IF those persons who take up The House Beautiful1 spend a good deal of their time in looking at the pictures, it will be Mr. Cook’s fault. Certainly the charm of drawing and engraving which comes from careful work and felicitous touches appeals here both to the uneducated and to the connoisseur, and it is plain that the author has expended unstinted labor and zeal in securing for his book a delightful harmony. It is a pleasure to handle and to read a hook so conscientiously made, and the good taste which presided over the book becomes at once an intimation that the author will not lead his followers far astray when they enter upon the subject of the book itself.
Even when the book has been read, the pictures will remain as the chief consideration; and in saying this we intend only to express strongly our sense of the excellent manner in which Mr. Cook has performed his task. If he had had but a single person whom he wished to instruct in the art of indoor life, it is very certain that he would have found his best way in taking his friend to this or that house or shop and pointing out the very object which he has taken pains to represent in these wood-cuts; and his personal talk about them could hardly have been more informal and good-natured than is the writing with which he accompanies the pictures. He says very well in reply to the objection that his models are not of practical use because not procurable by the general public: “My main object in writing these pages is not to dogmatize nor to give definite rules for doing this or that, nor to give people precise patterns to follow. On the contrary, it has been urged from the beginning that people should follow their own taste, and do the best they can to make their homes pretty and attractive in their own way. . . . These cuts are meaut to indicate my general taste in furnishing a house, and what seems to me likely to be pleasing to many people besides myself.” We are glad that he confined his objurgations of unnatural and unseemly furniture to words, and called in the aid of pencil and graver only to show that which he could praise; for it is to be feared that ugly things might have lost some of their deformity if so skillfully drawn and engraved, and it is rare indeed that it can be right to expend good artisans hip in reprehending bad art.
Mr. Cook proceeds then upon the principle that taste in household decoration as in any other matter of art is chiefly formed through a familiarity with beautiful and becoming forms, and accordingly he moves through the different rooms of the House Beautiful, — the entrance, the living-room, the dining-room and the bedroom, —pointing out the advantages of this and that mode of treatment, and calling attention to what is good in chair, table, grate, rug or carpet, table furniture, chamber furniture, curtains, and whatever goes to make up the appointments of any simply ordered establishment.
We miss mention of wall papers, though he had his chance when speaking of hanging pictures and Japanese scrolls, and we wish that in his zeal for the living-room he had not ignored one feature of the House Beautiful which is coming to be more regarded by architects and by those who wish to make the most of their home life, — the hall, a term which seems to savor only of the House Grand, hut really plays a most important part in rendering a simple house the House Beautiful. The peremptoriness with which in many houses the visitor is received by the entrance and ordered up-stairs or down cellar, or through some suspiciously dark passage, is little less than insolent, and the hospitality of a house is borne on its face when a generous hall welcomes one to the interior and not merely to the threshold. It was not Mr. Cook’s aim to plan or arrange houses, but if he could have assumed a hall parenthetically, he would have had an admirable opportunity to display certain forms of fire-place, chair, ceiling, and wainscoting, beautiful in themselves and adapted only to this place.
The details which Mr Cook presents are all interesting, and there will be few persons of educated taste to quarrel with him as to most of the conclusions which he reaches. The book is not a formal treatise, therefore he has suggested the principles of furnishing and decoration rather than formulated them. It will be looked at and read with most pleasure by those who do not much need it, but it cannot fail to stimulate a love of beauty in household ware, even among those who would be lost iu a fog if they took it for a guide. It is what it purports to be, a record of many excellent fancies and a suggestion of more; as such it will be to many almost as satisfactory as a visit to a house where pure taste presides; it will make them dissatisfied with the false things in their own houses and quicker to discover what is genuine and worthy.
— The publishers have rather paid honor to the best aud highest literature than consulted the ordinary holiday mood in choosing for illustration Hawthorne’s supreme romance, — the great wonder-book in which the deep life of our Puritanic date suffers forever, — The Scarlet Letter,2 insurpassably tragic, as Evangeline is insurpassably pathetic, among works of imagination, and destined by the perfection of its form to endure with our language. They have given it due state in printing and paper; they have invited to illustrate the story the artist who perhaps unites more fine qualities than any other, and they have called to her aid the brilliant, sympathetic, and characteristic touch of our best engraver. If the result is not perfectly satisfactory, it must be because it is not within the scope of any one artist to interpret all the phases of the always deepening, always darkening tragedy. We all know in what Miss Halloek has hitherto excelled : the innocent tenderness and grace of young girlhood; the entreating pathos of some unhappy woman’s face; the sadness of an aged visage; the brightness, the light of some festival scene ; the joyous gayety of love-making; the sweetness and serenity of family groups and all the aspects of domestic peace. Her successes in a different direction rather than her failures will surprise those already acquainted with her work; and we think that the more these illustrations are studied the more they will be found successful.
At first, as in the case of Hester Prynne on the scaffold, one dues not accept them as expressions of the predominant feeling, yet a little reflection convinces that the air of joyless absence among other scenes, the look of dull oblivion, with its subconsciousness of present agony, in Hester’s face, — half-averted and forgetful of the babe that hangs so heavy in her hold, — is the feeling which art could best and most movingly picture there. It is a triumph which contrasts with the failure of the second scene on the scaffold, when Dimmesdale, Hester, and Pearl stand there together, by night: Hester with rather a St. Cecilia-ish, Madonna-ish, upturned face, and Dimmesdale in a dishabille which does not at all correspond with the scrupulosity of costume attributed to him bythe author on that occasion. The scenes of Hester, Dimmesdale, and Pearl in the forest are not so good, either, nor is the final scene on the scaffold after the election sermon ; but that in Governor Bellingham’s house, in which Hester appeals to Dimmesdale to keep the grim authorities from taking her Pearl away, is most finely and dramatically presented, and has a deep thrill in it. All the figures, in their various poses and expressions, are excellent. The mother and child, passing through the hall, are also admirable; in these two scenes chiefly does Miss Halloek seem to have caught the real Pearl, though we must except the pretty half-page in which the elfish child sits on a rock dabbling her foot in the pool. Hester Prynne’s return to prison, after her hour on the pillory, is one of the good things; it is very good indeed; the figure is grand, and the heavy fatigue in the beautiful face most touchingly expressed ; and the three studies of faces — the Puritan matron faces among the spectators, the young maiden faces in Mr. Dunmesdale’s congregation, and the faces of the magisterial group in the election-day procession — are all well imagined and extraordinarily well realized. Several landscape bits, too, are thoroughly and characteristically fine, especially that sad perspective of forest, with the white birch fallen across the pool in the foreground, and that winding woodland road with Hester and her babe in her arms in the foreground, and the Puritan figures in the background, following her with their eyes as She walks rapt and drearily brooding away, Chillingworth is often too theatrically fancied; Dimmesdale is most successfully portrayed in the scene at Governor Bellingham’s, which is, on the whole, the most satisfactory, the most perfect scene in the book, — entirely, and nobly beautiful, and as yet quite unapproached in power by anything in American illustrative art.
We have already indicated our sense of Mr. Anthony’s value in such a work as this; it remains merely to say that he seems here to be at his best. We must praise also the tasteful head pieces of the different chapters, by Mr. L. S. Ipsen.
— Mr, Avery, in Californian Pictures,3 had the difficult task before him of illustrating scenery which has been more bewritten and bcpaiuted than pdrhaps that of any other part of our country. Repetition in some measure was inevitable, but grudging justice must allow that the author has done much to make California novel again, and has produced a book which those who have or have not been there may alike recur to with pleasure and advantage. His first endeavor is to possess his reader of a general idea of the Californian topography, climate, and landscape, and then to enter with him upon the exploration of particular sceues. In all he has an agreeable air of nnboastfully and sincerely liking what be writes about; he is simple, clear, ami graphic, and his enthusiasm never lifts his feet from the solid ground. The chapters of prose description are separated from each other by pieces of descriptive verse, in which we have noted the same pleasant qualities of naturalness and faithfulness. The poems have sometimes indeed a Bryant-like freshness and truth, with something of a naturalist’s joy in minute detail; they are often very good without ever being first-rate. They keep in acceptable form the general high level of the prose. Up the Western Slope of the Sierras, On the Summit, Head - Waters of the Sacramento, Ascent of Mount Shasta, The Geysers, City Scenery, Santa Cruz Mountains, The First People, The Trinity Diamond, are the titles of chapters which will convey an impression of the scope and variety of the work. They are. not mere recapitulations of the facts of the landscape, but are enlivened with a genuine sense of beauty and a feeling for character that forbids them to be tiresome. Four of the illustrations are by Thomas Moran ; three by W. II. Gibson ; the rest by Alfred Kappes and C. A. Vandenhoff. They harmonize wit h the literary quality of the book; they are fresh and good, and seem generally to have caught the picturesque when it was not waiting to be sketched ; their charm is solid and lasting rather than surprising, and the whole book, which is of course elegantly printed, deserves to survive many holidays.
— In The Atlantic for January we had the pleasure of calling the reader’s notice to the magnificent series of etchings from the old masters, by William Unger,4 which Mr. J. W. Bouton is republishing from the Leyden impressions, — numbers in stately folio, with admirable letterpress comment accompanying the finely mounted plates. We then noted the general character of the work, of which five numbers containing thirty etchings had been issued, and praised the good sense and good taste with which the text had been confined to a slight historical account of each subject and a description of the coloring of the original. We have now to acknowledge the five numbers which complete the work and add a treasure of forty etchings to those of the first five numbers.
Of the entire set so great a majority are etchings from pictures of the Dutch school that one feels an overlargeness in the title of the work, though perhaps it could not have readily been made more accurate. Of the seven etchings which are not of the Dutch school, one is after Nicolas Poussin, the rest after Venetian masters,—Titian, Tintoretto, Palma il Vecchio, Moro, and Veronese, — who indeed are more at one with the Dutch in that instinctive sympathy of coloring which allied the northern and southern lagoons than any other painters. The great Dutch masters share the glory of this reproduction among them in the proportion of nineteen to Rembrandt, five to Rubens, four to Van Ostade, three to Steen, two to Hals, and so on ; a distribubution in which Wouverman, Paul Potter, Teniers, Camphuizen, Fabritius, Houdecoetcr, Van der Meer, Brouwer, and the rest, have their part too. In fine, whoever has this series may be said to have the Dutch school at hand, always excepting, of course, its coloring, which alone these wonderful etchings cannot give. Tone, chiaroscuro, sentiment, humor, spirit, are all here with extraordinary equality and the subtlest sympathy of execution; and these qualities constitute in vast degree the character of Dutch painting, which concerned itself so largely with unidealized life. Looking at these etchings, one sees the origin of genre art, but simple, sincere, and unsentimentalized genre. Pieter van Leer’s Mountebanks; Jan Steen’s Marriage Contract, aud Twelfth Day; Van Ostade’s Village Public House, and Joyous Company ; Van der Meer’s Success and Jealousy,— such subjects suggest, by their mere names the modern English school of storytelling pictures, a kind always dear to the popular heart, and, as we believe, capable at its best of affording the highest possible pleasure to all but teehnidsts and amateurs, just as singing delighrs unaffected peopde more than instrumentation. In these Dutch pictures is felt the Dutch ancestry of the English mind and heart; and their taste is native with all of English blood. In fact, much of the modern French painting, especially of animals, seems traceable to the same affluent source. Do their best they can but paint cattle as Paul Potter painted them, only not so well, with such clear and positive truth. But it is in the interiors of the dusky taverns and the rich houses, in the wild, free, clumsy dances, the mighty drinking-bouts, the lusty love-making, that our race finds itself at home. Those lumps and rolls of men and women, so uncouth, so jolly, are friendly and kindred with us; they are our peasant elders and ancestors; and in the fine types we find the best of our contemporaries. The two exquisite portraits by Rembrandt, of Haringzoon and Bruyningh, are of such Puritan delicacy that one looking at the young man, with his delicate, winning smile, full of refinement, cried out that he was like the best sort of Bostonian. We must do ourselves the justice to own that we have improved in the matter of women, and that the loveliest of those Dutch beauties are not quite up to the Anglo-American average pretty woman in beauty or refinement. Yet how charming is that head of Rembrandt’s young-girl wife, in the transparent shadow of her hat, with the wonderfully painted hand along her cheek ! And how exquisitely simple and arch is the smile of the triumphant lady in Van der Meer’s Success and Jealousy !
Among the other more notable etchings is a haying or harvest scene, by Wouverman ; a cattle-piece of four cows, by Potter, marvelous ; a white peacock and other fowls, even more marvelously painted, by Houdecoeter ; a man reading, by Rembrandt, extraordinary in characteristic effects ; a winter scene, by the same master, very sketchy, but cold, cold in its rude verity; a delicious portrait, by Frans Hals, of a man smiling; many besides, which it is idle to go on naming and ticketing. We enn but repeat our heartiest praise of this series, and express the hope that the enlightened spirit which has prompted its republication here may he richly encouraged. It is in its way quite unmatched among holiday books.
— Unmatched, unless by two other repuldications of Mr. Bouton, former numbers of which we have already noticed with warm commendation. One is the third part of Racinet’s Costume Historique;5 the other is the second volume, for 1877, of L’Art,6 the illustrated weekly review of M. Ballue. This number of the Costume Historique is rich in thirteen plates in color, with certain details done in gold and silver, of which one illustration is double size. The large plate represents the court of Louis XIV., when that king was young and in the glory of his perfectly established autocracy, and when his nobility, dispossessed of all power, remained to decorate his presence and his reign. The sceue is a famous one : Louis receives Cardinal Chigi, nephew and legate of Pope Alexander VII., who comes to Fontainebleau to render satisfaction to the king for the insult offered in Rome to the Duc de Créqui’s people. It is from a Gobelin tapestry after designs by Lebrun, and is extremely interesting, not only for the dress of the sumptuously, somewhat effeminately costumed court, but for the curious portraiture of the different personages, noble and ecclesiastic. All is executed with that delicate finish characteristic of these illustrations, which is quite as exquisite in the reproduction of a Russian peasant interior. Here there are details of structure and decoration which we recommend to the notice of those architects who are endeavoring to give us, in our houses, something novel, beautiful, and cheap. The colors are those of fact, of course, and the house is the work of the peasant who lives in it. As we see him, he stands at the head of his table asking a blessing on his meal, and the picture is not only aesthetically instructive, but is very pleasing. A Hindoo procession, with nautch-girls dancing in the lower half of the plate; a dozen figures of Persian women in different costumes; a plate containing as many figures illustrative of Polish peasaut dress; one of seven deliciouslytinted heads (with details of the coiffure in gold and silver) of Russian peasant girls; and one of twelve Breton peasants, men and women, contribute to the ethnographic study of costume. These are all not only instructive but charming for a hundred qualities of work. In fashion as distinguishable from costume there is but one plate, containing twenty half-lengths, illustrative of the coiffure and the corsage at their most piquantc and bizarre period, from 1794 to 1800,.— a really fascinating group of heads, which one may pleasurably peruse for the bold and quaint styles, and for the faces, which every epoch seems to characterize by its peculiar expression. Certainly, it is amusing to see how politics affected at that convulsive period ladies’ headdresses and waists! There is a plate, equally fascinating in its way, of French cavalry costumes of the fine-gentleman age of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., trumpeters and drummers on horseback; and there is one, very curious, of ladies of the different religious orders, the noble sisters of which did not, in the seventeenth century, forbid themselves some striking effectiveness of dress. The feudal times are represented by one plate showing knights in combat, very stiff, very reali-tic; by another, very stiff and very realistic in its people in civil dress, including Lucretia, in the costume of the fourteenth century, not so much stabbing as carving herself; and finally by a delicious piece, containing two full-lengths and several lialf-lengths and heads, showing the patrician Italian coiffures and female costumes of the sixteenth century ; these are very remarkable for their fine details in the metallic tints, as well as for the softness and richness with which the colors are used.
The plates in camaïeu are Costumes of Greek Women (classic); Roman Religious Sacrifices; Roman Religious Sacrificial Utensils; Civil Costumes of the Upper Classes in Fiance, during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; Ecclesiastical Furniture of the Middle Ages; Household Furniture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; Mediæval Armor; Carriages of the same period ; and the Funeral of the Stadtholder Frederick Henry-Friso, who died at the Hague in 1647. This last is of double size, and contains seventy-three principal figures, representing many historical personages and all the military and civil orders. It is of unsurpassed interest as a picture of the times, and will repay the minutest study. The other camaleux are of not less Talue in their way.
One of the most interesting series of papers in L’Art is that on the great Spanish painter Goya, by Charles Yriarte, which is illustrated by' some half dozen of Gova’s most striking etchings. Striking is indeed a word that has had too much force taken out of it by long use exactly to describe these etchings; let us say tiny are stunning in their bold, fierce vigor. There is, for example, the Rain of Bulls, as it is called,— five bulls plunging through blackish space; there is,the satirical piece, Other Laws for the People, with the vast elephant swelling on towards the shrinking deputation at the left, his small eye wicked and his trunk turgid with wrath ; and there is the comic sceue, Que Guerrero, with the rude group falliug back in explosions of plebeian laughter from the menaces of a scarecrow, — all which we commend for the reader’s vivid sensation. M. Yriarte relates many curious facts in regard to the painter, who was quite unknown to the French public until 1830, when he was introduced to its knowledge by Victor Hugo, then in the ferment of his romanticism, and naturally full of Spain.
The Paris Salon of 1877 is amply studied, botli in the letterpress and the illustrations, several of which are delightful. Among the etchings is a wonderful portrait of an unnamed lady, by Chaplin; she rests her hand on the head of a shaggy hound, and drowsily regards you with a ceriain elegant insoleuce that charms and that is evidently to the life. Guillemet’s Falaises de Dieppe, an impressive stretch of sands and sea overlooked by stupendous cliffs, is another of the etchings; and Doré’s group in plaster of Fate and Love is represented in woodengraving, as is Detaille’s Salute to the Wounded (now owned in Sew York), and Beyle’s tall Algérienne, who has too much the air of standing to he painted, ravishing as she is. There is also a valuable illustrated paper on the provincial art exhibitions during the year, and the artistic season in London is treated in several articles on the Royal Academy, and one on the Grosvenor Gallery. The latter article gives a good many studies by pupils of the “ Slade School University College,’’ to which we call the notice of teachers and students here ; those on the Academy reproduce the painter Leighton’s statue of the Athlete Strangling a Python, which those who saw his pictures last year at the Centennial will like to see ; an etching of Macbeth’s Potato Harvest in the Fens, full of reality and picturesqueness, most pleasingly reproduced; and a picture by Mr. W. J. Hennessey, of New York,
This volume of L'Art has among its innumerable attractive traits an essay, with illustrations from his own pencil, on the author Théophile Gautier as a painter, and an essay on Madame dc Saud (Madame Henriette Browne, as she called herself after a Scotch ancestress), who has for many years contributed such remarkable Arabic and Moorish pieces to the Parts Salon. The. Ieonographie Voltairienne is continued, and the gate of the Loggetta in the Square of St. Mark, at Venice, supplies the principal Italian subject.
In music there is an essay on Gounod. That on Déroulède’s play, The Hetman, at the Odéon, should he full of charm for all lovers, and full of instruction for all votaries of the drama. It is entertaining abstractly as being the first literature to turn the tables on Poland, and represent her in her former character of oppressor instead of victim of the Cossacks. The portraits of the principal actors in their telling points and the whole costuming of the play are extremely interesting. As much may be said of the general character of the article on the English actor Irving, and Miss Ellen Terry. When this and all else is said we have but intimated the riches of a single volume of L’Art.
— The northwest of Europe, into which this tour 7 is made, is hardly more than a day’s journey from Paris. It includes Holland, the, former kingdom of Hanover, now a Prussian province, and Denmark, but not Sweden nor Norway. The title gave promise that some of the interesting researches among the curious ancient timber churches of that section might be renewed. The kind of detail of which it is thought worth while to constitute a considerable part of the contents is an evidence of the truth of the statement in the preface of the unwillingness of the French “to quit la belle France” for purposes of travel. To a traveling nation the appearance of things so close at hand would have been familiar enough to render a description of their merely superficial aspects at least unnecessary. M. Narjoux does not journey as an architect simply, or rather he journeys as an architect for the most part off duty, capable of looking about him at miscellaneous matters like an ordinary person. He receives impressions from sunsets and national manners, has a couple of pages to spare for the strolling American show of the “Jenkins Brothers” in Hamburg, and a full chapter, to say nothing of scattering paragraphs, for the exposition of German pertidiousness in politics. A human interest is thus given to his book which will probably improve its chances of popularity with the general reader. The exclusively technical portions are few, and scarcely beyond average comprehension, especially when illustrated with the numerous plates — a little hard in execution— which form one of the attractions of the volume.
Only, M. Narjoux’s profession naturally inclines him to a class of observations which escape the ordinary traveler, and it is these which give his work its value. As a general critic he is not more profound than some non-architectural observers, nor does he draw any striking interest out of the public monuments coming in his way, — though this, if he be correct, is mainly the fault of the monuments. But when he penetrates into the heart of private life, as he does in selecting, in the leading localities he visits, blocks or single dwellings upon common streets, and illustrates, with their designs and ground-plans, the personal habits and traits so reliably deducible from this sort of observation, he Hits upon a novelty which is usually passed by because it seems so glaringly apparent.
The Dutch, like ourselves and the English, occupy separate houses. M. Narjoux considers this a mark of their unsociable disposition and of an indifference to display, unlike the Frenchman, who prefers his lodging, no matter how contracted, in a great hotel, some share of whose magnificence of facade, staircase, and porte cochère he can arrogate to himself. These small houses are monotonously uniform, varied only by some differences in their curved or step gables. They ate very neat and close shut, having the lower windows protected by the wire screens, with landscapes, which are quite prevalent in Philadelphia. The women have “spy-mirrors” at their upper windows, which allow them to see everything that passes without being seen. The Dutch colonies and long commercial connections give an Oriental flavor to the homes of these most practical and unimaginative of people. “ The furniture is almost always composed of the productions of Java, China, or Japan. Immense jars, hideous Buddhas, jade vases, and unsightly bronzes are seen in abundance.” Rare plants and tulips are arranged on the floor of a conservatory in the rear. The only artistic feature apparent is the prevailing taste for flowers. These furnish little points of color which sparkle with extraordinary freshness against the gray background of the constant mists over the dead levels of the country. M. Narjoux’s style in speaking of these watery landscapes, with their black and white feeding cattle, resembles Taine’s, though his appreciation of them is not at all the same.
His air in making this tour is not the preparation, of a monograph from which possibly suggestions may be drawn for use at home. The architecture with which he meets is entirely grotesque and trivial, as in Holland, or imitated from French traditions, as in Germany, “though not a single German has had the good taste to admit it.” The section Upon Denmark treats interestingly of the buildings of a typical farm in Fünen, then of the mediocre buildings of Copenhagen, and at considerable length the collections of its museum, which is richer in prehistoric antiquities than any other in Europe. The ingenious plan of the summer hotel where the author stopped, on the island of Heligoland, will be found worthy of attention. The problem here proposed was how to arrange thirty bedrooms all with a southern exposure, the winds from the other three points of the compass being variously disagreeable. Instead of spreading them out in a row, it is managed by adopting a sort of flat-iron shape, with the point forward. The grand entrances are in front, the offices in the rear, and the apartments upon the sides, which are built in a series of notches, giving to each a south window. The whole is thus kept in a compact and convenient mass.
Hanover offers art interesting field for a study of the possibilities of modern Gothic for civil purposes. The extensive improvements begun in his capital by the late king are entirely in this style. There should be hints of importance in the copious representations of this work for our own practitioners.
M. Narjoux tries to be judicial with the Germans, but these are something beyond human nature. One almost sees him wring his hands as he recurs, in spite of himself, to those humiliating days of 1870. At first it is not so much, apparently, that he grudges them their victory, but that they do not know how to conduct themselves over it. They are parvenus in victory. “ They do not understand, as we do, true glory and pride.” But their gross manners and appetites, their lack of genius, wit, morals, is by degrees not spared, nor finally their cowardice. “ They hide themselves in a hole or behind a tree,” and rely upon their rifled cannon instead of coming out like men, complains this traveler, childishly unreasonable in his bitter memories, as though war were a pretty duel for the mere sake of the hard knocks, and not the most scientific use of force for definite purposes of state.
— The publishers are not backward in contributing their share to the prevailing interest in ceramics. It is their part to supply the theory and the full particulars which are naturally demanded concerning this pleasing new art, which practically had its origin for us in the late Centennial Exhibition. There had been amateurs before, who brought home some scraps of knowledge and a plate or two from their travels abroad, and blue dogs with yellow spots, in majolica, in the windows of fashionable crockery stores had not been altogether thrown away upon housekeepers indoctrinated with the traditions of worsted work. But the Centennial brought Europe to us; it created a public, the existence of which is a necessary preliminary to the rise of prominent figures in any of the arts, even collectors. There is the evidence of the shop windows to show that this public is demanding for its own use some of the best of the wares which there first fixed and charmed its attention. It, is gratifying to find a firm connection established at last with an art likely to be understandingly cultivated among us long before painting and sculpture, whose advent it may assist in preparing. It appeals to the sentiment of abstract beauty animating both, and it is adapted to our present conditions, in which fortunes adequate to the purchase and accommodation of the more important works are none too common. No lofty or specially lighted apartments are needed to entertain these graceful treasures and to witness the agreeable zest with which collectors compare their small new acquisitions among themselves. There is hope, furthermore, in the fact that it is a taste adopted and hitherto largely cultivated by women, who are here our rather more leisurely class.
We shall need, to begin with,, inexpensive elementary works. Mr. Beckwith’s useful little treatise is of this kind. Others are announced as in preparation. Of the more elaborate works, when we have passed the elementary stage the elegant volume of Jacqttemart8 appears the best. It is hardly less a manual than the nearly contemporaneous Marks and Monograms of Chaffers, and at the same time a historical and philosophic treatise. What commendations it calls for are due more spontaneously to the original version, issued from the press of Hachette et Cie, in 1873, than to the translation first sent out by Sampson, Low, & Co. in the following year, and now Americanized at little more than half the cost — for which they certainly deserve our thanks — by Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. Mrs. Bury Palliser, the translator, announces in her preface that the question arose with her of a free or a literal rendering, and was decided in favor of the latter, upon the ground of the danger of modifying the enthusiasm and nationality of the author and taking from the spirit of the work. Frankly, we think the decision a mistake. The foreign idioms are followed to the extent of becoming a decided detraction from the intrinsic charm of the work, and can hardly escape being a source of confusion to readers unfamiliar with them in the original language. The simpler literalisms recall one’s early exercises in Fasquelle, — “ The baker has he the bread ? ” and the like, — and the use of the peculiar French conditionals, as “ Such will have been the first form of art ” and “ Such would have been the first form of art,” when nothing more is intended than “ Such tons the first form of art,” abounds. Nor do ceramists find the literalism always too dear in the exclusively technical parts. There is room for the suspicion that the choice, as it was finally made, may have been connected with some deficiency in the full and accurate vocabulary that should have been in command to do the undertaking adequate justice.
But, to turn from the translator to the original, whose polish, after all, is only slightly shaded and by no means destroyed in the process, we find an author who brings to his work sentiment, judgment, the enthusiasm of a collector, and the results of the research and experience of nearly forty years passed in similar pursuits. Jacquemart’s first history of porcelain was published at Lyons in 1841. He is the author of numerous other works, both special aud general, in the mean time, and occupies a distinguished position in the artistic world of France.
His plan embraces the art of pottery from the most remote antiquity down to modern times. The various divisions are graphically treated, in masses unencumbered by too much detail.
An indispensable preliminary to the elucidation of all the older periods is an inquiry into the religion, forms of government, and social customs of their people. The arts of antiquity, unlike those of our own eclectic anil dilletante times, had something absolute connected with the conditions in which they flourished. It is of no assistance, either now or to posterity, in contemplating Doulton ware or Minton’s tiles, to know that England is governed by a constitutional monarch, aided by a landed nobility and gentry and an established church. Nor would they explain anything besides themselves. But in China if we find a vase of such a green or with such a dragon or bird upon it, we know it belonged to such a ruler. The plan of the vase, the colors and divisions of its decoration, have a meaning. Nothing is left to mere chance. Some are for worship, some for presentation to friends ; some may be used by military mandarins, others only by scholars. A capricious emperor, tired of all the blues in previous use, calls his master potter and cries: “ Henceforth let the porcelain for the palace be of the blue of the heavens after the rain! ” and by this rare and melting blue is his dynasty thereafter recognized.
In the ceramic art no chapters are so interesting as those of the Orient. Its genius seems to have been especially there. Vast towers of porcelain have been built there, and it is known that the walls of cities, like ancient Ecbatana, displayed the gorgeous spectacle of painting in seven colors, doubtless upon glazed terra cotta. The inspection of all primitive civilizations shows that the fabrication of utensils of clay is almost as early an instinct as the building of huts for shelter. It is impossible, therefore, to establish the date and locality of its first invention. China has this credit only because it has the oldest preserved records. It has, however, the legitimate title to confer its name upon the most valuable forms of the production in having pushed the art to its highest development,—delicacies of material, design, and color which have never been equaled, and which it is impossible to contemplate without the gravest doubts about the popular rating in civilization of a people capable of works of such power and feeling.
About one half of M. Jacquemart’s space is devoted to the styles of antiquity and the Middle Ages. Modern times and the greater part of ceramics as we know them begin with the discovery by Della Robbia of a tin enamel in the middle of the fifteenth century, the height of the Italian Renaissance, which was as fruitful in this direction as in every other. The triumphs of the art till the end of the seventeenth century were attained in majolica and faience, stone-wares. The secret of porcelain was not discovered till late, and after laborious researches and happy accidents, which caused the process to be long shrouded in the closest mystery, and its products to be esteemed at more than their weight in gold. This Western development was independent and had nothing but itself to thank for its success. Yet no sooner was it in existence than the Eastern sentiment came and took possession of it, as if claiming the art for its own wherever found. The tendrils of Persian ornament, imitated from textile staffs and what few patterns could he obtained, twined inextricably around it and have never let go their hold. This influence gives a unity to the whole which is agreeable to follow.
The pictorial embellishments of this volume vender it a work of great value, irrespective of the letterpress. An original plate fortunately needs no translator. There are two hundred wood-cuts by Catenassi and Jules Jacqnemart, and one thousand marks and monograms, but particularly twelve exquisite etchings in aquafortis by Jules Jacqucmart. This artist, the son of Albert ,Jacqucmart, the author, is spoken of by Hamerton as “the most marvelous etcher of still-life who has ever existed in the world.” The present plates are in hishest manner, and have no little to do with fixing the important rank of the publication.
They are drawings after rare specimens in the most precious private collections,— an Arabian votive lamp, a majolica ewer of Urbino, a sugar castor of Moustiero, a teapot and cup in old porcelain of China. The genius of the artist appears to revel deliciously in the sentiment of these dainty subjects. He follows all their delicate involutions of pattern and contrasts of tints with the greatest tenderness. What has the draughtsman of such subjects to do ? To render blues, yellows, pinks, and subtle gradations of each in a sober correlative scale of black and white. What device is accessible to show the contrast of colors of the same depth in their own kind ? MJacquemart’s preoccupation with this problem of local color leaves a pleasing gravity in the work. There is no straining after bulging projection. The effect of roundness is left to he expressed, as it safely may, by the quaint foreshortening of the figures and patterns as they retire from the eye around the curving surface.
— To recur again to the Centennial, as one can hardly help doing in any questions of art of the present times, the East saw there with surprise, and perhaps a little confusion, the progress made by some Western localities in certain artistic directions. The school of Cincinnati, the centre of this enlightened interest, furnished specimens of wood-carving and ceramic decoration which were not vigorous in design, hut were highly commendable for their very existence in a period which, besides them, had scarcely anything at all to show. The issuing of a little text - book9 for use in the prevalent, mania for “art pottery” will assist in retaining for Cincinnati the prominence already acquired.
Miss McLaughlin is entirely practical. She concerns herself with the most useful palettes of colors, their manipulation, and the most practicable methods of firing the pieces after they are painted. At present the art of painting in vitrifiablc colors cannot flourish greatly except where there are potteries accessible. Almost her only disquisition, which it is to he hoped may be heeded, is an insistence upon the indispensable use of drawing. “ The eye and hand must be trained and the taste cultivated before any result worthy of the name can be achieved.” This lesson will be forced upon a large number of thwarted practitioners during the present fashion, and, with a better comprehension of the real genius of the achievements in ceramic art, will perhaps, instead of the production of astonishing works, constitute its value,
— The first number of The Wild Flowers of America (noticed in the Atlantic for February) led us, from its general excellence, to look forward eagerly to the second issue. Our pleasant anticipations have not been disappointed. There are four colored plates of native plants: the iris versicolor, or larger blue flag; the arrow-leaved violet, and with this a pretty little early sedge, the carex virginiea ; the lance-leaved loosestrife ; and the rudbeckia cobunnaris, or columnar cone-flower. The last is a native of the Northwestern States and possibly unfamiliar to our readers, though its relative, the beautiful rudbeckia hirta, well known to lovers of wild flowers, has within a few years become naturalized in the Eastern States. Rudbeckia columnaris, a handsome, showy, composite flower, takes its name from its tall, column-like receptacle. It is an instance of the vicissitudes of life. It was first known as a species of the genus lepachys, but is now referred to the genus rudbeckia, a rise or fall in rank (in this case we do not know which) that is apt to occur in the experience of plants as well as in that of human beings. Lance-leaved loosestrife, too, has just been restored by Dr. Gray to its rightful position as member of a separate genus, after having passed through a period of humiliation as species of a subgerms.
But the more interesting notices are those of the blue flag and the lance-leaved violet; for besides describing their appearance, their haunts, and their relationship to other plants, Dr. Goodale gives us an insight into the meaning of their structure, and shows us how curiously, in each case, this is adapted to an end, that is, that of securing cross fertilization. At first sight it would seem that iu no possible way could the pollen from the anthers tied access to the stigma; for in the blue flag, the anthers or pollen sacs are carefully, almost perversely, turned awav from the stigma, and, more than this, are separated from it by a projecting shelf that forms an intervening wall, while in the violet they line the inside of a funnel which is completely closed by the style. But the path of the insect, the little bearer of pollen from one flower to another, is from the first made absolutely unmistakable by artful deviees of sweet, attractive nectar hidden in the depths of the blossom, and colored petals so arranged as to lead to this by the most convenient route. Nothing in the economy of plants is more fascinating than these pretty and skillful contrivances to secure the.continuance of life.
The violet has a double arrangement for this purpose. Besides the purple blossoms that we know, there are others, plain and inconspicuous, growing among the leaves near the ground. These seem to he more fertile than the first, and this is strange, since they are cleistogamous or close fertilizing. Perhaps we have caught the violet at a period of transition from a state in which close fertilization is the rule to one where cross fertilization is to prevail. Then the violet has a simple contrivance by which the ripe capsule throws its seed to a distance.
All these facts are presented in the text in a clear and vivid way which adds a new charm to the subject. The plates are chromo - lithographs from drawings by Mr. Sprague. The drawing is as usual excellent, but it seems to us that the color and shading are not true to nature, especially in the leaves. Here the present number falls below the firsr. In other respects it is a pleasure to the eye as well as to the mind.
— The fascinations in binding, letterpress, and illustrations of the two unique and charming quartos, Doings of the Bodley Family in Town and Country,10 and The Bodleys Telling Stories,11 have been so universally dwelt upon by ihe press that as the volumes are to be seen in every bookstore, and have already taken captive many a household, we need only allude to them here. Their author is the most serene and non-sensational story-teller for children, and therefore the best antidote for Oliver Optic & Co.’s “ fire-water ” that we have; he does everything with the complete finish that characterizes the work of those only who see their end from the beginning, and so are never in a hurry. He photographs his scenes on the reader’s mind as perfectly as the sun would do it, on a prepared plate, and apparently for the same reason,— he cannot help it. There are a thousand touches as exact and characteristic as these : “ The trough was nearly fall, anrl a green border lined the edges, and on the sides and bottom there was a green moss growing, which gently waved its languid arms when the children dabbled in the water with their hands ; for the trough had been there many years, and no one had disturbed the moss. . . . The carry-all stood out-of-doors, backed on to the border of a flower-bed, and stretching out its shafts in a comfortable, afterdinner fashion; but the horse was in his stall, and Martin was in the hay-loft.” “ The ground of the lien-yard was riddled with countless scratches, and the hens and the roosters fluttered about, picking up the com that the children scattered, all of them running hastily after each handful, as if this time they were going to uct something especially good, though a few prudent ones remained busily picking over the last scatter.” “ D. Scupper’s store was a square, thick-set building, near the end of a road, which, after coming all the way over from Hyannis, and taking pains to go round an immense bowlder that refused to get out of the way, found itself stopped dead by a bank that stumbled off into the water, and so, being disinclined to go back to Hyannis, sauntered about the Point a little, and made itsedf convenient for a few houses and sheds.”
The characters and events of the story are as pleasing specimens of every-day humanity and its “ common lot ” as are the descriptions of the every - day world. The sensible, sympathizing father, the comfortable mother, their young children, —ready, inventive, irrepressible Phippy; important but manly and generous little Nathan; tender, timid little Lucy, — their roguish and good-natured college cousin Ned, the hired man Martin, his mythical friend “ Hen,” Mr. Bottom the horse, the pig that Nathan bought with his own money, and fed and fattened so assiduously in order to sell him to his father in the fall, — these are the innocent personages of the tale, which meanders along with its innocent episodes, like a deliberate brook that stops every once in a while to collect itself into a quiet pool. The death of a turkey-chick, a play at Indians in a little grove not far from the house, Nathan’s attempting to enact Professor Wise and fly down with an umbrella ns a parachute from the roof of the pig sty, and his consequent sprained ankle, a winter coast with their cousin, — such are the eminently non-heroic incidents that find their daily counterparts in thousands of just such American families as the Bodleys. We fear that not many of them, however, so entirely redeem their lives from monotony and materialism as, in a quiet way, Mr. and Mrs. Bodley managed to do. And here comes in the greatly valuable lesson of the book. Its pages are, yet as if unconsciously, steeped in the atmosphere of American history. Their home is in the suburbs of Boston, and Mr. Bodley takes his children on several historical drives in order to show them all the. places and buildings in or near the city that were at all connected with the Revolution, — drives which might he repeated by organizers of children’s picnics and excursions, and certainly by every father of a family living just out of Boston who owns a carryall, to great advantage. Most vivid and beautiful sketches are given of General Warren, the brave orator of Boston, and of Patrick Henry, the inspired one of Virginia; the children are so familiar with the early story of their country that their plays are full of it. “ Sometimes they were Northmen just landed; sometimes they were a party from Plymouth on the lookout for Indians; sometimes they were judges hiding from English officers; and sometimes they were Revolutionary soldiers and their families, guarding themselves against attack from the enemy.” Some of the episodes related— as the history of the ship Constitution and the story of the exploit of the Americans against the Algerine pirates — will be as new to many parents as they are to their children; arid amid the shameful American neglect of what should he the dearest study to us in the world, that of our national history, these popular hooks may do much toward reawakening in the land that love and pride in our country and in its great historic names which have too long been in a heavy slumber among us.
Beside the historical conversations, the Bodleys often entertain each other with stories and recitations in prose and verse, and we entirely agree with the author in the high importance he evidently attaches to the practice of committing to memory poems and parts of memorable speeches, and of reciting them in school and in the family. It is a precious fertilizer of the mind and heart, and quickener of the fancy, that of late years has been too much crowded out by technicalities and definitions, “ barren, hard, and dry as stubble wheat.” Longfellow’s Skeleton in Armor, Browning’s Pied Piper of Hamelin, Cowper’s John Gilpin, several heroic ballads from Percy’s Reliques, and a variety of humorous poems, — some apparently original and some selected, — The Story of the Little Rid Hin, The Battle of Bumble-Bug and Bumble-Bee, Harry O’ Hum, Picture Bob and his Wonderful Cob, etc., enliven the beguiling pages of these delightful books. But the highest favor the author confers in this way, either upon children or their elders, is in his rescue from neglect and forgetfulness of the fairy poems, with their exqui-ite illustrations, of the most delicate genius that America, the home of delicate and ethereal genius, has yet produced : Miss Aunette Bishop, —alas, too little known, too early dead !
In the preface the author says : “ It is hardly likely that her scattered poems and pictures will ever be brought together into a volume, and the writer has introduced them here, hoping thus to please another generation of children than those who first enjoyed them.” All thanks and honor for the appreciation and the rescue, but how strange and sad that such work as this should only by favor of a brother author, as it were, he lifted out of oblivion ! The very spirit and witchery of the elfinland dwelt in this fairy pencil, and the dainty poems are fitting accompaniments. Taken together, nothing so nearly embodying the grace, perfection, and ideality of a flower was ever conceived and brought forth by human brain. —Mr. Warner is happy in a singularly fortunate title for his book on boyhood; 12 in a time when brains are cudgeled to invent bizarre and striking names, he has had the luck to find one that is not only very pretty and taking, but that accurately describes his charming little study. There is no continuous narrative; there is scarcely an incidental story or record of adventure in the volume ; the boy John is not even surnamed; what is expressed is the essence of a country hoy’s life in a New England hill town thirty or forty years ago. In the process, many facts must be stated, but they arc those which characterize the average boy John rather than any particular boy John. Being a Boy, in fine, is what almost any one remembers about Having Been a Boy. The reminiscences are not sentimentalized, but they are touched with the greatest tenderness,—with the kind of compassion which one feels for one’s own childhood, the sort of smiling regret one has for it. Something at once very delicate and very free is in the recognition of the narrowness of past joys and hardships; a humorous surprise that they should ever have sufficed to elate or depress, and a gentle wonder that one should have been the restricted being one remembers. But this is only one trait of the study, which is as fur as possible from aiming at the reader’s sensibilities. It is full of delight in the summer and winter surroundings of this average boy, and of love of nature revealing itself in bits of sympathetic description, which brighten and not, as description so often docs, burden the page. The boy is a good fellow, because most boys are so ; and he is a little cruel and a little lazy because most boys are thoughtless and occupied with their own affairs to the exclusion of the work they are set to do. The work John was set to do was what a less rigorous and more enlightened generation would think rather too much for a boy, and his friend ami historian justly satirizes the impression once prevailing (perhaps it still prevails in the country), that because his duties were all desultory he never needed a thorough and Stated rest. His enjoy - ments are all sketched or intimated in Mr. Warner’s lightest and pleasantest manner, with that constant humorous insinuation which is the principal charm of his manner. Thanksgiving, Coasting, a children’s party, sugar-making, the artillery company, woodchuck hunting, fishing, — these were the delights, few and simple, which brightened John’s year, somewhat overfull otherwise of hay spreading in the summer, foddering of cattle in the winter, and going for the cows, and turning the grindstone at all times; and we commend the good taste and the good heart with which these things are. treated to grown people sick of the vulgarity and foolishness of most books for and about children. A boy, too, may read the whole book without getting any nonsense from it into his head. It is clean, wholesome, and refined, and recognizes without mawkishness the many gentle and noble traits of a manly boy’s character. No boy can help being better for reading this fine and humane book ; and we fancy an intelligent boy being vastly interested in it, though much of it, the humor especially, will have its best effect with his elders. Among chapters which we would particularly commend is that relating to John’s slight love-affair, which is not distorted and disproportioned as it often is by writers who wish to deal comically with such phases of boy life, but is treated with respectful delicacy, and strictly subordinated, as it should be, to nearly all his other interests ; another is the chapter which gives an account of John’s earnest endeavors to “get religion ” during a revival; this is both touching and wise, and is a suggestive color in the wholesome picture.
We have hinted that Being a Boy is a book rather for elders than for youngers; but this is to he understood only with respect to certain literary flavors which the elders have learned particularly to relish. In fact, actual experiment has taught us that it will have a charm different in kind, but not in degree, for boys, and we would gladly see it in their hands, for they can get only good from it, —politely, yet frankly suggested lessons of gentleness, kindliness, and generosity; and if they are city boys they can learn from it delightful things about the country, and add to the love for it which is horn in every true boy. It is a beautiful and amiable hook, which must become dear to its readers, young or old, as a friend becomes dear. It has a personality, sweet and charming ; and the lover of Mr. Warner’s humor will find it here in a thousand furtive turns and twinkles. What can he move like him than the postulate that the chief disadvantage of being a hoy is that it, does not last long enough ? In this all his kindly-humorous sense of the preciousness of boyhood is intimated ; it is the key-note of the book. Every one will like the tenderness with which a hoy’s sensibility is remembered in such a little story as that of the boy whom the lady mortified by her present of a cent in return for his gift of sweet-flag, and whom the “ smart” young lady insulted by asking first if his mother was well, and then, on his innocent reply, demanding if she knew whether he was out. The precepts of the book, in which boys are advised not to he cruel, or rude, or false, are in that tone of sarcastic appeal to a boy’s good sense which touches him more keenly than any moralizing, and awakens in him that abhorrence of meanness which is one of his best safeguards. We cannot quote from the book as we could wish, in proof its abounding humor, humanity, and grace, and must content ourselves with referring our readers to it as something which is as good in quality as it is new in kind.
— German novels have for a long time been popular among American readers, who have swallowed indiscriminately whatever publishers have seen fit to give them; but among the rather motley collection thus made, Werner’s novels deserve good mention. Vineta,13 the last one to appear, is certainly readable. It deals mainly with life near the Polish frontier during the revolution of rather more than a dozen years ago, hut it is by no means filled with matters not belonging to a novel. On the contrary, the usual subject of fiction has due prominence, and a new turn is given to the story of the young girl with two lovers, to which the picture of political intrigue and rebellion forms an impressive background. Often in German novels there is to be noticed a tendency to exaggerate the qualities of the different characters: the indolent man, for example, never lifts a finger ; the rough man is always rough as truly as the genteel lady of the game is always genteel; but here there is no such working in plain tints without lights and shadows. The mental ripening of Waldemar, the frivolity of Leo, the frankness of Wanda, were clearly seen by the author and are clearly portrayed. The plot is an ingenious one, and the chance it gives the author to draw the various conflicting interests of the ambitions princess, for instance, who is intriguing for Poland, and of her son, who is averse to such doings, of the girl who is enthusiastic in behalf of her down-trodden country, etc., has not been neglected.
There are very few recent German novels with more life in them than this. The reader does not have a sort of sympatheticpain with the subject, which is, as it were, dragged out to cover more space than it should properly do; on the contrary, there is decided repose and certainty in the author’s treatment. The legend of Vineta, it may be said, by the way, has wonderfully little to do with the story, which is good, for all that.
- The House Beautiful. By CLARENCE COOK. New York : Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. 1878↩
- The Scarlet Letter. By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. Illustrated. Boston : J. R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- Californian Pictures. Prose and Verse. By BENJAMIN PARKE AVERY. New York : Hurd and Houghton ; Cambridge: The Riverside Press. 1878.↩
- Works of William Unger: a Series of Seventy Etchings after the Old Masters. With Descriptive Text. By C. VOSMAKR. Numbers VI., VII., VIII., IX., X. New York : J. W. Bouton, Leyden : A. W. Lijthoff.↩
- A. Racinet. Costume Historique. Cinq cents Planches: trois cents en Coulenrs, Or et Argent; deux cents en Camaïeu. Avec des Notices Explicatives et une Étude Historique. 3e Livraison. Paris: Firmln Didot et Cie. 1877.↩
- L'Art. Revue hobdomadaire illustrée. Paris : A. Ballue.↩
- A Journey of an Architect in the Northwest of Europe. Translated from the French of FELIX NARJOUX, by JOHN PETO. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- History of the Ceramic Art. By ALBERT JACQUE MART. Translated by MRS. BURY PALLISER. New York : Scribner, Armstrong, & Co. London : Sampson, Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1877.↩
- China Painting. A Practieal Manual for the use of Amateurs in the Decoration of Hard Porcelain. By M. LOUISE MCLAUGHLIN. Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co. 1877.↩
- The Wild Flowers of America. Illustrations by ISAAC SPRAGUE. Text by GEORGE L. GOODALE, M. D. Part II. Cambridge: H. O. Houghton & Co. 1877.↩
- Doings of the Boriley Family in Town and Country. By the author of Dream Children, Stories from my Attic, etc., etc. New York : Hurd and Houghton ; Cambridge: The Riverside Press. 1877.↩
- The Bodleys Telling Stories. By the author of Doings of the Bodley Family in Town and Country, etc., etc. New York: Hurd and Houghton ; Cambridge: The Riverside Press. 1878.↩
- Being a Boy. By CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER. Boston : J. R. Osgood & Co. 1877.↩
- Vineta, the Phanton City. From the German of E. WERNER, Author of Good Luck, Broken Chains, etc. By FRANCES A SHAW Boston Estes and Lauriat. 1877.↩