in its widest acceptation, Lucas van Leyden is already engraving "portraits." It is by the careful imitation of living nature or still-life that he means to interest us: even when his models are in themselves of little worth, or, as is sometimes the case, are the reverse of beautiful.


Portrait of the Emperor Maximilian I.

In representing, for example, "David Calming the Fury of Saul," with what simple good faith he makes use of the first type he comes across—a stout clodhopper whom he has picked up in the street or at the tavern! No more is wanted save a harp under his arm and a slashed doublet on his body; just as in picturing the most tragical scenes of the "Passion"—the "Ecce Homo," or the "Crucifixion"—he thinks it enough to surround his Christ with the Jew peddlers or the home-keeping citizens of his native town, without altering in any way their appearance or their dress. What could be more contrary to the127 traditions of Italian art and the principles which have governed it, from Giotto down to Raphael? What less128 unusual in the history of Dutch art? Later on Rembrandt himself was to work in the same way; but with what mighty powers of invention! What a startling expression of the inner meaning, the philosophy of a subject, is united in his fashion of treatment with the realistic ideals of the national genius! In truth, it is not merely the peculiar characteristic of an individual—the indifference to, or aversion from, conventional beauty of form which is apparent in this great master, so far-reaching in moral vision, so pre-eminently sagacious and profound among painters of the soul; it sums up and reveals the innate disposition and æsthetic temperament of a whole race.

In his brief career Lucas van Leyden had the happiness to see his efforts rewarded and his credit universally established, and of this authority and influence he ever made the noblest use. Looked upon as a leader by the painters of his country; in friendly relations with the German engravers, who, like Albert Dürer, sent him their works, or came themselves to ask advice; possessing greater wealth than usually fell to the share of the artists of his time; he never employed his riches or his influence except in the interest of art, or of the men who practised it. He refused no solicitant of merit, however slight. The worthy master was careful to disguise his aid under pretext of some advantage to himself: he was always requiring drawings of some building or some artistic object, and thus he spared the self-respect of the person whom he wished to help, and whom he entrusted with the commission. More than once he129 went journeying through the Low Countries to visit engravers and painters far inferior to himself, whom he yet modestly called his rivals. He complimented them with words of praise and encouragement; gave entertainments in their honour; and did not leave them without exchanging his works for theirs, which were thus paid for a hundred times over.

It was in one of these journeys, that to Flushing, that Lucas van Leyden was attacked with the disease which was destined to carry him to the grave. Some people have attributed to poison the suddenness of the attack; but of this there is no proof. Once back in his native town, he lingered on some time, worn out and sinking, yet refusing to condemn himself to idleness. Too feeble to rise, he yet continued to draw and engrave in bed, remaining faithful till the end to the noble passion of his life, to the art he had dignified, and to that nature which he had questioned more closely, and, in certain respects, perhaps better understood than any of his predecessors. It is said that a few hours before his death he desired to be taken up to a terrace of his house, that he might once more admire the setting sun; and there, absorbed in silent contemplation, surrounded by friends and pupils, he for the last time gazed on the place of his birth, and on that heaven from which the light was fading, even as life was ebbing from his bosom. It was a proper conclusion to so pure a life—to one, indeed, of the most irreproachable careers in the history of art. Lucas van Leyden died at thirty-eight, an age fatal to more than one great artist, and which was130 scarcely attained by three men with whom he seems linked by a similarity of genius, at least as regards early fertility and sincerity of inspiration: Raphael, Lesueur, and Mozart.

The impetus given by Lucas van Leyden to the art of engraving was seconded, even during his life, by several Dutch artists who imitated his method more or less successfully. Amongst others, Alart Claessen, an anonymous engraver called the "Maître à l'Écrevisse," and Dirck Star, or Van Staren, generally called the "Maître à l'Étoile." The movement did not slacken after the death of the leader of the school. The engravers of the Low Countries, accentuating more and more the qualities aimed at from the beginning, soon surpassed their German rivals, and seemed alone to be gifted with the knack of dealing with light. Cornelius Cort, who engraved several of Titian's works in Venice in the great painter's studio, and the pupils he educated on his return to Holland, began to exhibit a boldness of touch not to be so clearly discovered in their predecessors; but this progress, real in some respects, was not accomplished without injury to truthful study and the exact interpretation of form, and certainly not without a deplorable exaggeration in the use of means.

The workmanship of Hendrik Goltzius, for instance, and still more that of his pupil, Jan Müller, is strained and feeble owing to their affectation of ease. The constant use of bent and parallel lines unreasonably prolonged imparts to the plates of these two engravers an appearance at once dull and florid;131 they present something of the same aspect as those caligraphical specimens of the present day, in which the faces of Henri IV. or of Napoleon are drawn entirely with the curves of a single stroke. Still, in spite of this extremely affected workmanship, the prints of Goltzius, of Müller, and even of Saenredam, are characterised by a comparative intensity of tone, as well as by singular skill in cutting the copper. This abuse of method, however, had not yet become general in the schools of the Low Countries. Side by side with the intemperate or daring craftsmen we have mentioned, there were certain Flemish and Dutch engravers who imparted to their work a delicacy and a reticence of expression better suited to the traditions and the models bequeathed by Lucas van Leyden. These were Nicolas van Bruyn at Antwerp, the brothers Wierix at Amsterdam, and some few others, all of them disciples more or less faithful to the old teaching, and apparently more or less hostile to the effort at emancipation going on around them. When, however, Rubens took the reins, individual resistance and impulse ceased, and all controversy was at an end. Principles, method, and aim became the same for every one. Both Dutch and Flemish engravers openly set themselves to represent with the graver the infinite gradations of a painted canvas, the delicacy and the daring, the nicest punctilio and the most summary smearing, of the painter's brush.

Never was the influence of a painter on engraving so direct or so potent as that of Rubens. The great132 master had shown by his drawings that it was possible to be as rich a colourist with black and white alone as with all the resources of the palette. He made choice amongst his pupils of those whom he believed to be capable of following his example in this matter; he obliged them to lay aside the brush, almost ordered them to become engravers, and so penetrated them with the secret of his method, that he seems to have animated them with his own inspiration. He assembled them in the vast house which he had built at Antwerp, and which he turned into a college of artists of all sorts. He made them sometimes labour beneath his eye; he carefully corrected their work;28 and in this way he taught them that comprehension of effect which was specially his, and his own incomparable knowledge of the right tones with which to lay in, or to support, a mass of light or shadow.

To recall the success of these efforts is to recall the names of Vorsterman, Bolswert, Paul Pontius, and Soutman: men boldly scientific in their art, who, at the first rush, carried to perfection that style of engraving which renders before all the relative richness and varied value of tones in a picture, and whose effects are identical in some sort with those of the painting itself. It is obvious that, in spite of its prodigious merits, this painting is not of so elevated a nature as that of Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael; but is it therefore less true that it is completely summed up, and its living image133 reflected, in contemporary engraving? Actuated by an idea of colour and effect analogous to that of Marc Antonio with regard to drawing, the Flemish engravers resolutely subordinated accessories to the importance and splendour of essentials; and in this way they succeeded in dissembling, by means of the breadth of the whole, the execution of details and even the laboriousness of the process. It would seem from the sparkling look and brilliant handiwork of these plates, that the engravers had thrown them off in a few hours of inspiration, so completely does their dash banish all idea of the time spent upon them, all sense of patience and toil. And yet these lights and shades, the sweep of the flesh, the sheen and shimmer of the fabrics, are all the result of lines laboriously ploughed; perhaps a thousand strokes have been needed to imitate an effect due to a single glaze, or given by two touches of the brush.

The engravings of the Flemish school in Rubens' time are still widely distributed. There are few people who have not had the opportunity of admiring the "Thomiris," the "St. Roch Praying for the Plague-Stricken," or the "Portrait of Rubens," by Pontius; the "Descent from the Cross," by Vorsterman; the "Fall of the Damned," by Soutman; and a hundred other pieces as beautiful, all engraved from the master by his pupils. And who does not know that marvellous masterpiece, the "Crown of Thorns," engraved by Bolswert from Van Dyck? and those other masterpieces of Van Dyck himself—the etched portraits of artists or amateurs, the painter's friends134 from the two Breughels to Cornelis, from Franz Snyders to Philip Le Roy?

Fig. 57.VAN DYCK.

Etched by Himself.

The progress, however, by which the Flemish school of engraving had distinguished itself, soon had an equivalent in the movement of reform in Holland. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, and on from the beginning of the seventeenth, the Dutch engravers, by dint of insisting too strongly on the innovations of Lucas van Leyden, had almost succeeded in causing scientific ease of handling to135 degenerate into mere trickery, and spirit of design into inflation and turbulence. Amongst the first, and with greater authority than any, Cornelius Visscher136 set himself to stay the art of line engraving on its downward course.


The Seller of Ratsbane.

Most of the scenes represented by Visscher are assuredly not of a nature greatly to interest the imagination, still less to touch the heart. It would be somewhat difficult to be moved to any philosophical or poetic thought by the contemplation of such work as the "Frying-Pan," or the "Seller of Ratsbane;" but these, though the ideas by which they are suggested are trivial or commonplace, are treated with a deep feeling for truth, with admirable craftsmanship, and with an amount of sincerity and boldness which makes up for the absence of beauty, whether in thought or type. Considered only from the point of view of execution, the plates of Visscher are masterpieces; are such marvels, indeed, that they cannot be too carefully studied by all engravers, whatever the style of their work.


Giles Boutma.


The Cow.

The same may be said in another order of art for those fine portraits—of "Boccaccio," of "Pietro Aretino," and of "Giorgione"—engraved by Cornelius Van Dalen, the best of Visscher's pupils. It is also on the same ground, that, in spite of most notable differences in handling, the plates engraved by Jonas Suyderhoef, after Terburg and Theodore de Keyse, command the attention of artists and amateurs. Finally, side by side with these works, in the execution of which etching was only resorted to as a preparatory process, or sometimes was not even used at all, a number of subjects entirely engraved with the needle—etchings, to speak strictly—make up a whole137 which is the more creditable to the Dutch school, inasmuch as it would be impossible at any time to find the like in the schools of other countries. French138 engraving had doubtless reason to be proud of the masterpieces of Claude Lorraine, or the clever and witty etchings of Callot and Israel Silvestre. In Italy after Parmigiano, Agostino Carracci, and certain other139 contemporary Bolognese, in Spain, Ribera, and afterwards Goya, acquired a legitimate renown as etchers. But whatever may be the merit of their individual work, these artists are unconnected in either of their native countries with any group wholly devoted to work of the same kind: with any artistic family of common origin, inclination, and belief.

Fig. 61.J. RUYSDAEL.

The Little Cornfield.

Now the skilful Dutch etchers do not come singly, nor at long intervals. They work in a body. It is within a few years, in fact almost simultaneously, that Adrian Brauwer and Adrian van Ostade publish their tavern scenes; Ruysdael and Jan Both their landscapes; Paul Potter and Berghem, Adrian van de140 Velde, Marc de Bye, Karel du Jardin, such a multitude of charming little subjects, their village scenes and village people, their flocks in the fields, or their single animals. Whilst emulating each other's talent, all are agreed to pursue one and the same object, all are agreed as to the necessity of devotion to the study of surrounding nature and everyday truth.

Although the Dutch etchers display in the totality of their achievement the same ideal and the same tendency, each keeps, if only in the matter of workmanship, a certain distinction and character of his own. One, however, stands out from the group with matchless splendour, with all the superiority of genius over talent: that one is Rembrandt.


Portrait of Himself: Rembrandt Appuye.




Joseph's Coat brought to Jacob.

Pains and patience have been wasted on the secret of Rembrandt's method of etching and printing; in trying to discover his tools and his manner of using them, so as to achieve with him those contrasts of soft shadow and radiant light. Vain quest of technical tricks where, really, there is no more than a style born of imagination, and, like it, inspired from above! It may be said that with Rembrandt, as with great musical composers, the harmonic system is so closely allied to the melodic idea, that analysis, if not impossible, is at least superfluous. It sometimes happens—before a Correggio, for instance—that the charm of the painting affects one in a manner abstract enough to produce a sort of musical sensation. Though it does not appear that the art of engraving could be endowed with a similar expansive force, yet Rembrandt's etchings may almost be141 said to possess it. They give the feeling of undefined aspirations rather than the limited likeness of things; the spectator is touched by the mysterious meaning of these passionate visions, rather than by142 the form in which they are conveyed. The impression received is so keen that it stifles any trivial wish to143 criticise, and certain details which would be painful elsewhere are here not even displeasing, inasmuch as144 no one would dream of requiring a mathematical explanation of the special conditions of the subject, or of the skill of workmanship which the artist has displayed145 Before the "Sacrifice of Abraham," the "Tobit," the "Lazarus," and all the other soul-speaking masterpieces146 who would pause to consider the strangeness or the vulgarity of the personages and their apparel? Only the critic, who, unwitting of the rest, would begin by examining with a magnifying glass the workmanship of the ray of light which illumines the "Hundred Guilder Piece," the "Annunciation," or the "Pilgrimage to Emmaus."


Tobit's Blindness.


Jan Lutma.

Rembrandt's method is, so to speak, supersensuous. At times he lightly touches his plate, and at times he attacks as at a venture; at others he skims the surface and caresses it with an exquisite refinement, a magical dexterity. In his lights he breaks the line of the contour, but only to resume and boldly accentuate it in his shadows; or he reverses the method, and in the one, as in the other case, succeeds infallibly in fixing, satisfying, and convincing the attention. He uses engraver's tools and methods as Bossuet uses words, subduing them to the needs of his thought, and constraining them to express it, careless of fine finish as of trivial subtlety. Like Bossuet, too, he composes out of the most incongruous elements, out of the trivial and the lofty, the commonplace and the heroic, a style invariably eloquent; and from the mingling of these heterogeneous elements there springs an admirable harmony of result.


The Beggars.

The Flemish engravers formed by Rubens, and their Dutch contemporaries, had no worthy successors. The revolution they accomplished in the art was brief, and did not extend beyond the Low Countries. In Italy, Dutch and Flemish engravings were naturally despised. It is said—and it is easy to believe—147that those accustomed to commune with Raphael and Marc Antonio esteemed them fitting decorations "for148 the walls of pothouses." In France and Germany, where Italian ideas in art had reigned since the sixteenth century, they experienced at first no better reception. When at length the consideration they really deserved149 was accorded them, the superiority of France was established, and her engravers could no longer be expected to descend to imitation. The movement in the schools of the Low Countries, before the second half of the seventeenth century, is thus, to speak truth, a mere episode in the history of the art, and its masterpieces had no lasting influence on engraving in general. For it to have been otherwise, the engravers of other countries must have renounced, not only the national traditions, but even the models they had at hand. The method of Bolswert or of Pontius could only be usefully employed to reproduce the works of Rubens and Van Dyck. The handling of Visscher and of Suyderhoef was only suitable to such pictures as were painted in Amsterdam and Leyden.


The Pancake-maker.

And meanwhile, when the schools of the Low Countries were shining with a lustre so brilliant and so transitory, what was doing in France? and how in France was the great age of engraving inaugurated?




The French were unable to distinguish themselves early in the art of engraving, as the conditions under which they laboured were different from those which obtained in Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries: the homes, all three of them, of schools of painting. From the thirteenth century onwards, the architects and sculptors of France had produced an unbroken succession of good things; but the origin of her school of painting is not nearly so remote, nor has it such sustained importance. Save for the unknown glass-painters of her cathedrals, for the miniaturists who preceded and succeeded Jean Fouquet, and for the artists in chalks whose work is touched with so peculiar a charm and so delicate an originality, she can boast of no great painter before Jean Cousin. And the art of engraving could scarcely have flourished when, as yet, the art of painting had scarcely existed.




The Power of Royalty.

Wood-cutting, it is true, was practised in France with a certain success, as early as the beginning of151 the sixteenth century, and even a little before that. The "Danses macabres"—those aids to morality so popular in mediæval times—the illustrated "Books of Hours," and other compilations besides, printed with figures and tail-pieces, in Lyons or Paris, give earnest of the unborn masterpieces of Geofroy Tory, of Jean Cousin himself, and of sundry other draughtsmen and wood-cutters of the reigns of François I. and Henri II. But, as practised by goldsmiths, such as Jean Duvet and Étienne Delaune, and by painters of the Fontainebleau school like René Boyvin and Geofroy Dumonstier, line engraving and etching were still no more than a means of popularising extravagant imitations of Italian work. The prints of Nicolas Beatrizet, who had been the pupil of Agostino Musi at Rome, and those of another engraver of Lorraine, whose name has been Italianised into152 Niccolò della Casa, appear to have been produced with the one object of deifying the spirit of sham, and converting French engravers to that religion to which153 French painters had apostatised with so much ill-fortune under the influence of the Italians brought in by Francis I.


Adam and Eve driven from Paradise.




Ornamented Vase.

During the whole of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth centuries the French school of engraving had neither method nor bent of its own; but meanwhile it was a whim of fashion that every one should handle the burin or the point. From the days of Henri II. to those of Louis XIII., craftsman or layman, everybody practised engraving. There were goldsmiths like Pierre Woeiriot, painters like Claude Corneille and Jean de Gourmont155 architects like Androuet du Cerceau; there were noblemen; there were even ladies—as, for instance156 Georgette de Montenay, who dedicated to Jeanne d'Albret a collection of mottoes and emblems, partly, it was said, of her own engraving. All the world and his wife, in fact, were gouging wood and scraping copper. It must be repeated that the prints of this time are for the most part borrowed—are copies feeble or stilted, or both, of foreign originals. Not until after some years of thraldom could the French engravers shake off the yoke of Italian art, create a special style, and constitute themselves a school. The revolution was prepared by Thomas de Leu and Léonard Gaultier, engravers of portraits and of historical subjects; but the hero of the French school is Jacques Callot.

There are certain names in the history of the arts which retain an eternal odour of popularity; we remember them as those of men of talent, who were also in some sort heroes of romance, and our interest remains perennial. Jacques Callot is one of these. He is probably the only French engraver29 whose name is yet familiar to the general public. That this is so is hardly the effect of his work, however excellent: it is rather the result of his adventures; of his flight from home in childhood; his wanderings with the gipsies; and the luck he had—his good looks aiding—with the ladies of Rome, and even (it is whispered) with the wife of Thomassin his master.


Henri IV.

We have said it is Callot's merit to have lifted 158the French school of engraving out of the rut in which it dragged, and to have opened for it a new path. He did not, however, accomplish the work with an entire independence, nor without some leanings towards that Italy in which he had been trained. After working in Florence under Canta-Gallina, whose freedom of style and fantastic taste could not but prove irresistible to the future artist of Franca Trippa and Fritellino, he had been obliged to return to Nancy. Thence he escaped a second time, and thither was a second time brought back by his eldest brother, who had been despatched in pursuit. A third journey took him to Rome; and there, whether glad to be rid of him or weary of debate, his family let him remain.

It is probable that during his expatriation30 Callot never so much as dreamed of learning from the Old Masters; but he did not fail to make a close study of certain contemporaries who were masters so called. Paul V. was Pope; and the age of Raphael and Marc Antonio, of Julius II. and Leo X., was for ever at an end. The enfeebling eclecticism of the Carracci, and the profitless fecundity of Guido, had given currency to all sorts of second-rate qualities, and in painting had substituted prettiness for beauty. The result was an invasion of frivolity, alike in manners and beliefs, which was destined to find its least dubious expression in the works of Le Josépin159 and later on in those of an artist of kindred tastes with the Lorraine engraver—the fantastical Salvator Rosa. When Callot settled in Rome in 1609, Le Josépin had already reached the climax of fame and fortune; Salvator, at an interval of nearly thirty years, was on the heels of his first success. Coming, as he did, to take a place among the dexterous and the eccentric, it seems that Callot could not have chosen a better time. It was not long before he attracted attention; for when he left Rome for Florence, where he produced some of his liveliest work, his name and his capacity were already in repute.

Fig. 75.CALLOT.

From the Set entitled "Balli di Sfessania."

At Florence his capacity was perfected under the160 influence of Giulio Parigi; and, thanks to the favour of Duke Cosmo II., which he easily obtained, his name soon became famous in the world of fashion as among connoisseurs. Unlike his countrymen, Claude Lorraine and the noble Poussin, who, some years later, were in this same Italy to live laborious and thoughtful lives, Callot freely followed his peculiar vein, and saw in art no more than a means of amusement, in the people about him only subjects for caricature, and in imaginative and even religious subjects but a pretext for grotesque invention. Like another French satirist, Mathurin Regnier, who had preceded him in Rome, he was addicted to vulgar types, to rags and deformities, even to the stigmata of debauchery. Thus, the works of both these two men, whom we may compare together, too often breathe a most dishonourable atmosphere of vice. With a frankness which goes the length of impudence, they give full play to their taste for degradation and vile reality; and yet their vigour of expression does not always degenerate into cynicism, nor is the truth of their pictures always shameless. The fact is, both had the secret of saying exactly enough to express their thoughts, even when these were bred by the most capricious fancy. They may be reproached with not caring to raise the standard of their work; but it is impossible to deny them the merit of having painted ugliness of every kind firmly and with elegant precision, nor that of having given, each in his own language, a definite and truly national form to that art of satire which had been hardly so much as rough-hewn in the caricatures and pamphlets of the League.


Fig. 76.J. CALLOT.

From the Set entitled "Les Gentilshommes".

162 Etching, but little practised in Germany after the death of Dürer, had found scarcely greater favour in Italy. As to the Dutch Little Masters, spoken of in the preceding chapters, the time was not yet come for most of their charming works. Claude Lorraine's etchings, now so justly celebrated, were themselves of later date than Callot's. The latter was, therefore, the real author of this class of work. In his hand the needle acquired a lightness and boldness not presaged in previous essays, which were at once coarse and careless. In his suggestions of life in motion, he imitated the swift and lively gait of the pencil, whilst his contours are touched with the severity of the pen, if not of the burin itself. In a word, he gave his plates an appearance of accuracy without destroying that look of improvisation which is so necessary to work of the kind; in this way he decided the nature and special conditions of etching. It was owing to his influence that French art first attracted the attention of the Italians: Stefano della Bella, Cantarini and even Canta-Gallina (who did not disdain to copy the etchings of his old pupil), Castiglione the Genoese, and many others, essayed, with more or less success, to appropriate the style of the master of Nancy; and when he returned to establish himself in France, where his reputation had preceded him, he found admirers, and before long a still greater following of imitators.

Fig. 77.J. CALLOT.

From the Set entitled "Les Gueux."

He was presented to Louis XIII., who at once commissioned him to engrave the "Siege of La Rochelle," and received at Court with remarkable favour, which was, however, withdrawn some years later, when he was 164bold enough to oppose the will of Richelieu. After the taking of Nancy (1633) from the Duke of Lorraine, Callot's sovereign, the great Cardinal, to immortalise the event, ordered the engraver to make it the subject of a companion print to that of the "Siege of La Rochelle," which he had just finished; but he was revolted by the idea of using his talents for the humiliation of his prince, and replied to Richelieu's messenger, "that he would rather cut off his thumb than obey." The reply was not of a kind to maintain him in the good graces of the Cardinal, and Callot felt it. He took leave of the king, and soon after retired to his native town, where he died at the age of forty-three.

Really introduced into France by Callot, etching had become the fashion there. Abraham Bosse and Israel Silvestre helped to popularise it, the latter by applying it to topography and architecture, the former by using it for the illustration of religious and scientific books, and the embellishment of the fans and other elegant knick-knacks then selling in that "Galerie Dauphine du Palays" which is figured in one of his prints, and from which a play of Corneille's derives its name. He published besides an infinite number of subjects of all sorts: domestic scenes, portraits, costumes, architectural ornaments, almost always engraved from his own designs, and sometimes from those of the Norman painter, Saint-Ygny.


"Le Bouvier."

Abraham Bosse is doubtless a second-rate man, but he is far from having no merit at all. He is an intelligent, if not a very delicate observer, who knows how to impart to his figures and to the general aspect 166of a scene an appearance of reality which is not altogether the truth, but which comes very near to having its charm. He certainly possesses the instinct of correct drawing, in default of refined taste and feeling; and finally, to take him simply as an engraver, he has much of the bold and firm handling of Callot, with something already of that cheerful and thoroughly French cleverness which was destined to be more and more developed in the national school of engraving, and to reach perfection in the second half of the seventeenth century.

To Abraham Bosse are owing decided improvements in the construction of printing-presses, the composition of varnishes, and all the practical parts of the art; to him some technical studies are also due, the most interesting of which, the "Traité des Manières de Graver sur l'Airain par le Moyen des Eaux-fortes," is, if not the first, at least one of the first books on engraving published in France. We may add that the works of Abraham Bosse, like those of all other etchers of his time, show a continual tendency to imitate with the needle the work of the graver: a tendency worth remarking, though blamable in some respects, as its result is to deprive each class of work of its peculiar character, and from etching in particular to remove its appearance of freedom and ease.

We have reached the moment when the French school of engraving entered the path of progress, no more to depart from it, and when, after having followed in the rear of foreign engravers, the French masters at length began to make up with and almost167 to outdistance them. Before proceeding, we must glance at the movement of those schools whose beginnings we have already traced.


"Le Chevrier."

168 The line of really great Italian painters went out with the sixteenth century. Domenichino, indeed, Annibale Carracci, and a few others, glorified the century that followed; but their works, although full of sentiment, skill, and ability, are quite as much affected by the pernicious eclecticism of the period and by the general decline in taste. After them all the arts declined. Sculpture and architecture became more and more degraded under the influence of Bernini and Borromini. Athirst for novelty of any kind, people had gradually come to think the most extravagant fancies clever. To bring the straight line into greater disrepute, statues and bas-reliefs were tortured as by a hurricane; attitudes, draperies, and even immovable accessories were all perturbed and wavering. The engravers were no better than the painters, sculptors, and architects. By dint of exaggerating the idealistic creed, they had fallen into mere insanity; and in the midst of this degradation of art, they aimed at nothing save excitement and novelty, so that their invention was only shown in irregular or overlengthy lines, and their impetuosity in bad drawing. Daily wandering further from the paths of the masters, the Italian engravers at last attained, through the abuse of method, a complete oblivion of the essential conditions of their art; so that with few exceptions, till the end of the eighteenth century, nothing is to be found save barren sleight-of-hand in the works of that very school, which, in the days of Marc Antonio and his pupils, had been universally triumphant.



From the Set entitled "Le Jardin de la Noblesse Française."

After the Little Masters, inheritors of some of the genius, skill, and renown of Albert Dürer170 Germany had given birth to a fair number of clever engravers, the majority of whom had left their country. Some of them, indistinguishable to-day from the second generation of Marc Antonio's disciples, had, as we said, abandoned the national style for the Italian; others had settled in France or in the Low Countries. The Thirty Years' War accomplished the ruin of German art, which before long was represented only in Frankfort, where Matthew Mérian of Basle, and his pupils, with certain engravers from neighbouring countries, had taken refuge.

Whilst engraving was declining in Italy and Germany, the English school was springing into being. Though at first of small importance, the beginnings and early essays of the school are such as may hardly pass without remark.

For some time England had seemed to take little part in the progress of the fine arts in Europe, except commercially, or as the hostess of many famous artists, from Holbein to Van Dyck. There were a certain number of picture-dealers and print-sellers in London, but under Charles I. her only painters and engravers of merit were foreigners.31 The famous portrait painter, Sir Peter Lely, whom the English are proud to own, was a German, as was Kneller, who inherited his reputation, and, as was Hollar, an171 engraver of unrivalled talent.32 And while a few pupils of this last artist were doing their best to imitate his example, the taste for line engraving and etching, which processes were being slowly and painfully popularised by their efforts, was suddenly changed into a passion for another method, in which the principal success of the English school has since been won.

Prince Rupert, so renowned for his courage and his romantic adventures, had the fortunate chance to introduce to London the process of engraving which is called mezzotint. In spite, however, of what has been alleged, the honour of the invention is not his. Ludwig von Siegen, a lieutenant-colonel in the service of the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, had certainly discovered mezzotint before the end of 1642, for in the course of that year he published a print in this style—the portrait of the Princess Amelia Elizabeth of Hesse—the very first ever given to the public. Von Siegen for awhile refused to divulge his secret. "There is not," he wrote to the Landgrave of Hesse concerning this same portrait, "a single engraver, nor a single artist, who knows how this work was done."

And, indeed, no one succeeded in finding out, and172 it was only after a silence of twelve years that Von Siegen consented to reveal his mystery. Prince Rupert, then at Brussels, was the first initiated. He, in his turn, chose for confidant the painter Wallerant Vaillant, who apparently did not think himself bound to strict silence, for, soon afterwards, a number of Flemish engravers attempted the process. Once made public, no one troubled about the man who had invented it. He was, in fact, so quickly and completely forgotten, that even in 1656 Von Siegen was obliged to claim the title, which no one any longer dreamed of giving him, and to sign his works: "Von Siegen, the first and true inventor of this kind of engraving." It was still worse in London when the plates engraved by Prince Rupert were exhibited, and when the English artists had learnt how they could produce the like. They set themselves to work without looking out for any other models, and were much more taken up with their own results than the history of the discovery, the whole honour of which was attributed to Rupert, the man who in reality had only made it public.


Head of a Young Man (engraved in Mezzotint).

The talent of Rupert's first imitators, like that of the originator himself, did not rise above mediocrity. Amongst their direct successors, and the successors of these, there are few of much account; but in the eighteenth century, when Sir Joshua Reynolds undertook, like Rubens at Antwerp, to himself direct the work of engraving, the number of good English mezzotint engravers became considerable. Earlom, Ardell, Smith, Dickinson, Green, Watson, and many others173 deserving of mention, greatly increased the resources of the process, by applying it to the reproduction of the master's works. Mezzotint, at first reserved for portraits, was used for subjects of every sort:174 flower pieces, genre, even history; and step by step it attained to practical perfection, of which, at the beginning of the present century, the English still had the monopoly.

The methods of mezzotint differ completely from those of line engraving and etching. With the graver and the needle the shadows and half-tones are made out on copper by means of incised lines and touches; with the mezzotint tool, on the contrary, the lights are produced by scraping, the shadows by leaving intact the corresponding portions of the plate. Instead of offering a flat, smooth surface, like the plates in line engraving, a mezzotint copper must be first grained by a steel tool (called the "rocker"), shaped like a chisel, with a semicircular blade which is bevelled and toothed. Sometimes (and this is generally the case in the present day) the "rocking" of the surface, on which the engraver is to work, is produced, not by a tool, but by a special machine.

When the drawing has been traced in the usual way on the prepared plate, the grain produced by the rocker is rubbed down with the burnisher wherever pure white or light tints are required. The parts that are not flattened by the burnisher print as darks; and these darks are all the deeper and more velvety as they result from the grain itself—that is to say, from a general preparation specially adapted to catch the ink—and are by no means composed, as in line engraving, of furrows more or less crowded or cross-hatched.

Mezzotint engraving has, in this respect, the175 advantage of other processes; in all others it is decidedly inferior. The rough grain produced on a plate by the rocker, and the mere scraping by which it is obliterated or modified, are technical hindrances to decided drawing: only with graver or point is it possible to make outlines of perfect accuracy. Again, precision, delicacy of modelling, and perfect finish in detail are impossible to the scraper. Mezzotint, in fine, is suitable for the translation of pictures where the light is scarce and concentrated, but is powerless to render work quiet in aspect and smooth in effect.

English engravers, then, had begun to rank as artists. Callot, and, after him, other French engravers already remarkably skilful, had succeeded in founding a school which was soon to be honoured by the presence of true masters; Italy and Germany were deteriorating steadily. Meanwhile, what was going on elsewhere? In Spain there was a brilliant galaxy of painters, some of whom, like Ribera, have left etchings; but there were few or no professional engravers. In Switzerland, Jost Amman of Zurich (1539–1591) was succeeded by a certain number of illustrator-engravers, heirs of his superficial cleverness and of his commercial rather than artistic ideas: engravers, by the way, who are commonly confounded with the German masters of the same epoch. Lastly, the few Swedes or Poles who studied art, whether in Flanders or Germany, never succeeded in popularising the taste for it in their own countries; only for form's sake need they be mentioned.

The first of the two great phases of the history of176 engraving ends about the middle of the seventeenth century. We have seen that the influence of Marc Antonio, though combated at first by the influence of Albert Dürer, easily conquered, and prevailed without a rival in Italy, Germany, and even France, until the appearance of Callot and his contemporaries. Meanwhile, in the Low Countries the art presented a physiognomy of its own, developed slowly, and ended by undergoing a thorough, but brief, transformation under the authority of Rubens. The Flemish school was soon to be absorbed in that of France, and the second period, which may be termed the French, to begin in the history of engraving.

Were it permissible, on the authority of examples given elsewhere, to compare a multitude of men separated by differences of epoch and endowment, we might arrange the old engravers in the order adopted for a group of much greater artists by the painters of the "Apotheosis of Homer" and the "Hemicycle of the Palais des Beaux-Arts." Let us regard them in our mind's eye as a master might figure them. In the centre is Finiguerra, the father of the race; next to him, on the one side, are the Master of 1466, Martin Schongauer, and Albert Dürer; on the other, Mantegna and Marc Antonio, surrounded, like the three German masters, by their disciples, amongst whom they maintain an attitude of command. Between the two groups, but rather on the German side, is Lucas van Leyden, first in place, as by right, among the Dutchmen. Below these early masters, who wear upon their brows177 that expression of severity which distinguishes their work, comes the excited crowd of daring innovators, whose merit is in the spirit of their style—Bolswert, Vorsterman, Pontius, Cornelius Visscher, Van Dalen, and their rivals. Rembrandt muses apart, sombre, and as though shrouded in mystery. Lastly, in the middle distance, are seen the merely clever engravers: the Dutch Little Masters, Callot, Hollar, and Israel Silvestre.

If, on the other hand, we must abandon this realm of fancy for the regions of fact, we might sum up the results of past progress by instancing a few prints of perfect beauty. Our own selection would be Mantegna's "Entombment;" Marc Antonio's "Massacre of the Innocents;" the "Death of the Virgin," by Martin Schongauer; Dürer's "Melancholia;" the "Calvary" of Lucas van Leyden; Rembrandt's "Christ Healing the Sick;" Bolswert's "Crown of Thorns;" the "Portrait of Rubens," by Paul Pontius, or the "Gellius de Bouma" of Cornelius Visscher; and finally, Callot's "Florentine Fair," or "Garden at Nancy," and the "Bouvier," or, better still, the "Soleil Levant" of Claude Lorraine. Happy the owner of this selection of masterpieces: the man who, better inspired than the majority of his kind, has preferred a few gems to an overgrown and unwieldy collection.




We have followed through all its stages the progress of the art of engraving, from the time of its earliest more or less successful attempts, to the time when a really important advance was accomplished. However brilliant these early phases may have been, properly speaking they include but the beginnings of the art. The epoch we are now to traverse is that of its complete development and fullest perfection.

We have seen that the schools of Italy and the Low Countries had, each in its own direction, largely increased the resources of engraving, without exhausting them. The quality of drawing would seem to have been carried to an inimitable perfection in the works of Marc Antonio, had not examples of a keener sense of form and an exactness even more irreproachable been discovered in those of the French masters of the seventeenth century. The engravings produced under the direct influence of Rubens only remained the finest specimens of the science of colour and effect until the appearance of the plates engraved in Paris by Gérard Audran. Finally, though the older engravers had set themselves the task of accentuating a certain kind of beauty, suitable179 to the peculiar tastes and capacities of the schools to which they belonged, none of them had sought, at least with any success, to present in one whole all the different species of beauty inherent in the art. It was reserved for the French engravers of the age of Louis XIV. to unite in one supreme effort qualities which till then had seemed to exclude each other. While they proved themselves draughtsmen as skilful and colourists as good as the best of their predecessors, they excelled them in their harmonious fusion of whatever qualities are appropriate to engraving, as also in the elasticity of their theory and the all-round capacity of their method.

The works of the Louis XIII. engravers heralded this new departure, and prepared the way for the real masters. As soon as, with a view to securing a certain measure of independence, the French school of painting had begun to free itself from the spirit of systematic imitation, the art of line engraving proceeded resolutely along an open path, and marked its course by still more significant improvements. To say nothing of Thomas de Leu—who for that matter was not, perhaps, born in France33—and nothing of Léonard Gaultier, who, like De Leu, principally worked in the reign of Henri IV., Jean Morin, whose method, at once so picturesque and so firm, was the result of a peculiar combination of acid, dry-point180 and the graver, Michel Lasne, Claud Mellan—in spite of the somewhat pretentious ease and rather affected skill of his handling—and other line engravers, variously capable, each after his kind, are found to owe nothing to foreign example. Their works already do more than hint at the new departure; but we are approaching the period when distinguished engravers become so common in the French school, that in this place we need only mention those whose names are still of special importance.

Robert Nanteuil, one of the most eminently distinguished, and, taking them chronologically, one of the first, was destined for the bar, and in his youthful tastes showed none of that irresistible tendency to the arts which is the common symptom of great talent. Whilst studying literature and science at Rheims, where he was born in 1626, he also took up drawing and engraving, but with no idea of devoting himself steadily to either. It seems, however, that after having merely dallied in odd moments with the art which was one day to make him famous, he very soon concluded that he had served a sufficient apprenticeship; for at nineteen he set about engraving the frontispiece to his own philosophical thesis.


Antoine Vitré. After Philippe de Champagne.

It was in those days the custom to ornament such writings with figures and symbols appropriate to the candidate's position, or to the subject of his argument. The most distinguished painters did not disdain to design originals, and the frontispieces engraved from Philippe de Champagne, Lesueur, and Lebrun, are not unworthy of the talent and reputation of those great 182men. Nanteuil, in emulation, was anxious not only to produce a masterpiece, but to invest it with an appearance of grandeur as little fitted to his position as to his slender acquaintance with the art. However that may have been, he sustained his thesis to the satisfaction of the judges; and, albeit an exceedingly bad one, his engraving was admired in the society which he frequented.34 Some verses addressed to ladies35 still further increased his reputation as a universal genius. Unfortunately, to all these public successes were added others of a more purely personal nature, which were soon noised abroad; and it would appear that, fresh adventures having led to a vexatious scandal, Nanteuil, who shortly before had married the sister of the engraver Regnesson, was compelled to leave, almost in secrecy, a place where once he had none save admirers and friends. By a fatal coincidence the fugitive's family was ruined at the same time: it became imperative for him to live by his own work, and to seek his fortune in the practice of draughtsmanship.

Abandoning the law, he therefore set out for Paris183 where he arrived poor and unknown, but determined to succeed. The question was, how without introductions to gain patrons? how to make profitable acquaintances in the great city? After losing some days in quest of a good opening, it is said that he hit upon a somewhat strange device. He had brought with him from Rheims some crayon portraits, as specimens of his ability; he chose one of these, and waited at the door of the Sorbonne till the young divinity students came out of class. He followed them into a neighbouring wine shop, where they were wont to take their meals, and pretended to be looking for some one whose portrait he had taken (he said) the week before. He knew neither the name nor address of his sitter, but thought that if his fellow-students would look at the drawing, they might be able and willing to help him. It is superfluous to say that the original of the portrait was not recognised; but the picture passed from hand to hand, and was admired; the price was asked, the artist was careful to be moderate in his demands, and some of the young men were so taken by the smallness of the sum, that they offered to sit for their portraits. The first finished and approved, other students in their turn wanted their portraits for their families and friends. This gave the young artist more remunerative work. His connection rapidly increased, and before long he was entrusted with the reproduction, on copper, of drawings commissioned by distinguished parliament men and persons of standing at the Court. At last the king, whose portrait he afterwards engraved in184 different sizes—as often as eleven times—gave him a number of sittings, after which Nanteuil received a pension and the title of Dessinateur du Cabinet.36

Louis XIV. was not satisfied with thus rewarding a talent already recognised as superior; he was also desirous of stimulating by general measures the development of what he had himself declared a "liberal art."37 Engravers were privileged to exercise it without being subjected to "any apprenticeship, or controlled by other laws than those of their own genius;" and seven years later (1667) the royal establishment at the Gobelins became virtually a school of engraving. Whilst Lebrun, its first director-in-chief, assembled therein an army of painters, draughtsmen, and even sculptors, and wrought from his own designs the tapestries of the "Éléments" and the "Saisons," Sebastien Leclerc superintended the labours of a large body of native and foreign engravers, entertained at the king's expense.

One of these, Edelinck, had been summoned to France by Colbert. Born at Antwerp in 1640, and a185 contemporary of the engravers trained by the disciples of Rubens himself, he was distinguished, like them, by his vigour of handling and knowledge of effect. Once settled in Paris, he supplemented these Flemish characteristics with qualities distinctively French, and was soon a foremost engraver of his time. Endowed with singular insight and elasticity of mind, he readily assimilated, and sometimes even improved upon, the style of those painters whom he reproduced, and adopted a new sentiment with every new original. He began, in France, with an engraving of Raphael's "Holy Family," the so-called "Vierge de François I.," which is severe in aspect, and altogether Italian in drawing; and he followed this up with plates of the "Madeleine" of Lebrun, his "Christ aux Anges," and his "Famille de Darius," all of them admirable reproductions, in which the defects of the originals are modified, while their beauties are increased by the use of methods which make their peculiar and essential characteristics none the less conspicuous. In interpreting Lebrun, Edelinck altered neither his significance nor his style; he only touched his work with fresh truth and nature: as, when dealing with Rigaud, he converted that artist's pomposity and flourish into a certain opulence and vigour. When, on the contrary, he had to interpret a work stamped with calm and reflective genius, his own bold and brilliant talent became impregnated with serenity, and he could execute with a marvellous reticence such a translation as that from Philippe de Champagne—the painter's portrait of himself—a favourite, it is said186 with the engraver, and one of the masterpieces of the art.

When Edelinck arrived in Paris, Nanteuil, his senior by some fifteen years, had a studio at the Gobelins, close to the one where he himself was installed. This seeming equality in the favour accorded to two men, then so unequal in reputation and achievement, would be astonishing unless we remember the object which brought them together, and the very spirit of the institution.

Things went on in the Gobelins almost as they did in Florence, in the gardens of San Marco, under Lorenzo de' Medici. Artists of repute worked side by side with beginners: not indeed together, but near enough for the master continually to help the student, and for the spirit of rivalry, the excitement of example, to keep alive a universal continuity of effort. French art had been lately honoured by three painters of the highest order—Poussin, Claude38 and Lesueur; but the first two lived in retirement, and far from France; whilst the third had died leaving no pupils, and, consequently, no tradition. It seemed urgent, therefore, in order to perpetuate the glory of the school, to gather together both men of mature talent and men whose talent was yet young and unformed, and to impel them all towards a common object on a common line of work. Colbert it was who conceived and executed the plan, who assembled187 all the great masters in painting, sculpture, and engraving, whose services he could command, without omitting any younger men who might seem worthy of encouragement. He quartered them all at the Gobelins, and put over them the man best fitted to play the part of their organiser and supreme director. "There was a pre-established harmony between Louis XIV. and Lebrun," says M. Vitet39 "and when the painter died (1690), neither he nor his master had as yet permitted any encroachment upon their territory." Lebrun might have appropriated a famous saying of the king, applied it to his own absolute supremacy, and said, with truth, that he alone was French art. Everything connected with the art of design, whether directly or indirectly, from statues and pictures for public buildings down to furniture and gold plate, were all subject to his authority, and were all moulded by his influence. It was an unfortunate influence in some respects, for it made the painting and sculpture of the epoch monotonously bombastic; but to engraving, under whose auspices contemporary pictures were sometimes transformed into real masterpieces, it cannot be said to have been unfavourable.


The Entombment. After Poussin.

When Lebrun was called to the government of the arts, the number of practical engravers in France was already considerable. Jean Pesne, the special interpreter of Poussin, had published several of those vigorous prints which even now shed honour on the name of the engraver of the "Évanouissement188 d'Esther," of the "Testament d'Eudamidas," and of the "Sept Sacrements." Claudine Bouzonnet, surnamed189 Claudia Stella, who by the force of her extraordinary gift has won her way to the highest rank among female engravers, Étienne Baudet, and Gantrel—all these, like Jean Pesne, applied themselves almost exclusively to the task of reproducing the compositions of the noble painter of Les Andelys. On the other hand, François de Poilly, Roullet, and Masson (the last so celebrated for his portrait of Count d'Harcourt, and his "Pilgrims of Emmaus," after Titian), and many others equally well known, had won their spurs before they devoted themselves to the reproduction of Lebrun. Finally, Nanteuil, who only engraved a few portraits from originals by the director, was already widely known when Colbert requested him to join, among the first, the brotherhood which he had founded at the Gobelins. As soon as in his turn Edelinck was admitted, he hastened to profit by the advice of the master whom it was his privilege to be associated with; and, aided by Nanteuil's example, and under Nanteuil's eye, he soon tried his hand in the production of engraved portraits.

No one indeed could be better fitted than Nanteuil to teach this special art, in which he has had few rivals and no superior. Even now, when we consider these admirable portraits of his, we are as certain of the likeness as if we had known the sitters. Everybody's expression is so clearly defined, the character of his physiognomy so accurately portrayed, that it is impossible to doubt the absolute truth of the representation. There is no touch of picturesque affectation in the details; no exaggerated nicety of means;190 no trick, nor mannerism of any sort; but always clear and limpid workmanship, and style so reticent, so measured, that at first glance there is a certain indescribable appearance of coldness, no hindrance to persons of taste, but a pitfall to such eager and hasty judgments as, to be conquered, must be carried by storm. Nanteuil's portraits come before us in all the outward calm of nature; possibly they seem almost inartistic because they make no parade of artifice; but, once examined with attention, they discover that highest and rarest form of merit which is concealed under an appearance of simplicity.

If the "Turenne," the "Président de Bellièvre," the "Van Steenberghen" (called the "Avocat de Hollande"), the "Pierre de Maridat," the "Lamothe Le Vayer," the "Loret," and others, are masterpieces of refinement in expression and drawing, they also prove, as regards execution, the exquisite taste and the marvellous dexterity of the engraver. But to discern the variety of method they display, and to perceive that the handling is as sure and fertile as it is learned and unpretentious, they must be closely studied.

As a rule, Nanteuil employs in his half-lights dots arranged at varying distances, according to the force of colouring required, in combination with short strokes of exceeding fineness. Sometimes—as, for instance, in the "Christine de Suède," altogether engraved in this manner—the process suffices him not only to model such parts as verge upon his lights, but even to construct the masses of his shadows.191 The "Edouard Molé" is, on the contrary, in pure line. The soft silkiness of hair he often expresses by free and flowing lines, some of which, breaking away from the principal mass, are relieved against the background, breaking the monotony of the workmanship, and suggesting movement by their vagueness of contour. Often, too, certain loose lines, either broken or continued without crossing in different directions, admirably distinguish the natures of certain substances, and imitate to perfection the soft richness of furs or the sheen of satin. Yet it sometimes happens that in the master's hand the same method results in the most opposite effects: a print, for instance, may exemplify in its treatment of the textures of flesh a method applied elsewhere, and with equal success, to the rendering of draperies. In a word, Nanteuil does not appropriate any particular process to any predetermined purpose. While judiciously subordinating each to propriety, he can, when he pleases, make the most of all; and whatever path he follows, it always appears that he has taken the best to reach his end.

It was not only to the teaching of Nanteuil that Edelinck had recourse; he still further improved his style by studying his countryman, Nicolas Pitau (whom Colbert had also summoned from Antwerp to the Gobelins), and afterwards by acquiring the secret of brilliant handling from François de Poilly. To which of these engravers he was most indebted is a point which cannot be exactly determined. After investing himself with qualities from each, he192 did not imitate one more than another; he found his inspiration in the examples of all three.

Nanteuil and Edelinck, first united by their work, were soon fast friends, in spite of the difference of their ages, and the still greater difference of their tastes. The French engraver sent for his wife from Rheims as soon as he found himself in a fair way to success and fortune; but he had also in some degree returned to the habits of his youth. A shining light in society, and as intimate with the cultured set at Mlle. de Scudéry's as with the devotees of pleasures less strictly intellectual, his career of dissipation in the salons and fashionable taverns of the day contrasts strangely with the sober quality of his talent, and increases our surprise at the number of works which he produced. Even his declining health did not change his habits. Till the end he continued to divide his time between his work and the world; and at his death, in 1678, at the age of fifty-two, he left nothing, or almost nothing, to his wife, in spite of the large sums he had made since he came to Paris.


Nicolas Poussin.

Edelinck's fate was very different. He lived in seclusion, given over to his art and to the one ambition of becoming churchwarden (marguillier) of his parish: a position refused him, it is said, as reserved for tradesmen and official personages, and with which he was only at length invested by the condescending interference of the king. It was probably the only favour personally solicited by Edelinck, but it was by no means the first he owed to the protection of Louis XIV. Before the churchwardenship he held the title of "Premier193 Dessinateur du Cabinet." Like Lebrun, like Mansart and Le Nôtre, he was a Knight of St. Michael194 and the Academy of Painting elected him as one of its council. His old age, like the rest of his days, was quiet and laborious; and when he died (1707) his two brothers and his son Nicolas, who had all three been his pupils, inherited a fortune as wisely husbanded as it had been honourably acquired.

Edelinck survived the principal engravers of the reign of Louis XIV. François de Poilly, Roullet, Masson, and Jean Pesne, had more or less closely followed Nanteuil to the grave. At the Gobelins, once so rich in ability of the first order, students had taken the place of masters, and clever craftsmen succeeded to artists of genuine inspiration. Van Schuppen had followed Nanteuil, as Mignard had Lebrun, from necessity rather than right. And last of all, Gérard Audran, the most distinguished engraver of the time—whom, for the sake of clearness in our narrative, we have not yet mentioned—had died in 1703; and though members of his family did honour to the name he had distinguished, none of them were able to sustain the full weight of its glory.


"La Noblesse." After Raphael.

One would hardly venture to say that Gérard Audran was an engraver of genius, because it does not seem permissible to apply the term to one whose business it is to interpret the creations of others, and subordinate himself to models he has not himself designed; yet how else can one characterise a talent so full of life, so startling a capacity for feeling, and a method at once so large, so unstudied, and so original? Do not the plates of Gérard Audran bear witness to something more than mere superficial skill? Do 196they not rather reveal qualities more subtle—a something personal and living, which raises them to the rank of imaginative work? Their real fault, perhaps—at least the fault of those after Lebrun or Mignard—is that they are not reproductions of a purer type of beauty. And even these masters are so far dignified by the creative touch of their translator as almost to seem worthy of unreserved admiration. We can understand the mistake of the Italians, who thought, when they saw the "Batailles d'Alexandre," in black and white, that France, too, had her Raphael, when, in reality, allowing for difference of manner, she could only glory in another Marc Antonio.


"Navigation." After Raphael.

Gérard Audran was born in Lyons in 1640, and there obtained from his father his first lessons in art. Afterwards he went to Paris, and placed himself under the most famous masters of the day, by whose aid he was soon introduced to Lebrun, and at once commissioned to engrave one of Raphael's compositions. When Audran undertook the work, he had not the picture before him, as Edelinck had when he engraved the "Vierge de François I." His original was only a pencil copy which Lebrun had brought back from Italy; hence no doubt the modern character and the French style which are stamped on the engraving. Feeling dissatisfied with his work, the young artist did not publish it, but determined to study the Italians in Italy, to educate himself directly from their works, and thenceforth to engrave only those pictures of which he could judge at first-hand without 198the danger of an intermediary. He set off therefore for Rome, and remained there for three years, during which time he produced several copies painted at the Vatican, many drawings from the antique, several plates after Raphael, Domenichino, and the Carraccis, and the engraving of a ceiling by Pietro da Cortona, which last he dedicated to Colbert.

By this act of homage he acquitted himself of a debt of gratitude to the minister who had favoured him ever since his arrival in Paris, and who, at Lebrun's request, had supplied the means of his sojourn in Italy. On Colbert's part it was only an act of justice to recall Audran to France, and to entrust him with the engraving of the lately finished series of the "Batailles d'Alexandre," for the great publication called the "Cabinet du Roi." To the engraver, then twenty-seven years old, a pension was granted, with a studio at the Gobelins, then the customary reward of talents brilliantly displayed. It may be added that six years (1672–1678) sufficed him to finish the stupendous task.

Treated as a friend, and almost on an equal footing, by Lebrun, who for no one else departed from the routine of his official supremacy, Audran exerted over the king's chief painter a considerable, if a secret, influence. In spite of all that has been said40 Lebrun199 was not the kind of man to openly question his own infallibility, nor to advertise his deference to the advice of an artist so much younger than himself, his pupil, so to speak, and consequently without the authority of any higher degree; yet he frequently consulted him, and took his advice, in private. Also (and this is significant) when the engravings of the "Batailles" appeared—engravings to a certain extent unfaithful, inasmuch as they differed decidedly from the originals—the fact that the painter made no complaint points to his recognition in Audran of the right to correct, and to his implicit submission to Audran's corrections.

In this respect Lebrun conducted himself as a man of the world, and one well able to understand the true interests of his reputation. He had everything to gain by giving full liberty to an engraver by whose perfect taste the blunders of his own were corrected, and who harmonised his frequently harsh and heavy colouring, and strengthened in modelling and design his often undecided expression of form. Thus the plates of the "Batailles," in addition to the high quality of the composition of the originals, present, alike in general aspect and in detail, a decision which belongs to Audran alone. Force and transparency of tone, largeness of effect, and, above all, a distinctly marked feeling for characteristic truths, are conspicuous in them. Not a single condition of art is imperfectly fulfilled. Marc Antonio himself drew with no more certainty; the Flemings themselves had no deeper knowledge of chiaroscuro; the French200 engravers, not excepting even Edelinck41 have never treated historical engraving with such ease and mäestria. In a word, none of the most famous engravers of Europe have been, we believe, so richly endowed with all artistic instincts, nor have better understood their use.

The "Batailles d'Alexandre" finished, Audran engraved Lesueur's "Martyre de Saint Protais;" several Poussins, amongst others the "Pyrrhus Sauvé," the "Femme Adultère," and the radiant "Triomphe de la Vérité," one of the most beautiful (if not the most beautiful) historical engravings ever published; and, after Mignard, the "Peste d'Égine," and the paintings in the cupola at Val-de-Grâce.

These several works, where elevation of taste and sentiment are no less triumphantly manifest than in the "Batailles" themselves, are also finished examples of engraving in the literal sense of the word. Audran disdained to flaunt his skill, and to surprise the eye by technical display, but he understood to the utmost all the secrets and resources of the craft, and employed them with more ability than any competitor. Associating engraving with etching, he deepened with powerful touches of the burin those strokes of the needle which had merely served to suggest outlines, masses of shadow, and half-tints. On occasion, short strokes, free as a pencil's, and201 seemingly drawn at random, with dots of different sizes, distributed with apparent carelessness, sufficed for the modelling of his forms; at others, he proceeded by a consistent system of cross-hatching. Here rough etching work is tumbled about (so to speak) in wild disorder; there a contrary effect is produced by nearly parallel furrows scooped in the metal with methodical exactness; but everywhere the choice and progress of the tools are based on conditions inherent in the nature of the several objects, and their relative positions and distances. Audran did not try to attract attention to any of the methods he employed; he made each heighten the effect of the other, and combined them all without parade of ease, and yet without confusion.

So many admirable works secured for Audran a fame such as Edelinck, as Nanteuil himself, had never obtained. The Academy of Painting, which had welcomed him after the publication of his first plates, elected him as one of its council in 1681. The school of engraving which he opened grew larger than any other, and many of his pupils became notable even in his company, and helped to increase the renown of the master who had trained them.42

Towards the close of his life Audran laid by the burin for the pen. Following Albert Dürer's202 example, he proposed to put together, in the form of treatises, his life-long observations on the art he had so successfully practised. Unfortunately, this task was interrupted by his death; and, excepting a "Recueil des Proportions du Corps Humain," nothing is left us of those teachings which the greatest engraver, not only of France, but perhaps of any school, had desired to hand on to posterity.

By their works, Nanteuil, Audran, and the other masters of the reign of Louis XIV., had popularised historical and portrait engraving in France. The taste for prints spread more and more, and amateurs began to make collections. At first they confined themselves to real masterpieces; after which they began to covet the complete achievement of peculiar engravers. The mania for rare prints became fashionable; and we learn from La Bruyère that, before the end of the century, some amateurs had already come to prefer engravings "presque pas tirées"—engravings "fitter to decorate the Petit-Pont or the Rue Neuve on a holiday than to be hoarded in a collection"—to the most perfect specimens of the art. Others were chiefly occupied with the bulk of their collections, and treasured up confused heaps of all sorts of plates, good, bad, and indifferent. Others there were who only cared about such as did not exceed a certain size; and it is told of one devotee of this faith that, inasmuch as he would harbour nothing in his portfolios but round engravings of exactly the same circumference, he was used to cut ruthlessly to his pattern whatever came into his hands. We must add that, side by203 side with such maniacs, intelligent men like the Abbé de Marolles and the Marquis de Béringhen increased their collections to good purpose, and were content to bring together the most important specimens of ancient engraving and such as best served to illustrate the more modern progress of the art.

In France, however, it was not only the best expressions of engraving that were considered. On the heels of the great engravers there followed a crowd of second-rate workmen. Besides history and portrait, every variety of print was published: domestic scenes, architecture and topography, costumes, fêtes, and public celebrations. The engraving of maps greatly improved under the direction of Adrian and Guillaume Sanson, sons of the famous Geographer in Ordinary to Louis XIII.

Jacques Gomboust, the king's Engineer in Ordinary for the "drawing up of plans of towns," published, as early as 1652, a map of Paris and its suburbs in nine sheets, much more exact and more carefully engraved than those of former reigns. Fashion plates were multiplied ad infinitum; and a periodical called Le Mercure Galant steadily produced new modes in apparel and personal ornaments. Certain collections also, destined to perpetuate the remembrance of the events of the reign, or the personal actions of the king, were published "by order, and at the expense of His Majesty," with a luxury justified at any rate by the importance of the artists participating in the work. The very almanacs bear the stamp of talent, and are not unfrequently inscribed with the names204 of celebrated engravers, such as Lepautre, François Spierre, Chauveau, Sébastien Leclerc, and De Poilly.

In the days of Henri IV. and Louis XIII. almanacs were printed on a single sheet, with a border sometimes of allegorical figures, but, more often, composed simply of the attributes of the seasons. It was under Louis XIV. that they at first appeared on larger paper, and then in several sheets, wherein were represented the most important events of the year, or, it might be, some ceremony or court fête. In one is pictured the Battle of Senef, or the signing of the Treaty of Nimeguen; in another, perhaps, the king is represented dancing the Strasbourg minuet, or offering a collation to ladies. Of course the majority of these prints are valueless in point of execution, and are, moreover, of an almost purely commercial character; but those which are poorest from an artistic point of view are still worthy of interest, since they afford indisputable information concerning the people and the habits and manners of the time.

Whilst many French artists were devoting themselves to the engraving of subjects of manners or domestic scenes, or to the illustration of books and almanacs, others were making satirical sketches of current events and popular persons. The engraving of caricatures, though it only dates from the middle of the seventeenth century, had been practised long before in France and other countries.

To say nothing of the "Danses macabres," a sort of religious, or at any rate philosophical, satire, we might mention certain caricatures published even205 before the Carracci in Italy; in the Low Countries in the time of Jerome Bosch and Breughel; in Germany in the reign of Maximilian II.; and finally in France, in the reign of Charles IX. But all these are either as stupidly licentious as those afterwards made upon Henri III. and his courtiers, or as heavily grotesque as those of the time of the League, towards the end of the reign of Henri IV.

When Louis XIII. came to the throne, the wit of the caricaturists was little keener, if we may judge by the coarse pictorial lazzi inspired by the disgrace and death of the Maréchal d'Ancre, and the Dutch and Spanish prints designed in ridicule of the French; but some years later, when Callot had introduced into the treatment of burlesque a keenness and delicacy which it could hardly have been expected to attain, the comic prints assumed under the burin of certain engravers an appearance of greater ingenuity and less brutality.

It is needless to remark that at the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV.—indeed, during the whole time of the Fronde and the foreign occupation of a part of French territory—it was Mazarin and the Spaniards who came in for all the epigrams. In the caricatures of the day the Spaniards were invariably represented with enormous ruffs, in tatters superbly worn, and, to complete the allusion to their poverty, with bunches of beetroot and onions at their belts. There is nothing particularly comic, nor especially refined, in the execution of the prints. In piquancy and truth, these jokes about Spanish manners and Spanish food recall those presently to be made in England206 about Frenchmen, who are there invariably represented as frog-eaters and dancing-masters. Yet comparing the facetiæ of that period with the exaggerated or obscene humours which preceded them, it seems as though the domain of caricature were even then being opened up to worthy precursors of the lively draughtsmen of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries: in fact, as though some Attic salt were already penetrating to Bœotia.

This advance is visible in the satires published towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The "Procession Monacale," a set of twenty-four engravings which appeared in Holland (where many Protestants had taken refuge), attacked with considerable vigour the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and the principal persons who had participated in that measure. Louvois, Mme. de Maintenon, and all the privy councillors of Louis XIV., are represented under the cowl, and with significant attributes. Even the king figures in this series of heroes of the New League; he is in a monk's frock like the others, but a sun, in allusion to his lofty device, serves for his face, and this hooded Phœbus bears in his hand a torch to light himself through the surrounding darkness. The prints that make up this set, as well as many more in the same style, are designed and engraved with a certain amount of spirit. They serve to prove that in the frivolous arts, as well as in the comic literature of the day, the object was to make "decent folk" laugh, and to keep joking within bounds. In a word, in comparison with former caricatures207 they are as the vaudevilles of the Italian comedy to the farces once played on the boards of strolling theatres.

Every sort of engraving being cultivated in France with more success than anywhere else, under Louis XIV. the trade in prints became one of the most flourishing branches of French industry. The great historical plates, it is true—those at any rate which, like the "Batailles d'Alexandre," were published at the king's cost—were chiefly sold in France, and were not often exported, save as presents to sovereigns and ambassadors. But portraits, domestic scenes, and fashion plates, were shipped off in thousands, and flooded all parts of Europe. Before the second half of the seventeenth century, the chief printsellers (for the most part engravers themselves and publishers of their own works) were established in Paris on the Quai de l'Horloge, or, like Abraham Bosse, in the interior of the Palace. Rather later than this, the most popular shops were to be found in the neighbourhood of the Church of St. Sèverin. If we examine the prints then published in Paris, we may count as many as thirty publishers living in the Rue St. Jacques alone, and amongst the number are many famous names: as Gérard Audran, "at the sign of the Two Golden Pillars;" François de Poilly, "at the sign of St. Benedict," and so forth.

Hence, we may mention, in passing, the mistake which attributes to engravers of the greatest talent the production of bad plates, to which they would208 never have put finger except to take proofs. For instance, the words "Gérard Audran excudit," to be found at the bottom of many such, do not mean that they were engraved by the master, but only published by him. Often, too, pseudonyms—not always in the best possible taste—concealed the name of the publisher and the place of publication: a precaution easily understood, as it was generally applied to obscenities, and particularly to those called "pièces à surprise," which were then becoming common, and continued to increase indefinitely during the following century. True art, however, is but little concerned with such curiosities; and it is best to look elsewhere for its manifestations.

The superior merit of the engraving of the masters of the French school had attracted numbers of foreign artists to Paris. Many took root there, amongst them Van Schuppen and the Flemings commissioned to engrave the "Victoires du Roi," painted by Van der Meulen; others, having finished their course of study, returned to their own countries, the missionaries of French doctrine and of French manner. The result of this united influence was an almost exact similarity in all the line engravings produced, by men of whatever nationality or from whatever originals. Thus, the portraits engraved by the German Johann Hainzelmann from Ulrich Mayer and Joachim Sandrart, scarcely differ from those he had formerly engraved from French artists: the "Michel Le Tellier," for instance, and the "Président Dufour." The historical plates published about the same time209 in Germany prove the same lively zeal in imitation. In them art appears as, so to speak, a French subject; and Gustave Ambling, Bartholomew Kilian43 and many more of their countrymen—pupils, like these two, of François de Poilly—might be classed amongst the engravers of the French school, if the style of their work were the only thing to be considered.

An examination of the prints published by Flemish and Dutch artists later than the school of Rubens and Van Dalen, would justify a like observation. We may fairly regard Van Schuppen only as a clever pupil of Nanteuil, and Cornelius Vermeulen as an imitator, less successful, but no less subservient. And when we turn to the Italian engravers of the seventeenth century, we find that, as a rule, their work is marked by so impersonal a physiognomy, is so much the outcome of certain preconceived and rigid conventions, that one could almost believe them inspired by the same mind, and done by the same hand.

Whilst French influence reigned almost supreme in Germany and the Low Countries, and Italian art became more and more the slave of routine, English engraving had not yet begun to feel the influence of the progress elsewhere achieved since the beginning of the century. The time was, however, at hand when, in the reign of Louis XV., London engravers210 who came to study in Paris should return to their own country to practise successfully the lessons they had learned. We must, therefore, presently turn to them; but, before speaking of the pupils, we must briefly mention the achievements of the masters, and narrate the story of French engraving in France after the death of the excellent artists of the age of Louis XIV.




Morin, Nanteuil, Masson, and the other portrait engravers of the period, in spite of the variety of their talent, left their immediate successors a similar body of doctrine and a common tradition. Now the works of the painter Rigaud, whose importance had considerably increased towards the end of the reign of Louis XIV., made certain modifications of this severe tradition necessary on the part of the artists employed to engrave them. Portraits, for the most part bust portraits, relieved against an almost naked background, were no longer in fashion. To render a crowd of accessories which, while enriching the composition, frequently encumbered it beyond measure, became the problem in engraving. It was successfully solved by Pierre Drevet, his son Pierre Imbert, and his nephew Claude Drevet, this last the author, amongst other plates now much prized, of a "Guillaume de Vintimille" and a "Count Zinzendorff."

The first of these three engravers—at Lyons the pupil of Germain Audran, and at Paris of Antoine Masson—engraved, with some few exceptions, only portraits, the best known of which are a full-length212 "Louis XIV.," "Louis XV. as a Child," "Cardinal Fleury," and "Count Toulouse;" they attest an extreme skill of hand, and a keen perception of the special characteristics of the originals. The second, the similarity of whose Christian name has often caused him to be mistaken for his father, showed himself from the first still more skilful and more certain of his own powers. He was only twenty-six when he finished his full-length "Bossuet," in which the precision of the handling, the exactness and brilliancy of the burin work, seem to indicate a talent already arrived at maturity. In this plate, indeed, and in some others by the same engraver—as the "Cardinal Dubois," the "Adrienne Lecouvreur," and others—there are parts, perhaps, that seem almost worthy of Nanteuil himself. It is impossible to imitate with greater nicety the richness of ermine, the delicacy of lace, and the polish and brilliancy of gilding; but the subtle delicacy of physiognomy, the elasticity of living flesh which animated the portraits of the earlier masters, will here be looked for in vain. Such work is the outcome of an art no longer supreme, albeit of a very high order still.

As much may be said of the best historical plates engraved in France under the Regency, and in the first years of Louis XV. The older manner, it is true, was still perceptible, but it was beginning to change, and was soon to be concealed more and more under a parade of craftsmanship amusingly self-conscious, and an elegance refined to the point of affectation.



"L'Avare." From Boucher's "Molière."

214 The French engravers of the time of Louis XV. may be divided into two distinct groups: the one submitting to the authority of Rigaud, and partially preserving the tradition of the last century; the other, of greater numerical importance, and in some respects of greater ability, but, in imitation of Watteau and his followers, seeking success in attractiveness of subject, grace of handling, and the expression of a general prettiness, rather than in the faithful rendering of truth.

As we know, the manners of the time were not calculated to discourage a like tendency, which, indeed, grew more and more general amongst artists during the whole course of the eighteenth century, until it ended in a revolution, as radical in its way as the great political one: namely, the exclusive worship of a somewhat barren simplicity and of the antique narrowly understood.

In 1750 (that is to say, almost at the very time of the birth of David, the future reformer of the school) the public asked nothing more of art than a passing amusement. The immediate successors of Lebrun had brought the historical style into great disrepute. People had wearied of the pompous parade of allegory, the tyranny of splendour, the monotony of luxury; they took refuge in another extreme—in the exaggeration of grace and all the coquetries of sentiment. Pastorals, or would-be pastorals, and subjects for the most part mythological, took the place of heroic actions and academical apotheoses. They had not a whit more nature than these others, but they had at 216any rate more interest for the mind, and greater charm for the eye.


"Le Dépit Amoureux." From Boucher's "Molière."

From the point of view of engraving alone, the prints published in France at this time are for the most part models of spirit and delicacy, as those of the Louis XIV. masters are of learned execution and vigorous conception. Moreover, under the frivolous forms affected by French engraving in the eighteenth century, something not unfrequently survives of the masterly skill and science of the older men. It is to be supposed that Laurent Cars remembered the example of Gérard Audran, and, in his own way, succeeded in perpetuating it when he engraved Lemoyne's "Hercule et Omphale," and "Délivrance d'Andromède." Even when he was reproducing such fantasies as the "Fête vénitienne" of Watteau, or scenes of plain family life, like Chardin's "Amusements de la Vie privée," and "La Serinette," he had the art of supplementing from his own taste whatever strength and dignity his originals might lack. Was it not, too, by appropriating the doctrine, or at least the method, of Audran—his free alliance of the burin with the needle—that Nicolas de Larmessin, Lebas, Lépicié, Aveline, Duflos, Dupuis, and others, produced their charming transcripts of Pater, Lancret, Boucher himself—in spite of his impertinences of manner and his unpleasant falseness of colour—and, above all, Watteau, of all the masters of the eighteenth century the best understood and the most brilliantly interpretated by the engravers? A while later, Greuze had the honour to occupy them most; and some217 among them, as Levasseur and Flipart, did not fail to acquit themselves with ability of a task rendered218 peculiarly difficult by the flaccid and laboured execution of the originals.

Fig. 89.CHEDEL.

"Arlequin Jaloux." After Watteau.

However summary our description of the progress of French engraving during the whole of the reign of Louis XV., or the early years of Louis XVI., it is scarcely possible not to mention, side by side with historical and genre engraving, the countless illustrations—of novels, fables, songs, and publications of every description—the general aspect of which so strongly bears witness to the fertility and grace of French art at that time. It is difficult to omit the names of those agreeable engravers of dainty subjects, not seldom of their own design: those poetæ minores, the vaudevillists of the burin, who, from the interpreters of Gravelot, Eisen, and Gabriel de St. Aubin to Choffard, from Cochin to Moreau, have left us so much work steeped in the richest, the most varied imagination, or informed by an exquisite natural perception. Ready and ingenious above all others, delicate even in their most capricious flights, witty before everything, they are artists whose accomplishment, in spite of its appearance of frivolity, is not to be matched for delicacy and science in the work of any other epoch, or the school of any other country.

Fig. 90.COCHIN.

"La Main Chaude." After De Troy.

Placed, in some sort, at an equal distance from the contemporary historical engravers and the engravers of illustrations, and divided, as it were, between the recollections of the past and the examples of the present, Ficquet, and some years later, Augustin de St. Aubin, produced the little portraits which are as popular now as then. The portraits of Ficquet are219 prized above all; though those of St. Aubin, in spite of their small size, exhibit a largeness and firmness of220 modelling not to be found in work that is sometimes preferred to them. What is more, Ficquet's plates are generally only reductions of prints already published by other engravers, Nanteuil, Edelinck, and the rest; whilst the portraits of St. Aubin have the merit of being directly taken from original pictures or drawings. As a rule, however, these portraits are relieved on a dead black ground, without gradation or variety of effect; and it is probably to the somewhat harsh and monotonous aspect thus produced that we must attribute the comparative disfavour with which they are regarded.

It is also permissible to suppose that Ficquet's almost microscopic prints, like those of his imitators, Savart and Grateloup, owe much of their popularity to their extreme finish. When the mind is not exercised in discerning the essential parts of an art, the eye is apt to look upon excessive neatness of workmanship as the certain evidence of perfection. As people insensible to the charm of painting fall confidingly into raptures over the pictures of Carlo Dolci, Gerard Dow, and Denner, so, it maybe, certain admirers of Ficquet esteem his talent in proportion to the exaggerated cleanness and carefulness of his plates. Yet his real merit does not entirely rest on such secondary considerations. Many of his small portraits, most of them intended as illustrations, are remarkable for firm drawing and delicate facial expression; and if the work were generally simpler and less crowded with half-tints, it might be classed, as miniature in line, with Petitot's enamels.



Rameau. After Caffieri.

222 The analogy, however, can only be supported with regard to their talent; their dispositions differ in every point. The painter Petitot, a fervent Calvinist, whose life presents a curious contrast with the worldly character of his work, had the honour to attract the attention of Bossuet, who, it is said, attempted to convert him. He was imprisoned at For-l'Evêque after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, and only quitted it to devote himself to solitude and study. Ficquet, for his part, took no interest whatever in religious questions, and gave up every spare moment to the pursuit of pleasure; he was, besides, for ever short of money, and was perpetually hunted by his creditors, who, weary of struggling, usually ended by installing him in their own houses to finish a plate for them.

It was in this way that he came to spend nearly two months at St. Cyr, in the very heart of which community he engraved his "Mme. de Maintenon," after Mignard. This portrait, paid for long previously to the last farthing, made no progress whatever; and the Mother Superior, having exhausted prayers and reproaches, and despairing of seeing it finished, addressed herself to the metropolitan. From him she obtained permission to introduce the artist into the convent, and to keep him there till the accomplishment of his task. But things went on no better. Ficquet, bored to death in his seclusion, simply slept out the time, and never touched his graver. One day he sent for the Superior, and told her that if he stayed at St. Cyr to all eternity, he223 could not work in the solitude they had made for him; amusement he must and would have, and in default of better, it must be the conversation of the nuns; he added, in a word, that he refused to finish the portrait unless some of them came every day to keep him company. His conditions were accepted; and to encourage him still further, some of the pupils accompanied the nuns, and played and sang to him in his room. At length the long-expected plate was ready; but Ficquet, disgusted with the work, destroyed it, and would only consent to begin again on the promise of instant liberty and a still larger sum. By these means the nuns of St. Cyr at last became possessed of the likeness of their foundress, and the little "Mme. de Maintenon"—which is perhaps Ficquet's masterpiece—made up to them for the strange exactions with which they had had to comply.

As the habit of employing etching in the execution of their works had gained ground among artists, the temptation to have recourse to this speedy process had vanquished one person after another, even those who seemed least likely to yield, whether from their position in society, or their former methods. There were soon as many amateur as professional engravers; and learning the use of the needle well enough to sketch a pastoral was soon as fashionable as turning a madrigal. Among the first to set the example was the Regent; he engraved a set of illustrations for an edition of "Daphnis et Chloe," and his initiative was followed by crowds of all ranks: great lords like the Duc de224 Chevreuse and the Marquis de Coigny; gentlemen of the gown, like the Président de Gravelle; financiers, scholars, and men of letters, like Watelet, Count Caylus, and D'Argenville.44 Court ladies and the wives of plain citizens joined the throng; from the Duchesse de Luynes and the Queen herself, to Mme. de Pompadour and Mme. Reboul (who afterwards married the painter Vien), there were scores of women who amused themselves by engraving, to say nothing of the many who made it a profession.

The drawback of such pastimes, innocent enough in themselves, was that they degraded art into a frivolous amusement, and promulgated a false view of its capabilities and real object. This is what very generally happens when, on the strength of a certain degree of taste, mistaken for talent, people aspire to compass, without reflection or study, results only to be attained by knowledge and experience. The authors of such hasty work think art easy, because they are ignorant of its essentials; and the public, in its turn mistaken as to these, accepts appearances for reality, becomes accustomed to the pretence of merit, and loses all taste for true superiority. Every art may be thus perverted; and in our own days, amateur water colours, statuettes, and waltzes are as injurious to painting, sculpture, and music, as225 in former days, the amusement of print-making was to engraving.

Moreover, it was not art only that these prints began to injure. Prompted by gallantry, as understood by the younger Crébillon and Voisenon when they wrote their experiences, they often presented to the eyes of women scenes to the description of which they would not have listened: as a certain lady is reported to have asked Baron de Besenval, during the relation of an embarrassing adventure, to "draw a picture-puzzle of what he couldn't tell her." Often, however, engraving, as practised in the salons, appealed to quite another order of passions and ideas. In support of the great cause of the day—philosophy—all weapons seemed fair, and the needle was used to disseminate the new evangel. When Mme. de Pompadour, in her little engraving, the proofs of which were fought for by her courtiers, attempted to show "The Genius of the Arts Protecting France," she set no very dangerous example, and only proved one thing—that the said Genius did not so carefully protect the kingdom as to exclude the possibility of platitude. But when the habitués of Mme. d'Épinay and D'Holbach set themselves in their little prints to attack certain so-called mental superstitions, they unconsciously opened the door to people of a more radical turn of mind. Before the end of the century prints a good deal more crudely energetic appeared on the same subject; and the pothouse engravers, in their turn, illustrated the Père Duchêne, as the drawing-room engravers had illustrated the "Essai sur les Mœurs" and the "Encyclopédie."

226 Although the engraving of illustrations, or at least "light" subjects, was, in the eighteenth century, almost the only sort practised in France, even by the most eminent artists, some of these imparted to their productions a severer significance, and an appearance more in harmony with that of former work. Several—pupils of Nicolas Henri Tardieu, or of Dupuis—resisted with much constancy the encroachment of the fashionable style, and passed on to their scholars of all nations those teachings they had received in their youth. The Germans, Joseph Wagner, Martin Preisler, Schmidt, John George Wille; the Italian, Porporati; the Spaniards, Carmona and Pascal Molés; the Englishmen, Strange, Ingram, Ryland, and others, came, at close intervals, for instruction or improvement in this school. In Paris they published plates of various degrees of excellence; but, in the greater part of these, the nationality and personal sentiment of their authors are obliterated in acquired habits of taste and handling.

Wille's prints, for instance—those even which have most contributed to his fame, "Paternal Instruction," after Terburg, or the "Dutchwoman Knitting," after Mieris—might just as well, for anything one sees to the contrary, have been the work of a French engraver of the same period. They only differ from plates bearing the name of Beauvarlet or of Daullé in a certain Teutonic excess of coldness in the handling; in a somewhat staid, and, as it were, metallic stiffness of arrangement. Carmona's "François Boucher," and his "Colin de Vermont," after Roslin, and Porporati's 228"Tancrède et Clorinde," after Carle Vanloo, have still less of the stamp of originality.


Susannah. After Santerre.

Finally, with the exception of Ryland, by reason of the particular process he employed, and of which we shall presently have to speak—and especially of Strange, who has his own peculiar mode of feeling, and a sort of merit peculiar to himself—none of the English engravers trained in the French school fail to show the signs of close relationship. Engravers of more original talent must be looked for neither amongst historical nor portrait engravers, nor even amongst engravers of genre. For information as to the state of the art outside of France, and apart from the French school, we must rather turn to the illustrations of books and almanacs engraved by Chodowiecki at Dantzic or Berlin, or to the vast plates from ancient Roman monuments etched—not without a certain rhetorical emphasis—by Piranesi.

As for other second or third rate foreign engravers of the period, as for those ragionevoli (as Vasari would have called them) whose work, if undeserving of oblivion, is likewise undeserving of attentive examination, we shall have done our part if we mention certain amongst them: as J. Houbraken, who worked at Dordrecht; Domenichino Cunego, of Rome; Weirotter, of Vienna; and Fernando Selma, of Madrid.

Meanwhile, in France and other countries, by royal command, or at the expense of rich amateurs, important series of prints were being published in commemoration of public events, or in illustration of229 famous collections of painting and sculpture. The first of the latter order was the "Galerie de Versailles," begun by Charles Simoneau, continued by Massé, and only finished in 1752 after twenty-eight consecutive years of labour. It was speedily succeeded by the "Cabinet de Crozat" and the "Peintures de l'Hôtel Lambert;" and a little later the example of France was followed by other countries, and one after the other there appeared, in Italy, Germany, and England, the "Museo Pio Clementino," the "Dresden Gallery," the catalogue of the Bruhl collection, and the publications of Boydell—all such magnificent works as do honour to the second half of the eighteenth century. Finally, thanks to Vivarès and Balechou, the engraving of landscape began to rival historical engraving, to which it had before been considered as merely accessory. The honour of having created it belongs to the French. It is too often forgotten that they were the first to excel in it, and that but for the practice of Vivarès, England to whom the merit of initiative is usually attributed might never have boasted of Woollett and his pupils.

Since Claude Lorraine and Gaspard Dughet, the French school had produced few painters of pure landscape—none of first-rate ability. The first to restore to the neglected art a something of its pristine brilliance was Joseph Vernet. An observer, but one rather clever than sincere, he is certainly wanting in the strength and gravity which are characteristics of the great masters. In his work there is more intelligence than deep feeling, and more elegance than230 true beauty. Like the descriptive poetry of the time, it shows us Nature a trifle too sleek and shiny, and a little over-emphasised; she is rather a theme for discourse than a model to be lovingly studied as a source of inspiration. Yet even where the truth is thus arbitrarily treated, it retains under Vernet's brush sufficient charm, if not to move, at least to interest and to please; so that the success of this brilliant artist, and the influence he exerted on the French school and on public taste, are easily understood.

In the lofty position which his talent had won him, Joseph Vernet was more capable than any other painter of giving a happy impulse to the art of engraving; and, indeed, the landscape engravers formed by him were masters of the genre. We have mentioned Balechou and Vivarès. The former, at first a pupil of Lépicié, began by engraving portraits, the best known of which, a full-length of Augustus III., King of Poland, brought upon its author the shame of a fitting punishment. Convicted of having detained a certain number of the first proofs for his own profit; Balechou was struck off the list of the Académie, and obliged to retire to Arles, his native town, and thence to Avignon, where he took to landscape engraving. There it was that he executed after Joseph Vernet his "Baigneuses," his "Calme," and his "La Tempête." In his latter years he returned to history, and executed after Carle Vanloo his tiresome "Sainte Geneviève," which was once so loudly vaunted, which even now is not unadmired, and which really might be a masterpiece, if technical skill and excessive231 ease of handling were all the art. Though, unlike Vivarès, he did not teach the practice of landscape in England, Balechou contributed enormously by his works to the education of the English engravers; and the best of them, Woollett, confessed that he produced his "Fishing" with a proof of the Frenchman's "La Tempête" always before his eyes.

As for Vivarès, he engraved in Paris a number of plates after Joseph Vernet and the Old Masters, and then, preceding De Loutherbourg and many others of his nation, he migrated to London. He took with him a new art, as Hollar had done a century before, and founded that school of landscape engravers whose talents were destined to constitute, even to our own time, the chief glory of English engraving.

But before his pupils and imitators could take possession after him of this vast domain, engraving in England had developed considerably, in another direction, under the influence of two distinguished artists, Hogarth and Reynolds, born at an interval of twenty-five years from one another. The son of a printer's reader, who apprenticed him to a goldsmith, William Hogarth spent almost all his youth in obscurity and poverty. At twenty he was engraving business cards for London tradesmen; some years later he was sign-painting, and was wearing himself out in work entirely unworthy of him, when he forced the attention of the public by the publication of a satirical print, the heroes of which were well known and easily recognised. His success being presently confirmed by other compositions of the same sort232 he profited by the fact to apply his talent to more serious work. He soon acquired a reputation, enriched himself by marrying the daughter of Sir James Thornhill, the king's painter, and remained till his death (1764) one of the most eminent men of his country.

Both as painter and engraver Hogarth was a deep student of art, on which he has left some commendable writings; but he never succeeded in fulfilling all its conditions. Extravagantly pre-occupied with the philosophical significance with which he purposes to endow his work, he does not always see when he has gone far enough in the exposition of his idea: he darkens it with commentary; he becomes unintelligible by sheer insistence on intelligibility. There are allegories of his in which, still striving after ingenuity, he has piled detail upon detail till the result is confusion worse confounded.

But when no excess of analysis has decomposed his primary idea to nothingness, by directing the attention elsewhere, Hogarth strikes home, and compasses most powerful effects. His series of prints, in which are storied the actions of one or more persons—his "Marriage à la Mode," his "Rake's Progress," his "Harlot's Progress," his "Industry and Idleness"—the last a sort of double biography representing the different lives of two apprentices, one of whom becomes Lord Mayor of London, whilst the other dies at Tyburn—all these engraved by himself, partly in etching and partly in line, are, as regards the execution, by no means irreproachable; are frequently, indeed, not even233 good: but in expression and gesture they are nearly always of startling truth, while the moral meaning, the innermost spirit of every scene, is felt and rendered with the keenest sagacity. At the very time when the genius of Richardson was working a like revolution in literature, Hogarth—and herein lies his chief merit—was introducing domestic drama into art. In England and elsewhere the painter-engraver and the novelist, both creators of the style in which they worked, have had a crowd of imitators; but they cannot be said to have met with rivals anywhere.

The genius of Sir Joshua Reynolds is of a totally different order. In the sense of consisting in the sentiment of effect and the masterly arrangement of tones it is essentially picturesque, and presents such a boldness of character as engravers could easily appreciate and reproduce. There is no far-fetched significance, no accessories tending to destroy the unity of the whole. On the contrary, the work proceeds by synthesis; it is all largely schemed, and built up in masses where the details are scarcely indicated. The expression lies not so much in niceties of physiognomy as in the whole attitude of the sitters and the characteristic pose and contour of the faces represented. The painter's imagination is brilliant rather than delicate; sometimes, indeed, it degenerates into bad taste and eccentricity. But far more frequently it gives his attitudes an air of ease and originality, and the general aspect of his portraits breathes a perfect dignity. The vigorous contrasts, the freedom and wealth of colour234 which are their primary characteristics, as they are those of Gainsborough's work likewise, are qualities to whose translation the free and flowing stroke of the graver is hardly fitted, but which mezzotint would naturally render with ease and success. And, as we have said before, it is to the influence of the famous painter that must be attributed the immense extension of the latter process in England during the latter part of the eighteenth century.

The landscape and mezzotint engravers began, therefore, to vitalise the English school: the former especially lent it real importance by their talent. From 1760 or thereabouts Woollett published, after Richard Wilson or after Claude, those admirable works which, on account of their suave harmony of effect, their transparency of atmosphere, and their variableness of colour, are less like engravings than pictures.45 Shortly afterwards he completed his fame by work of another sort: the reproduction, first, of West's "Death of Wolfe," and then of his "Battle of La Hogue," the American's best picture, and the finest historical plate ever engraved in England. Lastly about the same time, Robert Strange, a pupil of Philippe Le Bas, engraved in line, after Correggio and235 Van Dyck, the "Saint Jerome" and the "Charles I.;" as well as other prints after these masters, which are236 quite as charming, and should, indeed, be unreservedly admired if the correctness of their drawing were only equal to their elegance of modelling and flexibility of tone.


Landscape. After G. Smith.

So much progress accomplished in so few years attracted the attention of statesmen and of the English Government. They saw it was time to cease from paying tribute to the superiority of French engravers, and to allow those talents to develop in London which had till then been sent to school in Paris. George III. had just founded the Royal Academy (Jan., 1769), with Reynolds for its first President. He determined still further to strengthen the impulse of art by countenancing great undertakings in engraving; and as he wished the country to reap as much commercial benefit as honour in the matter, he granted bounties on the exportation of English engravings, while the importation of French work was taxed with enormous duties.

In this way the progress of national art became a political question, and every one hastened to second the king's views. Woollett's plates had been largely subscribed for before publication, and the illustrated editions of the travels of Cook and Sir Joseph Banks were taken up in a few days. Finally, when it was proposed to engrave Copley's "Death of Chatham," the subscription at once ran up to £3,600; and when, the first proofs having been taken, the plate was returned to the engraver, he made almost as much more in less than two years. Nor did the fever of protection in any wise abate for that. On the contrary, it called a237 number of talents into being, and attracted to London a crowd of foreigners, all sure of the encouragement which began to fail them elsewhere. Cipriani, Angelica Kauffmann, Catherine Prestel, the Swiss Moser and his daughter, and a hundred other painters or engravers, came in one after another to contribute to the success of the school and the spread of English trade.46

Amongst these adventurers there was one—the Florentine Bartolozzi—whose works at once became the fashion, less, perhaps, for any intrinsic merit than because of the novelty of his method. The process called "stipple engraving" excluded the use of lines and cross hatchings, and consisted in the arrangement of masses of dots more or less delicate in themselves, and more or less close in order, and designed in proportion to their relative distance or nearness, to render nice gradations of tone, depth of shadow, and even completeness of outline.

Speaking exactly, this was but an application to the general execution of a work of a process adopted long before by etchers and line engravers as a means of partial execution. Jean Morin, Boulanger, Gérard Audran himself, and many others, had habitually made use of dots to supplement the work238 of the burin or the needle, or to effect transitions between their lights and shadows, or the larger of their outlines and subtler details of their modelling. Moreover, before their time, Jan Lutma, a Dutch goldsmith, invented a method of "engraving in dots," which, produced by means of his etching needle and aquafortis, were deepened and enlarged with chisel and hammer: whence the name of opus mallei bestowed on his results. Bartolozzi, therefore, and the English engravers who, like Ryland, made use of stippling, did but revive and extend in their own way the boundaries of a method already known. They displayed remarkable skill, it is true, but their work, like the rest of its kind, displays a feebleness of form that is almost inevitable, and is touched with a coldness inherent in the very nature of the process.

In stipple engraving, the burin and the dry point are used alternately, according to the degree of vigour or delicacy required. The parts that are to come light in proof are done with the dry-point; while those to come dark are covered with dots ploughed deeper with the burin. Round the edge of these, by the mere act of ploughing, there is raised a rim, or rampart—technically called a "burr"—which the engraver, to regain the ground thus lost, has to rub down with the burnisher. In this way he goes on dotting and burnishing till he gets a close enough grain.

Immensely successful during the last years of the eighteenth century, stipple engraving soon went out of fashion, not only in France, where it scarce239 survived the first attempts of Copia, but even in England, where the example of Bartolozzi and Ryland had been followed with such eager diligence. Such, too, somewhat later, was the fate of a somewhat similar process—the "crayon engraving," of which Gilles Demarteau, born in Liège, but bred and trained in Paris, may be considered, if not the inventor, at least the most active, skilful, and popular practitioner.47

The object of crayon engraving is to imitate the effect of red or black chalk on a coarse-grained paper, which, by the very roughness of its surface, retains no more than an uneven, and as it were a disconnected, impression of the strokes or hatchings laid upon it. In common with stipple engraving, it renders the loose and broken lines of the originals by substituting a mass of dots for the ordinary work of the burin or the needle. It differs, however, from stipple engraving in the method of working, and even in the nature of the tools employed. The outlines are traced on the varnished copper with a toothed or multi-pointed needle, while the inner hatchings are made either with the needle in question, or with what is called a roulette, which is a steel cylinder bristling with small, jagged teeth, and running on a fixed axis. The roulette, which is provided with a handle, is so240 directed that the teeth are brought to bear directly, and with more or less effect, on the varnished copper. Then the plate is bitten in; and when the aquafortis has done its part, the work, if necessary, is resumed with the same tools on the bare metal.

The first specimens of crayon engraving were presented in 1757 to the Académie Royale de Peinture, which, an official document informs us48 "highly approved of the method, as being well fitted to perpetuate the designs of good masters, and multiply copies of the best styles of drawings." For the reproduction of drawings, the new process was certainly better than etching, at least as practised to that end by the Count de Caylus and the Abbé de Saint-Non. The misfortune was, that in the eighteenth century as in the first years of the nineteenth, the crayon engravers appear to have thought far less of "perpetuating the designs of good masters" than of suiting their choice of originals to the prevailing fashion. As a matter of fact, however skilful they were in execution, the only cause served by Demarteau's innumerable fac-similes was that of the Bouchers and Fragonards, and of kindred experts in "the most distinguished school of drawing." Reproduced by engraving, the crayon studies of these persons became the ordinary means of instruction in academies and public schools; and from the first the popularity of these wretched models was such that, even after the241 revolution effected in art by David, on through the Empire, and as late as the Restoration, art students generally remained subject to the regimen adopted for their predecessors in the days of Louis XV. and XVI.

Then lithography made its appearance, and in no great while was applied to the production of drawing-copies, once the monopoly of crayon engraving. Nor was this the only quarter from which the method of François and Demarteau was assailed. By degrees it fell out of use for the production not only of drawing-copies, but of fac-similes of drawings by the masters for artists and amateurs; or, if occasionally practised, it was—as in the subjects engraved some thirty years back from drawings in the Louvre and the Musée de Lille—with so many modifications, and in combination with such a number of other processes, as reduced it from supremacy to the rank, till worse should befall, of a mere auxiliary. In our own time it has had its death-blow in the advance of photography; and as, after all, its one object was the presentation of an exact likeness, the absolute effigy, of its original, the preference of a purely mechanical process of reproduction is, if we consider the certainty of the results, no more than natural. In proportion as, by its very nature, photography is powerless to take the place of engraving, when the work to be reproduced, be it picture or mural decoration, presupposes in the interpreter, in whatsoever degree, the power of translating what is before him, just so far is it capable of fulfilling the one condition imposed upon the copyist of a242 drawing or an engraving—that of perfect fidelity in imitation.

The object attempted by François, Demarteau, Bonnet, and others—the production by engraving of a sort of optical illusion, the exact fac-simile of a drawing—had been started before them by Jean Christophe Leblond, an artist born of French parents at Frankfort, who, moreover, had sought to extend to the imitation of colour what his successors were content to restrict to the imitation of monochrome. Very early in the eighteenth century, Leblond succeeded in producing prints in several tints, by a method which he called "pastel engraving," and to which custom has given the more general name of "colour engraving." For the second half of this title, it might, perhaps, have been better to use the word "printing." What is called "colour engraving" is not really a special engraving process. Its whole originality consists in the production of a single proof from several plates (generally four), in the preparation of which the rocker, the roulette, and sometimes even the burin, have been used. From these plates, each inked with a single colour, the effect of which is relieved or modified by the subsequent addition of those tints with which the other three are covered, there results in the proof, by the use of points of correspondence, an ensemble in colour which is similar in appearance to that of painting in pastel, in water-colour, or in gouache. This was pretty much the process, and the results were in some sort comparable with those obtained by chromo-lithography. The older method243 had, however, the advantage of the other in that, by the very variety of the preparation to which the plate was subjected, its results were not so liable to present the appearance, either coarse or dull, of common hand-tinted work.

Some of Leblond's engravings, particularly a large, half-length "Louis XV.," enable us to estimate to the full the capacities of his invention. Leblond, indeed, must be counted an inventor, inasmuch as it was his to discover a secret which, before him, had been only dimly foreseen, or at most half-guessed. Still, the essays in the first years of the seventeenth century of the Dutchman Lastmann, and a little later of Seghers the Fleming, should not be completely overlooked; nor would it be just to refuse recognition to the practical improvements made in colour engraving, after Leblond, by Gautier Dagoty, in Paris, and by Taylor, in London. In proportion to the relative importance of the two discoveries, Leblond played the same part in the history of the colour process as Daguerre in the history of heliography. They each effected so great an advance as to close the period of groping and darkness, and to some extent determine the course of progress. But it does not follow, therefore, that they owed nothing to the attempts of their predecessors; and if their claim to inventors' honours is fairly established, it is because they solved a problem they were by no means the first to attack.

Leblond, indeed, got nothing from his discovery but the honour of making it. He sought in vain to turn it to account in London, and succeeded no244 better in Paris. In the latter city he lived for some years in great distress, and in 1741 he died there, in the hospital.

Some years after the invention of colour engraving, another sort of engraving, or rather another sort of pictorial reproduction, the method called "au lavis," was invented, and very skilfully used from the outset, by Jean Baptiste Leprince; and in no great while the series of innovations in the practice of the art, from the end of the seventeenth century, was completed by the invention of aquatint.

The first of these two processes is apparently of extreme simplicity. The line once engraved and bitten in, as in ordinary etching, it only consisted in brushing the plate with acid, as a draughtsman washes in on paper with sepia or Indian ink. The preliminary work, however, required a great deal of care and skill, and even a certain amount of scientific knowledge. The particular quality of the copper, the composition of the varnishes and acids, and many other conditions impossible to discuss in detail, made the new process somewhat difficult of employment; and before long the ardour of those practitioners who had essayed to imitate Leprince's results was very sensibly diminished.

In spite of the value of these results, and the personal skill of the inventor; in spite, too, of the technical explanations contained in the "Plan du Traité de la Gravure au Lavis" presented by him (1750) to the Académie Royale, it was evident that the French engravers thought lightly of Leprince's245 discovery, and did not care to investigate its capabilities. It only got a fresh start in France when, notably modified and improved by the initiative of foreign engravers, it had been transformed in London into what is known as aquatint engraving. Then, however, in the hands of Debucourt49 and of Jazet later on, it acquired a popularity all the greater that its productions, by their very nature and quality, were more intimately in harmony with the inspiration and style of fashionable art. Jazet, for instance, contributed greatly to the triumph of aquatint in France, by applying it, from the first years of the Restoration, to the interpretation of the works of Horace Vernet. Such plates as "Le Bivouac du Colonel Moncey," the "Barrière de Clichy," the "Soldat Laboureur," and many others, were tolerated among Frenchmen for the sake of the associations they awakened at least as much as for their artistic merit.

It is possible that since then the engraver has reckoned a little too much on the world-wide reputation of his painter; or it may be that he has been somewhat too conscious of the advantages of a rapid and facile method, and has sacrificed the ideal of delicacy and correctness to the enhancement of246 a reputation for fertility. Certain it is that Jazet, as is proved by his early engravings, and especially the "Barrière de Clichy," was more capable than any one else of raising work in aquatint to the level of art; and it is much to be regretted that his somewhat careless ease should have hindered the full development of his talent. It is still more to be regretted that, in spite of the laudable efforts of Messrs. Prévost, Girard, and others to maintain the process in the better way, it should have been dishonoured and deprived of all but a purely commercial importance by the production of multitudes of plates, whose only merit is their cheapness. If we consider the so-called Biblical scenes done in aquatint for exportation, the heroines of romance, the half-naked women described (by way of commentary) as "Love," "Souvenir," "Pleasure," "Desire," and all the terms of the erotic vocabulary, it is hard to say whether the intention or the execution is the more unpleasant. What is certain is that such things have nothing to do with art except as examples of its degradation and destruction. That section of the public sensible of their charm is certainly not that which is impressed by beauty, and it is useless to care about winning its approbation; but when ugliness is everywhere it is to be feared that everybody may grow used to the sight, and forget to look elsewhere. The danger to which pure line engraving is thus exposed by the deplorable exigencies of competition is not the only one which threatens the art. A glance at its several phases since 1800 and at its present247 state is enough to show that the line of talents has never once been interrupted; that those of to-day are every whit as vigorous and accomplished as those of the past; but that for opportunities of displaying their full power, and being appreciated at their true worth they have not seldom to wait in vain.




At the beginning of the nineteenth century some of the most celebrated artists of the French school of painting belonged, by the nature of their talent as well as by the date of their chief successes, to the ante-revolutionary period. Greuze, Fragonard, Moreau, Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, Vien even, notwithstanding his intentions of reform, Regnault and Vincent, in spite of their influence as professors on the new generation—all seemed rather to recall the past than to herald the future. One man, Louis David, personified the progress of the epoch. His pictures, "Les Horaces," and the "Brutus," had appeared some years before, and the approaching exhibition of "Les Sabines" was impatiently expected. At this time the younger artists and the public unanimously regarded David as the regenerator of national art and a master justly supreme. Architecture, painting, furniture, even fashion in dress, were all subjected to his absolute sway; everything was done in imitation of the antique, as understood and interpreted by him. Under the pretexts of pure beauty and a chaste style, nothing but a soulless body, a sort of coloured statue, was represented on canvas; while sculpture became no249 more than an imitation of Greek or Roman statuary. Since Lebrun, indeed, no single influence had so completely tyrannised over French taste.

Engraving, though fated like the other arts to accept the dictatorship of David, was at any rate the first to throw off his yoke. Before the Restoration, whilst the painter of Marat, then painter to the Emperor, was still in the fulness of his power, the great Italians, whose pictures crowded the Louvre, had already been interpreted with more respect for the memory of the old manner than submission to the requirements of the newer style.

The most talented of these new artists, Boucher-Desnoyers, when working at his "Belle Jardinière," after Raphael, or his "Vierge aux Rochers," after Leonardo, probably thought much less of contemporary work than of the French engravers of the seventeenth century; while on their part Bervic and Tardieu, who had long before given proof of their power, faithfully maintained the great traditions: the one in an austerity of execution and a firmness of touch hereditary in his family, the other in his scientific ease of handling. These three were of the race of the older masters, and their work, unjustly forgotten some years later during the rage for the English manner, deserves a better fate than to be confounded with the cold and formal prints published in the France of the First Empire. The engravings after David, by popularising his work, obtained some success in their day, but have failed to secure a lasting reputation. The fault, however, is not altogether with250 the engravers: in spite of the apparent conscientiousness of the painter, his real indecision of method must count for something in the mediocre achievements of his interpreters.

Free to impose his own system on all other artists, David might have enforced his artistic authority on his contemporaries; and even if it were beyond his power to restore the French school of engraving, he might at least have regenerated its principles, and, combining separate efforts under the synthesis of his own personal conception, have breathed into it a fresh spirit of unity. This he never attempted; and it is even hard to guess at what he expected from his engravers. It might be supposed that his own fondness for precision of form would have led him to require from them insistence as to the drawing, and not much attention to colour and effect; yet most of the prints after his pictures—amongst others those by Morel and Massard—are heavy in tone and feeble in drawing. There is in them no trace either of the precise manner of David, or of the large method of the old school; it is therefore not in these commonplace works, and still less in the barren engravings composing the great "Commission d'Égypte," that we must look for signs of such talent as then existed in France.


The Earl of Arundel. After Van Dyck.

The few painters who, like Regnault, were more or less independent of David's influence, or, like Prud'hon, had ventured to create an entirely original method, were admired by so small a public that their pictures were not generally reproduced in engraving251 and thus could do little for the progress of the art. Some, however, of Prud'hon's drawings and pictures252 met, under the Directory and the Empire, with excellent interpreters in Copia and in Barthélemy Roger; while in the last years of the eighteenth century Bervic's engraving of Regnault's "Éducation d'Achille" had obtained at least as much success as the original had won in the Salon of 1783. To give a companion to this justly celebrated piece, Bervic soon after published his "Enlèvement de Déjanire," after Guido. This work, to which the judges of the Decennial Competition awarded the prize in preference to any engraving published in France from 1800 to 1810, by confirming the engraver's reputation, caused his fellow-craftsmen to return once more to the old path of progress.

It must not, however, be supposed that Bervic did not himself diverge somewhat from the way of the masters: it may even be said that he was always more inclined to skirt it than to follow it resolutely. At the outset he was not sufficiently alive to the perils of facility; and later on he was apt to attach too much importance to certain quite material qualities. Yet it must be added that he never went so far as to entirely sacrifice essentials to accessories, and that more than once—in his fine full-length of Louis XVI. for instance—he displayed an ability all the more laudable as the original was by no means inspiring.

Fig. 95.BERVIC.

"L'Éducation d'Achille." After Regnault.

From the engraving it is hard to suspect the mediocrity of Callet's picture. This, now at Versailles, is insipidly coloured and loosely and clumsily drawn; the print, on the contrary, is to be admired for its 254solid appearance, and its easy yet unostentatious handling. Lace, satin, velvet, all accessories, indeed, are treated with a largeness of touch by no means at variance with delicacy, and the general tone is harmoniously luminous. Here and there, however, is already visible a certain artifice of manner which threatens to degenerate into an unwise cultivation of fine line, and end in an abuse of skill. This, indeed, is what happened. Bervic, henceforth, thought of little else but dexterity, and ended in his "Laocoon," perhaps the best known of all his works, by a display of common technical fireworks, to a certain extent surprising, but by no means to be unreservedly admired. The care with which he set himself to imitate the grain of marble by minute workmanship is only trifling with his subject; and though a group of statues cannot be treated in the same way as figures painted on canvas, it was more important, and more desirable in every respect, to reproduce the character and style of the original than to imitate the substance in which it was wrought.

Moreover, in the attempt so to interpret his model, Bervic has defeated his own purpose. By a multitude of details, and an abuse of half-lights intended to bring out the slightest accidents of form and modelling, he has only succeeded in depriving the general aspect of brilliancy and unity.

Far removed, indeed, was such a method from that of the Old Masters, and Bervic lived long enough to change his mind. "I have missed the truth," he declared in his old age, "and if I could begin life again255 I should do nothing I have done." There he wronged himself. As happens often in tardy repentances, he remembered past errors only to exaggerate them; but we must be juster to the engraver of the "Louis XVI." and "L'Éducation d'Achille" than he was to himself, and not forget that much of his work should be excluded from the sweeping condemnation which he launched upon the whole.

Whilst Bervic was counted the greatest French engraver, Italy boasted of a man, his inferior in reality, but whom, in the existing dearth of talent, his countrymen agreed to thrust into the glorious eminence of a master. Like Canova, his senior by a few years only, Raphael Morghen had the good fortune to be born at the right time. Both second-rate artists, they would have passed almost unnoticed in a more favoured century; as it was, in the absence of contemporary rivals, their compatriots accepted their accidental superiority as a proof of absolute merit. Moreover, by merely submitting in some sort to the dictates of opinion and of public taste, their popularity and success were easily assured. The writings of Winckelmann and Raphael Mengs had brought antique statues and Italian pictures of the sixteenth century once more into favour; so that Canova, by imitating the former more or less cleverly, and Morghen by engraving the latter, could neither of them fail to please, and it is especially to their choice of subjects that we must attribute the great reputation they both enjoyed.

Morghen, the pupil and son-in-law of Volpato, whose256 weak engravings from the "Stanze," in the Vatican, are known to every one, shared with that feeble artist, and with Longhi, the privilege of reproducing admirable paintings, which had either never been engraved, or not since the time of the masters. This alone gives a certain value to his plates, faulty as they are. Assuredly, for instance, the engraving of Leonardo's "Last Supper" reproduces no more than the general lines of the composition and the attitude of the figures. We look at it as we might listen to an inferior actor reading verses from "Polyeucte" or "Athalie," because the inspiration of the master is still to be felt, in spite of the intermediary of expression; only the sort of beauty inherent in the conception and arrangement of the original remains in this piece of Morghen's. What can be said of the head of the Saviour, like those of the Apostles, restored by the engraver, and unillumined by the faintest glimmer of sentiment? How is it possible, examining the work in detail, not to be offended by the arrogance of the technique and the display of mere mechanical facility, when one remembers the incomparable accuracy of Leonardo and his perfection of style?

But in thus substituting his own manner, and the caprices of his individual taste, for the manner and the taste of the painter of "The Last Supper," Morghen only treated this great master as he was in the habit of treating others. Whether it was his lot to interpret Raphael or Poussin, Andrea del Sarto or Correggio, he had but one uniform257 method for the most conflicting types; and to his tricks of hand he subjected, without remorse, the inspired grace or the noble energy of whatever he copied. Once, however, it was given him to entertain higher aspirations, and to study more conscientiously the particular characteristics of the work he was to reproduce. It would be impossible without deliberate injustice to avoid recognising merit in his plate from Van Dyck's "Francesco de Moncada," as much on the score of intelligent fidelity as of skilful execution. But, for his other works, could one, without equal injustice, condone the inadequacy of expression and drawing, the systematic contempt of all effort, the many evidences of vain and self-confident ease which refuses to be humbled even in the presence of genius?

Morghen preserved till the end the brilliant reputation which his extreme fertility and the complacent patriotism of the Italians had won for him at the outset. Born in Naples, he settled in Florence, whither he had been allured by the Grand Duke Ferdinand III., and where he remained during the French occupation, and, much less resentful than Alfieri, repulsed neither the homage nor the favour of the foreigner. On the return of the Grand Duke, his old protector, he was still less ready to yield to the Neapolitans, who coveted the honour of recalling the renowned artist to his native country. When at length he died in 1833, all Italy was stirred at the news, and innumerable sonnets, the usual expression of public regret or enthusiasm, celebrated "the258 undying glory of the illustrious engraver of 'The Last Supper.'"

Johann Godard Müller, who early in life had had nearly as widespread a recognition in Germany as Morghen in Italy, departed this world in lonely misery three years before the Neapolitan. Beyond the walls of Stuttgart, scarce any one remembered the existence or the brief renown of the engraver of the "Madonna della Sedia" and the "Battle of Bunker's Hill." For he had long ceased to trouble about his work or his reputation, and lived only to mourn a son, who in 1816 died at the very time when, in his turn, he was about to become one of the most distinguished engravers of his country.

From childhood this son, Christian Frederick Müller, had been devoted to his father's art. His first attempts were successful enough to warrant his early admittance to the school of engraving recently founded at Stuttgart by Duke Charles of Wurtemberg. We have seen that during the second half of the eighteenth century many German engravers came to Paris for training, and that many remained there. Expelled from France, their adopted country, by the Revolution, they returned to Germany, and the institution of a school of engraving in Stuttgart was one result of their expulsion. But by 1802 many of the fugitives were already back in Paris, and the studios, closed for ten years, once more opened their doors to numerous pupils. Frederick Müller, then barely twenty, followed his father's example, and in his turn went to perfect himself under French masters.

259 Commended to the good offices of Wille, then past eighty, who felt it an honour to have taught Johann Godard Müller, and introduced by him, the young man was soon in relation with Bervic, Tardieu, and Desnoyers; and without constituting himself a thorough-going imitator of these fine craftsmen, he yet borrowed enough from them to be considered, if not their rival, at least one of their most faithful disciples. The plates he engraved for the "Musée Français," published by Laurent and Robillard50 show laudable submission to the principles of the masters and an already sound experience of art; but it is in the "Madonna di San Sisto," in which he seems to have arrived at maturity, that his talent may be fully measured. Before undertaking this plate, the young engraver went to Italy to study other work by the "Divine Painter," and to prepare himself for the interpretation of the picture in the Dresden Gallery by drawing from the Vatican frescoes. On his return to Germany, he at once applied himself to the task, and pursued it with such ardour that, towards the end of 1815, that is in three years, he had brought it to an end. The "Madonna di San Sisto" deserves to rank with the finest line engravings of the beginning of the century. It has long been popular; but renown came too slowly for the engraver, and unhappily he lacked the patience to await its coming.

260 When Müller had finished his work, he determined to publish it himself, hoping to gain not only honour but legitimate profit. He was exhausted by hard work, but he trusted to meet with the reward which he felt to be due to such continual effort, and to meet with it at once. Time passed, however, and the young engraver, a prey to feverish anxiety, began to rail at the indifference of his contemporaries. He had soon to make arrangements with a publisher, that the fruit of his labours might not be altogether lost. Several amateurs then bought proofs, but there was as yet no general popularity for a print the appearance of which, in the expectation of its author, should have had all the importance of a public event. So many disappointments completed the ruin of his health, and at last affected his reason. In a paroxysm of excitement, Müller stabbed himself with a burnisher. Shortly after his "Sistine Madonna" obtained that great success which the poor artist had fondly anticipated. The publisher grew rich upon the proofs; and the name of the young engraver who had made too great haste to sell them was with justice acclaimed throughout Europe.

The works of Bervic, of Desnoyers, of Morghen and of Müller, may be said to represent the state of engraving in France, in Italy, and in Germany during the early years of the nineteenth century. They show that at that time the three schools professed the same doctrines, or, at least, followed the same masters; but this seeming conformity was not destined to be of long duration. The principles of art were soon261 modified by the influence of new ideas, and the German engravers (taking the lead in this change of aim) entered the path which they are still following.

At the time of Müller's death, the influence of Goethe and Schiller on German literature had begun to extend to the pictorial arts. Passionate study of the Middle Ages took the place of the worship of antiquity, and whilst the classical dictionary was still the only gospel for French painters, those beyond the Rhine were already drinking inspiration from Christian tradition and national legend. This was a happy reaction in so far as it reinvested art with that ethereal character which is indispensable to its higher developments; but, on the other hand, rapidly degenerating into mere archæology, the movement ended by oppressing and imprisoning talent under invariable formulas. A few years sufficed to reduce German art to such a condition that asceticism became the established rule. Since then Overbeck, Cornelius, and Kaulbach have added the weight of their authority and example, and continued and perfected the tradition of their forerunners; and this reformation has been as thorough in Germany as the far different revolution accomplished by David in France.

The German painters having thus laid aside a part of their material resources, the German engravers have been obliged to confine themselves to a translation of the ideal sentiment of their originals. In this task it must be allowed they have perfectly succeeded. They reproduce with singular completeness262 that generative thought, and religious, philosophical, or literary imagination, which, far more than any pictorial idea, inspires the German painter.

Strictly speaking, they do not produce engravings: that is, they do not produce works in which the burin has sought to render the value of tone, colour, chiaroscuro, or any constituent of a picture save composition and drawing; they are satisfied to cut in the copper, with a precision frequently approaching dryness, the outlines of simple forms; while, by way of concession to the true pictorial spirit, they think it enough to throw in here and there a few suggestions of modelling and light masses of shadow. Among the numerous specimens of this extreme reticence of execution, it is sufficient to mention the "Apostolical Scenes" engraved, after Overbeck, by Franz Keller, Ludy, and Steinfensand; the plates after Cornelius, published at Carlsruhe and Munich, by Schäffer, Merz, and others; and lastly, Thaeter's big "Battle of the Huns," after Kaulbach.

Although subdivided into smaller classes, the modern German school is composed—at least, in so far as historical painting and engraving are concerned—of a group of kindred talents, inspired by abstract reflection rather than the study of reality. Nevertheless this main idea has not everywhere been carried out with the same logical rigour. The Düsseldorf engravers, for instance, have not always confined themselves, like those of Munich, to the representation of figures and their accessories, as mere silhouettes, strengthened, if at all, by the palest of shadows. Even263 more elastic principles have prevailed elsewhere. Felsing of Darmstadt, Mendel of Berlin, and Steinla of Dresden, have proved by their engravings after Fra Bartolommeo, Raphael, and Holbein, that they have no notion of denying themselves any of the methods used by the masters of engraving for imitating in the highest perfection the relief and life of objects figured on canvas. But these and other efforts must be considered exceptional. As we have said, the dominant tendency of German art since the reform is rather towards deliberate, even systematic, conception than spontaneous expression of sentiment: it is, in fact, the mortification of the eye for the intelligence. In a word, German engravers trust too much to logic and analysis, and too little to their senses. It is only natural that they should. The qualities lacking in their works are also lacking in the pictures and drawings from which these are engraved. Still, their main principle once admitted, we must allow that it could not well be pushed to a more logical conclusion. In Germany, separate and independent talents do not exist, as in Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, and Russia. The end is the same for all, and is obtained by all in nearly the same degree. In England, also, engraving, considered as a whole, presents an incontestable unity; nevertheless, the difference between the schools is great. A trifle hypochondriacal by dint of privations and penance, German art is sustained by a feverish faith which lends to it the animation of life; while in spite of its flourishing looks, English art is really decayed in264 constitution. Its health is only apparent, and the least study of its vital sources compels the recognition of its frailty.

It has frequently been said that the arts are the expression of the moral tendency of a people. This is doubtless true; at all events, it is true of those people for whom the arts have always been a necessity—of Greece and Italy, for example, where they have been as it were endemic. Where, however, art has been diffused by contagion—as an epidemic—it may remain quite distinct from national tendencies, or only represent a part of them, or even suggest the presence of quite antagonistic influences. Strictly speaking, a school of painting has only existed in England since the eighteenth century; surely its characteristics, past and present, are in nowise a spontaneous expression of national feeling? Are all its most important achievements—the portraits of Reynolds, Gainsborough, Lawrence, and the landscapes of Turner—inspired by that practical wisdom, that spirit of order and love of exactness in everything, which characterise the English equally in private and in public life? On the contrary, the quest of spurious brilliancy and effect, exaggerated at the expense of accurate form and precision of style, is the one tradition of the English school of painting; and in spite of the inventive and tasteful work produced in the first half of the century by artists like Wilkie, Smirke, and Mulready, as of the more recent efforts of the Pre-Raphaelites, it would seem as if the school were neither able nor willing to change.

265 The æsthetic formula accepted and used, from one generation to another, by the English painters has influenced—and, perhaps naturally, with still more authority—their compatriots the engravers. Just now English engraving seems careless of further effort. It is as though its innumerable products had nothing whatever to reveal to those who buy them, and were bought from habit, and not from taste.

It has been seen that George III. did his utmost to encourage line engraving, and that the exportation of prints soon became a source of revenue. How could the country neglect those wares which abroad were made so heartily welcome? The aristocracy set the example. Men of high social position thought it their duty to subscribe to important publications. In imitation, or from patriotism, the middle class in their turn sought to favour the growth of engraving; and when, some years later, it became the fashion to illustrate "Keepsakes" and "Books of Beauty" with steel engravings, their cheapness put them within everybody's reach. People gradually took to having prints in their houses, just as they harboured superfluities of other kinds; and, the custom becoming more and more general, engravers could be almost certain of the sale of any sort of work. This is still the case. In London, every new print may reckon on a certain number of subscribers. Hence the facility of production, and the constant mechanical improvements tending to shorten the work; hence, too, unfortunately, the family likeness and purely conventional charm of the English prints of the last half-century.

266 A glance at any recent aquatints and mezzotints or into a new book of etchings, discovers nothing one does not seem to have seen a hundred times before. There are the eternal conflicts of light and darkness, the eternal contrasts between velvety and pearly textures. In its needless formality, this trickery resembles that of uninspired and styleless singers. A brief piano passage is followed by a crashing forte; the whole thing consists in abruptness of contrast, and depends for success entirely upon surprise. In both cases this element is soon exhausted by too frequent use. The novelty of their appearance might at first impart a certain charm to English engravings; but the unending repetition of the same effect has destroyed their principal merit, and it is difficult to regard them with attention or interest.

It would be unjust, however, to confine ourselves to the consideration of the abuse of general methods, and to say nothing of individual talents. England has produced some remarkable engravers since those in mezzotint formed by Reynolds and the landscape artists who were Woollett's pupils. Abraham Raimbach, for instance, was a fine workman, and a better draughtsman than most of his compatriots; his plates after Wilkie's "Blind Man's Buff," "The Rent-Day," and "The Village Politicians," deserve to be classed amongst the most agreeable works of modern engraving. Samuel William Reynolds, in his portraits after many English painters, and his plates from Géricault, Horace Vernet, and Paul Delaroche, and Samuel Cousins, in his engravings of267 Lawrence's "Master Lambton," "Pius VII.," and "Lady Gower and her Son," have succeeded in getting a good deal more from mezzotint than the eighteenth century masters.

In spite of the dissimilarity of their talents, Raimbach and Cousins may yet be compared as the last English engravers who attempted to invest their work with a character in conformity with the strict conditions of the art. Since them the London craftsmen have practised more or less skilfully an almost mechanical profession. They have only produced either the thousands of engravings, which every year proceed from the same source, or the prints that deal with still less ambitious subjects—animals, attributes of the chase, and so forth—on an absurdly large scale. They have, indeed, gone so far as to represent life-size dogs, cats, and game. There is even a certain plate, after Landseer, whose sole interest is a parrot on its perch, and which is much larger than the plates that used to be engraved from the largest compositions of the masters. To say the least, here are errors of taste not to be redeemed by improvements in the manufacture of tools, nor even by ingenious combinations of the different processes of engraving. However skilful contemporary English engravers may be in some respects, they cannot properly be said to produce works of art; because they insist on technique to an inordinate degree, and in like measure reduce almost to nothing the proportions of true art and sentiment.

One might, with still greater reason, thus explain268 the mediocrity of American prints in the present day. Few as they are, they do not rivet attention as the manifestations of an art which, young and inexperienced, is yet vital in its artlessness; on the contrary, they are depressing as the products of an art fallen into the sluggishness of old age. It is as though engraving in the United States had begun in decay—or rather, it may be, negatively, with no tendency to change, and no impulse to progress. Mostly mezzotints or aquatints, the prints sold in New York and New Orleans suggest that their authors only wished to appropriate as best they could the present fashions and methods of English engraving. As for work in line, it is almost entirely confined to the embellishment of bank notes and tradesmen's cards. Some of its professors are not without technical knowledge and a sort of skill; and if it were absolutely necessary to find a characteristic specimen of American art it should, perhaps, be sought amongst works of this sort. In any case, it is best to reserve a definitive opinion, and simply to state what American engraving is, and must be, till a master arise by whose influence and example it may be animated and renewed.

If, after considering the condition of engraving at the beginning of the present century, one should wish to become acquainted with its subsequent phases, assuredly one has to admit the pre-eminence of French talent. It may even be advanced that French engravers have maintained, and do still maintain, almost unaided the art of engraving within those limits269 from which it cannot deviate without the risk of becoming, as in Germany, a language of pure conventionality, or, as in England, the hackneyed expression of mere technical dexterity.

Without doubt, evidences of broader and more serious talent were not lacking even in that school which some years earlier seemed to have gone to decay. After Volpato and Morghen, and in opposition to their example, there were Italian engravers who worked to such purpose as to redeem the honour of the school. The plates by Toschi and his pupils, from pictures and frescoes by Correggio at Parma; Calamatta's "Vœu de Louis Treize," after Ingres; Mercuri's "Moissonneurs," after Léopold Robert, and many prints besides, either by the same artists or others of their race, assuredly deserve to rank with the most important achievements of French engraving in the first half of the nineteenth century. But the years that have lapsed since their publication, while barren for Italy, have brought a continued harvest to France. After the engravers who made their appearance in the last years of the Restoration their pupils became masters in turn; and, in spite of adverse circumstances, the indifference of a section of the public, and the increasing popularity of photography, their zeal seems no more likely to diminish than the value of their work.

Once, it is true, at the most brilliant period of English engraving, the French school was not without a moment of hesitation on the part of some, of disloyalty on that of others. During the First Empire, the existence of the art movement in London in270 the last years of the active rule of George III. and the beginning of the Regency was unsuspected in France. The cessation of commercial relations between the two countries left the French in such complete ignorance that, until 1816, the only English prints they knew were those by Strange, Ryland, and Woollett: those, in fact, published before the end of the eighteenth century. And when, after the Restoration, English work first came under the eyes of French engravers, the fascination of its novelty dazzled them more than the splendour of its merit.

Those who, like Tardieu and Desnoyers, were especially concerned with loftiness of style and masculine vigour of execution, were but little moved by such innovations, if we may judge by the nature of their subsequent publications. The "Ruth and Boaz," engraved by the former after Hersent, the divers "Madonnas" and the "Transfiguration," engraved by the latter after Raphael, do not testify that their belief in the excellence of the old French method was at all shaken. But others, either younger or less stable of conviction, were soon seduced. Like the English engravers, they attempted to unite all the different processes of engraving in their plates; and they sought, to the exclusion of all besides, the easiest way of work, piquancy of result, and prettiness everywhere, even in history. These imitations became more numerous by reason of their first success, till they threatened the independence of French engraving, which had not been encroached upon since the seventeenth century.

271 The fever, however, soon cooled. A happy reaction set in soon after 1830, and continued during the following years; and infatuation having everywhere been succeeded by reflection, the misleading qualities of the English manner were finally recognised. The French school takes counsel with none save itself, its past, and its traditions. To this just confidence in its own resources are owing its present superiority to, and independence of, other schools, and, what is more important still, its place apart from that mechanical industry which, with its spurious successes, its raids upon a territory not its own, and its pretentious efforts to occupy the place of art, would seize upon those privileges, which, do all it may, it can never hope to confiscate.

Of all the engravers who have honoured our epoch not in France alone, but also in other countries, the first in genius, as in the general influence he has exerted for nearly half a century, is certainly Henriquel—as he called himself in the early part of his career—Henriquel-Dupont in the second half. But he too, it would seem, had his hours of indecision. Perhaps, in some of his early works, certain traces may be discovered of a leaning towards the English manner, certain tendencies of doubtful orthodoxy; but, at any rate, they have never developed into manifest errors: they have, at the most, resulted in venial sins, which themselves have been abundantly atoned.


Cromwell (Etching). After Paul Delaroche.

Henriquel is a master in the widest acceptation of the word: a master, too, of the stamp of those in the272 past of whom the French have the greatest right to be proud. The masters of the seventeenth century have scarcely left us plates at once so largely and so delicately treated, as his "Hémicycle du Palais des Beaux-Arts," his "Moïse Exposé sur le Nil," and his "Strafford," after Paul Delaroche; his admirable sketch in etching of the "Pilgrims of Emmaus," after Veronese; and the portrait of M. Bertin, after Ingres; and these are but a few. We have, besides the Van Dyck, "Une Dame et sa Fille," engraved some 274years before the "Abdication de Gustave Wasa," after Hersent, and the "Marquis de Pastoret," after Paul Delaroche; the "Christ Consolateur," engraved rather later, after Scheffer; and, among less important, though certainly not less meritorious works, the portraits engraved now with the scientific ease of the burin, now with the light and delicate touch of the needle: the "Pasta," the botanist "Desfontaines," "Desenne" the draughtsman, the "Brongniart," the "Tardieu," the "Carle Vernet," the "Sauvageot," the "Scheffer," the "Mansard et Perrault," the "Mirabeau à la Tribune," the "Rathier," and, latest of all, the charming little "Père Petétot."


The Marquis de Pastoret. After Paul Delaroche.


Alexander Brongniart. After a Drawing by the Engraver.

In these—and in how many besides? for the work of the master does not fall short of ninety pieces, besides lithographs and a great deal in pastel and crayon—Henriquel proves himself not only a trained draughtsman and finished executant, but, as it were, still more a painter than any of his immediate predecessors. Bervic—whose pupil he became, after some years in the studio of Pierre Guérin—was able to teach him to overcome the practical difficulties of the art, but the influence of the engraver of the "Laocoon" and the "Déjanire" went no further than technical initiation. Even the example of Desnoyers, however instructive in some respects, was not so obediently followed by Henriquel as to cause any sacrifice of taste and natural sentiment. By the clearness of his views, as much as by the elevation of his talent, the engraver of the "Hemicycle" 276is connected with the past French school and the masters who are its chief honour; but by the particular form of expression he employs, by a something extremely unexpected in his manner and extremely personal in his acceptance of tradition, he stands to a certain extent apart from his predecessors, and may be called an innovator, though he by no means advertises any such pretension. As we have just remarked, his use of means is so versatile that he paints with the graver or the needle, where just before him others, even the most skilful—men like Laugier and Richomme—could only engrave; and the influence he has exerted—whether by direct teaching, or by his signed work—has had the effect of rejuvenating engraving in France in more than one particular, and of awakening talents, some of which, though plainly betraying their origin, have none the less a weight and an importance of their own, and deserve an honourable place in the history of contemporary art.


Alexander Tardieu. After a Drawing by Ingres.

Several of his most distinguished pupils are dead: Aristide Louis, whose "Mignon," after Scheffer, won instant popularity; Jules François, who is to be credited, among other fine plates, with a real masterpiece in the "Militaire Offrant des Pièces d'Or à une Femme," after the Terburg in the Louvre; and Rousseaux, perhaps the most gifted engraver of his generation, whose works, few as they are, are yet enough to immortalise him. Who knows, indeed, if some day the "Portrait d'Homme" from the picture in the Louvre attributed to Francia, and the "Madame de 278Sévigné" from Nanteuil's pastel, may not be sought for with the eagerness now expended on the search for the old masters of engraving?

The premature death of these accomplished craftsmen has certainly been a loss to the French school. Fortunately, however, there remain many others whose work is of a nature to uphold the ancient renown of French art, and to defy comparison with the achievement of other countries. Where, save in France could equivalents be found, for instance, of the "Coronation of the Virgin," after Giovanni da Fiesole, and the "Marriage of Saint Catherine," after Memling, by Alphonse François; of the "Antiope," by Blanchard, after Correggio; of the "Vierge de la Consolation," after Hébert, by Huot; of Danguin's "Titian's Mistress," or Bertinot's "Portement de Croix," after Lesueur; of several other plates, remarkable in different ways, and bearing the same or other names? What rivalry need Gaillard fear, in the sort of engraving of which he is really the inventor, and which he practises with such extraordinary skill? Whether he produces after Van Eyck, Ingres, or Rembrandt, such plates as the "Homme à l'Œillet," the "Œdipus," and the "Pilgrims of Emmaus," or gives us, from his own drawings or paintings, such portraits as his "Pius IX." and his "Dom Guéranger," he, in every case, arrests the mind as well as surprises the eye, by the inconceivable subtlety of his work. Even when translating the works of others he shows himself boldly original. His methods are entirely his own, and render imitation impossible279 because they are prompted by the exceptional delicacy of his perceptions; but, with all the goodwill in the world, it would be no less difficult to appropriate his keenness of sentiment or to gain an equal degree of mental insight.

In France, then, line engraving has representatives numerous enough, and above all meritorious enough, to put to rout the apprehensions of those who believe, or affect to believe, the art irretrievably injured by the success of heliography. We have only to glance at the feats accomplished in our own day in engraving of another kind, and to examine those produced in France by contemporary French etchers, to be reassured on this question also. Might we not, even, without exaggeration, apply the term renaissance to the series of advances effected in the branch of engraving formerly distinguished by Callot and by Claude Lorraine? When, since the seventeenth century, has the needle ever been handled in France by so many skilful artists, and with so keen a feeling for effect and colour? But let none mistake the drift of our praise. Of course, we do not allude here to the thousands of careless sketches scrawled on the varnish, with a freedom to be attributed to simple ignorance, far more than to real dash and spirit; nor to those would-be "works of art," for which the skill of the printer and the tricks of printing have done the most. To the dupes of such blatant trickeries they shall be left. Still, it is only just to acknowledge, in the etchings of the day, a singular familiarity with the true conditions of the process, and generally a good280 knowledge of pictorial effect, solid enough and sufficiently under control to maintain a mean between pedantry and exaggerated ease.

Many names would deserve mention, were we not confined to general indications of the progress and the movement they represent. It is, however, impossible to omit that of Jacquemart, the young master recently deceased, who, in a kind of engraving he was the first to attempt, gave proof of much ingenuity of taste and of original ability. The plates of which his "Gemmes et Joyaux de la Couronne" is composed, and his etchings of similar models—sculpture and goldsmith's work, vases and bindings, enamels and cameos—all deserve to rank with historical pieces of the highest order; even as the still-life painted by Chardin a century ago still excites the same interest, and has a right to the same attention, as the best pictures by contemporary allegorical or portrait painters.

The superiority of the French school, in whatever style, has, moreover, been recently recognised and proclaimed in public. It has not been forgotten that the jury entrusted with the awards at the International Exhibition of 1878 unanimously decreed a principal share to the engravers of France. Without injustice this share might perhaps have been even greater if the jury, chiefly composed of Frenchmen, had not thought right to take full account of the special conditions of the competition, and the readiness with which the artists of other countries had responded.


Henri III. After a Sixteenth Century Bronze.

Since then the position of art in Europe, and the relative importance of talents in different countries281 of Europe, have not changed. If, to understand the state of contemporary engraving, it be thought282 desirable to confine our attention to the present moment, there can be no doubt whatever that the most cursory examination of the works representing the different processes of engraving must justify the above observations. These we should wish briefly to recapitulate.

We have said that etching has, within the last few years, returned so much into favour, that probably at no other time have its products been more numerous, or in more general demand. This is but fair; and it is not in France only that the public taste for etched work, large and small, is justified by the talent of the artists who publish it. To quote a few names only among those to be commended, in different degrees, for their many proofs of sentiment and skill, we have Unger in Austria; Redlich and Massaloff in Russia; Gilli in Italy; and Seymour Haden in England. By their talents they assist in the reform which the French engravers began, and which they now pursue with increasing authority and exceptional technical knowledge.


Tripod, by Gouthière.

Mezzotint and aquatint have been not nearly so fortunate. The former appears to have fallen, almost everywhere, into disuse. Even in England, where, as soon as Von Siegen's invention was imported, a school was founded to cultivate its resources—in England, where, from Earlom to S. W. Reynolds and Cousins, mezzotint engravers so long excelled—it is a mere chance if a few are still to be found supporting the tradition. In other countries, France, Belgium, Germany, and Italy, mezzotint is, to speak strictly, 284scarcely practised at all. It has been replaced by aquatint, which itself, as we mentioned in a former chapter, is only used for purely commercial requirements, except by engravers of real talent in combination with the needle and the graver.

Wood engraving has made, in certain respects, considerable progress in the course of the last few years. In France and England it is producing results that not only confirm its advances, but are as the prophecy of still better things. Amongst recent prints, those of Robert, for instance, do more than promise; they realise the hopes which others only hold out. All the same, it is commonly the case with wood engravers that, clever though they be, they are apt to deceive themselves as to the special conditions of their art, and too often to forget that it is not their province to imitate the appearance of line engraving. Instead of attempting to copy the complicated results of the graver, they should rather, in accordance with the nature of the process at their disposal, be satisfied with rapid suggestions of effect and modelling and a summary imitation of form and colour. The illustrations after Holbein, by Lützelburger and other Germans of the sixteenth century, and the portraits and subjects cut on wood by Italian artists, or by Frenchmen of the same epoch, as Geofroy Tory and Salomon Bernard, are models to which the engravers of our own day would do well to conform, instead of entering, under pretext of improvements, upon attempted innovations as foreign to the true nature of the process as to its objects and real resources.

285 Though the practice of line engraving is more scientific in France than anywhere else, it has nevertheless distinguished representatives in other countries. Besides the French, the German, and the Italian engravers we have mentioned, Weber, in Switzerland; De Kaiser, in Holland; Biot and Franck, in Belgium; Jacobi, Sonnenleiter, and Klaus, in Austria, are working manfully for the cause so well supported by Henriquel and his followers. But everywhere the perseverance of zeal and talent is unfortunately insufficient to overcome the prejudices of the public, and its exaggerated confidence in the benefits of mechanical discovery.

Since the progress accomplished by science in the domain of heliographic reproduction, since the advantages with regard to material exactness that photography and the processes derived from it have offered, or seem to offer, line engraving, of all the different methods, is certainly the one that has suffered most from the supposed rivalry. A mistake, all the more to be regretted as it seems to be general, gave rise to the idea that it was all over with the art of engraving, simply because, as mere copies, its products could not have the infallible fidelity of photographic images, and that, however painstaking and faithful the engraver's hand, it could never produce that exact fac-simile, that ruthless imitation of the thing copied.

Nothing could be truer than this, if the only object of line engraving were to give us a literal copy, a brutal effigy of its original. But is it necessary to mention again that, happily, it has also the task of interpretation? Owing to the very limited field in which286 he works, as it were in monochrome, the engraver is compelled to choose and to combine the best means of rendering by analogy the various colours of his original, to organise its general effect, and to bring out both the character and the style, now by the simplification of certain details, now by applying the principle of selection to certain others. We have no longer here the stupid impartiality, or, if it be preferred, the unreasoning veracity of a mechanical apparatus, but the deliberate use of feeling, intelligence, and taste—of all those faculties, indeed, which mould and enter into the talent of an artist.

Now as long as there are men in the world capable of preferring idea to matter, and the art which appeals to the mind to the fact which speaks to the eyes, line engraving will retain its influence, however small it may be supposed, however limited it may really be. In any case, those who in these days, in spite of every obstacle, are determined to pursue in their own way the work of such men as Edelinck and Nanteuil, will have deserved recognition from their contemporaries, and will have averted, so far as they could, the complete decay, if it must come, of art properly so called, when sacrificed to the profit of chance manufacture and mere technique.


English Engraving.

England appears at first only to have participated in the European movement amongst the fine arts by the trade which it carried on in foreign productions, and the hospitality and the patronage which it gave to many celebrated artists. Thus the country was enriched with foreign works, and examples were obtained, not perhaps worthy of being slavishly followed, but at all events capable of stimulating native talent. At the persuasion of Erasmus, Holbein, in 1526, came to try his fortune in England, and was followed afterwards by Rubens and Van Dyck, as well as De Bry, Vorsterman, and the indefatigable Hollar, the latter an engraver unrivalled in his own style, and perhaps the most unfortunate in worldly circumstances who ever practised the art.

As early as 1483 wood-cuts were used for illustration in Caxton's "Golden Legend," and subsequent printers adopted the same practice in issuing their publications. In like manner, copperplate engravings appeared first as illustrations for books, notably in one called "The Birth of Mankind," dedicated to Queen Catherine, and published by Thomas Raynalde in288 1540, and in a translation of Vesalius' "Anatomy," published in 1545 by Thomas Geminus, who not only did the literary work, but copied the original wood-cuts on copper. In the middle of the century, the Hogenbergs took advantage of the method for portraiture, Francis engraving in 1555 a portrait of Queen Mary, and his brother Remigius in 1573 one of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to have retained the engraver in his service.

About the same period appeared William Rogers, who was born in London in 1545, and may be considered as the earliest English engraver worthy of mention. His series of portraits are of considerable merit, especially a whole length, taken from a drawing by Isaac Oliver, of Queen Elizabeth, standing with orb and sceptre, and clothed in a rich embroidered and puffed dress. This print bears at the bottom the name of the engraver, and was afterwards reduced in size all round, turning the figure of the Queen into a three-quarter length, and cutting away Rogers' name, which was not reinserted in the later publication. Both sizes of the print are scarce, especially the original, and indeed for a considerable time the reduced impression was considered anonymous, until the appearance of the larger engraving and its comparison with the smaller established the identity of the two. The elder Crispin de Passe engraved a plate from the same drawing of smaller size, and with different accessories in the background.

De Passe, a native of Utrecht, and his family, William, Simon, and a daughter Magdalen, came289 over to England at the beginning of the seventeenth century, and engraved many prints of much interest in a style peculiarly their own. Reginald Elstracke (born 1620) and Francis Delaram flourished about the same period.

But nothing was accomplished by any English engraver of great artistic value, or which could be fairly compared with the work in other countries, until the middle of the century. It was then that William Faithorne, by his series of portraits, full of colour and executed in a clear and brilliant style, freed England from this reproach. He may be said to have inaugurated the era of English engravers, who, though mostly surpassed by other nations in the line manner of engraving, have no rivals in mezzotint. This style, which, when combined with bold etching, may be called the culmination of the art, was taken up in this country as soon as discovered, adopted by the English as their own, and gradually brought by them to the fullest perfection. Faithorne was a pupil of Sir Robert Peake, painter and engraver, and is said also to have studied under Nanteuil, when driven through the troubles of the first revolution to take refuge in France. His portraits of Mary, Princess of Orange, the Countess of Exeter, Sir William Paston, Queen Catherine of Braganza, Charles II., with long flowing black hair, Thomas Killegrew, dramatist and court favourite, and the famous Marquis of Worcester, one of the contributors to the invention of the steam engine, rank high as engravings, and worthily take their place amidst the achievements of other countries.

290 Before treating of mezzotint and the new field which it opened out to the engraver, it will be well to call attention to the coming of Hollar to England, and his peculiar method of work, which consisted mainly of etching, assisted by the point or fine graver. Wenceslaus Hollar (born 1607) was forced early in life by the exigencies of those warlike times to leave his native land—Bohemia—and to travel through Germany, designing and engraving on his way, until, in 1636, he met at Cologne with the Earl of Arundel, the English Ambassador to Ferdinand II., who immediately took him into his employment, and on his return from his mission brought him to England, where, with the exception of the troubled years of the first revolution, Hollar resided for the remainder of his life.

Misfortune, however, which attended Hollar in youth, seemed relentless throughout his entire career; after the restoration of Charles II., he underwent the terrible experiences of the plague and of the fire of London, and the times, hostile to every pursuit of art, reduced Hollar to a state of indigence and distress from which, in spite of persevering industry, he seems never to have been able to recover. Sent to Africa in 1669 as the king's designer, to make drawings of the fortifications and surroundings of the town of Tangiers, he meets with Algerine corsairs on his way back, from which he escapes with difficulty. On his return, it is only after delay and vexation that he can obtain £100 from the impecunious king for his two years' labours and expenses. He travels through England, making drawings and291 etchings of abbeys, churches, ruins, and cathedrals, and ultimately dies at Westminster (1677) in a state of extreme poverty and distress, his very death-bed being disturbed by bailiffs, who threaten the seizure of the last article of furniture he possessed, the bed upon which he is lying. His body was laid in the churchyard of St. Margaret's, Westminster; his name and works remain living and immortal. Hollar's prints amount to considerably over two thousand, and embrace all kinds of subjects, portraits, landscapes, architecture, costume, and animal and still-life of varied character and quality. His treatment of the textures of hair, feathers, or the bloom on butterflies and other insects, is simply unrivalled. Besides his portraits, among other well-known and valued prints, there are—after his own designs—the long bird's-eye view of London in four parts, plans of the same city before and after the great fire (1666), exterior and interior views of the old Cathedral of St. Paul51 Westminster Hall, with its picturesque surroundings, the Cathedrals of Lincoln, Southwell, Strasbourg, Antwerp, and York, sets of butterflies, insects, costumes, muffs, and richly-wrought jewelled vessels.

In addition to these, he engraved a set of thirteen plates (1671) on the various English ways of hunting, hawking, and fishing, after Francis Barlow, painter and engraver, who flourished during the same period, and excelled in the representation of animals, birds, and fish.292 The latter artist has left a curious print—of which the only known example is supposed to be that of the British Museum—entitled "The Last Horse Race" (August 24, 1684), run before Charles II., at Dorsett Ferry (? Datchett), near Windsor Castle. Hollar was the master of Robert Gaywood, who in some measure imitates his style, and many of whose plates are justly esteemed, such as the series of heads after Van Dyck, the curious likeness of Cromwell, the large print of the philosophers Democritus and Heraclitus, as opposing professors of gaiety and gravity, and the plates of birds and animals after Barlow.

In the meantime, the art of mezzotint had been invented, in the first place, by Ludwig von Siegen, a lieutenant-colonel in the service of the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, who used the method to execute a large portrait, bearing the date 1642, of the Princess Amelia Elizabeth, the dowager Landgravine of Hesse. The credit for the discovery has also been ascribed to the well-known Prince Rupert52 nephew of Charles I.; but the legend of the prince meeting with a soldier cleaning his corroded gun, and thus conceiving the idea of engraving a copper plate, rests on no sufficient foundation. It is, however, enough for this romantic prince's undying renown, that, having acquired the secret of producing the necessary ground by some means or other, most probably from Von Siegen, he293 not only introduced the process into England, but executed himself several remarkable engravings in the style, one of which, known as "The Great Executioner" (dated 1658), after Spagnoletto53 to distinguish it from a smaller plate containing the head only of the same figure, remains to this day as a powerful and wonderful example of the method. It is curious that, with the partial exception of Germany, and a few isolated instances in other countries, mezzotint should have been practically confined to England; the very name is not recognised elsewhere. Germany uses the word "Schabkunst," scraping art; the French, "La manière noire," the black manner; and Italy, "L'incisione a fumo," engraving in smoke or black54

Before the discovery of the new method, all engraving consisted of an arrangement of lines varied occasionally by dots, which had to be cut into the polished copperplate either directly by the graver or indirectly by the use of acid. Untouched by either graver or acid, the polished plate would thus, under the ordinary process of copperplate printing (rubbing in the ink by a suitable dabber and then cleaning off all the ink not held fast by in-dents), print white; mezzotint reverses the process. The plate, instead of being polished when the engraver commences his work294 presents a close, fine, file-like surface, which, if inked, wiped, and put under the heavy-pressure roller press, would now print off a deep uniform surface of bloomy black; in place, therefore, of putting in lines or dots to hold the ink, the engraver has to scrape off the close file-like grain at the required parts, bringing up his highest lights by means of a burnisher; the scraper and burnisher, not the graver, are consequently the principal tools used in executing mezzotint. In addition to the greater ease and rapidity with which an engraving could be made by this process, the range of effect or colour was immensely increased. All tones between pure white and the deepest black were now capable of realisation, and it is easy to see how greatly were enlarged the resources of the engraver, whose special gift and claim as an original artist—a fact too often forgotten, or rather not sufficiently recognised—consist in his power of translating into various shades of black and white the numerous colours at the disposal of the painter.

The forming or laying the grained surface, technically called ground, is necessarily of the utmost importance, and is effected by a tool known amongst practical workers as "the rocker," called also "cradle," or "berceau"—the French equivalent—from the peculiar rocking motion given to it by the operator. The rocker is made of moderately thin and carefully tempered steel about two inches broad, and might be termed a stumpy, wide chisel were it not that it is curved (like a cheese-cutter) and notched or serrated at the cutting edge, which295 serration is caused by one side of the steel being indented into small fluted ridges running parallel upwards to the handle by which the tool is held, and somewhat presenting the appearance of a small-tooth-comb. On the plain smooth side the rocker is ground level to the edge, like other cutting tools, and sharpened on a stone or hone of suitable quality. In laying the ground this instrument is held firmly in the hand, the elbow resting on a convenient cushion, the serrated cutting edge placed on the plate with a slight inclination, and a steady rocking motion given to the tool, which slowly advances over the surface of the copper or steel, forming on its way a narrow indented path. Side by side with this path another is made until the whole surface of the plate has been covered. The series of parallel paths is then repeated at a certain angle over the previous ones, and so on in regular progressive angular order until the required closeness of texture has been produced; to do this it is necessary that the series of parallel paths—technically called a way—should be repeated in proper angular progression from sixty to a hundred times. As the continual friction of the elbow against the cushion caused the laying of a ground to become a severe and painful operation, particularly when the use of steel instead of copper plates came into practice early in the present century, a modification of this plan was introduced whereby the tool was fixed at the fitting angle into one end of a long pole, the other end being inserted loosely in a ring fixed on the board upon which the plate was placed; the requisite296 rocking motion could then be easily given by the hand, and much painful labour avoided. The necessity for a good ground being so great, as the process became more and more general in England, a race of professional ground-layers grew up, who were paid at a certain rate per square inch for the surface thus covered. Much controversy has taken place as to the means by which Siegen, Prince Rupert, and the earlier mezzotinters produced their grounds, but there is little doubt that it must have been accomplished by some rude form of the present tool, and the curious appearance of the grain—as seen in very early mezzotints—must have been caused by the irregular crossings of the impressed layers, the necessity of regular angular procedure throughout the plate, in order to obtain an even tone, not having been recognised at first.

Prince Rupert imparted the secret of the process to Wallerant Vaillant, a native of Lisle, a portrait painter (born 1623, died 1677) who practised the method with great success, working chiefly at Amsterdam, and leaving to posterity many prints of considerable artistic merit. Sir Christopher Wren is also credited with the execution of one of the earliest mezzotints, a negro's head with a collar round the throat, but there is no satisfactory authority for the various statements to this effect, the only sound fact being that this early print is an extremely interesting specimen of the process. The first English engraving executed in this style bearing a date is a portrait of Charles II. in an oval frame (Giul. Sherwin, fecitt 1669), by William Sherwin, who, there is some reason to believe, acquired297 his knowledge of the process directly from Prince Rupert. Sherwin, born about 1650, engraved also in line55 and is said to have had the distinction of engraver to the king conferred on him by patent, an exceptional honour.

Among the mezzotinters about this period, Abraham Blootelingh, born at Amsterdam in 1634, and distinguished both as a line engraver and etcher, came over to England in 1673, made use of the method with admirable success, and is said to have effected considerable improvement in the process of laying the ground; his life-size head of the Duke of Monmouth, in an oval border or frame, is a masterpiece of the art. But, with the above exceptions, the works left by the majority of the early mezzotinters, both English and foreign, are more curious to the student than satisfactory to the artistic eye. It was not until the close of the century, when Isaac Beckett and John Smith had already begun to issue their grand series of portraits after Kneller, Lely, and other contemporary painters, that the full capabilities of the invention were realised and the foundation laid for the steady and uninterrupted progress of the art. John Smith's clear, bright, and intelligent face ought to be well known to Englishmen both from his own engraving and also from Kneller's admirable picture, from which it was taken, so long to be seen hanging in the Rubens and Rembrandt room of the National Gallery, and lately298 fittingly transferred to the National Portrait Gallery. He was a pupil of Beckett and native of Northamptonshire, and died at Northampton in 1742, where there is a tablet to his memory in St. Peter's Church.

When the eighteenth century opened, mezzotint had taken firm root in England; Beckett and John Smith were in the plenitude of their powers; Jean Simon, a Protestant refugee from France (born in Normandy, 1675), had taken refuge in England, and forsaking his original method of line, had adopted that of mezzotint with great success, while G. White was already giving the first indications of the advantages that might be gained by the introduction of etching into the method. John Faber, junior, was also establishing his reputation, not only by his well-known portraits (which include the set of the Kit-cat Club56 and the Hampton Court beauties), but by many spirited fancy subjects after Mercier, and above all by an admirable print after Frank Hals of a man playing the guitar. Faber, the younger, was born in Holland in 1684, and brought to England when three years old by his father (also an engraver in mezzotint, but completely overshadowed by his son); he studied under Vanderbank, and was patronised by Kneller;299 his works are peculiarly valuable as forming records of the painters—now so apt to be carelessly passed by57—who lived between the time of Kneller and the rise of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and all left work of value to posterity.

The modern sharp division between painters and engravers was unknown in those days; the painter was only too glad to avail himself of the talent of the engraver to make his paintings known, and in many cases keep alive and hand down to after generations a name which otherwise might have died out and been forgotten. Painters of the present age ignore the engraver, and prefer the more tangible money results to be obtained from treating with a publisher for the purchase of their copyrights, adopting in this respect the teaching conveyed in the witty speech of Sir Godfrey Kneller, who, when reproached for his preference, to other branches of painting, of the lucrative one of portraiture, replied: "Painters of history make the dead live and do not begin to live themselves till they are dead; I paint the living and they make me live." Kneller might, however, have defended his practice on higher grounds, for portraiture, though often ignorantly decried, tests the powers of a great artist to the uttermost, and bequeaths to posterity a legacy of as valuable work as it is in the power of man to accomplish. It is interesting to note here that copyright in works of art was first obtained on300 the behalf of engraving; Hogarth, painter and engraver, finding that so many of his prints—which, numerously distributed, could easily be pirated—were being copied, boldly and successfully asserted his rights in the courts of law, and was the means of obtaining from Parliament a Copyright Act to defend property in art.

To Faber succeeded Thomas Frye and James McArdell, who were both born in the same city, Dublin, the birthplace of several other distinguished engravers. The life of Frye was eventful; he came in early manhood to London in the company of his fellow-townsman Stoppelaer, who by turns became artist, actor, dramatic writer, and singer. Frye commenced by painting and engraving portraits, and then took charge of the china manufactory just established at Bow, from the ruins of which afterwards arose those of Chelsea and Worcester; there he remained fifteen years, and by his taste and skill improved the manufactures in material form and ornamentation until, the business not succeeding and his health being injured by the heat of the furnaces, he had to take a journey to Wales to recruit, the expenses of which he paid by painting portraits, ultimately returning to London with some money in his pocket. Frye now took a house in Hatton Garden, where he painted miniatures, life-size heads in oils and crayons, and in the space of about two years, 1760ndash;2, executed in mezzotint the remarkable and justly esteemed series of life-size heads, which contain, among others, portraits of himself, his wife, and his mother. These were his301 last productions, as he died of a complication of diseases in 1762 at the age of fifty-two. Frye was industrious, amiable, and generous in character, patient in misfortune, and ingenious in accomplishing his objects; his likenesses of George III. and Queen Charlotte were obtained by frequent visits to the theatre, where it is said that the king and queen, on knowing his purpose, used kindly to turn their heads towards the artist to help him in his task; other portraits were perhaps accomplished more by the exercise of imagination, as the fine ladies he would ask to sit were wont to refuse with the excuse that they did not know in what company they might find themselves placed.

McArdell, the jovial companion of artists, the friend of Quin the actor, of whom Sir Joshua Reynolds observed, that even if the colours of his (Sir Joshua's) pictures faded his fame would be preserved by McArdell's engravings, marks an epoch in the art; for he was the first to use vigorous etching to increase the effect of mezzotint. He died young, in June, 1765, in his thirty-seventh year, and was buried in Hampstead Churchyard, where, according to Lysons, a short inscription to his memory recorded the fact.58

McArdell's immediate successors were numerous, and of striking power and originality in the exercise of their art; the more important of them were Richard Houston, John Greenwood, Edward Fisher302 John Spilsbury, Valentine Green, William Pether, Richard Brookshaw, John Blackmore, John Dixon, John Jones, Robert Laurie, and the two Watsons, James and Thomas, who were closely followed, in point of time, by William Dickinson, James Walker59 John Dean, John Young, the popular J. R. Smith (John Raphael), and perhaps the greatest of them all as an engraver, Richard Earlom. Many of these also practised in stipple, but their finer works in mezzotint completely overshadow these productions. It may be added that even the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds would hardly have been appreciated as thoroughly both in England and other countries, were it not for the admirable renderings of his pictures by the famous band of engravers practising during his lifetime. Gainsborough has undoubtedly suffered in this respect, for, unlike Wright of Derby, Hoppner, Opie, Morland, and Lawrence, few important mezzotints have been executed after his pictures; and were the art to revive and the engravers to be found, a mine of wealth would be waiting to reward with its treasures well-directed labour.

Earlom was born in 1743, and at his death in 1822 had reached his eightieth year; when fourteen years old he gained a premium from the Society of Arts, and attracted attention by making copies of Cipriani's303 pictures on the Lord Mayor's state carriage; this led to his becoming the painter's pupil and to his acquiring a thorough knowledge of drawing. The Boydells employed him to make drawings and engravings from the Houghton collection, and throughout his long life he continued to exercise unremittingly his laborious profession; his plates are numerous and of great excellence, while his skilful use of etching gives effect and variety to the many textures represented. Earlom engraved after various masters ancient and modern, and perhaps first showed the world the wide range of subjects which the style was capable of effectively representing, such as—to mention only a few of the more important plates—Correggio's "Repose in Egypt," Rubens' "Son and Nurse," Van Dyck's "Duke of Arembergh on Horseback," Vanderwerff's "Bathsheba bringing Abishag to David," the "Fish, Game, Vegetable, and Fruit Markets," after Snyders and Long John60 Van Huysum's fruit and flower pieces, Zoffany's terribly realistic representation of a "Scene in the French Revolution on the 10th of May, 1793," and his "Life School at the Royal Academy," Wright of Derby's "Blacksmith's Shop" and "Iron Forge," and the six plates after Hogarth, "Marriage à la Mode."

The renown acquired by the works of English mezzotinters gradually attracted the notice of other nations—particularly Germany—where the style had almost died out, and many foreign engravers came to this304 country, amongst others, J. G. Haid and the Viennese Jacobe, who not only executed valuable works in England, but were the cause of a partial renewal of the method in their own countries. The Austrian Pichler (born 1765, died 1806) finished in pure mezzotint many plates of exceptional merit, while his fruit and flower pieces after Van Huysum rival the masterpieces of Earlom after the same painter.

During the same period the English school had been making rapid strides in the other branches of copperplate engraving, line, stipple, and etching. Line, which to this day is considered by many as the highest style of the art, and which most certainly is well fitted to render the human form with grace and purity of outline and detail, has notwithstanding to overcome the difficulty of adequately expressing the various shades of colour and texture, and above all of realising the due effects of atmosphere and distance, a serious matter where the accessories are of importance or where landscape enters largely into the composition of the picture. It is, therefore, not surprising that, with mezzotint at hand with its wide range of capabilities, there should be comparatively few English engravers of eminence devoting themselves to line.

Hogarth, who was born in 1697, and began life as an engraver of arms and cyphers, naturally employed the method of line to give expression to his bold and vigorous designs, and in this was assisted by Luke Sullivan, who had been a pupil of Thomas Major. Major (born 1720) had spent some years in Paris engraving after Berghem, Wouvermans, and others;305 he was an artist of skill, and lived to a considerable age, holding for forty years the office of seal engraver to the king, and being the first associate61 engraver elected by the Royal Academy.

In the year 1730, Vivares, who was a Frenchman by birth, and who, in spite of natural artistic talents, had been apprenticed to a tailor, came to England at the age of eighteen and studied under Chatelain, an artist of French Protestant parentage, but born in London. Vivares soon surpassed his master, acquired great renown for his many fine plates of landscape and sea-scenes, and became a member of the Society of Artists; he lived for thirty years in Great Newport Street, and was buried in Paddington Churchyard in the year 1780.

It is, however, from the pre-eminent excellence of the line engravings of Strange, Woollett, and Sharp that the right of England to a place in the hierarchy of the art has been conceded by other nations. Sir Robert Strange, descended from an ancient Scottish family, was born at Orkney in 1721, and served an apprenticeship of six years to Richard Cooper of Edinburgh. In this city Strange started as an engraver on his own account; when the civil war broke out he joined the side of the Pretender, engraved a half-length portrait of him, and was appointed engraver to this prince; after the battle of Culloden, in which he is said to306 have taken part, Strange escaped to Paris, and had there the advantage of studying under Le Bas. In 1751 he returned to England, and established himself in London, where his talents were readily recognised and appreciated. On the accession of George III., Strange refused the commission to engrave whole-length portraits of the king and his Prime Minister, Lord Bute, thereby giving great offence, which, together with the remembrance of his former adventures, made Strange think it prudent to leave the country for a time; therefore, to turn to good account even such untoward circumstances, he determined to increase the knowledge of his art by travelling through the continent. In Italy he produced some of his finest engravings after Titian, Raphael, Correggio, Domenichino, Guido, and Van Dyck; his talent was everywhere acknowledged; he was elected member of the Academies of Rome, Florence, Bologna, Parma, and Paris; and, on his return to London, by his engraving after West of the apotheosis of the king's three children, who had died in infancy, he regained the royal favour and received the distinction of knighthood. Sir Robert Strange was a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists, but was very hostile to the Royal Academy, deeply and justly resenting their exclusion of engravers from full membership. During the later part of his life he lived in Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, where he died in 1792. He was buried in St. Paul's Churchyard, Covent Garden.

Strange had chiefly devoted himself to classical subjects and the delineation of the human form307 Woollett, on the other hand, took up the branches of landscape and history, and by his skill of touch and persistently intelligent labour produced such results as were sufficient to call forth ungrudging praise from all competent judges, not only in his own country, but abroad. Among Woollett's most celebrated plates are the "Fishery," the "Battle of La Hogue," and the "Death of General Wolfe." In the printing of the last plate an accident occurred after a few proofs had been taken; a printer in careless fun taking up a hammer, cried out, "General Wolfe seems dying, I'll finish him;" saying this, he suited action to word, and unintentionally brought the hammer down on the face of the general, thus destroying by the freak of a moment the work of days of patient labour. It is said that Woollett cried on hearing the news; the painter, his art once learnt, fired by imagination, can by rapid strokes of his brush give effect to his will, while the engraver only attains his end by months of unremitting and trustful toil.

Woollett was born at Maidstone in 1735, and was apprenticed to John Tinney, who is now best known as having been the master of three distinguished pupils, Anthony Walker, John Browne, and Woollett himself. Anthony Walker engraved the well-known "Law and Physic" after Ostade, and the figures in the print of "Niobe," Woollett's first work of importance. He was the brother of the William Walker who greatly increased the effect of etching by re-biting, and it is said that Woollett, when making use of the process, was wont to exclaim, "Thank you, William308 Walker."62 Woollett lived in London all his life in the neighbourhood of Rathbone Place, where, when he had finished a plate, he used to celebrate the event by firing a cannon from the roof of his house; he died in 1785, and a tablet63 was placed to his memory in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.

William Sharp was the son of a gunmaker in the Minories, where he was born in 1749, and afterwards apprenticed to Barak Longmate, a notable heraldic engraver, with whom Sharp's first essay as an apprentice was engraving pewter pots. Sharp completed the plate of West's "Landing of Charles II.," left unfinished by Woollett at his death, while many will know one of his finest works, the "Doctors of the Church," after Guido. Although he never left England, his prints were celebrated throughout Europe; he was elected honorary member of the Imperial Academy at Vienna and of the Royal Academy at Munich, but like Woollett, Strange, and Hall, was not recognised by the English Royal Academy. His religious and political views were peculiar, and being considered a309 dangerous character, he was summoned before the Privy Council, where at length, annoyed by repeated and, as he considered, irrelevant questions, Sharp is said to have deliberately pulled out of his pocket a prospectus of his engraving of the celebrated Polish general and patriot Kosciusko, and handing it to the council, requested their names as subscribers; this and his frank manner relieved him from the unpleasant predicament in which he found himself placed. Sharp also engraved a portrait of Richard Brothers—a fanatic whose prophecies and writings excited attention at the time—with the title of "Prince of the Hebrews," and wrote underneath: "Fully believing this to be the man whom God has appointed, I engrave his likeness." Though successful and industrious in his art, Sharp died in comparative poverty in the year 1824 at Chiswick.

Among other distinguished men who worked in line during this period must be mentioned James Heath, Anker Smith, John Keyse Sherwin, Francis Legat, Thomas Morris—a pupil of Woollett's—who engraved the fine views of the Monument, seen from Fish Street Hill, and St. Paul's Cathedral from Ludgate Hill, and lastly the unfortunate William Wynne Ryland, who engraved the portraits of George III. and Lord Bute, which Strange had refused to undertake, and who, though of greater eminence in line, is credited with bringing into notice in England the stipple manner of engraving. Ryland finally ended an adventurous career by being hanged for forging two bills on the East India Company, and by his death—notwithstanding310 all efforts to obtain a reprieve—justified words used in relation to the event: "Popes and monarchs have pardoned men who had committed crimes of the deepest dye—even murder—in consideration of their talents as artists; but Ryland lived in England, the land of trade and commerce, and had committed an offence against the laws of money, the god of its idolatry." Nor during the history of this period ought the names of Thomas Worlidge, David Deuchar, and the ingenious Captain Baillie to be omitted; Worlidge in the early part, and Deuchar at the close of the century, etched each in his own style with precision and effect, while William Baillie, an Irishman and retired cavalry officer (born 1723, died 1810), etched and worked in mezzotint with equal happiness and success.

William Blake (born 1757), poet, engraver, and painter, stands alone. In engraving—the laborious art by which he was content to live—he has executed admirable works, apart from his own peculiar methods, both in line, as shown in the portrait of Lavater, and in stipple, as in the "Industrious Cottager," after Morland; as poet and painter he has left songs and designs which, if soaring higher than men can follow, or even his own powers of hand and mind sufficiently express, remain for ever to arouse the wonder and excite the imagination of posterity. Though he lived in poverty, and oppressed with cares, he was always cheerful and beloved by all who knew him intimately; he was ever at work while life lasted, and died in 1827, as he had lived, a righteous and happy man. He was laid in Bunhill Fields burying-ground, but311 the spot where he was buried is marked by no tombstone, nor can it now be actually identified; but who that has looked at the portrait engraved by Jeens from Linnell's wondrous miniature can ever forget the face of the poet, engraver, and painter, William Blake?

Before speaking of the branch of engraving known by the name of stipple, it would be well to say a few words as to the mode of printing in colour, so prevalent at one time, and of the connection which the works of Kirkall had in relation to the method. Edward Kirkall, born at Sheffield in the year 1722, published a set of plates, in the printing of which he made use both of mezzotint and etching on copperplate combined with wood blocks (that is to say, one printing was from a copperplate, the remainder from wood blocks), in order to give variety of colour to a set of chiaroscuros and other engravings which he executed at that time. His plan differed from that of Leblond in that he used only one copperplate printing, the other tints being given by wood blocks; the results were interesting and effective, partaking more of the character of chiaroscuros, the name he himself gave to them. Apart from the failure of Leblond to realise his ingenious idea that, by the consecutive and proper superposition of three layers of primitive colours, every shade of colour might be produced in the print, there still remained another fatal defect in the process: all his colours were impressed by copperplate printing, that is, he made use of three plates successively printed one after the other on the same sheet of paper. Now a person who can realise312 the heavy pressure under which a copperplate has to pass so as to force it into the damp paper, in order that the paper should extract the ink from the grain in which it is held, will be able to see that the second and third printing—no matter how accurate the register—must crush the grain or burr given to the paper by the previous printing and thus destroy the beauty of the engraver's work. Notwithstanding the really remarkable results produced by Leblond, this fatal imperfection mars all the engravings he has left executed in this manner. The copperplates which were printed in colour and carried to such perfection, particularly in England, about the close of the eighteenth century, were printed from one plate, generally executed in stipple, and the various tints or colours carefully rubbed in by the printer, who used for this purpose a sort of stump instead of the ordinary dabber. Whatever artistic harmony in colour might be produced was therefore partially the work, and to the credit of the printer; the printed impressions were in addition generally touched up afterwards, and in some cases almost entirely coloured by hand. Every impression printed in colours necessarily varies; some are really exquisite in their delicacy of tone and assemblage of shades, while others are contemptible in their staring vulgarity. Kirkall engraved an elaborate ornamental form on which to give a receipt to his subscribers for these engravings; one of which, running thus, "Receipt from Sir Hans Sloane of one guinea as part payment for twelve prints in chiaroscuro which he (Kirkall) promises to deliver313 when finished on payment of one guinea more," can be seen at the British Museum, and will give some idea of the moderate remuneration artists of those days were content to receive for their valuable labour.

The rise of stipple as a separate style took place in the middle of the eighteenth century, and although the coming of Bartolozzi to England gave it so great an impetus, it is necessary to point out that the works of the school which goes by his name by no means show the capabilities of the method. The aim of Bartolozzi and his followers was essentially prettiness; to this all their efforts tended, and for this stipple was a convenient medium. The very printing in red, recently so popular, is barbarous in its ineffectiveness, plates so printed being deprived of a great part of their proper ranges of light and shade. The more serious work in this method was accomplished by other engravers, of whom may be specially mentioned Thomas Gaugain, Anthony Cardon, Caroline Watson, and, later on in the present century, William Walker, who carried the style to the highest point ever reached or likely to be reached. Engraving in stipple—that is, putting dots into the plate in place of lines—was, however, no new invention; from early times line engravers had placed dots in the interstices of their crossed lines to give solidity and greater effect. Ottavio Leoni, a Roman painter, had used the method freely in a set of plates of distinguished artists, which he engraved in the years 1621ndash;5, executing the heads, with the exception of the hair, entirely in stipple; and early in the century French engravers made use of the314 same means to give effect to many of their flesh textures. The crayon style of engraving introduced by Demarteau, and the feeble English manner known as chalk, which had only a limited reign, are but modifications of the style.

Francesco Bartolozzi, the life-long friend of Cipriani (born in 1725 at Florence), was educated in engraving at Venice by Joseph Wagner, and like Cipriani, who had preceded him, came over to England in 1764. His reputation was already established there; he was appointed engraver to the king with a salary of £300 a year, became one of the first forty full members of the Royal Academy (1768), and was the only engraver admitted to the honour down to the year 1855. Bartolozzi remained in England for thirty-eight years, continuously producing his innumerable and well-known plates; at length, in 1802, seduced by the offer of a house, pension, and a knighthood, he went, at the age of seventy-seven, to Lisbon, where he died in 1815, having reached his ninety-first year, and working at his profession to the last. John Ogborn, Cheesman, Thomas Ryder, Chapman, Agar, T. Burke, and the delightful P. W. Tomkins—who, with the late C. H. Jeens, may be called the miniaturist of engravers—were all followers more or less of his school. An admirable draughtsman and perfect master of the graver, Bartolozzi was in addition able to infuse a certain grace and beauty into the trivial work by which he is best known; but he has done work of a higher stamp, and some of his line engravings, such as "Clytie," the "Death of Dido," the portraits of Lord Thurlow315 and Martin van Juchen in full armour (worthy of the graver of Pontius or De Jode), make all who care for the art regret that so talented an artist gave the greater part of his time and attention to producing prints which, though graceful and pleasing, charm but for the moment and leave no permanent impression.

This, the Augustan era of English engraving, saw also the rise of the talented and genial Thomas Bewick (born 1753, died 1828), who made the domain of natural history his own, and in addition to executing some interesting copper plates, has by his exquisite wood-cuts after his own drawings entitled England to claim her place amongst the greatest artists in that form of engraving. The Boydells, too, had established their celebrated firm; both were engravers, John in line, and Josiah, his nephew (a pupil of Earlom), in mezzotint. John Boydell was born in 1719, and established himself first (in 1752) at the sign of the "Unicorn," corner of Queen Street, Cheapside, afterwards at 90 Cheapside, and finally took additional premises in Pall Mall for the Shakespeare Gallery. Josiah was born in 1752, succeeded on his uncle's death (1804) to the business, and died in 1817. A great proportion of the best prints of this period will be found to bear the addresses of these famous publishers and engravers.

The last years of the eighteenth and the commencement of the present century witnessed the death of many of the famous engravers already mentioned. It was now that the Birmingham school of line arose, and, urged by the influence of J. M. W. Turner, executed their delicate line engravings after that316 famous painter. William Radelyffe was the founder of this school, and was followed by his son Edward, Robert Brandard, J. T. Willmore, E. Goodall, R. Wallis, William Miller, and others. Sharp, Anker Smith, James Heath, Earlom, Dickinson, Young, and J. R. Smith still remained for a time, but much of their best work was already done. William Ward, apprenticed to J. R. Smith, his brother James, the noted animal painter, Charles Turner and Samuel William Reynolds had also appeared to carry on and bring to its fullest development the great British school of mezzotint. William Ward, born in 1766, by his series of engravings after George Morland—whose sister he married—has made the names of the painter and engraver almost indissoluble, each having contributed to the immortality of the other. James, the painter and Royal Academician, born in 1769, studied under his brother, with whom he served an apprenticeship of nearly nine years; his plates of "Cornelius the Centurion" after Rembrandt, Sir Joshua's "Mrs. Billington as St. Cecilia," and the studies after nature of heads and feet of ducks, ducklings, geese, and calves, are among the finest works executed in the method. James lived to a great age, dying in 1859 in his ninety-first year, having survived his brother and also a nephew, William James Ward. The last-named was likewise a good mezzotint engraver, but unfortunately died in the prime of life in the year 1840.

Charles Turner was born in the same year as S. W. Reynolds (1773), and survived the latter by more than twenty years; his prints are very numerous, and317 comprise a great variety of subjects. The large upright mezzotint of Sir Joshua's group of the Marlborough family, with the two younger children in front, one holding a mask, the other shrinking back in fright, is deservedly well known, as is also his fine rendering of "The Shipwreck" after J. M. W. Turner, published in 1807. Other characteristic prints which may be mentioned are "Black and Red Game," after Elmer; "Pheasants," after Barenger; the portraits of "Alexandra, Empress of Russia," after Monier; "Lord Newton," after Raeburn; and a marvellous life-size head of Salvator Rosa's "St. Francis," engraved in 1805. Turner lived till the year 1857, when he died at his house in Warren Street, Fitzroy Square, at the age of eighty-three.

Samuel William Reynolds, one of the most gifted men who ever applied themselves to the engraver's art, studied mezzotint under C. H. Hodges; he commenced his comparatively short career both as painter and engraver, and exhibited for several years at the British Institution. Endowed with singular powers of fascination, Reynolds seems to have attracted and kept fast the friendship of all with whom he became acquainted, irrespective of their particular social surroundings. Samuel Whitbread, the distinguished Member of Parliament, of old Drury Lane Theatre renown, was his intimate and kindest friend; Sheridan and Edmund Kean played at Pope Joan with his daughters, and the very printer of his plates fifty years after Reynolds' death would grow bright when recalling his memory, saying, "He was the prince318 of engravers." He gave lessons in drawing to the daughters of George III., who wished to make him their equerry, and afterwards an important post with a salary of £900 a year was offered him, but both these offers were refused.

It is from the technical skill and firm daring which Reynolds displayed in his prints, and the intelligent use he made of the means at his command, that his name as an engraver remains pre-eminent; the "Falconer," "Vulture and Snake," "Heron and Spaniel," and "Leopards" after Northcote; the "Duchess of Bedford" after Hoppner; the "regal" whole-length of the unfortunate Princess Charlotte; the large and exquisitely finished etching from Rembrandt's famous picture of "The Mill;" and the "Land Storm"—known also as the "Mail Coach in a Storm"—after George Morland, are but a few of the many prints which show the power and versatility of the engraver. In the last-named print (published 1798), where the resources of mezzotint and etching combined have been used to fullest purpose, the familiar identity of the painter has been almost hidden under the massive effects of light and shade shown in the landscape, where amidst lightning flash and rushing wind the terror-stricken horses are seen dashing madly onward.

When Reynolds went to Paris in 1826, artists there were astonished at his paintings and the effects that he produced. Sixdeniers and Maile studied with him, and several plates bear their combined names; unfortunately both these engravers, excellent as they were as mezzotinters, chiefly engraved319 after painters whose productions partook of a frivolous and somewhat free character. Reynolds, however, left more permanent marks of his stay in the French capital by executing there the large plates of Géricault's "Wreck of the Medusa," Horace Vernet's "Mazeppa," and the masterly representations of Charlet's characteristic types, the "Village Barber" and the "Rag Picker." In the last two the technical handling is so free that it would almost seem as if the scraper had been used with the same facility as chalk on paper. In reference to this there is a story extant that Reynolds once scraped a large whole-length portrait in a day and a night; the story is true, but it is also true that it is one of his worst plates.

Shortly before his death Reynolds was greatly struck with Constable's picture of "The Lock," and resolved to engrave it at his own cost; writing to Constable on the arrival of the picture, he says:—"I have been before your picture for the last hour. It is no doubt the best of your works true to nature, seen and arranged with a professor's taste and judgment. The execution shows in every part a hand of experience; masterly without rudeness, and complete without littleness; the colouring is sweet, fresh, and healthy; bright not gaudy, but deep and clear. Take it for all in all, since the days of Gainsborough and Wilson no landscape has been painted with so much truth and originality, so much art, so little artifice." But he did not live to fulfil his intention, for while still full of hope and high purpose for the future, Reynolds was suddenly stricken with paralysis, and died at his320 house in Bayswater in the year 1835. This sudden ending was the cause of his son—likewise named Samuel William—forsaking painting to finish some of his father's plates, and ultimately continuing with success the practice of mezzotint on his own account. Reynolds' daughter Elizabeth, who married the stipple engraver William Walker—though chiefly known by her miniatures and other paintings—also engraved in early life.64 Although there are no authentic records of the pedigree, S. W. Reynolds always asserted his collateral relationship to Sir Joshua Reynolds, and his son often mentioned that his father, when quite a youth, called on Sir Joshua, who, during the conversation that ensued, remarked to Reynolds, "Then you are my cousin."

Other engravers of eminence that flourished during this period are, in line, the Bromleys, John Landseer and his sons, Charles Heath, William B. Cooke and his brother George65 John Burnet (celebrated as painter, engraver, and author), Richard Golding, and John Scott; in stipple, William Bond, Thomas Woolnoth, and James Hopwood; in mezzotint, Henry Dawe, William Say, Henry Meyer, George Clint, and his pupil Thomas Lupton, who, for his introduction of soft steel instead of copper as the medium for mezzotint engraving, received in 1822 the gold Isis medal from the Society of Arts.

321 The method of stipple was meanwhile slowly dying out, but, as often happens when some particular art seems about to expire, this was the very time when the capabilities of the style were shown in the highest perfection. William Walker, born in Musselburgh in the year 1791, served an apprenticeship to three engravers, Mitchell, Stewart, and Thomas Woolnoth, and choosing stipple as his method of interpretation, in his portraits of Sir Walter Scott, Raeburn, and the Earl of Hopetoun, justified his choice by executing the finest works that were ever accomplished in the style. He astonished the mezzotinters of the period—who told him that, do what he could, he would never make stipple equal mezzotint in colour66—by the amount of force, colour, and effect which he was able to give to these plates. It is needless to say that such work as this could only be accomplished at the expense of intense energy and persevering labour, qualities which were the essential characteristics of the Scotch engraver. Later on, when settled in London, and more particularly after the introduction of steel in place of copper, Walker chiefly practised mezzotint, in which, however, he made use of his previous experience, etching his subject first in stipple before laying the mezzotint ground. His plate of Burns, engraved in mezzotint by himself and Mr. Cousins, owes a great part of its renown to Walker's power of rendering likeness; in regard to322 this, the painter Alexander Nasmyth remarked, on seeing the finished print, "that all he could say was that it seemed to him a better likeness of the poet than his own picture." This particular quality of fidelity in likeness Walker carried out in all his after historical works; for this purpose no trouble was too much, no labour too severe; the engraving of the "Distinguished Men of Science assembled at the Royal Institution in 1807ndash;8," which occupied a period of six years of unceasing research and labour, is a striking instance. This was practically his last plate. He died at the age of seventy-six, in the year 1867, at his house in Margaret Street, Cavendish Square, and was buried at Brompton Cemetery.

The death of Reynolds in 1835 seems to mark roughly the closing period of English engraving as a great art; two of his most renowned pupils were, however, still in the fulness of power, David Lucas and the present Mr. Samuel Cousins, R.A.67 Of Mr. Cousins, it is sufficient to relate that Reynolds, happening one day to be in the town of Exeter, saw some drawings in a shop window which caught his eye, and on going inside he learnt that they were by a lad of the name of Cousins, which incident led to Reynolds taking the youth to London and keeping him as his apprentice. Mr. Cousins' artistic genius, steady perseverance, and sterling integrity in all that he undertook, brought their full results, as shown in323 the fine series of mezzotint engravings so widely known and highly appreciated, and his name may indeed be said to close worthily the long line of great British mezzotinters.

David Lucas was born in the year 1802, and had the good fortune to meet in early life with Constable, between whom and Lucas was formed that intimate connection of painter and engraver which in earlier times had led to such great results. Failing Reynolds, Constable had applied to Lucas to be his engraver, and between them was completed the beautiful mezzotint series of English landscape; Constable bore the expense and was ever in counsel with the engraver, going into the minutest details, thinking no trouble too much to produce a good result, down to the printing of the plates, which they often did themselves, Lucas having had a press erected at his house for the purpose. The execution of this series led to Lucas undertaking the large plate of "The Cornfield" at his own risk, and afterwards the companion picture of "The Lock"—referred to before—finally culminating in his production of the superb engraving of Salisbury Cathedral as seen from the meadows, to which Constable himself gave the name of "The Rainbow."68 During all this period constant intercourse and324 correspondence took place between the painter and engraver. At one time, Constable writes, "Although much admired, Salisbury is still too heavy; the sentiment of the picture is that of solemnity not gaiety, yet it must be bright, clear, alive, fresh, and all the front seen." At another, "The bow is a grand whole, provided it is clear and tender; how I wish I could scratch and tear away with your tools on the steel, but I can't do it, and your quiet way is I know the best and only way." At length comes, "Dear Lucas, the print is a noble and beautiful thing entirely improved and entirely made perfect; the bow is noble, it is startling, unique." So hand-in-hand they worked on, the painter upbearing his helpmate the engraver, each aiding the other, little noticed by the public at the time, but slowly building up an imperishable fame. David Lucas died in 1881 in his eightieth year.

In the middle of the century, inartistic mixture of styles, mechanical means replacing true work, exigencies of copyright, and above all the complete severance of the engraver not only from the painter but also from his only rightful patron the public, had worked its sure result. Some good men survived, such as Lewis, Atkinson, Doo, Robinson, J. H. Watt, R. Graves, J. Posselwhite, Lumb Stocks, Henry Cousins69 W. Giller, J. R. Jackson, and a few others; but no young school had been forming to replace those dying out, and everything presaged the gradual extinction of engraving as one of the great arts. Has325 this lowest point been reached? Perhaps, as with the beautiful art of miniature painting, which for a time on the advent of photography seemed gone for ever, yet still like some stream was only running on in hidden course underground to appear again and reach daylight, so may it happen with engraving.

Within the last few years two engravers have produced prints worthy of any period of the art, the late C. H. Jeens and the present Mr. W. H. Sherborne. Some of the stipple miniature book illustrations which Jeens executed for Messrs. Macmillan and others, such as the gem medallions of Plato and Socrates, "Love and Death," Woolner's "Beautiful Lady," the portraits of Allan Ramsay, Charles Young, Mr. Ruskin's two Aunts, and above all William Blake, are engraved with the tender feeling and fine touch of the true artist. Mr. Sherborne, born in 1832, probably little known except by the few, originally a chaser and designer for jewellers and pupil of Pietro Gerometti, the Roman cameo engraver and medallist, in 1872, fired by hope and love of the art, forsook his own branch to follow that of engraving. Like all true artists, his mode of execution is his own. Apollo, exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1881, the head of Mr. Seymour Haden, the portraits of Phelps the Chelsea Waterman or Mrs. James Builth, and the interiors of Westminster Abbey, seen at the Painter-Etchers' Exhibition in the summer of 1885, are works that will last, and are good examples of the engraver's powers, causing regret that Mr. Sherborne had not earlier turned his attention to an art the beauty of326 which he so truly feels. While engraving as a whole was decaying, one branch, that of etching, has been undergoing a revival, and the names of Mr. Seymour Haden, Mr. Philip Hamerton, and Mr. Whistler are world-known. They and their school have confined themselves to producing their own designs, while others, like Mr. David Law, Mr. Macbeth, and the Messrs. Slocombe, also translate the works of painters. But, whether as a vehicle for conveying an original design or translating that of another artist, etching is strictly limited in its powers; it bears the same relation to the full art of engraving as sketching or drawing does to that of perfect painting; suggestive, capable of exhibiting broad effects of light and shade, or indicative of the idiosyncrasy of the etcher, it is, of its very nature, incomplete, and acts but as herald to proclaim the greater results to be obtained by following out the art to its proper goal.

The great impetus which Bewick's genius gave to the art of wood engraving at the commencement of the present century was carried onwards by his distinguished pupils Luke Clennell, Charlton Nesbitt, and William Harvey, the latter of whom, in 1821, cut the large block of the death of Dentatus (15 in. × 11¼ in.) from the picture of the erratic genius B. R. Haydon, under whom he was at that time studying drawing. Robert Branston, John Thompson and his brother Charles70 Jackson, and W. J. Linton, are names of327 equal renown; in fact, during the first half of the century, England may be said to have been supreme in the art. Gradually, however, the various mechanical processes for facilitating the commercial extension of the art such as electrotyping71 photography, &c., brought here, too, their deteriorating effects, causing the engraver to become less of an artist and more of a mechanic. In delicacy of work and elaboration of detail, American artists now stand first among wood engravers; but they attempt too much with the means at their command, and try to produce upon the comparatively soft material, wood, the delicate fineness of line which can only be realised in perfection on metal. The extreme closeness of the lines, combined with the exigencies of rapid surface printing, dull more or less the minute interstices which ought to show pure white; effect is lost, and, notwithstanding the excellence of the workmanship, the result becomes monotonous and wearying rather than pleasurable to the satiated eye. In etching also America takes high rank; in addition to Mr. Whistler, the names of Messrs. J. Gadsby Chapman, Gifford, Duveneck, F. S. Church, Pennell, Stephen Parrish, and Mr. and Mrs. Moran, are well known in Europe.

In the complete styles of engraving, stipple, line, and mezzotint, although American engravers are little known out of their own country—a large enough328 field, however, in which to exercise their talents—some good work has also been done; in stipple, by David Edwin, Ion. B. Forrest, Gimbrede, and C. Tiebout; in mezzotint, by Charles Wilson Peale, A. H. Ritchie, and John Sartain, who, after having worked under the direction of William Young Ottley, went from London to America in 1830 at the age of twenty-two; and in line, by Asher Brown Durand; Joseph Andrews; the Smillies; and Charles Burt, who is said to have been the actual engraver of the fine plate of Leonardo's "Last Supper," copied from Morghen's print of the same subject, and bearing the name of A. L. Dick as engraver. The lives of these and others not mentioned were often eventful and picturesque, and would repay study. Some leaving England, Scotland, or Ireland in early life to settle in the land of their adoption, had to struggle with difficulties, often teach themselves, make their own tools, like John Cheney, or like Charles Wilson Peale, turn their hands to whatever duty might present itself. Peale was a captain of volunteers, dentist, lecturer on natural history, saddler, watchmaker, silversmith, painter in oil, crayons, or in miniature on ivory, modeller in clay and wax, engraver in mezzotint, and to crown all, as his son was wont to say, a mild, benevolent, and good man. Many also devoted their talents to bank-note engraving, a branch of the art highly cultivated in the United States, in which the skill of the inventor and mechanic has been united with the grace and genius of the artist. As engravers in this particular style may be specially mentioned329 W. E. Marshall, J. W. Casilear, M. J. Danforth, Gideon Fairman, and Jacob Perkins, the latter of whom, with Fairman and the ingenious Asa Spencer, came over to England in 1818 to compete for the premium of £20,000 offered by the Bank of England for a bank-note which could not be counterfeited. Although not successful, the Bank allowed them the sum of £5,000 in consideration of their ingenuity and the trouble and expense which they had incurred in the matter. While Asa Spencer is to be credited with inventing the method of applying the geometric lathe72 to engraving the involved patterns on banknotes, Perkins has the honour of introducing the process of transfer by means of steel rollers. The portrait or other design is engraved in the usual manner on a die plate, which is then hardened; a soft steel roller or cylinder is now rolled over the die with great pressure by means of a powerful machine, causing the cylinder to take off in its course the impression of the design in relief; this roller is now hardened in its turn, and by the use of similar means made to impress another soft steel die; by repeating this process, any requisite number of plates can thus be reproduced the exact fac-similes of the original engraved die plate. Owing to the mechanical necessity that only a small surface of the roller should press on the die at a given moment, the diameter of the cylinder requires to be small, so that several of330 these dies, and consequently of the rollers, will be required to complete the entire plate from which the ultimate printing of the note is effected.

Finally it may be well to conclude this brief account of the British school of engraving by calling attention to the considerations which ought to govern buyers of engravings; buy only that which gives real personal satisfaction, distrust a seller's inducements, in price be ruled by the amount that can be justly afforded, reject alluring thoughts of future money gain (or be prepared to pay the sure penalty—destruction of natural artistic feeling and hope of further cultivation), and ever bear in mind the words of Constable to his engraver: "Tone, tone, my dear Lucas, is the most seductive and inviting quality a picture or print can possess; it is the first thing seen, and like a flower, invites to the examination of the plant itself."73


*** The writer of the Chapter on English Engraving desires to acknowledge the facilities kindly placed at his disposal by Mr. Sidney Colvin, Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, and to express his recognition of the valuable aid afforded him by Mr. F. M. O'Donoghue, of the same department.




Foreign Engravers practising in England are marked with an asterisk.

b. stands for born; d., died; fl., flourished; c., about.

16th Cent.
Raynalde, Thomas. Published in 1540 a book called "The Birth of Mankind," illustrated by copperplate engravings.
Geminus, Thomas. Published in 1545 a translation of "Vesalius' Anatomy," written and illustrated with copperplates engraved by himself.
*Hogenberg, Francis. Engraved in line a portrait of Queen Mary I. of England, bearing date 1555. (There are doubts as to the correctness of this date.)
*Hogenberg, Remigius.
(Brother of above.)
Engraved in line portrait of Matthew Parker, Archbishop of Canterbury, bearing date 1573.
Rogers, William. b. London c. 1545. Engraved in line a fine whole-length portrait of Queen Elizabeth, afterwards republished and reduced in size.
17th Cent.
*De Passe, Crispin. b. Utrecht c. 1560. Line. Engraved and drew from life.
*De Passe, Magdalen.
(Daughter of above.)
b. Utrecht 1583. Line.
*De Passe, William.
(Son of above.)
b. Utrecht c. 1590; fl. 1620ndash;27. Line.
*De Passe, Simon.
(Son of above.)
b. Utrecht 1591; d. c. 1644. Line. His earliest work in England dated 1613.
Delaram, Francis. fl. c. 1620. Line.
Elstracke, Reginald. fl. c. 1620. Line.
Peake, Sir Robert. b. c. 1592; d. 1645. Line. Also painted portraits in miniature. Master of engraver Faithorne and painter Dobson.
*Hollar, Wenceslaus. b. Prague 1607; d. London 1677. Etcher, finishing, when necessary, with fine graver.
*Lombart, Peter. b. Paris 1612; came to England c. 1653, remaining for considerable number of years; d. Paris. Line. Engraved series of twelve portraits called "The Countesses."
Faithorne, William.
(Pupil of Sir Robert Peake.)
b. London 1616; d. London 1691. Line.
*Vanderbank, Peter.
(Pupil of De Poilly.) Line.
b. Paris; of Dutch extraction; came to England c. 1674; d. Bradfield 1697.
Barlow, Francis. b. Lincolnshire 1626; d. London 1702. Etcher, line engraver, and animal painter.
Gaywood, Robert.
(Pupil of Hollar.)
b. c. 1630; d. c. 1711. Etcher and line engraver, chiefly of animal subjects.
*Loggan, David.
(Pupil of Simon de Passe.)
b. Dantzic c. 1630; d. London 1693. Line. Portrait and architectural engraver and painter.
Rupert, Prince. b. 1619; d. 1682. Introduced mezzotint into England, and engraved some fine prints in the method, which were probably executed abroad.
Sherwin, William. b. c. 1650; d. c. 1714. Engraved portrait of Charles II. 1669, the earliest dated print in mezzotint authentically engraved in England.
Oliver, John.
(Nephew and pupil of Peter Oliver, miniature painter and etcher.)
b. 1616; d. 1701. Glass painter; also engraved in mezzotint.
Place, Francis. b. c. 1640; d. 1728. Mezzotint, line, etching.
Tompson, Richard.     fl. 1670. A good many early mezzotint prints bear these two names, but only as publishers (excudit not sculpsit), and there is great doubt if any were actually engraved by them. Browne wrote the "Ars Pictoria" in 1669, in which "The Manner or Way of Mezo Tinto" is described; published by himself, Tompson, and another.
Browne, Alexander.
*Blootelingh, Abraham.
(Pupil of Cornelius Visscher.)
b. Amsterdam 1634; d. c. 1695. Line and mezzotint. Came to England for a few years 1673.
*Valck, Gerard.
(Pupil of Blootelingh.)
b. Amsterdam c. 1626; d. c. 1720. Mezzotint and line. Accompanied Blootelingh to England, not leaving until after 1680.
White, Robert.
(Pupil of David Loggan.)
b. London 1645; d. London 1704. Line. Portrait draughtsman from life.
*Vandervaart, John. b. Haarlem 1647; d. London 1721. Mezzotinter and painter. Came to England 1674.
*Van Somer, Paul.
(Pupil of John Van Somer, probably his brother.)
b. Amsterdam 1649; d. London 1694. Mezzotint.
Faithorne, William, junr.
(Son of William Faithorne.)
b. London 1656; d. London 1686. Mezzotint.
Luttrell, E.
(Said to have learnt method of mezzotint from Blois, ground layer to Blootelingh.)
b. Dublin c. 1650; d. c. 1710. Mezzotinter and crayon portraitist.
Beckett, Isaac.
(Attracted by Luttrell's works, learnt the method of mezzotint from Lloyd, a printseller, who is said to have obtained the secret from Blois, ground layer to Blootelingh.)
b. Kent 1653; d. 1719. Mezzotint. Prints all dated between 1681ndash;88.
Smith, John.
(Pupil of Beckett and Vandervaart.)
b. Daventry 1652; d. Northampton 1742. Mezzotint.
Williams, R. b. Wales. Mezzotint. Prints dated c. 1680 to 1704.
*Dorigny, Sir Nicholas. b. Paris 1657; d. Paris 1746. Line. Settled in London 1711ndash;24. Knighted by George I. for his set of Raphael's cartoons.
Lens, Bernard. b. London 1659; d. 1725. Mezzotint.
*Gribelin, Simon. b. Blois 1661; d. England 1733. Line. Came to England 1680; engraved first complete set of Raphael's cartoons.
Lumley, George.
(Friend of Francis Place.)
b. York latter part of 17th century. Mezzotint.
White, George.
(Son and pupil of Robert White.).
b. 1671; d. 1731ndash;2. Mezzotint. Introduced slight etching into the method. Engraved also in line, and painted portraits
18th Cent.
*Simon, John (or Jean). b. Normandy 1675; d. London c. 1755. First engraved in line, then came to England and devoted himself to mezzotint.
Vertue, George. b. London 1684; d. London 1756. Line; antiquary, wrote notes on the history of arts and artists in England. Manuscripts now in the British Museum.
*Van Bleeck, Peter. b. Flanders; d. 1764. Came to England 1723 Mezzotint.
*Faber, John, sen. b. Holland; d. Bristol 1721. Mezzotint; also miniature painter. Came to England in 1687 with his son.
*Faber, John, jun.
(Son and pupil of above.)
b. Holland 1684; d. London 1746. Mezzotint. Amongst others, engraved Kit Cat Club and Hampton Court Beauties.
Hogarth, William.
(First apprenticed to silversmith.)
b. St. Bees, Durham, 1697; d. London 1764. Line engraver and painter.
Sullivan, Luke. b. co. Louth, Ireland, 1705; d. London 1771. Line. Assistant to Hogarth, and engraved some of his pictures.
*Baron, Bernard.
(Pupil of Tardieu, the French engraver.)
b. Paris c. 1700; d. London 1762. Line. Came to England in 1712. Employed by Hogarth.
Worlidge, Thomas. b. 1700; d. Hammersmith 1766. Etcher and portrait painter. Chiefly resided at Bath.
Bickham, George. d. 1769. Line and etching, draughtsman. Published "The Universal Penman;" father of George, also an engraver and draughtsman.
*Ravenet, François Simon, A.E.
(Pupil of Le Bas.)
b. Paris 1706; d. Hampstead Road 1774. Line. Came to England a little before 1745, and settled in London.
Frye, Thomas. b. near Dublin 1710; d. London 1760. Mezzotinter and portrait painter, chiefly lifesize.
Brooks, John. b. Ireland; d. London. Line and mezzotint. Master of McArdell and R. Houston. Left Dublin c. 1747, and set up a china manufactory at Battersea.
McArdell, James.
(Pupil of John Brooks, Dublin.)
b. Dublin c. 1729; d. London 1765. Mezzotint. First made use of deep etching to give effect to the method.
*Canot, Peter Charles, A.E. b. France 1710; d. London 1777. Line; chiefly sea views. Came to England 1740, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Chatelaine, John Baptiste Claude. b. London 1710; d. London 1771. Line and draughtsman. Of French Protestant parentage. Master of Vivares, for whom also he worked later on.
*Vivares, Francis.
(Pupil of Chatelaine.)
b. France 1709; d. London 1780. Line; landscape engraver. Came to London at the age of eighteen.
Tinney, John. d. 1761. Practised in London 1740ndash;50, in line and mezzotint; chiefly known as master of Woollett, Anthony Walker, and John Browne.
Major, Thomas, A.E. b. 1720; d. London 1799. Line. First Associate engraver of the Royal Academy.
Cooper, Richard. b. Yorkshire; d. Edinburgh 1764. Line and mezzotint. Practised in Edinburgh in 1730, and was the master of Strange.
Strange, Sir Robert.
(Pupil of Richard Cooper, of Edinburgh.)
b. Pomona, Orkney, 1721; d. London 1792. Line.
Houston, Richard.
(Pupil of John Brooks, of Dublin.)
b. Ireland 1721; d. London 1775. Mezzotint.
Baillie, William, Captain. b. Ireland 1723; d. 1810. Etching and mezzotint. Came to London 1741. Some years in the army.
*Bartolozzi, Francis, R.A.
(Pupil of Joseph Wagner, of Venice.)
b. Florence 1725; d. Lisbon 1815. Stipple and line. Came to England 1764, remaining here till 1802.
Ogborne, John.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
b. London c. 1725; d. c. 1795. Stipple and line.
Walker, Anthony.
(Pupil of Tinney.)
b. Salisbury 1726; d. London 1765. Line and etching.
Walker, William.
(Pupil of his brother Anthony.)
b. Thirsk 1729; d. Clerkenwell 1793. Line; introduced the process of rebiting into the practice of etching.
*Cunego, Domenico. b. Verona 1727; d. Rome 1794. Line. Came to England and engraved some plates for the Boydells.
Greenwood, John. b. Boston, America, 1729; d. Margate 1792. Mezzotint, etching, and painter. Afterwards became an auctioneer.
Spilsbury, John. b. 1730; d. London 1795. Mezzotint. Portrait painter. Gained premiums for mezzotint 1761 and 1763 from Society of Arts; also printseller.
Dawe, Philip. d. c. 1802. Mezzotint and painter, said to have worked under Hogarth. Was a pupil of the painter Henry Morland.
Basire, James.
(Pupil of Richd. Dalton, a draughtsman and engraver of moderate note.)
b. 1730; d. London 1802. Line. His father Isaac, his son James, and his grandson James, were also engravers.
Taylor, Isaac. b. Worcester 1730; d. 1807. Line. His son Isaac was also an engraver.
Fisher, Edward. b. Ireland 1730; d. London c. 1785. Mezzotint.
Finlayson, John. b. c. 1730; d. c. 1776. Mezzotint. Resided in London. Gained premiums from Society of Arts 1764 and 1773.
*Haid, Johann Gottfried.
(Pupil of his father, J. Jacob Haid.)
b. Wurtemburg 1730; d. 1776. Mezzotint. Came to England when young, and worked for Boydell, afterwards returning to Germany. His father, Johann Jacob, and his brother, Johann Elias, were also good mezzotinters.
*Jacobe, Johann. b. Vienna 1733; d. 1797. Came to London to learn mezzotint, engraved some fine plates, 1779ndash;80, and then returned to Vienna.
Pether, William.
(Pupil of Thomas Frye.)
b. Carlisle 1731; d. 1821. Mezzotint. Painter in oil and miniature draughtsman.
Woollett, William.
(Pupil of Tinney.)
b. Maidstone 1735; d. London 1785. Line.
Watts, John. Mezzotint. Engraved in London 1770ndash;86; also a printseller.
Brookshaw, Richard. b. 1736; d. c. 1804. Mezzotint. Went to Paris about 1772, where his works were greatly esteemed.
Purcell, Richard.
(Pupil of John Brooks.) Also worked under the names of C. Corbutt and (probably) H. Fowler.
b. Dublin c. 1736; d. London c. 1766. Mezzotint. Came to London c. 1755.
Phillips, Charles. b. 1737. Mezzotint. Worked chiefly after the old masters.
Ryland, William Wynne.
(Pupil of Ravenet.)
b. London 1738; d. London 1783. Line and stipple; also a printseller. Visited Paris c. 1760, and is said to have studied under Le Bas. Was hanged for forgery.
Green, Valentine, A.E. b. near Birmingham 1739; d. London 1813. Mezzotint. Engraved over twenty plates from Düsseldorf Gallery.
Hall, John.
(Pupil of Ravenet.)
b. near Colchester 1739; d. London 1797. Line.
Blackmore, Thomas. b. London c. 1740; d. c. 1780. Mezzotint. Engravings bear date about 1769ndash;71.
Dixon, John. b. Dublin c. 1740; d. early 19th century. Mezzotint. Practised in London, studied in Dublin under the painter F. West, a draughtsman of great power.
Laurie, Robert. b. London 1740; d. c. 1804. Mezzotint; also printseller. Gained premium Society of Arts 1771, and one in 1776 for facilitating printing by mezzotint in colours. Spells his name Lowry, Lowery, Lowrie, Lawrie, and finally Laurie.
Okey, Samuel. fl. 1765ndash;70. Mezzotint. Awarded premiums by Society of Arts in 1765 and 1767. Went to America in 1771, and settled at Rhode Island.
Watson, James. b. Ireland 1740; d. London 1790. Mezzotint. Father of Caroline Watson.
Browne, John, A.E.
(Pupil of Tinney and Woollett.)
b. Essex 1741; d. Walworth 1801. Line. Landscape engraver.
Watson, Thomas.
(Apprenticed to engraver on plate.)
b. London 1743; d. Bristol 1781. Mezzotint and stipple. Engraved "Windsor Beauties" after Lely; has been stated to be the brother of James W., but no relation; partner with Dickinson as printseller.
*Tassaert, Philip J. b. Antwerp; d. London 1803. Mezzotint, also line. Came to England very young. Assistant to T. Hudson the painter.
Byrne, William.
(Pupil of his uncle, a heraldic engraver, then of Aliamet and of Wille, at Paris.)
b. London 1743; d. London 1805. Line. Landscape engraver. His son John and daughters Letitia and Elizabeth also engraved, and helped him in his plates.
Earlom, Richard. b. London 1743; d. London 1822. Mezzotint and stipple. Used etching with vigorous effect. Engraved a few plates under name of H. Birche; some time a pupil of Cipriani.
Dunkarton, Robert.
(Pupil of Pether.)
b. London 1744; d. early part of 19th century. Mezzotint. Engravings bear dates 1770ndash;1811.
Cook, Thomas.
(Pupil of Ravenet.)
b. c. 1744; d. c. 1818. Line. Engraved amongst others Hogarth's works under title "Hogarth Restored."
Dickinson, William. b. London 1746; d. Paris 1823. Mezzotint and stipple. Awarded premium Society of Arts 1767. For some time partner with Thomas Watson as printseller.
Townley, Charles. b. London 1746. Mezzotint and stipple, also miniature painter. Worked at Berlin 1786ndash;92, then returned to London.
Ryder, Thomas.
(Pupil of Basire.)
b. 1746; d. 1810. Stipple. His son Thomas also engraved.
Walker, James.
(Pupil of Val. Green.)
b. 1748; d. London 1808. Mezzotint. In 1784 went to St. Petersburg, became engraver to Empress of Russia, and returned to England in 1802.
Murphy, John b. Ireland 1748; d after 1820. Mezzotint and stipple.
*Gaugain, Thomas.
(Pupil of Houston.)
b. Abbeville 1748; d. beginning 19th century. Stipple. Came very young to London.
Holloway, Thomas b. London 1748; d. 1727. Line. Known chiefly from his series of Raphael's cartoons.
Collyer, Joseph, A.E.
(Pupil of Anthony Walker.)
b. London 1748; d. 1827. Line and stipple.
Sharp, William.
(Pupil of Barak Longmate, engraver on plate.)
b. London 1749; d. Chiswick 1824. Line.
Sherwin, John Keyse.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
b. Sussex 1749; d. London 1790. Line, stipple, and painter.
Burke, Thomas.
(Pupil of Dixon.)
b. Dublin; d. London 1815. Stipple and mezzotint.
Strutt, Joseph.
(Pupil of W. Wynne Ryland.)
b. Essex 1749; d. London 1802. Stipple. Author of "Dictionary of Engravers," "Sports and Pastimes of the English," &c.
Doughty, William b. York; d. Lisbon 1782. Mezzotinter, also portrait painter. Engravings mostly dated 1779. Was a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds. Sailed for Bengal 1780, but, captured by French and Spanish squadrons, was taken instead to Lisbon.
Hudson, Henry b. London; d. abroad; fl. 1782ndash;92. Mezzotint.
Dean, John.
(Pupil of Valentine Green.)
b. c. 1750; d. London 1798. Mezzotint. Prints dated 1776ndash;89 at three addresses in Soho, at the last of which a fire destroyed nearly all his plates and stock.
Jones, John d. 1797. Mezzotint and stipple. Father of George Jones (b. 1786), R.A., the painter.
Parker, James.
(Pupil of Basire.)
b. 1750; d. London 1805. Line. Joined Willaim Blake in keeping a print shop in 1784.
Simon, Peter J. b. c. 1750; d. c. 1810. Stipple.
*Facius, George Sigmund.    Brothers. b. Ratisbon c. 1750. Stipple. Came to London in 1766 at the request of Boydell.
*Facius, John Gottlieb.
Morris, Thomas.
(Pupil of Woollett.)
b. c. 1750; fl. 1795. Line. Engraved Views of St. Paul's and the Monument.
Middiman, Samuel.
(Pupil of Byrne.)
b. 1750; d. London 1831. Line. Landscape engraver.
Saunders, J. fl. 1772ndash;74. Mezzotint.
*Marchi, Giuseppe Filippo Liberati. b. Rome 1752; d. London 1808. Mezzotint. Brought to England 1769 by Sir J. Reynolds, who employed him as an assistant.
Smith, John Raphael. b. Derby 1752; d. Doncaster 1812. Mezzotint and stipple. Painter in miniature and crayons and printseller. Father of Emma Smith the engraver.
Bewick, Thomas.
(Pupil of Beilby, an engraver at Newcastle.)
b. Northumberland 1753; d. Gateshead 1828. Wood engraver; also copperplate. His brother John was likewise a wood engraver.
Nutter, William.
(Pupil of J. R. Smith.)
b. 1754; d. London 1802. Stipple.
Young, John.
(Pupil of J. R. Smith.)
b. 1755; d. London 1825. Mezzotint. Published catalogues with etchings of the Grosvenor (1820), Leigh Court (1822), Angerstein (1823), and Stafford (1826) Galleries.
Grozer, Joseph. fl. 1786ndash;97. Mezzotint.
Pollard, Robert.
(Pupil of a silversmith.)
b. Newcastle-on-Tyne 1755; d. 1838. Etching, aquatint, and painter; last surviving member of Incorporated Society of Artists; in 1836 gave over to Royal Academy the papers of the Society.
Legat, Francis. b. Scotland 1755; d. London 1869. Line. Studied under Alex. Runciman, the Edinburgh painter.
Gillray, James.
(Pupil of heraldic engraver.)
b. Lanarkshire 1720; d. London 1815. Etcher and line. Caricaturist.
Heath, James, A.E.
(Pupil of Collyer.)
b. London 1757; d. London 1834. Line. Father of Charles Heath.
Blake, William.
(Pupil of Basire.) 2nd of the name.
b. Broad Street, Golden Square, London, 1757; d. Fountain Court, Strand; buried Bunhill Fields, 1827. Line, stipple, and etching. Poet and painter.
Haward, Francis, A.E. b. 1759; d. London c. 1797. Mezzotint and stipple.
Thew, Robert. b. Yorkshire 1758; d. Herts 1802. Stipple.
Smith, Anker, A.E.
(Pupil of James Taylor, who was brother and uncle respectively of the two Isaac Taylors, engravers of some note.)
b. London 1759; d. London 1819. Line.
Sheppeard, George. b. c. 1760; fl. 1794. Mezzotint and stipple.
Tomkins, P. W.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
b. London 1760; d. 1840. Stipple. Designer.
Park, Thomas. b. 1760; d. Hampstead 1835. Mezzotint. Author.
Cheeseman, Thomas.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
b. 1760; d. after 1820. Stipple. Draughtsman.
Watson, Caroline.
(Daughter of James Watson.)
b. London 1760; d. Pimlico 1814. Stipple.
Judkins, Elizabeth.
(Said to be pupil of James Watson.)
fl. 1772ndash;75. Mezzotint. Engraved "Mrs. Abingdon" and "Careful Shepherdess," amongst others, after Sir J. Reynolds.
Keating, George.
(Pupil of William Dickinson.)
b. Ireland 1762; fl. London 1784ndash;97. Mezzotint. Stipple.
*Ramberg, John Henry. b. Hanover 1763; d. c. 1840. Aquatint, etching, stipple. Painter. Came early in life to England, but is said to have died at Hanover.
*Schiavonetti, Luigi. b. Bassano 1765; d. Brompton 1810. Line, stipple. Draughtsman. Came to England in 1790, and joined Bartolozzi.
Knight, Charles. fl. latter part of 18th century. Stipple.
Summerfield, John.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
d. Buckinghamshire 1817. Line.
Skelton, William.
(Pupil of Basire and Sharp.)
b. London 1763; d. Pimlico 1848. Line.
Nugent, Thomas. b. Drogheda; fl. end of 18th century. Stipple.
Dupont, Gainsborough. b. 1767; d. London 1797. Mezzotint. Painter. Nephew and pupil of Thomas Gainsborough.
Bromley, William, A.E.
(Pupil of Wooding, a line engraver in London.)
b. Isle of Wight 1769; d. 1842. Line. Father of John Charles, and James Bromley, the mezzotint engravers.
Warren, Charles. b. London 1767; d. Wandsworth 1823. Line. Perfected a process of engraving on steel plates tried by Raimbach. Awarded gold medal Society of Arts.
Ward, William, A.E.
(Pupil of J. R. Smith.)
b. London 1766; d. London 1826. Mezzotint. Married sister of George Morland, father of William Ward, junior.
19th Cent.
Ward, James, R.A.
(Nine years pupil of his brother William, J. R. Smith.)
b. London 1769; d. 1855. Mezzotint. Animal painter.
Landseer, John, A.E.
(Pupil of William Byrne.)
b. Lincoln 1769; d. 1852. Line. Father of the painters Charles and Sir Edwin, R.A.'s, and of the engraver Thomas.
Say, William.
(Pupil of James Ward.)
b. near Norwich 1768; d. London 1834. Mezzotint. Engraved first successful mezzotint on steel.
Cooper, Robert. fl. early part of 19th century. Stipple.
Hodges, Charles Howard. b. England; d. Amsterdam 1837. Mezzotint and painter. Went to Holland c. 1794.
*Cardon, Anthony.
(Pupil of Schiavonetti.)
b. Brussels 1773; d. London 1813. Stipple. Came to England in 1790.
Godby, James. fl. beginning 19th century. Stipple.
Smith, Benjamin.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
d. London 1833. Stipple.
Clint, George, A.R.A. b. London 1770; d. Kensington 1854. Mezzotint; also portrait and miniature painter.
Reynolds, Samuel Wm.
(Pupil of Hodges.)
b. 1773; d. Bayswater 1835. Mezzotint, portrait, and water-colour painter. Father of Elizabeth, mezzotint engraver and miniature painter, and Samuel William, mezzotint engraver and portrait painter.
Turner, Charles, A.E. b. Woodstock 1773; d. London 1857. Mezzotint and stipple.
Scott, John.
(Pupil of Pollard.)
b. Newcastle-on-Tyne 1774; d. Chelsea 1828. Line, animal engraver.
Scriven, Edward.
(Pupil of Thew.)
b. Alcester 1775; d. London 1841. Stipple.
Raimbach, Abraham.
(Pupil of J. Hall.)
b. London 1776; d. Greenwich 1843. Line.
Noble, George. fl. beginning of 19th century. Line.
Engleheart, Francis.
(Pupil of Collyer.)
b. London 1775; d. 1849. Line.
Nesbitt, Charlton.
(Pupil of Beilby and Bewick.)
b. near Durham 1775; d. Brompton 1838. Wood engraver.
Branston, Robert.
(Pupil of his father, a copperplate engraver.)
b. Lynn 1778; d. Brompton 1827. Wood engraver.
Clennell, Luke.
(Pupil of Bewick.)
b. near Morpeth 1781; d. Newcastle-on-Tyne 1840. Wood engraver, water-colour, and miniature painter.
Cooke, William Bernard.
(Pupil of Angus, an engraver in line of some note.)
b. 1778; d. 1855. Line. Brother of George and uncle of E. W. Cooke, R.A.
Cooke, George.
(Pupil of Basire.)
b. London 1781; d. Barnes 1834. Line. Brother of Wm. Bernard, and father of E. W. Cooke, R.A.
Lewis, Frederick Christian. b. London 1779; d. Enfield 1856. Stipple or chalk; water-colour painter. Father of J. F. Lewis, R.A., and C. G. Lewis the engraver.
Dawe, George, R.A.
(Son and pupil of Philip Dawe.)
b. London 1781; d. 1829. Mezzotint; painter. Brother of Henry. Painted in Russia for the Emperor 1819ndash;28.
Dawe, Henry.
(Son and pupil of Philip Dawe.)
b. London 1790; d. Windsor 1845. Mezzotint and painter.
Pye, John.
(Pupil of James Heath.)
b. Birmingham 1782; d. London 1874. Line and stipple. Landscape engraver.
Wedgwood, John Taylor. b. 1783; d. London 1856. Line.
Meyer, Henry.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
b. London c. 1783; d. 1847. Mezzotint; and stipple. Nephew of J. Hoppner, R.A.
Le Keux, John    Brothers. b. London 1787; d. 1868. Line, architectural, and landscape engravers.
Le Keux, Henry b. London 1783; d. 1846.
(Pupils of Basire.)
Armstrong, Cosmo. fl. early part of 19th century. Line.
Radclyffe, William. b. Birmingham 1782; d. Birmingham 1855. Line, landscape engraver; practised in Birmingham all his life. Father of Edward, landscape engraver.
Burnet, John, F.R.S. b. Edinburgh 1784; d. Stoke Newington 1868. Line and mezzotint. Painter and author.
Heath, Charles.
(Son of James Heath.)
b. 1785; d. 1848. Line; excelled in small plates.
Golding, Richard.
(Pupil of J. Parker.)
b. London 1785; d. Lambeth 1865. Line.
Woolnoth, Thomas. b. 1785; d. c. 1854. Stipple and line. Small theatrical portraits and architectural views.
Thompson, John.
(Pupil of Branston.)
b. London 1785; d. London 1866. Wood engraver. Brother of Charles and Charles Thurston.
Romney, John. b. 1786; d. Chester 1863. Line.
Thompson, Charles.
(Pupil of Bewick and Branston.)
b. London 1791; d. near Paris 1843. Wood engraver; better known in Paris, where he went in 1816, and introduced the practice of cutting out the end of the wood, then unknown abroad.
Bond, William. fl. beginning of 19th century. Stipple.
Chapman, J.
(Pupil of Bartolozzi.)
fl. beginning of 19th century. Stipple.
Webb, J. b. c. 1790; d. 1832. Line. Engraver of animals.
Finden, Wm.    Brothers. b. 1792; d. 1857. Stipple and line. Landscape and book illustrators.
Finden, E. F. b. 1788; d. 1852.
(Pupils of J. Mitan, an engraver of some note.)
Walker, William.
(Pupil of Thomas Woolnoth, and Mitchell and Stewart, two engravers of moderate note.)
b. Midlothian 1791; d. London 1867. Stipple and mezzotint. Married Elizabeth, daughter of S. W. Reynolds.
Lupton, Thomas Goff.
(Pupil of Clint.)
b. Clerkenwell 1791; d. 1873. Mezzotint. Established the use of steel in place of copper in mezzo engraving. Received for this gold Isis medal from Society of Arts in 1822.
Linnell, John. b. 1792; d. c. 1880. Mezzotint; painter.
Cruikshank, George.
(Son of Isaac, also caricaturist and engraver.)
b. London 1792; d. London 1878. Etcher and caricaturist.
Worthington, Wm. H. b. c. 1795; d. 1826. Line. Worked in London.
Goodall, Edward. b. Leeds 1795; d. London 1870. Line. Engraved after J. M. W. Turner, through whose influence he became an engraver. Was self-taught.
Landseer, Thomas, A.E.
(Son and pupil of John Landseer, A.E.)
b. c. 1795; d. 1880. Line. Brother of Sir Edwin.
Hopwood, James.
(Son of James; also an engraver, self-taught, but helped by Heath.)
b. 1795. Stipple.
Rolls, Charles. fl. early part of 19th century. Line.
Bromley, John Charles.
(Son of Wm. Bromley, A.E.)
b. Chelsea 1795; d. 1839. Mezzzotint. His son Frederick was also an engraver.
Harvey, William.
(Pupil of Thomas Bewick and B. R. Haydon.)
b. Newcastle-on-Tyne 1796; d. Richmond 1866. Wood engraver and designer. Cut one of the largest English wood-cuts.
Robinson, John. Henry, R.A.
(Pupil of James Heath.)
b. Bolton 1796; d. Petworth 1871. Line.
Graves, Robert, A.E.
(Pupil of John Romney.)
b. London 1798; d. Highgate 1873. Line.
Watt, James Henry.
(Pupil of Charles Heath.)
b. London 1799; d. 1867. Line.
Bromley, James.
(Son of William Bromley, A.E.)
b. 1800; d. 1838. Mezzotint.
Ward, William, junior.
(Son of William Ward, A.E.)
b. c. 1800; d. 1840. Mezzotint.
Willmore, James Tibbetts, A.E.
(Seven years pupil of W. Radclyffe, and three years of C. Heath.)
b. Erdington, Staffordshire, 1800; d. London 1863. Line. Engraved after J. M. W. Turner.
Raddon, W. fl. 1830. Line.
Hodgetts, J. fl. 1830. Mezzotint.
Jackson, John.
(Pupil of Bewick and Harvey.)
b. Ovingham 1801; d. 1848. Wood engraver. Published with Chatto "A Treatise on Wood Engraving," 1838.
Gibbon, Benjamin Phelps.
(Pupil of J. H. Robinson and Scriven).
b. 1802; d. London 1851. Line.
Shenton, Henry Chawner.
(Pupil of Charles Warren.)
b. Winchester 1803; d. London 1866. Line.
Giller, W. fl. 1835. Mezzotint.
Brandard, Robert.
(Pupil of E. Goodall.)
b. Birmingham 1805; d. 1852. Line, landscape engraver. Came to London 1824. Engraved after J. M. W. Turner.
Lewis, Charles George. b. 1807; d. 1880. Line, etching.
Lucas, John.
(Pupil of S. W. Reynolds.)
b. London 1807; d. London 1874. Mezzotint; portrait painter.
Radclyffe, Edward.
(Son and pupil of William Radclyffe.)
b. Birmingham 1809; d. London 1863. Line.
Joubert, Jean Ferdinand. b. 1810; d. 1884. Line.
Zobel, George. b. c. 1815; d. London 1881. Mezzotint.
Jeens, Charles Henry. b. 1817; d. 1879. Stipple. Miniature book illustrations.
Jackson, John Richardson.
(Pupil of R. Graves, A.E.)
b. Portsmouth 1819; d. Southsea 1877. Mezzotint and line.
Cousins, Henry.
(Brother of Saml. Cousins, R.A.)
fl. 1840. Mezzotint.
Ward, George Raphael.
(Son of James Ward.)
fl. 1840. Mezzotint.
There are still living three engravers eminently representative of the old schools:--
Doo, George, R.A., F.R.S. b. c. 1800. Line.
Posselwhite, J. Stipple.
Cousins, Samuel, R.A. b. 1801. Mezzotint. The present T. L. Atkinson was a pupil of Cousins.


1 At the present day line engravers sometimes work on steel plates, as they are capable of supplying without damage a much greater number of proofs than can be printed from copper plates. It more frequently happens that a copper plate is coated with steel before being submitted to the action of the press, in order to preserve it, and to increase the number of copies without taking off the edge of the workmanship. That is to say, that by means of "electrotyping" a thin coat of metal is superimposed, which, since it considerably increases the power of endurance, increases the productiveness of the plate and the number of proofs that can be taken.

2 Papillon, "Traité de la Gravure en Bois," 1766, vol. i., ch. 1.

3 Pliny, "Hist. Nat.," xxxv., c. 2.

4 "Materiali per servire alla Storia dell' Incisione," &c., p. 83 and following.

5 That is the "Treatises on Latin Syntax" by Ælius Donatus, a grammarian of the fourth century. In the Middle Ages these treatises were much used in schools.

6 Published by John Koelhoff under the name of "Cronica van der hilliger Stat van Coellen," p. 31 and after.

7 "Essai historique et critique sur l'Invention de l'Imprimerie." Lille, 1859.

8 This, at any rate, is what we feel tempted to do as regards the "Biblia Pauperum," a book containing xylographic illustrations, whose date has been variously estimated, and which we are disposed to believe even older than the first edition of the "Speculum." Heinecken, as usual, claims for Germany the production of this precious collection, which Ottley, with more appearance of reason, regards as the work of an artist of the Low Countries, who worked about 1420. In this way Germany would only have the right to claim the plates added in the German editions published forty years later, and which are far less perfect in point of style and arrangement than those of the original edition.

9 The Dutch word coster means churchwarden, or beadle.

10 "Ideé générale d'une Collection d'Estampes, 1771," p. 305.

11 "Discours Historique sur la Gravure." Paris, 1808.

12 See in "L'Artiste," 1839, an article entitled "La plus ancienne Gravure du Cabinet des Estampes de la Bibliothèque royale est-elle ancienne?"

13 "Notice sur deux Estampes de 1406, et sur les Commencements de la Gravure en Criblé." "Gazette des Beaux-arts," t. I^{er}, 2^e période, 1869.

14 "Le Peintre-Graveur," Leipzig, 1860, vol. i., p. 84.

15 "Une Passion de 1446. Suite de Gravures au Burin, les premières avec Date." Montpellier, 1857.

16 "Archiv für die Zeichnenden Künste," 1858.

17 The "Pax" is a metal plate which, at high mass and during the singing of the "Agnus Dei," the officiating priest gives to be kissed by the clergy and the devout, addressing to each of them these words: "Pax tecum." The "Pax" made by Finiguerra for the Baptistery of St. John has been removed from thence to the Uffizi, where it still is.

18 It is useless to adduce the fine "Profile of a Woman," discovered a few years ago at Bologna, and now the property of the Berlin Museum, as an argument against the poverty we are trying to prove. This very important document is not only of uncertain date, but, as we have remarked elsewhere, the nature of its execution and style forbid one to look upon it as the work of any Florentine artist.

19 Martin Schongauer was born at Colmar, in which town his father had settled as a goldsmith; there he passed the greatest part of his life, and there he died in 1488. Vasari sometimes speaks of him as "Antwerp Martin," or "Martin the Fleming." This is easily explained: a German or Flemish artist would be all one in the eyes of a Tuscan of the fifteenth century, as strangers were all barbarians to the ancient Romans.

20 This is by no means universally admitted to be a genuine work by Martin Schongauer.

21 He had no fewer than eighteen children; Albert was the third.

22 Herr Moriz Thausing has treated this question exhaustively in his important work on Albert Dürer.

23 The oldest known dated engraving by Marc Antonio, the "Pyramus and Thisbe," bears the date of 1505. If Marc Antonio, as we have reason to think, was born about 1480, he must have been already over twenty when he published this extremely commonplace print.

24 Michael Huber ("Manuel des Curieux et des Amateurs de l'Art," t. iii.) says, word for word: "All that is wanted in these prints is a richer handling and that general aspect which we admire in the subjects engraved from Rubens." One might as well say that Petrarch's style would be improved by being Ariosto's.

25 Agostino Caracci, who deserves to be numbered amongst the cleverest engravers of the end of the sixteenth century, did not blush to devote his talents to a similar publication, serious in style, but of most obscene intention. The Bolognese artist, like his celebrated countryman, seems to have wished to display at once his science and his shamelessness. The one only serves to make the other more inexcusable, and it is even still more difficult to tolerate this austere immodesty than the licentiousness, without æsthetic pretension, which characterises the little French prints sold under the rose in the eighteenth century.

26 Passavant: "Le Peintre-Graveur," iii. 5.

27 "Les Maîtres d'Autrefois," p. 165.

28 In the National Library at Paris a collection of over a hundred trial proofs, retouched by Rubens himself, exists to bear witness to the careful attention with which he overlooked the work of his engravers.

29 At the time of Callot's birth Lorraine was not yet French territory; but as it was during his life that Nancy was taken by the king's army, we have a right to include him among French artists.

30 He was in all twelve years in Italy: three in Rome, and nine in Florence.

31 William Faithorne, the first line engraver worth mentioning in the history of English art, did not even begin to be known till after Charles I. After the king's fall, Faithorne, who was a Royalist, went to France, where, under Nanteuil, he perfected himself in his art, and did not finally settle in England till near the end of 1650.

32 Hollar is not merely one of the most distinguished of German engravers. There are few artists in any country who have handled the needle with so much skill and intelligence; there is probably none who has so greatly excelled in rendering the details of apparel and of the daintiest objects. His achievement numbers more than 2,000 prints, which, in spite of their small size, and the generally trifling nature of the subjects, deserve to be classed amongst the most remarkable etched work of the seventeenth century.

33 His first plates are sometimes signed "De Leeuw," sometimes "Tomaes de Leu," which has led many writers—M. Robert-Dumesnil among them—to suppose that he migrated to Paris from a town in Flanders.

34 It represents a "Holy Family," with this inscription on a stone, to the right: "R. Nanteuil Philosophiæ Auditor Sculpebat Rhemis An^o dni 1645."

35 These flights were not Nanteuil's last. There is extant a sort of petition in verse, which he one day presented to Louis XIV. to excuse himself for not having finished in time a portrait ordered by the king. These rhymes, quoted by the Abbé Lambert in his "Histoire Littéraire du Règne de Louis XIV.," and some others composed by Nanteuil in praise of Mlle. de Scudéry, are not such to make us regret that he did not more frequently lay aside the graver for the pen.

36 The greater part of Nanteuil's drawings are in three crayons, made out in places with light tints in pastel. The colour is sober and delicate, and offers a good deal of resemblance to the charming French crayons of the sixteenth century. Nanteuil doubtless produced many portraits which he never engraved, but he engraved very few that he had not previously produced. It must also be remarked, that in his achievement, which is composed of more than two hundred and thirty pieces, there are not more than eighteen subject pictures or illustrations. It is worthy, too, of special note that there are only eight portraits in which the hands are seen, and in six of these only one hand is shown.

37 "Édit de Saint Jean-de-Luz," 1660.

38 Claude, it is true, was still alive in 1667; but after his second installation in Rome (1627), he never saw France again.

39 Vitet: "Eustache Lesueur."

40 It is said that Lebrun one day proclaimed that Audran had "improved his pictures." It is possible he may have said, "that he had not spoilt them." Such an expression in the mouth of such a man is quite modest enough; but it is difficult to imagine Lebrun so far humbling himself in public.

41 We said that Edelinck was born at Antwerp; but as he was very young when he took up his abode in France, and as he never returned to his native country, we may be allowed to include him in the French school with as much right as his countryman, Philippe de Champaigne.

42 Amongst Audran's most distinguished scholars, we need only mention the following names: Gaspard Duchange; Dorigny, summoned to London by Queen Anne; Louis Desplaces; and Nicolas Henri Tardieu, founder of a family of clever engravers, the last of whom died in 1844, worthy of the name he bore.

43 Engraver of the "Assumption" of Philippe de Champaigne. He must not be confused with another Bartholomew Kilian, his ancestor, and the head of a family in which there are no less than twenty engravers.

44 Some of these little unpretentious amateur prints are not without charm; some even show a certain amount of talent in the execution, and the portraits drawn and engraved by Carmontelle, the author of the "Proverbes," deserve, amongst others, to be mentioned on that account.

45 In his landscapes, Woollett makes use of etching, line, and the dry-point, all three. Philippe Le Bas was the first to make use of dry-point to render the misty tones of distances and the clearness of skies. This mode of engraving, improved by Vivarès, was carried to its highest perfection by Woollett. Certain English artists of the same period tried to apply the process of mezzotint to landscape engraving; but the landscapes engraved in this way by Watson and Brookshaw, after the German Kobell, will not bear comparison with Woollett's.

46 In a work dedicated to Pitt, "On the Origin of Trade and its History to the Present Times" (London, 1790), we read that the prints exported from England at that time were, as compared with those imported from France, in the proportion of "five hundred to one by the most exact computation," and that the trade in English engravings, far from being restricted to one or two countries, extended all over Europe.

47 The credit of the invention is really due to Jean Charles François, born at Nancy in 1717. But the application that François made of his discovery was—if we consider the improvements introduced soon afterwards by Demarteau—still so incomplete that it seems only fair to attribute to the latter a principal share in the original success.

48 "Lettre de Cochin, Secrétaire perpétuel de l'Académie, au Sieur François," 26th November, 1757.

49 Before giving himself up almost exclusively to the practice of aquatint, Debucourt produced a large number of engravings in colour: "Le Jardin" and "La Galerie de Bois au Palais Royal," the "Promenade aux Tuileries," "L'Escalade," and so forth. We know the ardour, verging on mania, with which these prints, albeit of little value from an artistic point of view, are now collected.

50 This important publication contains, in four sections, the most remarkable pictures and sculptures of the Louvre, as it existed after Napoleon had enriched it with masterpieces from every school. Begun in 1802, it was continued till 1811.

51 This fine cathedral, burnt with so many other churches in the great fire, was 690 feet in length, 130 feet broad, and 520 feet high at the top of the spire.

52 The tear-shaped pieces of glass (Lachrimæ Vitreæ), which resist hard blows applied at the thick end, yet fly to pieces the moment a fragment is broken off the fine end, were first brought to England by Prince Rupert, and are called popularly "Prince Rupert's drops."

53 This print represents a tall, powerful-looking man, standing with naked sword in one hand, and holding up in the other the head of St. John the Baptist.

54 Other names given to mezzotint out of England are: Schwarzkunst, black art; La manière anglaise, L'incisione a foggia nera, engraving in black fashion or manner.

55 This engraver must not be confused with John Keyse Sherwin, whose line engravings produced a century later are well known.

56 This Club was instituted in 1703, the year after the accession of Queen Anne, to promote the Protestant succession, the members meeting at the "Cat and Fiddle" in Shire Lane, Fleet Street, kept by Christopher Kat, from whom it took the name. The particular size known amongst artists as Kit-cat, just below the waist and not quite three-quarter length, also acquired its name from this series of portraits, which were painted their particular length to suit the walls of Tonson's villa at Barn Elms.

57 John Riley, Jonathan Richardson, Michael Dahl, John Closterman, John Vanderbank, and Thomas Hudson.

58 The date of McArdell's birth is often erroneously given as 1710 instead of 1728ndash;9 according to the above authority.

59 James Walker must not be confused either with Anthony and his brother William, or with the stipple and mezzotint engraver William Walker of the present century. James Walker's prints are not numerous, a great number of his plates and prints having been lost from the foundering of the vessel which was bringing them back to England from Russia, where Walker had lived for seventeen years, having been appointed in 1784 engraver to the Empress Catherine.

60 A painter more generally known as Langen Jan, born at Munster in 1610, the correct name being John or Johann van Bockhorst; the name, however, appears as above in the engraving.

61 On the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1768, Bartolozzi, to the exclusion of Strange and Woollett, was admitted one of the first forty members with full membership; all engravers afterwards up to the year 1855 could only be elected as associate members.

62 This engraver was in no way related to the better-known stipple and historical engraver of the same name who flourished in the present century.

63 Woollett was buried in Old St. Pancras Churchyard; on a plain
tombstone which marks the spot were found one day written in pencil
the two lines—

"Here Woollett rests, expecting to be sav'd
He graved well, but is not well engrav'd."

Shortly afterwards a subscription was raised, to which Benjamin West and John Boydell contributed, for the purpose of erecting the above-mentioned tablet which now stands in the West Cloister.

64 Opie painted a life-size head of S. W. Reynolds, and of his daughter Elizabeth as "Red Riding Hood" (exhibited at the winter exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1876); this portrait of herself Elizabeth engraved in mezzotint at the age of fourteen.

65 Father of the late E. W. Cooke, R.A.

66 Walker engraved the portrait of Raeburn with the special purpose of proving the contrary.

67 John Lucas, the well-known portrait painter and also engraver in mezzotint, was likewise a pupil of Reynolds.

68 The plate of Salisbury Cathedral was engraved at Constable's expense and published in 1837 by Messrs. Hodgson, Graves and Co., for the painter. After his sudden death in the same year it was sold at Foster's, Pall Mall, in 1838, and bought in for eighty guineas, hardly the price of two proofs at the present time.

Through the kindness of Mr. Algernon Graves, the writer has had access to many manuscript notes written by David Lucas.

69 Brother of Samuel Cousins, R.A.

70 Better known in France, where he settled in 1816, he died in the neighbourhood of Paris in 1843, and introduced there the mode of cutting on the end of the grain instead of with the grain as was before the practice.

71 First introduced in 1840, although not in general practice until some years later.

72 On the principle of that which is known as "engine turning," as seen on the back of watch-cases.

73 It is also necessary to point out that no impression damaged from course of time or printed from a worn-out plate can give any idea of the original engraving as a work of art. Other things being equal, proofs are primâ facie likely to be the best impressions, but a good print (that is a later impression), if in good condition, is far more valuable than a damaged or rubbed proof, however early the state may be.



Agesilaus, King of Sparta 8
Agostino, Veniziano 106
Aldegrever 93
Ambling, Gustave 209
Amman, Jost 175
Andrea, Zoan 74
Andreani, Andrea 111
Andrews, J. 328
Antonio da Brescia, Giovanni 74
Ardell 172, 300, 301
Aretino, Pietro 109, 110, 136
D'Argenville 224
Atkinson 324
Aveline 216
Audran, Gérard 6, 178, 194202, 207, 211, 216, 237
Baillie, Will 310
Baldini, Baccio 6065
Balechou 229231
Barbari, Jacopo de' 74
Barlow, F. 291, 292
Bartolozzi 237239, 305, 313, 314
Battista del Porto 77
Baudet, Étienne 189
Beatrizet, Nicolas 151
Beauvarlet 226
Beckett, Isaac 297, 298
Beham, Bartholomew 93, 94
Beham, Hans Sebald 93, 94
Bella, Stefano della 162
Berghem 139
Bernard, Auguste 12
Bernhardinus, Milnet 44
Bernini 168
Bertinot 278
Bervic 249, 252255, 259, 260, 274
Bewick 315, 326
Binck, Jacob 94
Biot 285
Blackmore 302
Blake, W. 310, 311
Blanchard 278
Blootelingh, Abraham 297
"B M" 85
Bochelt, Franz von 84
Boldrini, Nicolò 116
Bolswert 132, 133, 149, 177
Bonasone, da Bologna 106
Bonnet 242
Bonzonnet, Claudine 189
Borromini 168
Bosse, Abraham 164, 166, 169, 207
Both, Jan 139
Botticelli 60, 62
Boulanger 237
Boydell 315
Boyvin, René 151
Branston, R. 326
Brauwer, Adrian 139
Breughels 134
Bromley 320
Brookshaw 234, 302
Browne, John 307
Bruyn, Nicolas van 131
Burgkmair, Hans 113
Burke 314
Burnet, John 320
Burt 328344
Calamatta 269
Callot, Jacques 138, 156166, 175177, 205
Canta-Gallina 158, 162
Cantarini 162
Caracci, Agostino 110, 138, 158
Caracci, Annibale 168
Caraglio, Giovanni, da Verona 106
Cardon, Anthony 313
Carmona 226
Carmontelle 224
Carpi, Ugo da 111, 112
Cars, Laurent 213216
Casilear 329
Caylus, Count 224, 240
Cerceau, du, Adrian 155
Chapman 327
Chauveau 204
Chedel 217
Cheesman 314
Cheney 328
Chevreuse, Duc de 224
Chodowiecki 228
Church 327
Cipriani 237
Claessens, Alart 130
Clennell 326
Clint, George 320
Cochin 218, 219, 240
Coigny, Marquis de 224
Cooke, George William 320
Copia 252
Corneille, Claude 153
Cornelis 134
Cornelius 94
Cort, Cornelius 130
Cortona, da, Pietro 198
Coster, Laurence 14, 16, 22, 28
Cousin 150, 151
Cousins, Henry 324
Cousins, Samuel 266, 267, 322
Cranach, Lucas 113
Cunego, Domenichino 228
Cunio, Cavaliere Alberico 9
Dagoty, Gautier 243
Danforth 329
Danguin 278
Daullé 226
David, Emeric 10, 31
David, Louis 248, 250
Dawe, Henry 320
Dean, John 302
De Bry 287
Debucourt 245
De Kaiser 285
Delaram, François 289
Delaune, Étienne 151, 153, 154
De Leu, Thomas 156, 157, 179
Demarteau, Gilles 239242
De Passe, Crispin 288
De Passe, Magdalen 288
De Passe, Simon 288
Desnoyers, Boucher 249, 259, 260, 270, 274
Desplaces, Louis 201
Deuchar, David 310
Dick 328
Dickinson 172, 302
Dienecker, Jost. 111
Dixon, John 302
Domenichino 168
Doo 324
Dorigny 201
Drevet, Claude 211
Drevet, Imbert 211
Drevet, Pierre 211
Duchange, Gaspard 201
Duflos 216
Du Jardin, Karel 140
Dumonstier, Geofroy 151
Dupuis 216, 226
Durand 328
Dürer, Albert 17, 8795, 97100, 102, 106, 112, 113, 116, 120, 122, 128, 176, 177
Duveneck 327
Duvet, Jean 151, 152
Earlom 172, 302, 303
Edelinck 184186, 189, 191196, 200, 220
Edwin, David 328
Elstracke, Reginald 289
Faber, John, senior 298, 299
Faber, John, junior 298, 299345
Fairman 329
Faithorne, Will 170, 289
Felsing 263
Finiguerra 35, 38, 47, 5256, 62, 76
Fiquet 218, 220, 222, 223
Fisher, Edward 301
Flipart 217
Forrest, J. B. 328
Francia, Francesco 102
Francia, Jacopo 74
Franck 285
François, Alphonse 278
François, Jean Charles 239242
François, Jules 276
Frye, Thomas 300, 301
Füst 29
Gaillard 278
Gantrel 189
Garnier, Noel 151
Gaugain, Thomas 313
Gaultier, Leonard 156, 179
Gaywood, R. 292
Geminus, Thomas 288
Gherardo da Modena 82
Ghisi, Diana 106
Gifford 327
Giller, William 324
Gilli 282
Gimbrede 328
Giolito da Ferrari 115
Giotto 53
Girard 246
Glockenton 85
Golding, Richard 320
Goltzius, Hendrik 130, 131
Gomboust, Jacques 203
Gourmont, Jean de 153
Goya 139
Grateloup 220
Gravelle, de, President 224
Graves, Robert 324
Greche, Domenico delle 116
Green, Valentine 172, 302
Greenwood, John 301
Greuze 216
Grün, Baldung 93
Gutenburg 8, 1315, 17, 18, 28, 35, 47, 49, 51, 53, 54, 60, 7678, 82, 86, 176
Haden, Seymour 282, 325, 326
Haid 304
Hainzelmann, Johann 208
Hamerton 326
Hardouin 82
Harvey, Will 326
Heath, Charles 320, 329
Heath, James 309, 315
Henriquel-Dupont 271277
Hogarth, William 231233, 300, 304
Hogenberg, François 288
Hogenberg, Remigius 288
Hollar 170, 171, 177, 287, 290292
Hopwood, James 320
Houbraken, J. 228
Houston, Richard 301
Huot 278
Il Vecchio da Parma 106
Ingram 226
Jackson 324, 326
Jacobe 304
Jacobi 285
Jacquemart 280283
Jazet 245, 246
Jeens, C. H. 314
Jeens, J. H. 325
Jones, John 302
Kauffmann, Angelica 237
Kaulbach 94
Keller, Franz 262
Kilian, Bartholomew 209
Kirkall, Edw. 311313
Klaus 285
Kobell 234
Laborde, Léon 12, 3638
Landseer, John 320
Larmessin, Nicolas de 216
Lasne, Michel 180
Lastman 243
Laugier 276346
Law, David 326
Lawrie, Robert 302
Le Bas 216, 234
Leblond, J. Christophe 242, 243, 311, 312
Lebrun 184, 187, 189, 194, 196, 198, 199
Leclerc, Sebastien 184, 204
Legat, F. 309
Le Joséphin 158
Lepautre 204
Lepicié 216, 230
Leprince, J. B. 244
Le Roy, Philip 134
Levasseur 217
Lewis 324
Leyden, Lucas van 118131, 134, 176
Linton 326
Longhi 256
Lorraine, Claude 138, 160, 162, 165, 167, 177
Louis, Aristide 276
Loutherbourg 231
Lucas, David 322324
Lucas, John 322
Ludy 262
Lupton, Thomas 320
Lutma, Jan 238
Lützelburger 113115
Luynes, Duchess of 224
"Maitre à l'Écrevisse" 130
"Maitre à l'Étoile" 130
Major, Thomas 304
Mantegna, Andrea 6874, 85, 124, 176, 177
Mantovani 106
Marc Antonio, Raimondi 66, 73, 91, 92, 100113, 120, 122, 124, 133, 176178
Marc de Bye 140
Marco da Ravenna 106
Marcolini da Forli 115
Marshall 329
Massaloff 282
Massard 250
Massé 229
Masson 189, 194, 211
"Master of the Bird" 77
"Master of the Caduceus" 74
"Master of Colmar" 76
"Master of Nuremberg" 94
"Master of the Streamers" 118
"Master of 1466" 49, 51, 53, 7678, 82, 86
"Masters, The Little" 93, 162, 169, 177
Mechenen, Israel van 84
Mellan, Claude 180
Memling 22
Mendel 263
Mercuri 269
Merian, Matthew 170
Merz 262
Meyer, Henry 320
Mignard 194, 196
Mocetto 74, 75
Molés, Pascal 226
Montenay, Georgette de 156
Moran 327
Morel 250
Morghen 106, 255258, 260, 269
Morin, Jean 6, 179, 181, 211, 237
Morris, Thomas 309
Moser 237
Müller, Christian Fred 258261
Müller, Jan 130, 131
Müller, John Godard 258, 259
Musi, Agostino 151
Nanteuil, Robert 180184, 186, 189192, 194, 202, 209, 211, 220
Nesbitt 326
Niccoló della Casa 152
Niccoló, of Pisa 53
Nicoletto da Modena 74, 82
Ogborn, John 314
Ostade, Adrian van 139
Ottley 328
Parrish, Stephen 327
Peale, Charles Wilson 328
Pencz, Georg 93
Pennell 327
Perkins 329347
Pesne, Jean 187189, 193, 194
Pether, William 302
Petitot 220, 222
Pichler 304
Pitau, Nicolas 191
Poilly, François de 189, 191, 194, 204, 207, 209
Pollajuolo, Antonio 55, 62, 85
Pompadour, Mme. de 224, 225
Pontius, Paul 132, 133, 149, 177
Porporati 226, 227
Posselwhite 324
Potter, Paul 138, 139
Poussin 160
Preisler, Martin 226
Prestel, Katherine 237
Prévost 246
Raimbach, Abraham 266, 267
Raimondi (see Marc Antonio).
Raphael 101108
Reboul, Mme. 224
Redlich 282
Regent, The Prince, of France 223
Regnesson 182
Régnier, Mathurin 160
Rembrandt 104, 128, 140148, 177
Reynolds, Sir J. 172, 231, 233
Reynolds, Samuel 266, 267, 317322
Ribera 139, 175
Richomme 276
Rigaud 211, 214
Ritchie 328
Robert 284
Robetta 67
Robinson 324
Roger, Barthélemy 252
Rogers, William 288
Romano, Giulio 102, 108110
Rosa, Salvator 159
Roullet 189, 194
Rousseaux 276
Rubens 131133, 176, 178
Rupert, Prince 171173, 292, 296
Ruysdael, J. 139
Ryder, Thomas 314
Ryland 226, 228, 238, 239, 270, 309, 310
St. Aubin, Augustin 218221
St. Non, Abbé de 240
Saint-Ygny 164
Sanson, Adrien 203
Sanson, Guillaume 203
Sartain, John 328
Savart 220
Say, William 320
Schäffer 262
Schaüflein, Hans 93, 113
Schmidt 226
Schön, Bartholomew 84
Schongauer, Martin 76, 7886, 91, 117, 176, 177
Scott, John 320
Scultori, Diana (see Ghisi).
Seghers 243
Selma, Fernando 228
Sharp, William 305, 308, 309, 315
Sherborne, W. H. 325
Sherwin, John Keyse 297, 309
Sherwin, William 296, 297
Silvestre, Israel 138, 164, 177
Simon, Jean 298
Simoneau, Charles 229
Slocombe 326
Smillies 328
Smith, Anker 309, 316
Smith, Beckett 297, 298
Smith, John 297, 298
Smith, J. R. 172, 302
Snyders, Franz 134
Sonnenleiter 285
Soutman 132, 133
Spencer, Asa 329
Spierre, François 204
Spilsbury, John 302
Star, Dirck (see Van Staren).
Steinfensand 262
Steinla 263
Stella, Claudine (see Bonzonnet).
Strange, Robert 226, 228, 234, 270, 305307
Sullivan, Luke 304, 305
Suyderhoef, Jonas 136, 149
Tardieu, Alexandre 249, 251, 259, 270
Tardieu, Nicolas Henri 201, 226348
Taylor 243
Thaeter 262
Thompson, Charles 326
Thompson, John 326
Tiebout, C. 328
Tinney, John 307
Titian 116
Tomkins, P. W. 314
Toschi 269
Tory, Geofroy 151
Trento, Antonio da 111
Turner, Charles 316, 317
Unger 282
Vaillant, Wallerant 172, 296
Van Dalen, Cornelius 136, 177
Van Dyck 133, 134
Van Eyck 18, 22, 28
Van Schuppen 194, 208, 209
Van Staren, Dirck 130
Velde, Adrian van de 140
Veldenaer, John 17
Vermeulen, Cornelius 209
Vicentino, Nicolò 111
Vissher, Cornelius 135137, 149, 177
Vivarès 229231, 305
Volpato 255, 269
Von Siegen, Ludwig 171, 172, 292, 296
Vorsterman 132, 133, 177, 287
Vostre, Simon 82
Wagner, Joseph 226
Walker, Anthony 302, 307
Walker, James 302
Walker, William 302, 308, 313, 321, 322
Ward, William 316
Watelet 224
Watson, Caroline 313
Watson, James 172, 302
Watson, Thomas 172, 302
Watt, J. H. 324
Watteau 214
Weber 285
Wenceslas, of Olmütz 84
Weirotter 228
Whistler 326, 327
White, G. 298
Wierix 131
Wille, John George 226, 259
Woeiriot, Pierre 153
Wolgemut, Michael 8789, 113
Woollett 229, 231, 234, 236, 270, 305, 307, 308
Woolnoth, Thomas 320, 321
Worlidge, Thomas 310
Wren, Sir Ch. 296
Young, John 302
Zell, Ulric 1416

Printed by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauvage, London, E.C.

Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained.

When necessary, illustrations were moved so as to not interrupt the flow of text.

Footnotes were moved to the end of the book, just before the Index.

Table of Contents lists "A CHAPTER ON ENGLISH ENGRAVING" as being on page 278, but it is on page 287. Corrected here.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Engraving: Its Origin, Processes, and
History, by Henri Delaborde


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