Studio: international art — 30.1904

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1 cm
James McNeill Whistler

not present upon a canvas which is ever so lightly
covered with paint—soft, fluent, baffling.

Whistler's genius was inventive. Nothing was
prepared for him. He discovered a new world, and
no painter has contributed more to the sum total
of those things which our eyes have learned to
appreciate. He made his discoveries in virtue of
the. most acute and close communion with the
appearances of nature—nothing came between,
no shortcomings of hand held him back, no side
issues of sentiment distracted him. He saw with
the exclusive application of one who was little
tempted to go upon memory, or ever to concern
his hand with what his eyes did not see, and this
single devotion was rewarded, wherever he looked,
by visions of an exquisite refinement, a rare
harmony and finality.

Lithography is a difficult art to
handle; no other is so merciless in exposing the
weak points of the artist using it—timidity, hesita-

tion, uncertainty of intention, weaknesses such as
these cannot be hidden, however much the draughts-
man may elaborate or stipple up his work, whether
it be direct on the stone or on transfer paper—but
no art is more responsive to the definite mind and
the firm hand, and lithography responded perfectly
to its master in Whistler. From the extremest
point of delicacy to the richest depths, he found
a ready reply to all that he asked of it. Yet
it must not be imagined that the results which
he put before us in the 150 or more prints made
during twenty years' work were all obtained at
the first time of asking, and with but little labour
to himself. In nearly every case the finished pic-
ture looks as if it were so; only in such a print as
the great lithotint The Thames is there evidence of
elaboration to attain a splendid result; yet several
of the finest of the others were the result of many
states and much working on the stone before the
final flower was produced, and he never spared
either himself or his printer until that was realised.

With but little instruction from my father as to
the limitations of the art, he seemed intuitively to
grasp its possibilities and the best manner of


(By permission of J. J. Cowan, Esq.)
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