Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: William Morris to Whistler - Papers and addresses on art and craft and the commonweal.
Author: Crane, Walter
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "William Morris to Whistler - Papers and addresses on art and craft and the commonweal." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Other Works by Walter Crane


  _Crown 8vo, 6s. net each_

  THE BASES OF DESIGN

  WITH 200 ILLUSTRATIONS


  LINE AND FORM

  WITH 157 ILLUSTRATIONS


  THE DECORATIVE ILLUSTRATION
  OF BOOKS OLD AND NEW

  WITH 165 ILLUSTRATIONS



  _Medium 8vo. 10s. 6d. net_

  IDEALS IN ART

  PAPERS THEORETICAL, PRACTICAL,
  CRITICAL

  WITH TITLE-PAGE, END-PAPERS, AND COVER
  DESIGNED BY THE AUTHOR, AND
  NUMEROUS ILLUSTRATIONS



  LONDON: G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.



  WILLIAM MORRIS
  TO WHISTLER



[Illustration:

  WILLIAM MORRIS
  TO WHISTLER

  PAPERS AND ADDRESSES ON
  ART AND CRAFT AND THE
  COMMONWEAL

  BY WALTER CRANE

  WITH ILLUSTRATIONS
  FROM DRAWINGS BY THE
  AUTHOR & OTHER SOURCES


  LONDON: G BELL & SONS LTD
  YORK HOUSE PORTUGAL S^T W.C.
  1911
]



  CHISWICK PRESS: CHARLES WHITTINGHAM AND CO.
  TOOKS COURT, CHANCERY LANE, LONDON.



PREFACE


Of the collected papers and addresses which form this book, the
opening one upon William Morris was composed of an address to the Art
Workers' Guild, an article which appeared in "The Progressive Review,"
at the instance of Mr. J. A. Hobson, and a longer illustrated article
written for "The Century Magazine," and now reprinted with the
illustrations by permission of Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, to
whom my thanks are due.

"The Socialist Ideal as a New Inspiration in Art" was written for "The
International Review," when it appeared under the editorship of Dr.
Rudolph Broda, as the English edition of "Documents du Progrès."

"The English Revival in Decorative Art" appeared in the "Fortnightly
Review," and I have to thank Mr. W. L. Courtney for allowing me to
reprint it. It has some additions.

"Notes on Early Italian Gesso Work," was written for Messrs. George
Newnes's Magazine of the Fine Arts with the illustrations, and I am
obliged to them for leave to use both again.

"Notes on Colour Embroidery and its Treatment" was written at Mrs.
Christie's request for "Embroidery," which she edited, and I have
Messrs. Pearsall's authority to include it here.

"The Apotheosis of 'The Butterfly'" was a review written for "The
Evening News," and I thank the editor for letting me print it again.
It appears now, however, with a different title, and considerable
additions.

"A Short Survey of the Art of the Century" appeared in a journal, the
name of which has escaped me, but it has been largely rewritten and
added to since.

For the rest, "Modern Aspects of Life and the Sense of Beauty" was
originally addressed as the opening of a debate at the Pioneer Club,
in which my late friend Lewis F. Day was my opponent, and my chief
supporter was Mr. J. Ramsay Macdonald, M.P.

"Art and the Commonweal" was an address to the Students of Art at
Armstrong College, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and the paper "On Some of
the Arts allied to Architecture" was given before the Architectural
Association. That "On the Study and Practice of Art" was delivered in
Manchester before the Art School Committee and City authorities, and
the "Notes on Animals in Art" to the Art Workers' Guild in London.

  WALTER CRANE.

  KENSINGTON,
  _September 1911_.



CONTENTS


  PAGE

  WILLIAM MORRIS AND HIS WORK                                       3

  THE ENGLISH REVIVAL IN DECORATIVE ART                            47

  THE SOCIALIST IDEAL AS A NEW INSPIRATION IN ART                  83

  ON THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF ART                                105

  ON SOME OF THE ARTS AND CRAFTS ALLIED TO ARCHITECTURE           125

  NOTES ON COLOUR EMBROIDERY AND ITS TREATMENT                    149

  NOTES ON EARLY ITALIAN GESSO WORK                               163

  NOTES ON THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS IN ART                        185

  MODERN ASPECTS OF LIFE AND THE SENSE OF BEAUTY                  207

  A SHORT SURVEY OF THE ART OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY,
  CHIEFLY IN ENGLAND, WITH SOME NOTES ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS      223

  ART AND THE COMMONWEAL                                          241

  THE APOTHEOSIS OF "THE BUTTERFLY"                               259



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  PAGE

  Portrait of William Morris. From a photograph by Emery Walker      2

  Pen-Sketch of Morris Speaking from a Wagon in Hyde Park.
  By Walter Crane                                                   15

  Design for Wall-paper. "The Daisy"                                18

  Design for Wall-paper. "Rose Trellis"                             19

  Woollen Hanging. "The Peacock"                                    22

  Design for Silk Hanging                                           23

  Cotton Print. "Evenlode"                                          25

  Kelmscott House. Meeting Room of the Hammersmith
  Socialist Society                                                 27

  Pages from Morris's MS. of Omar Khayyám               30, 31, 32, 33

  Pen Design by Walter Crane                                    47, 83

  Progressive blackboard practice in Bi-Manual Training
  from "New Methods in Education" by Liberty Tadd                  109

  Patterns of Roman Mosaic Pavement, from the Baths of
  Caracalla                                              129, 130, 131

  Patterns in Plain Leading, from "The Glazier's Booke"            143

  Russian Peasant Embroidery: Blouse in Cross Stitch               151

  Cretan Embroidery                                                153

  Embroidered Cover from Bokhara                                   155

  Original Design for Embroidered Hanging, by Walter Crane         157

  Examples of Early Italian Gesso Work
  (Victoria and Albert Museum)                                 167-181

  Egyptian Treatment of Birds. Eighteenth dynasty, Hieroglyphics.
  Thebes                                                           186

  Assyrian Lion                                                    187

  Persian Lion                                                     188

  Egyptian Lion                                                    188

  Graeco-Buddhist Lions from Sarnath                               189

  Animal Forms from Early Greek Pottery                            191

  English Heraldic Lions. Thirteenth Century                       193

  Birds and Animals in Sicilian Textiles. Thirteenth Century.
  (From Fishbach)                                        195, 196, 197

  Japanese Birds. From the "Hundred Birds" of Bari                 199

  Stone Carvings at Gwalior                         200, 201, 202, 203

  Lion by Alfred Stevens                                           204

  Pen Designs by Walter Crane                            207, 223, 241

  Butterfly Device                                                 259

  Portrait of Whistler. After Charcoal Drawing by Himself          261

  "The Thames in Ice"                                              267

  Panels from the Peacock Room                                     269



ERRATA (TN: These corrections have been applied.)


Page 50, line 4 from foot, _for_ "Burgess" _read_ "Burges."

Page 92, line 2, _for_ "Le Thangue" _read_ "La Thangue."

Page 134, line 14, _for_ "give" _read_ "gives."

Page 190, line 7 from foot, _for_ "Fringe" _read_ "Frieze."

Page 198, line 2 from foot, _for_ "Central Provinces" _read_ "Central
India."



WILLIAM MORRIS AND HIS WORK

  [Illustration: PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM MORRIS. FROM A PHOTOGRAPH
  BY EMERY WALKER.]



WILLIAM MORRIS AND HIS WORK


If it is agreed that art, after all, may be summed up as the
expression of character, it follows that the more we realize an
artist's personality the clearer understanding we shall get of his
work. So remarkable a personality as that of William Morris must have
left many distinct, and at the same time different, impressions upon
the minds of those who knew him, or enjoyed his friendship in life.

It is difficult to realize that fifteen years have passed away since
he left us; but from the dark and blurred background of changing
years his character and work define themselves, and his position and
influence take their true place, while his memory, like some masterly
portrait, remains clear and vivid in our minds--re-presented as it
were in the severe but refined draughtsmanship of time.

With so distinct and massive an individuality it was strange to hear
him say, as I once did, that of the six different personalities he
recognized within himself at different times he often wondered which
was the real William Morris! Those who knew him, however, were aware
of many different sides, and we know that the "idle dreamer of an
empty day" was also the enthusiastic artist and craftsman, and could
become the man of passionate action on occasion, or the shrewd man of
business, or the keen politician also, as well as the quiet observer
of nature and life. Even the somewhat Johnsonian absoluteness and
emphasis of expression which characterized him generally, would
occasionally give way to an open-to-conviction manner, when tackled by
a sincere and straightforward questioner.

But Morris was above and before all else a poet--a _practical_ poet,
if one may use such a term--and this explains the whole of his work.
Not that personally he at all answered to the popular conventional
idea of a poet, rather the reverse, and he was anything but a
sentimentalist. He hated both the introspective and the rhetorical
school, and he never posed. He loved romance and was steeped in
mediaeval lore, but it was a real living world to him, and the
glimpses he gives us are those of an actual spectator. It is not
archaeology, it is _life_, quite as vivid to him, perhaps more so than
that of the present day. He loved nature, he loved beautiful detail,
he loved pattern, he loved colour--"_red_ and _blue_" he used to say
in his full-blooded way. _His patterns are decorative poems_ in terms
of form and colour. _His poems and romances are decorative patterns_
in forms of speech and rhyme. His dream world and his ideal world
were like one of his own tapestries--a green field starred with
vivid flowers upon which moved the noble and beautiful figures of
his romantic imagination, as distinct in type and colour as heraldic
charges. Textile design interested him profoundly and occupied him
greatly, and one may trace its influence, I think, throughout his
work--even in his Kelmscott Press borders. One might almost say that
he had a textile imagination, his poems and romances seem to be woven
in the loom of his mind, and to enfold the reader like a magic web.

But though he cast his conceptions in the forms and dress of a past
age, he took his inspiration straight from nature and life. His poems
are full of English landscapes, and through the woods of his romances
one might come upon a reach of the silvery Thames at any moment. The
river he loved winds through the whole of his delightful Socialistic
Utopia in "News from Nowhere."

As a craftsman and an artist working with assistants and in the course
of his business he was brought face to face with the modern conditions
of labour and manufacture, and was forced to think about the political
economy of art. Accepting the economic teaching of John Ruskin, he
went much further and gave his allegiance to the banner of Socialism,
under which, however, he founded his own school and had his own
following, and conducted his own newspaper. From the dream world of
romance, and from the sequestered garden of design, he plunged into
the thick of the fight for human freedom, in which, he held, was
involved the very existence of art.

Ever and anon he returned to his sanctuary--his workshop--to fashion
some new thing of beauty, in verse or craftsmanship, in which we see
the results of his labour in so many directions.

He certainly seemed to have possessed a larger and fuller measure of
vitality and energy than most men--perhaps such extra vitality is
the distinction of genius--but the very strenuousness of his nature
probably shortened the duration of his life. There were never any
half-measures with him, but everything he took up, he went into
seriously, nay, passionately, with the whole force of his being. His
power of concentration (the secret of great workers) was enormous, and
was spent from time to time in a multitude of ways, but whether in the
eager search for decorative beauty, his care for the preservation of
ancient buildings, in the delight of ancient saga, story, or romance,
or in the battle for the welfare of mankind, like one of his own
chieftains and heroes, he always made his presence felt, and as the
practical pioneer and the master-craftsman in the revival of English
design and handicraft his memory will always be held in honour.

His death marked an epoch both in art and in social and economic
thought. The press notices and appreciations that have appeared from
time to time for the most part have dwelt upon his work as a poet
and an artist and craftsman, and have but lightly passed over his
connection with Socialism and advanced thought.

But, even apart from prejudice, a hundred will note the beauty and
splendour of the flower to one who will notice the leaf and the stem,
or the roots and the soil from which the tree springs.

Yet the greatness of a man must be measured by the number of spheres
in which he is distinguished--the width of his range and appeal to his
fellows.

In the different branches of his work William Morris commanded the
admiration, or, what is equally a tribute to his force, excited the
opposition--of as many different sections of specialists.

As a poet he appealed to poets by reason of many distinct qualities.
He united pre-Raphaelite vividness (as in "The Haystack in the
Floods"), with a dream-like, wistful sweetness and charm of flowing
narrative, woven in a kind of rich mediaeval tapestry of verse, and
steeped with the very essence of legendary romance as in "The Earthly
Paradise"; or with the heroic spirit of earlier time, as in "Sigurd
the Volsung," while all these qualities are combined in his later
prose romances.

His architectural and archaeological knowledge again was complete
enough for the architect and the antiquary.

His classical and historical lore won him the respect of scholars.

His equipment as a designer and craftsman, based upon his
architectural knowledge and training enabled him to exercise an
extraordinary influence over all the arts of design, and gave him his
place as leader of our latter-day English revival of handicraft--a
position perhaps in which he is widest known.

In all these capacities the strength and beauty of William Morris's
work has been freely acknowledged by his brother craftsmen, as well as
by a very large public.

There was, however, still another direction in which his vigour and
personal weight were thrown with all the ardour of an exceptionally
ardent nature, wherein the importance and significance of his work
is as yet but partially apprehended--I mean his work in the cause of
Socialism, in which he might severally be regarded as an economist, a
public lecturer, a propagandist, a controversialist.

No doubt many even of the most emphatic admirers of William Morris's
work as an artist, a poet, and a decorator have been unable to follow
him in this direction, while others have deplored, or even denounced,
his self-sacrificing enthusiasm. There seems to have been insuperable
difficulty to some minds in realizing that the man who wrote "The
Earthly Paradise" should have lent a hand to try to bring it about,
when once the new hope had dawned upon him.

There is no greater mistake than to think of William Morris as a
sentimentalist, who, having built himself a dream-house of art and
poetry, sighs over the turmoil of the world, and calls himself a
Socialist because factory chimneys obtrude themselves upon his view.

It seems to have escaped those who have inclined to such an opinion
that a man, in Emerson's phrase, "can only obey his own polarity." His
life must gravitate necessarily towards its centre. The accident that
he should have reached economics and politics through poetry and art,
so far from disqualifying a man to be heard, only establishes his
claim to bring a cultivated mind and imaginative force to bear upon
the hard facts of nature and science.

The practice of his art, his position as an employer of labour, his
intensely practical knowledge of certain handicrafts, all these things
brought him face to face with the great Labour question; and the fact
that he was an artist and a poet, a man of imagination and feeling as
well as intellect, gave him exceptional advantages in solving it--at
least theoretically. His practical nature and sincerity moved him to
join hands with men who offered a practical programme, or at least who
opened up possibilities of action towards bringing about a new social
system.

His own personal view of a society based upon an entire change of
economic system is most attractively and picturesquely described in
"News from Nowhere, some Chapters of a Utopian Romance." He called
it _Utopian_, but, in his view, and granting the conditions, it was a
perfectly practical Utopia. He even gave an account (through the mouth
of a survivor of the old order) of the probable course of events which
might lead up to such a change. The book was written as a sort of
counterblast to Edward Bellamy's "Looking Backward," which on its
appearance was very widely read on both sides of the water, and
there seemed at the time some danger of the picture there given of a
socialized state being accepted as the only possible one. It may be
partly answerable for an impression in some quarters that a Socialist
system must necessarily be mechanical. But the society described in
"Looking Backward" is, after all, only a little more developed along
the present lines of American social life--a sublimation of the
universal supply of average citizen wants by mechanical means, with
the mainspring of the machine altered from individual profit to
collective interest. This book, most ingeniously thought out as it
was, did its work, no doubt, and appealed with remarkable force to
minds of a certain construction and bias, and it is only just to
Bellamy to say that he claimed no finality for it.

But "News from Nowhere" may be considered--apart from the underlying
principle, common to both, of the collective welfare as the
determining constructive factor of the social system--as its complete
antithesis.

According to Bellamy, it is apparently the _city_ life that is the
only one likely to be worth anything, and it is to the organization
of production and distribution of things contributing to the supposed
necessities and comforts of inhabitants of cities that the reader's
thoughts are directed.

With Morris the country life is obviously the most important, the
ideal life. Groups of houses, not too large to be neighbourly, each
with a common guest-hall, with large proportions of gardens and
woodland, take the place of crowded towns. Thus London, as we know it,
disappears.

What is this but building upon the ascertained scientific facts of
our day, that the inhabitants of large cities tend to deteriorate in
physique, and would die out were it not for the constant infusion of
new blood from the country districts?

Work is still a hard necessity in "Looking Backward," a thing to
be got rid of as soon as possible, so citizens, after serving
the community as clerks, waiters, or what not, until the age of
forty-five, are exempt.

With Morris, work gives the zest to life, and all labour has its own
touch of art--even the dustman can indulge in it in the form of rich
embroidery upon his coat. The bogey of labour is thus routed by its
own pleasurable exercise, with ample leisure, and delight in external
beauty in both art and nature.

As regards the woman's question, it never, in his Utopia, appears to
be asked. He evidently himself thought that with the disappearance of
the commercial competitive struggle for existence and what he termed
"artificial famine" caused by monopoly of the means of existence, the
claim of women to compete with men in the scramble for a living would
not exist. There would be no necessity for either men or women to sell
themselves, since in a truly co-operative commonwealth each one would
find some congenial sphere of work.

In fact, as Morris once said, "settle the economic question and you
settle all other questions. It is the Aaron's rod which swallows up
the rest."

I gather that while he thought both men and women should be
economically free, and therefore socially and politically free, and
free to choose their occupation, he by no means wished to ignore or
obliterate sex distinctions, and all those subtle and fine feelings
which arise from it, which really form the warp and weft of the
courtesies and relationships of life.

Now, whatever criticisms might be offered, or whatever objections
might be raised, such a conception of a possible social order, such
a view of life upon a new economic basis as is painted in this
delightful book, is surely, before all things, remarkably wholesome,
human, and sane, and pleasurable. If wholesome, human, sane, and
pleasurable lives are not possible to the greater part of humanity
under existing institutions, so much the worse for those institutions.
Humanity has generally proved itself better than its institutions,
and man is chiefly distinguished above other animals by his power to
modify his conditions. Life, at least, means growth and change, and
human evolution shows us a gradual progression--a gradual triumph
of higher organization and intelligence over lower, checked by
the inexorable action of natural laws, which demand reparation
for breaches of moral and social law, and continually probe the
foundations of society. Man has become what he is through his capacity
for co-operative social action. The particular forms of social
organization are the crystallization of this capacity. They are but
shells to be cast away when they retard growth or progress, and it is
then that the living organism, collective or individual, seeks out or
slowly forms a new home.

As to the construction and colour of such a new house for reorganized
society and regenerated life, William Morris has left us in no doubt
as to his own ideas and ideals. It may seem strange that a man who
might be said to have been steeped in mediaeval lore,[1] and whose
delight seemed to be in a beautifully imagined world of romance
peopled with heroic figures, should yet be able to turn from that
dream world with a clear and penetrating gaze upon the movements of
his own time, and to have thrown himself with all the strength of
his nature into the seething social and industrial battle of modern
England. That the "idle singer of an empty day" should voice the
claims and hopes of Labour, stand up for the rights of free speech
in Trafalgar Square, and speak from a wagon in Hyde Park, may have
surprised those who only knew him upon one side, but to those who
fully apprehended the reality, ardour, and sincerity of his nature,
such action was but its logical outcome and complement, and assuredly
it redounds to the honour of the artist, the scholar, and the poet
whose loss we still feel, that he was also a man.

Few men seemed to drink so full a measure of life as William Morris,
and, indeed, he frankly admitted in his last days that he _had_
enjoyed his life. I have heard him say that he only knew what it was
to be alive. He could not conceive of death, and the thought of it did
not trouble him.

  [Illustration: William Morris speaking from a wagon in Hyde Park,
  May 1 1894]

I first met William Morris in 1870, at a dinner at the house of
the late Earl of Carlisle, a man of keen artistic sympathies and
considerable artistic ability, notably in water-colour landscapes. He
was an enthusiast for the work of Morris and Burne-Jones, and had just
built his house at Palace Green from the designs of Mr. Philip Webb,
and Morris and Company had decorated it. Morris, I remember, had just
returned from a visit to Iceland, and could hardly talk of anything
else. It seemed to have laid so strong a hold upon his imagination;
and no doubt its literary fruits were the translations of the
Icelandic sagas he produced with Professor Magnússon, and also the
heroic poem of "Sigurd the Volsung." He never, indeed, seemed to lose
the impressions of that Icelandic visit, and was ever ready to talk of
his experiences there--the primitive life of the people, the long pony
rides, the strange, stony deserts, the remote mountains, the
geysers and the suggestions of volcanic force everywhere, and the
romance-haunted coasts.

I well remember, too, the impression produced by the first volume of
"The Earthly Paradise," which had appeared, I think, shortly before
the time of which I speak: the rich and fluent verse, with its simple,
direct, Old World diction; the distinct vision, the romantic charm,
the sense of external beauty everywhere, with a touch of wistfulness.
The voice was the voice of a poet, but the eye was the eye of an
artist and a craftsman.

It was not so long before that the fame began to spread of the little
brotherhood of artists who gathered together at the Red House, Bexley
Heath, built by Mr. Philip Webb, it was said, in an orchard without
cutting down a single tree. Dante Gabriel Rossetti was the centre of
the group, the leading spirit, and he had absorbed the spirit of the
pre-Raphaelite movement and centralized it both in painting and verse.
But others co-operated at first, such as his master, Ford Madox Brown,
and Mr. Arthur Hughes, until the committee of artists narrowed down,
and became a firm, establishing workshops in one of the old-fashioned
houses on the east side of Queen Square, Bloomsbury, a retired place,
closed by a garden to through traffic at the northern end. Here
Messrs. Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. (which included a very
notable man, Mr. Philip Webb, the architect) began their practical
protest against prevailing modes and methods of domestic decoration
and furniture, which had fallen since the great exhibition of 1851
chiefly under the influence of the Second Empire taste in upholstery,
which was the antithesis of the new English movement. This latter
represented in the main a revival of the mediaeval spirit (not the
letter) in design; a return to simplicity, to sincerity; to good
materials and sound workmanship; to rich and suggestive surface
decoration, and simple constructive forms.

  [Illustration: DESIGN FOR WALL-PAPER. "THE DAISY."]

The simple, black-framed, old English Buckinghamshire elbow-chair,
with its rush-bottomed seat, was substituted for the wavy-backed and
curly-legged stuffed chair of the period, with its French polish and
concealed, and often very unreliable, construction. Bordered Eastern
rugs, and fringed Axminster carpets, on plain or stained boards, or
India matting, took the place of the stuffy planned carpet; rich,
or simple, flat patterns acknowledged the wall, and expressed the
proportions of the room, instead of trying to hide both under bunches
of sketchy roses and vertical stripes; while, instead of the big
plate-glass mirror, with ormolu frame, which had long reigned over the
cold white marble mantel-piece, small bevelled glasses were inserted
in the panelling of the high wood mantel-shelf, or hung over it in
convex circular form. Slender black wood or light brass curtain rods,
and curtains to match the coverings, or carry out the colour of the
room, displaced the heavy mahogany and ormolu battering-rams,
with their fringed and festooned upholstery, which had hitherto
overshadowed the window of the so-called comfortable classes. Plain
white or green paint for interior wood-work drove graining and
marbling to the public-house; blue and white Nankin, Delft, or Grès
de Flandres routed Dresden and Sèvres from the cabinet; plain
oaken boards and trestles were preferred before the heavy mahogany
telescopic British dining-table of the mid-nineteenth century; and
the deep, high-backed, canopied settle with loose cushions ousted the
castored and padded couch from the fireside.

  [Illustration: DESIGN FOR WALL-PAPER. "ROSE TRELLIS."]

Such were the principal ways, as to outward form, in which the new
artistic movement made itself felt in domestic decoration. Beginning
with the houses of a comparatively limited circle, mostly artists,
the taste rapidly spread, and in a few years Morrisian patterns and
furniture became the vogue. Cheap imitation on all sides set in, and
commercial and fantastic persons, perceiving the set of the current,
floated themselves upon it, tricked themselves out like jackdaws with
peacocks' feathers, and called it "the aesthetic movement." The usual
excesses were indulged in by excitable persons, and the inner meaning
of the movement was temporarily lost sight of under a cloud of
travesty and ridicule, until, like a shuttlecock, the idea had been
sufficiently played with and tossed about by society and the big
public, it was thrown aside, like a child's toy, for some new
catch-word. These things were, however, but the ripples or falling
leaves upon the surface of the stream, and had but little to do with
its sources or its depth, though they might serve as indications of
the strength of the current.

The art of Morris and those associated with him was really but the
outward and visible sign of a great movement of protest and reaction
against the commercial and conventional conceptions and standards of
life and art which had obtained so strong a hold in the industrial
nineteenth century.

Essentially Gothic and romantic and free in spirit as opposed to the
authoritative and classical, its leader was emphatically and even
passionately Gothic in his conception of art and ideals of life.

The inspiration of his poetry was no less mediaeval than the spirit
of his designs, and it was united with a strong love of nature and an
ardent love of beauty.

  [Illustration: WOOLLEN HANGING. "THE PEACOCK."]

One knows but little of William Morris's progenitors. His name
suggests Welsh origin, though his birthplace was Walthamstow. Born
24th March 1834, one of a well-to-do family, it was a fortunate
circumstance that he was never cramped by poverty in the development
of his aims. Escaping the ecclesiastical influence of Oxford and
a Church career, his prophets being rather John Ruskin and Thomas
Carlyle, he approached the study and practice of art from the
architectural side under one of our principal English Gothic
revivalists, George Edmund Street, although he at one time entertained
the idea of becoming a painter, and the very interesting picture of
"Guinevere" which was shown at one of the Arts and Crafts Exhibitions
makes one regret he did not do more in this way. Few men had a better
understanding of the nature of Gothic architecture, and a wider
knowledge of the historic buildings of his own country, than William
Morris, and there can be no doubt that this grasp of the true root
and stem of the art was of enormous advantage when he came to turn his
attention to the various subsidiary arts and handicrafts comprehended
under decorative design. The thoroughness of his methods of work and
workmanlike practicality were no less remarkable than his amazing
energy and capacity for work.

  [Illustration: DESIGN FOR SILK HANGING.]

In one of his earlier papers he said that it appeared to be the object
with most people to get rid of, or out of, the necessity of work,
but for his part he only wanted to find time for more work, or (as it
might be put) to live in order to work, rather than to work in order
to live.

While as a decorative designer he was, of course, interested in _all_
methods, materials, and artistic expression, he concentrated himself
generally upon one particular kind at a time, as in the course of
his study and practice he mastered the difficulties and technical
conditions of each.

At one time it was dyeing, upon which he held strong views as to the
superiority, permanency, and beauty of vegetable dyes over the mineral
and aniline dyes, so much used in ordinary commerce, and his practice
in this craft, and the charm of his tints, did much to check the taste
for the vivid but fugitive colours of coal-tar.

His way was to tackle the thing with his own hands, and so he worked
at the vat, like the practical man that he was in these matters. An
old friend tells the story of his calling at the works one day and, on
inquiring for the master, hearing a strong, cheery voice call out
from some inner den, "I'm dyeing, I'm dyeing, I'm dyeing!" and the
well-known robust figure of the craftsman presently appeared in his
blue shirt-sleeves, his hands stained blue from the vat where he had
been at work.

  [Illustration: COTTON PRINT. "EVENLODE."]

At another time it was weaving that absorbed him, and the study
of dyeing naturally led him to textiles, and, indeed, was probably
undertaken with the view of reviving their manufacture in new forms,
and from rugs and carpets he conceived the idea of reviving Arras
tapestry. I remember the man who claimed to have taught Morris to
work on the high-warp loom. His name was Wentworth Buller. He was an
enthusiast for Persian art, and he had travelled in that country
and found out the secret of the weaving of the fine Persian carpets,
discovering, I believe, that they were made of goats' hair. He made
some attempt to revive this method in England, but from one cause or
another was not successful. William Morris, when he had learned the
craft of tapestry weaving himself, set about teaching others, and
trained two youths, one of whom (Mr. Dearle) is now chief at the
Merton Abbey Works, who became exceedingly skilful at the work,
executing the large and elaborate design of Sir Edward Burne-Jones
(_The Adoration of the Magi_), which was first worked for the chapel
of his own and Morris's college (Exeter College) at Oxford.

In this tapestry, as was his wont, Morris enriched the design with
a foreground of flowers, through which the Magi approach with their
gifts the group of the Virgin and Child, with St. Joseph.

In fact, the designs of William Morris are so associated with and
so often form part of the work of others or only appear in some
conditioned material form, that little or no idea of his individual
work, or of his wide influence, could be gathered from any existing
autograph work of his. That he was a facile designer of floral
ornament his numerous beautiful wall-papers and textile hangings
prove, but he always considered that the finished and final form of a
particular design, complete in the material for which it was intended,
was the only one to be looked at, and always objected to showing
preliminary sketches and working drawings. He was a keen judge and
examiner of work, and fastidious, and as he did not mind taking
trouble himself he expected it from those who worked for him. His
artistic influence was really due to the way he supervised work under
his control, carried out by many different craftsmen under his eye,
and not so much by his own actual handiwork.

In any estimate of William Morris's power and influence as an artist,
this should always be borne in mind. He always described himself as
an artist working with assistants, which is distinct from the
manufacturer who simply directs a business from the business point
of view. Nothing went out of the works at Queen Square, or, later, at
Merton Abbey, without his sanction from the artistic point of view.

  [Illustration: KELMSCOTT HOUSE. MEETING ROOM OF THE HAMMERSMITH
  SOCIALIST SOCIETY.]

The wave of taste which he had done so much to create certainly
brought prosperity to the firm, and larger premises had to be taken;
so Morris and Company emerged from the seclusion of Queen Square and
opened a large shop in Oxford Street, and set up extensive works at
Merton Abbey--a most charming and picturesque group of workshops,
surrounded by trees and kitchen gardens, on the banks of the river
Wandle in Surrey, not far from Wimbledon. The tapestry and carpet
looms which were first set up at Kelmscott House, on the Upper Mall
at Hammersmith,[2] were moved to Merton, where also the dyeing and
painted glass-work were carried on.

This latter art had long been an important part of the work of the
firm. In early days designs were supplied by Ford Madox Brown and D.
G. Rossetti, but later they were entirely from the hands of Morris's
closest friend, Edward Burne-Jones; that is to say, the figure-work.
Floral and subsidiary design were frequently added by William
Morris, as was also the leading of the cartoons. The results of their
co-operation in this way have been the many fine windows scattered
over the land, chiefly at Oxford and Cambridge, where the Christ
Church window and those at Jesus College may be named, while the
churches of Birmingham have been enriched by many splendid examples,
more particularly at St. Philip's. Their glass has also found place in
the United States, in Richardson's famous church at Boston, and at the
late Miss Catherine Wolfe's house, Vinland, Newport.

An exquisite autograph work of William Morris's is the copy of "The
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám," which he wrote out and illuminated with
his own hand, though even to this work Burne-Jones contributed a
miniature, and Mr. Fairfax Murray worked out other designs in some of
the borders. This beautiful work was exhibited at the first Arts
and Crafts Exhibition in 1888. It is in the possession of Lady
Burne-Jones, and by her special permission I am enabled to give some
reproductions of four of the pages here.

It is so beautiful that one wonders the artist was not induced to do
more work of the kind; but there is only known to be one or two
other manuscripts partially completed by him. Certainly his love for
mediaeval illuminated MSS. was intense and his knowledge great, and
his collection of choice and rare works of this kind probably unique.
The same might be said of his collection of early printed books, which
was wonderfully rich with wood-cuts of the best time and from the most
notable presses of Germany, Flanders, Italy, and France.


  [Illustration:

  8 OMAR KHAYYAM

  Alike for those who for today prepare
  And those that after a tomorrow stare
  A muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries
  Fools, your reward is neither here nor there

  25

  Why, all the saints and sages who discussed
  Of the Two Worlds so learnedly, are thrust
  Like foolish prophets forth, their words to scorn
  Are scattered, and their mouths are stopt with dust

  26

  O come with old Khayyam, and leave the wise
  To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
  One thing is certain, and the rest is lies
  The flower that once has blown for ever dies

  27

  Myself when young did eagerly frequent
  Doctor and saint, and heard great argument

  FROM MORRIS'S MS. OF OMAR KHAYYÁM.]


  [Illustration:

  About it and about, and evermore
  Came out by the same door as in I went.

  28

  With them the seed of Wisdom did I sow,
  And with my own hand laboured it to grow:
  And this was all the harvest that I reaped--
  I came like water, and like wind I go.

  29

  Into this Universe, and why not knowing
  Nor whence, like water willy-nilly flowing
  And out of it as wind along the waste
  I know not whither, willy-nilly blowing

  30

  What without asking hither hurried whence
  And without asking whither hurried hence
  Another, and another cup to drown
  The memory of this impertinence!

  FROM MORRIS'S MS. OF OMAR KHAYYÁM.]


  [Illustration:

  My thread-bare penitence apieces tore.

  71

  And much as wine has played the infidel,
  And robbed me of my robe of honour--well,
  I often wonder what the vintners buy
  One half so precious as the goods they sell.

  72

  Alas, that Spring should vanish with the rose,
  That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close
  The Nightingale that in the branches sang,
  Ah whence, and whither flown again, who knows!

  73

  Ah, Love! could thou and I with Fate conspire
  To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire,
  Would we not shatter it to bits, and then
  Remould it nearer to the heart's desire?

  FROM MORRIS'S MS. OF OMAR KHAYYÁM.]


  [Illustration:

  Ah Moon of my delight who knowest no wane,
  The Moon of Heaven is rising once again;
  How oft hereafter rising shall she look
  Through this same garden after me--in vain.

  75

  And when Thyself with shining foot shall pass
  Among the guests star-scattered on the grass,
  And in thy joyous errand reach the spot
  Where I made one--turn down an empty glass!

  TAMAM SHUD

  FROM MORRIS'S MS. OF OMAR KHAYYÁM.]


This brings us to William Morris's next and, as it proved, last
development in art--the revival of the craft of the printer, and its
pursuit as an art.

I recall the time when the project was first discussed. It was in
the autumn of 1889. It was the year of an Art Congress at Edinburgh,
following the initial one at Liverpool the preceding year, held under
the auspices of the National Association for the Advancement of Art.
Some of us afterwards went over to Glasgow to lecture; and a small
group, of which Morris was one, found themselves at the Central
Station Hotel together. It was here that William Morris spoke of his
new scheme, his mind being evidently centred upon it. Mr. Emery
Walker (who has supplied me with the photographs which illustrate this
article) was there, and he became his constant and faithful helper in
all the technicalities of the printer's craft; Mr. Cobden-Sanderson
also was of the party; he may be said to have introduced a new epoch
in book-binding, and his name was often associated with Morris as
binder of some of his books.

Morris took up the craft of printing with characteristic thoroughness.
He began at the beginning and went into the paper question, informing
himself as to the best materials and methods, and learning to make a
sheet of paper himself. The Kelmscott Press paper is made by hand, of
fine white linen rags only, and is not touched with chemicals. It has
the toughness and something of the quality of fine Whatman or O.W.
drawing-paper.

When he set to work to design his types he obtained enlarged
photographs of some of the finest specimens of both Gothic and Roman
type from the books of the early printers, chiefly of Bale and Venice.
He studied and compared these, and as the result of his analysis
designed two or three different kinds of type for his press, beginning
with the "Golden" type, which might be described as Roman type under
Gothic influence, and developing the more frankly Gothic forms known
as the "Troy" and the "Chaucer" types. He also used Roman capitals
founded upon the best forms of the early Italian printers.

Morris was wont to say that he considered the glory of the Roman
alphabet was in its capitals, but the glory of the Gothic alphabet was
in its lower-case letters.

He was asked why he did not use types after the style of the lettering
in some of his title-pages, but he said this would not be reasonable,
as the lettering of the titles was specially designed to fit into the
given spaces, and could not be used as movable type.

The initial letters are Gothic in feeling, and form agreeably bold
quantities in black and white in relation to the close and rich matter
of the type, which is still further relieved occasionally by floral
sprays in bold open line upon the inner margins, while when woodcut
pictures are used they were led up to by rich borderings.

The margins of the title and opening chapter which faced it are
occupied by richly designed broad borders of floral arabesques upon
black grounds, the lettering of the title forming an essential part of
the ornamental effect, and often placed upon a mat or net of lighter,
more open arabesque, in contrast to the heavy quantities of the solid
border.

The Kelmscott Chaucer is the monumental work of Morris's Press,
and the border designs, made specially for this volume, surpass
in richness and sumptuousness all his others, and fitly frame the
woodcuts after the designs of Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

The arabesque borders and initial letters of the Kelmscott books were
all drawn by Morris himself, the engraving on wood was mostly done
by Mr. W. H. Hooper--almost the only first-rate facsimile engraver
on wood left--and a good artist and craftsman besides. Mr. Arthur
Leverett engraved the designs to the "The Glittering Plain," which
were my contribution to the Kelmscott Press, but I believe Mr. Hooper
did all the other work, while Mr. Fairfax Murray and Mr. Catteson
Smith drafted the Burne-Jones designs upon the wood.

It was not, perhaps, generally known, at least before the appearance
of Miss May Morris's fine edition of her father's works, published
by Messrs. Longman, that many years before the Kelmscott Press was
thought of an illustrated edition of "The Earthly Paradise" was in
contemplation, and not only were many designs made by Burne-Jones, but
a set of them was actually engraved by Morris himself upon wood for
the "Cupid and Psyche," though they were never issued to the public.

I have spoken of the movement in art represented by William Morris
and his colleagues as really part of a great movement of protest--a
crusade against the purely commercial, industrial, and material
tendencies of the day.

This protest culminated with William Morris when he espoused the cause
of Socialism.

Now some have tried to minimize the Socialism of William Morris, but
it was, in the circumstances of his time, the logical and natural
outcome of his ideas and opinions, and is in direct relation with his
artistic theories and practice.

For a thorough understanding of the conditions of modern manufacture
and industrial production, of the ordinary influences which govern the
producers of marketable commodities, of wares offered in the name of
art, of the condition of worker, and the pressure of competition, he
was in a particularly advantageous position.

So far from being a sentimentalist who was content melodiously and
pensively to regret that things were not otherwise, he was driven by
contact with the life around him to his economic conclusions. As he
said himself, it was art led him to Socialism, not economics, though
he confirmed his convictions by economic study.

As an artist, no doubt at first he saw the uglification of the world
going on, and the vast industrial and commercial machine grinding the
joy and the leisure out of human life as regarded the great mass of
humanity. But as an employer he was brought into direct relation with
the worker as well as the market and the public, and he became fully
convinced that the modern system of production for profit and the
world-market, however inevitable as a stage in economic and social
evolution, was not only most detrimental to a healthy and spontaneous
development of art and to conditions of labour, but that it would be
bound, ultimately, by the natural working of economic laws, to devour
itself.

Never cramped by poverty in his experiments and in his endeavours
to realize his ideals, singularly favoured by fortune in all his
undertakings, he could have had no personal reasons on these scores
for protesting against the economic and social tendencies and
characteristics of his own time. He hated what is called modern
civilization and all its works from the first, with a whole heart, and
made no secret of it. For all that, he was a shrewd and keen man in
his dealings with the world. If he set its fashions and habits at
defiance, and persisted in producing his work to please himself, it
was not his fault that his countrymen eagerly sought them and paid
lavishly for their possession. A common reproach hurled at Morris has
been that he produced costly works for the rich while he professed
Socialism. This kind of thing, however, it may be remarked, is not
said by those friendly to Socialism, or anxious for the consistency of
its advocates--quite the contrary. Such objectors appear to ignore,
or to be ignorant of, the fact that according to the quality of the
production must be its cost; and that the cheapness of the cheapest
things of modern manufacture is generally at the cost of the
cheapening of human labour and life, which is a costly kind of
cheapness after all.

If anyone cares for good work, a good price must be paid. Under
existing conditions possession of such work is only possible to those
who can pay the price, but this seems to work out rather as part of an
indictment against the present system of production, which Socialists
wish to alter.

If a wealthy man were to divest himself of his property and distribute
it, he would not bring Socialism any nearer, and his self-sacrifice
would hardly benefit the poor at large (except, perhaps, a few
individuals), but under the working of the present system his wealth
would ultimately enrich the rich--would gravitate to those who _had_,
and not to those who _had not_. The object of Socialism is to win
justice, not charity.

A true commonwealth can only be established by a change of feeling,
and by the will of the people, deliberately, in the common interest,
declaring for common and collective possession of the means of life
and of wealth, as against individual property and monopoly. Since the
wealth of a country is only produced by common and collective effort,
and even the most individual of individualists is dependent for every
necessary, comfort, or luxury of life upon the labour of untold crowds
of workers, there is no inherent unreasonableness in such a view,
or in the advocacy of such a system, which might be proved to be as
beneficial, in the higher sense, for the rich as for the poor, as of
course it would abolish both. It is quite possible to cling to the
contrary opinion, but it should be fully understood that Socialism
does not mean "dividing up," and that a man is not necessarily not a
Socialist who does not sell all that he has to give to the poor. "A
poor widow is gathering nettles to stew for her dinner. A perfumed
seigneur lounging in the _[oe]il de b[oe]uf_ hath an alchemy whereby
he can extract from her every third nettle and call it rent." Thus
wrote Carlyle. Men like William Morris would make such alchemy
impracticable; but no man can change a social (or unsocial) system by
himself, however willing; nor can anyone, however gifted or farseeing,
get beyond the conditions of his time, or afford to ignore them in
the daily conduct of life, although at the same time his life and
expressed opinions may all the while count as factors in the evolution
by which a new form of society comes about.

Thus much seems due to the memory of a man like William Morris, who
was frequently taunted with not doing, as a Socialist, things that, as
a Socialist, he did not at all believe in; things, for which, too,
one knows perfectly well, his censors, if he had done them, would have
been the first to denounce him for a fool.

At all events, it is certain that William Morris spent some of the
best years of his life, he gave his time, his voice, his thought, his
pen, and much money to put Socialism before his countrymen. This can
never be gainsaid. Those who have been accustomed to regard him from
this point of view as a dangerous revolutionary might be referred to
the writings of John Ball, and Sir Thomas More, his predecessors in
England's history, who upheld the claims of labour and simple life,
against waste, want, and luxury. Indeed, it might be contended that it
was a conservative clinging to the really solid foundations of a
happy human life which made Morris a Socialist as much as artistic
conviction and study of modern economics. The enormous light which
has been recently thrown by historic research upon mediaeval life and
conditions of labour, upon the craft guilds, and the position of the
craftsman in the Middle Ages--light to which Morris himself in no
small degree contributed--must also be counted as a factor in the
formation of his opinions.

But whether accounted conservative or revolutionary in social
economics and political opinion, there can be no doubt of William
Morris's conservatism in another field, important enough in its
bearings upon modern life, national and historic sentiment, and
education--I mean the protection of Ancient Buildings. He was one of
the founders of the society having that object, and remained to the
last one of the most energetic members of the committee, and in
such important work his architectural knowledge was of course of the
greatest value. At a time when, owing to the action of a multitude of
causes, the historic buildings of the past are in constant danger,
not only from the ravages of time, weather, and neglect, but also,
and even to a greater extent, from the zeal of the "restorer," the
importance of the work which Morris did with his society--the work
which that society carries on--can hardly be overestimated.

The pressure of commercial competition and the struggle for life in
our cities--the mere necessity for more room for traffic--the dead
weight of vested interest, the market value of a site, the claims of
convenience, fashion, ecclesiastical or otherwise, or sometimes sheer
utilitarianism, entirely oblivious of the social value of historic
associations of architectural beauty--all are apt to be arrayed at
one time or another, or even, perhaps, all combined, against the
preservation of an ancient building if it happens to stand in their
way.

The variety, too, of the cases in which the difference of the artistic
conditions which govern the art and craft of building in the past and
in the present is another element which often prevents the defenders
and destroyers from meeting on the same plane. It is the old tragic
conflict between old and new, but enormously complicated, and with the
forces of destruction and innovation tremendously increased.

William Morris was a singularly sane and what is called a
"level-headed" man. He had the vehemence, on occasion, of a strong
nature and powerful physique. He cared greatly for his convictions.
Art and life were real to him, and his love of beauty was a passion.
His artistic and poetic vision was clear and intense--all the more
so, perhaps, for being exclusive on some points. The directness of
his nature, as of his speech, might have seemed singularly unmodern
to some who prefer to wrap their meaning with many envelopes. He might
occasionally have seemed brusque, and even rough; but so does the
north wind when it encounters obstacles. Men are judged by the
touchstones of personal sympathy or antipathy; but whether attracted
or repelled in such a presence, no one could come away without an
impression that he had met a man of strong character and personal
force, whether he realized any individual preconception of the poet,
the artist, and the craftsman, or not.

He was certainly all these, yet those who only knew him through his
works would have but a partial and incomplete idea of his many-sided
nature, his practicality, personal force, sense of humour,[3] and
all those side-lights which personal acquaintance throws upon the
character of a man like William Morris.


    [Footnote 1: At the same time, it must be remembered, his
    knowledge of mediaeval life, the craft guilds, and the
    condition of the labourer in England in the fifteenth
    century, helped him in his economic studies and his Socialist
    propaganda.]

    [Footnote 2: Here Morris lived when in London and his press
    was set up close by at Sussex House, opposite to which is the
    Doves Bindery of Mr. Cobden-Sanderson. Much of Morris's time
    was spent at Kelmscott, near Lechlade, Gloucestershire, a
    delightful old manor house close to the Thames stream. This
    house was formerly held by D. G. Rossetti conjointly with
    Morris. At Hammersmith the room outside the house, after the
    carpet looms went to Merton, was used as the meeting room of
    the Hammersmith Socialist Society.]

    [Footnote 3: It is noteworthy that one who excluded humour
    from his own work, whether literary, or artistic, had a keen
    appreciation of it in the work of others. Few who only knew
    Morris through his poems, romances, and designs would imagine
    that among his most favourite books were "Huckleberry Finn,"
    by Mark Twain, and "Uncle Remus." I have often heard him
    recall passages of the first-named book with immense enjoyment
    of the fun. He was, besides, always an admirer of Dickens.]



THE ENGLISH REVIVAL IN DECORATIVE ART



  [Illustration]



THE ENGLISH REVIVAL IN DECORATIVE ART


The sense of beauty, like the enchanted princess in the wood, seems
liable, both in communities and individuals, to periods of hypnotism.
These periods of slumber or suspended animation, are not, however,
free from distorted dreams, having a certain tyrannical compulsion
which causes those under their influence blindly to accept arbitrary
ideas and cast-iron customs as if they were parts of the irreversible
order of nature--until the hour of the awakening comes and the
household gods of wood and stone, so ignorantly worshipped, are cast
from their pedestals.

Such a period of apathetic slumber and of awakening in the arts we
have been passing through in England during the last quarter of the
nineteenth century, and since, side by side with analogous movements
in the political and social world.

As regards domestic architecture, the streets of London will
illustrate the successive waves of taste or fashion which the past and
present century have seen, from the quasi-classical, represented in
the Peloponnesus of Regent's Park, to the eclectic Queen Anne-ism
of the aesthetic village at Turnham Green; or the more recent
developments which have followed newer ideas of town-planning, the
modern hotel such as the Savoy or the Piccadilly, or the New Aero Club
in Pall Mall, the modern store, such as Selfridge's. Contrast such
examples of what one might call our new Imperial Renascence style
with the types of simple cottage dwellings in the Garden City at
Letchworth, or in the Hampstead garden suburb, and elsewhere; or these
again with the larger country mansions some of our best architects
are raising in the land. These extremes, with all the various
modifications of the outward aspect of the English home--degrees
indicating the arc of architectural fashion, as it were--imply a
series of corresponding transformations of interiors with all their
modern complexities of furniture and decorations.

But the wheat of artistic thought and invention is a good deal
encumbered with chaff--the chaff of commerce and of fashion--and it
needs some pains to find the real vital germs. To trace the genesis of
our English revival we must go back to the days of the pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, and although none of that famous group were decorative
designers in the strict sense--unless we except D. G. Rossetti--yet by
their resolute and enthusiastic return to the direct symbolism, frank
naturalism, and poetic or romantic sentiment of mediaeval art,
with the power of modern analysis superadded, and the more profound
intellectual study of both nature and art, which the severity of their
practice demanded, and last, but not least, their intense love
of detail, turned the attention to other branches of design than
painting. The very marked character of their pictures, standing
out with almost startling effect from among the works of the older
Academic School, demanded at least a special architecture in the
frames of their pictures, and this led to the practice of painters
designing their own frames, at least those who were concerned for
unity and decorative effect. Mr. Holman Hunt, for instance, I believe
always designed his own frames, as well as some of the ornamental
accessories of his pictures--such as the pot for the basil in his
"Isabella." D. G. Rossetti the poet-painter, and perhaps the central
and inspiring luminary of the remarkable group, evidently cared
greatly for decorative effect, and bestowed the utmost pains upon
tributary detail, designing the frames to his pictures, the cover
and lining for his own poems, and various title-pages. Many of
his pictures, too, are remarkable for their beauty and richness of
accessory details which give a distinct decorative charm to his work,
closely associated as they are with its motive and poetic purpose.

The researches of Henry Shaw, and his fine works upon art of the
middle ages, first published in the "Forties" by Pickering, and
printed by the Chiswick Press, no doubt had their share in directing
the attention of artists to the beauty and intention bestowed upon
every accessory of daily life in mediaeval times.

Above all influences from the literary side, however, must be placed
the work of John Ruskin, an enormously vitalizing and still living
force, powerful to awaken thought, and by its kindling enthusiasm
to stir the dormant sense of beauty in the minds that come under the
spell of his eloquence, which always turns the eyes to some new or
unregarded or forgotten beauty in nature or in art. The secret of his
powers as a writer on art lies no doubt in the fact that he approached
the whole question from the fundamental architectural side, and saw
clearly the close connection of artistic development with social
life. The whole drift of his teaching is towards sincerity and
Gothic freedom in the arts, and is a strong protest against Academic
convention and classical coldness.

Among architects, men like Pugin and William Burges, enthusiasts
in the Gothic revival, gave a great deal of care and thought to
decorative detail and the design of furniture and accessories. The
latter, in the quaint house which he built for himself in Melbury
Road, showed a true Gothic spirit of inventiveness and whimsicality
applied to things of everyday use as well as the mural decorator's
instinct for symbolism. Since their day Mr. Norman Shaw may almost be
said to have carried all before him, and has quite created a type of
later Victorian architecture, and his advice is still sought in the
design of various buildings and street improvements of modern London.
His work, beautiful, well proportioned, and decorative as it often is,
however, has not the peculiar character and reserve of the work of Mr.
Philip Webb, and the latter is a decorative designer, especially of
animals, of remarkable originality and power. His work in architecture
and other designs is generally seen in association with that of
William Morris in decoration.

The impulse towards Greek and Roman forms in furniture and decoration,
which had held sway with designers since the French Revolution,
appeared to be dead. The elegant lines and limbs of quasi-classical
couches and chairs on which our grandfathers and grandmothers
reclined--the former in high coat-collars and the latter in short
waists--had grown gouty and clumsy, in the hands of Victorian
upholsterers. The carved scrolls and garlands had lost even the
attenuated grace they once possessed and a certain feeling for
naturalism creeping in made matters worse, and utterly deranged the
ornamental design of the period. An illustrated catalogue of the
exhibition of 1851 will sufficiently indicate the monstrosities in
furniture and decoration which were supposed to be artistic. The last
stage of decomposition had been reached, and a period of, perhaps,
unexampled hideousness in furniture, dress, and decoration set in
which lasted the life of the second empire, and fitly perished with
it. Relics of this period I believe are still to be discovered in the
cold shade of remote drawing-rooms, and "apartments to let," which
take the form of big looking-glasses, and machine-lace curtains, and
where the furniture is afflicted with curvature of the spine, and
dreary lumps of bronze and ormolu repose on marble slabs at every
opportunity, where monstrosities of every kind are encouraged under
glass shades, while every species of design-debauchery is indulged
in upon carpets, curtains, chintzes and wall-papers, and where the
antimacassar is made to cover a multitude of sins. When such ideas of
decoration prevailed, having their origin or prototypes, in the vapid
splendours of imperial saloons, and had to be reduced to the scale of
the ordinary citizen's house and pocket, the thing became absurd as
well as hideous. Besides, the cheap curly legs of the _un_easy chairs
and couches came off, and the stuffed seats, with a specious show of
padded comfort, were delusions and snares. Long ago the old English
house-place with its big chimney-corner had given way to the bourgeois
arrangement of dining and drawing-room--even down to the smallest
slated hut with a Doric portico. The parlour had become a kind of
sanctuary veiled in machine-lace, where the lightness of the curtains
was compensated for by the massiveness of their poles, and where
Berlin wool-work and bead mats flourished exceedingly.

Enter to such an interior a plain unvarnished rush-bottomed chair from
Buckinghamshire, sound in wind and limb--"C'est impossible!" And yet
the rush-bottomed chair and the printed cotton of frank design and
colour from an unpretending and somewhat inaccessible house in Queen
Square may be said to have routed the false ideals, vulgar smartness
and stuffiness in domestic furniture and decoration--at least wherever
refinement and feeling have been exercised at all.

"Lost in the contemplation of palaces we have forgotten to look about
us for a chair," wrote Mr. Charles L. Eastlake in an article which
appeared in "The Cornhill Magazine" some time in the "sixties," or
early "seventies." The same writer (afterwards Keeper of the National
Gallery) brought out "Hints on Household Taste" shortly afterwards,
and he, too, was "on the side of the angels" of sense and fitness in
these things. The "chair" at any rate was now discovered, if only a
rush-bottomed one.

Nowadays it might perhaps be said that the chair gets more
contemplation and attention than the palace, as since then the
influence of our old English eighteenth-century furniture designers
has been restored, and Chippendale, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite
are again held in honour in our interiors, and to judge from the
innumerable specimens offered in their name by our furniture dealers
the industry of these famous designers must have been prodigious!

The first practical steps towards actually producing things combining
use and beauty and thus enabling people so minded to deck their homes
after the older and simpler English manner was taken by William
Morris and his associates, who founded the house in Queen Square
afore-mentioned. Appealing at first only to a limited circle of
friends mostly engaged in the arts, the new ideas began to get abroad,
the new designs were eagerly seized upon. Morris and Company had to
extend their operations, and soon no home with any claim to decorative
charm was felt to be complete without its vine and fig-tree so to
speak--from Queen Square; and before long a typical Morris room was
given to the British Public to dine in at the South Kensington (now
the Victoria and Albert) Museum.

The great advantage and charm of the Morrisian method is that it lends
itself to either simplicity or to splendour. You might be almost
plain enough to please Thoreau, with a rush-bottomed chair, piece of
matting, and oaken trestle-table; or you might have gold and lustre
(the choice ware of William de Morgan) gleaming from the sideboard,
and jewelled light in your windows, and walls hung with rich arras
tapestry.

Of course, a host of imitators appeared, and manufacturers and
upholsterers were quick to adapt the more superficial characteristics,
watering down the character a good deal for the average taste--that
is, the timid taste of the person who has not made up his mind, which
may be described as the "wonder-what-so-and-so-will-think-of-it"
state--but its effects upon the older ideas of house decoration were
definite. Plain painting displaced graining and marbling, frankly
but freely conventionalized patterns routed the imitative and nosegay
kinds. Leaded and stained glass filled the places which were wont to
be filled with the blank despair of ground glass. The white
marble mantelpiece turned pale before rich hangings and deep-toned
wall-papers, and was dismantled and sent to the churchyard.

These were some of the most marked effects of the adoption of the new,
or a return to older and sounder ideas in domestic decoration.

The quiet influence of the superb collections at the Victoria and
Albert Museum, and the opportunities of study, open to all, of the
most beautiful specimens of mediaeval, renascence, and oriental design
and craftsmanship of all kinds must not be forgotten--an influence
which cannot be rated as of too much importance and value, and which
has been probably of more far-reaching influence in its effect on
designers and craftsman than the more direct efforts of the Art
Department to reach them through its school system. By means of this,
as is well known, it was sought to improve the taste and culture of
artisans by putting within their reach courses of study and exercises
in drawing and design, the results of which, it was hoped, carried
back into the practice of their various trades and handicrafts, would
make them better craftsmen because better draughtsmen. Now, if we were
to ask why on the whole the system has not been so fruitful of result
in this direction we should find ourselves plunged at once into the
deep waters of economic conditions, of the relations of employer and
employed, of hours, of wages, of commercial competition, trade unions,
and, in fact, should bring the whole Labour question about our ears.

Of course the whole scheme of the schools of design was based upon the
idea of improvement _downwards_, and like many modern improvements,
or reforms, its contrivers sought to make the tree of art flourish and
put forth new leaves without attending to the nourishment of the roots
or touching the soil. But the drawing-board and the workshop-bench
are after all two very different things, and it is by no means certain
that proficiency at one would necessarily produce a corresponding
improvement at the other, except indeed, it be on the principle that
if a man acquires one language it will be easier for him to learn
others. But at this point another consideration comes in. You get your
student seated at his drawing-board, you set him to represent at the
point of his pencil or chalk certain objects, casts, for instance, and
encourage him to portray their appearance with all relief of light
and shade, dwelling solely on the necessity of his attaining a certain
degree of purely pictorial skill, which in itself is really of no
practical use to a designer of ornament intended to be worked out in
some other material such as a textile, wood, or metal. In fact, the
development of pictorial skill has a strong tendency to lead the
student to devote himself entirely to pictorial work, and hitherto
there have been plenty of other inducements, such as the chance of
larger monetary reward and social position. If he is not ultimately
drawn into the already overcrowded ranks of the picture producers, he
is too likely to carry back into his own particular craft a certain
love of pictorial treatment and effect which may really be injurious
to his sense of fitness in adapting design and material. This indeed
is what evidently has happened as the result of much so-called
art-education, and we are only now slowly awakening to the conception
that art is not necessarily the painting of pictures, but that the
most refined artistic feeling may be put into every work of man's
hand, and that each after its kind gives more delight and becomes more
and more beautiful in proportion as it follows the laws of its own
existence--when a design is in perfect harmony with its material, and
one does not feel one would want it reproduced in any other way.

It is next to impossible to get this unity of design and material
unless the craftsman fashions the thing he designs, or unless the
designer thoroughly understands the conditions and allows them to
determine the character of his design, which he can hardly do
unless he is in close and constant touch with the craftsman. Now
the industrial conditions under which the great mass of things are
produced, which have gradually been developed in the interests of
trade rather than of art have tended to separate the designer
and craftsman more and more and to subdivide their functions. Our
enterprising manufacturers are quick enough to adopt or adapt an idea,
and some will pay liberally for it, but they do not always realize
that it does not follow because _one_ good thing is produced in a
limited quantity that therefore it must be much better if a cheap
imitation of it can be produced by the thousand--but then we no longer
produce for _use_ but for _profit_. Demand and supply--"thou shalt
have no other gods but these," says the trader in effect; although the
demand in these days may be as artificial as the supply.

The Nemesis of trade pursues the invention of the artist, as the
steamers on the river on boat-race day pursue, almost as if they would
run down, the slender craft of the oarsmen straining every nerve for
victory. It is a suggestive spectacle. Someone's brain and hand must
set to work--must give the initiative before the steam-engine can be
set going. But how many brains and hands, nay lives, has it devoured
since our industrial epoch began?

Up to about 1880 artists working independently in decoration were
few and far between, mostly isolated units, and their work was often
absorbed by various manufacturing firms. About that time, in response
to a feeling for more fellowship and opportunity for interchange of
ideas on the various branches of their own craft, a few workers in
decorative design were gathered together under the roof of the late
Mr. Lewis F. Day on a certain January evening known as hurricane
Tuesday and a small society was formed for the discussion of various
problems in decorative design and kindred topics; meeting in rotation
at the houses or studios of the members. The society had a happy if
obscure life for several years, and was ultimately absorbed into a
larger society of designers, architects, and craftsmen called "The
Art Workers' Guild," which met once a month with much the same
objects--fellowship and interchange of ideas and papers and
demonstrations in various arts and crafts. In fact, since artists more
or less concerned with decoration had increased, owing to the revived
activity and demand arising for design of all kinds, the feeling grew
stronger among men of very different proclivities for some common
ground of meeting. A desire among artists of different crafts to know
something of the technicalities of other crafts made itself felt, and
the result has been the rapid and continual growth of the Guild which
now includes, beside the principal designers in decoration, painters,
architects, sculptors, wood-carvers, metal-workers, engravers, and
representatives of various other crafts.

A junior Art Workers' Guild has also been established in connection
with the older body, and there are besides two Societies of Designers
in London, while in the provinces there is the Northern Art Workers'
Guild at Manchester and various local Arts and Crafts societies all
over the country.

We have, of course, our Royal Academy, or as it ought to be called,
Royal Guild of Painters in Oil, always with us; but its use of the
term "Arts" applies only (and almost exclusively so) to painting,
sculpture, architecture, and engraving, and while absorbing gifted
artists from time to time, often after they have done their best work,
it has never, as a body, shown any wide or comprehensive conception
of art, although it has done a certain amount of educational work,
chiefly through its valuable exhibitions of old masters and its
lectures and teaching in the schools, which are free, and where famous
artists act as visitors. Its influence in the main it is to be feared
has been to encourage an enormous overproduction of pictures every
year, and to foster in the popular mind the impression that there
was no art in England before Sir Joshua Reynolds, and none of any
consequence since, outside the easel picture.

The magnificently arranged and deeply interesting "Town-planning
Exhibition," held last year in connection with the International
Congress on that subject, however, was a new departure and most
welcome as an example of what might be done by the Royal Academy under
the influence of wider conceptions of art.

Nevertheless, the work of such fine decorative artists as Albert
Moore, Alfred Gilbert, Harry Bates has been introduced to the public
through the Royal Academy, these two last-named being members; and
once upon a time even a picture by Sir E. Burne-Jones appeared there.

Many gifted artists have strengthened the institution since these
passed away. The names of Watts and Leighton will always shed lustre
and distinction upon it, but of course the Academy necessarily
depends for its continued vitality upon new blood. The advantages of
membership are generally too strong a temptation to our rising artists
to encourage the formation of anything like an English "secession,"
though according to our British ideas of the wholesomeness of
competition or, let us say _emulation_, a strong body of independent
artists might have a good effect all round.

I have often wondered that no attempt has been made by the Royal
Academy to give a lead in the arrangement and hanging of an
exhibition. With the fine rooms at their disposal it would be possible
to make their great annual show of pictures far more striking and
attractive by some kind of classification or sympathetic grouping.
The best system, of course, would be to group the works of each artist
together. This, however, would take up more wall space and lead to
more exclusions than at present; but, still the plan might be tried
of placing all the portraits together, and, say, the subject pictures
according to scale, and the landscapes, arranging them in separate
rooms. Sculpture and architecture, and water colours and engravings
are already given separate rooms, so that it would only be extending a
principle already adopted. The effect of the whole exhibition would
be much finer, I venture to think, and also less fatiguing, and there
would probably be less chance of pictures being falsified or injured
by juxtaposition with unsympathetic neighbours. Surely some advance
is possible on eighteenth-century ideas of hanging, or the old days of
Somerset House? I respectfully commend the above suggestion to their
consideration.

While mentioning names we must not forget (although I have hitherto
dwelt rather on the Gothic side of the English revival) such
distinguished designers as the late Alfred Stevens and his able
followers Godfrey Sykes and Moody. These artists drew their
inspiration largely from the work of the Italian Renascence, and it
is a testimony to their remarkable powers--especially of the
first-named--that they should have achieved such distinction on the
lines of so marked a style, and one which, as it appears to me, had
already reached its maturity in the country of its birth, unlike
Gothic design, which might almost be said to have been arrested in its
development by the advent of the Renascence.

Another influence upon modern decorative art cannot be left out
of account, and that is the Japanese influence. The extraordinary
decorative daring, and intimate naturalism; the frank or delicate
colouration, the freshness, as of newly gathered flowers of many of
their inventions and combinations: the wonderful vivacity and truth of
the designs of such a master as Hokusai, for instance--these and the
whole disclosure of the history of their art (which, however, was
entirely derived from and inspired by the still finer art of the
Chinese), from the early, highly wrought, religious and symbolic
designs, up to the vigorous freedom and naturalism of the later time,
together with their extraordinary precision of technique, inevitably
took the artistic world by storm. Its immediate effects, much as we
may be indebted to such a source, cannot be set down altogether to
the good so far as we can trace them in contemporary European art;
but perhaps on the whole there is no more definitely marked streak of
influence than this of the Japanese. In French art it was at one time
more palpable still. In fact it might almost be said to have taken
entire possession of French decorative art, or a large part of it; or
rather, it is Japanese translated into French with that ease and chic
for which our lively neighbours are remarkable.

Whistler, by the way, who must be numbered with the decorators, showed
unmistakably in his work the results of a close study of Japanese
art. His methods of composition, his arrangements of tones of colour
declare how he had absorbed it, and applied it to different methods
and subjects, in fact, his work shows most of the qualities of much
Japanese art, except precision of drawing, although his earlier
etchings have this quality.

In modern decoration, the most obvious and superficial qualities of
Japanese art have generally been seized upon, and its general effect
has been to loosen the restraining and architectonic sense of balance
and fitness, and a definite ordered plan of construction, which are
essential in the finest types of design. On the whole, the effects
of the discovery of Japanese art on the modern artistic mind, may
be likened to a sudden and unexpected access of fortune to an
impoverished man. It is certain to disorganize if not demoralize him.
The sudden contact with a fresh and vigorous art, alive with potent
tradition, yet intimate with the subtler forms and changes of nature,
and in the full possession and mastery of its own technique--the
sudden contact of such an art with the highly artificial and eclectic
art of a complex and effete civilization must be more or less of the
nature of a shock. Shocks are said to be good for sound constitutions,
but their effect on the unsound are as likely as not to be fatal.

While fully acknowledging the brilliancy of Japanese art, however, one
feels how enormously they were indebted to the art of China, and the
greater dignity and impressiveness of the latter becomes more and more
apparent on comparison. Both in graphic characterization of birds
and animals and flowers and splendour of ornament, the Chinese both
preceded and excelled the Japanese. There were recently some striking
demonstrations of this at the British Museum, when Mr. Laurence Binyon
arranged a series of most remarkable ancient Chinese paintings on silk
side by side with Japanese work.

The opening of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, owing to the enterprise
of Sir Coutts Lindsay, was the means of bringing the decorative school
in English painting to the front, and did much towards directing
public attention in that direction.

What was known as "aestheticism" has, of course, been freely satirized
both by press and stage, which latter, however, was not slow to
avail itself of some of its results in the increased variety and
picturesqueness of its interior scenes, and the charm of delicate
harmonies of colour in draperies and costume. The movement was seized
upon by the commercial instinct, which always hastens to make hay
while the sun shines, and the aesthetic sun shone very gaily for
a time, in the society sense. It was somewhat amusing to see the
travesties of ideas which had been current in artistic circles for
long before, now proclaimed as the new gospel of aesthetic salvation.
But in spite of all the clamour, fashionable extravagance, and
ridicule, which obscured the real meaning of the movement, so far as
it was a sincere search after more beauty in daily life, its influence
is just as strong as ever, and is likely to increase with the growth
and spread of greater refinement, and the desire for more harmonious
social conditions.

Organizations continued to increase and multiply, having for their
object, in one way or another, the "encouragement" of the arts and
crafts of design, and whether for good or for evil, it cannot be
denied that their number and activity were, and are, remarkable signs
of the times--of an awakening interest in decorative art and a general
impulse towards ornamental expression. It is true in some instances
this impulse runs rather wild, and to some of its ruder results we
might even apply the words of the poet Cowper describing the gambols
of the kine at high noon:

  Though wild their strange vagaries, and uncouth
  Their efforts, yet resolved with one consent,
  To give act and utt'rance as they may
  To ecstasy, too big to be suppress'd.

It would be difficult to enumerate all the different associations
having for their object the teaching, or the spread of a knowledge
or love of decorative art and handicraft, outside the big trade
organizations and decorating firms, but among those who contributed
from various sides to the main stream mention may be made of "The
Century Guild," identified chiefly with the publication of its "Hobby
Horse," with its careful attention to the printer's art under the fine
taste in type and book ornaments of Mr. Herbert P. Horne. "The Home
Arts and Industries Association," which has started village classes in
various handicrafts all over the kingdom, has held annual exhibitions
at the Albert Hall, The Royal School of Art Needlework, now in noble
premises in Imperial Institute Road, The School of Art Woodcarving in
Pelham Place; while design on the strictly industrial and technical
side is cared for by the City and Guilds of London Institute under Sir
Philip Magnus.

Since these and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society were
established, the London County Council came into being and founded
its schools of Art and Craft all over London with the assistance of
members of that Society; it has now become the central authority in
technical education, and extends a helping hand (with a grant in aid)
to some of the schools above named.

All these institutions, and many more, invoke the name of art, and
desire to unite good design and workmanship, and also to find a market
for it. (Some of our large decorating firms would claim to have the
same objects perhaps.) Their great difficulty is how to produce good
designing ability out of nothing, as it were. All the crafts which
they specially address themselves to teach and cultivate are, after
all, entirely dependent for their interest and value upon vigour of
design and vital expression, and this cannot suddenly be forced into
existence by artificial heat. It is a power of slow development and
is nourished from all sorts of sources, and is as many sided as life
itself, being in fact only another form of life. You can lead a horse
to the water but you cannot make him drink. You can provide any number
of words but you cannot make people think, and the possession
of rhyming dictionaries will never make a poet, neither will the
possession of tools and a method make artists. This is, of course,
obvious enough. At the same time it may fairly be urged on the other
side that no one can learn to swim without entering the water, and it
is only by repeated experiments and years of patient labour that we
arrive at good results.

Genius is always rare, but efficiency is what keeps the world going,
and it must be said that admirable work in various crafts has been
produced in the London County Council Technical Schools. Their system
of scholarships gives opportunities to young people of promise to
carry on their studies, and pupils and apprentices in various trades
are enabled to gain a more complete knowledge of their craft and its
various branches than is possible in any ordinary workshop, as well as
tasteful ideas in design generally.

In the summer of 1886 the smouldering discontent which always exists
among artists in regard to the Royal Academy, although very often
only the result of personal disappointment, threatened to burst into
something like a flame. A letter appeared in the leading dailies
proposing the establishment of a really National Exhibition of
the Arts, which should include not only painting, sculpture, and
architecture, but also the arts of design generally. This letter was
signed by George Clausen, W. Holman Hunt, and the present writer. The
stronghold of the movement at first was among the group of painters,
distinguished as the Anglo-French school, whose headquarters were at
Chelsea, and who were the founders of the New English Art Club. The
idea of such a comprehensive exhibition was an exciting one, and
large and enthusiastic meetings of artists were held. It was however
discovered before long that the mass of the painters attracted by the
movement intended no more than to press a measure of reform on the
Royal Academy--to induce them to take, in fact, a leaf out of the book
of the French Salon as regards the mode of election of the hanging
committees of each year.

The decorative designers, however, perceiving their vision of a really
representative exhibition of contemporary works in all the arts fading
away, and the whole force of the movement being wasted in the forlorn
hope of forcing reforms upon the Academy, left the agitators in a
body, and proceeded to take counsel together as to the best means of
furthering their aims, and the immediate result was the founding of
the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society which, after many difficulties
opened its first exhibition at the New Gallery in the autumn of 1888.

The members of the Society, who were also most of them members of the
Art Workers' Guild aforementioned, were well aware of the difficulties
they would have to face in the endeavour to realize their aims,
and carry out their principles. Their main object, however, was to
demonstrate by means of a representative public exhibition the actual
state of decorative art in all its kinds as far as possible. They
desired to assert the claims of the decorative designer and craftsman
to the position of artist, and give every one responsible in any way
for the artistic character of a work full individual credit, by giving
his name in the catalogue, whether the work was exhibited by a firm or
not.

In spite of all drawbacks the richness and artistic interest of the
Exhibition was generally acknowledged, and the novelty of the idea
attracted the public.

An exhibition of designs and cartoons for decoration had been held by
the directors of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1881, but it was limited
to that class of work, so that this Arts and Crafts Exhibition may
be said to have been really the first which attempted anything like a
representative and comprehensive display of not only designs for work
but the actual work itself, for its artistic and decorative quality
alone. It comprised designs and cartoons, modelled work, woodcarving,
furniture, tapestry and embroidery and printed cottons, pottery,
tiles, and glass-metal work, jewellery, printed books, binding,
calligraphy and illuminations, and undoubtedly included some of the
best contemporary work which had been produced in England up to that
time. The Exhibition was repeated at the same place the following
year, at the same time, and also the year after. Since then, however,
the exhibitions of the Society have been held triennially, the latest
in January 1910 being the ninth.

It is obvious that exhibitions of this kind involve many more
difficulties of organization and management than ordinary picture
shows. The very fact of having to deal with such a variety of work as
was submitted, and the conditions under which work in decoration
is generally done (making it difficult for the artist to retain
possession of his work for exhibition purposes) make the formation of
such an exhibition at all no easy matter. Then there were two open and
palpable dangers to be encountered. The danger of being swamped by a
great influx of amateur work, as it is generally understood, on the
one hand, and the danger of merely commercial work getting the upper
hand on the other. To keep

  Along the narrow strip of herbage strown
  That just divides the desert from the sown

was a delicate matter, and it was easy to wander off into the regions
on either hand. For in spite of the immense activity and industry,
the independent artists in design and handicraft were but few, and
although many inventive brains and skilled hands might be disguised
as "---- and Company," they had to be discovered; the bushel had to
be taken away and the light put upon the candlestick of publicity,
and this appeared to be a trial to some. It might be thought to be
of small importance, this matter of assigning artistic authorship or
credit for any part of the work, where it was due; and it may be quite
true that when men have reached the point when artistic tradition and
social condition both favour a fraternal co-operation in production,
they can afford to sink the individual claim to distinction in the
collective pride of saying, "This is _our_ work." But we have
not reached that stage yet, and it seems only common fairness, if
individual and artistic responsibility is attached to a work, the
credit should go with these, and be assigned in the proper quarter. In
these days of commercial competition, and sculptor's "ghosts," it is
perhaps hardly surprising that the assertion of such a principle
might produce a little consternation, and also in cases of a great
multiplicity of cooks it might easily be understood to be embarrassing
to distribute properly the individual responsibility for spoiling the
broth, and therefore not wonderful that it should in some instances
have been shirked altogether.

As another indication of the way the wind was blowing, an Association
was formed this same year (1888) for the Advancement of Art in
Association with Industry--a somewhat large order. Almost everything
and everybody had had their congresses and why not Art? So an Art
Congress was arranged to take place at Liverpool in December of
that year. It was properly divided into sections for the separate
discussion of painting, architecture, sculpture, and decorative or
applied art, as the phrase goes. It may be mentioned here that the
Society of Arts had before this formed a special committee to arrange
for lectures and discussions on "The Applied Arts," and had also
offered prizes to art-workmen for excellence in various departments
of handicraft, and had held a small exhibition of such works in their
rooms in the Adelphi. Well, the Congress at Liverpool duly met, and
every one having a particular axe to grind brought it to the common
grindstone of public discussion. It was a fairly representative
parliament. The royal academician sat down with the socialist; the
scientific colour theorist fed with the practical decorator; the
industrial villager faced the manufacturer; the art critic and the
painter mingled their tears, and all were led to the pasture by a
gentle Fine Art professor. Some home truths were spoken and there were
many interesting papers and discussions, but whether we were really
nearer solving the problem how to bring about the marriage of Art and
Industry is doubtful, though the Association had another campaign at
Edinburgh the following year and one since at Birmingham. Association
and discussion among people of common interests is of course good, but
Art is a subject by its very nature difficult to deal with in words,
although perhaps more is said about it in these days than almost any
other subject--and here am I still adding to the sum!

  A hair perhaps divides the false and true.

We have no word-symbols for defining those delicate shades of
difference so important to the artist, and to be perpetually
qualifying is fatiguing. It is useful to consider art in its relation
to life; to consider how it is affected by economic conditions, to
study its history and influence, and the lives of its workers. One can
even proceed a certain distance with general principles, but finally
we must get down to the solid ground of practice to solve its real
problems.

All these movements may be but fluttering leaves in the wind, but
at least they serve to show its direction. The colours of spring
sometimes resemble those of autumn; but the former are distinguished
by a certain daintiness and delicacy: a soft bloom of silver and
russet comes over the woods before the cloud-like green drapes them
for the coming summer. When we see delicate and harmonious dyes and
patterns in the fabrics of the windows of commerce, when we see dainty
gowns in the street, expressing the fair forms of their wearers with
the grace of flowers; when we see a certain sense of relation and
harmony of tint in the most ordinary arrangements of paint and paper
in the interiors of our houses: when our chairs and couches not
unfrequently show lines of good breeding; when we find books on the
table which have been considered by their printers and designers
as works of art as well as of literature, and thus give a double
pleasure, since they satisfy more than one of the senses--well, we
begin to think that something has happened to us; some new spirit has
breathed upon the land, that such refinements should be possible to
the moderate citizen, remembering that such things but a few years ago
could not be had for love or money. We might still be happy were it
not for the whirlwind of trade, and the whirligig of fashion which
occasionally seem to coquette with art, as a child plays with a toy,
but soon turn away to continue their mad chase after a supposititious
"novelty." Happily they leave some quiet corners unswept, as they
have always done, or we could never have known what the homes of our
ancestors were like. But how many still does England hold of those
delightful places full of the pathos of old time, where each dumb
thing of wood or iron, or copper, each fragment of faded tapestry
seems to have the speech of romance.

  Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.

When the utilitarian would destroy such relics for the sake of "modern
improvements" we do not realize what priceless things we lose. We can
only realize it when we live for a time in country or city without
antiquity of any sort. Here in England there are still many places
where one might have the suggestion that we moderns were like children
playing with new toys in front of a rich tapestried background full of
great deeds and romances. In America the idea could not occur, and the
absence of such suggestion is no doubt much felt by the more cultured
and thoughtful, especially after visiting Europe. It may partly
account, too, for the more fantastic character in the architecture of
some of their recent country dwellings, which are full of nooks and
corners and odd gables and stairways, as if their designer wished to
make up by his invention for the absence of old time sentiment.

Some of us appear to be trying to turn England into another
America--for ever scheming railways where they are not wanted, cutting
down trees, and clearing away old dwelling places, and insulting even
the green fields with advertisements. Anything that interferes with
extra percentages is as dust in the balance to such.

In the destruction of beauty of any kind, however, is involved the
destruction of the faculty of its perception and appreciation. The
artistic capacity and sense of beauty must be fed by the contemplation
of beauty or both will in time perish. We cannot really satisfy one
of the senses unless we satisfy them all. It is often said, "you must
sacrifice this or that to comfort and convenience;" but it is quite
possible to have every so-called comfort and convenience, and yet to
be anything but happy or comfortable--especially if the comfort of the
eye is forgotten. Unless the utilitarian succeeds in eliminating the
sense of beauty and art altogether, the natural man will still revolt
against the tyranny of mechanical and artificial conditions. Such
revolts make epochs, and when the human mind is deeply stirred it is
sure sooner or later to find expression in some revival, or new form
of art.

A great intellectual revolution has taken place in the last half
century: a great social and industrial revolution is preparing, or
even now progressing. Whether art will again be able to sum up
and express adequately in monumental form the new life and its
aspirations, as it expressed the heart of ancient life in Greece and
mediaeval Europe, must depend upon its power of appeal, and this again
must depend upon the sensitiveness to form and colour on the part
of the people. In England the domestic sentiment is so strong that
enthusiasm for large public works is rare, and opportunities for
sculptor or painter to express anything like the generic thought
of their time, or to touch the pride or hopes of the nation rarer
still.[4] The art that is capable of illustrating this spirit is what
is called decorative art: but the art which can cover large mural
spaces with a peoples' history and legend in noble and typical forms,
the art which can lift our souls with large thoughts, or enchant them
with a sense of mystery and romance, can also be a familiar friend
at our firesides, and touch each common thing of every day use with
beauty, weaving its golden threads into the joys and sorrows of common
life, and making happy both young and old.


    [Footnote 4: It is true we have our frescoes of English
    history at the Houses of Parliament, but they cannot be said,
    with the exception of the work of Mr. G. F. Watts, to have
    been conceived in an epic spirit, but are rather anecdotic or
    incidental. Though the new pictures for the House of Lords
    by some of our ablest men of the younger school, such as
    Mr. Payne and Mr. Cadogan Cowper, show much finer mural and
    decorative feeling.]



THE SOCIALIST IDEAL AS A NEW INSPIRATION IN ART



  [Illustration]



THE SOCIALIST IDEAL AS A NEW INSPIRATION IN ART


Art as the commentator or the recorder of human life, reflecting not
only its physical aspects but its mental attitude, must necessarily be
influenced by every change which modifies the course and character of
that life. It is the sensitive plate in the camera of the mind of the
age which receives every image, every shadow which passes before the
lens of its vision, and, over and above the fleeting shows of the
hour, registers the prevailing sentiment of its period.

In proof of this we have only to look around us and see how intimately
the life and spirit of our own times are represented in the art of the
day, more especially pictorial art.

In any of our large annual popular mixed picture shows we may see the
effects of the modern commercial principle of individual competition.
Pictures of the utmost diversity of subject and treatment are crowded
together, clamorous for attention, often injured by the juxtaposition
of unsympathetic neighbours, the principal quality telling in such
a conflict being force. Certain dominant, or privileged, individuals
hold front places, but even the marked individual style of some
leading painters is apt to be discounted by numerous more or less
successful imitations.

Painters are said to be extreme individualists as a rule, and while,
no doubt, the economic conditions of the day tend to encourage this,
and to make painting more and more a matter of personal expression or
impression, yet, I think, the individuality of modern artists is more
apparent than real, and that it would not be difficult to classify
them in types, or to trace the main influences in their work to some
well-known artistic source either in the present or the past, or both.
This, however, would be in no way to their discredit, but it shows how
art, even in its most individualistic forms, is essentially a social
product, and that each artist benefits enormously by the work of his
contemporaries and his predecessors.

Our mixed picture exhibition also discloses another prominent
characteristic of our time--the domination of money, and the influence
of the possessing classes and material wealth. This appears in the
preponderance of portraits and the comparative absence of imaginative
works.

We may see the monarch and the political, financial, or commercial
magnate in all their glory; generals and admirals, slayers and
destroyers, in scarlet and blue and gold; the fashionable dame in
purple and fine linen; the motorist in his career; national pride
or imperialism is appealed to by pictures of battle and triumph over
inferior races; and sports and pastimes, especially those involving
the pursuit and death of birds and animals.

Nor is the reverse of the medal unrepresented, for we may see side by
side with brilliant ballroom scenes and banquets in marble halls, as
a picturesque contrast or foil perhaps, various aspects of poverty
and rags, sometimes sincere, sometimes sentimental, and occasionally
flashes of insight reveal the pathos of the toiler's lot in the field,
the factory, or on the treacherous ocean.

The genuine modern love of wild nature and landscape, and the roaming
spirit of travel is generally catered for by our painters; in
these directions, perhaps, may be detected the suppressed sigh of
super-civilized man for primitive freedom and natural conditions of
life, or,

  The devotion to something afar
  From the sphere of our sorrow.

With such mixed elements we may find some false sentiment, and
also sensationalism, not infrequently connected with Christian
sentimentality, and amid a fair allowance of military exploits, and
flag-waving imperialism, there may be a few well-staged masquerades
of past history, some grim and stark realism, perhaps, or gloomy
pictorial pessimism, and for the rest, decorative or amatory posings,
painted anecdotes and domesticities, flowers, babies, and bric-à-brac.

Thus, in pictorial form, with more or less completeness, the mixed
drama of our age is presented, its very discords even, and the absence
of any prevailing idea or unity of sentiment (except bourgeois) and
artistic aim is characteristic, as the pictures jostle one another in
a competitive crowd, each struggling for a share of attention.

Painters of the Latin and the Teutonic races are more dramatic, and
also more daring in their conceptions, and often appear to strip the
mask (or the fig-leaf) from objects and subjects which the more timid
or prudish Anglo-Saxon would discreetly veil. Grim pictures of the
industrial war not unfrequently appear in Italian and French salons,
and in that of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts I have seen large
and lurid canvases depicting strikers on the march with a background
of factory chimneys looming through the smoke. Apart from their
economic and historical significance, however, such subjects may
fall in with a certain mood of gloom and pessimism which, in violent
reaction from superficial grace and beauty, and classical tradition,
manifests itself in some quarters. Now and again a new sensation is
made by some eccentric genius, as it were, dragging a weird aesthetic
red herring across the fashionable artistic scent, and diverting
attention to side tracks in artistic development, often mixed with
morbidity, or, as a change from the pursuit of superficial and
ephemeral types of beauty, debased and revolting types and loathly
subjects are drawn under the pictorial limelight and analysed.

So, in the pictorial world, the economic system under which we live
makes itself felt by encouraging each artist to fight for his own
hand, and to become a specialist of one sort or another, unless he can
live by exploiting some other artist's discovery and method.

Few, probably, among artists are fully conscious of this compulsion,
or, at least, of its cause, and but few trouble themselves about the
economic system, but mostly, though not without social sympathies,
take the risks, as individuals, of swimming or sinking, with the off
chance of fortune and fame, as in the necessary order (or disorder) of
things.

Yet the economic position of the modern artist can hardly be
considered as at all satisfactory, dependent as he is mainly upon
the caprice of the rich, or the control of the dealer, and upon
the surplus value and unearned increment it may be in the power of
individuals to spend upon art.

Painting, however, though the most individual, popular, vivid, and
intimate of the arts, is not the _only_ art, and the arts, like
humanity, do not flourish under Imperial rule. They are a brotherhood
or a sisterhood (they are traditionally represented as the latter)
though, in neither case are they necessarily celibate; on the
contrary, for it is by the union of art with a human character and
personality that living offspring are produced.

From the point of view of the necessities of the community (and
amongst these necessities I would certainly count beauty of
environment) the constructive arts come first in order.

Man needs shelter and security, and therefore architecture and the
craft of building take the first place, since without roof and walls
it would be difficult to enjoy the other arts which minister to our
comfort, refinement, and pleasure (nor would it be hardly possible
for many of them to exist) unless we could satisfy our aesthetic
predilections by textiles and a tent, or by painting or chiselling the
walls of a cave.

Now architecture or the art of building is essentially a co-operative
art. The planning and general scheme of the design of a building may
indeed emanate from one mind, but its realization needs an army of
skilled artificers and artists--stonemasons, carvers, carpenters,
smiths, tilers and plasterers, and a host of labourers working
harmoniously together. And yet, in order to make the building really
expressive--a work of art, in short--something more than training
and manual skill, something above learned tradition, and beyond even
organized co-operative labour is wanted.

What, then, is this something--this unknown quantity or quality?

What makes the great difference between ancient and modern
architecture, we might ask, for it is in the answer to this question
that we find the answer to our first?

Unity of sentiment--the inspiration of a great ideal, this it was
which enabled the artists and craftsmen of past great periods in art
to work in harmony on great public monuments, but without losing their
character or individuality, as the different parts of the work might
be full of invention and variety, and yet conduce to a harmonious
whole, as in a Gothic cathedral.

Mr. Halsey Ricardo, in an interesting address recently given to the
Architectural Association of London, aptly described the architecture
of Ancient Egypt as "priest's architecture"; that of Ancient Assyria
as "the architecture of kings"; the architecture of Greece he
considered as "sculptor's architecture," and that of the revived
classicism of the Renascence as "the architecture of scholars." Well,
these have all had their day. The turn of the people must come, and
in the architecture of the future, under the inspiration of the
great Socialist Ideal we may realize what may be described as the
architecture of humanity.

And, looking to the probable requirements of a co-operative
commonwealth, this hope seems to be well founded in view of the
likelihood of the construction of collective dwellings (already
projected in the garden city) of noble public halls and schools.

The unifying effect of a great Ideal, a Hope, a Faith, is obviously
wanting generally in modern architecture, wherein the influence most
paramount is too often the limits of the builders' contract.

The golden image (which yet is never, like Nebuchadnezzar's, actually
"set up") is the real god bowed down to, whosesoever the image and
superscription over the porchway, and so modern art is everywhere tied
to the purse strings.

But the money-bag makes a poor device for an escutcheon, and is still
less effective as an inspirer in art. The standard of the man in
possession is "market value," and art under capitalism has become
mostly a kind of personal and often portable property, and as much a
matter for speculative investment as stocks and shares.

As money cannot write history or ancestry, every portable bit of
antiquity is now in danger of being bought up by dealers for the use
of millionaires, and we shall soon have no visible history but in our
museums.

But, above the din of the market and the confusion of political
tongues, a clarion call is heard, and through the darkness breaks a
new dawn.

The Socialist Ideal comes, scattering the clouds of pessimism and
decadence which have lain heavily on the spirit of modern art.

Artists have already been touched by the stress and stir of the
struggle of Labour and the pathos of the life of the toiler, who, as
a patient Atlas, sustains the earthy heaven of wealth and luxury. In
contact with the earth again, and in sympathy with the life of the
people, many painters have found inspiration.

One of the greatest of modern sculptors--Meunier, the Belgian (alas!
now no more) was himself a Socialist, and devoted himself to the study
and realization of types of heroic labour--the labour that takes its
life in its hand in every ordinary day's work--at the furnace mouth
or in the coal mine. A group of his figures and reliefs forms a noble
epic in bronze of the modern toiler.

François Millet may be said to have painted the epic of the French
agricultural labourer, though not, apparently, from any conscious
or revolutionary point of view, but rather as a sympathetic observer
recording its pathos.

Much in the same spirit Joseph Israels in Holland, and Liebermann in
Germany, have painted aspects of the worker's life.

Many of our island painters from a similar standpoint have painted
the English workers--such as George Clausen, H. H. La Thangue, Frank
Brangwyn, Stanhope Forbes, H. S. Tuke, Prof. Frederick Brown, the late
Charles Furse, and the late F. Madox Brown--and shown us the toilers
of the sea and land, and the nameless heroes of the life-boat, and the
tragedies of the fishing village.

The aspects of labour under modern conditions, indeed, have a
deep significance, more, perhaps, than the artist or the labourer,
unconscious of Socialism, is probably aware of.

To the artist it is always invigorating to get down to the roots of
life, and draw fresh inspiration from the simple life of simple people
meeting nature face to face every day of their lives.

The representation of types and aspects of modern labour, however,
may or may not always be an indication of the effect of Socialist
sympathies or the inspiration of the Socialist Ideal, and in any case
it only exhibits one phase of such sympathy. But the Socialist ideal
has undoubtedly had a great influence in another direction, namely,
in what are generally known as the "Arts and Crafts"; and it is not a
little remarkable that the modern revival in Design and Handicraft may
claim manufacturing and individualistic England as its birthplace.

This fact has been freely and generously acknowledged by our
Continental brethren.

The perception of the essentially social character of the arts that
minister to daily life, and the dependence of Design and Handicraft
upon effective and sympathetic co-operation among groups of workers
have drawn craftsmen together, and has led in some sort to a revival
of guilds. Some of these guilds, like the Art Workers' Guild (founded
as long ago as 1884) are for discussion of a demonstration in the
various artistic handicrafts, and for mutual information and help.

The influence of such guilds in the revival of many beautiful crafts
on sound lines, and, above all, in imbuing artists of different crafts
with a sense of the unity of art can hardly be overestimated.

Other guilds, groups of workers, and industrial associations have
been formed in many parts of the country for the practice of the
handicrafts, influenced by the teaching of John Ruskin and William
Morris. Others, again, are hardly more than commercial enterprises,
but all endeavour to meet in one way or another the increasing public
interest in hand-work.

This English movement of the last twenty-five or thirty years or so is
usually traced to the workshop of William Morris, who, with a group of
distinguished artists, represented the advanced school in English art
at that time, founded the firm which still bears his name some time in
the sixties, mainly, at first, to supply artists and people of refined
taste with simple furniture and domestic decoration that they could
live with.

Morris, who became so conspicuous an instance later, of the influence
of the Socialist Ideal, was not then a conscious Socialist, though
he was from the first in constant protest against the false taste and
pretentiousness of modern decorative art, which had sunk to a very
commercial and common-place level under mid-nineteenth century
industrial conditions, controlled by division of labour and the
machine.

The fact that he was a poet and a man of letters as well as an
artist gave additional force to his revolution in English taste,
and increased his influence very much, while his own position as
an employer, and man of business brought him face to face with the
conditions of labour and modern industry. Although in his own work and
the work he controlled he was highly successful, and by the vigour and
beauty of his designs, under mediaeval influence, especially in woven
stuffs and wall coverings, he quite turned the tide of taste, he
abandoned hope that there could be any real or lasting improvement in
the arts under the existing economic and social conditions, and he did
not seem to share in the belief which has animated some of his friends
and followers, that the Arts and Crafts movement itself would prove
a means of revolutionizing methods of production and carrying on an
effective propaganda for Socialism.

The next step forward was made by the Arts and Crafts Exhibition
Society which was founded in 1888 by a group of artists which included
architects, painters, sculptors, as well as designers and craftsmen of
different kinds.

The society arose from the ruins of a sort of secessionist movement
of painters against the Royal Academy and its narrow views of art and
exclusiveness. Among its members were men of very different ideas,
but with these were several fully convinced and conscious Socialists,
strongly imbued with Morris's ideals, though Morris himself did not at
first join us, the present writer being elected as first president
and serving in that office for the first three years of the society's
existence, when Morris was elected to the chair and served till his
death in 1896.

Our main and ostensible purpose was to advance the state of the
decorative arts by uniting design and handicraft, and by acknowledging
the share and artistic responsibility of the individual workmen
who co-operated in the production of a work of art, also to give
opportunities to designers and craftsmen to exhibit their work and
appeal directly to the public, and by holding selected exhibitions
of design and handicraft from time to time to maintain a standard of
taste and workmanship which hitherto there had been no means of doing.

Courses of lectures on the arts by members of the society accompanied
our earlier exhibitions, and these have since been published, and by
such means our propaganda was greatly extended.

If we cannot claim to have solved the Labour question, which, of
course, nothing short of a Socialist system can do, we have asserted
the claims of decorative and industrial art and of the craftsman, and
we have enabled a body of artistic craftsmen to appeal direct to the
public, while many of our members through teaching bodies, such as
the Board of Education and the County Councils have been the means
of inculcating sound traditions of workmanship among large numbers of
young students and apprentices from various trades who go to study in
the evening schools, and so carry back into their ordinary work fresh
ideas and enhanced skill and taste.

The influence of the Arts and Crafts movement has certainly been
socialistic in increasing the respect for workmanship, and in
awakening the sense of the public to the need of humane and healthful
conditions for the workers, over and above the inculcation of the
desire for beauty in common things, and harmonious surroundings of a
refined if simple life.

Its quiet methods still serve indirectly the propaganda of the
Socialist Ideal.

Only recently, for instance, an exhibition was organized in London of
the work of various Guilds of Handicraft, by a lady on the staff of
a well-known Socialist weekly journal, which demonstrated on the one
hand the joy in art and handicraft under happy and fair conditions for
the worker, and on the other showed the conditions of "sweated" labour
by living examples working at their miserably paid trades.

A river gathers volume by the contributions of the small streams which
flow into it, and so with the great movement of Socialism, which,
comprehending as it does, the whole range of human effort and
aspiration, is continually widening and increasing in depth and force,
not only by the direct action of its leaders, and the support of its
conscious followers, but in many indirect ways. The sum of which it
would be difficult to estimate though every influence counts, and even
the very opposition of enemies often has the contrary effect to
that intended by them, and not only so, but as we may observe in the
political arena these are sometimes driven to defend their position
by borrowing palliative weapons from the armoury of those they profess
bitterly to oppose.

The forms which art will take when Socialism is actually established
will probably be very different from those which herald its advent.
The consideration of such a large subject involves much speculation,
but from the analogy of the inspiring influence of the ancient
religions which have held sway over mankind, and which, controlling
the whole of human life, focussed the most beautiful art upon its
mysteries and beatitudes, and drew both the senses and the intellect
of man into their service, we cannot but believe that the feeling
of the solidarity of humanity, and all that it implies, which would
dominate all social thought and conduct in a collective socialized
community, would become a religion, when its full significance and its
bearing on every department of life was fully realized; but a religion
free from the shadow of degrading superstitions, and from the taint of
asceticism, and under which there would be no shirking of either the
work or the enjoyment of the earth--a religion whose highest sanction
would be human happiness, and in which its votaries would discover
not only a sound rule of conduct for every-day life, but an inspiring
ideal to lead the spirit ever onwards.

Human history would acquire a new significance in the mind of the poet
and the artist, as they beheld, in the long course of evolution, the
race in a vast procession emerging from the mists of primaeval time;
from its early struggles with wild nature; from the gens and the
tribal state, finding safety in primitive communism, and in that state
beholding the invention of the essential fundamental necessities and
appliances, such as the spade, the plough, and the wheel, the spinning
and weaving of cloth, pottery, and the birth of song and art.

From the tragic vicissitudes of history, of race-conflict, of conquest
and domination of warlike tribes and the institution of slavery, the
foundation and influence of the great ancient states and empires,
and their inevitable decay and fall, and the new order springing from
their ruins; the tragic tale of wars and pestilence and famine, of
flood and of fire and of earthquake, and yet onward still through all
these perils and disasters we may see humanity marching beneath the
banner of social justice to fulfil its destiny; the hero spirits still
passing the torch of enlightenment and freedom from hand to hand, and
as one sinks into the silence another advances towards the full flush
of the new morning.

Transfigured in that new light may we not see a recreated earth, and
her children set free from the bondage of gold whether of spirit or
of body--the race of man entering into its inheritance at last, having
triumphed over the worst and most insidious of all the despotisms that
have ever dominated the earth--Capitalism.

Then under the collective control of the means of existence, when
none shall be crippled or stunted by want, or degraded by forced or
unhealthy labour, what a different thing life will mean to the people.
The cloud of care and anxiety to secure a bare subsistence which
now darkens the spirit of millions shall be lifted, as well as its
inverted reflection in the parsimonious spirit of some who have never
known want, and all the sordid ingenuity, toil, scheming, craft, and
trouble to win a lucky throw in the commercial speculative gamble will
pass away, and we may begin to live.

The whole noxious and squalid brood of vices and crimes connected with
the individual possession of riches, or the desire for them, or
the want of them, being swept away, we may begin to understand the
possibilities of life upon this earth, in so far as they may be in the
collective power of man. With all the resources of science, and the
potential glories of art in our hands, with unprecedented control
over the forces of nature, and in full knowledge of the essentials
of health, these being all dedicated to the service of the whole
community, who would thus be in possession of the elements and
materials for a full and happy human life, surely we shall find new
and abundant inspiration for art, and constant social use and demand
for its powers.

In depicting the story of man, and the drama of life; in great public
monuments; in commemoration of the past, in the education of the
present; in the adorning of domestic and public buildings and
places; in the accompaniments of great festivals, processions, and
celebrations--in such directions, surely, we shall find the
widest possible field for the exercise of all the capacities of
art--architecture, painting, sculpture and the arts of design and
handicraft, with music and poesy, as in the fullness of communal
life we shall possess the materials for building and maintaining fair
cities, and dwelling places surpassing in beauty anything that the
history of the world has yet recorded, since their foundations will
rest upon the welfare of the whole people.



ON THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF ART



ON THE STUDY AND PRACTICE OF ART


Various views of an artist's life, and motives for following art are
apt to present themselves to those on the threshold of the vast field
of its study, but these after all may mostly be summed up in one of
the two governing reasons, which may be expressed as follows:

  1. The pure love of art.

  2. The sake of a livelihood.

(A third, _for pastime_, sometimes comes in, but may be dismissed as
art cannot be studied to any purpose except in a serious spirit.)

In practice it generally comes about that these first two have to be
reconciled in some way, and it becomes a pressing question sooner or
later as to _how_ to do so, though it is always well to remember that
there is no _natural_ connection between love and money in the arts
and, indeed, it would be better if all work could be inspired by and
done for love. At the same time, under present economic arrangements,
the labourer is at least worthy of his hire; and it might also be
said that when poverty comes in at the door art--if not love--is
apt (though not always) to fly out of the window. The same sequence
sometimes happens also with the sudden advent of riches, which also
has a way of throwing domestic arrangements out of harmony, so that
here, as in other cases, extremes meet, and _too much_ may be as bad
as _not enough_ in its effects upon art.

To paint great masterpieces and make fame and fortune is an ambition
given to few to realize. The masterpiece at all events must be a
labour of love, whether fame or fortune follow or not, and in the
history of art it has happened over and over again that masterpieces
have not been instantly recognized, and the master usually has had to
wait for recognition and reward--if that can be said in any real sense
to lie outside the accomplishment of his work. Good art, like virtue,
is its own reward. Yet, as a financial character remarks, in a play of
Mr. George Moore's, "Man cannot live by virtue alone." Virtue itself
indeed requires appropriate conditions for its development and
sustenance, just as the artist requires support and sympathy.

The warm breath of appreciation will draw up the sap of creative
impulse and it will put forth bud and leaf, blossom and fruit.

This potentiality for art, exists in a rudimentary way though in very
varying degrees in perhaps all individuals, but as a general rule
skill and facility are only acquired at the price of constant
devotion, a devotion spontaneous and sincere. Even great gifts and
natural or inherited adaptability require to be strengthened and made
supple by study and constant practice and observation. I have alluded
to the importance of a sympathetic atmosphere, and it sometimes
happens that the germ of artistic impulse has to struggle with adverse
circumstances, and it becomes a question of its strength and endurance
whether it will survive till more favourable opportunities for its
development arrive.

Where from the earliest the student has been surrounded by the tools
and implements of art, when he has seen it progressing before his
eyes, the gain is enormous over those who take up their studies late,
and to whom the world of art is comparatively mysterious and strange.
The mere imitative impulse, which appears to be possessed in common
by all mankind in a certain degree, will in the first instance gain a
certain ease and facility of hand in dealing with tools--say pencil,
brush and colour, which itself is a very great advantage to begin
with. In fact, the first consideration in studying art is _facility
of hand_. Without it, really nothing can be done since the power of
expression is so much dependent upon it.

In this connection I was much struck, while in America, with a method
adopted by a teacher (Mr. Liberty Tadd)[5] in Philadelphia, a city in
which very great attention was being paid to all forms of technical
instruction. Well, this teacher did not profess to train artists at
all. His object was to give _facility of hand_. He took children of
various ages--quite young to begin with--from the ordinary primary
schools, and set them to draw on the black board with a piece of
chalk in each hand certain figures. Circles to begin with, and certain
symmetric forms of ornament as shown in the diagram. The facility
they acquired was extraordinary. He then set them to what he called
"memorize" these forms and combine them in design as they best could,
and to model such designs in clay, and to carve them in wood.

Well, it struck me this might be capable of development. At any rate,
clearly, facility of hand could be developed by exercise, just as
muscular strength can be.

  [Illustration: PROGRESSIVE BLACKBOARD PRACTICE IN BI-MANUAL TRAINING.

  (From "New Methods in Education," by Liberty Tadd).]

From such simple exercises a student might advance, and those who
developed more faculty or taste in certain directions rather than
others--say in modelling rather than drawing, or in carving--might
pursue further those particular branches, making them main studies to
which other side studies would contribute. The use of colour, and
the habit of working directly on the paper with the brush, like the
Japanese, would again give enormous facility and precision of touch,
of great value both to the designer of patterns and also to the
pictorial artist. The direct brush method has been, since this was
first written, practised in our schools, often with surprising results
indicating considerable design faculty in young children. Method is
so much a question of habit, and in so many departments of
design precision of touch and directness of execution are of such
importance--in the preparation of working designs for cotton printing
for instance. The india-rubber, I am inclined to think, sometimes is
the root (or the sap) of all evil.

It is for this quality of precision and technical adaptability to
the conditions of manufacture which has, I believe, induced many
manufacturers to seek their designs and working drawings on the
continent. From the specimens I have seen however, I cannot say I am
impressed with the originality or fertility of the designs, and when,
too--though I am by no means of the Jingo persuasion--it came to
getting your British lion designed abroad, unicorn and all the rest of
the national heraldry, it seemed rather a _reductio ad absurdum_. Yet
after all, of course, we must concede morally our French or German
brother has as much right to life as we. Competitive commerce
certainly is no respecter of nationality. We must all take our chance
in the world market nowadays. We are all chained to the conqueror's
car. We want a new Petrarch to write the triumph of commercialism, and
a new designer to picture it, as the old triumphs are depicted with
every splendour of inventive accessory, and magnificence of decorative
effect in those Burgundian tapestries at Hampton Court and South
Kensington. Well, I am afraid the modern triumph, such as it is, is
pictured for us in the rampant poster, which pursues us in and out of
stations, up and down streets, and even along the railway lines, which
last vantage ground hitherto has been the prerogative of our American
cousins. I do not say the poster has no place in art, and many very
able artists have designed posters, and, on the whole, our free
popular exhibitions on the hoardings have gained both in interest
and printing skill, and decorative effect of late years. Under
considerable restraint and chastening it might be possible to make
the announcement of useful wares and theatrical events at least
inoffensive, perhaps, and it may be that the mere working of
competition will produce a demand for more refined productions, since
when all shout together no one voice is likely to be heard, and the
accepted theory of a poster is that it _must_ shout--but let us keep
it out of our scenery. Any way the subject is important since our
hoardings are evidently the most obviously public education in
pictorial and typographical design. It is, after all, what meets our
eyes every day that influences us. It is the surrounding--the set
scene of every-day life that affects our artistic sense more than
anything. While a visit to a museum or art gallery is only an
occasional matter, except for students, the mass of mankind must take
their impressions of colour and form from what they see around them.

It is, we know, the persistence and aggregation of small causes that
have played the chief part in the modelling of the earth as we see
it, and which are continually changing its aspect. In like manner the
general sense or sensitiveness to beauty is acted upon unconsciously,
I have no doubt, by the aspects of every-day life, by the colours
and forms of the street and the market as well as by the pictures and
furniture of our domestic interiors. If this theory is correct, it
follows that anything which impairs that sensitiveness must injure the
faculty of its appreciation and production.

We have been too careless in this matter, and constant toleration
and familiarity with hideous surroundings brutalizes and blunts
the perceptions, and seeing how largely ugliness of form and colour
prevails in at least the externals of modern life, especially of our
manufacturing centres, it is perhaps not surprising that a certain
cult, a certain worship of the ugly should have obtained a footing
even in art.

I do not deny there are certain tragic aspects of industrialism, a
certain weird fascination in drifting clouds of smoke, and beauty in
the forms of escaping steam, and that graphic representations of the
various restless aspects of modern life, have, in proportion to their
sincerity, historic value. It is at all events _our_ life and must
be recorded, though it leads to the art of the newspaper--but a great
deal of clever art can be put into a newspaper. Our newspapers are
perhaps getting the better of us; like Chronos the press devours its
own children, and no one knows how many geniuses are yearly swallowed
up, or how many lives and talents consumed in order that the
comfortable world shall have its dish of news and views at the
breakfast table, as well as in successive relays, served up like
muffins, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the electric
light. Well, Art, like literature, may be said to be divided into
prose, poetry, and penny-a-lining, or, to find equivalents we might
say, the creative, the pictorial, and the pot-boiling kinds. The first
two are governed by their own laws and the individual preferences of
the artist, the third depends upon fashion, the state of the markets,
averages and the laws of supply and demand.

Now it seems quite possible in an artistic life, while preserving
an ideal of beauty of design and workmanship in whatever direction
without sacrifice of principle, to remain in touch with the ordinary
wants of humanity--to realize that that art is not necessarily the
highest which is always in the clouds, but, indeed, that all kinds
of art gain in character and beauty in proportion as the ideas they
express are incarnate as it were--inseparable from the particular
materials in which they are embodied. Their peculiar conditions and
limitations openly and frankly acknowledged, and so far from being
felt in the nature of a bondage, really are aids to distinct and
beautiful decoration, as is the case in all the arts and crafts of
design, showing that sincerity is the fundamental condition of good
design and workmanship, which never pride themselves on imitating
qualities which properly belong to other forms of art and other
materials.

There are two systems, or methods, or principles of education in art.

  i. The Academic or absolute.

  ii. The Experimental, or relative, and adaptive.

The one teaching art or design in the abstract on certain
cut-and-dried principles and methods, and fixed canons and standards,
passing every mind through the same mill, without special reference to
any particular conditions of craftsmanship or individual preference.

The other teaching design in concrete forms and in direct relation
to tools, methods and materials, with the object of calling out the
individual feeling and setting it free to express itself under the
natural limitations of art in its own way.

The latter is the method of our new technical and Arts and Crafts
schools, so that a student may really acquire a practical working
knowledge of the peculiar requirements of design to be reproduced in
any process of manufacture, instead of being launched on the world
with vague general ideas of drawing and painting, but ignorant of how
to apply them.

It of course remains to be proved how far technical schools can really
efficiently take the place of the old workshop training under the
apprenticeship system, which led to good results in the past, but
while one must of course recognize that changed times require new
methods, we ought also clearly to realize that efficiency in the use
of tools and materials, and adaptability to materials, with the view
of bearing on the prosperity of trade and supplying manufacturers with
more highly skilled designers and workmen, with increased competition,
go to form _one_ aim and ultimate object. Quite another is the like
efficiency, governed by the fresh creative impulse of artists and
craftsman taking keen pleasure in their work, with leisure for
reflection and enjoyment, and the gathering of fresh ideas from
no poor, mean or stinted life, and not deprived of the stimulating
influences of natural or architectural beauty, or the touch of
refinement, and with the stimulating emulation and co-operation of
fellowship instead of cut-throat competition.

These are two ideals somewhat distinct. It remains to be seen which
goal we shall ultimately reach, but much depends upon which we
each individually work for, since individual impulse and action are
precipitated in the collective force which finally moves the world.

At present the requirements of artistic ideals are not always
identical with the demands of commerce, and sometimes not so in any
sense at all. There must be always I should think some particular
individual reserve in the artist which must bide its time and the
fitting medium and opportunity for its expression. The world is slow
to apprehend new manifestations of original talent and will not
accept immature masterpieces. It becomes a question therefore for the
individual artist how far he can, without casting away or losing sight
of his higher ideals and aspirations, associate himself with work of a
less ambitious, more immediately serviceable, but not necessarily less
artistic kind. It is here that technical knowledge will come in to
help him, and there is room for the very best talents and invention
in design in the work of the loom, and the printing press, iron,
wood, stone, metal, glass, in a thousand materials and forms which
contribute to build up the life of ordinary civilized man. When the
design and construction of our furniture, and the various patterns and
accessories which minister to the daily wants of humanity fall into
purely mechanical hands, and artistic craftsmen no longer concern
themselves with the unity of use and beauty, the sense of beauty and
pleasure in life which comes of the exercise of the artistic
faculty and of its appreciation, both are in a fair way to perish of
inanition.

It cannot too often be insisted on that the vital springs which
nourish the growth of the tree of art to its topmost branches must be
looked for in the harmonious character of all things connected with
life itself, and since human happiness is bound up with harmonious
social arrangements in all ways, the importance of such considerations
cannot well be exaggerated.

As in the pursuit of art we advance in the possession and
interpretation of beauty and in the power of conferring higher
pleasure to the cultivated senses and intellect, so are the forms of
art apt to be placed higher in the scale: but High Art can only mean
the art which embodies the highest beauty and conveys the most lasting
and ennobling pleasure. It is its _quality_ more than its particular
_form_ which settles this. Sharp lines of demarcation are often drawn
between fine art and decorative, or industrial, art, for instance,
which have proved very misleading. A good design is far and away
better than a bad picture any day, but the arts are really an equal
brotherhood. Excellence in any one branch probably requires as fine
capacities as excellence in another. Beauty is of different kinds, but
perfect beauty of design and workmanship must be acknowledged to be
so, after its kind, whenever we meet with it, and who shall hold the
scales between one kind of beauty and another.

If an exquisite work of the loom--say such a Persian carpet as may be
seen in the Victoria and Albert Museum, satisfies the eye with lovely
and subtle harmonies of colour, with delicate and beautiful and
inventive design, and even suggestions of romance and poetry: can
the finest work of the painter give us more? Are threads and dyes
necessarily inferior to pigments and palettes, or the loom less a work
of ingenious joinery than the easel?

Whatever may be the official and scientific classification of the arts
agreed on, there is but one spirit in which to study and practice
in any or all of them--sincerity and the love of beauty. "Strive to
attain excellence in the things which are themselves excellent"
sounds a good dictum but it is thoroughly Academic. Certain things are
assumed to be excellent, and then excellence is to be striven for in
them and in them alone. But how often in life--in the history of art
and humanity has it been that some great artist and inventor has taken
some poor despised thing and made it excellent. Think of the wealth of
beauty and invention which makes alive the smallest fragment of
Gothic carving, and invests every cup and bowl, every bench end and
knife-handle of the middle ages with beauty and romance. The commonest
weed may contain a fine motive in design, just as, in another way,
the whole spirit of Japanese art in its weird, half-supernatural
naturalism and magic delicacy of touch, may haunt a tiny ivory button,
or be wrought into a sword hilt.

It does not follow that everything should be ornamented. Artistic
feeling is shown often as much in the judgement which restrains
or forbids ornament as in the fertility of invention from which it
springs.

Organic consistency, adaptation to purpose, harmony and relation to
surroundings. These are qualities at least as important as ornament.

Yet it seems often to be thought that decorative art means ornamenting
something: but the very word decoration must mean something
appropriate--fitting, perfectly adapted.

The engineer who borrows cast-iron Roman capitals and mouldings
to adorn the iron railing and supports of his gasometer is not
necessarily making it more artistic. A wrought-iron screen veiling the
cylinder altogether, full of fancy and grace of treatment, might be
more artistic--though it might raise the price of gas.

The skeleton has a beauty of its own, "Thou art nor modelled, glazed,
or framed," says Tennyson, to his "rough sketch of man." Yet we should
not like to live in a world of skeletons, however valuable a knowledge
of the bones and mechanism of the joints is to students of the human
form.

Engineers are good skeleton makers, but their skeleton structures do
not often appeal to the sense of the beautiful--from the Eiffel Tower
to the Forth Bridge. They can never be mistaken for architecture, they
are triumphs of engineering, but they remain skeletons, and they are
too big to be put in the cupboard. Perhaps our engineers are busy
devising skeletons for the future to clothe and invest with life and
beauty--or to _bury_! Yet for all that constructive lines--at least,
simple ones which the eye can follow are, as a rule, beautiful lines.
But I think if the sense of beauty was really a living and
effective force, we should consider it a crime to destroy natural
or architectural beauty, or to take away the public possession or
enjoyment of it by any means, and should insist that the problem of
utility was but half solved unless the result was harmonious.

At present the world seems too busy about other matters--dissecting
and analysing, experimenting, buying and selling, manufacturing and
speculating, to care collectively for beauty, perhaps, and truth is
at present too many-sided and composite to be easily reconciled with
beauty. All is tumult and conflict, and through the smoke and dust of
the commercial competitive battle in which we spend our lives we are
not quite sure when the sun is shining, and when we _are_ sure, are
perhaps too busy making the proverbial hay to notice the beauty of it.
That is only for artists and idlers, and the world has such a horror
of idleness that people, not condemned to hard labour, have acquired
a habit of being extremely busy about nothing in particular, and it
is supposed to be a conclusive argument against Socialism to ask
"What will you do with the idle?" which seems a little like raising an
objection to eating your dinner because you don't know what you will
do when you are not hungry!

Artistic ability and power of design are often talked of as if they
were in the nature of conjuring tricks, and their exponents like those
automatic machines at the stations which only require "a penny in
the slot" to satisfy every ordinary modern human requirement from
butter-scotch to green spectacles.

It is not sufficiently realized that the sense of art and the power
of its creation is a growth of the mind (as well as facility of hand)
which must have its processes of germination and fruition.

Art is not nature. It is a commentary or creative variation upon it,
but in the progress of its own development art follows natural laws.
Truth and Beauty are true lovers, but the course of true love never
did run smooth. While Truth in various disguises is roaming desert
places, sometimes like a knight errant fighting with sphinxes and
dragons, sometimes, like Thor with his hammer, striking blows, the
effects of which are only seen long afterwards; Beauty, like an
enchanted princess, is often shut up in gloomy castles closed round
with thorny woods or thronging factory chimneys. It is our business
to re-discover her, to awaken her, to interpret her afresh to the
world--to show that if beauty sleeps, our senses are only half awake,
and our lives a meaningless monotony.


    [Footnote 5: Mr. Liberty Tadd has since developed his system
    and has embodied his teaching in a large and fully illustrated
    work--"New Methods in Education." He has visited this country
    and given lectures in exposition of his method, a part of
    which is known as bi-manual training, or ambidexterity,
    upon which there is an interesting book by Mr. John Jackson,
    F.E.I.S., with an introduction by Major-General R. S. S.
    Baden-Powell, C.B., published by Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench
    and Co.]



ON SOME OF THE ARTS AND CRAFTS ALLIED TO ARCHITECTURE



ON SOME OF THE ARTS AND CRAFTS ALLIED TO ARCHITECTURE.

AN ADDRESS TO THE STUDENTS OF THE ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION


I have been asked to address you on the Arts allied to Architecture.
Now, as students of Architecture you will feel, considering how
closely associated all the arts of design have been in the past, with
Architecture as the mother-art, that it would be very difficult to
draw a line between them, or to define the precise point at which any
one of them naturally part company to be considered as a separate art.
In the course of evolution many causes and forces have combined to
change their relationship, however, and to give some of them a more or
less independent position relatively to what they once had, as in the
case of modern painting and sculpture; although these arts in their
origin appear to be more closely related and essential to the forms of
architecture with which they are combined than almost any of the other
crafts. Indeed, it would almost seem as if sculpture might dispute the
claim of primogeniture with architecture itself, since cave-dwelling
and rock-cut temples seem more of the nature of the former; and also
when we come to the wall sculptures of Nineveh and find winged bulls
forming gateways; or see, as at the gate of Mycenae, beyond the
builders' cyclopean craft of stone on stone, the only architectural
forms and ornament in the sculpture of the slab over the gateway
itself, in the column each side of which the lions stand, and in the
carved discs and spirals below them.

Again, when we come to the buildings of ancient Athens, temples of the
Parthenon type might almost be described as frames or pedestals for
sculpture, although in the case of the Parthenon the architecture and
sculpture are so perfectly united that we hardly think of them apart.
The sculptor seizes upon the deep pediments and the triglyphs to tell
his mythical and symbolic story, and emphasizes them in bold relief
and counterbalancing mass; to which the lines of roof and cornice, of
entablature and column play a harmonious accompaniment, while the more
delicate frieze completes and unites the whole scheme. Though we know
that sculpture was not left to the cold embrace of white marble, but
must have been beautiful in colour as it now is in form, the genius
of sculpture seems to dominate here. Greek architecture, too, only
repeats in stone and marble and on a large scale the primitive
construction of wood; and this takes us back to the days of the sacred
ark, or the tabernacle of the Israelites, more of a shrine or tent
than a building, which depended so much for its beauty upon the
adornment it received from--"The cunning workman, the engraver, the
embroiderer in blue, and in purple, in scarlet, and in fine linen, and
of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise
cunning work" (Ex. xxxv, 35). Certainly here, as in the descriptions
of the building of Solomon's temple all the arts appeared to
co-operate and were equally important to the beauty of the result, and
we get a splendid picture of oriental colour and ornament. The account
of the olive-tree doors of the temple carved with cherubim and palm
trees and open flowers and overlaid with gold, shows the early use of
a craft very dear to the modern decorator--gilding: though it probably
means a more substantial kind than that of the modern frame-maker,
since the text has it that "he covered them with gold fitted upon the
carved work" (1 Kings, vi, 35).

The craft of working thin plates of gold and other metals in repoussé
is clearly a very ancient one, and contributed to what must have been
a very splendid effect in interior decoration. Our use of silvered or
gilded metal in modern wall sconces and door plates may be a relic of
times when it was more extensively used and on larger surfaces, but
one can hardly imagine a more splendid effect than a wall covering of
beaten gold.

The ordinary brass or copper repoussé work of our own day is either
worked from the surface only by following the lines of the design
drawn on the metal by a tool called a tracer, straight or curved,
as may be required for straight or curved lines, although a straight
tracer will follow all but very small curves. The tracer is tapped
with a broad-ended hammer according to the amount of relief intended.
I should have said the sheet of metal is fastened down over a sheet
of lead by screws or nails to a deal board before working on. When the
outlines of the design are hammered out, the background, which bumps
up between the traced lines, has to be matted. This may be done by
various patterned tools called matting tools. Your design, when the
matting is done, will stand in low relief from its ground, and may be
polished as much as desired. Although a pleasing effect of soft relief
is obtained, this is not carrying the work very far, and would only
satisfy amateurs. True repoussé work consists in actually modelling by
the hammer and punch, and for this both for delicate and bold relief
it is necessary to reverse the metal on the pitch block. This is
formed of a mixture of pitch and Russian tallow sprinkled with plaster
of paris, which forms a somewhat firm but easily indentable substance
when warmed, and can be held together in tin trays. While the pitch is
soft you must press in your metal plate the reverse side up and then
beat up the hollows of the design as they have been defined by the
tracer on the face of the work and which show clearly on the back. The
tools used for doing this are rounded punches of various forms. The
hammering is done rather persuasively, as sudden blows make sudden
dents, which are not easily smoothed. Parts of the work, again, may
be hammered on the surface over a lead or pitch block, or it may
be hammered over a pattern carved in wood. This method is used when
several forms recur, or it is desired to repeat the same pattern.

  [Illustration: Black & white marble
  Roman mosaic pavement.
  Baths of Caracalla.
  From sketch made in 1871.]

  [Illustration: Patterns of Roman mosaic
  pavements.
  Baths of Caracalla.
  From sketches made in 1871.]

Another art of very early association with Architecture is mosaic,
which may be said to be perhaps the most permanent and most splendid
kind of architectural decoration ever used. In the matter of marble
mosaic the Romans, though not the inventors of the art, in their
pavements carried it to great elaboration, and worked it in many
forms, the most successful being, to my mind, the simpler forms of
flat pattern-work such as are seen in the baths of Caracalla at Rome,
where white marble, or black, or black or white, is very effectively
used, and there are some admirable scale-pattern borders. These make
more reserved and satisfactory decorations for a floor than the shaded
pictorial battle-pieces and figures of gladiators such as are seen
at the Borghese Villa. In the Bardo Palace Museum at Tunis there is a
very fine collection of Roman mosaic pavements. There has been a very
extensive revived use of marble mosaic for the covering of entrance
floors and halls in our own time; but it has been rather too much of
the second-hand Roman type, although at its best it is a good type,
and, as we know, many original Roman examples have been discovered,
so that we are not without historic models in our own country. Marble
mosaic is usually somewhat limited in colour but looking to the
variety and beauty of tint to be found in marbles there is perhaps
more restriction than need be, as well as in type of design. I made a
design for the floor of a bank at Cleveland, Ohio, when I was in the
States, which I am afraid might have tried the colour-resources of the
mosaicist, since I introduced a symbolical figure of Columbia coining,
wrapped in a robe of stars and stripes, which, however, would look
sober enough when translated into marble tones.

  [Illustration: PATTERN OF ROMAN MOSAIC PAVEMENT, FROM THE
  BATHS OF CARACALLA.]

For real splendour of colour we must turn to glass mosaic, and for
magnificent examples of its architectural use we cannot do better
than look at the churches of Ravenna. My friend, the late J. T.
Micklethwaite, speaking of mosaic, once humorously remarked that
mosaic in decoration was "like beer--of no use unless you had a lot of
it." (That is all very well for those who can imbibe, and the dictum
should appeal to Britons.) However, the use of mosaic at Ravenna and
St. Mark's shows what my friend meant. In the mausoleum of Gallia
Placida, a small rounded arched and vaulted Byzantine building of
the fifth century, there are no mouldings or carving, or any kind of
architectural enrichment, to interfere with the effect of the complete
lining of mosaic, chiefly in pale tones of gold and colour on a deep,
subdued but rich blue ground. The effect is very solemn and splendid.
The actual workmanship of the Ravenna mosaics would no doubt be
considered rough by the more mechanical modern mosaicist who does not
accept the cube principle in using tesserae. The head of the Empress
Theodora at San Vitale, for instance, is very simply done. The
tesserae are few--but since the effect from the proper distance is
fine, they must be fit though few. Then these mosaics like all the
ancient ones, must have been worked from the surface. This gives
a certain play of surface and depth and richness of colour, each
tesserae not having been set at precisely the same angle to the plane
of the wall, or to its neighbour cube.

The modern Venetian way is to make the panels perfectly flat on the
surface, the cement being spread over the tesserae when arranged face
downwards. The modern Venetian workmen will copy a cartoon properly
tesserated with the utmost precision, as I have discovered, but his
panels have not the surface sparkle and variety of the old work. The
method of putting in the tesserae from the front has however been
revived since I made my designs. The design by Sir Edward Burne-Jones
for the dome of the New American Church at Rome was worked in this
way, and recently a mosaic altar-piece of "The Last Supper," for a
church in Philadelphia, was executed in this way by Mr. and Mrs. Henry
Holiday, the tesserae being inserted in a layer of putty.

In London we have the great work of Sir W. B. Richmond in the choir of
St. Paul's, which was all worked from the surface--the tesserae being
set in red lead putty which, occasionally allowed to show at the
joints, gives a certain warmth of tone to the whole. Whatever
difference of opinion there may be about the decoration of St. Paul's,
the designs of Sir William Richmond are exceedingly fine and conceived
in a noble spirit.

Mr. Anning Bell has carried out a charming design in mosaic worked
from the surface for the exterior of the Horniman Museum. One
projected for the exterior of the Whitechapel Picture Gallery, from a
design of my own, has not so far been executed for want of funds.

I have often thought, when looking at the beautiful arrangements
of tint in the fine shingle of some of our sea beaches, that the
materials for a very effective kind of mosaic, at small cost, might be
found there, and adapted for the ornamentation of the external walls
of seaside houses, in friezes, strings, panels, or even entire walls.
In thus reviving the ancient art of pebble-mosaic, a charming local
character might thus be given to the buildings of certain of our coast
places which would add very greatly to their attractions. The thing,
of course, would need some intelligence and taste, without which
indeed the most costly and beautiful materials in the world may be
wasted.

One of the most charming and simple ways of decorating external walls
is to be found in the patterns indented in the plaster of the surface
filling of half-timbered houses such as are so plentiful in Suffolk
and Essex. It is a characteristic and ancient method which it is
gratifying to note is made use of by modern architects and builders in
that district. Figures and ornament in relief are also used. A mixture
of Portland cement and lime is a good material for this purpose, as it
does not set too quickly, but finally sets hard and is durable.

Delicate plaster relief-work for ceilings and friezes is also a
very charming method of interior decoration, and there are very fine
examples scattered over the country, though its original home was, I
presume, in Italy, whose craftsmen still maintain their pre-eminence
in the skill with which they deal with the manipulation of all kinds
of plaster-work. Plaster and stucco must have been largely used in
ancient Rome, and there are very beautiful, both bold and delicate,
examples in the decorations of the famous tombs of the Via Latina. In
one instance, on a wagon vault, the figures appear to have been worked
directly in the soft plaster and the relief-work is used with vigorous
indented lines. The effect of the work is wonderfully direct, simple,
and fresh, and suggests having been done with speed and certainty.
Raphael, influenced no doubt by old Roman work, introduced modelled
portions in his painted designs for the Loggia of the Vatican. The
usual modern method is to model the design in clay, mould it in
gelatine, and then cast it in fibrous plaster panels (supposing it
is for relief work) and screw them in position, stopping the joints
afterwards. This, though it has many conveniences, is not so artistic
in its results as when the design is worked directly in stucco or
gesso in its proper position; but if we could be sure of finding
the plasterers and craftsman to do it, we should but rarely find the
opportunity, or the client who would allow time for such work _in
situ_.

A middle course is to model your design--say, for a frieze or
ceiling--in gesso or stucco of some kind on fibrous plaster panels;
and the design may be planned so as to cut up into convenient-sized
panels to work on an easel in the studio, and be fixed in position
afterwards.

I have worked panels in this way using plaster of paris, thin glue,
and cotton wool. The ground should be wetted, or the suction stopped
by a coat of shellac, or the work is apt to dry too quickly and peel
off.

For delicate relief ornamentation, say, in wall panelling and
furniture, a kind of gesso duro is good. This is a mixture of
whitening, glue, boiled linseed oil and resin. It is mixed to a creamy
consistency, the whitening being first soaked in water. The gesso
is laid on with a brush--long pointed sable is best. The gesso sets
slowly, but very hard, so that any part of the work could be scraped
down if necessary.

Another effective method for external and interior work in decoration
is sgraffito, also of Italian origin. It consists in cutting or
scratching a design through one or more layers of mixed lime and
cement on to coloured grounds. A ground is laid on the plaster of
the wall, say, of black, made by mixing black oxide of manganese and
breeze from a smith's forge with the cement. When this is set, a layer
of mixed lime and cement is laid over the black, about a quarter of an
inch or more thick. When this layer has partly set, and is about the
consistency of cheese, you cut your design out, its lines and masses
defined by the black ground beneath as you cut away the top layer. Two
or three colours may be used in the same way, one being laid over the
other, and the effect produced by cutting down to the different layers
as you wish.

I once came to a town in Bohemia, Pracatic, a wonderful old place,
with a fine deep Gothic gateway, with a fresco of a knight-at-arms
over it. The walls of the principal houses appear to have been
entirely decorated with designs in sgraffito. The Rathaus or town
hall was the most elaborate and best preserved, and was covered with
designs from Bible story, divided by pilasters, and panelled in scroll
ornament.

Sgraffito is still extensively used in Italy and Germany, where one
sees much more elaborate work in it, and on a more extensive scale
than anything here, unless we except the considerable and excellent
work of Mr. Heywood Sumner in this material. He, however, has used it
chiefly for interior wall decoration and churches. He generally uses
three colours, red, green, and black, by which his large, simple, and
bold designs are well expressed. Our climate--more especially town
climate--is generally unfavourable to the effectiveness and permanence
of the work as exterior decoration. There is, however, an excellent
object lesson in sgraffito of various kinds to be seen on the back
wall of the Science Schools at South Kensington, the work of the late
Mr. Moody.

It seems curious that more has not been attempted in the way of
external decoration by means of coloured and glazed tiles. The colour
in these is permanent enough, and good quality of colour can be
obtained. I fancy pleasant effects could be produced by facing the
front of houses with coloured tiles, and introducing friezes and
plaques beneath and between the windows. The ground story of many
brick houses in London streets are cemented and painted. Why not try
the effect of coloured tiles instead? Mr. Halsey Ricardo, it may be
mentioned, has used De Morgan tile panels most effectively in a house
he designed in Addison Road, Kensington, which is distinguished also
by a beautiful roof of green glazed tiles from Spain. Mr. Conrad
Dressler has also designed extensive mural decorations in a kind of
Luca della Robbia manner, which is very effective. For splendour of
effect, too, few things could equal designs produced in lustre.

Tiles, of course, have long held an undisputed position as decorative
linings for fire-places. A new domestic application of them is
suggested in that little gem of a picture by Van der Meer of Delft,
recently added to our National Gallery, where white Dutch tiles with
blue figures are fixed along the wall on the floor line, where one
usually sees the wooden skirting.

Of the beauty of the effect of raised figures treated in faïence
colours and glazes as an architectural decoration there is a splendid
example in the frieze of archers from the palace wall of Darius, now
at Paris, apparently made of moulded bricks glazed with colour, a
good reproduction of which was to be seen in what was formerly the
architectural court at the Victoria and Albert Museum; where also we
could study the bold and beautiful frieze of Luca della Robbia from
the Ospedale at Pistoia. One wants to see it in the full Italian
sunshine and in its proper architectural setting fully to appreciate
its fine decorative effect, and it is to be regretted that these
reproductions of architectural decorative works are not exhibited
in the Museum with an indication of their framework to show their
relation to the buildings of which they form part.[6] It would be
better to have fewer examples properly displayed, I believe, than a
multitude crowded together, with no means of judging of them in
their proper relation to their surroundings. If the examples were
accompanied by good and clear drawings or photographs of the entire
buildings it would be useful.

At Pistoia, also, there is a charming porch to the cathedral covered
with Robbia ware in white, yellow, and blue, in association with black
and white banded marble.[7] Such examples show with what beautiful
decorative effect majolica can be associated with architecture.

To Italy, again, we must look for the most beautiful illustrations of
the unity of painting with architecture, from the work of Giotto at
Padua and Assisi to the crowning work of the Renascence, the ceiling
of the Sistine Chapel by Michael Angelo. The most perfect example of
mural decoration in Italy I have seen, is, however, to be found in the
Appartimenti Borgia in the Vatican, painted by Pinturrichio, a very
beautiful model of which can be studied in the Victoria and Albert
Museum (it was formerly in the Italian Court). Here we have a scheme
of decoration at once restrained and rich, in strict relation to the
construction, and yet full of variety and beauty of detail; and it is
interesting, too, as an example of the use of gilded gesso used both
for details in the wall pictures, as well as for arabesque ornament,
and bordering on the vaulted ceiling. The lower wall was evidently
originally intended to be covered with tapestry hangings, as there
is a moulding with the little hooks to hold them; and this would have
completed the effect of the whole in a rich and reposeful way. Another
very rich and beautiful instance of the earlier Renascence mural
painting may be seen in the Riccardi Chapel at Florence by Benozzo
Gozzoli. Some full-sized copies are at South Kensington, notably one
of Lorenzo de Medici in a gilded dress going a-hunting.

The famous Campo Santo at Pisa, and the frescoes in the town hall of
Siena are fine instances of the days when mural painting was a living
and popular art, frankly appealing to the love of story and romance,
vivid, dramatic, and yet superbly decorative. Superior modern critics
might scorn such types of art as "literary," and their _naïveté_ as
"childish"; but their story-telling power is an inseparable part of
their artistic form, and never oversteps it, just as their decorative
instinct is in perfect accord and harmony with their architectural
conditions.

This was long before the days of academies and art schools, when there
was no technical art education outside the workshop, no competitive
examinations, and a man learnt his craft by apprenticeship to it,
beginning at the beginning, under a master craftsman.

I fail to see how any art can be wholly taught or learned on general
principles, since it is of the nature of art to address itself to
particular problems, the conditions of which constantly vary. Certain
general principles have been evolved out of collective practice of
more or less value, no doubt, in a general way, but they must always
be liable to qualification in their adaptation to particular cases.
Nothing of the nature of art can be formulated as an exact science,
happily, or the limits of its invention and variety would soon be
reached. Art, however, has its scientific side, though the science of
art is not exactly scientific or theoretic, but practical, and rather
consists in recognizing particular necessities of conditions and
materials, and the realizing that the frank acknowledgment of the
nature of these conditions and materials leads, in all the varieties
of design, in association with craftsmanship and architecture, to the
highest beauty.

  [Illustration: Patterns in plain leading,
  from "THE GLAZIER'S BOOKE."]

The peculiar beauty of a stained glass window, for instance, is
entirely dependent upon this frank acknowledgment of conditions. A
screen of transparent colour and pattern, defined and united by leads,
and held in position by iron bars. Directly any attempt is made to
overstep its natural limits--to make it look like a painted picture,
to get chiaroscuro and vanishing points, or to try to ignore the
leading as an essential condition of its existence--the charm and the
joy of it is lost. There is a distinct character and beauty both in
plain leaded glass and roundels throwing a pleasant network of simple
geometric lines over the blankness of window-panes. Henry Shaw, in
his Glazier's Book,[8] gives a great variety of delightful leading
patterns.

Now, any design for a coloured glass window should, in the first
place, be a good arrangement of lead-lines, I think--a good pattern,
in short, whether figure subject or not--and, secondly, a good pattern
considered as an arrangement of colour or jewelled light.

The artistic designer and maker of a wrought-iron gate, grille, or
railing, whatever phantasy he might introduce, would never forget the
essential requirements of a gate, grille, or railing. He would never
forget the architectural relation of his work, or rather he would make
the chief beauty and inventiveness of his treatment of wrought iron
spring out of that relation.

The practice of modelling in clay (though it may be useful in a
student's training) designs intended to be carved in wood, has, it
seems to me, been most destructive of the beauty and character of true
woodcarving. The same may be said of stone and marble. The essential
spirit and go of the thing, the characteristic touch and treatment
which each material in which the designer works claims as its own, and
which is its own particular reason for existing, these are, of course,
lost or tamed out of recognition when a copy is made of something
already existing in a material and produced by a method totally
different.

Much better keep to simple mouldings and plain painting than bring
in ornament which has no character or meaning of its own. We must not
confuse the mere spreading of ornament with decoration in its true
sense, for Design in all its forms may be said to be governed by an
architectural instinct of its own, which makes it a harmonious part of
the building with which it is united, and which unites it, and puts it
in harmony with itself.

In the limits of a short paper it is impossible to do more than
deal very lightly with so vast a subject as the Arts allied to
Architecture, and there are many that I have not been able to touch
at all, since, properly considered, _all_ the arts are, or should be,
allied to architecture, and the history of architecture covers the
history of human life itself; and what, let us ask, would architecture
be without the associated arts which help to express and adorn it and
fit each part for the use and service of man.


    [Footnote 6: This was written before the arrangement of the
    collections in the new building of the Victoria and Albert
    Museum was complete.]

    [Footnote 7: An illustration of this porch is given in my
    "Bases of Design."]

    [Footnote 8: The full title is "A Booke of Sundry Draughtes.
    Principally serving for Glasiers: And not impertinent for
    plasterers, and gardeners: besides sundry other professions.
    London. William Pickering 1848." It is almost wholly copied
    from an older work "printed in Shoolane at the sign of the
    Falcon by Walter Dwight 1615."]



NOTES ON COLOUR EMBROIDERY AND ITS TREATMENT



NOTES ON COLOUR EMBROIDERY AND ITS TREATMENT


Embroidery as an art of design may be considered from many different
points of view--but none of these are more important than those of
colour and its treatment. It is indeed to colour that decorative
needlework owes its chief charm, and in no direction is the influence
of controlling taste more essential, and in its absence the most
elaborate workmanship and technical accomplishment are apt to be
wasted.

The choice and treatment of colour must naturally depend, in the
first place, upon the object and purpose of the work, which would, of
course, decide the scale and motive of its pattern.

As applied to costume, in which direction we find some of its most
delicate and beautiful examples, nearness to the eye, the construction
of the garment and the proportions of figure would have to be
considered.

The Russian peasants have a form of frock or long blouse worn by young
girls, which affords an instance of effective use of frank and bright
colour upon a white ground. The garment itself is of homespun linen.
It has a square opening for the neck, and is put on over the head,
like a smock frock. The sleeves are quite simple, full on the upper
arm and narrowing to a band on the wrist. The skirt, which falls
straight from the shoulders, is decorated with a series of horizontal
bands of pattern worked in cross-stitch, the principal colours
being red and green, colours which always tell well upon white.
The square-cut opening at the neck and the cuffs are emphasized
by embroidered pattern of similar kind but on a smaller scale. The
garment is ingeniously adapted to the growth of its wearer by adding
extra rings of pattern to the skirt, and by enlarging a square piece
let in at the arm-pits.

The Hungarian peasant women are most admirable embroiderers, and in
their festal costumes display an extraordinary wealth of brilliant
colour, employing, like the Russian, principally the cross-stitch
on white linen. They are fond of decorating the ends of their
pillow-cases which are piled up one upon the other on the bed, usually
set against the wall in their cottages, so that only the outside ends
show, and these alone are embroidered. Both the patterns, which are
traditional and have an oriental character, and their colour show a
strong decorative sense and natural taste. Many of them being worked
in a single tone of red or blue, always effective on white. In some
parts short sleeveless leather jackets lined with sheep's wool are
worn. These are made incredibly gorgeous in colour by a kind of
combined _appliqué_ and stitch embroidery, the vivid greens, reds,
blues, and purples being kept in their place by the broad white of the
shirt sleeves which flank them on each side when worn.

  [Illustration: RUSSIAN PEASANT EMBROIDERY

  CHILD'S BLOUSE
  in home spun linen worked in cross-stitch

  Red pattern in
  cross stitch

  Red band

  Neck opening

  Red band

  Red pattern in cross stitch

  Square enlarging piece

  Red band
  herring bone stitched

  Blue (stitched)

  Pattern in Red
  (Cross stitch)

  Blue (stitched)

  Red band

  Red band
  ]

More austere arrangements are however found. There is a large heavy
overcoat, with hanging sleeves and deep collar, worn by the Hungarian
farmers, made of white wool. This is ornamented most judiciously
by _appliqué_ embroidery in black and green. The chief points of
decoration being the collar, the cuffs, and the hem.

In the Montenegrin section of the Balkan States Exhibition at Earl's
Court there were some charming shirts and blouses embroidered with
gold thread and colour, in bands. The constructive points, such as
the neck opening, the junction of the yoke and sleeves, sometimes the
sleeves themselves were richly ornamented with designs in gold and
colour with excellent effect.

Good examples of treatment of rich colour in combination with light
pattern are to be found among Cretan embroideries. The decoration in
bands of the ends of the muslin scarves, relieved with silver and
gold thread, often recalls the effect of the illuminated borders of
fourteenth and fifteenth-century manuscripts, having a delightfully
gay and sparkling effect. These Cretan embroideries are examples of
the harmonious effect in the arrangement of a number of different
colours in the same pattern, grouped around a central feature which
forms the dominating note; this is generally in the form of a large
red flower with a gold centre, and this is surrounded with smaller
detached star-like flowers, and formal cypress trees in leaf-shaped
enclosures of gold or silver thread. The design being repeated, with
slight variations, to form a band or border of pattern decorating
the ends of the scarf. In a sample before me eight colours are used,
besides gold and silver thread. The colours are: (1) red, in centre
flower (a light vermilion); (2) crimson (sometimes, alas, magenta);
(3) pink (pale salmon); (4) orange; (5) light (lemon) yellow (of
greenish tone); (6) olive (dark); (7) pale blue, and (8) dark blue.

  [Illustration: CRETAN EMBROIDERY. Silk on Muslin, heightened with
  gold and silver thread.

  Colours:
  1. Orange
  2. Crimson
  3. Red
  4. Pink
  5. Olive
  6. Yellow (green)
  7. Light blue
  8. Dark blue
  9. Gold
  10. Silver
  ]

As every embroideress knows, colour in embroidery is very much
influenced by texture. The colour of a skein of silk looking different
from the same colour when worked. Juxtaposition with other colours,
again, alters the effect of a colour. As a general principle,
especially where many colours are employed, we are more likely to
secure harmony if we choose reds, for instance, inclining to orange,
blues inclining to green, yellows inclining to green or brown,
blacks of a greenish or olive tone. Perfectly frank and pure colours,
however, may be harmonized, especially with the use of gold, though
they are more difficult to deal with--unless one can command the
natural, primitive instinct of the Hungarian, the Greek, or the
Persian peasant.

For bold decorative work few kinds of embroidery design are more
delightful than the bordered cloths and covers from Bokhara. Here,
again, the colours are chiefly red and green in different shades, the
reds concentrated in the form of big flowers in the intervals of an
open arabesque of thin stems and curved and pointed leaves in green,
the whole design upon a white linen ground.

  [Illustration: BOKHARA EMBROIDERY. Silk on linen, chiefly in chain
  stitch.
  The large flowers are worked in two shades of rich red inclining
  to crimson with yellow centres relieved by dark blue. The blue &
  yellow & red are repeated in the smaller flowers.

  The leaves are blueish green with a red line down centre. They
  are outlined with bronze brown which I also used for the stems &
  spirals.

  Inner border, between red lines. The star flowers are alternately
  blue & red with yellow centres with bronze leaves. The outer
  border, also between red lines. The flowers are red with blue &
  yellow centres alternately, & green & bronze leaves.]

Such joyful, frank, and bold colour, however, would be usually
considered too bright for the ordinary English interior, and under our
gray skies; and colour, after all, is so much a question of climate,
and though for its full splendour we turn to the south and east, we
need not want for models of beautiful, if quieter, harmonies in the
natural tints of our native country at different seasons of the year.
There are abundant suggestions to be had from field and hedgerow at
all times--arrangements in russet, or gold, or green. What can be
more beautiful as a colour motive than the frail pink or white of the
blossoms of the briar rose, starring the green arabesque of thorny
stem and leaf; or its scarlet hip and bronze green leaf in the autumn;
or the crisp, white pattern of the field daisy on the pale green
of the hay field, relieved by the yellow centres and by the red
of sorrel; or the brave scarlet of the poppy between the thin gold
threads of the ripe corn. Then, too, there are beautiful schemes of
colour to be found in the plumage of our birds. Take the colours of a
jay, for instance--a mass of fawn-coloured gray with a pinkish tinge,
relieved with touches of intense black and white and small bars of
turquoise blue and white. A charming scheme for an embroidered pattern
might be made of such an arrangement, if the colours were used in
similar proportions to those of nature--say in a costume.

The mainspring of colour suggestion, as of design, in embroidery,
however, must be found in Nature's own embroidery--flowers, and the
garden must always be an unfailing source of fresh suggestion for
floral design both in colour and form. But, of course, everything in
the process of adaptation to artistic purposes is under the necessity
of translation or transformation, and any form or tint in nature must
be re-stated in the terms proper to the art or craft under its own
conditions and limitations as being essential to the character and
beauty of the result, _suggestion_, rather than imitation of nature,
being the principle to follow.

But while we must go to nature for fresh inspiration in colour
invention or combination, we have a guide in the traditions and
examples of the craft and the choice of stitches to influence our
treatment.

The colour principles, too, we may find in allied arts may help us.

  [Illustration: DESIGN FOR AN EMBROIDERED HANGING
  Showing the use of shields of arms as contrasting
  elements in colour & pattern

  COLOURS:

  oak leaves - sage green.

  stone & acorns - golden brown
  on pale green or unbleached
  linen ground.

  Heraldic colours as noted
  on sketch

  ORIGINAL DESIGN BY WALTER CRANE.]

Heraldry, for instance, while shields of arms, crests, and mottoes,
are in themselves excellent material for embroidery, as units
of embroidered pattern. The principles of the disposition and
countercharge of colour in heraldry, and the methods of its display
and treatment in form as exemplified in the heraldic design of the
best periods--say, from the twelfth to the fifteenth century--will be
found full of useful lessons. A repeating pattern of leaves or flowers
in a hanging is pleasantly enriched and varied by the introduction
of heraldic badges or shields at intervals, the emphatic concentrated
colour and accent of the heraldry contrasting with the less formal,
open, but evenly dispersed design with its recurring units and
counterbalancing curves which form the main field of the hanging.
Interesting heraldic devices for such purposes may be found in every
locality, either of family, civic, or general historic interest, our
village churches being generally valuable treasuries from this point
of view.

Where it is desired to restrict colour in embroidery to two or
three tints, and restricted colour is generally suitable to simple
decorative purposes with corresponding simplicity of design, it is
safe to follow the principle of complementary colours in nature.
Red and green, blue and orange, brown and yellow, and so on, but, of
course, this would leave an immense range of choice of actual tint of
any one colour open. Your red, for instance, might be salmon pink or
deep crimson, your green that of the first lime shoots in spring to
the metallic bronze of the holly leaf; your blue might be that of
larkspur or the turquoise of the palest forget-me-not, while
your orange might be that of the ripe fruit or the tint of faded
beech-leaf. Tasteful work, however, may be done in two or three shades
of the same colour.

The choice of tint for the embroidery must depend largely upon the
tint and material of the ground, and also upon the material in which
the work itself is to be carried out--silk, cotton thread, or crewels.
Whether, however, for designs which entirely cover the ground, or for
the lightest open floral pattern, linen seems the material on which
the best results are produced.



NOTES ON EARLY ITALIAN GESSO WORK



NOTES ON EARLY ITALIAN GESSO WORK


The charming varieties of decoration in relief by means of modelled
gesso and stucco which attained to such richness and beauty in the
hands of Italian artists in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
are traceable to very early origins, and come down from Graeco-Roman
and Roman times, and probably had a still earlier existence in the
East, since decoration in raised gesso was long practised by the
Persians and the Arabs, and plaster-work goes back to the ancient
Egyptians, who also used gesso grounds for the painting and gilding of
their mummy cases. Existing examples of Roman and Pompeian relief
work belong mostly to the first century B.C., and are of the nature
of architectural enrichments, being chiefly mural and ceiling
decorations, worked in plaster and stucco, _in situ_. Many of these
are very delicate and show the influence of Greek feeling in design
and treatment, such, for instance, as those from the ceilings of
the tombs on the Via Latina at Rome, which in their simple panelled
treatment, enclosing groups of finely modelled figures seem to be the
forerunners of the rich and delicate gesso relief work, stamped, or
modelled with the brush, which the Italians used with such tact in the
decoration of caskets, marriage coffers, and other furniture in the
early renascence period. Mr. Millar in his comprehensive work on
"Plastering" speaks of a very fine example of gesso work as existing
in the old cathedral church at Coire, a box which is said to be as old
as the ninth century. It is entirely covered with gesso, on which
a design in relief has been roughly scrolled. The gesso has been
polished so as to give the appearance of ivory, and he further says,
"at the corners, where it has got chipped off, the ends of the linen
can be seen which has evidently been put next the wood, as Cennino
Cennini advises."

Cennino, indeed, in his very interesting "Trattato" (which was
translated by Mrs. Merrifield in 1844, for the first time into
English, and recently, more accurately and completely, by Mrs.
Herringham) gives very full and ample accounts of the methods in use
in his time in painting and the allied arts, and gives recipes, also,
both for making and working gesso. He lays great stress on the care
necessary in preparing grounds on wood both for painting and raised
work, and in advocating the use of "linen cloth, old, fine, and white,
and free from all grease," writes "take your best size, cut or tear
large or small strips of this linen, soak these in the size, and
spread them with your hands over the surface of the panel; remove
the seams, and spread the strips out with the palms of the hands, and
leave them to dry for two days." He further enjoined one to "remember
it is best to use size when the weather is dry and windy. Size is
stronger in the winter than in summer, and in winter gilding must be
done in damp and rainy weather." Then--Chapter 115--he proceeds to
describe the process of laying on the ground of gesso over the linen.
His "gesso grosso" used for the ground, is burnt gypsum or what we
know as plaster of paris. The same, well-slaked, he uses for finer
grounds, and also for working in relief upon such grounds.

In Chapter 116 Cennino describes how to prepare gesso sottile (slaked
plaster of paris). The plaster, he says, "must be well purified, and
kept moist in a large tub for at least a month; renew the water every
day until it (the plaster) almost rots, and is completely slaked, and
all fiery heat goes out of it, and it becomes as soft as silk." This
gesso is afterwards dried in cakes and Cennino speaks of it in this
form as "sold by the druggists to our painters," and that "it is used
for grounding, for gilding, for _working in relief_, and other fine
works." These cakes were scraped or soaked and ground to powder and
mixed with size for using as grounds and for relief work, as occasion
required (Chapters 117, 119). In speaking further on (Chapter 124) of
"how works in relief are executed on panels with gesso sottile," he
says, "take a little of the gesso on the point of the brush (the brush
must be of minever, and the hairs fine and rather long), and with that
quickly raise whatever figures you wish to make in relief; and if you
raise any foliage, draw the design previously, like the figures, and
be careful not to relieve too many things, or confusedly, for the
clearer you make your foliage ornaments, the better you will be able
to display the ingraining with stamps and they can be better burnished
with the stone." He describes (Chapter 125) also methods of casting
relief work, "to adorn some parts of the picture" which shows he is
thinking of gesso enrichments in painting, so much used by the early
painters.

Cennino is said to have been living in Padua in the year 1398. His
treatise shows the care and patience necessary to good workmanship in
the various arts and crafts he describes, and throws much light upon
the methods of the artist craftsman of his time, and is of particular
value and interest as touching the subjects of tempera painting,
gilding, and, incidentally, of gesso-relief decoration, to the
ornamental effect of which both the former are important contributors.
Now there are several distinct varieties of gesso work. Firstly we
have gesso relief used to adorn and enrich painted panels, or as an
adjunct to decorative painting. Of this there are many instances:
a notable one may be cited in the frescoes of Pinturrichio in the
Appartamenti Borgia in the Vatican at Rome where the paintings are
heightened by gilded parts in relief, such as weapons and ornaments,
embroidery or robes, and even architectural mouldings. The late Mr.
Spencer Stanhope revived this union of gilded gesso with decorative
painting, as in his work in the chapel at Marlborough College. Other
examples may be found in our National Gallery. The superb collection
of Italian gesso work in the Victoria and Albert Museum, unrivalled
anywhere, from which, by the courtesy of the late Mr. Skinner, who was
Sir C. Purdon Clarke's successor in the directorship,[9] I am enabled
to give my illustrations, may be referred to as furnishing examples of
every variety of treatment in the craft, as well as of the taste and
invention and richness of early Italian decorative design.

  [Illustration: MARRIAGE COFFER, NO. 5804--1859
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

As an adjunct to painting gilded gesso was frequently used burnished
and enriched with stamped or punctured patterns (_granare_), often in
the form of nimbi around the heads of saints and angels in devotional
works, and in backgrounds. Cennino (Chapter 142) speaks of this method
and gives directions in it. The Marriage Coffer from the Museum, No.
5804--1859, illustrates this treatment and is a good example of
its highly decorative effect. The front panel shows a very rich and
interesting design of figures in fifteenth century Florentine costume,
heightened with gilded parts in gesso having small punctured patterns
upon it, which give sparkle and variety to the gold. This method seems
to have been continued for several centuries in Florence. I have an
alms-dish of early seventeenth century date, the centre of which
is treated in this way with punctured or hollow pin-head patterns
impressed upon a gilded gesso ground.

This method, it may be noted, has lately been revived by Mrs. Adrian
Stokes in association with tempera painting.

  [Illustration: ITALIAN CASSONE, NO. 317--1894
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

Stamped work, again, mentioned by Cennino, is another distinct method
in gesso decoration. Of this a very beautiful example is the early
fourteenth-century Italian cassone (No. 317--1894). This cassone is
decorated with figures of knights and ladies on horseback, in hawking
and hunting array, each figure being silhouetted in clear profile in
a separate square panel, in white, upon a black or a red ground,
alternately. These spaces or panels are divided horizontally by
bands of running ornament in relief, and, vertically by bands of
thin wrought iron foliated at the edges which form protecting and
strengthening bands for the chest. The stamps from which these figures
were produced must have been most delicately cut. They are full of
fine detail and charming in design. It is not quite clear how they
could have been so cleanly stamped upon the ground, unless perhaps,
the edges and outlines were carefully gone round and cleared
afterwards, or the paste in which they were stamped, perhaps being
slow in setting and more or less elastic, might have allowed of their
being stamped cleanly out of the material separately and applied to
the gesso ground or the chest afterwards.[10]

In design these figures (on the cassone illustrated) are characterized
by a certain graceful severity, almost Greek-like in its ornamental
restraint, yet in the delicate invention and richness of the
decorative details of the costumes and housings of the horses they are
oriental in treatment.

It has often been said that human figures cannot be repeated with
satisfactory decorative effect, but this cassone is surely a striking
instance to the contrary, as the recurring effect of these delicately
silhouetted and slightly formalized figures and horses is extremely
refined and beautiful.

  [Illustration: SHIELD IN GILDED GESSO,
  NO. 3--1865 (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

We might be able to discover examples of gesso decoration in which
stamped work or moulded work was used for repeating parts, and
freehand work for other parts. In the Museum examples the majority
seem to have been worked directly with a free hand. There is a fine
example of how gesso lends itself to a bold heraldic treatment in
the Museum collection (No. 3--1865), a tournament shield on which a
griffin, sable, is emblazoned on a field, or. The sable griffin in
bold relief is not only a fine heraldic beast, but is decoratively
spaced and relieved upon the gold field, the richness of which is
greatly enhanced by the fine raised diaper pattern worked all over it
in effective ornamental contrast to the bolder relief and treatment of
the charge. It is possible stamps may have been used for the diaper
of the field. The work belongs to the second half of the fifteenth
century and is from the Palazzo Guadagni, Florence.

  [Illustration: FRONT OF CASSONE IN GILDED GESSO, NO. 727--1884
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM)]

One of the charms of gesso work in ornamental effect is the softened,
floated, or half melted look given to the forms which take the lustre
of gilding so agreeably. This character no doubt is given by the use
of the brush in floating or dropping on the forms of the ornament.
In No. 727--1884 of the Museum collection a particularly rich and
dignified ornamental effect is produced by the contrasting allied
elements of the figure reliefs in the large lozenge-shaped enclosures,
with the rich gilded formal diaper of the heraldic sphinx, or
human-headed lion, which, in close repetition, forms the diaper on the
main field of the decoration. The raised work in this example has
the softened molten or beaten character above spoken of. The marriage
coffer (No. 718--1884) is an instance of purely ornamental treatment
in raised and gilded gesso on wood, consisting mainly of foliated
scroll forms characteristic of the early Italian Renascence work,
and here again the raised patterns have the soft rich look, as if the
ornament had been squeezed or floated upon the surface of the wood,
somewhat in the way in which confectioners squeeze sugar ornaments
upon cakes. Sugar, by the way was an occasional ingredient in the
preparation of gesso, as Cennino mentions.

  [Illustration: MARRIAGE COFFER, NO. 718--1884
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

  [Illustration: MARRIAGE COFFER, NO. 247--1894
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

No. 247--1894, is a marriage coffer of walnut which has a
symmetrically and formally planned scheme of raised decoration in
gesso upon its front which suggests an earlier ornamental origin than
the actual date of its production, perhaps, given as the end of the
fourteenth century, as it resembles in character the textile patterns
of the thirteenth century or earlier. The treatment of the gesso
relief work is peculiar, and it appears as if an extremely softened,
even and almost flattened effect had been aimed at, without any
special emphasis on particular parts.

  [Illustration: MARRIAGE COFFER, NO. 58--1867
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

The rich encrusted effect of another treatment of gesso decoration
characteristic of later fifteenth century work is shown in the
beautiful coffer, No. 58--1867, the painted shields of arms being in
ornamental contrast. Here we have an instance of the use of painting
to relieve gesso decoration, as distinct from the use of gesso work to
enrich the effect in painting.

Gesso decoration was also finely and freely used for small caskets
and other objects and with delightful results, as the rich Museum
collection again demonstrates.

  [Illustration: COFFER, NO. 9--1890
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

The coffret, No. 9--1890, is an interesting instance of this
adaptability of gesso and the extraordinary variety and richness of
effect obtainable; almost emulating carved work in the bolder parts
of its relief, and yet with a softness and richness of its own. The
designs are singularly interesting and spirited, and the whole work
fully deserves the encomium suggested by its motto (in Lombardic
letters on the lid) "Onesta e bella."

  [Illustration: GESSO BOX, NO. 5757--1859
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

In No. 5757--1859 we have another good example of gesso decoration
on a small scale, and its rich ornate effect in a well-balanced
distribution of ornament adapted to a circular form, showing the fine
sense of scale and quantity in ornament which distinguishes Italian
work of this period--the first half of the fifteenth century.

  [Illustration: FRONT OF A COFFER, NO. 7830--1861
  (VICTORIA AND ALBERT MUSEUM).]

Finally, in my last example (No. 7830--1861), the panel of a coffer
belonging to the early sixteenth century, we see another use and
treatment of gesso--to soften and enrich the effect of woodcarving
and to make a good surface for gilding. The figures here are carved in
bold relief and overlaid with a coating of gesso.

All carved work to be gilded was treated in this way with gesso, which
greatly softens the effect, giving a smooth surface for the gilding
and increases its richness, especially when done over Armenian bole,
which we may see was used under the gilding of these raised gesso
ornaments generally--another method which is being revived with the
general revival of the forgotten arts of design and handicraft in our
own time.

    NOTE.--With reference to the early use of gesso, the extremely
    interesting and remarkable recent discoveries of Prof.
    Flinders Petrie in Egypt in the shape of mummies of the Roman
    period of the first century A.D., in addition to the light
    they throw on antique portrait painting, show that gilded
    gesso enrichment over linen was freely used at that period,
    some of the masks being moulded, and the ornament apparently
    stamped, the toes of each mummy being modelled and gilded and
    burnished, and the wrappings relieved with gilded buttons of
    gesso.


    [Footnote 9: Before the appointment of Sir Cecil Smith.]

    [Footnote 10: Cennino describes a method of cutting stamps in
    _stone_ (Chapter 170) to be used as moulds for figures to be
    applied to the decoration of chests or coffers, but he speaks
    of beating tin into these moulds and forming the figures in
    this way, afterwards backing them or filling them in with
    gesso grosso, cutting them out and sticking them on the chest
    with glue, gilding them and adding colour and varnish.]



NOTES ON THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS IN ART



NOTES ON THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS IN ART


Looking back over the vast field of historic art it is obvious
that the representation of animals has occupied a very important
position--even the prehistoric cave-men display their artistic
instinct in animal draughtsmanship, and in that alone, and their
naturalistic scratched and incised outlines have set down for us in
unerring characterization, the forms of the mastodon, reindeer, and
other animals of the primitive hunter.

Judging from these relics it would seem as if naturalistic sketching
preceded systematic ornamental or decorative treatment of animals in
design such as distinguishes the art of the ancient civilizations of
the East.

  [Illustration: Egyptian treatment of birds.
  from hieroglyphics of the 18^{th} Dynasty.

  Tombs of the kings. Thebes.]

Long before such systematization as we find in ancient Egyptian art,
no doubt the power of depicting animals became important in the
tribal state, when it was necessary for each tribe to have their
distinguishing totem, and to be able to establish their identity or
respectability by unmistakable portraits, if not of their ancestors,
at least of their protecting animal deities and symbolic progenitors.
Nature worship, which became elaborated in a symbolic religious system
under the ancient Egyptians, under the conditions of mural and glyptic
art led to that severe and dignified formalism combined with essential
characterization in the treatment of birds and animals which has
never been surpassed and which have given splendid types for the
mural painter and sculptor for all time. Heavier and more formal and
architectural in their sculptural treatment of symbolic animals, such
as the winged bulls which form essential architectural features, the
Assyrians, when they came to the treatment of actual scenes of life
(such as the lion-hunts of their kings, carved in low relief on the
walls of their palaces,) showed a freer and more naturalistic feeling
which breaks through a prevailing formalism and convention sometimes
with almost startling power, as in the celebrated wounded lioness of
the Nineveh slabs in the British Museum.

  [Illustration: Lion from Assyrian Bas-relief.]

  [Illustration: Persian Lion from the frieze at Susa
  (Perrot & chipiez)]

  [Illustration: Lion from a Theban bas-relief.
  (Perrot & chipiez)]

There is a considerable resemblance in treatment between the Assyrian
lion in sculpture and the lion of ancient Persia as he appears at the
palace of Susa, though, heightened with enamel, the latter acquires
a certain decorative and distinctive ferocity. A lion from a Theban
bas-relief shows the simpler and more abstract treatment of Egyptian
art.

This Perso-Assyrian type of lion might almost be called a central
Asian type, and is curiously perpetuated in the well-known supporters
of the pillar over the gate of Mycenæ.

In fact the later Greek lion shows marked traces of his descent from
his Asian prototypes. The influence of the same decorative formalism,
more especially of the mane and hirsute appendages, is indeed
traceable through Byzantine times, from the bronze lion of St. Mark
to the heraldic lions of the middle ages. The same influence is seen
again in the remarkable group of lions forming the capital of a column
discovered at Sarnath near Benares in India, associated with many
other sculptures of Graeco-Buddhist origin.

  [Illustration: Græco-Buddhist Group of Lions carved in marble
  forming summit of a column excavated at Sarnath n^r. Benares]

For perfect monumental treatment of horses, when truthful action
and vitality are perfectly united with linear rhythm and decorative
effect, we must still turn to the pan-athenaic frieze--despite the
opinion of the Yorkshire horse-dealer who pronounced them "only damned
galloways, not worth ten pounds apiece!" They remain full of life and
movement and as examples of most delicate relief sculpture governed by
ornamental feeling.

  [Illustration: Animal forms from early Greek pottery]

I should just like to mention, while speaking of Greek art, the
practice of the early vase painter, who, frequently using animals
as his main decorative motive, had a system by which he was able
to harmonize many different kinds in, say, a running border, or
succession of borders. This was done partly through the influence of
the brush and partly by the recognition of typical resemblances even
in apparently diverse forms. The basis of unity was the oval or ovoid
shape of the bodies of all animals and birds. The vase painter with
his ornamental purpose in view exaggerated this resemblance, governing
his individual shapes by a sort of invisible volute-like curves, he
gained a rhythmic decorative effect without loss of identity in his
forms.

With the development of heraldry in mediaeval times we come upon a
world of spirited and vividly decorative design in which the forms of
animals play a very important part. A very instructive study might be
made of the mediaeval heraldic lion alone. The heraldic designer
had to be emphatic in his forms, and distinct though simple in
characterization. As with the Greek vase painter, profile best served
his purpose, and effective silhouette became all important. When the
lion is "passant regardant" in mediaeval heraldry the full face has
a curiously human character, as in the arms of Prince John at Eltham
which Mr. G. W. Eve gives in his "Heraldry as Art."

  [Illustration: The Lion in English heraldry.
  Arms of Prince John of Eltham, Westminster Abbey.]

Among the finest examples of the treatment of animals in decorative
art of an heraldic and symbolic character are the designs of the
twelfth and thirteenth-century textiles, in the celebrated Sicilian
silks, or those of Lucca of the fourteenth century. In these fabrics
the animal forms are used with the greatest ornamental effect, the
conditions of the repeat of the pattern and the exigences of the
loom being essential, and, frankly acknowledged, contribute to the
character and beauty of the result.

It has always been the frank and workmanlike acceptance of the
necessary conditions of the materials and methods of production,
which, while defining the character of the treatment, gives both
character and beauty to decorative art, and we find this especially
true in regard to the treatment of animal forms in all kinds of
design.

  [Illustration: SICILIAN SILK, THIRTEENTH CENTURY (FISHBACH).]

  [Illustration: SICILIAN SILK, THIRTEENTH CENTURY (FISHBACH).]

  [Illustration: SICILIAN SILK, THIRTEENTH CENTURY (FISHBACH).]

The pursuit of superficial imitation in modern times, the pictorial
aim which includes atmospheric effect and the representation of
values, textures, and surfaces, extending its influence over all the
arts of design has done much to destroy the dignity, the character,
and the decorative reserve of ancient and mediaeval design in the
treatment of animals; the so-called naturalistic aim producing
palpably absurd effects in sculpture and in heraldry, for instance.
With the modern revival of design and knowledge of the handicrafts
this mistake has been largely corrected. Artists have discovered the
peculiar qualities proper to different materials and processes and
their value as means of expression in design is much more generally
understood and acknowledged, while fresh study of nature has helped,
with these, to make a fresh and appropriate convention in the
treatment of animals possible. The Japanese have taught us that
marvellous fidelity to nature may be united with decorative effect
in the treatment of animals--especially birds and fishes, and that
certain facts of structure and surface or colour may become, under
skilful treatment, brilliant parts of a design--as the scales of a
fish in inlays of pearl, or in lacquer: the plumage of a bird in silk
embroidery, or the system of structure of the feathers expressed in
the delicate lines of cloisonné enamel. Examples of Chinese art might
be referred to also for excellence in the same qualities united with
more decorative reserve and dignity.

  [Illustration: FROM THE "HUNDRED BIRDS" OF BARI.]

  [Illustration: Peacock bracket.
  Man Mandir Palace. Gwalior.]

I have not mentioned Indian art, except the example at Sarnath, which,
at least, as regards the Hindu side abounds with examples of the
decorative treatment of animals, the temples being frequently a
mass of animal life in carving, continuous courses being formed of
elephants, horses, and bulls in succession. The peacock, too, being
a sacred bird, constantly appears. At the old palace of Man Mandir
at Gwalior, Central India, I saw a carved stone bracket in which
a peacock had been very effectively treated for its constructive
purpose: and in the south, at Tanjore, I saw the splendid bird, in
the quick, with tail like a sweeping robe, perched upon the sacred
colossal bull which, carved in black stone (or marble, darkened with
successive libations of votive oil) reposes in the court of the great
temple, and whose living prototype might easily be found drawing an
ox-cart in the town.

  [Illustration: Elephant bracket
  Man Mandir Palace Gwalior]

At Gwalior, too, I noted a treatment of the elephant in a carved stone
bracket in the old palace of Man Mandir, which in structure recalled
the wondrous columns of the temple at Steerungum at Trichinopoly
in the south, though in the latter case the subject is mainly the
horseman, but the resemblance is in the arrangement which seems
characteristic of Indian (Hindu) carving. At the Guest House, Gwalior,
also, elephants' heads were treated ingeniously as the corbels
supporting balconies. It was modern work, but evidently influenced by
the carvings in the old palace above mentioned. There was an abundance
of floral carving and geometric pierced work in this Guest House,
besides, extremely skilful and beautiful in detail, showing that the
modern Hindu architectural carver had by no means lost his cunning.
This, of course, was a native state.

  [Illustration: Elephant corbels Guest House Gwalior]

One almost wonders that golden images of favourite race-horses are not
set up in--well, some of our public places, for it cannot be said
that there is no animal worship in our own country, though the
votive offerings in art usually take the form of sporting prints, or
paintings of fat stock with straight backs and short horns.

  [Illustration: ELEPHANT CORBELS, GUEST HOUSE, GWALIOR.]

Animal painting was once an honoured and prosperous career in England,
and prints after Landseer covered a considerable acreage in the early
Victorian epoch. Do not his lions still support Nelson in Trafalgar
Square, and perhaps afford some protection to unpopular speakers on
that historic plinth? I think, however, most of us would prefer the
little lion which was modelled by Alfred Stevens, both as a dignified
representation of our National Totem and as an example of native
artistic style and treatment.

  [Illustration: Lion by Alfred Stevens,
  formerly part of the outer iron railing of the British Museum.]



MODERN ASPECTS OF LIFE AND THE SENSE OF BEAUTY



  [Illustration]



MODERN ASPECTS OF LIFE AND THE SENSE OF BEAUTY


That modern social and economic conditions tend to destroy beauty in
the outward aspects of human life and nature: the thesis, thus stated,
would seem almost a self-evident proposition; yet I am by no means
sure that sensitiveness to beauty--or to its absence--in our daily
surroundings is so very common (or even that there is a common
understanding as to the idea of beauty) that it would obtain general
assent without further explanation; and as I have undertaken to open
the case for the prosecution, if I may so term it, I will try to put
before you my reasons and conclusions on the matter.

My first witness shall be London, as London is typical and focusses
most of the effects of modern social and economic conditions. Now, we
hear a great deal of the beauty of London, but probably those who
talk of her beauty are really thinking of certain beauty spots or the
picturesqueness of certain favoured localities where the Thames and
the parks come in. Vast as London is, most of us really live for the
most part in a comparatively small London. Outside our usual haunts
lies a vast unknown region, of which indeed occasional glimpses are
obtained on being obliged to travel across or through the desert of
the multi-county-city.

Those whose London is bounded on the west by Kensington Gardens and
on the east by Mayfair, do not figure to themselves Clerkenwell or
Ratcliffe Highway, Bethnal Green or Bow, and would not care to
embrace the vast new suburbs spreading over the green fields in every
direction, or even to notice the comparatively select slums in the
shadow of Belgravian mansions. Supposing we approached our metropolis
by any of the great railway lines, there is nothing to indicate that
we are entering the greatest and wealthiest city in the world. We pass
rows and rows of mean dwellings--yellow brick boxes with blue slate
lids--crowded close to the railway in many places, with squalid little
backyards. We fly over narrow streets, and complex webs and networks
of railway lines, and thread our way through telegraph and telephone
wires, myriad smoking chimney-pots, steaming, throbbing works of
all kinds, sky signs, and the wonders of the parti-coloured poster
hoardings--which pursue one into the station itself, flaring on
the reluctant and jaded sight with ever-increasing importunity and
iteration, until one recalls the philosopher who remarked "Strange
that the world should need so much pressing to accept such apparently
obvious advantages!"

Inside the station, however large, all sense of architectural
proportion is lost by the strident labels of all sorts and sizes, and
banal devices on every scale and in every variety of crude colour,
stuck, like huge postage stamps, wherever likely to catch the eye.

The same thing meets us in the streets: in the busier commercial
quarters, too, it is a common device to hang the name of the firm in
gigantic gilt letters all over the windows and upper stories of the
shops; while the shops themselves become huge warehouses of goods,
protected by sheets of plate glass, upon the edges of which apparently
rest vast superstructures of flats and offices, playfully pinned
together by telegraph poles, and hung with a black spider's web of
wires, as if to catch any soaring ideas of better things that might
escape the _melée_ of the street. In the streets a vast crowd of
all sorts, sizes and conditions is perpetually hurrying to and fro,
presenting the sharpest contrasts in appearance and bearing. Here the
spruce and prosperous business man, there the ragged cadger, the club
idler, and the out-o'-work; there the lady in her luxurious carriage
or motor, in purple and fine linen, and there the wretched seller of
matches.

Modern street traffic, too, is of the most mixed and bewildering kind,
and the already too perilous London streets have been made much more
so by the motor in its various forms of van and 'bus, business or
private car. The aspect of a London street during one of the frequent
traffic blocks is certainly extraordinary, so variously sorted and
sized are the vehicles, wedged in an apparently inextricable jumble,
while the railways and tubes burrowed underground only add fresh
streams of humanity to the traffic, instead of relieving it.

Yet it has been principally to relieve the congested traffic of
London that the great changes have been made which have practically
transformed the town, sweeping away historic buildings and relics of
the past, and giving a general impression of rapid scene-shifting to
our streets.

The most costly and tempting wares are displayed in the shops in
clothing, food, and all the necessities of life, as well as fantastic
luxuries and superfluities in the greatest profusion--"things that
nobody wants made to give to people who have no use for them"--yet,
necessities or not, removed only by the thickness of the plate-glass
from the famished eyes of penury and want.

The shops, too, are not workshops. The goods appear in the windows
as if by magic. Their producers are hidden away in distant factories,
working like parts of a machine upon portions of wholes which perhaps
they never see complete.

Turning to the residential quarters, we see ostentation and luxury on
the one hand, and cheap imitation, pretentiousness, or meanness
and squalor on the other. We see the aforesaid brick boxes packed
together, which have ruined the aspect of most of our towns: we have
the pretentious suburban villa, with its visitors' and servants'
bells; we have the stucco-porticoed town "mansion," with its squeezy
hall and umbrella stand; or we have the "desirable" flat, nearer to
heaven, like the cell of a cliff-dweller, where the modern citizen
seeks seclusion in populous caravansaries which throw every street out
of scale where they rear their Babel-like heads.

I have not spoken of the gloom of older-fashioned residential
quarters, frigid in their respectability, which, whatever centres of
light and leading they may conceal, seem outwardly to turn the cold
shoulder to ordinary humanity, or peep distrustfully at a wicked world
through their fanlights.

Many of the features I have described are found also in most modern
cities in different degrees, and are still more evident in the
United States, where there is nothing ancient to stem the tide of
modern--shall we say progress? It is only fair to note, however,
that there is a movement in New York, in which leading architects and
artists are joining with municipal reformers, for the preservation of
beauty in the better ordering of street improvements, the laying out
of public places, and the general recognition of the social importance
of harmony and pleasant effect in cities, which has lately found
expression in schemes of town-planning and garden cities and suburbs
in this country.

Turning from the aspects of their houses to the humans who inhabit
them--take modern dress in our search for the beautiful! Well,
national if not distinctive costume--except of the working and
sporting sort, court dress, collegiate and municipal robes, and
uniforms--has practically disappeared, and, apart from working dress
in working hours, one type of ceremonial, or full dress is common
to the people at large, and that of the plainest kind--with whatever
differences and niceties of cut and taste in detail--I mean the type
for men, of course.

Among the undisputed rights of women the liberty to dress as she
pleases, even under recognized types for set occasions, and with
constant variety and change of style, is not a little important, and
it is a liberty that has very striking effects upon the aspects
of modern life we are considering. It is true, this liberty may be
checked by the decrees of eminent _modistes_, and limited by the
opinion of Mrs. Grundy, or the frank criticism of the boy in the
street; and it is even more than probable that the exigencies of trade
have something to do with it also.

It is, however, too important an element in the _ensemble_ of life to
be ignored or undervalued in any way, as women's dress affords one of
the few opportunities of indulging in the joy of colour that is left
to civilization.

Men suffer the tyranny of the tall silk hat as the outward and visible
sign of respectability--surely a far more obvious one nowadays
than Carlyle's "gig." "Gigmanity" has become top-hat-manity. The
"stove-pipe" is the crown of the modern king--financier--the business
man--_He_ "who must be obeyed." I understand it is still as much as a
city clerk's place is worth for him to appear in any other head-gear.
Ladies, too, encourage it, with the black-frock coat and the rest of
the funereally festive attire of modern correct mankind. I suppose the
garb is considered to act as an effective foil to the feast of colour
indulged in by the ladies, and that it may act as a sort of black
framing to fair pictures--black commas, semi-colons, or full-stops,
agreeably punctuating passages of delicate colour!

The worst of it is that the beauty of woman's dress, when it happens
to follow or revive a fashion with great possibilities of beauty, as
at present, seems to be a matter almost of accident, and entirely at
the mercy of the mode (or the trade?)--here to-day and gone to-morrow;
and, alas, lovely woman, our only hope for variety in colour and form
in modern life, in her determination to descend into the industrial
and professional arena and compete commercially with men, not
unfrequently shows a tendency to take a leaf out of her rival's
tailor's pattern-book, and to adopt or adapt more or less of the
features of modern man's prosaic, though possibly convenient and
durable, but certainly summary and unromantic attire.

Well, I think, on the whole, the pictures which modern life in London
or any great capital discloses may be striking in their
contrasts, vivid in their suggestions, dramatic or tragic in their
aspects--anything or everything, in fact, _except_ beautiful; except,
of course, in so far as accidental effects of light and atmosphere
are beautiful, mainly, perhaps, because they disguise or transfigure
actually unlovely form and substance.

The essential qualities of beauty being harmony, proportion, balance,
simplicity, charm of form and colour, can we expect to find much of
it in conditions which make life a mere scramble for existence for the
greater part of mankind? Bellamy, in his "Looking Backward," gives a
striking and succinct image of modern social and economic conditions
in his illustration or allegory of the coach and horses. The coach is
Capitalism. It carries a minority, but even these struggle for a seat,
and to maintain their position, frequently falling off, when they
either go under altogether, or must help to pull the coach with the
majority toiling in the traces of commercial competition.

However these conditions may, among individuals, be softened by human
kindness, or some of their aspects modified by artistic effort, they
do not change the cruelty or injustice of the system, or its brutal
and ugly aspects in the main.

But if modern civilization is only tolerable in proportion to the
number and facility of the means of escape from it, perhaps we may
find at least the beauty of the country and of wild nature unimpaired?

Do we? We may escape the town by train or motor--running the risk in
either case of a smash--but we cannot escape commercial enterprise.
The very trees and houses sprout with business cards, and the
landscape along some of our principal railway lines seems owned by
the vendors of drugs. Turning away our eyes from such annoyances,
commercial enterprise, again, has us in all sorts of alluring
announcements of all sorts and sizes in innumerable newspapers and
magazines, which, like paper kites, can only maintain their position
by extensive tails. The tail--that is, the advertisement sheets--keeps
the kite flying--and the serial tale keeps the advertisers going,
perhaps, also. Anyhow, the gentle reader is obliged to take his news
and views, social or political, sandwiched or flavoured with very
various and unsought and unwanted condiments, pictorial or otherwise.
Thus, public attention is diverted and--nobody minds! But it is in
these insidious ways that that repose or detachment of mind favourable
to the sense of beauty is destroyed, and thus, to put it in another
way, we are in danger of losing our lives, or the best that life can
give, in getting our living--or, well, perhaps it might be true to say
in some cases, a substantial percentage on our investments.

In obedience, too, to the requirements of the great god Trade, whole
districts of our fair country are blighted and blackened, and whole
populations are made dependent upon mechanical, monotonous, and often
dangerous toil to support the international commercial race for the
precarious world-market.

Under the same desperate compulsion of commercial competition,
agriculture declines, and the country side is deserted. The old
country life, with its festivals and picturesque customs, has
disappeared. Old houses, churches, and cottages have tumbled into
ruin, or have suffered worse destruction by a process of smartening
up called "restoration." The people have crowded into the overcrowded
towns, increasing the competition for employment, the chances of which
are lessened by the very industry of the workers themselves, and so
our great cities blindly become huger, more dangerous, and generally
unlovely, losing, too, by degrees their relics of historic interest
and romance they once possessed.

Even in the art-world, and among the very cultivators of beauty we
detect the canker of commercialism. The compulsion of the market rules
supply and demand, and the dealer becomes more and more dominant. The
idea of the shop dominates picture shows, and painters become almost
as specialized as men of science, while genius, or even ordinary
talent, requires as much puffing as a patent medicine. Everyone
must have his trade label, and woe to the artist who experiments,
or discovers capacities in himself for other things than his label
covers.

Every new and sincere movement in art has been in direct protest and
conflict with the prevailing conditions, and has measured its progress
by its degree of success in counteracting them, and, in some sense,
producing new conditions. The remarkable revival of the handicrafts,
or arts and crafts movement, of late years may be quoted as an
instance; but it is a world within a world; a minority producing for
a minority; although the movement has done valuable work even as a
protest, and has raised the banner of handwork and its beauty in an
age of machine industry.

Other notable movements of a protesting, protective, or mitigating
nature are at work in the form of societies for the protection of
ancient buildings, for the preservation of historic spots and the
beauty of natural scenery, for the abolition or abatement of the smoke
nuisance, for checking the abuses of public advertisement, for the
increase of parks and open spaces, and for spreading the love of art
among the people.

Indeed, it would seem as if the welfare of humanity and the prospects
of a tolerable life under modern conditions were handed over to such
societies, since it does not seem to be anybody's business to attend
to what should be everybody's business, and we have not even a
minister to look after such interests. The very existence of such
societies, however, is a proof of the danger and destruction to which
beauty is exposed under modern conditions.

Social conditions are the outcome of economic conditions. In all ages
it has been the system under which property is held--the ownership of
the means of production and exchange--which has decided the forms of
social life. The expansion of capital and the power of the financier
are essentially modern developments, as also is unrestricted
commercial competition, though this seems to lead to monopoly--a
heretofore unexpected climax. Modern existence in such circumstances
becomes an unequal race or scramble for money, place, power, or mere
employment. The social (or rather _un_social) pressure which results
really causes those sordid aspects, pretences, aggressions, and brutal
contrasts we deplore. Private ownership is constantly opposed to
public interest. The habit of regarding everything from the narrow
point of view of money value and immediate profit as the determining
factors in all transactions obscures larger issues and stultifies
collective action for the public good.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury of public opinion, perhaps I have
said enough to support the case of beauty against modern social and
economic conditions. I do not ask for damages--they are incalculable.
She stands before you, a pathetic figure, obscured in shreds and
patches, driven from pillar to post, disinherited, a casual, and
obliged to beg her bread, who should be a welcome and an honoured
guest in every city and country, and in every house, bearing the lamp
of art and bringing comfort and joy to all.



A SHORT SURVEY OF THE ART OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY

WITH SOME NOTES ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS



  [Illustration]



A SHORT SURVEY OF THE ART OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, CHIEFLY IN
ENGLAND, WITH SOME NOTES ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS


A hundred years is but an arbitrary division of time, and yet one
cannot help investing the centuries with a sort of personality as
they pass, each distinguished by certain characteristics, particular
movements, and habits of thought as well as of life and its aspects,
and above all by the spirit and forms of the art to which they have
given birth.

If we could summon a typical figure with proper accessories to
illustrate each epoch we should get a vivid if somewhat symbolical
idea of the varying phases of thought and art, and the passing
fashions in taste which the past has witnessed.

Few centuries, perhaps, would be more difficult to comprehend in a
single figure than the nineteenth, displaying as it does in the course
of its history so many diversities--revolutions we might say--in
artistic development.

In its early years, inheriting its taste and fashions from the
eighteenth century, when handicraft was still the principal means for
the production of things of both use and adornment, the nineteenth
century has witnessed a complete revolution in commercial and
industrial conditions, with the development of the factory system,
competition, and the demands of the world-market. It has seen
the great machine industries take the place of the former minute
subdivision of labour, and in the process of both subdivision of
labour and the development of machine industry all forms of production
have been affected.

The former local centres of supply have disappeared with
self-dependent homesteads and village industries, and with the decline
of handicraft traditions of design and construction have been in this
country well-nigh completely broken, except in some trades, such as
the cartwright's and the wheelwright's and the harness maker's. We
still see in our beautiful country wagons the chamfers and ogee forms
in the woodwork and the gay painting of mediaeval times, and our
noble shire horses are often brave with bright brass ornaments
which perpetuate traditional patterns, moulded or pierced; while the
descendants of Wayland Smith still ply their trade at the village
forge, though mainly limited to horseshoes.

But machine industry and the factory and production for profit
rather than for use, having nearly extinguished all sense of art and
individual taste in the useful arts which contribute to the comfort
and decoration of the home, in the later years of the century, seem to
have evoked, by the mere force of reaction and revulsion of feeling,
that remarkable revival of decorative design and handicraft which has
distinguished its closing years, under the influence of which many
beautiful crafts have been successfully recovered and practised with
success, while trade itself has not been slow to derive new ideas from
the Arts and Crafts movement.

The main principles inspiring the promoters of this movement have been
the unity of the arts allied with and controlled by architecture, and
the due acknowledgement of the artistic responsibility of the designer
and craftsman.

With regard to the architecture of the nineteenth century we may see
nearly every past fashion of its history revived in turn, until some
of our eclectic architects seem to have evolved something like a
characteristic domestic style, at least, characteristically mixed in
its constructive and decorative features, but certainly adapted to
modern requirements.

The classical forms in building, which attained a certain heaviness
and Dutch plainness under the Georges, underwent a transformation with
the revival of Greek and Roman taste in the Empire period. From that
time onward classical columns and pilasters and classical details
of varying proportions became embedded, as it were, in our domestic
architecture, and as a consequence the more-or-less-Doric portico
still dominates large residential districts of London. Their columned
ranks, however, have latterly been greatly broken in some quarters
by the cheerful red brick fronts and white sashes of the Queen Anne
revival, which have, in some instances, in response to the demand
for "residential flats," even got upon stilts and nod at us from the
many-gabled top stories of the modern caravansary.

Street architecture in later Victorian days became a masquerade in
building materials, since the design of the façade bears little or
no relation to the hidden structure of steel framing by which our
many-storied piles are held together, while, apparently, when there
are shops on the ground floor the whole mass has the effect of
playfully reposing upon the edges of great sheets of plate glass.

The use of terra-cotta, or cut-brick enrichments have been a
welcome relief from the doleful gentility of the white brick, or
the depressing gray stucco which has cast a peculiar gloom over some
respectable neighbourhoods.

In church architecture the Gothic revivalists have carried all before
them. At one period of the nineteenth century, indeed, when the
restoring zeal was at its height and nothing was acceptable but
something "early English," there was considerable reason to fear that
the architects would leave nothing behind them!

But we have had really distinguished work from men like Butterfield
(the architect of All Saints, Margaret Street), William Burges, and J.
D. Sedding, while domestic architecture both in town and country has
been developed on new lines by Mr. Norman Shaw, Mr. Philip Webb, and
their able followers of the younger generation.

In sculpture we may trace an analogous line of development, from the
severe, graceful, but somewhat cold classical style of Flaxman and the
more dramatic Canova, or the sentiment of Thorvaldsen, freezing into
the later classicism of Gibson on the one hand, or breaking out
into the realisms and trivialities of the modern Italian School. In
England, inspired by the study of nature and cultivation of style
chiefly under the influence of the works of Phidias and the Florentine
masters of the fifteenth century, a school of considerable distinction
and force has arisen. We had one, at least, really great master
in Alfred Stevens standing almost alone as a modern expositor of
renascence traditions. He has been succeeded by men of taste and
refinement like the late Onslow Ford, or the accomplishment, beauty
of design, and vigour of expression of the late Harry Bates, not to
mention living exponents of sculpture quite as distinguished. Among
the younger school the continental influence of Meunier and of Rodin
may be noted.

To continue our rapid and necessarily imperfect survey, in the field
of painting, again, the course of development through changes of
feeling and aim is even more emphatically marked, as might be expected
from that most sensitive and impressionable of the arts.

The domination of the older Academic traditions in artistic education
and practice was only broken fitfully in the first quarter of the
century by such meteoric influences as that of William Blake, who with
his vivid and inspired vision of a world of spiritual, imaginative,
and symbolic beauty was in open revolt against the classical coldness
and the conscious prettinesses and pretences of his time in art, as
well as against the prosaic calculating spirit of a commercial epoch.

Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough as well as Hogarth left
their mark on the methods in English painting and raised a standard
of workmanship in the eighteenth century which has not since been
approached in the same direction, though many charming artists in the
figure and landscape, such as George Morland, succeeded them; while
later we have the anecdotic and incident pictures of David Wilkie
which established a characteristic British type.

The remarkable work of J. M. W. Turner is perhaps more characteristic
of the first half of the nineteenth century than that of any other
English painter. Trained in the restricted and reserved methods of
the early landscape school learned from Italy and France, with
extraordinary industry and facility as a draughtsman, and a keen sense
of composition, his development under different influences, from the
classical landscape school of Claude Lorraine and Nicolas Poussin to
the romantic feeling of Titian and Salvator Rosa, or the quiet pathos
and precision of touch of the Dutch masters, and above all of the
close and constant observation of nature in all her varying moods, and
in nearly all European countries, may be seen in the unrivalled record
of work he has left, and in the splendid collection in the National
Gallery.

Turner seems to express the general movement of the half-century's
life and moods of thought more completely than any other artist.
Classical, romantic, mythological, naturalistic, impressionistic, in
turn; from the serene atmosphere, lucent skies, and deep umbrage of
classical landscapes, with their nymphs and shepherds, we may follow
the course of his mind to the "Rain, Steam, and Speed" of the Great
Western Railway.

It is a wide reach, but Turner's art illuminates the smoke and
the stir and stress of the industrial and revolutionary nineteenth
century, like a rainbow spanning a stormy sky.

And what of its last fifty years? They have seen the rise, formation
and decline of the pre-Raphaelite School. That strong and earnest
movement emanating from a small group of enthusiastic young painters,
seeking sincerity of expression with thoroughness of workmanship and
profound study of nature. The names of Holman Hunt, J. E. Millais, D.
G. Rossetti and Ford Madox Brown and Frederick Sandys will always be
associated with this important epoch in English painting. Their works
have exercised a potent influence far beyond their own immediate
circle, and have affected many different developments, forming the
root and stem as it were of many different branches.

To this source (whether as reactive or related influences) we may
trace back the two chief and vital distinctive directions into which
modern painting may be broadly divided--impressionism on the one hand
and the pursuit of decorative beauty tinged with poetic feeling
and romance on the other, this latter being allied with a further
important movement concerned with the revival of design and the
artistic handicrafts, known as the Arts and Crafts movement.

With this the names of William Morris and Burne-Jones will always be
associated, and they both link hands with the original group of the
pre-Raphaelites.

Among later influences upon art generally that of the Japanese cannot
be left out of account as its effects have been considerable in many
directions and may be said to have had an enormous influence upon the
art of Whistler. Despite, however, the marvellous skill of Japanese
craftsmanship, owing to the fantastic spirit of their design, and
the absence of the steadying and controlling influence of stone
construction in their architecture, their art has had more effect upon
our impressionistic school than upon our arts and craftsmen, and it is
rather by the work of the latter type and the movement it represents
that the art of the close of the last century is more distinctively
characterized.

The study of Japanese art, however, leads us back to its source in
the graver and more serious art of China, where its prototypes may be
found in nobler forms.

The opening of the twentieth century has brought great
changes--changes in the aspects of life, changes in the temper of the
nation. Action and reaction which govern the world, also influence the
world of thought and of art. The pendulum of taste swings between the
classic and the romantic moods and modes. It has of late swung
again towards the classical side and manifests itself, as regards
decoration, in the vogue of plain white walls, classical columns and
pilasters and cornices, and an almost puritan fear of any other kind
of ornament. When colour and pattern _are_ indulged in they mostly
show a reversion to the fashions of the early Victorian age of French
origin or pre-Morrisian types. What was once denounced as hideous has
now become old fashioned enough to be found historically interesting.

In painting, what might be termed a cult of the ugly, indeed, seems to
have fascinated many of our vigorous artists. This may be the result
of a reaction against early Victorian prettiness, and quasi-classical
elegance. There has also been a decadent influence at work in our
latter-day art. This also manifested itself in that strange decorative
disease known as "L'Art Nouveau," which some writers have actually
asserted was the offspring of what properly considered was really
its antithesis--the Morris school of decoration. Some of the forms
of "L'Art Nouveau" may have been the result of the translation into
continental modes of some kinds of British, or rather Scottish,
design, initiated by certain designers of the Glasgow school, and
it is in this direction, I think, that we should be more likely to
discover its true genesis. To father it on the Morris school is much
as if one were to say that impressionism was a development of the
pre-Raphaelite movement, whereas it was a reaction. The followers of
both schools, no doubt, sought to restate natural fact or phase, but
on totally different principles and in absolutely opposed terms of
art.

With the passing of the impressionist masters, again, we see a counter
movement in what are called the "post impressionists." Here, again,
principles, methods of conception, observation, selection,
and execution are totally different. There are many different
individualities, and their works are so diverse that it can hardly
be considered a concerted movement in painting, though, regarded
collectively, it appears to be a reaction against previously accepted
canons or standards in art. Yet curiously enough there are suggestions
of the influence of early Byzantine work and of Roman mosaic in the
work of some of these painters, the mosaic method of producing form
and colour by the juxtaposition of small tesserae or cubes, being
actually followed as closely as possible in some instances, by laying
on paint in small squares or parallelograms. By such means a
certain effect of vibrating light is obtained, but it seems rather a
misapplication of the method, and would be more satisfactory to work
in actual mosaic and for the artist to avail himself of the decorative
beauty which the conditions of working in that material would give.

The movement, so far as it is sincere, appears to be a reflex in
art of the feeling which is apt to possess members of a civilized
community occasionally--the feeling which urges a man to break away
from the restraints and formalities, as well as the comforts and
luxuries of modern life, and seek a return to nature or the bed-rock
of existence in the backwoods, or some primitive country, where a
simple life is possible.

It also reflects a view which has a certain influence among
educationalists--a desire to realize and to possess the unprejudiced
unprepossessed attitude of a child's mind and its outlook and vision
of nature and life. There is a charm in the _naïveté_ of primitive art
of all kinds which is akin to the charm we often find in children's
drawings. In seeking to cultivate artificially such a mental
attitude and its expression in art, however, there is the danger of
affectation, and even the sincerest efforts in that direction may give
the impression of being affected; also, when, as is nearly always the
case in our time, the question of art becomes hopelessly mixed up with
the question of commercialism, and personal interests, and crossed by
waves of fashionable caprice, like the wind blowing where it listeth,
it becomes exceedingly difficult to discover the proverbial "hair"
which "perhaps divides the false and the true."

Another point to be noted is this, that whereas the trend of
impressionism in art has been towards the opposite pole to conscious
and formal design, among some of the painters of the newer school
there appears to be a feeling towards its recovery to some extent,
at least, there is evidence of the desire to regard a picture as a
pattern of colour which necessarily involves some sort of arrangement.
This may be some indication of a return to sanity and a desire to
restore the art of painting as an art of design.

But over and above all these movements and varieties the desire for
something antique seems to be dominant. The old masters eclipse the
moderns in painting; and in decoration and furniture, if genuine old
work is not to be had, the closest imitation is in demand, and the
tone of time must, if possible, be anticipated in counterfeit. Mr.
Hardcastle, in "She Stoops to Conquer," would be quite in fashion with
his old house and everything old in it.

Apart from the trade interests no doubt concerned, this love of
antiquity growing side by side with the most rapid development of
mechanical invention and the consequent transformation of the aspects
and habits of life, is a curious fact and seems to show, so far as it
is genuine, the growth of an unsatisfied historic sense or feeling
for romance, which at one time seemed threatened with extinction in a
utilitarian world.

This taste for antiquity in all things, however, is often very
artificial in its manifestations, and does not lead to any keener
appreciation of good contemporary art, but rather encourages the
simulation of past styles than original invention, which does not seem
quite healthy.

Another recent development is the taste for pageantry. This is in
itself another indication of the revival of the love of romance and
antiquity, perhaps, and may to some extent have also encouraged that
revival.

Certainly in pageantry we have a popular and picturesque means of
vivifying past history, and encouraging a knowledge of and pride in
the story of their own country among our people which could hardly be
gained from the study of books or pictures alone. Historic episodes
arranged in dramatic form enacted by living men and women, with all
the vivid effect of life and movement, and heightened by all the
resources of costume and heraldry and accessories proper to each
period, the scenes, too, taking place in the open air, with green
swards, noble trees, and the wide sky for proscenium leave an
ineffaceable impression upon the eyes and minds of the spectators.

But what is wanted is a wider appeal. We might make the pageant a
means of centralizing and unifying national life. We should not be
content to limit such shows to a means of raising money for charitable
objects, or as an expensive amusement for the few; we should aim
at making our pageants free public spectacles in which the people
themselves should co-operate. Mr. Frank Henson and Mr. Frank Lascelles
have done and are doing excellent work in this direction. Every town
might have its commemorative processions in celebration of certain
important local historic events, especially such as illustrate the
growth of the great structure of English Freedom.

If we consider the amount of artistic and archaeological knowledge,
the training and discipline involved, the opportunities for personal
distinction, and the cultivation of the sense of beauty in the
externals of life, we have in the pageant a very important educational
factor of far-reaching influence, and a powerful means of unifying
public sentiment and public spirit, and fostering the national
character.



ART AND THE COMMONWEAL

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT ARMSTRONG COLLEGE TO THE STUDENTS OF THE
SCHOOL OF ART



  [Illustration]



ART AND THE COMMONWEAL

AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT ARMSTRONG COLLEGE, NEWCASTLE, TO THE STUDENTS
OF THE SCHOOL OF ART


Art in our time is regarded from many different points of view--for
instance, (1) as an accessory in general education--generally some
way after the fact; or (2) as the servant or slave of commerce and
industry; or (3) as a polite amusement for persons of leisure; or
(4) as a profession or means of livelihood; (5) as a luxury only for
persons of wealth and leisure; or (6) as an investment or speculation;
or (7) as a necessity of life and its indispensable accompaniment and
means of record and expression.

Art may be, and indeed actually is, each and all of these at the
present moment, but, apart from economic and other considerations,
the latter is the larger and truer view of the function of art, and
it necessarily, too, includes the first, or educational value, which
cannot be over estimated.

The education of the eye is second to none in importance if we
consider it fully in all its bearings, but this is far from being
generally sufficiently realized (or ugliness might come to
be considered a crime), and as the first avenue of human
intelligence--though the mouth perhaps might make out a case for
priority, its interests are singularly neglected. It is true we have
the words "unsightly" and "eyesore," which seem to recognize that the
eye is capable of being affronted or distressed or even wounded by
hideous objects; this perhaps is something, but for all that the eye
has to be a very tolerant organ in these days.

The best test of power or accuracy of observation is drawing, and
power of drawing is the basis of all art, which might in all its
varieties be described as different kinds or degrees of drawing; what
is painting but drawing in colour and tone? What is modelling but
drawing in relief or in three dimensions? What is weaving pattern but
drawing in textile? And so with each artistic craft by means of which
beautiful form and colour is created, each after its manner is a
method of drawing, and, as a matter of fact, each is actually based on
a drawing as a preliminary stage of its existence.

Great, then, is drawing. It has now taken a place in our ordinary
educational course as a "compulsory subject" although it must be said
that amid the innumerable subjects with which the modern student is
expected to be crammed a very small proportion of time is generally
allowed for its pursuit--a pursuit indeed which generally ends in
catching it like a mouse, by the tail, for it appears that about
two hours a week is the time spent in the drawing classes of some
colleges. This does not seem to give much chance to either teacher or
student of drawing! Nevertheless, as one who has examined the results
of such drawing, a certain power of simple definition of form in an
abstract way appears to be acquired,--the capacity, varying a good
deal, to give in simple bold chalk outline the salient characteristics
of some common object, or living form, such as a piece of pottery,
a flower, a bird, a fish. Even regarded merely as an aid to the
comprehension of an object or subject, drawing is obviously of the
greatest practical use. In the newer methods of teaching to read the
word is accompanied by the pictured object, for mere brain-puzzling
has no place in any national educational system.

It has been said that the _worst_ drawing of an object gives a clearer
idea of it than the best verbal description. That seems rather rough
on literature! But there is a good deal of truth in it. It is just
this definiteness of statement in a drawing which makes it so
valuable an exponent of form and detail, whereby its services
become indispensable in demonstration and description, and therefore
invaluable to all teachers. If anyone can draw an object in
ground-plan, in elevation, in longitudinal and transverse section, and
give its appearance in silhouette and in light and shade, he will
not only learn all about the form, character and construction of the
thing, but will be able to impart his knowledge to others.

To begin with, then, from the purely practical point of view and
regarded as an aid in education, the chief aim in the study of drawing
is to acquire knowledge of form and fact and the power of describing
or demonstrating them. We cannot therefore be too definite and need
not be afraid of being hard, even from the art-student's point of
view. Studies should be studies, thorough and searching. But drawing,
pursued as an introduction to the world of art, may lead the student
on through a course of practically endless evolution and development,
as he perceives that it is indeed a language of a most sensitive and
varied kind, of many styles and methods, which, though beginning with
simple statements of fact and form, may become in gifted hands an
instrument of the most powerful or delicate feeling and an exponent of
character and a vehicle of the imagination, having a rhythm and
beauty peculiar to itself. Consider the amount of beauty that has been
expressed by means of outline alone, from early Egyptian work to the
exquisite figures of the Greek vase painter, or to the flowers and
birds of Japanese artists. In these instances, as in all the best,
drawing is united with design,--only another kind of drawing. We
happen to have the words Drawing and Design in our language, and they
signify distinct things, because of course there is drawing which
may be simply copying or transcript, and there is drawing allied to
invention and imagination, drawing with the mind, with ideas as well
as with the eye and hand, which becomes design. I heard of an artist
endeavouring to define design the other day, and he said. "Well, you
make _a think_, and then you draw a line round it." It is certainly
thought that makes the difference.

When we come to composition we perceive that line has a further
function and significance, and it becomes an important factor in that
harmonizing, unifying process which is involved in making a design of
any kind. This is not merely an indulgence in idle or aimless fancy,
but is the outcome, over and above its imaginative quality, of meeting
certain conditions, such as the object and purpose of the work, its
material, and the necessities of its production. There is a certain
logic, too, in the language of line which the designer is bound to
observe, and he soon sees that in committing himself to a particular
form or system of line in his design of composition that form cannot
stand alone but has to be counterbalanced, led up to, and allied with
corresponding lines and forms, or perhaps emphasized by contrasts.

Now in pictorial composition or anything of that nature, a design
is complete in itself, the plain surface-panel canvas, or paper it
covers, determines its proportions and definite limits and the
only necessary technical considerations resolve themselves into
the necessity of unity with itself and suitability to the process
employed. But whereas the pictorial artist or picture painter carries
his own work through to completion, is designer and craftsman in one;
in short, the designer for some industrial purpose, unless he is his
own craftsman, must make his design also a working drawing to conform
to certain strict technical conditions, such as the nature of the
material and the method of reproduction, certain limits of size and
number of colours to be used and so forth. His work is not complete in
itself, but is a draft for a process of manufacture, and depends for
its ultimate success, beyond what beauty it may possess, upon the
completeness with which the technical requirements have been met and
upon the co-operative labour of perhaps a multitude of craftsmen.

With the establishment of modern competitive capitalistic commerce
and industry, the factory system, division of labour, and machinery,
designer and craftsman have been widely separated, to the detriment of
both. Shops are no longer workshops, but only _dépôts_ for the display
of the finished products of industry, so that the public remain
largely in ignorance of how and where and under what conditions things
are made. Even building, which was said to be the only craft carried
on under the public eye, is now largely a mysterious process developed
behind hoardings and posters. As to machinery, I do not deny that it
has its uses or that wonderful (and sometimes fearful) things have
been produced; the commercial output is prodigious, in fact, modern
existence has come to depend upon machinery in nearly every direction,
but the machines themselves remain as a rule far more wonderful things
than the things they produce, and the less machinery has to do with
art the better. Machinery has been called "labour-saving," but the
immediate result of its introduction has been to throw people out of
work--labour-saving in the sense of taking their work from them, or
the bread out of their mouths. Profit-making being the real object of
modern manufacture, the cheapening of the cost of production becomes
more important than human lives. Everything appears to be sacrificed
to the Moloch of Trade, which, according to our public men, is the
_one_ object of a nation's life. Yet trade on the competitive system
is devouring itself--or being devoured by monopoly, which again
devours the people. There seems some danger of humanity being
considered to exist for trade and not trade for the service of
humanity.

The old idea of a self-supporting country producing the necessities of
life for its own use seems only appreciated by Socialists.

These thoughts bring one to that aspect of art I spoke of at the
outset, as the servant or slave of commerce and industry.

Until the revival of design and handicraft in this country during the
last twenty-five or thirty years, decorative design, despite a few
distinguished artists, such as Alfred Stevens, might certainly be
described as the slave of commerce, and even now the revivers of
design and handicraft are not altogether free from the danger of being
devoured by commercial methods.

However, a protest has been made, the hand and the brain have asserted
themselves; a new standard in the decorative arts has been set up,
and since the time of William Morris and his group of pioneers, many
English artists and craftsmen have shown that they have successfully
revived and can do beautiful work in many forgotten crafts.

In founding the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society we desired to give
opportunities of personal distinction for artistic work in design and
craftsmanship, to put designers and craftsmen in the same position as
other artists, such as painters and sculptors, before the public in
this respect by giving the names of all responsible executants of a
work. Here, again, trade interests and competitive commerce have been
against us, although commerce has not been slow to imitate or adapt
some of the ideas in taste and design discovered in our exhibitions.

However, the movement has spread all over the country, Arts and Crafts
Societies and Exhibitions flourish everywhere, and the art schools
of the country have been largely reorganized and craft classes
established in connection with design. After many years' work some
of us think that so remarkable a movement might attain something like
national recognition, and its progress or permanence not be left
to depend upon the efforts of a few hard-working artists, with
ever-diminishing opportunities for exhibition, in the absence of a
suitable building. Painting and sculpture, and in a lesser degree
architecture, are officially recognized and housed rent free at
Burlington House. Why should the decorative arts have nowhere to lay
their heads?

After all, it is these arts, intimately connected as they are with a
people's daily life and well-being, that may be said to be really of
more immediate consequence than what are called the Fine Arts. Though,
personally, I do not admit the justice of the distinction usually
accepted between _Fine_ and Decorative or Industrial Art.

Art is a language--of many dialects it may be, but its greatness must
not be measured by inches, or the power or beauty of its thoughts and
conceptions determined by the material or method of their expression.
The spirit of art, imagination, romance, and the sense of beauty may
inspire the smaller accessories of life as they may the larger. It is
not a question of size or quantity, it is a question of quality.

As regards the art schools of the country, both state-aided and
municipal, whatever their shortcomings, it is only fair to say that
they have been from their establishment the only means, outside the
efforts of individual artists, of maintaining a standard of artistic
taste and accomplishment in decorative art, as distinct from the
influences of trade and fashion.

It has often been made a reproach that they have not been in closer
touch and association with the industries of the country, but schools
of art and technology cannot be turned into factories with the sole
object of supplying the immediate demands of ephemeral fashion--often
trivial and vulgar. This would only end in the raising of a crop
of narrow specialists, incapable of producing more than one sort of
thing, to be exploited by commerce, and unemployed when the boom was
over. The business of a school of art is to train capable designers
and craftsmen, competent both to practise and to teach. The progress,
both in taste and accomplishment, shown by the works exhibited every
year in the national competition under the auspices, first of the old
Science and Art Department and now of the Board of Education at South
Kensington, is most remarkable and striking, especially to one who can
look back twenty or thirty years. Yet we are still without a proper
building in which to show these works, which are generally housed in
temporary sheds in an out-of-the-way corner, and consequently attract
little public attention.

Turning now to the more theoretical side of art, and regarding its
general purport and social influence, it would appear as though
every age--one might almost say each generation--demanded a different
interpretation of life and nature, being inspired by different ideals;
for the forms of art depend upon the aims and ideals in the mind of
artists, who are but children of their age and reflect its thought and
sentiment. Pictorial art being the most popular because more intimate,
direct, and immediately concerned with the aspects of life, is perhaps
more sensitive to such changes of thought and sentiment than
other forms of art. This accounts in a great measure for the
constantly-shifting point of view of the painter in dealing with the
aspects of nature, for instance, if we compare the work of one age,
or one school with another, or examine the differences of treatment by
different individual artists.

Whereas religion, and the beauty and splendour of life have of old
largely inspired painters, nowadays it seems as if the interest was
centred upon the wonder and dramatic variety of the world, the aspects
of life in different countries, vivid and instantaneous presentment,
individual impressions, snap-shots of nature. No doubt the photograph
has had a great influence both upon painters and the public. The
public eye must be largely influenced by the photograph, but the
photograph in the hands of some of its professors has lately taken
to imitate the effects and methods of artists. So that it is turn and
turn about.

The object of painting however is not _illusion_, otherwise, in the
presence of the cinematograph and its marvellous living and moving
transcripts from nature, as presented in the fascinating picture
theatres, painting would have no chance, for even colour is sometimes
given.

But, however wonderful, it is scientific mechanism and not art. The
true province of painting is untouched, our national galleries have
not lost their attraction, and are not old masters more valuable than
ever? The very illusory powers of photography serve to define the true
sphere of art, which is a product of the human mind as well as of the
eye and hand.

There is another form of pictorial appeal which has, owing to the
association of art with commercial enterprise, attained such vast
proportions as to count as a popular education of the eye--for good or
for evil. I mean the pictorial poster, which might be said to be the
most original flourishing and vigorous type of popular art existing,
and the only popular form of mural painting. Its too frequent banality
and vulgarity are to be deplored, but to a great extent they are
inseparable from the conditions of the existence of the poster; but
undoubtedly there is a great amount of artistic ability employed in
these designs, which often show, too, the great resources of modern
colour-printing. It is part of the wastefulness of our system that
so much skill, talent, and labour should be spent on such ephemeral
purposes and placed in such incongruous positions and injurious
juxtapositions, often appearing in the mass as a sort of
sticking-plaster of varied colour upon the doleful face of a dingy
street. The same ability under different influences and inspired by
different ideals might serve to make eloquent the bare walls of our
schools and public buildings with painted histories and legends of our
country and race, which might foster the public spirit of our future
citizens. Every town should have its history painted in its Town
Hall--as Manchester has done in that wonderful series of mural
pictures by Madox Brown. There might be competitions in schemes of
decoration and mural design of this sort among the students of the
local art schools. Is this an ideal?

Well, after all, the great thing is to _have_ an ideal, an ideal, too,
may be of enormous practical value, for it is capable of inspiring men
to accomplish great works which they would never have touched without
such a stimulus. Every great work, every great achievement in art, in
social service--in all human effort, has been the result of an ideal
in the mind, a vision, a lamp, a torch that has lighted the path that
has enabled its bearer to clear away often apparently insuperable
difficulties and attain the goal.

Nor is the possession of an ideal less necessary to a people--the
nation collectively--than it is to the individual if real progress is
to be made. From ideals in art we are led to ideals in life and to
the greatest art of all--_The art of Life_. An ideal of national life
which would give purpose and impetus and unity to all social efforts
at amelioration, something beyond the strife of parties, personal
jealousies, and parliamentary man[oe]uvres. Such an ideal may be found
in that growing conception of the new age we are entering of _a true
co-operative commonwealth_, when the public good, being the main
motive, all things that add to the beauty, health, dignity, and
comfort of our cities, would be considered as of the first importance,
and when, while our ancient history and monuments should be preserved,
natural growth and expansion should not be impeded; a state wherein
every citizen, every man and woman would find a useful and congenial
sphere of work, and each and all would be prepared to do their part in
the service of the community, secure of a place at life's table, when
friendly emulation should take the place of cut-throat competition;
when every mother and every child would be cared for, and there would
be ample provision for old age. Labour being so organized that there
would be neither overwork nor unemployment, while there remained
abundant leisure for the cultivation of the arts and sciences and the
pleasures of life--poverty being unknown, and disease conquered by
knowledge and enforcement of the laws of health; death itself faced
with calmness or fearlessly met at need in the service or defence of
the community.



THE APOTHEOSIS OF "THE BUTTERFLY"



  [Illustration]



THE APOTHEOSIS OF "THE BUTTERFLY"[11]


The world, it has been said, takes a man at his own valuation, and,
certainly it seems to have accepted even Whistler, at last, at his own
by no means modest estimate, and in the commercial sense, indeed, to
have considerably exceeded it.

It is true that Whistler had, as an original artist, to pass through
the usual stages of neglect and contumely. It is only the common
experience of what is called genius, albeit varied and complicated in
his case by his combative and whimsical personality.

What a pity it is that there are no means of obtaining a just and
sober estimate of an artist's powers (as well as a sympathetic one)
except by the long wait necessary for the verdict of that Court of
Final Appeal--Time.

At present the system seems to be, in the case of any one who shows
individuality or independence in art, at first to ridicule, underrate,
or abuse. If the innovator survives this process--well, the impression
gains ground that there must be something in him, and, if he can only
struggle on long enough, and keep his head above water, the tide may
turn in his favour--even to such an extent, sometimes, as to carry
the genius on the top of it to quite the other extreme of laudatory
appreciation, which may land him eventually in almost as dangerous
a position, as regards his artistic safety, as that in which he was
first discovered.

Between the bitterness of his enemies and the extravagant eulogies of
his friends, it becomes almost as difficult for an artist to find his
real latitude and longitude as for a ship in a fog. Still more so for
other navigators on critical seas anxious to take his true bearings.

Well, "The Butterfly" is caught at last! We have him in Mr. and Mrs.
Pennell's two sumptuous volumes, pinned down, as it were, in a glass
case, his natural history fully accounted for, both as an artist and
as a man. We can study the Whistlerian genius in its various stages,
from caterpillar to chrysalis, up to when it flutters gaily over
everybody and everything in the garden of life--a butterfly with the
sting of a wasp!

  [Illustration: PORTRAIT STUDY OF WHISTLER BY HIMSELF.

  (From a black and white drawing.)]

The authors have indeed, in a literary sense, adopted the
pre-Raphaelite methods, to which in art they appear to be opposed, in
painting their literary portrait of the great Impressionist. No one
will doubt the patience, care, and zeal with which they have carried
out the work, or the devoted loyalty of spirit in which what was
evidently regarded as a sacred trust has been fulfilled; but in their
natural anxiety to give full relief to the portrait of their hero and
idol, the authors have not always been able to be fair to some of his
contemporaries or predecessors, or to other forms of art than those
which he practised, and they are apt to become a little extravagant in
their terms. To assert, for instance, that Whistler was "the greatest
artist and most remarkable personality of the nineteenth century" is
a little "tall"; but no doubt the authors did not wish, any more than
Mr. Wedmore, to "understate." The insertion of the little words
_one of_ in the above-quoted sentence would have been advisable,
considering the number of remarkable personalities and artists the
nineteenth century produced. This presentation of Whistler dominating
and overtopping everybody reminds one of the method of the mural
artists of ancient Egypt, who, in order to glorify their kings and
impress beholders with his powers, represented the monarch as a
gigantic figure clutching a handful of diminutive enemies trembling in
his grasp, while he flourishes his sword over their heads.

It is, perhaps, one of "life's little ironies" that Whistler, who
maintained in his "Ten o'clock" philosophy that the artist, like the
unexpected, always "happens," and who took a purely individualistic
view of artistic history should be at last fully accounted for on
evolutionary principles. It seems strange that he, who apparently held
that artists occurred accidentally here and there in the history of
the world--like very sparing currants in a suet pudding, the pudding,
or public, being always of the same materials, equally "stodgy,"
indifferent, or ignorant as to art--that Whistler, who might almost
be described as the artist of accident, should be portrayed in minute
detail under the glare of the limelight, and shown in relation to, and
accounted for by, his heredity and environment.

A member of a most respectable family (like "The Newcomes") hailing
originally from the Islanders he professed to hate, we may trace the
origins of his personal characteristics, the germs of his development
and the foundations of his art. His mastery in etching, for instance
(perhaps destined to be considered the strongest and most enduring
side of his art), had its roots in the technical experience and
training of the United States Coast Survey. It is to be regretted that
it was not found possible to include later illustrations of his etched
plates in the book, as, with the exception of the pastels and water
colours and the earlier pictures, the reproductions generally lose
much of the charm, with the colour, of the originals, and most of
their atmosphere.

Whistler in himself furnishes another illustration of the different
side of his nature an artist often presents in his serious work from
that usually perceived in him, by the world in general, as a man.
If nothing of his self-assertive, combative, caustic and whimsical
personality had been known, such traits could hardly have been
suspected in the possessor of the refined taste, the delicate justness
of tone, the somewhat austere and restrained decorative sense combined
with a certain poetic vagueness, which generally characterize his
works.

The work of Whistler at different periods of his life also illustrates
the curious fact that artists of the most pronounced individuality of
style and method often show how strongly they may become influenced by
the work of others.

What Whistler's art would have been had he never seen the work
of Courbet, of Velasquez, of Fantin, of Albert Moore, and of the
Japanese, who can say? The power of assimilation itself may be an
attribute of genius, and it is not so much what he may have absorbed,
or from what source he may have derived suggestions, as what use an
artist makes of his derivations that really matters.

The first time I saw Whistler's work was in the old rooms of the Royal
Academy when that Institution shared the Gallery in Trafalgar Square
with the National Collection, and the old masters and the moderns were
next-door neighbours.

There was a certain obscure den opening out of a passage between two
of the principal picture galleries, named the Octagon Room, almost as
dark as a cellar, but it was here that Whistler's early and wonderful
etchings of the Thames side first saw the light--such as it was! in
the sixties.

I well remember, too, his early pictures, which also first appeared in
the Royal Academy exhibitions in the Trafalgar Square rooms. The quiet
power, rich tone, and distinction of "At the Piano," in 1860; the
picture of a rocky seashore with a figure of a fisher-girl lying
on the sand ("The Coast of Brittany," 1862), "skyed," if I remember
rightly, which, Mr. Pennell says, "might have been signed by Courbet";
the lady in a Japanese robe painting a blue pot ("The Lange Leizen--of
the Six Marks," 1864); I recall the striking effect of these works
among the commonplaces of the usual mixed exhibition. They struck new
notes. I also remember the "Wapping," "The Thames in Ice," "The Music
Room," and "The Little White Girl," all of which were exhibited at the
Royal Academy in the early sixties. These impressed me more than any
other, or later, of Whistler's works. All the above-mentioned early
pictures are reproduced in Mr. and Mrs. Pennell's book, and, to
my mind, they still hold their place as the strongest and most
interesting of the works of the artist in painting.

  [Illustration:

    [_T. R. Annan and Sons, photo_

  "THE THAMES IN ICE."]

Later, too, visitors to the winter exhibitions of oil pictures at the
Dudley Gallery were surprised by certain "Nocturnes," visions of the
Thames in misty twilight with shadowy bridges and ghostly figures and
gliding barges, illuminated by twinkling golden lights; these were set
in moulded frames of unusual refinement, in green and other tones of
gold to suit the key of colour in the picture, and painted on the
flat with decorative patterns of a Japanese character in dull blue,
including a mysterious unit of pattern or mark, afterwards known as
"The Butterfly," and used as a signature upon all Whistler's works.

Then there was a "one man show" in a gallery in Pall Mall (No. 48),
opposite Marlborough House, in which "Old Battersea Bridge, Nocturne
in blue and gold" loomed large, I remember, and the town was surprised
by something fresh in the decorative arrangement of the exhibition,
yellow and gray predominating, if I remember rightly, relieved with
blue pots and palms. This is mentioned in the Life at p. 179. Then
came the famous "Peacock Room" in Prince's Gate, which chiefly
sustains Whistler's repute as what one may call a practical decorator.
It is to be deplored that the room itself was not more beautiful in
structure and arrangement, cut up as it was with fidgetty details,
with pendants from the ceiling and shelves for china. Still, of
course, the business of a decorator is to adapt his scheme to the
place decorated, and certainly this was done quite thoroughly
by Whistler, and the blue and gold scheme was worked out very
consistently and ingeniously upon the theme of the peacock.

It seems rather pitiful to read of the miserable squabbles over the
money, and the personalities and petty spite, however seasoned with
the wit of the artist, which seemed to raise a cloud of dust around
every transaction in which Whistler was concerned.

A little later, at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, he is in the
limelight again, and this time is fallen foul of by John Ruskin.

Much as one may owe to that great writer, and while, however biassed
or occasionally mistaken, the wholesome and ennobling influence of
his work on the whole must be acknowledged, there could be no
justification for his very injudicious and uncritical pronouncement
upon that nocturne of Whistler's, but it only meant that Ruskin, as
might be supposed, was utterly out of sympathy with that form of art,
and did not understand it.

Yet great as was the provocation, it would surely have been more
dignified for the artist attacked to have let the words recoil upon
the writer, and to have confidently awaited the verdict of time,
rather than to have dragged the matter into a law-court to be made
game of by counsel, judge, and jury, an utterly incompetent tribunal
to form any serious opinion upon a question of art.

  [Illustration: PANELS FROM THE PEACOCK ROOM.]

One feels, however, to a nature like Whistler's, the sort of
notoriety which such situations give to the principals had a distinct
attraction, added to the fighting instinct which possessed him.

From this time onward this attraction seems to have grown more and
more powerful and to have influenced the life and work of the artist
in anything but a fortunate way, and it becomes fatiguing to follow
the course of the continual brawls in which he was involved.

He was a conspicuous figure at the Grosvenor Gallery private views in
the early days, with his white lock and his long wand, but I never
got further than a slight acquaintance with him, personally, which may
have been as much my fault (or misfortune) as his.

When we come to his "Ten o'clock," in which Whistler gives us his
philosophy of art, we find his views, characteristically, intensely
individualistic. Period, traditions, gradual evolution in art and
artists, are nothing to him. It is always the "one man show," a
purely personal view of art, from the first etcher on a cave-bone to
Rembrandt. The artist is always an accident. His predecessors or his
contemporaries are nothing. Heredity and environment, economic and
social conditions, are of no account. Race or country don't matter.
The inspiration of symbol and story is ignored or despised as
"literary." The unifying and ennobling influence of architecture, the
co-operation of the crafts, the associated chain of human endeavour
and experiment in the arts, which link the ages together, and find
their highest expression in great public monuments, do not interest
him apparently. "Art happened." This is as much as to say one is
only concerned with the flower, and the roots, the soil from which
it springs or the evolution of the plant itself are matters of no
account! Thus the individualistic artist kicks away the ladder by
which he arrived and expects the stage to be cleared for him. Ah,
well, "Ten o'clock" suited the hour, the audience, and the man. It
would be too much to expect brilliant artists and witty inventors of
_bons mots_, or butterflies to be profound philosophers as well.

In many ways Whistler, though distinctly a decorative artist, was the
complete antithesis of William Morris. Mr. Pennell makes a true remark
in his book in speaking of Whistler's ideas in decoration when he says
(p. 221, vol. i): "Colour for him (Whistler), was as much decoration
as pattern was for William Morris." One would be inclined however to
qualify this by saying that Whistler's main principle in decoration,
in which he showed a fine taste, was by _tones_ of colour; especially
was he successful in the choice of pale delicate tones. Whistler
appeals to one as a great craftsman in _tone_, rather than as a
colourist.

As a painter his most distinctive and original works will always
be his "nocturnes," and, of his portraits (which, however, he often
treated as landscapes) his fame seems likely chiefly to rest upon
those of his Mother and Carlyle.

The picture of Whistler himself, of his character as a man, which this
book reveals--in spite of some relieving touches--is not an attractive
one.

One can only feel sorry that so genuine an artist was so consumed
by his own opinion of himself, and wasted so much time and energy in
litigation, and that he could stoop to be professor of "the gentle art
of making enemies" or glory in the distinction of being a past-master
in the craft of losing friends. Still, he fought the Philistines.

Mr. and Mrs. Pennell's book is admirably done and well illustrated,
and it appears moreover in a form--clad in an arrangement of brown,
yellow, and gold--such as might have been approved by its fastidious
subject.

The book is peppered with Whistler's smart repartees and sayings;
of the latter the following dictum strikes me as remarkably true and
sound:

"Poverty may induce industry, but it does not produce the fine flower
of painting. The test is not poverty, it's money. Give a painter money
and see what he will do: if he does not paint his work is well lost to
the world."


    [Footnote 11: "The Life of J. McNeill Whistler," by E. R.
    and J. Pennell, in two volumes, illustrated. London: William
    Heinemann, 1908.]



INDEX

    (Note: The Page number is the link to the reference.
    123^x indicates that the reference is only in the Footnote;
    123,^x indicates that the reference is also in the Footnote).


  Ancient Buildings, Society for the Protection of, 42, 43, 217.

  Animals, treatment of, in art, 185-204.

  Architecture, modern domestic, 48;
    arts allied to, 125-146;
    of the nineteenth century, 225-227.

  Art education, 56, 57, 107-110, 114, 115, 242-245, 250.

  Art, study and practice of, 105-122;
    of the nineteenth century, 223-237.

  "Art Nouveau, L'," 232.

  Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, the, 28, 67, 68, 70, 71, 95,
          96, 230, 248, 249.

  Art Workers' Guild, the, 59, 60, 70, 93.

  Assyrian art, animals in, 187, 188, 190.

  Athens, architecture of, 126.


  Ball, John, 41.

  Bates, Harry, 61, 228.

  Bell, R. Anning, 134.

  Bellamy, Edward, his "Looking Backward," 10, 11, 214.

  Benson, Frank, 236.

  Binyon, Laurence, 65.

  Birmingham, St. Philip's, 29.

  Blake, William, 228.

  Bokhara, embroidery from, 154, 155.

  Brangwyn, Frank, 92.

  Brown, Ford Madox, 17, 28, 92, 230, 253.

  Brown, Prof. Frederick, 92.

  Bullen, Wentworth, 25.

  Burges, William, 50, 51, 227.

  Burne-Jones, Sir Edward, 15, 25, 26, 28, 36, 37, 61, 230.

  Burne-Jones, Lady, 29.

  Butterfield, William, 227.


  Cambridge, Jesus College, 28.

  Canova, Antonio, 227.

  Carlisle, Earl of, 15.

  Carlyle, Thomas, 21, 40, 213.

  Cennini, Cennino, his "Trattato," 164-176.

  Century Guild, the, 67.

  Chinese art, 63, 65, 231.

  City and Guilds of London Institute, the, 67.

  Clausen, George, 69, 92.

  Clay, modelling in, 145.

  Cleveland, Ohio, mosaic floor for bank at, 132.

  Cobden-Sanderson, T. J., 28^2, 34.

  Coire, gesso work at, 164.

  Courbet, Gustave, 264, 265.

  Cowper, F. Cadogan, 78^4.

  Crane, Walter, his designs for "The Glittering Plain," 36;
    associated with the proposal for a National Exhibition of the
          Arts, 69;
    President of the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, 95;
    design in mosaic for a bank at Cleveland, 132.

  Cretan embroideries, 152, 153.


  Darius, frieze from palace of, 139.

  Day, Lewis F., 59.

  Dearle, H., 25.

  Drawing, study of, 242-245.

  Dress, modern, 212-214.

  Dressler, Conrad, 139.


  "Earthly Paradise, The," 7, 8, 16;
    projected illustrated edition, 37.

  Eastlake, C. L., his "Hints on Household Taste," 53.

  Edinburgh, Art Congress at (1889), 29, 74.

  Egyptian art, animals in, 185-188, 190;
    mummies, use of gesso on, 182.

  Embroidery, colour and its treatment, 149-159.

  Eve, G. W., 192.


  Flaxman, John, 227.

  Florence, Riccardi Chapel, 141.

  Forbes, Stanhope, 92.

  Ford, Onslow, 227.

  Furse, Charles, 92.


  Gainsborough, Thomas, 228.

  Gallia Placida, Mausoleum of, 133.

  Gesso work, early Italian, 136, 137, 141, 163-182.

  Gibson, John, 227.

  Gilbert, Alfred, 61.

  Giotto, 140.

  Glasgow School, the, 232.

  Glass, stained, 28, 29, 144.

  "Glittering Plain, The," 36.

  Gozzoli, Benozzo, 141.

  Greek art, animals in, 190-192.

  Grosvenor Gallery, the, 65, 71, 268, 270.

  Gwalior, stone carvings of animals at, 198, 200-203.


  Hammersmith Socialist Society, 27, 28,^2.

  "Hobby Horse, The," 67.

  Hogarth, William, 228.

  Hokusai, 63.

  Holiday, Mr. and Mrs. Henry, 134.

  Home Arts and Industries Association, the, 67.

  Hooper, W. H., 36.

  Horne, Herbert P., 67.

  Horniman Museum, mosaic design on the, 134.

  Houses of Parliament, frescoes in the, 78^4.

  Hughes, Arthur, 17.

  Hunt, Holman, 49, 69, 230.


  Indian art, animals in, 189, 190, 198, 200-203.

  Israels, Joseph, 91.


  Jackson, John, 108^5.

  Japanese art, influence of, 63-65, 231;
    treatment of animals in, 198, 199.


  Kelmscott House, 27, 28,^2.

  Kelmscott Press, the, 5, 29, 34-36.


  Landseer, Sir Edwin, 203.

  Lascelles, Frank, 236.

  La Thangue, H. H., 92.

  Leighton, Lord, 61.

  Leverett, Arthur, 36.

  Liebermann, Max, 91.

  Lindsay, Sir Coutts, 65.

  Liverpool, Art Congress at (1888), 73, 74.

  London, aspect of, 207-214;
    architecture of, 226.

  London County Council, its technical schools, 68, 69.


  Magnus, Sir Philip, 67.

  Magnússon, Professor, 16.

  Manchester, frescoes in the Town Hall, 253.

  Marlborough College Chapel, decoration of, 168.

  Merton Abbey, 25, 27, 28,^2.

  Meunier, Constantin, 91, 228.

  Michael Angelo, 141.

  Micklethwaite, J. T., 132.

  Millais, Sir J. E., 230.

  Millar, W., his "Plastering," 164.

  Millet, François, 91.

  Moody, T. W., 63, 138.

  Moore, Albert, 61, 264.

  More, Sir Thomas, 41.

  Morgan, William de, 55, 139.

  Morland, George, 228.

  Morris, Miss May, 36.

  Morris, William, 3-43, 51, 230, 271;
    his Socialism, 5, 7-14, 36-41;
    visit to Iceland, 16;
    and the artistic revival, 16-20, 54, 93-95, 232, 248;
    his birth and education, 21, 22;
    experiments in dyeing, 24;
    weaving, 24-26;
    painted glass, 28, 29;
    his MS. of Omar Khayyám, 29-33;
    the Kelmscott Press, 5, 29, 34-36;
    illustrations for "Cupid and Psyche," 37;
    founds the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings, 42;
    his appreciation of humour, 44,^3.

  Morris and Co., 15, 17, 27, 28, 54.

  Mosaic, marble, 129-132;
    glass, 132-134;
    pebble, 134, 135.

  Murray, Fairfax, 29, 36.

  Mycenae, Cyclopean gate of, 126, 190.


  National Association for the Advancement of Art, the, 29, 73, 74.

  National Exhibition of the Arts, proposed, 69.

  New English Art Club, the, 69.

  "News from Nowhere," 5, 10, 11.

  New York, improvement of, 211, 212.

  Nineveh, wall sculptures of, 126, 188.

  Northern Art Workers' Guild, the, 60.


  "Omar Khayyám," illuminated by Morris, 29-33.

  Oxford, Exeter College, 26;
    Christ Church, 28.


  Pageants, 236.

  Parthenon, the, 126.

  Peacock Room, the, 266.

  Pennell, Mr. and Mrs., their "Life of Whistler," 259-272,^11.

  Petrie, W. M. Flinders, 182.

  Philadelphia, art-teaching in, 107;
    mosaic altar-piece in, 134.

  Photography, influence of, 252.

  Pinturrichio, 141, 166.

  Pisa, Campo Santo, 141.

  Pistoia, 140.

  Plaster work, decorated, 135, 136.

  Poster, the modern, 111, 252, 253.

  Post-impressionists, the, 233.

  Pracatic (Bohemia), sgraffito designs at, 137, 138.

  Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the, 48, 230.

  Pugin, Augustus W. N., 50.


  Raphael, 136.

  Ravenna, mosaics at, 133.

  Repoussé work, 127-130.

  Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 228.

  Ricardo, Halsey, 89, 139.

  Richardson, H. H., 29.

  Richmond, Sir W. B., 134.

  Robbia ware, 140.

  Rodin, Auguste, 228.

  Rome, baths of Caracalla, 129-131;
    New American Church, 134;
    tombs in the Via Latina, 136, 163;
    Appartimenti Borgia, 141;
    Sistine Chapel, 141, 166, 168.

  Rossetti, D. G., 16, 28, 49, 230.

  Royal Academy, the, 60-62, 69, 70, 95, 249.

  Royal School of Art Needlework, the, 67.

  Ruskin, John, 5, 21, 50, 93, 268.


  St. Paul's, decoration of, 134.

  Sandys, Frederick, 230.

  Sarnath, sculptured lions found at, 189, 190.

  School of Art Woodcarving, the, 67.

  Sedding, J. D., 227.

  Sgraffito, 137, 138.

  Shaw, Henry, 50;
    his "Glazier's Book," 144,^8.

  Shaw, Norman, 51, 227.

  Sicilian silks, 194-197.

  Siena, frescoes in the town hall, 141.

  "Sigurd the Volsung," 7, 16.

  Smith, Catteson, 36.

  Socialism, Morris and, 5, 7-14, 37-42;
    its inspiration in art, 83-101.

  Society of Arts, the, 73, 74.

  Solomon's temple, 127.

  Stanhope, Spencer, 168.

  Stevens, Alfred, 63, 203, 204, 227, 248.

  Stokes, Mr. Adrian, 170.

  Street, George Edmund, 21.

  Sumner, Heywood, 138.

  Sykes, Godfrey, 63.


  Tadd, Liberty, 107,^5-109.

  Technical Schools, 68, 69, 114, 115.

  Thorvaldsen, Bertel, 227.

  Tiles, use of, as decoration, 138, 139.

  Town-planning Exhibition, the, 61.

  Tuke, H. S., 92.

  Turner, J. M. W., 229.


  Van der Meer, Jan, 139.


  Walker, Emery, 34.

  Watts, G. F., 61, 78^4.

  Webb, Philip, 15, 16, 17, 51, 227.

  Whistler, J. M., 64, 231;
    his "Life," 259,^11-272.

  Wolfe, Miss Catherine, 29.

  Wrought Iron Work, 144, 145.

[Illustration]



BOOKS FOR COLLECTORS

UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME

_Post 8vo, with numerous Illustrations_


HOW TO LOOK AT PICTURES. By R. C. WITT, M.A. Sixth Edition. With 40
Illustrations. 5_s._ net.

    "A better gift for people who are dimly 'fond of pictures,'
    but who regret that 'they know nothing about them,' could not
    be found."--_Spectator._

HOW TO UNDERSTAND SCULPTURE. A Handbook for the Amateur. By
MARGARET THOMAS. With 40 Full-page Illustrations, and Photogravure
Frontispiece. 6_s._ net.

HOW TO IDENTIFY PORTRAIT MINIATURES. By G. C. WILLIAMSON, LITT.D.
With Chapters on How to Paint Miniatures, by ALYN WILLIAMS, R.B.A.,
A.R.C.A. Third Edition. With 40 plates illustrating upwards of 70
miniatures. 6_s._ net.

    "Contains much valuable information for the collector of
    examples of this form of art. The book is finely illustrated,
    and is enriched with chapters explaining technicalities
    and describing the special qualifications of a miniature
    painter."--_Morning Post._

ART AND THE CAMERA. By ANTHONY GUEST. With 49 Illustrations. Post 8vo.
6_s._ net.

    "The book cannot be read without realization of the great
    possibilities of photography. It should be studied by amateurs
    and professionals alike."--_Evening Standard._

HOW TO IDENTIFY OLD CHINA. By MRS. WILLOUGHBY HODGSON. Eleventh
Thousand. With 40 plates and numerous reproductions of marks. 5_s._
net.

    "The information given is precisely what is needed, and is
    particularly well arranged, with a preliminary chapter of
    practical advice."--_Westminster Gazette._

HOW TO COLLECT CONTINENTAL CHINA. By C. H. WYLDE. With 40 plates and
upwards of 400 reproductions of marks. 6_s._ net.

HOW TO COLLECT OLD FURNITURE. By FREDERICK LITCHFIELD, Author of
"Illustrated History of Furniture," etc. Fourth Edition. With 40
plates and numerous illustrations in the text. 6_s._ net.

    "The book is, without question, the most interesting and
    informing guide that the modern passion for antique furniture
    has produced."--_Pall Mall Gazette._

HOW TO COLLECT BOOKS. By J. H. SLATER, Editor of "Book Prices
Current," etc. With numerous illustrations. 6_s._ net.

HOW TO COLLECT POSTAGE STAMPS. By BERTRAM T. K. SMITH. With 48 plates,
illustrating upwards of 750 specimens. 6_s._ net.

THE PRINT-COLLECTOR'S HANDBOOK. By ALFRED WHITMAN. Fifth and Cheaper
Edition, revised by MALCOLM C. SALAMON. Illustrated. 6_s._ net.


LONDON: G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.



Handbooks of the Great Masters

in

Painting and Sculpture

EDITED BY G. C. WILLIAMSON, LITT.D.

With 40 Illustrations and Photogravure Frontispiece

_Large Post 8vo. 3s. 6d. net each_


"The series is of high value and great promise, ... evidently being
carried out conscientiously, and without the sparing of pains or
labour."--_Magazine of Art._

"Dr. Williamson is editing the 'Great Masters' series with singular
success and good fortune."--_Academy._


_Volumes on the following Masters are now ready_:

  BOTTICELLI.
  BRUNELLESCHI.
  CORREGGIO.
  CARLO CRIVELLI.
  DELLA ROBBIA.
  DEL SARTO.
  DONATELLO.
  FRANCIA.
  GAUDENZIO FERRARI.
  GERARD DOU.
  GIORGIONE.
  GIOTTO.
  FRANS HALS.
  LEONARDO DA VINCI.
  LUINI.
  MANTEGNA.
  MEMLINC.
  MICHAEL ANGELO.
  PERUGINO (P. VANUCCI).
  PIERO DELLA FRANCESCA.
  PINTORICCHIO.
  RAPHAEL.
  REMBRANDT.
  RUBENS.
  SIGNORELLI.
  SODOMA.
  TINTORETTO (JACOPO ROBUSTI).
  VAN DYCK.
  VELASQUEZ.
  WATTEAU.
  WILKIE.

_A detailed and Illustrated Catalogue of the Series will be sent on
application._


  LONDON: G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.
  YORK HOUSE, PORTUGAL STREET, W.C.



Transcriber's Note:

    _ _ indicates italic text.

    = = indicates bold text.

    ^ indicates a superscript.

  Missing or damaged punctuation has been repaired.

  Both hyphenated and un-hyphenated variants of some words appear
  in this book. All have been retained. The author has used UK-English
  variants of some words (e.g. 'colour', etc., not 'color', etc.), and
  some older spellings.

  Illustrations that interrupt a paragraph have been moved to a more
  convenient position nearby, between paragraphs, and closer to their
  descriptive text.

  The text in the Omar Khayyám illustrations appears to be missing
  some end-punctuation, or it is partially hidden by the design. It
  seems to have been a hand-written copy, by the author (William
  Morris), of the Fitzgerald translation of Omar Khayyám. As it is
  hand-written, it has not been amended to the Fitzgerald translation.


  Page 25 and Index: 'Wentworth Buller' is mentioned on Page 25;
  'Bullen, Wentworth, 25.' is the entry in the Index.
  The transcriber cannot find which spelling is correct, so both have
  been retained.

  Page 54: 'Hebblewhite' corrected to 'Hepplewhite'.

   "... and Chippendale, Sheraton, and Hepplewhite...."

  Pages 59-60: 'In fact, since artists more or less concerned with
  decoration had increased, owing to the revived activity and demand
  arising for design of all kinds.' This sentence does not make sense.
  'since' may be extraneous.

  Page 72: 'For in spite the immense activity and industry, the
  independent artists in design and handicraft were but few,...'

  should probably read either:

   'For despite the immense activity and industry,...'

  or

   'For in spite of the immense activity and industry,...'

  OED gives: spite, n. & v.t. 1. ... (in) ~ of, notwithstanding.

  So 'in' may be optional, but 'of' seems to be needed. The transcriber
  has chosen to correct 'in spite' to 'in spite of'.

  In other places, the author has used brief notes rather than
  grammatically correct prose. These appear to have been hasty jottings,
  and have been retained.

  Page 75: 'fatigueing' corrected to 'fatiguing'.

    "We have no word-symbols for defining those delicate shades of
    difference so important to the artist, and to be perpetually
    qualifying is fatiguing."

  Page 78, Footnote 4: 'Cooper' corrected to 'Cowper'.
  (Reference: Wikipedia)

    "... by some of our ablest men of the younger school, such as
    Mr. Payne and Mr. Cadogan Cowper,...".
    The Index entry is correct.

  Page 174: 'droping' corrected to 'dropping'.

    "by the use of the brush in floating or dropping on the forms of
    the ornament."

  Page 241: 'intance' corrected to 'instance'.

    "... different points of view--for instance, (1) as an
    accessory...."





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "William Morris to Whistler - Papers and addresses on art and craft and the commonweal." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home