This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
Drawing by Henry Farrer.
Pen Drawings by Daniel Vierge.
London readers of Arts & Crafts who are studying drawing in pen and ink for illustration should not miss the present opportunity of studying at the International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers' Exhibition, at the New Gallery, in Regent-street, the original drawings by Vierge of some of his illustrations to "Pablo di Segovia." They will especially find it interesting, we think, to compare the finished drawing there of the incident in the Barber's Shop with the artist's first conception of the scene, which we reproduce on the opposite page. In several points of detail it will be noticed that these two drawings differ, but in the large and small paper editions of the book the variations in this same illustration are much greater.
Indeed the composition is quite different. In the small paper edition the customer's face is hidden by the extension of the arms of the barber who is shaving him, the backs of both men being turned to the spectator. The young rascal behind the chair has already picked the customer's pocket, and is handing the wallet to a woman who stoops at the half-opened door to receive it, the door being to the kit of the picture, instead of to the right, as in the original chawing. The fellow droning at the window is twanging away at a big mandolin, instead of a guitar, and there are many other points of difference. It is understood that we are not referring now to the drawing at the New Gallery. That was the one made for the large paper edition. Both editions, by the way, are now out of print. For purposes "of study, our illustration is superior to the one at the New Gallery, for it shows the art of Vierge before his illness. Afterwards he seems to have lost his knack of giving colour in a drawing by just two or three touches of "solid" black, and used the black much more freely - but still skilfully.
Our drawing offers a valuable study in the use of pure outline. Remark the knowing introduction of detail wherever it may serve to define the nature of an object or to give a suggestion of colour - the nail heads on the chair, the braid on the man's hat, the tie of his shoe. Take out the nail heads and the chair will not define itself nearly so well. Observe how carefully the perspective of the whole interior has been indicated - the chairs, foot-rest, shelf, and doors, at different angles to one another. The pencil outline has been partly rubbed out preparatory to the pen-work, which was not carried to completion: hence, certain details are lacking, as the feet of the man with the mandolin. As published, the two principal figures are relieved by a mass of shading, useful to distinguish them on the small scale to which the drawing has been reduced in the book, but the original sketch - we give it full size - seems the better composition.
The usual scheme of Vierge was to get some telling bits of dark local colour near the centre of his composition, to surround them with pale luminous shadows, and vignette the subject off into more or less broken outline. In the barber's shop drawing, the barber's black hair and his customer's breeches give the vigorous touches of local colour in the centre, and in the finished drawing they are supported by shading, nowhere carried to the limits of the design. The scheme is simplicity itself; but it requires very great knowledge of form to obtain the results that Vierge got from it. Continual practice is the only way to gain this knowledge. Very often the impression of local colour is gained by elaboration of detail; thus, a whitewashed wall in sunlight will be left almost blank, while the tiled roof above it will have nearly every tile indicated. Detail is also used to give richness, and, therefore, importance to certain parts of a composition.
As a study of sunlight and open-air feeling, it would be difficult to find a finer example of pen-drawing than the double-page illustration we give by Vierge. It is of his best period. We need not guess at the time of the day by the disposition of the shadows. The scene is flooded with sunshine, which almost makes one blink. Close one eye and note how admirable is the perspective. Could a painter define the planes more accurately? The height of the lady tripping over the pavement, by actual measurement is less than half of that of the sturdy beggar to the left of the picture, but there is no room to doubt its absolute correctness; nor does the use of a mass of "solid" black for her cloak tend to throw her too near the foreground, as might easily have resulted from a less skilful technical treatment. Note how cleverly the blacks are balanced.
We have protested more than once against the unintelligent manner in which pen-drawing at present is taught in our schools, without the least discrimination as to light, colour, or texture. If in our strictures we have hitherto failed in any quarter to make our meaning clear, let the study of these drawings by a great master in black and white correct the omission.
The portrait we give of Vierge, engraved after a sketch by himself, shows him as he appeared shortly before his death, after he had recovered from his long illness, but not from the effects of the cruel stroke of paralysis which deprived him of the use of his right hand, as well as of his memory of all occurrences prior to the period of the attack. As we have remarked in a previous notice, he had to begin to draw again, just like a child, and with the left hand.
IN looking at any work of art, try to concentrate your whole attention on it. It is only by doing this that you will be able to understand it. You cannot read two books at a time. No more can you look simultaneously at two pictures.
The Original Conception for an Illustration for "Pablo di Segovia." By Daniel Vierge.
Compare with the Finished Drawing at the Exhibition of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers.
Beggars At The Gateway Of A Spanish Cathedral By Daniel Vierge
First Steps in Enamelling on Metal.