Anecdotes of Painting in England: With Some Account of the Principal Artists - Vol. 3

By Horace Walpole | Go to book overview

A
CATALOGUE OF ENGRAVERS.

"AND ART REFLECTED IMAGES TO ART."—POPE.

WHEN the monarchs of Egypt erected those stupendous masses, the pyramids, for no other use but to record their names, they little suspected that a weed growing by the Nile would one day be converted into more durable registers of fame than quarries of marble and granite. Yet when paper had been invented, what ages rolled away before it was destined to its best service! It is equally amusing to observe what obvious arts escape our touch, and how quickly various channels are deduced from a source when once opened. This was the case of the press. Printing was not discovered till about the year 1430 : in thirty years more it was applied to the multiplication of drawings. Authors had scarce seen that facility of dispersing their works, before painters received an almost equal advantage. 1 To each was endless fame in a manner ensured, if they had merit to challenge it. With regard to prints, the new discovery associated the professors in some degree with the great masters, whose works they copied. This intimate connection between painters and engravers makes some account of the latter a kind of necessary supplement to the history of the former. But if this country has not produced many men of genius in the nobler branch, it has been still more deficient in excellent engravers. Mr. Vertue had been

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1
Want of colouring is the capital deficiency of prints ; yet even this seems attainable. Monsieur le Blon, who will be mentioned hereafter, invented coloured prints, and did enough to show the feasibility. His discovery was neglected, as the revival of encaustic painting has been lately; though the advantages of each art are so obvious and so desirable.

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