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with horizontal lines, which fade and are lost in the full light, where the sun's rays extend upward. The inill, it will be observed, is represented by simple perpendicular lines.
We have mentioned these two engravings as being specimens of strong contrast in landscapes. For all the different varieties of scenery, there inust be corresponding modifications in the style of engraving resorted to. It may be suggested to us, that such remarks are superfluous ; that we are only laying down rules, that common sense and the smallest share of taste would readily dictate. But, even granting this to be true, we still deem the remarks of some value, as demonstrating the power and capacities of line engraving. A landscape may be done in mezzotinto, or it may be represented by aqua-tinta; but we have given these two instances of landscapes to show the power of lines in representing scenes of an opposite character.
These engravings, it will be noticed, are made from drawings, not from paintings. But the principle is just the same. The two landscapes illustrate this power of line engraving quite as well as if they had been taken from that fine piece of David's, Napoleon at the foot of the Alps, or from one of Wilson's rich compositions.
The power of lines will be more fully comprehended, when we ascend to the higher branches of the art, that is, copies from historical paintings, and particularly the representations of countenances. It is a fact, which we presume none will dispute, that lines produce different effects upon us, accordingly as they are differently drawn. So universally, indeed, is this principle acknowledged, that by general consent the term line of beauty is agreed upon to express a particular motion of the pencil. Upon this single principle an extensive theory is founded, with regard to the art of linear engraving. Why it is, that lines differently drawn produce in us different emotions, why a regular curve is more agreeable than a straight or angular motion, why free and swelling lines afford more ease to the eye than abrupt or unvarying ones, we do not pretend to say. It is one of those questions, to which the only answer is, We are made so. It is the same with our other senses. No one can tell, for instance, why some combinations of sounds produce agreeable emotions, and others the contrary ; why some make us feel joyful, and others sad. Neither can any one give a reason for the fact that the perfume of the rose is more to our taste than that of the poppy or the onion; or why sweet tastes please, and bitter disgust us. The same is the case with lines ; some please, others offend, the eye. And besides this distinction, we may observe, that, of those which are agreeable, some produce one kind of emotion, others another. Horizontal lines in drawing affect us in one way, perpendicular lines in another. Lines curving upwards affect us differently from those which bend in the opposite direction.
It will easily be perceived from these remarks, that line engravings have, in some degree at least, the power of conveying the style of different painters. A skilful engraver would use, of course, different styles for different subjects. For one of Fuseli's fiery compositions, for instance, his lines would not be the same as for a Holy Family by Raphael. Where the hand of any great artist is easily recognised by the peculiarities of his style, it is not very difficult to convey these peculiarities in the engraved copy. None who is familiar with the works of Raphael would find much difficulty in recognising his style in a good engraving, even without having seen the original of the identical piece.
But the question occurs, whether a different kind of line is not to be used in copying from different artists, even supposing them to have been engaged on the same, or similar, subjects. Should not a difference be made in engraving, for instance, a Madonna of Raphael's, and one by Titian? We have no hesitation in asserting, that there should be ; if the Madonna of the one artist produces different emotions from that of the other, then different kinds of lines should be used in engraving them, corresponding to these various emotions. There is a delightful chapter in Mrs. Jameson's “ Diary of an Ennuyée," upon the Madonnas of the various great masters of Italy, in which, with a fine discrimination, she traces the different emotions which these paintings express and excite, and compares the work with ihe individual traits of the author. Now we are of opinion, that, for all these, there should be corresponding differences in engravings from them. The pure and celestial countenances of the Virgins of Raphael, with their mild, pensive, twilight radiance, would not be well copied by the same class of lines that would be used for the full-orbed, passionate beauty of the Madonnas of Titian; a Holy Family by Poussin would be represented by different lines from those used to copy a Holy Family by Andrea del Sarto. This science of lines appears to be yet only in its infancy; and, indeed, the whole amount of linear engraving, from its first discovery up to the present time, is only a series of experiments which may serve as the beginning of the science. To all artists who have a real love and respect for their profession we earnestly recommend the subject ; for we are convinced that the careful study of it, with the proper objects, would lead to a more rapid improvement in the art of engraving than has ever yet been witnessed. The questions to be determined are, What lines are suited to express the different emotions ? What are the different styles to be used in correspondence with the style of the original paintings? Can the style of each great master be made distinct in the engraving? Can any variety or combination of lines convey a notion of the coloring of the various artists? A careful examination of the different engravings, from the early days of the art up to the period of the most perfect specimens, would perhaps lead to a satisfactory answer to some or all of these questions. But, above all, were the study made by an artist with the graver in his hand, and the copper before him, to test by experiment the principles of the science as they would be developed, the result might prove of the highest benefit to the art.
Outline engravings constitute a distinct, and, of late, an important department of the art. The principal works in this branch are the designs of Flaxman, engraved by others; and those of the brothers Riepenhausen, and of Retzsch, engraved by themselves. The beautiful illustrations of Flaxman are probably known to most of our readers. They consist of drawings from the Iliad and Odyssey, from the Theogony of Hesiod, the Tragedies of Æschylus, and the Divine Comedy of Dante, besides a restoration of the shield of Achilles as described in the Iliad. The great merit of Flaxman consists in the power he displays of comprehending and expressing the spirit of the antique. A perfect master of the art of drawing, and an artist in the highest sense of the word, he seemed to have made his dwelling among by-gone men, and to have lived in scenes which have passed away for ever. He made himself, by years of study, perfectly familiar with all the forms of classic life ; and we would recommend his works to the young scholar as one of the most profitable as well as delightful forms under which Grecian antiquities may be studied. Many pages, and even chapters, of Potter, might be found beautifully condensed and commented upon in any one of Flaxman's drawings from the antique.*
The works of the Riepenhausens, though inferior to Flaxman in extent and variety, display an equal acquaintance with the antique. Their principal effort is a restoration of the famous paintings of Polygnotus at Athens, from the description given of them by Pausanias. These engravings fill two large volumes, one containing scenes from the capture of Troy, the other from the descent into the realm of Pluto. The works of these admirable Germans deserve to be ranked along with those of the great English artist. Yet the latter undoubtedly evince a wider range of genius. In the illustrations of Dante, Flaxman has shown the power of combining the antique with the Gothic, in the same grand and striking manner in which this union is displayed in some of the majestic architecture of Italy during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. There is an analogy to be discovered between the semi-classic and semi-romantic poem of the great Tuscan bard, and the sublime cathedrals of Pisa, of Florence, and of Venice ; and Flaxman seems to have been inspired by the same blending of Gothic grandeur and awfulness with classic grace, in his illustrations of the Divine Comedy. The only work of the Riepenhausens besides the classic restoration, is, we believe, that exquisite fantasia, the life of Raphael, in outline engravings.
We have no hesitation in placing Moritz Retzsch at the head of all outline engravers, both because we think that the romantic art, in which he excels, requires a higher reach of genius than the classic, and because he displays a greater variety and compass of powers than any artist whose works have ever come within our observation. We shall not attempt an analysis of his works in this place, both for want of room, having already prolonged our essay too much, and because the subject has been most worthily treated in a very interesting article in the London “ Foreign Quarterly Re
* Flaxman's illustrations of the Iliad have, probably, been made familiar to many of our readers, by the beautiful edition of that poem, prepared a few years since by Professor Felton. Through the work are interspersed copies of Flaxman's designs, as first engraved, executed in a style which does great credit to the American artist. He has succeeded in conveying the spirited and graceful touch of the original, and at the same time has overcome the difficulty of reducing the illustrations to the octavo size. These engravings have been published in a separate volume, and we recommend them to the attention of our readers.
view.” We shall content ourselves with referring to a few of Retzsch's most remarkable characteristics.
In the first place, then, no one can fail to be struck with the wide field which his pencil traverses. In his different illustrations, he seems to have represented almost every variety that human life affords, every passion, every emotion, every event which can most deeply affect the mind or heart. Were the task assigned us of selecting from all the works of Shakspeare, those which should illustrate, most satisfactorily, the wide compass of his powers, we should be disposed to make the choice, that Retzschi has done, of Macbeth, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. It seems as if almost every scene that life, real or fancied, offers, could be found in these illustrations of Shakspeare; the camp, the battle-field, the banquet, the lonely closet, the burning hour of stolen love, the horrid cave where witches boil their hell-broth, and the dim phantoms of kings fitting in noiseless array, — the frowning castle and the torch-lit palace, — all that enters into the composition of human experience or thought, are represented with equal skill, power, and fidelity in these masterly drawings.
Power and terror seem to be but ministering attendants to this wonderful master. His delineations of the Prince of Darkness, though of a different character from Milton's awful picture, are scarcely inferior at times, in sublimity, to the fallen Archangel of our great Epic. In that terrific sketch, 66 The Game of Life,” for instance, we discover in the iron frame and the thunder-blasted visage of man's great antagonist, the same being, who in the - Paradise Lost” reviles and blasphemes the sun, and glares on the new creation with a feeling of hatred and malice deeper than hell itself. Less sublime, but perhaps even more terrific, are the night-ride of Faust and Mephistophiles on the demon steeds, the maddening interview with Margaret in the dungeon, and the scene in "Fridolin,” where the Huntsman is thrust into the blazing furnace.
But would we seek the opposite extreme to these hideous sights, let us turn to the “ Song of the Bell.” That exquisite picture well known by the title of “ The German lovers,” seems to concentrate all of life that is peaceful, gentle, and boundlessly happy, when in truth, as the poet has it, “ the eye sees heaven open and the heart revels in bliss.” Indeed nearly all the illustrations of the “ Song of the Bell ” are of a character very different from most of the works of Retzsch.