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GUSTAVE Dore.)

[From "Contes Drolatiques.' "TIE LANDLORD OF THE THREE BARBELS."

(From "Contes Drolaliques." MONSEIGNEUR IUGON,

(Back to 19

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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,
The fine point glides along like a skate on the ice,

At the will of the gentle designer,
Who, impelling the needle, just presses so much,
That each line of her labour the copper may touch,

As if done by a penny-a-liner.

Certain objects however may come in your sketch,
Which, designed by a hand unaccustomed to etch,

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,
Let all vehicles take the wrong side of the road,

And man, woman, and child be left-handed.

Yet regard not the awkward appearance with doubt,
But remember how often mere blessings fall out,

That at first seemed no better than curses :
So, till things take a turn, live in hope, and depend
That whatever is wrong will come right in the end,

And console you for all your reverses.

But the acid has duly been lower'd and bites
Only just where the visible metal invites,

Like a nature inclined to meet troubles ;
And behold as each slender and glittering line
Effervesces, you trace the completed design

In an elegant bead-work of bubbles.

But before with the varnishing brush you procee:I,
Let the plate with cold water be thoroughly freed

From the other less innocent liquor ;
After which, on whatever you want to protect,
Put a coat that will act to that very effect,

Like the black one which hangs on the vicar.

Then the varnish well dried-urge the biting again,
But how long, at its meal, the eau forte may remain,

Time and practice alone can determine :
But of course not so long that the mountain, and mill,
The rude bridge, and the figures-whatever you will

Are as black as the spots on your ermine.

It is true, none the less, that a dark looking scrap,
With a sort of Blackheath and Black Forest, mayhap,

Is considered as rather Rembrandty;
And that very black cattle and very black sheep,
A black dog, and a shepherd as black as a sweep,

Are the pets of some great dilettante.

But before your own picture arrives at that pitch,
While the lights are still light, and the shadows, though rich,

More transparent than ebony shutters,
Never minding what Black-Arted critics may say,
Stop the biting, and pour the green blind away,

As you please, into bottles or gutters.

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