Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/223

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
165
PUBLIC ADDRESS.

acknowledged; it only remains to be certified whether physiognomic strength and power are to give place to imbecility. In a work of art it is not fine tints that are required, but fine forms; fine tints without fine forms are always the subterfuge of the blockhead.

I account it a public duty respectfully to address myself to the Chalcographic Society, and to express to them my opinion (the result of the expert practice and experience of many years), that engraving as an art is lost to England, owing to an artfully propagated opinion that drawing spoils an engraver. I request the Society to inspect my print, of which drawing is the foundation, and indeed the superstructure: it is drawing on copper, as painting ought to be drawing on canvas or any other surface, and nothing else. I request, likewise, that the Society will compare the prints of Bartolozzi, Woollett, Strange, &c., with the old English portraits; that is, compare the modern art with the art as it existed previous to the entrance of Vandyck and Rubens into the country, since which event engraving is lost; and I am sure the result of the comparison will be that the Society must be of my opinion, that engraving, by losing drawing, has lost all character and all expression, without which the art is lost.

There is not, because there cannot be, any difference of effect in the pictures of Rubens and Rembrandt: when you have seen one of their pictures, you have seen all. It is not so with Raphael, Giulio Romano, Albert Dürer, Michael Angelo; every picture of theirs has a different and appropriate effect. What man of sense will lay out his money upon the life's labours of imbecility and imbecility's journeymen, or think to educate a fool how to build a universe with farthing balls. The contemptible idiots who have been called great men of late years ought to rouse the public indignation of men of sense in all professions. Yet I do not shrink from the comparison in either relief or strength of colour with either Rembrandt or Rubens; on the contrary, I