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Title: Ariadne Florentina - Six Lectures on Wood and Metal Engraving
Author: Ruskin, John, 1819-1900
Language: English
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                      _Library Edition_

                     THE COMPLETE WORKS


                         JOHN RUSKIN

                      THE EAGLE'S NEST
                        LOVE'S MEINIE
                     ARIADNE FLORENTINA
                         VAL D'ARNO

                NEW YORK             CHICAGO

                     ARIADNE FLORENTINA.

                        SIX LECTURES


                  WOOD AND METAL ENGRAVING

                       WITH APPENDIX.


                  IN MICHAELMAS TERM, 1872.


                         LECTURE I.
DEFINITION OF THE ART OF ENGRAVING                                       1

                         LECTURE II.


                         LECTURE III.

THE TECHNICS OF WOOD ENGRAVING                                          42

                         LECTURE IV.

THE TECHNICS OF METAL ENGRAVING                                         61

                         LECTURE V.


                         LECTURE VI.




II. DETACHED NOTES                                                     157


                                                                Facing Page
Diagram                                                                  27

The Last Furrow (Fig. 2). Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut               47

The Two Preachers (Fig. 3). Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut             48

   I. Things Celestial and Terrestrial, as apparent to the English mind  56

  II. Star of Florence                                                   62

 III. "At evening from the top of Fésole"                                72

  IV. "By the Springs of Parnassus"                                      77

   V. "Heat considered as a Mode of Motion." Florentine Natural
          Philosophy                                                     92

  VI. Fairness of the Sea and Air. In Venice and Athens                  95

      The Child's Bedtime (Fig. 5). Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut    103

      "He that hath ears to hear let him hear" (Fig. 6). Facsimile from
          Holbein's woodcut                                             105

 VII. For a time, and times                                             130

VIII. The Nymph beloved of Apollo (Michael Angelo)                      131

  IX. In the Woods of Ida                                               132

   X. Grass of the Desert                                               135

  XI. "Obediente Domino voci hominis"                                   145

 XII. The Coronation in the Garden                                      158

                     ARIADNE FLORENTINA.

                         LECTURE I.


1. The entrance on my duty for to-day begins the fourth year of my
official work in Oxford; and I doubt not that some of my audience are
asking themselves, very doubtfully--at all events, I ask myself, very
anxiously--what has been done.

For practical result, I have not much to show. I announced, a fortnight
since, that I would meet, the day before yesterday, any gentleman who
wished to attend this course for purposes of study. My class, so minded,
numbers four, of whom three wish to be artists, and ought not therefore,
by rights, to be at Oxford at all; and the fourth is the last remaining
unit of the class I had last year.

2. Yet I neither in this reproach myself, nor, if I could, would I
reproach the students who are not here. I do not reproach myself; for it
was impossible for me to attend properly to the schools and to write the
grammar for them at the same time; and I do not blame the absent
students for not attending a school from which I have generally been
absent myself. In all this, there is much to be mended, but, in true
light, nothing to be regretted.

I say, I had to write my school grammar. These three volumes of lectures
under my hand,[A] contain, carefully set down, the things I want you
first to know. None of my writings are done fluently; the second volume
of "Modern Painters" was all of it written twice--most of it, four
times,--over; and these lectures have been written, I don't know how
many times. You may think that this was done merely in an author's
vanity, not in a tutor's care. To the vanity I plead guilty,--no man is
more intensely vain than I am; but my vanity is set on having it _known_
of me that I am a good master, not in having it _said_ of me that I am a
smooth author. My vanity is never more wounded than in being called a
fine writer, meaning--that nobody need mind what I say.

3. Well, then, besides this vanity, I have some solicitude for your
progress. You may give me credit for it or not, as you choose, but it is
sincere. And that your advance may be safe, I have taken the best pains
I could in laying down laws for it. In these three years I have got my
grammar written, and, with the help of many friends, all working
instruments in good order; and now we will try what we can do. Not that,
even now, you are to depend on my presence with you in personal
teaching. I shall henceforward think of the lectures less, of the
schools more; but my best work for the schools will often be by drawing
in Florence or in Lancashire--not here.

4. I have already told you several times that the course through which I
mean every student in these schools should pass, is one which shall
enable them to understand the elementary principles of the finest art.
It will necessarily be severe, and seem to lead to no immediate result.
Some of you will, on the contrary, wish to be taught what is immediately
easy, and gives prospect of a manifest success.

But suppose they should come to the Professor of Logic and Rhetoric, and
tell him they want to be taught to preach like Mr. Spurgeon, or the
Bishop of ----.

He would say to them,--I cannot, and if I could I would not, tell you
how to preach like Mr. Spurgeon, or the Bishop of ----. Your own
character will form your style; your own zeal will direct it; your own
obstinacy or ignorance may limit or exaggerate it; but my business is to
prevent, as far as I can, your having _any_ particular style; and to
teach you the laws of all language, and the essential power of your own.

In like manner, this course, which I propose to you in art, will be
calculated only to give you judgment and method in future study, to
establish to your conviction the laws of general art, and to enable you
to draw, if not with genius, at least with sense and propriety.

The course, so far as it consists in practice, will be defined in my
Instructions for the schools. And the theory connected with that
practice is set down in the three lectures at the end of the first
course I delivered--those on Line, Light, and Color.

You will have, therefore, to get this book,[B] and it is the only one
which you will need to have of your own,--the others are placed, for
reference, where they will be accessible to you.

5. In the 139th paragraph it states the order of your practical study in
these terms:--

"I wish you to begin by getting command of line;--that is to say, by
learning to draw a steady line, limiting with absolute correctness the
form or space you intend it to limit; to proceed by getting command over
flat tints, so that you may be able to fill the spaces you have inclosed
evenly, either with shade or color, according to the school you adopt;
and, finally, to obtain the power of adding such fineness of drawing,
within the masses, as shall express their undulation, and their
characters of form and texture."

And now, since in your course of practice you are first required to
attain the power of drawing lines accurately and delicately, so in the
course of theory, or grammar, I wish you first to learn the principles
of linear design, exemplified by the schools which (§ 137) you will find
characterized as the Schools of Line.

6. If I had command of as much time as I should like to spend with you
on this subject, I would begin with the early forms of art which used
the simplest linear elements of design. But, for general service and
interest, it will be better that I should sketch what has been
accomplished by the greatest masters in that manner; the rather that
their work is more or less accessible to all, and has developed into the
vast industries of modern engraving, one of the most powerful existing
influences of education and sources of pleasure among civilized people.

And this investigation, so far from interrupting, will facilitate our
examination of the history of the nobler arts. You will see in the
preface to my lectures on Greek sculpture that I intend them to be
followed by a course on architecture, and that by one on Florentine
sculpture. But the art of engraving is so manifestly, at Florence,
though not less essentially elsewhere, a basis of style both in
architecture and sculpture, that it is absolutely necessary I should
explain to you in what the skill of the engraver consists, before I can
define with accuracy that of more admired artists. For engraving, though
not altogether in the method of which you see examples in the
print-shops of the High Street, is, indeed, a prior art to that either
of building or sculpture, and is an inseparable part of both, when they
are rightly practiced.

7. And while we thus examine the scope of this first of the arts, it
will be necessary that we learn also the scope of mind of the early
practicers of it, and accordingly acquaint ourselves with the main
events in the biography of the schools of Florence. To understand the
temper and meaning of one great master is to lay the best, if not the
only, foundation for the understanding of all; and I shall therefore
make it the leading aim of this course of lectures to remind you of what
is known, and direct you to what is knowable, of the life and character
of the greatest Florentine master of engraving, Sandro Botticelli; and,
incidentally, to give you some idea of the power of the greatest master
of the German, or any northern, school, Hans Holbein.

8. You must feel, however, that I am using the word "engraving" in a
somewhat different, and, you may imagine, a wider, sense, than that
which you are accustomed to attach to it. So far from being a wider
sense, it is in reality a more accurate and restricted one, while yet it
embraces every conceivable right application of the art. And I wish, in
this first lecture, to make entirely clear to you the proper meaning of
the word, and proper range of the art of, engraving; in my next
following lecture, to show you its place in Italian schools, and then,
in due order, the place it ought to take in our own, and in all schools.

9. First then, to-day, of the Differentia, or essential quality of
Engraving, as distinguished from other arts.

What answer would you make to me, if I asked casually what engraving
was? Perhaps the readiest which would occur to you would be, "The
translation of pictures into black and white by means admitting
reduplication of impressions." But if that be done by lithography, we do
not call it engraving,--whereas we speak contentedly and continually of
seal engraving, in which there is no question of black and white. And,
as scholars, you know that this customary mode of speaking is quite
accurate; and that engraving means, primarily, making a permanent cut or
furrow in something. The central syllable of the word has become a
sorrowful one, meaning the most permanent of furrows.

10. But are you prepared absolutely to accept this limitation with
respect to engraving as a pictorial art? Will you call nothing an
engraving, except a group of furrows or cavities cut in a hard
substance? What shall we say of mezzotint engraving, for instance, in
which, though indeed furrows and cavities are produced mechanically as a
ground, the artist's work is in effacing them? And when we consider the
power of engraving in representing pictures and multiplying them, are we
to recognize and admire no effects of light and shade except those which
are visibly produced by dots or furrows? I mean, will the virtue of an
engraving be in exhibiting these imperfect means of its effect, or in
concealing them?

11. Here, for instance, is the head of a soldier by Dürer,--a mere
gridiron of black lines. Would this be better or worse engraving if it
were more like a photograph or lithograph, and no lines seen?--suppose,
more like the head of Mr. Santley, now in all the music-shops, and
really quite deceptive in light and shade, when seen from over the way?
Do you think Dürer's work would be better if it were more like that? And
would you have me, therefore, leaving the question of technical method
of production altogether to the craftsman, consider pictorial engraving
simply as the production of a light-and-shade drawing, by some method
permitting its multiplication for the public?

12. This, you observe, is a very practical question indeed. For
instance, the illustrations of my own lectures on sculpture are
equivalent to permanent photographs. There can be little doubt that
means will be discovered of thus producing perfect facsimiles of
artists' drawings; so that, if no more than facsimile be required, the
old art of cutting furrows in metal may be considered as, at this day,
virtually ended. And, indeed, it is said that line engravers cannot any
more get apprentices, and that a pure steel or copper plate is not
likely to be again produced, when once the old living masters of the
bright field shall have been all laid in their earth-furrows.

13. Suppose, then, that this come to pass; and more than this, suppose
that wood engraving also be superseded, and that instead of imperfect
transcripts of drawings, on wood-blocks or metal-plates, photography
enabled us to give, quite cheaply, and without limit to number,
facsimiles of the finished light-and-shade drawings of artists
themselves. Another group of questions instantly offers itself, on these
new conditions; namely, What are the best means for a light-and-shade
drawing--the pen, or the pencil, the charcoal, or the flat wash? That is
to say, the pen, producing shade by black lines, as old engraving did;
the pencil, producing shade by gray lines, variable in force; the
charcoal, producing a smoky shadow with no lines in it, or the washed
tint, producing a transparent shadow with no lines in it. Which of
these methods is the best?--or have they, each and all, virtues to be
separately studied, and distinctively applied?

14. See how curiously the questions multiply on us. 1st, Is engraving to
be only considered as cut work? 2d, For present designs multipliable
without cutting, by the sunshine, what methods or instruments of drawing
will be best? And now, 3dly, before we can discuss these questions at
all, is there not another lying at the root of both,--namely, what a
light-and-shade drawing itself properly _is_, and how it differs, or
should differ, from a painting, whether by mere deficiency, or by some
entirely distinct merit?

15. For instance, you know how confidently it is said, in common talk
about Turner, that his works are intelligible and beautiful when
engraved, though incomprehensible as paintings. Admitting this to be so,
do you suppose it is because the translation into light and shade is
deficient in some qualities which the painting had, or that it possesses
some quality which the painting had not? Does it please more because it
is deficient in the color which confused a feeble spectator, and
offended a dogmatic one,--or because it possesses a decision in its
steady linear labor which interprets, or corrects, the swift penciling
of the artist?

16. Do you notice the two words I have just used, _Decision_, and
_Linear_?--Decision, again introducing the idea of cuts or divisions, as
opposed to gradations; Linear, as opposed to massive or broad?

Yet we use all these words at different times in praise, while they
evidently mark inconsistent qualities. Softness and decision, breadth
and delineation, cannot co-exist in equal degrees. There must surely
therefore be a virtue in the engraving inconsistent with that of the
painting, and vice versâ.

Now, be clear about these three questions which we have to-day to

     A. Is all engraving to be cut work?

     B. If it need not be cut work, but only the reproduction of a
     drawing, what methods of executing a light-and-shade drawing
     will be best?

     C. Is the shaded drawing itself to be considered only as a
     deficient or imperfect painting, or as a different thing from a
     painting, having a virtue of its own, belonging to black and
     white, as opposed to color?

17. I will give you the answers at once, briefly, and amplify them

     A. All engraving must be cut work;--_that_ is its differentia.
     Unless your effect be produced by cutting into some solid
     substance, it is not engraving at all.

     B. The proper methods for light-and-shade drawing vary
     according to subject, and the degree of completeness
     desired,--some of them having much in common with engraving,
     and others with painting.

     C. The qualities of a light-and-shade drawing ought to be
     entirely different from those of a painting. It is not a
     deficient or partial representation of a colored scene or
     picture, but an entirely different reading of either. So that
     much of what is intelligible in a painting ought to be
     unintelligible in a light-and-shade study, and _vice versâ_.

You have thus three arts,--engraving, light-and-shade drawing, and

Now I am not going to lecture, in this course, on painting, nor on
light-and-shade drawing, but on engraving only. But I must tell you
something about light-and-shade drawing first; or, at least, remind you
of what I have before told.

18. You see that the three elementary lectures in my first volume are on
Line, Light, and Color,--that is to say, on the modes of art which
produce linear designs,--which produce effects of light,--and which
produce effects of color.

I must, for the sake of new students, briefly repeat the explanation of

Here is an Arabian vase, in which the pleasure given to the eye is only
by lines;--no effect of light, or of color, is attempted. Here is a
moonlight by Turner, in which there are no lines at all, and no colors
at all. The pleasure given to the eye is only by modes of light and
shade, or effects of light. Finally, here is an early Florentine
painting, in which there are no lines of importance, and no effect of
light whatever; but all the pleasure given to the eye is in gayety and
variety of color.

19. I say, the pleasure given to the _eye_. The lines on this vase write
something; but the ornamentation produced by the beautiful writing is
independent of its meaning. So the moonlight is pleasant, first, as
light; and the figures, first, as color. It is not the shape of the
waves, but the light on them; not the expression of the figures, but
their color, by which the _ocular_ pleasure is to be given.

These three examples are violently marked ones; but, in preparing to
draw _any_ object, you will find that, practically, you have to ask
yourself, Shall I aim at the color of it, the light of it, or the lines
of it? You can't have all three; you can't even have any two out of the
three in equal strength. The best art, indeed, comes so near nature as
in a measure to unite all. But the best is not, and cannot be, as good
as nature; and the mode of its deficiency is that it must lose some of
the color, some of the light, or some of the delineation. And in
consequence, there is one great school which says, We will have the
color, and as much light and delineation as are consistent with it.
Another which says, We will have shade, and as much color and
delineation as are consistent with it. The third, We will have
delineation, and as much color and shade as are consistent with it.

20. And though much of the two subordinate qualities may in each school
be consistent with the leading one, yet the schools are evermore
separate: as, for instance, in other matters, one man says, I will have
my fee, and as much honesty as is consistent with it; another, I will
have my honesty, and as much fee as is consistent with it. Though the
man who will have his fee be subordinately honest,--though the man who
will have his honor, subordinately rich, are they not evermore of
diverse schools?

So you have, in art, the utterly separate provinces, though in contact
at their borders, of

                      The Delineators;
                      The Chiaroscurists; and
                      The Colorists.

21. The Delineators are the men on whom I am going to give you this
course of lectures. They are essentially engravers, an engraved line
being the best means of delineation. The Chiaroscurists are essentially
draughtsmen with chalk, charcoal, or single tints. Many of them paint,
but always with some effort and pain. Lionardo is the type of them; but
the entire Dutch school consists of them, laboriously painting, without
essential genius for color.

The Colorists are the true painters; and all the faultless (as far, that
is to say, as men's work can be so,) and consummate masters of art
belong to them.

22. The distinction between the colorist and chiaroscurist school is
trenchant and absolute: and may soon be shown you so that you will never
forget it. Here is a Florentine picture by one of the pupils of Giotto,
of very good representative quality, and which the University galleries
are rich in possessing. At the distance at which I hold it, you see
nothing but a checker-work of brilliant, and, as it happens, even
glaring colors. If you come near, you will find this patchwork resolve
itself into a Visitation, and Birth of St. John; but that St.
Elizabeth's red dress, and the Virgin's blue and white one, and the
brown posts of the door, and the blue spaces of the sky, are painted in
their own entirely pure colors, each shaded with more powerful tints of
itself,--pale blue with deep blue, scarlet with crimson, yellow with
orange, and green with richer green.

The whole is therefore as much a mosaic work of brilliant color as if it
were made of bits of glass. There is no effect of light attempted, or so
much as thought of: you don't know even where the sun is: nor have you
the least notion what time of day it is. The painter thinks you cannot
be so superfluous as to want to know what time of day it is.

23. Here, on the other hand, is a Dutch picture of good average quality,
also out of the University galleries. It represents a group of cattle,
and a herdsman watching them. And you see in an instant that the time is
evening. The sun is setting, and there is warm light on the landscape,
the cattle, and the standing figure.

Nor does the picture in any conspicuous way seem devoid of color. On the
contrary, the herdsman has a scarlet jacket, which comes out rather
brilliantly from the mass of shade round it; and a person devoid of
color faculty, or ill taught, might imagine the picture to be really a
fine work of color.

But if you will come up close to it, you will find that the herdsman has
brown sleeves, though he has a scarlet jacket; and that the shadows of
both are painted with precisely the same brown, and in several places
with continuous touches of the pencil. It is only in the light that the
scarlet is laid on.

This at once marks the picture as belonging to the lower or
chiaroscurist school, even if you had not before recognized it as such
by its pretty rendering of sunset effect.

24. You might at first think it a painting which showed greater skill
than that of the school of Giotto. But the skill is not the primary
question. The power of imagination is the first thing to be asked about.
This Italian work imagines, and requires you to imagine also, a St.
Elizabeth and St. Mary, to the best of your power. But this Dutch one
only wishes you to imagine an effect of sunlight on cow-skin, which is a
far lower strain of the imaginative faculty.

Also, as you may see the effect of sunlight on cow-skin, in reality, any
summer afternoon, but cannot so frequently see a St. Elizabeth, it is a
far less useful strain of the imaginative faculty.

And, generally speaking, the Dutch chiaroscurists are indeed persons
without imagination at all,--who, not being able to get any pleasure out
of their thoughts, try to get it out of their sensations; note, however,
also their technical connection with the Greek school of shade, (see my
sixth inaugural lecture, § 158,) in which color was refused, not for the
sake of deception, but of solemnity.

25. With these final motives you are not now concerned; your present
business is the quite easy one of knowing, and noticing, the universal
distinction between the methods of treatment in which the aim is light,
and in which it is color; and so to keep yourselves guarded from the
danger of being misled by the, often very ingenious, talk of persons who
have vivid color sensations without having learned to distinguish them
from what else pleases them in pictures. There is an interesting volume
by Professor Taine on the Dutch school, containing a valuable historical
analysis of the influences which formed it; but full of the gravest
errors, resulting from the confusion in his mind between color and tone,
in consequence of which he imagines the Dutch painters to be colorists.

26. It is so important for you to be grounded securely in these first
elements of pictorial treatment, that I will be so far tedious as to
show you one more instance of the relative intellectual value of the
pure color and pure chiaroscuro school, not in Dutch and Florentine, but
in English art. Here is a copy of one of the lost frescoes of our
Painted Chamber of Westminster;--fourteenth-century work, entirely
conceived in color, and calculated for decorative effect. There is no
more light and shade in it than in a Queen of Hearts in a pack of
cards;--all that the painter at first wants you to see is that the young
lady has a white forehead, and a golden crown, and a fair neck, and a
violet robe, and a crimson shield with golden leopards on it; and that
behind her is clear blue sky. Then, farther, he wants you to read her
name, "Debonnairete," which, when you have read, he farther expects you
to consider what it is to be debonnaire, and to remember your Chaucer's
description of the virtue:--

    She was not brown, nor dun of hue,
    But white as snowe, fallen new,
    With eyen glad, and browes bent,
    Her hair down to her heeles went,
    And she was simple, as dove on tree,
    Full debonnair of heart was she.

27. You see Chaucer dwells on the color just as much as the painter
does, but the painter has also given her the English shield to bear,
meaning that good-humor, or debonnairete, cannot be maintained by
self-indulgence;--only by fortitude. Farther note, with Chaucer, the
"eyen glad," and brows "bent" (high-arched and calm), the strong life,
(hair down to the heels,) and that her gladness is to be without
subtlety,--that is to say, without the slightest pleasure in any form of
advantage-taking, or any shrewd or mocking wit: "she was simple as dove
on tree;" and you will find that the color-painting, both in the fresco
and in the poem, is in the very highest degree didactic and
intellectual; and distinguished, as being so, from all inferior forms of
art. Farther, that it requires you yourself first to understand the
nature of simplicity, and to like simplicity in young ladies better than
subtlety; and to understand why the second of Love's five kind arrows
(Beauté being the first)--

    Simplece ot nom, la seconde
    Qui maint homme parmi le monde
    Et mainte dame fait amer.

Nor must you leave the picture without observing that there is another
reason for Debonnairete's bearing the Royal shield,--of all shields
that, rather than another. "De-bonne-aire" meant originally "out of a
good eagle's nest," the "aire" signifying the eagle's nest or eyrie
especially, because it is flat, the Latin "area" being the root of all.

And this coming out of a good nest is recognized as, of all things,
needfulest to give the strength which enables people to be good-humored;
and thus you have "debonnaire" forming the third word of the group, with
"gentle" and "kind," all first signifying "of good race."

You will gradually see, as we go on, more and more why I called my third
volume of lectures Eagle's Nest; for I am not fantastic in these titles,
as is often said; but try shortly to mark my chief purpose in the book
by them.

28. Now for comparison with this old art, here is a modern engraving,
in which color is entirely ignored; and light and shade alone are used
to produce what is supposed to be a piece of impressive religious
instruction. But it is not a piece of religious instruction at
all;--only a piece of religious sensation, prepared for the sentimental
pleasure of young ladies; whom (since I am honored to-day by the
presence of many) I will take the opportunity of warning against such
forms of false theological satisfaction. This engraving represents a
young lady in a very long and, though plain, very becoming white dress,
tossed upon the waves of a terrifically stormy sea, by which neither her
hair nor her becoming dress is in the least wetted; and saved from
despair in that situation by closely embracing a very thick and solid
stone Cross. By which far-sought and original metaphor young ladies are
expected, after some effort, to understand the recourse they may have,
for support, to the Cross of Christ, in the midst of the troubles of
this world.

29. As those troubles are for the present, in all probability, limited
to the occasional loss of their thimbles when they have not taken care
to put them into their work-boxes,--the concern they feel at the
unsympathizing gayety of their companions,--or perhaps the
disappointment at not hearing a favorite clergyman preach,--(for I will
not suppose the young ladies interested in this picture to be affected
by any chagrin at the loss of an invitation to a ball, or the like
worldliness,)--it seems to me the stress of such calamities might be
represented, in a picture, by less appalling imagery. And I can assure
my fair little lady friends,--if I still have any,--that whatever a
young girl's ordinary troubles or annoyances may be, her true virtue is
in shaking them off, as a rose-leaf shakes off rain, and remaining
debonnaire and bright in spirits, or even, as the rose would be, the
brighter for the troubles; and not at all in allowing herself to be
either drifted or depressed to the point of requiring religious
consolation. But if any real and deep sorrow, such as no metaphor can
represent, fall upon her, does she suppose that the theological advice
of this piece of modern art can be trusted? If she will take the pains
to think truly, she will remember that Christ Himself never says
anything about holding by His Cross. He speaks a good deal of bearing
it; but never for an instant of holding by it. It is His Hand, not His
Cross, which is to save either you, or St. Peter, when the waves are
rough. And the utterly reckless way in which modern religious teachers,
whether in art or literature, abuse the metaphor somewhat briefly and
violently leant on by St. Paul, simply prevents your understanding the
meaning of any word which Christ Himself speaks on this matter! So you
see this popular art of light and shade, catching you by your mere
thirst of sensation, is not only undidactic, but the reverse of
didactic--deceptive and illusory.

30. This _popular_ art, you hear me say, scornfully; and I have told
you, in some of my teaching in "Aratra Pentelici," that all great art
must be popular. Yes, but great art is popular, as bread and water are
to children fed by a father. And vile art is popular, as poisonous jelly
is, to children cheated by a confectioner. And it is quite possible to
make any kind of art popular on those last terms. The color school may
become just as poisonous as the colorless, in the hands of fools, or of
rogues. Here is a book I bought only the other day,--one of the things
got up cheap to catch the eyes of mothers at bookstalls,--Puss in Boots,
illustrated; a most definite work of the color school--red jackets and
white paws and yellow coaches as distinct as Giotto or Raphael would
have kept them. But the thing is done by fools for money, and becomes
entirely monstrous and abominable. Here, again, is color art produced by
fools for religion: here is Indian sacred painting,--a black god with a
hundred arms, with a green god on one side of him and a red god on the
other; still a most definite work of the color school. Giotto or Raphael
could not have made the black more resolutely black, (though the whole
color of the school of Athens is kept in distinct separation from one
black square in it), nor the green more unquestionably green. Yet the
whole is pestilent and loathsome.

31. Now but one point more, and I have done with this subject for

You must not think that this manifest brilliancy and Harlequin's-jacket
character is essential in the color school. The essential matter is only
that everything should be of _its own_ definite color: it may be
altogether sober and dark, yet the distinctness of hue preserved with
entire fidelity. Here, for instance, is a picture of Hogarth's,--one of
quite the most precious things we have in our galleries. It represents a
meeting of some learned society--gentlemen of the last century, very
gravely dressed, but who, nevertheless, as gentlemen pleasantly did in
that day,--you remember Goldsmith's weakness on the point--wear coats of
tints of dark red, blue, or violet. There are some thirty gentlemen in
the room, and perhaps seven or eight different tints of subdued
claret-color in their coats; and yet every coat is kept so distinctly of
its own proper claret-color, that each gentleman's servant would know
his master's.

Yet the whole canvas is so gray and quiet, that as I now hold it by this
Dutch landscape, with the vermilion jacket, you would fancy Hogarth's
had no color in it at all, and that the Dutchman was half-way to
becoming a Titian; whereas Hogarth's is a consummate piece of the most
perfect colorist school, which Titian could not beat, in its way; and
the Dutchman could no more paint half an inch of it than he could summon
a rainbow into the clouds.

32. Here then, you see, are, altogether, five works, all of the
absolutely pure color school:--

  1. One, Indian,--Religious Art;
  2. One, Florentine,--Religious Art;
  3. One, English,--from Painted Chamber, Westminster,--Ethic Art;
  4. One, English,--Hogarth,--Naturalistic Art;
  5. One, English,--to-day sold in the High Street,--Caricaturist Art.

And of these, the Florentine and old English are divine work,
God-inspired; full, indeed, of faults and innocencies, but divine, as
good children are.

Then this by Hogarth is entirely wise and right; but worldly-wise, not

While the old Indian, and this, with which we feed our children at this
hour, are entirely damnable art;--every bit of it done by the direct
inspiration of the devil,--feeble, ridiculous,--yet mortally poisonous
to every noble quality in body and soul.

33. I have now, I hope, guarded you sufficiently from the danger either
of confusing the inferior school of chiaroscuro with that of color, or
of imagining that a work must necessarily be good, on the sole ground of
its belonging to the higher group. I can now proceed securely to
separate the third school, that of Delineation, from both; and to
examine its special qualities.

It begins (see "Inaugural Lectures," § 137) in the primitive work of
races insensible alike to shade and to color, and nearly devoid of
thought and of sentiment, but gradually developing into both.

Now as the design is primitive, so are the means likely to be primitive.
A line is the simplest work of art you can produce. What are the
simplest means you can produce it with?

A Cumberland lead-pencil is a work of art in itself, quite a
nineteenth-century machine. Pen and ink are complex and scholarly; and
even chalk or charcoal not always handy.

But the primitive line, the first and last, generally the best of lines,
is that which you have elementary faculty of at your fingers' ends, and
which kittens can draw as well as you--the scratch.

The first, I say, and the last of lines. Permanent exceedingly,--even in
flesh, or on mahogany tables, often more permanent than we desire. But
when studiously and honorably made, divinely permanent, or
delightfully--as on the venerable desks of our public schools, most of
them, now, specimens of wood engraving dear to the heart of England.

34. Engraving, then, is, in brief terms, the Art of Scratch. It is
essentially the cutting into a solid substance for the sake of making
your ideas as permanent as possible, graven with an iron pen in the
Rock forever. _Permanence_, you observe, is the object, not
multiplicability;--that is quite an accidental, sometimes not even a
desirable, attribute of engraving. Duration of your work--fame, and
undeceived vision of all men, on the pane of glass of the window on a
wet day, or on the pillars of the castle of Chillon, or on the walls
of the pyramids;--a primitive art,--yet first and last with us.

Since then engraving, we say, is essentially cutting into the surface of
any solid; as the primitive design is in lines or dots, the primitive
cutting of such design is a scratch or a hole; and scratchable solids
being essentially three--stone, wood, metal,--we shall have three great
schools of engraving to investigate in each material.

35. On tablet of stone, on tablet of wood, on tablet of steel,--the
first giving the law to everything; the second true Athenian, like
Athena's first statue in olive-wood, making the law legible and homely;
and the third true Vulcanian, having the splendor and power of
accomplished labor.

Now of stone engraving, which is joined inseparably with sculpture and
architecture, I am not going to speak at length in this course of
lectures. I shall speak only of wood and metal engraving. But there is
one circumstance in stone engraving which it is necessary to observe in
connection with the other two branches of the art.

The great difficulty for a primitive engraver is to make his scratch
deep enough to be visible. Visibility is quite as essential to your fame
as permanence; and if you have only your furrow to depend on, the
engraved tablet, at certain times of day, will be illegible, and passed
without notice.

But suppose you fill in your furrow with something black, then it will
be legible enough at once; and if the black fall out or wash out, still
your furrow is there, and may be filled again by anybody.

Therefore, the noble stone engravers, using marble to receive their
furrow, fill that furrow with marble ink.

And you have an engraved plate to purpose;--with the whole sky for its
margin! Look here--the front of the church of San Michele of
Lucca,--white marble with green serpentine for ink; or here,--the steps
of the Giant's Stair, with lead for ink; or here,--the floor of the
Pisan Duomo, with porphyry for ink. Such cutting, filled in with color
or with black, branches into all sorts of developments,--Florentine
mosaic on the one hand, niello on the other, and infinite minor arts.

36. Yet we must not make this filling with color part of our definition
of engraving. To engrave is, in final strictness, "to decorate a surface
with furrows." (Cameos, in accuratest terms, are minute sculptures, not
engravings.) A plowed field is the purest type of such art; and is, on
hilly land, an exquisite piece of decoration.

Therefore it will follow that engraving distinguishes itself from
ordinary drawing by greater need of muscular effort.

The quality of a pen drawing is to be produced easily,--deliberately,
always,[C] but with a point that _glides_ over the paper. Engraving, on
the contrary, requires always force, and its virtue is that of a line
produced by pressure, or by blows of a chisel.

It involves, therefore, always, ideas of power and dexterity, but also
of restraint; and the delight you take in it should involve the
understanding of the difficulty the workman dealt with. You perhaps
doubt the extent to which this feeling justly extends, (in the first
volume of "Modern Painters," expressed under the head "Ideas of Power.")
But why is a large stone in any building grander than a small one?
Simply because it was more difficult to raise it. So, also, an engraved
line is, and ought to be, recognized as more grand than a pen or pencil
line, because it was more difficult to execute it.

In this mosaic of Lucca front you forgive much, and admire much,
because you see it is all cut in stone. So, in wood and steel, you ought
to see that every line has been costly; but observe, costly of
deliberative, no less than athletic or executive power. The main use of
the restraint which makes the line difficult to draw, is to give time
and motive for deliberation in drawing it, and to insure its being the
best in your power.

37. For, as with deliberation, so without repentance, your engraved line
must be. It may, indeed, be burnished or beaten out again in metal, or
patched and botched in stone; but always to disadvantage, and at pains
which must not be incurred often. And there is a singular evidence in
one of Dürer's finest plates that, in his time, or at least in his
manner of work, it was not possible at all. Among the disputes as to the
meaning of Dürer's Knight and Death, you will find it sometimes
suggested, or insisted, that the horse's raised foot is going to fall
into a snare. What has been fancied a noose is only the former outline
of the horse's foot and limb, uneffaced.

The engraved line is therefore to be conclusive; not experimental. "I
have determined this," says the engraver. Much excellent pen drawing is
excellent in being tentative,--in being experimental. Indeterminate, not
through want of meaning, but through fullness of it--halting _wisely_
between two opinions--feeling cautiously after clearer opinions. But
your engraver has made up his opinion. This is so, and must forever be
so, he tells you. A very proper thing for a thoughtful man to say; a
very improper and impertinent thing for a foolish one to say. Foolish
engraving is consummately foolish work. Look,--all the world,--look for
evermore, says the foolish engraver; see what a fool I have been! How
many lines I have laid for nothing! How many lines upon lines, with no
precept, much less superprecept!

38. Here, then, are two definite ethical characters in all engraved
work. It is Athletic; and it is Resolute. Add one more; that it is
Obedient;--in their infancy the nurse, but in their youth the slave, of
the higher arts; servile, both in the mechanism and labor of it, and in
its function of interpreting the schools of painting as superior to

And this relation to the higher arts we will study at the source of
chief power in all the normal skill of Christendom, Florence; and
chiefly, as I said, in the work of one Florentine master, Sandro


[A] "Inaugural Series," "Aratra Pentelici," and "Eagle's Nest."

[B] My inaugural series of seven lectures (now published uniform in size
with this edition. 1890).

[C] Compare Inaugural Lectures, § 144.

                         LECTURE II.


39. From what was laid before you in my last lecture, you must now be
aware that I do not mean, by the word 'engraving,' merely the separate
art of producing plates from which black pictures may be printed.

I mean, by engraving, the art of producing decoration on a surface by
the touches of a chisel or a burin; and I mean by its relation to other
arts, the subordinate service of this linear work, in sculpture, in
metal work, and in painting; or in the representation and repetition of

And first, therefore, I have to map out the broad relations of the arts
of sculpture, metal work, and painting, in Florence, among themselves,
during the period in which the art of engraving was distinctly connected
with them.[D]

40. You will find, or may remember, that in my lecture on Michael Angelo
and Tintoret I indicated the singular importance, in the history of art,
of a space of forty years, between 1480, and the year in which Raphael
died, 1520. Within that space of time the change was completed, from the
principles of ancient, to those of existing, art;--a manifold change,
not definable in brief terms, but most clearly characterized, and easily
remembered, as the change of conscientious and didactic art, into that
which proposes to itself no duty beyond technical skill, and no object
but the pleasure of the beholder. Of that momentous change itself I do
not purpose to speak in the present course of lectures; but my endeavor
will be to lay before you a rough chart of the course of the arts in
Florence up to the time when it took place; a chart indicating for you,
definitely, the growth of conscience, in work which is distinctively
conscientious, and the perfecting of expression and means of popular
address, in that which is distinctively didactic.

41. Means of popular address, observe, which have become singularly
important to us at this day. Nevertheless, remember that the power of
printing, or reprinting, black _pictures_,--practically contemporary
with that of reprinting black _letters_,--modified the art of the
draughtsman only as it modified that of the scribe. Beautiful and unique
writing, as beautiful and unique painting or engraving, remain exactly
what they were; but other useful and reproductive methods of both have
been superadded. Of these, it is acutely said by Dr. Alfred

     "A far more important part is played in the art-life of Germany
     by the technical arts for the _multiplying_ of works; for
     Germany, while it was the land of book-printing, is also the
     land of picture-printing. Indeed, wood-engraving, which
     preceded the invention of book-printing, _prepared the way for
     it, and only left one step more necessary for it_.
     _Book-printing_ and _picture-printing_ have both the same inner
     cause for their origin, namely, the impulse to make each mental
     gain a common blessing. Not merely princes and rich nobles were
     to have the privilege of adorning their private chapels and
     apartments with beautiful religious pictures; the poorest man
     was also to have his delight in that which the artist had
     devised and produced. It was not sufficient for him when it
     stood in the church as an altar-shrine, visible to him and to
     the congregation from afar; he desired to have it as his own,
     to carry it about with him, to bring it into his own home. The
     grand importance of wood-engraving and copperplate is not
     sufficiently estimated in historical investigations. They were
     not alone of use in the advance of art; they form an epoch in
     the entire life of mind and culture. The idea embodied and
     multiplied in pictures became like that embodied in the printed
     word, the herald of every intellectual movement, and conquered
     the world."

42. "Conquered the world"? The rest of the sentence is true, but this,
hyperbolic, and greatly false. It should have been said that both
painting and engraving have conquered much of the good in the world,
and, hitherto, little or none of the evil.

Nor do I hold it usually an advantage to art, in teaching, that it
_should_ be common, or constantly seen. In becoming intelligibly and
kindly beautiful, while it remains solitary and unrivaled, it has a
greater power. Westminster Abbey is more didactic to the English nation,
than a million of popular illustrated treatises on architecture.

Nay, even that it cannot be understood but with some difficulty, and
must be sought before it can be seen, is no harm. The noblest didactic
art is, as it were, set on a hill, and its disciples come to it. The
vilest destructive and corrosive art stands at the street corners,
crying, "Turn in hither; come, eat of my bread, and drink of my wine,
which I have mingled."

And Dr. Woltmann has allowed himself too easily to fall into the common
notion of Liberalism, that bad art, disseminated, is instructive, and
good art isolated, not so. The question is, first, I assure you, whether
what art you have got is good or bad. If essentially bad, the more you
see of it, the worse for you. Entirely popular art is all that is noble,
in the cathedral, the council chamber, and the market-place; not the
paltry colored print pinned on the wall of a private room.

43. I despise the poor!--do I, think you? Not so. They only despise the
poor who think them better off with police news, and colored tracts of
the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, than they were with Luini
painting on their church walls, and Donatello carving the pillars of
their market-places.

Nevertheless, the effort to be universally, instead of locally,
didactic, modified advantageously, as you know, and in a thousand ways
varied, the earlier art of engraving: and the development of its popular
power, whether for good or evil, came exactly--so fate appointed--at a
time when the minds of the masses were agitated by the struggle which
closed in the Reformation in some countries, and in the desperate
refusal of Reformation in others.[F] The two greatest masters of
engraving whose lives we are to study, were, both of them, passionate
reformers: Holbein no less than Luther; Botticelli no less than

44. Reformers, I mean, in the full and, accurately, the only, sense. Not
preachers of new doctrines; but witnesses against the betrayal of the
old ones, which were on the lips of all men, and in the lives of none.
Nay, the painters are indeed more pure reformers than the priests. They
rebuked the manifest vices of men, while they realized whatever was
loveliest in their faith. Priestly reform soon enraged itself into mere
contest for personal opinions; while, without rage, but in stern rebuke
of all that was vile in conduct or thought,--in declaration of the
always-received faiths of the Christian Church, and in warning of the
power of faith, and death,[G] over the petty designs of men,--Botticelli
and Holbein together fought foremost in the ranks of the Reformation.

45. To-day I will endeavor to explain how they attained such rank. Then,
in the next two lectures, the technics of both,--their way of speaking;
and in the last two, what they had got to say.

First, then, we ask how they attained this rank;--who taught _them_ what
they were finally best to teach? How far must every people--how far did
this Florentine people--teach its masters, before _they_ could teach

Even in these days, when every man is, by hypothesis, as good as
another, does not the question sound strange to you? You recognize in
the past, as you think, clearly, that national advance takes place
always under the guidance of masters, or groups of masters, possessed of
what appears to be some new personal sensibility or gift of invention;
and we are apt to be reverent to these alone, as if the nation itself
had been unprogressive, and suddenly awakened, or converted, by the
genius of one man.

No idea can be more superficial. Every nation must teach its tutors, and
prepare itself to receive them; but the fact on which our impression is
founded--the rising, apparently by chance, of men whose singular gifts
suddenly melt the multitude, already at the point of fusion; or suddenly
form, and _in_form, the multitude which has gained coherence enough to
be capable of formation,--enables us to measure and map the gain of
national intellectual territory, by tracing first the lifting of the
mountain chains of its genius.

46. I have told you that we have nothing to do at present with the great
transition from ancient to modern habits of thought which took place at
the beginning of the sixteenth century. I only want to go as far as that
point;--where we shall find the old superstitious art represented
_finally_ by Perugino, and the modern scientific and anatomical art
represented _primarily_ by Michael Angelo. And the epithet bestowed on
Perugino by Michael Angelo, 'goffo nell' arte,' dunce, or blockhead, in
art,--being, as far as my knowledge of history extends, the most cruel,
the most false, and the most foolish insult ever offered by one great
man to another,--does you at least good service, in showing how
trenchant the separation is between the two orders of artists,[H]--how
exclusively we may follow out the history of all the 'goffi nell' arte,'
and write our Florentine Dunciad, and Laus Stultitiæ, in peace; and
never trench upon the thoughts or ways of these proud ones, who showed
their fathers' nakedness, and snatched their masters' fame.

47. The Florentine dunces in art are a multitude; but I only want you to
know something about twenty of them.

Twenty!--you think that a grievous number? It may, perhaps, appease
you a little to be told that when you really have learned a very little,
accurately, about these twenty dunces, there are only five more men
among the artists of Christendom whose works I shall ask you to examine
while you are under my care. That makes twenty-five altogether,--an
exorbitant demand on your attention, you still think? And yet, but a
little while ago, you were all agog to get me to go and look at Mrs. A's
sketches, and tell you what was to be thought about _them_; and I've had
the greatest difficulty to keep Mrs. B's photographs from being shown
side by side with the Raphael drawings in the University galleries. And
you will waste any quantity of time in looking at Mrs. A's sketches or
Mrs. B's photographs; and yet you look grave, because, out of nineteen
centuries of European art-labor and thought, I ask you to learn
something seriously about the works of five-and-twenty men!

48. It is hard upon you, doubtless, considering the quantity of time you
must nowadays spend in trying which can hit balls farthest. So I will
put the task into the simplest form I can.

                  1200                1300                1400
                   |        1250       |        1350       |
                   +         +         +         +         +
    Niccola Pisano |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | |
                 Arnolfo |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | |
                   Cimabue |-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | |
             Giovanni Pisano |-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | |
                   Andrea Pisano |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | |
                          Giotto |-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | |
                                 Orcagna |-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | |

                  1400                1500                1600
                   |        1450       |        1550       |
                   +         +         +         +         +
     Quercia |-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
Brunelleschi |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
      Ghiberti |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
     Donatello |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | | |
 Luca della Robbia |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | |
       Filippo Lippi |-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | | | |
      Giovanni Bellini |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | |
                Mantegna |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | |
              Verrocchio |-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | | | | |
                  Perugino |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | |
                  Botticelli |-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | |
                           Luini |-|-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | |
                           Dürer |-|-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | | |
                              Cima |-|-|-|-| | | | | | | | |
                           Carpaccio |-|-|-|-| | | | | | | |
                           Correggio |-|-|-|-|-| | | | | | |
                               Holbein |-|-|-|-|-| | | | | |
                                Tintoret |-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|

Here are the names of the twenty-five men,[I] and opposite each, a line
indicating the length of his life, and the position of it in his
century. The diagram still, however, needs a few words of explanation.
Very chiefly, for those who know anything of my writings, there is
needed explanation of its not including the names of Titian, Reynolds,
Velasquez, Turner, and other such men, always reverently put before you
at other times.

They are absent, because I have no fear of your not looking at these.
All your lives through, if you care about art, you will be looking at
them. But while you are here at Oxford, I want to make you learn what
you should know of these earlier, many of them weaker, men, who yet, for
the very reason of their greater simplicity of power, are better guides
for you, and of whom some will remain guides to all generations. And,
as regards the subject of our present course, I have a still more
weighty reason;--Vandyke, Gainsborough, Titian, Reynolds, Velasquez, and
the rest, are essentially portrait painters. They give you the likeness
of a man: they have nothing to say either about his future life, or his
gods. 'That is the look of him,' they say: 'here, on earth, we know no

49. But these, whose names I have engraved, have something to
say--generally much,--either about the future life of man, or about his
gods. They are therefore, literally, seers or prophets. False prophets,
it may be, or foolish ones; of that you must judge; but you must read
before you can judge; and read (or hear) them consistently; for you
don't know them till you have heard them out. But with Sir Joshua, or
Titian, one portrait is as another: it is here a pretty lady, there a
great lord; but speechless, all;--whereas, with these twenty-five men,
each picture or statue is not merely another person of a pleasant
society, but another chapter of a Sibylline book.

50. For this reason, then, I do not want Sir Joshua or Velasquez in my
defined group; and for my present purpose, I can spare from it even four
others:--namely, three who have _too_ special gifts, and must each be
separately studied--Correggio, Carpaccio, Tintoret;--and one who has no
special gift, but a balanced group of many--Cima. This leaves twenty-one
for classification, of whom I will ask you to lay hold thus. You must
continually have felt the difficulty caused by the names of centuries
not tallying with their years;--the year 1201 being the first of the
thirteenth century, and so on. I am always plagued by it myself, much as
I have to think and write with reference to chronology; and I mean for
the future, in our art chronology, to use as far as possible a different
form of notation.

51. In my diagram the vertical lines are the divisions of tens of years;
the thick black lines divide the centuries. The horizontal lines, then,
at a glance, tell you the length and date of each artist's life. In one
or two instances I cannot find the date of birth; in one or two more,
of death; and the line indicates then only the ascertained[J] period
during which the artist worked.

And, thus represented, you see nearly all their lives run through the
year of a new century; so that if the lines representing them were
needles, and the black bars of the years 1300, 1400, 1500 were magnets,
I could take up nearly all the needles by lifting the bars.

52. I will actually do this, then, in three other simple diagrams. I
place a rod for the year 1300 over the lines of life, and I take up all
it touches. I have to drop Niccola Pisano, but I catch five. Now, with
my rod of 1400, I have dropped Orcagna indeed, but I again catch five.
Now, with my rod of 1500, I indeed drop Filippo Lippi and Verrocchio,
but I catch seven. And here I have three pennons, with the staves of the
years 1300, 1400, and 1500 running through them,--holding the names of
nearly all the men I want you to study in easily remembered groups of
five, five, and seven. And these three groups I shall hereafter call the
1300 group, 1400 group, and 1500 group.

1240-1302 Cimabue            +-+-+-+-+-+-+
1250-1321 Giovanni Pisano      +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
1232-1310 ARNOLFO           -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
1270-1345 Andrea Pisano            +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1276-1336 Giotto                     +-+-+-+-+-+

1374-1438 Quercia        -+-+-+-+-+-+-+
1381-1455 Ghiberti        +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1377-1446 BRUNELLESCHI    +-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1386-1468 Donatello         +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1400-1481 Luca                +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

1431-1506 Mantegna         -+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1457-1515 Botticelli            +-+-+-+-+-+-
1426-1516 Bellini         +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1446-1524 PERUGINO            +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
1470-1535 Luini                   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-
1471-1527 Dürer                    -+-+-+-+-+-
1498-1543 Holbein                       +-+-+-+-+

53. But why should four unfortunate masters be dropped out?

Well, I want to drop them out, at any rate; but not in disrespect. In
hope, on the contrary, to make you remember them very separately
indeed;--for this following reason.

We are in the careless habit of speaking of men who form a great number
of pupils, and have a host of inferior satellites round them, as masters
of great schools.

But before you call a man a master, you should ask, Are his pupils
greater or less than himself? If they are greater than himself, he is a
master indeed;--he has been a true teacher. But if all his pupils are
less than himself, he may have been a great _man_, but in all
probability has been a bad _master_, or no master.

Now these men, whom I have signally left out of my groups, are true

Niccola Pisano taught all Italy; but chiefly his own son, who succeeded,
and in some things very much surpassed him.

Orcagna taught all Italy, after him, down to Michael Angelo. And these
two--Lippi, the religious schools, Verrocchio, the artist schools, of
their century.

Lippi taught Sandro Botticelli; and Verrocchio taught Lionardo da Vinci,
Lorenzo di Credi, and Perugino. Have I not good reason to separate the
masters of such pupils from the schools they created?

54. But how is it that I can drop just the cards I want out of my pack?

Well, certainly I force and fit matters a little: I leave some men out
of my list whom I should like to have in it;--Benozzo Gozzoli, for
instance, and Mino da Fiesole; but I can do without them, and so can you
also, for the present. I catch Luca by a hair's-breadth only, with my
1400 rod; but on the whole, with very little coaxing, I get the groups
in this memorable and quite literally 'handy' form. For see, I write my
lists of five, five, and seven, on bits of pasteboard; I hinge my rods
to these; and you can brandish the school of 1400 in your left hand, and
of 1500 in your right, like--railway signals;--and I wish all railway
signals were as clear. Once learn, thoroughly, the groups in this
artificially contracted form, and you can refine and complete afterwards
at your leisure.

55. And thus actually flourishing my two pennons, and getting my grip of
the men, in either hand, I find a notable thing concerning my two flags.
The men whose names I hold in my left hand are all sculptors; the men
whose names I hold in my right are all painters.

You will infallibly suspect me of having chosen them thus on purpose.
No, honor bright!--I chose simply the greatest men,--those I wanted to
talk to you about. I arranged them by their dates; I put them into three
conclusive pennons; and behold what follows!

56. Farther, note this: in the 1300 group, four out of the five men are
architects as well as sculptors and painters. In the 1400 group, there
is one architect; in the 1500, none. And the meaning of that is, that in
1300 the arts were all united, and duly led by architecture; in 1400,
sculpture began to assume too separate a power to herself; in 1500,
painting arrogated all, and, at last, betrayed all. From which, with
much other collateral evidence, you may justly conclude that the three
arts ought to be practiced together, and that they naturally are so. I
long since asserted that no man could be an architect who was not a
sculptor. As I learned more and more of my business, I perceived also
that no man could be a sculptor who was not an architect;--that is to
say, who had not knowledge enough, and pleasure enough in structural
law, to be able to build, on occasion, better than a mere builder. And
so, finally, I now positively aver to you that nobody, in the graphic
arts, can be quite rightly a master of anything, who is not master of

57. The junction of the three arts in men's minds, at the best times, is
shortly signified in these words of Chaucer. Love's Garden,

    Enclosed was, and walled well
    With high walls, embatailled,
    Portrayed without, and well entayled
    With many rich portraitures.

The French original is better still, and gives four arts in unison:--

    Quant suis avant un pou alé
    Et vy un vergier grant et le,
    Bien cloz de bon mur batillié
    Pourtrait dehors, et entaillié
    Ou (for au) maintes riches escriptures.

Read also carefully the description of the temples of Mars and Venus in
the Knight's Tale. Contemporary French uses 'entaille' even of solid
sculpture and of the living form; and Pygmalion, as a perfect master,
professes wood carving, ivory carving, waxwork, and iron-work, no less
than stone sculpture:--

    Pimalion, uns entaillieres
    Pourtraians en fuz[K] et en pierres,
    En mettaux, en os, et en cire,
    Et en toute autre matire.

58. I made a little sketch, when last in Florence, of a subject which
will fix the idea of this unity of the arts in your minds. At the base
of the tower of Giotto are two rows of hexagonal panels, filled with
bas-reliefs. Some of these are by unknown hands,--some by Andrea Pisano,
some by Luca della Robbia, two by Giotto himself; of these I sketched
the panel representing the art of Painting.

You have in that bas-relief one of the foundation-stones of the most
perfectly built tower in Europe; you have that stone carved by its
architect's own hand; you find, further, that this architect and
sculptor was the greatest painter of his time, and the friend of the
greatest poet; and you have represented by him a painter in his
shop,--bottega,--as symbolic of the entire art of painting.

59. In which representation, please note how carefully Giotto shows you
the tabernacles or niches, in which the paintings are to be placed. Not
independent of their frames, these panels of his, you see!

Have you ever considered, in the early history of painting, how
important also is the history of the frame maker? It is a matter, I
assure you, needing your very best consideration. For the frame was made
before the picture. The painted window is much, but the aperture it
fills was thought of before it. The fresco by Giotto is much, but the
vault it adorns was planned first. Who thought of these;--who built?

Questions taking us far back before the birth of the shepherd boy of
Fésole--questions not to be answered by history of painting only, still
less of painting in _Italy_ only.

60. And in pointing out to you this fact, I may once for all prove to
you the essential unity of the arts, and show you how impossible it is
to understand one without reference to another. Which I wish you to
observe all the more closely, that you may use, without danger of being
misled, the data, of unequaled value, which have been collected by Crowe
and Cavalcaselle, in the book which they have called a History of
Painting in Italy, but which is in fact only a dictionary of details
relating to that history. Such a title is an absurdity on the face of
it. For, first, you can no more write the history of painting in Italy
than you can write the history of the south wind in Italy. The sirocco
does indeed produce certain effects at Genoa, and others at Rome; but
what would be the value of a treatise upon the winds, which, for the
honor of any country, assumed that every city of it had a native

But, further,--imagine what success would attend the meteorologist who
should set himself to give an account of the south wind, but take no
notice of the north!

And, finally, suppose an attempt to give you an account of either wind,
but none of the seas, or mountain passes, by which they were nourished,
or directed.

61. For instance, I am in this course of lectures to give you an account
of a single and minor branch of graphic art,--engraving. But observe how
many references to local circumstances it involves. There are three
materials for it, we said;--stone, wood, and metal. Stone engraving is
the art of countries possessing marble and gems; wood engraving, of
countries overgrown with forest; metal engraving, of countries
possessing treasures of silver and gold. And the style of a stone
engraver is formed on pillars and pyramids; the style of a wood engraver
under the eaves of larch cottages; the style of a metal engraver in the
treasuries of kings. Do you suppose I could rightly explain to you the
value of a single touch on brass by Finiguerra, or on box by Bewick,
unless I had grasp of the great laws of climate and country; and could
trace the inherited sirocco or tramontana of thought to which the souls
and bodies of the men owed their existence?

62. You see that in this flag of 1300 there is a dark strong line in the
center, against which you read the name of Arnolfo.

In writing our Florentine Dunciad, or History of Fools, can we possibly
begin with a better day than All Fools' Day? On All Fools' Day--the
first, if you like better so to call it, of the month of _opening_,--in
the year 1300, is signed the document making Arnolfo a citizen of
Florence, and in 1310 he dies, chief master of the works of the
cathedral there. To this man, Crowe and Cavalcaselle give half a page,
out of three volumes of five hundred pages each.

But lower down in my flag, (not put there because of any inferiority,
but by order of chronology,) you will see a name sufficiently familiar
to you--that of Giotto; and to him, our historians of painting in Italy
give some hundred pages, under the impression, stated by them at page
243 of their volume, that "in his hands, art in the Peninsula became
entitled for the first time to the name of Italian."

63. Art became Italian! Yes, but _what_ art? Your authors give a
perspective--or what they call such,--of the upper church of Assisi, as
if that were merely an accidental occurrence of blind walls for Giotto
to paint on!

But how came the upper church of Assisi there? How came it to be
vaulted--to be aisled? How came Giotto to be asked to paint upon it?

The art that built it, good or bad, must have been an Italian one,
before Giotto. He could not have painted on the air. Let us see how his
panels were made for him.

64. This Captain--the center of our first group--Arnolfo, has always
hitherto been called 'Arnolfo di Lapo;'--Arnolfo the son of Lapo.

Modern investigators come down on us delightedly, to tell us--Arnolfo
was _not_ the son of Lapo.

In these days you will have half a dozen doctors, writing each a long
book, and the sense of all will be,--Arnolfo wasn't the son of Lapo.
Much good may you get of that!

Well, you will find the fact to be, there was a great Northman builder, a
true son of Thor, who came down into Italy in 1200, served the order of
St. Francis there, built Assisi, taught Arnolfo how to build, with Thor's
hammer, and disappeared, leaving his name uncertain--Jacopo--Lapo--nobody
knows what. Arnolfo always recognizes this man as his true father, who put
the soul-life into him; he is known to his Florentines always as Lapo's

That, or some likeness of that, is the vital fact. You never can get at
the literal limitation of living facts. They disguise themselves by the
very strength of their life: get told again and again in different ways
by all manner of people;--the literalness of them is turned topsy-turvy,
inside-out, over and over again;--then the fools come and read them
wrong side upwards, or else, say there never was a fact at all. Nothing
delights a true blockhead so much as to prove a negative;--to show that
everybody has been wrong. Fancy the delicious sensation, to an
empty-headed creature, of fancying for a moment that he has emptied
everybody else's head as well as his own! nay, that, for once, his own
hollow bottle of a head has had the best of other bottles, and has been
_first_ empty;--first to know--nothing.

65. Hold, then, steadily the first tradition about this Arnolfo. That
his real father was called "Cambio" matters to you not a straw. That he
never called himself Cambio's Arnolfo--that nobody else ever called him
so, down to Vasari's time, is an infinitely significant fact to you. In
my twenty-second letter in Fors Clavigera you will find some account of
the noble habit of the Italian artists to call themselves by their
masters' names, considering their master as their true father. If not
the name of the master, they take that of their native place, as having
owed the character of their life to that. They rarely take their own
family name: sometimes it is not even known,--when best known, it is
unfamiliar to us. The great Pisan artists, for instance, never bear any
other name than 'the Pisan;' among the other five-and-twenty names in my
list, not above six, I think, the two German, with four Italian, are
family names. Perugino, (Peter of Perugia,) Luini, (Bernard of Luino,)
Quercia, (James of Quercia,) Correggio, (Anthony of Correggio,) are
named from their native places. Nobody would have understood me if I had
called Giotto, 'Ambrose Bondone;' or Tintoret, Robusti; or even Raphael,
Sanzio. Botticelli is named from his master; Ghiberti from his
father-in-law; and Ghirlandajo from his work. Orcagna, who _did_, for a
wonder, name himself from his father, Andrea Cione, of Florence, has
been always called 'Angel' by everybody else; while Arnolfo, who never
named himself from his father, is now like to be fathered against his

But, I again beg of you, keep to the old story. For it represents,
however inaccurately in detail, clearly in sum, the fact, that some
great master of German Gothic at this time came down into Italy, and
changed the entire form of Italian architecture by his touch. So that
while Niccola and Giovanni Pisano are still virtually Greek artists,
experimentally introducing Gothic forms, Arnolfo and Giotto adopt the
entire Gothic ideal of form, and thenceforward use the pointed arch and
steep gable as the limits of sculpture.

66. Hitherto I have been speaking of the relations of my twenty-five men
to each other. But now, please note their relations altogether to the
art before them. These twenty-five include, I say, all the great masters
of _Christian_ art.

Before them, the art was too savage to be Christian; afterwards, too
carnal to be Christian.

Too savage to be Christian? I will justify that assertion hereafter; but
you will find that the European art of 1200 includes all the most
developed and characteristic conditions of the style in the north which
you have probably been accustomed to think of as NORMAN, and which you
may always most conveniently call so; and the most developed conditions
of the style in the south, which, formed out of effete Greek, Persian,
and Roman tradition, you may, in like manner, most conveniently express
by the familiar word BYZANTINE. Whatever you call them, they are in
origin adverse in temper, and remain so up to the year 1200. Then an
influence appears, seemingly that of one man, Nicholas the Pisan, (our
first MASTER, observe,) and a new spirit adopts what is best in each,
and gives to what it adopts a new energy of its own; namely, this
conscientious and didactic power which is the speciality of its
progressive existence. And just as the new-born and natural art of
Athens collects and reanimates Pelasgian and Egyptian tradition,
purifying their worship, and perfecting their work, into the living
heathen faith of the world, so this new-born and natural art of Florence
collects and animates the Norman and Byzantine tradition, and forms out
of the perfected worship and work of both, the honest Christian faith,
and vital craftsmanship, of the world.

67. Get this first summary, therefore, well into your minds. The word
'Norman' I use roughly for North-savage;--roughly, but advisedly. I mean
Lombard, Scandinavian, Frankish; everything north-savage that you can
think of, except Saxon. (I have a reason for that exception; never mind
it just now.)[L]

All north-savage I call NORMAN, all south-savage I call BYZANTINE; this
latter including dead native Greek primarily--then dead foreign Greek,
in Rome;--then Arabian--Persian--Phoenician--Indian--all you can think
of, in art of hot countries, up to this year 1200, I rank under the one
term Byzantine. Now all this cold art--Norman, and all this hot
art--Byzantine, is virtually dead, till 1200. It has no conscience, no
didactic power;[M] it is devoid of both, in the sense that dreams are.

Then in the thirteenth century, men wake as if they heard an alarum
through the whole vault of heaven, and true human life begins again, and
the cradle of this life is the Val d'Arno. There the northern and
southern nations meet; there they lay down their enmities; there they
are first baptized unto John's baptism for the remission of sins; there
is born, and thence exiled,--thought faithless, for breaking the font of
baptism to save a child from drowning, in his 'bel San Giovanni,'--the
greatest of Christian poets; he who had pity even for the lost.

68. Now, therefore, my whole history of _Christian_ architecture and
painting begins with this Baptistery of Florence, and with its
associated Cathedral. Arnolfo brought the one into the form in which you
now see it; he laid the foundation of the other, and that to purpose,
and he is therefore the CAPTAIN of our first school.

For this Florentine Baptistery[N] is the great one of the world. Here is
the center of Christian knowledge and power.

And it is one piece of large _engraving_. White substance, cut into, and
filled with black, and dark-green.

No more perfect work was afterwards done; and I wish you to grasp the
idea of this building clearly and irrevocably,--first, in order (as I
told you in a previous lecture) to quit yourselves thoroughly of the
idea that ornament should be decorated construction; and, secondly, as
the noblest type of the intaglio ornamentation, which developed itself
into all minor application of black and white to engraving.

69. That it should do so first at Florence, was the natural sequence,
and the just reward, of the ancient skill of Etruria in chased
metal-work. The effects produced in gold, either by embossing or
engraving, were the direct means of giving interest to his surfaces at
the command of the 'auri faber,' or orfevre: and every conceivable
artifice of studding, chiseling, and interlacing was exhausted by the
artists in gold, who were at the head of the metal-workers, and from
whom the ranks of the sculptors were reinforced.

The old French word 'orfroiz,' (aurifrigia,) expresses essentially what
we call 'frosted' work in gold; that which resembles small dew or
crystals of hoar-frost; the 'frigia' coming from the Latin frigus. To
chase, or enchase, is not properly said of the gold; but of the jewel
which it secures with hoops or ridges, (French, _en_chasser[O]). Then
the armorer, or cup and casket maker, added to this kind of decoration
that of flat inlaid enamel; and the silver-worker, finding that the
raised filigree (still a staple at Genoa) only attracted tarnish, or got
crushed, early sought to decorate a surface which would bear external
friction, with labyrinths of safe incision.

70. Of the _security_ of incision as a means of permanent decoration, as
opposed to ordinary carving, here is a beautiful instance in the base of
one of the external shafts of the Cathedral of Lucca; thirteenth-century
work, which by this time, had it been carved in relief, would have been
a shapeless remnant of indecipherable bosses. But it is still as safe as
if it had been cut yesterday, because the smooth round mass of the
pillar is entirely undisturbed; into that, furrows are cut with a chisel
as much under command and as powerful as a burin. The effect of the
design is trusted entirely to the depth of these incisions--here dying
out and expiring in the light of the marble, there deepened, by drill
holes, into as definitely a black line as if it were drawn with ink;
and describing the outline of the leafage with a delicacy of touch and
of perception which no man will ever surpass, and which very few have
rivaled, in the proudest days of design.

71. This security, in silver plates, was completed by filling the
furrows with the black paste which at once exhibited and preserved them.
The transition from that niello-work to modern engraving is one of no
real moment: my object is to make you understand the qualities which
constitute the _merit_ of the engraving, whether charged with niello or
ink. And this I hope ultimately to accomplish by studying with you some
of the works of the four men, Botticelli and Mantegna in the south,
Dürer and Holbein in the north, whose names I have put in our last flag,
above and beneath those of the three mighty painters, Perugino the
captain, Bellini on one side--Luini on the other.

The four following lectures[P] will contain data necessary for such
study: you must wait longer before I can place before you those by which
I can justify what must greatly surprise some of my audience--my having
given Perugino the captain's place among the three painters.

72. But I do so, at least primarily, because what is commonly thought
affected in his design is indeed the true remains of the great
architectural symmetry which was soon to be lost, and which makes him
the true follower of Arnolfo and Brunelleschi; and because he is a sound
craftsman and workman to the very heart's core. A noble, gracious, and
quiet laborer from youth to death,--never weary, never impatient, never
untender, never untrue. Not Tintoret in power, not Raphael in
flexibility, not Holbein in veracity, not Luini in love,--their gathered
gifts he has, in balanced and fruitful measure, fit to be the guide, and
impulse, and father of all.


[D] Compare "Aratra Pentelici," § 154.

[E] "Holbein and His Time," 4to, Bentley, 1872, (a very valuable book,)
p. 17. Italics mine.

[F] See Carlyle, "Frederick," Book III., chap. viii.

[G] I believe I am taking too much trouble in writing these lectures.
This sentence, § 44, has cost me, I suppose, first and last, about as
many hours as there are lines in it;--and my choice of these two words,
faith and death, as representatives of power, will perhaps, after all,
only puzzle the reader.

[H] He is said by Vasari to have called Francia the like. Francia is a
child compared to Perugino; but a finished working-goldsmith and
ornamental painter nevertheless; and one of the very last men to be
called 'goffo,' except by unparalleled insolence.

[I] The diagram used at the lecture is engraved on page 30; the reader
had better draw it larger for himself, as it had to be made
inconveniently small for this size of leaf.

[J] 'Ascertained,' scarcely any date ever is, quite satisfactorily. The
diagram only represents what is practically and broadly true. I may have
to modify it greatly in detail.

[K] For fust, log of wood, erroneously 'fer' in the later printed
editions. Compare the account of the works of Art and Nature, towards
the end of the Romance of the Rose.

[L] Of course it would have been impossible to express in any accurate
terms, short enough for the compass of a lecture, the conditions of
opposition between the Heptarchy and the Northmen;--between the
Byzantine and Roman;--and between the Byzantine and Arab, which form
minor, but not less trenchant, divisions of Art-province, for subsequent
delineation. If you can refer to my "Stones of Venice," see § 20 of its
first chapter.

[M] Again much too broad a statement: not to be qualified but by a
length of explanation here impossible. My lectures on Architecture, now
in preparation ("Val d'Arno"), will contain further detail.

[N] At the side of my page, here, I find the following memorandum, which
was expanded in the viva-voce lecture. The reader must make what he can
of it, for I can't expand it here.

_Sense_ of Italian Church plan.

Baptistery, to make Christians in; house, or dome, for them to pray and
be preached to in; bell-tower, to ring all over the town, when they were
either to pray together, rejoice together, or to be warned of danger.

Harvey's picture of the Covenanters, with a shepherd on the outlook, as
a campanile.

[O] And 'chassis,' a window frame, or tracery.

[P] This present lecture does not, as at present published, justify its
title; because I have not thought it necessary to write the viva-voce
portions of it which amplified the 69th paragraph. I will give the
substance of them in better form elsewhere; meantime the part of the
lecture here given may be in its own way useful.

                        LECTURE III.


73. I am to-day to begin to tell you what it is necessary you should
observe respecting methods of manual execution in the two great arts of
engraving. Only to _begin_ to tell you. There need be no end of telling
you such things, if you care to hear them. The theory of art is soon
mastered; but 'dal detto al fatto, v'e gran tratto;' and as I have
several times told you in former lectures, every day shows me more and
more the importance of the Hand.

74. Of the hand as a Servant, observe,--not of the hand as a Master. For
there are two great kinds of manual work: one in which the hand is
continually receiving and obeying orders; the other in which it is
acting independently, or even giving orders of its own. And the
dependent and submissive hand is a noble hand; but the independent or
imperative hand is a vile one.

That is to say, as long as the pen, or chisel, or other graphic
instrument, is moved under the direct influence of mental attention, and
obeys orders of the brain, it is working nobly;--the moment it moves
independently of them, and performs some habitual dexterity of its own,
it is base.

75. _Dexterity_--I say;--some 'right-handedness' of its own. We might
wisely keep that word for what the hand does at the mind's bidding; and
use an opposite word--sinisterity,--for what it does at its own. For
indeed we want such a word in speaking of modern art; it is all full of
sinisterity. Hands independent of brains;--the left hand, by division of
labor, not knowing what the right does,--still less what it ought to do.

76. Turning, then, to our special subject. All engraving, I said, is
intaglio in the solid. But the solid, in wood engraving, is a coarse
substance, easily cut; and in metal, a fine substance, not easily.
Therefore, in general, you may be prepared to accept ruder and more
elementary work in one than the other; and it will be the means of
appeal to blunter minds.

You probably already know the difference between the actual methods of
producing a printed impression from wood and metal; but I may perhaps
make the matter a little more clear. In metal engraving, you cut
ditches, fill them with ink, and press your paper into them. In wood
engraving, you leave ridges, rub the tops of them with ink, and stamp
them on your paper.

The instrument with which the substance, whether of the wood or steel,
is cut away, is the same. It is a solid plowshare, which, instead of
throwing the earth aside, throws it up and out, producing at first a
simple ravine, or furrow, in the wood or metal, which you can widen by
another cut, or extend by successive cuts. This (Fig. 1) is the general
shape of the solid plowshare: but it is of course made sharper or
blunter at pleasure. The furrow produced is at first the wedge-shaped or
cuneiform ravine, already so much dwelt upon in my lectures on Greek

[Illustration: FIG. 1]

77. Since, then, in wood printing, you print from the surface left
solid; and, in metal printing, from the hollows cut into it, it follows
that if you put few touches on wood, you draw, as on a slate, with white
lines, leaving a quantity of black; but if you put few touches on metal,
you draw with black lines, leaving a quantity of white.

Now the eye is not in the least offended by quantity of white, but is,
or ought to be, greatly saddened and offended by quantity of black.
Hence it follows that you must never put little work on wood. You must
not sketch upon it. You may sketch on metal as much as you please.

78. "Paradox," you will say, as usual. "Are not all our journals,--and
the best of them, Punch, par excellence,--full of the most brilliantly
swift and slight sketches, engraved on wood; while line-engravings take
ten years to produce, and cost ten guineas each when they are done?"

Yes, that is so; but observe, in the first place, what appears to you a
sketch on wood is not so at all, but a most laborious and careful
imitation of a sketch on paper; whereas when you see what appears to be
a sketch on metal, it _is_ one. And in the second place, so far as the
popular fashion is contrary to this natural method,--so far as we do in
reality try to produce effects of sketching in wood, and of finish in
metal,--our work is wrong.

Those apparently careless and free sketches on the wood ought to have
been stern and deliberate; those exquisitely toned and finished
engravings on metal ought to have looked, instead, like free ink
sketches on white paper. That is the theorem which I propose to you for
consideration, and which, in the two branches of its assertion, I hope
to prove to you; the first part of it, (that wood-cutting should be
careful,) in this present lecture; the second, (that metal-cutting
should be, at least in a far greater degree than it is now, slight, and
free,) in the following one.

79. Next, observe the distinction in respect of _thickness_, no less
than number, of lines which may properly be used in the two methods.

In metal engraving, it is easier to lay a fine line than a thick one;
and however fine the line may be, it lasts;--but in wood engraving it
requires extreme precision and skill to leave a thin dark line, and when
left, it will be quickly beaten down by a careless printer. Therefore,
the virtue of wood engraving is to exhibit the qualities and power of
_thick_ lines; and of metal engraving, to exhibit the qualities and
power of _thin_ ones.

All thin dark lines, therefore, in wood, broadly speaking, are to be
used only in case of necessity; and thick lines, on metal, only in case
of necessity.

80. Though, however, thin _dark_ lines cannot easily be produced in
wood, thin _light_ ones may be struck in an instant. Nevertheless, even
thin light ones must not be used, except with extreme caution. For
observe, they are equally useless as outline, and for expression of
mass. You know how far from exemplary or delightful your boy's first
quite voluntary exercises in white line drawing on your slate were? You
could, indeed, draw a goblin satisfactorily in such method;--a round O,
with arms and legs to it, and a scratch under two dots in the middle,
would answer the purpose; but if you wanted to draw a pretty face, you
took pencil or pen, and paper--not your slate. Now, that instinctive
feeling that a white outline is wrong, is deeply founded. For Nature
herself draws with diffused light, and concentrated dark;--never, except
in storm or twilight, with diffused dark, and concentrated light; and
the thing we all like best to see drawn--the human face--cannot be drawn
with white touches, but by extreme labor. For the pupil and iris of the
eye, the eyebrow, the nostril, and the lip are all set in dark on pale
ground. You can't draw a white eyebrow, a white pupil of the eye, a
white nostril, and a white mouth, on a dark ground. Try it, and see what
a specter you get. But the same number of dark touches, skillfully
applied, will give the idea of a beautiful face. And what is true of the
subtlest subject you have to represent, is equally true of inferior
ones. Nothing lovely can be quickly represented by white touches. You
must hew out, if your means are so restricted, the form by sheer labor;
and that both cunning and dextrous. The Florentine masters, and Dürer,
often practice the achievement, and there are many drawings by the
Lippis, Mantegna, and other leading Italian draughtsmen, completed to
great perfection with the white line; but only for the sake of severest
study, nor is their work imitable by inferior men. And such studies,
however accomplished, always mark a disposition to regard chiaroscuro
too much, and local color too little.

We conclude, then, that we must never trust, in wood, to our power of
outline with white; and our general laws, thus far determined, will
be--thick lines in wood; thin ones in metal; complete drawing on wood;
sketches, if we choose, on metal.

81. But why, in wood, lines at all? Why not cut out white _spaces_, and
use the chisel as if its incisions were so much white paint? Many fine
pieces of wood-cutting are indeed executed on this principle. Bewick
does nearly all his foliage so; and continually paints the light plumes
of his birds with single touches of his chisel, as if he were laying on

But this is not the finest method of wood-cutting. It implies the idea
of a system of light and shade in which the shadow is totally black.
Now, no light and shade can be good, much less pleasant, in which all
the shade is stark black. Therefore the finest wood-cutting ignores
light and shade, and expresses only form, and _dark local color_. And it
is convenient, for simplicity's sake, to anticipate what I should
otherwise defer telling you until next lecture, that fine metal
engraving, like fine wood-cutting, ignores light and shade; and that, in
a word, all good engraving whatsoever does so.

82. I hope that my saying so will make you eager to interrupt me. 'What!
Rembrandt's etchings, and Lupton's mezzotints, and Le Keux's
line-work,--do you mean to tell us that these ignore light and shade?'

I never said that _mezzotint_ ignored light and shade, or ought to do
so. Mezzotint is properly to be considered as chiaroscuro drawing on
metal. But I do mean to tell you that both Rembrandt's etchings, and Le
Keux's finished line-work, are misapplied labor, in so far as they
regard chiaroscuro; and that consummate engraving never uses it as a
primal element of pleasure.

[Illustration: THE LAST FURROW.

(Fig. 2) Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.]

83. We have now got our principles so far defined that I can proceed to
illustration of them by example.

Here are facsimiles, very marvelous ones,[Q] of two of the best wood
engravings ever produced by art,--two subjects in Holbein's Dance of
Death. You will probably like best that I should at once proceed to
verify my last and most startling statement, that fine engraving
disdained chiaroscuro.

This vignette (Fig. 2) represents a sunset in the open mountainous
fields of southern Germany. And Holbein is so entirely careless about
the light and shade, which a Dutchman would first have thought of, as
resulting from the sunset, that, as he works, he forgets altogether
where his light comes from. Here, actually, the shadow of the figure is
cast from the side, right across the picture, while the sun is in front.
And there is not the slightest attempt to indicate gradation of light in
the sky, darkness in the forest, or any other positive element of

This is not because Holbein cannot give chiaroscuro if he chooses. He is
twenty times a stronger master of it than Rembrandt; but he, therefore,
knows exactly when and how to use it; and that wood engraving is not the
proper means for it. The quantity of it which is needful for his story,
and will not, by any sensational violence, either divert, or vulgarly
enforce, the attention, he will give; and that with an unrivaled
subtlety. Therefore I must ask you for a moment or two to quit the
subject of technics, and look what these two woodcuts mean.

84. The one I have first shown you is of a plowman plowing at evening.
It is Holbein's object, here, to express the diffused and intense light
of a golden summer sunset, so far as is consistent with grander
purposes. A modern French or English chiaroscurist would have covered
his sky with fleecy clouds, and relieved the plowman's hat and his
horses against it in strong black, and put sparkling touches on the
furrows and grass. Holbein scornfully casts all such tricks aside; and
draws the whole scene in pure white, with simple outlines.

[Illustration: THE TWO PREACHERS.

(Fig. 3) Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.]

85. And yet, when I put it beside this second vignette, (Fig. 3,) which
is of a preacher preaching in a feebly lighted church, you will feel
that the diffused warmth of the one subject, and diffused twilight in
the other, are complete; and they will finally be to you more impressive
than if they had been wrought out with every superficial means of
effect, on each block.

For it is as a symbol, not as a scenic effect, that in each case the
chiaroscuro is given. Holbein, I said, is at the head of the
painter-reformers, and his Dance of Death is the most energetic and
telling of all the forms given, in this epoch, to the _Rationalist_
spirit of reform, preaching the new Gospel of Death,--"It is no matter
whether you are priest or layman, what you believe, or what you do: here
is the end." You shall see, in the course of our inquiry, that
Botticelli, in like manner, represents the _Faithful_ and _Catholic_
temper of reform.

86. The teaching of Holbein is therefore always melancholy,--for the
most part purely rational; and entirely furious in its indignation
against all who, either by actual injustice in this life, or by what he
holds to be false promise of another, destroy the good, or the energy,
of the few days which man has to live. Against the rich, the luxurious,
the Pharisee, the false lawyer, the priest, and the unjust judge,
Holbein uses his fiercest mockery; but he is never himself unjust; never
caricatures or equivocates; gives the facts as he knows them, with
explanatory symbols, few and clear.

87. Among the powers which he hates, the pathetic and ingenious
preaching of untruth is one of the chief; and it is curious to find his
biographer, knowing this, and reasoning, as German critics nearly always
do, from acquired knowledge, not perception, imagine instantly that he
sees hypocrisy in the face of Holbein's preacher. "How skillfully,"
says Dr. Woltmann, "is the preacher propounding his doctrines; how
thoroughly is his hypocrisy expressed in the features of his
countenance, and in the gestures of his hands." But look at the cut
yourself, candidly. I challenge you to find the slightest trace of
hypocrisy in either feature or gesture. Holbein knew better. It is not
the hypocrite who has power in the pulpit. It is the _sincere_ preacher
of untruth who does mischief there. The hypocrite's place of power is in
trade, or in general society; none but the sincere ever get fatal
influence in the pulpit. This man is a refined gentleman--ascetic,
earnest, thoughtful, and kind. He scarcely uses the vantage even of his
pulpit,--comes aside out of it, as an eager man would, pleading; he is
intent on being understood--_is_ understood; his congregation are
delighted--you might hear a pin drop among them: one is asleep indeed,
who cannot see him, (being under the pulpit,) and asleep just because
the teacher is as gentle as he is earnest, and speaks quietly.

88. How are we to know, then, that he speaks in vain? First, because
among all his hearers you will not find one shrewd face. They are all
either simple or stupid people: there is one nice woman in front of all,
(else Holbein's representation had been caricature,) but she is not a
shrewd one.

Secondly, by the light and shade. The church is not in extreme
darkness--far from that; a gray twilight is over everything, but the sun
is totally shut out of it;--not a ray comes in even at the
window--_that_ is darker than the walls, or vault.

Lastly, and chiefly, by the mocking expression of Death. Mocking, but
not angry. The man has been preaching what he thought true. Death laughs
at him, but is not indignant with him.

Death comes quietly: _I_ am going to be preacher now; here is your own
hour-glass, ready for me. You have spoken many words in your day. But
"of the things which you have spoken, _this_ is the sum,"--your
death-warrant, signed and sealed. There's your text for to-day.

89. Of this other picture, the meaning is more plain, and far more
beautiful. The husbandman is old and gaunt, and has passed his days, not
in speaking, but pressing the iron into the ground. And the payment for
his life's work is, that he is clothed in rags, and his feet are bare on
the clods; and he has no hat--but the brim of a hat only, and his long,
unkempt gray hair comes through. But all the air is full of warmth and
of peace; and, beyond his village church, there is, at last, light
indeed. His horses lag in the furrow, and his own limbs totter and fail:
but one comes to help him. 'It is a long field,' says Death; 'but we'll
get to the end of it to-day,--you and I.'

90. And now that we know the meaning, we are able to discuss the
technical qualities farther.

Both of these engravings, you will find, are executed with blunt lines;
but more than that, they are executed with quiet lines, entirely steady.

Now, here I have in my hand a lively woodcut of the present day--a good
average type of the modern style of wood-cutting, which you will all

The shade in this is drawn on the wood, (not _cut_, but drawn, observe,)
at the rate of at least ten lines in a second: Holbein's, at the rate of
about one line in three seconds.[S]

91. Now there are two different matters to be considered with respect to
these two opposed methods of execution. The first, that the rapid work,
though easy to the artist, is very difficult to the wood-cutter; so that
it implies instantly a separation between the two crafts, and that your
wood-cutter has ceased to be a draughtsman. I shall return to this
point. I wish to insist on the other first; namely, the effect of the
more deliberate method on the drawing itself.

92. When the hand moves at the rate of ten lines in a second, it is
indeed under the government of the muscles of the wrist and shoulder;
but it cannot possibly be under the complete government of the brains. I
am able to do this zigzag line evenly, because I have got the use of the
hand from practice; and the faster it is done, the evener it will be.
But I have no mental authority over every line I thus lay: chance
regulates them. Whereas, when I draw at the rate of two or three seconds
to each line, my hand disobeys the muscles a little--the mechanical
accuracy is not so great; nay, there ceases to be any _appearance_ of
dexterity at all. But there is, in reality, more manual skill required
in the slow work than in the swift,--and all the while the hand is
thoroughly under the orders of the brains. Holbein deliberately
resolves, for every line, as it goes along, that it shall be so thick,
so far from the next,--that it shall begin here, and stop there. And he
is deliberately assigning the utmost quantity of meaning to it, that a
line will carry.

93. It is not fair, however, to compare common work of one age with the
best of another. Here is a woodcut of Tenniel's, which I think contains
as high qualities as it is possible to find in modern art.[T] I hold it
as beyond others fine, because there is not the slightest caricature in
it. No face, no attitude, is pushed beyond the degree of natural humor
they would have possessed in life; and in precision of momentary
expression, the drawing is equal to the art of any time, and shows power
which would, if regulated, be quite adequate to producing an immortal

94. Why, then, is it _not_ immortal? You yourselves, in compliance with
whose demand it was done, forgot it the next week. It will become
historically interesting; but no man of true knowledge and feeling will
ever keep this in his cabinet of treasure, as he does these woodcuts of

The reason is that this is base coin,--alloyed gold. There _is_ gold in
it, but also a quantity of brass and lead--willfully added--to make it
fit for the public. Holbein's is beaten gold, seven times tried in the
fire. Of which commonplace but useful metaphor the meaning here is,
first, that to catch the vulgar eye a quantity of,--so-called,--light
and shade is added by Tenniel. It is effective to an ignorant eye, and
is ingeniously disposed; but it is entirely conventional and false,
unendurable by any person who knows what chiaroscuro is.

Secondly, for one line that Holbein lays, Tenniel has a dozen. There
are, for instance, a hundred and fifty-seven lines in Sir Peter Teazle's
wig, without counting dots and slight cross-hatching;--but the entire
face and flowing hair of Holbein's preacher are done with forty-five
lines, all told.

95. Now observe what a different state of mind the two artists must be
in on such conditions;--one, never in a hurry, never doing anything that
he knows is wrong; never doing a line badly that he can do better; and
appealing only to the feelings of sensitive persons, and the judgment of
attentive ones. That is Holbein's habit of soul. What is the habit of
soul of every modern engraver? Always in a hurry; everywhere doing
things which he knows to be wrong--(Tenniel knows his light and shade to
be wrong as well as I do)--continually doing things badly which he was
able to do better; and appealing exclusively to the feelings of the
dull, and the judgment of the inattentive.

Do you suppose that is not enough to make the difference between mortal
and immortal art,--the original genius being supposed alike in both?[U]

96. Thus far of the state of the artist himself. I pass, next to the
relation between him and his subordinate, the wood-cutter.

The modern artist requires him to cut a hundred and fifty-seven lines in
the wig only,--the old artist requires him to cut forty-five for the
face, and long hair, altogether. The actual proportion is roughly, and
on the average, about one to twenty of cost in manual labor, ancient to
modern,--the twentieth part of the mechanical labor, to produce an
immortal instead of a perishable work,--the twentieth part of the labor;
and--which is the greatest difference of all--that twentieth part, at
once less mechanically difficult, and more mentally pleasant. Mr. Otley,
in his general History of Engraving, says, "The greatest difficulty in
wood engraving occurs in clearing out the minute quadrangular lights;"
and in any modern woodcut you will see that where the lines of the
drawing cross each other to produce shade, the white interstices are cut
out so neatly that there is no appearance of any jag or break in the
lines; they look exactly as if they had been drawn with a pen. It is
chiefly difficult to cut the pieces clearly out when the lines cross at
right angles; easier when they form oblique or diamond-shaped
interstices; but in any case some half-dozen cuts, and in square
crossings as many as twenty, are required to clear one interstice.
Therefore if I carelessly draw six strokes with my pen across other six,
I produce twenty-five interstices, each of which will need at least six,
perhaps twenty, careful touches of the burin to clear out.--Say ten for
an average; and I demand two hundred and fifty exquisitely precise
touches from my engraver, to render ten careless ones of mine.

97. Now I take up Punch, at his best. The whole of the left side of John
Bull's waistcoat--the shadow on his knee-breeches and great-coat--the
whole of the Lord Chancellor's gown, and of John Bull's and Sir Peter
Teazle's complexions, are worked with finished precision of
cross-hatching. These have indeed some purpose in their texture; but in
the most wanton and gratuitous way, the wall below the window is
cross-hatched too, and that not with a double, but a treble line (Fig.

There are about thirty of these columns, with thirty-five interstices
each: approximately, 1,050--certainly not fewer--interstices to be
deliberately cut clear, to get that two inches square of shadow. Now
calculate--or think enough to feel the impossibility of calculating--the
number of woodcuts used daily for our popular prints, and how many men
are night and day cutting 1,050 square holes to the square inch, as the
occupation of their manly life. And Mrs. Beecher Stowe and the North
Americans fancy they have abolished slavery!

[Illustration: FIG. 4.]

98. The workman cannot have even the consolation of pride; for his task,
even in its finest accomplishment, is not really difficult,--only
tedious. When you have once got into the practice, it is as easy as
lying. To cut regular holes WITHOUT a purpose is easy enough; but to cut
_ir_regular holes WITH a purpose, that is difficult, forever;--no tricks
of tool or trade will give you power to do that.

The supposed difficulty--the thing which, at all events, it takes time
to learn, is to cut the interstices neat, and each like the other. But
is there any reason, do you suppose, for their being neat, and each like
the other? So far from it, they would be twenty times prettier if they
were irregular, and each different from the other. And an old
wood-cutter, instead of taking pride in cutting these interstices smooth
and alike, resolutely cuts them rough and irregular; taking care, at the
same time, never to have any more than are wanted, this being only one
part of the general system of intelligent manipulation, which made so
good an artist of the engraver that it is impossible to say of any
standard old woodcut, whether the draughtsman engraved it himself or
not. I should imagine, from the character and subtlety of the touch,
that every line of the Dance of Death had been engraved by Holbein; we
know it was not, and that there can be no certainty given by even the
finest pieces of wood execution of anything more than perfect harmony
between the designer and workman. And consider how much this harmony
demands in the latter. Not that the modern engraver is unintelligent in
applying his mechanical skill: very often he greatly improves the
drawing; but we never could mistake his hand for Holbein's.

99. The true merit, then, of wood execution, as regards this matter of
cross-hatching, is first that there be no more crossing than necessary;
secondly, that all the interstices be various, and rough. You may look
through the entire series of the Dance of Death without finding any
cross-hatching whatever, except in a few unimportant bits of background,
so rude as to need scarcely more than one touch to each interstice.
Albert Dürer crosses more definitely; but yet, in any fold of his
drapery, every white spot differs in size from every other, and the
arrangement of the whole is delightful, by the kind of variety which the
spots on a leopard have.

On the other hand, where either expression or form can be rendered by
the shape of the lights and darks, the old engraver becomes as careful
as in an ordinary ground he is careless.

The endeavor, with your own hand, and common pen and ink, to copy a
small piece of either of the two Holbein woodcuts (Figures 2 and 3) will
prove this to you better than any words.

100. I said that, had Tenniel been rightly trained, there might have
been the making of a Holbein, or nearly a Holbein, in him. I do not
know; but I can turn from his work to that of a man who was not trained
at all, and who was, without training, Holbein's equal.

Equal, in the sense that this brown stone, in my left hand, is the
equal, though not the likeness, of that in my right. They are both of
the same true and pure crystal; but the one is brown with iron, and
never touched by forming hand; the other has never been in rough
companionship, and has been exquisitely polished. So with these two men.
The one was the companion of Erasmus and Sir Thomas More. His father was
so good an artist that you cannot always tell their drawings asunder.
But the other was a farmer's son; and learned his trade in the back
shops of Newcastle.

Yet the first book I asked you to get was his biography; and in this
frame are set together a drawing by Hans Holbein, and one by Thomas
Bewick. I know which is most scholarly; but I do _not_ know which is

101. It is much to say for the self-taught Englishman;--yet do not
congratulate yourselves on his simplicity. I told you, a little while
since, that the English nobles had left the history of birds to be
written, and their spots to be drawn, by a printer's lad;--but I did not
tell you their farther loss in the fact that this printer's lad could
have written their own histories, and drawn their own spots, if they had
let him. But they had no history to be written; and were too closely
maculate to be portrayed;--white ground in most places altogether
obscured. Had there been Mores and Henrys to draw, Bewick could have
drawn them; and would have found his function. As it was, the nobles of
his day left him to draw the frogs, and pigs, and sparrows--of his day,
which seemed to him, in his solitude, the best types of its Nobility. No
sight or thought of beautiful things was ever granted him;--no heroic
creature, goddess-born--how much less any native Deity--ever shone upon
him. To his utterly English mind, the straw of the sty, and its
tenantry, were abiding truth;--the cloud of Olympus, and its tenantry, a
child's dream. He could draw a pig, but not an Aphrodite.

102. The three pieces of woodcut from his Fables (the two lower ones
enlarged) in the opposite plate, show his utmost strength and utmost
rudeness. I must endeavor to make you thoroughly understand both:--the
magnificent artistic power, the flawless virtue, veracity,
tenderness,--the infinite humor of the man; and yet the difference
between England and Florence, in the use they make of such gifts in
their children.

For the moment, however, I confine myself to the examination of
technical points; and we must follow our former conclusions a little

[Illustration: I.

Things Celestial and Terrestrial, as apparent to the English Mind.]

103. Because our lines in wood must be thick, it becomes an extreme
virtue in wood engraving to economize lines,--not merely, as in all
other art, to save time and power, but because, our lines being
necessarily blunt, we must make up our minds to do with fewer, by many,
than are in the object. But is this necessarily a disadvantage?

_Absolutely_, an immense disadvantage,--a woodcut never can be so
beautiful or good a thing as a painting, or line engraving. But in its
own separate and useful way, an excellent thing, because, practiced
rightly, it exercises in the artist, and summons in you, the habit of
abstraction; that is to say, of deciding what are the essential points
in the things you see, and seizing these; a habit entirely necessary to
strong humanity; and so natural to all humanity, that it leads, in its
indolent and undisciplined states, to all the vulgar amateur's liking of
sketches better than pictures. The sketch seems to put the thing for him
into a concentrated and exciting form.

104. Observe, therefore, to guard you from this error, that a bad sketch
is good for nothing; and that nobody can make a good sketch unless they
generally are trying to finish with extreme care. But the abstraction of
the essential particulars in his subject by a line-master, has a
peculiar didactic value. For painting, when it is complete, leaves it
much to your own judgment what to look at; and, if you are a fool, you
look at the wrong thing;--but in a fine woodcut, the master says to you,
"You _shall_ look at this, or at nothing."

105. For example, here is a little tailpiece of Bewick's, to the fable
of the Frogs and the Stork.[V] He is, as I told you, as stout a reformer
as Holbein,[W] or Botticelli, or Luther, or Savonarola; and, as an
impartial reformer, hits right and left, at lower or upper classes, if
he sees them wrong. Most frequently, he strikes at vice, without
reference to class; but in this vignette he strikes definitely at the
degradation of the viler popular mind which is incapable of being
governed, because it cannot understand the nobleness of kingship. He
has written--better than written, engraved, sure to suffer no slip of
type--his legend under the drawing; so that we know his meaning:

"Set them up with a king, indeed!"

106. There is an audience of seven frogs, listening to a speaker, or
croaker, in the middle; and Bewick has set himself to show in all, but
especially in the speaker, essential frogginess of mind--the marsh
temper. He could not have done it half so well in painting as he has
done by the abstraction of wood-outline. The characteristic of a manly
mind, or body, is to be gentle in temper, and firm in constitution; the
contrary essence of a froggy mind and body is to be angular in temper,
and flabby in constitution. I have enlarged Bewick's orator-frog for
you, Plate I. c., and I think you will feel that he is entirely
expressed in those essential particulars.

This being perfectly good wood-cutting, notice especially its
deliberation. No scrawling or scratching, or cross-hatching, or '_free_'
work of any sort. Most deliberate laying down of solid lines and dots,
of which you cannot change one. The real difficulty of wood engraving is
to cut every one of these black lines or spaces of the exactly right
shape, and not at all to cross-hatch them cleanly.

107. Next, examine the technical treatment of the pig, above. I have
purposely chosen this as an example of a white object on dark ground,
and the frog as a dark object on light ground, to explain to you what I
mean by saying that fine engraving regards local color, but not light
and shade. You see both frog and pig are absolutely without light and
shade. The frog, indeed, casts a shadow; but his hind leg is as white as
his throat. In the pig you don't even know which way the light falls.
But you know at once that the pig is white, and the frog brown or green.

108. There are, however, two pieces of chiaroscuro _implied_ in the
treatment of the pig. It is assumed that his curly tail would be light
against the background--dark against his own rump. This little piece of
heraldic quartering is absolutely necessary to solidify him. He would
have been a white ghost of a pig, flat on the background, but for that
alternative tail, and the bits of dark behind the ears. Secondly: Where
the shade is necessary to suggest the position of his ribs, it is given
with graphic and chosen points of dark, as few as possible; not for the
sake of the shade at all, but of the skin and bone.

109. That, then, being the law of refused chiaroscuro, observe further
the method of outline. We said that we were to have thick lines in wood,
if possible. Look what thickness of black outline Bewick has left under
our pig's chin, and above his nose.

But that is not a line at all, you think?

No;--a modern engraver would have made it one, and prided himself on
getting it fine. Bewick leaves it actually thicker than the snout, but
puts all his ingenuity of touch to vary the forms, and break the
extremities of his white cuts, so that the eye may be refreshed and
relieved by new forms at every turn. The group of white touches filling
the space between snout and ears might be a wreath of fine-weather
clouds, so studiously are they grouped and broken.

And nowhere, you see, does a single black line cross another.

Look back to Figure 4, page 54, and you will know, henceforward, the
difference between good and bad wood-cutting.

110. We have also, in the lower woodcut, a notable instance of Bewick's
power of abstraction. You will observe that one of the chief characters
of this frog, which makes him humorous,--next to his vain endeavor to
get some firmness into his fore feet,--is his obstinately angular
hump-back. And you must feel, when you see it so marked, how important a
general character of a frog it is to have a hump-back,--not at the
shoulders, but the loins.

111. Here, then, is a case in which you will see the exact function that
anatomy should take in art.

All the most scientific anatomy in the world would never have taught
Bewick, much less you, how to draw a frog.

But when once you _have_ drawn him, or looked at him, so as to know his
points, it then becomes entirely interesting to find out _why_ he has a
hump-back. So I went myself yesterday to Professor Rolleston for a
little anatomy, just as I should have gone to Professor Phillips for a
little geology; and the Professor brought me a fine little active frog;
and we put him on the table, and made him jump all over it, and then the
Professor brought in a charming Squelette of a frog, and showed me that
he needed a projecting bone from his rump, as a bird needs it from its
breast,--the one to attach the strong muscles of the hind legs, as the
other to attach those of the fore legs or wings. So that the entire
leaping power of the frog is in his hump-back, as the flying power of
the bird is in its breast-bone. And thus this Frog Parliament is most
literally a Rump Parliament--everything depending on the hind legs, and
nothing on the brains; which makes it wonderfully like some other
Parliaments we know of nowadays, with Mr. Ayrton and Mr. Lowe for their
æsthetic and acquisitive eyes, and a rump of Railway Directors.

112. Now, to conclude, for want of time only--I have but touched on the
beginning of my subject,--understand clearly and finally this simple
principle of all art, that the best is that which realizes absolutely,
if possible. Here is a viper by Carpaccio: you are afraid to go near it.
Here is an arm-chair by Carpaccio: you who came in late, and are
standing, to my regret, would like to sit down in it. This is consummate
art; but you can only have that with consummate means, and exquisitely
trained and hereditary mental power.

With inferior means, and average mental power, you must be content to
give a rude abstraction; but if rude abstraction _is_ to be made, think
what a difference there must be between a wise man's and a fool's; and
consider what heavy responsibility lies upon you in your youth, to
determine, among realities, by what you will be delighted, and, among
imaginations, by whose you will be led.


[Q] By Mr. Burgess. The toil and skill necessary to produce a facsimile
of this degree of precision will only be recognized by the reader who
has had considerable experience of actual work.

[R] The ordinary title-page of Punch.

[S] In the lecture-room, the relative rates of execution were shown; I
arrive at this estimate by timing the completion of two small pieces of
shade in the two methods.

[T] John Bull, as Sir Oliver Surface, with Sir Peter Teazle and Joseph
Surface. It appeared in Punch, early in 1863.

[U] In preparing these passages for the press, I feel perpetual need of
qualifications and limitations, for it is impossible to surpass the
humor, or precision of expressional touch, in the really golden parts of
Tenniel's works; and they _may_ be immortal, as representing what is
best in their day.

[V] From Bewick's Æsop's Fables.

[W] See _ante_, § 43.

                         LECTURE IV.


113. We are to-day to examine the proper methods for the technical
management of the most perfect of the arms of precision possessed by the
artist. For you will at once understand that a line cut by a
finely-pointed instrument upon the smooth surface of metal is
susceptible of the utmost fineness that can be given to the _definite_
work of the human hand. In drawing with pen upon paper, the surface of
the paper is slightly rough; necessarily, two points touch it instead of
one, and the liquid flows from them more or less irregularly, whatever
the draughtsman's skill. But you cut a metallic surface with one edge
only; the furrow drawn by a skater on the surface of ice is like it on a
large scale. Your surface is polished, and your line may be wholly
faultless, if your hand is.

114. And because, in such material, effects may be produced which no
penmanship could rival, most people, I fancy, think that a steel plate
half engraves itself; that the workman has no trouble with it, compared
to that of a pen draughtsman.

To test your feeling in this matter accurately, here is a manuscript
book written with pen and ink, and illustrated with flourishes and

You will all, I think, be disposed, on examining it, to exclaim, How
wonderful! and even to doubt the possibility of every page in the book
being completed in the same manner. Again, here are three of my own
drawings, executed with the pen, and Indian ink, when I was fifteen.
They are copies from large lithographs by Prout; and I imagine that most
of my pupils would think me very tyrannical if I requested them to do
anything of the kind themselves. And yet, when you see in the shop
windows a line engraving like this,[X] or this,[X] either of which
contains, alone, as much work as fifty pages of the manuscript book, or
fifty such drawings as mine, you look upon its effect as quite a matter
of course,--you never say 'how wonderful' _that_ is, nor consider how
you would like to have to live, by producing anything of the same kind

[Illustration: II.

The Star of FLORENCE.]

115. Yet you cannot suppose it is in reality easier to draw a line with
a cutting point, not seeing the effect at all, or, if any effect, seeing
a gleam of light instead of darkness, than to draw your black line at
once on the white paper? You cannot really think[Y] 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 that 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 this engraving, or
take a smaller and simpler one, Turner's Mercury and Argus,--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 etceteras 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 head of Io,
and her 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 small 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, pass your lens 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!

116. "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 aim. We shall have to
press close home this question about numbers and purpose presently;--it
is not the question now. Suppose certain results required,--atmospheric
effects, surface textures, transparencies of shade, confusions of
light,--then, 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 done."

Here is one just finished,--or, at least, finished to the eyes of
ordinary mortals, though its fastidious master means to retouch it;--a
quite pure line engraving, by Mr. Charles Henry Jeens; (in calling it
pure line, I mean that there are no mixtures of mezzotint or any
mechanical tooling, but all is steady hand-work,) from a picture by Mr.
Armytage, which, without possessing any of the highest claims to
admiration, is yet free from the vulgar vices which disgrace most of our
popular religious art; and is so sweet in the fancy of it as to deserve,
better than many works of higher power, the pains of the engraver to
make it a common possession. It is meant to help us to imagine the
evening of the day when the father and mother of Christ had been seeking
Him through Jerusalem: they have come to a well where women are drawing
water; St. Joseph passes on,--but the tired Madonna, leaning on the
well's margin, asks wistfully of the women if they have seen such and
such a child astray. Now will you just look for a while into the lines
by which the expression of the weary and anxious face is rendered; see
how unerring they are,--how calm and clear; and think how many questions
have to be determined in drawing the most minute portion of any
one,--its curve,--its thickness,--its distance from the next,--its own
preparation for ending, invisibly, where it ends. Think what the
precision must be in these that trace the edge of the lip, and make it
look quivering with disappointment, or in these which have made the
eyelash heavy with restrained tears.

117. Or if, as must be the case with many of my audience, it is
impossible for you to conceive the difficulties here overcome, look
merely at the draperies, and other varied substances represented in the
plate; see how silk, and linen, and stone, and pottery, and flesh, are
all separated in texture, and gradated in light, by the most subtle
artifices and appliances of line,--of which artifices, and the nature of
the mechanical labor throughout, I must endeavor to give you to-day a
more distinct conception than you are in the habit of forming. But as I
shall have to blame some of these methods in their general result, and I
do not wish any word of general blame to be associated with this most
excellent and careful plate by Mr. Jeens, I will pass, for special
examination, to one already in your reference series, which for the rest
exhibits more various treatment in its combined landscape, background,
and figures; the Belle Jardinière of Raphael, drawn and engraved by the
Baron Desnoyers.

You see, in the first place, that the ground, stones, and other coarse
surfaces are distinguished from the flesh and draperies by broken and
wriggled lines. Those broken lines cannot be executed with the burin,
they are etched in the early states of the plate, and are a modern
artifice, never used by old engravers; partly because the older men were
not masters of the art of etching, but chiefly because even those who
were acquainted with it would not employ lines of this nature. They have
been developed by the importance of landscape in modern engraving, and
have produced some valuable results in small plates, especially of
architecture. But they are entirely erroneous in principle, for the
surface of stones and leaves is not broken or jagged in this manner, but
consists of mossy, or blooming, or otherwise organic texture, which
cannot be represented by these coarse lines; their general consequence
has therefore been to withdraw the mind of the observer from all
beautiful and tender characters in foreground, and eventually to destroy
the very school of landscape engraving which gave birth to them.

Considered, however, as a means of relieving more delicate textures,
they are in some degree legitimate, being, in fact, a kind of chasing or
jagging one part of the plate surface in order to throw out the delicate
tints from the rough field. But the same effect was produced with less
pains, and far more entertainment to the eye, by the older engravers,
who employed purely ornamental variations of line; thus in Plate IV.,
opposite § 137, the drapery is sufficiently distinguished from the grass
by the treatment of the latter as an ornamental arabesque. The grain of
wood is elaborately engraved by Marc Antonio, with the same purpose, in
the plate given in your Standard Series.

118. Next, however, you observe what difference of texture and force
exists between the smooth, continuous lines themselves, which are all
really _engraved_. You must take some pains to understand the nature of
this operation.

The line is first cut lightly through its whole course, by absolute
decision and steadiness of hand, which you may endeavor to imitate if
you like, in its simplest phase, by drawing a circle with your
compass-pen; and then, grasping your penholder so that you can push the
point like a plow, describing other circles inside or outside of it, in
exact parallelism with the mathematical line, and at exactly equal
distances. To approach, or depart, with your point at finely gradated
intervals, may be your next exercise, if you find the first unexpectedly

119. When the line is thus described in its proper course, it is plowed
deeper, where depth is needed, by a second cut of the burin, first on
one side, then on the other, the cut being given with gradated force so
as to take away most steel where the line is to be darkest. Every line
of gradated depth in the plate has to be thus cut eight or ten times
over at least, with retouchings to smooth and clear all in the close.
Jason has to plow his field ten-furrow deep, with his fiery oxen well in
hand, all the while.

When the essential lines are thus produced in their several directions,
those which have been drawn across each other, so as to give depth of
shade, or richness of texture, have to be farther enriched by dots in
the interstices; else there would be a painful appearance of network
everywhere; and these dots require each four or five jags to produce
them; and each of these jags must be done with what artists and
engravers alike call 'feeling,'--the sensibility, that is, of a hand
completely under mental government. So wrought, the dots look soft, and
like touches of paint; but mechanically dug in, they are vulgar and

120. Now, observe, that, for every piece of shadow throughout the work,
the engraver has to decide with what quantity and kind of line he will
produce it. Exactly the same quantity of black, and therefore the same
depth of tint in general effect, may be given with six thick lines; or
with twelve, of half their thickness; or with eighteen, of a third of
the thickness. The second six, second twelve, or second eighteen, may
cross the first six, first twelve, or first eighteen, or go between
them; and they may cross at any angle. And then the third six may be put
between the first six, or between the second six, or across both, and at
any angle. In the network thus produced, any kind of dots may be put in
the severally shaped interstices. And for any of the series of
superadded lines, dots, of equivalent value in shade, may be
substituted. (Some engravings are wrought in dots altogether.) Choice
infinite, with multiplication of infinity, is, at all events, to be
made, for every minute space, from one side of the plate to the other.

121. The excellence of a beautiful engraving is primarily in the use of
these resources to exhibit the qualities of the original picture, with
delight to the eye in the method of translation; and the language of
engraving, when once you begin to understand it, is, in these respects,
so fertile, so ingenious, so ineffably subtle and severe in its grammar,
that you may quite easily make it the subject of your life's
investigation, as you would the scholarship of a lovely literature.

But in doing this, you would withdraw, and necessarily withdraw, your
attention from the higher qualities of art, precisely as a grammarian,
who is that, and nothing more, loses command of the matter and substance
of thought. And the exquisitely mysterious mechanisms of the engraver's
method have, in fact, thus entangled the intelligence of the careful
draughtsmen of Europe; so that since the final perfection of this
translator's power, all the men of finest patience and finest hand have
stayed content with it;--the subtlest draughtsmanship has perished from
the canvas,[Z] and sought more popular praise in this labyrinth of
disciplined language, and more or less dulled or degraded thought. And,
in sum, I know no cause more direct or fatal, in the destruction of the
great schools of European art, than the perfectness of modern line

122. This great and profoundly to be regretted influence I will prove
and illustrate to you on another occasion. My object to-day is to
explain the perfectness of the art itself; and above all to request you,
if you will not look at pictures instead of photographs, at least not to
allow the cheap merits of the chemical operation to withdraw your
interest from the splendid human labor of the engraver. Here is a little
vignette from Stothard, for instance, in Rogers' poems, to the lines,

    "Soared in the swing, half pleased and half afraid,
     'Neath sister elms, that waved their summer shade."

You would think, would you not? (and rightly,) that of all difficult
things to express with crossed black lines and dots, the face of a young
girl must be the most difficult. Yet here you have the face of a bright
girl, radiant in light, transparent, mysterious, almost breathing,--her
dark hair involved in delicate wreath and shade, her eyes full of joy
and sweet playfulness,--and all this done by the exquisite order and
gradation of a very few lines, which, if you will examine them through a
lens, you find dividing and checkering the lip, and cheek, and chin, so
strongly that you would have fancied they could only produce the effect
of a grim iron mask. But the intelligences of order and form guide them
into beauty, and inflame them with delicatest life.

123. And do you see the size of this head? About as large as the bud of
a forget-me-not! Can you imagine the fineness of the little pressures of
the hand on the steel, in that space, which at the edge of the almost
invisible lip, fashioned its less or more of smile?

My chemical friends, if you wish ever to know anything rightly
concerning the arts, I very urgently advise you to throw all your vials
and washes down the gutter-trap; and if you will ascribe, as you think
it so clever to do, in your modern creeds, all virtue to the sun, use
that virtue through your own heads and fingers, and apply your solar
energies to draw a skillful line or two, for once or twice in your life.
You may learn more by trying to engrave, like Goodall, the tip of an
ear, or the curl of a lock of hair, than by photographing the entire
population of the United States of America,--black, white, and

And one word, by the way, touching the complaints I hear at my having
set you to so fine work that it hurts your eyes. You have noticed that
all great sculptors--and most of the great painters of Florence--began
by being goldsmiths. Why do you think the goldsmith's apprenticeship is
so fruitful? Primarily, because it forces the boy to do small work, and
mind what he is about. Do you suppose Michael Angelo learned his
business by dashing or hitting at it? He laid the foundation of all his
after power by doing precisely what I am requiring my own pupils to
do,--copying German engravings in facsimile! And for your eyes--you all
sit up at night till you haven't got any eyes worth speaking of. Go to
bed at half-past nine, and get up at four, and you'll see something out
of them, in time.

124. Nevertheless, whatever admiration you may be brought to feel, and
with justice, for this lovely workmanship,--the more distinctly you
comprehend its merits, the more distinctly also will the question rise
in your mind, How is it that a performance so marvelous has yet taken no
rank in the records of art of any permanent or acknowledged kind? How
is it that these vignettes from Stothard and Turner,[AA] like the
woodcuts from Tenniel, scarcely make the name of the engraver known; and
that they never are found side by side with this older and apparently
ruder art, in the cabinets of men of real judgment? The reason is
precisely the same as in the case of the Tenniel woodcut. This modern
line engraving is alloyed gold. Rich in capacity, astonishing in
attainment, it nevertheless admits willful fault, and misses what it
ought first to have attained. It is therefore, to a certain measure,
vile in its perfection; while the older work is noble even in its
failure, and classic no less in what it deliberately refuses, than in
what it rationally and rightly prefers and performs.

125. Here, for instance, I have enlarged the head of one of Dürer's
Madonnas for you out of one of his most careful plates.[AB] You think it
very ugly. Well, so it is. Don't be afraid to think so, nor to say so.
Frightfully ugly; vulgar also. It is the head, simply, of a fat Dutch
girl, with all the pleasantness left out. There is not the least doubt
about that. Don't let anybody force Albert Dürer down your throats; nor
make you expect pretty things from him. Stothard's young girl in the
swing, or Sir Joshua's Age of Innocence, is in quite angelic sphere of
another world, compared to this black domain of poor, laborious Albert.
We are not talking of female beauty, so please you, just now, gentlemen,
but of engraving. And the merit, the classical, indefeasible, immortal
merit of this head of a Dutch girl with all the beauty left out, is in
the fact that every line of it, as engraving, is as good as can
be;--good, not with the mechanical dexterity of a watch-maker, but with
the intellectual effort and sensitiveness of an artist who knows
precisely what can be done, and ought to be attempted, with his assigned
materials. He works easily, fearlessly, flexibly; the dots are not all
measured in distance; the lines not all mathematically parallel or
divergent. He has even missed his mark at the mouth in one place, and
leaves the mistake, frankly. But there are no petrified mistakes; nor is
the eye so accustomed to the look of the mechanical furrow as to accept
it for final excellence. The engraving is full of the painter's higher
power and wider perception; it is classically perfect, because duly
subordinate, and presenting for your applause only the virtues proper to
its own sphere. Among these, I must now reiterate, the first of all is
the _decorative_ arrangement of _lines_.

126. You all know what a pretty thing a damask tablecloth is, and how a
pattern is brought out by threads running one way in one space, and
across in another. So, in lace, a certain delightfulness is given by the
texture of meshed lines.

Similarly, on any surface of metal, the object of the engraver is, or
ought to be, to cover it with lovely _lines_, forming a lace-work, and
including a variety of spaces, delicious to the eye.

And this is his business, primarily; before any other matter can be
thought of, his work must be ornamental. You know I told you a
sculptor's business is first to cover a surface with pleasant _bosses_,
whether they mean anything or not; so an engraver's is to cover it with
pleasant _lines_, whether they mean anything or not. That they should
mean something, and a good deal of something, is indeed desirable
afterwards; but first we must be ornamental.

127. Now if you will compare Plate II. at the beginning of this lecture,
which is a characteristic example of good Florentine engraving, and
represents the Planet and power of Aphrodite, with the Aphrodite of
Bewick in the upper division of Plate I., you will at once understand
the difference between a primarily ornamental, and a primarily
realistic, style. The first requirement in the Florentine work, is that
it shall be a lovely arrangement of lines; a pretty thing upon a page.
Bewick _has_ a secondary notion of making his vignette a pretty thing
upon a page. But he is overpowered by his vigorous veracity, and bent
first on giving you his idea of Venus. Quite right, he would have been,
mind you, if he had been carving a statue of her on Mount Eryx; but not
when he was engraving a vignette to Æsop's fables. To engrave well is to
ornament a surface well, not to create a realistic impression. I beg
your pardon for my repetitions; but the point at issue is the root of
the whole business, and I _must_ get it well asserted, and variously.

Let me pass to a more important example.

128. Three years ago, in the rough first arrangement of the copies in
the Educational Series, I put an outline of the top of Apollo's scepter,
which, in the catalogue, was said to be probably by Baccio Bandini of
Florence, for your first real exercise; it remains so, the olive being
put first only for its mythological rank.

The series of engravings to which the plate from which that exercise is
copied belongs, are part of a number, executed chiefly, I think, from
early designs of Sandro Botticelli, and some in great part by his hand.
He and his assistant, Baccio, worked together; and in such harmony, that
Bandini probably often does what Sandro wants, better than Sandro could
have done it himself; and, on the other hand, there is no design of
Bandini's over which Sandro does not seem to have had influence.

And wishing now to show you three examples of the finest work of the
old, the renaissance, and the modern schools,--of the old, I will take
Baccio Bandini's Astrologia, Plate III., opposite. Of the renaissance,
Dürer's Adam and Eve. And of the modern, this head of the daughter of
Herodias, engraved from Luini by Beaugrand, which is as
affectionately and sincerely wrought, though in the modern manner, as
any plate of the old schools.

[Illustration: III.

"At ev'ning from the top of Fésole."]

129. Now observe the progress of the feeling for light and shade in the
three examples.

The first is nearly all white paper; you think of the outline as the
constructive element throughout.

The second is a vigorous piece of _white_ and _black_--not of _light_
and _shade_,--for all the high lights are equally white, whether of
flesh, or leaves, or goat's hair.

The third is complete in chiaroscuro, as far as engraving can be.

Now the dignity and virtue of the plates is in the exactly inverse ratio
of their fullness in chiaroscuro.

Bandini's is excellent work, and of the very highest school. Dürer's
entirely accomplished work, but of an inferior school. And Beaugrand's,
excellent work, but of a vulgar and non-classical school.

And these relations of the schools are to be determined by the quality
in the _lines_; we shall find that in proportion as the light and shade
is neglected, the lines are studied; that those of Bandini are perfect;
of Dürer perfect, only with a lower perfection; but of Beaugrand,
entirely faultful.

130. I have just explained to you that in modern engraving the lines are
cut in clean furrow, widened, it may be, by successive cuts; but,
whether it be fine or thick, retaining always, when printed, the aspect
of a continuous line drawn with the pen, and entirely black throughout
its whole course.

Now we may increase the delicacy of this line to any extent by simply
printing it in gray color instead of black. I obtained some very
beautiful results of this kind in the later volumes of 'Modern
Painters,' with Mr. Armytage's help, by using subdued purple tints; but,
in any case, the line thus engraved must be monotonous in its character,
and cannot be expressive of the finest qualities of form.

Accordingly, the old Florentine workmen constructed the line _itself_,
in important places, of successive minute touches, so that it became a
chain of delicate links which could be opened or closed at
pleasure.[AC] If you will examine through a lens the outline of the face
of this Astrology, you will find it is traced with an exquisite series
of minute touches, susceptible of accentuation or change absolutely at
the engraver's pleasure; and, in result, corresponding to the finest
conditions of a pencil line drawing by a consummate master. In the fine
plates of this period, you have thus the united powers of the pen and
pencil, and both absolutely secure and multipliable.

131. I am a little proud of having independently discovered, and had the
patience to carry out, this Florentine method of execution for myself,
when I was a boy of thirteen. My good drawing-master had given me some
copies calculated to teach me freedom of hand; the touches were rapid
and vigorous,--many of them in mechanically regular zigzags, far beyond
any capacity of mine to imitate in the bold way in which they were done.
But I was resolved to have them, somehow; and actually facsimiled a
considerable portion of the drawing in the Florentine manner, with the
finest point I could cut to my pencil, taking a quarter of an hour to
forge out the likeness of one return in the zigzag which my master
carried down through twenty returns in two seconds; and so successfully,
that he did not detect my artifice till I showed it him,--on which he
forbade me ever to do the like again. And it was only thirty years
afterwards that I found I had been quite right after all, and working
like Baccio Bandini! But the patience which carried me through that
early effort, served me well through all the thirty years, and enabled
me to analyze, and in a measure imitate, the method of work employed by
every master; so that, whether you believe me or not at first, you will
find what I tell you of their superiority, or inferiority, to be true.

132. When lines are studied with this degree of care, you may be sure
the master will leave room enough for you to see them and enjoy them,
and not use any at random. All the finest engravers, therefore, leave
much white paper, and use their entire power on the outlines.

133. Next to them come the men of the Renaissance schools, headed by
Dürer, who, less careful of the beauty and refinement of the line,
delight in its vigor, accuracy, and complexity. And the essential
difference between these men and the moderns is that these central
masters cut their line for the most part with a single furrow, giving it
depth by force of hand or wrist, and retouching, _not in the furrow
itself, but with others beside it_.[AD] Such work can only be done well
on copper, and it can display all faculty of hand or wrist, precision of
eye, and accuracy of knowledge, which a human creature can possess. But
the dotted or hatched line is not used in this central style, and the
higher conditions of beauty never thought of.

In the Astrology of Bandini,--and remember that the Astrologia of the
Florentine meant what we mean by Astronomy, and much more,--he wishes
you first to look at the face: the lip half open, faltering in wonder;
the amazed, intense, dreaming gaze; the pure dignity of forehead,
undisturbed by terrestrial thought. None of these things could be so
much as attempted in Dürer's method; he can engrave flowing hair, skin
of animals, bark of trees, wreathings of metal-work, with the free hand;
also, with labored chiaroscuro, or with sturdy line, he can reach
expressions of sadness, or gloom, or pain, or soldierly strength,--but
pure beauty,--never.

134. Lastly, you have the Modern school, deepening its lines in
successive cuts. The instant consequence of the introduction of this
method is the restriction of curvature; you cannot follow a complex
curve again with precision through its furrow. If you are a dextrous
plowman, you can drive your plow any number of times along the simple
curve. But you cannot repeat again exactly the motions which cut a
variable one.[AE] You may retouch it, energize it, and deepen it in
parts, but you cannot cut it all through again equally. And the
retouching and energizing in parts is a living and intellectual process;
but the cutting all through, equally, a mechanical one. The difference
is exactly such as that between the dexterity of turning out two similar
moldings from a lathe, and carving them with the free hand, like a Pisan
sculptor. And although splendid intellect, and subtlest sensibility,
have been spent on the production of some modern plates, the mechanical
element introduced by their manner of execution always overpowers both;
nor _can any plate of consummate value ever be produced in the modern

135. Nevertheless, in landscape, there are two examples in your
Reference series, of insuperable skill and extreme beauty: Miller's
plate, before instanced, of the Grand Canal, Venice; and E. Goodall's of
the upper fall of the Tees. The men who engraved these plates might have
been exquisite artists; but their patience and enthusiasm were held
captive in the false system of lines, and we lost the painters; while
the engravings, wonderful as they are, are neither of them worth a
Turner etching, scratched in ten minutes with the point of an old fork;
and the common types of such elaborate engraving are none of them worth
a single frog, pig, or puppy, out of the corner of a Bewick vignette.

136. And now, I think, you cannot fail to understand clearly what you
are to look for in engraving, as a separate art from that of painting.
Turn back to the 'Astrologia' as a perfect type of the purest school.
She is gazing at stars, and crowned with them. But the stars are _black_
instead of shining! You cannot have a more decisive and absolute proof
that you must not look in engraving for chiaroscuro.

Nevertheless, her body is half in shade, and her left foot; and she
casts a shadow, and there is a bar of shade behind her.

All these are merely so much acceptance of shade as may relieve the
forms, and give value to the linear portions. The face, though turned
from the light, is shadowless.

Again. Every lock of the hair is designed and set in its place with the
subtlest care, but there is no luster attempted,--no texture,--no
mystery. The plumes of the wings are set studiously in their
places,--they, also, lusterless. That even their filaments are not
drawn, and that the broad curve embracing them ignores the anatomy of a
bird's wing, are conditions of design, not execution. Of these in a
future lecture.[AF]

[Illustration: IV.

"By the Springs of PARNASSUS."]

137. The 'Poesia,' Plate IV., opposite, is a still more severe, though
not so generic, an example; its decorative foreground reducing it almost
to the rank of goldsmith's ornamentation. I need scarcely point out to
you that the flowing water shows neither luster nor reflection; but
notice that the observer's attention is supposed to be so close to every
dark touch of the graver that he will see the minute dark spots which
indicate the sprinkled shower falling from the vase into the pool.

138. This habit of strict and calm attention, constant in the artist,
and expected in the observer, makes all the difference between the art
of Intellect, and of mere sensation. For every detail of this plate has
a meaning, if you care to understand it. This is Poetry, sitting by the
fountain of Castalia, which flows first out of a formal urn, to show
that it is not artless; but the rocks of Parnassus are behind, and on
the top of them--only one tree, like a mushroom with a thick stalk. You
at first are inclined to say, How very absurd, to put only one tree on
Parnassus! but this one tree is the Immortal Plane Tree, planted by
Agamemnon, and at once connects our Poesia with the Iliad. Then, this
is the hem of the robe of Poetry,--this is the divine vegetation which
springs up under her feet,--this is the heaven and earth united by her
power,--this is the fountain of Castalia flowing out afresh among the
grass,--and these are the drops with which, out of a pitcher, Poetry is
nourishing the fountain of Castalia.

All which you may find out if you happen to know anything about
Castalia, or about poetry; and pleasantly think more upon, for yourself.
But the poor dunces, Sandro and Baccio, feeling themselves but 'goffi
nell' arte,' have no hope of telling you all this, except suggestively.
They can't engrave grass of Parnassus, nor sweet springs so as to look
like water; but they can make a pretty damasked surface with ornamental
leaves, and flowing lines, and so leave you something to think of--if
you will.

139. 'But a great many people won't, and a great many more can't; and
surely the finished engravings are much more delightful, and the only
means we have of giving any idea of finished pictures, out of our

Yes, all that is true; and when we examine the effects of line engraving
upon taste in recent art, we will discuss these matters; for the
present, let us be content with knowing what the best work is, and why
it is so. Although, however, I do not now press further my cavils at the
triumph of modern line engraving, I must assign to you, in few words,
the reason of its recent decline. Engravers complain that photography
and cheap wood-cutting have ended their finer craft. No complaint can be
less grounded. They themselves destroyed their own craft, by vulgarizing
it. Content in their beautiful mechanism, they ceased to learn, and to
feel, as artists; they put themselves under the order of publishers and
print-sellers; they worked indiscriminately from whatever was put into
their hands,--from Bartlett as willingly as from Turner, and from
Mulready as carefully as from Raphael. They filled the windows of
print-sellers, the pages of gift books, with elaborate rubbish, and
piteous abortions of delicate industry. They worked cheap, and
cheaper,--smoothly, and more smoothly,--they got armies of assistants,
and surrounded themselves with schools of mechanical tricksters,
learning their stale tricks with blundering avidity. They had
fallen--before the days of photography--into providers of frontispieces
for housekeepers' pocket-books. I do not know if photography itself,
their redoubted enemy, has even now ousted them from that last refuge.

140. Such the fault of the engraver,--very pardonable; scarcely
avoidable,--however fatal. Fault mainly of humility. But what has _your_
fault been, gentlemen? what the patrons' fault, who have permitted so
wide waste of admirable labor, so pathetic a uselessness of obedient
genius? It was yours to have directed, yours to have raised and rejoiced
in, the skill, the modesty, the patience of this entirely gentle and
industrious race;--copyists with their _heart_. The common
painter-copyists who encumber our European galleries with their easels
and pots, are, almost without exception, persons too stupid to be
painters, and too lazy to be engravers. The real copyists--the men who
can put their soul into another's work--are employed at home, in their
narrow rooms, striving to make their good work profitable to all men.
And in their submission to the public taste they are truly national
servants as much as Prime Ministers are. They fulfill the demand of the
nation; what, as a people, you wish to have for possession in art, these
men are ready to give you.

And what have you hitherto asked of them?--Ramsgate Sands, and Dolly
Vardens, and the Paddington Station,--these, I think, are typical of
your chief demands; the cartoons of Raphael--which you don't care to see
themselves; and, by way of a flight into the empyrean, the Madonna di
San Sisto. And literally, there are hundreds of cities and villages in
Italy in which roof and wall are blazoned with the noblest divinity and
philosophy ever imagined by men; and of all this treasure, I can, as far
as I know, give you not _one_ example, in line engraving, by an English

Well, you are in the main matter right in this. You want essentially
Ramsgate Sands and the Paddington Station, because there you can see

Make yourselves, then, worthy to be seen forever, and let English
engraving become noble as the record of English loveliness and honor.


[X] Miller's large plate of the Grand Canal, Venice, after Turner; and
Goodall's, of Tivoli, after Turner. The other examples referred to are
left in the University Galleries.

[Y] This paragraph was not read at the lecture, time not allowing:--it
is part of what I wrote on engraving some years ago, in the papers for
the Art Journal, called the Cestus of Aglaia. (Refer now to "On the Old

[Z] An effort has lately been made in France, by Meissonier, Gérome, and
their school, to recover it, with marvelous collateral skill of
engravers. The etching of Gérome's Louis XIV. and Molière is one of the
completest pieces of skillful mechanism ever put on metal.

[AA] I must again qualify the too sweeping statement of the text. I
think, as time passes, some of these nineteenth century line engravings
will become monumental. The first vignette of the garden, with the cut
hedges and fountain, for instance, in Rogers' poems, is so consummate in
its use of every possible artifice of delicate line, (note the look of
_tremulous_ atmosphere got by the undulatory etched lines on the
pavement, and the broken masses, worked with dots, of the fountain
foam,) that I think it cannot but, with some of its companions, survive
the refuse of its school, and become classic. I find in like manner,
even with all their faults and weaknesses, the vignettes to Heyne's
Virgil to be real art-possessions.

[AB] Plate XI., in the Appendix, taken from the engraving of the Virgin
sitting in the fenced garden, with two angels crowning her.

[AC] The method was first developed in engraving designs on
silver--numbers of lines being executed with dots by the punch, for
variety's sake. For niello, and printing, a transverse cut was
substituted for the blow. The entire style is connected with the later
Roman and Byzantine method of drawing lines with the drill hole, in
marble. See above, Lecture II., Section 70.

[AD] This most important and distinctive character was pointed out to me
by Mr. Burgess.

[AE] This point will be further examined and explained in the Appendix.

[AF] See Appendix, Article I.

                         LECTURE V.


141. By reference to the close of the preface to 'Eagle's Nest,' you
will see, gentlemen, that I meant these lectures, from the first, rather
to lead you to the study of the characters of two great men, than to
interest you in the processes of a secondary form of art. As I draw my
materials into the limited form necessary for the hour, I find my
divided purpose doubly failing; and would fain rather use my time to-day
in supplying the defects of my last lecture, than in opening the greater
subject, which I must treat with still more lamentable inadequacy.
Nevertheless, you must not think it is for want of time that I omit
reference to other celebrated engravers, and insist on the special power
of these two only. Many not inconsiderable reputations are founded
merely on the curiosity of collectors of prints, or on partial skill in
the management of processes; others, though resting on more secure
bases, are still of no importance to you in the general history of art;
whereas you will find the work of Holbein and Botticelli determining for
you, without need of any farther range, the principal questions of
moment in the relation of the Northern and Southern schools of design.
Nay, a wider method of inquiry would only render your comparison less
accurate in result. It is only in Holbein's majestic range of capacity,
and only in the particular phase of Teutonic life which his art adorned,
that the problem can be dealt with on fair terms. We Northerns can
advance no fairly comparable antagonist to the artists of the South,
except at that one moment, and in that one man. Rubens cannot for an
instant be matched with Tintoret, nor Memling with Lippi; while
Reynolds only rivals Titian in what he learned from him. But in Holbein
and Botticelli we have two men trained independently, equal in power of
intellect, similar in material and mode of work, contemporary in age,
correspondent in disposition. The relation between them is strictly
typical of the constant aspects to each other of the Northern and
Southern schools.

142. Their point of closest contact is in the art of engraving, and this
art is developed entirely as the servant of the great passions which
perturbed or polluted Europe in the fifteenth century. The impulses
which it obeys are all new; and it obeys them with its own nascent
plasticity of temper. Painting and sculpture are only modified by them;
but engraving is educated.

These passions are in the main three; namely,

1. The thirst for classical literature, and the forms of proud and false
taste which arose out of it, in the position it had assumed as the enemy
of Christianity.

2. The pride of science, enforcing (in the particular domain of Art)
accuracy of perspective, shade, and anatomy, never before dreamed of.

3. The sense of error and iniquity in the theological teaching of the
Christian Church, felt by the highest intellects of the time, and
necessarily rendering the formerly submissive religious art impossible.

To-day, then, our task is to examine the peculiar characters of the
Design of the Northern Schools of Engraving, as affected by these great

143. I have not often, however, used the word 'design,' and must clearly
define the sense in which I now use it. It is vaguely used in common
art-parlance; often as if it meant merely the drawing of a picture, as
distinct from its color; and in other still more inaccurate ways. The
accurate and proper sense, underlying all these, I must endeavor to make
clear to you.

'Design' properly signifies that power in any art-work which has a
purpose other than of imitation, and which is 'designed,' composed, or
separated to that end. It implies the rejection of some things, and the
insistence upon others, with a given object.[AG]

Let us take progressive instances. Here is a group of prettily dressed
peasant children, charmingly painted by a very able modern artist--not
absolutely without design, for he really wishes to show you how pretty
peasant children can be, (and, in so far, is wiser and kinder than
Murillo, who likes to show how ugly they can be); also, his group is
agreeably arranged, and its component children carefully chosen.
Nevertheless, any summer's day, near any country village, you may come
upon twenty groups in an hour as pretty as this; and may see--if you
have eyes--children in them twenty times prettier than these. A
photograph, if it could render them perfectly, and in color, would far
excel the charm of this painting; for in it, good and clever as it is,
there is nothing supernatural, and much that is subnatural.

144. Beside this group of, in every sense of the word, 'artless' little
country girls, I will now set one--in the best sense of the
word--'artful' little country girl,--a sketch by Gainsborough.

You never saw her like before. Never will again, now that Gainsborough
is dead. No photography,--no science,--no industry, will touch or reach
for an instant this _super_-naturalness. You will look vainly through
the summer fields for such a child. "Nor up the lawn, nor by the wood,"
is she. Whence do you think this marvelous charm has come? Alas! if we
knew, would not we all be Gainsboroughs? This only you may practically
ascertain, as surely as that a flower will die if you cut its root away,
that you cannot alter a single touch in Gainsborough's work without
injury to the whole. Half a dozen spots, more or less, in the printed
gowns of these other children whom I first showed you, will not make the
smallest difference to them; nor a lock or two more or less in their
hair, nor a dimple or two more or less in their cheeks. But if you alter
one wave of the hair of Gainsborough's girl, the child is gone. Yet the
art is so subtle, that I do not expect you to believe this. It looks so
instinctive, so easy, so 'chanceux,'--the French word is better than
ours. Yes, and in their more accurate sense, also, 'Il a de la chance.'
A stronger Designer than he was with him. He could not tell you himself
how the thing was done.

145. I proceed to take a more definite instance--this Greek head of the
Lacinian Juno. The design or appointing of the forms now entirely
prevails over the resemblance to Nature. No real hair could ever be
drifted into these wild lines, which mean the wrath of the Adriatic
winds round the Cape of Storms.

And yet, whether this be uglier or prettier than Gainsborough's
child--(and you know already what I think about it, that no Greek
goddess was ever half so pretty as an English girl, of pure clay and
temper,)--uglier or prettier, it is more dignified and impressive. It at
least belongs to the domain of a lordlier, more majestic, more guiding
and ordaining art.

146. I will go back another five hundred years, and place an Egyptian
beside the Greek divinity. The resemblance to Nature is now all but
lost, the ruling law has become all. The lines are reduced to an easily
counted number, and their arrangement is little more than a decorative
sequence of pleasant curves cut in porphyry,--in the upper part of
their contour following the outline of a woman's face in profile,
over-crested by that of a hawk, on a kind of pedestal. But that the
sign-engraver meant by his hawk, Immortality, and by her pedestal, the
House or Tavern of Truth, is of little importance now to the passing
traveler, not yet preparing to take the sarcophagus for his place of

147. How many questions are suggested to us by these transitions! Is
beauty contrary to law, and grace attainable only through license? What
we gain in language, shall we lose in thought? and in what we add of
labor, more and more forget its ends?

Not so.

Look at this piece of Sandro's work, the Libyan Sibyl.[AH]

It is as ordered and normal as the Egyptian's--as graceful and facile as
Gainsborough's. It retains the majesty of old religion; it is invested
with the joy of newly awakened childhood.

Mind, I do not expect you--do not wish you--to enjoy Botticelli's dark
engraving as much as Gainsborough's aerial sketch; for due comparison of
the men, painting should be put beside painting. But there is enough
even in this copy of the Florentine plate to show you the junction of
the two powers in it--of prophecy, and delight.

148. Will these two powers, do you suppose, be united in the same manner
in the contemporary Northern art? That Northern school is my subject
to-day; and yet I give you, as type of the intermediate condition
between Egypt and England--not Holbein, but Botticelli. I am obliged to
do this; because in the Southern art, the religious temper remains
unconquered by the doctrines of the Reformation. Botticelli was--what
Luther wished to be, but could not be--a reformer still believing in the
Church: his mind is at peace; and his art, therefore, can pursue the
delight of beauty, and yet remain prophetic. But it was far otherwise in
Germany. There the Reformation of manners became the destruction of
faith; and art therefore, not a prophecy, but a protest. It is the
chief work of the greatest Protestant who ever lived,[AI] which I ask
you to study with me to-day.

149. I said that the power of engraving had developed itself during the
introduction of three new--(practically and vitally new, that is to
say)--elements, into the minds of men: elements which briefly may be
expressed thus:

    1. Classicism, and Literary Science.

    2. Medicine, and Physical Science.[AJ]

    3. Reformation, and Religious Science.

And first of Classicism.

You feel, do not you, in this typical work of Gainsborough's, that his
subject as well as his picture is 'artless' in a lovely sense;--nay, not
only artless, but ignorant, and unscientific, in a beautiful way? You
would be afterwards remorseful, I think, and angry with yourself--seeing
the effect produced on her face--if you were to ask this little lady to
spell a very long word? Also, if you wished to know how many times the
sevens go in forty-nine, you would perhaps wisely address yourself
elsewhere. On the other hand, you do not doubt that _this_ lady[AK]
knows very well how many times the sevens go in forty-nine, and is more
Mistress of Arts than any of us are Masters of them.

150. You have then, in the one case, a beautiful simplicity, and a
blameless ignorance; in the other, a beautiful artfulness, and a wisdom
which you do not dread,--or, at least, even though dreading, love. But
you know also that we may remain in a hateful and culpable ignorance;
and, as I fear too many of us in competitive effort feel, become
possessed of a hateful knowledge.

Ignorance, therefore, is not evil absolutely; but, innocent, may be

Knowledge also is not good absolutely; but, guilty, may be hateful.

So, therefore, when I now repeat my former statement, that the first
main opposition between the Northern and Southern schools is in the
simplicity of the one, and the scholarship of the other, that statement
may imply sometimes the superiority of the North, and sometimes of the
South. You may have a heavenly simplicity opposed to a hellish (that is
to say, a lustful and arrogant) scholarship; or you may have a barbarous
and presumptuous ignorance opposed to a divine and disciplined wisdom.
Ignorance opposed to learning in both cases; but evil to good, as the
case may be.

151. For instance: the last time I was standing before Raphael's
arabesques in the Loggias of the Vatican, I wrote down in my pocket-book
the description, or, more modestly speaking, the inventory, of the small
portion of that infinite wilderness of sensual fantasy which happened to
be opposite me. It consisted of a woman's face, with serpents for hair,
and a virgin's breasts, with stumps for arms, ending in blue
butterflies' wings, the whole changing at the waist into a goat's body,
which ended below in an obelisk upside-down, to the apex at the bottom
of which were appended, by graceful chains, an altar, and two bunches of

Now you know in a moment, by a glance at this 'design'--beautifully
struck with free hand, and richly gradated in color,--that the master
was familiar with a vast range of art and literature: that he knew all
about Egyptian sphinxes, and Greek Gorgons; about Egyptian obelisks, and
Hebrew altars; about Hermes, and Venus, and Bacchus, and satyrs, and
goats, and grapes.

You know also--or ought to know, in an instant,--that all this learning
has done him no good; that he had better have known nothing than any of
these things, since they were to be used by him only to such purpose;
and that his delight in armless breasts, legless trunks, and obelisks
upside-down, has been the last effort of his expiring sensation, in the
grasp of corrupt and altogether victorious Death. And you have thus, in
Gainsborough as compared with Raphael, a sweet, sacred, and living
simplicity, set against an impure, profane, and paralyzed knowledge.

152. But, next, let us consider the reverse conditions.

Let us take instance of contrast between faultful and treacherous
ignorance, and divinely pure and fruitful knowledge.

In the place of honor at the end of one of the rooms of your Royal
Academy--years ago--stood a picture by an English Academician, announced
as a representation of Moses sustained by Aaron and Hur, during the
discomfiture of Amalek. In the entire range of the Pentateuch, there is
no other scene (in which the visible agents are mortal only) requiring
so much knowledge and thought to reach even a distant approximation to
the probabilities of the fact. One saw in a moment that the painter was
both powerful and simple, after a sort; that he had really sought for a
vital conception, and had originally and earnestly read his text, and
formed his conception. And one saw also in a moment that he had chanced
upon this subject, in reading or hearing his Bible, as he might have
chanced on a dramatic scene accidentally in the street. That he knew
nothing of the character of Moses,--nothing of his law,--nothing of the
character of Aaron, nor of the nature of a priesthood,--nothing of the
meaning of the event which he was endeavoring to represent, of the
temper in which it would have been transacted by its agents, or of its
relations to modern life.

153. On the contrary, in the fresco of the earlier scenes in the life of
Moses, by Sandro Botticelli, you know--not 'in a moment,' for the
knowledge of knowledge cannot be so obtained; but in proportion to the
discretion of your own reading, and to the care you give to the picture,
you _may_ know,--that here is a sacredly guided and guarded learning;
here a Master indeed, at whose feet you may sit safely, who can teach
you, better than in words, the significance of both Moses' law and
Aaron's ministry; and not only these, but, if he chose, could add to
this an exposition as complete of the highest philosophies both of the
Greek nation, and of his own; and could as easily have painted, had it
been asked of him, Draco, or Numa, or Justinian, as the herdsman of

154. It is rarely that we can point to an opposition between faultful,
because insolent, ignorance, and virtuous, because gracious, knowledge,
so direct, and in so parallel elements, as in this instance. In general,
the analysis is much more complex. It is intensely difficult to indicate
the mischief of involuntary and modest ignorance, calamitous only in a
measure; fruitful in its lower field, yet sorrowfully condemned to that
lower field--not by sin, but fate.

When first I introduced you to Bewick, we closed our too partial
estimate of his entirely magnificent powers with one sorrowful
concession--he could draw a pig, but not a Venus.

Eminently he could so, because--which is still more sorrowfully to be
conceded--he liked the pig best. I have put now in your educational
series a whole galaxy of pigs by him; but, hunting all the fables
through, I find only one Venus, and I think you will all admit that she
is an unsatisfactory Venus.[AL] There is honest simplicity here; but you
regret it; you miss something that you find in Holbein, much more in
Botticelli. You see in a moment that this man knows nothing of Sphinxes,
or Muses, or Graces, or Aphrodites; and, besides, that, knowing nothing,
he would have no liking for them even if he saw them; but much prefers
the style of a well-to-do English housekeeper with corkscrew curls, and
a portly person.

155. You miss something, I said, in Bewick which you find in Holbein.
But do you suppose Holbein himself, or any other Northern painter, could
wholly quit himself of the like accusations? I told you, in the second
of these lectures, that the Northern temper, refined from savageness,
and the Southern, redeemed from decay, met, in Florence. Holbein and
Botticelli are the purest types of the two races. Holbein is a civilized
boor; Botticelli a reanimate Greek. Holbein was polished by
companionship with scholars and kings, but remains always a burgher of
Augsburg in essential nature. Bewick and he are alike in temper; only
the one is untaught, the other perfectly taught. But Botticelli _needs_
no teaching. He is, by his birth, scholar and gentleman to the heart's
core. Christianity itself can only inspire him, not refine him. He is as
tried gold chased by the jeweler,--the roughest part of him is the

Now how differently must the newly recovered scholastic learning tell
upon these two men. It is all out of Holbein's way; foreign to his
nature, useless at the best, probably cumbrous. But Botticelli receives
it as a child in later years recovers the forgotten dearness of a
nursery tale; and is more himself, and again and again himself, as he
breathes the air of Greece, and hears, in his own Italy, the lost voice
of the Sibyl murmur again by the Avernus Lake.

156. It is not, as we have seen, every one of the Southern race who can
thus receive it. But it graces them all; is at once a part of their
being; destroys them, if it is to destroy, the more utterly because it
so enters into their natures. It destroys Raphael; but it graces him,
and is a part of him. It all but destroys Mantegna; but it graces him.
And it does not hurt Holbein, just because it does _not_ grace
him--never is for an instant a part of him. It is with Raphael as with
some charming young girl who has a new and beautifully made dress
brought to her, which entirely becomes her,--so much, that in a little
while, thinking of nothing else, she becomes _it_; and is only the
decoration of her dress. But with Holbein it is as if you brought the
same dress to a stout farmer's daughter who was going to dine at the
Hall; and begged her to put it on that she might not discredit the
company. She puts it on to please you; looks entirely ridiculous in it,
but is not spoiled by it,--remains herself, in spite of it.

157. You probably have never noticed the extreme awkwardness of Holbein
in wearing this new dress; you would the less do so because his own
people think him all the finer for it, as the farmer's wife would
probably think her daughter. Dr. Woltmann, for instance, is enthusiastic
in praise of the splendid architecture in the background of his
Annunciation. A fine mess it must have made in the minds of simple
German maidens, in their notion of the Virgin at home! I cannot show you
this Annunciation; but I have under my hand one of Holbein's Bible cuts,
of the deepest seriousness and import--his illustration of the
Canticles, showing the Church as the bride of Christ.


You could not find a subject requiring more tenderness, purity, or
dignity of treatment. In this maid, symbolizing the Church, you ask for
the most passionate humility, the most angelic beauty: "Behold, thou art
fair, my dove." Now here is Holbein's ideal of that fairness; here is
his "Church as the Bride."

I am sorry to associate this figure in your minds, even for a moment,
with the passages it is supposed to illustrate; but the lesson is too
important to be omitted. Remember, Holbein represents the temper of
Northern Reformation. He has all the nobleness of that temper, but also
all its baseness. He represents, indeed, the revolt of German truth
against Italian lies; but he represents also the revolt of German
animalism against Hebrew imagination. This figure of Holbein's is
half-way from Solomon's mystic bride, to Rembrandt's wife, sitting on
his knee while he drinks.

But the key of the question is not in this. Florentine animalism has at
this time, also, enough to say for itself. But Florentine animalism, at
this time, feels the joy of a gentleman, not of a churl. And a
Florentine, whatever he does,--be it virtuous or sinful, chaste or
lascivious, severe or extravagant,--does it with a grace.

158. You think, perhaps, that Holbein's Solomon's bride is so ungraceful
chiefly because she is overdressed, and has too many feathers and
jewels. No; a Florentine would have put any quantity of feathers and
jewels on her, and yet never lost her grace. You shall see him do it,
and that to a fantastic degree, for I have an example under my hand.
Look back, first, to Bewick's Venus (Lecture III.). You can't accuse her
of being overdressed. She complies with every received modern principle
of taste. Sir Joshua's precept that drapery should be "drapery, and
nothing more," is observed more strictly even by Bewick than by Michael
Angelo. If the absence of decoration could exalt the beauty of his
Venus, here had been her perfection.

Now look back to Plate II. (Lecture IV.), by Sandro; Venus in her
planet, the ruling star of Florence. Anything more grotesque in
conception, more unrestrained in fancy of ornament, you cannot find,
even in the final days of the Renaissance. Yet Venus holds her divinity
through all; she will become majestic to you as you gaze; and there is
not a line of her chariot wheels, of her buskins, or of her throne,
which you may not see was engraved by a gentleman.

[Illustration: V.

"Heat considered as a Mode of Motion."

Florentine Natural Philosophy.]

159. Again, Plate V., opposite, is a facsimile of another engraving of
the same series--the Sun in Leo. It is even more extravagant in
accessories than the Venus. You see the Sun's epaulets before you see
the sun; the spiral scrolls of his chariot, and the black twisted rays
of it, might, so far as types of form only are considered, be a design
for some modern court-dress star, to be made in diamonds. And yet all
this wild ornamentation is, if you will examine it, more purely Greek in
spirit than the Apollo Belvedere.

You know I have told you, again and again, that the soul of Greece is
her veracity; that what to other nations were fables and symbolisms, to
her became living facts--living gods. The fall of Greece was instant
when her gods again became fables. The Apollo Belvedere is the work of a
sculptor to whom Apollonism is merely an elegant idea on which to
exhibit his own skill. He does not himself feel for an instant that the
handsome man in the unintelligible attitude,[AM] with drapery hung over
his left arm, as it would be hung to dry over a clothes-line, is the
Power of the Sun. But the Florentine believes in Apollo with his whole
mind, and is trying to explain his strength in every touch.

For instance; I said just now, "You see the sun's epaulets before the
sun." Well, _don't_ you, usually, as it rises? Do you not continually
mistake a luminous cloud for it, or wonder where it is, behind one?
Again, the face of the Apollo Belvedere is agitated by anxiety, passion,
and pride. Is the sun's likely to be so, rising on the evil and the
good? This Prince sits crowned and calm: look at the quiet fingers of
the hand holding the scepter,--at the restraint of the reins merely by a
depression of the wrist.

160. You have to look carefully for those fingers holding the scepter,
because the hand--which a great anatomist would have made so exclusively
interesting--is here confused with the ornamentation of the arm of the
chariot on which it rests. But look what the ornamentation is;--fruit
and leaves, abundant, in the mouth of a cornucopia. A quite vulgar and
meaningless ornament in ordinary renaissance work. Is it so here, think
you? Are not the leaves and fruits of earth in the Sun's hand?[AN]

You thought, perhaps, when I spoke just now of the action of the right
hand, that less than a depression of the wrist would stop horses such as
those. You fancy Botticelli drew them so, because he had never seen a
horse; or because, able to draw fingers, he could not draw hoofs! How
fine it would be to have, instead, a prancing four-in-hand, in the style
of Piccadilly on the Derby-day, or at least horses like the real Greek
horses of the Parthenon!

Yes; and if they had had real ground to trot on, the Florentine would
have shown you he knew how they should trot. But these have to make
their way up the hill-side of other lands. Look to the example in your
standard series, Hermes Eriophoros. You will find his motion among
clouds represented precisely in this laboring, failing, half-kneeling
attitude of limb. These forms, toiling up through the rippled sands of
heaven, are--not horses;--they are clouds themselves, _like_ horses, but
only a little like. Look how their hoofs lose themselves, buried in the
ripples of cloud; it makes one think of the quicksands of Morecambe Bay.

And their tails--what extraordinary tufts of tails, ending in points!
Yes; but do you not see, nearly joining with them, what is not a horse
tail at all; but a flame of fire, kindled at Apollo's knee? All the rest
of the radiance about him shoots _from_ him. But this is rendered _up_
to him. As the fruits of the earth are in one of his hands, its fire is
in the other. And all the warmth, as well as all the light of it, are

We had a little natural philosophy, gentlemen, as well as theology, in
Florence, once upon a time.

161. Natural philosophy, and also natural art, for in this the Greek
reanimate was a nobler creature than the Greek who had died. His art had
a wider force and warmer glow. I have told you that the first Greeks
were distinguished from the barbarians by their simple humanity; the
second Greeks--these Florentine Greeks reanimate--are human more
strongly, more deeply, leaping from the Byzantine death at the call of
Christ, "Loose him, and let him go." And there is upon them at once the
joy of resurrection, and the solemnity of the grave.

[Illustration: VI.

Fairness of the Sea and Air.


162. Of this resurrection of the Greek, and the form of the tomb he had
been buried in "those four days," I have to give you some account in the
last lecture. I will only to-day show you an illustration of it which
brings us back to our immediate question as to the reasons why Northern
art could not accept classicism. When, in the closing lecture of "Aratra
Pentelici,"[AO] I compared Florentine with Greek work, it was to point
out to you the eager passions of the first as opposed to the formal
legalism and proprieties of the other. Greek work, I told you, while
truthful, was also restrained, and never but under majesty of law; while
Gothic work was true, in the perfect law of Liberty or Franchise. And
now I give you in facsimile (Plate VI.) the two Aphrodites thus
compared--the Aphrodite Thalassia of the Tyrrhene seas, and the
Aphrodite Urania of the Greek skies. You may not at first like the
Tuscan best; and why she is the best, though both are noble, again I
must defer explaining to next lecture. But now turn back to Bewick's
Venus, and compare her with the Tuscan Venus of the Stars, (Plate II.);
and then here, in Plate VI., with the Tuscan Venus of the Seas, and the
Greek Venus of the Sky. Why is the English one vulgar? What is it, in
the three others, which makes them, if not beautiful, at least
refined?--every one of them 'designed' and drawn, indisputably, by a

I never have been so puzzled by any subject of analysis as, for these
ten years, I have been by this. Every answer I give, however plausible
it seems at first, fails in some way, or in some cases. But there is
the point for you, more definitely put, I think, than in any of my
former books;--at present, for want of time, I must leave it to your own

163. II. The second influence under which engraving developed itself, I
said, was that of medicine and the physical sciences. Gentlemen, the
most audacious, and the most valuable, statement which I have yet made
to you on the subject of practical art, in these rooms, is that of the
evil resulting from the study of anatomy. It is a statement so
audacious, that not only for some time I dared not make it to you, but
for ten years, at least, I dared not make it to myself. I saw, indeed,
that whoever studied anatomy was in a measure injured by it; but I kept
attributing the mischief to secondary causes. It _can't_ be this drink
itself that poisons them, I said always. This drink is medicinal and
strengthening: I see that it kills them, but it must be because they
drink it cold when they have been hot, or they take something else with
it that changes it into poison. The drink itself _must_ be good. Well,
gentlemen, I found out the drink itself to be poison at last, by the
breaking of my choicest Venice glass. I could not make out what it was
that had killed Tintoret, and laid it long to the charge of chiaroscuro.
It was only after my thorough study of his Paradise, in 1870, that I
gave up this idea, finding the chiaroscuro, which I had thought
exaggerated, was, in all original and undarkened passages, beautiful and
most precious. And then at last I got hold of the true clue: "Il disegno
di Michel Agnolo." And the moment I had dared to accuse that, it
explained everything; and I saw that the betraying demons of Italian
art, led on by Michael Angelo, had been, not pleasure, but knowledge;
not indolence, but ambition; and not love, but horror.

164. But when first I ventured to tell you this, I did not know, myself,
the fact of all most conclusive for its confirmation. It will take me a
little while to put it before you in its total force, and I must first
ask your attention to a minor point. In one of the smaller rooms of the
Munich Gallery is Holbein's painting of St. Margaret and St. Elizabeth
of Hungary,--standard of his early religious work. Here is a photograph
from the St. Elizabeth; and, in the same frame, a French lithograph of
it. I consider it one of the most important pieces of comparison I have
arranged for you, showing you at a glance the difference between true
and false sentiment. Of that difference, generally, we cannot speak
to-day, but one special result of it you are to observe;--the omission,
in the French drawing, of Holbein's daring representation of disease,
which is one of the vital honors of the picture. Quite one of the chief
strengths of St. Elizabeth, in the Roman Catholic view, was in the
courage of her dealing with disease, chiefly leprosy. Now observe, I say
_Roman_ Catholic view, very earnestly just now; I am not at all sure
that it is so in a Catholic view--that is to say, in an eternally
Christian and Divine view. And this doubt, very nearly now a certainty,
only came clearly into my mind the other day after many and many a
year's meditation on it. I had read with great reverence all the
beautiful stories about Christ's appearing as a leper, and the like; and
had often pitied and rebuked myself alternately for my intense dislike
and horror of disease. I am writing at this moment within fifty yards of
the grave of St. Francis, and the story of the likeness of his feelings
to mine had a little comforted me, and the tradition of his conquest of
them again humiliated me; and I was thinking very gravely of this, and
of the parallel instance of Bishop Hugo of Lincoln, always desiring to
do service to the dead, as opposed to my own unmitigated and
Louis-Quinze-like horror of funerals;--when by chance, in the cathedral
of Palermo, a new light was thrown for me on the whole matter.

165. I was drawing the tomb of Frederick II., which is shut off by a
grating from the body of the church; and I had, in general, quite an
unusual degree of quiet and comfort at my work. But sometimes it was
paralyzed by the unconscious interference of one of the men employed in
some minor domestic services about the church. When he had nothing to
do, he used to come and seat himself near my grating, not to look at my
work, (the poor wretch had no eyes, to speak of,) nor in any way
meaning to be troublesome; but there was his habitual seat. His nose had
been carried off by the most loathsome of diseases; there were two vivid
circles of scarlet round his eyes; and as he sat, he announced his
presence every quarter of a minute (if otherwise I could have forgotten
it) by a peculiarly disgusting, loud, and long expectoration. On the
second or third day, just I had forced myself into some forgetfulness of
him, and was hard at my work, I was startled from it again by the
bursting out of a loud and cheerful conversation close to me; and on
looking round, saw a lively young fledgling of a priest, seventeen or
eighteen years old, in the most eager and spirited chat with the man in
the chair. He talked, laughed, and spat, himself, companionably, in the
merriest way, for a quarter of an hour; evidently without feeling the
slightest disgust, or being made serious for an instant, by the aspect
of the destroyed creature before him.

166. His own face was simply that of the ordinary vulgar type of
thoughtless young Italians, rather beneath than above the usual
standard; and I was certain, as I watched him, that he was not at all my
superior, but very much my inferior, in the coolness with which he
beheld what was to me so dreadful. I was positive that he could look
this man in the face, precisely because he could _not_ look,
discerningly, at any beautiful or noble thing; and that the reason I
dared not, was because I had, spiritually, as much better eyes than the
priest, as, bodily, than his companion.

Having got so much of clear evidence given me on the matter, it was
driven home for me a week later, as I landed on the quay of Naples.
Almost the first thing that presented itself to me was the sign of a
traveling theatrical company, displaying the principal scene of the
drama to be enacted on their classical stage. Fresh from the theater of
Taormina, I was curious to see the subject of the Neapolitan popular
drama. It was the capture, by the police, of a man and his wife who
lived by boiling children. One section of the police was coming in,
armed to the teeth, through the passage; another section of the police,
armed to the teeth, and with high feathers in its caps, was coming up
through a trap-door. In fine dramatic unconsciousness to the last
moment, like the clown in a pantomime, the child-boiler was represented
as still industriously chopping up a child, pieces of which, ready for
the pot, lay here and there on the table in the middle of the picture.
The child-boiler's wife, however, just as she was taking the top off the
pot to put the meat in, had caught a glimpse of the foremost policeman,
and stopped, as much in rage as in consternation.

167. Now it is precisely the same feeling, or want of feeling, in the
lower Italian (nor always in the lower classes only) which makes him
demand the kind of subject for his secular drama; and the Crucifixion
and Pietà for his religious drama. The only part of Christianity he can
enjoy is its horror; and even the saint and saintess are not always
denying themselves severely, either by the contemplation of torture, or
the companionship with disease.

Nevertheless, we must be cautious, on the other hand, to allow full
value to the endurance, by tender and delicate persons, of what is
really loathsome or distressful to them in the service of others; and I
think this picture of Holbein's indicative of the exact balance and
rightness of his own mind in this matter, and therefore of his power to
conceive a true saint also. He had to represent St. Catherine's chief
effort;--he paints her ministering to the sick, and, among them, is a
leper; and finding it thus his duty to paint leprosy, he courageously
himself studies it from the life. Not to insist on its horror; but to
assert it, to the needful point of fact, which he does with medical

Now here is just a case in which science, in a subordinate degree, is
really required for a spiritual and moral purpose. And you find Holbein
does not shrink from it even in this extreme case in which it is most

168. If, therefore, you _do_ find him in other cases not using it, you
may be sure he knew it to be unnecessary.

Now it may be disputable whether in order to draw a living Madonna, one
needs to know how many ribs she has; but it would have seemed
indisputable that in order to draw a skeleton, one must know how many
ribs _it_ has.

Holbein is par excellence the draughtsman of skeletons. His painted
Dance of Death was, and his engraved Dance of Death is, principal of
such things, without any comparison or denial. He draws skeleton after
skeleton, in every possible gesture; but never so much as counts their
ribs! He neither knows nor cares how many ribs a skeleton has. There are
always enough to rattle.

Monstrous, you think, in impudence,--Holbein for his carelessness, and I
for defending him! Nay, I triumph in him; nothing has ever more pleased
me than this grand negligence. Nobody wants to know how many ribs a
skeleton has, any more than how many bars a gridiron has, so long as the
one can breathe, and the other broil; and still less, when the breath
and the fire are both out.

169. But is it only of the bones, think you, that Holbein is
careless?[AP] Nay, incredible though it may seem to you,--but, to me,
explanatory at once of much of his excellence,--he did not know anatomy
at all! I told you in my Preface,[AQ] already quoted, Holbein studies
the face first, the body secondarily; but I had no idea, myself, how
completely he had refused the venomous science of his day. I showed you
a dead Christ of his, long ago. Can you match it with your academy
drawings, think you? And yet he did not, and would not, know anatomy.
_He_ would not; but Dürer would, and did:--went hotly into it--wrote
books upon it, and upon 'proportions of the human body,' etc., etc., and
all your modern recipes for painting flesh. How did his studies prosper
his art?

People are always talking of his Knight and Death, and his Melancholia,
as if those were his principal works. They are his characteristic ones,
and show what he might have been _without_ his anatomy; but they were
mere by-play compared to his Greater Fortune, and Adam and Eve. Look at
these. Here is his full energy displayed; here are both male and female
forms drawn with perfect knowledge of their bones and muscles, and modes
of action and digestion,--and I hope you are pleased.

But it is not anatomy only that Master Albert studies. He has a taste
for optics also; and knows all about refraction and reflection. What
with his knowledge of the skull inside, and the vitreous lens outside,
if any man in the world is to draw an eye, here's the man to do it,
surely! With a hand which can give lessons to John Bellini, and a care
which would fain do all so that it can't be done better, and
acquaintance with every crack in the cranium, and every humor in the
lens,--if we can't draw an eye, we should just like to know who can!
thinks Albert.

So having to engrave the portrait of Melanchthon, instead of looking at
Melanchthon as ignorant Holbein would have been obliged to do,--wise
Albert looks at the room window; and finds it has four cross-bars in it,
and knows scientifically that the light on Melanchthon's eye must be a
reflection of the window with its four bars--and engraves it so,
accordingly; and who shall dare to say, now, it isn't like Melanchthon?

Unfortunately, however, it isn't, nor like any other person in his
senses; but like a madman looking at somebody who disputes his hobby.
While in this drawing of Holbein's, where a dim gray shadow leaves a
mere crumb of white paper,--accidentally it seems, for all the fine
scientific reflection,--behold, it is an eye indeed, and of a noble

170. What is the reason? do you ask me; and is all the common teaching
about generalization of details true, then?

No; not a syllable of it is true. Holbein is right, not because he draws
more generally, but more truly, than Dürer. Dürer draws what he knows is
there; but Holbein, only what he sees. And, as I have told you often
before, the really scientific artist is he who not only asserts bravely
what he _does_ see, but confesses honestly what he does _not_. You must
not draw all the hairs in an eyelash; not because it is sublime to
generalize them, but because it is impossible to see them. How many
hairs there are, a sign painter or anatomist may count; but how few of
them you can see, it is only the utmost masters, Carpaccio, Tintoret,
Reynolds, and Velasquez, who count, or know.

171. Such was the effect, then, of his science upon Dürer's ideal of
beauty, and skill in portraiture. What effect had it on the temper and
quantity of his work, as compared with poor ignorant Holbein's! You have
only three portraits, by Dürer, of the great men of his time, and those
bad ones; while he toils his soul out to draw the hoofs of satyrs, the
bristles of swine, and the distorted aspects of base women and vicious

What, on the contrary, has ignorant Holbein done for you? Shakespeare
and he divide between them, by word and look, the Story of England under
Henry and Elizabeth.

172. Of the effect of science on the art of Mantegna and Marc Antonio,
(far more deadly than on Dürer's,) I must tell you in a future
lecture;--the effect of it on their minds, I must partly refer to now,
in passing to the third head of my general statement--the influence of
new Theology. For Dürer and Mantegna, chiefly because of their science,
forfeited their place, not only as painters of men, but as servants of
God. Neither of them has left one completely noble or completely
didactic picture; while Holbein and Botticelli, in consummate pieces of
art, led the way before the eyes of all men, to the purification of
their Church and land.

173. III. But the need of reformation presented itself to these two men
last named on entirely different terms.

To Holbein, when the word of the Catholic Church proved false, and its
deeds bloody; when he saw it selling permission of sin in his native
Augsburg, and strewing the ashes of its enemies on the pure Alpine
waters of Constance, what refuge was there for _him_ in more ancient
religion? Shall he worship Thor again, and mourn over the death of
Balder? He reads Nature in her desolate and narrow truth, and she
teaches him the Triumph of Death.

But, for Botticelli, the grand gods are old, are immortal. The priests
may have taught falsely the story of the Virgin;--did they not also lie,
in the name of Artemis, at Ephesus;--in the name of Aphrodite, at
Cyprus?--but shall, therefore, Chastity or Love be dead, or the full
moon paler over Arno? Saints of Heaven and Gods of Earth!--shall _these_
perish because vain men speak evil of them! Let _us_ speak good forever,
and grave, as on the rock, for ages to come, the glory of Beauty, and
the triumph of Faith.

174. Holbein had bitterer task.

Of old, the one duty of the painter had been to exhibit the virtues of
this life, and hopes of the life to come. Holbein had to show the vices
of this life, and to obscure the hope of the future. "Yes, we walk
through the valley of the shadow of death, and fear all evil, for Thou
art not with us, and Thy rod and Thy staff comfort us not." He does not
choose this task. It is thrust upon him,--just as fatally as the burial
of the dead is in a plague-struck city. These are the things he sees,
and must speak. He will not become a better artist thereby; no drawing
of supreme beauty, or beautiful things, will be possible to him. Yet we
cannot say he ought to have done anything else, nor can we praise him
specially in doing this. It is his fate; the fate of all the bravest in
that day.

[Illustration: THE CHILD'S BEDTIME.

(Fig. 5) Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.]

175. For instance, there is no scene about which a shallow and feeble
painter would have been more sure to adopt the commonplaces of the creed
of his time than the death of a child,--chiefly, and most of all, the
death of a country child,--a little thing fresh from the cottage and the
field. Surely for such an one, angels will wait by its sick bed, and
rejoice as they bear its soul away; and over its shroud flowers will be
strewn, and the birds will sing by its grave. So your common
sentimentalist would think, and paint. Holbein sees the facts, as they
verily are, up to the point when vision ceases. He speaks, then, no

The country laborer's cottage--the rain coming through its roof, the
clay crumbling from its partitions, the fire lighted with a few chips
and sticks on a raised piece of the mud floor,--such dais as can be
contrived, for use, not for honor. The damp wood sputters; the smoke,
stopped by the roof, though the rain is not, coils round again, and
down. But the mother can warm the child's supper of bread and milk
so--holding the pan by the long handle; and on mud floor though it be,
they are happy,--she, and her child, and its brother,--if only they
could be left so. They shall not be left so: the young thing must leave
them--will never need milk warmed for it any more. It would fain
stay,--sees no angels--feels only an icy grip on its hand, and that it
cannot stay. Those who loved it shriek and tear their hair in vain,
amazed in grief. 'Oh, little one, must you lie out in the fields then,
not even under this poor torn roof of thy mother's to-night?'


(Fig. 6) Facsimile from Holbein's woodcut.]

176. Again: there was not in the old creed any subject more definitely
and constantly insisted on than the death of a miser. He had been happy,
the old preachers thought, till then: but his hour has come; and the
black covetousness of hell is awake and watching; the sharp harpy claws
will clutch his soul out of his mouth, and scatter his treasure for
others. So the commonplace preacher and painter taught. Not so Holbein.
The devil want to snatch his soul, indeed! Nay, he never _had_ a soul,
but of the devil's giving. His misery to begin on his death-bed! Nay, he
had never an unmiserable hour of life. The fiend is with him now,--a
paltry, abortive fiend, with no breath even to blow hot with. He
supplies the hell-blast _with a machine_. It is winter, and the rich man
has his furred cloak and cap, thick and heavy; the beggar, bare-headed
to beseech him, skin and rags hanging about him together, touches his
shoulder, but all in vain; there is other business in hand. More haggard
than the beggar himself, wasted and palsied, the rich man counts with
his fingers the gain of the years to come.

But of those years, infinite that are to be, Holbein says nothing. 'I
know not; I see not. This only I see, on this very winter's day, the low
pale stumbling-block at your feet, the altogether by you unseen and
forgotten Death. You shall not pass _him_ by on the other side; here is
a fasting figure in skin and bone, at last, that will stop you; and for
all the hidden treasures of earth, here is your spade: dig now, and find

177. I have said that Holbein was condemned to teach these things. He
was not happy in teaching them, nor thanked for teaching them. Nor was
Botticelli for his lovelier teaching. But they both could do no
otherwise. They lived in truth and steadfastness; and with both, in
their marvelous design, veracity is the beginning of invention, and love
its end.

I have but time to show you, in conclusion, how this affectionate
self-forgetfulness protects Holbein from the chief calamity of the
German temper, vanity, which is at the root of all Dürer's weakness.
Here is a photograph of Holbein's portrait of Erasmus, and a fine proof
of Dürer's. In Holbein's, the face leads everything; and the most lovely
qualities of the face lead in that. The cloak and cap are perfectly
painted, just because you look at them neither more nor less than you
would have looked at the cloak in reality. You don't say, 'How
brilliantly they are touched,' as you would with Rembrandt; nor 'How
gracefully they are neglected,' as you would with Gainsborough; nor 'How
exquisitely they are shaded,' as you would with Lionardo; nor 'How
grandly they are composed,' as you would with Titian. You say only,
'Erasmus is surely there; and what a pleasant sight!' You don't think of
Holbein at all. He has not even put in the minutest letter H, that I can
see, to remind you of him. Drops his H's, I regret to say, often enough.
'My hand should be enough for you; what matters my name?' But now, look
at Dürer's. The very first thing you see, and at any distance, is this
great square tablet with

    "The image of Erasmus, drawn from the life by Albert Dürer,

and a great straddling A.D. besides. Then you see a cloak, and a table,
and a pot, with flowers in it, and a heap of books with all their
leaves and all their clasps, and all the little bits of leather gummed
in to mark the places; and last of all you see Erasmus's face; and when
you do see it, the most of it is wrinkles.

All egotism and insanity, this, gentlemen. Hard words to use; but not
too hard to define the faults which rendered so much of Dürer's great
genius abortive, and to this day paralyze, among the details of a
lifeless and ambitious precision, the student, no less than the artist,
of German blood. For too many an Erasmus, too many a Dürer, among them,
the world is all cloak and clasp, instead of face or book; and the first
object of their lives is to engrave their initials.

178. For us, in England, not even so much is at present to be hoped; and
yet, singularly enough, it is more our modesty, unwisely submissive,
than our vanity, which has destroyed our English school of engraving.

At the bottom of the pretty line engravings which used to represent,
characteristically, our English skill, one saw always _two_
inscriptions. At the left-hand corner, "Drawn by--so-and-so;" at the
right-hand corner, "Engraved by--so-and-so." Only under the worst and
cheapest plates--for the Stationers' Almanack, or the like--one saw
sometimes, "Drawn and engraved by--so-and-so," which meant nothing more
than that the publisher would not go to the expense of an artist, and
that the engraver haggled through as he could. (One fortunate exception,
gentlemen, you have in the old drawings for your Oxford Almanack, though
the publishers, I have no doubt, even in that case, employed the
cheapest artist they could find.[AR]) But in general, no engraver
thought himself able to draw; and no artist thought it his business to

179. But the fact that this and the following lecture are on the subject
of design in engraving, implies of course that in the work we have to
examine, it was often the engraver himself who designed, and as often
the artist who engraved.

And you will observe that the only engravings which bear imperishable
value are, indeed, in this kind. It is true that, in wood-cutting, both
Dürer and Holbein, as in our own days Leech and Tenniel, have workmen
under them who can do all they want. But in metal cutting it is not so.
For, as I have told you, in metal cutting, ultimate perfection of Line
has to be reached; and it can be reached by none but a master's hand;
nor by his, unless in the very moment and act of designing. Never,
unless under the vivid first force of imagination and intellect, can the
Line have its full value. And for this high reason, gentlemen, that
paradox which perhaps seemed to you so daring, is nevertheless deeply
and finally true, that while a woodcut may be laboriously finished, a
grand engraving on metal must be comparatively incomplete. For it must
be done, throughout, with the full fire of temper in it, visibly
governing its lines, as the wind does the fibers of cloud.

180. The value hitherto attached to Rembrandt's etchings, and others
imitating them, depends on a true instinct in the public mind for this
virtue of line. But etching is an indolent and blundering method at the
best; and I do not doubt that you will one day be grateful for the
severe disciplines of drawing required in these schools, in that they
will have enabled you to know what a line may be, driven by a master's
chisel on silver or marble, following, and fostering as it follows, the
instantaneous strength of his determined thought.


[AG] If you paint a bottle only to amuse the spectator by showing him
how like a painting may be to a bottle, you cannot be considered, in
art-philosophy, as a designer. But if you paint the cork flying out of
the bottle, and the contents arriving in an arch at the mouth of a
recipient glass, you are so far forth a designer or signer; probably
meaning to express certain ultimate facts respecting, say, the
hospitable disposition of the landlord of the house; but at all events
representing the bottle and glass in a designed, and not merely natural,
manner. Not merely natural--nay, in some sense non-natural, or
supernatural. And all great artists show both this fantastic condition
of mind in their work, and show that it has arisen out of a
communicative or didactic purpose. They are the Signpainters of God.

I have added this note to the lecture in copying my memoranda of it here
at Assisi, June 9th, being about to begin work in the Tavern, or
Tabernaculum, of the Lower Church, with its variously significant four
great 'signs.'

[AH] Plate X., Lecture VI.

[AI] I do not mean the greatest teacher of reformed faith; but the
greatest protestant against faith unreformed.

[AJ] It has become the permitted fashion among modern mathematicians,
chemists, and apothecaries, to call themselves 'scientific men,' as
opposed to theologians, poets, and artists. They know their sphere to be
a separate one; but their ridiculous notion of its being a peculiarly
scientific one ought not to be allowed in our Universities. There is a
science of Morals, a science of History, a science of Grammar, a science
of Music, and a science of Painting; and all these are quite beyond
comparison higher fields for human intellect, and require accuracies of
intenser observation, than either chemistry, electricity, or geology.

[AK] The Cumaean Sibyl, Plate VII., Lecture VI.

[AL] Lecture III., § 101.

[AM] I read somewhere, lately, a new and very ingenious theory about the
attitude of the Apollo Belvedere, proving, to the author's satisfaction,
that the received notion about watching the arrow was all a mistake. The
paper proved, at all events, one thing--namely, the statement in the
text. For an attitude which has been always hitherto taken to mean one
thing, and is plausibly asserted now to mean another, must be in itself

[AN] It may be asked, why not corn also? Because that belongs to Ceres,
who is equally one of the great gods.

[AO] "Aratra Pentelici," § 181.

[AP] Or inventive! See Woltmann, p. 267. "The shinbone, or the lower
part of the arm, exhibits only one bone, while the upper arm and thigh
are often allowed the luxury of two!"

[AQ] See ante, § 141. The "preface" is that to "The Eagle's Nest."

[AR] The drawings were made by Turner, and are now among the chief
treasures of the Oxford Galleries. I ought to add some notice of Hogarth
to this lecture in the Appendix; but fear I shall have no time: besides,
though I have profound respect for Hogarth, as, in literature, I have
for Fielding, I can't criticise them, because I know nothing of their

                         LECTURE VI.


181. In the first of these lectures, I stated to you their subject, as
the investigation of the engraved work of a group of men, to whom
engraving, as a means of popular address, was above all precious,
because their art was distinctively didactic.

Some of my hearers must be aware that, of late years, the assertion that
art should be didactic has been clamorously and violently derided by the
countless crowd of artists who have nothing to represent, and of writers
who have nothing to say; and that the contrary assertion--that art
consists only in pretty colors and fine words,--is accepted, readily
enough, by a public which rarely pauses to look at a picture with
attention, or read a sentence with understanding.

182. Gentlemen, believe me, there never was any great advancing art yet,
nor can be, without didactic purpose. The leaders of the strong schools
are, and must be always, either teachers of theology, or preachers of
the moral law. I need not tell you that it was as teachers of theology
on the walls of the Vatican that the masters with whose names you are
most familiar obtained their perpetual fame. But however great their
fame, you have not practically, I imagine, ever been materially assisted
in your preparation for the schools either of philosophy or divinity by
Raphael's 'School of Athens,' by Raphael's 'Theology,'--or by Michael
Angelo's 'Judgment.' My task, to-day, is to set before you some part of
the design of the first Master of the works in the Sistine Chapel; and I
believe that, from his teaching, you will, even in the hour which I ask
you now to give, learn what may be of true use to you in all your future
labor, whether in Oxford or elsewhere.

183. You have doubtless, in the course of these lectures, been
occasionally surprised by my speaking of Holbein and Sandro Botticelli,
as Reformers, in the same tone of respect, and with the same implied
assertion of their intellectual power and agency, with which it is usual
to speak of Luther and Savonarola. You have been accustomed, indeed, to
hear painting and sculpture spoken of as supporting or enforcing Church
doctrine; but never as reforming or chastising it. Whether Protestant or
Roman Catholic, you have admitted what in the one case you held to be
the abuse of painting in the furtherance of idolatry,--in the other, its
amiable and exalting ministry to the feebleness of faith. But neither
has recognized,--the Protestant his ally,--or the Catholic his enemy, in
the far more earnest work of the great painters of the fifteenth
century. The Protestant was, in most cases, too vulgar to understand the
aid offered to him by painting; and in all cases too terrified to
believe in it. He drove the gift-bringing Greek with imprecations from
his sectarian fortress, or received him within it only on the condition
that he should speak no word of religion there.

184. On the other hand, the Catholic, in most cases too indolent to
read, and, in all, too proud to dread, the rebuke of the reforming
painters, confused them with the crowd of his old flatterers, and little
noticed their altered language or their graver brow. In a little while,
finding they had ceased to be amusing, he effaced their works, not as
dangerous, but as dull; and recognized only thenceforward, as art, the
innocuous bombast of Michael Angelo, and fluent efflorescence of
Bernini. But when you become more intimately and impartially acquainted
with the history of the Reformation, you will find that, as surely and
earnestly as Memling and Giotto strove in the north and south to set
forth and exalt the Catholic faith, so surely and earnestly did Holbein
and Botticelli strive, in the north, to chastise, and, in the south, to
revive it. In what manner, I will try to-day briefly to show you.

185. I name these two men as the reforming leaders: there were many,
rank and file, who worked in alliance with Holbein; with Botticelli, two
great ones, Lippi and Perugino. But both of these had so much pleasure
in their own pictorial faculty, that they strove to keep quiet, and out
of harm's way,--involuntarily manifesting themselves sometimes, however;
and not in the wisest manner. Lippi's running away with a novice was not
likely to be understood as a step in Church reformation correspondent to
Luther's marriage.[AS] Nor have Protestant divines, even to this day,
recognized the real meaning of the reports of Perugino's 'infidelity.'
Botticelli, the pupil of the one, and the companion of the other, held
the truths they taught him through sorrow as well as joy; and he is the
greatest of the reformers, because he preached without blame; though the
least known, because he died without victory.

I had hoped to be able to lay before you some better biography of him
than the traditions of Vasari, of which I gave a short abstract some
time back in Fors Clavigera (Letter XXII.); but as yet I have only added
internal evidence to the popular story, the more important points of
which I must review briefly. It will not waste your time if I
read,--instead of merely giving you reference to,--the passages on which
I must comment.

186. "His father, Mariano Filipepi, a Florentine citizen, brought him up
with care, and caused him to be instructed in all such things as are
usually taught to children before they choose a calling. But although
the boy readily acquired whatever he wished to learn, yet was he
constantly discontented; neither would he take any pleasure in reading,
writing, or accounts, insomuch that the father, disturbed by the
eccentric habits of his son, turned him over in despair to a gossip of
his, called Botticello, who was a goldsmith, and considered a very
competent master of his art, to the intent that the boy might learn the

"He took no pleasure in reading, writing, nor accounts"! You will find
the same thing recorded of Cimabue; but it is more curious when stated
of a man whom I cite to you as typically a gentleman and a scholar. But
remember, in those days, though there were not so many entirely correct
books issued by the Religious Tract Society for boys to read, there were
a great many more pretty things in the world for boys to see. The Val
d'Arno was Pater-noster Row to purpose; their Father's Row, with books
of His writing on the mountain shelves. And the lad takes to looking at
things, and thinking about them, instead of reading about them,--which I
commend to you also, as much the more scholarly practice of the two. To
the end, though he knows all about the celestial hierarchies, he is not
strong in his letters, nor in his dialect. I asked Mr. Tyrwhitt to help
me through with a bit of his Italian the other day. Mr. Tyrwhitt could
only help me by suggesting that it was "Botticelli for so-and-so." And
one of the minor reasons which induced me so boldly to attribute these
sibyls to him, instead of Bandini, is that the lettering is so ill done.
The engraver would assuredly have had his lettering all right,--or at
least neat. Botticelli blunders through it, scratches impatiently out
when he goes wrong: and as I told you there's no repentance in the
engraver's trade, leaves all the blunders visible.

187. I may add one fact bearing on this question lately communicated to
me.[AT] In the autumn of 1872 I possessed myself of an Italian book of
pen drawings, some, I have no doubt, by Mantegna in his youth, others by
Sandro himself. In examining these, I was continually struck by the
comparatively feeble and blundering way in which the titles were
written, while all the rest of the handling was really superb; and still
more surprised when, on the sleeves and hem of the robe of one of the
principal figures of women, ("Helena rapita da Paris,") I found what
seemed to be meant for inscriptions, intricately embroidered; which
nevertheless, though beautifully drawn, I could not read. In copying
Botticelli's Zipporah this spring, I found the border of her robe
wrought with characters of the same kind, which a young painter, working
with me, who already knows the minor secrets of Italian art better than
I,[AU] assures me are letters,--and letters of a language hitherto

188. "There was at that time a close connection and almost constant
intercourse between the goldsmiths and the painters, wherefore Sandro,
who possessed considerable ingenuity, and was strongly disposed to the
arts of design, became enamored of painting, and resolved to devote
himself entirely to that vocation. He acknowledged his purpose at once
to his father; and the latter, who knew the force of his inclination,
took him accordingly to the Carmelite monk, Fra Filippo, who was a most
excellent painter of that time, with whom he placed him to study the
art, as Sandro himself had desired. Devoting himself thereupon entirely
to the vocation he had chosen, Sandro so closely followed the
directions, and imitated the manner, of his master, that Fra Filippo
conceived a great love for him, and instructed him so effectually, that
Sandro rapidly attained to such a degree in art as none would have
predicted for him."

I have before pointed out to you the importance of training by the
goldsmith. Sandro got more good of it, however, than any of the other
painters so educated,--being enabled by it to use gold for light to
color, in a glowing harmony never reached with equal perfection, and
rarely attempted, in the later schools. To the last, his paintings are
partly treated as work in niello; and he names himself, in perpetual
gratitude, from this first artisan master. Nevertheless, the fortunate
fellow finds, at the right moment, another, even more to his mind, and
is obedient to him through his youth, as to the other through his
childhood. And this master loves him; and instructs him 'so
effectually,'--in grinding colors, do you suppose, only; or in laying of
lines only; or in anything more than these?

189. I will tell you what Lippi must have taught any boy whom he loved.
First, humility, and to live in joy and peace, injuring no man--if such
innocence might be. Nothing is so manifest in every face by him, as its
gentleness and rest. Secondly, to finish his work perfectly, and in such
temper that the angels might say of it--not he himself--'Iste perfecit
opus.' Do you remember what I told you in the Eagle's Nest (§ 53), that
true humility was in hoping that angels might sometimes admire _our_
work; not in hoping that we should ever be able to admire _theirs_?
Thirdly,--a little thing it seems, but was a great one,--love of
flowers. No one draws such lilies or such daisies as Lippi. Botticelli
beat him afterwards in roses, but never in lilies. Fourthly, due honor
for classical tradition. Lippi is the only religious painter who dresses
John Baptist in the camelskin, as the Greeks dressed Heracles in the
lion's--over the head. Lastly, and chiefly of all,--Le Père Hyacinthe
taught his pupil certain views about the doctrine of the Church, which
the boy thought of more deeply than his tutor, and that by a great deal;
and Master Sandro presently got himself into such question for painting
heresy, that if he had been as hot-headed as he was true-hearted, he
would soon have come to bad end by the tar-barrel. But he is so sweet
and so modest, that nobody is frightened; so clever, that everybody is
pleased: and at last, actually the Pope sends for him to paint his own
private chapel,--where the first thing my young gentleman does, mind
you, is to paint the devil in a monk's dress, tempting Christ! The
sauciest thing, out and out, done in the history of the Reformation, it
seems to me; yet so wisely done, and with such true respect otherwise
shown for what was sacred in the Church, that the Pope didn't mind: and
all went on as merrily as marriage bells.

190. I have anticipated, however, in telling you this, the proper course
of his biography, to which I now return.

"While still a youth he painted the figure of Fortitude, among those
pictures of the Virtues which Antonio and Pietro Pollaiuolo were
executing in the Mercatanzia, or Tribunal of Commerce, in Florence. In
Santo Spirito, a church of the same city, he painted a picture for the
chapel of the Bardi family: this work he executed with great diligence,
and finished it very successfully, depicting certain olive and palm
trees therein with extraordinary care."

It is by a beautiful chance that the first work of his, specified by his
Italian biographer, should be the Fortitude.[AV] Note also what is said
of his tree drawing.

"Having, in consequence of this work, obtained much credit and
reputation, Sandro was appointed by the Guild of Porta Santa Maria to
paint a picture in San Marco, the subject of which is the Coronation of
Our Lady, who is surrounded by a choir of angels--the whole extremely
well designed, and finished by the artist with infinite care. He
executed various works in the Medici Palace for the elder Lorenzo, more
particularly a figure of Pallas on a shield wreathed with vine branches,
whence flames are proceeding: this he painted of the size of life. A San
Sebastiano was also among the most remarkable of the works executed for
Lorenzo. In the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Florence, is a Pietà,
with small figures, by this master: this is a very beautiful work. For
different houses in various parts of the city Sandro painted many
pictures of a round form, with numerous figures of women undraped. Of
these there are still two examples at Castello, a villa of the Duke
Cosimo,--one representing the birth of Venus, who is borne to earth by
the Loves and Zephyrs; the second also presenting the figure of Venus
crowned with flowers by the Graces: she is here intended to denote the
Spring, and the allegory is expressed by the painter with extraordinary

Our young Reformer enters, it seems, on a very miscellaneous course of
study; the Coronation of Our Lady; St. Sebastian; Pallas in
vine-leaves; and Venus,--without fig-leaves. Not wholly Calvinistic, Fra
Filippo's teaching seems to have been! All the better for the boy--being
such a boy as he was: but I cannot in this lecture enter farther into my
reasons for saying so.

191. Vasari, however, has shot far ahead in telling us of this picture
of the Spring, which is one of Botticelli's completest works. Long
before he was able to paint Greek nymphs, he had done his best in
idealism of greater spirits; and, while yet quite a youth, painted, at
Castello, the Assumption of Our Lady, with "the patriarchs, the
prophets, the apostles, the evangelists, the martyrs, the confessors,
the doctors, the virgins, and the hierarchies!"

Imagine this subject proposed to a young, (or even old) British Artist,
for his next appeal to public sensation at the Academy! But do you
suppose that the young British artist is wiser and more civilized than
Lippi's scholar, because his only idea of a patriarch is of a man with a
long beard; of a doctor, the M.D. with the brass plate over the way; and
of a virgin, Miss ---- of the ---- theater?

Not that even Sandro was able, according to Vasari's report, to conduct
the entire design himself. The proposer of the subject assisted him; and
they made some modifications in the theology, which brought them both
into trouble--so early did Sandro's innovating work begin, into which
subjects our gossiping friend waives unnecessary inquiry, as follows.

"But although this picture is exceedingly beautiful, and ought to have
put envy to shame, yet there were found certain malevolent and
censorious persons who, not being able to affix any other blame to the
work, declared that Matteo and Sandro had erred gravely in that matter,
and had fallen into grievous heresy.

"Now, whether this be true or not, let none expect the judgment of that
question from me: it shall suffice me to note that the figures executed
by Sandro in that work are entirely worthy of praise; and that the pains
he took in depicting those circles of the heavens must have been very
great, to say nothing of the angels mingled with the other figures, or
of the various foreshortenings, all which are designed in a very good

"About this time Sandro received a commission to paint a small picture
with figures three parts of a braccio high,--the subject an Adoration of
the Magi.

"It is indeed a most admirable work; the composition, the design, and
the coloring are so beautiful that every artist who examines it is
astonished; and, at the time, it obtained so great a name in Florence,
and other places, for the master, that Pope Sixtus IV. having erected
the chapel built by him in his palace at Rome, and desiring to have it
adorned with paintings, commanded that Sandro Botticelli should be
appointed Superintendent of the work."

192. Vasari's words, "about this time," are evidently wrong. It must
have been many and many a day after he painted Matteo's picture that he
took such high standing in Florence as to receive the mastership of the
works in the Pope's chapel at Rome. Of his position and doings there, I
will tell you presently; meantime, let us complete the story of his

"By these works Botticelli obtained great honor and reputation among the
many competitors who were laboring with him, whether Florentines or
natives of other cities, and received from the Pope a considerable sum
of money; but this he consumed and squandered totally, during his
residence in Rome, where he lived without due care, as was his habit."

193. Well, but one would have liked to hear _how_ he squandered his
money, and whether he was without care--of other things than money.

It is just possible, Master Vasari, that Botticelli may have laid out
his money at higher interest than you know of; meantime, he is advancing
in life and thought, and becoming less and less comprehensible to his
biographer. And at length, having got rid, somehow, of the money he
received from the Pope; and finished the work he had to do, and
uncovered it,--free in conscience, and empty in purse, he returned to
Florence, where, "being a sophistical person, he made a comment on a
part of Dante, and drew the Inferno, and put it in engraving, in which
he consumed much time; and not working for this reason, brought infinite
disorder into his affairs."

194. Unpaid work, this engraving of Dante, you perceive,--consuming much
time also, and not appearing to Vasari to be work at all. It is but a
short sentence, gentlemen,--this, in the old edition of Vasari, and
obscurely worded,--a very foolish person's contemptuous report of a
thing to him totally incomprehensible. But the thing itself is
out-and-out the most important fact in the history of the religious art
of Italy. I can show you its significance in not many more words than
have served to record it.

Botticelli had been painting in Rome; and had expressly chosen to
represent there,--being Master of Works, in the presence of the Defender
of the Faith,--the foundation of the Mosaic law; to his mind the Eternal
Law of God,--that law of which modern Evangelicals sing perpetually
their own original psalm, "Oh, how hate I Thy law! it is my abomination
all the day." Returning to Florence, he reads Dante's vision of the Hell
created by its violation. He knows that the pictures he has painted in
Rome cannot be understood by the people; they are exclusively for the
best trained scholars in the Church. Dante, on the other hand, can only
be read in manuscript; but the people could and would understand _his_
lessons, if they were pictured in accessible and enduring form. He
throws all his own lauded work aside,--all for which he is most honored,
and in which his now matured and magnificent skill is as easy to him as
singing to a perfect musician. And he sets himself to a servile and
despised labor,--his friends mocking him, his resources failing him,
infinite 'disorder' getting into his affairs--of this world.

195. Never such another thing happened in Italy any more. Botticelli
engraved her Pilgrim's Progress for her, putting himself in prison to
do it. She would not read it when done. Raphael and Marc Antonio were
the theologians for her money. Pretty Madonnas, and satyrs with
abundance of tail,--let our pilgrim's progress be in _these_ directions,
if you please.

Botticelli's own pilgrimage, however, was now to be accomplished
triumphantly, with such crowning blessings as Heaven might grant to him.
In spite of his friends and his disordered affairs, he went his own
obstinate way; and found another man's words worth engraving as well as
Dante's; not without perpetuating, also, what he deemed worthy of his

196. What would that be, think you? His chosen works before the Pope in
Rome?--his admired Madonnas in Florence?--his choirs of angels and
thickets of flowers? Some few of these yes, as you shall presently see;
but "the best attempt of this kind from his hand is the Triumph of
Faith, by Fra Girolamo Savonarola, of Ferrara, of whose sect our artist
was so zealous a partisan that he totally abandoned painting, and not
having any other means of living, he fell into very great difficulties.
But his attachment to the party he had adopted increased; he became what
was then called a Piagnone, or Mourner, and abandoned all labor;
insomuch that, finding himself at length become old, being also very
poor, he must have died of hunger had he not been supported by Lorenzo
de' Medici, for whom he had worked at the small hospital of Volterra and
other places, who assisted him while he lived, as did other friends and
admirers of his talents."

197. In such dignity and independence--having employed his talents not
wholly at the orders of the dealer--died, a poor bedesman of Lorenzo de'
Medici, the President of that high academy of art in Rome, whose
Academicians were Perugino, Ghirlandajo, Angelico, and Signorelli; and
whose students, Michael Angelo and Raphael.

'A worthless, ill-conducted fellow on the whole,' thinks Vasari, 'with a
crazy fancy for scratching on copper.'

Well, here are some of the scratches for you to see; only, first, I must
ask you seriously for a few moments to consider what the two powers
were, which, with this iron pen of his, he has set himself to reprove.

198. Two great forms of authority reigned over the entire civilized
world, confessedly, and by name, in the Middle Ages. They reign over it
still, and must forever, though at present very far from confessed; and,
in most places, ragingly denied.

The first power is that of the Teacher, or true Father; the Father 'in
God.' It may be--happy the children to whom it is--the actual father
also; and whose parents have been their tutors. But, for the most part,
it will be some one else who teaches them, and molds their minds and
brain. All such teaching, when true, being from above, and coming down
from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow
of turning, is properly that of the holy Catholic '[Greek: ekklêsia],'
council, church, or papacy, of many fathers in God, not of one.
Eternally powerful and divine; reverenced of all humble and lowly
scholars, in Jewry, in Greece, in Rome, in Gaul, in England, and beyond
sea, from Arctic zone to zone.

The second authority is the power of National Law, enforcing justice in
conduct by due reward and punishment. Power vested necessarily in
magistrates capable of administering it with mercy and equity; whose
authority, be it of many or few, is again divine, as proceeding from the
King of kings, and was acknowledged, throughout civilized Christendom,
as the power of the Holy Empire, or Holy Roman Empire, because first
throned in Rome; but it is forever also acknowledged, namelessly, or by
name, by all loyal, obedient, just, and humble hearts, which truly
desire that, whether for them or against them, the eternal equities and
dooms of Heaven should be pronounced and executed; and as the wisdom or
word of their Father should be taught, so the will of their Father
should be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.

199. You all here know what contention, first, and then what corruption
and dishonor, had paralyzed these two powers before the days of which we
now speak. Reproof, and either reform or rebellion, became necessary
everywhere. The northern Reformers, Holbein, and Luther, and Henry, and
Cromwell, set themselves to their task rudely, and, it might seem,
carried it through. The southern Reformers, Dante, and Savonarola, and
Botticelli, set hand to their task reverently, and, it seemed, did not
by any means carry it through. But the end is not yet.

200. Now I shall endeavor to-day to set before you the art of
Botticelli, especially as exhibiting the modesty of great imagination
trained in reverence, which characterized the southern Reformers; and as
opposed to the immodesty of narrow imagination, trained in self-trust,
which characterized the northern Reformers.

'The modesty of great _imagination_;' that is to say, of the power which
conceives all things in true relation, and not only as they affect
ourselves. I can show you this most definitely by taking one example of
the modern, and unschooled temper, in Bewick;[AW] and setting it beside
Botticelli's treatment of the same subject of thought,--namely, the
meaning of war, and the reforms necessary in the carrying on of war.

201. Both the men are entirely at one in their purpose. They yearn for
peace and justice to rule over the earth, instead of the sword; but see
how differently they will say what is in their hearts to the people they
address. To Bewick, war was more an absurdity than it was a horror: he
had not seen battle-fields, still less had he read of them, in ancient
days. He cared nothing about heroes,--Greek, Roman, or Norman. What he
knew, and saw clearly, was that Farmer Hodge's boy went out of the
village one holiday afternoon, a fine young fellow, rather drunk, with
a colored ribbon in his hat; and came back, ten years afterwards, with
one leg, one eye, an old red coat, and a tobacco-pipe in the pocket of
it. That is what he has got to say, mainly. So, for the pathetic side of
the business, he draws you two old soldiers meeting as bricklayers'
laborers; and for the absurd side of it, he draws a stone, sloping
sideways with age, in a bare field, on which you can just read, out of a
long inscription, the words "glorious victory;" but no one is there to
read them,--only a jackass, who uses the stone to scratch himself

202. Now compare with this Botticelli's reproof of war. _He_ had seen
it, and often; and between noble persons;--knew the temper in which the
noblest knights went out to it;--knew the strength, the patience, the
glory, and the grief of it. He would fain see his Florence in peace; and
yet he knows that the wisest of her citizens are her bravest soldiers.
So he seeks for the ideal of a soldier, and for the greatest glory of
war, that in the presence of these he may speak reverently, what he must
speak. He does not go to Greece for his hero. He is not sure that even
her patriotic wars were always right. But, by his religious faith, he
cannot doubt the nobleness of the soldier who put the children of Israel
in possession of their promised land, and to whom the sign of the
consent of heaven was given by its pausing light in the valley of
Ajalon. Must then setting sun and risen moon stay, he thinks, only to
look upon slaughter? May no soldier of Christ bid them stay otherwise
than so? He draws Joshua, but quitting his hold of the sword: its hilt
rests on his bent knee; and he kneels before the sun, not commands it;
and this is his prayer:--

"Oh, King of kings, and Lord of lords, who alone rulest always in
eternity, and who correctest all our wanderings,--Giver of melody to the
choir of the angels, listen Thou a little to our bitter grief, and come
and rule us, oh Thou highest King, with Thy love which is so sweet!"

Is not that a little better, and a little wiser, than Bewick's jackass?
Is it not also better, and wiser, than the sneer of modern science?
'What great men are we!--we, forsooth, can make almanacs, and know that
the earth turns round. Joshua indeed! Let us have no more talk of the

All Bewick's simplicity is in that; but none of Bewick's understanding.

203. I pass to the attack made by Botticelli upon the guilt of wealth.
So I had at first written; but I should rather have written, the appeal
made by him against the cruelty of wealth, then first attaining the
power it has maintained to this day.

The practice of receiving interest had been confined, until this
fifteenth century, with contempt and malediction, to the profession, so
styled, of usurers, or to the Jews. The merchants of Augsburg introduced
it as a convenient and pleasant practice among Christians also; and
insisted that it was decorous and proper even among respectable
merchants. In the view of the Christian Church of their day, they might
more reasonably have set themselves to defend adultery.[AX] However,
they appointed Dr. John Eck, of Ingoldstadt, to hold debates in all
possible universities, at their expense, on the allowing of interest;
and as these Augsburgers had in Venice their special mart, Fondaco,
called of the Germans, their new notions came into direct collision with
old Venetian ones, and were much hindered by them, and all the more,
because, in opposition to Dr. John Eck, there was preaching on the other
side of the Alps. The Franciscans, poor themselves, preached mercy to
the poor: one of them, Brother Marco of San Gallo, planned the 'Mount of
Pity' for their defense, and the merchants of Venice set up the first in
the world, against the German Fondaco. The dispute burned far on towards
our own times. You perhaps have heard before of one Antonio, a merchant
of Venice, who persistently retained the then obsolete practice of
lending money gratis, and of the peril it brought him into with the
usurers. But you perhaps did not before know why it was the flesh, or
heart of flesh, in him, that they so hated.

204. Against this newly risen demon of authorized usury, Holbein and
Botticelli went out to war together. Holbein, as we have partly seen in
his designs for the Dance of Death, struck with all his soldier's
strength.[AY] Botticelli uses neither satire nor reproach. He turns
altogether away from the criminals; appeals only to heaven for defense
against them. He engraves the design which, of all his work, must have
cost him hardest toil in its execution,--the Virgin praying to her Son
in heaven for pity upon the poor: "For these are also my children."[AZ]
Underneath, are the seven works of Mercy; and in the midst of them, the
building of the Mount of Pity: in the distance lies Italy, mapped in
cape and bay, with the cities which had founded mounts of pity,--Venice
in the distance, chief. Little seen, but engraved with the master's
loveliest care, in the background there is a group of two small
figures--the Franciscan brother kneeling, and an angel of Victory
crowning him.

205. I call it an angel of Victory, observe, with assurance; although
there is no legend claiming victory, or distinguishing this angel from
any other of those which adorn with crowns of flowers the nameless
crowds of the blessed. For Botticelli has other ways of speaking than by
written legends. I know by a glance at this angel that he has taken the
action of it from a Greek coin; and I know also that he had not, in his
own exuberant fancy, the least need to copy the action of any figure
whatever. So I understand, as well as if he spoke to me, that he expects
me, if I am an educated gentleman, to recognize this particular action
as a Greek angel's; and to know that it is a temporal victory which it

206. And now farther, observe, that this classical learning of
Botticelli's, received by him, as I told you, as a native element of his
being, gives not only greater dignity and gentleness, but far wider
range, to his thoughts of Reformation. As he asks for pity from the
cruel Jew to the _poor_ Gentile, so he asks for pity from the proud
Christian to the _untaught_ Gentile. Nay, for more than pity, for
fellowship, and acknowledgment of equality before God. The learned men
of his age in general brought back the Greek mythology as
anti-Christian. But Botticelli and Perugino, as pre-Christian; nor only
as pre-Christian, but as the foundation of Christianity. But chiefly
Botticelli, with perfect grasp of the Mosaic and classic theology,
thought over and seized the harmonies of both; and he it was who gave
the conception of that great choir of the prophets and sibyls, of which
Michael Angelo, more or less ignorantly borrowing it in the Sistine
Chapel, in great part lost the meaning, while he magnified the aspect.

207. For, indeed, all Christian and heathen mythology had alike become
to Michael Angelo only a vehicle for the display of his own powers of
drawing limbs and trunks: and having resolved, and made the world of his
day believe, that all the glory of design lay in variety of difficult
attitude, he flings the naked bodies about his ceiling with an
upholsterer's ingenuity of appliance to the corners they could fit, but
with total absence of any legible meaning. Nor do I suppose that one
person in a million, even of those who have some acquaintance with the
earlier masters, takes patience in the Sistine Chapel to conceive the
original design. But Botticelli's mastership of the works evidently was
given to him as a theologian, even more than as a painter; and the
moment when he came to Rome to receive it, you may hold for the crisis
of the Reformation in Italy. The main effort to save her priesthood was
about to be made by her wisest Reformer,--face to face with the head of
her Church,--not in contest with him, but in the humblest subjection to
him; and in adornment of his own chapel for his own delight, and more
than delight, if it might be.

208. Sandro brings to work, not under him, but with him, the three other
strongest and worthiest men he knows, Perugino, Ghirlandajo, and Luca
Signorelli. There is evidently entire fellowship in thought between
Botticelli and Perugino. They two together plan the whole; and
Botticelli, though the master, yields to Perugino the principal place,
the end of the chapter, on which is to be the Assumption of the Virgin.
It was Perugino's favorite subject, done with his central strength;
assuredly the crowning work of his life, and of lovely Christian art in

Michael Angelo painted it out, and drew devils and dead bodies all over
the wall instead. But there remains to us, happily, the series of
subjects designed by Botticelli to lead up to this lost one.

209. He came, I said, not to attack, but to restore the Papal authority.
To show the power of inherited honor, and universal claim of divine law,
in the Jewish and Christian Church,--the law delivered first by Moses;
then, in final grace and truth, by Christ.

He designed twelve great pictures, each containing some twenty figures
the size of life, and groups of smaller ones scarcely to be counted.
Twelve pictures,--six to illustrate the giving of the law by Moses; and
six, the ratification and completion of it by Christ. Event by event,
the jurisprudence of each dispensation is traced from dawn to close in
this correspondence.

       1. Covenant of Circumcision.
       2. Entrance on his Ministry by Moses.
       3. Moses by the Red Sea.
       4. Delivery of Law on Sinai.
       5. Destruction of Korah.
       6. Death of Moses.
       7. Covenant of Baptism.
       8. Entrance on His Ministry by Christ.
       9. Peter and Andrew by the Sea of Galilee.
      10. Sermon on Mount.
      11. Giving Keys to St. Peter.
      12. Last Supper.

Of these pictures, Sandro painted three himself, Perugino three, and the
Assumption; Ghirlandajo one, Signorelli one, and Rosselli four.[BA] I
believe that Sandro intended to take the roof also, and had sketched out
the main succession of its design; and that the prophets and sibyls
which he meant to paint, he drew first small, and engraved his drawings
afterwards, that some part of the work might be, at all events, thus
communicable to the world outside of the Vatican.

210. It is not often that I tell you my beliefs; but I am forced here,
for there are no dates to found more on. Is it not wonderful that among
all the infinite mass of fools' thoughts about the "majestic works of
Michael Angelo" in the Sistine Chapel, no slightly more rational person
has ever asked what the chapel was first meant to be like, and how it
was to be roofed?

Nor can I assume myself, still less you, that all these prophets and
sibyls are Botticelli's. Of many there are two engravings, with
variations: some are inferior in parts, many altogether. He signed none;
never put grand tablets with 'S. B.' into his skies; had other letters
than those to engrave, and no time to spare. I have chosen out of the
series three of the sibyls, which have, I think, clear internal evidence
of being his; and these you shall compare with Michael Angelo's. But
first I must put you in mind what the sibyls were.

211. As the prophets represent the voice of God in man, the sibyls
represent the voice of God in nature. They are properly all forms of one
sibyl, [Greek: Dios Boulê], the counsel of God; and the chief one, at
least in the Roman mind, was the Sibyl of Cumae. From the traditions of
her, the Romans, and we through them, received whatever lessons the
myth, or fact, of sibyl power has given to mortals.

How much have you received, or may you yet receive, think you, of that
teaching? I call it the myth, or fact; but remember that, _as_ a myth,
it _is_ a fact. This story has concentrated whatever good there is in
the imagination or visionary powers in women, inspired by nature only.
The traditions of witch and gypsy are partly its offshoots. You despise
both, perhaps. But can you, though in utmost pride of your supreme
modern wisdom, suppose that the character--say, even of so poor and
far-fallen a sibyl as Meg Merrilies--is only the coinage of Scott's
brain; or that, even being no more, it is valueless? Admit the figure of
the Cumaean Sibyl, in like manner, to be the coinage only of Virgil's
brain. As such, it, and the words it speaks, are yet facts in which we
may find use, if we are reverent to them.

To me, personally, (I must take your indulgence for a moment to speak
wholly of myself,) they have been of the truest service--quite material
and indisputable.

I am writing on St. John's Day, in the monastery of Assisi; and I had no
idea whatever, when I sat down to my work this morning, of saying any
word of what I am now going to tell you. I meant only to expand and
explain a little what I said in my lecture about the Florentine
engraving. But it seems to me now that I had better tell you what the
Cumaean Sibyl has actually done for me.

212. In 1871, partly in consequence of chagrin at the Revolution in
Paris, and partly in great personal sorrow, I was struck by acute
inflammatory illness at Matlock, and reduced to a state of extreme
weakness; lying at one time unconscious for some hours, those about me
having no hope of my life. I have no doubt that the immediate cause of
the illness was simply, eating when I was not hungry; so that modern
science would acknowledge nothing in the whole business but an extreme
and very dangerous form of indigestion; and entirely deny any
interference of the Cumaean Sibyl in the matter.

I once heard a sermon by Dr. Guthrie, in Edinburgh, upon the wickedness
of fasting. It was very eloquent and ingenious, and finely explained the
superiority of the Scotch Free Church to the benighted Catholic Church,
in that the Free Church saw no merit in fasting. And there was no
mention, from beginning to end of the sermon, of even the existence of
such texts as Daniel i. 12, or Matthew vi. 16.

Without the smallest merit, I admit, in fasting, I was nevertheless
reduced at Matlock to a state very near starvation; and could not rise
from my pillow, without being lifted, for some days. And in the first
clearly pronounced stage of recovery, when the perfect powers of spirit
had returned, while the body was still as weak as it well could be, I
had three dreams, which made a great impression on me; for in ordinary
health my dreams are supremely ridiculous, if not unpleasant; and in
ordinary conditions of illness, very ugly, and always without the
slightest meaning. But these dreams were all distinct and impressive,
and had much meaning, if I chose to take it.

213. The first[BB] was of a Venetian fisherman, who wanted me to follow
him down into some water which I thought was too deep; but he called me
on, saying he had something to show me; so I followed him; and
presently, through an opening, as if in the arsenal wall, he showed me
the bronze horses of St. Mark's, and said, 'See, the horses are putting
on their harness.'

The second was of a preparation at Rome, in St. Peter's, (or a vast hall
as large as St. Peter's,) for the exhibition of a religious drama. Part
of the play was to be a scene in which demons were to appear in the sky;
and the stage servants were arranging gray fictitious clouds, and
painted fiends, for it, under the direction of the priests. There was a
woman dressed in black, standing at the corner of the stage watching
them, having a likeness in her face to one of my own dead friends; and I
knew somehow that she was not that friend, but a spirit; and she made me
understand, without speaking, that I was to watch, for the play would
turn out other than the priests expected. And I waited; and when the
scene came on, the clouds became real clouds, and the fiends real
fiends, agitating them in slow quivering, wild and terrible, over the
heads of the people and priests. I recollected distinctly, however, when
I woke, only the figure of the black woman mocking the people, and of
one priest in an agony of terror, with the sweat pouring from his brow,
but violently scolding one of the stage servants for having failed in
some ceremony, the omission of which, he thought, had given the devils
their power.

The third dream was the most interesting and personal. Some one came to
me to ask me to help in the deliverance of a company of Italian
prisoners who were to be ransomed for money. I said I had no money. They
answered, Yes, I had some that belonged to me as a brother of St.
Francis, if I would give it up. I said I did not know even that I _was_
a brother of St. Francis; but I thought to myself, that perhaps the
Franciscans of Fésole, whom I had helped to make hay in their field in
1845, had adopted me for one; only I didn't see how the consequence of
that would be my having any money. However, I said they were welcome to
whatever I had; and then I heard the voice of an Italian woman singing;
and I have never heard such divine singing before nor since;--the sounds
absolutely strong and real, and the melody altogether lovely. If I could
have written it! But I could not even remember it when I woke,--only how
beautiful it was.

214. Now these three dreams have, every one of them, been of much use to
me since; or so far as they have failed to be useful, it has been my own
fault, and not theirs; but the chief use of them at the time was to give
me courage and confidence in myself, both in bodily distress, of which I
had still not a little to bear; and worse, much mental anxiety about
matters supremely interesting to me, which were turning out ill. And
through all such trouble--which came upon me as I was recovering, as if
it meant to throw me back into the grave,--I held out and recovered,
repeating always to myself, or rather having always murmured in my ears,
at every new trial, one Latin line,

    Tu ne cede malis, sed contra fortior ito.

Now I had got this line out of the tablet in the engraving of Raphael's
vision, and had forgotten where it came from. And I thought I knew my
sixth book of Virgil so well, that I never looked at it again while I
was giving these lectures at Oxford, and it was only here at Assisi,
the other day, wanting to look more accurately at the first scene by the
lake Avernus, that I found I had been saved by the words of the Cumaean

215. "Quam tua te Fortuna sinet," the completion of the sentence, has
yet more and continual teaching in it for me now; as it has for all men.
Her opening words, which have become hackneyed, and lost all present
power through vulgar use of them, contain yet one of the most immortal
truths ever yet spoken for mankind; and they will never lose their power
of help for noble persons. But observe, both in that lesson, "Facilis
descensus Averni," etc.; and in the still more precious, because
universal, one on which the strength of Rome was founded,--the burning
of the books,--the Sibyl speaks only as the voice of Nature, and of her
laws;--not as a divine helper, prevailing over death; but as a mortal
teacher warning us against it, and strengthening us for our mortal time;
but not for eternity. Of which lesson her own history is a part, and her
habitation by the Avernus lake. She desires immortality, fondly and
vainly, as we do ourselves. She receives, from the love of her _refused_
lover, Apollo, not immortality, but length of life;--her years to be as
the grains of dust in her hand. And even this she finds was a false
desire; and her wise and holy desire at last is--to die. She wastes
away; becomes a shade only, and a voice. The Nations ask her, What
wouldst thou? She answers, Peace; only let my last words be true.
"L'ultimo mie parlar sie verace."

[Illustration: VII.

For a time, and times.]

216. Therefore, if anything is to be conceived, rightly, and chiefly, in
the form of the Cumaean Sibyl, it must be of fading virginal beauty, of
enduring patience, of far-looking into futurity. "For after my death
there shall yet return," she says, "another virgin."

    Jam redit et virgo;--redeunt Saturnia regna,
    Ultima Cumaei venit jam carminis aetas.

Here then is Botticelli's Cumaean Sibyl. She is armed, for she is the
prophetess of Roman fortitude;--but her faded breast scarcely
raises the corselet; her hair floats, not falls, in waves like the
currents of a river,--the sign of enduring life; the light is full on
her forehead: she looks into the distance as in a dream. It is
impossible for art to gather together more beautifully or intensely
every image which can express her true power, or lead us to understand
her lesson.

[Illustration: VIII.

The Nymph beloved of Apollo.


217. Now you do not, I am well assured, know one of Michael Angelo's
sibyls from another: unless perhaps the Delphian, whom of course he
makes as beautiful as he can. But of this especially Italian prophetess,
one would have thought he might, at least in some way, have shown that
he knew the history, even if he did not understand it. She might have
had more than one book, at all events, to burn. She might have had a
stray leaf or two fallen at her feet. He could not indeed have painted
her only as a voice; but his anatomical knowledge need not have hindered
him from painting her virginal youth, or her wasting and watching age,
or her inspired hope of a holier future.

218. Opposite,--fortunately, photograph from the figure itself, so that
you can suspect me of no exaggeration,--is Michael Angelo's Cumaean
Sibyl, wasting away. It is by a grotesque and most strange chance that
he should have made the figure of this Sibyl, of all others in the
chapel, the most fleshly and gross, even proceeding to the monstrous
license of showing the nipples of the breast as if the dress were molded
over them like plaster. Thus he paints the poor nymph beloved of
Apollo,--the clearest and queenliest in prophecy and command of all the
sibyls,--as an ugly crone, with the arms of Goliath, poring down upon a
single book.

219. There is one point of fine detail, however, in Botticelli's Cumaean
Sibyl, and in the next I am going to show you, to explain which I must
go back for a little while to the question of the direct relation of the
Italian painters to the Greek. I don't like repeating in one lecture
what I have said in another; but to save you the trouble of reference,
must remind you of what I stated in my fourth lecture on Greek birds,
when we were examining the adoption of the plume crests in armor, that
the crest signifies command; but the diadem, _obedience_; and that every
crown is primarily a diadem. It is the thing that binds, before it is
the thing that honors.

Now all the great schools dwell on this symbolism. The long flowing hair
is the symbol of life, and the [Greek: diadêma] of the law restraining
it. Royalty, or kingliness, over life, restraining and glorifying. In
the extremity of restraint--in death, whether noble, as of death to
Earth, or ignoble, as of death to Heaven, the [Greek: diadêma] is
fastened with the mort-cloth: "Bound hand and foot with grave-clothes,
and the face bound about with the napkin."

220. Now look back to the first Greek head I ever showed you, used as
the type of archaic sculpture in Aratra Pentelici, and then look at the
crown in Botticelli's Astrologia. It is absolutely the Greek form,--even
to the peculiar oval of the forehead; while the diadem--the governing
law--is set with appointed stars--to rule the destiny and thought. Then
return to the Cumaean Sibyl. She, as we have seen, is the symbol of
enduring life--almost immortal. The diadem is withdrawn from the
forehead--reduced to a narrow fillet--here, and the hair thrown free.

[Illustration: IX.

In the woods of Ida.]

221. From the Cumaean Sibyl's diadem, traced only by points, turn to
that of the Hellespontic, (Plate 9, opposite). I do not know why
Botticelli chose her for the spirit of prophecy in old age; but he has
made this the most interesting plate of the series in the definiteness
of its connection with the work from Dante, which becomes his own
prophecy in old age. The fantastic yet solemn treatment of the gnarled
wood occurs, as far as I know, in no other engravings but this, and the
illustrations to Dante; and I am content to leave it, with little
comment, for the reader's quiet study, as showing the exuberance of
imagination which other men at this time in Italy allowed to waste
itself in idle arabesque, restrained by Botticelli to his most earnest
purposes; and giving the withered tree-trunks, hewn for the rude throne
of the aged prophetess, the same harmony with her fading spirit which
the rose has with youth, or the laurel with victory. Also in its
weird characters, you have the best example I can show you of the orders
of decorative design which are especially expressible by engraving, and
which belong to a group of art instincts scarcely now to be understood,
much less recovered, (the influence of modern naturalistic imitation
being too strong to be conquered)--the instincts, namely, for the
arrangement of pure line, in labyrinthine intricacy, through which the
grace of order may give continual clue. The entire body of ornamental
design, connected with writing, in the Middle Ages seems as if it were a
sensible symbol, to the eye and brain, of the methods of error and
recovery, the minglings of crooked with straight, and perverse with
progressive, which constitute the great problem of human morals and
fate; and when I chose the title for the collected series of these
lectures, I hoped to have justified it by careful analysis of the
methods of labyrinthine ornament, which, made sacred by Theseian
traditions,[BC] and beginning, in imitation of physical truth, with the
spiral waves of the waters of Babylon as the Assyrian carved them,
entangled in their returns the eyes of men, on Greek vase and Christian
manuscript--till they closed in the arabesques which sprang round the
last luxury of Venice and Rome.

But the labyrinth of life itself, and its more and more interwoven
occupation, become too manifold, and too difficult for me; and of the
time wasted in the blind lanes of it, perhaps that spent in analysis or
recommendation of the art to which men's present conduct makes them
insensible, has been chiefly cast away. On the walls of the little room
where I finally revise this lecture,[BD] hangs an old silken sampler of
great-grandame's work: representing the domestic life of Abraham:
chiefly the stories of Isaac and Ishmael. Sarah at her tent-door,
watching, with folded arms, the dismissal of Hagar: above, in a
wilderness full of fruit trees, birds, and butterflies, little Ishmael
lying at the root of a tree, and the spent bottle under another; Hagar
in prayer, and the angel appearing to her out of a wreathed line of
gloomily undulating clouds, which, with a dark-rayed sun in the midst,
surmount the entire composition in two arches, out of which descend
shafts of (I suppose) beneficent rain; leaving, however, room, in the
corner opposite to Ishmael's angel, for Isaac's, who stays Abraham in
the sacrifice; the ram in the thicket, the squirrel in the plum tree
above him, and the grapes, pears, apples, roses, and daisies of the
foreground, being all wrought with involution of such ingenious
needlework as may well rank, in the patience, the natural skill, and the
innocent pleasure of it, with the truest works of Florentine engraving.
Nay; the actual tradition of many of the forms of ancient art is in many
places evident,--as, for instance, in the spiral summits of the flames
of the wood on the altar, which are like a group of first-springing
fern. On the wall opposite is a smaller composition, representing
Justice with her balance and sword, standing between the sun and moon,
with a background of pinks, borage, and corn-cockle: a third is only a
cluster of tulips and iris, with two Byzantine peacocks; but the spirits
of Penelope and Ariadne reign vivid in all the work--and the richness of
pleasurable fancy is as great still, in these silken labors, as in the
marble arches and golden roof of the cathedral of Monreale.

But what is the use of explaining or analyzing it? Such work as this
means the patience and simplicity of all feminine life; and can be
produced, among _us_ at least, no more. Gothic tracery itself, another
of the instinctive labyrinthine intricacies of old, though analyzed to
its last section, has become now the symbol only of a foolish
ecclesiastical sect, retained for their shibboleth, joyless and
powerless for all good. The very labyrinth of the grass and flowers of
our fields, though dissected to its last leaf, is yet bitten bare, or
trampled to slime, by the Minotaur of our lust; and for the traceried
spire of the poplar by the brook, we possess but the four-square furnace
tower, to mingle its smoke with heaven's thunder-clouds.[BE]

We will look yet at one sampler more of the engraved work, done in the
happy time when flowers were pure, youth simple, and imagination
gay,--Botticelli's Libyan Sibyl.

Glance back first to the Hellespontic, noting the close fillet, and the
cloth bound below the face, and then you will be prepared to understand
the last I shall show you, and the loveliest of the southern

[Illustration: X.

Grass of the Desert.]

222. A less deep thinker than Botticelli would have made her parched
with thirst, and burnt with heat. But the voice of God, through nature,
to the Arab or the Moor, is not in the thirst, but in the fountain--not
in the desert, but in the grass of it. And this Libyan Sibyl is the
spirit of wild grass and flowers, springing in desolate places.

You see, her diadem is a wreath of them; but the blossoms of it are not
fastening enough for her hair, though it is not long yet--(she is only
in reality a Florentine girl of fourteen or fifteen)--so the little
darling knots it under her ears, and then makes herself a necklace of
it. But though flowing hair and flowers are wild and pretty, Botticelli
had not, in these only, got the power of Spring marked to his mind. Any
girl might wear flowers; but few, for ornament, would be likely to wear
grass. So the Sibyl shall have grass in her diadem; not merely
interwoven and bending, but springing and strong. You thought it ugly
and grotesque at first, did not you? It was made so, because precisely
what Botticelli wanted you to look at.

But that's not all. This conical cap of hers, with one bead at the
top,--considering how fond the Florentines are of graceful head-dresses,
this seems a strange one for a young girl. But, exactly as I know the
angel of Victory to be Greek, at his Mount of Pity, so I know this
head-dress to be taken from a Greek coin, and to be meant for a Greek
symbol. It is the Petasus of Hermes--the mist of morning over the dew.
Lastly, what will the Libyan Sibyl say to you? The letters are large on
her tablet. Her message is the oracle from the temple of the Dew: "The
dew of thy birth is as the womb of the morning."--"Ecce venientem diem,
et latentia aperientem, tenebit gremio gentium regina."

223. Why the daybreak came not then, nor yet has come, but only a deeper
darkness; and why there is now neither queen nor king of nations, but
every man doing that which is right in his own eyes, I would fain go on,
partly to tell you, and partly to meditate with you: but it is not our
work for to-day. The issue of the Reformation which these great
painters, the scholars of Dante, began, we may follow, farther, in the
study to which I propose to lead you, of the lives of Cimabue and
Giotto, and the relation of their work at Assisi to the chapel and
chambers of the Vatican.

224. To-day let me finish what I have to tell you of the style of
southern engraving. What sudden bathos in the sentence, you think! So
contemptible the question of style, then, in painting, though not in
literature? You study the 'style' of Homer; the style, perhaps, of
Isaiah; the style of Horace, and of Massillon. Is it so vain to study
the style of Botticelli?

In all cases, it is equally vain, if you think of their style first. But
know their purpose, and then, their way of speaking is worth thinking
of. These apparently unfinished and certainly unfilled outlines of the
Florentine,--clumsy work, as Vasari thought them,--as Mr. Otley and most
of our English amateurs still think them,--are these good or bad

You may ask now, comprehending their motive, with some hope of answering
or being answered rightly. And the answer is, They are the finest
gravers' work ever done yet by human hand. You may teach, by process of
discipline and of years, any youth of good artistic capacity to engrave
a plate in the modern manner; but only the noblest passion, and the
tenderest patience, will ever engrave one line like these of Sandro

225. Passion, and patience! Nay, even these you may have to-day in
England, and yet both be in vain. Only a few years ago, in one of our
northern iron-foundries, a workman of intense power and natural
art-faculty set himself to learn engraving;--made his own tools; gave
all the spare hours of his laborious life to learn their use; learnt it;
and engraved a plate which, in manipulation, no professional engraver
would be ashamed of. He engraved his blast furnace, and the casting of a
beam of a steam engine. This, to him, was the power of God,--it was his
life. No greater earnestness was ever given by man to promulgate a
Gospel. Nevertheless, the engraving is absolutely worthless. The blast
furnace _is not_ the power of God; and the life of the strong spirit was
as much consumed in the flames of it, as ever driven slave's by the
burden and heat of the day.

How cruel to say so, if he yet lives, you think! No, my friends; the
cruelty will be in you, and the guilt, if, having been brought here to
learn that God is your Light, you yet leave the blast furnace to be the
only light of England.

226. It has been, as I said in the note above (§ 200), with extreme pain
that I have hitherto limited my notice of our own great engraver and
moralist, to the points in which the disadvantages of English
art-teaching made him inferior to his trained Florentine rival. But,
that these disadvantages were powerless to arrest or ignobly depress
him;--that however failing in grace and scholarship, he should never
fail in truth or vitality; and that the precision of his unerring
hand[BF]--his inevitable eye--and his rightly judging heart--should
place him in the first rank of the great artists not of England only,
but of all the world and of all time:--that _this_ was possible to him,
was simply because he lived a _country_ life. Bewick himself,
Botticelli himself, Apelles himself, and twenty times Apelles, condemned
to slavery in the hell-fire of the iron furnace, could have
done--NOTHING. Absolute paralysis of all high human faculty _must_
result from labor near fire. The poor engraver of the piston-rod had
faculties--not like Bewick's, for if he had had those, he never would
have endured the degradation; but assuredly, (I know this by his work,)
faculties high enough to have made him one of the most accomplished
figure painters of his age. And they are scorched out of him, as the sap
from the grass in the oven: while on his Northumberland hill-sides,
Bewick grew into as stately life as their strongest pine.

227. And therefore, in words of his, telling consummate and unchanging
truth concerning the life, honor, and happiness of England, and bearing
directly on the points of difference between class and class which I
have not dwelt on without need, I will bring these lectures to a close.

"I have always, through life, been of opinion that there is no business
of any kind that can be compared to that of a man who farms his own
land. It appears to me that every earthly pleasure, with health, is
within his reach. But numbers of these men (the old statesmen) were
grossly ignorant, and in exact proportion to that ignorance they were
sure to be offensively proud. This led them to attempt appearing above
their station, which hastened them on to their ruin; but, indeed, this
disposition and this kind of conduct invariably leads to such results.
There were many of these lairds on Tyneside; as well as many who held
their lands on the tenure of 'suit and service,' and were nearly on the
same level as the lairds. Some of the latter lost their lands (not
fairly, I think) in a way they could not help; many of the former, by
their misdirected pride and folly, were driven into towns, to slide away
into nothingness, and to sink into oblivion, while their 'ha' houses'
(halls), that ought to have remained in their families from generation
to generation, have moldered away. I have always felt extremely grieved
to see the ancient mansions of many of the country gentlemen, from
somewhat similar causes, meet with a similar fate. The gentry should,
in an especial manner, prove by their conduct that they are guarded
against showing any symptom of foolish pride; at the same time that they
soar above every meanness, and that their conduct is guided by truth,
integrity, and patriotism. If they wish the people to partake with them
in these good qualities, they must set them the example, without which
no real respect can ever be paid to them. Gentlemen ought never to
forget the respectable station they hold in society, and that they are
the natural guardians of public morals and may with propriety be
considered as the head and the heart of the country, while 'a bold
peasantry' are, in truth, the arms, the sinews, and the strength of the
same; but when these last are degraded, they soon become dispirited and
mean, and often dishonest and useless."

       *       *       *       *       *

"This singular and worthy man[BG] was perhaps the most invaluable
acquaintance and friend I ever met with. His moral lectures and advice
to me formed a most important succedaneum to those imparted by my
parents. His wise remarks, his detestation of vice, his industry, and
his temperance, crowned with a most lively and cheerful disposition,
altogether made him appear to me as one of the best of characters. In
his workshop I often spent my winter evenings. This was also the case
with a number of young men who might be considered as his pupils; many
of whom, I have no doubt, he directed into the paths of truth and
integrity, and who revered his memory through life. He rose early to
work, lay down when he felt weary, and rose again when refreshed. His
diet was of the simplest kind; and he ate when hungry, and drank when
dry, without paying regard to meal-times. By steadily pursuing this mode
of life he was enabled to accumulate sums of money--from ten to thirty
pounds. This enabled him to get books, of an entertaining and moral
tendency, printed and circulated at a cheap rate. His great object was,
by every possible means, to promote honorable feelings in the minds of
youth, and to prepare them for becoming good members of society. I have
often discovered that he did not overlook ingenious mechanics, whose
misfortunes--perhaps mismanagement--had led them to a lodging in
Newgate. To these he directed his compassionate eye, and for the
deserving (in his estimation), he paid their debt, and set them at
liberty. He felt hurt at seeing the hands of an ingenious man tied up in
prison, where they were of no use either to himself or to the community.
This worthy man had been educated for a priest; but he would say to me,
'Of a "trouth," Thomas, I did not like their ways.' So he gave up the
thoughts of being a priest, and bent his way from Aberdeen to Edinburgh,
where he engaged himself to Allan Ramsay, the poet, then a bookseller at
the latter place, in whose service he was both shopman and bookbinder.
From Edinburgh he came to Newcastle. Gilbert had had a liberal education
bestowed upon him. He had read a great deal, and had reflected upon what
he had read. This, with his retentive memory, enabled him to be a
pleasant and communicative companion. I lived in habits of intimacy with
him to the end of his life; and, when he died, I, with others of his
friends, attended his remains to the grave at the Ballast Hills."

And what graving on the sacred cliffs of Egypt ever honored them, as
that grass-dimmed furrow does the mounds of our Northern land?


[AS] The world was not then ready for Le Père Hyacinthe;--but the real
gist of the matter is that Lippi did, openly and bravely, what the
highest prelates in the Church did basely and in secret; also he loved,
where they only lusted; and he has been proclaimed therefore by
them--and too foolishly believed by us--to have been a shameful person.
Of his true life, and the colors given to it, we will try to learn
something tenable, before we end our work in Florence.

[AT] I insert supplementary notes, when of importance, in the text of
the lecture, for the convenience of the general reader.

[AU] Mr. Charles F. Murray.

[AV] Some notice of this picture is given at the beginning of my third
Morning in Florence, 'Before the Soldan.'

[AW] I am bitterly sorry for the pain which my partial references to the
man whom of all English artists whose histories I have read, I most
esteem, have given to one remaining member of his family. I hope my
meaning may be better understood after she has seen the close of this

[AX] Read Ezekiel xviii.

[AY] See also the account by Dr. Woltmann of the picture of the Triumph
of Riches. 'Holbein and his Time,' p. 352.

[AZ] These words are engraved in the plate, as spoken by the Virgin.

[BA] Cosimo Rosselli, especially chosen by the Pope for his gay

[BB] I am not certain of their order at this distance of time.

[BC] Callimachus, 'Delos,' 304, etc.

[BD] In the Old King's Arms Hotel, Lancaster.

[BE] A manufacturer wrote to me the other day, "We don't _want_ to make
smoke!" Who said they did?--a hired murderer does not want to commit
murder, but does it for sufficient motive. (Even our shipowners don't
want to drown their sailors; they will only do it for sufficient
motive.) If the dirty creatures _did_ want to make smoke, there would be
more excuse for them: and that they are not clever enough to consume it,
is no praise to them. A man who can't help his hiccough leaves the room:
why do they not leave the England they pollute?

[BF] I know no drawing so subtle as Bewick's, since the fifteenth
century, except Holbein's and Turner's. I have been greatly surprised
lately by the exquisite water-color work in some of Stothard's smaller
vignettes; but he cannot set the line like Turner or Bewick.

[BG] Gilbert Gray, bookbinder. I have to correct the inaccurate--and
very harmfully inaccurate, expression which I used of Bewick, in Love's
Meinie (§ 3), 'a printer's lad at Newcastle.' His first master was a
goldsmith and engraver, else he could never have been an artist. I am
very heartily glad to make this correction, which establishes another
link of relation between Bewick and Botticelli; but my error was partly
caused by the impression which the above description of his "most
invaluable friend" made on me, when I first read it.

Much else that I meant to correct, or promised to explain, in this
lecture, must be deferred to the Appendix; the superiority of the Tuscan
to the Greek Aphrodite I may perhaps, even at last, leave the reader to
admit or deny as he pleases, having more important matters of debate on
hand. But as I mean only to play with Proserpina during the spring, I
will here briefly anticipate a statement I mean in the Appendix to
enforce, namely, of the extreme value of colored copies by hand, of
paintings whose excellence greatly consists in color, as auxiliary to
engravings of them. The prices now given without hesitation for nearly
worthless original drawings by fifth-rate artists, would obtain for the
misguided buyers, in something like a proportion of ten to one, most
precious copies of drawings which can only be represented at all in
engraving by entire alteration of their treatment, and abandonment of
their finest purposes. I feel this so strongly that I have given my best
attention, during upwards of ten years, to train a copyist to perfect
fidelity in rendering the work of Turner; and having now succeeded in
enabling him to produce facsimiles so close as to look like replicas,
facsimiles which I must sign with my own name and his, in the very work
of them, to prevent their being sold for real Turner vignettes, I can
obtain no custom for him, and am obliged to leave him to make his bread
by any power of captivation his original sketches may possess in the
eyes of a public which maintains a nation of copyists in Rome, but is
content with black and white renderings of great English art; though
there is scarcely one cultivated English gentleman or lady who has not
been twenty times in the Vatican, for once that they have been in the
National Gallery.


228. I. The following letter, from one of my most faithful readers,
corrects an important piece of misinterpretation in the text. The waving
of the reins must be only in sign of the fluctuation of heat round the
Sun's own chariot:--

                                      "Spring Field, Ambleside,
                                               "February 11, 1875.

"Dear Mr. Ruskin,--Your fifth lecture on Engraving I have to hand.

"Sandro intended those wavy lines meeting under the Sun's right[BH]
hand, (Plate V.) primarily, no doubt, to represent the four ends of the
four reins dangling from the Sun's hand. The flames and rays are seen to
continue to radiate from the platform of the chariot between and beyond
these ends of the reins, and over the knee. He may have wanted to
acknowledge that the warmth of the earth was Apollo's, by making these
ends of the reins spread out separately and wave, and thereby inclose a
form like a flame. But I cannot think it.

                        "Believe me,
                            "Ever yours truly,
                                "CHAS. WM. SMITH."

II. I meant to keep labyrinthine matters for my Appendix; but the
following most useful by-words from Mr. Tyrwhitt had better be read at

"In the matter of Cretan Labyrinth, as connected by Virgil with the
Ludus Trojæ, or equestrian game of winding and turning, continued in
England from twelfth century; and having for last relic the maze[BI]
called 'Troy Town,' at Troy Farm, near Somerton, Oxfordshire, which
itself resembles the circular labyrinth on a coin of Cnossus in Fors
Clavigera. (Letter 23, p. 12.)

"The connecting quotation from Virg., Æn., V. 588, is as follows:

    'Ut quondam Creta fertur Labyrinthus in alta
    Parietibus textum cæcis iter, ancipitemque
    Mille viis habuisse dolum, qua signa sequendi
    Falleret indeprensus et inremeabilis error.
    Haud alio Teucrün nati vestigia cursu
    Impediunt, texuntque fagas et proelia ludo,
    Delphinum similes.'"

Labyrinth of Ariadne, as cut on the Downs by shepherds from time

Shakespeare, 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' Act ii., sc. 2:

"_Oberon._ The nine-men's morris[BJ] is filled up with mud;
           And the quaint mazes in the wanton green
           By lack of tread are undistinguishable."

The following passage, 'Merchant of Venice,' Act iii., sc. 2, confuses
(to all appearance) the Athenian tribute to Crete, with the story of
Hesione: and may point to general confusion in the Elizabethan mind
about the myths:

"_Portia._ ... with much more love
           Than young Alcides, when he did reduce
           The virgin-tribute paid by howling Troy
           To the sea monster."[BK]

Theseus is the Attic Hercules, however; and Troy may have been a sort of
house of call for mythical monsters, in the view of midland shepherds.


[BH] "Would not the design have looked better, to us, on the plate than
on the print? On the plate, the reins would be in the left hand; and the
whole movement be from the left to the right? The two different forms
that the radiance takes would symbolize respectively heat and light,
would they not?"

[BI] Strutt, pp. 97-8, ed. 1801.

[BJ] Explained as "a game still played by the shepherds, cowkeepers,"
etc., in the midland counties.

[BK] See Iliad, 20, 145.

[Illustration: XI.

"Obediente Domino voci hominis."]


                         ARTICLE I.


229. I have long deferred the completion of this book, because I had
hoped to find time to show, in some fullness, the grounds for my
conviction that engraving, and the study of it, since the development of
the modern finished school, have been ruinous to European knowledge of
art. But I am more and more busied in what I believe to be better work,
and can only with extreme brevity state here the conclusions of many
years' thought.

These, in several important particulars, have been curiously enforced on
me by the carelessness shown by the picture dealers about the copies
from Turner which it has cost Mr. Ward and me[BL] fifteen years of study
together to enable ourselves to make. "They are only copies," say
they,--"nobody will look at them."

230. It never seems to occur even to the most intelligent persons that
an engraving also is 'only a copy,' and a copy done with refusal of
color, and with disadvantage of means in rendering shade. But just
because this utterly inferior copy can be reduplicated, and introduces a
different kind of skill, in another material, people are content to lose
all the composition, and all the charm, of the original,--so far as
these depend on the chief gift of a _painter_,--color; while they are
gradually misled into attributing to the painter himself qualities
impertinently added by the engraver to make his plate popular: and,
which is far worse, they are as gradually and subtly prevented from
looking, in the original, for the qualities which engraving could never
render. Further, it continually happens that the very best
color-compositions engrave worst; for they often extend colors over
great spaces at equal pitch, and the green is as dark as the red, and
the blue as the brown; so that the engraver can only distinguish them by
lines in different directions, and his plate becomes a vague and dead
mass of neutral tint; but a bad and forced piece of color, or a piece of
work of the Bolognese school, which is everywhere black in the shadows,
and colorless in the lights, will engrave with great ease, and appear
spirited and forcible. Hence engravers, as a rule, are interested in
reproducing the work of the worst schools of painting.

Also, the idea that the merit of an engraving consisted in light and
shade, has prevented the modern masters from even attempting to render
works dependent mainly on outline and expression; like the early
frescoes, which should indeed have been the objects of their most
attentive and continual skill: for outline and expression are entirely
within the scope of engraving; and the scripture histories of an aisle
of a cloister might have been engraved, to perfection, with little more
pains than are given by ordinary workmen to round a limb by Correggio,
or imitate the texture of a dress by Sir Joshua,--and both, at last,

231. I will not lose more time in asserting or lamenting the mischief
arising out of the existing system: but will rapidly state what the
public should now ask for.

1. Exquisitely careful engraved outlines of all remaining frescoes of
the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries in Italy, with so
much pale tinting as may be explanatory of their main masses; and with
the local darks and local lights brilliantly relieved. The Arundel
Society have published some meritorious plates of this kind from
Angelico,--not, however, paying respect enough to the local colors, but
conventionalizing the whole too much into outline.

2. Finished small plates for book illustration. The cheap wood-cutting
and etching of popular illustrated books have been endlessly mischievous
to public taste: they first obtained their power in a general reaction
of the public mind from the insipidity of the lower school of line
engraving, brought on it by servile persistence in hack work for
ignorant publishers. The last dregs of it may still be seen in the
sentimental landscapes engraved for cheap ladies' pocket-books. But the
woodcut can never, educationally, take the place of serene and
accomplished line engraving; and the training of young artists in whom
the gift of delineation prevails over their sense of color, to the
production of scholarly, but small plates, with their utmost honor of
skill, would give a hitherto unconceived dignity to the character and
range of our popular literature.

3. Vigorous mezzotints from pictures of the great masters, which
originally present noble contrasts of light and shade. Many Venetian
works are magnificent in this character.

4. Original design by painters themselves, decisively engraved in few
lines--(_not_ etched); and with such insistence by dotted work on the
main contours as we have seen in the examples given from Italian

5. On the other hand, the men whose quiet patience and exquisite manual
dexterity are at present employed in producing large and costly plates,
such as that of the Belle Jardinière de Florence, by M. Boucher
Desnoyers, should be entirely released from their servile toil, and
employed exclusively in producing colored copies, or light drawings,
from the original work. The same number of hours of labor, applied with
the like conscientious skill, would multiply precious likenesses of the
real picture, full of subtle veracities which no steel line could
approach, and conveying, to thousands, true knowledge and unaffected
enjoyment of painting; while the finished plate lies uncared for in the
portfolio of the virtuoso, serving only, so far as it is seen in the
printseller's window by the people, to make them think that sacred
painting must always be dull, and unnatural.

232. I have named the above engraving, because, for persons wishing to
study the present qualities and methods of line-work, it is a pleasant
and sufficient possession, uniting every variety of texture with great
serenity of unforced effect, and exhibiting every possible artifice and
achievement in the distribution of even and rugged, or of close and open
line; artifices for which,--while I must yet once more and emphatically
repeat that they are illegitimate, and could not be practiced in a
revived school of classic art,--I would fain secure the reader's
reverent admiration, under the conditions exacted by the school to which
they belong. Let him endeavor, with the finest point of pen or pencil he
can obtain, to imitate the profile of this Madonna in its relief against
the gray background of the water surface; let him examine, through a
good lens, the way in which the lines of the background are ended in a
lance-point as they approach it; the exact equality of depth of shade
being restored by inserted dots, which prepare for the transition to the
manner of shade adopted in the flesh: then let him endeavor to trace
with his own hand some of the curved lines at the edge of the eyelid, or
in the rounding of the lip; or if these be too impossible, even a few of
the quiet undulations which gradate the folds of the hood behind the
hair; and he will, I trust, begin to comprehend the range of delightful
work which would be within the reach of such an artist, employed with
more tractable material on more extended subject.

233. If, indeed, the present system were capable of influencing the mass
of the people, and enforcing among them the subtle attention necessary
to appreciate it, something might be pleaded in defense of its severity.
But all these plates are entirely above the means of the lower middle
classes, and perhaps not one reader in a hundred can possess himself,
for the study I ask of him, even of the plate to which I have just
referred. What, in the stead of such, he can and does possess, let him
consider,--and, if possible, just after examining the noble qualities of
this conscientious engraving.

234. Take up, for an average specimen of modern illustrated works, the
volume of Dickens's 'Master Humphrey's Clock,' containing 'Barnaby

You have in that book an entirely profitless and monstrous story, in
which the principal characters are a coxcomb, an idiot, a madman, a
savage blackguard, a foolish tavern-keeper, a mean old maid, and a
conceited apprentice,--mixed up with a certain quantity of ordinary
operatic pastoral stuff, about a pretty Dolly in ribbons, a lover with a
wooden leg, and an heroic locksmith. For these latter, the only elements
of good, or life, in the filthy mass of the story,[BM] observe that the
author must filch the wreck of those old times of which we fiercely and
frantically destroy every living vestige, whenever it is possible. You
cannot have your Dolly Varden brought up behind the counter of a railway
station; nor your jolly locksmith trained at a Birmingham brass-foundry.
And of these materials, observe that you can only have the ugly ones
illustrated. The cheap popular art cannot draw for you beauty, sense, or
honesty; and for Dolly Varden, or the locksmith, you will look through
the vignettes in vain. But every species of distorted folly and
vice,--the idiot, the blackguard, the coxcomb, the paltry fool, the
degraded woman,--are pictured for your honorable pleasure in every page,
with clumsy caricature, struggling to render its dullness tolerable by
insisting on defect,--if perchance a penny or two more may be coined out
of the Cockney reader's itch for loathsomeness.

235. Or take up, for instance of higher effort, the 'Cornhill Magazine'
for this month, July, 1876. It has a vignette of Venice for an
illuminated letter. That is what your decorative art has become, by help
of Kensington! The letter to be produced is a T. There is a gondola in
the front of the design, with the canopy slipped back to the stern like
a saddle over a horse's tail. There is another in the middle distance,
all gone to seed at the prow, with its gondolier emaciated into an oar,
at the stern; then there is a Church of the Salute, and a Ducal
Palace,--in which I beg you to observe all the felicity and dexterity of
modern cheap engraving; finally, over the Ducal Palace there is
something, I know not in the least what meant for, like an umbrella
dropping out of a balloon, which is the ornamental letter T. Opposite
this ornamental design, there is an engraving of two young ladies and a
parasol, between two trunks of trees. The white face and black feet of
the principal young lady, being the points of the design, are done with
as much care,--not with as much dexterity,--as an ordinary sketch of Du
Maurier's in Punch. The young lady's dress, the next attraction, is done
in cheap white and black cutting, with considerably less skill than that
of any ordinary tailor's or milliner's shop-book pattern drawing. For
the other young lady, and the landscape, take your magnifying glass, and
look at the hacked wood that forms the entire shaded surface--one mass
of idiotic scrabble, without the remotest attempt to express a single
leaf, flower, or clod of earth. It is such landscape as the public sees
out of its railroad window at sixty miles of it in the hour--and good
enough for such a public.

236. Then turn to the last--the poetical plate, p. 122: "Lifts her--lays
her down with care." Look at the gentleman with a spade, promoting the
advance, over a hillock of hay, of the reposing figure in the
black-sided tub. Take your magnifying glass to _that_, and look what a
dainty female arm and hand your modern scientific and anatomical schools
of art have provided you with! Look at the tender horizontal flux of the
sea round the promontory point above. Look at the tender engraving of
the linear light on the divine horizon, above the ravenous sea-gull.
Here is Development and Progress for you, from the days of Perugino's
horizon, and Dante's daybreaks! Truly, here it seems

    "Si che le bianche e le vermiglie guance
    Per troppa etate divenivan rance."

237. I have chosen no gross or mean instances of modern work. It is one
of the saddest points connected with the matter that the designer of
this last plate is a person of consummate art faculty, but bound to the
wheel of the modern Juggernaut, and broken on it. These woodcuts, for
'Barnaby Rudge' and the 'Cornhill Magazine,' are favorably
representative of the entire illustrative art industry of the modern
press,--industry enslaved to the ghastly service of catching the last
gleams in the glued eyes of the daily more bestial English
mob,--railroad born and bred, which drags itself about the black world
it has withered under its breath, in one eternal grind and
shriek,--gobbling,--staring,--chattering,--giggling,--trampling out
every vestige of national honor and domestic peace, wherever it sets the
staggering hoof of it; incapable of reading, of hearing, of thinking, of
looking,--capable only of greed for money, lust for food, pride of
dress, and the prurient itch of momentary curiosity for the politics
last announced by the newsmonger, and the religion last rolled by the
chemist into electuary for the dead.

238. In the miserably competitive labor of finding new stimulus for the
appetite--daily more gross--of this tyrannous mob, we may count as lost,
beyond any hope, the artists who are dull, docile, or distressed enough
to submit to its demands; and we may count the dull and the distressed
by myriads;--and among the docile, many of the best intellects we
possess. The few who have sense and strength to assert their own place
and supremacy, are driven into discouraged disease by their isolation,
like Turner and Blake; the one abandoning the design of his 'Liber
Studiorum' after imperfectly and sadly, against total public neglect,
carrying it forward to what it is,--monumental, nevertheless, in
landscape engraving; the other producing, with one only majestic series
of designs from the book of Job, nothing for his life's work but
coarsely iridescent sketches of enigmatic dream.

239. And, for total result of our English engraving industry during the
last hundred and fifty years, I find that practically at this moment I
cannot get a _single_ piece of true, sweet, and comprehensible art, to
place for instruction in any children's school! I can get, for ten
pounds apiece, well-engraved portraits of Sir Joshua's beauties showing
graceful limbs through flowery draperies; I can get--dirt-cheap--any
quantity of Dutch flats, ditches, and hedges, enlivened by cows chewing
the cud, and dogs behaving indecently; I can get heaps upon heaps of
temples, and forums, and altars, arranged as for academical competition,
round seaports, with curled-up ships that only touch the water with the
middle of their bottoms. I can get, at the price of lumber, any quantity
of British squires flourishing whips and falling over hurdles; and, in
suburban shops, a dolorous variety of widowed mothers nursing babies in
a high light with the Bible on a table, and baby's shoes on a chair.
Also, of cheap prints, painted red and blue, of Christ blessing little
children, of Joseph and his brethren, the infant Samuel, or Daniel in
the lions' den, the supply is ample enough to make every child in these
islands think of the Bible as a somewhat dull story-book, allowed on
Sunday;--but of trained, wise, and worthy art, applied to gentle
purposes of instruction, no single example can be found in the shops of
the British printseller or bookseller. And after every dilettante tongue
in European society has filled drawing-room and academy alike with idle
clatter concerning the divinity of Raphael and Michael Angelo, for these
last hundred years, I cannot at this instant, for the first school which
I have some power of organizing under St. George's laws, get a good
print of Raphael's Madonna of the tribune, or an ordinarily intelligible
view of the side and dome of St. Peter's!

240. And there are simply no words for the mixed absurdity and
wickedness of the present popular demand for art, as shown by its supply
in our thoroughfares. Abroad, in the shops of the Rue de Rivoli,
brightest and most central of Parisian streets, the putrescent remnant
of what was once Catholicism promotes its poor gilded pedlars' ware of
nativity and crucifixion into such honorable corners as it can find
among the more costly and studious illuminations of the brothel: and
although, in Pall Mall, and the Strand, the large-margined
Landseer,--Stanfield,--or Turner-proofs, in a few stately windows, still
represent, uncared-for by the people, or inaccessible to them, the power
of an English school now wholly perished,--these are too surely
superseded, in the windows that stop the crowd, by the thrilling
attraction with which Doré, Gérome, and Tadema have invested the
gambling table, the dueling ground, and the arena; or by the more
material and almost tangible truth with which the apothecary-artist
stereographs the stripped actress, and the railway mound.

241. Under these conditions, as I have now repeatedly asserted, no
professorship, nor school, of art can be of the least use to the general
public. No race can understand a visionary landscape, which blasts its
real mountains into ruin, and blackens its river-beds with foam of
poison. Nor is it of the least use to exhibit ideal Diana at Kensington,
while substantial Phryne may be worshiped in the Strand. The only
recovery of our art-power possible,--nay, when once we know the full
meaning of it, the only one desirable,--must result from the
purification of the nation's heart, and chastisement of its life:
utterly hopeless now, for our adult population, or in our large cities,
and their neighborhood. But, so far as any of the sacred influence of
former design can be brought to bear on the minds of the young, and so
far as, in rural districts, the first elements of scholarly education
can be made pure, the foundation of a new dynasty of thought may be
slowly laid. I was strangely impressed by the effect produced in a
provincial seaport school for children, chiefly of fishermen's families,
by the gift of a little colored drawing of a single figure from the
Paradise of Angelico in the Accademia of Florence. The drawing was
wretched enough, seen beside the original; I had only bought it from the
poor Italian copyist for charity: but, to the children, it was like an
actual glimpse of heaven; they rejoiced in it with pure joy, and their
mistress thanked me for it more than if I had sent her a whole library
of good books. Of such copies, the grace-giving industry of young
girls, now worse than lost in the spurious charities of the bazaar, or
selfish ornamentations of the drawing-room, might, in a year's time,
provide enough for every dame-school in England; and a year's honest
work of the engravers employed on our base novels, might represent to
our advanced students every frescoed legend of philosophy and morality
extant in Christendom.

242. For my own part, I have no purpose, in what remains to me of
opportunity, either at Oxford or elsewhere, to address any farther
course of instruction towards the development of existing schools. After
seeing the stream of the Teviot as black as ink, and a putrid carcass of
a sheep lying in the dry channel of the Jed, under Jedburgh Abbey, (the
entire strength of the summer stream being taken away to supply a single
mill,) I know, finally, what value the British mind sets on the
'beauties of nature,' and shall attempt no farther the excitement of its
enthusiasm in that direction. I shall indeed endeavor to carry out, with
Mr. Ward's help, my twenty years' held purpose of making the real
character of Turner's work known, to the persons who, formerly
interested by the engravings from him, imagined half the merit was of
the engraver's giving. But I know perfectly that to the general people,
trained in the midst of the ugliest objects that vice can design, in
houses, mills, and machinery, _all_ beautiful form and color is as
invisible as the seventh heaven. It is not a question of appreciation at
all; the thing is physically invisible to them, as human speech is
inaudible during a steam whistle.

243. And I shall also use all the strength I have to convince those,
among our artists of the second order, who are wise and modest enough
not to think themselves the matches of Turner or Michael Angelo, that in
the present state of art they only waste their powers in endeavoring to
produce original pictures of human form or passion. Modern aristocratic
life is too vulgar, and modern peasant life too unhappy, to furnish
subjects of noble study; while, even were it otherwise, the
multiplication of designs by painters of second-rate power is no more
desirable than the writing of music by inferior composers. They may,
with far greater personal happiness, and incalculably greater advantage
to others, devote themselves to the affectionate and sensitive copying
of the works of men of just renown. The dignity of this self-sacrifice
would soon be acknowledged with sincere respect; for copies produced by
men working with such motive would differ no less from the common
trade-article of the galleries than the rendering of music by an
enthusiastic and highly trained executant differs from the grinding of a
street organ. And the change in the tone of public feeling, produced by
familiarity with such work, would soon be no less great than in their
musical enjoyment, if having been accustomed only to hear black
Christys, blind fiddlers, and hoarse beggars scrape or howl about their
streets, they were permitted daily audience of faithful and gentle
orchestral rendering of the work of the highest classical masters.

244. I have not, until very lately, rightly appreciated the results of
the labor of the Arundel Society in this direction. Although, from the
beginning, I have been honored in being a member of its council, my
action has been hitherto rather of check than help, because I thought
more of the differences between our copies and the great originals, than
of their unquestionable superiority to anything the public could
otherwise obtain.

I was practically convinced of their extreme value only this last
winter, by staying at the house of a friend in which the Arundel
engravings were the principal decoration; and where I learned more of
Masaccio from the Arundel copy of the contest with Simon Magus, than in
the Brancacci chapel itself; for the daily companionship with the
engraving taught me subtleties in its composition which had escaped me
in the multitudinous interest of visits to the actual fresco.

But the work of the Society has been sorely hindered hitherto, because
it has had at command only the skill of copyists trained in foreign
schools of color, and accustomed to meet no more accurate requisitions
than those of the fashionable traveler. I have always hoped for, and
trust at last to obtain, co-operation with our too mildly laborious
copyists, of English artists possessing more brilliant color faculty;
and the permission of our subscribers to secure for them the great ruins
of the noble past, undesecrated by the trim, but treacherous, plastering
of modern emendation.

245. Finally, I hope to direct some of the antiquarian energy often to
be found remaining, even when love of the picturesque has passed away,
to encourage the accurate delineation and engraving of historical
monuments, as a direct function of our schools of art. All that I have
generally to suggest on this matter has been already stated with
sufficient clearness in the first of my inaugural lectures at Oxford:
and my forthcoming 'Elements of Drawing'[BN] will contain all the
directions I can give in writing as to methods of work for such purpose.
The publication of these has been hindered, for at least a year, by the
abuses introduced by the modern cheap modes of printing engravings. I
find the men won't use any ink but what pleases them; nor print but with
what pressure pleases them; and if I can get the foreman to attend to
the business, and choose the ink right, the men change it the moment he
leaves the room, and threaten to throw up the job when they are
detected. All this, I have long known well, is a matter of course, in
the outcome of modern principles of trade; but it has rendered it
hitherto impossible for me to produce illustrations, which have been
ready, as far as my work or that of my own assistants is concerned, for
a year and a half. Any one interested in hearing of our progress--or
arrest, may write to my Turner copyist, Mr. Ward:[BO] and, in the
meantime, they can help my designs for art education best by making
these Turner copies more generally known; and by determining, when they
travel, to spend what sums they have at their disposal, not in fady
photography, but in the encouragement of any good _water-color_ and
_pencil_ draughtsmen whom they find employed in the _galleries_ of

                               ARTICLE II.

                             DETACHED NOTES.


      _On the series of Sibyl engravings attributed to Botticelli._

246. Since I wrote the earlier lectures in this volume, I have been made
more doubtful on several points which were embarrassing enough before,
by seeing some better (so-called) impressions of my favorite plates
containing light and shade which did not improve them.

I do not choose to waste time or space in discussion, till I know more
of the matter; and that more I must leave to my good friend Mr. Reid of
the British Museum to find out for me; for I have no time to take up the
subject myself, but I give, for frontispiece to this Appendix, the
engraving of Joshua referred to in the text, which however beautiful in
thought, is an example of the inferior execution and more elaborate
shade which puzzle me. But whatever is said in the previous pages of the
plates chosen for example, by whomsoever done, is absolutely
trustworthy. Thoroughly fine they are, in their existing state, and
exemplary to all persons and times. And of the rest, in fitting place I
hope to give complete--or at least satisfactory account.


  _On the three excellent engravers representative of the first, middle,
                           and late schools._

[Illustration: XII.

The Coronation in the Garden.]

247. I have given opposite a photograph, slightly reduced from the Dürer
Madonna, alluded to often in the text, as an example of his best
conception of womanhood. It is very curious that Dürer, the least
able of all great artists to represent womanhood, should of late have
been a very principal object of feminine admiration. The last thing a
woman should do is to write about art. They never see anything in
pictures but what they are told, (or resolve to see out of
contradiction,)--or the particular things that fall in with their own
feelings. I saw a curious piece of enthusiastic writing by an Edinburgh
lady, the other day, on the photographs I had taken from the tower of
Giotto. She did not care a straw what Giotto had meant by them, declared
she felt it her duty only to announce what they were to _her_; and wrote
two pages on the bas-relief of Heracles and Antæus--assuming it to be
the death of Abel.

248. It is not, however, by women only that Dürer has been over-praised.
He stands so alone in his own field, that the people who care much for
him generally lose the power of enjoying anything else rightly; and are
continually attributing to the force of his imagination quaintnesses
which are merely part of the general mannerism of his day.

The following notes upon him, in relation to two other excellent
engravers, were written shortly for extempore expansion in lecturing. I
give them, with the others in this terminal article, mainly for use to
myself in future reference; but also as more or less suggestive to the
reader, if he has taken up the subject seriously, and worth, therefore,
a few pages of this closing sheet.

249. The men I have named as representative of all the good ones
composing their school, are alike resolved their engraving shall be

But Botticelli, the ancient, wants, with as little engraving, as much
Sibyl as possible.

Dürer, the central, wants, with as much engraving as possible, anything
of Sibyl that may chance to be picked up with it.

Beaugrand, the modern, wants, as much Sibyl as possible, and as much
engraving too.

250. I repeat--for I want to get this clear to you--Botticelli wants,
with as little engraving, as much Sibyl as possible. For his head is
full of Sibyls, and his heart. He can't draw them fast enough: one
comes, and another and another; and all, gracious and wonderful and
good, to be engraved forever, if only he had a thousand hands and lives.
He scratches down one, with no haste, with no fault, divinely careful,
scrupulous, patient, but with as few lines as possible. 'Another
Sibyl--let me draw another, for heaven's sake, before she has burnt all
her books, and vanished.'

Dürer is exactly Botticelli's opposite. He is a workman, to the heart,
and will do his work magnificently. 'No matter what I do it on, so that
my craft be honorably shown. Anything will do; a Sibyl, a skull, a
Madonna and Christ, a hat and feather, an Adam, an Eve, a cock, a
sparrow, a lion with two tails, a pig with five legs,--anything will do
for me. But see if I don't show you what engraving is, be my subject
what it may!'

251. Thirdly: Beaugrand, I said, wants as much Sibyl as possible, and as
much engraving. He is essentially a copyist, and has no ideas of his
own, but deep reverence and love for the work of others. He will give
his life to represent another man's thought. He will do his best with
every spot and line,--exhibit to you, if you will only look, the most
exquisite completion of obedient skill; but will be content, if you will
not look, to pass his neglected years in fruitful peace, and count every
day well spent that has given softness to a shadow, or light to a smile.


    _On Dürer's landscape, with reference to the sentence on p. 101_:
                        "I hope you are pleased."

252. I spoke just now only of the ill-shaped body of this figure of
Fortune, or Pleasure. Beneath her feet is an elaborate landscape. It is
all drawn out of Dürer's head;--he would look at bones or tendons
carefully, or at the leaf details of foreground;--but at the breadth
and loveliness of real landscape, never.

He has tried to give you a bird's-eye view of Germany; rocks, and woods,
and clouds, and brooks, and the pebbles in their beds, and mills, and
cottages, and fences, and what not; but it is all a feverish dream,
ghastly and strange, a monotone of diseased imagination.

And here is a little bit of the world he would not look at--of the great
river of his land, with a single cluster of its reeds, and two boats,
and an island with a village, and the way for the eternal waters opened
between the rounded hills.[BP]

It is just what you may see any day, anywhere,--innocent, seemingly
artless; but the artlessness of Turner is like the face of
Gainsborough's village girl, and a joy forever.


                       _On the study of anatomy._

253. The virtual beginner of artistic anatomy in Italy was a man called
'The Poulterer'--from his grandfather's trade; 'Pollajuolo,' a man of
immense power, but on whom the curse of the Italian mind in this age[BQ]
was set at its deepest.

Any form of passionate excess has terrific effects on body and soul, in
nations as in men; and when this excess is in rage, and rage against
your brother, and rage accomplished in habitual deeds of blood,--do you
think Nature will forget to set the seal of her indignation upon the
forehead? I told you that the great division of spirit between the
northern and southern races had been reconciled in the Val d'Arno. The
Font of Florence, and the Font of Pisa, were as the very springs of the
life of the Christianity which had gone forth to teach all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Prince of Peace. Yet these two brother
cities were to each other--I do not say as Abel and Cain, but as
Eteocles and Polynices, and the words of Æschylus are now fulfilled in
them to the uttermost. The Arno baptizes their dead bodies:--their
native valley between its mountains is to them as the furrow of a
grave;--"and so much of their land they have, as is sepulcher." Nay, not
of Florence and Pisa only was this true: Venice and Genoa died in
death-grapple; and eight cities of Lombardy divided between them the joy
of leveling Milan to her lowest stone. Nay, not merely in city against
city, but in street against street, and house against house, the fury of
the Theban dragon flamed ceaselessly, and with the same excuse upon
men's lips. The sign of the shield of Polynices, Justice bringing back
the exile, was to them all, in turn, the portent of death: and their
history, in the sum of it and substance, is as of the servants of Joab
and Abner by the pool of Gibeon. "They caught every one his fellow by
the head, and thrust his sword in his fellow's side; so they fell down
together: wherefore that place was called 'the field of the strong

254. Now it is not possible for Christian men to live thus, except under
a fever of insanity. I have before, in my lectures on Prudence and
Insolence in art, deliberately asserted to you the logical accuracy of
the term 'demoniacal possession'[BR]--the being in the power or
possession of a betraying spirit; and the definite sign of such insanity
is delight in witnessing pain, usually accompanied by an instinct that
gloats over or plays with physical uncleanness or disease, and always by
a morbid egotism. It is not to be recognized for demoniacal power so
much by its _viciousness_, as its _paltriness_,--the taking pleasure in
minute, contemptible, and loathsome things.[BS] Now, in the middle of
the gallery of the Brera at Milan, there is an elaborate study of a
dead Christ, entirely characteristic of early fifteenth century Italian
madman's work. It is called--and was presented to the people as--a
Christ; but it _is_ only an anatomical study of a vulgar and ghastly
dead body, with the soles of the feet set straight at the spectator, and
the rest foreshortened. It is either Castagno's or Mantegna's,--in my
mind, set down to Castagno; but I have not looked at the picture for
years, and am not sure at this moment. It does not matter a straw which:
it is exactly characteristic of the madness in which all of
them--Pollajuolo, Castagno, Mantegna, Lionardo da Vinci, and Michael
Angelo, polluted their work with the science of the sepulcher,[BT] and
degraded it with presumptuous and paltry technical skill. Foreshorten
your Christ, and paint Him, if you can, half putrefied,--that is the
scientific art of the Renaissance.

255. It is impossible, however, in so vast a subject to distinguish
always the beginner of things from the establisher. To the poulterer's
son, Pollajuolo, remains the eternal shame of first making insane
contest the only subject of art; but the two _establishers_ of anatomy
were Lionardo and Michael Angelo. You hear of Lionardo chiefly because
of his Last Supper, but Italy did not hear of him for that. This was not
what brought _her_ to worship Lionardo--but the Battle of the Standard.


                   _Fragments on Holbein and others._

256. Of Holbein's St. Elizabeth, remember, she is not a perfect Saint
Elizabeth, by any means. She is an honest and sweet German lady,--the
best he could see; he could do no better;--and so I come back to my old
story,--no man can do better than he sees: if he can reach the nature
round him, it is well; he may fall short of it; he cannot rise above it;
"the best, in this kind, are but shadows."

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet that intense veracity of Holbein is indeed the strength and glory of
all the northern schools. They exist only in being true. Their work
among men is the definition of what is, and the abiding by it. They
cannot dream of what is not. They make fools of themselves if they try.
Think how feeble even Shakspere is when he tries his hand at a
Goddess;--women, beautiful and womanly, as many as you choose; but who
cares what his Minerva or Juno says, in the masque of the Tempest? And
for the painters--when Sir Joshua tries for a Madonna, or Vandyke for a
Diana--they can't even _paint_! they become total simpletons. Look at
Rubens' mythologies in the Louvre, or at modern French heroics, or
German pietisms! Why, all--Cornelius, Hesse, Overbeck, and David--put
together, are not worth one De Hooghe of an old woman with a broom
sweeping a back-kitchen. The one thing we northerns can do is to find
out what is fact, and insist on it: mean fact it may be, or noble--but
fact always, or we die.

257. Yet the intensest form of northern realization can be matched in
the south, when the southerns choose. There are two pieces of animal
drawing in the Sistine Chapel unrivaled for literal veracity. The sheep
at the well in front of Zipporah; and afterwards, when she is going
away, leading her children, her eldest boy, like every one else, has
taken his chief treasure with him, and this treasure is his pet dog. It
is a little sharp-nosed white fox-terrier, full of fire and life; but
not strong enough for a long walk. So little Gershom, whose name was
"the stranger" because his father had been a stranger in a strange
land,--little Gershom carries his white terrier under his arm, lying on
the top of a large bundle to make it comfortable. The doggie puts its
sharp nose and bright eyes out, above his hand, with a little roguish
gleam sideways in them, which means,--if I can read rightly a dog's
expression,--that he has been barking at Moses all the morning and has
nearly put him out of temper:--and without any doubt, I can assert to
you that there is not any other such piece of animal painting in the
world,--so brief, intense, vivid, and absolutely balanced in truth: as
tenderly drawn as if it had been a saint, yet as humorously as
Landseer's Lord Chancellor poodle.

258. Oppose to--

  Holbein's Veracity--Botticelli's Fantasy.
     "      Shade         "        Color.
     "      Despair       "        Faith.
     "      Grossness     "        Purity.

True Fantasy. Botticelli's Tree in Hellespontic Sibyl. Not a real tree
at all--yet founded on intensest perception of beautiful reality. So the
swan of Clio, as opposed to Dürer's cock, or to Turner's swan.

The Italian power of abstraction into one mythologic
personage--Holbein's death is only literal. He has to split his death
into thirty different deaths; and each is but a skeleton. But Orcagna's
death is one--the power of death itself. There may thus be as much
_breadth in thought_, as in execution.

       *       *       *       *       *

259. What then, we have to ask, is a man _conscious of_ in what he sees?

For instance, in all Cruikshank's etchings--however slight the
outline--there is an intense consciousness of light and shade, and of
local color, _as a part_ of light and shade; but none of color itself.
He was wholly incapable of coloring; and perhaps this very deficiency
enabled him to give graphic harmony to engraving.

       *       *       *       *       *

Bewick--snow-pieces, etc. _Gray_ predominant; _perfect sense of color_,
coming out in patterns of birds;--yet so uncultivated, that he engraves
the brown birds better than pheasant or peacock!

For quite perfect consciousness of color makes engraving impossible, and
you have instead--Correggio.


                    _Final notes on light and shade._

260. You will find in the 138th and 147th paragraphs of my Inaugural
lectures, statements which, if you were reading the book by yourselves,
would strike you probably as each of them difficult, and in some degree
inconsistent,--namely, that the school of color has exquisite character
and sentiment; but is childish, cheerful, and fantastic; while the
school of shade is deficient in character and sentiment; but supreme in
intellect and veracity. "The way by light and shade," I say, "is taken
by men of the highest powers of thought and most earnest desire for

The school of shade, I say, is deficient in character and sentiment.
Compare any of Dürer's Madonnas with any of Angelico's.

Yet you may discern in the Apocalypse engravings that Dürer's mind was
seeking for truths, and dealing with questions, which no more could have
occurred to Angelico's mind than to that of a two-years-old baby.

261. The two schools unite in various degrees; but are always
distinguishably generic, the two headmost masters representing each
being Tintoret and Perugino. The one, deficient in sentiment, and
continually offending us by the want of it, but full of intellectual
power and suggestion.

The other, repeating ideas with so little reflection that he gets blamed
for doing the same thing over again, (Vasari); but exquisite in
sentiment and the conditions of taste which it forms, so as to become
the master of it to Raphael and to all succeeding him; and remaining
such a type of sentiment, too delicate to be felt by the latter
practical mind of Dutch-bred England, that Goldsmith makes the
admiration of him the test of absurd connoisseurship. But yet, with
under-current of intellect, which gets him accused of free-thinking, and
therefore with under-current of entirely exquisite chiaroscuro.

Light and shade, then, imply the understanding of things--Color, the
imagination and the sentiment of them.

262. In Turner's distinctive work, color is scarcely acknowledged unless
under influence of sunshine. The sunshine is his treasure; his lividest
gloom contains it; his grayest twilight regrets it, and remembers. Blue
is always a blue shadow; brown or gold, always light;--nothing is
cheerful but sunshine; wherever the sun is not, there is melancholy or
evil. Apollo is God; and all forms of death and sorrow exist in
opposition to him.

But in Perugino's distinctive work,--and therefore I have given him the
captain's place over all,--there is simply _no_ darkness, _no_ wrong.
Every color is lovely, and every space is light. The world, the
universe, is divine: all sadness is a part of harmony; and all gloom, a
part of peace.

                          THE END.


[BL] See note to the close of this article, p. 156.

[BM] The raven, however, like all Dickens's animals, is perfect: and I
am the more angry with the rest because I have every now and then to
open the book to look for him.

[BN] "Laws of Fésole."

[BO] 2, Church Terrace, Richmond, Surrey. NOTE.--I have hitherto
permitted Mr. Ward to copy any Turner drawing he was asked to do; but,
finding there is a run upon the vignettes of Loch Lomond and Derwent, I
have forbidden him to do more of them for the present, lest his work
should get the least mechanical. The admirable drawings of Venice, by my
good assistant, Mr. Bunney, resident there, will become of more value to
their purchasers every year, as the buildings from which they are made
are destroyed. I was but just in time, working with him at Verona, to
catch record of Fra Giocondo's work in the smaller square; the most
beautiful Renaissance design in North Italy.

[BP] The engraving of Turner's "Scene on the Rhine" (near Bingen?) with
boats on the right, and reedy foreground on the left; the opening
between its mountain banks in central distance. It is exquisitely
engraved, the plate being of the size of the drawing, about ten inches
by six, and finished with extreme care and feeling.

[BQ] See the horrible picture of St. Sebastian by him in our own
National Gallery.

[BR] See "The Eagle's Nest," § 79.

[BS] As in the muscles of the legs and effort in stretching bows, of the
executioners, in the picture just referred to.

[BT] Observe, I entirely distinguish the study of _anatomy_--i.e., of
intense bone and muscle--from study of the nude, as the Greeks practiced
it. This for an entirely great painter is absolutely necessary; but yet
I believe, in the case of Botticelli, it was nobly restricted. The
following note by Mr. Tyrwhitt contains, I think, the probable truth:--

"The facts relating to Sandro Botticelli's models, or rather to his
favorite model (as it appears to me), are but few; and it is greatly to
be regretted that his pictures are seldom dated;--if it were certain in
what order they appeared, what follows here might approach moral

"There is no doubt that he had great personal regard for Fra Filippo, up
to that painter's death in 1469, Sandro being then twenty-two years old.
He may probably have got only good from him; anyhow he would get a
strong turn for Realism,--i.e. the treatment of sacred and all other
subjects in a realistic manner. He is described in Crowe and
Cavalcaselle from Filippino Lippi's Martyrdom of St. Peter, as a sullen
and sensual man, with beetle brows, large fleshy mouth, etc., etc.
Probably he was a strong man, and intense in physical and intellectual

"This man, then, begins to paint in his strength, with
conviction--rather happy and innocent than not--that it is right to
paint any beautiful thing, and best to paint the most beautiful,--say in
1470, at twenty-three years of age. The allegorical Spring and the
Graces, and the Aphrodite now in the Ufficii, were painted for Cosmo,
and seem to be taken by Vasari and others as early, or early-central,
works in his life: also the portrait of Simonetta Vespucei[1]. He is
known to have painted much in early life for the Vespucei and the
Medici;--and this daughter of the former house seems to have been
inamorata or mistress of Giuliano de' Medici, murdered by the Pazzi in
1478. Now it seems agreed by Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Pater, etc., (and I
am quite sure of it myself as to the pictures mentioned)--first, that
the same slender and long-throated model appears in Spring, the
Aphrodite, Calumny, and other works.[2] Secondly, that she was
Simonetta, the original of the Pitti portrait.

"Now I think she must have been induced to let Sandro draw from her
whole person undraped, more or less; and that he must have done so as
such a man probably would, in strict honor as to deed, word, and
_definite_ thought, but under occasional accesses of passion of which he
said nothing, and which in all probability and by grace of God refined
down to nil, or nearly so, as he got accustomed to look in honor at so
beautiful a thing. (He may have left off the undraped after her death.)
First, her figure is absolutely fine Gothic; I don't think any antique
is so slender. Secondly, she has the sad, passionate, and exquisite
Lombard mouth. Thirdly, her limbs shrink together, and she seems not
quite to have 'liked it' or been an accustomed model. Fourthly, there is
tradition, giving her name to all those forms.

"Her lover Giuliano was murdered in 1478, and Savonarola hanged and
burnt in 1498. Now, can her distress, and Savonarola's preaching,
between them, have taken, in few years, all the carnality out of Sandro,
supposing him to have come already, by seventy-eight, to that state in
which the sight of her delighted him, without provoking ulterior
feelings? All decent men accustomed to draw from the nude tell us they
get to that.

"Sandro's Dante is dated as published in 1482. He may have been
saddening by that time, and weary of beauty, pure or mixed;--though he
went on painting Madonnas, I fancy. (Can Simonetta be traced in any of
them? I think not. The Sistine paintings extend from 1481 to 1484,
however. I cannot help thinking Zipporah is impressed with her.) After
Savonarola's death, Sandro must have lost heart, and gone into Dante
altogether. Most ways in literature and art lead to Dante; and this
question about the nude and the purity of Botticelli is no exception to
the rule.

"Now in the Purgatorio, Lust is the last sin of which we are to be made
pure, and it has to be burnt out of us; being itself as searching as
fire, as smoldering, devouring, and all that. Corruptio: optimi pessima;
and it is the most searching and lasting of evils, because it really is
a corruption attendant on true Love, which is eternal--whatever the word
means. That this is so, seems to me to demonstrate the truth of the Fall
of Man from the condition of moral very-goodness in God's sight. And I
think that Dante connected the purifying pains of his intermediate state
with actual sufferings in this life, working out repentance,--in himself
and others. And the 'torment' of this passion, to the repentant or
resisting, or purity-seeking soul is decidedly like the pain of physical

"Further, its casuistry is impracticable; because the more you stir the
said 'fire' the stronger hold it takes. Therefore, men and women are
_rightly_ secret about it, and detailed confessions unadvisable. Much
talk about 'hypocrisy' in this matter is quite wrong and unjust. Then,
its connection with female beauty, as a cause of love between man and
woman, seems to me to be the inextricable nodus of the Fall, the here
inseparable mixture of good and evil, till soul and body are parted. For
the sense of seen Beauty is the awakening of Love, at whatever distance
from any kind of return or sympathy--as with a rose, or what not. Sandro
may be the man who has gone nearest to the right separation of Delight
from Desire: supposing that he began with religion and a straight
conscience; saw lovingly the error of Fra Filippo's way; saw with
intense distant love the error of Simonetta's; and reflected on Florence
and _its_ way, and drew nearer and nearer to Savonarola, being yet too
big a man for asceticism; and finally wearied of all things and sunk
into poverty and peace."

[1] Pitti, Stanza di Prometeo, 348.

[2] I think Zipporah may be a remembrance of her.

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| List of Plates: Fac-simile standardised to Facsimile (3 occurrences) |
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| List of Plates, Illustration III: Fesole standardised to Fésole      |
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| List of Plates: Obedienta corrected to Obediente                     |
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| Pages 10, 31, 105: Leonardo standardised to Lionardo                 |
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