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distorting personality. To do them justice, direction that the artist's genius avails; his however, this submissiveness to the matter-of- skill in execution is secondary and incidental. fact, with the more gifted at least, is a virtue The measure of his ability is the depth to which that is praised and starves. They do it lip- he has penetrated the world of matter, not the service, and suppose themselves loyal; but number or the accuracy of his facts. Every when they come to paint, they are under a spell landscape wears many faces, as ipany as there that does not allow them to see in things only are men and different moods of the same man. material qualities, but, without any violence to To one the forest is so many cords of wood; to nature, raises it to another plane, where other another, an arboretum; to another, a workshop values and other connections prevail. Art, or a museum; to another, a poem. What each where it exists to any serious purpose, follows sees is there; the forest exists for beauty and nature, but not the natural-according to for firewood, and lends itself indifferently to Rapbael's maxim, that “the artist's aim is to
either use. make things not as Nature makes them, but as Nature wears this air of impartiality, because she intends them."
her figures are only zeros, deriving all their But these audacitics, though they make their significance from their position. We do not own excuse in the work itself, do not pass in a require a like impartiality in the artist, because statement without a cavil at the arrogance that what he is to give is not nature, but what would exalt the work of men's hands above the nature inspires. His endeavour to be imwork of God. Shall we strive with our pig- partial would result only in giving ue his ments to outshine the sun, or teach the secrets of opinions or the opinions of others, instead of form to the cunning Artificer by whom the the utterance of the oracle. For Nature hides world was made? What room for art, except her secret, not by silence, but in a Babel of sweet as the feeble reflex of the splendours of the voices, beard by each according to the fineness of actual world?
sense: by one as mere noise, by another as a The root of the difficulty lies in this slip- jangle of pleasing sounds, by the artist as harpery phrase, “nature." We talk of the "facts
mony. They are all of them Nature's voices; of Nature," meaning the existence now and he adds nothing and omits nothing, but hears here of the hills, sky, trees, &c., as if these with a pre-occupied attention, the justification were fixed quantities, as if a house or a tree being that his hearing is thus most complete, as must be the same at all times and to everybody. one who understands a language seizes the But in a child's drawing we see that these sense of words rapidly spoken better than he things are not the same to us and to him. He who from less acquaintance with it strives to is careful to give the doors and windows, the follow all the sounds. chimneys with their smoke, the lines of the This deeper interest has its root in nothing fence, and the walk in front; he insists on the arbitrary or personal to the artist. It is not divisions of the bricks and the window-panes : inventing something finer than nature, but seebut for what is characteristic and essential he ing more truly wbat Nature shows, that makes has no eye. He gives what the house is to him, the artistic faculty. This is the lesson taught by merely a house in general, any house. It would the history of art. Take it up where you will, not help it, but only make the defect more pro- this history is nothing but the successive unminent, to straighten and complete the lines. folding of a truer conception of nature, only An artist with fewer and more careless lines speaking here the language of form and colour, would give more of what we see in it; and if instead of words. It is this that lies at the he be a man of high power, he may teach us in bottom of all its revolutions, and appears in its turn the limitation of our seeing, by showing downfall as well as in its prosperity. that the vague, half-defined sentiment that at- Where the human form is the theme, the aim taches to it has also a visible expression, if we must of course be to give its typical perfection. knew where to look for it.
The sculptor does not reproduce the peculiariWe hear people say they know nothing of ties of his model, but aims to give ideal form art, but that they can judge as well as anybody as the most natural form of man. whether a picture is like nature or not. No But in painting, and especially in landscape, doubt Giotto's contemporaries thought so too, it seems less easy to fix upon any ideal, not and they were grown men, with senses as good from the multifariousness of the details, but as ours; but we smile when Boccaccio says, above all from the elusiveness of the stand“There was nothing in nature that Giotto could ard. We might agree upon an ideal of hunot depict, whether with the pencil, the pen, or man beauty, but hardly upon the ideal of any. the brush-so like that it seemed not merely thing else. The sophist in the Hippios Major like, but the thing itself.” We smile superior, was prepared to define the beauty of a maiden, but Giotto had as keen an eye and as ready a or of a mare; but he was confounded when it hand as any man since. The lesson is, that we, was required that the beauty of a pipkin too, have not come to the end of even the most should be deducible from the same principle, familiar objects, but that to another age our view and yet worse when it was shown to involve of them may seem as queer as his seems to us. that a wooden spoon was more beautiful than a For the facts in nature are not fixed but tran- gold one. scendental quantities, and their value depends What you see in the woods and mountains on the use that is made of them. It is in this depends on what you go for and what you carry
with you. We may go to them as to a quarry In modern sculpture this deification of the or a wood-pile, or for pleasantness--the cool human form is either expressly banished from spring and the plane-tree shade, as the ancients the artist's aim, or at least he is not quite in did-or to see dine trees, waterfalls, mountains. earnest with it. For instance, in Mr. Palmer's To many persons the beauty of any scene is White Slave, the sculptor's account of his measured by its abundance in such specimens work is, that it pourtrays an American girl, of streams, mountains, waterfalls, &c. Of captured by Indians and bound to a tree. We course the connection is demonstrable enough : have to take with us the history and the circumone collocation of features is more readily sug- stances : a Christian woman, of the nineteenth gestive of beauty than another. We expect to century, dragged from her civilized home, and find the scenery of a bill-country more attrac- helpless in the hands of savages. This is not tive than a sand-desert. But, comparing a at all incidental to the work, but the landscape with a statue, or even painting gene- work is incidental to it. It is a story which the rally with sculpture, the connection between a figure helps to tell. This is no universal type happy effect and any definite arrangement of of womanhood, nor even American womanhood, lines is much looser, and depends on the com American women do not stand naked in the bination rather than the ingredients. It is in streets, but go about clothed and active on their every one's experience that an accidental light, errands of duty and pleasure; if we must needs or even an accidental susceptibility, will impart represent one naked, we must invent some such to the meagerest landscape-a bare marsh, a accident, some extraordinary dislocation of all scraggy hill pasture-a charm of which the usual relations and circumstances. In place of separate features or the whole, at another the antique harmony of character and situation, time, give no hint. Often mere bareness, open we have here a painful incongruity that no study Dess, absence of objects, will arouse a deeper or skill can obviate. feeling than the most famous scenes. We learn Nor has modern sculpture any better sucfrom such experiences that the difference be- cess, when, instead of the pretence of history, it tween one patch of earth and another is vvholly adopts the pretence of personification. superficial, and indicates not so much anything highest result in this direction is, perhaps, in it as a greater or less dulness in us. Mr. Thorwaldsen's bas-relief of Night, a pretty parRuskin tells us that Turner did not paint the lour ornament. There is a fatal sense of unbigh Alps, nor the cumulus, the grandest form reality about works of this kind that even Thor. of cloud. Calarne gives us the nooks and lanes, waldsen's genius was unable to remove. They the rocks and hills of Switzerland, rather than are toys, and it seems rather flat to have toys the high peaks ; Lambinet, an apple-orchard, a so cumbrous and so costly, row of pollard-elms, or a weedy pond-not The reason of this insipidity is, that the cataracts or forests. This is not affectation or ideality aimed at is all on the outside. There timidity, but an instinct that the famous scenes is no soul in these bodies, but only an abstracare no breaks in the order of nature-that what tion; and so the body remains an abstraction is seen in them is visible elsewhere as well, only too. In each case the radical defect is the not so obvious, and that the office of Art is not saine, namely, that the interest is external to to parrot what is already distinct, but to reveal it the form ; they do not coalesce, but are only where it is obscure. This makes the inspira- arbitrarily connected. We cannot have these tion of the artist; this is the source of all his ideal forms, because we do not believe in them. power, and alone distinguishes him from the Such was the fascination of beauty to the topographer and view-maker,
Greek mind, that it banished all other considThis transcendentalism is more evident in erations. What mattered it to Praxiteles painting, as the later and more developed form; whether his Satyr was a useful member of but it is common to all art, and may be read society or not, or whether the young Apollo also in the Greek sculptures. Not the images stood thus idle and listless for an instant or for of their deities alone, but all their statues were a millennium, as long as he was so beautiful ? gods. The charm of the Lizard-Slayer of And the charm so penetrated their works that Praxiteles, or of those immortal riders that something of it reaches down even to us, and swept along the friezes of the Parthenon, is holds us as long as we look upon them. But something quite distinct from the beauty of a as soon as we quit the magic circle, the illusion naked boy playing with an arrow, or a troop of vanishes - Apollo is a handsome vagabond whom Athenian citizens on horseback. These are the we incline to send about his business. He deathless forms of the happy Olympians, bigh ought to be slaying Pythons and drying up above the cares and turmoil of the finite, self- swamps, instead of loiteriog here. ceatred, and independent. It is the Paradise We do not believe in gods, nor quite as the age of the world, before the knowledge of good ancients did in heroes, but in representative and evil, before sin and death came; the worship men—that is, in ideas, and in men as representof the Visible, when God saw everything that ing them. Wellington is not to us what Achilles he had made, and, behold, it was very good. or Agamemnon was to the Greeks. The form Hence the air of repose, of eternal duration, that of Achilles would do as well for a god; the mark these figures. They have nothing to re- antiquaries do not know whether the Ludovisi gret or to hope, no past or future, but only a Mars was not an Achilles, perhaps nobody ever timeless existence,
knew. But in all our admiration of Wellington,
it is not his person we revere, but his military | 80, with all his efforts, he gives us only the genius-precisely the impersonal part of him, outside. Is it asked, whence this divorce of or his person only from association. But if we flesh and spirit? why not give both at once as isolate this by making a statue of him, we have Nature does? Then we must do as Nature only an apotheosis of cocked-hat and small. does, and make our forms as fluid as hers. clothes, in which we see what it really was to But this the sculptor contravenes at the outset. us. This awkward prominence of the costume Haydon was delighted to find reproduced in does not come from the accident of modern the Elgin marbles certain obscure and seeming dress, but from our unconscious repugnance insignificant details of the anatomy that later to petrifying the man in one of his aspects. It schools had overlooked, such as a fold of skin is a touch of grave humour in the genius of under the armpit of the Neptune, etc. But any Art, thus to give us just what we ask for, beginner at a life-school could have pointed out though not what we want.
in the same statue endless deficiencies in anaThe Greeks could have portrait-statues, be- tomical detail. The fold was put in, not because cause all they looked for in the man they saw it was there, but because to the mind of the in his form, and, seeing it, could portray it. Greek artist it meant something. Sculptors of What they saw is there; it is a reality both the present day comfort themselves with the for them and for us; but the literal identifica- belief that their works are more complete and tion of it with the form belongs to them, not to more accurate in the anatomy than the antique. us, and our mimicry of it can result only in these Very likely, for the ancients did not dissect. abstractions. For us it is elsewhere, beyond But this accuracy, if it is founded on no interest these finite shapes, on which, by an illusion, it beyond accuracy, is after all an impertinence. seemed to rest. The Greek statues are tropes, The Greek ideal is founded on the exclusion which we gladly allow in their original use, but, of accident. It is a declaration that the casual repeated, they become flat and pedantic. shape is not the true form; it is only a step Hence the air of caricature in modern portrait- farther to the perception that all shape is casual, statues; for caricature does not necessarily the reality seen, not in it, but through it. imply falsification, but only that what is given Henceforth, suggestion only is aimed at, not is insisted on at the expense of more important representation ; the coöperation of the spectator truth.
is relied upon as the indispensable complement To the view of the early Christian ages, too, of the design. The Zeus of Phidias seemed to the body is old clothes, ready to be cast off at the Greeks, Plotinus says, Zeus bimself-as he any moment, good only as means to something would be, if he chose to appear to human eyes. higher. It might seem that Christianity should But a Crucifixion is of itself not at all what the give a higher value to the body, since it was be- artist meant. It is not the agony of the flesh, lieved to have been inhabited by God himself. but the triumph of the spirit, that is intended But the passion was a fact of equal importance to be portrayed. with the Incarnation. This honour could be Christian art, after mere tradition had died allowed to matter only for an instant, and on out-for instance, in the Byzantine and early the condition of immediate resumption. That Italian pictures from the eighth to the middle the Highest should suffer death as a man might of the thirteenth century-presents the strongest well seem to the Greeks foolishness. To the contrast to all that had gone before. The mounderstanding it is the utmost conceivable con- rose and lifeless monotony or barbarous rudetradiction. Yet it is only a more complete ness of these figures seems like contempt not statement of what is involved in the Greek only of beauty, but of all natural expression. worship of beauty. The complete incarnation They are meaningless of themselves, and quite of Spirit, which is the definition of beauty, de- indifferent to the character they represent, which mands equally that there be no point it does is appended to them by inscriptions, their rela. not inhabit, and none in which it abides. The tive importance, even, indicated only by size, transience of things is no defect in them, but more or less splendour of costume, etc., but the only the affirmation of their reality through the faces all alike, and no attempt made to adapt incessant casting off of its inadequate manifesta- the action to the occasion. It is another world tions. It is not from the excellence, but from they belong to; the present they pointedly rethe impotence of its nature, that the stone nounce and disdain, condescending to communi. endures and does not pass away as the plant cate with it only indirectly and by signs. and the animal. The higher the organization, The main peculiarities were common to paintthe more rapid and thorough the circulation. ing and sculpture, though most noticeable in
The same truth holds in art also, and drives painting. An interest in the actual world seems it to forsake these beautiful petrifactions and never so far lost sight of, and earlier revived, seek an expression less bound to the material. in sculpture. Even down to the spring-tide The Greek ideal is after all a thing, and its of modern art in the thirteenth century, the impassive perfection a stony death.
pleasant days” when Guido of Siena was paint1 he justification is, that the sculptor did not ing his Madonna, the improvement in painting say quite what he meant. He said flesh, but he was rather & stirring within the cerements of meant spirit, and this is what the Greek statues conventional types, a flush on the cheek of the mean to us. The modern sculptor does not still rigid form; while in the bas-reliefs of the mean spirit, and knows that he does not; and Pisan sculptors we meet already a realism as
much in excess of the antique as the Byzantine preference of certain forms abitrary, but it fol. fell short of it.
lowed the plain indications written on every It is commonly said that Nicola Pisano re- particle of matter. What we call brute matter vived art through study of the antique ; his is whatever it means only, not showing any models, even, are pointed out, particularly a individuality, or end within itself. sarcophagus, said to have been brought to higher completeness, which is beauty, whether Pisa in the eleventh century from Greece, But it happen to exist or not, is never the immediate this sarcophagus, wherever it came from, is not aim of nature. It is everywhere implied, but Greek, but late Roman work; and we find in nowhere expressed; for nature is unwearied in Nicola no mark of direct Greek influence, but producing, but negligent of the product. As only of the late Roman and early Christian soon as the end seems anywhere about to be sarcophagus-sculptures. In the reliefs upon attained, it is straightway made means again to his celebrated pulpit at Pisa we have the same something else, and so on forever. The earth short-legged, large-headed, indigenous Italian and the air hasten to convert themselves into a or Roman figures, and the same arrangement of plant, the flower into fruit, the fruit into flesh, hair, draperies, etc., as on those sarcophagi. and the animal at last to die and give back Taken by themselves, his works would, no again to the air and the earth what they have doubt, indicate a new direction. But by the transmitted to him. Whatever beauty a thing side of his son Giovanni, or the sculptors of the has is by the way, not as the end for which it Northern Cathedrals, he seems to belong to exists, and so it is left to be baffled and soiled the third century rather than to the thirteenth. by accident. This is the "jealousy of the
In Giovanni Pisano the new era was distinctly gods," that could not endure that anything announced. The Inferno, usually ascribed to should exist without some flaw of imperfection him, among the reliefs on the front of Orvieto to confess its mortal birth. Cathedral, and in his noble pulpit at Pistoia, The world is full
of beauty, but shows the traces of the antique only in unimpor- as it were hinted, as in the tendency tant details, ornamentation, etc. The antique to
make the most conspicuous things served him, no doubt, as a hint to independent the most beautiful, as flowers, fruits, birds, study, but the whole intent is different, all the the insects of the sunshine, the fishes of the beauties and all the defects arrived at by a differ surface, the upper side of the leaf; and perhaps ent road. In place of the impassive Minos of more distinctly in accordance with Lord Bacon's the Shades, we have a fiend serpent-girt, his suggestion that “Nature is rather busy not judicial impartiality enforced apparently against to err, than labour to produce excellency") in his will by manacles and anklets of knotted the tendency to hide those that are ugly, as snakes; and throughout, instead of the calm toads, owls, bats, worms, insects that fee the impersonality of the Greek, dealing out the light, the fishes of the bottom, the intestines of typical forms of things like a law of nature, we animals. But these are hints only, and Nature, have the restless, intense, partisan, modern as Mr. Ruskin confesses, will sometimes introman, not wanting in tenderness, but full of a duce "not ugliness only, but ugliness in the noble scorn at the unworthiness of the world, wrong place." Were beauty the aim, it should and grasping at a reality beyond it. He is be most evident in her chief products; whereas, intent, first of all and at all risks, upon vivid it is in things transient, minute, subordinateexpression, upon telling the story, and speedily flowers, snow-flakes, the microscopic details of outruns the possibilities of his material. He structure-that it meets us most invariably, must make his creatures alive to the last super- rather than in the higher animals or in man. ficies; and as he cannot give them motion, he Nor in man does it keep pace with his civilizaputs an emphasis upon all their bones, sinews, tion, but obeys laws that belong to the lower veins, and wrinkles : every feather is carved, regions of his nature. and even the fishes under the water show their The Greek ideal is an endeavour to ignore scales. That mere literalness is not the aim is the imperfections of natural existence. The shown by the open disregard of it elsewhere; ideal life is to be rich, strong, powerful, eloquent, for instance, the size of each figure is deter high-born, famous. It was a glorification of the mined, not by natural rules, but by their relative earthly, not by transcending, but by keeping its importance, so that in the Nativity, Mary is limitations out of sight. But this is only twice as large as Joseph, and three times as making the limitation essential and irrevocable, large as the attendants. And the detail is not so that it infects the ideal also, which in this everywhere equally minute, but follows the in- very avoidance submits to recognize it. The tensity of the theme, reaching its height in the statue is not less, but more, a thing than the lower compartment, where the damned are in natural body. Life is not mere exclusion of desuffering, and especially in the figures of the cay, but organization of it, so that the fury of fiends. This is no aim at literalness, but a corruption passes into fresh vital power. But struggle for an emphasis beyond the reach of sculpture supposes the current checked, and one sculpture.
aspect fit to stand for all the rest. The statue Ideal form was to the Greeks the highest is not only a particle, but an isolated particle, result, the success of the universe. The end and must first of all divert attention from its of art was conceived as nature's end as well, fragmentariness. whether actually attained or not. Nor was this The statue may embody an infinite meaning ;
but to the artist form and meaning are one. It | cathedrals (Didron counts eighteen hun. is not a sentiment that he puts into this shape, dred upon the outside of Chartres — nine but it is the shape itself that inspires him. The thousand in all, carved or painted, inside and symbolism of Greek Art was the discovery of a outside) each has its appointed place in the sacred later age. We know what is meant by Circe epos in stone, that unfolds about the building and Athene, but Homer did not. It was thus from left to right of the beholder the history of only that the Greek mind could grasp ideas the world, from the Creation to the Judgment, this is the thoroughly artistic character of that and subordinated in parallel symbolism the people. Their philosophers were always out- daily life of the community, whatever occupied laws. What excited the rage of the Athenians and interested men-their virtues and vices, against Socrates was his endeavour tu detach trades and recreations, the seasons and the religion from the images of the gods. When elements, jokes, even and sharp hits at the it comes to comparisons between meaning and great, and at the clergy, scenes from popular expression, as adequate or inadequate, it is evi- romances, and the radicalism of Reynard the dent their unity is gone; the meaning is first, Fox-in short, all that touched the mind of the and the expression only adjunct or illustration. age, an impartial reflex of the great drama of It did not impair the sacredness of the Greek life, wherein all exists alike to the glory of God. deities that they were the work of the poets and It is not the glory of earth that is here celeksculptors. But the second Nicene Council for- brated. M. Didron says the statues which the bade as impious any images of Christ as God, mob pulled down from the churches, at the first and allowed only his human nature to be repre- French Revolution, as the images of their kings, sented a strange decree, if the Church had were the kings and heroes of the Old Testament. realized its own doctrine, that the humanity of Had they known this, it might not have saved Christ is as real as his divinity. But the mean- the statues, but it shows how wide a gulf sepaing is, that the finite is not there to stand for rated these men from their fathers, that their the infinite, but only to indicate it negatively hands were not held by some instinct that here and indirectly—that its glory is not to persist was the first hint of the fundamental idea of in its finiteness, not to hold on to its form, but democracy--the sovereign importance of man, to be transformed. The figure of Thersites not as powerful, wise, beautiful, not in virtue of would be very unsuitable for Achilles, but is any chance advantage of birth, but in virtue of buitable enough for a saint; it was a pardonable his religious nature, of the infinite possibilities exaggeration to make it even more suitable. he infolds.
The hero is now the saint; the ideal-life a life The need to indicate that the source of value of poverty, humility, weakness, labour-to be is not the accident of nature, but nature relong-suffering, to despise and forsake the world. deemed, regenerated by spirit, that all values The present life, the heaven of Achilles, is now are moral values, led to a certain abstractness Hades, the forced abode of phantoms having no of treatment-on one side qualities to be émreality but what is given to them by religion, bodied, on the other figures to receive them, and the Hades of the Greek the only true and so that the character seems adventitious, desubstantial world. The new church fled the tachable, not thoroughly at one with the form. For light of the sun, and sought impatiently to instance, the fiends in the Orvieto Inferno are bury itself in the tomb. The Roman catacombs not terror embodied, as the Jove of Phidias emwere not the mere refuge of a persecuted sect, bodied dignity and command; but the terrific their use as places of worship continued long is accumulated on the outside of them, as tusks, after such need had ceased. But “among the claws, &c. One can easily believe that the graves” they found the point nearest to the ancient sculptors, had it been lawful, could have happy land beyond; and the silence and the put more horror into the calm features of a darkness made it easier to ignore for the few Medusa than it contained in all this apparatus miserable moments that yet remained the vain and grimace. The concreteness of the antique, tumult of the surface. In such a mood the the form and meaning existing only for each beauty of the outward could awaken no delight, other, is gone; the union is occasional only, but only suspicion and aversion. Not the earth and needs to be certified and kept up afresh on and its glories, but the fading of these before every new occasion. The form must assert the unseen and eternal, was the only possible itself
, must sbow itself alive and quick, not the inspiration of Art. The extreme of this direc- dead sign of a meaning that has filed. It would tion we see in the iconoclasm of the eight cen- have been a poor compliment to a Greek sculptury, but it has never completely died out. tor to say that his work was life-like; he might Gibbon tells us of a Greek priest who refused answer, with the classically disposed visitor of to receive some pictures that Titian had painted the Elgin marbles in Haydon's anecdote, “Like for him, because they were too real : “ Your life! Well, what of that? He meant it for scandalous figures,” said he, "stand quite out something much better.” But during the midfrom the canvas; they are as bad as a group dle ages this is constantly the highest encomium. of statues.” It is a tenderness towards the Amid the utmost rudeness of conception and of idea, lest it should be dishonoured by execution, we see the first trace of awakening actuality.
art in the unmistakable effort to indicate that of the hundreds of statues and re- the figures are alive ; and in the cathedral. liefs that surround the great northern sculpture of the best time this is still a leading