4 NOVEMBER 1882, Page 19


IN these two new publications we have fresh evidence of Mr. Walter Crane's peculiar, and, what is in these days a most rare power of art, expression. While it is, in its very essence, artistic, in the highest and most wholesome sense of the term, it is, at * Household St9riofront thy a■l/ection of the Brothere Grimm. Translated from tho Otrmau by Lucy Oran, and done into Pictures by Walter Crane. Loudon: Macmillan and Co.

Pan-pipss. A Book of 01.! Songs, newly arranged, and with Accompaniments, by Theo. Marzhis, sit to Pictures by Walter Crane, engraved cud printed in Colours by Edmund Evans. London : Houtiedge and Song, the seine time, spontaneous and direct, and clone apparently with the greatest ease; possessing the fresh, brilliant qualities, which a full and. rich invention, combined with a natural facility of execution, probably alone can give. More than ever is such direct and spontaneous art welcome. Thousands of framed pictures, more or less manufactured according to Academic or specialistic schools of Art, are every year rejected from the principal exhibitions ; but how few, even of those accepted, testify that the artists who produce them are born artists, more fit to. work at art then at anything else. About Mr. Walter Crane's art there is an entire absence of the manufacturing element,. there is very little even of the professional. Perhaps one of its greatest charms is an utter absence in it of any suggestion re- minding us of the modern studio life. In his imagination there. seems to be imaged a beautiful world of Nature, which is always ready to express itself in line and colour, and to add a charm of its own to the telling of any story, to decorate any incident with the loveliness and grace of fairy palaces, woods, streams,. and flowers. He has a fancy which seems always ready to. flow with the abundance and variety of Nature herself, not in her work-a-day, weary aspect, not with a straining after beauty under difficulties (a sense which overshadows our Art schools and studios), but as a bird, sings, and as animals play when they are happy,--in short, as a perfectly joyful expression of a natural condition. We cannot but feel that Mr. Crane's genius is one of the most truly poetical in the character of its art of which, our age can boast. It reflects the varying and dramatic sentiment in Nature which accompanies action, growth, vitality. In his most purely decorative designs, something is always going on some distinct action always taking place. This sense of move- ment creeps into his slightest decoration, into every border with which his illustrations are framed, and extends even to the fly- leaves of his books. It is the combination of this sense of the- dramatic with the sense of fine balance in placing lines in original and yet satisfactory arrangements, which secures to, Mr. Crane's work an unique position as illustrative decoration. His remarkable success in harmonising, in an original manner and inventing combinations of flat tints of colour, is no less admirable than the distinguished grace and strength in the- quality of line in his designs. Moreover, it is a combination of the dramatic with the decorative power which makes his expression of facts, in the most abstract form, entertaininv while it makes his dramatic expression always agreeable as design, the most violent action in it being controlled, so to speak, by the design in which it is framed. The interest created by this power of suggesting action, and yet retaining beauty of design, is enhanced by the charm of a sense of ease in the way. in which the work is evidently manipulated. The mechanical part seems•to be executed with a freedom as of writing. There. is an absence of all conscious effort in the work. It has a refreshing quality, suggestive of wholesome, pleasant growth and vitality. In the truest sense is Mr. Crane's work healthy. No self-conciouseees is to be traced in the feeling of it anywhere. Li the illustrations to Grimm's stories cud Pan-pipes, we have uncoloured and coloured examples of Mr. Crane's art. The engraving in line of the former is singularly good, suggesting a sense of colour, and a richness in the light and shade and tone, which are, we think, equal to anything that has ever been done in wood-cutting. It would be impossible here to dwell on the many instances where there is some particularly happy sign of a rich souse of beauty, fun, and charm, in the very numerous, illustrations to the old, favourite, nursery-stories. All who wish their children to make acquaintance with these in close associa- tion with a teaching to the eye of all that is most gracefully fanci- ful, prettily funny, and artistically good, must get the volume. Indeed, all who care for Art should get it. Particularly interest- ing is it to see how greatness in style can be preserved on a tiny scale in wood-cutting, as in the old Greek intaglios. In the, head and tail pieces, scarcely an inch high, there are little- figures which for qualities of grace and beauty are beyond praise, the draperies especially being executed. with the same "The Frog Mr .. sense of style and distinction whichhaeraeds; striking in

" g in Crane's drawing of drapery. The

Prince," "The Twelve Brothers," " Rapunzel," " The Three Little Men in the Wood," "The Three Spinsters," " Asehen.- he

puttel," "Mother Hulcla," "Clever Else," "The Robber Bride- groom," "King Thrushbeard," "Snow White," "Rumpelstilt- skin," are, perhaps, the most striking examples of the peculiar beauty of some of the tiny figures, whereas others are more remarkable fora delicate sense of humour and fairyland fancy,.

quaint and comical, but never coarse or bluntly grotesque. In the designs which are more simply decorative, there is an admirable fancy displayed, besides richness of design ; for instance, in the tail-pieces of "Hans in Luck," "Faithful John," "The Twelve Brothers," "The Vagabonds," "The White Snake," "The Six Swans." The larger designs are all worthy of being increased in size and treated in colour, as Mr. Crane treated the "Goose Girl," exhibited at the Grosvenor 'Gallery the winter before last.

Pan-pipes is a large, though thinner volume, suitable in shape to be placed on a pianoforte desk. Forty old English ballads are arranged in a simple pleasant way by Mr. Marzials, and encased in charming pictorial art by Mr, Crane. Here, again, the book must be seen to be appreciated, though in a slight way we can try to point out what strikes us as peculiarly -admirable. Invention and fancy fly in charming line colour and tone over each page, from the cover of reeds to the last page, where Pan carries his burden of pipes, and the cranes fly, and the reed bends down to the setting sun. The page on which is "To all you ladies," opposite the preface, and the "index rage," are peculiarly happy in line and fancy as introductory designs; but the design of "The Three Ravens," and one or two other illustrations, pass beyond the region of inventive fancy into the dramatic pathos of truly imaginative art. Throughout the book, every page, independent of the beauty of its detail, produces as a whole a charmingly decorative effect. The ground of the space on which the music is written is toned and tinted in harmony with the design, and there are even variety and quality in the toning and the tinting.

Mr. Crane has a European celebrity. There is hardly a book- stall at any French railway station on which some of his child- ren's books do not find a place. A few years ago, a round-robin was signed by all the Art professors in Vienna, expressing the ad- miration of the professors for his illustrations. The same judg- ment was verbally expressed by the Berlin professors, through one of the London masters of Art. How is it that our English Royal Academy is not catholic enough to have enlisted such genius as his into the strength of their body? Theoretically, it may be catholic, practically it is not so. Probably, most Academicians, as individuals, would agree as to the advantage it would be for Art in general to tear away those tiresome red-tapes which keep the Academy within the old limits of monotony and pomposity. Certainly, their President loses no occasion for preaching and showing in the most practical of ways his admiration and sym- pathy for catholicism in Art matters ; still, the Royal Academy has become a body of artists which, as a body, has failed to include a group of workers who, though not famous for framed pictures of pedestalled statues, are, nevertheless, in their own lines, producing art which in all sobriety we may justly say has never been surpassed, Mr. W. Morris's house decorations, Mr. de Morgan's pottery, and Mr. Walter Crane's decorative picture-designs and illustrations are all unique, beautiful, and original enough in themselves to raise the spirits of those who are most in the habit of despairing as to the possibility of a healthy native art-life under modern conditions. Still, the fact remains, and it is to be feared it is too late for the fact to be altered, that the Royal Academy has failed to associate itself with these first-rate workers in the arts which, at present, can reach as daily surroundings the greatest number in the community, and of which nearly every one except the really poor can possess examples. Mr. Morris's papers and carpets, Mr. de Morgan's tiles, and Mr. Walter Crane's picture-books are all distinguished by being as first-rate of their kind, as real, wholesome, and consequently beautiful, as was the sculpture of Greece in the time of Pheidias, or the painting of Italy in the time of In Mr. Walter Crane's genius there is that which often passes beyond the purely decorative power. In all cases where the dramatic and emotional elements in art exist with any degree of fervour, full justice can be done to the artist's power only by the touch of his own hand. Therefore, though the cutting of the woodcuts by Mr. Swain in the illustrations to the Grimm stories is admirable, and the engraving and paint- ing by Mr. Evans of the Pan-pipes are exceptionally good, and render the peculiar quality of Mr. Crane's colouring with a truth which could hardly be excelled, still, it is in no work trans- lated by any machinery, but the touch of his own hand, that we should feel the full charm and power of his gifts as an artist. Yet.it may be doubted whether the orthodox, framed, and publicly exhibited picture is quite his line in art. Where we should like best to see his touches would be in wall-painting. Why do not many of the rich owners of beautiful country or town houses devote one room, however smal], to a favourite legend or story, and induce Mr. Crane to weave it into lovely designs, and deco- rate such a room with it ? The great rapidity with which he evidently works would make it possible, were he to consent to such a scheme, in a few years to enrich many a neighbourhood with legacies of his ingenious and delightful inventions, pre- cious art treasures to the nation, as well as to the individual possessors. An example of the successful effect of a room decorated by the hand of one master is to be found at Eaton Hall, in Cheshire, where panels on which are painted groups of birds by Mr. Marks make almost the exclusive decoration of one room. A house in Kent already possesses a room decorated by Mr. Crane, the decorations being chiefly in relief; and it is to be hoped that while there is still time, many will try to secure the work of a true artist, whose gifts are quite among the rarest to be found in these days. Meantime, all should bail with gratitude these new picture-books, which we recommend to every nursery and school-room ; and not only to every nursery and school-room, but to every one who cares for good art.