Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Modern British water-colour drawings
Baldry, Alfred Lys
Persistente ID:
and referable only remotely to any observation of nature. The 
artists of the time made careful and elaborate designs, highly 
finished in pencil or crayon, and then tinted them lightly in 
accordance with certain set rules. Their method was much the 
same as is followed now by architectural draughtsmen: it was 
entirely Without spontaneity, a self-conscious and formal trick of 
craftsmanship that made no demands either upon their powers of 
observation or upon their capacities for colour management, and 
depended for its success almost entirely upon a small faculty for 
decorative arrangement. The results arrived at in this way were, 
it is true, pleasing enough; but the limitations of the method 
were so definite that it is easy to understand why few of the 
greater men were disposed to make water colour a vehicle for 
expressing their deeper ideas. It suited them well enough for 
trivialities, but it was, they thought, by no means adapted 
for serious work, or for pictorial production of an ambitious 
PERHAPS this want of appreciation was to some extent due to 
the use that a certain section of art workers made of the medium. 
There was at the time a fashion for publishing engraved views of 
places noted for their picturesqueness or interest, and the drawings 
prepared to guide the engraver were, as a rule, executed in the 
customary combination of line and tint. The water-colour painter 
then held the same sort of position that the photographer does now ; 
he recorded facts for other people to use; and his excursions into 
original effort were viewed as scarcely legitimate. If he wanted to 
rank as an artist he had to work in oils. So long as he confined 
himself to the slighter process it mattered little what he did; his 
art was a subordinate one, and comparatively of no account, no 
matter what might be the skill with which he exercised it. People 
seemed to have forgotten that water colour was really the older 
form of practice, and that in the hands of the artists of the middle 
ages it had the highest possibilities; they judged it only by what 
they saw at the moment when it had degenerated into a mere 
appendage to other technical devices. 
BUT by the end of the eighteenth century this misconception was 
rapidly disappearing, thanks to the exertions of the many painters 
who perceived what was needed to put new life into the neglected 
and mishandled art; a better judgment was beginning to prevail, 
and both the public and the artistic community were prepared to 
accept departures that a few years before would have seemed quite 
indefensible. From that time onwards there has been no pause in 


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