« 이전계속 »
then the rest impor
for many of its most important objects seem to be accomplished, and the results produced are sufficient to place it among the most beautiful arts. But it is still in a state of progress. Every year witnesses improvement; invention is continually bringing something new to its aid. The power, flexibility, delicacy, and passion of the art seem to be yearly increased. While this is the case, we should be wrong in attempting to speak of it as we would of painting, sculpture, or any art which appears to have arrived at the fulness of perfection. The most that we can do, is, to examine what has already been effected ; to deduce rules from the art as it actually exists; to examine its objects, and the extent to which they have been accomplished ; and to form a conjecture, from what has been already attained, of its capacity for still greater improvement.
We shall consider engravings as divided into two great classes ; those which are copies of the works of other artists, either paintings or designs in pencil, and those which are designed as well as executed by the same individual. Between these two classes there are great and important distinctions. The copying of the paintings of great masters implies a distinct talent of a high order; the power of comprehending and appreciating their style, and their various merits and defects, and of representing them by means of the graver. Copying from designs made for the engraver requires perhaps the least degree of talent. Yet even in this there is no small room for the exertion of ingenuity and taste. But in those works in which the same hand designs and sculptures, there may be merit of the highest order which the art admits; as these prints bear only the impress of one mind, which is capable of invention as well as imitation ; which conveys its own fire, and gives its peculiar characteristics to the work.
In treating of the first class into which we have divided engravings, the first remark is, that the engraver does not here hold immediate converse with nature. His landscapes do not require him to have seen the country ; and he needs no models for his forms and his countenances. Perfection, or accordance with nature, is not the legitimate object of this branch of the art. His purpose is to convey to the plate the peculiar characteristics of the original ; even faults are not to be softened. It has been remarked by an ingenious writer, that engraving is the translation of painting ; because the work of representing, by engraving, the ideas of genius which are expressed in the language of painting, is analogous to that of expressing in a foreign tongue the thoughts of a writer uttered in his own language ; and the change which the conceptions of a painter must undergo, in being transferred from the glowing canvass over which the brush has swept, to the dotted, lined, and colorless print, is similar to the modification which takes place in the ideas and figures of a poet, when they are made to conform to the idioms and genius of a foreign language. The analogy, however, is not complete, because painting is a universal language ; it needs no translation to make it understood ; and engraving does not render it more intelligible to any one. In one sense, that is, in the power of multiplication, engraving bears the same relation to painting, that printing does to the manuscript ; but here again the similitude fails, because the printer has nothing to do with copying the forms of the manuscripts; he is guided by words and thoughts, but not by forms. Perhaps the best way of expressing the relation, which subsists between the two arts, would be to call the engraver the herald of the painter. In one solitary spot of the wide world stands the inspired work, the masterpiece of art, the legacy of genius to kindred spirits in after times. The hand that traced those magical lines has long been cold in death; the eye that gleamed with inspiration on the work is closed, and the spirit that designed it returned ages ago to God who gave it. This miracle of art, preserved perhaps in the inner sanctuary of some royal gallery, enshrined within its costly temple, and valued beyond price,-more precious from the consideration that its beauty and glory are solitary, unrivalled, and never to be replaced if lost, — can be gazed on but by a few favored mortals. It is a holy oracle of art, and many who would consult it must go a long and weary pilgrimage before they can reach the shrine. But the voice of inspiration has gone forth, and there are prophets to catch the sounds, and herald them abroad over the wide world.
To this high office the engraver is devoted. He is the herald of the painter. He speaks in language less gorgeous, less imposing, less powerful, than the great original ; and he only speaks more intelligibly, inasmuch as his language requires a smaller reach of intellect and taste to comprehend it. But it is his province to address the whole world ; in every
land is found his eloquent proclamation of the great truth (for surely every masterpiece of art is such), and in every land is seen his name, proudly honored in being inscribed by the side of his great master's, beneath his work.
We have said, that the engraver, who is devoted to copying the works of painters, holds no converse with nature. The remark, however, was made without any intention of depreciating this branch of the art. On the contrary, we deem this one of the noblest objects which the engraver can pursue. It is not to be placed on a level with copying in painting, for it implies, we apprehend, the exertion of a higher order of talent, that of doing justice in one art to the works of masters in another. The engraver from paintings is in a high degree an originator. We should certainly assign to the translator, who clothes his work in the language of melodious and high-wrought poetry, and at the same time gives a faithful representation of the thoughts, images, and style of the original, a much higher place than to him, who gives only a plain but literal version, in prose or in poetry, which bears no stamp of the translator's own mind, and adds nothing to the literature of the language. For example, Coleridge's translation of " Wallenstein, while it gives a faithful representation of Schiller, is at the same time a beautiful English poem, a positive and precious addition to the literature of our language. Cowper's translation of Homer is also a poem ; and a tolerably literal version ; but it introduces us to no acquaintance with the translator. We might read whole libraries of such poetry, and yet feel that we have gained no insight into his character. Now we should liken a well-executed engraving from a fine painting to a translation such as Coleridge's; while a mere copy in oils is more like the translation by Cowper, literal and exact, but bearing the impress of no mind but that of the original artist.
Though the engraver from paintings does not hold immediate intercourse with nature, his province is still wide enough to satisfy the demands of genius. He enters upon an ideal world, and holds converse with beings of more than earthly beauty. He is dwelling in the groves and bowers of Eden, or amidst the gorgeous scenery of a world gone by. His firmament is lighted up with hues that seem to be poured down from heaven, and his clouds are tinted with splendors which even the golden west cannot vie with. His eyes are
blest with visions of loftier worlds, and forms surpassing human. Before him is spread out the sea
“Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
Rapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds; " and that wondrous stairway,
" Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of Heaven,”— which the angels are traversing. The venerable forms of saints and martyrs, the celestial beauty of the Holy Mary, the grace, and dignity, and majesty of classic heroes and virgins, are around him to delight, elevate, and inspire.
In choosing the peculiar style of engraving to be used in copying the works of the masters of painting, there is great room for the exercise of taste. For dignified historical pieces, we should have no hesitation in choosing line engraving ; for landscapes the mezzotinto may be used with good effect; where extreme delicacy is required, stippling may be resorted to. But line engraving seems to us most worthy of the attention of the artist, as it possesses greater power and compass than the other modes. Lines seem to possess, in the highest degree, the capacity of expression, as is abundantly demonstrated by outline engravings ; and they certainly give a more accurate notion of pencil-drawing than stippling. Accordingly we find, that the greatest masters of the art have been in the habit of using this style in their choicest works. Morghen, we believe, always resorted to it, and it is the favorite style throughout Italy. Gmelin, a German artist of great eminence, used line engraving for his copies from the landscapes of Claude Lorraine. Woollett always preferred it, and most of the eminent British artists of the present day resort to it.
Of the fitness of line engraving to represent all the varieties of landscapes, there can be no doubt. One or two examples of very different kinds of landscapes will illustrate this position. We will endeavour to select from those which may be familiar to most of our readers.
Let us suppose that the scene to be represented is of a wild, mountainous, and sublime character; as, for instance, that beautiful engraving in Rogers's “Italy,” by Smith, of the passage of Hannibal over the Alps. The lines, with the exception of a small portion of the foreground of the picture, are mostly drawn perpendicularly, and, where the shading is deepest, cross each other but little. There is an exquisite delicacy in the work, and yet a degree of simplicity which does justice to the sublimity of the scenery. The stern grandeur of the mountains, rising to the skies, and losing themselves in the clouds, is admirably represented, by the very sparingness with which the lines are drawn, and their extreme tenuity, as they fade into the white. The effect of long perpendicular lines, not deeply drawn, and fading in the misty distance, is very striking in such a scene. The same kind of engraving is equally well adapted to convey the idea of grandeur and sublimity in architecture; as may be seen in the engraving by Goodall, in Rogers's “ Poems,” of the interior of a Gothic church, where the lines, being drawn in the manner we are describing, give an idea of vast height, and convey in a wonderful manner the feeling universally inspired by this noble order of architecture.
In proportion as the landscape becomes more complicated, and includes a greater variety of objects, such as forests, lakes, rivers, cataracts, houses, animals, and, above all, foliage and grass, the engraving becomes less simple and uniform. The lines are much shorter, cross each other in a greater variety of angles, and are altogether more complicated and elaborate than in representing the bald, stern grandeur of mountainous scenery. For illustrations of our remarks, we need not look further than the beautiful books to which we have already referred. On the twelfth page of the “Poems" is a vignette, engraved by that admirable artist, Goodall, which, for lightness, delicacy, and grace, is not surpassed. It represents an English rural scene ; a rising ground, shaded by a rich tuft of trees and bushes ; a few gypsies at the foot of the hillock, their fire kindled underneath the emblematic cauldron, and their scanty wardrobe displayed on the line hard by. In the background is a windmill. Over this gentle scene the parting sun is pouring his mellow light, and his rays, reflected on the clouds, shoot out that long, fanlike splendor, which constitutes the most gorgeous sunset. The contrast between such a scene as this, and the rugged grandeur of the Alps is complete ; and, accordingly, we find a very different style of engraving used to represent it. The lines are short, delicate, and running in every possible direction, though not apparently crossing each other much. The sky is formed
VOL. XLIX.— NO. 104. 18