4 MAY 1907, Page 27


We have received from Messrs. A. and C. Black a colour repro- duction of Rembrandt's portrait of an old lady in the National Gallery (12s. 6d.) This reproduction is one of a series published under the supervision of Mr. Mortimer Menpes. In a leaflet issued by the publishers it is claimed that the works are "veritable facsimiles in colour of the original pictures," and we are told that "an eminent London art critic" believed when shown the reproductions " that they were perfect copies in oil by Mr. Mortimer Menpes." As regards the facsimile question, it is impossible to say in the present instance that the exact colour of Rembrandt has been reproduced. The flesh colour has a resemblance to that of the original, but it is by no moans identical, being dirtier and more monotonous. Apart from the colour, those, like all other reproductions of the kind, have the fatal defect of surface. To talk of a fac- simile is absurd when reproducing the infinitely varied quality of Rembrandt's paint, with a perfectly smooth, sticky-looking surface of paper. It is a pity that language so exaggerated is used, as it cannot but excite prejudice. The question is, does a reproduction like the one before us, even though it is in- accurate in colour, bring us nearer to the original than a first- rate photograph P The answer is both "Yes" and "No." In the present case the colour is suggested nearly enough to make it valuable. The reproduction gives the effect of contrast between the black dross, the white ruff, and the flesh.—The contrast is necessarily greatly weakened when all is reduced to black and white. —At tho same Lime, a good photograph would bring us much nearer to the magic of Rembrandt's expressive brush-work. Indeed, of the inimitable vivacity of execution the reproduction has pre- served scarcely a trace. We are not told whether the various photographic plates used in making the print are taken directly from the original or from a copy, and we cannot say whether a certain tameness of effect so unlike the original is due to imper- fections of the mechanical methods or to the fact that a copy of the picture has been used.