Page images
PDF
EPUB

and home are inscribed, the realities of stereoscopic photography will excite the most thrilling interest. In the transition forms of his offspring, which link infancy with manhood, the parent will recognise the progress of his mortal career, and in the successive phases which mark the sunset of life, the stripling in his turn will read the lesson that his pilgrimage too has a term which must close. Nor are such delineations interesting only as works of art, or as incentives to virtue; they are instinct with associations vivid and endearing. The picture is connected with its original by sensibilities peculiarly tender. It was the very light which radiated from her brow, the identical gleam which lighted up her eye, the hectic flush or the pallid hue that hung upon her cheek, which pencilled the cherished image, and fixed themselves for ever there.

CHAPTER XI.

APPLICATION OF THE STEREOSCOPE TO SCULPTURE,
ARCHITECTURE, AND ENGINEERING.

To the arts of sculpture and architecture, the processes of binocular photography and stereoscopic combination are particularly applicable. The landscape painter has every day within his reach examples of the picturesque, the wild and the sublime in nature. In the fields which surround him, in the river, or even in the "brook that bubbles by," on the shore, on the heath, or on the mountain side, he has the choice of materials for every department of his art. The sculptor has no such advantage. Swathed in impenetrable drapery the human figure mocks his eager eye, and it is only by stolen glances, or during angel visits, few and far between, that he can see those divine forms which it is his business to portray. He must therefore quit his home and seek for the models of ancient and modern art. In the British Museum, in the Louvre, in the Vatican, and in the repositories of art in Berlin, Munich, and other European cities, he must spend months and years in the study of his profession. He must copy, day after day, those master triumphs of genius which the taste of ages has consecrated,

and gather from their study the true principles of his art. Transferred to his own studio, these copies will be his instructor and his guide. They will exhibit to him forms more than human, though human still, embodying all that is true and beautiful in what might be man. The value of these copies, however, depends on the skill and care with which they have been taken; but no labour however great, and no power of drawing however masterly, can give even an approximate idea either of the outline or round of solid figures, whether single or in groups. Light and shade can alone evolve those muscular prominences, or those soft and sphere-like relievos which give such power and beauty to forms, male and female; but how can an artist catch and fix those lights and shades which give relief to the parts which they illuminate or obscure ? The light of the sun, even in a cloudless sky, is ever varying in intensity, and the breadth and direction of the shadows which he casts are varying from hour to hour. In a cloudy day, the motion of the clouds, and the varying reflexions within his apartment, subject the lights and shadows to constant change. The portions of the drawing executed in the morning will not harmonize with what is drawn at noon, or during the decline of day. We consider it, therefore, impossible to execute a drawing of a statue, or of a group of statues, from which the artist can have anything like an accurate idea of the forms which compose them.

From all these difficulties the sculptor has been relieved by the invention of the photographic process. He may thus take copies of statues in a few minutes, and take them in all their aspects, and as seen at various distances, and in this manner he will obtain drawings with the shadows as

In

they existed at a particular instant, so that the lights and shades, upon every individual part of the statue, will be correctly related to each other. But valuable as these drawings are, compared with those executed by the pencil, their value becomes tenfold greater when they are taken with the binocular camera, and with small lenses, as already described. When combined in the stereoscope, he may reproduce the statue in relief, in all its aspects, and of different sizes, and derive from its study the same advantages which the statue itself would have furnished. one respect the creations of the stereoscope surpass the original. While the artist is surveying and drawing instruction from the marble prototype, its lights and shadows, and consequently the delicate forms, convex and concave, by which they are produced, are constantly changing, whereas, in the stereoscopic statue, everything is fixed and invariable.1 In taking busts and statues from the living subject, the sculptor will derive great advantage from the stereoscope. Double pictures of the whole, or of any portion of the subject, may be taken and raised into relief, and from such binocular pictures, executed on one side of the globe, an artist, on the other side, may complete an admirable statue. The dying and the dead may thus be modelled without the rude contact of a mask, and those noble forms perpetuated which affection or gratitude has endeared.

We must warn the sculptor, however, against the employment of binocular pictures taken with large lenses. Not only will the individual picture be deformed, but a double

A French sculptor has actually modelled a statue from the stereoscopic relief of binocular pictures.

deformity will be induced by their union; and whether he copies from a statue or from a living figure, his work must be defective, even to an ordinary eye.

In architecture, and all those arts in which ornamental forms are given to solid materials, the binocular camera and the stereoscope will be found indispensable. The carvings of ancient, or medieval, or modern art may be copied and reproduced in relief, whatever be the material from which they have been cut. The rich forms of Gothic architecture, and the more classical productions of Greek and Roman genius, will swell the artist's portfolio, and possess all the value of casts. With the aid of the Kaleidoscope the modern artist may surpass all his predecesHe may create an infinite variety of those forms of symmetry which enter so largely into the decorative arts; and if the individual forms, which constitute the symmetrical picture, are themselves solid, the binocular-kaleidoscopic pictures, taken photographically, will be raised into the original relief of their component parts, or they may be represented directly to the eye in relief, by semi-lenses placed at the ocular extremities of the reflecting plates.1 If the symmetrical forms are taken from lines in the same plane, no relief will be obtained from the kaleidoscopic pictures.

sors.

But it is not merely to the decorative parts of architecture that the stereoscope is applicable. The noblest edifices, whether of a civil, a religious, or a military character, which he could otherwise study only as a traveller, and represent in hurried and imperfect sketches, will, when taken binocularly, stand before him in their full relief and gran

1 See my Treatise on the Kaleidoscope, second edition, just published.

« PreviousContinue »