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Studio: international art — 30.1904

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The London Sketch Club

During the many years in which it was the privilege
of my father and myself to be associated with him
in the production of his lithographs, the one great
lesson which I learnt was that nothing was "good
enough" until it was just as he would wish it to be.

On most occasions the materials gave him a
perfect result at once, but when, by any failure of
the process, something was lost in his drawing, no
trouble was too great for him to take to remedy
the defect, and so to mend it that there remained
in the proof no trace of mending at all. And
facile as he was with his pen in making little
sketches of pictures he had painted and was de-
scribing at the moment, whenever we put new
materials before him, such as a fresh form of
transfer paper, instead of relying on his memory
for a subject he invariably turned to the window
and made a drawing of the houses on the
opposite side of the street. Thus it came about
that the big bow window at the back of the Gaiety
Theatre and the stage door were drawn three or
four times over. It was intensely interesting to
watch the great exactness with which he drew
whatever he chose to put down, his chalk passing
over and over the paper without touching it before
the line was finally drawn.

The Nocturne, before mentioned, was the only
lithograph I ever saw him make without reference
to nature, and that he had learned by heart
beforehand, as no doubt he always did with such
subjects, painting them on the next day before
the inspiration had passed. In Whistler's death
lithography mourns not only one who has demon-
strated the beauties of the art, but has also made
many things possible for others to attempt which
were undreamed of before he began to experiment
with them. T. R. Way.


On April Fool's Day of 1898, some ten
of the younger set of London artists took upon
themselves the felicitous venture of setting up a
sketch club, quite by themselves. Mr. G. C.
Haite was made president, Mr. Dudley Hardy
" vice," and the modern gallery in Bond Street
was rented on the personal responsibility of each
member for their Friday evening retreat. This
was the beginning of the London Sketch Club—a
society that, at the present time, is perhaps the
best known of the several sketch clubs, both in
England and other countries.

The original object of the club was the bringing
together of the members once a week for the purpose
of making a two-hours' sketch, from seven till nine,
the subjects being chosen by committees at the
beginning of the year, one for figure, another for
landscape. And when the two hours' work is finished
there is a general " show-up," and good-natured
criticism and chaff float about the gallery through
the rings of smoke until half-past nine, when a
thoroughly Bohemian supper is served and the
troubles of life are forgotten, and songs are warbled.
Then twice a year there are exhibitions of the
members' work, and a smoking conversazione
every spring and autumn, when "spoof" theatricals
divulge the most amazing histrionic capabilities
among the members of this merry community of
artists, who play quite as cleverly and as earnestly
as they work.

The working object of the club is to encourage
and facilitate spontaneous execution, and to
discipline the artist to look to the inspiration of
the moment rather than depend on the more
laboriously thought-out effort, which is always
less a thing of inspiration than of studied effect.
And, whatever may be the methods commonly
employed by the members in the ordinary exercise
of their talents, every man trusts to the stimulus
of the moment at the Sketch Club meetings, and
thoroughly enjoys working under conditions which
are calculated to quicken spontaneity and direct-
ness, both in the grasp of idea and in the decision
as to how best to give it expression. 1 sThe fact
that there are no models to work from, and that
artificial light must be accounted for in pictures
that are to be judged by day effects, add not a
little to the merits of the results thus gained.
Still there is nothing particularly novel in sketch
clubs conducted on these lines; they have, in
fact, for a generation or more given artists that
opportunity for development of the imaginative
faculties and directness of execution so highly
valuable in technical skill, but the fact that the
large number of members in this one particular
club are men of experience and distinction in the
several fields of pictorial art, rather than a gather-
ing of unpractised workers endeavouring to develop
a facility of expression, makes the London Sketch
Club obviously strong and in many ways in-

When a club contains such men as Dudley Hardy,
John Hassall, C. Shepperson, and numbers of
others whose names are familiar on two continents
through their cleverness with brush and pencil,
men whose efforts are dignified by years of

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