« AnteriorContinuar »
taining a modicum of some sort of body colour, masticot, flake white, &c., prepared by himself and charged at a quarter of a dollar a piece, and which he told her she would want when she came to do landscapes and figures.
Mr. Gummage's style was, to put in the sky, water, and distances with opaque paints, and the most prominent objects with transparent colours. This was probably the reason that his foregrounds seemed always to be sunk in his backgrounds. The model was scarcely considered as a guide, for he continually told his pupils that they must try to excel it; and he helped them to do so by making all his skies deep red fire at the bottom, and dark blue smoke at the top; and exactly reversing the colours on the water, by putting red at the top, and blue at the bottom. The distant mountains were lilac and white, and near the rocks buff colour, shaded with purple. The castles and abbeys were usually gamboge. The trees were dabbed and dotted in with a large bristle brush, so that the foliage looked like a green fog. The foam of the cascades resembled a concourse of wigs, scuffling together and knocking the powder out of each other, the spray being always fizzed on with one of the aforesaid bristle brushes. All the dark shadows in every part of the picture were done with a mixture of Prussian blue and bistre, and of these two colours there was consequently a vast consumption in Mr. Gummage's school. At the period of our story, many of the best houses in Philadelphia were decorated with these landscapes. But for the honour of my towns-people, I must say that the taste for such productions is now entirely obsolete. We may look forward to the time, which we trust is not far distant, when the elements of drawing will be taught in every school, and considered as indispensable to education as a knowledge of writing. It has long been our
belief that any child may, with proper instruction, be made to draw, as easily as any child may be made to write. We are rejoiced to find that so distinguished an artist as Rembrandt Peale has avowed the same opinion, in giving to the world his invaluable little work on Graphics: in which he has clearly demonstrated the affinity between drawing and writing, and admirably exemplified the leading principles of both.
Marianne's first attempt at the great wreath was awkward enough. After she had spent five or six afternoons at the outline, and made it triangular rather than circular. and found it impossible to get in the sweet pea, and the convolvolus, and lost and bewildered herself among the multitude of leaves that formed the cup of the rose, Mr. Gummage snatched the pencil from her hand, rubbed out the whole, and then drew it himself. It must be confessed that his forte lay in flowers, and he was extremely clever at them, “ but,” as he expressed it,“ his scholars chiefly ran upon landscapes.”
After he had sketched the wreath, he directed Marianne to rub the colours for her flowers, while he put in Miss Smithson's rocks.
When Marianne had covered all her saucers with colours, and wasted ten times as much as was necessary, she was eager to commence painting, as she called it; and in trying to wash the rose with lake, she daubed it on of crimson thickness. When Mr. Gummage saw it, he gave her a severe reprimand for meddling with her own piece. It was with great difficulty that the superabundant colour was removed; and he charged her to let the flowers alone till he was ready to wash them for her. He worked a little at the piece every day, forbidding Marianne to touch it: and she remained idle while he was putting in skies, mountains, &c., for the other young ladies.
At length the wreath was finished--Mr. Gummage having only sketched it, and washed it, and given it the last touches. It was put into a splendid frame, and shown as Miss Marianne Atmore's first attempt at painting: and every body exclaimed “What an excellent teacher Mr. Gummage must be! How fast he brings on his pupils!"
In the mean time, she undertook at home to make the small copy that was to go to China. But she was now 6 at a dead lock," and found it utterly impossible to advance a step without Mr. Gummage. It was then thought best that she should do it at school-meaning that Mr. Gummage should do it for her, while she looked out of the window.
The whole was at last satisfactorily accomplished, even to the gilt star, with the A in the centre. It was taken home and compared with the larger wreath, and found still prettier, and shown as Marianne's to the envy of all mothers whose daughters could not furnish models for china. It was finally given in charge to the captain of the Voltaire, with injunctions to order a dinner-set exactly according to the pattern—and to prevent the possibility of a mistake, a written direction accompanied it.
The ship sailed—and Marianne continued three quarters at Mr. Gummage's school, where she nominally effected another flower piece, and also perpetrated Kemble in Rolla, Edwin and Angelina, the Falls of Schuylkill, and the Falls of Niagara; all of which were duly framed, and hung in their appointed places.
During the year that followed the departure of the ship Voltaire, great impatience for her return was manifested by the ladies of the Atmore family—anxious to see how the china would look, and frequently hoping that the colours would be bright enough, and none of the flowers omitted that the gilding would be rich, and
every thing inserted in its proper place, exactly according to the pattern. Mrs. Atmore's only regret was, that she had not sent for a tea-set also; not that she was in want of one, but then it would be so much better to have a dinner-set and a tea-set precisely alike, and Marianne's beautiful wreath on all.
“Why, my dear,” said Mr. Atmore, “how often have I heard you say that you would never have another teaset from Canton, because the Chinese persist in making the principal articles of such old fashioned, awkward shapes. For my part, I always disliked the tall coffee pots, with their strait spouts, looking like light-houses with bowsprits to them; and the short, clumsy tea-pots, with their twisted handles, and lids that always fall off.”
“ To be sure," said Mrs. Atmore, “ I have been looking forward to the time when we can get a French teaset upon tolerable terms. But in the mean while I should be very glad to have cups and saucers with Marianne's beautiful wreath, and of course when we use them on the table we should always bring forward our silver pots."
Spring returned, and there was much watching of the vanes, and great joy when they pointed easterly, and the ship-news now became the most interesting column of the papers. A vessel that had sailed from New York for Canton on the same day the Voltaire departed from Philadelphia, had already got in; therefore the Voltaire might be hourly expected. At length she was reported below; and at this period the river Delaware suffered much, in comparison with the river Hudson, owing to the tediousness of its navigation from the capes to the city.
At last the Voltaire cast anchor at the foot of Market street, and our ladies could scarcely refrain from walking down to the wharf to see the ship that held the box that
held the china. But invitations were immediately sent out for a long projected dinner-party, which Mrs. Atmore had persuaded her husband to defer till they could exhibit the beautiful new porcelain.
The box was landed, and conveyed to the house. The whole family were present at the opening, which was performed in the dining room by Mr. Atmore himself -all the servants peeping in at the door. As soon as a part of the lid was split off, and a handful of straw removed, a pile of plates appeared, all separately wrapped in India paper. Each of the family snatched up a plate and hastly tore off the covering. There were the flowers glowing in beautiful colours, and the gold star and the gold A, admirably executed. But under the gold star, on every plate, dish, and tureen, were the words, “ This IN THE MIDDLE!”—being the direction which the literal and exact Chinese had minutely copied from a crooked line that Mr. Atmore had hastily scrawled on the pattern
pen, and of course without the slightest fear of its being inserted verbatim beneath the central ornament.
Mr. Atmore laughed-Mrs. Atmore cried--the servants giggled aloud--and Marianne cried first, and laughed afterwards.
with a very