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Title: Lectures on Art - Delivered before the University of Oxford in Hilary term, 1870
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's note:  Transliteration of Greek words appears between + signs.]

        Library Edition



         TIME AND TIDE






          LECTURES ON ART.


            BEFORE THE


        IN HILARY TERM, 1870.



             LECTURE I.

INAUGURAL                             1

             LECTURE II.


             LECTURE III.


             LECTURE IV.


             LECTURE V.

LINE                                 86

             LECTURE VI.

LIGHT                               102

             LECTURE VII.

COLOUR                              123


The following lectures were the most important piece of my literary work
done with unabated power, best motive, and happiest concurrence of
circumstance. They were written and delivered while my mother yet lived,
and had vividest sympathy in all I was attempting;--while also my
friends put unbroken trust in me, and the course of study I had followed
seemed to fit me for the acceptance of noble tasks and graver
responsibilities than those only of a curious traveler, or casual

Men of the present world may smile at the sanguine utterances of the
first four lectures: but it has not been wholly my own fault that they
have remained unfulfilled; nor do I retract one word of hope for the
success of other masters, nor a single promise made to the sincerity of
the student's labor, on the lines here indicated. It would have been
necessary to my success, that I should have accepted permanent residence
in Oxford, and scattered none of my energy in other tasks. But I chose
to spend half my time at Coniston Waterhead; and to use half my force in
attempts to form a new social organization,--the St. George's
Guild,--which made all my Oxford colleagues distrustful of me, and many
of my Oxford hearers contemptuous. My mother's death in 1871, and that
of a dear friend in 1875, took away the personal joy I had in anything I
wrote or designed: and in 1876, feeling unable for Oxford duty, I
obtained a year's leave of rest, and, by the kind and wise counsel of
Prince Leopold, went to Venice, to reconsider the form into which I had
cast her history in the abstract of it given in the "Stones of Venice."

The more true and close view of that history, begun in "St. Mark's
Rest," and the fresh architectural drawings made under the stimulus of
it, led me forward into new fields of thought, inconsistent with the
daily attendance needed by my Oxford classes; and in my discontent with
the state I saw them in, and my inability to return to their guidance
without abandonment of all my designs of Venetian and Italian history,
began the series of vexations which ended in the very nearly mortal
illness of 1878.

Since, therefore, the period of my effective action in Oxford was only
from 1870 to 1875, it can scarcely be matter of surprise or reproof that
I could not in that time obtain general trust in a system of teaching
which, though founded on that of Da Vinci and Reynolds, was at variance
with the practice of all recent European academy schools; nor
establish--on the unassisted resources of the Slade Professorship--the
schools of Sculpture, Architecture, Metal-work, and manuscript
Illumination, of which the design is confidently traced in the four
inaugural lectures.

In revising the book, I have indicated as in the last edition of the
"Seven Lamps," passages which the student will find generally
applicable, and in all their bearings useful, as distinguished from
those regarding only their immediate subject. The relative importance of
these broader statements, I again indicate by the use of capitals or
italics; and if the reader will index the sentences he finds useful for
his own work, in the blank pages left for that purpose at the close of
the volume, he will certainly get more good of them than if they had
been grouped for him according to the author's notion of their contents.

SANDGATE, _10th January, 1888_.




1. The duty which is to-day laid on me, of introducing, among the
elements of education appointed in this great University, one not only
new, but such as to involve in its possible results some modification of
the rest, is, as you well feel, so grave, that no man could undertake it
without laying himself open to the imputation of a kind of insolence;
and no man could undertake it rightly, without being in danger of having
his hands shortened by dread of his task, and mistrust of himself.

And it has chanced to me, of late, to be so little acquainted either
with pride or hope, that I can scarcely recover so much as I now need,
of the one for strength, and of the other for foresight, except by
remembering that noble persons, and friends of the high temper that
judges most clearly where it loves best, have desired that this trust
should be given me: and by resting also in the conviction that the
goodly tree whose roots, by God's help, we set in earth to-day, will not
fail of its height because the planting of it is under poor auspices, or
the first shoots of it enfeebled by ill gardening.

2. The munificence of the English gentleman to whom we owe the founding
of this Professorship at once in our three great Universities, has
accomplished the first great group of a series of changes now taking
gradual effect in our system of public education, which, as you well
know, are the sign of a vital change in the national mind, respecting
both the principles on which that education should be conducted, and the
ranks of society to which it should extend. For, whereas it was formerly
thought that the discipline necessary to form the character of youth was
best given in the study of abstract branches of literature and
philosophy, it is now thought that the same, or a better, discipline may
be given by informing men in early years of the things it will be of
chief practical advantage to them afterwards to know; and by permitting
to them the choice of any field of study which they may feel to be best
adapted to their personal dispositions. I have always used what poor
influence I possessed in advancing this change; nor can any one rejoice
more than I in its practical results. But the completion--I will not
venture to say, correction--of a system established by the highest
wisdom of noble ancestors, cannot be too reverently undertaken: and it
is necessary for the English people, who are sometimes violent in change
in proportion to the reluctance with which they admit its necessity, to
be now, oftener than at other times, reminded that the object of
instruction here is not primarily attainment, but discipline; and that a
youth is sent to our Universities, not (hitherto at least) to be
apprenticed to a trade, nor even always to be advanced in a profession;
but, always, to be made a gentleman and a scholar.

3. To be made these,--if there is in him the making of either. The
populaces of civilised countries have lately been under a feverish
impression that it is possible for all men to be both; and that having
once become, by passing through certain mechanical processes of
instruction, gentle and learned, they are sure to attain in the sequel
the consummate beatitude of being rich.

Rich, in the way and measure in which it is well for them to be so, they
may, without doubt, _all_ become. There is indeed a land of Havilah open
to them, of which the wonderful sentence is literally true--"The gold of
_that_ land is good." But they must first understand, that education, in
its deepest sense, is not the equaliser, but the discerner, of men;[1]
and that, so far from being instruments for the collection of riches,
the first lesson of wisdom is to disdain them, and of gentleness, to

[Footnote 1: The full meaning of this sentence, and of that which closes
the paragraph, can only be understood by reference to my more developed
statements on the subject of Education in "Modern Painters" and in "Time
and Tide." The following fourth paragraph is the most pregnant summary
of my political and social principles I have ever been able to give.]

It is not therefore, as far as we can judge, yet possible for all men to
be gentlemen and scholars. Even under the best training some will remain
too selfish to refuse wealth, and some too dull to desire leisure. But
many more might be so than are now; nay, perhaps all men in England
might one day be so, if England truly desired her supremacy among the
nations to be in kindness and in learning. To which good end, it will
indeed contribute that we add some practice of the lower arts to our
scheme of University education; but the thing which is vitally necessary
is, that we should extend the spirit of University education to the
practice of the lower arts.

4. And, above all, it is needful that we do this by redeeming them from
their present pain of self-contempt, and by giving them _rest_. It has
been too long boasted as the pride of England, that out of a vast
multitude of men, confessed to be in evil case, it was possible for
individuals, by strenuous effort, and rare good fortune, occasionally to
emerge into the light, and look back with self-gratulatory scorn upon
the occupations of their parents, and the circumstances of their
infancy. Ought we not rather to aim at an ideal of national life, when,
of the employments of Englishmen, though each shall be distinct, none
shall be unhappy or ignoble; when mechanical operations, acknowledged to
be debasing in their tendency,[2] shall be deputed to less fortunate and
more covetous races; when advance from rank to rank, though possible to
all men, may be rather shunned than desired by the best; and the chief
object in the mind of every citizen may not be extrication from a
condition admitted to be disgraceful, but fulfilment of a duty which
shall be also a birthright?

[Footnote 2: "+technai epirrêtoi+," compare page 81.]

5. And then, the training of all these distinct classes will not be by
Universities of general knowledge, but by distinct schools of such
knowledge as shall be most useful for every class: in which, first the
principles of their special business may be perfectly taught, and
whatever higher learning, and cultivation of the faculties for receiving
and giving pleasure, may be properly joined with that labour, taught in
connection with it. Thus, I do not despair of seeing a School of
Agriculture, with its fully-endowed institutes of zoology, botany, and
chemistry; and a School of Mercantile Seamanship, with its institutes of
astronomy, meteorology, and natural history of the sea: and, to name
only one of the finer, I do not say higher, arts, we shall, I hope, in a
little time, have a perfect school of Metal-work, at the head of which
will be, not the ironmasters, but the goldsmiths: and therein, I
believe, that artists, being taught how to deal wisely with the most
precious of metals, will take into due government the uses of all

But I must not permit myself to fail in the estimate of my immediate
duty, while I debate what that duty may hereafter become in the hands of
others; and I will therefore now, so far as I am able, lay before you a
brief general view of the existing state of the arts in England, and of
the influence which her Universities, through these newly-founded
lectureships, may, I hope, bring to bear upon it for good.

6. We have first to consider the impulse which has been given to the
practice of all the arts by the extension of our commerce, and enlarged
means of intercourse with foreign nations, by which we now become more
familiarly acquainted with their works in past and in present times. The
immediate result of these new opportunities, I regret to say, has been
to make us more jealous of the genius of others, than conscious of the
limitations of our own; and to make us rather desire to enlarge our
wealth by the sale of art, than to elevate our enjoyments by its

Now, whatever efforts we make, with a true desire to produce, and
possess, things that are intrinsically beautiful, have in them at least
one of the essential elements of success. But efforts having origin only
in the hope of enriching ourselves by the sale of our productions, are
_assuredly_ condemned to dishonourable failure; not because, ultimately,
a well-trained nation is forbidden to profit by the exercise of its
peculiar art-skill; but because that peculiar art-skill can never be
developed _with a view_ to profit. The right fulfilment of national
power in art depends always on THE DIRECTION OF ITS AIM BY THE
EXPERIENCE OF AGES. Self-knowledge is not less difficult, nor less
necessary for the direction of its genius, to a people than to an
individual; and it is neither to be acquired by the eagerness of
unpractised pride, nor during the anxieties of improvident distress. No
nation ever had, or will have, the power of suddenly developing, under
the pressure of necessity, faculties it had neglected when it was at
ease; nor of teaching itself in poverty, the skill to produce, what it
has never, in opulence, had the sense to admire.

7. Connected also with some of the worst parts of our social system, but
capable of being directed to better result than this commercial
endeavour, we see lately a most powerful impulse given to the production
of costly works of art, by the various causes which promote the sudden
accumulation of wealth in the hands of private persons. We have thus a
vast and new patronage, which, in its present agency, is injurious to
our schools; but which is nevertheless in a great degree earnest and
conscientious, and far from being influenced chiefly by motives of
ostentation. Most of our rich men would be glad to promote the true
interests of art in this country: and even those who buy for vanity,
found their vanity on the possession of what they suppose to be best.

It is therefore in a great measure the fault of artists themselves if
they suffer from this partly unintelligent, but thoroughly
well-intended, patronage. If they seek to attract it by eccentricity, to
deceive it by superficial qualities, or take advantage of it by
thoughtless and facile production, they necessarily degrade themselves
and it together, and have no right to complain afterwards that it will
not acknowledge better-grounded claims. But if every painter of real
power would do only what he knew to be worthy of himself, and refuse to
be involved in the contention for undeserved or accidental success,
there is indeed, whatever may have been thought or said to the contrary,
true instinct enough in the public mind to follow such firm guidance. It
is one of the facts which the experience of thirty years enables me to
assert without qualification, that a really good picture is ultimately
always approved and bought, unless it is wilfully rendered offensive to
the public by faults which the artist has been either too proud to
abandon or too weak to correct.

8. The development of whatever is healthful and serviceable in the two
modes of impulse which we have been considering, depends however,
ultimately, on the direction taken by the true interest in art which has
lately been aroused by the great and active genius of many of our
living, or but lately lost, painters, sculptors, and architects. It may
perhaps surprise, but I think it will please you to hear me, or (if you
will forgive me, in my own Oxford, the presumption of fancying that some
may recognise me by an old name) to hear the author of "Modern Painters"
say, that his chief error in earlier days was not in over estimating,
but in too slightly acknowledging the merit of living men. The great
painter whose power, while he was yet among us, I was able to perceive,
was the first to reprove me for my disregard of the skill of his
fellow-artists; and, with this inauguration of the study of the art of
all time,--a study which can only by true modesty end in wise
admiration,--it is surely well that I connect the record of these words
of his, spoken then too truly to myself, and true always more or less
for all who are untrained in that toil,--"You don't know how difficult
it is."

You will not expect me, within the compass of this lecture, to give you
any analysis of the many kinds of excellent art (in all the three great
divisions) which the complex demands of modern life, and yet more varied
instincts of modern genius, have developed for pleasure or service. It
must be my endeavour, in conjunction with my colleagues in the other
Universities, hereafter to enable you to appreciate these worthily; in
the hope that also the members of the Royal Academy, and those of the
Institute of British Architects, may be induced to assist, and guide,
the efforts of the Universities, by organising such a system of
art-education for their own students, as shall in future prevent the
waste of genius in any mistaken endeavours; especially removing doubt as
to the proper substance and use of materials; and requiring compliance
with certain elementary principles of right, in every picture and design
exhibited with their sanction. It is not indeed possible for talent so
varied as that of English artists to be compelled into the formalities
of a determined school; but it must certainly be the function of every
academical body to see that their younger students are guarded from what
must in every school be error; and that they are practised in the best
methods of work hitherto known, before their ingenuity is directed to
the invention of others.

9. I need scarcely refer, except for the sake of completeness in my
statement, to one form of demand for art which is wholly unenlightened,
and powerful only for evil;--namely, the demand of the classes occupied
solely in the pursuit of pleasure, for objects and modes of art that can
amuse indolence or excite passion. There is no need for any discussion
of these requirements, or of their forms of influence, though they are
very deadly at present in their operation on sculpture, and on
jewellers' work. They cannot be checked by blame, nor guided by
instruction; they are merely the necessary result of whatever defects
exist in the temper and principles of a luxurious society; and it is
only by moral changes, not by art-criticism, that their action can be

10. Lastly, there is a continually increasing demand for popular art,
multipliable by the printing-press, illustrative of daily events, of
general literature, and of natural science. Admirable skill, and some of
the best talent of modern times, are occupied in supplying this want;
and there is no limit to the good which may be effected by rightly
taking advantage of the powers we now possess of placing good and lovely
art within the reach of the poorest classes. Much has been already
accomplished; but great harm has been done also,--first, by forms of art
definitely addressed to depraved tastes; and, secondly, in a more subtle
way, by really beautiful and useful engravings which are yet not good
enough to retain their influence on the public mind;--which weary it by
redundant quantity of monotonous average excellence, and diminish or
destroy its power of accurate attention to work of a higher order.

Especially this is to be regretted in the effect produced on the schools
of line engraving, which had reached in England an executive skill of a
kind before unexampled, and which of late have lost much of their more
sterling and legitimate methods. Still, I have seen plates produced
quite recently, more beautiful, I think, in some qualities than anything
ever before attained by the burin: and I have not the slightest fear
that photography, or any other adverse or competitive operation, will in
the least ultimately diminish,--I believe they will, on the contrary,
stimulate and exalt--the grand old powers of the wood and the steel.

11. Such are, I think, briefly the present conditions of art with which
we have to deal; and I conceive it to be the function of this
Professorship, with respect to them, to establish both a practical and
critical school of fine art for English gentlemen: practical, so that if
they draw at all, they may draw rightly; and critical, so that being
first directed to such works of existing art as will best reward their
study, they may afterwards make their patronage of living artists
delightful to themselves in their consciousness of its justice, and, to
the utmost, beneficial to their country, by being given to the men who
deserve it; in the early period of their lives, when they both need it
most, and can be influenced by it to the best advantage.

12. And especially with reference to this function of patronage, I
believe myself justified in taking into account future probabilities as
to the character and range of art in England: and I shall endeavour at
once to organise with you a system of study calculated to develop
chiefly the knowledge of those branches in which the English schools
have shown, and are likely to show, peculiar excellence.

Now, in asking your sanction both for the nature of the general plans I
wish to adopt, and for what I conceive to be necessary limitations of
them, I wish you to be fully aware of my reasons for both: and I will
therefore risk the burdening of your patience while I state the
directions of effort in which I think English artists are liable to
failure, and those also in which past experience has shown they are
secure of success.

13. I referred, but now, to the effort we are making to improve the
designs of our manufactures. Within certain limits I believe this
improvement may indeed take effect: so that we may no more humour
momentary fashions by ugly results of chance instead of design; and may
produce both good tissues, of harmonious colours, and good forms and
substance of pottery and glass. But we shall never excel in decorative
design. Such design is usually produced by people of great natural
powers of mind, who have no variety of subjects to employ themselves on,
no oppressive anxieties, and are in circumstances either of natural
scenery or of daily life, which cause pleasurable excitement. _We_
cannot design, because we have too much to think of, and we think of it
too anxiously. It has long been observed how little real anxiety exists
in the minds of the partly savage races which excel in decorative art;
and we must not suppose that the temper of the Middle Ages was a
troubled one, because every day brought its danger or its change. The
very eventfulness of the life rendered it careless, as generally is
still the case with soldiers and sailors. Now, when there are great
powers of thought, and little to think of, all the waste energy and
fancy are thrown into the manual work, and you have so much intellect as
would direct the affairs of a large mercantile concern for a day, spent
all at once, quite unconsciously, in drawing an ingenious spiral.

Also, powers of doing fine ornamental work are only to be reached by a
perpetual discipline of the hand as well as of the fancy; discipline as
attentive and painful as that which a juggler has to put himself
through, to overcome the more palpable difficulties of his profession.
The execution of the best artists is always a splendid tour-de-force;
and much that in painting is supposed to be dependent on material is
indeed only a lovely and quite inimitable legerdemain. Now, when powers
of fancy, stimulated by this triumphant precision of manual dexterity,
descend uninterruptedly from generation to generation, you have at last,
what is not so much a trained artist, as a new species of animal, with
whose instinctive gifts you have no chance of contending. And thus all
our imitations of other people's work are futile. We must learn first to
make honest English wares, and afterwards to decorate them as may please
the then approving Graces.

14. Secondly--and this is an incapacity of a graver kind, yet having its
own good in it also--we shall never be successful in the highest fields
of ideal or theological art.

For there is one strange, but quite essential, character in us: ever
since the Conquest, if not earlier:--a delight in the forms of burlesque
which are connected in some degree with the foulness of evil. I think
the most perfect type of a true English mind in its best possible
temper, is that of Chaucer; and you will find that, while it is for the
most part full of thoughts of beauty, pure and wild like that of an
April morning, there are even in the midst of this, sometimes
momentarily jesting passages which stoop to play with evil--while the
power of listening to and enjoying the jesting of entirely gross
persons, whatever the feeling may be which permits it, afterwards
degenerates into forms of humour which render some of quite the
greatest, wisest, and most moral of English writers now almost useless
for our youth. And yet you will find that whenever Englishmen are wholly
without this instinct, their genius is comparatively weak and

15. Now, the first necessity for the doing of any great work in ideal
art, is the looking upon all foulness with horror, as a contemptible
though dreadful enemy. You may easily understand what I mean, by
comparing the feelings with which Dante regards any form of obscenity or
of base jest, with the temper in which the same things are regarded by
Shakespeare. And this strange earthly instinct of ours, coupled as it
is, in our good men, with great simplicity and common sense, renders
them shrewd and perfect observers and delineators of actual nature, low
or high; but precludes them from that specialty of art which is properly
called sublime. If ever we try anything in the manner of Michael Angelo
or of Dante, we catch a fall, even in literature, as Milton in the
battle of the angels, spoiled from Hesiod; while in art, every attempt
in this style has hitherto been the sign either of the presumptuous
egotism of persons who had never really learned to be workmen, or it has
been connected with very tragic forms of the contemplation of death,--it
has always been partly insane, and never once wholly successful.

But we need not feel any discomfort in these limitations of our
capacity. We can do much that others cannot, and more than we have ever
yet ourselves completely done. Our first great gift is in the
portraiture of living people--a power already so accomplished in both
Reynolds and Gainsborough that nothing is left for future masters but to
add the calm of perfect workmanship to their vigour and felicity of
perception. And of what value a true school of portraiture may become in
the future, when worthy men will desire only to be known, and others
will not fear to know them, for what they truly were, we cannot from
any past records of art influence yet conceive. But in my next address
it will be partly my endeavour to show you how much more useful, because
more humble, the labour of great masters might have been, had they been
content to bear record of the souls that were dwelling with them on
earth, instead of striving to give a deceptive glory to those they
dreamed of in heaven.

16. Secondly, we have an intense power of invention and expression in
domestic drama; (King Lear and Hamlet being essentially domestic in
their strongest motives of interest). There is a tendency at this moment
towards a noble development of our art in this direction, checked by
many adverse conditions, which may be summed in one,--the insufficiency
of generous civic or patriotic passion in the heart of the English
people; a fault which makes its domestic affection selfish, contracted,
and, therefore, frivolous.

17. Thirdly, in connection with our simplicity and good-humour, and
partly with that very love of the grotesque which debases our ideal, we
have a sympathy with the lower animals which is peculiarly our own; and
which, though it has already found some exquisite expression in the
works of Bewick and Landseer, is yet quite undeveloped. This sympathy,
with the aid of our now authoritative science of physiology, and in
association with our British love of adventure, will, I hope, enable us
to give to the future inhabitants of the globe an almost perfect record
of the present forms of animal life upon it, of which many are on the
point of being extinguished.

Lastly, but not as the least important of our special powers, I have to
note our skill in landscape, of which I will presently speak more

18. Such I conceive to be the directions in which, principally, we have
the power to excel; and you must at once see how the consideration of
them must modify the advisable methods of our art study. For if our
professional painters were likely to produce pieces of art loftily ideal
in their character, it would be desirable to form the taste of the
students here by setting before them only the purest examples of Greek,
and the mightiest of Italian, art. But I do not think you will yet find
a single instance of a school directed exclusively to these higher
branches of study in England, which has strongly, or even definitely,
made impression on its younger scholars. While, therefore, I shall
endeavour to point out clearly the characters to be looked for and
admired in the great masters of imaginative design, I shall make no
special effort to stimulate the imitation of them; and above all things,
I shall try to probe in you, and to prevent, the affectation into which
it is easy to fall, even through modesty,--of either endeavouring to
admire a grandeur with which we have no natural sympathy, or losing the
pleasure we might take in the study of familiar things, by considering
it a sign of refinement to look for what is of higher class, or rarer

19. Again, if our artisans were likely to attain any distinguished skill
in ornamental design, it would be incumbent upon me to make my class
here accurately acquainted with the principles of earth and metal work,
and to accustom them to take pleasure in conventional arrangements of
colour and form. I hope, indeed, to do this, so far as to enable them to
discern the real merit of many styles of art which are at present
neglected; and, above all, to read the minds of semi-barbaric nations in
the only language by which their feelings were capable of expression;
and those members of my class whose temper inclines them to take
pleasure in the interpretation of mythic symbols, will not probably be
induced to quit the profound fields of investigation which early art,
examined carefully, will open to them, and which belong to it alone: for
this is a general law, that supposing the intellect of the workman the
same, the more imitatively complete his art, the less he will mean by
it; and the ruder the symbol, the deeper is its intention. Nevertheless,
when I have once sufficiently pointed out the nature and value of this
conventional work, and vindicated it from the contempt with which it is
too generally regarded, I shall leave the student to his own pleasure in
its pursuit; and even, so far as I may, discourage all admiration
founded on quaintness or peculiarity of style; and repress any other
modes of feeling which are likely to lead rather to fastidious
collection of curiosities, than to the intelligent appreciation of work
which, being executed in compliance with constant laws of right, cannot
be singular, and must be distinguished only by excellence in what is
always desirable.

20. While, therefore, in these and such other directions, I shall
endeavour to put every adequate means of advance within reach of the
members of my class, I shall use my own best energy to show them what is
consummately beautiful and well done, by men who have passed through the
symbolic or suggestive stage of design, and have enabled themselves to
comply, by truth of representation, with the strictest or most eager
demands of accurate science, and of disciplined passion. I shall
therefore direct your observation, during the greater part of the time
you may spare to me, to what is indisputably best, both in painting and
sculpture; trusting that you will afterwards recognise the nascent and
partial skill of former days both with greater interest and greater
respect, when you know the full difficulty of what it attempted, and the
complete range of what it foretold.

21. And with this view, I shall at once endeavour to do what has for
many years been in my thoughts, and now, with the advice and assistance
of the curators of the University Galleries, I do not doubt may be
accomplished here in Oxford, just where it will be preëminently
useful--namely, to arrange an educational series of examples of
excellent art, standards to which you may at once refer on any
questionable point, and by the study of which you may gradually attain
an instinctive sense of right, which will afterwards be liable to no
serious error. Such a collection may be formed, both more perfectly, and
more easily, than would commonly be supposed. For the real utility of
the series will depend on its restricted extent,--on the severe
exclusion of all second-rate, superfluous, or even attractively varied
examples,--and On the confining the students' attention to a few types
of what is insuperably good. More progress in power of judgment may be
made in a limited time by the examination of one work, than by the
review of many; and a certain degree of vitality is given to the
impressiveness of every characteristic, by its being exhibited in clear
contrast, and without repetition.

The greater number of the examples I shall choose will be only
engravings or photographs: they shall be arranged so as to be easily
accessible, and I will prepare a catalogue, pointing out my purpose in
the selection of each. But in process of time, I have good hope that
assistance will be given me by the English public in making the series
here no less splendid than serviceable; and in placing minor
collections, arranged on a similar principle, at the command also of the
students in our public schools.

22. In the second place, I shall endeavour to prevail upon all the
younger members of the University who wish to attend the art lectures,
to give at least so much time to manual practice as may enable them to
understand the nature and difficulty of executive skill. The time so
spent will not be lost, even as regards their other studies at the
University, for I will prepare the practical exercises in a double
series, one illustrative of history, the other of natural science. And
whether you are drawing a piece of Greek armour, or a hawk's beak, or a
lion's paw, you will find that the mere necessity of using the hand
compels attention to circumstances which would otherwise have escaped
notice, and fastens them in the memory without farther effort. But were
it even otherwise, and this practical training did really involve some
sacrifice of your time, I do not fear but that it will be justified to
you by its felt results: and I think that general public feeling is also
tending to the admission that accomplished education must include, not
only full command of expression by language, but command of true musical
sound by the voice, and of true form by the hand.

23. While I myself hold this professorship, I shall direct you in these
exercises very definitely to natural history, and to landscape; not only
because in these two branches I am probably able to show you truths
which might be despised by my successors: but because I think the vital
and joyful study of natural history quite the principal element
requiring introduction, not only into University, but into national,
education, from highest to lowest; and I even will risk incurring your
ridicule by confessing one of my fondest dreams, that I may succeed in
making some of you English youths like better to look at a bird than to
shoot it; and even desire to make wild creatures tame, instead of tame
creatures wild. And for the study of landscape, it is, I think, now
calculated to be of use in deeper, if not more important modes, than
that of natural science, for reasons which I will ask you to let me
state at some length.

24. Observe first;--no race of men which is entirely bred in wild
country, far from cities, ever enjoys landscape. They may enjoy the
beauty of animals, but scarcely even that: a true peasant cannot see the
beauty of cattle; but only qualities expressive of their
serviceableness. I waive discussion of this to-day; permit my assertion
of it, under my confident guarantee of future proof. Landscape can only
be enjoyed by cultivated persons; and it is only by music, literature,
and painting, that cultivation can be given. Also, the faculties which
are thus received are hereditary; so that the child of an educated race
has an innate instinct for beauty, derived from arts practised hundreds
of years before its birth. Now farther note this, one of the loveliest
things in human nature. In the children of noble races, trained by
surrounding art, and at the same time in the practice of great deeds,
there is an intense delight in the landscape of their country as
_memorial_; a sense not taught to them, nor teachable to any others;
but, in them, innate; and the seal and reward of persistence in great
national life;--the obedience and the peace of ages having extended
gradually the glory of the revered ancestors also to the ancestral
land; until the Motherhood of the dust, the mystery of the Demeter from
whose bosom we came, and to whose bosom we return, surrounds and
inspires, everywhere, the local awe of field and fountain; the
sacredness of landmark that none may remove, and of wave that none may
pollute; while records of proud days, and of dear persons, make every
rock monumental with ghostly inscription, and every path lovely with
noble desolateness.

25. Now, however checked by lightness of temperament, the instinctive
love of landscape in us has this deep root, which, in your minds, I will
pray you to disencumber from whatever may oppress or mortify it, and to
strive to feel with all the strength of your youth that a nation is only
worthy of the soil and the scenes that it has inherited, when, by all
its acts and arts, it is making them more lovely for its children.

And now, I trust, you will feel that it is not in mere yielding to my
own fancies that I have chosen, for the first three subjects in your
educational series, landscape scenes;--two in England, and one in
France,--the association of these being not without purpose:--and for
the fourth Albert Dürer's dream of the Spirit of Labour. And of the
landscape subjects, I must tell you this much. The first is an engraving
only; the original drawing by Turner was destroyed by fire twenty years
ago. For which loss I wish you to be sorry, and to remember, in
connection with this first example, that whatever remains to us of
possession in the arts is, compared to what we might have had if we had
cared for them, just what that engraving is to the lost drawing. You
will find also that its subject has meaning in it which will not be
harmful to you. The second example is a real drawing by Turner, in the
same series, and very nearly of the same place; the two scenes are
within a quarter of a mile of each other. It will show you the character
of the work that was destroyed. It will show you, in process of time,
much more; but chiefly, and this is my main reason for choosing both, it
will be a permanent expression to you of what English landscape was
once;--and must, if we are to remain a nation, be again.

I think it farther right to tell you, for otherwise you might hardly pay
regard enough to work apparently so simple, that by a chance which is
not altogether displeasing to me, this drawing, which it has become, for
these reasons, necessary for me to give you, is--not indeed the best I
have, (I have several as good, though none better)--but, of all I have,
the one I had least mind to part with.

The third example is also a Turner drawing--a scene on the Loire--never
engraved. It is an introduction to the series of the Loire, which you
have already; it has in its present place a due concurrence with the
expressional purpose of its companions; and though small, it is very
precious, being a faultless, and, I believe, unsurpassable example of
water-colour painting.

Chiefly, however, remember the object of these three first examples is
to give you an index to your truest feelings about European, and
especially about your native landscape, as it is pensive and historical;
and so far as you yourselves make any effort at its representation, to
give you a motive for fidelity in handwork more animating than any
connected with mere success in the art itself.

26. With respect to actual methods of practice, I will not incur the
responsibility of determining them for you. We will take Lionardo's
treatise on painting for our first text-book; and I think you need not
fear being misled by me if I ask you to do only what Lionardo bids, or
what will be necessary to enable you to do his bidding. But you need not
possess the book, nor read it through. I will translate the pieces to
the authority of which I shall appeal; and, in process of time, by
analysis of this fragmentary treatise, show you some characters not
usually understood of the simplicity as well as subtlety common to most
great workmen of that age. Afterwards we will collect the instructions
of other undisputed masters, till we have obtained a code of laws
clearly resting on the consent of antiquity.

While, however, I thus in some measure limit for the present the methods
of your practice, I shall endeavour to make the courses of my University
lectures as wide in their range as my knowledge will permit. The range
so conceded will be narrow enough; but I believe that my proper function
is not to acquaint you with the general history, but with the essential
principles of art; and with its history only when it has been both great
and good, or where some special excellence of it requires examination of
the causes to which it must be ascribed.

27. But if either our work, or our enquiries, are to be indeed
successful in their own field, they must be connected with others of a
sterner character. Now listen to me, if I have in these past details
lost or burdened your attention; for this is what I have chiefly to say
to you. The art of any country is _the exponent of its social and
political virtues_. I will show you that it is so in some detail, in the
second of my subsequent course of lectures; meantime accept this as one
of the things, and the most important of all things, I can positively
declare to you. The art, or general productive and formative energy, of
any country, is an exact exponent of its ethical life. You can have
noble art only from noble persons, associated under laws fitted to their
time and circumstances. And the best skill that any teacher of art could
spend here in your help, would not end in enabling you even so much as
rightly to draw the water-lilies in the Cherwell (and though it did, the
work when done would not be worth the lilies themselves) unless both he
and you were seeking, as I trust we shall together seek, in the laws
which regulate the finest industries, the clue to the laws which
regulate _all_ industries, and in better obedience to which we shall
actually have henceforward to live: not merely in compliance with our
own sense of what is right, but under the weight of quite literal
necessity. For the trades by which the British people has believed it to
be the highest of destinies to maintain itself, cannot now long remain
undisputed in its hands; its unemployed poor are daily becoming more
violently criminal; and a certain distress in the middle classes,
arising, _partly from their vanity in living always up to their incomes,
and partly from their folly in imagining that they can subsist in
idleness upon usury_, will at last compel the sons and daughters of
English families to acquaint themselves with the principles of
providential economy; and to learn that food can only be got out of the
ground, and competence only secured by frugality; and that although it
is not possible for all to be occupied in the highest arts, nor for any,
guiltlessly, to pass their days in a succession of pleasures, the most
perfect mental culture possible to men is founded on their useful
energies, and their best arts and brightest happiness are consistent,
and consistent only, with their virtue.

28. This, I repeat, gentlemen, will soon become manifest to those among
us, and there are yet many, who are honest-hearted. And the future fate
of England depends upon the position they then take, and on their
courage in maintaining it.

There is a destiny now possible to us--the highest ever set before a
nation to be accepted or refused. We are still undegenerate in race; a
race mingled of the best northern blood. We are not yet dissolute in
temper, but still have the firmness to govern, and the grace to obey. We
have been taught a religion of pure mercy, which we must either now
betray, or learn to defend by fulfilling. And we are rich in an
inheritance of honour, bequeathed to us through a thousand years of
noble history, which it should be our daily thirst to increase with
splendid avarice, so that Englishmen, if it be a sin to covet honour,
should be the most offending souls alive. Within the last few years we
have had the laws of natural science opened to us with a rapidity which
has been blinding by its brightness; and means of transit and
communication given to us, which have made but one kingdom of the
habitable globe. One kingdom;--but who is to be its king? Is there to be
no king in it, think you, and every man to do that which is right in his
own eyes? Or only kings of terror, and the obscene empires of Mammon
and Belial? Or will you, youths of England, make your country again a
royal throne of kings; a sceptred isle, for all the world a source of
light, a centre of peace; mistress of Learning and of the
Arts;--faithful guardian of great memories in the midst of irreverent
and ephemeral visions;--faithful servant of time-tried principles, under
temptation from fond experiments and licentious desires; and amidst the
cruel and clamorous jealousies of the nations, worshipped in her strange
valour of goodwill towards men?

29. "Vexilla regis prodeunt." Yes, but of which king? There are the two
oriflammes; which shall we plant on the farthest islands,--the one that
floats in heavenly fire, or that hangs heavy with foul tissue of
terrestrial gold? There is indeed a course of beneficent glory open to
us, such as never was yet offered to any poor group of mortal souls. But
it must be--it _is_ with us, now, "Reign or Die." And if it shall be
said of this country, "Fece per viltate, il gran rifiuto;" that refusal
of the crown will be, of all yet recorded in history, the shamefullest
and most untimely.

And this is what she must either do, or perish: she must found colonies
as fast and as far as she is able, formed of her most energetic and
worthiest men;--seizing every piece of fruitful waste ground she can set
her foot on, and there teaching these her colonists that their chief
virtue is to be fidelity to their country, and that their first aim is
to be to advance the power of England by land and sea: and that, though
they live on a distant plot of ground, they are no more to consider
themselves therefore disfranchised from their native land, than the
sailors of her fleets do, because they float on distant waves. So that
literally, these colonies must be fastened fleets; and every man of them
must be under authority of captains and officers, whose better command
is to be over fields and streets instead of ships of the line; and
England, in these her motionless navies (or, in the true and mightiest
sense, motionless _churches_, ruled by pilots on the Galilean lake of
all the world), is to "expect every man to do his duty;" recognising
that duty is indeed possible no less in peace than war; and that if we
can get men, for little pay, to cast themselves against cannon-mouths
for love of England, we may find men also who will plough and sow for
her, who will behave kindly and righteously for her, who will bring up
their children to love her, and who will gladden themselves in the
brightness of her glory, more than in all the light of tropic skies.

But that they may be able to do this, she must make her own majesty
stainless; she must give them thoughts of their home of which they can
be proud. The England who is to be mistress of half the earth, cannot
remain herself a heap of cinders, trampled by contending and miserable
crowds; she must yet again become the England she was once, and in all
beautiful ways,--more: so happy, so secluded, and so pure, that in her
sky--polluted by no unholy clouds--she may be able to spell rightly of
every star that heaven doth show; and in her fields, ordered and wide
and fair, of every herb that sips the dew; and under the green avenues
of her enchanted garden, a sacred Circe, true Daughter of the Sun, she
must guide the human arts, and gather the divine knowledge, of distant
nations, transformed from savageness to manhood, and redeemed from
despairing into peace.

30. You think that an impossible ideal. Be it so; refuse to accept it if
you will; but see that you form your own in its stead. All that I ask of
you is to have a fixed purpose of some kind for your country and
yourselves; no matter how restricted, so that it be fixed and unselfish.
I know what stout hearts are in you, to answer acknowledged need: but it
is the fatallest form of error in English youths to hide their hardihood
till it fades for lack of sunshine, and to act in disdain of purpose,
till all purpose is vain. It is not by deliberate, but by careless
selfishness; not by compromise with evil, but by dull following of good,
that the weight of national evil increases upon us daily. Break through
at least this pretence of existence; determine what you will be, and
what you would win. You will not decide wrongly if you will resolve to
decide at all. Were even the choice between lawless pleasure and loyal
suffering, you would not, I believe, choose basely. But your trial is
not so sharp. It is between drifting in confused wreck among the
castaways of Fortune, who condemns to assured ruin those who know not
either how to resist her, or obey; between this, I say, and the taking
of your appointed part in the heroism of Rest; the resolving to share in
the victory which is to the weak rather than the strong; and the binding
yourselves by that law, which, thought on through lingering night and
labouring day, makes a man's life to be as a tree planted by the
water-side, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;--




31. It was stated, and I trust partly with your acceptance, in my
opening lecture, that the study on which we are about to enter cannot be
rightly undertaken except in furtherance of the grave purposes of life
with respect to which the rest of the scheme of your education here is
designed. But you can scarcely have at once felt all that I intended in
saying so;--you cannot but be still partly under the impression that the
so-called fine arts are merely modes of graceful recreation, and a new
resource for your times of rest. Let me ask you, forthwith, so far as
you can trust me, to change your thoughts in this matter. All the great
arts have for their object either the support or exaltation of human
life,--usually both; and their dignity, and ultimately their very
existence, depend on their being "+meta logou alêthous+," that is
to say, apprehending, with right reason, the nature of the materials
they work with, of the things they relate or represent, and of the
faculties to which they are addressed. And farther, they form one united
system from which it is impossible to remove any part without harm to
the rest. They are founded first in mastery, by strength of _arm_, of
the earth and sea, in agriculture and seamanship; then their inventive
power begins, with the clay in the hand of the potter, whose art is the
humblest but truest type of the forming of the human body and spirit;
and in the carpenter's work, which probably was the early employment of
the Founder of our religion. And until men have perfectly learned the
laws of art in clay and wood, they can consummately know no others. Nor
is it without the strange significance which you will find in what at
first seems chance, in all noble histories, as soon as you can read
them rightly,--that the statue of Athena Polias was of olive-wood, and
that the Greek temple and Gothic spire are both merely the permanent
representations of useful wooden structures. On these two first arts
follow building in stone,--sculpture,--metal work,--and painting; every
art being properly called "fine" which demands the exercise of the full
faculties of heart and intellect. For though the fine arts are not
necessarily imitative or representative, for their essence is in being
+peri genesin+--occupied in the actual _production_ of beautiful
form or colour,--still, the highest of them are appointed also to relate
to us the utmost ascertainable truth respecting visible things and moral
feelings: and this pursuit of _fact_ is the vital _element_ of the art
power;--that in which alone it can develop itself to its utmost. And I
will anticipate by an assertion which you will at present think too
bold, but which I am willing that you should think so, in order that you

32. The great arts--forming thus one perfect scheme of human skill, of
which it is not right to call one division more honourable, though it
may be more subtle, than another--have had, and can have, but three
principal directions of purpose:--first, that of enforcing the religion
of men; secondly, that of perfecting their ethical state; thirdly, that
of doing them material service.

33. I do not doubt but that you are surprised at my saying the arts can
in their second function only be directed to the perfecting of ethical
state, it being our usual impression that they are often destructive of
morality. But it is impossible to direct fine art to an immoral end,
except by giving it characters unconnected with its fineness, or by
addressing it to persons who cannot perceive it to be fine. Whosoever
recognises it is exalted by it. On the other hand, it has been commonly
thought that art was a most fitting means for the enforcement of
religious doctrines and emotions; whereas there is, as I must presently
try to show you, room for grave doubt whether it has not in this
function hitherto done evil rather than good.

34. In this and the two next following lectures, I shall endeavour
therefore to show you the grave relations of human art, in these three
functions, to human life. I can do this but roughly, as you may well
suppose--since each of these subjects would require for its right
treatment years instead of hours. Only, remember, _I_ have already given
years, not a few, to each of them; and what I try to tell _you_ now will
be only so much as is absolutely necessary to set our work on a clear
foundation. You may not, at present, see the necessity for _any_
foundation, and may think that I ought to put pencil and paper in your
hands at once. On that point I must simply answer, "Trust me a little
while," asking you however also to remember, that--irrespectively of any
consideration of last or first--my true function here is not that of
your master in painting, or sculpture, or pottery; but to show you what
it is that makes any of these arts _fine_, or the contrary of _fine_:
essentially _good_, or essentially _base_. You need not fear my not
being practical enough for you; all the industry you choose to give me,
I will take; but far the better part of what you may gain by such
industry would be lost, if I did not first lead you to see what every
form of art-industry intends, and why some of it is justly called right,
and some wrong.

35. It would be well if you were to look over, with respect to this
matter, the end of the second, and what interests you of the third, book
of Plato's Republic; noting therein these two principal things, of which
I have to speak in this and my next lecture: first, the power which
Plato so frankly, and quite justly, attributes to art, of _falsifying_
our conceptions of Deity: which power he by fatal error partly implies
may be used wisely for good, and that the feigning is only wrong when it
is of evil, "+ean tis mê kalôs pseudêtai+;" and you may trace
through all that follows the beginning of the change of Greek ideal art
into a beautiful expediency, instead of what it was in the days of
Pindar, the statement of what "could not be otherwise than so." But, in
the second place, you will find in those books of the Polity, stated
with far greater accuracy of expression than our English language
admits, the essential relations of art to morality; the sum of these
being given in one lovely sentence, which, considering that we have
to-day grace done us by fair companionship,[3] you will pardon me for
translating. "_Must it be then only with our poets that we insist they
shall either create for us the image of a noble morality, or among us
create none? or shall we not also keep guard over all other workers for
the people, and forbid them to make what is ill-customed, and
unrestrained, and ungentle, and without order or shape, either in
likeness of living things, or in buildings, or in any other thing
whatsoever that is made for the people? and shall we not rather seek for
SCHEMED; _so that the young men, as living in a wholesome place, may be
profited by everything that, in work fairly wrought, may touch them
through hearing or sight--as if it were a breeze bringing health to them
from places strong for life?_"

[Footnote 3: There were, in fact, a great many more girls than
University men at the lectures.]

36. And now--but one word, before we enter on our task, as to the way
you must understand what I may endeavour to tell you.

Let me beg you--now and always--not to think that I mean more than I
say. In all probability, I mean just what I say, and only that. At all
events I do fully mean _that_; and if there is anything reserved in my
mind, it will be probably different from what you would guess. You are
perfectly welcome to know all that I think, as soon as I have put before
you all my grounds for thinking it; but by the time I have done so, you
will be able to form an opinion of your own; and mine will then be of no
consequence to you.

37. I use then to-day, as I shall in future use, the word "Religion" as
signifying the feelings of love, reverence, or dread with which the
human mind is affected by its conceptions of spiritual being; and you
know well how necessary it is, both to the rightness of our own life,
and to the understanding the lives of others, that we should always keep
clearly distinguished our ideas of Religion, as thus defined, and of
Morality, as the law of rightness in human conduct. For there are many
religions, but there is only one morality. There are moral and immoral
religions, which differ as much in precept as in emotion; but there is

38. The pure forms or states of religion hitherto known, are those in
which a healthy humanity, finding in itself many foibles and sins, has
imagined, or been made conscious of, the existence of higher spiritual
personality, liable to no such fault or stain; and has been assisted in
effort, and consoled in pain, by reference to the will or sympathy of
such purer spirits, whether imagined or real. I am compelled to use
these painful latitudes of expression, because no analysis has hitherto
sufficed to distinguish accurately, in historical narrative, the
difference between impressions resulting from the imagination of the
worshipper, and those made, if any, by the actually local and temporary
presence of another spirit. For instance, take the vision, which of all
others has been since made most frequently the subject of physical
representation--the appearance to Ezekiel and St. John of the four
living creatures, which throughout Christendom have been used to
symbolise the Evangelists.[4] Supposing such interpretation just, one of
those figures was either the mere symbol to St. John of himself, or it
was the power which inspired him, manifesting itself in an independent
form. Which of these it was, or whether neither of these, but a vision
of other powers, or a dream, of which neither the prophet himself knew,
nor can any other person yet know, the interpretation,--I suppose no
modestly-minded and accurate thinker would now take upon himself to
decide. Nor is it therefore anywise necessary for you to decide on that,
or any other such question; but it is necessary that you should be bold
enough to look every opposing question steadily in its face; and modest
enough, having done so, to know when it is too hard for you. But above
all things, see that you be modest in your thoughts, for of this one
thing we may be absolutely sure, that all our thoughts are but degrees
of darkness. And in these days you have to guard against the fatallest
darkness of the two opposite Prides;--the Pride of Faith, which imagines
that the nature of the Deity can be defined by its convictions; and the
Pride of Science, which imagines that the energy of Deity can be
explained by its analysis.

[Footnote 4: Only the Gospels, "IV Evangelia," according to St. Jerome.]

39. Of these, the first, the Pride of Faith, is now, as it has been
always, the most deadly, because the most complacent and
subtle;--because it invests every evil passion of our nature with the
aspect of an angel of light, and enables the self-love, which might
otherwise have been put to wholesome shame, and the cruel carelessness
of the ruin of our fellow-men, which might otherwise have been warmed
into human love, or at least checked by human intelligence, to congeal
themselves into the mortal intellectual disease of imagining that
myriads of the inhabitants of the world for four thousand years have
been left to wander and perish, many of them everlastingly, in order
that, in fulness of time, divine truth might be preached sufficiently to
ourselves: with this farther ineffable mischief for direct result, that
multitudes of kindly-disposed, gentle, and submissive persons, who might
else by their true patience have alloyed the hardness of the common
crowd, and by their activity for good balanced its misdoing, are
withdrawn from all such true services of man, that they may pass the
best part of their lives in what they are told is the service of God;
_namely, desiring what_ _they cannot obtain, lamenting what they cannot
avoid, and reflecting on what they cannot understand_.[5]

[Footnote 5: This concentrated definition of monastic life is of course
to be understood only of its more enthusiastic forms.]

40. This, I repeat, is the deadliest, but for you, under existing
circumstances, it is becoming daily, almost hourly, the least probable
form of Pride. That which you have chiefly to guard against consists in
the overvaluing of minute though correct discovery; the groundless
denial of all that seems to you to have been groundlessly affirmed; and
the interesting yourselves too curiously in the progress of some
scientific minds, which in their judgment of the universe can be
compared to nothing so accurately as to the woodworms in the panel of a
picture by some great painter, if we may conceive them as tasting with
discrimination of the wood, and with repugnance of the colour, and
declaring that even this unlooked-for and undesirable combination is a
normal result of the action of molecular Forces.

41. Now, I must very earnestly warn you, in the beginning of my work
with you here, against allowing either of these forms of egotism to
interfere with your judgment or practice of art. On the one hand, you
must not allow the expression of your own favourite religious feelings
by any particular form of art to modify your judgment of its absolute
merit; nor allow the art itself to become an illegitimate means of
deepening and confirming your convictions, by realising to your eyes
what you dimly conceive with the brain; as if the greater clearness of
the image were a stronger proof of its truth. On the other hand, you
must not allow your scientific habit of trusting nothing but what you
have ascertained, to prevent you from appreciating, or at least
endeavouring to qualify yourselves to appreciate, the work of the
highest faculty of the human mind,--its imagination,--when it is toiling
in the presence of things that cannot be dealt with by any other power.

42. These are both vital conditions of your healthy progress. On the one
hand, observe that you do not wilfully use the realistic power of art
to convince yourselves of historical or theological statements which you
cannot otherwise prove; and which you wish to prove:--on the other hand,
that you do not check your imagination and conscience while seizing the
truths of which they alone are cognizant, because you value too highly
the scientific interest which attaches to the investigation of second

For instance, it may be quite possible to show the conditions in water
and electricity which necessarily produce the craggy outline, the
apparently self-contained silvery light, and the sulphurous blue shadow
of a thunder-cloud, and which separate these from the depth of the
golden peace in the dawn of a summer morning. Similarly, it may be
possible to show the necessities of structure which groove the fangs and
depress the brow of the asp, and which distinguish the character of its
head from that of the face of a young girl. But it is the function of
the rightly-trained imagination to recognise, in these, and such other
relative aspects, the unity of teaching which impresses, alike on our
senses and our conscience, the eternal difference between good and evil:
and the rule, over the clouds of heaven and over the creatures in the
earth, of the same Spirit which teaches to our own hearts the bitterness
of death, and strength of love.

43. Now, therefore, approaching our subject in this balanced temper,
which will neither resolve to see only what it would desire, nor expect
to see only what it can explain, we shall find our enquiry into the
relation of Art to Religion is distinctly threefold: first, we have to
ask how far art may have been literally directed by spiritual powers;
secondly, how far, if not inspired, it may have been exalted by them;
lastly, how far, in any of its agencies, it has advanced the cause of
the creeds it has been used to recommend.

44. First: What ground have we for thinking that art has ever been
inspired as a message or revelation? What internal evidence is there in
the work of great artists of their having been under the authoritative
guidance of supernatural powers?

It is true that the answer to so mysterious a question cannot rest alone
upon internal evidence; but it is well that you should know what might,
from that evidence alone, be concluded. And the more impartially you
examine the phenomena of imagination, the more firmly you will be led to
conclude that they are the result of the influence of the common and
vital, but not, therefore, less Divine, spirit, of which some portion is
given to all living creatures in such manner as may be adapted to their
rank in creation; and that everything which men rightly accomplish is
indeed done by Divine help, but under a consistent law which is never
departed from.

The strength of this spiritual life within us may be increased or
lessened by our own conduct; it varies from time to time, as physical
strength varies; it is summoned on different occasions by our will, and
dejected by our distress, or our sin; but it is always _equally human_,
and _equally Divine_. We are men, and not mere animals, because a
special form of it is with us always; we are nobler and baser men, as it
is with us more or less; but it is never given to us in any degree which
can make us more than men.

45. Observe:--I give you this general statement doubtfully, and only as
that towards which an impartial reasoner will, I think, be inclined by
existing data. But I shall be able to show you, without any doubt, in
the course of our studies, that the achievements of art which have been
usually looked upon as the results of peculiar inspiration have been
arrived at only through long courses of wisely directed labour, and
under the influence of feelings which are common to all humanity.

But of these feelings and powers which in different degrees are common
to humanity, you are to note that there are three principal divisions:
first, the instincts of construction or melody, which we share with
lower animals, and which are in us as native as the instinct of the bee
or nightingale; secondly, the faculty of vision, or of dreaming, whether
in sleep or in conscious trance, or by voluntarily exerted fancy; and
lastly, the power of rational inference and collection, of both the laws
and forms of beauty.

46. Now the faculty of vision, being closely associated with the
innermost spiritual nature, is the one which has by most reasoners been
held for the peculiar channel of Divine teaching: and it is a fact that
great part of purely didactic art has been the record, whether in
language, or by linear representation, of actual vision involuntarily
received at the moment, though cast on a mental retina blanched
by the past course of faithful life. But it is also true that
these visions, where most distinctly received, are always--I speak
deliberately--_always_, the _sign of some mental limitation or
derangement_; and that the persons who most clearly recognise their
value, exaggeratedly estimate it, choosing what they find to be useful,
and calling that "inspired," and disregarding what they perceive to be
useless, though presented to the visionary by an equal authority.

47. Thus it is probable that no work of art has been more widely
didactic than Albert Dürer's engraving, known as the "Knight and
Death."[6] But that is only one of a series of works representing
similarly vivid dreams, of which some are uninteresting, except for the
manner of their representation, as the "St. Hubert," and others are
unintelligible; some, frightful, and wholly unprofitable; so that we
find the visionary faculty in that great painter, when accurately
examined, to be a morbid influence, abasing his skill more frequently
than encouraging it, and sacrificing the greater part of his energies
upon vain subjects, two only being produced, in the course of a long
life, which are of high didactic value, and both of these capable only
of giving sad courage.[7] Whatever the value of these two, it bears more
the aspect of a treasure obtained at great cost of suffering, than of a
directly granted gift from heaven.

[Footnote 6: Standard Series, No. 9.]

[Footnote 7: The meaning of the "Knight and Death," even in this
respect, has lately been questioned on good grounds.]

48. On the contrary, not only the highest, but the most consistent
results have been attained in art by men in whom the faculty of vision,
however strong, was subordinate to that of deliberative design, and
tranquillised by a measured, continual, not feverish, but affectionate,
observance of the quite unvisionary facts of the surrounding world.

And so far as we can trace the connection of their powers with the moral
character of their lives, we shall find that the best art is the work of
good, but of not distinctively religious men, who, at least, are
conscious of no inspiration, and often so unconscious of their
superiority to others, that one of the greatest of them, Reynolds,
deceived by his modesty, has asserted that "all things are possible to
well-directed labour."

49. The second question, namely, how far art, if not inspired, has yet
been ennobled by religion, I shall not touch upon to-day; for it both
requires technical criticism, and would divert you too long from the
main question of all,--How far religion has been helped by art?

You will find that the operation of formative art--(I will not speak
to-day of music)--the operation of formative art on religious creed is
essentially twofold; the realisation, to the eyes, of imagined spiritual
persons; and the limitation of their imagined presence to certain
places. We will examine these two functions of it successively.

50. And first, consider accurately what the agency of art is, in
realising, to the sight, our conceptions of spiritual persons.

For instance. Assume that we believe that the Madonna is always present
to hear and answer our prayers. Assume also that this is true. I think
that persons in a perfectly honest, faithful, and humble temper, would
in that case desire only to feel so much of the Divine presence as the
spiritual Power herself chose to make felt; and, above all things, not
to think they saw, or knew, anything except what might be truly
perceived or known.

But a mind imperfectly faithful, and impatient in its distress, or
craving in its dulness for a more distinct and convincing sense of the
Divinity, would endeavour to complete, or perhaps we should rather say
to contract, its conception, into the definite figure of a woman wearing
a blue or crimson dress, and having fair features, dark eyes, and
gracefully arranged hair.

Suppose, after forming such a conception, that we have the power to
realise and preserve it, this image of a beautiful figure with a
pleasant expression cannot but have the tendency of afterwards leading
us to think of the Virgin as present, when she is not actually present;
or as pleased with us, when she is not actually pleased; or if we
resolutely prevent ourselves from such imagination, nevertheless the
existence of the image beside us will often turn our thoughts towards
subjects of religion, when otherwise they would have been differently
occupied; and, in the midst of other occupations, will familiarise more
or less, and even mechanically associate with common or faultful states
of mind, the appearance of the supposed Divine person.

51. There are thus two distinct operations upon our mind: first, the art
makes us believe what we would not otherwise have believed; and
secondly, it makes us think of subjects we should not otherwise have
thought of, intruding them amidst our ordinary thoughts in a confusing
and familiar manner. We cannot with any certainty affirm the advantage
or the harm of such accidental pieties, for their effect will be very
different on different characters: but, without any question, the art,
which makes us believe what we would not have otherwise believed, is
misapplied, and in most instances very dangerously so. Our duty is to
believe in the existence of Divine, or any other, persons, only upon
rational proofs of their existence; and not because we have seen
pictures of them.[8]

[Footnote 8: I have expunged a sentence insisting farther on this point,
having come to reverence more, as I grew older, every simple means of
stimulating all religious belief and affection. It is the lower and
realistic world which is fullest of false beliefs and vain loves.]

52. But now observe, it is here necessary to draw a distinction, so
subtle that in dealing with facts it is continually impossible to mark
it with precision, yet so vital, that not only your understanding of the
power of art, but the working of your minds in matters of primal moment
to you, depends on the effort you make to affirm this distinction
strongly. The art which realises a creature of the imagination is only
mischievous when that realisation is conceived to imply, or does
practically induce a belief in, the real existence of the imagined
personage, contrary to, or unjustified by the other evidence of its
existence. But if the art only represents the personage on the
understanding that its form is imaginary, then the effort at realisation
is healthful and beneficial.

For instance, the Greek design of Apollo crossing the sea to Delphi,
which is one of the most interesting of Le Normant's series, so far as
it is only an expression, under the symbol of a human form, of what may
be rightly imagined respecting the solar power, is right and ennobling;
but so far as it conveyed to the Greek the idea of there being a real
Apollo, it was mischievous, whether there be, or be not, a real Apollo.
If there is no real Apollo, then the art was mischievous because it
deceived; but if there is a real Apollo, then it was still more
mischievous,[9] for it not only began the degradation of the image of
that true god into a decoration for niches, and a device for seals; but
prevented any true witness being borne to his existence. For if the
Greeks, instead of multiplying representations of what they imagined to
be the figure of the god, had given us accurate drawings of the heroes
and battles of Marathon and Salamis, and had simply told us in plain
Greek what evidence they had of the power of Apollo, either through his
oracles, his help or chastisement, or by immediate vision, they would
have served their religion more truly than by all the vase-paintings and
fine statues that ever were buried or adored.

53. Now in this particular instance, and in many other examples of fine
Greek art, the two conditions of thought, symbolic and realistic, are
mingled; and the art is helpful, as I will hereafter show you, in one
function, and in the other so deadly, that I think no degradation of
conception of Deity has ever been quite so base as that implied by the
designs of Greek vases in the period of decline, say about 250 B. C.

[Footnote 9: I am again doubtful, here. The most important part of the
chapter is from § 60 to end.]

But though among the Greeks it is thus nearly always difficult to say
what is symbolic and what realistic, in the range of Christian art the
distinction is clear. In that, a vast division of imaginative work is
occupied in the symbolism of virtues, vices, or natural powers or
passions; and in the representation of personages who, though nominally
real, become in conception symbolic. In the greater part of this work
there is no intention of implying the existence of the represented
creature; Dürer's Melencolia and Giotto's Justice are accurately
characteristic examples. Now all such art is wholly good and useful when
it is the work of good men.

54. Again, there is another division of Christian work in which the
persons represented, though nominally real, are treated as
dramatis-personæ of a poem, and so presented confessedly as subjects of
imagination. All this poetic art is also good when it is the work of
good men.

55. There remains only therefore to be considered, as truly religious,
the work which definitely implies and modifies the conception of the
existence of a real person. There is hardly any great art which entirely
belongs to this class; but Raphael's Madonna della Seggiola is as
accurate a type of it as I can give you; Holbein's Madonna at Dresden,
the Madonna di San Sisto, and the Madonna of Titian's Assumption, all
belong mainly to this class, but are removed somewhat from it (as, I
repeat, nearly all great art is) into the poetical one. It is only the
bloody crucifixes and gilded virgins and other such lower forms of
imagery (by which, to the honour of the English Church, it has been
truly claimed for her, that "she has never appealed to the madness or
dulness of her people,") which belong to the realistic class in strict
limitation, and which properly constitute the type of it.

There is indeed an important school of sculpture in Spain, directed to
the same objects, but not demanding at present any special attention.
And finally, there is the vigorous and most interesting realistic school
of our own, in modern times, mainly known to the public by Holman Hunt's
picture of the Light of the World, though, I believe, deriving its first
origin from the genius of the painter to whom you owe also the revival
of interest, first here in Oxford, and then universally, in the cycle of
early English legend,--Dante Rossetti.

56. The effect of this realistic art on the religious mind of Europe
varies in scope more than any other art power; for in its higher
branches it touches the most sincere religious minds, affecting an
earnest class of persons who cannot be reached by merely poetical
design; while, in its lowest, it addresses itself not only to the most
vulgar desires for religious excitement, but to the mere thirst for
sensation of horror which characterises the uneducated orders of
partially civilised countries; nor merely to the thirst for horror, but
to the strange love of death, as such, which has sometimes in Catholic
countries showed itself peculiarly by the endeavour to paint the images
in the chapels of the Sepulchre so as to look deceptively like corpses.
The same morbid instinct has also affected the minds of many among the
more imaginative and powerful artists with a feverish gloom which
distorts their finest work; and lastly--and this is the worst of all its
effects--it has occupied the sensibility of Christian women,
universally, in lamenting the sufferings of Christ, instead of
preventing those of His people.

57. When any of you next go abroad, observe, and consider the meaning
of, the sculptures and paintings, which of every rank in art, and in
every chapel and cathedral, and by every mountain path, recall the
hours, and represent the agonies, of the Passion of Christ: and try to
form some estimate of the efforts that have been made by the four arts
of eloquence, music, painting, and sculpture, since the twelfth century,
to wring out of the hearts of women the last drops of pity that could be
excited for this merely physical agony: for the art nearly always dwells
on the physical wounds or exhaustion chiefly, and degrades, far more
than it animates, the conception of pain.

Then try to conceive the quantity of time, and of excited and thrilling
emotion, which have been wasted by the tender and delicate women of
Christendom during these last six hundred years, in thus picturing to
themselves, under the influence of such imagery, the bodily pain, long
since passed, of One Person:--which, so far as they indeed conceived it
to be sustained by a Divine Nature, could not for that reason have been
less endurable than the agonies of any simple human death by torture:
and then try to estimate what might have been the better result, for the
righteousness and felicity of mankind, if these same women had been
taught the deep meaning of the last words that were ever spoken by their
Master to those who had ministered to Him of their substance: "Daughters
of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your
children." If they had but been taught to measure with their pitiful
thoughts the tortures of battle-fields--the slowly consuming plagues of
death in the starving children, and wasted age, of the innumerable
desolate those battles left;--nay, in our own life of peace, the agony
of unnurtured, untaught, unhelped creatures, awaking at the grave's edge
to know how they should have lived; and the worse pain of those whose
existence, not the ceasing of it, is death; those to whom the cradle was
a curse, and for whom the words they cannot hear, "ashes to ashes," are
all that they have ever received of benediction. These,--you who would
fain have wept at His feet, or stood by His cross,--these you have
always with you! Him, you have not always.

58. The wretched in death you have always with you. Yes, and the brave
and good in life you have always;--these also needing help, though you
supposed they had only to help others; these also claiming to be thought
for, and remembered. And you will find, if you look into history with
this clue, that one of quite the chief reasons for the continual misery
of mankind is that they are always divided in their worship between
angels or saints, who are out of their sight, and need no help, and
proud and evil-minded men, who are too definitely in their sight, and
ought not to have their help. And consider how the arts have thus
followed the worship of the crowd. You have paintings of saints and
angels, innumerable;--of petty courtiers, and contemptible or cruel
kings, innumerable. Few, how few you have, (but these, observe, almost
always by great painters) of the best men, or of their actions. But
think for yourselves,--I have no time now to enter upon the mighty
field, nor imagination enough to guide me beyond the threshold of
it,--think, what history might have been to us now;--nay, what a
different history that of all Europe might have become, if it had but
been the object both of the people to discern, and of their arts to
honour and bear record of, the great deeds of their worthiest men. And
if, instead of living, as they have always hitherto done, in a hellish
cloud of contention and revenge, lighted by fantastic dreams of cloudy
sanctities, they had sought to reward and punish justly, wherever reward
and punishment were due, but chiefly to reward; and at least rather to
bear testimony to the human acts which deserved God's anger or His
blessing, than only, in presumptuous imagination, to display the secrets
of Judgment, or the beatitudes of Eternity.

59. Such I conceive generally, though indeed with good arising out of
it, for every great evil brings some good in its backward eddies--such I
conceive to have been the deadly function of art in its ministry to
what, whether in heathen or Christian lands, and whether in the
pageantry of words, or colours, or fair forms, is truly, and in the deep
sense, to be called (idolatry)--the serving with the best of our hearts
and minds, some dear or sad fantasy which we have made for ourselves,
while we disobey the present call of the Master, who is not dead, and
who is not now fainting under His cross, but requiring us to take up

60. I pass to the second great function of religious art, the limitation
of the idea of Divine presence to particular localities. It is of course
impossible within my present limits to touch upon this power of art, as
employed on the temples of the gods of various religions; we will
examine that on future occasions. To-day, I want only to map out main
ideas, and I can do this best by speaking exclusively of this localising
influence as it affects our own faith.

Observe first, that the localisation is almost entirely dependent upon
human art. You must at least take a stone and set it up for a pillar, if
you are to mark the place, so as to know it again, where a vision
appeared. A persecuted people, needing to conceal their places of
worship, may perform every religious ceremony first under one crag of
the hill-side, and then under another, without invalidating the
sacredness of the rites or sacraments thus administered. It is,
therefore, we all acknowledge, inessential, that a particular spot
should be surrounded with a ring of stones, or enclosed within walls of
a certain style of architecture, and so set apart as the only place
where such ceremonies may be properly performed; and it is thus less by
any direct appeal to experience or to reason, but in consequence of the
effect upon our senses produced by the architecture, that we receive the
first strong impressions of what we afterwards contend for as absolute
truth. I particularly wish you to notice how it is always by help of
human art that such a result is attained, because, remember always, I am
neither disputing nor asserting the truth of any theological
doctrine;--that is not my province;--I am only questioning the
expediency of enforcing that doctrine by the help of architecture. Put a
rough stone for an altar under the hawthorn on a village
green;--separate a portion of the green itself with an ordinary paling
from the rest;--then consecrate, with whatever form you choose, the
space of grass you have enclosed, and meet within the wooden fence as
often as you desire to pray or preach; yet you will not easily fasten an
impression in the minds of the villagers, that God inhabits the space of
grass inside the fence, and does not extend His presence to the common
beyond it: and that the daisies and violets on one side of the railing
are holy,--on the other, profane. But, instead of a wooden fence, build
a wall, pave the interior space; roof it over, so as to make it
comparatively dark;--and you may persuade the villagers with ease that
you have built a house which Deity inhabits, or that you have become, in
the old French phrase, a "logeur du Bon Dieu."

61. And farther, though I have no desire to introduce any question as to
the truth of what we thus architecturally teach, I would desire you most
strictly to determine what is intended to be taught.

Do not think I underrate--I am among the last men living who would
underrate,--the importance of the sentiments connected with their church
to the population of a pastoral village. I admit, in its fullest extent,
the moral value of the scene, which is almost always one of perfect
purity and peace; and of the sense of supernatural love and protection,
which fills and surrounds the low aisles and homely porch. But the
question I desire earnestly to leave with you is, whether all the earth
ought not to be peaceful and pure, and the acknowledgment of the Divine
protection, as universal as its reality? That in a mysterious way the
presence of Deity is vouchsafed where it is sought, and withdrawn where
it is forgotten, must of course be granted as the first postulate in the
enquiry: but the point for our decision is just this, whether it ought
always to be sought in one place only, and forgotten in every other.

It may be replied, that since it is impossible to consecrate the entire
space of the earth, it is better thus to secure a portion of it than
none: but surely, if so, we ought to make some effort to enlarge the
favoured ground, and even look forward to a time when in English
villages there may be a God's acre tenanted by the living, not the
dead; and when we shall rather look with aversion and fear to the
remnant of ground that is set apart as profane, than with reverence to a
narrow portion of it enclosed as holy.

62. But now, farther. Suppose it be admitted that by enclosing ground
with walls, and performing certain ceremonies there habitually, some
kind of sanctity is indeed secured within that space,--still the
question remains open whether it be advisable for religious purposes to
decorate the enclosure. For separation the mere walls would be enough.
What is the purpose of your decoration?

Let us take an instance--the most noble with which I am acquainted, the
Cathedral of Chartres. You have there the most splendid coloured glass,
and the richest sculpture, and the grandest proportions of building,
united to produce a sensation of pleasure and awe. We profess that this
is to honour the Deity; or, in other words, that it is pleasing to Him
that we should delight our eyes with blue and golden colours, and
solemnise our spirits by the sight of large stones laid one on another,
and ingeniously carved.

63. I do not think it can be doubted that it _is_ pleasing to Him when
we do this; for He has Himself prepared for us, nearly every morning and
evening, windows painted with Divine art, in blue and gold and
vermilion: windows lighted from within by the lustre of that heaven
which we may assume, at least with more certainty than any consecrated
ground, to be one of His dwelling-places. Again, in every mountain side,
and cliff of rude sea shore, He has heaped stones one upon another of
greater magnitude than those of Chartres Cathedral, and sculptured them
with floral ornament,--surely not less sacred because living?

64. Must it not then be only because we love our own work better than
His, that we respect the lucent glass, but not the lucent clouds; that
we weave embroidered robes with ingenious fingers, and make bright the
gilded vaults we have beautifully ordained--while yet we have not
considered the heavens, the work of His fingers, nor the stars of the
strange vault which He has ordained? And do we dream that by carving
fonts and lifting pillars in His honour, who cuts the way of the rivers
among the rocks, and at whose reproof the pillars of the earth are
astonished, we shall obtain pardon for the dishonour done to the hills
and streams by which He has appointed our dwelling-place;--for the
infection of their sweet air with poison;--for the burning up of their
tender grass and flowers with fire, and for spreading such a shame of
mixed luxury and misery over our native land, as if we laboured only
that, at least here in England, we might be able to give the lie to the
song, whether of the Cherubim above, or Church beneath--"Holy, holy,
Lord God of all creatures; Heaven--_and Earth_--are full of Thy glory"?

65. And how much more there is that I long to say to you; and how much,
I hope, that you would like to answer to me, or to question me of! But I
can say no more to-day. We are not, I trust, at the end of our talks or
thoughts together; but, if it were so, and I never spoke to you more,
this that I have said to you I should have been glad to have been
permitted to say; and this, farther, which is the sum of it,--That we
may have splendour of art again, and with that, we may truly praise and
honour our Maker, and with that set forth the beauty and holiness of all
that He has made: but only after we have striven with our whole hearts
first to sanctify the temple of the body and spirit of every child that
has no roof to cover its head from the cold, and no walls to guard its
soul from corruption, in this our English land.

One word more.

What I have suggested hitherto, respecting the relations of Art to
Religion, you must receive throughout as merely motive of thought;
though you must have well seen that my own convictions were established
finally on some of the points in question. But I must, in conclusion,
tell you something that I _know_;--which, if you truly labour, you will
one day know also; and which I trust some of you will believe, now.

During the minutes in which you have been listening to me, I suppose
that almost at every other sentence those whose habit of mind has been
one of veneration for established forms and faiths, must have been in
dread that I was about to say, or in pang of regret at my having said,
what seemed to them an irreverent or reckless word touching vitally
important things.

So far from this being the fact, it is just because the feelings that I
most desire to cultivate in your minds are those of reverence and
admiration, that I am so earnest to prevent you from being moved to
either by trivial or false semblances. _This_ is the thing which I
KNOW--and which, if you labour faithfully, you shall know also,--that in
Reverence is the chief joy and power of life;--Reverence, for what is
pure and bright in your own youth; for what is true and tried in the age
of others; for all that is gracious among the living,--great among the
dead,--and marvellous, in the Powers that cannot die.



66. You probably recollect that, in the beginning of my last lecture, it
was stated that fine art had, and could have, but three functions: the
enforcing of the religious sentiments of men, the perfecting their
ethical state, and the doing them material service. We have to-day to
examine, the mode of its action in the second power--that of perfecting
the morality, or ethical state, of men.

Perfecting, observe--not producing.

You must have the right moral state first, or you cannot have the art.
But when the art is once obtained, its reflected action enhances and
completes the moral state out of which it arose, and, above all,
communicates the exultation to other minds which are already morally
capable of the like.

67. For instance, take the art of singing, and the simplest perfect
master of it (up to the limits of his nature) whom you can find;--a
skylark. From him you may learn what it is to "sing for joy." You must
get the moral state first, the pure gladness, then give it finished
expression; and it is perfected in itself, and made communicable to
other creatures capable of such joy. But it is incommunicable to those
who are not prepared to receive it.

Now, all right human song is, similarly, the finished expression, by
art, of the joy or grief of noble persons, for right causes. And
accurately in proportion to the rightness of the cause, and purity of
the emotion, is the possibility of the fine art. A maiden may sing of
her lost love, but a miser cannot sing of his lost money. And with
absolute precision, from highest to lowest, _the fineness of the
possible art is an index of the moral purity and majesty of the emotion
it expresses_. You may test it practically at any instant. Question with
yourselves respecting any feeling that has taken strong possession of
your mind, "Could this be sung by a master, and sung nobly, with a true
melody and art?" Then it is a right feeling. Could it not be sung at
all, or only sung ludicrously? It is a base one. And that is so in all
the arts; so that with mathematical precision, subject to no error or
exception, the art of a nation, so far as it exists, is an exponent of
its ethical state.

68. An exponent, observe, and exalting influence; but not the root or
cause. You cannot paint or sing yourselves into being good men; you must
be good men before you can either paint or sing, and then the colour and
sound will complete in you all that is best.

And this it was that I called upon you to hear, saying, "listen to me at
least now," in the first lecture, namely, that no art-teaching could be
of use to you, but would rather be harmful, unless it was grafted on
something deeper than all art. For indeed not only with this, of which
it is my function to show you the laws, but much more with the art of
all men, which you came here chiefly to learn, that of language, the
chief vices of education have arisen from the one great fallacy of
supposing that noble language is a communicable trick of grammar and
accent, instead of simply the careful expression of right thought. All
the virtues of language are, in their roots, moral; it becomes accurate
if the speaker desires to be true; clear, if he speaks with sympathy and
a desire to be intelligible; powerful, if he has earnestness; pleasant,
if he has sense of rhythm and order. There are no other virtues of
language producible by art than these: but let me mark more deeply for
an instant the significance of one of them. Language, I said, is only
clear when it is sympathetic. You can, in truth, understand a man's word
only by understanding his temper. Your own word is also as of an unknown
tongue to him unless he understands yours. And it is this which makes
the art of language, if any one is to be chosen separately from the
rest, that which is fittest for the instrument of a gentleman's
education. To teach the meaning of a word thoroughly, is to teach the
nature of the spirit that coined it; the secret of language is the
secret of sympathy, and its full charm is possible only to the gentle.
And thus the principles of beautiful speech have all been fixed by
sincere and kindly speech. On the laws which have been determined by
sincerity, false speech, apparently beautiful, may afterwards be
constructed; but all such utterance, whether in oration or poetry, is
not only without permanent power, but it is destructive of the
principles it has usurped. So long as no words are uttered but in
faithfulness, so long the art of language goes on exalting itself; but
the moment it is shaped and chiselled on external principles, it falls
into frivolity, and perishes. And this truth would have been long ago
manifest, had it not been that in periods of advanced academical science
there is always a tendency to deny the sincerity of the first masters of
language. Once learn to write gracefully in the manner of an ancient
author, and we are apt to think that he also wrote in the manner of some
one else. But no noble nor right style was ever yet founded but out of a
sincere heart.

No man is worth reading to form your style, who does not mean what he
says; nor was any great style ever invented but by some man who meant
what he said. Find out the beginner of a great manner of writing, and
you have also found the declarer of some true facts or sincere passions:
and your whole method of reading will thus be quickened, for, being sure
that your author really meant what he said, you will be much more
careful to ascertain what it is that he means.

69. And of yet greater importance is it deeply to know that every beauty
possessed by the language of a nation is significant of the innermost
laws of its being. Keep the temper of the people stern and manly; make
their associations grave, courteous, and for worthy objects; occupy them
in just deeds; and their tongue must needs be a grand one. Nor is it
possible, therefore--observe the necessary reflected action--that any
tongue should be a noble one, of which the words are not so many
trumpet-calls to action. All great languages invariably utter great
things, and command them; they cannot be mimicked but by obedience; the
breath of them is inspiration because it is not only vocal, but vital;
and you can only learn to speak as these men spoke, by becoming what
these men were.

70. Now for direct confirmation of this, I want you to think over the
relation of expression to character in two great masters of the absolute
art of language, Virgil and Pope. You are perhaps surprised at the last
name; and indeed you have in English much higher grasp and melody of
language from more passionate minds, but you have nothing else, in its
range, so perfect. I name, therefore, these two men, because they are
the two most accomplished _Artists_, merely as such, whom I know in
literature; and because I think you will be afterwards interested in
investigating how the infinite grace in the words of the one, and the
severity in those of the other, and the precision in those of both,
arise wholly out of the moral elements of their minds:--out of the deep
tenderness in Virgil which enabled him to write the stories of Nisus and
Lausus; and the serene and just benevolence which placed Pope, in his
theology, two centuries in advance of his time, and enabled him to sum
the law of noble life in two lines which, so far as I know, are the most
complete, the most concise, and the most lofty expression of moral
temper existing in English words:--

    _"Never elated, while one man's oppress'd;_
    _Never dejected, while another's bless'd."_

I wish you also to remember these lines of Pope, and to make yourselves
entirely masters of his system of ethics; because, putting Shakespeare
aside as rather the world's than ours, I hold Pope to be the most
perfect representative we have, since Chaucer, of the true English mind;
and I think the Dunciad is the most absolutely chiselled and monumental
work "exacted" in our country. You will find, as you study Pope, that
he has expressed for you, in the strictest language and within the
briefest limits, every law of art, of criticism, of economy, of policy,
and, finally, of a benevolence, humble, rational, and resigned,
contented with its allotted share of life, and trusting the problem of
its salvation to Him in whose hand lies that of the universe.

71. And now I pass to the arts with which I have special concern, in
which, though the facts are exactly the same, I shall have more
difficulty in proving my assertion, because very few of us are as
cognizant of the merit of painting as we are of that of language; and I
can only show you whence that merit springs, after having thoroughly
shown you in what it consists. But, in the meantime, I have simply to
tell you, that the manual arts are as accurate exponents of ethical
state, as other modes of expression; first, with absolute precision, of
that of the workman; and then with precision, disguised by many
distorting influences, of that of the nation to which it belongs.

And, first, they are a perfect exponent of the mind of the workman: but,
being so, remember, if the mind be great or complex, the art is not an
easy book to read; for we must ourselves possess all the mental
characters of which we are to read the signs. No man can read the
evidence of labour who is not himself laborious, for he does not know
what the work cost: nor can he read the evidence of true passion if he
is not passionate; nor of gentleness if he is not gentle: and the most
subtle signs of fault and weakness of character he can only judge by
having had the same faults to fight with. I myself, for instance, know
impatient work, and tired work, better than most critics, because I am
myself always impatient, and often tired:--so also, the patient and
indefatigable touch of a mighty master becomes more wonderful to me than
to others. Yet, wonderful in no mean measure it will be to you all, when
I make it manifest,--and as soon as we begin our real work, and you have
learned what it is to draw a true line, I shall be able to make manifest
to you,--and indisputably so,--that the day's work of a man like
Mantegna or Paul Veronese consists of an unfaltering, uninterrupted
succession of movements of the hand more precise than those of the
finest fencer: the pencil leaving one point and arriving at another, not
only with unerring precision at the extremity of the line, but with an
unerring and yet varied course--sometimes over spaces a foot or more in
extent--yet a course so determined everywhere, that either of these men
could, and Veronese often does, draw a finished profile, or any other
portion of the contour of the face, with one line, not afterwards
changed. Try, first, to realise to yourselves the muscular precision of
that action, and the intellectual strain of it; for the movement of a
fencer is perfect in practised monotony; but the movement of the hand of
a great painter is at every instant governed by a direct and new
intention. Then imagine that muscular firmness and subtlety, and the
instantaneously selective and ordinant energy of the brain, sustained
all day long, not only without fatigue, but with a visible joy in the
exertion, like that which an eagle seems to take in the wave of his
wings; and this all life long, and through long life, not only without
failure of power, but with visible increase of it, until the actually
organic changes of old age. And then consider, so far as you know
anything of physiology, what sort of an ethical state of body and mind
that means! ethic through ages past! what fineness of race there must be
to get it, what exquisite balance and symmetry of the vital powers! And
then, finally, determine for yourselves whether a manhood like that is
consistent with any viciousness of soul, with any mean anxiety, any
gnawing lust, any wretchedness of spite or remorse, any consciousness of
rebellion against law of God or man, or any actual, though unconscious
violation of even the least law to which obedience is essential for the
glory of life and the pleasing of its Giver.

72. It is, of course, true that many of the strong masters had deep
faults of character, but their faults always show in their work. It is
true that some could not govern their passions; if so, they died young,
or they painted ill when old. But the greater part of our
misapprehension in the whole matter is from our not having well known
who the great painters were, and taking delight in the petty skill that
was bred in the fumes of the taverns of the North, instead of theirs who
breathed empyreal air, sons of the morning, under the woods of Assisi
and the crags of Cadore.

73. It is true however also, as I have pointed out long ago, that the
strong masters fall into two great divisions, one leading simple and
natural lives, the other restrained in a Puritanism of the worship of
beauty; and these two manners of life you may recognise in a moment by
their work. Generally the naturalists are the strongest; but there are
two of the Puritans, whose work if I can succeed in making clearly
understandable to you during my three years here, it is all I need care
to do. But of these two Puritans one I cannot name to you, and the other
I at present will not. One I cannot, for no one knows his name, except
the baptismal one, Bernard, or "dear little Bernard"--Bernardino, called
from his birthplace, (Luino, on the Lago Maggiore,) Bernard of Luino.
The other is a Venetian, of whom many of you probably have never heard,
and of whom, through me, you shall not hear, until I have tried to get
some picture by him over to England.

74. Observe then, this Puritanism in the worship of beauty, though
sometimes weak, is always honourable and amiable, and the exact reverse
of the false Puritanism, which consists in the dread or disdain of
beauty. And in order to treat my subject rightly, I ought to proceed
from the skill of art to the choice of its subject, and show you how the
moral temper of the workman is shown by his seeking lovely forms and
thoughts to express, as well as by the force of his hand in expression.
But I need not now urge this part of the proof on you, because you are
already, I believe, sufficiently conscious of the truth in this matter,
and also I have already said enough of it in my writings; whereas I have
not at all said enough of the infallibleness of fine technical work as a
proof of every other good power. And indeed it was long before I myself
understood the true meaning of the pride of the greatest men in their
mere execution, shown for a permanent lesson to us, in the stories
which, whether true or not, indicate with absolute accuracy the general
conviction of great artists;--the stories of the contest of Apelles and
Protogenes in a line only, (of which I can promise you, you shall know
the meaning to some purpose in a little while),--the story of the circle
of Giotto, and especially, which you may perhaps not have observed, the
expression of Dürer in his inscription on the drawings sent him by
Raphael. These figures, he says, "Raphael drew and sent to Albert Dürer
in Nürnberg, to show him"--What? Not his invention, nor his beauty of
expression, but "sein Hand zu weisen," "To show him his _hand_." And you
will find, as you examine farther, that all inferior artists are
continually trying to escape from the necessity of sound work, and
either indulging themselves in their delights in subject, or pluming
themselves on their noble motives for attempting what they cannot
perform; (and observe, by the way, that a great deal of what is mistaken
for conscientious motive is nothing but a very pestilent, because very
subtle, condition of vanity); whereas the great men always understand at
once that the first morality of a painter, as of everybody else, is to
know his business; and so earnest are they in this, that many, whose
lives you would think, by the results of their work, had been passed in
strong emotion, have in reality subdued themselves, though capable of
the very strongest passions, into a calm as absolute as that of a deeply
sheltered mountain lake, which reflects every agitation of the clouds in
the sky, and every change of the shadows on the hills, but is itself

75. Finally, you must remember that great obscurity has been brought
upon the truth in this matter by the want of integrity and simplicity in
our modern life. I mean integrity in the Latin sense, wholeness.
Everything is broken up, and mingled in confusion, both in our habits
and thoughts; besides being in great part imitative: so that you not
only cannot tell what a man is, but sometimes you cannot tell whether
he is, at all!--whether you have indeed to do with a spirit, or only
with an echo. And thus the same inconsistencies appear now, between the
work of artists of merit and their personal characters, as those which
you find continually disappointing expectation in the lives of men of
modern literary power; the same conditions of society having obscured or
misdirected the best qualities of the imagination, both in our
literature and art. Thus there is no serious question with any of us as
to the personal character of Dante and Giotto, of Shakespeare and
Holbein; but we pause timidly in the attempt to analyse the moral laws
of the art skill in recent poets, novelists, and painters.

76. Let me assure you once for all, that as you grow older, if you
enable yourselves to distinguish, by the truth of your own lives, what
is true in those of other men, you will gradually perceive that all good
has its origin in good, never in evil; that the fact of either
literature or painting being truly fine of their kind, whatever their
mistaken aim, or partial error, is proof of their noble origin: and
that, if there is indeed sterling value in the thing done, it has come
of a sterling worth in the soul that did it, however alloyed or defiled
by conditions of sin which are sometimes more appalling or more strange
than those which all may detect in their own hearts, because they are
part of a personality altogether larger than ours, and as far beyond our
judgment in its darkness as beyond our following in its light. And it is
sufficient warning against what some might dread as the probable effect
of such a conviction on your own minds, namely, that you might permit
yourselves in the weaknesses which you imagined to be allied to genius,
when they took the form of personal temptations;--it is surely, I say,
sufficient warning against so mean a folly, to discern, as you may with
little pains, that, of all human existences, the lives of men of that
distorted and tainted nobility of intellect are probably the most

77. I pass to the second, and for us the more practically important
question, What is the effect of noble art upon other men; what has it
done for national morality in time past: and what effect is the extended
knowledge or possession of it likely to have upon us now? And here we
are at once met by the facts, which are as gloomy as indisputable, that,
while many peasant populations, among whom scarcely the rudest practice
of art has ever been attempted, have lived in comparative innocence,
honour and happiness, the worst foulness and cruelty of savage tribes
have been frequently associated with fine ingenuities of decorative
design; also, that no people has ever attained the higher stages of art
skill, except at a period of its civilisation which was sullied by
frequent, violent and even monstrous crime; and, lastly, that the
attaining of perfection in art power has been hitherto, in every nation,
the accurate signal of the beginning of its ruin.

78. Respecting which phenomena, observe first, that although good never
springs out of evil, it is developed to its highest by contention with
evil. There are some groups of peasantry, in far-away nooks of Christian
countries, who are nearly as innocent as lambs; but the morality which
gives power to art is the morality of men, not of cattle.

Secondly, the virtues of the inhabitants of many country districts are
apparent, not real; their lives are indeed artless, but not innocent;
and it is only the monotony of circumstances, and the absence of
temptation, which prevent the exhibition of evil passions not less real
because often dormant, nor less foul because shown only in petty faults,
or inactive malignities.

79. But you will observe also that _absolute_ artlessness, to men in any
kind of moral health, is impossible; they have always, at least, the art
by which they live--agriculture or seamanship; and in these industries,
skilfully practised, you will find the law of their moral training;
while, whatever the adversity of circumstances, every rightly-minded
peasantry, such as that of Sweden, Denmark, Bavaria, or Switzerland, has
associated with its needful industry a quite studied school of
pleasurable art in dress; and generally also in song, and simple
domestic architecture.

80. Again, I need not repeat to you here what I endeavoured to explain
in the first lecture in the book I called "The Two Paths," respecting
the arts of savage races: but I may now note briefly that such arts are
the result of an intellectual activity which has found no room to
expand, and which the tyranny of nature or of man has condemned to
disease through arrested growth. And where neither Christianity, nor any
other religion conveying some moral help, has reached, the animal energy
of such races necessarily flames into ghastly conditions of evil, and
the grotesque or frightful forms assumed by their art are precisely
indicative of their distorted moral nature.

81. But the truly great nations nearly always begin from a race
possessing this imaginative power; and for some time their progress is
very slow, and their state not one of innocence, but of feverish and
faultful animal energy. This is gradually subdued and exalted into
bright human life; the art instinct purifying itself with the rest of
the nature, until social perfectness is nearly reached; and then comes
the period when conscience and intellect are so highly developed, that
new forms of error begin in the inability to fulfil the demands of the
one, or to answer the doubts of the other. Then the wholeness of the
people is lost; all kinds of hypocrisies and oppositions of science
develop themselves; their faith is questioned on one side, and
compromised with on the other; wealth commonly increases at the same
period to a destructive extent; luxury follows; and the ruin of the
nation is then certain: while the arts, all this time, are simply, as I
said at first, the exponents of each phase of its moral state, and no
more control it in its political career than the gleam of the firefly
guides its oscillation. It is true that their most splendid results are
usually obtained in the swiftness of the power which is hurrying to the
precipice; but to lay the charge of the catastrophe to the art by which
it is illumined, is to find a cause for the cataract in the hues of its
iris. It is true that the colossal vices belonging to periods of great
national wealth (for wealth, you will find, is the real root of all
evil) can turn every good gift and skill of nature or of man to evil
purpose. If, in such times, fair pictures have been misused, how much
more fair realities? And if Miranda is immoral to Caliban, is that
Miranda's fault?

82. And I could easily go on to trace for you what at the moment I
speak, is signified, in our own national character, by the forms of art,
and unhappily also by the forms of what is not art, but [Greek:
atechnia], that exist among us. But the more important question is, What
_will_ be signified by them; what is there in us now of worth and
strength, which under our new and partly accidental impulse towards
formative labour, may be by that expressed, and by that fortified?

Would it not be well to know this? Nay, irrespective of all future work,
is it not the first thing we should want to know, what stuff we are made
of--how far we are +agathoi+ or +kakoi+--good, or good for
nothing? We may all know that, each of ourselves, easily enough, if we
like to put one grave question well home.

83. Supposing it were told any of you by a physician whose word you
could not but trust, that you had not more than seven days to live. And
suppose also that, by the manner of your education it had happened to
you, as it has happened to many, never to have heard of any future
state, or not to have credited what you heard; and therefore that you
had to face this fact of the approach of death in its simplicity:
fearing no punishment for any sin that you might have before committed,
or in the coming days might determine to commit; and having similarly no
hope of reward for past, or yet possible, virtue; nor even of any
consciousness whatever to be left to you, after the seventh day had
ended, either of the results of your acts to those whom you loved, or of
the feelings of any survivors towards you. Then the manner in which you
would spend the seven days is an exact measure of the morality of your

84. I know that some of you, and I believe the greater number of you,
would, in such a case, spend the granted days entirely as you ought.
Neither in numbering the errors, or deploring the pleasures of the
past; nor in grasping at vile good in the present, nor vainly lamenting
the darkness of the future; but in an instant and earnest execution of
whatever it might be possible for you to accomplish in the time, in
setting your affairs in order, and in providing for the future comfort,
and--so far as you might by any message or record of yourself,--for the
consolation, of those whom you loved, and by whom you desired to be
remembered, not for your good, but for theirs. How far you might fail
through human weakness, in shame for the past, despair at the little
that could in the remnant of life be accomplished, or the intolerable
pain of broken affection, would depend wholly on the degree in which
your nature had been depressed or fortified by the manner of your past
life. But I think there are few of you who would not spend those last
days better than all that had preceded them.

85. If you look accurately through the records of the lives that have
been most useful to humanity, you will find that all that has been done
best, has been done so;--that to the clearest intellects and highest
souls,--to the true children of the Father, with whom a thousand years
are as one day, their poor seventy years are but as seven days. The
removal of the shadow of death from them to an uncertain, but always
narrow, distance, never takes away from them their intuition of its
approach; the extending to them of a few hours more or less of light
abates not their acknowledgment of the infinitude that must remain to be
known beyond their knowledge,--done beyond their deeds: the
unprofitableness of their momentary service is wrought in a magnificent
despair, and their very honour is bequeathed by them for the joy of
others, as they lie down to their rest, regarding for themselves the
voice of men no more.

86. The best things, I repeat to you, have been done thus, and
therefore, sorrowfully. But the greatest part of the good work of the
world is done either in pure and unvexed instinct of duty, "I have
stubbed Thornaby waste," or else, and better, it is cheerful and helpful
doing of what the hand finds to do, in surety that at evening time,
whatsoever is right the Master will give. And that it be worthily done,
depends wholly on that ultimate quantity of worth which you can measure,
each in himself, by the test I have just given you. For that test,
observe, will mark to you the precise force, first of your absolute
courage, and then of the energy in you for the right ordering of things,
and the kindly dealing with persons. You have cut away from these two
instincts every selfish or common motive, and left nothing but the
energies of Order and of Love.

87. Now, where those two roots are set, all the other powers and desires
find right nourishment, and become to their own utmost, helpful to
others and pleasurable to ourselves. And so far as those two springs of
action are not in us, all other powers become corrupt or dead; even the
love of truth, apart from these, hardens into an insolent and cold
avarice of knowledge, which unused, is more vain than unused gold.

88. These, then, are the two essential instincts of humanity: the love
of Order and the love of Kindness. By the love of order the moral energy
is to deal with the earth, and to dress it, and keep it; and with all
rebellious and dissolute forces in lower creatures, or in ourselves. By
the love of doing kindness it is to deal rightly with all surrounding
life. And then, grafted on these, we are to make every other passion
perfect; so that they may every one have full strength and yet be
absolutely under control.

89. Every one must be strong, every one perfect, every one obedient as a
war horse. And it is among the most beautiful pieces of mysticism to
which eternal truth is attached, that the chariot race, which Plato uses
as an image of moral government, and which is indeed the most perfect
type of it in any visible skill of men, should have been made by the
Greeks the continual subject of their best poetry and best art.
Nevertheless Plato's use of it is not altogether true. There is no black
horse in the chariot of the soul. One of the driver's worst faults is in
starving his horses; another, in not breaking them early enough; but
they are all good. Take, for example, one usually thought of as wholly
evil--that of Anger, leading to vengeance. I believe it to be quite one
of the crowning wickednesses of this age that we have starved and
chilled our faculty of indignation, and neither desire nor dare to
punish crimes justly. We have taken up the benevolent idea, forsooth,
that justice is to be preventive instead of vindictive; and we imagine
that we are to punish, not in anger, but in expediency; not that we may
give deserved pain to the person in fault, but that we may frighten
other people from committing the same fault. The beautiful theory of
this non-vindictive justice is, that having convicted a man of a crime
worthy of death, we entirely pardon the criminal, restore him to his
place in our affection and esteem, and then hang him, not as a
malefactor, but as a scarecrow. That is the theory. And the practice is,
that we send a child to prison for a month for stealing a handful of
walnuts, for fear that other children should come to steal more of our
walnuts. And we do not punish a swindler for ruining a thousand
families, because we think swindling is a wholesome excitement to trade.

90. But all true justice is vindictive to vice, as it is rewarding to
virtue. Only--and herein it is distinguished from personal revenge--it
is vindictive of the wrong done;--not of the wrong done _to us_. It is
the national expression of deliberate anger, as of deliberate gratitude;
it is not exemplary, or even corrective, but essentially retributive; it
is the absolute art of measured recompense, giving honour where honour
is due, and shame where shame is due, and joy where joy is due, and pain
where pain is due. It is neither educational, for men are to be educated
by wholesome habit, not by rewards and punishments; nor is it
preventive, for it is to be executed without regard to any consequences;
but only for righteousness' sake, a righteous nation does judgment and
justice. But in this, as in all other instances, the rightness of the
secondary passion depends on its being grafted on those two primary
instincts, the love of order and of kindness, so that indignation
itself is against the wounding of love. Do you think the +mênis
Achilêos+ came of a hard heart in Achilles, or the "Pallas te hoc
vulnere, Pallas," of a hard heart in Anchises' son?

91. And now, if with this clue through the labyrinth of them, you
remember the course of the arts of great nations, you will perceive that
whatever has prospered, and become lovely, had its beginning--for no
other was possible--in the love of order in material things associated
with true +dikaiosunê+: and the desire of beauty in material
things, which is associated with true affection, _charitas_, and with
the innumerable conditions of gentleness expressed by the different uses
of the words +charis+ and _gratia_. You will find that this love
of beauty is an essential part of all healthy human nature, and though
it can long co-exist with states of life in many other respects
unvirtuous, it is itself wholly good;--the direct adversary of envy,
avarice, mean worldly care, and especially of cruelty. It entirely
perishes when these are wilfully indulged; and the men in whom it has
been most strong have always been compassionate, and lovers of justice,
and the earliest discerners and declarers of things conducive to the
happiness of mankind.

92. Nearly every important truth respecting the love of beauty in its
familiar relations to human life was mythically expressed by the Greeks
in their various accounts of the parentage and offices of the Graces.
But one fact, the most vital of all, they could not in its fulness
perceive, namely, that the intensity of other perceptions of beauty is
exactly commensurate with the imaginative purity of the passion of love,
and with the singleness of its devotion. They were not fully conscious
of, and could not therefore either mythically or philosophically
express, the deep relation within themselves between their power of
perceiving beauty, and the honour of domestic affection which found
their sternest themes of tragedy in the infringement of its laws;--which
made the rape of Helen the chief subject of their epic poetry, and which
fastened their clearest symbolism of resurrection on the story of
Alcestis. Unhappily, the subordinate position of their most revered
women, and the partial corruption of feeling towards them by the
presence of certain other singular states of inferior passion which it
is as difficult as grievous to analyse, arrested the ethical as well as
the formative progress of the Greek mind; and it was not until after an
interval of nearly two thousand years of various error and pain, that,
partly as the true reward of Christian warfare nobly sustained through
centuries of trial, and partly as the visionary culmination of the faith
which saw in a maiden's purity the link between God and her race, the
highest and holiest strength of mortal love was reached; and, together
with it, in the song of Dante, and the painting of Bernard of Luino and
his fellows, the perception, and embodiment for ever of whatsoever
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of
good report;--that, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise,
men might think on those things.

93. You probably observed the expression I used a moment ago, the
_imaginative_ purity of the passion of love. I have not yet spoken, nor
is it possible for me to-day, to speak adequately, of the moral power of
the imagination: but you may for yourselves enough discern its nature
merely by comparing the dignity of the relations between the sexes, from
their lowest level in moths or mollusca, through the higher creatures in
whom they become a domestic influence and law, up to the love of pure
men and women; and, finally, to the ideal love which animated chivalry.
Throughout this vast ascent it is the gradual increase of the
imaginative faculty which exalts and enlarges the authority of the
passion, until, at its height, it is the bulwark of patience, the tutor
of honour, and the perfectness of praise.

94. You will find farther, that as of love, so of all the other
passions, the right government and exaltation begins in that of the
Imagination, which is lord over them. For to _subdue_ the passions,
which is thought so often to be the sum of duty respecting them, is
possible enough to a proud dulness; but to _excite_ them rightly, and
make them strong for good, is the work of the unselfish imagination. It
is constantly said that human nature is heartless. Do not believe it.
Human nature is kind and generous; but it is narrow and blind; and can
only with difficulty conceive anything but what it immediately sees and
feels. People would instantly care for others as well as themselves if
only they could _imagine_ others as well as themselves. Let a child fall
into the river before the roughest man's eyes;--he will usually do what
he can to get it out, even at some risk to himself; and all the town
will triumph in the saving of one little life. Let the same man be shown
that hundreds of children are dying of fever for want of some sanitary
measure which it will cost him trouble to urge, and he will make no
effort; and probably all the town would resist him if he did. So, also,
the lives of many deserving women are passed in a succession of petty
anxieties about themselves, and gleaning of minute interests and mean
pleasures in their immediate circle, because they are never taught to
make any effort to look beyond it; or to know anything about the mighty
world in which their lives are fading, like blades of bitter grass in
fruitless fields.

95. I had intended to enlarge on this--and yet more on the kingdom which
every man holds in his conceptive faculty, to be peopled with active
thoughts and lovely presences, or left waste for the springing up of
those dark desires and dreams of which it is written that "every
imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is evil continually." True,
and a thousand times true it is, that, here at least, "greater is he
that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city." But this you can
partly follow out for yourselves without help, partly we must leave it
for future enquiry. I press to the conclusion which I wish to leave with
you, that all you can rightly do, or honourably become, depends on the
government of these two instincts of order and kindness, by this great
Imaginative faculty, which gives you inheritance of the past, grasp of
the present, authority over the future. Map out the spaces of your
possible lives by its help; measure the range of their possible agency!
On the walls and towers of this your fair city, there is not an ornament
of which the first origin may not be traced back to the thoughts of men
who died two thousand years ago. Whom will _you_ be governing by your
thoughts, two thousand years hence? Think of it, and you will find that
so far from art being immoral, little else except art is moral; that
life without industry is guilt, and industry without art is brutality:
and for the words "good" and "wicked," used of men, you may almost
substitute the words "Makers" and "Destroyers." Far the greater part of
the seeming prosperity of the world is, so far as our present knowledge
extends, vain: wholly useless for any kind of good, but having assigned
to it a certain inevitable sequence of destruction and of sorrow. Its
stress is only the stress of wandering storm; its beauty the hectic of
plague: and what is called the history of mankind is too often the
record of the whirlwind, and the map of the spreading of the leprosy.
But underneath all that, or in narrow spaces of dominion in the midst of
it, the work of every man, "qui non accepit in vanitatem animam suam,"
endures and prospers; a small remnant or green bud of it prevailing at
last over evil. And though faint with sickness, and encumbered in ruin,
the true workers redeem inch by inch the wilderness into garden ground;
by the help of their joined hands the order of all things is surely
sustained and vitally expanded, and although with strange vacillation,
in the eyes of the watcher, the morning cometh, and also the night,
there is no hour of human existence that does not draw on towards the
perfect day.

96. And perfect the day shall be, when it is of all men understood that
the beauty of Holiness must be in labour as well as in rest. Nay!
_more_, if it may be, in labour; in our strength, rather than in our
weakness; and in the choice of what we shall work for through the six
days, and may know to be good at their evening time, than in the choice
of what we pray for on the seventh, of reward or repose. With the
multitude that keep holiday, we may perhaps sometimes vainly have gone
up to the house of the Lord, and vainly there asked for what we fancied
would be mercy; but for the few who labour as their Lord would have
them, the mercy needs no seeking, and their wide home no hallowing.
Surely goodness and mercy shall _follow_ them, _all_ the days of their
life; and they shall dwell in the house of the Lord--FOR EVER.



97. Our subject of enquiry to-day, you will remember, is the mode in
which fine art is founded upon, or may contribute to, the practical
requirements of human life.

Its offices in this respect are mainly twofold: it gives Form to
knowledge, and Grace to utility; that is to say, it makes permanently
visible to us things which otherwise could neither be described by our
science, nor retained by our memory; and it gives delightfulness and
worth to the implements of daily use, and materials of dress, furniture
and lodging. In the first of these offices it gives precision and charm
to truth; in the second it gives precision and charm to service. For,
the moment we make anything useful thoroughly, it is a law of nature
that we shall be pleased with ourselves, and with the thing we have
made; and become desirous therefore to adorn or complete it, in some
dainty way, with finer art expressive of our pleasure.

And the point I wish chiefly to bring before you to-day is this close
and healthy connection of the fine arts with material use; but I must
first try briefly to put in clear light the function of art in giving
Form to truth.

98. Much that I have hitherto tried to teach has been disputed on the
ground that I have attached too much importance to art as representing
natural facts, and too little to it as a source of pleasure. And I wish,
in the close of these four prefatory lectures, strongly to assert to
you, and, so far as I can in the time, convince you, that the entire
vitality of art depends upon its being either full of truth, or full of
use; and that, however pleasant, wonderful or impressive it may be in
itself, it must yet be of inferior kind, and tend to deeper
inferiority, unless it has clearly one of these main objects,--either
_to state a true thing_, or to _adorn a serviceable one_. It must never
exist alone--never for itself; it exists rightly only when it is the
means of knowledge, or the grace of agency for life.

99. Now, I pray you to observe--for though I have said this often
before, I have never yet said it clearly enough--every good piece of
art, to whichever of these ends it may be directed, involves first
essentially the evidence of human skill and the formation of an actually
beautiful thing by it.

Skill, and beauty, always then; and, beyond these, the formative arts
have always one or other of the two objects which I have just defined to
you--truth, or serviceableness; and without these aims neither the skill
nor their beauty will avail; only by these can either legitimately
reign. All the graphic arts begin in keeping the outline of shadow that
we have loved, and they end in giving to it the aspect of life; and all
the architectural arts begin in the shaping of the cup and the platter,
and they end in a glorified roof.

Therefore, you see, in the graphic arts you have Skill, Beauty, and
Likeness; and in the architectural arts, Skill, Beauty, and Use; and you
_must_ have the three in each group, balanced and co-ordinate; and all
the chief errors of art consist in losing or exaggerating one of these

100. For instance, almost the whole system and hope of modern life are
founded on the notion that you may substitute mechanism for skill,
photograph for picture, cast-iron for sculpture. That is your main
nineteenth-century faith, or infidelity. You think you can get
everything by grinding--music, literature, and painting. You will find
it grievously not so; you can get nothing but dust by mere grinding.
Even to have the barley-meal out of it, you must have the barley first;
and that comes by growth, not grinding. But essentially, we have lost
our delight in Skill; in that majesty of it which I was trying to make
clear to you in my last address, and which long ago I tried to express,
under the head of ideas of power. The entire sense of that, we have
lost, because we ourselves do not take pains enough to do right, and
have no conception of what the right costs; so that all the joy and
reverence we ought to feel in looking at a strong man's work have ceased
in us. We keep them yet a little in looking at a honeycomb or a
bird's-nest; we understand that these differ, by divinity of skill, from
a lump of wax or a cluster of sticks. But a picture, which is a much
more wonderful thing than a honeycomb or a bird's-nest,--have we not
known people, and sensible people too, who expected to be taught to
produce that, in six lessons?

101. Well, you must have the skill, you must have the beauty, which is
the highest moral element; and then, lastly, you must have the verity or
utility, which is not the moral, but the vital element; and this desire
for verity and use is the one aim of the three that always leads in
great schools, and in the minds of great masters, without any exception.
They will permit themselves in awkwardness, they will permit themselves
in ugliness; but they will never permit themselves in uselessness or in

102. And farther, as their skill increases, and as their grace, so much
more, their desire for truth. It is impossible to find the three motives
in fairer balance and harmony than in our own Reynolds. He rejoices in
showing you his skill; and those of you who succeed in learning what
painter's work really is, will one day rejoice also, even to
laughter--that highest laughter which springs of pure delight, in
watching the fortitude and the fire of a hand which strikes forth its
will upon the canvas as easily as the wind strikes it on the sea. He
rejoices in all abstract beauty and rhythm and melody of design; he will
never give you a colour that is not lovely, nor a shade that is
unnecessary, nor a line that is ungraceful. But all his power and all
his invention are held by him subordinate,--and the more obediently
because of their nobleness,--to his true leading purpose of setting
before you such likeness of the living presence of an English gentleman
or an English lady, as shall be worthy of being looked upon for ever.

103. But farther, you remember, I hope--for I said it in a way that I
thought would shock you a little, that you might remember it--my
statement, that art had never done more than this, never more than given
the likeness of a noble human being. Not only so, but it very seldom
does so much as this; and the best pictures that exist of the great
schools are all portraits, or groups of portraits, often of very simple
and no wise noble persons. You may have much more brilliant and
impressive qualities in imaginative pictures; you may have figures
scattered like clouds, or garlanded like flowers; you may have light and
shade, as of a tempest, and colour, as of the rainbow; but all that is
child's play to the great men, though it is astonishment to us. Their
real strength is tried to the utmost, and as far as I know, it is never
elsewhere brought out so thoroughly, as in painting one man or woman,
and the soul that was in them; nor that always the highest soul, but
often only a thwarted one that was capable of height; or perhaps not
even that, but faultful and poor, yet seen through, to the poor best of
it, by the masterful sight. So that in order to put before you in your
Standard series, the best art possible, I am obliged, even from the very
strongest men, to take portraits, before I take the idealism. Nay,
whatever is best in the great compositions themselves has depended on
portraiture; and the study necessary to enable you to understand
invention will also convince you that the mind of man never invented a
greater thing than the form of man, animated by faithful life. Every
attempt to refine or exalt such healthy humanity has weakened or
caricatured it; or else consists only in giving it, to please our fancy,
the wings of birds, or the eyes of antelopes. Whatever is truly great in
either Greek or Christian art, is also restrictedly human; and even the
raptures of the redeemed souls who enter, "celestemente ballando," the
gate of Angelico's Paradise, were seen first in the terrestrial, yet
most pure, mirth of Florentine maidens.

104. I am aware that this cannot but at present appear gravely
questionable to those of my audience who are strictly cognisant of the
phases of Greek art; for they know that the moment of its decline is
accurately marked, by its turning from abstract form to portraiture. But
the reason of this is simple. The progressive course of Greek art was in
subduing monstrous conceptions to natural ones; it did this by general
laws; it reached absolute truth of generic human form, and if this
ethical force had remained, would have advanced into healthy
portraiture. But at the moment of change the national life ended in
Greece; and portraiture, there, meant insult to her religion, and
flattery to her tyrants. And her skill perished, not because she became
true in sight, but because she became vile at heart.

105. And now let us think of our own work, and ask how that may become,
in its own poor measure, active in some verity of representation. We
certainly cannot begin by drawing kings or queens; but we must try, even
in our earliest work, if it is to prosper, to draw something that will
convey true knowledge both to ourselves and others. And I think you will
find greatest advantage in the endeavour to give more life and
educational power to the simpler branches of natural science: for the
great scientific men are all so eager in advance that they have no time
to popularise their discoveries, and if we can glean after them a
little, and make pictures of the things which science describes, we
shall find the service a worthy one. Not only so, but we may even be
helpful to science herself; for she has suffered by her proud severance
from the arts; and having made too little effort to realise her
discoveries to vulgar eyes, has herself lost true measure of what was
chiefly precious in them.

106. Take Botany, for instance. Our scientific botanists are, I think,
chiefly at present occupied in distinguishing species, which perfect
methods of distinction will probably in the future show to be
indistinct;--in inventing descriptive names of which a more advanced
science and more fastidious scholarship will show some to be
unnecessary, and others inadmissible;--and in microscopic investigations
of structure, which through many alternate links of triumphant
discovery that tissue is composed of vessels, and that vessels are
composed of tissue, have not hitherto completely explained to us either
the origin, the energy, or the course of the sap; and which however
subtle or successful, bear to the real natural history of plants only
the relation that anatomy and organic chemistry bear to the history of
men. In the meantime, our artists are so generally convinced of the
truth of the Darwinian theory that they do not always think it necessary
to show any difference between the foliage of an elm and an oak; and the
gift-books of Christmas have every page surrounded with laboriously
engraved garlands of rose, shamrock, thistle, and forget-me-not, without
its being thought proper by the draughtsman, or desirable by the public,
even in the case of those uncommon flowers, to observe the real shape of
the petals of any one of them.

107. Now what we especially need at present for educational purposes is
to know, not the anatomy of plants, but their biography--how and where
they live and die, their tempers, benevolences, malignities, distresses,
and virtues. We want them drawn from their youth to their age, from bud
to fruit. We ought to see the various forms of their diminished but
hardy growth in cold climates, or poor soils; and their rank or wild
luxuriance, when full-fed, and warmly nursed. And all this we ought to
have drawn so accurately, that we might at once compare any given part
of a plant with the same part of any other, drawn on the like
conditions. Now, is not this a work which we may set about here in
Oxford, with good hope and much pleasure? I think it is so important,
that the first exercise in drawing I shall put before you will be an
outline of a laurel leaf. You will find in the opening sentence of
Lionardo's treatise, our present text-book, that you must not at first
draw from nature, but from a good master's work, "per assuefarsi a buone
membra," to accustom yourselves, that is, to entirely good
representative organic forms. So your first exercise shall be the top of
the laurel sceptre of Apollo, drawn by an Italian engraver of Lionardo's
own time; then we will draw a laurel leaf itself; and little by little,
I think we may both learn ourselves, and teach to many besides, somewhat
more than we know yet, of the wild olives of Greece, and the wild roses
of England.

108. Next, in Geology, which I will take leave to consider as an
entirely separate science from the zoology of the past, which has lately
usurped its name and interest. In geology itself we find the strength of
many able men occupied in debating questions of which there are yet no
data even for the clear statement; and in seizing advanced theoretical
positions on the mere contingency of their being afterwards tenable;
while, in the meantime, no simple person, taking a holiday in
Cumberland, can get an intelligible section of Skiddaw, or a clear
account of the origin of the Skiddaw slates; and while, though half the
educated society of London travel every summer over the great plain of
Switzerland, none know, or care to know, why that is a plain, and the
Alps to the south of it are Alps; and whether or not the gravel of the
one has anything to do with the rocks of the other. And though every
palace in Europe owes part of its decoration to variegated marbles, and
nearly every woman in Europe part of her decoration to pieces of jasper
or chalcedony, I do not think any geologist could at this moment with
authority tell us either how a piece of marble is stained, or what
causes the streaks in a Scotch pebble.

109. Now, as soon as you have obtained the power of drawing, I do not
say a mountain, but even a stone, accurately, every question of this
kind will become to you at once attractive and definite; you will find
that in the grain, the lustre, and the cleavage-lines of the smallest
fragment of rock, there are recorded forces of every order and
magnitude, from those which raise a continent by one volcanic effort, to
those which at every instant are polishing the apparently complete
crystal in its nest, and conducting the apparently motionless metal in
its vein; and that only by the art of your own hand, and fidelity of
sight which it develops, you can obtain true perception of these
invincible and inimitable arts of the earth herself; while the
comparatively slight effort necessary to obtain so much skill as may
serviceably draw mountains in distant effect will be instantly rewarded
by what is almost equivalent to a new sense of the conditions of their

110. And, because it is well at once to know some direction in which our
work may be definite, let me suggest to those of you who may intend
passing their vacation in Switzerland, and who care about mountains,
that if they will first qualify themselves to take angles of position
and elevation with correctness, and to draw outlines with approximate
fidelity, there are a series of problems of the highest interest to be
worked out on the southern edge of the Swiss plain, in the study of the
relations of its molasse beds to the rocks which are characteristically
developed in the chain of the Stockhorn, Beatenberg, Pilate, Mythen
above Schwytz, and High Sentis of Appenzell, the pursuit of which may
lead them into many pleasant, as well as creditably dangerous, walks,
and curious discoveries; and will be good for the discipline of their
fingers in the pencilling of crag form.

111. I wish I could ask you to draw, instead of the Alps, the crests of
Parnassus and Olympus, and the ravines of Delphi and of Tempe. I have
not loved the arts of Greece as others have; yet I love them, and her,
so much, that it is to me simply a standing marvel how scholars can
endure for all these centuries, during which their chief education has
been in the language and policy of Greece, to have only the names of her
hills and rivers upon their lips, and never one line of conception of
them in their mind's sight. Which of us knows what the valley of Sparta
is like, or the great mountain vase of Arcadia? which of us, except in
mere airy syllabling of names, knows aught of "sandy Ladon's lilied
banks, or old Lycæus, or Cyllene hoar"? "You cannot travel in
Greece?"--I know it; nor in Magna Græcia. But, gentlemen of England, you
had better find out why you cannot, and put an end to that horror of
European shame, before you hope to learn Greek art.

112. I scarcely know whether to place among the things useful to art,
or to science, the systematic record, by drawing, of phenomena of the
sky. But I am quite sure that your work cannot in any direction be more
useful to yourselves, than in enabling you to perceive the quite
unparalleled subtilties of colour and inorganic form, which occur on any
ordinarily fine morning or evening horizon; and I will even confess to
you another of my perhaps too sanguine expectations, that in some far
distant time it may come to pass, that young Englishmen and Englishwomen
may think the breath of the morning sky pleasanter than that of
midnight, and its light prettier than that of candles.

113. Lastly, in Zoology. What the Greeks did for the horse, and what, as
far as regards domestic and expressional character, Landseer has done
for the dog and the deer, remains to be done by art for nearly all other
animals of high organisation. There are few birds or beasts that have
not a range of character which, if not equal to that of the horse or
dog, is yet as interesting within narrower limits, and often in
grotesqueness, intensity, or wild and timid pathos, more singular and
mysterious. Whatever love of humour you have,--whatever sympathy with
imperfect, but most subtle, feeling,--whatever perception of sublimity
in conditions of fatal power, may here find fullest occupation: all
these being joined, in the strong animal races, to a variable and
fantastic beauty far beyond anything that merely formative art has yet
conceived. I have placed in your Educational series a wing by Albert
Dürer, which goes as far as art yet has reached in delineation of
plumage; while for the simple action of the pinion it is impossible to
go beyond what has been done already by Titian and Tintoret; but you
cannot so much as once look at the rufflings of the plumes of a pelican
pluming itself after it has been in the water, or carefully draw the
contours of the wing either of a vulture or a common swift, or paint the
rose and vermilion on that of a flamingo, without receiving almost a new
conception of the meaning of form and colour in creation.

114. Lastly. Your work, in all directions I have hitherto indicated,
may be as deliberate as you choose; there is no immediate fear of the
extinction of many species of flowers or animals; and the Alps, and
valley of Sparta, will wait your leisure, I fear too long. But the
feudal and monastic buildings of Europe, and still more the streets of
her ancient cities, are vanishing like dreams: and it is difficult to
imagine the mingled envy and contempt with which future generations will
look back to us, who still possessed such things, yet made no effort to
preserve, and scarcely any to delineate them: for when used as material
of landscape by the modern artist, they are nearly always superficially
or flatteringly represented, without zeal enough to penetrate their
character, or patience enough to render it in modest harmony. As for
places of traditional interest, I do not know an entirely faithful
drawing of any historical site, except one or two studies made by
enthusiastic young painters in Palestine and Egypt: for which, thanks to
them always: but we want work nearer home.

115. Now it is quite probable that some of you, who will not care to go
through the labour necessary to draw flowers or animals, may yet have
pleasure in attaining some moderately accurate skill of sketching
architecture, and greater pleasure still in directing it usefully.
Suppose, for instance, we were to take up the historical scenery in
Carlyle's "Frederick." Too justly the historian accuses the genius of
past art, in that, types of too many such elsewhere, the galleries of
Berlin--"are made up, like other galleries, of goat-footed Pan, Europa's
Bull, Romulus's She-Wolf, and the Correggiosity of Correggio, and
contain, for instance, no portrait of Friedrich the Great,--no likeness
at all, or next to none at all, of the noble series of Human Realities,
or any part of them, who have sprung, not from the idle brains of
dreaming _dilettanti_, but from the head of God Almighty, to make this
poor authentic earth a little memorable for us, and to do a little work
that may be eternal there." So Carlyle tells us--too truly! We cannot
now draw Friedrich for him, but we can draw some of the old castles and
cities that were the cradles of German life--Hohenzollern, Hapsburg,
Marburg, and such others;--we may keep some authentic likeness of these
for the future. Suppose we were to take up that first volume of
"Friedrich," and put outlines to it: shall we begin by looking for Henry
the Fowler's tomb--Carlyle himself asks if he has any--at Quedlinburgh,
and so downwards, rescuing what we can? That would certainly be making
our work of some true use.

116. But I have told you enough, it seems to me, at least to-day, of
this function of art in recording fact; let me now finally, and with all
distinctness possible to me, state to you its main business of all;--its
service in the actual uses of daily life.

You are surprised, perhaps, to hear me call this its main business. That
is indeed so, however. The giving brightness to picture is much, but the
giving brightness to life more. And remember, were it as patterns only,
you cannot, without the realities, have the pictures. _You cannot have a
landscape by Turner, without a country for him to paint; you cannot have
a portrait by Titian, without a man to be portrayed._ I need not prove
that to you, I suppose, in these short terms; but in the outcome I can
get no soul to believe that the beginning of art _is in getting our
country clean, and our people beautiful_. I have been ten years trying
to get this very plain certainty--I do not say believed--but even
thought of, as anything but a monstrous proposition. To get your country
clean, and your people lovely;--I assure you that is a necessary work of
art to begin with! There has indeed been art in countries where people
lived in dirt to serve God, but never in countries where they lived in
dirt to serve the devil. There has indeed been art where the people were
not all lovely--where even their lips were thick--and their skins black,
because the sun had looked upon them; but never in a country where the
people were pale with miserable toil and deadly shade, and where the
lips of youth, instead of being full with blood, were pinched by famine,
or warped with poison. And now, therefore, note this well, the gist of
all these long prefatory talks. I said that the two great moral
instincts were those of Order and Kindness. Now, all the arts are
founded on agriculture by the hand, and on the graces, and kindness of
feeding, and dressing, and lodging your people. Greek art begins in the
gardens of Alcinous--perfect order, leeks in beds, and fountains in
pipes. And Christian art, as it arose out of chivalry, was only possible
so far as chivalry compelled both kings and knights to care for the
right personal training of their people; it perished utterly when those
kings and knights became +dêmoboroi+, devourers of the people.
And it will become possible again only, when, literally, the sword is
beaten into the ploughshare, when your St. George of England shall
justify his name, and Christian art shall be known as its Master was, in
breaking of bread.

117. Now look at the working out of this broad principle in minor
detail; observe how, from highest to lowest, health of art has first
depended on reference to industrial use. There is first the need of cup
and platter, especially of cup; for you can put your meat on the
Harpies',[10] or on any other, tables; but you must have your cup to
drink from. And to hold it conveniently, you must put a handle to it;
and to fill it when it is empty you must have a large pitcher of some
sort; and to carry the pitcher you may most advisably have two handles.
Modify the forms of these needful possessions according to the various
requirements of drinking largely and drinking delicately; of pouring
easily out, or of keeping for years the perfume in; of storing in
cellars, or bearing from fountains; of sacrificial libation, of
Panathenaic treasure of oil, and sepulchral treasure of ashes,--and you
have a resultant series of beautiful form and decoration, from the rude
amphora of red earth up to Cellini's vases of gems and crystal, in which
series, but especially in the more simple conditions of it, are
developed the most beautiful lines and most perfect types of severe
composition which have yet been attained by art.

[Footnote 10: Virg., _Æn._, iii. 209 _seqq._]

118. But again, that you may fill your cup with pure water, you must go
to the well or spring; you need a fence round the well; you need some
tube or trough, or other means of confining the stream at the spring.
For the conveyance of the current to any distance you must build either
enclosed or open aqueduct; and in the hot square of the city where you
set it free, you find it good for health and pleasantness to let it leap
into a fountain. On these several needs you have a school of sculpture
founded; in the decoration of the walls of wells in level countries, and
of the sources of springs in mountainous ones, and chiefly of all, where
the women of household or market meet at the city fountain.

There is, however, a farther reason for the use of art here than in any
other material service, so far as we may, by art, express our reverence
or thankfulness. Whenever a nation is in its right mind, it always has a
deep sense of divinity in the gift of rain from heaven, filling its
heart with food and gladness; and all the more when that gift becomes
gentle and perennial in the flowing of springs. It literally is not
possible that any fruitful power of the Muses should be put forth upon a
people which disdains their Helicon; still less is it possible that any
Christian nation should grow up "tanquam lignum quod plantatum est secus
decursus aquarum," which cannot recognise the lesson meant in their
being told of the places where Rebekah was met;--where Rachel,--where
Zipporah,--and she who was asked for water under Mount Grerizim by a
Stranger, weary, who had nothing to draw with.

119. And truly, when our mountain springs are set apart in vale or
craggy glen, or glade of wood green through the drought of summer, far
from cities, then it is best to let them stay in their own happy peace;
but if near towns, and liable therefore to be defiled by common usage,
we could not use the loveliest art more worthily than by sheltering the
spring and its first pools with precious marbles: nor ought anything to
be esteemed more important, as a means of healthy education, than the
care to keep the streams of it afterwards, to as great a distance as
possible, pure, full of fish, and easily accessible to children. There
used to be, thirty years ago, a little rivulet of the Wandel, about an
inch deep, which ran over the carriage-road and under a foot-bridge just
under the last chalk hill near Croydon. Alas! men came and went; and it
did _not_ go on for ever. It has long since been bricked over by the
parish authorities; but there was more education in that stream with its
minnows than you could get out of a thousand pounds spent yearly in the
parish schools, even though you were to spend every farthing of it in
teaching the nature of oxygen and hydrogen, and the names, and rate per
minute, of all the rivers in Asia and America.

120. Well, the gist of this matter lies here then. Suppose we want a
school of pottery again in England, all we poor artists are ready to do
the best we can, to show you how pretty a line may be that is twisted
first to one side, and then to the other; and how a plain household-blue
will make a pattern on white; and how ideal art may be got out of the
spaniel's colours of black and tan. But I tell you beforehand, all that
we can do will be utterly useless, unless you teach your peasant to say
grace, not only before meat, but before drink; and having provided him
with Greek cups and platters, provide him also with something that is
not poisoned to put into them.

121. There cannot be any need that I should trace for you the conditions
of art that are directly founded on serviceableness of dress, and of
armour; but it is my duty to affirm to you, in the most positive manner,
that after recovering, for the poor, wholesomeness of food, your next
step towards founding schools of art in England must be in recovering,
for the poor, decency and wholesomeness of dress; thoroughly good in
substance, fitted for their daily work, becoming to their rank in life,
and worn with order and dignity. And this order and dignity must be
taught them by the women of the upper and middle classes, whose minds
can be in nothing right, as long as they are so wrong in this matter as
to endure the squalor of the poor, while they themselves dress gaily.
And on the proper pride and comfort of both poor and rich in dress, must
be founded the true arts of dress; carried on by masters of manufacture
no less careful of the perfectness and beauty of their tissues, and of
all that in substance and design can be bestowed upon them, than ever
the armourers of Milan and Damascus were careful of their steel.

122. Then, in the third place, having recovered some wholesome habits of
life as to food and dress, we must recover them as to lodging. I said
just now that the best architecture was but a glorified roof. Think of
it. The dome of the Vatican, the porches of Rheims or Chartres, the
vaults and arches of their aisles, the canopy of the tomb, and the spire
of the belfry, are all forms resulting from the mere requirement that a
certain space shall be strongly covered from heat and rain. More than
that--as I have tried all through "The Stories of Venice" to show,--the
lovely forms of these were every one of them developed in civil and
domestic building, and only after their invention, employed
ecclesiastically on the grandest scale. I think you cannot but have
noticed here in Oxford, as elsewhere, that our modern architects never
seem to know what to do with their roofs. Be assured, until the roofs
are right, nothing else will be; and there are just two ways of keeping
them right. Never build them of iron, but only of wood or stone; and
secondly, take care that in every town the little roofs are built before
the large ones, and that everybody who wants one has got one. And we
must try also to make everybody want one. That is to say, at some not
very advanced period of life, men should desire to have a home, which
they do not wish to quit any more, suited to their habits of life, and
likely to be more and more suitable to them until their death. And men
must desire to have these their dwelling-places built as strongly as
possible, and furnished and decorated daintily, and set in pleasant
places, in bright light, and good air, being able to choose for
themselves that at least as well as swallows. And when the houses are
grouped together in cities, men must have so much civic fellowship as to
subject their architecture to a common law, and so much civic pride as
to desire that the whole gathered group of human dwellings should be a
lovely thing, not a frightful one, on the face of the earth. Not many
weeks ago an English clergyman,[11] a master of this University, a man
not given to sentiment, but of middle age, and great practical sense,
told me, by accident, and wholly without reference to the subject now
before us, that he never could enter London from his country parsonage
but with closed eyes, lest the sight of the blocks of houses which the
railroad intersected in the suburbs should unfit him, by the horror of
it, for his day's work.

[Footnote 11: Osborne Gordon.]

123. Now, it is not possible--and I repeat to you, only in more
deliberate assertion, what I wrote just twenty-two years ago in the last
chapter of the "Seven Lamps of Architecture"--it is not possible to have
any right morality, happiness, or art, in any country where the cities
are thus built, or thus, let me rather say, clotted and coagulated;
spots of a dreadful mildew, spreading by patches and blotches over the
country they consume. You must have lovely cities, crystallised, not
coagulated, into form; limited in size, and not casting out the scum and
scurf of them into an encircling eruption of shame, but girded each with
its sacred pomoerium, and with garlands of gardens full of blossoming
trees and softly guided streams.

That is impossible, you say! it may be so. I have nothing to do with its
possibility, but only with its indispensability. More than that must be
possible, however, before you can have a school of art; namely, that you
find places elsewhere than in England, or at least in otherwise
unserviceable parts of England, for the establishment of manufactories
needing the help of fire, that is to say, of all the +technai
banausikai+ and +epirrêtoi+, of which it was long ago known to be
the constant nature that "+ascholias malista echousi kai philôn
kai poleôs sunepimeleisthai+," and to reduce such manufactures to their
lowest limit, so that nothing may ever be made of iron that can as
effectually be made of wood or stone; and nothing moved by steam that
can be as effectually moved by natural forces. And observe, that for all
mechanical effort required in social life and in cities, water power is
infinitely more than enough; for anchored mills on the large rivers, and
mills moved by sluices from reservoirs filled by the tide, will give you
command of any quantity of constant motive power you need.

Agriculture by the hand, then, and absolute refusal or banishment of
unnecessary igneous force, are the first conditions of a school of art
in any country. And until you do this, be it soon or late, things will
continue in that triumphant state to which, for want of finer art, your
mechanism has brought them;--that, though England is deafened with
spinning wheels, her people have not clothes--though she is black with
digging of fuel, they die of cold--and though she has sold her soul for
gain, they die of hunger. Stay in that triumph, if you choose; but be
assured of this, it is not one which the fine arts will ever share with

124. Now, I have given you my message, containing, as I know, offence
enough, and itself, it may seem to many, unnecessary enough. But just in
proportion to its apparent non-necessity, and to its certain offence,
was its real need, and my real duty to speak it. The study of the fine
arts could not be rightly associated with the grave work of English
Universities, without due and clear protest against the misdirection of
national energy, which for the present renders all good results of such
study on a great scale, impossible. I can easily teach you, as any other
moderately good draughtsman could, how to hold your pencils, and how to
lay your colours; but it is little use my doing that, while the nation
is spending millions of money in the destruction of all that pencil or
colour has to represent, and in the promotion of false forms of art,
which are only the costliest and the least enjoyable of follies. And
therefore these are the things that I have first and last to tell you in
this place;--that the fine arts are not to be learned by Locomotion, but
by making the homes we live in lovely, and by staying in them;--that
the fine arts are not to be learned by Competition, but by doing our
quiet best in our own way;--that the fine arts are not to be learned by
Exhibition, but by doing what is right, and making what is honest,
whether it be exhibited or not;--and, for the sum of all, that men must
paint and build neither for pride nor for money, but for love; for love
of their art, for love of their neighbour, and whatever better love may
be than these, founded on these. I know that I gave some pain, which I
was most unwilling to give, in speaking of the possible abuses of
religious art; but there can be no danger of any, so long as we remember
that God inhabits cottages as well as churches, and ought to be well
lodged there also. Begin with wooden floors; the tessellated ones will
take care of themselves; begin with thatching roofs, and you shall end
by splendidly vaulting them; begin by taking care that no old eyes fail
over their Bibles, nor young ones over their needles, for want of
rushlight, and then you may have whatever true good is to be got out of
coloured glass or wax candles. And in thus putting the arts to universal
use, you will find also their universal inspiration, their universal
benediction. I told you there was no evidence of a _special_ Divineness
in any application of them; that they were always equally human and
equally Divine; and in closing this inaugural series of lectures, into
which I have endeavoured to compress the principles that are to be the
foundations of your future work, it is my last duty to say some positive
words as to the Divinity of all art, when it is truly fair, or truly

125. Every seventh day, if not oftener, the greater number of
well-meaning persons in England thankfully receive from their teachers a
benediction, couched in those terms:--"The grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and the Love of God, and the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be
with you." Now I do not know precisely what sense is attached in the
English public mind to those expressions. But what I have to tell you
positively is that the three things do actually exist, and can be known
if you care to know them, and possessed if you care to possess them;
and that another thing exists, besides these, of which we already know
too much.

First, by simply obeying the orders of the Founder of your religion, all
grace, graciousness, or beauty and favour of gentle life, will be given
to you in mind and body, in work and in rest. The Grace of Christ
exists, and can be had if you will. Secondly, as you know more and more
of the created world, you will find that the true will of its Maker is
that its creatures should be happy;--that He has made everything
beautiful in its time and its place, and that it is chiefly by the fault
of men, when they are allowed the liberty of thwarting His laws, that
Creation groans or travails in pain. The Love of God exists, and you may
see it, and live in it if you will. Lastly, a Spirit does actually exist
which teaches the ant her path, the bird her building, and men, in an
instinctive and marvellous way, whatever lovely arts and noble deeds are
possible to them. Without it you can do no good thing. To the grief of
it you can do many bad ones. In the possession of it is your peace and
your power.

And there is a fourth thing, of which we already know too much. There is
an evil spirit whose dominion is in blindness and in cowardice, as the
dominion of the Spirit of wisdom is in clear sight and in courage.

And this blind and cowardly spirit is for ever telling you that evil
things are pardonable, and you shall not die for them, and that good
things are impossible, and you need not live for them; and that gospel
of his is now the loudest that is preached in your Saxon tongue. You
will find some day, to your cost, if you believe the first part of it,
that it is not true; but you may never, if you believe the second part
of it, find, to your gain, that also, untrue; and therefore I pray you
with all earnestness to prove, and know within your hearts, that all
things lovely and righteous are possible for those who believe in their
possibility, and who determine that, for their part, they will make
every day's work contribute to them. Let every dawn of morning be to you
as the beginning of life, and every setting sun be to you as its
close:--then let every one of these short lives leave its sure record of
some kindly thing done for others--some goodly strength or knowledge
gained for yourselves; so, from day to day, and strength to strength,
you shall build up indeed, by Art, by Thought, and by Just Will, an
Ecclesia of England, of which it shall not be said, "See what manner of
stones are here," but, "See what manner of men."



126. You will, I doubt not, willingly permit me to begin your lessons in
real practice of art in the words of the greatest of English painters:
one also, than whom there is indeed no greater, among those of any
nation, or any time,--our own gentle Reynolds.

He says in his first discourse:--"The Directors" (of the Academy) "ought
more particularly to watch over the genius of those students, who being
more advanced, are arrived at that critical period of study, on the nice
management of which their future turn of taste depends. At that age it
is natural for them to be more captivated with what is brilliant, than
with what is solid, and to prefer splendid negligence to painful and
humiliating exactness."

"A facility in composing, a lively and, what is called, a 'masterly'
handling of the chalk or pencil, are, it must be confessed, captivating
qualities to young minds, and become of course the objects of their
ambition. They endeavour to imitate these dazzling excellences, which
they will find no great labour in attaining. After much time spent in
these frivolous pursuits, the difficulty will be to retreat; but it will
then be too late; and there is scarce an instance of return to
scrupulous labour, after the mind has been debauched and deceived by
this fallacious mastery."

127. I read you these words, chiefly that Sir Joshua, who founded, as
first President, the Academical schools of English painting, in these
well-known discourses, may also begin, as he has truest right to do, our
system of instruction in this University. But secondly, I read them that
I may press on your attention these singular words, "painful and
humiliating exactness." Singular, as expressing the first conditions of
the study required from his pupils by the master, who, of all men except
Velasquez, seems to have painted with the greatest ease. It is true that
he asks this pain, this humiliation, only from youths who intend to
follow the profession of artists. But if you wish yourselves to know
anything of the practice of art, you must not suppose that because your
study will be more desultory than that of Academy students, it may
therefore be less accurate. The shorter the time you have to give, the
more careful you should be to spend it profitably; and I would not wish
you to devote one hour to the practice of drawing, unless you are
resolved to be informed in it of all that in an hour can be taught.

128. I speak of the practice of _drawing_ only; though elementary study
of modelling may perhaps some day be advisably connected with it; but I
do not wish to disturb, or amuse, you with a formal statement of the
manifold expectations I have formed respecting your future work. You
will not, I am sure, imagine that I have begun without a plan, nor blame
my reticence as to the parts of it which cannot yet be put into
execution, and which there may occur reason afterwards to modify. My
first task must unquestionably be to lay before you right and simple
methods of drawing and colouring.

I use the word "colouring" without reference to any particular vehicle
of colour, for the laws of good painting are the same, whatever liquid
is employed to dissolve the pigments. But the technical management of
oil is more difficult than that of water-colour, and the impossibility
of using it with safety among books or prints, and its unavailableness
for note-book sketches and memoranda, are sufficient reasons for not
introducing it in a course of practice intended chiefly for students of
literature. On the contrary, in the exercises of artists, oil should be
the vehicle of colour employed from the first. The extended practice of
water-colour painting, as a separate skill, is in every way harmful to
the arts: its pleasant slightness and plausible dexterity divert the
genius of the painter from its proper aims, and withdraw the attention
of the public from excellence of higher claim; nor ought any man, who
has the consciousness of ability for good work, to be ignorant of, or
indolent in employing, the methods of making its results permanent as
long as the laws of Nature allow. It is surely a severe lesson to us in
this matter, that the best works of Turner could not be shown to the
public for six months without being destroyed,--and that his most
ambitious ones for the most part perished, even before they could be
shown. I will break through my law of reticence, however, so far as to
tell you that I have hope of one day interesting you greatly (with the
help of the Florentine masters), in the study of the arts of moulding
and painting porcelain; and to induce some of you to use your future
power of patronage in encouraging the various branches of this art, and
turning the attention of the workmen of Italy from the vulgar tricks of
minute and perishable mosaic to the exquisite subtilties of form and
colour possible in the perfectly ductile, afterwards unalterable clay.
And one of the ultimate results of such craftsmanship might be the
production of pictures as brilliant as painted glass,--as delicate as
the most subtle water-colours, and more permanent than the Pyramids.

129. And now to begin our own work. In order that we may know how
rightly to learn to draw and to paint, it will be necessary, will it
not, that we know first what we are to aim at doing;--what kind of
representation of nature is best?

I will tell you in the words of Lionardo. "That is the most praiseworthy
painting which has most conformity with the thing represented," "quella
pittura e piu laudabile, la quale ha piu conformita con la cosa mitata,"
(ch. 276). In plain terms, "the painting which is likest nature is the
best." And you will find by referring to the preceding chapter, "come lo
specchio e maestro de' pittori," how absolutely Lionardo means what he
says. Let the living thing, (he tells us,) be reflected in a mirror,
then put your picture beside the reflection, and match the one with the
other. And indeed, the very best painting is unquestionably so like the
mirrored truth, that all the world admits its excellence. Entirely
first-rate work is so quiet and natural that there can be no dispute
over it; you may not particularly admire it, but you will find no fault
with it. Second-rate painting pleases one person much, and displeases
another; but first-rate painting pleases all a little, and intensely
pleases those who can recognise its unostentatious skill.

130. This, then, is what we have first got to do--to make our drawing
look as like the thing we have to draw as we can.

Now, all objects are seen by the eye as patches of colour of a certain
shape, with gradations of colour within them. And, unless their colours
be actually luminous, as those of the sun, or of fire, these patches of
different hues are sufficiently imitable, except so far as they are seen
stereoscopically. You will find Lionardo again and again insisting on
the stereoscopic power of the double sight: but do not let that trouble
you; you can only paint what you can see from one point of sight, but
that is quite enough. So seen, then, all objects appear to the human eye
simply as masses of colour of variable depth, texture, and outline. The
outline of any object is the limit of its mass, as relieved against
another mass. Take a crocus, and lay it on a green cloth. You will see
it detach itself as a mere space of yellow from the green behind it, as
it does from the grass. Hold it up against the window--you will see it
detach itself as a dark space against the white or blue behind it. In
either case its outline is the limit of the space of light or dark
colour by which it expresses itself to your sight. That outline is
therefore infinitely subtle--not even a line, but the place of a line,
and that, also, made soft by texture. In the finest painting it is
therefore slightly softened; but it is necessary to be able to draw it
with absolute sharpness and precision. The art of doing this is to be
obtained by drawing it as an actual line, which art is to be the subject
of our immediate enquiry; but I must first lay the divisions of the
entire subject completely before you.

131. I have said that all objects detach themselves as masses of
colour. Usually, light and shade are thought of as separate from colour;
but the fact is that all nature is seen as a mosaic composed of gradated
portions of different colours, dark or light. There is no difference in
the quality of these colours, except as affected by texture. You will
constantly hear lights and shades spoken of as if these were different
in their nature, and to be painted in different ways. But every light is
a shadow compared to higher lights, till we reach the brightness of the
sun; and every shadow is a light compared to lower shadows, till we
reach the darkness of night.

Every colour used in painting, except pure white and black, is therefore
a light and shade at the same time. It is a light with reference to all
below it, and a shade with reference to all above it.

132. The solid forms of an object, that is to say, the projections or
recessions of its surface within the outline, are, for the most part,
rendered visible by variations in the intensity or quantity of light
falling on them. The study of the relations between the quantities of
this light, irrespectively of its colour, is the second division of the
regulated science of painting.

133. Finally, the qualities and relations of natural colours, the means
of imitating them, and the laws by which they become separately
beautiful, and in association harmonious, are the subjects of the third
and final division of the painter's study. I shall endeavour at once to
state to you what is most immediately desirable for you to know on each
of these topics, in this and the two following lectures.

134. What we have to do, then, from beginning to end, is, I repeat once
more, simply to draw spaces of their true shape, and to fill them with
colours which shall match their colours; quite a simple thing in the
definition of it, not quite so easy in the doing of it.

But it is something to get this simple definition; and I wish you to
notice that the terms of it are complete, though I do not introduce the
term "light," or "shadow." Painters who have no eye for colour have
greatly confused and falsified the practice of art by the theory that
shadow is an absence of colour. Shadow is, on the contrary, necessary to
the full presence of colour; for every colour is a diminished quantity
or energy of light; and, practically, it follows from what I have just
told you--(that every light in painting is a shadow to higher lights,
and every shadow a light to lower shadows)--that also every _colour_ in
painting must be a shadow to some brighter colour, and a light to some
darker one--all the while being a positive colour itself. And the great
splendour of the Venetian school arises from their having seen and held
from the beginning this great fact--that shadow is as much colour as
light, often much more. In Titian's fullest red the lights are pale
rose-colour, passing into white--the shadows warm deep crimson. In
Veronese's most splendid orange, the lights are pale, the shadows crocus
colour; and so on. In nature, dark sides if seen by reflected lights,
are almost always fuller or warmer in colour than the lights; and the
practice of the Bolognese and Roman schools, in drawing their shadows
always dark and cold, is false from the beginning, and renders perfect
painting for ever impossible in those schools, and to all who follow

135. Every visible space, then, be it dark or light, is a space of
colour of some kind, or of black or white. And you have to enclose it
with a true outline, and to paint it with its true colour.

But before considering how we are to draw this enclosing line, I must
state to you something about the use of lines in general, by different

I said just now that there was no difference between the masses of
colour of which all visible nature is composed, except in _texture_. Now
textures are principally of three kinds:--

     (1) Lustrous, as of water and glass.
     (2) Bloomy, or velvety, as of a rose-leaf or peach.
     (3) Linear, produced by filaments or threads as in feathers, fur,
         hair, and woven or reticulated tissues.

All these three sources of pleasure to the eye in texture are united in
the best ornamental work. A fine picture by Fra Angelico, or a fine
illuminated page of missal, has large spaces of gold, partly burnished
and lustrous, partly dead;--some of it chased and enriched with linear
texture, and mingled with imposed or inlaid colours, soft in bloom like
that of the rose-leaf. But many schools of art affect for the most part
one kind of texture only, and a vast quantity of the art of all ages
depends for great part of its power on texture produced by multitudinous
lines. Thus, wood engraving, line engraving properly so called, and
countless varieties of sculpture, metal work, and textile fabric, depend
for great part of the effect, for the mystery, softness, and clearness
of their colours, or shades, on modification of the surfaces by lines or
threads. Even in advanced oil painting, the work often depends for some
part of its effect on the texture of the canvas.

136. Again, the arts of etching and mezzotint engraving depend
principally for their effect on the velvety, or bloomy texture of their
darkness, and the best of all painting is the fresco work of great
colourists, in which the colours are what is usually called dead; but
they are anything but dead, they glow with the luminous bloom of life.
The frescoes of Correggio, when not repainted, are supreme in this

137. While, however, in all periods of art these different textures are
thus used in various styles, and for various purposes, you will find
that there is a broad historical division of schools, which will
materially assist you in understanding them. The earliest art in most
countries is linear, consisting of interwoven, or richly spiral and
otherwise involved arrangements of sculptured or painted lines, on
stone, wood, metal or clay. It is generally characteristic of savage
life, and of feverish energy of imagination. I shall examine these
schools with you hereafter, under the general head of the "Schools of

[Footnote 12: See "Ariadne Florentina," § 5.]

Secondly, even in the earliest periods, among powerful nations, this
linear decoration is more or less filled with chequered or barred shade,
and begins at once to represent animal or floral form, by filling its
outlines with flat shadow, or with flat colour. And here we instantly
find two great divisions of temper and thought. The Greeks look upon all
colour first as light; they are, as compared with other races,
insensitive to hue, exquisitely sensitive to phenomena of light. And
their linear school passes into one of flat masses of light and
darkness, represented in the main by four tints,--white, black, and two
reds, one brick colour, more or less vivid, the other dark purple; these
two standing mentally their favourite +porphyreos+ colour, in its
light and dark powers. On the other hand, many of the Northern nations
are at first entirely insensible to light and shade, but exquisitely
sensitive to colour, and their linear decoration is filled with flat
tints, infinitely varied, but with no expression of light and shade.
Both these schools have a limited but absolute perfection of their own,
and their peculiar successes can in no wise be imitated, except by the
strictest observance of the same limitations.

138. You have then, Line for the earliest art, branching into--

     (1) Greek, Line with Light.
     (2) Gothic, Line with Colour.

Now, as art completes itself, each of these schools retain their
separate characters, but they cease to depend on lines, and learn to
represent masses instead, becoming more refined at the same time in all
modes of perception and execution.

And thus there arise the two vast mediæval schools; one of flat and
infinitely varied colour, with exquisite character and sentiment added,
in the forms represented; but little perception of shadow. The other, of
light and shade, with exquisite drawing of solid form, and little
perception of colour: sometimes as little of sentiment. Of these, the
school of flat colour is the more vital one; it is always natural and
simple, if not great;--and when it is great, it is very great.

The school of light and shade associates itself with that of engraving;
it is essentially an academical school, broadly dividing light from
darkness, and begins by assuming that the light side of all objects
shall be represented by white, and the extreme shadow by black. On this
conventional principle it reaches a limited excellence of its own, in
which the best existing types of engraving are executed, and ultimately,
the most regular expressions of organic form in painting.

Then, lastly,--the schools of colour advance steadily, till they adopt
from those of light and shade whatever is compatible with their own
power,--and then you have perfect art, represented centrally by that of
the great Venetians.

The schools of light and shade, on the other hand, are partly, in their
academical formulas, too haughty, and partly, in their narrowness of
imagination, too weak, to learn much from the schools of colour; and
pass into a state of decadence, consisting partly in proud endeavours to
give painting the qualities of sculpture, and partly in the pursuit of
effects of light and shade, carried at last to extreme sensational
subtlety by the Dutch school. In their fall, they drag the schools of
colour down with them; and the recent history of art is one of confused
effort to find lost roads, and resume allegiance to violated principles.

139. That, briefly, is the map of the great schools, easily remembered
in this hexagonal form:--

                             Early schools.

           2.                                      3.
     LINE AND LIGHT.                          LINE AND COLOUR.
       Greek clay.                              Gothic glass.

           4.                                      5.
     MASS AND LIGHT.                       MASS AND COLOUR.
 (Represented by Lionardo,             (Represented by Giorgione,
    and his schools.)                         and his schools.)

                         MASS, LIGHT, AND COLOUR.
                          (Represented by Titian,
                              and his schools.)

And I wish you with your own eyes and fingers to trace, and in your own
progress follow, the method of advance exemplified by these great
schools. I wish you to begin by getting command of line, that is to say,
by learning to draw a steady line, limiting with absolute correctness
the form or space you intend it to limit; to proceed by getting command
over flat tints, so that you may be able to fill the spaces you have
enclosed, evenly, either with shade or colour according to the school
you adopt; and finally to obtain the power of adding such fineness of
gradation within the masses, as shall express their roundings, and their
characters of texture.

140. Those who are familiar with the methods of existing schools must be
aware that I thus nearly invert their practice of teaching. Students at
present learn to draw details first, and to colour and mass them
afterwards. I shall endeavour to teach you to arrange broad masses and
colours first; and you shall put the details into them afterwards. I
have several reasons for this audacity, of which you may justly require
me to state the principal ones. The first is that, as I have shown you,
this method I wish you to follow, is the natural one. All great artist
nations _have_ actually learned to work in this way, and I believe it
therefore the right, as the hitherto successful one. Secondly, you will
find it less irksome than the reverse method, and more definite. When a
beginner is set at once to draw details, and make finished studies in
light and shade, no master can correct his innumerable errors, or rescue
him out of his endless difficulties. But in the natural method, he can
correct, if he will, his own errors. You will have positive lines to
draw, presenting no more difficulty, except in requiring greater
steadiness of hand, than the outlines of a map. They will be generally
sweeping and simple, instead of being jagged into promontories and bays;
but assuredly, they may be drawn rightly (with patience), and their
rightness tested with mathematical accuracy. You have only to follow
your own line with tracing paper, and apply it to your own copy. If they
do not correspond, you are wrong, and you need no master to show you
where. Again; in washing in a flat tone of colour or shade, you can
always see yourself if it is flat, and kept well within the edges; and
you can set a piece of your colour side by side with that of the copy;
if it does not match, you are wrong; and, again, you need no one to tell
you so, if your eye for colour is true. It happens, indeed, more
frequently than would be supposed, that there is real want of power in
the eye to distinguish colours; and this I even suspect to be a
condition which has been sometimes attendant on high degrees of cerebral
sensitiveness in other directions; but such want of faculty would be
detected in your first two or three exercises by this simple method,
while, otherwise, you might go on for years endeavouring to colour from
nature in vain. Lastly, and this is a very weighty collateral reason,
such a method enables me to show you many things, besides the art of
drawing. Every exercise that I prepare for you will be either a portion
of some important example of ancient art, or of some natural object.
However rudely or unsuccessfully you may draw it, (though I anticipate
from you neither want of care nor success,) you will nevertheless have
learned what no words could have so forcibly or completely taught you,
either respecting early art or organic structure; and I am thus certain
that not a moment you spend attentively will be altogether wasted, and
that, generally, you will be twice gainers by every effort.

141. There is, however, yet another point in which I think a change of
existing methods will be advisable. You have here in Oxford one of the
finest collections in Europe of drawings in pen, and chalk, by Michael
Angelo and Raphael. Of the whole number, you cannot but have noticed
that not one is weak or student-like--all are evidently master's work.

You may look the galleries of Europe through, and so far as I know, or
as it is possible to make with safety any so wide generalization, you
will not find in them a childish or feeble drawing, by these, or by any
other great master.

And farther:--by the greatest men--by Titian, Velasquez, or
Veronese--you will hardly find an authentic drawing, at all. For the
fact is, that while we moderns have always learned, or tried to learn,
to paint by drawing, the ancients learned to draw by painting--or by
engraving, more difficult still. The brush was put into their hands when
they were children, and they were forced to draw with that, until, if
they used the pen or crayon, they used it either with the lightness of a
brush or the decision of a graver. Michael Angelo uses his pen like a
chisel; but all of them seem to use it only when they are in the height
of their power, and then for rapid notation of thought or for study of
models; but never as a practice helping them to paint. Probably
exercises of the severest kind were gone through in minute drawing by
the apprentices of the goldsmiths, of which we hear and know little, and
which were entirely matters of course. To these, and to the
exquisiteness of care and touch developed in working precious metals,
may probably be attributed the final triumph of Italian sculpture.
Michael Angelo, when a boy, is said to have copied engravings by
Schöngauer and others, with his pen, in facsimile so true that he could
pass his drawings as the originals. But I should only discourage you
from all farther attempts in art, if I asked you to imitate any of these
accomplished drawings of the gem-artificers. You have, fortunately, a
most interesting collection of them already in your galleries, and may
try your hands on them if you will. But I desire rather that you should
attempt nothing except what can by determination be absolutely
accomplished, and be known and felt by you to be accomplished when it is
so. Now, therefore, I am going at once to comply with that popular
instinct which, I hope, so far as you care for drawing at all, you are
still boys enough to feel, the desire to paint. Paint you shall; but
remember, I understand by painting what you will not find easy. Paint
you shall; but daub or blot you shall not: and there will be even more
care required, though care of a pleasanter kind, to follow the lines
traced for you with the point of the brush than if they had been drawn
with that of a crayon. But from the very beginning (though carrying on
at the same time an incidental practice with crayon and lead pencil),
you shall try to draw a line of absolute correctness with the point, not
of pen or crayon, but of the brush, as Apelles did, and as all coloured
lines are drawn on Greek vases. A line of absolute correctness, observe.
I do not care how slowly you do it, or with how many alterations,
junctions, or re-touchings; the one thing I ask of you is, that the line
shall be right, and right by measurement, to the same minuteness which
you would have to give in a Government chart to the map of a dangerous

142. This question of measurement is, as you are probably aware, one
much vexed in art schools; but it is determined indisputably by the very
first words written by Lionardo: "Il giovane deve prima imparare
prospettiva, _per le misure d'ogni cosa_."

Without absolute precision of measurement, it is certainly impossible
for you to learn perspective rightly; and, as far as I can judge,
impossible to learn anything else rightly. And in my past experience of
teaching, I have found that such precision is of all things the most
difficult to enforce on the pupils. It is easy to persuade to diligence,
or provoke to enthusiasm; but I have found it hitherto impossible to
humiliate one clever student into perfect accuracy.

It is, therefore, necessary, in beginning a system of drawing for the
University, that no opening should be left for failure in this essential
matter. I hope you will trust the words of the most accomplished
draughtsman of Italy, and the painter of the great sacred picture which,
perhaps beyond all others, has influenced the mind of Europe, when he
tells you that your first duty is "to learn perspective by the
_measures_ of everything." For perspective, I will undertake that it
shall be made, practically, quite easy to you; if you care to master the
mathematics of it, they are carried as far as is necessary for you in my
treatise written in 1859, of which copies shall be placed at your
disposal in your working room. But the habit and dexterity of
_measurement_ you must acquire at once, and that with engineer's
accuracy. I hope that in our now gradually developing system of
education, elementary architectural or military drawing will be required
at all public schools; so that when youths come to the University, it
may be no more necessary for them to pass through the preliminary
exercises of perspective than of grammar: for the present, I will place
in your series examples simple and severe enough for all necessary

143. And while you are learning to measure, and to draw, and lay flat
tints, with the brush, you must also get easy command of the pen; for
that is not only the great instrument for the first sketching, but its
right use is the foundation of the art of illumination. In nothing is
fine art more directly founded on utility than in the close dependence
of decorative illumination on good writing. Perfect illumination is only
writing made lovely; the moment it passes into picture-making it has
lost its dignity and function. For pictures, small or great, if
beautiful, ought not to be painted on leaves of books, to be worn with
service; and pictures, small or great, not beautiful, should be painted
nowhere. But to make writing _itself_ beautiful,--to make the sweep of
the pen lovely,--is the true art of illumination; and I particularly
wish you to note this, because it happens continually that young girls
who are incapable of tracing a single curve with steadiness, much more
of delineating any ornamental or organic form with correctness, think
that work, which would be intolerable in ordinary drawing, becomes
tolerable when it is employed for the decoration of texts; and thus they
render all healthy progress impossible, by protecting themselves in
inefficiency under the shield of good motive. Whereas the right way of
setting to work is to make themselves first mistresses of the art of
writing beautifully; and then to apply that art in its proper degrees of
development to whatever they desire permanently to write. And it is
indeed a much more truly religious duty for girls to acquire a habit of
deliberate, legible, and lovely penmanship in their daily use of the
pen, than to illuminate any quantity of texts. Having done so, they may
next discipline their hands into the control of lines of any length,
and, finally, add the beauty of colour and form to the flowing of these
perfect lines. But it is only after years of practice that they will be
able to illuminate noble words rightly for the eyes, as it is only after
years of practice that they can make them melodious rightly, with the

144. I shall not attempt, in this lecture, to give you any account of
the use of the pen as a drawing instrument. That use is connected in
many ways with principles both of shading and of engraving, hereafter to
be examined at length. But I may generally state to you that its best
employment is in giving determination to the forms in drawings washed
with neutral tint; and that, in this use of it, Holbein is quite without
a rival. I have therefore placed many examples of his work among your
copies. It is employed for rapid study by Raphael and other masters of
delineation, who, in such cases, give with it also partial indications
of shadow; but it is not a proper instrument for shading, when drawings
are intended to be deliberate and complete, nor do the great masters so
employ it. Its virtue is the power of producing a perfectly delicate,
equal, and decisive line with great rapidity; and the temptation allied
with that virtue is the licentious haste, and chance-swept, instead of
strictly-commanded, curvature. In the hands of very great painters it
obtains, like the etching needle, qualities of exquisite charm in this
free use; but all attempts at imitation of these confused and suggestive
sketches must be absolutely denied to yourselves while students. You may
fancy you have produced something like them with little trouble; but, be
assured, it is in reality as unlike them as nonsense is unlike sense;
and that, if you persist in such work, you will not only prevent your
own executive progress, but you will never understand in all your lives
what good painting means. Whenever you take a pen in your hand, if you
cannot count every line you lay with it, and say why you make it so long
and no longer, and why you drew it in that direction and no other, your
work is bad. The only man who can put his pen to full speed, and yet
retain command over every separate line of it, is Dürer. He has done
this in the illustrations of a missal preserved at Munich, which have
been fairly facsimiled; and of these I have placed several in your
copying series, with some of Turner's landscape etchings, and other
examples of deliberate pen work, such as will advantage you in early
study. The proper use of them you will find explained in the catalogue.

145. And, now, but one word more to-day. Do not impute to me the
impertinence of setting before you what is new in this system of
practice as being certainly the best method. No English artists are yet
agreed entirely on early methods; and even Reynolds expresses with some
hesitation his conviction of the expediency of learning to draw with the
brush. But this method that I show you rests in all essential points on
his authority, on Lionardo's, or on the evident as well as recorded
practice of the most splendid Greek and Italian draughtsmen; and you may
be assured it will lead you, however slowly, to great and certain skill.
To what degree of skill, must depend greatly on yourselves; but I know
that in practice of this kind you cannot spend an hour without
definitely gaining, both in true knowledge of art, and in useful power
of hand; and for what may appear in it too difficult, I must shelter or
support myself, as in beginning, so in closing this first lecture on
practice, by the words of Reynolds: "The impetuosity of youth is
disgusted at the slow approaches of a regular siege, and desires, from
mere impatience of labour, to take the citadel by storm. They must
therefore be told again and again that labour is the only price of solid
fame; and that, whatever their force of genius may be, there is no easy
method of becoming a good painter."



146. The plan of the divisions of art-schools which I gave you in the
last lecture is of course only a first germ of classification, on which
we are to found farther and more defined statement; but for this very
reason it is necessary that every term of it should be very clear in
your minds.

And especially I must explain, and ask you to note the sense in which I
use the word "mass." Artists usually employ that word to express the
spaces of light and darkness, or of colour, into which a picture is
divided. But this habit of theirs arises partly from their always
speaking of pictures in which the lights represent solid form. If they
had instead been speaking of flat tints, as, for instance, of the gold
and blue in this missal page, they would not have called them "masses,"
but "spaces" of colour. Now both for accuracy and convenience' sake, you
will find it well to observe this distinction, and to call a simple flat
tint a space of colour; and only the representation of solid or
projecting form a mass.

I use, however, the word "line" rather than "space" in the second and
third heads of our general scheme, at p. 94, because you cannot limit a
flat tint but by a line, or the locus of a line: whereas a gradated
tint, expressive of mass, may be lost at its edges in another, without
any fixed limit; and practically is so, in the works of the greatest

147. You have thus, in your hexagonal scheme, the expression of the
universal manner of advance in painting: Line first; then line enclosing
flat spaces coloured or shaded; then the lines vanish, and the solid
forms are seen within the spaces. That is the universal law of
advance:--1, line; 2, flat space; 3, massed or solid space. But as you
see, this advance may be made, and has been made, by two different
roads; one advancing always through colour, the other through light and
shade. And these two roads are taken by two entirely different kinds of
men. The way by colour is taken by men of cheerful, natural, and
entirely sane disposition in body and mind, much resembling, even at its
strongest, the temper of well-brought-up children:--too happy to think
deeply, yet with powers of imagination by which they can live other
lives than their actual ones: make-believe lives, while yet they remain
conscious all the while that they _are_ making believe--therefore
entirely sane. They are also absolutely contented; they ask for no more
light than is immediately around them, and cannot see anything like
darkness, but only green and blue, in the earth and sea.

148. The way by light and shade is, on the contrary, taken by men of the
highest powers of thought, and most earnest desire for truth; they long
for light, and for knowledge of all that light can show. But seeking for
light, they perceive also darkness; seeking for truth and substance,
they find vanity. They look for form in the earth,--for dawn in the sky;
and seeking these, they find formlessness in the earth, and night in the

Now remember, in these introductory lectures I am putting before you the
roots of things, which are strange, and dark, and often, it may seem,
unconnected with the branches. You may not at present think these
metaphysical statements necessary; but as you go on, you will find that
having hold of the clue to methods of work through their springs in
human character, you may perceive unerringly where they lead, and what
constitutes their wrongness and rightness; and when we have the main
principles laid down, all others will develop themselves in due
succession, and everything will become more clearly intelligible to you
in the end, for having been apparently vague in the beginning. You know
when one is laying the foundation of a house, it does not show directly
where the rooms are to be.

149. You have then these two great divisions of human mind: one, content
with the colours of things, whether they are dark or light; the other
seeking light pure, as such, and dreading darkness as such. One, also,
content with the coloured aspects and visionary shapes of things; the
other seeking their form and substance. And, as I said, the school of
knowledge, seeking light, perceives, and has to accept and deal with
obscurity: and seeking form, it has to accept and deal with
formlessness, or death.

Farther, the school of colour in Europe, using the word Gothic in its
broadest sense, is essentially Gothic _Christian_; and full of comfort
and peace. Again, the school of light is essentially Greek, and full of
sorrow. I cannot tell you which is right, or least wrong. I tell you
only what I know--this vital distinction between them: the Gothic or
colour school is always cheerful, the Greek always oppressed by the
shadow of death; and the stronger its masters are, the closer that body
of death grips them. The strongest whose work I can show you in recent
periods is Holbein; next to him is Lionardo; and then Dürer: but of the
three Holbein is the strongest, and with his help I will put the two
schools in their full character before you in a moment.

150. Here is, first, the photograph of an entirely characteristic piece
of the great colour school. It is by Cima of Conegliano, a mountaineer,
like Luini, born under the Alps of Friuli. His Christian name was John
Baptist: he is here painting his name-Saint; the whole picture full of
peace, and intense faith and hope, and deep joy in light of sky, and
fruit and flower and weed of earth. It was painted for the church of Our
Lady of the Garden at Venice, La Madonna dell' Orto (properly Madonna of
the _Kitchen_ Garden), and it is full of simple flowers, and has the
wild strawberry of Cima's native mountains gleaming through the grass.

Beside it I will put a piece of the strongest work of the school of
light and shade--strongest because Holbein was a colourist also; but he
belongs, nevertheless, essentially to the chiaroscuro school. You know
that his name is connected, in ideal work, chiefly with his "Dance of
Death." I will not show you any of the terror of that; only a photograph
of his well-known "Dead Christ." It will at once show you how completely
the Christian art of this school is oppressed by its veracity, and
forced to see what is fearful, even in what it most trusts.

You may think I am showing you contrasts merely to fit my theories. But
there is Dürer's "Knight and Death," his greatest plate; and if I had
Lionardo's "Medusa" here, which he painted when only a boy, you would
have seen how he was held by the same chain. And you cannot but wonder
why, this being the melancholy temper of the great Greek or naturalistic
school, I should have called it the school of light. I call it so
because it is through its intense love of light that the darkness
becomes apparent to it, and through its intense love of truth and form
that all mystery becomes attractive to it. And when, having learned
these things, it is joined to the school of colour, you have the
perfect, though always, as I will show you, pensive, art of Titian and
his followers.

151. But remember, its first development, and all its final power,
depend on Greek sorrow, and Greek religion.

The school of light is founded in the Doric worship of Apollo, and the
Ionic worship of Athena, as the spirits of life in the light, and of
life in the air, opposed each to their own contrary deity of
death--Apollo to the Python, Athena to the Gorgon--Apollo as life in
light, to the earth spirit of corruption in darkness;--Athena, as life
by motion, to the Gorgon spirit of death by pause, freezing or turning
to stone: both of the great divinities taking their glory from the evil
they have conquered; both of them, when angry, taking to men the form of
the evil which is their opposite--Apollo slaying by poisoned arrow, by
pestilence; Athena by cold, the black ægis on her breast.

These are the definite and direct expressions of the Greek thoughts
respecting death and life. But underlying both these, and far more
mysterious, dreadful, and yet beautiful, there is the Greek conception
of _spiritual_ darkness; of the anger of fate, whether foredoomed or
avenging; the root and theme of all Greek tragedy; the anger of the
Erinnyes, and Demeter Erinnys, compared to which the anger either of
Apollo or Athena is temporary and partial:--and also, while Apollo or
Athena only slay, the power of Demeter and the Eumenides is over the
whole life; so that in the stories of Bellerophon, of Hippolytus, of
Orestes, of Oedipus, you have an incomparably deeper shadow than any
that was possible to the thought of later ages, when the hope of the
Resurrection had become definite. And if you keep this in mind, you will
find every name and legend of the oldest history become full of meaning
to you. All the mythic accounts of Greek sculpture begin in the legends
of the family of Tantalus. The main one is the making of the ivory
shoulder of Pelops after Demeter has eaten the shoulder of flesh. With
that you have Broteas, the brother of Pelops, carving the first statue
of the mother of the gods; and you have his sister, Niobe, weeping
herself to stone under the anger of the deities of light. Then Pelops
himself, the dark-faced, gives name to the Peloponnesus, which you may
therefore read as the "isle of darkness;" but its central city, Sparta,
the "sown city," is connected with all the ideas of the earth as
life-giving. And from her you have Helen, the representative of light in
beauty, and the Fratres Helenæ--"lucida sidera;" and, on the other side
of the hills, the brightness of Argos, with its correlative darkness
over the Atreidæ, marked to you by Helios turning away his face from the
feast of Thyestes.

152. Then join with these the Northern legends connected with the air.
It does not matter whether you take Dorus as the son of Apollo or the
son of Helen; he equally symbolises the power of light: while his
brother, Æolus, through all his descendants, chiefly in Sisyphus, is
confused or associated with the real god of the winds, and represents to
you the power of the air. And then, as this conception enters into art,
you have the myths of Dædalus, the flight of Icarus, and the story of
Phrixus and Helle, giving you continual associations of the physical air
and light, ending in the power of Athena over Corinth as well as over

Now, once having the clue, you can work out the sequels for yourselves
better than I can for you; and you will soon find even the earliest or
slightest grotesques of Greek art become full of interest. For nothing
is more wonderful than the depth of meaning which nations in their first
days of thought, like children, can attach to the rudest symbols; and
what to us is grotesque or ugly, like a little child's doll, can speak
to them the loveliest things. I have brought you to-day a few more
examples of early Greek vase painting, respecting which remember
generally that its finest development is for the most part sepulchral.
You have, in the first period, always energy in the figures, light in
the sky or upon the figures;[13] in the second period, while the
conception of the divine power remains the same, it is thought of as in
repose, and the light is in the god, not in the sky; in the time of
decline, the divine power is gradually disbelieved, and all form and
light are lost together. With that period I wish you to have nothing to
do. You shall not have a single example of it set before you, but shall
rather learn to recognise afterwards what is base by its strangeness.
These, which are to come early in the third group of your Standard
series, will enough represent to you the elements of early and late
conception in the Greek mind of the deities of light.

[Footnote 13: See Note in the Catalogue on No. 201.]

153. First (S. 204), you have Apollo ascending from the sea; thought of
as the physical sunrise: only a circle of light for his head; his
chariot horses, seen foreshortened, black against the day-break, their
feet not yet risen above the horizon. Underneath is the painting from
the opposite side of the same vase: Athena as the morning breeze, and
Hermes as the morning cloud, flying across the waves before the sunrise.
At the distance I now hold them from you, it is scarcely possible for
you to see that they are figures at all, so like are they to broken
fragments of flying mist; and when you look close, you will see that as
Apollo's face is invisible in the circle of light, Mercury's is
invisible in the broken form of cloud: but I can tell you that it is
conceived as reverted, looking back to Athena; the grotesque appearance
of feature in the front is the outline of his hair.

These two paintings are excessively rude, and of the archaic period; the
deities being yet thought of chiefly as physical powers in violent

Underneath these two are Athena and Hermes, in the types attained about
the time of Phidias; but, of course, rudely drawn on the vase, and still
more rudely in this print from Le Normant and De Witte. For it is
impossible (as you will soon find if you try for yourself) to give on a
plane surface the grace of figures drawn on one of solid curvature, and
adapted to all its curves: and among other minor differences, Athena's
lance is in the original nearly twice as tall as herself, and has to be
cut short to come into the print at all. Still, there is enough here to
show you what I want you to see--the repose, and entirely realised
personality, of the deities as conceived in the Phidian period. The
relation of the two deities is, I believe, the same as in the painting
above, though probably there is another added of more definite kind. But
the physical meaning still remains--Athena unhelmeted, as the _gentle_
morning wind, commanding the cloud Hermes to slow flight. His petasus is
slung at his back, meaning that the clouds are not yet opened or
expanded in the sky.

154. Next (S. 205), you have Athena, again unhelmeted and crowned with
leaves, walking between two nymphs, who are crowned also with leaves;
and all the three hold flowers in their hands, and there is a fawn
walking at Athena's feet.

This is still Athena as the morning air, but upon the earth instead of
in the sky, with the nymphs of the dew beside her; the flowers and
leaves opening as they breathe upon them. Note the white gleam of light
on the fawn's breast; and compare it with the next following
examples:--(underneath this one is the contest of Athena and Poseidon,
which does not bear on our present subject).

Next (S. 206), Artemis as the moon of morning, walking low on the hills,
and singing to her lyre; the fawn beside her, with the gleam of light
and sunrise on its ear and breast. Those of you who are often out in the
dawntime know that there is no moon so glorious as that gleaming
crescent, though in its wane, ascending _before_ the sun.

Underneath, Artemis, and Apollo, of Phidian time.

Next (S. 207), Apollo walking on the earth, god of the morning, singing
to his lyre; the fawn beside him, again with the gleam of light on its
breast. And underneath, Apollo, crossing the sea to Delphi, of the
Phidian time.

155. Now you cannot but be struck in these three examples with the
similarity of action in Athena, Apollo, and Artemis, drawn as deities of
the morning; and with the association in every case of the fawn with
them. It has been said (I will not interrupt you with authorities) that
the fawn belongs to Apollo and Diana because stags are sensitive to
music; (are they?). But you see the fawn is here with Athena of the dew,
though she has no lyre; and I have myself no doubt that in this
particular relation to the gods of morning it always stands as the
symbol of wavering and glancing motion on the ground, as well as of the
light and shadow through the leaves, chequering the ground as the fawn
is dappled. Similarly the spots on the nebris of Dionysus, thought of
sometimes as stars (+apo tês tôn astrôn poikilias+, Diodorus, I.
11), as well as those of his panthers, and the cloudings of the
tortoise-shell of Hermes, are all significant of this light of the sky
broken by cloud-shadow.

156. You observe also that in all the three examples the fawn has light
on its ears, and face, as well as its breast. In the earliest Greek
drawings of animals, bars of white are used as one means of detaching
the figures from the ground; ordinarily on the under side of them,
marking the lighter colour of the hair in wild animals. But the placing
of this bar of white, or the direction of the face in deities of light,
(the faces and flesh of women being always represented as white,) may
become expressive of the direction of the light, when that direction is
important. Thus we are enabled at once to read the intention of this
Greek symbol of the course of a day (in the centre-piece of S. 208,
which gives you the types of Hermes). At the top you have an archaic
representation of Hermes stealing Io from Argus. Argus is here the
Night; his grotesque features monstrous; his hair overshadowing his
shoulders; Hermes on tip-toe, stealing upon him and taking the cord
which is fastened to the horn of Io out of his hand without his feeling
it. Then, underneath, you have the course of an entire day. Apollo
first, on the left, dark, entering his chariot, the sun not yet risen.
In front of him Artemis, as the moon, ascending before him, playing on
her lyre, and looking back to the sun. In the centre, behind the horses,
Hermes, as the cumulus cloud at mid-day, wearing his petasus heightened
to a cone, and holding a flower in his right hand; indicating the
nourishment of the flowers by the rain from the heat cloud. Finally, on
the right, Latona, going down as the evening, lighted from the right by
the sun, now sunk; and with her feet reverted, signifying the reluctance
of the departing day.

Finally, underneath, you have Hermes of the Phidian period, as the
floating cumulus cloud, almost shapeless (as you see him at this
distance); with the tortoise-shell lyre in his hand, barred with black,
and a fleece of white cloud, not level but _oblique_, under his feet.
(Compare the "+dia tôn koilôn--plagiai+," and the relations of
the "+aigidos êniochos Athana+," with the clouds as the moon's
messengers, in Aristophanes; and note of Hermes generally, that you
never find him flying as a Victory flies, but always, if moving fast at
all, _clambering_ along, as it were, as a cloud gathers and heaps
itself: the Gorgons stretch and stride in their flight, half kneeling,
for the same reason, running or gliding shapelessly along in this
stealthy way.)

157. And now take this last illustration, of a very different kind. Here
is an effect of morning light by Turner (S. 301), on the rocks of
Otley-hill, near Leeds, drawn long ago, when Apollo, and Artemis, and
Athena, still sometimes were seen, and felt, even near Leeds. The
original drawing is one of the great Farnley series, and entirely
beautiful. I have shown, in the last volume of "Modern Painters," how
well Turner knew the meaning of Greek legends:--he was not thinking of
them, however, when he made this design; but, unintentionally, has given
us the very effect of morning light we want: the glittering of the
sunshine on dewy grass, half dark; and the narrow gleam of it on the
sides and head of the stag and hind.

158. These few instances will be enough to show you how we may read in
the early art of the Greeks their strong impressions of the power of
light. You will find the subject entered into at somewhat greater length
in my "Queen of the Air;" and if you will look at the beginning of the
7th book of Plato's "Polity," and read carefully the passages in the
context respecting the sun and intellectual sight, you will see how
intimately this physical love of light was connected with their
philosophy, in its search, as blind and captive, for better knowledge. I
shall not attempt to define for you to-day the more complex but much
shallower forms which this love of light, and the philosophy that
accompanies it, take in the mediæval mind; only remember that in future,
when I briefly speak of the Greek school of art with reference to
questions of delineation, I mean the entire range of the schools, from
Homer's days to our own, which concern themselves with the
representation of light, and the effects it produces on material
form--beginning practically for us with these Greek vase paintings, and
closing practically for us with Turner's sunset on the Temeraire; being
throughout a school of captivity and sadness, but of intense power; and
which in its technical method of shadow on material form, as well as in
its essential temper, is centrally represented to you by Dürer's two
great engravings of the "Melencolia" and the "Knight and Death." On the
other hand, when I briefly speak to you of the Gothic school, with
reference to delineation, I mean the entire and much more extensive
range of schools extending from the earliest art in Central Asia and
Egypt down to our own day in India and China:--schools which have been
content to obtain beautiful harmonies of colour without any
representation of light; and which have, many of them, rested in such
imperfect expressions of form as could be so obtained; schools usually
in some measure childish, or restricted in intellect, and similarly
childish or restricted in their philosophies or faiths: but contented in
the restriction; and in the more powerful races, capable of advance to
nobler development than the Greek schools, though the consummate art of
Europe has only been accomplished by the union of both. How that union
was effected, I will endeavour to show you in my next lecture; to-day I
shall take note only of the points bearing on our immediate practice.

159. A certain number of you, by faculty and natural disposition,--and
all, so far as you are interested in modern art,--will necessarily have
to put yourselves under the discipline of the Greek or chiaroscuro
school, which is directed primarily to the attainment of the power of
representing form by pure contrast of light and shade. I say, the
"discipline" of the Greek school, both because, followed faithfully, it
is indeed a severe one, and because to follow it at all is, for persons
fond of colour, often a course of painful self-denial, from which young
students are eager to escape. And yet, when the laws of both schools are
rightly obeyed, the most perfect discipline is that of the colourists;
for they see and draw _everything_, while the chiaroscurists must leave
much indeterminate in mystery, or invisible in gloom: and there are
therefore many licentious and vulgar forms of art connected with the
chiaroscuro school, both in painting and etching, which have no parallel
among the colourists. But both schools, rightly followed, require first
of all absolute accuracy of delineation. _This_ you need not hope to
escape. Whether you fill your spaces with colours, or with shadows, they
must equally be of the true outline and in true gradations. I have been
thirty years telling modern students of art this in vain. I mean to say
it to you only once, for the statement is too important to be weakened
by repetition.


160. It may make this more believable to you if I put beside each other
a piece of detail from each school. I gave you the St. John of Cima da
Conegliano for a type of the colour school. Here is my own study of the
sprays of oak which rise against the sky of it in the distance, enlarged
to about its real size (Edu. 12). I hope to draw it better for you at
Venice; but this will show you with what perfect care the colourist has
followed the outline of every leaf in the sky. Beside, I put a
chiaroscurist drawing (at least, a photograph of one), Dürer's from
nature, of the common wild wall-cabbage (Edu. 32). It is the most
perfect piece of delineation by flat tint I have ever seen, in its
mastery of the perspective of every leaf, and its attainment almost of
the bloom of texture, merely by its exquisitely tender and decisive
laying of the colour. These two examples ought, I think, to satisfy you
as to the precision of outline of both schools, and the power of
expression which may be obtained by flat tints laid within such outline.

161. Next, here are two examples of the gradated shading expressive of
the forms within the outline, by two masters of the chiaroscuro school.
The first (S. 12) shows you Lionardo's method of work, both with chalk
and the silver point. The second (S. 302), Turner's work in mezzotint;
both masters doing their best. Observe that this plate of Turner's,
which he worked on so long that it was never published, is of a subject
peculiarly depending on effects of mystery and concealment, the fall of
the Reuss under the Devil's Bridge on the St. Gothard; (the _old_
bridge; you may still see it under the existing one, which was built
since Turner's drawing was made). If ever outline could be dispensed
with, you would think it might be so in this confusion of cloud, foam,
and darkness. But here is Turner's own etching on the plate (Edu. 35 F),
made under the mezzotint; and of all the studies of rock outline made by
his hand, it is the most decisive and quietly complete.

162. Again; in the Lionardo sketches, many parts are lost in obscurity,
or are left intentionally uncertain and mysterious, even in the light,
and you might at first imagine some permission of escape had been here
given you from the terrible law of delineation. But the slightest
attempts to copy them will show you that the terminal lines are
inimitably subtle, unaccusably true, and filled by gradations of shade
so determined and measured that the addition of a grain of the lead or
chalk as large as the filament of a moth's wing, would make an
appreciable difference in them.

This is grievous, you think, and hopeless? No, it is delightful and full
of hope: delightful, to see what marvellous things can be done by men;
and full of hope, if your hope is the right one, of being one day able
to rejoice more in what others have done, than in what you can yourself
do, and more in the strength that is for ever above you, than in that
you can never attain.

163. But you can attain much, if you will work reverently and patiently,
and hope for no success through ill-regulated effort. It is, however,
most assuredly at this point of your study that the full strain on your
patience will begin. The exercises in line-drawing and flat laying of
colour are irksome; but they are definite, and within certain limits,
sure to be successful if practised with moderate care. But the
expression of form by shadow requires more subtle patience, and involves
the necessity of frequent and mortifying failure, not to speak of the
self-denial which I said was needful in persons fond of colour, to draw
in mere light and shade. If, indeed, you were going to be artists, or
could give any great length of time to study, it might be possible for
you to learn wholly in the Venetian school, and to reach form through
colour. But without the most intense application this is not possible;
and practically, it will be necessary for you, as soon as you have
gained the power of outlining accurately, and of laying flat colour, to
learn to express solid form as shown by light and shade only. And there
is this great advantage in doing so, that many forms are more or less
disguised by colour, and that we can only represent them completely to
others, or rapidly and easily record them for ourselves, by the use of
shade alone. A single instance will show you what I mean. Perhaps there
are few flowers of which the impression on the eye is more definitely of
flat colour, than the scarlet geranium. But you would find, if you were
to try to paint it,--first, that no pigment could approach the beauty of
its scarlet; and secondly, that the brightness of the hue dazzled the
eye, and prevented its following the real arrangement of the cluster of
flowers. I have drawn for you here (at least this is a mezzotint from my
drawing), a single cluster of the scarlet geranium, in mere light and
shade (Edu. 32 B.), and I think you will feel that its domed form, and
the flat lying of the petals one over the other, in the vaulted roof of
it, can be seen better thus than if they had been painted scarlet.

164. Also this study will be useful to you, in showing how entirely
effects of light depend on delineation, and gradation of spaces, and not
on methods of shading. And this is the second great practical matter I
want you to remember to-day. All effects of light and shade depend not
on the method or execution of shadows, but on their rightness of place,
form, and depth. There is indeed a loveliness of execution _added_ to
the rightness, by the great masters, but you cannot obtain that unless
you become one of them. Shadow cannot be laid thoroughly well, any more
than lines can be drawn steadily, but by a long-practised hand, and the
attempts to imitate the shading of fine draughtsmen, by dotting and
hatching, are just as ridiculous as it would be to endeavour to imitate
their instantaneous lines by a series of re-touchings. You will often
indeed see in Lionardo's work, and in Michael Angelo's, shadow wrought
laboriously to an extreme of fineness; but when you look into it, you
will find that they have always been drawing more and more form within
the space, and never finishing for the sake of added texture, but of
added fact. And all those effects of transparency and reflected light,
aimed at in common chalk drawings, are wholly spurious. For since, as I
told you, all lights are shades compared to higher lights, and lights
only as compared to lower ones, it follows that there can be no
difference in their quality as such; but that light is opaque when it
expresses substance, and transparent when it expresses space; and shade
is also opaque when it expresses substance, and transparent when it
expresses space. But it is not, even then, transparent in the common
sense of that word; nor is its appearance to be obtained by dotting or
cross hatching, but by touches so tender as to look like mist. And now
we find the use of having Lionardo for our guide. He is supreme in all
questions of execution, and in his 28th chapter, you will find that
shadows are to be "dolce e sfumose," to be tender, and look as if they
were exhaled, or breathed on the paper. Then, look at any of Michael
Angelo's finished drawings, or of Correggio's sketches, and you will see
that the true nurse of light is in art, as in nature, the cloud; a misty
and tender darkness, made lovely by gradation.

165. And how absolutely independent it is of material or method of
production, how absolutely dependent on rightness of place and
depth,--there are now before you instances enough to prove. Here is
Dürer's work in flat colour, represented by the photograph in its smoky
brown; Turner's, in washed sepia, and in mezzotint; Lionardo's, in
pencil and in chalk; on the screen in front of you a large study in
charcoal. In every one of these drawings, the material of shadow is
absolutely opaque. But photograph-stain, chalk, lead, ink, or
charcoal,--every one of them, laid by the master's hand, becomes full of
light by gradation only. Here is a moonlight (Edu. 31 B.), in which you
would think the moon shone through every cloud; yet the clouds are mere
single dashes of sepia, imitated by the brown stain of a photograph;
similarly, in these plates from the Liber Studiorum the white paper
becomes transparent or opaque, exactly as the master chooses. Here, on
the granite rock of the St. Gothard (S. 302), in white paper made
opaque, every light represents solid bosses of rock, or balls of foam.
But in this study of twilight (S. 303), the same white paper (coarse old
stuff it is, too!) is made as transparent as crystal, and every fragment
of it represents clear and far away light in the sky of evening in

From all which the practical conclusion for you is, that you are never
to trouble yourselves with any questions as to the means of shade or
light, but only with the right government of the means at your disposal.
And it is a most grave error in the system of many of our public
drawing-schools, that the students are permitted to spend weeks of
labour in giving attractive appearance, by delicacy of texture, to
chiaroscuro drawings in which every form is false, and every relation of
depth, untrue. A most unhappy form of error; for it not only delays, and
often wholly arrests, their advance in their own art; but it prevents
what ought to take place correlatively with their executive practice,
the formation of their taste by the accurate study of the models from
which they draw. And I must so far anticipate what we shall discover
when we come to the subject of sculpture, as to tell you the two main
principles of good sculpture; first, that its masters think before all
other matters of the right placing of masses; secondly, that they give
life by flexure of surface, not by quantity of detail; for sculpture is
indeed only light and shade drawing in stone.

166. Much that I have endeavoured to teach on this subject has been
gravely misunderstood, by both young painters and sculptors, especially
by the latter. Because I am always urging them to imitate organic forms,
they think if they carve quantities of flowers and leaves, and copy them
from the life, they have done all that is needed. But the difficulty is
not to carve quantities of leaves. Anybody can do that. The difficulty
is, never anywhere to have an _unnecessary_ leaf. Over the arch on the
right, you see there is a cluster of seven, with their short stalks
springing from a thick stem. Now, you could not turn one of those leaves
a hair's-breadth out of its place, nor thicken one of their stems, nor
alter the angle at which each slips over the next one, without spoiling
the whole as much as you would a piece of melody by missing a note. That
is disposition of masses. Again, in the group on the left, while the
placing of every leaf is just as skilful, they are made more interesting
yet by the lovely undulation of their surfaces, so that not one of them
is in equal light with another. And that is so in all good sculpture,
without exception. From the Elgin marbles down to the lightest tendril
that curls round a capital in the thirteenth century, every piece of
stone that has been touched by the hand of a master, becomes soft with
under-life, not resembling nature merely in skin-texture, nor in fibres
of leaf, or veins of flesh; but in the broad, tender, unspeakably subtle
undulation of its organic form.

167. Returning then to the question of our own practice, I believe that
all difficulties in method will vanish, if only you cultivate with care
enough the habit of accurate observation, and if you think only of
making your light and shade true, whether it be delicate or not. But
there are three divisions or degrees of truth to be sought for, in light
and shade, by three several modes of study, which I must ask you to
distinguish carefully.

I. When objects are lighted by the direct rays of the sun, or by direct
light entering from a window, one side of them is of course in light,
the other in shade, and the forms in the mass are exhibited
systematically by the force of the rays falling on it; (those having
most power of illumination which strike most vertically;) and note that
there is, therefore, to every solid curvature of surface, a necessarily
proportioned gradation of light, the gradation on a parabolic solid
being different from the gradation on an elliptical or spherical one.
Now, when your purpose is to represent and learn the anatomy, or
otherwise characteristic forms, of any object, it is best to place it in
this kind of direct light, and to draw it as it is seen when we look at
it in a direction at right angles to that of the ray. This is the
ordinary academical way of studying form. Lionardo seldom practises any
other in his real work, though he directs many others in his treatise.

168. The great importance of anatomical knowledge to the painters of the
sixteenth century rendered this method of study very frequent with them;
it almost wholly regulated their schools of engraving, and has been the
most frequent system of drawing in art-schools since (to the very
inexpedient exclusion of others). When you study objects in this
way,--and it will indeed be well to do so often, though not
exclusively,--observe always one main principle. Divide the light from
the darkness frankly at first: all over the subject let there be no
doubt which is which. Separate them one from the other as they are
separated in the moon, or on the world itself, in day and night. Then
gradate your lights with the utmost subtilty possible to you; but let
your shadows alone, until near the termination of the drawing: then put
quickly into them what farther energy they need, thus gaining the
reflected lights out of their original flat gloom; but generally not
looking much for reflected lights. Nearly all young students (and too
many advanced masters) exaggerate them. It is good to see a drawing come
out of its ground like a vision of light only; the shadows lost, or
disregarded in the vague of space. In vulgar chiaroscuro the shades are
so full of reflection that they look as if some one had been walking
round the object with a candle, and the student, by that help, peering
into its crannies.

169. II. But, in the reality of nature, very few objects are seen in
this accurately lateral manner, or lighted by unconfused direct rays.
Some are all in shadow, some all in light, some near, and vigorously
defined; others dim and faint in aerial distance. The study of these
various effects and forces of light, which we may call aerial
chiaroscuro, is a far more subtle one than that of the rays exhibiting
organic form (which for distinction's sake we may call "formal"
chiaroscuro), since the degrees of light from the sun itself to the
blackness of night, are far beyond any literal imitation. In order to
produce a mental impression of the facts, two distinct methods may be
followed:--the first, to shade downwards from the lights, making
everything darker in due proportion, until the scale of our power being
ended, the mass of the picture is lost in shade. The second, to assume
the points of extreme darkness for a basis, and to light everything
above these in due proportion, till the mass of the picture is lost in

170. Thus, in Turner's sepia drawing "Isis" (Edu. 31), he begins with
the extreme light in the sky, and shades down from that till he is
forced to represent the near trees and pool as one mass of blackness. In
his drawing of the Greta (S. 2), he begins with the dark brown shadow of
the bank on the left, and illuminates up from that, till, in his
distance, trees, hills, sky, and clouds, are all lost in broad light, so
that you can hardly see the distinction between hills and sky. The
second of these methods is in general the best for colour, though great
painters unite both in their practice, according to the character of
their subject. The first method is never pursued in colour but by
inferior painters. It is, nevertheless, of great importance to make
studies of chiaroscuro in this first manner for some time, as a
preparation for colouring; and this for many reasons, which it would
take too long to state now. I shall expect you to have confidence in me
when I assure you of the necessity of this study, and ask you to make
good use of the examples from the Liber Studiorum which I have placed in
your Educational series.

171. III. Whether in formal or aerial chiaroscuro, it is optional with
the student to make the local colour of objects a part of his shadow, or
to consider the high lights of every colour as white. For instance, a
chiaroscurist of Lionardo's school, drawing a leopard, would take no
notice whatever of the spots, but only give the shadows which expressed
the anatomy. And it is indeed necessary to be able to do this, and to
make drawings of the forms of things as if they were sculptured, and had
no colour. But in general, and more especially in the practice which is
to guide you to colour, it is better to regard the local colour as part
of the general dark and light to be imitated; and, as I told you at
first, to consider all nature merely as a mosaic of different colours,
to be imitated one by one in simplicity. But good artists vary their
methods according to their subject and material. In general, Dürer takes
little account of local colour; but in woodcuts of armorial bearings
(one with peacock's feathers I shall get for you some day) takes great
delight in it; while one of the chief merits of Bewick is the ease and
vigour with which he uses his black and white for the colours of plumes.
Also, every great artist looks for, and expresses, that character of his
subject which is best to be rendered by the instrument in his hand, and
the material he works on. Give Velasquez or Veronese a leopard to paint,
the first thing they think of will be its spots; give it to Dürer to
engrave, and he will set himself at the fur and whiskers; give it a
Greek to carve, and he will only think of its jaws and limbs; each doing
what is absolutely best with the means at his disposal.

172. The details of practice in these various methods I will endeavour
to explain to you by distinct examples in your Educational series, as we
proceed in our work; for the present, let me, in closing, recommend to
you once more with great earnestness the patient endeavour to render the
chiaroscuro of landscape in the manner of the Liber Studiorum; and this
the rather, because you might easily suppose that the facility of
obtaining photographs which render such effects, as it seems, with
absolute truth and with unapproachable subtilty, superseded the
necessity of study, and the use of sketching. Let me assure you, once
for all, that photographs supersede no single quality nor use of fine
art, and have so much in common with Nature, that they even share her
temper of parsimony, and will themselves give you nothing valuable that
you do not work for. They supersede no good art, for the definition of
art is "human labour regulated by human design," and this design, or
evidence of active intellect in choice and arrangement, is the
essential part of the work; which so long as you cannot perceive, you
perceive no art whatsoever; which when once you do perceive, you will
perceive also to be replaceable by no mechanism. But, farther,
photographs will give you nothing you do not work for. They are
invaluable for record of some kinds of facts, and for giving transcripts
of drawings by great masters; but neither in the photographed scene, nor
photographed drawing, will you see any true good, more than in the
things themselves, until you have given the appointed price in your own
attention and toil. And when once you have paid this price, you will not
care for photographs of landscape. They are not true, though they seem
so. They are merely spoiled nature. If it is not human design you are
looking for, there is more beauty in the next wayside bank than in all
the sun-blackened paper you could collect in a lifetime. Go and look at
the real landscape, and take care of it; do not think you can get the
good of it in a black stain portable in a folio. But if you care for
human thought and passion, then learn yourselves to watch the course and
fall of the light by whose influence you live, and to share in the joy
of human spirits in the heavenly gifts of sunbeam and shade. For I tell
you truly, that to a quiet heart, and healthy brain, and industrious
hand, there is more delight, and use, in the dappling of one wood-glade
with flowers and sunshine, than to the restless, heartless, and idle
could be brought by a panorama of a belt of the world, photographed
round the equator.



173. To-day I must try to complete our elementary sketch of schools of
art, by tracing the course of those which were distinguished by faculty
of colour, and afterwards to deduce from the entire scheme advisable
methods of immediate practice.

You remember that, for the type of the early schools of colour, I chose
their work in glass; as for that of the early schools of chiaroscuro, I
chose their work in clay.

I had two reasons for this. First, that the peculiar skill of colourists
is seen most intelligibly in their work in glass or in enamel; secondly,
that Nature herself produces all her loveliest colours in some kind of
solid or liquid glass or crystal. The rainbow is painted on a shower of
melted glass, and the colours of the opal are produced in vitreous flint
mixed with water; the green and blue, and golden or amber brown of
flowing water is in surface glassy, and in motion "splendidior vitro."
And the loveliest colours ever granted to human sight--those of morning
and evening clouds before or after rain--are produced on minute
particles of finely-divided water, or perhaps sometimes ice. But more
than this. If you examine with a lens some of the richest colours of
flowers, as, for instance, those of the gentian and dianthus, you will
find their texture is produced by a crystalline or sugary frost-work
upon them. In the lychnis of the high Alps, the red and white have a
kind of sugary bloom, as rich as it is delicate. It is indescribable;
but if you can fancy very powdery and crystalline snow mixed with the
softest cream, and then dashed with carmine, it may give you some idea
of the look of it. There are no colours, either in the nacre of shells,
or the plumes of birds and insects, which are so pure as those of
clouds, opal, or flowers; but the _force_ of purple and blue in some
butterflies, and the methods of clouding, and strength of burnished
lustre, in plumage like the peacock's, give them more universal
interest; in some birds, also, as in our own kingfisher, the colour
nearly reaches a floral preciousness. The lustre in most, however, is
metallic rather than vitreous; and the vitreous always gives the purest
hue. Entirely common and vulgar compared with these, yet to be noticed
as completing the crystalline or vitreous system, we have the colours of
gems. The green of the emerald is the best of these; but at its best is
as vulgar as house-painting beside the green of bird's plumage or of
clear water. No diamond shows colour so pure as a dewdrop; the ruby is
like the pink of an ill-dyed and half-washed-out print, compared to the
dianthus; and the carbuncle is usually quite dead unless set with a
foil, and even then is not prettier than the seed of a pomegranate. The
opal is, however, an exception. When pure and uncut in its native rock,
it presents the most lovely colours that can be seen in the world,
except those of clouds.

We have thus in nature, chiefly obtained by crystalline conditions, a
series of groups of entirely delicious hues; and it is one of the best
signs that the bodily system is in a healthy state when we can see these
clearly in their most delicate tints, and enjoy them fully and simply,
with the kind of enjoyment that children have in eating sweet things.

174. Now, the course of our main colour schools is briefly this:--First
we have, returning to our hexagonal scheme, line; then _spaces_ filled
with pure colour; and then _masses_ expressed or rounded with pure
colour. And during these two stages the masters of colour delight in the
purest tints, and endeavour as far as possible to rival those of opals
and flowers. In saying "the purest tints," I do not mean the simplest
types of red, blue, and yellow, but the most pure tints obtainable by
their combinations.

175. You remember I told you, when the colourists painted masses or
projecting spaces, they, aiming always at colour, perceived from the
first and held to the last the fact that shadows, though of course
darker than the lights with reference to which they _are_ shadows, are
not therefore necessarily less vigorous colours, but perhaps more
vigorous. Some of the most beautiful blues and purples in nature, for
instance, are those of mountains in shadow against amber sky; and the
darkness of the hollow in the centre of a wild rose is one glow of
orange fire, owing to the quantity of its yellow stamens. Well, the
Venetians always saw this, and all great colourists see it, and are thus
separated from the non-colourists or schools of mere chiaroscuro, not by
difference in style merely, but by being right while the others are
wrong. It is an absolute fact that shadows are as much colours as lights
are; and whoever represents them by merely the subdued or darkened tint
of the light, represents them falsely. I particularly want you to
observe that this is no matter of taste, but fact. If you are especially
sober-minded, you may indeed choose sober colours where Venetians would
have chosen gay ones; that is a matter of taste; you may think it proper
for a hero to wear a dress without patterns on it, rather than an
embroidered one; that is similarly a matter of taste: but, though you
may also think it would be dignified for a hero's limbs to be all black,
or brown, on the shaded side of them, yet, if you are using colour at
all, you cannot so have him to your mind, except by falsehood; he never,
under any circumstances, could be entirely black or brown on one side of

176. In this, then, the Venetians are separate from other schools by
rightness, and they are so to their last days. Venetian painting is in
this matter always right. But also, in their early days, the colourists
are separated from other schools by their contentment with tranquil
cheerfulness of light: by their never wanting to be dazzled. None of
their lights are flashing or blinding; they are soft, winning, precious;
lights of pearl, not of lime: only, you know, on this condition they
cannot have sunshine: their day is the day of Paradise; they need no
candle, neither light of the sun, in their cities; and everything is
seen clear, as through crystal, far or near.

This holds to the end of the fifteenth century. Then they begin to see
that this, beautiful as it may be, is still a make-believe light; that
we do not live in the inside of a pearl; but in an atmosphere through
which a burning sun shines thwartedly, and over which a sorrowful night
must far prevail. And then the chiaroscurists succeed in persuading them
of the fact that there is a mystery in the day as in the night, and show
them how constantly to see truly, is to see dimly. And also they teach
them the brilliancy of light, and the degree in which it is raised from
the darkness; and instead of their sweet and pearly peace, tempt them to
look for the strength of flame and coruscation of lightning, and flash
of sunshine on armour and on points of spears.

177. The noble painters take the lesson nobly, alike for gloom or flame.
Titian with deliberate strength, Tintoret with stormy passion, read it,
side by side. Titian deepens the hues of his Assumption, as of his
Entombment, into a solemn twilight; Tintoret involves his earth in coils
of volcanic cloud, and withdraws, through circle flaming above circle,
the distant light of Paradise. Both of them, becoming naturalist and
human, add the veracity of Holbein's intense portraiture to the glow and
dignity they had themselves inherited from the Masters of Peace: at the
same moment another, as strong as they, and in pure felicity of
art-faculty, even greater than they, but trained in a lower
school,--Velasquez,--produced the miracles of colour and
shadow-painting, which made Reynolds say of him, "What we all do with
labour, he does with ease;" and one more, Correggio, uniting the sensual
element of the Greek schools with their gloom, and their light with
their beauty, and all these with the Lombardic colour, became, as since
I think it has been admitted without question, the captain of the
painter's art as such. Other men have nobler or more numerous gifts, but
as a painter, master of the art of laying colour so as to be lovely,
Correggio is alone.

178. I said the noble men learned their lesson nobly. The base men also,
and necessarily, learn it basely. The great men rise from colour to
sunlight. The base ones fall from colour to candlelight. To-day, "non
ragioniam di lor," but let us see what this great change which perfects
the art of painting mainly consists in, and means. For though we are
only at present speaking of technical matters, every one of them, I can
scarcely too often repeat, is the outcome and sign of a mental
character, and you can only understand the folds of the veil, by those
of the form it veils.

179. The complete painters, we find, have brought dimness and mystery
into their method of colouring. That means that the world all round them
has resolved to dream, or to believe, no more; but to know, and to see.
And instantly all knowledge and sight are given, no more as in the
Gothic times, through a window of glass, brightly, but as through a
telescope-glass, darkly. Your cathedral window shut you from the true
sky, and illumined you with a vision; your telescope leads you to the
sky, but darkens its light, and reveals nebula beyond nebula, far and
farther, and to no conceivable farthest--unresolvable. That is what the
mystery means.

180. Next, what does that Greek opposition of black and white mean?

In the sweet crystalline time of colour, the painters, whether on glass
or canvas, employed intricate patterns, in order to mingle hues
beautifully with each other, and make one perfect melody of them all.
But in the great naturalist school, they like their patterns to come in
the Greek way, dashed dark on light,--gleaming light out of dark. That
means also that the world round them has again returned to the Greek
conviction, that all nature, especially human nature, is not entirely
melodious nor luminous; but a barred and broken thing: that saints have
their foibles, sinners their forces; that the most luminous virtue is
often only a flash, and the blackest-looking fault is sometimes only a
stain: and, without confusing in the least black with white, they can
forgive, or even take delight in things that are like the [Greek:
nebris], dappled.

181. You have then--first, mystery. Secondly, opposition of dark and
light. Then, lastly, whatever truth of form the dark and light can show.

That is to say, truth altogether, and resignation to it, and quiet
resolve to make the best of it. And therefore portraiture of living men,
women, and children,--no more of saints, cherubs, or demons. So here I
have brought for your standards of perfect art, a little maiden of the
Strozzi family, with her dog, by Titian; and a little princess of the
house of Savoy, by Vandyke; and Charles the Fifth, by Titian; and a
queen, by Velasquez; and an English girl in a brocaded gown, by
Reynolds; and an English physician in his plain coat, and wig, by
Reynolds: and if you do not like them, I cannot help myself, for I can
find nothing better for you.

182. Better?--I must pause at the word. Nothing stronger, certainly, nor
so strong. Nothing so wonderful, so inimitable, so keen in unprejudiced
and unbiassed sight.

Yet better, perhaps, the sight that was guided by a sacred will; the
power that could be taught to weaker hands; the work that was faultless,
though not inimitable, bright with felicity of heart, and consummate in
a disciplined and companionable skill. You will find, when I can place
in your hands the notes on Verona, which I read at the Royal
Institution, that I have ventured to call the æra of painting
represented by John Bellini, the time "of the Masters." Truly they
deserved the name, who did nothing but what was lovely, and taught only
what was right. These mightier, who succeeded them, crowned, but closed,
the dynasties of art, and since their day, painting has never flourished

183. There were many reasons for this, without fault of theirs. They
were exponents, in the first place, of the change in all men's minds
from civil and religious to merely domestic passion; the love of their
gods and their country had contracted itself now into that of their
domestic circle, which was little more than the halo of themselves. You
will see the reflection of this change in painting at once by comparing
the two Madonnas (S. 37, John Bellini's, and Raphael's, called "della
Seggiola"). Bellini's Madonna cares for all creatures through her child;
Raphael's, for her child only.

Again, the world round these painters had become sad and proud, instead
of happy and humble;--its domestic peace was darkened by irreligion, its
national action fevered by pride. And for sign of its Love, the Hymen,
whose statue this fair English girl, according to Reynolds' thought, has
to decorate (S. 43), is blind, and holds a coronet.

Again, in the splendid power of realisation, which these greatest of
artists had reached, there was the latent possibility of amusement by
deception, and of excitement by sensualism. And Dutch trickeries of base
resemblance, and French fancies of insidious beauty, soon occupied the
eyes of the populace of Europe, too restless and wretched now to care
for the sweet earth-berries and Madonna's ivy of Cima, and too ignoble
to perceive Titian's colour, or Correggio's shade.

184. Enough sources of evil were here, in the temper and power of the
consummate art. In its practical methods there was another, the
fatallest of all. These great artists brought with them mystery,
despondency, domesticity, sensuality: of all these, good came, as well
as evil. One thing more they brought, of which nothing but evil ever
comes, or can come--LIBERTY.

By the discipline of five hundred years they had learned and inherited
such power, that whereas all former painters could be right only by
effort, they could be right with ease; and whereas all former painters
could be right only under restraint, they could be right, free.
Tintoret's touch, Luini's, Correggio's, Reynolds', and Velasquez's, are
all as free as the air, and yet right. "How very fine!" said everybody.
Unquestionably, very fine. Next, said everybody, "What a grand
discovery! Here is the finest work ever done, and it is quite free. Let
us all be free then, and what fine things shall we not do also!" With
what results we too well know.

Nevertheless, remember you are to delight in the freedom won by these
mighty men through obedience, though you are not to covet it. Obey, and
you also shall be free in time; but in these minor things, as well as in
great, it is only right service which is perfect freedom.

185. This, broadly, is the history of the early and late colour-schools.
The first of these I shall call generally, henceforward, the school of
crystal; the other that of clay: potter's clay, or human, are too
sorrowfully the same, as far as art is concerned. But remember, in
practice, you cannot follow both these schools; you must distinctly
adopt the principles of one or the other. I will put the means of
following either within your reach; and according to your dispositions
you will choose one or the other: all I have to guard you against is the
mistake of thinking you can unite the two. If you want to paint (even in
the most distant and feeble way) in the Greek School, the school of
Lionardo, Correggio, and Turner, you cannot design coloured windows, nor
Angelican paradises. If, on the other hand, you choose to live in the
peace of paradise, you cannot share in the gloomy triumphs of the earth.

186. And, incidentally note, as a practical matter of immediate
importance, that painted windows have nothing to do with
chiaroscuro.[14] The virtue of glass is to be transparent everywhere. If
you care to build a palace of jewels, painted glass is richer than all
the treasures of Aladdin's lamp; but if you like pictures better than
jewels, you must come into broad daylight to paint them. A picture in
coloured glass is one of the most vulgar of barbarisms, and only fit to
be ranked with the gauze transparencies and chemical illuminations of
the sensational stage.

[Footnote 14: There is noble chiaroscuro in the variations of their
colour, but not as representative of solid form.]

Also, put out of your minds at once all question about difficulty of
getting colour; in glass we have all the colours that are wanted, only
we do not know either how to choose, or how to connect them; and we are
always trying to get them bright, when their real virtues are to be
deep, mysterious, and subdued. We will have a thorough study of painted
glass soon: mean while I merely give you a type of its perfect style, in
two windows from Chalons-sur-Marne (S. 141).

187. But for my own part, with what poor gift and skill is in me, I
belong wholly to the chiaroscurist school; and shall teach you therefore
chiefly that which I am best able to teach: and the rather, that it is
only in this school that you can follow out the study either of natural
history or landscape. The form of a wild animal, or the wrath of a
mountain torrent, would both be revolting (or in a certain sense
invisible) to the calm fantasy of a painter in the schools of crystal.
He must lay his lion asleep in St. Jerome's study beside his tame
partridge and easy slippers; lead the appeased river by alternate azure
promontories, and restrain its courtly little streamlets with margins of
marble. But, on the other hand, your studies of mythology and literature
may best be connected with these schools of purest and calmest
imagination; and their discipline will be useful to you in yet another
direction, and that a very important one. It will teach you to take
delight in little things, and develop in you the joy which all men
should feel in purity and order, not only in pictures but in reality.
For, indeed, the best art of this school of fantasy may at last be in
reality, and the chiaroscurists, true in ideal, may be less helpful in
act. We cannot arrest sunsets nor carve mountains, but we may turn every
English homestead, if we choose, into a picture by Cima or John Bellini,
which shall be "no counterfeit, but the true and perfect image of life

188. For the present, however, and yet for some little time during your
progress, you will not have to choose your school. For both, as we have
seen, begin in delineation, and both proceed by filling flat spaces
with an even tint. And therefore this following will be the course of
work for you, founded on all that we have seen.

Having learned to measure, and draw a pen line with some steadiness (the
geometrical exercises for this purpose being properly school, not
University work), you shall have a series of studies from the plants
which are of chief importance in the history of art; first from their
real forms, and then from the conventional and heraldic expressions of
them; then we will take examples of the filling of ornamental forms with
flat colour in Egyptian, Greek, and Gothic design; and then we will
advance to animal forms treated in the same severe way, and so to the
patterns and colour designs on animals themselves. And when we are sure
of our firmness of hand and accuracy of eye, we will go on into light
and shade.

189. In process of time, this series of exercises will, I hope, be
sufficiently complete and systematic to show its purpose at a glance.
But during the present year, I shall content myself with placing a few
examples of these different kinds of practice in your rooms for work,
explaining in the catalogue the position they will ultimately occupy,
and the technical points of process into which it is useless to enter in
a general lecture. After a little time spent in copying these, your own
predilections must determine your future course of study; only remember,
whatever school you follow, it must be only to learn method, not to
imitate result, and to acquaint yourself with the minds of other men,
but not to adopt them as your own. Be assured that no good can come of
our work but as it arises simply out of our own true natures, and the
necessities of the time around us, though in many respects an evil one.
We live in an age of base conceit and baser servility--an age whose
intellect is chiefly formed by pillage, and occupied in desecration; one
day mimicking, the next destroying, the works of all the noble persons
who made its intellectual or art life possible to it:--an age without
honest confidence enough in itself to carve a cherry-stone with an
original fancy, but with insolence enough to abolish the solar system,
if it were allowed to meddle with it.[15] In the midst of all this, you
have to become lowly and strong; to recognise the powers of others and
to fulfil your own. I shall try to bring before you every form of
ancient art, that you may read and profit by it, not imitate it. You
shall draw Egyptian kings dressed in colours like the rainbow, and Doric
gods, and Runic monsters, and Gothic monks--not that you may draw like
Egyptians or Norsemen, nor yield yourselves passively to be bound by the
devotion, or inspired by the passion of the past, but that you may know
truly what other men have felt during their poor span of life; and open
your own hearts to what the heavens and earth may have to tell you in

[Footnote 15: Every day these bitter words become more sorrowfully true
(September, 1887).]

190. In closing this first course of lectures, I have one word more to
say respecting the possible consequence of the introduction of art among
the studies of the University. What art may do for scholarship, I have
no right to conjecture; but what scholarship may do for art, I may in
all modesty tell you. Hitherto, great artists, though always gentlemen,
have yet been too exclusively craftsmen. Art has been less thoughtful
than we suppose; it has taught much, but erred much, also. Many of the
greatest pictures are enigmas; others, beautiful toys; others, harmful
and corrupting enchantments. In the loveliest, there is something weak;
in the greatest, there is something guilty. And this, gentlemen, if you
will, is the new thing that may come to pass,--that the scholars of
England may resolve to teach also with the silent power of the arts; and
that some among you may so learn and use them, that pictures may be
painted which shall not be enigmas any more, but open teachings of what
can no otherwise be so well shown;--which shall not be fevered or broken
visions any more, but filled with the indwelling light of self-possessed
imagination;--which shall not be stained or enfeebled any more by evil
passion, but glorious with the strength and chastity of noble human
love;--and which shall no more degrade or disguise the work of God in
heaven, but testify of Him as here dwelling with men, and walking with
them, not angry, in the garden of the earth.

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