THE NEW ART OF LITHOTINT.
THE new art called Lithotint, by which impressions are taken from original drawings made with the brush and liquid ink on stone, just in the same way as on paper, is at length brought to maturity : about a twelvemonth ago we announced this important discovery, then made by Mr. H1TLLMANDEL the lithographer ; who has employed the interval in completing his beautiful invention. The high degree of perfection which lithotint has already attained, though only a few trials have been made of it, is shown in a set of specimens, nineteen in number, that have been privately circulated by the inventor ; and the variety of subjects suc- cessfully treated by several artists in their respective styles, each differ- ent from the other, affords the most satisfactory and surprising proofs of the capabilities of this new process. Landscapes, marine views, architectural scenes, figures, animals, plants, fossils, and ornamental details, are delineated with the utmost power of pictorial effect, com- bined with delicate minuteness of form and gradation of tint ; surpassing in richness and brilliancy any mode of engraving, and exhibiting the feeling and handling of the artiste which are found in no engraver's work.
The great value of lithotint consists in its being a medium by which the artist of original talent can multiply his own conceptions in the way he first produced them: instead of Indian ink, he dips his pencil in litho- graphic ink, laying the tints on stone instead of on paper ; and by this simple change of materials, his first thoughts become capable of repro- duction more than a thousandfold. Hitherto the only means available to artists for diffusing their own productions were so tedious and la- borious, that very few had recourse to them : in etching and engraving, their hands were cramped by a niggling and mechanical process, alien to their habitual modes of working ; lithography was only adapted to crayon or pen-drawing, the two slowest methods of art, and very rarely practised by English artists of eminence. The painter had no means of reproducing a sepia drawing in which his own touch is preserved, until the invention of lithotint ; hence none of the water-colour painters have been enabled to publish their sketches, except those who were also accustomed to use the crayon ; and of these some have devolved the laborious task upon artists more habituated to lithography. The facility and rapidity of lithotint is as remarkable as its effectiveness. The masterly sketch of a wild boar and dog, by FREDERICK TAYLER, was, we are assured, a first trial of the material, and dashed off in three or four hours ; the beautiful Gothic interior, with a tomb and tabernacle- work, by JOSEPH NAsH, was done in about the same time ; and a large landscape by HARDING, highly-finished and full of detail—a castle on a height, with trees below fringing a stream, distant hills, and a rocky foreground—was begun and completed in the same day : a long summer- day's work this, and a very good one for the most rapid and dexterous pencil ; as the reader will believe when he is told that to have executed such a drawing in the chalk style of lithography would have occupied the artist for six or seven weeks. As regards the saving of time alone, therefore, the new process offers great advantages to the draughtsman also ; but it is the painter to whom this diminution of labour will be most acceptable, and who will make the best use of the peculiar re- sources of lithotint : the magic of his touch and feeling will transmute the tints to gold. This has been accomplished, almost literally, in a splendid design of Dugald Dalgetty Feeding his Charger Gustavus, by FREDERICK TAYLEB, which is luminous in its brilliancy : the tints sug- gest the effect of colour with astonishing vividness, and the freedom and looseness of the touch could not be surpassed in the water-colour sketch ; in effect, it is painting on stone with black and white. In the interior of an old Norman church, with a gravedigger, by Hasinsa, the light absolutely shines through the window • in his coast-scene the morning sun illumines the atmosphere and sheds a bright glow on every
object; and in the woodland dell, with a trout-stream brawling through it, the foliage almost seems to wave in the breeze and glitter in the sun. The depth of chiaroscuro of which lithotint is susceptible is strikingly shown in a sketch by W. C. SMITH, of a chamber dimly lighted by a solitary candle, the rays of which fall on the face of a sick woman and
the coverlid of the bed ; the hangings being in half-tint, and the toilet in deep shade : the effect is Rembrandtish ; but if REMBRANDT had possessed such a medium as this for his wonderful twilights, where the light and the gloom are equally mysterious, instead of being compelled to scratch out broad masses of chiaroscuro with the point of an etching-needle, what marvellous designs be would have produced, each a picture of one colour, but infinite in its variety of tones ! In a sea-piece, with a stormy effect, and a boat putting off to a vessel in distress, by the same promising young artist, the fluent motion of the waves, and the light bursting through the clouds, are admirably represented: the water is liquid and buoyant. In a woody landscape by HARDING, with a bridge in the foreground, printed with a brown tint to imitate sepia, the play of the brush is so evident that but for the names below it would be mistaken for a sepia drawing : the infusion of brown gives a richness and sobriety of tone that are very agreeable. The suitableness of litho- tint for designs of figures, as well as architecture, has been exemplified by JOSEPH NASH, in a sprightly little sketch of Slender and Anne Page ; and a clever group representing Shahspere brought before Sir Thomas Lucy on the charge of Deer-stealing, which introduces a view of the entrance- gate of Charlcote, with the old mansion of the Lucys seen through the archway : this is one of the plates of the forthcoming volume of Mr. NAsH's Mansions of England, and is therefore printed with a warm neutral tint superadded ; though it is one of the recommendations of the new style that a second stone may be dispensed with. In the figures and foreground of this drawing—which is a pic- ture of itself—chalk has been used, as in one or two others, to give variety of texture; the power of combining touches of chalk with washes of ink being one of the great advantages of lithotint. This specimen, we are informed, was printed after eight hundred impressions from the stone bad been taken for the work to which it belongs, yet it is so per- fect that it might pass for a proof: this is conclusive evidence of the durability of the new process. In the plate of fossils, by SCHARF, the value of chalk as an adjunct to the lithotint is conspicuous ; the texture of sandstone which forms the bed, or matrix of the fossil, being repre- sented by the chalk, while the smooth surface of the fossil is imitated by the washed tints. The power of lithotint for imitating the fur of animals is admirably exemplified in a spirited head of a little spaniel of King Charles's breed, by Lows DICKINSON after LANDSEER : the lustrous depth of the eyes, the jet tip of the nose, and the glossy black of the long curling hair, could not be better rendered. The solidity and relief required in architecture is strikingly shown in a sketch, by T. S. BOYS, of a Gothic doorway, a ith a rich pinnacle, through which you look into the gloom of a dark staircase. These qualities are even more conspicuous in a Gothic capital and frieze, defined with the utmost force and decision, by H. Roux : the shaft of the column and the undulating foliage of the frieze are beautifully rounded with deli- cate gradations of tint ; a Corinthian capital and architrave, on the same plate, is marked with the sharpness and precision required in the details of new buildings ; and a carved screen, by the same excellent draughtsman, shows the grain of the oaken pannelling. A group of cocoa-palm and cabbage-tree, with other Tropical foliage, by W. L. WALToN, is drawn with a pure and even tint that would be a good ground for colouring upon, and shows the fitness of the style for bota- nical purposes. We have been thus particular in enumerating the different specimens, because, not being published for sale, they can have but a very limited circulation. There is no portrait among them, nor has portraiture yet been attempted ; but it is not to be inferred therefore that this style is not adapted to it : it would be prejudging the capabilities of an art yet in its infancy, and known only to a few, to determine its limits, espe- cially with such evidences of its varied resources before us—the powers of lithotint cannot be considered as fully developed. The difficulty appears to be in softening off the tints, for where a fall brush is ap- plied to the stone it leaves a wiry edge: this may be obviated by light and dexterous handling with a pencil not too full, by scraping, and other means ; and it has been completely done in some of the specimens—the Gothic capital and the sea-piece, for example. The touches with a full brush give strength and vigour to the dark parts of a drawing; and the edge is not disadvantageous in broad shadows : when it is so, it may be removed. The air-tints, or flat washes for skies and back- grounds, are produced by applying a solution of the ink to the stone with a broad brush before the drawing is commenced, smoothing the tint afterwards with a " sweetener ": this supplies a middle tint, from which graduated lights may be scraped out. Dark shadows, too, may be laid on in a mass, taking out the half-tones with a bit of wet cloth ; and part of a drawing can be washed out and commenced de novo : in short, the expert painter may use freedoms of the most daring kind. Finally, the drawing may be retouched with chalk after having been proved ; a facility that was not afforded by other styles of lithography. The merit of this invention is enhanced by the difficulties that have been overcome. In accomplishing this grand desideratum, Mr. Hum.- NANDEL has succeeded where others have failed : numberless attempts have been made, by persons interested in perfecting the art of litho- graphy, to take impressions from drawings made with washes of ink, • but with such ill success that the idea was given up as hopeless ; and a Committee officially appointed by the French Government to investi- gate the subject, pronounced it to be utterly impossible, because it was inconsistent with the chemical principles of lithography. It may be interesting to explain the secret of the failures of others and Mr. HULLMANDEL'S success. Drawings made on the granulated surface of a lithographic stone with chalk of a greasy nature, are made to yield im- pressions by the application of acid, which eats into the interstices of the granulation, forming an infinite number of hollows ; the chalk on the summits of the minute elevations resisting the action of the acid. When the grease is applied in the liquid form of ink, it fills the hollows as well as the eminences of the granulation ; and consequently, when the acid is applied it only' penetrates the pores of the stone through the pellicle of greasy ink by destroying the tint, so that the impression yielded was a black smudge partly obliterated, wherein the form of the drawing is scarcely traceable. The efforts of all the experimentalists were directed to the making of an ink that on being applied to the stone in a liquid state should, by contracting, leave the requisite interstices for the action of the acid : but all attempts of this kind utterly failed. In a happy moment the thought occurred to Mr. HULLSIANDEL, who for twenty years had directed his attention to the subject, that as the interstices of granulation could not be preserved in the stone under washes of ink, they might be created over them, by covering the drawing with an etching-ground similar to that used in aquatint engraving, and biting out the interstices by means of a powerful acid. The first trial was so far successful as to establish the feasibility of the theory ; but numerous modifications were requisite to bring it to a practicable result. The problem, that has puzzled all the lithogra- phers of Europe, has at last been solved by Mr. HULLMARDEL to whom lithography is indebted for so many of those improvements that have raised it from an inferior and laborious art, suitable only to the patient draughtsman, to a medium for reproducing the spontaneous conceptions of genius. The importance of such a process can scarcely be over- rated : it will effect a revolution in the course of print-publishing : artists of original talent will be able to address the many in a language which they could only speak before through the medium of interpreters and translators, who rendered their ideas coldly and feebly. The beneficial effect on the public taste resulting from this change can only be estimated hereafter, by those who will be in a position to contrast the present issues of prints with those that may be expected to appear under the new mra, which will date from the epoch of the invention of lithotint—when the power, the spirit, and refinement of the original artist, will be substituted for the tame and mechanical elaboration of the copyist.