" SPRING FASHIONS" IN TOWN PRINTS.
THE publishers have taken a hint from the purveyors of pictorial pocket handkerchiefs, in selecting subjects for engraving; and all " new prints "—CHALONS as well as " Challis," LANES and " De Laines"—must be of the flishionable patterns to have any chance of a sale. Regarding minters therefore, in the light of pattern-drawers to the print-sellers- r, • print-sellers- as we must necessarily do for the nonce, viewing them in connexion with "the trade"—it may be useful for those who look to " the market" for encouragement, to know the probable character of the Spring fashions, as indicated by the tendencies of the leading houses. We should be sorry to pursue an analogy that, if followed out, would place the engravers in a parallel category with the poor weavers ; though we fear they are almost as hardly worked, and, comparatively speakiug, not much better paid. In taking this view of the print-trade for the benefit of artists who have not the repetition of being good men of business (though there are one or two illustrious exceptions, which will occur to every body without mentioning the names of Wiliam and TURNER) we must not be misunderstood as assimilating the fiishionable firms among the publishers to the venders of cotton "prints ;" indeed, their mode of con- ducting business is totally different. The one class fill their shops with heaps of silks and muslins, and humbly "solicit the honour of an in- spection of their extensive stock" by circulars, or personally invite the connoisseurs of calico passing by to " walk in and look at the articles ;" whereas the others enclose "cards to view" to all the magnates of the land, who, thus honoured, flock in crowds greater than are attracted by the opening of a fine new shawl-shop ; and after seeing the picture set off to the best advantage, cannot do less than put down their names for a copy of the print in return for the favour : and surely five or ten gui- neas are much better laid out on a fine engraving than a showy shawl. " Ay, but," objects some caviller, " how is one to know that it will be a fine print? "rhis may be a very good plan of getting cus- tomers; but putting down one's name for a thing that one has not seen, is buying a pig in a poke,' and having to wait a year or two before one knows what sort of a bargain one has got." To such an objection an answer is scarcely needed. No one seeing the picture can expect the print will he like the painting : the names of the publisher and engraver are guarantees that the print will be a good one ; and if a person looking at a finely-coloured work of art, is so unreasonable as to suppose that a reduced copy of it in black and white can realize his idea of the original, he must submit to be disap- pointed.
It has been urged by the opponents of this system, that it degrades art, and diverts public patronage into a mean channel : but if the artists are envious of the success of the publishers, it is open to them to fol- low the publishers' example, as Mr. JOHN MARTIN did. An instance immediately similar occurs to us, in the case of an engraver, JAMES MOLLTSON, 8, Grove Terrace, St. John's Wood, who is employed upon a plate, in the line manlier, after COPE'S interesting picture The Unex- pected Return, and who allows the painting and the plate in its present state to be seen by persons desirous to become subscribers. Of course an artist little known, and living in an out-of-the-way place, stands but a poor chance of attracting visitors ; and his " tongue is not tuned to trading airs :" but where the subject is so touchingly treated as COPE has treated the return of a soldier to his wife and children, the picture pleads more eloquently than the most adroit salesman can do. For our own parts, we have strong faith in the intrinsic merits of a good picture well engraved recommending itself to the public by being seen only ; certainly it is difficult to get it shown : but there are some old-fashioned printsellers where fine engravings, even after the Old Mas- ters—IltD11'1IREY'S Maythden from CORREGIO, and BrusErr's C«rtoons • of RarrAELLE, for example—may yet be seen. But the practitioners of the new system, who profess to know the town taste, say these things are above the public appreciation ; and that the only hope for a really excellent picture is in the name of some popular artist, or a subject of fleeting interest : fashion, in a word, is the sum and substance of its recommendatory qualities. Who ever heard of a print after HI i.rox ? The publishers, however, who hold the sluices that deluge the coun- try with temporary trash, also command the commercial channels that carry off the tlood and the high-pressure power of puffery. by which this circulation is effected, has the effect of damming up other conduits. There is no help for artists, therefore, as regards publishing, but in fig- lowing the stream of tbsbion ; and therefore it is we have been at some pains to point out to them the direction it is taking. The folios of tae-simile sketches are still the rage. Monk has been exploring some of the Continental cities for interiors JIAnnixt; is again fa the field among the trees ; JosEtot Nash is pursuing his search for
Picturesque old mansions ; and Ronmrs's sketches of Egypt and Syria, we suppose, will be published in some shape. These be goodly pros- pects: but beyond, all is " of the Court, courtly." Prince Albert is becoming quite a bore—" that boy will be the death of us." Every week brings out a new version of his phiz ; and a contemporary, who describes his person as minutely as a passport, (unless it is meant as a. quiz,) proves all of them to be wrong.
Hitherto both the Queen and the Prince have appeared single;_ now they are running in couples. A lithograph From a Sketch at Wind- sor represents the Royal lovers enjoying an equestrian tete-ii-tiite; and is evidently taken by the sharp-eyed " Walking Gentleman " whose Equestrian Sketches prove that he can " shoot fashion as it flies," and
hit the likeness with a sure aim. Then there will be bridal por-
traits, pictures of the nuptial ceremony, &c. ; and as the rival pub- lishers are very precise in their points of preference, one will come
recommended as " taken during the performance of the solemn rite ;" another, as " the bridal portrait, the first for which the Royal couple sat after their union ;" a third, " a sketch taken on the
first public appearance of the illustrious pair ;" and so on. LESLIE, we suppose, will be commissioned to paint the scene in the chapel, and Paulus be started to distance him ; CHALON, perhaps, as he has al- ready been to Court, will be sketching the honeymoon drawing-room, with HAYTER for his rival. The publishers, we should observe, always try to run down the game put up by another : thus, one no sooner announces the " Waterloo Banquet,' by the only artist who was permitted to paint the scene, than another advertises A
second "only artist." The " Coronation Plate" has already been a hard race, and the winner has been named before all those entered have run. The "Matrimonial Sweepstakes" will be a close heat, no
doubt ; and the "First Appearance Handicap" will have a numerous list of competitors. We have put the artists on the scent, and let those follow the trail who would be in at the death—" Of my reputation!" exclaims some impracticable painter, who is bent on studying nature and the ideal, while he can keep on the safe side of starvation ! We are talking not of reputation, but profit.