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A Treatise on Etching by Maxime Lalanne

A TREATISE ON ETCHING.

"Amongst Frenchmen Claude is the best landscape etcher of past days, and Lalanne the best of the present day."--P. G. HAMERTON.

[Illustration: Frontispiece]

A TREATISE ON ETCHING.

TEXT AND PLATES BY MAXIME LALANNE.

* * * * *

AUTHORIZED EDITION, TRANSLATED FROM THE SECOND FRENCH EDITION BY S. R. KOEHLER.

WITH AN INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER AND NOTES BY THE TRANSLATOR.

* * * * *

BOSTON: ESTES AND LAURIAT, Publishers.

_Copyright_, BY ESTES AND LAURIAT. 1880.

UNIVERSITY PRESS: JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.

TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

So much interest has of late years been shown in England in the art of etching, that it seems hardly necessary to apologize for bringing out an English edition of a work on the subject from the pen of an artist whom a weighty English authority has pronounced to be the best French landscape-etcher of the day. It might be urged, indeed, that more than enough has already been written concerning the technical as well as the aesthetic side of etching. But this objection is sufficiently met by the statement of the fact that there is no other work of the kind in which the processes involved are described in so plain and lucid a manner as in M. Lalanne's admirable "_Traite de la Gravure a l'Eau-forte_." In the laudable endeavor to be complete, most of the similar books now extant err in loading down the subject with a complicated mass of detail which is more apt to frighten the beginner than to aid him. M. Lalanne's _Treatise_, on the contrary, is as simple as a good work of art.

It may, however, be incumbent upon me to offer a few words of excuse concerning my own connection with the bringing out of this translation; for, at first sight, it will, no doubt, appear the height of presumption, especially on the part of one who is not himself a practising artist, to add an introductory chapter and notes to the work of a consummate master on his favorite art. But what I have done has not, in any way, been dictated by the spirit of presumption. The reasons which induced me to make the additions may be stated as follows.

It is a most difficult feat for one who has thoroughly mastered an accomplishment, and has practised it successfully for a lifetime, to lower himself to the level of those who are absolutely uninformed. A master is apt to forget that he himself had to learn certain things which, to him, seem to be self-evident, and he therefore takes it for granted that they _are_ self-evident. A practised etcher thinks nothing of handling his acid, grounding and smoking his plate, and all the other little tricks of the craft which, to a beginner, are quite worrying and exciting. It seemed to me best, therefore, to acquaint the student with these purely technical difficulties, without complicating his first attempts by artistic considerations, and hence the origin of the "Introductory Chapter." Very naturally I was compelled, in this chapter, to go over much of the ground covered by the _Treatise_ itself. But the diligent student, who remembers that "Repetition is the mother of learning," will not look upon the time thus occupied as wasted.


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