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New-York tribune. [volume] (New York [N.Y.]) 1866-1924, February 20, 1910, Image 16

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£4 Monument to His Genius as an
The scientific tendency of our time, which
has had so marked an influence upon the writ
ing of history and biography, has also left its
impress upon the literature of art. For many
years now the critic has been also the archaeol
ogist and the cataloguer, paying no more atten
tion to the broad interpretation of a master's
genius and to the justly proportioned statement
of the facts in his life than to the identifica
tion of all of his works and the arrangement of
(From the first state of the etching by Whistler.)
them in a fairly chronological sequence, with
indicaUons as to where they may he found.
Especially has this latter service been under
taken for the benefit of the connoisseur of
prints The names of Bartsch and Beraldi. to
name only two in a long list, are held in high
honor by the collector. Without the pages of
these and other authorities he would often be,
indeed, in sad case, painfully picking his way
through an almost intolerable confusion as to
dates "states,' and so on. Many an historian
of Rembrandt has been helpful to the collector
of the great Dutchman's etchings, but it was
loft to Rovinski to prepare the definitive Illus
trated catalog, i. ■ which would illuminate prac
tically every nook and cranny of the subject. If
the print collector, looking over that book at
the time of its publication twenty years ago.
had been asked what companion it needed, he
could have mad.- only one answer, demanding a
similar work on Whistler. Such a work has
■j>v> bom print* d.
It is the latest of these publications brought
A:t in luxurious form and in limited editions
jhich bear the imprint of the Grolier Club, and
; form-- a precious monument to the genius of
. -re.it American artist. It consists, in the
J*i pli.ee, "f a convenient quarto, beautifully
ji.it. d at the De Vinne Press, and having for
fta title "The Etched Work of Whistler; lllus
1 rated by Reproductions in Collotype of the
Different State* of the Plates; Compiled, Ar
ranged :;nd Described by Edward O. Kennedy.
With :i:i Introduction by Royal Cortissoz."
This, however, forms only part of the scheme,
li is accompanied by three portfolios which
t-ontain more than a thousand facsimile?. Jn
other words, w< have here in some sort a
unique collection of Whistler's etchings, a gal
lery v which the collector may turn for abso
lutely conclusive information as to practically
every touch of the artist's needle. The author
ship of the brief introduction surely need not
he permitted to interfere with some description
in this place ol a work long awaited by stu
dents of Whistler as promising ;ui aid to the
pursuit of their hobby available in no other
The desirability of a list of Whistler's ew fl
ings was recognized as for back as 1874, when
Mr. Ralph Tin mas prepared a catalogue of the
eighty-five subjects then known to him. The
next writer to tike up the subject was Mr.
I : < 'if'i'k Wedmore, who published a catalogue
<i JH plates in 1886. Thirteen years later he
issued a second edition, including 54 additional
Fubjects, and after three years Tvlr. Kennedy
still further extended this record, enumerating
nearly a hundred subjects not previously cata
logued. The exhibition at the Grolier Club in
i'.'i'4 afforded an opportunity to put thirty-four
mor«- subjects in the list, and there, fcr a time,
the matter rested. In 19"1» it was brought to
notice again through the publication by th-
Caxton <'lul> in Chicago of a catalogue by Mr.
Howard Mansfield, enumerating 440 plates,
treating five additional pieces in an appendix,
and thus exceeding the labors of all previous
compilers. Every one of these Whistlerian dev
otees is gratefully recognized bj the collector,
but they necessarily yield to Mr. Kennedy,
tvhose text, disclosing in itself exhaustive
knowledge, is rendered doubly valuable by the
facsimiles accompanying it.
lii the course of his prefatory notes he ex-
plains the origin of his wo,-k. The idea of deal
ing with Whistler as Rovinski had dealt with
■n nit interested him for years, and he
revived sympathetic encouragement from the
Hte F B. Holden, himself a collector. To both
these members of the (holier Club it seemed an
\.mr ♦ .Mr in ' -rmony with the policy fol
:St:i institution in the making of
book- but even then, when they thought that
only seven hundred reproductions at most would
be required, they feared that the difficulties in
the way would be unmanageable. As Mr. Ken
nedy remarks, If it had occurred to them that
more than a thousand reproductions would be
required, their seal might, perhaps, have been
permanently chilled. Nevertheless, they went
on, with the final result that the Grolier Club
has carried to completion a seemingly impos
sible ta.sk. Mr. Kennedy has some interesting
things to say about his development of the
scheme with Whistler. When he first broached
the subject, in 11H>1. the artist offered objec
tions, saying that some one had made a simi
lar proposition to him, which he- had instantly
brushed away. Discussion revealed the fact
that he had got the impression that the illus
———— — . i
trations proposed by his previous interlocutor!
were to be quite small, six or eight or more of
them going on a page, and he had no desire
to he the hero of what he called a "commercial
catalogue." He was afraid, too. that the Gro
lier publication might interfere with "the great
work," by which he meant a project that had
been mooted, having for its object the repro
duction of all his works in every medium. Mr.
Kennedy ultimately convinced him, as he tells
in the following passage:
I explained to Whistler that the catalogue which
I proposed to make, If made at all. would be for
a club of 375 members, and that an edition of
only -100 copies would be issued. i added that
it would not be sold to the public, but only by
subscription to members of the club, and that
it could not interfere with "the great work"'
or with any other publication be mignt have in
view "However" 1 said, "wait until this even
ing after dinner, and I will show you exactly
what I propose to do: then if you are not pleased
I shall be surprised." I borrowed Kovinski's
-Rembrandt* 1 from ■ friend, and as I happened
■i! the moment to have in my possession fine im-
Di-CFsions of "Clement de Jonghe. •'Sylvius."
••| jhtni;i - : and several other subjects by the Dutch
master 1 was enabled to show Whistler the origi
nals and the reproductions of them side by side,
and thereby rive him an exact idea of what I
wished to do. Me had a profound admiration for
the work of Rembrandt, and he was much im
pressed by Rovinski's catalogue. "This is quite
another kind of thing," he said, "this is very
swell." and went on to wonder how I should ever
be able to carry out a similar undertaking. I
pointed out that* it would take time and patience,
but thai a descriptive catalogue could never b«
SO satisfactory as one in which all the variations
of his work could be seen together, and that I
was resolved, with his approval, to see the thing
through. He cheerfully consented, and we talked
it over until it was time to go to bed. I cannot
refrain from recalling here the intense interest
that Whistler displayed as we examined the por
traits I had brought with me. He thought the
•■Clement <ie Jonghe" was quite extraordinary
and the "Sylvius" very tine The "Burgomaster
Six 1 on the contrary, did not move him. though
lie admitted that it was an unsurpassed feat of
technique. He seemed to forget all about his own
work in contemplating that of "the inspired
Dutchman." Beneath the "Clement de .longhe
he wrote the following tribute: "Without Maw.
Beautiful as a Greek marble or a canvas by Tin
toret. A masterpiece in all its elements, beyond
which there is nothing!"
Mr. Kennedy alludes to the many journeys
mad.- in the interest el this catalogue, and his
examteatso* < >f countless impressions in public
~-l private collections. Cltarly all this has been
• labor of love He is singularly unobtrusive
and concise in his text, confining himself to the
tersest description where such Hgiit is needed,
and altogether framing his list ami notes in
such wise as t<i give the collector the simplest.
Clearest and most practical help. Of course, in
many instances, comment is: the briefer since
the facsimiles are there. The usefulness of
these it would be imjKissible to exaggerate.
They serve a doable purpose. In the first pla< » .
they facilitate the clearing up of the collectors
problems, especially as regards the chronology
of "states." Furthermore, for tht student gen
erally, they vividiy ezposi th.- evolution of the
,7rcin the ninth state of the etching by Whistler.)
(From the third ataae < t H *y WhMhr.>
etcher's style, as well as something of the secret
of his method. Whistler was a craftsman c!
extraordinary authority, but he was hard to
satisfy, and, by the very nature of the process
he employed, he was repeatedly urged to work
over a given plate, not infrequently carrying ft
through eight <*r nine "states" before he felt
that he had achieved precisely what he was
driving at. Eleven times he thus studied "The
Balcony," mm of his later Venetian plates. Th
incident is characteristic of his solicitude for
perfection. To pore over these facsimiles is to
be admitted into his workshop and to gain a new
sense of the capacity of genius for takin;
pains. A word as to the character of the repro
ductions. Made by the photo-gelatine process
and of th*- exact dimensions of the originaK
they are wonderfully satisfactory substitutes
for the latter. R. C.
are cordially invited
to visit the Exhibition of
Early English Masters
including original paintings by
Reynolds, Gainsborough. Romney,
Heppner, Beechey, Morland, etc.,
€bricb Galleries
Fifth Avenue and 4* th Street.
Exhibition of Paintings
and Etchings
February I4th to 26th
At the
Louis Katz Galleries
:U>* ((ll.rMßl'-i AVKM X
566 FIFTH AVr.Mli
Cleaning and Restoring
of Pictures a Specialty
We Publish a New Book Every Week.
By E. <• BLUM. $l.f>o this -A.-k.
MANUPCIUPT-V ~>o cents.
29C TRIBUNE I..!!. 1"4 Nassau -• NVw York.
Pictures and Frames
For the Holidays
293 Fifth Ayr.. bet. 30th an.T Tl-t. »w Yons-
Their t..« *!• t iT). jltustratiDK It.. history i»f urlenw*
Art and suites to lie worn lor £u»xi luch on uicerei*
■lay*, vow rettdy.
Cor. Nassau

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