« PreviousContinue »
beggars, and whofe perfons have been (till within the period of a year) an object of the perfecution, initead of the protection of our laws."
day by the obfcure, defpifed, and wretched people in England, whofe language has been confidered as a fabricated gibberish, and confounded with a cant in ufe amongst thieves and
EXTRACT from Mr. STRUTT's ESSAY on the ORIGIN and PROGRESS of the ART of ENGRAVING.
[From his Biographical Dictionary of Engravers. ]
AVING proved, in the preceding part of this Effay, the great antiquity of engraving, it remains now to confider the art in a far more extenfive point of view, and to examine, when it was profeffedly executed for the purpofe of producing fpecimens on paper; which happy invention increafed its reputation, and rendered it more generally ufeful. The confequence it now acquired with the public, occafioned its feparation from the fhop of the goldfmith, and worker in metals, with whom it feems to have remained for many ages, as a branch of their profef fion; and the engraver by himself was properly confidered as an artist of the first rank.
the rest 1466 and 1467; which ac count, refpecting the two latter dates, is confirmed by M. Heinneken, an excellent and able writer upon this fubject, whofe publica tions are frequently referred to in the courfe of this work. These, it feems, were the earliest German prints they could produce with dates; whereas the first dated en gravings in Italy, are faid to be the geographical charts for an edition of Ptolemy, published at Rome, A. D, 1478. The plates for the large edition of the Poems of Dante, invented by Boticelli, and engraved by him, or Baldini, did not appear till 1481. Hence we find the dif ference of twelve years between the date of the Italian engravings and thofe produced in Germany.
"It is indeed remarkable, that no print has hitherto been produced by the Italians, which can with the leaft degree of certainty be attri buted to Finiguerra. Neither has there been found in the foreign collections any engravings of a prior date to thofe mentioned above; but others rudely executed, and without date, are mentioned however as proofs of the exercise of the art as well in Italy as in Germany, be fore the publication of those prints which were dated. But it would be highly improper to place an impli
ESSAY ON THE ORIGIN, &c. of ENGRAVING.
"From the fimplicity of Andrea Mantegna's style, I wonder not, that he has been often confidered as
one of the moft early engravers: For I own, before I was convinced by experience of the contrary, I concluded, that his manner of engraving was, of all others, the most ancient. One of the carlieft fpeci mens of this kind of workmanship, which I have seen, is faithfully copied, plate V. of this volume. If the F. which appears upon the pedestal close to the hand of the feat ed figure, be granted to ftand for Finiguerra, the print must be confidered as a very valuable acquifition; for it would inconteftibly prove, that this fpecies of engrav ing, which was practifed in Italy only, was more ancient than any other adopted in that country, and in fome measure exculpate Vafari for attributing the invention to Fi niguerra, even if it fhould hereafter be proved that the Germans practifed the art of taking impreffions from engravings prior to the Italians. But this interpretation of the letter F. is not without fomne difficulty. It is exprefly faid by Vafari, that Baldini was instructed by Finiguerra, and Boticelli again by Baldini. Yet if we look at the plates executed by one or both the
laft artifts for the great edition of
"It is as confidently reported,
other artists of that time. After which period it died away, and we hear no more of it. And that this ftyle of workmanship was not the moft ancient, we need only refer to the oldest dated prints, and beyond them to the brais plates on tombs, and other fpecimens of the art, for centuries paft, and we fhall find the ftrokes promifcuoufly laid upon them, forming the fhadows, and croffed or rectoffed without the leaft
"According to what has been faid, it appears, that 1465 is the carliest date affixed to any print, produced by the Germans, except indeed one mentioned by Sandrart, in his Academy of Painting, which he fays he had feen, bearing date ten years earlier, and marked with a cypher, compofed of an H. and an S. joined to the crofs-bar of the H. precifely in the fame manner as that ufed by Hans Schauflein. But even the moft fanguine of his own countrymen cannot help allowing their fufpicion of a mistake in the date; and fome have faid, it should have been written 1477, which others think is ftill too early. It is readily allowed that an older mafter than Schauflein did exift, who used the fame monogram; but his prints in general bear the evident marks of being copies from others, and by no means, from the manner of their execution, justify the fuppofition of their being the works of a mafter, greatly anterior to the year 1500. The fubject of the print mentioned by Sandrart, is a girl careffing an old man while fhe fteals his purfe from him. This fubject, it is well known, was frequently engraved, both on copper and on wood, by a variety of ancient mafters; but, except Sandrart, I never heard of any one who had feen the print alluded
A fuller account of this artist,
with his works, may be seen in the fecond volume, under the article Schauflein. The story, that Peter Schoffer invented the art of engraving on copper, and taking impreffions from plates of that metal, does not bear any fimilitude to the truth; neither have we the leaft plausible reafon given, in fupport of fuch an affertion.
"With refpect to the edition of Ptolemy, printed at Rome in the year 1478, we must take notice, that the plates were not engraved by Italian artists, but by Conrad Sweynheym, and Arnold Buckinck, both of them Germans. The former, as appears from the dedication, first brought, not only the art of taking impreffions from engraved plates, but that of printing alfo, to Rome, where he died, three years after the commencement of the work, which was at length completed by the latter; and the plates for this book are fuppofed to have been begun about the year 1472. It will doubtlefs feem very extraordinary, that the art of engraving fhould have been difcovered at Florence fo early as 1460, and yet unknown twelve years afterwards at Rome, where it was first introduced by foreign artifts. It appears from this circum. stance, that though Finiguerra, Boticelli, and Baldini, all of them Florentines, poffeffed the fecret, they did not divulge it fpeedily; and hence, as a good prefumptuous proof, it may be urged, that fuch Italian engravings, as are to be found prior to the year 1472, are by the hand of one or other of these artifts. If this be granted, and great plaufibility, at least, is on its fide, it will follow that the originals, from whence the plates II. and III. are taken, are fo. Thefe curious and valuable fpecimens of ancient engravings, which, I be
lieve, are unique, must have been executed as early as the year 1464; a very short interval, from the time, which Vafara gives us for the invention of the art; and are confiderably more early than any hither. to produced, though all the great foreign libraries have been repeatedly fearched for that purpofe. Two of them, I thought, were fufficient to fhew the ftyle in which they are executed; but the fet confifts of eight plates, namely, the feven planets, and an almanack by way of frontispiece, on which are directions for finding Eafter from the year 1465 to 1517 inclufive; and the dates regularly follow each other, which plainly proves, that there can be no mistake with refpect to the first; and we may be well af fured, in this cafe, the engravings were not antedated; for the almanack of course became lefs and lefs valuable every year. A full defcription of all thefe engravings will be given in the feventh chapter of this Effay.
"If we are inclined to refer thefe plates to either of the three Italian artifts before mentioned, we fhall naturally fuppofe them to be the work of Finiguerra, or Baldini; for they are not equal, either in draw ing or compofition, to thofe afcribed to Boticelli; which we know at least were defigned by him; and as Bal dini is exprefly faid to have worked from the defigns of Boticelli, it will appear most probable, if they are to be attributed to any one of thefe three artists, they belong to the former. The reader must be left to judge for himself, whether he conceives them to be fufficiently well executed; for he is to remember, that Finiguerra is fpoken of by Vafari, as a man of no fmall ability. I own, after all, if I could but tell to whom one might reasonably a
feribe thefe curious plates, I fhould yet be tempted to fuppofe the origithe production of Finiguerra's granal of the plate No. V. was really ver.
tenfions the Italians have laid to the "We have now feen what preinvention of the art of engraving, and have proved, by producing undoubted fpecimens, that it did exist nearly about the time stated by Vafari. With refpect to what he has faid concerning the art of taking impreffions from engraved plates being invented by Finiguerra, the ingenious obfervations of M. Heineken are well deferving of notice. others, his countrymen, it was the "According to Vafari, fays he, and goldfmith Finiguerra who invented this art, about the year 1460; and perhaps he was not mistaken, if he fpeaks of Italy only. It is very poffible, that the art of engraving fhould have been long practifed in Germany, and unknown in Italy. The Italians, thofe of Venice exdence with the Germans. For this cepted, had very little correfponreafon, Finiguerra might difcover this art, without knowing that it had been already invented in Ger many. All the merchandizes of this country were fent from Antwerp to the Italians, who were much better acquainted with the people of the Low Countries than thofe of the other provinces. For this caufe, Vafari fuppofed that Culmback, and refided at Colmar, Martin Schoen, who was born at was a Fleming, and conftantly calls him Martin of Antwerp."
mine, what claim the Germans can "We fhall now proceed to exabring, prior to that of the Italians; and in that cafe we fhall have recourse to their works. The earliest dated print I ever faw produced by this school, is copied, plate I. and the
the date is evidently 1461. And we shall fee, however faulty it may be with respect to the drawing, or defective in point of tafte, the mechanical part of the execution of it has by no means the appearance of being one of the first productions of the graver. We have alfo feveral other engravings, evidently the works of the fame mafter, and concerning which the fame obfervations may be juftly made. Befides, the impreffions are fo neatly taken from the plates, and the engravings fo clearly printed in every part, that, according to all appearance, they could not be executed in a much better manner in the prefent day, with all the conveniences which the copper-plate printers now poffefs, and the additional knowledge they must neceffarily have acquired, in the course of more than three centuries. Hence we may fairly conclude, that, if they were not the first fpecimens of the engraver's workmanship, they were much lefs the first efforts of the copper plate printer's ability. Not that plates being badly printed is any certain proof of their antiquity; but we can hardly imagine, that the first attempts to take impreffions from engravings fhould immediately have arrived at perfection, and that at a time when we cannot fuppofe them to have been aware of every circumftance neceffary to infure fuc. cefs; efpecially when we find it no eafy matter, in the prefent day, at all times, to procure good impref fions from our plates.
The artist to whom we owe this fingular curiofity was, without doubt, a goldfmith. And indeed, it is certain, that the art of engraving plates, for the purpofe of printing, firft originated with thofe ingepious mechanics, or elfe with the engravers, who executed the brafs
plates for the monuments; but as I have faid before, I do by no means fuppofe, that this print is the first fpecimen of engraving, even if we fhould allow its author to have been the inventor of the art. There are other plates, fome of which I fhall fpecify hereafter, that, I think, bear evident marks of priority, particularly those of the master, who used the Gothic initials F. and S. feparated by a very fingular mark, and who is called by abbé Marolles, Francois Stofs, or Stoltzhirs; but upon what authority does not ap pear.
"Martin Schoen, a painter, engraver, and goldfmith, who was born at Culmback, and refided chiefly at Colmar, is faid, with great appearance of truth, to have work ed from 1460 to 1486, in which year he died. This artist was ap parently the difciple of Stoltzhirs; for he followed his ftyle of engrav ing, and copied from him a fet of prints, reprefenting the paffion of our Saviour. So that, allowing Stoltzhirs to have preceded his dif ciple only ten years, this carries the era of the art back to 1450% without having any recourfe to the fabulous relation of fome authors upon this fubject, who speak of one Luprecht Ruft, as the mafter of Martin Schoen, abfurdly declaring, that he was an engraver on wood. Admitting therefore, that fuch an artist really did exift, it is by no. means reafonable to fuppofe, that he fhould teach the art of engraving on copper to another, when he was not, according to their own account, acquainted with it himself. Martin Schoen never engraved on wood, as far as I have heard; but his works on copper, it is well known, are very confiderable.
"Ifrael van Mechelen, or Meckenen, whofe engravings are as multifa