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direction shall represent the precious qualities which ought to flow from the direct and untrammeled expression of one's own chosen and best-loved themes.

For my own part I have tried to introduce, to such as may care to know them, some of the old and fast-disappearing types of a sturdy race who have lived untrammeled by the mandates of fashion, and who have preserved their independent and original character, both in its inward being and its outward expression. I have done this work without one moment of careless or flippant thoughtlessness; and while I am deeply conscious of the faults of technique, I hope I have atoned for them in some measure by the earnest purpose which has actuated me in the delineation of these faces. The unaffected beauty of the young girl, whose beaming face I can liken only to the

daisies and wild-flowers of her native soil, reminds me of little country maids with whom I used to trudge merrily to school in summer and winter- those glorious New Hampshire winters, when with the snow waist-deep upon the ground, and hiding out of sight the old stone walls, I used to draw the little sleds uphill, and think them never so light as when their fair owners were seated upon them. Not one wrinkle upon the faces of these time-worn veterans has been traced by me without increasing my respect for my rude New England forefathers, for I see in them that which reminds me of dear old friends and neighbors of my boyhood days; and if in these faulty attempts at delineation of character I can awaken in others a corresponding respect for "Old Hayseed," as we sometimes hear him thoughtlessly called, this work will not have been done in vain.

Frank French.

ORIGINALITY IN WOOD-ENGRAVING.

WITH ENGRAVINGS BY THE AUTHOR.

HE revival of interest in American wood-engraving during the last twenty years has brought about much discussion in regard to its position among the graphic arts. We are told, upon the best authority, what qualities are inherent in the wood, what is suitable in subject and drawing, and what is legitimate and illegitimate in technique. We are also gravely assured that a neglect of these well-defined lines of expression leads to a decadence of all that is truly beautiful in the art. There is an assumption that what has been best in the past must be the authority for the future, no matter what conditions arise to revolutionize and widen the sphere of its usefulness. We are also instructed that the province of wood-engraving should be confined to reproduction, or the interpreting of artistic thought at second hand, and any departure from the beaten track should be regarded as a temerity punishable with stripes rather than encouraged with approval. All of the traditions and habits inherent in the profession are reverently promulgated, and all of the textures necessary for the printing of fifty years ago are tenaciously insisted upon. All this in spite of the fact that modern machinery has made a new era in the printing of illustrations, as complete of its kind as that incident to the conditions of present warfare in contrast with the old methods of the past—in spite of the fact that in the best of Turkey boxwood we have a material capable of the most exquisite finish, and responsive to any texture or instrument known to the engraver. It is capable of holding its sharpness and delicacy, down to the finest touch, through a limited edition on a hand-press, just the same as an etching or a steel plate. And yet such is the power of habit and tradition that it would be exceedingly difficult to have publicly acknowledged what would be freely admitted in private-that the fine Japan proof is fully equal in quality to that of a high-class etching. Seemingly the first proofs from the wood-engraving should settle its position among the graphic arts, just as the best prints settle the rank of the etching or the steel-engraving. On the contrary, the enormous edition from an electro-plate of the engraving fixes its position and relegates it to the realm of the commonplace.

To illustrate more fully how the purpose or aim of a given work dominates the result, we have only to consider and put in sharp con

trast two methods of treatment- the one for the etcher and the other for the engraver.

The etcher is encouraged in every possible way to put his personality into the handling of his subject, whether it be an original or a reproduction from another artist. Every inducement is made to have him assume the position of an artist; at least in the sense of being master of the color scheme of his black and white reproduction. Fullness of modeling or exactness of detail is not expected; but only the suggested abbreviation, dashed with a personality that distinguishes his work from that of another man. Even the dominating of the printer, while inking his plate so that each impression shall be unlike another, is regarded a merit and paid for accordingly.

This artistic atmosphere and treatment is supposed to bring something unique and rare, and undoubtedly does bring to each representative impression the best impulse of the moment. It would seem that such methods would destroy all faithfulness in reproductive work; yet, on the contrary, if the artist loves his copy, it is the only way to reproduce its quality. The personal friends of an etcher and his market combine to make him a law unto himself in his method of producing a result.

Without claiming for the wood-engraver such entire consideration, there is much in the plan which recommends itself if we are to have artistic results. There is an assumption in the beginning that we are dealing with a highly imaginative organization, capable of being attracted in some special direction of art, and able to reproduce it through training already established. In the past, and to a great extent in the present, a contrary environment is the lot of a wood-engraver. It is assumed in the beginning that he has not the feeling and imagination of an artist, although he may habitually produce better quality than his copies call for. He is hedged in by mechanical influences that sap the enthusiasm and deaden the ambition; he is harassed till, like a fox chased by the hounds, he would fain give up the merit of his own production and escape to a burrow of peaceful oblivion. And all this because the result must stand the strain of thousands of impressions and because the end is purely commercial, no matter how highly artistic the beginning. These conditions can be changed only when the public recog nize and value the engraver's first proofs and the putting of his position on a par with that

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of the etcher - this view of the case to be taken upon the supposition that the engraver has the will power to dominate his own plate, using his copy as an inspiration. If, on the contrary, mechanical exactness is the purpose, then all departments concerned in the matter can fall into line with the precision of parade, and a result may be counted upon with ease and certainty. Many artists are looking for such a millennium, when the engraver shall become an electric machine controlled by a button, and themselves produced as in a mirror-forgetting that they themselves would not make an exact copy of their own work, even the same size as the original.

Through such influences art departments are obliged to constitute themselves into halls of judgment, with the elusive and ever-changing standards of the artist on the one hand and the needs of the printer and the pockets of the publisher on the other. It is small credit to those most interested if the whole matter does not take refuge in a process that shall grind with delightful monotony and uniformity all coming to its mill, and with a great saving of conscience and responsibility. If the pages of the great publications should sparkle with the variety and change of such a system, a like machine might be used with profit on the paintings and etchings gathered at exhibitions. It would only be necessary to decide upon a standard, and then bring all work to its measure of perfection.

Many artists may justly feel that they are better reproduced by mechanical means than by engraving. This may be true if they can make the textures necessary entirely themselves; if not, they are dependent on a monotonous texture that is entirely mechanical, thus antagonizing one of the most important principles of their daily teaching and practice that is, that "nature does not repeat herself, and no one given surface of a picture should be like another." Thus, how can a harmony, made up of many notes, be best produced by a machine having only one note or texture? The result can only be a shadow of the originala mere lifeless corpse.

This cannot be entirely true of the engraver's work, no matter how poor, because his personality is bound to show itself in some shape, giving change and variety in contrast with that of another. He cannot get rid of his method any more than of his handwriting. It is a part of himself, and in it is the very element needed for the vitality of an engraving. Indeed, the feelings and ambitions of prominent engravers for personal expression should be exactly the same as those which govern painters and workers in all departments of creative art. And also, each important en

graver is pretty sure to become a specialist, strong in certain directions while weak in others, just the same as his brethren of the brush and pencil.

Much confusion arises in the inquiring mind concerning this matter, because of the disagreements of professional criticism. The narrowest comments come from where we have the right to expect the broadest and most helpful judgments, so that, unconsciously, and with entire honesty, the engraver's own technique and manner become the yardstick with which to measure everybody else. The only true position for the outsider to take is to regard every prominent engraver as a specialist and judge him upon his own ground. Even then, comparatively speaking, every man's life is made up largely of failures. Only a very few examples reach the high-water mark that gives character to an artist's reputation.

Of course a large share of illustrations used in connection with relief printing have only a matter-of-fact purpose. Many artists also lean to the scientific phase of their art, requiring, with perfect reason, a more colorless medium than the specialist engraver can give. Here mechanical exactness is the better expression. If, however, the demand is in the direction of color, textures, and values, or in the line of tone harmonies, where no part is an exact repetition of another, then the mechanical rendition will destroy the whole sentiment of the picture. It may be scientifically exact and yet have nothing in common with the original. Artists of such subjects cannot possibly find infallibility in reproduction, even if they controlled every stage of the work themselves, because it is not a matter of reason and formula, but of feeling and impulse. Some of the most important work of this kind assumes many phases while in the hands of the engraver. The copy may be a painting that undergoes many changes while the engraving is progressing. When finished, the two results are sure to be unlike in the scientific sense of the term, and yet so near together in quality that the artist may feel himself better rendered than were possible by any other means. It is a species of legerdemain in which present results are only stepping-stones to higher excellence. There is no accepting of standards at a given time, either in exactness of form or in harmony of color. If the engraver is to accomplish anything here he must work in the same spirit as the artist, or not at all. He must mount the steed of his own technique, unfettered by leash or rein, and chase a leader, perhaps mighty in creative force, yet as fickle as the wind. There is no exact classification of the results till long after the actors are dead— either for the artist or for the engraver. Never

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