It is with a great deal of pleasure that the Detroit Museum of Art is able to place on exhibition in one of the East galleries, an exhibition of proof engravings by Henry Wolf, N. A., loaned from his own portfolio. There are forty-five subjects, many of them after world-famous masterpieces, and as well, a number of originals done from nature. The latter incorporating the engraver’s own artistic qualities show him to be an artist of the first rank. Since the early nineties, the half-tone process, whi :h reproduces drawings and photographs in one-twentieth of the time in which a wood engraver could do it, has gradually eliminated from the field of magazine and newspaper illustration the slower process.Order now
Prior to that time, under the patronage of the Century and Harper’s magazines this country became noted for the excellence of the art of engraving on wood, and in the perfection of the printing process and quality of paper to be printed upon, but the half-tone dealt this art a deathblow, and the wood-engravers of America were compelled to turn their attention to other fields.
But two of the best, tenaciously clung to the old art, viz. : Timothy Cole, who has lived and workèd in Europe for the past twentyfive vears, and Mr. Wolf, whose pictures are nov/ on exhibition here. They seemed to feel that this was an artistic expression which might not be rewarded in their life-time, but which time and posterity would give a place in accord with its artistic merits. But these men have not been compelled to wait for posthumous fame. Mr. Wolf’s prints are to be found in the great collections of Europe and America, and he has been accorded many honors and treasures many medals given him both in the United States and in Europe. On the occasion of his receiving a medal at the Exposition des Beaux Arts, Rouen, in 1903, an art critic of that city said: “Mr. Henry Wolf is perhaps the first wood engraver of the world. He possesses a delicacy of burin that hardly allows the execution to be seen; while the suppleness of his graving is such that his proofs might easily be mistaken for paintings in grisaille ” – a delicate gray.
Truly, as Mrs. Chandler says in her appreciation of the master wood engraver, “by some subtle magnetic power he catches the very feeling of the paint- er, and, through his own fine soul and touch transmits it to us. While the lines in his prints do not fail to preserve the outward appearance of the original, they fairly vibrate with sympathetic desire to make us know the very spirit of the painting.” In the present collection one has ample opportunity to study the engraver’s interpretation of paintings by men like Chase, Weir, Sargent, Alexander, Shan- non, etc., men still living and whose work is peculiarly associated with this country, as well as Leonardo da Vinci, Velasquez Vermeer. Manet, and our own Whistler, And finally, certainly not least in point of interest, are Mr. Wolf’s four originals – -“The Evening Star,” “The Morning Star,” “A Scene in Lexington, N. Y.,” and “Morning Mists.”