My dear friend Rappard,
I’ve just received the roll of woodcuts. Many thanks for them. They’re all beautiful.
Heilbuth1 finer than any of the sheets by him I already have. I remember your remarking to me once on the particularly fine execution of it. Why does this come to mind? — precisely because the execution struck me — as being done in exactly the way that my brother has already written to me about. If you come here sometime I’ll show you on what that’s done,2 and I think this will rather surprise you, as it does me. And don’t doubt for a moment that you’ll come to understand fully how those effects of grey, white and black are obtained.
The print I’m most pleased with at present is The light of other days by Lucas.3 Isn’t it just like one of Andersen’s fairy tales? Oh, I find it so beautiful and real. As it happens, I have New Year’s Eve4 by I don’t know whom, but a German, also a night watchman before a tower hatch in the snow, which is a pendant as it were. And how vigorously engraved it is.
There’s a lot of life in Marchetti, At the weigh-in,5 resembles Small especially.
I have two curious prints by Gussow. This one with the two old people6 is good.
That beautiful wretch7 is enticing. What a contrast in woodcut between the illustrations in that and The light of other days, for example. I already knew several of the figures, because they were adopted by Univers Illustré, I believe.8 Most were entirely new to me, though, and I find some of them splendid, such as the small figure in white against a tonal brown background of dune or heath, and the walk in the snow too, the old lady in black by the fire.9 It’s what I would call cosy to a high degree.
They may only be impressions, but they’re fresh. It’s a splendid package, again many sincere thanks.
Do you have Snowballing, a large sheet from London News by E. Frère, a school playground with boys?10 I’ve just got it in duplicate.
At the same time I found a particularly fine large print by Vautier, An arrest.11
I long so much for you to come — not just out of selfishness because I long to see you, but also because I’m so firmly convinced that being introduced to the first years of The Graphic, above all, will make an impression on you that will give you ‘complete certainty’ as to the importance of woodcuts. Not that I still believe that you aren’t now very deeply attached to them — on the contrary, I don’t doubt it in the slightest.
But still, there are several prints which you probably don’t know yet and which will make it all even richer and more solid.
It seems to me that if one owns a print and sees it constantly, one comes to find it even more beautiful. I think you know the three Herkomers I’m sending you herewith. But I really want you to have them too.
And — my dear friend — I’ve talked to you a great deal about Pinwell and Walker. Now here for once is a real Walker, first-class quality. Did I overdo my praise of it?12
Now, without more ado you must accept these and the others that I have in duplicate because of The Graphic. In my view prints like these together form a kind of Bible for an artist, in which he reads now and again to get into a mood. It’s good not only to know them but to have them in the studio once and for all, it seems to me.
I don’t doubt for a moment that when you receive these (unless you already have them) you’ll feel that it’s good to have them, and that one immediately decides one never wants to let go of them.
If you feel greater or lesser pangs of conscience about accepting these and other prints, just consider — do you regret having taken those first ones last year? I think not, for, whether it was because of that or something else, this year your collection has been something that you thought about more than in the past. That’s only to be expected: it’s precisely through having those prints oneself that one thinks about them more and more and the impressions become clear and strong. And so these will have a similar effect, I believe. They’ll increasingly become friends of yours.
Now, for my part I haven’t regretted giving them to you, for you appreciate them and you view them as they should be viewed. There are few who are in sympathy with them, and the fact is that I’ve come to value your friendship precisely because you have an eye and a heart for them, and would find it difficult to do without it.
I used to think that most painters felt and thought about art in the same way as you and I, but this isn’t so in this respect.
Well, enough of this. Trust me in this and accept them without more ado. you’ll have more of them when you’ve completely recovered and you come here sometime.
I must say something else to you as regards Irish Emigrants by Holl.13 The woman I wrote to you about is, as a type, rather like the central figure in that print, namely the mother with her child on her arm. Taking a broad view, without considering details.
I can give you no better description of her.
Now, old chap, get well quickly, write soon, have no scruples about this package, thank you again for yours, a firm handshake in thought.