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Title: Where Art Begins
Author: Nisbet, James Hume
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                           WHERE ART BEGINS

                   _Crown 8vo. cloth extra, 2s. 6d._

                            LESSONS IN ART.

                            By HUME NISBET.

                _With 22 Illustrations by the Author._

     'A book which merits prompt and hearty recognition.... Mr. Nisbet
     is himself an accomplished artist, and the book is the outcome of
     long years spent in the attempt to teach others the principles and
     laws of painting and drawing.... Mr. Nisbet possesses such an
     enviable faculty of clear and attractive exposition that this
     little book is sure to make its own welcome.'--LEEDS MERCURY.

     'A readable little volume.... The author has endeavoured to write
     out some of the strictly necessary rules and laws of drawing and
     painting for the use of students, so that they may be able to work
     at home, and spare their masters a number of questions if they are
     at art schools. The book deals with drawing and painting in water
     and oil colour, and concludes with "Hints on General Art."... Art
     students will, no doubt, find the little work helpful, and the
     general reader may dip into it with pleasure.'--PALL MALL GAZETTE.

     'A very useful book for young students.... Mr. Nisbet has a knack
     of explanation so clear and pointed that few can fail to understand
     the many practical hints with which the little book abounds.... The
     book may be cordially commended.'--SCOTSMAN.

     'A most entertaining as well as instructive book, that will commend
     itself to young and old alike. To the author's experience as an art
     teacher is doubtless due the lucid manner in which he writes. The
     completeness and range of the lessons are remarkable.'--MANCHESTER
     EXAMINER.

     'The advice given will certainly succeed in its aim of enabling art
     students to work at home and "spare their masters a number of
     questions." Equally helpful will be the examples of drawing and
     painting with which the letterpress is relieved, and which is
     invariably of a high order of merit.'--SCOTTISH LEADER.

     'Quite one of the best books of the kind which we have recently
     encountered is Mr. Nisbet's "Lessons in Art"; a little volume
     filled with sound and practical advice, and charmingly
     illustrated.... This little book possesses distinct merit, and that
     of a kind which is never too common in popular manuals.'--SPEAKER.

     'With this book at hand no one need be at a loss, and may, by
     attending to the valuable instructions given, become not only
     proficient, but attain to a meritorious position as an
     artist.'--STIRLING JOURNAL.

     'The first part of the book treats of drawing, and is in the main
     practical in aim and useful as guidance.'--SATURDAY REVIEW.

     'A very useful handbook for beginners.'--GRAPHIC.

     'A book written by a teacher who is an artist, and who fortunately
     remembers that he has been a student, and doubtless this is why the
     sympathies of his readers are promptly enlisted.'--DAILY CHRONICLE.

     '"Lessons in Art" should prove of use to both pupils and
     teachers.'--MORNING POST.

     'As a teacher in the old School of Arts, Edinburgh, Mr. Nisbet may
     be credited with knowing the kind of questions which students are
     likely to ask, and he has here answered them in theoretical and
     practical detail.'--GLASGOW HERALD.

              London: CHATTO & WINDUS, 214 Piccadilly, W.

       [Illustration: A NEW ZEALAND FERN-TREE GULLY [_p._ 129]]



                           WHERE ART BEGINS

                                  BY

                              HUME NISBET

                               AUTHOR OF
           'LESSONS IN ART', 'LIFE AND NATURE STUDIES' ETC.

                            [Illustration]

                        _WITH 27 ILLUSTRATIONS_

                                LONDON

                      CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY
                                 1892


                               DEDICATED

                       WITH AFFECTIONATE REGARDS

                   TO MY DEAR FRIEND AND WELL-WISHER

                       EDMUND J. BAILLIE, F.L.S.

                              OF CHESTER

[Illustration]



INTRODUCTION


When a few really congenial spirits meet together, it is astonishing how
quickly the subject which perhaps one of the party starts will grow, and
how many branches it will shoot out before its vitality can be
considered exhausted.

My present subject has grown up in a very congenial atmosphere. A number
of sympathetic students, who learnt to appreciate my practical work,
continued to draw from me some ideas partly practical, partly
theoretical, on the subject which has always been a part religion with
me, whether in my working or my dreaming moments--Art and its
all-permeating influence over humanity in the social and spiritual
conditions. I take it that Art permeates the entire body of humanity,
from the flesh-devouring savage to the asphodel-adoring æsthetic, in a
greater or lesser degree, according to the sanitary conditions of their
lives; and as it permeates, so it brings us closer to what we regard as
human perfection.

In this spirit I have written out the following reflections, blending
the practical with the theoretical and personal, as a pendant to my
'Lessons in Art' and 'Life and Nature Studies.' In the first book I have
attempted to give the Alpha of Art; in the second I have given the
Omega, as far as I myself know about Art; and in the present I have
sought to give something of what lies between.

Whether I have been lucid enough to enable the reader to follow me, or
sympathetic enough to interest him in my subject, I must leave to his
own judgment. I can only say that my views are the reflections of one
item appealing to other items in the big sum of humanity, written out
honestly as the outcome of his own personal experience of the subject
which interests him most deeply, and with the hope that he may find some
readers who have had similar thoughts upon Art and Mankind, although
they may not have been tempted to write them down. With this hope I
leave my book to the consideration and judgment of each reader.

HUME NISBET.

HOGARTH CLUB: _June 1892_.

[Illustration]



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                 PAGE

INTRODUCTION                                              ix

A WORD BEFORE                                              1

I. WHERE ART BEGINS                                        5

II. A STUDY IN LIGHT AND SHADOW                           26

III. THE PRIMARIES: YELLOW, RED, AND BLUE                 56

IV. ART IN ITS RELATIONSHIP TO EVERYDAY LIFE              97

V. ON PICTURE LIGHTING                                   119

VI. SHIPS: ANCIENT AND MODERN                            132

VII. ILLUSTRATIVE ART: PAST AND PRESENT                  150

VIII. ART IN MINOR DIRECTIONS                            176

IX. DRESS AND DECORATION                                 196

X. SOME OF THE OLD MASTERS                               229

XI. THE SACRED AND THE COMIC SIDES OF ART                250

XII. ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH ART              272

XIII. NATURE WORSHIP                                     297

INDEX                                                    317

[Illustration]



ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                        PAGE

A NEW ZEALAND FERN-TREE GULLY.                 _Frontispiece_

REPOSE.                             _Vignette for title-page_

GROUP OF FISHER-FOLK. _From a photograph by
John Foster of Coldstream_                                 5

A GROUP OF WORKING HORSES. _From a photograph by John Foster of
Coldstream_                                               26

ANCIENT ASSYRIAN HALL: THE FEAST OF SARDANAPALUS. _From a
sepia sketch by the Author_                               56

AN ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CORRIDOR. _From a sepia sketch
by the Author_                                            61

ON THE ESK RIVER, TASMANIA. _From a photograph by Major
Aikenhead, Launceston_                                    97

A NEW GUINEA VILLAGE. _A study of lighting from behind_  125

NOAH'S ARK. _A process paper drawing_                    132

SHIP-OF-THE-LINE, 1815. _Pen and ink_                    134

A VIKING BOAT. _Process paper_                           138

FISHING BOATS. _Pen and ink_                             142

HOMEWARD BOUND. _Process paper_                          143

THE STORM. _Pen and ink_                                 147

AT REST. _Pen and ink_                                   148

FROM BREYDENBACH'S TRAVELS                               150

ST. CHRISTOPHER. _From 'A Treatise on Wood-Engraving,'
page 46_                                                 153

HISTORY OF THE VIRGIN MARY. _From 'A Treatise on Wood-Engraving,'
page 72_                                                 154

ALBERT DÜRER'S APOCALYPSE                                156

BY CHRISTOPHER JEGHER, AFTER RUBENS                      158

A PANEL OF BLACK AND GOLD                                176

INITIAL LETTER O, AND MOONLIGHT                          196

THE AVENUE--HOBBEMA                                      229

HARMONY. _A night effect_                                250

ART SUBJECTS                                             272

A GARDEN SCENE                                           297

THE ANCIENT NILE                                         300

     _Note A._--John Foster, of Coldstream, is one of the most
     accomplished of photographic artists, who has made a specialty of
     cattle groups, and whose studies are nearly always perfect in their
     grouping and effect.

     _Note B._--Major W. Aikenhead, of the Launceston Rifle Regiment,
     Tasmania, favoured me with some of his finest specimens, with
     permission to reproduce them. His aerial effects are wonderful and
     delicate, too tender in most instances for reproduction by process:
     therefore I have been compelled to give one of his most positive
     pictures as a specimen of his art and the beauties of the country
     in which he works.

[Illustration]



WHERE ART BEGINS



_A WORD BEFORE_


[Illustration: I]N the first flush of youth our imaginative faculties
are very active. In childhood we rove through Fairyland and play with
the little elves; in youth the tiny elves have grown up to be nymphs of
our own size and age, and from the summer moonlight we step into the
rosy dawn, all fragrant and lightsome, with a glamour over everything
which is delicious to our senses. By-and-by, as youth falls from us, we
step out from the glades and meadows into the dry and dusty highway of
life, our bags upon our backs and our rakes in our hands, with a long
stretch of uninteresting country before us and a shadeless sky above us;
we go out to gather specimens and dissect everything which we cannot
understand. Then comes the twilight, when we sit down to rest upon the
cliffs at the end of the road, with a limitless ocean in front of us,
and what we have left behind.

In childhood, youth, and manhood we are for ever looking forward; in age
we are apt to look behind.

In childhood, youth, and manhood we have very little room in our hearts
for pity or charity, but when we sit down calmly to rest and look back,
if the angels of divine pity and universal charity are not near to us to
counsel and condone, our case is hopeless in the extreme.

The world has lost its childhood, and so there are no longer fairies in
it; it is quickly losing its youth, and Love does not now flutter
through the sky, a living cherub, but lies on the ground motionless,
denuded of its wings, waiting shiveringly for the sharp knife of the
vivisector.

Everything sacred or emotional is put to the test of reason, and we are
growing so hard and matter-of-fact, that what might have made us weep
before only affords matter for discussion now.

Yet misery and poverty and suffering are with us still, as they were
always; perhaps more so now, when the few are becoming richer and the
many poorer and less able to fight.

Still, one softening relic of the past remains to us, although it is
taking on the garments of the age--Art, which, however much it may
strive to imitate the emotionless present, no more can exist without
emotion than could the rainbow without colour.

True art is like what religion ought to be--all-sufficing and
all-embracing. Within its magic circle live the virtues and the vices,
so that when the student approaches he may take his choice with which to
walk through life.

If he takes the virtues as his guides, he paints and understands only
beauty, and thus raises himself and his audience towards faith, love,
and charity.

If he takes the vices, he becomes brutishly realistic and degraded,
inspiring his audience with unbelief, passion, and hopeless selfishness.

And therefore, as charity is the greatest of all the virtues, I take my
art as the direct inspiration towards charity; feeling that if this
angel follows me along the dry highway, and shelters me with her
spreading wings, when I come to the cliffs and sit down to rest I may
look behind and see the sins I have left covered with white flowers and
that limitless ocean bathed in the golden glory of the setting day--a
day not all mis-spent or profitless.

How to do the best for art, since art can do so much for us, is the
intention I have had in the writing of these chapters. How to live so
that we may be in the best condition to fulfil our obligations without
losing a moment of the time at our disposal, this is the motive of these
self-reflections.

Looking round upon nature, I find that the animals nearest perfection
are graminivorous--that is, nearest to that state of peace and purity
which we believe Heaven to be--whilst the carnivora represent the vices
of unrest, passion, cruelty, and ambition.

Reasoning out this observation further, I think that if man could live
naturally, without excitement and haste or the voracious desire for
place and fortune, he would become more poetic, more art-loving, and
charitable; therefore, nearer to a state of perfection by imitating the
graminivora than he will by following the habits of the carnivora.

Still, I must admit that before this can be accomplished society must be
altogether changed. From experience as a vegetarian and a
non-vegetarian, I have come to the conclusion that unless man can afford
to step aside from the rushing stream of competition, and the thousand
excitements which hurry us along in a mad race with every nerve on the
strain, he cannot possibly be a vegetarian, or, in its highest sense, a
true artist.

I think that climate has nothing whatever to do with this question, but
that the false conditions of life have everything to do with it. The
most God-like man is the one who can abnegate without feeling the
sacrifice. This is the ideal man, and he will be a vegetarian.

But he who is forced into the arena of life by circumstances, and who is
compelled to fight, must live as the fighting animals live, and be
carnivorous.

This is the choice in life which some of us have before us at the start,
and to those who can choose I mainly address these chapters. For the
rest, who, like myself, must run at breakneck pace until we fall down
and die, I can only pray for indulgence from the angels of pity and
charity.

[Illustration]

[Illustration: GROUP OF FISHER-FOLK

(_From a photograph by John Foster of Coldstream_)]



CHAPTER I

_WHERE ART BEGINS_


[Illustration: S]TANDING, as I do at present, in front of the partly
opened gateway to that land of wonders--photographic discovery--I should
like to begin my remarks, before looking through the narrow aperture,
with a glance backwards, say twenty years, to what the science and art
were then, and what they have since become, before we surmise what
it--photography--may be twenty years hereafter.

I mean to take up photography only where it joins hands with my own
work--painting--in the broad sense of the word, which, I may safely
assert, is taking it nearly all round.

When I look back twenty years to the time at which I first began to mix
with the professors of the sun-craft--'Brothers of the Light,' to use an
occult term--and compare the work of those days with the results of this
day, and think upon all it may yet be, it is with a feeling of profound
astonishment, not unmixed with admiring envy, that I regard the young
scientist beginning a career so filled with possibilities and future
discoveries. It seems as if I, the painter, walked upon a highway
tramped down by countless travellers, leading to an end definite and
unavoidable, while he has before him only a little distance marked out,
with a vast country to explore, as his mind and genius may best
determine.

Many years ago my father took it into his head to begin a photographic
business. He did not know much about it himself, although he had a good
knowledge of chemistry; but he was an enthusiast in experiments and a
credulous believer in the honesty of mankind. Therefore, through the
advice of a friend, he built a glass-house, bought some cameras and
chemicals (it was in the wet-plate days), laid in a stock of
handsomely-designed mounts, &c., and advertised for an operator.

I dare say a great number of photographers have gone through a similar
experience, thinking, as he did, that this was about the whole which was
required to start a future flourishing business, and that the operator,
like the cameras, would be equally easy to procure, provided the money
was there to pay for them.

He bought cameras and hired operators. I think he got through about a
dozen of the one, and about half a hundred of the other, before he woke
up to the knowledge that something else was required before the business
could be built up on a firm basis or the public satisfied with the
efforts made to please them.

In those days backgrounds and accessories were not greatly considered as
the means towards an artistic end. One plain background and one a little
complicated were all that the operator considered needful, with a carved
chair or fluted pilaster; and thus the multitude were turned out with a
set, fixed stare, full front, bolt upright. If male, a lenient
photographer might permit one leg to cross the other by way of ease. The
female portion generally sat with hands meekly crossed over the lap and
a curtain falling gracefully on one side, like the heroic portraits of
the times of Sir Benjamin West.

When I had painted the fancy background--a room with a bay-window partly
open, revealing an Italian lake with a 'palace lifting to eternal
summer' its (half concealed) 'marble walls'--and got a house painter to
do the plain subject, we were ready to begin work, and to turn out your
Dick and Harry by the rose-tinted dozen, all as visitors to that
wire-work painted Italian lake. I had not then learned the value of
suggestive mystery, nor did I do justice to the imagination of our
public. I considered then that a fact could not be too plainly told--a
mistake often committed by ardent youth.

We changed our operators rapidly. Some had been old positive men, who
had no sympathy with the negative system, therefore, out of principle,
spoilt all the negatives they took; some had a weakness for ardent
spirits and strong tobacco while at work, and, in consequence, made
mistakes with their solutions; others, again, developed such an
extraordinary appetite for gold and silver, that the most profitable
business in the world could never have supplied the baths they required
to go on with. We tried a number of wandering workers, who, having
pawned their own stock-in-trade, came with arms out at elbow, and stayed
with us just long enough to do away with most of our stock as well as
with the feebly growing trade; yet my father held out, tried another and
another, and sunk a lot of money in that glass-house, before he
eventually came to the conclusion that it would be much more
satisfactory and less expensive to devote it entirely to plants and the
growing of grape-vines.

While those experiments were going on, I was picking up some stray
crumbs of knowledge. My artistic instincts and a fair education made me
revolt against that instrument of torture, the head-rest, and I tried to
pose the sitters a little more naturally than by the rigid regimental
rule. Of course, the time required for the sitter to remain steady in
those wet-plate days necessitated a rest of some sort, so, considering
all things, I suppose they took portraits then passably well; one point
to be specially regarded with regret being, that the young photographer
had more chance of learning the details of his trade thoroughly than he
has now, with all the facilities for ease and comfort in the prepared
dry-plate processes, for I contend that in all trades and professions a
man to be thorough ought to learn the way to prepare his materials from
the very foundation, as well as to be able to work with them after they
are ready for his hand, as the old Masters did with their canvases and
colours, and the old positive men with their collodion and other
chemicals. We must look back with the same admiration on these men
fighting so manfully with difficulties, now all smoothed away by our
instantaneous plate manufacturers, as a modern tourist crossing the
Atlantic (saloon fashion) may recall the same passage made by
Christopher Columbus in his fishing-boat of a Spanish galley.

Of the many experimentalists migrating through that glass-house during
their earthly pilgrimages and its photographic existence, I can recall
two who stand out most prominently; one an Italian pantomimist and
Jack-of-all-trades, who did the most damage in the shortest space of
time, and the other a German atheistic disciple of Voltaire, scouter of
Providence and blind believer in chance, who stayed the longest, and
taught me, as the serpent of old did Mother Eve, the greatest amount of
good and evil.

The pantomimist brought with him a wife and a large family, squatted
upon the premises _en masse_, and cleared it out as completely as a
cloud of locusts are said to demolish the track of country they settle
upon; he was an ingratiating man, who could do almost anything from
pitch-and-toss down to swallowing a camera, stand and all; and his
fascinating family were equally handy in the art of stowing away. If the
grocer's and butcher's bills had not, after their hasty departure, come
in to be settled by my father, I should have been convinced that they
devoured nitrate of silver for their dinner, aiding the digestion by a
dessert of chloride of gold, so much of those two articles was consumed
during that brief visit to the paternal roof of these interesting and
noble refugees.

The little German could work, but objected strongly to my introducing
any novelties in the way of pose or accessories. He had been brought up
to regard a fluted pilaster as a necessity of life, likewise a
cushioned, carved easy chair with the marble palace, whether the sitter
was a clerk or a clodhopper; there they stood, full front, fixed at
attention, with an excruciating and ghastly grin distorting each face,
flooded with light; the pilaster on the right, easy chair on the left,
and the smiling lake with its startling detail all in the foreground,
and brought out regardless of consistency or sentiment. I used to argue
the point, and strive to surround a sitter with the accessories to which
his daily occupations entitled him, but without avail; the operator
would turn me off with a piece of Voltairean philosophy, or, what was
harder to endure, a smack on the ear, the artist and the photographer
standing then as distinctly apart as now they are so closely united.

But, with all his faults, he was a good chemist and a reader of books;
had he been less of an investigator he might have been more of an
artist, but so long as he could overcome the chemical changes in his
baths and emulsions, conquer fogs and frillings, and produce a clear,
undeniable likeness, he rested on his laurels, saved his money, and
blasphemed creation. Twice a year he took a week's leave of absence,
during which time I posed sitters to my entire satisfaction, and ruined
plates innumerable. These holidays he invariably devoted to the
racecourse; ridiculing a God, he worshipped Dame Fortune; put his entire
half-year's savings, without fail, on the wrong horse, got kicked about
by the welshers, and returned to his duty ornamented with a pair of
blackened eyes and bruised frontispiece, a sadder but never a wiser man;
his faith in his particular crotchets being as pathetic and unbounded as
was his utter disbelief in a future state.

In those early days photographers did not trouble themselves much about
light and shadow--_i.e._ the subtleties and refinements of light and
shadow. To me, an artist, the sight of a good daguerreotype, with its
silver lustre, soft light, and indefinite masses of shadow, is
infinitely superior to the crude attempts at _carte_-printing in its
early stages; the finest studio work of to-day harks back to those
chance effects of imperfect knowledge, or time-workings, as the great
painter strives to cultivate the freshness of early attempts, or the
mellowing upon the canvases of the old painters. I have seen effects hit
by chance from young pupils, who regarded them as failures through want
of experience, which I would give a great deal to have been able to
imitate; and so, the longer a man lives, thinks, and works, the more
eagerly he watches immature attempts, and the more he can learn from
seeming failures; for when a man is struggling with all his might to get
at an object, he is wrestling with an angel, as Jacob did, and though he
may be lamed, as Jacob was lamed, yet the failure is so illuminated with
a divine light that success may be read between the lines. He thinks he
has failed, and that the ground is strewn only with the shattered pieces
of his frail armour, whereas it is covered with the jewels which he has
torn from his mighty antagonist; as he lies back panting and oblivious
from exhaustion, he can see nothing of all this, but to the onlooker it
seems a triumph, to the after-gleaners it means success.

You all know from experience how photography has grown, what giant
strides it has made year after year, and how it is marching on. First a
shadow on a metal plate; an impression upon glass, when all that art
attempted was a little coloured powder to give it a life-like look; a
staring print upon paper, where art sometimes stepped in and painted
over. Then the modelling upon the negative, where art must reign
supreme, where anatomy must be studied and mind dominate, and which, as
far as I can see, has no ending in the way of possibilities. There is no
need for a man to use paints and canvases to write artist, in the
fullest sense of the term, after his name, if he is master of the art of
manipulating a negative; here art begins, after the posing, and has a
delicate and very great mission to fulfil.

When I think upon the vastness of this field where an artist may wander
at will, and how little really has yet been done in comparison to what
may be done, I could almost wish that this had been my lot in life
rather than what it is. Ambition! why, a man may have the desires of a
Napoleon, and yet find relief for them all in the great art of
remodelling: but of that anon.


POSING

It is a very difficult matter to take a point in the career of a
photograph--from the moment the sitter enters the studio until the
_carte_ is packed up--where art does not occupy the principal share. To
begin when the sitter enters, and the artist looks upon him or her, as
the case may be, as a subject upon which to expend all his skill,
imagination, and brain force--in somewhat the same sense as a subject
painter regards his model, so the photographic artist ought to regard
his sitter; yet in somewhat of a reverse sense also; for whereas the
painter suits his model to his subject, and therefore has the easier
task, that of working out a preconceived idea, the photographic artist
must be an impromptu man--he must improvise his subject to suit his
sitter. To a true artist the strain upon the reflective and imaginative
faculties must be tremendous, for he needs to vary and strike subjects
for every sitter who enters; and yet this is his imperative duty if he
is an enthusiast in his art, which all great photographers must be.

It has amused me often to hear painters attempt to sneer at the
photographer who called himself an artist: painters who are content with
one or two subject ideas for twelve months, resting with an air of
infinite superiority upon this painfully conceived and, in many cases,
rather stale idea, and gazing down from the stucco pedestal of their own
arrogance upon the photographic artist with his ten and often twenty
ideas per day! Of course I understand that they, the single-idea men, do
this through ignorance and want of due reflection, and that the more
barren they are themselves, the more they are likely to sneer at the
fertility of others; this I take to be one of the natural laws of
nature.

A sitter enters--a lady, young, good-looking, and handsomely dressed, to
meet another young, good-looking lady just going out. Fashion rules both
fair subjects much in the same way as regards costume; a change of
colour perhaps, but cut in much the same tyrannical style. The colour
may make a slight difference in the two photographs, yet not sufficient
to redeem the artist, who has only light and shadow to work with, if he
cannot strike out something in the posing and accessories to
individualise the different subjects or sitters. But the photographic
artist, perhaps, has had six or seven young ladies, similarly dressed,
one after another, during that forenoon, each sitter with her own ideas
how she ought to be taken--ideas gleaned from someone else's pose, or
something she has seen in a shop window or an album--ideas which the
original instincts of the artist rebel against. The same may be said of
the portrait painter, only that he has days, sometimes weeks, to study
his subject, whereas the photographer is only allowed moments to collect
his well-nigh scattered faculties. Again, the painter has variety of
colour with which to cover over a repetition of design; but with black
and white, a repetition will be at once discovered. This I mention as
one only of many difficulties besetting the studio of a photographic
artist from the moment the sitter enters, which renders his task all the
more harassing, and which cannot trouble the layer-on of colours.

A true photographer seems to me to rank with, and resemble, the
troubadours of the middle ages, poets who poured out their impromptu
verses to the call of the audience. He ought to be a reader of faces--a
close scrutiniser of the inner workings of the subject before him; catch
with an eagle glance the peculiarities of gait, the tricks of motion;
and be gifted with the rare discrimination which can separate the
natural habits from the society affectations. I think a photographer
ought never to be in the studio when the sitter first enters. He or she
ought to be left a little time alone, or rather, a special chamber ought
to be set apart where the sitter may enter, with artistic objects to
attract the attention placed about the room, while the artist, for a few
moments, from an unseen point, may watch and study his subjects when
they think themselves unobserved; afterwards let an employé enter and
address the sitter while the photographer still watches from his point
of observation, by which means he may judge and learn what is the
difference between the sitter when alone and when in society. And so he
may wait, after the instantaneous plate is in the camera, for the moment
when the sitter unconsciously looks natural, to flash the light upon her
or him; indeed, I have thought if the studios could be so constructed
that the operator need never enter the room at all, but have the camera
so adjusted from an outside room that the sitters might not know the
moment they were taken, it would be best--for, to me, naturalism is
always before even a first-class sighted likeness. However, if the
photographer knows the peculiarities of his sitter, and these be comely
peculiarities, he will pose so as to bring them sufficiently out for his
purpose.

There are many rules laid down by Rubens, Titian, Reynolds, and other
masters for the composition and arrangement of pictures; but of all the
stiff, conventional laws laid down, I incline to the jerky, spirited,
and contradictory sentences of the American painter, William Hunt, in
his 'Talks about Art,' for I never yet knew a law in art which ought not
to be ruled by circumstances and the good taste of the artist. The
moment a man allows a law to govern him, independent of the great law of
reason, he becomes a feeble imitator, and no longer dares launch out
into the unknown regions of originality.

Of course, it is strictly necessary to learn all about rules before we
dare infringe upon them, for our own convenience and the good of our
object, the first and great consideration of the artist, whether of the
brush or of the lens. We must learn the laws of lines and directions--we
must know exactly how far we dare intrude the angles or blend the orders
without being accused of barbarism; yet, to me, there is nothing so
delightful as to fling a defiance in the face of time-worn laws, if my
art knowledge and common sense acquits me of sin in the matter of
taste--_i.e._ my own ideal of what taste ought to be, not Michael
Angelo's, or Titian's, or Reynolds'. Knowing their habits by heart, I
would not hesitate to turn my back upon them if they did not lie in the
lines of my own observations of the multitudinous and ever-crossing laws
of nature.

Still, I would have the artist learn all those laws. As the doctor
studies botany, so would I have the photographer learn thoroughly the
laws of chemistry, physiognomy, and face anatomy, which alone can make
him master of his great profession; for no man can defy a law who only
knows the half of its capabilities and powers. The object in art
justifies the means always; but we must not use illegitimate if
legitimate means will answer the same end.

In arranging a sitter or model, both painters and photographers are apt
to do just a little too much--adjusting this fold and planting that
accessory so as to get them within the form they have determined. I like
purity of style as well as anyone, yet it is very disgusting to hear all
the twaddle talked about fine lines of direction, ellipses, pyramids,
and serpentine lines. The painter or photographer who cannot thank God
for a lucky chance or an accidental fold is at the best only a smart
mechanic, and no artist.

My advice in posing would be:--Try to arrange as little as possible.
Leave well as much alone as you can, for, depend upon it, all your
adjusting will never better what chance and nature have arranged between
them for your use, but will only tire out the subject and render the
picture artificial. If not according to your preconceived ideas, accept
the change as something better, and work your best upon it as a servant
who has got a new task set by a great and unquestionable mistress.


LIGHTING

After posing comes the lighting up of your picture. This portion of the
art of photography has become so very far advanced, and there are still
so many difficulties in the way of perfect control, that I feel a
little timid about suggesting any improvement, lest I should be met by
the scientific reply that the thing is not possible; and yet I have such
faith in the future of photography that I do not consider anything
impossible to the operator who flings his whole soul into the discovery
of nature's secrets. Light to be manipulated at will, lenses to grasp
objects in and out of the present focus with equal intensity and
proportion: as a painter places objects upon his canvas at what distance
and under what shadow he pleases, so I think the photographer will yet
do, and that before long, as he will, I am sure, yet be able to
reproduce by the camera and his chemicals all the colours in the object
set up before him, as he sees it reflected upon his ground-glass
focussing plate.

In painting, for instance, the great duty of the worker is to have one
pure light as small as possible as a focussing point for the eye to go
out to first, with a point of darkness to balance that light, as the
light is more striking than the dark. A very small spot of white will
serve as a balance to a larger proportion of black, so the wise painter
is very chary of his pure white.

In landscape this rule is exactly the same, grey predominating in its
various degrees over all. Of course I am aware that in landscape
photography we have _as yet_ no means of controlling the lens, that
objects must just be reproduced as they stand, and that the utmost the
artist can do is to choose a good stand-point with a favourable light,
and make the best of it. Yet I foresee the time when the operator shall
have instruments so constructed that he will be able to leave out what
is objectionable by means of shades and blinds for the plate, so that
he may do as the painter does--alter and transfer his foreground as he
pleases.

Inside, the operator has the light more at his control, with his
shutters, blinds, tissue-paper fans, and other contrivances to throw the
shadow over what portion of the picture he wishes; and yet, with all the
softening of harsh lines and gentle mergings of shadows, he has not
nearly reached the inner circle of light and shade yet. There are lenses
still to be manufactured which will penetrate to a deeper shadow than he
has yet attained, deep although he may have gone in that direction;
lenses which will wait and not over expose the highest lights until the
deepest depth has been gained. With remodelling, it is now easy to make
light; and what the photographer ought to aim at are the greys, or
half-tones, and the blacks, leaving all dead lights and subtle
gradations towards light for the remodeller.

Grey is a very precious as well as a plentiful quality in nature; beyond
the point where light streams from, we seldom, in fact never, see white,
and even the point of light is blended with gradations of prismatic
flashes. There are also throughout nature great spaces; in spite of the
multiplicity of detail, to me nature seems to delight in isolation. Take
what you please, as an example,--a street scene crowded with
people,--what is it to the looker out of a window? Simply dark masses
(black always predominates in an English crowd), with here and there
intersections of space; if you look for it, you will find detail enough,
but you must look for it. The general appearances are simple masses of
shadow under you, drifting out to the grey, with gradations of grey
isolation all round. Take landscape, the ocean in turmoil--grey
stretches, gradating from deeper to lighter tones. A mountain and lake
scene: the sea-gull coming inland from the stormy North Sea is the only
speck of white we trace throughout it, with the vulture or crow looking
jet-black as it intercepts the mellow light.

Space and half-tones seem to me the two great qualities to be sought
after by the artist; in focussing, avoid sharp or high lights, but seek
to pierce and collect as large and full masses of shadow as your tricks
and appliances can give you. A clear and sunless day outside for
landscape work, that sort of lustre which drifts soft shadows under
trees, and causes the distance to float away indefinitely, where detail
is brought out by under-tones, and high lights are left to the
remodeller.

So with figures; as the subject sits or stands, pour all your light upon
the obstruction, so as to give depth in the shadow, blend in accessories
with the figure and background with reflected lights, just enough to
redeem blackness, then soften over the high lights, so that in the
negative there is not a single white, all grey, even to the cambric
handkerchief carelessly left out of the pocket--although I trust no
operator of to-day ever will permit his subject to exhibit such a speck
of vulgarity. I would have all such objects as white flowers, lace, or
handkerchief changed, or a dye kept on the premises to stain them brown
before the negative was taken, so that nothing could be lighter than the
hands or face, unless, like Rubens' work, the subject was to be seen
dark against white, in which case the white ought to surround the
object, never to cut it in two.

In portraits, as yet, the art of beauty seems to be the ruling idea of
the operator; court favourites such as those of Sir Thomas Lawrence and
Sir Joshua Reynolds are the examples set before the photographer. To
flatter the subject is what both subject and worker seem to strive
after; when they look to Rembrandt it is for a shadow picture, which,
by the way, is no more Rembrandtesque than it is Rubenesque. Rembrandt
did not make shadows like the shadow portraits, so called; look at his
etchings and works and you will see what I mean. Rembrandt's lights were
not shiny whites, but tender tones, as his shadows were not blots of
dark, but gradations of depth.

There is a portrait of Thomas Carlyle by James McNeill Whistler, where
the old sage is sitting against a grey background with a perfect
simplicity of space, which is nearer to the work of Rembrandt than
anything I have seen since that grand old Dutchman passed to glory.


RETOUCHING

Before concluding my remarks on the negative, I feel the necessity of
devoting a few moments to the great art of retouching--the portion of
photography at present too much entrusted to the charge of young ladies;
but, if the photographer in any department of the science deserves the
name of artist, it is here, when with his pencil he begins to create.

I thought when I began to write that I had little to say on photography,
but now that I have got into the spirit of the subject, the
possibilities, utilities, and various uses of photography start out
before me from the chaos of unthought creation, all importuning me to
take them up, one after the other, like a legion of undressed skeletons:
photography as connected with etching, wood-engraving, lithography,
zincography, typography, and a dozen other uses where photography is not
only united in marriage to art, but must be regarded as the
husband--_i.e._ the leading spirit, rather than the wife, in the
indissoluble bond; but these for the present I must push back into their
vague home, until I can at a future time take them up by themselves,
which I trust to do, as they are far too important to tack on as a fag
end to this chapter; yet before I close I must speak of the negative
after it has been developed.

It is the misfortune of all large and prosperous businesses that, as in
the making of a pin, the establishment has to be divided into
departments--the poser, not the operator--and so the plate has to go
through different hands. It is a pity, but I see no way to avoid the
evil, except in special cases, where the artist can afford time to
follow up his work personally from the first to the last stage. Were
time and money no object, I would have each man or woman assistant in
the photographic studio qualified to pose, focus, develop, retouch,
print, and mount, with a complete knowledge of all the branches, and a
thorough artistic knowledge besides. I would also have them all consider
nothing too trivial for their talents in the progress of the photograph,
but each to take alternately their turn at the different departments
with their own plates; without this I cannot see how the art enthusiasm,
which a really good photograph requires, can be kindled and kept up. I
think modest photographers in country places, loving their profession,
and not troubled with too many commissions, have a better chance, if
possessed of equal talents, of reaching perfection than their bustled
and prosperous town brethren; in the same sense that I consider the
painter, who has genius, to paint better pictures when he is selling for
twenty pounds than when he is hunted after and getting two thousand
pounds--but this is a matter of opinion.

I know also that it was long considered by some professional men to be
false art to touch a plate after developing, as it is sometimes still
regarded as wrong for an artist to use the compasses or straight-edge to
save time with a drawing, but I consider these as silly prejudices, to
laugh at. Personally, I would not hesitate for a moment to use either a
pair of compasses, a straight-edge, or a photograph, if the so doing
served me better than my eye, or my sketch, in the making of my picture;
neither would I hesitate to call the man a fool who objected to me doing
so on the ground that it was not legitimate art.

Retouching is exactly the same work on the negative as if the artist sat
down before any other material. Upon it, if he has the genius, he can do
almost anything, so that he has shadow enough as a basis. Here he
becomes, as I have said, the creator, and of all the different
operations of a negative, this is the portion where the artist stands
out most prominently and proves what stuff he or she is made of. There
is no end to the variety of work they may introduce as they work
on--grains to look like engravings, hatchings, stippling, brush work. It
is not enough to be able to remove spots and blemishes, or soften off
harsh contrasts; girls mostly get up to this mark of excellence, and
produce those smooth, meaningless, pleasant portraits of everyday life.
The retoucher must learn to keep an expression of the negative, or make
one if not there, and this is the lofty calling of a true retoucher. He
must put a soul into his model, else he cannot call himself an artist
any more than the painter can claim the title who only daubs potboilers.
But if the retoucher can do this, and has art enough in himself to
prefer soul to beauty or beautifying, then he has as much claim to call
himself a painter or an artist (if he prefers that title) as any R.A. in
the clique divine.

Expression, or soul, is what photographers are as yet deficient in, and
that is the province of the retoucher. I want to see a photographer rise
above the prejudice of the flattery-loving public, and lead them by
intensity: give to the public faces ugly as Rembrandt's portraits, yet
pregnant with character. I want to see seams, and wrinkles, and warts,
as the Great Creator left them--indexes to the wearer's character--and
not doll faces, which simper and mean nothing. I want noses in all their
varieties, with their own individuality intensified; cheek-bones
standing out as they may be in the originals. I want men and women sent
down to posterity as they are and not as they would like to be; for I
never yet saw a face in its natural state that I could call ugly,
although I have seen faces made hideous by rouge, and cosmetics, and
false eyebrows, and also by the retouching which they were themselves so
delighted about.

Vice and crime darken the souls which sit behind the eyes--make chins
hard, and lips thin or coarse--destroy curves which are upon all lips
when innocent; yet, to me, the most demoniac face that ever peered out
upon a haunting world is better in its sombre gloom than that same face
smoothed by a bad or mechanical retoucher. Beauty is expression, not
chiselled features. A baby is not beautiful until it can notice its
mother; then the meaningless bit of flesh is lighted up with a ray from
heaven. That God-beam the photographer must catch; yet it is not a
smooth surface, but a light breaking through torn-up cloud mists.

The other day I saw the photograph of a child, supposed to be a city
waif. She was bare-footed and bare-armed, with a rent in her
_pinafore_--a city waif with a pinafore! The photographer had studied
his lines, and posed his model according to the rules he had learnt;
everything was in its right place about that picture, but, like the
mountains about Borrowdale, just a little too exactly as they ought to
be. He had taken the trouble of dirtying the hands and face and legs,
but I saw at a glance that, although it was all right according to art,
it was not all right according to nature. She was not a real city waif,
and to me, who had seen the real article, very far from it.

In Edinburgh, one winter morning, I saw a picture that needed no
adjusting, only the camera, to render it immortal--a man out of work,
saying good-bye to his wife and child before he went on the tramp. Where
the Old Cross of Edinburgh used to stand (before the new malformation
was put up), at its base in the High Street they stood--that group of
two, with the speck of humanity in her arms; the man, in shirt sleeves,
leaning against the railings, snow-laden, with his shoeless feet
blue-black against the mud-coloured snow on the pavement. In his left
hand he held a very small bundle, roughly bound in a red spotted rag of
a handkerchief, while with the tattered sleeves of his dirty shirt he
was attempting to wipe the eyes of the child, that poor little pinched
and smeared-faced baby, who was crying with hunger and cold. The mother
who held it in her thin arms had turned her face from her husband to
where I could see it as I passed by. She was oblivious to spectators in
the silent abandonment of her own woe. A wisp of fair hair fell down
from the old bashed hat upon her head, and hung against her
clay-coloured cheek. Two tears, half congealed, lay just above the
quivering lips. But there were no words of parting passing between those
two.

In London one night, in the East-end, about the month of May, I saw
another picture. It was down by the side of a hoarding covered over with
gay-coloured placards, and over which a lamp shone. A man, a woman, and
a little girl all huddled in a confused mass together. I could not see
the faces, for they were hidden on their breasts, but I saw limp hands
lying on the pavement, and the light night wind fluttered shreds of rags
about. Presently I beheld amongst the passers a woman stop to look at
them--one of those outcasts, all the more pathetic for the furs and
silks that enveloped her. She stooped down to put a sixpence into the
crouching figure's open hand, and for a moment bistre rags and cardinal
silk flounce fluttered together; then she passed on to her sin, leaving
them in their misery. The hand closed on the coin instinctively, but the
brain was too apathetic to take in the significance of the gift all at
once. A moment or two passed as I watched, then I saw the hand slowly
lifted and the head listlessly raised; there was a dazed look into the
palm, then a start into life, and, woman-like, a clutch at the arm of
her husband. Then both heads were lifted to the light, and I caught an
expression of wolfish joy on the faces, which I thought must have
condoned for a deal of vice on the part of that unreclaimed Magdalen, as
the pair staggered to their feet and dragged off the little one to where
they could buy sixpence-worth of oblivion.

These were two pictures which required no arranging of lines or
alteration of lighting up, although faulty according to art, perhaps.
The humanity about them redeemed them; and it is pictures like these, to
be found every hour, which the artist--be he painter or
photographer--only requires to go out and secure, to make art immortal.

[Illustration: A GROUP OF WORKING HORSES

(_From a photograph by John Foster of Coldstream_)]



CHAPTER II

_A STUDY IN LIGHT AND SHADOW_


[Illustration: M]Y subject--the Union of Painting and Photography--is
not so short as you or I might wish it to be, yet I have tried to make
it as terse as a subject so crammed with incident, and so exhaustless in
matter, could be made. If you will try to endure it to the end, I trust
you may not be disappointed.

Photographers, as far as I have seen them, are a jealous-minded race.
They don't think enough of their art, or of themselves. They are too apt
to think that painters despise them, while in reality the painters of
to-day hang on to them as a drunken husband is apt to hang on to his
good-templar wife during the festive New Year season, or, to be more
poetic in simile, as a half-drowned sailor will clutch on, teeth and
nails, to the hard rock, which may have broken up his rotten old boat,
but now keeps him alive in the midst of the surf.

The painters of to-day have become realists, and photography is realism,
or nothing.

A photographer, to be able to produce a good picture, must be a true
painter in the highest sense of the word; therefore, a painter ought to
know the right qualities about a good photograph, whether he knows the
mixing of the chemicals, or length of exposure, or process of focussing,
&c., or not; although, to be able to compete, the tricks of the trade
have to be learned. Witness Sarony, Mora, and such men, with their fancy
dodges and splendid effects, and Seavey with his unapproachable
backgrounds.

Thus my title is almost superfluous, for painting and photography,
requiring the same direction of talent, are already united; only it may
be of a little service to hear a painter publicly avow the marriage
which is so constantly being consummated on the quiet.

It is in your work, as in ours, the doom to be often annoyed with
talented triflers who dip a finger into all the sciences, and are for
ever ready to dispute the point with the originators--buyers of brains,
who imagine that their cash gives them full liberty to find all sorts of
faults, or suggest improvements upon the worker's designs; who will not
buy unless their idiotic improvements are executed to the last letter,
and who afterwards lay the whole blame of the spoiling of the pie upon
the baker, when the guests condemn.

Having a direct object in view, I need not trouble you about chemicals
or lenses, aurora lights, or secrets that you all now know much better
than I could for years unborn, but come direct to what is of vital
interest to us both in our wedded state-viz. the seeking how we may put
as much as possible of the soul of nature, with her innate force of
feeling and motion, into our pictures; the men, modern and ancient, who
may best aid us by the examples and teachings they have left as a legacy
to us; a quiet consideration of what they really have done for us; a
right straight look at the men themselves, unbiassed by veneration or
prejudice, with a consideration as to how much we have taken advantage
of the legacies left to us.

The first aim of our investigation is therefore The Exact Imitation of
Nature--_i.e._ the outward form and appearances of nature, the body, in
fact, of that mystic Deity whom all men worship, no matter what is their
dogma, whether they have a creed or whether they be creedless.

Secondly, The Feeling, Sentiment, or Sensations of Nature--how her
appearance touches us, as we look upon her in the wealth and loveliness
of her colouring; also how we may keep that sentiment alive in our light
and shade.

Here the painter, with his colours, gets a better hand and a long start
ahead of the photographer, engraver, and etcher; and it is here that, if
those workers in light and shade can keep the sentiment as well as the
painter in colours, they gain a double and richer triumph--the triumph
of a racer who has been heavily and unfairly handicapped at the
beginning of the race.

Thirdly, The Motions, Actions, Passages, Expressions, and Impressions of
Nature. There both in photographer and painter the man himself is
brought out, whether he is a trained mechanic or a born genius.

Lastly, The Perfect Image, the whole innate force, which is the spirit
and soul of that matchless creation toward which we must all constantly
turn (as the sun-flower turns or the daisy opens to the glance of day)
for the life and light of our artistic beings.

Let us drop the weak word artist out of our consideration altogether.
Personally I abhor it, as denoting nigger minstrel, sword-swallower, or
that undefinable member of society who plays with foils and sable hairs
inside a studio enriched with Turkey ruggery, old armour, and marble
busts. Let us, who are workers, be plain painters and photographers,
never heeding the comforts of our surroundings, having only to do with
objects as accessories to our work, thinking only upon the _utility_ of
every nick-nack we may have, aiming only at the result without
considering the trouble or the inconvenience to the animal who is
bringing it all about; every conception or experiment being an
undiscovered country which we mean to find out and make our
own--Stanleys or Thompsons with our Africas; Pizzaros conquering and
annexing our Mexicos; plain, hardworking, earnest painters and
photographers; brothers in one grand service--Art.

I think, at the present day, painters recognise this fraternal stand
even more than photographers give them credit for doing; they know how
much they are indebted to the camera for making matters lucid which were
before obscure. Witness the galloping horses done by instantaneous
process, the shape of waves in full action, the rushing of waterfalls,
and the contortions of muscles in moments of great excitement. How many
of the old masters knew what a horse at full speed was like! and what
eye-openers to battle painters those photographs have been! None of the
sea painters were able to draw a wave in all its subtleties and froth
accessories as painters nowadays may do if they study the imprint of a
flying second; we may also have clouds in their strata, as they actually
are, with shadows perfect, in those artistic studies which, like the
institution of Christmas cards, are coming more and more into vogue
every year that we live.

And painters do use them constantly, whether they admit the fact or,
induced by a false pride, pretend that they do not. I see in every
exhibition glaring evidences of hay carts and field horses, yachts and
ships of all degrees, blankly copied, with hardly any disguise, from the
photographic studies suspended in the shop windows: clear photographic
studies, faithfully drawn out, and in the painting knocked about a
little, sometimes not so true as the original to nature, blurred and
mystified into that obscurity which does for feeling with the crowd; the
most original bit of painting being the man's signature who sells it,
that being strictly his own, and not the copyright of either the
photographer or the horse.

And why not? Clouds will not wait on our pencils and palettes being set;
horses will not stand until we draw out a faithful enough study of their
forms, nor ships pause until we get in all the rigging. The winds are
against it, and the waves. The hours flying along and tearing down the
sun-shadows before we have fixed one line of them on our paper or canvas
join in the protest, jeering at our deliberation, and mocking us as
slow-coaches, in these steam-engine days, for trying to crawl on at six
miles an hour, and dreaming that we can enter into competition with the
mile-a-minute express.

The pride which keeps the artist silent, or makes him deny the charge of
photo-borrowing, is an utterly false pride, and the sooner it is knocked
out of sight the better for all parties. Why should we not correct our
sketches--done for the sake of the colour and feeling, and not for the
form--from faithful photographs? It does not hinder us from being
original in the after-treatment, although it may save us much time in
the elaboration of sketch-details. Why not save our precious time for
something so much more worthy of it--the picture?[1]

Hitherto I have wanted so much to be original that, from conscientious
scruples, I would not use the photographic studies which some of my
friends had sent me. I looked upon them longingly, and put them out of
sight reluctantly, and so went down to sea-boards and meadows, catching
rheumatics and toothache, and wasting hours upon hours, and many
valuable sheets of Whatman's hand-made paper, trying to draw out all the
riggings of ships, and the shapes of cows, losing the effect often in my
endeavours to get the manipulation, and in reality not getting a
hundredth part of what I might have got with half-an-hour's rapid
dashing on of colour effects and a moment's focussing.

At present I know just a little about the art of photography, but I
intend to make it my duty to learn a great deal more--enough to be able
to sight a picture correctly; take and develop a dry plate, and
afterwards fix a print; for I can perceive plainly that Time is coming
on with rapid strides to the point when, along with his present utensils
of colour-boxes and sketching block, the painter will require to carry
his camera and stand, box of dry plates, and head covering.

And how proper it is that it should be so, a little experience will
prove to every one. An old castle or abbey, or the view of a town, or
even the markings upon the trees, would take us days to outline--the
buildings of the town, the fret-work about the abbey and castle, or the
knots and gnarling of the woodland--and even then they would be
incomplete. To illustrate my meaning, look at even the most careful
outline pencil drawings of Turner, one of the most delicate of outline
draughtsmen _when he liked_, or the scrupulous and untiring delicacy of
his admirer, Professor John Ruskin, with his pencil, and compare those
efforts with the lines about even the most commonplace photograph of a
building or tree-trunk, and I need say no more on that point. The
painter has lost the half, and distorted the rest; and although the
drawing may appear more attractive at first sight, the photograph will
be the better, for it embodies the first grand principle of a painter's
training--faithful imitation of the object which he desires to
represent.

Photographers are apt to labour under the mistaken notion that we do not
recognise this plain fact of artistic necessity; but we do, and if we
have not the manliness to own it, that is our cowardice and not our
blindness.

Be content, therefore, when you go into exhibitions and see the misty
result of your photographic studies in the realism of to-day hanging
all round, that this is recognition enough of the obligations Palette
owes to Camera.

To consider the first of our united art aims--viz., '_The Exact
Imitation of Nature_,' as she appears to us and as she appears to
others.

The eye is the organ to which we all appeal, and I do not know a more
fickle umpire--except perhaps the ear.

Many people are colour-blind, yet not entirely so, and more is the pity,
but just on one point, _like the sun-stroke of Sir Roger Tichborne_; and
the worst is, they are not aware of the particular point, and feel quite
put out if it is explained to them. They will think the man a fool who
tries to prove them wrong, for if they are strong upon any point, it is
upon that particular point. I have proved it dozens of times in cases of
partial sun-stroke and colour-blindness. I mean, just a slight wipe-out
of the mental slate, a blurring, or, as it were, a Dutch effect, in the
case of sun-stroke; or a delicacy of perception a-wanting in the
colour-blindness, a gauze veil dropped over, not nearly so apparent as
the blue glasses, or the lack of distinction between red and green, for
Daltonism like this ought to be palpable both to the sufferer and his
suffering friends.

There is also a distortion of vision apart from nearness or longness of
sight, which is a very troublesome agent to fight against for the
producer of pictures: a little nerve gone aglee, through partial
paralysis or an accident before birth, and everything is different to
him from what it is to anyone else; or it may be that it is spasmodic
and occasional in its effects, and then woe to the picture that comes
under his lash (if a critic) at the moment when the twisted fit is on
him.

Ten artists sit down to one landscape and make ten different pictures,
and the camera drops in and makes the eleventh, like none of the ten,
but wonderfully like the original, as those ten different pairs of eyes
must testify, in spite of their varied distortions.

Ten different critics look at a picture and find out different faults,
each praising as virtues the faults of the nine others.

Ten women will look upon one man, and ten chances to one they will all
find different uglinesses about him, with the exception of the tenth,
_whom he may have chosen_, and yet they will all unite in agreeing that
she wasn't worthy of him; which clearly proves, I think, that this
form-distortion of vision is only partial.

Realism is the passion of the day, both in writers and painters; and
this passion photography is only too well qualified to gratify. To note
down a scene, or describe an emotion, by the aid of its most minute
outer symbolism, as faithfully and as free from complexity as possible,
seems to be the greatest virtue and highest aim of the modern school.

The names which I would select as samples of this style of work will be
those names which, by engravings and etchings, are best known to us, and
so likely to be of most use in our search after excellent examples.

Amongst the old masters I would quote Albert Dürer, for stern realism,
combining a symbolism and spirituality so refined that it is no wonder
his qualities have been so long unseen by critics such as Pilkington,
who says of him, 'He was a man of extreme ingenuity, without being a
genius--in composition copious without taste; anxiously precise in
parts, but unmindful of the whole, he has rather shown us what to avoid
than what to follow.'

Rembrandt I would take next, as we all know about him and his powers,
also because he seems to be the model chosen, but in few cases followed
out correctly, by photographers who desire to produce striking effects.

David Teniers I would point out next, as a type of naturalism without
much straining after force or effect, no elevating force or symbolic
influence.

I take these three great names as samples, because their manners are
distinctly separate, because their systems and tricks for reaching
effect are easily penetrated, and because, while I am describing
characteristic works by them, and explaining as well as I can how they
may be followed out with original force by photographers, you will be
able, I dare say, to recall some specimens of their brush-work, and so
follow me more easily.

All good original work is got from copying and following those who have
gone before. I could quote scores of painters since the days of Dürer,
Rembrandt, and Teniers, down to the present hour, who gain fame only
through being Dürerites, Rembrandtists, or Tenierians, with a little of
their own personalities thrown in, to make them masters. Dürer flung in
and mixed up a part of himself (which he could not keep out) along with
the training of Michael Wohlgemuth. Rembrandt hashed up Zwanenburg,
Lastman, Pinas, with a host of others, along with the son of his own
mother, to produce the mightiest giant of the art race, whom we all try
to copy whenever we want to feel free from the feeding-bottle.

It is the fate of all great men to copy. Blake says, 'The difference
between a bad artist and a good is that the bad artist _seems_ to copy a
great deal, and the good one _does_ copy a great deal.'

Spending lots of time drawing after the antique and winning gold medals
and certificates; fiddling over false niceties; trying _to finish_, when
there is no such thing as finish in creation, far less in art; being so
careful that they lose all freedom of action, freedom of thought, and
produce _nothing_;--that is the rubbish they are turning out of the
Government schools nowadays; students who labour five years at freehand
outline, ten years at antique casts, and niggle the rest of their useful
years amongst nude models in life schools, while the real active
copyists are vaulting over their silly heads, and digging out niches to
enshrine themselves in, down Time.

William Hunt, the Yankee, in his 'Talks about Art,' tells us about Dürer
and copying in his own terse way thus: 'Albert Dürer, with an outline,
knew how to make an outline look like a firm, full figure. He began with
firmness, and finished with delicacy.... But he didn't get it in a day.
Hercules may have strangled a serpent when he was a baby, but there was
a time when he couldn't. "Dürer worked in his own way!" No! nor did
anybody else at first. They all worked in the manner of someone else, in
the way they were shown: Raphael after Perugino, Vandyke after Rubens.
If Albert Dürer had lived in Venice he would have been a Venetian
painter. As it was, he worked as the old German artists had worked.'

'The Lord and his Lady,' 'Melancholy,' and 'The Virgin and Child' are
the engravings by Albert Dürer which represent his clear, concise style
as well as any others of his works for our present purpose.

In the first picture, 'The Lord and his Lady,' we have a simple
arrangement of straight perpendicular lines--the lady seen profile, with
sloping unbroken lines of drapery; the lord almost full-face, looking
upon her, a straight sword hung in front and slanting in unison with the
folds of the lady's drapery; a plant at right side with split top,
growing straight so far, yet inclining towards the direction of dress,
sword, and figures; a tree-trunk at left wing with gnarling, repeating
the folds of dress, with the figure of Death behind the tree holding up
his hour-glass:--they are passing from Death's corner, yet by the
hour-glass he knows that, as the shadows travel round, so surely will
they both return.

The light and shade are simple as the arrangement, directly falling from
above and to the left; the light divides the direct half of tree, dress,
clock, and flower, and the other half is in broad shadow, a light
foreground and light distance and a clear sky; all the shade relief
rests about the central objects of interest. As a sample of unaffected
masterly ease of management and restraint I do not know its equal; nor
have I yet seen a photograph treated (although it might easily be so) in
the same possessed way, except perhaps the first efforts of the amateur
before he had learned how to manage his lighting up. If experienced men
would only learn to come back to the effects of their days of ignorance,
bringing their gained knowledge to rectify the defects _outside_ the
accidental effects; if old painters would only take lessons from the
natural attempts of their little sons and daughters--how great we might
all become, and how original!

'Melancholy.' This is a more complex composition, an arrangement of
crowded shadow, worth studying for the effect of dying light, trailing
from the folds of a woman's skirt. It is too much filled with symbolic
objects to describe just now, and the great point of interest is the
glitter upon the folds, the broken lines which make up these folds, and
the universal gloom over the rest. It is not like the obscurity of
Rembrandt, for every object is distinctly manipulated, yet from it
Rembrandt may have got the first idea for the development of his style.

'The Virgin and the Child' I like for its extreme delicacy and
lightness, and also for the power of reflections which it contains. The
old house on the other side of the river is a useless disturbance, and
mainly useful in its historical architectural evidence, and also to
prove that even the most astute self-critic may make mistakes and just
work too much. How suggestive is that monkey at her side, chained
prisoner like the struggling dove in the grasp of the mischievous Baby
Christ--the dove, symbol of captured truth, and the infant with his
humanity only as yet made manifest! I wish we could have a photograph
with this subtlety of realism, this absence of shadow, this clear depth
of transparency. It seems to me as if photographers could do it if they
liked, and were not afraid of the public. That pale white subtlety,
stealing gently upon us, not much to look upon at first sight, almost a
blank, yet growing gaze by gaze, until we cannot let it out of our
thoughts, like a white rose against a whitewashed wall, with the green
leaves and the crimson stalk bleached vert-grey with the midday
sun-blaze, and the shadow under it of the softest of purple greys.

I would like to linger over Albert Dürer and his influence, not only on
art as regards painting, but on art as regards literature: Goethe
working up his Faust; tales of mediæval chivalry; of demons and spirits,
solemn, truth-loving souls beset by false decoys; knights sore tempted
and yielding just for a moment, to fill out long years of repentance;
honour ever rising up and choking love; love shadowed over by despair;
death ever present and ever sweet as the surcease from labour and years.

But it would tire you, for we have it going on still, only much of the
honour is forgotten and the tenderness of the love is brutalised; but we
have the work, and the want, and the woe unutterable, with us ever, and
for ever, and we who can will rush from it as the steam-engine rushes on
iron lines, drowning the sounds of the wailing behind us in our own loud
puffing, hiding the sight of the weeping behind us in the dense smoke of
our own importance.

I turn from Dürer to Rembrandt, as from a nature refined and gentle to a
nature rugged and strong, as from a woman to a man, whose firm hand I
like to grasp even better than the tender clasp of the other.

Rembrandt, the master of painting--even more than Rubens--of etching and
photography, who when better understood will benefit us all more than
any one of the others, with one exception, which I shall name presently.

'The Painter's Mother,' a head with white cap, ruffle, and black dress,
one of many which either he or his disciples painted often, strongly
marked, a study in the modelling of wrinkles and reflections.

'Interior, with Woman plucking a Fowl.' The figure sits fronting us with
face down-turned, a black cap casting deep shadows over the whole
features, with the exception of a half-light playing upon the under-side
of the cheek, and portion of the back of the neck seen from the white
ruffled collar, open at the neck. Satin-textured body, with dull red
sleeves, and amber lining on the upturned skirt; this is very dark green
or black. She holds the fowl with one hand, plucking with the other,
while between her feet rests the basket to catch the feathers. At the
left corner lies a bunch of carrots, breaking up the copper Dutch pan
behind; farther back is a basket supporting a board with flat fish upon
it. Still deeper in shadow is a large boiler with earthenware jars and a
chain hanging over; behind those again, a very dark background.

There is not much in this subject--a fowl half plucked and a
harsh-featured woman plucking; the most commonplace incident, without
moral, except the moral that life is very uncertain and mortality
sure--in a hen-coop particularly. Without any pathos, save the pathetic
tracing of those hard scorings of care on that matron's face; not much
to make sentiment out of in an ordinary hand; what we may see any hour
if we live where such acts are continued from day to day. Yet in the
hands which have made it what it is, what may we, the lookers-on, not
make out of it?

The secret of Rembrandt lies here exposed, if we can only read him
aright. It is not the mass of shadow and isolated light which stamp the
power and individuality of the man. These are only his tricks of trade,
repeated when he saw how well they took with the public. It is the
vigour and command of this master which strike us as we probe the
breadth and extreme simplicity of his accessories. He is content with a
bunch of carrots when they serve his purpose. The gigantic copper
stew-pan would have been enough if he could have hidden a part of the
exact circle; but he wanted the woman to stand out alone; the other
objects were put in to support a blankness, as a little by-play, an
incident by the way: the working woman is the aim of his setting up that
large canvas. He got it all in an afternoon, the time she was plucking
the fowl--that is, the master touches; the rest might be done by
anyone.

To imitate Rembrandt properly, get hold of the first East-end
basket-woman that you chance to meet--a herring or orange vendor will
do; take her as she sits, without arranging a single fold, adding to or
removing one iota about her; take her in the street or in the close, or
as she squats down inside the half-darkened doorway of her own little
shop. She can neither have too little nor too much about her if she
struck you distinctly while you passed as being picturesque. Never mind
the lighting, and don't think to be original; as she stands, or sits, or
squats, she is the woman for your camera; out with it, and secure her
before she can wink or know what you are up to, and you have caught the
whole secret of Rembrandt's power and realistic talent.

In hatching and touching your plate, which to me seems to represent the
second working, think upon all the dodges of the etchers, Haydon,
Hamerton, Herkomer, Whistler, &c. If you have a chemical to eat down
certain parts of it broadly, leaving the prominent parts (be sparing of
prominent parts) standing out dense, do not niggle with your
pencil-point over-much, except it is to blur out an accessory which may
be too distinct. I do not know much about printing photographs, yet I am
inclined to think that it is here where the genius of the photographer
may be brought out. If I were a photographer I'd never for a second
leave a plate while it was printing. I'd try all sorts of dodges upon
the sun with pieces of paper having little eccentric holes torn out
where I wanted an artificial shadow to fall across my plate, by exposing
the print altogether at times, so as to mellow any extreme lights,
painting touches of white on it to bar out the sun altogether where I
wanted a mysterious gleam, whether it was on my picture or not, and
never rest until I had made it my own. I may be wrong, of course, in
all this; but it is the idea which now strikes me; or all this may have
been done already, or considered _infra dig._ or illegitimate; yet here,
I think, as in the treating of a painted picture, the photographer can
liberate himself entirely from the trammels of custom, and never be at a
loss for fresh tracks.

In landscape photography I constantly observe good pictures rendered
imperfect through the fatal power of the camera, which must print every
object before it, and yet in the printing even more than in the sorting
of the plate I think much, if not all, of this might be obviated by a
careful study and following up of the tricks of Rembrandt; if it is the
foreground which is too plainly marked, why not take another foreground
plate, and, clearing off all not required, place it over the other
plate, and so let the sun strike through both and blurr that corner?[2]
or make a dark shower cloud as in the engraving 'The Three Trees,' by
covering boldly portions of the plate with paper and allow the rest to
print darker; or by adroit covering and exposing, simplify the whole
arrangement and create divisions where you want them; a ray of light, or
a part blackened, or any device that occurs to you, which is what we
call inspiration?

The magic of Rembrandt rests in this--that he seldom creates, _but he
takes advantage of circumstances and local incidents_ to intensify the
story he is telling you.

To illustrate my meaning by three short quotations from celebrated
authors, whose tragedies are intensified and minutely expressed by the
working up of the commonest accessories, as we see in every tragedy of
daily life--a clock striking at the tensioned second; or a mouse
peering out of its hole; or the crack of a distant whip; the rumbling of
a cart; a laugh or a careless oath heard outside; something unimportant
seen or heard that fixes it all into its compact run or place; the
sledge bells of Mathias in the Polish Jew; or the ragged stick of Eugène
Aram.

My intention in giving these quotations is to prove to you how writers
know the value of common objects, and how few of them are wanted for the
purpose, so that in choosing our accessories we may so choose that the
link is carried on, yet nothing uselessly put in to distract the
attention; the object being to draw the eyes and thoughts, _for a
moment_, from the main act, so that we may return again better prepared
for the tragedy.

Zola, that Rembrandt of modern French literature, in one of his novels,
'La Belle Lisa,' describes the return to Paris of an escaped political
martyr called Florent.

Florent, having passed through fearful sufferings, is picked up
exhausted by one of the Paris market women and taken to Paris in her
cart. He is in a starving condition, but, being proud, will not tell the
woman about his wants, and, leaving her, gets into company with a
hard-up artist called Claude, who, although also hungry and _sou_-less,
yet is carried away by the artistic glow of light and shade and wealth
of colour about a coffee and soup stall which they pause to admire.

'I tell you,' says Claude, 'a man should paint what he sees, and as he
sees it. Now, look there. Is this not a better picture than
their--consumptive saints?'

'Women were selling coffee and soup. A small crowd of customers had
gathered round a large kettle of cabbage soup which smoked on a tiny
brazier. The woman, armed with a long ladle, first put into a yellow
bowl thin slices of bread, which she took from a basket covered with a
napkin, and then filled up the bowl with soup. There were clean
market-gardeners in blouses; dirty porters with their shoulders soiled
by the burdens they had carried; poor devils in rags--in short, all
sorts of people--eating their breakfast, and scalding themselves with
the hot soup. The painter was delighted, and half shut his eyes to
compose his picture. But the smell of the cabbage soup was terribly
strong. Florent turned away his head--the sight made him dizzy.'

Here we have a Rembrandtesque study of hunger and endurance, with all
the accessories put into quiet order.

The second sketch which I take is from an essay by Walt Whitman on the
death of President Lincoln. We all know how he (Abraham Lincoln) was
shot in the theatre, and in those few jerky commonplace sentences Walt
Whitman, the American Michael Angelo of words, presents to us as grim
and gruesome a picture as I know anywhere. It has more of the loose but
massive work of our English realist, Millais, about it than the
compacter work of Rembrandt. It has a day-light or surrounding gas-light
effect about it also, and little shadow or mystery, but it is to me
blood-curdling in its startling distinctness.[3]

You have here a scene as filled out with detail in the light as Albert
Dürer's 'Melancholy' in the shadow. Walt Whitman has not omitted a
single object which impressed him at the time--in fact, he tells us the
whole dire tragedy by the aid of animate or inanimate objects not at all
connected, except by association, with the murder; and this I wish you
to remember strictly--how, by the placing and building up of objects,
chairs, tables, flags, as here, all leading out from the centre of
sight, which is the tale, you may suggest a deed without showing the
main actors of it at all. Witness here that the principal figure,
Abraham Lincoln, is never seen.

The third illustration which I take is from that well-known poem by Bell
on Mary Queen of Scots. I choose the closing act, her execution, as it
embraces within the lines leading up to the climax the incidents of the
verses going before, and because it is here that you see distinctly
surrounding the principal character (our unfortunate Queen) trivial and
more important items, all leading up to the loneliness of the victim and
the fickleness of fortune.

In the centre of the hall is placed the block and the masked headsman,
axe in hand. The scene is decidedly Rembrandtesque in its light and
shade; to be treated as Rembrandt has treated his 'Descent from the
Cross.' A strong light falls upon block, axe, and headsman; the rest is
in shadow, the carved woodwork and tapestry hangings of the hall fading
off towards the distant door; as the royal victim and her dog near, she
comes from the shadow which covers her attendants and other witnesses
into the full glare which falls upon that empty foreground; and, as it
streams over her pale face and grey hair and becomes muffled in the
thick folds of her velvet dress, the picture is complete.[4]

The third picture of Rembrandt's is of little use to us, so it is
needless going into detail with it. It has been misnamed 'A Jewish
Bride,' as, from the general outline of the figure, loosely holding a
bunch of flowers in the left hand and the symbolic vine-twisted staff
in the right, we must conclude that the honeymoon has been for a
considerable time passed, and that another joy awaits the expectant
husband. It is a portrait of the painter's second wife, and a very
lovely second wife she must have been, with her soft fair tresses, rich
dark eyes, creamy complexion, and seductive chin--a much nicer Dutch
frau than a Jewish bride.

But before leaving this master I would like to call your attention
particularly to, and ask you to remember, 'An Old Woman.'

This is more in the distinct manner of Rembrandt than his 'Jewish
Bride,' who might have any other name attached to it as well as that of
Van Ryn.

Here the old tanned face is seen in profile; the square-cut nose and
harsh mouth, subdued by toil, sullenised by hardship, with early hours
when the frost-breath hardened that parchment skin: a pitiful face,
without one ennobling trace upon it.

Just such an air of patient suffering as we have seen of a winter
morning on the stooping, shawl-bound head of the aged hag raking amongst
the cinders and offal of the street. It is thankless toil which does
this sort of painting and carving--a spring-time of labour and lust, a
summer-time of labour and curses, an autumn-time of labour and
treachery, and a winter-time of labour, starvation, and neglect. Is it
not all equally pitiful in its progression as we watch the stages?

The girl with her load making merchandise of her love; the woman with
her load toiling on for the thankless male; the mother with her load
selfishly laying as much of it as she can upon the delicate shoulders of
her young offspring; and that toothless old hag stooping down amongst
the shadows, square, gaunt, hopeless, resting from her load alone in her
tenth hour, crouching amidst the shadows with the ashes of her wasted
past crowning that hoary, honourless, neglected age.

This is passing realism and getting into the sublime, and this is what
the gross, coarse, miserly old master has done, with his innate force
and living soul, while his strong, bold brush, with its low, sad tones,
has painted an obscure interior and an old woman sitting brooding in the
cold and dark, clad in a dirty white-grey cloak, with a dirty grey skirt
faded to grim black-grey with newer black, patched sleeves, a few jars
on a darkened shelf overhead, all dark and hopeless except where the one
ray starts out that gaunt profile and what is seen of the shrivelled
neck.

TENIERS.--I take David Teniers after Rembrandt as an instance and
example of successful and easy grouping; I take him as the type of a
school embracing a long list of painters ancient and modern--Wilkie,
Faed, Orchardson, Cameron, Pettie, &c. &c.; and why I prefer him to our
own Sir David Wilkie is not so much that Teniers was before Wilkie,
because Teniers was by no means the first in that line of business. If
you can recall the delicate and silvery half-tones and open composition
of 'La Tourneuse,' and compare this with the hot colouring, slushy
handling, and forced composition of 'The Penny Wedding' and 'Blind Man's
Buff,' we must agree that here Teniers has the best of it. Yet I would
by no means decry Sir David Wilkie, except where comparison is forced,
as in this case; for I consider Sir David Wilkie, Tom Faed, and
Orchardson to be the very best models a painter or a photographer can
have for the composition of groups.

I am not at all prejudiced in favour of old masters or of old things, or
big names, or advertised brains or dry bones; rather the reverse. I like
young flesh and fresh blood, quick-beating pulses, and impetuous
motions. I would rather have a living mistake than a dead perfection any
day; yet, when I see the old ones far ahead of the young ones, it is
both a duty and a joy to bend the knee and adore the vanished past.

Orchardson and Hugh Cameron have come up the truest to the silver and
opals of Teniers, and for chaste deliberation and simplicity I can
commend no one before Orchardson: he always stops painting just at the
point where people should stop eating and drinking--the point this side
of repletion. Study his best-known examples--Christopher Sly, from
'Taming of the Shrew,' some articles of clothing and a pair of shoes in
the left-hand corner, to continue the slanting line of feet of the
servants waiting on Christopher; a walking-stick lying in the same line
as the feet of the negro, and people behind the screen; a sheet of paper
on the floor farther in takes exactly the same line of direction, and
the eye is no more troubled with details; we can all laugh without let.
In the 'Queen of Swords,' a more crowded composition, the ground lines
are the same, with the queen forming the point of the angle and a clear
foreground, with the exception of a fan that carries on the same lines.
In that scene from 'Henry IV.,' Part I., Prince Henry, Poins, and
Falstaff, we have one of the simplest, openest, and most refined
specimens of humorous composition on record. A straight, horizontal line
of tapestry, broken up at the exact limit by the burly hind-part view of
Sir John, the buffoonery expressed in that capacious broad waist-belt,
and the rounded folds of the doublet below it, is worthy of the mighty
creator of that inflated sponge, Falstaff. A table and chair behind it
keep the horizontal line, while relieving the emptiness of the floor
between Falstaff and his companions. The wall starts out towards us at
an angle, while, along with a chair, the Prince and Poins keep within
the vanishing lines from the point of sight, which is exactly in the
centre of the back view of Falstaff's waist, so that we must look
(whether we like or not) first and last at him, even although, with
Orchardson's usual love of refinement, he is modestly cast into
half-shadow.

They say Thackeray could draw a gentleman and Dickens could not. I deny
this sweeping assertion in the existence of Mr. Chester of 'Barnaby
Rudge'; but one thing I do think, which is, that Orchardson is the
painter who gives us the nearest approach to the easy insolence and
_bonhomie_ of a well-bred man of the world.

To return to Teniers (for a moment in passing), I cannot bring to mind
one of his pictures which I have seen that could in any way be improved
in the composition, added to, or taken from; every accessory tells its
own portion of the general story, and this I would once more point out
to the composer of a picture, along with a few simple laws which occur
to me as I write. The principal object is the first object which rises
up before the mind's eye, and fixes the composition when the story is
heard or read, therefore the main object to be considered and first set
up or drawn in--as the figure of the queen in Orchardson's 'Queen of
Swords'; the philosopher nearest us in 'Bacchanalian Philosophers,' by
Teniers; the two front figures in Rembrandt's 'Night Watch,' one dark,
one light, the dark one put in by Rembrandt first; and the child with
its cart even before the lighted-up woman and child who come before
'The Blind Fiddler,' by Wilkie. There is too much in this composition,
particularly that group of foreground objects, which bear such evident
traces of having been so carefully selected and placed in such a variety
of artificial carelessness--watering-pan, cabbage, box and utensils,
basin, stool, with little bat, and knife, placed so exactly as they
ought to be, like the hills of Borrowdale--all being, after
consideration, painty improvements, never dropped upon accidentally and
not at all required. You will find nothing of this sort in Rembrandt's
pictures, or in Rubens' (lavish though he is), or in Teniers', and
seldom in Pettie's or Orchardson's. In Vandyke's you may, or in
Wilkie's, because both Vandyke and Wilkie, being Court favourites,
permitted their own individuality and good taste to be oftener biassed
by the buzzing of the gartered insects about them; yielding to make this
or that improvement to suit a foolish patron, until their own gifts
became obscured, and their taste perverted to the level of a pair of
Court breeches. Rembrandt and Rubens were strong enough men always to
lead the fashion, and too strong ever to be led. But the times are
changed with us now, so that I do not think there is any danger of
Orchardson getting spoilt by good fortune; he is not in any way hurt by
it yet, at all events.

After we get the first object set up, the others all fall into place to
suit that central or main object, and this rule holds with the arranging
of light and shadow, as well as form--one minute centre of light round
which the half-lights range, and the deepest shadow where you can best
afford it. The central form, the central light, is of paramount
importance--all the rest are matters of convenience, chance, and
discretion.

Think less about what you may put in to help your picture than upon
what you may keep out, to give it importance and repose.

Every sitter has a fine point about him, or her: find it out--the best
side of the face, a nice arm, or good hand; they will reveal it to you
unconsciously before you have sighted them--and make that your first
object, and all the rest subordinate and to help that out.

Don't seize two points in one model; decide which is the most useful,
and take that; without regret, discarding all the others.

It may be that the only good bit is a hat, or a feather, or a pair of
gloves, or a brooch. The point that first attracts your eye pleasantly
is the point upon which to make your centre of vision, and around which
you will arrange the rest. If it is an article of dress, of jewellery,
then bring the light to bear upon it, and make all the rest in
half-shades.

Study nature for ever, if you would have any photographs you take
different from the last photograph. Never take a sitter at once; leave
them alone to knock about your studio while you pretend to be sorting
something else, but watch them unawares: you will see a natural touch
before long, a peculiar habit which they are not aware of, but by which
many of their friends know them. Fix on that as your character keynote,
and work up features, position, and accessories, so as not to lose sight
of this peculiarity; and with this borne always in mind and a good
knowledge of face and neck anatomy, without which I cannot see how
anyone can touch up a negative properly, I know of no reason wherefore a
photographer should not give us as complete a character study as any
painter, ancient or modern, from Millais back to Albert Dürer.

Yet before that state of perfection can be acquired, permit me, as one
of the public and also as a frequent sufferer, to enter my protest
against head-rests and long-sighting, to those who still practise these
abominations. No natural expression or easy posture can ever be gained
until instantaneous plates are used for everyone. Before they can well
settle in their self-chosen places and posture, have them down and risk
it--the chance of a spoilt picture is better than a conventional
position.

Also this debasing system of smoothing away wrinkles, and blotches, and
character traces. I never can see a real harsh, wrinkled face nowadays,
except in some of the tintypes.

Of course I know the cry is raised that the public will have those wax
productions; but as one of the public I have not yet had my own likeness
taken quite right. For instance, in repose, I hang my head on one side,
and I have always been made to hold it straight up, like a soldier at
'attention.' Again, my nose is neither of a Greek nor Roman caste, and
yet I never do get that nose put in as I see it in a mirror, or as its
humpy shadow is cast upon the wall; or, as a gentleman once closed up a
wordy, if not very convincing number of reasons against my having the
qualities to make a poet, painter, or passable labourer, by exclaiming,
'Why, just look at your nose; did you ever know a clever man with a nose
like that?'

This photographed nose of mine has afforded me and others some
amusement; sometimes it has been so refined that I fell to reviling
nature for being so far inferior to the artist who finished it off so
well. Once it came home a splendid Roman, with the light upon it so
intensified by pencil-work that it stood out in bold enough relief to
have won a Waterloo, if big noses could have done that. I have one
portrait, which I am keeping to leave to posterity: it is so Byronic and
spiritual that future young ladies will no longer wonder why my wife
married me. This refined likeness and my love-songs together ought to do
the trick.

Yet I have some photographs very near perfection: one representing my
two little daughters, done by Tunny. Professor John Ruskin writes: 'The
face of the child on the spectator's right hand is the loveliest in
expression I ever saw in a photograph.' Also some by my friend Mr. John
Foster[5] of Coldstream cattle-pieces, and landscapes breathing of balmy
atmospheric effect. He gets up to work outside at three o'clock on
summer mornings, the hour when nature is like a blushing virgin, all
dewy loveliness and purity.

In France and England there is a school rising, who with the brush are
trying to compete with the camera--_the Impressionists_, who, along with
the camera, are yet fated to produce a great revolution in art. They aim
at giving the impression, effect, or sensation of an instantaneous
action or emotion or phase; not the phase exactly, but the swift
impression which it leaves upon the mind of the spectator, with form, as
it were--that is, with paints and brushes striving to embody the soul of
nature, and when the two are joined the result will be _perfection_.

To finish by bringing up the name which I have hitherto kept back, the
exception, about which some time ago I promised to tell you: the
sweetest, tenderest, mightiest art soul that ever was chained inside a
mortal body, and prompted the fingers to move as it wanted; the purest,
saddest mind that ever writhed neglected and found its reward so late,
the soul now free and stirring up a crowd with its pathetic activity, to
be like it pure and true--I mean _Jean-Francois Millet, the French
peasant painter_. Mr. Hunt says of him, 'For years Millet painted
beautiful things, and nobody looked at them. They fascinated me, and I
would go to Barbizon and spend all the money I could get in buying his
pictures. I brought them to Boston. _"What is that horrid thing?" "Oh,
its a sketch by a friend of mine!"_ Now he is the greatest painter in
Europe.'

That is a painter's verdict about a painter.

One of his pictures is vivid in my mind just now. There is a print of it
in that wonderful illustrated magazine, 'Scribner's Monthly,' where
engravings look like paintings or idealised photographs.

It is called 'The Sower,' the dim figure of a labourer scattering seed
over a ploughed field with one hand, and holding his apron filled with
embryo life in the other. In the distance, and lighted up by the sun, a
team of bullocks are dragging the plough, and a flight of birds over
beyond the seed. That is the whole composition put into bald words.

But as it has been rendered by this painter, it is an embodiment of all
which I have tried to explain, the spirit and body of living, working,
suffering nature.

What would I not give (if I had it) to see a photograph done like that!
and it can be done if you labour enough, know enough, and feel enough.

'The Sower!' As I look upon it I am drawn into it, mesmerised and
rendered clairvoyant. I am _en rapport_ with the freed spirit which has
left along with the delicate aroma of its departing wings a portion of
its own personality, its own immortality--vague and tender--greater than
Raphael, or Rembrandt, or Albert Dürer, for it has taken the deepest
root within humanity.

Tenderly I look upon it, not too boldly, for it seems vibrating with a
sensuous existence; it clutches at my heart--sinews as it reveals the
parables of Christ, accompanied by sobbing notes of melancholy
spirit-music; the far-off strikings of angel harp-strings, indefinite
but ravishing.

And the painter's body, that St. John face, with its misty development
of hair, lies under the earth. A maddened stag was driven by the hunters
and the hounds over the garden fence into the snow-covered garden on
that January morning of 1875[6], past the dying man's window, and
ruthlessly slaughtered under the eyes of the dying man--yielding up its
noble life for a bit of sport; the hot-red blood sinking through the
cold, white snow, and soaking into the covered hearts of the green
plants beneath. One up-turned glance of the glazing eyes met the
down-turned glance of the glazing eyes, and so, filled with despair and
pity, two souls--the soul of a stag and the soul of a painter--drifted
out into the morning light.

[Illustration: ANCIENT ASSYRIAN HALL: THE FEAST OF SARDANAPALUS

(_From a sepia sketch by the Author_)]



CHAPTER III

_THE PRIMARIES: YELLOW, RED, AND BLUE_


I. AN APOLOGY TO THE AUTHOR OF 'MODERN PAINTERS,' ETC.

[Illustration: W]E may love a man for himself, and admire his gifts, and
yet differ altogether from his beliefs. We may go fifteen miles out of
twenty with a guide, and turn off our own way the remaining five.

Surely it cannot be called inconsistency to go the fifteen miles and
break off at the five; to revere the genius of John Ruskin and love his
character, and yet take a stand against him when he directs painting! to
coincide with his abstract theories of art, and oppose his practical
hints! to praise him in the preface and blame him in the pamphlet!

This is a paradox which the student of man may easily comprehend. The
exhibition of vanity, or meanness, or pettiness which last year may have
filled me with just indignation or contempt, this year may be met in my
mind with over-balancing excuses and reasons. I was close upon it when
it loomed up, and it looked a mountain, hiding with its black shadow all
the rest; but my distance of to-day has reduced it to its correct size,
a dirty mud-heap at the foot of the mountain of nobility,--or the wisdom
of the ages has added another year to my growing mind.

Yet I do not regret what I have said, for if we cannot pick the beam
from our own eyes, is it not something that we are able to point out the
mote in the eye of our brother? It is a compliment which we expect him
to return by helping us to clear the more ponderous encumbrances from
our sense of vision.

John Ruskin I regard as a master at whose feet no man, however strong,
need be ashamed to sit: one as nearly the ideal man as we may expect
frail humanity to be--self-sacrificing, devoted, single in the pursuit
of his object; microscopic in his vision (herein lies his fault as a
general teacher--_he cannot stand far enough back from his picture_),
seeking to the core before he will be satisfied, becoming the disciple
of the man he would criticise, never trusting to a casual glance of the
subject he would describe, going patiently all round it, getting into it
if he can. A word to trust as you might the Spirit of Truth--_as far as
he can see it_.

He is a bigot, being in deep earnest, as all reformers must be, _having
only one right road which they are treading_, but (I put my finger on
the weak spot) he has disciples who are too completely satisfied with
him, who, having fallen in love, have become blind, and he has the
weakness to be satisfied with their satisfaction. The gold is pure which
he has refined, the armour is bright which Faith has clasped upon
him--but there is a red rust that will get upon the brightest armour if
the damp breath of adulation be allowed to rest upon its surface, the
arrogant vanity which eats into the soul.

As a philanthropist and moral leader, as a poet and beautiful example,
set up John Ruskin.

If the world could follow it, the shepherds more than the sheep, then
would it be nearer the standard set up by the Founder of Christianity,
further from forms, falsehoods, luxuries. But the world has its own
standards of morality, as he fixes his about art; only, John Ruskin is
sincere: but, alas for the others!

He is wrong from my point of sight as regards painting, therefore I say
so; he is not all gold, but so great is my love of the gold that it
forces me to hate in proportion the clay; but would that I could walk in
his footsteps for all the rest!


II. THE PRIMARIES: YELLOW, RED, AND BLUE

I dare say you have all stood at times to look at a street showman
throwing up three balls in the air, and spinning them about from one
hand to the other.

I wish that I could demonstrate this feat, but unfortunately I am not
clever enough, neither have I been able to find any friend who could do
it, else it would have been a great pleasure to me, and I doubt not also
to you, if I could have aided my symbol by introducing to you at this
point the model of some long-haired gentleman, with his symmetrical
person glittering with spangles and bright textures, who, tossing up the
yellow, red, and blue balls, would thus have added amusement to
instruction. However, since I have not this artifice to help me, I must
trust to your memories of such a sight as I go on.

Yellow, red, and blue: these are the three colours that I wish to begin
the game, and with which you are likely also to end it.

The showman pitches up the coloured balls, and as they slowly cross one
another we can trace their course and local tints perfectly, even while
we are soothed with the harmony they produce all together. Red passes
yellow, and an image of orange flashes in front of us, even while we see
both red and yellow quite distinctly apart; red passes blue, and purple
at once dashes between the blue and the red; yellow passes blue, and
green is the result.

Yellow, red, and blue are the primary colours; orange, purple, and green
are the direct mixtures of the primary colours, or secondary tints.

The showman gets animated, and the three balls are sent spinning rapidly
from hand to hand: they seem all to be in the air at once, blending and
dashing about each other until there is no red, or yellow, or blue, no
distinct orange, purple, or green, but a thousand indefinite shafts and
ripples of colour. Is it red, blue, green, orange, purple, yellow, or
gems and sparkles of fire? They are only three, three that are a host,
three that have become brown, grey, black, all sorts of browns, every
description of that subtle and endless grey.

Can the painter do any better than imitate the street showman with the
three colours? Start fair, mix slowly and decidedly, get animated, and
dash along, with his entire heart in his work, some thought in his head,
and his eye steadfastly fixed on nature, and nature only, while his
fingers run over the keyboard to the music she sets before him. He will
not require to trouble himself about much else, for it will all come out
of the mist in very good time, when he has learned the trick of keeping
the three in unity and motion.

The child, when he gets a paint-box, as a rule, begins quite right,
although he does it unconsciously. He will paint his picture-book with a
red face, yellow coat, and blue decorations. Most likely you will find
him disdain all mixtures, except perhaps green, which impresses him as
nice--no doubt from its association with the fields, where he likes to
run about and play.

The savage, with his tattooing and war-paints, does the same exactly,
with the superior significance of his symbols: every twist of the
ornament meaning a grade or a power, every streak a motive or a threat.
His gods are reverenced only as the mementoes or symbols of the unseen
or divine, not because they are stones or sticks, as we so often
misunderstand heathenism.

Old Egypt stands to-day, mighty monument of the grandeur of simplicity:
with its solid works that defy time, its glaring colours that defy
criticism.

Assyria comes after, with her purples, her gold, and her greater
refinements. 'White, green, and blue hangings, fastened with cords of
fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds
were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white,
and black marble.'[7]

[Illustration: AN ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CORRIDOR

(_From a sepia sketch by the Author_)]

These are ladybird wings that send us fluttering back nearly three
thousand years, to the hanging gardens by the Tigris, the broad walls
and the open streets where the war-chariots jostled and the broad moon
hung like a golden lamp between heaven and earth, and mingled her silver
shafts with the ruddy sparkles of the perfumed torches, as they shivered
and vanished into the darkness of the shadows of the painted boats, down
by the porphyry steps that led from the old palace of the king.

Is it the sound of the instruments we are listening to? the voices of
the singers? the tinkle of the silver ornaments round the ankles of the
dancers? the laughter of the drinking guests of Ahasuerus?--or the
snapping and snarling of the jackals over the few spare bones that the
last caravan for Baghdad has left on that earth-mound by the river at
Mosul?

Egypt stands the queen, with her ageless pyramids and her sphinxes,
because Egypt came up first with her first principles in art and
science, to which, as we gain knowledge and confidence in ourselves, we
must return.

The youth grows out of his pinafores and his first paint-boxes, he gains
a _partial_ knowledge of art, and like us all when only half educated on
our subject, grows arrogant and developes into a very fierce critic.

He also becomes a fine customer to the art-colour merchants, fills his
boxes and palette with every conceivable colour that is made,
particularly the more expensive sort; cadmiums and rose madders are his
delight; he wallows in paint.

He has become so very knowing that where poetry may have been able to
fire his fancy before, only paint can now content him. If pre-Raphaelism
is the fashion, he will lay in a set of sables and pick away at little
threads like a weaver until he is half blind; if it is the low-toned
school he affects, then daylight becomes obnoxious, sunlight abhorrent
to him; he riots in November fogs and dismal rainy weather, grovels in
shapeless symphonies, and the dingy harmonies of the Dutch.

I have tried to like the pre-Raphaelite school, because the man whose
word is considered law beyond dispute has said it is the right thing in
true art. I have seen Holman Hunt's great picture, the 'Shadow of the
Cross,' and could see in it nothing but hard lines and forced symbols as
hard as the lines. In Millais' picture of 'Effie Deans' I saw a fair
young girl with a world of hopeless woe in her face that brought tears
to my eyes. In Hunt's 'Boy Christ' I saw nothing but china-blue eyes and
hard little touches, hair like bits of wire, and all devotion worked out
of it by the multitude of its pitiful details: I saw time and drawing
and infinite work on it, but nothing else. I never saw the original of
the 'Light of the World,' but I have seen engravings from it, and
although five hundred greater men than John Ruskin were to write that it
is 'the most perfect instance of expressional purpose with technical
power which the world has yet produced,' I would hold to my own
idea--that, if it is painted as the 'Shadow of the Cross' is painted, it
is no more than a man dressed in Eastern costume standing at a door with
a lamp in his hand, a few creepers beside him, and all worked to death
with hard little lines, without anything exalted about it or wonderful
in its composition.[8]

There is a world of false humility and gross want of self--assertion in
this weakness of bending down to the opinions of acknowledged
authorities or time-honoured superstitions, particularly in matters to
be seen, as pictures or statuary. The old masters are regarded as
infallible, yet in the exhibition of autotypes from the Queen's drawings
from old masters, at one time exhibited at the Museum of Science and
Art, Edinburgh, I saw many samples of bad drawing, weak handling,
timidity, slow-dragging invention--all that marked the draughtsmen as
faulty mortals in spite of their great names, and nothing in the whole
collection to prove them any greater, but rather less, than our modern
men, even although it does approach blasphemy to say this.

Speaking of low tones, I must confess to a fondness for this fascinating
affectation. Jozef Israels is more than nice, although I require the
mist which gets into my eyes when I try on a pair of spectacles before I
can see outlines so soft and hazy, and colours so undecided and sombre,
as his are. Corot I cannot see to be the prince of landscape painters,
although the critics did call him so, if the pictures which they were
then lauding to the skies are samples of his princely style, for I could
see nothing more in them than a lot of dirty scrubbing about with his
hog hair--and not too much paint wasted either.

To a certain extent this low-toned school seems to have reason on its
side, for when we compare our scale of colours with the scale of nature,
we find how limited we are, how boundless she is.

White is our only semblance to light, and what a leaden symbol it is
when we regard the brightness of our example!

Black is our deepest dark, and how shallow it is when we try to look
into the depth of the shadows about us!

And so it seems but right that, being so utterly unable to reach the
heights or the depths of what we wish to depict, we ought to send back
and keep down every step or key of our board in the same proportion as
our lights and our darks are--make our picture, in fact, not so much the
imitation as the dim reflection that we see in a window sometimes when
there is a dark cloth hung behind it, or in the camera obscura.

Were I comparing styles, I would say that Turner struck a high note in
his scale, and rippling up lost himself in white.

Rembrandt struck a low key, and went out of sight in his blacks.

The low-toned school strike a faint half-note, and playing falsetto,
lose themselves in dingy obscurity at both ends, never venturing very
high or very low.

All are right from their own standpoint, but the Turner and the
Rembrandt schools are nearest truth, because they look straight at
nature and not on her reflections; and because, as our whites are
already so far below nature's light, the sooner we strike our nearest
approach, the sooner we shall arrive at our imitation, and _vice versâ_.

To return, though, to our paint: I would fain ask you to regard all
beauty as so much mixed colour, something in the same way that the
youthful anatomist sees only a lovely dissection in the arm or face that
may be sending some other sentimental youth into poetic fits.

I here quote a little from John Ruskin--a man noble and
self-sacrificing, whom I can admire, not blindly, like a reasonless
lover, but with the qualified reverence of a sensible helpmate. I like
to fall in with the fashion when I can. In writing on colour as the test
of a painter he says:

'If he can colour, he is a painter, though he can do nothing else....
The man who can see all the greys, and reds, and purples in a peach will
paint the peach rightly round, and rightly altogether; but the man who
has only studied its roundness may not see its purples and greys, and if
he does not, will never get it to look like a peach; so that great power
over colour is always a sign of large art intellect: every other gift
may be erroneously cultivated, but this will guide to all healthy,
natural, and forcible truth. The student may be led into folly by
philosophers' (the worthy Professor here holds up unconsciously the red
light against his own dangers), 'and into falsehoods by purists, but he
is always safe when he holds the hand of a colourist.' ('Modern
Painters,' vol. iv. part v. chap. iii.)

The young man is perfectly right to revel in his many colours as long as
he can, to dabble about with them to his heart's content, send his
shafts of madder and cobalt, terre verte and siennas, and all that he
can range out in battle-order, across his canvas. Time mellows painters
as it does paint, and where the colour offended them in their lavish
youth, in their riper manhood they see, beyond this, many qualities
which they never thought of looking for before.

I think a painter is about the very worst critic we can set before a
picture; perhaps this may serve as some sort of excuse for the faults of
Ruskin. He will be able to dissect the picture, tell you how this part
has been worked, and with what, but he can hardly stand on impartial
ground, the only position for a judge or critic.

If his forte is colour, he must stop dead at this, and because his
sensitive and cultivated taste is offended by some flaw in his
particular hobby and firmly fixed habits, he will get no further, and
see nothing else; just as a sensitive ear will be offended by a jar in
the playing, and lose in the irritation the whole of the composition and
thought.

You say, But a picture ought to be perfect. True; so ought the man who
has painted it, and perhaps would have been had Eve not eaten the apple.

I never saw a perfect action in my life, far less a perfect picture.

And so also with the pre-Raphaelite; he condemns the bold and broad
style, and the rugged painter sees only paltry crotchet work in the
pre-Raphaelite. They are all right, and so of course it stands to reason
that they must be all wrong to each other.[9]

However, to return to our picture on hand. We have gone over it with our
chalk, charcoal, or pencil, and in doing so we must try to be very
particular in drawing it thoroughly. First, we will block in our subject
roughly and slightly, as a sculptor would begin to hack out his stone or
shape his clay. It does not make any difference whether it is a
landscape or a figure we are aiming at; we must begin it first with a
few marks of distance, put it into squares, divide it with straight
lines, measure it with our eye in its broadest sense, box it up, and put
rigidly from us all temptations at this stage to enter into details.
Leave all the fine curves until we are sure that we have room for them
with our square lines; a rough touch for a nose, a mouth, a branch, or a
house, it is all the same, and all that we require for the present; more
will only distract our attention from the duty before us, which is the
exact proportions of the masses, and the position they hold towards each
other.

Second stage--go over it carefully bit by bit, use our mental point,
measure it all again with our eye, compare very minutely this part with
some other part, the breadth of this window or nose with their length,
and the breadth and length of something else; look at the relative
position of two parts, the angles of imaginary lines that you mentally
pass between them, and so on, and so on; in fact, be our own harshest
critics, and leave not the smallest space unmeasured or unthought of,
previous to our filling it in.

Next we go into details, and by degrees walk carefully over our clumsy
outsides, cutting gradually in farther and farther, until we have lost
the square angles without losing the firmness which they have given to
us, and with perfect assurance and ease dash in our beautiful quivers
and curves, not with the harsh, hard, clear lines of a copy-book, but
with the soft, broad, breathing lines of nervous talent.

We are now ready for paint, so we will begin to set our palette. We
start with white, and put it nearest to the thumb-hole, as it is what we
shall use most; next we take the yellows, being nearest the light in
colour--the brightest first, our lemons and chromes, Naples yellows,
ochres, cadmiums, and raw siennas. You will not need the half of these
unless you like. Next follow the reds--vermilion, crimsons, roses, light
and Indian reds, or whatever else you please, in decreasing scale of
brightness to our browns, and our blues, cobalts, ultramarine or
permanent, Prussian, indigo, &c., and so wind up with the darks and
blacks.

You can paint a picture with three colours, and you can use all that are
in the colour list; only have a method and reason for everything you do,
and if a good reason, it will be the proper thing to do. We set our
palette thus, because our tints are thus in harmonious gradations from
us; and also, if by mistake our brush comes into contact with two
colours at once, it will not do so much damage as it otherwise would if
such colours as yellow and blue were placed side by side; both in such a
case would be dirtied past any further service.

In setting your palette, you may use your own discretion, as I have
said, and cram it with all the high-sounding, high-priced range to be
found in the many-leaved colour list-books, but one thing time and
experience alone can teach you--that the greater your art knowledge, the
more limited will be your range of colours and implements. You may begin
with the rainbow, but you will return eventually to your earths; for
what I hold to be the great secret in painting, poetry, and literature
is--simplicity. Fine words, dear colours, only mystify the student and
prove the weakness of the worker.

For brushes, in oils try to acquire the use of hog-hair brushes if you
would make effective and vigorous work; sables and soft brushes are sure
to tempt you, being so much pleasanter to a beginner. But if it is not
miniature, pre-Raphaelite, or tea-tray painting which you aspire to,
keep from them as long as you can. Do not use softeners either, but
rather place your colours firmly, and separately, and purely, so as to
produce the effect you desire by knowledge and skill, and not by
trickery.

Make your lines rather suggestively than literally, and the larger your
brushes the finer your work will be; for if we look at nature we cannot
find lines, or if there seem lines they are formed by many
cross-divisions so minute and filled with gradations that the finest
sable-hair is like rope-work beside them.

We cannot copy the delicacy of nature, for we cannot trace it, therefore
we must content ourselves with attempting to give a little of the effect
and feeling that we from our distance can trace. This is why, _from my
point of view_, pre-Raphaelitism is a clumsy, abortive imitation of the
upper surface, and not so true a translation of the whole as the
painting of the broad and suggestive worker.

In water-colour we require to use sables for our washes--that is, if it
is water-colour and not opaque painting we are attempting.

Now for the subject. There are two ways of approaching it: one with fear
and trembling, thinking of all the poetry that is in it, or rather the
sham sentiment that we fancy is in ourselves, and would fain make other
people believe to be our own outpourings, while in reality it is the
effect left on our dazzled mind after reading the matchless
cloud-and-water poetry to be found in the pages of 'Modern Painters' and
other works by the same author. How fondly we are apt to imagine, as we
quote, that we have seen countless miles of transparent cloud beyond
cloud, vistas opening up as we gaze, and think so it ought to be
painted, as if mortal hand or manufactured paint could do it, while all
the time we are only miserable waiters serving up in a flashy way the
utterly impossible dishes Ruskin has so finely spiced in his own private
kitchen!

Do you think that Turner painted half the beauties Ruskin _sees_ in his
pictures, thought out half the mountains of thought his admirer makes
him think, had a quarter of the intentions the Professor fathers him
with?

No! Turner was a poet, and painted, as Shakespeare wrote, on the spur of
the moment, with the same glorious knack of being able to leave alone
'_happy flukes_', which chance and accident gave them, and this knack,
if not the spirit of genius, is a very good substitute for it.

I do not mean to say that Turner painted from impulse only. I have not
the slightest doubt that he had intentions, and most carefully planned
out all his conceptions, as Shakespeare planned out the fabric, or
bones, of his plays; but the great bits of detail, the compact word, the
chance touch, the sparkle of wit, the sweep of the hog-hair that made
the veins upon the little shell by the sea-shore, the twist of the
palette knife that broke the colours into prismatic ripples on the
rounded wave--all that his admirer writes as forethought I do not
believe. He must have thought on the clouds and waves and sands which he
so often watched, the varying shapes and tints they took, the mixture of
all he had seen sweeping into shore, and thinking of all this while his
deft hand laboured hard to produce the semblance, so it took shape and
grew into being; or else he worked away and tried other methods and
experiments until the results came, and more wondrous results do come
thus by chance than the forced and mechanical labour of mere industry.

We spoil a good deal of good work through overwork. If we could but let
well alone we should not suffer the bitter reflections and heartburn of
a remembered chance cast away. We go on polishing and working, rounding
off this energetic sentence, touching over that harsh brush-mark, until
we have refined all spirit out of our work, and finish it off with a
smooth surface and nothing else.

To quote once more from Ruskin when he is for a moment sensible; he
speaks of the value of finish in the 'Stones of Venice' thus: 'Never
demand an exact finish when it does not lead to a noble end. If you
have the thought of a rough or untaught man, you must have it in a rough
and untaught way; but from an educated man, who can without effort
express his thoughts in an educated way, take the graceful expression
and be thankful, only get the thought and do not silence the peasant
because he cannot speak good grammar, or until you have taught him his
grammar. Grammar and refinement are good things both, only be sure of
the better things first.... Always look for invention first, and after
that for such execution as will help the invention and as the inventor
is capable of, without painful effort, and _no more_; above all, demand
no refinement of execution where there is no thought, for that is
slaves' work unredeemed. Rather choose rough work than smooth work, so
that the practical purpose is answered, and never imagine there is
reason to be proud of anything that may be accomplished by patience and
sand-paper!'

We can desire to read nothing broader or finer than this from any man,
for the man must write or paint roughly who cannot do better through his
want of education; but if the thoughts are there, it must be well. The
man also must write and paint roughly, no matter what his education has
been, when his thoughts are quicker and fuller than his power of
execution, and it is better to have the rough work and the full thought
than the finished work and something lost. But, no matter whether it be
science or art that the man is treating, I would reverse the advice
Ruskin gives in his introduction to 'Proserpina,' and tell the man to
write it in the language that he and his neighbours are most familiar
with, and not waste his time locking it up in a dead language that only
a few can understand. As to taking a month to each page, if heaven has
gifted him with ideas, he will find this as impossible to do as it will
be for the man or woman who have the spirit of men or women, and not the
essence of fools and apes, to cut the acquaintance who may be in reduced
circumstances, or engaged in honest, therefore holy, labour.

The other way of coming before nature is the tersely realistic, that
regards the changing glories of the sunset or moonrise with a callous,
critical, investigating glance, indulging in no idle visions or fancy
images, but dividing the glories into degrees of colour and gradation.

The school of Shelley sings--

      When sunset may breathe
      From the lit sea beneath
    Its ardours of rest and of love.

This cool hand cuts down all the ardours, and dots them lemon, orange,
chrome, rose madder, vermilion, raw umber, and cobalt.

And yet we must approach nature with a certain amount of awe and
veneration, if we would be painters and not painting-machines. If we
have any sentiment in our composition at all, we can no more gaze upon
the beautiful or grand without a responsive something being stirred
within us than we can hope to eat pork chops the last thing at night and
escape the nightmare.

The dash of the waterfall must produce in us more than the _dry_
estimate of its sparkling colours, or we are not far removed from the
fern that draggles by its edge. A lovely face or graceful form must
teach us more than carnation and ochre, or we deserve to be the hero of
Campbell's melancholy poem 'The Last Man.' If we do not feel the spirit
of the whole while we watch the form, the colour, and lights and shades,
we are worse off than the shadowless man, for we have pawned our souls
without redeeming that faithful follower.

It may be the spirit and beauty of peachy golden youth, or the spirit
and beauty of gnarled silver age, that we are watching. We see the
lights and the shadows playing about, the greens, the purples, the
browns, the reds, the yellows, the whites, but we _feel_ that there is
more than this. We dissect hair, we see in the dark the rich brown
madder shadows with the purple half-lights and blue gleams, and we know
this makes the raven's plume from the right standpoint; or the golden
tress, with its mixtures of ochre, green, and red, and we thrill at the
dusky loveliness that is crouching in the silky masses, or the angel
glory that is hovering round the fair, and so we drink in all the poetry
that we must have to refine and gild our realistic common sense before
we can appreciate it enough to paint it.

Once with a friend I watched a glorious sunset, and as I stood setting
my two palettes--one, imagery, where I was spreading out all my mental
stock of jewels, pearls, and opals for the greys, rubies, and
cairngorms, and a great many other precious stones from my castle in
Spain; with the other palette seeking to snatch from the weak little
tubes that intense dun and purple rolling about through the
thunder-drift,--seeking to bring down the waves of variation, the orange
and the gold and the green and burning flames subdivided ten
thousandfold, to my rule of three, seeking to draw down heaven and shut
it inside my paint-box,--I was somewhat amused by hearing my
colour-blind friend murmur pensively, 'Red-lead and lamp-black.'

That settled the whole conundrum, and I passed on.

How to paint a picture, that is the question. Although imagination ought
to be brought with us when we come to nature, it should be as our own
bicycle under us, and not like our neighbour's bicycle, riding over us.
We must give the spirit of what we see, and no more; for we shall commit
a hundred errors if we vainly attempt to give the spirit of the oak
while we are painting its bark. Of course we know what the oak has done,
we recall all that we have read of Nelson, Collingwood, and other hearts
of oak who have spilt good blood to prove that 'Britons never shall be
slaves'; and although, perhaps, it ought to give an oak-tree an air of
all this as it stands before us, yet there it stands before us, full of
knots and wrinkles, with its gnarled limbs flung about it, and its green
moss, silver lichen, and amber and purple darting between; and I take
it, this is what our painter has to get into his head and imitate. We
cannot see past its bark unless it is torn open, and then we may not see
the bark, and we must never think of painting what we cannot see. If, by
the help of our poetic taste, we can convey to the spectator the
sentiment we do see about it, of a hardy, sturdy, rugged sentinel that
has done duty there before our grandfathers were born, which goes on in
the same impassive way while we lie dead in sleep, and may go on ever
the same when perhaps we make up part of the earth and fungus about its
roots, unless God's swift telegram, the mighty lightning-flash, or man's
paltry axe, gives it its furlough,--if we can do this, as well as give
an image of the reality, we have done all we can do--made a noble work
and created a poem.

Never mind what anyone else sees in the subject, stick resolutely to
what your own eyes tell you, and you must be right. Say someone tells
you there is a man coming along the road; you think it does look like a
man, but you only see a splash of mixed colours with a _certain_ sweep
about it; put that in, and someone else looking at your picture will
say, 'You have made a man.'

This is the grand trick of landscape figure painting, for if anyone can
see a single line of detail about your figure more than the tree, or
stone, or hedge beside him, your figure is a failure and should come
out, for it is spoiling the unity of your picture.

So with clouds, water, mountains, trees, everything created above us,
beneath us, about us. My harp has only three strings, and were I to
finger it for a thousand hours, to a thousand different tunes, it would
be with the same variations. What paints sunset, paints sunrise, midday,
moonlight; the same colours that sparkle in the bright patch sparkle in
the deep shadow, and the variations of yellow, red, and blue are as
pronounced and apart in each blade of grass as they are in the white
clouds rolling above it, and as distinct in the dazzling snowdrift as in
the burning sunset skies,--there is not an inch without its variety, but
only a variety of three.

Return as soon as you can to the child with his first paint-box, the
savage in his woods, grand old Egypt that must stand for ever; but bring
back all your knowledge, so that you may know _why_ you painted as you
did when you began. Thus will you learn humility, which is only taught
by true and great wisdom, and the charity that has a hundred eyes.

We should begin our subject as we first see it. As we enter a room, the
first thing that strikes us is the great masses of light and shadows
before us; objects are all divided thus, and so we should paint our
first stage or working. This is the effect we are securing.

Afterwards objects proclaim themselves: they start out of the
masses--chairs, tables, pictures, people. That is our second stage or
working--the broadest fact of the individuals.

Thirdly, we see the details, ornaments, patterns, textures.

Lastly, as we get to look more closely, we see in each shadow a world of
colour, all the sparkles and gems, and the same in every light. This is
our finishing stage, and may be prolonged as far as we like and can go.

With landscape also it is the same. We would paint a tree: the first
thing that strikes us is its general shape--first working. Next its
great divisions of light and shadow, when some masses come out and other
masses go back, also a general idea of its prevailing tone. Second
working--Then, as we work and watch, come indications of branches, the
large limbs first, then the less, and so on, until we lose the lines of
the smallest branches and can only guess where they have gone to.

There are also suggestions of leaves which we know are leaves, although,
as they lie about in all directions, they get mixed up into all sorts of
shapes, and come gradually upon us: and this is the third stage of
working.

If we paint in the leaves as we know they are shaped, we must get a
stiff and unnatural picture, because we are not painting what we see,
but what we think should be there; and if we paint each individual leaf
as we would copy one set before us, or as we see them in Christmas
cards, we must paint in an abortive, unnatural, and exaggerated manner,
because, as our tree is so greatly smaller than the tree before us, if
each leaf was also in proportion less we could not make them out with
the naked eye.

How, then, ought we to do it? Not like a pre-Raphaelite or teatray
painter, but as we see it--broadly and in masses, doing what we can with
our own clumsy fingers and clumsier tools; and since we cannot get all
the details of nature, best leave them alone with true humility as
beyond us, and do what we can, and as nearly in proportion as we can.

To do this use hog-hair brushes, stand well back from your picture, and
try to keep the spectator back also. Tell him, like Salvator Rosa, that
the smell of paint is not good for him, or say he will never be able to
see the landscape if he pushes himself so amongst the branches and
leaves of the tree, or that it is rude to get so close to a lady's
face--anything, only keep him back the proper distance. If shortsighted,
let him be content with the description of other people about it, and
deplore his own misfortune, for a picture that is painted to be looked
at two inches from the eyes can never be a 'thing of joy.'

When before nature, it is strictly proper to adhere as closely to facts
as we can, put into our sketch everything that we can see before us, and
even at our closest following up we shall not get in a hundredth part.

True, the student is none the worse for a little fancy to help him out
of the road with any very ungainly object in front of him, but I doubt
if he will find a much better substitute than the objection he wishes
away.

The telegraph-post does its part in the composition of the picture as
conscientiously as the lovely silver birch, and at a place where the
birch would be too much.

We are searching after the picturesque, and stop, caught by something
that is fine, and yet when we dissect it we may find it full of the
objections and faults which we have been taught to reverence. Shall we
alter what nature has done so well, introduce our poor little rules, and
tailorise the picture until it stands reproachless?

Rules! nothing seems to me so forced, so curbing as this word. We ought
not to draw this as it is, because some of the lines are running counter
to what they ought to be. It is a sin against precedent if we put that
wall or fence as it at present stands. Good taste and the example of the
old masters forbid us to put on this colour, to do that. At every turn
we are met by a ticket marked 'Trespassers will be prosecuted to the
utmost rigour of the law.' Keep on the beaten track, or else you must
expect to suffer the consequences.

I hate all precedents and rules in art, and my advice would be, 'Put in
all that looks well in nature, and it will be your own bad work if it
does not look well in your picture.'

As to this veneration for the old masters, were they infallible, were
they more gifted than we are, had they more advantages for learning art
than we have? Yes, one great advantage over us--they had no old masters
to annoy them, only the spirit that God gave them to struggle on with,
as we should also have did the world not bid us bow down and worship
these time-stained old idols. They were great, and so may we become when
we are dust and ashes, and time has deified us and stained our pictures
to the golden duskiness that is fashionable, and tradition has distorted
our sayings and exalted our prolonged labours into sudden flashes of
genius.

It is very good practice to copy some pictures when there is something
in them that we wish to learn, yet cannot see how to do from nature. For
instance, you may learn how to glaze and scumble better from a picture
than from nature, because the glazings and scumblings of nature are too
subtle for us to follow always so directly.

You will also learn how painters of repute managed a certain phase or
effect of colour, subject, or composition. Rubens will liberate you from
many a stiffness, and give you in his own buoyant style the liberty and
joyful colouring you may be deficient in. Vandyke will teach you
refinement and dignity; Tintoretto, richness; Michael Angelo, the
boldness and firmness of handling and drawing, the severity and
squareness needful for majestic grandeur.

Amongst our own men, I quote John Pettie for a strength and richness
that have never been surpassed, bring what master of long-ago you like
to the competition; Orchardson for pure and delicate texture; Sir
Frederick Leighton for finish; Millais for realism in its best sense;
Alma-Tadema for imitation and learning; and a host of other men, both
good and true, who must improve the mind, the eye, and the hand.

Millais has said that an artist ought to begin as he did,
pre-Raphaelite, if only to learn the quality of Job. Nature eventually
must make him, as she has made that great realistic master, broad and
strong, if it is to be, though a whole world of critics were to chorus
against it.

Speaking of critics, I think we may divide them into two classes--the
psychological and the destroying, or vermin, species. The first class
look at a painting or a book as we ought to look at everything--with the
bee spirit, to suck out all the honey there is in it. They are of equal
use to the public and to the worker; for, leaving one to see the errors
that all man's work has, they lay the good before the other, benefiting
equally themselves in the instruction they have gained. As for the other
class, do they help the work done, or that has to be done? do they add
to the pleasure of the spectator, or instruct the worker by their
pertness or sneers? Do moths add to the value of clothes? does mildew
improve walls? does rust assist the brightness of polished steel? or do
white ants strengthen the rafters they bed in?

True, these are all works of nature and creatures of God. The decay must
be as useful as the life, or it would not be. But what made critics of
this class? From what? For what?

Discreet copying, as I have said, is very good; but there is only one
other practice as pernicious as indiscriminate and constant copying, and
that I will speak of presently.

What is glazing and scumbling?

Scumbling is going over distance with white or grey, rubbing it hard and
dry, so as to obscure the parts that stand too prominently out; it
softens harshnesses, sends back portions, and does its part in aiding
the general harmony of the distance and middle distance.

Glazing is the use of transparent colours with some sort of medium, such
as madders, siennas, browns, to give richness to the depths, lower the
tone in places needful, as foregrounds and such like, that come direct
with all their local hues about them; it brings things forward, as
scumbling sends objects back.

Tone is the cast of your scale of colour, the setting of your key, the
tuning of the pitchfork, to be determined on before you begin your
picture, and remembered all through it; and it is the forgetting of
this at times which stamps the amateur.

Style.--Of course everyone has his own taste to consult in this, and
what you admire you will, consciously or not, imitate, until nature
rectifies it and gives you a style of your own. The artist must
fluctuate among several styles, always following and trying to
understand nature, even while he admires other painters, until at last
the scales fall from his eyes, and he relies only on the powers given
him when he least expected it. A spark of what is to be will show out
here and there until the _to be_ has come.

That is, unless when, in their frantic efforts to be original, painters
hunt heaven and earth for the most startling effect, subject, or
treatment; then they become like French cooks--continually stirring
their minds for new mixtures to catch and astonish the public taste,
spending all their foolish energies in the spicing of old stale
thoughts.

It may be we admire Sam Bough, with his versatile fancy and vigorous
touch; or Lockhart, Macdonald, Fildes, &c., with their strong, healthy
'go'; or Herdman, Faed, &c., with their sweet touch and poetic minds; or
Sir Noel Paton, with his exquisite drawing, radiant colouring, and
originality of conception; or Waller Paton, with his purple and gold; or
the late lamented Paul Chalmers, who flung everything into the scale
against colour and made it weigh them down; or Harvey, who chose the
moral thought; or Gustave Doré, who revels in the image. I could go on
naming hosts who have styles distinct by power or affectation, for it is
in the style that we show our affectation, as we do it in our walking
and our talking; but I would only say that if you wish to be natural and
great, think very little upon the style you would take, and more upon
the thought you wish to express; be earnest in your work, and by
earnestness you will forget your delivery, and so be both natural and
original. And, after all, what does it matter whether people say we are
like So-and-so or not, if we are doing our very best? We must find the
true _peace with honour_, and the repose that ever follows honest,
earnest exertions.

It is also good practice to draw with the point, pencil, or pen as
rapidly as possible all that partakes of motion--ships sailing, engines
puffing out the volumes of steam and smoke, clouds, water, waving trees,
and reeds. Fill up your books and scraps of paper with all sorts of
shorthand notes; very likely you will not be able to decipher the wild
scratchings again, but they have done their duty while you were
scribbling them in by fixing something in your mind.

Watch closely as you sketch, and after you get home think it all out and
write down as nearly as possible all about it--the colours you think
should be used for it, the shape of it, the comparative size, and also,
_if you can_, the poetry and emotions it awoke in you.

Books on painting, as a rule, are only confusing to the mind of the
novice--filled with words difficult to comprehend, and of very little
use when the conundrum is solved. Like recipe and cookery books, they
serve, after you know your subject without them, to warn you against
what they advise, also to advertise the many colours you are to flounder
amongst for a season. But nature is the best recipe-book: her problems
are as easy to unravel, and when read, serve your lifetime.

Sir Joshua Reynolds is very good and sensible on painting, although I
cannot answer for his remarks on pictures.

John Ruskin's books are entertaining, splendidly and carefully prepared
inside and outside, even to the colour of the morocco and calf-skin; the
language as select and carefully weighed as the shade of the edges, and
the title as maturely considered as the material on which it has to be
printed. It is a great pleasure to handle one of his books, or even to
see one of the backs on our shelves; they are like greyhounds amongst
rough tykes; in fact, I have often felt sorry to open them, the bindings
are such masterpieces of thought.

When opened the pleasure is not diminished, although mystification may
set in at times. We sail smoothly over page after page, soothed with the
harmony, exalted with the poetry, thralled with the exquisite grace,
diction, and finish; we can hardly think of stopping to inquire what it
is all about, it is all so delightful, so ethereal--the work of a great
master of the pen.

Read and moralise, if you will, upon such beautiful touches as this:
'Morning breaks as I write along those Coniston Fells, and the level
mists, motionless and grey beneath the rose of the moorlands, veil the
lower woods, and the sleeping village, and the long lawns by the
lake--shore.'

This passage is only one of many that remind me of splinters from the
big diamond that was supposed in olden times to flash out of the head of
the toad. Copy it if you can with your brush, for it is very perfect in
its word-painting, and true to mornings I have seen in Cumberland.

But when he tells you how to paint, beware! for here he is a perfect
will-o'-the-wisp, sparkling out with his lovely lights, and luring you
on, now over dry land, now over marsh; giving at times good advice,
following it up by bad; telling you practical truths or ethical
fallacies.

If he was a consistent wrecker, we should get to know his fires and
steer clear of them in time; if he was all theory, we should enjoy him
as we do other poets; but he is like a man who has built a fine house
with chaste design and perfect decoration: it looks all that one can
desire, and has only one fault, but that is a grave one--the rafters and
supports are _rotten_.

He may be justly praising the old muddy Venetian glass, with its
ever-varied though clumsily-finished designs, as compared with the
sameness of our superior quality and finish; and putting absurdly silly
questions into the mouth of his supposed audience, as if a scavenger who
does his work honestly and comports himself uprightly could not be as
good a gentleman as the aristocrat who paces by him; and making out what
is done for economy, and justly so, to be the result of a false shame,
forgetting the parable of the talents, or the utility of working the one
as well as the five.

He may speak of the sanctity of colour, and go on abusing the coarseness
of Rubens, or the sensuality of Titian and Correggio, to be perhaps
followed up by the information that Titian and Tintoretto, when they
looked at a human being, saw the whole of its nature inside and out, and
painted it so.

He may abuse low tones, and tell us that all which is vile, and deadly,
and evil is sombre in colour, although in the same breath he will admit
that the tiger-skin is rather pretty, and that some bright flowers and
berries are poisonous, and also that there have been lovely women not
quite all honey, past and present.

He is abusing Salvator Rosa, although comparing him with painters of his
time--I don't know why; or in his own graceful way changing his tune,
and telling us that all good colour is pensive, and that it is blasphemy
to be gay.

He may abuse the past painters of storms and gloom, to turn with
gloating rapture to the tempests and gloom of Turner.

He may remorselessly plunge Teniers into the bottomless abyss for his
degrading subjects, yet praise Turner for his wallowing and grovelling
amongst the litter of Covent Garden; advocating his slanting steeples as
if that were the proper way for steeples to stand, or reviling some one
else for the same thing. How he raves throughout his books on the great
man! and how the great man, like old Samuel Johnson with his Boswell,
must have laughed, when not too much mystified or aggravated, at the
high-flown discoveries of his ardent admirer!

He may tell us that the chief power of Rembrandt was his character
drawing, and that he knew nothing of light and shade; or indulge in such
weak and heartless exhibitions of the fop wit as when he replies to
Constable's remark about chiaroscuro: 'The sacrifice was accepted by the
Fates, but the prayer denied. His pictures had nothing else, but they
had not chiaroscuro.'

I think I see this great critic leaning back after polishing off this
pert, unfeeling, and untrue bit of little smartness, with all the
complacence of having written a clever thing; it is on a par with his
dress-coat retort to the _Blackwood_ critic of October, 1843, about the
silver spoon and the orange; on a par with his intolerable remarks on
the pictures of Whistler--who, however, did not improve matters by his
pamphlet.

He may write about the utter meanness and humiliation of the imitators
of woods and marbles, as if a bit of wood or marble was not of as much
importance to the art student and as much a part of nature's graining as
the bark outside, or the blade of grass that engrossed his microscopic
eye so completely that he could not see the majesty of the Alps above
him. I can grain a little, and I feel as proud of this accomplishment as
I do when I paint a tree or a mountain something like, and never felt
degradation either in one or the other.

He may assume the lofty, and retire to his immaculate shell when asked
his advice on art, disdaining to give an opinion to a people who dare to
tolerate Frith's 'Derby Day,' and live there with his saints and kings,
or come forth with mighty condescension and tell the nations to hurry up
and avail themselves of his priceless services while yet there is time.
I admit all his greatness with true humility, yet I think we must allow
that before he was born good works were done in art, and even after the
lustre of his presence is withdrawn from amongst us I do not despair.

I know it is the fashion to quote Ruskin and Carlyle. I like them
both--Carlyle, because he is cut out of bigger stuff, and, like all
colossal work, rougher in his finish; but it is jarring to hear at every
turn in life, 'as Ruskin says,' 'as Carlyle remarks,' when Solomon has
said it all before, and perhaps many wise sages before him. God has
given minds to us as well as to Carlyle or Ruskin, and surely it is
better to say in our own way the old truths than recite from books that
other people can read as well as ourselves, if they like, merely to show
how clever, how ethical, or how well read we are. Read as much as you
can, but think out truths for yourselves.

Modesty sometimes compels us to state our authority when we dread to be
called the author of something not our own; also there may be times
when, like the use of a foreign word, it is inevitable--but the less the
better, both for our own selves and our listeners.

It is good at times to do a little wholesome penance, compare our work
with that of others, to try, for instance, how our picture looks in
comparison with some other picture of the same or a similar subject.
Modesty will perhaps point out many faults and shortcomings that we
could not find out in any other way; but the most vicious habit in young
painters is the perpetual running about each other's studios. To quote
the words of Solomon with a slight alteration, I would say, 'Put not
your feet too often into your neighbour's studio, lest individuality be
left outside.'

We see the effects of this practice in many of the pictures around us
every day: all good work in themselves, but with so little difference of
style that the only surprise is, the one name is not at the corner of
the lot.

It is good to exchange ideas at times, but only at times. On the whole,
I am of opinion that originality and individuality are more precious
than good workmanship, but both are best.

It is good to be able to copy a tree, or a stone, or a wall faithfully
and well, bring out all its variations and time-scars with fidelity; but
it is better to paint a moral and a thought, even although it is only
half expressed, for the spectators may fill out of their own mines of
thought all that you have left unsaid, although it is best to be able to
express it to the last letter.

All have different minds, as they have different tastes and habits. Some
are literal, and content with the fairness of the earth; they are poets
and painters of the real. Wordsworth is a realistic poet, Millais a
realistic painter; others are purely imaginative, and paint and write
about visions and the unseen, steadfast and serene dreamers of the
ideal. Shelley and Coleridge are imaginative poets, William Blake and
David Scott imaginative painters. Fancy sways others, and flings them
about, half on earth, half in air; excitement like that of the
footlights or champagne others, such as Byron and Gustave Doré.

All are to be admired, and are admired, and it becomes a question
impossible to answer, which have the five talents and which have the
three.

Imagination seems to me a very sublime quality, without much joy or
mirth in its composition; it does not require images to suggest
creation--'out of nothing it creates'; yet I dare not say that it is a
quality more to be desired than the merry fancy that builds its domes
and castles out of the clouds, or from the rocks and surroundings draws
images of other creations; neither would I say that there was less of
power or poetry in the mind that keeps strictly to reality and renders
the spirit and the being of all about them. They are all great gifts, to
be honoured one as much as another, but none partaking in that fantastic
unfinish and impotency called Mystery.

Goethe writes:--

    Pure intellect and earnest thought
    Express themselves with little art.

And I think him right, for, though mystery may be in vogue and
considered fine, I hold to my theory of Egypt, the child, and simplicity
in all things.

It is good at times to yield to the inner promptings, and attempt to
illustrate our thoughts, imaginings, dreams, and embody the images
raised in our minds when we read a story or listen to a description.

The scene rises before us quite distinctly, vague but vivid in its
colouring. We try to seize something special, and the whole vanishes;
that is our first experience, but by practice and perseverance you will
find the characters come to be less shy, and at last range themselves to
method, and stay while you are drawing their arms and legs with
exemplary patience.

It is good to be orthodox when we can in all that we do, to follow out
as far as is consistent with our own sense of manliness the fashions of
the day; but it is not good to enslave ourselves either for fashion,
popularity, or money. If we cannot do our work consistently, let us do
what we can.

If a certain mode of painting is termed proper and 'good colour,' or an
affectation of uncertainty or mystery that may look like unfinish, but
in reality requires more work than the apparent finish, and we desire to
please the artists and picture-dealers, and live as it were for the
hour, we may acquire this affectation, if it does not cost too much
_thought_; _that_ must ever rank above all technicality. But it is a
matter of choice which ought to be studied most--ourselves, the public,
or the professors. When a line can be drawn without offence to either,
it is policy to draw it.

Public opinion is fashion, and not much to be depended upon. What is
abused to-day may be lauded another day. It may be led by one man who
constitutes himself the leader, and he will be followed if enduring
enough to place himself in the front, and brave enough not to be crushed
by the sneering and the growling that must assail him for a time.

Titian's flesh tints were called chalky by the critics of his day. David
Cox could not please anyone, not even the children; his pictures got
turned out or skied in exhibitions, he was glad to sell a sketch for a
tube of paint; and we have seen what David Cox's little water-colour
daubs sell at now.

As with painting, so with poetry. Did Milton look the poet to Cromwell
that he is to us? The relations of Robert Burns thought the kindest
action towards him would be to burn his ungodly rubbish.

Is Whistler wrong in his mode of expressing himself? is the natural
question that comes up here. I do not know, although I have seen much of
his work; but _it_ seemed to me all right, only Ruskin says it is wrong,
and I do know that Ruskin is not always right.

But, whether right or wrong--and he will be both, as we all are to our
different critics with their different tastes--the opinion of one man,
or of ten thousand men, can neither make him wrong nor right.

No man ought to buy a name and grumble afterwards if the picture becomes
of less value.

Even such names as Raphael ought to weigh as nothing when before their
pictures. If the thing is bad in Raphael, it is bad in Whistler; if it
is good in Raphael, it could not be bad if it was Whistler.

If a picture is worth 200_l._ to the man who paid that sum for it, it
can never be worth a farthing less to him afterwards.

If a man buy a coat, a house, a horse, or a picture, he ought to know
_why_ he is buying it; and if it is value in his eyes, it cannot, or
ought not to, be made valueless by all the newspapers or critics in the
world. And if he has no knowledge on the matter, no likings, no
opinions, he ought to depend on some one whom he can trust who has
knowledge, and never alter afterwards; or he ought to spend his money
only on what he has fixed ideas about, or give it away in the cause of
charity, about which we all, as human beings, even the weakest, have
surely some sentiment clinging about us as a forecast of heaven. If he
spends his money only for fashion's sake, he deserves not only to lose
it, but to lose also the respect of every man of sense and purpose, for
he is a fool incurable.

We cannot all be educated on every subject, but we can all tell what
pleases us, and it is our duty to manhood to say so, and not take the
opinion of others against our feelings. For instance, if we are eating
something nice, is it no longer nice if our neighbour says it is not? or
ought we weakly to take the fashionable dish that we abhor, and pay ever
so much more for it, with our mouth watering after the cheap dish that
we can understand and relish?

Water-colour painting is the use of transparent colours with the ground
or paper serving as our white. The treatment may either be by wash or
stippling and hatching.

Stippling and hatching is the going over our work with dots or crossed
lines. Like engraving, its chief merit is the vast labour it costs, if
that is a merit; yet at times it has to be done where washes fail to
bring the effect.

Opaque or body colour, like fresco painting, is the mixing of Chinese or
zinc white with the colours. A little chemistry should be studied in
this work, as some of the other metals do not agree with zinc.

The farther we keep two systems apart, the better and the purer both
will be, although the effect is the main object, and all other
considerations of less consequence. The more we glaze in water-colour,
the more subtle will be our work; the less we glaze in oil, the more
satisfactory and firmer will be the result. Yet, obey no arbitrary laws;
do whatever brings the conclusion quickest, and it must be legitimate.
If your knife does better than your brush, use it; if your fingers, use
them. Scratch, scrape, rub, cut, polish, shave, do whatever you think
will succeed, and if it does not, try some other experiment until it
does come up to your wishes. If the colour you have put on is not the
one you need, put its complementary tint beside it and change its
character, or dash it over or about it. Have only your object firmly
fixed in your mind, and scruple at nothing in the way of experiment. The
more methods you employ, the nearer you will be to the ever-changing
method of nature.

I have not touched upon half my points, and only _touched_ those I have
gone over. I could go into details about the manner of mixing up the
colours, and how to treat some of the special effects of nature, but
that I have already done.[10] I am tempted to draw a sunset, or a storm,
or a calm, with all their different objects in the background, middle
distance, and foreground, dissect them into paint as I pass down, tell
you what is sitting in the flank of one cloud and the total change of
shadow in the next, also why it is so, and must be so according to this
rule of three.

I should like also to show you the same sportive three nestling in the
sun-kissed breast of the same air-billow; quivering in the blue-grey
haze of the far distance; floating on the glittering ocean, or diving
amongst the deep reflections of the lake; peeping out of the froth and
the heavy curl of the advancing wave; dashed into pieces on the dulsy
sands; darting about the broad masses of the middle distance; playing at
hide-and-seek amongst the branches, leaves, and weeds and rocks of the
foreground.

The three are everywhere, and infinite in their sport--two ever
subordinate and obedient, advising, enhancing, leading; one ever acting
the monarch, yet ever being dethroned and supplanted by one of the two
counsellors, to join the other in obedience and then conspiracy, to leap
up, take the reins, sink down vanquished, and all this for ever and for
ever.

And on Perspective; for although Gainsborough has said that the
painter's eye is the best guide, we must have rules here, if only that
we may forget them discreetly.

We must draw our horizontal line, and be guided by it; also know where
to fix and keep in mind our points of sight, stand-point, and dots of
distance; be able to place our vanishing lines, know where they are
going, and why they are so going. We must also know where to drift our
shadows, and when to trail them; how long our reflections ought to be,
and why at one time we make them longer than the object, and why at
another time so much shorter. This is all imperative to the art student,
although it may be overdone. The rules are not so hard as some imagine,
and, like painting, are best demonstrated in nature. Sit down to draw
part of a city with two or three streets slanting different directions,
pass lines about from your horizontal line, until you fix on the right
slope, and you have gleaned all that there is to get practically out of
Perspective.

Many a good picture is spoiled by the painter 'showing off' his
knowledge in this line, where a little deviation from the stiff law
would have redeemed the whole; just as many a clever speech is often
spoiled by the speaker weighing it down with complex and ornate words.

And on Anatomy; for, although the classic Greeks are supposed to be all
ignorant on this subject, it is no excuse for our ignorance; the science
is now established, and it is our duty to learn it if we would be
perfect draughtsmen of the human body and its exertions.

Gustave Doré, through his great knowledge of anatomy, can take the
liberties he does with his figures, and yet be to a certain extent
natural. Look at his thousands of figures, with their countless twists
and contortions, if you desire to know the ease and power the study of
anatomy gives to a man.

The Greeks had perfect models. Their customs, exercises, abstinence and
games gave them this advantage over us; but times have changed: our
climate, our costumes, our habits are all against us, and without the
knowledge of bones and muscles we should never discern between the
natural and the deformed, and just picture Venus rising from the salt
foam with a corset-curbed waist or the traces of a badly-set joint!

And how should we know what ought to be, and what ought not to be, in
our model, if we are ignorant of his or her construction?

True, the Greek statues are there, to copy and educate our eyes to the
true and lovely; but how are we to know whether the Greek statues are
perfect, if we do not know why that lump starts out when the arm or leg
is planted so? The study of the Greek statues is about as long as the
study of anatomy, and not so satisfactory, but both are best.

And now one word on Exhibitions and Academies.

_Exhibitions._--It is good for ourselves to get pictures hung in
exhibitions, independent of the good it does to our pockets, that is,
when we can. Although I think the intelligent public do not pay so much
heed as to whether your name is in the catalogue or not, yet the great
mass who get all their ideas from the morning news, and read all the
criticism as gospel, lay a stress upon it.

But to see your picture alongside of many, is to see many of your
faults; and yet only to a certain extent, for the best pictures for
rooms are not always the pictures that look best in exhibitions. They
may have qualities too original, or striking, or fine for the glare, and
the distance, and the surroundings.

The qualities for exhibition purposes are soberness, not too much
individuality or variety, qualities that dovetail their single part with
other single-part pictures, so as to make a pleasing harmony of the
whole. It is the student's own choice whether he will, therefore,
sacrifice his idea for a place in the catalogue, or run the chance of
missing that and keeping his ideas.

Of course when he is famous he may do as he likes, and the world will
say all is perfect that his hand touches.

_Academies_ must be good when they foster the art youth, encourage
originality, train his eye and his hand, and keep active his mind to the
true principles of art and the animation of thought; bad if, while they
train the hand, they crush out spirit, originality and thought.

[Illustration: ON THE ESK RIVER, TASMANIA

(_From a photograph by Major Aikenhead, Launceston_)]



CHAPTER IV

_ART IN ITS RELATIONSHIP TO EVERYDAY LIFE_


[Illustration: I] DO not suppose many, amongst even observant people
(unless they take the trouble to investigate the matter specially), can
realise what an important factor art has become to the most trivial
object of everyday life, or how impossible it is for us to do without
its aid at every turn.

By art I mean the embellishment or beautifying of articles of utility
or necessity, and the imitation of nature as far as it is possible for
us to copy or translate the beautiful and perfect so lavishly spread
about us, and bring it within the scope of our hourly necessities.

As an instinct, this craving after the beautiful is developed very early
in man and woman. The first instinct of the child, of course, is for
food, but the second will be for ornament; it cries for its mother's
milk first, and when satisfied with this craving, next becomes attracted
towards the fringes and buttons of its mother's dress, or the pendant
dangling from the end of its father's watch-chain.

To gratify this early taste, the baby becomes possessor of a gum-stick;
but I very much doubt if the baby has yet been born who would be
satisfied with a plain, unadorned bit of stiff indiarubber, if it can
have its choice between this and the attractive carved coral, with its
ornaments of glittering bells.

Amongst early nations--our own for instance, which I put upon the same
level as the aboriginals of Australia or the natives of New Guinea--we
find the same instinct for art and observation of nature: there is no
nation so low or primitive that it does not indulge in ornament.

It is also a curious point in natives, that, the more primitive they
are, the more refined they are in their taste, the nearer they are to
nature and each other; it is the half-civilised only who depart from the
imitation of what they see about them, and indulge in eccentricities and
extravagances.

This directness and simplicity stamp each effort of the child and the
savage when they attempt to express their ideas--ideas which are
prompted by what they see; and the same directness and simplicity are
the sign-marks on all the most perfect work of the finished artist,
whether he is the designer of pictures, churches, pleasure-grounds, or
the costumier who strives to cover the defects of his wealthy patron.

Talking about clothes and the near affinity between nature and art--even
in this minor department I remember once the great Parisian autocrat of
costumes, Mr. Worth, coming to Melrose especially to study the ruins of
that fine abbey to get ideas for future designs in ladies' dresses. His
system is to look at the woman who comes to him for advice in this
all-important matter, see how she walks backwards and forwards, studying
as she does so all her good points and defects; then, being a poet in
his own line, he imagines her as the ideal woman, and, without troubling
himself about her own tastes or inclinations, he creates a dress in
shape and colour which will make her as nearly approaching to his ideal
woman as she can be made. This is his great secret and the cause of his
success and popularity: he always strives to work up to his ideal of
beauty and the perfection of nature in the most direct and easiest way
possible.

As proof of this, a friend of mine once went to him to get a costume.
This lady could never get any dress to suit her; something was for ever
amiss with either the tone or shape. Nature had not been over kind to
her either in form or colour, and her dressmakers, as she did herself,
always attired her according to the fashion of the hour, which, of
course, not being originated for her specially, could not be expected to
suit her.

Worth was at last caught in a moment of leisure by this applicant, who
had lingered about the threshold of his palace of fashion for some weary
weeks before she could gain her point.

The great man looked her over critically, as one might examine a horse
for sale at a fair; then he made her walk before him twice, and, telling
her 'that would do,' consigned her to an assistant, who took her
measurements, her name and address, and gave her a receipt for her fee
of one hundred guineas.

A week or so passed, and then the dreamt-about costume came to hand. As
the lady remarked, 'It was the plainest and shabbiest-looking frock that
ever I saw, _but when I tried it on I looked better than ever I had done
in my life_.'

Worth's idea suited this lady because it was fashioned only for her, but
ten chances to one it would not have suited anyone else. Why?--because
there are no replicas in nature.

This is where a ruling fashion is so ridiculous; it may answer the one
who is important enough to bring it into vogue, but it cannot possibly,
for the reason I have stated, answer anyone else.

Look along the street at the faces and figures which are constantly
hurrying past, each one different in nose, eyes, mouth, expression, and
gait; it is wonderful how it can be, but so it is! Look at any park, you
cannot find two oak trees alike, nor even two blades of grass.

It is this variety which makes the world so charming, and the world's
Maker so worthy of our profoundest adoration; it is all the perfection
of art and limitless design, before which we may abase ourselves with
proud humility as being a portion of this great originality, and try to
imitate some of it with confidence: for, depend upon it, this infinite
variety does not stop with outside objects, but is carried on within to
our minds, thoughts, and observations. As there are no two objects
alike, so no two onlookers can see the same object exactly in the same
way, or reflect exactly alike; therefore we must stand apart from all
others and be original, whether we wish to be or not.

This is the consolation which I would give to young artists who may
imagine, because they are born in the nineteenth century, that they are
born a few centuries too late to make their mark in the world. We are
never too late for anything unless we make ourselves too late through
sloth or timidity; as long as we work with an intention we must always
move on, as we were intended to move on. Remember this when your hearts
are inclined to grow weak, and you fancy that you are going along too
slowly.

King Solomon thought that he knew everything and had been born too late
when he wrote 'There is nothing new under the sun,' yet after Solomon
came many others who discovered fresh objects to admire--Shakespeare and
Milton, and after them Carlyle and Ruskin; and still the busy minds keep
turning up fresh and new, fitting exactly to the day which has been made
for them. In Solomon's day the countless daisies opened their petals to
greet the sunbeam and closed them again at nightfall, each daisy
different from all other daisies, while the sparrows hopped about in all
their subtle varieties, as the daisies and sparrows have continued to
come and go down the ages, and as they must continue while this
ever-renovating world lasts, as fresh, as perfect, and as startlingly
new as when man first opened his eyes and beheld that wonderful nature
of which he was part and portion.

I hold that we have all original ideas, as much as Solomon or
Shakespeare had, if we like to use our own minds and our own eyes as
they did. We have all our limit, as they had theirs, for Solomon proved
that he had reached his limit, else he would never have written that
sentence; he had seen all that he could comprehend, and so gave the rest
up as vanity and vexation of spirit.

Job saw more than Solomon, for sorrow had opened his eyes and expanded
his senses, drawing him into the heart of nature, therefore he became a
wiser and, at the end, a happier man, dying while still a student of the
wonders all around him; and this is the religion which we must all seek
to embrace if we would advance in wisdom. We must begin, continue, and
end as students, with our comprehensions growing as we grow older, never
resting in our work or investigations, ever trying to grasp the lessons
set before us, and to express as far as we are able what we have learnt.

These lessons in art are constantly about us in our everyday life. We
walk through the forest in summer time, under the canopy of green
arches, with the upstanding boughs of trees spreading away until they
become indistinct in the shadowy distance. What does this suggest, if
not the grand cathedrals with their pillars and arched domes? and this
is what the early Fathers saw and tried to reproduce in their churches
and abbeys. We look up and see the clouds floating above us, sometimes
with shapes like cherubs and angels, at other times like demons and evil
spirits: so the old painters and poets watched, and got their ideas of
heaven and hell.

It is now more than twenty years since I first went amongst those people
whom we call savages. I mixed amongst the tribes of Australia, the South
Sea Islanders, and the Maoris. I had no better reason for going at first
than a boy's wish to see the world, when I began my wanderings, but I
was not long before I got a definite purpose, which has moved me ever
since.

I had taken lessons in drawing and painting before I left home,
otherwise I do not think my travels would have been of much service to
me. I also had a habit of not only sketching what struck me as peculiar
or useful, but of writing down carefully the descriptions of what I saw
as I went along.

At first I wrote down the observations at random, such as, if I saw a
sunset I would write something like this: 'Sun half only seen, vermilion
growing to glaze of lake, lower half purple spreading out to dun, upper
space ochre to orange with lemon; light edges of clouds near the sun,
and shadow sides of warm purple grey; above, green back space growing to
pearly grey, with rays shooting up cream-tinted, and filmy feathery
clouds creamy and flesh-coloured.'

This for the colours; then I would describe the shapes of the
cloud-masses from their likeness to something else. Sometimes they would
look like trees; then I thought what kind of tree they resembled, or it
might be a flying figure, with a distorted hunchback rushing after it.
As I followed these fancies it was wonderful what a tragic story that
sunset sometimes told me before I was done with it.

Once I was staying with a gentleman who added phrenology to his other
accomplishments. He asked me if I never tried to write poetry, and I
said, 'I had not'; to which he replied, 'Then try it, for I think you
have the gift.'

I sat down that night and attempted to make rhyme, but as I did not know
much about the rules, and had no subject, I cudgelled my brains for
words and rhymes without considering what was my theme, and therefore I
failed because I had nothing definite to write about.

As far as I can now remember, I think that my first attempt was a
love-poem; but as I had never been in love, and had no woman to stand
before me as a model, and no experience to serve me for the emotional
part, it was all vague, and the result was exactly what might have been
expected--meaningless words.

Had I contented myself with writing about what I saw and knew, I might
have made something.

And this was what I learnt afterwards, after many failures: never to
take up my brush or pen unless I had something definite to do--that is,
never to depend altogether upon inspirations; have the object first
vividly before me, and then it is not difficult to describe it, so long
as one does not try to improve upon the model, or go out of the way to
write or paint too finely.

I discovered, after a great many failures, that nature cannot be
improved upon, or even approached very near, and that the utmost my
imagination could do was to put into recognisable, if faulty, shape
whatever stood before my eyes, or the feelings which I myself
experienced--in fact, I learnt that what we call imagination is not the
gift of creating things out of chaos, but rather the remembering of
emotions and scenes and real personages, and that the more vividly I
could remember, the better work I did.

Then I knew that Shakespeare's mighty genius lay in his vast powers of
observation and in his direct simplicity of expression, and that the
great charm of his characters lay in their reality, for they were people
whom he had met and studied.

But I did not learn this all at once, as I have said. I had to go
through the preliminary stages of vanity and vexation of spirit, stages
when I wallowed in paint and ink, fancying myself heaven-inspired, and
beyond the necessity of using my eyes if I desired to do anything fine.
It was all very well for sketches to look somewhat like nature and to be
particular with them, but for finished work much more than this must be
accomplished. So I struggled on spoiling canvases and good paper, before
the age of common sense arrived, and never valuing the best works of
all, which were my direct notes and sketches from nature.

It was the aboriginals of Australia who put me first upon the right
track; a miserable, low-caste race they appear to those who see them
hanging about the white settlements, clad in fantastic rags, the
cast-off garments of the white fellow, and taking, with the rags, all
the debasing vices of the conquerors, but a very different race when in
their native wilds, with their mystic institutions and hereditary laws.

We are so apt to despise these black fellows, and to classify them all
as savages and benighted heathens, particularly if we know nothing about
them--as we did with the Indians and Peruvians, Chinese and Japanese,
before our eyes became opened to their wonderful arts and ancient
mysteries, their sciences, philosophies, and spiritualisms. Nowadays,
like all people who take extreme views, we are rushing into the opposite
direction, and adopting, with blind credulity, all which we formerly as
blindly despised.

Our markets are crowded with Eastern and Japanese wares; our apartments
are becoming Oriental, and crammed with those artistic realisations of
nightmare monstrosities which the opium-smoking children of the sun
delight in. Fortunately, we can purchase specimens of these eccentric
artists cheaply, and, for the money, marvellously well done; yet,
graceful or quaint as these designs may be, to the art mind they are as
dangerous as the opium habit from which they are generated.

They are all morbid outcomes of an unwholesome and unnatural taste,
suggestive only of that refinement which is _blasé_ of tenderness,
humanity, or morality, and which is nearly past all excitements except
such as are monstrous and beastly, the demoralising refinement of decay.
Artistic?--yes; we must grant to them the praise of artistic execution;
but this is the whole length which we can go in the matter of praise,
and this is not enough for art to be of real utility to daily life and
its hourly obligations.

Oriental art is pitiless and cruel as a reasonless monster in the lesson
which it inculcates--cruel, fatalistic, and emotionless, therefore to us
Westerns enervating and demoralising. The real philosophers and
humanitarians of the East are contemplators of nature direct, and they
only represent the objects of their veneration by obscure symbols, never
by blasphemous caricatures; it is the unbelievers of the East and the
demon-worshippers who give us these nightmare creations, and who have
gone beyond the dreams of Paradise. No flower-land opens up to them in
their periods of opium-stupor; it is a land of gloomy shadows and dank,
dead leaves, through which crawl reptiles and noxious insects, or ghouls
loom up grotesque and horrible, and these weird remembrances they embody
in artistic shapes on bronzes, rare lacquer-work and tapestry, and send
out broadcast to demoralise the world of modern culture.

And now let us consider the result of all this siren false art upon our
daily lives. Insensibly the deadly poison is imbibed in small doses,
until the strength and clearness of daylight look garish to us, the
direct colouring of nature appears too raw, and we can no longer inhale
a full breath of life as it is given to us, unfettered, into our
vitiated lungs.

The faith which was all-sufficient for our ancestors is discarded, not
for atheism, but for a mysticism infinitely more childish and
superstitious than the religion which we superciliously term
superstitious. Witness such pitiful exhibitions as those impostors,
so-called 'Aissouas,' who recently disgraced London with their
disgusting and fraudulent tricks--such-like flimsy performances as we
have been accustomed to see at penny shows at country fairs since our
boyhood, only in the case of these Eastern shams not half so cleverly
executed as the feats done by the ordinary country showman.

This is where art has such a resistless influence upon our daily lives,
and why we should be careful to discriminate between the true and the
false.

False art will make us cruel and remorseless--that is, the personating
and choosing of monstrosities; and the more artfully they are designed,
the more degraded and callous we must become, and the more deeply we
must sink in our moral perception of what is good and noble in humanity.
And while we sink step by step, the more morbidly vivisecting must we
become, and as we have grown accustomed to the study and contemplation
of distortion, the more distorted will be our views of everyday life:
humanity will represent only a field for the investigation of developed
or undeveloped vices and ignoble desires; there can be no possible room
for virtue or lofty aspirations in the life which we take up to
vivisect; in fact, before we have got half-way through with our
cold-blooded, one-sided investigation, it is no longer life which we are
cutting about, but a putrid corpse.

So much for those who are artistic or literary under these distorted
circumstances. The others, who are not so gifted in intellectual
qualities--but who have the same aspirations, and develop in action as
the others do in thought--become by unnatural progression such epicures
in horrors as the White-chapel monster whom we have come to know as
'Jack the Ripper.'

True or healthy art is content with the directness of the example which
nature sets before it, the result of which is faith in beauty, faith in
virtue, and a hopeful toleration of vice.

Vice to these students is no more the natural aspect of humanity than
blight is the natural state of the leaves upon the trees or flowers; it
is a diseased state, which must be endured, but may be eradicated. By
constantly watching the healthy life they come to comprehend the causes
for the unhealthy more quickly than do those who morbidly brood upon the
blighted portions only--i.e. their comprehensions become more vivid, and
their minds more robust, for our health depends entirely upon the food
we feed upon. People may accustom themselves to feed upon poisons, but
if they do, it is utterly impossible for them ever to live upon anything
else or to be able to exist without their daily dose.

To come back to my own experience in my search after nature. When mixing
among the natives of Australia I got the first revelation of what I
ought to do. I saw that they had many wise laws, blending with much that
was ugly, gross, and superstitious. Some of their rites appeared
contemptible, but even these rites perhaps appeared so owing to my own
imperfect knowledge of their origin and the secretiveness of the natives
themselves regarding them; yet some of their laws were clear enough and
good enough to be adopted by the most civilised races with advantage.
Their marriage laws and stern strictness regarding consanguinity stand,
with singular force of natural wisdom, out from a mass of apparently
reasonless rites and mysteries.

In their wild state the Australian tribes are a muscular and well-formed
race, considering the privations from want of food and water which they
have to undergo at times. This scarcity of food and long intervals
between rains have forced them to become nomadic in their habits, and
account naturally for the want of homes or villages and the rudeness of
their places of shelter. Where people are compelled to shift often, they
do not care to adorn their temporary homes--a few shards of gum-tree
bark are good enough to keep the dew from them at nights, and the
sun-rays are never too strong for them during the day. They are
accustomed to take long marches and endure hunger and thirst on the way,
so that they have no place for weakly members. If such are born, they
are promptly killed as soon as the fact is discovered. If they become
weakly afterwards, then such are doomed to a life of celibacy, so that
the tribe may not deteriorate.

I noticed that their ideas never went beyond what they were accustomed
to see constantly about them; that the origin of their characteristic
weapon, the boomerang, was the eucalyptus leaf, that long leaf which
turns its thin edge to the light, and when it falls from the tree
circles in its descent as do those formidable implements of defence;
that in their songs and dances they told a tale of nature as they saw
it; and then I began to understand that where their strength lay I
might find mine also, and so I became a realist, and learnt never to
begin a sentence or paint a sketch unless I had a definite object, with
its shape, size, colouring, and character vividly before me.

Then I advanced another step in this primitive school of nature. I
learnt that these people never wasted words when they wished to express
themselves, and so I began to see how much stronger brevity is than
ornate and laboured phraseology, and how much finer an ornament is when
standing isolated and in no way disguised by superfluous flourishes; and
then I think my education was complete as far as the Australian
aboriginal could instruct me.

I very soon found plenty to do, and never afterwards wanted a subject. I
studied the gum-tree, with its perfect flower, where the male and female
are united from birth, and those medicinal leaves which look so sparse,
but are so closely put together, the density of which can only be seen
when the hurricane blows them about until they are like our willow-trees
at home. I watched the sturdy, twisted, gleaming branches, like great
white snakes, so different from any other branches of trees, until I
grew to love them.

(I remember how an all-wise art editor once objected to one of my
representations of a gum-tree because he said that the branches were so
_serpentine_, and therefore not like the trees which he had been
accustomed to see. I might have overlooked his ignorant remark, but I
found it difficult to forgive his sending my drawing to another artist,
who took the _serpentine_ appearance out of the branches, and so made
them appear like the trees to which he had been accustomed, before it
was allowed to be seen in print, and I have often wondered what the
people accustomed to real gum-trees have said about this
London-manufactured gum-tree.)

Those wonderful gum-trunks, with the bark hanging in long strips from
them like fluttering rags of brown sails! Mighty trees, some of them
rising four hundred feet into the blue-grey sky, and large enough in
girth to make good-sized houses, yet appearing beside their giant
brethren just like ordinary trees, until we began to measure their
circumference--size is so deceptive in this strange and vast sun-bathed
land, Australia.

What a deal I have written already about this one tree of Australia, in
all its many varieties, and yet I feel so much more than I can ever
express, either with brush or pen; it has grown so much a part of
myself.

What poetry may yet be written over its glory, as it has been felt and
written about the grand old oak of England! The gum-tree of Australia,
with its twisted limbs and tough heart, as broad-spreading as the
glorified tree of the Druids, as mighty as the gigantic pine of
California, with a character all its own and stamping it alone as a king
of trees; an iron monarch against which the axes of the woodmen break
their edges and turn aside; a beneficent ruler, for at its foot lie
wells of water to quench the thirsty, and in its leaves the most potent
medicine to cure disease.[11]

How I have studied it in the rosy dawn when the hidden sun changed the
upper branches to vermilion, and the crowds of paroquets and cockatoos
which it had sheltered all night woke up at the welcome sight of day;
how I have watched it in the sun-glare, with each outline sharply
defined, while the strong-beaked laughing jackass bent, over a bare,
snowy limb, and watched keenly amongst the underwood for its victim, the
venomous snake; and I have been often startled by the bird's uncanny
burst of mockery, when, after darting down and grabbing the snake, it
swiftly soared high in air, and from a great height dropped the
wriggling reptile: it was then the bird, misnamed a jackass, laughed
wildly as it watched the snake fall prone to earth and break its back.

I have seen it too in the afterglow, when the gaunt limbs became
salmon-tinted with a ghostly gleam over the forest, where deep shadows
were gathering fast; and in the dazzling moonlight, when they stood out
like great pillars, row upon row, mile after mile, as I rode along,
without seemingly a termination, some with the leaves drooping in black
masses, while in other parts great tracts of country were covered with
dead wood, where the forest fires had passed and shrivelled up their
lives, or the squatter had destroyed them for the sake of his herds; but
dead or alive, they stand year after year majestic and assertive of
their rank as lords, like solemn sentinels keeping guard over a silent
land.

What I mastered in Australia I carried with me to other lands, trying to
learn what the tattoo markings and tapu laws meant amongst the Maoris of
New Zealand, the punctilios and ceremonies of the South Sea Islanders,
and always getting my attention turned back to nature direct when I was
inclined to wander from this purpose or grow at all self-sufficient or
inclined to lean upon my own resources.

It was my failures which ever and again proved to me that I had no
resources of my own to fall back upon, and that I was only wasting my
talents when I tried to take my eyes from the face of nature; she had
proved herself all-sufficient for every imagination which I could ever
hope to conceive, no matter how long I lived, her school the best
college, and herself the only instructress which I needed at this
advanced stage.

It is a glorious experience this spread-out nature college, which I
recommend to everyone desirous of being regarded as original; an
ever-varied series of lessons, the chief charm of which is that each
student can only take away a little to call his own, leaving a full
treasury for whoever cares to come after him.

Copy great masters and read the best authorities; you will see what they
were able to take out of this treasury without diminishing its riches;
but do not borrow or try to wear their jewelry, for on you they will be
second-hand adornments; besides, to do so will be as foolish an act on
your part as if you were to put on a suit of clothes made for and worn
by someone else, instead of taking the clothes which have been measured
and made expressly for yourself.

Of course you must learn to understand how to choose what is best suited
for you, and for this purpose you must go into strict training, so as to
learn the laws and rules which these masters all had to learn first, and
improve upon as they progressed through the preliminary stages towards
that wider school in which no earthly master could guide them.

Like 'Johnny Ducks' in my story of 'Eight Bells,' I left home pretty
early to begin my wanderings, but before I left home I had gone through
a stiff training with different masters; in fact, I cannot remember the
time when I began to study drawing and painting, but it must have been
long before I began the alphabet, for I can recollect that event very
clearly, with a few of the ordinary incidents connected with it.

Both my parents were artistic and lovers of literature and art. The love
for books had been in both families for generations, as well as the
taste for travelling; many of my ancestors had been great travellers,
while not a few of them had paid the penalty of their lives for their
curiosity to see the world.

My father painted mostly in oil-colours, landscape and figure, and he
had gone through a very careful training under some of the best masters;
my mother painted in water-colours, and her _forte_ was flowers and
fruit; so that I had the benefit of watching them, and getting trained
almost insensibly to myself. I painted my first landscape in oils when I
was six years old, a copy of a picture lent to me by my first outside
master, before he sent his own to the exhibition, and which he allowed
me to sell afterwards for two guineas--to me at the time a very large
sum.

I can remember this picture most vividly, for the reason that I had to
do it twice over before my father was satisfied. The first canvas was so
badly done and enraged him so much that he broke it over my head as a
warning to me to be more careful; the second attempt must have been
better, for, although he did not praise it (he never praised anything I
did), yet he did not condemn it, while one day, as I was sitting under
the table unseen, he brought in a gentleman to look at it, who said 'it
was wonderful.'

My next master was a German designer from Munich, who taught me
ornamental drawing; he would not let me touch my paint-box at all while
he was present, but kept me strictly for over three years to charcoal,
pencil, and cartridge paper. At first it was straight and curved lines
only; next ornaments and friezes in relief; in my third year he allowed
me to draw leaves and blades of grass from nature also in the wintry
time the bare trees; finally, before he turned me off his hands he made
me arrange flowers and shrubs into groups, drawing them first exactly,
and next turning them into ornamental shapes and designs.

After him, I passed through the hands of a portrait-painter, drawing and
shading with charcoal only from the life. Then I painted the same in
monochrome in oils (I did not attempt water-colours, except to do
flowers in the wash style which my mother had painted for many years).

As a relaxation my father allowed me sometimes to paint pictures in oil
from nature. With some of my boy friends, I went out on Saturdays
sketching. We formed a club, and saved up our pocket-money to reward the
best painter, the umpire being the landscape-painter who had all along
been my friend and instructor in landscape-painting.

While thus trying to master in practice the A B C of art, through the
long winter nights, after I had learnt my school lessons for next day,
my father made me read all sorts of books on the theory of art in its
many branches. He used to mark off portions which he wished to impress
upon my memory and make me write them in my exercise-book. In this way I
copied off the greater part of M. Chevreul's 'Harmony and Contrast of
Colours,' a very long work indeed.

Then came the rules of perspective and measurements, also artistic
anatomy. I worked first from Dr. Knox's book and that of Leonardo da
Vinci. Ships had always a great fascination for me, and I used to read
and copy from all sorts of books on this subject, principally
shipbuilders' manuals and seamen's navigation guides.

My father, besides his painting, had also studied many other
sciences--geology, mathematics, astronomy, and botany. I fancy his
favourite pastime was botany. He saved me twice from being poisoned,
through his knowledge of plants. He used to tell me about the stars and
their distances, and how, by the aid of mathematics, he was able to
measure space, and from that I began to have, what has been a passion
with me ever since, a desire to know all about the early nations and how
they grew, with their myths and religions.

So my daily life was impregnated with art and science--art chiefly, into
which all the others merge. I may say that I was twelve years grinding
at the preliminary portions of my art education. It took me nearly eight
years to write the twelve parts of my 'Life and Nature Studies,' after I
had gone over the world for the first time, and in this book I have
tried to write what I had learnt during my travels and before them--that
is, about twenty-six years of art study, and I do not think that I can
advise anyone to attempt to master the principles of art in a shorter
space of time.

I would divide the time thus: Five years to hard outline drawing (the
younger the student begins, the more facile his hand will grow), five
years to anatomy and the life, and the rest of the time to the countless
difficulties which he will constantly encounter, and which will give so
much pleasure in the conquering.

It must be admitted that, at the first, straight and curved lines are no
more interesting to the art student than are the pot-hooks in the
preliminary stages of calligraphy, but they are both equally necessary
for the making of a free and pure draughtsman and writer. By-and-by,
when persevered with, these lines become a positive pleasure to indulge
in; so much so, that the veteran artist when he is idling an hour away,
if he has a piece of paper before him, or with his walking cane, will
unconsciously revert to this early practice, and draw flowing parallel
lines upon the paper or on the sand. What was once a severe task has
thus become a relaxation.

I would not also insist upon only dry and hard grinding during these
preliminary years (some authorities do), any more than I could expect a
man wishing to exercise one muscle to leave all the rest of the body
inactive. I would rather advise students to exercise all their faculties
as well--colours, gradation, outside sketching from nature, copying in
galleries and from the life; only never let them forget that this is the
one muscle which they _must_ exercise regularly and without
intermission, for it is the all-important factor of their future lives.

Everything helps art, as art enters into everything: music, poetry,
science, history, romance; in every walk of life which we may enter
upon, it must be ennobled by art, while the draughtsman has a decided
advantage over the man who cannot draw.

Are you a gardener? To be a master of the craft you must learn the laws
of form, colours, arrangement, and symmetry. A tailor? If you can draw
well you will become a cutter-out. In fact, I do not know the profession
or trade where it does not enter into and advantage the man who has it
to command.

All this it does in its practical, money-making, worldly side, which is
to me the under-side of art; for, after all, money-making, although a
very useful accomplishment as far as the world goes, is not a very noble
or high gift, excepting for the power which it gives to the lucky
possessor to do good to his less fortunate fellow-creatures. Where art
comes in and fulfils its highest mission is the almost limitless range
which it imparts to the votary of intellectual pleasure and ethic
enjoyments. We are all born with eyes and senses of taste, smell, and
sight, &c., it is true--that is, all healthy beings are so blessed--but
it is art which takes the grosser films from these senses and renders
them acute, so that each pleasure may be multiplied a thousandfold.

The ears can distinguish sounds as they are given to us. Art makes them
appreciate music. The eyes can see hills and valleys. Art makes them
take exquisite pleasure in forms and colours, a keener appreciation in
all which comes within their range. It is the education and refinement
of all the five material senses.

But it also passes these outer gates, and impregnates the soul until the
imprisoned Psyche can burst from her fetters and spread out her gossamer
wings to the warmth and golden light of the Love-world. Whoever is once
really touched by the purifying kiss of art can no more go back to the
fog-land of debased desires or commonplace than can the butterfly return
to her caterpillar state of crawling. He must soar over the heads of the
grubs, joyous and free, basking all the days of his life in the sunlight
of sensitive impressions. Pity claims him as her favourite child, and
Charity, the divine, breathes upon him for ever with her fragrant,
life-giving breath.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER V

_ON PICTURE LIGHTING_


[Illustration: E]VERY art-worker, whether his materials be palette and
brushes or camera and dry-plates, must feel the greatest interest in the
subject with which we have now to deal.

Lighting is the art of placing the sitter or choosing the landscape
under the most favourable aspects for effect.

From this we are able to grasp the form in all its firmness, and see the
finest play of colour, or, if ignorant, embody only a disjointed object,
apparently badly drawn because it is badly lighted, with the finest
passages of colour, and all the poetry and pathos of our intentions lost
through lack of a little consideration.

Some painters, in breaking from the Academy rules, show their
independence and immature audacity by revealing to the public ugly
slant-laws and unpoetic phases of realism; but with those who discard
knowledge for a purpose we have at present nothing to do, our task being
to speak about a few of the necessary lines of action, and to prove
their utility by the effects as seen in nature every day and in the
works of those men who have left a halo round their names by their
faithful adherence to the laws and truthful translations of the
revelations of nature; for the great men of the past and present are
those who grew strong by looking on the face of this divine mother,
whilst the little men, who are forgotten or may be passing into
oblivion, are those who were mighty in their own conceit, who depended
only on themselves, and hearkened weakly to the chirruping of
flatterers.

This point I wish to place before you rigidly, the unflinching adherence
to nature, for it is a much wiser thing to risk forgetfulness by the
faithful rendering of commonplace effects and forms than to lose
yourselves altogether, seeking after a beauty that is not of heaven or
earth. In the first case you may be passed over without comment, yet you
know that you have used the one talent bestowed upon you, and if so, you
cannot die altogether unknown; but in the other case you will only
startle a crowd, as the fiery meteor may startle, to drop out of sight
without a trace, excepting, it may be, the trace of a stain.

In light and shade there are what we may term _phenomenal_ laws, as
rigid in their demands as those rules which can be regulated by
measurement and proportion, and which the artist ought to observe as
closely as he may do the more ordinary or everyday phases of lighting;
for example, a fly darting suddenly from the deep shadow into the strong
light will in the first startled glance assume the proportions of a
crow.

In a picture of the 'Tercentenary Students' Torchlight Procession of
Edinburgh, 1884,' I intentionally made the horses and portions of the
crowd unduly large, on the same principle as the exaggeration of the
fly.

My reasons for doing so were just and strictly according to the reality
of a momentary effect; I state my reasons in order to show you that I
was right in doing so, and also because I dare say this may be one of
the objections to my treatment of this particular subject. I take up the
position of a spectator whose pupils have been dilated by the
semi-darkness, and who, with imagination active, is suddenly startled by
the flaring and irregular flashing of the waving torches; shadows dart
up to colossal proportions, also prominent objects, such as the mounted
police, and it is only by means of this distortion of size that I have
been able to give motion to the crowd, along with the weirdness of such
an effect.

I would ask all who have seen a torchlight procession to recall the
sensation, as closely as they can, when the first burst of torchlight
came upon them, for that is the moment I have attempted to fix upon my
canvas; and those who have not seen a large crowd under these conditions
may imagine what it would be like by the aid of fire or torchlights
which they have seen at other times. I would ask you to exercise the
faculties of memory or imagination while I give you a brief description
of the emotions it roused in my mind as one of the many thousand
spectators, and the effect it had upon my seeing faculties, which will
enable you to comprehend my motives for working as I did, preferring the
_strict reality_ of the instantaneous phase or impression to the
_actuality_ of the known form. (This I give you, not as an apology or
explanation for my picture, but as the nearest illustration I can think
about, at present, of one of the phenomenal laws of lighting.)

We were standing upon a house roof, looking over the city. Right and
left lay Princes Street, with the Mound at our feet, and Scott's
Monument in the middle distance.

Most of the time we were in darkness, with the exception of one or two
straggling candles at windows here and there, at wide intervals. A
mellow glow at the south end of the North Bridge, a blue light behind
the Monument, an occasional rocket fizzing from Calton Hill, also
faintly illumined with white and blue fire, into the umber-tinted
darkness of that starless, cloud-bulging sky, and the alternating
glaring from Hanover Street of rose-coloured, white, and green lights,
which dyed the upturned faces of the crowd and the columns of the
Institution in a broad line with the scarlet or emerald colour of the
fire then burning, for a few pulsating moments of eye-nerve-straining.

Then fell a deeper wave of darkness as the light passed from us, rushing
over the heaving masses below, whence rose up that sympathetic thrilling
sound which ever grips and holds the hearts of a crowd like one heart,
and over the houses, with their lights dashed out for a moment by the
passing away of that more intense light, all preparing me for the
fantastic sight we were awaiting.

Then increased the murmuring louder in its hoarseness with the sound of
many feet trampling, and as we looked towards the North Bridge, where
the lamp-lights showed faintly, the yellow glare of the advancing
torches gilded the sides of the opposite shops, while the houses on this
side became more jetty in their intervening blackness, and in another
moment they were blazing over the parapet of the bridge with a motion
like the walking of a centipede of fire; and so on, with the slow
appearance which distance always gives to all rapid motion, the
procession crossed the bridge, hiding behind the shops and houses
between the bridge and Princes Street, reappearing again by the Post
Office, gliding along to Calton Hill; then they paused for a moment,
turned round and came towards us, foreshortened, but growing vaster as
they neared, until, with a sudden burst, they were rolling along beneath
us, a heaving mass of upturned faces, crimson-tinted, with a river of
yellow light rolling along the centre, white flames with orange
terminations and wreaths of blurring rose and purple smoke, coats
reversed, shirt sleeves or bare arms waving about the torch-sticks,
smut-grimed faces, more like sweeps than students, with here and there a
colossal blue-vestured guardian angel of order bestriding an exaggerated
horse.

This is how it appeared to me and how I treated my picture--as I
conceived it ought to be treated; not as I knew the men and horses to
be, men and horses, but like the perturbed legions of spectres they for
the moment became: ghosts of giants and dwarfs, and other strange forms,
like those extinct monsters of the past, all whirling madly past me, a
vision of passion and flame crossing a chaos of darkness; an invasion of
demons, unreal, yet fascinating--a nightmare of glittering
phantasmagoria of light and shadow, blending colour with intense
blackness.

In this illustration I have given you the two most direct specimens of
lighting a picture that I can think of; in the one portion you have the
light coming from behind and making the objects stand out dark, as in
sunrises, sunsets, moonlights, or artificial lights behind figures; in
the other portion you have the light thrown into the picture, as from
the spectator, or in open daylight, sunshine, or lamp-light effects,
when the light is in front, and shadows fall behind or from the side.

I have divided both effects, as equally as they can be divided, into
light and shadow, the light occupying an equal space with the dark.
These are by no means the most satisfactory methods of dividing a
picture, as they are apt to be mannered and fixed; what I would rather
advise is, to allow either shadow or light to predominate--shadow, if
force is required; light, if air and delicacy are the aims you wish to
strive for. Yet, as they contain within them the primal divisions of all
lighting, they are the most appropriate for my present purpose.

In both effects the treatment is extremely simple, yet in the one, when
the light comes from behind, simplicity and directness are the more
strictly necessary; indeed, in painting a subject with the light from
the back, the energy of the painter should principally be directed to
the gradation of the shadows from misty distance to direct foreground,
having as few lights as can be dispensed with for the sake of form.

In the other, the time of day must be considered with the direction of
the light, so that it may pass directly and consistently throughout all
parts of the picture.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: A NEW GUINEA VILLAGE

(_A study of lighting from behind_)]

There is one strict rule I would have you bear in mind when sketching
outside; remember that the whole of your picture only represents a
second of time, the flapping of a drop-shutter over an instantaneous
plate. It will never be like nature if the light upon one part falls
half an hour before the light falls on another portion; so in planning
out the dispositions of your light you must do as the photographic
camera does. Fix one second upon the plate of your memory all over the
scene, and try to work up to this second.

The mechanical worker, who thinks he is a much more conscientious artist
and lover of nature than the impressionist, because he sits down with
his palette and canvas to his easel before nature six or ten hours at a
stretch, is much more unfaithful, even to the image he so patiently
tries to copy, than the impressionist, who, glancing rapidly and
comprehensively round, makes a few swift notes, catches the spirit of
the effect, and depends upon his memory, or a faithful photograph of his
image, for his detail afterwards. We may blink at this as much as we
choose, yet pre-Raphaelitism must come to its proper place in good time,
and be shut in with the antique casts of the schoolroom, with the young
men and women student days, shut in along with their cross-hatchings and
point-stipplings, to be laid carefully in their boxes along with their
gold, silver, and bronze medals, and other school prizes, when they come
out to face flesh and blood, broad daylight, and the world that will not
wait upon the crochet-meshes of meaningless patience.

I would not have a painter work a single line without having a direct
meaning for that line--not only a direct meaning, but a very potent
intention, which cannot be laid aside without injuring all the other
parts of the composition; so in lighting, I wish to impress upon all the
necessity for the strictest economy in the placing of the lights and
shadows; too much protestation will ever weaken an assurance, so also
too many lights will destroy the effect of light.

The other day I passed along a road when the sun was shining, a broad
daylighty forenoon sun-effect, and yet that stretch of road only
received the full force of it on one portion; silver-grey it spread from
my feet into distance; in mid-distance it took the gleam of quicksilver
upon it, growing blue-grey as it receded, and fawn-coloured as it neared
me, darkening with the ruts and markings of the foreground--detail
always produces darkness unless the light shines full and nearly upon
it, and then it will be full of acute shadow and strong light.

       *       *       *       *       *

Let us now divide our present subject, as Burnet has done, into five
parts--light, half-light, middle-tint, half-dark, and dark.

He tells us that, 'When a picture is chiefly composed of light and
half-light, the dark will have more force and point, but without the
help of strong colour to give it solidity it will be apt to look feeble;
and when a picture is composed mainly of dark and half-dark, the lights
will be more brilliant, but they will be apt to look spotty for want of
half-light to spread and connect them, and the piece be in danger of
becoming black and heavy; and when a picture is composed chiefly of
middle-tint, the dark and light portions have a more equal chance of
coming into notice, but the general effect is in danger of being common
and insipid.

'Light and shade are capable of producing many results, but the three
principal are relief, harmony, and breadth. By the first the artist is
enabled to give his works the distinctness and solidity of nature, the
second is the result of a union and consent of one part with another,
and the third, a general breadth, is the necessary attendant on extent
and magnitude. A judicious management of these three properties is to be
found in the best pictures of the Italian, Venetian, and Flemish
schools, and ought to employ the most attentive examination of the
student, for by giving too much relief, he will produce a dry, hard
effect; by too much softness and blending of the parts, woolliness and
insipidity; and in a desire to preserve a breadth of effect, he may
produce flatness.

'Relief is most necessary in large works, as their being seen from a
greater distance than easel pictures prevents them looking harsh or
cutting, and gives them that sharpness and clearness of effect so
necessary to counteract heaviness.

'Not only the works of Raphael and those of the Italian school possess
this quality, but we find it in the greatest perfection in the pictures
of Paulo Veronese and Tintoretto; and even the larger works of Titian
and Correggio have a flatness and precision which we look for in vain in
the succeeding school of Caracci and their disciples, Guido excepted.

'Harmony, or a union of the different parts of a composition, depends
upon the intermediate parts serving as a link or chain, either by
conveying a sensation of the same colours with those in immediate
contact, or by neutralising and breaking down the harsh asperities of
the two extremes, and thus producing a connection or agreement. Breadth
of effect is only to be produced by a great extent of light or shade
pervading the picture. If an open daylight appearance is intended, such
as we see in Cuyp, &c., it will be best produced by leaving out part of
the middle tint, and allowing a greater spread of light and half-light;
this will also give the darks the relative force which they possess in
nature. If a breadth of shadow is required, such as we find in
Rembrandt, &c., the picture ought to be made up of middle tint and
half-dark. In the one treatment the dark ought to tell sharp and
cutting, which is the characteristic of sturdy daylight; in the other,
the light ought to appear powerful and brilliant, enveloped in masses of
obscurity.'[12]

Burnet, in his treatise, gives also examples of light and shade taken
from the different masters. Light coming from the centre in a bright
spot or focus, with darkness surrounding it, as in some of the Dutch
pictures, where the light comes through a window, from a bright fire, a
lamp, or a candle, the effect will be a splash of white upon a ground of
dark grey and black; light coming from behind, where the effect is open
air with the ground light and the dark work starting out.

Light falling diagonally, almost equally divided, the light portion with
the dark.

Light striking into the picture, and falling upon the most prominent
object, if in a room, the effect will be dark background; if outside,
gloomy skies, as in autumn, winter, or storm effects. In landscape, this
effect is apt to produce solemnity, weirdness, or grandeur; if in a
room, the sombre yet rich depth of Rembrandt.[13]

Light falling perpendicularly and horizontally, as in doorways and
narrow passages, where the light comes in with difficulty.

Light striking across the picture horizontally, as in sunrises, when the
ground is in shadow.

Light striking sharply on one side, as when a lantern picture is thrown
obliquely against a wall, making the nearest edge sharp against a deep
dark, and drifting into shadow by degrees, thus founding the principles
of light and shadow. Light-acute, half-light, middle-tint, dark-acute,
half-dark, and middle-tint. Burnet gives a great number of examples to
prove the justice of his theory, which to give here would only be a loss
of time, as they repeat those different orders of lighting, yet I may
with benefit quote the wise advice of Rubens to his students, where he
says, 'Begin by painting in your shadows lightly, taking care that no
white is suffered to glide into them, for it is the poison of a picture
except in the lights; if even your shadows are corrupted by the
introduction of this baneful colour, your tones will no longer be warm
and transparent, but heavy and leady. It is not the same in the lights,
they may be loaded with colour as much as you think proper.'

A sheet of white paper or a clean piece of primed canvas will give us a
good idea of the value of shadow: make a stain upon any portion of its
surface, say two shades deeper grey than the canvas, and you have the
effect of light and half-tint. In open-air effects be sparing of your
darks, so that strength and force may be the consequence.

A sheet of grey tone paper is about the best medium to impress upon you
the value of tone. Make a mark with white chalk and a few darks, and the
ground will give all the other qualifying powers needful; the fewer
markings you make the more strength you must get in your effect.

In planning your picture, your first care, after the form has been seen
to, is to ascertain where the lights are to come from, and upon what
they are likely to fall; nature is our best guide in this, yet nature
must be followed with great caution, owing, as I have said before, to
the rapidity of her changes; also the superiority of light over white,
and shadow under black; we see, for example, degrees of light without
shadow, and degrees of shadow after the greatest depth of darkness has
been attained, and these we can no more follow than we can follow the
separate blade-markings on a grass-field; as in the one case so in the
other, we must suit ourselves to our limited means and simplify the
whole matter, gather our lights into a narrower and more concentrated
focus, and depend upon the half-tints and reflections for the greater
part of our picture.

If we see a dozen ripples of light, be content with the capture of one
light, and let the other eleven become half-lights or vanish altogether;
so shall we secure force.

Devote our skill to those half-tones which in reality mean the labour,
pride, and test of the painter, even although it is the high lights and
deep darks that finish the picture.

As I have said, there are only about half a dozen ways of lighting up a
picture--eight at the most--and all the pictures in the world, when
painted scientifically, work upon those eight direct or combination
arrangements, as in composition the varieties turn upon two primary
laws, angular and circular arrangements, and in colours upon three
colours, and it is in the strict observance of those scientific ground
lines that the entire success of our design or picture depends; but,
above all, the whole secret of scientific and artistic success lies in
the extreme singleness of our aim; we must not confuse or combine two
opposite laws in one composition, or else the blending will end either
in utter failure, or in a doubtful success which will not be worth the
trouble and labour expended.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER VI

_SHIPS: ANCIENT AND MODERN_


[Illustration: I]T may be that I am prejudiced by love in favour of the
sea and the burden which it bears upon its bosom, but to my mind, man
has only been able once to compete successfully with the designs of
nature, and that was in his ship-building. When he completed those
masterpieces which helped to make Nelson and England famous, he reached
the apex of his attempts to rival nature--indeed, artistically speaking,
he eclipsed nature's most picturesque effects when he put out such
beautiful and perfect creations as those which sailed into Trafalgar,
after which he proved his mortality by becoming commonplace; while
nature, the calm and unimpassioned, continued her work of beauty and
devastation unconcerned, permitting him to blot her plains with his
mastless ironclad monstrosities, until her hour of retaliation arrived.

Look at his cities, houses, churches, palaces, and castles in their
newness, and you behold objects on the landscape without which it would
be more complete; nor until Time has laid his artistic touch upon
them--painting them over with delicious grey tones and rusty stains;
dismantling doorways and windows, causing a rent here and a crumbling
there, like arabesque work of an old-world character; putting the same
vividly fantastic faces and figures upon the once smoothly masoned block
that he cuts out on the cliff-face, and so harmonising the uncouth
evenness with the grandly mosaicked boulder; festooning bare and gaunt
spaces with wreaths of ivy, clustering ferns, and gnarled branches, and
generally qualifying the russet shades with fresh patches of moss or
silver glistenings of lichens--do the crumbling castle and deserted
cottage begin to take their places as items in the unity and harmony of
general creation.

But the ships of Nelson's and Collingwood's period Time cannot add to or
improve; their newness and freshness only help the perfection of their
grace and loveliness; from the moment they glided between the greased
slips of the building-yard to the solemn hour when they settled down to
their last repose, they were objects of interest and beauty.

See them riding on the smooth waters and repeating themselves from the
tapering top-masts with the fairy mesh-work of cordage, like a forest of
graceful trees in the winter-time, to their massive hulls, all
gilt-work, colour and ornament, animate with latent strength and active
grace; see them parting the curling billows with the snow-white sails
bellied out, as they rush jocundly on their journey to triumph or to
death, looking like winged angels in the sun-filled air: it was this
appearance of life and joy which raised man at that period from the
imitator to the original creator, and so for the moment lifted him out
of himself, and beyond still nature; there is nothing else resembling a
full-rigged line-of-battle frigate on the surface of the earth.

[Illustration: Ship.of.the.line.1815.]

See them sweeping into battle so stately and confident; the sentiment
of fear or indecision cannot find a lodgment on one of their orderly
yards as they swing round so defiantly; when they advance it is with
calm pride in their conscious power, when they retreat it appears only
as if to test their speed against the sailing powers of their chasers;
in the hour of action how imposingly they gather up the clouds of white
smoke, like the goddess Juno; and when wounded, how grandly they droop
with their broken wings, enduring the buffets of the tempest with
majestic protest, or settling down on the quicksand with the calmness of
martyrs. There is something mean-looking about even St. Paul's or
Westminster Abbey if we compare them with the Alps, but the ship cannot
look contemptible in any position when upon her own element, the ocean.

The earliest vessel on record is the Ark, which was about eighty-eight
feet less in length than our 'Great Eastern,' thirteen feet less in
breadth of deck, and about the same height from keel to deck. History
does not enlighten us as to its exact shape, excepting that it had three
decks, and we are accustomed to depict it with sloping roof and
mastless. Yet at the time it was built the inhabitants of the earth had
advanced to a high state of civilisation and wicked inventions of
violence and luxury, so that we must suppose they went down to the sea
and to war with each other in great ships for Noah to have worked out
this monster on scientific principles, otherwise he could not have
balanced it from theory only. When it first began to float, he would
require a rudder in order to keep it clear of the promontories which
were as yet uncovered; therefore, although it is not mentioned, we
naturally suppose that it was provided with steering gear. That he built
it on the edge of a gopher-wood forest is also a reasonable conjecture,
and on a flat, because of the unnecessary labour which it would have
entailed to drag so much wood up to a mountain-top; therefore, although
the builder and owner had no definite destination, he would require
sails to carry him along past the obstructions, otherwise his steering
gear would have been practically useless, and he would have been wrecked
at the onset of his voyage. Taking all these matters into consideration,
I have come to the conclusion that the ancient Ark was not the clumsy
floating shed generally depicted, but that it sailed away from the land
of the wicked giants to its lonely destination, Mount Ararat, something
after the fashion that I have pictured it, leaving the highly ornamented
but deckless galleys of the doomed races to fill up and scuttle.

Like the building of the tower of Babel, that damp voyage must have had
a demoralising effect upon Noah and his sons, because after landing we
hear no more about ship-building until such times as the merchants of
Tyre and Sidon began to navigate the world. The Egyptians had boats with
masts and sails for river traffic, as we sometimes see depicted on their
monuments and carvings, straight-built, decked boats with slanting prows
and sterns, flat-bottomed, and with square cabins raised up in the
centre of the decks; these were row-boats generally, and used mostly to
carry mummies and mourners to the city of the dead from the living
quarters, and for the transporting of cargo up the Nile. They had no
war-vessels in ancient Egypt, yet some of their pleasure and state
barges, although exceedingly stiff and formal in outline, were richly
decorated and gaily bedizened, as were also their solid square houses
and walls. Cleopatra's barge was a blending of the Greek galley and the
orthodox Nile boat.

Indeed, it is very difficult at the present time to realise the banks of
the Nile in the days of the Pharaohs, when on the one side of the river
lay the palaces of the princes and nobility, and on the other lay the
city of the departed, those vast buildings and high walls, emblazoned
with painted figures of heroic actions, so that we may comprehend why
the artists preferred flat surfaces to ornate walls; the broad steps
leading to the reedy and lily-lined waters, and those gondola-like boats
and gilded barges lying anchored beside every wharf, with the dazzling
sun laving over the flatness of the land, and grateful shadows cast
along every side street or covered mart.

Egypt suited this style of architecture and that description of shipping
exactly; afterwards, when the Greeks came with their rounded hulls,
crowned prows, and general lightness, traders of silks and purple
cloths, the character of the country changed, and incongruities occurred
which required the hardy Romans to correct. When the ornate galleys of
Alexander covered Father Nile, Egypt lost her air of everlasting repose;
but when the shield-lined galleys of Rome swept in, all became right
again--the rightness of the castle which has been dismantled; the paint
on the walls became dingy, the slime encrusted the granite wharf-posts,
and Egypt settled down to her mystical decline.

At the great battle of Salamis, men had learnt to build war-vessels of
great utility. The wily Greeks knew the value of small compact ships
with strong sharp prows and swift-sailing qualities, because they had
become a race of hardy pirates, whereas the voluptuous Persians,
studying pomp and show, as did the Spanish later on, sent out an armada
of mighty ships, great floating castles, which towered over the waves
and were difficult to manage; so the agile Greeks darted in amongst the
ponderous giants, and cut them up as our own sea-hero Drake did with the
Dons. It must have been a fine sight from the hill-top where Xerxes
watched the defeat of his armada, with the combat clear to the view and
unobscured by smoke, those mighty hulls lying helpless on the waves with
their purple sails, and the dauntless Greeks rushing down upon them,
while the blood-red sun went down upon the hapless scene of destruction.

[Illustration: A Viking Boat]

The Romans took their cue from the Greeks, and built small ships,
vessels that walked the waters like centipedes; an ugly but ominous
sight they must have appeared in their snake-like approach upon the
enemy, dangerous in their steady utility when drawing over quiet waters,
but almost useless in a storm.

After this time ships returned greatly to their primitive condition,
and, like the Vikings, sea-rovers went in for small craft, deckless
boats about the size of fishing craft, with easily managed sails; boats
which could be worked quickly in rough or calm weather by a few men.
These were the ships which devastated Europe and taught the
shore-dwellers a lesson in naval warfare.

From the Bayeux Tapestry we are able to form a fair idea of the kind of
craft which William of Normandy used to invade England--small one-masted
boats, holding on an average a dozen men easily, although, I dare say,
on this occasion they would be crammed like herrings in a barrel. An
uncommonly uncomfortable voyage that must have been to the mail-clad
warriors, with their war-steeds to look after in those cramped quarters;
it must have made them doubly resolved to stay in England once they had
reached it.

We see another example in Froissart of vessels of the fourteenth
century, in which they had increased the size of the ships somewhat,
without altering their shape much, but having three masts, instead of
one, with single lateen sails on each. The anchor as we use it now comes
into prominence in these pictures; but, if the men are drawn in
proportion to the size of the ships, exercise was not one of the
benefits of a sea-voyage in the fourteenth century, and one is apt to
sympathise with the Crusaders on their journey to Palestine. To us, who
have gazed ruefully on the stormy waters of Biscay Bay, even from the
lofty deck of a P. and O. packet, the experience has been a sad one; but
such a voyage must have been simply pandemonium to those brave knights
of the Cross in their cockle-shells, trying to look dignified before
their esquires, with the weight of chain-armour added to sea-sickness,
and no space to turn about.

During the time of the Lancasters and Plantagenets times improved a
little with seafarers. We have the long awning-covered oar-galleys,
capable of seating fifty or eighty slaves below, with accommodation for
the passengers above; also properly decked vessels, with forecastles and
stern cabins and deck houses; and shrouds for the use of the seamen when
raising or lowering sails. They still used the single sails on the
masts, and required a number of sailors to work them properly; here also
we find the first appearance of tops where men could be placed for
fighting purposes. At this period the ship as a picturesque object was
beginning to take shape, but it was far from being a 'thing of beauty.'

In the fifteenth century we come upon the 'Henri Grâce à Dieu,' built
for Henry VII., which is the nearest approach to a ship as we understand
it. It is a four-master, with bowsprit, and three yards on each mast,
with main and fore tops, and shrouds reaching up to the caps; a vessel
fairly bristling with guns, and having seven decks to the cabin and
eleven to the top deck of the forecastle. At this time Columbus had
discovered the New World, and men were paying attention to navigation as
a science.

The next advance is the 'Sovereign of the Seas,' built in 1637 for
Charles I.: a three-master, and very nearly perfect in the matter of
symmetry. Between the building of the 'Sovereign' and the 'Grâce à
Dieu' England had made her first bold bid for the supremacy of the seas,
and distinguished herself as a great maritime nation by giving birth to
such heroes as Drake and Frobisher; after this she steadily advanced in
her sea craft. The Armada was won by splendid sailors and very sorry
ships, as far as appearance went; but after this date they improved
until they reached perfection, as we can see in such ships as the 'Royal
William,' 1670, on to the splendid wooden frigates and man-of-war ships
carrying from seventy-four to one hundred and twenty guns, such as the
'Victory,' immortalised by the death of Nelson.

Those grand old days, when the ship and the men she carried were one and
indivisible, are a dream of the past. When we began to sheathe our ships
with iron and reduce our masts and rigging until they became shapeless
monsters, the pride and security of the sailor vanished. The ship is no
longer a portion of himself, it has become a dangerous machine, and he
is only a passenger on board. In olden times, when the ball tore up the
ship's side, the heart of the British seaman bled with her, and while
she waited like a wounded lioness on his aid, and he rushed with his
plugs and oakum to stop the rent or fix up the broken yard or mast, they
were as man and wife; now, like a treacherous monster, the ship goes to
the bottom when hit, and destroys all on board.

[Illustration: Fishing Boats.]

There was give and take in the olden days, like a bout at fists, and
Englishmen appreciated the manly sport; now it is treacherous massacre
and destruction to friend and enemy alike. The ironclad is as much the
enemy of her inhabitants as she is of the rival against whom she wages
war. What pride could the true British tar take in that pitiful siege of
Alexandria, when all he had to do was to batter down a defenceless city
from a safe distance, compared with the sailing into action at
Trafalgar, where it was give and take? While, as for the next great
naval engagement, when ironclad faces ironclad, what chance will they
have for their lives? One sure discharge from the latest invention, and
the doomed vessel will go to the bottom of the sea, like shot-laden and
sewn-up corpses of messmates already 'gone aloft.' It is cowardly
murder, not daring warfare, that we have arrived at in this nineteenth
century of science. It was in the olden days of sailing vessels, when
the seaman controlled every portion and worked lovingly upon every
object of his ship, that the sympathetic affection for each plank grew
upon him, until it became dearer than a landsman's house to him--indeed,
it not infrequently usurped all other ties, and became to him wife and
relations as well as house. As I come myself from a sailor breed, I know
the engrossment well, and can understand the feelings of the captain who
would rather sink with his beloved vessel than abandon her in the dark
hour of danger.

[Illustration: Homeward Bound]

But when ships became propelling machines, they no longer belonged
exclusively to the sailor: he is only husband of the upper decks and now
almost useless yards. The engineer is really the master of the position,
while the sailor has become merely a scullery-maid.

The same may be said about iron ships. What sailor of the grand old
school can take a pride in cold iron or cast steel? Dibdin's songs are a
dead letter here. Indeed, I don't know any modern poet who could wake up
enthusiasm over wrought or cast metal when it is used as a floating
machine. 'Hearts of oak' we can all understand as Englishmen, for the
oak is ours by birthright. But who can grow affectionate over 'plates of
iron'? It is cold and deadly in its passive state, and when damaged it
is beyond repair; it has to be taken back to the smelting factory.

Therefore, thinking upon this subject in an artistic sense, and
regarding the future of great guns, torpedoes, and metal plates from a
humanitarian point of view, while admitting that we have floating
mantraps and murder machines nowadays, I place the limit on
ship-progress as objects of gallantry and perfection at the date when we
introduced steam machinery into them. They then sacrificed their poetic
and artistic characteristics for commercial utility; while, as for their
use as war-machines, that is a doubtful point upon which they have yet
to be tried. One thing we do know, however, and that is--war no longer
depends upon personal bravery; it is entirely a question of scientific
accuracy and mathematical knowledge.

As a painter, I prefer to go back to the wooden walls of England for my
inspirations; to the engagements between the giants and the plucky
pigmies in the glorious fight of 1588, when the pigmies, like the Greeks
at Salamis, knocked the giants into cocked hats; to the battles of the
Nile, St. Vincent, Trafalgar, where each man had to do his duty without
the dread of being blown up to the sky by some underhand torpedoes, or
sent, without a moment for prayers, to the bottom of the sea by some
superior and longer-ranged guns. I like best to think upon the days when
men got heated up by glory, and fought hand-to-hand with their cutlasses
and pikes, swarming over the sides of the grappled enemy with true
British shouts, rather than to picture them standing in silent and grim
order five or ten miles away from the enemy, waiting upon their doom. It
does not seem sailor-like to see them watching like automata on the
effect of each shot; to my mind, as an artist and a warm-blooded
Englishman, it is too cold-blooded for Jack Tar.

We all know, from the original or from reproductions, Turner's picture
of the Last Voyage of the 'Téméraire,' with its stately yet helpless
dignity, compared with the fussy impudence of the long-chimneyed little
tug-steamer which is towing her to her last home; the hoary veteran is
doubly pathetic to me in view of all the _improvements_ which have taken
place in war-ships since that splendid sunset which the great painter
thus depicted: compare the 'Téméraire,' symbol of its kind and age,
with, say, the 'Royal Sovereign' of 1891.

The 'Royal Sovereign,' with her solid smooth sides and back-sloping bows
denuded of bowsprit and jib, with her stunted masts and mean-looking
cordage, is a poor thing by the side of a first-rate man-of-war of any
date up to 1855, with its filmy intricacies of rope-work, yards, and
uppers. Do the waves and the winds claim a unity with the ship now as
they did then? Compare a fleet lying in the roads now with one a
hundred years ago, as depicted on some of the canvases of Loutherbourg,
Stanfield, or Turner, for the best reply to my melancholy question. Even
the Bay of Biscay has been shorn of its grandeur by the introduction of
those great hulks, which cut over its gigantic waves with hardly a
shake. Twenty-five years ago I could appreciate its might from the deck
of an Aberdonian clipper; last time I passed through it and saw its
raging from the saloon deck of a P. and O. steam liner, it would have
looked ridiculous in its mimic wrath only for a passing glimpse I had of
a little brig which it was playing high jinks with, as it tossed it up
and down like a toy boat on a cauldron of boiling water.

I am sorry that we have had, so far, the best of the ocean, because we
have lost a great pleasure when we go to sea--the thrilling excitement
of being in a proper gale. I find it very hard when I now go upon the
ocean to recall the fury of the storms which I have been in during past
years;--that time I rounded Cape Horn, when the ice-charged waves
appeared like mountains and valleys as we looked at them from the deck
of our almost doomed vessel; that time when we were driven from the
shores of Africa almost to within sight of America in one furious
tempest; when the tropical typhoon broke upon us, and our three-master
appeared like a dingey in the trough of those curded waves, while the
lightning blazed and the fire-balls dropped from heaven and went past
our creaking sides like red-hot shot into the seething turmoil. Ah! we
cannot half appreciate the marvels and majesty of the ocean nowadays; it
has become a sycophant to us, and only expends a little bombast for our
benefit, as a relaxation after those superb ocean dinners, while we
smoke our pipes or cigars on deck.

And yet not quite a passive slave is this mighty ocean to us modern
epicures; there still remain the Goodwin Sands, the iron cliffs and the
sunken rocks, to prove that man, in spite of his advancement in
mechanics, is not yet complete master of the situation.

[Illustration: The Storm]

Biscay Bay may look played out as it vainly tries to curl its yeasty
fury over the comfortable decks of the two-wave-long liner, which passes
serenely over the crests with hardly a vibration more than the
propellers give us; but if the screw chances to snap, as I have known
it do in other waters, then what is she?--a huge log battered to death
by the savage fury she has so long defied. Sunken reefs start up at
times when least expected, and then, with one rasp, the ironclad hotel
becomes a death-trap, whereas a wooden ship might have floated.

As for those mysterious, treasure-crammed sands, the Goodwins, like the
poor, they are always with us, and always ready to drown their victims.
Every year they claim their due of sacrifice, from the skittish smack to
the ponderous East Indiaman, from the coast steamer to the heavy
ironclad. Once the ship touches fairly with this siren, there is no
parting; it is a gentle but tenacious embrace, and then come the rending
of hair and the throwing up of arms as the sins of our past rush back
upon us and prepare us for the choking of the remorseless slime.

[Illustration: At Rest.]

And those iron cliffs, that, in the honesty of their rugged rage, break
the masterpieces of man to fragments, they are better than the
treacherous sands, for they do their work quickly, and with the aid of
the angry waves.

There she is, the full-rigged piece of perfection, driving gallantly to
her doom, with her curved bows, glistening sides, and ornamented stern,
and aloft the forest of light wood and lichen-like tracery of cordage,
her sails all furled, like a beautiful woman who has gathered up her
skirts and means recklessly to run on in spite of wind or weather; so
she rises over the crest of the shore-hurrying billow, and looks her
best in that last supreme second of time.

A lurid instant the lightning plays about her perfect symmetry as she
steadfastly gathers herself for the plunge; there is no fear or timidity
about her as she rises for the last time, only the defiance of
desperation; then the clash of doom comes, and she has dissolved like a
spirit in the midst of the dazzling white mist.

[Illustration: FROM BREYDENBACH'S TRAVELS]



CHAPTER VII

_ILLUSTRATIVE ART: PAST AND PRESENT_


[Illustration: I]T is not my purpose, nor is it within my province as an
artist and illustrator, to give the history of illustrative art, with
its rise and development; I leave that side of the subject to such
masters as William Andrew Chatto, Austin Dobson, and David Croal
Thomson, with the other specialists who devote themselves to the
historical as well as the critical qualities of artists, past and
present.

My present intention is to write as a workman about the work he is
constantly engaged upon. I wish to describe the qualities of the
different illustrators as they have impressed and influenced my work,
trusting that in this I have a fair, open, and useful field before me.

I approach the subject with the greatest diffidence, because, when a man
begins to analyse his own particular work, he occupies the peculiar
position of being his own critic, and must either make a sacrifice of
his feelings--i.e. his vanity, and natural desire to cover up his
weaknesses and pose only on his few strong parts,--for, of course, every
man who has had experience must know in his inmost consciousness his
strength and failings (although it may not always be advisable to reveal
the knowledge even to himself, far less to his critical friends),--or
else be ruthless and strip himself bare for the benefit of those coming
after him.

If I were only a critic, I could enter the lists in a jocund spirit and
tilt away right and left as critics mostly do, satisfied that no one
could pierce my armour and place me _hors de combat_; but when a knight
goes to the tournament with armour a little worse designed than many of
the coats of mail he is facing, or, at least, when he is aware of the
sad fact, he does not ride forth so joyfully.

Nevertheless I shall endeavour, as far as possible, to lay aside my
_amour propre_ for the sake of my readers and give them the benefit of
my experience, even although I may be wounded badly while I am doing so.

I take a few of the illustrated books which lie handiest to me at this
moment, and make them the text for my remarks, which, as I have already
said, I intend to make strictly practical rather than historical;
therefore, I shall only touch upon illustrative work in the more
distant past in so far as it may apply to the canons which I have laid
down for myself to follow, and no further.

An illustrated book, to be perfect, ought to have nothing intrusive
about it; no single picture ought to assert itself unduly, and so make
the text with the other illustrations appear mean, washy, or weak. If
the keynote struck is to be rugged strength, let there be no incongruity
of super-refined and delicate lines; let the text be bold and assertive
enough to suit the quality of the illustrations from the title-page to
the end, so that the reader's eye may get accustomed at once to take a
distant view of the whole, and not have to push the book back from him
to arm's length on the one page, and bring it close to his eyes at the
next. Books are like pictures, or ought to be--either gallery works, or
produced for the cabinet; either to be admired from the distance, or
else examined with a microscopic lens.

[Illustration: ST. CHRISTOPHER]

A coarsely painted picture requires a strongly designed frame; a book
with coarse or strong effects in its illustrations also requires a
strong text, deep head-lines, massive headings and title-page, and
ornate binding; and to see the full beauty of this, and how perfect is
the harmony of the lettering and edge-lines, I can only refer my readers
to one of the earliest of wood engravings--the 'St. Christopher,' dated
1423 (original in the possession of Earl Spencer).[14] This seems to me
a very perfect specimen of what ought to be, in quality and just
balance. The drawing is in outline, massive and decided all through,
without a single unnecessary line; the descriptive lettering is
black-letter with broad band round it. In its present position, in the
centre of the modern text, it suggests two ideas--either that it is too
coarse for its present surroundings, or else that the text is too fine;
therefore, to be seen to proper advantage it ought to be enclosed in a
black-letter text. Contrast this as to general harmony with the two
_reduced_ copies of outline work on page 72 in the same work; here the
illustrations, although bold in the original, by reason of the
reduction, have been brought more into unity with the modern type. You
can see both pictures and text in the first glance without any extra
effort, whereas in the 'St. Christopher' page, the picture intrudes
itself, and almost requires to be covered before the reader can enjoy or
settle down to the text. Of course, in a work of this kind, where
different specimens of engraving must be shown, the authors have no
choice in the matter, and perfect unity cannot be studied.[15]

[Illustration: HISTORY OF THE VIRGIN MARY]

Looking over these old engravings, one cannot help being struck, not
only with the boldness and decision of the technique, but also with the
consummate restraint and knowledge of effect displayed by the worker.
Perhaps amongst our modern living men Walter Crane is the only artist
who exhibits a similar courage and grasp of the essentials. (See his
'Queen Summer,' published by Cassell & Co., for some of the best and
most characteristic work he has yet given to the public in book form.)

The next stage in illustrative art which we have to mention is where
cross-hatching has been introduced, to give depth and richness to the
shadows. The earliest style of work shows only outlines, which are in
many cases to be preferred to more elaborate work, particularly when
inserted with the text; after this, shadows are suggested by single
lines, as in the specimens which I have quoted.

Cross-hatching appears to have been used first in the year 1486, in a
frontispiece to the Latin edition of 'Breydenbach's Travels,' which was
printed at Mentz by Erhard Reuwich. The name of the artist is not
known--a sample of modesty characteristic of the early inventors; for
the work upon this plate is as beautiful and elaborate as it is unique
at this early date. With the introduction of cross-hatching, used at
first directly, horizontally and perpendicularly, we get the _feeling_
of colour and tone in illustrative work which are its most pronounced
features at the present day. In this we have advanced, and are still
advancing, day by day to a perfection of feebleness, with lack of
distinctive character and force. In outline drawing we have not improved
since the close of the fifteenth century--to wit, the Poliphili of 1499,
where the lines are perfectly modulated to suggest light edges and
shadows.

[Illustration: ALBERT DÜRER'S APOCALYPSE]

We next come to the beautiful work of Albert Dürer, where he uses the
cross-hatching diagonally, as it is executed at the present day, with
broken lines and dots, where such were required. In fact, this rare
artist seems to have had all the tricks of the trade at his command, and
to have paused at no device in order to gain his effect. I shall not
describe any of his work here, as it is sufficiently well known, with
the influence it brought to bear upon illustrative art generally.

When taking up the practical side of an art, it is only a waste of time
to enumerate all the different workers who may have left their own
particular, if not always very prominent, marks in the pages of its
history. I would rather call attention, in the short space at my
disposal, to the men identified with the different great epochs, such as
the unknown outline workers, the men who aimed at tone and colour,
dating distinctly from the time of Albert Dürer; the distinctive
chiaro-oscuro workers, amongst whom I would exemplify Rembrandt; the
purely tone artists such as Turner, the grotesque in Hogarth and
Cruikshank; and next take our modern men who carry on the art at the
present day, and exemplify a few such prominent workers as Small,
Parsons, Barnard, and Abbey, although the army of first-class
illustrators is so large at the present day that it becomes a difficult
and ungracious task for me to mention names at all.

The different stages of progression in illustrative art may be broadly
defined after this fashion: the time when artists drew directly on the
wood with pencil or pen only, and engravers followed their hard lines;
the date when bold effects with Indian ink and Chinese white were
introduced, and engravers were permitted to use their own lines, and so
became liberated from the trammels, and could first lay claim to being
original artists, as well as the men who drew the designs which they
cut; the last and most satisfactory stage, when photography stepped in
and became the umpire between artist and engraver.

In the first stage the engraver was a mechanic pure and simple, unless
he drew his own design, or could take the liberty of improving upon the
artist's lines. If, however, it was an experienced artist, the engraver
simply copied, and did not trouble himself to think much, so long as he
got his lines out clean. In the second stage, when he had wash drawings
on the block, there was seldom any appeal from the artist; he had, it is
true, the option of lightening up his picture on the proof and saving
his reputation somewhat by making a few bold and hard lights where his
other effect had been lost; but this was all that was left to him,
because _his original drawing_ had been cut up.

[Illustration: BY CHRISTOPHER JEGHER, AFTER RUBENS]

Now the original drawing is seldom destroyed; it stands to the bitter
end, and settles any disputes between engraver and artist, because the
engraver works only upon a photograph from the original sketch, and has
it all along beside him to work from as a copy as well as to confute him
if he is a bungler, which is a right and proper state of things; for now
the indifferent artist cannot flatter himself or steal the reputation of
the skilful engraver, and the unqualified engraver cannot lay his faults
on the shoulders of the artist; each tub must stand upon its own bottom.

After Albert Dürer, with his delicacy and finish, as well as
spirituality and suggestiveness, we come to Rembrandt as the most
perfect master of chiaro-oscuro that the world has produced. At the
present day we cannot hope to surpass him; we are satisfied if we
approach somewhat near to his matchless gradations, depth of shadow, and
lustre.

There was considerably over a century between these two influences; but
it was a progressive century, as the numerous book-plates throughout
Europe can show. The school of Dürer gave the illustrator the first real
hint about colour; Rembrandt showed how much power may be had out of a
flat surface.

From Rembrandt to Bewick the merits of the different book plates vary.
Nature, however, did not occupy much room in their calculations. Bewick
was, perhaps, our first great realist, for all his studies were drawn
uncompromisingly from the object itself. Before his advent the
illustrators, like the novelists, were content to interest their
audience; but after Bewick it was found necessary to study accuracy as
well as sentiment and effect, and this we continue and try to improve
upon at the present day.

Hogarth, as an illustrator, gave a turn to art which it had not before.
It is always a pleasant thought to me, as a native of Britain, that,
while looking towards Germany and Holland for our early inspiration in
illustrative art, we must return to our own shores once again for its
revival, to Hogarth, Bewick, and Turner, with Constable (as a painter),
for the apostles of that realism, suggestiveness, and satire with which
the other nations now strive to lead off. As in literature, so in art,
we were the original creators of those styles, to acquire which our
students now go to France and Belgium.

Shakespeare made Goethe, Schiller, Hugo, and Zola. Constable and Turner
created the modern French school of Impressionists; Bewick the realistic
draughtsmen; Hogarth the satirists of the pencil. We may be a heavy
nation and apt to take a joke sadly, yet we have had our humourists also
who have been appreciated by other nations as well as by their own, and
perhaps a little more so.

Amongst modern men--that is, comparatively modern men--who have had a
great influence in book pictures, I would mention, in landscape art,
Turner as the first; in caricature, Cruikshank; and in general force of
black and white, Doré. These three, I think, I may safely place as
having the greatest influence in their different walks.

Turner I now quote as the most imitated painter and illustrator that
ever lived, which is about the surest test of his individuality that can
be given. Individualism as well as mannerism, alas! for the main body of
the imitators could pick up only the mannerisms, without getting one
touch of the genius which made him great--those bald sunlight effects
which somehow remind us after a grotesque and wearisome fashion of the
master whom they have vainly attempted to follow. How often have we
taken up a volume of steel engravings in the half light, thinking that
we had found a collection of Turner's works, until we brought them to
the light and realised our mistake at one stunning instant! The
invention and poetry were totally lacking, the effect dry and empty, and
the design meaningless.

Ruskin is quite right to go into raptures over the great genius of
Turner, and in this he shows his own perception of true poetic power,
inasmuch as he makes a mistake in overestimating Creswick's
black-and-white work; but that he should close his eyes to the glaring
faults of Turner, or rather, that he should call these faults virtues,
is simply reducing the weight of his critical influence until it is not
worth using. If he _will_ hold up for praise blemishes which even the
most ignorant can see for themselves, how is it possible for them to set
him up for a guide in matters which lie beyond their knowledge?

The tree work in most of Turner's illustrations and pictures is not
drawn from nature, and the trees have no natural characteristic about
them--in fact, they are monstrosities in the vegetable sense, and no
preacher in the world, no matter how eloquently he may discourse, would
be able to convince a gardener that these are the correct sort of trees
for these landscapes, or that the pictures would not have been improved
by properly-drawn trees in place of these unnatural monstrosities; and,
like the realistic gardener, I must also say that Mr. Ruskin could never
convince me that a single breath of the poetry would have been lost had
Turner drawn real instead of imaginary trees.

His ships are not the kind of craft which practical seamen would care to
venture beyond the harbour-bar in, if they even cared to risk their
lives so far to sea, although they may look very nice and picturesque to
a landsman's eye. Stanfield was a much more correct painter of ships,
in spite of all that Mr. Ruskin may have written to the contrary, as any
sailor could tell him; and, therefore, I contend that the drawings and
paintings of Turner would not have lost any of their poetic charm even
although he had tried a little more to please the sailors, and given to
them ships in which they might have been able to sail and fight.

At times, also, in spite of his exquisite drawing, his architectural
work is not beyond reproach, and may be pecked at by a very immature and
even budding professor of that exact science; yet in this department his
faults are trivial compared to his frailties in other departments.

The shapeless dolls which he introduced and so often crowded into his
compositions (with a few exceptions) are simply atrocious, and would not
have been tolerated from an inferior artist. In his illustrative work he
is seen at his very worst in this respect; witness most of the plates in
Moore's 'Epicurean,' the 'Rivers of France' series, &c.

But in his effects he stands unapproachable,--in his dreamy delicacy and
subtlety, his skies and water and aerial perspective,--in his
suggestiveness, multiplicity of detail and complete unity of the many
parts in one harmonious whole: the colour with which his
black-and-whites are invested is so thorough that any artist can define
each tint with which he would have coloured his black-and-whites, or
what he used in the sketches from which so many of his illustrations
were made.

For these great qualities Mr. Ruskin could not indeed praise him too
extravagantly, for these raised him leagues above any other landscapist,
before or after him, and might well excuse any other faults in detail;
but for all that, no critic has a right to extol in one artist what he
would justly condemn in any other.

His direct influence on illustrative art made a distinct epoch in this
branch. Artists no longer stuck to the hard-and-fast laws which had
curtailed them before; they became suggestive and poetic, and no longer
confined themselves to the stationary effects of mid-day, when objects
are seen photographically, but gave their pictures the atmosphere which
they so often lacked before. Turner is the father of the suggestive and
impressionist schools, and perhaps one of the ablest of his modern
disciples is Alfred Parsons, an artist who has had the genius to pick
out the best of his master without taking any of his faults; he has
imbibed the poetry and discarded the extravagance, and never in his most
dreamy effect does he lose his grip of nature. For the truth of my
remarks I would ask you to study two illustrations which lie handy to me
at this moment, where the effects are somewhat similar: the 'Rouen'
(from the Seine) by J. M. W. Turner; and 'Still Glides the Stream and
Shall for Ever Glide' (the River Duddon), by Alfred Parsons, which was
engraved in Vol. 75 of 'Harper's Magazine.'

I would now select a few of the illustrations from the most modern of
our artists and books to show how these lessons of Turner have been
utilised in the best sense at the present day, along with that rigid
adherence to nature which is one of the most prominent characteristics
of the nineteenth century, an exactitude for which we as artists are
indebted to the revelations of photography perhaps more than to any
advance in our own personal knowledge of nature, for I dare say the
artists of past times looked as lovingly and as keenly at nature as we
do to-day, only that they had no realistic camera to put them right in
their impressions, as we now have.

We know from the camera how a lightning-flash really looks, what a horse
is like when at full speed, the different actions of a bird's wing when
flying, the true shape of each wave in a storm, also the swing of
drapery in a high wind, and how men and women really appear when
excited; for before the days of instantaneous photography the painter
was apt to be deceived, and take as one several motions and effects.

When speaking of the direct influence of a great inventive genius like
Turner's or Constable's, I may point to works which do not bear the
smallest resemblance to their style and mannerisms; for instance, I may
point out a piece of work marked by all the characteristics of the
modern Flemish or French schools, or I may point to the work of a
figure-painter, and quote him as a conscious or unconscious follower of
Turner or Constable. It is very likely that the artist has gone to
France or Holland for his own art finish; nevertheless, those schools
which gave him his finish borrowed their own manipulative qualities from
either or both these rival painters.

In the new illustrated edition of 'Lorna Doone'--that masterpiece of
Blackmore's--I notice nine or ten Devonshire landscapes which are more
distinctly Turneresque than many of the modern books exhibit. They are
drawn as a rule with fidelity to nature, and engraved with sympathetic
tenderness, perhaps in some cases too tenderly and over-finished for the
purpose and effect. The most imitative and to me the least satisfactory
effect is 'Watchet on a Regatta Day'; the best, as far as sky-work is
concerned, is 'Dunkerry Beacon Fire.'

In this same volume W. Small exhibits his powers at their full strength
in his colossal figures, startling effects, rich shadows, and tender
backgrounds; the last picture of all simply swims in the colour and
lustre of mid-day.

C. W. Wyllie is another free and faithful worker who has had the best of
Turner and Constable measured out to him in a French fashion, as most of
our modern English work is fashioned. Davidson Knowles displays this
also in his dreamy suggestive work; William Hatherell, too; with a host
of others whom I cannot mention for want of space.

The modern tone or wash work, as exhibited in the 'American Magazine,'
'The Century,' 'Harper's,' 'Scribner's,' and in 'The Magazine of Art,'
shows the effect of Turner more and more every day. Fortunately the hard
and laborious reign of steel engraving is over; as, I think, nothing can
be more unsuitable to book illustrations than steel engraving, and
nothing more suitable than a first-class woodcut, when carefully mounted
and clearly printed. The steel is always hard and metallic, whereas the
wood gives all the tone and colour of the drawing; and now that we have
the numerous process inventions to reproduce pen-and-ink drawings, and
so give all the characteristics of the artist, it becomes only a waste
of time and money to employ an engraver of any talent to produce any
other kind of work except tone drawing; and as for the indifferent
workmanship which might have satisfied the public before the advent of
such magazines and papers as 'The Graphic,' 'Black and White,' 'The
English Illustrated Magazine,' 'The Magazine of Art,' with the American
works already mentioned, and others of the same class, the less
expensive process work, such as I generally use in my own books, is
infinitely to be preferred.

In speaking of George Cruikshank as an illustrator, I do not refer to
his qualities as a caricaturist, as those are sufficiently well known
from the numerous works he has left behind him, and of which some of the
finest specimens may be possessed for a few shillings by anyone so
desirous, in the re-issue of his 'Comic Almanack' published by Chatto &
Windus, where in the two bulky volumes may be had this artist's best
work during the best eighteen years of his art life.

It is his delicate outline and etching qualities that I would call
attention to, which have influenced the pen-and-ink workers of the
present day. Most of his designs were done on copper, but in a few cases
he worked for the engravers, and these do not show up so satisfactorily.
Indeed, although I believe it to be a law with 'Punch's' proprietors to
have all their pen-work engraved on wood, and thus keep to the old
traditions; artistically speaking, I think they are wrong, and suffer
accordingly, now that zincography is able to give the artist's work line
for line, with less of his delicate work lost and none of his
characteristics destroyed, as must be the case in many instances, even
with the finest wood-engraver. Indeed, I would rather have some of the
best work as given sometimes in 'Ally Sloper's Half Holiday' and
'Pick-me-up,' pure and simple as it is, than I would have the
wood-engraving imitations of pen-work in our national comic leader,
'Punch.'

'Punch,' as a high-class paper, appeals to a certain and select order of
readers, but in the sense that Cruikshank was comic it is not at all
funny. 'Ally Sloper' is the only paper of the present day to whom the
peculiar genius of the old caricaturists has descended; his Hogarthian
satire and Rabelaisian humour is, in this much-illustrated weekly paper,
reproduced in modernised costume and surroundings. Parisian nattiness
and smartness blend with the broad buffoonery with which Cruikshank
delighted his audience of the past generation. We are not so simple in
our tastes (more is the pity); therefore, instead of the horseplay of
the clown and harlequin, we have Tootsie Sloper and her erratic but
impecunious and disreputable parent, with her own Frivolity friends to
disport themselves through the pages; yet, inasmuch as 'The Comic
Almanack' faithfully held up, in its own particularly good-natured way,
the weaknesses and follies of the day in which it was produced, so does
this happy-go-lucky paper exhibit the froth of ours.

Ally Sloper is a distinct creation, as I may say also the Elder McNab
is; and as the first hits off the shady cockney, so, as a Scotchman, I
must own to the grotesque fidelity of the latter. For the past twenty
years I have watched the natural progress of the old humbug, Ally, and
at the present day can read about his ever-varied doings with
undiminished pleasure. To continue such a character without wearying old
readers for twenty years is, to me, the surest test of his vitality.

Like Rembrandt, Cruikshank's correctness of drawing might be objected
to, yet, like that other great master of the needle, no one could
surpass him in his knowledge of chiaro-oscuro and balancing of parts;
but it is in the subtlety of his lines, and the expression which he was
able to give with the least labour, that he stands unapproachable. At
the present day those who admire the dexterity with which Mr. Harry
Furniss can cram in multitudes of characters into his cartoons for
'Punch,' may only look at one of the crowded scenes on a small scale,
such as 'Lord Mayor's Day' in Cruikshank's 'Comic Almanack,' to see
where the inspiration comes from.

Before the revolution which photography caused in illustrative art, that
wonderful native of Strasburg, Gustave Doré, burst upon the art world
like a flaming meteor, and gave quite a turn to artists and engravers.
Before his coming, draughtsmen had worked on a white ground with a thin
first wash, afterwards hatching up the details with a four or six H
pencil; but Doré, in his frantic hurry to produce his exuberant fancies,
discarded all these slow methods, and used a black ground with a few
dashes of light and half-tone to express himself, as in some of his
Inferno scenes, or a thin wash of light grey and some lighter touches,
as in his Paradise pictures.

For example, 'The Vision of Death,' for flimsy yet immensely clever
touches of half-light and high-light on a jet-black block: here the
figure of Death with his scythe sits astride a reinless horse, with
figures of dragons, angels, and demons coming after him like vultures on
the wing.

This is one of the most effortless yet best balanced pictures in his
collection. As Doré worked, I should say he produced this conception in
about half an hour, if not less. The figures are rushing along pell-mell
amongst dark rolling clouds, and the artist has been in a similar hurry.
It is extravagant and theatrical, as all his work was, and sketchy in
the extreme: but it is about as good a sample as I can call attention to
for this description of art.

Doré's system was an extremely simple one, and straightforward. He fixed
on a single light, and set to gathering as much shadow about it as
possible,--a broad light, in which he placed as many of his characters
as he could cram,--and then set to fill out the shadows with as much
detail as he could cram into them; for a sample of this, see his 'The
Prince in the Banqueting Hall' (I quote from Cassell's Doré Gallery),
'The Mouth of Hell,' 'The Gathering of the Waters,' &c. &c. The
composition is of the same naïve character throughout most of his weird
and fantastic conceptions.

The workmanship, compared with the artistic work of to-day, is
atrociously coarse and unsatisfactory, although it suited his original
and fevered genius as no other style of work could have done. He flung
out his imaginings with a lavish hand, after the manner in which Rubens
painted many of his pictures, and he could not wait to finish off; yet,
take him all in all, he gave an impulse to book-plate work such as no
other illustrator had given before him, and made the workers coming
after him more courageous and less afraid of their masses.

In his Francesca groups, however, we have not this reproach to make
against him, and as for the drawing from which his masterpiece was
painted, or which was drawn from his picture, we can only stand and
admire. This is a perfect poem, and lifts his pencil from the ruck of
his other wreckage as much as the few exquisite lines which relate that
romantic episode rise out of the dreary monotony and catalogue of woes
which the Italian poet Dante treats us to in his faulty Inferno.

This Doré Gallery is not the book I would recommend a young artist to
have beside him as a guide unless he has been cramping his hand and mind
over such examples as Bewick; yet to anyone getting too finicky in his
work a brief study of Doré will do the same good that a short course of
scene-painting will do the landscape-painter; it will set him free, and
give him a little more 'go.' In such pictures as 'Samson destroying the
Philistines' he will learn how to make a vast crowd on a small scale as
well as, if not better than, from any other source.

Doré worked always at a furious pace and without much meditation; his
memory was so retentive that he could reproduce, or rather translate,
whatever he once looked upon. I believe he took no notes or sketches,
but trusted to his wonderful memory entirely. I have been told that he
went through Spain when preparing for his 'Don Quixote' at express
speed; that he painted his 'Christian Martyr' picture in six hours, and
did not retouch it. Salvator Rosa did the same with his work, painted a
picture between daylight and dark, and composed a poem when the lamps
were lit.

Doré could not paint directly from the model or from nature, as all true
artists ought to do, or else _force themselves_ to do. A student of mine
was once sketching outside when Doré came upon him and asked to have a
try at his sketch. My pupil was working in oil at the time, and, in
about five minutes after Doré had taken the brushes in his hand, he
returned them (with the oil and turpentine running down the handles, and
the canvas in a hopeless mess) with an impatient groan. When a boy I met
him once in London and raised him to the seventh heaven of delight by my
enthusiasm over his 'Christ leaving the Prætorium.' Doré never ceased
being a boy; but he was a very extravagant youngster.

What an overpowering crowd of lions he gives us in his 'Strange Nations
slain by the Lions of Samaria'! There were enough in that circumscribed
space to demolish an empire, almost as many lions as the 'Daily Graphic'
correspondent, the daring 'Randolph,' encountered during his late trip
to Africa: 'The glade appeared to be alive with them.'

Doré drew directly on the wood, as did all artists of his time, and as I
also did when I commenced illustrative work, and by his example taught
us brush-work instead of laborious pencil-work--_i.e._ we _painted_ our
subject, with perhaps the exception of a few finishing touches with a
fine brush, on to the block, choosing a light or dark tone for the
groundwork, as the subject required; and the less we did in the way of
finish, or rather pencil strokes, the better the engraver liked our work
and the better he worked himself. It is eighteen years ago since I did
my last drawing directly on the wood, and I for one was not sorry when
photography did this part of the work for me, for after that I could
work as I had been accustomed to do with my sketches, on paper and
cardboard.

To Mr. Bolton is due the honour of being the inventor of printing by
photography on to the wood, and this invention of his gave the biggest
push forward to book-work that it ever had.

Formerly when an artist had to paint his subject on the block, he was
forced to hold his brush and not lay on too much colour, or else the
engraver could not cut through his crust of Chinese white without danger
of taking off large scales. He had also to be careful not to wet the
block too much, as that would spoil it. The block sucked in the moisture
like blotting paper if he painted thinly; so that this, with a hundred
other troubles, curbed his dash very seriously.

Now we can pile on the paint as much as ever we like to get up our
effect, and leave adroit brush marks all over our original. The good
engraver likes the bold dash and characteristic brush-work of the
painter, and I must say he imitates it with rare skill and sympathy. The
photographic print on his block reproduces all these eccentricities of
the artist, and gives the appearance of the lumpy lights without
troubling the engraver to cut through any crust, for the film on the
block is infinitesimal in thickness. He works away at that film without
any unnecessary vexation, with the double advantage of having the
artist's sketch before him to study from as he goes along; the result of
all this being that the public have the opportunity of comparing the
artist's original work with the engravings, when they are shown in
exhibitions; and also the benefit of purchasing the original sketches
for their smoking-rooms or libraries; while the publisher or artist has
the decided advantage of being able to get some more money for the
designs, instead of having them totally destroyed by the engraver's
chisel--a boon all round which we owe to Mr. Bolton and his timely
invention.

I have often been asked how a book ought to be illustrated, and I wish
now to answer that question to the best of my artistic ability.

When a tradesman, a plumber for instance, is asked by a foolish
proprietor how many pipes he ought to lay on to his new property, it
would not be unnatural if even the honestest of that mysterious craft
were to reply, 'As many as you can afford, sir; the more the better!'

Perhaps I ought to go on that safe rule also; but as a foolish artist,
with a rigid sense of propriety, I must sink my own interest and regard
the book only as something outside myself.

My opinion is, that if a book is to be illustrated with more than a
frontispiece and vignette, it ought to be illustrated thoroughly
throughout. It ought to be an _édition de luxe_, or else a book with
only a frontispiece and vignette.

I think that every book bound in cloth ought to have a frontispiece at
least; if possible, also a vignette for the title-page. When I publish a
book I always try to persuade my publishers to go to this expense.

If it is a novel of a sensational or exciting nature it does not require
any more. The tasteful reader, when he takes up a book, likes to be
introduced to it with a well-drawn, finely-executed frontispiece; he
naturally looks at that first because it opens first to him.

He lingers for a space over that frontispiece, and is either attracted
or repelled by it. If it is a bald, commonplace group of figures,
without action or sentiment, something that he is in the habit of seeing
on every hand, if he is artistic or romantic he will be indebted to that
frontispiece; for, taking that as an index to the character of the work,
if he does not want commonplace, he will lay it down respectfully and
seek out some other amusement.

If the frontispiece has been drawn by a sympathetic artist, the interest
of the reader is touched straight off and he turns next to the
title-page.

Here he may find something to linger over, a dreamy vignette _à la_
Turner, or an artistic commonplace which may suit his purpose. I prefer,
as a book collector and a member of the Ex-Libris Society, a vignette
either quaint and unique, or else one dreamy, soft, and suggestive,
something of the style of the best editions of Sir Walter Scott, or of
the old world of art, such as Walter Crane can give us, or a delicious
Birket Foster, a Turner, or a Bewick; something which will tempt us,
providing the binding is good enough, to paste our book-plate inside
the cover and put it tenderly among the other kind friends of our
solitude on our shelves, _after_ we have read it--something, in fact,
which may tempt us to order from the publishers a special copy bound in
morocco, so that we may honour the artist who has delighted our eyes, as
Esther did Ahasuerus.

As a good man who has gained an audience by a favourable introduction I
would leave the author to do the rest. When once the reader has started
on the story, he (the reader) does not feel grateful for any
distraction. If the book is worth reading he wants to get right on with
it without any interruption; if, however, it fails to interest him, he
will lay it down after a few chapters and most likely send it on to some
friend, or lend it out, or bestow it upon some charitable institution,
or sell it with other works of the same kind to a second-hand
bookseller.

In a scientific work or a book treating on special subjects which
strictly require illustrations, so that the reader and author may be _en
rapport_, the illustrations may be few or many as the text requires.
This may be left to the author and the publisher entirely, because the
reader lays aside his artistic sense of unity for the sake of the
information he requires.

A properly illustrated book should be illustrated on every page. My
ideal of such a book is to have to every chapter a head and tail piece,
with marginal designs, running up and down wherever the text appears, in
pen-and-ink or etching, for I hold that only outline drawing can
harmonise with type as highly ornamental as possible. No tone-drawing
should ever be introduced where type appears; but each chapter or poem
ought to be separated by a full-page plate in tone, wood-engraving if
possible, or the best process tone-work.

As much attention should be paid to the index and fly-leaves as to the
other portions, whilst the binding should be in perfect harmony.

So the _édition de luxe_ will be looked at and admired with the
respectful care shown to a lady at a ball, while the book with
frontispiece and vignette will be fondled over as affectionate husbands
ought to fondle their well-dressed, but not over-dressed, wives.

[Illustration: A PANEL OF BLACK AND GOLD]



CHAPTER VIII

_ART IN MINOR DIRECTIONS_


THE ART OF GRAINING

[Illustration: C]HARLES READE, in one of his smart romances, makes his
Bohemian hero learn the art of graining in an _hour or two_,
sufficiently well to be able to go about the country and make a good
living by giving lessons to and painting show panels for the master
painters.

This lively novelist, with his customary happy Hibernian manner of
jumping at conclusions, reveals his own ignorance of the subject he had
taken up, by giving the reader minute details as to the way his hero
worked. Thus, he landed at a country shop, had a panel planed and
prepared, and grained it _the same day_, getting his cash and the
admiration of the country house-painter, and striking another village or
town the next day.

I do not know who gave Charles Reade this information, but that it was
the most wanton nonsense any apprentice in the trade might have proved
to him in five minutes; indeed, if he had used his own eyes when the
painters were working in any of his residences, he must have seen that
the feat was impossible, even for the smartest hero of his collection.
Ergo, Charles Reade, on this particular occasion, sat down to write
about a matter of which he knew nothing whatever, however much he may
have probed into other subjects.

Let me explain how far he erred, for the benefit of those outside the
trade.

A panel, which is intended to be a show panel, or indeed, any panel,
when it leaves the joiner's hands planed and dressed, has to undergo the
following preparation before it can be grained.

It first gets what is called the _priming_--i.e. a thin coat of lead,
oil, and turpentine with drier, which will take, in warm weather, a full
day and night before it is in a condition for the second stage. In
winter weather it may take two or more days.

If any knots are in the wood, these have to be coated with a preparation
called _knotting_ before even this priming is put on, which makes the
delay longer.

When the first coat or priming is dry or hard enough to stand being
sand-papered, it is then made smooth by this process, the holes are
filled up with putty, and the second coat, a mixture of white lead
tinted to the colour of the intended graining-ground, and used a little
thicker than the priming, is laid on and allowed to dry thoroughly,
fifteen or twenty-four hours being the shortest space of time for this
second stage before it is ready for the third.

Again, when hard enough it is sand-papered and reputtied, and then it
gets the third coat. In cheap jobs this might be the graining-ground,
but in the case of a show panel, a fourth coat would be required, or
perhaps a fifth, before that panel would be ready for the grainer; thus
four to six or eight days would be the time wanted before that panel was
ready to operate upon.

The panel being ready, the grainer would commence with his imitation;
the first day he would grain, if oak, with oil graining; if soft woods,
he would use distemper colour, which would be thinly varnished over, and
so require at least another day to dry.

The next day would be devoted to over-graining with distemper and
varnishing. Thus that panel would take the smartest workman from six to
ten days from the hour it was planed until it was finished, as any
practical reader will bear me out in saying.

There is a legend related about one of Murillo's pictures, the 'Virgin
and Child,' of the same description, and with about as much probability.

It is related that once upon a time Murillo had been well entertained by
an abbot, and in returning his thanks for the hospitality received, he
expressed his regret that he had no canvas with him, otherwise he would
have repaid the kindness with a picture. The abbot at once presented the
painter with his own table-napkin, and told him to use that, which
Murillo did, producing in the same day a picture which for richness and
effect he never himself surpassed.

I will not say that Murillo did not use that napkin as a canvas: I only
assert positively that he never painted that picture upon it the same
day, for the simple reason that it would have to be primed, either with
distemper or oil, and receive several coatings, each coat requiring to
dry, be smoothed down, and recoated before ever he started painting,
even if a stretcher was not made for it. He may have painted the picture
in one day after the napkin had been prepared, but I venture to say,
without fear of contradiction from any practical artist-colourman, that
Murillo was the guest of that hospitable abbot for several days after
the napkin had been presented to him.

Although that autocrat of art, John Ruskin, has declared vehemently
against the imitation of woods and marbles as an art, yet as a protest
against his hasty and unprofessional verdict, and as one who has spent
years in acquiring the art and teaching it afterwards to my
house-painter students, I now take up this subject as a very important
one, and will try, as far as a practical teacher can put them upon
paper, to give a few of my own methods in this branch of art, for the
sake of those whom it may concern.

Let me suppose that my readers are students and young house-painters or
amateurs, who have not had the opportunity of getting instruction in
this highest branch of their trade. I suppose, however, that they know
enough of the preliminaries to be able to prime and prepare their
panels, and have made them all ready for the purpose of trying to grain
upon them.


THE ART OF OAK IMITATION--OAK GRAINING

We will take oak first, as it is the most generally used in the
business, as well as one of the hardest to master, although as an
imitation it is more mechanical and less truly artistic than any of the
other imitations.

The ground required for oak is buff colour, either light or dark,
according as the age of the wood is intended to be represented. To make
this light tint, a little yellow ochre, with white lead, drier, oil, and
turpentine, are all that are required; while if it is very new wood, the
ground should be the colour of rich cream; if old oak, the ground colour
can be darkened according to taste with Roman ochre, light red, and
burnt umber.

One precaution must be strictly observed if the grainer wishes to
produce clean work, and that is, to be sure that his ground is perfectly
firm and dry before he begins, so that this ground is not likely to be
torn or rubbed off with the combing or veining. I like a ground to be
dry but not too hard or oily, as when dry, but soft, it will produce
more feeling work, particularly if the grainer is using the most useful
of all his tools, the thumb-nail.

A grainer's thumb, like a miller's, has a great deal to do with the
making of sham oak; therefore you may easily distinguish a professional
oak-grainer by the length, strength, and tender care which he lavishes
on his thumb-nail. It ought for this purpose to be kept long, and
carefully rounded and smoothed.

The tools required for this work are a box of assorted combs, two or
three pieces of soft cork cut with notches, plenty of soft cotton or
linen rags, and that properly trimmed thumb-nail. He will also require
for oak-over-graining the same brushes which he uses in the soft woods;
camel-hair softeners, grainers and over-grainers, with wipers-out and
sash-tools, &c.

The next thing he will make up is his scumble. This is composed of burnt
umber, yellow ochre, drier, boiled oil, a little beat-up putty or
whiting, and a small quantity of water. By mixing all this up together
you produce something like a stained megilp, and may thin it with oil
and water as you go on. A little of this goes a long way, as it has to
be spread over very sparingly and equally.

Get a good specimen of real oak, well coursed with _champs_ or 'veins,'
and set it up before you where the light will fall best upon it; then,
after rubbing down your grounded panel with fine sandpaper, and dusting
it carefully, you will put a little 'scumble' upon it with your
sash-tool, and spread that over equally and thinly with a larger brush
until the panel is covered. Take your largest toothed comb, and trail it
steadily down the panel from top to bottom, wiping the comb carefully
after every passage. It is better to trail the large comb in straight
lines, and afterwards use the smaller or finer toothed combs with a
shake to produce wavy lines. When you have passed the combs over the
panel in this way, first the coarse comb straight, next the medium size
with a wave, and lastly, in portions, the finest size comb, your panel
is ready for the artistic portion of the work.

Combing does not take long to learn if the worker is cleanly in his
habits, but to make a natural and pleasing variety in 'champing' or
veining takes a great deal of practice; indeed, unless the worker has
artistic gifts, he will never be able to master this part of the work
perfectly.

A young grainer ought to keep a sketch-book always in his pocket, and
wherever he sees a fine bit of work, make a careful drawing with his
pencil of it; he will thus be able to get variety in the markings of his
wood. He ought also to practise constantly when he is at home on a panel
with his thumb-nail at _rat tails_, so as to get dexterity and grace,
because there is a vast amount of freehand drawing required in this
portion of the work.

The first thing he has to study is the composition of that panel; the
large markings come first. Here he may linger tenderly for a time with
his rag-covered nail wiping out square, oblong, and round patches, and
softening and half cleaning out parts with his narrowest and finest
toothed comb, also rag-covered. At this portion of the work the true
artist comes in with his manipulations, like the manipulations of the
etching printer with his ink on the plate; and I am positive that if
John Ruskin had but tried to copy a piece of real oak with the same
tenderness and patience with which he has so often copied old masters,
he would never have dared to decry the art of graining.

As in etching, perfect cleanliness and an unlimited supply of white,
well-worn rags are indispensable to a grainer if he wishes to succeed in
his art; yet, as the professional grainer is generally a dashing-looking
fellow with artistically long and bushy tresses and Vandyke beard and
moustachios, the maid-servant's heart generally succumbs to his charms
before even he has unpacked his traps, so that he is not at all likely
to run short of clean rags during his campaign.

If any of my readers will take up and examine a piece of polished oak,
they will be surprised to see what a multitude of strange devices there
are in it; cabalistic signs and figures which are for ever varying as
they shift about in the light; strong markings in places, with a crowd
of slender flourishes trailing away from the bolder designs. These
slender flourishes are vulgarly termed '_rat-tails_.'

Now, to comb a panel properly requires some practice and taste, but to
be able to wipe out these rat-tails requires a great deal of practice
and a greater degree of discretion, so as neither to crowd the panel nor
make it appear meagre; the bolder figures with the softened parts
require about as much real talent as is expended upon making an original
sketch from nature, and a great deal more than would be wanted over the
copying of an old master.

The comber and rat-tail draughtsman might easily qualify himself to copy
an old master, but the adroit inventor of the bolder '_champs_,' which
occupy the centre of the panel, is already qualified to produce a
monochrome direct from nature; if gifted with the colour-faculty, and if
his power of making these 'champs' prove that he has mastered form, he
might aspire to any height on the artistic ladder.

The panel being combed, grained, and cleaned, is left to dry, probably
one or two days, as the weather chances to be, after which the grainer
proceeds with the finishing off.

If he has been imitating a piece of real wood, like the artist with his
picture, he will select one of the many changes which the different
lights reveal to him on that bit of wood: thus, where the light strikes
direct, the figures will shine out whitely; but out of the range of
light they will appear dark. The grainer who is an artist will take as
his guide the light falling from the windows, and where they touch
directly upon the doors or dadoes or skirting-boards, there he will
place his highest lights, leaving the darker portions to be put on
during the second stage.

If it is a door he is graining, he will put the 'champs' and rat-tails
in the panels, plain comb the upright 'styles' or sides, and make
knot-work on the cross-bars; to make knots he uses his finger with a dab
first, then with his notched cork _draws_ the outer waves which recede
from the central knot, finishing off with a few flourishes with his
nail. When this is done he will soften the whole effect by trailing his
finest comb over the cork-work. To do this with more artistic effect he
will use a comb of which he has purposely broken the teeth at intervals.
Every grainer breaks his own combs and cuts his own peculiar notches in
his corks to suit his own fancy, and, like a good painter with his
brushes, he does not like any other worker to use them.

The over-graining may be finished in one working, or if the job is an
expensive one, continued, in a very subtle spirit, over several
workings.

For this he requires in water-colour Vandyke brown, raw and burnt
siennas, a little blue-black, some stale beer, a sponge, a piece of
chamois leather, one over-grainer or more, a couple of wipers,
sash-tool, camel-hair softener, and a few sable or camel-hair pencils or
'riggers.'

The stale beer he uses as a medium to keep the door or panel from
'sissing,' or running off in globules--i.e. to make the distemper
colours lie flat and cover the oil paint below; also to act as a
fixative when the pigments dry.

Before the grainer begins to work he soaks his chamois leather in the
stale beer and washes his work carefully over; this stops the 'sissing'
tendency. He next dips his sash-tool charged with beer into his
water-colours. Vandyke brown will be the tint mostly used in oak,
although as he proceeds he may require in portions touches of raw or
burnt sienna, or where he wants to represent the effect of damp and
green in the wood, a little blue-black or even a touch of Antwerp blue.
The over-grainer must be an artist, or he had better shade his work
plainly with Vandyke brown, and do as little over-graining as possible.

He will next with his sponge wipe out lights here and there, and with
his scumblers or over-grainers trail them over the underwork, softening
the harshnesses out discreetly with his softener. With his wipers--i.e.
short stumpy flat brushes--he will take out straight horizontal lights
here and there on the styles, draw shadows together with his softener on
the cross-bars, and generally work or _fake_ about so as to produce the
effect of light and shadow.

When this is dry, which will be in about half an hour, the work is ready
for the finishing stages, the pencilling of shadow veins and 'champs,'
and loose over-graining.

He uses his riggers or long-haired pencils with a free but careful hand,
still keeping in his mind how the lights from the windows are likely to
strike upon his work. After this is dry, he takes his longest
over-grainer, and having charged it with a thin wash of colour, he first
draws a hair comb through it to separate the hairs, and next passes this
wash in tremulous lines over his work, _where required_, softening the
lines adroitly with his softener as he goes along. The work is now ready
for the final stage of all, the coat of varnish.

This is how a piece of imitation oak is wrought up by a skilful workman,
very similar to the way in which a drawing or a painting is produced.
If the workman is hurried, through cheapness of price, or ignorance, the
work may be like the abominations which so often greet us on common
doors, or those awful oleographs which decorate the walls of workmen's
cottages; but if well done the result is such that it must gratify the
eye of any lover of nature, because he can then look upon the very best
sample, or rather translation, of the wood, in the same sense that a
fine picture is the translation of the finest and most select portions
of nature.

My friend, and in many points my revered master, John Ruskin, writes
about the degradation of work of this description. I protest against
this view as erroneous. There can be no more degradation in imitating a
brass kettle or a cut cabbage than there can be in imitating the Alps or
the ocean in its different phases, if the imitation is a conscientious
one; and certainly, if this is permitted on a canvas, why should it be
condemned on a door, or a mantelpiece?

Get the very best of the real article if it is possible, of course, in
preference to the imitation; but rather than get a faulty slab of marble
or an uninteresting panel of wood, try to rest content with the
imitation and selection of the rarest and best. I would personally much
sooner live with sham virtue than open vice; we may live on and glean
happiness from the first, but we can get nothing save disgust and misery
from the last.

Besides, if truth and reality are to be the standards set up, art must
be abolished at one fell swoop, for art is the embodiment of falsehood,
as falsehood is the imitation of truth. The portrait is not the man or
woman any more than that false oak panel is the wood it represents, or
the shilling any more than the symbol of the pleasure or comfort it
stands for. We are all dealing in shams and equivalents; even the
outside landscape which charms us so greatly is not reality--it is only
a combination of light and optical illusion.


THE IMITATION OF SOFT WOODS

Under this heading I take maple, walnut, mahogany, satin-wood, and all
the other foreign and home woods which serve to decorate our houses and
ornaments, for the same materials and tools are required in them all.


MAPLE WOOD

The ground of this wood, like light oak, should be of a delicate cream
tint. I think the imitation of maplewood is one of the most delightful
and artistic of all; there is so much variety in it and so much play for
the fancy; it also liberates the hand of an artist as much as
scene-painting.

Some painters do this work with oil-colours and spoil the whole pleasure
of the work. I must insist that all soft woods ought to be worked in
water-colour, because oil cannot give the delicacy of the more
transparent medium.

Begin as I have already written about over-graining, with the stale beer
and chamois leather.

Then dash in your ground, composed of a thin mixture of Vandyke brown
and raw sienna. You will have your colours placed in separate pots, so
as to dip your sash-tool into one or the other tint, always using your
stale beer as a medium. Pitch your sash-tool, fully charged with
moisture, about your panel with free and reckless splashes, twirling it
about in parts, until the whole effect appears like a thunderstorm in
sepia. Then, while it is still wet, fold your hand in a loose way and
knock the backs of the fingers slackly and flatly against the panel,
making long dabs all over it, yet more leading to the centre towards
which you have drawn your shadows with your sash-tool, somewhat after
the form of a tree with the branches spreading out. Soften these flat
dabs, and also the coarse work of the sash-tool, lightly and delicately
with your softener; then take the tips of your four fingers and dab the
'eyes' about, softening these off still more delicately with the
'badger' or softener.

After this is dry, proceed to over-grain it as I have described in the
oak, only with your pencils accentuate some of the eyes where you think
it is needful.

The styles and cross-styles you must do according to fancy, wiping out
parts, trailing the over-grainer over other portions, putting in an eye
where wanted for variety, or a knot, yet taking great care not to crowd
the work; and always bear in mind that, although knots may look
attractive to you, they are considered blemishes from a cabinet-maker's
point of view. When you have done as much as you can, varnish.


MAHOGANY AND WALNUT

These two woods are manipulated in exactly the same way, a groundwork
dashed in with the sash-tool in the form of a tree, and wiped out and
over-grained. Mahogany is simpler in the over-graining and softer than
walnut. For mahogany you require burnt sienna and Vandyke brown over a
salmon-tinted ground; for walnut, Vandyke brown alone, over a yellow or
buff ground. In mahogany most of your work is done with the badger or
camel-hair softener, with just a little over-graining. With walnut most
of the work will be accomplished with the over-grainer and riggers or
pencils, after the groundwork is dry; if portions are stippled with the
badger in the first working it will be all the better.

To stipple is to hold the badger or sash-tool firmly sideways, and
strike smartly against the panel with it; this gives the appearance of a
great deal of minute work. When over-graining, study how the lines run
in a real piece of walnut, and try to imitate them closely with the
knots. Satin-wood and most other woods are imitated in the same way,
with distemper colour and stale beer. Practice, with perhaps a few
practical lessons, is all that is required, provided the worker has
adaptability, to produce a good grainer.


ON THE IMITATION OF MARBLES--BLACK AND GOLD

I take this marble first, partly because it is my favourite marble, and
partly because it leads directly from the working in of soft woods, as I
like to see it done.

Many painters lay in their ground with black in oil, and when dry go
over that again with yellow and white, also in oil. This is the way to
do it cheaply and inartistically, and, therefore, not the way that I
would recommend as an artist.

My groundwork for this marble would be exactly the same as that used for
oak--a rich cream colour.

Over this I would splash and stipple about roughly in water, or rather
stale beer, colour, a changing coat of raw and burnt sienna, with an
adroit blending of Vandyke brown; in fact, produce the wild
thunderstorm effect in warm tones that I did on my maple panel in the
first working.

Then, while the water-colour hurricane was drying, I would get my hen's
feathers and hog-haired softener in order, with the fitches and colours
required; for the next stage, as it is done in oil-colour, a hog-hair
softener is required.

Then for materials. A hog-hair softener, two or three small flat
brushes--i.e. fitches, with a small sable brush, half a dozen stiff
hen's feathers, a mixture of Japan gold size, turpentine and oil, and
some lamp-black and white-lead.

The black and white spread upon your palette separately from each other,
the medium make thin with the turpentine, something in this proportion:
one-third oil, two-thirds turpentine, and a sixth portion of Japan gold
size.

The rust markings or gold-tinted veins in this marble usually take the
form of a shallow, half-dried stream of water meandering amongst
boulders and pebbles; fill in these boulders and pebbles, large and
small, with your black paint, leaving the underground like a rich golden
stream to follow its course between them. Then, when you have done this
to your satisfaction, blend a little white with the black so as to
produce an unequal grey over the black markings; soften very slightly so
as not to break the sharp edges, which must be kept firm and hard at
this stage; next take a sharp-pointed stick--i.e. your brush-handle will
do if it is pointed like a blunt pencil, and scratch out some small
veins through the larger masses.

By using the Japan gold size the paint will very soon _set_ and become
'tacky'--that is, when you touch it with your finger it will be found
sticky, therefore dry enough for the next working, the scumbling with
the feathers.

Dip a feather into the thin mixture and draw it across the white so as
to get a thin film; flip this in a free way over the marble, half
obscuring some parts, leaving others clear and hard, and only a thin
semi-transparent and milky-like film over other portions; soften these
films as they run, and the result will be an exceedingly rich effect,
like shells and fossils and grey veins passing over and through the
black and gold.

When this is dry, varnish it, and you will have produced a marble which
for richness and lucidity cannot well be surpassed. The method which I
describe is old-fashioned, and rather slow, but where time and prices
are not to be considered, it is well worth the extra labour in the
satisfaction it gives to the worker, and its infinite superiority over
the other method, which will always lack purity, richness of detail, and
all the other added beauties of variety; for to paint light colours over
black is always bad form, and a mistake, as the black absorbs the light
colours and gives them a dull and heavy appearance.


DOVE MARBLE

This is another lovely marble if properly done, as it is filled with
fossils of all kinds, and the imitation of these natural curiosities is
an artistic task which brings out the best qualities of the grainer.

Generally the ground for this is stone-colour, and the materials are the
same as for the black and gold marble--i.e. black and white in
oil-colour.

Spread over the slab or mantelpiece a thin and carelessly mixed blending
of the black, white, and medium, so that when it is covered the ground
shines generally through that scumbly coating with portions all
irregular; then take a long studying look at your work, and with your
sash-tool put in the dark grey portions loosely, leaving the covered
ground for the light as you might if painting a picture; rub in your
larger masses roughly; soften these off lightly, and next proceed with a
feather smeared with white to put on your light veins; again soften with
your hog-hair tool, and with another feather, dipped amongst the black,
make dark veins, crossing light and dark where needful, until the effect
is all filmy and delicate.

Finish off with little touches and flecks of black and white on your
feather-tips, so as to produce stronger veins, remains of fish, shells,
and the other fossilised life with which this marble is crowded.

The Italian marbles, such as sienna and other varieties, are done in a
similar way, with the difference of colour. All marbles, with the
exception of the first working of black and gold, are worked in
oil-colour, although, of course, as in wall-papers, they may be worked,
after a style, in body colours, and when done in distemper they are
finished off while the colour is wet.

Granites may be imitated either by sparking the colours on by striking
the charged brush lightly with a stick, or else dabbing them on with a
sponge; a nice blending of the two methods produces the most natural
effects.

I often pass painters producing on shop fronts marbles of green, blue,
and red, which, although pretty, represent no earthly stones. I have
stopped to ask them what they were making, but they could not classify
it or give it a name. They had learnt to work from other grainers, and
never paused to inquire what they were producing. Many of these grainers
never studied a piece of real marble in their lives, and possibly would
not like the sober reality if they did come across a specimen or so in a
museum. The subtleties and time-markings would mean nothing to them, in
the same sense that a real bit of Nature would not appeal to the man who
had spent his efforts in copying flashy oleographs.

Now, this sort of graining is very abominable to me, as I dare say it
would be to John Ruskin, or any other diligent searcher after truth.

Every grainer ought to know where the specimen he is imitating or
reproducing comes from, and what has caused those veins and markings
which he is putting in; then he will be able to instruct the masses and
satisfy the botanist and geologist: for as he paints he will be
preaching a sermon on the stone, and writing out a record of the world's
history before man came on the scene. He will not then put meaningless
figures into his marble, but every flick and curl of his feather will
sketch in the broken remains of an extinct race: and in this way we
distinguish between the artist-grainer and the unreasoning mechanic.

Alma Tadema has shown how an artist can imitate marble, in his Roman
masterpieces, by his care and tender manipulation. He has raised the art
of the grainer to a very lofty pedestal indeed. In the Royal Academy
Exhibition, where crowds gather round his antique revivals, it is not so
much the noble Roman men and maidens who force the cries of admiration
from them, as the broad spaces of white and coloured marbles which
predominate in these compositions; those time-stained, rusted blocks,
with the slight suggestion of a flaw here and there; the iron-stains
showing through the subdued lustre of the Roman limestone; the polished
pillars and inlaid floors all kept under control, with the veins offered
only as an apology at rare intervals. This art of fidelity to nature
and rigid restraint have made him the grand master-grainer of the age.

And yet I have seen as fine specimens of imitation marble as ever Tadema
produced on his canvases wrought upon a show panel, only that I have not
seen the same masterly modesty and restraint. The producer of the show
panel, as a rule, exerts himself too much, and attempts to put into one
panel the results of a whole palace, and that is the mistake which makes
his work appear superficial and unreal. Alma Tadema puts no more work in
his slab than what appeared in the slab he copied so literally, because
he never permits his imagination to run away with him, while he has
nature to guide him, and that is the secret of his wonderful success.

And this example I would impress upon every grainer, young and old, who
may aspire to produce something great in his own line of life; for the
work on a door, a dado, shutter, skirting-board, or mantelpiece, is of
as much importance as the fresco on the plaster above--those frescoes
which have been the pride and glory of the best of our old masters.

The grainer who desires to be remembered must possess himself with the
true diffidence of the uncompromising realist.

After he has mastered the freehand of his craft--i.e. the technicality
and manipulation, he must set diligently to learn the causes for those
effects which he has been trying to imitate, and aim at giving a
specimen as free from blemishes as possible--that is, he must give his
patron only the most perfect specimens of the stone or wood which he is
striving to realise.

He must learn that a block of white marble which has stains and veins in
it is rejected by the sculptor and the monumental mason as faulty. In
the cemetery at Stirling there is a very lovely piece of sculpture-work,
representing an angel watching over Margaret Wilson, the virgin martyr,
which was purchased comparatively cheap by the donor, William Drummond,
because it had a flaw or vein in the knee. If this statue had not been
thus blemished, it would have been considered perfect, and much more
valuable.

Veins and blemishes in white marble are often caught at by the grainer
to emphasise his work and make it more marble-like, but the great
grainer will try his hardest to make his work look like marble without
introducing this blemish. The other marbles are easy if he will but be
faithful to his copy, and guard himself from exaggeration and the
crowding in of details--the rocks upon which so many split.

But when the grainer can produce a panel of white marble to look so like
marble that it can deceive the spectator and yet be flawless, then he
may take his seat amongst those immortals who painted fruit to deceive
the birds; and whatever any other critic may say against it, I hold that
he is a great and a true painter.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER IX

_DRESS AND DECORATION_


DRESS

[Illustration: O]F all the many matters which require reform in this
world, I place the two above mentioned, and, while holding my own
opinions with respect, demand of everyone to reverence his or her
opinions with equal respect.

I think that we dress altogether wrongly, and would point out as an
artist to artists the ugliness of it: to the broad masses whom we
delight to serve, the folly and unwholesomeness of it.

I hold that we eat and drink altogether wrongly, and would like to point
out as an artist to artists the brain-clogging effect of it: to the
people, the expense and _unmanliness_ of our customs. I would fain,
while exposing my own follies, hold up a mirror to others, showing as a
warning where I cannot be a guide.

In decoration, my second subject, I would fain point you directly to
nature; look straight at her, each with the desiring eyes of a lover,
and she will satisfy you all.

I suppose, in spite of the melancholy groans of some and the cynical
snarls of other dyspeptic subjects, that we all agree, without
exception, to love this life when we can have it tolerably free from
pain, or the pinching of poverty, and find this much-abused world quite
good enough for us and our purposes.

The weather is never altogether just what we would like it to be: it is
either too wet or too dry, too hot or too cold, to be exactly to our
taste; the direction of the wind bothers us--in fact, there is a happy
medium which we cannot strike; and yet, with all the shortcomings, I
doubt if there is a single sane Christian who would like to go to heaven
one second before his or her time. Of course, we except the unfortunate
insane, who rush away on the spur of an evil moment.

For my own part, I wish I could live a thousand years, and envy the
constitutions of the antediluvians, who could take time to do their work
properly, although I will confess to moments--neither few nor far
between--when I make myself as miserable and disagreeable as anyone
could imagine, and yet live.

The earth is all right about me, the weather is passable, the machinery
which moves me along would be perfection, if custom, and fashion, and
general _debility of will_ would only let it alone, and permit it to do
its work in its own way, and with its own conditions.

Nature endows us with tastes as simply correct as the horse's; and
custom teaches us to endure, with martyr persistence, habits that are
as difficult and dangerous to learn as they are hard to break from.

Nature bestows upon us skin all over our body, like that upon our face,
and custom covers up part of it, until it is so sensitive that it cannot
be exposed; and fashion bids us bare it at the wrong moment, or else
load it with all kinds of unwholesomenesses.

True Art stands by the side of Nature, both ridiculed, both lamenting;
while Fashion and Custom, ever capricious, ride on triumphant.

For example, take the feet: I prefer to raise my eyes from the earth--to
begin, as men begin to build houses, from the groundwork upwards. We
muffle them in wool or cotton, and cramp them inside the stiffest of
tanned skins--dead skins over living skins--and think that this can be
healthy; we shape them according to a fashion--square, round, or pointed
toes--never according to nature and the foot which we ought to imitate,
therefore not at all according to true art, which must follow after
nature, never after fashion, which must always be utterly false and ugly
until it emanates directly from nature, and then there can be no god
Fashion; for every man and woman will create their own ideal from
themselves, and not from any brainless _demi-monde_, and their modesty
will not run counter to the virtue which the great Creator planted
within the human mind, nor shame be created over what He said was well
done.

We hobble about within our wrappings with feet that swell and sweat and
steam unwholesomely, bathing them when they have become intolerable with
the exhalations from the living skin, and the impurities which they have
drawn out of the dead hides.

We hobble about with our raised heels and our square toes, admiring one
another, or envying one another, for the smallness and the tightness of
the cramping, never revealing, till some one tramps upon them, the
painful fact of bunions and corns, which, in silence and with Spartan
endurance, we are growing all to ourselves, in order to reach the ideal
that the world has set up for us to follow.

A host of other ailments are the lively produce of our efforts; but, as
beauty is my aim, I will pass them over, content to regard the ugly
abortion which that most lovely portion of a faultless machine has
become.

The overpowering influence of fashion even on well-balanced minds must
not be overlooked. When crinolines were in vogue, even men of taste were
weak enough to admire the fearsome abomination--at least, they admired
the creature inside that circumference, to which usage made them blind.

None of us admire the Chinese ideal of a foot, yet we are ready to grow
poetic over the _chef-d'oeuvre_ of a shoemaker; we sing to the boot,
for of course it would be impossible, not to say imprudent, to sing
about the foot.

Once I lived near a woman who had lost her nose. At first I thought this
a great disfigurement, and did not like to look in her face, but by
degrees I grew to lose the first horror, and I dare say might have grown
to think the want an improvement in the way of faces, had I lived near
her _long enough_.

We admire the Greek ideal, because the Greeks had perfect untrammelled
nature to copy. Their models were not curbed by stays or tight-lacings;
their training was severe, and their eyes were accustomed to flowers.
Luxury and sloth were crimes in Greece; in the high times of Greece, I
mean, when simplicity was admired, and slaves were the Sybarites, naked
men and women vied to show perfect limbs, not rich attire. The
barbarians were the fashion-mongers.

What so like the classic ideal as the Highland woman who puts on boots
at the church-door, and doffs them again with the benediction?--useless
to her amongst her native hills--an agony endured, because the poor
thing imagines that it looks respectable and religious-like.

What so unlike this idea as the fashionable votary, while she strangles
and strains to get out of the superfine, creaseless kid cages? Did they
look like mice peeping in and out as she tripped (limped) along
according to the poet? Who wants to see mice under petticoats? Who, with
poetry or taste, cares to see feet that can be compared to mice? And can
those long, splay, aristocratic, high-heeled, superbly-arched,
pointed-toed, tightly, so tightly-fitting, importations from tinsel
Paris be called feet? Alas! they are all that the envied, favoured one
has to represent what God Almighty was already pleased with. He gave her
roundness, which she has flattened--fulness, which she has
reduced--softness, which she has made hard; all that He did she has
attempted to undo, until what she is dipping into the tepid and aromatic
bath is neither useful for walking nor tempting to the eye. They are
white enough--almost white enough for leprosy, except when the boot has
been perchance extra hard; then they are red or horny, according to the
time the bruise has been endured. Soft underneath, where nature meant
them to be hard--so soft and useless that a crumb under the carpet
causes them to double up--hard and lumpy where nature intended them to
be soft! How modest fashion is to hide all the uglinesses she creates,
and what fools men are to rave about a piece of leather!

Our Highland girl, with her boots slung over her shoulders, and the
marks all washed away in the streamlet she has just passed, is springy
in her gait as a young stag, lithe in her movement as a young
panther--every fleshfold has its own room to move and make grace; the
heels are broad to meet emergencies, round where they rise, flat where
they press the earth; the soles hard, as they ought to be, to encounter
the roughnesses, with an instep just big enough to skim the ground, not
high enough to attract the eye--nature is far too subtle for that;
flexible and free, the toes are dimpled loves, each carrying his own
pink sea-shell, with blue veins that run over strong sinews, and appear
mellow under the gold of the sun-flush--an ankle that is godlike in its
concealed strength, and the portion of a leg that might serve the
painter as his model for the huntress Diana.

Fashion makes us bond-slaves. We put on boots to keep out the cold, and
they soak in the damp; stockings to help the absorbing process, and thus
confirm the risk of consumption. Nature makes us all beautiful, or would
do so if we gave her a fair chance; and we spend years in bringing
nature down to a level not to be described in any simile. Nature meant
to endow us with sinews and muscles to give and take a squeeze, and we
poultice them all over until they are flaccid, and shrink at the
slightest force.

Nature made the Greeks, and the Greeks owed what powers they possessed
to the restraint they displayed in letting nature alone. Art, having no
human nature now left unspoilt, points to the old Greeks. Taste admits
art to be right, yet yields to fashion, while that graven calf stands
with senseless hoof upon the roses and the lilies, calling itself the
God of Modesty, Purity, and Taste--a modesty which ordains the female to
cover her hands and feet, and lay bare her breast; purity which can
show a naked arm, and blush to show a naked foot.

We cannot improve upon the naked foot. The hand may wear rings, and to
degraded senses look improved (we who look straight to nature, and find
the finish of the Creator finish enough, doubt this--but let that pass);
the neck may have its chains, the ears, the arms, and ankles, even the
nose, rings, according to the fancy of the wearer or the taste of the
nation. I do not like rings, or anything that divides the lines of
symmetry, yet if one part be covered, gold may be worn with advantage on
other portions; but I defy any cover or ornament yet invented by man to
improve the foot which God has already so beautifully covered.

The world is all false--false aims, false motives, false pride, false
modesty, shame bred from impurity, blushing at what it should be proud
of.

If we dared, we would fain set up woman as she dawned upon primitive
man. Imagination pictures to us the first male and female, without a
physical flaw, in the perfection which the Creator considered costume
sufficient. Reason may bring forward scientific theories respecting the
origin of man, but the poetry of our natures will not permit us to
accept of them. We like to see that young man fresh from the hands of
his Creator, meeting his mate with her first blush of womanhood in those
spring-tinted glades of Paradise; we like to think of the child-minds
waking up, each drinking in the other's fascination, each unconscious of
its own perfection, filled with the new-breathed life, the joy of
existence, the lavishness of surrounding nature, alone in their joint
humanity, the centre of myriad wondering eyes, with the great Eye of
dawning Day laving them and all creation in that rosy light.

We like to see her standing breathless before the splendour of that
youthful manhood, soft mists wreathing from her like a bridal veil, her
blue eyes like the forget-me-nots, into which her tender feet are
sinking, pushing back with those shell-tipped, tapering fingers the
wealth of golden tresses which roll from the azure-veined, ivory
forehead, that she may be the better able to peer within those wells of
amber brown, all unknowing of the loveliness she is herself revealing.

But the world has fallen from that state of purity, and we have the
sordid substitute, shame, to warn us against any return; therefore we
must perforce drape our ideal before we can present her to the many
eyes. Yet in our draping we would consult nature with grace, rather than
fashion; cover our woman without losing her identity; imitate naught
except her own lines, in her drapery; let her breathe freely, move
easily, and appear before us as she ought to do, wide-waisted, a woman
with the look of a future matron, and not the rickety imitation of a
wasp.

Fashion is a mighty power, and yet, after all the periods and changes
with the world, we must return to our admiration of the ancients.

We must love our girls, no matter how they are costumed, and love will
make the costumes appear becoming; yet, can we compare the intricate
flounces of to-day with the grandeur and grace of those simple antique
folds, without deploring the influence of that 'Monster, Fashion,' which
compels _Love_ to make such an effort?

Think of our gigantic headpieces, and then of the classic plait and
coil; in the one case measuring four instead of the classic eight heads
to the figure.

Compare the gigantic hoop, with the clinging robe which revealed
sufficient for grace without offending modesty; the easy swing of the
antique, with the affected limp of the modern.

Although we know the story of the first body covering of foliage, it is
difficult to trace back to the first foot cramp. An old legend has it
that when Adam was forced from Eden he bruised his foot, in the hurry,
against a bar of the massy gate, and so, with the pain, thought upon a
bandage.

Pain is mostly our first, and most effectual, instructor. The red-hot
poker must be a pretty sight to the eye of innocent childhood; the touch
generally suggests the necessity of cultivating the organ of caution. So
with man, the ignorant; he covered his body because sin showed him it
was naked, and tied up the wound upon his bruised foot because it
smarted.

Granted that the roads are hard, and the feet of the wanderers unfit to
encounter the roughness, the sandal of the ancients comes nearest to our
ideal of a graceful protection. To those who must have luxury, who have
wealth to spend and like to spend it on themselves, what a glorious
opportunity is here!--straps inlaid with gold and gems, the poetry of
the jeweller expended in chaste designs and ornate extravagances--straps
that catch a thousand sun rays, and break them into prismatic splinters;
gems that get loosened from their elaborate settings, and, rolling
amongst the grey dust, attract the beggar's eye with their flashing, and
fire the hearts of the finders' friends with the fleeting joy of
possession; straps that leave the toes free room to move, and be seen,
open to the fresh airs of heaven, like the hands and face, with the same
advantages of getting dust-grimed, and the same chance of getting often
washed; straps that may cost a fortune, or be had at a quarter of the
price of boots.

What a delightful custom after the sandals were doffed, when the guest
entered, and the women of the household brought water and towel as the
welcome home! Think of it, on a summer march, with your feet sweltering
and blistering inside cramping boots--the comfort of it, the beauty of
it, when the tired feet were placed on the mat, or amongst the rushes,
rosy, fragrant, and purified!

In summer, ay, or in winter either, are we warmer gloved or ungloved on
a winter day? Which protects the nose most in a frost, a veil or a
handful of snow rubbed briskly over that organ? Which feels the cold
most, the Highlander with his kilt and bare legs, or the Sassenach with
his drawers and breeches? With the hands and the feet, habit solves the
problem; our summer is a Calcutta winter.

Fashion is for ever changing. Why? Because men and women cannot feel
satisfied with their inventions--because the instinct of the True is in
us all, and we are miserable when we attempt to beat it down. God gave
man a costume which man cannot rival, and man must come back to it
before he is satisfied. It is well to foster a taste for china or old
books, to rave of the quaintness of Queen Anne, the shepherdesses of
Watteau, the flowered vests and cocked hats of the beaux, the patches
and periwigs of the be-hooped and be-bustled belles, cracked plates with
fragile morals, manners of the stage--all that the idiots who get up the
forced ecstasies rave about; but the talk grows low-toned, and the
tinsel tongues are hushed, as the Apollo and Achilles, or the Venus and
Andromeda of the Greeks, loom up, with the grandeur of their God-beauty
clinging to them like an imperishable robe. Where is the mock modesty
that dares to blush before these perfections? Gaze upon them long, and
learn the secret of the changing fashions.

Men and women must yet learn to dress so as to move and breathe freely
and naturally before they reach the point where fashion will stand
still--having folds that fall simply, short for action, long for show.
Woman must appear yet before us as she should do, supple and free. The
world must yet wake up to the truth and purity of beauty, and to do so
must come back to its Creator--delicacy weighed in the scales with the
virtues of nature; the beauty of strength admired, before the whiteness
and softness of the drooping flower.

We must love all that is beautiful. The naked form of a woman is
beautiful, but the folds of a loosely-fitting, simply plain costume are
also beautiful, and perhaps the whiteness and softness gained, if it can
be gained without loss of strength, by shading it from the sun, is a
point gained; for it is lovely in its fragility--a loveliness which the
air of heaven would roughen, which the eye of day would cover as
thoroughly as a veil--subtle gradations which are never seen except by
the painter.

Cover it, if you will, with soft folds that will fit to the motions, not
with the snaky outer skin which reveals the shape completely, but
without a touch of the multitude of colour charms. We can never return
to the innocence of Eden until we fling off the clay portion of us, and
look upon life with spiritual eyes. Then the ugliness of sin and crime
will make us droop our eyes, but never the perfection of nature.

I have seen people turn with blushing faces at the sight of a naked
child, as if it was something to be guilty about. Education had debased
their minds. In the South Seas I have watched the sexes together plunge
into the coral-washed waves, and discourse on passing events ashore, and
they had no thought of shame. Nature had left them where education will
bring us all, if the time ever comes when knowledge can be surmounted.

Choose, while you must dress, each a fashion to suit yourselves. Begin
with the figure which your Maker has given you, and assimilate as nearly
as your material will permit your fashion to that figure. Consult the
hygiene of that form, and make your fashion subordinate to those laws.
Perfect health and perfect grace go together. Consult the colour which
nature has given to you, and place the colour of your costume in harmony
with that, to keep that colour, when dressed, exactly in the same
position as it is when you are nude; for depend upon it, if you are in
health, no heightening or lowering will ever become you so well.

Remember that fashionable colours may have suited the particular woman
who made the fashion; seldom anyone else.

Think you are as good a woman as any other, and bring pride to the
rescue. You have equal right, through the royalty of your perfect
womanhood, to make a fashion as any duchess or _demi-mondaine_ in the
land.

Banish false hair, which only heats your brains and wears away your own
hair, besides carrying dead impressions and nameless diseases into your
system.

Banish hats that hide or _kill_ faces, or weigh down heads. A light
cover for the sun, if fierce: _yet the hair was given to man for this
purpose_.

Banish stays, which murder not only yourselves, but the races coming
after you.

Banish waist-bands and petticoats, which are deforming your hips. Look
to the waist and hips of the Venus of Milo for my meaning.

Live for yourselves, and for the future. Be the founders of virtuous and
wise Titans. Saturn is not nearly dead yet, and Rhea is still kind, if
you will. But as Jove fought for life, so must you. On the milk of goats
he grew strong to defy Father Time, the devourer. Be strong to defy the
laughter and the sneers. Set up an Image of Life and worship this only,
for this is the earth-symbol of God.


DECORATION

Art, in the general acceptance of the term, is all that is apart from
mechanical dexterity; as the man is not his brain or heart or muscles,
but the immeasurable force which controls and moves all these parts, so
Art is that immeasurable force that appeals to and speaks through all
our senses. Truth is the primary principle of art; the lever of life,
the mainspring of society. If we are not true to ourselves, we cannot be
true to one another; therefore, our plans must come to naught. Madame
Modjeska, one of the greatest of living actresses, is said to be able to
do two things at once--to present to the public a face expressive of the
most intense agony, shedding tears, and _seemingly_ writing a letter
which is breaking her heart, and _actually_ making comic caricatures on
the sheet of note-paper. Admiring this gifted woman as I do, this is a
knowledge to shudder over. I hope it cannot be true, for if I thought of
art reaching this doubtful state of perfection, I could never again see
all the agony of that acting, only the mockery of the caricatures.
Falsehood is not power; it may impose, but unless the actor, or the
poet, or the painter, can lose himself or herself in the part with which
they are involved, all the rest is only nerve-twisting, meaning nothing,
conveying nothing.

Beauty is the embodiment of truth, as man palpable is the embodiment of
soul. Falsehood may come draped in the appearance of truth, which is
beauty, but that only testifies to the rigid impersonation of truth;
falsehood, being hideous, has to come like truth before it can impose.

Beauty being thus the incarnation of truth, and the mission of art being
to present this body to the senses, it becomes the stern duty of artists
to find out what she is before they attempt to reproduce her. Hence also
art takes its proper position in the world; hence its utility to
society.

Truth is the binder of society, the leader upwards; Beauty, the form of
that divine force; Art, the interpretation of that holy principle;
Honour, Faith, Trust, Love which casteth out fear--all are outsprings
from the spirit of Truth, which Art has to present to the people, and
teach them to see and love.

Beauty, therefore, is the chief quality of art, and while the standard
of beauty rests in our eyes--a perfectly formed face often appearing
repulsive, and a figure seemingly faultless devoid of grace, whilst the
expression and the action transform the plain face and common figure
into beauty and grace--so old age can be as beautiful as early youth,
and the ugliness of power made to embody rugged grandeur.

But although we create our own ideal of beauty, it is the mission of the
painter, poet, sculptor, novelist, and dramatist to educate the world,
and refine and elevate their creations and ideals; and this mission is
not fulfilled in the mind that merely reports the tittle-tattle of
everyday life and no more, or that relates the improbable adventures,
frivolities, and vices of a fashionable upper ten thousand, nor the
burlesque or comic opera, that turns to buffoonery all those sentiments
which tend to melt or ennoble in the language and moral of the tragedy,
from which they draw their ribald nonsense. Nor is it fulfilled in the
poem that only deals in mystery and new-forged words, that mean nothing
unless the suggestion of a harmonious sound--unless the reader fills it
up with his own suppositions; or, if meaning anything, only suggestions
which the writer is too cowardly to tell out openly and therefore
knavishly sends forth to engender its own poison under its specious and
subtle mufflings of musical jargon.

Nor is this mission fulfilled in the picture that speaks a soft, hazy
blending of harmonious tints, because a weaver can do and mean as much
with his loom, or the display of a dexterous manipulation learnt, as any
other dexterity in craft, by rule. Neither is it fulfilled in the scant
imitation of a bit of nature, although here more than in the meaningless
blendings, because any old stump lying by the roadside, with its moss
and time-dressing, must look beautiful, although with no great credit
because of no great effort of the imitator, and presenting none of his
mind, which is the vital force we look to for elevation.

We turn to the Greeks for our ideas of refinement. They have left nearly
perfect forms in ornament, architecture, and sculpture, and they have
also left examples, in their habits and mode of living, that they were
simple to severity. When I speak thus I except the debauched followers
of Bacchus and Venus; for these poets, like Anacreon, belong to the
decline of Greek life, and therefore must only be looked at as the foul
fungi and rotten growths bred from decay.

The early Greeks fulfilled their mission, because they gave us beautiful
forms to look upon, beautiful lines, beautiful curves; the Egyptians and
Assyrians fulfilled their mission, because they gave us massive forms
and gorgeous tints; the savage tribes fulfil their mission in their
fantastic images of terror; the early painters fulfilled their mission,
because they sought to raise up feelings of devotion, or pity, or horror
in the spectator; the modern painters, bowing down to the golden calf,
paint what will suit best, and sink their art into a trade and traffic.

Give painters commissions, is one suggestion to create high art; so far,
good for the buyer. Painters must live, as preachers must live, and the
labourer is worthy of his hire; but the painter who is also a preacher
ought not to think of the price of his picture. Robert Burns had the
true estimate of his poetry. We cannot judge a picture by its price. If
it is a true effort, it is part of the painter's soul, which cannot be
bought. Let him not say it is worth 400_l._ or 3_l._; rather say it is
not money-worth; take it and give me what I need to live: it is mine for
ever, because I made it, and I only give it up to hang on your walls, in
that I need your help to be able to live and work.

Ornament or decoration being one of the many outcomes of art-teaching
which can be applied to the continuance and comfort of ordinary life, we
take it up in its broadest meaning. To ornament our persons rightly,
first studying the laws of health, cleanliness, and sympathetic
attraction; to bring grace into our language, and actions, and morals;
after we have administered to the sense of sight and smell, that we may
always be lovers and ideals to our wives, banishing from us utterly all
habits and liberties that tend to destroy the lovely gloss of that first
love; words that may lower or corrupt; jests that may rub off the
modesty of first friendship; actions that may tend to deaden the finer
romance of the tender dream; all these come within the category of
Decoration, and require to be carefully studied.

To ornament our house discreetly, so that we may always find a pleasure
in the sitting down, a harmony all over that will soothe us after our
day's work; a quiet _colourless_ patterned paper will be as cheap as a
gaudy glaring, and will _comfort_ you where the other will not;--a
knowledge of how little is wanted to make life pleasant, a method to get
true style, and save money, an idea of the decoration or useful laws of
colour;--a taste in the way of books and dress and behaviour, a general
_blandness_, which etiquette aims at, improving the high _tone_, which
some aristocrats have, and some must pretend to learn, and which may be
acquired by any one studying the first law of Christianity, which
selfishness, and coarseness, and falseness cannot successfully imitate
or keep up for long, no matter what title comes before or after their
names, or the pedigree they may be able to tot up, or the appearance
their tailor or dressmaker may give to them;--which only require the
instincts of honour and truth to do it all to perfection. It does not
really matter whether you use your bread or fork or knife at the
orthodox moment; if you can keep down the scoff or the sneer where
another has tripped. The fork or knife mistakes only want a hint to
rectify, the sneer or scoff cannot be rectified, for the one has been
the want of knowledge, while the other has been the want of soul: the
one is a _novice_, to be trained; the other a _cad_, to be kicked.

That there are tastes acquired, and instincts born in us, we all have
hourly and abundant proofs.

But the love of ornament I take to be an instinct bred in the bone and
born with the breath. We have records when and how the world began, but
never a record of the beginning of ornament.

Adam saw that Eve was fair to look upon, and she, I doubt not, long
before the serpent tempted her, knew of a method to deck up her tresses
so as to increase the fascination.

In this world, and age, and short life, when science has taught us the
fallacy of our eyesight, and the imperfection of those organs which the
Creator gave to us and called good; when knowledge must be concentrated
and bottled into the mind like a quintessence, over-proof, we have no
time for wandering amongst words; with our girls, scientific and exact,
Cupid must learn to be brief with what he has to tell and not dally with
soft nothings. Language must be chosen for its directness rather than
for its elegance, if the speaker would not be flung aside like the
useless rubbish his weak flourishes have made him.

Pure ornament, like pure language, should be simple in its construction
and expression, clear in its meaning, with just sufficient embellishment
about it to interest the imagination, leaving the intention honestly
revealed to the passing glance. The truest lines of grace are the
plainest; the most majestic designs are those freest from detail; the
greatest charm about the disposal of drapery is in the fewest folds, big
folds, falling straight; the best dressed men or women are those
costumed the quietest. The sign of a lady and gentleman is simple,
unaffected ease--an ease which embraces the comfort of all round so
completely that the effort cannot be observed, only the effect, which is
kindness and equality. The cynic cannot be a lady or a gentleman, for
the province of a cynic is to wound, therefore what cynics gain through
being feared they must lose in one boon, that of being loved.

Culture or education does not make a lady or a gentleman; much oftener
it makes prigs and insufferable pedantic bores, by rendering the woman
and man--through her or his very surface _cramming_ of technical names
and scientific phrases, without the more complete training of restraint
or the polish of consideration--offensive by the air of utter knowledge
they put on during conversation, or worse than offensive by the
patronising leniency they assume towards the ignorance supposed to be
around them.

I have seen fearsome clowns whose boorishness raised all the brute
within me before I had talked to them five minutes, to whom Euclid was a
relaxation, and a volume of Tyndall or Huxley regarded in the form of
light literature.

The utility, or rather the necessity, for ornament runs like an artery
throughout our lives, not only in our houses, and dresses, and persons,
and possessions, but in our morals and manners; hence my passing
observation upon the latter, first:

The savage, with his tattoo and war instruments, attaches a religious
importance to it. The lines in the face of the Maori, which mean each
curve a grade in his knighthood, or caste dignity, until the face and
the body are covered with symmetrical designs, tell to the initiated a
family history of sustained honours and glory; and this is the utility
of the ornaments of the Maori: indeed, it ought to be the intention of
ornament, as of all arts, to serve another purpose than mere show, which
is only the flashing of a paste brilliant.

From the days when man, like Jacob, set up his immortal stone, to the
classic altars of gold which the Greeks and Romans set before the
statues of their gods, it marks an epoch, and points towards an aim.

I cannot conceive man content with his rough tanned skins, and his
knobbed branch club, or sharp stone fixed into an uncarved handle; void
of the instinct of decoration, his woman, like himself, squatting in the
sun, without any other intention than to eat, fight, and sleep. No race
on earth has been so low, no time so primitive, that love did not
lighten it--love the subduer, the purifier, the knight creator. And love
never yet shot his arrow where squalid contentment reigned.

The women wove their mats, and the men cut out the handles of their
tomahawks. The moist-eyed young Kotori listened to the pipe of the
stalwart Toa, and thought of flowers to adorn her braided locks. And the
warrior plucked the tendril from the tree as he passed through the
forest, and wound it round his brows that the maiden might like him all
the better. Cupid first, and afterwards Mars, breathed into the spirit
of man the stern necessity of ornament.

Primitive man then looked straight at nature in his adorning of his
surroundings. Inspired by love, he became more sympathetic in his
tendencies, courteous to the female, zealous of his self-constituted
rights, like the Count Falko in that matchless German poem-story of
Sintram, more appreciative of the beautiful about him. Fruit attracted
him by its colouring, and bloom, and shape, when before he had only
thought upon its taste; he fondled the dog which before he only noticed
by his rigid discipline; and from the twisting of the real leaves and
flowers round himself and his accoutrements, he grew to imitate them in
relief and colours, so that he might have the remembrance always with
him when the originals lay withered into dust; bringing to the wigwam,
wharè, hut, or palace, the green of June in the white sheet of December,
stamping on the icy heart of winter the glowing monogram of festive
summer.

So with his animals. The favourite dog was immortalised in this rude,
primitive way; the wild beast whom he had fought and conquered
single-handed, as David did the lion--boasting about it at
camp-meetings, taking it as his ensign, with the motto, 'I did it all.'
So every man became his own sculptor, historian, poet, and herald; and
when language failed, he attempted, by carved ornament and painted
symbol, to fill out the want.

I like a consistent boaster. He is honest if not modest, and honesty is
far to be preferred to that contemptible mock-modesty which inclines a
man to hide what he must have been proud to inherit. Hereward the Wake,
in Charles Kingsley's romance, is a fresh boisterous character whom we
must like better when he rode sarkless out to meet the foe than Hereward
the false lover and astute politician, who could forsake the woman who
had suffered by his side.

I cannot appreciate the poet who is so modest that he requires pressing
to read his manuscript. He must have felt that he was doing something
worthy of being read or listened to, or surely he would never have
wasted his time over the elaboration of the thought; and thinking this,
he is an impostor to pretend to cover that honest outcome of his pride
and not seek his reward.

Does not the painter paint his picture to be seen, and can anyone admire
the modesty that will not hold it up to the passer-by?

Give me the Hereward of the brush and pen; the man who button-holes you
like Coleridge, and, shutting his eyes, recites all the ideas which he
thinks are fine; the Swinburne who can see his own beauties and not be
ashamed to point them out; the Walt Whitman who sings about _himself_;
the man who works for praise and is not ashamed to ask for his reward.

Is it subtlety to mask over your meaning with words? Is it the mark of
high-toned education and refinement to pretend to comprehend this
category of manufactured and meaningless words, this jingling of
obscurities?

Is it a sign of ignorance to frankly confess that this sort of thing is
beyond you? Then I don't admire subtlety; I don't pretend to be
high-toned, I glory in my ignorance. 'Sartor Resartus' does not seem to
me to have any special mission. There are strong passages in it,
disconnected pieces that I look upon as a vocabulary, and use
accordingly; but the author to me represents neither a seer, a prophet,
nor a moral teacher, but only a used-up, tobacco-smoking, ill-natured
old man, who ill-used himself, his wife, his friends, and did nothing
beyond stringing together a few volumes of vivid expressions to
enlighten the nineteenth century. But he understood the ornamental part
of language, and for that I like him, if for nothing more.

To leave a modern savage and return to man the primitive. War taught him
the utility of ornament, how to make objects and curves to inspire the
foeman with horror; and in this we see the first departure from direct
nature watching, to invention; the lion or boar was not fearful enough,
so he combined their ferociousness and made a mixture.

Religion stepped in next with stiff rules and unalterable decrees, and
man no longer sought to imitate nature, but gazed beyond her to the
mystic symbol of the unseen. An error in the first instance, in the
ornamental expression of her imagery, became a fixed law, as in Egypt
and India, where century after century the lines were repeated without
the slightest variation, and a conventional false symbol served instead
of the clumsy but truthful imitation of the savage.

The Greeks stand the exception to all the barbarism of the world about
them; they rose to perfection by quick degrees, and that is about all we
can say of their art history. They were refined and simple in their
manners, rigid in their habits, before the Olympian court was arranged
into order or Homer had invented poetry. Hardy health was their aim and
stalwart beauty their standard. The flowing grace of their own
unfettered limbs taught them the purity of true art lines. Vintage time
was a joyous season to be remembered during winter, so they raised
pillars to mark their joy, and cut upon them memories of the vine leaves
and honeysuckle which they had watched clinging over their porches in
the golden hours.

Very early in the world's history man found the use of metals, and
learned by mingling to harden them. The first statues and ornaments were
formed by hammering the metals and beating them into plates and cords to
lay upon or twist round blocks of wood and stone--a slow, hard,
laborious process with little effect. These were the days when Vulcan
and his demons burrowed in the earth's vaults to forge the armour of
Mars.

Gods with glass eyes and the stiffest of limbs yet bore a resemblance to
human beings. Egypt was working away content with her foldless draperies
and indiscriminate finishing of detail, handing down from father to son
their arts and sciences--everything hereditary, from the many grades of
the priesthood to the low office of the accursed dissector of the sacred
body to be embalmed; building her mighty monuments and laying on her
rigid tyrannic colours--the harmony of law that was right by chance.

Phoenicia was waking up and gaining a name amongst nations; the dyed
stuffs and embossed golden cups and clean-cut coins of Tyre, Sidon, and
Carthage, which sent out laden ships and grew rich through industry.

Greece was striding on through wars and revolutions and conquests, art
and ornament grew strong and refined, and thus became daily a stricter
necessity. Their own habits were simple, but their gods were
extravagantly administered to. Homer taught them to sing, and to work
broadly and delicately.

Homer, the grand old man, the blind beggar who could look with those
spirit eyes into centuries, who assembled the gods in order, placed the
immortal stragglers in poetic arrangement, utilised the court of love to
his own imperial cadence, and became the father, not of his own tribes
only, but of all nations. What had their battles done but for his pen?
Helen were a forgotten sin, Troy a fleck of white dust--all the heroes
of that deathless romance only the vanished marshalling of an ant-hill;
for what are we after our lives have gone unless the poet or the
novelist creates us afresh and gives us actions that will not die? What
is our pain or our pleasure to the partner of it all? We cannot feel
theirs, they cannot know ours. My sorrow will not let me judge of yours,
for I look upon yours from the outside--a sight, the glimpse of a
covered volcano--while mine is here where I can see it no more than you
can, but my living soul is writhing in the flames. Will my pain give me
yours? No! and so the griefs and passions of two centuries dead and
unchronicled cannot stir a thought.

The writer lives and cries: 'Come out, O Lazarus! shake from you the
dead cerements, live as you lived, think again; and as you think so
shall your thoughts be fixed and roll through Time.'

Homer lived and sang, and heroes rose, and virtue became tangible, and
right was fixed, and wrong grew a thing. The painter and the worker in
stone and metal had a theory. Beauty was fixed by the Judgment of Paris,
mythology became a living creed; while he, the blind father, spake on,
sang on, unheeded, yet insensibly becoming the educating founder of a
school where the world must enter and learn till the end has come.

As Homer did to the Greeks, so the novelist does for us--presenting to
our eyes the world we have not seen, society we may not enter, manners
we could not know but for him; virtue gets the reward, vice gets the
punishment, the knight of chivalry inspires us with the desire to
emulate. The noble path of honour is pointed out, and we glow as we
read, with the desire to follow: what sermon could teach us more? The
theatre is a church of refinement and morality, teaching us how to act
in this world, which, as inhabitants, we require as much as the tenets
of the next, about which we know nothing: so the novel. I have read all
kinds of fiction: George Eliot, who tells us things as objectionable as
the author of 'The Lady of the Camellias'; Dumas, who points out the
virtue of fidelity even in a _demi-monde_, that false heroine; Zola, the
needful man with the muck-rake. I have seen the novel-reader world-wise,
and the philosophy-devourer a fool. Novels are the histories of
humanity: they teach us a wisdom that years of sorrow only could reveal;
through them we may look into the hearts of men and women and not be
deceived by the smiling mask of deceit; they bring to us a world we dare
not visit, telling us what we ought to know about sin and suffering;
they inculcate knowledge in a pleasant way, preaching to us virtue and
nobility, warning us of falsehood; in them we go out to the Valley of
the Shadow of Death and are able to conquer the Monster without any risk
of scars, to pass through the world and yet be pure, to know all things
without tasting of the forbidden tree: and can the preacher do more?

Ornament your houses, ornament your persons, your manners, and your
morals; even morality can be made very ugly if it is presented to us
gaunt and square--without the undulating lines of forethought and
forbearance, without the graceful folds of divine charity. I have seen
morality brought out and held up such a forbidding skeleton that the
soul artistically inclined shrank back aghast from the weird spectre.

Take one short half-hour to glance over your own faults of a morning,
and you will be astonished at the perfection you see around you. Think
but for a few moments upon the wisdom you have gained in your earth
sojourn, and I defy you to open your mouths when even ignorance boasts.

It is so nice to be sure of our subject, to sit down and listen to a
tinkle of babble and know what ought to be, to enter the room we have
decorated and feel that there is nothing wanted, to look into the mirror
and feel we are dressed, to clasp our friend by the hand and feel we are
united: that this is contrast sufficient, and harmony through it all.

I have said nearly all that is required about ornament, because I
intended to speak to you in a general way. True, I might tell you about
the rules of the Greeks regarding ornament; how they modelled,
punctured, painted, and fired their vases; how they preferred a cameo to
a costly stone, a bit of mind to a rare flash; but what would that avail
to what I want? I want my friends to be men and women, to have a reason
for all things, to know why the scarf goes round their neck or the boots
upon their feet.

I don't want them to like Henry Irving only because he is fashionable,
or to talk cant about pictures. I want them to be honest--to like, and
openly say so, in their ignorance the things of ignorance, and come from
the outer to the inner circle by degrees and openly. I want my friends
to eat, drink, dress, and sleep as they ought to, as creatures who have
inherited an immortality; who are all one (except by learning),
patrician or plebeian, and who aim at refinement; not to be dazzled like
weak moths by a glitter, but to enjoy the light if it is a good light,
yet not to mistake the farthing dip for the electric flame; to look past
the splendid expression in a poem or speech and see if the centre line
is straight; see what the motive is, for that is the soul of the poem or
picture.

I have met men and women with souls so colourless that, but for the
bodies which gave them a place, they would never be observed; souls
which could never reach a heaven or be carried the length of a hell,
but with the dissolution of the carcase; which might, through an outside
effort, be able to flicker up for a moment, but must eventually
collapse, and be blotted out as completely as the droppings of a meteor
on a midnight sky. The _reflection_ of a _religious_ or an _atheistic_
colour may pass over them, as the sky colour is cast upon a fragment of
jellyfish lying in a sea-side puddle, but they are no more than that
shugging mass; the colour goes or the tide leaves them, and they are
immediately rendered void. The Egyptian has a dog who sits waiting on
souls of this description, who repeat other people's words, who borrow
brains from books, and can neither feel wicked nor good of themselves.
The forty-two avengers relate their actions, the Judge weighs them in
the scales: there is no heaven for them, for the heaven wants
self-illuminated spirits; there is no hell for them, for they are not
bad enough; so the Judge scoops up the scales and the limp soul flops
into the watchdog's open jaws, is gobbled up at a gulp, and so there is
an end of that poor ghost.

The Hindoo, the Chinese, the Moor, and the Oriental like gorgeous
colouring and intricate lines and twistings in their ornament, because
they have been accustomed to see nature in her most lavish way. The sun
never blinks his eye, or seeks to cover his full strength where they
are; straight down he flings himself upon Rhea, and she, the earth,
responds with the fervency of a consuming passion, or the love fever of
a sea-voyage. There is no place for grey here--it must be white, yellow,
red, greens of the richest, russet of the most positive, purples that
are not disguised: the fumes of the panting mid-day may be pallid, yet
it is not the pallor of ashes, but the gas-haze which quivers above the
white intensity of the bloom. Jungles, and closely-knitted bush-tracks,
where the speckled adder swelters in the rayless fire; up, down,
over-laced, across, there is not an inch which is not covered with its
tendril patterns--not a patch where light can pierce that has not its
cluster of orange or vermilion blossoming. Life is a delirium in those
tropics, the night a fever, and the day a dream; and can we expect calm
thoughts to be displayed, or reposeful hues, when even the moonlight is
a golden thrill, and stars are shining globes of magnifying power?

Those who live in the north, where the skies are softened veils, and the
lakes are placid sheets--where the soul is braced by the north wind, and
subdued by the gently wafted west--may well be refined. They are classic
born, and to love the simple in ornament or life should only be the
effortless yielding of their wills to the instincts of our race.

Study comfort first when you plan your ornaments: if it is a garden or a
park, plant the trees that will shelter you best without hurting your
health or offending the eye. Build your houses for the sake of the
street, the street for the sake of the town, the town for the sake of
the land in which it is cast. Assimilate your taste with the taste of
other people, sacrificing a little yourself to get some things from
them, but not too much; for Jerusalem was kept clean (if it ever was
kept clean) by every man looking after his own doorstep.

Plan out your rooms for health: first must come cleanliness and fresh
air, next grace and comfort--be comfortable before you are beautified.
Get space first. Put out as much furniture and accessories as you can;
no more chairs than you want for visitors, no more tables than you
strictly need; look round your walls and relieve the blankness with a
picture, or a plate, or a vase, or a cast, just to fill up a bareness,
not to call attention. We cram on ornaments when we want to cover or
screen a defect.

Have your furniture consistent with your room. If you are Orientally
inclined, and like a glare, be Oriental to the uttermost--do not stop
short at a footstool or a tea-cup; but if you like to rest in your
houses, and to be able to think while you rest, have all things plain
and sober. Homer and Milton were both blind, and the great serenity of a
noble purpose shines like an unflickering alabaster lamp from both.

Do not mix things if you can avoid it; if it is a lion you are making,
never blend it with an ape. Observe the flowers and fruits of a season
when you plan out a scroll of flowers and fruits, and never bind winter
to summer; they cannot agree, and it is better never to join than have
to divorce.

Every ornament must have a backbone to start with, or it will fall to
pieces as surely as a society-girl would collapse without her whalebone
stays, the modern substitute for the backbone of Mother Eve.

Therefore, if you wish to exercise an influence on the world about you,
and raise the ideas of beauty, seek after health first, comfort next,
and beauty will follow of its own accord.

Every man and woman ought to be able to draw as well as see a straight
line; should be able to take down the impression of the place they visit
as well as they are able to write out descriptions of it in their
letters home; they ought to study painting, and know the reason for
certain colours being mixed and put on, because taste, although a
natural gift, is also an acquired habit up to a point. Imagination is a
universal power shared by the lower world as well as man: the dog
dreams and hunts or fights, thereby proving that his brain is repainting
a scene gone by.

I may describe a picture in words, and you will all see the image of it
vividly in your brains, thereby proving that you might reproduce it if
you had been trained. As I briefly describe some view in words, your
brains will have photographed the picture, for it is instantaneous work
with the brain; and the wondrous part of it all will be, that the
picture I describe and the picture I draw will not be as you think it is
going to be--at least, I cannot hope to be so vivid in my word-painting,
for every mind has its own way of calling up the pictures which we hear
or read about, each mind taking up its own standpoint, and seeing
differently the general aspect and self-constituted aspect.

In fancy I take up a piece of charcoal (the most delightful and freest
of all art work), and with a few dashes of my charred vine wand may
transport you to the balmy South, where ice the thickness of a sixpenny
piece is a sight to boast about, and mosquitoes are an incontestable
fact.

This piece of charcoal, which we take on faith to be the remains of a
vine stalk, even as I name it conjures up the vineyards I have seen, and
my memory is flung under avenues where the broad leaves and the purple
clusters hung down, and, interlacing, broke the intensity of the mid-day
glaring. I look down a clustering summit to a gleam of deep blue ocean
and snow-white strand beyond. This is what the word vine has done to me,
and something like this, or perhaps, if not so realistic, more
beautiful, would have been the mind-picture even if I had never actually
witnessed the vine lanes. Memory is brought into action in my case; in
yours, who may not have seen it all, it becomes the higher quality,
creation or imagination.

The human mind is the most perfect painter we can have, without a limit
to its invention or a stop to its rapidity--each word becomes a fixed
photograph, instantaneously drawn out in all its parts, and coloured to
the last hair-stroke.

You see it all, but take a pencil and try to make it corporeal. As you
sharpen the lead it is all there, vividly distinct; but while you are
thinking where to begin to reduce it into form, it becomes a slender
suggestion of dancing outlines--you dash in the first stroke, and it has
become an indefinite blurry mess.

That is our difficulty--the reader and myself--for I can see before me
just now a full round golden moon in the softest of green-grey hazes,
with the thrilling effect of the theatrical limelight all around it; not
a cloud in the misty atmosphere shows above that balloon-like ball; it
is lying light as a Chinese lantern on the exotic-freighted air;
floating over the dim film which represents a mountain in the mid
distance; pouring down a flood of white ripples on the river or lake;
making a mass of indistinct shadow under the tree roots--liquid shadow
where the water laps the winds, velvet shadow where the grasses and
plants are all mixed up; an ebony line of carving runs up the shafts of
the feathery-crowned palm and the bulby banana tree; a broad black fan
drops across the outer rim of that electric circle, as the banana leaf
quits the shelter of the broken shade-work and asserts its independence;
the tendrils are twisting about, but a pale sparkle alone reveals them;
the big spider is hanging from his lair, but a diamond point only shows
us where the dew is caught upon the gossamer web--all is breadth and
shadow, or glittering silver flame, but our hearts go into the shade
that is manifold, into the thickness of that impalpability, and our
nostrils drink in the swimming perfume of the lilies and trumpet tree;
and although it is but suggested, we can see the tracing of the palm
fringes overhead, we can feel the heat of that languid night.

To recapitulate. Dress for your own comfort, and you must please
everyone round about you. Eat for the sake of health--that is, eat to
live--and you will have sound teeth, sweet breath, and merry months.
Love will come to you early and stay long beside you, for years are only
grains of sand in the calculating glass of Cupid, if the hand which
holds it is steady and moist. Time limps, and an hour is lingering pain;
or else flies, and the brown locks change to silver in a song of joy.

[Illustration: THE AVENUE-HOBBEMA]



CHAPTER X

_SOME OF THE OLD MASTERS_

A CURSORY EXAMINATION


[Illustration: W]E will, in this chapter, take a quick run round the
walls of our great National Exhibition, at least round that portion of
it where the early masters of painting are at present represented.

I am going to give my impressions about those masterpieces which have
been secured by experts for the benefit and pride of the nation; speak
about them without any more reverence than the modern art critic might
talk about a Millais or a Leighton, or any other living master who by
reason of his body being still with us, and being still able to eat and
drink, places his work within reach of the everyday critic; and in this
spirit of independent impartiality I wish my readers to try to follow
me.

I intend to give to these old pictures all the praise that I can bestow
consistently with my own art knowledge, because being one of the owners
of them I do not wish to decry my own property. Indeed, as a painter I
should like to make every allowance for the faults of men who, coming
before the modern masters, had so many more technical difficulties to
overcome than their successors had at the start of their professional
education; but I wish to look at their works as the production of human
beings who lived in their own times as we do in ours; in fact, I want to
look straight at them, without regard for their names, and tell you, as
students, the pictures which are of the greatest value to you as well as
to me, and point out why, in my opinion, they are thus valuable.

Therefore, if you are not prepared to follow me in this spirit, you had
better read no more of this chapter, for I may shock your sensibilities
with my remarks. If you cannot look past the halo which Time has placed
round the head of Raphael, for instance, and view the man in the same
independent spirit in which you would look at the work of a man whom you
might meet any day in the street, do not go on, for I shall only rouse
in you a fury of scorn or indignant pity; and although I do not mind
personally being considered a presumptuous fool and iconoclast, still I
have no desire to lash anyone into fury or make him stain his soul by
hatred. I would rather keep the whole world happy and at peace with me
than rudely disturb the serenity of their pet delusions.

Still, in spite of my own inclination towards comfort, I must tell the
truth for the sake of those who wish to see things as they really are,
and not as they have been taught to believe they are. I will try to be
plain if terse, and while extolling the virtues, point out the smaller
vices, without considering my own private feelings in the matter.

For instance, I have been taught from my earliest years to regard
Raphael as removed beyond criticism, to accept all that came from his
brush as almost divine--himself as the perfect painter of perfect
pictures. Judge, then, and pity my feelings, when, with a temerity
approaching to the suicidal, I begin my critical and analytical remarks
with the picture which, 'by common consent, is considered to be one of
the most perfect pictures in the world,' as 'it is also one of the
noblest embodiments of Christianity.' I refer to the 'Ansidei Madonna,'
No. 1171,[16] purchased for the nation from the Duke of Marlborough for
70,000_l._: the highest-priced old master perhaps in existence.

Let us regard this great picture quietly for a few moments, and try, if
we can, to forget its price and its painter, while we analyse its
composition and other artistic qualities, i.e. bring it down to the
standpoint of a picture painted by a living artist, and exhibited, say,
in last year's Academy; for that is the way I am going to treat them
all, for the benefit of the student who may wish to copy them as well as
of the ordinary owner, who desires to learn why his representatives have
paid so much for his property.

From a decorative point of view I readily admit that this is a fine
work. As the design for an altar window, to be reproduced in stained
glass, it seems to be much more suitable than as it is at present,
inside a frame.

But it is not the finest picture in the world; it is not even the best
example of the same master that we have in the National Gallery; it is
greatly inferior as a painting to 'Pope Julius II.,' No. 27, which is,
in technique, the best work we have of Raphael's. It is not nearly so
good in its design as the Garvagh 'Madonna,' No. 744; nor in expression
can it be compared to the 'St. Catherine of Alexandria,' No. 168.

As a painting it is not a success; in design it is stiff and commonplace
in the extreme. The throne of the Virgin Mother is an ugly dividing blot
in the picture, allegorical although it may be in its accessories and
details; it is a hideous box which breaks the picture into three parts,
and utterly destroys all sense of unity and harmony. The emblems,
although freely enough painted, are forced and badly placed. The Virgin
Mother's face has no expression, unless it be that of inane contentment.
She is certainly not studying the book which she holds on her knee and
fingers so affectedly. The baby Christ is well painted and good as a
baby, but He is held with too careless and limp a hand by his
emotionless and expressionless mother.

I have no fault to find with the figure of the good Bishop Nicholas of
Bari; it is realistic and natural, and stands as a Bishop might stand if
reading aloud from his prayer-book to his congregation. But St. John the
Baptist is not nearly so satisfactory a piece of work; the position is
strained even for ecstatic contemplation; the advanced leg does not seem
to be connected enough with the body, and in its pose appears to be
pointed with the exaggerated attempt at grace of a dancing master;
therefore, although the general colouring is _pleasing_, and the
manipulation of detail easily managed, without too much minuteness and
labour, this picture is not a work which I would advise students to
copy, if they wish to cultivate good composition, perfect drawing, and
general unity.

As to its intrinsic value, I should price it at 8,000_l._ instead of
70,000_l._, because I do not think the best picture in the world is
intrinsically worth more than 10,000_l._, no matter how rare it may be
as a picture pure and simple. In consideration of its merits, which
certainly counterbalance its demerits, I would fix its price as it now
stands at 500_l._; but because it was painted by Raphael Santi, and
therefore has its value over and above its merits as a work of art, I
put it at the figure I have named--500_l._ for the picture and frame,
and 7,500_l._ for the name of the painter _and the antiquity of the
article_.

I limit the price of this work of art because, while the great bulk of
the nation, to whom this Raphael belongs, are writhing under the awful
ills of the direst poverty and affliction, it becomes us as units to
consider whether we have a right to spend so much money upon a single
picture with the starving owners of it all round us; to weigh it in the
balance and think whether the spiritual or artistic pleasure which the
contemplation of that work gives or may give to the educated masses is a
just and fair equivalent for the starving or slaughtered thousands which
the money that purchased it might have kept in comfort and life. If the
work of the ever-living Raphael is not sufficient equivalent for a
starved thousand or two, if it does not yield complete satisfaction to
all, in their every phase of contemplation, then I hold that the dead
and gone Raphael has cost the nation 62,000_l._ too much, which might
have been expended better in other art directions.

Personally, in spite of all that I have read in praise of it, this
picture does not give me complete satisfaction as an artist, and none
whatever as a devotionalist. Perhaps it may affect the general masses
differently, however.

Returning to my favourite, or, as I consider it, the best National
Gallery example of Raphael, 'Pope Julius II.,' this is a work of art
which may be examined by both artist and amateur with unqualified
pleasure and instruction. It ranks with such realistic masterpieces as
Rembrandt produced, and it is almost as unaffected as the 'Portrait of a
Tailor,' by Moroni, No. 697.

It is painted in a rich colour scheme of red; warm, ruddy complexion,
scarlet cap, and cape lined with white fur, and a soft, creamy under
robe of some woolly material, with red and gold tassels on the chair
behind. The hands and finger rings are splendidly painted, the
expression is masterly in its combination of power and repose. Anyone
can tell at a glance that this is a true likeness of the Pope, taken
when he had an hour of leisure, and faithfully reproduced without any
attempt to idealise. It is said not to be so well authenticated as some
of the other works by this painter, but for the purpose with which I now
write it is better than any of the others, and of most value as a study
for the copyist.

The Garvagh Raphael, 744, 'The Madonna, Infant Christ and St. John,' is
a picture not too dear at the price it was bought for, viz. 9,000_l._,
for it is well worth 2,000_l._ more than the 'Ansidei Madonna,' in
consideration of its superior composition, chiaroscuro, drawing, and
colour. It is all beautiful and human. The comely mother with two lovely
children beside her gives us the true divinity of holy maternity; the
landscape behind is deliciously and tenderly painted, and the only
blemish in the composition is that discordant and mannered pillar behind
the Madonna, placed there for the too obvious reason of throwing her
face, with that of Christ, into better relief, as in the Ansidei
picture, and, like it, spoiling the concord with its heaviness and the
stiff, stage-wing-like uniformity of the two windows behind.

168, 'St. Catherine of Alexandria,' is a sentimental study of a robust
and soft-handed young woman, with a sketchy background in umbery tones.
It looks like an experiment of Raphael's, and in pose is almost
grotesque in its lackadaisical rapture, yet it is finely painted as to
flesh tones and other details. So also is No. 269, 'The Vision of a
Knight,' which is, as an example of this painter at the age of
seventeen, positively marvellous; yet for all that, although the design
is good, and the composition freer than the general laws at the time
laid down, as a study for the young painter it is not good; it will make
him too easily satisfied with himself and with his drawing. Still, it
has its special interest to the painter, as revealing what Raphael could
do in his early student days.

My present task, however, is not to waste time going over the
indifferent works in the Gallery, but rather to point out, as they occur
to me, those masterpieces, the studying of which may educate the mind of
the outsider to whom Art is a mystic term, and advance the student in
his education as a painter.

I therefore turn from the formal and affected Ansidei to a picture which
at the present time is placed near at hand in the same room, as I think
it will make your minds rebound with real relief; at any rate, I know
that it will go far to educate you in the knowledge of what a good piece
of masterly work is. I refer to No. 1315, 'Admiral Adrian Pulido
Pareja,' by Velasquez.

For a full and sympathetic account of this great painter's work, the
student cannot do better than read 'Annals of the Artists of Spain,' by
Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, published by John C. Nimmo, in four vols.

This portrait comes upon us like a revelation of ease and masterly
handling. There is nothing like it in this respect in the whole Gallery;
indeed, it was considered so life-like when it was first painted that
King Philip mistook it for the man himself, and gave it a royal chiding
for wasting his time at Madrid. Sir Joshua Reynolds says of this master:
'What we are all attempting to do with great labour, Velasquez does at
once.'

I fix upon this portrait because the copyist will learn more from a
single figure than from a crowded composition, and the drawing out and
copying of this work will do more to make a master of him than any other
study.

It is like painting direct from nature, with a teacher of great
experience at your elbow to prompt you as to the right brushes and
colours to use. It is all fire, dash, and vigour, bold and free as the
best work of our own contemporary, James McNeill Whistler. The drawing
is perfect and the colours are nearly as brilliant as when they were
first put on. Here, as in the works of Shakespeare, we have the 'mirror
held up to nature.'

Opposite to this work in the present arrangement of the pictures we have
a companion as to size and quality, although not quite so simply
treated, No. 1316, 'An Italian Nobleman,' by Moroni--the painter of the
most perfectly natural portrait in the National Gallery, No. 697,
'Portrait of a Tailor.'

In the 'Italian Nobleman' the quality is so good and unforced, the art
so covered up, unobtrusive, and natural, that the student is apt to
begin copying without considering the difficulties before him; therefore
I would advise him or her to turn first to the Tailor's portrait before
he tackles this less perfect, yet more difficult, 'Nobleman.'

This, the Tailor portrait, looks at you to-day as quietly and modestly
as if still waiting for your instructions, with his shears in his hand,
as the original must have done more than three hundred years ago; it is
so highly finished in all its details, so perfect in its expression and
pose, and, as I have said, so undemonstrative on the part of the master,
that one is apt not to wonder he had no honour in his own country. It
takes a painter of some experience to appreciate Moroni properly, as
Titian did, although ordinary spectators will hardly pass it over
without saying 'How natural!'

The other pictures of this rarely gifted master all bear the same
stamp-mark of matchless workmanship and power of depicting character:
No. 1023, 'Portrait of an Italian Lady,' in red satin dress; 742,
'Portrait of a Lawyer,' in black velvet; 1024, 'Portrait of an Italian
Ecclesiastic;' and 1022, 'Portrait of an Italian Nobleman.' While the
student may satisfy his cravings with that likeness of 'Pope Julius
II.,' No. 27, and perhaps one of Raphael's infants, he cannot do better
for himself than take the whole of the Moroni works, and follow up with
what he can get of Velasquez.

While giving these hints to students about single subjects, I will run
over those heads or portraits which have mostly impressed me as being
more or less useful to take in this course of study for their special
qualities, after which I shall take up some of the larger compositions,
and finish up with the old landscape and seascape painters.

No. 852, the 'Chapeau de Poil,' by Rubens. For ease and strong
colouring, as well as expression, this is one of the best for a young
artist who _has experience enough_ with his brush to paint it quickly.
You may labour with improvement upon the portraits of Moroni, but you
must work quickly and decidedly when you attempt to reproduce Velasquez
or Rubens.

There are two portraits which I have always been fascinated with for
their delicacy of execution. One is 585, 'Portrait of Isotta da Rimini,'
by Piero della Francisca, and the other 'The Doge Leonardo Loredano,'
No. 189, by Giovanni Bellini.

Both have been painted about the same period, at least within the same
century, the fifteenth, and are distinguished by their high and minute
finish and tenderness of outline; they are both well worth copying.

The 'Ecce Homo,' No. 271, of Guido Reni, is a good study of pain, and
also good for the copyist because of its free and sketchy execution; it
ought to be copied, as it was painted, in one working. Thus, the student
who desires to be successful in his work ought to study the original
well, and determine, _if he possibly can_, how many workings the master
took to complete his work. In this case, Guido Reni began and finished
his sketch at one sitting, meaning it only as a rough study for some
larger work. Rubens did a number of his in the same method; indeed, if
the artist is decided enough about his effects and intentions, he will
endeavour to finish his work as far as possible in the one working, for
oil-painting, like fresco-painting, is apt to look hard, artificial, and
waxy, if worked over too much; in water-colour the artist need not
place any limit to his different workings.

The best and richest colourists, with perhaps the exception of
Rembrandt, finished as they went along, particularly in the flesh
portions. The drapery and accessories may be retouched without so much
damage, but excepting those masters who cultivated and depended upon the
art of glazing,[17] most of the best men finished their backgrounds and
draperies before they touched the figures, i.e. their pupils did all
that was in those days considered subordinate parts, and left the flesh
for the masters to do at the last: a great mistake on the part of the
masters.

The other pictures of Guido Reni are not worth much consideration. His
'The Magdalen,' 177, is a fascinating study for young people, as it is
intensely sentimental, with lavish masses of fair hair floating about,
while the face expresses a sweet abandonment of _large-eyed_ sorrow. I
am afraid that I must echo John Ruskin's sweeping verdict on his
'Susannah and the Elders,' and say also that it is 'a work devoid alike
of art and decency.'

The 'Portrait of Himself,' 690, by Andrea del Sarto, is a piece of rich,
quiet colouring and fine drawing; so also is his other example. No. 17,
'The Holy Family.' He was counted one of the faultlessly correct
painters of his age, and his pictures command high prices. They are
excellent alike in tone and the other academical qualities which are
useful to young painters who aim rather at mastering the technical
difficulties of their art than the imitating of style; therefore, I
recommend this portrait particularly as an early subject before
grappling with such overpowering masters as Rembrandt, Velasquez,
Murillo, or Moroni.

For a young artist wishing to form a good manner on the old masters
before he takes to the new, I would recommend him to take as a course
the following masters in the order in which I place them. Begin with Fra
Filippo Lippi. I do not mean the whole of his compositions, but a few of
the solitary figures. Take next that spiritual and melancholy picture,
No. 275, 'The Virgin and Child,' &c., by Sandro Filipepi Botticelli, and
copy it all through carefully, particularly the _soft, yet artificial,
outlines_ which he gives.

Take next the Venus in that splendid masterpiece by Angelo Bronzino, No.
651, 'All is Vanity.' I do not know anywhere in the whole National
Gallery a picture where the flesh tones on a nude figure are more
perfectly painted. There is hardly any shadow at all about this figure,
and hardly any positive colour, yet the flesh stands out voluptuously
and softly, and the drawing is exquisite.

Next take Moroni, whom I have already described, and after working at
him conscientiously, release yourselves by taking up Murillo and
Correggio--his 'Mercury instructing Cupid in the presence of Venus,' No.
10. Rubens, copy just a little. Velasquez, copy the whole of his
examples, and lastly try Rembrandt. You may then study one or two of the
living masters, if you think fit, _and have the time_. If you have
worked conscientiously with the earlier masters and in the spirit of the
later ones, I can trust your own judgment to choose which modern man you
are inclined to follow for a little while; but if you have got the gift
of the true painter in you at all, after the course which I have
prescribed, I expect you will dash along and try for academical honours,
without any further delay, by aiming at originality; for amongst the
mighty circle whom I have mentioned you will have discovered a style all
your own, and I predict that it will be a good style.

Hans Holbein, the younger, is a fine man to copy if you wish to get a
firm grip of your subject: there is little or no sentiment about him,
but what he saw he painted with fidelity and care. No. 1314, 'The Two
Ambassadors,' is a picture which is not only interesting as a painting,
but also for the uncouth historical object which occupies the centre of
the foreground, a kind of _ex libris_ puzzle, meaning the painter's
name, which does not improve the painting as a work of art, even
although Shakespeare does mention it, or puzzles of the like
description. It appears to me unworthy of any painter to spoil his
picture with such a childish mystery as this elongated or distorted
projection of a human skull, hollow-bone, or _hohl bein_ represents.

I do not pretend that this is a great picture--none of Holbein's are.
Henry the Eighth was a man of strong material tendencies, who liked
things tangible, and who was without a particle of imagination,
tenderness, or ideality in his composition, and therefore this German
materialist exactly suited him. Hans painted men and women as he saw
them, without attempting much in the way of grouping or posing; he
painted them hard and fast in their extravagant costumes, with all their
family jewelry upon them, and as many accessories round them as he could
possibly cram in, because he loved to work and did not think to spare
himself a week or two longer of patient energy, care, and labour; but
he painted well what he did paint; therefore I recommend him to the
young student who is disposed to become ambitious, Frenchy, dashy, and
careless before he has learnt how much, or rather how little, his
brushes can do to bring his ideal to fruition.

In 'The Two Ambassadors' the student will find all sorts of articles
crammed in for the purpose of giving the painter something more to do.
He had no higher aspiration than his august master had, therefore he
exactly suited him, but he possessed the talent of infinite patience;
and so I offer you Hans Holbein as the best mechanical workman of his
country. He is a typical German in the hardy sense, as much as his
countryman, Albert Dürer, was in another and a loftier sense; for they
are, like the Scotch, either sure or hard-headed materialists or else
seers and dreamers: often both combined.

We turn from hard Holbein to Murillo with a sigh of relief. We have done
our dry-as-dust task; now let us take our fill of solid pleasure, of
which there is no let in the works which this painter has given us: 'A
Spanish Peasant Boy,' 74; 'St. John and the Lamb,' 176; 'The Birth of
the Virgin,' 1257; and 'Boys Drinking,' 1287. I like all his pictures,
but I like his boy best of all; in fact, if you want good solid
practical painting--stuff which will help you on in life, and give you
real comfort as a painter or as a looker-on--go either to the Dutchmen
or the Spaniards.

Look at that kneeling figure, 'A Franciscan Monk,' 230, by Francisco
Zurbaran, for chiaroscuro and bluff power; 'The Dead Christ,' 235, by
Spagnoletto, for vigour and strength of touch; 'The Dead Warrior,' 741,
by Velasquez. Could any man want to paint better?

For the Dutch and Flemish, turn to Gallery XII., and be satisfied that
you have got real men to deal with and to copy, instead of flimsy
Italian sentimentalists, like the Church-bred early masters.

Take Teniers, with his delicious silvery tones and crisp touch, the man
who paid his dinner with a picture, and painted his picture first while
the dinner was cooking: compare David Wilkie with him, and see how David
Wilkie shrivels up with heat before the cool tones of David Teniers the
younger. Consider Cuyp, with his precise touch; Van Eyck, the father of
oils, with his quaint mediævalism and patient symbolism; Weyden, as in
653, with his rigid adherence to facts; Quintin Matsys, with his hard
high finish; Rubens, the lavish and exuberant; Vandyke, the refined;
Gerard Dow, with his exquisite delicacy; Frans Hals, with his vigorous
handling and open colouring; and lastly, the greatest master of all, the
immortal Rembrandt, whom, for his portraits, chiaroscuro, colour, and
vigour, I cannot find words to praise enough.

No one has a right to speak as an art critic about pictures unless he
can paint a picture himself, or at least is able to copy faithfully the
picture which he criticises.

I trust that I may say, by way of apology for my present free criticism,
without being carped at as a vain boaster, that I have painted original
pictures in landscape, seascape, and composition. I can also say that I
have copied some of the masters whom I recommend, and can copy any
picture ever painted, provided I have the leisure; and also I can tell
you, after I have copied a picture carefully, exactly how the master
painted his picture, the number of times he worked over it, and
sometimes also not only the time he took to do it, but also his moments
of hesitation and inspiration, depression and artistic exultation. But
before I can tell you all these secrets about the mystic dead, I must
first study his work by copying it; it would be only guesswork were I to
content myself with looking at his canvas or panel; and what I am unable
to do with my long and extensive training as a painter, I defy any
non-painting art-critical dilettante to be able to do. John Ruskin
qualified himself as an art critic by learning to draw and paint, and
when bigotry or bilious bad temper does not interfere with his critical
vision, he stands, and must for ever stand, pre-eminent amongst art
critics. No human being, however gifted he may be, is able to see
colours or any other merit in either a picture or a book when he has a
fit of indigestion or dyspepsia. The blue appears green, the clouds
heavy, the firm lines shaky, the composition vile, the chiaroscuro
gloomy, and the general colours dirty and unsatisfactory. A proper pill
taken in time by the critic has often saved the reputation of the
painter, poet, or novelist. As one patent medicine advertisement has
announced, with a wisdom which should go far with sensible thinkers to
recommend the drug: 'Dyspepsia leads more often to the divorce court
than vice.'

To return, however, from these reflections to Rembrandt, the master whom
I am at present examining. We have fourteen examples of this
art-Shakespeare in our Gallery at present, and I only wish that we had
an apartment devoted entirely to him, as we have to Turner. I should
have been well content, and should never have uttered a word about the
indigent poor, had the 70,000_l._ been spent on Rembrandts, and the
'Ansidei Madonna' still remained in the Marlborough or some other
private gallery, because I think that the British public would then have
had better value for its money.

I will grant at once that his drawing is abominable in his larger
compositions and his figures taken _individually_ are undignified and
often even ludicrous, or rather they would be all this in any other
painter who had not his scheme of chiaroscuro and colour-intentions, but
with him I would not have them altered. As they are, they all go to
complete the harmony; indeed, I believe that he gave them this grotesque
appearance intentionally, because his portraits prove that no man could
draw more perfectly, as no other man could use the brushes as he could.

No. 51, 'Portrait of a Jew Merchant,' three-quarter length; 166, 'A
Capuchin Friar;' 190, 'A Jewish Rabbi;' 221, 'His own Portrait;' 237, 'A
Woman's Portrait;' 243, 'An Old Man;' 672, 'His own Portrait' (1640);
775, 'An Old Woman' (1634); 850, 'A Man's Portrait:' all these portraits
are so splendid in their qualities, and appeal at once so strongly to
the sympathies of artists and ordinary sightseers, that I must leave
them to speak for themselves. You look into the frames as through a
window into a shady room, and see the living characters sitting before
you; the texture of their clothing is reality rather than realism; there
is no attempt on the part of the painter to assert himself; he has
buried himself in his subject.

As for the skill involved in all this unaffected simplicity, begin to
copy one of these portraits, and you will find out a portion of it, and
as you finish off with your glazings then you will look vainly into your
colour-box for browns and siennas and lakes to get at that translucent
depth, and at your colour lists with dissatisfaction. This master will
be too much for you to penetrate through all his films, yet rest content
if you are able to dive a little way below the surface without stirring
up the mud. James McNeill Whistler alone has been able to approach
Rembrandt in his etching qualities; no one _yet_ has been able to come
near him in his wonderful shadows, except George Paul Chalmers.

Yet we must not forget that Time has to be taken into consideration with
much of the depth and richness of the old masters. With paint we may,
after a measure, imitate a painter as he left his picture when finished;
but Time, the constant worker, has put on subtle gradations of glazings
which no madder or brown can imitate, and this must be your consolation.

Before leaving the portraits I must call your attention to Vandyke's
masterpiece in this walk--52, 'Portrait of a Gentleman,' a head only,
therefore we are not aggravated by the display of any of those
unnaturally refined hands which disfigure so many of his full-lengths;
this portrait may take its place with any other likeness in the world.

We have nothing of Michael Angelo Buonarroti in the form of painting
worth looking twice at in the Gallery; he did not like oils and he did
not succeed with that vehicle.

Leonardo da Vinci is represented by one specimen, 1093, 'Our Lady of the
Rocks.' It is a heavy but fine piece of work, and well composed--all
excepting the rocks, which are not good.

698, 'The Death of Procris,' is a masterly study of a satyr; the other
portions of this picture are also fine, particularly the landscape
behind.

There are two specimens of Tiepolo, Nos. 1192 and 1193, sketches for
altar-pieces, than which no works in the Gallery are more useful to the
young painter. His scheme of colour is low-toned and restrained, yet
delightfully good and pure, while his handling is masterly and free.

Tintoretto and Titian come next; the latter is the most lavishly
represented, and the former not seen at his best, even in the three
specimens we have, yet they are worth looking at. Titian of course is
always masterly, both in his landscape and in his figures. Tintoretto
unfortunately was forced by necessity to paint too many pot-boilers, and
his fame suffers accordingly.

Amongst the many masterpieces in the Gallery, for majestic composition
or fine colouring, I place Fra Filippo Lippi's 'Vision of St. Bernard,'
248; 'The Circumcision of Christ,' 1128, by Luca Signorelli; 'Venus and
Adonis,' 34, by Titian; 'The Crucifixion,' 1107, by Niccolo of Fuligno;
'The Marriage of St. Catherine,' by Lorenzo da San Severino; 'The Virgin
and Child, with Saints and Angels,' 1103, by Fiorenzo di Lorenzo (I name
this early painting for its exquisite decorative qualities and its
harmonious combination of carving, gold and paint, as well as for the
general design); 'Bacchus and Ariadne,' No. 35, by Titian; 'Mercury,
Venus, and Cupid,' No. 10, by Correggio, for its fine drawing and
colour; 'San Arnolfina and his Wife,' No. 186, by Jan van Eyck, for its
minute detail and realism; 'The Virgin and Child,' 274, by Mantegna;
'Madonna and Child, with Saints,' 1119, by Ercole de Giulio Grandi,
another rich and decorative combination of gold leaf, colour, and
carving; 'Christ at the Column,' 1148, by Velasquez; 'The Nursing of
Hercules,' 1313, by Tintoretto; and 'The Raising of Lazarus,' by
Sebastiano del Piombo and Michael Angelo, No. 1. This last picture is
one of the most vigorous in design and execution in the whole Gallery.

About the landscape-work of the old masters there is not very much to be
said, as they are mostly conventional, and were painted in the studio
from studies; therefore, nature was always falsified and improved (?)
upon.

Hobbema ranks first amongst the old landscape painters for fresh, pure
colour, and close adherence to nature. 'The Avenue, Middelharnis,' 830,
is as fine a piece of work as any modern work; it is true and rigid to
facts, with a fine command of drawing, perspective and colour--one of
the few landscapes really worth copying in the Gallery.

Salvator Rosa is perhaps one of the most spontaneous amongst these early
landscapists, and the most reckless. He painted a picture at the one
working, and composed a poem afterwards by way of relaxation, and
although almost as exaggerated and theatrical in his effects as Gustave
Doré, yet his works have an appearance of nature about them, even if it
is nature convulsed, which is often lacking about the manufactured
efforts of his contemporaries, Claude Lorraine and Gaspard Poussin.
'Mercury and the Woodman,' 84; 'Tobias and the Angel,' 811; and 'A River
Scene,' 935, are fair examples of this vigorous artist and versifier.
That of 'Mercury and the Woodman' I like the best. Gaspard Poussin ranks
between Salvator Rosa and Claude, not because he was not so good a
workman, but because he was not so original in his style as either. His
two best examples in the Gallery are 'The Sacrifice of Isaac,' 31, and
'A Land Storm,' 36. 'Dido and Æneas taking shelter from the Storm,' 95,
is also a fine work.

Everyone who admires Turner must certainly honour Claude Lorraine; and
as I am one of those admirers, I look upon the earlier painter of
sunsets, classical temples, and artistically arranged trees with much
interest. He does not, of course, paint atmosphere; only one master did
this properly, and that was Turner, but he presents to us a placid and
smiling world which promotes comforting thoughts of rest and joy, and so
I give him all due honour as a pretty landscape painter and also an
original master. What he did came from his own invention, and if Turner
painted better, that was only because he commenced where Claude, his
first master, had left off.

The 'Landscape with Figures,' 12, and 'Seaport with the Embarkation of
the Queen of Sheba,' 14, are two of Claude's best examples. Turner was a
daring man to risk the test of Time with the four pictures; at present
his two look the best, but in another hundred years, while Claude's will
still appear almost as fresh, Turner's will have vanished, as all his
pictures must, and leave only a few stains and cracks behind. So much
for the modern masters when they try to compete with their manufactured
tube colours against the wise men of old, who ground their own paints,
studied the chemistry of colours, and knew how to prepare their own
canvases. A century after this, readers of old books will wonder what
John Ruskin meant by praising Turner so extravagantly, when they go down
to the vaults where the Trustees are vainly trying to keep the remains
of those fugitive masterpieces, by secluding them from the light, while
Claude Lorraine will still hang on in his old places, calm, fresh, sunny
and metallic. So much for atmosphere against artifice.

[Illustration: HARMONY]



CHAPTER XI

_THE SACRED AND THE COMIC SIDES OF ART_


PART I.--THE SACRED SIDE OF ART

[Illustration: Y]OU have doubtless all seen a photograph of that fine
head of our Saviour by Gabriel Max, illustrative of the legend of St
Veronica. The story tells us that Veronica wiped the face of Christ with
her napkin as He passed along cross-laden, blood-stained, mud-stained,
and sweating to Calvary, and in token of her kindness the Lord left the
impression of that world-wasted face upon the napkin.

It is a beautiful legend, and Gabriel Max has illustrated it as, without
exception, no man before him ever did.

The dimness and uncertainty have aided the painter's conception. It is
not so much a face as the shadow of a face which is presented to us--the
shadow of a lamb-like face, full of infinite meekness and patience,
dirty and wounded, with masses of hair draggled and stuck with the blood
which has trickled down the brow and cheeks to that indefinite beard.

This, to me, constitutes the great charm of this masterly work; that the
painter has left to the spectator the task of embodying this divine
shade.

The trick about the eyes is the weak and common portion of an otherwise
matchless work of subtlety. It may please the people, and make a
multitude of inartistic minds marvel at the cleverness of the illusion,
but it is only a small trick at the best, and unworthy the mind which
could conceive and execute all the rest.

Sacred art, from the specimens I have seen, has not yet fulfilled its
aim or intention. Those Madonnas of Raphael are only pretty women
nursing their babies; that is, if you can tear down the mystery and
veneration which time has thrown about those dead masters and darkened
masterpieces; so perhaps it is as well not to dwell at length upon olden
art, which represented sacred art, but to come to my present purpose,
which is art sacred, or the sacredness of art as a life calling.

I have often wondered whether there are many young men or women showing
pictures in exhibitions who think seriously upon the calling they are
devoting themselves to; do they think upon the duties before them, and
the obligations they are binding themselves to fulfil?

To be a painter means a great deal more than to have learned the
blending of a few harmonies, the proportions of a model, or some years
of outline practice; more than sitting down before an object and
reproducing it faithfully, as far as the outward eye sees. It means the
subduing of self, and the taking up of a daily cross; the following of
an ideal in spite of all obstacles, jeers, laughter, or pity.

It does not mean to be able to sell well to the public or to dealers, as
any clever mechanic can learn to paint to sell: you have only to acquire
the fashion and the trickery of the trade, which, with a little
practice, will make you popular.

Sacred art means patience--not that patience which is composed of
pitiful detail or painstaking, but the patience which will make you
follow out your ideal, regardless of all consequences.

This is where young artists err in taking to the brush. A little
dexterity is acquired, and they imagine that they are done, and able to
criticise all and sundry.

I generally know a novice from an earnest seeker after the truth. The
beginner laughs outright at first sight, and the learned student looks
and probes; the intention being gravely weighed in the balance with the
execution, and the worker getting all the benefit of the doubt.

When an artist first begins to tread his journey (after he has left
school, I mean), it has mostly a very pleasant and sunny appearance. Of
course he can draw and copy casts nearly as well as the master, a great
deal more neatly than most artists who are half-way down the road; all
the maxims are fresh in his memory, with the colour blendings, which he
has learnt by rule.

Hope sits lightly in his heart, because he has one or two commissions,
or perceives the distant promise of a few. So the morning sky above him
arches without a cloud, and the early rays are falling slantingly upon
countless diamonds at his feet.

There is a valley in front of him (but that is far off), a place of
darkness, where high rocks are cleft to meet again overhead so that the
sunlight cannot pierce through the gloom; a place of skulls--the
Golgotha of the painter--where the armour of conceit is broken into
pieces and left amongst the wreckage with which the place is strewn.

Those who come out of this valley of humiliation live on for ever
afterwards grave men, who look more after their own imperfections than
the faults of their neighbours.

Countless hordes rush into the darkness and are never seen again; the
bones of some whiten there, pits on the roadside swallow up others,
while others again get into false tracks and are never able to retrace
their steps.

A number shirk it and go by this side backwards, as happy in their
ignorance and foolish laughter as when they began so hopefully.

And the world is so blind that it consents to honour and pay those
shirkers, oftentimes better than it does those grave survivors of the
black valley.

When the artist first begins his pursuit he ought to begin with the high
sense that his profession is a calling, and that he is the eye-preacher
of beauty as the pastor is the ear-preacher of religion; he must go out
with the intention always to do his very best in his own natural way,
for no other man's habit of walking will do for him.

To be a painter is a great pleasure and a great pain; pleasure in the
summer, when the sun is ripening the pale golden ears of corn, and the
painter walks out amongst the lights and shadows, the fresh air and the
singing of birds, and, fixing upon something beautiful, sits down to
listen to the divine concert and sketch it all in--the _music_ and the
magic changes of Mother Earth; pleasure when he gets up in the
night-time, thralled with his great idea, yet unborn, and labours to
bring it out--those gracious hours of ecstasy when the charcoal smudges
over the paper, and the brain is reeling with the intoxication of the
Creator.

                _IMAGINATION_

    Gift of God to erring mortal, promise of a life divine,
    When the creature is admitted to that awful inner shrine;
    There is naught of earth remaining, kings and princes hedged about
    With divinity the circle, leaving lesser beings out.
    Gifted with the Maker's magic, out of nothing they create
    Crowded earths which rise before them, void, until they animate.
    They are passed in scorn or pity, beggars in their fellows' eyes.
    What are rags and empty purses when to heights like these they rise?

For alas! with this gift comes too often _tactlessness_, a glorious
capacity to build castles in the air, with a most deplorable incapacity
of being able to reduce those splendid edifices to any marketable value.

When the artist has laboured at his idea until it takes a form, not
quite the matchless creation he dreamt, but as nearly approaching to it
as his skill or paints can come, a glow of unearthly passion and
wonderment at his own work comes over him; he has caught something more
than he dreamt about, even although it be not quite so fair; for the
vague indefinite is always more perfect than the embodied reality. He
looks at his work with awe and wonderment.

                _SOUL_

    Yes! the image is completed, every feature there is caught,
    Death is conquered, and immortal we have made it out of naught;
    And from that strange spark within us, that strange spark of inner fire,
    It is like ourselves, immortal, it can grovel or aspire.
    What is that which we have given it? something that we cannot tell,
    Something of a life beyond us, for we feel it oft rebel;
    Something thrilling, something noble, something leading to a goal,
    Ours--and yet beyond explaining, call it Heart or call it Soul.

The artist wonders at himself, and, with the excitement, sees past the
form to the ideal. It is like a draught of nectar to him, that Olympian
wine which made the gods mad in the pleasant court of old Jove.

                _ADORATION_

    I have made it. Have I made it? It is noble, it is good.
    It seems perfect, can I wonder that it is not understood?
    There were pangs in its out-coming, efforts of the clouded Will,
    But it forced its way to being, all my frame is trembling still.

    I have made it. Have I made it? Can the _wish_ engender power?
    I am humble, yet adore it; it was in me scarce an hour.
    I but yielded up volition, not one effort did it cost,
    Only pangs of indecision when I feared the thought was lost.

He is exhausted with the effort and goes to bed, sleeping a dreamless
sleep, while the dormant mind sobers down; and now comes the hour of
reaction and icy pain, when he rises changed and cool to review the
fevered work of yesterday. Reflection sets in, and he tastes of the cup
of doubt and despair.

                _REFLECTION_

    From the clouds we have descended, time hath cooled our fevered brains,
    Reason pounces on her victim, rivets round him iron chains,
    Pointing out each imperfection with a finger tipped in ice,
    Jeering tells him his creation cannot bear the looking twice,
    Sets him up, his harshest critic; now the labour has begun,
    Hours of thinking, watching, working, when the spirit part is done,
    Timid touches, happy chances, beatings of the fearful heart;
    First creation, second motion, then the patient tricks of art.

Last state, repose. When he has done his very utmost, listened to the
opinions of doubtful friends, with friendly and hostile critics; when he
has altered and re-altered as far as _he_ possibly dare go, he lays down
his brush with a defiant gasp, dogged in his resolve to spoil it no
further, deaf to any further suggestions; he is as contented as his
sacred but exacting art will permit him to be.


                _REPOSE_


    It is finished, all imperfect, but it is our very best,
    We can come no nearer Nature, here are all our sins confess'd.
    If we spent another hair-stroke something precious would be lost,
    Ye that see it but a second cannot reckon up the cost.
    'Twas an altar of the passions, burning hopes were offered up,
    Prayers and fastings followed after, we drank deep from sorrow's cup.
    Through dark hours of cold affliction, from sharp thorns we
      pulled the rose;
    Marvel you at our assurance, at the pride of our repose?

Unfriendly critics are not much trouble to a true painter; he hears them
talk with the consciousness that he will benefit from their jeers when
they jeer with discretion, and be able to trip them up when they display
their ignorance. The public, not appreciative, does not move him much
either, further than he has the gaunt wolf to keep back, and must study
their wishes so that they may help him to kill this monster. What is his
great grief and tribulation?--the inner voice which tells him every step
of the way that he is so far behind, that he has so much to learn and
so little time to learn it in. Every picture he sees by another artist
seems so much better than his last picture, that his life would be a
constant misery if it were not for those poetic visions and sunny hours
of open-air exercise.

To be able to paint a tree or a street or a face does not fulfil all the
mission of sacred art. It demands more. Nature, which for ever changes,
demands from her votaries constant change of subject and constant change
of treatment, and the hour which finds the painter contented with what
he has learnt, and satisfied to go on reproducing his effects, finds him
a hopeless invalid as far as art-progress is concerned. Like the poet,
he must go on, go upwards for ever; for nothing can remain stationary
either in this or the next world; if we do not climb upwards we are
bound to descend. As Buddha tells us:

'The devils in the under worlds wear out deeds that were wicked in an
age gone by. Nothing endures.'

We must go on, or _go out_, go on searching after purity and elevation
and beauty in its highest sense; not the beauty of an inane face or
fashion-plate figure, not even the ideal beauty of the Greeks, but the
beauty to which we are most adapted in each stage of progression as we
mount toward the infinite.

                _BEAUTY_

    What is Beauty? the perfection of the type it represents,
    And the true fulfilment of the picture that the mind contents.
    It is in the babbling streamlet, with its birch and fern-lined strands,
    It is in the factory chimney which against the cloud gaunt stands,
    In the blasted trunk that fork-like rears its bleached bare arms on high,
    Framing sedgy moors and uplands past soft tones that melt in sky.
    Nestling in the yellow short-gown, couched in costly wreaths of lace,
    In the heart, voice, walk, and gesture, more than in the form or face.

The painter must work out his own redemption in this pursuit of the
beautiful. No imitation of the beauty of another will help him; his
sense must be innate and out-coming; from him the well must spring which
has to quench the thirst of nations--living water and quenchless
fire--to flow on and light on, long after his own creative powers have
ended. As Buddha again tells us:

'Ask not from the silence, for it cannot speak; vex not your mournful
minds with pious pains. Ah! brothers, sisters, seek naught from the
helpless gods by gift or hymn, nor bribe with blood, nor feed with fruit
and cakes. Within yourselves deliverance must be sought. Each man his
prison makes.'

As I have said, the beginning of painting is very easy. A straight line
done fairly well, drawn with the full comprehension of the mind, and a
flowing hand which can pause and run on at will, the knowledge of the
rainbow colours and blendings, are the alphabet of the artist.
Afterwards, as he grows in stature, his wants and wishes grow in
proportion; and the nearer we seem (to the eyes of those behind us) to
be approaching the goal, Perfection, the farther away it is from us.

To the public, for whose instruction and pleasure the artists paint, I
would fain close this by saying just a few words. Beware how you are
satisfied with a picture; misjudge your own eyes when they are gratified
only. Is the painted cornfield exactly like the cornfields you have
seen? Is it a _dead_ or a _living_ portrait of the corn-ears? Has the
painter, in letting go the exact facsimile, not given you something
beyond and better--the motion and soul of that cornfield?

Are those eyes exactly like the eyes of the one you love or mourn for?
They may be the exact shape and size and shade, but are they the eyes
you used to look into and let out your soul after? Or has the painter
been careless about the shape or shade or size, and yet given you a
gleam of the heart-longings that cling to your heart-longings with
unseen angel-claspings?

Weigh it all carefully, whether you want the shape and number of the
houses in the home of your childhood, or the indefinite thrill which
shall wake into the active music of long ago. Do you want the cold clay
that is lying under the senseless stones, or the spirit which is
hovering about you still?

This is the mission of sacred art--to teach us to be better and not to
go back; to bring us from the fierce chasing after the world, and make
us forget the golden links we are striving to forge for the sinking of
our manhood or womanhood; to tell us how the nations long ago lived and
loved and laboured, and now lie dead in spite of all their pomp, as we
shall be in spite of all our hankerings after what is ours no longer
than a day of Time.

To give us gleams of sunshine and green fields and cooling streams, when
we are parched by the dust of the streets.

To give us glimpses into the wisdom of innocence, when we are blinded by
guilt and shame and crusted selfishness.

To give us glowings of chivalry and patriotism, when we are forgetting
all these inspirations in the ignorance of this book philosophy.

To make us more merciful to the poor and unfortunate, the maimed in mind
as well as body; to make us love all as our brothers and sisters, no
matter what their faults may be.

'Living pure, reverent, patient, pitiful, loving all things that live,
even as themselves, letting unkindness die, and greed and
wrath.'--Buddha.

This is the mission of our sacred art--to educate each soul, painters
and people; to subdue the self that is now dominant, and plant the other
on its throne; to make men and women of us all, in the highest, truest,
grandest sense.


PART II.--THE COMIC SIDE OF ART

Art is many-sided, but with the exception of one, or perhaps two, of the
sides, all the rest are comic.

Viewed from the outside, that is, the standpoint of the buyer and the
critic, the ludicrousness of it is almost appalling. It would be tragic
in the intensity of its farcical characters, even as a very hearty laugh
sometimes will cause sudden death by choking, were it not for the shades
of the pitiful or contemptible which relieve it of the load of laughter,
and change the downward curve of the broad grin into a decided upward
smiling termination.

I dare say you will think my subject should be composed of illustrations
from Cruikshank, Gillray, Leech, and other masters of the comic muse,
and so it ought to be, perhaps, and for that very reason I do not feel
inclined to treat it so. I do not like to see ladies dress all by the
month's fashion-plates, whether it suits them or not, nor men do exactly
the things expected of them. Where would be those delightful throbs of
surprise if it were not for the tangent starts of the unconfined
lunatics who pass for men and women of talent on this very superficial,
thin-crusted globe of ours?

One of the most amusing sides of art is the method people have of
judging a picture.

Say an old gentleman with his wife and two or three daughters come by
mistake into an exhibition with the catalogue of some other exhibition
in their possession. They glance at a picture, and fall into raptures
over it: 'Beautiful, the _feeling_ is delightful. What force of touch,
strength of character! Who is it by? Number So-and-So. Ah! I knew it.'
(The number in the wrong catalogue points to a well-known name.) 'I felt
that I could not be mistaken.' (The old gentleman adjusts his glasses
and looks at the title with triumphant conviction.) 'Odd title, though,
for the subject; eccentricity of genius, I suppose. No matter, it is
splendid. Quite Dutch-like in its subtlety; quite Israely in its
character; delicate, refined, realistic, bold, masterly!'

One of the daughters, blessed with keener vision, has here discovered
another signature on the corner of this masterpiece, a name not in the
fashion, in fact one despised. 'Papa, it isn't by Mr. Smudge, R.A.; it
is by Ernest Tyro.'

'Eh! what? Nonsense! why, the catalogue says Smudge.' The mistake is
discovered, and at once the tune changes. 'Ah! vulgar, coarse,
commonplace. Let us go out before we are contaminated.'

Now, this is the comic part of it, with a dash of the pitiful. What
difference did that signature make in the merit of the picture? If it
was delicate, refined, bold, masterly before, how could it be vulgar,
coarse, or commonplace afterwards?

A man with piles of money to spend and a moderate modicum of brains
gets hauled into the artistic stream, and goes gasping and spluttering
around, spending his money on what he knows nothing about, and never
will while God blesses him with cash, and his tongue can patter cant.
Somebody takes him kindly in hand and educates him, as Buchanan did
James VI.; he raves about the painter he has been taught to consider the
master.

'Look at it! what colour, what masterly brush-marks. Did you ever see
the like of that?'

Never, except in a white-washer with his broad brush, or a scavenger
sweeping a crossing.

In his natural state he may get a picture which he can comprehend,
because the houses are like the houses he sees every day, and the trees
have branches and leaves definitely painted on them; that picture
represented Nature as he saw her, therefore he considered it good. But
under training he is taught to despise this sort of thing, and
obediently despises it; the old love is turned out or with its face to
the wall, and the splashes which have neither form nor finish are doted
upon. Would this man care to have a wife without a nose or with
indefinite features? Would he be charmed with the colour of a mashed-up
bit of flesh? It is all right enough for musicians to rave over the
sweetness of a piece of catgut, but the world wants to hear the whole
tune, and what we as artists know to be good quality is comical
affectation on their part.

Artists are no exception in this curious alteration of opinion. I have
heard artists shouting with contemptuous laughter over a picture,
calling it rubbish, and crying that the man who painted it ought to get
six months for doing such deeds; taking it to pieces, running down the
drawing, the composition, and the colour, until some authority said it
was good, and then they saw as by a miracle beauties in the very
faults. What was bad drawing before this became a splendid piece of
handling; what before had no composition now teemed with poetry, and
from bad it became beautiful colouring; and I have wondered how it all
came to pass, seeing that _they_ ought to know what is good.

There is a story told of Tintoretto, who was kept down and scoffed at
nearly all his life by the school of Titian; for even in those far-off
balmy days fashion ruled the roost, and the great masters acted about as
contemptibly as do the little masters now.

Poor Tintoretto could not paint to please anyone, and when he did sell,
it was only for canvas and stuff, if he got a patron generous enough to
give him so much, brains and labour being flung in by way of apology. It
was the price of a spoilt bit of cloth he generally managed to get from
his patrons.

Sometimes, when the people were surprised out of their habitual doubt
and suspicion by some brilliant flash of fancy, and the wealthy
controllers of men's destinies were inclined to pitch the poor wretch a
sop, it was passed over his head to the hangers-on of the school then in
repute; what the decorated old Titian could not swallow himself he
handed over to some of his satellites, and left Tintoretto outside.

Tintoretto, although an amiable sort of fellow, was not altogether an
angel, and, therefore, naturally resented this sort of starving process,
and kicking out, as some of us still do, got laughed at for his pains,
as I dare say is as much the habit still as it was in those golden days
of old in Italy. Jerusalem is not the only city where donkeys thrive by
braying.

Notwithstanding the constant snubbing to which he was subjected,
Tintoretto was generous enough to be able to see and appreciate the
good qualities of Titian a great deal better than the prosperous painter
could see his beauties in return. If I had to express an opinion on the
two men, I should say, 'Tintoretto was the prince of painters, and the
lucky man was Titian.'

Amongst Tintoretto's few possessions was a picture by his tyrant, and
Tintoretto had the meekness to copy it so carefully that he was pretty
well pleased with it himself; so he hung them up together, with
'original' on the one and 'copy' on the other. The critics came in, as
usual, to laugh or encourage the mighty but stricken heart with words
like this: 'Ah, if you could only paint like Titian!' or, 'Not the least
degree like the original.'

Now, Tintoretto had his own opinion about his abilities, as we all have,
I dare say, about ours, and he thought at nights, when he looked over
his creations, that they were as good as Titian's, and some of them
better, if not nearly so well paid for; and after all these years a
great number of sensible people have come to see and believe the same as
the poor old man did of himself. Of course it wasn't much consolation to
him, this conviction, seeing it didn't change the sour wine and black
bread of his table into the Cyprus and cake of his rivals. No matter;
the old man determined to have his joke, if he could have nothing else
out of the gold-laden quadrupeds; so he wrote on the original 'copy,'
and on the copy 'original,' and waited for the kindly-disposed visitors
to come and comfort him, as usual.

'Ah, a very far way behind, old man! it won't do; you haven't the go of
the master in you. It wants strength and purity; the chiaroscuro is
shallow as a summer stream. Why can't you do it like this, now?'
pointing contemptuously from the original to the copy.

That was the method of judging pictures long ago, as it is now. If a man
paints something that becomes the fashion, then he may do what he likes
with his paper or canvas. A drunken smudge or a meaningless splash of
the brush will be raved over as if the man had wrought a miracle.

And how a man gets into fashion is often as great an astonishment to
himself as it is to the people coming after him.

One artist tried everything, from still life to a vision of the infernal
regions, and still he could neither please the public nor pay for a
respectable suit. One day, in a moment of frolic, he put a priest's robe
upon a brother artist, and painted him in that fashion, sending it into
Paris, as usual, to stand in the windows for an indefinite time. A
distinguished English art patron passed, looked at it, praised it, and
gave the dealer the price asked for it.

Presto! the painter was famous, and found his vocation marked out for
him for ever after; and I suppose now drinks absinthe and smokes
cigarettes during the intervals of priest-making without a single care
for to-morrow.

A man may paint and paint until he is white-headed, or has worn the hair
off his scalp altogether, and all to no purpose. He may rack his brains
until the cords crack to invent a new subject, and propitiate fickle
fortune, and not be able to earn salt for his broth. He may produce
picture after picture, with all the conceptive power of a Michael Angelo
and the colouring of a Titian, and still be no nearer his aim. And, in a
fit of desperation, he may dash off a piece of brainless rubbish, and
for that hasty bit of caprice become the lion of the day.

And when he does succeed, has he not justice on his side if he curses
the goddess Fame, and laughs to derision the senseless crowd of
worshippers who have raised him up on high?

When he thinks on the guineas he is making now, and the coppers he was
not able to earn before; when he thinks upon the pictures which he
created before, and the worthless daubs which he is flinging off now;
when he thinks upon what might have been, or upon the woman he might
have married, or, if married, on the woman who might have been still
alive, if his deserts had been rewarded as his folly is--the woman who
pined and grew haggard with anxiety, and starved to death through the
want of the paltry gold that now curses his present blasted life--this
is the kind of comedy to make men stand up and blaspheme, and to make
women lay down their heads and weep themselves blind. The painter who
_was_ a man, and has become a machine; the man who grew by his
earnestness near to God, and now must work for an earth-idol!

It is a comic sight to see pictures which are the fashion;
colour-blendings, the outcome of craft only; men who have had
aspirations after great things content to lay down a noble purpose
before an order. One trick or one accident did it, and so they must run
the vein threadbare or else starve.

I remember once three young fellows who went gold-hunting; they bought a
digger's claim and dug away for six months without a single sight of
gold-earth colour, and at last caved in.

Two new chums came along and took the claim on chance; the
ex-proprietors had pocketed the transfer-money, and squatted on the
surface to take a final pipe before leaving. The new hands went down and
filled the bucket; it came up bulging with a fifty-six pound nugget of
pure gold in it. The old hands had worked six months without avail, and
the new chums struck at first sight.

Art is like gold-digging, all a blind chance.

It isn't good work that takes, it isn't earnest thought; it is all a
turn of the wheel, and the man may be a genius or a jackass. If his turn
comes up he wins the hour.

Gold! Ah, when will the power of it cease? The first digger who saw the
nugget appear clasped his hands in front of him and took a header down
the pit, dashing his brains out in the paroxysm of his disappointment. I
remember once a man who had made a fortune came on board ship with the
load converted into sovereigns and sewn inside a broad belt round his
waist. He tried to be calm and reasonable, but it was of no use; he went
frantic with his good luck, and one day, after being three weeks out at
sea, he came up on deck in a frenzied condition, took off his valuable
belt, opened it, and pouring the glittering contents overboard, sprang
in after them, and so settled the grand problem. There was one painter
who knew the difficulties of art and the capriciousness of fortune very
exactly. In early life his good pictures could hardly bring him in
30_s._ a week, and latterly, when he could sell all he put his name
upon, he used to say that the British Lion would give fifty pounds for a
dirty piece of paper if it only had his name on the corner.

It is this truckling to gold that makes art comic and common, this
buying and selling custom which takes all the inspiration out of it and
renders the pursuit of it a few degrees below the honest efforts of the
mechanic, just as we know the glory of womanhood loses all its
sacredness when it is made the end of a commercial bargain. If the
beauty is not beyond price it is worthless; so, if the picture is not
too precious to sell, it is nothing greater than the price it brings.

Artists will for ever imitate tradesmen, and want to stand on their
dignity at the same time, which is an impossible combination.

It is a very curious trouble, this disease of Dignity. A man may do a
thousand mean contemptible actions, and yet stand back indignant at the
one over and above. He may sin his soul away, traffic his manliness for
a few paltry shillings, and yet feel fearfully outraged because someone
proposes one other shabby trick to him; as if it mattered much one
shuffle more amongst the others, one more dirty spot amongst the many
defilements with which his soul is smudged over. He may feel no shame,
for instance, in taking away characters, and yet stand out very rigidly
against taking a purse; as if the stealing the paltry contents of the
one were one-tenth part as great a wrong as the other.

A man may feel very much ashamed of a parcel because it isn't done up in
brown paper, or feel very unhappy over a collar half dirty, when he
would think nothing at all about the bit of villainy that is so much
uglier than the half-dirty collar.

You all know those pictures and engravings of Hogarth, who painted like
the moral preacher that he always was. He is of the comic tribe who set
up vice as a warning, and with a laugh give you a lesson to make you
grave. That is the sort of art I should like you to study when you are
too self-satisfied. David Teniers and the other Dutchmen only half did
their work, for they just painted the merry outside of iniquity without
giving us a single glimpse of the soul, which is Ruin. All along, art
has been a mystery and a problem for the wisest to solve, and I do not
know anyone yet who could point out the real good of it.

A man may exercise the brains God has given him, and make a chair or a
table, and no one thinks he has any cause to feel proud; and another may
take a paint-brush, and, with less of the God gift, dabble over a bit of
canvas, and feel qualified thereby to strut along and feel mighty. What
about? Just because he used paints and brushes and the other man used
wood and glue. As if the one wasn't as much to be boasted about as the
other.

Again, an artist paints away and thinks he is doing splendidly, and that
all the other work in the world is rubbish compared to his; or he may be
painting away splendidly, and thinking all the time that he is wasting
good colour, and producing rubbish.

Or you may hear a man who has not a vestige of colour-perception in his
eye or mind pooh-poohing a piece of perfect colouring as being devoid of
the very quality which it possesses, if it possesses any merit at all.

We see something done and we jump to conclusions right away, or we take
offence without rhyme or reason, and never give the offender the benefit
of a single doubt.

What is clean colour to us, through force of habit, looks a singularly
dirty combination to someone else. With a jump the artist sees what he
thinks is an oversight or weak spot without giving his own mind time to
investigate, or the picture time to explain its intention.

A black spot is wanted there, or a white splash, or a spark of red, or
a dash of blue, to make a picture of it. How does he know that the
painter has not tried all these stale old tricks, and, rejecting them,
chosen something better, newer, more subtle, if not quite so apparent?

It isn't jealousy that is troubling the artist when he laughs or
condemns the work of a brother; it is prejudice, that will not let him
look more than one way out, that fastens upon him like a pair of
blinkers, and makes of him an animal under control--drawing him along in
the one direction in spite of his eyes or judgment. The thing is bad; it
looks good, but it must be bad.

This is one of the comic sides to Art. A man has learnt to paint and
draw, and ought to know when the work set before him is good or not, and
yet, like other people, he will look at the name in the corner, and
heroically strangle the knowledge which he must have, in order to chime
in with the clanging bells of Fashion.

Or he will see one unfortunate picture, a poor example, crop up at a
sale or hanging on someone's walls, and straightway judge all that the
man does from that, knowing, as every artist must, that all have sins of
the past to repent of, that there are pictures which they have painted
of which they are themselves ashamed, but which some purchaser has taken
willy-nilly, and necessity has forced them to part with. Knowing this of
themselves, it does seem strange that they never take into consideration
these probabilities when looking at the works of some other man in or
out of the Art upper ten.

A painter cannot paint well when starving, neither will he paint well
when replete; so the time to regard a man at his very best is just that
happy moment when the big elephant Public Opinion kneels down to take
him up. He is elated, but not puffed up; eager to deserve the honours
which he has won, not yet arrogant with success, or content to bestow a
swish of the brush for sovereigns, or think that he is composed of some
finer kind of material than the house-decorator who makes his walls and
woodwork beautiful, without considering the value of hog-hair as he
works.

Be faithful to yourselves and your intentions, and you don't need to
care much whether the people about you consider you an object to be
comic over or not; hold fast to your purpose, and never truckle to a
whim or a caprice, and your art will be true and grand whether you are
painters or plasterers. Yield to be the toy of the hour, and whether you
are making for yourselves guineas or grins, you are only the shadow in a
poor, low comedy; and your art is comic without a single point about it
to raise it from the burlesque, which serves no higher end in creation
than does the bashed hat of Ally Sloper.

[Illustration: ART SUBJECTS]



CHAPTER XII

_ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS CONNECTED WITH ART_


EX LIBRIS

[Illustration: I]T is only when a man settles down in life that he
begins to gather books around him, and to think about the outside as
well as the contents of his favourite volumes. First editions, and rare,
early volumes, as well as _éditions deluxe_, occupy his attention during
his leisure from business cares. The young man is quite content with a
yellow cover and a thrilling or racy inside, while the elder man views
these abominations in the shape of binding and get-up with horror.

Artists as a rule are not great readers of books, and the more modern
and realistic they are, the less they read; their eyes are occupied
solely in watching and studying passing effects, while they can always
depend upon some bookworm friend to give them the particulars if they
want a subject from history. They take their characters from their
models, the bookworm friend provides them with all the other information
about costumes and historical details which they may require; therefore
unless, like Alma Tadema, Walter Crane, or my old friend Sir J. Noel
Paton, his art inclines towards antiquity, decoration, or history, the
true painter is not much of a book authority.

I have found also, from observation, that the man who is fond of his
garden does not care much for his library; indeed, although no man can
reach middle age without having some hobby, he is a very unfortunate man
who has more than one.

My own life has been so arranged by Providence that I have never had
long enough time to get firmly rooted on any special soil, for always
when I have just been settling down I have been transplanted quickly and
ruthlessly, and the tender mosses about my roots have been torn
ruthlessly from their premature clinging and scattered.

At one period I took to collecting delf and china, one of the most
seductive, extravagant, and dangerous of all passions; in this direction
my artistic instinct of colour found vent.

But having inherited a love for books, I indulged in that habit also
when I could afford it--often, alas! sacrificing other interests for
the gratification of these two absorbing passions. Fortunately for my
peace of mind, a clumsy joiner cured me of my hobby for china. He had
lined a room with shelves from ceiling to floor, assuring me that his
work was strong enough to carry the contents of the British Museum; and
foolishly I believed him. At this time I had about four and a half tons
weight of books, and about five hundred pounds worth of china;
therefore, to make my library attractive, I placed the books above and
below the centre shelf, which I devoted to my specimens of china, so as
to bring them, as it were, on the line.

On the second night after I had arranged my treasures I was awoke by a
fearful crash, and on going into my library, I found shelves, books, and
rare china, now a confused blending of fragments on the floor, as
complete a mass of wreckage as mine enemy could have desired to see.

The books were not much damaged, nor the shelves, but the fragile
loveliness which I had doted on with such uxoriousness had taken wings
and left me for ever. No man born of woman dare indulge in two grand
passions with impunity.

That ogre joiner added the last blow to my vanished delusion when he
generously offered to put up my shelves again without extra charge. I
have loved china ever since, but never since that hour with the unholy
desire of possession. I have been content to admire it in the cabinets
of my friends.

The true collector of china does not trouble himself greatly about the
artistic qualities of his wares; it is the rarity which he runs after,
and this is one of the most pitiful of human follies, unless he chances
to be a dealer. What fascinated me in this pursuit was the beauty of
the designs or the richness of the colouring. I delighted to make my
room one complete and harmonious picture, rather than divide it into
different pictures; and in this, while it lasted, I had the most
unalloyed pleasure that mortal man could have. And this is how I should
like to recommend men, who are rich enough to afford the luxury, to
decorate the rooms in which they study or think; for while pictures may
tell their own story, they are apt to become assertive in time, while
the stories grow stale.

But with beautiful works of china, tastefully assorted and harmoniously
arranged in combination with finely bound books of favourite authors, no
matter whether they are first or last editions or contemptibly modern in
the estimation of the china-maniac, you will find yourself constantly
surrounded with old friends who are never prosy, and by an orchestra of
ever-changing songs without words--silent harmonies and poetic
suggestions without limit.

I like my shelves to be open and roomy, so as to hold any size of
volume; made plain and dark coloured, with little ornament, and attached
to the wall.

Yet the beau idéal of a perfect library is to have it made mediæval in
its design, in old and unpolished oak, with Gothic carvings where bare
spaces occur; the ceiling divided into oak panels and rich with design,
the furniture in harmony, so that nothing may distract the eye from the
richness of the binder's art, or the tender flower-like glowing of the
vases, cups, saucers, and plates, stirring up while they at the same
time soothe the jaded imagination of the wearied thinker with their
vague suggestions.


BOOK PLATES

[Illustration: T]HIS is an old art or taste which is being once more
revived with great activity through the timely efforts of the Ex Libris
Society. It is a pursuit which is most educative to the lover of books,
because it is filled with symbols and leads on to the noble art of
heraldry and spiritual intellectualism, in which such men as Albert
Dürer stand so pre-eminent. At first sight it may appear like the
pandering to the vanity of book possessors, but it is not so in any
sense; rather is it the connecting link which binds men of taste and
research to each other, and which leads them on to that higher level of
humanitarianism and faith for which purpose the grand laws of Heraldry
and Masonry were first instituted.


ARTISTIC ASTRONOMY

[Illustration: I] THINK that a man to be a painter, more than any other
student of life-lore, ought to probe a little into every science;
anatomy he must have, geology, botany, and astronomy he ought to know
something about.

I do not mean the very painful and exact knowledge which is begun and
ended in learning the names and probable distances of the planets, or
the exact theories which books teach; that sort of lore is very well in
its place, so that it does not interfere with the gracious if delusive
investments of fancy. But none of us like to hear a discourse upon the
exact sciences from the lips of young love; we would rather have her
more ignorant and responsive to our extravagance--think that her 'eyes
are stars, and would in heaven stream so bright that birds would sing
and think it were not night'--than to be reminded that this Romeo
nonsense is exploded, and be told the scientific composition of those
sapphire or amber orbs, and the cold attractions and revulsions of those
rolling earths.

The painter and the poet, like the lover, should be impassioned and
impulsive, keeping his knowledge only for similes and parts of the
glowing idea. He ought to know all things, but be, besides, 'Dowered
with the hate of hate, the scorn of scorn, the love of love,' able to
see through life and death, through good and ill, and into his own soul.

Regarding the stars, we must indulge in fancy, for science will not
enlighten us much, with all the help its magnificent telescopes can give
us; for, after all is said and done, the wisest of scientists are forced
to admit that the truth is not quite certain, either one way or the
other.

Before the Beginning, we will suppose this earth to have been a molten
globe of fused material, perhaps the fragment of some other vast globe,
one of many sparks flung from the great flame that had spun round for
myriads of centuries with other fires in the black space. To attempt in
words to produce an estimate of the magnitude of this stupendous scene
would be as weak a failure as to attempt by figures to describe
Eternity. The circle is our only sign in the one case; let imagination's
broadest and vaguest conception grasp the other as it best can. The
fearful concussion as two fires met and clashed and became a blazing
shower, the weird effect as the sparks, to us monster planets and
measureless suns, fell whirling into the chaos of that awful night! All
are silent as the stars are in their distance, and we watch at night the
shining and the sparkling, giving them, with our intense narrow egotism,
a place in our emotions and our sentiments, as if they were ministers of
fate for earth, so trifling do they seem to our mite world.

Science blunders on, one generation of savants giving us theories and
blinding themselves to prove them correct, which another generation of
as wise men flatly contradict, and set up fresh theories to be again
knocked down. I pay thirty shillings for a valuable work on astronomy
to-day that next year I find not worth a sixpence. They coolly inform us
that at length the distance to some star is certainly discovered--at
least, with the slight margin of some tens of thousands of millions of
miles, to be afterwards determined as they think best, and that is our
knowledge of the stars. This is science. A man makes himself a mole,
scratching up a mound of earth, boring and thinking and wasting his eyes
and his brains for fifty or sixty or seventy years to try to find out
what he never can while his body consumes bread, and what the most
ignorant clown will discover with a single flap of the wing of Death, if
our belief in a future state is fact.

The poet is the wisest astronomer. He gazes an hour on the stars, with
his eye rapt and his mind fallow, and the spirits or the spirit of
inspiration ploughs it up and fills him with the knowledge
unconsciously, and if the withered old astronomer with his lines and
earth laws is so far astray in his conclusions, seeing the poet cannot
wander much farther, why may he not be the only one correct, in that he
writes what he knows nothing about? We, reading it, call it deep,
mystical, splendid, because we cannot understand it; while the poet,
poor fellow! reading our criticism, and thinking that we understand it
from our subtle explanation, rests perfectly content, feels it is all
right, and that he is a very clever fellow.

To us these stars are serene, as all action is when viewed from
distance. The carnage of the battle-field is but an ant-covered spot of
the landscape to the spectator ten miles away; a little puff of blue
smoke here and there, blotting out the insignificant black and red dots,
is the whole picture of the fierce drunkenness and savage lust of blood
which transform men into devils; those desolate hearths where the curse
of the widow and the wail of the orphan are the most enduring, trophies
of victory.

Myriads of miles away, and all the thunders and rapidity become silver
pin points: yet they joined in that warfare, or watched it as we do
them, saw it cooling down until it died from their range, until the
white glare that it once gave out became a crimson glow, to be swallowed
in the oceans of steam that rolled about it.

And so we are told that the slow stages went on--the fire, the steam,
the waters, the sediment and slime that bred the life, the life that was
rank and low, the preparation for other life, the light which was
forcing its passage through the mists, that came and made the life
robust; the convulsions that overthrew the whole, and the work that
began once more, ever growing higher, as death purified and blotted out
the errors, until the first perfection stood up from the other animals,
and, as man, continued the work of creation.

Sciences so blend together that it is impossible to take up one without
finding tendons of another passing through it. Astronomy teaches the
student that this earth is only one of a cluster; that our sun is not
the sole candle of the universe, nor our moon the only Luna who touches
the brains of men and poisons the flesh of fish; that on each of those
countless needle and pin points, love, war, and work may be going on
while our tiny star is out of the range of their glasses, and
speculation sets to work filling up all the blanks, and tinkering up the
broken links, while imagination gilds the repairs until we can behold
worlds like our own, but larger and fairer; for man ever takes himself
for his model of an angel, and his world for the image of the hereafter.
Fairer, because imagination hangs up a gauze veil to soften the general
effect and the blemishes.

We look at the sky; mellow grey at the horizon, going through gentle
gradations towards the deepest ultramarine overhead, and science tells
us that this is formed by miles of atmosphere, and behind the ether belt
spreads the black vacuum. Sometimes we think we can almost trace the
airwaves, one behind the other, until the last thin layer is reached,
and the glance is lured on as through a crystal, and we are soaring
lark-like through the azure fields, the world beneath us lost, as when
the swimmer in mid-ocean turns his face from the ship that represents
land, and floats away on a blue sea under a blue sky, a solemn silence
over all, the heart filled with the trembling delight and awesome
majesty of boundless space.

But to the poet they are angels; to the prisoned wisher they are fairy
barks to wing him away from this earth, which is too small for his
immortal cravings and desires.

We like the science of the child, the lover, and the savage the best,
for we think it as near truth as any other, and ten myriad times more
satisfactory to the feelings. Claud Melnotte is our best guide to
astronomy.

'To sit at nights beneath those arching heavens, and guess what star
shall be our home when love becomes immortal.'

That is the sort of astronomy for the poet, the child, and the quivering
heart.

I would fain bring back the world to its belief in fairies--tear it now
and then from the hard facts which are being now so constantly driven
into aching brains.

Were they not happy times when Jack the Giant-Killer was the veritable
history of a brave boy? Were they not sunny hours when you peered under
toadstools for the little fairy who was to build you up a crystal
palace, where gorgeous cakes were to be served on service of gold?

Is there no cause for regret that the time is past when out of glowing
embers on winter nights sprang forth knights on their war-steeds, or
funny little old men and women with high-crowned hats, who you knew were
all there, because you had _been told about them_?--days when falsehood
was an unknown quality, and 'yes' meant surely 'yes,' and only 'no' was
possible to doubt. Now it has become the large 'no,' with many a 'yes'
much more than doubtful.

What were stars to you then but golden lamps of heaven; shining
ornaments on the foreheads of angels; windows of another beautiful
world; or little sparks put up there all for your own special delight?

And that vast immensity, to contemplate which the horrified brain of the
astronomer reels with madness, and reason is nearly dethroned: what was
it to you then but a cosy curtain of the earth's bed, drawn over it at
nights to keep it warm while it slept, decorated with all those pretty
spangles that people might count them until they fell asleep?

What did those worlds teach you in the hours of your young romance, as
you turned up your flushed face, after parting for the night, and sought
out the brightest one to say your prayers to--young idolaters that you
were? Did they not comfort you more then than now when you know what
they really are, as you watched them grow moist with their great
sympathy? It was a flick of vapour crossing them, or a tender tear
creeping up to your eye in reality, but to you it was a star watching
over you both, and carrying the wishes of the one to the other.

Science tells us that those fantastic shapes flying above us are caused
by the vapours absorbed from the ocean, condensed up there, and sent
down again in the form of those grateful showers upon which the sun
paints the prismatic rainbow, the sign of grace and hope, the index of
the painter.

We see the sun rising out of the vapour in the morning, a pale disk,
surrounded by wreaths of the softest grey, here of the pearly ash, there
of the citron bloom, broken by the salmon and the amber, while over them
gleam the golden spokes and white bars of the wheels of glory,
surrounded again by the curtains of grey to the chastened fringes of
azure and silver, the golden car into which the king of the morning
leaps, guiding his winged horses out into the day with a lustre
overpowering, flinging his glittering shafts down the mountain sides,
into the streams and torrents, into the mists of the valleys, breaking
up the solid masses, tearing ragged edges from them, and scattering them
until they fly away round the rocks, amongst the furze, in a panic of
confusion, and the marble wall of an hour ago has become but a little
smoke amongst the heather.

We see the mid-day lights and shades, the clouds that trail slowly along
like a flock of tired sheep with languid motion and drooping head, now
like chubby infants flinging about their dimpled limbs, and casting fat
depths of purple over the ivory shoulders of the children underneath;
white-skinned cherubs whose antics have diverted us during a sleepy
afternoon sermon, as they rolled past the diamond panes and cast their
gigantic grey shadows on the whitewashed church walls opposite; or the
drift of dapple and scumbly white overhead, like snow-flakes melting on
a deep river, stippled all over with the ripples between.

Then comes the night, and we know that the earth is turning round, and
that it will soon be dawn with our friends in Australia, but to us it is
the sun which is sinking behind the waves. It was a white flame on a
blue field before, then the blue passes through changes of grey to gold,
and the gold deepens to orange, and the orange glows to crimson, and the
sun has become a blood-red eye glaring out of a purple mask, while
overhead gather armies clad in regimentals of every shade. The red coats
are struggling with the black and green, and the yellow and white
facings are savagely torn off and sent flying after the tattered banners
stained with the clotted gore of the slain, and the castles they were
swarming about are crumbling to pieces.

Then the battle is over and the stillness of death settles down, the
purple grows grey, the amber afterglow is cooling behind it, and those
wonderful little spark worlds are coming out to watch. On the earth long
lines of silver vapour lie like stretches of water with fen-lands
between; the tree trunks are submerged in the deluge, and only the tops
of brown ranges float above. A sigh comes over the land, that enters
into our spirits and finds an echo there, as we turn to the east to
watch the mellow moon rise out of its umber grey background, giving us
thoughts of rest after the day's work is over, bringing out young
lovers, imparting to rosy cheeks the spiritual pallor of tender
sympathy, throwing into dark eyes, that might flash mischievously in the
sunlight, the melancholy languor that rivets the pensive chains, and a
host of vague forms to the dreamy student, as he leans back, while the
thin wreaths created by his meerschaum pipe circle heavenward from his
meditative lips.


ARTISTIC BOTANY

[Illustration: I]

It is astonishing how insensibly we are drawn on to moralise when in the
mood. A stone in our path, over which we stumble, may become the text
for a long sermon; a little piece of crumpled, torn newspaper may lead
us along a train that seems endless--the power of the critic and the
abuse of that power, the art of printing, and how people got on without
the use of type to spread their gossip, the machinery used for it, and
the boon steam will be to the poor horses who may yet become our friends
instead of our slaves; the garment that scrap of paper once was, and the
romance of the wearer, the loom where it was spun, and the weavers, the
vessel that bore the little balls of cotton from the western fields
where the lash of the overseer once cursed the land--and we have taken
up the science of botany all in a single thought, and fly backward by
flashes until we come to the period when earth was like a fair garden
waiting upon its owner when the work was all but finished, and the
nameless lion and lamb together grazed by the Tree of Knowledge. The
great hush of fifty centuries hangs over it all, flinging before it the
haze of a far distance. The date-palm waves like feathers in the silver
space, the cocoanut hangs from the roof of its fan-like branches. The
banana is green, or ripens without the decay of a leaf; the many
bright-winged songsters are sparkling with their hundred warm tints, and
the fresh first spring, for they have suddenly burst into joyous
animation to hail the new life. We mingle with the morning mists, the
white forms of the angels who watched that great work, and the diamond
drops of dew which are lying in the mouth of the lilies get between us
and the starry diadems which crown their glowing heads, until we cannot
separate the flowers from the deathless host.

Shall we break it all up with our relentless science, get out our
trowels and our tin cases, and scatter the angels until we classify some
of the unknown specimens?

This purple flower with its drooping bells, to the half-open mouth of
which the black-and-amber coated bee hangs sucking, is our own foxglove,
a useful foreground ornament for the painter. Adam has yet to christen
it, so I may be homely in my title and leave the Latin to the
professors. An orange and scarlet toadstool rests against its grey green
leaves, while the greyer boulder against which they grow absorbs the
grey from the green until the leaf seems as bright as the fern-tree
overhead, for after this manner ring out the chimes of colour in Nature,
the high note only high until we strike the next.

Yes, it is amazing upon how slight a foundation a very plausible and
fine theory may be built up. I had almost fancied, while I was watching
the rich crimson juice oozing like blood from the cracks of that
dragon-tree, that the finale had come, and that it was our forefather
Adam who clung in that most undignified fashion between me and the sky
to that high branch of the upas, until I perceived the long hair upon
his arms as he reached to the cocoanut alongside of him, while his
graceful tail like a black snake twined round the white stem; then I
recognised with feelings of relief that it was only our familiar
caricature the monkey.

How familiar it all seems as we ponder! This gnarled tree trunk is the
oak of England, while yonder faint mountain-top, that we can just see
between its twisted limbs, looks like the cobbler at work on the lofty
Ben Lomond, giving us almost the right to claim our little island as the
original site of Paradise, did not those many pillars which are shooting
up and drooping down from the archways of this mighty banyan stop our
ideas from going farther in that direction.

Let us pause for a moment to regard the vegetation around with the
draughtsman's glance. The oak rising like a pyramid, with its rugged
horizontal masses, light, raw siennaish-green leaves clustering round
the spreading knotty branches at right angles to its corrugated trunk.
The elm, lime, and chestnut, not unlike in general outline, yet with
distinctive shapes that separate them all. The rough trunks of the elm,
pine, and fir may be distinguished at once from the smooth bark of the
plane, chestnut, beech, birch, bamboo, and upas. The branches of the fir
and beech are straight; the weeping willow and birch droop under their
light load to kiss the river. Then there are the serpentine ash, and
the irregular elm, cedar, and poplar, the long tapering leaves of the
ash and willow, the round flakes of the beech and cedar, the fan-like
masses of the chestnut, the little needle points of the fir. All these
stand out stamped with their type marks, and proclaim what they are by
their form and by their colour. We see, too, the dark olive duskiness of
the fir crown, with its flesh-like arms flung outwards, and the warm
glow of the upper limbs dying out of its body as it nears the brown
earth, reddened like the bed of the larch with the dropping spray of
cast-off shreds; the fir and the larch, that never change their entire
garments winter or summer, but only cast away the worn bits they have
done with; the willow, that grows paler as the summer advances and the
other trees flush, until she stands out white amongst the orange and the
russet, and the intense purple fumes of the passing year; the fairy
birch, lady of the lee, with her indefinite toned festoons, her delicate
madder-brown branches, and her silver crackle bracelets, reflecting all
the colours in our paint boxes.

Under foot we trample a perfect world in miniature--the velvet moss and
grey lichen, the vivid sparks of green amongst the bronze, the rose and
golden hairs that shake brown balls at us, and lure us into grottoes
where nymphs and lady-birds slumber together.

The ferns are making themselves studies in foreshortening as they spread
over the broad-leaved docken, under which the eye may penetrate the damp
shadows to find that the range is endless; furry rosaries swing on green
strings, little leaved tendrils that half smother blue and pink stars
with white centres, brambles and ivy shooting over knotty roots upon
which cling verdigris, tinted cactuses, and perfect gardens of flowers
and grasses, trailing like auburn tresses, all in the space of a square
inch, and veiled with the close meshes of that great spider web on which
the dewdrops swing by thousands.

That wonderful dew, flashing like the purest diamonds under foot,
glowing like rare opals a little way off, glittering like powdered snow
farther off still, floating over the roses like the gauze webs away in
mid-distance, bringing us back again to the scene we left to burrow in
details! Let us bundle up our specimens, and try not to feel any smaller
than we can help while we put our trowels and tin cases out of sight,
and crouch down with the hot-eyed monster cat panther within his leafy
shelter, and in company with the cunning cobra watch the work that is
being done out there in the broad sunlight.

Is it the heat fumes which are growing denser as the day advances? Can
the sunlight filtering down between those green fringes make those
shapes upon the grass and on the trunks of the trees?--trailing robes of
filmy white, dove-like wings of faintest pink that sweep across the
glade and crowd in circles round. The lioness does not think this
strange, for she squats and blinks lazily in the light like an over-fed
yellow mastiff. There is a rustling like birds rising. The locust chirps
in the grass; the bee is busy, so does not hum; the red-coated soldier
ants defile along in rigid order, and are allowed to pass by the active
little black-coats. Those that have work to do, do it, and all the rest
sleep. We have surely been dozing also, for the picture is finished, the
dewdrops are almost dry, the mists are sweeping away, and the red man
lies in his death-like slumber, while bending over him, with the staring
eyes of a newly-awoke baby, stands that white wonder of creation,
woman.


THE SPIRIT OF BEAUTY

[Illustration: T]

There is nothing more interesting in all the sights which bountiful
nature provides for the entertainment of man than the shapes, colours,
frolics, and labours of the insect world; and nothing more dastardly and
contemptible than the way man has of enjoying those pleasures, trapping
the spirit of liberty, mutilating the exquisite bodies, ruthlessly
cutting short their transient lives and merry pranks, brushing away the
subtle delicacy of that matchless colouring, leaving only stiff,
tattered corpses, that may appear fair in comparison with the clumsy
work of their destroyers, but bear no resemblance to the sportive specks
of splendour they were before: melancholy specimens stuck upon a card or
in a glass case in order to gratify a latent lust of cruelty or
acquisition, which is rechristened 'the curiosity of science,' or worse
still, when it is to minister to the vilest of all vain passions, the
empty desire to be thought oracles.

To the sensitive mind the spectacle of a show case of these poor little
insect samples, pierced through with thin pins and having their Latin
titles attached to each, is almost as excruciating a sight as a vision
of Calvary would be, with the mockery of that Greek, Latin, and Hebrew
superscription suspended from the freighted Cross; and the utility of
these crucifixions is about as great to the private collector and his
narrow circle of admirers as the deliberate vivisection of a fly is to
the idle mind of the vicious boy, who dismembers a being of more
exquisite formation and greater usefulness than he may ever become, with
those instincts, in order to see how it can wriggle along after the
power of walking and flying has been torn piecemeal from its quivering
sides.

What can all this wanton waste of the spirit of life teach them that
they may not read in the works of others, or see in any museum where the
sacrifice has already been made, that they must trample like savage
senseless cattle through fields already carefully gone over by men who
have devoted their lives to this branch of science?

We all know that science must at times be unsparing and merciless in its
hunt after knowledge, but the discovery once with certainty gained,
cruelty ought to cease for ever, and the mind rest satisfied; or if
unsatisfied with the dead example, seek to learn the grace and beauty of
the life, the motion that must be preserved alone by memory, for the
corpse can tell us nothing of life, and it is life we are most
interested in knowing. We can learn from death only decay, and any
hour's walk will show us that without our paltry aid towards its
manifestation.

When education costs the student labour or even agony and self-loss,
consider no exertion lost time, for experience must ever be better than
theory; but if it is at the cost of a single life, or even a thrill of
agony to another life, then let him pause, for no life is trivial that
the spirit animates, and where the mechanism is so perfect; and the
lowest form of life may be of greater value in the universal scheme than
the life that destroys it.

Let him pause, for the experience is too costly, the sacrifices already
made should satisfy; for what is the life of a man, except that the
shell is larger and coarser and clumsier, more than the life of the tiny
midge that sings about our ears in the sundown, or the silent insect
that, all unconscious of its danger, crawls under our feet? I speak
here with all due reverence for science, when it is science that demands
the sacrifice, and not the ostentatious vanity of superficial ignorance;
also with reserve, for we know how men's lives have been the price of
many trivial discoveries, and while we may lament, we must yield to the
relentless force of circumstances.


THE BUTTERFLY SYMBOL OF ART

[Illustration: T]

The butterfly is the symbol of the painter and the poet, and so I choose
it as my present symbol.

As it must first be a caterpillar, and devour greedily leaf, fibre, and
all that can be devoured by caterpillars, so the student must settle
down and devour all the knowledge that he can find, and crawl slowly
along unheeded, or be looked at perhaps with contempt.

As it changes its skin many times while growing, so must he change the
style of his admiration.

As it carries within it the wings and the colours in the egg state, so
the light wings of fancy and the pure instinct of colour must be born in
the painter, or it cannot be altogether trained: a perception which,
like the perception of music, will cause his nerves to quiver at a
discordancy, although he never handled a brush. 'Full many a poet never
penned a line,' and so with the painters who have lived and died with
their dreams unchronicled, the perception being too fine for the
material contact of earth, which must pollute, even while it embodies; a
perception ever running before the knowledge, ever torturing the
possessor with the innate consciousness of his errors before he has
learnt enough to perceive them.

Form is the grammar of art--a thing of measurements, which can be
tested, corrected, and satisfied by the exact laws which govern it; but
colour is too fitful a possession to be tested or controlled by rule or
education beyond a certain stage. We have it when we least expect it,
and find it slipping from our grasp, after a life-long experience
renders us confident of its control. It is a quality far too subtle to
be described by words; a sensitive gift which will torture the gifted,
as George Paul Chalmers, the Scottish Rembrandt, was tortured until his
spirit became unnerved with the galling longing, and his brush blundered
and would not finish. It is not the wings of the butterfly but the
golden dust which covers them, and which is so easy to rub away; not the
genius of the painter, but the precious garment of his genius, to which
genius is as much indebted as her mortal sisters are to the costumes of
a more terrestrial texture; too fine a fabric for earth looms to spin,
too delicate to be measured or shaped by fashion; and even as the
caterpillar must suffer the throes and self-efforts of Nature, and lie
under the wearied languor of spent exertion, so must the student painter
torture and weary his heart out with his many struggles to do that which
his instinct tells him must be.

Many caterpillars perish from their own efforts, many are destroyed by
enemies, many are killed by their own kind; and how like is all this
experience to that of the student painter!

And the critics, who fawn upon the rich and powerful, while they sneer
in their meaningless fashion at the student who adds poverty to the
crimes of daring and young impotency; who, besides being devoured by
the gnawing consciousness of failure, has the gall and wormwood of
witnessing greater ignorance, because talentless ignorance, in the
favoured, praised up as virtues; the bitterness to see them airing all
the paltry tricks which their money has brought them from the studios,
while his poor attempts have to be sent forth bare and ragged, because
he has had to find out all that they have had held up before them, for
what is given eagerly to the rich is charged double rate to the poor!

His dreams are as great as theirs, but theirs are nursed and dressed
while his are sent beggars to the icy atmosphere. The world says, What
right has he to attempt art, a clown, an apprentice, an ignorant
ragamuffin, while the pets have been to college and Paris life schools?
and it is very well for him to read up in his garret that men have risen
from his level, that Murillo was a half-naked peasant boy, Homer a poor
blind beggar, Claude a cook, Angelo a mason's apprentice, Mahomet a
camel-driver, and long lists of illustrious characters, originally
nothings like himself--if, when he appears and presumes on these great
precedents, the cold iron wedge of derision is driven into his heart. If
a man, his sense of purpose will support him through it all, but
precedent will not much console him.

And yet, what does it matter in the end what we have to do in order to
keep up the life, if the life is devoted to the thought? What though we
hold horses like Shakespeare, or blacken boots, or sweep chimneys, sell
cloth or make it up, prime doors and panels for others to decorate or
decorate them ourselves? If a painter he is a painter, whether he splits
up or imitates rails, cuts down or copies trees, whitewashes ceilings or
paints skies; it is all right and proper if he is keeping himself
devoted to the end. The dexterous workman is not the artist, tricks are
not talents, craft is not art, any more than the dress is the woman,
although men do buy tricks and pass by talents, as men often court and
marry dresses. In both cases they are all the better for the tricks and
the dressing: but keep the facts separate if you can.

It is the innate impulse and power that makes the painter in spite of
his own efforts otherwise, or the advice of his friends--the impulse
that forces him on in the face of all omens. As an artist he requires no
peculiar cut of hair or livery to mark him so. Art is above, therefore
quite careless of, keeping up her dignity. She is quite as ready to sit
and hob-nob with the beggar as with the baronet.

Again, if he succeeds in a very slight degree, for no man jumps at
success or perfection, he is like the little caterpillar crawling out of
his shelter and shadow to be pounced upon by the large caterpillars,
torn in pieces and gobbled up; for although most of us have generosity
enough to pity, and perhaps help, misfortune, how few are there with
sufficient philanthropy to crown success!

He will suffer all the pangs of conception to hear his infant called an
abortion, he must endure all the suggestions of puffed up, purse-proud
ignorance, which imagines it can comprehend, with a glance through its
gold glasses, what has taken months to plan. He must make the
alterations the patron may desire, although his whole being shudders at
the sight of a spoilt idea, or else starve; while the favoured
caterpillar can laugh them to scorn in his plenty, condemn the treason
of the poor, and deride the weakness of his necessity. If he remains
firm to himself he will be a martyr without the small consolation of the
martyr's niche; he will see his original failures ignored for pretty
imitations, and so he may struggle on to the bitter end, to be
forgotten, a dead chrysalis to be blown about by the world's winds, or
drifted under the wheels and crushed.

But what of all that? Whether he lives despised, or dies unknown, this
would be a grief to the glory worshipper, but not to the true painter,
because the consolation of the painter rests in a higher pleasure than
the trickster's craving after renown. The painter labours to satisfy his
ideal: he knows that fame is not the reward of merit, that it has
nothing to do with merit, although merit is sometimes crowned by
mistake. If he gains the laurel he knows that it is the accident of
chance, or the degradation of influence, and he wears it with the
indifference which it deserves, or blushes at the shame of it; for if by
influence it has been bought at too great a price, the cost of
self-respect, he must wear it with deceit, while he struggles for ever
after, not to please his own consciousness, but to prove to unbiassed
posterity that it was his by right of worth.

This is the image of fame to the true painter, a pillar whereon he is
set by blind admirers, who crowd about its base and shout at the image
they cannot see, while the strangers who look on at a distance behold
its imperfections bare and ghastly in the sunshine.

But still, for all the frost and the evil influences brought to bear
against the chrysalis, if it is to be, its time comes, and we see the
butterfly breaking from its gloomy death, and fluttering away gaily
through the summer air, happy, careless, beautiful, every hour an
effortless success, its sole mission pleasure, working good
unconsciously, rocking in the breast of the rose, rising to light up
some shady nook like a fleck of sunshine, hovering over the
lemon-coloured grain fields like animated scarlet poppy flowers,
settling down like winged pansies in our gardens, hovering overhead like
the spirit of the lovely things it sports with a golden gleam upon the
violet, a sapphire on the buttercup, a velvet page amongst the lilies, a
giddy flirt with all, blending, harmonising, contrasting wherever it
lights upon to kiss and beautify; thus it passes on, doing the duty of
its creation, aspiration, and fitful fancy. And so with the painter. He
may take up the traces of custom, chain himself with laws and methods,
go out with his buckler of tinsel, and his bindings of green withes, to
watch the sun setting, to reckon up its strength and classify its dyes,
gauge all the glories with his measuring tapes, and bring his weak
knowledge to the mighty test, when, even as he seeks for precedents, he
is caught up by the spirit, as Philip was of old, and borne, not to the
chariot of a great eunuch, but unto a chariot all his own, made of pure
beaten gold, lined with purple and crimson, and studded over with the
richest of gems, and thus rolled like a conqueror through the glowing
gateways of the eternal space, his frame quivering with the intoxicating
joy of that fleeting hour, his tinsel buckler and green withes
shrivelled up and cast behind, and his unshackled mind sent bounding
through the endless vistas of dreamland.

[Illustration: A GARDEN SCENE]



CHAPTER XIII

NATURE WORSHIP


[Illustration: L]ABOUR being done, we naturally look for reward, which
is the legitimate termination of work. This reward may be rest, or
wealth, or fame; it is the spur of our exertion, the caviare of our
ambition; upon it we exist through the famishings and the anxieties, the
hard roads and long miles; it is the destination which fills our
imagination from the very first step of our journey, else would we have
fainted twenty times over. It is the day's wage or week's wages which
supports the toiler or the workman through all the hours between him and
the hour of pay.

And this is not wrong. Buddha bids us seek truth and morality without
hope. The sentimentalist would say, 'Work for the love of labour;' but
we hold that this is not inducement enough. Walk hard, because fatigue
ought to be a pleasure? No! walk to produce the fatigue, that you may be
able to know to the full extent the delightful flavour of rest. Work, be
it at painting or writing, that you may see the idea embodied and
perpetuated; if it be at bricklaying, that you may see the wall rise up,
layer by layer; help the needy and afflicted, that you may comfort them;
raise the fallen, that you may see them rise.

Be pure and charitable and as sinless as you can with the help of God,
that you may stand holy in that holy Light. Use your influence to make
those purer around you, that you may have only the incense of purity
surrounding you now and hereafter. Thus, to be virtuous after the creed
of Gautama is work such as Hercules worked at the stables of Augeas; to
be virtuous, as Jesus Christ taught, is to be inspired with the presence
of God all through earth's life and stand unsubdued at its close.

When Hannibal, and after him Napoleon, crossed the Alps, Italy lay to
their hand; the certain prospect of Italy, fertile and rich, aided them
in the removal of fearsome barriers, imparted to them the daring to
brave toppling crags, slipping ice-ridged streams, appalling heights,
quivering avalanches, swaying to and fro as they passed, swinging over
in their rear with that muffled soul-sickening thud which they knew
meant a snowy grave to those behind. Italy, the grape-hung, the
sun-laved, was before them on the other side, with its wealth and
power--nay, it was with them, in their hunger and bitter cold, as the
presence of God is with the devout every hour of his earth-life.

But when Bonaparte came within sight of Moscow, the vision of which had
supported him and his famished army all through those awful icy leagues,
and beheld in the light of those blazing domes the destruction of his
hopes, then, and only then, the full bitterness of that winter march
began.

So with the warrior prince-leader of Israel, when he stood up face to
face with God and cried out in the passionate strength of his
man-thirst, 'Let me go over and see the good land'--the land he had
worked and walked so long to see, for which he had given up all the pomp
of the Egyptian court, and, still greater sacrifice, the erudite society
of the sumptuous priesthood, to consort with a nation of spiritless,
ignorant, and discontented slaves.

I like to embody this great leader of Israel, not as his countrymen knew
him when he led them out of the land of bondage, the snowy-bearded grave
statesman and law-giver, but as the Prince Rameses, the mighty Egyptian
Lord of Lords, the favoured son of the Queen Amense, always the
companion of philosophers and sages, hearing the petitions of his people
in the outer courts, driving his gold-embossed chariot between long
avenues of sphinxes, reviewing his countless hosts in the open plain
outside the great royal city of On, crowned victor as he swept home from
battle, over garlands of roses and lilies, with armies of white-vestured
priests of Ptah, dancing girls, singing maidens, and the sacred women of
Bast (the lady of Auchta), all surrounding with fumes of incense and
hymns of praise Egypt's pride Rameses the Mighty.

[Illustration: THE ANCIENT NILE]

I think of him in the palace of his adopted mother; on the terrace,
decorated with chaste designs of lapis lazuli, malachite, and precious
stones; sitting upon ebony-carved byssus-draped couches, Rameses, with
the royal lady, gazing over their good land. Away in the distance the
red-tinged hills lifted above the tawny sands; between the palace and
the Libyan hills are hordes of slaves brickmaking and temple-raising,
with a white-grey sky above them and choking dust all round; slaves
toiling on foot, mostly female; strong young women whom labour will not
tame; dark-skinned matrons who find a joy in that they have once more
sons to suckle, even in that hour of quenchless thirst; wrinkled-skinned
old women who have grown passive to rebuke, and deadened to the lash;
old men sweating and dropping dead or afaint, some digging trenches for
the fancy lakes, some dragging the stones that have come down the Nile.
The girls and boys are the brickmakers, and the strong men are the
drivers, copper-tinted Egyptians who sit on chairs which the strong
women bear, while others hold up the great sun-shades, or fan with
ostrich fans the heat which the lashing exercise brings upon them. It is
a good land. Nile spreads along in sight of all, prince and slave, with
its sweet treasures and its clouds of bird-life, and by its banks rise
those columned buildings. Colour is over all, rich tints in yellow,
blue, red, and black, grounded with white, symbolic in design, each tint
a law unchanging. Over red and white walls the fruit trees hang, and the
spreading Nile bears upon its breast the echoings of fertile gardens,
and the barges ever passing from the city of the dead to the city of the
living, pleasure boats with golden-wigged ladies and jewelled men, and
the sounds of instruments joining and jarring upon the groans of the
afflicted.

I think more of Moses as Rameses, discussing with his queen-mother that
vexing conundrum of the day, increasing Israel, than of Moses solving
the question later on. I seem to see his aged father and unknown mother
amongst that seething mass, hiding their secret between their hearts,
shouting with the crowd, Hosanna to the king of kings, their God-like
son. And then my vision shifts, and I see him taking leave of his
people, none there now who knew him in his royal pomp and splendid
manhood.

What a life of abnegation! Bred for a king, laying down his crown, happy
in his desert freedom, giving up his rest, daring in his faith, becoming
the chief of a horde of ignorant serfs and advocating their rights in
the throne-room--once his own--leading them out from the tyrant power,
yielding but a little when sorely tried, creating reason in brains all
reasonless, wandering through a land of doom, with his God ever beside
him, helping that mighty work. Think on the task of raising the serfs of
Russia to reason out their own condition and so help themselves!
Hundreds of earnest souls have been hard at the work for hundreds of
years, and yet they are still hundreds of years from the promised land.

Imagine a lower state, viler than any race you can bring up as an
example on earth's face, more hopelessly sunk in the satisfaction of
apathy and degradation, and you have not reached the moral level of
Israel when Rameses put forth his hand to lift them out of their slough:
slaves of centuries to be educated in forty years; slaves with all the
whip-checked vices of slavery let loose by an acquired power. The first
instinct of liberty was the beast instinct of destruction running and
tingling like mixed wines through every vein. Moses and Aaron, with the
Lord about and before them, led out of Egypt a congregation of
mind-crusted, unreasoning serfs.

But now his task is done and he can go to his well-earned repose; the
slaves and slave-binders are dead who came out of Egypt, and are buried
by the way; the rest are free men now, and under control. They have
their laws and obligations, which makes them a people; they have their
leaders appointed, which makes them a state. Pharaoh is a thing of the
past, Egypt a myth-land, Canaan the good country towards which their
wishes tend. Already have their souls crossed the Jordan; and though
they wear sack-cloth for thirty days on the plains of Moab for the old
man who has gone from them up the hill of Nebo, though their tears flow
apace, yet the strong men are grinding their steel, with their hearts
soaked in triumph and conquest.

Up the mountain the great old seer passed. I think Joshua supported him
up so far, to the foot of Pisgah, and then they parted. A thin mist was
creeping from the brow of the hill, and even as the warrior gazed it
caught the statesman, and drew him from the sight of all.

No man saw within that veil of mist, for God was there. Yes, once it
parted, when he reached the top. That mist was made of angels' wings.
They drew aside, and for a time permitted him to view the promised land,
and the Lord was with him, pointing it all out.

A voice from the mist of the angels' wings told him of the presence of
God, so he stood up, clutching to the rock beyond which he gazed, the
shadow of the mountain over the plains of Moab and the last fiery ray of
evening laving the land in front.

He saw all Gilead unto Dan, to the utmost sea, where the line of
unbroken amethyst crossed the scarlet clouds; Naphtali, Ephraim,
Manasseh, the valley of Jericho, and the city of palm-trees.

His back was to the sun, and for a moment it fell upon him, casting his
shadow over the hill-edge, a statuesque, white-clad, unbent figure, with
rolling tresses of grey and streaming beard, looking out.

Then the legions closed upon him and the sun went down.

To the poet the death of Moses is filled with glorious imagery. Nature
is here absorbing a grand portion of her own spirit to give it out again
to other souls. God is the mighty mover of all, but He is indefinite--in
the wind bearing melancholy sounds and bodes, in the waters lapping the
shingle or rushing over the great rocks, in the vague dreams which
possess him as he gazes out upon the countless planets, in the wild
yearning to be solved by that overpowering impregnation of silence.

To the painter it all comes in a vision of colour; it is a blending of
spirit harmonies, rainbow shades, a sense of the eye that embodies the
spirit into a definite pleasure. By faith he sees revelations, the
golden streets and crystal rivers, and, above all, the great prismatic
light.

To the utilitarian Nature represents a scheme of economy and utility. We
are one of a countless cluster of planets. The sun which shines over us
is but one of a vast chain of reflections and magnetic communications,
the moon is but one of many discs; the world swims in chaos; all partake
of the bountiful provision of an unchangeable law; not one world is to
be considered more than another, not one accident to be deplored, from
the combustion of a globe to the crushing of a worm, while it only
affects its _own destiny_. It was good that the Son of Man should die
for men, good for the minority to suffer, if by their pangs the harmony
of the majority is secured. Virtue is only according to circumstances;
morality is a thing of adjustment; there are no fixed laws of conduct.
If vice conduce to the happiness of men, then it has become a virtue; if
the removal of a man lead to the restoration of peace, then to kill him
is not murder. The end justifies the means: a Jesuitical policy, which
has been flung in their teeth as a sign of distrust; the policy of
England's Commonwealth, when Oliver Cromwell, with the other members of
Parliament, signed away the life of their king. To the utilitarian the
earth is a garden for the use of mankind; it is the religion, since men
began to herd together; it recognises only the Gods or God of the day.
It is the keynote to the sacred bond of Freemasonry. Love is good for
the community; set up love and friendship, and rear an altar to them.
Unity is well for man, so lay down all private likes and dislikes,
annihilate all personal speculations which may breed discord; for the
spirit of Truth as she hovers in mid-heaven has the hues of the
chameleon, and changes in shape to each eye. What I see, you cannot.
Therefore the fact must be carried by vote if you would be perfectly
utilitarian in your aims. The reformer is a disturber of concord always.
Cassandra disturbed Troy, Jesus Christ disturbed Jew and Gentile; so for
the sake of utilitarian peace Pilate washed his hands, and the
crucifiers had it all their own way.

Henry George is a utilitarian in principle, but as he speaks as yet in
the minority, albeit advocating the welfare of the majority, until men
are convinced as to his line of argument he is a disturber of the peace
of present society. Whether his scheme for the regulation of mankind
would be successful is as yet doubtful in the extreme, seeing that he
ignores all other means except his pet theory. As we find man at
present, poverty is in many cases a protection rather than a curse. With
passions paramount by ages of contamination, and habits confirmed,
opportunity would only sink them deeper in the mire. Drink reformers,
food reformers, crime reformers, have before them superhuman labour ere
the Henry George jubilee will be of utility to the lower strata.
Sanitation, knowledge, morality must be universally taught first, and
what is good will follow as a consequence. To us it seems that poverty
is of greater utility for the redemption of mankind than wealth. We
would see all men poor and sacrificing. It is better for the rich to
become poor than for the poor to become rich.

To the utilitarian Nature has a spirit, but it is a spirit of
convenience. Floods rush, not to destroy houses, but to water districts.
Hurricanes come, not to strew strands with wrecks and wasted lives, but
to carry off infections, clear the poisons from the atmosphere. Nature
is a great manufactory, where benefits are created for the use of man;
and the Spirit is the worker who is busily coining good for the greater
number. Trees are admired, not for the waving of the foliage, not for
the serpentine curvature of the branches, the half tones about the
boles, or glad tints on the leaves, but for the uses of that tree when
it is cut down. A true utilitarian is the direct antithesis of the poet
or painter.

To the agnostic Nature is a solemn image set up before the eye; the
veiled Isis, soulless, or endowed with a spirit unseen and therefore
unknown.

'Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of
darkness.'--Job x. 21.

The agnostic does not deny God or the possibility of eternity; Genesis
is not a legend to be laughed at; soul is not to be disputed. Agnostics
only stand upon the platform of their senses; they know by geological
research that earth was not created in six days; they know by
astronomical observation that the sun and moon could not stand still,
that if the earth paused one second of time in its velocity it would be
destroyed--blotted out utterly from the clusters of stars; by
naturalistic knowledge they have proved that the fauna of the earth
could not be gathered together or carried inside the Ark; souls have not
returned to them from that dark land beyond the grave; if there be
secrets, death has locked them up, and they cannot get past it and
return to tell their tale.

They doubt not, because they know not, neither do they believe. Faith is
a sentiment, as love is, or fear, only built up on a more slender
foundation; what they can see and touch they testify to, all beyond that
is beyond them.

Some say that agnostic means atheist; it does not. There are no
atheists, nor could any human mind capable of reason be atheistic,
because to be one it must be convinced beyond dispute and declared
definitely that there is no futurity and no God, and the most that
incredulous science can assert is that there is no evidence palpable of
the existence of a God. The atheist would be a fool unredeemed and
unredeemable, like to the man who, shutting his eyes, shouts out
insanely that it is dark to everyone, whether it is or not. The agnostic
by research has proved that he knows nothing, and there he stops; there
may or may not be. If bold he takes his risk of that 'to be'; from the
evidences of the beneficent order of Nature, he trusts his case in the
unknown hands: if it is Providence, that Providence is too all-wise to
revenge ignorance; if it is chance, he counts upon the hour.

Youth and strength and beauty and health are the aims of life to strive
after, the golden hours of summer, when sunshine lights up the heart of
all creation, and man, with the plants, feels the divine instinct of
life surging in him. He pauses irresolute at the first stratum of
earth's crust; beneath that metal plate seethes the fire; that
represents to him the beginning. Yet he knows that it was not. The world
revolves the portion of a circle; yet why that circle of a sun-centre,
or that wider circle within which both suns and earths revolve, or what
the centre which controls the entire system of immensity may be, he
dares not affirm. Our lives are miracles, yet we are habituated to them,
and name them chance. That the earth revolves is no greater wonder than
that it should stop and roll again; yet that it revolves constantly and
only stopped once, is the point that they will not approve. They learn
that era after era the earth was destroyed, and species created without
connecting links. Theorists as mad in their dogmatism and desire to
prove evolution, as they consider the devotionalist to be in his
supernatural credences, try to hang facts upon threads and dovetail
corner-pieces and centres, but science gives no encouragement to theory.
The agnostic, to be consistent, must hold aloof from Darwinism as he
holds back from faith doctrines; he must be content to use his eyes,
ears, nostrils, fingers, and mouth. Instinct or surmise with him cannot
be sense.

It is a fair day and a blue sky. The mountains are piles of softest
velvet, grey, mauve, olive green, and bistre; a soft air that inebriates
the brain and shakes the petals of the flush-rose; a day amongst fine
days to be hereafter long remembered, for the woman of his choice has
listened to his words Eros-shafted, and yielded up her will to his
discretion; is she not a type of more than earth-life as she stands
before him in the clear lustre of her maidenhood love-glorified? It is
not flesh-worship which sways him now, for her beauty has about it to
him the sanctity of the religion he cannot receive; in the humbleness of
his awe-freighted triumph he could forget his naturalism and cry out,
'Be thou my God!'

Around them wafts the odour of gardens and fields, the spirit of the
flowers is floating around, the soul of the sunbeam is kissing them
both, the union of outer beauty and inner life wraps them in the
all-pervading, everlasting folds; for who dare say that the soul of a
perfume can fade? His spirit clasps with her spirit, and both soar away,
with the multitudinous souls of things gone by, and things drifting on,
up those ladders of light into the presence of God. In this moment the
agnostic is an agnostic no longer, for he has seen heaven, whether he
believes it hereafter or not.

So love has opened to him the vision of St. John. It is woman who has
become the typified divinity, love which embraces faith and hope,
casting out self, yet surrounded by barricades of fears; it is an
instinct of humanity, as pity, grief, or that innate combination which
modern philosophy terms superstition, an elevated instinct of humanity,
for it is not the woman-flesh which inspires him with this rapturous
awe; it is the magnetic influence of the woman-soul over the man-soul,
and this the agnostic feels, in spite of all his former scientific rant
about body and brain.

At the present hour we stand on the threshold of mysteries, with the
rusted key in our hands which will open the closed door. Four thousand
years ago man halted here, with the key in his hand, only it was new and
glittering then, and used to that easily turned lock. Behind that door
waited legions of souls, upon the opening by man, when they would come
and tell him all that lay beyond the good land, his by right of gift,
theirs by right of heritage, and they brought with their knowledge great
power. That was the hour when myriads of agencies--each agency strong
enough to stop a planet--waited on the voice of the man who held the key
of the portals between their worlds and his; that was the hour when
Abraham and Lot spake with angels, when Pharaoh bent his scientific neck
before the miracles of calamity; that was the hour when the pillar of
fire passed through the sea, and unseen forces swept back the water till
they reared up great protecting walls--wondrous walls of sea-shells and
conglomerate, like some rare kind of polished marble, the specimens
alive but struck death-still with amazement, the roaring hushed as they
passed under the arching crests, a gleam of starry space far above, and
a glare along the watersides from that crimson pillar in front.

That was the hour when familiarity made remonstrance possible, and man
gauged the strength of his science against Almighty prescience, as he
does still, only then prescience replied directly to reason, and power
refuted by immediate evidence of cause and effect, for then reason did
not wilfully close its eyes upon possibility, and man owned the
superiority of his Creator.

It was a good land when the angels of God visited man upon the plains,
when the voice of God was heard within the mountains, when Enoch, by
preparation, body and soul, became spiritual enough to dispense with the
services of death; when Moses went up, with clear eye and upright head,
to make the last peace-offering--himself, on Mount Nebo: Moses who by
philosophy had rendered his mind fit to consort with the inner circle
around the throne, who by abnegation had rendered his body fit to offer
up the last great sacrifice for his people in the land of darkness, with
soul ready to be redeemed.

Ah! what an audience waited upon that solemn change, upon the dimming of
that eagle eye, the relaxing of that upright figure! No man can find his
grave--no man knows his end; yet we may conjecture that as he looked and
longed, with his body chained to Mount Nebo and his spirit flying over
the land, held to the mortal portion but by a thread, as the falcon is
held to wrist, an elastic cord that elongated as he flew, waxing thinner
as it farther stretched, until it was almost unseen; then death came
from that white-draped crowd, draped in the red robe of man's passionate
desire, flitting over, like a gleam of sunset, from the midst of
cherubim and seraphim, angel and archangel, flitting over his 'abeiyeh'
with gleaming fingers, lighting up his 'kefiyeh' as it sought for the
source of that unseen cord--the shears of death--red, golden shears have
clipped the link, and Moses is in Canaan, the heaven of his present
desires, and the supine clay is being attended to.

Nearly two thousand years ago the climax came to all that mystic
intercourse: from the supernatural unseen Teacher, God became the
natural sure friend and teacher of man, and so He has continued ever
since--amongst men when they like to have Him, imparting the knowledge
of the supernatural to those who choose to learn, holding out a key all
unrusted, in exchange for the key which we have ourselves left to lie
and become thickly clotted with rust.

There are angels passing still, for men have used that key; when the
lives are pure and the habits simple, when charity extends to wider
circles than humanity, and mercy embraces all creation; at times and in
obscure places, where God can speak, the Son of God instruct, and the
angels work miracles, as they did of old, where faith is paramount and
science can only gibber and scoff outside.

It is a good land to all; even to the agnostic, as he waits for
darkness, or annihilation, the sun shines hope, the west wind breathes
peace, the dew speaks promise when he walks abroad. Science is like the
mole, it must bore; it has no affinity with moving creation, it has no
interest with life or hope, it lives and battens with the ghouls amongst
the dead; yet the deepest borer in philosophy is but a man, and the man
part of him must enjoy light as long as science keeps from blinding him
entirely.

But to the devotionalist, the Christian, the God-worshipper, what a land
of bounty it is! I do not mean those narrow souls who dwell in a vale of
tears, those dyspeptic souls who can no more enjoy this world than they
will the next, but the man who honours God sufficiently to know that all
He created must be perfect--this world for man, the other worlds for
those who inhabit them, heaven only fair to the spirit to whom this
earth is good. Are not the summer clouds as they float through the
atmospheric belt the emblems of the angel forms which are ever passing
to and fro in the state beyond--the hills, and rivers, and valleys, the
ever-changing landscapes and aerial effects, all created for the
pleasure of man by the good Father, all symbolic and typical of the
pleasures of the future? It matters little what are the individual or
sect ideals of that Creator or futurity toward which they are wending,
whether they sit down in ecstatic contemplation, in the midst of
Nature's splendour, with the moment of final merging into the great
light before them, or look forward to that future when individuality is
retained and time alone is merged into eternity. To the man who believes
in immortality this earth smiles her sweetest, because there are no
melancholy surmises mingling with the present enjoyments. Virtue appeals
alike to believers and unbelievers as the wisest guide to follow, the
consequences of departure from her laws being immediate and independent
of the fear of future punishment. It is not hell which appals the
intellectual sinner and deters him from crime, but earth; manhood, not
morality; the pride of honour rather than the hope of everlasting
reward. But to the hopeless, or spirits who cannot rest upon a hope,
what are the pleasures of time but days spent in a condemned cell to the
doomed? Every sunset which glorifies the world is a day stolen from
precious existence. They glance backwards upon the past with yearning
pathos, to the hour when boyhood bounded along the track of life, and
religion was the pabulum of custom and Sunday-school the turning point
of the week. How foolish it all appears in their intellectual advance,
yet how joyous; with what hopeless envy they hear of the ambition of
young men and women, who rest their fame upon a class-prize or the
applause attending a choir-concert! Ah! those were days when the Son of
Man came near enough almost to be seen with the earthly eyes, and the
divine messages were palpable.

To the Christian poet and painter nature appears animated by the spirit
of a deathless Creator; the body dies, the seasons fade, but another
body as real comes forth, and nature spiritualised is revived as the
spring drapes the limbs of winter.

To the poet and painter to whom this earth means all, to whom the spirit
of nature is but the Greek soul that goes out with the change, never
more to be revived unless in the soul left behind, it is all beautiful,
but filled with woe; a soul of spring dying before the breath of summer,
summer shrinking before the chill of autumn, autumn crouching under the
iron heel of winter; death over all--death and despair; and this is the
creed of the agnostic.

But to believers, what is it but a continuation of everlasting joy? In
pain they see the blessed surcease; in sorrow the golden alleviation; in
death, the balmy sleep, and afterwards the glorious waking up; earth,
the garden of the Lord, where æsthetic tastes are gratified, where love
is generated and friendships are formed to be continued and cemented in
eternity, where soul-philosophy, and not pitiful brain-logic, is begun
to be followed out without an end, where problems are given to be
hereafter solved.

Is it not a good land to poet, painter, utilitarian, agnostic, and
devotionalist? When the sun rears from the ocean-bed and rides over the
fleecy clouds of morning, while all the ground is teeming with the
silver evaporation of pearly night dews; to the poet and painter as they
watch the tender colour-shafts, the subtle play of light and delicate
blue-grey shadows on the meadows where the cattle graze, over the
furrows that the plough is turning up, amongst the dancing ripples
adown the waste of heaving waters.

A good land, despite the evils which erring man has brought upon it--the
drink-devil who riots in palace and den and wanders even to the verge of
pellucid springs, the demon who is sapping the manhood from the human
race, who is making bare and bleak the fairest spots, the most
consecrated things on earth, whose lank talons spread beyond the grave
and rob Paradise of its rarest flowers; despite the smoke-fiend who is
aiding and abetting his brother drink to enervate the brain of workers;
the devils called luxury and indulgence in all their thousand disguises,
whether it be in eating, or drinking, or dressing; despite the vampire
called poverty, who squats hand in hand with crime, attended by despair
and utter misery.

A good land, where we can cast aside the trammels of cities and get out
to see it; where we can forget our brothers in iniquity, our brothers in
sorrow and starvation, depths which charity cannot cure, or
investigation eradicate, which rise up like black waves against our
stemming and threaten in the future to engulf us all.

A good land, where we can abnegate desire, learn to be poor as Christ
was poor in order to correct poverty; where we can conquer ourselves,
lay down the most clinging habit, for the sake of mankind, and by
example teach others at the lower level to be content with God's air,
and God's light, and go out to get them; where we can live with less
comfort, fewer tastes, and greater simplicity.

A good land, where the great social problem is solved and self-abolished
for cause, and men, proud of being poor, as now they grow arrogant in
wealth, join hands as little children, forgetting that bat-ghoul
philosophy, taking the gifts which God has given to them as the
foretaste of better things in store.

A good land here; but what is there to come, where Art begins?



INDEX


Abbey, 157

A B C of art, 115

Aberdonian clipper, 146

Academies, 96

Actions of nature, 28

Adoration in art, 255

Age of romance, 281

Agnosticism, 306-9

Aikenhead (Major), 97

Aissouas, the, 107

'Ally Sloper's Half Holiday,' 166, 167

Alma-Tadema, his work, 80, 193, 194, 273

Almanack, Comic, 166

Anatomy, 95

Ancient Egypt, style of, 299-301

'Ansidei Madonna,' its value, 231

Apocalypse, Albert Dürer's, 156

Ark, dimensions of, 135

Art, realism in, 34;
  fashion in, 90;
  instinct of, 98;
  lessons in, 102;
  savage, 102, 214-16;
  Eastern, 105;
  false, 107;
  true aim of, 108, 252;
  A B C of, 115;
  uses of, 117-18;
  practical, 157;
  individualism in, 160;
  influence of Turner on illustrative, 163;
  sacred, 250;
  sacrifices of, 252;
  imagination in, 254;
  adoration in, 255;
  soul in, 255;
  comic, 260;
  Dutch, 268;
  dignity in, 268, 293;
  symbol of, 291

Art course, time of, 116

Artist and butterfly, 291

Artists as readers, 273

Assyria, styles of, 60

Astronomy, artistic, 276

Atheism, 307

Australian experience, 108-12


Backgrounds, old style, 7

Barnard (F.), 157

Bayeux Tapestry, the, 139

Beauty, 209, 257;
  spirit of, 289

Bell, his 'Mary Queen of Scots,' 45

Bellini (Giovanni), 238

Bewick, 159, 160, 173

Black and gold marble, 189

'Black and White,' 165

Blake (William), 35, 89

Blemishes in marbles, 195

Blunders of science, 278

Boats, Egyptian, 136

Body colour, 92

Bolton, 171

Book, an illustrated, 152, 172-5

---- plates, 276

Books on painting, 83

Boots and feet, 200, 201, 203

Botany, artistic, 284

Botticelli (Sandro F.), 240

Bough (Sam), 82

Breydenbach's Travels, 155

Bronzino (Angelo), 240

Brushes, 69

Buddha, 298

Burnett on painting, 127, 129

Burns (Robert), 211

Byron (Lord), 89


Cameron (Hugh), 47, 48

Canvas, preparing a, 179

Carlyle (Thomas), 20, 87, 101

Cassell & Co., 155, 169

Centre line, the, 225

Chalmers (George Paul), 82, 239, 246, 292

Champs and champing, 183, 184

Chatto (W. A.), 150, 152

Chatto & Windus, 166

Chemistry of colour, 92

Chevreul, his book, 115

China collecting, 273

Classification of light, 129

Coleridge, 89, 217

Colour, body, 92;
  chemistry of, 92

---- perception, 269

Colours, blending of, 59;
  the primaries, 58

Combing, 181, 182

Comfort in ornament, 224

Comic Almanack, 166

---- art, 260

Consistency in ornament, 225

Constable (John), 86, 160

Contrast of ships, 142-5

Contrivance for lighting, 18

Copying, benefit of, 35;
  its use and abuse, 81

Correggio (Allegri, A. da), 85, 240, 247

Cox (David), 91

Crane (Walter), his work, 155, 173, 273

Creswick (Thomas), 161

Critics, 80

Cromwell, 305

Cross-bars, 184

Cross-hatching, 155

Cruelty of science, 290

Cruikshank (George), 157, 160, 166, 167, 260


'Daily Graphic,' 170

'Death of Procris,' 246

Decoration, 208

Designing, 114

Details, 77;
  of foregrounds, 268

Dignity in art, 268, 293

Distortion of vision, 33

Dobson (Austin), 150

Doré (Gustave), 82, 89, 95, 160, 168-171, 248

Dove marble, 191, 192

Dow (Gerard), 243

Drawing, 114;
  on the wood, 157

Dress, 99, 196;
  modesty in, 201;
  fashion in, 203-7

Drummond (William), 195

Dumas (A.), fils, 220

Dürer (Albert), 34-9, 44, 52, 155-7, 242, 274

Dutch Art, 268


Eastern Art, 105

Economy in Ornament, 224

'Editions de Luxe,' 175

Egypt, style of, 60

---- ancient, style of, 299-301

Egyptian boats, 136

'Eight Bells,' 113

Eliot (George), 220

'English Illustrated Magazine,' 165

Etching and Etchers, 41

Ex Libris, 272, 276

Ex Libris Society, 173

Exhibitions, 96, 261

Expression, 23

Eyck (Jan van), 243, 247


Faed (Thomas), 47, 82

Failures, the benefit of, 112

Faith, 312

False art, 107

Fashion in art, 90;
  in dress, 203-7

Feeling, 28

Fildes (Luke), 82

Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, 247

First coating, 178

Foreground flowers, 285

Foster (Birket), 173

---- (John), 53

Francesca (Piero della), 238

Frith, his 'Derby Day,' 87

Fuligno (Niccolo di), 247

Furniss (Harry), 167


Gainsborough (Thomas), 94

Galleys, Greek, 137

Garvagh 'Madonna,' the, 232, 234

George (Henry), 305

Gillray, 260

Glazing, 81

Goethe, 89

Goodwin Sands, 148

Gradation of shadows, 124

Graining, 86, 176, 178

Grammar of Art, the, 292

Grandi (Ercole de Giulio), 247

Granite, 192

'Graphic' (Daily), 170;
  (Weekly), 165

Greek ideals, 199

---- ships and galleys, 137

Grey, the quality of, 18

---- paper, the value of, 130

Ground for black and gold marble, 189

---- for maplewood, 187

---- for oak, 180

Gum tree, the, 110-2


Hag, the, 46

Half-tones, 19

Hals (Frans), 243

Hamerton, 41

Hannibal, 296

Harmony, 128

'Harper's Monthly,' 165

Harvey (Sir George), 82

Hatching work, 92

Hatherell (William R. I.), 165

Hayden (Dr. G.), 41

'Henri Grâce à Dieu,' 140

Henry the Eighth, 241

Heraldry, 276

Herdman, 82

Herkomer, 41

Hobbema, his work, 248

Hogarth (William), 157, 159, 160, 268

Holbein (Hans), his work, 241, 244

Homer, 218-220, 293

Hunt (Holman), 63

---- (William), 15, 36, 54

Huxley, 214


Illusive Effects, 123

Illustrative art, Turner's influence on, 163

Image, the, 29

---- of Fame, the, 295

Imagination in art, 254

Imitation of nature, 28

Impressionists, school of, 53

Impressions of pictures, 230

Individualism in art, 160

Insects, 289

Instantaneous effects of nature, 126

---- photography, 29, 164

Instinct of art, 98

Irving (Henry), 222

Israels (Jozef), 64

Italian marbles, 192

---- school of painters, 128


Jackson, 152

Job, 102

Judgment in painting, 270

'Julius II. (Pope),' 234


Kingsley (Charles), 216

Knotting, 177

Knowles (Davidson), 145

Knox (Dr.), his work, 115


Landscape Photography, 42

Lastman (Peter), 35

Lawrence (Sir Thomas), 19

Leech (John), 260

Leighton (Sir F.), 80

Lessons in art, 102

Libraries, arrangement of, 275

Lichens, mosses, &c., 287

Life and nature studies, 116

Light, classification of, 129

---- and shadow, proportions of, 17;
  the effect of, 127

Lighting, 16;
  contrivances for, 18
  phenomenal laws of, 120

Lippi (Fra Filippo), 240, 247

Lockhart, 82

Lorenzo da San Severino, 247

'Lorna Doone' (Blackmore's), 164

Lorraine, Claude, 248, 249, 293

Loutherbourg (P. J. de), 146

Love the revealer, 309

Low-toned School, the, 64


Macdonald, 82

Madonna, Ansidei, its value, 231

'Magazine of Art,' 165

Mahogany, to grain, 188, 189

Mahomet, 293

Mannerism, 160

Mantegna (Cav. Andrea), 247

Maple wood, to grain, 187, 188

Marble, black and gold, 189;
  blemishes in, 195;
  method of working black and gold, 189-191

Marbles, Italian, 192

Masonry, 276

Matsys (Quintin), 243

Max (Gabriel), 250, 251

Mechanical workers, 126

Memory, 226

Michael Angelo (Buonarroti), 15, 80, 246, 247, 293

Millais (Sir John), 52, 80, 89

Millet (J. F.), 54

Milton, 101

Modern painters, 66

Modesty in dress, 201

Modjeska (Madame), her art, 208

Mora, his photographic work, 27

Moroni, his work, 234, 237, 238, 240

Moses, as Prince Rameses, 299-304;
  death of (word picture), 311

Murillo (Bartolomeo Esteban), 179, 189, 240, 242, 293


Napoleon, 298, 299

National Gallery, 229

Nature, imitation of, 28;
  sketching from, 31;
  how to approach, 73-5;
  instantaneous effects of, 126;
  the guide to taste, 189;
  different methods of seeing, 313, 314

Nature worship, 297, 304

Nimmo (John C.), 236

Notes, shorthand, 83;
  how to take, 103, 104


Oak graining, the art of, 180;
  tools required for, 181

Oil painting, 115

Operators, photographic, 6, 7

Orchardson, 47, 48, 49, 50, 80

Original ideas, 101

Ornament, 211-3;
  comfort in, 224;
  economy in, 225;
  consistency in, 225

Outline work, 154

Over-graining, 184

Overwork, danger of, 71


Painters, modern, 66;
  Italian School of, 128

Painting, books on, 83;
  water-colour, 92;
  oil, 115;
  judgment in, 270

Paper, a scrap of, 284

Parsons (Alfred), 157, 163

Paton (Sir J. Noel), 82, 273

---- (Waller), 82

P. and O. Liners, 144

Perspective, 94

Perugino (P. V.), 36

Pettie (John), 47, 80

Phoenicia, 219

Photographic operators, 6, 7

Photography, instantaneous, 29, 164;
  landscape, 42

Picture, what to seek in a, 258

Pictures, the buying of, 91;
  impressions of, 230

Pilkington, 34

Piombo (S. del), 247

Poliphili, the, 155

'Pope Julius II.,' 234

Popularity, 245

'Portrait of a Tailor,' 234

Posing, 12

Poussin (G.), 248

Practical art, 157

Pre-Raphaelitism, 63;
  mistaken efforts of, 126

Primaries, the, 58

Priming, 177

'Procris, Death of,' 246

Proportions of light and shadow, 17

'Proserpina,' 72

Public opinion, 271

'Punch,' 166


Rameses, Prince (Moses), 299-304

Raphael, 36, 91, 231-5, 251

Rat-tails, 182, 183

Reade (Charles), 176, 177

Realism in art, 34

Reflection, 255, 256

Relief, 128

Rembrandt, 20, 23, 35, 39-42, 45-50, 65, 86,
129, 157, 159, 234, 239, 240, 243-5

Reni (Guido), 238, 239

Repose, 256

Retouching, 20

Reuwich (Erhard), 155

Reynolds (Sir J.), 15, 19, 83, 236

Riggers, 185

'Rivers of France' series, 162

Road, effect of light upon, 127

Roman ships, 137

Romance, age of, 281

Rosa (Salvator), 78, 85, 248

Rubens (Sir Peter Paul), 15, 19, 80, 85, 238, 240, 243

Rules, 79

Ruskin (John), 32, 53, 56-8, 65, 66, 70-2,
83-7, 91, 101, 179, 186, 193, 239, 244, 249


Sacred Art, 250

Sacrifice of art, 252

Sandals, 204

Sarony, his photographs, 27

Sarto (Andrea del), 239, 240

Savage art, 102, 214-7

Science, blunders of, 278; cruelty of, 290

Scott (David), 89

'Scribner's Monthly,' 54

Scumbling, 81;
  for oak, 181

Seavey, his backgrounds, 27

Second coating, 178

Shadows, gradation of, 129

Shakespeare, 70, 101, 104, 160

Shelley, 73, 89

Ships, 133, 134, 140, 161;
  Greek, 137;
  Roman, 137;
  contrast of, 142-5

Signorelli (Luca), 247

Sketching from nature, 31

Sky pictures, 280, 282-4

Small (William), 157, 165

Social problems, 314-5

Soul in art, 255

Spagnoletto, 242

Spirit of beauty, 289

Stages of painting, 67;
  of the globe, 279, 280

Stanfield (W. C.), 146

Stanley (H. M.), 29

Stars, 277

Stippling, 92

Stirling-Maxwell (Sir W.), 236

'Stones of Venice,' 71

Studio visiting, 88

Style, 82

Styles, 184

Subject, confidence in, 221

Subtlety, 217

Swinburne, 217

Symbol of art, 291


Teniers (David), 35, 47-9, 243, 268

Third coating, 178

Thomson (D. C.), 150

Thomson (Joseph), 29

Tiepolo, 246

Time for art course, 116

Tintoretto, 80, 85, 247, 263, 264

Titian, 15, 85, 91, 247, 263, 264

Tone, 81

Tones, half, 19

Tools required for oak graining, 181

Torchlight, effect of, 121

Trees, 286, 287

True aims of art, 108, 252

Tunny, 53

Turner (J. M. W.), 32, 65, 70, 86, 157, 161, 173, 244, 248, 249;
  his influence on illustrative art, 163

Tyndall, 214


Uses of Art, 117, 118

Utilitarianism, 305, 306


Vandyke (Sir A.), 36, 80, 243, 244

Velasquez, 236, 240, 241, 247

Viking craft, 138, 139

Vinci (Leonardo da), 115, 246

Vision, distortion of, 33


Walnut, how to grain, 188, 189

Water-colour painting, 92

Weyden, 243

Whistler (J. McNeill), 20, 86, 91, 236, 245

Whitman (Walt), 44, 45, 217

Wilkie (Sir David), 50, 243

Wohlgemuth (Michael), 35

Wood, drawing on the, 157

Word-painting, 303, 304, 311

Wordsworth, 89

Worth, 99, 100

Wyllie (C. W.), 165


Youth and Age, 313


Zola, 43, 44, 221

Zurbaran (Francisco), 242

Zwanenburg, 35

THE END

                              PRINTED BY
                SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE
                                LONDON

[Illustration]


FOOTNOTES:

 [1] Only, not to the encouragement of lazy habits; at times (for the
 sake of practice) a painter ought to draw the most minute point-detail
 with the pencil, as a singer practises his scales; otherwise, for the
 object, the photo is most to be relied upon for truth in all, _except
 in perspective_.

 [2] For an example of what I mean, see the effects in 'Choice Blends'
 in 'The Idler'.

 [3] See 'Specimen Days and Collects,' by Walt Whitman, page 306 of
 Collects. Want of room prevents me giving the specimen in full, and I
 dare not mutilate such a literary masterpiece.

 [4] See 'Mary Queen of Scots,' by Bell--last scene.

 [5] The snow scenes are exquisite, and one exhibited, of a camp fire
 with figures, a perfect triumph of misty refinement; the faces seen
 through the smoke particularly to be observed. I would also call the
 reader's attention to his cattle studies, and the printing done on
 rough hand-made paper--flat and like sepia and Indian-ink work, only
 far more refined than hand-work could be.

 [6] Some days before the death of Millet, a stag was chased by hunters
 and dogs into a neighbour's garden and butchered before the dying
 man's gaze. 'I take it as an omen,' he said mournfully, and prepared
 for the earth-end.

 [7] Esther i. 6.

 [8] I have seen this picture since writing these remarks, but without
 changing my opinion concerning it.

 [9] As a worker of broad effects, I lay myself open to be charged with
 bigotry when I condemn the pre-Raphaelites, and accept the risk.

 [10] See _Life and Nature Studies_.

 [11] I called attention to the marvellous medicinal virtues of this
 Eucalyptus-tree long before it was generally accepted by the Faculty.
 See 'Picturesque Australasia' and 'A Colonial Tramp,' &c.

 [12] _See_ 'A New Guinea Village,' p. 125.

 [13] _See_ Frontispiece: 'A New Zealand Fern Gully.'

 [14] See also _A Treatise on Wood Engraving_, by Chatto & Jackson, p.
 46.

 [15] The same excuse applies to this present work.

 [16] The numbers in this chapter are those of February 1892.

 [17] George Paul Chalmers, an Edinburgh artist, is the only colourist
 who really followed Rembrandt in his method. He used sometimes to take
 sixty sittings to one portrait, and hardly ever finished any of his
 works, so fastidious was he; yet as far as he perfected he was very
 perfect as a colourist.

       *       *       *       *       *

Typographical errors corrected by the etext transcriber:

thum-bhole=> thumb-hole {pg 68}

thes ame=> the same {pg 191}

Niccolo of Fuligno;=> by Niccolo of Fuligno; {pg 247}

No. 35, Titian; 'Mercury=> No. 35, by Titian; 'Mercury {pg 247}

Savage art, 102, 214-1=> Savage art, 102, 214-7 {pg index}





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