« AnteriorContinuar »
metal was the final object, the hollowed lines graved into the metal were filled in with a black substance so as to make the workmanship more distinct and more permanent also. The first impressions were taken by the engraver, not of the engraving in printing ink only, but of the entire plate, as from a seal, in plaster or melted sulphur. A counter impression having been taken, the corresponding hollow lines were blacked in, and this duplicate was retained by the workman as a fac-simile and specimen of his ability. Sulphur impressions of this nature are indeed rare : only a few are in the British Museum ; whilst at Manchester not one was to be seen. Delicate rubbings with printing ink on soft paper seem occasionally to have been taken from some of these sulphurs, and others also from the engraved plate before it was finally filled in with the black metallic substance called Niello. Plates so finished were called Nielli, and they are frequently mentioned in Vasari's account of Maso Finiguerra the goldsmith, and others who made the first discoveries in multiplication of designs by printing from engraved plates. In the Museum at Florence is preserved a silver niello plate, called a Pax, engraved with the device of “the coronation of the virgin.” In the British Museum is the sulphur duplicate from it, which had, during progress, been taken and filled in with paint before the Florentine one had received the metallic black; and in the Louvre is a paper impression taken between the two operations when the metal had somewhat more engraving on it than the sulphur exhibits. Each different museum thus affords a distinct illustration of the process, and serves to confirm a passage of Vasari, who mentions this very Pax. It was paid for, according to the still existing church accounts, A.D. 1452.
There were at Manchester several delicate impressions taken from silver plates destined to receive niello; and these nielli prints, Proofs they might truly be called, were attributable to Finiguerra, and are of the utmost rarity. Mr. R. S. Holford is the fortunate possessor of these priceless treasures ; but in their frames in the gallery they appeared no more than small grey specks upon a broad sheet of white paper. Among them the most beautiful was an Adoration of the Magi, surrounded by smaller medallions and an impression from the “Coronation of the Virgin" on the Florentine Pax above alluded to.
These silver plates were succeeded by engravings on copper by some of the first essayists who worked upon the metal, for the taking of impressions
now became the express aim and end of their labours. Baldini and Botticelli, already distinguished painters, devoted themselves readily to the new process. Baldini's series of engravings of the Triumphs of Petrarch, of the utmost rarity, were contributed by Dr. Wellesley, Mr. Palgrave, and Messrs. Evans; and by the same artist was to be seen an extraordinary engraving of the Preaching of the Fra Marco, indicating the foundation of the Mont de Piété, and an engraving of Christ from the “Monte Sancto di Dio," dated 1477, and the first engraving ever used as a book-illustration. These rare works are the property of Dr. Wellesley and Mr. E. Cheney. The great Italian masters Pollajuolo, Andrea Mantegna, and Mocetto were seen at Manchester in full vigour ; and the series of Marc Antonio, Bonasone, and the Mantuani were almost unrivalled. Of Marc Antonio, whom Raphael especially employed, even surrendering one of his own workmen for his especial assistance, the productions were of uniformly first-rate excellence and too numerous to admit of anything like particular enumeration. Perhaps, however, the very finest, clearest, and rarest of all these superlative brilliances were “ The Judgment of Paris,” belonging to Professor Johnson of Oxford ; “ Peace,” Dr. Wellesley ; “ The Pest,” Mr. Holford ; “ Aretino,” Mr. Cheney; " The Five Saints,” * Mr. Holford ; “ Massacre “ of the Innocents," Mr. H. Hawkins ; “ The Martyrdom of St. Lawrence,” Mr. H. Hawkins. All these were either unfinished proofs in rare states or unique condition, Bonasone was almost as peculiarly the engraver from Michael Angelo, as Marc Antonio was from Raphael. For the superiority of this collection, the principal thanks were due to Mr. Hawkins, of Bignor, Dr. Wellesley, the Rev. J. Griffiths, Mr. Holford, Mr. George Smith and Mr. St. John Dent.
Among the engravings by early Germans, Martin Schön, Israel van Meckenen, Lucas van Leyden and Albert Dürer, were most prominent. Here the aid of Mr. R. Fisher, Mr. C. S. Bale and Mr. Felix Slade was of especial value.
Rare historical engravings belonging to our own country naturally commanded a greater interest. Queen Elizabeth, in the dress in which she went to St. Paul's, James I. and the Prince of Wales, Anne of Denmark,
al: C. 8. Bol were most Israel van
• See the accompanying engraving, from Marc Antonio's " Five Saints," drawn by G. Scharf, and contributed by Messrs. Bosworth and Harrison from “Guizot's Fine Arts."
all by De Pass; Goltzius's fine engraving of the boy Frisius and his Dog; Elstrack's Mary Queen of Scots and Darnley; Delft's Elizabeth of Bohemia ; Faithorne's engravings of the period of Charles II., especially an early map of London dated 1658, contributed by Messrs. Evans of the Strand. An unparalleled series of Hollars and Nanteuil's brilliant performances, including John Evelyn and other portraits, occupied their respective places among etchings and engravings.
Strange, Woollett and Sharp, engravers in whom the English feel a just pride, were worthily displayed at Manchester in works from Titian, Guido, Claude and Wilson. The principal contributor of these works was Mr. Felix Slade. Raphael, Morghen, Müller, Longhi, Desnoyers and Anderloni, verging on modern times, are the last who can be enuinerated. Of Volpato I observed no specimen.
Rubens, like Raphael, created a school of engravers, of whom the most prominent were Vorsterman, Bolswert, van Thulden, Pontius, and Soutman. Poussin, likewise, had his followers in engraving, of whom Audran and Pesne were the first and most characteristic. Wille also deserves particular remembrance for his fine and brilliant paintings by the Dutch masters. The chief part of this extensive series was contributed by Mr. Lewis Loyd.
Another branch of engraving, of nearly equal importance and more closely allied in fact to typography, is wood engraving. The art of engraving blocks of wood, for the purpose of yielding impressions, was coeval with the invention of chalcography. A few pages from the early blockbooks, and some primitive playing cards marked the infancy of the art. The famous 1423 wood-cut, however, of St. Christopher, (the earliest known with a date), belonging to Lord Spencer, was not exhibited. An extensive series of wood-cuts, giving the effect of original coloured drawings by means of impressions of several wood-blocks, invented by Ugo da Carpi, were there : many of them representing Raphael's cartoons and other well known compositions. Designs also by Titian were recorded through this process by Andreani Vavasori and Scholari. No. 1389, (numbered 50 on the frame), was a magnificent Procession after Titian, emblematical of the triumph of the church. The “Orpheus" by Pilgrim, the supposed inventor of these chiaroscuro printings, was also there, but it bears no date. Some striking life-size portraits in black and white, looking like ren and ink drawings, were remarkable from their truthfulness and