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American Art

Mr. John A. Lowell, of the well-known firm of John A. Lowell and Co., art publishers, Boston, U.S., has on view at the Fine Art Society's Rooms, New Bond-street, some new American art productions of peculiar interest. Among these are specimens of the "Low Tiles," so called from the manufactory of Messrs. Low, at Chelsea, Massachusetts. These tiles have subjects on their face—portraits or studies of heads, animals with landscape accessories, street scenes, &c.—modelled by hand, in relief, and, of course, reproducible by moulding. Great artistic feeling is shown in the modelling; nor can we be surprised at this, learning, as we do from Harper's and the Century Magazines, that Mr. J. G. Low—who, after many experiments, brought this and other ceramic productions of his firm to perfection—has studied art in the ateliers of Couture and Troyon, and for many years was a decorative painter. But the softly-indicated modelling is much enhanced in suggestiveness; and brilliant decorative colour is, at the same time, attained by the strong and rich-toned glazes, blue, yellow, green, olive, brown, and red, that are added, and which by collecting, in the depressions, also emphasise the relief. This mode of treating tiles is evidently capable of great development. Mr. Lowell likewise shows a number of engraved designs for his next issue of Christmas cards, &c. Many of these are charming in fancy; and the delicacy of the line-engraving and aquatint, from steel plates, with the simple black-and-white result is, it must be confessed, less vulgar, and therefore preferable to the majority of the productions in colours turned out for a similar purpose on this side the Atlantic. We noticed Mr. Lowell's publications of some two years ago; but a further technical remark may now be made. With a view to necessary economy, there is a good deal of "machine-work" in these engravings; yet it seems that the engraver is expected to supply a good deal of the detail, the original designs being not carried far. The latitude thus given is obviously calculated to develop a higher artistic feeling in the engraver, and gives him greater pride in his work than when nothing is left to his knowledge or invention. Another technical novelty is Mr. Lowell's collection is a series of studies, by Mr. A. H. Bicknell, of American scenery, with the richest effects of etching, which are produced by printing from an oil-painting in monochrome on a zinc plate. The disadvantage of this process is that it does not admit of a second impression being taken from the plate; on the other hand, each is a unique work of the artist.

Source: The Illustrated London News, July 1, 1882, p.22