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Title: Nietzsche and Art
Author: Ludovici, Anthony M. (Anthony Mario)
Language: English
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Author of 'Who is to be Master of the World?'

"Rien n'est beau que le vrai, dit un vers respecté; et moi, je lui
réponds, sans crainte d'un blasphème: Rien n'est vrai sans beauté."
--Alfred de Musset.




[Illustration: Sekhet (Louvre)]


"We philosophers are never more delighted than when we are taken for

In this book, which embodies a course of lectures delivered in a
somewhat condensed and summarized form at University College, London,
during November and December, 1910, I have done two things. I have
propounded Nietzsche's general Art doctrine, and, with the view of
illustrating it and of defining it further, I have also applied its
leading principles to one of the main branches of Art.

As this has not been done before, either in English or in any
Continental language, my book is certainly not free from the crudeness
and inadvertences which are inseparable from pioneer efforts of this
nature. Nevertheless it is with complete confidence, and a deep
conviction of its necessity, that I now see it go to print; for,
even if here and there its adventurous spirit may ultimately require
modification, I feel certain that, in the main, time itself, together
with the help of other writers, will fully confirm its general thesis,
if I should be unable to do so.

Sooner or later it will be brought home to us in Europe that we
cannot with impunity foster and cultivate vulgarity and mob qualities
in our architecture, our sculpture, our painting, our music and
literature, without paying very dearly for these luxuries in our
respective national politics, in our family institutions, and even
in our physique. To connect all these things together, and to show
their inevitable interdependence, would be a perfectly possible though
arduous undertaking. In any case, this is not quite the task I have
set myself in this work. I have indeed shown that to bestow admiration
on a work of extreme democratic painting and at the same time to be
convinced of the value of an aristocratic order of society, is to
be guilty of a confusion of ideas which ultimately can lead only to
disastrous results in practical life; but further than this I have not
gone, simply because the compass of these lectures did not permit of my
so doing.

Confining myself strictly to Nietzsche's æsthetic, I have been content
merely to show that the highest Art, or Ruler Art, and therefore the
highest beauty,--in which culture is opposed to natural rudeness,
selection to natural chaos, and simplicity to natural complexity,--can
be the flower and product only of an aristocratic society which, in its
traditions and its active life, has observed, and continues to observe,
the three aristocratic principles,--culture, selection and simplicity.

Following Nietzsche closely, I have sought to demonstrate the
difference between the art which comes of inner poverty (realism, or
democratic art), and that which is the result of inner riches (Ruler

Identifying the first with the reflex actions which respond to external
stimuli, I have shown it to be slavishly dependent upon environment
for its existence, and, on that account, either beneath reality
(Incompetence), on a level with reality (Realism), or fantastically
different from reality (Romanticism). I have, moreover, associated
these three forms of inferior art with democracy, because in democracy
I find three conditions which are conducive to their cultivation,
viz.--(1) The right of self-assertion granted to everybody, and the
consequent necessary deterioration of world-interpretations owing to
the fact that the function of interpretation is claimed by mediocrity;
(2) the belief in a general truth that can be made common to all, which
seems to become prevalent in democratic times, and which perforce
reduces us to the only truth that can be made common to all, namely
Reality; and (3) a democratic dislike of recognizing the mark or stamp
of any _particular_ human power in the things interpreted, and man's
consequent "return to Nature" untouched by man, which, once again, is

Identifying Ruler Art, or the Art of inner riches, with the function of
giving, I have shown it to be dependent upon four conditions which are
quite inseparable from an aristocratic society, and which I therefore
associate, without any hesitation, as Nietzsche does, with Higher Man,
with Nature's rare and _lucky strokes_ among men. These conditions are
--(1) Long tradition under the sway of noble and inviolable values,
resulting in an accumulation of will power and a superabundance of good
spirits; (2) leisure which allows of meditation, and therefore of that
process of lowering pitchers into the wells of inner riches; (3) the
disbelief in freedom for freedom's sake without a purpose or without an
aim; and (4) an order of rank according to which each is given a place
in keeping with his value, and authority and reverence are upheld.

In the course of this exposition, it will be seen that I have to lay
realism also at the door of Ruler Art; but I am careful to point out
that, although such realism (I call it _militant realism_ in respect
to the art both of the Middle Ages and of the later Renaissance, as
well as of Greece) is a fault, of Ruler Art which very much reduces
the latter's rank among the arts; it is nevertheless above that other
realism of mediocrity which, for the want of a better term, I call
_poverty realism_. (See Lecture II, Part II, end.)

In order firmly to establish the difference between the Ruler and
Democratic styles I ought, perhaps, to have entered with more
thoroughness than I have done into the meditative nature of the one,
and the empirical nature of the other. This, apart from a few very
unmistakable hints, I have unfortunately been unable to do. I found
it quite impossible to include all the detail bearing upon the main
thesis, in this first treatise; and, though I have resolved to discuss
these important matters very soon, in the form of supplementary essays,
I can but acknowledge here that I recognize their omission as a blemish.

The wide field covered by this book, and the small form in which I
was compelled to cast it, have thus led to many questions remaining
inadequately answered and to many statements being left insufficiently
substantiated. In the end I found it quite impossible to avail myself
even of a third of the material I had collected for its production,
and I should therefore be grateful if it could be regarded more in the
light of a preliminary survey of the ground to be built upon, rather
than as a finished building taking its foundation in Nietzsche's
philosophy of Art.

With regard to all my utterances on Egypt, I should like the reader
kindly to bear only this in mind: that my choice of Egyptian art, as
the best example of Ruler Art we possess, is neither arbitrary nor
capricious; but, because it is neither arbitrary nor capricious, it
does not follow that I regard a return to the types of Egypt as the
only possible salvation of the graphic arts. This would be sheer
Romanticism and sentimentality. "A thousand paths are there which have
never yet been trodden; a thousand salubrities and hidden islands of
life. Unexhausted and undiscovered is still man and man's world" (_Z._,
I, XXII.).

It is rather the spirit which led to this Egyptian Art, which I regard
as so necessary to all great achievements, either in legislation, art,
or religion; and whether this spirit happens to be found on the banks
of the Nile, in the Vatican, or in Mexico. I point to it merely as
something which we ought to prize and cherish, and which we now possess
only in an extremely diluted and decadent form. It is the spirit which
will establish order at all costs, whose manner of exploiting higher
men is to look upon the world through their transfiguring vision, and
which believes that it is better for mankind to attain to a high level,
even in ones, twos, or threes, than that the bulk of humanity should
begin to doubt that man can attain to a high level at all.

This spirit might produce any number of types; it is not necessary,
therefore, that the Egyptian type should be regarded as precisely the
one to be desired. I do but call your attention to these granite and
diorite sculptures, because behind them I feel the presence and the
power of that attitude towards life which the ancient Pharaohs held and
reverenced, and which I find reflected in Nietzsche's Art values.

       *       *       *       *       *

In quoting from German authorities, where I have not been able to
give reference to standard English translations, I have translated
the extracts from the original myself, for the convenience of English
readers; while, in the case of French works, I have deliberately given
the original text, only when I felt that the sense might suffer by

I should now like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Oscar Levy, who
has always been ready to place his valuable time and wide knowledge at
my disposal whenever I have expressed the smallest desire of consulting
him on any difficult point that may have arisen during the preparation
of these lectures. And I should also like to acknowledge the help
afforded me by both Mr. J. M. Kennedy and Dr. Mügge,--the one through
his extensive acquaintance with Eastern literature, and the other
through his valuable bibliography of works relating to Nietzsche's life
and philosophy.

It only remains for me to thank the Committee and the Provost of
University College, Gower Street, for their kindness, and for the
generous hospitality which they have now extended to me on two separate
occasions; and, finally, to avail myself of this opportunity in order
to express my grateful recognition of the trouble taken on my behalf by
Professor Robert Priebsch and Mr. Walter W. Seton of London University,
on both occasions when I had the honour of delivering a course of
lectures at their College.

                                                   ANTHONY M. LUDOVICI.
February 1911.

[1] Friedrich Nietzsche's Gesämmelte Briefe, vol. 111, p. 305.



    PART I

    Anarchy in Modern Art

    The State of Modern Art

    The Fine Arts:
    1. The Artists
    2. The Public
    3. The Critics
    4. Some Art-Criticisms


    Suggested Causes of the Anarchy in Modern Art

    1. Morbid Irritability
    2. Misleading Systems of Æsthetic
    3. Our Heritage:--
    (a) Christianity
    (b) Protestantism
    (c) Philosophical Influences
    (d) The Evolutionary Hypothesis


    Government in Art--Nietzsche's Definition of Art

    PART I

    Divine Art and the Man--God

    1. The World "Without Form" and "Void"
    2. The First Artists
    3. The People and their Man-God
    4. The Danger
    5. The Two Kinds of Artists


    Deductions from Part I--Nietzsche's Art Principles

    1. The Spirit of the Age incompatible with Ruler Art
    2. A Thrust parried. Police or Detective Art defined
    3. The Purpose of Art Still the Same as Ever
    4. The Artist's and the Layman's View of Life
    5. The Confusion of the Two Points of View
    6. The Meaning of Beauty of Form and of Beauty of Content in Art
    7. The Meaning of Ugliness of Form and of Ugliness of Content in Art
    8. The Ruler-Artist's Style and Subject


    Landscape and Portrait Painting

    1. The Value "Ugly" in the Mouth of the Dionysian Artist
    2. Landscape Painting
    3. Portrait Painting


    Nietzsche's art principles in the history of art

    PART I

    Christianity and the Renaissance

    1. Rome and the Christian Ideal
    2. The Pagan Type appropriated and transformed by Christian Art
    3. The Gothic Building and Sentiment
    4. The Renaissance


    Greece and Egypt

    1. Greek Art
    (a) The Parthenon
    (b) The Apollo of Tenea
    (c) The Two Art-Wills of Ancient Greece
    (d) Greek Painting

    2. Egyptian Art
    (a) King Khephrën
    (b) The Lady Nophret
    (c) The Pyramid


    Sekhet (_Louvre_) Frontispiece
    The Marriage of Mary, by Raphael (_Brera, Milan_)
    Saskia, by Rembrandt (_Dresden Royal Picture Gallery_)
    The Canon of Polycleitus (_Rome_)
    The Apollo of Tenea (_Glyptothek, Munich_)
    The Medusa Metope of Selinus (_Palermo_)
    King Khephrën (_Cairo Museum_)
    The Lady Nophret (_Cairo Museum_)

    Abbreviations Used in Referring to Nietzsche's Works

    E. I.      =     The Future of our Educational Institutions.
    B. T.      =     The Birth of Tragedy.
    H. A. H.   =     Human All-too-Human.
    D. D.      =     Dawn of Day.
    J. W.      =     Joyful Wisdom.
    Z.         =     Thus spake Zarathustra.
    G. E.      =     Beyond Good and Evil.
    G. M.      =     The Genealogy of Morals.
    C. W.      =     The Case of Wagner and Nietzsche contra Wagner.
    T. I.      =     The Twilight of the Idols.
    A.         =     Antichrist.
    W. P.      =     The Will to Power.

    The English renderings given in this book are taken from the
    Complete and Authorized Translation of Nietzsche's Works
    edited by Oscar Levy.

    (This edition in 18 volumes is entirely being made available
    at Doctrine Publishing Corporation too, also with a linked index to all works
    as last volume, and will be completed soon.--Transcriber's Note.)

Nietzsche and Art

Lecture I[1]

Part I

Anarchy in Modern Art

    "Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord
    did there confound the language of all the earth: and from
    thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all
    the earth."--_Genesis_ xi. 9.

"Concerning great things," said Nietzsche, "one should either be
silent, or one should speak loftily:--loftily, that is to say,
cynically and innocently."[2]

Art is a great thing. Maybe it is the greatest thing on earth.
Wherever and whenever Nietzsche speaks about it he always does so
loftily, and with reverence; while his position as an anchorite, and
as an artist who kept aloof from the traffic for fame, allowed him to
retain that innocence in his point of view, which he maintains is so
necessary in the treatment of such a subject.

As the children of an age in which Art is rapidly losing its prestige,
we modern Europeans may perhaps feel a little inclined to purse our
lips at the religious solemnity with which Nietzsche approaches this
matter. So large a number of vital forces have been applied to the
object of giving us entertainment in our large cities, that it is now
no longer a simple matter to divorce Art altogether in our minds from
the category of things whose sole purpose is to amuse or please us.

Some there are, of course, who would repudiate this suggestion
indignantly, and who would claim for Art a very high moral purpose.
These moralists apart, however, it seems safe to say, that in the
minds of most people to-day, Art is a thing which either leaves them
utterly unmoved, or to which they turn only when they are in need of
distraction, of decoration for their homes, or of stimulation in their

Leaving the discussion of Nietzsche's personal view of Art to the next
lecture, I shall now first attempt, from his standpoint, a general
examination of the condition of Art at the present day, which, though
it will be necessarily rapid and sketchy, will, I hope, not prove
inadequate for my purpose.

Before I proceed, however, I should like to be allowed to call your
attention to the difficulties of my task. As far as I am aware, mine is
the first attempt that has been made, either here or abroad, to place
an exhaustive account of Nietzsche's Art doctrine before any audience.
But for one or two German writers, who have discussed Nietzsche
--the artist--tentatively and hesitatingly, I know of no one who has
endeavoured to do so after having had recourse to all his utterances
on the subject, nor do I know of anybody who has applied his æsthetic
principles to any particular branch or branches of Art. It is therefore
with some reason that I now crave your indulgence for my undertaking
and beg you to remember that it is entirely of a pioneer nature.

Many of you here, perhaps, are already acquainted with Nietzsche's
philosophy, and are also intimately associated with one of the branches
of Art. Nevertheless, let me warn you before I begin, that you may have
to listen to heresies that will try your patience to the utmost.

I also am intimately associated with one of the branches of Art, and my
traditions are Art traditions. I can well imagine, therefore, how some
of you will receive many of the statements I am about to make; and I
can only entreat you to bear with me patiently until the end, if only
with the hope that, after all, there may be something worth thinking
about, if not worth embracing, in what you are going to hear.

Two years ago, in this same hall, I had the honour of addressing an
audience on the subject of Nietzsche's moral and evolutionary views,
and, since then, I have wondered whether I really selected the more
important side of his philosophy for my first lectures. If it were
not for the fact that the whole of his thought is, as it were, of one
single piece, harmoniously and consistently woven, I should doubt that
I had selected the more vital portion of it; for it is impossible to
overrate the value of his Art doctrine--especially to us, the children
of an age so full of perplexity, doubt and confusion as this one is. In
taking Nietzsche's Art principles and Art criticism as a basis for a
new valuation of Art, I am doing nothing that is likely to astonish the
careful student of Nietzsche's works.

Friends and foes alike have found themselves compelled to agree upon
this point, that Nietzsche, whatever he may have been besides, was at
least a great artist and a great thinker on Art.

On the ground that he was solely and purely an artist some have even
denied his claim to the title Philosopher. Among the more celebrated
of modern writers who have done this, is the Italian critic Benedetto
Croce;[3] while Julius Zeitler declares that "Nietzsche's artistic
standpoint should be regarded as the very basis of all his thought,"
and that "no better access could be discovered to his spirit than by
way of his æsthetic."[4]

Certainly, from the dawn of his literary career, Art seems to have
been one of Nietzsche's most constant preoccupations. Even the general
argument of his last work, _The Will to Power_, is an entirely artistic
one; while his hatred of Christianity was the hatred of an artist
long before it became the hatred of an aristocratic moralist, or of a
prophet of Superman.

In _The Birth of Tragedy_, a book in which, by the bye, he declares that
there can be but one justification of the world, and that is as an
æsthetic phenomenon,[4] we find the following words--

"To the purely æsthetic world interpretation ... taught in this book,
there is no greater antithesis than the Christian dogma, which is
_only_ and will be only moral, and which, with its absolute standards,
for instance, its truthfulness of God, relegates--that is, disowns,
convicts, condemns--Art, all Art, to the realm of falsehood. Behind
such a mode of thought and valuation, which, if at all genuine, must
be hostile to Art, I always experienced what was _hostile to life_, the
wrathful vindictive counter will to life itself: for all life rests on
appearance, Art, illusion, optics, and necessity of perspective and

Nietzsche's works are, however, full of the evidences of an artistic

Who but an artist, knowing the joy of creating, for instance, could
have laid such stress upon the creative act as the great salvation from
suffering and an alleviation of life?[6] Who but an artist could have been
an atheist out of his lust to create?

"For what could be created, if there were Gods!" cries Zarathustra.[7]

But, above all, who save an artist could have elevated taste to such
a high place as a criterion of value, and have made his own personal
taste the standard for so many grave valuations?

"And ye tell me, my friends," says Zarathustra, "that there is to be no
dispute about taste and tasting? But all life is a dispute about taste
and tasting!

"Taste: that is weight at the same time, and scales and weigher; and
alas for every living thing that would live without dispute about
weight and scales and weighing!"[8]

But it is more particularly in Nietzsche's understanding of the
instinct which drove him to expression, and in his attitude towards
those whom he would teach, that we recognize the typical artist, in
the highest acceptation of the word--that is to say, as a creature of
abundance, who must give thereof or perish. Out of plenitude and riches
only, do his words come to us. With him there can be no question of
eloquence as the result of poverty, vindictiveness, spite, resentment,
or envy; for such eloquence is of the swamp.[9] Where he is wrath, he
speaks from above, where he despises his contempt is prompted by love
alone, and where he annihilates he does so as a creator.[10]

"Mine impatient love," he says, "floweth over in streams, down towards
the sunrise and the sunset. From out silent mountains and tempests of
affliction, rusheth my soul into the valleys.

"Too long have I yearned and scanned the far horizon. Too long hath the
shroud of solitude been upon me: thus have I lost the habit of silence.

"A tongue have I become and little else besides, and the brawling of a
brook, falling from lofty rocks: downward into the dale will I pour my

"And let the torrent of my love dash into all blocked highways. How
could a torrent help but find its way to the sea!

"Verily, a lake lies within me, complacent and alone; but the torrent
of my love draws this along with it, down--into the ocean!

"New highways I tread, new worlds come unto me; like all creators I
have grown weary of old tongues. No longer will my spirit walk on
worn-out soles.

"Too slow footed is all speech for me:--Into thy chariot, O storm, do I
leap! And even thee will I scourge with my devilry.

"Thus spake Zarathustra."[11]

[1] Delivered at University College on Dec. 1st, 1910.

[2] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 1.

[2] Æsthetic (translation by Douglas Ainslie), p. 350.

[3] Nietzsches Æsthetik, p. 5.

[4] _B. T._, p. 183.

[5] _B. T._, pp. 9, 10.

[6] _Z._, II, XXIV.

[7] _Z._, II, XXIV.

[8] _Z._, II, XXXV. See also La Bruyère's reply to his countrymen's
popular belief, "des goûts et des couleurs on ne peut discuter," in Les
Caractères: Des ouvrages de l'esprit, Aph. 10.

[9] _Z._, III, LVI.

[10] _Z._, II, XXXIV.

[11] _Z._, II, XXIII.

The State of Modern Art.

The Art of to-day, unholy and undivine as the Tower of Babel, seems to
have incurred the wrath of a mighty godhead, and those who were at work
upon it have abandoned it to its fate, and have scattered apart--all
speaking different tongues, and all filled with confusion.

Precisely on account of the disorder which now prevails in this
department of life, sincere and honest people find it difficult to show
the interest in it, which would be only compatible with its importance.

Probably but few men, to-day, could fall on their knees and sob at
the deathbed of a great artist, as Pope Leo X once did. Maybe there
are but one or two who, like the Taiko's generals, when Teaism was in
the ascendancy in Japan, would prefer the present of a rare work of
art to a large grant of territory as a reward of victory;[12] and there
is certainly not one individual in our midst but would curl his lips
at the thought of a mere servant sacrificing his life for a precious

And yet, says the Japanese writer, Okakura-Kakuzo, "many of our
favourite dramas in Japan are based on the loss and subsequent recovery
of a noted masterpiece."[13]

In this part of the world to-day, not only the author, but also the
audience for such dramas is entirely lacking.

The layman, as well as the artist, knows perfectly well that this
is so. Appalled by the disorder, contradictoriness, and difference
of opinion among artists, the layman has ceased to think seriously
about Art; while artists themselves are so perplexed by the want of
solidarity in their ranks, that they too are beginning to question the
wherefore of their existence.

Not only does every one arrogate to himself the right to utter his word
upon Art; but Art's throne itself is now claimed by thousands upon
thousands of usurpers--each of whom has a "free personality" which
he insists upon expressing,[14] and to whom severe law and order would be
an insuperable barrier. Exaggerated individualism and anarchy are the
result. But such results are everywhere inevitable, when all æsthetic
canons have been abolished, and when there is no longer anybody strong
enough to command or to lead.

"Knowest thou not who is most needed of all?" says Zarathustra. "He who
commandeth great things.

"To execute great things is difficult; but the more difficult task is
to command great things."[15]

Direct commanding of any sort, however, as Nietzsche declares, has
ceased long since. "In cases," he observes, "where it is believed that
the leader and bell-wether cannot be dispensed with, attempt after
attempt is made nowadays to replace commanders by the summing together
of clever gregarious men: all representative constitutions, for
example, are of this origin."[16]

Although, in this inquiry, the Fine Arts will be the subject of
my particular attention, it should not be supposed that this is
necessarily the department in modern life in which Nietzsche believed
most disorder, most incompetence, and most scepticism prevails. I
selected the Fine Arts, in the first place, merely because they are the
arts concerning which I am best informed, and to which the Nietzschean
doctrine can be admirably applied; and secondly, because sculpture and
painting offer a wealth of examples known to all, which facilitates
anything in the way of an exposition. For even outsiders and plain men
in the street must be beginning to have more than an inkling of the
chaos and confusion which now reigns in other spheres besides the Fine
Arts. It must be apparent to most people that, in every department
of modern life where culture and not calculation, where taste and
not figures, where ability and not qualifications, are alone able to
achieve anything great--that is to say, in religion, in morality, in
law, in politics, in music, in architecture, and finally in the plastic
arts, precision and government are now practically at an end.

"Disintegration," says Nietzsche,"--that is to say, uncertainty--is
peculiar to this age: nothing stands on solid ground or on a sound
faith.... All our road is slippery and dangerous, while the ice
which still bears us has grown unconscionably thin: we all feel the
mild and gruesome breath of the thaw-wind--soon, where we are walking,
no one will any longer be able to stand!"[17]

We do not require to be told that in religion and moral matters,
scarcely any two specialists are agreed--the extraordinarily large
number of religious sects in England alone needs but to be mentioned
here; in law we divine that things are in a bad state; in politics even
our eyes are beginning to give us evidence of the serious uncertainty
prevailing; while in architecture and music the case is pitiable.

"If we really wished, if we actually dared to devise a style of
architecture which corresponded to the state of our souls," says
Nietzsche, "a labyrinth would be the building we should erect. But," he
adds, "we are too cowardly to construct anything which would be such a
complete revelation of our hearts."[18]

However elementary our technical knowledge of the matter may be, we, as
simple inquirers, have but to look about our streets to-day, in order
to convince ourselves of the ignominious muddle of modern architecture.
Here we find structural expedients used as ornaments,[19] the most rigid
parts of buildings, in form (the rectangular parts, etc.), placed
near the roof instead of in the basement,[20] and pillars standing
supporting, and supported by, nothing.[21] Elsewhere we see solids
over voids,[22] mullions supporting arches,[23] key-stones introduced into
lintels,[24] real windows appearing as mere holes in the wall, while the
ornamental windows are shams,[25] and pilasters resting on key-stones.[26]

And, everywhere, we see recent requirements masked and concealed behind
Greek, Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo, and Baroque embellishments,
thrown together helter-skelter, and with a disregard of structural
demands which must startle even the uninitiated.[27]

Our streets are ugly in the extreme.[28] Only at night, as Camille
Mauclair says, does the artificial light convert their hideousness
into a sort of lugubrious grandeur,[29] and that is perhaps why, to the
sensitive artistic Londoner, the darkness of night or the pale glow of
the moon is such a solace and relief.

As to the state of modern music, this is best described perhaps, though
with perfectly unconscious irony, by Mr. Henry Davey, in the opening
words of his _Student's Musical History_.

"Music has indeed been defined," he says, "as 'sound with regular
vibrations,' other sounds being called noise. This definition," the
author adds, "is only suited to undeveloped music; modern music may
include noise and even silence."[30]

People are mistaken if they suppose that Nietzsche, in attacking
Wagner as he did, was prompted by any personal animosity or other
considerations foreign to the question of music. In Wagner, Nietzsche
saw a Romanticist of the strongest possible type, and he was opposed
to the Romantic School of Music, because of its indifference to form.
Always an opponent of anarchy, despite all that his critics may say
to the contrary, Nietzsche saw with great misgiving the decline and
decay of melody and rhythm in modern music, and in attacking Wagner
as the embodiment of the Romantic School, he merely personified the
movement to which he felt himself so fundamentally opposed. And in
this opposition he was not alone. The Romantic movement, assailed by
many, will continue to be assailed, until all its evil influences are

"Since the days of Beethoven," says Emil Naumann, "instrumental
music, generally speaking, has retrograded as regards spontaneity of
invention, thematic working, and mastery of art form,"[31] and the same
author declares that he regards all modern masters as the natural
outcome of the Romantic era.[32]

Nietzsche has told us in his Wagner pamphlets what he demands from
music,[33] and this he certainly could not get from the kind of music
which is all the rage just now.

What it lacks in invention it tries to make up in idiosyncrasy,
intricacy, and complexity, and that which it cannot assume in the
matter of form, it attempts to convert into a virtue and a principle.[34]

"Bombast and complexity in music," says P. von Lind, "as in any other
art, are always a sign of inferiority; for they betray an artist's
incapacity to express himself simply, clearly, and exhaustively--three
leading qualities in our great heroes of music (_Tonheroen_). In this
respect the whole of modern music, including Wagner's, is inferior to
the music of the past."[35]

But of all modern musical critics, perhaps Richard Hamann is
the most desperate concerning the work of recent composers. His book on
Impressionism and Art entirely supports Nietzsche's condemnation of the
drift of modern music, and in his references to Wagner, even the words
lie uses seem to have been drawn from the Nietzschean vocabulary.[36]

Briefly what he complains of in the music of the day is its want of
form,[37] its abuse of discord,[38] its hundred and one different artifices
for producing nerve-exciting and nerve-stimulating effects,[39] its
predilection in favour of cacophonous instruments,[40] its unwarrantable
sudden changes in rhythm or tempo within the same movement,[41] its habit
of delaying the solving chord, as in the love-death passage of Tristan
and Isolde,[42] and, finally, its realism, of which a typical example is
Strauss's "By a Lonely Brook"--all purely Nietzschean objections!

Well might Mr. Allen cry out: "Oh for the classic simplicity of a
bygone age, the golden age of music that hath passed away!"[43] But
the trouble does not end here; for, if we are to believe a certain
organ-builder, bell-founder and pianoforte-maker of ripe experience, it
has actually descended into the sphere of instrument-making as well.[44]

[12] Okakura-Kakuzo, _The Book of Tea_, pp. 112, 113.

[13] _The Book of Tea_, p. 112.

[14] See in this regard _B. T._, pp. 54, 55.

[15] _Z._, II. XLVI.

[16] _G. E._, p.121.

[17] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 55.

[18] _D. D._, Aph. 169.

[19] This is such a common fault that it is superfluous to give
particular examples of it, but the New War Office in Whitehall is a
good case in point.

[20] Local Government Board building; Piccadilly Hotel (Regent St.

[21] Piccadilly Hotel (Piccadilly side), and the Sicilian Avenue,

[22] New Scotland Yard.

[23] Gaiety Theatre; the new Y.M.C.A. building, Tottenham Court Road.

[24] Local Government Board.

[25] Gaiety Theatre.

[26] Marylebone Workhouse.

[27] See Fergusson's Introduction to his _History of Modern

[28] See W. Morris's _Address on the Decorative Arts_, pp. 18, 19.

[29] _Trois crises de l'art actuel_, p. 243.

[30] _The Student's Musical History_, p. 1.

[31] _History of Music_, Vol. II, p. 927. See also _The Student's
Musical History_, by Henry Davey, p. 97. "Weakness of rhythm is the
main reason of the inferiority of the romantic composers to their

[32] _History of Music_, p. 1195. See also P. v. Lind, _Moderner
Geschmack und moderne Musik_, in which the author complains of the
excessive virtuosity, want of faith and science of modern music, while
on p. 34 he, too, calls all modern musicians romanticists.

[33] See especially _C. W._, pp. 59, 60.

[34] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 276.

[35] _Moderner Geschmack und moderne Musik_, p. 54.

[36] Der Impressionismus in Leben und Kunst.

[37] _Ibid_., pp. 53, 57.

[38] _Ibid_., p. 64.

[39] _Ibid_., p. 67.

[40] _Ibid_., p. 69.

[41] _Ibid_., p. 74.

[42] _Ibid_., p. 61.

[43] _The Fallacy of Modern Music_, p. 10.

[44] _A Protest against the Modern Development of Unmusical Tone_, by
Thomas C. Lewis.

The Fine Arts.--1. The Artists.

Turning, now, to Painting and Sculpture, what is it precisely that we

In this branch of Art, chaos and anarchy are scarcely the words to use.
The condition is rather one of complete and hopeless dissolution. There
is neither a direction, a goal, nor a purpose. Slavish realism side
by side with crude conventions, incompetence side by side with wasted
talent, coloured photography side by side with deliberate eccentricity,
and scientific principles applied to things that do not matter in
the least: these are a few of the features which are noticeable at a
first glance. Going a little deeper, we find that the whole concept of
what Art really is seems to be totally lacking in the work of modern
painters and sculptors, and, if we were forced to formulate a Broad
definition for the painting and sculpture of our time, we should find
ourselves compelled to say that they are no more than a _field in which
more or less interesting people manifest their more or less interesting

There is nothing in this definition which is likely to offend the
modern artist. On the contrary, he would probably approve of it all
too hastily. But, in approving of it, he would confess himself utterly
ignorant of what Art actually is, and means, and purposes in our midst.

Or to state the case differently: it is not that the modern artist
has no notion at all of what Art is; but, that his notion is one
which belittles, humiliates and debases Art, root and branch.

To have gazed with understanding at the divine Art of Egypt, to have
studied Egyptian realism and Egyptian conventionalism; to have stood
doubtfully before Greek sculpture, even of the best period, and to have
known how to place it in the order of rank among the art-products of
the world; finally, to have learnt to value the Art of the Middle Ages,
not so much because of its form, but because of its content: these are
experiences which ultimately make one stand aghast before the work of
our modern men, and even before the work of some of their predecessors,
and to ask oneself into whose hands could Art have passed that she
should have fallen so low?

Whether one look on a Sargent or on a Poynter, on a Rodin or on a
Brock, on a Vuillard or on a Maurice Denis, on an Alfred East or on a
Monet, the question in one's heart will be; not, why are these men so
poor? but, why are they so modest?--why are they so humble?--why, in
fact, are their voices so obsequiously servile and faint? One will ask:
not, why do these men paint or mould as they do? but, why do they paint
or mould at all?

Ugliness, in the sense of amorphousness, one will be able to explain.
Ugliness, in this sense, although its position in Art has not yet been
properly accounted for, one will be able to classify perfectly well.
But this tremulousness, this plebeian embarrassment, this democratic
desire to please, above all, this democratic disinclination to assume
a position of authority,--these are things which contradict the
very essence of Art, and these are the things which are found in the
productions of almost every European school to-day.

But, as a matter of fact, to do artists justice, beneath all the
tremendous activity of modern times in both branches of the art we are
discussing, there is, among the thinking members of the profession,
a feeling of purposelessness, of doubt and pessimism, which is ill
concealed, even in their work. The best of these artists know, and
will even tell you, that there are no canons, that individuality is
absolute, and that the aim of all their work is extremely doubtful, if
not impossible to determine. There is not much quarrelling done, or
hand-to-hand scuffling engaged in; because no one feels sufficiently
firm on his own legs to stand up and oppose the doctrine that "there is
no accounting for tastes." A clammy, deathlike stillness reigns over
the whole of this seething disagreement and antagonism in principles.
Not since Whistler fired his bright missiles into the press has the
report of a decent-sized gun been heard; and this peace in chaos, this
silence in confusion, is full of the suggestion of decomposition and

"Art appears to be surrounded by the magic influence of death," says
Nietzsche, "and in a short time mankind will be celebrating festivals
of memory in honour of it."[45]

With but one or two brilliant exceptions, that which characterizes
modern painting and modern sculpture is, generally speaking, its
complete lack of Art in the sense in which I shall use this word in my
next lecture. This indeed, as you will see, covers everything. For the
present purpose, however, let it be said that, from the Nietzschean
standpoint, the painters and sculptors of the present age are deficient
in dignity, in pride, in faith, and, above all, in love.

They are too dependent upon environment, upon Nature, to give a
direction and a meaning to their exalted calling; they are too
disunited and too lawless to be leaders; they are in an age too chaotic
and too sceptical to be able to find a "wherefore" and a "whither" for
themselves; and, above all, there are too many pretenders in their
ranks--too many who ought never to have painted or moulded at all--to
make it possible for the greatest among them to elevate the Cause of
Art to its proper level.

No æsthetic canon is to be seen or traced anywhere; nobody knows one,
nobody dares to assert one. The rule that tastes cannot be disputed is
now the only rule that prevails, and, behind this rule, the basest,
meanest and most preposterous individual claims are able to make their
influence felt.

Certainly, it is true, there is no accounting for tastes; but, once
a particular taste has revealed itself it ought to be possible to
classify it and to point out where it belongs and whither it is going
to lead. Undoubtedly a man's taste cannot be taken from him, because
its roots are in his constitution; but, once he has identified himself
with a particular form of taste, it ought to be possible to identify
him too,--that is to say, to realize his rank and his value.

If it is impossible to do this nowadays, it is because there is no
criterion to guide us. It will therefore be my endeavour to establish a
criterion, based upon Nietzsche's æsthetic, and, in the course of these
lectures, to classify a few forms of taste in accordance with it.

Meanwhile, however, the inquiry into the present condition of the Fine
Arts must be continued; and this shall now be done by taking up the
public's standpoint.

[45] _H. A. H._, Vol. I, pp. 205, 206.

2. _The Public._

The man who goes to a modern exhibition of pictures and sculptures,
experiences visually what they experience aurally who stand on a
Sunday evening within sight of the Marble Arch, just inside Hyde Park.
Not only different voices and different subjects are in the air; but
fundamentally different conceptions of life, profoundly and utterly
antagonistic outlooks.

The Academy, The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and
Gravers, The Royal Society of British Artists, The New English Art
Club, The Salon des Artistes Français, and the Salon des Beaux Arts,
are all alike in this; and the International's scorn of the Academy,[46]
xvi or the Academy's scorn of it, is as ridiculous as the Beaux Arts'
scorn of the Salon, or vice versâ.

It is quite foolish, therefore, to inveigh against the public for their
bad taste, Philistinism and apathy. How can they be expected to know,
where there are no teachers? How can they be otherwise than apathetic
where keen interest must perforce culminate in confusion? How can they
have good taste or any taste at all, where there is no order of rank in

We know the torments of the modern lay student of Art, when he asks
himself uprightly and earnestly whether he should say "yes" or "no"
before a picture or a piece of sculpture. We know the moments of
impotent hesitancy during which he racks his brains for some canon
or rule on which to base his judgment, and we sympathize with his
blushes when finally he inquires after the name of the artist, before
volunteering to express an opinion.

At least a name is some sort of a standard nowadays. In the absence of
other standards it is something to cling to; and the modern visitor to
an Art exhibition has precious little to cling to, poor soul!

Still, even names become perplexing in the end; for it soon occurs to
the lay student in question that, not only Millais, but also Leighton,
Whistler, Rodin, Frith, Watts, Gauguin, John, and Vuillard have names
in the Art world.

Now, it is generally at this stage that such a student of Art either
retires disconcerted from his first attempts at grappling with the
problem, and takes refuge in indifference; or else, from the depth of
his despair, draws a certain courage which makes him say that, after
all, _he knows what he likes_. Even if he does utter a heresy at times
against fashion or against culture, he knows what pleases him.

And thus is formed that large concourse of people who set up what they
like and dislike as the standard of taste.

It is in vain that painters and sculptors deplore the existence of this
part of their audience. It is they themselves who are responsible for
its existence. It is the anarchy in their own ranks that has infected
the bravest of their followers.

The taste of the masses, endowed with self-confidence in this way, is
now a potent force in European Art, and among those so-called artists
who do not suffer under the existing state of affairs, there are many
who actually conform and submit to this mob-rule. In my next lecture I
shall show how even the art-canons of the lay masses have been adopted
by some painters and sculptors in perfect good faith.

"Too long have we acknowledged them to be right, these petty people,"
says Zarathustra. "Thus we have at last given them power as well;--and
now they teach that 'good' is only what petty people call 'good.'"

It is on this account that many sincere and refined natures turn
reluctantly away from Art altogether nowadays, and begin to doubt
whether it serves any good purpose in the world at all. They grow weary
of the humbug of the studios, the affectation of gushing amateurs, and
the snobbery of the lionizing disciple of one particular school, and
doubt the honesty even of his leader. They grow timid and renounce
all judgment in Art, wondering whether any of it really matters. In
a gingerly fashion they still hold on to generally accepted views,--
views that time seems to have endorsed,--and thus they very often give
all their attention to the Old Masters.[48]

And yet, it is in thus turning away with contempt from modern Art, that
sincere people tacitly acknowledge how profoundly serious the question
is on which they have turned their backs. For, it is the horror of its
disorder that makes them disconsolate: they could continue facing this
disorder only if the matter were less important.

Passing over that unfortunately large percentage of up-to-date people,
in whose minds Art in general is associated with jewellery, French
pastry and goldfish, as a more or less superfluous, though pleasing,
luxury, the rest of the civilized world certainly feels with varying
degrees of conviction that Art has some essential bearing upon life;
and, though few will grant it the importance that Nietzsche claims for
it, a goodly number will realize that it is quite impossible to reckon
without it.

Now, if by chance, one of the last-mentioned people, having grown
disgusted at the prevailing degeneration of Art, should start out in
quest of a canon, or a standard whereby he might take his bearings in
the sea of confusion around him, what are we to suppose would await him?

Unfortunately, we know only too well what awaits him!

He may turn to the art-critics--the class of men which society
sustains for his special benefit in art matters,--or he may turn to
the philosophers. He may spend years and years of labour in studying
the Art and thought of Antiquity, of the Middle Ages, and of the
Renaissance; but, unless he have sufficient independence of spirit to
distrust not only the Art, but every single manifestation of modern
life, and to try to find what the general corrosive is which seems to
be active everywhere, it is extremely doubtful whether he will ever
succeed in reaching a bourne or a destination of any sort whatsoever.

He will still be asking: "What is a good poem?" "What is good music?"
--and, above all, "What is a good picture or a good statue?"

We know the difficulties of the layman, and even of the artist in
this matter; for most of us who have thought about Art at all have
experienced these same difficulties.

The general need, then, I repeat, is a definite canon,[49] a definite
statement as to the aim and purpose of Art, and the establishment of an
order of rank among tastes. Once more, I declare that I have attempted
to arrive at these things by the principles of Nietzsche's Æsthetic;
but, in order to forestall the amusement which an announcement of this
sort is bound to provoke nowadays, let me remind you of two things:
_First_, that any artistic canon must necessarily be relative to a
certain type of man; and _secondly_, that the most that an establishment
of an order of rank among tastes can do for you, is to allow you the
opportunity of exercising some choice--a choice of type in manhood,
therefore a choice as to a mode of life, and therefore a choice of
values, and the customs and conditions that spring from them.

At present you have no such choice. You certainly have the option of
following either Rodin and Renoir, or Whistler and Manet, or Sargent
and Boldini, or John and Gauguin, or Herkomer and Lavery; but not one
of you can say, "If I follow the first couple I shall be going in such
and such a direction," or, "If I follow the second couple I shall be
travelling towards this or that goal,"--this you would scarcely be
able to say; neither could your leaders help you.

[46] For some amusing, and, at the same time, shrewd, remarks
concerning the International Society, I would refer the reader to Mr.
Wake _Cook's Anarchism in Art_ (Cassell & Co.). I agree on the whole
with what Mr. Wake Cook says, but cannot appreciate his remarks on

[47] _Z._, IV, LXVII.

[48] In a _Times_ leader of the 20th December, 1909, the writer puts
the case very well. After referring to the heated controversy which
was then raging round the Berlin wax bust that Dr. Bode declared to be
a Leonardo, the writer goes on to say: "... it is amusing to see how
the merit of the work is forgotten in the dispute about its origin. It
seems to be assumed that if it is by Leonardo it must be a great work
of art, and if by Lucas nothing of the kind.... This fact proves what
needs no proving, that there are many wealthy connoisseurs who buy
works of art not for their intrinsic merit, but for what is supposed to
be their authenticity.... This state of things reveals an extraordinary
timidity in buyers of works of art. If they all trusted their own
taste" [that is to say, if they had a taste of their own based upon
some reliable canon] "names would have no value. The intrinsic merit
of a work of art is not affected by the name it bears.... Yet in the
market the name of a great painter is worth more than the inspiration
of a lesser one.... Hence many people believe that it is far more
difficult to understand pictures than literature.... But there is no
more mystery about pictures than about literature. It is only the
market that makes a mystery of them, and the market does this because
it is timid." In other words: because it does not know.

[49] On this point see _Questionings on Criticism and Beauty_, by the
Rt. Hon. A. J. Balfour. (Oxford University Press.) Mr. Balfour entirely
agrees that to-day we are driven to a kind of anarchy of individual
preferences, and he acknowledges that he is not satisfied to remain in
this position. He does not seem to recognize, however, how curiously
and almost perfectly this anarchy in Art coincides with a certain
anarchy in other departments of life, and thus, although it displeases
him, he sees in it no imminent danger, or no hint that Art and life
react in any way upon each other.

3. The Critics.

Now, to return to our lay-student of Art, let us suppose that he first
approaches the art-critics of the day for guidance. Will there be one
among these men who will satisfy him? Is there a single art-critic
either of the nineteenth or twentieth century who knew, or who knows,
his business?

It is possible to point to one or two, and even so, in doing this, one
is prompted more by a sense of kindness than by a sense of accuracy.
Some Continental critics, Camille Mauclair and Muther among them, and
here and there an English critic like R. A. M. Stevenson, occasionally
seem to hit a nail on the head; but as a rule, one can say with
Coventry Patmore: "There is little that is conclusive or fruitful in
any of the criticism of the present day."[50]

For the most part it is written by men who know absurdly little of
their subject, and who, if they do know it, are acquainted much more
with its chronological and encyclopædic than with its philosophical
side. There is not much conscience either, or much acumen, in these
men; and they are as a rule concerned with questions that are
irrelevant to the point at issue. Like a certain kind of insect, as
Nietzsche very justly remarks, they live by stinging; but their stings
serve no purpose save that of providing them with their food.[51]

They are, perhaps, less to blame than the artists themselves for the
state of affairs that exists to-day; but, while the artists have
betrayed only themselves, the critics have betrayed the reading
public. They have neither resisted nor condemned the flood of anarchy
that has swept over the art-world; they have rather promoted it in
every way in their power, abetting and applauding artists in their
lawlessness. In fairness to some of them, however, it should be said,
that in encouraging the confusion and disorder around them they very
often acted with almost religious sincerity. This reservation applies
to Ruskin, for instance, and to many other critics writing for the
better-class papers.

Lest this be considered as an overstatement of the case, hear what one
of these men himself actually says concerning his own profession! Mr.
Frank Rutter, writing in 1907, expressed himself as follows:--

"In olden days the press used to lead public opinion; now it meekly
follows because its courage has been sapped by servile cringing to
the advertiser, because its antics and sensational inaccuracy have
brought it into contempt. No longer commanding the authority of a
parent or guardian, it seeks to attract attention by the methods of the
cheap-jack. The few exceptions surviving only prove the rule."[52]

Finding themselves forced to speak of other things than "The Purpose of
Art," "The Standard of Beauty," and "The Canons of Art"--simply because
nobody now knows anything about these matters, or dares to assert
anything concerning them,--the better-class art-critics, feeling that
they must do something more than state merely their opinions concerning
the work under notice--in fact, that they must give their reasons for
their praise or blame--have lately been compelled to have recourse to
the only field that is open to them, and that is _technique_.

Now, while Mr. Clutton Brock seems perfectly justified in deprecating
these tactics on the part of some of his brother critics, and while
Mr. Rutter seems quite wrong in upholding them, the question which
naturally arises out of the controversy is: what is there left to the
critic to talk about?

If he is no longer able to judge of the general tendency and teaching
of a play, and if he is no longer able to regard it æsthetically,
what can he do but analyse the playwright's grammar, and seek out the
latter's split infinitives, his insufficient use of the subjunctive
mood, his Cockney idioms and Cockney solecisms?

We agree with Mr. Clutton Brock that ... "the public has no concern
with the process of production but only with the product"; and
that "if Art _were in a healthy state_[53] the public would know this
and would not ask for technical criticism." We also agree that "the
critic's proper business is with the product, not with the process of
production; to explain their own understanding and enjoyment of the
meaning and beauty of works of art, and not the technical means by
which they have been made."[54]

But, while we agree with all this, we cannot help sympathizing with the
late R. A. M. Stevenson and his admirer Mr. Frank Rutter; for their
dilemma is unique.

When Monsieur Domergue of the French Academy assured his friend
Beauzée confidentially that he had discovered that Voltaire didn't
know grammar, Beauzée very rightly replied with some irony: "I am much
obliged to you for telling me; now I know that it is possible to do
without it."[55]

And this is the only reply that ought to be made to any criticism which
analyses the technique of a real work of Art; since it is obvious,
that if technical questions are uppermost, the work is by implication
unworthy of consideration in all other respects.[56]

[50] _Principles in Art_, p. 4.

[51] _H. A. H_., Vol. II, Aph. 164.

[52] _The Academy_, August 24th, 1907. Article, "The Pursuit of Taste."

[53] The italics are mine.

[54] _The Academy_, Oct. 26th, 1907. Article, "The Hypochondria of Art."

[55] Monsieur de Saint Ange's Reception Speech, 1810.

[56] There is, however, a further excuse for Mr. Rutter and his school
of critics, and that is, that in an age like this one, in which
Amateurism is rampant, the critic very often performs a salutary office
in condemning a work on purely technical grounds. I, for my part,
am quite convinced that the morbid attention which is now paid to
technique is simply a result of the extraordinary preponderance of the
art-student element in our midst.

4. Some Art Criticisms.

In order further to establish my contention, it might perhaps be an
advantage to refer to some criticisms that have actually been made.
It will not be necessary to give more than one or two of these,
because everybody must know that similar instances could be multiplied
indefinitely; but while I shall limit the selection, I should not like
it to be thought that the cases I present are not absolutely typical.

Quite recently the art-world has been staring with something akin to
amazement, not unmingled here and there with indignation, at the work
of one Augustus John, in whose pictures they have found at once a
problem and an innovation.

Now, without for the present wishing to express any opinion at all upon
Mr. John's work, this at least seemed quite clear to me when I first
saw it; namely, that it challenged profound analysis. Unconsciously or
consciously, Mr. John seemed to re-question a whole number of things
afresh. The direction of Art, the purpose of Art, the essence of
Art, the value of Art--these are some of the subjects into which he
provoked me to inquire.

Here was an opportunity for the more wise among the critics to show
their wisdom. This was essentially a case in which the public required
expert guidance. Augustus John comes forward with a new concept of what
is beautiful. He says pictorially this and that is beautiful. Are we to
follow him or to reject him?

Hear one or two critics:--

Commenting upon one of Mr. Max Beerbohm's caricatures in the Spring
Exhibition of the New English Art Club, 1909, the Times critic writes
as follows--"Here an art-critic meets a number of Mr. John's strange
females with long necks and bent, unlovely heads, like a child's
copy of a Primitive; and the puzzled critic ejaculates, 'How odd
it seems that thirty years hence I may be desperately in love with
these ladies!' Odd, indeed, but perfectly possible," continues the
Timesexpert. "Some of us have learned, in twenty years, to find nature
in Claude Monet, and the time may come when the women in Mr. John's
'Going to the Sea,' or in the 'Family Group' at the Grafton, will seem
as beautiful as the Venus de Milo. The 'return of Night primeval and of
old chaos' may be nearer than we think." Then after paying Mr. John's
drawing a compliment, the writer continues: "But can any one, for
all that, whose mind is not warped by purely technical prepossession
in favour of a technician, say that the picture would not have been
enormously improved if the artist had thought more of nature and less
of his 'types' If Mr. John would throw his types to the winds, look
for a beautiful model, and paint her as she is, we should not have to
wait the thirty years of Mr. Max Beerbohm's critic, but might begin to
fall in love with her at once."[57]

And this, let me assure you, is a comparatively able criticism!

But, what guidance does it give? Why is it so timid and non-committing?
And, where it is committing, why is it so vague? The words "beautiful
model" mean absolutely nothing nowadays. How, then, can the critic
employ them without defining the particular sense in which he wishes
them to be understood?

I examined this picture of Mr. John's, as also the one at the Grafton.
Both of them were full of his personal solution of the deepest problems
associated with the ideas of Art and beauty; but how can we know
whether to accept these solutions unless they are made quite plain by
our critics? It may be suggested that Mr. John's solutions of these
problems is not sufficiently important. Why, then, discuss them at all?

The _Daily Telegraph_ also contained a so-called criticism of Mr. John.
After commenting, as the previous critic did, upon Mr. Max Beerbohm's
caricature and the words accompanying it, the writer proceeds: "How
true--to give the most obvious of all instances--with respect to
Wagner! And yet Mr. Max Beerbohm, the satirist, is as regards the
actual moment, not quite, quite up to date. To-day, for fear of
being accused of a Bœotian denseness, we hasten to acclaim, if not
necessarily to enjoy, Cézanne, Maurice Denis, the neo-Impressionists,
etc., etc."[58]

"For fear of being accused of Bœotian denseness!" Yes, that is the
whole trouble! Apparently, then, if we are to believe the _Daily
Telegraph_ critic, Mr. John has been acclaimed, simply in order that his
critics may escape the gibe of being classically dense!

Possessing neither the necessary knowledge, nor the necessary values,
nor yet the necessary certainty, to take up a definite stand for or
against, these critics "acclaim" novelty, in whatever garb it may come,
lest, perchance, their intelligence be for one instant doubted. Very
good!--at least this is a confession which reveals both their humility
and their honesty, and, since it entirely supports my contention, I am
entirely grateful for it.

But what ought to be said to the implied, ingenuous and perfectly
unwarrantable assumption, that that which posterity endorses must of
necessity have been right all along? Why should Wagner be vindicated
simply because an age subsequent to his own happens to rave about
him? Before such posthumous success can vindicate a man, surely the
age in which it occurs must be duly valued. In the event of its being
more lofty, more noble, and more tasteful than the age which preceded
it, then certainly posthumous fame is a vindication; but if the case
be otherwise, then it is a condemnation. In an ascending culture the
classic of yesterday becomes the primitive of to-morrow, and in a
declining culture the decadent of yesterday becomes the classic of
to-morrow. Thus in valuing, say, Michelangelo, it all depends whence
you come. If you come from Egypt and walk down towards him, your
opinion will be very different from that of the man who comes from
twentieth-century Europe and who walks up towards him.

But we are not ascending so rapidly or so materially--if we are
ascending at all--as to make posthumous success a guarantee of
excellence. In fact, precisely the converse might be true, and men
who are now quickly forgotten, may be all the greater on that account
alone. In any case, however, the matter is not so obvious as to allow
us to make the broad generalizations we do concerning it.

Perhaps, in order to be quite fair, I ought now to refer to other
critics, as well as to other criticisms concerning John written by the
critics already quoted. True, in the Times for October 14th, 1905,
there appears a more elaborate discussion of Mr. John's powers. (I say
more elaborate, but I mean more lengthy!) And the _Daily Telegraph_ has
also given us more careful views, as, for instance, in their issues of
October 17th, 1905, and November 23rd, 1909. I doubt, however, whether
it could be honestly said that one really understands any better how to
place Mr. John after having read the articles in question, though, in
making this objection, I should like it to be understood, that I regard
it as applying not only to the art-criticism of the two particular
papers to which I have referred, but to art-criticism in general.[59]

Most of what we read on this matter in the sphere of journalism is
pure badinage, and little besides--entertainingly and ably written
it is true, but generally very wide of the fundamental principles at
stake, and of that consciousness of dealing with a deeply serious
question, which the subject Art ought to awaken.

No one seems to feel nowadays that a picture, like a sonnet, like a
sonata, and like a statue, if it claim attention at all, should claim
the attention of all those who are most deeply concerned with the
problems of Life, Humanity, and the Future; and that every breath of
Art comes from the lungs of Life herself, and is full of indications as
to her condition.

When one says these things nowadays, people are apt to regard one as a
little peculiar, a little morbid, and perhaps a little too earnest as
well. Only two or three months ago, a certain critic, commenting upon a
sentence of mine in my Introduction to Nietzsche's _Case of Wagner_,[60]
in which I declared that "the principles of Art are inextricably bound
up with the laws of Life," assured the readers of the Nation that "the
plainest facts of everyday life contradict this theory of non-artistic
philosophers in their arm-chairs."[61] And thus the fundamental
questions are shelved, year after year, while Art withers, and real
artists become ever more and more scarce.

"I loathe this great city," cried Zarathustra.

"Woe to this great city!--And I would that I already saw the pillar of
fire in which it will be consumed!

"For such pillars of fire must precede the great noontide. But this
hath its time and its own fate."[62]

[57] _The Times_, May 22nd, 1909.

[58] _The Daily Telegraph_, May 31st, 1909.

[59] A further example of what I mean can be found in the _Morning
Post's_ article (4th April), on the International Society's 1910
Show. Here the writer's only comments on a Simon Bussy (No. 149),
which really required serious treatment, or no treatment at all, are:
"Could any English tourist at Mentone see that resort in the terms
of M. Bussy?" And his comments on an important Monet (No. 133) are:
"What happy Idler at Antibes other than a Frenchman could record
the particular impression of Monet (No. 133), even in enjoying the
hospitalities of Eilenroe?"

[60] Dr. Oscar Levy's Authorized English Edition of Nietzsche's
_Complete Works._

[61] _The Nation_, July 9th, 1910.

[62] _Z._, III, LI.

Part II

Suggested Causes Of The Anarchy In Modern Art

    "... To them gave he power to become the sons of God, even
    to them that do believe in his name."--_John_ i. 12.

And now, what are the causes of this depression and this madness in
Art? For Nietzsche was not alone in recognizing it. Many voices, some
wholly trustworthy, have been raised in support of his view.

It could only have been the unsatisfactory conditions, even in his
time, that made Hegel regard Art as practically dead; for, as Croce
and Monsieur Bénard rightly observe, Hegel's _Vorlesungen über Æsthetik_
are Art's dirge.[1] Schopenhauer's extraordinary misunderstanding
of Art, also, precisely like Plato's,[2] can be explained only by
supposing that the examples of Art which he saw about him misled his
otherwise penetrating judgment. Even Ruskin's vague and wholly confused
utterances on the subject are evidence of his groping efforts to find
his way in the disorder of his time. And, as to the voices of lesser
men, their name is legion.

Two eminent Englishmen of the last century, however, were both clear
and emphatic in their denunciation of the age in which they lived. I
refer to Matthew Arnold and William Morris. The former made a most
illuminating analysis of some of the influences which have conduced
to bring about the regrettable state of modern life, while William
Morris--less philosophical perhaps, and more direct, though totally
wrong in the remedies he advocates--bewailed Art's unhappy plight as

"I must in plain words say of the Decorative Arts, of all the arts,
that it is not merely that we are inferior in them to all who have
gone before us, but also that they are in a state of anarchy and
disorganization, that makes a sweeping change necessary and certain."[3]

There can be no doubt, therefore, that what Nietzsche saw was a plain
fact to very many thinking men besides; but, in tracing the conditions
to precise and definite causes, Nietzsche by far excelled any of his

Before proceeding, however, to examine the more general causes that he
suggests, I should like to pause here a moment, in order to dispose
of one particular cause which, although of tremendous importance for
us moderns, can scarcely be regarded as having been active for a very
long period. I refer to the manner in which Nietzsche accounts for a
good deal that is incompetent and futile, in the Art of the present day
only, by pointing to a psychological misapprehension which is, alas,
but all too common. I should not have broken my general narrative with
the consideration of this particular cause, had it not been that I feel
sure it will help laymen, and artists as well, to account for much that
will still remain obscure, even after the more general causes have been

[1] Benedetto Croce, _Æsthetic_ (translated by Douglas Ainslie), p.
308, and Monsieur Bénard's critical survey of Hegel's _Æsthetik_ in
_Cours d'Esthétique_, Vol. V. p. 493.

[2] On this point see Schelling, _Sämmtliche Werke_, Vol. V,
"Vorlesungen über die Methode des akademischen Studiums," pp. 346-47.

[3] _The Decorative Arts_, an address delivered before the Trades Guild
of Learning, p. 11.

1. Morbid Irritability.

Nietzsche recognized that this age is one in which Will is not merely
diseased, but almost paralyzed. Everywhere he saw men and women, youths
and girls, who are unable to resist a stimulus, however slight; who
react with excessive speed in the presence of an irritant, and who
bedeck this weakness and this irritability with all the finest gala
dresses and disguises that they can lay their hands on.[4]

In Determinism he saw the philosophical abstract of this fact; in our
novels and plays he saw its representation under the cloak of passion
and emotion; in the Darwinian theory of the influence of environment,
he saw it logged out in scientific garb, and in the modern artist's
dependence upon an appeal to Nature for inspiration--i. e. for a spur
to react upon, he recognized its unhealthiest manifestation.

"The power of resisting stimuli is on the wane," he says; "the strength
required in order to stop action, and to cease from reacting, is most
seriously diseased."[5]

"Man unlearns the art of _doing_, and _all he does is to react_ to
stimuli coming from his environment."[6]

Speaking of the modern artist, he refers to "the absurd irritability of
his system, which makes a crisis out of every one of his experiences,
and deprives him of all calm reflection,"[7] and, while describing
Europeans in general, he lays stress upon their "spontaneous and
changeable natures."[8]

In calling our attention to these things, Nietzsche certainly laid his
finger on the root of a good deal for which the other more general
causes which I shall adduce fail to account.

There can be no doubt that this irritability does exist, and that it
causes large numbers of unrefined and undesirable men and women to
enter the arts to-day, who are absolutely mistaken in their diagnosis
of their condition. We are all only too ready to conceal our defects
beneath euphemistic interpretations of them, and we most decidedly
prefer, if we have the choice, to regard any morbid symptoms we may
reveal, as the sign of strength rather than of weakness. There is some
temptation, therefore, both for our friends and ourselves, to interpret
our natures kindly and if possible flatteringly; and, if we suffer
from a certain "sickly irritability and sensitiveness" in the presence
of what we think beautiful, we prefer to ascribe this to an artistic
temperament rather than to a debilitated will.

We are acquainted with the irascible nerve patient who pours his curses
on the head of a noisy child; and in his case we are only too ready to
suspect a morbid condition of the body. But when we ourselves, or our
young friends, or our brothers, sister, or cousins, suddenly display,
when still in their teens, a sort of gasping enthusiasm before a
landscape, a peasant child, or a sunset; when they show an inability
to bide their time, to pause, and to remain inactive in the presence
of what they consider beautiful, we immediately conclude from their
conduct, not that they have little command of themselves, but that they
must of necessity have strong artistic natures.

Our novels are full of such people with weak wills, so are our plays;
so, too, unfortunately, are our Art Schools.

We know the Art student who, the moment he sees what he would call "a
glorious view," or a "dramatic sunset or sunrise," hurls his materials
together helter-skelter and dashes off, ventre à terre, to the most
convenient spot whence he can paint it.

We have seen him seize the thing he calls an impression, his teeth
clenched the while, and his nostrils dilated. But how often does it
occur to us that such a creature has got a bad temper? How often do we
realize that he is irritable, self-indulgent, sick in fact?

Only in an age like our own could this ridiculous travesty of an artist
pass for an artist. It is only in our age that his neurotic touchiness
could possibly be mistaken for strength and vigour; and yet there are
hundreds of his kind among the painters and sculptors of the day.

Many a student's call to Art, at present, is merely a reminder, on the
part of Nature, that he should cultivate restraint and forbearance,
and should go in for commerce; for there is a whole universe between
such a man and the artist of value. Not that sensitiveness is absent
in the real artist; but it is of a kind which has strength to wait, to
reflect, to weigh, and, if necessary, to refrain from action altogether.

"Slow is the experience of all deep wells," says Zarathustra. "Long
must they wait ere they know what hath sunk into their depths."[9]

But the people I have just described have only a skin, and any itch
upon it they call Art.

No lasting good, no permanent value can come of these irascible people
who will be avenged on all that they call beauty, "right away";
who will, so to speak, "pay beauty out," and who cannot contain
themselves in its presence. They can but help to swell the ranks of the
incompetent, and even if they are successful, as they sometimes are
nowadays, all they do is to wreck the sacred calling in which they are
but pathological usurpers.

Now, in turning to the more general causes, we find that in accounting
for the prevailing anarchy in Europe and in countries like Europe,
and particularly in England and in countries like England, Nietzsche
pointed to the whole heritage of traditional thought which prevailed
and still does prevail in the civilized parts of the Western world,
and declared that it was in our most fundamental beliefs, in our most
unquestioned dogmas, and in our most vaunted birthrights that this
anarchy takes its source.

If Art had lost its prestige in our midst, and even its justification;
and if individualism, incompetence, eccentricity, mediocrity and doubt
were rife, we must seek the causes of all this neither in Diderot's
somewhat disappointing essay on painting, nor in the slur that Rousseau
had once cast upon the culture of man, nor in John Stuart Mill's
arguments in favour of individualism, nor yet in Spencer's declaration
that "the activities we call play are united with the æsthetic
activities by the trait that neither subserves in any direct way the
processes conducive to life."[10]

All these things are merely symptomatic. Diderot, Rousseau, John Stuart
Mill, and Spencer were only symptoms of still deeper influences which
have been at work for centuries, and those influences are to be sought
in the most vital values upon which our civilization is based.

[4] _G. E._, p. 145.

[5] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 36.

[6] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 63.

[7] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 258.

[8] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 339.

[9] _Z._, I, XII.

[10] _The Principles of Psychology_, Vol. II, p. 627.

2. Misleading Systems of Æsthetic.

It is perfectly true that from classic times onward the guidance
of European thought, on matters of Art, has been almost entirely
inadequate if not misleading. But for the subconscious motives of
artists and their spectators there seems to have been very little
comprehension of what Art actually means and aspires to, and even these
subconscious motives have been well-nigh stifled, thanks to the false
doctrines with which they have been persistently and systematically
smothered. Perhaps, however, the very nature of the subject condemns
it to false theoretical treatment; for it has almost always been at
the mercy of men who were not themselves performers in the arts. Of
the few artists who have written on Art, how many have given us an
adequate expression of what they themselves must have felt and aspired
to? Not one. Ghiberti, Vasari, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Mengs, Hogarth
and Reynolds--to mention the most famous, teach us scarcely anything
at all concerning the essence of their life passion, and this is, as
Nietzsche observes, perhaps "a necessary fault; for," he continues,
"the artist who would begin to understand himself would therewith begin
to mistake himself--he must not look backwards, he must not look at
all; he must give.--It is an honour for an artist to have no critical
faculty; if he can criticize he is mediocre, he is modern."[11]

Still, the greater part of this faulty guidance may, in itself, be but
another outcome of the erroneous and rooted beliefs which lie even
deeper in the heart of life than Art itself, and for these beliefs we
must seek deep down in the foundations of European thought for the last
two or three hundred years. In fact, we must ask ourselves what our
heritage from by-gone ages has been.

Since Art is the subject of our inquiry, and "Art is the only task
of life,"[12] it seems moderately clear that everything that has tended
to reduce the dignity of Art must, in the first place, have reduced
the dignity of man. Is our heritage of thought of a kind that exalts
man, or is it of a kind that debases him? What are, in fact, its chief

[11] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 256.

[12] Ibid., p. 292.

3. Our Heritage.--A. Christianity.

We shall find that the one definite and unswerving tendency of the
traditional thought of Europe has been, first, to establish on earth
that equality between men which from the outset Christianity had
promised them in Heaven; secondly, to assail the prestige of man by
proving that other tenet of the Faith which maintains the general
depravity of human nature; and thirdly, to insist upon truth in the
Christian sense; that is, as an absolute thing which can be, and must
be, made common to all.

At the root of all our science, all our philosophy, and all our
literature, the three fundamental doctrines of Christianity: the
equality of all souls, the insuperable depravity of human nature, and
the insistence upon Truth, are the ruling influences.

By means of the first and third doctrines equality was established in
the spirit, and by means of the second it was established in the flesh.[13]

By means of the first, each individual, great or small, was granted an
importance[14] undreamt of theretofore,[15] while the lowest were raised
to the highest power; by means of the second, in which the pride of
mankind received a snub at once severe and merciless, the highest were
reduced to the level of the low, while the low were by implication
materially raised; and by means of the third, no truth or point of
view which could not be made general could be considered as a truth or
a point of view at all. Practically it amounted to this, that in one
breath mankind was told, first,

    "Thy Lord for thee the Cross endured
    To save thy soul from Death and Hell;"[16]

secondly, "Thou shalt have no other God before Me;" and thirdly,

    "From Greenland's icy mountains
    To India's coral strand,
    ... every prospect pleases,
    And only man is vile."[17]

But in each case, as I have pointed out, it was the higher men who
suffered. Because they alone had something to lose. The first notion
--that of equality, threatened at once to make them doubt their own
privileges and powers, to throw suspicion into the hearts of their
followers, and to make all special, exceptional and isolated claims
utterly void. The third--the insistence upon a truth which could be
general and absolute, denied their right to establish their own truths
in the hearts of men, and to rise above the most general truth which
was reality; while in the second--the Semitic doctrine of general sin,
which held that man was not only an imperfect, but also a fallen being,
and that all his kind shared in this shame--there was not alone the
ring of an absence of rank, but also of a universal depreciation of
human nature which was ultimately to lead, by gradual stages, from a
disbelief in man himself to a disbelief in nobles, in kings and finally
in gods.[18]

At one stroke, not one or two human actions, but all human
performances, inspirations and happy thoughts, had been stripped of
their glory and condemned. Man could raise himself only by God's grace
--that is to say, by a miracle, otherwise he was but a fallen angel,
aimlessly beating the air with his broken wings.

These three blows levelled at the head of higher men were fatal to the
artist; for it is precisely in the value of human inspirations, in
the efficiency of human creativeness, and in the irresistible power
of human will, that he, above all, must and does believe. It is his
mission to demand obedience and to procure reverence; for, as we shall
see, every artist worthy the name is at heart a despot.[19]

Fortunately, the Holy Catholic Church intervened, and by its rigorous
discipline and its firm establishment upon a hierarchical principle,
suppressed for a while the overweening temper of the Christian soul,
and all claims of individual thought and judgment, while it also
recognized an order of rank among men; but the three doctrines above
described remained notwithstanding at the core of the Christian Faith,
and awaited only a favourable opportunity to burst forth and blight all
the good that the Church had done.

This favourable opportunity occurred in the person of Martin Luther.
The Reformation, in addition to reinstating, with all their evil
consequences, the three doctrines mentioned above, also produced a
certain contempt for lofty things and an importunate individualism
which has done nought but increase and spread from that day to this.

Individualism, on a large scale, of course, had been both tolerated and
practised in Gothic architecture, and on this account the buildings of
the Middle Ages might be said to breathe a more truly Christian spirit[20]
than most of the sculpture and the painting of the same period,
which are more hieratic.[21] But it was not until the Reformation
began to spread that the most tiresome form of individualism, which we
shall call Amateurism,[22] received, as it were, a Divine sanction;
and there can be no doubt that it is against this element in modern
life that not only Art, but all forces which aim at order, law and
discipline, will eventually have to wage their most determined and most
implacable warfare.

[13] The Judaic story of the fall of man is at bottom an essentially
democratic one. This absence of rank in sin had no parallel in the
aristocratic Pagan world. Likewise, in the manner of the fall, there
is a total absence of noble qualities. "Curiosity, beguilement,
seductibility and wantonness--in short, a whole series of pre-eminently
feminine passions--were regarded as the origin of evil." See _B. T._,
pp. 78, 79.

[14] Bury, _History of the Later Roman Empire_, Vol. I, p. 33.

[15] _A._, Aph. 43 and 64.

[16] _Hymns Ancient and Modern_, No. 435.

[17] _Ibid_., No. 522.

[18] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 312: "When it occurs to inferior men to doubt
that higher men exist, then the danger is great," etc. See, in fact,
the whole of Aph. 874.

[19] See _A._, Aph. 49: "The concept of guilt and punishment, inclusive
of the doctrine of 'grace,' of 'salvation,' and of 'forgiveness'--lies
through and through, without a shred of psychological truth. Sin,...
this form of human self-violation _par excellence_, was invented solely
for the purpose of making all science, all culture, and every kind of
elevation and nobility utterly impossible."

[20] Ruskin, _On the Nature of Gothic Architecture_ (p. 7), contrasting
the classic and Gothic style, says: "... In the mediæval, or especially
Christian, system of ornament, this slavery [_i.e._ the slavery imposed
by the classic canon] is done away with altogether; Christianity having
recognized, in small things as well as great, the individual value of
every soul."

[21] In a good deal of the painting and sculpture of the
pre-Renaissance period, too, signs were not lacking which showed that
the Christian ideal of truth was beginning to work its effects by
leading to a realism which I have classified in Lecture II as Police
Art. Of course, a good deal of this realism may also be accounted for
by the reasons which I suggest at the end of Part I of Lecture III;
be this as it may, however, as it is difficult to decide the actual
proportion of either of these influences, the weight of the Christian
doctrine of Truth must not be altogether overlooked in such productions
as Donatello's "Crucifixion" (Capella Bardi, S. Croce, Florence);
Masolino's "Raising of Tabitha" (Carmine, Florence); Masaccio's
Fresco (S. Maria del Carmine, Florence); Ucello's "Rout of S. Romano"
(Uffizi); Andrea del Castagno's "Crucifixion" (in the Monastery of the
Angeli, Florence); and the really beautiful statues of the Founders in
the Cathedral of Naumburg.

[22] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 297: "The terrible consequences of
'freedom'--in the end everybody thinks he has the right to every
problem. All order of rank is banished."

B. Protestantism.

For Protestantism was nothing more nor less than a general rebellion
against authority.[23] By means of it the right of private judgment
was installed once more, and to the individual was restored that
importance which Christianity had acknowledged from the first, and
which only the attitude of the Church had been able to modify. The
layman, with his conscience acknowledged to be the supreme tribunal,
was declared a free man, emancipated even from the law,[24] or, as
Luther said, "free Lord of all, subject to none."[25]

Now, not only the immortal soul of every individual became important;
but also every one of his proclivities, desires and aspirations. He was
told that he could be his own priest if he chose,[26] and that Christ had
obtained this prerogative for him. Megalomania, in fact, as Nietzsche
declares, was made his duty.[27]

"Let men so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards
of the mysteries of God."[28]

With these words St. Paul had addressed the Corinthians, and Luther did
not fail to base his strongest arguments upon the text.[29]

"Even the Reformation," says Nietzsche, "was a movement for individual
liberty; 'Every one his own priest' is really no more than a formula
for _libertinage_.As a matter of fact, the words, 'Evangelical freedom'
would have sufficed--and all instincts which had reasons for remaining
concealed broke out like wild hounds, the most brutal needs suddenly
acquired the courage to show themselves, everything seemed justified."[30]

Was it at all likely that the formula, "Every one his own priest," was
going to lead to trouble only in ecclesiastical matters? As a matter of
fact we know that Luther himself extended the principle still further
in his own lifetime. By his radical alterations in the church service
Luther gave the laity a much more prominent place in Divine worship
than they had ever had before; for, in addition to the fact that the
liturgy as compiled by him was written almost entirely in the native
tongue, the special attention he gave to the singing of hymns[31]
allowed the people an opportunity of displaying their individual powers
to such an extent that it has even been said that "they sang themselves
into enthusiasm for the new faith."[31]

But these remarkable changes were only symbolic of the changes that
followed elsewhere; for, once this spirit of individual liberty and
judgment had invaded that department of life which theretofore had
been held most sacred, what was there to prevent it from entering and
defiling less sacred sanctuaries?

Bearing in mind the condition of the arts at the present day, and
taking into account a fact which we all very well know; namely, that
thousands upon thousands are now practising these arts who have
absolutely no business to be associated with them in any way, we are
almost inclined to forgive Protestantism and Puritanism their smashing
of our images, and their material iconoclasm; so light does this
damage appear, compared with the other indirect damage they have done
to the spirit of Art, by establishing the fatal precedent of allowing
everybody to touch and speak of everything--however sacred.

We may argue with Buckle that the English spirit is of a kind which
is essentially Protestant in temper; but this only seems to make the
matter worse.

When Cardinal Newman and Matthew Arnold point, the one to the evils of
Liberalism, and the other to the evils of anarchy, we know to what they
are referring. They are referring to the impossibility, nowadays, of
awakening reverence for anything or for anybody.

"May not every man in England say what he likes?" Matthew Arnold
exclaims. "But," he continues, "the aspirations of culture, which
is the study of perfection, are not satisfied, unless what men say,
when they may say what they like, is worth saying.... Culture
indefatigably tries, not to make what each raw person may like, the
rule by which he fashions himself; but to draw ever nearer to a sense
of what is indeed beautiful, graceful, and becoming, and to get the raw
person to like that."[32]

But what is fatal to culture is no less fatal to art, and thus we find
Nietzsche saying--

"Once spirit was God, then it became man, and now it becometh mob."[33]

If in the Europe, and especially in the England of to-day, everybody
has a right to every judgment and to every joy; if a certain slavish
truthfulness to nature and reality, rawness and ruggedness, have
well-nigh wrecked higher aspirations, and if everybody can press his
paltry modicum of voice, of thought, of draughtsmanship, of passion
and impudence to the fore, and thus spread his portion of mediocrity
like dodder over the sacred field of Art; it is because the fundamental
principles of the Christian faith are no longer latent or suppressed in
our midst; but active and potent--if not almighty.

It might almost be said that they have reared a special instinct--the
instinct of liberty and of taking liberties, without any particular aim
or purpose; and, by so doing, have thrown all virtue, all merit, all
ambition, not on the side of culture, but on the side of that "free
personality"[34] and rude naturalness, or truth to man's original savagery,
which it seems the triumph of every one, great or small, to produce.

No one any longer claims the kind of freedom that Pope Paul III claimed
for his protégé Benvenuto Cellini:[35] this would be too dangerous,
because, in a trice, it would be applied to all. Therefore the
insignificant majority get more freedom than is good for them, and the
noble minority are deprived of their birthright.

"Thus do I speak unto you in parable," cries Zarathustra, "ye who make
the soul giddy, ye preachers of _equality_! Tarantulas are ye unto me,
and secretly revengeful ones!

"But I will soon bring your hiding-places to the light, therefore do I
laugh in your faces my laughter of the height.

"And 'Will to Equality'--that itself shall henceforth be the name of
virtue; and against all that hath power will we raise an outcry!

"Ye preachers of equality, the tyrant frenzy of impotence crieth thus
in you for 'equality': your most secret tyrant longings disguise
themselves in words of virtue!"[36]

And now recapitulating a moment, what have we found our heritage to
consist of, in the realm of the religious spirit?

In the first place: a certain universal acknowledgment and claim of
liberty, which has no special purpose or direction, and which is too
fair to some and unfair to many. Secondly, a devotion to a truth that
could be general, which perforce has reduced us to vulgar reality;
thirdly, a prevailing depression in the value and dignity of man,
resulting from the suspicion that has been cast upon all authority
and all loftiness; and fourthly, a wanton desecrating and befingering
of all sanctuaries by anybody and everybody, which is the inevitable
outcome of that amateur priesthood introduced and sanctified by Martin

[23] Buckle, _History of Civilization in England_, Vol. II, p. 140:
"Whatever the prejudices of some may suggest, it will be admitted, by
all unbiassed judges, that the Protestant Reformation was neither more
nor less than an open rebellion. Indeed, the mere mention of private
judgment, on which it was avowedly based, is enough to substantiate
this fact. To establish the right of private judgment was to appeal
from the Church to individuals," etc. (See also p. 138 in the same
volume.) _Cambridge Modern History_, Vol. II, p. 166: "In the Edict of
Worms, Luther had been branded as a revolutionary, then as a heretic,
and the burden of the complaints preferred against him by the Catholic
humanists was, that his methods of seeking a reformation would be
fatal to all order, political or ecclesiastical. They painted him as
the apostle of revolution, a second Catiline." And p. 174: "The most
frequent and damaging charge levelled at Luther between 1520 and 1525
reproached him with being the apostle of revolution and anarchy, and
predicted that his attacks on spiritual authority would develop into a
campaign against civil order unless he were promptly suppressed."

[24] _A Treatise Touching the Libertie of a Christian_, by Martyne
Luther (translated from the Latin by James Bell, 1579. Edited by
W. Bengo' Collyer, 1817), p. 17: "So that it is manifest that to a
Christian man faith sufficeth only for all, and that he needeth no
works to be justified by. Now, if he need no works, then also he needs
not the law: if he have no need of the law, surely he is then free from
the law. So this also is true. The law is not made for the righteous
man, and this is the same Christian libertie."

[25] _Ibid_., p. 3.

[26] _Ibid_., p. 31.

[27] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 211.

[28] 1 Cor. iv. 1.

[29] Cambridge Modern History, Vol. II, p. 201.

[30] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 75.

[31] Emil Naumann, _History of Music_, Vol. II, p. 429: "With the
Catholics, hymns in the mother tongue were only used at processions
and on high festivals, and were then sung by the congregation only
at Christmas, Easter, and certain other high feast days. With these
exceptions, the Catholic congregational song consisted of short musical
phrases chanted by the priests, to which the people either responded,
or added their voices to the refrain sung by the choristers from the
altar. The part assigned to the people then was but a very subordinate
one." See also the Introduction to C. von Winterfeld's Sacred Songs of
Luther (Leipzig, 1840).

[32] _The Beginnings of Art_, by Ernst Grosse, pp. 299, 300; and
Cambridge Modern History, Vol. II, p. 201.

[33] Culture and Anarchy (Smith, Elder, 1909), pp. 11, 12.

[34] _Z._, I, VII.

[35] E. I., pp. 54, 55.

[36] _Sandro Botticelli_, by Emile Gebhart (1907), p. 9: "Paul III âme
très haute, répond aux personnes qui lui dénoncent les vices de son
spirituel spadassin: 'Les hommes uniques dans leur art, comme Cellini,
ne doivent pas être soumis aux lois, et lui moins que tout autre.'"

C. Philosophical Influences.

Now, turning to our heritage in philosophy and science, do we find
that it tends to resist, or to thwart in any way the principles of our
religious heritage? Not in the slightest degree! At every point and
at every stage it has confirmed and restated, with all the pomp of
facts and statistics to support it, what the religious spirit had laid
down for our acceptance. It is superficial and ridiculous to suppose,
as Dr. Draper once supposed, that there has been a conflict between
Religion and Science. I take it that he means the Christian Religion
alone. Such a conflict has never taken place; what has taken place,
however, is a conflict between Science and the Catholic Church. The
Christian Religion and Science together, however, have never had any
such antagonism, and least of all in England, where, from the time of
Roger Bacon,[37] the first English Experimentalist, to the present
day, nothing has been left undone, no stone has been left unturned,
which might establish scientifically that which Christianity, as we
have seen, wished to establish emotionally.

Universal liberty, without a purpose or a direction; the free and
plebeian production of thoughts and theories divorced from all aim
or ideal, after the style in which children are born in the slums;
devotion to a truth that can be common to all; the depression of the
value and dignity of man, and a certain lack of reverence for all
things--these four aspirations of Christianity and Protestantism have
been the aspirations of science, and at the present moment they are
practically attained.

Unfortunately, it is in the nature of human beings to imitate success,
and England's success as a colonizing and constitutional nation has
undoubtedly been a potent force in spreading not only her commercial,
but also her philosophical views among all ambitious and aspiring
Western nations, who guilelessly took the evil with the good.

The empiricists, Francis Bacon, Hobbes and Locke, were among the first,
by their teaching, to level a decisive blow at genuine thought, at the
man who knows and who is the measure of all things;[38] and this they
did by arriving at a conception of knowledge and thought that converted
the latter into possessions which might be common to everybody--that is
to say, by reducing all knowledge to that which can be made immediately
the experience of all. This was the greatest blasphemy against the
human spirit that has ever been committed. By means of it, every one,
whatever he might be, could aspire to intellectuality and wisdom;
for experience belongs to everybody, whereas a great spirit is the
possession only of the fewest.

The Frenchmen, Helvetius, Voltaire, Rousseau, Maupertius, Condillac,
Diderot, d'Alembert, La Mettrie and Baron Holbach, were quick to
become infected, and in Germany, despite the essentially aristocratic
influence of Leibnitz,[39] Kant was the first to follow suit.

Begun in this way, English philosophical speculation, as Dr. Max
Schasler says, was forced to grow ever more and more materialistic[40]
in character, and, if "Science has already come very generally to
mean, not that which may be known, but only such knowledge as every
animal with faculties a little above those of an ant or a beaver can be
induced to admit," and if "incommunicable knowledge, or knowledge which
can be communicated at present only to a portion--perhaps a small
portion--of mankind, is already affirmed to be no knowledge at all,"[41]
it is thanks to the efforts of the fathers of English thought.

Hence Nietzsche's cry, that "European ignobleness, the plebeian ism of
modern ideas--is England's work and invention."[42]

But it is not alone in its vulgarization of the concept of knowledge,
or in its materialistic tendency, that English influence has helped
to reduce the dignity of man and to level his kind; the utilitarians
from Bentham to John Stuart Mill and Sidgwick, by taking the greatest
number as the norm, as the standard and measurement of all things, ably
reflected the Christian principle, of the equality of souls, in their
works, and, incidentally, by so doing, treated the greatest number
exceedingly badly. For what is mediocre can neither be exalted nor
charmed by values drawn from mediocrity, and is constantly in need of
values drawn from super-mediocrity, for its joy, for its love of life,
and for its reconciliation with drabby reality.[43]

[37] It is important here to note, first, that Roger Bacon was an
Aristotelian through his intimate study of the Arabian treatises on the
Greek philosopher, and, secondly, that although Greek speculation was
governed more by insight than experience, Aristotle forms a striking
exception to this rule.

[38] _G. E._, p. 210: "What is lacking in England, and has always been
lacking, that half-actor and rhetorician knew well enough, the absurd
muddle-head Carlyle, who sought to conceal under passionate grimaces
what he knew about himself: namely, what was lacking in Carlyle--real
power of intellect, real depth of intellectual perception, in short,

[39] In reply to those who said, "Nothing exists in the intellect but
what has before existed in the senses," Leibnitz replied: "Yes, nothing
but the intellect."

[40] _Kritische Geschichte der Æsthetik_ (1872). Speaking of the
English Æstheticians, he says (p. 285), "The fact that there is no
decrease, but rather an increase of Materialism in their thought, no
purification in their meditation from the coarseness of experience,
but rather a gradual immersion in the same, may also be regarded as
characteristic of the development of the English spirit in general."

[41] Coventry Patmore, _Principles in Art_, p. 209.

[42] _G. E._, p. 213.

[43] Even J. S. Mill saw the flaw in his own teaching in this respect,
and acknowledged it openly. See his _Liberty_, chapter "The Elements of
Well-Being," paragraph 13.

D. The Evolutionary Hypothesis.

Finally, in the latter half of the last century, these two tendencies
at last reached their zenith, and culminated in a discovery which,
by some, is considered as the proudest product of the English mind.
This discovery, which was at once a gospel and a solution of all
world riddles, and which infected the whole atmosphere of Europe from
Edinburgh to Athens, was the Evolutionary Hypothesis as expounded by
Darwin and Spencer.

A more utterly vulgar, mechanistic, and depressing conception of
life and man cannot be conceived than this evolutionary hypothesis
as it was presented to us by its two most famous exponents; and its
immediate popularity and rapid success, alone, should have made it seem
suspicious, even in the eyes of its most ardent adherents.

And yet it was acclaimed and embraced by almost everybody, save those,
only, whose interests it assailed.

How much more noble was the origin of the world as described even in
Genesis, Disraeli was one of the first to see and to declare;[44]
and yet, so strong was the faith in a doctrine which, by means of
its popular proof through so-called facts, could become the common
possession of every tinker, tailor and soldier, that people preferred
to think they had descended from monkeys, rather than doubt such an
overwhelming array of data, and regard themselves still as fallen

In its description of the prime motor of life as a struggle for
existence; in its insistence upon adaptation to environment and
mechanical adjustment to external influences;[45] in its deification of a
blind and utterly inadequate force which was called Natural Selection;
and above all in its unprincipled optimism, this new doctrine bore the
indelible stamp of shallowness and vulgarity.

According to it, man was not only a superior monkey, but he was also
a creature who sacrificed everything in order to live; he was not
only a slave of habit, but he was a yielding jelly, fashioned by his
surroundings; he was not only a coward, but a cabbage; and, with it
all, he was invoked to do nothing to assist the world process and his
own improvement; for, he was told by his unscrupulous teachers, that
"evil tended perpetually to disappear,"[46] and that "progress was
therefore not an accident, but a necessity."[47]

Thus not only was man debased, but we could now fold our arms
apathetically, and look on while he dashed headlong to his ruin.[48]

"No," said the evolutionists, "we do not believe in a moral order of
things, although our doctrine does indeed seem to be a reflection of
such an order; neither do we believe in God: but we certainly pin our
faith to our little idol Evolution, and feel quite convinced that it
is going to make us muddle through to perfection somehow--look at our

And what are these proofs? On all sides they are falling to bits, and
we are quickly coming to the conclusion that an assembly of facts can
prove nothing--save the inability of a scientist to play the rôle of a
creative poet.

Nietzsche was one of the first to see, that if Becoming were a reliable
hypothesis, it must be supported by different principles from those of
the Darwinian school, and he spared no pains in sketching out these
different principles.[49]

"These English psychologists--what do they really mean?" Nietzsche
demands. "We always find them voluntarily or involuntarily at the same
task of pushing to the front the _partie honteuse_ of our inner world,
and looking for the efficient, governing and decisive principle in that
precise quarter where the intellectual self-respect of the race would
be the most reluctant to find it--that is to say, in slothfulness of
habit, or in forgetfulness, or in blind and fortuitous mechanism and
association of ideas, or in some factor that is purely passive, reflex,
molecular, or fundamentally stupid,--what is the real motive power
which always impels these psychologists in precisely this direction?"[50]

Not one of these advocates of mechanism, however, realized how
profoundly he was degrading man, and how seriously he had therefore
sullied all human achievement. In their scientific _réchauffé_ of the
Christian concept of man's depravity, they all had the most hearty
faith, and, as there was little in their over-populated and industrial
country to contradict their conclusions, they did not refrain from
passing these conclusions into law.

We can detect nothing in this greatest scientific achievement of the
last century which seriously resists or opposes our heritage in the
realm of the religious spirit. In their fundamentals, the two are one;
And when we take them both to task, and try to discover their influence
upon the world, we wonder not so much why Art is so bad, but why Art
has survived at all.

For, though for the moment we may exclude the influence of earlier
English thought upon general artistic achievement, at least the
degraded condition of Art at the present day cannot be divorced in this
manner from more recent English speculation, for even Mr. Bosanquet
counts Darwin and Lyell among those who have ushered in the new
renaissance of art in England![51]

"At present," says Nietzsche, "nobody has any longer the courage for
separate rights, for rights of domination, for a feeling of reverence
for himself and his equals,--for pathos of distance,... and even our
politics are morbid from this want of courage!"[52]

To-day, when all reverence has vanished, even before kings and
gods, when to respect oneself overmuch is regarded with undisguised
resentment, what can we hope from a quarter in which self-reverence
and reverence in general are the first needs of all?

We can only hope to find what we actually see, and that, as we all very
well know and cannot deny, is a condition of anarchy, incompetence,
purposelessness and chaos.

"Culture ... has a very important function to fulfil for mankind,"
said Matthew Arnold. "And this function is particularly important
in our modern world, of which the whole civilization is, to a much
greater degree than the civilization of Greece and Rome, mechanical
and external, and tends constantly to become more so. But, above all,
in our own country has culture a weighty part to perform, because,
here, that mechanical character, which civilization tends to take
everywhere, is shown in the most eminent degree.... The idea of
perfection as an inward condition of the mind and spirit is at variance
with the mechanical and material civilization in esteem with us, and
nowhere, as I have said, so much in esteem as with us."[53]

We may trust that it is not in vain that men like Matthew Arnold and
Nietzsche raised their voices against the spirit of the age. And we may
hope that it is not in vain that lesser men have taken up their cry.

In any case Nietzsche did not write in utter despair. His words do not
fall like faded autumn leaves announcing the general death that is
imminent. On the contrary, he saw himself approaching a new century,
this century, and he drew more than half his ardour from the hope
that we might now renounce this heritage of the past, the deleterious
effects of which he spent his lifetime in exposing.

"Awake and listen, ye lonely ones!" he says. "From the future winds are
coming with a gentle beating of wings, and there cometh good tidings
for fine ears.

"Ye lonely ones of to-day, ye who stand apart, ye shall one day be a
people, and from you who have chosen yourselves, a chosen people shall

"Verily a place of healing shall the earth become! And already
a new odour lieth around it, an odour which bringeth salvation--and a
new hope."[54]

[44] See Froude's _The Earl of Beaconsfield_ (9th Edition), pp. 176,
177: "The discoveries of science are not, we are told, consistent with
the teachings of the Church.... It is of great importance when this
tattle about science is mentioned, that we should attach to the phrase
precise ideas. The function of science is the interpretation of nature,
and the interpretation of the highest nature is the highest science.
What is the highest nature? Man is the highest nature. But I must say
that when I compare the interpretation of the highest nature by the
most advanced, the most fashionable school of modern science with some
other teaching with which we are familiar I am not prepared to admit
that the lecture room is more scientific than the Church. What is the
question now placed before society, with a glib assurance the most
astounding? The question is this: Is man an ape or an angel? I, my
Lord, I am on the side of the angels. I repudiate with indignation and
abhorrence the contrary view, which I believe foreign to the conscience
of humanity."

[45] See p. 37.

[46] Spencer, _Social Statics_ (Ed. 1892), p. 27.

[47] _Ibid_., p. 31.

[48] Two Christian principles are concealed here: 1. The depravity of
man. 2. Faith in a moral order of things.

[49] I have discussed this question, with as much detail as the space
would allow, in _Nietzsche, his Life and Works_, Chap. IV. (Constable's
Philosophies Ancient and Modern). See also my letter, "Nietzsche and
Science," in the _Spectator_ of 8th January, 1910.

[50] _G. M._, p. 17.

[51] _A History of Æsthetic_, p. 445.

[52] _A._, Aph. 43.

[53] _Culture and Anarchy_ (Smith, Elder, 1909), p. 10.

[54] _Z._, I, XXII.

Lecture II[1]

Government in Art. Nietzsche's Definition of Art

Part I

Divine Art and the Man-God

    "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful,
    and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and
    have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of
    the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the
    earth."--Genesis i. 28.

Man has ceased from believing in miracles, because he is convinced that
the divine power of the miracle-worker has departed from him. At last
he has proclaimed the age of wonders to be at an end, because he no
longer knows himself capable of working wonders.

He acknowledges that miracles are still needed. He hears the
distressing cry for the super-natural everywhere. All about him to-day
he feels that wonders will have to be worked if the value of Life,
of his fellows, and of himself is to be raised, by however little;
and yet he halts like one paralyzed before the task he can no longer
accomplish, and finding that his hand has lost its cunning and that
his eye has lost its authority, he stammers helplessly that the age of
miracles has gone by.

Everything convinces him of the fact. Everybody, from his priest to
his porter, from his wife to his astrologer, from his child to his
neighbour, tells him plainly that he is no longer divine, no longer a
god, no longer even a king!

Not only has the age of miracles gone by; but with it, also, has
vanished that age in which man could conceive of god in his own image.
There are no gods now; because man himself has long since doubted that
man is godlike.

Soon there will be no kings,[2] finally there will be no greatness
at all, and this will mean the evanescence of man himself.

To speak of all this as the advance of knowledge, as the march
of progress, as the triumph of science, and as the glories of
enlightenment, is merely to deck a corpse, to grease-paint a sore, and
to pour rose-water over a cesspool.

If the triumph of science mean "The Descent of Man"; if the glories of
enlightenment mean, again, the descent of man; and if progress imply,
once more, the descent of man; then the question to be asked is: in
whose hands have science, enlightenment and the care of progress fallen?

This world is here for us to make of it what we will. It is a field of
yielding clay, in which, like sandboys, we can build our castles and
revel in our creations.

But what are these people doing? In building their castles they grow
ever more like beavers, and ants, and beetles. In laying out their
gardens they grow ever more like slugs, and worms, and centipedes. And
their joy seems to be to feel themselves small and despised.

Once, for instance, their sky was the mighty god Indra; the clouds were
his flock, and he drove his flock across his vast fields--blue and
fragrant with delicate flowers. Their fruitful rain was the milk which
their god Indra obtained from his herd of cows, and their seasons of
drought were times when the god Indra was robbed by brigands of his

Now, their sky is infinite space. Their clouds are masses of vapour in
a state of condensation more or less considerable, and their rain is
the outcome of that condensation becoming too considerable.

Not so many years ago their Heaven and their Earth were the father and
mother of all living things, who had become separated in order that
their offspring might have room to live and breathe and move. And thus
their mists were the passionate sighs of the loving wife, breathing her
love heavenwards; and the dew, the tearful response of her affectionate
and sorrowful spouse.

Now, their Heaven is a thing that no one knows anything at all about.
Their Earth is an oblate spheroid revolving aimlessly through a
hypothetical medium called ether; their mists are vaporous emanations;
while their dew is a discharge of moisture from the air upon substances
that have irradiated a sufficient quantity of heat.

Their Sun was once a god with long, shining streams of golden hair, of
which every year their goddess Night would rob him, thus leaving Winter
mistress of the earth.

Now, their sun is the central orb of their Solar system. It consists of
a nucleus, it is surrounded by a photosphere and a chromosphere, and
has a disease of the face called "spots."

The facts remain the same; the mist still rises, the dew still falls,
and the canopy of Heaven still spans the two horizons. Whatever the
interpretation of these phenomena may be, this at least is certain,
that they are still with us. But there is one thing that changes; one
thing that cannot remain indifferent to interpretation--even though
the facts do not alter,--and that is the soul of man.

A million times more sensitive to changes in interpretation than the
column of mercury is to changes in the atmosphere, the soul of man
rises or falls according to the nobility or the baseness of the meaning
which he himself puts into things; and, just as, in this matter, he may
be his own regenerator, so, also, may he be his own assassin.

[1] Delivered at University College on Dec. 8th, 1910.

[2] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 187: "The time of kings has gone by, because
people are no longer worthy of them. They do not wish to see the symbol
of their ideal in a king, but only a means to their own ends." See also
_Z._, III, LVI.

1. The World "without form" and "void."

For, in the beginning, the world was "without form" and "void," things
surrounded man; but they had no meaning. His senses received probably
the same number of impressions as they do now--and perhaps more--but
these impressions had no co-ordination and no order. He could neither
calculate them, reckon with them, nor communicate[3] them to his

Before he could thus calculate, reckon with, and communicate the
things of this world, a vast process of simplification, co-ordination,
organization and ordering had to be undertaken, and this process,
however arbitrarily it may have been begun, was one of the first needs
of thinking man.

Everything had to be given some meaning, some interpretation, and some
place; and in every case, of course, this interpretation was in the
terms of man, this meaning was a human meaning, and this place was a
position relative to humanity.

Perhaps no object is adequately defined until the relation to it of
every creature and thing in the universe has been duly discovered and
recorded.[4] But no such transcendental meaning of a thing preoccupied
primeval man. All he wished was to understand the world, in order
that he might have power over it, reckon with it, and communicate his
impressions concerning it. And, to this end, the only relation of a
thing that he was concerned with was its relation to himself. It must
be given a name, a place, an order, a meaning--however arbitrary,
however fanciful, however euphemistic. Facts were useless, chaotic,
bewildering, meaningless, before they had been adjusted,[5] organized,
classified, and interpreted in accordance with the desires, hopes, aims
and needs of a particular kind of man.

Thus interpretation was the first activity of all to thinking humanity,
and it was human needs that interpreted the world.[6]

The love of interpreting and of adjusting--this primeval love and
desire, this power of the sandboy over his castles; how much of the
joy in Life, the love of Life, and, at the same time, the sorrow in
Life, does not depend upon it! For we can know only a world which we
ourselves have created.[7]

There was the universe--strange and inscrutable; terrible in its
strangeness, insufferable in its inscrutability, incalculable in its
multifariousness. With his consciousness just awaking, a cloud or a
shower might be anything to man--a godlike friend or a savage foe. The
dome of blue behind was also prodigious in its volume and depth, and
the stars upon it at night horrible in their mystery.

What, too, was this giant's breath that seemed to come from nowhere,
and which, while it cooled his face, also bent the toughest trees like
straws? The sun and moon were amazing--the one marvellously eloquent,
communicative, generous, hot and passionate: the other silent,
reserved, aloof, cold, incomprehensible.[8]

But there were other things to do, besides interpreting the stars, the
sun, the moon, the sea, and the sky above. There was the perplexing
multiplicity of changes and of tides in Life, to be mastered and
simplified. There was the fateful flow of all things into death and
into second birth, the appalling fact of Becoming and never-resting, of
change and instability, of bloom and of decay, of rise and of decline.
What was to be done?

It was impossible to live in chaos. And yet, in its relation to man
Nature was chaotic. There was no order anywhere. And, where there is
no order, there are surprises,[9] ambushes, lurking indignities. The
unexpected could jump out at any minute. And a masterful mind abhors
surprises and loathes disorder. His Will to Power is humiliated by
them. To man,--whether he be of yesterday, of to-day or of to-morrow--
unfamiliarity, constant change, and uncertainty, are sources of great
anxiety, great sorrow, great humiliation and sometimes great danger.
Hence everything must be familiarized, named and fixed. Values must
be definitely ascertained and determined. And thus valuing becomes a
biological need. Nietzsche even goes so far as to ascribe the doctrine
of causality to the inherent desire in man to trace the unfamiliar
to the familiar. "The so-called instinct of causality," he says, "is
nothing more than the fear of the unfamiliar, and the attempt at
finding something in it which is already known."[10]

In the torrent and pell-mell of Becoming, some milestones must be fixed
for the purpose of human orientation. In the avalanche of evolutionary
changes, pillars must be made to stand, to which man can hold tight for
a space and collect his senses. The slippery soil of a world that is
for ever in flux, must be transformed into a soil on which man can gain
some foothold.[11]

Primeval man stood baffled and oppressed by the complexity of his task.
Facts were insuperable as facts; they could, however, be overcome
spiritually--that is to say, by concepts. And that they must be
overcome, man never doubted for an instant--he was too proud for that.
For his aim was not existence, but a certain kind of existence--an
existence in which he could hold his head up, look down upon the world,
and stare defiance even at the firmament.

And thus all humanity began to cry out for a meaning, for an
interpretation, for a scheme, which would make all these distant and
uncontrollable facts their property, their spiritual possessions. This
was not a cry for science, or for a scientific explanation, as we
understand it; nor was it a cry for truth in the Christian sense.[12]
For the bare truth, the bare fact, the bald reality of the thing was
obvious to everybody. All who had eyes to see could see it. All who had
ears to hear could hear it. And all who had nerves to feel could feel
it. If ever there was a time when there was a truth for all, this was
the time; and it was ugly, bare and unsatisfying. What was wanted was a
scheme of life, a picture of life, in which all these naked facts and
truths could be given some place and some human significance--in fact,
some order and arrangement, whereby they would become the chattels
of the human spirit, and no longer subjects of independent existence
and awful strangeness.[13] Only thus could the dignity and pride of
humanity begin to breathe with freedom. Only thus could life be made
possible, where existence alone was not the single aim and desire.

"The purpose of 'knowledge,' "says Nietzsche, "in this case, as in
the case of 'good,' or 'beautiful,' must be regarded strictly and
narrowly from an anthropocentric and biological standpoint. In order
that a particular species may maintain and increase its power, its
conception of reality must contain enough which is calculable and
constant to allow of its formulating a scheme of conduct. The utility
of preservation--and _not_ some abstract or theoretical need to eschew
deception--stands as the motive force behind the development of the
organs of knowledge.... In other words, the measure of the desire
for knowledge depends upon the extent to which the _Will to Power_ grows
in a certain species: a species gets a grasp of a given amount of
reality in order to master it, in order to enlist that amount into its

And thus "the object was, not to know, but to schematize, to impose as
much regularity and form upon chaos as our practical needs required."[15]

"The whole apparatus of knowledge," says Nietzsche, "is an abstracting
and simplifying apparatus--not directed at knowledge, but at the
appropriation of things."[16]

No physical thirst, no physical hunger, has ever been stronger than
this thirst and hunger, which yearned to make all that is unfamiliar,
familiar; or in other words, all that is outside the spirit, inside the

Life without food and drink was bad enough; but Life without
nourishment for this spiritual appetite, this famished wonder,[18]
this starving amazement, was utterly intolerable!

The human system could appropriate, and could transform into man, in
bone and flesh, the vegetation and the animals of the earth; but what
was required was a process, a _Weltanschauung_, a general concept of
the earth which would enable man to appropriate also Life's other
facts, and transform them into man the spirit. Hence the so-called
thirst for knowledge may be traced to the lust of appropriation and
conquest,[19] and the "will to truth" to a process of establishing
things, to a process of making things true and lasting.... Thus
truth is not something which is present and which has to be found and
discovered; it is something which has to be created and which gives its
name to a process, or better still, to the "will to overpower."[20]

For what is truth? It is any interpretation of the world which has
succeeded in becoming the belief of a particular type of man.[21]
Therefore there can be many truths; therefore there must be an order of
rank among truths.

"Let this mean Will to Truth unto you," says Zarathustra, "that
everything be made thinkable, visible, tangible unto man!

"And what ye have called the world, shall have first to be created by
you:[22] your reason, your image, your will, your love shall the world be!
And, verily, for your own bliss, ye knights of Knowledge!"[23]

"The purpose was to deceive oneself in a useful way; the means thereto
was the invention of forms and signs, with the help of which, the
confusing multifariousness of Life could be reduced to a useful and
wieldly scheme."[24]

This was the craving. Not only must a meaning, a human meaning, be
given to all things, in order to subordinate them to man's power; but
Life itself must also be schematized and arranged. And, while all
humanity cried aloud for this to be done, it was humanity's artists and
higher men who set to and did it.[25]

[3] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 72: "... Communication is necessary, and for
it to be possible, something must be stable, simple and capable of
being stated precisely."

[4] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 65.

[5] Okakura-Kakuzo, _The Book of Tea_, p. 58: "Adjustment is Art."

[6] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 13. See also Th. Gomperz, _Greek Thinkers_,
Vol. I, p. 25. Speaking of interpretation, he says: "And this tendency
was notably strengthened by the suspicious circumstances of external
life, which awoke the desire for clearness, distinctness and a logical
sequence of ideas."

[7] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 21. See also Max Müller, _Introduction to the
Science of Religion_, pp. 198-207, _T. I._, Part 10, Aph. 19.

[8] Hegel, in his _Vorlesungen über Æsthetik_ (Vol. I, p. 406), says:
"If we should wish to speak of the first appearance of symbolic Art
as a subjective state, we should remember that artistic meditation in
general, like religious meditation--or rather the two in one--and even
scientific research, took their origin in wonderment."

[9] Hegel makes some interesting remarks on this point. See his
_Vorlesungen über Æsthetik_, Vol. I, p. 319. He shows that the extreme
regularity of gardens of the seventeenth century was indicative of
their owners' masterful natures.

[10] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 58. See also p. 11: "to 'understand' means
simply this: to be able to express something new in the terms of
something old or familiar."

[11] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 88.

[12] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 26: "The prerequisite of all living things
and of their lives is: that there should be a large amount of faith,
that it should be possible to pass definite judgments on things, and
that there should be no doubt at all concerning values. Thus it is
necessary that something should be assumed to be true, _not_ that it is

[13] Felix Clay, _The Origin of the Sense of Beauty_, p. 95: "The
mind or the eye, brought face to face with a number of disconnected
and apparently different facts, ideas, shapes, sounds or objects, is
bothered and uneasy; the moment that some central conception is offered
or discovered by which they all fall into order, so that their due
relation to one another can be perceived and the whole grasped, there
is a sense of relief and pleasure which is very intense."

[14] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 12.

[15] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 29.

[16] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 24.

[17] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 76. Hegel was also approaching this truth
when he said, in his introduction to the _Vorlesungen über Æsthetik_
(pp. 58, 59 of the translation of that Introduction by B. Bosanquet):
"Man is realized for himself by poetical activity, inasmuch as he
has the impulse, in the medium which is directly given to him, and
externally presented before him, to produce himself. This purpose he
achieves by the modification of external things upon which he impresses
the seal of his inner being. Man does this in order, as a free subject,
to strip the outer world of its stubborn foreignness, and to enjoy, in
the shape and fashion of things, a mere external reality of himself."

[18] Hegel again seems to be on the road to Nietzsche's standpoint,
when he says: "Wonderment arises when man, as a spirit separated
from his immediate connection with Nature, and from the immediate
relation to his merely practical desires, steps back from Nature and
from his own singular existence, and then begins to seek and to see
generalities, permanent qualities, and absolute attributes in things"
(Vorlesungen über Æsthetik, Vol. I, p. 406).

[19] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 339. See also Hegel (_Vorlesungen über
Æsthetik_, p. 128): "The instinct of curiosity and the desire
for knowledge, from the lowest stage up to the highest degree of
philosophical insight, is the outcome only of man's yearning to make
the world his own in spirit and concepts."

[20] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 60.

[21] "Truth is that kind of error without which a certain species of
living being cannot exist" (_W. P._, Vol. II, p. 20). See also _G.
E._, pp. 8, 9: "A belief might be false and yet life-preserving."
See also _W. P._, Vol. II, pp. 36, 37: "We should not interpret
this _constraint_ in ourselves to imagine concepts, species, forms,
purposes, and laws as if we were in a position to construct a real
world; but as a constraint to adjust a world by means of which our
existence is ensured: we thereby create a world which is determinable,
simplified, comprehensible, etc., for us."

[22] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 76.

[23] _Z._, II, XXIV. See also _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 33: "Truth is
the will to be master over the manifold sensations that reach
consciousness; it is the will to classify phenomena according to
definite categories."

[24] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. M. See also Schelling, _System des
transcendentalen Idealismus_, p. 468, where the author says, "Science,
in the highest interpretation of this term, has one and the same
mission as Art."

[25] _W. P._, Vol. II, pp. 28, 90, 103.

2. The First Artists.

For it was then that man's strongest instinct became creative in
man's highest product--the artist--and the discovery was made that
the world, although "without form" and "void," as a fact, could be
simplified and made calculable and full of form and attractions, as a
valuation, as an interpretation, as a spiritual possession. With the
world at a distance from him, unfamiliar and unhuman, man's existence
was a torment. With it beneath him, inside him, bearing the impress of
his spirit, and proceeding from him, he became a lord, casting care to
the winds, and terror to the beasts around.

Man, the bravest animal on earth, thus conceived the only possible
condition of his existence; namely, to become master of the world.
And, when we think of the miracles he then began to perform, we cease
from wondering why he once believed in miracles, why he thought of God
as in his own image, and why he made his strongest instinct God, and
thereupon made Him say: "Replenish the earth and subdue it!"

It was therefore the powerful who made the names of things into law.[26]
It was their Will to Power that simplified, organized, ordered
and schematized the world, and it was their will to prevail which made
them proclaim their simplification, their organization, their order
and scheme, as the norm, as the thing to be believed, as the world of
values which must be regarded as creation itself.

These early artists conceived of no other way of subduing the earth
than by converting it into concepts; and, as time soon showed that
there actually was no other way, interpretation came to be regarded
as the greatest task of all.[27] Naming, adjusting, classifying,
qualifying, valuing, putting a meaning into things, and, above all,
simplifying--all these functions acquired a sacred character, and he
who performed them to the glory of his fellows became sacrosanct.

So great were the relief and solace that these functions bestowed upon
mankind, and so different did ugly reality appear, once it had been
interpreted by the artist mind, that creating and naming actually
began to acquire much the same sense. For to put a meaning into
things was clearly to create them afresh[28]--in fact, to create
them literally. And so it came to pass that, in one of the oldest
religions on earth, the religion of Egypt, God was imagined as a Being
who created things by naming them;[29] while, in the Judaic notion
of the creation of the world, which was probably derived from the
Egyptians themselves, Jehovah is also said to have brought things into
existence merely by pronouncing their names.[30]

The world thus became literally man's Work of Art,[31] man's Sculpture.[32]
Miracle after miracle at last reduced Nature to man's chattel, and it
was man's lust of mastership, his will to power, which thus became
creative in his highest specimen--the artist--and which, fighting for
"the higher worthiness and meaning of mankind,"[33]transfigured reality by
means of human valuations, and overcame Becoming by falsifying it as

"We are in need of lies," says Nietzsche, "in order to rise superior to
reality, to truth--that is to say, in order to live.... That lies
should be necessary to life, is part and parcel of the terrible and
questionable character of existence. "Metaphysics, morality, religion,
science--all these things are merely different forms of falsehood,
by means of them we are led to believe in life. 'Life must inspire
confidence;' the task which this imposes upon us is enormous. In order
to solve this problem man must already be a liar in his heart. But he
must, above all, be an artist. And he is that. Metaphysics, religion,
morality, science--all these things are but an offshoot of his will to
Art, to falsehood, to a flight from 'truth,' to a denial of 'truth.'
This ability, this artistic capacity, _par excellence_, of man--thanks
to which he overcomes reality with lies--is a quality which he has in
common with all other forms of existence....

"To be blind to many things, to see many things falsely, to fancy
many things. Oh, how clever man has been in those circumstances in
which he believed that he was anything but clever! Love, enthusiasm,
'God'--are but subtle forms of ultimate self-deception; they are
but seductions to life and to the belief in life! In those moments
when man was deceived, when he befooled himself and when he believed
in life: Oh, how his spirit swelled within him! Oh, what ecstasies he
had! What power he felt! And what artistic triumphs in the feeling of
power!... Man had once more become master of 'matter'--master of
truth!... And whenever man rejoices, it is always in the same way:
he rejoices as an artist, his Power is his joy, he enjoys falsehood as
his power."[35]

"Subdue it!" said the Jehovah of the Old Testament, speaking to man,
and pointing to the earth: "have dominion over the fish of the sea, and
over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon
the earth."

This was man's original concept of his task on earth, and with it
before him he began to breathe at last, and to feel no longer a worm,
entangled in a mysterious piece of clockwork mechanism.

"What is it that created esteeming and despising and value and will?"
Zarathustra asks.

"The creating self created for itself esteeming and despising, it
created for itself joy and woe. The creating body created for itself
spirit, as a hand to its will."[36]

To appraise a thing was to create it for ever in the minds of a people.
But to create a thing in the minds of a people was to create that
people too; for it is to have values in common that constitutes a

"Creators were they who created peoples, and hung one belief and one
love over them," says Zarathustra; "thus they served life."[38]

"Values did man stamp upon things only that he might preserve himself
--he alone created the meaning of things--a human meaning! Therefore
calleth he himself man--that is, the valuing one.

"Valuing is creating: listen, ye creators! Valuation itself is the
treasure and jewel of valued things.

"Through valuing alone can value arise; and without valuing, the nut of
existence would be hollow. Listen, ye creators!

"Change of values--that is, change of creators.[39]

"Verily a prodigy is this power of praising and blaming. Tell me,
ye brethren, who will master it for me? Who will put a yoke on the
thousand necks of this animal?"[40]

"All the beauty and sublimity with which we have invested real and
imagined things," says Nietzsche, "I will show to be the property and
product of man, and this should be his most beautiful apology. Man
as a poet, as a thinker, as a god, as love, as power. Oh, the regal
liberality with which he has lavished gifts upon things!... Hitherto
this has been his greatest disinterestedness, that he admired and
worshipped, and knew how to conceal from himself that he it was who had
created what he admired."[41]

"Man as a poet, as a thinker, as a god, as love, as power"--this man,
following his divine inspiration to subdue the earth and to make it
his, became the greatest stimulus to Life itself, the greatest bond
between earth and the human soul; and, in shedding the glamour of his
personality, like the sun, upon the things he interpreted and valued,
he also gilded, by reflection, his fellow creatures.

There is not a thing we call sacred, beautiful, good or precious, that
has not been valued for us by this man, and when we, like children,
call out for the Truth about the riddles of this world, it is not for
the truth of reality which is the object of Christianity and of science
for which we crave; but for the simplifications[42] and values of
this man-god, who, by the art-form, into which he casts reality, makes
us believe that reality is as he says it is.

If this man is lacking, then we succumb to the blackest despair. If he
is with us, we voluntarily yield to boundless joy and good cheer. His
function is the divine principle on earth; his creation Art "is the
highest task and the properly metaphysical activity of this life."[43]

[26] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 28; also C.E., p. 288. See also Schelling,
Sämmtliche Werke, Vol. V, "_Vorlesungen über die Methode des
akademischen Studiums_," p. 286: "The first origin of religion in
general, as of every other kind of knowledge and culture, can be
explained only as the teaching of higher natures."

[27] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 89: "The Will to Truth at this stage is
essentially the art of interpretation."

[28] Thus Schiller, in one of his happy moments, called beauty our
second creator (zweite Schöpferin).

[29] Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie, The Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 67.

[30] That those who successfully determined values even in
comparatively recent times should have been regarded almost universally
as enjoying "some closer intimacy with the Deity than ordinary
mortals," proves how very godlike and sacred the establishment of order
was thought to be. See Max Müller, _Introduction to the Science of
Religion_, p. 88.

[31] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 102.

[32] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 107.

[33] _H. A. H._, Vol. I, p. 154.

[34] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 108: "Art is the will to overcome Becoming,
it is a process of eternalizing." And p. 107: "To stamp Becoming with
the character of Being--this is the highest Will to Power." See also
_G. M._, p. 199.

[35] _W. P._, Vol. II, pp. 289, 290. See also H.A.H., Vol. I, p. 154.

[36] _Z._, I, IV.

[37] Schelling and Hegel both held this view; the one expressed it
quite categorically in his lectures on Philosophy and Mythology, and
the other in his _Philosophy of History_.

[38] _Z._, I, XI.

[39] _Z._, I, XV.

[40] _Z._, I, XVI.

[41] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 113.

[42] See Th. Gomperz, _Greek Thinkers_, p. 46, who, speaking of
the old Ionian Nature-philosophers, says: "The bold flight of
their imagination did not stop at the assumption of a plurality of
indestructible elements; it never rested till it reached the conception
of a single fundamental or primordial matter as the essence of natural
diversity.... The impulse to simplification, when it had once been
aroused, was like a stone set in motion, which rolls continuously till
it is checked by an obstacle." See also Dr. W. Worringer, _Abstraktion
und Einfühlung_, p. 20.

[43] _B. T._, p. 20.

3. The People and their Man-God.

Think of the joy that must have spread through a wondering people like
the Greeks, when they were told that Earth, as the bride of Heaven, and
fertilized by his life-giving rain, became the mother not only of deep
eddying Ocean, but also of all that lives and dies upon her broad bosom!

Imagine the jubilation, the feeling of power and the sense of extreme
relief that must have filled the hearts of the ancient New Zealanders,
when the first great Maori artist arose and said to his brothers and
sisters that it was the god of the forests, Tane Mahuta, with his tall
trees that had wrenched the sky by force from mother Earth, where once
upon a time he used to crush her teeming offspring to death.[44]

With what superior understanding could they now gaze up into the
sky, and snap their fingers scornfully at its former azure mystery!
No wonder that the artist who could come forward with such an
interpretation became a god! And no wonder that in strong nations gods
and men are one! The fact that the explanation was not a true one,
according to our notions, did not matter in the least.

History not only reveals, but also proves that lies are not necessarily
hostile to existence.

For thousands of years the human race not only lived, but also
flourished with the lie of the Ptolemaic theory of the heavens on their

For centuries men thrived and multiplied, believing that the lightning
was Jehovah's anger, and that the rainbow was Jehovah's reminder of a
certain solemn covenant by which He promised never again to destroy all
life on earth by a flood.

I do not wish to imply that these two beliefs are false. For my part,
I would prefer to believe them, rather than accept the explanations
of these phenomena which modern science offers me. Still, the fact
remains that these two Judaic explanations have been exploded by
modern science, though the question whether, as explanations, they are
superior to modern science, scarcely requires a moment's consideration.

At any rate they were the work of an artist, and when we think of the
joy they must have spread among wondering mankind, we cannot wonder
that such an artist was made a god. It was an artist, too, who created
the unchanging thing;[45] who created every kind of permanency, _i.e._
Stability out of Evolution, and among other unchangeable things, the
soul of man, which was perhaps the greatest artistic achievement that
has ever been accomplished.

And this Man-God who created Being--that is to say, a stable world,
a world which can be reckoned with, and in which the incessant
kaleidoscopic character of things is entirely absent--this same
Man-God who found the earth "without form" and "void," and whose
magnificent Spirit "moved upon the face of the waters"; when people
grew too weak to look upon him as their brother and God at the same
time,[46] was relegated to his own world, and from a great distance they
now pray to him and worship him and say: "For Thine is the Kingdom, the
Power and the Glory, For ever and ever. Amen."

"For ever and ever;" this was something they could not say of the world
as it is; and the thought of stability and of Being was a delight to

It may be difficult for us to picture how great the rejoicings must
have been which followed upon every fresh ordering and arranging of the
universe, every fresh interpretation of the world in the terms of man.

Perhaps only a few people to-day, who are beginning to cast dubious
glances at Life, and to question even the justification of man's
existence, may be able to form some conception of the thrill that must
have passed through an ancient community, when one of its higher men
uprose and ordered and adjusted Life for them, and, in so ordering it,
transfigured it.

How much richer they must have felt! And how inseparable the two
notions "artist" and "giver" must have appeared to them!

"If indeed this is Life," they must have said; "if Life is really as he
orders it"--and his voice and eye allowed them to prefix no such "if"
with genuine scepticism--"then of a truth it is a well of delight and
a fountain of blessedness."

Thus Art--this function which "is with us in order that we may not
perish through truth,"[47] this "enhancement of the feeling of Life and
Life's stimulant,"[48] which "acts as a tonic, increases strength and
kindles desire"[49]--became the "great seducer" to earth and to the world;[50]
and we can imagine the gratitude that swelled in the hearts of men
for him whose function it was. How could he help but become a god!
Even tradition was not necessary for this. For at the very moment when
his creative spirit lent its glory to the earth, man must have been
conscious of his divinity or of his use as a mouthpiece by a Divinity.[50]

"O, Lord Varuna, may this song go well to thy heart!" sang the
ancient Hindus.

"Thou who knowest the place of the birds that fly through the sky, who
on the waters knowest the ships.

"Thou the upholder of order, who knowest the twelve months with the
offspring of each, and who knowest the month that is engendered

"Thou who knowest the track of the wind, of the wide, the bright, the
mighty; and knowest those who reside on high.

"Thou the upholder of order, Varuna, sit down among thy people, thou,
the wise, sit there to govern.

"From thence perceiving all wondrous things, thou seest what has been
and what will be done.

"Thou who givest to men glory, and not half glory, who givest it even
to our own selves.

"Thou, O wise god, art Lord of all, of heaven and earth!"[51]

We can follow every word of this heartfelt worship with perfect
sympathy now.

"Thou, the upholder of order, who knowest the twelve months with the
offspring of each"--this is no empty praise. It is the cry of those
who feel inexpressibly grateful to their great artist; to him who has
put some meaning, some order into the world.

And "Thou who givest men glory, and not half glory"--here is the
sincere recognition of a people who have been raised and who not only
rejoice in their elevation, but also recognize that it has been a
creative act--a gift and a blessing from one who had something to
give. For the soul of man is a million times more sensitive to changes
in interpretation than the column of mercury is to changes in the
atmosphere, and nothing can be more grateful than the soul of man when
it is raised, however little, and thereby glorified.

[44] See Max Müller, _India. What can it teach us?_ pp. 154. 155; also
pp. 150 and 151.

[45] _W. P._, Vol. II, pp. 88, 89: "Happiness can be promised only by
Being: change and happiness exclude each other. The loftiest desire
is thus to be one with Being. That is the formula for the way to

[46] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 313.

[47] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 264.

[48] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 244.

[49] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 252.

[50] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 290. See also p. 292: "Art is more divine
than truth."

[51] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 133. See also Schopenhauer, _Parerga und
Paralipomena_, Vol. II, Chap. XV, "_Ueber Religion_," para. 176, where
this view is ably upheld.

[52] Rig-Veda, I, 23.

4. The Danger.

Now, having reached this point, and having established--First: that
it is our artists who value and interpret things for us, and who put
a meaning into reality which, without them, it would never possess;
and, secondly: that it is their will to power that urges them thus to
appropriate Nature in concepts, and their will to prevail which gives
them the ardour to impose their valuation with authority upon their
fellows, thus forming a people; the thought which naturally arises is
this: The power that artists can exercise, and the prerogative they
possess, is one which might prove exceedingly dangerous; for while it
may work for good, it may also work very potently for evil. Does it
matter who interprets the world? who gives a meaning to things? who
adjusts and systematizes Nature? and who imposes order upon chaos?

Most certainly it matters. For a thousand meanings are possible, and
men may have a thousand been aiming for years, other interpretations
are still possible.

Listen to your artistic friend's description of the most trifling
excursion he has made, and then set your inartistic friend to relate
--say, his journey round the world. Whereupon ask yourself whether it
matters who sees things and who interprets life for you. The first,
even with his trifling excursion in his mind, will make you think
that life is really worth living, that the world is full, of hidden
treasure. The second will make you conclude that this earth is an
uninteresting monster, and that boredom can be killed only by the
dangers of motor racing, aerial navigation and glacier climbing.

"A thousand paths are there which never have been trodden," says
Zarathustra, "a thousand salubrities and hidden islands of life. Still
unexhausted and undiscovered is mankind and man's world."[53]

This interpreting of Nature and this making and moulding of a people
might therefore have brilliant or sinister results. There are many who
wish to prevail; there are many who wish to lure their fellows on, and
not all are standing on a superior plane.

For though artists, as a rule, are men of strong propensities[54] and
surplus energy, there is an instinct of chastity in the best of them,[55]
which impels them to devote all their power to prevailing in concepts
rather than in offspring, and which makes them avoid precisely that
quarter whither other men turn when they wish to prevail.[56]

The question as to what kind of man it is who walks up to Life and
orders and values her for us, is therefore of the most extraordinary
importance. Nothing could be more important than this. Because, as we
have seen, the question is not one of truth in the Christian and modern
scientific sense. A belief is often life-preserving and still false
from the standpoint of reality.[57] It is a matter, rather, of
finding that belief, whether true or false, which most conduces to the
love of an exalted form of Life. And if we ask, Who is the man who is
interpreting life for us? What is he? What is his rank? we practically
lay our finger upon the very worth of our view of the world.

There is no greater delight or passionate love on earth for the artist
than this: to feel that he has stamped his hand on a people and on
a millennium, to feel that his eyes, his ears, and his touch have
become their eyes, and their ears, and their touch. There is no deeper
enjoyment than this for him: to feel that as he sees, hears and feels,
they also will be compelled to see, hear and feel. Only thus is he able
to prevail. A people becomes his offspring.[58]

While their elation and blessedness consisted in being raised in
concepts to his level, and in seeing the world through his artistic
prisms--in fact, in scoring materially by allowing him, their higher
man, to establish their type; it was his solitary and unfathomable
glory to prevail for ever through their minds, and to lay the
foundation of his hazar, his thousand years of life on earth, in the
spirit of his fellows.

Utilitarian, if you will, are both points of view: the one giving from
his abundance, simply because he must discharge some of his plenitude
or perish, found his meaning in giving. The others, stepping up on the
gifts bestowed, found their meaning in receiving.[59]

The artist, then, as the highest manifestation of any human community,
justifies his existence merely by living his life, and by imparting
some of his magnificence to the things about him. To use a metaphor of
George Meredith's, he gilds his retainers as the sun gilds, with its
livery, the small clouds that gather round it. This is the artist's
power and it is also his bliss. From a lower and more economical
standpoint, he justifies his life by raising the community to its
highest power; by binding it to Life with the glories which he alone
can see, and by luring it up to heights which he is the first to scale
and to explore.[60]

[53] _Z._, I, XXII.

[54] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 243.

[55] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 259. Also _G. M._, p. 141.

[56] In this regard it is interesting to note that: "The Teutonic
'Kunst' (Art) is formed from _können_, and _können_ is developed from
a primitive Ich kann. Ich kann philology recognizes a preterite form
of a lost verb, of which we find the traces in Kin-d, a child; and the
form Ich kann, thus meaning originally, 'I begot,' contains the germ of
the two developments--_können_, 'to be master,' 'to be able,' and
'kennen' to know" (_Sidney Colvin_, in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_,
9th Edition. Article, "Art").

[57] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 14. See also _G. E._, pp. 8, 9.

[58] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 368: "The great man is conscious of his
power over a people, and of the fact that he coincides temporarily with
a people or with a century--this magnifying of his self-consciousness
as causa and voluntas is misunderstood as 'altruism': he feels driven
to means of communication: all great men are inventive in such means.
They want to form great communities in their own image; they would fain
give multiformity and disorder definite shape; it stimulates them to
behold chaos."

[59] _W. P._, pp. 255, 256.

[60] Even Fichte recognizes this power in Art to stamp values
upon a people. See the Sämmtliche Werke, Vol, IV, p. 353: "Art converts
the transcendental standpoint into the general standpoint.... The
philosopher can raise himself and others to this standpoint only with
great effort. But the artistic spirit actually finds himself there,
without having thought about it; he knows no other standpoint, and
those who yield to his influence are drawn so imperceptibly over to
his side, that they do not even notice how the change takes place."

5. The Two Kinds of Artists.

Up to the present I have spoken only of the desirable artist, of him
who, from the very health and fulness that is in him, cannot look on
Life without transfiguring her; of the man who naturally sees things
fuller, simpler, stronger and grander[61] than his fellows.[62] When
this man speaks of Life, his words are those of a lover extolling his
bride.[63] There is a ring of ardent desire and deep longing in his speech,
which is infectious because it is so sincere, which is convincing
because it is so authoritative, and which is beautiful because it
is so simple.

Intoxicated[64] by his love, giddy with enthusiasm, he rhapsodizes
about her, magnifies her; points to vast unknown qualities and beauties
in her, to which he is the first to give some lasting names; and stakes
his life upon her myriad charms. This Dionysian artist, the prototype
of all gods and demi-gods that have ever existed on earth, exalts Life
when he honours her with his love; and in exalting her, exalts humanity
as well.[65]

For the mediocre, simply because they cannot transfigure Life in that
way, benefit extremely from looking on the world through the Dionysian
artist's personality. It is his genius which, by putting ugly reality
into an art-form, makes life desirable. Beneath all his dithyrambs,
however, there is still the will to power and the will to prevail--
just as these instincts are to be found behind the magnificats of the
everyday lover; but, in the case of the former, it is the power in the

There is, however, another kind of man who walks towards Life to value
and to order her. The kind of man who, as we saw in my last lecture,
declares that "man is born in sin,"--"that depravity is universal,"
--"that nothing exists in the intellect but what has before existed
in the senses; "and that "every man is his own priest"; the man who
defines Life as "the continuous adjustment of internal relations to
external relations"; and who says: "it is only the cultivation of
individuality which produces, or can produce, well-developed human
beings"; the man who declares that we are all equal, that there is one
truth for all, if only it can be found; and who thus not only kills all
higher men, but also deprives his fellow creatures of all the beauty
that these higher men have brought, and might still bring, into the
world; finally, the man who values humanity with figures and in the
terms of matter, who values progress in the terms of the engineer's
workshop, and who denies that Art can have any relation to Life.

This man is a sort of inverted Midas at whose touch all gold turns to
tinsel, all pearls turn to beads, and all beauty withers and fades, His
breath is that of the late autumn, and his words are hoarfrost. Having
nothing to give,[66] he merely robs things of the beauty that was once
laid in them, by insisting upon the truth of their reality; and he sees
Life smaller, thinner, weaker, and greyer than it is even to the people
themselves. He is the antithesis of the Dionysian artist. He comes from
the people, and very often from a substratum lower than they. How,
therefore, can he give the people anything they do not already possess?
He is a housewives have not already seen or felt? People have no use
for him, therefore, and whenever they are drawn to his side by his
seditious songs about equality, they find, when it is too late, that he
has made the world drabbier, uglier, colder, and stranger for them than
it was before.

This is the man who insists upon truth. Forgetting that truth is
ugly[67] and that humanity has done little else, since it first became
conscious, than to master and overcome truth, he wishes to make this
world what it was in the beginning, "without form" and "void," and to
empty things of the meaning that has been put into them, simply because
he is unable to create a world for himself.[68]

Aiming at a general truth for all, he is reduced to naked reality,
to Nature as it was before God's Spirit moved upon the face of the
waters, and this is his world of facts, stripped of all that higher
men have put into them. This man of science without Art, is gradually
reducing us to a state of absolute ignorance; for while he takes from
us what we know about things, he gives us nothing in return. How often
do we not hear people who are influenced by his science, exclaim that
the more they learn the less they feel they know. This exclamation
contains a very profound truth; for science is robbing us inch by inch
of all the groundfield-labourer among field-labourers, a housewife
among housewives--how could he point to any beauty or desire which
field-labourers and that was once conquered for us by bygone artists.[69]

Such a man, if he can be really useful in garnering and accumulating
facts, and in devising and developing novel mechanical contrivances,
ought in any case to be closeted apart, so that none of his breath
can reach the Art-made world. And when he begins valuing, all windows
and doors ought speedily to be barred and bolted against him. He is
the realist. It is he who sees spots on the sun's face; it is he who
denies that mist is the passionate sigh of mother Earth, yearning for
her spouse the sky; it is he who will not believe that the god of the
forest with his tallest trees separated the earth and the heavens
by force, and the explanations he gives of things, though they are
doubtless useful to him in his laboratory, are empty and colourless.
Granting, as I say, that he does anything useful in the department of
facts, let his profession at least be a strictly esoteric one. For his
interpretations are so often ignoble, in addition to being colourless,
that his business, like that of a certain Paris functionary, ought to
be pursued in the most severe and most zealous secrecy.

If the world grows ugly, and Life loses her bloom; if all winds are
ill winds, and the sunshine seems sickly and pale; if we turn our eyes
dubiously about us, and begin to question the justification of our
existence, we may be quite certain that this man, this realist, and his
type, are in the ascendancy, and that he it is who is stamping his ugly
fist upon our millennium.

For the function of Art is the function of the ruler. It relieves the
highest of their burden, so that mediocrity may be twice blessed,
and it makes us a people by luring us to a certain kind of Life. Its
essence is riches, its activity is giving and perfecting,[70] and while
it is a delight to the highest, it is also a boon to those beneath them.

The attempt of the Dionysian artist[71] to prevail, therefore, is
sacred and holy. In his efforts to make his eyes our eyes, his ears our
ears, and his touch our touch, though he does not pursue any altruistic
purpose, he confers considerable benefits upon mankind. Whereas
the attempt of that other man to prevail--the realist and devotee
of so-called truth--is barbarous and depraved. By his egoism he
depresses, depreciates and dismantles Life in great things as in small.
Woe to the age whose values allow his voice to be heard with respect!
There are necessary grey studies to be made, necessary uglinesses to
be described, perhaps. But let these studies and descriptions be kept
within the four walls of a laboratory until the time comes when, by
their collective means, man can be raised and not depressed by them.
Science is not with us to promulgate values. It is with us to be the
modest handmaiden of Art, working in secrecy until all its ugliness
can be collected, transfigured, and used for the purpose of man's
exaltation by the artist. It may be useful for our science-slaves,
working behind the scenes of Life, to know that the sky is merely our
limited peep into an infinite expanse of ether--whatever that is. But
when we ask to hear about it, let us be told as follows--

"O heaven above me! Thou pure! Thou deep! Thou abyss of light! Gazing
on Thee, I quiver with godlike desires.

"To cast myself up unto thy height--that is my profundity! To hide
myself in thy purity--that is mine innocence.

"We have been friends from the beginning, thou and I. Sorrow and horror
and soil we share: even the sun is common to us.

"We speak not to each other, for we know too many things. We stare
silently at each other; by smiles do we communicate our knowledge.

"And all my wanderings and mountain-climbings--these were but a
necessity and a makeshift of the helpless one. To fly is the one thing
that my will willeth, to fly into thee.

"And what have I hated more than passing clouds and all that defileth

"The passing clouds I loathe--those stealthy cats of prey. They take
from thee and me what we have in common--that immense, that infinite
saying of Yea and Amen.

"These mediators and mixers we loathe--the passing clouds.

"Rather would I sit in a tub, with the sky shut out; rather would I
sit in the abyss without a sky, than see thee, sky of Light, denied by
wandering clouds!

"And oft have I longed to pin them fast with the jagged gold wires of
lightning, that I might, like the thunder, beat the drum upon their

"An angry drummer, because they bereave me of thy Yea and Amen I--
thou heaven above me, thou pure, thou bright, thou abyss of Light! And
because they bereave thee of my Yea and Amen.

"Thus spake Zarathustra."[72]

[61] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 243: "Artists should not see things
as they are; they should see them fuller, simpler, stronger. To this
end, however, a kind of youthfulness, of vernality, a sort of perpetual
elation, must be peculiar to their lives." See also T. I., Part 10,
Aph. 8.

[62] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 243. See also T. I., Part 10, Aph. 9.

[63] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 248.

[64] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 241: "The feeling of intoxication
(elation) is, as a matter of fact, equivalent to a sensation of surplus
strength." See also p. 254.

[65] Schelling also recognized the transfiguring power of Art;
but he traced it to the fact that the artist invariably paints Nature
at her zenith. See p. II, _The Philosophy of Art_ (translation by A.
Johnson): "Every growth of nature has but one moment of perfect beauty,
... Art, in that it presents the object in this moment, withdraws it
from time, and causes it to display its pure being in the form of
eternal beauty." This is making the natural object itself the adequate
source of its own transfiguration, and the theory overlooks the power
of the artist himself to see things as they are not.

[66] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 244: "The sober-minded man, the tired
man, the exhausted and dried-up man, can have no feeling for Art,
because he does not possess the primitive force of Art, which is the
tyranny of inner riches."

[67] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 101.

[68] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 89: "The belief that the world which
ought to be, is, really exists, is a belief proper to the unfruitful,
who do not wish to create a world. They take it for granted, they
seek for ways and means of attaining it. 'The will to truth' [in
the Christian and scientific sense] is the impotence of the will to

[69] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 104: "The development of science tends
ever more to transform the known into the unknown: its aim, however, is
to do the _reverse_, and it starts out with the instinct of tracing the
unknown to the known. In short, science is laying the road to sovereign
ignorance, to a feeling that knowledge does not exist at all, that it
was merely a form of haughtiness to dream of such a thing."

[70] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 263: "The essential feature in art is
its power of perfecting existence, its production of perfection and
plenitude. Art is essentially the affirmation, the blessing, and the
deification of existence."

[71] Fichte comes near to Nietzsche, here, with his idea of
the "beautiful spirit" which sees all nature full, large and abundant,
as opposed to him who sees all things thinner, smaller, and emptier
than they actually are. See Fichte's _Sämmtliche Werke_, Vol. IV, p.
354. See also Vol. III, p. 273.

[72] _Z._, III, XLVIII.

Part II

Deductions from Part I.

Nietzsche's Art Principles

    "For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the
    scribes."-- Matthew vii. 29.

1. The Spirit of the Age Incompatible with Ruler-Art.

With Nietzsche's concept of Art before me I feel as if I had left the
arts of the present day many thousand leagues behind, and it is almost
a hardship to be obliged to return to them. For unless most of that
which is peculiar to this age be left many thousand leagues to the
rear, all hope of making any headway must be abandoned.

We live in a democratic age. It is only natural, therefore, that all
that belongs to the ruler should have been whittled down, diluted, and
despoiled of its dignity; and we must feel no surprise at finding that
no pains have been spared which might reduce Art also to a function
that would be compatible with the spirit of the times. All that
savours of authority has become the work of committees, assemblies,
herds, crowds, and mobs. How could the word of one man be considered
authoritative, now that the ruling principle, to use a phrase of Mr.
Chesterton's, is that "twelve men are better than one"?[1]

The conception of Art as a manifestation of the artist's will to power
and his determination to prevail, is a much too dangerous one for the
present day. It involves all kinds of things which are antagonistic to
democratic theory, such as: Command, Reverence, Despotism, Obedience,
Greatness and Inequality. Therefore, if artists are to be tolerated
at all, they must have a much more modest, humble, and pusillanimous
comprehension of what their existence means, and of the purpose and
aim of their work; and their claims, if they make any, must be meek,
unprivileged, harmless and unassuming.

While, therefore, the artist, as Nietzsche understood him, scarcely
exists at all to-day, another breed of man has come to the fore in
the graphic arts, whose very weakness is his passport, who makes no
claims at establishing new values of beauty, and who contents himself
modestly with exhibiting certain baffling dexterities, virtuosities
and tricks, which at once amaze and delight ordinary spectators or
Art-students, simply because they themselves have not yet overcome even
the difficulties of a technique.

Monet's pointillisme, Sargent's visible and nervous brush strokes,
Rodin's wealth of anatomical detail, the Impressionist's scientific
rendering of atmosphere, Peter Graham's gauzy mists, Lavery's
post-Whistlerian portraits of pale people, and the touching devotion of
all modern artists to Truth, in the Christian and scientific sense, are
all indications of the general "funk"--the universal paralysis of will
that has overtaken the Art-world.

But I am travelling too fast. I said that no pains have been spared
which might reduce Art also to a function that would be compatible with
the democratic spirit of the times. Now in what form have these pains
been taken?

Their form has invariably been to turn the tables upon Art, and to make
its beauty dependent upon Nature, instead of Nature's beauty dependent
upon it.[2]

Tradition, of course, very largely laid the foundation of this mode of
thinking, and, from the Greeks to Ruskin, few seem to have realized how
much beauty Art had already laid in Nature, before even the imitative
artist could consider Nature as beautiful.

As Croce rightly observes: "Antiquity seems generally to have been
entrammelled in the meshes of the belief in mimetic, or the duplication
of natural objects by the artist;"[3] but when we remember that, as
Schelling points out, in Greece speculation about Art began with Art's
decline,[4] we ought to feel no surprise at this remote underestimation
of the artistic fact.[5]

In reviewing the work of æstheticians from Plato to Croce, however,
what strikes me as so significant is the fact that, from the time
of Plotinus--who practically marks the end of the declension which
started in Plato's time--to the end of the seventeenth century,
scarcely a voice of any magnitude was raised in Europe on the subject
of Art.[6]

That there was no real "talk" about Art, at the time when it was
revived in the Middle Ages, and at the time when it flourished in
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and that all the old Hellenic
discussions on the subject should have been taken up again at a
period when the last emaciated blooms of the Renaissance and of the
counter-Renaissance were bowing their heads, only shows how very sorry
the plight of all great human functions must be when man begins to hope
that he may set them right by talking about them.

When it is remembered, however, that, from the end of the seventeenth
century onward, Art was regarded either as imitation pure and simple or
as idealized imitation by no less than fifteen thinkers of note--that
is to say, roughly speaking, by the Earl of Shaftesbury, Hutcheson,
Home, Burke and Hume in England, by Batteux and Diderot in France,
by Pagano and Spaletti in Italy, by Hemsterhuis in Holland, and by
Leibnitz, Baumgarten, Kant, Schiller and Fichte in Germany; and that
if Winckelmann and Lessing opposed these ideas, it was rather with the
recommendation of another kind of imitation--that of the antique--
than with a new valuation of Art; we can feel scarcely any surprise
at all at the sudden and total collapse of the dignity of Art in the
nineteenth century, under the deadly influence of the works of men like
Semper and his followers.

It is all very well to point to men like Goethe, Heydenreich,
Schelling, Hegel, Hogarth and Reynolds--all of whom certainly did a
good deal to brace the self-respect of artists; but it is impossible
to argue that any one of them took up either such a definite or such a
determined attitude against the fifteen others whom I have mentioned,
as could materially stem the tide of democratic Art which was rising
in Europe. And if in the latter half of the nineteenth century we have
Ruskin telling us that "the art which makes us believe what we would
not otherwise have believed, is misapplied, and in most instances very
dangerously so";[7] and if we find that his first principle is, "that our
graphic art, whether painting or sculpture, is to produce something
which shall look as like Nature as possible,"[8] and that, in extolling
the Gothic, he says it was "the love of natural objects for their
own sake, and the effort to represent them frankly, unconstrained
by artistic laws";[9] we realize how very slight the effect of those
exceptional spirits, headed by Goethe, must have been.

[1] See his evidence before the Joint Committee on the Stage
Censorship.--Daily Press, September 24th, 1909.

[2] _T. I._, Part 10, Aph. 19: "Man believes the world itself to be
overcharged with beauty,--he forgets that he is the cause of it. He
alone has endowed it with beauty.... In reality man mirrors himself in
things; he counts everything beautiful which reflects his likeness....
Is the world really beautiful, just because man thinks it is? Man has
humanized it, that is all."

[3] _Æsthetic_ (Douglas Ainslie's translation), p. 259. See also B.
Bosanquet, _A History of Æsthetic_, pp. 15-18.

[4] _Sämmtliche Werke_, Vol. V, "Vorlesungen über die Methode des
akademischen Studiums," pp. 346, 347.

[5] Dr. Max Schasler (_Kritische Geschichte der Æsthetik_, p. 73)
agrees that the understanding of Art in classical antiquity seems to
be quite barbaric in its stupidity ("_von einer geradezu barbarischen
Bornirtheit_"); but he adds that this may be an argument in favour of
the antique; for it may prove the unconsciousness of the artists and
the absolute unity of the artistic life and of artistic appreciation in

[6] Aristotle was, of course, studied and commentated to a very great
extent during these fifteen centuries; but in all the branches of
science save Æsthetic. Where his Poetic was examined, the philological
or literary-historical interest was paramount. Augustine and St. Thomas
Aquinas do not differ materially from Plotinus and Plato.

[7] _Lectures on Art_ (1870), p. 50.

[8] _Aratra Pentelici_ (1870), p. 118. It is true that this is followed
by a restriction; but what does this restriction amount to? Ruskin
says: "We must produce what shall look like Nature to people who know
what Nature is."

[9] _On the Nature of the Gothic_ (Smith, Elder, 1854), p. 19.

2. A Thrust parried. Police or Detective Art defined.

But to return to the movement initiated by Semper[10]--here we
certainly have the scientific and Christian _coup de grâce_ levelled
at the expiring spirit of nineteenth-century Art. For the actors in
this movement not only maintained that Art is imitation, but that it
actually took its origin in imitation--and of the basest sort--that
is to say, of accidental combinations of lines and colours produced in
basket-work, weaving and plaiting.

This conclusion, which was arrived at, once more, by means of a
formidable array of facts, and which called itself "Evolution in
Art," was, like its first cousin, "Evolution in the Organic World,"
absolutely democratic, ignoble, and vulgar; seeking the source of the
highest human achievements either in automatic mimicry, slavish and
even faulty copying, or involuntary adoption of natural or purely
utilitarian forms.

Taking the beauty of Nature for granted--an assumption which, as
the first part of this lecture shows, is quite unwarrantable--these
Art-Evolutionists sought to prove that all artistic beauty was the
outcome of man's Simian virtues working either in the realm of Nature
or in the realm of his own utilitarian handiwork. And from the purely
imitative productions found in the Madeleine Cavern in La Dordogne,
to the repetitive patterns worked on wooden bowls by the natives in
British New Guinea, the origin of all art lay in schoolboy "cribbing."

This was a new scientific valuation of Art--foreshadowed, as I have
shown, by philosophical æsthetic, but arriving independently, as it
were, at the conclusion that Art was no longer a giver, but a robber.

Volumes were written to show the origin in technical industry of
individual patterns and ornaments on antique vases. And as Alois Riegl
rightly observes, the authors of these works spoke with such assurance,
that one might almost have believed that they had been present when the
vases were made.[11]

Even Semper, however, as Riegl points out, did not go so far as his
disciples, and though he believed that art-forms had been evolved--a
fact any one would be ready to admit--he did not press the point that
technical industry had always been their root.

When we find such delicate and beautifully rhythmic patterns as those
which Dr. A. C. Haddon gives us in his interesting work on Evolution
in Art, and are told that they originated in the frigate birds, or in
woodlarks, which infest the neighbourhood from which these patterns
hail;[12] when we are shown a Chinese ornament which resembles
nothing so much as the Egyptian honeysuckle and lotus ornament,[13]
and we are told that it is derived from the Chinese bat, and when we
are persuaded that an ordinary fish-hook can lead to a delightful
bell-like[14] design; then our knowledge of what Art is protests
against this desecration of its sanctity--more particularly after
we have been informed that any beauty that the original "Skeuomorph"[15]
may ultimately possess is mostly due to rapid and faulty copying
by inexpert draughtsmen, or to a simplifying process which repeated
drawings of the same thing must at length involve.

This is nonsense, and of a most pernicious sort. No mechanical copying
or involuntary simplification will necessarily lead to designs of great
beauty. One has only to set a class of children to make dozens of
copies of an object--each more removed than the last from the original
--in order to discover that if any beauty arises at all, it is actually
_given_ or _imparted_ to the original by one particular child, who happens
to be an artist, and that the rest of the class will be quite innocent
of anything in the way of embellishments, or beauty of any kind.

It would be absurd to argue that the beak of a frigate bird had not
been noticed by particular natives in those parts of the world where
the creature abounds; but the creative act of making an ornamental
design based upon a pot-hook unit, such as the frigate bird's beak
is, bears no causal relation whatsoever to the original fact in the
artist's environment, and to write books in order to show that it
does, is as futile as to try and show that pneumonia or bronchitis or
pleurisy was the actual cause of Poe's charming poem, "Annabel Lee."

Riegl, Lipps, and Dr. Worringer very rightly oppose this view of Semper
and others. In his book, _Stilfragen_, Riegl successfully disposes of
the theory that repetitive patterns have invariably been the outcome
of technical processes such as weaving and plaiting, and points out
that, very often, a vegetable or animal form is given to an original
ornamental figure, only after it has been developed to such an extent
that it actually suggests that vegetable or animal form.[16]

Dr. Worringer goes to great pains in order to show that there is
an Art-will which is quite distinct from mimicry of any kind, and
that this Art-will, beginning in the graphic arts with rhythmic and
repetitive geometrical designs, such as zigzags, cross-hatchings and
spirals, has nothing whatsoever to do with natural objects or objects
of utility, such as baskets and woven work, which these designs happen
to resemble.[17]

He points out that there is not only a difference of degree, but
actually a marked difference of kind, between the intensely realistic
drawing of the Madeleine finds and of some Australian cave painting
and rock sculptures,[18] which are the work of the rudest savages, and the
rhythmic decoration of other races; and that whereas the former are
simply the result of a truly imitative instinct which the savage does
well to cultivate for his own self-preservation--since the ability
to imitate also implies sharpened detective senses[19]--the latter is
the result of a genuine desire for order and simple and organized
arrangement, and an attempt in a small way to overcome confusion. "It
is man's only possible way of emancipating himself from the accidental
and chaotic character of reality."[20]

The author also shows very ably that, even where plant forms are
selected by the original geometric artist, it is only owing to some
peculiarly orderly or systematic arrangement of their parts, and that
the first impulse in the selective artist is not to imitate Nature, but
to obtain a symmetrical and systematic arrangement of lines,[21] to gratify
his will to be master of natural disorder.

These objections of Riegl and Worringer are both necessary and
important; for, as the former declares: "It is now high time that we
should retreat from the position in which it is maintained that the
roots of Art lie in purely technical prototypes."[22]

Even in the camp of the out-and-out evolutionists, however, there seems
always to have been some uncertainty as to whether they were actually
on the right scent. One has only to read Grosse, where he throws doubt
on the technical origin of ornament, and acknowledges that he clings
to it simply because he can see no other,[23] and the concluding word of
Dr. Haddon's book, _Evolution in Art_,[24] in order to understand how
very much a proper concept of the Art-instinct would have helped these
writers to explain a larger field of facts than they were able to
explain, and to do so with greater accuracy.

Nobody, of course, denies that the patterns on alligators' backs, the
beaks of birds, and even the regular disposition of features in the
human face, have been incorporated into designs; but what must be
established, once and for all, is the fact that there is a whole ocean
of difference between the theory which would ascribe such coincidences
to the imitative faculty, and that which would show them to be merely
the outcome of an original desire for rhythmic order, simplification,
and organization, which may or may not avail itself of natural or
technical forms suggestive of symmetrical arrangement that happen to be
at hand.

It is an important controversy, and one to which I should have been
glad to devote more attention. In summing up, however, I don't think
I could do better than quote the opening lines of the Rev. J. F.
Rowbotham's excellent _History of Music_, in which the same questions,
although applied to a different branch of Art, are admirably stated and

In this book the author says--

"The twittering of birds, the rustling of leaves, the gurgling of
brooks, have provoked the encomiums of poets. Yet none of these has
ever so powerfully affected man's mind that he has surmised the
existence of something deeper in them than one hearing would suffice
to disclose, and has endeavoured by imitating them to familiarize
himself with their nature, so that he may repeat the effect at his own
will and pleasure in all its various shades. These sounds, with that
delicate instinct which has guided him so nicely through this universe
of tempting possibilities, he chose deliberately to pass over. He heard
them with pleasure maybe. But pleasure must possess some æsthetic
value. There must be a secret there to fathom, a mystery to unravel,
before we would undertake its serious pursuit.

"And there is a kind of sound which exactly possesses these
qualities--a sound fraught with seductive mystery--a sound which is
Nature's magic, for by it can dumb things speak.

"The savage who, for the first time in our world's history, knocked
two pieces of wood together, and took pleasure in the sound, had other
aims than his own delight. He was patiently examining a mystery; he was
peering with his simple eyes into one of Nature's greatest secrets. The
something he was examining was rhythmic sound, on which rests the whole
art of music."[25]

Thus, as you see, there is a goodly array of perfectly sensible people
on the other side. Still, the belief that graphic art took its origin
in imitation must undoubtedly have done a good deal of damage; for the
numbers that hold it and act upon it at the present day are, I am sorry
to say, exceedingly great.

By identifying the will to imitate with the instinct of
self-preservation pure and simple, however, we immediately obtain its
order of rank; for having already established that the will to Art is
the will to exist in a certain way--that is to say, with power, all
that which ministers to existence alone must of necessity fall below
the will to Art. In helping us to make this point, Dr. Worringer and
Mr. Felix Clay have done good service, while Riegl's contribution to
the side opposed to the Art-Evolutionists cannot be estimated too

We are now able to regard the realistic rockdrawings and cave-paintings
of rude Bushmen, as also the finds in the Madeleine Cavern, with an
understanding which has not been vouchsafed us before, and in comparing
these examples of amazing truth to Nature--which, for want of a better
name, we shall call Detective or Police Art[26]--with the double
twisted braid, the palmette, and the simple fret in Assyrian ornament,
we shall be able to assign to each its proper order of rank.

It seems a pity, before laying down the principles of an art, that
it should be necessary to clear away so many false doctrines and
prejudices heaped upon it in perfect good faith by scientific men. It
is only one proof the more, if such were needed, of the vulgarizing
influence science has exercised over everything it has touched, since
it began to become almost divinely ascendant in the nineteenth century.

[10] "_Der Stil in der technischen und tektonischen Künsten, oder
praktische Æsthetik_."

[11] See the excellent work, _Stilfragen_, p. 11.

[12] _Evolution in Art_, by A. C. Haddon. See especially figures 26,
27, 30, 31, 32, pp. 49-52. See also figure 106, p. 181.

[13] _The Evolution of Decorative Art_, by Henry J. Balfour, p. 50.

[14] _Evolution in Art_, by A. C. Haddon, p. 76.

[15] A word Dr. Colley March introduced to express the idea of an
ornament due to structure.

[16] _Stilfragen_, p. 208 _et seq_. See also Dr. W. Worringer's really
valuable contribution to this subject: _Abstraktion und Einfühlung_, p.

[17] _Abstraktion und Einfühlung_, pp. 4, 8, 9, 11.

[18] _Abstraktion und Einfühlung_, p. 51. See also Grosse, The
Beginnings of Art, pp. 166-169 et seq.

[19] For confirmation of this point see Felix Clay, _The Origin of the
Sense of Beauty_, p. 97.

[20] _Abstraktion und Einfühlung_, p. 44.

[21] _Abstraktion und Einfühlung_, p. 58.

[22] Stilfragen, p. 12.

[23] _The Beginnings of Art_, pp. 145-147.

[24] p. 309: "There are certain styles of ornamentation which, at all
events in particular cases, may very well be original, taking that word
in its ordinary sense, such, for example, as zigzags, cross-hatching,
and so forth. The mere toying with any implement which could make
a mark on any surface might suggest the simplest ornamentation
[_N.B._--It is characteristic of this school that even original design,
according to them, must be the result of "toying" with an instrument,
and of a suggestion from chance markings it may make] to the most
savage mind. This may or may not have been the case, and it is entirely
beyond proof either way, and therefore we must not press our analogy
too far. It is, however, surprising and is certainly very significant
that the origin of so many designs can be determined although they are
of unknown age."

[25] _The History of Music_, by J. F. Rowbotham, 1893, pp. 7, 8. See
also Dr. Wallaschek's _Anfänge der Tonkunst_ (Leipzig, 1903).

[26] The Bertillon system of identification and Madame Tussaud's,
together with a large number of modern portraits and landscapes, are
the highest development of this art.

3. The Purpose of Art Still the Same as Ever.

But in spite of all the attempts that have been made to democratize
Art, and to fit it to the Procrustes bed of modernity, two human
factors have remained precisely the same as they ever were, and show
no signs of changing. I refer to the general desire to obey and to
follow, in the mass of mankind, and to the general desire to prevail in
concepts, if not in offspring, among higher men.

Wherever one may turn, wherever one inquires, one will discover that,
at the present day, however few and weak the commanders may be, there
is among the vast majority of people an insatiable thirst to obey,
to find opinions ready-made, and to believe in some one or in some
law. The way the name of science is invoked when a high authority
is needed--just as the Church or the Bible used to be invoked in
years gone by--the love of statistics and the meekness with which
a company grows silent when they are quoted; the fact that the most
preposterous fashions are set in clothing, in tastes, and in manners;
the sheep-like way in which people will follow a leader, whether in
politics, literature, or in sport, not to dilate upon the love of great
names and the faith in the daily Press which nowadays, so I hear, even
prescribes schemes for dinner-table conversation--all these things
show what a vast amount of instinctive obedience still remains the
birthright of the Greatest Number. For even advertisement hoardings and
the excessive use of advertisements in this age, in addition to the
fact that they point unmistakably to the almost omnipotent power of the
commercial classes (a power which vouchsafes them even the privilege
of self-praise, which scarcely any other class of society could claim
without incurring the charge of bad-taste), also show how docilely
the greatest number must ultimately respond to repeated stimuli, and
finally obey if they be told often enough to buy, or to go to see,
any particular thing. And, in this respect, the Nietzschean attitude
towards the greatest number is one of kindness and consideration.

This instinct to obey, says Nietzsche, is the most natural thing in the
world, and it must be gratified. By all means it must be gratified.
What is fatal is not that it should be fed with commands, but that it
should be starved by the lack of commanders, and so be compelled to go
in search of food on its own account.

"Inasmuch as in all ages," says Nietzsche, "as long as mankind has
existed, there have always been human herds (family alliances,
communities, tribes, peoples, states, churches), and always a great
number who obey in proportion to the small number who command--in
view, therefore, of the fact that obedience has been most practised
and fostered among mankind hitherto, one may reasonably suppose that,
generally speaking, the need thereof is now innate in every one, as
a kind of _formal conscience_ which gives the command: 'Thou shalt
unconditionally do something, unconditionally refrain from something.'
In short, 'Thou shalt.' This need tries to satisfy itself and to fill
its form with a content; according to its strength, impatience and
eagerness, it thereby seizes, as an omnivorous appetite, with little
selection, and accepts whatever is shouted into its ear by all sorts
of commanders--parents, teachers, laws, class prejudices, or public

Everywhere, then, "he who would command finds those who must obey"[28]--
this is obvious to the most superficial observer; because it is easier
to obey than to command.

"Wherever I found living things," says Zarathustra, "there heard I also
the language of obedience. All living things are things that obey.

"And this I heard secondly: whatever cannot obey itself, is commanded.
Such is the nature of living things.

"This, however, is the third thing I heard: to command is more
difficult than to obey. And not only because the commander beareth the
burden of all who obey, and because this burden easily crusheth him:--

"An effort and a risk seemed all commanding unto me; and whenever it
commandeth, the living thing risketh itself.

"Yea, even when it commandeth himself, then also must it atone for its
commanding. Of its own law must it become the judge and avenger and

For opinions are a matter of will; they are always, or ought to
be always, travelling tickets implying a certain definite aim and
destination, and the opinions we hold concerning Life must point to
a certain object we see in Life;--hence there is just as great a
market for opinions, and just as great a demand for fixed values to-day
as there ever was, and the jealous love with which men will quote
well-established views, or begin to believe when they hear that a view
is well established--a fact which is at the root of all the fruits of
modern popularity--shows what a need and what a craving there is for
authority, for authoritative information, and for unimpeachable coiners
of opinions.

Now all the arts either determine values or lay stress upon certain
values already established.[30] What, then, are the particular values
that the graphic arts determine or accentuate? It must be clear that
they determine what is beautiful, desirable, in fact, imperative, in
form and colour.

The purpose of the graphic arts, then, has remained the same as it ever
was. It is to determine the values "ugly" and "beautiful" for those who
wish to know what is ugly and what is beautiful. The fact that painters
and sculptors have grown so tremulous and so little self-reliant as
to claim only the right to imitate, to please and to amuse, does not
affect this statement in the least; it is simply a reflection upon
modern artists and sculptors.

Since, however, these values beautiful and ugly are themselves but the
outcome of other more fundamental values which have ruled and moulded
a race for centuries, it follows that the artist who would accentuate
or determine the qualities beautiful or ugly, must bear some intimate
relation to the past and possible future of the people.

Place the Hermes of Praxiteles and especially the canon of Polycletus
in any part of a cathedral of the late Gothic, and you will see to what
extent the values which gave rise to Gothic Art were incompatible with,
and antagonistic to, those which reared Praxiteles and Polycletus.
Now, if you want a still greater contrast, place an Egyptian granite
sculpture inside a building like le Petit Trianon, and this intimate
association between the Art and the values of a people will begin to
seem clear to you.

You may ask, then, why or how such an art as Ruler-art can please?
Since it introduces something definitely associated with a particular
set of values, and commands an assent to these values, how is it that
one likes it?

The reply is that one does not necessarily like it. One often hates
it. One likes it only when one feels that it reveals values which are
in sympathy with one's own aspirations. The Ruler-art of Egypt, for
instance, can stir no one who, consciously or unconsciously, is not in
some deep secret sympathy with the society which produced it; and as an
example of this sympathy--if you wish to know why the realism which
comes from poverty[31] tends to increase and flourish in democratic times,
it is only because there is that absence of particular human power in
it which is compatible with a society in which a particular human power
is completely lacking.

For it is absolute nonsense to speak of _l'art pour l'art_ and of the
pleasure of art for art's sake as acceptable principles.[32] I will show
later on how this notion arose. Suffice it to say, for the present,
that this is the death of Art. It is separating Art from Life, and it
is relegating it to a sphere--a Beyond--where other things, stronger
than Art, have already been known to die. The notion of art for art's
sake can only arise in an age when the purpose of Art is no longer
known, when its relation to Life has ceased from being recognized, and
when artists have grown too weak to find the realization of their will
in their works.

[27] _G. E._, p. 120.

[28] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 105.

[29] _Z._, II, XXXIV.

[30] T. I., Part 10, Aph. 24: "A psychologist asks what does all art
do? does it not praise? does it not glorify? does it not select? does
it not bring into prominence? In each of these cases it strengthens or
weakens certain valuations. ... Is this only a contingent matter?--an
accident, something with which the instinct of the artist would not at
all be concerned? Or rather, is it not the pre-requisite which enables
the artist to do something? Is his fundamental instinct directed
towards art?--or is it not rather directed towards the sense of art,
namely, life? towards desirableness of life?"

[31] See p. 119.

[32] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 246. See also T. I., Part 10, Aph. 24, and _G.
E._, p. 145.

4. The Artist's and the Layman's View of Life.

If the artist's view of Life can no longer affect Life, if his
ordering, simplifying and adjusting mind can no longer make Life
simpler, more orderly and better adjusted, then all his power has
vanished, and he has ceased from counting in our midst, save, perhaps,
as a _decorator_ of our homes--that is to say, as an artisan; or as an
_entertainer_--that is to say, as a mere illustrator of our literary
men's work.

What is so important in the artist is, that disorder and confusion are
the loadstones that attract him.[33] Though, in stating this, I should ask
you to remember that he sees disorder and confusion where, very often,
the ordinary person imagines everything to be admirably arranged.
Still, the fact remains that he finds his greatest proof of power only
where his ordering and simplifying mind meets with something whereon it
may stamp its two strongest features: Order and Simplicity; and where
he is strong, relative disorder is his element, and the arrangement
of this disorder is his product.[34] Stimulated by disorder, which he
despises, he is driven to his work; spurred by the sight of anarchy,
his inspiration is government; fertilized by rudeness and ruggedness,
his will to power gives birth to culture and refinement. He gives of
himself--his business is to make things reflect him.

Thus, even his will to eternalize, and to stamp the nature of stability
on Becoming, must not be confounded with that other desire for Being
which is a desire for rest and repose and opiates,[35] and which has
found its strongest expression in the idea of the Christian Heaven.
It is, rather, a feeling of gratitude towards Life, a desire to show
thankfulness to Life, which makes him desire to rescue one beautiful
body from the river of Becoming, and fix its image for ever in this
world,[36] whereas the other is based upon a loathing of Life and a
weariness of it.

Defining _ugliness_ provisionally as disorder, it may have a great
attraction for the artist, it may even be the artist's sole attraction,
and in converting it--the thing he despises most--into _beauty_, which
we shall define provisionally as order, he reaches the zenith of his

"Where is beauty?" Zarathustra asks. "Where I must will with my whole
will; where I will love and perish, that an image may not remain merely
an image.[38]

"For to create desireth the loving one, because he despiseth."[39]

It follows from this, therefore, that the realistic
artist--the purveyor of Police Art--who goes direct to beauty or
ugliness and, after having worked upon either, leaves it just as it was
before,[40] shows no proof of power at all, and ranks with the bushmen
of Australia and the troglodytes of La Dordogne, as very much below
the hierophantic artist who transforms and transfigures. All realists,
therefore, from Apelles[41] in the fourth century B.C. to the modern
impressionists, portrait painters and landscapists, must step down.
Like the scientists, they merely ascertain facts, and, in so doing,
leave things precisely as they are.[42] Photography is rapidly outstripping
them, and will outstrip them altogether once it has mastered the
problem of colour. Photography could never have vied with the artist of
Egypt, or even of China and Japan; because in the arts of each of these
nations there is an element of human power over Nature or reality,
which no mechanical process can emulate.

Now, what is important in the ideal and purely hypothetical layman
is, that he has a horror of disorder, of confusion, and of chaos, and
flees from it whenever possible. He finds no solace anywhere, except
where the artist has been and left things transformed and richer for
him. Bewildered by reality, he extends his hands for that which the
artist has made of reality. He is a receiver. He reaches his zenith in
apprehending.[43] His attitude is that of a woman, as compared with the
attitude of the artist which is that of the man.

"Logical and geometrical simplification is the result of an increase
of power: conversely, the mere aspect of such simplification increases
the sense of power in the beholder."[44] To see what is ugliness to him,
represented as what is beauty to him, also impresses the spectator with
the feeling of power; of an obstacle overcome, and thereby stimulates
his activities. Moreover, the spectator may feel a certain gratitude
to Life and Mankind. It often happens, even in our days, that another
world is pictured as by no means a better world,[45] and the healthy
and optimistic layman may feel a certain thankfulness to Life and to
Humanity. It is then once more that he turns to the artist who has
felt the same in a greater degree, who can give him this thing--be it
a corner of Life or of Humanity--who can snatch it from the eternal
flux and torrent of all things into decay or into death, and who can
carve or paint it in a form unchanging for him, in spite of a world of
Becoming, of Evolution, and of ebb and flow. Just as the musician cries
Time! Time! Time! to the cacophonous medley of natural sounds that pour
into his ears from all sides, and assembles them rhythmically for our
ears hostile to disorder; so the graphic artist cries Time! Time! Time!
to the incessant and kaleidoscopic procession of things from birth to
death, and places in the layman's arms the eternalized image of that
portion of Life for which he happens to feel great gratitude.

[33] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 368.

[34] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 241.

[35] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 280.

[36] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 281.

[37] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 244.

[38] _Z._, II, XXXVII.

[39] _Z._, I. XVIII.

[40]_ T. I._, Part 10, Aph. "Nature, estimated artistically,
is no model. It exaggerates, it distorts, it leaves gaps.
Nature is accident. Studying 'according to nature' seems
to me a bad sign; it betrays subjection, weakness, fatalism;
this lying-in-the-dust before petit fails is unworthy of a
complete artist. Seeing what is--that belongs to another
species of intellects, to the anti-artistic, to the practical."

[41] See Woltmann and Woermann, _History of Painting_,
Vol. I, p. 62.

[42] _B. T._, p. 59. See also Schopenhauer, _Parerga und
Paralipomena_, Vol. II, p. 447.

[43] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 255.

[44] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 241.

[45] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 95: "A people that are proud of
themselves, and who are on the ascending path of Life,
always picture another existence as lower and less valuable
than theirs."

5. The Confusion of the Two Points of View.

It is obvious that if both pleasures are to remain pure and undefiled--
if the artist is to attain to his zenith in happiness, and the layman
to his also--their particular points of view must not be merged,
dulled, or blunted by excessive spiritual intercourse.[46] For a very large
amount of the disorder in the arts of the present can easily be traced
to a confusion of the two points of view.

In an ideal society, the artist's standpoint would be esoteric, and the
layman's exoteric.

Nowadays, of course, owing to the process of universal levelling which
has been carried so far that it is invading even the department of sex,
it is hard to find such distinctions as the artist's and the layman's
standpoint in art sharply and definitely juxtaposed. And this fact
accounts for a good deal of the decrease in æsthetic pleasure, which
is so characteristic of the age. In fact, it accounts for the decrease
of pleasure in general, for only where there are sharp differences can
there be any great pleasure. Pessimism and melancholia can arise only
in inartistic ages, when a process of levelling has merged all the joys
of particular standpoints into one.

Let me give you a simple example, drawn from modern life and the
pictorial arts, in order to show you to what extent the standpoint of
the people or of the layman has become corrupted by the standpoint of
the artist, and vice-versâ.

Strictly speaking, artists in search of scope for their powers should
prefer Hampstead Heath or the Forest of Fontainebleau[47] to the
carefully laid-out gardens of our parks and of Versailles. Conversely,
if their taste were still uncorrupted, the public ought to prefer the
carefully arranged gardens of our parks and of Versailles to Hampstead
Heath or the Forest of Fontainebleau.

Some of the public, of course, still do hold the proper views on these
points, but their number is rapidly diminishing, and most of them
assume the airs of artists now, and speak with sentimental enthusiasm
about the beautiful ruggedness of craggy rocks, the glorious beauty of
uncultivated Nature, and the splendour of wild scenery.[48]

[Illustration: The Marriage of Mary. By Raphael. (Brera, Milan.)]

Artists, on the other hand, having become infected by the public's
original standpoint--the desire for order--either paint pictures
like Raphael's "Marriage of Mary,"[49] his "Virgin and Child attended
by St. John the Baptist and St. Nicholas of Bari,"[50] and Perugino's
"Vision of St. Bernard,"[51] in which the perfectly symmetrical aspect and
position of the architecture is both annoying and inartistic, owing to
the fact that it was looked at by the artist from a point at which it
was orderly and arranged before he actually painted it, and could not
therefore testify to his power of simplifying or ordering--but simply
to his ability to avail himself of another artist's power, namely, the
architect's; or else, having become infected by the public's corrupt
standpoint--the desire for disorder and chaos as an end in itself--
they paint as Ruysdael, Hobbema and Constable painted--that is to
say, without imparting anything of themselves, or of their power to
order and simplify, to the content of the picture, lest the desire for
disorder or chaos should be thwarted.[52]

This is an exceedingly important point, and its value for art criticism
cannot be overrated. If one can trust one's taste, and it is still a
purely public taste, it is possible to tell at a glance why one cannot
get oneself to like certain pictures in which either initial regularity
has been too great, thus leaving no scope for the artist's power, or in
which final irregularity is too great, thus betraying no evidence of
the artist's power.

Looking at Rubens' "Ceres,"[53] in which the architecture is
viewed also in a frontal position, you may be tempted to ask why such
a picture is not displeasing, despite the original symmetry of the
architecture in the position in which the painter chose to paint it.
The reply is simple. Here Rubens certainly placed the architecture
full-face; but besides dissimulating the greater part of it in shadow--
which in itself produces unsymmetrical shapes that have subsequently to
be arranged by tone composition--lie carefully disordered it by means
of garlands and festoons, and only then did he exercise his artistic
mind in making a harmonious and orderly pictorial arrangement of it,
which also included some cupids skilfully placed.

All realism, or Police Art, therefore, in addition to being the outcome
of the will to truth which Christianity and its offshoot Modern Science
have infused into the arts, may also be the result of the artist's
becoming infected either with the public's pure taste, or with the
public's corrupted or artist-infected taste, and we are thus in
possession of one more clue as to what constitutes a superior work of
graphic art.

[46] _W. P._, Vol. II, pp. 255, 256.

[47] In regard to this point it is interesting to note that Kant, in
his _Kritik der Urteilskraft_, actually called landscape-painting a
process of gardening.

[48] I do not mean to imply here that all the sentimental gushing
that is given vent to nowadays over rugged and wild scenery is the
outcome only of a confusion of the artist's and layman's standpoints.
The influence of the Christian and Protestant worship of pointless
freedom, together with that of their contempt of the work of man, is
largely active here; and the sight of unhandseled and wild shrubs,
and of tangled and matted grasses, cheers the heart of the fanatical
believer in the purposeless freedom and anarchy which Christianity and
Protestantism have done so much to honour and extol. That the same man
who honours government and an aristocratic ideal may often be found
to-day dilating upon the charms of chaotic scenery, only shows how
muddle-headed and confused mankind has become.

[49] The Brera at Milan.

[50] The National Gallery, London. Raphael was very much infected with
the people's point of view, hence the annoying stiltedness of many of
his pictures.

[51] Pinakothek, Munich.

[52] See particularly, Ruysdael's "Rocky Landscape," "Landscape with a
Farm" (Wallace collection); Hobbema's "Outskirts of a Wood" and many
others in the Wallace collection; and Constable's "Flatford Mill" and
"The Haywain" (National Gallery).

[53] Hermitage Gallery, St. Petersburg.

6. The Meaning of Beauty of Form and of Beauty of Content in Art.

So far, then, I have arrived at this notion of beauty in Ruler-Art,
namely: that it may be regarded almost universally as that order,
simplicity and transfiguration which the artist mind imparts to the
content of his production. This notion seems to allow of almost
universal application, because, as I showed in the first part of
this lecture, it involves one of the primary instincts of man--the
overcoming of chaos and anarchy by adjustment, simplification and
transfiguration. It is only in democratic ages, or ages of decline,
when instincts become disintegrated, that beauty in Art is synonymous
with a lack of simplicity, of order and of transfiguration. I have
shown, however, that the second kind of beauty, or democratic beauty,
is of an inferior kind to that of the first beauty, or Ruler beauty,
because, while the former takes its root in the will to live, the
latter arises surely and truly out of the will to power.[54] Either
beauty, however, constitutes ugliness in its opponent's opinion.

But there is another aspect of Beauty in Art which has to be
considered, and that is the intrinsic beauty of the content of an
artistic production. You may say that, _ex hypothesi_, I have denied that
there could be any such beauty. Not at all!

Since the ruler-artist transfigures by enhancement, by embellishment
and by ennoblement, his mind can be stimulated perfectly well by an
object or a human being which to the layman is vertiginously beautiful,
and which to himself is exceedingly pleasing. In fact, if his mind
is a mind which, like that of most master-artists, adores that which
is difficult, it will go in search of the greatest natural beauty it
can find, in order, by a stupendous effort in transfiguration, to
outstrip even that; for the embellishment of the downright ugly and the
downright revolting presents a task too easy to the powerful artist--a
fact which explains a good deal of the ugly contents of many a modern

What, then, constitutes the beauty of the content in an artistic
production, as distinct from the beauty of the treatment? In other
words, what is beauty in a subject?

For the notion that the subject does not matter in a picture is one
which should be utterly and severely condemned. It arose at a time
when art was diseased, when artists themselves had ceased from having
anything of importance to say, when the subjects chosen had no meaning,
and when technique was bad. And it must be regarded more in the light
of a war-cry coming from a counter-movement, aiming at an improved
technique and rebelling against an abuse of literature in the graphic
arts, than in the light of sound doctrine, taking its foundation in
normal and healthy conditions.

The intrinsic beauty of the content or substance of a picture or
sculpture may therefore be the subject of legitimate inquiry, and in
determining what it consists of, we raise the whole question of content

Volumes, stacks of volumes, have been written on this question. The
most complicated and incomprehensible answers have been given to it,
and not one can be called satisfactory; for all of them would be

When, however, we find a modern writer defining the beautiful as
"that which has characteristic or individual expressiveness for sense
perception or imagination, subject to the conditions of general or
abstract expressiveness in the same medium,"[55] we feel, or at least
_I_ feel, that something must be wrong. It is definitions such as these
which compel one to seek for something more definite and more lucid
in the matter of explanation, and if, in finding the latter, one may
seem a little too prosaic and _terre-à-terre_, it is only because the
transcendental and metaphysical nature of the kind of definition we
have just quoted makes anything which is in the slightest degree
clearer, appear earthly and material beside it.

It is obvious that, if we could only arrive at a subject-beauty which
was absolute, practically all the difficulties of our task would
vanish. For having established the fact that the purpose of the
graphic arts is to determine the values beautiful and ugly, it would
only remain for us to urge all artists to advocate that absolute
subject-beauty with all the eloquence of line and colour that our
concept of Art-form would allow, and all the problems of Art would be

But we can postulate no such absolute in subject-beauty. "Absolute
beauty exists just as little as absolute goodness and truth."[56] The
term "beautiful," like the term "good," is only a means to an end. It
is simply the arbitrary self-affirmation of a certain type of man in
his struggle to prevail.[57] He says "Yea" to his type, and calls it
beautiful. He cannot extend his power and overcome other types unless
with complete confidence and assurance he says "Yea" to his own type.

You and I, therefore, can speak of the beautiful with an understanding
of what that term means, only on condition that our values, our
traditions, our desires, and our outlook are exactly the same. If you
agree with me on the question of what is good, our agreement simply
means this, that in that corner of the world from which you and I hail,
the same creator of values prevails over both of us. Likewise, if you
and I agree on the question of what is beautiful, this fact merely
denotes that as individuals coming from the same people, we have our
values, our tradition and our outlook in common.

"Beautiful," then, is a purely relative term which may be applied to a
host of dissimilar types and which every people must apply to its own
type alone, if it wishes to preserve its power. Biologically, absolute
beauty exists only within the confines of a particular race. That race
which would begin to consider another type than their own as beautiful,
would thereby cease from being a race. We may be kind, amiable, and
even hospitable to the Chinaman or the Negro; but the moment we begin
to share the Chinaman's or the Negro's view of beauty, we run the risk
of cutting ourselves adrift from our own people.

But assuming, as we must, that all people, the Chinese, the Negroes,
the Hindus, the Red Indians, and the Arabs between themselves apply
the word beautiful only to particular individuals among their own
people, in order to distinguish them from less beautiful or mediocre
individuals--what meaning has the term in that case?

Obviously, since the spirit of the people, its habits, prejudices
and prepossessions are determined by their values, and values may
fix a type, that creature will be most beautiful among them who is
the highest embodiment and outcome of all their values, and who
therefore corresponds most to the ideal their æsthetic legislator had
in mind when he created their values.[58] Thus even morality can
be justified æsthetically.[59] And in legislating for primeval peoples,
higher men and artist-legislators certainly worked like sculptors on a
yielding medium which was their own kind.

The most beautiful negro or Chinaman thus becomes that individual negro
or Chinaman who is rich in those features which the life-spirit of the
Ethiopian or Chinese people is calculated to produce, and who, owing to
a long and regular observance of the laws and traditions of his people,
by his ancestors for generations, has inherited that regularity of form
in his type, which all long observance of law and order is bound to
cultivate and to produce.[60] And in reviewing the peoples of Europe
alone, we can ascribe the many and different views which they have held
and still hold of beauty, only to a difference in the values they have
observed for generations in their outlook, their desires and their

It is quite certain, therefore, that, in the graphic arts, which either
determine or accentuate the values "ugly" and "beautiful," every artist
who sets up his notion of what is subject-beauty, like every lover
about to marry, either assails or confirms and consolidates the values
of his people.[61]

Examples of this, if they were needed, are to be found everywhere. See
how the Gothic school of painting, together with men like Fra Angelico,
Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, El Greco, and subsequently Burne-Jones,
set up the soulful person, the person of tenuous, nervous and
heaven-aspiring slenderness, as the type of beauty, thus advocating and
establishing Christian values in a very seductive and often artistic
manner; while the Pagans, with Michelangelo, Titian, and even Rubens,
represented another code of values--perhaps even several other codes--
and sought to fix their type also.

Note, too, how hopeless are the attempts of artists who stand for the
Pagan ideal, when they paint Christian saints and martyrs, and how
singularly un-Pagan those figures are which appear in the pictures of
the advocates of the Christian ideal when they attempt Pagan types.
Christ by Rubens is not the emaciated, tenuous Person suffering from
a wasting disease that Segna represents him to be; while the Mars and
Venus of Botticelli in the National Gallery would have been repudiated
with indignation by any Greek of antiquity.

When values are beginning to get mixed, then, owing to an influx of
foreigners from all parts of the world, we shall find the strong
biological idea of absolute beauty tending to disappear, and in its
place we shall find the weak and wholly philosophical belief arising
that beauty is relative. Thus, in Attica of the fifth century B.C.,
when 300,000 slaves, chiefly foreigners, were to be counted among the
inhabitants, the idea that beauty was a relative term first occurred to
the "talker" Socrates.

Still, in all concepts of beauty, however widely separated and however
diametrically opposed, there is this common factor: that the beautiful
person is the outcome of a long observance through generations of
the values peculiar to a people. A certain regularity of form and
feature, whether this form and feature be Arab, Ethiopian or Jewish,
is indicative of a certain regular mode of life which has lasted for
generations; and in calling this indication beautiful, a people once
more affirms itself and its values. If the creature manifesting this
regularity be a Chinaman, he will be the most essential Chinaman that
the Chinese values can produce; his face will reveal no fighting and
discordant values; there will be no violent contrasts of type in
his features, and, relative to Chinese values, his face will be the
most regular and harmonious that can be seen, and therefore the most
beautiful.[62] The Chinese ruler-artist, in representing a mediocre
Chinaman, would therefore exercise his transfiguring powers to overcome
any discordant features in the face before him, and would thus produce
a beautiful type.[63] Or, if his model happened to be the highest
product of Chinese values, his object would be to transcend even that,
and to point to something higher.

Once again, therefore, though it is impossible to posit a universal
concept of subject-beauty, various concepts may be given an order of
rank, subject to the values with which they happen to be associated.

[54] If this book be read in conjunction with my monograph on
_Nietzsche: his Life and Works_ (Constable), or my _Who is to be
Master of the World?_ (Foulis), there ought to be no difficulty in
understanding this point.

[55] B. Bosanquet, _A History of Æsthetic_, p. 4.

[56] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 246. See also _T. I._, Part 10, Aph. 19: "The
'beautiful in itself' is merely an expression, not even a concept."

[57] _T. I._, Part 10, Apr. 19: "In the beautiful, man posits himself
as the standard of perfection; in select cases he worships himself in
that standard. A species _cannot_ possibly do otherwise than thus say
yea to itself."

[58] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 361: "Legislative moralities are the
principal means by which one can form mankind, according to the fancy
of a creative and profound will: provided, of course, that such an
artistic will of the first order gets the power into its own hands,
and can make its creative will prevail over long periods in the form
of legislation, religions, and morals." See p. 79 in the first part of
this lecture.

[59] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 185.

[60] _G. E._, p. 107: "The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is,
apparently, that there should be long obedience in the same direction;
there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run,
something which has made life worth living; for instance, virtue,
art, music, dancing, reason, spirituality--anything whatever that is
transfiguring, refined, foolish, or divine."

[61] _T. I._, Part 10, Aph. 24.

[62] _T. I._, Part 10, Aph. 47: "Even the beauty of a race or family,
the pleasantness and kindness of their whole demeanour, is acquired by
effort; like genius, it is the final result of the accumulated labour
of generations. There must have been great sacrifices made to good
taste; for the sake of it, much must have been done, and much refrained
from--the seventeenth century in France is worthy of admiration in
both ways; good taste must then have been a principle of selection, for
society, place, dress, and sexual gratification, beauty must have been
preferred to advantage, habit, opinion, indolence. Supreme rule:--we
must not 'let ourselves go,' even when only in our own presence.--Good
things are costly beyond measure, and the rule always holds, that he
who possesses them is other than he who acquires them. All excellence
is inheritance; what has not been inherited is imperfect, it is a

[63] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 245: "'Beauty,' therefore, is, to the artist,
something which is above order of rank, because in beauty contrasts
are overcome, the highest sign of power thus manifesting itself in the
conquest of opposites; and achieved without a feeling of tension." See
also Hegel, _Vorlesungen über Æsthetik_, Vol. I, pp. 130, 144.

7. The Meaning of Ugliness of Form and of Ugliness of Content in Art.

Ugliness in Art, therefore, is Art's contradiction.[67] It is the absence
of Art. It is a sign that the simplifying, ordering and transfiguring
power of the artist has not been successful, and that chaos, disorder
and complexity have not been overcome.

Ugliness of form in Art, therefore, will tend to become prevalent
in democratic times; because it is precisely at such times that a
general truth for all is believed in, and, since reality is the only
truth which can be made common to all, democratic art is invariably
realistic, and therefore, according to my definition of the beautiful
in form, ugly.

In this matter, I do not ask you to take my views on trust. A person
who will seem to you very much more authoritative than myself--a man
who once had the honour of influencing Whistler, and who, by the bye,
is also famous for having flung down the Colonne Vendôme in Paris--
once expressed himself quite categorically on this matter.

At the Congress of Antwerp in 1861, after he had criticized other
artists and other concepts of art, this man concluded his speech as
follows: "By denying the ideal and all that it involves, I attain to
the complete emancipation of the individual, and finally to democracy.
Realism is essentially democratic."[68]

As you all must know, this man was Gustave Courbet, of whom Muther said
that he had a predilection for the ugly.[69]

Artists infected with the pure or the corrupt layman's view of Art,
as described in the previous section, and artists obsessed by the
Christian or scientific notion of truth, will consequently produce ugly
work. They will be realists, or Police-artists, and consequently ugly.

But how can content- or subject-ugliness be understood? Content- or
subject-ugliness is the decadence of a type.[70] It is the sign
that certain features, belonging to other peoples (hitherto called ugly
according to the absolute biological standard of beauty of a race),
are beginning to be introduced into their type. Or it may mean that
the subject to be represented does not reveal that harmony and lack
of contrasts which the values of a people are capable of producing.
In each case it provokes hatred, and this "hatred is inspired by the
most profound instinct of the species; there is horror, foresight,
profundity, and far-reaching vision in it--it is the profoundest of
all hatreds. On account of it art is _profound_."[71]

The hatred amounts to a condemnation of usurping values, or of
discordant values; in fact, to a condemnation of dissolution and
anarchy, and the judgment "ugly" is of the most serious import.

Thus, although few of us can agree to-day as to what constitutes a
beautiful man or woman, there is still a general idea common to us all,
that a certain regularity of features constitutes beauty, and that,
with this beauty, a certain reliable, harmonious, and calculable nature
will be present. Spencer said the wisest thing in all his philosophy
when he declared that "the saying that beauty is but skin deep, is but
a skin-deep saying."[72]

For beauty in any human creature, being the result of a long and
severe observance by his ancestors of a particular set of values,
always denotes some definite attitude towards Life; it always lures to
some particular kind of life and joy--as Stendhal said, "Beauty is
a promise of happiness"--and as such it seduces to Life and to this

This explains why beauty is regarded with suspicion by negative
religions, and why it tends to decline in places where the sway
of a negative religion is powerful. Because a negative religion
cannot tolerate that which lures to life, to the body, to joy and to
voluptuous ecstasy.

It is upon their notion of spiritual beauty, upon passive virtues, that
the negative religions lay such stress, and thus they allow the ugly to
find pedestals in their sanctuaries more easily than the beautiful.

[67] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 252.

[68] A. Estignard, _Gustave Courbet_ (Paris, 1896), p. 118.

[69] _Geschichte der Malerei_, Vol. III, p. 204.

[70] _W. P._, Vol. II, pp. 241, 242, 245. See also T. I., Part 10, Aph.
20: "The ugly is understood as a sign and symptom of degeneration; that
which reminds us in the remotest manner of degeneracy prompts us to
pronounce the verdict 'ugly.' Every indication of exhaustion, gravity,
age or lassitude; every kind of constraint, such as cramp or paralysis;
and above all the odour, the colour, and the likeness of decomposition
or putrefaction, be it utterly attenuated even to a symbol:--all these
things call forth a similar reaction, the evaluation 'ugly.' A hatred
is there excited: whom does man hate there? There can be no doubt: _the
decline of his type_."

[71] _T. I._, Part 10, Aph. 20.

[72] _Essays_, Vol. II (1901 Edition), p. 394.

8. The Ruler-Artist's Style and Subject.

Up to the present, you have doubtless observed that I have spoken only
of man as the proper subject-matter of the graphic Arts. In maintaining
this, Nietzsche not only has Goethe and many lesser men on his side,
but he has also the history of Art in general. I cannot, however, show
you yet how, or in what manner, animal-painting, landscape-painting,
and, in some respects, portrait-painting are to be placed lower than
the art which concerns itself with man. Let it therefore suffice, for
the present, simply to recognize the fact that Nietzsche did take up
this attitude, and leave the more exhaustive discussion of it to the
next part of this lecture.

Now, eliminating for a moment all those pseudo-artists who have been
reared by the two strongest public demands on the Art of the present
age--I speak of portrait-painting and dining-room pictures--there
remains a class of artists which still shows signs of raising its head
here and there, though every year with less frequency, and this is the
class which, for want of a better term, we call Ruler-artists.

As I say, they are becoming extremely rare; their rarity, which may be
easily accounted for,[73] is one of the evil omens of the time.

The ruler-artist is he who, elated by his own health and love of Life,
says "Yea" to his own type and proclaims his faith or confidence in
it, against all other types; and who, in so doing, determines or
accentuates the values of that type. If he prevails in concepts in so
doing, he also ennobles and embellishes the type he is advocating.

He is either the maker or the highest product of an aspiring and an
ascending people. In him their highest values find their most splendid
bloom. In him their highest values find their strongest spokesman. And
in his work they find the symbol of their loftiest hopes.

By the beauty which his soul reflects upon the selected men he
represents in his works, he establishes an order of rank among his
people, and puts each in his place.

The spectator who is very much beneath the beauty of the ruler-artist's
masterpieces feels his ignominious position at a glance. He realizes
the impassable gulf that is for ever fixed between himself and that!
And this sudden revelation tells him his level. Such a man, after
he has contemplated the ruler-artist's work, may rush headlong to the
nearest river and drown himself. His despair may be so great when he
realizes the impossibility of ever reaching the heights he has been
contemplating, that he may immolate himself on the spot. Only thus can
the world be purged of the many-too-many.

"Unto many life is a failure," says Zarathustra, "a poisonous worm
eating through into their heart. These ought to see to it that they
succeed better in dying.

"Many-too-many live.... Would that preachers of swift death might
arise! They would be the proper storms to shake the trees of life."[74]

In the presence of beauty, alone, can one know one's true rank, and
this explains why the Japanese declare that "until a man has made
himself beautiful he has no right to approach beauty,"[75] for "great art
is that before which we long to die."[76]

But, to those who see but the smallest chance of approaching it, beauty
is an exhortation, a stimulus, a bugle-call. It may drive them to means
for pruning themselves of ugliness; it may urge them to inner harmony,
to a suppression of intestinal discord.

"Beauty alone should preach penitence,"[77] says Zarathustra. And in this
sentence you have the only utilitarian view of beauty that has any
aristocratic value, besides that which maintains that beauty lures to
Life, and to the body.

Hence, beauty need not impel all men to the river. There are some who,
after contemplating it, will feel just near enough to it not to despair
altogether of attaining to its level, and this thought will lend them
both hope and courage.

The ruler-artist, therefore, in order that his subject-beauty may have
some meaning, must be the synthesis of the past and the future of a
people. Up to his waist in their spirit, he must mould or paint them
the apotheosis of their type. Only thus can he hope to prevail with his

The German philosopher, Karl Heinrich Heydenreich, was one of the first
to recognize this power of the ruler-artist, and the necessity of his
being intimately associated with a particular people, although above
them; and in his little book, _System der Æsthetik_, he makes some very
illuminating remarks on this matter.[78]

Thus Benedetto Croce rightly argues that in order to _appreciate_ the
artistic works of bygone and extinct nations, it is necessary to have
a knowledge and understanding of their life and history--in other
words, of their values.[79] What he does not point out, however, and
what seems very important, is, that such historical research would be
quite unnecessary to one who by nature was _a priori_ in sympathy with
the values of an extinct nation; and also, that all the historical
knowledge available could not make any one whose character was not
a little Periclean or Egyptian from the start, admire, or even
appreciate, either the Parthenon, or the brilliant diorite statue of
King Khephrën in the Cairo Museum.

All great ruler-art, then, is, as it were, a song of praise, a
magnificat, appealing only to those, and pleasing only those, who feel
in sympathy with the values which it advocates. And that is why all art
of any importance, and of any worth, must be based upon a certain group
of values--in other words, must have a philosophy or a particular view
of the world as its foundation. Otherwise it is pointless, meaningless,
and divorced from life. Otherwise it is acting, sentimental nonsense,
or _l'art pour l'art_.

All great ruler-art also takes Man as its content; because human values
are the only values that concern it. All great ruler-art also takes
beauty within a certain people as its aim; because the will-to-power is
its driving instinct, and beauty, being the most difficulty thing to
achieve, is the strongest test of power. Finally, all great ruler-art
is optimistic; because it implies the will of the artist to prevail.

But what constitutes the form of the ruler-artist's work? In what way
must he give us his content?

The ruler-artist's form is the form of the commander. It must scorn
to please.[80] It must brook no disobedience and no insubordination,
save among those of its beholders about whom it does not care, from
whom it would fain separate itself, and among whom it is not with its
peers. It must be authoritative, extremely simple, irrefutable, full
of restraint, and as repetitive as a Mohammedan prayer. It must point
to essentials, it must select essentials, and it must transfigure
essentials. The presence of non-essentials in a work of art is
sufficient to put it at once upon a very low plane. For what matters
above all is that the ruler-artist should prevail in concepts, and in
order to do this his work must contain the definite statement of the
value he sets upon all that he most cherishes.

Hence the belief all through the history of æsthetic that high art is
a certain unity in variety, a certain single idea exhaled from a more
or less complex whole, or, as the Japanese say, "repetition with a
modicum of variation."[81]

_Symmetry_, as denoting balance, and as a help to obtaining a complete
grasp of an idea; _Sobriety_, as revealing that restraint which a
position of command presupposes; _Simplicity_, as proving the power
of the great mind that has overcome the chaos in itself,[82] to reflect
its order and harmony upon other things,[83] and to select the
most essential features from among a host of more or less essential
features; _Transfiguration_, as betraying that Dionysian elation and
elevation from which the artist gives of himself to reality and makes
it reflect his own glory back upon him; _Repetition_, as a means of
obtaining obedience; and _Variety_, as the indispensable condition of all
living Art--all Art which is hortatory and which does not aim at repose
alone, at sleep, and at soothing and lulling jaded and exasperated
nerves,--these are the principal qualities of ruler-art, and any work
which would be deficient in one of these qualities would thereby be
utterly and deservedly condemned to take its place on a lower plane.

Perhaps the greatest test of all, however, in regard to the worth of an
artistic production is to inquire whence it came, what was its source.
Has hunger or superabundance created it?[84]

If the first, the work will make nobody richer. It will rather rob
them of what they have. It is likely to be either (A) true to Nature,
(B) uglier than Nature, or (C) absurdly unnatural. A is the product of
the ordinary man, B is the product of the man below mediocrity, save
in a certain manual dexterity, and C is the outcome of the tyrannical
will of the sufferer,[85] who wishes to wreak his revenge on all that
thrives, and is beautiful and happy, and which bids him weave fantastic
worlds of his own, away from this one, where people of his calibre can
forget their wretched ailments and evil humours, and wallow in their
own feverish nightmares of overstrained, palpitating and neuropathic
yearnings. A is poverty-realism or Police Art. B is pessimism and
incompetent Art. C is Romanticism.

Where superabundance is active, the work is the gift and the blessing
of the will to power of some higher man. It will seem as much above
Nature to mediocre people as its creator is above them. But, since it
will brook no contradiction, it will actually value Nature afresh, and
stimulate them to share in this new valuation.

Where poverty is active, the work is an act of robbery. It is what
psychologists call a reflex action resulting from a stimulus--the
only kind of action that we understand nowadays: hence our belief in
Determinism, Darwinism, and such explanations of Art as we find in
books by Taine and other writers who share his views.

The Art which must have experience and which is not the outcome of
inner riches brought to the surface by meditation--this is the art of
poverty. The general modern belief in experience and in the necessity
of furnishing the mind by going direct to Nature and to reality shows
to what extent the Art of to-day has become reactive instead of active.

The greater part of modern realism is the outcome of this poverty. It
is reactive art, resulting from reflex actions; and, as such, is an
exceedingly unhealthy sign. Not only does it show that the power of
resisting stimuli is waning or altogether absent; but it also denotes
that that inner power which requires no stimulus to discharge itself is
either lacking or exceedingly weak.

With these words upon the subject of realism, I shall now conclude this
part of Lecture II.

I shall return to realism in my next lecture; but you will see that
it will be of a different kind from that of which I have just spoken.
It will be superior, and will be the outcome of riches rather than
of poverty. Although beneath genuine Ruler-art, which transfigures
reality, it will nevertheless be superior to the poverty-realism
which I have just discussed; for it will be of a kind which is forced
upon the powerful artist who, in the midst of a world upholding other
values than his own, is obliged to bring forward his ideal with such
a preponderance of characteristic features as would seem almost to
represent a transcript of reality. This realism I call _militant
realism_, to distinguish it from the former kind.

In discussing mediæval. Renaissance and Greek Art, in my next lecture,
this distinction will, I hope, be made quite plain to you.

[73] _G. E._, p. 120

[74] _Z._, I, XXI.

[75] _The Book of Tea_, p. 152.

[76] _Ibid._ 199.

[77] _Z._, I, XXVI.

[78] _System der Æsthetik_ (1790), pp. 9, 10, 11, where,
in replying to the question why the arts were not only pursued with
more perfection by the ancients, but also judged with more competence
by them, he says: "Their material was drawn from the heart of their
nation, and from the life of their citizens, and the manner of
representing it and of framing it was in keeping with the character
and needs of the people.... If the Greek lent his ear to the poet, or
his eye to the painter and sculptor, of his age, he was shown subjects
which were familiar to his soul, intimately related to his imagination,
and, as it were, bound by blood-relationship to his heart." On pp. 12,
13, he also shows that if Art is less thrilling nowadays, it is because
peoples are too mixed, and a single purpose no longer characterizes
their striving.

[79] _Æsthetic_ (translated by Douglas Ainslie), p. 210 et seq.

[80] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 277: "The greatness of an artist is
not to be measured by the beautiful feelings which he evokes: let this
belief be left to the girls. It should be measured according to the
extent to which he approaches the grand style, according to the extent
to which he is capable of the grand style. This style and great passion
have this in common--that they scorn to please; that they forget to
persuade; that they command; that they will...." See also p. 241.

[81] This was first brought to my notice by my friend, Dr.
Wrench. See _The Grammar of Life_, by G. T. Wrench (Heinemann, 1908),
p. 218. Although the development of this idea really belongs to a
special treatise on the laws of Style in painting, it is interesting
to note here that this excellent principle is quickly grasped if the
powerfully alliterative phrases: "Where there's a will there's a way,"
or "Goodness gracious!" or "To-morrow, to-morrow, and not to-day," be
spoken before certain pictures, or written beneath them. The first
phrase, for instance, written beneath the "Aldobrindini Marriage," or
Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," is seen immediately to be next of kin to
these pictures as an art-form; and the same holds good of the second
written beneath Reynolds's "John Dunning (First Lord Ashburton) and his
Sister," or Manet's "Olympia."

[82] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 277.

[83] _W. P._, Vol. II. p. 288. "The most convincing artists
are those who make harmony ring out of every discord, and who benefit
all things by the gift of their power and their inner harmony: in
every work of art they merely reveal the symbol of their inmost
experiences--their creation is gratitude for their life." See also p.

[84] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 280: "In regard to all æsthetic
values I now avail myself of this fundamental distinction: in every
individual case I ask myself has hunger or has superabundance been
creative here?"

[85] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 281.

Part III


    "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for
    the service of man: that he may bring forth fruit out of the
    earth."--Psalms civ. 14.

1. The Value "Ugly" in the Mouth of the Creator.

In the last section of this lecture, I told you of three kinds of
ugliness. I said there was the ugliness of chaos and disorder, which
provokes the hate of the layman, and which the artist overcomes. I
spoke of the ugliness of form in Art, which appeared when the artist
had failed in his endeavour to master disorder, or when he had selected
a subject already ordered, in which he has left himself no scope
for manifesting his power; and I also pointed to that ugliness of
subject in Art, in which the ordinary beholder, as well as the artist,
recognizes the degeneration of his type or a low example of it.

There is, however, a fourth aspect of ugliness, and that is the
esoteric postulation of the value "ugly" by the creator. I have shown
how creating also involves giving, and therefore loss--just as
procreation does; but what is the precise meaning of the word "ugly" in
the mouth of the Dionysian artist?

We must remember that his eyes are not our eyes, and that his mind is
not our mind. He cannot look at Life without enriching her. But what is
his attitude to the transfigurations of former artists?

Before these the Dionysian artist can feel only loathing, and, in
a paroxysm of hatred, he raises his axe and shatters the past into
fragments. All around him, a moment before, people said: "The world
is beautiful!" But he, thoroughly alone, groans at its unspeakable

He rejoices as he sees the fragments fly beneath his mighty weapon,
and the greater the beauty of the thing he destroys, the higher is his
exultation. For, to him, "the joy in the destruction of the most noble
thing and at the sight of its gradual undoing," is "the joy over what
is coming and what lies in the future," and this "triumphs over actual
things, however good they may be."[1]

What he calls "ugly," then, has nothing whatsoever in common with any
other concept of ugliness; it is simply the outcome of his creative
spirit "which compels him to regard what has existed hitherto as no
longer acceptable, but as botched, worthy of being suppressed--ugly!"[2]
And thus it is peculiar to him alone.

I have shown you that Nietzsche explains pleasure, æsthetically, as
the appropriation of the world by man's Will to Power. Pain, or evil,
now obtains its æsthetic justification. It is the outcome of the
destruction that the creator spreads in a world of Becoming; it is the
periodical smashing of Being by the Dionysian creator who can endure
Becoming. No creator can tolerate the past save as a thing which once
served as his schooling. But a people are usually one with their past.
To them it is at once a grandfather, a father, and an elder brother.
In a trice the creator deprives them of these relatives. Through him
they are made orphans, brotherless and alone. Hence the pain that is
inevitably associated with the joy of destruction and of creation.

Not only a creative genius, however, but also a creative age, may use
the word ugly in this Dionysian sense. For a robust and rich people
scorn to treasure and to hoard that which has gone before. And thus our
museums, alone, are perhaps the greatest betrayal of our times.

When the Athenians returned to their ruined Acropolis in the first
half of the fifth century before Christ, they did not even scratch
the ground to recover the masterpieces that lay broken, though not
completely destroyed, all around them. And, as Professor Gardner
observes, it is fortunate for us that no mortar was required for the
buildings which were being erected to take the place of those that
had been destroyed; otherwise these fragments of marble sculpture
and architecture, instead of being buried to help in filling up the
terraced area of the Acropolis, would certainly have gone to the

The men of the Renaissance, in the same way, regarded the buildings of
ancient Rome merely as so many quarries whence they might bear away
the materials for their own constructions. And whether Paul II wished
to build the Palazzo di Venezia, or Cardinal Riario the Cancellaria,
the same principle obtained. At the same period we also find Raphael
destroying the work of earlier painters by covering it with his own
compositions,[4] and Michelangelo not hesitating to obliterate
even Perugino's altar frescoes in the Sixtine Chapel in order to paint
his "Judgment." While in comparatively recent times, at a moment
when a great future seemed to be promised to modern Egypt, Mehemet
Ali sent his architect to the sacred Pyramids of Gizeh, to rob them
of the alabaster which he required for his magnificent mosque on the
citadel of Cairo.[5]

From a purely archæological and scholastic point of view, therefore,
it is possible to justify our museums--the British Museum, for
instance. But from the creative or artistic standpoint, they are simply
a confession of impotence, of poverty, and of fear; and, as such, are
utterly contemptible. In any case, however, I think that, for the
sake of public taste and sanity, some of the ugly fragments--such as
two-thirds of the maimed and mutilated parts of bodies from the Eastern
and Western pediments of the Parthenon--ought never to have been
allowed to stand outside a students' room in a school of archæology or
of art, and even in such institutions as these, I very much question
the value of the pieces to which I have referred.

[1] _W. P._, Vol I, p. 333. See also _B. T._, pp. 27, 28.

[2] _W. P._, Vol. I, p. 333.

[3] _A Handbook of Greek Sculpture_, by E. A. Gardner, M.A., p. 212.

[4] Piero della Francesca's decorations in the Vatican, painted under
the direction of Pope Nicholas V, were ultimately destroyed by Raphael.
See W. S. Waters, M.A., _Piero della Francesca_, pp. 23, 24, 108.

[5] See also Fergusson, _A History of Architecture_, Vol. I, p. 48:
"... If we had made the same progress in the higher that we have in the
lower branches of the building art, we should see a Gothic Cathedral
pulled down with the same indifference, content to know that we could
easily replace it by one far nobler and more worthy of our age and
intelligence. No architect during the Middle Ages ever hesitated to
pull down any part of a cathedral that was old and going to decay;
and to replace it with something in the style of the day, however
incongruous that might be; and if we were progressing as they were, we
should have as little compunction in following the same course."

2. Landscape Painting.

Up to the present, I have spoken only of Man as the proper subject
of Ruler-Art. I have done this because Man is the highest subject of
Art in general, and because the moment humanity ceases from holding
the first place in our interest, something must be amiss, either with
humanity, or with ourselves.

Still, there are degrees and grades among ruler-artists. All of them
cannot aspire to the exposition of the highest human values. And just
as some turn to design and to ornament, and thus, in a small way,
arrange and introduce order into a small area of the world, so others
--standing halfway between these designers and the valuers of humanity
--apply their powers quite instinctively to Nature away from Man. They
have a thought to express--let us say it is: "Order is the highest
good," or "Power is the source of all pleasure and beauty," or "Anarchy
contends in vain against the governing power of light which is genius,"
and in the case of this last thought they paint a rugged scene which
they reveal as arranged, simplified and transfigured by the power of
the sun. In each of these cases they use Nature merely as a symbol, or
a vehicle, by means of which their thought or valuation is borne in
upon their fellows; and they do not start out as actual admirers of
mere scenery, wishing only to repeat it as carefully as possible.

Even when it uses Nature merely as a symbol or a vehicle, however,
there can be little doubt that this kind of Ruler-Art is a degree lower
in rank than the art which concerns itself with man; and when this
kind of art becomes realistic, as it did with Constable and all his
followers, it is literally superfluous. Only when the landscape is a
minor element, serving but to receive and convey the mood or aspiration
of the artist, is it a subject for Ruler-Art, and then the hand of
man should be visible in it everywhere. With the artist's arranging,
simplifying and transfiguring power observable in Nature, landscape
painting, as Kant very wisely observed in his _Kritik der Urteilskraft_,
becomes a process of pictorial gardening, and as such can teach very
great lessons.

Still, all landscapes ought to be approached with caution by the lover
of Ruler-Art; for unless they are treated with an extreme ruler-spirit,
they point too imperatively away from man, to promise a development
that can be wholesomely human.

When it is remembered that landscape painting only became a really
important and serious branch of art when all the turmoil and
contradiction which three successive changes of values had brought
about were at their height--I refer to the blow levelled at Mediæval
values by the Renaissance, to 'the blow levelled at the Renaissance
by the Counter-Renaissance and Protestantism (in its German form of
Evangelism and in its English form as Puritanism), and to the blow
levelled at the artistic spirit of Europe in general by the rise of
modern science in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries--and when,
therefore, doubt and confusion had already entered men's minds as to
what was to be believed about Man and Life; when it is remembered also
that it was precisely in the north, where, as we shall see, culture was
less a matter of tradition than in the south, that landscape found its
most energetic and most realistic exponents--from Joachim Patenier[6]
to Ruysdael; and that it was in the north, even after the
Renaissance, that the negative character of Christianity, in regard to
humanity and to Life, found its strongest adherents; the importance of
establishing a very severe canon in regard to all landscape painting,
and of insisting upon very high ruler qualities in this branch of the
art, ought to be clear to all who take this subject to heart.

For, difficult as it may seem to realize it, there is nothing
whatsoever artistically beautiful in landscape.[7] Only sentimental[8]
townspeople, compelled by their particular mode of existence
to gaze daily on their own hideous homes and streets, ever manifest
a senselessly ardent and determined affection for green fields and
hills, for their own sake; and with English psychologists, it would be
quite admissible here to say that all beauty that particular people
believe to exist in country scenery, is the outcome of association. The
ancients liked the sunlit and fruitful valley because of its promise of
sustenance and wealth; but they showed no love of nature as such.[9]

Mr. S. H. Butcher,[10] for instance, points out how landscape painting
only became a serious and independent branch of art among the Greeks
after the fourth century B.C.--that is to say, long over a century
after the date when, according to Freeman, the decline of Hellas
began; and, in speaking of the Greeks in their best period, he says:
"They do not attach themselves to nature with that depth of feeling,
with that gentle melancholy, that characterizes the moderns....
Their impatient imagination only traverses nature to pass beyond it to
the drama of human life." J. A. Symonds tells us that "Conciseness,
simplicity and an almost prosaic accuracy are the never-failing
attributes of classical descriptive art--moreover, humanity was always
more present to their minds than to ours. Nothing evoked sympathy
from the Greek unless it appeared before him in human shape, or in
connection with some human sentiment. The ancient poets do not describe
inanimate nature as such, or attribute a vague spirituality to fields
and clouds. That feeling for the beauty of the world which is embodied
in such poems as Shelley's _Ode to the West Wind_ gave birth in their
imagination to definite legends, involving some dramatic interest and
conflict of passions."[11] And Mahaffy and Mr. W. R. Hardie tell the same

But even among sensible moderns, uninfected by sentimental fever, the
love of nature is mostly of a purely utilitarian kind, as witness the
love of cornfields, hayfields and orchards. The farmer at certain times
gazes kindly at the purple hills behind his acres of cultivated land,
because their colour indicates the coming rain. The cattle-breeder
smiles as he surveys the Romney marshes, and thinks of the splendid
pastureland they would make.

In fact, the attitude of sensible mankind in general towards landscape,
as landscape, seems to have been pretty well summarized by the writer
of the 104th Psalm, from whom, according to W. H. Rhiel, the Christian
world, and especially the Teutonic part of it, seems to have derived
much of their love of the beauties of Nature.[13]

What constitutes the artistic beauty in a painted landscape, then, is
the mood, the particular human quality, that the artist throws into
it. As the French painters say, a landscape is a state of the soul;
and unless the particular mood or idea with which the artist invests
a natural scene have some value and interest, and be painted in a
commanding or ruler manner, it is a mere piece of superfluous foolery,
which may, however, find its proper place on a great railway poster or
in an estate agent's illustrated catalogue.

There is, on the other hand, another kind of love of nature, which
dates only from the eighteenth century, and which is thoroughly and
unquestionably contemptible. This also, like the above, is the result
of association, and has nothing artistic in its constitution; but this
time it is an association which is misanthropic and negative. I refer
to what is generally known as the love of the Romantic in Nature, the
love of mountains, torrents, unhandseled copses, virgin woods, and
rough and uncultivated country.

In this love a new element enters the appreciation of Nature, and
that is a dislike and mistrust of everything that bears the stamp of
man's power or his labour, and therefore an exaltation of everything
untutored, uncultured, free, unconstrained and wild.

This attitude of mind seems to have been unknown not only to the Greeks
and to the Romans,[14] but, practically, to all European nations up
to the time of Rousseau. As Friedländer says, it would be difficult
to find evidence of travellers going to mountain country in quest of
beauty, before the eighteenth century,[15] and the majority of those who
were forced to visit such country, before that time, in their Journeys
to foreign cities, describe it as horrible, ugly and depressing. Oliver
Goldsmith is a case in point. Riehl declares that in guidebooks, even
as late as 1750, Berlin, Leipzig, Augsburg, Darmstadt, Mannheim, etc.,
are spoken of as lying in nice and cheerful surroundings, whilst the
most picturesque parts (according to modern notions) of the Black
Forest, of the Harz, and the Thuringian woods are described as "very
gloomy," "barren," and "monstrous," or at least as not particularly
pleasant. And then he adds: "This is not the private opinion of the
individual topographists: it is the standpoint of the age."[16]

Even in the Bible illustrations of the eighteenth century, we also find
the same spirit prevailing. Paradise--that is to say, the original
picture of virgin glory in natural beauty--is made to look like what
moderns would call a monotonously flat garden, devoid of any indication
of a hill, in which the Almighty, or Adam, or somebody, has already
clipped all the trees and hedges, and carefully trimmed the grass.

You may argue with Riehl[17] that mediæval painters must have thought
rough, wild and barren country beautiful; otherwise, why did they put
it in their pictures? One low-German painter of the Middle Ages, for
instance, painted a picture of Cologne, and, contrary to the genuine
nature of the surrounding country, introduced a background of jagged
and rocky mountains. Why did he do this, if he did not think jagged and
rocky mountains beautiful?

In reply to this I cannot do better than quote Friedländer again, who
on this very question writes as follows--

"At least the lack of a sense for the beauty of mountain scenery, which
is noticeable in the poetry and travels of the Middle Ages, viewed as
a whole, ought to lead us to suspect that this same sense could have
been only very slightly apparent in the realm of pictorial art. But
ought we not to ascribe the fantastic and romantic art ideal of the old
masters, in landscape, rather to their endeavour to transfer the scene
and figures of their pictures from reality to an imaginary world?...
Even if historical painters like John van Eyck and Memling eagerly
introduced jagged rocks and sharp mountain (which apparently they had
never seen) into their backgrounds ... it is difficult to recognize
any real understanding or even knowledge of the nature of mountains in
all this; but simply an old and therefore very conventional form of
heroic landscape which was considered as the only suitable one for a
large number of subjects."[18]

But there is other evidence, besides that to be found in mediæval
poetry and travels, which shows to what extent the particular sense
for natural beauty, which I am now discussing, was lacking in the
Middle Ages. Its absence is also illustrated by the arrangement of
castles and other buildings. Mr. d'Auvergne, in his work _The English
Castles_, more than once calls attention to this, and instances a tower
at Dunstanburgh Castle,[19] which, though commanding a wildly romantic
prospect, was selected for the vilest domestic uses.

Suddenly, all this is contradicted and reversed. Precisely where man's
hand has been, everything is supposed to be polluted, unclean, and
ugly; and rough, uncultivated nature, however rugged, however unkempt,
is exalted above all that which the human spirit has shaped and trained.

How did this change come about?

To begin with, let it be said, that it was not quite so sudden as
Friedländer would have us suppose. Long before the dawn of the
eighteenth century, the very principles that were at the base of
European life and aspirations--the principle of the depravity of man,
the principle of liberty for liberty's sake, the principle of the
pursuit of general truth; and finally, the principle that experience
--that is to say, a direct appeal to nature--was the best method of
furnishing the mind--all these principles had been leading steadily to
one conclusion, and this conclusion Rousseau was the first to embody in
his energetic and fulminating protest against culture, tradition, human
power and society. And the fact that his doctrine spread so rapidly,
that within fifty years of its exposition, with the help of men like
Coxe, Ramond de Carbonnières, Étienne de Sénancour, Töppefer, Saussure
and Bourit, it had practically become the credo and the passion of
Europe, shows how ready the age must have been for the lessons Rousseau
taught it.

All of you who have read the fulsome and bombastic praise of Nature,
together with the bitter disparagement of the work of man, in such
works as _La Nouvelle Héloise_, the _Confessions_, his letters to _Monsieur
de Malesherbes_, and his _Reveries of a lonely Rambler_, will not require
to be told the gospel Rousseau preaches.[20]

Suffice it to say, that he successfully created a love of the rough, of
the rugged, the unhandseled and the uncultivated in the minds of almost
all Europeans--especially Northerners, and that this love was rapidly
reflected in landscape painting.

This new feeling for the romantic, for the unconstrained and for
the savage in Nature, although it soon dominated art, was, in its
essentials, quite foreign to art and to the artist. It had nothing
in common with the motives that prompt and impel the artist to his
creations. Its real essence was moral and not artistic; its fundamental
feature was its worship of the abstract principles of liberty, anarchy
and the absence of culture, which rude nature exemplifies on all sides;
and it was a moral or scientific spirit that animated it, whether in
Rousseau or in his followers.

Friedrich Schiller, who entirely supports Rousseau's particular kind
of love for Nature, frankly admits this[21] in his able and profound
analysis of the sentiment in question; whatever self-contempt, and
contempt of adult manhood, may have lain behind Rousseau's valuations,
Schiller brings all of it openly into the light of day, and in his
efforts to support the Frenchman's school of thought, literally exposes
it to ridicule.

One or two voices, such as Hegel's[22] and Chateaubriand's, were raised in
protest against this thoroughly vulgar and sentimental attitude towards
savage and wild phenomena; but they were unable to resist a movement,
the strength of which had been accumulating for so many centuries in
the hearts of almost all Europeans; and, ultimately, numbers triumphed.

Even the hand of man--of the artist--in a painted landscape, got
to be a thing of the past. Realism--because it most conscientiously
repeated that unconstrained and anarchical spirit which the romantic
age loved to detect in matted weeds, in tangled and impenetrable
coppices, in thick festoons of parasitic plants, in unhandseled
brambles and in babbling brooks--became the ruling principle.
Classical influence alone was able for a while to resist too rapid a
decline; but soon we find Constable declaring in the early part of
the nineteenth century, that "there is nothing ugly," and addressing
aspiring artists in these words: "Observe that thy best director, thy
perfect guide is Nature. Copy from her. In her paths is thy triumphal
arch. She is above all other teachers; and ever confide in her with
a bold heart:"[23] and a whole host of people following in his wake and
applauding his principles.

Just as England by her influence had created Rousseau and his peculiar
mode of thinking,[24] so, again, British influence was to show its
power in the world of Art. The parallel is striking, but nevertheless
true. In the years 1824, 1826 and 1829, Constable, whom Muther calls
the father of landscape painting,[25] and whom Meier Graefe calls the
father of modern painting,[26] exhibited in Paris, and his style soon
became a dominant force.[27]

Stendhal, though very much too moderate, was one of the first to
raise, his voice against the lack of idealism (transfiguration,
simplification) in these English pictures; but his efforts were of
no avail, and he might just as well have shouted in the face of a

[6] According to Dr. Wilhelm Lübke, _Outlines of the History of Art_
(Vol. II, p. 452), Patenier might almost be called the founder of the
modern northern school of landscape painting. See also p. 575 in the
same volume. On this subject see also Muther, _Geschichte der Malerei_,
Vol. II, p. 72: "Although in a way it is possible to establish in what
respect the painting of the Netherlands in the sixteenth century ran
parallel with that of Italy, it is also necessary to emphasize the
fact, on the other hand, that painting." Muther mentions Hendrik Met de
Bles, Joachim de Patenier and Bosch as the leaders of this tendency.

[7] See W. H. Riehl, _Culturstudien aus drei Jahrhunderten_, p. 67.

[8] This use of the word sentimental in regard to the love of nature
for its own sake, is not by any means unprecedented. Schiller, in his
essay _Ueber naive und sentimentale Dichtung_, as an advocate in favour
of the love in question, constantly refers to it as sentimental. (See
1838 Edition of _Works_, Vol. XII, pp. 167-281.)

[9] See W. R. Hardie, _Lectures in Classical Subjects_, pp. 16-17:
"What are the scenes in Nature which had the greatest attraction
for the ancients? The landscape which a Greek would choose for his
environment was a tranquil one, a cultivated spot or a spot capable
of cultivation;" and p. 21: "... apart from the work of one or two
exceptional poets like Æschylus or Pindar, it must be allowed that the
ancient view of Nature was somewhat prosaic and practical, showing a
decided preference for fertile, habitable and accessible country."

[10] _Some Aspects of Greek Genius_, p. 252. See also his remarks,
pp. 246-248, concluding thus: "The great period, indeed, of the Attic
drama, when the dialectic movement of thought was in full operation,
can hardly be called 'simple' in Schiller's sense" [he is quoting
Schiller on "Simple and Sentimental Poetry," where in the opening
paragraph Schiller applies the word _naiv_, simple, to a natural
object, as meaning that state in which nature and art stand contrasted
and the former shames the latter]; "yet even then, as in Homer, nature
is but the background of the picture, the scene in which man's activity
displays itself. The change of sentiment sets in only from the time
of Alexander onwards. Nature is then sought for her own sake; artists
and poets turn to her with disinterested love; her moods are lovingly
noted, and she is brought into close relationship with man."

[11] _Studies of the Greek Poets_, Vol. II, p. 258.

[12] See _Social Life in Greece_ (Mahaffy), p. 426, and _What have the
Greeks done for Modern Civilization?_ (Mahaffy, 1909), p. 11: "External
nature was the very thing that the Greeks, all through their great
history, felt less keenly than we should have expected. Their want of a
sense of the picturesque has ever been cited as a notable defect." See
also W. R. Hardie, _Lectures on Classical Subjects_ (1903), p. 8: "To
what extent do the modern feelings and fancies about Nature appear in
the ancient poets?... The usual and substantially true answer is that
they appear to a very slight extent. Like Whitehead, the Greek is slow
to recognize 'a bliss that leans not to mankind.'"

[13] _Culturstudien aus drei Jahrhunderten_ (2nd Edition, 1859), p. 63.

[14] See S. H. Butcher, _Some Aspects of the Greek Genius_, pp. 265,
266: "Mountains and lonely woods and angry seas, in all periods of
Greek literature, so far from calling out a sublime sense of mystery
and awe, raise images of terror and repulsion, of power divorced from
beauty and alien to art. Homer, when for the moment he pauses to
describe a place, chooses one in which the hand of man is visible;
which he has reclaimed from the wild, made orderly, subdued to his own
use. Up to the last days of Greek antiquity man has not yet learnt
so to lose himself in the boundless life of Nature, as to find a
contemplative pleasure in her wilder and more majestic scenes."

See also J. A. Symonds, _Studies of the Greek Poets_, Vol. II, p. 257:
"The Greeks and Romans paid less attention to inanimate nature than
we do, and were beyond all question repelled by the savage grandeur
of marine and mountain scenery, preferring landscapes of smiling
and cultivated beauty to rugged sublimity or the picturesqueness of

See also W. R. Hardie, _Lectures on Classical Subjects_, pp. 3, 9, 17,
and Friedlander, _Roman Life and Manners_, Vol. I. pp. 391, 392, 393,

[15] _Ueber die Entstehung und Entwicklung des Gefühls für das
Romantische in der Natur_, pp. 4, 10.

[16] _Culturstudien aus drei Jahrhunderten_, p. 57.

[17] _Ibid._, pp. 59, 60.

[18] _Ueber die Entstehung und Entwicklung des Gefühls für das
Romantische in der Natur_, pp. 2, 3.

[19] E. B. d'Auvergne, _The English Castles_, pp. 216, 217.

[20] See _Lettres Nouvelles addressées à Monsieur de Malesherbes_
(Geneva, 1780), 3rd letter, p. 43. Speaking of a lonely walk in the
neighbourhood of his country house, he says: "J'allois alors d'un pas
plus tranquille chercher quelque lieu sauvage dans la forêt, quelque
lieu désert, où rien ne me montrant la main de l'homme ne m'annonçât
la servitude et la domination, enfin quelqu' asyle où je pusse croire
avoir pénétré le premier, et où nul tiers importun ne vint s'entreposer
entre la nature et moi. C'était là qu'elle sembloit déployer à mes
yeux une magnificence toujours nouvelle. L'or des genêts et la pourpre
des bruyères frappoient mes yeux d'un luxe qui touchoit mon cœur; la
majesté des arbres"--and so on in the same romantic strain for twenty
lines. It is impossible to reproduce every passage I should like
to quote, in order to reveal the full range of Rousseau's passion
for nature and his bitter contempt of man and man's work; but the
above is typical, and other equally gushing passages may be found in
_Les Rêveries du Promeneur Solitaire_ (Paris, 1882), pp. 119, 138,
etc., etc.; _La Nouvelle Héloise_, especially the 11th letter; _Les
Confessions_ (Ed. 1889, Vol. I), Bk. VI, pp. 229, 234, 238, 245, and
Bk. IV, p. 169: "... on sait déjà ce que j'entends par un beau pays.
Jamais pays de plaine, quelque beau qu'il fût, ne parut tel à mes yeux.
Il me faut des torrents, des rochers, des sapins, des bois noirs, des
montagnes, des chemins raboteux à monter et à descendre, des précipices
à mes cotés, qui me fassent peur.... J'eus ce plaisir ... en approchant
de Chambéri ... car ce qu'il y a de plaisir dans mon goût pour des
lieux escarpés, est qu'ils me font tourner la tête: et j'aime beaucoup
ce tournoiement pourvu que je sois en sureté."

[21] _Sämmtliche Werke_ (Stuttgart and Tübingen, 1838), Vol. XII,
"Ueber naive und sentimentale Dichtung," p. 168, 169: "This kind of
pleasure at the sight of Nature is not an æsthetic pleasure, but a
moral one: for it is arrived at by means of an idea, and it is not
felt immediately the act of contemplation has taken place, neither
does it depend for its existence upon beauty of form." And, p. 189,
after pointing out that the Greeks completely lacked this feeling for
Nature, he says: "Whence comes this different sense? How is it that we
who, in everything related to Nature, are inferior to the ancients,
should pay such homage to her, should cling so heartily to her, and
be able to embrace the inanimate world with such warmth of feeling?
It is not our greater conformity to Nature, but, on the contrary, the
opposition to her, which is inherent in our conditions and our customs,
that impels us to find some satisfaction in the physical world for our
awakening instinct for truth and primitive rudeness, which, like the
moral tendency from which that instinct arises, lies incorruptible and
indestructible in all human hearts and can find no satisfaction in the
moral world."

[22] See _Hegels Leben_, by Karl Rosenkranz, especially pp. 475, 476
and 482, 483.

[23] See _The Life and Letters of John Constable_, by C. R. Leslie,
R.A., pp. 343, 349.

[24] See J. Morley's _Rousseau_, Vol. I, pp. 85, 86: "According to
his own account, it was Voltaire's Letters on the English which first
drew him seriously to study, and nothing which that illustrious man
wrote at this time escaped him." And p. 146: "Locke was Rousseau's most
immediate inspirer, and the latter affirmed himself to have treated
the same matters exactly on Locke's principles. Rousseau, however,
exaggerated Locke's politics as greatly as Condillac exaggerated his
metaphysics." And p. 147: "We need not quote passages from Locke to
demonstrate the substantial correspondence of assumption between him
and the author of the Social Contract. They are to be found in every

[25] _Geschichte der Malerei_, Vol. III, p. 175.

[26] _Modern Art_, Vol. I, p. 140.

[27] _Ibid._, p. 138: "What his fatherland neglected was taken over
by the Continent. Strange as this neglect may seem, the rapidity
with which Europe assimilated Constable is even more remarkable.
The movement began in Paris.... France needed what Constable had to
give.... The young Frenchmen saw the traditional English freedom with
eyes sharpened by enthusiasm."

3. Portrait Painting.

When one now adds to these influences, the steady rise of the power of
the bourgeoisie in Europe, from the seventeenth century onward, and,
as a result of this increasing power, an uninterrupted growth in the
art of portrait painting--a growth that attained such vast proportions
that it cast all attainments of a like nature in any other age or
continent into the shade--one can easily understand what factors have
been the most formidable opponents of Ruler-Art in the Occident, since
the event of the Renaissance.

After all that I have said concerning the principles of Ruler-Art, it
will scarcely be necessary for me to expatiate upon those elements in
portrait painting which are antagonistic to these principles; for when
you think of portrait painting as it has been developed by the claims
of the bourgeoisie in Europe, you must not have Leonardo da Vinci's
"Mona Lisa" in mind. Neither must you consider that portrait work
in which, by chance, the artist has had before him a model who, in
every feature of face or of figure, corresponded to his ideal; nor
that in which the artist has been able to allow himself to exercise
his simplifying and transfiguring power. Otherwise some of the best
of Rubens' and Rembrandt's work would of necessity come under the ban
which we must set upon by far the greater number of portraits.

[Illustration: Saskia By Rembrandt.]

When Rembrandt painted his bride Saskia,[28] for instance, the extent to
which he exercised his simplifying and transfiguring power is amazing,
and precludes all possibility of our classing this work among the
portraits which should be condemned. He knew perfectly well that poor
Saskia was not beautiful--what beautiful girl would have condescended
to look at Rembrandt?--so what did he do? He cast all the upper and
right side of her face in shadow, and deliberately concentrated all
his attention, and consequently the attention of the beholder as well,
upon three or four square inches of nice round muscle in the lower part
of Saskia's young cheek and neck. But how many plain daughters of rich
bourgeois would allow three or four square inches of their cheek and
neck to be exalted in this way, at the cost of their eyes and their
nose and their brow? The same remarks also apply to Rembrandt's "Jewish
Rabbi" in the National Gallery. There he had to deal with an emaciated,
careworn old Jew. How did he overcome the difficulty? All of you who
know this picture will be able to answer this question for yourselves,
and I need not, therefore, go into the matter.

This, then, is not the class of portrait work which need necessarily
deteriorate the power of art. What does deteriorate this power, is
that other and more common class of portrait painting which began in
Holland in the seventeenth century, and in which each sitter insisted
upon discovering all his little characteristics and individual
peculiarities; in which, as Muther says, each sitter wished to find "a
counterfeit of his personality," and in which "no artistic effect, but
resemblance alone was the object desired."[29]

It was the insistence upon this kind of portrait work by the wealthy
bourgeoisie of England, which well-nigh drove Whistler, with his
ruler spirit, out of his mind, and it is precisely this portrait work
which is dominant to-day. In order to be pleasing and satisfactory
to the people who demand it, this class of painting presupposes the
suppression of all those first principles upon which Ruler-Art relies
in order to flourish and to soar; and where it is seriously and
earnestly pursued, art is bound to suffer.

This was recognized three hundred years ago by the Spanish theoretician
Vincenti Carducho, and his judgment still remains the wisest that has
ever been written on the subject. In formulating the credo of the
sixteenth century, he wrote as follows--

"No great and extraordinary painter was ever a portraitist, for such
an artist is enabled by judgment and acquired habit to improve upon
nature. In portraiture, however, he must confine himself to the model,
whether it be good or bad, with sacrifice of his observation and
selection; which no one would like to do who has accustomed his mind
and his eye to good forms and proportions."[30]

Our art at the present day is, unfortunately, very largely the
development and natural outcome of the two influences I have just
described, and that accounts for a good deal for which I have failed to
account hitherto.

Art no longer gives: it takes. It no longer reflects beauty on reality:
it seeks its beauty in reality. And that is why it falls to pieces
judged by the standard of Ruler-Art. It cannot bear the fierce light
of an art that is intimate with Life and inseparable from Life. In
its death-throes it has decked itself with all kinds of metaphysical
plumes, in order that it may thus, perhaps, live after death. But these
plumes have been used before by dying gods and have proved of no avail.
"Virtue for virtue's sake," was the cry of a dying religion. "Art for
art's sake," is now the cry of an expiring godlike human function.

But unless this cry be altered very quickly into a cry of art for the
sake of Life, there will be no chance of saving it. Before this art for
Life's sake can be discovered, however; before the purpose after which
it will strive can be determined and established, the first thing to
which we shall have to lend our attention is not art, but mankind.

The purpose of man is a thousand times more important than the purpose
of art. The one determines the other. And as a proof of how intimately
the two are connected, see how much doubt there is as to the purpose of
art, precisely at a moment when men also, owing to the terrible civil
war which is raging among their values, are beginning to doubt the real
purpose of human existence.

It would be useless to indulge in a detailed criticism of individual
artists. To all those who have followed my arguments closely, no such
clumsy holding up of particular modern artists to ridicule will seem
necessary. In some of your minds these men are idols still, and it
pleases only the envious and the unsuccessful to see niche-statues

The great artist, as I have shown you, is the synthetic and superhuman
spirit that apotheosizes the type of a people and thereby stimulates
them to a higher mode of life. But where should we go to-day, if we
wished to look for a type or for a desirable code of values which that
type would exemplify?

We know that we can go nowhere; for such things do not exist. They are
utterly and hopelessly extinct.

Our first duty, then, is not to mend the arts--you cannot mend a
cripple. But it is rather to mend the parents who bring forth this
cripple--to mend Life itself, and above all Man.

"Away from God and Gods did my will allure me," says Zarathustra; "what
would there be to create if there were Gods!

"But to man doth it ever drive me anew, my burning will; thus doth it
drive the hammer unto the stone.

"Alas, ye fellow-men, within the stone slumbereth an image for me,
the image of all my visions! Alas that it should perforce slumber in
ugliest stone!

"Now rageth my hammer, ruthlessly against its prison. From the stone
fly the fragments: what's that to me?

"I shall end the work: for a shadow came unto me--the stillest and
lightest of all things once came unto me.

"The beauty of the Superman came unto me as a shadow. Alas my brethren,
what are the gods to me now!"[31]

[28] Dresden Royal Picture Gallery.

[29] _History of Painting_ (Eng. Trans.), Vol. II, pp. 572, 576.

[30] Muther, _History of Painting_ (English Translation), Vol. II, p.

[31] _Z._, II, XXIV.

Lecture III[1]

Nietzsche's Art Principles in the History of Art

Part I

Christianity and the Renaissance

    "For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye
    through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye
    shall live."--Romans viii. 13.

I shall now endeavour to show you when and where Nietzsche's Art
doctrine, or part of it, has raised its head in the past, and to touch
lightly upon the conditions which led to its observance.

In doing this I shall travel backwards, zigzag fashion, from Rome,
viâ Greece to Egypt, and beginning with Christianity, I shall show
how the Holy Catholic Church succeeded in establishing one of the
conditions necessary to all great Art, which, as I have said, is unity
and solidarity lasting over a long period of time, and forming men
according to a definite and severe scheme of values.

[1] Delivered at University College on Dec. 15th, 1910.

1. Rome and the Christian Ideal.

The compass of these lectures does not allow me to say anything
concerning the Art of Rome. There are many aspects of this Art which
are both interesting and important from the historical standpoint;
but, from the particular point of view which I am now representing,
temporal Rome does not concern me nearly as much as sacred Rome and its
provincial Government.

For the first act of the Christian power was not to volatilize the
stone bulwarks of the monuments of antiquity, neither was it to
spiritualize the citizen of the Roman Empire; but it was to convert
Rome the secular administration into Rome the Eternal City.

Long before the exterior of the Græco-Roman column was divided up and
sub-divided, until, despite its volume, it seemed to have no solidity
whatever; and long before men's eyes and bodies were transformed from
broad, spacious wells of life into narrow, tenuous cylinders of fire,
a teaching was spread broadcast over the Roman Empire, the devouring
power of which was astounding, and the like of whose digestion has not
been paralleled in history.

The Romans in their latter days had degenerated through the decline
among them of that very principle which is the basis of all great
art--restraint. Always utilitarians, in the end they had become
materialists, and finally their will power had disintegrated.

Then, suddenly--perhaps through the very fact that their will power had
declined, and through a preponderance among them of a class of people
who were unfit to allow themselves any material enjoyment, and who were
conscious of this shortcoming--the pendulum of Life swung back with a
force so great to the opposite extreme, that the Pagan world was shaken
to its foundations, and in its death-agony stretched out its arms and
embraced the foreign creed which said--

"Flesh is death; Spirit is life and peace. The body is dead because of
sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If ye live after
the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the
deeds of the body, ye shall live."[2]

Here was a fundamentally new valuation, a totally novel outlook upon
the world of man. Some extraordinarily magnetic creator of values had
spread his will over an empire, and stamped his hand upon a corner of
the globe, and "the blessedness to write upon the will of millenniums
as upon brass,"[3] promised to be his.

Here was a principle which obviously must have found its origin in a
class of mind which, in order to overcome the flesh at all, knew of no
better means thereto than to cut it right away and for ever. It was not
a matter of contriving some sort of desirable inner harmony; the will
of the people in whom this creed took its roots was incapable of such
an achievement. The order went: "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck
it out, and cast it from thee ... if thy right hand offend thee, cut
it off!" Whenever the Spirit was mentioned it was spelt in capital
letters and uttered in exalted tones; while the body, on the other
hand, as the great obstacle to salvation, was written small. States of
the soul became surer indices to the qualities "good," "beautiful,"
and "virtuous," than states of the body, and the paradox that Life was
the denial of Life, was honestly believed to be an attainable ideal.
In Lübke's words: "Christianity disturbed the harmony between man and
nature, and introduced a sense of discordance by proclaiming to man a
higher spiritual law, in the light of which his inborn nature became a
sinful thing which he was to overcome."[4]

The people who acclaimed this teaching by instinct ultimately organized
themselves, conquered the Pagan world, enlisted Pagan elements into
their organization--Pagan spirit and Pagan order--and gradually
accomplished a task which no other European values seem to have
been able to do. They established one idea, one thought, one hope,
in the breasts of almost all great Western peoples, from Ireland to
Constantinople, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.

The power of their creation--the Church--was such that it
co-ordinated the most heterogeneous elements, the most conflicting
factors, and the most absurd contrasts. And, however much one may
deprecate the nature of the type they advocated, and the ignoble
valuation of humanity upon which their religion was based, as a
Nietzschean, one can but acknowledge the power they wielded, the might
with which they made one ideal prevail, and the art with which for a
while they united and harmonized such discordant voices as those of the
people of Europe.

One can admire all this, I say, even though it is but a spiritual
reflection of Rome's former power, her former victories, and her former
law and order.[5]

For, soon, however un-Pagan the ideal may have been which the Church
made to prevail, the methods it employed were purely Pagan methods.

Fearing nothing, respecting nothing that was opposed to it, and not
losing heart before the difficulty of vanquishing even the most
formidable enemies of the expiring Empire--the Teutons away in the
North--spiritual Rome thus set about its task of appropriating
humanity; and all the art of the organizer, of the orator, of the
painter, sculptor and architect, was speedily ordered into its service.
If the type to which its ideal aspired were not already a general fact,
then it must be made a general fact. It must be reared, cultivated
and maintained.

Strangely enough, the feat of vanquishing the German nation proved a
thousand times easier to Rome the Eternal City, than it had done to
Rome the Metropolis of the Greatest Empire of antiquity. The ancient
Germans, with their strong tendency to subjectivity, to fantastic
brooding and to cobweb spinning, and with their coarse, brutal natures
unused either to restraint or to the culture that arises from it, fell
easy victims to this burning teaching of the spirit, of faith, and
of sentiment;[6] and it was in their susceptible and untutored
breasts that Christianity laid its firmest foundation.

In its work of appropriation and consumption, as I say, the Church
halted at nothing.

[2] Romans viii. 6, 10, 13.

[3] _Z._, III, LVI.

[4] _Outlines of the History of Art_, Vol. I, p. 445.

[5] See H. H. Milman, D.D., _History of Latin Christianity_ (Ed.
1864), Vol. I, p. 10. Speaking of Catholicism, he says: "It was
the Roman Empire, again extended over Europe by a universal code,
and a provincial government; by a hierarchy of religious prætors
or proconsuls, and a host of inferior officers, each in strict
subordination to those immediately above them, and gradually descending
to the very lowest ranks of society, the whole with a certain degree of
freedom of action, but a restrained and limited freedom, and with an
appeal to the spiritual Cæsar in the last resort."

[6] See J. B. Bury, _A History of the Roman Empire_, Vol. I, p. 17:
"It has been said that the function of the German nations was to
be the bearers of Christianity. The growth of the new religion was
indeed contemporary with the spread of the new races in the Empire,
but at this time in the external events of history, so far from
being closely attached to the Germans, Christianity is identified
with the Roman Empire. It is long afterwards that we see the mission
fulfilled. The connection lies on a psychological basis: the German
character was essentially subjective. The Teutons were gifted with
that susceptibility which we call heart, and it was to the needs
of the heart that Christianity possessed endless potentialities of
adaptation.... Christianity and Teutonism were both solvents of the
ancient world, and as the German nations became afterwards entirely
Christian, we see that they were historically adapted to one another."

2. The Pagan Type appropriated and transformed by Christian Art.

Just as St. Paul had not refrained from taking possession of the
Unknown God whom the Athenians ignorantly worshipped, by declaring
Him to be precisely the God whom he had come among them to proclaim,
so Christianity did not refrain from incorporating all the suitable
features of the Pagan faith into its own creed.

The Pagan type was thus the first thing to be assimilated and absorbed,
and in the early Christian paintings of the catacombs you must not be
surprised to find the Saviour depicted with all the beauties and charms
of the classical god or hero. Here he appears as a Hermes, there as an
Apollo, and yonder as an Orpheus.[7] Beardless, young, and strong, Christ
stalks towards you. His gait is free his carriage majestic. Across his
shoulders you will sometimes see, as in the catacombs of the Via Appia
in Rome, that he bears a sheep, and he looks for all the world like a
young Hermes, who, as you know, was the Greek god of flocks.

Elsewhere he looks like a Roman senator, as in the catacomb of St.
Callixtus, for instance; his mother Mary looks like a Roman matron,
praying with uplifted hands, and the apostles Peter and Paul, together
with the prophets, appear as peripatetic philosophers, grasping
learned-looking scrolls of manuscript, while Daniel is presented as
a Hercules.[8]

Even the famous bronze statue of St. Peter in his great
church at Rome is in fact an antique statue of a consul which has
been transformed into a Peter, and the original of this monument was
probably quite innocent of the sanctity which has caused the foot of
his effigy to be worn away by the kisses of the faithful.[9]

This bold manner of appropriating the Pagan ideal in Art was but
the symbol of what was actually occurring in the outside world; for
the object was not to glorify the Pagan type, but to overthrow it,
to transform it by degrees into the type which was compatible with
Christian values, and thus to obliterate it.

We can watch this process. We can see the classic features and form
of body surely and permanently vanishing from the wall decorations of
the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries A.D., and the Christian type
asserting itself with ever greater assurance. Already in San Paolo
fuori-le-mura in Rome, which had been decorated about the middle of
the fifth century,[10] Christ appears bearded,[11] ugly and gloomy, and his
apostles reflect his appearance and mood. In the Church of San Vitale
in Ravenna, of the sixth century, the spirit of the antique had almost
passed away;[12] in the basilica of San Lorenzo fuori-le-mura the bearded
Christ is no longer sublime and dignified, but wan and emaciated;[13] while
in the Church of SS. Nazarus and Celsus at Ravenna, there is a mosaic
of the fifth century in which even the sheep are beginning to look with
gloomy and dissatisfied eyes upon the world about them.

Examples could be multiplied almost indefinitely to prove how slow but
sure was this gradual self-assertion of the type that was compatible
with Christian values, and the early period of mediæval art is well
described by Woltmann and Woermann as one in which the classical cast
of figure and features gets swallowed up in ugliness.[14]

Finally, in the seventh century, the most daring and most extraordinary
artistic feat of all was accomplished. The greatest paradox the world
had ever seen--a god on a cross--was portrayed for men's eyes
to behold. The Crucifixion became one of the loftiest subjects of
Christian art, and the god of the Christians was painted in his death

I will not dwell upon the manifold influences exercised by this
class of picture; I simply record the fact, in order to show with
what steadily increasing audacity the Church ultimately realized and
exhibited its type.

For, the fact that Christian Art was didactic, as all art is which is
associated with the will and idea of a fighting cause, and which is
born on a soil of clashing values, nobody seems to deny.[15] Paulinus
of Nola, Gregory the Great, Bishop Germanus, Gregory the Second,[16] John
of Damascus and Basil the Great were all agreed as to the incalculable
worth of images in the propagation of the Christian doctrine, and their
attitude, subsequently adopted by the Franciscans and Dominicans,
lasted, according to Milman, until very late in the Middle Ages. When
it is remembered, moreover, that illuminated manuscripts, which were
destined to remain in the hands of single individuals, retained the
classical mould of body and features much later than did the work for
church decoration, it is not difficult to discover the strong motive
which lay behind the production of public art.[17]

With Roman culture and art, the western and northern provinces of Gaul,
Spain, Germany and Britain thus received their religion and their ideal
type; and if to-day, in our ball-rooms and drawing-rooms we are often
confronted with tenuous, flamelike, swan-necked creatures, that recall
Burne-Jones, Botticelli, Duccio and Segna to our minds, we know to
which values these people owe their slender, heaven-aspiring stature,
and their long, sensitive fingers.

For the attitude of the Christian ideal to Life, to the body, and to
the world was an entirely negative one. The command from on high was,
that the deeds of the body should be mortified through the Spirit. All
beauty, all voluptuousness, smoothness and charm were very naturally
regarded with suspicion by the promoters of such an ideal; for beauty,
voluptuousness and shapeliness lure back to Life, lure back to the
flesh, and ultimately back to the body.

What else, then, could possibly have been expected from such an ideal
than the ultimate decline and uglification of the body? To what else
did such an ideal actually aspire? For was not ugliness the strongest
obstacle in the way of the loving one, in the way of him who wished
only to affirm and to promote life?

When the student of mediæval miniatures, wall-paintings and
stained-glass windows finds bodily charm almost completely eliminated,
when he sees ugliness prevailing, and even made seductive by a host
of the most subtle art-forms, by a gorgeous wealth of ornament
and repetitive design; and when he perceives a certain guilty
self-consciousness in regard to the attributes of sex revealing
itself in such paintings as that on the ceiling of the Church of St.
Michael at Hildesheim, where Adam and Eve are represented as naked
human monstrosities, exactly alike in frame and limbs, and with all
indications as to sex, save Eve's long tresses and Adam's beard,
carefully suppressed,[18] what can be concluded from all this irrefutable
and unimpeachable evidence?

When he finds the Gothic type of figure growing ever more tenuous, ever
more emaciated and more sickly as the centuries roll on; when he hears
of a Byzantine canon of the eleventh century in which the human body
is actually declared to be a monstrosity measuring nine heads; when he
finds strength and manhood gradually departing from the faces and the
limbs of the men, and an expression of tender sentiment, culminating
in puling sentimentality becoming the rule; finally, when he stands
opposite Segna's appalling picture of "Christ on the Cross" at the
National Gallery; what, under these circumstances, is he to say, save
that he is here concerned with an art which is antagonistic and hostile
to beauty, to Life and the world?

For the qualities of this art, qua art, although they never once attain
to the excellence of Ruler-Art, are sometimes exceedingly great. With
Meier Graefe I should be willing to agree that there has been no real
style since the Gothic,[19] or certainly not one that can claim anything
like such general distribution. And, if it had not been for the fact
that the more the paradox at the root of Christian doctrine was
realized, the more paradoxical it appeared--a fact which called forth
the energies of scores of apologists, commentators, and dialecticians,
and which made pictures retain to the very end a rhetorical,
persuasive, and therefore more or less realistic manner, sometimes
assisted (more especially towards the close of the Middle Ages) by
almost lyrical ornament and charm; there is no saying to what simple
power Christian art might not have attained. For behind it were all the
conditions which go to produce the greatest artistic achievements.

As a style, apart from its subject--or content beauty; as the
manifestation of a mighty will--who can help admiring this art of
Christianity? If only its ideal had been a possible one, and one which
would have required no rhetoric, seduction, or emotional oratory,
accompanied by the ringing of all the precious metals, to support it
until the end; it might have ascended to the highest pinnacle of art in
simplicity, restraint and order. Into simplicity, however, it was never
able to develop, while its constant need of explaining made it to the
very last retain more or less realism in the presentation of its ideal

[7] On this point see Kraus, _Geschichte der christlichen Kunst_, Vol.
I, pp. 41, 46 et seq. Muther, _Geschichte der Malerei_, Vol. I, p. 13.
Woltmann and Woermann, _History of Painting_, Vol. I. pp. 151-156. Paul
Lacroix, _Les Arts au Moyen Age et à l'Epoque de la Renaissance_ (Ed.
1877, Paris), p. 254.

[8] See J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, _The History of Painting
in Italy_ (Ed. 1903), Vol. I, p. 4. Woltmann and Woermann, _op. cit._,
Vol. I, p. 156.

[9] Woltmann and Woermann, _op. cit._, Vol. I, p. 156.

[10] J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._, pp. 14, 15.

[11] For a discussion of the material causes of the change of type, see
Milman, _op. cit._. Vol. IX, p. 324.

[12] Crowe and Cavalcaselle, _op. cit._, Vol. I, pp. 24, 25.

[13] Woltmann and Woermann, _op. cit._, Vol. I, p. 185.

[14] Woltmann and Woermann, _op. cit._, Vol. I, p. 230.

[15] See an interesting discussion on the early Christian attitude
towards art in Kraus, _Geschichte der christlichen Kunst_, Vol. I, pp.
58 et seq. See also Milman's conclusions on the subject, _History of
Latin Christianity_, Vol. II, pp. 345, 346.

[16] See his letter to Leo the Isaurian, quoted by Milman, _op. cit._,
Vol. II, pp. 358-361. See also the Rev. J. S. Black's article on
"Images" in the _Encyclopædia Britannica_ (9th Edition).

[17] The Rev. J. S. Black says, in his article on "Images," above
referred to, that even as early as the fourth or fifth centuries there
is evidence of the tendency to enlist art in the service of the Church,
while Woltmann and Woermann (_op. cit._, Vol. I, p. 167) quote the
following instance: "When St. Nilus (A.D. 450) was consulted about
the decoration of a church, he rejected as childish and unworthy the
intended design of plants, birds, animals, and a number of crosses,
and desired the interior to be adorned with pictures from the Old
and New Testaments, with the same motive that Gregory II expressed

[18] Kraus seems to be of the opinion that this suppression of primary
sexual characteristics in paintings was not at all uncommon in the
Middle Ages. See _Geschichte der christlichen Kunst_, Vol. II, p. 280.

[19] _Modern Art_, Vol. I, p. 24.

3. The Gothic Building and Sentiment.

But the hierarchy of the Church, although it left no doubt in the minds
of its followers as to the genuine type which was the apotheosis of
Christian values, was nevertheless unable completely to impose its culture
upon the barbarians under its sway. And soon, somewhere towards the end
of the twelfth century, there began to appear in Europe, in things that
did not seem to matter from the moral or didactic standpoint, a certain
uncouth and uncultured spirit, which showed to what extent the despotic
rule of Rome was beginning to be flouted.

In architecture, which, like music, has for some reason or other
always seemed to Europeans to be less intimately connected with the
thought and will of man than the graphic arts, an un-Catholic spirit
was preparing its road to triumph. When I say un-Catholic, I mean
emancipated from the law and order of the Universal Church.[20] And in
the Gothic edifice, from its early stages to its development
into the flamboyant style, all the impossibilities, all the terrible
self-immolations imposed by the Christian ideal upon man, begin to make
themselves openly felt.

Now churches begin to tower aloft into heights undreamt of heretofore.
Huge columns spring heavenwards, bearing up a roof that seems almost
ethereal because it is so high. Spires are thrust right into the very
breasts of clouds, and acres are covered by constructions which,
mechanically speaking, are alive. Kicks from the vaulted arches against
the hollowed-out walls below, necessitate counter-kicks; buttresses and
flying buttresses strive and struggle against the crushing pressure of
the stone or brick skies of these fantastic architectural feats. All
the parts of this mass of stone on baked clay are at loggerheads and at
variance with each other, and their strife never ceases.

Typical of the contest going on within the body of the mediæval
Christian, and the vain aspirations of his soul, the lofty buildings
are also symbolic of the discord and lack of equilibrium which, as
Lübke says, Christianity introduced into man's relations to Nature and
to himself. And when we find the columns of these buildings carved and
moulded to look like groups of pillars embracing each other to gain
strength, the salient parts of the construction grooved and striped,
and the extremities of the clustered pillars spreading after the manner
of a fan, over our heads; we are amazed at the manner in which mass and
volume have been volatilized, spiritualized, and apparently dissipated.

Elsewhere, too, there is variegated glass, gigantic filigree work,
festive decoration, as elaborated as that of a queen or a bride;
infinite grandeur and infinite littleness.[21] The ornament is nervous
and excited, festoons, trefoils, gables, gargoyles and niches, all
thrust themselves at you; all strive for individual effect, individual
attention, and individual value, with a restlessness and an importunacy
which knows no limits; until your eyes, bewildered and dazzled by the
jutting, projecting and budding details, and out-startled by surprise,
instinctively drop at last, and perhaps close in a paroxysm of despair,
before the High Altar.[22]

This was the germ of Protestantism in stone. Long before Martin Luther
burned the Papal Bull in the market-place of Wittenberg, the elements
of Protestantism had already found expression in Gothic architecture.
True the Pagan and Catholic spirit was still sufficiently master to
dominate them, just as it did the heretics, by a tremendous force
of style; but they are nevertheless present, and it is in this
architecture, if we choose to seek it, that we shall find, at once, all
the beauty, all the ugliness, and all the incompatible elements of the
Christian ideal.

Its beauty and the fact for which we ought to be grateful to it, is,
that by its one-sided and earnest advocacy of the spiritual in man, it
extended the domain of his spirit over an area so much greater than
that which had been covered theretofore, that only now can it be said
that he knows exactly where he stands and who he is. Its ugliness lies
in its contempt of the body and of Life; and its incompatible elements
are its negation of Life and the necessary attitude of affirmation
towards Life which all living creatures are bound to assume.

If, however, the above description of the Gothic may seem unfair, hear
what one of the greatest friends of the Gothic has said on the subject!

John Ruskin, in the early days of the last half of the nineteenth
century, wrote as follows--

"I believe that the characteristic or moral elements of the Gothic are
the following, placed in order of their importance: (1) Savageness, (2)
Changefulness, (3) Naturalism, (4) Grotesqueness, (5) Rigidity, (6)

He speaks of it as being "instinct with work of an imagination
as wild and wayward as the Northern Sea";[24] lays stress upon its
rudeness,[25] and declares that it is that strange disquietude of
the Gothic spirit--that is its greatness, "that restlessness of the
dreaming mind, that wanders hither and thither among the niches, and
flickers feverishly around, and yet is not satisfied, nor shall be

In fact, in no instance could the saying, "preserve me from my own
friends," be more aptly applied than in Ruskin's defence of the Gothic.
For Ruskin was a conscientious student, and things which even enemies
of his subject would be likely to overlook, he brings forward proudly
and ingenuously, like a truculent mother presenting an ugly child to a
friend, and with a broad smile in his forcible prose which sometimes
throws even the experienced reader quite off his guard.

Hippolyte Taine speaks of the people of the Middle Ages as being
possessed of delicate and over-excited imaginations, of morbid fancy
unto whom vivid sensation--manifold, changing, bizarre and extreme
--are necessary. In referring to their taste in ornament, he says,
"It is the adornment of a nervous, over-excited woman, similar to
the extravagant costumes of the day, whose delicate and morbid poesy
denotes by its excess the singular sentiments, the feverish, violent,
and impotent aspiration peculiar to an age of knights and monks."[27]

[Illustration: The Canon of Polycleitus (_Rome_)]

And if you think of the physical and spiritual operations they had been
made to undergo, you will not feel very much inclined to question these
conclusions. It must not be supposed that the canon of Polycletus,
measuring seven heads, was transformed into the Byzantine canon,
measuring nine heads, without some one's suffering--even though it
took centuries to effect the change. It must not be believed that the
calm Pagan idea of death was converted into the Christian terror of
death without the sacrifice of something; nor must these emaciated,
careworn, and neurotic faces in Mediæval paintings be conceived as mere
inventions of morbid phantasy. The deeds of the body are not mortified
through the Spirit with impunity. Such brilliant achievements have
their accounts to pay, and the Church never once deceived itself or
its followers as to what was paying, what was suffering, or where the
amputations and vivisections were taking place.

Look at the type of which the monks approved! Examine it in Cimabue's,
Duccio's, Segna's and the Cologne painters' pictures. Examine it in the
tapestry of Berne, known as the "Adoration of the Kings"; look at it
in countless stained glass windows, and see its repetition in hundreds
of illuminated manuscripts, some of which, like the Latin missal of
the Church of St. Bavon at Ghent, and the _Lives of the Saints_ by Simeon
Metaphrasi, have found their way into the British Museum.

Then ask yourself whether or not humanity was suffering in conforming
itself to this holy creed. "Like those mothers," says Lecky, "who
govern their children by persuading them that the dark is crowded
with spectres that' will seize the disobedient, and who often succeed
in creating an association of ideas which the adult man is unable
altogether to dissolve, the Catholic priests, by making the terrors of
death for centuries the nightmare of the imagination, resolved to base
their power upon the nerves."[28]

And, now that all this is known and realized, what is the meaning of
the Renaissance, what is its explanation?

[20] Speaking of Gothic buildings in general, Fergusson, in A History
of Architecture, Vol. I, p. 41, says: "It is in Nature's highest works
that we find the symmetry of proportion most prominent. When we descend
to the lower types of animals we find we lose it to a great extent, and
among trees and vegetables generally find it only in a far less degree,
and sometimes miss it altogether. In the mineral kingdom among rocks
and stones it is altogether absent. So universal is this principle in
Nature that we may safely apply it to our criticism on art, and say
that a building is perfect as a whole in proportion to its motived
regularity, and departs from the highest type in the ratio in which
symmetrical arrangement is neglected. It may, however, be incorrect to
say that an oak-tree is a less perfect work of creation than a human
body, but it is certain that a picturesque group of Gothic buildings
may be as perfect as the stately regularity of an Egyptian or classic
temple; but if it is so, it is equally certain that it belongs to a
lower and inferior class of design." Page 34: "The revival of the
rites and ceremonies of the Mediæval Church, our reverent love of our
own national antiquities, and our admiration of the rude but vigorous
manhood of the Middle Ages, all have combined to repress the classical
element, both in our literature and in our art, and to exalt in their
place Gothic feelings and Gothic art to an extent which cannot be
justified on any grounds of reasonable criticism."

[21] See Hippolyte Taine, _On the Nature of the Work of Art_
(translated by John Durand), pp. 130, 131, 132, 133, 134.

[22] Dr. Wilhelm Lübke, _op. cit._, Vol. II, p. 14, 15, says, speaking
of the Gothic: "What a contrast to the quiet, sober masses of the
Romanesque style ...! Here, on the other hand, everything thrusts
itself into prominence, everything strives for outward effect,
everything endeavours to work out its individuality with spirit and
energy. ... At the choir ... a positive sense of disquiet and confusion
is produced, which may indeed excite the fancy, but cannot satisfy the
sense of beauty."

[23] _On the Nature of Gothic Architecture_ (1854), p. 4.

[24] _On the Nature of Gothic Architecture_, p. 6.

[25] _Ibid_., p. 11.

[26] _Ibid_., p. 19.

[27] _On the Nature of the Work of Art_, pp. 131-33, 134.

[28] _History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne_, Vol. I,
p. 211.

4. The Renaissance.

The Renaissance, in its early stages, at least, was a period neither
of pure realism nor of classicalism; it was neither a revival of
learning nor a revival of antiquity. These words are mere euphemisms,
mere drawing-room phrases. For, at its inception, the Renaissance
was nothing more nor less than man's convalescence, after an illness
that had lasted centuries. It was his first walk into the open, after
leaving his bed and his sick-room.

According to the Nietzschean doctrine of art, this realism of Van Eyck,
of Van der Weyden, Quintin Massys, Donatello, Pisanello, Masolino,
Ucello and others ought to disgust you. It is not art, or if it is, its
rank is inferior. Why, then, does it claim attention? Why is it far
superior to the realism of the present day, despite some appallingly
ugly features?[29]

It is superior only in this sense, that it is the work of
convalescents. After they had been laid on the rack in the attempt to
stretch their limbs and bodies to infinity, you must not be surprised
that these men could only limp along. How could they be expected to
walk majestically and with grace? That they could stand at all was a
mercy. That they were able to hobble along as they did was a triumph.

To expect these recovering invalids to impart something of themselves
to Life, to enrich her and to transfigure her, would be to expect the
impossible. But if you applaud them at all, applaud them for their
recovery, for the fact that it is well that they can give us even
drabby reality as it is. Do not congratulate them yet on their health.
For their realism, as realism, is as hopeless, as uninteresting and as
unelevating as any realism ever was and ever will be.

It is deceptive, too, for what seem to be beauties in their pictures
are borrowed from such of their predecessors of the late Gothic period
as were already overloading their pictures with ornamental art forms,
in order to disguise the ugliness of the type they presented. Where
they beguile you, it is often with a wealth of sweet ornament.[30]

In Ucello's "Battle of Sant' Eglidio," at the National Gallery, it is
impossible not to recognize the pains the artist has taken to make your
eye dwell on the dainty trappings and accoutrements of the knights
and their steeds, on the distracting balls of gold in the shrubbery,
artfully repeated in the bridles of the horses, and on the complex maze
of pikes, spears and lances, which makes the glimpse of hills in the
distance all the more restful and pleasing.

Also in Pisanello's "St. Anthony and St. George" (National Gallery),
whatever charm there is to be seen is still a Gothic charm, and the
same holds good of this painter's remarkable picture of the "Vision
of St. Eustace," in which the deliberately ornamental purpose of the
animals in the background charms you more than their startling realism.

If you leave these pictures, in the National Gallery, and walk over to
Orcagna's "Coronation of the Virgin," you will see where the ornamental
charm of the early Renaissance realists probably found its origin. For
these convalescent men made no sudden and unanticipated appearance.
They were preceded by painters like Orcagna, who were beginning to feel
the impossibility of making a beautiful image out of the Christian
type, and who therefore crammed their pictures with ornament in a
manner so prodigal that the human portion of them assumed quite a
subordinate place.

Look at this picture of Orcagna's. It seems positively to ring with
gold. Massed halos of the precious metal convert the faces of the
people into mere decorative discs of colour. The golden embroidery on
the dresses and on the hangings in the background give you a feeling of
sunshine, of wealth and of luxury, which makes you forget the ideal for
which all this lavish display is acting but as a subtle impresario. And
the utilization of every square inch of room by filigrees, festoons,
frills and fretwork of gorgeousness, almost convinces you at last that
you are in front of an art which says "Yea" to the glory of sunshine,
beauty and life.

In this very need of extravagant ornament, however, Orcagna confesses
quite openly to you that, as far as humanity is concerned, he, as
an artist, is bankrupt and destitute. His picture, like most things
connected with the art of Christianity, is a pictorial paradox; and
when you leave it, to wander through the other rooms, your mind must be
of a singularly ingenuous stamp if it feels no suspicion with regard to
Orcagna's use of such a deafening brass band in the exaltation of his

If you doubt all this, how can you explain the fact that those painters
of the early Renaissance who remained faithful to the Christian
type--such men, I mean, as Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, Alesso
Baldovinetti, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio--all remained more or less
faithful, too, to Orcagna's belief in ornament and pretty accessories;
while all those painters who either carried on or developed the new
spirit in Pisanello's, Ucello's, Masolino's and Masaccio's work--
such men as Pollajuolo, Verrochio, Perugini, Bellini, and ultimately
Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael--all discarded
pretty and seductive accessories, or, when they did use them, made them
completely subordinate to the human element in their work?

The gradual growth in the importance of the human body and of the Pagan
type, in the Renaissance painters, from Masaccio to Michelangelo, with
whom there can no longer be any question of convalescence, the rapid
return to a healthy life-affirming type, and the ultimate triumph of
this type in the very heart of the Vatican--the headquarters of the
greatest negative religion on earth,--these are the facts which make
the art of this age so admirable and so thrilling.

It represents the greatest stand which Europe has ever made against the
denial of life, humanity and beauty; and if some of the artists, like
Pisanello, Piero della Francesca, and ultimately Titian, in their great
zeal, returned to nature with almost as much interest as to man, this
is easily accounted for when it is remembered how long nature and man
had been separated.[31]

But the fact that makes the final glory of the Renaissance type all the
more glorious is the extraordinary circumstance that almost every one
of the artists who fought for it, and for the principles it involved,
from Piero della Francesca to Titian, were one after the other captured
and enchained by the Church itself. Often it was in the very atmosphere
of the high altar, with the fumes of the incense about them, that they
asserted their positive faith in Life and Man. The greatest dangers,
the greatest temptations surrounded them But they planted their
banner, notwithstanding, in the centre of their true enemy's camp,
and, for a while, their true enemy acquiesced, because the command was
in the hands of men who were artists and pagans themselves, and who
consequently did not believe in one single tenet of the negative creed
which they professed.

Just as the realism of some of the early Renaissance artists, however,
was the inevitable outcome of their convalescent state, so the strong
realism of many of the painters and sculptors of the late Renaissance
was the natural result of their combative attitude.

Fighting for a particular kind of man, against centuries of false
and unhealthy tradition, it was necessary to bring forward the new
ideal with every characteristic plainly, emphatically and powerfully
expressed; for every characteristic of a new ideal is of the highest

These new values of the Renaissance spirit were scarcely one hundred
years old, when Michelangelo set himself the task of embodying them in
his sculpture and painting. Would it be fair to criticize him from the
standpoint of Egypt or even of Greece?

From the standpoint of Egypt he is disappointing. The preponderance
of characteristic traits over simplicity in his work spoils the power
of his conceptions. His prevailing lack of simplicity makes you guess
at the youth of the values on which he stood, and his tortuous bodies
often make you question whether his types have entirely left the
nerves of the Gothic period behind them. But are not all these defects
precisely of a kind which are unfortunately inseparable from the
position which Michelangelo assumed?

He was the greatest of the Renaissance artists. In criticizing him, I
have said all that can be said, from this particular standpoint, of his
predecessors and contemporaries. His power lies in the forcibleness,
the exhilaration, the exuberance and the wealth with which he brings
forward his type. It lies in his absolute contempt of seductive
prettiness, his sometimes terrible strength, his vehemence and his
energy, and above all in his magnificent conceptions and the types with
which he illustrates them. Compared with the art from which it had
sprung, his art was stupendous.

And where he is weak, compared with a higher--and by no means a modern
--concept of art, he suffers from the virtues of his position as a
fighter and as an innovator.

In valuing him, as I said in my first lecture, it all depends whence
you come. If you hail from Europe of the nineteenth and twentieth
century, you can but go on your knees before him. If you hail from
Memphis of the year 4000 B.C., you can but criticize and feel ill at
ease before his work.

I have not yet said anything concerning the relation of the Renaissance
artists to Greece, simply because, taking in view the circumstances of
their development, the relation seems fairly obvious. In discussing
the art of Greece itself, however, the matter will probably appear
quite clear to you. How much of the transfiguration in late Renaissance
art is actually due to Greek influence, or to the Dionysian spirit
of the age, it is difficult to determine. In my opinion, the latter
influence was more potent, and to the Greek influence I should be more
prepared to ascribe the spur which originally led to the adoption of a
thoroughly Pagan type.

[29] Kraus, in his _Geschichte der christlichen Kunst_, Vol. II, denies
that the revival of the antique was predominant in the Renaissance,
and argues that individualism and nature study were the prominent
notes. Venturi, the Italian art-historian, declares that the antique
began to be paramount only in the sixteenth century, and that with
it the decadence began. While Eugène Müntz, in his monumental work,
_L'Histoire de l'Art pendant la Renaissance_, Vol. I, p. 42, speaking
of the two movements of the period, says: "Deux voies s'ouvraient aux
novateurs, ou le naturalisme à outrance, un naturalisme qui, n'étant
plus soutenu par les hautes aspirations du moyen âge, risquait fort
de sombrer dans la vulgarité (l'exemple de Paolo Ucello, d'Andrea del
Castagna, de Pollajuolo l'a bien prouvé) ou bien la nature contrôlée,
purifiée, ennoblie par l'étude des modèles anciens." The latter was the
later movement. See also Woltmann and Woermann, _History of Painting_,
Vol. II, Introduction.

[30] Muther, in his _History of Painting_, Vol. I, p. 87, actually
declares that Jan van Eyck and Pisanello in their dainty manner
remained Gothic.

[31] Of Piero della Francesca, Muther says, _op. cit._, Vol. I, p. 97:
"He created the grammar of modern painting.... Four hundred years ago
he proposed the problem of realism, and endeavoured, as the forerunner
of the most modern artists, to establish in what manner atmosphere
changes colour impressions."

Part II

Greece and Egypt

    "The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land
    make thy father and brethren to dwell."--Genesis xlvii. 6.

1. Greek Art.

I have now spoken to you of Christian Art, and you have not been taken
altogether by surprise; because, in England at least, people are not
unacquainted with the fight Art has had with Puritanism. And you were,
therefore, partly prepared for what I had to say. The views I have
expressed concerning the Renaissance were not entirely new to you
either, and, if they were, I can only hope that they will assist you in
giving to the Art of that period its proper valuation. Now, however,
I fear I am going to level a blow at what must seem to you even more
sacred, even more invulnerable and even more thoroughly established
than either Christian or Renaissance Art. I refer to the Art of Greece.

Albeit, before I proceed with my task, do not be surprised if, like
Charles the First's executioner, Brandon, I kneel to kiss the hand
of my victim, if only by so doing I may seem to you to understand
the grave nature of my business, and satisfy you that the blow I am
about to deliver is prompted more by conviction than by that cheap
irreverence for great things which is, alas, only too prevalent to-day.

Goethe says somewhere that, if we find fault with Euripides at all we
should do so on bended knees. It seems to me that this ought also to
be the attitude of people and critics in this age who attempt to value
what the Greeks achieved in the graphic arts. For the earnestness and
vigour wherewith, collectively, they set up their triumphs and ideals
in stone and marble, the moment any opportunity arose for them to
affirm and exalt their type, is deserving of the utmost praise and

Too many great writers have exalted the Greeks, however, to make it
necessary for me to edify you with any long and enthusiastic praise of
those qualities which Nietzsche admired in them.

Fairness alone, therefore, compels me to acknowledge the grandeur
of the type their art advocates. With Nietzsche I can but extol the
yea-saying of this type to the passions, to beauty, to health, in
fact to life. The fearlessness of the Greeks before beauty was their
acknowledgment that life was a blessing to which it was worth while to
be lured and seduced. And their innocent acceptance of the strongest
passions is sufficient to show to what extent they had not only
mastered them, but had also enlisted them into their service.

Nevertheless, though it is only decent to exercise some reserve in this
matter, it certainly is necessary to point to a curious fact in regard
to Greek Art in general, and that is, that, with the exception of some
of its archaic examples, it has been revered with ever-increasing
fervour by strangers, from the second century before Christ to the
present day,--when I say strangers, I mean people whose thought and
aspirations were not necessarily the outcome of Hellenic values,--and
that this general appreciation of Greek Art by foreigners implies that
there is some quality in it which is only too common to everybody and
to anybody, irrespective of nationality and education. If it were asked
what this common factor was, I should reply, it is Nature herself, to
which Greek Art, in its so-called best period, is undeniably in close
and intimate relationship.

In examining the works of the seventh, sixth and fifth centuries
before Christ, it is well to bear in mind the peculiar state of the
country in which they appeared, its division into states, and its mixed
population. It is well to think of the many ideals that dominated these
people, and of the fact that the citizen of one city was often regarded
as an alien, without any political rights whatever, if he ventured to
transfer his abode to another city but a few miles distant from his
own; and allowances should be made for the rivalry and competition this
state of affairs conduced to bring about. It is also well to remember
the individual lives the colonists lived, and the altered outlook on
life to which their independent positions were bound to lead, and
which, when they returned to their mother city, as many of them used to
do, must have shed a new and strange light upon what they saw.

Although a certain uniformity can be traced in the political history
of most Greek states, no one would dare to maintain that the Greeks,
at any time in their history, were a perfectly united people observing
the same values; whilst even in the history of each separate state,
changes occurred so constantly that a stable political type is a rare
and practically negligible fact.

In spite of the many heroes and geniuses which arose from time to time,
there never seems to have been that power, either human or superhuman,
which might have welded these peoples indissolubly together, or which,
taking its root in one of the contending races, could have made that
race completely absorb and digest the others.

Even the games of Greece, which, it might be argued, tended to unite
the various peoples, cannot be said to have gone very far in this
respect, since the very fact that the Hellenic nation enforced a
sacred armistice during the month of the games, between states that
were at war, shows that the most this institution could achieve was a
suspension of arms.

On the whole, therefore, the fact that one can talk of different
types as characteristic of particular schools or ideals is amply
accounted for, and when the general spirit of rivalry that animated
the whole nation for centuries is duly taken into consideration it
is not difficult to explain a certain preponderance of manifold
characteristics over simplicity, which is observable in the greater
part of Greek sculpture--a preponderance which sometimes led very
rapidly to the crudest realism, and which at other times approached
realism only after a considerable lapse of time. Such phenomena are the
inevitable result of that lack of the powerful master or ruler spirit
who unifies and co-ordinates heterogeneity, and who thereby makes
simplification and powerful art possible, as the outcome of relative

For, when technique is largely mastered, realism, as I have shown in
the case of Mediæval and Renaissance Art, may in a great measure be the
outcome of a desire to make one's own particular ideal unmistakably
plain, and although this kind of truth to nature always reveals a
clashing of values or types, it is of a kind which may be regarded as
infinitely superior to the realism which has nothing to say at all, and
which merely copies out of poverty of invention.

When talking to strangers about an ideal they do not share with you,
it is necessary to bring all your powers to bear upon an adequate and
perfectly vivid representation of what you have in your mind.

I, on this platform, assuming that Nietzsche as an art valuer was
strange to you, had to present him to you with all the realism and
detail I could dispose of. If I had been talking to people who knew
the Nietzschean views of art perfectly well, I might have indulged in
certain artistic simplifications and poetical transfigurations which I
considered unsuited to the present circumstances.

This same feeling, I believe, partly explains the tendency to realism
in Greek art. And it is precisely to this tendency to realism that I
think it is now high time to call attention, after all the fulsome
praise which has for ages been lavished upon the products of the
Hellenic spirit.

When you turn to the granite statue of the Egyptian goddess Sekhet in
the Louvre, or to the lions of Gebel Barkal in the Egyptian Gallery
of the British Museum, you are conscious of a sensation of great
strangeness, of humiliating unfamiliarity, of almost incalculable
distance. You may look at these things for a moment and wonder what
they mean; you may even pass on with a feeling of indifference
amounting to scorn;[33] but whatever your sensations are, you will be
quite unable to deny that what you have seen does not belong to your
world, that it is utterly and completely separated from you, and that
you felt in need of a guide and of an initiator in its presence.

You may laugh at the lions of Gebel Barkal, you may deny that they are
beautiful; but, whoever you are, scholar, poet, painter or layman, you
will admit that they are cruelly distant and strange, terribly remote
and uncommunicative.

A. The Parthenon.

Now, if you turn round and bear to the right in the Egyptian Gallery at
the British Museum, you will find a broad passage lined with statues
that seem very much more familiar to you than those which you are just
leaving behind; and, in the distance, you will espy the maimed figures
of the Eastern pediment of the Parthenon. In a moment you will be in
the Elgin Room, and everywhere about you you will see all that remains
of the ancient temple of Athens which is worth seeing.

If you have not been to Athens, you must not suppose that you have
missed much, as far as the Parthenon is concerned. Unless you are very
modern and very romantic, and can take pleasure in visiting a gruesome
ruin by moonlight, you would be only depressed and disappointed by
the decayed and ugly mass of stones that now stands like a battered
skeleton on the Acropolis. You may take it, therefore, that, as
you stand in the Elgin Room, you have around you the best that the
Parthenon could yield after its partial destruction and dismantlement
in 1687 by the victorious Veneto-German army. And what is it that you

Remember that you are a man of the twentieth century A.D., and that you
have just been bored to extinction by a walk in the Egyptian Gallery.
Remember, too, that you have very few fixed opinions about Art, and
that the artistic condition of your continent is one of chaos and

In spite of all this, however, you will walk up to the horse's head at
the extreme right of the Eastern pediment of the Parthenon, and the two
thousand and four hundred years that separate you from it will vanish
as by magic.

For years I have taken men, women and children up to this horse's
head. In some cases these people have been technical connoisseurs of
a horse's points; in others they have been mere bourgeois people,
indifferent both to the art of Greece and to equine anatomy; and with
the children I was concerned with raw manhood that cared not a jot for
Art, and whose one sole, savage instinct was to recognize and classify
what was before them.

If you supposed, however, that the verdict of these different people
was anything but unanimous, you would be vastly mistaken. The children
cried with delight. Their powers of recognizing things was stimulated
to the utmost. One of them told me it was like a real bus-horse. The
connoisseurs of a horse's points began to draw plausible conclusions
from the existing head as to the probable conformation of the body
which the artist had deliberately omitted, and the bourgeois people
declared that they loved the fascinating softness and convincing
looseness of the mouth.--All of them were charmed. All of them
understood. Not one of them felt that this horse held itself aloof from
them and kept its distance, as the austere Egyptian lions had done. And
all of them were children of the twentieth century A.D., and over two
thousand years separated them from the objects they were inspecting.

Their comments on the Parthenon Frieze were much the same. Once or
twice one of them would say that there was a monotonous similarity of
feature in the men and in the horses--a comment which immediately
revealed to me that 2,400 years had indeed wrought some change. On the
whole, however, the attitude of those I escorted amazed me; for, with
but few exceptions, it was one of sympathy and understanding. I will
not say that I did not stimulate their interest a good deal, by making
them feel that their criticism was valuable to me; I will not pretend
that if they had been alone they would have troubled to concentrate
their minds to any great extent upon the exhibits around them; but this
I will affirm, with absolute confidence: that if all the men, women
and children who stream through the Elgin Room daily were given the
same stimulus to exercise their critical faculty, and were similarly
induced to give particular attention to all they saw, the sympathy and
understanding which I observed among the groups of visitors I escorted
would be found to be a fairly general, if not a common occurrence.

[Illustration: The Apollo of Tenea, Glyptothek, Munich.]

B. The Apollo of Tenea.

Take the same people down to the Cast Room and show them the Apollo of
Tenea, and what will they say?

When I first halted before this bewilderingly beautiful statue in the
Glyptothek at Munich, I felt I was in the presence of something very
much more masterful, very much more impressive, and infinitely more
commanding than anything Greek I had ever seen in London, Paris, or

Here was a style which was strange. But it was evidently a style which
was the product of a will, and of a long observance of particular
values that had at last culminated in a type; for this Apollo resembled
nothing modern, Egyptian, Assyrian, Mediæval, or of the Renaissance.

This statue scorns to make a general appeal. It is the apotheosis of
a type. Of this there can be no question. It is the work of a loving
and powerful artist, who could simplify the human frame, and express
stenographically, so to speak, the essential features of the people
he represented, because he knew the essential features to which their
values aspired.

The arms, alone, transcend everything that I have ever seen in Hellenic
Art for consummate skill in transfiguring and retaining bare essentials
alone; and although, here and there, particularly in the breast,
there is a broadness and a sweeping ease, which I admit ought to be
attributed more to incomplete control of essentials than to their
actual simplification, the whole figure breathes a spirit so pure, so
certain and so sound, that it is the nearest approach I can find in
Greek Art to that ideal artistic fact in which the particular values
of a people find their apotheosis in the transfigured and simplified
example of their type.

I would deny that the qualities of this statue are not ultimate
qualities. I would deny that there is anything transitional or archaic
in them. What is archaic, what is transitional, is the weak treatment
of the chest and abdomen. Compared with the simplified chest and
abdomen of an Egyptian statue of the fourth or fifth dynasty, it shows
a minimum rather than a maximum of command of, and superiority over,
reality. Any healthy development of such an art, however, ought only to
have led to greater perfection in the treatment of the parts mentioned,
and I seriously question the general belief that it marks a progress in
sculpture which must ultimately lead to the rendering of the athletic
types for which the sculptors of Argos and Sicyon became famous. There
is something strange and foreign in this statue which does not reappear
in the Hellenic Art of the Periclean age.[34] Like the vases of the
sixth century and some of the ante-Periclean Acropolis statues, there
is a Ruler form in its execution that makes quite a limited appeal--
a fact which would be consistent with its having been the apotheosis
of a type. Its exhortation is not directed at mankind in general. It
communicates little to the modern European, and the crowds that stream
through the Elgin Room of the British Museum would probably pass it by
without either sympathy or understanding.

And yet, as I have shown, it cannot be regarded as a perfect specimen
of Ruler-art; there are too many uncertainties and too many doubts in

As marking an advanced stage in a very high class of Ruler-art,
however, it is magnificent, and any transformation of its form to
greater realism would be a descent, rather than an ascent, in taste.

If you turn from it to the sculptures of the temple of Selinus, which,
as far as one can say, must have been carved not more than about half
a century earlier, you will see that these are indeed archaic. They
are beneath realism in their coarseness and crudity. But it is in the
sculptures of Selinus, and not in the Apollo of Tenea, or in the best
vases of the sixth century, that you must seek the motive spirit of the
Art which has made the Periclean age so glorious; This striving after
realism, although unsuccessful in the metopes of Selinus, reveals a
different aspiration, a totally different will, from that which created
the Munich Apollo, and it was precisely this aspiration that was fully
realized, with but a slight admixture of the other will, in Athens of
the fifth century.

Some will say that Egyptian influence is apparent in the Apollo of
Tenea, and they will add that the Greek colonists in Selinus, finding
themselves in very close contact with their commercial rivals the
Phœnicians, very naturally scorned all Eastern canons and ideas when
erecting their temples.

Both of these suggestions are perfectly legitimate. The Apollo of
Tenea either betrays Egyptian influence or, owing to its Ruler form,
it takes one's mind back involuntarily to the Ruler-art of the Nile.
The sculptures of Selinus may also be the outcome of the conscious
renunciation of Eastern influence, or they may be the manifestation of
a particular "Art-Will," as Worringer has it, which aimed at realism
and was quite guiltless of any other ulterior motive. In both cases
I favour the latter alternative, and I should like to believe that
in addition to the influences I have already mentioned in respect
of realism there were two Art-Wills active in ancient Greece--each
striving for supremacy and power.

C. The two Art-Wills of Ancient Greece.

I cannot see how any one rising from a study of Hellenic Art can arrive
at any other conclusion. A superior will aiming at a Ruler-art form is
the one, an inferior will aiming at realism is the other. And it is a
significant fact, that while the first will sent forth its last blooms
in the sixth century--a period when, according to Freeman, Hellenic
life readied its zenith,[35] the ultimate triumphs of the other and
inferior will, in the fifth century, marks the first stage in a decline
that was never to be arrested.[36]

[Illustration: The Medusa Metope of Sellinus, Palermo.]

This is not the usual view, I know. As a rule, the art of the age of
Pericles is considered to be the highest that Greece ever produced.
But in this art I see a preponderance of realism which reveals to what
extent the other and inferior will was beginning to prevail. And when I
study Hellenistic art, and see this evil assuming such proportions as
to make even modern historians and Art-scholars deliberately denounce
it, I cannot help but recognize the germs of this decay in the art
which hitherto has been most praised and admired.

As I say, I am judging purely from the artistic records. But I have no
doubt that, if I possessed the necessary scholarship, I could trace
the two Art-wills to two distinct races of men who, from the days of
the fall of Mycenæan culture, strove for mastership in Greece. I also
entertain no doubts that the fall of Greece might be attributed to the
gradual triumph of that race which possessed the inferior Art-will, and
nothing I have read, either in Grote, Bury, Oman, Curtius, Schnaase,
Miss Harrison and others, has led me seriously to hesitate before
suggesting this hypothesis.

Professor Ridgeway's Early Age of Greece leads me to suppose that
the problem might be solved in the way I suggest. But, in any case,
whether this is so or not, the style of the art of Pheidias shows
a descent from the style of the Apollo of Tenea, which only an age
with a mistaken conception of what art really is could possibly have

The art of the fifth and fourth centuries, I will not and cannot deny,
contains a large proportion of Ruler form, or what modern and ancient
art-historians call the "ideal."[37] No people, any portion of which
had been capable of producing the Apollo of Tenea, could have avoided
it; but that it preponderates in realism, the evidence of history,
alone, apart from that of our own senses, proves beyond a doubt.

The appreciation which it has met with at the hands of almost all
Europeans of all ages, and particularly at the hands of the Renaissance
realists, shows how general its appeal has been; and no art which has
been so very much above Nature as to apotheosize the particular values
of a particular people at its zenith, has ever made such a general

D. Greek Painting.

In regard to the painting of Greece, I will not detain you long.
Practically all I have said in regard to Greek sculpture may be applied
with equal force to Greek painting, and I cannot do better than sum
up this side of the question with the words of that profound Japanese
artist Okakura-Kakuzo.

In speaking of the great style of the Greeks, in painting--a style
which vanished with the sixth century,--he says--

"The great style of the Greeks in painting--that style which was
theirs before a stage chiaroscuro and imitation of Nature were brought
in by the Appellesian school,--rises up before us with ineffaceable
regret ... and we cannot refrain from saying that European work, by
following the later school, has lost greatly in power of structural
composition and line expression, though it has added to the facility of
realistic representation."[38]

When it is remembered that the demands of theatrical scenery are
generally admitted to have exercised considerable influence over
Greek painting, we need feel no surprise at the necessarily vulgar
nature of its ultimate development; while in raising this point about
chiaroscuro, Okakura-Kakuzo really opens a very serious and needful

It may be seriously questioned whether the chiaroscuro which
Apollodorus is said to have introduced in the fifth century was not the
worst possible blow that has ever been levelled at Ruler-Art, and it is
difficult to separate this discovery from the people who made it.

Once it is recognized that chiaroscuro implies a blending of colours
together, an elimination of all those sharp contrasts which the
compromising spirit of a democratic age cannot abide, and a general
hugging and embracing of all colours by each other, at the cost of the
life of all definite lines; once it is acknowledged, moreover, that all
gradations and blurred zones of contact lead inevitably to the very
worst forms of Police Art, such as Zeuxis, Parrhasius and Timanthus
practised, and that escape from realism is not only difficult,
but almost impossible under such conditions, the question whether
Apollodorus is to be praised or cursed becomes a very weighty and vital
one; and in saying that he ought to be cursed, I make a very important
statement, however unreasonable it may seem to you at present.

You have noticed that until now I have not compared the Periclean art
of Greece with the art of any other country, but simply with what
is generally called the archaic art of Greece itself. I have spoken
Only of the Apollo of Tenea, and of certain promising features in the
sixth-century sculptures which were discovered on the Acropolis within
recent years.

[32] See Edward A. Freeman, _The Chief Periods of European History_, p.
6: "The mission of the Greek race was to be the teachers, the beacons,
of mankind, but not their rulers." Page 9: "The tale of Hellas shows us
a glorified ideal of human powers, held up to the world for a moment to
show what man can be, but to show us also that such he cannot be for

[33] The attitude of such men as Lübke and Winckelmann to Egyptian art
is typical of the lack of understanding with which modern Europeans
have approached the monuments of the Nile. See _History of Sculpture_,
by Dr. Wilhelm Lübke, Vol. I, pp. 22-25, and _History of Ancient Art_,
by John Winckelmann, Vol. I, pp. 169, 171, 175.

[34] This view seems quite opposed to that of a great authority on the
subject, Mr. A. S. Murray; but how this author comes to the conclusion
that "... in describing the progress of sculpture from its early days
to its highest development, it is convenient to speak of it as a
gradual elimination of realism," I am quite at a loss to understand.
See _A History of Greek Sculpture_, p. 239.

[35] See _The Chief Periods of European History_, pp. 21-23. See also
Bury, _History of Greece_, Chaps. IV and V.

[36] In studying the actual decline of Greek art it would, I think, be
very necessary to lay some stress upon the part taken by the people
in general, in judging and criticizing artistic productions under the
democracies. See Rev. J. Mahaffy (_Social Life in Greece_), who is
talking entirely from the Hellenic standpoint, p. 440: "The really
vital point was the public nature of the work they (the Athenian Demos)
demanded; it was not done to please private and peculiar taste, it was
not intended for the criticism of a small clique of partial admirers,
but it was set up, or performed for all the city together, for the
fastidious, for the vulgar, for the learned, and for the ignorant. It
seems to me that this necessity, and the consequent broad intention of
the Greek artist, is the main reason _why its effects upon the world
has never been diminished, and why its lessons are eternal_" (the
italics are mine).

[37] T. G. Tucker, in his _Life in Ancient Greece_, does his best
to reconcile the realism of Greek art with the "ideal," and helps
himself out of the difficulty by reasserting Schelling's claim in
_The Philosophy of Art_ (see note to p. 91 in this book). Mr. Tucker
says, p. 186: "Many people imagine that Greek sculpture--to take that
salient province again--deliberately avoided truth to Nature, and aimed
at some utterly conventional thing called the ideal. Nothing could be
more mistaken. The whole aim of Greek sculpture was to reproduce the
living man or woman, and the sublime of its execution was attained only
when the carving seemed instinct with life--a life not merely of the
limbs, but a life of the soul, which informed the countenance, and was
felt to be controlling every limb. A Greek sculptor like Praxiteles
studied long and lovingly.... To anatomy he is as true as an artist
need wish to be. But are not his figures ideal? Doubtless, but what
does 'ideal' mean? That they are abstract, conventional, or frankly
superhuman? Anything but that. It means simply that he carves figures
which, while entirely true to strict anatomy, entirely lifelike in
all their delicate modelling ... are examples of nature in happiest

[38] _Ideals of the East_, p. 53.

2. Egyptian Art.--A. King Khephrën.

If, however, I now choose to compare the art of the Temple of Zeus at
Olympia, and the Parthenon at Athens[39] with that of Egypt, the first
falls absolutely to pieces. If I walk from the lions of Gebel Barkal,
which Reginald Stuart Poole considers as the "finest example of the
idealization of animal forms that any age has produced,"[40] over to
the horses of the Parthenon, the latter seem poor, feeble, and slavish
beside the powerfully simplified and commanding work of Egypt. And if,
with vivid recollections of the diorite statue of King Khephrën at
Cairo, I walk up to the best Greek work of the Periclean age, or after,
either in London or Paris, I marvel at the denseness of an age which
can put the Egyptian Pharaoh second in the order of rank.

[Illustration: King Khephrën, Cairo Museum]

We now know too much to believe that the noble simplicity of King
Khephrën--the builder of the second pyramid of Gizeh--is the result
of incompetence or of limited means in dealing with the stone out
of which he was carved. No artist who follows the careful lines and
profiles of this statue, and who understands the broad grasp with
which each undulation, however sweeping, comprehends and comprises all
that is essential and indispensable, can doubt for an instant that the
sculptor who carved it was not only capable of realism, but infinitely
superior to it. And he who does not admire the consummate Ruler form
of this statue, and see in it the expression of the greatest artistic
power that has ever existed on earth, and probably the portrait of the
greatest human power that has ever existed on earth, confesses himself,
immediately, unfamiliar with the fundamental spirit of great art.[41]

The type of King Khephrën it is quite impossible to admire and to
like, unless one is to some extent in sympathy with his ideals and his
aspirations. His features will remain strange and quite inscrutable
as long as one does not feel one's self leaning, however slightly, to
his side, in thought and emotion; but the masterly treatment of his
apotheosized portrait by a man who was probably his greatest artist,
ought to be apparent to all who have thought and meditated upon the
question of what constitutes the greatest art.

Here is to be seen that autocratic mode of expression which brooks
neither contradiction nor disobedience; the Symmetry which makes the
spectator obtain a complete grasp of an idea; the Sobriety which
reveals the restraint that a position of command presupposes; the
Simplicity proving the power of a great mind that has overcome the
chaos in itself and has reflected its order and harmony upon an object,
the most essential features of which it has selected with unfailing
accuracy; the Transfiguration that betrays the Dionysian ecstasy and
pathos from which the artist gives of himself to reality and makes
it reflect his own glory back upon him; the Repetition which ensures
obedience, and finally the Variety which is the indispensable condition
of all living Art.[42]

For the artist who carved this monument was no coward. His duty was to
surpass the beauty of the most beautiful subject on earth in his time.
This man whom he has bequeathed to us in stone was not only a king, but
a god, and none but the most masterful mind, none but the most ultimate
product of ages spent in the observance of a definite and particular
set of values, could have been capable of giving this simplified
rendering, this selection of essentials, of a man-god who was the
highest outcome of these same values.

How was this possible? How were these values maintained so long?

In the first place, it can now be affirmed with confidence that the
Egyptians, in the days of Khephrën, were a very pure and united race,
having remained, thanks to their isolated position on the Delta of
the Nile, aloof and free from the ethical and blood influence of the
foreigner for probably thousands of years. Secondly, everybody seems to
agree that, whatever its ultimate purity may have been, the Egyptian
people, thanks to the inordinate power of their values, certainly had
a capacity for absorbing and digesting foreign elements which was
simply extraordinary;[43] and, thirdly, we have it on the authority
of Wilkinson that "the superiority of their legislation has always been
acknowledged as the cause of the duration of an empire which lasted
with a very uniform succession of hereditary sovereigns, and with the
same form of government for a much longer period than the generality of
ancient states."[44]

We can understand King Khephrën, then, only as the apotheosis of a type
which was the product of the values of his people. For that they loved
him and worshipped him quite willingly and quite heartily, no honest
student of their history can any longer doubt.

It was with great rejoicings, and not, as Buckle and Spencer thought,
with the woeful and haggard faces of ill-used slaves, that his people
assembled annually to continue and to complete the building of his
pyramid. Dr. Henry Brugsch-Bey, Wilkinson, Dr. Petrie,[45] and
many others have cleared up all our doubts on this point, and only
an Englishman like Buckle,[46] who could not divorce labour from the
modern idea of sweating, and absolute monarchy from the modern idea of
cruelty, and slavery from the modern idea of brutality,[47] was able
to think otherwise.

For it was highly probable that King Khephrën had no standing army. It
is certain that his predecessor had not.[48] It is even probable that
he had no armed bodyguard. What, then, was the power which, every year,
could muster thousands of his fellow-countrymen about him, and which
induced them cheerfully to undertake this most strenuous, this most
skilful, and this most highly artistic labour for him?

This power, there can no longer be any doubt, was the power of
affection and profound and sincere reverence. An examination of the
pyramids of Gizeh, alone, apart from all historical evidence, is
sufficient to convince any one who has any knowledge of what forced
labour produces, that love was very largely active in the work of
these Egyptians of the third and fourth dynasties;[49] and, if we turn
from the actual monuments themselves to the sculpture that adorned
them, we become convinced that the people who built them were a united,
law-abiding race, who recognized in Khephrën the highest product of
their values. And yet, that enormous power was wielded by this one
man-god, is proved by every detail that history and the archæological
records have handed down to us. He was the remote predecessor of a king
who one day would be able to declare--

"I teach the priests what is their duty: I turn away the ignorant man
from his ignorance.... The gods are full of delight in my time, and
their temples celebrate feasts of joy. I have placed the boundaries of
the land of Egypt at the horizon. I gave protection to those who were
in trouble, and smote those who did evil against them. I placed Egypt
at the head of all the nations, because its inhabitants are at one with
me in the worship of Amon!"[50]

He was a man the moral standards of whose people were in many respects
higher than those of the Greeks;[51] he and his subjects felt very strongly
the value of strength of character and of self-control;[52] though perhaps
they laid "greater stress upon discretion and quietness than on any
qualities of character. In the repudiation of sins an Egyptian would
say: 'My mouth hath not run on;' 'My mouth hath not been hot;' 'My
voice hath not been voluble in my speech;' 'My voice is not loud.'"[53]

"Ptahotep urged similar discreetness; he said: 'Let thy heart be
overflowing, but let thy mouth be restrained.'"[54] While another Egyptian
moralist said: "Do not be a talker!"[55]

Thus we find all the evidences of precisely that principle which goes
to rear a great people--the belief that restraint is necessary,
and part of the art of life, and that in order to have one group of
advantages, another group must be sacrificed.

For this is the principle of all great legislation; it is the principle
of all great art,--and it is the principle of all great life.

A great legislator has to discover what sacrifices his people can
afford to make, what things they will be able for ever to discard in
order to reap the advantages of a certain mode of life. His teaching
must include restraint. It is the renunciation of some things and the
careful cultivation of others that builds up a noble type. As Mr.
Chesterton once observed, with really uncustomary wisdom, you cannot
be King of England and the Beadle of Balham at the same time. To be
the one you must sacrifice the advantages which are associated with
the other. All values, all art,[56] and all life is based upon this
principle--that if you grasp all, you lose all; or, as Nietzsche
has it: "The belief in the pleasure which comes of restraint--this
pleasure of a rider on a fiery steed."[57]

You may argue that the enjoyment of one set of joys is better in your
opinion than the enjoyment of another set; but you cannot claim the
enjoyment of all; that is impossible. It is only among an uncultured
or democratic people that every one aspires to all pleasures, and it
is precisely among such a people that some form of Puritanism becomes
an urgent need--that is to say, as a substitute for the art of life.[58]
Because the indiscriminate pursuit of all joys perforce ends in
failure, and therefore in unhappiness. But measure is the delight only
of æsthetic natures;[59] hence, where the art of living has not yet been
learned, some kind of severe puritanical morality will be a condition
of existence, and if that is dropped excesses will soon begin to make
their presence felt.

I do not wish you to imagine, therefore, that the Egyptians were an
austere, ascetic and self-castigating race; on the contrary, as all
authorities declare, they were full of the joy of life and of the
love of life;[60] and it was precisely because they recognized
well-defined limits in particular things that they could allow
themselves a certain margin in others.

In the art of Egypt I recognized this principle of restraint, long
before I discovered that it existed in their life and system of
society, and I was not surprised to find it observed with greater
severity by their rulers than by the mass of the people themselves.[61]

No one can command who has not first learnt to obey his own will.
Nobody could command as that Man-God Khephrën commanded,[62] before
he had become complete master of himself.

"He who cannot command himself shall obey," says Zarathustra.[63] And about
five thousand years ago Ptahotep--the great moralist of the fifth
dynasty of Egypt--said: "He that obeyeth his heart, shall command!"[64]

This atmosphere is strange to us. We, who are used to seeing liberty
and authority granted indiscriminately as ends in themselves, to
everybody and anybody, find it difficult to realize this manner of
thought. If we know of it at all, we misunderstand it and confound the
moderation of weak natures with the restraint of the strong.[65]

This art of life which takes as a fundamental principle that every joy
is bought by some sacrifice, is strange and archaic now. The people it
reared communicate little to our age, as their statues will prove if
you look at them; the art it created leaves modern spectators cold;
and yet, as every great legislator and artist should know, it is
precisely upon the principle with which the Egyptian people of the
fourth dynasty were reared, and with which the splendid statue of King
Khephrën was carved, that all great life and art repose.

It cannot be said too often, therefore, that the Egyptians were a happy
and contented people, and this they were because there was some power
abroad in their world, and because he who wielded that power could make
them believe that the human race was as high as a pyramid, although but
one man perhaps could ever represent the apex.

B. The Lady Nophret.

But you may object that in some of the works of this period the
Egyptian artists showed a lack of restraint, a lack of the instinct
that knows how much to sacrifice, which far surpassed this same vice
in the art of the Greeks. You may point to the perfectly stupendous
realism of the Lady Nophret and her husband or brother, and declare
with Fergusson that "nothing more wonderfully truthful and realistic
has been done since that time, till the invention of photography."[66]

[Illustration: The Lady Nophret (Cairo Museum)]

I confess that when I drew near to these statues in the Museum at
Cairo, it is no exaggeration to say that I was literally startled by
their lifelike appearance. Like Miss Jane Harrison, I felt that the
"Lady Nophret," at least, must be able to rise and come forward,[67] so
ridiculously fresh and warm did she appear in her spotless white dress
and her majestic wig. I soon realized that I was in the presence of a
kind of realism which transcended anything I had ever seen in ancient
or modern art, for its convincingness and truth; and it was difficult
to believe that this piece of wholesale deception--certainly more
perfect than any waxwork figure I had ever known,--like the statue of
the Man-God Khephrën, was a product of the pyramid period.

You must not gather, from what I have just said, that the Lady Nophret
is in the slightest degree as vulgar or as commonplace as an ordinary
waxwork figure or modern portrait. Though its vitality cannot be
denied,[68] there are artistic qualities in the simple moulding of the
figure which place it very much higher than the realistic work either
of ancient Greece or of modern Europe. It is only beside the statue
of King Khephrën that it appears so weak; and, as it is almost a
contemporary of this magnificent person, the manner in which it has
been presented to us by the artist seems to be a problem.

The first lesson it teaches you is this--that whatever you may think
about the conventionalism of King Khephrën, such conventionalism has
nothing whatever to do with archaic clumsiness, inability to see
Nature, or incompetence. It is clear that the Egyptians were greater
masters in rendering nature realistically than any people before or
after them.[69] If they had not been, they could never have produced
the portrait-statues of the architect Ti; the two portrait-statues of
Ranofir, priest of Ptah of Memphis, and that of the Scribe and of the
Cheikh-el-Beled[70]--all in the museum at Cairo.

When they are not realistic, then, it is because they do not wish to
be; it is because they deliberately desire to rise above nature, to
transfigure it, simplify it, and arrange it--in fact, to be artists.

What, then, was the object of these realistic portrait-statues about
which I have chosen to speak collectively in my references to the Lady

They were never intended by the artist who made them to be seen by the
eye of man. They were never intended to be works of Ruler-art, set up
to emphasize and underline the values of a people. They had a definite
purpose, of course, but this purpose was quite foreign to that of Art
as I defined it in my last lecture. What was this purpose?

It was related to Death.[71] No realistic sculptural work was
associated with Life by the ancient Egyptians. As men who were still
able to believe in a Man-God, and were still convinced of the power
of man-wrought miracles, how could they associate realism or that
principle of manufacture whereby a man deliberately suppresses his
will to art and makes himself subservient to nature--how could they
associate this with Life,--Life which to these dwellers on the Nile
was inextricably bound up with the hand, the thought, the will, and the
power of man?

No--these realistic sculptures which throw all our puerile Police Art
into the shade were associated not with Life, but with the opposite of
Life--with Death, with underground tombs and sarcophagi, with mummies
and musty mastabas, and with the hope of conquering Eternal Sleep.

The Egyptians believed that a living man consisted of a body, a Ka or
ghost, and a Ba or soul. At death, the Ka and Ba were supposed to be
liberated; but it was hoped that a day would nevertheless come when the
Ka, which was the element in which the life of the deceased person was
specially believed to reside, would come back to the body and effect
its resurrection. Hence the care with which a body was embalmed and
preserved from putrefaction.

Accidents, however, might happen, thought the ancient Egyptians. The
embalmed mummy might perish, it might be destroyed. What would the
unfortunate Ka do, if it returned and found the mummy of its former
body annihilated? A way out of this difficulty quickly occurred to the
nimble minds of these imaginative people. If the mummy had perished,
they thought, the Ka might possibly enter an effigy of its former
body, provided that effigy were sufficiently lifelike. In this way the
realistic Ka-statues were introduced, and for fear lest even these
might perish, wealthy people would sometimes multiply their number to
what would seem a ridiculous extent.

Once they were manufactured, these Ka-statues would be placed far away
from the sight of living man, in the tomb of the departed person, and
in this way his resurrection was supposed to be ensured.[72]

For the Egyptians could imagine no world better than their own. And
even a resurrection could but occur amid surroundings which were as
like as possible to those of everyday life on earth.

The realism of the Ka-statue of the Lady Nophret, therefore, need
not frighten us. On the contrary, it only helps to throw the
transfiguration and power of King Khephrën's diorite statue into
greater relief. The Egyptians knew perfectly well that a Ka-statue was
only a duplication, a copy, and a repetition of reality, and they knew
also that its proper place was underground and out of sight.[73]
If Lady Nophret and her companion Ka-statues had never been found,
however, we might have believed, as many have believed, that the
conventionalism of Egyptian sculpture was beneath instead of very much
above Nature.

But even when we know what we do know, it is only with the utmost
difficulty that an artist who is a child of this weak and impotent age
can feel any love for these strange, transcendentally powerful, and
almost superhuman figures in granite and diorite which the sculptors
of Egypt have left us. The artist may perhaps get nearer to them than
any one else in his age, because he, by virtue of the modicum of
creative power that is in him, initiates himself almost automatically
into the mysteries of this great Egyptian simplicity, order, and
transfiguration. But others who are not artists can only pass them by.
For these figures are the apotheosis of a particular type. They are
what all art should be, a stimulus, and a spur to a life based upon a
definite set of values. How, then, could people stop and admire them
who are living under values which are possibly the very reverse of
those which this art advocates, or under no definite values at all?

The style of the statue of King Khephrën, with but a few modifications,
was the style of all Egyptian statuary until the days of Psammetichus,
over two thousand years later: how can we, the changeable and restless
children of Europe, understand these things?

C. The Pyramid.

How can we admire and understand even the symbol of King Khephrën's
social organization--the Pyramid, when we know and love only the level

The Pyramid, which in its form embodies all the highest qualities of
great art, and all the highest principles of a healthy society, is the
greatest artistic achievement that has been discovered hitherto.

This symbolic wedlock of Art and Sociology still stands, with all its
six thousand years of age, on the threshold of the desert--that is
to say, on the threshold of chaos and disorder, where none but the
wind attempts to shape and to form; and reminds us of a master will
that once existed and set its eternal stamp upon the face of the world
in Egypt, so that posterity might learn whether mankind had risen or

In its synthesis of the three main canons, simplicity, repetition and
variety,[74] nothing has ever excelled it; in its mystic utterance
of the conditions of the ideal state, in which every member takes his
place and ultimately succeeds in holding highest man uppermost and
nearest the sun, it is unparalleled in history; and in its sacred
revelation that Man can attain to some height if he chooses, that
he can believe in Man the God, and Man the Hierophant, and Man the
Prophet, if he chooses, and that he can be noble, happy, lasting and
powerful in so doing--in this treble advocacy of these sublime ideals,
the pyramid and the Egyptians who created it stand absolutely alone in
the history of the world.

The best in Greece was borrowed from them; the best we still possess is
perhaps but a faint after-glow of their setting sun, and the cold and
unfamiliar tone in which their art seems to appeal to modern men ought
to prove to us how remote, how incalculably far off, they are from
our insignificant age of progress and advancement, of feebleness and
mediocrity, and of hopeless errors, in which "the prince proposes, but
the shopkeeper disposes!"[75]

I cannot go into the details of their society with you now. I can but
assure you that the more you read about it in the works of men like
Wilkinson, Petrie and Brugsch-Bey, the more convinced you will become
of its transcendental superiority. And if, in praising their art above
that of any other nation, I have been forced to deal all too hastily
with their morals and their State, it is simply because I can conceive
of no such perfect art being possible, save as the flower of the noble
and man-exalting values which I find at the base of the Egyptian

In identifying Nietzsche's art canon with that admired and respected
by Egypt at its best, I have done nothing at all surprising to those
who know Nietzsche's philosophy. Everything he says on Art in his
maturest work, _The Will to Power_, drove me inevitably, not to Italy,
not to Greece, not to Holland, and not to India--but to the Valley
of the Nile; while in two books already published I forestalled these
lectures, in one respect, by declaring Nietzsche's ideal aristocratic
state to have been based symbolically upon the idea of the Egyptian

Only a romantic idealist would have the sentimental fanaticism to stand
up before you now to preach an Egyptian Renaissance. I wish to do
nothing of the sort. I know too well to what extent the Art of Egypt
was the product of a people reared by a definite set of inviolable
values, to hope to transplant it with any chance of success on to our
democratic and anarchical soil. What I do wish to advocate, however,
is, that when you think of the best in Art, your mind should go back to
the severe and vigorous culture of Egypt and not to that of any other

This will at least give you a standard of measurement, according to
which most of the culture of the present day will strike you as tawdry
and putrescent. In this way a salutary change may be brought about, and
the words of Disraeli concerning the Egyptians may also come true, in
which he said: "The day may yet come when we shall do justice to the
high powers of that mysterious and imaginative people."[76]

Nothing can be done, however, until our type is purified,[77] until we have
at least become a people. For until that time it will be impossible to
discover a type which may become the subject-matter of the graphic arts.

"Upwards life striveth to build itself with columns and stairs: into
remote distances it longeth to gaze: and outwards after blissful
beauties--_therefore_ it needeth height!

"And because it needeth height, it needeth stairs and contradiction
between stairs, and those who can climb! to rise striveth life, and in
rising to surpass itself!

"Verily, he who here towered aloft his thought in stone knew as well as
the wisest ones about the secret of life!

"That there is struggle and inequality even in beauty and war for power
and supremacy: that doth he here teach us in the plainest parable.

"Thus spake Zarathustra."[78]

[39] I am quite willing with Mr. Gardner to acknowledge the superiority
of the latter over the former. See _Handbook to Greek Sculpture_, p.
216 _et seq._

[40] _Encyclopædia Britannica_ (9th Edition), Article, "Egypt."

[41] See Dr. Petrie, _A History of Egypt_. On page 54 of this book,
the author says, speaking of King Khephrën: "It is a marvel of art;
the precision of the expression combining what a man should be to win
our feelings, and what a King should be to command our regard. The
subtlety shown in this combination of expression--the ingenuity in the
over-shadowing hawk, which does not interfere with the front view; the
technical ability in executing this in so resisting a material--all
unite in fixing our regard on this as one of the leading examples of
ancient art."

[42] Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez, _A History of Art in Ancient
Egypt_, Vol. II, p. 239: "The true originality of the Egyptian style
consists in its deliberately epitomizing that upon which the artists
of other countries have elaborately dwelt--in its lavishing all its
executive powers upon chief masses and leading lines, and in the
marvellous judgment with which it seizes their real meaning, their
proportion, and the sources of their artistic effect."

[43] _A History of Egypt_, by Dr. Henry Brugsch-Bey, Vol. I, p. 7:
"Although in so long a space of time as sixty centuries, events and
revolutions of great historical importance must of necessity have
altered the political state of Egypt, yet, notwithstanding all, the old
Egyptian race has undergone but little change; for it still preserves
to this day those distinctive features of physiognomy, and those
peculiarities of manners and customs, which have been handed down to
us by the united testimony of the monuments and the accounts of the
ancient classical writers, as the hereditary characteristics of this

[44] _The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians_, Vol. I, p. 293.

[45] _A History of Egypt_, p. 40: "It is said that a hundred
thousand men were levied for three months at a time (i.e. during
the three months of the inundation, when ordinary labour would be
at a standstill); and on this scale the pyramid building occupied
twenty years." [He is speaking of the Great Pyramid built by Kheops,
Khephrën's predecessor; but this does not affect my contention.] "On
reckoning number and weight of the stones, this labour would fully
suffice for the work. The skilled masons had large barracks, now behind
the second pyramid, which might hold even four thousand men; but
perhaps a thousand would quite suffice to do all the fine work in the
time. Hence there was no impossibility in the task, and no detriment
to the country in employing a small proportion of the population at a
season when they were all idle by the compulsion of natural causes. The
training and skill which they would acquire by such work would be a
great benefit to the national character."

And the same writer says in _The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh_, p.
211: "Thus we see that the traditional accounts that we have of the
means employed in building the great Pyramid, require conditions of
labour supply which are quite practicable in such a land, which would
not be ruinous to the prosperity of the country, or oppressive to the
people, and which would amply and easily suffice for the execution of
their work."

[46] _History of Civilization in England_ (Ed. 1871), Vol. I, pp. 90,
91, 92, 93. And Herbert Spencer's _Autobiography_, Vol. II, pp. 341-343.

[47] Quite typical of Western inability to understand the basis of a
patriarchal government, and of the misinterpretation of such a form,
which writers like Buckle did their best to increase and spread, was
the first Act of the play _Fallen Idols_, recently presented at His
Majesty's Theatre, London, in which Egyptian slaves were seen cringing
and crawling before an inhuman taskmaster, who continually lashed out
at them with a big whip.

[48] Fergusson, _History of Architecture_, Vol. I, p. 95: "Nor is our
wonder less when we ask ourselves how it happened that such a people
became so strongly organized at that early age as to be willing to
undertake the greatest architectural works the world has since seen
in honour of one man from among themselves. A king without an army,
and with no claim, so far as we can see, to such an honour, beyond the
common consent of all, which could hardly have been attained except by
the title of long-inherited services acknowledged by the community at
large." And on p. 94, speaking of the pictures in the Great Pyramid,
the author says: "On these walls the owner of the tomb is usually
represented seated, offering first-fruits on a simple table-altar to
an unseen god. He is generally accompanied by his wife, and surrounded
by his stewards, who enumerate his wealth in horned cattle, in oxen,
in sheep and goats, in geese and ducks. In other pictures some are
ploughing and sowing, some reaping or thrashing out corn, while others
are tending his tame monkeys or cranes, and other domesticated pets.
Music and dancing add to the circle of domestic enjoyments, and fowling
and fishing occupy his days of leisure. No sign of soldiers or of
warlike strife appears in any of these pictures, no arms, no chariots
or horses. No camels suggest foreign travel."

[49] I should like to reproduce here Fergusson's enthusiastic account
of the work in the interior of the Great Pyramid. I have not space,
however, and earnestly recommend readers to refer to it on pp. 93, 94
of Vol. I in his _History of Architecture_.

[50] Dr. Henry Brugsch-Bey, _History of Egypt under the Pharaohs_, Vol.
I, pp. 444-445.

[51] Dr. Petrie, _Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt_, p. 86.

[52] _Ibid._, p. 112.

[53] _Ibid._, p. 116.

[54] Dr. Petrie, _Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt_, p. 116.

[55] _Ibid._, p. 117. This moralist was Any.

[56] _G. E._, p. 107: "Every artist knows how different from the
state of letting himself go, is his 'most natural' condition, the
free arranging, locating, disposing and constructing in the moments
of 'inspiration'--and how strictly and delicately he then obeys a
thousand laws, which, by their very rigidness and precision, defy all
formulation by means of ideas."

[57] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 309.

[58] See Nietzsche's remarks on the great need of Christianity in
England, _G. E._, p. 211.

[59] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 309.

[60] See Brugsch-Bey, _A History of Egypt_, Vol. I, p. 25; Wilkinson,
_The Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians_, Vol. I, p. 156;
Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez, _A History of Art in Ancient
Egypt_, p. 38; Dr. Petrie, _Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt_,
p. 162.

[61] See Wilkinson, Vol. I, p. 179.

[62] See _Ibid._, p. 167. Where he is speaking of the Pharaohs he says:
"By the practice of justice towards their subjects, they secured to
themselves that good-will which was due from children to a parent ...
and this, Diodorus observes, was the main cause of the duration of the
Egyptian state."

[63] _Z._, III, LVI.

[64] Dr. Petrie, _Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt_, p. 120.

[65] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 309.

[66] _History of Architecture_, Vol. I, p. 95.

[67] Miss Jane Harrison, _Introductory Studies in Greek Art_, p. 6.

[68] Dr. Petrie, _A History of Egypt_, p. 35. Referring to the Lady
Nophret and her husband, the author says (speaking quite in the style
of a modern art-critic): "These statues are most expressive, and stand
in their vitality superior to the works of any later age in Egypt."

[69] On the walls of some of the tombs I inspected at Sakarah, the
consummate mastery with which some of the minutest characteristics of
domestic animals were represented in bold outline gave me a standard
by the side of which even M. Boutet de Monvel's beautiful studies of
animals seemed to fall into the shade. (See his illustrations to La
Fontaine's fables.)

[70] Models of the Scribe and of the Cheikh-el-Beled are to be seen at
the British Museum; but they give one but a poor idea of the originals.

[71] Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez, _A History of Art in Ancient
Egypt_, Vol. II, p. 181. Speaking of these portrait statues, they say:
"They were not ideal figures to which the desire for beauty of line
and expression had much to say; they were stone bodies, bodies which
had to reproduce all the individual contours of their flesh-and-blood
originals; when the latter was ugly, its reproduction had to be ugly
also, and ugly in the same way."

[72] See Georges Perrot and Charles Chipiez, _A History of Art in
Ancient Egypt_, Vol. II, p. 181. Speaking of the arrangements which
were necessary to enable the inhabitants of the tomb to resist
annihilation, the authors say: "Those arrangements were of two kinds, a
provision of food and drink, which had to be constantly renewed, either
in fact or by the magic multiplication which followed prayer, and a
permanent support for the Ka or double, a support that should fill the
place of the living body of which it had been deprived by dissolution."

[73] Okakura-Kakuzo passes a funny remark in regard to our modern
realistic portraits; he says: "In Western houses we are often
confronted with what appears to us useless reiteration. We find it
trying to talk to a man while his full-length portrait stares at us
from behind his back. We wonder which is real, he of the picture, or
he who talks, and feel a curious conviction that one of them must be a
fraud."--The Book of Tea, p. 97.

[74] See Hogarth, _The Analysis of Beauty_ (Ed. 1753), p. 21: "There
is no object composed of straight lines that has so much variety, with
so few parts, as the pyramid: and it is its constantly varying from
its base gradually upwards in every situation of the eye (without
giving the idea of sameness as the eye moves round it) that has made
it esteemed in all ages, in preference to the cone, which in all views
appears nearly the same, being varied only by light and shade."

[75] _Z._, III, LI.

[76] Contarini Fleming.

[77] _W. P._, Vol. II, p. 318: "Purification of taste can only be the
result of strengthening of the type;" and p. 403: "Progress is the
strengthening of the type, the ability to exercise great will power;
everything else is a misunderstanding and a danger."

[78] _Z._, II, XXIX.

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