Studio: international art — 90.1925

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THE draughtsman who finds himself
in temporary alliance with the printer,
often misconceives his share of their joint
venture. He thinks of himself as an
illustrator rather than as a decorator. The
rough wood-blocks which adorned early
printed books were eminently suited to
their purpose, and even the over-elaborated
44 illustrations of the 'sixties " preserved,
in great measure, the charm and value of
the earlier work. The coming of the
half-tone photographic process, which
enabled publishers to reproduce cheaply
wash-drawings of minute, realistic de-
tail, resulted in the multiplication of
most unsightly books. It is only with
recent years that the draughtsman has
returned to some just appreciation of the
deference which he owes to text and to
type. 000000
The work which Miss Norah McGuin-
ness has done for books is in the right
tradition. In spirit her drawings seek to
echo or to chime with the mood of the
writer, never to translate or to expand
his thought. In technique they are de-
signed to enhance the beauty of the
printed page. She knows well how abomi-
nable a parallelogram of shadowy greys
can be when embedded in a sheet of good
type. When she does make use of
44 wash " it is to produce a full-page
colour drawing, to make a frank diversion,
a definite decorative interlude. 0 0
Miss McGuinness is very young, and
her talents, therefore, have not yet met
their due meed of recognition. It is only
four years since she first entered the
Dublin Metropolitan School of Art, win-
ning, at her entrance, a scholarship
tenable for three years. Since then she
has gained a medal for her drawings at
the Tailteann Competition of 1923, and
another medal from the Royal Dublin
Society, Last year she adventured from
Dublin into Chelsea for a final period of
study ; and on emerging from her pupilage
succeeded immediately in placing a num-
ber of her black-and-white drawings in
the best class periodicals. The three here
reproduced speak eloquently for them-
selves. She has just finished a brilliant

series of designs destined for an edition
de luxe of Sterne's Sentimental Journey. 0

The decoration of books does not
exhaust her capabilities. She has shown
a remarkable gift for devising costumes ;
and can invent, with a keen eye for cost
and practicability, bizarre and sumptuous
stage garments. She has also designed
stage masks. In this department she has
been fortunate in gaining the recognition
and patronage of no less a personage than
Senator W. B. Yeats, whose taste is
notoriously exacting. For his masque,
The Jealousy of Emir, she has done the
mask of Cuchulinn, the death-mask of
the same hero, and the mask of the Wonma
of the Shi, 0000

The arts of book decoration and stage
decoration at present attract an enormous
number of practitioners. Yet the average
expensive book and the average stage
setting display a lamentably low aesthetic
standard. Things, however, are undoubt-
edly improving, steadily if slowly, in
both directions, during recent years ;
the advent of a few more young artists
with energy and gifts like those of Miss
McGuinness, should make this improve-
ment swift and drastic. 00a

Thomas Bodkin.

"geraldine." illustration
for coleriege's " christa-

bel." pen drawing i by
norah mcguinne°ss
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