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ANECDOTES OF CONTEMPORARY GENIUS.
No. I. EDMUND GIRLING OF YARMOUTH, A SELF-TAUGHT ENGRAVER. . There is no country in Europe, Claude Lorraine served an apprenricher in natural genius for the cul- ticeship to a pastry-cook, became aftivation of the fine arts than Eng-terwards a menial servant, and was land and Ireland; and none where employed as a cook and colourso many men of genius are shut out grinder by Agostino Tassi. After of their proper field of exertion by these instances abroad, I may return the accidents of birth and fortune. to later times, as an introduction to But the numerous instances of this contemporary genius. Hogarth servtemporary enforcement against na- ed an apprenticeship to an engraver, ture are not confined to this age, or whose chief business was to cut arms to the sister islands. I may, by way upon plate, and the names of the of preface to my subject, observe, publicans on their pewter vessels. that after the revival of the arts in Romney was apprenticed to a caItaly, similar instances occurred in binet-maker in Kendal. Opie's fathat country, at a period when the ther brought him up to his own trade advancement of painting and sculp- of a carpenter. Raphael Smyth ture was a primary object with the served an apprenticeship to a linenprinces and nobles, who possessed draper. Proctor the sculptor, who the power of drawing genius from was esteemed by West and the neglect and obscurity into light and Royal Academicians to have dispublic favour. Giotto was the son played the powers of a Michael of a shepherd, and began life in the Angelo, and to have been gifted humble employmentof keeping sheep. with the genius of a Phidias, began If Cimabue had not by accident met life in the drudgery of a countinghim, and seen one of his rude at- house in Yorkshire. He had passed tempts at drawing, he must have his thirtieth year before he comwasted his life in tending his flocks menced his studies to qualify himself in the fields. Polidore Caldara, af- for the profession of an artist. The ter having passed his early youth in | astonishing display of genius by which the mean employment of a porter or he immortalized his name, although carrier of mortar for the fresco it only exposed him to perish of starpainters in the Vatican, became one vation through the public neglect, of the most celebrated masters of was produced within about four years that age, and had the honour to be after he first entered his name as a selected by Raphael as one of his pupil in the Royal Academy.. Chanprincipal assistants in that church. trey, whose recent statues of Mr. Michael Angelo da Caravaggio, the Watt and the Rev. Cyril Jackson founder of a style which shook the may vie with any single figure by dominion of the Caracci in the zenith Michael Angelo, and whose exquiof their fame, commenced in the same site busts rank him as the first sculplow employment of a mortar-carrier tor of the age in the domestic style, to the fresco - painters in Milan. Il served an apprenticeship to a respecto able carver and gilder in Sheffield, | der his pictures in general objects of and did not come up to London un- | interest and approbation in the Britil he was twenty-one years of age. tish Gallery. But to return to the There are several other eminent banking-office in Yarmouth: it hapartists now living, who, in their out-pened that young Crome, who was set, entered into mechanical pursuits in the clerks' department along with for life, and who have forced their Edmund Girling, had a good natural way to fame and fortune by pursuing | taste, and some knowledge of drawthe bent of their genius.
ing and etching, acquired when resiI have been led to these remarks dent with his father in Norwich; by a view of the etchings of a young and in the year 1817, he amused amateur, a native of Yarmouth in himself, after his office-hours, with Norfolk, whose residence in that etching a plate, which attracted town has necessarily restricted him the notice of his companion. Girfrom an opportunity of improving ling, who was then about twenty himself by the example and instruc- || years of age, was struck by the ingetion of established artists. Edmund nuity and apparent facility of the Girling is the son of a respectable process which enabled young Crome, citizen and trader, and was early in a short space of time, to multiply placed by his father as a clerk in a so many impressions of a favourite banking-house, in which his attention sketch or picture. The example has been occupied during the last || awakened new feelings in his breast, ten or twelve years by the diligent and his desire to do something in the discharge of his daily duties. I am same way induced him to lose no uncertain whether he ever manifest time in making a commencement. ed a turn for drawing during his His first attempt was from the adschool-days; but I have been as- mirable etching of the Ratcatcher, sured, that he never received any by Rembrandt. I have seen good instructions in drawing from a mas- | impressions of Basan's and Schmidt's ter. The first circumstance which copies of this print, and I do not de awakened his passion for the arts, them any injustice when I state, that and induced him to make a trial of Girling's copy does not fall behind his hand, was purely accidental. In either as far as it goes. By the force the same banking-office with him of his own mind, the correctness of there was some years ago a very in his eye, and an intuitive good taste, genious young man, a clerk, who was be worked out the picturesque effect a son of Crome, the landscape- of the original with the richness and painter, of Norwich, an artist of spirit of a proficient in the school of strong natural genius,good taste, and Rembrandt. Basan and Schmidt much practical power. The Cromes copied the whole print; but Girling are a family of genius. The artist | omitted the entire back-ground, and just mentioned is not long dead; but every part excepting the figure of he has left another son, a landscape the Ratcatcher. In the impression painter, who inherits his abilities, and of his plate now before me, there is whose works exhibit great truth of a clearness and brilliancy of stroke nature, a happy choice, and a rich- which surprise me;' and his close ness and power of effect which ren- following of Rembrandt's manner of drawing, leaves no doubt of his strong purpose: A small landscape lengthnatural qualifications for the profes- wise, without name or date, from an sion of an artist. The name and etching by Waterloo ;-a copy, withdate, “ E. Girling, 1817," are etched out name or date, of Rembrandt's upon this copy: it obtained much Dutch Burgomaster; a small whole deserved praise, and his success more figure, with a long beard, a hat and than answered his expectations. He plume, a medal pendant on his breast, some time after attempted a single li one arm under his furred cloak, and figure from a French engraving, af- the other hand extended, resting on ter a painting by David Teniers. In his walking-cane ;-a middling-sized copying the finished work of a regu- landscape lengthwise, with a cottage lar engraver, he laboured under con- embosomed among trees near a roadsiderable disadvantage, from having side, a level distance, and a pictuto aim at those delicate gradations of | resque, sky--the names “ J. Crome shade with the etching-needle and pi-"“ E. Girling fecit,” are etched aqua-fortis alone, which, in the ori- upon this plate ;-a copy of Remginal, had been produced by a com- brandt's well-known landscape, called bination of etching, the graver, and the Three Trees;- an upright plate, dry-point. A single figure, when containing five heads copied from taken from a group, in the light and Rembrandt's great print of the Deshade of which it harmonizes as an scent from the Cross. After this, integral part, loses, in its detached his next work was a very wonderful state on a white ground of paper, the copy from the last-mentioned print, support of all its accessories, and, etched.of the same size as the ori. like every other part sundered from ginal. I have had a fine impression a whole, it is liable to a certain de- of this copy in my possession, but I gree of harshness. The general made a present of it to a gentleman breadth of effect is preserved in very capable of appreciating its vaGirling's copy with a good deal of a lue, and I have not one now before painter's spirit, although something me. of the delicacy is lost in the differ- His copy from Waterloo is a light ent process. The strong shadows and tasteful imitation of that delightand folds of the coarse dress are ful master's manner. His copy of the etched with force and clearness; but Burgomaster with the pendant mehe has been less successful in the dal is etched with singular clearness drawing of the figure and the cha- and delicacy of stroke. The original racter of the head, than in his first is one of Rembrandt's inferior prints; attempt. This defect is more per- it was very faintly corroded by the ceivable in the hand which supports aqua-fortis, and there is an obvious the basket, and in the leg which is effort at importance in the attitude; thrown behind. Notwithstanding its but the importance of Rembrandt's merit, he probably was not well figures is derived from the force pleased with this attempt, as he has of truth, not from an affectation of not affixed his name or date to it. dignity. In the landscape, froin a Of some of his subsequent etchings, painting or drawing by Crome, GirI have borrowed impressions from ling displayed considerable managethe following plates, for my presentment in touching the grounds, trees, and clouds, in all of which he had to | wholly lost; Girling himself speaks form a manner of his own. His copy of this as a failure; and in a half-fiof the Three Trees is an extraordi gure of a Smoker, with a broad-brimnary performance, in which, without med hat, etched, I believe, from a servilely following minute details, he painting by Brauwer, the drawing is caught the spirit of the original, with defective, and the character of the a force and breadth in the masses, head poorly expressed. I have not and a vivacity in the handling of the an impression of these two plates, etching-point, not often surpassed by but I believe that they were very the ablest copyists of Rembrandt. early efforts. The Hon. and Rev. Richard Byron, || With his talents, enthusiastic love Captain Baillie, Basan, and other of the arts, and practical skill, it artists in Holland, have copied the may be a matter of surprise, that Three Trees, but I think Girling's Girling has not given way to his will hold its place with any of them. I passion for the burin, and devoted In his five heads, from Rembrandt's himself wholly to the profession of great Descent from the Cross, the engraving: but he has wisely been lightness and spirit of his etching- governed by circumstances in adherpoint are combined with striking fi- | ing to his original station of clerk in delity of character and vigour of ex. the banking-house at Yarmouth. His pression. The centre bead, that of constitution is naturally delicate, his an old man looking up, with a beard, health is indifferent, and he is now and a bandeau or turban on his head, || about twenty-eight years of age. is peculiarly excellent. His copy of The intense application necessary in Rembrandt's great Descent from the the studies to qualify himself for the Cross, when we consider that all he profession of an engraver must prove has done has been wrought without detrimental, and perhaps extremely instruction by the force of his own | dangerous, to him. There are so mind, may be fairly classed among the many uncertainties in the course of extraordinary triumplis of untaught an artist, and so many obstacles to genius. The effect is very power- prevent the independent establishful, and the characters are expressed ment of a man of merit, although his with vigour; but although the gene powers are manifested, that Girling's ral success of this effort places it resolute adherence to his present reamong bis best works, he has, in a spectable situation, in preference to few details, lost something of the the chances and struggles of another, delicate gradations of tint which form although it may justly be lamented the rich union and magic subordina- as a loss to the arts, must be approvtion of the original.
ed of by all his considerate friends. I have noticed these copies in suc- The certainty of his genius is inconcession as they are numbered with a testibly proved by his works; but the pencil upon the impressions be- acknowledged genius of Proctor liad fore me. But I have seen two other not power to rescue him from public prints of his etching: one, a copy of neglect and all its worst consequences. Rembrandt's Goldweigher, in which
W.C. the character of the head and the June 13, 1825. richness of the half-tints are almost
tol. VI. No. XXXI.
SOCIETY OF ARTS. The annual meeting for the dis- Mr. L. Anstey, Somers-Town, for his im. tribution of the honours and rewards
proved melting-pots for iron and brassadjudged during the last year by | Cuineas.
founders-silver Vulcan medal and twenty this Society was held on the 30th | Mr. W. Sturgeon, Woolwich, for his imof May at the King's Theatre. His | proved electro-magnetic apparatus-large Royal Highness the Duke of Sus- |
silver medal and thirty guineas. sex presided, and acquitted himself
IN MECHANICS. throughout the long ceremonial with .
ith. ll Mr. W. Friend, Earl-street, Finsbury, for
a secret lock-ten guineas. peculiar effect; discriminating the | Mr.J. P. Hubbard, Leadenhall-street, for merits of the various productions, a folding chair-silver Vulcan medal. and complimenting the candidates in || Mr. C. W. Williamson, Kennington, for an a manner at once kind, dignified, and
improved smoothing-plane-ten guineas.
Mr. T. Griffiths, Royal Institution, for an impressive. The proceedings of the
expanding wedge forsawyers-silver Vulcan day were illustrated by one of those medal. luminous expositionswhich come from
| Mr. D. Matthews, Basinghall-street, for
his improved mode of barrowing out soilthe able pen of Mr. Aikin, Secretary
edilary silver Vulcan medal. to the Society. The prosperous Mr. E. Pechey, Bury St. Edmonds, for his state of this useful Institution may Il pump for raising water-five guineas. be inferred from the fact, that since
Mr. T. Cluley, Sheffield, for his lithotomy
forceps-gold Vulcan medal. the last distribution the Society has
W. Brockedon, Esq. Caroline-street, Bedreceived an accession of one hundred ford-square, for a mechanical apparatus to and fifty members.
assist a weak knee-joint-large silver medal. The rewards were presented in
Mr. J. Aitkin, St. John-street, Smithfield,
for his improved quarter clock - twenty the following order :
guineas. IN AGRICULTURE & RURAL ECONOMY. ||
Mr. W. Hardy, Wood-street, Spa-Fields, Ralph Creyke, jun. Esq. Rawcliffe-House,
for an instrument to ascertain very small in Yorkshire, for warping 429 acres of peat by tervals of time-gold Vulcan medal. an improved method-large gold medal.
T. Dickinson, Esq. capt. · R. N. Purbrook Col. James Wilson, Sneaton Castle, near
Heath, near Portsmouth, for his mode of apWhitby, for planting 174 acres with forest
plying percussion-powder to the discharge trees-large gold medal.
of ship's guns-gold Vulcan medal. Messrs. Cowley and Staines, Winslow,
Mr. J. Cow, master boat-builder, Royal Bucks, for raising seed from the American
Dock-Yard, Woolwich, for his improved grass used in making fine plat - twenty
mode of conveying anchors and cannon by guineas.
meaus of a ship's launch-gold Vulcan mes Mr. Wm. Salisbury, Brompton, for his da
al. communication respecting the material em
Alfred Ainger, Esq. Everett-street, Bruns. ployed in Tuscany for fine plat--silver Ce
wick-square, for his centering for arches of res medal.
wide span-gold Volcau medal, George Whitworth, Esq. Acre-House, Lin
Mr. C. Socki, Lambeth, for a safe-valve colnshire, for his improved perennial rye
for steam-boilers-large silver medal and grass-silver Ceres medal.
ten guineas, IN CHEMISTRY.
Colin Shakespear, Esq. Postmaster-GeMr. J. Roberts, St. Helen's, Lancashire,
neral, Calcutta, fora portable rope-bridgefor his apparatus to enable persons to breathe
gold Vulcan medal. in air loaded with smoke and other suffo
IN MANUFACTURES. cating vapours-large silver medal and fifty guineas.
Mr. R. Jones, master of St. George's WorkMr. H. Moore, Green-Hill, Derby, for his house, Little Chelsea, for cloth made of mode of etching and cleaning alabaster New Zealand flax-silver Ceres medal and large silver medal,