"Reviews: 'Artists at Home,'" Derby Mercury, 1884
This is the title of a serial publication which promises to be one of great interest, utility, and beauty. Messrs. Sampson Low and Co. are the publishers, and the aim of the work is to supply representations of living artists at work or otherwise, in their studios, together with biographical accounts of the said artists. Each monthly part is to contain four plates and four biographies. The plates are reproductions of photographs, on copper, and by the aid of the process known as photo-engraving. Mr. Mayall is the artist, and he has succeeded in furnishing pictures “which are not merely absolute facsimiles of the originals, but which bring out admirably the middle tints so often found wanting in the photograph from which they are taken, and which have hitherto been a characteristic only of high-class steel-engravings.” The four plates in the part (No. 1) now before us represent Sir Frederic Leighton, Mr. W. C. Marshall, Mr. T. Webster, and Mr. V. C. Prinsep, in their workrooms, and in their habits as they live there. The portraits of the artists are admirable as likenesses, and the details of the studios themselves are admirably brought out. The tint of the plates is something between that of the photograph and the platinotype. It is black, and it is evidently permanent. The biographies are from the highly competent pen of Mr. F.G. Stephens, who supplies a variety of interesting particulars, especially in regard to the works and studies of the artists treated. Thus, of Mr. Prinsep’s house and work-room Mr. Stephens says:
Mr. Prinsep’s house was designed for him by Mr. Philip Webb, and, in its stately homeliness and breadth of character, is well suited to the ways and studies of the owner. Large, solid, and massive without, and admirably finished in design and execution, its wide and comfortable windows, smooth, dark red brickwork and high-pitched roofs of tiles, are, without being heavy or austere, very sincere and picturesque. Within, rich and sober colours prevail, and set off an abundance of sumptuous porcelain and other ceramics, sketches made in India and in Italy, studies for pictures by the artist and his friends, antiquities and oriental arms. Some of Mr. Prinsep’s Japanese ware is well known to collectors and of extraordinary preciousness. Considerably over six feet in height, and of massive proportions, the painter himself sits in the photograph before his easel, as if he had just turned from the portrait of a lady, which, till the moment, occupied him. On our right is a charming picture destined for the next Academy, and entitled “The Bookworm.” Its design explains itself. Other paintings and some portraits are on the walls and easels; a piece of tapestry hangs on the railing of the gallery which extends along the wall of the chamber on that side. This studio, although it is by no means the largest of its class, is a capital example of a modern chamber of that sort. Lighted chiefly by an immense northward facing window, it is warmed by more than one stove, and fitted with all the appurtenances of a painter’s use. The walls are coloured dark maroon-red; the coved ceiling which appears in the photograph, with the dormer windows on the south side admitting sunlight at will, is white. Large tables are loaded with books, drawings, prints, implements and studies of all kinds.
The serial will be, indeed, as valuable from a literary and critical, as from an artistic, point of view. The size adopted is imperial quarto, and the letterpress is well printed on fine paper with an ample margin. The work, when completed, will be a veritable ourrage de luxe, and it is one of which every lover of art will be anxious to become the possessor.
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