Studio: international art — 15.1899

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The Lay Figure

THE LAY FIGURE. " Nevertheless," said the Lay Figure, " they were
the first who brought the art of their day—good or

" I have been," said the Lay Figure, bad—into the homes of the people. And they

" to the Exhibition of Lithographs at knew things about lithography that the present

South Kensington Museum." generation are—wisely, perhaps—content to leave

" Yes ? " replied the New Man. " I alone altogether. There is more in it than facile

tried to get to it too, but the attractions of real wheels sketching with chalk—whether on transfer paper or

that go round, in that wonderful collection of models stone—and the virtue of " leaving out " amounts to

withheld me, and I had no time to penetrate as crime when it is too obviously a policy."

far as the lithographs. Is it a good exhibition ?" "Surely," interjected the Impressionist, "you do

"Quite remarkably so," said the Lay Figure ; not want us to stipple up our work to the deadly

" it is an epitome of the art of the present century evenness of Lane or Harding, or a platinotype

—with every fault, fad, and feature in strong photograph ?"

evidence." " My dear boy," explained the Man with a

"I enjoyed it immensely," said the Old Painter; Clay Pipe, kindly, "the Lay Figure was doubting

"all the early Victorian artists who drew so well if you could."

and thought so badly are represented in it." "There are many absurd things," replied the

" Yes, more's the pity," answered the Im- Impressionist with some heat, " that, happily, I do

pressionist; "but what is of much greater import- not desire to accomplish."

ance is the splendid show of Fantin-Latour. The " Please do not let us quarrel," said the New

revival of lithography in England owes more to Man. " One of the blessed curiosities of litho-

him than to any one else." graphy is that no two people are agreed about it;

" I don't agree with you," said the Lay Figure,; and a discussion between experts is always interest-

" Fantin-Latour's work is superb, but it has been ing, and even instructive—to themselves."

too little known hitherto to have influenced any " No, we are not going to quarrel," said the Lay

one. The Hogarth Club's portfolio was in closer Figure, " my point is of too general an application

connection with the modern developments. And for that. I am only regretting that in England the

then have we not Whistler, C. H. Shannon, and the practitioners of lithography are now so restricted in

rest of them ? " their technique. So many of them merely make

"But I understood," said the Journalist, "that chalk drawings. Only a few know, or at all events

lithography was a dead art." try, the possibilities of "scrape" on the stone.

"Is that the reason," remarked the Lay Figure, There is not a man alive who could turn out a

" why all the younger living artists are practising it ? " pure litho-tint in the style of Frederick Tayler ;

"People who write for the papers," meditated while Whistler's few experiments in colour were

the Man with a Clay Pipe, " are curiously bound pronounced so difficult by the printers that no one

by conventions. Now it will be as difficult, I has had the courage to go on with them."

suppose, to get the existence of several live schools "Why," said the New Man, " do you limit your

of lithography accepted, as for a good picture by condemnation to England ? "

an unknown artist to obtain three lines of a Royal "Because," replied the Lay Figure, "directly

Academy critique in the morning journals." you get out of it, you find that lithography is alive.

"I do not see," said the Old Painter, "why the The young artists of Paris, of Amsterdam, of

credit of lithography should rest entirely on the Munich, Karlsruhe, Dresden, are working at their

experiments of the present generation." technique. Colour, for them, is a useful tool full of

"Are you not rather taking it for granted," said glorious possibilities. It may be that they some-

the New Man, " that there is any credit due at all ? times fail, or that the result is a too self-conscious

Lithography has always seemed to me to be a oddity, but the effort is there. And when one

second-rate sort of affair." looks at the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, of Van

" Possibly your acquaintance with it has not Hoytema, of Burger—to mention three only—one

taken you beyond the work of second-rate men," can but regret that here in England colour in litho-

replied the Old Painter. " In England we have graphy is only known in connection with the

been rather flooded with the mere interpreters and Christmas Supplement or the Grocers' Almanac,

drawing-masters. What would British lithography Our commerce has killed the fine old chromos of the

amount to without J. D. Harding, Barnard, Lane, sixties, and our art is too unenterprising to supply

Haghe, and others of their school ? " us with a substitute." The Lay Figure.
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