BLTC Press Titles


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Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


About etching

by Sir Francis Seymour Haden

Excerpt:

EXPLANATORY.

SOME months ago I undertook, at the instance of the Fine-Art Society, to do two etchings,—' Windsor' and 'Greenwich,' and at the same time to say something general on the subject of Etching and to illustrate what I had to say by reference to such of my own etchings as were then in course of publication, and which were to be transferred to the galleries of the Society for the purpose. I at once felt, however, that in this I had made a rash promise, and that however useful such a reference might be to the elucidation of my own practice it would do nothing towards the illustration of the whole subject, which, after all, was what I understood to be the aim of the Society. Hence, at the eleventh hour, I proposed the amendment that I should lend to the Society such a portion of my collection of Etchings by the Old Masters as would properly satisfy this end ; and hence it is that, though now too late to withdraw my own work, the Society's main gallery has come to be filled with the nobler work we see.

Note II.

OWN REASONS FOR ETCHING.

Meanwhile, as these notes would be of no interest if made up of the opinions of others, I shall not be misunderstood if I first account for the preference which for many years I myself have had for drawing as a pursuit, and for the point as a medium of expression.

Sixteen years ago, while reporting on the educational and instrumental appliances of modern surgery in the International Exhibition of 1862, I wrote as follows: 'It is surprising that while so much is being done to prepare the student of medicine and surgery for the difficulties of his career, nothing is done to educate his eye and hand. Such an item in his education is essential, and nothing in my judgment would more directly and pleasantly conduce to it than the practice of drawing and modelling from Nature. How much sooner would the eye accustomed to observe and estimate closely differences of colour, aspect, weight, and symmetry, learn to gauge their aberrations as the signs which make up the fades of disease; how much better the hand, trained to pourtray them accurately, be able to direct with precision and safety the course of the knife?' Nothing came, however, of the suggestion; and it has perhaps not even yet occurred to those of my distinguished confreres who delight to spend their short holidays in the practice of art, how serious a matter of skilled training lies at the bottom of their practice.

Note III.

OWN VIEWS OF ART.

As a ready way of explaining these I have, also, not thought it undesirable to reprint the following letter, which was written to M. Philippe Burty, and published in the Gazette des Beaux Arts, in 1864. I apologise for its not being in English :—

'. . . a mon avis les facultes artistiques sprit innees; elles ne s'acquierent point. L'art est une emanation morale & intellectuelle que l'e'tude peut developper, mais qu'elle ne saurait faire naitre.

'Ce qui prouve que l'art procède toujours d'un sentiment inné, c'est que l'œuvre de chaque maître a son caractère tout spécial & qu'il ne ressemble en rien à l'œuvre de tel autre maître de force égale. Voyez Velasquez, le Titien, Raphaël, Rembrandt, Durer. Que peut-il y avoir de plus divers que la manière dont chacun de ces maîtres aurait interprété la même chose? N'est-il pas évident que cette conception individuelle était innée & qu'aucun précepte, aucun exemple n'auraient pu la produire? La doctrine académique (& en disant ceci je n'entends point parler de l'enseignement toujours indispensable des premiers principes de l'art), peut fournir les disciples d'une école établie, école basée sur les données d'un goût plus ou moins éphémère, mais elle ne saurait produire un artiste original. Au contraire, elle entravera son développement. Je suis donc ennemi déclaré des Académies comme étant des écoles trop spéciales d'éducation. Je m'oppose "aux préceptes & à la pratique de l'art," tels qu'elles les enseignent. Je redoute surtout l'influence des distinctions qu'elles décernent autant que celle des exhibitions qu'elles ouvrent. Je crois que toute originalité doit succomber sous le poids de cette influence; qu'elle arrive nécessairement à assimiler un artiste à l'autre; & que, avec des éléments ainsi réunis, les Académies ne peuvent former que ce détestable ensemble qu'on appelle communément "Ecole." C'est l'artiste, au contraire, qui doit se créer son école; il ne lui reste qu'à chercher les moyens d'interpréter ses impressions.


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