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Title: On the Old Road  Vol. 1  (of 2) - A Collection of Miscellaneous Essays and Articles on Art and Literature
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On the Old Road  Vol. 1  (of 2) - A Collection of Miscellaneous Essays and Articles on Art and Literature" ***

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[Illustration: RUSKIN'S MONUMENT




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PUBLISHED 1834-1885.

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   INTRODUCTORY.                                                    PAGE

   MY FIRST EDITOR. 1878                                               3


        LORD LINDSAY'S "CHRISTIAN ART." 1847                          17
        EASTLAKE'S "HISTORY OF OIL PAINTING." 1848                    97
        SAMUEL PROUT. 1849                                           148
        SIR JOSHUA AND HOLBEIN. 1860                                 158

        ITS PRINCIPLES, AND TURNER. 1851                             171
        ITS THREE COLORS. 1878                                       218

        THE OPENING OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE. 1854                      245
        THE STUDY OF ARCHITECTURE IN OUR SCHOOLS. 1865               259


   V. THE CESTUS OF AGLAIA. 1865-66                                  305

       *       *       *       *       *






       *       *       *       *       *




   (_University Magazine, April 1878._)

       *       *       *       *       *



   _1st February, 1878._

1. In seven days more I shall be fifty-nine;--which (practically) is all
the same as sixty; but, being asked by the wife of my dear old friend,
W. H. Harrison, to say a few words of our old relations together, I find
myself, in spite of all these years, a boy again,--partly in the mere
thought of, and renewed sympathy with, the cheerful heart of my old
literary master, and partly in instinctive terror lest, wherever he is
in celestial circles, he should catch me writing bad grammar, or putting
wrong stops, and should set the table turning, or the like. For he was
inexorable in such matters, and many a sentence in "Modern Painters,"
which I had thought quite beautifully turned out after a forenoon's work
on it, had to be turned outside-in, after all, and cut into the smallest
pieces and sewn up again, because he had found out there wasn't a
nominative in it, or a genitive, or a conjunction, or something else
indispensable to a sentence's decent existence and position in life. Not
a book of mine, for good thirty years, but went, every word of it, under
his careful eyes twice over--often also the last revises left to his
tender mercy altogether on condition he wouldn't bother me any more.

2. "For good thirty years": that is to say, from my first verse-writing
in "Friendship's Offering" at fifteen, to my last orthodox and
conservative compositions at forty-five.[2] But when I began to utter
radical sentiments, and say things derogatory to the clergy, my old
friend got quite restive--absolutely refused sometimes to pass even my
most grammatical and punctuated paragraphs, if their contents savored of
heresy or revolution; and at last I was obliged to print all my
philanthropy and political economy on the sly.

3. The heaven of the literary world through which Mr. Harrison moved in
a widely cometary fashion, circling now round one luminary and now
submitting to the attraction of another, not without a serenely
erubescent luster of his own, differed _toto coelo_ from the celestial
state of authorship by whose courses we have now the felicity of being
dazzled and directed. Then, the publications of the months being very
nearly concluded in the modest browns of _Blackwood_ and _Fraser_, and
the majesty of the quarterlies being above the range of the properly
so-called "public" mind, the simple family circle looked forward with
chief complacency to their New Year's gift of the Annual--a delicately
printed, lustrously bound, and elaborately illustrated small octavo
volume, representing, after its manner, the poetical and artistic
inspiration of the age. It is not a little wonderful to me, looking back
to those pleasant years and their bestowings, to measure the difficultly
imaginable distance between the periodical literature of that day and
ours. In a few words, it may be summed by saying that the ancient Annual
was written by meekly-minded persons, who felt that they knew nothing
about anything, and did not want to know more. Faith in the usually
accepted principles of propriety, and confidence in the Funds, the
Queen, the English Church, the British Army and the perennial
continuance of England, of her Annuals, and of the creation in general,
were necessary then for the eligibility, and important elements in the
success, of the winter-blowing author. Whereas I suppose that the
popularity of our present candidates for praise, at the successive
changes of the moon, may be considered as almost proportionate to their
confidence in the abstract principles of dissolution, the immediate
necessity of change, and the inconvenience, no less than the iniquity,
of attributing any authority to the Church, the Queen, the Almighty, or
anything else but the British Press. Such constitutional differences in
the tone of the literary contents imply still greater contrasts in the
lives of the editors of these several periodicals. It was enough for the
editor of the "Friendship's Offering" if he could gather for his
Christmas bouquet a little pastoral story, suppose, by Miss Mitford, a
dramatic sketch by the Rev. George Croly, a few sonnets or impromptu
stanzas to music by the gentlest lovers and maidens of his acquaintance,
and a legend of the Apennines or romance of the Pyrenees by some
adventurous traveler who had penetrated into the recesses of their
mountains, and would modify the traditions of the country to introduce a
plate by Clarkson Stanfield or J. D. Harding. Whereas nowadays the
editor of a leading monthly is responsible to his readers for exhaustive
views of the politics of Europe during the last fortnight; and would
think himself distanced in the race with his lunarian rivals, if his
numbers did not contain three distinct and entirely new theories of the
system of the universe, and at least one hitherto unobserved piece of
evidence of the nonentity of God.

4. In one respect, however, the humilities of that departed time were
loftier than the prides of to-day--that even the most retiring of its
authors expected to be admired, not for what he had discovered, but for
what he was. It did not matter in our dynasties of determined noblesse
how many things an industrious blockhead knew, or how curious things a
lucky booby had discovered. We claimed, and gave no honor but for real
rank of human sense and wit; and although this manner of estimate led to
many various collateral mischiefs--to much toleration of misconduct in
persons who were amusing, and of uselessness in those of proved ability,
there was yet the essential and constant good in it, that no one hoped
to snap up for himself a reputation which his friend was on the point of
achieving, and that even the meanest envy of merit was not embittered by
a gambler's grudge at his neighbor's fortune.

5. Into this incorruptible court of literature I was early brought,
whether by good or evil hap, I know not; certainly by no very deliberate
wisdom in my friends or myself. A certain capacity for rhythmic cadence
(visible enough in all my later writings) and the cheerfulness of a much
protected, but not foolishly indulged childhood, made me early a
rhymester; and a shelf of the little cabinet by which I am now writing
is loaded with poetical effusions which were the delight of my father
and mother, and I have not yet the heart to burn. A worthy Scottish
friend of my father's, Thomas Pringle, preceded Mr. Harrison in the
editorship of "Friendship's Offering," and doubtfully, but with
benignant sympathy, admitted the dazzling hope that one day rhymes of
mine might be seen in real print, on those amiable and shining pages.

6. My introduction by Mr. Pringle to the poet Rogers, on the ground of
my admiration of the recently published "Italy," proved, as far as I
remember, slightly disappointing to the poet, because it appeared on Mr.
Pringle's unadvised cross-examination of me in the presence that I knew
more of the vignettes than the verses; and also slightly discouraging to
me because, this contretemps necessitating an immediate change of
subject, I thenceforward understood none of the conversation, and when
we came away was rebuked by Mr. Pringle for not attending to it. Had his
grave authority been maintained over me, my literary bloom would
probably have been early nipped; but he passed away into the African
deserts; and the Favonian breezes of Mr. Harrison's praise revived my
drooping ambition.

7. I know not whether most in that ambition, or to please my father, I
now began seriously to cultivate my skill in expression. I had always an
instinct of possessing considerable word-power; and the series of essays
written about this time for the _Architectural Magazine_, under the
signature of Kata Phusin, contain sentences nearly as well put together
as any I have done since. But without Mr. Harrison's ready praise, and
severe punctuation, I should have either tired of my labor, or lost it;
as it was, though I shall always think those early years might have been
better spent, they had their reward. As soon as I had anything really to
say, I was able sufficiently to say it; and under Mr. Harrison's
cheerful auspices, and balmy consolations of my father under adverse
criticism, the first volume of "Modern Painters" established itself in
public opinion, and determined the tenor of my future life.

8. Thus began a friendship, and in no unreal sense, even a family
relationship, between Mr. Harrison, my father and mother, and me, in
which there was no alloy whatsoever of distrust or displeasure on either
side, but which remained faithful and loving, more and more conducive to
every sort of happiness among us, to the day of my father's death.

But the joyfulest days of it for _us_, and chiefly for me, cheered with
concurrent sympathy from other friends--of whom only one now is
left--were in the triumphal Olympiad of years which followed the
publication of the second volume of "Modern Painters," when Turner
himself had given to me his thanks, to my father and mother his true
friendship, and came always for _their_ honor, to keep my birthday with
them; the constant dinner party of the day remaining in its perfect
chaplet from 1844 to 1850,--Turner, Mr. Thomas Richmond, Mr. George
Richmond, Samuel Prout, and Mr. Harrison.

9. Mr. Harrison, as my literary godfather, who had held me at the Font
of the Muses, and was answerable to the company for my moral principles
and my syntax, always made "the speech"; my father used most often to
answer for me in few words, but with wet eyes: (there was a general
understanding that any good or sorrow that might come to me in literary
life were infinitely more his) and the two Mr. Richmonds held themselves
responsible to him for my at least moderately decent orthodoxy in art,
taking in that matter a tenderly inquisitorial function, and warning my
father solemnly of two dangerous heresies in the bud, and of things
really passing the possibilities of the indulgence of the Church, said
against Claude or Michael Angelo. The death of Turner and other things,
far more sad than death, clouded those early days, but the memory of
them returned again after I had well won my second victory with the
"Stones of Venice"; and the two Mr. Richmonds, and Mr. Harrison, and my
father, were again happy on my birthday, and so to the end.

10. In a far deeper sense than he himself knew, Mr. Harrison was all
this time influencing my thoughts and opinions, by the entire
consistency, contentment, and practical sense of his modest life. My
father and he were both flawless types of the true London citizen of
olden days: incorruptible, proud with sacred and simple pride, happy in
their function and position; putting daily their total energy into the
detail of their business duties, and finding daily a refined and perfect
pleasure in the hearth-side poetry of domestic life. Both of them, in
their hearts, as romantic as girls; both of them inflexible as soldier
recruits in any matter of probity and honor, in business or out of it;
both of them utterly hating radical newspapers, and devoted to the House
of Lords; my father only, it seemed to me, slightly failing in his
loyalty to the Worshipful the Mayor and Corporation of London. This
disrespect for civic dignity was connected in my father with some little
gnawing of discomfort--deep down in his heart--in his own position as a
merchant, and with timidly indulged hope that his son might one day move
in higher spheres; whereas Mr. Harrison was entirely placid and resigned
to the will of Providence which had appointed him his desk in the Crown
Life Office, never in his most romantic visions projected a marriage for
any of his daughters with a British baronet or a German count, and
pinned his little vanities prettily and openly on his breast, like a
nosegay, when he went out to dinner. Most especially he shone at the
Literary Fund, where he was Registrar and had proper official relations,
therefore, always with the Chairman, Lord Mahon, or Lord Houghton, or
the Bishop of Winchester, or some other magnificent person of that sort,
with whom it was Mr. Harrison's supremest felicity to exchange a not
unfrequent little joke--like a pinch of snuff--and to indicate for them
the shoals to be avoided and the channels to be followed with flowing
sail in the speech of the year; after which, if perchance there were any
malignant in the company who took objection, suppose, to the claims of
the author last relieved, to the charity of the Society, or to any claim
founded on the production of a tale for _Blackwood's Magazine_, and of
two sonnets for "Friendship's Offering"; or if perchance there were any
festering sharp thorn in Mr. Harrison's side in the shape of some
distinguished radical, Sir Charles Dilke, or Mr. Dickens, or anybody who
had ever said anything against taxation, or the Post Office, or the
Court of Chancery, or the Bench of Bishops,--then would Mr. Harrison, if
he had full faith in his Chairman, cunningly arrange with him some
delicate little extinctive operation to be performed on that malignant
or that radical in the course of the evening, and would relate to us
exultingly the next day all the incidents of the power of arms, and
vindictively (for him) dwell on the barbed points and double edge of the
beautiful episcopalian repartee with which it was terminated.

11. Very seriously, in all such public duties, Mr. Harrison was a person
of rarest quality and worth; absolutely disinterested in his zeal,
unwearied in exertion, always ready, never tiresome, never absurd;
bringing practical sense, kindly discretion, and a most wholesome
element of good-humored, but incorruptible honesty, into everything his
hand found to do. Everybody respected, and the best men sincerely
regarded him, and I think those who knew most of the world were always
the first to acknowledge his fine faculty of doing exactly the right
thing to exactly the right point--and so pleasantly. In private life, he
was to me an object of quite special admiration, in the quantity of
pleasure he could take in little things; and he very materially modified
many of my gravest conclusions, as to the advantages or mischiefs of
modern suburban life. To myself scarcely any dwelling-place and duty in
this world would have appeared (until, perhaps, I had tried them) less
eligible for a man of sensitive and fanciful mind than the New Road,
Camberwell Green, and the monotonous office work in Bridge Street. And
to a certain extent, I am still of the same mind as to these matters,
and do altogether, and without doubt or hesitation, repudiate the
existence of New Road and Camberwell Green in general, no less than the
condemnation of intelligent persons to a routine of clerk's work broken
only by a three weeks' holiday in the decline of the year. On less
lively, fanciful, and amiable persons than my old friend, the New Road
and the daily desk do verily exercise a degrading and much to be
regretted influence. But Mr. Harrison brought the freshness of pastoral
simplicity into the most faded corners of the Green, lightened with his
cheerful heart the most leaden hours of the office, and gathered during
his three weeks' holiday in the neighborhood, suppose, of Guildford,
Gravesend, Broadstairs, or Rustington, more vital recreation and
speculative philosophy than another man would have got on the grand

12. On the other hand, I, who had nothing to do all day but what I
liked, and could wander at will among all the best beauties of the
globe--nor that without sufficient power to see and to feel them, was
habitually a discontented person, and frequently a weary one; and the
reproachful thought which always rose in my mind when in that
unconquerable listlessness of surfeit from excitement I found myself
unable to win even a momentary pleasure from the fairest scene, was
always: "If but Mr. Harrison were here instead of me!"

13. Many and many a time I planned very seriously the beguiling of him
over the water. But there was always something to be done in a
hurry--something to be worked out--something to be seen, as I thought,
only in my own quiet way. I believe if I had but had the sense to take
my old friend with me, he would have shown me ever so much more than I
found out by myself. But it was not to be; and year after year I went to
grumble and mope at Venice, or Lago Maggiore; and Mr. Harrison to enjoy
himself from morning to night at Broadstairs or Box Hill. Let me not
speak with disdain of either. No blue languor of tideless wave is worth
the spray and sparkle of a South-Eastern English beach, and no one will
ever rightly enjoy the pines of the Wengern Alp who despises the boxes
of Box Hill.

Nay, I remember me of a little rapture of George Richmond himself on
those fair slopes of sunny sward, ending in a vision of Tobit and his
dog--no less--led up there by the helpful angel. (I have always
wondered, by the way, whether that blessed dog minded what the angel
said to him.)

14. But Mr. Harrison was independent of these mere ethereal visions, and
surrounded himself only with a halo of sublunary beatitude. Welcome
always he, as on his side frankly coming to be well, with the farmer,
the squire, the rector, the--I had like to have said, dissenting
minister, but I think Mr. Harrison usually evaded villages for summer
domicile which were in any wise open to suspicion of Dissent in the
air,--but with hunting rector, and the High Church curate, and the
rector's daughters, and the curate's mother--and the landlord of the Red
Lion, and the hostler of the Red Lion stables, and the tapster of the
Pig and Whistle, and all the pigs in the backyard, and all the whistlers
in the street--whether for want of thought or for gayety of it, and all
the geese on the common, ducks in the horse-pond, and daws in the
steeple, Mr. Harrison was known and beloved by every bird and body of
them before half his holiday was over, and the rest of it was mere
exuberance of festivity about him, and applauding coronation of his head
and heart. Above all, he delighted in the ways of animals and children.
He wrote a birthday ode--or at least a tumble-out-of-the-nest-day
ode--to our pet rook, Grip, which encouraged that bird in taking such
liberties with the cook, and in addressing so many impertinences to the
other servants, that he became the mere plague, or as the French would
express it, the "Black-beast," of the kitchen at Denmark Hill for the
rest of his life. There was almost always a diary kept, usually, I
think, in rhyme, of those summer hours of indolence; and when at last it
was recognized, in due and reverent way, at the Crown Life Office, that
indeed the time had drawn near when its constant and faithful servant
should be allowed to rest, it was perhaps not the least of my friend's
praiseworthy and gentle gifts to be truly capable of rest; withdrawing
himself into the memories of his useful and benevolent life, and making
it truly a holiday in its honored evening. The idea then occurred to him
(and it was now my turn to press with hearty sympathy the sometimes
intermitted task) of writing these Reminiscences: valuable--valuable to
whom, and for what, I begin to wonder.

15. For indeed these memories are of people who are passed away like the
snow in harvest; and now, with the sharp-sickle reapers of full shocks
of the fattening wheat of metaphysics, and fair novelists Ruth-like in
the fields of barley, or more mischievously coming through the
rye,--what will the public, so vigorously sustained by these, care to
hear of the lovely writers of old days, quaint creatures that they
were?--Merry Miss Mitford, actually living in the country, actually
walking in it, loving it, and finding history enough in the life of the
butcher's boy, and romance enough in the story of the miller's daughter,
to occupy all her mind with, innocent of troubles concerning the Turkish
question; steady-going old Barham, confessing nobody but the Jackdaw of
Rheims, and fearless alike of Ritualism, Darwinism, or disestablishment;
iridescent clearness of Thomas Hood--the wildest, deepest infinity of
marvelously jestful men; manly and rational Sydney, inevitable,
infallible, inoffensively wise of wit;[3]--they are gone their way, and
ours is far diverse; and they and all the less-known, yet pleasantly and
brightly endowed spirits of that time, are suddenly as unintelligible to
us as the Etruscans--not a feeling they had that we can share in; and
these pictures of them will be to us valuable only as the sculpture
under the niches far in the shade there of the old parish church, dimly
vital images of inconceivable creatures whom we shall never see the like
of more.


[1] This paper was written as a preface to a series of "Reminiscences"
from the pen of the late Mr. W. H. Harrison, commenced in the
_University Magazine_ of May 1878. It was separately printed in that
magazine in the preceding month, but owing to Mr. Ruskin's illness at
the time, he was unable to see it through the press. A letter from Mr.
Ruskin to Mr. Harrison, printed in "Arrows of the Chace," may be found
of interest in connection with the opening statements of this

[2] "Friendship's Offering" of 1835 included two poems, signed "J. R.,"
and entitled "Saltzburg" and "Fragments from a Metrical Journal;
Andernacht and St. Goar."--[ED.]

[3] In the "Life and Times of Sydney Smith," by Stuart J. Reid (London,
1884, p. 374), appears a letter addressed to the author by Mr. Ruskin,
to whom the book is dedicated:--

                                 "OXFORD, _Nov. 15th, 1883_.

"MY DEAR SIR,--I wanted to tell you what deep respect I had for Sydney
Smith; but my time has been cut to pieces ever since your note reached
me. He was the first in the literary circles of London to assert the
value of 'Modern Painters,' and he has always seemed to me equally
keen-sighted and generous in his estimate of literary efforts. His
'Moral Philosophy' is the only book on the subject which I care that my
pupils should read, and there is no man (whom I have not personally
known) whose image is so vivid in my constant affection.--Ever your
faithful servant,

                                       "JOHN RUSKIN."--[ED.]

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   (_Quarterly Review, June 1847._)


   (_Quarterly Review, March 1848._)


   (_Art Journal, March 1849._)


   (_Cornhill Magazine, March 1860._)

       *       *       *       *       *



16. There is, perhaps, no phenomenon connected with the history of the
first half of the nineteenth century, which will become a subject of
more curious investigation in after ages, than the coincident
development of the Critical faculty, and extinction of the Arts of
Design. Our mechanical energies, vast though they be, are not singular
nor characteristic; such, and so great, have before been manifested--and
it may perhaps be recorded of us with wonder rather than respect, that
we pierced mountains and excavated valleys, only to emulate the activity
of the gnat and the swiftness of the swallow. Our discoveries in
science, however accelerated or comprehensive, are but the necessary
development of the more wonderful reachings into vacancy of past
centuries; and they who struck the piles of the bridge of Chaos will
arrest the eyes of Futurity rather than we builders of its towers and
gates--theirs the authority of Light, ours but the ordering of courses
to the Sun and Moon.

17. But the Negative character of the age is distinctive.
There has not before appeared a race like that of civilized
Europe at this day, thoughtfully unproductive of all
art--ambitious--industrious--investigative--reflective, and incapable.
Disdained by the savage, or scattered by the soldier, dishonored by the
voluptuary, or forbidden by the fanatic, the arts have not, till now,
been extinguished by analysis and paralyzed by protection. Our
lecturers, learned in history, exhibit the descents of excellence from
school to school, and clear from doubt the pedigrees of powers which
they cannot re-establish, and of virtues no more to be revived: the
scholar is early acquainted with every department of the Impossible, and
expresses in proper terms his sense of the deficiencies of Titian and
the errors of Michael Angelo: the metaphysician weaves from field to
field his analogies of gossamer, which shake and glitter fairly in the
sun, but must be torn asunder by the first plow that passes: geometry
measures out, by line and rule, the light which is to illustrate
heroism, and the shadow which should veil distress; and anatomy counts
muscles, and systematizes motion, in the wrestling of Genius with its
angel. Nor is ingenuity wanting--nor patience; apprehension was never
more ready, nor execution more exact--yet nothing is of us, or in us,
accomplished;--the treasures of our wealth and will are spent in
vain--our cares are as clouds without water--our creations fruitless and
perishable; the succeeding Age will trample "sopra lor vanita che par
persona," and point wonderingly back to the strange colorless tessera in
the mosaic of human mind.

18. No previous example can be shown, in the career of nations not
altogether nomad or barbarous, of so total an absence of invention,--of
any material representation of the mind's inward yearning and desire,
seen, as soon as shaped, to be, though imperfect, in its essence good,
and worthy to be rested in with contentment, and consisting
self-approval--the Sabbath of contemplation which confesses and
confirms the majesty of a style. All but ourselves have had this in
measure; the Imagination has stirred herself in proportion to the
requirements, capacity, and energy of each race: reckless or pensive,
soaring or frivolous, still she has had life and influence; sometimes
aiming at Heaven with brick for stone and slime for mortar--anon bound
down to painting of porcelain, and carving of ivory, but always with an
inward consciousness of power which might indeed be palsied or
imprisoned, but not in operation vain. Altars have been rent,
many--ashes poured out,--hands withered--but we alone have worshiped,
and received no answer--the pieces left in order upon the wood, and our
names writ in the water that runs roundabout the trench.

19. It is easier to conceive than to enumerate the many circumstances
which are herein against us, necessarily, and exclusive of all that
wisdom might avoid, or resolution vanquish. First, the weight of mere
numbers, among whom ease of communication rather renders opposition of
judgment fatal, than agreement probable; looking from England to Attica,
or from Germany to Tuscany, we may remember to what good purpose it was
said that the magnetism of iron was found not in bars, but in needles.
Together with this adversity of number comes the likelihood of many
among the more available intellects being held back and belated in the
crowd, or else prematurely outwearied; for it now needs both curious
fortune and vigorous effort to give to any, even the greatest, such
early positions of eminence and audience as may feed their force with
advantage; so that men spend their strength in opening circles, and
crying for place, and only come to speech of us with broken voices and
shortened time. Then follows the diminution of importance in peculiar
places and public edifices, as they engage national affection or vanity;
no single city can now take such queenly lead as that the pride of the
whole body of the people shall be involved in adorning her; the
buildings of London or Munich are not charged with the fullness of the
national heart as were the domes of Pisa and Florence:--their credit or
shame is metropolitan, not acropolitan; central at the best, not
dominant; and this is one of the chief modes in which the cessation of
superstition, so far as it has taken place, has been of evil consequence
to art, that the observance of local sanctities being abolished,
meanness and mistake are anywhere allowed of, and the thoughts and
wealth which were devoted and expended to good purpose in one place, are
now distracted and scattered to utter unavailableness.

20. In proportion to the increasing spirituality of religion, the
conception of worthiness in material offering ceases, and with it the
sense of beauty in the evidence of votive labor; machine-work is
substituted for handwork, as if the value of ornament consisted in the
mere multiplication of agreeable forms, instead of in the evidence of
human care and thought and love about the separate stones;
and--machine-work once tolerated--the eye itself soon loses its sense of
this very evidence, and no more perceives the difference between the
blind accuracy of the engine, and the bright, strange play of the living
stroke--a difference as great as between the form of a stone pillar and
a springing fountain. And on this blindness follow all errors and
abuses--hollowness and slightness of framework, speciousness of surface
ornament, concealed structure, imitated materials, and types of form
borrowed from things noble for things base; and all these abuses must be
resisted with the more caution, and less success, because in many ways
they are signs or consequences of improvement, and are associated both
with purer forms of religious feeling and with more general diffusion of
refinements and comforts; and especially because we are critically aware
of all our deficiencies, too cognizant of all that is greatest to pass
willingly and humbly through the stages that rise to it, and oppressed
in every honest effort by the bitter sense of inferiority. In every
previous development the power has been in advance of the consciousness,
the resources more abundant than the knowledge--the energy irresistible,
the discipline imperfect. The light that led was narrow and
dim--streakings of dawn--but it fell with kindly gentleness on eyes
newly awakened out of sleep. But we are now aroused suddenly in the
light of an intolerable day--our limbs fail under the sunstroke--we are
walled in by the great buildings of elder times, and their fierce
reverberation falls upon us without pause, in our feverish and
oppressive consciousness of captivity; we are laid bedridden at the
Beautiful Gate, and all our hope must rest in acceptance of the "such as
I have," of the passers by.

21. The frequent and firm, yet modest expression of this hope, gives
peculiar value to Lord Lindsay's book on Christian Art; for it is seldom
that a grasp of antiquity so comprehensive, and a regard for it so
affectionate, have consisted with aught but gloomy foreboding with
respect to our own times. As a contribution to the History of Art, his
work is unquestionably the most valuable which has yet appeared in
England. His research has been unwearied; he has availed himself of the
best results of German investigation--his own acuteness of discernment
in cases of approximating or derivative style is considerable--and he
has set before the English reader an outline of the relations of the
primitive schools of Sacred art which we think so thoroughly verified in
all its more important ramifications, that, with whatever richness of
detail the labor of succeeding writers may illustrate them, the leading
lines of Lord Lindsay's chart will always henceforth be followed. The
feeling which pervades the whole book is chastened, serious, and full of
reverence for the strength ordained out of the lips of infant
Art--accepting on its own terms its simplest teaching, sympathizing with
all kindness in its unreasoning faith; the writer evidently looking back
with most joy and thankfulness to hours passed in gazing upon the faded
and faint touches of feeble hands, and listening through the stillness
of uninvaded cloisters for fall of voices now almost spent; yet he is
never contracted into the bigot, nor inflamed into the enthusiast; he
never loses his memory of the outside world, never quits nor compromises
his severe and reflective Protestantism, never gives ground of offense
by despite or forgetfulness of any order of merit or period of effort.
And the tone of his address to our present schools is therefore neither
scornful nor peremptory; his hope, consisting with full apprehension of
all that we have lost, is based on a strict and stern estimate of our
power, position, and resource, compelling the assent even of the least
sanguine to his expectancy of the revelation of a new world of Spiritual
Beauty, of which whosoever

       *       *       *

"will dedicate his talents, as the bondsman of love, to his Redeemer's
glory and the good of mankind, may become the priest and interpreter, by
adopting in the first instance, and re-issuing with that outward
investiture which the assiduous study of all that is beautiful, either
in Grecian sculpture, or the later but less spiritual schools of
painting, has enabled him to supply, such of its bright ideas as he
finds imprisoned in the early and imperfect efforts of art--and
secondly, by exploring further on his own account in the untrodden
realms of feeling that lie before him, and calling into palpable
existence visions as bright, as pure, and as immortal as those that have
already, in the golden days of Raphael and Perugino, obeyed their
creative mandate, Live!" (Vol. iii., p. 422).[5]

       *       *       *

22. But while we thus defer to the discrimination, respect the feeling,
and join in the hope of the author, we earnestly deprecate the frequent
assertion, as we entirely deny the accuracy or propriety, of the
metaphysical analogies, in accordance with which his work has unhappily
been arranged. Though these had been as carefully, as they are crudely,
considered, it had still been no light error of judgment to thrust them
with dogmatism so abrupt into the forefront of a work whose purpose is
assuredly as much to win to the truth as to demonstrate it. The writer
has apparently forgotten that of the men to whom he must primarily look
for the working out of his anticipations, the most part are of limited
knowledge and inveterate habit, men dexterous in practice, idle in
thought; many of them compelled by ill-ordered patronage into directions
of exertion at variance with their own best impulses, and regarding
their art only as a means of life; all of them conscious of practical
difficulties which the critic is too apt to under-estimate, and probably
remembering disappointments of early effort rude enough to chill the
most earnest heart. The shallow amateurship of the circle of their
patrons early disgusts them with theories; they shrink back to the hard
teaching of their own industry, and would rather read the book which
facilitated their methods than the one that rationalized their aims.
Noble exceptions there are, and more than might be deemed; but the labor
spent in contest with executive difficulties renders even these better
men unapt receivers of a system which looks with little respect on such
achievement, and shrewd discerners of the parts of such system which
have been feebly rooted, or fancifully reared. Their attention should
have been attracted both by clearness and kindness of promise; their
impatience prevented by close reasoning and severe proof of every
statement which might seem transcendental. Altogether void of such
consideration or care, Lord Lindsay never even so much as states the
meaning or purpose of his appeal, but, clasping his hands desperately
over his head, disappears on the instant in an abyss of curious and
unsupported assertions of the philosophy of human nature: reappearing
only, like a breathless diver, in the third page, to deprecate the
surprise of the reader whom he has never addressed, at a conviction
which he has never stated; and again vanishing ere we can well look him
in the face, among the frankincensed clouds of Christian mythology:
filling the greater part of his first volume with a _résumé_ of its
symbols and traditions, yet never vouchsafing the slightest hint of the
objects for which they are assembled, or the amount of credence with
which he would have them regarded; and so proceeds to the historical
portion of the book, leaving the whole theory which is its key to be
painfully gathered from scattered passages, and in great part from the
mere form of enumeration adopted in the preliminary chart of the
schools; and giving as yet account only of that period to which the mere
artist looks with least interest--while the work, even when completed,
will be nothing more than a single pinnacle of the historical edifice
whose ground-plan is laid in the preceding essay, "Progression by
Antagonism":--a plan, by the author's confession, "too extensive for his
own, or any single hand to execute," yet without the understanding of
whose main relations it is impossible to receive the intended teaching
of the completed portion.

23. It is generally easier to plan what is beyond the reach of others
than to execute what is within our own; and it had been well if the
range of this introductory essay had been something less extensive, and
its reasoning more careful. Its search after truth is honest and
impetuous, and its results would have appeared as interesting as they
are indeed valuable, had they but been arranged with ordinary
perspicuity, and represented in simple terms. But the writer's evil
genius pursues him; the demand for exertion of thought is remorseless,
and continuous throughout, and the statements of theoretical principle
as short, scattered, and obscure, as they are bold. We question whether
many readers may not be utterly appalled by the aspect of an "Analysis
of Human Nature"--the first task proposed to them by our intellectual
Eurystheus--to be accomplished in the space of six semi-pages, followed
in the seventh by the "Development of the Individual Man," and applied
in the eighth to a "General Classification of Individuals": and we
infinitely marvel that our author should have thought it unnecessary to
support or explain a division of the mental attributes on which the
treatment of his entire subject afterwards depends, and whose terms are
repeated in every following page to the very dazzling of eye and
deadening of ear (a division, we regret to say, as illogical as it is
purposeless), otherwise than by a laconic reference to the assumptions
of Phrenology.

"The Individual Man, or Man considered by himself as an unit in
creation, is compounded of three distinct primary elements.

     1. Sense, or the animal frame, with its passions or affections;

     2. Mind or Intellect;--of which the distinguishing
     faculties--rarely, if ever, equally balanced, and by their
     respective predominance determinative of his whole character,
     conduct, and views of life--are,

     i. Imagination, the discerner of Beauty,--

     ii. Reason, the discerner of Truth,--

     the former animating and informing the world of Sense or Matter,
     the latter finding her proper home in the world of abstract or
     immaterial existences --the former receiving the impress of things
     Objectively, or _ab externo_, the latter impressing its own ideas
     on them Subjectively, or _ab interno_--the former a feminine or
     passive, the latter a masculine or active principle; and

     iii. Spirit--the Moral or Immortal principle, ruling through the
     Will, and breathed into Man by the Breath of God."--"Progression
     by Antagonism," pp. 2, 3.

24. On what authority does the writer assume that the moral is alone the
_Immortal_ principle--or the only part of the human nature bestowed by
the breath of God? Are imagination, then, and reason perishable? Is the
Body itself? Are not all alike immortal; and when distinction is to be
made among them, is not the first great division between their active
and passive immortality, between the supported body and supporting
spirit; that spirit itself afterwards rather conveniently to be
considered as either exercising intellectual function, or receiving
moral influence, and, both in power and passiveness, deriving its energy
and sensibility alike from the sustaining breath of God--than actually
divided into intellectual and moral parts? For if the distinction
between us and the brute be the test of the nature of the living soul by
that breath conferred, it is assuredly to be found as much in the
imagination as in the moral principle. There is but one of the moral
sentiments enumerated by Lord Lindsay, the sign of which is absent in
the animal creation:--the enumeration is a bald one, but let it serve
the turn--"Self-esteem and love of Approbation," eminent in horse and
dog; "Firmness," not wanting either to ant or elephant; "Veneration,"
distinct as far as the superiority of man can by brutal intellect be
comprehended; "Hope," developed as far as its objects can be made
visible; and "Benevolence," or Love, the highest of all, the most
assured of all--together with all the modifications of opposite feeling,
rage, jealousy, habitual malice, even love of mischief and comprehension
of jest:--the one only moral sentiment wanting being that of
responsibility to an Invisible being, or conscientiousness. But where,
among brutes, shall we find the slightest trace of the Imaginative
faculty, or of that discernment of beauty which our author most
inaccurately confounds with it, or of the discipline of memory, grasping
this or that circumstance at will, or of the still nobler foresight of,
and respect towards, things future, except only instinctive and

25. The fact is, that it is not in intellect added to the bodily sense,
nor in moral sentiment superadded to the intellect, that the essential
difference between brute and man consists: but in the elevation of all
three to that point at which each becomes capable of communion with the
Deity, and worthy therefore of eternal life;--the body more universal as
an instrument--more exquisite in its sense--this last character carried
out in the eye and ear to the perception of Beauty, in form, sound, and
color--and herein distinctively raised above the brutal sense;
intellect, as we have said, peculiarly separating and vast; the moral
sentiments like in essence, but boundlessly expanded, as attached to an
infinite object, and laboring in an infinite field: each part mortal in
its shortcoming, immortal in the accomplishment of its perfection and
purpose; the opposition which we at first broadly expressed as between
body and spirit, being more strictly between the natural and spiritual
condition of the entire creature--body natural, sown in death, body
spiritual, raised in incorruption: Intellect natural, leading to
skepticism; intellect spiritual, expanding into faith: Passion natural,
suffered from things spiritual; passion spiritual, centered on things
unseen: and the strife or antagonism which is throughout the subject of
Lord Lindsay's proof, is not, as he has stated it, between the moral,
intellectual, and sensual elements, but between the upward and downward
tendencies of all three--between the spirit of Man which goeth upward,
and the spirit of the Beast which goeth downward.

26. We should not have been thus strict in our examination of these
preliminary statements, if the question had been one of terms merely, or
if the inaccuracy of thought had been confined to the Essay on
Antagonism. If upon receiving a writer's terms of argument in the
sense--however unusual or mistaken--which he chooses they should bear,
we may without further error follow his course of thought, it is as
unkind as unprofitable to lose the use of his result in quarrel with its
algebraic expression; and if the reader will understand by Lord
Lindsay's general term "Spirit" the susceptibility of right moral
emotion, and the entire subjection of the Will to Reason; and receive
his term "Sense" as not including the perception of Beauty either in
sight or sound, but expressive of animal sensation only, he may follow
without embarrassment to its close, his magnificently comprehensive
statement of the forms of probation which the heart and faculties of man
have undergone from the beginning of time. But it is far otherwise when
the theory is to be applied, in all its pseudo-organization, to the
separate departments of a particular art, and analogies the most subtle
and speculative traced between the mental character and artistical
choice or attainment of different races of men. Such analogies are
always treacherous, for the amount of expression of individual mind
which Art can convey is dependent on so many collateral circumstances,
that it even militates against the truth of any particular system of
interpretation that it should seem at first generally applicable, or its
results consistent. The passages in which such interpretation has been
attempted in the work before us, are too graceful to be regretted, nor
is their brilliant suggestiveness otherwise than pleasing and profitable
too, so long as it is received on its own grounds merely, and affects
not with its uncertainty the very matter of its foundation. But all
oscillation is communicable, and Lord Lindsay is much to be blamed for
leaving it entirely to the reader to distinguish between the
determination of his research and the activity of his fancy--between the
authority of his interpretation and the aptness of his metaphor. He who
would assert the true meaning of a symbolical art, in an age of strict
inquiry and tardy imagination, ought rather to surrender something of
the fullness which his own faith perceives, than expose the fabric of
his vision, too finely woven, to the hard handling of the materialist;
and we sincerely regret that discredit is likely to accrue to portions
of our author's well-grounded statement of real significances, once of
all men understood, because these are rashly blended with his own
accidental perceptions of disputable analogy. He perpetually associates
the present imaginative influence of Art with its ancient hieroglyphical
teaching, and mingles fancies fit only for the framework of a sonnet,
with the deciphered evidence which is to establish a serious point of
history; and this the more frequently and grossly, in the endeavor to
force every branch of his subject into illustration of the false
division of the mental attributes which we have pointed out.

27. His theory is first clearly stated in the following passage:--

       *       *       *

"Man is, in the strictest sense of the word, a progressive being, and
with many periods of inaction and retrogression, has still held, upon
the whole, a steady course towards the great end of his existence, the
re-union and re-harmonizing of the three elements of his being,
dislocated by the Fall, in the service of his God. Each of these three
elements, Sense, Intellect, and Spirit, has had its distinct development
at three distant intervals, and in the personality of the three great
branches of the human family. The race of Ham, giants in prowess if not
in stature, cleared the earth of primeval forests and monsters, built
cities, established vast empires, invented the mechanical arts, and gave
the fullest expansion to the animal energies. After them, the Greeks,
the elder line of Japhet, developed the intellectual faculties,
Imagination and Reason, more especially the former, always the earlier
to bud and blossom; poetry and fiction, history, philosophy, and
science, alike look back to Greece as their birthplace; on the one hand
they put a soul into Sense, peopling the world with their gay
mythology--on the other they bequeathed to us, in Plato and Aristotle,
the mighty patriarchs of human wisdom, the Darius and the Alexander of
the two grand armies of thinking men whose antagonism has ever since
divided the battlefield of the human intellect:--While, lastly, the race
of Shem, the Jews, and the nations of Christendom, their _locum
tenentes_ as the Spiritual Israel, have, by God's blessing, been
elevated in Spirit to as near and intimate communion with Deity as is
possible in this stage of being. Now the peculiar interest and dignity
of Art consists in her exact correspondence in her three departments
with these three periods of development, and in the illustration she
thus affords--more closely and markedly even than literature--to the
all-important truth that men stand or fall according as they look up to
the Ideal or not. For example, the Architecture of Egypt, her pyramids
and temples, cumbrous and inelegant, but imposing from their vastness
and their gloom, express the ideal of Sense or Matter--elevated and
purified indeed, and nearly approaching the Intellectual, but Material
still; we think of them as of natural scenery, in association with caves
or mountains, or vast periods of time; their voice is as the voice of
the sea, or as that of 'many peoples,' shouting in unison:--But the
Sculpture of Greece is the voice of Intellect and Thought, communing
with itself in solitude, feeding on beauty and yearning after
truth:--While the Painting of Christendom--(and we must remember that
the glories of Christianity, in the full extent of the term, are yet to
come)--is that of an immortal Spirit, conversing with its God. And as if
to mark more forcibly the fact of continuous progress towards
perfection, it is observable that although each of the three arts
peculiarly reflects and characterizes one of the three epochs, each art
of later growth has been preceded in its rise, progress, and decline, by
an antecedent correspondent development of its elder sister or
sisters--Sculpture, in Greece, by that of Architecture--Painting, in
Europe, by that of Architecture and Sculpture. If Sculpture and Painting
stand by the side of Architecture in Egypt, if Painting by that of
Architecture and Sculpture in Greece, it is as younger sisters, girlish
and unformed. In Europe alone are the three found linked together, in
equal stature and perfection."--Vol. i, pp. xii.--xiv.

       *       *       *

28. The reader must, we think, at once perceive the bold fallacy of this
forced analogy--the comparison of the architecture of one nation with
the sculpture of another, and the painting of a third, and the
assumption as a proof of difference in moral character, of changes
necessarily wrought, always in the same order, by the advance of mere
mechanical experience. Architecture must precede sculpture, not because
sense precedes intellect, but because men must build houses before they
adorn chambers, and raise shrines before they inaugurate idols; and
sculpture must precede painting, because men must learn forms in the
solid before they can project them on a flat surface, and must learn to
conceive designs in light and shade before they can conceive them in
color, and must learn to treat subjects under positive color and in
narrow groups, before they can treat them under atmospheric effect and
in receding masses, and all these are mere necessities of practice, and
have no more connection with any divisions of the human mind than the
equally paramount necessities that men must gather stones before they
build walls, or grind corn before they bake bread. And that each
following nation should take up either the same art at an advanced
stage, or an art altogether more difficult, is nothing but the necessary
consequence of its subsequent elevation and civilization. Whatever
nation had succeeded Egypt in power and knowledge, after having had
communication with her, must necessarily have taken up art at the point
where Egypt left it--in its turn delivering the gathered globe of
heavenly snow to the youthful energy of the nation next at hand, with an
exhausted "à vous le dé!" In order to arrive at any useful or true
estimate of the respective rank of each people in the scale of mind, the
architecture of each must be compared with the architecture of the
other--sculpture with sculpture--line with line; and to have done this
broadly and with a surface glance, would have set our author's theory on
firmer foundation, to outward aspect, than it now rests upon. Had he
compared the accumulation of the pyramid with the proportion of the
peristyle, and then with the aspiration of the spire; had he set the
colossal horror of the Sphinx beside the Phidian Minerva, and this
beside the Pietà of M. Angelo; had he led us from beneath the iridescent
capitals of Denderah, by the contested line of Apelles, to the hues and
the heaven of Perugino or Bellini, we might have been tempted to
assoilzie from all staying of question or stroke of partisan the
invulnerable aspect of his ghostly theory; but, if, with even partial
regard to some of the circumstances which physically limited the
attainments of each race, we follow their individual career, we shall
find the points of superiority less salient and the connection between
heart and hand more embarrassed.

29. Yet let us not be misunderstood:--the great gulf between Christian
and Pagan art we cannot bridge--nor do we wish to weaken one single
sentence wherein its breadth or depth is asserted by our author. The
separation is not gradual, but instant and final--the difference not of
degree, but of condition; it is the difference between the dead vapors
rising from a stagnant pool, and the same vapors touched by a torch. But
we would brace the weakness which Lord Lindsay has admitted in his own
assertion of this great inflaming instant by confusing its fire with the
mere phosphorescence of the marsh, and explaining as a successive
development of the several human faculties, what was indeed the bearing
of them all at once, over a threshold strewed with the fragments of
their idols, into the temple of the One God.

We shall therefore, as fully as our space admits, examine the
application of our author's theory to Architecture, Sculpture, and
Painting, successively, setting before the reader some of the more
interesting passages which respect each art, while we at the same time
mark with what degree of caution their conclusions are, in our judgment,
to be received.

30. Accepting Lord Lindsay's first reference to Egypt, let us glance at
a few of the physical accidents which influenced its types of
architecture. The first of these is evidently the capability of carriage
of large blocks of stone over perfectly level land. It was possible to
roll to their destination along that uninterrupted plain, blocks which
could neither by the Greek have been shipped in seaworthy vessels, nor
carried over mountain-passes, nor raised except by extraordinary effort
to the height of the rock-built fortress or seaward promontory. A small
undulation of surface, or embarrassment of road, makes large difference
in the portability of masses, and of consequence, in the breadth of the
possible intercolumniation, the solidity of the column, and the whole
scale of the building. Again, in a hill-country, architecture can be
important only by position, in a level country only by bulk. Under the
overwhelming mass of mountain-form it is vain to attempt the expression
of majesty by size of edifice--the humblest architecture may become
important by availing itself of the power of nature, but the mightiest
must be crushed in emulating it: the watch-towers of Amalfi are more
majestic than the Superga of Piedmont; St. Peter's would look like a toy
if built beneath the Alpine cliffs, which yet vouchsafe some
communication of their own solemnity to the smallest chalet that
glitters among their glades of pine. On the other hand, a small building
is in a level country lost, and the impressiveness of bulk
proportionably increased; hence the instinct of nations has always led
them to the loftiest efforts where the masses of their labor might be
seen looming at incalculable distance above the open line of the
horizon--hence rose her four square mountains above the flat of Memphis,
while the Greek pierced the recesses of Phigaleia with ranges of
columns, or crowned the sea-cliffs of Sunium with a single pediment,
bright, but not colossal.

31. The derivation of the Greek types of form from the forest-hut is too
direct to escape observation; but sufficient attention has not been paid
to the similar petrifaction, by other nations, of the rude forms and
materials adopted in the haste of early settlement, or consecrated by
the purity of rural life. The whole system of Swiss and German Gothic
has thus been most characteristically affected by the structure of the
intersecting timbers at the angles of the chalet. This was in some cases
directly and without variation imitated in stone, as in the piers of the
old bridge at Aarburg; and the practice obtained--partially in the
German after-Gothic--universally, or nearly so, in Switzerland--of
causing moldings which met at an angle to appear to interpenetrate each
other, both being truncated immediately beyond the point of
intersection. The painfulness of this ill-judged adaptation was
conquered by association--the eye became familiarized to uncouth forms
of tracery--and a stiffness and meagerness, as of cast-iron, resulted in
the moldings of much of the ecclesiastical, and all the domestic Gothic
of central Europe; the moldings of casements intersecting so as to form
a small hollow square at the angles, and the practice being further
carried out into all modes of decoration--pinnacles interpenetrating
crockets, as in a peculiarly bold design of archway at Besançon. The
influence at Venice has been less immediate and more fortunate; it is
with peculiar grace that the majestic form of the ducal palace reminds
us of the years of fear and endurance when the exiles of the Prima
Venetia settled like home-less birds on the sea-sand, and that its
quadrangular range of marble wall and painted chamber, raised upon
multiplied columns of confused arcade,[6] presents but the exalted image
of the first pile-supported hut that rose above the rippling of the

32. In the chapter on the "Influence of Habit and Religion," of Mr.
Hope's Historical Essay,[7] the reader will find further instances of
the same feeling, and, bearing immediately on our present purpose, a
clear account of the derivation of the Egyptian temple from the
excavated cavern; but the point to which in all these cases we would
direct especial attention, is, that the first perception of the great
laws of architectural _proportion_ is dependent for its acuteness less
on the æsthetic instinct of each nation than on the mechanical
conditions of stability and natural limitations of size in the primary
type, whether hut, châlet, or tent.

As by the constant reminiscence of the natural proportions of his first
forest-dwelling, the Greek would be restrained from all inordinate
exaggeration of size--the Egyptian was from the first left without hint
of any system of proportion, whether constructive, or of visible parts.
The cavern--its level roof supported by amorphous piers--might be
extended indefinitely into the interior of the hills, and its outer
façade continued almost without term along their flanks--the solid mass
of cliff above forming one gigantic entablature, poised upon props
instead of columns. Hence the predisposition to attempt in the built
temple the expression of infinite extent, and to heap the ponderous
architrave above the proportionless pier.

33. The less direct influences of external nature in the two countries
were still more opposed. The sense of beauty, which among the Greek
peninsulas was fostered by beating of sea and rush of river, by waving
of forest and passing of cloud, by undulation of hill and poise of
precipice, lay dormant beneath the shadowless sky and on the objectless
plain of the Egyptians; no singing winds nor shaking leaves nor gliding
shadows gave life to the line of their barren mountains--no Goddess of
Beauty rose from the pacing of their silent and foamless Nile. One
continual perception of stability, or changeless revolution, weighed
upon their hearts--their life depended on no casual alternation of cold
and heat--of drought and shower; their gift-Gods were the risen River
and the eternal Sun, and the types of these were forever consecrated in
the lotus decoration of the temple and the wedge of the enduring
Pyramid. Add to these influences, purely physical, those dependent on
the superstitions and political constitution; of the overflowing
multitude of "populous No"; on their condition of prolonged peace--their
simple habits of life--their respect for the dead--their separation by
incommunicable privilege and inherited occupation--and it will be
evident to the reader that Lord Lindsay's broad assertion of the
expression of "the Ideal of Sense or Matter" by their universal style,
must be received with severe modification, and is indeed thus far only
true, that the mass of Life supported upon that fruitful plain could,
when swayed by a despotic ruler in any given direction, accomplish by
mere weight and number what to other nations had been impossible, and
bestow a pre-eminence, owed to mere bulk and evidence of labor, upon
public works which among the Greek republics could be rendered admirable
only by the intelligence of their design.

34. Let us, for the present omitting consideration of the debasement of
the Greek types which took place when their cycle of achievement had
been fulfilled, pass to the germination of Christian architecture, out
of one of the least important elements of those fallen forms--one which,
less than the least of all seeds, has risen into the fair branching
stature under whose shadow we still dwell.

The principal characteristics of the new architecture, as exhibited in
the Lombard cathedral, are well sketched by Lord Lindsay:--

       *       *       *

"The three most prominent features, the eastern aspect of the sanctuary,
the cruciform plan, and the soaring octagonal cupola, are borrowed from
Byzantium--the latter in an improved form--the cross with a
difference--the nave, or arm opposite the sanctuary, being lengthened so
as to resemble the supposed shape of the actual instrument of suffering,
and form what is now distinctively called the Latin Cross. The crypt and
absis, or tribune, are retained from the Romish basilica, but the absis
is generally pierced with windows, and the crypt is much loftier and
more spacious, assuming almost the appearance of a subterranean church.
The columns of the nave, no longer isolated, are clustered so as to form
compound piers, massive and heavy--their capitals either a rude
imitation of the Corinthian, or, especially in the earlier structures,
sculptured with grotesque imagery. Triforia, or galleries for women,
frequently line the nave and transepts. The roof is of stone, and
vaulted. The narthex, or portico, for excluded penitents, common alike
to the Greek and Roman churches, and in them continued along the whole
façade of entrance, is dispensed with altogether in the oldest Lombard
ones, and when afterwards resumed, in the eleventh century, was
restricted to what we should now call Porches, over each door,
consisting generally of little more than a canopy open at the sides, and
supported by slender pillars, resting on sculptured monsters. Three
doors admit from the western front; these are generally covered with
sculpture, which frequently extends in belts across the façade, and even
along the sides of the building. Above the central door is usually seen,
in the later Lombard churches, a S. Catherine's-wheel window. The roof
slants at the sides, and ends in front sometimes in a single pediment,
sometimes in three gables answering to three doors; while, in Lombardy
at least, hundreds of slender pillars, of every form and device--those
immediately adjacent to each other frequently interlaced in the true
lover's knot, and all supporting round or trefoliate arches--run along,
in continuous galleries, under the eaves, as if for the purpose of
supporting the roof--run up the pediment in front, are continued along
the side-walls and round the eastern absis, and finally engirdle the
cupola. Sometimes the western front is absolutely covered with these
galleries, rising tier above tier. Though introduced merely for
ornament, and therefore on a vicious principle, these fairy-like
colonnades win very much on one's affections. I may add to these general
features the occasional and rare one, seen to peculiar advantage in the
cathedral of Cremona, of numerous slender towers, rising, like minarets,
in every direction, in front and behind, and giving the east end,
specially, a marked resemblance to the mosques of the Mahometans.

"The Baptistery and the Campanile, or bell-tower, are in theory
invariable adjuncts to the Lombard cathedral, although detached from it.
The Lombards seem to have built them with peculiar zest, and to have had
a keen eye for the picturesque in grouping them with the churches they
belong to.

"I need scarcely add that the round arch is exclusively employed in pure
Lombard architecture.

"To translate this new style into its symbolical language is a
pleasurable task. The three doors and three gable ends signify the
Trinity, the Catherine-wheel window (if I mistake not) the Unity, as
concentrated in Christ, the Light of the Church, from whose Greek
monogram its shape was probably adopted. The monsters that support the
pillars of the porch stand there as talismans to frighten away evil
spirits. The crypt (as in older buildings) signifies the moral death of
man, the cross, the atonement, the cupola heaven; and these three,
taken in conjunction with the lengthened nave, express, reconcile, and
give their due and balanced prominence to the leading ideas of the
Militant and Triumphant Church, respectively embodied in the
architecture of Rome and Byzantium. Add to this, the symbolism of the
Baptistery, and the Christian pilgrimage, from the Font to the Door of
Heaven, is complete,"--Vol. ii., p. 8-11.

       *       *       *

35. We have by-and-bye an equally comprehensive sketch of the essential
characters of the Gothic cathedral; but this we need not quote, as it
probably contains little that would be new to the reader. It is
succeeded by the following interpretation of the spirit of the two

       *       *       *

"Comparing, apart from enthusiasm, the two styles of Lombard and Pointed
Architecture, they will strike you, I think, as the expression,
respectively, of that alternate repose and activity which characterize
the Christian life, exhibited in perfect harmony in Christ alone, who,
on earth, spent His night in prayer to God, His day in doing good to
man--in heaven, as we know by His own testimony, 'worketh hitherto,'
conjointly with the Father--forever, at the same time, reposing on the
infinity of His wisdom and of His power. Each, then, of these styles has
its peculiar significance, each is perfect in its way. The Lombard
Architecture, with its horizontal lines, its circular arches and
expanding cupola, soothes and calms one; the Gothic, with its pointed
arches, aspiring vaults and intricate tracery, rouses and excites--and
why? Because the one symbolizes an infinity of Rest, the other of
Action, in the adoration and service of God. And this consideration will
enable us to advance a step farther:--The aim of the one style is
definite, of the other indefinite; we look up to the dome of heaven and
calmly acquiesce in the abstract idea of infinity; but we only realize
the impossibility of conceiving it by the flight of imagination from
star to star, from firmament to firmament. Even so Lombard Architecture
attained perfection, expressed its idea, accomplished its purpose--but
Gothic never; the Ideal is unapproachable."--Vol. ii., p. 23.

       *       *       *

36. This idea occurs not only in this passage:--it is carried out
through the following chapters;--at page 38, the pointed arch associated
with the cupola is spoken of as a "fop interrupting the meditations of a
philosopher"; at page 65, the "earlier contemplative style of the
Lombards" is spoken of; at page 114, Giottesque art is "the expression
of that Activity of the Imagination which produced Gothic Architecture";
and, throughout, the analogy is prettily expressed, and ably supported;
yet it is one of those against which we must warn the reader: it is
altogether superficial, and extends not to the minds of those whose
works it accidentally, and we think disputably, characterizes. The
transition from Romanesque (we prefer using the generic term) to Gothic
is natural and straightforward, in many points traceable to mechanical
and local necessities (of which one, the dangerous weight of snow on
flat roofs, has been candidly acknowledged by our author), and directed
by the tendency, common to humanity in all ages, to push every
newly-discovered means of delight to its most fantastic extreme, to
exhibit every newly-felt power in its most admirable achievement, and to
load with intrinsic decoration forms whose essential varieties have been
exhausted. The arch, carelessly struck out by the Etruscan, forced by
mechanical expediencies on the unwilling, uninventive Roman, remained
unfelt by either. The noble form of the apparent Vault of Heaven--the
line which every star follows in its journeying, extricated by the
Christian architect from the fosse, the aqueduct, and the sudarium--grew
into long succession of proportioned colonnade, and swelled into the
white domes that glitter above the plain of Pisa, and fretted channels
of Venice, like foam globes at rest.

37. But the spirit that was in these Aphrodites of the earth was not
then, nor in them, to be restrained. Colonnade rose over colonnade; the
pediment of the western front was lifted into a detached and scenic
wall; story above story sprang the multiplied arches of the Campanile,
and the eastern pyramidal fire-type, lifted from its foundation, was
placed upon the summit. With the superimposed arcades of the principal
front arose the necessity, instantly felt by their subtle architects, of
a new proportion in the column; the lower wall inclosure, necessarily
for the purposes of Christian worship continuous, and needing no
peristyle, rendered the lower columns a mere facial decoration, whose
proportions were evidently no more to be regulated by the laws hitherto
observed in detached colonnades. The column expanded into the shaft, or
into the huge pilaster rising unbanded from tier to tier; shaft and
pilaster were associated in ordered groups, and the ideas of singleness
and limited elevation once attached to them, swept away for ever; the
stilted and variously centered arch existed already: the pure ogive
followed--where first exhibited we stay not to inquire;--finally, and
chief of all, the great mechanical discovery of the resistance of
lateral pressure by the weight of the superimposed flanking pinnacle.
Daring concentrations of pressure upon narrow piers were the immediate
consequence, and the recognition of the buttress as a feature in itself
agreeable and susceptible of decoration. The glorious art of painting on
glass added its temptations; the darkness of northern climes both
rendering the typical character of Light more deeply felt than in Italy,
and necessitating its admission in larger masses; the Italian, even at
the period of his most exquisite art in glass, retaining the small
Lombard window, whose expediency will hardly be doubted by anyone who
has experienced the transition from the scorching reverberation of the
white-hot marble front, to the cool depth of shade within, and whose
beauty will not be soon forgotten by those who have seen the narrow
lights of the Pisan duomo announce by their redder burning, not like
transparent casements, but like characters of fire searing the western
wall, the decline of day upon Capraja.

38. Here, then, arose one great distinction between Northern and
Transalpine Gothic, based, be it still observed, on mere necessities of
climate. While the architect of Santa Maria Novella admitted to the
frescoes of Ghirlandajo scarcely more of purple lancet light than had
been shed by the morning sun through the veined alabasters of San
Miniato; and looked to the rich blue of the quinquipartite vault above,
as to the mosaic of the older concha, for conspicuous aid in the color
decoration of the whole; the northern builder burst through the walls of
his apse, poured over the eastern altar one unbroken blaze, and lifting
his shafts like pines, and his walls like precipices, ministered to
their miraculous stability by an infinite phalanx of sloped buttress and
glittering pinnacle. The spire was the natural consummation. Internally,
the sublimity of space in the cupola had been superseded by another kind
of infinity in the prolongation of the nave; externally, the spherical
surface had been proved, by the futility of Arabian efforts, incapable
of decoration; its majesty depended on its simplicity, and its
simplicity and leading forms were alike discordant with the rich
rigidity of the body of the building. The campanile became, therefore,
principal and central; its pyramidal termination was surrounded at the
base by a group of pinnacles, and the spire itself, banded, or pierced
into aërial tracery, crowned with its last enthusiastic effort the
flamelike ascent of the perfect pile.

39. The process of change was thus consistent throughout, though at
intervals accelerated by the sudden discovery of resource, or invention
of design; nor, had the steps been less traceable, do we think the
suggestiveness of Repose, in the earlier style, or of Imaginative
Activity in the latter, definite or trustworthy. We much question
whether the Duomo of Verona, with its advanced guard of haughty
gryphons--the mailed peers of Charlemagne frowning from its vaulted
gate,--that vault itself ribbed with variegated marbles, and peopled by
a crowd of monsters---the Evangelical types not the least stern or
strange; its stringcourses replaced by flat cut friezes, combats between
gryphons and chain-clad paladins, stooping behind their triangular
shields and fetching sweeping blows with two-handled swords; or that of
Lucca--its fantastic columns clasped by writhing snakes and winged
dragons, their marble scales spotted with inlaid serpentine, every
available space alive with troops of dwarfish riders, with spur on heel
and hawk in hood, sounding huge trumpets of chase, like those of the
Swiss Urus-horn, and cheering herds of gaping dogs upon harts and hares,
boars and wolves, every stone signed with its grisly beast--be one whit
more soothing to the contemplative, or less exciting to the imaginative
faculties, than the successive arch? and visionary shaft, and dreamy
vault, and crisped foliage, and colorless stone, of our own fair abbeys,
checkered with sunshine through the depth of ancient branches, or seen
far off, like clouds in the valley, risen out of the pause of its river.

40. And with respect to the more fitful and fantastic expression of the
"Italian Gothic," our author is again to be blamed for his loose
assumption, from the least reflecting of preceding writers, of this
general term, as if the pointed buildings of Italy could in any wise be
arranged in one class, or criticised in general terms. It is true that
so far as the church interiors are concerned, the system is nearly
universal, and always bad; its characteristic features being arches of
enormous span, and banded foliage capitals divided into three fillets,
rude in design, unsuggestive of any structural connection with the
column, and looking consequently as if they might be slipped up or down,
and had been only fastened in their places for the temporary purposes of
a festa. But the exteriors of Italian pointed buildings display
variations of principle and transitions of type quite as bold as either
the advance from the Romanesque to the earliest of their forms, or the
recoil from their latest to the cinque-cento.

41. The first and grandest style resulted merely from the application of
the pointed arch to the frequent Romanesque window, the large
semicircular arch divided by three small ones. Pointing both the
superior and inferior arches, and adding to the grace of the larger one
by striking another arch above it with a more removed center, and
placing the voussoirs at an acute angle to the curve, we have the truly
noble form of domestic Gothic, which--more or less enriched by moldings
and adorned by penetration, more or less open of the space between the
including and inferior arches--was immediately adopted in almost all the
proudest palaces of North Italy--in the Brolettos of Como, Bergamo,
Modena, and Siena---in the palace of the Scaligers at Verona--of the
Gambacorti at Pisa--of Paolo Guinigi at Lucca--besides inferior
buildings innumerable:--nor is there any form of civil Gothic except the
Venetian, which can be for a moment compared with it in simplicity or
power. The latest is that most vicious and barbarous style of which the
richest types are the lateral porches and upper pinnacles of the
Cathedral of Como, and the whole of the Certosa of Pavia:--characterized
by the imitative sculpture of large buildings on a small scale by way of
pinnacles and niches; the substitution of candelabra for columns; and
the covering of the surfaces with sculpture, often of classical subject,
in high relief and daring perspective, and finished with delicacy which
rather would demand preservation in a cabinet, and exhibition under a
lens, than admit of exposure to the weather and removal from the eye,
and which, therefore, architecturally considered, is worse than
valueless, telling merely as unseemly roughness and rustication. But
between these two extremes are varieties nearly countless--some of them
both strange and bold, owing to the brilliant color and firm texture of
the accessible materials, and the desire of the builders to crowd the
greatest expression of value into the smallest space.

42. Thus it is in the promontories of serpentine which meet with their
polished and gloomy green the sweep of the Gulf of Genoa, that we find
the first cause of the peculiar spirit of the Tuscan and Ligurian
Gothic--carried out in the Florentine duomo to the highest pitch of
colored finish--adorned in the upper story of the Campanile by a
transformation, peculiarly rich and exquisite, of the narrowly-pierced
heading of window already described, into a veil of tracery--and aided
throughout by an accomplished precision of design in its moldings which
we believe to be unique. In St. Petronio of Bologna, another and a
barbarous type occurs; the hollow niche of Northern Gothic wrought out
with diamond-shaped penetrations inclosed in squares; at Bergamo
another, remarkable for the same square penetrations of its rich and
daring foliation;--while at Monza and Carrara the square is adopted as
the leading form of decoration on the west fronts, and a grotesque
expression results--barbarous still;--which, however, in the latter
duomo is associated with the arcade of slender niches--the translation
of the Romanesque arcade into pointed work, which forms the second
perfect order of Italian Gothic, entirely ecclesiastical, and well
developed in the churches of Santa Caterina and Santa Maria della Spina
at Pisa. The Veronese Gothic, distinguished by the extreme purity and
severity of its ruling lines, owing to the distance of the centers of
circles from which its cusps are struck, forms another, and yet a more
noble school--and passes through the richer decoration of Padua and
Vicenza to the full magnificence of the Venetian--distinguished by the
introduction of the ogee curve without pruriency or effeminacy, and by
the breadth and decision of moldings as severely determined in all
examples of the style as those of any one of the Greek orders.

43. All these groups are separated by distinctions clear and bold--and
many of them by that broadest of all distinctions which lies between
disorganization and consistency--accumulation and adaptation, experiment
and design;--yet to all one or two principles are common, which again
divide the whole series from that of the Transalpine Gothic--and whose
importance Lord Lindsay too lightly passes over in the general
description, couched in somewhat ungraceful terms, "the vertical
principle snubbed, as it were, by the horizontal." We have already
alluded to the great school of color which arose in the immediate
neighborhood of the Genoa serpentine. The accessibility of marble
throughout North Italy similarly modified the aim of all design, by the
admission of undecorated surfaces. A blank space of freestone wall is
always uninteresting, and sometimes offensive; there is no suggestion of
preciousness in its dull color, and the stains and rents of time upon it
are dark, coarse, and gloomy. But a marble surface receives in its age
hues of continually increasing glow and grandeur; its stains are never
foul nor dim; its undecomposing surface preserves a soft, fruit-like
polish forever, slowly flushed by the maturing suns of centuries. Hence,
while in the Northern Gothic the effort of the architect was always so
to diffuse his ornament as to prevent the eye from permanently resting
on the blank material, the Italian fearlessly left fallow large fields
of uncarved surface, and concentrated the labor of the chisel on
detached portions, in which the eye, being rather directed to them by
their isolation than attracted by their salience, required perfect
finish and pure design rather than force of shade or breadth of parts;
and further, the intensity of Italian sunshine articulated by perfect
gradations, and defined by sharp shadows at the edge, such inner anatomy
and minuteness of outline as would have been utterly vain and valueless
under the gloom of a northern sky; while again the fineness of material
both admitted of, and allured to, the precision of execution which the
climate was calculated to exhibit.

44. All these influences working together, and with them that of
classical example and tradition, induced a delicacy of expression, a
slightness of salience, a carefulness of touch, and refinement of
invention, in all, even the rudest, Italian decorations, utterly
unrecognized in those of Northern Gothic: which, however picturesquely
adapted to their place and purpose, depend for most of their effect upon
bold undercutting, accomplish little beyond graceful embarrassment of
the eye, and cannot for an instant be separately regarded as works of
accomplished art. Even the later and more imitative examples profess
little more than picturesque vigor or ingenious intricacy. The oak
leaves and acorns of the Beauvais moldings are superbly wreathed, but
rigidly repeated in a constant pattern; the stems are without character,
and the acorns huge, straight, blunt, and unsightly. Round the southern
door of the Florentine duomo runs a border of fig-leaves, each leaf
modulated as if dew had just dried from off it--yet each alike, so as to
secure the ordered symmetry of classical enrichment. But the Gothic
fullness of thought is not therefore left without expression; at the
edge of each leaf is an animal, first a cicala, then a lizard, then a
bird, moth, serpent, snail--all different, and each wrought to the very
life--panting--plumy--writhing--glittering--full of breath and power.
This harmony of classical restraint with exhaustless fancy, and of
architectural propriety with imitative finish, is found throughout all
the fine periods of the Italian Gothic, opposed to the wildness without
invention, and exuberance without completion, of the North.

45. One other distinction we must notice, in the treatment of the Niche
and its accessories. In Northern Gothic the niche frequently consists
only of a bracket and canopy--the latter attached to the wall,
independent of columnar support, pierced into openwork profusely rich,
and often prolonged upwards into a crocketed pinnacle of indefinite
height. But in the niche of pure Italian Gothic the classic principle of
columnar support is never lost sight of. Even when its canopy is
actually supported by the wall behind, it is apparently supported by two
columns in front, perfectly formed with bases and capitals:--(the
support of the Northern niche--if it have any--commonly takes the form
of a buttress):--when it appears as a detached pinnacle, it is supported
on four columns, the canopy trefoliated with very obtuse cusps, richly
charged with foliage in the foliating space, but undecorated at the cusp
points, and terminating above in a smooth pyramid, void of all ornament,
and never very acute. This form, modified only by various grouping, is
that of the noble sepulchral monuments of Verona, Lucca, Pisa, and
Bologna; on a small scale it is at Venice associated with the cupola,
in St. Mark's, as well as in Santa Fosca, and other minor churches. At
Pisa, in the Spina chapel it occurs in its most exquisite form, the
columns there being chased with checker patterns of great elegance. The
windows of the Florence cathedral are all placed under a flat canopy of
the same form, the columns being elongated, twisted, and enriched with
mosaic patterns. The reader must at once perceive how vast is the
importance of the difference in system with respect to this member; the
whole of the rich, cavernous chiaroscuro of Northern Gothic being
dependent on the accumulation of its niches.

46. In passing to the examination of our Author's theory as tested by
the progress of Sculpture, we are still struck by his utter want of
attention to physical advantages or difficulties. He seems to have
forgotten from the first, that the mountains of Syene are not the rocks
of Paros. Neither the social habits nor intellectual powers of the Greek
had so much share in inducing his advance in Sculpture beyond the
Egyptian, as the difference between marble and syenite, porphyry or
alabaster. Marble not only gave the power, it actually introduced the
_thought_ of representation or realization of form, as opposed to the
mere suggestive abstraction: its translucency, tenderness of surface,
and equality of tint tempting by utmost reward to the finish which of
all substances it alone admits:--even ivory receiving not so delicately,
as alabaster endures not so firmly, the lightest, latest touches of the
completing chisel. The finer feeling of the hand cannot be put upon a
hard rock like syenite--the blow must be firm and fearless--the
traceless, tremulous difference between common and immortal sculpture
cannot be set upon it--it cannot receive the enchanted strokes which,
like Aaron's incense, separate the Living and the Dead. Were it
otherwise, were finish possible, the variegated and lustrous surface
would not exhibit it to the eye. The imagination itself is blunted by
the resistance of the material, and by the necessity of absolute
predetermination of all it would achieve. Retraction of all thought into
determined and simple forms, such as might be fearlessly wrought,
necessarily remained the characteristic of the school. The size of the
edifice induced by other causes above stated, further limited the
efforts of the sculptor. No colossal figure can be minutely finished;
nor can it easily be conceived except under an imperfect form. It is a
representation of Impossibility, and every effort at completion adds to
the monstrous sense of Impossibility. Space would altogether fail us
were we even to name one-half of the circumstances which influence the
treatment of light and shade to be seen at vast distances upon surfaces
of variegated or dusky color; or of the necessities by which, in masses
of huge proportion, the mere laws of gravity, and the difficulty of
clearing the substance out of vast hollows neither to be reached nor
entered, bind the realization of absolute form. Yet all these Lord
Lindsay ought rigidly to have examined, before venturing to determine
anything respecting the mental relations of the Greek and Egyptian. But
the fact of his overlooking these inevitablenesses of material is
intimately connected with the worst flaw of his theory--his idea of a
Perfection resultant from a balance of elements; a perfection which all
experience has shown to be neither desirable nor possible.

47. His account of Niccola Pisano, the founder of the first great school
of middle age sculpture, is thus introduced:--

       *       *       *

"Niccola's peculiar praise is this,--that, in practice at least, if not
in theory, he first established the principle that the study of nature,
corrected by the ideal of the antique, and animated by the spirit of
Christianity, personal and social, can alone lead to excellence in
art:--each of the three elements of human nature--Matter, Mind, and
Spirit--being thus brought into union and co-operation in the service of
God, in due relative harmony and subordination. I cannot over-estimate
the importance of this principle; it was on this that, consciously or
unconsciously, Niccola himself worked--it has been by following it that
Donatello and Ghiberti, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michael Angelo have
risen to glory. The Sienese school and the Florentine, minds
contemplative and dramatic, are alike beholden to it for whatever
success has attended their efforts. Like a treble-stranded rope, it
drags after it the triumphal car of Christian Art. But if either of the
strands be broken, if either of the three elements be pursued
disjointedly from the other two, the result is, in each respective case,
grossness, pedantry, or weakness:--the exclusive imitation of Nature
produces a Caravaggio, a Rubens, a Rembrandt--that of the Antique, a
Pellegrino di Tibaldo and a David; and though there be a native chastity
and taste in religion, which restrains those who worship it too
abstractedly from Intellect and Sense, from running into such extremes,
it cannot at least supply that mechanical apparatus which will enable
them to soar:--such devotees must be content to gaze up into heaven,
like angels cropt of their wings."--Vol. ii., p. 102-3.

       *       *       *

48. This is mere Bolognese eclecticism in other terms, and those terms
incorrect. We are amazed to find a writer usually thoughtful, if not
accurate, thus indolently adopting the worn-out falsities of our weakest
writers on Taste. Does he--can he for an instant suppose that the
ruffian Caravaggio, distinguished only by his preference of candlelight
and black shadows for the illustration and re-enforcement of villainy,
painted nature--mere nature--exclusive nature, more painfully or
heartily than John Bellini or Raphael? Does he not see that whatever men
imitate must be nature of some kind, material nature or spiritual,
lovely or foul, brutal or human, but nature still? Does he himself see
in mere, external, copyable nature, no more than Caravaggio saw, or in
the Antique no more than has been comprehended by David? The fact is,
that all artists are primarily divided into the two great groups of
Imitators and Suggesters--their falling into one or other being
dependent partly on disposition, and partly on the matter they have to
subdue--(thus Perugino imitates line by line with penciled gold, the
hair which Nino Pisano can only suggest by a gilded marble mass, both
having the will of representation alike). And each of these classes is
again divided into the faithful and unfaithful imitators and suggesters;
and that is a broad question of blind eye and hard heart, or seeing eye
and serious heart, always co-existent; and then the faithful imitators
and suggesters--artists proper, are appointed, each with his peculiar
gift and affection, over the several orders and classes of things
natural, to be by them illumined and set forth.

49. And that is God's doing and distributing; and none is rashly to be
thought inferior to another, as if by his own fault; nor any of them
stimulated to emulation, and changing places with others, although their
allotted tasks be of different dignities, and their granted instruments
of different keenness; for in none of them can there be a perfection or
balance of all human attributes;--the great colorist becomes gradually
insensible to the refinements of form which he at first intentionally
omitted; the master of line is inevitably dead to many of the delights
of color; the study of the true or ideal human form is inconsistent with
the love of its most spiritual expressions. To one it is intrusted to
record the historical realities of his age; in him the perception of
character is subtle, and that of abstract beauty in measure diminished;
to another, removed to the desert, or inclosed in the cloister, is
given, not the noting of things transient, but the revealing of things
eternal. Ghirlandajo and Titian painted men, but could not angels;
Duccio and Angelico painted Saints, but could not senators. One is
ordered to copy material form lovingly and slowly--his the fine finger
and patient will: to another are sent visions and dreams upon the
bed--his the hand fearful and swift, and impulse of passion irregular
and wild. We may have occasion further to insist upon this great
principle of the incommunicableness and singleness of all the highest
powers; but we assert it here especially, in opposition to the idea,
already so fatal to art, that either the aim of the antique may take
place together with the purposes, or its traditions become elevatory of
the power, of Christian art; or that the glories of Giotto and the
Sienese are in any wise traceable through Niccola Pisano to the
venerable relics of the Campo Santo.

50. Lord Lindsay's statement, as far as it regards Niccola himself, is

       *       *       *

"His improvement in Sculpture is attributable, in the first instance, to
the study of an ancient sarcophagus, brought from Greece by the ships of
Pisa in the eleventh century, and which, after having stood beside the
door of the Duomo for many centuries as the tomb of the Countess
Beatrice, mother of the celebrated Matilda, has been recently removed to
the Campo Santo. The front is sculptured in bas-relief, in two
compartments, the one representing Hippolytus rejecting the suit of
Phædra, the other his departure for the chase:--such at least is the
most plausible interpretation. The sculpture, if not super-excellent, is
substantially good, and the benefit derived from it by Niccola is
perceptible on the slightest examination of his works. Other remains of
antiquity are preserved at Pisa, which he may have also studied, but
this was the classic well from which he drew those waters which became
wine when poured into the hallowing chalice of Christianity. I need
scarcely add that the mere presence of such models would have availed
little, had not nature endowed him with the quick eye and the intuitive
apprehension of genius, together with a purity of taste which taught him
how to select, how to modify and how to reinspire the germs of
excellence thus presented to him."--Vol. ii., pp. 104, 105.

       *       *       *

51. But whatever characters peculiarly classical were impressed upon
Niccola by this study, died out gradually among his scholars; and in
Orcagna the Byzantine manner finally triumphed, leading the way to the
purely Christian sculpture of the school of Fiesole, in its turn swept
away by the returning wave of classicalism. The sculpture of Orcagna,
Giotto, and Mino da Fiesole, would have been what it was, if Niccola had
been buried in his sarcophagus; and this is sufficiently proved by
Giotto's remaining entirely uninfluenced by the educated excellence of
Andrea Pisano, while he gradually bent the Pisan down to his own
uncompromising simplicity. If, as Lord Lindsay asserts, "Giotto had
learned from the works of Niccola the grand principle of Christian art,"
the sculptures of the Campanile of Florence would not now have stood
forth in contrasted awfulness of simplicity, beside those of the south
door of the Baptistery.

       *       *       *

52. "Andrea's merit was indeed very great; his works, compared with
those of Giovanni and Niccola Pisano, exhibit a progress in design,
grace, composition and mechanical execution, at first sight
unaccountable--a chasm yawns between them, deep and broad, over which
the younger artist seems to have leapt at a bound,--the stream that sank
into the earth at Pisa emerges a river at Florence. The solution of the
mystery lies in the peculiar plasticity of Andrea's genius, and the
ascendency acquired over it by Giotto, although a younger man, from the
first moment they came into contact. Giotto had learnt from the works of
Niccola the grand principle of Christian art, imperfectly apprehended by
Giovanni and his other pupils, and by following up which he had in the
natural course of things improved upon his prototype. He now repaid to
Sculpture, in the person of Andrea, the sum of improvement in which he
stood her debtor in that of Niccola:--so far, that is to say, as the
treasury of Andrea's mind was capable of taking it in, for it would be
an error to suppose that Andrea profited by Giotto in the same
independent manner or degree that Giotto profited by Niccola. Andrea's
was not a mind of strong individuality; he became completely Giottesque
in thought and style, and as Giotto and he continued intimate friends
through life, the impression never wore off:--most fortunate, indeed,
that it was so, for the welfare of Sculpture in general, and for that
of the buildings in decorating which the friends worked in concert.

"Happily, Andrea's most important work, the bronze door of the
Baptistery, still exists, and with every prospect of preservation. It is
adorned with bas-reliefs from the history of S. John, with allegorical
figures of virtues and heads of prophets, all most beautiful,--the
historical compositions distinguished by simplicity and purity of
feeling and design, the allegorical virtues perhaps still more
expressive, and full of poetry in their symbols and attitudes; the whole
series is executed with a delicacy of workmanship till then unknown in
bronze, a precision yet softness of touch resembling that of a skillful
performer on the pianoforte. Andrea was occupied upon it for nine years,
from 1330 to 1339, and when finished, fixed in its place, and exposed to
view, the public enthusiasm exceeded all bounds; the Signoria, with
unexampled condescension, visited it in state, accompanied by the
ambassadors of Naples and Sicily, and bestowed on the fortunate artist
the honor and privilege of citizenship, seldom accorded to foreigners
unless of lofty rank or exalted merit. The door remained in its original
position--facing the Cathedral--till superseded in that post of honor by
the 'Gate of Paradise,' cast by Ghiberti. It was then transferred to the
Southern entrance of the Baptistery, facing the Misericordia."--Vol.
ii., pp. 125-128.

       *       *       *

53. A few pages farther on, the question of _Giotto's_ claim to the
authorship of the designs for this door is discussed at length, and, to
the annihilation of the honor here attributed to _Andrea_, determined
affirmatively, partly on the testimony of Vasari, partly on internal
evidence--these designs being asserted by our author to be "thoroughly
Giottesque." But, not to dwell on Lord Lindsay's inconsistency, in the
ultimate decision his discrimination seems to us utterly at fault.
Giotto has, we conceive, suffered quite enough in the abduction of the
work in the Campo Santo, which was worthy of him, without being made
answerable for these designs of Andrea. That he gave a rough draft of
many of them, is conceivable; but if even he did this, Andrea has added
cadenzas of drapery, and other scholarly commonplace, as a bad singer
puts ornament into an air. It was not of such teaching that came the
"Jabal" of Giotto. Sitting at his tent door, he withdraws its rude
drapery with one hand: three sheep only are feeding before him, the
watchdog sitting beside them; but he looks forth like a Destiny,
beholding the ruined cities of the earth become places, like the valley
of Achor, for herds to lie down in.

54. We have not space to follow our author through his very interesting
investigation of the comparatively unknown schools of Teutonic
sculpture. With one beautiful anecdote, breathing the whole spirit of
the time--the mingling of deep piety with the modest, manly pride of
art--our readers must be indulged:--

       *       *       *

"The Florentine Ghiberti gives a most interesting account of a sculptor
of Cologne in the employment of Charles of Anjou, King of Naples, whose
skill he parallels with that of the statuaries of ancient Greece; his
heads, he says, and his design of the naked, were 'maravigliosamente
bene,' his style full of grace, his sole defect the somewhat curtailed
stature of his figures. He was no less excellent in minuter works as a
goldsmith, and in that capacity had worked for his patron a 'tavola
d'oro,' a tablet or screen (apparently) of gold, with his utmost care
and skill; it was a work of exceeding beauty--but in some political
exigency his patron wanted money, and it was broken up before his eyes.
Seeing his labor vain and the pride of his heart rebuked, he threw
himself on the ground, and uplifting his eyes and hands to heaven,
prayed in contrition, 'Lord God Almighty, Governor and disposer of
heaven and earth! Thou hast opened mine eyes that I follow from
henceforth none other than Thee--Have mercy upon me!'--He forthwith gave
all he had to the poor for the love of God, and went up into a mountain
where there was a great hermitage, and dwelt there the rest of his days
in penitence and sanctity, surviving down to the days of Pope Martin,
who reigned from 1281 to 1284. 'Certain youths,' adds Ghiberti, 'who
sought to be skilled in statuary, told me how he was versed both in
painting and sculpture, and how he had painted in the Romitorio where he
lived; he was an excellent draughtsman and very courteous. When the
youths who wished to improve visited him, he received them with much
humility, giving them learned instructions, showing them various
proportions, and drawing for them many examples, for he was most
accomplished in his art. And thus,' he concludes, 'with great humility,
he ended his days in that hermitage.'"--Vol. iii., pp. 257-259.

       *       *       *

55. We could have wished that Lord Lindsay had further insisted on what
will be found to be a characteristic of all the truly Christian or
spiritual, as opposed to classical, schools of sculpture--the scenic or
painter-like management of effect. The marble is not cut into the actual
form of the thing imaged, but oftener into a perspective suggestion of
it--the bas-reliefs sometimes almost entirely under cut, and sharpedged,
so as to come clear off a dark ground of shadow; even heads the size of
life being in this way rather shadowed out than carved out, as the
Madonna of Benedetto de Majano in Santa Maria Novella, one of the cheeks
being advanced half an inch out of its proper place--and often the most
audacious violations of proportion admitted, as in the limbs of Michael
Angelo's sitting Madonna in the Uffizii; all artifices, also, of deep
and sharp cutting being allowed, to gain the shadowy and spectral
expressions about the brow and lip which the mere actualities of form
could not have conveyed;--the sculptor never following a material model,
but feeling after the most momentary and subtle aspects of the
countenance--striking these out sometimes suddenly, by rude chiseling,
and stopping the instant they are attained--never risking the loss of
thought by the finishing of flesh surface. The heads of the Medici
sacristy we believe to have been thus left unfinished, as having
already the utmost expression which the marble could receive, and
incapable of anything but loss from further touches. So with Mino da
Fiesole and Jacopo della Quercia, the workmanship is often hard,
sketchy, and angular, having its full effect only at a little distance;
but at that distance the statue becomes ineffably alive, even to
startling, bearing an aspect of change and uncertainty, as if it were
about to vanish, and withal having a light, and sweetness, and incense
of passion upon it that silences the looker-on, half in delight, half in
expectation. This daring stroke--this transfiguring tenderness--may be
shown to characterize all truly Christian sculpture, as compared with
the antique, or the pseudo-classical of subsequent periods. We agree
with Lord Lindsay in thinking the Psyche of Naples the nearest approach
to the Christian ideal of all ancient efforts; but even in this the
approximation is more accidental than real--a fair type of feature,
further exalted by the mode in which the imagination supplies the lost
upper folds of the hair. The fountain of life and emotion remains
sealed; nor was the opening of that fountain due to any study of the far
less pure examples accessible by the Pisan sculptors. The sound of its
waters had been heard long before in the aisles of the Lombard; nor was
it by Ghiberti, still less by Donatello, that the bed of that Jordan was
dug deepest, but by Michael Angelo (the last heir of the Byzantine
traditions descending through Orcagna), opening thenceforward through
thickets darker and more dark, and with waves ever more soundless and
slow, into the Dead Sea wherein its waters have been stayed.

56. It is time for us to pass to the subject which occupies the largest
portion of the work---the History

       *       *       *

"of Painting, as developed contemporaneously with her sister, Sculpture,
and (like her) under the shadow of the Gothic Architecture, by Giotto
and his successors throughout Italy, by Mino, Duccio, and their scholars
at Siena, by Orcagna and Fra Angelico da Fiesole at Florence, and by the
obscure but interesting primitive school of Bologna, during the
fourteenth and the early years of the fifteenth century. The period is
one, comparatively speaking, of repose and tranquillity,--the storm
sleeps and the winds are still, the currents set in one direction, and
we may sail from isle to isle over a sunny sea, dallying with the time,
secure of a cloudless sky and of the greetings of innocence and love
wheresoever the breeze may waft us. There is in truth a holy purity, an
innocent naïveté, a childlike grace and simplicity, a freshness, a
fearlessness, an utter freedom from affectation, a yearning after all
things truthful, lovely and of good report, in the productions of this
early time, which invest them with a charm peculiar in its kind, and
which few even of the most perfect works of the maturer era can boast
of,--and hence the risk and danger of becoming too passionately attached
to them, of losing the power of discrimination, of admiring and
imitating their defects as well as their beauties, of running into
affectation in seeking after simplicity and into exaggeration in our
efforts to be in earnest,--in a word, of forgetting that in art as in
human nature, it is the balance, harmony, and co-equal development of
Sense, Intellect, and Spirit, which constitute perfection."--Vol. ii.,
pp. 161-163.

       *       *       *

57. To the thousand islands, or how many soever they may be, we shall
allow ourselves to be wafted with all willingness, but not in Lord
Lindsay's three-masted vessel, with its balancing topmasts of Sense,
Intellect, and Spirit. We are utterly tired of the triplicity; and we
are mistaken if its application here be not as inconsistent as it is
arbitrary. Turning back to the introduction, which we have quoted, the
reader will find that while Architecture is there taken for the exponent
of Sense, Painting is chosen as the peculiar expression of Spirit. "The
painting of Christendom is that of an immortal spirit conversing with
its God." But in a note to the first chapter of the second volume, he
will be surprised to find painting become a "twin of intellect," and
architecture suddenly advanced from a type of sense to a type of

       *       *       *

"Sculpture and Painting, twins of Intellect, rejoice and breathe freest
in the pure ether of Architecture, or Spirit, like Castor or Pollux
under the breezy heaven of their father Jupiter."--Vol. ii., p. 14.

       *       *       *

58. Prepared by this passage to consider painting either as spiritual or
intellectual, his patience may pardonably give way on finding in the
sixth letter--(what he might, however, have conjectured from the heading
of the third period in the chart of the schools)--that the peculiar
prerogative of painting--color, is to be considered as a _sensual_
element, and the exponent of sense, in accordance with a new analogy,
here for the first time proposed, between spirit, intellect, and sense,
and expression, form, and color. Lord Lindsay is peculiarly unfortunate
in his adoptions from previous writers. He has taken this division of
art from Fuseli and Reynolds, without perceiving that in those writers
it is one of convenience merely, and, even so considered, is as
injudicious as illogical. In what does expression consist but in form
and color? It is one of the ends which these accomplish, and may be
itself an attribute of both. Color may be expressive or inexpressive,
like music; form expressive or inexpressive, like words; but expression
by itself cannot exist; so that to divide painting into color, form, and
expression, is precisely as rational as to divide music into notes,
words, and expression. Color may be pensive, severe, exciting,
appalling, gay, glowing, or sensual; in all these modes it is
expressive: form may be tender or abrupt, mean or majestic, attractive
or overwhelming, discomfortable or delightsome; in all these modes, and
many more, it is expressive; and if Lord Lindsay's analogy be in anywise
applicable to either form or color, we should have color sensual
(Correggio), color intellectual (Tintoret), color spiritual
(Angelico)--form sensual (French sculpture), form intellectual
(Phidias), form spiritual (Michael Angelo). Above all, our author should
have been careful how he attached the epithet "sensual" to the element
of color--not only on account of the glaring inconsistency with his own
previous assertion of the spirituality of painting--(since it is
certainly not merely by being flat instead of solid, representative
instead of actual, that painting is--if it be--more spiritual than
sculpture); but also, because this idea of sensuality in color has had
much share in rendering abortive the efforts of the modern German
religious painters, inducing their abandonment of its consecrating,
kindling, purifying power.

59. Lord Lindsay says, in a passage which we shall presently quote, that
the most sensual as well as the most religious painters have always
loved the brightest colors. Not so; no painters ever were more sensual
than the modern French, who are alike insensible to, and incapable of
color--depending altogether on morbid gradation, waxy smoothness of
surface, and lusciousness of line, the real elements of sensuality
wherever it eminently exists. So far from good color being sensual, it
saves, glorifies, and guards from all evil: it is with Titian, as with
all great masters of flesh-painting, the redeeming and protecting
element; and with the religious painters, it is a baptism with fire, an
under-song of holy Litanies. Is it in sensuality that the fair flush
opens upon the cheek of Francia's chanting angel,[8] until we think it
comes, and fades, and returns, as his voice and his harping are louder
or lower--or that the silver light rises upon wave after wave of his
lifted hair; or that the burning of the blood is seen on the unclouded
brows of the three angels of the Campo Santo, and of folded fire within
their wings; or that the hollow blue of the highest heaven mantles the
Madonna with its depth, and falls around her like raiment, as she sits
beneath the throne of the Sistine Judgment? Is it in sensuality that the
visible world about us is girded with an eternal iris?--is there
pollution in the rose and the gentian more than in the rocks that are
trusted to their robing?--is the sea-blue a stain upon its water, or
the scarlet spring of day upon the mountains less holy than their snow?
As well call the sun itself, or the firmament, sensual, as the color
which flows from the one, and fills the other.

60. We deprecate this rash assumption, however, with more regard to the
forthcoming portion of the history, in which we fear it may seriously
diminish the value of the author's account of the school of Venice, than
to the part at present executed. This is written in a spirit rather
sympathetic than critical, and rightly illustrates the feeling of early
art, even where it mistakes, or leaves unanalyzed, the technical modes
of its expression. It will be better, perhaps, that we confine our
attention to the accounts of the three men who may be considered as
sufficient representatives not only of the art of their time, but of all
subsequent; Giotto, the first of the great line of dramatists,
terminating in Raffaelle; Orcagna, the head of that branch of the
contemplative school which leans towards sadness or terror, terminating
in Michael Angelo; and Angelico, the head of the contemplatives
concerned with the heavenly ideal, around whom may be grouped first
Duccio, and the Sienese, who preceded him, and afterwards Pinturiccio,
Perugino, and Leonardo da Vinci.

61. The fourth letter opens in the fields of Vespignano. The
circumstances of the finding of Giotto by Cimabue are well known.
Vasari's anecdote of the fly painted upon the nose of one of Cimabue's
figures might, we think, have been spared, or at least not instanced as
proof of study from nature "nobly rewarded." Giotto certainly never
either attempted or accomplished any small imitation of this kind; the
story has all the look of one of the common inventions of the ignorant
for the ignorant; nor, if true, would Cimabue's careless mistake of a
black spot in the shape of a fly for one of the living annoyances of
which there might probably be some dozen or more upon his panel at any
moment, have been a matter of much credit to his young pupil. The first
point of any real interest is Lord Lindsay's confirmation of Förster's
attribution of the Campo Santo Life of Job, till lately esteemed
Giotto's, to Francesco da Volterra. Förster's evidence appears
incontrovertible; yet there is curious internal evidence, we think, in
favor of the designs being Giotto's, if not the execution. The landscape
is especially Giottesque, the trees being all boldly massed first with
dark brown, within which the leaves are painted separately in light:
this very archaic treatment had been much softened and modified by the
Giotteschi before the date assigned to these frescoes by Förster. But,
what is more singular, the figure of Eliphaz, or the foremost of the
three friends, occurs in a tempera picture of Giotto's in the Academy of
Florence, the Ascension, among the apostles on the left; while the face
of another of the three friends is again repeated in the "Christ
disputing with the Doctors" of the small tempera series, also in the
Academy; the figure of Satan shows much analogy to that of the Envy of
the Arena chapel; and many other portions of the design are evidently
either sketches of this very subject by Giotto himself, or dexterous
compilations from his works by a loving pupil. Lord Lindsay has not done
justice to the upper division--the Satan before God: it is one of the
very finest thoughts ever realized by the Giotteschi. The serenity of
power in the principal figure is very noble; no expression of wrath, or
even of scorn, in the look which commands the evil spirit. The position
of the latter, and countenance, are less grotesque and more demoniacal
than is usual in paintings of the time; the triple wings expanded--the
arms crossed over the breast, and holding each other above the elbow,
the claws fixing in the flesh; a serpent buries its head in a cleft in
the bosom, and the right hoof is lifted, as if to stamp.

62. We should have been glad if Lord Lindsay had given us some clearer
idea of the internal evidence on which he founds his determination of
the order or date of the works of Giotto. When no trustworthy records
exist, we conceive this task to be of singular difficulty, owing to the
differences of execution universally existing between the large and
small works of the painter. The portrait of Dante in the chapel of the
Podestá is proved by Dante's exile, in 1302, to have been painted before
Giotto was six and twenty; yet we remember no head in any of his works
which can be compared with it for carefulness of finish and truth of
drawing; the crudeness of the material vanquished by dexterous hatching;
the color not only pure, but deep--a rare virtue with Giotto; the eye
soft and thoughtful, the brow nobly modeled. In the fresco of the Death
of the Baptist, in Santa Croce, which we agree with Lord Lindsay in
attributing to the same early period, the face of the musician is drawn
with great refinement, and considerable power of rounding
surfaces--(though in the drapery may be remarked a very singular piece
of archaic treatment: it is warm white, with yellow stripes; the dress
itself falls in deep folds, but the striped pattern does not follow the
foldings--it is drawn across, as if with a straight ruler).

63. But passing from these frescoes, which are nearly the size of life,
to those of the Arena chapel at Padua, erected in 1303, decorated in
1306, which are much smaller, we find the execution proportionably less
dexterous. Of this famous chapel Lord Lindsay says--

       *       *       *

"nowhere (save in the Duomo of Orvieto) is the legendary history of the
Virgin told with such minuteness.

"The heart must indeed be cold to the charms of youthful art that can
enter this little sanctuary without a glow of delight. From the roof,
with its sky of ultramarine, powdered with stars and interspersed with
medallions containing the heads of our Saviour, the Virgin and the
Apostles, to the mock paneling of the nave, below the windows, the whole
is completely covered with frescoes, in excellent preservation, and all
more or less painted by Giotto's own hand, except six in the tribune,
which however have apparently been executed from his cartoons....

"These frescoes form a most important document in the history of
Giotto's mind, exhibiting all his peculiar merits, although in a state
as yet of immature development. They are full of fancy and invention;
the composition is almost always admirable, although sometimes too
studiously symmetrical; the figures are few and characteristic, each
speaking for itself, the impersonation of a distinct idea, and most
dramatically grouped and contrasted; the attitudes are appropriate,
easy, and natural; the action and gesticulation singularly vivid; the
expression is excellent, except when impassioned grief induces
caricature:--devoted to the study of Nature as he is, Giotto had not yet
learnt that it is suppressed feeling which affects one most. The head of
our Saviour is beautiful throughout--that of the Virgin not so good--she
is modest, but not very graceful or celestial:--it was long before he
succeeded in his Virgins--they are much too matronly: among the
accessory figures, graceful female forms occasionally appear,
foreshadowing those of his later works at Florence and Naples, yet they
are always clumsy about the waist and bust, and most of them are
under-jawed, which certainly detracts from the sweetness of the female
countenance. His delineation of the naked is excellent, as compared with
the works of his predecessors, but far unequal to what he attained in
his later years,--the drapery, on the contrary, is noble, majestic, and
statuesque; the coloring is still pale and weak,--it was long ere he
improved in this point; the landscape displays little or no amendment
upon the Byzantine; the architecture, that of the fourteenth century, is
to the figures that people it in the proportion of dolls' houses to the
children that play with them,--an absurdity long unthinkingly acquiesced
in, from its occurrence in the classic bas-reliefs from which it had
been traditionally derived;--and, finally, the lineal perspective is
very fair, and in three of the compositions an excellent effect is
produced by the introduction of the same background with varied
_dramatis personæ_, reminding one of Retszch's illustrations of Faust.
The animals too are always excellent, full of spirit and
character."--Vol. ii., pp. 183-199.

64. This last characteristic is especially to be noticed. It is a
touching proof of the influence of early years. Giotto was only ten
years old when he was taken from following the sheep. For the rest, as
we have above stated, the manipulation of these frescoes is just as far
inferior to that of the Podestà chapel as their dimensions are less; and
we think it will be found generally that the smaller the work the more
rude is Giotto's hand. In this respect he seems to differ from all other

       *       *       *

"It is not difficult, gazing on these silent but eloquent walls, to
repeople them with the group once, as we know-five hundred years
ago--assembled within them,--Giotto intent upon his work, his wife Ciuta
admiring his progress, and Dante, with abstracted eye, alternately
conversing with his friend and watching the gambols of the children
playing on the grass before the door. It is generally affirmed that
Dante, during this visit, inspired Giotto with his taste for allegory,
and that the Virtues and Vices of the Arena were the first fruits of
their intercourse; it is possible, certainly, but I doubt it,--allegory
was the universal language of the time, as we have seen in the history
of the Pisan school."--Vol. ii., pp. 199, 200.

       *       *       *

It ought to have been further mentioned, that the representation of the
Virtues and Vices under these Giottesque figures continued long
afterwards. We find them copied, for instance, on the capitals of the
Ducal Palace at Venice, with an amusing variation on the "Stultitia,"
who has neither Indian dress nor club, as with Giotto, but is to the
Venetians sufficiently distinguished by riding a horse.

65. The notice of the frescoes at Assisi consists of little more than an
enumeration of the subjects, accompanied by agreeable translations of
the traditions respecting St. Francis, embodied by St. Buonaventura. Nor
have we space to follow the author through his examination of Giotto's
works at Naples and Avignon. The following account of the erection of
the Campanile of Florence is too interesting to be omitted:---

       *       *       *

"Giotto was chosen to erect it, on the ground avowedly of the
universality of his talents, with the appointment of Capomaestro, or
chief architect of the Cathedral and its dependencies, a yearly salary
of one hundred gold florins, and the privilege of citizenship, and under
the special understanding that he was not to quit Florence. His designs
being approved of, the republic passed a decree in the spring of 1334,
that 'the Campanile should be built so as to exceed in magnificence,
height and excellence of workmanship whatever in that kind had been
achieved of old by the Greeks and Romans in the time of their utmost
power and greatness--"della loro più florida potenza."' The first stone
was laid accordingly, with great pomp, on the 18th of July following,
and the work prosecuted with such vigor and with such costliness and
utter disregard of expense, that a citizen of Verona, looking on,
exclaimed that the republic was taxing her strength too far,--that the
united resources of two great monarchs would be insufficient to complete
it; a _criticism which the Signoria resented by confining him for two
months in prison_, and afterwards conducting him through the public
treasury, to teach him that the Florentines could build their whole city
of marble, and not one poor steeple only, were they so inclined.

"Giotto made a model of his proposed structure, on which every stone was
marked, and the successive courses painted red and white, according to
his design, so as to match with the Cathedral and Baptistery; this model
was of course adhered to strictly during the short remnant of his life,
and the work was completed in strict conformity to it after his death,
with the exception of the spire, which, the taste having changed, was
never added. He had intended it to be one hundred _braccia_, or one
hundred and fifty feet high."--Vol. ii., pp. 247-249.

The deficiency of the spire Lord Lindsay does not regret:--

       *       *       *

"Let the reader stand before the Campanile, and ask himself whether,
with Michael Scott at his elbow, or Aladdin's lamp in his hand, he would
supply the deficiency? I think not."--p. 38.

       *       *       *

We have more faith in Giotto than our author--and we will reply to his
question by two others--whether, looking down upon Florence from the
hill of San Miniato, his eye rested oftener and more affectionately on
the Campanile of Giotto, or on the simple tower and spire of Santa Maria
Novella?--and whether, in the backgrounds of Perugino, he would
willingly substitute for the church spires invariably introduced,
flat-topped campaniles like the unfinished tower of Florence?

66. Giotto sculptured with his own hand two of the bas-reliefs of this
campanile, and probably might have executed them all. But the purposes
of his life had been accomplished; he died at Florence on the 8th of
January, 1337. The concluding notice of his character and achievement is
highly valuable.

       *       *       *

67. "Painting indeed stands indebted to Giotto beyond any of her
children. His history is a most instructive one. Endowed with the
liveliest fancy, and with that facility which so often betrays genius,
and achieving in youth a reputation which the age of Methuselah could
not have added to, he had yet the discernment to perceive how much still
remained to be done, and the resolution to bind himself (as it were) to
Nature's chariot wheel, confident that she would erelong emancipate and
own him as her son. Calm and unimpassioned, he seems to have commenced
his career with a deliberate survey of the difficulties he had to
encounter and of his resources for the conflict, and then to have worked
upon a system steadily and perseveringly, prophetically sure of victory.
His life was indeed one continued triumph,--and no conqueror ever
mounted to the Capitol with a step more equal and sedate. We find him,
at first, slowly and cautiously endeavoring to infuse new life into the
traditional compositions, by substituting the heads, attitudes, and
drapery of the actual world for the spectral forms and conventional
types of the mosaics and the Byzantine painters,--idealizing them when
the personages represented were of higher mark and dignity, but in none
ever outstepping truth. Advancing in his career, we find year by year
the fruits of continuous unwearied study in a consistent and equable
contemporary improvement in all the various minuter though most
important departments of his art, in his design, his drapery, his
coloring, in the dignity and expression of his men and in the grace of
his women--asperities softened down, little graces unexpectedly born and
playing about his path, as if to make amends for the deformity of his
actual offspring--touches, daily more numerous, of that nature which
makes the world akin--and ever and always a keen yet cheerful sympathy
with life, a playful humor mingling with his graver lessons, which
affects us the more as coming from one who, knowing himself an object
personally of disgust and ridicule, could yet satirize with a smile.

"Finally, throughout his works, we are conscious of an earnest, a lofty,
a religious aim and purpose, as of one who felt himself a pioneer of
civilization in a newly-discovered world, the Adam of a new Eden freshly
planted in the earth's wilderness, a mouthpiece of God and a preacher of
righteousness to mankind.--And here we must establish a distinction very
necessary to be recognized before we can duly appreciate the relative
merits of the elder painters in this, the most important point in which
we can view their character. Giotto's genius, however universal, was
still (as I have repeatedly observed) Dramatic rather than
Contemplative,--a tendency in which his scholars and successors almost
to a man resembled him. Now, just as in actual life--where, with a few
rare exceptions, all men rank under two great categories according as
Imagination or Reason predominates in their intellectual character--two
individuals may be equally impressed with the truths of Christianity and
yet differ essentially in its outward manifestation, the one dwelling in
action, the other in contemplation, the one in strife, the other in
peace, the one (so to speak) in hate, the other in love, the one
struggling with devils, the other communing with angels, yet each
serving as a channel of God's mercies to man, each (we may believe)
offering Him service equally acceptable in His sight--even so shall we
find it in art and with artists; few in whom the Dramatic power
predominates will be found to excel in the expression of religious
emotions of the more abstract and enthusiastic cast, even although men
of indisputably pure and holy character themselves; and _vice versâ_,
few of the more Contemplative but will feel bewildered and at fault, if
they descend from their starry region of light into the grosser
atmosphere that girdles in this world of action. The works of artists
are their minds' mirror; they cannot express what they do not feel; each
class dwells apart and seeks its ideal in a distinct sphere of
emotion,--their object is different, and their success proportioned to
the exclusiveness with which they pursue that object. A few indeed there
have been in all ages, monarchs of the mind and types of our Saviour,
who have lived a twofold existence of action and contemplation in art,
in song, in politics, and in daily life; of these have been Abraham,
Moses, David, and Cyrus in the elder world--Alfred, Charlemagne, Dante,
and perhaps Shakespeare, in the new,--and in art, Niccola Pisano,
Leonardo da Vinci and Michael Angelo. But Giotto, however great as the
patriarch of his peculiar tribe, was not of these few, and we ought not
therefore to misapprehend him, or be disappointed at finding his
Madonnas (for instance) less exquisitely spiritual than the Sienese, or
those of Fra Angelico and some later painters, who seem to have dipped
their pencils in the rainbow that circles the throne of God,--they are
pure and modest, but that is all; on the other hand, where his
Contemplative rivals lack utterance, he speaks most feelingly to the
heart in his own peculiar language of Dramatic composition--he glances
over creation with the eye of love, all the charities of life follow in
his steps, and his thoughts are as the breath of the morning. A man of
the world, living in it and loving it, yet with a heart that it could
not spoil nor wean from its allegiance to God--'non meno buon Cristiano
che eccellente pittore,' as Vasari emphatically describes him--his
religion breathes of the free air of heaven rather than the cloister,
neither enthusiastic nor superstitious, but practical, manly and
healthy--and this, although the picturesque biographer of S.
Francis!"--Vol. ii., pp. 260-264.

       *       *       *

68. This is all as admirably felt as expressed, and to those acquainted
with and accustomed to love the works of the painter, it leaves nothing
to be asked for; but we must again remind Lord Lindsay, that he has
throughout left the _artistical_ orbit of Giotto undefined, and the
offense of his manner unremoved, as far as regards the uninitiated
spectator. We question whether from all that he has written, the
untraveled reader could form any distinct idea of the painter's peculiar
merits or methods, or that the estimate, if formed, might not afterwards
expose him to severe disappointment. It ought especially to have been
stated, that the Giottesque system of chiaroscuro is one of pure, quiet,
pervading daylight. No _cast_ shadows ever occur, and this remains a
marked characteristic of all the works of the Giotteschi. Of course, all
subtleties of reflected light or raised color are unthought of. Shade is
only given as far as it is necessary to the articulation of simple
forms, nor even then is it rightly adapted to the color of the light;
the folds of the draperies are well drawn, but the entire rounding of
them always missed--the general forms appearing flat, and terminated by
equal and severe outlines, while the masses of ungradated color often
seem to divide the figure into fragments. Thus, the Madonna in the small
tempera series of the Academy of Florence, is usually divided exactly in
half by the dark mass of her blue robe, falling in a vertical line. In
consequence of this defect, the grace of Giotto's composition can hardly
be felt until it is put into outline. The colors themselves are of good
quality, never glaring, always gladdening, the reds inclining to orange
more than purple, yellow frequent, the prevalent tone of the color
groups warm; the sky always blue, the whole effect somewhat resembling
that of the Northern painted glass of the same century--and chastened in
the same manner by noble neutral tints or greens; yet all somewhat
unconsidered and unsystematic, painful discords not unfrequent. The
material and ornaments of dress are never particularized, no imitations
of texture or jewelry, yet shot stuffs of two colors frequent. The
drawing often powerful, though of course uninformed; the mastery of
mental expression by bodily motion, and of bodily motion, past and
future, by a single gesture, altogether unrivaled even by Raffaelle;--it
is obtained chiefly by throwing the emphasis always on the right line,
admitting straight lines of great severity, and never dividing the main
drift of the drapery by inferior folds; neither are accidents allowed to
interfere--the garments fall heavily and in marked angles--nor are they
affected by the wind, except under circumstances of very rapid motion.
The ideal of the face is often solemn--seldom beautiful; occasionally
ludicrous failures occur: in the smallest designs the face is very often
a dead letter, or worse: and in all, Giotto's handling is generally to
be distinguished from that of any of his followers by its bluntness. In
the school work we find sweeter types of feature, greater finish,
stricter care, more delicate outline, fewer errors, but on the whole
less life.

69. Finally, and on this we would especially insist, Giotto's genius is
not to be considered as struggling with difficulty and repressed by
ignorance, but as appointed, for the good of men, to come into the world
exactly at the time when its rapidity of invention was not likely to be
hampered by demands for imitative dexterity or neatness of finish; and
when, owing to the very ignorance which has been unwisely regretted, the
simplicity of his thoughts might be uttered with a childlike and
innocent sweetness, never to be recovered in times of prouder knowledge.
The dramatic power of his works, rightly understood, could receive no
addition from artificial arrangement of shade, or scientific exhibition
of anatomy, and we have reason to be deeply grateful when afterwards
"inland far" with Buonaroti and Titian, that we can look back to the
Giotteschi--to see those children

       "Sport upon the shore
   And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore."

We believe Giotto himself felt this--unquestionably he could have
carried many of his works much farther in finish, had he so willed it;
but he chose rather to multiply motives than to complete details. Thus
we recur to our great principle of Separate gift. The man who spends his
life in toning colors must leave the treasures of his invention
untold--let each have his perfect work; and while we thank Bellini and
Leonardo for their deeply wrought dyes, and life-labored utterance of
passionate thought; let us remember also what cause, but for the
remorseless destruction of myriads of his works, we should have had to
thank Giotto, in that, abandoning all proud effort, he chose rather to
make the stones of Italy cry out with one voice of pauseless praise, and
to fill with perpetual remembrance of the Saints he loved, and perpetual
honor of the God he worshiped, palace chamber and convent cloister,
lifted tower and lengthened wall, from the utmost blue of the plain of
Padua to the Southern wildernesses of the hermit-haunted Apennine.

70. From the head of the Dramatic branch of Art, we turn to the first of
the great Contemplative Triad, associated, as it most singularly happens
in name as well as in heart; Orcagna--Arcagnuolo; Fra Giovanni--detto
Angelico; and Michael Angelo:--the first two names being bestowed by
contemporary admiration.

       *       *       *

"Orcagna was born apparently about the middle of the (14th) century, and
was christened Andrea, by which name, with the addition of that of his
father, Cione, he always designated himself; that, however, of Orcagna,
a corruption of Arcagnuolo, or 'The Archangel,' was given him by his
contemporaries, and by this he has become known to posterity.

"The earliest works of Orcagna will be found in that sanctuary of
Semi-Byzantine art, the Campo Santo of Pisa. He there painted three of
the four 'Novissima,' Death, Judgment, Hell, and Paradise--the two
former entirely himself, the third with the assistance of his brother
Bernardo, who is said to have colored it after his designs. The first of
the series, a most singular performance, had for centuries been
popularly known as the 'Trionfo della Morte.' It is divided by an
immense rock into two irregular portions. In that to the right, Death,
personified as a female phantom, batwinged, claw-footed, her robe of
linked mail [?] and her long hair streaming on the wind, swings back her
scythe in order to cut down a company of the rich ones of the earth,
Castruccio Castracani and his gay companions, seated under an
orange-grove, and listening to the music of a troubadour and a female
minstrel; little genii or Cupids, with reversed torches, float in the
air above them; one young gallant caresses his hawk, a lady her
lapdog,--Castruccio alone looks abstractedly away, as if his thoughts
were elsewhere. But all are alike heedless and unconscious, though the
sand is run out, the scythe falling and their doom sealed. Meanwhile the
lame and the halt, the withered and the blind, to whom the heavens are
brass and life a burthen, cry on Death with impassioned gestures, to
release them from their misery,--but in vain; she sweeps past, and will
not hear them. Between these two groups lie a heap of corpses, mown down
already in her flight--kings, queens, bishops, cardinals, young men and
maidens, secular and ecclesiastical--ensigned by their crowns, coronets,
necklaces, miters and helmets--huddled together in hideous confusion;
some are dead, others dying,--angels and devils draw the souls out of
their mouths; that of a nun (in whose hand a purse, firmly clenched,
betokens her besetting sin) shrinks back aghast at the unlooked-for
sight of the demon who receives it--an idea either inherited or adopted
from Andrea Tafi. The whole upper half of the fresco, on this side, is
filled with angels and devils carrying souls to heaven or to hell;
sometimes a struggle takes place, and a soul is rescued from a demon who
has unwarrantably appropriated it; the angels are very graceful, and
their intercourse with their spiritual charge is full of tenderness and
endearment; on the other hand, the wicked are hurried off by the devils
and thrown headlong into the mouths of hell, represented as the crater
of a volcano, belching out flames nearly in the center of the
composition. These devils exhibit every variety of horror in form and
feature."--Vol. iii., pp. 130-134.

       *       *       *

71. We wish our author had been more specific in his account of this
wonderful fresco. The portrait of Castruccio ought to have been
signalized as a severe disappointment to the admirers of the heroic
Lucchese: the face is flat, lifeless, and sensual, though fine in
feature. The group of mendicants occupying the center are especially
interesting, as being among the first existing examples of hard study
from the model: all are evidently portraits--and the effect of deformity
on the lines of the countenance rendered with appalling truth; the
retractile muscles of the mouth wrinkled and fixed--the jaws
projecting--the eyes hungry and glaring--the eyebrows grisly and stiff,
the painter having drawn each hair separately: the two stroppiati with
stumps instead of arms are especially characteristic, as the observer
may at once determine by comparing them with the descendants of the
originals, of whom he will at any time find two, or more, waiting to
accompany his return across the meadow in front of the Duomo: the old
woman also, nearest of the group, with gray disheveled hair and gray
coat, with a brown girdle and gourd flask, is magnificent, and the
archetype of all modern conceptions of witch. But the crowning stroke of
feeling is dependent on a circumstance seldom observed. As Castruccio
and his companions are seated under the shade of an orange grove, so the
mendicants are surrounded by a thicket of _teasels_, and a branch of
ragged thorn is twisted like a crown about their sickly temples and
weedy hair.

72. We do not altogether agree with our author in thinking that the
devils exhibit every variety of horror; we rather fear that the
spectator might at first be reminded by them of what is commonly known
as the Dragon pattern of Wedgwood ware. There is invention in them
however--and energy; the eyes are always terrible, though simply
drawn--a black ball set forward, and two-thirds surrounded by a narrow
crescent of white, under a shaggy brow; the mouths are frequently
magnificent; that of a demon accompanying a thrust of a spear with a
growl, on the right of the picture, is interesting as an example of the
development of the canine teeth noticed by Sir Charles Bell ("Essay on
Expression," p. 138)--its capacity of laceration is unlimited: another,
snarling like a tiger at an angel who has pulled a soul out of his
claws, is equally well conceived; we know nothing like its ferocity
except Rembrandt's sketches of wounded wild beasts. The angels we think
generally disappointing; they are for the most part diminutive in size,
and the crossing of the extremities of the two wings that cover the
feet, gives them a coleopterous, cockchafer look, which is not a little
undignified; the colors of their plumes are somewhat coarse and
dark--one is covered with silky hair, instead of feathers. The souls
they contend for are indeed of sweet expression; but exceedingly earthly
in contour, the painter being unable to deal with the nude form. On the
whole, he seems to have reserved his highest powers for the fresco which
follows next in order, the scene of Resurrection and Judgment.

       *       *       *

"It is, in the main, the traditional Byzantine composition, even more
rigidly symmetrical than usual, singularly contrasting in this respect
with the rush and movement of the preceding compartment. Our Saviour and
the Virgin, seated side by side, each on a rainbow and within a vesica
piscis, appear in the sky--Our Saviour uttering the words of
malediction with uplifted arm, showing the wound in his side, and nearly
in the attitude of Michael Angelo, but in wrath, not in fury--the Virgin
timidly drawing back and gazing down in pity and sorrow. I never saw
this co-equal juxtaposition in any other representation of the Last
Judgment."--Vol. iii., p. 136.

       *       *       *

73. The positions of our Saviour and of the Virgin are not strictly
co-equal; the glory in which the Madonna is seated is both lower and
less; but the equality is more complete in the painting of the same
subject in Santa M. Novella. We believe Lord Lindsay is correct in
thinking Orcagna the only artist who has dared it. We question whether
even wrath be intended in the countenance of the principal figure; on
the contrary, we think it likely to disappoint at first, and appear
lifeless in its exceeding tranquillity; the brow is indeed slightly
knit, but the eyes have no local direction. They comprehend all
things--are set upon all spirits alike, as in that _word-fresco_ of our
own, not unworthy to be set side by side with this, the Vision of the
Trembling Man in the House of the Interpreter. The action is as majestic
as the countenance--the right hand seems raised rather to show its wound
(as the left points at the same instant to the wound in the side), than
in condemnation, though its gesture has been adopted as one of
threatening--first (and very nobly) by Benozzo Gozzoli, in the figure of
the Angel departing, looking towards Sodom--and afterwards, with
unfortunate exaggeration, by Michael Angelo. Orcagna's Madonna we think
a failure, but his strength has been more happily displayed in the
Apostolic circle. The head of St. John is peculiarly beautiful. The
other Apostles look forward or down as in judgment--some in indignation,
some in pity, some serene--but the eyes of St. John are fixed upon the
Judge Himself with the stability of love--intercession and sorrow
struggling for utterance with awe--and through both is seen a tremor of
submissive astonishment, that the lips which had once forbidden his to
call down fire from heaven should now themselves burn with irrevocable

       *       *       *

74. "One feeling for the most part pervades this side of the
composition,--there is far more variety in the other; agony is depicted
with fearful intensity and in every degree and character; some clasp
their hands, some hide their faces, some look up in despair, but none
towards Christ; others seem to have grown idiots with horror:--a few
gaze, as if fascinated, into the gulf of fire towards which the whole
mass of misery are being urged by the ministers of doom--the flames bite
them, the devils fish for and catch them with long grappling-hooks:--in
sad contrast to the group on the opposite side, a queen, condemned
herself but self-forgetful, vainly struggles to rescue her daughter from
a demon who has caught her by the gown and is dragging her backwards
into the abyss--her sister, wringing her hands, looks on in agony--it is
a fearful scene.

"A vast rib or arch in the walls of pandemonium admits one into the
contiguous gulf of Hell, forming the third fresco, or rather a
continuation of the second--in which Satan sits in the midst, in
gigantic terror, cased in armor and crunching sinners--of whom Judas,
especially, is eaten and ejected, re-eaten and re-ejected again and
again forever. The punishments of the wicked are portrayed in circles
numberless around him. But in everything save horror this compartment is
inferior to the preceding, and it has been much injured and
repainted."--Vol. iii., p. 138.

       *       *       *

75. We might have been spared all notice of this last compartment.
Throughout Italy, owing, it may be supposed, to the interested desire of
the clergy to impress upon the populace as forcibly as possible the
verity of purgatorial horrors, nearly every representation of the
Inferno has been repainted, and vulgar butchery substituted for the
expressions of punishment which were too chaste for monkish purposes.
The infernos of Giotto at Padua, and of Orcagna at Florence, have thus
been destroyed; but in neither case have they been replaced by anything
so merely disgusting as these restorations by Solazzino in the Campo
Santo. Not a line of Orcagna's remains, except in one row of figures
halfway up the wall, where his firm black drawing is still
distinguishable: throughout the rest of the fresco, hillocks of pink
flesh have been substituted for his severe forms--and for his agonized
features, puppets' heads with roaring mouths and staring eyes, the whole
as coarse and sickening, and quite as weak, as any scrabble on the
lowest booths of a London Fair.

76. Lord Lindsay's comparison of these frescoes of Orcagna with the
great work in the Sistine, is, as a specimen of his writing, too good
not to be quoted.

       *       *       *

"While Michael Angelo's leading idea seems to be the self-concentration
and utter absorption of all feeling into the one predominant thought,
_Am I, individually, safe?_ resolving itself into two emotions only,
doubt and despair--all diversities of character, all kindred sympathies
annihilated under their pressure--those emotions uttering themselves,
not through the face but the form, by bodily contortion, rendering the
whole composition, with all its overwhelming merits, a mighty
hubbub--Orcagna's on the contrary embraces the whole world of passions
that make up the economy of man, and these not confused or crushed
into each other, but expanded and enhanced in quality and
intensity commensurably with the 'change' attendant upon the
resurrection--variously expressed indeed, and in reference to the
diversities of individual character, which will be nowise compromised by
that change, yet from their very intensity suppressed and subdued,
stilling the body and informing only the soul's index, the countenance.
All therefore is calm; the saved have acquiesced in all things, they can
mourn no more--the damned are to them as if they had never been;--among
the lost, grief is too deep, too settled for caricature, and while every
feeling of the spectator, every key of the soul's organ, is played upon
by turns, tenderness and pity form the under-song throughout and
ultimately prevail; the curse is uttered in sorrow rather than wrath,
and from the pitying Virgin and the weeping archangel above, to the
mother endeavoring to rescue her daughter below, and the young secular
led to paradise under the approving smile of S. Michael, all resolves
itself into sympathy and love.--Michael Angelo's conception may be more
efficacious for teaching by terror--it was his object, I believe, as the
heir of Savonarola and the representative of the Protestant spirit
within the bosom of Catholicism; but Orcagna's is in better taste, truer
to human nature, sublimer in philosophy, and (if I mistake not) more
scriptural."--Vol. iii., pp. 139-141.

       *       *       *

77. We think it somewhat strange that the object of teaching by terror
should be attributed to M. Angelo more than to Orcagna, seeing that the
former, with his usual dignity, has refused all representation of
infernal punishment--except in the figure dragged down with the hand
over the face, the serpent biting the thigh, and in the fiends of the
extreme angle; while Orcagna, whose intention may be conjectured even
from Solazzino's restoration, exhausted himself in detailing Dante's
distribution of torture, and brings into successive prominence every
expedient of pain; the prong, the spit, the rack, the chain, venomous
fang and rending beak, harrowing point and dividing edge, biting fiend
and calcining fire. The objects of the two great painters were indeed
opposed, but not in this respect. Orcagna's, like that of every great
painter of his day, was to write upon the wall, as in a book, the
greatest possible number of those religious facts or doctrines which the
Church desired should be known to the people. This he did in the
simplest and most straightforward way, regardless of artistical
reputation, and desiring only to be read and understood. But Michael
Angelo's object was from the beginning that of an artist. He addresses
not the sympathies of his day, but the understanding of all time, and he
treats the subject in the mode best adapted to bring every one of his
own powers into full play. As might have been expected, while the
self-forgetfulness of Orcagna has given, on the one hand, an awfulness
to his work, and verity, which are wanting in the studied composition of
the Sistine, on the other it has admitted a puerility commensurate with
the narrowness of the religion he had to teach.

78. Greater differences still result from the opposed powers and
idiosyncrasies of the two men. Orcagna was unable to draw the nude--on
this inability followed a coldness to the value of flowing lines, and to
the power of unity in composition--neither could he indicate motion or
buoyancy in flying or floating figures, nor express violence of action
in the limbs--he cannot even show the difference between pulling and
pushing in the muscles of the arm. In M. Angelo these conditions were
directly reversed. Intense sensibility to the majesty of writhing,
flowing, and connected lines, was in him associated with a power,
unequaled except by Angelico, of suggesting aërial motion--motion
deliberate or disturbed, inherent or impressed, impotent or
inspired--gathering into glory, or gravitating to death. Orcagna was
therefore compelled to range his figures symmetrically in ordered lines,
while Michael Angelo bound them into chains, or hurled them into heaps,
or scattered them before him as the wind does leaves. Orcagna trusted
for all his expression to the countenance, or to rudely explained
gesture aided by grand fall of draperies, though in all these points he
was still immeasurably inferior to his colossal rival. As for his
"embracing the whole world of passions which make up the economy of
man," he had no such power of delineation--nor, we believe, of
conception. The expressions on the inferno side are all of them
varieties of grief and fear, differing merely in degree, not in
character or operation: there is something dramatic in the raised hand
of a man wearing a green bonnet with a white plume--but the only really
far-carried effort in the group is the head of a Dominican monk (just
above the queen in green), who, in the midst of the close crowd,
struggling, shuddering, and howling on every side, is fixed in quiet,
total despair, insensible to all things, and seemingly poised in
existence and sensation upon that one point in his past life when his
steps first took hold on hell; this head, which is opposed to a face
distorted by horror beside it, is, we repeat, the only highly wrought
piece of expression in the group.

79. What Michael Angelo could do by expression of countenance alone, let
the Pietà of Genoa tell, or the Lorenzo, or the parallel to this very
head of Orcagna's, the face of the man borne down in the Last Judgment
with the hand clenched over one of the eyes. Neither in that fresco is
he wanting in dramatic episode; the adaptation of the Niobe on the
spectator's left hand is far finer than Orcagna's condemned queen and
princess; the groups rising below, side by side, supporting each other,
are full of tenderness, and reciprocal devotion; the contest in the
center for the body which a demon drags down by the hair is another kind
of quarrel from that of Orcagna between a feathered angel and bristly
fiend for a diminutive soul--reminding us, as it forcibly did at first,
of a vociferous difference in opinion between a cat and a cockatoo. But
Buonaroti knew that it was useless to concentrate interest in the
countenances, in a picture of enormous size, ill lighted; and he
preferred giving full play to the powers of line-grouping, for which he
could have found no nobler field. Let us not by unwise comparison mingle
with our admiration of these two sublime works any sense of weakness in
the naïveté of the one, or of coldness in the science of the other. Each
painter has his own sufficient dominion, and he who complains of the
want of knowledge in Orcagna, or of the display of it in Michael Angelo,
has probably brought little to his judgment of either.

80. One passage more we must quote, well worthy of remark in these days
of hollowness and haste, though we question the truth of the particular
fact stated in the second volume respecting the shrine of Or San
Michele. Cement is now visible enough in all the joints, but whether
from recent repairs we cannot say:--

"There is indeed another, a technical merit, due to Orcagna, which I
would have mentioned earlier, did it not partake so strongly of a moral
virtue. Whatever he undertook to do, he did well--by which I mean,
better than anybody else. His Loggia, in its general structure and its
provisions against injury from wet and decay, is a model of strength no
less than symmetry and elegance; the junction of the marbles in the
tabernacle of Or San Michele, and the exquisite manual workmanship of
the bas-reliefs, have been the theme of praise for five centuries; his
colors in the Campo Santo have maintained a freshness unrivaled by those
of any of his successors there;--nay, even had his mosaics been
preserved at Orvieto, I am confident the _commettitura_ would be found
more compact and polished than any previous to the sixteenth century.
The secret of all this was that he made himself thoroughly an adept in
the mechanism of the respective arts, and therefore his works have
stood. Genius is too apt to think herself independent of form and
matter--never was there such a mistake; she cannot slight either without
hamstringing herself. But the rule is of universal application; without
this thorough mastery of their respective tools, this determination
honestly to make the best use of them, the divine, the soldier, the
statesman, the philosopher, the poet--however genuine their enthusiasm,
however lofty their genius--are mere empirics, pretenders to crowns they
will not run for, children not men--sporters with Imagination, triflers
with Reason, with the prospects of humanity, with Time, and with
God."--Vol. iii., pp. 148, 149.

       *       *       *

A noble passage this, and most true, provided we distinguish always
between mastery of tool together with thorough strength of workmanship,
and mere neatness of outside polish or fitting of measurement, of which
ancient masters are daringly scornful.

81. None of Orcagna's pupils, except Francisco Traini, attained

       *       *       *

"nothing in fact is known of them except their names. Had their works,
however inferior, been preserved, we might have had less difficulty in
establishing the links between himself and his successor in the
supremacy of the Semi-Byzantine school at Florence, the Beato Fra
Angelico da Fiesole.... He was born at Vicchio, near Florence, it is
said in 1387, and was baptized by the name of Guido. Of a gentle nature,
averse to the turmoil of the world, and pious to enthusiasm, though as
free from fanaticism as his youth was innocent of vice, he determined,
at the age of twenty, though well provided for in a worldly point of
view, to retire to the cloister; he professed himself accordingly a
brother of the monastery of S. Domenico at Fiesole in 1407, assuming his
monastic name from the Apostle of love, S. John. He acquired from his
residence there the distinguishing surname 'da Fiesole;' and a calmer
retreat for one weary of earth and desirous of commerce with heaven
would in vain be sought for;--the purity of the atmosphere, the
freshness of the morning breeze, the starry clearness and delicious
fragrance of the nights, the loveliness of the valley at one's feet,
lengthening out, like a life of happiness, between the Apennine and the
sea--with the intermingling sounds that ascend perpetually from below,
softened by distance into music, and by an agreeable compromise at once
giving a zest to solitude and cheating it of its loneliness--rendering
Fiesole a spot which angels might alight upon by mistake in quest of
paradise, a spot where it would be at once sweet to live and sweet to
die."--Vol. iii., pp. 151-153.

       *       *       *

82. Our readers must recollect that the convent where Fra Giovanni first
resided is not that whose belfry tower and cypress grove crown the "top
of Fésole." The Dominican convent is situated at the bottom of the slope
of olives, distinguished only by its narrow and low spire; a cypress
avenue recedes from it towards Florence--a stony path, leading to the
ancient Badia of Fiesole, descends in front of the three-arched loggia
which protects the entrance to the church. No extended prospect is open
to it; though over the low wall, and through the sharp, thickset olive
leaves, may be seen one silver gleam of the Arno, and, at evening, the
peaks of the Carrara mountains, purple against the twilight, dark and
calm, while the fire-flies glance beneath, silent and intermittent, like
stars upon the rippling of mute, soft sea.

       *       *       *

"It is by no means an easy task to adjust the chronology of Fra
Angelico's works; he has affixed no dates to them, and consequently,
when external evidence is wanting, we are thrown upon internal, which in
his case is unusually fallacious. It is satisfactory therefore to
possess a fixed date in 1433, the year in which he painted the great
tabernacle for the Company of Flax-merchants, now removed to the gallery
of the Uffizii. It represents the Virgin and child, with attendant
Saints, on a gold ground--very dignified and noble, although the Madonna
has not attained the exquisite spirituality of his later efforts. Round
this tabernacle as a nucleus, may be classed a number of paintings, all
of similar excellence--admirable that is to say, but not of his very
best, and in which, if I mistake not, the type of the Virgin bears
throughout a strong family resemblance."--Vol. iii., pp. 160, 161.

       *       *       *

83. If the painter ever increased in power after this period (he was
then forty-three), we have been unable to systematize the improvement.
We much doubt whether, in his modes of execution, advance were possible.
Men whose merit lies in record of natural facts, increase in knowledge;
and men whose merit is in dexterity of hand increase in facility; but we
much doubt whether the faculty of design, or force of feeling, increase
after the age of twenty-five. By Fra Angelico, who drew always in fear
and trembling, dexterous execution had been from the first repudiated;
he neither needed nor sought technical knowledge of the form, and the
inspiration, to which his power was owing, was not less glowing in youth
than in age. The inferiority traceable (we grant) in this Madonna
results not from its early date, but from Fra Angelico's incapability,
always visible, of drawing the head of life size. He is, in this
respect, the exact reverse of Giotto; he was essentially a miniature
painter, and never attained the mastery of muscular play in the features
necessary in a full-sized drawing. His habit, almost constant, of
surrounding the iris of the eye by a sharp black line, is, in small
figures, perfectly successful, giving a transparency and tenderness not
otherwise expressible. But on a larger scale it gives a stony stare to
the eyeball, which not all the tenderness of the brow and mouth can
conquer or redeem.

84. Further, in this particular instance, the ear has by accident been
set too far back--(Fra Angelico, drawing only from feeling, was liable
to gross errors of this kind,--often, however, more beautiful than other
men's truths)--and the hair removed in consequence too far off the brow;
in other respects the face is very noble--still more so that of the
Christ. The child _stands_ upon the Virgin's knees,[9] one hand raised
in the usual attitude of benediction, the other holding a globe. The
face looks straightforward, quiet, Jupiter-like, and very sublime, owing
to the smallness of the features in proportion to the head, the eyes
being placed at about three-sevenths of the whole height, leaving
four-sevenths for the brow, and themselves only in length about
one-sixth of the breadth of the face, half closed, giving a peculiar
appearance of repose. The hair is short, golden, symmetrically curled,
statuesque in its contour; the mouth tender and full of life: the red
cross of the glory about the head of an intense ruby enamel, almost fire
color; the dress brown, with golden girdle. In all the treatment Fra
Angelico maintains his assertion of the authority of abstract
imagination, which, depriving his subject of all material or actual
being, contemplates it as retaining qualities eternal only--adorned by
incorporeal splendor. The eyes of the beholder are supernaturally
unsealed: and to this miraculous vision whatever is of the earth
vanishes, and all things are seen endowed with an harmonious glory--the
garments falling with strange, visionary grace, glowing with indefinite
gold--the walls of the chamber dazzling as of a heavenly city--the
mortal forms themselves impressed with divine changelessness--no
domesticity--no jest--no anxiety--no expectation--no variety of action
or of thought. Love, all fulfilling, and various modes of power, are
alone expressed; the Virgin never shows the complacency or petty
watchfulness of maternity; she sits serene, supporting the child whom
she ever looks upon, as a stranger among strangers; "Behold the handmaid
of the Lord" forever written upon her brow.

85. An approach to an exception in treatment is found in the
Annunciation of the upper corridor of St. Mark's, most unkindly treated
by our author:--

       *       *       *

"Probably the earliest of the series--full of faults, but imbued with
the sweetest feeling; there is a look of naïve curiosity, mingling with
the modest and meek humility of the Virgin, which almost provokes a
smile."--iii., 176.

       *       *       *

Many a Sabbath evening of bright summer have we passed in that lonely
corridor--but not to the finding of faults, nor the provoking of smiles.
The angel is perhaps something less majestic than is usual with the
painter; but the Virgin is only the more to be worshiped, because here,
for once, set before us in the verity of life. No gorgeous robe is upon
her; no lifted throne set for her; the golden border gleams faintly on
the dark blue dress; the seat is drawn into the shadow of a lowly
loggia. The face is of no strange, far-sought loveliness; the features
might even be thought hard, and they are worn with watching, and severe,
though innocent. She stoops forward with her arms folded on her bosom:
no casting down of eye nor shrinking of the frame in fear; she is too
earnest, too self-forgetful for either: wonder and inquiry are there,
but chastened and free from doubt; meekness, yet mingled with a patient
majesty; peace, yet sorrowfully sealed, as if the promise of the Angel
were already underwritten by the prophecy of Simeon. They who pass and
repass in the twilight of that solemn corridor, need not the adjuration
inscribed beneath:--

   "Virginis intactae cum veneris ante figuram
   Praetereundo cave ne sileatur Ave."[10]

We in general allow the inferiority of Angelico's fresco to his tempera
works; yet even that which of all these latter we think the most
radiant, the Annunciation on the reliquary of Santa Maria Novella,
would, we believe, if repeatedly compared with this of St. Mark's, in
the end have the disadvantage. The eminent value of the tempera
paintings results partly from their delicacy of line, and partly from
the purity of color and force of decoration of which the material is

86. The passage, to which we have before alluded, respecting Fra
Angelico's color in general, is one of the most curious and fanciful in
the work:--

       *       *       *

"His coloring, on the other hand, is far more beautiful, although of
questionable brilliancy. This will be found invariably the case in minds
constituted like his. Spirit and Sense act on each other with livelier
reciprocity the closer their approximation, the less intervention there
is of Intellect. Hence the most religious and the most sensual painters
have always loved the brightest colors--Spiritual Expression and a
clearly defined (however inaccurate) outline forming the distinction of
the former class; Animal Expression and a confused and uncertain outline
(reflecting that lax morality which confounds the limits of light and
darkness, right and wrong) of the latter. On the other hand, the more
that Intellect, or the spirit of Form, intervenes in its severe
precision, the less pure, the paler grow the colors, the nearer they
tend to the hue of marble, of the bas-relief. We thus find the purest
and brightest colors only in Fra Angelico's pictures, with a general
predominance of blue, which we have observed to prevail more or less in
so many of the Semi-Byzantine painters, and which, fanciful as it may
appear, I cannot but attribute, independently of mere tradition, to an
inherent, instinctive sympathy between their mental constitution and the
color in question; as that of red, or of blood, may be observed to
prevail among painters in whom Sense or Nature predominates over
Spirit--for in this, as in all things else, the moral and the material
world respond to each other as closely as shadow and substance. But, in
Painting as in Morals, perfection implies the due intervention of
Intellect between Spirit and Sense--of Form between Expression and
Coloring--as a power at once controlling and controlled--and therefore,
although acknowledging its fascination, I cannot unreservedly praise the
Coloring of Fra Angelico."--Vol. iii., pp. 193, 194.

       *       *       *

87. There is much ingenuity, and some truth, here, but the reader, as in
other of Lord Lindsay's speculations, must receive his conclusions with
qualification. It is the natural character of strong effects of color,
as of high light, to confuse outlines; and it is a necessity in all fine
harmonies of color that many tints should merge imperceptibly into their
following or succeeding ones:--we believe Lord Lindsay himself would
hardly wish to mark the hues of the rainbow into divided zones, or to
show its edge, as of an iron arch, against the sky, in order that it
might no longer reflect (a reflection of which we profess ourselves up
to this moment altogether unconscious) "that lax morality which
confounds the limits of right and wrong." Again, there is a character of
energy in all warm colors, as of repose in cold, which necessarily
causes the former to be preferred by painters of savage subject--that
is to say, commonly by the coarsest and most degraded;--but when
sensuality is free from ferocity, it leans to blue more than to red (as
especially in the flesh tints of Guido), and when intellect prevails
over this sensuality, its first step is invariably to put more red into
every color, and so "rubor est virtutis color." We hardly think Lord
Lindsay would willingly include Luca Giordano among his spiritual
painters, though that artist's servant was materially enriched by
washing the ultramarine from the brushes with which he painted the
Ricardi palace; nor would he, we believe, degrade Ghirlandajo to
fellowship with the herd of the sensual, though in the fresco of the
vision of Zacharias there are seventeen different reds in large masses,
and not a shade of blue. The fact is, there is no color of the spectrum,
as there is no note of music, whose key and prevalence may not be made
pure in expression, and elevating in influence, by a great and good
painter, or degraded to unhallowed purpose by a base one.

88. We are sorry that our author "cannot unreservedly praise the
coloring of Angelico;" but he is again curbed by his unhappy system of
balanced perfectibility, and must quarrel with the gentle monk because
he finds not in him the flames of Giorgione, nor the tempering of
Titian, nor the melody of Cagliari. This curb of perfection we took
between our teeth from the first, and we will give up our hearts to
Angelico without drawback or reservation. His color is, in its sphere
and to its purpose, as perfect as human work may be: wrought to radiance
beyond that of the ruby and opal, its inartificialness prevents it from
arresting the attention it is intended only to direct; were it composed
with more science it would become vulgar from the loss of its
unconsciousness; if richer, it must have parted with its purity, if
deeper, with its joyfulness, if more subdued, with its sincerity.
Passages are, indeed, sometimes unsuccessful; but it is to be judged in
its rapture, and forgiven in its fall: he who works by law and system
may be blamed when he sinks below the line above which he proposes no
elevation, but to him whose eyes are on a mark far off, and whose
efforts are impulsive, and to the utmost of his strength, we may not
unkindly count the slips of his sometime descent into the valley of

89. The concluding notice of Angelico is true and interesting, though
rendered obscure by useless recurrence to the favorite theory.

       *       *       *

"Such are the surviving works of a painter, who has recently been as
unduly extolled as he had for three centuries past been unduly
depreciated,--depreciated, through the amalgamation during those
centuries of the principle of which he was the representative with
baser, or at least less precious matter--extolled, through the
recurrence to that principle, in its pure, unsophisticated essence, in
the present --in a word, to the simple Imaginative Christianity of the
middle ages, as opposed to the complex Reasoning Christianity of recent
times. Creeds therefore are at issue, and no exclusive partisan, neither
Catholic nor Protestant in the absolute sense of the terms, can fairly
appreciate Fra Angelico. Nevertheless, to those who regard society as
progressive through the gradual development of the component elements of
human nature, and who believe that Providence has accommodated the mind
of man, individually, to the perception of half-truths only, in order to
create that antagonism from which Truth is generated in the abstract,
and by which the progression is effected, his rank and position in art
are clear and definite. All that Spirit could achieve by herself,
anterior to that struggle with Intellect and Sense which she must in all
cases pass through in order to work out her destiny, was accomplished by
him. Last and most gifted of a long and imaginative race--the heir of
their experience, with collateral advantages which they possessed
not--and flourishing at the moment when the transition was actually
taking place from the youth to the early manhood of Europe; he gave
full, unreserved, and enthusiastic expression to that Love and Hope
which had winged the Faith of Christendom in her flight towards heaven
for fourteen centuries,--to those yearnings of the Heart and the
Imagination which ever precede, in Universal as well as Individual
development, the severer and more chastened intelligence of
Reason."--Vol. iii., pp. 188-190.

       *       *       *

90. We must again repeat that if our author wishes to be truly
serviceable to the schools of England, he must express himself in terms
requiring less laborious translation. Clearing the above statement of
its mysticism and metaphor, it amounts only to this,--that Fra Angelico
was a man of (humanly speaking) _perfect_ piety--humility, charity, and
faith--that he never employed his art but as a means of expressing his
love to God and man, and with the view, single, simple, and
straightforward, of glory to the Creator, and good to the Creature.
Every quality or subject of art by which these ends were not to be
attained, or to be attained secondarily only, he rejected; from all
study of art, as such, he withdrew; whatever might merely please the
eye, or interest the intellect, he despised, and refused; he used his
colors and lines, as David his harp, after a kingly fashion, for
purposes of praise and not of science. To this grace and gift of
holiness were added, those of a fervent imagination, vivid invention,
keen sense of loveliness in lines and colors, unwearied energy, and to
all these gifts the crowning one of quietness of life and mind, while
yet his convent-cell was at first within view, and afterwards in the
center, of a city which had lead of all the world in Intellect, and in
whose streets he might see daily and hourly the noblest setting of manly
features. It would perhaps be well to wait until we find another man
thus actuated, thus endowed, and thus circumstanced, before we speak of
"unduly extolling" the works of Fra Angelico.

91. His artistical attainments, as might be conjectured, are nothing
more than the development, through practice, of his natural powers in
accordance with his sacred instincts. His power of expression by bodily
gesture is greater even than Giotto's, wherever he could feel or
comprehend the passion to be expressed; but so inherent in him was his
holy tranquillity of mind, that he could not by any exertion, even for a
moment, conceive either agitation, doubt, or fear--and all the actions
proceeding from such passions, or, _à fortiori_, from any yet more
criminal, are absurdly and powerlessly portrayed by him; while
contrariwise, every gesture, consistent with emotion pure and saintly,
is rendered with an intensity of truth to which there is no existing
parallel; the expression being carried out into every bend of the hand,
every undulation of the arm, shoulder, and neck, every fold of the dress
and every wave of the hair. His drawing of movement is subject to the
same influence; vulgar or vicious motion he cannot represent; his
running, falling, or struggling figures are drawn with childish
incapability; but give him for his scene the pavement of heaven, or
pastures of Paradise, and for his subject the "inoffensive pace" of
glorified souls, or the spiritual speed of Angels, and Michael Angelo
alone can contend with him in majesty,--in grace and musical
continuousness of motion, no one. The inspiration was in some degree
caught by his pupil Benozzo, but thenceforward forever lost. The angels
of Perugino appear to be let down by cords and moved by wires; that of
Titian, in the sacrifice of Isaac, kicks like an awkward swimmer;
Raphael's Moses and Elias of the Transfiguration are cramped at the
knees; and the flight of Domenichino's angels is a sprawl paralyzed. The
authority of Tintoret over movement is, on the other hand, too
unlimited; the descent of his angels is the swoop of a whirlwind or the
fall of a thunderbolt; his mortal impulses are oftener impetuous than
pathetic, and majestic more than melodious.

92. But it is difficult by words to convey to the reader unacquainted
with Angelico's works, any idea of the thoughtful variety of his
rendering of movement--Earnest haste of girded faith in the Flight into
Egypt, the haste of obedience, not of fear; and unweariedness, but
through spiritual support, and not in human strength--Swift obedience of
passive earth to the call of its Creator, in the Resurrection of
Lazarus--March of meditative gladness in the following of the Apostles
down the Mount of Olives--Rush of adoration breaking through the chains
and shadows of death, in the Spirits in Prison. Pacing of mighty angels
above the Firmament, poised on their upright wings, half opened, broad,
bright, quiet, like eastern clouds before the sun is up;--or going
forth, with timbrels and with dances, of souls more than conquerors,
beside the shore of the last great Red Sea, the sea of glass mingled
with fire, hand knit with hand, and voice with voice, the joyful winds
of heaven following the measure of their motion, and the flowers of the
new earth looking on, like stars pausing in their courses.

93. And yet all this is but the lowest part and narrowest reach of
Angelico's conceptions. Joy and gentleness, patience and power, he could
indicate by gesture--but Devotion could be told by the countenance only.
There seems to have been always a stern limit by which the thoughts of
other men were stayed; the religion that was painted even by Perugino,
Francia, and Bellini, was finite in its spirit--the religion of earthly
beings, checked, not indeed by the corruption, but by the veil and the
sorrow of clay. But with Fra Angelico the glory of the countenance
reaches to actual transfiguration; eyes that see no more darkly,
incapable of all tears, foreheads flaming, like Belshazzar's marble
wall, with the writing of the Father's name upon them, lips tremulous
with love, and crimson with the light of the coals of the altar--and all
this loveliness, thus enthusiastic and ineffable, yet sealed with the
stability which the coming and going of ages as countless as sea-sand
cannot dim nor weary, and bathed by an ever flowing river of holy
thought, with God for its source, God for its shore, and God for its

94. We speak in no inconsiderate enthusiasm. We feel assured that to any
person of just feeling who devotes sufficient time to the examination of
these works, all terms of description must seem derogatory. Where such
ends as these have been reached, it ill becomes us to speak of minor
deficiencies as either to be blamed or regretted: it cannot be
determined how far even what we deprecate may be accessory to our
delight, nor by what intricate involution what we deplore may be
connected with what we love. Every good that nature herself bestows, or
accomplishes, is given with a counterpoise, or gained at a sacrifice;
nor is it to be expected of Man that he should win the hardest battles
and tread the narrowest paths, without the betrayal of a weakness, or
the acknowledgment of an error.

95. With this final warning against our author's hesitating approbation
of what is greatest and best, we must close our specific examination of
the mode in which his design has been worked out. We have done enough to
set the reader upon his guard against whatever appears slight or
inconsiderate in his theory or statements, and with the more severity,
because this was alone wanting to render the book one of the most
valuable gifts which Art has ever received. Of the translations from the
lives of the saints we have hardly spoken; they are gracefully rendered,
and all of them highly interesting--but we could wish to see these, and
the enumerations of fresco subjects[11] with which the other volumes are
in great part occupied, published separately for the convenience of
travelers in Italy. They are something out of place in a work like that
before us. For the rest, we might have more interested the reader, and
gratified ourselves, by setting before him some of the many passages of
tender feeling and earnest eloquence with which the volumes are
replete--but we felt it necessary rather to anticipate the hesitation
with which they were liable to be received, and set limits to the halo
of fancy by which their light is obscured--though enlarged. One or two
paragraphs, however, of the closing chapter must be given before we

       *       *       *

96. "What a scene of beauty, what a flower-garden of art--how bright and
how varied--must Italy have presented at the commencement of the
sixteenth century, at the death of Raphael! The sacrileges we lament
took place for the most part after that period; hundreds of frescoes,
not merely of Giotto and those other elders of Christian Art, but of
Gentile da Fabriano, Pietro della Francesca, Perugino and their
compeers, were still existing, charming the eye, elevating the mind, and
warming the heart. Now alas! few comparatively and fading are the relics
of those great and good men. While Dante's voice rings as clear as ever,
communing with us as friend with friend, theirs is dying gradually away,
fainter and fainter, like the farewell of a spirit. Flaking off the
walls, uncared for and neglected save in a few rare instances, scarce
one of their frescoes will survive the century, and the labors of the
next may not improbably be directed to the recovery and restoration of
such as may still slumber beneath the whitewash and the daubs with which
the Bronzinos and Zuccheros 'et id genus omne' have unconsciously sealed
them up for posterity--their best title to our gratitude.--But why not
begin at once? at all events in the instances numberless, where merely
whitewash interposes between us and them.

"It is easy to reply--what need of this? They--the artists--have Moses
and the prophets, the frescoes of Raphael and Michael Angelo--let them
study them. Doubtless,--but we still reply, and with no impiety--they
will not repent, they will not forsake their idols and their evil
ways--they will not abandon Sense for Spirit, oils for fresco--unless
these great ones of the past, these Sleepers of Ephesus, arise from the
dead.... It is not by studying art in its perfection--by worshiping
Raphael and Michael Angelo exclusively of all other excellence--that we
can expect to rival them, but by re-ascending to the fountain-head--by
planting ourselves as acorns in the ground those oaks are rooted in, and
growing up to their level--in a word, by studying Duccio and Giotto that
we may paint like Taddeo di Bartolo and Masaccio, Taddeo di Bartolo and
Masaccio that we may paint like Perugino and Luca Signorelli, Perugino
and Luca Signorelli that we may paint like Raphael and Michael Angelo.
And why despair of this, or even of shaming the Vatican? For with genius
and God's blessing nothing is impossible.

"I would not be a blind partisan, but, with all their faults, the old
masters I plead for knew how to touch the heart. It may be difficult at
first to believe this; like children, they are shy with us--like
strangers, they bear an uncouth mien and aspect--like ghosts from the
other world, they have an awkward habit of shocking our
conventionalities with home truths. But with the dead as with the living
all depends on the frankness with which we greet them, the sincerity
with which we credit their kindly qualities; sympathy is the key to
truth--we must love, in order to appreciate."--iii., p. 418.

       *       *       *

97. These are beautiful sentences; yet this let the young painter of
these days remember always, that whomsoever he may love, or from
whomsoever learn, he can now no more go back to those hours of infancy
and be born again.[12] About the faith, the questioning and the
teaching of childhood there is a joy and grace, which we may often envy,
but can no more assume:--the voice and the gesture must not be imitated
when the innocence is lost. Incapability and ignorance in the act of
being struggled against and cast away are often endowed with a peculiar
charm--but both are only contemptible when they are pretended. Whatever
we have now to do, we may be sure, first, that its strength and life
must be drawn from the real nature with us and about us always, and
secondly, that, if worth doing, it will be something altogether
different from what has ever been done before. The visions of the
cloister must depart with its superstitious peace--the quick,
apprehensive symbolism of early Faith must yield to the abstract
teaching of disciplined Reason. Whatever else we may deem of the
Progress of Nations, one character of that progress is determined and
discernible. As in the encroaching of the land upon the sea, the
strength of the sandy bastions is raised out of the sifted ruin of
ancient inland hills--for every tongue of level land that stretches into
the deep, the fall of Alps has been heard among the clouds, and as the
fields of industry enlarge, the intercourse with Heaven is shortened.
Let it not be doubted that as this change is inevitable, so it is
expedient, though the form of teaching adopted and of duty prescribed be
less mythic and contemplative, more active and unassisted: for the light
of Transfiguration on the Mountain is substituted the Fire of Coals upon
the Shore, and on the charge to hear the Shepherd, follows that to feed
the Sheep. Doubtful we may be for a time, and apparently deserted; but
if, as we wait, we still look forward with steadfast will and humble
heart, so that our Hope for the Future may be fed, not dulled or
diverted by our Love for the Past, we shall not long be left without a
Guide:--the way will be opened, the Precursor appointed--the Hour will
come, and the Man.


[4] This essay is a review of two books by Lord Lindsay, viz.,
"Progression by Antagonism," published in 1846, and the "Sketches of the
History of Christian Art," which appeared in the following year. It is,
with the paper on Sir C. Eastlake's "History of Oil Painting," one of
the very few anonymous writings of its author. "I never felt at ease"
(says Mr. Ruskin, in speaking of anonymous criticism) "in my graduate
incognito, and although I consented, some nine years ago, to review Lord
Lindsay's 'Christian Art,' and Sir Charles Eastlake's 'Essay on Oil
Painting,' in the _Quarterly_, I have ever since steadily refused to
write even for that once respectable periodical" ("Academy Notes," No.
II., 1856). For Mr. Ruskin's estimate of Lord Lindsay's work, see the
"Eagle's Nest," § 46, and "Val d'Arno," § 264, where he speaks of him as
his "first master in Italian art."--[ED.]

[5] With one exception (see p. 25) the quotations from Lord Lindsay
are always from the "Christian Art."--ED.

[6] The reader must remember that this arcade was originally quite open,
the inner wall having been built after the fire, in 1574.

[7] "An Historical Essay on Architecture" by the late Thomas Hope.
(Murray, 1835) chap, iv., pp. 23-31.

[8] At the feet of his Madonna, in the Gallery of Bologna.

[9] In many pictures of Angelico, the Infant Christ appears
self-supported--the Virgin not touching the child.

[10] The upper inscription Lord Lindsay has misquoted--it runs thus:--

"Salve Mater Pietatis Et Totius Trinitatis Nobile Triclinium."

[11] We have been much surprised by the author's frequent reference to
Lasinio's engravings of various frescoes, unaccompanied by any warning
of their inaccuracy. No work of Lasinio's can be trusted for _anything_
except the number and relative position of the figures. All masters are
by him translated into one monotony of commonplace:--he dilutes
eloquence, educates naïveté, prompts ignorance, stultifies intelligence,
and paralyzes power; takes the chill off horror, the edge off wit, and
the bloom off beauty. In all artistical points he is utterly valueless,
neither drawing nor expression being ever preserved by him. Giotto,
Benozzo, or Ghirlandajo are all alike to him; and we hardly know whether
he injures most when he robs or when he redresses.

[12] We do not perhaps enough estimate the assistance which was once
given both to purpose and perception, by the feeling of wonder which
with us is destroyed partly by the ceaseless calls upon it, partly by
our habit of either discovering or anticipating a reason for everything.
Of the simplicity and ready surprise of heart which supported the spirit
of the older painters, an interesting example is seen in the diary of
Albert Dürer, lately published in a work every way valuable, but
especially so in the carefulness and richness of its illustrations,
"Divers Works of Early Masters in Christian Decoration," edited by John
Weale, London, 2 vols. folio, 1846.


98. The stranger in Florence who for the first time passes through the
iron gate which opens from the Green Cloister of Santa Maria Novella
into the Spezieria, can hardly fail of being surprised, and that perhaps
painfully, by the suddenness of the transition from the silence and
gloom of the monastic inclosure, its pavement rough with epitaphs, and
its walls retaining, still legible, though crumbling and mildewed, their
imaged records of Scripture History, to the activity of a traffic not
less frivolous than flourishing, concerned almost exclusively with the
appliances of bodily adornment or luxury. Yet perhaps, on a moment's
reflection, the rose-leaves scattered on the floor, and the air filled
with odor of myrtle and myrrh, aloes and cassia, may arouse associations
of a different and more elevated character; the preparation of these
precious perfumes may seem not altogether unfitting the hands of a
religious brotherhood--or if this should not be conceded, at all events
it must be matter of rejoicing to observe the evidence of intelligence
and energy interrupting the apathy and languor of the cloister; nor will
the institution be regarded with other than respect, as well as
gratitude, when it is remembered that, as to the convent library we owe
the preservation of ancient literature, to the convent laboratory we owe
the duration of mediæval art.

99. It is at first with surprise not altogether dissimilar, that we find
a painter of refined feeling and deep thoughtfulness, after manifesting
in his works the most sincere affection for what is highest in the reach
of his art, devoting himself for years (there is proof of this in the
work before us) to the study of the mechanical preparation of its
appliances, and whatever documentary evidence exists respecting their
ancient use. But it is with a revulsion of feeling more entire, that we
perceive the value of the results obtained--the accuracy of the varied
knowledge by which their sequence has been established--and above all,
their immediate bearing upon the practice and promise of the schools of
our own day.

Opposite errors, we know not which the least pardonable, but both
certainly productive of great harm, have from time to time possessed the
masters of modern art. It has been held by some that the great early
painters owed the larger measure of their power to secrets of material
and method, and that the discovery of a lost vehicle or forgotten
process might at any time accomplish the regeneration of a fallen
school. By others it has been asserted that all questions respecting
materials or manipulation are idle and impertinent; that the methods of
the older masters were either of no peculiar value, or are still in our
power; that a great painter is independent of all but the simplest
mechanical aids, and demonstrates his greatness by scorn of system and
carelessness of means.

100. It is evident that so long as incapability could shield itself
under the first of these creeds, or presumption vindicate itself by the
second; so long as the feeble painter could lay his faults on his
palette and his panel; and the self-conceited painter, from the assumed
identity of materials proceed to infer equality of power--(for we
believe that in most instances those who deny the evil of our present
methods will deny also the weakness of our present works)--little good
could be expected from the teaching of the abstract principles of the
art; and less, if possible, from the example of any mechanical
qualities, however admirable, whose means might be supposed
irrecoverable on the one hand, or indeterminate on the other, or of any
excellence conceived to have been either summoned by an incantation, or
struck out by an accident. And of late, among our leading masters, the
loss has not been merely of the system of the ancients, but of all
system whatsoever: the greater number paint as if the virtue of oil
pigment were its opacity, or as if its power depended on its polish; of
the rest, no two agree in use or choice of materials; not many are
consistent even in their own practice; and the most zealous and earnest,
therefore the most discontented, reaching impatiently and desperately
after better things, purchase the momentary satisfaction of their
feelings by the sacrifice of security of surface and durability of hue.
The walls of our galleries are for the most part divided between
pictures whose dead coating of consistent paint, laid on with a heavy
hand and a cold heart, secures for them the stability of dullness and
the safety of mediocrity; and pictures whose reckless and experimental
brilliancy, unequal in its result as lawless in its means, is as
evanescent as the dust of an insect's wing, and presents in its chief
perfections so many subjects of future regret.

101. But if these evils now continue, it can only be through rashness
which no example can warn, or through apathy which no hope can
stimulate, for Mr. Eastlake has alike withdrawn license from
experimentalism and apology from indolence. He has done away with all
legends of forgotten secrets; he has shown that the masters of the great
Flemish and early Venetian schools possessed no means, followed no
methods, but such as we may still obtain and pursue; but he has shown
also, among all these masters, the most admirable care in the
preparation of materials and the most simple consistency in their use;
he has shown that their excellence was reached, and could only have been
reached, by stern and exact science, condescending to the observance,
care, and conquest of the most minute physical particulars and
hindrances; that the greatest of them never despised an aid nor avoided
a difficulty. The loss of imaginative liberty sometimes involved in a
too scrupulous attention to methods of execution is trivial compared to
the evils resulting from a careless or inefficient practice. The modes
in which, with every great painter, realization falls short of
conception are necessarily so many and so grievous, that he can ill
afford to undergo the additional discouragement caused by uncertain
methods and bad materials. Not only so, but even the choice of subjects,
the amount of completion attempted, nay, even the modes of conception
and measure of truth are in no small degree involved in the great
question of materials. On the habitual use of a light or dark ground may
depend the painter's preference of a broad and faithful, or partial and
scenic chiaroscuro; correspondent with the facility or fatality of
alterations, may be the exercise of indolent fancy, or disciplined
invention; and to the complexities of a system requiring time, patience,
and succession of process, may be owing the conversion of the ready
draughtsman into the resolute painter. Farther than this, who shall say
how unconquerable a barrier to all self-denying effort may exist in the
consciousness that the best that is accomplished can last but a few
years, and that the painter's travail must perish with his life?

102. It cannot have been without strong sense of this, the true dignity
and relation of his subject, that Mr. Eastlake has gone through a toil
far more irksome, far less selfish than any he could have undergone in
the practice of his art. The value which we attach to the volume
depends, however, rather on its preceptive than its antiquarian
character. As objects of historical inquiry merely, we cannot conceive
any questions less interesting than those relating to mechanical
operations generally, nor any honors less worthy of prolonged dispute
than those which are grounded merely on the invention or amelioration of
processes and pigments. The subject can only become historically
interesting when the means ascertained to have been employed at any
period are considered in their operation upon or procession from the
artistical aim of such period, the character of its chosen subjects, and
the effects proposed in their treatment upon the national mind. Mr.
Eastlake has as yet refused himself the indulgence of such speculation;
his book is no more than its modest title expresses. For ourselves,
however, without venturing in the slightest degree to anticipate the
expression of his ulterior views--though we believe that we can trace
their extent and direction in a few suggestive sentences, as pregnant as
they are unobtrusive--we must yet, in giving a rapid sketch of the facts
established, assume the privilege of directing the reader to one or two
of their most obvious consequences, and, like honest 'prentices, not
suffer the abstracted retirement of our master in the back parlor to
diminish the just recommendation of his wares to the passers-by.

103. Eminently deficient in works representative of the earliest and
purest tendencies of art, our National Gallery nevertheless affords a
characteristic and sufficient series of examples of the practice of the
various schools of painting, after oil had been finally substituted for
the less manageable glutinous vehicles which, under the general name of
tempera, were principally employed in the production of easel pictures
up to the middle of the fifteenth century. If the reader were to make
the circuit of this collection for the purpose of determining which
picture represented with least disputable fidelity the first intention
of its painter, and united in its modes of execution the highest reach
of achievement with the strongest assurance of durability, we believe
that--after hesitating long over hypothetical degrees of blackened
shadow and yellowed light, of lost outline and buried detail, of chilled
luster, dimmed transparency, altered color, and weakened force--he would
finally pause before a small picture on panel, representing two quaintly
dressed figures in a dimly lighted room--dependent for its interest
little on expression, and less on treatment--but eminently remarkable
for reality of substance, vacuity of space, and vigor of quiet color;
nor less for an elaborate finish, united with energetic freshness,
which seem to show that time has been much concerned in its production,
and has had no power over its fate.

104. We do not say that the total force of the material is exhibited in
this picture, or even that it in any degree possesses the lusciousness
and fullness which are among the chief charms of oil-painting; but that
upon the whole it would be selected as uniting imperishable firmness
with exquisite delicacy; as approaching more unaffectedly and more
closely than any other work to the simple truths of natural color and
space; and as exhibiting, even in its quaint and minute treatment,
conquest over many of the difficulties which the boldest practice of art

This picture, bearing the inscription "Johannes Van Eyck (fuit?) hic,
1434," is probably the portrait, certainly the work, of one of those
brothers to whose ingenuity the first invention of the art of
oil-painting has been long ascribed. The volume before us is occupied
chiefly in determining the real extent of the improvements they
introduced, in examining the processes they employed, and in tracing the
modifications of those processes adopted by later Flemings, especially
Rubens, Rembrandt, and Vandyck. Incidental notices of the Italian system
occur, so far as, in its earlier stages, it corresponded with that of
the north; but the consideration of its separate character is reserved
for a following volume, and though we shall expect with interest this
concluding portion of the treatise, we believe that, in the present
condition of the English school, the choice of the methods of Van Eyck,
Bellini, or Rubens, is as much as we could modestly ask or prudently

105. It would have been strange indeed if a technical perfection like
that of the picture above described (equally characteristic of all the
works of those brothers), had been at once reached by the first
inventors of the art. So far was this from being the case, and so
distinct is the evidence of the practice of oil-painting in antecedent
periods, that of late years the discoveries of the Van Eycks have not
unfrequently been treated as entirely fabulous; and Raspe, in
particular, rests their claims to gratitude on the contingent
introduction of amber-varnish and poppy-oil:--"Such _perhaps_," he says,
"might have been the misrepresented discovery of the Van Eycks." That
tradition, however, for which the great painters of Italy, and their
sufficiently vain historian, had so much respect as never to put forward
any claim in opposition to it, is not to be clouded by incautious
suspicion. Mr. Eastlake has approached it with more reverence, stripped
it of its exaggeration, and shown the foundations for it in the fact
that the Van Eycks, though they did not create the art, yet were the
first to enable it for its function; that having found it in servile
office and with dormant power--laid like the dead Adonis on his
lettuce-bed--they gave it vitality and dominion. And fortunate it is for
those who look for another such reanimation, that the method of the Van
Eycks was not altogether their own discovery. Had it been so, that
method might still have remained a subject of conjecture; but after
being put in possession of the principles commonly acknowledged before
their time, it is comparatively easy to trace the direction of their
inquiry and the nature of their improvements.

106. With respect to remote periods of antiquity, we believe that the
use of a hydrofuge oil-varnish for the protection of works in tempera,
the only fact insisted upon by Mr. Eastlake, is also the only one which
the labor of innumerable ingenious writers has established: nor up to
the beginning of the twelfth century is there proof of any practice of
painting except in tempera, encaustic (wax applied by the aid of heat),
and fresco. Subsequent to that period, notices of works executed in
solid color mixed with oil are frequent, but all that can be proved
respecting earlier times is a gradually increasing acquaintance with the
different kinds of oil and the modes of their adaptation to artistical

Several drying oils are mentioned by the writers of the first three
centuries of the Christian era--walnut by Pliny and Galen, walnut,
poppy, and castor-oil (afterwards used by the painters of the twelfth
century as a varnish) by Dioscorides--yet these notices occur only with
reference to medicinal or culinary purposes. But at length a drying oil
is mentioned in connection with works of art by Aetius, a medical writer
of the fifth century. His words are:--

       *       *       *

"Walnut oil is prepared like that of almonds, either by pounding or
pressing the nuts, or by throwing them, after they have been bruised,
into boiling water. The (medicinal) uses are the same: but it has a use
besides these, being employed by gilders or encaustic painters; for it
dries, and preserves gildings and encaustic paintings for a long time."

"It is therefore clear," says Mr. Eastlake, "that an oil varnish,
composed either of inspissated nut oil, or of nut oil combined with a
dissolved resin, was employed on gilt surfaces and pictures, with a view
to preserve them, at least as early as the fifth century. It may be
added that a writer who could then state, as if from his own experience,
that such varnishes had the effect of preserving works 'for a long
time,' can hardly be understood to speak of a new invention."--P. 22.

       *       *       *

Linseed-oil is also mentioned by Aetius, though still for medicinal uses
only; but a varnish, composed of linseed-oil mixed with a variety of
resins, is described in a manuscript at Lucca, belonging probably to the
eighth century:--

       *       *       *

"The age of Charlemagne was an era in the arts; and the addition of
linseed-oil to the materials of the varnisher and decorator may on the
above evidence be assigned to it. From this time, and during many ages,
the linseed-oil varnish, though composed of simpler materials (such as
sandarac and mastic resin boiled in the oil), alone appears in the
recipes hitherto brought to light."--_Ib._, p. 24.

       *       *       *

107. The modes of bleaching and thickening oil in the sun, as well as
the siccative power of metallic oxides, were known to the classical
writers, and evidence exists of the careful study of Galen, Dioscorides,
and others by the painters of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries: the
loss (recorded by Vasari) of Antonio Veneziano to the arts, "per che
studio in Dioscoride le cose dell'erbe," is a remarkable instance of its
less fortunate results. Still, the immixture of solid color with the
oil, which had been commonly used as a varnish for tempera paintings and
gilt surfaces, was hitherto unsuggested; and no distinct notice seems to
occur of the first occasion of this important step, though in the
twelfth century, as above stated, the process is described as frequent
both in Italy and England. Mr. Eastlake's instances have been selected,
for the most part, from four treatises, two of which, though in an
imperfect form, have long been known to the public; the third,
translated by Mrs. Merrifield, is in course of publication; the fourth,
"Tractatus de Coloribus illuminatorum," is of less importance.

Respecting the dates of the first two, those of Eraclius and Theophilus,
some difference of opinion exists between Mr. Eastlake and their
respective editors. The former MS. was published by Raspe,[14] who
inclines to the opinion of its having been written soon after the time
of St. Isidore of Seville, probably therefore in the eighth century, but
insists only on its being prior to the thirteenth. That of Theophilus,
published first by M. Charles de l'Escalopier, and lately from a more
perfect MS. by Mr. Hendrie, is ascribed by its English editor (who
places Eraclius in the tenth) to the early half of the eleventh century.
Mr. Hendrie maintains his opinion with much analytical ingenuity, and we
are disposed to think that Mr. Eastlake attaches too much importance to
the absence of reference to oil-painting in the Mappæ Clavicula (a MS.
of the twelfth century), in placing Theophilus a century and a half
later on that ground alone. The question is one of some importance in an
antiquarian point of view, but the general reader will perhaps be
satisfied with the conclusion that in MSS. which cannot possibly be
later than the close of the twelfth century, references to oil-painting
are clear and frequent.

108. Nothing is known of the personality of either Eraclius or
Theophilus, but what may be collected from their works; amounting, in
the first case, to the facts of the author's "language being barbarous,
his credulity exceptionable, and his knowledge superficial," together
with his written description as "vir sapientissimus;" while all that is
positively known of Theophilus is that he was a monk, and that
Theophilus was not his real name. The character, however, of which the
assumed name is truly expressive, deserves from us no unrespectful
attention; we shall best possess our readers of it by laying before them
one or two passages from the preface. We shall make some use of Mr.
Hendrie's translation; it is evidently the work of a tasteful man, and
in most cases renders the feeling of the original faithfully; but the
Latin, monkish though it be, deserved a more accurate following, and
many of Mr. Hendrie's deviations bear traces of unsound scholarship. An
awkward instance occurs in the first paragraph:--

       *       *       *

"Theophilus, humilis presbyter, servus servorum Dei, indignus nomine et
professione monachi, omnibus mentis desidiam animique vagationem utili
manuum occupatione, et delectabili novitatum meditatione declinare et
calcare volentibus, retributionem coelestis præmii!"

"I, Theophilus, an humble priest, servant of the servants of God,
unworthy of the name and profession of a monk, to all wishing to
overcome and avoid sloth of the mind or wandering of the soul, by useful
manual occupation and the delightful contemplation of novelties, send a
recompense of heavenly price."--_Theophilus_, p. 1.

       *       *       *

_Proemium_ is not "price," nor is the verb understood before
_retributionem_ "send." Mr. Hendrie seems even less familiar with
Scriptural than with monkish language, or in this and several other
cases he would have recognized the adoption of apostolic formulæ. The
whole paragraph is such a greeting and prayer as stands at the head of
the sacred epistles:--"Theophilus, to all who desire to overcome
wandering of the soul, etc., etc. (wishes) recompense of heavenly
reward." Thus also the dedication of the Byzantine manuscript, lately
translated by M. Didron, commences "A tous les peintres, et à tous ceux
qui, aimant l'instruction, étudieront ce livre, salut dans le Seigneur."
So, presently afterwards, in the sentence, "divina dignatio quæ dat
omnibus affluenter et non improperat" (translated, "divine _authority_
which affluently and not precipitately gives to all"), though Mr.
Hendrie might have perhaps been excused for not perceiving the
transitive sense of _dignatio_ after _indignus_ in the previous text,
which indeed, even when felt, is sufficiently difficult to render in
English; and might not have been aware that the word _impropero_
frequently bears the sense of _opprobo_; he ought still to have
recognized the Scriptural "who giveth to all men liberally and
_upbraideth_ not." "Qui," in the first page, translated "wherefore,"
mystifies a whole sentence; "ut mereretur," rendered with a schoolboy's
carelessness "as he merited," reverses the meaning of another;
"jactantia," in the following page, is less harmfully but not less
singularly translated "jealousy." We have been obliged to alter several
expressions in the following passages, in order to bring them near
enough to the original for our immediate purpose:

       *       *       *

"Which knowledge, when he has obtained, let no one magnify himself in
his own eyes, as if it had been received from himself, and not from
elsewhere; but let him rejoice humbly in the Lord, from whom and by whom
are all things, and without whom is nothing; nor let him wrap his gifts
in the folds of envy, nor hide them in the closet of an avaricious
heart; but all pride of heart being repelled, let him with a cheerful
mind give with simplicity to all who ask of him, and let him fear the
judgment of the Gospel upon that merchant, who, failing to return to his
lord a talent with accumulated interest, deprived of all reward,
merited the censure from the mouth of his judge of 'wicked servant.'

"Fearing to incur which sentence, I, a man unworthy and almost without
name, offer gratuitously to all desirous with humility to learn, that
which the divine condescension, which giveth to all men liberally and
upbraideth not, gratuitously conceded to me: and I admonish them that in
me they acknowledge the goodness, and admire the generosity of God; and
I would persuade them to believe that if they also add their labor, the
same gifts are within their reach.

"Wherefore, gentle son, whom God has rendered perfectly happy in this
respect, that those things are offered to thee gratis, which many,
plowing the sea waves with the greatest danger to life, consumed by the
hardship of hunger and cold, or subjected to the weary servitude of
teachers, and altogether worn out by the desire of learning, yet acquire
with intolerable labor, covet with greedy looks this 'BOOK OF VARIOUS
ARTS,' read it through with a tenacious memory, embrace it with an
ardent love.

"Should you carefully peruse this, you will there find out whatever
Greece possesses in kinds and mixtures of various colors; whatever
Tuscany knows of in mosaic-work, or in variety of enamel; whatever
Arabia shows forth in work of fusion, ductility, or chasing; whatever
Italy ornaments with gold, in diversity of vases and sculpture of gems
or ivory; whatever France loves in a costly variety of windows; whatever
industrious Germany approves in work of gold, silver, copper, and iron,
of woods and of stones.

"When you shall have re-read this often, and have committed it to your
tenacious memory, you shall thus recompense me for this care of
instruction, that as often as you shall have successfully made use of my
work, you pray for me for the pity of Omnipotent God, who knows that I
have written these things, which are here arranged, neither through love
of human approbation, nor through desire of temporal reward, nor have I
stolen anything precious or rare through envious jealousy, nor have I
kept back anything reserved served for myself alone; but in
augmentation of the honor and glory of His name, I have consulted the
progress and hastened to aid the necessities of many men."--_Ib._ pp.

       *       *       *

109. There is perhaps something in the naive seriousness with which
these matters of empiricism, to us of so small importance, are regarded
by the good monk, which may at first tempt the reader to a smile. It is,
however, to be kept in mind that some such mode of introduction was
customary in all works of this order and period. The Byzantine MS.,
already alluded to, is prefaced still more singularly: "Que celui qui
veut apprendre la science de la peinture commence à s'y préparer
d'avance quelque temps en dessinant sans relache ... puis qu'il adresse
à Jesus Christ la prière et oraison suivante," etc.:--the prayer being
followed by a homily respecting envy, much resembling that of
Theophilus. And we may rest assured that until we have again begun to
teach and to learn in this spirit, art will no more recover its true
power or place than springs which flow from no heavenward hills can rise
to useful level in the wells of the plain. The tenderness, tranquillity,
and resoluteness which we feel in such men's words and thoughts found a
correspondent expression even in the movements of the hand; precious
qualities resulted from them even in the most mechanical of their works,
such as no reward can evoke, no academy teach, nor any other merits
replace. What force can be summoned by authority, or fostered by
patronage, which could for an instant equal in intensity the labor of
this humble love, exerting itself for its own pleasure, looking upon its
own works by the light of thankfulness, and finishing all, offering all,
with the irrespective profusion of flowers opened by the wayside, where
the dust may cover them, and the foot crush them?

110. Not a few passages conceived in the highest spirit of self-denying
piety would, of themselves, have warranted our sincere thanks to Mr.
Hendrie for his publication of the manuscript. The practical value of
its contents is however very variable; most of the processes described
have been either improved or superseded, and many of the recipes are
quite as illustrative of the writer's credulity in reception, as
generosity in communication. The references to the "land of Havilah" for
gold, and to "Mount Calybe" for iron, are characteristic of monkish
geographical science; the recipe for the making of Spanish gold is
interesting, as affording us a clew to the meaning of the mediæval
traditions respecting the basilisk. Pliny says nothing about the
hatching of this chimera from cocks' eggs, and ascribes the power of
killing at sight to a different animal, the catoblepas, whose head,
fortunately, was so heavy that it could not be held up. Probably the
word "basiliscus" in Theophilus would have been better translated

       *       *       *

"There is also a gold called Spanish gold, which is composed from red
copper, powder of basilisk, and human blood, and acid. The Gentiles,
whose skillfulness in this art is commendable, make basilisks in this
manner. They have, underground, a house walled with stones everywhere,
above and below, with two very small windows, so narrow that scarcely
any light can appear through them; in this house they place two old
cocks of twelve or fifteen years, and they give them plenty of food.
When these have become fat, through the heat of their good condition,
they agree together and lay eggs. Which being laid, the cocks are taken
out and toads are placed in, which may hatch the eggs, and to which
bread is given for food. The eggs being hatched, chickens issue out,
like hens' chickens, to which after seven days grow the tails of
serpents, and immediately, if there were not a stone pavement to the
house, they would enter the earth. Guarding against which, their masters
have round brass vessels of large size, perforated all over, the mouths
of which are narrow, in which they place these chickens, and close the
mouths with copper coverings and inter them underground, and they are
nourished with the fine earth entering through the holes for six
months. After this they uncover them and apply a copious fire, until the
animals' insides are completely burnt. Which done, when they have become
cold, they are taken out and carefully ground, adding to them a third
part of the blood of a red man, which blood has been dried and ground.
These two compositions are tempered with sharp acid in a clean vessel;
they then take very thin sheets of the purest red copper, and anoint
this composition over them on both sides, and place them in the fire.
And when they have become glowing, they take them out and quench and
wash them in the same confection; and they do this for a long time,
until this composition eats through the copper, and it takes the color
of gold. This gold is proper for all work."--_Ib._ p. 267.

       *       *       *

Our readers will find in Mr. Hendrie's interesting note the explanation
of the symbolical language of this recipe; though we cannot agree with
him in supposing Theophilus to have so understood it. We have no doubt
the monk wrote what he had heard in good faith, and with no equivocal
meaning; and we are even ourselves much disposed to regret and resist
the transformation of toads into nitrates of potash, and of basilisks
into sulphates of copper.

111. But whatever may be the value of the recipes of Theophilus, couched
in the symbolical language of the alchemist, his evidence is as clear as
it is conclusive, as far as regards the general processes adopted in his
own time. The treatise of Peter de St. Audemar, contained in a volume
transcribed by Jehan le Begue in 1431, bears internal evidence of being
nearly coeval with that of Theophilus. And in addition to these MSS.,
Mr. Eastlake has examined the records of Ely and Westminster, which are
full of references to decorative operations. From these sources it is
not only demonstrated that oil-painting, at least in the broadest sense
(striking colors mixed with oil on surfaces of wood or stone), was
perfectly common both in Italy and England in the 12th, 13th, and 14th
centuries, but every step of the process is determinable. Stone
surfaces were primed with white lead mixed with linseed oil, applied in
successive coats, and carefully smoothed when dry. Wood was planed
smooth (or, for delicate work, covered with leather of horse-skin or
parchment), then coated with a mixture of white lead, wax, and
pulverized tile, on which the oil and lead priming was laid. In the
successive application of the coats of this priming, the painter is
warned by Eraclius of the danger of letting the superimposed coat be
more oily than that beneath, the shriveling of the surface being a
necessary consequence.

       *       *       *

"The observation respecting the cause, or one of the causes, of a
wrinkled and shriveled surface, is not unimportant. Oil, or an oil
varnish, used in abundance with the colors over a perfectly dry
preparation, will produce this appearance: the employment of an oil
varnish is even supposed to be detected by it.... As regards the effect
itself, the best painters have not been careful to avoid it. Parts of
Titian's St. Sebastian (now in the Gallery of the Vatican) are
shriveled; the Giorgione in the Louvre is so; the drapery of the figure
of Christ in the Duke of Wellington's Correggio exhibits the same
appearance; a Madonna and Child by Reynolds, at Petworth, is in a
similar state, as are also parts of some pictures by Greuze. It is the
reverse of a cracked surface, and is unquestionably the less evil of the
two."--"Eastlake," pp. 36-38.

       *       *       *

112. On the white surface thus prepared, the colors, ground finely with
linseed oil, were applied, according to the advice of Theophilus, in not
less than three successive coats, and finally protected with amber or
sandarac varnish: each coat of color being carefully dried by the aid of
heat or in the sun before a second was applied, and the entire work
before varnishing. The practice of carefully drying each coat was
continued in the best periods of art, but the necessity of exposure to
the sun intimated by Theophilus appears to have arisen only from his
careless preparation of the linseed oil, and ignorance of a proper
drying medium. Consequent on this necessity is the restriction in
Theophilus, St. Audemar, and in the British Museum MS., of oil-painting
to wooden surfaces, because movable panels could be dried in the sun;
while, for walls, the colors are to be mixed with water, wine, gum, or
the usual tempera vehicles, egg and fig-tree juice; white lead and
verdigris, themselves dryers, being the only pigments which could be
mixed with oil for walls. But the MS. of Eraclius and the records of our
English cathedrals imply no such absolute restriction. They mention the
employment of oil for the painting or varnishing of columns and interior
walls, and in quantity very remarkable. Among the entries relating to
St. Stephen's chapel, occur--"For 19 flagons of painter's oil, at 3_s._
4_d._ the flagon, 43_s._ 4_d._" (It might be as well, in the next
edition, to correct the copyist's reverse of the position of the X and
L, lest it should be thought that the principles of the science of
arithmetic have been progressive, as well as those of art.) And
presently afterwards, in May of the same year, "to John de Hennay, for
_seventy_ flagons and a half of painter's oil for the painting of the
same chapel, at 20_d._ the flagon, 117_s._ 6_d._" The expression
"painter's oil" seems to imply more careful preparation than that
directed by Theophilus, probably purification from its mucilage in the
sun; but artificial heat was certainly employed to assist the drying,
and after reading of flagons supplied by the score, we can hardly be
surprised at finding charcoal furnished by the cartload--see an entry
relating to the Painted Chamber. In one MS. of Eraclius, however, a
distinct description of a drying oil in the modern sense, occurs, white
lead and lime being added, and the oil thickened by exposure to the sun,
as was the universal practice in Italy.

113. Such was the system of oil-painting known before the time of Van
Eyck; but it remains a question in what kind of works and with what
degree of refinement this system had been applied. The passages in
Eraclius refer only to ornamental work, imitations of marble, etc.; and
although, in the records of Ely cathedral, the words "pro ymaginibus
super columnas depingendis" may perhaps be understood as referring to
paintings of figures, the applications of oil, which are distinctly
determinable from these and other English documents, are merely
decorative; and "the large supplies of it which appear in the
Westminster and Ely records indicate the coarseness of the operations
for which it was required." Theophilus, indeed, mentions tints for
faces--_mixturas vultuum_; but it is to be remarked that Theophilus
painted with a liquid oil, the drying of which in the sun he expressly
says "in _ymaginibus_ et aliis picturis diuturnum et tædiosum nimis
est." The oil generally employed was thickened to the consistence of a
varnish. Cennini recommends that it be kept in the sun until reduced one
half; and in the Paris copy of Eraclius we are told that "the longer the
oil remains in the sun the better it will be." Such a vehicle entirely
precluded delicacy of execution.

       *       *       *

"Paintings entirely executed with the thickened vehicle, at a time when
art was in the very lowest state, and when its votaries were ill
qualified to contend with unnecessary difficulties, must have been of
the commonest description. Armorial bearings, patterns, and similar
works of mechanical decoration, were perhaps as much as could be

"Notwithstanding the general reference to flesh-painting, 'e così fa
dello incarnare,' in Cennini's directions, there are no certain examples
of pictures of the fourteenth century, in which the flesh is executed in
oil colors. This leads us to inquire what were the ordinary applications
of oil-painting in Italy at that time. It appears that the method, when
adopted at all, was considered to belong to the complemental and merely
decorative parts of a picture. It was employed in portions of the work
only, on draperies, and over gilding and foils. Cennini describes such
operations as follows. 'Gild the surface to be occupied by the drapery;
draw on it what ornaments or patterns you please; glaze the unornamented
intervals with verdigris ground in oil, shading some folds twice. Then,
when this is dry, glaze the same color over the whole drapery, both
ornaments and plain portions.'

"These operations, together with the gilt field round the figures, the
stucco decorations, and the carved framework, tabernacle, or _ornamento_
itself of the picture, were completed first; the faces and hands, which
in Italian pictures of the fourteenth century were always in tempera,
were added afterwards, or at all events after the draperies and
background were finished. Cennini teaches the practice of all but the
carving. In later times the work was divided, and the decorator or
gilder was sometimes a more important person than the painter. Thus some
works of an inferior Florentine artist were ornamented with stuccoes,
carving, and gilding, by the celebrated Donatello, who, in his youth,
practiced this art in connection with sculpture. Vasari observed the
following inscription under a picture:--'Simone Cini, a Florentine,
wrought the carved work; Gabriello Saracini executed the gilding; and
Spinello di Luca, of Arezzo, painted the picture, in the year
1385.'"--_Ib._ pp. 71, 72, and 80.

       *       *       *

114. We may pause to consider for a moment what effect upon the mental
habits of these earlier schools might result from this separate and
previous completion of minor details. It is to be remembered that the
painter's object in the backgrounds of works of this period
(universally, or nearly so, of religious subject) was not the deceptive
representation of a natural scene, but the adornment and setting forth
of the central figures with precious work--the conversion of the
picture, as far as might be, into a gem, flushed with color and alive
with light. The processes necessary for this purpose were altogether
mechanical; and those of stamping and burnishing the gold, and of
enameling, were necessarily performed before any delicate tempera-work
could be executed. Absolute decision of design was therefore necessary
throughout; hard linear separations were unavoidable between the
oil-color and the tempera, or between each and the gold or enamel.
General harmony of effect, aërial perspective, or deceptive chiaroscuro,
became totally impossible; and the dignity of the picture depended
exclusively on the lines of its design, the purity of its ornaments, and
the beauty of expression which could be attained in those portions (the
faces and hands) which, set off and framed by this splendor of
decoration, became the cynosure of eyes. The painter's entire energy was
given to these portions; and we can hardly imagine any discipline more
calculated to insure a grand and thoughtful school of art than the
necessity of discriminated character and varied expression imposed by
this peculiarly separate and prominent treatment of the features. The
exquisite drawing of the hand also, at least in outline, remained for
this reason even to late periods one of the crowning excellences of the
religious schools. It might be worthy the consideration of our present
painters whether some disadvantage may not result from the exactly
opposite treatment now frequently adopted, the finishing of the head
before the addition of its accessories. A flimsy and indolent background
is almost a necessary consequence, and probably also a false
flesh-color, irrecoverable by any after-opposition.

115. The reader is in possession of most of the conclusions relating to
the practice of oil-painting up to about the year 1406.

       *       *       *

"Its inconveniences were such that tempera was not unreasonably
preferred to it for works that required careful design, precision, and
completeness. Hence the Van Eycks seem to have made it their first
object to overcome the stigma that attached to oil-painting, as a
process fit only for ordinary purposes and mechanical decorations. With
an ambition partly explained by the previous coarse applications of the
method, they sought to raise wonder by surpassing the finish of tempera
with the very material that had long been considered intractable. Mere
finish was, however, the least of the excellences of these reformers.
The step was short which sufficed to remove the self-imposed
difficulties of the art; but that effort would probably not have been so
successful as it was, in overcoming long-established prejudices, had it
not been accompanied by some of the best qualities which oil-painting,
as a means of imitating nature, can command."--_Ib._ p. 88.

       *       *       *

116. It has been a question to which of the two brothers, Hubert or
John, the honor of the invention is to be attributed. Van Mander gives
the date of the birth of Hubert 1366; and his interesting epitaph in the
cathedral of St. Bavon, at Ghent, determines that of his death:--

       *       *       *

"Take warning from me, ye who walk over me. I was as you are, but am now
buried dead beneath you. Thus it appears that neither art nor medicine
availed me. Art, honor, wisdom, power, affluence, are spared not when
death comes. I was called Hubert Van Eyck; I am now food for worms.
Formerly known and highly honored in painting; this all was shortly
after turned to nothing. It was in the year of the Lord one thousand
four hundred and twenty-six, on the eighteenth day of September, that I
rendered up my soul to God, in sufferings. Pray God for me, ye who love
art, that I may attain to His sight. Flee sin; turn to the best
[objects]: for you must follow me at last."

       *       *       *

John Van Eyck appears by sufficient evidence to have been born between
1390 and 1395; and, as the improved oil-painting was certainly
introduced about 1410, the probability is greater that the system had
been discovered by the elder brother than by the youth of 15. What the
improvement actually was is a far more important question. Vasari's
account, in the Life of Antonello da Messina, is the first piece of
evidence here examined (p. 205); and it is examined at once with more
respect and more advantage than the half-negligent, half-embarrassed
wording of the passage might appear either to deserve or to promise.
Vasari states that "_Giovanni_ of Bruges," having finished a
tempera-picture on panel, and varnished it as usual, placed it in the
sun to dry--that the heat opened the joinings--and that the artist,
provoked at the destruction of his work--

       *       *       *

"began to devise means for preparing a kind of varnish which should dry
in the shade, so as to avoid placing his pictures in the sun. Having
made experiments with many things, both pure and mixed together, he at
last found that linseed-oil and nut-oil, among the many which he had
tested, were more drying than all the rest. These, therefore, boiled
with _other mixtures of his_, made him the varnish which he, nay, which
all the painters of the world, had long desired. Continuing his
experiments with many other things, he saw that the immixture of the
colors with these kinds of oils gave them a very firm consistence,
which, when dry, was proof against wet; and, moreover, that the vehicle
lit up the colors so powerfully, that it gave a gloss of itself without
varnish; and that which appeared to him still more admirable was, that
it allowed of blending [the colors] infinitely better than tempera.
Giovanni, rejoicing in this invention, and being a person of
discernment, began many works."

       *       *       *

117. The reader must observe that this account is based upon and
clumsily accommodated to the idea, prevalent in Vasari's time throughout
Italy, that Van Eyck not merely improved, but first introduced, the art
of oil-painting, and that no mixture of color with linseed or nut oil
had taken place before his time. We are only informed of the new and
important part of the invention, under the pointedly specific and
peculiarly Vasarian expression--"altre sue misture." But the real value
of the passage is dependent on the one fact of which it puts us in
possession, and with respect to which there is every reason to believe
it trustworthy, that it was in search of a _Varnish_ which would dry in
the shade that Van Eyck discovered the new vehicle. The next point to be
determined is the nature of the Varnish ordinarily employed, and spoken
of by Cennini and many other writers under the familiar title of Vernice
liquida. The derivation of the word Vernix bears materially on the
question, and will not be devoid of interest for the general reader, who
may perhaps be surprised at finding himself carried by Mr. Eastlake's
daring philology into regions poetical and planetary:--

       *       *       *

"Eustathius, a writer of the twelfth century, in his commentary on
Homer, states that the Greeks of his day called amber ([Greek:
êlektron]) Veronice ([Greek: beronikê]). Salmasius, quoting from a
Greek medical MS. of the same period, writes it Verenice ([Greek:
berenikê]). In the Lucca MS. (8th century) the word Veronica more than
once occurs among the ingredients of varnishes, and it is remarkable
that in the copies of the same recipes in the _Mappæ Clavicula_ (12th
century) the word is spelt, in the genitive, Verenicis and Vernicis.
This is probably the earliest instance of the use of the Latinized word
nearly in its modern form; the original nominative Vernice being
afterwards changed to Vernix.

"Veronice or Verenice, as a designation for amber, must have been common
at an earlier period than the date of the Lucca MS., since it there
occurs as a term in ordinary use. It is scarcely necessary to remark
that the letter [Greek: beta] was sounded v by the mediæval Greeks,
as it is by their present descendants. Even during the classic ages of
Greece [Greek: beta] represented [Greek: phi] in certain dialects. The
name Berenice or Beronice, borne by more than one daughter of the
Ptolemies, would be more correctly written Pherenice or Pheronice. The
literal coincidence of this name and its modifications with the Vernice
of the middle ages, might almost warrant the supposition that amber,
which by the best ancient authorities was considered a mineral, may, at
an early period, have been distinguished by the name of a constellation,
the constellation of Berenice's (golden) hair."--_Eastlake_, p. 230.

       *       *       *

118. We are grieved to interrupt our reader's voyage among the
constellations; but the next page crystallizes us again like ants in
amber, or worse, in gum-sandarach. It appears, from conclusive and
abundant evidence, that the greater cheapness of sandarach, and its
easier solubility in oil rendered it the usual substitute for amber, and
that the word Vernice, when it occurs alone, is the common synonym for
dry sandarach resin. This, dissolved by heat in linseed oil, three parts
oil to one of resin, was the Vernice liquida of the Italians, sold in
Cennini's time ready prepared, and the customary varnish of tempera
pictures. Concrete turpentine ("oyle of fir-tree," "Pece Greca,"
"Pegola"), previously prepared over a slow fire until it ceased to
swell, was added to assist the liquefaction of the sandarach, first in
Venice, where the material could easily be procured, and afterwards in
Florence. The varnish so prepared, especially when it was long boiled to
render it more drying, was of a dark color, materially affecting the
tints over which it was passed.[15]

       *       *       *

"It is not impossible that the lighter style of coloring introduced by
Giotto may have been intended by him to counteract the effects of this
varnish, the appearance of which in the Greek pictures he could not fail
to observe. Another peculiarity in the works of the painters of the time
referred to, particularly those of the Florentine and Sienese schools,
is the greenish tone of their coloring in the flesh; produced by the
mode in which they often prepared their works, viz. by a green
under-painting. The appearance was neutralized by the red sandarac
varnish, and pictures executed in the manner described must have looked
better before it was removed."--_Ib._ p. 252.

       *       *       *

Farther on, this remark is thus followed out:--

       *       *       *

"The paleness or freshness of the tempera may have been sometimes
calculated for this brown glazing (for such it was in effect), and when
this was the case, the picture was, strictly speaking, unfinished
without its varnish. It is, therefore, quite conceivable that a painter,
averse to mere mechanical operations, would, in his final process, still
have an eye to the harmony of his work, and, seeing that the tint of his
varnish was more or less adapted to display the hues over which it was
spread, would vary that tint, so as to heighten the effect of the
picture. The practice of tingeing varnishes was not even new, as the
example given by Cardanus proves. The next step to this would be to
treat the tempera picture still more as a preparation, and to calculate
still further on the varnish, by modifying and adapting its color to a
greater extent. A work so completed must have nearly approached the
appearance of an oil picture. This was perhaps the moment when the new
method opened itself to the mind of Hubert Van Eyck.... The next change
necessarily consisted in using opaque as well as transparent colors; the
former being applied over the light, the latter over the darker,
portions of the picture; while the work in tempera was now reduced to a
light chiaroscuro preparation.... It was now that the hue of the
original varnish became an objection; for, as a medium, it required to
be itself colorless."--_Ib._ pp. 271-273.

       *       *       *

119. Our author has perhaps somewhat embarrassed this part of the
argument, by giving too much importance to the conjectural adaptation of
the tints of the tempera picture to the brown varnish, and too little to
the bold transition from transparent to opaque color on the lights. Up
to this time, we must remember, the entire drawing of the flesh had been
in tempera; the varnish, however richly tinted, however delicately
adjusted to the tints beneath, was still broadly applied over the whole
surface, the design being seen through the transparent glaze. But the
mixture of opaque color at once implies that portions of the design
itself were executed with the varnish for a vehicle, and therefore that
the varnish had been entirely changed both in color and consistence. If,
as above stated, the improvement in the varnish had been made only after
it had been mixed with opaque color, it does not appear why the idea of
so mixing it should have presented itself to Van Eyck more than to any
other painter of the day, and Vasari's story of the split panel becomes
nugatory. But we apprehend, from a previous passage (p. 258),
that Mr. Eastlake would not have us so interpret him. We rather suppose
that we are expressing his real opinion in stating our own, that Van
Eyck, seeking for a varnish which would dry in the shade, first
perfected the methods of dissolving amber or copal in oil, then sought
for and added a good dryer, and thus obtained a varnish which, having
been subjected to no long process of boiling, was nearly colorless; that
in using this new varnish over tempera works he might cautiously and
gradually mix it with the opaque color, whose purity he now found
unaffected, by the transparent vehicle; and, finally, as the thickness
of the varnish in its less perfect state was an obstacle to precision of
execution, increase the proportion of its oil to the amber, or add a
diluent, as occasion required.

120. Such, at all events, in the sum, whatever might be the order or
occasion of discovery, were Van Eyck's improvements in the vehicle of
color, and to these, applied by singular ingenuity and affection to the
imitation of nature, with a fidelity hitherto unattempted, Mr. Eastlake
attributes the influence which his works obtained over his

       *       *       *

"If we ask in what the chief novelty of his practice consisted, we shall
at once recognize it in an amount of general excellence before unknown.
At all times, from Van Eyck's day to the present, whenever nature has
been surprisingly well imitated in pictures, the first and last question
with the ignorant has been--What materials did the artist use? The
superior mechanical secret is always supposed to be in the hands of the
greatest genius; and an early example of sudden perfection in art, like
the fame of the heroes of antiquity, was likely to monopolize and
represent the claims of many."--_Ib._ p. 266.

       *       *       *

This is all true; that Van Eyck saw nature more truly than his
predecessors is certain; but it is disputable whether this rendering of
nature recommended his works to the imitation of the Italians. On the
contrary, Mr. Eastlake himself observes in another place (p. 220), that
the character of delicate imitation common to the Flemish pictures
militated _against_ the acceptance of their method:--

       *       *       *

"The specimens of Van Eyck, Hugo van der Goes, Memling, and others,
which the Florentines had seen, may have appeared, in the eyes of some
severe judges (for example, those who daily studied the frescoes of
Masaccio), to indicate a certain connection between oil painting and
minuteness, if not always of size, yet of style. The method, by its very
finish and the possible completeness of its gradations, must have seemed
well calculated to exhibit numerous objects on a small scale. That this
was really the impression produced, at a later period, on one who
represented the highest style of design, has been lately proved by means
of an interesting document, in which the opinions of Michael Angelo on
the character of Flemish pictures are recorded by a contemporary

       *       *       *

121. It was not, we apprehend, the resemblance to nature, but the
abstract power of color, which inflamed with admiration and jealousy the
artists of Italy; it was not the delicate touch nor the precise verity
of Van Eyck, but the "vivacita de' colori" (says Vasari) which at the
first glance induced Antonello da Messina to "put aside every other
avocation and thought, and at once set out for Flanders," assiduously to
cultivate the friendship of _Giovanni_, presenting to him many drawings
and other things, until _Giovanni_, finding himself already old, was
content that Antonello should see the method of his coloring in oil, nor
then to quit Flanders until he had "thoroughly learned that _process_."
It was this _process_, separate, mysterious, and admirable, whose
communication the Venetian, Domenico, thought the most acceptable
kindness which could repay his hospitality; and whose solitary
possession Castagno thought cheaply purchased by the guilt of the
betrayer and murderer; it was in this process, the deduction of watchful
intelligence, not by fortuitous discovery, that the first impulse was
given to European art. Many a plank had yawned in the sun before Van
Eyck's; but he alone saw through the rent, as through an opening portal,
the lofty perspective of triumph widening its rapid wedge;--many a spot
of opaque color had clouded the transparent amber of earlier times; but
the little cloud that rose over Van Eyck's horizon was "like unto a
man's hand."

What this process was, and how far it differed from preceding practice,
has hardly, perhaps, been pronounced by Mr. Eastlake with sufficient
distinctness. One or two conclusions which he has not marked are, we
think, deducible from his evidence, In one point, and that not an
unimportant one, we believe that many careful students of coloring will
be disposed to differ with him: our own intermediate opinion we will
therefore venture to state, though with all diffidence.

122. We must not, however, pass entirely without notice the two chapters
on the preparation of oils, and on the oleo-resinous vehicles, though to
the general reader the recipes contained in them are of little interest;
and in the absence of all expression of opinion on the part of Mr.
Eastlake as to their comparative excellence, even to the artist, their
immediate utility appears somewhat doubtful. One circumstance, however,
is remarkable in all, the care taken by the great painters, without
exception, to avoid the yellowing of their oil. Perfect and stable
clearness is the ultimate aim of all the processes described (many of
them troublesome and tedious in the extreme): and the effect of the
altered oil is of course most dreaded on pale and cold colors. Thus
Philippe Nunez tells us how to purify linseed oil "for white and blues;"
and Pacheco, "el de linaza no me quele mal: aunque ai quien diga que no
a de ver el Azul ni el Blanco este Azeite."[17] De Mayerne recommends
poppy oil "for painting white, blue, and similar colors, so that they
shall not yellow;" and in another place, "for air-tints and
blue;"--while the inclination to green is noticed as an imperfection in
hempseed oil: so Vasari--speaking of linseed-oil in contemporary
practice--"benchè il noce e meglio, perchè ingialla meno." The Italians
generally mixed an essential oil with their delicate tints, including
flesh tints (p. 431). Extraordinary methods were used by the Flemish
painters to protect their blues; they were sometimes painted with size,
and varnished; sometimes strewed in powder on fresh white-lead (p.
456). Leonardo gives a careful recipe for preventing the change of color
in nut oil, supposing it to be owing to neglect in removing the skin of
the nut. His words, given at p. 321, are incorrectly translated: "una
certa bucciolina," is not a husk or rind--but "a thin skin," meaning the
white membranous covering of the nut itself, of which it is almost
impossible to detach all the inner laminæ. This, "che tiene della natura
del mallo," Leonardo supposes to give the expressed oil its property of
forming a _skin_ at the surface.

123. We think these passages interesting, because they are entirely
opposed to the modern ideas of the desirableness of yellow lights and
green blues, which have been introduced chiefly by the study of altered
pictures. The anxiety of Rubens, expressed in various letters, quoted at
p. 516, lest any of his whites should have become yellow, and his
request that his pictures might be exposed to the sun to remedy the
defect, if it occurred, are conclusive on this subject, as far as
regards the feeling of the Flemish painters: we shall presently see that
the _coolness_ of their light was an essential part of their scheme of

The testing of the various processes given in these two chapters must be
a matter of time: many of them have been superseded by recent
discoveries. Copal varnish is in modern practice no inefficient
substitute for amber, and we believe that most artists will agree with
us in thinking that the vehicles now in use are sufficient for all
purposes, if used rightly. We shall, therefore, proceed in the first
place to give a rapid sketch of the entire process of the Flemish school
as it is stated by Mr. Eastlake in the 11th chapter, and then examine
the several steps of it one by one, with the view at once of marking
what seems disputable, and of deducing from what is certain some
considerations respecting the consequences of its adoption in subsequent

124. The ground was with all the early masters pure _white_, plaster of
Paris, or washed chalk with size; a preparation which has been employed
without change from remote antiquity--witness the Egyptian mummy-cases.
Such a ground, becoming brittle with age, is evidently unsafe on canvas,
unless exceedingly thin; and even on panel is liable to crack and detach
itself, unless it be carefully guarded against damp. The precautions of
Van Eyck against this danger, as well as against the warping of his
panel, are remarkable instances of his regard to points apparently

       *       *       *

"In large altar-pieces, necessarily composed of many pieces, it may be
often remarked that each separate plank has become slightly convex in
front: this is particularly observable in the picture of the
Transfiguration by Raphael. The heat of candles on altars is supposed to
have been the cause of this not uncommon defect; but heat, if
considerable, would rather produce the contrary appearance. It would
seem that the layer of paint, with its substratum, slightly operates to
prevent the wood from contracting or becoming concave on that side; it
might therefore be concluded that a similar protection at the back, by
equalizing the conditions, would tend to keep the wood flat. The oak
panel on which the picture by Van Eyck in the National Gallery is
painted is protected at the back by a composition of gesso, size, and
tow, over which a coat of black oil-paint was passed. This, whether
added when the picture was executed or subsequently, has tended to
preserve the wood (which is not at all worm-eaten), and perhaps to
prevent its warping."--_Ib._ pp. 373, 374.

       *       *       *

On the white ground, scraped, when it was perfectly dry, till it was "as
white as milk and as smooth as ivory" (Cennini), the outline of the
picture was drawn, and its light and shade expressed, usually with the
pen, with all possible care; and over this outline a coating of size was
applied in order to render the gesso ground _non_-absorbent. The
establishment of this fact is of the greatest importance, for the whole
question of the true function and use of the gesso ground hangs upon it.
That use has been supposed by all previous writers on the technical
processes of painting to be, by absorbing the oil, to remove in some
degree the cause of yellowness in the colors. Had this been so, the
ground itself would have lost its brilliancy, and it would have followed
that a dark ground, equally absorbent, would have answered the purpose
as well. But the evidence adduced by Mr. Eastlake on this subject is

       *       *       *

"Pictures are sometimes transferred from panel to cloth. The front being
secured by smooth paper or linen, the picture is laid on its face, and
the wood is gradually planed and scraped away. At last the ground
appears; first, the 'gesso grosso,' then, next the painted surface, the
'gesso sottile.' On scraping this it is found that it is whitest
immediately next the colors; for on the inner side it may sometimes
have received slight stains from the wood, if the latter was not first
sized. When a picture which happens to be much cracked has been oiled or
varnished, the fluid will sometimes penetrate through the cracks into
the ground, which in such parts had become accessible. In that case the
white ground is stained in lines only, corresponding in their direction
with the cracks of the picture. This last circumstance also proves that
the ground was not sufficiently hard in itself to prevent the absorption
of oil. Accordingly, it required to be rendered non-absorbent by a
coating of size; and this was passed _over_ the outline, before the
oil-priming was applied."--_Ib._ pp. 383, 384.

       *       *       *

The perfect whiteness of the ground being thus secured, a transparent
warm oil-priming, in early practice flesh-colored, was usually passed
over the entire picture. This custom, says Mr. Eastlake, appears to have
been "a remnant of the old habit of covering tempera pictures with a
warm varnish, and was sometimes omitted." When used it was permitted to
dry thoroughly, and over it the shadows were painted in with a rich
transparent brown, mixed with a somewhat thick oleo-resinous vehicle;
the lighter colors were then added with a thinner vehicle, taking care
not to disturb the transparency of the shadows by the unnecessary
mixture of opaque pigments, and leaving the ground bearing bright
_through the thin lights_. (?) As the art advanced, the lights were more
and more loaded, and afterwards glazed, the shadows being still left in
untouched transparency. This is the method of Rubens. The later Italian
colorists appear to have laid opaque local color without fear even into
the shadows, and to have recovered transparency by ultimate glazing.

125. Such are the principal heads of the method of the early Flemish
masters, as stated by Mr. Eastlake. We have marked as questionable the
influence of the ground in supporting the lights: our reasons for doing
so we will give, after we have stated what we suppose to be the
advantages or disadvantages of the process in its earlier stages,
guiding ourselves as far as possible by the passages in which any
expression occurs of Mr. Eastlake's opinion.

The reader cannot but see that the _eminent_ character of the whole
system is its predeterminateness. From first to last its success
depended on the decision and clearness of each successive step. The
drawing and light and shade were secured without any interference of
color; but when over these the oil-priming was once laid, the design
could neither be altered nor, if lost, recovered; a color laid too
opaquely in the shadow destroyed the inner organization of the picture,
and remained an irremediable blemish; and it was necessary, in laying
color even on the lights, to follow the guidance of the drawing beneath
with a caution and precision which rendered anything like freedom of
handling, in the modern sense, totally impossible. Every quality which
depends on rapidity, accident, or audacity was interdicted; no
affectation of ease was suffered to disturb the humility of patient
exertion. Let our readers consider in what temper such a work must be
undertaken and carried through--a work in which error was irremediable,
change impossible--which demanded the drudgery of a student, while it
involved the deliberation of a master--in which the patience of a
mechanic was to be united with the foresight of a magician--in which no
license could be indulged either to fitfulness of temper or felicity of
invention--in which haste was forbidden, yet languor fatal, and
consistency of conception no less incumbent than continuity of toil. Let
them reflect what kind of men must have been called up and trained by
work such as this, and then compare the tones of mind which are likely
to be produced by our present practice,--a practice in which alteration
is admitted to any extent in any stage--in which neither foundation is
laid nor end foreseen--in which all is dared and nothing resolved,
everything periled, nothing provided for--in which men play the
sycophant in the courts of their humors, and hunt wisps in the marshes
of their wits--a practice which invokes accident, evades law,
discredits application, despises system, and sets forth with chief
exultation, contingent beauty, and extempore invention.

126. But it is not only the fixed nature of the successive steps which
influenced the character of these early painters. A peculiar _direction_
was given to their efforts by the close attention to drawing which, as
Mr. Eastlake has especially noticed, was involved in the preparation of
the design on the white ground. That design was secured with a care and
finish which in many instances might seem altogether supererogatory.[18]
The preparation by John Bellini in the Florentine gallery is completed
with exhaustless diligence into even the portions farthest removed from
the light, where the thick brown of the shadows must necessarily have
afterwards concealed the greater part of the work. It was the discipline
undergone in producing this preparation which fixed the character of the
school. The most important part of the picture was executed not with the
brush, but with the point, and the refinements attainable by this
instrument dictated the treatment of their subject. Hence the transition
to etching and engraving, and the intense love of minute detail,
accompanied by an imaginative communication of dignity and power to the
smallest forms, in Albert Dürer and others. But this attention to
minutiæ was not the only result; the disposition of light and shade was
also affected by the method. Shade was not to be had at small cost; its
masses could not be dashed on in impetuous generalization, fields for
the future recovery of light. They were measured out and wrought to
their depths only by expenditure of toil and time; and, as future
grounds for color, they were necessarily restricted to the _natural_
shadow of every object, white being left for high lights of whatever
hue. In consequence, the character of pervading daylight, almost
inevitably produced in the preparation, was afterwards assumed as a
standard in the painting. Effectism, accidental shadows, all obvious
and vulgar artistical treatment, were excluded, or introduced only as
the lights became more loaded, and were consequently imposed with more
facility on the dark ground. Where shade was required in large mass, it
was obtained by introducing an object of locally dark color. The Italian
masters who followed Van Eyck's system were in the constant habit of
relieving their principal figures by the darkness of some object,
foliage, throne, or drapery, introduced behind the head, the open sky
being left visible on each side. A green drapery is thus used with great
quaintness by John Bellini in the noble picture of the Brera Gallery; a
black screen, with marbled veins, behind the portraits of himself and
his brother in the Louvre; a crimson velvet curtain behind the Madonna,
in Francia's best picture at Bologna. Where the subject was sacred, and
the painter great, this system of pervading light produced pictures of a
peculiar and tranquil majesty; where the mind of the painter was
irregularly or frivolously imaginative, its temptations to accumulative
detail were too great to be resisted--the spectator was by the German
masters overwhelmed with the copious inconsistency of a dream, or
compelled to traverse the picture from corner to corner like a museum of

127. The chalk or pen preparation being completed, and the oil-priming
laid, we have seen that the shadows were laid in with a transparent
_brown_ in considerable body. The question next arises--What influence
is this part of the process likely to have had upon the _coloring_ of
the school? It is to be remembered that the practice was continued to
the latest times, and that when the thin light had been long abandoned,
and a loaded body of color had taken its place, the brown transparent
shadow was still retained, and is retained often to this day, when
asphaltum is used as its base, at the risk of the destruction of the
picture. The utter loss of many of Reynolds' noblest works has been
caused by the lavish use of this pigment. What the pigment actually was
in older times is left by Mr. Eastlake undecided:--

       *       *       *

"A rich brown, which, whether an earth or mineral alone, or a substance
of the kind enriched by the addition of a transparent yellow or orange,
is not an unimportant element of the glowing coloring which is
remarkable in examples of the school. Such a color, by artificial
combinations at least, is easily supplied; and it is repeated, that, in
general, the materials now in use are quite as good as those which the
Flemish masters had at their command."--_Ib._ p. 488.

       *       *       *

At p. 446 it is also asserted that the peculiar glow of the brown of
Rubens is hardly to be accounted for by any accidental variety in the
Cassel earths, but was obtained by the mixture of a transparent yellow.
Evidence, however, exists of asphaltum having been used in Flemish
pictures, and with safety, even though prepared in the modern manner:--

       *       *       *

"It is not ground" (says De Mayerne), "but a drying oil is prepared with
litharge, and the pulverized asphaltum mixed with this oil is placed in
a glass vessel, suspended by a thread [in a water bath]. Thus exposed to
the fire it melts like butter; when it begins to boil it is instantly
removed. It is an excellent color for shadows, and may be glazed like
lake; it lasts well."--_Ib._ p. 463.

       *       *       *

128. The great advantage of this primary laying in of the darks in brown
was the obtaining an unity of shadow throughout the picture, which
rendered variety of hue, where it occurred, an instantly accepted
evidence of light. It mattered not how vigorous or how deep in tone the
masses of local color might be, the eye could not confound them with
true shadow; it everywhere distinguished the transparent browns as
indicative of gloom, and became acutely sensible of the presence and
preciousness of light wherever local tints rose out of their depths. But
however superior this method may be to the arbitrary use of polychrome
shadows, utterly unrelated to the lights, which has been admitted in
modern works; and however beautiful or brilliant its results might be
in the hands of colorists as faithful as Van Eyck, or as inventive as
Rubens; the principle on which it is based becomes dangerous whenever,
in assuming that the ultimate hue of every shadow is brown, it
presupposes a peculiar and conventional light. It is true, that so long
as the early practice of finishing the under-drawing with the pen was
continued, the gray of that preparation might perhaps diminish the force
of the upper color, which became in that case little more than a glowing
varnish--even thus sometimes verging on too monotonous warmth, as the
reader may observe in the head of Dandolo, by John Bellini, in the
National Gallery. But when, by later and more impetuous hands, the point
tracing was dispensed with, and the picture boldly thrown in with the
brown pigment, it became matter of great improbability that the force of
such a prevalent tint could afterwards be softened or melted into a pure
harmony; the painter's feeling for truth was blunted; brilliancy and
richness became his object rather than sincerity or solemnity; with the
palled sense of color departed the love of light, and the diffused
sunshine of the early schools died away in the narrowed rays of
Rembrandt. We think it a deficiency in the work before us that the
extreme peril of such a principle, incautiously applied, has not been
pointed out, and that the method of Rubens has been so highly extolled
for its technical perfection, without the slightest notice of the gross
mannerism into which its facile brilliancy too frequently betrayed the
mighty master.

129. Yet it remains a question how far, under certain limitations and
for certain effects, this system of pure brown shadow may be
successfully followed. It is not a little singular that it has already
been revived in water-colors by a painter who, in his realization of
light and splendor of hue, stands without a rival among living
schools--Mr. Hunt; his neutral shadows being, we believe, first thrown
in frankly with sepia, the color introduced upon the lights, and the
central lights afterwards further raised by body color, and glazed. But
in this process the sepia shadows are admitted only on objects whose
local colors are warm or neutral; wherever the tint of the illumined
portion is delicate or peculiar, a relative hue of shade is at once laid
on the white paper; and the correspondence with the Flemish school is in
the use of brown as the ultimate representative of deep gloom, and in
the careful preservation of its transparency, not in the application of
brown universally as the shade of all colors. We apprehend that this
practice represents, in another medium, the very best mode of applying
the Flemish system; and that when the result proposed is an effect of
vivid color under bright cool sunshine, it would be impossible to adopt
any more perfect means. But a system which in any stage prescribes the
use of a certain pigment, implies the adoption of a constant aim, and
becomes, in that degree, conventional. Suppose that the effect desired
be neither of sunlight nor of bright color, but of grave color subdued
by atmosphere, and we believe that the use of brown for an ultimate
shadow would be highly inexpedient. With Van Eyck and with Rubens the
aim was always consistent: clear daylight, diffused in the one case,
concentrated in the other, was yet the hope, the necessity of both; and
any process which admitted the slightest dimness, coldness, or opacity,
would have been considered an error in their system by either. Alike, to
Rubens, came subjects of tumult or tranquillity, of gayety or terror;
the nether, earthly, and upper world were to him animated with the same
feeling, lighted by the same sun; he dyed in the same lake of fire the
warp of the wedding-garment or of the winding-sheet; swept into the same
delirium the recklessness of the sensualist, and rapture of the
anchorite; saw in tears only their glittering, and in torture only its
flush. To such a painter, regarding every subject in the same temper,
and all as mere motives for the display of the power of his art, the
Flemish system, improved as it became in his hands, was alike sufficient
and habitual. But among the greater colorists of Italy the aim was not
always so simple nor the method so determinable. We find Tintoret
passing like a fire-fly from light to darkness in one oscillation,
ranging from the fullest prism of solar color to the coldest grays of
twilight, and from the silver tingeing of a morning cloud to the lava
fire of a volcano: one moment shutting himself into obscure chambers of
imagery, the next plunged into the revolutionless day of heaven, and
piercing space, deeper than the mind can follow or the eye fathom; we
find him by turns appalling, pensive, splendid, profound, profuse; and
throughout sacrificing every minor quality to the power of his prevalent
mood. By such an artist it might, perhaps, be presumed that a different
system of color would be adopted in almost every picture, and that if a
chiaroscuro ground were independently laid, it would be in a neutral
gray, susceptible afterwards of harmony with any tone he might determine
upon, and not in the vivid brown which necessitated brilliancy of
subsequent effect. We believe, accordingly, that while some of the
pieces of this master's richer color, such as the Adam and Eve in the
Gallery of Venice, and we suspect also the miracle of St. Mark, may be
executed on the pure Flemish system, the greater number of his large
compositions will be found based on a gray shadow; and that this gray
shadow was independently laid we have more direct proof in the assertion
of Boschini, who received his information from the younger Palma:
"Quando haveva stabilita questa importante distribuzione, _abboggiava il
quadro tutto di chiaroscuro_;" and we have, therefore, no doubt that
Tintoret's well-known reply to the question, "What were the most
beautiful colors?" "_Il nero, e il bianco_," is to be received in a
perfectly literal sense, beyond and above its evident reference to
abstract principle. Its main and most valuable meaning was, of course,
that the design and light and shade of a picture were of greater
importance than its color; (and this Tintoret felt so thoroughly that
there is not one of his works which would seriously lose in power if it
were translated into chiaroscuro); but it implied also that Tintoret's
idea of a shadowed preparation was in gray, and not in brown.

130. But there is a farther and more essential ground of difference in
system of shadow between the Flemish and Italian colorists. It is a
well-known optical fact that the color of shadow is complemental to that
of light: and that therefore, in general terms, warm light has cool
shadow, and cool light hot shadow. The noblest masters of the northern
and southern schools respectively adopted these contrary keys; and while
the Flemings raised their lights in frosty white and pearly grays out of
a glowing shadow, the Italians opposed the deep and burning rays of
their golden heaven to masses of solemn gray and majestic blue. Either,
therefore, their preparation must have been different, or they were
able, when they chose, to conquer the warmth of the ground by
superimposed color. We believe, accordingly, that Correggio will be
found--as stated in the notes of Reynolds quoted at p. 495--to have
habitually grounded with black, white, and ultramarine, then glazing
with golden transparent colors; while Titian used the most vigorous
browns, and conquered them with cool color in mass above. The remarkable
sketch of Leonardo in the Uffizii of Florence is commenced in
brown--over the brown is laid an olive green, on which the highest
lights are struck with white.

Now it is well known to even the merely decorative painter that no color
can be brilliant which is laid over one of a corresponding key, and that
the best ground for any given opaque color will be a comparatively
subdued tint of the complemental one; of green under red, of violet
under yellow, and of _orange_ or _brown_ therefore under _blue_. We
apprehend accordingly that the real value of the brown ground with
Titian was far greater than even with Rubens; it was to support and give
preciousness to cool color above, while it remained itself untouched as
the representative of warm reflexes and extreme depth of transparent
gloom. We believe this employment of the brown ground to be the only
means of uniting majesty of hue with profundity of shade. But its value
to the Fleming is connected with the management of the lights, which we
have next to consider. As we here venture for the first time to disagree
in some measure with Mr. Eastlake, let us be sure that we state his
opinion fairly. He says:--

       *       *       *

"The light warm tint which Van Mander assumes to have been generally
used in the oil-priming was sometimes omitted, as unfinished pictures
prove. Under such circumstances, the picture may have been executed at
once on the sized outline. In the works of Lucas van Leyden, and
sometimes in those of Albert Dürer, the thin yet brilliant lights
exhibit a still brighter ground underneath (p. 389).... It thus
appears that the method proposed by the inventors of oil-painting, of
preserving light within the colors, involved a certain order of
processes. The principal conditions were: first, that the outline should
be completed on the panel before the painting, properly so called, was
begun. The object, in thus defining the forms, was to avoid alterations
and repaintings, which might ultimately render the ground useless
without supplying its place. Another condition was to avoid loading _the
opaque_ colors. _This limitation was not essential with regard to the
transparent colors, as such could hardly exclude the bright ground_
(p. 398).... The system of coloring adopted by the Van Eycks may have
been influenced by the practice of glass-painting. They appear, in their
first efforts at least, to have considered the white panel as
representing light behind a colored and transparent medium, and aimed at
giving brilliancy to their tints by allowing the white ground to shine
through them. If those painters and their followers erred, it was in
sometimes too literally carrying out this principle. _Their lights are
always transparent_ (mere white excepted) and their shadows sometimes
want depth. This is in accordance with the effect of glass-staining, in
which transparency may cease with darkness, but never with light. The
superior method of Rubens consisted in preserving transparency chiefly
in his darks, and in contrasting their lucid depth with solid lights
(p. 408).... Among the technical improvements on the older process may
be especially mentioned the preservation of transparency in the darker
masses, the lights being loaded as required. The system of exhibiting
the bright ground through the shadows still involved an adherence to the
original method of defining the composition at first; and the solid
painting of the lights opened the door to that freedom of execution
which the works of the early masters wanted." (p. 490.)

       *       *       *

131. We think we cannot have erred in concluding from these scattered
passages that Mr. Eastlake supposes the brilliancy of the high lights of
the earlier schools to be attributable to the under-power of the white
ground. This we admit, so far as that ground gave value to the
transparent flesh-colored or brown preparation above it; but we doubt
the transparency of the highest lights, and the power of any white
ground to add brilliancy to opaque colors. We have ourselves never seen
an instance of a _painted brilliant_ light that was not loaded to the
exclusion of the ground. Secondary lights indeed are often perfectly
transparent, a warm hatching over the under-white; the highest light
itself may be so--but then it is the white ground itself subdued by
transparent _darker_ color, not supporting a light color. In the Van
Eyck in the National Gallery all the brilliant lights are loaded; mere
white, Mr. Eastlake himself admits, was always so; and we believe that
the flesh-color and carnations are painted with color as _opaque_ as the
white head-dress, but fail of brilliancy from not being _loaded enough_;
the white ground beneath being utterly unable to add to the power of
such tints, while its effect on more subdued tones depended in great
measure on its receiving a transparent coat of warm color first. This
_may_ have been sometimes omitted, as stated at p. 389; when it was
so, we believe that an utter loss of brilliancy must have resulted; but
when it was used, the highest lights must have been raised from it by
opaque color as distinctly by Van Eyck as by Rubens. Rubens' Judgment of
Paris is quoted at [p. 388] as an example of the best use of the
bright gesso ground:--and how in that picture, how in all Rubens' best
pictures, is it used? Over the ground is thrown a transparent glowing
brown tint, varied and deepened in the shadow; boldly over that brown
glaze, and into it, are struck and painted the opaque gray middle tints,
already concealing the ground totally; and above these are loaded the
high lights like gems--note the sparkling strokes on the peacock's
plumes. We believe that Van Eyck's high lights were either, in
proportion to the scale of picture and breadth of handling, as loaded as
these, or, in the degree of their thinness, less brilliant. Was then his
system the same as Rubens'? Not so; but it differed more in the
management of middle tints than in the lights: the main difference was,
we believe, between the careful preparation of the gradations of drawing
in the one, and the daring assumption of massy light in the other. There
are theorists who would assert that their system was the same--but they
forget the primal work, with the point underneath, and all that it
implied of transparency above. Van Eyck secured his drawing in dark,
then threw a pale transparent middle tint over the whole, and recovered
his _highest_ lights; all was _transparent_ except these. Rubens threw a
dark middle tint over the whole at first, and then gave the _drawing_
with opaque gray. All was _opaque_ except the shadows. No slight
difference this, when we reflect on the contrarieties of practice
ultimately connected with the opposing principles; above all on the
eminent one that, as all Van Eyck's color, except the high lights, must
have been equivalent to a glaze, while the great body of _color_ in
Rubens was solid (ultimately glazed occasionally, but not necessarily),
it was possible for Van Eyck to mix his tints to the local hues
required, with far less danger of heaviness in effect than would have
been incurred in the solid painting of Rubens. This is especially
noticed by Mr. Eastlake, with whom we are delighted again to concur:--

       *       *       *

"The practice of using compound tints has not been approved by
colorists; the method, as introduced by the early masters, was adapted
to certain conditions, but, like many of their processes, was afterwards
misapplied. Vasari informs us that Lorenzo di Credi, whose exaggerated
nicety in technical details almost equaled that of Gerard Dow, was in
the habit of mixing about thirty tints before he began to work. The
opposite extreme is perhaps no less objectionable. Much may depend on
the skillful use of the ground. The purest color in an opaque state and
superficially light only, is less brilliant than the foulest mixture
through which light shines. Hence, as long as the white ground was
visible within the tints, the habit of matching colors from nature (no
matter by what complication of hues, provided the ingredients were not
chemically injurious to each other) was likely to combine the truth of
negative hues with clearness."--_Ib._ p. 400.

       *       *       *

132. These passages open to us a series of questions far too intricate
to be even cursorily treated within our limits. It is to be held in mind
that one and the same quality of color or kind of brilliancy is not
always the best; the phases and phenomena of color are innumerable in
reality, and even the modes of imitating them become expedient or
otherwise, according to the aim and scale of the picture. It is no
question of mere authority whether the mixture of tints to a compound
one, or their juxtaposition in a state of purity, be the better
practice. There is not the slightest doubt that, the ground being the
same, a stippled tint is more brilliant and rich than a mixed one; nor
is there doubt on the other hand that in some subjects such a tint is
impossible, and in others vulgar. We have above alluded to the power of
Mr. Hunt in water-color. The fruit-pieces of that artist are dependent
for their splendor chiefly on the juxtaposition of pure color for
compound tints, and we may safely affirm that the method is for such
purpose as exemplary as its results are admirable. Yet would you desire
to see the same means adopted in the execution of the fruit in Rubens'
Peace and War? Or again, would the lusciousness of tint obtained by
Rubens himself, adopting the same means on a grander scale in his
painting of flesh, have been conducive to the ends or grateful to the
feelings of the Bellinis or Albert Dürer? Each method is admirable as
applied by its master; and Hemling and Van Eyck are as much to be
followed in the mingling of color, as Rubens and Rembrandt in its
decomposition. If an award is absolutely to be made of superiority to
either system, we apprehend that the palm of mechanical skill must be
rendered to the latter, and higher dignity of moral purpose confessed in
the former; in proportion to the nobleness of the subject and the
thoughtfulness of its treatment, simplicity of color will be found more
desirable. Nor is the far higher perfection of drawing attained by the
earlier method to be forgotten. Gradations which are expressed by
delicate execution of the _darks_, and then aided by a few strokes of
recovered light, must always be more subtle and true than those which
are struck violently forth with opaque color; and it is to be remembered
that the handling of the brush, with the early Italian masters,
approached in its refinement to drawing with the point--the more
definitely, because the work was executed, as we have just seen, with
little change or play of local color. And--whatever discredit the looser
and bolder practice of later masters may have thrown on the hatched and
penciled execution of earlier periods--we maintain that this method,
necessary in fresco, and followed habitually in the first oil pictures,
has produced the noblest renderings of human expression in the whole
range of the examples of art: the best works of Raphael, all the
glorious portraiture of Ghirlandajo and Masaccio, all the mightiest
achievements of religious zeal in Francia, Perugino, Bellini, and such
others. Take as an example in fresco Masaccio's hasty sketch of himself
now in the Uffizii; and in oil, the two heads of monks by Perugino in
the Academy of Florence; and we shall search in vain for any work in
portraiture, executed in opaque colors, which could contend with them in
depth of expression or in fullness of _recorded_ life--not mere
imitative vitality, but chronicled action. And we have no hesitation in
asserting that where the object of the painter is expression, and the
picture is of a size admitting careful execution, the transparent
system, developed as it is found in Bellini or Perugino, will attain the
most profound and serene color, while it will never betray into
looseness or audacity. But if in the mind of the painter invention
prevail over veneration,--if his eye be creative rather than
penetrative, and his hand more powerful than patient--let him not be
confined to a system where light, once lost, is as irrecoverable as
time, and where all success depends on husbandry of resource. Do not
measure out to him his sunshine in inches of gesso; let him have the
power of striking it even out of darkness and the deep.

133. If human life were endless, or human spirit could fit its compass
to its will, it is possible a perfection might be reached which should
unite the majesty of invention with the meekness of love. We might
conceive that the thought, arrested by the readiest means, and at first
represented by the boldest symbols, might afterwards be set forth with
solemn and studied expression, and that the power might know no
weariness in clothing which had known no restraint in creating. But
dilation and contraction are for molluscs, not for men; we are not
ringed into flexibility like worms, nor gifted with opposite sight and
mutable color like chameleons. The mind which molds and summons cannot
at will transmute itself into that which clings and contemplates; nor is
it given to us at once to have the potter's power over the lump, the
fire's upon the clay, and the gilder's upon the porcelain. Even the
temper in which we behold these various displays of mind must be
different; and it admits of more than doubt whether, if the bold work of
rapid thought were afterwards in all its forms completed with
microscopic care, the result would be other than painful. In the shadow
at the foot of Tintoret's picture of the Temptation, lies a broken
rock-bowlder.[19] The dark ground has been first laid in, of color
nearly uniform; and over it a few, not more than fifteen or twenty,
strokes of the brush, loaded with a light gray, have quarried the solid
block of stone out of the vacancy. Probably ten minutes are the utmost
time which those strokes have occupied, though the rock is some four
feet square. It may safely be affirmed that no other method, however
laborious, could have reached the truth of form which results from the
very freedom with which the conception has been expressed; but it is a
truth of the simplest kind--the definition of a stone, rather than the
painting of one--and the lights are in some degree dead and cold--the
natural consequence of striking a mixed opaque pigment over a dark
ground. It would now be possible to treat this skeleton of a stone,
which could only have been knit together by Tintoret's rough temper,
with the care of a Fleming; to leave its fiercely-stricken lights
emanating from a golden ground, to gradate with the pen its ponderous
shadows, and in its completion, to dwell with endless and intricate
precision upon fibers of moss, bells of heath, blades of grass, and
films of lichen. Love like Van Eyck's would separate the fibers as if
they were stems of forest, twine the ribbed grass into fanciful
articulation, shadow forth capes and islands in the variegated film, and
hang the purple bells in counted chiming. A year might pass away, and
the work yet be incomplete; yet would the purpose of the great picture
have been better answered when all had been achieved? or if so, is it to
be wished that a year of the life of Tintoret (could such a thing be
conceived possible) had been so devoted?

134. We have put in as broad and extravagant a view as possible the
difference of object in the two systems of loaded and transparent light;
but it is to be remembered that both are in a certain degree compatible,
and that whatever exclusive arguments may be adduced in favor of the
loaded system apply only to the ultimate stages of the work. The
question is not whether the white ground be expedient in the
commencement--but how far it must of necessity be preserved to the
close? There cannot be the slightest doubt that, whatever the object,
whatever the power of the painter, the white ground, as intensely bright
and perfect as it can be obtained, should be the base of his
operations; that it should be preserved as long as possible, shown
wherever it is possible, and sacrificed only upon good cause. There are
indeed many objects which do not admit of imitation unless the hand have
power of superimposing and modeling the light; but there are others
which are equally unsusceptible of every rendering except that of
transparent color over the pure ground.

It appears from the evidence now produced that there are at least three
distinct systems traceable in the works of good colorists, each having
its own merit and its peculiar application. First, the white ground,
with careful chiaroscuro preparation, transparent color in the middle
tints, and opaque high lights only (Van Eyck). Secondly, white ground,
transparent brown preparation, and solid painting of lights above
(Rubens). Thirdly, white ground, brown preparation, and solid painting
both of lights and shadows above (Titian); on which last method,
indisputably the noblest, we have not insisted, as it has not yet been
examined by Mr. Eastlake. But in all these methods the white ground was
indispensable. It mattered not what transparent color were put over it:
red, frequently, we believe, by Titian, before the brown shadows--yellow
sometimes by Rubens:--whatever warm tone might be chosen for the key of
the composition, and for the support of its grays, depended for its own
value upon the white gesso beneath; nor can any system of color be
ultimately successful which excludes it. Noble arrangement, choice, and
relation of color, will indeed redeem and recommend the falsest system:
our own Reynolds, and recently Turner, furnish magnificent examples of
the power attainable by colorists of high caliber, after the light
ground is lost--(we cannot agree with Mr. Eastlake in thinking the
practice of painting first in white and black, with cool reds only,
"equivalent to its preservation"):--but in the works of both, diminished
splendor and sacrificed durability attest and punish the neglect of the
best resources of their art.

135. We have stated, though briefly, the major part of the data which
recent research has furnished respecting the early colorists; enough,
certainly, to remove all theoretical obstacles to the attainment of a
perfection equal to theirs. A few carefully conducted experiments, with
the efficient aids of modern chemistry, would probably put us in
possession of an amber varnish, if indeed this be necessary, at least
not inferior to that which they employed; the rest of their materials
are already in our hands, soliciting only such care in their preparation
as it ought, we think, to be no irksome duty to bestow. Yet we are not
sanguine of the immediate result. Mr. Eastlake has done his duty
excellently; but it is hardly to be expected that, after being long in
possession of means which we could apply to no profit, the knowledge
that the greatest men possessed no better, should at once urge to
emulation and gift with strength. We believe that some consciousness of
their true position already existed in the minds of many living artists;
example had at least been given by two of our Academicians, Mr. Mulready
and Mr. Etty, of a splendor based on the Flemish system, and consistent,
certainly, in the first case, with a high degree of permanence; while
the main direction of artistic and public sympathy to works of a
character altogether opposed to theirs, showed fatally how far more
perceptible and appreciable to our present instincts is the mechanism of
handling than the melody of hue. Indeed we firmly believe, that of all
powers of enjoyment or of judgment, that which is concerned with
nobility of color is least communicable: it is also perhaps the most
rare. The achievements of the draughtsman are met by the curiosity of
all mankind; the appeals of the dramatist answered by their sympathy;
the creatures of imagination acknowledged by their fear; but the voice
of the colorist has but the adder's listening, charm he never so wisely.
Men vie with each other, untaught, in pursuit of smoothness and
smallness--of Carlo Dolci and Van Huysum; their domestic hearts may
range them in faithful armies round the throne of Raphael; meditation
and labor may raise them to the level of the great mountain pedestal of
Buonarotti--"vestito gia de' raggi del pianeta, che mena dritto altrui
per ogni calle;" but neither time nor teaching will bestow the sense,
when it is not innate, of that wherein consists the power of Titian and
the great Venetians. There is proof of this in the various degrees of
cost and care devoted to the preservation of their works. The glass, the
curtain, and the cabinet guard the preciousness of what is petty, guide
curiosity to what is popular, invoke worship to what is mighty;--Raphael
has his palace--Michael his dome--respect protects and crowds traverse
the sacristy and the saloon; but the frescoes of Titian fade in the
solitudes of Padua, and the gesso falls crumbled from the flapping
canvas, as the sea-winds shake the Scuola di San Rocco.

136. But if, on the one hand, mere abstract excellence of color be thus
coldly regarded, it is equally certain that no work ever attains
enduring celebrity which is eminently deficient in this great respect.
Color cannot be indifferent; it is either beautiful and auxiliary to the
purposes of the picture, or false, froward, and opposite to them. Even
in the painting of Nature herself, this law is palpable; chiefly
glorious when color is a predominant element in her working, she is in
the next degree most impressive when it is withdrawn altogether: and
forms and scenes become sublime in the neutral twilight, which were
indifferent in the colors of noon. Much more is this the case in the
feebleness of imitation; all color is bad which is less than beautiful;
all is gross and intrusive which is not attractive; it repels where it
cannot inthrall, and destroys what it cannot assist. It is besides the
painter's peculiar craft; he who cannot color is no painter. It is not
painting to grind earths with oil and lay them smoothly on a surface. He
only is a painter who can melodize and harmonize _hue_--if he fail in
this, he is no member of the brotherhood. Let him etch, or draw, or
carve: better the unerring graver than the unfaithful pencil--better the
true sling and stone than the brightness of the unproved armor. And let
not even those who deal in the deeper magic, and feel in themselves the
loftier power, presume upon that power--nor believe in the reality of
any success unless that which has been deserved by deliberate, resolute,
successive operation. We would neither deny nor disguise the influences
of sensibility or of imagination, upon this, as upon every other
admirable quality of art;--we know that there is that in the very stroke
and fall of the pencil in a master's hand, which creates color with an
unconscious enchantment--we know that there is a brilliancy which
springs from the joy of the painter's heart--a gloom which sympathizes
with its seriousness--a power correlative with its will; but these are
all vain unless they be ruled by a seemly caution--a manly
moderation--an indivertible foresight. This we think the one great
conclusion to be received from the work we have been examining, that all
power is vain--all invention vain--all enthusiasm vain--all devotion
even, and fidelity vain, unless these are guided by such severe and
exact law as we see take place in the development of every great natural
glory; and, even in the full glow of their bright and burning operation,
sealed by the cold, majestic, deep-graven impress of the signet on the
right hand of Time.


137. The first pages in the histories of artists, worthy the name, are
generally alike; records of boyish resistance to every scheme, parental
or tutorial, at variance with the ruling desire and bent of the opening
mind. It is so rare an accident that the love of drawing should be
noticed and fostered in the child, that we are hardly entitled to form
any conclusions respecting the probable result of an indulgent
foresight; it is enough to admire the strength of will which usually
accompanies every noble intellectual gift, and to believe that, in early
life, direct resistance is better than inefficient guidance. Samuel
Prout--with how many rich and picturesque imaginations is the name now
associated!--was born at Plymouth, September 17th, 1783, and intended by
his father for his own profession; but although the delicate health of
the child might have appeared likely to induce a languid acquiescence in
his parent's wish, the love of drawing occupied every leisure hour, and
at last trespassed upon every other occupation. Reproofs were
affectionately repeated, and every effort made to dissuade the boy from
what was considered an "idle amusement," but it was soon discovered that
opposition was unavailing, and the attachment too strong to be checked.
It might perhaps have been otherwise, but for some rays of encouragement
received from the observant kindness of his first schoolmaster. To watch
the direction of the little hand when it wandered from its task, to draw
the culprit to him with a smile instead of a reproof, to set him on the
high stool beside his desk, and stimulate him, by the loan of his own
pen, to a more patient and elaborate study of the child's usual subject,
his favorite cat, was a modification of preceptorial care as easy as it
was wise; but it perhaps had more influence on the mind and after-life
of the boy than all the rest of his education together.

138. Such happy though rare interludes in school-hours, and occasional
attempts at home, usually from the carts and horses which stopped at a
public-house opposite, began the studentship of the young artist before
he had quitted his pinafore. An unhappy accident which happened about
the same time, and which farther enfeebled his health, rendered it still
less advisable to interfere with his beloved occupation. We have heard
the painter express, with a melancholy smile, the distinct recollection
remaining with him to this day, of a burning autumn morning, on which he
had sallied forth alone, himself some four autumns old, armed with a
hooked stick, to gather nuts. Unrestrainable alike with pencil or crook,
he was found by a farmer, towards the close of the day, lying moaning
under a hedge, prostrated by a sunstroke, and was brought home
insensible. From that day forward he was subject to attacks of violent
pain in the head, recurring at short intervals; and until thirty years
after marriage not a week passed without one or two days of absolute
confinement to his room or to his bed. "Up to this hour," we may perhaps
be permitted to use his own touching words, "I have to endure a great
fight of afflictions; can I therefore be sufficiently thankful for the
merciful gift of a buoyant spirit?"

139. That buoyancy of spirit--one of the brightest and most marked
elements of his character--never failed to sustain him between the
recurrences even of his most acute suffering; and the pursuit of his
most beloved Art became every year more determined and independent. The
first beginnings in landscape study were made in happy truant
excursions, now fondly remembered, with the painter Haydon, then also a
youth. This companionship was probably rather cemented by the energy
than the delicacy of Haydon's sympathies. The two boys were directly
opposed in their habits of application and modes of study. Prout
unremitting in diligence, patient in observation, devoted in copying
what he loved in nature, never working except with his model before
him; Haydon restless, ambitious, and fiery; exceedingly imaginative,
never captivated with simple truth, nor using his pencil on the spot,
but trusting always to his powers of memory. The fates of the two youths
were inevitably fixed by their opposite characters. The humble student
became the originator of a new School of Art, and one of the most
popular painters of his age. The self-trust of the wanderer in the
wilderness of his fancy betrayed him into the extravagances, and
deserted him in the suffering, with which his name must remain sadly,
but not unjustly, associated.

140. There was, however, little in the sketches made by Prout at this
period to indicate the presence of dormant power. Common prints, at a
period when engraving was in the lowest state of decline, were the only
guides which the youth could obtain; and his style, in endeavoring to
copy these, became cramped and mannered; but the unremitting sketching
from nature saved him. Whole days, from dawn till night, were devoted to
the study of the peculiar objects of his early interest, the ivy-mantled
bridges, mossy water-mills, and rock-built cottages, which characterize
the valley scenery of Devon. In spite of every disadvantage, the strong
love of truth, and the instinctive perception of the chief points of
shade and characters of form on which his favorite effects mainly
depended, enabled him not only to obtain an accumulated store of
memoranda, afterwards valuable, but to publish several elementary works
which obtained extensive and deserved circulation, and to which many
artists, now high in reputation, have kindly and frankly confessed their
early obligations.

141. At that period the art of water-color drawing was little understood
at Plymouth, and practiced only by Payne, then an engineer in the
citadel. Though mannered in the extreme, his works obtained reputation;
for the best drawings of the period were feeble both in color and
execution, with commonplace light and shadow, a dark foreground being a
_rule absolute_, as may be seen in several of Turner's first
productions. But Turner was destined to annihilate such rules, breaking
through and scattering them with an expansive force commensurate with
the rigidity of former restraint. It happened "fortunately," as it is
said,--naturally and deservedly, as it _should_ be said,--that Prout was
at this period removed from the narrow sphere of his first efforts to
one in which he could share in, and take advantage of, every progressive

142. The most respectable of the Plymouth amateurs was the Rev. Dr.
Bidlake, who was ever kind in his encouragement of the young painter,
and with whom many delightful excursions were made. At his house, Mr.
Britton, the antiquarian, happening to see some of the cottages
sketches, and being pleased with them, proposed that Prout should
accompany him into Cornwall, in order to aid him in collecting materials
for his "Beauties of England and Wales." This was the painter's first
recognized artistical employment, as well as the occasion of a
friendship ever gratefully and fondly remembered. On Mr. Britton's
return to London, after sending to him a portfolio of drawings, which
were almost the first to create a sensation with lovers of Art, Mr.
Prout received so many offers of encouragement, if he would consent to
reside in London, as to induce him to take this important step--the
first towards being established as an artist.

143. The immediate effect of this change of position was what might
easily have been foretold, upon a mind naturally sensitive, diffident,
and enthusiastic. It was a heavy discouragement. The youth felt that he
had much to eradicate and more to learn, and hardly knew at first how to
avail himself of the advantages presented by the study of the works of
Turner, Girtin, Cousins, and others. But he had resolution and ambition
as well as modesty; he knew that

   "The noblest honors of the mind
   On rigid terms descend."

He had every inducement to begin the race, in the clearer guidance and
nobler ends which the very works that had disheartened him afforded and
pointed out; and the first firm and certain step was made. His range of
subject was as yet undetermined, and was likely at one time to have been
very different from that in which he has since obtained pre-eminence so
confessed. Among the picturesque material of his native place, the forms
of its shipping had not been neglected, though there was probably less
in the order of Plymouth dockyard to catch the eye of the boy, always
determined in its preference of purely picturesque arrangements, than
might have been afforded by the meanest fishing hamlet. But a strong and
lasting impression was made upon him by the wreck of the "Dutton" East
Indiaman on the rocks under the citadel; the crew were saved by the
personal courage and devotion of Sir Edward Pellew, afterwards Lord
Exmouth. The wreck held together for many hours under the cliff, rolling
to and fro as the surges struck her. Haydon and Prout sat on the crags
together and watched her vanish fragment by fragment into the gnashing
foam. Both were equally awe-struck at the time; both, on the morrow,
resolved to paint their first pictures; both failed; but Haydon, always
incapable of acknowledging and remaining loyal to the majesty of what he
had seen, lost himself in vulgar thunder and lightning. Prout struggled
to some resemblance of the actual scene, and the effect upon his mind
was never effaced.

144. At the time of his first residence in London, he painted more
marines than anything else. But other work was in store for him. About
the year 1818, his health, which as we have seen had never been
vigorous, showed signs of increasing weakness, and a short trial of
continental air was recommended. The route by Havre to Rouen was chosen,
and Prout found himself, for the first time, in the grotesque labyrinths
of the Norman streets. There are few minds so apathetic as to receive no
impulse of new delight from their first acquaintance with continental
scenery and architecture; and Rouen was, of all the cities of France,
the richest in those objects with which the painter's mind had the
profoundest sympathy. It was other then than it is now; revolutionary
fury had indeed spent itself upon many of its noblest monuments, but the
interference of modern restoration or improvement was unknown. Better
the unloosed rage of the fiend than the scrabble of self-complacent
idiocy. The façade of the cathedral was as yet unencumbered by the
blocks of new stonework, never to be carved, by which it is now defaced;
the Church of St. Nicholas existed, (the last fragments of the niches of
its gateway were seen by the writer dashed upon the pavement in 1840 to
make room for the new "Hotel St. Nicholas"); the Gothic turret had not
vanished from the angle of the Place de la Pucelle, the Palais de
Justice remained in its gray antiquity, and the Norman houses still
lifted their fantastic ridges of gable along the busy quay (now fronted
by as formal a range of hotels and offices as that of the West Cliff of
Brighton). All was at unity with itself, and the city lay under its
guarding hills, one labyrinth of delight, its gray and fretted towers,
misty in their magnificence of height, letting the sky like blue enamel
through the foiled spaces of their crowns of open work; the walls and
gates of its countless churches wardered by saintly groups of solemn
statuary, clasped about by wandering stems of sculptured leafage, and
crowned by fretted niche and fairy pediment--meshed like gossamer with
inextricable tracery: many a quaint monument of past times standing to
tell its far-off tale in the place from which it has since perished--in
the midst of the throng and murmur of those shadowy streets--all grim
with jutting props of ebon woodwork, lightened only here and there by a
sunbeam glancing down from the scaly backs, and points, and pyramids of
the Norman roofs, or carried out of its narrow range by the gay progress
of some snowy cap or scarlet camisole. The painter's vocation was fixed
from that hour. The first effect upon his mind was irrepressible
enthusiasm, with a strong feeling of a new-born attachment to Art, in a
new world of exceeding interest. Previous impressions were presently
obliterated, and the old embankments of fancy gave way to the force of
overwhelming anticipations, forming another and a wider channel for its
future course.

145. From this time excursions were continually made to the continent,
and every corner of France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy
ransacked for its fragments of carved stone. The enthusiasm of the
painter was greater than his ambition, and the strict limitation of his
aim to the rendering of architectural character permitted him to adopt a
simple and consistent method of execution, from which he has rarely
departed. It was adapted in the first instance to the necessities of the
moldering and mystic character of Northern Gothic; and though
impressions received afterwards in Italy, more especially at Venice,
have retained as strong a hold upon the painter's mind as those of his
earlier excursions, his methods of drawing have always been influenced
by the predilections first awakened. How far his love of the
picturesque, already alluded to, was reconcilable with an entire
appreciation of the highest characters of Italian architecture we do not
pause to inquire; but this we may assert, without hesitation, that the
picturesque _elements_ of that architecture were unknown until he
developed them, and that since Gentile Bellini, no one had regarded the
palaces of Venice with so affectionate an understanding of the purpose
and expression of their wealth of detail. In this respect the City of
the Sea has been, and remains, peculiarly his own. There is, probably,
no single piazza nor sea-paved street from St. Georgio in Aliga to the
Arsenal, of which Prout has not in order drawn every fragment of
pictorial material. Probably not a pillar in Venice but occurs in some
one of his innumerable studies; while the peculiarly beautiful and
varied arrangements under which he has treated the angle formed by St.
Mark's Church with the Doge's palace, have not only made every
successful drawing of those buildings by any other hand look like
plagiarism, but have added (and what is this but indeed to paint the
lily!) another charm to the spot itself.

146. This exquisite dexterity of arrangement has always been one of his
leading characteristics as an artist. Notwithstanding the deserved
popularity of his works, his greatness in composition remains altogether
unappreciated. Many modern works exhibit greater pretense at
arrangement, and a more palpable system; masses of well-concentrated
light or points of sudden and dextrous color are expedients in the works
of our second-rate artists as attractive as they are commonplace. But
the moving and natural crowd, the decomposing composition, the frank and
unforced, but marvelously intricate grouping, the breadth of
inartificial and unexaggerated shadow, these are merits of an order only
the more elevated because unobtrusive. Nor is his system of color less
admirable. It is a quality from which the character of his subjects
naturally withdraws much of his attention, and of which sometimes that
character precludes any high attainment; but, nevertheless, the truest
and happiest association of hues in sun and shade to be found in modern
water-color art,[21] (excepting only the studies of Hunt and De Wint)
will be found in portions of Prout's more important works.

147. Of his _peculiar_ powers we need hardly speak; it would be
difficult to conceive the circle of their influence widened. There is
not a landscape of recent times in which the treatment of the
architectural features has not been affected, however unconsciously, by
principles which were first developed by Prout. Of those principles the
most original was his familiarization of the sentiment, while he
elevated the subject, of the picturesque. That character had been
sought, before his time, either in solitude or in rusticity; it was
supposed to belong only to the savageness of the desert or the
simplicity of the hamlet; it lurked beneath the brows of rocks and the
eaves of cottages; to seek it in a city would have been deemed an
extravagance, to raise it to the height of a cathedral, an heresy. Prout
did both, and both simultaneously; he found and proved in the busy
shadows and sculptured gables of the Continental street sources of
picturesque delight as rich and as interesting as those which had been
sought amidst the darkness of thickets and the eminence of rocks; and he
contrasted with the familiar circumstances of urban life, the majesty
and the aërial elevation of the most noble architecture, expressing its
details in more splendid accumulation, and with a more patient love than
ever had been reached or manifested before his time by any artist who
introduced such subjects as members of a general composition. He thus
became the interpreter of a great period of the world's history, of that
in which age and neglect had cast the interest of ruin over the noblest
ecclesiastical structures of Europe, and in which there had been born at
their feet a generation other in its feelings and thoughts than that to
which they owed their existence, a generation which understood not their
meaning, and regarded not their beauty, and which yet had a character of
its own, full of vigor, animation, and originality, which rendered the
grotesque association of the circumstances of its ordinary and active
life with the solemn memorialism of the elder building, one which rather
pleased by the strangeness than pained by the violence of its contrast.

148. That generation is passing away, and another dynasty is putting
forth its character and its laws. Care and observance, more mischievous
in their misdirection than indifference or scorn, have in many places
given the mediæval relics the aspect and associations of a kind of
cabinet preservation, instead of that air of majestic independence, or
patient and stern endurance, with which they frowned down the insult of
the regardless crowd. Nominal restoration has done tenfold worse, and
has hopelessly destroyed what time, and storm, and anarchy, and impiety
had spared. The picturesque material of a lower kind is fast
departing--and forever. There is not, so far as we know, one city scene
in central Europe which has not suffered from some jarring point of
modernization. The railroad and the iron wheel have done their work, and
the characters of Venice, Florence, and Rouen are yielding day by day
to a lifeless extension of those of Paris and Birmingham. A few lusters
more, and the modernization will be complete: the archæologist may still
find work among the wrecks of beauty, and here and there a solitary
fragment of the old cities may exist by toleration, or rise strangely
before the workmen who dig the new foundations, left like some isolated
and tottering rock in the midst of sweeping sea. But the life of the
middle ages is dying from their embers, and the warm mingling of the
past and present will soon be forever dissolved. The works of Prout, and
of those who have followed in his footsteps, will become memorials the
most precious of the things that have been; to their technical value,
however great, will be added the far higher interest of faithful and
fond records of a strange and unreturning era of history. May he long be
spared to us, and enabled to continue the noble series, conscious of a
purpose and function worthy of being followed with all the zeal of even
his most ardent and affectionate mind. A time will come when that zeal
will be understood, and his works will be cherished with a melancholy
gratitude when the pillars of Venice shall lie moldering in the salt
shallows of her sea, and the stones of the goodly towers of Rouen have
become ballast for the barges of the Seine.


149. Long ago discarded from our National Gallery, with the contempt
logically due to national or English pictures,--lost to sight and memory
for many a year in the Ogygian seclusions of Marlborough House--there
have reappeared at last, in more honorable exile at Kensington, two
great pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds. Two, with others; but these alone
worth many an entanglement among the cross-roads of the West, to see for
half an hour by spring sunshine:--the _Holy Family_, and the _Graces_,
side by side now in the principal room. Great, as ever was work wrought
by man. In placid strength, and subtlest science, unsurpassed;--in sweet
felicity, incomparable.

150. If you truly want to know what good work of painter's hand is,
study those two pictures from side to side, and miss no inch of them
(you will hardly, eventually, be inclined to miss one): in some respects
there is no execution like it; none so open in the magic. For the work
of other great men is hidden in its wonderfulness--you cannot see how it
was done. But in Sir Joshua's there is no mystery: it is all amazement.
No question but that the touch was so laid; only that it _could_ have
been so laid, is a marvel forever. So also there is no painting so
majestic in sweetness. He is lily-sceptered: his power blossoms, but
burdens not. All other men of equal dignity paint more slowly; all
others of equal force paint less lightly. Tintoret lays his line like a
king marking the boundaries of conquered lands; but Sir Joshua leaves it
as a summer wind its trace on a lake; he could have painted on a silken
veil, where it fell free, and not bent it.

151. Such at least is his touch when it is life that he paints: for
things lifeless he has a severer hand. If you examine that picture of
the _Graces_ you will find it reverses all the ordinary ideas of
expedient treatment. By other men flesh is firmly painted, but
accessories lightly. Sir Joshua paints accessories firmly,[23] flesh
lightly;--nay, flesh not at all, but spirit. The wreath of flowers he
feels to be material; and gleam by gleam strikes fearlessly the silver
and violet leaves out of the darkness. But the three maidens are less
substantial than rose petals. No flushed nor frosted tissue that ever
faded in night wind is so tender as they; no hue may reach, no line
measure, what is in them so gracious and so fair. Let the hand move
softly--itself as a spirit; for this is Life, of which it touches the

152. "And yet----" Yes: you do well to pause. There is a "yet" to be
thought of. I did not bring you to these pictures to see wonderful work
merely, or womanly beauty merely. I brought you chiefly to look at that
Madonna, believing that you might remember other Madonnas, unlike her;
and might think it desirable to consider wherein the difference
lay:--other Madonnas not by Sir Joshua, who painted Madonnas but seldom.
Who perhaps, if truth must be told, painted them never: for surely this
dearest pet of an English girl, with the little curl of lovely hair
under her ear, is _not_ one.

153. Why did not Sir Joshua--or could not--or would not Sir
Joshua--paint Madonnas? neither he, nor his great rival-friend
Gainsborough? Both of them painters of women, such as since Giorgione
and Correggio had not been; both painters of men, such as had not been
since Titian. How is it that these English friends can so brightly paint
that particular order of humanity which we call "gentlemen and ladies,"
but neither heroes, nor saints, nor angels? Can it be because they were
both country-bred boys, and for ever after strangely sensitive to
courtliness? Why, Giotto also was a country-bred boy. Allegri's native
Correggio, Titian's Cadore, were but hill villages; yet these men
painted, not the court, nor the drawing-room, but the Earth: and not a
little of Heaven besides: while our good Sir Joshua never trusts himself
outside the park palings. He could not even have drawn the strawberry
girl, unless she had got through a gap in them--or rather, I think, she
must have been let in at the porter's lodge, for her strawberries are in
a pottle, ready for the ladies at the Hall. Giorgione would have set
them, wild and fragrant, among their leaves, in her hand. Between his
fairness, and Sir Joshua's May-fairness, there is a strange, impassable
limit--as of the white reef that in Pacific isles encircles their inner
lakelets, and shuts them from the surf and sound of sea. Clear and calm
they rest, reflecting fringed shadows of the palm-trees, and the passing
of fretted clouds across their own sweet circle of blue sky. But beyond,
and round and round their coral bar, lies the blue of sea and heaven
together--blue of eternal deep.

154. You will find it a pregnant question, if you follow it forth, and
leading to many others, not trivial, Why it is, that in Sir Joshua's
girl, or Gainsborough's, we always think first of the Ladyhood; but in
Giotto's, of the Womanhood? Why, in Sir Joshua's hero, or Vandyck's, it
is always the Prince or the Sir whom we see first; but in Titian's, the

Not that Titian's gentlemen are less finished than Sir Joshua's; but
their gentlemanliness[24] is not the principal thing about them; their
manhood absorbs, conquers, wears it as a despised thing. Nor--and this
is another stern ground of separation--will Titian make a gentleman of
everyone he paints. He will make him so if he is so, not otherwise; and
this not merely in general servitude to truth, but because in his
sympathy with deeper humanity, the courtier is not more interesting to
him than anyone else. "You have learned to dance and fence; you can
speak with clearness, and think with precision; your hands are small,
your senses acute, and your features well-shaped. Yes: I see all this in
you, and will do it justice. You shall stand as none but a well-bred man
could stand; and your fingers shall fall on the sword-hilt as no fingers
could but those that knew the grasp of it. But for the rest, this grisly
fisherman, with rusty cheek and rope-frayed hand, is a man as well as
you, and might possibly make several of you, if souls were divisible.
His bronze color is quite as interesting to me, Titian, as your
paleness, and his hoary spray of stormy hair takes the light as well as
your waving curls. Him also I will paint, with such picturesqueness as
he may have; yet not putting the picturesqueness first in him, as in you
I have not put the gentlemanliness first. In him I see a strong human
creature, contending with all hardship: in you also a human creature,
uncontending, and possibly not strong. Contention or strength, weakness
or picturesqueness, and all other such accidents in either, shall have
due place. But the immortality and miracle of you--this clay that burns,
this color that changes--are in truth the awful things in both: these
shall be first painted--and last."

155. With which question respecting treatment of character we have to
connect also this further one: How is it that the attempts of so great
painters as Reynolds and Gainsborough are, beyond portraiture, limited
almost like children's? No domestic drama--no history--no noble natural
scenes, far less any religious subject:--only market carts; girls with
pigs; woodmen going home to supper; watering-places; gray cart-horses in
fields, and such like. Reynolds, indeed, once or twice touched higher
themes,--"among the chords his fingers laid," and recoiled: wisely; for,
strange to say, his very sensibility deserts him when he leaves his
courtly quiet. The horror of the subjects he chose (Cardinal Beaufort
and Ugolino) showed inherent apathy: had he felt deeply, he would not
have sought for this strongest possible excitement of feeling,--would
not willingly have dwelt on the worst conditions of despair--the despair
of the ignoble. His religious subjects are conceived even with less care
than these. Beautiful as it is, this Holy Family by which we stand has
neither dignity nor sacredness, other than those which attach to every
group of gentle mother and ruddy babe; while his Faiths, Charities, or
other well-ordered and emblem-fitted virtues are even less lovely than
his ordinary portraits of women.

It was a faultful temper, which, having so mighty a power of realization
at command, never became so much interested in any fact of human history
as to spend one touch of heartfelt skill upon it;--which, yielding
momentarily to indolent imagination, ended, at best, in a Puck, or a
Thais; a Mercury as Thief, or a Cupid as Linkboy. How wide the interval
between this gently trivial humor, guided by the wave of a feather, or
arrested by the enchantment of a smile,--and the habitual dwelling of
the thoughts of the great Greeks and Florentines among the beings and
the interests of the eternal world!

156. In some degree it may indeed be true that the modesty and sense of
the English painters are the causes of their simple practice. All that
they did, they did well, and attempted nothing over which conquest was
doubtful. They knew they could paint men and women: it did not follow
that they could paint angels. Their own gifts never appeared to them so
great as to call for serious question as to the use to be made of them.
"They could mix colors and catch likeness--yes; but were they therefore
able to teach religion, or reform the world? To support themselves
honorably, pass the hours of life happily, please their friends, and
leave no enemies, was not this all that duty could require, or prudence
recommend? Their own art was, it seemed, difficult enough to employ all
their genius: was it reasonable to hope also to be poets or theologians?
Such men had, indeed, existed; but the age of miracles and prophets was
long past; nor, because they could seize the trick of an expression, or
the turn of a head, had they any right to think themselves able to
conceive heroes with Homer, or gods with Michael Angelo."

157. Such was, in the main, their feeling: wise, modest, unenvious, and
unambitious. Meaner men, their contemporaries or successors, raved of
high art with incoherent passion; arrogated to themselves an equality
with the masters of elder time, and declaimed against the degenerate
tastes of a public which acknowledged not the return of the Heraclidæ.
But the two great--the two only painters of their age--happy in a
reputation founded as deeply in the heart as in the judgment of mankind,
demanded no higher function than that of soothing the domestic
affections; and achieved for themselves at last an immortality not the
less noble, because in their lifetime they had concerned themselves less
to claim it than to bestow.

158. Yet, while we acknowledge the discretion and simple-heartedness of
these men, honoring them for both: and the more when we compare their
tranquil powers with the hot egotism and hollow ambition of their
inferiors: we have to remember, on the other hand, that the measure they
thus set to their aims was, if a just, yet a narrow one; that amiable
discretion is not the highest virtue; nor to please the frivolous, the
best success. There is probably some strange weakness in the painter,
and some fatal error in the age, when in thinking over the examples of
their greatest work, for some type of culminating loveliness or
veracity, we remember no expression either of religion or heroism, and
instead of reverently naming a Madonna di San Sisto, can only whisper,
modestly, "Mrs. Pelham feeding chickens."

159. The nature of the fault, so far as it exists in the painters
themselves, may perhaps best be discerned by comparing them with a man
who went not far beyond them in his general range of effort, but who did
all his work in a wholly different temper--Hans Holbein.

The first great difference between them is of course in completeness of
execution. Sir Joshua's and Gainsborough's work, at its best, is only
magnificent sketching; giving indeed, in places, a perfection of result
unattainable by other methods, and possessing always a charm of grace
and power exclusively its own; yet, in its slightness addressing itself,
purposefully, to the casual glance, and common thought--eager to arrest
the passer-by, but careless to detain him; or detaining him, if at all,
by an unexplained enchantment, not by continuance of teaching, or
development of idea. But the work of Holbein is true and thorough;
accomplished, in the highest as the most literal sense, with a calm
entireness of unaffected resolution, which sacrifices nothing, forgets
nothing, and fears nothing.

160. In the portrait of the Hausmann George Gyzen,[25] every accessory
is perfect with a fine perfection: the carnations in the glass vase by
his side--the ball of gold, chased with blue enamel, suspended on the
wall--the books--the steelyard--the papers on the table, the seal-ring,
with its quartered bearings,--all intensely there, and there in beauty
of which no one could have dreamed that even flowers or gold were
capable, far less parchment or steel. But every change of shade is felt,
every rich and rubied line of petal followed; every subdued gleam in the
soft blue of the enamel and bending of the gold touched with a hand
whose patience of regard creates rather than paints. The jewel itself
was not so precious as the rays of enduring light which form it, and
flash from it, beneath that errorless hand. The man himself, what he
was--not more; but to all conceivable proof of sight--in all aspect of
life or thought--not less. He sits alone in his accustomed room, his
common work laid out before him; he is conscious of no presence, assumes
no dignity, bears no sudden or superficial look of care or interest,
lives only as he lived--but forever.

161. The time occupied in painting this portrait was probably twenty
times greater than Sir Joshua ever spent on a single picture, however
large. The result is, to the general spectator, less attractive. In some
qualities of force and grace it is absolutely inferior. But it is
inexhaustible. Every detail of it wins, retains, rewards the attention
with a continually increasing sense of wonderfulness. It is also wholly
true. So far as it reaches, it contains the absolute facts of color,
form, and character, rendered with an unaccusable faithfulness. There is
no question respecting things which it is best worth while to know, or
things which it is unnecessary to state, or which might be overlooked
with advantage. What of this man and his house were visible to Holbein,
are visible to us: we may despise if we will; deny or doubt, we shall
not; if we care to know anything concerning them, great or small, so
much as may by the eye be known is forever knowable, reliable,

162. Respecting the advantage, or the contrary, of so great earnestness
in drawing a portrait of an uncelebrated person, we raise at present no
debate: I only wish the reader to note this quality of earnestness, as
entirely separating Holbein from Sir Joshua,--raising him into another
sphere of intellect. For here is no question of mere difference in style
or in power, none of minuteness or largeness. It is a question of
Entireness. Holbein is _complete_ in intellect: what he sees, he sees
with his whole soul: what he paints, he paints with his whole might. Sir
Joshua sees partially, slightly, tenderly--catches the flying lights of
things, the momentary glooms: paints also partially, tenderly, never
with half his strength; content with uncertain visions, insecure
delights; the truth not precious nor significant to him, only pleasing;
falsehood also pleasurable, even useful on occasion--must, however, be
discreetly touched, just enough to make all men noble, all women lovely:
"we do not need this flattery often, most of those we know being such;
and it is a pleasant world, and with diligence--for nothing can be done
without diligence--every day till four" (says Sir Joshua)--"a painter's
is a happy life."

Yes: and the Isis; with her swans, and shadows of Windsor Forest, is a
sweet stream, touching her shores softly. The Rhine at Basle is of
another temper, stern and deep, as strong, however bright its face:
winding far through the solemn plain, beneath the slopes of Jura, tufted
and steep: sweeping away into its regardless calm of current the waves
of that little brook of St. Jakob, that bathe the Swiss Thermopylæ;[26]
the low village nestling beneath a little bank of sloping fields--its
spire seen white against the deep blue shadows of the Jura pines.

163. Gazing on that scene day by day, Holbein went his own way, with the
earnestness and silent swell of the strong river--not unconscious of the
awe, nor of the sanctities of his life. The snows of the eternal Alps
giving forth their strength to it; the blood of the St. Jakob brook
poured into it as it passes by--not in vain. He also could feel his
strength coming from white snows far off in heaven. He also bore upon
him the purple stain of the earth sorrow. A grave man, knowing what
steps of men keep truest time to the chanting of Death. Having grave
friends also;--the same singing heard far off, it seems to me, or,
perhaps, even low in the room, by that family of Sir Thomas More; or
mingling with the hum of bees in the meadows outside the towered wall of
Basle; or making the words of the book more tunable, which meditative
Erasmus looks upon. Nay, that same soft Death-music is on the lips even
of Holbein's Madonna. Who, among many, is the Virgin you had best
compare with the one before whose image we have stood so long.

Holbein's is at Dresden, companioned by the Madonna di San Sisto; but
both are visible enough to you here, for, by a strange coincidence, they
are (at least so far as I know) the only two great pictures in the world
which have been faultlessly engraved.

164. The received tradition respecting the Holbein Madonna is beautiful;
and I believe the interpretation to be true. A father and mother have
prayed to her for the life of their sick child. She appears to them, her
own Christ in her arms. She puts down her Christ beside them--takes
their child into her arms instead. It lies down upon her bosom, and
stretches its hand to its father and mother, saying farewell.

This interpretation of the picture has been doubted, as nearly all the
most precious truths of pictures have been doubted, and forgotten. But
even supposing it erroneous, the design is not less characteristic of
Holbein. For that there are signs of suffering on the features of the
child in the arms of the Virgin, is beyond question; and if this child
be intended for the Christ, it would not be doubtful to my mind, that,
of the two--Raphael and Holbein--the latter had given the truest aspect
and deepest reading of the early life of the Redeemer. Raphael sought to
express His power only; but Holbein His labor and sorrow.

165. There are two other pictures which you should remember together
with this (attributed, indeed, but with no semblance of probability, to
the elder Holbein, none of whose work, preserved at Basle, or elsewhere,
approaches in the slightest degree to their power), the St. Barbara and
St. Elizabeth.[27] I do not know among the pictures of the great sacred
schools any at once so powerful, so simple, so pathetically expressive
of the need of the heart that conceived them. Not ascetic, nor quaint,
nor feverishly or fondly passionate, nor wrapt in withdrawn solemnities
of thought. Only entirely true--entirely pure. No depth of glowing
heaven beyond them--but the clear sharp sweetness of the northern air:
no splendor of rich color, striving to adorn them with better brightness
than of the day: a gray glory, as of moonlight without mist, dwelling on
face and fold of dress;--all faultless-fair. Creatures they are, humble
by nature, not by self-condemnation; merciful by habit, not by tearful
impulse; lofty without consciousness; gentle without weakness; wholly in
this present world, doing its work calmly; beautiful with all that
holiest life can reach--yet already freed from all that holiest death
can cast away.


[13] A review of the following-books:--

1. "Materials for a History of Oil-Painting." By Charles Lock Eastlake,
R.A., F.R.S., F.S.A., Secretary to the Royal Commission for promoting
the Fine Arts in Connection with the Rebuilding of the Houses of
Parliament, etc., etc. London, 1847.

2. "Theophili, qui et Rugerus, Presbyteri et Monachi, Libri III. de
Diversis Artibus; seu Diversarum Artium Schedula. (An Essay upon Various
Arts, in Three Books, by Theophilus, called also Rugerus, Priest and
Monk, forming an Encyclopædia of Christian Art of the Eleventh Century."
Translated, with Notes, by Robert Hendrie.) London, 1847.

[14] "A Critical Essay on Oil-Painting," London, 1781.

[15] "The mediæval painters were so accustomed to this appearance in
varnishes, and considered it so indispensable, that they even supplied
the tint when it did not exist. Thus Cardanus observes that when white
of eggs was used as a varnish, it was customary to tinge it with red
lead."--_Eastlake_, p. 270.

[16] "Si je dis tant de mal de la peinture flamande, ce n'est pas
qu'elle soit entièrement mauvaise, mais elle veut _rendre avec
perfection_ tant de choses, dont une seule suffirait par son importance,
qu'elle n'en fait aucune d'une manière satisfaisante." This opinion of
M. Angelo's is preserved by Francisco de Ollanda, quoted by Comte
Raczynski, "Les Arts en Portugal," Paris, 1846.

[17] "Arte de Pintura." Sevilla, 1649.

[18] The preparations of Hemling, at Bruges, we imagine to have been in
water-color, and perhaps the picture was carried to some degree of
completion in this material. Van Mander observes that Van Eyck's dead
colorings "were cleaner and sharper than the finished works of other

[19] [See _Stones of Venice_, vol. iii. Venetian Index, _s._ Rocco,
Scuola di San, § 20, _Temptation_.--ED. 1899.]

[20] _Art Journal_, March 1849.--ED.

[21] We do not mean under this term to include the drawings of professed
oil-painters, as of Stothard or Turner.

[22] _Cornhill Magazine_, March, 1860.--ED.

[23] As showing gigantic power of hand, joined with utmost accuracy and
rapidity, the folds of drapery under the breast of the Virgin are,
perhaps, as marvelous a piece of work as could be found in any picture,
of whatever time or master.

[24] The reader must observe that I use the word here in a limited
sense, as meaning only the effect of careful education, good society,
and refined habits of life, on average temper and character. Of deep and
true gentlemanliness--based as it is on intense sensibility and
sincerity, perfected by courage, and other qualities of race; as well as
of that union of insensibility with cunning, which is the essence of
vulgarity, I shall have to speak at length in another place.

[25] Museum of Berlin.

[26] Of 1,200 Swiss, who fought by that brookside, ten only returned.
The battle checked the attack of the French, led by Louis XI. (then
Dauphin) in 1444; and was the first of the great series of efforts and
victories which were closed at Nancy by the death of Charles of

[27] Pinacothek of Munich.

       *       *       *       *       *





(_Pamphlet_, 1851.)


(_Nineteenth Century, Nov.-Dec. 1878._)

       *       *       *       *       *


_Eight years ago, in the close of the first volume of "Modern Painters,"
I ventured to give the following advice to the young artists of

_"They should go to nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her
laboriously and trustingly, having no other thought but how best to
penetrate her meaning; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and
scorning nothing." Advice which, whether bad or good, involved infinite
labor and humiliation in the following it, and was therefore, for the
most part, rejected._

_It has, however, at last been carried out, to the very letter, by a
group of men who, for their reward, have been assailed with the most
scurrilous abuse which I ever recollect seeing issue from the public
press. I have, therefore, thought it due to them to contradict the
directly false statements which have been made respecting their works;
and to point out the kind of merit which, however deficient in some
respects, those works possess beyond the possibility of dispute._

_Denmark Hill, August, 1851._

       *       *       *       *       *


166. It may be proved, with much certainty, that God intends no man to
live in this world without working: but it seems to me no less evident
that He intends every man to be happy in his work. It is written, "in
the sweat of thy brow," but it was never written, "in the breaking of
thine heart," thou shalt eat bread: and I find that, as on the one hand,
infinite misery is caused by idle people, who both fail in doing what
was appointed for them to do, and set in motion various springs of
mischief in matters in which they should have had no concern, so on the
other hand, no small misery is caused by overworked and unhappy people,
in the dark views which they necessarily take up themselves, and force
upon others, of work itself. Were it not so, I believe the fact of their
being unhappy is in itself a violation of divine law, and a sign of some
kind of folly or sin in their way of life. Now in order that people may
be happy in their work, these three things are needed: They must be fit
for it: They must not do too much of it: and they must have a sense of
success in it--not a doubtful sense, such as needs some testimony of
other people for its confirmation, but a sure sense, or rather
knowledge, that so much work has been done well, and fruitfully done,
whatever the world may say or think about it. So that in order that a
man may be happy, it is necessary that he should not only be capable of
his work, but a good judge of his work.

167. The first thing then that he has to do, if unhappily his parents or
masters have not done it for him, is to find out what he is fit for. In
which inquiry a man may be safely guided by his likings, if he be not
also guided by his pride. People usually reason in some such fashion as
this: "I don't seem quite fit for a head-manager in the firm of ---- &
Co., therefore, in all probability, I am fit to be Chancellor of the
Exchequer." Whereas, they ought rather to reason thus: "I don't seem
quite fit to be head-manager in the firm of ---- & Co., but I dare say I
might do something in a small green-grocery business; I used to be a
good judge of pease;" that is to say, always trying lower instead of
trying higher, until they find bottom: once well set on the ground, a
man may build up by degrees, safely, instead of disturbing everyone in
his neighborhood by perpetual catastrophes. But this kind of humility is
rendered especially difficult in these days, by the contumely thrown on
men in humble employments. The very removal of the massy bars which once
separated one class of society from another, has rendered it tenfold
more shameful in foolish people's, _i.e._, in most people's eyes, to
remain in the lower grades of it, than ever it was before. When a man
born of an artisan was looked upon as an entirely different species of
animal from a man born of a noble, it made him no more uncomfortable or
ashamed to remain that different species of animal, than it makes a
horse ashamed to remain a horse, and not to become a giraffe. But now
that a man may make money, and rise in the world, and associate himself,
unreproached, with people once far above him, not only is the natural
discontentedness of humanity developed to an unheard-of extent, whatever
a man's position, but it becomes a veritable shame to him to remain in
the state he was born in, and everybody thinks it his _duty_ to try to
be a "gentleman." Persons who have any influence in the management of
public institutions for charitable education know how common this
feeling has become. Hardly a day passes but they receive letters from
mothers who want all their six or eight sons to go to college, and make
the grand tour in the long vacation, and who think there is something
wrong in the foundations of society because this is not possible. Out of
every ten letters of this kind, nine will allege, as the reason of the
writers' importunity, their desire to keep their families in such and
such a "station of life."[29] There is no real desire for the safety,
the discipline, or the moral good of the children, only a panic horror
of the inexpressibly pitiable calamity of their living a ledge or two
lower on the molehill of the world--a calamity to be averted at any cost
whatever, of struggle, anxiety, and shortening of life itself. I do not
believe that any greater good could be achieved for the country, than
the change in public feeling on this head, which might be brought about
by a few benevolent men, undeniably in the class of "gentlemen," who
would, on principle, enter into some of our commonest trades, and make
them honorable; showing that it was possible for a man to retain his
dignity, and remain, in the best sense, a gentleman, though part of his
time was every day occupied in manual labor, or even in serving
customers over a counter. I do not in the least see why courtesy, and
gravity, and sympathy with the feelings of others, and courage, and
truth, and piety, and what else goes to make up a gentleman's character,
should not be found behind a counter as well as elsewhere, if they were
demanded, or even hoped for, there.

168. Let us suppose, then, that the man's way of life, and manner of
work have been discreetly chosen; then the next thing to be required is,
that he do not overwork himself therein. I am not going to say anything
here about the various errors in our systems of society and commerce,
which appear (I am not sure if they ever do more than appear) to force
us to overwork ourselves merely that we may live; nor about the still
more fruitful cause of unhealthy toil--the incapability, in many men, of
being content with the little that is indeed necessary to their
happiness. I have only a word or two to say about one special cause of
overwork--the ambitious desire of doing great or clever things, and the
hope of accomplishing them by immense efforts: hope as vain as it is
pernicious; not only making men overwork themselves, but rendering all
the work they do unwholesome to them. I say it is a vain hope, and let
the reader be assured of this (it is a truth all-important to the best
interests of humanity). _No great intellectual thing was ever done by
great effort_; a great thing can only be done by a great man, and he
does it _without_ effort. Nothing is, at present, less understood by us
than this--nothing is more necessary to be understood. Let me try to say
it as clearly, and explain it as fully as I may.

169. I have said no great _intellectual_ thing: for I do not mean the
assertion to extend to things moral. On the contrary, it seems to me
that just because we are intended, as long as we live, to be in a state
of intense moral effort, we are _not_ intended to be in intense physical
or intellectual effort. Our full energies are to be given to the soul's
work--to the great fight with the Dragon--the taking the kingdom of
heaven by force. But the body's work and head's work are to be done
quietly, and comparatively without effort. Neither limbs nor brain are
ever to be strained to their utmost; that is not the way in which the
greatest quantity of work is to be got out of them: they are never to be
worked furiously, but with tranquillity and constancy. We are to follow
the plow from sunrise to sunset, but not to pull in race-boats at the
twilight: we shall get no fruit of that kind of work, only disease of
the heart.

170. How many pangs would be spared to thousands, if this great truth
and law were but once sincerely, humbly understood--that if a great
thing can be done at all, it can be done easily; that, when it is needed
to be done, there is perhaps only one man in the world who can do it;
but _he_ can do it without any trouble--without more trouble, that is,
than it costs small people to do small things; nay, perhaps, with less.
And yet what truth lies more openly on the surface of all human
phenomena? Is not the evidence of Ease on the very front of all the
greatest works in existence? Do they not say plainly to us, not, "there
has been a great _effort_ here," but, "there has been a great _power_
here"? It is not the weariness of mortality, but the strength of
divinity, which we have to recognize in all mighty things; and that is
just what we now _never_ recognize, but think that we are to do great
things, by help of iron bars and perspiration:--alas! we shall do
nothing that way but lose some pounds of our own weight.

171. Yet let me not be misunderstood, nor this great truth be supposed
anywise resolvable into the favorite dogma of young men, that they need
not work if they have genius. The fact is that a man of genius is always
far more ready to work than other people, and gets so much more good
from the work that he does, and is often so little conscious of the
inherent divinity in himself, that he is very apt to ascribe all his
capacity to his work, and to tell those who ask how he came to be what
he is: "If I _am_ anything, which I much doubt, I made myself so merely
by labor." This was Newton's way of talking, and I suppose it would be
the general tone of men whose genius had been devoted to the physical
sciences. Genius in the Arts must commonly be more self-conscious, but
in whatever field, it will always be distinguished by its perpetual,
steady, well-directed, happy, and faithful labor in accumulating and
disciplining its powers, as well as by its gigantic, incommunicable
facility in exercising them. Therefore, literally, it is no man's
business whether he has genius or not: work he must, whatever he is, but
quietly and steadily; and the natural and unforced results of such work
will be always the things that God meant him to do, and will be his
best. No agonies nor heart-rendings will enable him to do any better. If
he be a great man, they will be great things; if a small man, small
things; but always, if thus peacefully done, good and right; always, if
restlessly and ambitiously done, false, hollow, and despicable.

172. Then the third thing needed was, I said, that a man should be a
good judge of his work; and this chiefly that he may not be dependent
upon popular opinion for the manner of doing it, but also that he may
have the just encouragement of the sense of progress, and an honest
consciousness of victory; how else can he become

   "That awful independent on to-morrow,
   Whose yesterdays look backwards with a smile "?

I am persuaded that the real nourishment and help of such a feeling as
this is nearly unknown to half the workmen of the present day. For
whatever appearance of self-complacency there may be in their outward
bearing, it is visible enough, by their feverish jealousy of each other,
how little confidence they have in the sterling value of their several
doings. Conceit may puff a man up, but never prop him up; and there is
too visible distress and hopelessness in men's aspects to admit of the
supposition that they have any stable support of faith in themselves.

173. I have stated these principles generally, because there is no
branch of labor to which they do not apply: but there is one in which
our ignorance or forgetfulness of them has caused an incalculable amount
of suffering; and I would endeavor now to reconsider them with special
reference to it--the branch of the Arts.

In general, the men who are employed in the Arts have freely chosen
their profession, and suppose themselves to have special faculty for it;
yet, as a body, they are not happy men. For which this seems to me the
reason--that they are expected, and themselves expect, to make their
bread _by being clever_--not by steady or quiet work; and are therefore,
for the most part, trying to be clever, and so living in an utterly
false state of mind and action.

174. This is the case, to the same extent, in no other profession or
employment. A lawyer may indeed suspect that, unless he has more wit
than those around him, he is not likely to advance in his profession;
but he will not be always thinking how he is to display his wit. He
will generally understand, early in his career, that wit must be left to
take care of itself, and that it is hard knowledge of law and vigorous
examination and collation of the facts of every case intrusted to him,
which his clients will mainly demand: this it is which he is to be paid
for; and this is healthy and measurable labor, payable by the hour. If
he happen to have keen natural perception and quick wit, these will come
into play in their due time and place, but he will not think of them as
his chief power; and if he have them not, he may still hope that
industry and conscientiousness may enable him to rise in his profession
without them. Again in the case of clergymen: that they are sorely
tempted to display their eloquence or wit, none who know their own
hearts will deny, but then they _know_ this to _be_ a temptation: they
never would suppose that cleverness was all that was to be expected from
them, or would sit down deliberately to write a clever sermon: even the
dullest or vainest of them would throw some veil over their vanity, and
pretend to some profitableness of purpose in what they did. They would
not openly ask of their hearers--Did you think my sermon ingenious, or
my language poetical? They would early understand that they were not
paid for being ingenious, nor called to be so, but to preach truth; that
if they happened to possess wit, eloquence, or originality, these would
appear and be of service in due time, but were not to be continually
sought after or exhibited; and if it should happen that they had them
not, they might still be serviceable pastors without them.

175. Not so with the unhappy artist. No one expects any honest or useful
work of him; but everyone expects him to be ingenious. Originality,
dexterity, invention, imagination, everything is asked of him except
what alone is to be had for asking--honesty and sound work, and the due
discharge of his function as a painter. What function? asks the reader
in some surprise. He may well ask; for I suppose few painters have any
idea what their function is, or even that they have any at all.

176. And yet surely it is not so difficult to discover. The faculties,
which when a man finds in himself, he resolves to be a painter, are, I
suppose, intenseness of observation and facility of imitation. The man
is created an observer and an imitator; and his function is to convey
knowledge to his fellow-men, of such things as cannot be taught
otherwise than ocularly. For a long time this function remained a
religious one: it was to impress upon the popular mind the reality of
the objects of faith, and the truth of the histories of Scripture, by
giving visible form to both. That function has now passed away, and none
has as yet taken its place. The painter has no profession, no purpose.
He is an idler on the earth, chasing the shadows of his own fancies.

177. But he was never meant to be this. The sudden and universal
Naturalism, or inclination to copy ordinary natural objects, which
manifested itself among the painters of Europe, at the moment when the
invention of printing superseded their legendary labors, was no false
instinct. It was misunderstood and misapplied, but it came at the right
time, and has maintained itself through all kinds of abuse; presenting,
in the recent schools of landscape, perhaps only the first fruits of its
power. That instinct was urging every painter in Europe at the same
moment to his true duty--_the faithful representation of all objects of
historical interest, or of natural beauty existent at the period_;
representation such as might at once aid the advance of the sciences,
and keep faithful record of every monument of past ages which was likely
to be swept away in the approaching eras of revolutionary change.

178. The instinct came, as I said, exactly at the right moment; and let
the reader consider what amount and kind of general knowledge might by
this time have been possessed by the nations of Europe, had their
painters understood and obeyed it. Suppose that, after disciplining
themselves so as to be able to draw, with unerring precision, each the
particular kind of subject in which he most delighted, they had
separated into two great armies of historians and naturalists;--that
the first had painted with absolute faithfulness every edifice, every
city, every battlefield, every scene of the slightest historical
interest, precisely and completely rendering their aspect at the time;
and that their companions, according to their several powers, had
painted with like fidelity the plants and animals, the natural scenery,
and the atmospheric phenomena of every country on the earth--suppose
that a faithful and complete record were now in our museums of every
building destroyed by war, or time, or innovation, during these last 200
years--suppose that each recess of every mountain chain of Europe had
been penetrated, and its rocks drawn with such accuracy that the
geologist's diagram was no longer necessary--suppose that every tree of
the forest had been drawn in its noblest aspect, every beast of the
field in its savage life--that all these gatherings were already in our
national galleries, and that the painters of the present day were
laboring, happily and earnestly, to multiply them, and put such means of
knowledge more and more within reach of the common people--would not
that be a more honorable life for them, than gaining precarious bread by
"bright effects"? They think not, perhaps. They think it easy, and
therefore contemptible, to be truthful; they have been taught so all
their lives. But it is not so, whoever taught it them. It is most
difficult, and worthy of the greatest men's greatest effort, to render,
as it should be rendered, the simplest of the natural features of the
earth; but also be it remembered, no man is confined to the simplest;
each may look out work for himself where he chooses, and it will be
strange if he cannot find something hard enough for him. The excuse is,
however, one of the lips only; for every painter knows, that when he
draws back from the attempt to render nature as she is, it is oftener in
cowardice than in disdain.

179. I must leave the reader to pursue this subject for himself; I have
not space to suggest to him the tenth part of the advantages which would
follow, both to the painter from such an understanding of his mission,
and to the whole people, in the results of his labor. Consider how the
man himself would be elevated; how content he would become, how earnest,
how full of all accurate and noble knowledge, how free from
envy--knowing creation to be infinite, feeling at once the value of what
he did, and yet the nothingness. Consider the advantage to the people:
the immeasurably larger interest given to art itself; the easy,
pleasurable, and perfect knowledge conveyed by it, in every subject; the
far greater number of men who might be healthily and profitably occupied
with it as a means of livelihood; the useful direction of myriads of
inferior talents now left fading away in misery. Conceive all this, and
then look around at our exhibitions, and behold the "cattle pieces," and
"sea pieces," and "fruit pieces," and "family pieces"; the eternal brown
cows in ditches, and white sails in squalls, and sliced lemons in
saucers, and foolish faces in simpers;--and try to feel what we are, and
what we might have been.

180. Take a single instance in one branch of archæology. Let those who
are interested in the history of Religion consider what a treasure we
should now have possessed, if, instead of painting pots, and vegetables,
and drunken peasantry, the most accurate painters of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries had been set to copy, line for line, the religious
and domestic sculpture on the German, Flemish, and French cathedrals and
castles; and if every building destroyed in the French or in any other
subsequent revolution, had thus been drawn in all its parts with the
same precision with which Gerard Dow or Mieris paint bas-reliefs of
Cupids. Consider, even now, what incalculable treasure is still left in
ancient bas-reliefs, full of every kind of legendary interest, of subtle
expression, of priceless evidence as to the character, feelings, habits,
histories, of past generations, in neglected and shattered churches and
domestic buildings, rapidly disappearing over the whole of
Europe--treasure which, once lost, the labor of all men living cannot
bring back again; and then look at the myriads of men, with skill
enough, if they had but the commonest schooling, to record all this
faithfully, who are making their bread by drawing dances of naked women
from academy models, or idealities of chivalry fitted out with Wardour
Street armor, or eternal scenes from Gil Blas, Don Quixote, and the
Vicar of Wakefield, or mountain sceneries with young idiots of Londoners
wearing Highland bonnets and brandishing rifles in the foregrounds. Do
but think of these things in the breadth of their inexpressible
imbecility, and then go and stand before that broken bas-relief in the
southern gate of Lincoln Cathedral, and see if there is no fiber of the
heart in you that will break too.

181. But is there to be no place left, it will be indignantly asked, for
imagination and invention, for poetical power, or love of ideal beauty?
Yes, the highest, the noblest place--that which these only can attain
when they are all used in the cause, and with the aid of truth. Wherever
imagination and sentiment are, they will either show themselves without
forcing, or, if capable of artificial development, the kind of training
which such a school of art would give them would be the best they could
receive. The infinite absurdity and failure of our present training
consists mainly in this, that we do not rank imagination and invention
high enough, and suppose that they _can_ be taught. Throughout every
sentence that I ever have written, the reader will find the same rank
attributed to these powers--the rank of a purely divine gift, not to be
attained, increased, or in anywise modified by teaching, only in various
ways capable of being concealed or quenched. Understand this thoroughly;
know once for all, that a poet on canvas is exactly the same species of
creature as a poet in song, and nearly every error in our methods of
teaching will be done away with. For who among us now thinks of bringing
men up to be poets?--of producing poets by any kind of general recipe or
method of cultivation? Suppose even that we see in a youth that which we
hope may, in its development, become a power of this kind, should we
instantly, supposing that we wanted to make a poet of him, and nothing
else, forbid him all quiet, steady, rational labor? Should we force him
to perpetual spinning of new crudities out of his boyish brain, and set
before him, as the only objects of his study, the laws of versification
which criticism has supposed itself to discover in the works of previous
writers? Whatever gifts the boy had, would much be likely to come of
them so treated? unless, indeed, they were so great as to break through
all such snares of falsehood and vanity, and build their own foundation
in spite of us; whereas if, as in cases numbering millions against
units, the natural gifts were too weak to do this, could anything come
of such training but utter inanity and spuriousness of the whole man?
But if we had sense, should we not rather restrain and bridle the first
flame of invention in early youth, heaping material on it as one would
on the first sparks and tongues of a fire which we desired to feed into
greatness? Should we not educate the whole intellect into general
strength, and all the affections into warmth and honesty, and look to
heaven for the rest? This, I say, we should have sense enough to do, in
order to produce a poet in words: but, it being required to produce a
poet on canvas, what is our way of setting to work? We begin, in all
probability, by telling the youth of fifteen or sixteen, that Nature is
full of faults, and that he is to improve her; but that Raphael is
perfection, and that the more he copies Raphael the better; that after
much copying of Raphael, he is to try what he can do himself in a
Raphaelesque, but yet original manner: that is to say, he is to try to
do something very clever, all out of his own head, but yet this clever
something is to be properly subjected to Raphaelesque rules, is to have
a principal light occupying one-seventh of its space, and a principal
shadow occupying one-third of the same; that no two people's heads in
the picture are to be turned the same way, and that all the personages
represented are to possess ideal beauty of the highest order, which
ideal beauty consists partly in a Greek outline of nose, partly in
proportions expressible in decimal fractions between the lips and chin;
but mostly in that degree of improvement which the youth of sixteen is
to bestow upon God's work in general. This I say is the kind of teaching
which through various channels, Royal Academy lecturings, press
criticisms, public enthusiasm, and not least by solid weight of gold, we
give to our young men. And we wonder we have no painters!

182. But we do worse than this. Within the last few years some sense of
the real tendency of such teaching has appeared in some of our younger
painters. It only _could_ appear in the younger ones, our older men
having become familiarized with the false system, or else having
passed through it and forgotten it, not well knowing the degree
of harm they had sustained. This sense appeared, among our
youths,--increased,--matured into resolute action. Necessarily, to exist
at all, it needed the support both of strong instincts and of
considerable self-confidence, otherwise it must at once have been borne
down by the weight of general authority and received canon law. Strong
instincts are apt to make men strange and rude; self-confidence, however
well founded, to give much of what they do or say the appearance of
impertinence. Look at the self-confidence of Wordsworth, stiffening
every other sentence of his prefaces into defiance; there is no more of
it than was needed to enable him to do his work, yet it is not a little
ungraceful here and there. Suppose this stubbornness and self-trust in a
youth, laboring in an art of which the executive part is confessedly to
be best learnt from masters, and we shall hardly wonder that much of his
work has a certain awkwardness and stiffness in it, or that he should be
regarded with disfavor by many, even the most temperate, of the judges
trained in the system he was breaking through, and with utter contempt
and reprobation by the envious and the dull. Consider, further, that the
particular system to be overthrown was, in the present case, one of
which the main characteristic was the pursuit of beauty at the expense
of manliness and truth; and it will seem likely _à priori_, that the men
intended successfully to resist the influence of such a system should be
endowed with little natural sense of beauty, and thus rendered dead to
the temptation it presented. Summing up these conditions, there is
surely little cause for surprise that pictures painted, in a temper of
resistance, by exceedingly young men, of stubborn instincts and positive
self-trust, and with little natural perception of beauty, should not be
calculated, at the first glance, to win us from works enriched by
plagiarism, polished by convention, invested with all the attractiveness
of artificial grace, and recommended to our respect by established

183. We should, however, on the other hand, have anticipated, that in
proportion to the strength of character required for the effort, and to
the absence of distracting sentiments, whether respect for precedent, or
affection for ideal beauty, would be the energy exhibited in the pursuit
of the special objects which the youths proposed to themselves, and
their success in attaining them.

All this has actually been the case, but in a degree which it would have
been impossible to anticipate. That two youths, of the respective ages
of eighteen and twenty, should have conceived for themselves a totally
independent and sincere method of study, and enthusiastically persevered
in it against every kind of dissuasion and opposition, is strange
enough; that in the third or fourth year of their efforts they should
have produced works in many parts not inferior to the best of Albert
Dürer, this is perhaps not less strange. But the loudness and
universality of the howl which the common critics of the press have
raised against them, the utter absence of all generous help or
encouragement from those who can both measure their toil and appreciate
their success, and the shrill, shallow laughter of those who can do
neither the one nor the other--these are strangest of all--unimaginable
unless they had been experienced.

184. And as if these were not enough, private malice is at work against
them, in its own small, slimy way. The very day after I had written my
second letter to the "Times" in the defense of the Pre-Raphaelites,[30]
I received an anonymous letter respecting one of them, from some person
apparently hardly capable of spelling, and about as vile a specimen of
petty malignity as ever blotted paper. I think it well that the public
should know this, and so get some insight into the sources of the spirit
which is at work against these men: how first roused it is difficult to
say, for one would hardly have thought that mere eccentricity in young
artists could have excited an hostility so determined and so cruel;
hostility which hesitated at no assertion, however impudent. That of the
"absence of perspective" was one of the most curious pieces of the hue
and cry which began with the "Times," and died away in feeble maundering
in the Art Union; I contradicted it in the "Times"--I here contradict it
directly for the second time. There was not a single error in
perspective in three out of the four pictures in question. But if
otherwise, would it have been anything remarkable in them? I doubt if,
with the exception of the pictures of David Roberts, there were one
architectural drawing in perspective on the walls of the Academy; I
never met but with two men in my life who knew enough of perspective to
draw a Gothic arch in a retiring plane, so that its lateral dimensions
and curvatures might be calculated to scale from the drawing. Our
architects certainly do not, and it was but the other day that, talking
to one of the most distinguished among them, the author of several most
valuable works, I found he actually did not know how to draw a circle in
perspective. And in this state of general science our writers for the
press take it upon them to tell us, that the forest-trees in Mr. Hunt's
_Sylvia_, and the bunches of lilies in Mr. Collins's _Convent Thoughts_,
are out of perspective.[31]

185. It might not, I think, in such circumstances, have been ungraceful
or unwise in the Academicians themselves to have defended their young
pupils, at least by the contradiction of statements directly false
respecting them,[32] and the direction of the mind and sight of the
public to such real merit as they possess. If Sir Charles Eastlake,
Mulready, Edwin and Charles Landseer, Cope, and Dyce would each of them
simply state their own private opinion respecting their paintings, sign
it, and publish it, I believe the act would be of more service to
English art than anything the Academy has done since it was founded. But
as I cannot hope for this, I can only ask the public to give their
pictures careful examination, and to look at them at once with the
indulgence and the respect which I have endeavored to show they deserve.

Yet let me not be misunderstood. I have adduced them only as examples of
the kind of study which I would desire to see substituted for that of
our modern schools, and of singular success in certain characters,
finish of detail, and brilliancy of color. What faculties, higher than
imitative, may be in these men, I do not yet venture to say; but I do
say, that if they exist, such faculties will manifest themselves in due
time all the more forcibly because they have received training so

186. For it is always to be remembered that no one mind is like another,
either in its powers or perceptions; and while the main principles of
training must be the same for all, the result in each will be as various
as the kinds of truth which each will apprehend; therefore, also, the
modes of effort, even in men whose inner principles and final aims are
exactly the same. Suppose, for instance, two men, equally honest,
equally industrious, equally impressed with a humble desire to render
some part of what they saw in nature faithfully; and, otherwise, trained
in convictions such as I have above endeavored to induce. But one of
them is quiet in temperament, has a feeble memory, no invention, and
excessively keen sight. The other is impatient in temperament, has a
memory which nothing escapes, an invention which never rests, and is
comparatively near-sighted.

187. Set them both free in the same field in a mountain valley. One sees
everything, small and large, with almost the same clearness; mountains
and grasshoppers alike; the leaves on the branches, the veins in the
pebbles, the bubbles in the stream; but he can remember nothing, and
invent nothing. Patiently he sets himself to his mighty task; abandoning
at once all thoughts of seizing transient effects, or giving general
impressions of that which his eyes present to him in microscopical
dissection, he chooses some small portion out of the infinite scene, and
calculates with courage the number of weeks which must elapse before he
can do justice to the intensity of his perceptions, or the fullness of
matter in his subject.

188. Meantime, the other has been watching the change of the clouds, and
the march of the light along the mountain sides; he beholds the entire
scene in broad, soft masses of true gradation, and the very feebleness
of his sight is in some sort an advantage to him, in making him more
sensible of the aërial mystery of distance, and hiding from him the
multitudes of circumstances which it would have been impossible for him
to represent. But there is not one change in the casting of the jagged
shadows along the hollows of the hills, but it is fixed on his mind
forever; not a flake of spray has broken from the sea of cloud about
their bases, but he has watched it as it melts away, and could recall it
to its lost place in heaven by the slightest effort of his thoughts. Not
only so, but thousands and thousands of such images, of older scenes,
remain congregated in his mind, each mingling in new associations with
those now visibly passing before him, and these again confused with
other images of his own ceaseless, sleepless imagination, flashing by in
sudden troops. Fancy how his paper will be covered with stray symbols
and blots, and undecipherable shorthand:--as for his sitting down to
"draw from Nature," there was not one of the things which he wished to
represent, that stayed for so much as five seconds together: but none of
them escaped for all that: they are sealed up in that strange storehouse
of his; he may take one of them out perhaps, this day twenty years, and
paint it in his dark room, far away. Now, observe, you may tell both of
these men, when they are young, that they are to be honest, that they
have an important function, and that they are not to care what Raphael
did. This you may wholesomely impress on them both. But fancy the
exquisite absurdity of expecting either of them to possess any of the
qualities of the other.

189. I have supposed the feebleness of sight in the last, and of
invention in the first painter, that the contrast between them might be
more striking; but, with very slight modification, both the characters
are real. Grant to the first considerable inventive power, with
exquisite sense of color; and give to the second, in addition to all his
other faculties, the eye of an eagle; and the first is John Everett
Millais, the second Joseph Mallard William Turner.

They are among the few men who have defied all false teaching, and have
therefore, in great measure, done justice to the gifts with which they
were intrusted. They stand at opposite poles, marking culminating points
of art in both directions; between them, or in various relations to
them, we may class five or six more living artists who, in like manner,
have done justice to their powers. I trust that I may be pardoned for
naming them, in order that the reader may know how the strong innate
genius in each has been invariably accompanied with the same humility,
earnestness, and industry in study.

190. It is hardly necessary to point out the earnestness or humility in
the works of William Hunt; but it may be so to suggest the high value
they possess as records of English rural life, and _still_ life. Who is
there who for a moment could contend with him in the unaffected, yet
humorous truth with which he has painted our peasant children? Who is
there who does not sympathize with him in the simple love with which he
dwells on the brightness and bloom of our summer fruit and flowers? And
yet there is something to be regretted concerning him: why should he be
allowed continually to paint the same bunches of hot-house grapes, and
supply to the Water Color Society a succession of pine-apples with the
regularity of a Covent Garden fruiterer? He has of late discovered that
primrose banks are lovely, but there are other things grow wild besides
primroses: what undreamt-of loveliness might he not bring back to us, if
he would lose himself for a summer in Highland foregrounds; if he would
paint the heather as it grows, and the foxglove and the harebell as they
nestle in the clefts of the rocks, and the mosses and bright lichens of
the rocks themselves. And then, cross to the Jura, and bring back a
piece of Jura pasture in spring; with the gentians in their earliest
blue, and a soldanelle beside the fading snow! And return again, and
paint a gray wall of alpine crag, with budding roses crowning it like a
wreath of rubies. That is what he was meant to do in this world; not to
paint bouquets in china vases.

191. I have in various other places expressed my sincere respect for the
works of Samuel Prout: his shortness of sight has necessarily prevented
their possessing delicacy of finish or fullness of minor detail; but I
think that those of no other living artist furnish an example so
striking of innate and special instinct, sent to do a particular work at
the exact and only period when it was possible. At the instant when
peace had been established all over Europe, but when neither national
character nor national architecture had as yet been seriously changed by
promiscuous intercourse or modern "improvement"; when, however, nearly
every ancient and beautiful building had been long left in a state of
comparative neglect, so that its aspect of partial ruinousness, and of
separation from recent active life, gave to every edifice a peculiar
interest--half sorrowful, half sublime;--at that moment Prout was
trained among the rough rocks and simple cottages of Cornwall, until his
eye was accustomed to follow with delight the rents and breaks, and
irregularities which, to another man, would have been offensive; and
then, gifted with infinite readiness in composition, but also with
infinite affection for the kind of subjects he had to portray, he was
sent to preserve, in an almost innumerable series of drawings, _every
one made on the spot_, the aspect borne, at the beginning of the
nineteenth century, by cities which, in a few years more, re-kindled
wars, or unexpected prosperities, were to ravage, or renovate, into

192. It seems strange to pass from Prout to John Lewis; but there is
this fellowship between them, that both seem to have been intended to
appreciate the characters of foreign countries more than of their own,
nay, to have been born in England chiefly that the excitement of
strangeness might enhance to them the interest of the scenes they had to
represent. I believe John Lewis to have done more entire justice to all
his powers (and they are magnificent ones), than any other man amongst
us. His mission was evidently to portray the comparatively animal life
of the southern and eastern families of mankind. For this he was
prepared in a somewhat singular way--by being led to study, and endowed
with altogether peculiar apprehension of, the most sublime characters of
animals themselves. Rubens, Rembrandt, Snyders, Tintoret, and Titian,
have all, in various ways, drawn wild beasts magnificently; but they
have in some sort humanized or demonized them, making them either
ravenous fiends, or educated beasts, that would draw cars, and had
respect for hermits. The sullen isolation of the brutal nature; the
dignity and quietness of the mighty limbs; the shaggy mountainous power,
mingled with grace as of a flowing stream; the stealthy restraint of
strength and wrath in every soundless motion of the gigantic frame; all
this seems never to have been seen, much less drawn, until Lewis drew
and himself engraved a series of animal subjects, now many years ago.
Since then, he has devoted himself to the portraiture of those European
and Asiatic races, among whom the refinements of civilization exist
without its laws or its energies, and in whom the fierceness, indolence,
and subtlety of animal nature are associated with brilliant imagination
and strong affections. To this task he has brought not only intense
perception of the kind of character, but powers of artistical
composition like those of the great Venetians, displaying, at the same
time, a refinement of drawing almost miraculous, and appreciable only,
as the minutiæ of nature itself are appreciable, by the help of the
microscope. The value, therefore, of his works, as records of the aspect
of the scenery and inhabitants of the south of Spain and of the East, in
the earlier part of the nineteenth century, is quite above all estimate.

193. I hardly know how to speak of Mulready: in delicacy and completion
of drawing, and splendor of color, he takes place beside John Lewis and
the Pre-Raphaelites; but he has, throughout his career, displayed no
definiteness in choice of subject. He must be named among the painters
who have studied with industry, and have made themselves great by doing
so; but, having obtained a consummate method of execution, he has thrown
it away on subjects either altogether uninteresting, or above his
powers, or unfit for pictorial representation. "The Cherry Woman,"
exhibited in 1850, may be named as an example of the first kind; the
"Burchell and Sophia" of the second (the character of Sir William
Thornhill being utterly missed); the "Seven Ages" of the third; for this
subject cannot be painted. In the written passage, the thoughts are
progressive and connected; in the picture they must be co-existent, and
yet separate; nor can all the characters of the ages be rendered in
painting at all. One may represent the soldier at the cannon's mouth,
but one cannot paint the "bubble reputation" which he seeks. Mulready,
therefore, while he has always produced exquisite pieces of painting,
has failed in doing anything which can be of true or extensive use. He
has, indeed, understood how to discipline his genius, but never how to
direct it.

194. Edwin Landseer is the last painter but one whom I shall name: I
need not point out to anyone acquainted with his earlier works, the
labor, or watchfulness of nature which they involve, nor need I do more
than allude to the peculiar faculties of his mind. It will at once be
granted that the highest merits of his pictures are throughout found in
those parts of them which are least like what had before been
accomplished; and that it was not by the study of Raphael that he
attained his eminent success, but by a healthy love of Scotch terriers.

None of these painters, however, it will be answered, afford examples of
the rise of the highest imaginative power out of close study of matters
of fact. Be it remembered, however, that the imaginative power, in its
magnificence, is not to be found every day. Lewis has it in no mean
degree, but we cannot hope to find it at its highest more than once in
an age. We _have_ had it once, and must be content.

195. Towards the close of the last century, among the various drawings
executed, according to the quiet manner of the time, in grayish blue,
with brown foregrounds, some began to be noticed as exhibiting rather
more than ordinary diligence and delicacy, signed W. Turner.[34] There
was nothing, however, in them at all indicative of genius, or even of
more than ordinary talent, unless in some of the subjects a large
perception of space, and excessive clearness and decision in the
arrangement of masses. Gradually and cautiously the blues became mingled
with delicate green, and then with gold; the browns in the foreground
became first more positive, and then were slightly mingled with other
local colors; while the touch, which had at first been heavy and broken,
like that of the ordinary drawing masters of the time, grew more and
more refined and expressive, until it lost itself in a method of
execution often too delicate for the eye to follow, rendering, with a
precision before unexampled, both the texture and the form of every
object. The style may be considered as perfectly formed about the year
1800, and it remained unchanged for twenty years.

During that period the painter had attempted, and with more or less
success had rendered, every order of landscape subject, but always on
the same principle, subduing the colors of nature into a harmony of
which the keynotes are grayish green and brown; pure blues, and
delicate golden yellows being admitted in small quantity as the lowest
and highest limits of shade and light: and bright local colors in
extremely small quantity in figures or other minor accessories.

196. Pictures executed on such a system are not, properly speaking,
works in _color_ at all; they are studies of light and shade, in which
both the shade and the distance are rendered in the general hue which
best expresses their attributes of coolness and transparency; and the
lights and the foreground are executed in that which best expresses
their warmth and solidity. This advantage may just as well be taken as
not, in studies of light and shadow to be executed with the hand; but
the use of two, three, or four colors, always in the same relations and
places, does not in the least constitute the work a study of color, any
more than the brown engravings of the Liber Studiorum; nor would the
idea of color be in general more present to the artist's mind when he
was at work on one of these drawings, than when he was using pure brown
in the mezzotint engraving. But the idea of space, warmth, and freshness
being not successfully expressible in a single tint, and perfectly
expressible by the admission of three or four, he allows himself this
advantage when it is possible, without in the least embarrassing himself
with the actual color of the objects to be represented. A stone in the
foreground might in nature have been cold gray, but it will be drawn
nevertheless of a rich brown, because it is in the foreground; a hill in
the distance might in nature be purple with heath, or golden with furze;
but it will be drawn, nevertheless, of a cool gray, because it is in the

197. This at least was the general theory,--carried out with great
severity in many, both of the drawings and pictures executed by him
during the period: in others more or less modified by the cautious
introduction of color, as the painter felt his liberty increasing; for
the system was evidently never considered as final, or as anything more
than a means of progress: the conventional, easily manageable color,
was visibly adopted, only that his mind might be at perfect liberty to
address itself to the acquirement of the first and most necessary
knowledge in all art--that of form. But as form, in landscape, implies
vast bulk and space, the use of the tints which enabled him best to
express them, was actually auxiliary to the mere drawing; and,
therefore, not only permissible, but even necessary, while more
brilliant or varied tints were never indulged in, except when they might
be introduced without the slightest danger of diverting his mind for an
instant from his principal object. And, therefore, it will be generally
found in the works of this period, that exactly in proportion to the
importance and general toil of the composition, is the severity of the
tint; and that the play of color begins to show itself first in slight
and small drawings, where he felt that he could easily secure all that
he wanted in form.

198. Thus the "Crossing the Brook," and such other elaborate and large
compositions, are actually painted in nothing but gray, brown, and blue,
with a point or two of severe local color in the figures; but in the
minor drawings, tender passages of complicated color occur not
unfrequently in easy places; and even before the year 1800 he begins to
introduce it with evident joyfulness and longing in his rude and simple
studies, just as a child, if it could be supposed to govern itself by a
fully developed intellect, would cautiously, but with infinite pleasure,
add now and then a tiny dish of fruit or other dangerous luxury to the
simple order of its daily fare. Thus, in the foregrounds of his most
severe drawings, we not unfrequently find him indulging in the luxury of
a peacock; and it is impossible to express the joyfulness with which he
seems to design its graceful form, and deepen with soft penciling the
bloom of its blue, after he has worked through the stern detail of his
almost colorless drawing. A rainbow is another of his most frequently
permitted indulgences; and we find him very early allowing the edges of
his evening clouds to be touched with soft rose-color or gold; while,
whenever the hues of nature in anywise fall into his system, and can be
caught without a dangerous departure from it, he instantly throws his
whole soul into the faithful rendering of them. Thus the usual brown
tones of his foreground become warmed into sudden vigor, and are varied
and enhanced with indescribable delight, when he finds himself by the
shore of a moorland stream, where they truly express the stain of its
golden rocks, and the darkness of its clear, Cairngorm-like pools, and
the usual serenity of his aërial blue is enriched into the softness and
depth of the sapphire, when it can deepen the distant slumber of some
Highland lake, or temper the gloomy shadows of the evening upon its

199. The system of his color being thus simplified, he could address all
the strength of his mind to the accumulation of facts of form; his
choice of subject, and his methods of treatment, are therefore as
various as his color is simple; and it is not a little difficult to give
the reader who is unacquainted with his works, an idea either of their
infinitude of aims, on the one hand, or of the kind of feeling which
pervades them all, on the other. No subject was too low or too high for
him; we find him one day hard at work on a cock and hen, with their
family of chickens in a farm-yard; and bringing all the refinement of
his execution into play to express the texture of the plumage; next day
he is drawing the Dragon of Colchis. One hour he is much interested in a
gust of wind blowing away an old woman's cap; the next, he is painting
the fifth plague of Egypt. Every landscape painter before him had
acquired distinction by confining his efforts to one class of subject.
Hobbima painted oaks; Ruysdael, waterfalls and copses; Cuyp, river or
meadow scenes in quiet afternoons; Salvator and Poussin, such kind of
mountain scenery as people could conceive, who lived in towns in the
seventeenth century. But I am well persuaded that if all the works of
Turner, up to the year 1820, were divided into classes (as he has
himself divided them in the Liber Studiorum), no preponderance could be
assigned to one class over another. There is architecture, including a
large number of formal "gentlemen's seats," I suppose drawings
commissioned by the owners; then lowland pastoral scenery of every kind,
including nearly all farming operations---plowing, harrowing, hedging
and ditching, felling trees, sheep-washing, and I know not what else;
then all kinds of town life--courtyards of inns, starting of mail
coaches, interiors of shops, house-buildings, fairs, elections, etc.;
then all kinds of inner domestic life--interiors of rooms, studies of
costumes, of still life, and heraldry, including multitudes of
symbolical vignettes; then marine scenery of every kind, full of local
incident; every kind of boat and method of fishing for particular fish,
being specifically drawn, round the whole coast of England--pilchard
fishing at St. Ives, whiting fishing at Margate, herring at Loch Fyne;
and all kinds of shipping, including studies of every separate part of
the vessels, and many marine battle pieces, two in particular of
Trafalgar, both of high importance--one of the Victory after the battle,
now in Greenwich Hospital; another of the death of Nelson, in his own
gallery; then all kinds of mountain scenery, some idealized into
compositions, others of definite localities; together with classical
compositions, Romes, and Carthages, and such others, by the myriad, with
mythological, historical, or allegorical figures--nymphs, monsters, and
specters; heroes and divinities.[35]

200. What general feeling, it may be asked incredulously, can possibly
pervade all this? This, the greatest of all feelings--an utter
forgetfulness of self. Throughout the whole period with which we are at
present concerned, Turner appears as a man of sympathy absolutely
infinite--a sympathy so all-embracing, that I know nothing but that of
Shakspeare comparable with it. A soldier's wife resting by the roadside
is not beneath it;[36] Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah, watching the dead
bodies of her sons, not above it. Nothing can possibly be so mean as
that it will not interest his whole mind, and carry away his whole
heart; nothing so great or solemn but that he can raise himself into
harmony with it; and it is impossible to prophesy of him at any moment,
whether, the next, he will be in laughter or in tears.

201. This is the root of the man's greatness; and it follows as a matter
of course that this sympathy must give him a subtle power of expression,
even of the characters of mere material things, such as no other painter
ever possessed. The man who can best feel the difference between
rudeness and tenderness in humanity, perceives also more difference
between the branches of an oak and a willow than anyone else would; and,
therefore, necessarily the most striking character of the drawings
themselves is the speciality of whatever they represent--the thorough
stiffness of what is stiff, and grace of what is graceful, and vastness
of what is vast; but through and beyond all this, the condition of the
mind of the painter himself is easily enough discoverable by comparison
of a large number of the drawings. It is singularly serene and peaceful:
in itself quite passionless, though entering with ease into the external
passion which it contemplates. By the effort of its will it sympathizes
with tumult or distress, even in their extremes, but there is no tumult,
no sorrow in itself, only a chastened and exquisitely peaceful
cheerfulness, deeply meditative; touched, without loss of its own
perfect balance, by sadness on the one side, and stooping to playfulness
upon the other. I shall never cease to regret the destruction, by fire,
now several years ago, of a drawing which always seemed to me to be the
perfect image of the painter's mind at this period,--the drawing of
Brignal Church near Rokeby, of which a feeble idea may still be gathered
from the engraving (in the Yorkshire series). The spectator stands on
the "Brignal banks," looking down into the glen at twilight; the sky is
still full of soft rays, though the sun is gone, and the Greta glances
brightly in the valley, singing its even-song; two white clouds,
following each other, move without wind through the hollows of the
ravine, and others lie couched on the far away moorlands; every leaf of
the woods is still in the delicate air; a boy's kite, incapable of
rising, has become entangled in their branches, he is climbing to
recover it; and just behind it in the picture, almost indicated by it,
the lowly church is seen in its secluded field between the rocks and the
stream; and around, it the low churchyard wall, and a few white stones
which mark the resting places of those who can climb the rocks no more,
nor hear the river sing as it passes.

There are many other existing drawings which indicate the same character
of mind, though I think none so touching or so beautiful: yet they are
not, as I said above, more numerous than those which express his
sympathy with sublimer or more active scenes; but they are almost always
marked by a tenderness of execution, and have a look of being beloved in
every part of them, which shows them to be the truest expression of his
own feelings.

202. One other characteristic of his mind at this period remains to be
noticed--its reverence for talent in others. Not the reverence which
acts upon the practices of men as if they were the laws of nature, but
that which is ready to appreciate the power, and receive the assistance,
of every mind which has been previously employed in the same direction,
so far as its teaching seems to be consistent with the great text-book
of nature itself. Turner thus studied almost every preceding landscape
painter, chiefly Claude, Poussin, Vandevelde, Loutherbourg, and Wilson.
It was probably by the Sir George Beaumonts and other feeble
conventionalists of the period, that he was persuaded to devote his
attention to the works of these men; and his having done so will be
thought, a few scores of years hence, evidence of perhaps the greatest
modesty ever shown by a man of original power. Modesty at once admirable
and unfortunate, for the study of the works of Vandevelde and Claude was
productive of unmixed mischief to him: he spoiled many of his marine
pictures, as for instance Lord Ellesmere's, by imitation of the former;
and from the latter learned a false ideal, which, confirmed by the
notions of Greek art prevalent in London in the beginning of this
century, has manifested itself in many vulgarities in his composition
pictures, vulgarities which may perhaps be best expressed by the general
term "Twickenham Classicism," as consisting principally in conceptions
of ancient or of rural life such as have influenced the erection of most
of our suburban villas. From Nicole Poussin and Loutherbourg he seems to
have derived advantage; perhaps also from Wilson; and much in his
subsequent travels from far higher men, especially Tintoret and Paul
Veronese. I have myself heard him speaking with singular delight of the
putting in of the beech leaves in the upper right-hand corner of
Titian's Peter Martyr. I cannot in any of his works trace the slightest
influence of Salvator; and I am not surprised at it, for though Salvator
was a man of far higher powers than either Vandevelde or Claude, he was
a willful and gross caricaturist. Turner would condescend to be helped
by feeble men, but could not be corrupted by false men. Besides, he had
never himself seen classical life, and Claude was represented to him as
competent authority for it. But he _had_ seen mountains and torrents,
and knew therefore that Salvator could not paint them.

203. One of the most characteristic drawings of this period fortunately
bears a date, 1818, and brings us within two years of another dated
drawing, no less characteristic of what I shall henceforward call
Turner's Second period. It is in the possession of Mr. Hawkesworth
Fawkes of Farnley, one of Turner's earliest and truest friends; and
bears the inscription, unusually conspicuous, heaving itself up and down
over the eminences of the foreground--"PASSAGE OF MONT CENIS. J. M. W.
TURNER, January 15th, 1820."

The scene is on the summit of the pass close to the hospice, or what
seems to have been a hospice at that time,--I do not remember any such
at present,--a small square built house, built as if partly for a
fortress, with a detached flight of stone steps in front of it, and a
kind of drawbridge to the door. This building, about 400 or 500 yards
off, is seen in a dim, ashy gray against the light, which by help of a
violent blast of mountain wind has broken through the depth of clouds
which hang upon the crags. There is no sky, properly so called, nothing
but this roof of drifting cloud; but neither is there any weight of
darkness--the high air is too thin for it,--all savage, howling, and
luminous with cold, the massy bases of the granite hills jutting out
here and there grimly through the snow wreaths. There is a
desolate-looking refuge on the left, with its number 16, marked on it in
long ghastly figures, and the wind is drifting the snow off the roof and
through its window in a frantic whirl; the near ground is all wan with
half-thawed, half-trampled snow; a diligence in front, whose horses,
unable to face the wind, have turned right round with fright, its
passengers struggling to escape, jammed in the window; a little farther
on is another carriage off the road, some figures pushing at its wheels,
and its driver at the horses' heads, pulling and lashing with all his
strength, his lifted arm stretched out against the light of the
distance, though too far off for the whip to be seen.

204. Now I am perfectly certain that anyone thoroughly accustomed to the
earlier works of the painter, and shown this picture for the first time,
would be struck by two altogether new characters in it.

The first, a seeming enjoyment of the excitement of the scene, totally
different from the contemplative philosophy with which it would formerly
have been regarded. Every incident of motion and of energy is seized
upon with indescribable delight, and every line of the composition
animated with a force and fury which are now no longer the mere
expression of a contemplated external truth, but have origin in some
inherent feeling in the painter's mind.

The second, that although the subject is one in itself almost incapable
of color, and although, in order to increase the wildness of the
impression, all brilliant local color has been refused even where it
might easily have been introduced, as in the figures; yet in the low
minor key which has been chosen, the melodies of _color_ have been
elaborated to the utmost possible pitch, so as to become a leading,
instead of a subordinate, element in the composition; the subdued warm
hues of the granite promontories, the dull stone color of the walls of
the buildings, clearly opposed, even in shade, to the gray of the snow
wreaths heaped against them, and the faint greens and ghastly blues of
the glacier ice, being all expressed with delicacies of transition
utterly unexampled in any previous drawings.

205. These, accordingly, are the chief characteristics of the works of
Turner's second period, as distinguished from the first,--a new energy
inherent in the mind of the painter, diminishing the repose and exalting
the force and fire of his conceptions, and the presence of Color, as at
least an essential, and often a principal, element of design.

Not that it is impossible, or even unusual, to find drawings of serene
subject, and perfectly quiet feeling, among the compositions of this
period; but the repose is in them, just as the energy and tumult were in
the earlier period, an external quality, which the painter images by an
effort of the will: it is no longer a character inherent in himself. The
"Ulleswater," in the England series, is one of those which are in most
perfect peace; in the "Cowes," the silence is only broken by the dash of
the boat's oars, and in the "Alnwick" by a stag drinking; but in at
least nine drawings out of ten, either sky, water, or figures are in
rapid motion, and the grandest drawings are almost always those which
have even violent action in one or other, or in all; _e.g._ high force
of Tees, Coventry, Llanthony, Salisbury, Llanberis, and such others.

206. The color is, however, a more absolute distinction; and we must
return to Mr. Fawkes's collection in order to see how the change in it
was effected. That such a change would take place at one time or other
was of course to be securely anticipated, the conventional system of the
first period being, as above stated, merely a means of study. But the
immediate cause was the journey of the year 1820. As might be guessed
from the legend on the drawing above described, "Passage of Mont Cenis,
January 15th, 1820," that drawing represents what happened on the day in
question to the painter himself. He passed the Alps then in the winter
of 1820; and either in the previous or subsequent summer, but on the
same journey, he made a series of sketches on the Rhine, in body color,
now in Mr. Fawkes's collection. Every one of those sketches is the
almost instantaneous record of an _effect_ of color or atmosphere, taken
strictly from nature, the drawing and the details of every subject being
comparatively subordinate, and the color nearly as principal as the
light and shade had been before,--certainly the leading feature, though
the light and shade are always exquisitely harmonized with it. And
naturally, as the color becomes the leading object, those times of day
are chosen in which it is most lovely; and whereas before, at least five
out of six of Turner's drawings represented ordinary daylight, we now
find his attention directed constantly to the evening: and, for the
first time, we have those rosy lights upon the hills, those gorgeous
falls of sun through flaming heavens, those solemn twilights, with the
blue moon rising as the western sky grows dim, which have ever since
been the themes of his mightiest thoughts.

207. I have no doubt, that the _immediate_ reason of this change was the
impression made upon him by the colors of the continental skies. When he
first traveled on the Continent (1800), he was comparatively a young
student; not yet able to draw form as he wanted, he was forced to give
all his thoughts and strength to this primary object. But now he was
free to receive other impressions; the time was come for perfecting his
art, and the first sunset which he saw on the Rhine taught him that all
previous landscape art was vain and valueless, that in comparison with
natural color, the things that had been called paintings were mere ink
and charcoal, and that all precedent and all authority must be cast away
at once, and trodden underfoot. He cast them away: the memories of
Vandevelde and Claude were at once weeded out of the great mind they had
encumbered; they and all the rubbish of the schools together with them;
the waves of the Rhine swept them away forever: and a new dawn rose over
the rocks of the Siebengebirge.

208. There was another motive at work, which rendered the change still
more complete. His fellow artists were already conscious enough of his
superior power in drawing, and their best hope was that he might not be
able to color. They had begun to express this hope loudly enough for it
to reach his ears. The engraver of one of his most important marine
pictures told me, not long ago, that one day about the period in
question, Turner came into his room to examine the progress of the
plate, not having seen his own picture for several months. It was one of
his dark early pictures, but in the foreground was a little piece of
luxury, a pearly fish wrought into hues like those of an opal. He stood
before the picture for some moments; then laughed, and pointed joyously
to the fish:--"They say that Turner can't color!" and turned away.

209. Under the force of these various impulses the change was total.
_Every subject thenceforward was primarily conceived in color_; and no
engraving ever gave the slightest idea of any drawing of this period.

The artists who had any perception of the truth were in despair; the
Beaumontites, classicalists, and "owl species" in general, in as much
indignation as their dullness was capable of. They had deliberately
closed their eyes to all nature, and had gone on inquiring, "Where do
you put your brown 'tree'?" A vast revelation was made to them at once,
enough to have dazzled anyone; but to _them_, light unendurable as
incomprehensible. They "did to the moon complain," in one vociferous,
unanimous, continuous "Tu whoo." Shrieking rose from all dark places at
the same instant, just the same kind of shrieking that is now raised
against the Pre-Raphaelites. Those glorious old Arabian Nights, how true
they are! Mocking and whispering, and abuse loud and low by turns, from
all the black stones beside the road, when one living soul is toiling up
the hill to get the golden water. Mocking and whispering, that he may
look back, and become a black stone like themselves.

210. Turner looked not back, but he went on in such a temper as a strong
man must be in, when he is forced to walk with his fingers in his ears.
He retired into himself; he could look no longer for help, or counsel,
or sympathy from anyone; and the spirit of defiance in which he was
forced to labor led him sometimes into violences, from which the
slightest expression of sympathy would have saved him. The new energy
that was upon him, and the utter isolation into which he was driven,
were both alike dangerous, and many drawings of the time show the evil
effects of both; some of them being hasty, wild, or experimental, and
others little more than magnificent expressions of defiance of public

But all have this noble virtue--they are in everything his own: there
are no more reminiscences of dead masters, no more trials of skill in
the manner of Claude or Poussin; every faculty of his soul is fixed upon
nature only, as he saw her, or as he remembered her.

211. I have spoken above of his gigantic memory: it is especially
necessary to notice this, in order that we may understand the kind of
grasp which a man of real imagination takes of all things that are once
brought within his reach--grasp thenceforth not to be relaxed forever.

On looking over any catalogues of his works, or of particular series of
them, we shall notice the recurrence of the same subject two, three, or
even many times. In any other artist this would be nothing remarkable.
Probably, most modern landscape painters multiply a favorite subject
twenty, thirty, or sixty fold, putting the shadows and the clouds in
different places, and "inventing," as they are pleased to call it, a new
"effect" every time. But if we examine the successions of Turner's
subjects, we shall find them either the records of a succession of
impressions actually received by him at some favorite locality, or else
repetitions of one impression received in early youth, and again and
again realized as his increasing powers enabled him to do better
justice to it. In either case we shall find them records of _seen
facts_; _never_ compositions in his room to fill up a favorite outline.

212. For instance, every traveler--at least, every traveler of thirty
years' standing--must love Calais, the place where he first felt himself
in a strange world. Turner evidently loved it excessively. I have never
catalogued his studies of Calais, but I remember, at this moment, five:
there is first the "Pas de Calais," a very large oil painting, which is
what he saw in broad daylight as he crossed over, when he got near the
French side. It is a careful study of French fishing-boats running for
the shore before the wind, with the picturesque old city in the
distance. Then there is the "Calais Harbor" in the Liber Studiorum: that
is what he saw just as he was going into the harbor--a heavy brig
warping out, and very likely to get in his way or run against the pier,
and bad weather coming on. Then there is the "Calais Pier," a large
painting, engraved some years ago by Mr. Lupton:[37] that is what he saw
when he had landed, and ran back directly to the pier to see what had
become of the brig. The weather had got still worse, the fishwomen were
being blown about in a distressful manner on the pier head, and some
more fishing-boats were running in with all speed. Then there is the
"Fortrouge," Calais: that is what he saw after he had been home to
Dessein's, and dined, and went out again in the evening to walk on the
sands, the tide being down. He had never seen such a waste of sands
before, and it made an impression on him. The shrimp girls were all
scattered over them too, and moved about in white spots on the wild
shore; and the storm had lulled a little, and there was a sunset--such a
sunset!--and the bars of Fortrouge seen against it, skeleton-wise. He
did not paint that directly; thought over it--painted it a long while

213. Then there is the vignette in the illustrations to Scott. That is
what he saw as he was going home, meditatively; and the revolving
lighthouse came blazing out upon him suddenly, and disturbed him. He
did not like that so much; made a vignette of it, however, when he was
asked to do a bit of Calais, twenty or thirty years afterwards, having
already done all the rest.

Turner never told me all this, but anyone may see it if he will compare
the pictures. They might, possibly, not be impressions of a single day,
but of two days or three; though, in all human probability, they were
seen just as I have stated them;[38] but they _are_ records of
successive impressions, as plainly written as ever traveler's diary. All
of them pure veracities. Therefore immortal.

214. I could multiply these series almost indefinitely from the rest of
his works. What is curious, some of them have a kind of private mark
running through all the subjects. Thus, I know three drawings of
Scarborough, and all of them have a starfish in the foreground: I do not
remember any others of his marine subjects which have a starfish.

The other kind of repetition--the recurrence to one early
impression--is, however, still more remarkable. In the collection of F.
H. Bale, Esq., there is a small drawing of Llanthony Abbey. It is in his
boyish manner, its date probably about 1795; evidently a sketch from
nature, finished at home. It had been a showery day; the hills were
partially concealed by the rain, and gleams of sunshine breaking out at
intervals. A man was fishing in the mountain stream. The young Turner
sought a place of some shelter under the bushes; made his sketch; took
great pains when he got home to imitate the rain, as he best could;
added his child's luxury of a rainbow; put in the very bush under which
he had taken shelter, and the fisherman, a somewhat ill-jointed and
long-legged fisherman, in the courtly short breeches which were the
fashion of the time.

215. Some thirty years afterwards, with all his powers in their
strongest training, and after the total change in his feelings and
principles, which I have endeavored to describe, he undertook the series
of "England and Wales," and in that series introduced the subject of
Llanthony Abbey. And behold, he went back to his boy's sketch and boy's
thought. He kept the very bushes in their places, but brought the
fisherman to the other side of the river, and put him, in somewhat less
courtly dress, under their shelter, instead of himself. And then he set
all his gained strength and new knowledge at work on the well-remembered
shower of rain, that had fallen thirty years before, to do it better.
The resultant drawing[39] is one of the very noblest of his second

216. Another of the drawings of the England series, Ulleswater, is the
repetition of one in Mr. Fawkes's collection, which, by the method of
its execution, I should conjecture to have been executed about the year
1808 or 1810: at all events, it is a very quiet drawing of the first
period. The lake is quite calm; the western hills in gray shadow, the
eastern massed in light. Helvellyn rising like a mist between them, all
being mirrored in the calm water. Some thin and slightly evanescent cows
are standing in the shallow water in front; a boat floats motionless
about a hundred yards from the shore; the foreground is of broken rocks,
with some lovely pieces of copse on the right and left.

This was evidently Turner's record of a quiet evening by the shore of
Ulleswater, but it was a feeble one. He could not at that time render
the sunset colors: he went back to it, therefore, in the England series,
and painted it again with his new power. The same hills are there, the
same shadows, the same cows,--they had stood in his mind, on the same
spot, for twenty years,--the same boat, the same rocks, only the copse
is cut away--it interfered with the masses of his color. Some figures
are introduced bathing; and what was gray, and feeble gold in the first
drawing, becomes purple and burning rose-color in the last.

217. But perhaps one of the most curious examples is in the series of
subjects from Winchelsea. That in the Liber Studiorum, "Winchelsea,
Sussex," bears date 1812, and its figures consist of a soldier speaking
to a woman, who is resting on the bank beside the road. There is another
small subject, with Winchelsea in the distance, of which the engraving
bears date 1817. It has _two_ women with bundles, and _two_ soldiers
toiling along the embankment in the plain, and a baggage wagon in the
distance. Neither of these seems to have satisfied him, and at last he
did another for the England series, of which the engraving bears date
1830. There is now a regiment on the march; the baggage wagon is there,
having got no farther on in the thirteen years, but one of the women is
tired, and has fainted on the bank; another is supporting her against
her bundle, and giving her drink; a third sympathetic woman is added,
and the two soldiers have stopped, and one is drinking from his

218. Nor is it merely of entire scenes, or of particular incidents that
Turner's memory is thus tenacious. The slightest passages of color or
arrangement that have pleased him--the fork of a bough, the casting of a
shadow, the fracture of a stone--will be taken up again and again, and
strangely worked into new relations with other thoughts. There is a
single sketch from nature in one of the portfolios at Farnley, of a
common wood-walk on the estate, which has furnished passages to no fewer
than three of the most elaborate compositions in the Liber Studiorum.

219. I am thus tedious in dwelling on Turner's powers of memory, because
I wish it to be thoroughly seen how all his greatness, all his infinite
luxuriance of invention, depends on his taking possession of everything
that he sees,--on his grasping all, and losing hold of nothing,--on his
forgetting himself, and forgetting nothing else. I wish it to be
understood how every great man paints what he sees or did see, his
greatness being indeed little else than his intense sense of fact. And
thus Pre-Raphaelitism and Raphaelitism, and Turnerism, are all one and
the same, so far as education can influence them. They are different in
their choice, different in their faculties, but all the same in this,
that Raphael himself, so far as he was great, and all who preceded or
followed him who ever were great, became so by painting the truths
around them as they appeared to each man's own mind, not as he had been
taught to see them, except by the God who made both him and them.

220. There is, however, one more characteristic of Turner's second
period, on which I have still to dwell, especially with reference to
what has been above advanced respecting the fallacy of overtoil; namely,
the magnificent ease with which all is done when it is _successfully_
done. For there are one or two drawings of this time which are _not_
done easily. Turner had in these set himself to do a fine thing to
exhibit his powers; in the common phrase, to excel himself; so sure as
he does this, the work is a failure. The worst drawings that have ever
come from his hands are some of this second period, on which he has
spent much time and laborious thought; drawings filled with incident
from one side to the other, with skies stippled into morbid blue, and
warm lights set against them in violent contrast; one of Bamborough
Castle, a large water-color, may be named as an example. But the truly
noble works are those in which, without effort, he has expressed his
thoughts as they came, and forgotten himself; and in these the
outpouring of invention is not less miraculous than the swiftness and
obedience of the mighty hand that expresses it. Anyone who examines the
drawings may see the evidence of this facility, in the strange freshness
and sharpness of every touch of color; but when the multitude of
delicate touches, with which all the aërial tones are worked, is taken
into consideration, it would still appear impossible that the drawing
could have been completed with _ease_, unless we had direct evidence on
the matter: fortunately, it is not wanting. There is a drawing in Mr.
Fawkes's collection of a man-of-war taking in stores: it is of the usual
size of those of the England series, about sixteen inches by eleven: it
does not appear one of the most highly finished, but it is still farther
removed from slightness. The hull of a first-rate occupies nearly
one-half of the picture on the right, her bows towards the spectator,
seen in sharp perspective from stem to stern, with all her port-holes,
guns, anchors, and lower rigging elaborately detailed; there are two
other ships of the line in the middle distance, drawn with equal
precision; a noble breezy sea dancing against their broad bows, full of
delicate drawing in its waves; a store-ship beneath the hull of the
larger vessel, and several other boats, and a complicated cloudy sky. It
might appear no small exertion of mind to draw the detail of all this
shipping down to the smallest ropes, from memory, in the drawing-room of
a mansion in the middle of Yorkshire, even if considerable time had been
given for the effort. But Mr. Fawkes sat beside the painter from the
first stroke to the last. Turner took a piece of blank paper one morning
after breakfast, outlined his ships, finished the drawing in three
hours, and went out to shoot.

221. Let this single fact be quietly meditated upon by our ordinary
painters, and they will see the truth of what was above asserted,--that
if a great thing can be done at all, it can be done easily; and let them
not torment themselves with twisting of compositions this way and that,
and repeating, and experimenting, and scene-shifting. If a man can
compose at all, he can compose at once, or rather he must compose in
spite of himself. And this is the reason of that silence which I have
kept in most of my works, on the subject of Composition. Many critics,
especially the architects, have found fault with me for not "teaching
people how to arrange masses;" for not "attributing sufficient
importance to composition." Alas! I attribute far more importance to it
than they do;--so much importance, that I should just as soon think of
sitting down to teach a man how to write a Divina Commedia, or King
Lear, as how to "compose," in the true sense, a single building or
picture. The marvelous stupidity of this age of lecturers is, that they
do not see that what they call, "principles of composition," are mere
principles of common sense in everything, as well as in pictures and
buildings;--A picture is to have a principal light? Yes; and so a dinner
is to have a principal dish, and an oration a principal point, and an
air of music a principal note, and every man a principal object. A
picture is to have harmony of relation among its parts? Yes; and so is a
speech well uttered, and an action well ordered, and a company well
chosen, and a ragout well mixed. Composition! As if a man were not
composing every moment of his life, well or ill, and would not do it
instinctively in his picture as well as elsewhere, if he could.
Composition of this lower or common kind is of exactly the same
importance in a picture that it is in anything else,--no more. It is
well that a man should say what he has to say in good order and
sequence, but the main thing is to say it truly. And yet we go on
preaching to our pupils as if to have a principal light was everything,
and so cover our academy walls with Shacabac feasts, wherein the courses
are indeed well ordered, but the dishes empty.

222. It is not, however, only in invention that men overwork themselves,
but in execution also; and here I have a word to say to the
Pre-Raphaelites specially. They are working too hard. There is evidence
in failing portions of their pictures, showing that they have wrought so
long upon them that their very sight has failed for weariness, and that
the hand refused any more to obey the heart. And, besides this, there
are certain qualities of drawing which they miss from over-carefulness.
For, let them be assured, there is a great truth lurking in that common
desire of men to see things done in what they call a "masterly," or
"bold," or "broad," manner: a truth oppressed and abused, like almost
every other in this world, but an eternal one nevertheless; and whatever
mischief may have followed from men's looking for nothing else but this
facility of execution, and supposing that a picture was assuredly all
right if only it were done with broad dashes of the brush, still the
truth remains the same:--that because it is not intended that men shall
torment or weary themselves with any earthly labor, it is appointed that
the noblest results should only be attainable by a certain ease and
decision of manipulation. I only wish people understood this much of
sculpture, as well as of painting, and could see that the finely
finished statue is, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, a far more
vulgar work than that which shows rough signs of the right hand laid to
the workman's hammer: but at all events, in painting it is felt by all
men, and justly felt. The freedom of the lines of nature can only be
represented by a similar freedom in the hand that follows them; there
are curves in the flow of the hair, and in the form of the features, and
in the muscular outline of the body, which can in no wise be caught but
by a sympathetic freedom in the stroke of the pencil. I do not care what
example is taken; be it the most subtle and careful work of Leonardo
himself, there will be found a play and power and ease in the outlines,
which no _slow_ effort could ever imitate. And if the Pre-Raphaelites do
not understand how this kind of power, in its highest perfection, may be
united with the most severe rendering of all other orders of truth, and
especially of those with which they themselves have most sympathy, let
them look at the drawings of John Lewis.

223. These then are the principal lessons which we have to learn from
Turner, in his second or central period of labor. There is one more,
however, to be received; and that is a warning; for towards the close of
it, what with doing small conventional vignettes for publishers, making
showy drawings from sketches taken by other people of places he had
never seen, and touching up the bad engravings from his works submitted
to him almost every day,--engravings utterly destitute of animation, and
which had to be raised into a specious brilliancy by scratching them
over with white, spotty lights, he gradually got inured to many
conventionalities, and even falsities; and, having trusted for ten or
twelve years almost entirely to his memory and invention, living, I
believe, mostly in London, and receiving a new sensation only from the
burning of the Houses of Parliament, he painted many pictures between
1830 and 1840 altogether unworthy of him. But he was not thus to close
his career.

224. In the summer either of 1840 or 1841, he undertook another journey
into Switzerland. It was then at least forty years since he had first
seen the Alps; (the source of the Arveron, in Mr. Fawkes's collection,
which could not have been painted till he had seen the thing itself,
bears date 1800,) and the direction of his journey in 1840 marks his
fond memory of that earliest one; for, if we look over the Swiss studies
and drawings executed in his first period, we shall be struck by his
fondness for the pass of the St. Gothard; the most elaborate drawing in
the Farnley collection is one of the Lake of Lucerne from Fluelen; and,
counting the Liber Studiorum subjects, there are, to my knowledge, six
compositions taken at the same period from the pass of St. Gothard, and,
probably, several others are in existence. The valleys of Sallenche and
Chamouni, and Lake of Geneva, are the only other Swiss scenes which seem
to have made very profound impressions on him.

He returned in 1841 to Lucerne; walked up Mont Pilate on foot, crossed
the St. Gothard, and returned by Lausanne and Geneva. He made a large
number of colored sketches on this journey, and realized several of them
on his return. The drawings thus produced are different from all that
had preceded them, and are the first which belong definitely to what I
shall henceforward call his Third period.

The perfect repose of his youth had returned to his mind, while the
faculties of imagination and execution appeared in renewed strength; all
conventionality being done away by the force of the impression which he
had received from the Alps, after his long separation from them. The
drawings are marked by a peculiar largeness and simplicity of thought:
most of them by deep serenity, passing into melancholy; all by a
richness of color, such as he had never before conceived. They, and the
works done in following years, bear the same relation to those of the
rest of his life that the colors of sunset do to those of the day; and
will be recognized, in a few years more, as the noblest landscapes ever
yet conceived by human intellect.

225. Such has been the career of the greatest painter of this century.
Many a century may pass away before there rises such another; but what
greatness any among us may be capable of, will, at least, be best
attained by following in his path;--by beginning in all quietness and
hopefulness to use whatever powers we may possess to represent the
things around us as we see and feel them; trusting to the close of life
to give the perfect crown to the course of its labors, and knowing
assuredly that the determination of the degree in which watchfulness is
to be exalted into invention, rests with a higher will than our own.
And, if not greatness, at least a certain good, is thus to be achieved;
for though I have above spoken of the mission of the more humble artist,
as if it were merely to be subservient to that of the antiquarian or the
man of science, there is an ulterior aspect, in which it is not
subservient, but superior. Every archæologist, every natural
philosopher, knows that there is a peculiar rigidity of mind brought on
by long devotion to logical and analytical inquiries. Weak men, giving
themselves to such studies, are utterly hardened by them, and become
incapable of understanding anything nobler, or even of feeling the value
of the results to which they lead. But even the best men are in a sort
injured by them, and pay a definite price, as in most other matters, for
definite advantages. They gain a peculiar strength, but lose in
tenderness, elasticity, and impressibility. The man who has gone, hammer
in hand, over the surface of a romantic country, feels no longer, in the
mountain ranges he has so laboriously explored, the sublimity or mystery
with which they were veiled when he first beheld them, and with which
they are adorned in the mind of the passing traveler. In his more
informed conception, they arrange themselves like a dissected model:
where another man would be awe-struck by the magnificence of the
precipice, he sees nothing but the emergence of a fossiliferous rock,
familiarized already to his imagination as extending in a shallow
stratum, over a perhaps uninteresting district; where the unlearned
spectator would be touched with strong emotion by the aspect of the
snowy summits which rise in the distance, he sees only the culminating
points of a metamorphic formation, with an uncomfortable web of fanlike
fissures radiating, in his imagination, though their centers.[41] That
in the grasp he has obtained of the inner relations of all these things
to the universe, and to man, that in the views which have been opened to
him of natural energies such as no human mind would have ventured to
conceive, and of past states of being, each in some new way bearing
witness to the unity of purpose and everlastingly consistent providence
of the Maker of all things, he has received reward well worthy the
sacrifice, I would not for an instant deny; but the sense of the loss is
not less painful to him if his mind be rightly constituted; and it would
be with infinite gratitude that he would regard the man, who, retaining
in his delineation of natural scenery a fidelity to the facts of science
so rigid as to make his work at once acceptable and credible to the most
sternly critical intellect, should yet invest its features again with
the sweet veil of their daily aspect; should make them dazzling with the
splendor of wandering light, and involve them in the unsearchableness of
stormy obscurity; should restore to the divided anatomy its visible
vitality of operation, clothe the naked crags with soft forests, enrich
the mountain ruins with bright pastures, and lead the thoughts from the
monotonous recurrence of the phenomena of the physical world, to the
sweet interests and sorrows of human life and death.


[28] This essay was first published in 1851 as a separate pamphlet
entitled "Pre-Raphaelitism," by the author of "Modern Painters." (8vo,
pp. 68. London: Smith, Elder, & Co.) It was afterwards reprinted in
1862, without alteration, except that the later issue bore the author's
name, and omitted a dedication which in the first edition ran as
follows:--"To Francis Hawkesworth Fawkes, Esq., of Farnley, These pages,
Which owe their present form to advantages granted By his kindness, Are
affectionately inscribed, By his obliged friend, John Ruskin."--ED.

[29] Compare "Sesame and Lilies," § 2.--ED.

[30] See "Arrows of the Chace," vol. i., which gives several letters
there collected under the head of Pre-Raphaelitism.--ED.

[31] It was not a little curious, that in the very number of the Art
Union which repeated this direct falsehood about the Pre-Raphaelite
rejection of "linear perspective" (by-the-bye, the next time J. B. takes
upon him to speak of anyone connected with the Universities, he may as
well first ascertain the difference between a Graduate and an
Under-Graduate), the second plate given should have been of a picture of
Bonington's--a professional landscape painter, observe--for the want of
_aërial_ perspective in which the Art Union itself was obliged to
apologize, and in which, the artist has committed nearly as many
blunders in _linear_ perspective as there are lines in the picture.

[32] These false statements may be reduced to three principal heads, and
directly contradicted in succession.

The first, the current fallacy of society as well as of the press, was,
that the Pre-Raphaelites imitated the _errors_ of early painters.

A falsehood of this kind could not have obtained credence anywhere but
in England, few English people, comparatively, having ever seen a
picture of early Italian Masters. If they had they would have known that
the Pre-Raphaelite pictures are just as superior to the early Italian in
skill of manipulation, power of drawing, and knowledge of effect, as
inferior to them in grace of design; and that in a word, there is not a
shadow of resemblance between the two styles. The Pre-Raphaelites
imitate no pictures: they paint from nature only. But they have opposed
themselves as a body, to that kind of teaching above described, which
only began after Raphael's time: and they have opposed themselves as
sternly to the entire feeling of the Renaissance schools; a feeling
compounded of indolence, infidelity, sensuality, and shallow pride.
Therefore they have called themselves Pre-Raphaelite. If they adhere to
their principles, and paint nature as it is around them, with the help
of modern science, with the earnestness of the men of the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, they will, as I said, found a new and noble school
in England. If their sympathies with the early artists lead them into
mediævalism or Romanism, they will of course come to nothing. But I
believe there is no danger of this, at least for the strongest among
them. There may be some weak ones, whom the Tractarian heresies may
touch; but if so, they will drop off like decayed branches from a strong
stem. I hope all things from the school.

The second falsehood was, that the Pre-Raphaelites did not draw well.
This was asserted, and could have been asserted only by persons who had
never looked at the pictures.

The third falsehood was, that they had no system of light and shade. To
which it may be simply replied that their system of light and shade is
exactly the same as the Sun's; which is, I believe, likely to outlast
that of the Renaissance, however brilliant.

[33] See ante, pp. 148-157.--ED.

[34] He did not use his full signature, "J. M. W.," until about the year

[35] I shall give a _catalogue raisonnée_ of all this in the third
volume of _Modern Painters_.

[36] See _post_, § 217.

[37] The plate was, however, never published.

[38] And the more probably because Turner was never fond of staying long
at any place, and was least of all likely to make a pause of two or
three days at the beginning of his journey.

[39] _Vide Modern Painters_, Part II. Sect. III. Chap. IV. § 13.

[40] See _ante_, § 200.

[41] This state of mind appears to have been the only one which
Wordsworth had been able to discern in men of science; and in disdain of
which, he wrote that short-sighted passage in the Excursion, Book III,
P. 165-190, which is, I think, the only one in the whole range of his
works which his true friends would have desired to see blotted out. What
else has been found fault with as feeble or superfluous, is not so in
the intense distinctive relief which it gives to his character. But
these lines are written in mere ignorance of the matter they treat; in
mere want of sympathy with the men they describe: for, observe, though
the passage is put into the mouth of the Solitary, it is fully
confirmed, and even rendered more scornful, by the speech which follows.



226. I was lately staying in a country house, in which, opposite each
other at the sides of the drawing-room window, were two pictures,
belonging to what in the nineteenth century must be called old times,
namely Rossetti's "Annunciation," and Millais' "Blind Girl"; while, at
the corner of the chimney-piece in the same room, there was a little
drawing of a Marriage-dance, by Edward Burne Jones. And in my bedroom,
at one side of my bed, there was a photograph of the tomb of Ilaria di
Caretto at Lucca, and on the other, an engraving, in long since
superannuated manner, from Raphael's "Transfiguration." Also over the
looking-glass in my bedroom, there was this large illuminated text,
fairly well written, but with more vermilion in it than was needful;
"Lord, teach us to pray."

And for many reasons I would fain endeavor to tell my Oxford pupils some
facts which seem to me worth memory about these six works of art; which,
if they will reflect upon, being, in the present state of my health, the
best I can do for them in the way of autumn lecturing, it will be kind
to me. And as I cannot speak what I would say, and believe my pupils are
more likely to read it if printed in the _Nineteenth Century_ than in a
separate pamphlet, I have asked, and obtained of the editor, space in
columns which ought, nevertheless, I think, usually to be occupied with
sterner subjects, as the Fates are now driving the nineteenth century on
its missionary path.

227. The first picture I named, Rossetti's "Annunciation," was, I
believe, among the earliest that drew some public attention to the
so-called "Pre-Raphaelite" school. The one opposite to it,--Millais'
"Blind Girl," is among those chiefly characteristic of that school in
its determined manner. And the third, though small and unimportant, is
no less characteristic, in its essential qualities, of the mind of the
greatest master whom that school has yet produced.

I believe most readers will start at the application of the term
"master," to any English painter. For the hope of the nineteenth century
is more and more distinctly every day, to teach all men how to live
without mastership either in art or morals (primarily, of course,
substituting for the words of Christ, "Ye say well, for so I am,"--the
probable emendation, "Ye say ill, for so I am not"); and to limit the
idea of magistracy altogether, no less than the functions of the
magistrate, to the suppression of disturbance in the manufacturing

Nor would I myself use the word "Master" in any but the most qualified
sense, of any "modern painter"; scarcely even of Turner, and not at all,
except for convenience and as a matter of courtesy, of any workman of
the Pre-Raphaelite school, as yet. In such courtesy, only, let the
masterless reader permit it me.

228. I must endeavor first to give, as well as I can by description,
some general notion of the subjects and treatment of the three pictures.

Rossetti's "Annunciation" differs from every previous conception of the
scene known to me, in representing the angel as waking the Virgin from
sleep to give her his message. The Messenger himself also differs from
angels as they are commonly represented, in not depending, for
recognition of his supernatural character, on the insertion of bird's
wings at his shoulders. If we are to know him for an angel at all, it
must be by his face, which is that simply of youthful, but grave,
manhood. He is neither transparent in body, luminous in presence, nor
auriferous in apparel;--wears a plain, long, white robe,--casts a
natural and undiminished shadow,--and, although there are flames beneath
his feet, which upbear him, so that he does not touch the earth, these
are unseen by the Virgin.

She herself is an English, not a Jewish girl, of about sixteen or
seventeen, of such pale and thoughtful beauty as Rossetti could best
imagine for her; concerning which effort, and its degree of success, we
will inquire farther presently.

She has risen half up, not _started_ up, in being awakened; and is not
looking at the angel, but only thinking, it seems, with eyes cast down,
as if supposing herself in a strange dream. The morning light fills the
room, and shows at the foot of her little pallet-bed, her embroidery
work, left off the evening before,--an upright lily.

Upright, and very accurately upright, as also the edges of the piece of
cloth in its frame,--as also the gliding form of the angel,--as also, in
severe foreshortening, that of the Virgin herself. It has been studied,
so far as it has been studied at all, from a very thin model; and the
disturbed coverlid is thrown into confused angular folds, which admit no
suggestion whatever of ordinary girlish grace. So that, to any spectator
little inclined towards the praise of barren "uprightnesse," and
accustomed on the contrary to expect radiance in archangels, and grace
in Madonnas, the first effect of the design must be extremely
displeasing, and the first is perhaps, with most art-amateurs of modern
days, likely to be the last.

229. The background of the second picture (Millais' "Blind Girl"), is an
open English common, skirted by the tidy houses of a well-to-do village
in the cockney rural districts. I have no doubt the scene is a real one
within some twenty miles from London, and painted mostly on the spot.
The houses are entirely uninteresting, but decent, trim, as human
dwellings should be, and on the whole inoffensive--not "cottages," mind
you, in any sense, but respectable brick-walled and slated
constructions, old-fashioned in the sense of "old" at, suppose, Bromley
or Sevenoaks, and with a pretty little church belonging to them, its
window traceries freshly whitewashed by order of the careful warden.

The common is a fairly spacious bit of ragged pasture, with a couple of
donkeys feeding on it, and a cow or two, and at the side of the public
road passing over it, the blind girl has sat down to rest awhile. She is
a simple beggar, not a poetical or vicious one;--being peripatetic with
musical instrument, she will, I suppose, come under the general term of
tramp; a girl of eighteen or twenty, extremely plain-featured, but
healthy, and just now resting, as any one of us would rest, not because
she is much tired, but because the sun has but this moment come out
after a shower, and the smell of the grass is pleasant.

The shower has been heavy, and is so still in the distance, where an
intensely bright double rainbow is relieved against the departing
thunder-cloud. The freshly wet grass is all radiant through and through
with the new sunshine; full noon at its purest, the very donkeys bathed
in the rain-dew, and prismatic with it under their rough breasts as they
graze; the weeds at the girl's side as bright as a Byzantine enamel, and
inlaid with blue veronica; her upturned face all aglow with the light
that seeks its way through her wet eyelashes (wet only with the rain).
Very quiet she is,--so quiet that a radiant butterfly has settled on her
shoulder, and basks there in the warm sun. Against her knee, on which
her poor instrument of musical beggary rests (harmonium), leans another
child, half her age--her guide;--indifferent, this one, either to sun or
rain, only a little tired of waiting. No more than a half profile of her
face is seen; and that is quite expressionless, and not the least

230. Both of these pictures are oil-paintings. The third, Mr. Burne
Jones's "Bridal," is a small water-color drawing, scarcely more than a
sketch; but full and deep in such color as it admits. Any careful
readers of my recent lectures at Oxford know that I entirely ignore the
difference of material between oil and water as diluents of color, when
I am examining any grave art question: nor shall I hereafter, throughout
this paper, take notice of it. Nor do I think it needful to ask the
pardon of any of the three artists for confining the reader's attention
at present to comparatively minor and elementary examples of their
works. If I can succeed in explaining the principles involved in them,
their application by the reader will be easily extended to the enjoyment
of better examples.

This drawing of Mr. Jones's, however, is far less representative of his
scale of power than either of the two pieces already described, which
have both cost their artists much care and time; while this little
water-color has been perhaps done in the course of a summer afternoon.
It is only about seven inches by nine: the figures of the average size
of Angelico's on any altar predella; and the heads, of those on an
average Corinthian or Syracusan coin. The bride and bridegroom sit on a
slightly raised throne at the side of the picture, the bride nearest us;
her head seen in profile, a little bowed. Before them, the three
bridesmaids and their groomsmen dance in circle, holding each other's
hands, bare-footed, and dressed in long dark blue robes. Their figures
are scarcely detached from the dark background, which is a willful
mingling of shadow and light, as the artist chose to put them,
representing, as far as I remember, nothing in particular. The deep tone
of the picture leaves several of the faces in obscurity, and none are
drawn with much care, not even the bride's; but with enough to show that
her features are at least as beautiful as those of an ordinary Greek
goddess, while the depth of the distant background throws out her pale
head in an almost lunar, yet unexaggerated, light; and the white and
blue flowers of her narrow coronal, though _merely_ white and blue,
shine, one knows not how, like gems. Her bridegroom stoops forward a
little to look at her, so that we see his front face, and can see also
that he loves her.

231. Such being the respective effort and design of the three pictures,
although I put by, for the moment, any question of their mechanical
skill or manner, it must yet, I believe, be felt by the reader that, as
works of young men, they contained, and even nailed to the Academy
gates, a kind of Lutheran challenge to the then accepted teachers in
all European schools of Art: perhaps a little too shrill and petulant in
the tone of it, but yet curiously resolute and steady in its triple
Fraternity, as of William of Burglen with his Melchthal and Stauffacher,
in the Grutli meadow, not wholly to be scorned by even the knightliest
powers of the Past.

We have indeed, since these pictures were first exhibited, become
accustomed to many forms both of pleasing and revolting innovation: but
consider, in those early times, how the pious persons who had always
been accustomed to see their Madonnas dressed in scrupulously folded and
exquisitely falling robes of blue, with edges embroidered in gold,--to
find them also, sitting under arcades of exquisitest architecture by
Bernini,--and reverently to observe them receive the angel's message
with their hands folded on their breasts in the most graceful positions,
and the missals they had been previously studying laid open on their
knees, (see my own outline from Angelico of the "Ancilla Domini," the
first plate of the fifth volume of _Modern Painters_);--consider, I
repeat, the shock to the feelings of all these delicately minded
persons, on being asked to conceive a Virgin waking from her sleep on a
pallet bed, in a plain room, startled by sudden words and ghostly
presence which she does not comprehend, and casting in her mind what
manner of Salutation this should be.

232. Again, consider, with respect to the second picture, how the
learned possessors of works of established reputation by the ancient
masters, classically catalogued as "landscapes with figures"; and who
held it for eternal, artistic law that such pictures should either
consist of a rock, with a Spanish chestnut growing out of the side of
it, and three banditti in helmets and big feathers on the top, or else
of a Corinthian temple, built beside an arm of the sea, with the Queen
of Sheba beneath, preparing for embarkation to visit Solomon,--the whole
properly toned down with amber varnish;--imagine the first
consternation, and final wrath, of these _cognoscenti_, at being asked
to contemplate, deliberately, and to the last rent of her ragged gown,
and for principal object in a finished picture, a vagrant who ought at
once to have been sent to the workhouse; and some really green grass and
blue flowers, as they actually may any day be seen on an English

And finally, let us imagine, if imagination fail us not, the far more
wide and weighty indignation of the public, accustomed always to see its
paintings of marriages elaborated in Christian propriety and splendor;
with a bishop officiating, assisted by a dean and an archdeacon; the
modesty of the bride expressed by a veil of the most expensive
Valenciennes, and the robes of the bridesmaids designed by the
perfectest of Parisian artists, and looped up with stuffed robins or
other such tender rarities;--think with what sense of hitherto
unheard-of impropriety, the British public must have received a picture
of a marriage, in which the bride was only crowned with flowers,--at
which the bridesmaids danced barefoot,--and in which nothing was known,
or even conjecturable, respecting the bridegroom, but his love!

233. Such being the manifestly opponent and agonistic temper of these
three pictures (and admitting, which I will crave the reader to do for
the nonce, their real worth and power to be considerable), it surely
becomes a matter of no little interest to see what spirit it is that
they have in common, which, recognized as revolutionary in the minds of
the young artists themselves, caused them, with more or less of
firmness, to constitute themselves into a society, partly monastic,
partly predicatory, called "Pre-Raphaelite": and also recognized as
such, with indignation, by the public, caused the youthfully didactic
society to be regarded with various degrees of contempt, passing into
anger (as of offended personal dignity), and embittered farther, among
certain classes of persons, even into a kind of instinctive abhorrence.

234. I believe the reader will discover, on reflection, that there is
really only one quite common and sympathetic impulse shown in these
three works, otherwise so distinct in aim and execution. And this
fraternal link he will, if careful in reflection, discover to be an
effort to represent, so far as in these youths lay either the choice or
the power, things as they are, or were, or may be, instead of, according
to the practice of their instructors and the wishes of their public,
things as they are _not_, never were, and never can be: this effort
being founded deeply on a conviction that it is at first better, and
finally more pleasing, for human minds to contemplate things as they
are, than as they are not.

Thus, Mr. Rossetti, in this and subsequent works of the kind, thought it
better for himself and his public to make some effort towards a real
notion of what actually did happen in the carpenter's cottage at
Nazareth, giving rise to the subsequent traditions delivered in the
Gospels, than merely to produce a variety in the pattern of Virgin,
pattern of Virgin's gown, and pattern of Virgin's house, which had been
set by the jewelers of the fifteenth century.

Similarly, Mr. Millais, in this and other works of the kind, thought it
desirable rather to paint such grass and foliage as he saw in Kent,
Surrey, and other solidly accessible English counties, than to imitate
even the most Elysian fields enameled by Claude, or the gloomiest
branches of Hades forest rent by Salvator: and yet more, to manifest his
own strong personal feeling that the humanity, no less than the herbage,
near us and around, was that which it was the painter's duty first to
portray; and that, if Wordsworth were indeed right in feeling that the
meanest flower that blows can give,--much more, for any kindly heart it
should be true that the meanest tramp that walks can give--"thoughts
that do often lie too deep for tears."

235. And if at first--or even always to careless sight--the third of
these pictures seem opposite to the two others in the very point of
choice, between what is and what is not; insomuch that while _they_ with
all their strength avouch realities, _this_ with simplest confession
dwells upon a dream,--yet in this very separation from them it sums
their power and seals their brotherhood; reaching beyond them to the
more perfect truth of things, not only that once were,--not only that
now are,--but which are the same yesterday, to-day, and forever;--the
love by whose ordaining the world itself, and all that dwell therein,
live, and move, and have their being; by which the Morning stars rejoice
in their courses--in which the virgins of deathless Israel rejoice in
the dance--and in whose constancy the Giver of light to stars, and love
to men, Himself is glad in the creatures of His hand,--day by new day
proclaiming to His Church of all the ages, "As the bridegroom rejoiceth
over the bride, so shall thy Lord rejoice over thee."

Such, the reader will find, if he cares to learn it, is indeed the
purport and effort of these three designs--so far as, by youthful hands
and in a time of trouble and rebuke, such effort could be brought to
good end. Of their visible weaknesses, with the best justice I may,--of
their veritable merits with the best insight I may, and of the farther
history of the school which these masters founded, I hope to be
permitted to speak more under the branches that do not "remember their
green felicity"; adding a corollary or two respecting the other pieces
of art above named[43] as having taken part in the tenor of my country
hours of idleness.


[42] _Nineteenth Century_, NOV.-DEC. 1878.--ED.

[43] May I in the meantime recommend any reader interested in these
matters to obtain for himself such photographic representation as may be
easily acquirable of the tomb of Ilaria? It is in the north transept of
the Cathedral of Lucca; and is certainly the most beautiful work
existing by the master who wrought it,--Jacopo della Quercia.



236. The feeling which, in the foregoing notes on the pictures that
entertained my vacation, I endeavored to illustrate as dominant over
early Pre-Raphaelite work, is very far from being new in the world.
Demonstrations in support of fact against fancy have been periodical
motives of earthquake and heartquake, under the two rigidly incumbent
burdens of drifted tradition, which, throughout the history of humanity,
during phases of languid thought, cover the vaults of searching fire
that must at last try every man's work, what it is.

But the movement under present question derived unusual force, and in
some directions a morbid and mischievous force, from the vulgarly
called[44] "scientific" modes of investigation which had destroyed in
the minds of the public it appealed to, all possibility, or even
conception, of reverence for anything, past, present, or future,
invisible to the eyes of a mob, and inexpressible by popular
vociferation. It was indeed, and had long been, too true, as the wisest
of us felt, that the mystery of the domain between things that are
universally visible, and are only occasionally so to some persons,--no
less than the myths or words in which those who had entered that kingdom
related what they had seen, had become, the one uninviting, and the
other useless, to men dealing with the immediate business of our day; so
that the historian of the last of European kings might most reasonably
mourn that "the Berlin Galleries, which are made up, like other
galleries, of goat-footed Pan, Europa's Bull, Romulus's She-wolf, and
the Correggiosity of Correggio, 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 of 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."

       *       *       *

237. But we must surely, in fairness to modernism, remember that
although no portraits of great Frederick, of a trustworthy character,
may be found at Berlin, portraits of the English squire, be he great or
small, may usually be seen at his country house. And Edinburgh, as I
lately saw,--if she boasts of no Venetian perfectness of art in the
portraiture of her Bruce or James, her Douglas or Knox, at Holyrood, has
at least a charming portrait of a Scottish beauty in the Attic
Institution, whose majesty, together with that of the more extensive
glass roofs of the railway station, and the tall chimney of the
gasworks, inflates the Caledonian mind, contemplative around the spot
where the last of its minstrels appears to be awaiting eternal
extinction under his special extinguisher;--and pronouncing of all its
works and ways that they are very good.

And are there not also sufficiently resembling portraits of all the
mouthpieces of constituents in British Parliament--as their vocal powers
advance them into that worshipful society--presented to the people, with
due felicitation on the new pipe it has got to its organ, in the
_Illustrated_ or other graphic _News_? Surely, therefore, it cannot be
portraiture of merely human greatness of mind that we are anyway short
of; but another manner of greatness altogether? And may we not regret
that as great Frederick is dead, so also great Pan is dead, and only the
goat-footed Pan, or rather the goat's feet of him without the Pan, left
for portraiture?

       *       *       *

238. I chanced to walk, to-day, 9th of November, through the gallery of
the Liverpool Museum, in which the good zeal and sense of Mr. Gatty have
already, in beautiful order, arranged the Egyptian antiquities, but have
not yet prevailed far enough to group, in like manner, the scattered
Byzantine and Italian ivories above. Out of which collection, every way
valuable, two primarily important pieces, it seems to me, may be
recommended for accurate juxtaposition, bringing then for us into
briefest compass an extensive story of the Arts of Mankind.

The first is an image of St. John the Baptist, carved in the eleventh
century; being then conceived by the image-maker as decently covered by
his raiment of camel's hair; bearing a gentle aspect, because the herald
of a gentle Lord; and pointing to his quite legibly written message
concerning the Lamb which is that gentle Lord's heraldic symbol.

The other carving is also of St. John the Baptist, Italian work of the
sixteenth century. He is represented thereby as bearing no aspect, for
he is without his head;--wearing no camel's hair, for he is without his
raiment;--and indicative of no message, for he has none to bring.

239. Now if these two carvings are ever put in due relative position,
they will constitute a precise and permanent art-lecture to the
museum-visitants of Liverpool-burg; exhibiting to them instantly, and in
sum, the conditions of the change in the aims of art which, beginning in
the thirteenth century under Niccolo Pisano, consummated itself three
hundred years afterwards in Raphael and his scholars. Niccolo, first
among Italians, thought mainly in carving the Crucifixion, not how heavy
Christ's head was when He bowed it;--but how heavy His body was when
people came to take it down. And the apotheosis of flesh, or, in modern
scientific terms, the molecular development of flesh, went steadily on,
until at last, as we see in the instance before us, it became really of
small consequence to the artists of the Renaissance Incarnadine, whether
a man had his head on or not, so only that his legs were handsome: and
the decapitation, whether of St. John or St. Cecilia; the massacre of
any quantity of Innocents; the flaying, whether of Marsyas or St.
Bartholomew, and the deaths, it might be of Laocoon by his vipers, it
might be of Adonis by his pig, or it might be of Christ by His people,
became, one and all, simply subjects for analysis of muscular
mortification; and the vast body of artists accurately, therefore,
little more than a chirurgically useless sect of medical students.

Of course there were many reactionary tendencies among the men who had
been trained in the pure Tuscan schools, which partly concealed, or
adorned, the materialism of their advance; and Raphael himself, after
profoundly studying the arabesques of Pompeii and of the palace of the
Cæsars, beguiled the tedium, and illustrated the spirituality of the
converse of Moses and Elias with Christ concerning His decease which He
should accomplish at Jerusalem, by placing them, above the Mount of
Transfiguration, in the attitudes of two humming-birds on the top of a

240. But the best of these ornamental arrangements were insufficient to
sustain the vivacity, while they conclusively undermined the sincerity,
of the Christian faith, and "the real consequences of the acceptance of
this kind (Roman Bath and Sarcophagus kind)" of religious idealism were
instant and manifold.[45]

       *       *       *

So far as it was received and trusted in by thoughtful persons, it only
served to chill all the conceptions of sacred history which they might
otherwise have obtained. Whatever they could have fancied for themselves
about the wild, strange, infinitely stern, infinitely tender, infinitely
varied veracities of the life of Christ, was blotted out by the vapid
fineries of Raphael: the rough Galilean pilot, the orderly custom
receiver, and all the questioning wonder and fire of uneducated
apostleship, were obscured under an antique mask of philosophical faces
and long robes. The feeble, subtle, suffering, ceaseless energy and
humiliation of St. Paul were confused with an idea of a meditative
Hercules leaning on a sweeping sword; and the mighty presences of Moses
and Elias were softened by introductions of delicate grace, adopted from
dancing nymphs and rising Auroras.

Now no vigorously minded religious person could possibly receive
pleasure or help from such art as this; and the necessary result was the
instant rejection of it by the healthy religion of the world. Raphael
ministered, with applause, to the impious luxury of the Vatican, but was
trampled underfoot at once by every believing and advancing Christian of
his own and subsequent times; and thenceforward pure Christianity and
"high art" took separate roads, and fared on, as best they might,
independently of each other.

But although Calvin, and Knox, and Luther, and their flocks, with all
the hardest-headed and truest-hearted faithful left in Christendom, thus
spurned away the spurious art, and all art with it (not without harm to
themselves, such as a man must needs sustain in cutting off a decayed
limb), certain conditions of weaker Christianity suffered the false
system to retain influence over them; and to this day the clear and
tasteless poison of the art of Raphael infects with sleep of infidelity
the hearts of millions of Christians. It is the first cause of all that
pre-eminent _dullness_ which characterizes what Protestants call sacred
art; a dullness not merely baneful in making religion distasteful to the
young, but in sickening, as we have seen, all vital belief of religion
in the old. A dim sense of impossibility attaches itself always to the
graceful emptiness of the representation; we feel instinctively that the
painted Christ and painted apostle are not beings that ever did or could
exist; and this fatal sense of fair fabulousness, and well-composed
impossibility, steals gradually from the picture into the history, until
we find ourselves reading St. Mark or St. Luke with the same admiring,
but uninterested, incredulity, with which we contemplate Raphael.

241. Without claiming,--nay, so far as my knowledge can reach, utterly
disclaiming--any personal influence over, or any originality of
suggestion to, the men who founded our presently realistic schools, I
may yet be permitted to point out the sympathy which I had as an
outstanding spectator with their effort; and the more or less active
fellowship with it, which, unrecognized, I had held from the beginning.
The passage I have just quoted (with many others enforcing similar
truths) is in the third volume of _Modern Painters_; but if the reader
can refer to the close of the preface to the second edition[46] of the
first, he will find this very principle of realism asserted for the
groundwork of all I had to teach in that volume. The lesson so far
pleased the public of that day, that ever since, they have refused to
listen to any corollaries or conclusions from it, assuring me, year by
year, continually, that the older I grew, the less I knew, and the worse
I wrote. Nevertheless, that first volume of _Modern Painters_ did by no
means contain all that even then I knew; and in the third, nominally
treating of "Many Things," will be found the full expression of what I
knew best; namely, that all "things," many or few, which we ought to
paint, must be first distinguished boldly from the nothings which we
ought not; and that a faithful realist, before he could question whether
his art was representing anything truly, had first to ask whether it
meant seriously to represent anything at all!

242. And such definition has in these days become more needful than ever
before, in this solid, or spectral--which-ever the reader pleases to
consider it--world of ours. For some of us, who have no perception but
of solidity, are agreed to consider all that is not solid, or weighably
liquid, nothing. And others of us, who have also perception of the
spectral, are sometimes too much inclined to call what is no more than
solid, or weighably liquid, nothing. But the general reader may be at
least assured that it is not at all possible for the student to enter
into useful discussion concerning the qualities of art which takes on
itself to represent things as they are, unless he include in its
subjects the spectral, no less than the substantial, reality; and
understand what difference must be between the powers of veritable
representation, for the men whose models are of ponderable flesh, as for
instance, the "Sculptor's model," lately under debate in Liverpool,--and
the men whose models pause perhaps only for an instant--painted on the
immeasurable air,--forms which they themselves can but discern darkly,
and remember uncertainly, saying: "A vision passed before me, but I
could not discern the form thereof."

243. And the most curious, yet the most common, deficiency in the modern
contemplative mind, is its inability to comprehend that these phenomena
of true imagination are yet no less real, and often more vivid than
phenomena of matter. We continually hear artists blamed or praised for
having painted this or that (either of material or spectral kind),
without the slightest implied inquiry whether they _saw_ this, or that.
Whereas the quite primal difference between the first and second order
of artists, is that the first is indeed painting what he has seen; and
the second only what he would like to see! But as the one that can paint
what he would like, has therefore the power, if he chooses, of painting
more or less what also his public likes, he has a chance of being
received with sympathetic applause, on all hands, while the first, it
may be, meets only reproach for not having painted something more
agreeable. Thus Mr. Millais, going out at Tunbridge or Sevenoaks, sees a
blind vagrant led by an ugly child; and paints that highly objectionable
group, as they appeared to him. But your pliably minded painter gives
you a beautiful young lady guiding a sightless Belisarius (see the gift
by one of our most tasteful modistes to our National Gallery), and the
gratified public never troubles itself to ask whether these ethereal
mendicants were ever indeed apparent in this world, or any other. Much
more, if, in deeper vistas of his imagination, some presently graphic
Zechariah paint--(let us say) four carpenters, the public will most
likely declare that he ought to have painted persons in a higher class
of life, without ever inquiring whether the Lord had shown him four
carpenters or not. And the worst of the business is that the public
impatience, in such sort, is not wholly unreasonable. For truly, a
painter who has eyes can, for the most part, see what he "likes" with
them; and is, by divine law, answerable for his liking. And, even at
this late hour of the day, it is still conceivable that such of them as
would _verily_ prefer to see, suppose, instead of a tramp with a
harmonium, Orpheus with his lute, or Arion on his dolphin, pleased
Proteus rising beside him from the sea,--might, standing on the
"pleasant lea" of Margate or Brighton, have sight of those personages.

Orpheus with his lute,--Jubal with his harp and horn,--Harmonia, bride
of the warrior seed-sower,--Musica herself, lady of all timely thought
and sweetly ordered things,--Cantatrice and Incantatrice to all but the
museless adder; these the Amphion of Fésole saw, as he shaped the marble
of his tower; these, Memmi of Siena, fair-figured on the shadows of his
vault;--but for us, here is the only manifestation granted to our best
practical painter--a vagrant with harmonium--and yonder blackbirds and
iridescent jackasses, to be harmonized thereby.

244. Our best _painter_ (among the living) I say;--no question has ever
been of that. Since Van Eyck and Dürer there has nothing been seen so
well done in laying of clear oil-color within definite line. And what he
might have painted for us, if _we_ had only known what we would have of
him! Heaven only knows. But we none of us knew,--nor he neither; and on
the whole the perfectest of his works, and the representative picture of
that generation--was no Annunciate Maria bowing herself; but only a
Newsless Mariana stretching herself: which is indeed the best symbol of
the mud-moated Nineteenth century; in _its_ Grange, Stable--Sty, or
whatever name of dwelling may best befit the things it calls Houses and
Cities: imprisoned therein by the unassailablest of walls, and blackest
of ditches--by the pride of Babel, and the filthiness of Aholah and
Aholibamah; and their worse younger sister;--craving for any manner of
News from any world--and getting none trustworthy even of its own.

245. I said that in this second paper I would try to give some brief
history of the rise, and the issue, of that Pre-Raphaelite school: but,
as I look over two of the essays[47] that were printed with mine in that
last number of the _Nineteenth Century_--the first--in laud of the
Science which accepts for practical spirits, inside of men, only Avarice
and Indolence; and the other,--in laud of the Science which "rejects the
Worker" outside of Men, I am less and less confident in offering to the
readers of the _Nineteenth Century_ any History relating to such
despised things as unavaricious industry,--or incorporeal vision. I will
be as brief as I can.

246. The central branch of the school, represented by the central
picture above described:--"The Blind Girl"--was essentially and vitally
an uneducated one. It was headed, in literary power, by Wordsworth; but
the first pure example of its mind and manner of Art, as opposed to the
erudite and _artificial_ schools, will be found, so far as I know, in
Molière's song: _j'aime mieux ma mie_.

Its mental power consisted in discerning what was lovely in present
nature, and in pure moral emotion concerning it.

Its physical power, in an intense veracity of direct realization to the

So far as Mr. Millais saw what was beautiful in vagrants, or commons, or
crows, or donkeys, or the straw under children's feet in the Ark (Noah's
or anybody else's does not matter),--in the Huguenot and his mistress,
or the ivy behind them,--in the face of Ophelia, or in the flowers
floating over it as it sank;--much more, so far as he saw what
instantly comprehensible nobleness of passion might be in the binding
of a handkerchief,--in the utterance of two words, "Trust me" or the
like: he prevailed, and rightly prevailed, over all prejudice and
opposition; to that extent he will in what he has done, or may yet do,
take, as a standard-bearer, an honorable place among the reformers of
our day.

So far as he could not see what was beautiful, but what was essentially
and forever common (in that God had not cleansed it), and so far as he
did not see truly what he thought he saw; (as for instance, in this
picture, under immediate consideration, when he paints the spark of
light in a crow's eye a hundred yards off, as if he were only painting a
miniature of a crow close by,)--he failed of his purpose and hope; but
how far I have neither the power nor the disposition to consider.

247. The school represented by Mr. Rossetti's picture and adopted for
his own by Mr. Holman Hunt, professed, necessarily, to be a learned one;
and to represent things which had happened long ago, in a manner
credible to any moderns who were interested in them. The value to us of
such a school necessarily depends on the things it chooses to represent,
out of the infinite history of mankind. For instance, David, of the
first Republican Academe, was a true master of this school; and,
painting the Horatii receiving their swords, foretold the triumph of
that Republican Power. Gérôme, of the latest Republican Academe, paints
the dying Polichinelle, and the _morituri_ gladiators: foretelling, in
like manner, the shame and virtual ruin of modern Republicanism. What
our own painters have done for us in this kind has been too unworthy of
their real powers, for Mr. Rossetti threw more than half his strength
into literature, and, in that precise measure, left himself unequal to
his appointed task in painting; while Mr. Hunt, not knowing the
necessity of masters any more than the rest of our painters, and
attaching too great importance to the externals of the life of Christ,
separated himself for long years from all discipline by the recognized
laws of his art; and fell into errors which wofully shortened his hand
and discredited his cause--into which again I hold it no part of my duty
to enter. But such works as either of these painters have done, without
antagonism or ostentation, and in their own true instincts; as all
Rossetti's drawing from the life of Christ, more especially that of the
Madonna gathering the bitter herbs for the Passover when He was twelve
years old; and that of the Magdalen leaving her companions to come to
Him; these, together with all the mythic scenes which he painted from
the _Vita Nuova_ and _Paradiso_ of Dante, are of quite imperishable
power and value: as also many of the poems to which he gave up part of
his painter's strength. Of Holman Hunt's "Light of the World," and
"Awakening Conscience," I have publicly spoken and written, now for many
years, as standard in their kind: the study of sunset on the Egean,
lately placed by me in the schools of Oxford, is not less authoritative
in landscape, so far as its aim extends.

248. But the School represented by the third painting, "The Bridal," is
that into which the greatest masters of _all_ ages are gathered, and in
which they are walled round as in Elysian fields, unapproachable but by
the reverent and loving souls, in some sort already among the Dead.

They interpret to those of us who can read them, so far as they already
see and know, the things that are forever. "Charity never faileth; but
whether there be prophecies, they shall fail--tongues, they shall
cease--knowledge, it shall vanish."

And the one message they bear to us is the commandment of the Eternal
Charity. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with _all_ thine heart, and
thy neighbor as thyself." As thyself--no more, even the dearest of

"Therefore let every man see that he love his wife even as himself."

No more--else she has become an idol, not a fellow-servant; a creature
between us and our Master.

And they teach us that what higher creatures exist between Him and us,
we are also bound to know, and to love in their place and state, as
they ascend and descend on the stairs of their watch and ward.

The principal masters of this faithful religious school in painting,
known to me, are Giotto, Angelico, Sandro Botticelli, Filippo Lippi,
Luini, and Carpaccio; but for a central illustration of their mind, I
take that piece of work by the sculptor of Quercia,[48] of which some
shadow of representation, true to an available degree, is within reach
of my reader.

249. This sculpture is central in every respect; being the last
Florentine work in which the proper form of the Etruscan tomb is
preserved, and the first in which all right Christian sentiment
respecting death is embodied. It is perfectly severe in classical
tradition, and perfectly frank in concession to the passions of existing
life. It submits to all the laws of the past, and expresses all the
hopes of the future.

Now every work of the great Christian schools expresses primarily,
conquest over death; conquest not grievous, but absolute and serene;
rising with the greatest of them, into rapture.

But this, as a _central_ work, has all the peace of the Christian
Eternity, but only in part its gladness. Young children wreathe round
the tomb a garland of abundant flowers, but she herself, Ilaria, yet
sleeps; the time is not yet come for her to be awakened out of sleep.

Her image is a simple portrait of her--how much less beautiful than she
was in life, we cannot know--but as beautiful as marble can be.

And through and in the marble we may see that the damsel is not dead,
but sleepeth: yet as visibly a sleep that shall know no ending until
the last day break, and the last shadow flee away; until then, she
"shall not return." Her hands are laid on her breast--not praying--she
has no need to pray now. She wears her dress of every day, clasped at
her throat, girdled at her waist, the hem of it drooping over her feet.
No disturbance of its folds by pain of sickness, no binding, no
shrouding of her sweet form, in death more than in life. As a soft, low
wave of summer sea, her breast rises; no more: the rippled gathering of
its close mantle droops to the belt, then sweeps to her feet, straight
as drifting snow. And at her feet her dog lies watching her; the mystery
of his mortal life joined, by love, to her immortal one.

Few know, and fewer love, the tomb and its place,--not shrine, for it
stands bare by the cathedral wall: only, by chance, a cross is cut deep
into one of the foundation stones behind her head. But no goddess statue
of the Greek cities, no nun's image among the cloisters of Apennine, no
fancied light of angel in the homes of heaven, has more divine rank
among the thoughts of men.

250. In so much as the reader can see of it, and learn, either by print
or cast, or beside it; (and he would do well to stay longer in that
transept than in the Tribune at Florence,) he may receive from it,
unerring canon of what is evermore Lovely and Right in the dealing of
the Art of Man with his fate, and his passions. Evermore _lovely_, and
_right_. These two virtues of visible things go always hand in hand: but
the workman is bound to assure himself of his Rightness first; then the
loveliness will come.

And primarily, from this sculpture, you are to learn what a "Master" is.
Here was one man at least, who knew his business, once upon a time!
Unaccusably;--none of your fool's heads or clown's hearts can find a
fault here! "Dog-fancier,[49] cobbler, tailor, or churl, look
here"--says Master Jacopo--"look! I know what a brute is, better than
you, I know what a silken tassel is--what a leathern belt is--Also,
what a woman is; and also--what a Law of God is, if you care to know."
This it is, to be a Master.

Then secondly--you are to note that with all the certain rightness of
its material fact, this sculpture still is the Sculpture of a Dream.
Ilaria is dressed as she was in life. But she never lay so on her
pillow! nor so, in her grave. Those straight folds, straightly laid as a
snowdrift, are impossible; known by the Master to be so--chiseled with a
hand as steady as an iron beam, and as true as a ray of light--in
defiance of your law of Gravity to the Earth. _That_ law prevailed on
her shroud, and prevails on her dust: but not on herself, nor on the
Vision of her.

Then thirdly, and lastly. You are to learn that the doing of a piece of
Art such as this is _possible_ to the hand of Man just in the measure of
his obedience to the laws which are indeed over his heart, and not over
his dust: primarily, as I have said, to that great one, "Thou shalt
_Love_ the Lord thy God." Which command is straight and clear; and all
men may obey it if they will,--so only that they be early taught to know

And that is precisely the piece of exact Science which is not taught at
present in our Board Schools--so that although my friend, with whom I
was staying, was not himself, in the modern sense, ill-educated; neither
did he conceive me to be so,--he yet thought it good for himself and me
to have that Inscription, "Lord, teach us to Pray," illuminated on the
house wall--if perchance either he or I could yet learn what John (when
he still had his head) taught _his_ Disciples.

251. But alas, for us only at last, among the people of all ages and in
all climes, the lesson has become too difficult; and the Father of all,
in every age, in every clime adored, is Rejected of science, as an
Outside Worker, in Cockneydom of the nineteenth century.

Rejected of Science: well; but not yet, not yet--by the men who can do,
as well as know. And though I have neither strength nor time, nor at
present the mind to go into any review of the work done by the Third and
chief School of our younger painters, headed by Burne Jones;[50] and
though I know its faults, palpable enough, like those of Turner, to the
poorest sight; and though I am discouraged in all its discouragements, I
still hold in fullness to the hope of it in which I wrote the close of
the third lecture I ever gave in Oxford--of which I will ask the reader
here in conclusion to weigh the words, set down in the days of my best
strength, so far as I know; and with the uttermost care given to that
inaugural Oxford work, to "speak only that which I did know."

252. "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' or

"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.

"And perfect the day shall be, when it is of all men understood that the
beauty of Holiness must be in labor as well as in rest. Nay! more, if it
may be, in labor; 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 labor 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."[51]


[44] "Vulgarly"; the use of the word "scientia," as if it differed from
"knowledge," being a modern barbarism; enhanced usually by the
assumption that the knowledge of the difference between acids and
alkalies is a more respectable one than that of the difference between
vice and virtue.

[45] _Modern Painters_, volume iii. I proceed in my old words, of which
I cannot better the substance, though--with all deference to the taste
of those who call that book my best--I could, the expression.

[46] The _third_ edition was published in 1846, while the Pre-Raphaelite
School was still in swaddling clothes.

[47] These essays were, "Recent Attacks on Political Economy," by Robert
Lowe, and "Virchow and Evolution," by Prof. Tyndall,--ED.

[48] James of Quercia: see the rank assigned to this master in _Ariadne
Florentina_. The best photographs of the monument are, I believe, those
published by the Arundel Society; of whom I would very earnestly request
that if ever they quote _Modern Painters_, they would not interpolate
its text with unmarked parentheses of modern information such as "emblem
of conjugal fidelity." I must not be made to answer for either the
rhythm or the contents of sentences thus manipulated.

[49] I foolishly, in _Modern Painters_, used the generic word "hound" to
make my sentence prettier. He is a flat-nosed bulldog.

[50] It would be utterly vain to attempt any general account of the
works of this painter, unless I were able also to give abstract of the
subtlest mythologies of Greek worship and Christian romance. Besides,
many of his best designs are pale pencil drawings like Florentine
engravings, of which the delicacy is literally invisible, and the manner
irksome, to a public trained among the black scrabblings of modern
wood-cutter's and etcher's prints. I will only say that the single
series of these pencil-drawings, from the story of Psyche, which I have
been able to place in the schools of Oxford, together with the two
colored beginnings from the stories of Jason and Alcestis, are, in my
estimate, quite the most precious gift, not excepting even the Loire
series of Turners, in the ratified acceptance of which my University has
honored with some fixed memorial the aims of her first Art-Teacher.

[51] _Lectures on Art_, §§ 95-6.--ED.

       *       *       *       *       *





(_Pamphlet, 1854._)


(_R.I.B.A. Transactions, 1865._)

       *       *       *       *       *


253. I read the account in the _Times_ newspaper of the opening of the
Crystal Palace at Sydenham as I ascended the hill between Vevay and
Chatel St. Denis, and the thoughts which it called up haunted me all day
long as my road wound among the grassy slopes of the Simmenthal. There
was a strange contrast between the image of that mighty palace, raised
so high above the hills on which it is built as to make them seem little
else than a basement for its glittering stateliness, and those lowland
huts, half hidden beneath their coverts of forest, and scattered like
gray stones along the masses of far-away mountain. Here man contending
with the power of Nature for his existence; there commanding them for
his recreation; here a feeble folk nested among the rocks with the wild
goat and the coney, and retaining the same quiet thoughts from
generation to generation; there a great multitude triumphing in the
splendor of immeasurable habitation, and haughty with hope of endless
progress and irresistible power.

254. It is indeed impossible to limit, in imagination, the beneficent
results which may follow from the undertaking thus happily begun.[53]
For the first time in the history of the world, a national museum is
formed in which a whole nation is interested; formed on a scale which
permits the exhibition of monuments of art in unbroken symmetry, and of
the productions of nature in unthwarted growth,--formed under the
auspices of science which can hardly err, and of wealth which can
hardly be exhausted; and placed in the close neighborhood of a
metropolis overflowing with a population weary of labor, yet thirsting
for knowledge, where contemplation may be consistent with rest, and
instruction with enjoyment. It is impossible, I repeat, to estimate the
influence of such an institution on the minds of the working-classes.
How many hours once wasted may now be profitably dedicated to pursuits
in which interest was first awakened by some accidental display in the
Norwood palace; how many constitutions, almost broken, may be restored
by the healthy temptation into the country air; how many intellects,
once dormant, may be roused into activity within the crystal walls, and
how these noble results may go on multiplying and increasing and bearing
fruit seventy times seven-fold, as the nation pursues its career,--are
questions as full of hope as incapable of calculation. But with all
these grounds for hope there are others for despondency, giving rise to
a group of melancholy thoughts, of which I can neither repress the
importunity nor forbear the expression.

255. For three hundred years, the art of architecture has been the
subject of the most curious investigation; its principles have been
discussed with all earnestness and acuteness; its models in all
countries and of all ages have been examined with scrupulous care, and
imitated with unsparing expenditure. And of all this refinement of
inquiry,--this lofty search after the ideal,--this subtlety of
investigation and sumptuousness of practice,--the great result, the
admirable and long-expected conclusion is, that in the center of the
19th century, we suppose ourselves to have invented a new style of
architecture, when we have magnified a conservatory!

256. In Mr. Laing's speech, at the opening of the palace, he declares
that "_an entirely novel order of architecture_, producing, by means of
unrivaled mechanical ingenuity, the most marvelous and beautiful
effects, sprang into existence to provide a building."[54] In these
words, the speaker is not merely giving utterance to his own feelings.
He is expressing the popular view of the facts, nor that a view merely
popular, but one which has been encouraged by nearly all the professors
of art of our time.

It is to this, then, that our Doric and Palladian pride is at last
reduced! We have vaunted the divinity of the Greek ideal--we have plumed
ourselves on the purity of our Italian taste--we have cast our whole
souls into the proportions of pillars and the relations of orders--and
behold the end! Our taste, thus exalted and disciplined, is dazzled by
the luster of a few rows of panes of glass; and the first principles of
architectural sublimity, so far sought, are found all the while to have
consisted merely in sparkling and in space.

Let it not be thought that I would depreciate (were it possible to
depreciate) the mechanical ingenuity which has been displayed in the
erection of the Crystal Palace, or that I underrate the effect which its
vastness may continue to produce on the popular imagination. But
mechanical ingenuity is _not_ the essence either of painting or
architecture, and largeness of dimension does not necessarily involve
nobleness of design. There is assuredly as much ingenuity required to
build a screw frigate, or a tubular bridge, as a hall of glass;--all
these are works characteristic of the age; and all, in their several
ways, deserve our highest admiration, but not admiration of the kind
that is rendered to poetry or to art. We may cover the German Ocean with
frigates, and bridge the Bristol Channel with iron, and roof the county
of Middlesex with crystal, and yet not possess one Milton, or Michael

257. Well, it may be replied, we need our bridges, and have pleasure in
our palaces; but we do not want Miltons, nor Michael Angelos.

Truly, it seems so; for, in the year in which the first Crystal Palace
was built, there died among us a man whose name, in after-ages, will
stand with those of the great of all time. Dying, he bequeathed to the
nation the whole mass of his most cherished works; and for these three
years, while we have been building this colossal receptacle for casts
and copies of the art of other nations, these works of our own greatest
painter have been left to decay in a dark room near Cavendish Square,
under the custody of an aged servant.

This is quite natural. But it is also memorable.

258. There is another interesting fact connected with the history of the
Crystal Palace as it bears on that of the art of Europe, namely, that in
the year 1851, when all that glittering roof was built, in order to
exhibit the paltry arts of our fashionable luxury--the carved bedsteads
of Vienna, and glued toys of Switzerland, and gay jewelry of France--in
that very year, I say, the greatest pictures of the Venetian masters
were rotting at Venice in the rain, for want of roof to cover them, with
holes made by cannon shot through their canvas.

There is another fact, however, more curious than either of these, which
will hereafter be connected with the history of the palace now in
building; namely, that at the very period when Europe is congratulated
on the invention of a new style of architecture, because fourteen acres
of ground have been covered with glass, the greatest examples in
existence of true and noble Christian architecture are being resolutely
destroyed, and destroyed by the effects of the very interest which was
beginning to be excited by them.

259. Under the firm and wise government of the third Napoleon, France
has entered on a new epoch of prosperity, one of the signs of which is a
zealous care for the preservation of her noble public buildings. Under
the influence of this healthy impulse, repairs of the most extensive
kind are at this moment proceeding, on the cathedrals of Rheims, Amiens,
Rouen, Chartres, and Paris; (probably also in many other instances
unknown to me). These repairs were, in many cases, necessary up to a
certain point; and they have been executed by architects as skillful and
learned as at present exist,--executed with noble disregard of expense,
and sincere desire on the part of their superintendents that they
should be completed in a manner honorable to the country.

260. They are, nevertheless, more fatal to the monuments they are
intended to preserve, than fire, war, or revolution. For they are
undertaken, in the plurality of instances, under an impression, which
the efforts of all true antiquaries have as yet been unable to remove,
that it is impossible to reproduce the mutilated sculpture of past ages
in its original beauty.

"Reproduire avec une exactitude mathematique," are the words used, by
one of the most intelligent writers on this subject,[55] of the proposed
regeneration of the statue of Ste. Modeste, on the north porch of the
Cathedral of Chartres.

Now it is not the question at present whether thirteenth century
sculpture be of value, or not. Its value is assumed by the authorities
who have devoted sums so large to its so-called restoration, and may
therefore be assumed in my argument. The worst state of the sculptures
whose restoration is demanded may be fairly represented by that of the
celebrated group of the Fates, among the Elgin Marbles in the British
Museum. With what favor would the guardians of those marbles, or any
other persons interested in Greek art, receive a proposal from a living
sculptor to "reproduce with mathematical exactitude" the group of the
Fates, in a perfect form, and to destroy the original? For with exactly
such favor, those who are interested in Gothic art should receive
proposals to reproduce the sculpture of Chartres or Rouen.

261. In like manner, the state of the architecture which it is proposed
to restore may, at its worst, be fairly represented to the British
public by that of the best preserved portions of Melrose Abbey. With
what encouragement would those among us who are sincerely interested in
history, or in art, receive a proposal to pull down Melrose Abbey, and
"reproduce it mathematically"? There can be no doubt of the answer
which, in the instances supposed, it would be proper to return. "By all
means, if you can, reproduce mathematically, elsewhere, the group of the
Fates, and the Abbey of Melrose. But leave unharmed the original
fragment, and the existing ruin."[56] And an answer of the same tenor
ought to be given to every proposal to restore a Gothic sculpture or
building. Carve or raise a model of it in some other part of the city;
but touch not the actual edifice, except only so far as may be necessary
to sustain, to protect it. I said above that repairs were in many
instances necessary. These necessary operations consist in substituting
new stones for decayed ones, where they are absolutely essential to the
stability of the fabric; in propping, with wood or metal, the portions
likely to give way; in binding or cementing into their places the
sculptures which are ready to detach themselves; and in general care to
remove luxuriant weeds and obstructions of the channels for the
discharge of the rain. But no modern or imitative sculpture ought
_ever_, under any circumstances, to be mingled with the ancient work.

262. Unfortunately, repairs thus conscientiously executed are always
unsightly, and meet with little approbation from the general public; so
that a strong temptation is necessarily felt by the superintendents of
public works to execute the required repairs in a manner which, though
indeed fatal to the monument, may be, in appearance, seemly. But a far
more cruel temptation is held out to the architect. He who should
propose to a municipal body to build in the form of a new church, to be
erected in some other part of their city, models of such portions of
their cathedral as were falling into decay, would be looked upon as
merely asking for employment, and his offer would be rejected with
disdain. But let an architect declare that the existing fabric stands in
need of repairs, and offer to restore it to its original beauty, and he
is instantly regarded as a lover of his country, and has a chance of
obtaining a commission which will furnish him with a large and ready
income, and enormous patronage, for twenty or thirty years to come.

263. I have great respect for human nature. But I would rather leave it
to others than myself to pronounce how far such a temptation is always
likely to be resisted, and how far, when repairs are once permitted to
be undertaken, a fabric is likely to be spared from mere interest in its
beauty, when its destruction, under the name of restoration, has become
permanently remunerative to a large body of workmen.

Let us assume, however, that the architect is always
conscientious--always willing, the moment he has done what is strictly
necessary for the safety and decorous aspect of the building, to abandon
his income, and declare his farther services unnecessary. Let us
presume, also, that every one of the two or three hundred workmen who
must be employed under him is equally conscientious, and, during the
course of years of labor, will never destroy in carelessness what it may
be inconvenient to save, or in cunning what it is difficult to imitate.
Will all this probity of purpose preserve the hand from error, and the
heart from weariness? Will it give dexterity to the awkward--sagacity to
the dull--and at once invest two or three hundred imperfectly educated
men with the feeling, intention, and information of the freemasons of
the thirteenth century? Grant that it can do all this, and that the new
building is both equal to the old in beauty, and precisely correspondent
to it in detail. Is it, therefore, altogether _worth_ the old building?
Is the stone carved to-day in their masons' yards altogether the same in
value to the hearts of the French people as that which the eyes of St.
Louis saw lifted to its place? Would a loving daughter, in mere desire
for gaudy dress, ask a jeweler for a bright fac-simile of the worn cross
which her mother bequeathed to her on her deathbed?--would a thoughtful
nation, in mere fondness for splendor of streets, ask its architects to
provide for it fac-similes of the temples which for centuries had given
joy to its saints, comfort to its mourners, and strength to its

264. But it may be replied, that all this is already admitted by the
antiquaries of France and England; and that it is impossible that works
so important should now be undertaken with due consideration and
faithful superintendence.

I answer, that the men who justly feel these truths are rarely those who
have much influence in public affairs. It is the poor abbé, whose little
garden is sheltered by the mighty buttresses from the north wind, who
knows the worth of the cathedral. It is the bustling mayor and the
prosperous architect who determine its fate.

I answer farther, by the statement of a simple fact. I have given many
years, in many cities, to the study of Gothic architecture; and of all
that I know, or knew, the entrance to the north transept of Rouen
Cathedral was, on the whole, the most beautiful--beautiful, not only as
an elaborate and faultless work of the finest time of Gothic art, but
yet more beautiful in the partial, though not dangerous, decay which had
touched its pinnacles with pensive coloring, and softened its severer
lines with unexpected change and delicate fracture, like sweet breaks in
a distant music. The upper part of it has been already restored to the
white accuracies of novelty; the lower pinnacles, which flanked its
approach, far more exquisite in their partial ruin than the loveliest
remains of our English abbeys, have been entirely destroyed, and rebuilt
in rough blocks, now in process of sculpture. This restoration, so far
as it has gone, has been executed by peculiarly skillful workmen; it is
an unusually favorable example of restoration, especially in the care
which has been taken to preserve intact the exquisite, and hitherto
almost uninjured sculptures which fill the quatrefoils of the tracery
above the arch. But I happened myself to have made, five years ago,
detailed drawings of the buttress decorations on the right and left of
this tracery, which are part of the work that has been completely
restored. And I found the restorations as inaccurate as they were

265. If this is the case in a most favorable instance, in that of a
well-known monument, highly esteemed by every antiquary in France, what,
during the progress of the now almost universal repair, is likely to
become of architecture which is unwatched and despised?

Despised! and more than despised--even hated! It is a sad truth, that
there is something in the solemn aspect of ancient architecture which,
in rebuking frivolity and chastening gayety, has become at this time
literally _repulsive_ to a large majority of the population of Europe.
Examine the direction which is taken by all the influences of fortune
and of fancy, wherever they concern themselves with art, and it will be
found that the real, earnest effort of the upper classes of European
society is to make every place in the world as much like the Champs
Elysées of Paris as possible. Wherever the influence of that educated
society is felt, the old buildings are relentlessly destroyed; vast
hotels, like barracks, and rows of high, square-windowed
dwelling-houses, thrust themselves forward to conceal the hated
antiquities of the great cities of France and Italy. Gay promenades,
with fountains and statues, prolong themselves along the quays once
dedicated to commerce; ball-rooms and theaters rise upon the dust of
desecrated chapels, and thrust into darkness the humility of domestic
life. And when the formal street, in all its pride of perfumery and
confectionery, has successfully consumed its way through wrecks of
historical monuments, and consummated its symmetry in the ruin of all
that once prompted a reflection, or pleaded for regard, the whitened
city is praised for its splendor, and the exulting inhabitants for their
patriotism--patriotism which consists in insulting their fathers with
forgetfulness, and surrounding their children with temptation.

266. I am far from intending my words to involve any disrespectful
allusion to the very noble improvements in the city of Paris itself,
lately carried out under the encouragement of the Emperor. Paris, in its
own peculiar character of bright magnificence, had nothing to fear, and
everything to gain, from the gorgeous prolongation of the Rue Rivoli.
But I speak of the general influence of the rich travelers and
proprietors of Europe on the cities which they pretend to admire, or
endeavor to improve. I speak of the changes wrought during my own
lifetime on the cities of Venice, Florence, Geneva, Lucerne, and chief
of all on Rouen, a city altogether inestimable for its retention of
mediæval character in the infinitely varied streets in which one half of
the existing and inhabited houses date from the 15th or early 16th
century, and the only town left in France in which the effect of old
French domestic architecture can yet be seen in its collective groups.
But when I was there, this last spring, I heard that these noble old
Norman houses are all, as speedily as may be, to be stripped of the dark
slates which protected their timbers, and deliberately whitewashed over
all their sculptures and ornaments, in order to bring the interior of
the town into some conformity with the "handsome fronts" of the hotels
and offices on the quay.

Hotels and offices, and "handsome fronts" in general--they can be built
in America or Australia--built at any moment, and in any height of
splendor. But who shall give us back, when once destroyed, the
habitations of the French chivalry and bourgeoisie in the days of the
Field of the Cloth of Gold?

267. It is strange that no one seems to think of this! What do men
travel for, in this Europe of ours? Is it only to gamble with French
dies--to drink coffee out of French porcelain--to dance to the beat of
German drums, and sleep in the soft air of Italy? Are the ball-room, the
billiard-room, and the Boulevard, the only attractions that win us into
wandering, or tempt us to repose? And when the time is come, as come it
will, and that shortly, when the parsimony--or lassitude--which, for the
most part, are the only protectors of the remnants of elder time, shall
be scattered by the advance of civilization--when all the monuments,
preserved only because it was too costly to destroy them, shall have
been crushed by the energies of the new world, will the proud nations of
the twentieth century, looking round on the plains of Europe,
disencumbered of their memorial marbles,--will those nations indeed
stand up with no other feeling than one of triumph, freed from the
paralysis of precedent and the entanglement of memory, to thank us, the
fathers of progress, that no saddening shadows can any more trouble the
enjoyments of the future,--no moments of reflection retard its
activities; and that the new-born population of a world without a record
and without a ruin may, in the fullness of ephemeral felicity, dispose
itself to eat, and to drink, and to die?

268. Is this verily the end at which we aim, and will the mission of the
age have been then only accomplished, when the last castle has fallen
from our rocks, the last cloisters faded from our valleys, the last
streets, in which the dead have dwelt, been effaced from our cities, and
regenerated society is left in luxurious possession of towns composed
only of bright saloons, overlooking gay parterres? If this indeed be our
end, yet why must it be so laboriously accomplished? Are there no new
countries on the earth, as yet uncrowned by thorns of cathedral spires,
untenanted by the consciousness of a past? Must this little Europe--this
corner of our globe, gilded with the blood of old battles, and gray with
the temples of old pieties--this narrow piece of the world's pavement,
worn down by so many pilgrims' feet, be utterly swept and garnished for
the masque of the Future? Is America not wide enough for the
elasticities of our humanity? Asia not rich enough for its pride? or
among the quiet meadowlands and solitary hills of the old land, is there
not yet room enough for the spreadings of power, or the indulgences of
magnificence, without founding all glory upon ruin, and prefacing all
progress with obliteration?

269. We must answer these questions speedily, or we answer them in vain.
The peculiar character of the evil which is being wrought by this age is
its utter irreparableness. Its newly formed schools of art, its
extending galleries, and well-ordered museums will assuredly bear some
fruit in time, and give once more to the popular mind the power to
discern what is great, and the disposition to protect what is precious.
But it will be too late. We shall wander through our palaces of
crystal, gazing sadly on copies of pictures torn by cannon-shot, and on
casts of sculpture dashed to pieces long ago. We shall gradually learn
to distinguish originality and sincerity from the decrepitudes of
imitation and palsies of repetition; but it will be only in hopelessness
to recognize the truth, that architecture and painting can be "restored"
when the dead can be raised,--and not till then.

270. Something might yet be done, if it were but possible thoroughly to
awaken and alarm the men whose studies of archæology have enabled them
to form an accurate judgment of the importance of the crisis. But it is
one of the strange characters of the human mind, necessary indeed to its
peace, but infinitely destructive of its power, that we never thoroughly
feel the evils which are not actually set before our eyes. If, suddenly,
in the midst of the enjoyments of the palate and lightnesses of heart of
a London dinner-party, the walls of the chamber were parted, and through
their gap, the nearest human beings who were famishing, and in misery,
were borne into the midst of the company--feasting and fancy-free--if,
pale with sickness, horrible in destitution, broken by despair, body by
body, they were laid upon the soft carpet, one beside the chair of every
guest, would only the crumbs of the dainties be cast to them--would only
a passing glance, a passing thought be vouchsafed to them? Yet the
actual facts, the real relations of each Dives and Lazarus, are not
altered by the intervention of the house wall between the table and the
sick-bed--by the few feet of ground (how few!) which are indeed all that
separate the merriment from the misery.

271. It is the same in the matters of which I have hitherto been
speaking. If every one of us, who knows what food for the human heart
there is in the great works of elder time, could indeed see with his own
eyes their progressive ruin; if every earnest antiquarian, happy in his
well-ordered library, and in the sense of having been useful in
preserving an old stone or two out of his parish church, and an old coin
or two out of a furrow in the next plowed field, could indeed behold,
each morning as he awaked, the mightiest works of departed nations
moldering to the ground in disregarded heaps; if he could always have in
clear phantasm before his eyes the ignorant monk trampling on the
manuscript, the village mason striking down the monument, the court
painter daubing the despised and priceless masterpiece into freshness of
fatuity, he would not always smile so complacently in the thoughts of
the little learnings and petty preservations of his own immediate
sphere. And if every man, who has the interest of Art and of History at
heart, would at once devote himself earnestly--not to enrich his own
collection--not even to enlighten his own neighbors or investigate his
own parish-territory--but to far-sighted and _fore_-sighted endeavor in
the great field of Europe, there is yet time to do much. An association
might be formed, thoroughly organized so as to maintain active watchers
and agents in every town of importance, who, in the first place, should
furnish the society with a _perfect_ account of every monument of
interest in its neighborhood, and then with a yearly or half-yearly
report of the state of such monuments, and of the changes proposed to be
made upon them; the society then furnishing funds, either to buy,
freehold, such buildings or other works of untransferable art as at any
time might be offered for sale, or to assist their proprietors, whether
private individuals or public bodies, in the maintenance of such
guardianship as was really necessary for their safety; and exerting
itself, with all the influence which such an association would rapidly
command, to prevent unwise restoration and unnecessary destruction.

272. Such a society would of course be rewarded only by the
consciousness of its usefulness. Its funds would have to be supplied, in
pure self-denial, by its members, who would be required, so far as they
assisted it, to give up the pleasure of purchasing prints or pictures
for their own walls, that they might save pictures which in their
lifetime they might never behold; they would have to forego the
enlargement of their own estates, that they might buy, for a European
property, ground on which their feet might never tread. But is it absurd
to believe that men are capable of doing this? Is the love of art
altogether a selfish principle in the heart? and are its emotions
altogether incompatible with the exertions of self-denial or enjoyments
of generosity?

273. I make this appeal at the risk of incurring only contempt for my
Utopianism. But I should forever reproach myself if I were prevented
from making it by such a risk; and I pray those who may be disposed in
any wise to favor it to remember that it must be answered at once or
never. The next five years determine what is to be saved--what
destroyed. The restorations have actually begun like cancers on every
important piece of Gothic architecture in Christendom; the question is
only how much can yet be saved. All projects, all pursuits, having
reference to art, are at this moment of less importance than those which
are simply protective. There is time enough for everything else. Time
enough for teaching--time enough for criticising--time enough for
inventing. But time little enough for saving. Hereafter we can create,
but it is now only that we can preserve. By the exertion of great
national powers, and under the guidance of enlightened monarchs, we may
raise magnificent temples and gorgeous cities; we may furnish labor for
the idle, and interest for the ignorant. But the power neither of
emperors, nor queens, nor kingdoms, can ever print again upon the sands
of time the effaced footsteps of departed generations, or gather
together from the dust the stones which had been stamped with the spirit
of our ancestors.


274. I suppose there is no man who, permitted to address, for the first
time, the Institute of British Architects, would not feel himself
abashed and restrained, doubtful of his claim to be heard by them, even
if he attempted only to describe what had come under his personal
observation, much more if on the occasion he thought it would be
expected of him to touch upon any of the general principles of the art
of architecture before its principal English masters.

But if any more than another should feel thus abashed, it is certainly
one who has first to ask their pardon for the petulance of boyish
expressions of partial thought; for ungraceful advocacy of principles
which needed no support from him, and discourteous blame of work of
which he had never felt the difficulty.

275. Yet, when I ask this pardon, gentlemen--and I do it sincerely and
in shame--it is not as desiring to retract anything in the general tenor
and scope of what I have hitherto tried to say. Permit me the pain, and
the apparent impertinence, of speaking for a moment of my own past work;
for it is necessary that what I am about to submit to you to-night
should be spoken in no disadvantageous connection with that; and yet
understood as spoken, in no discordance of purpose with that. Indeed
there is much in old work of mine which I could wish to put out of mind.
Reasonings, perhaps not in themselves false, but founded on
insufficient data and imperfect experience--eager preferences, and
dislikes, dependent on chance circumstances of association, and
limitations of sphere of labor: but, while I would fain now, if I could,
modify the applications, and chasten the extravagance of my writings,
let me also say of them that they were the expression of a delight in
the art of architecture which was too intense to be vitally deceived,
and of an inquiry too honest and eager to be without some useful result;
and I only wish I had now time, and strength and power of mind, to carry
on, more worthily, the main endeavor of my early work. That main
endeavor has been throughout to set forth the life of the individual
human spirit as modifying the application of the formal laws of
architecture, no less than of all other arts; and to show that the power
and advance of this art, even in conditions of formal nobleness, were
dependent on its just association with sculpture as a means of
expressing the beauty of natural forms: and I the more boldly ask your
permission to insist somewhat on this main meaning of my past work,
because there are many buildings now rising in the streets of London, as
in other cities of England, which appear to be designed in accordance
with this principle, and which are, I believe, more offensive to all who
thoughtfully concur with me in accepting the principle of Naturalism
than they are to the classical architect to whose modes of design they
are visibly antagonistic. These buildings, in which the mere cast of a
flower, or the realization of a vulgar face, carved without pleasure by
a workman who is only endeavoring to attract attention by novelty, and
then fastened on, or appearing to be fastened, as chance may dictate, to
an arch, or a pillar, or a wall, hold such relation to nobly
naturalistic architecture as common sign-painter's furniture landscapes
do to painting, or commonest wax-work to Greek sculpture; and the
feelings with which true naturalists regard such buildings of this class
are, as nearly as might be, what a painter would experience, if, having
contended earnestly against conventional schools, and having asserted
that Greek vase-painting and Egyptian wall-painting, and Mediæval
glass-painting, though beautiful, all, in their place and way, were yet
subordinate arts, and culminated only in perfectly naturalistic work
such as Raphael's in fresco, and Titian's on canvas;--if, I say, a
painter, fixed in such faith in an entire, intellectual and manly truth,
and maintaining that an Egyptian profile of a head, however decoratively
applicable, was only noble for such human truth as it contained, and was
imperfect and ignoble beside a work of Titian's, were shown, by his
antagonist, the colored daguerreotype of a human body in its nakedness,
and told that it was art such as that which he really advocated, and to
such art that his principles, if carried out, would finally lead.

276. And because this question lies at the very root of the organization
of the system of instruction for our youth, I venture boldly to express
the surprise and regret with which I see our schools still agitated by
assertions of the opposition of Naturalism to Invention, and to the
higher conditions of art. Even in this very room I believe there has
lately been question whether a sculptor should look at a real living
creature of which he had to carve the image. I would answer in one
sense,--no; that is to say, he ought to carve no living creature while
he still needs to look at it. If we do not know what a human body is
like, we certainly had better look, and look often, at it, before we
carve it; but if we already know the human likeness so well that we can
carve it by light of memory, we shall not need to ask whether we ought
now to look at it or not; and what is true of man is true of all other
creatures and organisms--of bird, and beast, and leaf. No assertion is
more at variance with the laws of classical as well as of subsequent art
than the common one that species should not be distinguished in great
design. We might as well say that we ought to carve a man so as not to
know him from an ape, as that we should carve a lily so as not to know
it from a thistle. It is difficult for me to conceive how this can be
asserted in the presence of any remains either of great Greek or Italian
art. A Greek looked at a cockle-shell or a cuttlefish as carefully as
he looked at an Olympic conqueror. The eagle of Elis, the lion of Velia,
the horse of Syracuse, the bull of Thurii, the dolphin of Tarentum, the
crab of Agrigentum, and the crawfish of Catana, are studied as closely,
every one of them, as the Juno of Argos, or Apollo of Clazomenæ.
Idealism, so far from being contrary to special truth, is the very
abstraction of speciality from everything else. It is the earnest
statement of the characters which make man man, and cockle cockle, and
flesh flesh, and fish fish. Feeble thinkers, indeed, always suppose that
distinction of kind involves meanness of style; but the meanness is in
the treatment, not in the distinction. There is a noble way of carving a
man, and a mean one; and there is a noble way of carving a beetle, and a
mean one; and a great sculptor carves his scarabæus grandly, as he
carves his king, while a mean sculptor makes vermin of both. And it is a
sorrowful truth, yet a sublime one, that this greatness of treatment
cannot be taught by talking about it. No, nor even by enforced imitative
practice of it. Men treat their subjects nobly only when they themselves
become noble; not till then. And that elevation of their own nature is
assuredly not to be effected by a course of drawing from models, however
well chosen, or of listening to lectures, however well intended.

Art, national or individual, is the result of a long course of previous
life and training; a necessary result, if that life has been loyal, and
an impossible one, if it has been base. Let a nation be healthful,
happy, pure in its enjoyments, brave in its acts, and broad in its
affections, and its art will spring round and within it as freely as the
foam from a fountain; but let the spring of its life be impure, and its
course polluted, and you will not get the bright spray by treatises on
the mathematical structure of bubbles.

277. And I am to-night the more restrained in addressing you, because,
gentlemen--I tell you honestly--I am weary of all writing and speaking
about art, and most of my own. No good is to be reached that way. The
last fifty years have, in every civilized country of Europe, produced
more brilliant thought, and more subtle reasoning about art than the
five thousand before them, and what has it all come to? Do not let it be
thought that I am insensible to the high merits of much of our modern
work. It cannot be for a moment supposed that in speaking of the
inefficient expression of the doctrines which writers on art have tried
to enforce, I was thinking of such Gothic as has been designed and built
by Mr. Scott, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Street, Mr. Waterhouse, Mr. Godwin,
or my dead friend, Mr. Woodward. Their work has been original and
independent. So far as it is good, it has been founded on principles
learned not from books, but by study of the monuments of the great
schools, developed by national grandeur, not by philosophical
speculation. But I am entirely assured that those who have done best
among us are the least satisfied with what they have done, and will
admit a sorrowful concurrence in my belief that the spirit, or rather, I
should say, the dispirit, of the age, is heavily against them; that all
the ingenious writing or thinking which is so rife amongst us has failed
to educate a public capable of taking true pleasure in any kind of art,
and that the best designers never satisfy their own requirements of
themselves, unless by vainly addressing another temper of mind, and
providing for another manner of life, than ours. All lovely architecture
was designed for cities in cloudless air; for cities in which piazzas
and gardens opened in bright populousness and peace; cities built that
men might live happily in them, and take delight daily in each other's
presence and powers. But our cities, built in black air which, by its
accumulated foulness, first renders all ornament invisible in distance,
and then chokes its interstices with soot; cities which are mere crowded
masses of store, and warehouse, and counter, and are therefore to the
rest of the world what the larder and cellar are to a private house;
cities in which the object of men is not life, but labor; and in which
all chief magnitude of edifice is to inclose machinery; cities in which
the streets are not the avenues for the passing and procession of a
happy people, but the drains for the discharge of a tormented mob, in
which the only object in reaching any spot is to be transferred to
another; in which existence becomes mere transition, and every creature
is only one atom in a drift of human dust, and current of interchanging
particles, circulating here by tunnels underground, and there by tubes
in the air; for a city, or cities, such as this no architecture is
possible--nay, no desire of it is possible to their inhabitants.

278. One of the most singular proofs of the vanity of all hope that
conditions of art may be combined with the occupations of such a city,
has been given lately in the design of the new iron bridge over the
Thames at Blackfriars. Distinct attempt has been there made to obtain
architectural effect on a grand scale. Nor was there anything in the
nature of the work to prevent such an effort being successful. It is not
edifices, being of iron, or of glass, or thrown into new forms, demanded
by new purposes, which need hinder its being beautiful. But it is the
absence of all desire of beauty, of all joy in fancy, and of all freedom
in thought. If a Greek, or Egyptian, or Gothic architect had been
required to design such a bridge, he would have looked instantly at the
main conditions of its structure, and dwelt on them with the delight of
imagination. He would have seen that the main thing to be done was to
hold a horizontal group of iron rods steadily and straight over stone
piers. Then he would have said to himself (or felt without saying), "It
is this holding,--this grasp,--this securing tenor of a thing which
might be shaken, so that it cannot be shaken, on which I have to
insist." And he would have put some life into those iron tenons. As a
Greek put human life into his pillars and produced the caryatid; and an
Egyptian lotus life into his pillars and produced the lily capital: so
here, either of them would have put some gigantic or some angelic life
into those colossal sockets. He would perhaps have put vast winged
statues of bronze, folding their wings, and grasping the iron rails with
their hands; or monstrous eagles, or serpents holding with claw or
coil, or strong four-footed animals couchant, holding with the paw, or
in fierce action, holding with teeth. Thousands of grotesque or of
lovely thoughts would have risen before him, and the bronze forms,
animal or human, would have signified, either in symbol or in legend,
whatever might be gracefully told respecting the purposes of the work
and the districts to which it conducted. Whereas, now, the entire
invention of the designer seems to have exhausted itself in exaggerating
to an enormous size a weak form of iron nut, and in conveying the
information upon it, in large letters, that it belongs to the London,
Chatham, and Dover Railway Company. I believe then, gentlemen, that if
there were any life in the national mind in such respects, it would be
shown in these its most energetic and costly works. But that there is no
such life, nothing but a galvanic restlessness and covetousness, with
which it is for the present vain to strive; and in the midst of which,
tormented at once by its activities and its apathies, having their work
continually thrust aside and dishonored, always seen to disadvantage,
and overtopped by huge masses, discordant and destructive, even the best
architects must be unable to do justice to their own powers.

279. But, gentlemen, while thus the mechanisms of the age prevent even
the wisest and best of its artists from producing entirely good work,
may we not reflect with consternation what a marvelous ability the
luxury of the age, and the very advantages of education, confer on the
unwise and ignoble for the production of attractively and infectiously
_bad_ work? I do not think that this adverse influence, necessarily
affecting all conditions of so-called civilization, has been ever enough
considered. It is impossible to calculate the power of the false workman
in an advanced period of national life, nor the temptation to all
workmen, to _become_ false.

280. First, there is the irresistible appeal to vanity. There is hardly
any temptation of the kind (there cannot be) while the arts are in
progress. The best men must then always be ashamed of themselves; they
never can be satisfied with their work absolutely, but only as it is
progressive. Take, for instance, any archaic head intended to be
beautiful; say, the Attic Athena, or the early Arethusa of Syracuse. In
that, and in all archaic work of promise, there is much that is
inefficient, much that to us appears ridiculous--but nothing sensual,
nothing vain, nothing spurious or imitative. It is a child's work, a
childish nation's work, but not a fool's work. You find in children the
same tolerance of ugliness, the same eager and innocent delight in their
own work for the moment, however feeble; but next day it is thrown
aside, and something better is done. Now, in this careless play, a child
or a childish nation differs inherently from a foolish educated person,
or a nation advanced in pseudo-civilization. The educated person has
seen all kinds of beautiful things, of which he would fain do the
like--not to add to their number--but for his own vanity, that he also
may be called an artist. Here is at once a singular and fatal
difference. The childish nation sees nothing in its own past work to
satisfy itself. It is pleased at having done this, but wants something
better; it is struggling forward always to reach this better, this ideal
conception. It wants more beauty to look at, it wants more subject to
feel. It calls out to all its artists--stretching its hands to them as a
little child does--"Oh, if you would but tell me another story,"--"Oh,
if I might but have a doll with bluer eyes." That's the right temper to
work in, and to get work done for you in. But the vain, aged,
highly-educated nation is satiated with beautiful things--it has myriads
more than it can look at; it has fallen into a habit of inattention; it
passes weary and jaded through galleries which contain the best fruit of
a thousand years of human travail; it gapes and shrugs over them, and
pushes its way past them to the door.

281. But there is one feeling that is always distinct; however jaded and
languid we may be in all other pleasures, we are never languid in
vanity, and we would still paint and carve for fame. What other motive
have the nations of Europe to-day? If they wanted art for art's sake
they would take care of what they have already got. But at this instant
the two noblest pictures in Venice are lying rolled up in outhouses, and
the noblest portrait of Titian in existence is hung forty feet from the
ground. We have absolutely no motive but vanity and the love of
money--no others, as nations, than these, whatever we may have as
individuals. And as the thirst of vanity thus increases, so the
temptation to it. There was no fame of artists in these archaic days.
Every year, every hour, saw someone rise to surpass what had been done
before. And there was always better work to be done, but never any
credit to be got by it. The artist lived in an atmosphere of perpetual,
wholesome, inevitable eclipse. Do as well as you choose to-day,--make
the whole Borgo dance with delight, they would dance to a better man's
pipe to-morrow. _Credette Cimabue nella pittura, tener lo campo, et ora
ha Giotto il grido._ This was the fate, the necessary fate, even of the
strongest. They could only hope to be remembered as links in an endless
chain. For the weaker men it was no use even to put their name on their
works. They did not. If they could not work for joy and for love, and
take their part simply in the choir of human toil, they might throw up
their tools. But now it is far otherwise--now, the best having been
done--and for a couple of hundred years, the best of us being confessed
to have come short of it, everybody thinks that he may be the great man
once again, and this is certain, that whatever in art is done for
display, is invariably wrong.

282. But, secondly, consider the attractive power of false art,
completed, as compared with imperfect art advancing to completion.
Archaic work, so far as faultful, is repulsive, but advanced work is, in
all its faults, attractive. The moment that art has reached the point at
which it becomes sensitively and delicately imitative, it appeals to a
new audience. From that instant it addresses the sensualist and the
idler. Its deceptions, its successes, its subtleties, become interesting
to every condition of folly, of frivolity, and of vice. And this new
audience brings to bear upon the art in which its foolish and wicked
interest has been unhappily awakened, the full power of its riches: the
largest bribes of gold as well as of praise are offered to the artist
who will betray his art, until at last, from the sculpture of Phidias
and fresco of Luini, it sinks into the cabinet ivory and the picture
kept under lock and key. Between these highest and lowest types, there
is a vast mass of merely imitative and delicately sensual
sculpture;--veiled nymphs--chained slaves--soft goddesses seen by
roselight through suspended curtains--drawing room portraits and
domesticities, and such like, in which the interest is either merely
personal and selfish, or dramatic and sensational; in either case,
destructive of the power of the public to sympathize with the aims of
great architects.

283. Gentlemen,--I am no Puritan, and have never praised or advocated
puritanical art. The two pictures which I would last part with out of
our National Gallery, if there were question of parting with any, would
be Titian's Bacchus and Correggio's Venus. But the noble naturalism of
these was the fruit of ages of previous courage, continence, and
religion--it was the fullness of passion in the life of a Britomart. But
the mid-age and old age of nations is not like the mid-age or old age of
noble women. National decrepitude must be criminal. National death can
only be by disease, and yet it is almost impossible, out of the history
of the art of nations, to elicit the true conditions relating to its
decline in any demonstrable manner. The history of Italian art is that
of a struggle between superstition and naturalism on one side, between
continence and sensuality on another. So far as naturalism prevailed
over superstition, there is always progress; so far as sensuality over
chastity, death. And the two contests are simultaneous. It is impossible
to distinguish one victory from the other. Observe, however, I say
victory over superstition, not over religion. Let me carefully define
the difference. Superstition, in all times and among all nations, is the
fear of a spirit whose passions are those of a man, whose acts are the
acts of a man; who is present in some places, not in others; who makes
some places holy and not others; who is kind to one person, unkind to
another; who is pleased or angry according to the degree of attention
you pay to him, or praise you refuse to him; who is hostile generally to
human pleasure, but may be bribed by sacrifice of a part of that
pleasure into permitting the rest. This, whatever form of faith it
colors, is the essence of superstition. And religion is the belief in a
Spirit whose mercies are over all His works--who is kind even to the
unthankful and the evil; who is everywhere present, and therefore is in
no place to be sought, and in no place to be evaded; to whom all
creatures, times, and things are everlastingly holy, and who claims--not
tithes of wealth, nor sevenths of days--but all the wealth that we have,
and all the days that we live, and all the beings that we are, but who
claims that totality because He delights only in the delight of His
creatures; and because, therefore, the one duty that they owe to Him,
and the only service they can render Him, is to be happy. A Spirit,
therefore, whose eternal benevolence cannot be angered, cannot be
appeased; whose laws are everlasting and inexorable, so that heaven and
earth must indeed pass away if one jot of them failed: laws which attach
to every wrong and error a measured, inevitable penalty; to every
rightness and prudence, an assured reward; penalty, of which the
remittance cannot be purchased; and reward, of which the promise cannot
be broken.

284. And thus, in the history of art, we ought continually to endeavor
to distinguish (while, except in broadest lights, it is impossible to
distinguish) the work of religion from that of superstition, and the
work of reason from that of infidelity. Religion devotes the artist,
hand and mind, to the service of the gods; superstition makes him the
slave of ecclesiastical pride, or forbids his work altogether, in terror
or disdain. Religion perfects the form of the divine statue,
superstition distorts it into ghastly grotesque. Religion contemplates
the gods as the lords of healing and life, surrounds them with glory of
affectionate service, and festivity of pure human beauty. Superstition
contemplates its idols as lords of death, appeases them with blood, and
vows itself to them in torture and solitude. Religion proselytes by
love, superstition by war; religion teaches by example, superstition by
persecution. Religion gave granite shrine to the Egyptian, golden temple
to the Jew, sculptured corridor to the Greek, pillared aisle and
frescoed wall to the Christian. Superstition made idols of the splendors
by which Religion had spoken: reverenced pictures and stones, instead of
truths; letters and laws, instead of acts, and forever, in various
madness of fantastic desolation, kneels in the temple while it crucifies
the Christ.

285. On the other hand, to reason resisting superstition, we owe the
entire compass of modern energies and sciences; the healthy laws of
life, and the possibilities of future progress. But to infidelity
resisting religion (or which is often enough the case, taking the mask
of it), we owe sensuality, cruelty, and war, insolence and avarice,
modern political economy, life by conservation of forces, and salvation
by every man's looking after his own interest; and, generally,
whatsoever of guilt, and folly, and death, there is abroad among us. And
of the two, a thousand-fold rather let us retain some color of
superstition, so that we may keep also some strength of religion, than
comfort ourselves with color of reason for the desolation of
godlessness. I would say to every youth who entered our schools--Be a
Mahometan, a Diana-worshiper, a Fire-worshiper, Root-worshiper, if you
will; but at least be so much a man as to know what worship means. I had
rather, a million-fold rather, see you one of those "quibus hæc
nascuntur in hortis numina," than one of those "quibus hæc _non_
nascuntur in cordibus lumina"; and who are, by everlasting orphanage,
divided from the Father of Spirits, who is also the Father of lights,
from whom cometh every good and perfect gift.

286. "So much of man," I say, feeling profoundly that all right exercise
of any human gift, so descended from the Giver of good, depends on the
primary formation of the character of true manliness in the youth--that
is to say, of a majestic, grave, and deliberate strength. How strange
the words sound; how little does it seem possible to conceive of
majesty, and gravity, and deliberation in the daily track of modern
life. Yet, gentlemen, we need not hope that our work will be majestic if
there is no majesty in ourselves. The word "manly" has come to mean
practically, among us, a schoolboy's character, not a man's. We are, at
our best, thoughtlessly impetuous, fond of adventure and excitement;
curious in knowledge for its novelty, not for its system and results;
faithful and affectionate to those among whom we are by chance cast, but
gently and calmly insolent to strangers: we are stupidly conscientious,
and instinctively brave, and always ready to cast away the lives we take
no pains to make valuable, in causes of which we have never ascertained
the justice. This is our highest type--notable peculiarly among nations
for its gentleness, together with its courage; but in lower conditions
it is especially liable to degradation by its love of jest and of vulgar
sensation. It is against this fatal tendency to vile play that we have
chiefly to contend. It is the spirit of Milton's Comus; bestial itself,
but having power to arrest and paralyze all who come within its
influence, even pure creatures sitting helpless, mocked by it on their
marble thrones. It is incompatible, not only with all greatness of
character, but with all true gladness of heart, and it develops itself
in nations in proportion to their degradation, connected with a peculiar
gloom and a singular tendency to play with death, which is a morbid
reaction from the morbid excess.

287. A book has lately been published on the Mythology of the Rhine,
with illustrations by Gustave Doré. The Rhine god is represented in the
vignette title-page with a pipe in one hand and a pot of beer in the
other. You cannot have a more complete type of the tendency which is
chiefly to be dreaded in this age than in this conception, as opposed to
any possibility of representation of a river-god, however playful, in
the mind of a Greek painter. The example is the more notable because
Gustave Doré's is not a common mind, and, if born in any other epoch, he
would probably have done valuable (though never first rate) work; but by
glancing (it will be impossible for you to do more than glance) at his
illustrations of Balzac's "Contes Drolatiques," you will see further how
this "drolatique," or semi-comic mask is, in the truth of it, the mask
of a skull, and how the tendency to burlesque jest is both in France and
England only an effervescence from the _cloaca maxima_ of the putrid
instincts which fasten themselves on national sin, and are in the midst
of the luxury of European capitals, what Dante meant when he wrote "quel
mi sveglio col puzzo," of the body of the Wealth-Siren; the mocking
levity and mocking gloom being equally signs of the death of the soul;
just as, contrariwise, a passionate seriousness and passionate
joyfulness are signs of its full life in works such as those of
Angelico, Luini, Ghiberti, or La Robbia.

It is to recover this stern seriousness, this pure and thrilling joy,
together with perpetual sense of spiritual presence, that all true
education of youth must now be directed. This seriousness, this passion,
this universal human religion, are the first principles, the true roots
of all art, as they are of all doing, of all being. Get this _vis viva_
first and all great work will follow. Lose it, and your schools of art
will stand among other living schools as the frozen corpses stand by the
winding stair of the St. Michael's Convent of Mont Cenis, holding their
hands stretched out under their shrouds, as if beseeching the passer by
to look upon the wasting of their death.

288. And all the higher branches of technical teaching are vain without
this; nay are in some sort vain altogether, for they are superseded by
this. You may teach imitation, because the meanest man can imitate; but
you can neither teach idealism nor composition, because only a great man
can choose, conceive, or compose; and he does all these necessarily, and
because of his nature. His greatness is in his choice of things, in his
analysis of them, and his combining powers involve the totality of his
knowledge in life. His methods of observation and abstraction are
essential habits of his thought, conditions of his being. If he looks at
a human form he recognizes the signs of nobility in it, and loves
them--hates whatever is diseased, frightful, sinful, or _designant_ of
decay. All ugliness, and abortion, and fading away; all signs of vice
and foulness, he turns away from, as inherently diabolic and horrible;
all signs of unconquered emotion he regrets, as weaknesses. He looks
only for the calm purity of the human creature, in living conquests of
its passions and of fate. That is idealism; but you cannot teach anyone
else that preference. Take a man who likes to see and paint the
gambler's rage; the hedge-ruffian's enjoyment; the debauched soldier's
strife; the vicious woman's degradation;--take a man fed on the dusty
picturesque of rags and guilt; talk to him of principles of beauty! make
him draw what you will, how you will, he will leave the stain of himself
on whatever he touches. You had better go lecture to a snail, and tell
it to leave no slime behind it. Try to make a mean man compose; you will
find nothing in his thoughts consecutive or proportioned--nothing
consistent in his sight--nothing in his fancy. He cannot comprehend two
things in relation at once--how much less twenty! How much less all!
Everything is uppermost with him in its turn, and each as large as the
rest; but Titian or Veronese compose as tranquilly as they would
speak--inevitably. The thing comes to them so--they see it so--rightly,
and in harmony: they will not talk to you of composition, hardly even
understanding how lower people see things otherwise, but knowing that if
they _do_ see otherwise, there is for them the end there, talk as you

289. I had intended, in conclusion, gentlemen, to incur such blame of
presumption as might be involved in offering some hints for present
practical methods in architectural schools, but here again I am checked,
as I have been throughout, by a sense of the uselessness of all minor
means, and helps, without the establishment of a true and broad
educational system. My wish would be to see the profession of the
architect united, not with that of the engineer, but of the sculptor. I
think there should be a separate school and university course for
engineers, in which the principal branches of study connected with that
of practical building should be the physical and exact sciences, and
honors should be taken in mathematics; but I think there should be
another school and university course for the sculptor and architect, in
which literature and philosophy should be the associated branches of
study, and honors should be taken _in literis humanioribus_; and I think
a young architect's examination for his degree (for mere pass), should
be much stricter than that of youths intending to enter other
professions. The quantity of scholarship necessary for the efficiency of
a country clergyman is not great. So that he be modest and kindly, the
main truths he has to teach may be learned better in his heart than in
books, and taught in very simple English. The best physicians I have
known spent very little time in their libraries; and though my lawyer
sometimes chats with me over a Greek coin, I think he regards the time
so spent in the light rather of concession to my idleness than as
helpful to his professional labors.

But there is no task undertaken by a true architect of which the
honorable fulfillment will not require a range of knowledge and habitual
feeling only attainable by advanced scholarship.

290. Since, however, such expansion of system is, at present, beyond
hope, the best we can do is to render the studies undertaken in our
schools thoughtful, reverent, and refined, according to our power.
Especially, it should be our aim to prevent the minds of the students
from being distracted by models of an unworthy or mixed character. A
museum is one thing--a school another; and I am persuaded that as the
efficiency of a school of literature depends on the mastering a few good
books, so the efficiency of a school of art will depend on the
understanding a few good models. And so strongly do I feel this that I
would, for my own part, at once consent to sacrifice my personal
predilections in art, and to vote for the exclusion of all Gothic or
Mediæval models whatsoever, if by this sacrifice I could obtain also the
exclusion of Byzantine, Indian, Renaissance-French, and other more or
less attractive but barbarous work; and thus concentrate the mind of the
student wholly upon the study of natural form, and upon its treatment by
the sculptors and metal workers of Greece, Ionia, Sicily, and Magna
Græcia, between 500 and 350 B.C. But I should hope that exclusiveness
need not be carried quite so far. I think Donatello, Mino of Fiesole,
the Robbias, Ghiberti, Verrocchio, and Michael Angelo, should be
adequately represented in our schools--together with the Greeks--and
that a few carefully chosen examples of the floral sculpture of the
North in the thirteenth century should be added, with especial view to
display the treatment of naturalistic ornament in subtle connection with
constructive requirements; and in the course of study pursued with
reference to these models, as of admitted perfection, I should endeavor
first to make the student thoroughly acquainted with the natural forms
and characters of the objects he had to treat, and then to exercise him
in the abstraction of these forms, and the suggestion of these
characters, under due sculptural limitation. He should first be taught
to draw largely and simply; then he should make quick and firm sketches
of flowers, animals, drapery, and figures, from nature, in the simplest
terms of line, and light and shade; always being taught to look at the
organic, actions and masses, not at the textures or accidental effects
of shade; meantime his sentiment respecting all these things should be
cultivated by close and constant inquiry into their mythological
significance and associated traditions; then, knowing the things and
creatures thoroughly, and regarding them through an atmosphere of
enchanted memory, he should be shown how the facts he has taken so long
to learn are summed by a great sculptor in a few touches; how those
touches are invariably arranged in musical and decorative relations; how
every detail unnecessary for his purpose is refused; how those
necessary for his purpose are insisted upon, or even exaggerated, or
represented by singular artifice, when literal representation is
impossible; and how all this is done under the instinct and passion of
an inner commanding spirit which it is indeed impossible to imitate, but
possible, perhaps, to share.

291. Perhaps! Pardon me that I speak despondingly. For my own part, I
feel the force of mechanism and the fury of avaricious commerce to be at
present so irresistible, that I have seceded from the study not only of
architecture, but nearly of all art; and have given myself, as I would
in a besieged city, to seek the best modes of getting bread and water
for its multitudes, there remaining no question, it seems, to me, of
other than such grave business for the time. But there is, at least,
this ground for courage, if not for hope: As the evil spirits of avarice
and luxury are directly contrary to art, so, also, art is directly
contrary to them; and according to its force, expulsive of them and
medicinal against them; so that the establishment of such schools as I
have ventured to describe--whatever their immediate success or ill
success in the teaching of art--would yet be the directest method of
resistance to those conditions of evil among which our youth are cast at
the most critical period of their lives. We may not be able to produce
architecture, but, at the least, we shall resist vice. I do not know if
it has been observed that while Dante rightly connects architecture, as
the most permanent expression of the pride of humanity, whether just or
unjust, with the first cornice of Purgatory, he indicates its noble
function by engraving upon it, in perfect sculpture, the stories which
rebuke the errors and purify the purposes of noblest souls. In the
fulfillment of such function, literally and practically, here among men,
is the only real use of pride of noble architecture, and on its
acceptance or surrender of that function it depends whether, in future,
the cities of England melt into a ruin more confused and ghastly than
ever storm wasted or wolf inhabited, or purge and exalt themselves into
true habitations of men, whose walls shall be Safety, and whose gates
shall be Praise.

NOTE.--In the course of the discussion which followed this paper the
meeting was addressed by Prof. Donaldson, who alluded to the
architectural improvements in France under the Third Napoleon, by Mr.
George Edmund Street, by Prof. Kerr, Mr. Digby Wyatt, and others. The
President then proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Ruskin, who, in
acknowledging the high compliment paid him, said he would detain the
meeting but a few minutes, but he felt he ought to make some attempt to
explain what he had inefficiently stated in his paper; and there was
hardly anything said in the discussion in which he did not concur: the
supposed differences of opinion were either because he had ill-expressed
himself, or because of things left unsaid. In the first place he was
surprised to hear dissent from Professor Donaldson while he expressed
his admiration of some of the changes which had been developed in modern
architecture. There were two conditions of architecture adapted for
different climates; one with narrow streets, calculated for shade;
another for broad avenues beneath bright skies; but both conditions had
their beautiful effects. He sympathized with the admirers of Italy, and
he was delighted with Genoa. He had been delighted also by the view of
the long vistas from the Tuileries. Mr. Street had showed that he had
not sufficiently dwelt on the distinction between near and distant
carving--between carving and sculpture. He (Mr. Ruskin) could allow of
no distinction. Sculpture which was to be viewed at a height of 500 feet
above the eye might be executed with a few touches of the chisel;
opposed to that there was the exquisite finish which was the perfection
of sculpture as displayed in the Greek statues, after a full knowledge
of the whole nature of the object portrayed; both styles were admirable
in their true application--both were "sculpture"--perfect according to
their places and requirements. The attack of Professor Kerr he regarded
as in play, and in that spirit he would reply to him that he was afraid
a practical association with bricks and mortar would hardly produce the
effects upon him which had been suggested, for having of late in his
residence experienced the transition of large extents of ground into
bricks and mortar, it had had no effect in changing his views; and when
he said he was tired of writing upon art, it was not that he was ashamed
of what he had written, but that he was tired of writing in vain, and of
knocking his head, thick as it might be, against a wall. There was
another point which he would answer very gravely. It was referred to by
Mr. Digby Wyatt, and was the one point he had mainly at heart all
through--viz., that religion and high morality were at the root of all
great art in all great times. The instances referred to by Mr. Digby
Wyatt did not counteract that proposition. Modern and ancient forms of
life might be different, nor could all men be judged by formal canons,
but a true human heart was in the breast of every really great artist.
He had the greatest detestation of anything approaching to cant in
respect of art; but, after long investigation of the historical
evidence, as well as of the metaphysical laws bearing on this question,
he was absolutely certain that a high moral and religious training was
the only way to get good fruits from our youth; make them good men
first, and only so, if at all, they would become good artists. With
regard to the points mooted respecting the practical and poetical uses
of architecture, he thought they did not sufficiently define their
terms; they spoke of poetry as rhyme. He thanked the President for his
definition to-night, and he was sure he would concur with him that
poetry meant as its derivation implied--"the _doing_." What was rightly
done was done forever, and that which was only a crude work for the time
was not poetry; poetry was only that which would recreate or remake the
human soul. In that sense poetical architecture was separated from all
utilitarian work. He had said long ago men could not decorate their
shops and counters; they could decorate only where they lived in peace
and rest--where they existed to be happy. There ornament would find use,
and there their "doing" would be permanent. In other cases they wasted
their money if they attempted to make utilitarian work ornamental. He
might be wrong in that principle, but he had always asserted it, and had
seen no reason in recent works for any modification of it. He thanked
the meeting sincerely for the honor they had conferred upon him by their
invitation to address them that evening, and for the indulgence with
which they had heard him.--ED.


[52] pamphlet, the full title of which was "The Opening of the Crystal
Palace Considered in some of its Relations to the Progress of Art," by
John Ruskin, M.A. London: Smith, Elder, & Co., 1854.--ED.

[53] But see now _Aratra Pentelici_, § 53.--ED.

[54] See the _Times_ of Monday, June 12th.

[55] M. l'Abbé Bulteau, Description de la Cathédral de Chartres (8vo,
Paris, Sagnier et Bray, 1850), p. 98, _note_.

[56] See _Arrows of the Chace_.

[57] This paper was read by Mr. Ruskin at the ordinary meeting of the
Royal Institute of British Architects, May 15, 1865, and was afterwards
published in the Sessional Papers of the Institute, 1864-5, Part III.,
No. 2, pp. 139-147. Its full title (as there appears) was "An Inquiry
into some of the conditions at present affecting the Study of
Architecture in our Schools."--ED.

       *       *       *       *       *





(_Pamphlet, 1858._)

       *       *       *       *       *




OCTOBER 29TH, 1858.

1. I suppose the persons interested in establishing a School of Art for
workmen may in the main be divided into two classes, namely, first,
those who chiefly desire to make the men themselves happier, wiser, and
better; and secondly, those who desire to enable them to produce better
and more valuable work. These two objects may, of course, be kept both
in view at the same time; nevertheless, there is a wide difference in
the spirit with which we shall approach our task, according to the
motive of these two which weighs most with us--a difference great enough
to divide, as I have said, the promoters of any such scheme into two
distinct classes; one philanthropic in the gist of its aim, and the
other commercial in the gist of its aim; one desiring the workman to be
better informed chiefly for his own sake, and the other chiefly that he
may be enabled to produce for us commodities precious in themselves,
and which shall successfully compete with those of other countries.

2. And this separation in motives must lead also to a distinction in the
machinery of the work. The philanthropists address themselves, not to
the artisan merely, but to the laborer in general, desiring in any
possible way to refine the habits or increase the happiness of our whole
working population, by giving them new recreations or new thoughts: and
the principles of Art-Education adopted in a school which has this wide
but somewhat indeterminate aim, are, or should be, very different from
those adopted in a school meant for the special instruction of the
artisan in his own business. I do not think this distinction is yet
firmly enough fixed in our minds, or calculated upon in our plans of
operation. We have hitherto acted, it seems to me, under a vague
impression that the arts of drawing and painting might be, up to a
certain point, taught in a general way to everyone, and would do
everyone equal good; and that each class of operatives might afterwards
bring this general knowledge into use in their own trade, according to
its requirements. Now, that is not so. A wood-carver needs for his
business to learn drawing in quite a different way from a china-painter,
and a jeweler from a worker in iron. They must be led to study quite
different characters in the natural forms they introduce in their
various manufacture. It is no use to teach an iron-worker to observe the
down on a peach, and of none to teach laws of atmospheric effect to a
carver in wood. So far as their business is concerned, their brains
would be vainly occupied by such things, and they would be prevented
from pursuing, with enough distinctness or intensity, the qualities of
Art which can alone be expressed in the materials with which they each
have to do.

3. Now, I believe it to be wholly impossible to teach special
application of Art principles to various trades in a single school. That
special application can be only learned rightly by the experience of
years in the particular work required. The power of each material, and
the difficulties connected with its treatment are not so much to be
taught as to be felt; it is only by repeated touch and continued trial
beside the forge or the furnace, that the goldsmith can find out how to
govern his gold, or the glass-worker his crystal; and it is only by
watching and assisting the actual practice of a master in the business,
that the apprentice can learn the efficient secrets of manipulation, or
perceive the true limits of the involved conditions of design. It seems
to me, therefore, that all idea of reference to definite businesses
should be abandoned in such schools as that just established: we can
have neither the materials, the conveniences, nor the empirical skill in
the master, necessary to make such teaching useful. All specific
Art-teaching must be given in schools established by each trade for
itself: and when our operatives are a little more enlightened on these
matters, there will be found, as I have already stated in my lectures on
the political economy of Art,[59] absolute necessity for the
establishment of guilds of trades in an active and practical form, for
the purposes of ascertaining the principles of Art proper to their
business, and instructing their apprentices in them, as well as making
experiments on materials, and on newly-invented methods of procedure;
besides many other functions which I cannot now enter into account of.
All this for the present, and in a school such as this, I repeat, we
cannot hope for: we shall obtain no satisfactory result, unless we give
up such hope, and set ourselves to teaching the operative, however
employed--be he farmer's laborer, or manufacturer's; be he mechanic,
artificer, shopman, sailor, or plowman--teaching, I say, as far as we
can, one and the same thing to all; namely, Sight.

4. Not a slight thing to teach, this: perhaps, on the whole, the most
important thing to be taught in the whole range of teaching. To be
taught to read--what is the use of that, if you know not whether what
you read is false or true? To be taught to write or to speak--but what
is the use of speaking, if you have nothing to say? To be taught to
think--nay, what is the use of being able to think, if you have nothing
to think of? But to be taught to see is to gain word and thought at
once, and both true. There is a vague acknowledgment of this in the way
people are continually expressing their longing for light, until all the
common language of our prayers and hymns has sunk into little more than
one monotonous metaphor, dimly twisted into alternate languages,--asking
first in Latin to be illuminated; and then in English to be enlightened;
and then in Latin again to be delivered out of obscurity; and then in
English to be delivered out of darkness; and then for beams, and rays,
and suns, and stars, and lamps, until sometimes one wishes that, at
least for religious purposes, there were no such words as light or
darkness in existence. Still, the main instinct which makes people
endure this perpetuity of repetition is a true one; only the main thing
they want and ought to ask for is, not light, but Sight. It doesn't
matter how much light you have if you don't know how to use it. It may
very possibly put out your eyes, instead of helping them. Besides, we
want, in this world of ours, very often to be able to see in the
dark--that's the great gift of all;--but at any rate to see no matter by
what light, so only we can see things as they are. On my word, we should
soon make it a different world, if we could get but a little--ever so
little--of the dervish's ointment in the Arabian Nights, not to show us
the treasures of the earth, but the facts of it.

5. However, whether these things be generally true or not, at all events
it is certain that our immediate business, in such a school as this,
will prosper more by attending to eyes than to hands; we shall always do
most good by simply endeavoring to enable the student to see natural
objects clearly and truly. We ought not even to try too strenuously to
give him the power of representing them. That power may be acquired,
more or less, by exercises which are no wise conducive to accuracy of
sight: and, _vice versâ_, accuracy of sight may be gained by exercises
which in no wise conduce to ease of representation. For instance, it
very much assists the power of drawing to spend many hours in the
practice of washing in flat tints; but all this manual practice does not
in the least increase the student's power of determining what the tint
of a given object actually is. He would be more advanced in the
knowledge of the facts by a single hour of well-directed and
well-_corrected_ effort, rubbing out and putting in again, lightening,
and darkening, and scratching, and blotching, in patient endeavors to
obtain concordance with fact, issuing perhaps, after all, in total
destruction or unpresentability of the drawing; but also in acute
perception of the things he has been attempting to copy in it. Of
course, there is always a vast temptation, felt both by the master and
student, to struggle towards visible results, and obtain something
beautiful, creditable, or salable, in way of actual drawing: but the
more I see of schools, the more reason I see to look with doubt upon
those which produce too many showy and complete works by pupils. A showy
work will always be found, on stern examination of it, to have been done
by some conventional rule;--some servile compliance with directions
which the student does not see the reason for; and representation of
truths which he has not himself perceived: the execution of such
drawings will be found monotonous and lifeless; their light and shade
specious and formal, but false. A drawing which the pupil has learned
much in doing, is nearly always full of blunders and mishaps, and it is
highly necessary for the formation of a truly public or universal school
of Art, that the masters should not try to conceal or anticipate such
blunders, but only seek to employ the pupil's time so as to get the most
precious results for his understanding and his heart, not for his hand.

6. For, observe, the best that you can do in the production of drawing,
or of draughtsmanship, must always be nothing in itself, unless the
whole life be given to it. An amateur's drawing, or a workman's
drawing--anybody's drawing but an artist's, is always valueless in
itself. It may be, as you have just heard Mr. Redgrave tell you, most
precious as a memorial, or as a gift, or as a means of noting useful
facts; but as _Art_, an amateur's drawing is always wholly worthless;
and it ought to be one of our great objects to make the pupil understand
and feel that, and prevent his trying to make his valueless work look,
in some superficial, hypocritical, eye-catching, penny-catching way,
like work that is really good.

7. If, therefore, we have to do with pupils belonging to the higher
ranks of life, our main duty will be to make them good judges of Art,
rather than artists; for though I had a month to speak to you, instead
of an hour, time would fail me if I tried to trace the various ways in
which we suffer, nationally, for want of powers of enlightened judgment
of Art in our upper and middle classes. Not that this judgment can ever
be obtained without discipline of the hand: no man ever was a thorough
judge of painting who could not draw; but the drawing should only be
thought of as a means of fixing his attention upon the subtleties of the
Art put before him, or of enabling him to record such natural facts as
are necessary for comparison with it. I should also attach the greatest
importance to severe limitation of choice in the examples submitted to
him. To study one good master till you understand him will teach you
more than a superficial acquaintance with a thousand: power of criticism
does not consist in knowing the names or the manner of many painters,
but in discerning the excellence of a few.

If, on the contrary, our teaching is addressed more definitely to the
operative, we need not endeavor to render his powers of criticism very
acute. About many forms of existing Art, the less he knows the better.
His sensibilities are to be cultivated with respect to nature chiefly;
and his imagination, if possible, to be developed, even though somewhat
to the disadvantage of his judgment. It is better that his work should
be bold, than faultless: and better that it should be delightful, than

8. And this leads me to the second, or commercial, question; namely, how
to get from the workman, after we have trained him, the best and most
precious work, so as to enable ourselves to compete with foreign
countries, or develop new branches of commerce in our own.

Many of us, perhaps, are under the impression that plenty of schooling
will do this; that plenty of lecturing will do it; that sending abroad
for patterns will do it; or that patience, time, and money, and good
will may do it. And, alas, none of these things, nor all of them put
together, will do it. If you want really good work, such as will be
acknowledged by all the world, there is but one way of getting it, and
that is a difficult one. You may offer any premium you choose for
it--but you will find it can't be done for premiums. You may send for
patterns to the antipodes--but you will find it can't be done upon
patterns. You may lecture on the principles of Art to every school in
the kingdom--and you will find it can't be done upon principles. You may
wait patiently for the progress of the age--and you will find your Art
is unprogressive. Or you may set yourselves impatiently to urge it by
the inventions of the age--and you will find your chariot of Art
entirely immovable either by screw or paddle. There's no way of getting
good Art, I repeat, but one--at once the simplest and most
difficult--namely, to enjoy it. Examine the history of nations, and you
will find this great fact clear and unmistakable on the front of
it--that good Art has only been produced by nations who rejoiced in it;
fed themselves with it, as if it were bread; basked in it, as if it were
sunshine; shouted at the sight of it; danced with the delight of it;
quarreled for it; fought for it; starved for it; did, in fact, precisely
the opposite with it of what we want to do with it--they made it to
keep, and we to sell.

9. And truly this is a serious difficulty for us as a commercial nation.
The very primary motive with which we set about the business, makes the
business impossible. The first and absolute condition of the thing's
ever becoming salable is, that we shall make it without wanting to sell
it; nay, rather with a determination not to sell it at any price, if
once we get hold of it. Try to make your Art popular, cheap--a fair
article for your foreign market; and the foreign market will always show
something better. But make it only to please yourselves, and even be
resolved that you won't let anybody else have any; and forthwith you
will find everybody else wants it. And observe, the insuperable
difficulty is this making it to please ourselves, while we are incapable
of pleasure. Take, for instance, the simplest example, which we can all
understand, in the art of dress. We have made a great fuss about the
patterns of silk lately; wanting to vie with Lyons, and make a Paris of
London. Well, we may try forever: so long as we don't really enjoy silk
patterns, we shall never get any. And we don't enjoy them. Of course,
all ladies like their dresses to sit well, and be becoming; but of real
enjoyment of the beauty of the silk, for the silk's own sake, I find
none; for the test of that enjoyment is, that they would like it also to
sit well, and look well, on somebody else. The pleasure of being well
dressed, or even of seeing well-dressed people--for I will suppose in my
fair hearers that degree of unselfishness--be that pleasure great or
small, is quite a different thing from delight in the beauty and play of
the silken folds and colors themselves, for their own gorgeousness or

10. I have just had a remarkable proof of the total want of this feeling
in the modern mind. I was staying part of this summer in Turin, for the
purpose of studying one of the Paul Veroneses there--the presentation of
the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. Well, one of the most notable characters
in this picture is the splendor of its silken dresses: and, in
particular, there was a piece of white brocade, with designs upon it in
gold, which it was one of my chief objects in stopping at Turin to copy.
You may, perhaps, be surprised at this; but I must just note in passing,
that I share this weakness of enjoying dress patterns with all good
students and all good painters. It doesn't matter what school they
belong to,--Fra Angelico, Perugino, John Bellini, Giorgione, Titian,
Tintoret, Veronese, Leonardo da Vinci--no matter how they differ in
other respects, all of them like dress patterns; and what is more, the
nobler the painter is, the surer he is to do his patterns well.

11. I stayed then, as I say, to make a study of this white brocade. It
generally happens in public galleries that the best pictures are the
worst placed; and this Veronese is not only hung at considerable height
above the eye, but over a door, through which, however, as all the
visitors to the gallery must pass, they cannot easily overlook the
picture, though they would find great difficulty in examining it. Beside
this door, I had a stage erected for my work, which being of some height
and rather in a corner, enabled me to observe, without being observed
myself, the impression made by the picture on the various visitors. It
seemed to me that if ever a work of Art caught popular attention, this
ought to do so. It was of very large size; of brilliant color, and of
agreeable subject. There are about twenty figures in it, the principal
ones being life size: that of Solomon, though in the shade, is by far
the most perfect conception of the young king in his pride of wisdom and
beauty which I know in the range of Italian art; the queen is one of the
loveliest of Veronese's female figures; all the accessories are full of
grace and imagination; and the finish of the whole so perfect that one
day I was upwards of two hours vainly trying to render, with perfect
accuracy, the curves of two leaves of the brocaded silk. The English
travelers used to walk through the room in considerable numbers; and
were invariably directed to the picture by their laquais de place, if
they missed seeing it themselves. And to this painting--in which it took
me six weeks to examine rightly two figures--I found that on an average,
the English traveler who was doing Italy conscientiously, and seeing
everything as he thought he ought, gave about half or three-quarters of
a minute; but the flying or fashionable traveler, who came to do as much
as he could in a given time, never gave more than a single glance, most
of such people turning aside instantly to a bad landscape hung on the
right, containing a vigorously painted white wall, and an opaque green
moat. What especially impressed me, however, was that none of the
ladies ever stopped to look at the dresses in the Veronese. Certainly
they were far more beautiful than any in the shops in the great square,
yet no one ever noticed them. Sometimes when any nice, sharp-looking,
bright-eyed girl came into the room, I used to watch her all the way,
thinking--"Come, at least _you'll_ see what the Queen of Sheba has got
on." But no--on she would come carelessly, with a little toss of the
head, apparently signifying "nothing in _this_ room worth looking
at--except myself," and so trip through the door, and away.

12. The fact is, we don't care for pictures: in very deed we don't. The
Academy exhibition is a thing to talk of and to amuse vacant hours;
those who are rich amongst us buy a painting or two, for mixed reasons,
sometimes to fill the corner of a passage--sometimes to help the
drawing-room talk before dinner--sometimes because the painter is
fashionable--occasionally because he is poor--not unfrequently that we
may have a collection of specimens of painting, as we have specimens of
minerals or butterflies--and in the best and rarest case of all, because
we have really, as we call it, taken a fancy to the picture; meaning the
same sort of fancy which one would take to a pretty arm-chair or a
newly-shaped decanter. But as for real love of the picture, and joy of
it when we have got it, I do not believe it is felt by one in a

13. I am afraid this apathy of ours will not be easily conquered; but
even supposing it should, and that we should begin to enjoy pictures
properly, and that the supply of good ones increased as in that case it
_would_ increase--then comes another question. Perhaps some of my
hearers this evening may occasionally have heard it stated of me that I
am rather apt to contradict myself. I hope I am exceedingly apt to do
so. I never met with a question yet, of any importance, which did not
need, for the right solution of it, at least one positive and one
negative answer, like an equation of the second degree. Mostly, matters
of any consequence are three-sided, or four-sided, or polygonal; and the
trotting round a polygon is severe work for people any way stiff in
their opinions. For myself, I am never satisfied that I have handled a
subject properly till I have contradicted myself at least three times:
but once must do for this evening. I have just said that there is no
chance of our getting good Art unless we delight in it: next I say, and
just as positively, that there is no chance of our getting good Art
unless we resist our delight in it. We must love it first, and restrain
our love for it afterwards.

14. This sounds strange; and yet I assure you it is true. In fact,
whenever anything does not sound strange, you may generally doubt its
being true; for all truth is wonderful. But take an instance in physical
matters, of the same kind of contradiction. Suppose you were explaining
to a young student in astronomy how the earth was kept steady in its
orbit; you would have to state to him--would you not?--that the earth
always had a tendency to fall to the sun; and that also it always had a
tendency to fly away from the sun. These are two precisely contrary
statements for him to digest at his leisure, before he can understand
how the earth moves. Now, in like manner, when Art is set in its true
and serviceable course, it moves under the luminous attraction of
pleasure on the one side, and with a stout moral purpose of going about
some useful business on the other. If the artist works without delight,
he passes away into space, and perishes of cold: if he works only for
delight, he falls into the sun, and extinguishes himself in ashes. On
the whole, this last is the fate, I do not say the most to be feared,
but which Art has generally hitherto suffered, and which the great
nations of the earth have suffered with it.

15. For, while most distinctly you may perceive in past history that Art
has never been produced, except by nations who took pleasure in it, just
as assuredly, and even more plainly, you may perceive that Art has
always destroyed the power and life of those who pursued it for pleasure
only. Surely this fact must have struck you as you glanced at the career
of the great nations of the earth: surely it must have occurred to you
as a point for serious questioning, how far, even in our days, we were
wise in promoting the advancement of pleasures which appeared as yet
only to have corrupted the souls and numbed the strength of those who
attained to them. I have been complaining of England that she despises
the Arts; but I might, with still more appearance of justice, complain
that she does not rather dread them than despise. For, what has been the
source of the ruin of nations since the world began? Has it been plague,
or famine, earthquake-shock or volcano-flame? None of these ever
prevailed against a great people, so as to make their name pass from the
earth. In every period and place of national decline, you will find
other causes than these at work to bring it about, namely, luxury,
effeminacy, love of pleasure, fineness in Art, ingenuity in enjoyment.
What is the main lesson which, as far as we seek any in our classical
reading, we gather for our youth from ancient history? Surely this--that
simplicity of life, of language, and of manners gives strength to a
nation; and that luxuriousness of life, subtlety of language, and
smoothness of manners bring weakness and destruction on a nation. While
men possess little and desire less, they remain brave and noble: while
they are scornful of all the arts of luxury, and are in the sight of
other nations as barbarians, their swords are irresistible and their
sway illimitable: but let them become sensitive to the refinements of
taste, and quick in the capacities of pleasure, and that instant the
fingers that had grasped the iron rod, fail from the golden scepter. You
cannot charge me with any exaggeration in this matter; it is impossible
to state the truth too strongly, or as too universal. Forever you will
see the rude and simple nation at once more virtuous and more victorious
than one practiced in the arts. Watch how the Lydian is overthrown by
the Persian; the Persian by the Athenian; the Athenian by the Spartan;
then the whole of polished Greece by the rougher Roman; the Roman, in
his turn refined, only to be crushed by the Goth: and at the turning
point of the middle ages, the liberty of Europe first asserted, the
virtues of Christianity best practiced, and its doctrines best attested,
by a handful of mountain shepherds, without art, without literature,
almost without a language, yet remaining unconquered in the midst of the
Teutonic chivalry, and uncorrupted amidst the hierarchies of Rome.[60]

16. I was strangely struck by this great fact during the course of a
journey last summer among the northern vales of Switzerland. My mind had
been turned to the subject of the ultimate effects of Art on national
mind before I left England, and I went straight to the chief fields of
Swiss history: first to the center of her feudal power, Hapsburg, the
hawk's nest from which the Swiss Rodolph rose to found the Austrian
empire; and then to the heart of her republicanism, that little glen of
Morgarten, where first in the history of Europe the shepherd's staff
prevailed over the soldier's spear. And it was somewhat depressing to me
to find, as day by day I found more certainly, that this people which
first asserted the liberties of Europe, and first conceived the idea of
equitable laws, was in all the--shall I call them the slighter, or the
higher?--sensibilities of the human mind, utterly deficient; and not
only had remained from its earliest ages till now, without poetry,
without Art, and without music, except a mere modulated cry; but as far
as I could judge from the rude efforts of their early monuments, would
have been, at the time of their greatest national probity and power,
incapable of producing good poetry or Art under any circumstances of

17. I say, this was a sad thing for me to find. And then, to mend the
matter, I went straight over into Italy, and came at once upon a
curious instance of the patronage of Art, of the character that usually
inclines most to such patronage, and of the consequences thereof.

From Morgarten and Grutli, I intended to have crossed to the Vaudois
Valleys, to examine the shepherd character there; but on the way I had
to pass through Turin, where unexpectedly I found the Paul Veroneses,
one of which, as I told you just now, stayed me at once for six weeks.
Naturally enough, one asked how these beautiful Veroneses came there:
and found they had been commissioned by Cardinal Maurice of Savoy.
Worthy Cardinal, I thought: that's what Cardinals were made for.
However, going a little farther in the gallery, one comes upon four very
graceful pictures by Albani--these also commissioned by the Cardinal,
and commissioned with special directions, according to the Cardinal's
fancy. Four pictures, to be illustrative of the four elements.

18. One of the most curious things in the mind of the people of that
century is their delight in these four elements, and in the four
seasons. They had hardly any other idea of decorating a room, or of
choosing a subject for a picture, than by some renewed reference to fire
and water, or summer and winter; nor were ever tired of hearing that
summer came after spring, and that air was not earth, until these
interesting pieces of information got finally and poetically expressed
in that well-known piece of elegant English conversation about the
weather, Thomson's "Seasons." So the Cardinal, not appearing to have any
better idea than the popular one, orders the four elements; but thinking
that the elements pure would be slightly dull, he orders them, in one
way or another, to be mixed up with Cupids; to have, in his own words,
"una copiosa quantita di Amorini." Albani supplied the Cardinal
accordingly with Cupids in clusters: they hang in the sky like bunches
of cherries; and leap out of the sea like flying fish; grow out of the
earth in fairy rings; and explode out of the fire like squibs. No work
whatsoever is done in any of the four elements, but by the Cardinal's
Cupids. They are plowing the earth with their arrows; fishing in the
sea with their bowstrings; driving the clouds with their breath; and
fanning the fire with their wings. A few beautiful nymphs are assisting
them here and there in pearl-fishing, flower-gathering, and other such
branches of graceful industry; the moral of the whole being, that the
sea was made for its pearls, the earth for its flowers, and all the
world for pleasure.

19. Well, the Cardinal, this great encourager of the arts, having these
industrial and social theories, carried them out in practice, as you may
perhaps remember, by obtaining a dispensation from the Pope to marry his
own niece, and building a villa for her on one of the slopes of the
pretty hills which rise to the east of the city. The villa which he
built is now one of the principal objects of interest to the traveler as
an example of Italian domestic architecture: to me, during my stay in
the city, it was much more than an object of interest; for its deserted
gardens were by much the pleasantest place I could find for walking or
thinking in, in the hot summer afternoons.

I say thinking, for these gardens often gave me a good deal to think
about. They are, as I told you, on the slope of the hill above the city,
to the east; commanding, therefore, the view over it and beyond it,
westward--a view which, perhaps, of all those that can be obtained north
of the Apennines, gives the most comprehensive idea of the nature of
Italy, considered as one great country. If you glance at the map, you
will observe that Turin is placed in the center of the crescent which
the Alps form round the basin of Piedmont; it is within ten miles of the
foot of the mountains at the nearest point; and from that point the
chain extends half round the city in one unbroken Moorish crescent,
forming three-fourths of a circle from the Col de Tende to the St.
Gothard; that is to say, just two hundred miles of Alps, as the bird
flies. I don't speak rhetorically or carelessly; I speak as I ought to
speak here--with mathematical precision. Take the scale on your map;
measure fifty miles of it accurately; try that measure from the Col de
Tende to the St. Gothard, and you will find that four cords of fifty
miles will not quite reach to the two extremities of the curve.

20. You see, then, from this spot, the plain of Piedmont, on the north
and south, literally as far as the eye can reach; so that the plain
terminates as the sea does, with a level blue line, only tufted with
woods instead of waves, and crowded with towers of cities instead of
ships. Then in the luminous air beyond and behind this blue
horizon-line, stand, as it were, the shadows of mountains, they
themselves dark, for the southern slopes of the Alps of the Lago
Maggiore and Bellinzona are all without snow; but the light of the
unseen snowfields, lying level behind the visible peaks, is sent up with
strange reflection upon the clouds; an everlasting light of calm Aurora
in the north. Then, higher and higher around the approaching darkness of
the plain, rise the central chains, not as on the Switzer's side, a
recognizable group and following of successive and separate hills, but a
wilderness of jagged peaks, cast in passionate and fierce profusion
along the circumference of heaven; precipice behind precipice, and gulf
beyond gulf, filled with the flaming of the sunset, and forming mighty
channels for the flowings of the clouds, which roll up against them out
of the vast Italian plain, forced together by the narrowing crescent,
and breaking up at last against the Alpine wall in towers of spectral
spray; or sweeping up its ravines with long moans of complaining
thunder. Out from between the cloudy pillars, as they pass, emerge
forever the great battlements of the memorable and perpetual hills:
Viso, with her shepherd-witnesses to ancient faith; Rocca-Melone, the
highest place of Alpine pilgrimage;[61] Iseran, who shed her burial
sheets of snow about the march of Hannibal; Cenis, who shone with her
glacier light on the descent of Charlemagne; Paradiso, who watched with
her opposite crest the stoop of the French eagle to Marengo; and
underneath all these, lying in her soft languor, this tender Italy,
lapped in dews of sleep, or more than sleep--one knows not if it is
trance, from which morning shall yet roll the blinding mists away, or if
the fair shadows of her quietude are indeed the shades of purple death.
And, lifted a little above this solemn plain, and looking beyond it to
its snowy ramparts, vainly guardian, stands this palace dedicate to
pleasure, the whole legend of Italy's past history written before it by
the finger of God, written as with an iron pen upon the rock forever, on
all those fronting walls of reproachful Alp; blazoned in gold of
lightning upon the clouds that still open and close their unsealed
scrolls in heaven; painted in purple and scarlet upon the mighty missal
pages of sunset after sunset, spread vainly before a nation's eyes for a
nation's prayer. So stands this palace of pleasure; desolate as it
deserves--desolate in smooth corridor and glittering chamber--desolate
in pleached walk and planted bower--desolate in that worst and bitterest
abandonment which leaves no light of memory. No ruins are here of walls
rent by war, and falling above their defenders into mounds of graves: no
remnants are here of chapel-altar, or temple porch, left shattered or
silent by the power of some purer worship: no vestiges are here of
sacred hearth and sweet homestead, left lonely through vicissitudes of
fate, and heaven-sent sorrow. Nothing is here but the vain apparelings
of pride sunk into dishonor, and vain appanages of delight now no more
delightsome. The hill-waters, that once flowed and plashed in the
garden fountains, now trickle sadly through the weeds that encumber
their basins, with a sound as of tears: the creeping, insidious,
neglected flowers weave their burning nets about the white marble of the
balustrades, and rend them slowly, block from block, and stone from
stone: the thin, sweet-scented leaves tremble along the old masonry
joints as if with palsy at every breeze; and the dark lichens, golden
and gray, make the footfall silent in the path's center.

And day by day as I walked there, the same sentence seemed whispered by
every shaking leaf, and every dying echo, of garden and chamber. "Thus
end all the arts of life, only in death; and thus issue all the gifts of
man, only in his dishonor, when they are pursued or possessed in the
service of pleasure only."

21. This then is the great enigma of Art History,--you must not follow
Art without pleasure, nor must you follow it for the sake of pleasure.
And the solution of that enigma is simply this fact; that wherever Art
has been followed _only_ for the sake of luxury or delight, it has
contributed, and largely contributed, to bring about the destruction of
the nation practicing it: but wherever Art has been used _also_ to teach
any truth, or supposed truth--religious, moral, or natural--there it has
elevated the nation practicing it, and itself with the nation.

22. Thus the Art of Greece rose, and did service to the people, so long
as it was to them the earnest interpreter of a religion they believed
in: the Arts of northern sculpture and architecture rose, as
interpreters of Christian legend and doctrine: the Art of painting in
Italy, not only as religious, but also mainly as expressive of truths of
moral philosophy, and powerful in pure human portraiture. The only great
painters in our schools of painting in England have either been of
portrait--Reynolds and Gainsborough; of the philosophy of social
life--Hogarth; or of the facts of nature in landscape--Wilson and
Turner. In all these cases, if I had time, I could show you that the
success of the painter depended on his desire to convey a truth, rather
than to produce a merely beautiful picture; that is to say, to get a
likeness of a man, or of a place; to get some moral principle rightly
stated, or some historical character rightly described, rather than
merely to give pleasure to the eyes. Compare the feeling with which a
Moorish architect decorated an arch of the Alhambra, with that of
Hogarth painting the "Marriage à la Mode," or of Wilkie painting the
"Chelsea Pensioners," and you will at once feel the difference between
Art pursued for pleasure only, and for the sake of some useful principle
or impression.

23. But what you might not so easily discern is, that even when painting
does appear to have been pursued for pleasure only, if ever you find it
rise to any noble level, you will also find that a stern search after
truth has been at the root of its nobleness. You may fancy, perhaps,
that Titian, Veronese, and Tintoret were painters for the sake of
pleasure only: but in reality they were the only painters who ever
sought entirely to master, and who did entirely master, the truths of
light and shade as associated with color, in the noblest of all physical
created things, the human form. They were the only men who ever painted
the human body; all other painters of the great schools are mere
anatomical draughtsmen compared to them; rather makers of maps of the
body, than painters of it. The Venetians alone, by a toil almost
super-human, succeeded at last in obtaining a power almost super-human;
and were able finally to paint the highest visible work of God with
unexaggerated structure, undegraded color, and unaffected gesture. It
seems little to say this; but I assure you it is much to have _done_
this--so much, that no other men but the Venetians ever did it: none of
them ever painted the human body without in some degree caricaturing the
anatomy, forcing the action, or degrading the hue.

24. Now, therefore, the sum of all is, that you who wish to encourage
Art in England have to do two things with it: you must delight in it, in
the first place; and you must get it to serve some serious work, in the
second place. I don't mean by serious, necessarily moral: all that I
mean by serious is in some way or other useful, not merely selfish,
careless, or indolent. I had, indeed, intended before closing my
address, to have traced out a few of the directions in which, as it
seems to me, Art may be seriously and practically serviceable to us in
the career of civilization. I had hoped to show you how many of the
great phenomena of nature still remained unrecorded by it, for _us_ to
record; how many of the historical monuments of Europe were perishing
without memorial, for the want of but a little honest, simple,
laborious, loving draughtsmanship; how many of the most impressive
historical events of the day failed of teaching us half of what they
were meant to teach, for want of painters to represent them faithfully,
instead of fancifully, and with historical truth for their aim, instead
of national self-glorification. I had hoped to show you how many of the
best impulses of the heart were lost in frivolity or sensuality, for
want of purer beauty to contemplate, and of noble thoughts to associate
with the fervor of hallowed human passion; how, finally, a great part of
the vital power of our religious faith was lost in us, for want of such
art as would realize in some rational, probable, believable way, those
events of sacred history which, as they visibly and intelligibly
occurred, may also be visibly and intelligibly represented. But all this
I dare not do yet. I felt, as I thought over these things, that the time
was not yet come for their declaration: the time will come for it, and I
believe soon; but as yet, the man would only lay himself open to the
charge of vanity, of imagination, and of idle fondness of hope, who
should venture to trace in words the course of the higher blessings
which the Arts may have yet in store for mankind. As yet there is no
need to do so: all that we have to plead for is an earnest and
straightforward exertion in those courses of study which are opened to
us day by day, believing only that they are to be followed gravely and
for grave purposes, as by men, and not by children. I appeal, finally,
to all those who are to become the pupils of these schools, to keep
clear of the notion of following Art as dilettantism: it ought to
delight you, as your reading delights you--but you never think of your
reading as dilettantism. It ought to delight you as your studies of
physical science delight you--but you don't call physical science
dilettantism. If you are determined only to think of Art as a play or a
pleasure, give it up at once: you will do no good to yourselves, and you
will degrade the pursuit in the sight of others. Better, infinitely
better, that you should never enter a picture gallery, than that you
should enter only to saunter and to smile: better, infinitely better,
that you should never handle a pencil at all, than handle it only for
the sake of complacency in your small dexterity: better, infinitely
better, that you should be wholly uninterested in pictures, and
uninformed respecting them, than that you should just know enough to
detect blemishes in great works,--to give a color of reasonableness to
presumption, and an appearance of acuteness to misunderstanding. Above
all, I would plead for this so far as the teaching of these schools may
be addressed to the junior Members of the University. Men employed in
any kind of manual labor, by which they must live, are not likely to
take up the notion that they can learn any other art for amusement only;
but amateurs are: and it is of the highest importance, nay, it is just
the one thing of all importance, to show them what drawing really means;
and not so much to teach them to produce a good work themselves, as to
know it when they see it done by others. Good work, in the stern sense
of the word, as I before said, no mere amateur can do; and good work, in
any sense, that is to say, profitable work for himself or for anyone
else, he can only do by being made in the beginning to see what is
possible for him, and what not;--what is accessible, and what not; and
by having the majesty and sternness of the everlasting laws of fact set
before him in their infinitude. It is no matter for appalling him: the
man is great already who is made well capable of being appalled; nor do
we even wisely hope, nor truly understand, till we are humiliated by our
hope, and awe-struck by our understanding. Nay, I will go farther than
this, and say boldly, that what you have mainly to teach the young men
here is, not so much what they can do, as what they cannot;--to make
them see how much there is in nature which cannot be imitated, and how
much in man which cannot be emulated. He only can be truly said to be
educated in Art to whom all his work is only a feeble sign of glories
which he cannot convey, and a feeble means of measuring, with
ever-enlarging admiration, the great and untraversable gulf which God
has set between the great and the common intelligences of mankind: and
all the triumphs of Art which man can commonly achieve are only truly
crowned by pure delight in natural scenes themselves, and by the sacred
and self-forgetful veneration which can be nobly abashed, and
tremblingly exalted, in the presence of a human spirit greater than his


[58] This Address has been already printed in three forms,--(_a_) in a
pamphlet printed at Cambridge "for the committee of the School of Art,"
by Naylor & Co., _Chronicle_ office, 1858; (_b_) in a second pamphlet,
Cambridge, Deighton & Bell; London, Bell & Daldy, 1858; and (_c_) a new
edition, published for Mr. Ruskin by Mr. George Allen in 1879. The first
of these pamphlets contains, in addition to the address, a full account
of the "inaugural soirée" at which it was read, and a report of speeches
then made by Mr. Redgrave, R.A., and Mr. George Cruikshank; and both the
first and second pamphlet also contain a few introductory words spoken,
by Mr. Ruskin, before proceeding to deliver his address.--ED.

[59] See "A Joy For Ever," § 113, and "Time and Tide," § 78.--ED.

[60] I ought perhaps to remind the reader that this statement refers to
two different societies among the Alps; the Waldenses in the 13th, and
the people of the Forest Cantons in the 14th and following centuries.
Protestants are perhaps apt sometimes to forget that the virtues of
these mountaineers were shown in connection with vital forms of opposing
religions; and that the patriots of Schwytz and Uri were as zealous
Roman Catholics as they were good soldiers. We have to lay to their
charge the death of Zuinglius as well as of Gessler.

[61] The summit of Rocca-Melone is the sharp peak seen from Turin on the
right hand of the gorge of the Cenis, dominant over the low projecting
pyramid of the hill called by De Saussure Montagne de Musinet.
Rocca-Melone rises to a height of 11,000 feet above the sea, and its
peak is a place of pilgrimage to this day, though it seems temporarily
to have ceased to be so in the time of De Saussure, who thus speaks of

"Il y a eu pendant longtemps sur cette cime, une petite chapelle avec
une image de Notre Dame qui étoit en grande vénération dans le pays, et
où un grand nombre de gens alloient au mois d'août en procession, de
Suze et des environs; mais le sentier qui conduit à cette chapelle est
si étroit et si scabreux qu'il n'y avoit presque pas d'années qu'il n'y
périt du monde; la fatigue et la rareté de l'air saisissoient ceux qui
avoient plutôt consulté leur dévotion que leurs forces; ils tombérent en
défalliance, et de là dans le précipice."

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(_Art Journal, January-July 1865; January, February, and April 1866._)

       *       *       *       *       *


   "[Greek: Poikilon ô eni panta teteuchatai oude se phêmi
   Aprêkton ge neesthai, ho ti phresi sêsi menoinas.]"

   (HOM. _Il._ xiv. 220-21.)


25. Not many months ago, a friend, whose familiarity with both living
and past schools of Art rendered his opinion of great authority, said
casually to me in the course of talk, "I believe we have now as able
painters as ever lived; but they never paint as good pictures as were
once painted." That was the substance of his saying; I forget the exact
words, but their tenor surprised me, and I have thought much of them
since. Without pressing the statement too far, or examining it with an
unintended strictness, this I believe to be at all events true, that we
have men among us, now in Europe, who might have been noble painters,
and are not; men whose doings are altogether as wonderful in skill, as
inexhaustible in fancy, as the work of the really great painters; and
yet these doings of theirs are not great. Shall I write the commonplace
that rings in sequence in my ear, and draws on my hand--"are not Great,
for they are not (in the broad human and ethical sense) Good"? I write
it, and ask forgiveness for the truism, with its implied
uncharitableness of blame; for this trite thing is ill understood and
little thought upon by any of us, and the implied blame is divided among
us all; only let me at once partly modify it, and partly define.

26. In one sense, modern Art has more goodness in it than ever Art had
before. Its kindly spirit, its quick sympathy with pure domestic and
social feeling, the occasional seriousness of its instructive purpose,
and its honest effort to grasp the reality of conceived scenes, are all
eminently "good," as compared with the insane picturesqueness and
conventional piety of many among the old masters. Such domestic
painting, for instance, as Richter's in Germany, Edward Frere's in
France, and Hook's in England, together with such historical and ideal
work as----perhaps the reader would be offended with me were I to set
down the several names that occur to me here, so I will set down one
only, and say--as that of Paul de la Roche; such work, I repeat, as
these men have done, or are doing, is entirely good in its influence on
the public mind; and may, in thankful exultation, be compared with the
renderings of besotted, vicious, and vulgar human life perpetrated by
Dutch painters, or with the deathful formalism and fallacy of what was
once called "Historical Art." Also, this gentleness and veracity of
theirs, being in part communicable, are gradually learned, though in a
somewhat servile manner, yet not without a sincere sympathy, by many
inferior painters, so that our exhibitions and currently popular books
are full of very lovely and pathetic ideas, expressed with a care, and
appealing to an interest, quite unknown in past times. I will take two
instances of merely average power, as more illustrative of what I mean
than any more singular and distinguished work could be. Last year, in
the British Institution, there were two pictures by the same painter,
one of a domestic, the other of a sacred subject. I will say nothing of
the way in which they were painted; it may have been bad, or good, or
neither: it is not to my point. I wish to direct attention only to the
conception of them. One, "Cradled in his Calling," was of a fisherman
and his wife, and helpful grown-up son, and helpless new-born little
one; the two men carrying the young child up from the shore, rocking it
between them in the wet net for a hammock, the mother looking on
joyously, and the baby laughing. The thought was pretty and good, and
one might go on dreaming over it long--not unprofitably. But the second
picture was more interesting. I describe it only in the circumstances
of the invented scene--sunset after the crucifixion. The bodies have
been taken away, and the crosses are left lying on the broken earth; a
group of children have strayed up the hill, and stopped beside them in
such shadowy awe as is possible to childhood, and they have picked up
one or two of the drawn nails to feel how sharp they are. Meantime a
girl with her little brother--goat-herds both--have been watering their
flock at Kidron, and are driving it home. The girl, strong in grace and
honor of youth, carrying her pitcher of water on her erect head, has
gone on past the place steadily, minding her flock; but her little
curly-headed brother, with cheeks of burning Eastern brown, has lingered
behind to look, and is feeling the point of one of the nails, held in
another child's hand. A lovely little kid of the goats has stayed behind
to keep him company, and is amusing itself by jumping backwards and
forwards over an arm of the cross. The sister looks back, and, wondering
what he can have stopped in that dreadful place for, waves her hand for
the little boy to come away.

I have no hesitation in saying that, as compared with the ancient and
stereotyped conceptions of the "Taking down from the Cross," there is a
living feeling in that picture which is of great price. It may perhaps
be weak, nay, even superficial, or untenable--that will depend on the
other conditions of character out of which it springs--but, so far as it
reaches, it is pure and good; and we may gain more by looking
thoughtfully at such a picture than at any even of the least formal
types of the work of older schools. It would be unfair to compare it
with first-rate, or even approximately first-rate designs; but even
accepting such unjust terms, put it beside Rembrandt's ghastly white
sheet, laid over the two poles at the Cross-foot, and see which has most
good in it for you of any communicable kind.

27. I trust, then, that I fully admit whatever may, on due deliberation,
be alleged in favor of modern Art. Nay, I have heretofore asserted more
for some modern Art than others were disposed to admit, nor do I
withdraw one word from such assertion. But when all has been said and
granted that may be, there remains this painful fact to be dealt
with,--the consciousness, namely, both in living artists themselves and
in us their admirers, that something, and that not a little, is wrong
with us; that they, relentlessly examined, could not say they thoroughly
knew how to paint, and that we, relentlessly examined, could not say we
thoroughly know how to judge. The best of our painters will look a
little to us, the beholders, for confirmation of his having done well.
We, appealed to, look to each other to see what we ought to say. If we
venture to find fault, however submissively, the artist will probably
feel a little uncomfortable: he will by no means venture to meet us with
a serenely crushing "Sir, it cannot be better done," in the manner of
Albert Dürer. And yet, if it could not be better done, he, of all men,
should know that best, nor fear to say so; it is good for himself, and
for us, that he should assert that, if he knows that. The last time my
dear old friend William Hunt came to see me, I took down one of his
early drawings for him to see (three blue plums and one amber one, and
two nuts). So he looked at it, happily, for a minute or two and then
said, "Well, it's very nice, isn't it? I did not think I could have done
so well." The saying was entirely right, exquisitely modest and true;
only I fear he would not have had the courage to maintain that his
drawing was good, if anybody had been there to say otherwise. Still,
having done well, he knew it; and what is more no man ever does do well
without knowing it: he may not know _how_ well, nor be conscious of the
best of his own qualities; nor measure, or care to measure, the relation
of his power to that of other men, but he will know that what he has
done is, in an intended, accomplished, and ascertainable degree, good.
Every able and honest workman, as he wins a right to rest, so he wins a
right to approval,--his own if no one's beside; nay, his only true rest
_is_ in the calm consciousness that the thing has been honorably
done--[Greek: suneidêsis hoti kalon]. I do not use the Greek words in
pedantry, I want them for future service and interpretation; no English
words, nor any of any other language, would do as well. For I mean to
try to show, and believe I _can_ show, that a simple and sure conviction
of our having done rightly is not only an attainable, but a necessary
seal and sign of our having so done; and that the doing well or rightly,
and ill or wrongly, are both conditions of the whole being of each
person, coming of a nature in him which affects all things that he may
do, from the least to the greatest, according to the noble old phrase
for the conquering rightness, of "integrity," "wholeness," or
"wholesomeness." So that when we do external things (that are our
business) ill, it is a sign that internal, and, in fact, that all
things, are ill with us; and when we do external things well, it is a
sign that internal and all things are well with us. And I believe there
are two principal adversities to this wholesomeness of work, and to all
else that issues out of wholeness of inner character, with which we have
in these days specially to contend. The first is the variety of Art
round us, tempting us to thoughtless imitation; the second our own want
of belief in the existence of a rule of right.

28. I. I say the first is the variety of Art around us. No man can
pursue his own track in peace, nor obtain consistent guidance, if
doubtful of his track. All places are full of inconsistent example, all
mouths of contradictory advice, all prospects of opposite temptations.
The young artist sees myriads of things he would like to do, but cannot
learn from their authors how they were done, nor choose decisively any
method which he may follow with the accuracy and confidence necessary to
success. He is not even sure if his thoughts are his own; for the whole
atmosphere round him is full of floating suggestion: those which are his
own he cannot keep pure, for he breathes a dust of decayed ideas, wreck
of the souls of dead nations, driven by contrary winds. He may stiffen
himself (and all the worse for him) into an iron self-will, but if the
iron has any magnetism in it, he cannot pass a day without finding
himself, at the end of it, instead of sharpened or tempered, covered
with a ragged fringe of iron filings. If there be anything better than
iron--living wood fiber--in him, he cannot be allowed any natural
growth, but gets hacked in every extremity, and bossed over with lumps
of frozen clay;--grafts of incongruous blossom that will never set;
while some even recognize no need of knife or clay (though both are good
in a gardener's hand), but deck themselves out with incongruous
glittering, like a Christmas-tree. Even were the style chosen true to
his own nature, and persisted in, there is harm in the very eminence of
the models set before him at the beginning of his career. If he feels
their power, they make him restless and impatient, it may be despondent,
it may be madly and fruitlessly ambitious. If he does not feel it, he is
sure to be struck by what is weakest or slightest of their peculiar
qualities; fancies that _this_ is what they are praised for; tries to
catch the trick of it; and whatever easy vice or mechanical habit the
master may have been betrayed or warped into, the unhappy pupil watches
and adopts, triumphant in its ease:--has not sense to steal the
peacock's feather, but imitates its voice. Better for him, far better,
never to have seen what had been accomplished by others, but to have
gained gradually his own quiet way, or at least with his guide only a
step in advance of him, and the lantern low on the difficult path.
Better even, it has lately seemed, to be guideless and lightless;
fortunate those who, by desolate effort, trying hither and thither, have
groped their way to some independent power. So, from Cornish rock, from
St. Giles's Lane, from Thames mudshore, you get your Prout, your Hunt,
your Turner; not, indeed, any of them well able to spell English, nor
taught so much of their own business as to lay a color safely; but yet
at last, or first, doing somehow something, wholly ineffective on the
national mind, yet real, and valued at last after they are dead, in
money;--valued otherwise not even at so much as the space of dead brick
wall it would cover; their work being left for years packed in parcels
at the National Gallery, or hung conclusively out of sight under the
shadowy iron vaults of Kensington. The men themselves, quite
inarticulate, determine nothing of their Art, interpret nothing of their
own minds; teach perhaps a trick or two of their stage business in
early life--as, for instance, that it is good where there is much black
to break it with white, and where there is much white to break it with
black, etc., etc.; in later life remain silent altogether, or speak only
in despair (fretful or patient according to their character); one who
might have been among the best of them,[63] the last we heard of,
finding refuge for an entirely honest heart from a world which declares
honesty to be impossible, only in a madness nearly as sorrowful as its
own;--the religious madness which makes a beautiful soul ludicrous and
ineffectual; and so passes away, bequeathing for our inheritance from
its true and strong life, a pretty song about a tiger, another about a
bird-cage, two or three golden couplets, which no one will ever take the
trouble to understand,--the spiritual portrait of the ghost of a
flea,--and the critical opinion that "the unorganized blots of Rubens
and Titian are not Art." Which opinion the public mind perhaps not
boldly indorsing, is yet incapable of pronouncing adversely to it, that
the said blots of Titian and Rubens _are_ Art, perceiving for itself
little good in them, and hanging _them_ also well out of its way, at
tops of walls (Titian's portrait of Charles V. at Munich, for example;
Tintoret's Susannah, and Veronese's Magdalen, in the Louvre), that it
may have room and readiness for what may be generally termed "railroad
work," bearing on matters more immediately in hand; said public looking
to the present pleasure of its fancy, and the portraiture of itself in
official and otherwise imposing or entertaining circumstances, as the
only "Right" cognizable by it.

29. II. And this is a deeper source of evil, by far, than the former
one, for though it is ill for us to strain towards a right for which we
have never ripened it is worse for us to believe in no right at all.
"Anything," we say, "that a clever man can do to amuse us is good; what
does not amuse us we do not want. Taste is assuredly a frivolous,
apparently a dangerous gift; vicious persons and vicious nations have
it; we are a practical people, content to know what we like, wise in
not liking it too much, and when tired of it, wise in getting something
we like better. Painting is of course an agreeable ornamental Art,
maintaining a number of persons respectably, deserving therefore
encouragement, and getting it pecuniarily, to a hitherto unheard-of
extent. What would you have more?" This is, I believe, very nearly our
Art-creed. The fact being (very ascertainably by anyone who will take
the trouble to examine the matter), that there is a cultivated Art among
all great nations, inevitably necessary to them as the fulfillment of
one part of their human nature. None but savage nations are without Art,
and civilized nations who do their Art ill, do it because there is
something deeply wrong at their hearts. They paint badly as a paralyzed
man stammers, because his life is touched somewhere within; when the
deeper life is full in a people, they speak clearly and rightly; paint
clearly and rightly; think clearly and rightly. There is some reverse
effect, but very little. Good pictures do not teach a nation; they are
the signs of its having been taught. Good thoughts do not form a nation;
it must be formed before it can think them. Let it once decay at the
heart, and its good work and good thoughts will become subtle luxury and
aimless sophism; and it and they will perish together.

30. It is my purpose, therefore, in some subsequent papers, with such
help as I may anywise receive, to try if there may not be determined
some of the simplest laws which are indeed binding on Art practice and
judgment. Beginning with elementary principle, and proceeding upwards as
far as guiding laws are discernible, I hope to show, that if we do not
yet know them, there are at least such laws to be known, and that it is
of a deep and intimate importance to any people, especially to the
English at this time, that their children should be sincerely taught
whatever arts they learn, and in riper age become capable of a just
choice and wise pleasure in the accomplished works of the artist. But I
earnestly ask for help in this task. It is one which can only come to
good issue by the consent and aid of many thinkers; and I would, with
the permission of the Editor of this Journal, invite debate on the
subject of each paper, together with brief and clear statements of
consent or objection, with name of consenter or objector; so that after
courteous discussion had, and due correction of the original statement,
we may get something at last set down, as harmoniously believed by such
and such known artists. If nothing can thus be determined, at least the
manner and variety of dissent will show whether it is owing to the
nature of the subject, or to the impossibility, under present
circumstances, that different persons should approach it from similar
points of view; and the inquiry, whatever its immediate issue, cannot be
ultimately fruitless.


[62] _Art Journal_, New Series, vol. iv., pp. 5-6. January 1865.--ED.

[63] See p. 353, § 83, for a further mention of William Blake.--ED.



31. Our knowledge of human labor, if intimate enough, will, I think,
mass it for the most part into two kinds--mining and molding; the labor
that seeks for things, and the labor that shapes them. Of these the last
should be always orderly, for we ought to have some conception of the
whole of what we have to make before we try to make any part of it; but
the labor of seeking must be often methodless, following the veins of
the mine as they branch, or trying for them where they are broken. And
the mine, which we would now open into the souls of men, as they govern
the mysteries of their handicrafts, being rent into many dark and
divided ways, it is not possible to map our work beforehand, or resolve
on its directions. We will not attempt to bind ourselves to any
methodical treatment of our subject, but will get at the truths of it
here and there, as they seem extricable; only, though we cannot know to
what depth we may have to dig, let us know clearly what we are digging
for. We desire to find by what rule some Art is called good, and other
Art bad: we desire to find the conditions of character in the artist
which are essentially connected with the goodness of his work: we desire
to find what are the methods of practice which form this character or
corrupt it; and finally, how the formation or corruption of this
character is connected with the general prosperity of nations.

32. And all this we want to learn practically: not for mere pleasant
speculation on things that have been; but for instant direction of those
that are yet to be. My first object is to get at some fixed principles
for the teaching of Art to our youth; and I am about to ask, of all who
may be able to give me a serviceable answer, and with and for all who
are anxious for such answer, what arts should be generally taught to the
English boy and girl,--by what methods,--and to what ends? How well, or
how imperfectly, our youth of the higher classes should be disciplined
in the practice of music and painting?--how far, among the lower
classes, exercise in certain mechanical arts might become a part of
their school life?--how far, in the adult life of this nation, the Fine
Arts may advisably supersede or regulate the mechanical Arts? Plain
questions these, enough; clearly also important ones; and, as clearly,
boundless ones--mountainous--infinite in contents--only to be mined into
in a scrambling manner by poor inquirers, as their present tools and
sight may serve.

33. I have often been accused of dogmatism, and confess to the holding
strong opinions on some matters; but I tell the reader in sincerity, and
entreat him in sincerity to believe, that I do not think myself able to
dictate anything positive respecting questions of this magnitude. The
one thing I am sure of is, the need of some form of dictation; or, where
that is as yet impossible, at least of consistent experiment, for the
just solution of doubts which present themselves every day in more
significant and more impatient temper of interrogation.

Here is one, for instance, lying at the base of all the rest--namely,
what may be the real dignity of mechanical Art itself? I cannot express
the amazed awe, the crushed humility, with which I sometimes watch a
locomotive take its breath at a railway station, and think what work
there is in its bars and wheels, and what manner of men they must be who
dig brown iron-stone out of the ground, and forge it into THAT! What
assemblage of accurate and mighty faculties in them; more than fleshly
power over melting crag and coiling fire, fettered, and finessed at last
into the precision of watchmaking; Titanian hammer-strokes beating, out
of lava, these glittering cylinders and timely-respondent valves, and
fine ribbed rods, which touch each other as a serpent writhes, in
noiseless gliding, and omnipotence of grasp; infinitely complex anatomy
of active steel, compared with which the skeleton of a living creature
would seem, to a careless observer, clumsy and vile--a mere morbid
secretion and phosphatous prop of flesh! What would the men who thought
out this--who beat it out, who touched it into its polished calm of
power, who set it to its appointed task, and triumphantly saw it fulfill
this task to the utmost of their will--feel or think about this weak
hand of mine, timidly leading a little stain of water-color, which I
cannot manage, into an imperfect shadow of something else--mere failure
in every motion, and endless disappointment; what, I repeat, would these
Iron-dominant Genii think of me? and what ought I to think of them?

34. But as I reach this point of reverence, the unreasonable thing is
sure to give a shriek as of a thousand unanimous vultures, which leaves
me shuddering in real physical pain for some half minute following; and
assures me, during slow recovery, that a people which can endure such
fluting and piping among them is not likely soon to have its modest ear
pleased by aught of oaten stop, or pastoral song. Perhaps I am then led
on into meditation respecting the spiritual nature of the Tenth Muse,
who invented this gracious instrument, and guides its modulation by
stokers' fingers; meditation, also, as to the influence of her invention
amidst the other parts of the Parnassian melody of English education.
Then it cannot but occur to me to inquire how far this modern "pneuma,"
Steam, may be connected with other pneumatic powers talked of in that
old religious literature, of which we fight so fiercely to keep the
letters bright, and the working valves, so to speak, in good order
(while we let the steam of it all carefully off into the cold
condenser), what connection, I say, this modern "spiritus," in its
valve-directed inspiration, has with that more ancient spiritus, or warm
breath, which people used to think they might be "born of." Whether, in
fine, there be any such thing as an entirely human Art, with spiritual
motive power, and signal as of human voice, distinct inherently from
this mechanical Art, with its mechanical motive force, and signal of
vulture voice. For after all, this shrieking thing, whatever the fine
make of it may be, can but pull or push, and do oxen's work in an
impetuous manner. That proud king of Assyria, who lost his reason, and
ate oxen's food, would he have much more cause for pride, if he had been
allowed to spend his reason in doing oxen's work?

35. These things, then, I would fain consult about, and plead with the
reader for his patience in council, even while we begin with the
simplest practical matters; for raveled briers of thought entangle our
feet, even at our first step. We would teach a boy to draw. Well, what
shall he draw?--Gods, or men, or beasts, or clouds, or leaves, or iron
cylinders? Are there any gods to be drawn? any men or women worth
drawing, or only worth caricaturing? What are the æsthetic laws
respecting iron cylinders; and would Titian have liked them rusty, or
fresh cleaned with oil and rag, to fill the place once lightened by St.
George's armor? How can we begin the smallest practical business, unless
we get first some whisper of answer to such questions? We may tell a boy
to draw a straight line straight, and a crooked one crooked; but what

And it renders the dilemma, or multilemma, more embarrassing, that
whatever teaching is to be had from the founders and masters of art is
quite unpractical. The first source from which we should naturally seek
for guidance would, of course, be the sayings of great workmen; but a
sorrowful perception presently dawns on us that the great workmen have
nothing to say. They are silent, absolutely in proportion to their
creative power. The contributions to our practical knowledge
of the principles of Art, furnished by the true captains of its
hosts, may, I think, be arithmetically summed by the +O+ of
Giotto: the inferior teachers become didactic in the degree of their
inferiority; and those who can do nothing have always much to advise.

36. This however, observe, is only true of advice direct. You never, I
grieve to say, get from the great men a plain answer to a plain
question; still less can you entangle them in any agreeable gossip, out
of which something might unawares be picked up. But of enigmatical
teaching, broken signs and sullen mutterings, of which you can
understand nothing, and may make anything;--of confused discourse in the
work itself, about the work, as in Dürer's Melancolia;--and of discourse
not merely confused, but apparently unreasonable and ridiculous, about
all manner of things _except_ the work,--the great Egyptian and Greek
artists give us much: from which, however, all that by utmost industry
may be gathered, comes briefly to this,--that they have no conception of
what modern men of science call the "Conservation of forces," but deduce
all the force they feel in themselves, and hope for in others, from
certain fountains or centers of perpetually supplied strength, to which
they give various names: as, for instance, these seven following, more

     1. The Spirit of Light, moral and physical, by name the
     "Physician-Destroyer," bearing arrows in his hand, and a lyre;
     pre-eminently the destroyer of human pride, and the guide of human
     harmony. Physically, Lord of the Sun; and a mountain Spirit,
     because the sun seems first to rise and set upon hills.

     2. The Spirit of helpful Darkness--of shade and rest. Night the

     3. The Spirit of Wisdom in _Conduct_, bearing, in sign of conquest
     over troublous and disturbing evil, the skin of the wild goat, and
     the head of the slain Spirit of physical storm. In her hand, a
     weaver's shuttle, or a spear.

     4. The Spirit of Wisdom in _Arrangement_; called the Lord or Father
     of Truth: throned on a four-square cubit, with a measuring-rod in
     his hand, or a potter's wheel.

     5. The Spirit of Wisdom in _Adaptation_; or of serviceable labor:
     the Master of human effort in its glow; and Lord of useful fire,
     moral and physical.

     6. The Spirit, first of young or nascent grace, and then of
     fulfilled beauty: the wife of the Lord of Labor. I have taken the
     two lines in which Homer describes her girdle, for the motto of
     these essays: partly in memory of these outcast fancies of the
     great masters: and partly for the sake of a meaning which we shall
     find as we go on.

     7. The Spirit of pure human life and gladness. Master of wholesome
     vital passion; and physically, Lord of the Vine.

37. From these ludicrous notions of motive force, inconsistent as they
are with modern physiology and organic chemistry, we may, nevertheless,
hereafter gather, in the details of their various expressions, something
useful to us. But I grieve to say that when our provoking teachers
descend from dreams about the doings of Gods to assertions respecting
the deeds of Men, little beyond the blankest discouragement is to be had
from them. Thus, they represent the ingenuity, and deceptive or
imitative Arts of men, under the type of a Master who builds labyrinths,
and makes images of living creatures, for evil purposes, or for none;
and pleases himself and the people with idle jointing of toys, and
filling of them with quicksilver motion; and brings his child to
foolish, remediless catastrophe, in fancying his father's work as good,
and strong, and fit to bear sunlight, as if it had been God's work. So,
again, they represent the foresight and kindly zeal of men by a most
rueful figure of one chained down to a rock by the brute force and bias
and methodical hammer-stroke of the merely practical Arts, and by the
merciless Necessities or Fates of present time; and so having his very
heart torn piece by piece out of him by a vulturous hunger and sorrow,
respecting things he cannot reach, nor prevent, nor achieve. So, again,
they describe the sentiment and pure soul-power of Man, as moving the
very rocks and trees, and giving them life, by its sympathy with them;
but losing its own best-beloved thing by mere venomous accident: and
afterwards going down to hell for it, in vain; being impatient and
unwise, though full of gentleness; and, in the issue, after as vainly
trying to teach this gentleness to others, and to guide them out of
their lower passions to sunlight of true healing Life, it drives the
sensual heart of them, and the gods that govern it, into mere and pure
frenzy of resolved rage, and gets torn to pieces by them, and ended;
only the nightingale staying by its grave to sing. All which appearing
to be anything rather than helpful or encouraging instruction for
beginners, we shall, for the present, I think, do well to desire these
enigmatical teachers to put up their pipes and be gone; and betaking
ourselves in the humblest manner to intelligible business, at least set
down some definite matter for decision, to be made a first
stepping-stone at the shore of this brook of despond and difficulty.

38. Most masters agree (and I believe they are right) that the first
thing to be taught to any pupil, is how to draw an outline of such
things as can be outlined.

Now, there are two kinds of outline--the soft and hard. One must be
executed with a soft instrument, as a piece of chalk or lead; and the
other with some instrument producing for ultimate result a firm line of
equal darkness; as a pen with ink, or the engraving tool on wood or

And these two kinds of outline have both of them their particular
objects and uses, as well as their proper scale of size in work. Thus
Raphael will sketch a miniature head with his pen, but always takes
chalk if he draws of the size of life. So also Holbein, and generally
the other strong masters.

But the black outline seems to be peculiarly that which we ought to
begin to reason upon, because it is simple and open-hearted, and does
not endeavor to escape into mist. A pencil line may be obscurely and
undemonstrably wrong; false in a cowardly manner, and without
confession: but the ink line, if it goes wrong at all, goes wrong with a
will, and may be convicted at our leisure, and put to such shame as its
black complexion is capable of. May we, therefore, begin with the hard
line? It will lead us far, if we can come to conclusions about it.

39. Presuming, then, that our schoolboys are such as Coleridge would
have them--_i.e._ that they are

           "Innocent, steady, and wise,
   And delight in the things of earth, water, and skies,"

and, above all, in a moral state in which they may be trusted with
ink--we put a pen into their hands (shall it be steel?) and a piece of
smooth white paper, and something before them to draw. But what? "Nay,"
the reader answers, "you had surely better give them pencil first, for
that may be rubbed out." Perhaps so; but I am not sure that the power of
rubbing out is an advantage; at all events, we shall best discover what
the pencil outline ought to be, by investigating the power of the black
one, and the kind of things we can draw with it.

40. Suppose, for instance, my first scholar has a turn for entomology,
and asks me to draw for him a wasp's leg, or its sting; having first
humanely provided me with a model by pulling one off or out. My pen must
clearly be fine at the point, and my execution none of the boldest, if I
comply with his request. If I decline, and he thereupon challenges me at
least to draw the wasp's body, with its pretty bands of black
crinoline--behold us involved instantly in the profound question of
local color! Am I to tell him he is not to draw outlines of bands or
spots? How, then, shall he know a wasp's body from a bee's? I escape,
for the present, by telling him the story of Dædalus and the honeycomb;
set him to draw a pattern of hexagons, and lay the question of black
bands up in my mind.

41. The next boy, we may suppose, is a conchologist, and asks me to draw
a white snail-shell for him! Veiling my consternation at the idea of
having to give a lesson on the perspective of geometrical spirals, with
an "austere regard of control" I pass on to the next student:--Who,
bringing after him, with acclamation, all the rest of the form,
requires of me contemptuously, to "draw a horse."

And I retreat in final discomfiture; for not only I cannot myself
execute, but I have never seen, an outline, quite simply and rightly
done, either of a shell or a pony; nay, not so much as of a pony's nose.
At a girls' school we might perhaps take refuge in rosebuds: but these
boys, with their impatient battle-cry, "my kingdom for a horse," what is
to be done for them?

42. Well, this is what I should like to be able to do for them. To show
them an enlarged black outline, nobly done, of the two sides of a coin
of Tarentum, with that fiery rider kneeling, careless, on his horse's
neck, and reclined on his surging dolphin, with the curled sea lapping
round them; and then to convince my boys that no one (unless it were
Taras's father himself, with the middle prong of his trident) could draw
a horse like that, without learning;--that for poor mortals like us
there must be sorrowful preparatory stages; and, having convinced them
of this, set them to draw (if I had a good copy to give them) a horse's
hoof, or his rib, or a vertebra of his thunder-clothed neck, or any
other constructive piece of him.

43. Meanwhile, all this being far out of present reach, I am fain to
shrink back into my snail-shell, both for shelter and calm of peace; and
ask of artists in general how the said shell, or any other simple object
involving varied contour, _should_ be outlined in ink?--how thick the
lines should be, and how varied? My own idea of an elementary outline is
that it should be unvaried; distinctly visible; not thickened towards
the shaded sides of the object; not express any exaggerations of aërial
perspective, nor fade at the further side of a cup as if it were the
further side of a crater of a volcano; and therefore, in objects of
ordinary size, show no gradation at all, unless where the real outline
disappears, as in soft contours and folds. Nay, I think it may even be a
question whether we ought not to resolve that the line should never
gradate itself at all, but terminate quite bluntly! Albert Dürer's
"Cannon" furnishes a very peculiar and curious example of this entirely
equal line, even to the extreme distance; being in that respect opposed
to nearly all his other work, which is wrought mostly by tapering lines;
and his work in general, and Holbein's, which appear to me entirely
typical of rightness in use of the graver and pen, are to be considered
carefully in their relation to Rembrandt's loose etching, as in the
"Spotted Shell."

44. But I do not want to press my own opinions now, even when I have
been able to form them distinctly. I want to get at some unanimous
expression of opinion and method; and would propose, therefore, in all
modesty, this question for discussion, by such artists as will favor me
with answer,[65] giving their names:--_How ought the pen to be used to
outline a form of varied contour; and ought outline to be entirely pure,
or, even in its most elementary types, to pass into some suggestion of
shade in the inner masses?_ For there are no examples whatever of pure
outlines by the great masters. They are always touched or modified by
inner lines, more or less suggestive of solid form, and they are lost or
accentuated in certain places, not so much in conformity with any
explicable law, as in expression of the master's future purpose, or of
what he wishes immediately to note in the character of the object. Most
of them are irregular memoranda, not systematic elementary work: of
those which are systematized, the greater part are carried far beyond
the initiative stage; and Holbein's are nearly all washed with color:
the exact degree in which he depends upon the softening and extending
his touch of ink by subsequent solution of it, being indeterminable,
though exquisitely successful. His stupendous drawings in the British
Museum (I can justly use no other term than "stupendous," of their
consummately decisive power) furnish finer instances of this treatment
than any at Basle; but it would be very difficult to reduce them to a
definable law. Venetian outlines are rare, except preparations on
canvas, often shaded before coloring;--while Raphael's, if not shaded,
are quite loose, and useless as examples to a beginner: so that we are
left wholly without guide as to the preparatory steps on which we should
decisively insist; and I am myself haunted by the notion that the
students were forced to shade firmly from the very beginning, in all the
greatest schools; only we never can get hold of any beginnings, or any
weak work of those schools: whatever is bad in them comes of decadence,
not infancy.

45. I purpose in the next essay[66] to enter upon quite another part of
the inquiry, so as to leave time for the reception of communications
bearing upon the present paper: and, according to their importance, I
shall ask leave still to defer our return to the subject until I have
had time to reflect upon them, and to collect for public service the
concurrent opinions they may contain.


[64] _Art Journal_, vol. iv., pp. 33-5. February 1865. The first word
being printed in plain capitals instead of with an ornamental initial
letter generally used by the _Art Journal_, the following note was added
by the author:--"I beg the Editor's and reader's pardon for an
informality in the type; but I shrink from ornamental letters, and have
begged for a legible capital instead."--ED.

[65] I need not say that this inquiry can only be pursued by the help of
those who will take it up good-humoredly and graciously: such help I
will receive in the spirit in which it is given; entering into no
controversy, but questioning further where there is doubt: gathering all
I can into focus, and passing silently by what seems at last

[66] This essay, Chapter II. in the _Art Journal_, is here omitted as
having been already reprinted with only a few verbal alterations in _The
Queen of the Air_, §§ 135 to 142 inclusive, which see. The _Art
Journal_, however, contained a final paragraph, introductory of Chapter
III., which is omitted in _The Queen of the Air_, and was as
follows:--"To the discernment of this law" (_i.e._, that to which the
arts are subject, see _Queen of the Air_, § 142) "we will now address
ourselves slowly, beginning with the consideration of little things, and
of easily definable virtues. And since Patience is the pioneer of all
the others, I shall endeavor in the next paper to show how that modest
virtue has been either held of no account, or else set to vilest work in
our modern Art-schools; and what harm has resulted from such disdain, or
such employment of her."--ED.

|Transcriber's note:                     |
|                                        |
|Chapter II is missing from the original.|


   "Dame Paciencë sitting there I fonde,
   With facë pale, upon an hill of sonde."

46. As I try to summon this vision of Chaucer's into definiteness, and
as it fades before me, and reappears, like the image of Piccarda in the
moon, there mingles with it another;--the image of an Italian child,
lying, she also, upon a hill of sand, by Eridanus' side; a vision which
has never quite left me since I saw it. A girl of ten or twelve, it
might be; one of the children to whom there has never been any other
lesson taught than that of patience:--patience of famine and thirst;
patience of heat and cold; patience of fierce word and sullen blow;
patience of changeless fate and giftless time. She was lying with her
arms thrown back over her head, all languid and lax, on an earth-heap by
the river side (the softness of the dust being the only softness she had
ever known), in the southern suburb of Turin, one golden afternoon in
August, years ago. She had been at play, after her fashion, with other
patient children, and had thrown herself down to rest, full in the sun,
like a lizard. The sand was mixed with the draggled locks of her black
hair, and some of it sprinkled over her face and body, in an
"ashes to ashes" kind of way; a few black rags about her loins,
but her limbs nearly bare, and her little breasts, scarce dimpled
yet,--white,--marble-like--but, as wasted marble, thin with the
scorching and the rains of Time. So she lay, motionless; black and white
by the shore in the sun; the yellow light flickering back upon her from
the passing eddies of the river, and burning down on her from the west.
So she lay, like a dead Niobid: it seemed as if the Sun-God, as he sank
towards gray Viso (who stood pale in the southwest, and pyramidal as a
tomb), had been wroth with Italy for numbering her children too
carefully, and slain this little one. Black and white she lay, all
breathless, in a sufficiently pictorial manner: the gardens of the Villa
Regina gleamed beyond, graceful with laurel-grove and labyrinthine
terrace; and folds of purple mountain were drawn afar, for curtains
round her little dusty bed.

47. Pictorial enough, I repeat; and yet I might not now have remembered
her, so as to find her figure mingling, against my will, with other
images, but for her manner of "revival." For one of her playmates coming
near, cast some word at her which angered her; and she rose--"en ego,
victa situ"--she rose with a single spring, like a snake; one hardly saw
the motion; and with a shriek so shrill that I put my hands upon my
ears; and so uttered herself, indignant and vengeful, with words of
justice,--Alecto standing by, satisfied, teaching her acute, articulate
syllables, and adding her own voice to carry them thrilling through the
blue laurel shadows. And having spoken, she went her way, wearily: and I
passed by on the other side, meditating, with such Levitical propriety
as a respectable person should, on the asplike Passion, following the
sorrowful Patience; and on the way in which the saying, "Dust shalt thou
eat all thy days" has been confusedly fulfilled, first by much provision
of human dust for the meat of what Keats calls "human serpentry;" and
last, by gathering the Consumed and Consumer into dust together, for the
meat of the death spirit, or serpent Apap. Neither could I, for long,
get rid of the thought of this strange dust-manufacture under the
mill-stones, as it were, of Death; and of the two colors of the grain,
discriminate beneath, though indiscriminately cast into the hopper. For
indeed some of it seems only to be made whiter for its patience, and
becomes kneadable into spiced bread, where they sell in Babylonian
shops "slaves, and souls of men;" but other some runs dark from under
the mill-stones; a little sulphurous and nitrous foam being mingled in
the conception of it; and is ominously stored up in magazines near
river-embankments; patient enough--for the present.

48. But it is provoking to me that the image of this child mingles
itself now with Chaucer's; for I should like truly to know what Chaucer
means by his sand-hill. Not but that this is just one of those
enigmatical pieces of teaching which we have made up our minds not to be
troubled with, since it may evidently mean just what we like. Sometimes
I would fain have it to mean the ghostly sand of the horologe of the
world: and I think that the pale figure is seated on the recording heap,
which rises slowly, and ebbs in giddiness, and flows again, and rises,
tottering; and still she sees, falling beside her, the never-ending
stream of phantom sand. Sometimes I like to think that she is seated on
the sand because she is herself the Spirit of Staying, and victor over
all things that pass and change;--quicksand of the desert in moving
pillar; quicksand of the sea in moving floor; roofless all, and
unabiding, but she abiding;--to herself, her home. And sometimes I
think, though I do not like to think (neither did Chaucer mean this, for
he always meant the lovely thing first, not the low one), that she is
seated on her sand-heap as the only treasure to be gained by human toil;
and that the little ant-hill, where the best of us creep to and fro,
bears to angelic eyes, in the patientest gathering of its galleries,
only the aspect of a little heap of dust; while for the worst of us, the
heap, still lower by the leveling of those winged surveyors, is high
enough, nevertheless, to overhang, and at last to close in judgment, on
the seventh day, over the journeyers to the fortunate Islands; while to
their dying eyes, through the mirage, "the city sparkles like a grain of

49. But of course it does not in the least matter what it means. All
that matters specially to us in Chaucer's vision, is that, next to
Patience (as the reader will find by looking at the context in the
"Assembly of Foules"), were "Beheste" and "Art;"--Promise, that is, and
Art: and that, although these visionary powers are here waiting only in
one of the outer courts of Love, and the intended patience is here only
the long-suffering of love; and the intended beheste, its promise; and
the intended art, its cunning,--the same powers companion each other
necessarily in the courts and antechamber of every triumphal home of
man. I say triumphal home, for, indeed, triumphal _arches_ which you
pass under, are but foolish things, and may be nailed together any day,
out of pasteboard and filched laurel; but triumphal _doors_, which you
can enter in at, with living laurel crowning the Lares, are not so easy
of access: and outside of them waits always this sad portress, Patience;
that is to say, the submission to the eternal laws of Pain and Time, and
acceptance of them as inevitable, smiling at the grief. So much pains
you shall take--so much time you shall wait: that is the Law. Understand
it, honor it; with peace of heart accept the pain, and attend the hours;
and as the husbandman in his waiting, you shall see, first the blade,
and then the ear, and then the laughing of the valleys. But refuse the
Law, and seek to do your work in your own time, or by any serpentine way
to evade the pain, and you shall have no harvest--nothing but apples of
Sodom: dust shall be your meat, and dust in your throat--there is no
singing in such harvest time.

50. And this is true for all things, little and great. There is a time
and a way in which they can be done: none shorter--none smoother. For
all noble things, the time is long and the way rude. You may fret and
fume as you will; for every start and struggle of impatience there shall
be so much attendant failure; if impatience become a habit, nothing but
failure: until on the path you have chosen for your better swiftness,
rather than the honest flinty one, there shall follow you, fast at hand,
instead of Beheste and Art for companions, those two wicked hags,

   "With hoary locks all loose, and visage grim;
   Their feet unshod, their bodies wrapt in rags,
   And both as swift on foot as chased stags;
   And yet the one her other legge had lame,
   Which with a staff all full of little snags
   She did support, and Impotence her name:
   But th' other was Impatience, armed with raging flame."

"_Raging_ flame," note; unserviceable;--flame of the black grain. But
the fire which Patience carries in her hand is that truly stolen from
Heaven, in the _pith_ of the rod--fire of the slow match; persistent
Fire like it also in her own body,--fire in the marrow; unquenchable
incense of life: though it may seem to the bystanders that there is no
breath in her, and she holds herself like a statue, as Hermione, "the
statue lady," or Griselda, "the stone lady;" unless indeed one looks
close for the glance _forward_, in the eyes, which distinguishes such
pillars from the pillars, not of flesh, but of salt, whose eyes are set

51. I cannot get to my work in this paper, somehow; the web of these old
enigmas entangles me again and again. That rough syllable which begins
the name of Griselda, "Gries," "the stone;" the roar of the long fall of
the Toccia seems to mix with the sound of it, bringing thoughts of the
great Alpine patience; mute snow wreathed by gray rock, till avalanche
time comes--patience of mute tormented races till the time of the Gray
league came; at last impatient. (Not that, hitherto, it has hewn its way
to much: the Rhine-foam of the Via Mala seeming to have done its work
better.) But it is a noble color that Grison Gray;--dawn color--graceful
for a faded silk to ride in, and wonderful, in paper, for getting a glow
upon, if you begin wisely, as you may some day perhaps see by those
Turner sketches at Kensington, if ever anybody can see them.

52. But we _will_ get to work now; the work being to understand, if we
may, what tender creatures are indeed riding with us, the British
public, in faded silk, and handing our plates for us with tender little
thumbs, and never wearing, or doing, anything else (not always having
much to put on their own plates). The loveliest arts, the arts of
noblest descent, have been long doing this for us, and are still, and we
have no idea of their being Princesses, but keep them ill-entreated and
enslaved: vociferous as we are against Black slavery, while we are
gladly acceptant of Gray; and fain to keep Aglaia and her
sisters--Urania and hers,--serving us in faded silk, and taken for
kitchen-wenches. We are mad Sanchos, not mad Quixotes: our eyes enchant

53. For one instance only: has the reader ever reflected on the
patience, and deliberate subtlety, and unostentatious will, involved in
the ordinary process of steel engraving; that process of which engravers
themselves now with doleful voices deplore the decline, and with
sorrowful hearts expect the extinction, after their own days?

By the way--my friends of the field of steel,--you need fear nothing of
the kind. What there is of mechanical in your work; of habitual and
thoughtless, of vulgar or servile--for that, indeed, the time has come;
the sun will burn it up for you, very ruthlessly; but what there is of
human liberty, and of sanguine life, in finger and fancy, is kindred of
the sun, and quite inextinguishable by him. He is the very last of
divinities who would wish to extinguish it. With his red right hand,
though full of lightning coruscation, he will faithfully and tenderly
clasp yours, warm blooded; you will see the vermilion in the
flesh-shadows all the clearer; but your hand will not be withered. I
tell you--(dogmatically, if you like to call it so, knowing it well)--a
square inch of man's engraving is worth all the photographs that ever
were dipped in acid (or left half-washed afterwards, which is saying
much)--only it must be man's engraving; not machine's engraving. You
have founded a school on patience and labor--only. That school must soon
be extinct. You will have to found one on thought, which is Phoenician
in immortality and fears no fire. Believe me, photography can do against
line engraving just what Madame Tussaud's wax-work can do against
sculpture. That, and no more. You are too timid in this matter; you are
like Isaac in that picture of Mr. Schnorr's in the last number of this
Journal, and with Teutonically metaphysical precaution, shade your eyes
from the sun with your back to it. Take courage; turn your eyes to it
in an aquiline manner; put more sunshine on your steel, and less burr;
and leave the photographers to their Phoebus of Magnesium wire.

54. Not that I mean to speak disrespectfully of magnesium. I honor it to
its utmost fiery particle (though I think the soul a fierier one); and I
wish the said magnesium all comfort and triumph; nightly-lodging in
lighthouses, and utter victory over coal gas. Could Titian but have
known what the gnomes who built his dolomite crags above Cadore had
mixed in the make of them,--and that one day--one night, I mean--his
blue distances would still be seen pure blue, by light got out of his
own mountains!

Light out of limestone--color out of coal--and white wings out of hot
water! It is a great age this of ours, for traction and extraction, if
it only knew what to extract from itself, or where to drag itself to!

55. But in the meantime I want the public to admire this patience of
yours, while they have it, and to understand what it has cost to give
them even this, which has to pass away. We will not take instance in
figure engraving, of which the complex skill and textural gradation by
dot and checker must be wholly incomprehensible to amateurs; but we will
take a piece of average landscape engraving, such as is sent out of any
good workshop--the master who puts his name at the bottom of the plate
being of course responsible only for the general method, for the
sufficient skill of subordinate hands, and for the few finishing touches
if necessary. We will take, for example, the plate of Turner's "Mercury
and Argus," engraved in this Journal.[68]

56. I suppose most people, looking at such a plate, fancy it is produced
by some simple mechanical artifice, which is to drawing only what
printing is to writing. They conclude, at all events, that there is
something complacent, sympathetic, and helpful in the nature of steel;
so that while a pen-and-ink sketch may always be considered an
achievement proving cleverness in the sketcher, a sketch on steel comes
out by mere favor of the indulgent metal: or perhaps they think the
plate is woven like a piece of pattern silk, and the pattern is
developed by pasteboard cards punched full of holes. Not so. Look close
at that engraving--imagine it to be a drawing in pen and ink, and
yourself required similarly to produce its parallel! True, the steel
point has the one advantage of not blotting, but it has tenfold or
twentyfold disadvantage, in that you cannot slur, nor efface, except in
a very resolute and laborious way, nor play with it, nor even see what
you are doing with it at the moment, far less the effect that is to be.
You must _feel_ what you are doing with it, and know precisely what you
have got to do; how deep--how broad--how far apart--your lines must be,
etc. and etc. (a couple of lines of etc.'s would not be enough to imply
all you must know). But suppose the plate _were_ only a pen drawing:
take your pen--your finest--and just try to copy the leaves that
entangle the nearest cow's head and the head itself; remembering always
that the kind of work required here is mere child's play compared to
that of fine figure engraving. Nevertheless, take a strong magnifying
glass to this--count the dots and lines that gradate the nostrils and
the edges of the facial bone; notice how the light is left on the top of
the head by the stopping at its outline of the coarse touches which form
the shadows under the leaves; examine it well, and then--I humbly ask of
you--try to do a piece of it yourself! You clever sketcher--you young
lady or gentleman of genius--you eye-glassed dilettante--you current
writer of criticism royally plural,--I beseech you--do it yourself; do
the merely etched outline yourself, if no more. Look you,--you hold your
etching needle this way, as you would a pencil, nearly; and then,--you
scratch with it! it is as easy as lying. Or if you think that too
difficult, take an easier piece;--take either of the light sprays of
foliage that rise against the fortress on the right, put your glass over
them--look how their fine outline is first drawn, leaf by leaf; then
how the distant rock is put in between, with broken lines, mostly
stopping before they touch the leaf outline, and--again, I pray you, do
it yourself; if not on that scale, on a larger. Go on into the hollows
of the distant rock--traverse its thickets--number its towers--count how
many lines there are in a laurel bush--in an arch--in a casement: some
hundred and fifty, or two hundred, deliberately drawn lines, you will
find, in every square quarter of an inch;--say three thousand to the
inch,--each with skillful intent put in its place! and then consider
what the ordinary sketcher's work must appear to the men who have been
trained to this!

57. "But might not more have been done by three thousand lines to a
square inch?" you will perhaps ask. Well, possibly. It may be with lines
as with soldiers: three hundred, knowing their work thoroughly, may be
stronger than three thousand less sure of their game. We shall have
to press close home this question about numbers and purpose
presently;--it is not the question now. Supposing certain results
required,--atmospheric effects, surface textures, transparencies of
shade, confusions of light,--more could _not_ be done with less. There
are engravings of this modern school, of which, with respect to their
particular aim, it may be said, most truly, they "_cannot_ be better

58. Whether an engraving should aim at effects of atmosphere, may be
disputable (just as also whether a sculptor should aim at effects of
perspective); but I do not raise these points to-day. Admit the aim--let
us note the patience; nor this in engraving only. I have taken an
engraving for my instance, but I might have taken any form of Art. I
call upon all good artists, painters, sculptors, metal-workers, to bear
witness with me in what I now tell the public in their name,--that the
same Fortitude, the same deliberation, the same perseverance in resolute
act--is needed to do _anything_ in Art that is worthy. And why is it,
you workmen, that you are silent always concerning your toil; and mock
at us in your hearts, within that shrine at Eleusis, to the gate of
which you have hewn your way through so deadly thickets of thorn; and
leave us, foolish children, outside, in our conceited thinking either
that we can enter it in play, or that we are grander for not entering?
Far more earnestly is it to be asked, why do you _stoop_ to us as you
mock us? If your secrecy were a noble one,--if, in that incommunicant
contempt, you wrought your own work with majesty, whether we would
receive it or not, it were kindly, though ungraciously, done; but now
you make yourselves our toys, and do our childish will in servile
silence. If engraving were to come to an end this day, and no guided
point should press metal more, do you think it would be in a blaze of
glory that your art would expire?--that those plates in the annuals, and
black proofs in broad shop windows, are of a nobly monumental
character,--"chalybe perennius"? I am afraid your patience has been too
much like yonder poor Italian child's; and over that genius of yours,
low laid by the Matin shore, if it expired so, the lament for Archytas
would have to be sung again;--"pulveris exigui--munera." Suppose you
were to shake off the dust again! cleanse your wings, like the morning
bees on that Matin promontory; rise, in noble _im_patience, for there is
such a thing: the Impatience of the Fourth Cornice.

   "Cui buon voler, e giusto amor cavalca."

Shall we try, together, to think over the meaning of that Haste, when
the May mornings come?


[67] A small portion of this chapter was read by Mr. Ruskin, at Oxford,
in November 1884, as a by-lecture, during the delivery of the course on
the "Pleasures of England."--ED.

[68] The rest of this and the whole of the succeeding paragraph is also
reprinted in _Ariadne Florentina_, § 115, and para. i. of 116.--ED.


59. It is a wild March day,--the 20th; and very probably due course of
English Spring will bring as wild a May-day by the time this writing
meets anyone's eyes; but at all events, as yet the days are rough, and
as I look out of my fitfully lighted window into the garden, everything
seems in a singular hurry. The dead leaves; and yonder two living ones,
on the same stalk, tumbling over and over each other on the lawn, like a
quaint mechanical toy; and the fallen sticks from the rooks' nests, and
the twisted straws out of the stable-yard--all going one way, in the
hastiest manner! The puffs of steam, moreover, which pass under the
wooded hills where what used to be my sweetest field-walk ends now,
prematurely, in an abyss of blue clay; and which signify, in their
silvery expiring between the successive trunks of wintry trees, that
some human beings, thereabouts, are in a hurry as well as the sticks and
straws, and, having fastened themselves to the tail of a manageable
breeze, are being blown down to Folkestone.

60. In the general effect of these various passages and passengers, as
seen from my quiet room, they look all very much alike. One begins
seriously to question with one's self whether those passengers by the
Folkestone train are in truth one whit more in a hurry than the dead
leaves. The difference consists, of course, in the said passengers
knowing where they are going to, and why; and having resolved to go
there--which, indeed, as far as Folkestone, may, perhaps, properly
distinguish them from the leaves: but will it distinguish them any
farther? Do many of them know what they are going to Folkestone
for?--what they are going anywhere for? and where, at last, by sum of
all the days' journeys, of which this glittering transit is one, they
are going for peace? For if they know not this, certainly they are no
more making haste than the straws are. Perhaps swiftly going the wrong
way; more likely going no way--any way, as the winds and their own
wills, wilder than the winds, dictate; to find themselves at last at the
end which would have come to them quickly enough without their seeking.

61. And, indeed, this is a very preliminary question to all measurement
of the rate of going, this "where to?" or, even before that, "are we
going on at all?"--"getting on" (as the world says) on any road
whatever? Most men's eyes are so fixed on the mere swirl of the wheel of
their fortunes, and their souls so vexed at the reversed cadences of it
when they come, that they forget to ask if the curve they have been
carried through on its circumference was circular or cycloidal; whether
they have been bound to the ups and downs of a mill-wheel or of a

That phrase, of "getting on," so perpetually on our lips (as indeed it
should be), do any of us take it to our hearts, and seriously ask where
we can get on _to_? That instinct of hurry has surely good grounds. It
is all very well for lazy and nervous people (like myself for instance)
to retreat into tubs, and holes, and corners, anywhere out of the dust,
and wonder within ourselves, "what all the fuss can be about?" The fussy
people might have the best of it, if they know their end. Suppose they
were to answer this March or May morning thus:--"Not bestir ourselves,
indeed! and the spring sun up these four hours!--and this first of May,
1865, never to come back again; and of Firsts of May in perspective,
supposing ourselves to be 'nel mezzo del cammin,' perhaps some twenty or
twenty-five to be, not without presumption, hoped for, and by no means
calculated upon. Say, twenty of them, with their following groups of
summer days; and though they may be long, one cannot make much more than
sixteen hours apiece out of them, poor sleepy wretches that we are; for
even if we get up at four, we must go to bed while the red yet stays
from the sunset: and half the time we are awake, we must be lying among
haycocks, or playing at something, if we are wise; not to speak of
eating, and previously earning whereof to eat, which takes time: and
then, how much of us and of our day will be left for getting on? Shall
we have a seventh, or even a tithe, of our twenty-four hours?--two hours
and twenty-four minutes clear, a day, or, roughly, a thousand hours a
year, and (violently presuming on fortune, as we said) twenty years of
working life: twenty thousand hours to get on in, altogether? Many men
would think it hard to be limited to an utmost twenty thousand pounds
for their fortunes, but here is a sterner limitation; the Pactolus of
time, sand, and gold together, would, with such a fortune, count us a
pound an hour, through our real and serviceable life. If this time
capital would reproduce itself! and for our twenty thousand hours we
could get some rate of interest, if well spent? At all events, we will
do something with them; not lie moping out of the way of the dust, as
you do."

62. A sufficient answer, indeed; yet, friends, if you would _make_ a
little less dust, perhaps we should all see our way better. But I am
ready to take the road with you, if you mean it so seriously--only let
us at least consider where we are now, at starting.

Here, on a little spinning, askew-axised thing we call a
planet--(impertinently enough, since we are far more planetary
ourselves). A round, rusty, rough little metallic ball--very hard to
live upon; most of it much too hot or too cold: a couple of narrow
habitable belts about it, which, to wandering spirits, must look like
the places where it has got damp, and green-moldy, with accompanying
small activities of animal life in the midst of the lichen. Explosive
gases, seemingly, inside it, and possibilities of very sudden

63. This is where we are; and roundabout us, there seem to be more of
such balls, variously heated and chilled, ringed and mooned, moved and
comforted; the whole giddy group of us forming an atom in a milky mist,
itself another atom in a shoreless phosphorescent sea of such Volvoces
and Medusæ.

Whereupon, I presume, one would first ask, have we any chance of getting
off this ball of ours, and getting on to one of those finer ones? Wise
people say we have, and that it is very wicked to think otherwise. So we
will think no otherwise; but, with their permission, think nothing about
the matter now, since it is certain that the more we make of our little
rusty world, such as it is, the more chance we have of being one day
promoted into a merrier one.

64. And even on this rusty and moldy Earth, there appear to be things
which may be seen with pleasure, and things which might be done with
advantage. The stones of it have strange shapes; the plants and the
beasts of it strange ways. Its air is coinable into wonderful sounds;
its light into manifold colors: the trees of it bring forth pippins, and
the fields cheese (though both of these may be, in a finer sense, "to
come"). There are bright eyes upon it which reflect the light of other
eyes quite singularly; and foolish feelings to be cherished upon it; and
gladdenings of dust by neighbor dust, not easily explained, but
pleasant, and which take time to win. One would like to know something
of all this, I suppose?--to divide one's score of thousand hours as
shrewdly as might be. Ten minutes to every herb of the field is not
much; yet we shall not know them all, so, before the time comes to be
made grass of ourselves! Half an hour for every crystalline form of clay
and flint, and we shall be near the need of shaping the gray flint stone
that is to weigh upon our feet. And we would fain dance a measure or two
before that cumber is laid upon them: there having been hitherto much
piping to which we have not danced. And we must leave time for loving,
if we are to take Marmontel's wise peasant's word for it, "_Il n'y a de
bon que c'a!_" And if there should be fighting to do also? and weeping?
and much burying? truly, we had better make haste.

65. Which means, simply, that we must lose neither strength nor moment.
Hurry is not haste; but economy is, and rightness is. Whatever is
rightly done stays with us, to support another right beyond, or higher
up: whatever is wrongly done, vanishes; and by the blank, betrays what
we would have built above. Wasting no word, no thought, no doing, we
shall have speed enough; but then there is that farther question, what
shall we do?--what we are fittest (worthiest, that is) to do, and what
is best worth doing? Note that word "worthy," both of the man and the
thing, for the two dignities go together. Is _it_ worth the pains? Are
we worth the task? The dignity of a man depends wholly upon this
harmony. If his task is above him, he will be undignified in failure; if
he is above it, he will be undignified in success. His own composure and
nobleness must be according to the composure of his thought to his toil.

66. As I was dreaming over this, my eyes fell by chance on a page of my
favorite thirteenth century psalter, just where two dragons, one with
red legs, and another with green,--one with a blue tail on a purple
ground, and the other with a rosy tail on a golden ground, follow the
verse "_Quis ascendet in montem Domini_," and begin the solemn "_Qui non
accepit in vano animam suam_." Who hath not lift up his soul unto
vanity, we have it; and [Greek: elaben epi mataiô], the Greeks (not that
I know what that means accurately): broadly, they all mean, "who has not
received nor given his soul in vain," this is the man who can make
haste, even uphill, the only haste worth making; and it must be up the
right hill, too: not that Corinthian Acropolis, of which, I suppose, the
white specter stood eighteen hundred feet high, in Hades, for Sisyphus
to roll his fantastic stone up--image, himself, forever of the greater
part of our wise mortal work.

67. Now all this time, whatever the reader may think, I have never for a
moment lost sight of that original black line with which is our own
special business. The patience, the speed, the dignity, we can give to
that, the choice to be made of subject for it, are the matters I want to
get at. You think, perhaps, that an engraver's function is one of no
very high dignity;--does not involve a serious choice of work. Consider
a little of it. Here is a steel point, and 'tis like Job's "iron
pen"--and you are going to cut into steel with it, in a most deliberate
way, as into the rock forever. And this scratch or inscription of yours
will be seen of a multitude of eyes. It is not like a single picture or
a single wall painting; this multipliable work will pass through
thousand thousand hands, strengthen and inform innumerable souls, if it
be worthy; vivify the folly of thousands if unworthy. Remember, also, it
will mix in the very closest manner in domestic life. This engraving
will not be gossiped over and fluttered past at private views of
academies; listlessly sauntered by in corners of great galleries. Ah,
no! This will hang over parlor chimney-pieces--shed down its hourly
influence on children's forenoon work. This will hang in little luminous
corners by sick beds; mix with flickering dreams by candlelight, and
catch the first rays from the window's "glimmering square." You had
better put something good into it! I do not know a more solemn field of
labor than that _champ d'acier_. From a pulpit, perhaps a man can only
reach one or two people, for that time,--even your book, once carelessly
read, probably goes into a bookcase catacomb, and is thought of no more.
But this; taking the eye unawares again and again, and always again:
persisting and inevitable! where will you look for a chance of saying
something nobly, if it is not here?

68. And the choice is peculiarly free; to you of all men most free. An
artist, at first invention, cannot always choose what shall come into
his mind, nor know what it will eventually turn into. But you, professed
copyists, unless you have mistaken your profession, have the power of
governing your own thoughts, and of following and interpreting the
thoughts of others. Also, you see the work to be done put plainly before
you; you can deliberately choose what seems to you best, out of myriads
of examples of perfect Art. You can count the cost accurately; saying,
"It will take me a year--two years--five--a fourth or fifth, probably,
of my remaining life, to do this." Is the thing worth it? There is no
excuse for choosing wrongly; no other men whatever have data so full,
and position so firm, for forecast of their labor.

69. I put my psalter aside (not, observe, vouching for its red and
green dragons:--men lifted up their souls to vanity sometimes in the
thirteenth as in the nineteenth century), and I take up, instead, a book
of English verses, published--there is no occasion to say when. It is
full of costliest engravings--large, skillful, appallingly laborious;
dotted into textures like the dust on a lily leaf,--smoothed through
gradations like clouds,--graved to surfaces like mother-of-pearl; and by
all this toil there is set forth for the delight of Englishwomen, a
series of the basest dreams that ungoverned feminine imagination can
coin in sickliest indolence,--ball-room amours, combats of curled
knights, pilgrimages of disguised girl-pages, romantic pieties,
charities in costume,--a mass of disguised sensualism and feverish
vanity--impotent, pestilent, prurient, scented with a venomous elixir,
and rouged with a deadly dust of outward good; and all this done, as
such things only can be done, in a boundless ignorance of all natural
veracity; the faces falsely drawn--the lights falsely cast--the forms
effaced or distorted, and all common human wit and sense extinguished in
the vicious scum of lying sensation.

And this, I grieve to say, is only a characteristic type of a large mass
of popular English work. This is what we spend our Teutonic lives in;
engraving with an iron pen in the rock forever; this, the passion of the
Teutonic woman (as opposed to Virgilia), just as foxhunting is the
passion of the Teutonic man, as opposed to Valerius.

70. And while we deliberately spend all our strength, and all our
tenderness, all our skill, and all our money, in doing, relishing,
buying, this absolute Wrongness, of which nothing can ever come but
disease in heart and brain, remember that all the mighty works of the
great painters of the world, full of life, truth, and blessing, remain
to this present hour of the year 1865 unengraved! There literally exists
no earnestly studied and fully accomplished engraving of any very great
work, except Leonardo's Cena. No large Venetian picture has ever been
thoroughly engraved. Of Titian's Peter Martyr, there is even no worthy
memorial transcript but Le Febre's. The Cartoons have been multiplied
in false readings; never in faithful ones till lately by photography. Of
the Disputa and the Parnassus, what can the English public know? of the
thoughtful Florentines and Milanese, of Ghirlandajo, and Luini, and
their accompanying hosts--what do they yet so much as care to know?

"The English public will not pay," you reply, "for engravings from the
great masters. The English public will only pay for pictures of itself;
of its races, its rifle-meetings, its rail stations, its
parlor-passions, and kitchen interests; you must make your bread as you
may, by holding the mirror to it."

71. Friends, there have been hard fighting and heavy sleeping, this many
a day, on the other side of the Atlantic, in the cause, as you suppose,
of Freedom against slavery; and you are all, open-mouthed, expecting the
glories of Black Emancipation. Perhaps a little White Emancipation on
this side of the water might be still more desirable, and more easily
and guiltlessly won.

Do you know what slavery means? Suppose a gentleman taken by a Barbary
corsair--set to field-work; chained and flogged to it from dawn to eve.
Need he be a slave therefore? By no means; he is but a hardly-treated
prisoner. There is some work which the Barbary corsair will not be able
to make him do; such work as a Christian gentleman may not do, that he
will not, though he die for it. Bound and scourged he may be, but he has
heard of a Person's being bound and scourged before now, who was not
therefore a slave. He is not a whit more slave for that. But suppose he
take the pirate's pay, and stretch his back at piratical oars, for due
salary, how then? Suppose for fitting price he betray his fellow
prisoners, and take up the scourge instead of enduring it--become the
smiter instead of the smitten, at the African's bidding--how then? Of
all the sheepish notions in our English public "mind," I think the
simplest is that slavery is neutralized when you are well paid for it!
Whereas it is precisely that fact of its being paid for which makes it
complete. A man who has been sold by another, may be but half a slave
or none; but the man who has sold himself! He is the accurately Finished

72. And gravely I say that I know _no_ captivity so sorrowful as that of
an artist doing, consciously, bad work for pay. It is the serfdom of the
finest gifts--of all that should lead and master men, offering itself to
be spit upon, and that for a bribe. There is much serfdom, in Europe, of
speakers and writers, but they only sell words; and their talk, even
honestly uttered, might not have been worth much; it will not be thought
of ten years hence; still less a hundred years hence. No one will buy
our parliamentary speeches to keep in portfolios this time next century;
and if people are weak enough now to pay for any special and flattering
cadence of syllable, it is little matter. But _you_, with your painfully
acquired power, your unwearied patience, your admirable and manifold
gifts, your eloquence in black and white, which people will buy, if it
is good (and has a broad margin), for fifty guineas a copy--in the year
2000; to sell it all, ás Ananias his land, "yea, for so much," and hold
yourselves at every fool's beck, with your ready points, polished and
sharp, hasting to scratch what _he_ wills! To bite permanent mischief in
with acid; to spread an inked infection of evil all your days, and pass
away at last from a life of the skillfulest industry--having done
whatsoever your hand found (remuneratively) to do, with your might, and
a great might, but with cause to thank God only for this--that the end
of it all has at last come, and that "there is no device nor work in the
Grave." One would get quit of _this_ servitude, I think, though we
reached the place of Rest a little sooner, and reached it fasting.

73. My English fellow-workmen, you have the name of liberty often on
your lips; get the fact of it oftener into your business! talk of it
less, and try to understand it better. You have given students many
copy-books of free-hand outlines--give them a few of free _heart_

It appears, however, that you do not intend to help me with any
utterance respecting these same outlines.[70] Be it so: I must make out
what I can by myself. And under the influence of the Solstitial sign of
June I will go backwards, or askance, to the practical part of the
business, where I left it three months ago, and take up that question
first, touching Liberty, and the relation of the loose swift line to the
resolute slow one and of the etched line to the engraved one. It is a
worthy question, for the open field afforded by illustrated works is
tempting even to our best painters, and many an earnest hour and active
fancy spend and speak themselves in the black line, vigorously enough,
and dramatically, at all events: if wisely, may be considered. The
French also are throwing great passion into their _eaux fortes_--working
with a vivid haste and dark, brilliant freedom, which looked as if they
etched with very energetic waters indeed--quite waters of life (it does
not look so well, written in French). So we will take, with the reader's
permission, for text next month, "Rembrandt, and strong waters."


[69] _Art Journal_, vol. iv., pp. 129-30. May 1865.--ED.

[70] I have received some interesting private letters, but cannot make
use of them at present, because they enter into general discussion
instead of answering the specific question I asked, respecting the power
of the black line; and I must observe to correspondents that in future
their letters should be addressed to the Editor of this Journal, not to
me; as I do not wish to incur the responsibility of selection.


74. The work I have to do in this paper ought, rightly, to have been
thrown into the form of an appendix to the last chapter; for it is no
link of the cestus of Aglaia we have to examine, but one of the crests
of canine passion in the cestus of Scylla. Nevertheless, the girdle of
the Grace cannot be discerned in the full brightness of it, but by
comparing it with the dark torment of that other; and (in what place or
form matters little) the work has to be done.

"Rembrandt Van Rhyn"--it is said, in the last edition of a very valuable
work[72] (for which, nevertheless, I could wish that greater lightness
in the hand should be obtained by the publication of its information in
one volume, and its criticism in another)--was "the most attractive and
original of painters." It may be so; but there are attractions, and
attractions. The sun attracts the planets--and a candle, night-moths;
the one with perhaps somewhat of benefit to the planets;--but with what
benefit the other to the moths, one would be glad to learn from those
desert flies, of whom, one company having extinguished Mr. Kinglake's
candle with their bodies, the remainder, "who had failed in obtaining
this martyrdom, became suddenly serious, and clung despondingly to the

75. Also, there are originalities, and originalities. To invent a new
thing, which is also a precious thing; to be struck by a divinely-guided
Rod, and become a sudden fountain of life to thirsty multitudes--this is
enviable. But to be distinct of men in an original Sin; elect for the
initial letter of a Lie; the first apparent spot of an unknown plague; a
Root of bitterness, and the first-born worm of a company, studying an
original De-Composition,--this is perhaps not so enviable. And if we
think of it, most human originality is apt to be of that kind. Goodness
is one, and immortal; it may be received and communicated--not
originated: but Evil is various and recurrent, and may be misbegotten in
endlessly surprising ways.

76. But, that we may know better in what this originality consists, we
find that our author, after expatiating on the vast area of the
Pantheon, "illuminated solely by the small circular opening in the dome
above," and on other similar conditions of luminous contraction, tells
us that "to Rembrandt belongs the glory of having first embodied in Art,
and perpetuated, these rare and beautiful effects of nature." Such
effects are indeed rare in nature; but they are not rare, absolutely.
The sky, with the sun in it, does not usually give the impression of
being dimly lighted through a circular hole; but you may observe a very
similar effect any day in your coal-cellar. The light is not
Rembrandtesque on the current, or banks, of a river; but it is on those
of a drain. Color is not Rembrandtesque, usually, in a clean house; but
is presently obtainable of that quality in a dirty one. And without
denying the pleasantness of the mode of progression which Mr. Hazlitt,
perhaps too enthusiastically, describes as attainable in a background of
Rembrandt's--"You stagger from one abyss of obscurity to another"--I
cannot feel it an entirely glorious speciality to be distinguished, as
Rembrandt was, from other great painters, chiefly by the liveliness of
his darkness, and the dullness of his light. Glorious, or inglorious,
the speciality itself is easily and accurately definable. It is the aim
of the best painters to paint the noblest things they can see by
sunlight. It was the aim of Rembrandt to paint the foulest things he
could see--by rushlight.

77. By rushlight, observe: material and spiritual. As the sun for the
outer world; so in the inner world of man, that which "[Greek: ereuna
tameua koilias]"[73]--"the candle of God, searching the inmost parts."
If that light within become but a more active kind of darkness;--if,
abdicating the measuring reed of modesty for scepter, and ceasing to
measure with it, we dip it in such unctuous and inflammable refuse as we
can find, and make our soul's light into a _tallow_ candle, and
thenceforward take our guttering, sputtering, ill-smelling illumination
about with us, holding it out in fetid fingers--encumbered with its
lurid warmth of fungous wick, and drip of stalactitic grease--that we
may see, when another man would have seen, or dreamed he saw, the flight
of a divine Virgin--only the lamplight upon the hair of a costermonger's
ass;--that, having to paint the good Samaritan, we may see only in
distance the back of the good Samaritan, and in nearness the back of the
good Samaritan's dog;--that having to paint the Annunciation to the
Shepherds, we may turn the announcement of peace to men, into an
announcement of mere panic to beasts; and, in an unsightly firework of
unsightlier angels, see, as we see always, the feet instead of the head,
and the shame instead of the honor;--and finally concentrate and rest
the sum of our fame, as Titian on the Assumption of a spirit, so we on
the dissection of a carcass,--perhaps by such fatuous fire, the less we
walk, and by such phosphoric glow, the less we shine, the better it may
be for us, and for all who would follow us.

78. Do not think I deny the greatness of Rembrandt. In mere technical
power (none of his eulogists know that power better than I, nor declare
it in more distinct terms) he might, if he had been educated in a true
school, have taken rank with the Venetians themselves. But that type of
distinction between Titian's Assumption, and Rembrandt's Dissection,
will represent for you with sufficient significance the manner of choice
in all their work; only it should be associated with another
characteristic example of the same opposition (which I have dwelt upon
elsewhere) between Veronese and Rembrandt, in their conception of
domestic life. Rembrandt's picture, at Dresden, of himself, with his
wife sitting on his knee, a roasted peacock on the table, and a glass of
champagne in his hand, is the best work I know of all he has left; and
it marks his speciality with entire decision. It is, of course, a dim
candlelight; and the choice of the sensual passions as the things
specially and forever to be described and immortalized out of his own
private life and love, is exactly that "painting the foulest thing by
rushlight" which I have stated to be the enduring purpose of his mind.
And you will find this hold in all minor treatment; and that to the
uttermost: for as by your broken rushlight you see little, and only
corners and points of things, and those very corners and points ill and
distortedly; so, although Rembrandt knows the human face and hand, and
never fails in these, when they are ugly, and he chooses to take pains
with them, he knows nothing else: the more pains he takes with even
familiar animals, the worse they are (witness the horse in that plate of
the Good Samaritan), and any attempts to finish the first scribbled
energy of his imaginary lions and tigers, end always only in the loss of
the fiendish power and rage which were all he could conceive in an

79. His landscape, and foreground vegetation, I mean afterwards to
examine in comparison with Dürer's; but the real caliber and nature of
the man are best to be understood by comparing the puny, ill-drawn,
terrorless, helpless, beggarly skeleton in his "Youth Surprised by
Death," with the figure behind the tree in Dürer's plate (though it is
quite one of Dürer's feeblest) of the same subject. Absolutely ignorant
of all natural phenomena and law; absolutely careless of all lovely
living form, or growth, or structure; able only to render with some
approach to veracity, what alone he had looked at with some approach to
attention,--the pawnbroker's festering heaps of old clothes, and caps,
and shoes--Rembrandt's execution is one grand evasion, and his temper
the grim contempt of a strong and sullen animal in its defiled den, for
the humanity with which it is at war, for the flowers which it tramples,
and the light which it fears.

80. Again, do not let it be thought that when I call his execution
evasive, I ignore the difference between his touch, on brow or lip, and
a common workman's; but the whole school of etching which he founded,
(and of painting, so far as it differs from Venetian work) is inherently
loose and experimental. Etching is the very refuge and mask of
sentimental uncertainty, and of vigorous ignorance. If you know anything
clearly, and have a firm hand, depend upon it, you will draw it clearly;
you will not care to hide it among scratches and burrs. And herein is
the first grand distinction between etching and engraving--that in the
etching needle you have an almost irresistible temptation to a wanton
speed. There is, however, no real necessity for such a distinction; an
etched line may have been just as steadily drawn, and seriously meant,
as an engraved one; and for the moment, waiving consideration of this
distinction, and opposing Rembrandt's work, considered merely as work of
the black line, to Holbein's and Dürer's, as work of the black line, I
assert Rembrandt's to be inherently _evasive_. You cannot unite his
manner with theirs; choice between them is sternly put to you, when
first you touch the steel. Suppose, for instance, you have to engrave,
or etch, or draw with pen and ink, a single head, and that the head is
to be approximately half an inch in height more or less (there is a
reason for assigning this condition respecting size, which we will
examine in due time): you have it in your power to do it in one of two
ways. You may lay down some twenty or thirty entirely firm and visible
lines, of which every one shall be absolutely right, and do the utmost a
line can do. By their curvature they shall render contour; by their
thickness, shade; by their place and form, every truth of expression,
and every condition of design. The head of the soldier drawing his
sword, in Dürer's "Cannon," is about half an inch high, supposing the
brow to be seen. The chin is drawn with three lines, the lower lip with
two, the upper, including the shadow from the nose, with five. Three
separate the cheek from the chin, giving the principal points of
character. Six lines draw the cheek, and its incised traces of care;
four are given to each of the eyes; one, with the outline, to the nose;
three to the frown of the forehead. None of these touches could anywhere
be altered--none removed, without instantly visible harm; and their
result is a head as perfect in character as a portrait by Reynolds.

81. You may either do this--which, if you can, it will generally be very
advisable to do--or, on the other hand, you may cover the face with
innumerable scratches, and let your hand play with wanton freedom, until
the graceful scrabble concentrates itself into shade. You may
soften--efface--retouch--rebite--dot, and hatch, and redefine. If you
are a great master, you will soon get your character, and probably keep
it (Rembrandt often gets it at first, nearly as securely as Dürer); but
the design of it will be necessarily seen through loose work, and
modified by accident (as you think) fortunate. The accidents which occur
to a practiced hand are always at first pleasing--the details which can
be hinted, however falsely, through the gathering mystery, are always
seducing. You will find yourself gradually dwelling more and more on
little meannesses of form and texture, and lusters of surface: on cracks
of skin, and films of fur and plume. You will lose your way, and then
see two ways, and then many ways, and try to walk a little distance on
all of them in turn, and so, back again. You will find yourself thinking
of colors, and vexed because you cannot imitate them; next, struggling
to render distances by indecision, which you cannot by tone. Presently
you will be contending with finished pictures; laboring at the etching,
as if it were a painting. You will leave off, after a whole day's work
(after many days' work if you choose to give them), still unsatisfied.
For final result--if you are as great as Rembrandt--you will have most
likely a heavy, black, cloudy stain, with less character in it than the
first ten lines had. If you are not as great as Rembrandt, you will have
a stain by no means cloudy; but sandy and broken,--instead of a face,
a speckled phantom of a face, patched, blotched, discomfited in every
texture and form--ugly, assuredly; dull, probably; an unmanageable and
manifold failure ill concealed by momentary, accidental, undelightful,
ignoble success.

Undelightful; note this especially, for it is the peculiar character of
etching that it cannot render beauty. You may hatch and scratch your way
to picturesqueness or to deformity--never to beauty. You can etch an old
woman, or an ill-conditioned fellow. But you cannot etch a girl--nor,
unless in his old age, or with very partial rendering of him, a

82. And thus, as farther belonging to, and partly causative of, their
choice of means, there is always a tendency in etchers to fasten on
unlovely objects; and the whole scheme of modern rapid work of this kind
is connected with a peculiar gloom which results from the confinement of
men, partially informed, and wholly untrained, in the midst of foul and
vicious cities. A sensitive and imaginative youth, early driven to get
his living by his art, has to lodge, we will say, somewhere in the
by-streets of Paris, and is left there, tutorless, to his own devices.
Suppose him also vicious or reckless, and there need be no talk of his
work farther; he will certainly do nothing in a Düreresque manner. But
suppose him self-denying, virtuous, full of gift and power--what are the
elements of living study within his reach? All supreme beauty is
confined to the higher salons. There are pretty faces in the streets,
but no stateliness nor splendor of humanity; all pathos and grandeur is
in suffering; no purity of nature is accessible, but only a terrible
picturesqueness, mixed with ghastly, with ludicrous, with base
concomitants. Huge walls and roofs, dark on the sunset sky, but
plastered with advertisement bills, monstrous-figured, seen farther than
ever Parthenon shaft, or spire of Sainte Chapelle. Interminable lines of
massy streets, wearisome with repetition of commonest design, and
degraded by their gilded shops, wide-fuming, flaunting, glittering, with
apparatus of eating or of dress. Splendor of palace-flank and goodly
quay, insulted by floating cumber of barge and bath, trivial, grotesque,
indecent, as cleansing vessels in a royal reception room. Solemn avenues
of blossomed trees, shading puppet-show and baby-play; glades of
wild-wood, long withdrawn, purple with faded shadows of blood; sweet
windings and reaches of river far among the brown vines and white
orchards, checked here by the Ile Notre Dame, to receive their nightly
sacrifice, and after playing with it among their eddies, to give it up
again, in those quiet shapes that lie on the sloped slate tables of the
square-built Temple of the Death-Sibyl, who presides here over spray of
Seine, as yonder at Tiber over spray of Anio. Sibylline, indeed, in her
secrecy, and her sealing of destinies, by the baptism of the quick
water-drops which fall on each fading face, unrecognized, nameless in
_this_ Baptism forever. Wreathed thus throughout, that Paris town, with
beauty, and with unseemly sin, unseemlier death, as a fiend-city with
fair eyes; forever letting fall her silken raiment so far as that one
may "behold her bosom and half her side." Under whose whispered
teaching, and substitution of "Contes Drolatiques" for the tales of the
wood fairy, her children of Imagination will do, what Gérôme and Gustave
Doré are doing, and her whole world of lesser Art will sink into shadows
of the street and of the boudoir-curtain, wherein the etching point may
disport itself with freedom enough.[74]

83. Nor are we slack in our companionship in these courses. Our
imagination is slower and clumsier than the French--rarer also, by far,
in the average English mind. The only man of power equal to Doré's whom
we have had lately among us, was William Blake, whose temper fortunately
took another turn. But in the calamity and vulgarity of daily
circumstance, in the horror of our streets, in the discordance of our
thoughts, in the laborious looseness and ostentatious cleverness of our
work, we are alike. And to French faults we add a stupidity of our own;
for which, so far as I may in modesty take blame for anything, as
resulting from my own teaching, I am more answerable than most men.
Having spoken earnestly against painting without thinking, I now find
our exhibitions decorated with works of students who think without
painting; and our books illustrated by scratched wood-cuts, representing
very ordinary people, who are presumed to be interesting in the picture,
because the text tells a story about them. Of this least lively form of
modern sensational work, however, I shall have to speak on other
grounds; meantime, I am concerned only with its manner; its incontinence
of line and method, associated with the slightness of its real thought,
and morbid acuteness of irregular sensation; ungoverned all, and one of
the external and slight phases of that beautiful Liberty which we are
proclaiming as essence of gospel to all the earth, and shall presently,
I suppose, when we have had enough of it here, proclaim also to the
stars, with invitation to them _out_ of their courses.

84. "But you asked us for 'free-heart' outlines, and told us not to be
slaves, only thirty days ago."[75]

Inconsistent that I am! so I did. But as there are attractions, and
attractions; originalities, and originalities, there are liberties, and
liberties. Yonder torrent, crystal-clear, and arrow-swift, with its
spray leaping into the air like white troops of fawns, is free, I think.
Lost, yonder, amidst bankless, boundless marsh--soaking in slow
shallowness, as it will, hither and thither, listless, among the
poisonous reeds and unresisting slime--it is free also. You may choose
which liberty you will, and restraint of voiceful rock, or the dumb and
edgeless shore of darkened sand. Of that evil liberty, which men are now
glorifying,--and of its opposite continence--which is the clasp and
[Greek: chruseê peronê] of Aglaia's cestus--we will try to find out
something in next chapter.[76]


[71] _Art Journal_, vol. iv., pp. 177-8. June 1865.--ED.

[72] Wórnum's "Epochs of Painting." I have continual occasion to quarrel
with my friend on these matters of critical question; but I have deep
respect for his earnest and patient research, and we remain friends--on
the condition that I am to learn much from him, and he (though it may be
questionable whose fault that is) nothing from me.

[73] Prov. xx, 27.

[74] As I was preparing these sheets for press, I chanced on a passage
in a novel of Champfleury's, in which one young student is encouraging
another in his contest with these and other such evils;--the evils are
in this passage accepted as necessities; the inevitable deadliness of
the element is not seen, as it can hardly be except by those who live
out of it. The encouragement, on such view, is good and right; the
connection of the young etcher's power with his poverty is curiously
illustrative of the statements in the text, and the whole passage,
though long, is well worth such space as it will ask here, in our small

    "Cependant," dit Thomas, "on a vu des peintres de talent qui étaient
    partis de Paris après avoir exposé de bons tableaux et qui s'en
    revenaient classiquement ennuyeux. C'est done la faute de
    l'enseignement de l'Académie."

    "Bah!" dit Gérard, "rien n'arrête le développement d'un homme
    puisqu'il comprend l'art, pourquoi ne fait-il pas d'art?"

    "Parce qu'il gagne à peu près sa vie en faisant du commerce."

    "On dirait que tu ne veux pas me comprendre, toi qui as justement
    passé par là. Comment faisais-tu quand tu étais compositeur d'une

    "Le soir," dit Thomas, "et le matin en hiver, à partir de quatre
    heures, je faisais des études à la lampe pendant deux heures,
    jusqu'au moment où j'allais à l'atelier."

    "Et tu ne vivais pas de la peinture?"

    "Je ne gagnais pas un sou."

    "Bon!" dit Gérard; "tu vois bien que tu faisais du commerce en
    dehors de l'art et que cependant tu étudiais. Quand tu es sorti de
    l'imprimerie comment as-tu vécu?"

    "Je faisais cinq ou six petites aquarelles par jour, que je vendais,
    sous les arcades de l'Institut, six sous pièce."

    "Et tu en vivais; c'est encore du commerce. Tu vois done que ni
    l'imprimerie, ni les petits dessins, à cinq sous, ni la privation,
    ni la misère ne t'ont empêché d'arriver."

    "Je ne suis pas arrivé."

    "N'importe, tu arriveras certainement. . . . Si tu veux d'autres
    exemples qui prouvent que la misère et les autres piéges tendus sous
    nos pas ne doivent rien arrêter, tu te rappelles bien ce pauvre
    garçon dont vous admiriez les eaux-fortes, que vous mettiez aussi
    haut que Rembrandt, et qui aurait été lion, disiez-vous, s'il
    n'avait tant souffert de la faim. Qu'a-t-il fait le jour où il lui
    est tombé un petit héritage du ciel?"

    "Il est vrai," dit Thomas, embarrassé; "qu'il a perdu tout son

    "Ce n'etait pas cependant une de ces grosses fortunes qui tuent un
    homme, qui le rendent lourd, fier et insolent: il avait juste de
    quoi vivre, six cents francs de rentes, une fortune pour lui, qui
    vivait avec cinq francs par mois. Il a continué à travailler; mais
    ses eaux-fortes n'étaient plus supportables; tandis qu'avant, il
    vivait avec un morceau de pain et des légumes; alors il avait du
    talent. Cela, Thomas, doit te prouver que ni les mauvais
    enseignements, ni les influences, ni la misère, ni la faim, ni la
    maladie, ne peuvent corrompre une nature bien douée. Elle souffre;
    mais trouve moi un grand artiste qui n'ait pas souffert. Il n'y a
    pas un seul homme de dénie heureux depuis que l'humanité existe."

    "J'ai envie," dit Thomas, "de te faire cadeau d'une jolie cravate."

    "Pourquoi?" dit Gérard.

    "Parce que tu as bien parlé."

[75] See _ante_, p. 343, § 73.--ED.

[76] Chapter VI., which is here omitted, having been already reprinted
in _The Queen of the Air_ (§§ 142-159), together with the last paragraph
(somewhat altered) of the present chapter. After the publication of
Chapter VI. the essays were discontinued until January 1866.--ED.

|Transcriber's note:                     |
|                                        |
|Chapter VI is missing from the original.|


85. In recommencing this series of papers, I may perhaps take permission
briefly to remind the reader of the special purpose which my desultory
way of writing, (of so vast a subject I find it impossible to write
otherwise than desultorily), may cause him sometimes to lose sight of;
the ascertainment, namely, of some laws for present practice of Art in
our schools, which may be admitted, if not with absolute, at least with
a sufficient consent, by leading artists.

There are indeed many principles on which different men must ever be at
variance; others, respecting which it may be impossible to obtain any
practical consent in certain phases of particular schools. But there are
a few, which, I think, in all times of meritorious Art, the leading
painters would admit; and others which, by discussion, might be arrived
at, as, at all events, the best discoverable for the time.

86. One of those which I suppose great workmen would always admit, is,
that, whatever material we use, the virtues of that material are to be
exhibited, and its defects frankly admitted; no effort being made to
conquer those defects by such skill as may make the material resemble
another. For instance, in the dispute so frequently revived by the
public, touching the relative merits of oil color and water color; I do
not think a great painter would ever consider it a merit in a water
color to have the "force of oil." He would like it to have the peculiar
delicacy, paleness, and transparency belonging specially to its own
material. On the other hand, I think he would not like an oil painting
to have the deadness or paleness of a water color. He would like it to
have the deep shadows, and the rich glow, and crumbling and bossy
touches which are alone attainable in oil color. And if he painted in
fresco, he would neither aim at the transparency of water color, nor the
richness of oil; but at luminous bloom of surface, and dignity of
clearly visible form. I do not think that this principle would be
disputed by artists of great power at any time, or in any country;
though, if by mischance they had been compelled to work in one material,
while desiring the qualities only attainable in another, they might
strive, and meritoriously strive, for those better results, with what
they had under their hand. The change of manner in William Hunt's work,
in the later part of his life, was an example of this. As his art became
more developed, he perceived in his subjects qualities which it was
impossible to express in a transparent medium; and employed opaque white
to draw with, when the finer forms of relieved light could not be
otherwise followed. It was out of his power to do more than this, since
in later life any attempt to learn the manipulation of oil color would
have been unadvisable; and he obtained results of singular beauty;
though their preciousness and completion would never, in a well-founded
school of Art, have been trusted to the frail substance of water color.

87. But although I do not suppose that the abstract principle of doing
with each material what it is best fitted to do, would be, in terms,
anywhere denied; the practical question is always, not what should be
done with this, or that, if everything were in our power; but what can
be, or ought to be, accomplished with the means at our disposal, and in
the circumstances under which we must necessarily work. Thus, in the
question immediately before us, of the proper use of the black line--it
is easy to establish the proper virtue of Line work, as essentially
"De-Lineation," the expressing by outline the true limits of forms,
which distinguish and part them from other forms; just as the virtue of
brush work is essentially breadth, softness, and blending of forms. And,
in the abstract, the point ought not to be used where the aim is not
that of definition, nor the brush to be used where the aim is not that
of breadth. Every painting in which the aim is primarily that of
drawing, and every drawing in which the aim is primarily that of
painting, must alike be in a measure erroneous. But it is one thing to
determine what should be done with the black line, in a period of highly
disciplined and widely practiced art, and quite another thing to say
what should be done with it, at this present time, in England.
Especially, the increasing interest and usefulness of our illustrated
books render this an inquiry of very great social and educational
importance. On the one side, the skill and felicity of the work spent
upon them, and the advantage which young readers, if not those of all
ages, _might_ derive from having examples of good drawing put familiarly
before their eyes, cannot be overrated; yet, on the other side, neither
the admirable skill nor free felicity of the work can ultimately be held
a counterpoise for the want--if there be a want--of sterling excellence:
while, farther, this increased power of obtaining examples of art for
private possession, at an almost nominal price, has two accompanying
evils: it prevents the proper use of what we have, by dividing the
attention, and continually leading us restlessly to demand new subjects
of interest, while the old are as yet not half exhausted; and it
prevents us--satisfied with the multiplication of minor art in our own
possession--from looking for a better satisfaction in great public

88. Observe, first, it prevents the proper use of what we have. I often
endeavor, though with little success, to conceive what would have been
the effect on my mind, when I was a boy, of having such a book given me
as Watson's "Illustrated Robinson Crusoe."[78] The edition I had was a
small octavo one, in two volumes, printed at the _Chiswick Press_ in
1812. It has, in each volume, eight or ten very rude vignettes, about a
couple of inches wide; cut in the simple, but legitimate, manner of
Bewick, and, though wholly commonplace and devoid of beauty, yet, as far
as they go, rightly done; and here and there sufficiently suggestive of
plain facts. I am quite unable to say how far I wasted,--how far I spent
to advantage,--the unaccountable hours during which I pored over these
wood-cuts; receiving more real sensation of sympathetic terror from the
drifting hair and fear-stricken face of Crusoe dashed against the rock,
in the rude attempt at the representation of his escape from the wreck,
than I can now from the highest art; though the rocks and water are
alike cut only with a few twisted or curved lines, and there is not the
slightest attempt at light and shade, or imitative resemblance. For one
thing, I am quite sure that being forced to make all I could out of very
little things, and to remain long contented with them, not only in great
part formed the power of close analysis in my mind, and the habit of
steady contemplation; but rendered the power of greater art over me,
when I first saw it, as intense as that of magic; so that it appealed to
me like a vision out of another world.

89. On the other hand this long contentment with inferior work, and the
consequent acute enjoyment of whatever was the least suggestive of truth
in a higher degree, rendered me long careless of the highest virtues of
execution, and retarded by many years the maturing and balancing of the
general power of judgment. And I am now, as I said, quite unable to
imagine what would have been the result upon me, of being enabled to
study, instead of these coarse vignettes, such lovely and expressive
work as that of Watson; suppose, for instance, the vignette at p. 87,
which would have been sure to have caught my fancy, because of the dog,
with its head on Crusoe's knee, looking up and trying to understand what
is the matter with his master. It remains to be seen, and can only be
known by experience, what will actually be the effect of these treasures
on the minds of children that possess them. The result must be in some
sort different from anything yet known; no such art was ever yet
attainable by the youth of any nation. Yet of this there can, as I have
just said, be no reasonable doubt;--that it is not well to make the
imagination indolent, or take its work out of its hands by supplying
continual pictures of what might be sufficiently conceived without

90. Take, for instance, the preceding vignette, in the same book,
"Crusoe looking at the first shoots of barley." Nothing can be more
natural or successful as a representation; but, after all, whatever the
importance of the moment in Crusoe's history, the picture can show us
nothing more than a man in a white shirt and dark pantaloons, in an
attitude of surprise; and the imagination ought to be able to compass so
much as this without help. And if so laborious aid be given, much more
ought to be given. The virtue of Art, as of life, is that no line shall
be in vain. Now the number of lines in this vignette, applied with full
intention of thought in every touch, as they would have been by Holbein
or Dürer, are quite enough to have produced,--not a merely deceptive
dash of local color, with evanescent background,--but an entirely
perfect piece of chiaroscuro, with its lights all truly limited and
gradated, and with every form of leaf and rock in the background
entirely right, complete,--and full not of mere suggestion, but of
accurate information, exactly such as the fancy by itself cannot
furnish. A work so treated by any man of power and sentiment such as the
designer of this vignette possesses, would be an eternal thing; ten in
the volume, for real enduring and educational power, were worth two
hundred in imperfect development, and would have been a perpetual
possession to the reader; whereas one certain result of the
multiplication of these lovely but imperfect drawings, is to increase
the feverish thirst for excitement, and to weaken the power of attention
by endless diversion and division. This volume, beautiful as it is, will
be forgotten; the strength in it is, in final outcome, spent for naught;
and others, and still others, following it, will "come like shadows, so

91. There is, however, a quite different disadvantage, but no less
grave, to be apprehended from this rich multiplication of private
possession. The more we have of books, and cabinet pictures, and cabinet
ornaments, and other such domestic objects of art, the less capable we
shall become of understanding or enjoying the lofty character of work
noble in scale, and intended for public service. The most practical and
immediate distinction between the orders of "mean" and "high" Art, is
that the first is private,--the second public; the first for the
individual, the second for all. It may be that domestic Art is the only
kind which is likely to flourish in a country of cold climate, and in
the hands of a nation tempered as the English are; but it is necessary
that we should at least understand the disadvantage under which we thus
labor; and the duty of not allowing the untowardness of our
circumstances, or the selfishness of our dispositions, to have
unresisted and unchecked influence over the adopted style of our art.
But this part of the subject requires to be examined at length, and I
must therefore reserve it for the following paper.


[77] _Art Journal_, vol. v., pp. 9, 10. January 1866.--ED.

[78] Routledge, 1864. The engraving is all by Dalziel. I do not ask the
reader's pardon for speaking of myself, with reference to the point at
issue. It is perhaps quite as modest to relate personal experience as to
offer personal opinion; and the accurate statement of such experience
is, in questions of this sort, the only contribution at present possible
towards their solution.


92. In pursuing the question put at the close of the last paper, it must
be observed that there are essentially two conditions under which we
have to examine the difference between the effects of public and private
Art on national prosperity. The first in immediate influence is their
Economical function, the second their Ethical. We have first to consider
what class of persons they in each case support; and, secondly, what
classes they teach or please.

Looking over the list of the gift-books of this year, perhaps the first
circumstance which would naturally strike us would be the number of
persons living by this industry; and, in any consideration of the
probable effects of a transference of the public attention to other
kinds of work, we ought first to contemplate the result on the interests
of the workman. The guinea spent on one of our ordinary illustrated
gift-books is divided among--

   1. A number of second-rate or third-rate artists, producing
   designs as fast as they can, and realizing them up to
   the standard required by the public of that year. Men
   of consummate power may sometimes put their hands
   to the business; but exceptionally.

   2. Engravers, trained to mechanical imitation of this
   second or third-rate work; of these engravers the inferior
   classes are usually much overworked.

   3. Printers, paper-makers, ornamental binders, and other

   4. Publishers and booksellers.

93. Let us suppose the book can be remuneratively produced if there is
a sale of five thousand copies. Then £5000, contributed for it by the
public, are divided among the different workers; it does not matter what
actual rate of division we assume, for the mere object of comparison
with other modes of employing the money; but let us say these £5000 are
divided among five hundred persons, giving on an average £10 to each.
And let us suppose these £10 to be a fortnight's maintenance to each.
Then, to maintain them through the year, twenty-five such books must be
published; or to keep certainly within the mark of the probable cost of
our autumnal gift-books, suppose £100,000 are spent by the public, with
resultant supply of 100,000 households with one illustrated book, of
second or third-rate quality each (there being twenty different books
thus supplied), and resultant maintenance of five hundred persons for
the year, at severe work of a second or third-rate order, mostly

94. Now, if the mind of the nation, instead of private, be set on public
work, there is of course no expense incurred for multiplication, or
mechanical copying of any kind, or for retail dealing. The £5000,
instead of being given for five thousand _copies_ of the work, and
divided among five hundred persons, are given for one original work, and
given to one person. This one person will of course employ assistants;
but these will be chosen by himself, and will form a superior class of
men, out of whom the future leading artists of the time will rise in
succession. The broad difference will therefore be, that, in the one
case, £5000 are divided among five hundred persons of different classes,
doing second-rate or wholly mechanical work; and in the other case, the
same sum is divided among a few chosen persons of the best material of
mind producible by the state at the given epoch. It may seem an unfair
assumption that work for the public will be more honestly and earnestly
done than that for private possession. But every motive that can touch
either conscience or ambition is brought to bear upon the artist who is
employed on a public service, and only a few such motives in other modes
of occupation. The greater permanence, scale, dignity of office, and
fuller display of Art in a National building, combine to call forth the
energies of the artist; and if a man will not do his best under such
circumstances, there is no "best" in him.

95. It might also at first seem an unwarrantable assumption that fewer
persons would be employed in the private than in the national work,
since, at least in architecture, quite as many subordinate craftsmen are
employed as in the production of a book. It is, however, necessary, for
the purpose of clearly seeing the effect of the two forms of occupation,
that we should oppose them where their contrast is most complete; and
that we should compare, not merely bookbinding with bricklaying, but the
presentation of Art in books, necessarily involving much subordinate
employment, with its presentation in statues or wall-pictures, involving
only the labor of the artist and of his immediate assistants. In the one
case, then, I repeat, the sum set aside by the public for Art-purposes
is divided among many persons, very indiscriminately chosen; in the
other among few carefully chosen. But it does not, for that reason,
support fewer persons. The few artists live on their larger incomes,[80]
by expenditure among various tradesmen, who in no wise produce Art, but
the means of pleasant life; so that the real economical question is, not
how many men shall we maintain, but at what work shall they be
kept?--shall they every one be set to produce Art for us, in which case
they must all live poorly, and produce bad Art; or out of the whole
number shall ten be chosen who can and will produce noble Art; and shall
the others be employed in providing the means of pleasant life for these
chosen ten? Will you have, that is to say, four hundred and ninety
tradesmen, butchers, carpet-weavers, carpenters, and the like, and ten
fine artists, or will you, under the vain hope of finding, for each of
them within your realm, "five hundred good as he," have your full
complement of bad draughtsmen, and retail distributors of their bad

96. It will be seen in a moment that this is no question of economy
merely; but, as all economical questions become, when set on their true
foundation, a dilemma relating to modes of discipline and education. It
is only one instance of the perpetually recurring offer to our
choice--shall we have one man educated perfectly, and others trained
only to serve him, or shall we have all educated equally ill?--Which,
when the outcries of mere tyranny and pride-defiant on one side, and of
mere envy and pride-concupiscent on the other, excited by the peril and
promise of a changeful time, shall be a little abated, will be found to
be, in brief terms, the one social question of the day.

Without attempting an answer which would lead us far from the business
in hand, I pass to the Ethical part of the inquiry; to examine, namely,
the effect of this cheaply diffused Art on the public mind.

97. The first great principle we have to hold by in dealing with the
matter is, that the end of Art is NOT to _amuse_; and that all Art which
proposes amusement as its end, or which is sought for that end, must be
of an inferior, and is probably of a harmful, class.

The end of Art is as serious as that of all other beautiful things--of
the blue sky and the green grass, and the clouds and the dew. They are
either useless, or they are of much deeper function than giving
amusement. Whatever delight we take in them, be it less or more, is not
the delight we take in play, or receive from momentary surprise. It
might be a matter of some metaphysical difficulty to define the two
kinds of pleasure, but it is perfectly easy for any of us to feel that
there _is_ generic difference between the delight we have in seeing a
comedy and in watching a sunrise. Not but that there is a kind of Divina
Commedia,--a dramatic change and power,--in all beautiful things: the
joy of surprise and incident mingles in music, painting, architecture,
and natural beauty itself, in an ennobled and enduring manner, with the
perfectness of eternal hue and form. But whenever the desire of change
becomes principal; whenever we care only for new tunes, and new
pictures, and new scenes, all power of enjoying Nature or Art is so far
perished from us: and a child's love of toys has taken its place. The
continual advertisement of new music (as if novelty were its virtue)
signifies, in the inner fact of it, that no one now cares for music. The
continual desire for new exhibitions means that we do not care for
pictures; the continual demand for new books means that nobody cares to

98. Not that it would necessarily, and at all times, mean this; for in a
living school of Art there will always be an exceeding thirst for, and
eager watching of freshly-developed thought. But it specially and
sternly means this, when the interest is merely in the novelty; and
great work in our possession is forgotten, while mean work, because
strange and of some personal interest, is annually made the subject of
eager observation and discussion. As long as (for one of many instances
of such neglect) two great pictures of Tintoret's lie rolled up in an
outhouse at Venice, all the exhibitions and schools in Europe mean
nothing but promotion of costly commerce. Through that, we might indeed
arrive at better things; but there is no proof, in the eager talk of the
public about Art, that we _are_ arriving at them. Portraiture of the
said public's many faces, and tickling of its twice as many eyes, by
changeful phantasm, are all that the patron-multitudes of the present
day in reality seek; and this may be supplied to them in multiplying
excess forever, yet no steps made to the formation of a school of Art
now, or to the understanding of any that have hitherto existed.

99. It is the carrying of this annual Exhibition into the recesses of
home which is especially to be dreaded in the multiplication of inferior
Art for private possession. Public amusement or excitement may often be
quite wholesomely sought, in gay spectacles, or enthusiastic festivals;
but we must be careful to the uttermost how we allow the desire for any
kind of excitement to mingle among the peaceful continuities of home
happiness. The one stern condition of that happiness is that our
possessions should be no more than we can thoroughly use; and that to
this use they should be practically and continually put. Calculate the
hours which, during the possible duration of life, can, under the most
favorable circumstances, be employed in reading, and the number of books
which it is possible to read in that utmost space of time;--it will be
soon seen what a limited library is all that we need, and how careful we
ought to be in choosing its volumes. Similarly, the time which most
people have at their command for any observation of Art is not more than
would be required for the just understanding of the works of one great
master. How are we to estimate the futility of wasting this fragment of
time on works from which nothing can be learned? For the only real
pleasure, and the richest of all amusements, to be derived from either
reading or looking, are in the steady progress of the mind and heart,
which day by day are more deeply satisfied, and yet more divinely

100. As far as I know the homes of England of the present day, they show
a grievous tendency to fall, in these important respects, into the two
great classes of over-furnished and unfurnished:--of those in which the
Greek marble in its niche, and the precious shelf-loads of the luxurious
library, leave the inmates nevertheless dependent for all their true
pastime on horse, gun, and croquet-ground;--and those in which Art,
honored only by the presence of a couple of engravings from Landseer,
and literature, represented by a few magazines and annuals arranged in a
star on the drawing-room table, are felt to be entirely foreign to the
daily business of life, and entirely unnecessary to its domestic

101. The introduction of furniture of Art into households of this latter
class is now taking place rapidly; and, of course, by the usual system
of the ingenious English practical mind, will take place under the
general law of supply and demand; that is to say, that whatever a class
of consumers, entirely unacquainted with the different qualities of the
article they are buying, choose to ask for, will be duly supplied to
them by the trade. I observe that this beautiful system is gradually
extending lower and lower in education; and that children, like grown-up
persons, are more and more able to obtain their toys without any
reference to what is useful or useless, or right or wrong; but on the
great horseleech's law of "demand and supply." And, indeed, I write
these papers, knowing well how effectless all speculations on abstract
proprieties or possibilities must be in the present ravening state of
national desire for excitement; but the tracing of moral or of
mathematical law brings its own quiet reward; though it may be, for the
time, impossible to apply either to use.

The power of the new influences which have been brought to bear on the
middle-class mind, with respect to Art, may be sufficiently seen in the
great rise in the price of pictures which has taken place (principally
during the last twenty years) owing to the interest occasioned by
national exhibitions, coupled with facilities of carriage, stimulating
the activity of dealers, and the collateral discovery by mercantile men
that pictures are not a bad investment.

102. The following copy of a document in my own possession will give us
a sufficiently accurate standard of Art-price at the date of it:--

                                   "London, June 11th, 1814.

     "Received of Mr. Cooke the sum of twenty-two pounds ten shillings
     for three drawings, viz., Lyme, Land's End, and Poole.

       "£22, 10s.

                                          "J. M. W. TURNER."

It would be a very pleasant surprise to me if any _one_ of these three
(southern coast) drawings, for which the artist received seven guineas
each (the odd nine shillings being, I suppose, for the great resource of
tale-tellers about Turner--"coach-hire") were now offered to me by any
dealer for a hundred. The rise is somewhat greater in the instance of
Turner than of any other unpopular[81] artist; but it is at least three
hundred per cent. on all work by artists of established reputation,
whether the public can themselves see anything in it, or not. A certain
quantity of intelligent interest mixes, of course, with the mere fever
of desire for novelty; and the excellent book illustrations, which are
the special subjects of our inquiry, are peculiarly adapted to meet
this; for there are at least twenty people who know a good engraving or
wood-cut, for one who knows a good picture. The best book illustrations
fall into three main classes: fine line engravings (always grave in
purpose), typically represented by Goodall's illustrations to Rogers's
poems;--fine wood-cuts, or etchings, grave in purpose, such as those by
Dalziel, from Thomson and Gilbert;--and fine wood-cuts, or etchings, for
purpose of caricature, such as Leech's and Tenniel's in _Punch_. Each of
these have a possibly instructive power special to them, which we will
endeavor severally to examine in the next chapter.


[79] _Art Journal_, vol. v., pp. 33-4. February 1866,--ED.

[80] It may be, they would not ask larger incomes in a time of highest
national life; and that then the noble art would be far cheaper to the
nation than the ignoble. But I speak of existing circumstances.

[81] I have never found more than two people (students excepted) in the
room occupied by Turner's drawings at Kensington, and one of the two, if
there _are_ two, always looks as if he had got in by mistake.


103. I purpose in this chapter, as intimated in the last, to sketch
briefly what I believe to be the real uses and powers of the three kinds
of engraving, by black line; either for book illustration, or general
public instruction by distribution of multiplied copies. After thus
stating what seems to me the proper purpose of each kind of work, I may,
perhaps, be able to trace some advisable limitations of its technical

I. And first, of pure line engraving.

This is the only means by which entire refinement of intellectual
representation can be given to the public. Photographs have an
inimitable mechanical refinement, and their legal evidence is of great
use if you know how to cross-examine them. They are popularly supposed
to be "true," and, at the worst, they are so, in the sense in which an
echo is true to a conversation of which it omits the most important
syllables and reduplicates the rest. But this truth of mere transcript
has nothing to do with Art properly so called; and will never supersede
it. Delicate art of design, or of selected truth, can only be presented
to the general public by true line engraving. It will be enough for my
purpose to instance three books in which its power has been sincerely
used. I am more in fields than libraries, and have never cared to look
much into book illustrations; there are, therefore, of course, numbers
of well-illustrated works of which I know nothing: but the three I
should myself name as typical of good use of the method, are I. Rogers's
Poems, II. the Leipsic edition of Heyne's Virgil (1800), and III. the
great "Description de l'Egypte."

104. The vignettes in the first named volumes (considering the Italy
and Poems as one book) I believe to be as skillful and tender as any
hand work, of the kind, ever done; they are also wholly free from
affectation of overwrought fineness, on the one side, and from hasty or
cheap expediencies on the other; and they were produced, under the
direction and influence of a gentleman and a scholar. Multitudes of
works, imitative of these, and far more attractive, have been produced
since; but none of any sterling quality: the good books were (I was
told) a loss to their publisher, and the money spent since in the same
manner has been wholly thrown away. Yet these volumes are enough to show
what lovely service line engraving might be put upon, if the general
taste were advanced enough to desire it. Their vignettes from Stothard,
however conventional, show in the grace and tenderness of their living
subjects how types of innocent beauty, as pure as Angelico's, and far
lovelier, might indeed be given from modern English life, to exalt the
conception of youthful dignity and sweetness in every household. I know
nothing among the phenomena of the present age more sorrowful than that
the beauty of our youth should remain wholly unrepresented in Fine Art,
because unfelt by ourselves; and that the only vestiges of a likeness to
it should be in some of the more subtle passages of caricatures, popular
(and justly popular) as much because they were the only attainable
reflection of the prettiness, as because they were the only sympathizing
records of the humors, of English girls and boys. Of our oil portraits
of them, in which their beauty is always conceived as consisting in a
fixed simper--feet not more than two inches long, and accessory grounds,
pony, and groom--our sentence need not be "_guarda e passa_," but
"_passa_" only. Yet one oil picture has been painted, and so far as I
know, one only, representing the deeper loveliness of English youth--the
portraits of the three children of the Dean of Christ Church, by the son
of the great portrait painter, who has recorded whatever is tender and
beautiful in the faces of the aged men of England, bequeathing, as it
seems, the beauty of their children to the genius of his child.

105. The second book which I named, Heyne's Virgil, shows, though
unequally and insufficiently, what might be done by line engraving to
give vital image of classical design, and symbol of classical thought.
It is profoundly to be regretted that none of these old and
well-illustrated classics can be put frankly into the hands of youth;
while all books lately published for general service, pretending to
classical illustration, are, in point of Art, absolutely dead and
harmful rubbish. I cannot but think that the production of
well-illustrated classics would at least leave free of money-scathe, and
in great honor, any publisher who undertook it; and although schoolboys
in general might not care for any such help, to one, here and there, it
would make all the difference between loving his work and hating it. For
myself, I am quite certain that a single vignette, like that of the
fountain of Arethusa in Heyne, would have set me on an eager quest,
which would have saved me years of sluggish and fruitless labor.

106. It is the more strange, and the more to be regretted, that no such
worthy applications of line engraving are now made, because, merely to
gratify a fantastic pride, works are often undertaken in which, for want
of well-educated draughtsmen, the mechanical skill of the engraver has
been wholly wasted, and nothing produced useful, except for common
reference. In the great work published by the Dilettanti Society, for
instance, the engravers have been set to imitate, at endless cost of
sickly fineness in dotted and hatched execution, drawings in which the
light and shade is always forced and vulgar, if not utterly false.
Constantly (as in the 37th plate of the first volume), waving hair casts
a straight shadow, not only on the forehead, but even on the ripples of
other curls emerging beneath it: while the publication of plate 41, as a
representation of the most beautiful statue in the British Museum, may
well arouse any artist's wonder what kind of "diletto" in antiquity it
might be, from which the Society assumed its name.

107. The third book above named as a typical example of right work in
line, the "Description de l'Egypte," is one of the greatest monuments
of calm human industry, honestly and delicately applied, which exist in
the world. The front of Rouen Cathedral, or the most richly-wrought
illuminated missal, as pieces of resolute industry, are mere child's
play compared to any group of the plates of natural history in this
book. Of unemotional, but devotedly earnest and rigidly faithful labor,
I know no other such example. The lithographs to Agassiz's "poissons
fossiles" are good in their kind, but it is a far lower and easier kind,
and the popularly visible result is in larger proportion to the skill;
whereas none but workmen can know the magnificent devotion of
unpretending and observant toil, involved in even a single figure of an
insect or a starfish on these unapproachable plates. Apply such skill to
the simple presentation of the natural history of every English county,
and make the books portable in size, and I cannot conceive any other
book-gift to our youth so precious.

108. II. Wood-cutting and etching for serious purpose.

The tendency of wood-cutting in England has been to imitate the fineness
and manner of engraving. This is a false tendency; and so far as the
productions obtained under its influence have been successful, they are
to be considered only as an inferior kind of engraving, under the last
head. But the real power of wood-cutting is, with little labor, to
express in clear delineation the most impressive essential qualities of
form and light and shade, in objects which owe their interest not to
grace, but to power and character. It can never express beauty of the
subtlest kind, and is not in any way available on a large scale; but
used rightly, on its own ground, it is the _most purely intellectual_ of
all Art; sculpture, even of the highest order, being slightly sensual
and imitative; while fine wood-cutting is entirely abstract, thoughtful,
and passionate. The best wood-cuts that I know in the whole range of Art
are those of Dürer's "Life of the Virgin;" after these come the other
works of Dürer, slightly inferior from a more complex and wiry treatment
of line. I have never seen any other work in wood deserving to be named
with his; but the best vignettes of Bewick approach Dürer in execution
of plumage, as nearly as a clown's work can approach a gentleman's.

109. Some very brilliant execution on an inferior system--less false,
however, than the modern English one--has been exhibited by the French;
and if we accept its false conditions, nothing can surpass the
cleverness of our own school of Dalziel, or even of the average
wood-cutting in our daily journals, which however, as aforesaid, is only
to be reckoned an inferior method of engraving. These meet the demand of
the imperfectly-educated public in every kind; and it would be absurd to
urge any change in the method, as long as the public remain in the same
state of knowledge or temper. But, allowing for the time during which
these illustrated papers have now been bringing whatever information and
example of Art they could to the million, it seems likely that the said
million will remain in the same stage of knowledge yet for some time.
Perhaps the horse is an animal as antagonistic to Art in England, as he
was in harmony with it in Greece; still, allowing for the general
intelligence of the London bred lower classes, I was surprised by a
paragraph in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, quoting the _Star_ of November 6th
of last year, in its report upon the use made of illustrated papers by
the omnibus stablemen,--to the following effect:--

"They are frequently employed in the omnibus yards from five o'clock in
the morning till twelve at night, so that a fair day's work for a
'horse-keeper' is about eighteen hours. For this enormous labor they
receive a guinea per week, which for them means seven, not six, days;
though they do contrive to make Sunday an 'off-day' now and then. The
ignorance of aught in the world save ''orses and 'buses' which prevails
amongst these stablemen is almost incredible. A veteran horse-keeper,
who had passed his days in an omnibus-yard, was once overheard praising
the 'Lus-trated London News with much enthusiasm, as the best periodical
in London, 'leastways at the coffee-shop.' When pressed for the reason
of his partiality, he confessed it was the 'pickshers' which delighted
him. He amused himself during his meal-times by 'counting the images!'"

110. But for the classes among whom there is a real demand for
educational art, it is highly singular that no systematic use has yet
been made of wood-cutting on its own terms; and only here and there,
even in the best books, is there an example of what might be done by it.
The frontispieces to the two volumes of Mr. Birch's "Ancient Pottery and
Porcelain," and such simpler cuts as that at p. 273 of the first volume,
show what might be cheaply done for illustration of archaic classical
work; two or three volumes of such cuts chosen from the best vases of
European collections and illustrated by a short and trustworthy
commentary, would be to any earnest schoolboy worth a whole library of
common books. But his father can give him nothing of the kind--and if
the father himself wish to study Greek Art, he must spend something like
a hundred pounds to put himself in possession of any sufficiently
illustrative books of reference. As to any use of such means for
representing objects in the round, the plate of the head of Pallas
facing p. 168 in the same volume sufficiently shows the hopelessness of
setting the modern engraver to such service. Again, in a book like
Smith's dictionary of geography, the wood-cuts of coins are at present
useful only for comparison and reference. They are absolutely valueless
as representations of the art of the coin.

111. Now, supposing that an educated scholar and draughtsman had drawn
each of these blocks, and that they had been cut with as much average
skill as that employed in the wood-cuts of _Punch_, each of these
vignettes of coins might have been an exquisite lesson, both of high Art
treatment in the coin, and of beautiful black and white drawing in the
representation; and this just as cheaply--nay, more cheaply--than the
present common and useless drawing. The things necessary are indeed not
small,--nothing less than well educated intellect and feeling in the
draughtsmen; but intellect and feeling, as I have often said before now,
are always to be had cheap if you go the right way about it--and they
cannot otherwise be had for any price. There are quite brains enough,
and there is quite sentiment enough, among the gentlemen of England to
answer all the purposes of England: but if you so train your youths of
the richer classes that they shall think it more gentlemanly to scrawl a
figure on a bit of note paper, to be presently rolled up to light a
cigar with, than to draw one nobly and rightly for the seeing of all
men;--and if you practically show your youths, of all classes, that they
will be held gentlemen, for babbling with a simper in Sunday pulpits; or
grinning through, not a horse's, but a hound's, collar, in Saturday
journals; or dirtily living on the public money in government
non-offices:--but that they shall be held less than gentlemen for doing
a man's work honestly with a man's right hand--you will of course find
that intellect and feeling cannot be had when you want them. But if you
like to train some of your best youth into scholarly artists,--men of
the temper of Leonardo, of Holbein, of Dürer, or of Velasquez, instead
of decomposing them into the early efflorescences and putrescences of
idle clerks, sharp lawyers, soft curates, and rotten journalists,--you
will find that you can always get a good line drawn when you need it,
without paying large subscriptions to schools of Art.

112. III. This relation of social character to the possible supply
of good Art is still more direct when we include in our survey the
mass of illustration coming under the general head of dramatic
caricature--caricature, that is to say, involving right understanding of
the true grotesque in human life; caricature of which the worth or
harmfulness cannot be estimated, unless we can first somewhat answer the
wide question, What is the meaning and worth of English laughter? I say,
"of English laughter," because if you can well determine the value of
that, you determine the value of the true laughter of all men--the
English laugh being the purest and truest in the metal that can be
minted. And indeed only Heaven can know what the country owes to it, on
the lips of such men as Sydney Smith and Thomas Hood. For indeed the
true wit of all countries, but especially English wit (because the
openest), must always be essentially on the side of truth--for the
nature of wit is one with truth. Sentiment may be false--reasoning
false--reverence false---love false,--everything false except wit; that
_must_ be true--and even if it is ever harmful, it is as divided against
itself--a small truth undermining a mightier.

On the other hand, the spirit of levity, and habit of mockery, are among
the chief instruments of final ruin both to individual and nations. I
believe no business will ever be rightly done by a laughing Parliament:
and that the public perception of vice or of folly which only finds
expression in caricature, neither reforms the one, nor instructs the
other. No man is fit for much, we know, "who has not a good laugh in
him"--but a sad wise valor is the only complexion for a leader; and if
there was ever a time for laughing in this dark and hollow world, I do
not think it is now. This is a wide subject, and I must follow it in
another place; for our present purpose, all that needs to be noted is
that, for the expression of true humor, few and imperfect lines are
often sufficient, and that in this direction lies the only opening for
the serviceable presentation of amateur work to public notice.

113. I have said nothing of lithography, because, with the exception of
Samuel Prout's sketches, no work of standard Art-value has ever been
produced by it, nor can be: its opaque and gritty texture being wholly
offensive to the eye of any well trained artist. Its use in connection
with color is, of course, foreign to our present subject. Nor do I take
any note of the various current patents for cheap modes of drawing,
though they are sometimes to be thanked for rendering possible the
publication of sketches like those of the pretty little "Voyage en
Zigzag" ("how we spent the summer") published by Longmans--which are
full of charming humor, character, and freshness of expression; and
might have lost more by the reduction to the severe terms of
wood-cutting than they do by the ragged interruptions of line which are
an inevitable defect in nearly all these cheap processes. It will be
enough, therefore, for all serious purpose, that we confine ourselves
to the study of the black line, as produced in steel and wood; and I
will endeavor in the next paper[83] to set down some of the technical
laws belonging to each mode of its employment.


[82] _Art Journal_, vol. v., pp. 97-8. April 1866.--ED.

[83] The present paper was, however, the last.--ED.

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