THE second annual exhibition of drawings from the free industrial-drawing classes and the Boston public schools has amply justified all who have encouraged or believed in the movement from which it results. The public-school drawings indicate the character of work which every pupil in every Boston school is at present engaged with. Six specimens were selected from the every-day work of each class in every municipal school, making a total of some twenty thousand elementary drawings. These, it must be remembered, are the result of the obligatory study of drawing in the common schools, and quite independent of the free industrial classes. They show, however, the sort of education which should precede that now carried on in those classes, in order to give this its full force. For the purpose of exhibition, they were arranged under the general heads of primary, and the six grades of grammar schools, and finally high and normal schools, and the Latin School. A second subdivision into five classes explains the character of study involved in each drawing. The five exercises adopted by the State director of art education are : drawing (l) from blackboard, (2) from flat copy, (3) from dictation, (4) from memory, and (5) original designs. It had been intended to introduce a sixth exercise, namely, geometrical drawing ; but the expense of providing instruments has made a postponement necessary. It will be seen, however, that the system at present practised is sufficient to call into play a considerable variety of perceptions, the development of which is vitally essential to success in the subsequent study of the art. In drawing from the blackboard, the pupils are required to diminish, and in drawing from the flat copy, on the other hand, to enlarge proportionally, upon the model. The dictation, of course, serves to impress upon the minds of the very young students, who form so large a proportion in these schools, the definitions of various lines, and to cultivate the sense of their relation one to another. In the drawing from memory, some particular example previously studied is referred to, by number, by the teacher, and the pupil is then obliged to recall or recreate it on paper. This is an admirable provision. Nothing can be more important, in the plastic arts, than to cultivate the ability for remembering form. It is well, therefore, that the educator’s hand should be set to this particular part of the wheel, at an early period in the cultivation of the individual artistic faculty. The mode of calling out original design should be noticed. The teacher draws for the pupil the several factors of the proposed design; giving him, for example, the conventional outline of the ivy-leaf, with a cluster of berries, or, perhaps, two clusters, varying in the numbers of berries. With these materials, the pupil is required to work up his design, in pure outline, filling with it a given space of a fixed shape. The variety and predominant good taste and frequent grace which characterize these designs is extraordinary. We find among them sketches by children from ten to fifteen years old which might well be recommended to some of the professed designers who prepare for us their gaudy discomfort of decoration, not only in railroad cars, but also in much more venerable and permanent structures. A good many specimens of map-drawing were displayed, — a less creditable exercise, and only existing, we believe, on sufferance ; though, to be sure, it offers an opportunity for applying the acquired skill of the eye to the gaining of useful knowledge. At bottom, it is not very discordant with the whole principle of the public-school art instruction, which is empathically this : that drawing should not be recognized as a specialty, but only regarded as a means, until the high school is reached. Up to that point it is merely the gradual development of a faculty hitherto generally neglected, —a quickening of the sight. Shading is not permitted in the primary or grammar schools, the entire effort being concentrated upon outline, and the subjects are all very simple. The high and normal schools displayed some excellent drawings from objects, with all the repose of rounding shade and liquid light which could be expected. Many of the students of this grade, however, have been obliged to confine themselves to subjects on a level with those of the lower schools, for want of proper previous training ; and there are only two instances of an effort to reproduce natural objects, — one a study from a sprig of budding willow, and another from apple-blossoms, — a scarcity we must regret. But when it is considered that the teachers in the public schools have themselves been obliged to learn, within a short time, what they have imparted to their pupils, it is impossible not to feel a delightful surprise at the already fine fruits of their labors. We next come to the industrial classes’ drawings. Some fifteen cities were represented this year, several that contributed last year having, for unknown or insufficient reasons, dropped out, and others not having yet made up their minds to enter the ranks of progress. There were also independent contributions from the architectural class of the Institute of Technology, and the Lowell free School of Practical Design (also connected with the Institute) ; and, while the former offered an illustration of what might be hoped for in future, in the way of instrumental drawing, from the advancing industrial classes, the latter — the School of Practical Design — only illustrated the abortive nature of all instruction expended upon people who have not been developed by some such sufficient system as that which is now in its second year and may be expected soon to supply the Lowell school with better material. The number of instrumental drawings in this collection from the industrial schools was about six hundred, and of free-hand about five hundred. The difference in the quality of work from different quarters illustrated very clearly the importance of good apparatus for the schools at the start. The Taunton display was very strong, owing to the good provision made in that city; while Newburyport, with doubtless good intentions, was able to do almost nothing, owing to a corresponding lack of provision. From the Boston Evening High School, and the Haverhill Industrial Art-School came an imposing array of mechanical drawings. Particularly noticeable was a set of working designs for a dwellinghouse, by a boy of fourteen, indicating an easy mastery of his subject. The contributions of the South Boston Art-School, too, deserve special notice. Organized only in December, 1872, it has, within less than five months, reached such a point of practical efficiency as to present to the public, at this exhibition, nearly a hundred drawings, shaded and in outline, free-hand and instrumental. Most of the drawings of mouldings, etc., and from the human form, such as would be better if done from plaster, have, we see, been drawn from the copy. The same thing occurs in the beginners’ section of the Appleton Street freehand schools. But this is probably only owing to the lack of a sufficient supply of casts. The most interesting among the beginners’ work, in the latter school, was a Theseus of the Pantheon, by a stucco-worker of twenty. A wonderful progress was visible in the work of the advanced section. The greater number of its drawings are finished in the English style ; but several examples of the French method were also offered, which, with its greater boldness,—the principle being to learn through an energetic commission and correction of error, — will furnish an excellent complement to the Kensington method. A particularly praiseworthy work of the latter kind was a crayondrawing by W. B. Closson from a cast of Donatello’s St. Cecilia, the very low and delicately varied relief of which make it a difficult subject. The stump, we see, is Still freely used, even in this finest work; and we could wish to see some instances of finish with the unaided crayon or pencil point. Taken all in all, however, the demonstrations of the system of art education in Massachusetts have been thus far highly satisfactory in their results, and warrant the hope of a robust maturity for a scheme still in its infancy. The most pressing immediate want appears to be that of competent teachers ; and before that can be met, a normal school for them is absolutely necessary. Moreover, there is still a good deal of apathy to be combated, in quarters where it should not exist, as, for instance, in Lowell, a city which should have seen to it that its industrial drawings had been better in the recent exhibition.

— When Charles Knight went to his honored rest, a few weeks ago, the world was poorer by the loss of a man who had spent his whole life, and earnestly used all his powers, in the service of popular education, It is for others to relate the various ways in which he worked at his high task ; one of them only concerns us here, — the efforts he made to reproduce, for the instruction of the common people of England, those works of art in engraving and painting the costliness and rarity of which confine them to the custody of public museums or shut them up in the cabinets and portfolios of private collectors. This useful and elevating work was always done in connection with the cheap books he was forever planning and executing. Accurate and interesting information made his illustrations of famous work doubly valuable ; and if the fashion of much that he accomplished in these illustrations is a little strange to our time, and falls far behind in artistic excellence the work done by the London Illustrated News, the London Graphic, or the French publications so little known among us, yet so well deserving to be known, Le Magazin Pittoresque, Le Tour du Monde,&emdash; we must blame Mr. Knight’s time for this, and not him. He did the best he could ; employed the best artists he could get to work for him ; and few were the artists of note who would condescend to work for cheap publications in those days. Stothard, Westall, Smirke, and the rest designed profusely ; but almost all their work was engraved on steel, and for the most part was for books that, by reason either of their price or their subjects, had no circulation among the masses.

In the time of Mr. Knight’s greatest activity, wood-engraving was the cheapest process of art-reproduction known, for lithography was then in its infancy. And lithography was really no substitute, for it cannot be used in connection with typeprinting, and it is as dependent on the artist as wood-engraving itself. A process was wanted by which copies of drawings and engravings could be made cheaply and quickly, without the intervention of a person to reproduce the originals upon metal, wood, or stone being first necessary. Even the invention of the photograph—still for us in its infancy — came too late for the founders of the Penny Magazine and the Library of Entertaining Knowledge ; and it must be confessed that it is only very lately we have been any better off than they were.

The invention of the photograph has, of course, been of immense popular service ; no discovery so great, in its relation to the great problem of desseminating instruction among the people, since the invention of printing. Photolithography, too, was an invention that promised much, more, perhaps, than it has been able to perform ; but it is a troublesome, expensive, and uncertain process, and has not yet done more than prove to us the possibility of doing something. Yet one can fancy the interest with which a quick-witted, ingenious man like Knight, eager to use his wit and his ingenuity for the benevolent purposes that filled his mind, would have watched the development of Daguerre’s great discovery, as, kindling from contact with minds akin to that of the ingenious Frenchman, it pushed rapidly on from the daguerreotype to the Talbot-type, the photograph, the photolithograph, the zinc-type, and other variations, until at length it culminated in the popular invention of the heliotype. What, would these great educators have said could they have held in their hands these reproductions of works — many of them so rare as to be known only to amateurs and collectors — now put before the public at prices merely nominal ? For the heliotype, is, in reality, the first practical solution of this important problem. The well-to-do amateur, if not rich enough to collect the original etchings and engravings of the masters, — and it takes money in these days to indulge the taste even to a moderate extent, — can, at least, come very near to the originals by purchasing the copies furnished by the French processes, Photogravure and Heliogravure,—processes by which have been secured the most perfect fac-similes that have ever been obtained ; so perfect, in fact, as to leave nothing to be desired. The first named of these two processes1 has thus far been principally applied to the reproduction of modern work ; though if we rightly understand that the copy of Antonello da Messina’s magnificent portrait of a Condottiere in the Louvre is taken direct from the original painting, there is opened a new and unexpected door of discovery, and the photograph is already superseded as a means of copying pictures. The secondnamed process, that of Heliogravure, is only known to us by its results in the important publication, Etchings and Engravings of the Old Masters chosen from the most celebrated Collections ; 2 but in this its first public essay it has surpassed all that has hitherto been accomplished.

But these publications, splendid and satisfying as they are, are not for the use of the large number of people who wish to be instructed in regard to the master works of etching and engraving, but whose means are small. The portfolios of M. Amand-Durand and of Goupil & Co. are not intended to meet the wants of the same class that were taught by the Penny Magazine, and the little books on Pompeii, the Elgin marbles and the Townley gallery of the Useful Knowledge Society, the class that to-day depend on the Illustrated News and the Magazin Pittoresque. They will welcome, rather, the coming of the heliotype, which gives them a cheap, sufficient guide into the pleasant domain of the engraver, where if the student shall find anything attractive he can push the study of it as he has leisure and opportunity.

The mechanical processes by which the heliotype prints are produced have been so often explained, and are so simple, that we do not need to repeat them here. The pictures made by heliotypy differ from those made by either of the French processes, “Heliogravure” or “Photogravure,” in that there is nothing like what is implied in the word gravure, no process of engraving used. They are simply photographs printed in printers’ ink at an ordinary printing-press. They are produced with great rapidity, and independently of light; they are as permanent as engravings ; they require no mounting, but come from the press with clean margins, finished and ready for binding or framing.

We are not concerned here either with the mechanical processes of the heliotype or with its application to the industrial arts, with the cheapness and facility with which it can multiply copies of plans, documents, architects’ and engineers’ designs, etc., etc. We are only to say a word about its work as an educator in the arts of etching and engraving. This seems to us a work of quite inestimable value ; there must be many people to whom it will come as a real helper and benefactor. And yet, after all, it makes but a modest offer. It does not profess to be able to show us what Rembrandt, Diirer, Lucas von Leyden, Marc Antonio are, but only what they are like, and rather what they have to say about the subjects they take than precisely how they say it. Of these great artists it can give us all of certain qualities that go to make their greatness, and it can give us much of the rest; and even of what we are as yet obliged to resign ourselves to doing without, —there is no knowing how soon the process may be so far improved as to give us that too. The defects of many of the most important prints thus far published are owing, not to the process, but to the fact that the originals from which the copies were made were — though the best that could then be procured — far from satisfactory impressions. Of course, the better the impressions, the better the results; and if the publishers’ offer—not only to take the best possible care of prints intrusted to them for copying, but to insure them to their full value — could be met, as it has been in at least one case, by a generous response, the public would be greatly benefited. For we may say that the wonderful results obtained by the publishers of the French Heliogravure process are largely due to the fact that in every case, or nearly every case, the print copied has been loaned for the purpose by some one of the famous collectors, either M. Firmin Didot or M. Dutuit, or M. Gallichon, or M. Rothschild ; and for brilliancy, condition, and all the qualities and accidents that make the hearts of connoisseurs leap up, these examples may be said to be unique.

Now, we have very fine Rembrandts, Dürers, Lucas van Leydens, Marc Antonios in this country, in private hands, and if American collectors know how to be as generous as collectors in Europe, we may easily carry the production of the heliotype press to a much higher point than we have yet reached, though that is no despicable point either. As it is, we venture to ask for them a wider circulation, and a circulation in all places where the young can see them, and be taught by them. In the children’s playroom, on the school-room wall, these prints will be at home, and they are so cheap that they may easily be given out as prizes or rewards in schools and classes. This, to our thinking, is their chief value,— the ease with which they enable the young and the people of small means to get a beginning of practical knowledge about famous artists of whom a world of writing has been written, but here in America scarcely anything ever seen.

  1. The process Photogravure has not been employed thus far in any serial publication, but a halfdozen plates have been issued in Paris by Goupil & Co. The following are the subjects : E. Detaille, Grenadier de la garde ImpérialeTenue de Campagne. This is, we believe, from a water-color drawing, and the copy has all the appearance of a fine drawing in India ink. Ingres, Portrait of a Lady, 1813. This is from a pencil-drawing, and the effect is well given. Jules Bréton, Le Récolte des Pommes-de-terre. This is probably from the original sketch in crayons of the famous picture. Antonello da Messina, Condottiere (Louvre). Meissonier, Homme d’armes, 1857. Vernet-de-Conte, Une Almée. The last three are from paintings, and, as we are informed, the process prints the picture directly upon the paper. It is a remarkable invention. Of these prints, the Antonello da Messina and the Bréton are incomparably fine.
  2. Heliogravure Amand-Durand. Eaux-fortes et gravures des Maitres Anciens tirées des collections les plus célèbres, et publiées avec le concours de M. Edouard Lièvre; notes de M. Georges Duplessis, bibliothécaire du départment des Estampes à la Bibliothéque nationale. Prix de la libraison de dix planches 40 francs.