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is blue. In the body, or shape of the largest letter, the B at the beginning of the first psalm, the mass of colour is relieved by certain figures being cut out in the block, which appear white in the impression. On the stem of the letter a dog like a greyhound is seen chasing a bird;
and flowers and ears of corn are represented on the curved portions. These figures being white, or the colour of the vellum, give additional brightness to the full-bodied red by which they are surrounded, and materially add to the beauty and effect of the whole letter."
In p. 219 is mentioned a curious fact connected with the wood-cuts in the earliest books printed with type, that they are very inferior to those in the previous block-books. This arose from the circumstance of the formschneider or engraver withholding his aid from an invention which threatened in a great degree to supplant his own craft; and new hands, of inferior skill, were in consequence employed. In 1471 the engravers of Augsburg opposed the admission of Gunther Zainer to the privileges of a burgess, and endeavoured to prevent him from printing in the city; and when, through the interference of the Abbot of St. Ulric, he and John Schussler obtained permission from the magistracy to follow their trade, it was at first on the condition of their having no wood-cuts, and afterwards that they should employ only the engravers of Augsburg. It was in this city that the practice of introducing woodcuts into printed books was first generally adopted (p. 231). In a few years it became general throughout Germany.
In 1467 Ulric Hahn, a German, produced the first book in Italy that was embellished in this way. It was printed at Rome, and entitled Meditationes Johannis de Turre cremata. Its cuts are engraved in simple outline; and that style long continued prevalent in Italy, with occasionally a slight indication of shade, by means of short parallel lines, as shown in the following cut from "Fra Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili," or "Contest between Imagination and Love," printed at Venice, by Aldus, in 1499.
the text, addresses the God of Love as ΣΥΜΟΙ ΓΛΥΚΟΣ ΚΑΙ ΠΙΚRΟΣ, "at once sweet and bitter." In the cut the word AAAA is substituted for KAI.
"The simple style in which the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia are engraved continued to prevail, with certain modifications, in Italy for many years after the method of cross-hatching became general in Germany; and from 1500 to about 1530 the characteristic of most Italian wood-cuts is the simple manner in which they are executed compared with the more laboured productions of the German wood engraver."'*
"While the German proceeds with considerable labour to obtain 'colour,' or shade, by means of cross-hatching, the Italian, in the early part of the sixteenth century, endeavours to obtain his object
by easier means, such as leaving his lines thicker in certain parts, and in others indicating shade by means of short slanting parallel lines. In the execution of flowered or ornamented initial letters a decided difference may frequently be noticed between the work of an Italian and a German artist. The German mostly, with considerable trouble, cuts his flourishes, figures, and flowers in relief, according to the general practice of wood engravers; the Italian, on the contrary, often cuts them, with much greater ease, in intaglio; and thus the form of the letter, and its ornaments, appear, when printed, white upon a black ground."
Of the style here described the initial M below (from an edition of Ovid's Tristia, printed at Venice by J. de Cireto in 1499) forms a specimen; whilst the German colour and cross-hatching is shown in a head from the Nuremberg Chronicle.
The cuts of the Nuremberg Chronicle, which was first printed in 1493, were designed by Michael Wolgemuth, to whom Mr. Ottley assigned the
*"At a subsequent period a more elaborate manner of engraving began to prevail in Italy, and cross-hatching was almost as generally employed to obtain depth of colour and shade as in Germany. The wood-cuts which appear in works printed at Venice between 1550 and 1570 are generally as good as most German wood-cuts of the same period; and many of them, more especially those in books printed by the Giolitos, are executed with a clearness and delicacy which have seldom been surpassed."
material improvement of cross-hatching; but Mr. Jackson shows (p. 251) that the same execution appears in Breydenbach's Travels, printed seven years earlier at Mentz; and he states that there is no proof that either Wolgemuth or Albert Durer were more than designers. In p. 253 it is
"Albert Durer is generally, but erroneously, supposed to have been the best wood-engraver of his day. Albert Durer studied under Wolgemuth as a painter,
and not as a wood-engraver; and I consider it extremely questionable if either of them ever engraved a single block."
Having another specimen in our Plate I. (the Creation of Eve) from the Nuremberg Chronicle, we extract the work:
"The Nuremberg Chronicle is a folio, compiled by Hartman Schedel, a physician of Nuremberg, and printed in that city by Anthony Koburger, in 1493. In the Colophon it is stated, that the views of cities and figures of eminent characters were executed under the superintendance of Michael Wolgemuth and William Pley. denwurff, ' mathematical men,' and skilled in the part of painting. The total number of impressions contained in the work exceeds two thousand, but several of the cuts are repeated eight or ten times.
"The above head, which the owner appears to be scratching with so much earnestness, first occurs as that of Paris, the lover of Helen; and it is afterwards repeated as that of Thales, Anastatius, Odofredus, and the poet Dante. In the like manner the economical printer has a stock-head for kings and emperors; another for
following account of that
popes; a third for bishops; a fourth for saints; and so on. Several cuts representing what might be supposed to be particular events, are in the same manner pressed into the general service of the chronicler.*
"The peculiarity of the cuts in the Nuremberg Chronicle is that they generally contain more of what engravers term colour,' than any which had previously appeared. The cut representing the Creation of Eve [see plate I.] is copied from one of the best, both with respect to design and engraving. The colour results from the closeness of the single lines, as in the dark parts of the rock immediately behind the figure of Eve; from the introduction of dark lines crossing each other, called cross-hatching,' as may be seen in the drapery of the Divinity; and from the contrast of the shade thus produced with the lighter parts of the cut."
In the days of Albert Durer the ancient school of wood-engraving was in its most flourishing state. A large portion of attention is paid in the volume before us to his works, as they richly deserve.
"There are about two hundred subjects engraved on wood, which are marked with the initials of Albert Durer's name; and the greater part of them, though evidently designed by the hand of a master, are engraved in a manner which certainly denotes no very great excellence. Of the remainder, which are better engraved, it would be difficult to point out one which displays execution so decidedly superior as to enable any person to say positively that it must have been cut by Albert Durer himself. The earliest engravings on wood with Durer's mark are sixteen cuts illustrative of the Apocalypse, first published in 1498; and between that period and 1528, the year of his death, it is likely that nearly all the others were executed."
"In Durer's designs on wood we per
ceive not only more correct drawing, and a greater knowledge of composition, but also a much more effective combination of light and shade, than are to be found in any wood-cuts executed before the date of his earliest work, the Apocalypse. One of the peculiar advantages of wood engraving is the effect with which strong shades can be represented; and of this Durer has generally availed himself with the greatest skill. On comparing his works engraved on wood with all those previously executed in the same manner, we shall find that his figures are not only much better drawn and more skilfully grouped, but that instead of sticking, in hard outline, against the background, they stand out with the natural appearance of rotundity. The rules of perspective are more attentively observed; the backgrounds
* The like practice, adopted in England, detracts much from the vraisemblance of the otherwise very interesting designs in Holinshed's Chronicle and Fox's Book of Martyrs. Rev.
better filled; and a number of subordinate objects introduced-such as trees, herbage, flowers, animals, and children,-which at once give a pleasing variety to the subject, and impart to it the stamp of truth. Though the figures of many of his designs
may not, indeed, be correct in point of costume, (for, though he diligently studied nature, it was only in her German dress,) yet their character and expression are generally appropriate and natural.”
Mr. Jackson has given excellent specimens from Durer's three best volumes, the Apocalypse, the History of the Virgin, and Christ's Passion; but we shall prefer to extract his own portrait (see Plate I.), which was "perhaps the last drawing that he made on wood." The size of the original is 11 inc. high by 10 inc. wide. Some impressions exist on comparatively modern paper, showing the block considerably eaten with worms. The pair of doors on the shield,-in German Durer or Thurer, is a rebus of the great artist's name.
The best artists contemporary with Durer, whose talents are perpetuated in wood-engravings, are Lucas Cranach, Hans Burgmair, and Hans Schaufflein. They were all painters, and probably did no more than draw upon the wood the designs which others cut. Burgmair drew a large proportion of the designs in the celebrated Triumphs of Maximilian and Mr. Jackson has very ingeniously distinguished his works from others, which are characterised by horses of leaner make, and much inferior drawing, particularly about the feet. At Maximilian's death in 1519, scarcely more than half of this magnificent work was accomplished. One hundred and thirty-five blocks, which remained in 1796, were in that year published for the first time, by Mr. James Edwards the London bookseller the whole series of drawings, amounting to two hundred and eighteen, is preserved in the Imperial Library at Vienna.
A similar but distinct work was executed for Maximilian, by Albert Durer; it is a triumphal car, engraved by Resch on eight separate pieces, which, when joined together, form a continuous subject, 7 feet 4 inc. long. Durer's Triumphal Arch, another immense work suggested by the same imperial patron of this art, being a " pictorial epitome of the History of the German Empire," represented in no fewer than ninety-two pieces, was not quite completed at the artist's death in 1528.
"The art of wood-engraving, both as regards design and execution, appears to have attained its highest perfection within about ten years of the time of Durer's decease; for the cuts which, in my opinion, display the greatest excellence of the art, as practised in former times, were published in 1538. The cuts to which I allude are those of the celebrated Dance of Death, which were first pub
lished in that year at Lyons. So admirably are those cuts executed,-with so much feeling and with so perfect a knowledge of the capabilities of the art, that 1 do not think any wood-engraver of the the present time is capable of surpassing them. Every line is expressive, and the end is always obtained by the simplest
For specimens of these cuts we may refer to some which were extracted by us from Mr. Douce's edition of 1833, in the first volume of the present series of our Magazine, Feb. 1834. The authors before us give their opinion that Mr. Douce had no just foundation for throwing doubt upon Holbein's reputed authorship of the Lyons' cuts; and that opinion we are willing to receive with all the respect due to their experience; but we confess we do not see the force of the satyrical sneers attempted to be cast upon the diligent and discriminating Douce, because at the same time he credited the tradition that a Dance of Death in the palace of Whitehall was executed by Holbein; and we will add that this portion of their
criticisms is not worthy the writer, whether he be Mr. Jackson, or Mr. Chatto.
Having now touched upon English ground, we shall give a few brief notes of the little that was formerly done in wood-engraving in this country. The first printed book in the English language which contains wood-cuts, is the second edition of Caxton's Game and Playe of Chesse," supposed to have been printed in 1476. There are also wood-cuts in his Golden Legend, 1483; the Fables of Esop, 1484; and in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales; of which last Mr. Jackson says,-" the cuts may safely be considered as the genuine invention and execution of a British artist." The greater part of the cuts found in books printed by Caxton and De Worde, may be supposed to have come from abroad; but, whether so or not, they are generally coarse. Abundant specimens of these are scattered through the works of Dr. Dibdin.
While Holbein was resident in this country, he made some designs for wood-cuts, but not many,-perhaps, as conjectured by Mr. Jackson, from there being no engravers here capable of cutting them. The illustrations of Cranmer's Catechism, printed in 1548, have been ascribed to him, but only two contain his mark, and the rest bear little resemblance to his usual style.
Coverdale's translation of the Bible, folio, 1535,
Of the best English engravers of Queen Elizabeth's time the initials only are known as I. B., I. C., I. D., and H. (see pp. 507-509). It is conjectured that the famous printer, John Day, may himself have been I. D. as he has recorded that he cut some Saxon characters. The print of "The Good Hows-holder "in p. 518 (dated 1607) is an excellent work, but its engraver is unknown. The cuts of the Great Seals, &c. in Speed's Chronicle, are believed to have been engraved by Christopher Switzer the elder.