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Title: Joseph Pennell's Pictures of the Wonder of Work
Author: Pennell, Joseph
Language: English
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     HIM ABOUT THE WORLD, 1881-1915, WITH








Work to-day is the greatest thing in the world, and the artist who best
records it will be best remembered. Work has always been an inspiration
to artists, from the time when we were told to earn our bread by the
sweat of our brow, till now, when most of us are trying to forget the
command, and act like "ladies and gentlemen."

Under the Church, work—the building of the Tower of Babel and the
Temple—was the subject of endless imaginings by painters, sculptors and
gravers who never assisted at the functions they illustrated. Painters,
who sat in their studios hundreds of years after the towers and temples
were designed and destroyed, have showed what they imagined the towers
and the temples looked like. This—this sort of creation or invention—we
art students in America called "genius work" because it was "done out
of our heads." In Europe it is called "scholarly," and is concocted
from a classical dictionary; a trip for a few weeks to Greece or Italy
is useful but not necessary, and adds to the expense; illustrated post
cards may be used instead.

Now educated people, cultured people, take such painters seriously—and
pay to sit in darkened chambers and brood. These are carefully but sadly
illuminated, and the spectators pursue with diligence, scarce looking at
the exhibits, the remarks of critics who prove conclusively that these
painters show exactly what the world was like, what buildings were like
and how they were built, and how the builders worked according to the
bookman and archæologist, and the critic.

Now as to these popular forms of art—the backbone of academics,—I
know, for I am a multi-academician—I have nothing to say. The results,
in a few instances, have been works of art because of excellence of
technique. But the man with the greatest imagination is the man with
the greatest information about his own surroundings, which he uses so
skilfully that we call the result imagination, and this is the way the
greatest art of the world has been created.

I am not disputing the power, in their day, nor the charm they still
have—for the very few who understand—of Cimabue, of Giotto, of the
painters of the Campo Santo at Pisa, when they painted the subjects I
have mentioned, nor of Pintoricchio—he put work in the background of
his paintings, as Dürer did in his prints. And there is a wonderful
building of a cathedral by Van Eyck in Antwerp. There are compositions
by Bellini and Carpaccio which show they studied work. It is strange,
so far as I know, that Leonardo ignored work—in his pictures—he who was
such a great workman, yet vowed he could paint with any one, amongst his
other accomplishments. But, with all these artists, either work was a
detail or imaginative; it was never the dominant motive, never a study
of work for work's sake. There are a few records in sculpture, most
notable amongst them being the Assyrian Reliefs at the British Museum.
Curiously, I am unable to find, though they must exist, any sculptures,
reliefs or paintings of the great architectural work of the Egyptians—or
those of the Greeks either. In the Bayeux tapestries there is the work
of the shipbuilder and porter.

The first artist I know of—though I am not an art historian—to see the
pictorial possibility of work, the Wonder of Work for Work's Sake, was

Rembrandt saw that his father's mill was beautiful, and by his
renderings of the windmills and the dykes of Holland proved them the
great works of his little country, and showed they were pictorial. And
he drew, etched and painted them because he loved their big powerful
forms, their splendid sails, the way they lorded the land and kept out
the sea. They were for him the Wonder of Work, the wondrous works of his
time, the works that were all about him. So strong and so powerful were
these Dutch works that they have lasted till to-day, and so well were
they designed that all windmills and watermills have kept their form
till now. The working parts have possibly been improved, but the design
has not been changed, and Rembrandt's etchings—so accurately drawn they
would serve as working models—prove it. And yet Rembrandt has made a
perfect artistic composition as well as a true mechanical rendering of
these mills and dykes. And as Whistler said in the "Ten O'clock," the
Bible of Art, Rembrandt regretted not that the Jews of the Ghetto were
not Greeks, nor—may I add?—did he regret the windmills were not temples.

Then came Claude and found the Wonder of Work in commercial harbours,
dominated by necessary lighthouses, and in the hustling cities of Civita
Vecchia and Genoa—for it is amid the work, the life of one's own time,
that the Wonder of Work is to be found.

Canaletto followed, and saw in the building of Venice the same
inspiration that Tintoret found in her history, Titian in her great men.
And Piranesi discovered the prisons, the Carceri, to be as enthralling
as the ruins of Rome.

Turner imitated Claude. Claude saw his subjects about him; Turner used
Claude's motives and tried to rival his predecessor. Claude painted
what he saw in his own time; Turner tried to reconstruct his unconscious
rival's facts out of his head, and failed even in his rendering of work
about him, signally in Steam, Rain, Speed, where an impossible engine
conducts itself in an incredible fashion in a magnificent landscape.
Turner was not here trying to carry on tradition—the only thing worth
doing in art—but to _embêter les bourgeois_—and Ruskin!

Turner's Carthage would not stand up, if built—Claude's palaces do.
Turner, too, defying Ruskin—Ruskin anathematising workaday England—was
a spectacle. But Turner was sometimes in the right, with Constable and
Crome, and they, and not Ruskin, have triumphed. Turner had magnificent
ideas, wonderful colour sense, grand composition. But when he came
to fact he was often ridiculous or pitiful, simply because he had not
observed work, noted facts—and to paint work one must study work. And
lately I was given a print from a Book of Beauty by Allom of a coke
furnace, while Mr. Joseph Jackson has discovered a painting of a forge
by Bass Otis in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts—surprisingly
well done, both are, too.

It is far easier to paint a heavenly host or a dream city in one's
studio than to make a decoration out of a group of miners, or to draw
a rolling mill in full blast. Yet one of these subjects can be as noble
as the other, as Whistler proved, when he showed for the first time how
in London "the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the
tall chimneys become campanile, and the warehouses are palaces in the
night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens and fairyland is before
us." That is the Gospel of the Wonder of Work.

Though I never studied under Whistler—never was his pupil—he is and
always will be my master—the master of the modern world, the master
who will endure. Because he glorified the things about him, the
things he knew, by "The Science of the Beautiful." What are the Thames
etchings—"Wapping," "The Last of Old Westminster," "The Nocturnes"—but
records of work? A fact most critics have never realised. But Whistler
was a many-sided—a so many-sided—genius that his many essays in many
fields are only just becoming known, and this study of work—the most
difficult study in the world, under the most trying conditions—was never
abandoned by him till he said what he wanted, in the ways he wanted,
not till he had made a series of masterpieces which live and will live

But there was a man—all the great have gone from us in the last few
years, which accounts for the momentary popularity of the little—there
was a man who gave his later life to the Wonder of Work—Constantin

"_Un jour—Meunier approchait déjà de la cinquantaine—Camille Lemonnier
l'emmena dans le Hainaut: il devait y faire quelques illustrations pour
La Belgique. Ce voyage de Meunier à travers le Borinage lui fut une
révélation. Il s'y découvrit lui-même, il y découvrit son art. Dans ce
sombre paysage de fumée et de feu, dans le halètement formidable des
fabriques, parmi les farouches mineurs et les puddleurs et les verriers,
toute une humanité damnée à la peine, son âme tragique s'emplit de cette
pitié et de cette admiration qui devaient résonner à travers tout son
art. Il avait conquis son propre domaine._

"_Meunier a conquis à l'art la beauté spéciale de la nouvelle industrie:
la formidable fabrique, pleine de lumière sombre et de tonnerre, les
fêtes flamboyantes des fonderies, la puissance grondante des machines.
Et toujours cette tendance est au monumental._

"_L'hymne au Travail chante avec plus de force lyrique encore dans ses

This was his life work, and the life of his world, the world, as with
Whistler, around him, for "that is best which nearest lieth." Courbet
in work had influenced Legros and Brett and Millet and Segantini, and I
have no doubt Ford Madox Brown, the man too big to be a pre-Raphaelite,
whose biggest picture is work—"Work in London"—the man who will one day
make Manchester a place of pilgrimage because of his pictures of work
and of war in the Town Hall.

The Japanese count for a little in work, Hokusai and Hiroshigi. Repine
and De Nittis, L'Hermette, Bastien-Lepage, Tissot, Ridley, and W. L.
Wyllie have shown the Wonder of Work, the last three on the Thames; and
hundreds of imitators of these men have starved peasants, herded kine,
rowed boats, and sat in harvest fields, and hauled barges, because they
thought it the correct thing to do, or else that they could work the
sentimental, pathetic, socialistic game as a diversion from mummy's
darling, baby and the mustard-pot, dear little doggie, or poor old
Dobbin. I do not mean to say there have not been, there are not, artists
who have cared for the work and workers of the fields for their own
sake: there are some; but I wish to speak only of industrial work.
Millet has, I believe, honestly done the life around his home, the life
of the fields, but, though he has endless imitators, there are scarcely
any painters to-day who see through their own eyes the real life of the
fields and farms and the fisherman—they are blinded by the Frenchman
and debauched with sentiment.

It was incredible, but at the Panama-Pacific Exposition there was not
one single official "mural" devoted to the glorification of the greatest
work of modern times—the Panama Canal—the reason for the Exposition—in
fact, there was only one in which there was any attempt at making a
decoration out of the things the artist might have known or seen save
Mr. Trumbull's Iron Workers in the Pennsylvania Building—and a few
rather unimportant things in the Dutch and Argentine Pavilions.

Meunier showed without sentiment the workman at work, not with any idea
of preaching about his wrongs, his trials, his struggles, his misery,
but to show the Wonder of Work for its own sake, and the pictorial
possibilities of workmen and workwomen in Belgium. Meunier showed
that the workman was worthy of the artist's chisel, chalk, needle,
and paint. There is no sentiment about Meunier; there is grandeur,
dignity, and power, and from him we have learned that modern work is
wonderful. Meunier was an old man when a few years ago I first heard
of him and saw his work. He had then done his heroic "Antwerp" and his
puddlers and miners in bronze, his paintings and his chalk drawings,
his decorations, his great apse for the unbuilt basilica—the monument to
modern work and workers. His work is decorative because it is true, and
this brings up another side of the Wonder of Work. In France, Germany,
and Italy the Wonder of Work around us has been made the subject of
endless commissions from the State to artists mostly realistic. But
records of facts, facts of one's own time, in England and America, are
scarcely ever recorded. Go to the Royal Exchange, in London, and you
will find Wat Tyler, Phœnicians, Britons painted blue, and everything
in the history of London that can be made into a painting of the past,
and not a single record of the present. Where is the building of the
Tower Bridge, the Power Houses, the Docks, the Blackwall Tunnel, the
Trams, the Tube, or any of the other works by which this age, this
workaday age, has distinguished itself, all of which are worth painting?
In America we have imaginings of Holy Grails, Pied Pipers, Religious
Liberties, when one fact in "murals" about steel works, skyscrapers,
or the Brooklyn Bridge would be worth the lot in the future, when
these factless fancies are whitewashed out, or made a good ground to
paint on. One man in America, W. B. Van Ingen, has glorified work by
his Panama decorations in the Administration Building at Balboa. These
were not wanted at the Panama Exhibition. In France men like Henri
Martin have painted decoratively, yet realistically, the harvest of
last summer; Besnard and Anquetin have done wonders; and the biggest
French artists have decorated the Mairies. In Chicago they turn students
out to make "murals" in school houses, a system of artistic debauchery
worthy of Chicago's originality. And Puvis de Chavannes, first of all
magnificently showed the way to combine the old decoration with the new
realism. His life work at Amiens is pure convention, so are his designs
in the Boston Library and in the Sorbonne, but they are the most perfect
examples of decorative, imaginative, conventional work in the modern

At Rouen and Marseilles he has treated decoratively modern subjects,
or rather he has used modern motives. At Rouen, the city with its
spires and chimneys, its old bridges and new transporters, as seen from
Bon Secours, prove the Wonder of Work; in the foreground are modern
figures, greeting the Spirit of old France. At Marseilles there are two
subjects in which symbolism and realism, modernity and mediævalism are
harmonised—the most difficult problem to solve; but Puvis has solved
it, and proved himself the greatest if not the only decorator since
Pierro della Francesco, the supreme master of decoration. Raphael, in
the Stanzi of the Vatican, was a decorator of his own time, and so was
Pintoricchio in the Library at Siena, and Mantegna at Padua, for they
made decoration out of the life about them.

And John Lavery has made, in Glasgow, a decoration out of shipbuilding
which is worth the whole wall coverings of the Royal Exchange and
the Library of Congress, and the Carnegie Institute put together. But
decoration is a difficult matter, and Lavery has done much for Glasgow.
I regret that John Alexander and E. A. Abbey, who had far better
official opportunities, only proved how unfit the average painter is to

From the very beginning I have cared for the Wonder of Work; from the
time I built cities of blocks and sailed models of ships of them across
the floor in my father's office, till I went to the Panama Canal, I
have cared for the Wonder of Work. There are others who care—Brangwyn
has cared, and so have Sauter, Muirhead Bone, Strang and Short. Crane
and Anning Bell, Way, Cameron, Bone and Brangwyn have cared for the
building up and the breaking down, and Brangwyn for life—the life of the
workman, possibly because of his Belgian and seafaring education or his
knowledge of Meunier, his countryman. And Seymour Haden's "Breaking-up
the Agamemnon" is notable. And there are Belgians like Baertsoen, de
Bruyeke and Pierre Paulus; and Frenchmen like Lepere, Gillot and Adler;
and Italians like Pieretto Bianco, and there was the great German

But it is to America we must turn, to White's etching of Brooklyn
Bridge, Cooper's skyscrapers, Alden Weir's New York at night,
Bellow's docks, Childe Hassam's high buildings, Thornton Oakley's coal
breakers—to these one must look for the modern rendering of work. There
are others, too, who have seen the opportunity to prig and steal—but
this is evident, just as it is evident that they will give up painting
or drawing work for the next new thing. And there is another artist
who really cares for the Wonder of Work. I do not know what else Van
Ingen has done, but he has made a huge decoration of Culebra Cut—and
Paul Bartlett has put American work on the pediment of the Capitol. I
have tried to do what I could in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, the
coal mines of my native State—Niagara—and in Europe and at Panama; and
whatever their worth, I can only tell of the Wonder of Work as I see it.

New York, as the incoming foreigner, full of prejudice, or doubt, or
hope, and the returning American, crammed with guide-book and catalogue
culture, see it or might see it, rises a vision, a mirage of the lower
bay, the colour by day more shimmering than Venice, by night more
magical than London. In the morning the mountains of buildings hide
themselves, to reveal themselves in the rosy steam clouds that chase
each other across their flanks; when evening fades, they are mighty
cliffs glimmering with glistening lights in the magic and mystery of the
night. As the steamer moves up the bay on the left the Great Goddess
greets you, a composition in colour and form, with the city beyond,
finer than any in any world that ever existed, finer than Claude ever
imagined, or Turner ever dreamed. Why did not Whistler see it? Piling up
higher and higher right before you is New York; and what does it remind
you of? San Gimignano of the Beautiful Towers away off in Tuscany, only
here are not eleven, but eleven times eleven, not low mean brick piles,
but noble palaces crowned with gold, with green, with rose; and over
them the waving, fluttering plume of steam, the emblem of New York. To
the right, filmy and lace-like by day, are the great bridges; by night
a pattern of stars that Hiroshigi never knew. You land in streets that
are Florence glorified. You emerge in squares more noble than Seville.
Golden statues are about you, triumphal arches make splendid frames for
endless vistas; and it is all new and all untouched, all to be done,
and save for the work of a few of us, and we are Americans, all undone.
The Unbelievable City, the city that has been built since I grew up, the
city beautiful, built by men I know, built for people I know. The city
that inspires me, that I love. And all America is like this and—all—or
nearly all unseen, unknown, untouched.

I went to Panama because I believed that, in the making of the greatest
work of modern time, I should find my greatest inspiration.

Almost before I left the Canal, artists, architects and decorators
were on their way there. I hope it may interest them half as much as
it interested me. One man has succeeded, I repeat, in doing something
for himself down there—W. B. Van Ingen—and this has been acknowledged
by the government, which has purchased his great decoration. This is
the finest, in fact the only complete decorative work from him done in
the United States—and done because Van Ingen, the pupil of La Farge—who
alone counts—was trained in the right way and had something to say for

We have recently been told that art will disappear in fifty years
(by a person who says he will call his last book—with possible
appropriateness—_Vale_). But, though he will disappear, and Post
Impressionism will be swallowed up in shopkeeping, and war has engulfed
that, and work is stopped—save for war—and though the mustard pot has
gone with the soulful doggie, and the tearful baby rival of the Dresden
Madonna, the artist who has something to say in his own way about
his own time, and can say it, will live, and his work will live, with
Rembrandt, Velasquez, Franz Hals, Meunier, and Whistler—artists who
painted and drew the work and life about them, who carried on tradition,
and never regretted the past. And art which shows life and work will
never die, for such art is everlasting, undying, "The Science of the


This introduction is founded on a lecture delivered before the Royal
Society of Arts, London, and awarded its medal, and an article published
by _The Studio_, and the author wishes to thank the Council and
Publisher for permission to reproduce parts of it. And it was repeated
before the Royal College of Art, London, The Corporation of Bradford
and the British Architectural Association, London, etc.



     THE NEW HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA                                    II



     OIL WELLS, ALBERTA, BRITISH COLUMBIA                            V

     STEEL AT GARY, INDIANA                                         VI

     THE JAWS, CHICAGO                                             VII

     STOCK YARDS, CHICAGO                                         VIII

     UNDER THE BRIDGES, CHICAGO                                     IX

     THE CAMBRIA STEEL WORKS, JOHNSTOWN                              X

     PITTSBURGH, NO. 3                                              XI

     EDGAR THOMSON STEEL WORKS, PITTSBURGH                         XII

     ON THE WAY TO BESSEMER                                       XIII

     CARNEGIE'S WORKS, HOMESTEAD                                   XIV

     COAL BREAKERS, SHENANDOAH                                      XV

     WORK CASTLES, WILKES-BARRE                                    XVI

     BUILDING A POWER-HOUSE, NIAGARA                              XVII



     BUTTE, MONTANA, ON ITS MOUNTAIN TOP                            XX

     ANACONDA, MONTANA                                             XXI


     ORE WHARVES, DULUTH                                         XXIII

     ORE MINES, HIBBING                                           XXIV

     FLOUR MILLS, MINNEAPOLIS                                      XXV

     THE INCLINE, CINCINNATI                                      XXVI

     VICTOR EMMANUEL MONUMENT AT ROME                            XXVII

     REBUILDING THE CAMPANILE, VENICE                           XXVIII

     RETURN FROM WORK, CARRARA, ITALY                             XXIX

     THE NEW BAY OF BAIE, ITALY                                    XXX

     THE HARBOR AT GENOA, ITALY                                   XXXI

     THE GREAT WHITE CLOUD, LEEDS, ENGLAND                       XXXII

     POTLAND, ENGLAND                                           XXXIII

     THE RIVER OF WORK, LEEDS, ENGLAND                           XXXIV

     THE GREAT CHIMNEY, BRADFORD, ENGLAND                         XXXV

     THE GREAT STACK, SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND                         XXXVI

     THAMES WORKS, LONDON                                       XXXVII



     THE LAKE OF FIRE, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM                           XL

     THE GREAT DUMP, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM                            XLI

     THE IRON GATE, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM                            XLII

     CRANES, DUISBURG, GERMANY                                   XLIII

     NEW RHINE, GERMANY                                           XLIV





     SHIPYARD, HAMBURG, GERMANY                                   XLIX

     KRUPP'S WORKS, ESSEN, GERMANY                                   L

     POWER-HOUSE, BERLIN, GERMANY                                   LI

     SCHNAPPS AT SCHIEDAAM, HOLLAND                                LII


This etching proves that my love of the Wonder of Work is no new thing,
for it was done in 1881, out of my studio window in Chestnut Street,
Philadelphia, on the hot morning that Garfield was shot. Even then I
knew what I wanted to do, but I had no idea that—with certain breaks—all
my life would be given to the Wonder of Work—the work that is all about
us, the most wonderful thing in the world.



I can remember the bed of mortar in the street, the hod-carrier toiling
up the ladder, the bricklayers above on the scaffold, and I have drawn
such things; but to find during one's lifetime such a development of
building in my own city is amazing, but it is well worth recording—this
phase of the Wonder of Work.



One hot summer evening I was asked to dine at the University Club, and
this drawing is the result. I had no idea that I would get anything
but—as one always does in Philadelphia—a good dinner. I have forgotten
the good dinner and the doubtless good talk, but I shall never forget
the towering buildings, in the coming night, grouped round the low
houses, and the dark hole from which the steel skeleton was emerging,
soon to become higher and mightier than the grim masses amid which it
was growing. So I came back the next day and drew it.



If any one cares to look up a copy of the _Century Magazine_—or it was
then _Scribner's_—for about 1880 or 1881, there will be found in it
my first published drawing of the Wonder of Work—and of this same oil
refinery at Point Breeze. Now I am back in Philadelphia, years after,
and I have found the same subject as full of inspiration as ever. And
though the editors of that date were willing to publish my drawings
of such subjects then—now they won't have them, or use those of my
flatterers—I mean imitating thieves. But there is scarce an art editor
left—that profession scarce exists any longer.



I have never yet found a perfectly satisfactory oil field, as a subject
for the Wonder of Work. The wells are not big enough, they are all
alike, and there is no smoke. I confess I once thought an oil well
gushed like a geyser, hundreds of feet in the air, and, when it was not
doing that, belched forth gorgeous columns and clouds of smoke. I was
told that the first was prevented with difficulty, and that by dropping
a match into the pipe I could easily produce the second effect—though
either might cost me a million; still, the fact remains, I have yet
to find a really fine oil field—and a really fine effect over it. The
refineries, however, make up for the wells.



If there is anything in carrying on tradition it is here, for here
at these new works, the engineers, the steel makers, have built mills
which are nothing more than Rembrandt's mills glorified and magnified.
And everything in the Wonder of Work is only carrying on tradition.
Every mill, every dock, every railroad station, every bridge, every
skyscraper is but a development of the work of the Greeks and Romans.
In trying to show this Wonder of Work to-day I am only trying to do
what has been done already with Greek art and literature. We are not
original and never can be. We may believe we are and prove ourselves
ignorant or cubists, but the cubists are so ignorant—or think the public
are—that they only prig from archaic art. We can carry on tradition with
difficulty; we can easily turn backward or stand still. Those who have
created the Wonder of Work do not turn back—artists do not—duffers do.



Here is the real Chicago. This was the first of these jaws I ever saw;
they are horrible, but fascinating, and typify the power, frightfulness,
and get-there of that mighty village: picturesque beyond words, terrible
beyond description, fascinating beyond belief. The most amazing thing
in the most amazing mix-up in the world—Chicago.



The lines of the pens or corrals, or whatever they are called, are
fascinating to draw—and fascinating it is to watch the picadors, or
cowboys, or whatever you call them, rounding up the cattle, and all
the lines of the design lead up to the packing-houses which fill the
distance. I have never been in them, don't want to go, and have no
interest in the social, financial, or sanitary condition of them. I am
always being criticised for lacking interest in such matters, but my
critics do not realize I am simply an artist searching for the Wonder
of Work—not for morals—political economy—stories of sweating—the crime
of ugliness. I am trying to record the Wonder of Work as I see it, that
is all.



Bridges should be seen sometimes from below—from nowhere else are
they so impressive. The New York bridges become a thousand times more
impressive, the Forth Bridge stretches on forever, the Viaduct de
Garibault grows more and more graceful, the bridges at Chicago grimmer.
This is the grimmest I have found.



Always when I have been going or coming east or west on the Pennsylvania
and reached Johnstown I have meant to stop, for from the train it seemed
so fine. Now I have stopped and know it is far finer than I imagined,
and that there are endless subjects up and down the river banks, but
this one of the steel works seems to me the finest—as magnificent as
any I have ever seen anywhere.



Way down below the level road on which I stood, way on the opposite side
of the river, Pittsburgh lies a dark, low mass, hemmed in by its rivers,
lorded by its hills; in the hollow the smoke hangs so dense often I
could not see the city at all, but once in a while a breeze falls on
the town, and the great white skyscrapers come forth from the thick,
black cloud, and the effect is glorious—the glorification of Work, for
Pittsburgh is the work-city of the world.



I found these works and this view of them on a trolley ride out of
Pittsburgh. They group themselves under their canopy of smoke as
finely as any in the world, and every works in the Wonder of Work has
character—just as a tree has—but how much more impressive is a row of
blast furnaces, oil wells, and coal breakers, than trees! Yet these
are the subjects of our age—naturally, scarcely any one ever looks at
them, especially artists—though I hear the "young artists" of America
have with money prizes been encouraged to take up "Labor" as a change
from painting "murals"—but you can't help people to be artists or to see
things, they must do it for themselves. The only artists who see things
in the world are engineers and a few architects, for the mill has taken
the place of the cathedral—and the great craftsmen who once worked for
Popes now work for captains of industry—for art follows money.



A few years ago it would have been impossible to have done, or even
found, the subjects in this book, for one would have had an impossible
tramp, or a trip in a hack, and the nuisance and expense of it all,
while the roads rarely went near the mills or works. Now the trolley
whisks you about, and frequently deserts the roads to get to the mills
and pick up its passengers, the workmen. The trolley is by far the best
guide to the Wonder of Work in the world. I had no idea what was at
Bessemer—or rather on the way to it. I had been in the works, but as the
car mounted the hill I saw the subject behind me, and at the next stop
jumped off and drew it, and it is in this way my work has been done.
It's all adventure—the adventure of hunting for the Wonder of Work, and
the love of the hunt has carried me all over Europe and America.



In the works at Homestead what interested me was the way the mills
lie under the hills on the curving river, the way that winds up to
them, the way the graceful iron bridges span it, and the deep-sighing
steamboats push the barges up and down; the way the clouds mingle with
the smoke—the composition that is there.



One afternoon, hunting for subjects, I took the trolley from Mahanoy
City in the sunset to Shenandoah, and as we breasted a hill this is what
I saw: the long lines of crosses are trolley poles—the huge castle a
coal breaker, the great town American, but the people, the miners who
go to the churches which crown it, speak languages and worship creeds
I do not know or understand. There, and not in Philadelphia, are the
new Americans—but most Americans do not know it—for their ways are not
Philadelphia ways, and their thoughts not those of Spruce Street. And
there is not a man among them who speaks English hardly—and they are
too ignorant to know that England is their "Mother Land." But there is
even more ignorance in Spruce Street.



From the end of the new bridge which has replaced the wonderful old
wooden ones that got one somehow across the Susquehanna and other
American rivers, wandering just at sunset up the beautiful bank of the
beautiful river, I found this splendid subject. All, many would say,
that was wanted were some knights bringing home fair ladies; all, others
would say, was the poor workman, trudging, filled with Millet sentiment,
whiskey, or his wrongs, to the filthy hole he is allowed to live in and
call his—for the time—home; for these mining towns, the fault of their
inhabitants, are pigsties—pigsties that no government in any country in
the world but this would permit. It is only in America that immigrants
live like hogs—as they like—no government in Europe would permit it. I
have seen both hemispheres and know most social reformers have not—and
would not know if they had. We are trying to clean up the world before
we can clean our back yards. But I only looked at the coal breaker as
making, perfecting, carrying out a composition in a glorious landscape,
and for that reason I sat down and drew it.



The purists and the theorists have made a great fuss about the
destruction of the Falls and the vandals who have done it. Now the
Falls, I believe, have not been lowered an inch, and as for the
power-houses, they are most of them Greek temples, and placed just where
the Greeks would have placed them. For once the Greek temple is right
in America, and therefore the American purist and theorist doesn't like
it—he would not have liked Greek temples had he been Greek. I did not
draw the temples, but the temples being built, which was interesting.
Below the bridge on the American side are older works, wondrous works,
high on the cliffs, great overflows of water gushing from the rock.
If they were in Tivoli the purists would sit down between two trains
and snapshot the “"cute”" Villa d’'Else and the “"hansome”" Villa of
Hadrian, or revile the spaghetti, while a courier quoted Baedeker at
them. At Niagara they take off their clothes, put their feet on the
piazza rail of the Canadian hotel, sigh over the power-houses, delight
in ginger-ale, and forget the Falls, in the pages of a Saturday Home
Magazine. This lithograph is a proof that engineers design to-day for
companies, not churches.



This was the end, and a most pictorial end, of the old Everett House, a
hotel which had character as so few now have—in New York. I saw it one
cold November night and made the sketch on my way to a dinner party in
old New York. The dinner waited till I got a sketch done, for I knew
the construction man would not. So it was done.



Here is a moody colossus—sometimes it is fine, sometimes filthy. It
was all right the day I made this drawing, stately amid the clouds.
One thing it has done—it has made a new sky line and brought New York
together again. It comes up best from the river, but no longer do the
Brooklyn river-boats run; from them I used to get the best views. Still,
there are other ways of seeing the Wonder of Work even now at New York.



Butte is the most pictorial place in America—therefore no one stops
at it—and most people pass it in the night, or do not take the trouble
to look out of the car windows as they go by. But there it is. On the
mountain side spring up the huge shafts. The top is crowned not with
trees but with chimneys. Low black villages of miners' houses straggle
toward the foot of the mountain. The barren plain is covered with gray,
slimy masses of refuse which crawl down to it—glaciers of work—from the
hills. The plain is seared and scored and cracked with tiny canyons, all
their lines leading to the mountain. If you have the luck to reach the
town early in the morning you will find it half revealed, half concealed
in smoke and mist and steam, through which the strange shafts struggle
up to the light, while all round the horizon the snow peaks silently
shimmer above the noisy, hidden town. If you have the still better
fortune to reach it late in the evening you will see an Alpine glow
that the Alps have never seen. In the middle of the day the mountains
disappear and there is nothing but glare and glitter, union men and
loafers about.



I have seen many volcanoes, a few in eruption—that was terrible—but
this great smelter at Anaconda always, while I was there, pouring from
its great stack high on the mountain its endless cloud pall of heavy,
drifting, falling smoke, was more wonderful—for this volcano is man's
work and one of the Wonders of Work. Dead and gray and bare are the
nearby hills, glorious the snow-covered peaks far off, but incredible
is this endless rolling, changing pillar of cloud, always there, yet
always different—and that country covered with great lakes, waterless,
glittering, great lava beds of refuse stretching away in every direction
down the mountain sides into the valleys, swallowing up every vestige of
life, yet beautiful with the beauty of death—a death, a plague which day
by day spreads farther and farther over the land—silently overwhelming,
all-devouring—a silent place of smoke and fire.



The lines of the winding waterways, each leading to a furnace, a mill,
an elevator, are simply beautiful and the color absolutely lovely. This
is the modern landscape—a landscape that Claude would have loved. All
his composition is in it—only the mills have replaced the palaces, the
trestle the aqueduct; instead of the stone pine, there stands the water
tower; instead of the cypress, the automatic signal; instead of the
Cross, the trolley pole. Soon, however, all this will go—the mystery of
the smoke will vanish in the clearness of electricity, and the mystery
of the trestle in the plainness of the concrete bridge. But it is here
now, and the thing is to delight in it. Artists don't see it—and the
railroad men who have made it don't know any more than the Greeks what
a marvellous thing they have made.



Mighty, terrifying are these monsters—filled chock-full with ore, which,
when the empty steamers come alongside, vomit roaring red and gold and
brown streams of ore that load them in half an hour, or less, and then
are ready for more.



If one wants an idea of what the Culebra Cut looked like, when
the Panama Canal was being dug through the mountains, it is only
necessary to go to the ore mines near Duluth. There are the same great
terraces, the same steam shovels, digging and loading the dirt, the
same engines and trains, and in some of the pits the forms are even
fine—amphitheatres,—only the seats and steps are gigantic. But when the
shadows begin to creep up from below, the place becomes a theatre for
the gods, a theatre where there are no spectators, and the actors are
the steam shovels with their white plumes and the engines with their
black clouds. But they are finer far than any poor mummer's makeshifts.
And every now and then comes a burst of applause as a blast is fired
more thrilling than ever heard in a play theatre. This is the theatre
of the Wonder of Work.



The mills of Minneapolis are as impressive as the cathedrals of France.
There are places on the river where they group themselves into the same
compositions, with the bridges below them, that I found years ago at
Albi—only the color is different: the rosy red of the French brick is
changed to dull concrete gray. The tree masses below are the same, and
the old stone railroad bridge over the Mississippi is just as drawable
as that over the Tarn. The beauty of the flour mills is the beauty
of use—they carry out William Morris's theory that "everything useful
should be beautiful"—but I don't know what he would have said to them.
There are other subjects which recall Tivoli, where the streams gush out
from the bluffs or tumble and rush and roar from dark caverns between
the huge modern masses of masonry as finely as they do in far-away
Italy. Those were the shrines of the gods—these are the temples of work,
the temples of our time.



There are hundreds of these inclines—ascenseurs, finiculari, in
the world—all fascinating from above or below—but I know of none so
fascinating as this even among the numbers at Cincinnati—none in which
the pitch is steeper, the stop so sudden—none where the streets lead
direct to the heart of the city; no city so dominated, concentrated, at
its heart, by its lone white skyscraper, as Cincinnati. That is why I
drew it; and, as I drew, the boy who opened and shut the gates came and
told me he wanted to be a poet, that he was a poet, and that Poe was
the greatest American author, which most great Americans do not know,
and that he loved Shelley, and so I recommended Whitman to him, of whom
he had not heard, and advised him to attend to his gates and his poetry
and then he might do something. And he asked me if I had done anything
myself. If I had made good! Well, have I?



A triumph of misdirected work which has swallowed millions with no
result—only while it was being built, the scaffolding which surrounded
it was magnificent, and from where I made the drawing on the Palatine
it told the story of ancient, mediæval, and modern work in Rome.



The changes in the methods of work between Canaletto's time and mine
were never more clearly shown. When he drew the building being restored,
it was hidden in scaffolding; when it was rebuilt, as I saw it, a
few years ago, everything was done from the inside, till the top was
reached, men and materials being carried up on elevators. It is said
one of our ingenious American Captains of Labor offered to rebuild it
free if the Venetians would let him put two elevators in, and have the
profits of them for twenty-five years, after which he would hand it to
the city and retire on the results. The Syndic declined, but put in the



I have never seen anything so impressive as the quarries at Carrara.
The great white masses one can see as the train passes Carrara station,
or from Pisa, are not snow, as many think, but marble—high on the tops
of the mountains, quarried for centuries by regiments of men who toil
on foot, in trains or are swung up in baskets to the summit. Then down
the roughest track, only smoothed by the blocks, the marble is dragged
by teams of oxen, driven by men sitting backward, to the railroad or
the harbor. The contrast between the dazzling blocks, the blue sky and
black trees, and untouched mountain side is intense.



I have no doubt I shall be told I am cheekily reckless to tackle
Turner's subject—I have even known a collector to get rid of this print
with scorn—but I am glad I drew it. I do not know if Turner made his
drawing from the same point. Just where, after the long climb up the
hill from Naples, between the cliffs, the road begins to descend, it
turns, and all this is before you. I do not know whether it will be in
existence when the book appears, or battered to ruin, but I do know that
nowhere in the world is there such a combination of classic and mediæval
motives and the spirit of modern work as in this view from the top of
the hill looking down on the land and the sea near Naples.



In Italy alone can the wonder of the old and new work be found. This
subject must have been sketched by Claude—for these two lighthouses
appear—or others like them—possibly at Civita Vecchia, again and again
in his paintings. But he never saw the harbor crowded with steamers,
the twinkling lines of electric light, the cranes, the engines and the
docks. I have, and have tried to draw them all.



I saw this extraordinary effect one day at Leeds. Nothing could be finer
than the way the great, strange furnaces told like castles—and they are
work castles—against the great white clouds of a summer day in England.



On its little hill, entirely covering it among the Five Towns, stands
this work town. Pottery kilns and chimneys, and not church spires and
campanile, crown it. But in that land of work—coal mines and factory
stacks about—it is perfect as a composition—as fine as any of the little
towns Rembrandt drew and Dürer built. I don't even know its name.



Slow-moving, filthy, black—here and there gleams of iridescence lovely
as old glass—that come from oil waste on the water—it winds smellily
through the Black County of England. There are many of these rivers in
the world. Over them brood black, murky clouds, great black chimneys
vomit black smoke, and then for a moment the sun breaks through and
turns all to glory.



There it stood, solitary—beyond, behind, below—climbing up the endless
hills silhouetting the horizon, revealed and hidden by showers, smoke,
clouds, chimneys and chimneys and chimneys—the endless landmarks of
industrial England.

This etching illustrates, too, the necessity of doing the Wonder of Work
when you find a subject, and not saying, "I will come again and do it
later"—and you must find your subjects for yourself: no one can tell
you where there is a fine smoke effect or a stunning steam jet. I had
made the etching and later was in Bradford again and went back to look
at it. Not only had it all been fenced in, but a new factory was being
built round it—it had completely disappeared.



If either you have the brains, or it is clear enough, you can see this
great stack dominating the whole landscape and townscape as you come out
of the railroad station at Sheffield. A great American literary person
actually saw it and regretted, on an editorial page, that no artist ever
looked at such subjects; but when I not only wrote him that I had etched
it already and sent him a proof to prove it, he never acknowledged my
letter, but he kept the proof. I may say that in 1883 I made a series
of illustrations of work subjects in Sheffield which were printed in
_Harper's Magazine_. Two things always impressed me in that town—the
boiling water in the rivers and the abominable habits of the natives in
the streets, who from across the rivers and behind walls and other safe
places "'eave arf a brick" at you if you dare to draw.



Along the sunny Thames still linger the old docks, old warehouses—worked
in the old out-of-date way—mostly by hand. Ashore and afloat the port
of London is the most out-of-date place in the world—and it's scarcely
even picturesque any longer.



This is the Volcano of Work, and the blast furnaces are its crater.
Right in the town, but below it, surrounded by high hills, it stands,
and you can, from the corner of the Grande Rue, look down into the
seething depths of it—and every little while it pants, it roars, and
then explodes in fire and fume. This drawing was made from the hills
opposite the town, but shows how like the crater of a volcano the whole
place is.



Nowhere have I ever seen the old and the new so contrasted as here, both
mills working—both pictorial—and both probably now destroyed.



At night all furnaces are infernal, but Charleroi is the most terrifying
of all. By the roadside was a black lake beyond a roaring furnace. An
engine pushed a car of molten slag to the top of the dump and dumped it.
The living liquid fire roared and tumbled into the lake, turning it to



Near all great works these great dumps are, but none I have seen are
so great as those of Belgium. The refuse is carried by travellers to
them, received either by girls who no longer dress as Meunier saw them,
but in coarse, thick, short gowns, their hair tied up in white towels.
Or the slag and dirt are dumped directly on the growing mountain, and
this refuse falls in the most beautiful lines and the most lovely grays
and browns, like velvet or the fur of some huge beast, which grows and
grows, towering over the chimneys, the furnaces looming up through the
smoke, always growing and growing, fed by the travellers which carry
to it an endless chain of creaking buckets high in air, sometimes for
a kilometre, over ploughed fields and slow-moving rivers, to these work



High in the air the iron gate hangs—the entrance to the great works.
When there is a strike it comes down, and not only is it topped with
sharp spikes, but, I was told, it could be charged with electricity
and is pierced with holes through which to shoot. On either side are
guard-houses on the wall, fitted with guns—all these preparations made
for strikers, for industrial war. Now that real war has come, I wonder
what part the iron gate plays.



I know nothing of the lifting power or any other accomplishments of
these cranes, but I do know that nowhere in the world are there such
huge, such picturesque cranes as those of Germany, and in Germany the
finest are in and around Duisburg and Hamburg. They may not carry any
more than, or as much as, American machines, but they are far bigger
and more drawable, and those on the high banks of the Rhine superbly
placed, each full of character, each worth drawing.



The Rhine is wonderful from the sea to the source—but fine as one finds
the old castles and the combinations of old castles and new mills, the
new mills, new Rhine castles, have made a new river, and they are the
most interesting things on it.



It is difficult to tell whether an American railroad station is a Greek
temple, a Christian Science church, a free library, a bank, a museum, or
a millionaire's residence or his tomb. A German railroad station looks
like a railroad station and nothing else.

I believe this station is larger—it is certainly far better designed
than anything in America—but the building of it, with the great,
half-finished arches looming up, was a splendid motive. I was in Leipzig
in April, 1914, drew this; I returned in June and the subject was gone;
all that remained was the Graphic Art and Book Exhibition, the finest
ever held anywhere. And that was ruined by the fools who brought on the
fool war.



Drawn after war was declared with Russia, 1914.

It is a fashion of the art critic to praise Japanese arrangement and
construction. No Japanese ever designed so pictorial and so powerful a
bridge as this, yet, on the whole, it looks like a Japanese bridge and
has the feeling of one, but it is doubtful if the engineer who designed
it ever saw Hiroshigi's prints.



I believe the _Bismarck_ is the biggest ship—or the biggest German
ship—yet launched; the crane beside her is the biggest and the most
wonderfully controlled I have ever seen anywhere, and the whole made a
composition as fine as anything in the Wonder of Work.



Never anywhere, even in orderly Germany, have I seen such an orderly
place as this steel works, and yet it was picturesque. Every chimney,
retort, and furnace seemed to be cleaned daily. There was in the late
afternoon light a beautiful blue sheen on the furnaces, the brick of
the chimneys was delicate red which harmonized with the gold and rose
fumes from the blasts, amid all the white smoke was pierced with purple
and blue, and in front was the greenest grass plot I have ever seen,
kept, like all the works, in perfect order, and around the outer border
engines were dragging the most lurid melted white-hot refuse—roaring



The pattern of the steel work of this shipbuilding yard was like lace,
yet in this delicate lacework maze the most powerful men-of-war, the
largest merchant ships, were built and launched—yet the effect of these
yards was filmy, delicate, gossamer—the most beautiful lines I know in
the Wonder of Work.



I shall not tell the story how I made this print—many others in the book
have stories, too—but I will say that Essen is pictorially among the
least interesting of the great work cities of the world, because, first,
much of it is new, up-to-date and therefore uninteresting artistically,
and, second, because it stands in a plain, surrounded by high walls,
and I never have been able to find a point where I could see anything.
Still, there are great subjects in the shops, and this is one of them.



I always love these power-houses with their huge chimneys, but it
is rare indeed that they compose so well as this. But many other
industrial palaces in Berlin are fine: the General Electric Company's
works, its dynamo building shops, and the city gasometers which have
been made into modern work castles of the most enormous bulk; and the
much-written-about flower-covered buildings of the work people. All
these make up the Wonder of Work in Berlin.



As the Continental express from the Hook of Holland reached Schiedaam
the traveller who was not fast asleep—most were—could see the old town
where work crowns war—each bastion bears a windmill, while from the
city within the walls endlessly rise and silently drift away masses of
white smoke clouds, showing for one moment, hiding the next, the spires,
towers, and domes of the city. I do not know what makes the smoke
clouds—whether Schnaaps or not—but there they always are—and are always
to be seen from the station platform from which I made the drawing.




Twenty-eight reproductions of lithographs made on the Isthmus of
Panama, January-March, 1912, with Mr. Pennell's introduction, giving his
experiences and impressions, and a full description of each picture.
Volume 7¼ by 10 inches. Beautifully printed on dull-finished paper.
Lithograph by Mr. Pennell on cover. $1.25 net.

"Mr. Pennell continues in this publication the fine work which
has won for him so much deserved popularity. He does not merely
portray the technical side of the work, but rather prefers the human
element."—_American Art News._


Forty reproductions of lithographs made in the Land of Temples,
March-June, 1913, together with impressions and notes by the artist.
Introduction by W. H. D. Rouse, Litt. D. Crown quarto, printed on
dull-finished paper, lithograph by Mr. Pennell on cover. $1.25 net.

Mr. Pennell's drawings of classical temples as they have come down to
us are among the very best work of this kind that he has ever done.



REGULAR EDITION. Containing one hundred and five reproductions of
lithographs by Joseph Pennell. Quarto 7½ by 10 inches, XIV-552 pages.
Handsomely bound in red buckram, boxed. $7.50 net.

AUTOGRAPH EDITION. Limited to 289 copies (now very scarce). Contains
ten drawings reproduced by a new lithograph process in addition to
the illustrations that appear in the regular edition. Quarto. XVI-552
pages. Specially bound in genuine English linen buckram in city colors
in cloth-covered box. $18.00 net.

     LIFE OF



The Authorized Life, with much new matter added which was not available
at the time of issue of the elaborate two-volume edition, now out of
print. Fully illustrated with 97 plates reproduced from Whistler's
works. Crown octavo. XX-450 pages, Whistler binding, deckle edge. $3.50
net. Three-quarter grain levant, $7.50 net.

Proofs of some of the Lithographs and Etchings in these books may be
obtained on application to the publishers.

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