A History of French Etching from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day

A History of French Etching from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day

A History of French Etching from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day

A History of French Etching from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day

Excerpt

Mr. Joseph Pennell, a prominent master of the graphic arts and a most stimulating writer on this special subject, states in his book on "Etchers and Etching": "Since the world began there have only been two supreme etchers--Rembrandt and Whistler. I shall have to drag in several lesser etchers."

If Mr. Pennell feels moved to apologise for "dragging in" four or five lesser lights of his art, am I not bound to explain my audacity in discussing some dozens of etchers without even mentioning Rembrandt or Whistler? I fear, indeed, that Mr. Pennell may think me worse than daring. Has he not said: "This sort of writing is not only harmful; it is disgraceful, as it is founded either on ignorance or a wish to pad out a volume"? Especially bad is it when the writer is not an artist, but a "mere hanger-on of art"--in other words, that ugly parasite on the fair body of art known as a critic.

No purpose, interesting or useful, could be served by reopening the ancient controversy between artist and critic. Artists will go on producing just as they will go on loving critics who find their work of value; and critics will continue to express their opinions and to find themselves despised by artists whose work they do not appreciate. And there always will be artists who will make demigods of their dead and conveniently buried predecessors; and others who, following their own inspiration, give of their best and leave the public to judge their work on its merits.

I say deliberately "to the public." No critic of an artist is less qualified than a fellow-artist. Otherwise there would be no revolt against the Academy; or any "Salon des Indépendants." Mr. Pennell's . . .

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