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JOSEPH PENNELL'S PICTURES OF THE WONDER OF WORK
REPRODUCTIONS OF A SERIES OF DRAWINGS, ETCHINGS, LITHOGRAPHS, MADE BY HIM ABOUT THE WORLD, 1881-1915, WITH IMPRESSIONS AND NOTES BY THE ARTIST
PHILADELPHIA AND LONDON J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 1916
COPYRIGHT, 1916, BY JOSEPH PENNELL
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER, 1915 REPRINTED OCTOBER, 1916
PRINTED BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY AT THE WASHINGTON SQUARE PRESS PHILADELPHIA, U. S. A.
I WISH IN THIS BOOK TO HONOR CONSTANTIN MEUNIER
THE PROPHET AND EXPONENT OF THE WONDER OF WORK
THE WONDER OF WORK INTRODUCTION
Work to-day is the greatest thing in the world, and the artist who best records it will be best remembered. Work has always been an inspiration to artists, from the time when we were told to earn our bread by the sweat of our brow, till now, when most of us are trying to forget the command, and act like "ladies and gentlemen."
Under the Church, work—the building of the Tower of Babel and the Temple—was the subject of endless imaginings by painters, sculptors and gravers who never assisted at the functions they illustrated. Painters, who sat in their studios hundreds of years after the towers and temples were designed and destroyed, have showed what they imagined the towers and the temples looked like. This—this sort of creation or invention—we art students in America called "genius work" because it was "done out of our heads." In Europe it is called "scholarly," and is concocted from a classical dictionary; a trip for a few weeks to Greece or Italy is useful but not necessary, and adds to the expense; illustrated post cards may be used instead.
Now educated people, cultured people, take such painters seriously—and pay to sit in darkened chambers and brood. These are carefully but sadly illuminated, and the spectators pursue with diligence, scarce looking at the exhibits, the remarks of critics who prove conclusively that these painters show exactly what the world was like, what buildings were like and how they were built, and how the builders worked according to the bookman and archæologist, and the critic.
Now as to these popular forms of art—the backbone of academics,—I know, for I am a multi-academician—I have nothing to say. The results, in a few instances, have been works of art because of excellence of technique. But the man with the greatest imagination is the man with the greatest information about his own surroundings, which he uses so skilfully that we call the result imagination, and this is the way the greatest art of the world has been created.
I am not disputing the power, in their day, nor the charm they still have—for the very few who understand—of Cimabue, of Giotto, of the painters of the Campo Santo at Pisa, when they painted the subjects I have mentioned, nor of Pintoricchio—he put work in the background of his paintings, as Dürer did in his prints. And there is a wonderful building of a cathedral by Van Eyck in Antwerp. There are compositions by Bellini and Carpaccio which show they studied work. It is strange, so far as I know, that Leonardo ignored work—in his pictures—he who was such a great workman, yet vowed he could paint with any one, amongst his other accomplishments. But, with all these artists, either work was a detail or imaginative; it was never the dominant motive, never a study of work for work's sake. There are a few records in sculpture, most notable amongst them being the Assyrian Reliefs at the British Museum. Curiously, I am unable to find, though they must exist, any sculptures, reliefs or paintings of the great architectural work of the Egyptians—or those of the Greeks either. In the Bayeux tapestries there is the work of the shipbuilder and porter.
The first artist I know of—though I am not an art historian—to see the pictorial possibility of work, the Wonder of Work for Work's Sake, was Rembrandt.
Rembrandt saw that his father's mill was beautiful, and by his renderings of the windmills and the dykes of Holland proved them the great works of his little country, and showed they were pictorial. And he drew, etched and painted them because he loved their big powerful forms, their splendid sails, the way they lorded the land and kept out the sea. They were for him the Wonder of Work, the wondrous works of his time, the works that were all about him. So strong and so powerful were these Dutch works that they have lasted till to-day, and so well were they designed that all windmills and watermills have kept their form till now. The working parts have possibly been improved, but the design has not been changed, and Rembrandt's etchings—so accurately drawn they would serve as working models—prove it. And yet Rembrandt has made a perfect artistic composition as well as a true mechanical rendering of these mills and dykes. And as Whistler said in the "Ten O'clock," the Bible of Art, Rembrandt regretted not that the Jews of the Ghetto were not Greeks, nor—may I add?—did he regret the windmills were not temples.
Then came Claude and found the Wonder of Work in commercial harbours, dominated by necessary lighthouses, and in the hustling cities of Civita Vecchia and Genoa—for it is amid the work, the life of one's own time, that the Wonder of Work is to be found.
Canaletto followed, and saw in the building of Venice the same inspiration that Tintoret found in her history, Titian in her great men. And Piranesi discovered the prisons, the Carceri, to be as enthralling as the ruins of Rome.
Turner imitated Claude. Claude saw his subjects about him; Turner used Claude's motives and tried to rival his predecessor. Claude painted what he saw in his own time; Turner tried to reconstruct his unconscious rival's facts out of his head, and failed even in his rendering of work about him, signally in Steam, Rain, Speed, where an impossible engine conducts itself in an incredible fashion in a magnificent landscape. Turner was not here trying to carry on tradition—the only thing worth doing in art—but to _embêter les bourgeois_—and Ruskin!
Turner's Carthage would not stand up, if built—Claude's palaces do. Turner, too, defying Ruskin—Ruskin anathematising workaday England—was a spectacle. But Turner was sometimes in the right, with Constable and Crome, and they, and not Ruskin, have triumphed. Turner had magnificent ideas, wonderful colour sense, grand composition. But when he came to fact he was often ridiculous or pitiful, simply because he had not observed work, noted facts—and to paint work one must study work. And lately I was given a print from a Book of Beauty by Allom of a coke furnace, while Mr. Joseph Jackson has discovered a painting of a forge by Bass Otis in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts—surprisingly well done, both are, too.
It is far easier to paint a heavenly host or a dream city in one's studio than to make a decoration out of a group of miners, or to draw a rolling mill in full blast. Yet one of these subjects can be as noble as the other, as Whistler proved, when he showed for the first time how in London "the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanile, and the warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens and fairyland is before us." That is the Gospel of the Wonder of Work.
Though I never studied under Whistler—never was his pupil—he is and always will be my master—the master of the modern world, the master who will endure. Because he glorified the things about him, the things he knew, by "The Science of the Beautiful." What are the Thames etchings—"Wapping," "The Last of Old Westminster," "The Nocturnes"—but records of work? A fact most critics have never realised. But Whistler was a many-sided—a so many-sided—genius that his many essays in many fields are only just becoming known, and this study of work—the most difficult study in the world, under the most trying conditions—was never abandoned by him till he said what he wanted, in the ways he wanted, not till he had made a series of masterpieces which live and will live forever.
But there was a man—all the great have gone from us in the last few years, which accounts for the momentary popularity of the little—there was a man who gave his later life to the Wonder of Work—Constantin Meunier.
"_Un jour—Meunier approchait déjà de la cinquantaine—Camille Lemonnier l'emmena dans le Hainaut: il devait y faire quelques illustrations pour La Belgique. Ce voyage de Meunier à travers le Borinage lui fut une révélation. Il s'y découvrit lui-même, il y découvrit son art. Dans ce sombre paysage de fumée et de feu, dans le halètement formidable des fabriques, parmi les farouches mineurs et les puddleurs et les verriers, toute une humanité damnée à la peine, son âme tragique s'emplit de cette pitié et de cette admiration qui devaient résonner à travers tout son art. Il avait conquis son propre domaine._
"_Meunier a conquis à l'art la beauté spéciale de la nouvelle industrie: la formidable fabrique, pleine de lumière sombre et de tonnerre, les fêtes flamboyantes des fonderies, la puissance grondante des machines. Et toujours cette tendance est au monumental._
"_L'hymne au Travail chante avec plus de force lyrique encore dans ses bronzes._"
This was his life work, and the life of his world, the world, as with Whistler, around him, for "that is best which nearest lieth." Courbet in work had influenced Legros and Brett and Millet and Segantini, and I have no doubt Ford Madox Brown, the man too big to be a pre-Raphaelite, whose biggest picture is work—"Work in London"—the man who will one day make Manchester a place of pilgrimage because of his pictures of work and of war in the Town Hall.
The Japanese count for a little in work, Hokusai and Hiroshigi. Repine and De Nittis, L'Hermette, Bastien-Lepage, Tissot, Ridley, and W. L. Wyllie have shown the Wonder of Work, the last three on the Thames; and hundreds of imitators of these men have starved peasants, herded kine, rowed boats, and sat in harvest fields, and hauled barges, because they thought it the correct thing to do, or else that they could work the sentimental, pathetic, socialistic game as a diversion from mummy's darling, baby and the mustard-pot, dear little doggie, or poor old Dobbin. I do not mean to say there have not been, there are not, artists who have cared for the work and workers of the fields for their own sake: there are some; but I wish to speak only of industrial work. Millet has, I believe, honestly done the life around his home, the life of the fields, but, though he has endless imitators, there are scarcely any painters to-day who see through their own eyes the real life of the fields and farms and the fisherman—they are blinded by the Frenchman and debauched with sentiment.
It was incredible, but at the Panama-Pacific Exposition there was not one single official "mural" devoted to the glorification of the greatest work of modern times—the Panama Canal—the reason for the Exposition—in fact, there was only one in which there was any attempt at making a decoration out of the things the artist might have known or seen save Mr. Trumbull's Iron Workers in the Pennsylvania Building—and a few rather unimportant things in the Dutch and Argentine Pavilions.
Meunier showed without sentiment the workman at work, not with any idea of preaching about his wrongs, his trials, his struggles, his misery, but to show the Wonder of Work for its own sake, and the pictorial possibilities of workmen and workwomen in Belgium. Meunier showed that the workman was worthy of the artist's chisel, chalk, needle, and paint. There is no sentiment about Meunier; there is grandeur, dignity, and power, and from him we have learned that modern work is wonderful. Meunier was an old man when a few years ago I first heard of him and saw his work. He had then done his heroic "Antwerp" and his puddlers and miners in bronze, his paintings and his chalk drawings, his decorations, his great apse for the unbuilt basilica—the monument to modern work and workers. His work is decorative because it is true, and this brings up another side of the Wonder of Work. In France, Germany, and Italy the Wonder of Work around us has been made the subject of endless commissions from the State to artists mostly realistic. But records of facts, facts of one's own time, in England and America, are scarcely ever recorded. Go to the Royal Exchange, in London, and you will find Wat Tyler, Phœnicians, Britons painted blue, and everything in the history of London that can be made into a painting of the past, and not a single record of the present. Where is the building of the Tower Bridge, the Power Houses, the Docks, the Blackwall Tunnel, the Trams, the Tube, or any of the other works by which this age, this workaday age, has distinguished itself, all of which are worth painting? In America we have imaginings of Holy Grails, Pied Pipers, Religious Liberties, when one fact in "murals" about steel works, skyscrapers, or the Brooklyn Bridge would be worth the lot in the future, when these factless fancies are whitewashed out, or made a good ground to paint on. One man in America, W. B. Van Ingen, has glorified work by his Panama decorations in the Administration Building at Balboa. These were not wanted at the Panama Exhibition. In France men like Henri Martin have painted decoratively, yet realistically, the harvest of last summer; Besnard and Anquetin have done wonders; and the biggest French artists have decorated the Mairies. In Chicago they turn students out to make "murals" in school houses, a system of artistic debauchery worthy of Chicago's originality. And Puvis de Chavannes, first of all magnificently showed the way to combine the old decoration with the new realism. His life work at Amiens is pure convention, so are his designs in the Boston Library and in the Sorbonne, but they are the most perfect examples of decorative, imaginative, conventional work in the modern world.
At Rouen and Marseilles he has treated decoratively modern subjects, or rather he has used modern motives. At Rouen, the city with its spires and chimneys, its old bridges and new transporters, as seen from Bon Secours, prove the Wonder of Work; in the foreground are modern figures, greeting the Spirit of old France. At Marseilles there are two subjects in which symbolism and realism, modernity and mediævalism are harmonised—the most difficult problem to solve; but Puvis has solved it, and proved himself the greatest if not the only decorator since Pierro della Francesco, the supreme master of decoration. Raphael, in the Stanzi of the Vatican, was a decorator of his own time, and so was Pintoricchio in the Library at Siena, and Mantegna at Padua, for they made decoration out of the life about them.
And John Lavery has made, in Glasgow, a decoration out of shipbuilding which is worth the whole wall coverings of the Royal Exchange and the Library of Congress, and the Carnegie Institute put together. But decoration is a difficult matter, and Lavery has done much for Glasgow. I regret that John Alexander and E. A. Abbey, who had far better official opportunities, only proved how unfit the average painter is to decorate.
From the very beginning I have cared for the Wonder of Work; from the time I built cities of blocks and sailed models of ships of them across the floor in my father's office, till I went to the Panama Canal, I have cared for the Wonder of Work. There are others who care—Brangwyn has cared, and so have Sauter, Muirhead Bone, Strang and Short. Crane and Anning Bell, Way, Cameron, Bone and Brangwyn have cared for the building up and the breaking down, and Brangwyn for life—the life of the workman, possibly because of his Belgian and seafaring education or his knowledge of Meunier, his countryman. And Seymour Haden's "Breaking-up the Agamemnon" is notable. And there are Belgians like Baertsoen, de Bruyeke and Pierre Paulus; and Frenchmen like Lepere, Gillot and Adler; and Italians like Pieretto Bianco, and there was the great German Menzel.
But it is to America we must turn, to White's etching of Brooklyn Bridge, Cooper's skyscrapers, Alden Weir's New York at night, Bellow's docks, Childe Hassam's high buildings, Thornton Oakley's coal breakers—to these one must look for the modern rendering of work. There are others, too, who have seen the opportunity to prig and steal—but this is evident, just as it is evident that they will give up painting or drawing work for the next new thing. And there is another artist who really cares for the Wonder of Work. I do not know what else Van Ingen has done, but he has made a huge decoration of Culebra Cut—and Paul Bartlett has put American work on the pediment of the Capitol. I have tried to do what I could in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, the coal mines of my native State—Niagara—and in Europe and at Panama; and whatever their worth, I can only tell of the Wonder of Work as I see it.
New York, as the incoming foreigner, full of prejudice, or doubt, or hope, and the returning American, crammed with guide-book and catalogue culture, see it or might see it, rises a vision, a mirage of the lower bay, the colour by day more shimmering than Venice, by night more magical than London. In the morning the mountains of buildings hide themselves, to reveal themselves in the rosy steam clouds that chase each other across their flanks; when evening fades, they are mighty cliffs glimmering with glistening lights in the magic and mystery of the night. As the steamer moves up the bay on the left the Great Goddess greets you, a composition in colour and form, with the city beyond, finer than any in any world that ever existed, finer than Claude ever imagined, or Turner ever dreamed. Why did not Whistler see it? Piling up higher and higher right before you is New York; and what does it remind you of? San Gimignano of the Beautiful Towers away off in Tuscany, only here are not eleven, but eleven times eleven, not low mean brick piles, but noble palaces crowned with gold, with green, with rose; and over them the waving, fluttering plume of steam, the emblem of New York. To the right, filmy and lace-like by day, are the great bridges; by night a pattern of stars that Hiroshigi never knew. You land in streets that are Florence glorified. You emerge in squares more noble than Seville. Golden statues are about you, triumphal arches make splendid frames for endless vistas; and it is all new and all untouched, all to be done, and save for the work of a few of us, and we are Americans, all undone. The Unbelievable City, the city that has been built since I grew up, the city beautiful, built by men I know, built for people I know. The city that inspires me, that I love. And all America is like this and—all—or nearly all unseen, unknown, untouched.
I went to Panama because I believed that, in the making of the greatest work of modern time, I should find my greatest inspiration.
Almost before I left the Canal, artists, architects and decorators were on their way there. I hope it may interest them half as much as it interested me. One man has succeeded, I repeat, in doing something for himself down there—W. B. Van Ingen—and this has been acknowledged by the government, which has purchased his great decoration. This is the finest, in fact the only complete decorative work from him done in the United States—and done because Van Ingen, the pupil of La Farge—who alone counts—was trained in the right way and had something to say for himself.
We have recently been told that art will disappear in fifty years (by a person who says he will call his last book—with possible appropriateness—_Vale_). But, though he will disappear, and Post Impressionism will be swallowed up in shopkeeping, and war has engulfed that, and work is stopped—save for war—and though the mustard pot has gone with the soulful doggie, and the tearful baby rival of the Dresden Madonna, the artist who has something to say in his own way about his own time, and can say it, will live, and his work will live, with Rembrandt, Velasquez, Franz Hals, Meunier, and Whistler—artists who painted and drew the work and life about them, who carried on tradition, and never regretted the past. And art which shows life and work will never die, for such art is everlasting, undying, "The Science of the Beautiful."
This introduction is founded on a lecture delivered before the Royal Society of Arts, London, and awarded its medal, and an article published by _The Studio_, and the author wishes to thank the Council and Publisher for permission to reproduce parts of it. And it was repeated before the Royal College of Art, London, The Corporation of Bradford and the British Architectural Association, London, etc.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
BUILDING THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS, PHILADELPHIA I
THE NEW HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA II
THE MANUFACTURERS' CLUB AND STOCK EXCHANGE, PHILADELPHIA III
OIL REFINING, POINT BREEZE, PHILADELPHIA IV
OIL WELLS, ALBERTA, BRITISH COLUMBIA V
STEEL AT GARY, INDIANA VI
THE JAWS, CHICAGO VII
STOCK YARDS, CHICAGO VIII
UNDER THE BRIDGES, CHICAGO IX
THE CAMBRIA STEEL WORKS, JOHNSTOWN X
PITTSBURGH, NO. 3 XI
EDGAR THOMSON STEEL WORKS, PITTSBURGH XII
ON THE WAY TO BESSEMER XIII
CARNEGIE'S WORKS, HOMESTEAD XIV
COAL BREAKERS, SHENANDOAH XV
WORK CASTLES, WILKES-BARRE XVI
BUILDING A POWER-HOUSE, NIAGARA XVII
BUILDING A SKYSCRAPER, NIGHT, NEW YORK XVIII
BUILDING THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING, NEW YORK XIX
BUTTE, MONTANA, ON ITS MOUNTAIN TOP XX
ANACONDA, MONTANA XXI
APPROACH TO DULUTH, THE LAND OF WORK AND BEAUTY XXII
ORE WHARVES, DULUTH XXIII
ORE MINES, HIBBING XXIV
FLOUR MILLS, MINNEAPOLIS XXV
THE INCLINE, CINCINNATI XXVI
VICTOR EMMANUEL MONUMENT AT ROME XXVII
REBUILDING THE CAMPANILE, VENICE XXVIII
RETURN FROM WORK, CARRARA, ITALY XXIX
THE NEW BAY OF BAIE, ITALY XXX
THE HARBOR AT GENOA, ITALY XXXI
THE GREAT WHITE CLOUD, LEEDS, ENGLAND XXXII
POTLAND, ENGLAND XXXIII
THE RIVER OF WORK, LEEDS, ENGLAND XXXIV
THE GREAT CHIMNEY, BRADFORD, ENGLAND XXXV
THE GREAT STACK, SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND XXXVI
THAMES WORKS, LONDON XXXVII
SCHNEIDER'S WORKS AT CREUSOT, FRANCE XXXVIII
OLD AND NEW MILLS, VALENCIENNES, FRANCE XXXIX
THE LAKE OF FIRE, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM XL
THE GREAT DUMP, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM XLI
THE IRON GATE, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM XLII
CRANES, DUISBURG, GERMANY XLIII
NEW RHINE, GERMANY XLIV
BUILDING THE RAILROAD STATION, LEIPZIG, GERMANY XLV
BUILDING THE BRIDGE AT COLOGNE, GERMANY XLVI
BUILDING THE "BISMARCK," HAMBURG, GERMANY XLVII
THE HUT OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE, OBERHAUSEN, GERMANY XLVIII
SHIPYARD, HAMBURG, GERMANY XLIX
KRUPP'S WORKS, ESSEN, GERMANY L
POWER-HOUSE, BERLIN, GERMANY LI
SCHNAPPS AT SCHIEDAAM, HOLLAND LII
I BUILDING THE PUBLIC BUILDINGS
This etching proves that my love of the Wonder of Work is no new thing, for it was done in 1881, out of my studio window in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, on the hot morning that Garfield was shot. Even then I knew what I wanted to do, but I had no idea that—with certain breaks—all my life would be given to the Wonder of Work—the work that is all about us, the most wonderful thing in the world.
II THE NEW HOUSE, PHILADELPHIA
I can remember the bed of mortar in the street, the hod-carrier toiling up the ladder, the bricklayers above on the scaffold, and I have drawn such things; but to find during one's lifetime such a development of building in my own city is amazing, but it is well worth recording—this phase of the Wonder of Work.
III THE MANUFACTURERS' CLUB AND STOCK EXCHANGE, PHILADELPHIA
One hot summer evening I was asked to dine at the University Club, and this drawing is the result. I had no idea that I would get anything but—as one always does in Philadelphia—a good dinner. I have forgotten the good dinner and the doubtless good talk, but I shall never forget the towering buildings, in the coming night, grouped round the low houses, and the dark hole from which the steel skeleton was emerging, soon to become higher and mightier than the grim masses amid which it was growing. So I came back the next day and drew it.
IV OIL REFINING, POINT BREEZE
If any one cares to look up a copy of the _Century Magazine_—or it was then _Scribner's_—for about 1880 or 1881, there will be found in it my first published drawing of the Wonder of Work—and of this same oil refinery at Point Breeze. Now I am back in Philadelphia, years after, and I have found the same subject as full of inspiration as ever. And though the editors of that date were willing to publish my drawings of such subjects then—now they won't have them, or use those of my flatterers—I mean imitating thieves. But there is scarce an art editor left—that profession scarce exists any longer.
V OIL WELLS, ALBERTA
I have never yet found a perfectly satisfactory oil field, as a subject for the Wonder of Work. The wells are not big enough, they are all alike, and there is no smoke. I confess I once thought an oil well gushed like a geyser, hundreds of feet in the air, and, when it was not doing that, belched forth gorgeous columns and clouds of smoke. I was told that the first was prevented with difficulty, and that by dropping a match into the pipe I could easily produce the second effect—though either might cost me a million; still, the fact remains, I have yet to find a really fine oil field—and a really fine effect over it. The refineries, however, make up for the wells.
VI STEEL AT GARY, INDIANA
If there is anything in carrying on tradition it is here, for here at these new works, the engineers, the steel makers, have built mills which are nothing more than Rembrandt's mills glorified and magnified. And everything in the Wonder of Work is only carrying on tradition. Every mill, every dock, every railroad station, every bridge, every skyscraper is but a development of the work of the Greeks and Romans. In trying to show this Wonder of Work to-day I am only trying to do what has been done already with Greek art and literature. We are not original and never can be. We may believe we are and prove ourselves ignorant or cubists, but the cubists are so ignorant—or think the public are—that they only prig from archaic art. We can carry on tradition with difficulty; we can easily turn backward or stand still. Those who have created the Wonder of Work do not turn back—artists do not—duffers do.
VII THE JAWS, CHICAGO
Here is the real Chicago. This was the first of these jaws I ever saw; they are horrible, but fascinating, and typify the power, frightfulness, and get-there of that mighty village: picturesque beyond words, terrible beyond description, fascinating beyond belief. The most amazing thing in the most amazing mix-up in the world—Chicago.
VIII STOCK YARDS, CHICAGO
The lines of the pens or corrals, or whatever they are called, are fascinating to draw—and fascinating it is to watch the picadors, or cowboys, or whatever you call them, rounding up the cattle, and all the lines of the design lead up to the packing-houses which fill the distance. I have never been in them, don't want to go, and have no interest in the social, financial, or sanitary condition of them. I am always being criticised for lacking interest in such matters, but my critics do not realize I am simply an artist searching for the Wonder of Work—not for morals—political economy—stories of sweating—the crime of ugliness. I am trying to record the Wonder of Work as I see it, that is all.
IX UNDER THE BRIDGES, CHICAGO
Bridges should be seen sometimes from below—from nowhere else are they so impressive. The New York bridges become a thousand times more impressive, the Forth Bridge stretches on forever, the Viaduct de Garibault grows more and more graceful, the bridges at Chicago grimmer. This is the grimmest I have found.
X THE CAMBRIA STEEL WORKS, JOHNSTOWN
Always when I have been going or coming east or west on the Pennsylvania and reached Johnstown I have meant to stop, for from the train it seemed so fine. Now I have stopped and know it is far finer than I imagined, and that there are endless subjects up and down the river banks, but this one of the steel works seems to me the finest—as magnificent as any I have ever seen anywhere.
XI PITTSBURGH, NO. 3
Way down below the level road on which I stood, way on the opposite side of the river, Pittsburgh lies a dark, low mass, hemmed in by its rivers, lorded by its hills; in the hollow the smoke hangs so dense often I could not see the city at all, but once in a while a breeze falls on the town, and the great white skyscrapers come forth from the thick, black cloud, and the effect is glorious—the glorification of Work, for Pittsburgh is the work-city of the world.
XII EDGAR THOMSON STEEL WORKS
I found these works and this view of them on a trolley ride out of Pittsburgh. They group themselves under their canopy of smoke as finely as any in the world, and every works in the Wonder of Work has character—just as a tree has—but how much more impressive is a row of blast furnaces, oil wells, and coal breakers, than trees! Yet these are the subjects of our age—naturally, scarcely any one ever looks at them, especially artists—though I hear the "young artists" of America have with money prizes been encouraged to take up "Labor" as a change from painting "murals"—but you can't help people to be artists or to see things, they must do it for themselves. The only artists who see things in the world are engineers and a few architects, for the mill has taken the place of the cathedral—and the great craftsmen who once worked for Popes now work for captains of industry—for art follows money.
XIII ON THE WAY TO BESSEMER
A few years ago it would have been impossible to have done, or even found, the subjects in this book, for one would have had an impossible tramp, or a trip in a hack, and the nuisance and expense of it all, while the roads rarely went near the mills or works. Now the trolley whisks you about, and frequently deserts the roads to get to the mills and pick up its passengers, the workmen. The trolley is by far the best guide to the Wonder of Work in the world. I had no idea what was at Bessemer—or rather on the way to it. I had been in the works, but as the car mounted the hill I saw the subject behind me, and at the next stop jumped off and drew it, and it is in this way my work has been done. It's all adventure—the adventure of hunting for the Wonder of Work, and the love of the hunt has carried me all over Europe and America.
XIV CARNEGIE'S WORKS, HOMESTEAD
In the works at Homestead what interested me was the way the mills lie under the hills on the curving river, the way that winds up to them, the way the graceful iron bridges span it, and the deep-sighing steamboats push the barges up and down; the way the clouds mingle with the smoke—the composition that is there.
XV COAL BREAKERS, SHENANDOAH
One afternoon, hunting for subjects, I took the trolley from Mahanoy City in the sunset to Shenandoah, and as we breasted a hill this is what I saw: the long lines of crosses are trolley poles—the huge castle a coal breaker, the great town American, but the people, the miners who go to the churches which crown it, speak languages and worship creeds I do not know or understand. There, and not in Philadelphia, are the new Americans—but most Americans do not know it—for their ways are not Philadelphia ways, and their thoughts not those of Spruce Street. And there is not a man among them who speaks English hardly—and they are too ignorant to know that England is their "Mother Land." But there is even more ignorance in Spruce Street.
XVI WORK CASTLES, WILKES-BARRE
From the end of the new bridge which has replaced the wonderful old wooden ones that got one somehow across the Susquehanna and other American rivers, wandering just at sunset up the beautiful bank of the beautiful river, I found this splendid subject. All, many would say, that was wanted were some knights bringing home fair ladies; all, others would say, was the poor workman, trudging, filled with Millet sentiment, whiskey, or his wrongs, to the filthy hole he is allowed to live in and call his—for the time—home; for these mining towns, the fault of their inhabitants, are pigsties—pigsties that no government in any country in the world but this would permit. It is only in America that immigrants live like hogs—as they like—no government in Europe would permit it. I have seen both hemispheres and know most social reformers have not—and would not know if they had. We are trying to clean up the world before we can clean our back yards. But I only looked at the coal breaker as making, perfecting, carrying out a composition in a glorious landscape, and for that reason I sat down and drew it.
XVII BUILDING A POWER-HOUSE, NIAGARA
The purists and the theorists have made a great fuss about the destruction of the Falls and the vandals who have done it. Now the Falls, I believe, have not been lowered an inch, and as for the power-houses, they are most of them Greek temples, and placed just where the Greeks would have placed them. For once the Greek temple is right in America, and therefore the American purist and theorist doesn't like it—he would not have liked Greek temples had he been Greek. I did not draw the temples, but the temples being built, which was interesting. Below the bridge on the American side are older works, wondrous works, high on the cliffs, great overflows of water gushing from the rock. If they were in Tivoli the purists would sit down between two trains and snapshot the "cute" Villa d'Else and the "hansome" Villa of Hadrian, or revile the spaghetti, while a courier quoted Baedeker at them. At Niagara they take off their clothes, put their feet on the piazza rail of the Canadian hotel, sigh over the power-houses, delight in ginger-ale, and forget the Falls, in the pages of a Saturday Home Magazine. This lithograph is a proof that engineers design to-day for companies, not churches.
XVIII BUILDING A SKYSCRAPER, NEW YORK
This was the end, and a most pictorial end, of the old Everett House, a hotel which had character as so few now have—in New York. I saw it one cold November night and made the sketch on my way to a dinner party in old New York. The dinner waited till I got a sketch done, for I knew the construction man would not. So it was done.
XIX BUILDING THE WOOLWORTH BUILDING
Here is a moody colossus—sometimes it is fine, sometimes filthy. It was all right the day I made this drawing, stately amid the clouds. One thing it has done—it has made a new sky line and brought New York together again. It comes up best from the river, but no longer do the Brooklyn river-boats run; from them I used to get the best views. Still, there are other ways of seeing the Wonder of Work even now at New York.
XX BUTTE, MONTANA, ON ITS MOUNTAIN TOP
Butte is the most pictorial place in America—therefore no one stops at it—and most people pass it in the night, or do not take the trouble to look out of the car windows as they go by. But there it is. On the mountain side spring up the huge shafts. The top is crowned not with trees but with chimneys. Low black villages of miners' houses straggle toward the foot of the mountain. The barren plain is covered with gray, slimy masses of refuse which crawl down to it—glaciers of work—from the hills. The plain is seared and scored and cracked with tiny canyons, all their lines leading to the mountain. If you have the luck to reach the town early in the morning you will find it half revealed, half concealed in smoke and mist and steam, through which the strange shafts struggle up to the light, while all round the horizon the snow peaks silently shimmer above the noisy, hidden town. If you have the still better fortune to reach it late in the evening you will see an Alpine glow that the Alps have never seen. In the middle of the day the mountains disappear and there is nothing but glare and glitter, union men and loafers about.
XXI ANACONDA, MONTANA
I have seen many volcanoes, a few in eruption—that was terrible—but this great smelter at Anaconda always, while I was there, pouring from its great stack high on the mountain its endless cloud pall of heavy, drifting, falling smoke, was more wonderful—for this volcano is man's work and one of the Wonders of Work. Dead and gray and bare are the nearby hills, glorious the snow-covered peaks far off, but incredible is this endless rolling, changing pillar of cloud, always there, yet always different—and that country covered with great lakes, waterless, glittering, great lava beds of refuse stretching away in every direction down the mountain sides into the valleys, swallowing up every vestige of life, yet beautiful with the beauty of death—a death, a plague which day by day spreads farther and farther over the land—silently overwhelming, all-devouring—a silent place of smoke and fire.
XXII APPROACH TO DULUTH, THE LAND OF WORK AND BEAUTY
The lines of the winding waterways, each leading to a furnace, a mill, an elevator, are simply beautiful and the color absolutely lovely. This is the modern landscape—a landscape that Claude would have loved. All his composition is in it—only the mills have replaced the palaces, the trestle the aqueduct; instead of the stone pine, there stands the water tower; instead of the cypress, the automatic signal; instead of the Cross, the trolley pole. Soon, however, all this will go—the mystery of the smoke will vanish in the clearness of electricity, and the mystery of the trestle in the plainness of the concrete bridge. But it is here now, and the thing is to delight in it. Artists don't see it—and the railroad men who have made it don't know any more than the Greeks what a marvellous thing they have made.
XXIII ORE WHARVES, DULUTH
Mighty, terrifying are these monsters—filled chock-full with ore, which, when the empty steamers come alongside, vomit roaring red and gold and brown streams of ore that load them in half an hour, or less, and then are ready for more.
XXIV ORE MINES, HIBBING
If one wants an idea of what the Culebra Cut looked like, when the Panama Canal was being dug through the mountains, it is only necessary to go to the ore mines near Duluth. There are the same great terraces, the same steam shovels, digging and loading the dirt, the same engines and trains, and in some of the pits the forms are even fine—amphitheatres,—only the seats and steps are gigantic. But when the shadows begin to creep up from below, the place becomes a theatre for the gods, a theatre where there are no spectators, and the actors are the steam shovels with their white plumes and the engines with their black clouds. But they are finer far than any poor mummer's makeshifts. And every now and then comes a burst of applause as a blast is fired more thrilling than ever heard in a play theatre. This is the theatre of the Wonder of Work.
XXV FLOUR MILLS, MINNEAPOLIS
The mills of Minneapolis are as impressive as the cathedrals of France. There are places on the river where they group themselves into the same compositions, with the bridges below them, that I found years ago at Albi—only the color is different: the rosy red of the French brick is changed to dull concrete gray. The tree masses below are the same, and the old stone railroad bridge over the Mississippi is just as drawable as that over the Tarn. The beauty of the flour mills is the beauty of use—they carry out William Morris's theory that "everything useful should be beautiful"—but I don't know what he would have said to them. There are other subjects which recall Tivoli, where the streams gush out from the bluffs or tumble and rush and roar from dark caverns between the huge modern masses of masonry as finely as they do in far-away Italy. Those were the shrines of the gods—these are the temples of work, the temples of our time.
XXVI THE INCLINE, CINCINNATI
There are hundreds of these inclines—ascenseurs, finiculari, in the world—all fascinating from above or below—but I know of none so fascinating as this even among the numbers at Cincinnati—none in which the pitch is steeper, the stop so sudden—none where the streets lead direct to the heart of the city; no city so dominated, concentrated, at its heart, by its lone white skyscraper, as Cincinnati. That is why I drew it; and, as I drew, the boy who opened and shut the gates came and told me he wanted to be a poet, that he was a poet, and that Poe was the greatest American author, which most great Americans do not know, and that he loved Shelley, and so I recommended Whitman to him, of whom he had not heard, and advised him to attend to his gates and his poetry and then he might do something. And he asked me if I had done anything myself. If I had made good! Well, have I?
XXVII VICTOR EMMANUEL MONUMENT, ROME
A triumph of misdirected work which has swallowed millions with no result—only while it was being built, the scaffolding which surrounded it was magnificent, and from where I made the drawing on the Palatine it told the story of ancient, mediæval, and modern work in Rome.
XXVIII REBUILDING THE CAMPANILE, VENICE
The changes in the methods of work between Canaletto's time and mine were never more clearly shown. When he drew the building being restored, it was hidden in scaffolding; when it was rebuilt, as I saw it, a few years ago, everything was done from the inside, till the top was reached, men and materials being carried up on elevators. It is said one of our ingenious American Captains of Labor offered to rebuild it free if the Venetians would let him put two elevators in, and have the profits of them for twenty-five years, after which he would hand it to the city and retire on the results. The Syndic declined, but put in the elevators.
XXIX RETURN FROM WORK, CARRARA, ITALY
I have never seen anything so impressive as the quarries at Carrara. The great white masses one can see as the train passes Carrara station, or from Pisa, are not snow, as many think, but marble—high on the tops of the mountains, quarried for centuries by regiments of men who toil on foot, in trains or are swung up in baskets to the summit. Then down the roughest track, only smoothed by the blocks, the marble is dragged by teams of oxen, driven by men sitting backward, to the railroad or the harbor. The contrast between the dazzling blocks, the blue sky and black trees, and untouched mountain side is intense.
XXX THE NEW BAY OF BAIE, ITALY
I have no doubt I shall be told I am cheekily reckless to tackle Turner's subject—I have even known a collector to get rid of this print with scorn—but I am glad I drew it. I do not know if Turner made his drawing from the same point. Just where, after the long climb up the hill from Naples, between the cliffs, the road begins to descend, it turns, and all this is before you. I do not know whether it will be in existence when the book appears, or battered to ruin, but I do know that nowhere in the world is there such a combination of classic and mediæval motives and the spirit of modern work as in this view from the top of the hill looking down on the land and the sea near Naples.
XXXI THE HARBOR AT GENOA, ITALY
In Italy alone can the wonder of the old and new work be found. This subject must have been sketched by Claude—for these two lighthouses appear—or others like them—possibly at Civita Vecchia, again and again in his paintings. But he never saw the harbor crowded with steamers, the twinkling lines of electric light, the cranes, the engines and the docks. I have, and have tried to draw them all.
XXXII THE GREAT WHITE CLOUD, LEEDS
I saw this extraordinary effect one day at Leeds. Nothing could be finer than the way the great, strange furnaces told like castles—and they are work castles—against the great white clouds of a summer day in England.
XXXIII POTLAND, ENGLAND
On its little hill, entirely covering it among the Five Towns, stands this work town. Pottery kilns and chimneys, and not church spires and campanile, crown it. But in that land of work—coal mines and factory stacks about—it is perfect as a composition—as fine as any of the little towns Rembrandt drew and Dürer built. I don't even know its name.
XXXIV THE RIVER OF WORK, LEEDS, ENGLAND
Slow-moving, filthy, black—here and there gleams of iridescence lovely as old glass—that come from oil waste on the water—it winds smellily through the Black County of England. There are many of these rivers in the world. Over them brood black, murky clouds, great black chimneys vomit black smoke, and then for a moment the sun breaks through and turns all to glory.
XXXV THE GREAT CHIMNEY, BRADFORD
There it stood, solitary—beyond, behind, below—climbing up the endless hills silhouetting the horizon, revealed and hidden by showers, smoke, clouds, chimneys and chimneys and chimneys—the endless landmarks of industrial England.
This etching illustrates, too, the necessity of doing the Wonder of Work when you find a subject, and not saying, "I will come again and do it later"—and you must find your subjects for yourself: no one can tell you where there is a fine smoke effect or a stunning steam jet. I had made the etching and later was in Bradford again and went back to look at it. Not only had it all been fenced in, but a new factory was being built round it—it had completely disappeared.
XXXVI THE GREAT STACK, SHEFFIELD
If either you have the brains, or it is clear enough, you can see this great stack dominating the whole landscape and townscape as you come out of the railroad station at Sheffield. A great American literary person actually saw it and regretted, on an editorial page, that no artist ever looked at such subjects; but when I not only wrote him that I had etched it already and sent him a proof to prove it, he never acknowledged my letter, but he kept the proof. I may say that in 1883 I made a series of illustrations of work subjects in Sheffield which were printed in _Harper's Magazine_. Two things always impressed me in that town—the boiling water in the rivers and the abominable habits of the natives in the streets, who from across the rivers and behind walls and other safe places "'eave arf a brick" at you if you dare to draw.
XXXVII THAMES WORKS, LONDON
Along the sunny Thames still linger the old docks, old warehouses—worked in the old out-of-date way—mostly by hand. Ashore and afloat the port of London is the most out-of-date place in the world—and it's scarcely even picturesque any longer.
XXXVIII SCHNEIDER'S WORKS AT CREUSOT
This is the Volcano of Work, and the blast furnaces are its crater. Right in the town, but below it, surrounded by high hills, it stands, and you can, from the corner of the Grande Rue, look down into the seething depths of it—and every little while it pants, it roars, and then explodes in fire and fume. This drawing was made from the hills opposite the town, but shows how like the crater of a volcano the whole place is.
XXXIX OLD AND NEW MILLS, VALENCIENNES
Nowhere have I ever seen the old and the new so contrasted as here, both mills working—both pictorial—and both probably now destroyed.
XL THE LAKE OF FIRE, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM
At night all furnaces are infernal, but Charleroi is the most terrifying of all. By the roadside was a black lake beyond a roaring furnace. An engine pushed a car of molten slag to the top of the dump and dumped it. The living liquid fire roared and tumbled into the lake, turning it to fire.
XLI THE GREAT DUMP, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM
Near all great works these great dumps are, but none I have seen are so great as those of Belgium. The refuse is carried by travellers to them, received either by girls who no longer dress as Meunier saw them, but in coarse, thick, short gowns, their hair tied up in white towels. Or the slag and dirt are dumped directly on the growing mountain, and this refuse falls in the most beautiful lines and the most lovely grays and browns, like velvet or the fur of some huge beast, which grows and grows, towering over the chimneys, the furnaces looming up through the smoke, always growing and growing, fed by the travellers which carry to it an endless chain of creaking buckets high in air, sometimes for a kilometre, over ploughed fields and slow-moving rivers, to these work mountains.
XLII THE IRON GATE, CHARLEROI, BELGIUM
High in the air the iron gate hangs—the entrance to the great works. When there is a strike it comes down, and not only is it topped with sharp spikes, but, I was told, it could be charged with electricity and is pierced with holes through which to shoot. On either side are guard-houses on the wall, fitted with guns—all these preparations made for strikers, for industrial war. Now that real war has come, I wonder what part the iron gate plays.
XLIII CRANES, DUISBURG, GERMANY
I know nothing of the lifting power or any other accomplishments of these cranes, but I do know that nowhere in the world are there such huge, such picturesque cranes as those of Germany, and in Germany the finest are in and around Duisburg and Hamburg. They may not carry any more than, or as much as, American machines, but they are far bigger and more drawable, and those on the high banks of the Rhine superbly placed, each full of character, each worth drawing.
XLIV NEW RHINE, GERMANY
The Rhine is wonderful from the sea to the source—but fine as one finds the old castles and the combinations of old castles and new mills, the new mills, new Rhine castles, have made a new river, and they are the most interesting things on it.
XLV BUILDING THE RAILROAD STATION LEIPZIG, GERMANY
It is difficult to tell whether an American railroad station is a Greek temple, a Christian Science church, a free library, a bank, a museum, or a millionaire's residence or his tomb. A German railroad station looks like a railroad station and nothing else.
I believe this station is larger—it is certainly far better designed than anything in America—but the building of it, with the great, half-finished arches looming up, was a splendid motive. I was in Leipzig in April, 1914, drew this; I returned in June and the subject was gone; all that remained was the Graphic Art and Book Exhibition, the finest ever held anywhere. And that was ruined by the fools who brought on the fool war.
XLVI BUILDING THE BRIDGE AT COLOGNE
Drawn after war was declared with Russia, 1914.
It is a fashion of the art critic to praise Japanese arrangement and construction. No Japanese ever designed so pictorial and so powerful a bridge as this, yet, on the whole, it looks like a Japanese bridge and has the feeling of one, but it is doubtful if the engineer who designed it ever saw Hiroshigi's prints.
XLVII BUILDING THE "BISMARCK," HAMBURG
I believe the _Bismarck_ is the biggest ship—or the biggest German ship—yet launched; the crane beside her is the biggest and the most wonderfully controlled I have ever seen anywhere, and the whole made a composition as fine as anything in the Wonder of Work.
XLVIII THE HUT OF THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
Never anywhere, even in orderly Germany, have I seen such an orderly place as this steel works, and yet it was picturesque. Every chimney, retort, and furnace seemed to be cleaned daily. There was in the late afternoon light a beautiful blue sheen on the furnaces, the brick of the chimneys was delicate red which harmonized with the gold and rose fumes from the blasts, amid all the white smoke was pierced with purple and blue, and in front was the greenest grass plot I have ever seen, kept, like all the works, in perfect order, and around the outer border engines were dragging the most lurid melted white-hot refuse—roaring fire.
XLIX SHIPYARD, HAMBURG, GERMANY
The pattern of the steel work of this shipbuilding yard was like lace, yet in this delicate lacework maze the most powerful men-of-war, the largest merchant ships, were built and launched—yet the effect of these yards was filmy, delicate, gossamer—the most beautiful lines I know in the Wonder of Work.
L KRUPP'S WORKS, ESSEN, GERMANY
I shall not tell the story how I made this print—many others in the book have stories, too—but I will say that Essen is pictorially among the least interesting of the great work cities of the world, because, first, much of it is new, up-to-date and therefore uninteresting artistically, and, second, because it stands in a plain, surrounded by high walls, and I never have been able to find a point where I could see anything. Still, there are great subjects in the shops, and this is one of them.
LI POWER-HOUSE, BERLIN, GERMANY
I always love these power-houses with their huge chimneys, but it is rare indeed that they compose so well as this. But many other industrial palaces in Berlin are fine: the General Electric Company's works, its dynamo building shops, and the city gasometers which have been made into modern work castles of the most enormous bulk; and the much-written-about flower-covered buildings of the work people. All these make up the Wonder of Work in Berlin.
LII SCHNAAPS AT SCHIEDAAM, HOLLAND
As the Continental express from the Hook of Holland reached Schiedaam the traveller who was not fast asleep—most were—could see the old town where work crowns war—each bastion bears a windmill, while from the city within the walls endlessly rise and silently drift away masses of white smoke clouds, showing for one moment, hiding the next, the spires, towers, and domes of the city. I do not know what makes the smoke clouds—whether Schnaaps or not—but there they always are—and are always to be seen from the station platform from which I made the drawing.
JOSEPH PENNELL'S PICTURES OF THE PANAMA CANAL
Twenty-eight reproductions of lithographs made on the Isthmus of Panama, January-March, 1912, with Mr. Pennell's introduction, giving his experiences and impressions, and a full description of each picture. Volume 7¼ by 10 inches. Beautifully printed on dull-finished paper. Lithograph by Mr. Pennell on cover. $1.25 net.
"Mr. Pennell continues in this publication the fine work which has won for him so much deserved popularity. He does not merely portray the technical side of the work, but rather prefers the human element."—_American Art News._
JOSEPH PENNELL'S PICTURES IN THE LAND OF TEMPLES
Forty reproductions of lithographs made in the Land of Temples, March-June, 1913, together with impressions and notes by the artist. Introduction by W. H. D. Rouse, Litt. D. Crown quarto, printed on dull-finished paper, lithograph by Mr. Pennell on cover. $1.25 net.
Mr. Pennell's drawings of classical temples as they have come down to us are among the very best work of this kind that he has ever done.
BY ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL ILLUSTRATED BY JOSEPH PENNELL
REGULAR EDITION. Containing one hundred and five reproductions of lithographs by Joseph Pennell. Quarto 7½ by 10 inches, XIV-552 pages. Handsomely bound in red buckram, boxed. $7.50 net.
AUTOGRAPH EDITION. Limited to 289 copies (now very scarce). Contains ten drawings reproduced by a new lithograph process in addition to the illustrations that appear in the regular edition. Quarto. XVI-552 pages. Specially bound in genuine English linen buckram in city colors in cloth-covered box. $18.00 net.
LIFE OF JAMES MCNEILL WHISTLER
BY ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL AND JOSEPH PENNELL
THOROUGHLY REVISED, FIFTH EDITION
The Authorized Life, with much new matter added which was not available at the time of issue of the elaborate two-volume edition, now out of print. Fully illustrated with 97 plates reproduced from Whistler's works. Crown octavo. XX-450 pages, Whistler binding, deckle edge. $3.50 net. Three-quarter grain levant, $7.50 net.
Proofs of some of the Lithographs and Etchings in these books may be obtained on application to the publishers.