The following fac-simile will afford an idea of the style in which the portraits of illustrious men contained in this often-cited chronicle are executed. The above head, which the owner appears to be scratching with so much earnestness, first occurs as that of Paris the lover of Helen; and it is afterwards repeated as that of Thales, Anastasius, Odofredus, and the poet Dante.
Several cuts representing what might be supposed to be particular events are in the same manner pressed into the general service of the chronicler. Wherefore, whenever I may use the term colour , I mean it in no other than its ordinary acceptation. We have the words high and deep , which strictly relate to objects of lineal altitude or profundity, applied to denote intensity of colour; and the very word intensity , when thus applied, is only relative; the speaker being unable to find a word directly expressive of his meaning, explains himself by referring to some object or thing previously known, as, in this instance, by reference to the tension of a string or cord.
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The word tone , which is so frequently used in speaking of pictures, is derived from the sister art of music. It is well known to every person who has paid any attention to the construction of languages, that almost every abstract term is referable to, and derived from, the name of some material object.
It is also to be observed, that Mr. Landseer speaks as if the term colour was used by ignorant printsellers, and of course ignorant engravers, to signify shade only. It is, however, used by them to signify that there is a considerable proportion of dark lines and hatchings in an engraving, although such lines and hatchings are not expressive of shade, but merely indicative of deep colours. What Mr. When Mr.
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In the second paragraph Mr. Landseer displays great inconsistency in praising Mr. Is there such a thing as a tint in nature which is of no colour? The preceding cut, representing the Creation of Eve, is copied from one of the best in the Nuremberg Chronicle, both with respect to design and engraving.
This manner of representing the creation of Eve appears to have been general amongst the wood engravers of the fifteenth century, for the same subject frequently occurs in old cuts executed previous to In a picture by Raffaele the creation of Eve is also represented in the same manner. In the wood-cuts which occur in Italian books printed previous to the engravers have seldom attempted anything beyond a simple outline with occasionally an indication of shade, or of colour, by means of short parallel lines.
It may serve at once as a specimen of the other cuts contained in the work and of the general style of engraving on wood in Italy for about ten years preceding that period. The subject illustrated is the difficult labour of Alcmena through the malign influence of Lucina, as related by Ovid in the IX th book of the Metamorphoses, from verse to The ground-work is Italian, on which the author engrafts at will whole phrases of Latin, with a number of words borrowed from the Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chaldee. The name of the author was Francis Colonna, who was born at Venice, and at an early age became a monk of the order of St.
At the time of his death, which happened in , he could not thus be less than ninety-four years old. With respect to the true name of the mistress of father Francis, biographers are not agreed.
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One says that her name was Lucretia Maura; and another that her name was Ippolita, and that she belonged to the noble family of Poli, of Trevisa, and that she was a nun in that city. Legrand, an architect of some repute in Paris, printed a kind of paraphrase of the work, in two volumes 12mo, which, however, was not published until after his death in In Bodoni reprinted the original work at Parma in an elegant quarto volume.
In the original work the wood-cuts with respect to design may rank among the best that have appeared in Italy. The whole number in the volume is one hundred and ninety-two; of which eighty-six relate to mythology and ancient history; fifty-four represent processions and emblematic figures: there are thirty-six architectural and ornamental subjects; and sixteen vases and statues. Several writers have asserted that those cuts were designed by Raffaele, IV. As Raffaele, who was born in , was only sixteen when the Hypnerotomachia was printed, it is not likely that all, or even any of those cuts were designed by him; as it is highly probable that all the drawings would be finished at least twelve months before, and many of them contain internal evidence of their not being the productions of a youth of fifteen.
That Andrea Mantegna might design them is possible; but this certainly cannot be a sufficient reason for positively asserting that he actually did. Ottley, at page , vol. The grounds on which Mr. Ottley forms his opinion are not very clear, but if I understand him correctly they are as follows:. In the collection of the late Mr.
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Ottley are the initials of the engraver, Ioanne Andrea di Vavassori. Between some of the cuts from the Ovid, and certain engravings executed by Montagna, it seems that Mr. Ottley discovered a resemblance; and as he thought that he perceived a perfect similarity between the sixteen cuts from the Ovid and those contained in the Hypnerotomachia, he considers that Benedetto Montagna is thus proved to have been the designer of the cuts in the latter work.
Douce had noticed the similarity as well as Mr. Ottley: but even admitting that there is a perfect identity of style in the cuts of the above two works, yet it by no means follows that, because a few of the cuts in the Ovid resemble some copper-plate engravings executed by Benedetto Montagna, he must have designed the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia. As the cuts in the Ovid may, as Mr. If Benedetto Montagna be really the designer of the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia, he has certainly excelled himself, for they certainly display talent of a much higher order than is to be perceived in his copper-plate engravings.
Besides the striking difference with respect to drawing between the wood-cuts in Poliphilo IV. A London bookseller in his catalogue published in , probably speaking on Mr.
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It is but fair to add, that the cuts used in the Ovid of , printed by the brothers De Lignano, cannot be the same as those in the Ovid of referred to by Mr. The five following cuts are fac-similes traced line for line from the originals in Poliphilo. In the first, Mercury is seen interfering to save Cupid from the anger of Venus, who has been punishing him and plucking the feathers from his wings. The cause of her anger is explained by the figure of Mars behind the net in which he and Venus had been inclosed by Vulcan. In the next cut Cupid appears piercing the sky with a dart, and thus causing a shower of gold to fall.
The figures represent persons of all conditions whom he has wounded, looking on with amazement.
The three preceding cuts, in the original work, appear as compartments from left to right on one block. They are here given separate for the convenience of printing, as the page is not wide enough to allow of their being placed as in the original folio. The subjoined cut is intended to represent Autumn, according to a description of the figure in the text, where the author is speaking of an altar to be erected to the four seasons.
The following is a specimen of one of the ornamental vases contained in the work. It is not, like the five preceding cuts, of the same size as the original, but is copied on a reduced scale. The simple style in which the cuts in the Hypnerotomachia are engraved, continued to prevail, with certain modifications, in Italy for many years after the method of cross-hatching became general in Germany; and from to about the characteristic of most Italian wood-cuts is the simple manner in which they are executed compared with the more laboured productions of the German wood engravers.
In the execution of flowered or ornamented initial letters a decided difference may frequently be noticed between the work of an Italian and a German artist. The German mostly, with considerable trouble, cuts his flourishes, figures, and flowers in relief, according to the general practice of wood engravers; the Italian, on the contrary, often cuts them, with much greater ease, in intaglio ; and thus the form of the letter, and its ornaments, appear, when printed, white upon a black ground.
At a subsequent period a more elaborate manner of engraving began to prevail in Italy, and cross-hatching was almost as generally employed to obtain depth of colour and shade as in Germany. The wood-cuts which appear in works printed at Venice between and are generally as good as most German wood-cuts of the same period; and many of them, more especially those in books printed by the Giolitos, are executed with a clearness and delicacy which have seldom been surpassed.
Before concluding the present chapter, which is more especially devoted to the consideration of wood engraving in the first period of its connexion with typography, it may not be improper to take a brief glance at the state of the art as practised by the Briefmalers and Formschneiders of Germany, who were the first to introduce the practice of block-printing, and who continued to exercise this branch of their art for many years after typography had been generally established throughout Europe.
That the ancient wood engravers continued to practise the art of block-printing till towards the close of the fifteenth century, there can be little doubt. Another edition of the same work, though not from the same blocks, appeared in It is probable that most of the single sheets and short tracts, printed from wood-blocks, preserved in the libraries of Germany, were printed between and Books consisting of two or more sheets printed from wood-blocks are of rare occurrence with a date subsequent to Several copies of such Almanacks, engraved between and , are preserved in libraries on the Continent that are rich in specimens of early block-printing.
But even this branch of their business the wood engravers were at length obliged to abandon; and at the end of the fifteenth century the practice of printing pages of text from engraved wood-blocks may be considered as almost extinct in Germany.
It probably began with a single sheet, and with a single sheet it ended; and its origin, perfection, decline, and extinction are comprised within a century. In an assemblage of wood engravings printed at Gotha between and , IV. It is not unlikely that two or three of those in his oldest class, A, may have been executed previous to that period; but there are others in which bad drawing and rude engraving have been mistaken for indubitable proofs of antiquity. There are also two or three in the same class which I strongly suspect to be modern forgeries.
It would appear from a circumstance mentioned in Dr. The following is a reduced copy of one of those suspicious blocks, but which the editor considers to be of an earlier date than the St. Christopher in the collection of Earl Spencer. The cut alluded to represents a woman sitting beside a young man, whose purse she is seen picking while she appears to fondle him. The subjects of those two cuts, though not apparently, are, in reality, connected. In the first we are presented with the warning, and in the latter with the example. Von Murr—whom Dr. Dibdin suspects to have forged the French St.
Christopher—describes in his Journal impressions from those blocks as old wood-cuts in the collection of Dr. Silberrad; IV. In the same work there is a rude wood-cut of St. Catharine and three other saints; and at the back of the block there is also engraved the figure of a soldier. At the bottom of the cut of St. John Schnitzer, however, is not the first wood engraver known by name. There are also not a few modern antiques which are only illustrative of the credulity of the collector, who mistakes rudeness of execution for a certain test of antiquity.
According to this test the following cut ought to be ascribed to the age of Caxton, and published with a long commentary as an undoubted specimen of early English wood engraving. It was one of the numerous cuts of a similar kind belonging to the late Mr.
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George Angus of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who used them as head-pieces to chap-books and broadside histories and ballads. Besides the smaller block-books, almanacks, and broadsides of text, executed by wood engravers between and , they also executed a number of single cuts, some accompanied with a few sentences of text also cut in wood, and others containing only figures.
In almost every one of the works executed by the Briefmalers and Formschneiders subsequent to the invention of typography, there is scarcely a single cut to be found that possesses the least merit either in design or execution.
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