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[From "Contes Drolatiques.' "TIE LANDLORD OF THE THREE BARBELS."
(From "Contes Drolaliques." MONSEIGNEUR IUGON,
(Back to 19
CARICATURE IS NOT FINE ART.
OBSERVATIONS ON CARICATURE.
insignificance ; and yet side by side with George Cruikshank, as a purely comic artist or caricaturist, Doré is beneath mediocrity.
Artists and art critics not unnaturally regard caricature with some Mr. HAVERTON'S disfavour. “ Art,” says Hamerton, “with a great social or political purpose, is seldom pure fine art ; artistic aims are usually lost sight of in the anxiety to hit the social or political mark, and though the caricaturist may have great natural facility for art, it has not a fair chance of cultivation.” Writing of Cruikshank's “etchings” (and I presume he refers to those which are marked with comic or satirical characteristics), he says: “They are full of keen satire and happy invention, and their moral purpose is always good; but all these qualities are compatible with a carelessness of art which is not to be tolerated in any one but a professional caricaturist.” * Now all this is true, and moreover it is fairly and generously stated; on the other hand, Mr. Hamerton will probably admit that no artist is likely to succeed in graphic satire, unless he be a man of marked artistic power and invention.
While treating incidentally of the etchings of artists who have distinguished themselves as graphic satirists or designers, with Etching itself as an art this work has no concern. For those who would be initiated into the mysteries of etching and dry point, negative and positive processes, soft grounds, mordants, or the like, the late Thomas Hood has left behind him a whimsical sketch of the process, which, imperfect as it is, will not only suffice for our purpose, but has the merit probably of being but little known :
“ Prepared by a hand that is skilful and nice,
At the will of the gentle designer,
As if done by a penny-a-liner.
Certain objects however may come in your sketch,
With a luckless result may be branded;
• "Etching and Etchers,” by Philip Gilbert Hamerton, third edition, p. 246.
Wherefore add this particular rule to your code,
And man, woman, and child be left-handed.
Yet regard not the awkward appearance with doubt,
That at first seemed no better than curses :
And console you for all your reverses.
But the acid has duly been lower'd and bites
Like a nature inclined to meet troubles ;
In an elegant bead-work of bubbles.
But before with the varnishing brush you procee:I,
From the other less innocent liquor ;
Like the black one which hangs on the vicar.
Then the varnish well dried-urge the biting again,
Time and practice alone can determine :
Are as black as the spots on your ermine.
It is true, none the less, that a dark looking scrap,
Is considered as rather Rembrandty;
Are the pets of some great dilettante.
But before your own picture arrives at that pitch,
More transparent than ebony shutters,
As you please, into bottles or gutters.