This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
The drawings in the present number of the magazine offer, for the purposes of the student of illustration, an unusual variety of examples of technique. Most generally interesting, no doubt, are the illustrations by the late Adolph F. Menzel, by reason of the deservedly high reputation of the artist, although, from the standpoint of mere execution, they are perhaps not the most important. We have it on the authority of Mr. Joseph Pennell that the famous German illustrator did not use pen and ink for his drawings for "The Works of Frederick the Great," but a hard lead-pencil. It is not easy to accept, however, the examples shown on the opposite page as belonging to that category, for the technique has all the appearance of a pen and ink origin. On the other hand, the "Trumpeter" (page 238), from "Uniforms of the Army of Frederick the Great," which evidently was done in pen and ink, was made for lithographic reproduction, and the technical conditions of that process, with the inevitable thickening of lines, is by no means favourable to good technique. But, coarse as it is in execution, one can but admire the excellence of the drawing and its expression of character. The colour relations, too, are skilfully suggested. We can see the man's coat is lighter in tone than his face; his gloves and close-fitting buckskin breeches are both probably pipe-clayed. Textures, too, are well distinguished: the rough fur of his hat, the feathers of his panache, the polished metal of his trumpet, and the shine of his boots. But these are mere details which might be as well, if not better, expressed by a draughtsman merely clever in technique. It is in his consummate knowledge, invention, expressiveness, and in his concentration of effect, that one recognises the great illustrator.
How admirable in all respects is the drawing of the runaway. One almost hears the wheels swiftly rattling over the rough road, and knows not which to admire the more - the life-like action of the bolting horses, or the expression of the lady and the expressive motion with which she gathers up her skirts preparatory to the desperate plunge she is about to take. Is not this almost perfection in illustration ? Who is there, in this country at least, to take the place of such a master ? What can we find in all our English books and magazines of to-day to compare with such work as this, so replete with talent, imagination, and scholarly draughtsmanship ?
After the contemplation of the work of a genius like Menzel, one hesitates to turn to the simple daffodils by E. M. Hallowell and Victor Dangon; but these artists each has an excellence of his own, from which a student of the technique of pen-drawing has much to learn. Every leaf and petal is modelled with the skill of the practised draughtsman who, with a genuine feeling for nature, knows the anatomy of flowers as a surgeon knows that of the human body.
In the pen study of "A Russian," by Dienay, we have skill of another kind, and of a high order. This is not only admirable as a pen-drawing, but as a study of character it is full of life and expression. The drawing is unexceptionable. Note the modelling, especially of the brow and of the cheeks; in fact, the bony construction is felt throughout. The economy in drawing, too, except in places where the drawing is especially made to tell, as in the stronger shadows of the face, is worthy of remark. It will be observed that close scrutiny reveals almost an absence of eyebrow above the right eye, and there is hardly any outline to the nose; but, nevertheless, it will be seen that the drawing is singularly complete. The broken appearance of the lines in the shading of the flesh is due to the use of the roulette, which, as we have explained before, is a little spur-like wheel, which is run over, to soften, certain lines which would otherwise be too prominent on the plate. The reproduction, we need hardly point out, is much smaller than the original drawing.