Studio: international art — 1.1893

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The School of Art Wood-Carving

have been said a few years ago that the native selves, are meaningless excrescences considered as

art was rapidly becoming obsolete. Now, how- applied ornament, have at length produced a

ever, there appears to be a revival of interest on reaction in favour of delicately-wrought low reliefs

the part of the public, and a corresponding revival that show the influences which are really active in

of energy in production. Still, with all wish to modern decoration.

take the most hopeful view of its future, it is When one examines the sister arts—weaving,

evident that, unless hew forms and new motives of colour-printing, glass, or pottery—we discover new

design are freely employed, it cannot hope to influences drawn from many sources, and yet with

attain the vigour which a living art must needs the accent of the nineteenth century clearly marked,

possess. Faithful reproduction of old work, or re- A piece of Doulton ware or Morris wall-paper

arrangement of old motives, be they worked never to-day is distinctly recognisable as a modern

so freshly, are but as a galvanised corpse, that product; no one could mistake it for an ancient

ceases to move when the artificial stimulus is with- example, whatever it might owe to the past. But a

drawn. New life must be infused, and new ideas piece of modern wood carving, so far as its design

freely developed, before wood-carving can come to is concerned, might well be a genuine ancient

its own once more. This vitality, which the craft example, except that in it lacks, as a rule, the

so sorely needs, is opposed by two fatal influences, impress of the craftsman, which gives a certain

the first being the comparative scarcity of true charm to even the rudest old work, and stands con-

their best work, ^^^W^T^::> "^W^ , '"^J lifeless and dull,

and the other ^P*1**^ teK***»>' *fcftffcW^KKfS To say what

the taste of the RgBf;- ? ! ^/jS^ \ o' j^^W yA should be the

public for sensa- • '* ; »-^7 exact course of

tional work in BHMrv^C^V^^^ >< ''m
high relief with as gPj@i& /S^W^^gSS

much minute na- lWgV5%S""B«5i|i#<r t*f-vr;Pftr®^**0^&'f •■ V-Jk worker must find

turalistic detail as SSI f^S^St-' f f t\ ?j ff^&&frWk his °™ exPres"

possible. Until J^SI-i IhwL irifffl I ? -I'»-f ^V^rW-jW^. ■■ .' >um and select

the qualities of B.,;HFr . ' - ! ~: } ,-"7 - : • ;!'*~ ""tSI his own style:

wood-rarvinj: arc -• ^ 1 ::!:!:' r:lnvrs

appreciated, and resolutely break


the limits of the from the dead
material regarded, not as a hindrance, but as an tradition, and work, on the old lines may be but
important factor in giving it a distinct quality apart with new spirit, no great advance can be looked
from plastic work or carving in stone, we can hardly for. The low relief carvings on the stone monu-
hope for its complete renascence. ments of Egypt, the savage patterns of the South
From inquiries at the school under notice, we Seas, ancient Celtic knot-work, the gilded and
find quite low relief, legitimate and beautiful though lacquered carvings of the East, and a thousand
it be, is disliked by the trade and unpopular with other sources whence designers in the various
the public. A panel carved simply, like much applied arts find motives for their work, might
of the old Scandinavian work for example, is not not exist for all the evidence we find in the bulk of
to the taste of buyers. It is obvious that the the work to-day. It is not necessary to single out
wood-carvings of India with their wealth of detail, for condemnation the modern Flemish work,
of Japan with their free invention, or of German ornately redundant as it is, and coarse in design,
Gothic with its luxurious foliage and intricate however masterly in execution, for after all it is dis-
geometric patterns, are not approved by buyers. tinctly a mere olla-podrida of the worst features of
Coarsely naturalistic work, which, to its credit be it the later Renaissance ; it is the spirit which is
said, is not produced by the South Kensington satisfied with any vapid reproduction of past ages
School, and designs built more or less on the that should be condemned. The most fatal danger
Italian Renaissance, seem alone to find favour to wood-carving at present seems to be lest over-
to-day. Those who know the state of the art in elaboration and heavy projecting masses, neither
America, know that unspeakable horrors in imita- things of beauty nor desirable from a sanitary point
tion of natural objects which, beautiful in them- of view, and yet both unfortunately beloved by

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