This section is from the "The elements of drawing & the elements of perspective" book, by J. M. Dent & Sons. Also see Amazon: The Elements Of Drawing & The Elements Of Perspective.
Secondly, of published, or otherwise multiplied, art, such as you may be able to get yourself, or to see at private houses or in shops, the works of the following masters are the most desirable, after the Turners, Rembrandts, and Durers, which I have asked you to get first: I. Samuel Prout.
All his published lithographic sketches are of the greatest value, wholly unrivalled in power of composition, and in love and feeling of architectural subject. His somewhat mannered linear execution, though not to be imitated in your own sketches from Nature, may be occasionally copied, for discipline's sake, with great advantage; it will give you a peculiar steadiness of hand, not quickly attainable in any other way; and there is no fear of your getting into any faultful mannerism as long as you carry out the different modes of more delicate study above recommended.
If you are interested in architecture, and wish to make it your chief study, you should draw much from photographs of it; and then from the architecture itself with the same completion of detail and gradation, only keeping the shadows of due paleness, in photographs they are always about four times as dark as they ought to be; and treat buildings with as much care and love as artists do their rock foregrounds, drawing all the mass, and weeds, and stains upon them. But if, without caring to understand architecture, you merely want the picturesque character of it, and to be able to sketch it fast, you cannot do better than take Prout for your exclusive master; only do not think that you are copying Prout by drawing straight lines with dots at the end of them. Get first his Rhine, and draw the subjects that have most hills, and least architecture in them, with chalk on smooth paper, till you can lay on his broad flat tints, and yet his gradations of light, which are very wonderful; then take up the architectural subjects in the Rhine, and draw again and again the groups of figures, c, in his Microcosm, and Lessons on Light and Shadow. After that, proceed to copy the grand subjects in the sketches in Flanders and Germany; or in Switzerland and Italy, if you cannot get the Flanders; but the Switzerland is very far inferior. Then work from Nature, not trying to Proutise Nature, by breaking smooth buildings into rough ones, but only drawing what you see, with Prout's simple method and firm lines. Don't copy his coloured works. They are good, but not at all equal to his chalk and pencil drawings, and you will become a mere imitator, and a very feeble imitator, if you use colour at all in Prout's method. I have not space to explain why this is so, it would take a long piece of reasoning; trust me for the statement.
2. John Lewis.
His sketches in Spain, lithographed by himself, are very valuable. Get them, if you can, and also some engravings (about eight or ten, I think, altogether) of wild beasts, executed by his own hand a long time ago; they are very precious in everyway. The series of the Alhambra is rather slight, and few of the subjects are l.thographed by himself; still it is well worth having.
Hut let no lithographic work come into the house, if you can help it, nor even look at any, except Prout's, and those sketches of Lewis's.
3. George Cruikshank.
If you ever happen to meet with the two volumes of Grimm's German Stories, which were illnstiatect by him long ago, pounce upon them instantly; the etchings in them are the finest things, next to Rembrandt's, that, as far as I know, have been done since etching was invented. You cannot look at them too much, nor copy them too often.
All his works are very valuable, though disagreeable when they touch on the worst vulgarities of modern life; and often much spoiled by a curiouslv mistaken type of face, divided so as to give too much to the mouth and e\es and leave too little for forehead, the eyes being set about two thirds up, ins ead of at half the height of the head. But his manner of work is always right; and his tragic power, though rarely developed, and warped by habits of caricature, is, in reality, as great as his grotesque power.
There is no fear of his hurting your taste, as long as your principal work lies among art of so totally different a character as most of that which I have recommended to you; and, you may, therefore, get great good by copying almost anything of his that may come in your way; except only his illustrations, lately published, to Cinderella, and Jack and the Bean-stalk, and Tom Thumb, which are much over-laboured, and confused in line. You should get them, but do not copy them.
4. Alfred Rethel.
I only know two publications by him; one, the Dance of Death, with text by Reinick, published in Leipsic, but to be had now of any London bookseller for the sum, I believe, of eighteen pence, and containing six plates full of instructive character; the other, of two plates only, Death the Avenger, and Death the Friend. These two are far superior to the Todtentanz,' and, if you can get them, will be enough in themselves to show all that Rethel can teach you. If you dislike ghastly subjects, get Death the Friend only.
The execution of the plumage in Bewick's birds is the most masterly thing ever yet done in wood-cutting; it is just worked as Paul Veronese would have worked in wood, had he taken to it. His vignettes, though too coarse in execution, and vulgar in types of form, to be good copies, show, nevertheless, intellectual power of the highest order; and there are pieces of sentiment in them, either pathetic or satirical, which have never since been equalled in illustrations of this simple kind; the bitter intensity of the feeling being just like that which characterises some of the leading Pre-Raphaelites. Bewick is the Burns of painting.