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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 9 - Volume 11.djvu/67

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9* 8. XL JAN. 17, 1908.]



A widely disseminated interest is accordingly expe- rienced in the engravings, which form a precious portion of that exquisitely tender and delicate eighteenth - century art, to the suggestion and execution of which no educated mind can be in- sensible. The appeal of work of this class is the stronger, since engraving seems now in the way of becoming a lost art. Lady Dilke shows, however, what grave difficulties beset the reduction by the most competent hands and by the costliest process of existing engravings, and points out how apt the texture of the execution is to be confused by reduction until " what should be a luminous ex- pression of form becomes a meaningless pond of ink."

Pursuing the plan previously adopted, Lady Dilke has not attempted to treat chronologically or in sections according to subjects the draughtsmen and engravers of the eighteenth century, such a course being likely to assign the volume the character of a text- book, and detract from its readableness as much as it might contribute to its utility. She has accordingly in each division selected the man who impressed her as a typical personality, and has dis- posed around him others serviceable for purposes of support or contrast. For her first chapter, accord- ingly, which deals with ' The Great Amateurs,' she chooses the Comte de Caylus, whose full history has not, so far as we are aware, been written, and who, himself a considerable artist and an indefatigable explorer and worker, exercised a great influence over art, and especially over engraving. It was the fashion in the eighteenth century to engrave. Madame de Pompadour was a pupil of Cochin. Among those who used the needle or the graver Lady Dilke mentions Philippe Egalite" himself, dukes, princes, and marquises without number, the Marquis d'Argenson, Bachaumont of the ' M^moires,' Carlin the actor, and Vivant Denon, best known for his story ' Point de Lendemain,' also distinguished as an engraver, who had the fortune or the tact to enjoy the patronage of Madame de Pompadour, Louis XV., Robespierre, and Napoleon. Of Caylus a deeply interesting account is given, and two designs from his brilliant renderings of Bouchardon's ' Cris de Paris' are supplied. His taste was not unerring, and the text of his ' Recueil des Antiquites' is full of errors; but our debt to him remains, according to the latest authority, " immense." An interesting account of the ingra- titude of Marmontel towards Caylus and of the coolness between the latter and Diderot and the Encyclopaedists generally is furnished. From Watelet, " an etcher superior to any of his day," but a man of mediocre intelligence, Caylus was also estranged A beautiful etching by Watelet after Cochin le tils of Marguerite Le Comte is among the illustrations. Pierre Joseph Mariette and Pierre Francois Basan, the former the most dis- tinguished member of a family conspicuous through many generations, both of them associated with Caylus and Bouchardon, are the subjects of the second chapter The collection of Mariette realized on its sale in 1775 a sum prodigious in those days. His father, also an artist, designed the remarkable frontispiece to the 'Dictionnaire de 1' Academic Frangaise.' Basan is best known as a dealer, but Lady Dilke credits him with a technique as an engraver clear and effective in its way, " if not too scrupulously honest."

In the following chapter (iii.) we reach the Chevalier Cochin, whose place as draughtsman and

engraver is in the very first rank. His vignettes and culs-de-lampe are among the most cherished possessions of ths collector. Among the illustra- tions from this artist now selected are ' L'Ouvriere en Dentelle ' and a billet for a bal pard at Versailles on the occasion of the marriage of the Dauphin, 24 February, 1745. For special praise Lady Dilke selects the well-known illustrations to the ' Lutrin.' Cochin was great, she says, " in handling scenes of his own time with the superb courtliness he loved," but he was destitute of imagination and had no grasp of classic story and mythology. Adrienne Le- couvreur as Cornelia, by Pierre Imbert Drevet, after Coypel, re wards close attention, as does the frontis- piece to the 'Fables de La Fontaine,' 1755-9, by Dupuis, after Oudry and Cochin. We have under- stood that this design was finished by Dupuis after Oudry's death in 1755 of apoplexy, and engraved by Cochin. ' Les Remois,' engraved by Larmessin, after Lancret, for the 'Contes de La Fontaine,' differs widely and advantageously from the designs in the contrefaqons of 1764 and 1777, and belongs to the class of illustrations galantes with which the book is not specially occupied. The famous ' Femme a la Tulipe of Jean George Wille, after Wille Jils, is well reproduced. Following illustrations to chap. vi. include Laurent Cars's rendering of ' Le Malade Imaginaire,' after Boucher, for the Moliere of 1734 ; the ' Madame Dubarry en Habit de Chasse ' of Beauvarlet ; the ' Marchande de Beignets ' of J. P. Le Bas ; two designs from the ' Manon Lescaut ' of 1753 ; and a delightful ' Saint-Preux mocque par les Femmes,' after Moreau lejeune, in ' La Nouvelle Heloi'se.' After these come cuts-de-lampe after J. de Seve, Choffard, and others, including the delicious head of Marie Leczinska, after Choffard and Nattier, from the 'Nouvel Abrege" Chronologique ' of the President Renault, 1767. 'Les Graces Vengees,' from ' Les Graces ' of Meunier de Querlon, 1769, by Simonet, after Moreau, is charming in design and execution. Other designs by Moreau are from his magnificent ' Monument du Costume.' Marillier is first [represented by a lovely en-tete from Dorat's ' Fables ' ; Gravelot by a design of Viola and Olivia, after Hayman, in the Shakespeare, Oxford, 1744; and Eisen by 'Les Vendanges' and by ' Les Trois Commeres,' from the fermiers-ge'neraux edition of La Fontaine. The account of the end of Saint- Aubin, from whom many illustrations are given, and that of Moreau le jeune constitute one of the niost interesting, albeit one of the saddest chapters in the book.

It is, indeed, curious to read in Lady Dilke's brilliant pages how few of the great draughtsmen and engravers of whom she treats survived the depressing influences of the Revolution. After giving a few specimens of the engravers in colour, Lady Dilke supplies from a gouache in the col- lection of M. Bourdeley a charming 'Marchande de Modes' of Nicolas Lavreince, a Swedish artist better known as Lafrensen. Lepici6's engraving of Chardin's ' La Petite Fille au Volant ' arrests immediately attention. As appendices are given a list of works by Caylus, ' Notes sur la Famille de M. Mariette,' and other useful and helpful matter. Best of all is a good index.

We have given a mere glimpse into Lady Dilke's volume, the interest and value of which are inex- haustible. Once again the cabinets of the great collectors have been opened to the author, and full assistance has been rendered by the staff of the Cabinet des Beaux- Arts and that of the Gazette des