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Title: Engraving for Illustration - Historical and Practical Notes
Author: Kirkbride, Joseph
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Engraving for Illustration - Historical and Practical Notes" ***

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Reproduction by R. J. EVERETT & SONS' "INK-PHOTO" Process



_Historical and Practical Notes_





[_All Rights remain with Scott, Greenwood & Co._]




  ITS INCEPTION. A Theory of Evolution--A Distinct Progress             1


  WOOD ENGRAVING. Rise and Progress--Block Books--Durer's
  Influence--Hans Holbein--A Renaissance--Comparison and
  Justification--The Illustrator                                        5


  METAL ENGRAVING. The Invention--Early Engravers--National
  Characteristics--A Progressive Review                                18


  ENGRAVING IN ENGLAND. Introduction of Metal Engraving--Notable
  British Engravers--Summary                                           26


  ETCHING. Early Records--Descriptive--Rembrandt's
  Influence--Wenceslaus Hollar                                         38

  MEZZOTINT. Invention--Description--Artistic Qualities--Dilettanti
  Art--A Modern Mezzo Engraver                                         38


  THE ENGRAVER'S TASK. Inartistic Work--Constructive
  Elements--Outline--Extraneous Matter--Composition--Light
  and Shade--Expression--Perspective--Execution                        48


  PHOTO "PROCESS" ENGRAVING. A Progressive Process--Commercial
  and Artistic Features--"Line" Process--"Half Tone"--Artistic
  Restoration--Tri-chromatography--Photogravure                        57


  APPRECIATIVE CRITICISM. An Educative Principle--An
  Analysis--Realism in Art Retrospect                                  66

INDEX                                                                  70



     Plate I.                                              _Frontispiece_

  1. Old Wood Engraving (Erenburg Castle)                  _Facing p._ 10

  2. Modern Wood Engraving (The Goose Fountain, Nuremburg)     "       14

  3. Old Wood Engraving                                        "       28

  4. Modern Wood Engraving                                     "       54

  5. Cross Section of Cyanide Furnace                           _Page_ 59

  6. Process Engraving                                     _Facing p._ 60

     Plate II.                                                 "       64


A philosopher and writer has declared that "in our fine arts, not
imitation, but creation, is the aim."

It is to emphasise a distinction between an imitative and a creative
art that the following chapters are offered.

"Engraving for Illustration" is pre-eminently a creative art by which
the work of the artist is _translated_, "in order to render the effect
of his design in such a form as will admit of rapid and effective

It is, moreover, a popular art with a well-defined educative principle
underlying the numerous phases of its manifestation; while, at the same
time, its historical and general interest will commend this brief record
of its progress and influence to many who are lovers of art for art's

  J. K.
  LONDON _June 1903_.




    "In proportion to his force the artist will find in his work
    an outlet for his proper character."--Emerson.

=Its Inception.=--It was the dawn of a new sense when primitive man
first ornamented his weapons, utensils, and the walls of his cave
dwellings with incised drawings,--pictorial representations which
enabled him to record events or suggest and illustrate thoughts and
ideas when his somewhat limited vocabulary failed him.

It was a severely utilitarian epoch of the world's history, and the
crude yet intensely realistic manifestations of man's artistic desires
were the more remarkable that they were wholly dependent upon stern
necessity for their realisation. Childlike in their simplicity, yet
both graphic and vigorous in expression, these ancient drawings bear
testimony to the intense desire of primeval man for some suitable and
satisfying form of pictorial expression. Such incised drawings were
undoubtedly the earliest forms, which the mind of man suggested and his
skill attained, of conveying information and displaying pictorial or
ornamental art. They were but crude conceptions of the untutored art of
a savage race, yet, with a characteristic quaintness of expression, they
abundantly prove the existence of an innate, imitative, and artistic
faculty, inspired by an insatiable craving for illustrative delineation.

=A Theory of Evolution.=--The antiquity of the engraver's art, then,
is exceedingly remote, and its earliest records display frequent
evidences of manipulative skill and artistic perception--evidences which
are still more convincing when the environment and scanty resources of
its exponents are fully appreciated. It was a most unique phase of that
process of evolution whereby the social education of the human race was
advanced, and through countless ages it has indicated the same onward
roll of progressive intelligence.

Responsive to the ever-changing conditions of life, the necessities of
mankind were constantly increasing. His higher intelligence also created
a greater diversity of interests, and consequently demanded a fuller and
more expressive vehicle of communication for his thoughts. No longer
content with what was only needful for the maintenance of social or
commercial intercourse, he sought to add to the archaic simplicity of
his drawings, skilful arrangement, and a certain degree of artistic
feeling and interpretation. It was as though some transitory flashes of
artistic power in the minds of prehistoric artists were struggling with
an inability to give adequate expression to their inceptions. Their
productions, some of them dating from the Palæolithic and Neolithic
periods, were not pretentious works of art. Their primary purpose being
representative, their merit was, of course, decided by the success or
failure of such representation, apart from any artistic qualities they
might possess.

=A Distinct Purpose.=--The evident care with which many of the ancient
incised drawings or engravings were executed and preserved, together
with the permanent character of the materials employed, seems to
indicate that these simple yet graphic representations were produced
with the distinct purpose of perpetuating a memory as well as for the
amplification of a meagre language,--a purpose which considerably
enhances their interest, and suggests that the primeval engraver
appreciated some at least of the possibilities of his art. Moreover,
they frequently possess an intense veracity and directness of imitation
which renders them of inestimable value as reliable historical records.
Had caprice alone directed the artist's efforts, they would not in so
many instances have merited the interest and approval which they now

Such, then, were the beginnings of an art that subsequently reached its
maturity only by a slow growth of gradual development, and "which, in
the modesty and seriousness of its earlier manifestations, is at least
as interesting as in the audacity of its later and more impressionistic

Engraving as a reproductive as well as an ornamental art was at
different periods modified in accordance with ever-changing conditions
produced by the exigencies of national and industrial policy. Its
frequent adaptation to the various circumstances with which it was
indissolubly associated, and the fluctuations of an enthusiasm which was
more or less dependent upon national as well as social prosperity, fully
justifies the statement that "its history is the mirror of a nation's

The rude methods of ancient artists can be distinctly traced through
Egyptian, Assyrian, and Grecian history. Hieroglyphic and symbolic
figures, engraved on ancient Egyptian monuments, bear testimony to
a vast progress both in expressive and inventive power. Assyrian
antiquities disclose an art which is even more suggestive and
picturesque, while the ancient Greeks developed the highest qualities of
pictorial power, and raised the art to a marvellous pitch of excellence.

Beyond this brief epitome of the early history of engraving we need
not venture. The idea of taking impressions from any form of incised
drawings was not suggested until many centuries later.



    "It is therefore beautiful because it is alive, moving,
    reproductive. It is therefore useful because it is symmetrical
    and fair."--Emerson.

=Wood Engraving.=--The most animating event in the whole history of
engraving was the development of engraved wood blocks. Wood engraving
did not receive the impetus of a new discovery as did metal engraving at
a later period. It was to some extent a purely commercial enterprise,
the success of which was assured by an ever increasing interest
in pictorial art. Engraved wood blocks were used for purposes of
reproduction several centuries before their introduction into Europe.
Historians claim that it can be traced back to A.D. 930, when a form of
playing card was known to the Chinese, and printed by them from rough
wood engravings. The commercial intercourse of the Venetians with
Eastern nations would suggest a probability that their navigators
brought home some of these playing cards, and described the method of
their production to their countrymen.

The further we pursue our investigations, the more remarkable does this
tardy recognition of the utility of wood engraving appear to be. It is
true that somewhere about the middle of the thirteenth century legal
documents were stamped, and merchant marks made with engraved wood
blocks, but no extensive use was made of this method of reproduction
until a much later period.

The Low Countries claim credit for the first employment of engraved wood
blocks for commercial purposes. Many dispute this claim, but the amount
of credit at stake is so infinitesimal that it renders the contention
of little value. Until the time of that immense progress which wood
engraving made in Germany about the middle and towards the end of the
fifteenth century, no work of any artistic merit whatever had been
produced. The older prints may possess a certain historical or
antiquarian value, but otherwise are both crude and uninteresting.

=Block Books.=--The Mediæval Block Books were the most important of the
early pictorial reproductions from engraved wood blocks. They also may
be traced to China, where, as early as the ninth century, they were used
for decorative as well as illustrative purposes. They retained their
primitive form for a long period after their first introduction to
Western civilisation, and it is interesting to note that the blocks,
and not the prints, were supplied to the monks,--the scholars of the
day,--the impressions being made by them as required. Towards the end
of the fourteenth century Dutch merchants, like the Venetians, paid
frequent visits to Chinese ports, when they too were impressed with the
novelty and utility of pictorial reproduction as practised in the East.
At any rate, pictorial sheets or cards, very similar in character to
the Chinese playing cards, were published in Holland about that period.
They bore pictures of the saints with the titles or legends engraved
alongside. The production of such prints was evidently a recognised
business during the early part of the fifteenth century, for there
are numerous entries in the civic records of Nuremberg concerning the
wood engraver "Formschneider" and cardmaker "Kartenmacher." It has been
ingenuously suggested that, for convenience, collections of these cards
were pasted into books; and the books available being chiefly of a
religious character, the idea of illustrating religious matter with
such pictures was readily suggested.

The next step was the application of block engraving and printing
to the production of volumes of a more pretentious character, the
most noteworthy of which were _The Apocalypsio sue Historia Sancti
Johannis_, the _Biblia Pauperum_, and the _Historia Virginis ex
Cantico Canticorum_. In another of these books, the _Speculum Humanæ
Salvationis_, the titles were not engraved on the plates, but were
printed with movable types. This volume was published at Haarlem,
and was composed of fifty-eight plates--a very considerable production
with the materials then at the disposal of the publishers.

=Durer's Influence.=--In 1490 Albert Durer, who possessed a spirited
imagination and deep enthusiasm for his work, marked out a distinct era
of substantial progress, and impressed the art of wood engraving with
that expressive power of delineation which his truly remarkable genius
ever manifested.

Durer was an artist of somewhat variable characteristics, but the
diversity and amplitude of his productions afford conclusive evidences
of a remarkable industry and skill.

Like other artists of his time, and even of much later periods, he did
not engrave his own drawings. He may, of course, have engraved a few
blocks, but most, if not all of the wood engravings signed by Durer,
were executed by Jerome Rock.

Perhaps the most peculiar characteristic of Durer's designs was
the portrayal of scenes and figures of ancient history and myth in
well-defined imitation of his own surroundings and the conditions of
life then existing. Apropos of this, it was said that he turned the
New Testament into the history of a Flemish village.

Hans Holbein was another of the early artists who prepared their
drawings for the express purpose of reproduction by means of wood
engraving. That he fully appreciated the resources of his art there
can be no doubt, for he imbued his work with an expressive individual
force which was distinctly progressive and influential. His best known
production consists of forty-one engravings representing "Death--the
King of Terrors," in association with nearly every phase of human life.
Each one of these designs is a picture parable of remarkable power and
suggestiveness. The characteristic drawing and quaint expressiveness of
Holbein's illustrations merit unqualified admiration, and his graphic
use of pure line for pictorial expression stands almost unrivalled.

Hans Litzelburger engraved Holbein's designs. Towards the end of the
fifteenth and during part of the sixteenth centuries wood engraving
still received enthusiastic attention, and then, for sheer lack of
interest, fell rapidly into decay. Metal engraving was absorbing the
attention of the artistic world, and for many years wood engraving was
regarded as only fit for the reproduction of pictures which may be
charitably described as inartistic, and too often perhaps discreditable.

As far as our own country was concerned, it was not until the advent
of Thomas Bewick that this decadence received any effective check.

=A Renaissance.=--The Renaissance of wood engraving in England may be
dated from 1775, when Bewick engraved a picture entitled "The Hound,"
and received a prize offered by the Royal Society for the best engraving
on wood. Thomas Bewick was born in 1753, and fourteen years later he was
apprenticed to a metal engraver. It was indeed a fortuitous circumstance
which caused him to transfer his energies and his talents to wood
engraving, in which he displayed a rare skill and inimitable directness
of expression. He was probably the first wood engraver to adopt level
tinting in place of complicated and laborious cross hatching which was
then practised by his continental contemporaries. He usually preferred
to develop his drawing rather than attempt the production of extraneous
effects, and the subtle effectiveness of his pictures affords
incontrovertible proofs of the advantage of such substitution. Their
humour and pathos, vigour and fidelity, remain to this day as memorials
of the consummate, artistic skill and perceptive capacity of a truly
remarkable man. Bewick was a self-contained genius whose rugged emotions
would admit of but one form of pictorial expression, and that peculiarly
his own. His work was pregnant with masterly good sense, and ever
manifested a charming simplicity of purpose. He had but a modest
estimate of his ability as an engraver, and consequently rarely engraved
any other than his own drawings.

The exact measure of Bewick's influence on the art of wood engraving
for pictorial illustration and reproduction would be difficult to
satisfactorily determine. This much is certain, however, that through it
wood engraving was verified and popularised, and illustrated literature
received a stimulus which subsequent developments combined to maintain
and emphasise.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.--Old Wood Engraving (Erenburg Castle).

  "Colour values and perspective can only be expressed by thick and
  thin lines at varying distances apart."

  _Block supplied by the London Electrotype Agency Ltd., from the
  "Illustrated London News."_]

=A Comparison.=--There is a vast difference between the effects procurable
in an impression from a wood engraving and the print from an engraved
metal plate. In the former, colour values and perspective can only be
expressed by thick and thin lines at varying distances apart, the ink on
the prints being of the same density throughout, no matter how thick or
thin the lines may be. In metal engraving intermediary values may be
obtained by lines of the same thickness, if need be, but of varying
depth. The result is a strong, intense effect produced by the greater
body of pigment held by such portions of the lines as are cut deeply,
and the comparatively grey appearance of the shallower parts. It is
largely due to this that prints from engraved metal plates possess a
peculiar richness and depth of tone.

The commercial advantages generally claimed for engraved wood blocks
are the ease and rapidity with which impressions can be made from them
as compared with the metal plates, and also the fact that they can be
printed with type, _i.e._ letterpress, without any unusual preparations.
Granting the validity of these claims, it must follow that, owing to the
larger number of impressions made from wood engravings, their intrinsic
worth will be correspondingly less than the limited number of prints
made from engraved metal plates, and their commercial value will be
estimated accordingly.

=A Justification.=--The somewhat sweeping assertion that wood engraving
affords a medium of expression only for the blunter minds is not the
whole truth. Its strikingly bold conceptions and broad expressive
effects certainly appeal to the untrained eye or untutored mind more
than the artistic qualities of design and execution displayed in metal
engraving; but there is yet in the art of the wood engraver a well-nigh
inexhaustible store of artistic as well as pictorial effects. The
forcible character and charm of its productions are chiefly due to the
disposition and combination of the lines employed, and a variety of
texture which is thereby introduced. It affords also an exceptional
facility of execution, and an almost limitless power of realisation,
which gives to it a deservedly high place among the pictorial and
reproductive arts. The whole matter may be summed up in a statement
once made by a well-known artist and illustrator: "There is no process
in relief which has the same certainty, which gives the same colour and
brightness, and by which gradations of touch can be more truly rendered.
Few of our great artists, however, can be prevailed upon to draw for
wood engraving, and when they do undertake an illustration, say of a
great poem, the drawing, which has to be multiplied 100,000 times, has
less thought bestowed upon it than the painted portrait of a cotton
king." What wonder, then, at the retrogression of this facile and
graphic art of pictorial illustration.

[Illustration: Fig. 2.--Modern Wood Engraving (the Goose Fountain,

  "The forcible character of wood engraving chiefly due to the disposition
  and combination of the lines employed."

  _Block supplied by the London Electrotype Agency Ltd., from the
  "Religious Tract Society."_]

=The Illustrator.=--The employment of wood engravings in conjunction
with literature created a new phase of artistic work. The task of the
illustrator or designer is peculiar. He sketches out his design on the
wood block, and then passes it on to the engraver. His drawing is not
intended as a permanent form of pictorial art, but as a suggestive
sketch, which, while perfectly intelligible to the engraver, will be
free from such intricacies in its composition as might interfere with
its effective interpretation. The old wood engravers produced, line for
line, an exact facsimile of the artist's design. His work, no doubt,
required considerable skill and unremitting patience, but it was almost
devoid of independent thought or artistic feeling. The engraver to-day
must _translate_ the work of the illustrator so as to render the effect
of his design in such a form as will admit of rapid and effective
reproduction. The possibilities of the wood engraver's art, therefore,
are manifold. The artist's sketch may give a suggestion of light and
shade, and possibly some idea of its tone. The execution and elaboration
of the drawing is left almost entirely in the hands of the engraver.
Whether it will gain or lose by its translation will, to some extent,
depend upon his artistic perception as well as his manipulative skill.



    "The influence of the graver is so great and extensive that
    its productions have constantly been the delight of all
    countries of the world and of all seasons of life."

=Metal Engraving--The Invention.=--The engraving of metal plates for
pictorial reproduction was a direct development of ornamental engraving.
The Italian Niello work of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was
chiefly applied to the embellishment of metal ornaments and utensils
with elaborate engravings. To intensify their effect, the designs were
filled in with a black pigment known as _Niello_, L. _Nigellus_--Black.
Hence the name by which the process was generally known. Niello work was
practised chiefly by gold and silversmiths, and it is recorded that one
of these, Finiguerra by name, was filling up the lines of the engraving
with black composition in the usual way when he accidentally spilled
some hot wax over the plate. It rapidly cooled and hardened, and on
scaling off bore a distinct black impression of the engraving. Quick
to perceive the importance of his discovery, Finiguerra promoted a few
experiments which ultimately led to a full realisation of his hopes.
There is yet another account of the metamorphosis of metal engraving
which, if true, reflects much more credit upon Finiguerra than the
accidental discovery already described. To obtain a _proof_ of their
work, the Florentine metal-workers covered the ornamentation with some
fine plastic material. It was then a simple matter to convert the
impression into a mould, which they filled with melted sulphur. The
casts, when hard, formed exact replicas of the engravings, and
afterwards, when the incised lines were filled with a black pigment,
probably Niello, they presented an effective record of the original
work. It is not by any means improbable that Finiguerra made his
discovery when making such a cast.

It is a noteworthy fact that the idea of producing impressions from
engraved metal plates was not, as might readily be imagined, a
development of wood engraving or of the then well-known method of
printing from engraved wood blocks. It was a fortuitous discovery, and
probably the direct result of an accident. The true importance of this
transition, _i.e._ Niello work to engraving as a reproductive art, is
seldom fully appreciated. It was a momentous change, bristling with
possibilities, which subsequent developments amply proved. The time was
peculiarly propitious. The beneficent influence of the Renaissance was
at its flood, and a feverish spirit of progress swept over Europe.
The imitative instinct inherent in mankind reasserted itself with an
irresistible intensity, and new forms of pictorial expression were
eagerly sought after. The art of engraving provided a medium for the
extension of the artist's fame and the popularising of his creations.
It rapidly gained favour, and its ultimate development and expansion
fully justified the interest it aroused.

=Early Engravers.=--Baccio Baldine, another Florentine goldsmith, quickly
realised the value of Finiguerra's discovery, and endeavoured to produce
engraved plates for printing purposes. Being a somewhat indifferent
designer, his first efforts were not very successful. He was afterwards
assisted by Sandio Botticelli, and this partnership was the first clear
indication of progress in the art. These two engravers undertook the
illustration of an edition of Dante's works, in which the chief feature
was to be an original headpiece for each canto. They accomplished some
meritorious work in connection therewith, but never quite fulfilled
their task.

Some impressions from engraved plates were exhibited in Rome about this
time, and attracted the attention of the painter Andrea Mantegna. He
was so impressed with these examples of the new art that he determined
to reproduce some of his own pictures in a like manner. Mantegna's
engravings were not in any way remarkable, yet they were received with
considerable enthusiasm by his countrymen and by artists in various
parts of Europe.

Marc Antonio Raimondi was another famous Italian engraver of this
period. He first became notorious through copying some of A. Durer's
designs in the exact style affected by that great artist. He also added
Durer's signature to his piracies, and in other ways emphasised the

It is doubtful whether he ever realised the gravity of the deception he
was guilty of, for he took no pains to conceal the fact from his fellow
artists. Apart from this, however, Raimondi was a fine engraver. He
reproduced a number of Raphael's pictures under that artist's direct
supervision, all of which show distinct traces of the great master's
influence. Raimondi engraved between three and four hundred plates.

It is a remarkable coincidence that the art of engraving in Italy, and
printing in Germany, should each receive the stimulus of a new discovery
about the same period. The art of printing was known to the ancient
Chinese, but movable types were first used by Gutenberg about 1454.

=National Characteristics.=--Engraving is almost as old as the human
race, yet its full value as a reproductive art was not discovered until
1452, when Finiguerra made his discovery. For at least half a century
after this discovery engraving was held in the highest esteem in Italy.
From that country it passed to Germany, and thence into France. In each
of these countries it flourished for a time, until at last it claimed a
place, and that a high one, amongst the fine arts of our own country.

The leading characteristics of Italian art, and particularly Italian
engraving, were beautiful outlines and excellent drawing. "Nothing in
any stage of Italian art was carelessly or incompletely done. There is
no rough suggestion of design, no inexact record of artistic invention."
The lines, and especially the outlines, of the early Italian engravings
are indisputably exquisite in their expression of grace and beauty,
though perhaps weak and unsuitable for the portrayal of vigour and

The German engravers reached another extreme. Their drawings were
frequently deficient, and even grotesque; but this was more than
compensated for by a mingled force and freedom of delineation which,
added to a rich imaginative symbolism, was in every respect remarkable.
By means of flowing lines they indicated every fold of draperies,
emphasised the varied contour of features, or produced an intricate
and almost perplexing perspective in their pictures. They frequently
sacrificed artistic power for a mere show of dexterous execution, and
consequently the engravings of this period were rarely ever sublime
in their conceptions. Remarkable for their technique, they were yet
productive of a bewildering confusion of ideas and mannerisms. It was
undoubtedly this superiority of technique which attracted so much
attention to the old German engravers. Their portrait engravings display
abundant insight into human character, and in this respect at least
exhibit a rare power of pictorial expression. Indefatigable enthusiasm,
one of the racial characteristics of the French nation, was exemplified
in the reception accorded by her artists to the art of metal engraving.
French engraving was distinguished by a felicitous combination of good
drawing, skilful execution, and "an aptitude to imitate easily any
impression." Outlines were frequently suggested rather than delineated,
and although somewhat unconventional in style, French engravings of the
seventeenth century displayed few traces of a perfunctory art. Certain
vagaries of style, due no doubt to a natural vivacity, indicated an
artistic quality of design and execution which was their peculiar
inheritance. Of modern French engravers on metal, the Audran family were
by far the most notable. For four or five generations that remarkable
family showed artistic talent of a high standard of excellence. Gerard
Audran, who was born in 1640, was the best known and most gifted member
of this family. His productions were everywhere admired. His historical
pictures especially were very fine. He was appointed engraver to Louis
XIV. Died 1703.

=A Progressive Review.=--For a long period engraving was of the simplest
possible character. About the beginning of the sixteenth century an
effort was made to introduce perspective into the productions of both
brush and graver, and until this important development obtained complete
recognition, even the most skilful artists were guilty of faulty
draughtsmanship. Aërial perspective, or the suggestion of distance,
quickly followed this adoption of linear perspective. It is claimed for
Lucas van Leyden, a Dutch engraver, that he was the first to thoroughly
appreciate and give true value to foreground and distance; in other
words, to fully recognise the artistic value of perspective.

It has been frequently suggested that the fame of Durer, van Leyden, and
others of the same school, was so widespread as to create an artistic
bias, which other engravers, who were their equals in technical skill,
if not in fertility of design, found it difficult to overcome. One of
these engravers, Henry Goltzius, was determined to obtain recognition
of his merits, and engraved five plates in as many different styles,
copying the mannerisms and artifices of Durer and others. They were
at once accepted as productions of the great artists, and not until
Goltzius had heard the unqualified praise of art critics and patrons
did he reveal his purpose. His countrymen generously forgave him this
deception, and he certainly gained much credit thereby. These pictures
are now known as Goltzius' masterpieces.

During the seventeenth century Rembrandt's influence developed much of
that technique which modern engravers have copied, and in some instances
claimed to improve. He is also credited with the introduction of
more expressive gradations of tone, for the production and emphatic
suggestion of light and shade. The character of this, too, has been
retained in present day engravings. Rembrandt was more directly
associated with etching than with line engraving, but his influence was
far from exclusive. Encouraged by the influence of his example, the line
engraver endeavoured to add to the expressive power of his pictures by
the introduction of more daring perspectives, more suggestive form, and
infinitely greater diversity of texture.



    "When applied to objects of their proper destination, the arts
    are capable of extending our intellect, of supplying new ideas,
    and of presenting to us a view of times and places, whatever
    their interval or difference."--Dallaway.

Engraving as a decorative art was well advanced in this country during
the reign of Alfred the Great, when the Anglo-Saxon metal-workers were
known to be skilful engravers. The art was still further developed under
the Norman rule, and during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

Wood engravings were printed by William Caxton in 1481, but there is no
proof that they were the work of English engravers.

=Introduction of Metal Engraving.=--The exact date of the introduction
into England of metal engraving as a reproductive art is doubtful.
There is a record of a book published in this country in 1545, which
was illustrated with copper engravings, cut by Thomas Gemeni. It was a
work on anatomy by Vesalius, and was at first printed in Latin. In the
preface to a translation of this work the following quaint note appears:
"Accepte, jentill reader, this Tractise of Anatomie, thankfully
interpreting the labours of Thomas Gemeni the workman. He that with
his great charge, watch and travayle, hath set out the figures in
pourtrature will most willingly be amended, or better perfected of his
own workmanship if admonished."

It was probably not until Queen Elizabeth's reign was well advanced that
metal engraving obtained any substantial recognition as a fine art which
might be practised with some hope of commercial success.

Archbishop Parker, a powerful prelate of this time, extended his
patronage to the art, and for a time, at least, kept a private staff
of engravers. A portrait of this archbishop was executed by Remigus
Hogenberg, and is the first record of an engraved portrait produced
and printed in England.

For about a century the work of English engravers was uninteresting, and
almost devoid of artistic feeling. Their pictures possessed but little
merit, either as works of art or as pictorial records of that eminently
progressive period.

During the seventeenth century engraving became intimately associated
with literature, and then, as now, the combination was a felicitous one.
Another fortunate circumstance was the settling of the Passe family in
this country. They came from Utrecht, and were engravers of considerable
skill and repute. The elder Passe was a friend and admirer of the famous
painter Reubens, whose style he, to some extent, copied.

John Payne--the first English artist to distinguish himself with the
graver--was a pupil of Passe. Payne was an undoubted genius, and, but
for his indolence and dissipated habits, might have accomplished a
great work.

His most noteworthy engraving was a picture of "The Royal Sovereign,"
made on two plates, which, when joined together, measured 36 in. × 26

Vertue succeeded Payne. His engravings were chiefly of historical value;
as works of art they displayed no unusual merit. Many were portraits
of personages of high degree, in which Vertue evidently copied the
style of Houbraken, a Dutch artist, who some time previously engraved a
similar series of portraits, the commission being given to him because
"_no English engraver was capable of executing it_."

Vertue's writings on English Art were profuse and thoughtful. They were
afterwards collected and published by Horace Walpole.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.--Old Wood Engraving.

  "Horace Walpole, the historian of the graphic arts."

  _Block supplied by the London Electrotype Agency Ltd., from the
  "Illustrated London News."_]

Hogarth, "The inimitable Hogarth,"

  "Whose pictured morals charm the eye,
  And through the eye correct the heart,"

was a brilliant exponent of the expressive power of the engraver's art.
Possessing a profound knowledge of human nature, and a keen sense of all
that is humanely interesting, he expressed in his pictures a wonderful
creative fancy, and a well directed humour. He almost invariably
represented character rather than scenes, and while displaying immense
fertility of design, he retained sufficient realism in the composition
of his pictures to render them valuable as records of the manners and
customs of his times. They, moreover, describe their incidents in the
most direct and piquant fashion. His somewhat defective drawing was
redeemed by a wealth of suggestion and an endless variety of grotesque
conceptions. He possessed the happy art of seizing a fleeting impression
from which he would evolve a caricature full of peculiar and quaint
humour. Hogarth's place in the art annals of this country is undoubtedly
assured, for it has been said that he _represented_ his characters
with more force than most men could _see_ them. His career may be
dated from 1724, when he produced the illustrations for _Hudibras_ and
_La Mortray's Travels_.

There is a most extraordinary story related in connection with Hogarth's
last engraving. While spending a merry evening with some friends he was
heard to say: "My next undertaking will be _the end of all things_."
"If that is so," remarked one of his companions, "there will soon be
an end of the artist." "Yes, there will be," Hogarth replied, "and the
sooner my task is finished the better." The engraving was executed under
the impulse of an intense excitement. "Finis," he exclaimed, as he
finished that most remarkable design, "All is now over," and, strange
to relate, this was actually his last work, for he died about a month

Robert Strange, who was contemporary with Hogarth, was a native of the
Orkney Islands. He was an art student in Edinburgh when Prince Charlie
landed, and his Jacobite sympathies led him to throw aside his work
and join the young chevalier. When the remnant of the army of 1745
was flying before Duke William after the battle of Culloden, Strange,
closely pursued by a number of soldiers, sought shelter in the house
of the Lumsdales. Miss Lumsdale was sitting with her work by one of the
windows, and at once offered to conceal the young soldier underneath
the folds of her skirt. Ladies' skirts of the crinoline period were of
such proportions as to render the concealment easy, and Miss Lumsdale,
to lull the suspicions of the pursuing soldiers, continued her sewing,
and affected considerable surprise and indignation at their intrusion.
They shamefacedly withdrew upon finding the lady alone, and Strange
afterwards made good his escape to France. Gratitude to his deliverer,
intensified by the romantic situation which saved his life, quickly
ripened into love, and, it is needless to add, a good old-fashioned
love match.

Strange settled in London about 1750, when, by his zeal and skilful
work, he added much to the fame of historical engraving in this country.
He engraved over eighty plates during his lifetime, and displayed a
literary talent of no mean order. He was not a brilliant draughtsman,
but the tone and texture of his engravings are almost perfect.

He was knighted in 1781.

There is yet one other engraver of this period whose career merits
a share of attention and interest.

James Gilray was born in 1757, and, like Hogarth, commenced at the
bottom rung of the ladder as a letter engraver. He also became a notable
caricaturist, and some idea of his skill in this branch of pictorial art
may be gleaned from the fact that over 1200 designs were the product
of his inventive fancy. Though not by any means indolent, his habits
were dissipated, and unfortunately for him he, for many years, resided
with his publisher, who gratified his passions so long as his art was
sufficiently productive. Gilray's designs were not all caricatures. A
number of illustrations for Goldsmith's _Deserted Village_ were designed
and engraved by him. He also engraved a few of Northcote's pictures.
His style was free and spirited, and he was one of the first English
engravers to prove the merits of stipple engraving.

The stipple manner of engraving was a curious development of the
art. It appeared as though line engraving could not keep pace with
the ever-growing demand for pictures, and was therefore combined with
stipple to facilitate production. In capable hands very fine results
were obtained with this combination.

English engraving was still in its infancy, however, and continental
productions were favoured by the art patrons of this country, until
a stimulus was given to native art by the painters Reynolds, Wilson, and
West. Profiting by this renewed interest, Woollet entered upon a career
of unqualified success, and eventually succeeded in obtaining full
recognition for the merits of English engraving.

As a boy Woollet showed his artistic proclivities in a strange manner.
His father, it is stated, won a £5000 prize in a lottery, and bought
an inn, glorying in the name of "The Turk's Head," a title which the
embryonic artist endeavoured to express pictorially on a pewter pot.
The father, struck by some quality in the drawing, apprenticed young
Woollet to an obscure London engraver. From an artistic point of view
this apprenticeship was of little value. Woollet was a born artist, and
although his early training may have intensified the natural bent of his
genius, it did little to cultivate it. He possessed versatile talents.
His historical pictures were, in every respect, equal to his landscapes,
and these will long remain as lasting and convincing monuments of his
skill. The boldness of contrast and accuracy of execution displayed by
Woollet in his landscape engravings far surpassed all previous efforts
to express pictorial effects with the graver.

Raimbach was a miniature painter of some note, who, like many other
artists, turned from creative to reproductive art, and became a
successful engraver. In 1812 he became associated with David Wilkie,
and it is generally supposed that he was retained by that artist for the
reproduction of his pictures. Raimbach's translations of Wilkie's works
were in every sense artistic productions and faithful representations.
He was said to be so careful and conscientious in his work that he
employed no assistants, but this was not entirely true. Careful and
conscientious he undoubtedly was, but he frequently employed assistants
to engrave the less important parts of his commissions. Raimbach was
born in 1776, and died 1843.

F. C. Lewis was a progressive engraver contemporary with Raimbach.
His most notable productions were after Landseer and Lawrence. He was
appointed engraver first to George IV., then William IV., and afterwards
to Queen Victoria.

Samuel Cousins was another most influential engraver. A brief sketch
of his artistic career is given in another chapter.

C. G. Lewis was both a line and mezzotint engraver. He was probably
Landseer's favourite engraver, and his name is best known in association
with that artist's pictures. Born 1808; died 1880.

When John Pye engraved his first Turner picture, "Pope's Villa," in
1811, that famous artist expressed his unqualified approval when he
said, "If I had known there was anyone in this country who could have
done that, I would have had it done before," and on more than one
occasion he mentioned Pye's engravings as "the most satisfactory
translations of my colour into black and white." An adequate
interpretation of Turner's pictures requires a masterly appreciation of
the gradations and balance of tone which suggest both colour and space;
and to merit such expressions of satisfaction from the great artist
himself was proof of John Pye's artistic power and skill.

He began his career as an engraver about the year 1800 after a short
apprenticeship with James Heath, a clever and practical man, who was
quick to perceive the ability of his apprentice.

John Pye was a recognised authority on the pictorial effect of colour,
and it was said that during his long and eminently useful life "no
engraver did more than he to spread a knowledge of the sound principles
of landscape art." He was frequently consulted by his fellow artists,
and without even a suggestion of professional jealousy, he was ever
ready with his advice and, if need be, practical help. The following
copy of a letter--now in the Swansea Art Gallery--gives some idea of
the esteem in which his opinion was held by contemporary artists:--


      _To J. Pye, Esq._

    Thursday night, at half-past five, if you please. I hope that
    day will be convenient to you. I should like, if possible, to
    see you here by daylight, as your opinion is always valuable
    to me, and I have some few things to show you.--Your faithful

                                                    Ed. Landseer.

Pye was long known in art circles as the "Father of landscape engraving,"
and he certainly succeeded, as no other engraver has done, in his
translation of colour values and suggestion of aërial perspectives.
Turner's paintings were his favourite subjects, and his interpretations
of them are brilliant in expression, and charged with the very essence
of artistic feeling.

His life and work indicated a progress as distinct as it was far

              "And still the work went on,
  And on, and on, and is not yet completed.
  The generation that succeeds our own
  Perhaps may finish it."

It has been through the efforts of these men and others who, though
less influential, were not less skilful perhaps, or less earnest,
that English engraving, in its daring innovations and substantial
improvements, has far outstripped that of other countries. By them
its reputation has been built up and enhanced, so that "its influence
is conspicuously visible in the principles and history of Art."



    "By its very character of freedom, by the intimate and rapid
    connection which it establishes between the hands and the
    thoughts of the artists, etching becomes the frankest and most
    natural of interpreters."--Lalanne.

It has been asserted, and not without some show of reason, that of
all the reproductive arts etching stands pre-eminent as a medium of
pictorial expression wherein perfect freedom of drawing is retained.
It has found considerable favour with artists, because it enables them
to reproduce their own works with ease and rapidity, and without any
perceptible loss of expressive power.

=Early Records.=--The first account of the art of etching comes from
Dutch sources, but whether or not it had its birth in Holland is a
matter of pure conjecture. It was certainly cradled in the Low
Countries, and finding the time and conditions of art congenial there,
flourished abundantly. A book bearing the title, _A Book of Secrets_,
was published in England in 1599. It was a translation from the Dutch,
and described "A method of engraving with strong waters on steel or
iron." The art of etching must have been known in Holland some time
previous to the date of this publication.

It was an unfortunate tendency which led the early etchers, or at
any rate etchers of the latter part of the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, to practise a style of execution in direct imitation
of the work of the graver. Their productions were robbed of their
peculiar character and charm, their directness and completeness of

=Descriptive.=--The practical phase of the etcher's work claims a more
than passing interest from the earnest reader. A carefully polished
sheet of copper is covered with an acid resist in the form of a thin
coating of wax or some similar composition. When this has been blackened
by the smoke of a candle, or by any other suitable means, the drawing is
made with steel points. The bright sheen of the copper exposed by each
stroke of the point or etching needle will show the progress of the work
very distinctly. The etching mordant is poured over the drawing thus
made, when the exposed parts of the plate will be corroded or etched
away until sufficient depth is obtained. These are, of course, but the
bare outlines of the process, yet they will suffice to illustrate the
facility and simplicity of its operations.

Because it is so admirably adapted for light and sketchy drawings,
etching has been described as a kind of summary of pictorial expression,
and in some respects such a description fits it perfectly; yet, for a
just appreciation of its merits, it will be needful to put aside the
idea that it is little more than a sketchy framework. It is true that
some of the finest etchings have been executed with the fewest possible
lines and without any pretence of elaboration, yet tone and texture
may be fully expressed though not actually realised. Hence the term
sometimes so aptly applied to etching when it is referred to as
"the stenography of artistic thought." It is upon this principle of
limitation that the chief merits of the etcher's art rests,--a system
of pictorial representation which does not always produce illogical and
inartistic interpretation or the imperfect transcription of light and
shade. It may be frequently characterised by a certain amount of caprice
in its execution, but it is nevertheless capable of producing form and
expression of a very high character. Albert Durer, who possessed a most
remarkable artistic versatility, etched a number of plates; but they can
scarcely be regarded as successful examples of his work, for, like other
artists of his time, he endeavoured to imitate the productions of the
graver with his etching needle. It was altogether a futile experiment,
if indeed it can be regarded as an experiment, and Durer's etchings show
but little of that rare power and technical skill for which he was
justly famous in other phases of graphic art.

=Rembrandt's Influence.=--Rembrandt, who was said to be "The greatest
artistic individuality of the seventeenth century," manifested a deep
and lasting enthusiasm for the art of etching,--an enthusiasm which
was abundantly displayed in the marvellous diversity of form by which
he reproduced the characteristic grace and delicate modelling of his
pictures. His graver and etching needle possessed the same spirited
touch as his brush, and when "with his own hand he presented his bold
principles of light and shade," he almost invariably combined strength
of expression with great facility of invention.

There is one notable etcher whose chequered career may well be regarded
with interest, for it reveals a depth of artistic enthusiasm almost
unparalleled in the art annals of this or any other country.

=Hollar.=--Wenceslaus Hollar was a Bohemian by birth, and came to England
under the patronage of the Duke of Arundel in 1637. During a lifetime
of peculiar misfortunes and vicissitudes, he etched something like 2700
plates. As an ardent Royalist, he was drawn into the civil war of
1643-44. He also passed through the Great Plague and the Fire of London.
Difficulties and hardships ever beset his path, yet his industry and
fond attachment to art never flagged. The very fact that ever-recurring
misfortunes and privations never impaired his power as a most remarkable
and ingenious illustrator is ample proof, if such be required, of his
genius. Hollar's etchings are distinguished by an intense fidelity. They
abound in historical interest of a reliable and fascinating kind, and
though never showy they possess a wealth of artistic beauty and artistic
expression. It is difficult to understand how an artist with Hollar's
gigantic, productive energy should end his days in abject poverty.

Mezzotint engraving is the art of engraving on metal _in tones_. It
dates back to about the middle of the seventeenth century. Its history
is interesting if only for the fact that it has been developed chiefly
in this country, the high degree of perfection to which it attained
being chiefly due to English artists. So much so, indeed, that it has
frequently been referred to as _la manaire Anglais_.

=Invention.=--The invention of Mezzotint engraving was the result of an
every-day circumstance which attracted the attention of a soldier more
thoughtful than his fellows. Ludwig von Sigen was a lieutenant-colonel
in the army of the Landgrave of Hesse Cassel when he observed the
corrosive action of moisture on the stock of a musket. The metal work
had been ornamented with an engraved design, and the ground formed
by corrosion in conjunction with the engraved lines suggested an idea
from which von Sigen subsequently developed the mezzotint process. This
story of von Sigen's discovery is regarded by some authorities with
a suspicion of doubt, and a suggestion is made that his purpose was to
invest this introduction of a new reproductive art with a romantic
as well as an artistic interest. In any case, the gallant colonel's
credit is maintained, and it is interesting to note that the principle
of his invention remains still unchanged. The chief purpose of later
developments was to facilitate the production of a perfectly even ground.

On the presentation of his first print to the Landgrave of Hesse, von
Sigen declared, "There is not a single engraver, or a single artist, who
knows how this work is done." About twelve years afterwards the inventor
divulged his secret to Prince Rupert, by whom it was brought to England.
It is generally supposed that Prince Rupert carefully preserved the
secret of this new process for some time, and then in a generous mood he
imparted it to Vallerant Valliant, who fortunately for English art made
his knowledge widespread.

When mezzotint engraving was first introduced into England, the famous
artists, Reynolds and Gainsborough, had reached the summit of their
fame. The time was indeed auspicious. Line engraving failed to give
a faithful reproduction of the peculiar style of painting then so
much admired, while mezzotint engraving, with its soft gradations and
attractive qualities of expression, translated with a vivacity and
facility that could not fail to please and satisfy.

Then, again, a somewhat abrupt change manifested itself in the pictorial
art of this period. Representations of incidents and portraits of famous
personages, which were in themselves interesting, took the place of the
severely artistic productions of the past. The natural result was an
intense interest, which embraced the art and the process by which it
was popularised.

=Description.=--The mezzotint process of engraving may be described in
a very few sentences.

The plate of metal is first covered with a ground or _tone_. To
accomplish this, a tool with a serrated edge is passed over the surface
in various directions. The myriads of microscopic indentations thus
produced constitute a _tooth_ or roughness similar to the grain of a
coarse sandstone. This grain holds a certain proportion of printing
ink, and gives a rich, velvety black impression. On such a ground the
engraver works up his design, and, by the skilful use of scraper and
burnisher, obtains a series of tones or almost imperceptible gradations.
He removes just so much of the grain as may be required for the lighter
tones, and by burnishing or polishing, after the scraper has been
used, secures the high lights. In one respect, at least, this form of
reproductive art is peculiar, and unlike any other types of engraving.
The artist works from black to white, and produces, on the plate, the
lights instead of the shadows.

=Artistic Qualities.=--Although capable of most charming effects, the
mezzotint process never became a really serious menace to line engraving,
with its firm and expressive outlines and peculiarly lustrous textures.
Yet it is not at all surprising that a process, offering the artistic
qualities of reproduction which mezzotint possesses, should prove
successful in the interpretation of such light and shade as, for
example, Turner painted into his pictures. Turner was engaged upon the
series of pictures for his _Liber Studiorum_ when he suddenly realised
the value of mezzotint engraving. He consulted with Charles Turner, an
eminent engraver, who afterwards executed twenty-three of the _Liber
Studiorum_ plates, and eventually decided to adopt a combination of
etching with mezzotint for the reproduction of that famous series of
pictures. The leading or essential lines of each picture were etched,
probably by Turner himself, and the mezzotint added by other engravers.

It is perhaps to some extent true that prints from mezzo plates lack
somewhat in dignity of effect and fidelity of representation. They are
suggestive rather than representative; yet, when the character of the
work is suitable, this lack of dignity is more than compensated for by
the soft and harmonious effects of light and shade already referred to.
The peculiar beauty and brilliancy of these effects, when artistically
rendered, impart to the prints an alluring charm, which appeals to the
inartistic as well as the accredited artistic eye.

The fact that Sir Joshua Reynolds, West, Romney, and other famous
artists allowed their paintings to be reproduced by the mezzotint
process, is sufficient proof of their appreciation of its power. It was,
as already stated, to English engravers that mezzo engraving owed its
development and fame as a reproductive art, and for very many years
after its invention it was practised chiefly in England and Holland.
It is a remarkable fact that Germany, the birthplace of this art, had but
a slight connection with its subsequent history; and equally remarkable
that French engravers, who excelled in line engraving when mezzotint was
at the zenith of its fame, should almost entirely neglect to appreciate
its possibilities.

Another curious fact concerning mezzotint engraving is that it has ever
been the art of the dilettanti. It was first of all invented by von
Sigen, who followed the fine arts for pleasure rather than with any
serious purpose. Prince Rupert brought it over to England with an
enthusiastic, but certainly not a professional, interest, and at several
periods of its history it has received encouragement and substantial
help from like sources. One of the earliest and most ardent mezzo
engravers in this country was Francis Place, a well-known Yorkshire
country squire. H. Lutterel was another such exponent of the art. He was
the first engraver to make any decided improvement in laying the ground.
He evidently realised the importance of a good ground, and constructed
a tool to ensure its evenness and regularity. Another Irishman, Captain
Baillie, a retired cavalry officer, adopted a style of engraving similar
to Rembrandt's, and copied some of that great artist's productions.
He was one of the most enlightened art critics of his time.

=A Modern Mezzo Engraver.=--A brief outline sketch of the life of Samuel
Cousins, one of the most successful of modern mezzotint engravers, will
form a fitting conclusion to this chapter.

Samuel Cousins was born in 1800. The story of his precociousness in
artistic matters is certainly extraordinary. Sir Thomas Ackland, an
enthusiastic patron of the fine arts, saw the boy Cousins standing
before a picture dealer's window, and sketching with all the eagerness
and verve of a born artist. Even while yet a child of eleven years his
exceptional ability manifested itself, for he won the silver palette,
presented by the Society of Arts, and again the silver medal when
twelve years. His rapid progress, both as an artist and engraver, was
undoubtedly due to the influence and encouragement of his patron and
friend, Sir Thomas Ackland. He engraved about two hundred plates,
including pictures by Reynolds, Lawrence, Landseer, and Millais.
Cousins died in 1887, after a most brilliant and purposeful career.



    "The highest art is undoubtedly that which is simplest and
    most perfect, which gives the experience of a lifetime by a
    few lines and touches."

=The Engraver's Task.=--Engraving, by whatever process it may be
accomplished, is not by any means a secondary art. Even when it descends
to mere copying, which its commercial associations unfortunately
encourage, it requires for its effective execution exceptional skill,
unremitting patience, and a more than average degree of artistic
feeling. It is almost impossible to appreciate the true value of the
engraver's work without some consideration of the labour it entails.
Each one of the multitudinous lines of an engraving is cut with a
definite purpose and deliberate care, and may be operated upon again and
again to increase the depth or width in various places. Even the dots of
a stipple are not made in that aimless fashion which their appearance
might at first suggest. A mechanical effect is sedulously avoided,
consequently each dot must be cut with scrupulous care, and may require
two or three touches with the graver to produce the desired effect. The
proportionate reduction of pictures for engraving also demands exquisite
skill and accurate draughtsmanship in which the eye and hand of the
artist may be distinctly traced.

Thus, by a laborious yet picturesque and harmonious interpretation
of the artist's creations, the engraver renders their reproduction
possible, widens the sphere of their interest and influence, and in
many instances procures for them a world-wide reputation.

Such an art may be both erudite and comprehensive in its information,
for it is executed with a purposeful patience which omits nothing,
forgets nothing, and maintains a convincing directness of expression.

Outline, light and shade, variety of style and representation of
surfaces, are all within the engraver's control, and a vast diversity of
expression will be requisite for their realisation. It is quite within
his power also to interpret the artist's thoughts as well as imitate
his style, and this involves not only a judicious balancing of tone and
texture, but a knowledge of the principles of art embodied in the
picture--his copy.

=Inartistic Work.=--Owing to an insatiable craving for pictorial
illustration, there is an ever-growing tendency on the part of the
artist engraver to seek after sensational or entertaining effects which
are not artistic productions. Intensely interesting and attractive
they may be, and yet signally deficient in the true elements of fine
art. It is quite possible to make any art popular, however crude its
conception and manifestation may be, so long as its expression is
sufficiently striking or pleasing. Such products of the graver or
brush may be elaborate compositions and effective forms of pictorial
expression, inasmuch as they provide interesting information concerning
past or current events. They may even possess a certain value as
historical records, and yet not manifest that subtle power of suggestive
beauty and intensity of thought which are _primá facie_ evidences of
masterly genius and artistic power. When the energy and skill of
the artist are thus devoted to expressive delineation in place of
artistic completeness, he becomes satisfied with an inferior degree
of excellence, provided only that it pleases; and the result will
almost assuredly be an incomplete, if not vitiated, production.

In these days of invention and advancement, when the resources of
mankind are almost limitless, conditions of life favourable, and
opportunities for the acquirement of knowledge and skill always
abounding, there can surely be no valid excuse for this dead level
mediocrity in the engraver's art,--a result which might possibly arise
from the insiduous fever of display, of notoriety, and of commercialism
which is ever seeking fresh victims in this as in every other phase of
human life and effort.

=Constructive Elements.=--An engraving may be an imitative or
representative interpretation of a picture or drawing in _black_ and
_white_. In such an interpretation, whatever its character may be,
integrity of form is of paramount importance, and essential to the
attainment of any degree of excellence in engraving. It imparts to the
work a distinctive character, and endows it with that delicacy and
precision of execution for which engraving is so justly famous.

=Outline.=--In the early engravings the constructive element consisted
almost entirely of pure outline, which was rarely monotonous, but
frequently suggestive of form and character. Is it not almost
marvellous, this suggestive power of outline, for is it not in reality
but an imaginary boundary? An actual outline is a thing unknown in
nature, and the very fact that it has its existence only in the
imagination of the artist makes our reconciliation to it and our
admiration of it the more wonderful. The astonishing elasticity of the
human imagination makes it quite easy to fill in the details of a
picture if only the outline be sufficiently suggestive. The primary
function of the outline is, of course, to represent; but its secondary
or suggestive purpose is scarcely of less importance, and can only be
fully realised when the imagination is so stimulated as to perceive more
than is actually exhibited. The completeness and truthfulness of the
outline must be an engraver's first point. An art critic once stated
that "He had finished the picture who had finished the outline." To some
extent such a statement may be perfectly true; but just as in elocution,
or even in ordinary conversation, emphasis is requisite, so in pictorial
art the emphasis of concise expression, modulation, and delicate or
vigorous accentuation are equally necessary and effective.

=Extraneous Matter.=--In other words, an artist's ideas may be decisively
portrayed in outline, yet for lack of suitable extraneous matter appear
both crude and impoverished. The amount of characteristic form expressed
by constructive elements in the drawing, other than the outlines, is
strikingly illustrated in old German portrait engravings. They are
simply overflowing with details of the most minute description. Nor can
such details be regarded as altogether superfluous, for they each help
to _build up_ the character of the picture. In portrait engraving a mere
likeness may easily be portrayed by a simple outline. Not so, however,
with character. Considerable amplification will be necessary to show
that; and this, perhaps, is the most difficult task of the engraver--to
introduce a satisfactory amount of essential detail without detracting
in any way from a pleasing general effect in the picture.

=Composition.=--In its broadest sense composition in graphic art refers
to the putting together or combination of the various details into a
pleasing and effective picture. It may comprise--(1) the choice of a
subject; (2) the most effective moment of its representation; (3) the
choice of such circumstantial matter as will best intensify the
interest of the picture, and enhance its artistic value. Nor is one
part much less important than another, for interest in the subject must
necessarily be influenced by effective grouping, and the choice of
harmonious surrounding for both. It is in this that the _finesse_ of
the artist becomes available, and, by clever contrasts and agreeable
combinations, enables him to emphasise the expressive power of his
pictorial art.

=Light and Shade.=--The importance of light and shade in the composition
of a picture is a fact too well established to require much further
recognition here. If skilfully arranged and distributed it may in some
measure compensate for any lack of cohesion in the design, and thus
become a redeeming feature in what would otherwise prove to be an
ineffective composition.

It is chiefly by a dexterous arrangement of light and shade that the
artist engraver can produce a faithful and intelligible translation of
his subject. It adds considerably to the force and vigour of pictures,
and produces effects which please the eye and successfully appeal to
the imagination.

There are, of course, other qualities and conditions which materially
affect the engraver and his work, and these will now be briefly

=Expression.=--"Expression is the representation of an object agreeably
to its nature and character, and the use or office it is intended to
have in the work." It is, in fact, the very essence of a picture. Without
it there can be no character, no emotion, and therefore no faithful

=Perspective.=--Linear perspective in engraving represents the position
or magnitude of the lines or contour of objects portrayed, and suggests
their diminution in proportion to their distance from the eye.

Aërial perspective, on the other hand, represents the diminution of
colour value of each object as it recedes from the eye. It is, in
reality, a degradation of tone, suggesting the relative distances of
objects. Either may be the direct product of light and shade as well
as of accurate drawing.

=Execution.=--The execution of an engraving admits of almost any degree
of variety--the display of individual skill, and knowledge of technique.
Execution, as the term implies, is the direct result of individual
dexterity; the ability to interpret colour, tone, and texture of a
picture by an arrangement of lines of varying depth and fineness; the
ability also to imitate, or even create, pictorial expression.

The work of the engraver, like many other phases of reproductive art, is
a fruitful source of mannerisms; yet even these will produce excellent
results if they create innovations which will be afterwards approved and
recognised as healthy, independent, and entirely original methods.

[Illustration: Fig. 4.--Modern Wood Engraving.

  "An interpretation of tone and texture by an arrangement of lines."

  _Block supplied by the London Electrotype Agency Ltd., from the
  "Religious Tract Society."_]



    "It is not knowledge itself which is power, but the ability to
    use and apply knowledge."

=A Progressive Process.=--Photo process engraving is a method of graphic
reproduction which comes into direct contact with art in its most
popular phases.

It is a distinctly progressive process which possesses immense
advantages and represents an effective and by no means inartistic aspect
of the graphic arts. The lavish, and in many instances extravagant,
employment of process engraving for purposes of pictorial illustration
is a substantial proof of its popularity and illustrative value. It
may not always reach a high standard of artistic realisation, but it
is almost invariably realistic and attractive in its varied forms of

The idea of pictorial illustration, whether as the translation of an
artistic conception or an actual representation of current events, has
ever been a fascinating one; and its evolution, from a photo-mechanical
standpoint, has been one unbroken record of remarkable progress.

To enter upon a detailed exposition of any of the many photo-mechanical
processes is somewhat beyond the purpose of this short treatise, and to
attempt anything but a full and comprehensive description on such lines
would be both unwise and valueless. Let it suffice, then, to indicate
their more salient points, their illustrative and artistic value, and
the manner in which they may be most successfully applied.

=Commercial and Artistic Features.=--The commercial advantages of
photo-engraving may be summed up in a very few words:--

1. The plates can be produced quickly and economically.

2. The impressions can be made at a high rate of speed, and in some
of the processes without perceptible deterioration.

3. The prints will be more or less facsimiles of the original.

From an artistic point of view, photo-engraving possesses equally
important features. It translates the artist's work with extraordinary
facility and accuracy, retaining a satisfactory proportion of its
expressive feeling, and reproducing subtleties of drawing and texture
which it would be difficult, if not quite impossible, to obtain by any
other process. Of the many photo-mechanical engraving processes, all of
which are more or less associated with pictorial illustration, three at
least merit further consideration.

[Illustration: Fig. 5.--Cross Section of Cyanide Furnace.

  The "Line Process."]

(_a_) =The "Line" Process.=--The "line" process is applicable only to
the reproduction of line drawings or prints, in which the design is
represented in simple black and white, with only such gradations of tone
as may be suggested by lines or dots. For the reproduction of pen-and-ink
drawings, it has found considerable favour with illustrators, and many
even of the more conservative artists are compelled to appreciate
its merits and acknowledge its value. An interesting account of the
compulsory acceptance of process engraving by the famous illustrator
"Du Maurier" is suggestive of at least one valuable peculiarity of this
method of reproduction. Owing to failing sight, Du Maurier found it
increasingly difficult to introduce into his drawings on the wood block
that amount of detail which he considered necessary for the adequate
expression of his ideas. Eventually he was compelled to make pen-and-ink
drawings on a much larger scale than was his wont, and to have them
reproduced as photo-line-blocks, the reduction being made as required.

(_b_) =Half Tone.=--"Half tone" process engraving, as distinguished from
the "line" process, is the reproduction of a design or copy which has
in its composition gradations of tone in the form of flat tints. Wash
drawings and photographs present characteristic examples of such copies.

[Illustration: Fig. 6.--Process Engraving.

  _Block by the Arc Engraving Co. Ltd., London._]

The true relative value of these medium or half tones can only be
retained in the half tone engraving by breaking up the picture into
most minute sections, and thereby producing a grain or series of dots
of varying size and contiguity according to the requirements of the
drawing. This grain or "screen" effect is produced by the interposition
of a network of finely ruled lines in the form of a screen between the
lens and the sensitive plate when photographing. The optical principle
involved is beyond the sphere of this work, but the effect produced is
a matter of vital importance, and requires careful consideration.

The coarser the ruling of a screen, consistent of course with the class
of work for which it is required, the more vigorous and consequently
more effective the reproduction will appear. The variety of tones will
be greater, and the textures will appear richer. Small prints are
naturally subjected to a close inspection; the screen effect, therefore,
should be less obtrusive than in larger ones. It may also be useful to
know that a finely ruled screen will reproduce the minute details of
a copy.

=Artistic Restoration.=--It is somewhat doubtful if the half tone
engraving, pure and simple, would ever have any real artistic value for
pictorial illustration but for some method of restoring those qualities
which are so considerably reduced when copying a picture through
the line screen. The pure half tone consists of a grain of varying
gradations over the whole design. There are, therefore, no pure whites
even in the highest lights. The use of the roulette and graver for
accentuating light and shade is therefore not only permissible but
decidedly advantageous, for the monotony of a mechanical grain is
thereby relieved, and the print produced will be an effective and
accurate translation of the artistic sketch.

"A true half tone will be best obtained by not relying entirely on the
mechanical means, but assisting them with some hand work, either in the
shape of re-etching or engraving, or both."

The application of hand engraving to photo-mechanical work has been
chiefly due to American process workers, who applied the technique of
the wood engraver's art to the amplification of their half tone blocks.

=Tri-chromatography.=--The "Three Colour Process" is more or less an
application of half tone engraving to chromo-typography. The colours,
each in their relative value, are produced by purely photo-mechanical
methods--the colours of the original copy being dissected by means of
specially prepared colour screens. Half tone blocks are made from each
of the three negatives, and superimposed in accurate register in the
subsequent printing, when, of course, the primary colours, red, blue,
and yellow, are used.

The process possesses brilliant and effective illustrative power,
offers ample scope for the ingenuity and manipulative skill of artist,
engraver, and printer, and promises well-nigh unlimited possibilities
as a medium of pictorial expression.

(_c_) =Photogravure.=--Photogravure may be very briefly described. It
is a photo-mechanical process, in which rich, soft tones of surpassing
delicacy and undeniably artistic effect are striking peculiarities.
Unlike "line" and "half tone" engraving, it is an intaglio process,
in which the printer as well as the etcher must possess a profound
artistic perception.

[Illustration: Reproduction by R. J. EVERETT & SONS' "INK-PHOTO" Process.



A polished copper plate is grained by dusting resin or asphalt powder
on its surface, and afterwards fixing it by the application of heat.
A _tissue_ negative print is made, squeezed on to the grained plate,
and developed in the usual way. The plate is etched through the tissue.
The action of the etching mordant--perchloride of iron--being in exact
proportion to the light and shade of the developed print.

The printing is a necessarily slow, and therefore costly, item.
This limitation to their production, however, enhances the value of
photogravure prints.

=Ink Photo.=--What is known as the ink photo process of reproduction
is interesting chiefly on account of the remarkable fidelity with which
engravings of the finest and most intricate texture can be reproduced by
its agency. It is essentially a photo-mechanical process, but differs
from others of a similar character, inasmuch as the vigour and
expressive power of the original is to a considerable extent preserved.
Colour values also, as far as they can be expressed by the engraver's
art (see p. 11), are reproduced by ink photo methods with surprising
accuracy, and the intensity of impression, that peculiar feature of
prints from engraved plates, is almost invariably well sustained.
A careful criticism of the appended illustration and frontispiece done,
this process will reveal many other interesting points of practical



    "Yet when we have said all our fine things about the arts,
    we must end in a frank confession that the arts, as we know
    them, are but initial. He has conceived meanly of the resources
    of man who believes that the best age of production is past."

=Appreciative Criticism.=--The art of engraving, and particularly wood
engraving, has fully justified its existence, and the eminently popular
position which it has long held amongst the fine arts of the world.
Through the medium of the pictorial press it has diffused a knowledge
of the noblest principles of art, and has ever exerted a refining
influence even over inartistic minds. For this reason the lack of
knowledge concerning some of the essential qualities of engraving
as a pictorial art is somewhat remarkable. Even more so when it is
considered that never before in the history of the world has such a
wealth of illustrative art been produced and brought well within the
reach of its humblest patrons.

It is perhaps too much to expect, nor is it at all desirable, that
individual preference should be moulded to one common and fixed
standard. To some minds the picturesque, though perhaps undignified
paintings of the old Dutch masters, would appeal with greater success
than the wondrous light and shade of Turner's pictures. Or, again, the
astonishing technicalities and intricacies of German wood engraving may
stir up a deeper interest and enthusiasm than the simple yet expressive
productions of Thomas Bewick. Yet such a difference of opinion may exist
only in individual appreciation or taste. The appreciative faculties in
mankind are in the main identical.

=An Educative Principle.=--There is in human life an omnipotent and
omniscient educative principle which may, to some extent at least, be
rendered subservient to the human will, but which in other respects is
as certain in its results and impulses as the course of the planets.

Those who surround themselves with the beautiful in Nature and in
Art, whose minds are constantly in communion with the grand and noble
purposes they suggest, are infinitely more sensible to their manifold
beauties than those of their fellows who persistently disregard,
and even repel, artistic influences. Their appreciation of the full
significance of any artistic production is deeper, more sincere, and
more equable than is that of those who neglect the aspirations of the
finer fibres of their beings, and thus allow their higher faculties to
become blunted, and their judgments warped. "Verily unto him that hath
shall be given," etc.

The most independent and most penetrative imagination is not by any
means a free agent. Environment, mental culture, and natural temperament
are each controlling influences of variable power; yet there is much
truth in the philosophy which declares that "It is as easy to excite
the intellectual faculties as the limbs to useful action."

=The Artist's Purpose.=--A misconception of the artist's aim almost
invariably leads to a condemnation of his work. First of all discover
his purpose, and then decide upon the success or non-success of his
conceptions. The _style_ of their execution, _i.e._ the manner in which
various surfaces and textures are reproduced, is but a means to an end.
It is infinitely easier to assimilate a style once its objective has
been clearly comprehended.

=An Analysis.=--For obvious reasons, then, an analysis of the merits
and demerits of the engraver's art is not always a simple matter. His
work may be an acceptable pictorial record, though not in any sense
a picture from an artistic point of view. On the other hand, it may
possess artistic qualities in abundance, and yet be far from a truthful
record of an incident or scene.

=Realism in Art.=--It is frequently claimed for graphic art that when
it cannot faithfully imitate it is permissible for it to interpret.
Quite so; and it is in just such a light that engraving is or ought
to be regarded. A picture, whether illustrating a story or recording
an artistic impression, is never so great as when it enchants the
imagination with an ideal presence. Absolute realism is not always
desirable either in pictorial art or pictorial expression. No matter
how realistic it may be, it is a doubtful gain to introduce into the
composition of a picture a mass of detail which might only prove
disconcerting, and distract attention from the main issues of the
subject. The partial or complete isolation of a central idea often adds
to the vigour and general effectiveness of the whole. Rarely, indeed,
does it render it less picturesque. After all, it is not Nature so much
as Nature's expression which should be represented. Its infinity of
secondary effects, its superabundance of detail, may, often with
advantage, be left out.

=A Retrospect.=--While in this critical mood, it may be worth while
noting that the sincere and painstaking work of the old-time engravers
is deserving of some praise and an ever tolerant criticism. It manifests
incongruities and exaggerated metaphors which are at times painfully
unconventional or grotesque, yet they have a directness of representation
which admits of no doubt as to their meaning, and bear few traces of
a perfunctory art.

"Our arts are happy hits. We are like the musician on the lake whose
melody is sweeter than he knows, or like a traveller surprised by a
mountain echo whose trivial word returns to him in romantic


  Ackland, Sir Thomas, 47.
  Analysis, 68.
  Ancient drawings, 1.
  Antiquity of engraving, 2.
  _Apocalypsio sue Historia_, 7.
  Art representative, 3.
  Artistic purpose, 68.
  Artistic restoration, 63.
  Arundel, Duke of, 41.
  Assyrian antiquities, 4.
  Audran family, 4.

  Baillie, Captain, 46.
  Baldine, Baccio, 20.
  Bewick, Thomas, 9, 67.
  _Biblia Pauperum_, 7.
  Block books, 6.
  Botticelli, Sandio, 20.

  Cave dwellings, 1.
  Caxton, William, 26.
  Character, building up of, 52.
  Chinese playing cards, 5.
  Clever contrasts, 53.
  Colour dissection, 64.
  Commercial advantages, 13.
  Comparisons, 12, 13.
  Composition, 52, 53.
  Concise expression, 52.
  Constructive elements, 51.
  Controlling influences, 68.
  Cousins, Samuel, 47.
  Criticism, appreciative, 66.

  Dallaway, 26.
  Dante, 20.
  Degradation of tone, 54.
  Details, combination of, 52.
  Du Maurier, 60.
  Durer, Albert, 8, 21, 24, 40.
  Dutch masters, 67.

  Educative principle, 67.
  Egyptian monuments, 4.
  Emerson, 1, 5, 69.
  Engravers, early, 20.
  Engravers, interpretation, 49.
  Engravers, task, 48.
  Engraving, English, 26.
  Etching, 38.
  Etching, Dutch records, 38, 39.
  Etching, a summary, 40.
  Etching, description, 39.
  Etching, a stenography, 40.
  Etching, pictorial and artistic value, 40.
  Etching, light and shade in, 41.
  Etchings, Hollar's, 41.
  Evolution theory, 2.
  Execution, 54.
  Expression, 53.
  Extraneous matter, 52.

  Finiguerra, 18, 19, 21.
  Formschneider, 7.
  French engravers, 46.
  French engraving, 23.

  Gainsborough, 43.
  Gemeni, Thomas, 26, 27.
  German wood engraving, 6, 67.
  German engravers, 22.
  German portraits, 52.
  Gilray, James, 33.
  Goldsmith's _Deserted Village_, 33.
  Goltzius, Henry, 24.
  Greek art, 4.
  Gutenberg, 21.

  Half tone process engraving, 60, 61, 62.
  Heath, James, 36.
  Hieroglyphic figures, 4.
  _Historia Virginis_, 7.
  Historical records, 3, 50.
  Hogarth, 28, 31, 32.
  Hogenberg, Remigus, 27.
  Holbein, Hans, 8.
  Houbraken, 28.
  Hound, The, 9.
  Hudibras, 31.

  Illustrator, The, 14.
  Imaginary boundary, An, 51.
  Imaginative instinct, 20.
  Imaginative symbolism, 22.
  Inartistic work, 49.
  Inception of engraving, 1.
  Incised drawings, 1, 2.
  Intermediary values, 13.
  Ink photo, 65.
  Ink photo, expressive power, 65.
  Ink photo, intensity of, 65.
  Italian art, 22.
  Italian engraving, 22.
  Italian Niello, 18.

  Jacobite sympathies, 32.
  Justification, A, 66.

  Kartenmacher, 7.
  King of Terrors, The, 9.

  Lalanne, 38.
  Landscape engraving, 36.
  Landseer, 35, 36, 47.
  Lawrence, 35, 47.
  Lewis, F. C., 35.
  Leyden, Lucas van, 24.
  Light and shade, 53.
  Line process engraving, 59, 60.
  Litzelburger, Hans, 9.
  Louis XIV., 23.
  Ludwig, von Sigen, 42.
  Lutterell, 46.

  Mannerisms, 22, 54.
  Mantegna, Andrea, 20.
  Merchant marks, 6.
  Metal engraving, 9.
  Metal engraving, invention of, 18.
  Metal engraving, another account, 19.
  Mezzotint engraving, invention, 42, 43.
  Mezzotint engraving, qualities, 43, 44.
  Mezzotint engraving, popularised, 43, 44.
  Mezzotint engraving, described, 44.
  Movable types, 7.

  National characteristics, 21.
  Nation's progress, mirror of, 4.
  Nature's expression, 69.
  Neolithic period, 3.
  New Testament, 8.
  Northcote's pictures, 33.
  Nuremberg records, 7.

  Outline, 49, 51-52.
  Ornamental engraving, 18.

  Palæolithic period, 3.
  Parker, Archbishop, 27.
  Passe family, 27.
  Payne, John, 28.
  Perspective, 24.
  Perspective, aërial, 54.
  Perspective, linear, 54.
  Photo process, 57.
  Photogravure, artistic features, 64.
  Photogravure, description, 65.
  Photogravure, pictorial cards, 7.
  Place, Francis, 46.
  Pope's villa, 35.
  Prehistoric artistic power, 3.
  Prehistoric art, purpose of, 3.
  Primeval engraver, 3.
  Primeval man, 1.
  Prince Rupert, 43, 46.
  Process engraving, amplification of, 64.
  Process engraving, artistic, 58.
  Process engraving, commercial features, 58.
  Process engraving, value of, 57, 58.
  Progressive review, 23.
  Progressive process, 57, 58.
  Pye, John, 35.

  Queen Elizabeth, 27.

  Raimbach, 34, 35.
  Raimondi, Marc Antonio, 21.
  Raphael, 21.
  Realism, 68, 69.
  Religious illustrations, 7.
  Rembrandt, 24.
  Rembrandt's influence, 41.
  Renaissance, 19.
  Retrospect, 69.
  Reynolds, 34, 43.
  Rock, Jerome, 8.
  Romney, 45.
  Royal Sovereign, 28.

  Screen effect, 60, 61.
  Society of Arts, 47.
  _Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_, 7.
  Stipple engraving, 33.
  Strange, Robert, 32, 33.
  Style, 68.
  Symbolic figures, 4.

  Technique, 22, 23.
  Thirteenth century documents, 6.
  Three colour process, 64.
  Tone and texture, 49.
  Translation, 17.
  Tri-chromatography, 64.
  Turk's Head, 34.
  Turner, 35, 36, 37, 45, 67.

  Untutored art, 2.

  Vallerant Valliant, 43.
  Venetian navigators, 5.
  Vertue, 28.
  Vesalius, 26.

  Walpole, Horace, 28, 30.
  West, 34, 45.
  Wilkie, David, 35.
  Wilson, 34.
  Wood blocks, 5.
  Wood engraving, 5.
  Wood engraving, combination of lines, 14.
  Wood engraving, justification of, 13.
  Wood engraving, power of realisation, 14.
  Wood engraving, pictorial and artistic effects, 14.
  Wood engraving, renaissance, 9.
  Wood engraving, variety of texture, 14.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Printed by_ MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED, _Edinburgh_

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