قراءة كتاب The International Monthly, Volume 4, No. 3, October, 1851

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‏اللغة: English
The International Monthly, Volume 4, No. 3, October, 1851

The International Monthly, Volume 4, No. 3, October, 1851

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

sides of the hills are studded; here you find, within the contracted chambers of these small block-houses, if on the ground-flat, standing on an earthen[2] floor like our Highland cottages, an artist of the first ability, tracing the exquisite scrolls and flowers which we see in these beautiful works of art; and which are performed by men bearing all the appearance of simple cotters; but whose hand sweeps free and careless over the glass with the confidence and ease of an experienced artist; seldom being provided with more than two very ordinary looking brushes, a small one and another a size larger, and working frequently without any pattern, or indicating lines upon the glass they are painting; but perfect from habitude, the scrolls, and wreaths, and flowers, come out with the same facility as one traces a name upon the dewy pane of a window. Often the whole family are brought up from childhood in painting and in drawing on glass, and thus producing a race of hereditary artists; boys from thirteen and upwards are employed in the most delicate works in this genre of art. Each cottage where the painting and gilding go on, is provided with a small oven, into which the glass is put to bake in the colors, where it is kept for a day and allowed to cool down; the white figures and flowers, when they go into the oven, are of a dark chrome color, but come out pure white, as will be observed on examining any glass on which flowers of this color are painted; the gold, also, when laid on, is of a dead brown, and when burnt in, is polished, generally by women of the family. The gold in many instances is left unpolished, and only the stalks and fibres are burnished, which give an excellent effect. It is most interesting to go from one cottage to another; in one you are amazed by the exquisite paintings in gold, silver, and colors; in another, the cutting out all those beautiful leaf-work, lily, bell-flower, octagon, and star-shaped vases, which is done, not only by men, but by their children, girls and boys. In one cottage, I was particularly struck by a man, his two daughters, and son, sitting at as many wheels, cutting the most elaborate, but delicate, figures; shaping from the merely turned over bell vases, those beautiful varieties of lily and flower-indented lamps for suspension, and vessels for holding bouquets, tracing the scrolls, stalks, and fibres, with the same ease as the bare-footed wife and mother prepared their supper in the wooden bowl on the earth-floor behind them; for there was but one apartment for the fine arts, the nursery, and the kitchen, yet all was neatness, perfect cleanliness, and order; while on the long beam which formed the sill of the three mullion windows, was arranged a number of glass objects in the glorious colors of Bohemian art—ruby, emerald, topaz, chrysopras, turquoise; with pure crystals, which, richly cut, reflected, like a rainbow, the gems by which they are surrounded. In another cottage, in Steinchönau, I was much pleased with the designs which two young men were painting, both in gold, and colors; of which the former were scrolls of a very superior character, and the latter, flowers, butterflies, and insects. I questioned one of the men respecting the forms and characteristics of those he was painting, and which were beautiful illustrations of Natural History; when he brought me in, from a little bed-room, or rather closet, two boxes full of exquisitely preserved specimens of a great variety of native insects, which he had collected in his leisure hours, and arranged himself, to assist him in his painting. The copies were facsimiles of the originals, both as to colors and character. Among these insects I observed a beautiful miniature crawfish, not so large as a shrimp, a native, also, of the streams in his neighborhood. So identified had these productions of nature become with his imagination, that he was, at the moment I came in, painting some most correctly, without any specimen before him. It is impossible to express the feelings produced by these people, so simple, so industrious, and, above all, so modest. They could not refrain from surprise at the admiration their every-day productions created in us; and these simple artisans would with difficulty believe that their works were sought for, and thus valued, in all powerful and wealthy England, where they believe nothing is unknown, nothing imperfect, nothing impossible! One man whom I visited is an extraordinary genius, rarely to be met with; he has been driven by the force of that same genius, to seek abroad, in France and Bavaria (Munich), food for his mind, and has brought back with him several folio works of engravings from the best masters, from which he designs. Placing before him one of these works, a Raphael or a Rubens, he either copies the group, or composes from them to suit the form of his vase, which he thus embellishes with the most exquisite figures; his name is Charles Antoin Günther. He lives in a little block-house, as humble as the commonest of those above described, on the declivity of a brae, by a small stream, on which stand the little scattered village of Steinschönau. It is composed of only two apartments below, of which his work-room is one, and which is not above ten feet square, with just space enough to hold four little lathes for engraving glass, at one of which he works himself, while the others are occupied by three boys, the youngest twelve and a-half years old, the eldest fifteen! They all engrave beautifully, pieces laid before them by Günther, and which they follow with a faithfulness and spirit only to be believed on personal inspection. He was at work himself on a vase goblet, of the shape of the usual green hock-glass, but which might contain a bottle; it was lapis lazuli blue, enriched by a group of Bacchanalian Cupids and vine-leaves of his own composition, and worked with a spirit and freedom worthy of some of the masters by whose works he was surrounded. What struck me most, was one of those exquisite little figures of Raphael's, in his great picture of the "Madona del Sixto," in the Royal Gallery at Dresden. The cherub leaning on the parapet, with his chin resting on one hand, as he gazes on the Virgin; it is exquisitely drawn in pencil, a fac-simile, and pinned on the wooden wall of the engraver's cottage, immediately opposite his seat. I asked him how he first traced on the glass the subjects which he was to cut; he replied by taking up a plain glass without any figure or indication on its surface, and asking me what subject I should like engraved. On my replying that, being an old deer-stalker, I should be very well pleased with a stag; he immediately applied the wheel to the glass, and in five minutes by my watch, produced one of the most splendid, spirited animals I ever saw in the forest, and really worthy of Landseer; the stag is making a spring over some broken palings and rough foreground, and his action and parts can only be appreciated by those who have lived with the deer on the hill and watched them with the feelings of a hill-man, like Günther, who has had opportunities of seeing the deer in his own native woods, where they abound. I brought this glass away with me, though in itself but an inferior article; merely as a specimen of what I had seen done by this man in the space of five minutes, without a copy or any thing to guide him on the smooth surface of the goblet.

I send you sketches of the artist and his dwelling; and as the portrait exhibits, at the same time, his native costume, it will be the more interesting, and cannot fail to give a correct idea of the character of this Bohemian mountaineer.

The sketch of Günther's House will also afford an idea of these Bohemian artisans' dwellings, more so than any written description could do. I send you with it a drawing of another of these picturesque houses.