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The craftsman
Vol. V, No. 5 (February 1904)

Memorable in the January magazines,   pp. 523-524 PDF (728.8 KB)

Page 523

A MASTERPIECE of art-criticism is
       contained in the article upon Frank
       Brangwyn by M. H. Spielmann, in
the January issue of Scribner's. Definite
facts, excellent technical points and sound
judgments are here offered to the general
reader who, in writings upon art topics, is
too often left to feed upon the dry husks of
studio  phrases.   Short, comprehensive
monographs like Mr. Spielmann's, with
illustrations such as accompany his text,
will do more to form a critical public than
the scores and hundreds of "art-books"
which serve and re-serve a poverty of facts
with the persistency of a French cook who
extends a Sunday dinner throughout the
week: adding a clove to-day, choosing a
bouquet of herbs for to-morrow, and an
onion for the day next following. Toward
the end of the criticism, the writer excuses
himself for having presumed, perhaps, upon
the patience of the reader by the introduc-
tion of technical details. But the apology
is unnecessary. If only articles of this
kind and rank could become more frequent,
they might perhaps act as a barrier against
the flood of fiction which is fast making
chaos in the brains of many intelligent men
and women.
  The last issue of The Century contains
an article which has doubtless attracted
readers from all parts of the country.
This is the description of "Fenway Court,"
the palace and museum recently built by
Mrs. John L. Gardner, upon the marshlands
of the Back Bay, Boston. The illustra-
tions show the refined sense of fitness which
conceived and brought to perfection a
structure unique in the world. They will
serve moreover to heighten the feverish de-
sire of the many who believe themselves to
be unjustly denied entrance to this Tadmor
of the Desert. Jesting aside, it is pitiable
to deprive the public of the means of educa-
tion residing in these beautiful objects,
beautifully placed. But it is to be hoped
that Boston, with its strong municipal pride
and its fostering care for its citizens, will
ultimately acquire Fenway Court, as the
city of Antwerp has acquired the Muskc
Plantin, and open it freely to visitors, upon
the payment of a small fee necessary to the
proper maintenance of the place. It may
seem ungrateful to criticise a description
which, on the whole, is creditable and most
instructive, and yet it is true that Mr.
Baxter's article would have gained much,
had it not been written in a so evident spirit
of adulation for the founder of the Fenway
   Under the head of the "Civic Renas-
cence," the Chautauquan is printing a
series of papers valuable to the general
reader, who must now inform himself upon
all that concerns the national impulse
toward municipal improvement, or other-
wise remain hopelessly in the rear of prog-
ress. The paper for January, by Profes-
sor Zueblin of the University of Chicago,
deals with Metropolitan   Boston. It is
written in a simple, direct style, from a
point of view made tenable by the knowl-
edge of economics and sociology possessed
by the author. It is illustrated judicious-
ly with views chosen, not for pictorial effect,
but for the architectural or mechanical prin-
ciples of which they are the exponents. At

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