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have been the work of persons who had not learnt and did not regularly practise the art. Such cuts, evidently executed on the spur of the moment, are of frequent occurrence in tracts and pamphlets published during the war between Charles and the Parliament."
"Though several English wood-engravings of the reigns of James I. and Charles I. have evidently been executed by professed wood-engravers, yet a great proportion of those contained in English books and pamphlets printed in this country during the seventeenth century appear to An edition of Ptolemy's Chronology, printed at Ulm, 1482, by Leonard Holl, furnishes the first example of Maps engraved on wood. The idea of this work " was most likely suggested by an edition of the same work, printed at Rome in 1478, by Arnold Bukinck," in which the maps are printed from plates of copper, the names of places being stamped with a punch :
"In the execution of the maps, the copper-plate engraver possesses a decided advantage over the engraver on wood, owing to the greater facility and clearness with which letters can be cut in copper than on wood. In the engraving of letters on copper, the artist cuts the form of the letter into the plate, the character being thus in intaglio; while in engraving on a block, the wood surrounding has to be cut away, and the letter left in relief. On copper, using only the graver,-for etching was not known in the fifteenth century, as many letters might be cut in one day as could be cut on wood in three. Notwithstanding the disadvantage under which the ancient wood-engravers laboured in the execution of maps, they for many years contended with the copper-plate printers for a share of this branch of business; and the printers, at whose presses maps engraved on wood only could be printed, were well inclined to support the wood-engravers. In a folio edition of Ptolemy, printed at Venice in 1511, by Jacobus Pentius de Leucho, the outlines of the maps, with the indications of the mountains and rivers, are cut on wood, and the names of the places are printed in type, of different sizes, and with red and black ink. For instance, in the map of Britain,-which is more correct than any which had previously appeared, the word 'ALBION' is printed in large capitals, and the word 'GADINI' in small capitals, and both with red ink. The words 'Curia' and 'Bremenium' are printed in small Roman characters, and with black ink. The names of the rivers are also in small Roman, and in black ink. Such of those maps as contain many names, are almost full of type... In the last map,-of Loraine,-in an edition of Ptolemy, in folio, printed at Strasburg in 1513, by John Schott, the attempt to print in colours, in the manner of chiaro-scuro wood engravings, is carried yet further. The hills and woods are printed green; the indications of towns and cities, and the names of the most considerable GENT. MAG. VOL. XII.
places are red, while the names of the smaller places are black. For this map, executed in three colours, there would be required two wood engravings and two forms of type, each of which would have to be separately printed. The arms which form a border to the map are printed in their proper heraldic colours. The only other specimen of armorial bearings printed in colours from wood-blocks, that I am aware of, is Earl Spencer's arms in the first part of Savage's Hints on Decorative Printing, which was published in 1818, upwards of three hundred years after the first essay.
"At a later period a new method was adopted, by which the wood-engraver was spared the trouble of cutting the letters, while the printer was enabled to obtain a perfect copy of each map by a single impression. The mode in which this was effected was as follows. The indications of mountains, rivers, cities, and villages were engraved on the wood as before, and blank spaces were left for the names. Those spaces were afterwards cut out by means of a chisel or drill, piercing quite through the block; and the names of the places being inserted in type, the whole constituted only one 'form,' from which an impression both of the cut and the letters could be obtained by its being passed once through the press. Sebastian Munster's Cosmography, folio, printed at Basle in 1554, by Henry Petri, affords several examples of maps executed in this manner. This may be considered as one of the last efforts of the old wood-engravers and printers to secure to themselves a share of the business of map-engraving. Their endeavours, however, were unavailing, for within twenty years of that date, this branch of art was almost exclusively in the hands of the copper-plate engravers. From the date of the maps of Ortelius, Antwerp, 1570, engraved on copper by Ægidius Diest, maps engraved on wood are rarely to be seen. The practice of engraving the outlines and rivers on wood and then piercing the block and inserting
the names of the places in type has, however, lately been revived; and where publishers are obliged either to print maps with the type or to give none at all, this mode may answer very well, more especially when the object is to give the relative position of a few of the principal places, rather than a crowded list of names. Most of the larger maps in the Penny Cyclo
pædia are executed in this manner. 'The holes in the blocks are pierced with the greatest rapidity by gouges of different sizes acting vertically, and put in motion by machinery, contrived by Mr. Edward Cowper, to whose great mechanical skill the art of steam-printing chiefly owes its perfection."
Early in the sixteenth century, a process of chiaroscuro engraving began to be practised with wooden blocks, which has been noticed by most of the authors on engraving. Vasari and other Italian writers have claimed it as an invention of their country; but, like other branches of the art, it had its origin in Germany, where it was practised by Cranach, Grün, and Burgmair.
"Chiaroscuros are executed by means of two or more blocks, in imitation of a drawing in sepia, India ink, or any other colour of two or more shades. The older chiaro-scuros are seldom executed with more than three blocks; on the first of which the general outline of the subject
and the stronger shades were engraved and printed in the usual manner; from the second the lighter shades were communicated; and from the third a general tint was printed over the impressions of the other two."
This art has been practised in this country only at intervals. Twelve chiaroscuros, chiefly from Italian masters, were published by Edward Kirkall, between 1722 and 1724; twenty-seven others of a large size between 1738 and 1742, by Mr. John Baptist Jackson, then resident at Venice; who afterwards published in 1754," An Essay on the Invention of Engraving and Printing in chiaroscuro," from which we learn that he was then desirous to direct the art to the manufacture of paper hangings, in which he was engaged at Battersea. Some prints were executed about 1783, by Mr. John Skippe, an amateur; and others are in Savage's Hints on Decorative Printing, 2 parts, 1819-1823. Latterly a good many prints of this kind, and in various colours, have been printed by Mr. George Baxter of Charter-house Square; some of whose earliest attempts are in the History of Sussex, printed by his father at Lewes, in 1835, and his best in the Pictorial Album, published by Chapman and Hall, 1837. (p. 712.)
Mr. Knight's Patent Illuminated Maps, of which a specimen is given in the present volume, are also produced in a similar way. It remains to be proved whether coloured prints of this kind, will be best produced by wooden blocks or by coloured lithography; for the latter process is already extensively practised on the continent, and has been introduced with great success into some recent works by Messrs. Hullmandell.
The process called Dotting, a more early variety of the art of woodengraving, is thus described :
"Towards the latter end of the fifteenth century, a practice was introduced by the German wood-engravers of dotting the dark parts of their subjects with white, more especially in cuts where the figures were intended to appear light upon a dark ground; and about the beginning of the sixteenth, this mode of 'killing the black,' as it is technically termed, was very generally prevalent among the French woodengravers, who, as well as the Germans
and Dutch, continued to practise it till about 1520, when it was almost wholly superseded by cross-hatching; a mode of producing shade which has been much practised by the German engravers who worked from the drawings of Durer, Cranach, and Burgmair, and which about that time seems to have been generally adopted in all countries where the art had made any progress."
We have now reviewed the principal features of foreign wood-engraving; and must shortly conclude with a very brief outline of its progress in this country.
"Although wood-engraving had fallen into almost utter neglect by the end of the seventeenth century, and continued in a languishing state for many years afterward, yet the art was never lost, as many persons have supposed; for both in England and in France a regular succession of wood-engravers can be traced from 1700,
to the time of Thomas Bewick. The cuts which appear in books printed in Germany, Holland, and Italy, during the same period, though of very inferior execution, sufficiently prove that the art continued to be practised in those countries."
An octavo volume entitled Howel's Medulla Historiæ Anglicanæ, printed in London in 1712, contains more than sixty wood-cuts, "executed in a manner which sufficiently indicates that the engraver must either have been self taught, or had been a pupil of a master who did not understand the art." They are engraved in the manner of copper-plates, and are supposed to have been the work of Edward Kirkall, who engraved the copperplate frontispiece to the volume. Kirkall is known to have been an artist employed for the head-pieces and ornaments, which at this period became common, particularly those in Maittaire's Classics. Of this style of ornament we are able to supply a specimen.
A person named Lister was a moderately good wood-engraver in the middle of the last century, as is shown by his cuts in the Oxford Sausage, &c. and "about the same time S. Watts also engraved, in a bold and free style, several small circular portraits of painters." We presume these are the same which were introduced into Rogers's "Collection of Prints in Imitation of Drawings," fol. 1778; and, if we rightly remember, some of the larger prints of that work, which our authors do not appear to have seen, were taken from wood-blocks.
Next in succession is T. Hodgson, an artist employed for Sir John Hawkins's History of Music published in 1776, "in which there are four wood-cuts," and we rather think many more of musical instruments, &c. and for whom Bewick worked on his visit to London in that very year.
We are now arrived at the man of genius "whose productions recalled public attention to the neglected art of wood-engraving." Thomas Bewick was born at Cherryburn, about twelve miles from Newcastle in 1753. and educated at Ovingham, on the opposite bank of the Tyne. He had an eye alive to rural beauties, and reminiscences of the haunts of his youth abound in his tail-pieces, &c. He was apprenticed to Mr. Ralph Beileby of Newcastle, an engraver, not on wood, but in all the branches incident to a country practice, whether card-plates, silver plate, or seals, or whatever else of the kind might be required. Bewick's attention was first directed to wood by the diagrams required for the Treatise on Mensuration, written by Dr. Charles Hutton, then a schoolmaster in Newcastle. This was commenced in 1768, and completed in 1770. Shortly after the ex
piration of his apprenticeship he seems to have formed the resolution of applying himself exclusively to wood-engraving; and in 1775 he received a premium for the Society of Arts for his cut of the Huntsman and Old Hound.
In the autumn of the following year he came to London, where he found employment with T. Hodgson, a printer in Clerkenwell, and already mentioned as a wood-engraver. Some of his cuts appeared in "A curious Hieroglyphick Bible," printed by this person. He did not, however, like London, and after only a twelve-months' stay he returned to Newcastle, and entered into partnership with his former master, Mr. Ralph Beilby, after which period he engraved a few works in copper (of which a list is given in p. 568), but always preferred employment on his own favourite material. Mr. Saint, a bookseller at Newcastle, aided his views, by undertaking an edition of Gay's Fables, which appeared in 1779; in this work the cut of the Old Hound already mentioned was first published; Mr. Jackson has given a fac-simile of it in p. 564. The success of the volume led to another published five years after, under the title of "Select Fables."
"He evidently improved as his talents were exercised; for the cuts in the Select Fables, 1784, are generally much superior to those in Gay's Fables, 1779; the animals are better drawn and engraved; the sketches of landscape in the back-grounds are more natural; and the engraving of the foliage of the trees and bushes is, not unfrequently, scarce inferior to that of his later productions. Such an attention to nature in this respect is not to be found in any wood-cuts of an earlier date. In the best cuts of the time of Durer and Holbein, the foliage is generally neglected; the artists of that period merely give general forms of trees, without ever attending to that which contributes so much
to their beauty. The merit of introducing this great improvement in wood-engraving, and of depicting quadrupeds and birds in their natural forms, and with their characteristic expression, is undoubtedly due to Bewick. Though he was not the discoverer of the long-lost art' of woodengraving, he certainly was the first who applied it with success to the delineation of animals, and to the natural representation of landscape and wood-land scenery. He found for himself a path which no previous wood engraver had trodden, and in which none of his successors have gone beyond him. For several of the cuts in the Select Fables, Bewick was paid only nine shilings each."
With respect to his mode of workmanship, Mr. Jackson adds, that his Chillingham Bull contains almost the only instance of cross-hatching throughout his work:
"From the commencement of his career as a wood-engraver, he seems to have adopted a much more simple method of obtaining colour. He very justly considered, that, as impressions of wood-cuts are printed from lines engraved in relief, the unengraved surface of the block already represented the darkest colour that could be produced; and consequently, instead of labouring to get colour in the same manner as the old wood engravers, he
In 1785, he began the cuts for his
"The descriptions were written by his partner, Mr. Beilby, and the cuts were all drawn and engraved by himself. The comparative excellence of those cuts, which, for the correct delineation of the animals, and the natural character of the
commenced upon colour or black, and proceeded from dark to light by means of lines cut in intaglio, and appearing white when in the impression, until his subject was completed. This great simplification of the old process was the result of his having to engrave his own drawings; for in drawing his subject on the wood he avoided all combinations of lines which to the designer are easy, but to the engraver difficult."
"General History of Quadrupeds:" incidents, and the back-grounds, are greatly superior to anything of the kind that had previously appeared, insured a rapid sale of the work. A second edition was published in 1791, and a third in 1792.”
In 1791 he undertook his well-known History of British Birds. first volume appeared in 1797, and the second in 1804; for the latter he