This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
A Correspondent who signs himself "Shibuichi," kindly calls attention to some typographical errors in our recent illustrated notice of " Tsubas," by which the names of the artists, Kineiye, Takechika and Yoshihiro were rendered, respectively, "Kineive," "Takeshika" and "Yoshikiro." Such slips are regretable, but I fear are but too likely to occur until Japanese is made " compulsory " for compositors and proof-readers. But our correspondent also criticises the phrase "a precious black alloy, called shakudo." He says: -
Shakudo is not black, nor can it properly be described as precious. It is an alloy of copper and gold, never containing even in the finest specimens more than 7 per cent. of gold, and the average amount in various specimens has been found to be about 2 1/2 per cent.
It owes its value as a material to the fact that with proper treatment a magnificent black patina can be developed on its surface, but the colour of the alloy itself is scarcely to be distinguished from that of pure copper.
With all due respect to our correspondent, I would say that shakudo is composed of varying amounts of tin, zinc, silver and gold, and, in small quantity, lead, iron and arsenic. Instead of the gold forming only an insignificant part of the alloy, as he represents to be the case, the colour is due to the gold, which sometimes amounts to 20 per cent. of the whole. What is called "black shakudo," of course, is only a deep purple. Shakudo is a gold bronze, just as the alloy whose name our correspondent adopts as a " nom de guerre" is a silver bronze. He will notice, by the way, that we prefer to write the word " Shibuitshi," which seems to be the usage of experts like Mr. Bing, of Paris. Apparently, it is as hopeless to look for agreement as to the proper phonetic rendering of certain Japanese technical terms as it is with the names of certain Chinese Emperors one has to quote sometimes in cataloguing old porcelains.
Speaking of old porcelains recalls the exceedingly fine exhibition at the galleries of Messrs. Duveen, which, it would be pleasant to think, is but the first of a series. It might be followed, for instance, by a collection of single-colour porcelains as distinguished as this one of decorated pieces. The superb vase of sang-de-boeuf that was shown on the occasion referred to might be made the nucleus of a display of the whole gamut of the glorious reds of the Ming dynasty, ranging from the ruby red of "ox-blood" to the delicate " peach-bloom." It would be interesting to see what the cabinets of our collectors can yield in this way. If the proceeds of such exhibitions were, as in the case of this one at Messrs. Duveen's, to be devoted to some object of benevolence, no doubt many leading amateurs would lend their treasures. There are some always ready to let others enjoy the privilege of sharing their own enjoyment of them. On the other hand, there are others who will not even let it be known that they possess such things.
Of course, this is not confined to the owner of "objets d'art." There are certain fine paintings which have been bought at auction, of recent years, the record of the present ownership of which is enveloped in mystery. Take the case of the " Lady Mulgrave," by Gainsborough, sold at a record price at Christie's, out of the James Price Collection, just about ten years ago. The first bid was 5,000 guineas by Sir William Agnew. Messrs. Wallis & Sons offered 6,000. The 8,000 figure was soon reached, and finally there came from the rear of the room the offer of 10,000 guineas, and the hammer fell. An unknown gentleman went up to the auctioneer's desk and deposited, on account, a roll of banknotes. "Name, name !" was shouted from the audience. "Cash," replied Mr. Woods, and immediately added that the gentleman was "Mr. W. Campbell." Apparently that was all he knew about it, and since then I have been able to find no one who could authoritatively tell anything more on the subject.
Ox another page a small reproduction is shown of this famous painting, as it happens to be similar to a wonderful miniature painted by Gainsborough, which, about the time of the Price sale, passed through the hands of Messrs. Wallis & Sons into those of another firm of picture dealers - Messrs. Boussod, Valadon & Co., if I remember aright - who sold it to Mr. George J. Gould, the New York millionaire, who gave it to his wife as a birthday present. I once had the privilege of holding it for a lew minutes, and my vivid recollection of the exquisite little picture suggests a few words of comment on a remark by Mr. Alyn Williams, made in Or. Williamson's book, reviewed last month in Arts & Crafts. "All the great miniature painters on ivory of bygone days," he says, "finished their flesh by stippling, and what better precedent can our modern artists have ?" I would reply that, beyond a certain point, an artist's method of expressing himself cannot be controlled by rule or precedent. It must depend largely on temperament and technical limitations. The "great miniaturists" of the Regency were contemporaries of Reynolds and Gainsborough as well as of Cipriani and Angelica Kauffmann, and, if their art is suggestive of the latter rather than of the former, it was probably because the prettiness of their genre had most in common with the Bartolozzi school of stipple. They were miniature painters, and miniature painters only, and did their best. But it was not great art. What a difference we see when a Gainsborough turns miniature painter ! The miniature of Lady Mulgrave, to which I have referred, is as broadly painted in every way, and is just as characteristic of the artist as his portrait in oil of the same beautiful sitter. The same principle applies to the little Dutch masters and to that greatest of modern miniature painters, Meissonier. The Editor.