International studio — 42.1910

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Mr. Frank Short's Mezzotints


(By permission of Mr. Robert Dunthorne)

too beautiful and rich in its possibilities to languish
always for lack of the combination of true artist
and great craftsman necessary to bring back its
former glory. In Mr. Frank Short mezzotint
found its modern master, not only its true re-
storer to dignity and splendour as a reproductive
medium, but the first to use its infinite capacity
for responsiveness to the artist's eye looking direct
at nature. And, notwithstanding all his varied
accomplishment upon the copper-plate, and the
inestimable value of his far-reaching influence as
a teacher, not the least of Mr. Short's many
services to art is, surely, that in this extension of
the scope of mezzotint he has opened a new field
of original expression to the engraver. Illimitable
as the range of the painter-etcher would seem to
be, there are yet subjects, as Mr. Short's original
plates show indisputably, that seem to demand
direct interpretation through the rich tones and
multitudinous subtleties of mezzotint—subjects
the full effect of which could not possibly be
expressed by the scratched and bitten line. Mezzo-
tint, however, is, compared with etching, a slow
and laborious method for out-of-doors sketching,
and only a consummate craftsman like Mr. Short

could so employ it; but sometimes he will work
with his scraper from only a mental vision, some-
times from pencil drawings, and more often from
colour " blots." For the representation of broad
tone-surfaces, especially in' rendering the subtle
atmospheric contrasts and mysteries of night,
mezzotint is incomparable in effect; though for a
subject full of small details, which it would render
with difficulty, the discriminating engraver would
naturally choose some other medium that would
enable him to handle those details with ease. Of
all methods of engraving, however, mezzotint has
the widest range of tone, sufficient to express the
utmost delicacies of artistic vision, while its most
powerful tones are never harsh, as in some other
methods. A light mezzotint, by the way, presents
infinitely greater difficulties to the engraver than
a dark one, but, when these difficulties are over-
come, as Mr. Short's seemingly magic scraper can
overcome them, the result has a quality of beauty
all its own. Of course Mr. Short, commanding,
as he does, such a varied choice of medium,
invariably allows his subjects to suggest their
own manner of treatment. Take, for instance,
his beautiful plate, Ebb Tide, Pict?iey Bridge,
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