The Garden Guide

Book: Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening, 1795
Chapter: Criticism of Repton's before and after drawings

J M W Turner's use of light

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Now, in the drawing itself, there is no chance of the distance of the eye being too great; but, in engravings, diminished in a great degree from the originals, it is not unfrequently the case; and, therefore, it is most important that all engravers should be thoroughly aware of this principle, which we shall proceed to develop as shortly as possible. When an engraving is six or eight inches in its greatest dimension, the details are generally so delicate as to compel the eye to approach within its true distance; but as a very slight alteration in position is of great consequence, and will throw the limit within the vision, it is a general rule that those pictures are best adapted for engraving which have most light on the edges, so that the termination may not be harsh. And this is one of the innumerable beauties of engravings from J. M. W. Turner; namely, that the dreamy brilliancy of light which envelops them extends to their extreme limits, and their edge hardly ever cuts harshly on the paper. Martin, on the contrary, whose chief sublimity consists in lamp-black, never made a design yet which the eye could endure, if reduced to a small size.