This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
This magazine completes its first year with the present issue, and it is highly gratifying to say that its cordial reception by the public has more than realised the hopes of its proprietor. It is rare indeed for a new publication in so short a time to have taken so firm a hold on its constituency. But it is realised that much more may be done to make it useful to both amateur and art worker, and, with this aim in view, suggestions from our readers are cordially invited.
With an ardour worthy of the great Togo, my esteemed correspondent "Shibuichi" returns to the controversy as to the proper spelling of his "nom-de-guerre," and as to the propriety of calling shibuichi and shakudo "precious alloys." If this magazine were intended mainly for the connoisseur, instead of being for the art worker, I would gladly reproduce his interesting and learned letter - Japanese characters and all - but as it would more than fill this page I would hardly be justified in doing so. Let it suffice to say that, while I am afraid I am unconvinced in regard to shakudo, I learn from his letter with profound satisfaction that there is a "system of transliterating Japanese words into English"; that the French spelling of shibuichi is a delusion and a snare, and I promise - even at the risk of endangering the "entente cordiale" - never, no never, to employ that gallicism again. And now, as some of our contemporaries would say, "this discussion must cease."
Together with the sober-minded critic's just appreciation of the genius of Whistler, there has been so much hysterical and utterly unintelligent laudation of everything that was shown of his at the recent memorial exhibition of his work at the New Gallery, that we are glad to reproduce from The Morning Post's report of Mr. D. S. MacColl's last lecture on "The History of English Art," at University College, the following pithy sentences: - "Speaking of Whistler's methods and their deadening influences he said that the artist had a habit of mixing up quantities of colour on the palette and even filling tubes with the mixed-up tints, and of mixing black with all his colours to obtain the various values. As the students would learn by practice, colour thoroughly mixed up on the palette was a very dead thing compared with colour slightly broken painted over another or into another colour. This is peculiarly true of flesh, whose colour depends on the blood beneath the skin, so that something corresponding to these true depths must be obtained in painting if there is to be the richness of life. That is one reason that students should bear in mind when taking lessons from Whistler, and another thing to be remembered is that there is no drawing or construction to spare for the use of students in Whistler's work. There is just enough to cany his own store of beauty in design and tone."
IN connection with the above, Dr. Robert Crawford's account, in The Glasgow Evening Citizen, of " How we Bought the Whistler ' Carlyle ' " is delicious reading, for it hits off exactly the state of mind of the average Philistine in regard to the work of the famous little American. I am sorry that space cannot be spared here for the whole of the story of the mission of the envoys of the Glasgow Corporation to Whistler in his Chelsea studio. But let the following suffice: -
"Cigarettes and tea - laced, I think, by a dash of lemon and rum ('Vienna tea') - were produced, and Whistler talked - brilliant, eccentric, epigrammatic talk - very delightful and entertaining; but he shied off at the most remote allusion to business. 'The picture: yes, of course, the picture is yours. Ihe great Corporation of Glasgow - most enlightened and humane - most liberal in its ideas - certainly into no better hands can I desire to see my Carlyle placed. With great pleasure I see that many artists with whom I have not the pleasure to see eye to eye have honoured me by asking you to take my picture for your city - I honour them for this.'
"An attempt at business was met by the artist saying: ' My dear ruddy-faced Scot, what is this we are doing ? You and I will never condescend to haggle about money. If it was in my power to bestow this picture on the people of Glasgow as a gift [ would gladly do so as a proof of my appreciation of their good-judgment in desiring to possess it. They do so Choose, do they not - Alas! 1 cannot make it a gift, and I wish you to have it. What need, then, to discuss the question of money
It was arranged to see the picture the next day:
"As we were preparing to leave, my Philistine friend ventured out of the financial into the artistic arena, but was sorry for it a moment alter. ' Is it true,' said my colleague, that, as I have heard,modern pictures don't stand so well as the Old Masters ? The colours, they say, fade sooner ?'
"To which Whistler, in a perfect blizzard of intonation and gesticulation, replied: 'No, it is not true. Modern pictures do not fade, and therein lies their complete damnation ! . . . '
"Next day the two deputies called, and upstairs they saw the picture. Examining it for a little time, the Philistine cleared his throat and said in a firm voice: 'Mr. Whistler, do you call this life-size ?'
"'No, I don't,' snapped Whistler, with a gesture which said plainly: 'III could I would throw you out of the window.' There is no such thing as "life-size." If I were to place you next to that canvas and measure you, you would be a monster.'
"The Philistine comrade made one more rash conversational venture: ' The tones of this portrait are rather dull, are they not ? Not very brilliant, are they ?' he said.
" Not brilliant ! No, why should they be ? Are you brilliant ? No ! Am I brilliant ? Not at all ! We are not " highly coloured," are we? We are very, very ordinary-looking people. The picture says that and no more.' There seemed nothing more to say after that, and so the Philistine and I departed, after promising to send a cheque for the picture, highly charmed with the gay persiflage of the greatest of modern impressionists."