« VorigeDoorgaan »
One reason for the present unimagina-ers which is worth noticing. It is that of tive want of largeness in English painting removing their figures or groups wholly is undoubtedly the confusion of Art and from the background: not bestoving the Nature. The Art which influences men's light or shadow partly on the background minds the most permanently and in the and partly on the figure, but making the largest degree is not even an attempted one altogether lighter or darker than the reproduction of nature as it really ap- other. This, of course, is by no means a pears. The “ Transfiguration" of Ra-rule : but where it is used, it constitutes phael has no pretensions to literal truth- a great element of force and power. It is fulness of treatment in any part of it. perhaps, however, more generally the Form and figure and fold express all that case in regard to the distinctive separahe wanted them to express, and nothing tion of colour than light. would have been gained by a closer fol- One of the most marvellous instances lowing of nature and the life. It is not of power in order and mastery of breadth possible that one of the celebrated car- is the large picture of “ Paradise by toons or Vatican frescoes could enter into Tintoretto in the Ducal Palace at Venice. the registry of fact; some of the figures It is said to be the largest picture in these works are even conventional ever painted upon canvas, and contains types adopted from previous painters. an innumerable number of faces and ng. Many of the most renowned pictures rep- ures. Under any other treatment than resent several stages of the same dra- that of one of these giants in Art such a matic action. So little was actual repro- picture must have been more or less in duction or even verisimilitude aimed at by confusion : but it is not so here. Each the greatest painters that those who of these sweet and heavenly faces is an stand highest in the best schools never individual, and yet the picture is made scrupled to place names and inscriptions up of masses - is, indeed, simply conwith the utmost ingenuousness on their structed, considering the nature of the works : and in this they were quite right; representation. It is painted in planes, for they knew and felt that their Art was | There is a rich, dark, warm plane; there altogether something else than a poor is a light and glowing one; there is a soft, apology for nature, and thus they threw it tender, pearly-grey one : all separated wholly on its own basis and bearing by from each other, all harmonized with each getting rid of the notion that it was ever other, all contributing to make a picture their intention or desire to approach the as individual in its parts as it is grand in actual in any degree whatsoever. A its entirety; a world brought by the Hamlet, a Sylvia, or a Desdemona, never painter's magic power into the compass existed in real life as Shakespeare has of a canvas : one broad glance will see it portrayed them. We never see people as a picture ; days of study will not exact, or hear them speak, precisely as they haust its almost ungraspable wealth of act and speak. Their prototypes, it is material. true, are found among us, but, we repeat, It has been said that the Venetian in no one particular are the characters of painters seldom disturbed their breadth Shakespeare, or those of any true artist, of appeal by tints or tones other than mere draughts of those they have seen local, or such as are produced by large around them. This holds good from conditions of circumstance : but this, it Æschylus to Michel Angelo, and from should be remarked, is not invariably the Michel Angelo to Walter Scott. Titian's case. Sometimes in the draperies of tree is a painter's, not a naturalist's Paul Veronese and Tintoretto we find tree. It is an organism, but an organ- varying elements introduced to a certain ism of his own mind, not of nature. extent. This, however, does not invaliEven on his faces he has bestowed date the rule. They did it subject to the as much as he found in them. Nature dominant idea of this law of breadth, and must be the artist's servant, not his for that reason these variations did not master: his language and expressional disturb their pictures nearly so much as medium, not the ruler and usurper of his would be the case in a modern picture ideas ; and if she must be reproduced at painted from no such centrality of princiall, she must be translated through Art, ple. It ought to be observed that in their not inimicked by artifice.
very finest works these freedoms are To return to the subject immediately never introduced. If we compare the under consideration, there is another “ Adoration of the Magi” of Paul Ves means of gaining impressiveness some- ronese in our National Gallery with its times made use of by the Venetian paint-'(for him) unusual number of scattered
lights, with the broader and grander but very rich pinky grey. It has then re“Family of Darius before Alexander," ceived a first painting in parts, the halfwe see how much majesty and power is tones being got from the ground, which gained by their absence. The four mas- has been thinly painted or scumbled terpieces of Tintoretto in the Guard over ; or, in some parts, scarcely toucheci Room of the Ducal Palace at Venice, at all. If he had finished the picture, “ Bacchus and Ariadne," the “ Three judging from precedent, he never would Graces," and their companion pictures, have lost these. In the “ Three Ages,” are characterized by the most perfect re- in the Doria Palace in Rome, he has pose in this respect; as are also the fine made large uses of his ground. The “ Europa ” of Paul Veronese, and almost piece of blue drapery which covers the all the works on the walls and ceiling of loins of the youth seated is only a little that wonderful art treasury. Whatever bluish semi-transparent grey passed liberties they may have permitted them- lightly over the ground of his canvas.* selves, they never for a moment forgot Many examples of this mode of treattheir keynote or outstepped the tonic ment might be adduced from Tintoretto, limits of their picture.
who frequently owes the principal power It remains to say something of the of his picture to it, as far as manipulatory third part of our subject : of the Vene- treatment goes. Two may be given. tian painters' means or manipulatory One, the Angel's head in his “ Paradise" mode of expressing their ideas. A studi- in the Ducal Palace, at the bottom in the ous inspection of their works will render centre of the picture. If examined careit apparent that many of their finest fully and closely, it will be seen to conqualities, particularly as regards tone, sist of a few light sweeps of pearly pink were obtained by a skilful use of their or grey over the deep, rich, warm ground ground. This ground appears to have of the canvas. It leaves nothing to be been laid in with transparent colour with- desired in colour, sentiment, and tenderout any admixture of white : not flat, but ness. The other example is in those indicating with more or less precision marvels of manipulation in the foreground the ultimate tones of the picture. When- of the “Miracle of St. Mark,” a broken ever it is visible, it is rich, warm, and axe, a hammer, a splinter of wood, and a low-toned: never blue, grey, or cold. piece of rope. Within the proper limit The painting upon this has been very of observation, they scarcely seem to be thin, except in the highlights : some painted at all; there is a dab of the times, from a clear knowledge of the use brush for a shadow, a touch for the high of the ground, a mere whisk of the brush light, and that is all, except the final has been all that was necessary. Over glaze before alluded to, which appears to this a final glaze has been sometimes go over the whole picture. At the right given, generally rather sparing and ten- distance, however, all of them come into der than copious. In the “Miracle of perfect roundness and solidity, as if they St. Mark,” by Tintoretto, and the “ Fish- might be picked up. Yet there is notherman Presenting the Ring to the Doge,” ing vulgar in the imitation of these obby Paris Bordone, in the Accademia, it jects, owing to the large manner in which would seem as if the whole tone of the they are done. In the painting of them, picture had been modified by a flat warm it should be noted, Tintoretto has not glaze : but, we believe, in the one in- used the first ground, but the already stance it is known to have been applied painted foreground of the picture. By subsequently to the painter's lifetime ; this means, on the same system as if the possibly this may also have been the former had been the basis, he has got the case with the other. Be this as it may, form of the object, its shadow, reflected there is no doubt that the real value of light: everything, in fact, but the high the pictures of this school lies in a great light, which is just touched on with a bit measure beneath, not on the surface. of opaque colour. There is a remarkable This may be proved, firstly from a very instructive picture by Titian in the Gal- We do not remember if the same thing is observalery of the Uffizi at Florence, of the lection.
ble in the replica of this picture in the Bridgewater Col“ Madonna and Child ” (which appears to It may be remarked that the mode of painting de
scribed above was not limited to the Venetian school,
but was used by others scarcely less celebrated. There Family? in the church of the Frati at was a picture by Velasquez in the last Winter Exhibi
tion of the Works of Old Masters at Burlington House, commenced, and
begun in the same way. There are also a head by Van it is seen that the Dyck in Rome, and a picture by Leonardo da Vinci at ground is laid in with a somewhat broken, Florence, laid-in in a similar manner.
instance of the painter's power over the æsthetic and spiritual training. Weighed faculty of vision in one of the splinters in respect of this quality of force, our of the handle of the axe (not the one with own Art shows itself lamentably insuti. the high light), which he has only indi- cient. The study of the artistic mission cated, commenced as it were, relying on - of what should properly constitute its the eye of the spectator to point it, which expressional aim — seems to be almost it actually does ; for what the eye seems utterly disregarded. Not even is the to perceive at the proper distance van-picture always, perhaps hardly generally, ishes altogether on a nearer approach. thought out substantially and clearly beAnother proof of what is stated above fore its commencement. With all great may be found in the “ Widow of Nain" schools the reverse is always the case, by Palmer Vecchio in the Accademia at whatever alterations may be subsequeat. Venice. In this picture, which is painted ly made. The Venetians always began on the panel, there is a head in the back- with an exact knowledge of what had to ground which consists entirely of the be done, alterations on their canvases ground colour, just touched here and being rare, and commonly limited to the there as thinly as possible for the lighter direction of a line ; seldom or never to a parts. It is evident also that the later whole figure or group. The simplicity of pictures of John Bellini were painted in the means used and the thinness of the the same manner. This is apparent in painting generally render these alterations the three pictures collocated in the Sa- perceptible where they have been made. cristy of the Redentore at Venice, one in With many of our modern painters it is his earliest, another in his transitional, vastly different: a want of certainty of and the third in his perfected manner. plan, both in regard to manipulation and The first has been painted without any conception, involving so many changes as preparation ; the second appears to have to almost destroy all delicacy and tenderreceived it; in the third a rich, low-tonedness of workmanship. Indeed it is pretty ground has been used ; with what advan-evident that many must depend entirely tage - aided, it is true, by a more finely on their pencil (as a spurious composer of developed sentiment - he who has seen music on his instrument) and the adventhose sweet eyes which look into the titious aid of externals, even for the sentisoul of the observer will clearly be able ment and motive of their pictures, as far to judge. The same thing is also illus- as they can be said to have sentiment or trated in the noble “Madonna and Six motive at all. There is clearly no disSaints” by this painter in the Accademia. tinct mental image formed to begin with,
Although these latter observations are which makes every step towards its real. derived from notes made in Venice, a ization an ordered progress undisturbed reference to such of the works of the by any uncertainty of plan. All genuinepainters mentioned above as are to be ly great Art, however imperfect in its found in our National Gallery will illus- means, or deficient in technical skill, trate more or less clearly the views here must be definite and firm in intention. laid down.
The thoughtful and laborious workmen It must, however, be distinctly under- who have covered the walls of St. Mark's stood that there is no method of paintings at Venice with their quaint and fanciful that should exclude all others ; also that designs have been perfectly regardless of the painters whose works are here quoted | their own shortcomings in the plastic lanas illustrating principles might not always guage ; but their ideas are not the less and invariably have followed the same clearly set before us on that account system. It is enough if it be proved that indeed they are perhaps sometimes more therein lay their greatest force and high-i impressive from the simplicity and inadest speciality, and that they were educa- equacy of their expressional faculty : tionally influenced by such a mode of, they are certainly more touching. Should painting where they did not absolutely or any one come before us as a spokesman exclusively follow it.
or in a literary capacity, we expect he has
something to tell us, and accordingly look We have thus examined some of the for something more than a skilful use external elements of the power which and arrangement of words and phrases ; characterizes the painting of these great but the artist of to-day has no misgivings men : but, of course, their real vital force in coming forward with no other object lay within. This is not a thing of sense than to display a clever use of his mateand mechanism at all, and any portion of rial and to exercise his power of picturit is only to be attained by profound'esque management: that is to say, these
are the primary object of his effort, and | Towards this end the art-workman will not secondary, as they ought to be. His acquire more from his observation than work is not an attempt to dress up a from his pencil, with whatever persistnoble or worthy idea in the best form, ency this may be used. Form and pictobut a struggle to obtain some resem- rial circumstance will have for him the blance to a central motive from the mere importance of a scientific study. With a shifting of lines and varying shades of mind well stored with observation and recolour ; so that often enough, when he flection, he will be enabled to produce the has completed his picture, he is so vague forms of nature with a wider meaning, as to his own meaning or intention in ensouling them with so much of his own producing it that he does not even know spirit as will impress them with a new what to call it, or what special significance force and aspect on the minds of others. to impute to it. The most trivial and This will not be found an easy mode of worthless subjects are made the medium study: in fact it will prove far more diffiof all the art-dexterity he possesses, and cult than that of the pencil; but it will the lay public must be content with his have upon the workman all the power of jejune trifles as the best that the noble a moral training, and will develop and bevehicle of painting has it in its power to stow the better and the nobler elements convey and express. In place of the and gifts of Art; it will need an uniting coolness and tranquillity of a dignified devotion, calling forth the most refined ease, the true and artistic interpretation and subtle perception, together with a of nature, a refined grace of treatment, a constant exercise of the reflective powers sentiment of colour which never forgets to ennoble and glorify the drudgery of either tone or harmony — all softened imitation by the vivifying light of Law. and soothed by the artistic eye, we have | The artist of this elevated type will not scoriated portraits, mechanically disposed look at Nature with the eye of a casual folds of drapery, photographic transcripts observer, but he will commune with her of nature, coarse masses of pigment, fre-l in all her aspects as an intimate and inquently not only struggling to outdo separable friend, admitted, as it were, into every other extravagance, but actually so her arcana and secret workshop. She reckless in the utter abandonment of will teach him her principles, she will consistency as to make one part of the show him her resources, informing him picture play against the other ; introduc-of her width and vastness ; so that he ing all possible keys within the limits of will become a sort of ambassador or delthe same canvas; thus crowning disorder egate of her powers, an interpreter of her with confusion.
| laws and her expressions, not merely an Doubtless one reason why form and imitator of her appearances and acciexternal phenomena are now so exclu- dents. In his early training he may give sively dwelt upon is, that painters, having himself frankly to a thoughtful reproducso little of their own to say, are fain to tion of her forms and conditions with this take refuge among the verities they see higher sentiment behind his labour ; just around them, and allow themselves to be as the literary man or the orator practises made the mirror of the mere appearances himself upon various models in the use of things. It is an abuse very difficult to of his language ; but he will never mistake rectify, seeing that the appearances of the repetition of the symbol for the ultiobjects must inevitably form the substan- mate object of his art, nor lose the estial basis of everything done in plastic /sence in the substance, the spirit in the Art. It is impossible, therefore, to de- letter. fine exactly from the outside how much It does not lie within the compass of of the literality of nature must enter into these observations to enter into any wide any given form of Art. The true work-consideration of what ought to constitute man, however, will have no difficulty in the proper mission of Art, beyond what practically solving the question : for he has been embodied in the course of our will use precisely so much of nature as enquiry. It is enough here to say that it may be required for his own expression. is but the function of something infinitely He will be just so literal as to obtain a more noble than all Art: that however clear and precise language for his utter- much it says, it must always leave imance, and so ideal as to keep himself free measurably more unspoken: that the from anything approaching to an enslav-right artist must be greater than anything ing materialism. He will avoid scholas- he does or can do, having that within him ticism and pedantry in externals in order to which the outward can only offer a to gain force for his central meaning. I more or less inadequate means of expres
BY MRS. OLIPHANT, AUTHOR OF "SALEM CHAPEL,”
sion ; feeling that something better still, Miss Innocent's room, or even of "cleanlies 'behind his best, and being able to ing out” Miss Ellinor's room, which adsay with all true and worthy ministers of joined, or, in short, of doing anything the ideal,
whatever under the constant inspection Howsoe'er the figures do excel,
of the stranger's eyes. What with this The gods themselves with us do dwell.*
offence against the housemaid of being
constantly in her bed-room, and the of. * Andrew Marvell.
fence against the cook of never being satisfied with anything at table, and the offence against Brownlow of paying no
attention to his intimations that dinner From The Graphic.
was ready, Innocent was in bad odour INNOCENT:
with all the servants except Alice, who
stood by her quietly, without any warmer A TALE OF MODERN LIFE.
applause, however, than that there was
no “hairm in the girl.” In the higher “THE MINISTER'S WIFE," " SQUIRE ARDEN," ETC.
regions Innocent made a still more puzCHAPTER XV.
zling and painful impression. When she
could be retained among them she sat A SUNDAY AT HOME.
dumb in a corner, generally near one of INNOCENT, it may well be supposed, the windows, saying nothing, answering had been thrown into the shade by these Yes and No to the questions addressed great events in Nelly's history, and yet to her, doing nothing, presenting a blank she was, notwithstanding, a most impor-impenetrable surface of silence to all the tant element in the discomfort which be-attempts at friendly intercourse made by gan to creep into the house. The very the lively and genial group which she first day after her arrival she had begun intruded herself amongst like a figure of her strange career. Brought down stairs stone. She would obey when absolutely for meals she would sit very quietly, eat- commanded, and for the immediate moing or pretending to eat what was offered ment of command — but then only as by to her --- and much of what was offered machinery, without the least appearance to her was so strange to her that she fared of entering into the spirit of the direcbut badly, poor child, until a new habit tions given her, or wishing to please, or had begun to form, and the wholesome desiring to bring herself into accord with appetite of youth had driven away her her surroundings. No idea indeed of prejudices. It is a whimsical thought, putting herself in accord with her surand one which we are aware the British roundings seemed ever to enter into her intellect in general declines to contem- mind. She was an alien in her own conplate, that frog-eating foreigners, or those sciousness, altogether untouched by the still more miserable specimens of human- distress, the vexation, the bewilderment, ity who are brought up upon maccaroni caused by her self-isolation. Perhaps if, and polenta, should not when they come as Mrs. Eastwood said, they had been among us take any more enthusiastically able to love the girl heartily, and bf n3to our richer fare than we do to theirs ; ture, without any action of hers to call it but yet, strange to say, this is unquestion- forth, they might have thawed the snowably the case — and poor Innocent had image. But beyond the natural bounds very little to eat for the first few days, of the family, love ceases to be given in not knowing the looks of things, and hes- this instinctive causeless way, and 90itating, as the inexperienced always do, body can long resist the repellant effect to venture upon the unknown. When of a perpetual non-response. The girl the meal was over, unless absolute moral was a worry and vexation to Mrs. Eastforce was exerted to restrain her, she es- wood and Nelly, and she was the cause of caped at once to her own room, her con much suppressed merriment to Dick, who stant occupancy of which became at once held that she was sulky, and giving hera standing grievance of the housemaid, self airs, and ought to be laughed at. who immediately settled in her mind that Jenny, as the reader has been informed, this unusual course of procedure was sug- looked at the matter in a more philosophgested by an ardent desire to spy upon ical way; but neither nature nor philosoher movements, and to report her imper- phy threw any light upon the darkness, fections to her mistress. There were or suggested any way of mending the countless complaints from this quarter matter. The strange girl in their midst about the impossibility of “cleaning out” occupied the ladies (before the moment of