This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
"Necessity is the mother of invention," and if Daniel Vierge, the greatest master among modern illustrators, had not been required, at the beginning of his career, to make his "process" drawings for printing on the cheap paper of "Le Monde Illustre," of Paris, it is probable that his style would not have been quite what it was. It might have been less like the pen work of Fortunv, which, too, was affected by considerations of economv in reproduction, and more like that, for instance, of Menzel, the German; or of Abbey, the American - that "enfant gate" of illustrators, whose artistic but, technically, most erratic pen drawings for the Harpers would have been incontinently rejected by any less indulgent publishers, as impossible of reproduction. Our illustration of "The Hermit," which is the size of the original drawing, and therefore of necessity somewhat coarser in line, is a good example of the extreme simplicity of the technique of Vierge. The student of pen drawing should observe it closely, for on it are based the methods of most of the best illustrators of our day. It will be seen that the master restricted himself to simple outline for the lights, tints composed of parallel lines for shadows, and touches of solid black for accents of colour; there is very little cross-hatching.
That this drawing, although designed for "Pablo de Segovia," was never used for the purpose was probably due to the difficulty of bringing it down to the reduced scale of the illustrations finally decided on for the book. The same composition, with some slight variations in detail, appears in a pen drawing by Vierge that I saw at the " Henry Blackburn Studio" the other day, and which presumably furnished the original of the actual illustration.
Sinck writing the above I have come across, in T. P.'s Weekly, an interesting review of the career of poor Vierge, taken from "Les Annales Politiques et Litteraires": -
"He was an indefatigable worker, hut he was also an indefatigable lover of all kinds of pleasure. Under the strain his health, naturally robust, broke down, and he was abruptly seized with an attack of hemiplegia. For a time his life was in danger, and the subsequent convalescence was a very slow business - a terrible period for an active man to get through. To add to the bitterness of it, Daniel Vierge one clay discovered that his right hand was useless to him for artistic purposes - that it shook so much that to make a clear outline with it would be impossible. An ordinary man might justifiably have surrendered to adversity. Daniel Vierge, with a depressing convalescence ahead of him, simply determined, as soon as sufficient strength returned to him, to make his left hand do the work of his right. For months he struggled secretly, while apparently only engaged in taking the open-air cure and living an out-of-door existence, to train it to the same degree of efficiency. He was still living in the Latin Quarter in Paris, and he strode out every day. carrying on his shoulder - which though slightly crooked since his illness, was perfectly strong - a little boy adopted by him. He was at this time extremely poor, but his devotion to the child was touching in its whole-heartedness. So well known were the couple and their daily outings into the country that the students used to call out as they passed, " Bravo, murse ! Bravo, Vierge, old man ! " But at last the left hand became competent, and he once more entered the lists as an artist; and, in fact, his best period belongs to the years subsequent to his illness."
A friend of Vierge once told me that when the poor fellow was recovering from his stroke of paralysis, his memory had gone so completelv that he had to begin to learn drawing all over again, just like a child. It must have been a considerable while before he could have re-acquired - and with the left hand too - his old time facility of expression. No doubt to this tragic period are to be assigned the many drawings bearing his signature that .are unworthy of his reputation. "The end of Vierge," says the writer I have already quoted, "was mercifully abrupt. He was drawing one evening, in the company of his adopted son, when suddenly his head fell forward on the table. He gave one sharp sigh, and that was all." Of the wondrous trio of masters of the pen - Fortuity, Vierge, and Rico - the last-named now alone remains, and his work is con-lined, 1 believe, to landscape and architectural views. And very beautiful they are, as full of the warm, vibrating atmosphere of his sunny Italy as his familiar pictures in oil and in water-colours.
DEsigns for women's dress by male artists seldom have more than a "succes d'estime," but I see no reason why a costume like that by Mr. Walter Crane which we illustrate should not be adopted by tall, rather slender women. As he points out, it is on quite modern lines - the graceful " bolero " type lending itself to much variety of effect and artistic treatment both in colour and ornament. Since the princess dress and basque, I recall nothing so artistic as the prevailing style in ladies' dress, with the simple bodice and the plain, scant skirt, suggesting the natural lines of the figure. There never was, and probably never will be, a more beautiful costume than the old-fashioned riding habit, and the present modes seem to be based on it.
The exhibition in Obach's Gallery in Bond Street - or, rather, I should say, the reconstruction - of Whistler's "Peacock Room' from the famous London home of the late Mr. F. R. Leyland, near Prince's Gate, recalls the peculiar circumstances of its origin. The idea of the decoration of the room was an accident - -the result of Mr. Levland's purchase of Whistler's well-known "La Princesse du pays de Porcelaine." The picture was hung over the fireplace, and Whistler came to see it. Mr. Leyland had just had the room hung with some wonderful old Spanish leather decorated with red flowers on a gold ground, and the artist protested that it ruined his picture. With the owner's permission he proceeded to alter the coloration, so as to make it harmonise with the "Princess," and he did not stop until he had completely obliterated the original decoration of the leather, and substituted the present exquisite colour scheme based on the peacock's plumage. To quote the late Theodore Child, who first told the story of the room, "it forms a completely harmonious arrangement in turquoise blue and virgin gold; the only ornaments are pieces of blue and white china, displayed on shelves of carved and gilt wood." To complete the decoration, Whistler subsequently painted, at the end of the room opposite the fireplace, two peacocks on a gold ground in attitudes suggestive of recent, furious combat. One bird, much ruffled, stands on a heap of gold coins. This, it is said, was intended by the artist to satirise his patron, who had objected to the price of the work. The other, a beautifully placid and dignified fowl, is supposed to represent Whistler himself.