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Title: The Best Portraits in Engraving
Author: Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874
Language: English
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_Fifth Edition._


20 EAST 16th STREET.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1875, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


Engraving is one of the fine arts, and in this beautiful family has
been the especial handmaiden of painting. Another sister is now coming
forward to join this service, lending to it the charm of color. If, in
our day, the "chromo" can do more than engraving, it cannot impair the
value of the early masters. With them there is no rivalry or
competition. Historically, as well as æsthetically, they will be
masters always.

Everybody knows something of engraving, as of printing, with which it
was associated in origin. School-books, illustrated papers, and shop
windows are the ordinary opportunities open to all. But while creating
a transient interest, or, perhaps, quickening the taste, they furnish
little with regard to the art itself, especially in other days. And
yet, looking at an engraving, like looking at a book, may be the
beginning of a new pleasure and a new study.

Each person has his own story. Mine is simple. Suffering from
continued prostration, disabling me from the ordinary activities of
life, I turned to engravings for employment and pastime. With the
invaluable assistance of that devoted connoisseur, the late Dr. Thies,
I went through the Gray collection at Cambridge, enjoying it like a
picture-gallery. Other collections in our country were examined also.
Then, in Paris, while undergoing severe medical treatment, my daily
medicine for weeks was the vast cabinet of engravings, then called
Imperial, now National, counted by the million, where was everything
to please or instruct. Thinking of those kindly portfolios, I make
this record of gratitude, as to benefactors. Perhaps some other
invalid, seeking occupation without burden, may find in them the
solace that I did. Happily, it is not necessary to visit Paris for the
purpose. Other collections, on a smaller scale, will furnish the same

In any considerable collection, portraits occupy an important place.
Their multitude may be inferred when I mention that, in one series of
portfolios, in the Paris cabinet, I counted no less than forty-seven
portraits of Franklin and forty-three of Lafayette, with an equal
number of Washington, while all the early Presidents were numerously
represented. But, in this large company, there are very few possessing
artistic value. The great portraits of modern times constitute a very
short list, like the great poems or histories, and it is the same with
engravings as with pictures. Sir Joshua Reynolds, explaining the
difference between an historical painter and a portrait-painter,
remarks that the former "paints men in general, a portrait-painter a
particular man, and consequently a defective model."[1] A portrait,
therefore, may be an accurate presentment of its subject without
æsthetic value.

But here, as in other things, genius exercises its accustomed sway
without limitation. Even the difficulties of a "defective model" did
not prevent Raffaelle, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens, Velasquez, or
Vandyck from producing portraits precious in the history of art. It
would be easy to mention heads by Raffaelle, yielding in value to only
two or three of his larger masterpieces, like the Dresden Madonna.
Charles the Fifth stooped to pick up the pencil of Titian, saying "it
becomes Cæsar to serve Titian!" True enough; but this unprecedented
compliment from the imperial successor of Charlemagne attests the
glory of the portrait-painter. The female figures of Titian, so much
admired under the names of Flora, La Bella, his daughter, his
mistress, and even his Venus, were portraits from life. Rembrandt
turned from his great triumphs in his own peculiar school to portraits
of unwonted power; so also did Rubens, showing that in this department
his universality of conquest was not arrested. To these must be added
Velasquez and Vandyck, each of infinite genius, who won fame
especially as portrait-painters. And what other title has Sir Joshua

[Sidenote: Suyderhoef.]

Historical pictures are often collections of portraits arranged so as
to illustrate an important event. Such is the famous PEACE OF MÜNSTER,
by Terburg, just presented by a liberal Englishman to the National
Gallery at London. Here are the plenipotentiaries of Holland, Spain,
and Austria, uniting in the great treaty which constitutes an epoch in
the Law of Nations. The engraving by Suyderhoef is rare and
interesting. Similar in character is the Death of Chatham, by Copley,
where the illustrious statesman is surrounded by the peers he had
been addressing--every one a portrait. To this list must be added the
pictures by Trumbull in the Rotunda of the Capitol at Washington,
especially the Declaration of Independence, in which Thackeray took a
sincere interest. Standing before these, the author and artist said to
me, "These are the best pictures in the country," and he proceeded to
remark on their honesty and fidelity; but doubtless their real value
is in their portraits.

Unquestionably the finest assemblage of portraits anywhere is that of
the artists occupying two halls in the gallery at Florence, being
autographs contributed by the masters themselves. Here is Raffaelle,
with chestnut-brown hair, and dark eyes full of sensibility, painted
when he was twenty-three, and known by the engraving of Forster--Julio
Romano, in black and red chalk on paper,--Massaccio, called the father
of painting, much admired--Leonardo da Vinci, beautiful and
grand,--Titian, rich and splendid,--Pietro Perugino, remarkable for
execution and expression,--Albert Dürer, rigid but masterly,--Gerhard
Dow, finished according to his own exacting style,--and Reynolds, with
fresh English face; but these are only examples of this incomparable
collection, which was begun as far back as the Cardinal Leopold de
Medici, and has been happily continued to the present time. Here are
the lions, painted by themselves, except, perhaps, the foremost of
all, Michael Angelo, whose portrait seems the work of another. The
impression from this collection is confirmed by that of any group of
historic artists. Their portraits excel those of statesmen, soldiers,
or divines, as is easily seen by engravings accessible to all. The
engraved heads in Arnold Houbraken's biographies of the Dutch and
Flemish painters, in three volumes, are a family of rare beauty.[2]

The relation of engraving to painting is often discussed; but nobody
has treated it with more knowledge or sentiment than the consummate
engraver Longhi in his interesting work, _La Calcografia_.[3] Dwelling
on the general aid it renders to the lovers of art, he claims for it
greater merit in "publishing and immortalizing the portraits of
eminent men for the example of the present and future generations;"
and, "better than any other art, serving as the vehicle for the most
extended and remote propagation of deserved celebrity." Even great
monuments in porphyry and bronze are less durable than these light and
fragile impressions subject to all the chances of wind, water, and
fire, but prevailing by their numbers where the mass succumbs. In
other words, it is with engravings as with books; nor is this the only
resemblance between them. According to Longhi, an engraving is not a
copy or imitation, as is sometimes insisted, but a translation. The
engraver translates into another language, where light and shade
supply the place of colors. The duplication of a book in the same
language is a copy, and so is the duplication of a picture in the same
material. Evidently an engraving is not a copy; it does not reproduce
the original picture, except in drawing and expression; nor is it a
mere imitation, but, as Bryant's Homer and Longfellow's Dante are
presentations of the great originals in another language, so is the
engraving a presentation of painting in another material which is like
another language.

Thus does the engraver vindicate his art. But nobody can examine a
choice print without feeling that it has a merit of its own different
from any picture, and inferior only to a good picture. A work of
Raffaelle, or any of the great masters, is better in an engraving of
Longhi or Morghen than in any ordinary copy, and would probably cost
more in the market. A good engraving is an undoubted work of art, but
this cannot be said of many pictures, which, like Peter Pindar's
razors, seem made to sell.

Much that belongs to the painter belongs also to the engraver, who
must have the same knowledge of contours, the same power of
expression, the same sense of beauty, and the same ability in drawing
with sureness of sight as if, according to Michael Angelo, he had "a
pair of compasses in his eyes." These qualities in a high degree make
the artist, whether painter or engraver, naturally excelling in
portraits. But choice portraits are less numerous in engraving than in
painting, for the reason, that painting does not always find a
successful translator.


(Engraved by Albert Dürer from his own Design.)]

[Sidenote: Dürer.]

The earliest engraved portraits which attract attention are by Albert
Dürer, who engraved his own work, translating himself. His eminence as
painter was continued as engraver. Here he surpassed his predecessors,
Martin Schoen in Germany, and Mantegna in Italy, so that Longhi does
not hesitate to say that he was the first who carried the art from
infancy in which he found it to a condition not far from flourishing
adolescence. But, while recognizing his great place in the history of
engraving, it is impossible not to see that he is often hard and
constrained, if not unfinished. His portrait of ERASMUS is justly
famous, and is conspicuous among the prints exhibited in the British
Museum. It is dated 1526, two years before the death of Dürer, and has
helped to extend the fame of the universal scholar and approved man of
letters, who in his own age filled a sphere not unlike that of
Voltaire in a later century. There is another portrait of Erasmus by
Holbein, often repeated, so that two great artists have contributed to
his renown. That by Dürer is admired. The general fineness of touch,
with the accessories of books and flowers, shows the care in its
execution; but it wants expression, and the hands are far from

Another most interesting portrait by Dürer, executed in the same year
with the Erasmus, is PHILIP MELANCTHON, the St. John of the
Reformation, sometimes called the teacher of Germany. Luther, while
speaking of himself as rough, boisterous, stormy, and altogether
warlike, says, "but Master Philippus comes along softly and gently,
sowing and watering with joy according to the rich gifts which God has
bestowed upon him." At the date of the print he was twenty-nine years
of age, and the countenance shows the mild reformer.

[Sidenote: Caracci.]

Agostino Caracci, of the Bolognese family, memorable in art, added to
considerable success as painter undoubted triumphs as engraver. His
prints are numerous, and many are regarded with favor; but out of the
long list not one is so sure of that longevity allotted to art as his
portrait of TITIAN, which bears date 1587, eleven years after the
death of the latter. Over it is the inscription, _Titiani Vicellii
Pictoris celeberrimi ac famosissimi vera effigies_, to which is added
beneath, _Cujus nomen orbis continere non valet_! Although founded on
originals by Titian himself, it was probably designed by the
remarkable engraver. It is very like, and yet unlike the familiar
portrait of which we have a recent engraving by Mandel, from a
repetition in the gallery of Berlin. Looking at it, we are reminded of
the terms by which Vasari described the great painter, _guidicioso,
bello e stupendo_. Such a head, with such visible power, justifies
these words, or at least makes us believe them entirely applicable. It
is bold, broad, strong, and instinct with life.

This print, like the Erasmus of Dürer, is among those selected for
exhibition at the British Museum, and it deserves the honor. Though
only paper with black lines, it is, by the genius of the artist, as
good as a picture. In all engraving nothing is better.

[Sidenote: Goltzius.]

Contemporary with Caracci was Hendrik Goltzius, at Harlem,
excellent as painter, but, like the Italian, pre-eminent as engraver.
His prints show mastery of the art, making something like an epoch in
its history. His unwearied skill in the use of the burin appears in a
tradition gathered by Longhi from Wille, that, having commenced a
line, he carried it to the end without once stopping, while the long
and bright threads of copper turned up were brushed aside by his
flowing beard, which at the end of a day's labor so shone in the light
of a candle that his companions nicknamed him "the man with the golden
beard." There are prints by him which shine more than his beard. Among
his masterpieces is the portrait of his instructor, THEODORE
COERNHERT, engraver, poet, musician, and vindicator of his country,
and author of the national air, "William of Orange," whose passion for
liberty did not prevent him from giving to the world translations of
Cicero's Offices and Seneca's Treatise on Beneficence. But that of the
ENGRAVER HIMSELF, as large as life, is one of the most important in
the art. Among the numerous prints by Goltzius, these two will always
be conspicuous.

[Illustration: JAN LUTMA.

(Etched by Rembrandt from his own Design.)]

[Sidenote: Pontius.]

[Sidenote: Rembrandt.]

[Sidenote: Visscher.]

In Holland Goltzius had eminent successors. Among these were Paul
Pontius, designer and engraver, whose portrait of RUBENS is of great
life and beauty, and Rembrandt, who was not less masterly in engraving
than in painting, as appears sufficiently in his portraits of the
goldsmith LUTMA, all showing singular facility and originality.
Contemporary with Rembrandt was Cornelis Visscher, also designer and
engraver, whose portraits were unsurpassed in boldness and picturesque
effect. At least one authority has accorded to this artist the palm of
engraving, hailing him as Corypheus of the art. Among his successful
portraits is that of a CAT; but all yield to what are known as the
GREAT BEARDS, being the portraits of WILLIAM DE RYCK, an ophthalmist
at Amsterdam, and of GELLIUS DE BOUMA, the Zutphen ecclesiastic. The
latter is especially famous. In harmony with the beard is the heavy
face, seventy-seven years old, showing the fulness of long-continued
potation, and hands like the face, original and powerful, if not

[Illustration: THE SLEEPING CAT.

(Engraved by Cornelis Visscher from his own Design.)]

[Sidenote: Vandyck.]

In contrast with Visscher was his companion Vandyck, who painted
portraits with constant beauty and carried into etching the same
Virgilian taste and skill. His aquafortis was not less gentle than his
pencil. Among his etched portraits I would select that of SNYDERS, the
animal painter, as extremely beautiful. M. Renouvier, in his learned
and elaborate work, _Des Types et des Maniéres des Maîtres Graveurs_,
though usually moderate in praise, speaks of these sketches as
"possessing a boldness and delicacy which charm, being taken, at the
height of his genius, by the painter who knew the best how to idealize
the painting of portraits."

Such are illustrative instances from Germany, Italy, and Holland. As
yet, power rather than beauty presided, unless in the etchings of
Vandyck. But the reign of Louis XIV. was beginning to assert a
supremacy in engraving as in literature. The great school of French
engravers which appeared at this time brought the art to a
splendid perfection, which many think has not been equalled since, so
that Masson, Nanteuil, Edelinck, and Drevet may claim fellowship in
genius with their immortal contemporaries, Corneille, Racine, La
Fontaine, and Molière.


(Engraved by Claude Mellan from his own Design.)]

[Sidenote: Mellan.]

The school was opened by Claude Mellan, more known as engraver than
painter, and also author of most of the designs he engraved. His life,
beginning with the sixteenth century, was protracted beyond ninety
years, not without signal honor, for his name appears among the
"Illustrious Men" of France, in the beautiful volumes of Perrault,
which is also a homage to the art he practiced. One of his works, for
a long time much admired, was described by this author:

     "It is a Christ's head, designed and shaded, with his crown
     of thorns and the blood that gushes forth from all parts, by
     one single stroke, which, beginning at the tip of the nose,
     and so still circling on, forms most exactly everything that
     is represented in this plate, only by the different
     thickness of the stroke, which, according as it is more or
     less swelling, makes the eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, hair,
     blood, and thorns; the whole so well represented and with
     such expressions of pain and affliction, that nothing is
     more dolorous or touching."[4]

This print is known as the SUDARIUM OF ST. VERONICA. Longhi records
that it was thought at the time "inimitable," and was praised "to the
skies;" but people think differently now. At best it is a curiosity
among portraits. A traveler reported some time ago that it was the
sole print on the walls of the room occupied by the director of the
Imperial Cabinet of Engravings at St. Petersburgh.

[Sidenote: Morin.]

Morin was a contemporary of Mellan, and less famous at the time. His
style of engraving was peculiar, being a mixture of strokes and dots,
but so harmonized as to produce a pleasing effect. One of the best
engraved portraits in the history of the art is his CARDINAL
BENTIVOGLIO; but here he translated Vandyck, whose picture is among
his best. A fine impression of this print is a choice possession.


(Painted by Anthony Van Dyck, and Engraved by Jean Morin.)]

[Sidenote: Masson.]

Among French masters Antoine Masson is conspicuous for brilliant
hardihood of style, which, though failing in taste, is powerful in
effect. Metal, armor, velvet, feather, seem as if painted. He is also
most successful in the treatment of hair. His immense skill made him
welcome difficulties, as if to show his ability in overcoming them.
His print of HENRI DE LORRAINE, COMTE D'HARCOURT, known as _Cadet à la
Perle_, from the pearl in the ear, with the date 1667, is often placed
at the head of engraved portraits, although not particularly pleasing
or interesting. The vigorous countenance is aided by the gleam and
sheen of the various substances entering into the costume. Less
powerful, but having a charm of its own, is that of BRISACIER, known
as the GRAY-HAIRED MAN, executed in 1664. The remarkable
representation of hair in this print has been a model for artists,
especially for Longhi, who recounts that he copied it in his head of
Washington. Somewhat similar is the head of CHARRIER, the criminal
judge at Lyons. Though inferior in hair, it surpasses the other in

[Sidenote: Nanteuil.]

Nanteuil was an artist of different character, being to Masson as
Vandyck to Visscher, with less of vigor than beauty. His original
genius was refined by classical studies, and quickened by diligence.
Though dying at the age of forty-eight, he had executed as many as two
hundred and eighty plates, nearly all portraits. The favor he enjoyed
during life was not diminished with time. His works illustrate the
reign of Louis XIV., and are still admired. Among these are portraits
Advocate-General of Holland, a heavy Dutchman, FRANÇOIS DE LA MOTTE LE
VAYER, a fine and delicate work, TURENNE, COLBERT, LAMOIGNON, the poet
CHRISTINE OF SWEDEN--all masterpieces; but above these is the POMPONE
DE BELLIÈVRE, foremost among his masterpieces, and a chief masterpiece
of art, being, in the judgment of more than one connoisseur, the most
beautiful engraved portrait that exists. That excellent authority, Dr.
Thies, who knew engraving more thoroughly and sympathetically than any
person I remember in our country, said in a letter to myself, as long
ago as March, 1858:

     "When I call Nanteuil's Pompone the handsomest engraved
     portrait, I express a conviction to which I came when I
     studied all the remarkable engraved portraits at the royal
     cabinet of engravings at Dresden, and at the large and
     exquisite collection there of the late King of Saxony, and
     in which I was confirmed or perhaps, to which I was led, by
     the director of the two establishments, the late Professor

And after describing this head, the learned connoisseur proceeds:--

     "There is an air of refinement, _vornehmheit_, round the
     mouth and nose as in no other engraving. Color and life
     shine through the skin, and the lips appear red."

It is bold, perhaps, thus to exalt a single portrait, giving to it the
palm of Venus; nor do I know that it is entirely proper to classify
portraits according to beauty. In disputing about beauty, we are too
often lost in the variety of individual tastes, and yet each person
knows when he is touched. In proportion as multitudes are touched,
there must be merit. As in music a simple heart-melody is often more
effective than any triumph over difficulties, or bravura of manner, so
in engraving the sense of the beautiful may prevail over all else, and
this is the case with the Pompone, although there are portraits by
others showing higher art.

No doubt there have been as handsome men, whose portraits were
engraved, but not so well. I know not if Pompone was what would be
called a handsome man, although his air is noble and his countenance
bright. But among portraits more boldly, delicately, or elaborately
engraved, there are very few to contest the palm of beauty.


(Painted by Charles Le Brun, and Engraved by Robert Nanteuil.)]

And who is this handsome man to whom the engraver has given a lease of
fame? Son, nephew, and grandson of eminent magistrates, high in the
nobility of the robe, with two grandfathers chancellors of France,
himself at the head of the magistry of France, first President of
Parliament according to inscription on the engraving, _Senatus Franciæ
Princeps_, ambassador to Italy, Holland, and England, charged in the
latter country by Cardinal Mazarin with the impossible duty of
making peace between the Long Parliament and Charles the First, and at
his death, great benefactor of the General Hospital of Paris,
bestowing upon it riches and the very bed on which he died. Such is
the simple catalogue, and yet it is all forgotten.

A Funeral Panegyric pronounced at his death, now before me in the
original pamphlet of the time,[5] testifies to more than family or
office. In himself he was much, and not of those who, according to the
saying of St. Bernard, give out smoke rather than light. Pure glory
and innocent riches were his, which were more precious in the sight of
good men, and he showed himself incorruptible, and not to be bought at
any price. It were easy for him to have turned a deluge of wealth into
his house; but he knew that gifts insensibly corrupt,--that the
specious pretext of gratitude is the snare in which the greatest souls
allow themselves to be caught,--that a man covered with favors has
difficulty in setting himself against injustice in all its forms, and
that a magistrate divided between a sense of obligations received and
the care of the public interest, which he ought always to promote, is
a paralytic magistrate, a magistrate deprived of a moiety of himself.
So spoke the preacher, while he portrayed a charity tender and prompt
for the wretched, a vehemence just and inflexible to the dishonest and
wicked, with a sweetness noble and beneficent for all; dwelling also
on his countenance, which had not that severe and sour austerity that
renders justice to the good only with regret, and to the guilty only
with anger; then on his pleasant and gracious address, his
intellectual and charming conversation, his ready and judicious
replies, his agreeable and intelligent silence, his refusals, which
were well received and obliging; while, amidst all the pomp and
splendor accompanying him, there shone in his eyes a certain air of
humanity and majesty, which secured for him, and for justice itself,
love as well as respect. His benefactions were constant. Not content
with giving only his own, he gave with a beautiful manner still more
rare. He could not abide beauty of intelligence without goodness of
soul, and he preferred always the poor, having for them not only
compassion but a sort of reverence. He knew that the way to take the
poison from riches was to make them tasted by those who had them not.
The sentiment of Christian charity for the poor, who were to him in
the place of children, was his last thought, as witness especially the
General Hospital endowed by him, and presented by the preacher as the
greatest and most illustrious work ever undertaken by charity the most

Thus lived and died the splendid Pompone de Bellièvre, with no other
children than his works. Celebrated at the time by a Funeral Panegyric
now forgotten, and placed among the Illustrious Men of France in a
work remembered only for its engraved portraits, his famous life
shrinks, in the voluminous _Biographie Universelle_ of Michaud, to
the seventh part of a single page, and in the later _Biographie
Généralle_ of Didot disappears entirely. History forgets to mention
him. But the lofty magistrate, ambassador, and benefactor, founder of
a great hospital, cannot be entirely lost from sight so long as his
portrait by Nanteuil holds a place in art.

[Sidenote: Edelinck.]

Younger than Nanteuil by ten years, Gérard Edelinck excelled him in
genuine mastery. Born at Antwerp, he became French by adoption,
occupying apartments in the Gobelins, and enjoying a pension from
Louis XIV. Longhi says that he is the engraver whose works, not only
according to his own judgment, but that of the most intelligent,
deserve the first place among exemplars, and he attributes to him all
perfections in highest degree, design, chiaro-oscuro, ærial
perspective, local tints, softness, lightness, variety, in short
everything which can enter into the most exact representation of the
true and beautiful without the aid of color. Others may have surpassed
him in particular things, but, according to the Italian teacher, he
remains by common consent "the prince of engraving." Another critic
calls him "king."

It requires no remarkable knowledge to recognize his great merits.
Evidently he is a master, exercising sway with absolute art, and
without attempts to bribe the eye by special effects of light, as on
metal or satin. Among his conspicuous productions is the TENT OF
DARIUS, a large engraving on two sheets, after Le Brun, where the
family of the Persian monarch prostrate themselves before Alexander,
who approaches with Hephæstion. There is also a HOLY FAMILY, after
Raffaelle, and the BATTLE OF THE STANDARD, after Leonardo da Vinci;
but these are less interesting than his numerous portraits, among
which that of PHILIPPE DE CHAMPAIGNE is the chief masterpiece; but
there are others of signal merit, including especially that of MADAME
HELIOT, or _La Belle Religieuse_, a beautiful French coquette praying
before a crucifix; MARTIN VAN DER BOGAERT, a sculptor; FREDERIC
LÉONARD, printer to the king; MOUTON, the Lute-player; MARTINUS
DILGERUS, with a venerable beard white with age; JULES HARDOUIN
MANSART, the architect; also a portrait of POMPONE DE BELLIÈVRE which
will be found among the prints of Perrault's Illustrious Men.

The PHILIPPE DE CHAMPAIGNE is the head of that eminent French artist
after a painting by himself, and it contests the palm with the
Pompone. Mr. Marsh, who is an authority, prefers it. Dr. Thies, who
places the latter first in beauty, is constrained to allow that the
other is "superior as a work of the graver," being executed with all
the resources of the art in its chastest form. The enthusiasm of
Longhi finds expression in unusual praise:

     "The work which goes the most to my blood, and with regard
     to which Edelinck, with good reason, congratulated himself,
     is the portrait of Champaigne. I shall die before I cease to
     contemplate it with wonder always new. Here is seen how he
     was equally great as designer and engraver."[6]


(Painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud, and Engraved by Gérard Edelinck.)]

And he then dwells on various details; the skin, the flesh, the eyes
living and seeing, the moistened lips, the chin covered with a beard
unshaven for a few days, and the hair in all its forms.

Between the rival portraits by Nanteuil and Edelinck it is unnecessary
to decide. Each is beautiful. In looking at them we recognize anew the
transient honors of public service. The present fame of Champaigne
surpasses that of Pompone. The artist outlives the magistrate. But
does not the poet tell us that "the artist never dies?"

[Sidenote: Drevet.]

As Edelinck passed from the scene, the family of Drevet appeared,
especially the son, Pierre Imbert Drevet, born in 1697, who developed
a rare excellence, improving even upon the technics of his
predecessor, and gilding his refined gold. The son was born engraver,
for at the age of thirteen he produced an engraving of exceeding
merit. He manifested a singular skill in rendering different
substances, like Masson, by the effect of light, and at the same time
gave to flesh a softness and transparency which remain unsurpassed. To
these he added great richness in picturing costumes and drapery,
especially in lace.

He was eminently a portrait engraver, which I must insist is the
highest form of the art, as the human face is the most important
object for its exercise. Less clear and simple than Nanteuil, and less
severe than Edelinck, he gave to the face individuality of character,
and made his works conspicuous in art. If there was excess in the
accessories, it was before the age of Sartor Resartus, and he only
followed the prevailing style in the popular paintings of Hyacinthe
Rigaud. Art in all its forms had become florid, if not meretricious,
and Drevet was a representative of his age.

Among his works are important masterpieces. I name only BOSSUET, the
famed eagle of Meaux; SAMUEL BERNARD, the rich Councillor of State;
FÉNELON, the persuasive teacher and writer; CARDINAL DUBOIS, the
unprincipled minister, and the favorite of the Regent of France; and
ADRIENNE LE COUVREUR, the beautiful and unfortunate actress, linked in
love with the Marshal Saxe. The portrait of Bossuet has everything to
attract and charm. There stands the powerful defender of the Catholic
Church, master of French style, and most renowned pulpit orator of
France, in episcopal robes, with abundant lace, which is the perpetual
envy of the fair who look at this transcendent effort. The ermine of
Dubois is exquisite, but the general effect of this portrait does not
compare with the Bossuet, next to which, in fascination, I put the
Adrienne. At her death the actress could not be buried in consecrated
ground; but through art she has the perpetual companionship of the
greatest bishop of France.


(Painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud, and Engraved by Pierre Imbert Drevet.)]

[Sidenote: Balechou.]

[Sidenote: Beauvarlet.]

[Sidenote: Ficquet.]

With the younger Drevet closed the classical period of portraits in
engraving, as just before had closed the Augustan age of French
literature. Louis XIV. decreed engraving a fine art, and established
an academy for its cultivation. Pride and ostentation in the king and
the great aristocracy created a demand which the genius of the age
supplied. The heights that had been reached could not be maintained.
There were eminent engravers still; but the zenith had been passed.
Balechou, who belonged to the reign of Louis XV., and Beauvarlet,
whose life was protracted beyond the reign of terror, both produced
portraits of merit. The former is noted for a certain clearness and
brilliancy, but with a hardness, as of brass or marble, and without
entire accuracy of design; the latter has much softness of manner.
They were the best artists of France at the time; but none of their
portraits are famous. To these may be added another contemporary
artist, without predecessor or successor, Stephen Ficquet, unduly
disparaged in one of the dictionaries as "a reputable French
engraver," but undoubtedly remarkable for small portraits, not unlike
miniatures, of exquisite finish. Among these the rarest and most

[Sidenote: Schmidt.]

[Sidenote: Wille.]

Two other engravers belong to this intermediate period, though not
French in origin: Georg F. Schmidt, born at Berlin, 1712, and Johann
Georg Wille, born in the small town of Königsberg, in the Grand Duchy
of Hesse-Darmstadt, 1717, but attracted to Paris, they became the
greatest engravers of the time. Their work is French, and they are the
natural development of that classical school.

[Sidenote: Schmidt.]

Schmidt was the son of a poor weaver, and lost six precious years as a
soldier in the artillery at Berlin. Owing to the smallness of his size
he was at length dismissed, when he surrendered to a natural talent
for engraving. Arriving at Strasburg, on his way to Paris, he fell in
with Wille, a wandering gunsmith, who joined him in his journey, and
eventually, in his studies. The productions of Schmidt show ability,
originality, and variety, rather than taste. His numerous portraits
are excellent, being free and life-like, while the accessories of
embroidery and drapery are rendered with effect. As an etcher he
ranks next after Rembrandt. Of his portraits executed with the
graver, that of the EMPRESS ELIZABETH OF RUSSIA is usually called the
most important, perhaps on account of the imperial theme, and next
engraved while in St. Petersburgh, where he was called by the Empress,
founding there the Academy of Engraving. But his real masterpieces are
unquestionably PIERRE MIGNARD and LATOUR, French painters, the latter
represented laughing.


(Painted by Gerard Terburg, and Engraved by Johann Georg Wille.)]

[Sidenote: Wille.]

Wille lived to old age, not dying till 1808. During this long life he
was active in the art to which he inclined naturally. His mastership
of the graver was perfect, lending itself especially to the
representation of satin and metal, although less happy with flesh. His
SATIN GOWN, or _L'Instruction Paternelle_, after Terburg, and _Les
Musiciens Ambulans_, after Dietrich, are always admired. Nothing of
the kind in engraving is finer. His style was adapted to pictures of
the Dutch school, and to portraits with rich surroundings. Of the

[Sidenote: Bervic.]

[Sidenote: Toschi.]

[Sidenote: Desnoyers.]

[Sidenote: Müller.]

[Sidenote: Vangelisti.]

[Sidenote: Anderloni and Jesi.]

Especially eminent was Wille as a teacher. Under his influence the art
assumed a new life, so that he became father of the modern school. His
scholars spread everywhere, and among them are acknowledged masters.
He was teacher of Bervic, whose portrait of Louis XVI. in his
coronation robes is of a high order, himself teacher of the Italian
Toschi, who, after an eminent career, died as late as 1858; also
teacher of Tardieu, himself teacher of the brilliant Desnoyers,
fit complement to that of LOUIS XVI.; also teacher of the German, J.
G. von Müller, himself father and teacher of J. Frederick von Müller,
engraver of the SISTINE MADONNA, in a plate whose great fame is not
above its merit; also teacher of the Italian Vangelisti, himself
teacher of the unsurpassed Longhi, in whose school were Anderloni and
Jesi. Thus not only by his works, but by his famous scholars, did the
humble gunsmith gain sway in art.

[Illustration: NAPOLEON I.

(Painted by François Gérard, and Engraved by Auguste Boucher

Among portraits by this school deserving especial mention is that of
KING JEROME OF WESTPHALIA, brother of Napoleon, by the two Müllers,
where the genius of the artist is most conspicuous, although the
subject contributes little. As in the case of the Palace of the Sun,
described by Ovid, _Materiam superabat opus_. This work is a beautiful
example of skill in representation of fur and lace, not yielding even
to Drevet.

[Sidenote: Longhi.]

Longhi was a universal master, and his portraits are only parts of his
work. That of WASHINGTON, which is rare, is evidently founded on
Stuart's painting, but after a design of his own, which is now in the
possession of the Swiss Consul at Venice. The artist felicitated
himself on the hair, which is modelled after the French masters.[7]
The portraits of MICHAEL ANGELO, and of DANDOLO, the venerable Doge of
Venice, are admired; so also is the NAPOLEON, AS KING OF ITALY, with
the iron crown and finest lace. But his chief portrait is that of
EUGENE BEAUHARNAIS, VICEROY OF ITALY, full length, remarkable for
plume in the cap, which is finished with surpassing skill.

[Sidenote: Morghen.]

Contemporary with Longhi was another Italian engraver of widely
extended fame, who was not the product of the French school, Raffaelle
Morghen, born at Florence in 1758. His works have enjoyed a popularity
beyond those of other masters, partly from the interest of their
subjects, and partly from their soft and captivating style, although
they do not possess the graceful power of Nanteuil and Edelinck, and
are without variety. He was scholar and son-in-law of Volpato, of
Rome; himself scholar of Wagner, of Venice, whose homely round faces
were not high models in art. The AURORA, OF GUIDO, and the LAST
SUPPER, OF LEONARDO DA VINCI, stand high in engraving, especially the
latter, which occupied Morghen three years. Of his two hundred and one
works, no less than seventy-three are portraits, among which are the
head called RAFFAELLE, but supposed to be that of BENDO ALTOVITI, the
great painter's friend, and especially the DUKE OF MENCADA on
horseback, after Vandyck, which has received warm praise. But none of
his portraits is calculated to give greater pleasure than that of
LEONARDO DA VINCI, which may vie in beauty even with the famous
Pompone. Here is the beauty of years and of serene intelligence.
Looking at that tranquil countenance, it is easy to imagine the large
and various capacities which made him not only painter, but sculptor,
architect, musician, poet, discoverer, philosopher, even
predecessor of Galileo and Bacon. Such a character deserves the
immortality of art. Happily an old Venetian engraving reproduced in
our day,[8] enables us to see this same countenance at an earlier
period of life, with sparkle in the eye.


Firenze presso Luigi Bardi e C'Borgo degli Albizzi N^o 460]

Raffaelle Morghen left no scholars who have followed him in portraits;
but his own works are still regarded, and a monument in Santa Croce,
the Westminster Abbey of Florence, places him among the mighty dead of

[Sidenote: Houbraken]

Thus far nothing has been said of English engravers. Here, as in art
generally, England seems removed from the rest of the world; _Et
penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos_. But though beyond the sphere of
Continental art, the island of Shakespeare was not inhospitable to
some of its representatives. Vandyck, Rubens, Sir Peter Lely, and Sir
Godfrey Kneller, all Dutch artists, painted the portraits of
Englishmen, and engraving was first illustrated by foreigners. Jacob
Houbraken, another Dutch artist, born in 1698, was employed to execute
portraits for Birch's "Heads of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain,"
published at London in 1743, and in these works may be seen the
æsthetic taste inherited from his father, author of the biography of
Dutch artists, and improved by study of the French masters. Although
without great force or originality of manner, many of these have
positive beauty. I would name especially the SIR WALTER RALEIGH and

[Illustration: MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.

(Painted by Federigo Zuccaro, and Engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi.)]

[Sidenote: Bartolozzi.]

Different in style was Bartolozzi, the Italian, who made his home in
England for forty years, ending in 1807, when he removed to Lisbon.
The considerable genius which he possessed was spoilt by haste in
execution, superseding that care which is an essential condition of
art. Hence sameness in his work and indifference to the picture he
copied. Longhi speaks of him as "most unfaithful to his archetypes,"
and, "whatever the originals, being always Bartolozzi." Among his
portraits of especial interest are several old "wigs," as MANSFIELD
and THURLOW; also the DEATH OF CHATHAM, after the picture of Copley in
the Vernon Gallery. But his prettiest piece undoubtedly is MARY QUEEN
OF SCOTS, with her little son James I., after what Mrs. Jameson calls
"the lovely picture of Zuccaro at Chiswick." In the same style are his
vignettes, which are of acknowledged beauty.

[Sidenote: Strange.]

Meanwhile a Scotchman honorable in art comes upon the scene--Sir
Robert Strange, born in the distant Orkneys in 1721, who abandoned the
law for engraving. As a youthful Jacobite he joined the Pretender in
1745, sharing the disaster of Culloden, and owing his safety from
pursuers to a young lady dressed in the ample costume of the period,
whom he afterwards married in gratitude, and they were both happy. He
has a style of his own, rich, soft, and especially charming in the
tints of flesh, making him a natural translator of Titian. His most
celebrated engravings are doubtless the VENUS and the DANAË after
the great Venetian colorist, but the CLEOPATRA, though less famous, is
not inferior in merit. His acknowledged masterpiece is the MADONNA OF
ST. JEROME called THE DAY, after the picture by Correggio, in the
gallery of Parma, but his portraits after Vandyck are not less fine,
while they are more interesting--as CHARLES FIRST, with a large hat,
by the side of his horse, which the Marquis of Hamilton is holding,
and that of the same Monarch standing in his ermine robes; also the
THREE ROYAL CHILDREN with two King Charles spaniels at their feet,
also HENRIETTA MARIA, the Queen of Charles. That with the ermine robes
is supposed to have been studied by Raffaelle Morghen, called
sometimes an imitator of Strange.[9] To these I would add the rare
autograph PORTRAIT OF THE ENGRAVER, being a small head after Greuze,
which is simple and beautiful.

[Illustration: JOHN HUNTER

(Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Engraved by William Sharp.)]

[Sidenote: Sharp.]

One other name will close this catalogue. It is that of William Sharp,
who was born at London in 1746, and died there in 1824. Though last in
order, this engraver may claim kindred with the best. His first essays
were the embellishment of pewter pots, from which he ascended to the
heights of art, showing a power rarely equalled. Without any instance
of peculiar beauty, his works are constant in character and
expression, with every possible excellence of execution; face, form,
drapery--all are as in nature. His splendid qualities appear in the
DOCTORS OF THE CHURCH, which has taken its place as the first of
English engravings. It is after the picture of Guido, once belonging
to the Houghton gallery, which in an evil hour for English taste was
allowed to enrich the collection of the Hermitage at St. Petersburgh;
and I remember well that this engraving by Sharp was one of the few
ornaments in the drawing-room of Macaulay when I last saw him, shortly
before his lamented death. Next to the Doctors of the Church is his
LEAR IN THE STORM, after the picture by West, now in the Boston
Athenæum, and his SORTIE FROM GIBRALTAR, after the picture by
Trumbull, also in the Boston Athenæum. Thus, through at least two of
his masterpieces whose originals are among us, is our country
associated with this great artist.

It is of portraits especially that I write, and here Sharp is truly
eminent. All that he did was well done; but two were models; that of
MR. BOULTON, a strong, well-developed country gentleman, admirably
executed, and of JOHN HUNTER, the eminent surgeon, after the painting
by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the London College of Surgeons,
unquestionably the foremost portrait in English art, and the coequal
companion of the great portraits in the past; but here the engraver
united his rare gifts with those of the painter.

[Sidenote: Mandel.]

In closing these sketches I would have it observed that this is no
attempt to treat of engraving generally, or of prints in their mass or
types. The present subject is simply of portraits, and I stop now just
as we arrive at contemporary examples, abroad and at home, with the
gentle genius of Mandel beginning to ascend the sky, and our own
engravers appearing on the horizon. There is also a new and kindred
art, infinite in value, where the sun himself becomes artist, with
works which mark an epoch.





    [Footnote 1: Discourses before the Royal Academy, No. IV.]

    [Footnote 2: De Groote Schonburgh der Nederlantsche
    Konctschilders en Schilderessen.]

    [Footnote 3: This rare volume is in the Congressional
    Library, among the books which belonged originally to Hon.
    George P. Marsh, our excellent and most scholarly minister in
    Italy. I asked for it in vain at the Paris Cabinet of
    Engravings, and also at the Imperial Library. Never
    translated into French or English; there is a German
    translation of it by Carl Barth.]

    [Footnote 4: Les Hommes Illustres, par Perrault, Tome ii., p.
    97. The excellent copy of this work in the Congressional
    Library belonged to Mr. Marsh. The prints are early

    [Footnote 5: Panégyrique Funébre de Messire Pompone de
    Bellièvre, Premier Président au Parlement, pronouncé á
    l'Hostel-Dieu de Paris, le 17 Avril, 1657, par un Chanoine
    régulier de la Congrégation de France. The dedication shows
    this to have been the work of F. Lallemant of St. Geneviève.]

    [Footnote 6: _La Calcografia_, p. 176.]

    [Footnote 7: _La Calcografia_, pp. 165, 418.]

    [Footnote 8: Les Arts au Moyen Age et à l'Epoque de la
    Renaissance, par Paul Lacroix, p. 198.]

    [Footnote 9: Longhi, _La Calcografia_, p. 199.]

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