« السابقةمتابعة »
and 1742, one cannot but feel some surprise that the illustrations in the volume, published in 1754, should have proved such egregious failures as most of them are.
From 1754, the date of Jackson's Essay, until 1819, the only chiaroscuros which appear to have been published in this country were executed by an amateur of the name of Skippe. Three are known to exist, one of which is printed from four blocks, and each of the others from three. A comparison of the one now submitted with the specimens in Jackson's Essay will show its great superiority. In the year just named, 1819, the first part, and in 1823 the second part, of a work on Decorative Printing, by William Savage, were published. Some of the chiaroscuros are well executed, but the prints in
proper colours,” the printed pictures, are lamentable failures. It is due, however, to the author of this work to say, that he was entirely indebted to others, both for the embodiment of his ideas on the wood, and for their transference to the paper. Besides this great disadvantage, he had others; and it is but fair to say that no small portion of the coarseness which disfigures the specimens given in his book, as indeed in Jackson's, may have resulted more from the want of adaptation in the materials used, than of skill in the practical management of them. So that, taken as a whole, the pictorial illustrations of Mr. Savage's book may be said to stand in about the same relation to those of the artist next to be introduced to your notice, in which the best printing of that period stands to the more carefully executed work of the present day.
Mr. George Baxter, of London, whose works I next proceed to notice, took out a patent for printing pictures, which, though it may have secured to him for a long series of years a monopoly of the market for his beautiful productions, may also have tended to limit their sale. Less than any one of his predecessors does he appear under obligation to those who had gone before him for direction in his art, and yet no one could by any possibility have had a more excellent training than he for a successful prosecution of it.
At an early age he was fond of drawing, and at ten years old took several sketches of spots near Lewes, and engraved them upon copper, which he learned to do without an instructor. In this he was sufficiently successful to lead to the publication of several of his productions. At fourteen he was desirous of being articled to some eminent engraver, but, the profession at that time being in a depressed state and struggling for want of public support, he failed to obtain his desire, and was apprenticed to his father. For seven years he devoted his attention to all the branches of his father's trade, succeeding best in those of a mechanical nature. His leisure hours he devoted principally to engraving on copper, and attained some degree of efficiency in aquatint, and engraving landscapes. On the introduction of lithographic printing, he was sent to London to receive instuctions in the art, and in six months returned with presses, stones, &c., to introduce that trade into Sussex, in connection with his father's business of a general printer, &c. In a local work, printed by his father, several woodcuts were required, and he turned his attention to this style of engraving; in a few weeks he was able to engrave on wood as well as he had previously engraved on copper.
The most interesting stage of his history, however, so far as this Paper is concerned, he had now reached. About this time he was much occupied with colours, for both lithographic and printing inks, and succeeded in obtaining such a variety of beautiful tints as to impress upon him the conviction that, by means of blocks, he could print coloured pictures with even more richness than could be obtained by water colours, inasmuch as he could obtain the effect of
glazing," which can only be secured by oil colours. Having reached maturity, he left his father's establishment, where he had made himself master of every branch of the printing business, and, his early desire to be an engraver continuing as fresh as it was seven years before, he placed himself under an eminent engraver on wood, and in a few months commenced business for himself in London. Many difficulties arose, which would have been insuperable to a mind less stored with resources, most of them mechanical ; and here the training in his father's printing office was of immense value to him in the prosecution of his invention. His early efforts gave his employers so much satisfaction that as many engagements as he could fulfil were soon obtained, and two years afterwards he prepared to carry out his design of printing coloured pictures. He succeeded at first much beyond his expectations ; but still every day found that some improvement could be made; and his latest improvements were such as to reduce to a certainty some points which were formerly doubtful. In proof of this, he had an order to execute two hundred thousand pictures, all of which were so much alike as to make it most difficult for any one to see a difference in the whole impression ; whilst his improvements gave such expedition to the execution of his pictures as to secure to the public illustrations of the highest order to works of small cost.
From a careful examination of a considerable number of his prints, I have no doubt that his general practice was to produce the outline and the more minute details in aquatint, on one or more plates, to be subsequently heightened and coloured by engravings on wood (or, in the production of his larger pictures, on soft metal plates), two, three, or even four parts, in different colours, being printed at one impression from one block or plate. The extreme delicacy which he was able, by aquatint, to give to his skies greatly enhanced the beauty of some of his pictures, as in that of the Baptism in Jamaica. The perfect contrast to this picture which that of the shipwreck of the Reliance East Indiaman presents shows how wide a range of subjects is practicable— from the warm
and glowing brightness of a day in the tropics, the burning heat of which, while we gaze upon the picture, we almost seem to feel, to the fearful gloom of a storm at sea, where the billows and the clouds appear to commingle, and the darkness is but for a moment dispelled by the lightning's flash, which reveals to us the total wreck of the gallant ship, its unhappy crew and passengers vainly battling with the waves.
Of the extreme richness of his colours, a beautiful specimen is furnished in a bouquet of flowers, one of two illustrations to the Flower Garden, where every tint and hue of the flowers and the foliage is given with a truthfulness which vies with nature itself; the whole executed entirely from wood blocks.
The portraits produced by this artist, of which he has published several, are admirable in every respect. If I refer to one especially, it is not for the purpose of comparison, where all are excellent, but because I happen to possess a copy of the finished picture, and also an impression from the aquatint plate, with one or two subsequent printings. The portrait is that of Robert Moffatt, the father-in-law of David Livingstone, an eloquent and devoted Missionary of the London Missionary Society, who has spent upwards of forty years in Africa, and is still, in a green old age, pursuing his self-denying labours among the tribes of that arid land. Many of the artist's pictures are of a missionary character, and most of his portraits are of Missionaries. The interest of these he has greatly enhanced by skilfully introducing in the backgrounds appropriate scenery, in the delineation of which he excels. Thus, the portrait of Moffatt contains a view near the Kuruman river, with a native parliament assembled, which one of the chiefs is supposed to be addressing. His two most elaborate works, and which may be considered the greatest, though certainly not the most pleasing, are, the Queen's partaking of the Sacrament after her Coronation, and Her Majesty's Opening her First Parliament. Of one of these I am enabled to state, and I have no doubt that it is true also of the other, that the subject was executed from a plate in mezzotint, and the colours from metal plates, not wood, printed at the type press. Twenty-six times did each sheet pass through the press, some of the plates only printing the colours most generally diffused through the picture, the greater number printing two colours at the same time, others three and four, so that about fifty colours or tints would be printed from the twenty-six blocks. On a former occasion I was kindly furnished by the artist with a set of impressions in detail, which I regret I am unable to submit now; but I purpose to exhibit the six printings from lithographic stones of one of the prints of “ Views in Modern Liverpool,” from which a correct idea of the process may be formed.*
In addition to a variety of specimens of Mr. Baxter's Picture Printing, some recent volumes are also submitted, the embellishments of which are entirely produced from wood blocks at the type press or printing machine. One of the most beautiful of these is a small volume, entitled “Odes and Sonnets illustrated." The Illustrations are by Birkett Foster, printed in three tints, in one of which the text also is printed. It has a number of exquisitely delicate initial letters,
* The following works of early printers, in the supposed order of their production, were also exhibited:41. A Head of the Saviour, by Businck, in two colours, with the whites stopped out. Date, 1625. 2. Neptune, by Goltzius, from three blocks. 3. Nude Figures, in deadly strife, by the same artist, and from three blocks. 4. An Aged Man with Crucifix, from two blocks, the whites stopped out. Date, 1637. 5. Figure, with Tablet, by Guido Reni, from two blocks, the whites stopped out. 6. Jove expelling the Giants, by the same artist. This large print is in four sheets, printed from three blocks, the whites being stopped out. Date, 1647. 7. Aged Man with Crucifix, after Paulo Ferranti, by Kirkall. Printed from two blocks, with the whites stopped out. Date, betwixt 1722 and 1724. 8. Phoebus in the Chariot of the Sun, by Skippe, from three blocks, and the whites stopped out. 9. A Holy Family, after Perino dell Vaga, by Kirkall. From two blocks, the white sstopped out. Date, 1724. 10. Martyrdom of St. Peter, date, 1738 to 1742; 11. Murder of the Innocents, date, 1739; 12. Raising of Lazarus, date, 1744; 13. Finding of Moses, date, 1751: all the four after Titian, by Jackson, and each from three blocks, with the whites stopped out. 14. Subject unknown, printed from four blocks, supposed to be by Jackson.