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nate pictorial works after the manner of our forefathers. How many weeks and months have the pious illustrators of missals, prayer-books, and bibles consumed in laborious industry, to the prejudice of their health and the ruin of their eyes, to produce similar effects, which, when successfully wrought, were judged by sage men to be of inestimable value, but which may now be accomplished for a trifle. To the artist's efforts great importance was formerly attached. We, at the present day, might smile to see such pains bestowed on a picture of “ St Denys with his head in his hand;
"“St Agnes carrying her breasts in a dishful of blood; or “ The Devil walking as an obsequious footman behind St Lucy:” but superb representations of holy legends were long held to be works of great sanctity. Their most startling incidents were not unfrequently painted on church windows, and to have damaged or destroyed them would have subjected the offender to the penalties of sacrilege.
Years, nay lives, are believed to have been devoted to some of those illustrations of holy books produced in the monasteries which flourished during the middle ages. They of course exhibited “ various degrees of excellence; and in “The Life and Times of Lord Cobham,' we read some specimens which have been handed down to us are in a style of surpassing beauty, profusely illustrated with a degree of taste and ingenuity which, even in these times, could scarcely be equalled. The Bedford missal still exists. This was a holy volume prepared for the Duke of Bedford, when he was acting as Regent in France in 1422. No fewer than fifty-nine miniature paintings graced its pages, and among them are the only portraits of the Duke of Bedford, and Anne of Burgundy, his duchess, which are extant. This volume is still in a high state of preservation. The vellum leaves are surrounded by superb borders of carefully laboured foliage, and it is bound in crimson velvet with gold clasps, which seem to bear the stamp of antiquity. By the Duchess of Bedford this highly-valued book was deemed a fit present to Royalty, and it was accepted as such from her by King Henry VI.
“ Certain it is,” the same writer continues, " that poetry, painting. and sculpture, dissimilar in themselves, but kindred in their nature, gained value and importance in the eyes of our ancestors from the influence of piety. The tender passion failed not in connexion with them to make itself conspicuously important. Many of the most exemplary members of the church deemed it not sinful, or, it may be affirmed, considered it a solemn duty, to sustain the ardour of their sacred fires by a mortal flame. In their breviaries the features of the mistresses they admired were exquisitely painted as those of the mother of Jesus. The beauties thus distinguished were not always patterns of the unsullied purity which might be expected from the representatives of “the blessed Virgin,” but the fond hearts enamoured of them were conscious of a more fervent glow, when, repeating their Ave Marias, they pressed to their bosoms the images of those who were most dear to them on earth. The muses and the fine arts, prompted and sustained by love and religion, may boast without a figure their divine origin. Whether their early inspirations greatly served the cause of Christian piety, may be more than doubtful."
From a very early date, from a period when, in comparison with Englishmen of the nineteenth century, our ancestors were almost in a state of nature, this taste for the pictorial existed; and every celebrated minster was converted into the artist's exhibition; all miraculous fables were perpetuated by painting, or still more costly sculpture. We may name, as a case in point, the ancient font in the Winchester Cathedral. In this the figures are about as grotesque as those of our ordinary playing cards, but they are cut in a block of jet-coloured marble, have been preserved for many ages with reverential care, and are supposed to be of Saxon origin. The history to which it refers can only be guessed at. A small Pam-like figure, holding a cup in his hand, is supposed to be a king's butler, and a bishop appears to take hold of him by the hand. The heads of three men, presumed to be falsely accused by the butler, are seen, and these, it would seem, are to fall by the axe of the executioner, who appears with the fatal instrument in his hand. In a second compartment the bishop is praying that the guilt or innocence of the condemned may be proved. His appeal to heaven is not in vain. The sufferers are rising from the dead, and the false accuser lies lifeless at his feet. In a third compartment, however, the bishop having relented in his favour, and prayed for the sinner, the butler appears to be rising to rejoin in life those he had sought to consign to the grave.
Though such devices can no longer interest or engage the attention of the seriously disposed, the taste for rational illustration of sacred or historical events is anything but gone by. The art, therefore, of which we write, combining cheapness with higher finish than could heretofore be obtained, will hardly fail, when generally known, to be duly appreciated.
One advantage which it possesses over etching and wood engraving is, that in the former the artist draws his subject as he intends it to appear, without reversing it, as
is requisite in both the latter, and which is extremely difficult and perplexing, at least to beginners ; of course practice and experience tend to remove those difficulties, although in drawing figures many artists prefer using a mirror, to see what they are about ; but Glyphography at once removes this difficulty, and thus facilitates the artist's labour.
And last, though by no means least of its peculiar merits, and that which makes it of the highest importance to every true lover of the fine arts, is the freedom afforded to the artist, and consequent scope for the exercise of his talent, and multiplication of fac similes of his own work. Every connoisseur in the arts knows what sort of comparison to make between etchings and any other kind of prints, although they may be the productions of the same hand; and why? simply on account of the stiff formality and studied regularity of the latter, which, though perhaps pleasing to the eye, is by no means natural ; consequently, the same facilites are here afforded as in etching, without that tediousness associated therewith, and the other disadvantages already enumerated.
It has been seen how happily Glyphography can be applied to cottage scenery and initial illustrations; we now proceed further to show how invaluable it is to the naturalist. A bird will be found in a preceding page, and the dog which follows may serve to prove that by no process yet known can animals be more correctly represented.
Looking at the effect this must have on the juvenile books of the present day, it has fairly been urged that parents must necessarily feel those to be vastly superior which "contain pictures bearing, at least, some slight resemblance to what they were intended to represent, to those wherein were introduced all manner of frightful blots, calculated rather to destroy than improve or inculcate any taste in the minds of the children.”
The following suggestions are given for amateurs by the patentee.
“In addition to what has been already said under the head of Directions, it may be well to offer a remark or two to such as are inexperienced in Surface Printing. It has been erroneously supposed by some that, by putting as much work as possible in a drawing, under the idea of producing a finish, it will be proportionably improved thereby. This may be true as regards either a pencil drawing or a line engraving, where the effect is produced by depth of colour, and hence their soft and delicate appearance; but not so in surface printing, where the effect must be produced entirely by width. In order, therefore, to produce a good surface print, it is requisite to give great breadth of colour, and to let the work be bold and decided; nor should a single stroke be introduced in any part of the piece that is not decidedly important, otherwise it will lessen the general effect, which should be as vigorous and full of spirit as possible. In a word, the nature of surface printing is such as to exclude the possibility of introducing much
causes ; but in Glyphography, on the contrary, any sort of work, whether sketchy or Ifinished, free or formal, is introduced with equal ease (according to the skill and experience of the artist); and, moreover, what may seem strange to those unacquainted with the nature of the after-process, the more elaborate and complicated the drawing, the less time and trouble required in its conversion into a surface-printing block, as hereafter described.”
Hitherto we have seen no application of this art to caricature sketches. Landscapes, public buildings, human heads, animals, and rural pictures have occupied the artists who have taken it up. But we apprehend it will succeed equally well with comic subjects. “ The cowardly soldier, the deaf musician, the bandy-legged dancing-master, the corpulent running-footman, the antiquated fop or old maid, the drunken justice creating a riot, the tailor on a restive horse, the lord mayor or alderman dancing in his gold chain, and the judge or sergeant in his wig, similarly engaged,” might all, for aught we see, be as happily pictured as domestic scenes of interest, or the wild beauties of nature, by the new method as by the old one. We see no necessity for confining it to any set of objects, and think it may be as potent in satire as in sentiment. If there be a limit to its powers, we confess we know not where the line is to be drawn. Some of Hogarth's admirable scenes we should like to see represented through this medium, and the patentee, we think, would do well to take the hint.
Those who for amusement would make an experiment in the pictorial way, can produce an impression from a glyphographic block, and thus obtain a fac simile of their drawing by the following means:--Take a little printer's. ink and spread it evenly upon a plate, or some similar smooth surface, then with a dabber (made by rolling up tightly some cotton wool, or something of that nature, in a piece of soft kid or silk), apply it to the printing parts of the block until they be covered uniformly therewith. Next place carefully over it a piece of India-paper, hold it firmly down with a card that it may not alter its position, and rub with some sort of burnisher (a bone knite, for instance, or any other hard and smooth substance) the back of the card, pressing as hard as possible on the darkest parts and very gently on the lightest. By lifting up a portion of the card at a time it will be seen if the impression is properly taken, if not, the burnishing is to be continued for a long or short space of time, as needs be.
We add one more instance of the varieties to which this art is applicable.
We hope we have now said enough to make the subject thoroughly understood by all who are interested in the progress of art. From time to time we shall be happy to announce the advances that may be made, and the additional proofs afforded of its utility.
We supply a postscript for the purpose of adding a specimen, which we expect will tend to support what has already been hazarded, and add to the weight of evidence in favour of Glyphography. At a future day this notice of an art, which is destined to produce a most unlooked-for change in the embellishment of modern literature, will be referred to with interest, and we shall not regret having so particularly called the attention of our readers to its merits.