London: Published by Thomas M’Lean, Repository of Wit and Humour, 1824. Item #02538
Artists Jargon Satirically Defined
Rare In Original Boards
ALKEN, Henry. A Touch at the Fine Arts. Illustrated by Twelve Plates, with Descriptions by Henry Alken. London: Published by Thomas M’Lean, Repository of Wit and Humour, 1824.
First edition. Quarto (10 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches; 273 x 190 mm.).  pp. Twelve hand-colored soft-ground etchings. Each plate with a leaf of descriptive letterpress. With the half-title and the leaf of advertisements present.
Original quarter crimson roan over drab boards with printed pink title laid on. Some expected corner-wear and rubbing and soiling to boards. Early repairs to spine head and foot, otherwise and internally clean and excellent copy.
“A Touch at the Fine Arts…is, according to the preface, ‘an attempt to elucidate, by graphic delineations, a variety of terms generally and perhaps exclusively made use of by artists, amateurs, connoisseurs, virtuosos, and the like. Long, indeed, has a generous public been, doubtless, puzzled in the endeavour to discover some ray of meaning in those glowing, brilliant and forcible phrases, which the critical catalogues, Catalogues Raisonnées, etc., of the day are woefully burthened with.’ It is a cheap kind of humour at the best. To take two of the most deserving subjects—‘A Moving Effect; the Execution rapid,’ is represented by a runaway coach, with expressions of the utmost horror in the faces and attitudes of the occupants; ‘A Striking Effect, the handling by no means good or pleasant to the eye,’ is illustrated by a fracas between two returning roisterers and some night-watchmen. In these and in plate 2, a prison-scene depicting ‘An unpleasant effect, but the Keeping is Good,’ Alken shows genuine power as a draughtsman, and infuses his work with a character lacking elsewhere. The last plate, indeed, might almost be a coloured lithograph from the hand of Daumier. All twelve plates, it should be said, are soft-ground etchings, with colour applied by hand” (Martin Hardie).
1. —An Imposing Effect
2. Unpleasant in Effect—but the keeping is Good
3. A Moving Effect—the Execution Rapid
4. A Striking Effect—The handling by no means good, or pleasnat to the eye
5. All Effect—The Subject far from good, but Rich
6. A Forcible Effect
7. A Sudden Effect
8. A surprising Effect—but no Execution
9. A Very Warm Effect
10. A powerful Effect—but the subject rather hurried
11. A Spirited Effect—but no order kept in the grouping of the Figures
12. A very Brilliant Effect
Martin Hardie, pp. 183-184 and 319. Siltzer, p. 71. Tooley 58. Not in Abbey.