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A report from THE CASSELL JOURNAL
“No sir, no training sir, natural gift! Was always fond of drawing as a boy, and when I got low I took to this.”
The “this” was a series of highly-coloured chalk drawings on a London pavement. Divided from each other by broad bands of colour, the set were all neatly framed together with a fancy bolder of chalk, and formed quite a glowing gallery of pictures. One of the scenes was a gorgeous tropical forest, through which ran a limpid spring, and on its banks were two ferocious but gaily-striped tigers with very red tongues, against which the white teeth showed up savagely; this is a circular piece, with a wide border of colour to throw up the greens and reds within. These street artists, as a rule, know, in a general way, how to contrast colours vividly.
Sometimes THE TROPICAL FOREST SCENE IS VARIED, and in the jungle on one side of the stream appears the hunter or hunters arrayed in white, and opposite is a large, fierce, and gorgeous tiger head.
Another scene shows a sense of humour, where a large and cruel cat is laughed at by a mouse of portentous size, which in security jeers at its enemy, and is made to say, “Not for you,” though the reason thereof is not quite clear from the picture. A mackerel and a vase of flowers bear the inscription, ” Fresh today,” while a rat or mouse, in a curious cage, something like a wirework meat cover, is entitled, ” Hard lines,” though whether the title refers to the imprisonment or to the tantalising toothsome morsel outside in the shape of a candle in its socket, or to a pun on the lines of the cage, it were perhaps hard to determine.
But the man has A TOUCH OF POETRY; too, in his pictures. Here is a moonlight night at sea, with a vessel gently sailing over the calm world of waters; here is a storm, with the curling waves flecked and topped with much foam, and a ship near to high and cruel cliffs; here, again, is a winter scene, with plenty of very white snow and a red wintry sunset; while an inscription reminds you that this is a poor man’s talent, and we notice the following legend: —
“As you see remember me,
For life is but a span;
It is our duty to help one another,
And do a good turn when we can.”
The artist, you see, is a rhymster — of a kind — as well as a draughtsman. In one corner may sometimes be seen a space covered, say, with a groundwork of dark blue, and on it written, “To be filled up to show I am not an impostor.” —
Originally published in the Cassell’s Saturday Journal. 28 June 1889.
Researched & transcribed by Philip Battle