The Lament of Edwin Austin Abbey

“It is only natural for an author to suppose or assume that the article illustrated is, as a rule, better than the illustrations. Of course there are two opinions as to this…but I am not sure that a temperate mind, able to judge of both, would not admit that it was an open question….Take the case again of the historical picture! If the right man… is found, one who knows, say, the period of the middle of the seventeenth century, in Holland for instance, he would have to work upon, possibly a subject like this:

“The officer, entering suddenly, discovered the family quietly seated at their midday meal”

Nothing is said of the uniform of the officer—of the fact that the matron of the family has her hair smoothly drawn back and done into a small knob at the back of her head, which is covered by a small round cap like a black muffin ring, having two three-corner tabs coming down over her ears, the whole covered by another cap of white lace, stiffened and turned back in front, in the form of a half moon, to show her bare forehead, and tied at the back with a drawing string; that her black dress is cut low upon the shoulder,... etc. etc...The artist must know what the officer wore and how he wore it…he must know forty other things besides, that he hadn’t allowed for when he sat down to make the drawing and he must frequently get many of the things made up…If he doesn’t take all these pains…he has the assurance that the first time he goes into his club, after the drawing has appeared, a man will say to him ‘That birdcage in your drawing this month won’t do. You got that so-and-so, and it is one made fifty years after for such a man, etc’…This may happen to be the one item of knowledge this particular man has to boast of, but if an illustrator has any pride in his work…he is exceedingly ashamed of his birdcage….

I do not believe that authors, as a rule, see very clearly their characters—that is, pictorially. I had to make a couple of drawings once for a story, and, as the story was rather nebulous, I called upon the authoress, hoping thus to get some inkling as to the appearance of the characters, but she had no clear idea in her head as to what they looked like, or would have been likely to wear, or anything at all about them that was of service to me. I supposed that she would say of course, when I showed her one drawing , that they were ‘not like that’ but I was disappointed even there. She even went the length of saying that she should think that must have been very much like them. ”

some snippage; but written by E.A. 1894

reposted by Gary Land of Michigan, on Facebook.