Studio: international art — 5.1895

Page: 199
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1 cm
The Etchings of D. Y. Cameron

Seymour Haden's work—the " line" is always
completely fitted to express what an etcher has to
say. Although at times it is subdued to serve
building up masses of tone—other things being
equal—the best etching is undoubtedly one that
only relies on line, pure and simple, for its first
and final effort. To express a subject by a few
lines that shall give modelling, perspective, form
and colour, is the etcher's problem • that he can
witch you in believing he has compassed all these
ends and a dozen others is the etcher's wizardry.
He can by an apparent scratch make you feel the
boundless horizon of the sea—a few scribbles give
a sunset, a line or two the long foreshore of a tidal
creek. For of all the arts there is none that
expresses so much, by so little. Indeed it is true,
as a master observed, that no first-rate etcher ever
regrets the paucity of lines he has used; but when
he takes up an old plate again he almost invari-
ably wishes he had withstayed his hand a little
earlier. Now to say all you have to say in the

fewest number of words, demands much pre-
liminary thought and knowledge. A wise bishop
once apologised for writing a long letter on the
grounds that he had not time to write a short one;
and the etcher who has to set down with apparent
rapidity the subject he has chosen, must know it
with an almost superhuman knowledge. A chance
vibration of his wrist will destroy miles of land-
scape, or completely alter the character of a figure.
He must have irresistible facility of technique, the
absolute certainty of touch which ignores any
possible line but the supremely right one; and
having seen it in his mind's eye, sets it down with
irresistible conviction once and for ever.

To say so much is merely to repeat the obvious
truisms which every real lover of etching has dis-
covered for himself long since ; but unfortunately,
while fallacies mimic a thousand shapes of truth,
the genuine fact is not capable of many varied pre-
sentations. When etching for a while enjoyed an
inflated popularity, and any feeble print was prized,


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