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be desired to obtain anything of the might become cultivated instead of vitifreshness, raciness, or natural irregular- ated, and some noble purpose of Art ity of a free and untrammelled artistic might be served. As it is, we are foodexpression, we are driven to imitate it by ed with slovenly workmanship, or with a a reflex process from the outside. As an shallow and easy facility which is still example of what we mean, we may in- worse, unrelieved by any touch of mea. stance the mode of producing and print- tal power or the slightest sense of spiriting modern etchings. The asperity and ual meaning. roughness of texture of the best speci-| Other bad influences also are at work: mens, which result spontaneously from the vast numbers of periodicals and the the vigour with which they have been ex- dissipations of ephemeral literature, which ecuted, and the simplicity of the means do not allow men's minds to settle long used in their production, is actually imi- on any one consideration, however imtated by artificial contrivances; this portant it may be ; the constant fow of shows the way in which our age gives fugitive ideas that submerges all things prominence to the mechanism of Art, in its course; an inconsiderate and suhow much we think of our material, and perficial haste, which prevents repose and how little of that which it ought to sub- permits nothing to be done with thorserve.
oughness, nor any man to be at ease or at The deterioration of Art among us is his best ; and perhaps above all, the inin some measure also due to the number ordinate love of wealth, to which is sacof drawings continually in preparation to rificed the fine solid qualities upon which be poured from the press in the shape of alone true reputation can be built. Most cuts for our periodicals, newspapers, and centuries have left us something in Art illustrated books. These are generally more or less worth keeping; what shall required to be done on the spur of the we leave behind us in any form of it moment, allowing no time for the com- which future generations will prize or pletion of a well-digested design, so that cherish ? Our public buildings, as a the artist, to assist the imagination, or rule, are but monuments of a national de. rather to find a substitute for it, is com- cay, as far as Art is concerned ; our pelled to summon the aid of models or paintings and innumerable illustrations sitters before he has the least notion of bear witness to, our incapacity for all what he wishes to say, and by their vari-elevated thought, and we shall be known ous arrangement and combination to to succeeding generations as belonging adapt himself to every occasion. Of to an age in which almost every spark of course, this is quite fatal to every valu- the epic and heroic had been quenched able quality in Art. Over and over again in the grave of a hopeless materialism. we see reproduced the same figures, the Combined with the causes above same dresses or costume, the same atti-stated, no doubt photography has been tudes, without a single fresh sentiment injurious to Art. Not that it ought to or any effort to reach one. What this have been so. Its sphere of usefulness endless reproduction and repetition of is so accurately defined, so clearly out of the same or similar elements is in the range of the artistic idea, that there tended to serve, it would be difficult to should be no confusion of the two, the say; for we never arrive at a new idea, one being a record of facts, the other a excepting, perhaps, occasionally in the registration of ideas. Nevertheless it direction of a line ; we never get a glimpse would seem as if many painters thought into the mind of the artist, who has be-| their artistic mission fulfilled in the atcome, indeed, a mere draughtsman or tempt to rival photography on its own drawing-machine; we never rise a hair's ground. breadth above his material ; he has noth-1° Added to the detrimental agencies aling to reveal, nothing to tell ; but only to ready set forth may be reckoned the degive us the endless repetition of inter-sire continually to furnish something minable pencil-strokes, which at last be- new; but always in material or manner, come a vexation to the eye, and a burden and never from the side of simple power to the printed page. If we had a tenth of conception. Generally this emulation part of this numerous progeny well con- shows itself in pure caprice, and in the ceived, thoroughly digested, and faith-tendency to work at once to death the fully wrought out, it would be infinitely slightest happy hint which may arise cheaper at the price paid for mere quan- from the prolific and too dexterous brushtity, and would give us more than ten work of the day. No sooner is some times the pleasure; the national taste novelty of knack or cleverness displayed, than, without regarding its eligibility or epic we mean the subservience of the otherwise, a hundred copyists are ready lesser fact to the larger truth, a recognito sacrifice their own individuality to its tion of the great principle that circumimitation, quite forgetful of the infinitely stances and things, when used for an arnobler examples always within their reach, tistic end, are in themselves only of value if they would only choose to study them. as ministering to the ultimate idea and Nothing indeed can exemplify the power purpose of the artist, and are not to be of whim so strongly as the walls of a dwelt on for their own sakes or for any modern exhibition of paintings ; there is manipulatory power or ability that may the white key, the yellow key, the black | be displayed in their representation. key; the dry manner, the glutinous manner, the hard manner, and the fuzzy man- In entering upon a critical inquiry into ner: no centrality anywhere, no concen- the condition of the English School of tration of force towards any one point, Painting, it would be but wholesale conby which alone supreme excellence can demnation and a waste of time to advance be achieved, no aim, in fact, at any spe- a standard to which the school does not ciality, but simply that each may excel even pretend to appeal, and which is forthe others in any possible variety of evil, eign to its main tendencies and aims. as if every one strove to outrival his We propose, then, first to examine some neighbour's faults.
of the more representative works of those Against our advocacy of the abstract painters of the school who stand most rather than the concrete in Art it might prominently before the public, or who, it be urged that mere local and literal re is supposed, may be likely to be influpresentation has its position and function | ential either in a right or a wrong direcin painting as well as the other. This tion; criticizing them from their own may be so; but in that case it lies quite standard and point of view, trying to out of the category of imaginative Art, place them with the utmost fairness in and therefore does not come within our their true light and position. We shall present scope. We also wish it to be endeavour to test them by no individual clearly understood that the observa- judgment, but by that which we believe tions we have made are not altogether would be represented by a jury of fairly unexceptional in their application, though educated art-critics, or, still better, by they are quite true of the English school the average high-toned artist with the of painting in the main. There are a few true instinct of his profession, without among us whose delicate discernment the trammels of egotism, interest, or perand whose right intentions only want the sonal feeling. After disposing of this support and accumulative impetus of a part of our inquiry, we will take up the school, to assume a high position in the question of school or kind, in order to art-history of their time. In fact, there | find out the relative position of the Engis no want of capability to do things good lish school; how far it submits to laws and great - in this respect, perhaps, our that evidently prescribed and formed the age is quite as generally gifted as any characteristics of all other worthy schools; other; but we require clear mental vis- how nearly it adheres to those tenets ion, that we may see what should be which have always been the ruling laws done, and disinterested energy of purpose of Art, or in what respects it may reject faithfully to do it. It is more in direc- or disregard them. In order to do this tion than in ability that we fail; all our the more effectually we will supplement best activities are lost in dispersed aims, our inquiry by comparing our school with meretricious motives, and want of a lead- another, which affords us the best criteing generalship of idea.
rion or test of excellence, showing in When we say the epic has gone from what that excellence consists, and the amongst us, we do not refer to the aca- means used to attain it. We will begin, demically stiff and spiritless groupings of therefore, with the period of our latest a West or a David, dignified in their art-revolution. time by the name of “High Art," and About half a lifetime ago a few young which chiefly consisted of an arrange- men set themselves to form a new theory ment of certain useless and unwearable of Art, or at least to revive one so old draperies on the loins and shoulders of that at that time it had all the force and lay-figures, or a more or less orderly dis- freshness of novelty. Pre-Raphaelism tribution of stage-dummies in masquerade was the first result of this endeavour, costume (a mode which is unfortunately though we are afraid it was but the repenot altogether yet extinct); but by the tition of the old fable of the Mountain
and the Mouse. This hideous worship of|tality is frozen in their harsh lineaments stocks and stones, we are thankful to say, and inartistic colouring. As a rule they has at last vanished in all but its conse- hold no key to sentiment, and stimulate quences and effects, which are serious no emotion. They are photographs of enough, and likely to remain so for some fact through a mind which communicates time to come. In common fairness, how- little or nothing to them; wonders of ever, we must allow that its results are not handling and technical skill, which stop to be wholly charged to the few over-en-there and never get beyond. thusiastic young men who started it. In its! The studies of Mr. J. F. Lewis may highest aspect it had a finer significance also be practically ranked in this class of than was ever popularly understood or Art, which, however valuable as tranappreciated, and to this its minuteness of scripts of Oriental scenery, life, and chardetail was but an accessory. It was one acter, with all their truth and faithfulness, of those egregious delusions which its cannot claim a high value from any other founders have long since had the good point of view. sense to abandon, but which, in the hands We believe that Mr. D. G. Rossetti was of the ever-ready and uninquiring follow- one of the principal originators, as he was ers of new forms and modes, became the the most intelligent exponent, of prevehicle and perpetuation of perhaps as Raphaelism. With him, however, it was much mistaken workmanship as the name realism no longer, and though it perhaps of Art can cover. Its ill-consequences retained a more archaic teatment and diswere deepened by the eloquent advocacy, tribution than was usual with other paintwe cannot fairly say exposition, of a vivid ers, it was never the slave of material, and powerful thinker, many of whose but appealed by mental images, rather most vehement opinions have since been than by the rigid imitation of facts. Full retracted or recalled. These opinions of dislocations and awkward crowdiness, had at that time a very large influence | it yet always held by the sounder theory, upon the young and unformed; and all which sought truth of mental impression the more because they were associated rather than the reality of substantial de. with so much doctrine that was sound, tail. Neither has the result of pre-Ranoble, and inspiriting. But though the ac-phaelism been so disastrous with Mr. tual substance of pre-Raphaelism is gone, Rossetti as with others of the school. In its shambling awkwardness, ugly purples, the later pictures we have seen of this flaring scarlets, raw blues, and glaring painter much of its unnatural mechanism greens, with the utter abnegation of tone has been abandoned, and a freer treatand aerial perspective, live like a night- ment introduced. Though disfigured to mare in the memory of us all. One of its some extent by the affectation of archaic most fervent disciples was Mr. Holman mannerism, and wanting in the freedom, Hunt, in whose works some of its worst air, and ease, of the noblest eras of Art, features still survive without the redeem- they are not to be classed with the works ing quality of that fine interior spiritu- of insincerity and thoughtlessness. They alism, which gave a certain reach of pow- are sometimes open to the censure which er to his serious and impressive “Light we have passed upon his poetry, and of the World," and to the solemn lesson there is an intellectual strain distinctly of the “Scape-goat.” In his “ Christ in perceptible in them; but the poetic the Temple” the realistic hardness and idea, rather than the mechanical execuwasteful labour of finish, resigning every tion, is the leading object of the work. appeal from the side of Art, address Work like this is the more valuable beprincipally the eye, and scarcely at all cause so little strenuous and noble work the mind, of the spectator. In Mr. is now attempted. Here, indeed, lies one Hunt's latest works that we have seen he of our special grievances. No one thinks keeps the same hardness of line and un- it worth while any longer to undertake a graceful finish, which seems to believe in serious or epic work requiring indefinite no answering faculty in the beholder, in devotion and thoughtfulness. Of the no responsive recognition of the broken paintings which appear on the walls of hint which the mind feels so deeply, but the Academy from year to year, there are which the hand despairs to reveal. When scarcely any that from the small amount we have looked at Mr. Hunt's pictures of intellectual labour they reveal might there is no more to be said about them. not be included in the category of what They convey nothing but what is seen artists call “pot-boilers." Generally, as with the eye; the soul and the imagina-| far as thought and subject go, they have tion are starved before them. Their vi- no more in them than might fitly serve to illustrate the "annuals." An artist now which are always made to tell in the same is not content to repay himself for effort way ; so that they resemble in some manof mind and stretch of capability by doing ner the symbols used in heraldry ; the a noble work which might raise the public subject being given, the old forms might mind to its own level, and last beyond his be distributed almost as well by descripown day. If he can paint pictures quick- tion as by the pencil. It is the sacrifice ly, and get large prices for them, he is and abandonment of every other good and quite contented. A figure or two, con- worthy thing to one, until that one beventionally posed, without any immediate comes fatiguing and tiresome from its too object or purpose, but with tolerably pret- persistent repetition. There is also anty faces for the women, is thought quite other fundamental mistake underlying sufficient to constitute an approved pic- this form of art. It is far too intense to ture ; and if the textures are well imitated, be largely loved and appreciated ; or, inthe flesh freely and dexterously handled, deed, to be good for us. Pictures should and the folds accurately disposed, no not require the utmost stretch of transmore is asked for or wanted. The ques-cendental emotion in order that we may tion of motive never arises, nor any appreciate them. One of the most predoubts as to intrinsic worth of subject. cious qualities, perhaps, that belongs to No painter, except he be very young, and Art is its capacity of bestowing repose. have what is called a “reputation” to To be roused to an excess of passion make, ever thinks of giving us his best ; without adequate reason, without being the and then his best must necessarily fall nobler or better for it, without even knowshort of excellence. No one asks wheth-ing precisely why one is roused, is not a er it is not as much worth while to live desirable thing; is, in fact, what we very for Art as by Art; or if, in the splendid naturally resent. We all know what it is function which is the heritage of the to be in the company of a nervous and painter there may not be attached to con- excitable person, whose fatiguing descientious labour and devotion of purpose mands on the sympathies are without any a greater and nobler reward than money corresponding object or satisfaction. It can buy or a temporary popularity have is the same thing with this class of Art. it in its power to bestow.
| It seizes upon you in whatever mood of In the school of what might be called mind, and insists that you shall become the esoteric painters, we may class the one with it: for unless the mind is worked works of Mr. Burne Jones. Some up in a greater or less degree into its own of them which we have seen (for Mr. dithyrambic condition, it is impossible to Jones, like the rest of his brotherhood, is receive the full influence of the burning a sparse exhibitor), though distinguished eyes, wild contortions, and evolutions of by a certain kind of artistic power, are the actors, in these highly-wrought sensaopen to the serious objection of an un- tional melodramas. It is a far more grahealthy morbidness of conception. They cious office to bestow repose on the mind, resemble the poems of Shelley in their than to disturb it with the aimless and intensity of emotion, and sometimes bor- objectless ebullitions of a false emotion. der on the vague and passionate frenzy Titian, in his sweet summer pastorals, of Blake. They have no pretensions to be and Giorgione, with his courtly compatranscripts from nature or the life, but are nies enjoying the delights of a "refined rather the embodiment of those twilight rusticity," Reynolds and Gainsborough, broodings which belong to the fluctuating and equable Thomas Stothard, with his region of dreams. They have occasion- pathetic touches, conceived a better misally elements of seriousness, and an ele- sion for their pencils. The greatest masvated sense of poetry in choice and dis-ters of emotion knew when to lay the tribution ; but qualities like these are lia- tragic pencil down, and give us tranquil ble to become a mere conventional man- glimpses of the world and life, and of nerism under a constant repetition of the those daily social and domestic joys with same class of subjects, always regarded which we all can sympathize. But the from the same point of view. Indeed, it spasmodic painters of our day know no is one of the main objections to this repose from the continual access of fire school that its adherents always choose added to fever, and delirium heaped upon the same unnatural form of face and ab- ' frenzy, with all the reckless abandonment normal type of feature, the same exagger- of a Cybelean novitiate. ated drawing, the same dislocated move- This class of works is typical of much ment of the figure, the same overstrained resulting from the present state of Art accessories and glimmering background, among us. True “Art” has almost
passed away; Painting, as we are told by scheme of the work." It is, in fact, the excellent authority, is now become a man- marvellous but natural result of the comufacture and a knack. It has its trades- bined efforts, with a single aim, of the men and its travellers. Show-rooms are employer and the painter, with no help opened, and the names of well-known possible from legal gambling or commerartists, advertised in local papers, draw cial jobbing. The result here is high er. the wealthy and half-educated parvenu to cellence, where now we have coniusion spend his “ thousand ” in some addled dire and every evil work. Greed, thea, work, that he is told is fine.and of distin- and “ speculation," do not bring good to guished origin. And thus, by easy trans- Art. Sandro knew nothing about these. fer, he becomes what he desires —"dis- He worked, and had his wages and the tinguished ” — as the owner of the cele careful constant sympathy of his employbrated masterpiece. Among the well er; and we know that sympathy, like informed, however, he is thenceforth love, works wonders. The charming conknown, not as the owner, but, conversely, sequence is seen in Botticelli's picture, as “belonging to the picture.
which alone is worth the thousand picPainting and picture-dealing are now tures that were shown last year on the “speculative" and a field for “ opera- same walls. tions ;” and names and works rise, fluc- This, then, is our moral : Let anyone tuate, and fall in market value without who would obtain a worthy work of Art, any just proportion to their merit or in order it of the painter, and, considing in trinsic worth. Patrons and collectors his honour, at whatever salary, engage are for the most part merely jobbers, or him by the day, and then confer with “invest” with a shrewd eye to future him in constant friendly counsel. The gain upon a rising market. To “accom- "patron” will soon find that his interest modate " these “patrons " and their pro- in the painting has become far greater tégés we see announced a “Fine Arts than the money value represents. His financial association," propounded by pleasure will not be in a mere purchased some “merchants " and a “ shipowner" possession, but in the memory of his cor“ to advance money to artists and others dial help in the production of the work. on works of Art, and” — naturally — “to The painter, too, receiving sympathetic effect the sale of the same, under condi- | aid and criticism from a friend whose tions mutually advantageous” — of course thoughts are hourly stirred by intercourse
-“ to the borrowers and the company." with men, will have his mind strengthHere is the “mont-de-piété" of Art. This ened and braced to work with constant is a private venture of the ordinary kind ; zeal and vigorous imagination. How but in its care for public morals the be- great a contrast this to the gregarious wildered Legislature made a delicate ex- studio conversation of our modern artists, ception“ in the interest of Art," and men whose individuality is nearly swampgambling, it was told, would “do much ed in cliques, whose thoughts are in-andgood," "promoting love of Art," as if in,” whose minds follow their fingers and mere greed had any love at all. For who are emphatically “led by the hand." many years we have not visited an exhi- whose works, by natural result, are small, bition of Art Union pictures, but the however broad may be the canvas. memory of these collections enables us We are within the walls of the Acadeto say that “Art” treats all its liberal my. Let us, in our cursory review, se“ patrons " with a strict impartiality, and lect the most successful of its members. that the gambling section seems to have Mr. Millais was a chief leader of the preno preference above the jobbers. Their Raphaelitic movement, and at one time exhibitions are as well supplied with was esteemed the Achilles of the school “speculative” trash as any we have lately He, more than the rest, has not merely reseen in Piccadilly or Trafalgar Square l axed its strictest tenets, but almost
These words remind us of a public abandoned them; and he now holds a obligation, and we would here record the position which it is hard to define in one expression of our thanks to the “ Acade- word, but which perhaps might be called my" for their annual show of paintings that of the leader of the exoteric school, by old masters. In this year's exhibition since it is altogether opposed in manner was a painting which we beg the studious and purpose to the one already described. reader to recall to mind. Sandro Botti- | Instead of attempting to reproduce men. celli's picture of the Assumption of the tal visions in forms merely indicative and Virgin was commissioned by Matteo Pal- more or less symbolic, Mr. Millais has a mieri, who, it is said, “gave the whole fact, or is supposed to have one, for