This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
By Lewis F. Day.
That "in modern days we seem to have lost sight of the artistic possibilities of lettering in decoration " is somewhat less apparent than it was when Mr. Day penned the observation, two or three years ago; but that our craftsmen still are very far from availing themselves of their opportunities in this respect is but too evident. It is not easy to account for the neglect, for that lettering has a distinct decorative value of its own must be evident to anyone who is acquainted, even slightly, with the work of good craftsmen of past ages. Perhaps, with the growth of popular education, the alphabet gradually came to be looked upon as "too common" to be tolerated as ornament. In olden times, it had been regarded with a reverential feeling, akin to awe, associated as it was with the mysteries of the Church and the learning of the privileged classes, and then there seems to have come a reaction, due, possibly, to the familiarity which breeds contempt.
Well-formed and well-spaced lettering has from the earliest times afforded the most satisfactory way of breaking a surface, and Mr. Day cites examples of Egyptian mummy cases, carved reliefs from Nineveh, ivories from Byzantium, coins from Greece and Syracuse, pottery, Gothic glass and tapestry, church embroidery and furniture, leather bindings, locksmith's and goldsmith's work. In fact, "in all manner of craftsmanship, in the decoration of the manuscripts and books of all times, and on the seals and signet rings of all peoples, lettering in some form, often a very emphatic one, plays a decorative part." In what is called Arab art, lettering is one of the most striking features. The ancient followers of the Prophet, being forbidden to represent any living creature, but desiring to express themselves in design, lavished their ingenuity on those wonderful geometric patterns which still arouse our admiration and on such decorative use of lettering as has not been surpassed.
But that Occidental art need not be, nor has ever been, under any disadvantage by reason of its alphabets differing from those of Oriental nations, is shown by illustrations, ranging from a Renaissance bronze medal by Pisano to a " Perseus " composition by Burne-Jones. The chapters on Monograms and Cyphers abound in similar illustrations, marked by the author's unerring taste in selection, whether they be taken from the Chateau d'Anet of Diane de Poictiers, or from a page of decoration by Walter Crane. Nor must we forget to mention Mr. Day's designs, which meander pleasantly through the volume and flow over into the lining, where we have a diaper design made up alternately of the monograms of the author and of that of his sympathetic publisher. (London: B. T. Batsford. 94, High Holborn. Price 5s. net).
The Home Mechanic, which has for a sub-title " How to Put Things Right Oneself," would seem to be just what was needed in this way by the young amateur, for this is the second edition of the book. It is thoroughly practical, clearly written and even interesting, for Mr. John Wright is evidently a very master of crafts, with all their " secrets" and resources at his finger ends.
He has above all recognised the fact that while there are other good books for the guidance of the amateur mechanic, they are nearly all too advanced for a beginner. This is especially the case in regard to the use of the lathe. While simplifying instructions, however, Mr. Wright gives the amateur no reason to hope that success at it may be reached by any royal road. He premises him that with patience and perseverance he will become a superior workmen - better than the average " skilled mechanic" - but he reminds him that" he might just as well try to learn spherical trigonometry before he had learned arithmetic as to try to be a skilful amateur turner before he can use a file or a plane." (London: John Murray, Albemarle Street, Price 0- net.)
The Year's Art for 1905 begins the second quarter of a century of this very useful publication, which is more complete than ever. The Directory of Artists and Art Workers, although containing some 7,000 names, of course does not nearly exhaust the possibilities of such a list, but it is very valuable
Books So Far Reviewed, And Selected For Our Art Workers And Art Lover's Library.
"Figure Drawing" .....
Richd. G. Hatton
Chapman & Hall, Henrietta Street Covent Garden..
Vol. II., No. 8.
" Modelling " (2 vols.) ....
„ No. 9.
"Handbook of Plant-form"...
Ernest E. Clark
B. T. Batsford, 94. High Holborn
5 - net
•Ornament and its Application" ..
Lewis F. Day ...
"Silverwork And Jewellery"
H. Wilson .....
John Hogg, 13, Paternoster Row ...
5 - net
"Art Enamelling upon Metals" ..
Henry Cunynhame ..
Archibald Constable & Co., 1, Whitehall Gardens,S.W.
" Wood-carving "......
George Jack ...
John Hogg ...........
Douglas Cockerill ..
George newnes Ltd.
"G. F. Watts" ......
West and Pantini
George Newnes, Ltd.......
„ No. 9.
"How to Identify Portrait Minia tures" ........
George Williamson ..
Geo. Bell & Sons, Portugal Street. W.C....
" Japanese Colour Prints" ...
Edward F. Strange ..
Victoria and Albert Museum Hand-book
" Elementary Design "....
C. F. Dawson'
Chapman & Halt, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden .
„ No. 11.
John Carroll ..
Burns & Oates, 28, Orchard Street, W.....
„ No. 11.
as it is. Due attention has been paid to the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Administration of the Chantrey Bequest, and admirable portraits are given of the members of it. The part taken by our countrymen at the St. Louis Exhibition is recorded. It would have been interesting to have found also a report of the conclusions arrived at by the important Educational Congress at Berne, which many of our English art masters attended, for the results of its deliberations are likely to be far-reaching in this country in the near future. But the great field that might possibly be covered by The Year's Art must, of course, have its limits, and it seems almost ungracious to suggest further extension of the already wide scope of the book, many excellent features of which we have not been able even to mention. (London: Hutchinson & Co., Price 3/6 net.)
The Public Schools Year Book, which has reached its sixtieth issue, is invaluable to parents and others in need of information about schools. A useful list of preparatory schools is added. It is gratifying to note that the same publishers have in preparation a Girls' School Year Book.