giraffe, whilst her sister beauty is sensibly inconvenienced by a lock of hair which has strayed into her eye,-a favourite device, by the way, of the artist. This book, now scarce in the illustration of which he was assisted by Alfred Crowquill), is adorned with a portrait on steel, after a painting by Childe, in which the author is presented to us in a white waistcoat and dress coat, with a pen in his hand, leading us to the inference that his clumsily constructed novels (one of which—“Valentine Vox,” thanks perhaps to the illustrator, Onwhyn-still holds its ground) were written in evening costume.

But notwithstanding these failures, Kenny Meadows has happily left behind him work of a very much better kind. His Christmas pictures in particular are impressed with the kindly, genial humour which characterized the man ; the “ Illuminated Magazine,” a scarce and valuable work, contains sixty-three very fine specimens of his pencillings, including the illustrations to his friend Douglas Jerrold's “Chronicles of Clovernook," admirable in every respect, probably the finest designs he ever executed. The wood engravings in this charming serial have probably never been surpassed; we seldom see woodcuts in these days which equal the splendid workmanship of E. Landells. * After the third volume, the “ Illuminated Magazine " passed into other hands, and although Kenny Meadows continued its mainstay for a time, the rest of the excellent artists left, and the literary matter visibly declined.

To the famous “Gallery of Comicalities ” Kenny Meadows contributed Sketches from Lavater and Phisogs of the Traders of London. During the last decade of his life his services in the cause of illustrative art were rewarded and recognised by a pension from the Civil List of £80 per annum. Like George

* So great was the scarcity of good engravers in 1880, that in September of that year the proprietors of the Graphic newspaper acknowledged the difficulty they experienced in obtaining the assistance of high-class engravers, and stated their intention to sound'a school of engraving on wood. Specimens of a new style of illustration have lately come from America, which appear in illustrated serials : some are good, but the majority, not withstanding the song of praise with which they were first received, are nothing less than abominable.

[blocks in formation]

Cruikshank he remained hale and vigorous to the last, proud of his age, and fond of asserting there was “life in the old dog yet." That this was no idle boast may be inferred from the fact that within a few months of his death he was engaged in painting a subject from his favourite Shakespeare. At the time of his death in August, 1874) he had almost completed his eighty-fifth year.

In hunting up materials for the present work, we have come a: various times upon editions (specimens, perhaps, might be the better word) of the “ Pickwick Papers,” which will possess an interest in the eyes of the collector. The first issue, in the original green sporting covers designed by Seymour, is of course exceedingly scarce ; we have never indeed seen a perfect copy, which would probably be worth some ten pounds, while the same edition bound may be purchased at prices varying from twenty-four shillings to three guineas, according to the condition of the volume. An Australian edition was published at Launceston, Van Dieman's Land, in 1838, with plates after “ Phiz” by “ Tiz,” facsimiles on stone of the earliest issue of the parts in England. At a West of England bookseller's we met with a first edition bound up with etchings by Onwhyn,* “Peter Palette," and others. Then there are the twenty-four etchings from remarkably clever original drawings by Mr. F. W. Pailthorpe in illustration of scenes in “ Pickwick," of which the proofs before letters were published at three guineas ; and lastly, there is the rare first edition, containing all the plates by Seymour and “Phiz,” supplemented by the twu “suppressed" etchings, which are credited (wrongly) to the hand of Buss.

Among the etchers of book illustration after 1836, we may name

• Onwhyn's name occurs frequently in illustrative literature. He etched a set of designs for “Pickwick” and “Nicholas Nickleby;" for Mr. Henry Cockton's "George St. Julian," and a translation of Eugene Sue's “Mysteries of Paris." He is well known as the illustrator of “Valentine Vox," " Fanny the Little Milliner," and other works. Some of his best designs will be found in Mrs. Trollope's “ Michael Armstrong." He occasionally displays some ability, but his performances are very unequal.

ROBERT WILLIAM Buss, wllose etchings will be found in Mrs. Trollope's “ Widow Married” (a sequel to her “ Widow Barnaby"), which made its appearance in the “New Monthly Magazine " of 1839, and whose hand will also be found in Marryat's “ Peter Simple," “ Jacob Faithful,” Harrison Ainsworth's “ Court of King James II.," etc.. Although his designs lack the genius, the artistic power, the finish and the comic invention of Leech or Cruikshank, they show nevertheless that as an etcher and designer he was possessed of exceptional talent and ability. The first experience, however, of this able artist as an etcher was peculiarly unfortunate and vexatious.

When poor Seymour shot himself in 1836, the draughtsman first called in to supply his place was Robert William Buss. He had been recommended to Messrs. Chapman and Hall by John Jackson, the wood-engraver, but does not seem at that time to have had any practical experience of etching, as he himself explained to the member of the firm who called upon him. Mr. Buss, in fact, was decidedly indisposed to undertake the work, being then engaged on a picture he was preparing for exhibition, and he undertook it only after considerable pressure. He immediately began to practise the various operations of etching and biting in, and produced a plate with which the publishers expressed themselves satisfied. Two subjects were then selected for illustration, The Cricket Match, and The Fat Boy Watching Mr. Tupman and Miss Wardle. When, however, Mr. Buss began to etch them on the plate, he found, having had little or no experience in laying his ground, that it holed up under the etching point; and as time was precious, he placed the plates in the hands of an experienced engraver to be etched and bitten in. Had opportunity been given him, his son (from whom we take this account) tells us he would have cancelled these plates and issued fresh ones of his own etching. Designs were prepared by him for the following number, when he received an intimation that the work of illustrating the “Pickwick Papers" had been placed in other hands. The illustrations referred to were suppressed, and the collectors who are so anxious to secure an edition with the two “ Buss plates," will be pleased to learn that,

[blocks in formation]

although the design was his, not one line of the etchings which bear his name are due to the artist's point.*

The father of Robert William was an engraver and enameller, and under his directions he acquired a knowledge of this technical branch of art; but evincing a taste and preference for drawing and painting, he became a pupil of George Clint, A.R.A., under whose direction he studied subject and portrait painting. He painted fifteen theatrical portraits for Mr. Cuinberland in illustration of his “British Drama," and a collection of these works was afterwards exhibited at that melancholy monument to past exhibitions, the Colosseum in the Regent's Park. He was employed by Charles Knight in the illustrations to his “Shakespeare," “ London,” “Old England,” “ Chaucer,” and the now forgotten “Penny Magazine," for all of which publications he executed many designs on wood.

It must not be supposed because Robert William Buss was not considered the right man to illustrate “ Pickwick,” that he was therefore an indifferent draughtsman. His finest book etchings are probably those which he executed for Harrison Ainsworth's novel of "The Court of James II.”; but in a higher and far more ambitious walk in art he was not only more successful, but achieved in his time a considerable reputation. Among his pictures may be mentioned one of Christmas in the Olden Time, which, apart from its merits as a painting, showed that he possessed considerable antiquarian knowledge. Other works of his are, The Frosty Morning, purchased by Lord Charles Townshend; The Stingy Traveller, bought by the Duchess of St. Albans; The Wooden Walls of Old England, the property of Lord Coventry; Soliciting a Vote, and Chairing the Member; The Musical Bore; The Frosty Reception ; Master's Out; Time and Tide Wait for no Man ; Shirking the Plate The First of September; The Introduction of Tobacco; The Biter Bit; The Romance ; and Satisfaction. For Mr. Hogarth, of the Haymarket, he painted four small subjects illustrative of Christmas, entitled, The Waits ; Bringing in the Boar's Head; The Yule Log,

• See Mr. Alfred G. Buss, in "Notes and Queries,” April 24th, 1875.

and The Wassail Bowl; all afterwards engraved. For Mr. James Haywood, M.P., he executed a series of drawings illustrative of student life at Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, London, and Paris ; while two vast subjects, The Origin of Music and The Triumph of Music (each twenty feet wide by nine feet high), were painted for the Earl of Hardwick, and are, or lately were, in the music saloon at Wimpole, in Cambridgeshire. His pictures were seventy-one in number, twenty-five of which were engraved. On the whole, therefore, Robert William Buss might afford to bear the refusal of Charles Dickens's patronage with equanimity.

The paintings and etchings of Robert William Buss evince a strong leaning in the direction of comic art, a taste which prompted him, in 1853, to deliver at various towns in the United Kingdom a course of very successful and interesting lectures on caricature and graphic satire, illustrated by several hundred examples executed by himself. In 1874, the year before his death, he published for the amusement of his friends, and for private circulation only, the substance of these lectures, under the title of “ English Graphic Satire and its Relation to Different Styles of Painting, Sculpture, and Engraving." The numerous illustrations to this work were those drawn for his lectures by the artist, and reproduced for his book by the process of photo-lithography. So far as comic art and caricaturists of the nineteenth century are concerned, the author has comparatively little to say ; but the work is valuable as regards the subject generally, and might have been published with advantage to the public. The artist delivered also lectures on "The Beautiful and the Picturesque,” as well as on “Fresco Painting."

Mr. Buss, if not very original as a comic designer, possessed nevertheless a keen sense of humour. One of his pictures (engraved by H. Rolls), entitled Time and Tide Wait for no Man, represents an artist, sketching by the sea-shore, so absorbed in the contemplation of nature that he remains unconscious of the fast inflowing tide, and deaf to the warnings of the fisherman who is seen hailing him from the beach.

« 前へ次へ »