Studio: international art — 6.1896

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Mr. Murds Charcoal Drawings

It could hardly be maintained that
charcoal had ever been a favourite medium with
English artists. That is to say, they have looked
upon it for the most part merely as a drudge to be
employed for various preliminary mechanical pur-
poses, rather than as a medium for finished work,
which for strength and delicacy combined offers a
whole gamut of tones of a peculiarly beautiful
monochrome. Its near relative, the conte crayon,
enjoyed a widespread and unsatisfactory popu-

charcoal was too sordid to be deemed an " art
word," and suggested its utilitarian purposes too
directly to endear itself to the amateur of the fifties.
But this hypothesis is of doubtful worth, since silver-
point, with a name suggesting airy romance, has
also pleaded with scant success to British artists.
Yet in these two mediums we have surely two
most notable methods for drawing in black and
white. The one rich and pliable, full of atmo-
sphere and emotion, the other delicately exact,
recording minutely exquisite nuances with stern
precision as irresistibly final as the bitten line of
the etcher, yet a rival to cobwebs and Eudidian
lines, in its almost non-existent breadth. As Sir


(By permission of J. S. Forbes, Esq.)

larity a generation since, together with wax flowers,
bead-mats, and other produce of the finishing
academy for young ladies. Even now in the bed-
rooms of old-fashioned houses crayon drawings of
houris and graces smile down from tarnished frames
on a bewildered visitor. The black spot of Vierge
owes even more to Nature than did the high lights
of white chalk, which relieved the murky shades of
the black crayon upon tinted papers of peculiarly
unpleasing colours.

Had we adopted the French term—-fusain—as
"paster' long ago replaced "coloured chalks,"
possibly the material had won more favour. For

Edward Burne-Jones employs silver-point for the
presentation of solidly worked drawings, that never-
theless look well-nigh as unsubstantial as breath
upon a mirror, so the men of the Romanticist
school, both French and Dutch, have used char-
coal to portray, in apparently loose sketchy fashion,
but with wonderful accuracy, the particular aspects
of landscape that appeal to their poetic sense.

For there can be no question that charcoal offers
ready to the hand of an expert a most facile
medium of expression suited peculiarly to landscape
and rustic figures. Although on the one hand it
may be painfully worked up to the hard dull sur-

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