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slaves, Mr. Milner Gibson for freedom of them to those who regard the business newspapers from taxation, Mr. Cobden for of the House of Lords from a business Free-trade, Mr. Bright for Reform, Lord point of view. “The House of Lords, Ashley for regulation of the hours of in truth, is not only a privileged body, labour, the late Lord Derby to protect the but a great representative institution poorer classes of London when evicted -standing out as an embodiment of the by railway companies, Lord Lansdowne aristocratic influence and sympathies of for religious liberty, and Sir Samuel the country.” We are proud of our Peers: Romilly for the amelioration of criminal we can never forget that to their order law, supported by Lords Lansdowne, we owe that which has been styled “ the Grey, and Holland—that may any indivi- keystone of English liberty-equal disdual Peer do in the very many matters tribution of civil rights to all classes of that have still to be dealt with by the freemen :" we are proud of our House Legislature. To name a few such questions, of Lords; we wish it long to continue : why should not some Peer take up and and continue it will, if, as in times past, press forwards for legislation; sanitary it brings itself into harmony with the reform, the game laws, the appointment altered circumstances of the country. of a public prosecutor, the adulteration of Railways have made occasional residence articles of food, the reduction of the in London so easy, that attention to public national debt, the important subject of business is within easy reach of all who are emigration ; Church reform, cathedral re- privileged to conduct it. form, and, as Lord Grey has just sug “ Order is Heaven's first law; and this congested, law reform; abolition of the power fess'd, of life and death over condemned crimi Some are, and must be, greater than the nals, now improperly in the hands of the rest : Home Secretary; the question of national
More rich, more wise." defence and compulsory registration for This we readily accept in England: it service; the whole question of capital and seems to us a truism, so familiar are we labour, and reduction of the hours of labour; with it. But “virtue is the only solid base the important subject of treaties, their rati of greatness ;” moral excellence, active fication and duration, &c. Isit to be supposed power, and strength, used for the public that we should have had the Mines Re good, must ever be the claim to leadership gulation Bill postponed by the Government of those who lead this country ; but the from Session to Session, if some noble lord same writer who bears willing witness to had carried a resolution that such a bill the fact that the dignity of the Peerage was necessary, and, failing the Government has been well maintained by territorial passing such a bill, had himself passed one power—by illustrious ancestry—by noble through the Upper House.
deeds—by learning, eloquence, and public There are other suggestions which I virtues ” —also ominously tells of the should like to make, specially as to the passive indifference ” of the Peers to the Lords taking no bill into their consider ordinary business of legislation, - their ation, except such as should be voted scant attendance," " their inertness," “ the urgent by the House of Commons, unless indolent facility” with which they hare it was in the Upper House one month allowed one or two members of strong will before the day of prorogation, the Ses- to dominate over the majority, and their sion in the Lords not necessarily being “impaired moral influence." Let us recoterminous with that of the Commons; but member in time that, as Carlyle says, my ignorance as to the working of our “there is a stillness, of passive inertness, Parliamentary system leads me to doubt the symptom of imminent downfall," and whether they would be practicable. The that “it is of apoplexy, so to speak, and few suggestions that I have ventured, a plethoric lazy habit of body, that with unfeigned diffidence, to make, seem Churches, Kingships, Social Institutions, to me (except, it may be, the fifth) of oftenest die.” a nature that is likely to commend
S. Flood PAGE.
TURNER AND MULREADY.
ON THE EFFECT OF CERTAIN FAULTS OF VISION ON PAINTING, WITH
ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO THEIR WORKS, 1
BY R. LIEBREICH, OPHTHALMIC SURGEON AND LECTURER AT ST. THOMAS'S HOSPITAL.
WHEN I arrived in England about eighteen months ago, little thinking that a short vacation tour would end in my permanent residence here, I at once paid a visit to the National Gallery. I was anxious to see Turner's pictures, which on the Continent I had had no opportunity of doing. How great was my astonishment when, after having admired his earlier works, I entered another room which contained his later paintings ! Are these really by the same hand? I asked myself on first inspecting them; or have they suffered in any way ? On examining them, however, more closely, a question presented itself to my mind which was to me a subject of interesting diagnosis. Was the great change which made the painter of “Crossing the Brook” after wards produce such pictures as “ Shade and Darkness," caused by an ocular or cerebral disturbance? Researches into the life of Turner could not afford an answer to this question. All that I could learn was, that during the last five years of his life his power of vision as well as his intellect had suffered. In no way, however, did this account for the changes which began to manifest themselves about fifteen years before that time. The question could therefore only be answered by a direct study of his pictures from a purely scientific, and not at all from an æsthetic or artistic point of view.
I chose for this purpose pictures belonging to the middle of the period which I consider pathological, i.e. not quite healthy, and analysed them in all their details, with regard to colour,
1 A Lecture delivered at the Royal Institu. tion on the 8th March, 1872.
drawing, and distribution of light and shade.
It was particularly important to ascertain if the anomaly of the whole picture could be deduced from a regularly recurring fault in its details. This fault is a vertical streakiness, which is caused by every illuminated point having been changed into a vertical line. The elongation is, generally speaking, in exact proportion to the brightness of the light; that is to say, the more intense the light which diffuses itself from the illuminated point in nature, the longer becomes the line which represents it on the picture. Thus, for instance, there proceeds from the sun in the centre of a picture a vertical yellow streak, dividing it into two entirely distinct halves, which are not connected by any horizontal line. In Turner's earlier pictures, the disc of the sun is clearly defined, the light equally radiating to all parts; and even where through the reflection of water a vertical streak is produced, there appears, distinctly marked through the vertical streak of light, the line of the horizon, the demarcation of the land in the foreground, and the outline of the waves in a horizontal direction. In the pictures, however, of which I am now speaking, the tracing of any detail is perfectly effaced when it falls in the vertical streak of light. Even less illuminated objects, like houses or figures, form considerably elongated streaks of light. In this manner, therefore, houses that stand near the water, or people in a boat, blend so entirely with the reflection in the water, that the horizontal line of demarcation between house and water or boat and water entirely disappears, and all be
comes a conglomeration of vertical lines. manner. Nothing in him is arbitrary, Everything that is abnormal in the assumed, or of set purpose. According sbape of objects, in the drawing, and to my opinion, his manner is exclusively even in the colouring of the pictures of the result of a change in his eyes, which this period, can be explained by this developed itself during the last twenty vertical diffusion of light.
years of his life. In consequence of it the How and at what time did this aspect of nature gradually changed for anomaly develop itself ?
him, while he continued in an unconscious, Till the year 1830 all is normal. In I might almost say in a naïve manner, 1831 a change in the colouring becomes to reproduce what he saw. And he refor the first time perceptible, which produced it so faithfully and accurately, gives to the works of Turner a peculiar that he enables us distinctly to recognize character not found in any other master the nature of the disease of his eyes, to Optically this is caused by an increased follow its development step by step, and intensity of the diffused light proceeding to prove by an optical contrivance the from the most illuminated parts of the correctness of our diagnosis. By the aid landscape. This light forms a haze of a of this contrivance we can see nature bluish colour which contrasts too much under the same aspect as he saw and with the surrounding portion in shadow. represented it. With the same we can From the year 1833 this diffusion of also, as I shall prove to you by an experilight becomes more and more vertical. ment, give to Turner's early pictures the It gradually increases during the fol- appearance of those of the later period lowing years. At first it can only After he had reached the age of be perceived by a careful examination fifty-five, the crystalline lenses of of the picture, but from the year 1839 Turner's eyes became rather dim, and the regular vertical streaks become dispersed the light more strongly, and apparent to everyone. This increases in consequence threw a bluish mist over subsequently to such a degree, that when illuminated objects. This is a pathothe pictures are closely examined they logical increase of an optical effect, the appear as if they had been wilfully de- existence of which, even in the normal stroyed by vertical strokes of the brush eye, can be proved by the following er: before they were dry, and it is only periment. If you look at a picture from a considerable distance that the which hangs between two windows, you object and the meaning of the picture will not be able to see it distinctly, 35 can be comprehended. During the last it will be, so to speak, veiled by i years of Turner's life this peculiarity greyish haze. But if you hold your became so extreme that his pictures can hands before your eyes so as to shade hardly be understood at all.
them from the light of the windows, the It is a generally received opinion that veiling mist disappears, and the picture Turner adopted a peculiar manner, becomes clearly visible. The disturbing that he exaggerated it more and more, light had been diffused by the te and that his last works are the result of fracting media of the eye, and had a deranged intellect. I am convinced fallen on the same part of the retin: of the incorrectness, I might almost say on which the picture was formed. If of the injustice, of this opinion. The we examine the eye by an illuminatio word “manner" has a very vague mean- resembling that by means of which ing. In general we understand by it some- Professor Tyndall, in his brilliant experithing which has been arbitrarily assumed ments, demonstrated to you the imper by the artist. It may be the result of fect transparency of water, we find that study, of reflection, of a development of oven the clearest and most beautiful eye principle, or the consequence of a chance is not so perfectly transparent as we observation, of an experiment, or of an would suppose. The older we get the occasional success. Nothing of all this more the transparency decreases, espeapplies to what has been called Turner's cially of the lens. But to produce an effect equal to that visible in Thus it seems to me perfectly natural Turner's pictures after the year 1831, that the peculiar poetical haze which is pathological conditions are required. In produced by the diffusion of light in the years that followed, as often happens Turner's pictures after 1831 should in such cases, a clearly defined opacity have a particular attraction for many of was formed in the slight and diffuse Turner's admirers. On the other hand, dimness of the crystalline lens. In con- passing over the faults, we discover in sequence of this the light was no longer these pictures peculiar merits, and we evenly diffused in all directions, but recognize that the great artist continued principally dispersed in a vertical direc- in many ways to improve, even at a tion. At this period the alteration offers, time of his life when his failing sight in the case of a painter, the peculiarity began to deprive his works of general that it only affects the appearance of favour. I cannot, however, defend the natural objects, where the light is strong opinion of those who are enraptured enough to produce this disturbing effect, with Turner's pictures belonging to whilst the light of his painting is too a still later period—who consider a feeble to do so: therefore, the aspect of picture beautiful which, in consequence nature is altered, that of his picture cor- of this optical defect, is entirely disrect. Only within the last years of figured and defaced, and who, calling Turner's life, the dimness had increased so this Turner's style, would like to form much, that it prevented him from seeing it into a school and imitate it. They even his pictures correctly. This suffi- resemble the porter of a certain ciently accounts for the strange appear- dealer in works of art, who one day, ance of his last pictures, without its when he had to deliver the torso of a being necessary to take into account the Venus at a gentleman's house, answered state of his mind.
the servant, who had expressed his It may seem hazardous to designate a astonishment that his master should period as diseased, the beginning of have bought a thing without head, which art-critics and connoisseurs have arms, or legs, “ You don't understand ; considered as his climax. I do not that's just the beauty of it." think that the two opinions are in de- I show you here first a picture cided contradiction to each other. To which is copied from an oil-painting be physiologically normal is not at all a in the South Kensington Museum. fundamental condition in art; and we This picture was not exhibited till cannot deny the legitimacy of the taste the year 1833, but it was painted which regards that which is entirely some time before, and from sketches sound and healthy as commonplace, tri- taken in Venice previous to any change vial, and uninteresting, and which on in Turner's sight. I shall now try so to the contrary is fascinated by that which change this picture, by an optical contriapproaches the border of disease and vance, as to make it resemble the pictures even goes beyond it.
he painted after 1839. You must, of Many of the best musicians, for in- course, not expect to see in this rough stance, and some of the greatest admirers representation, which a large theatre of Beethoven, prefer his latest works, necessitates, anything of the real beauty and consider them the most interesting of Turner's pictures. Our object is to although the influence of his deafness analyse their faults. upon them is apparent to others.
In order to show you in a single object In poetry, we rank some poems among what you have already observed in the the highest productions of art in which general aspect of a picture, I choose the imagination of the poet goes far purposely a tree, because there are no beyond the normal region of the mind : trees in the “Venice" you have just “ The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
seen, and more particularly because after Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth the year 1833 Turner painted trees that to heaven.”
were unknown to any botanist, had never
been seen in nature, nor been painted distant objects, must make the rays from by any other artist. I do not think it a distant object more divergent, by aid likely that Turner invented a tree he had of a concave glass. We determine the never seen ; it seems to me more probable degree of short-sightedness by the that he painted such trees because he saw power of the weakest concave glass that them so in nature. I searched for them enables the eye to see distinctly at a with the aid of the lens, and soon dis- great distance. covered them. Here is a common tree; 3. The over-sighted, or hypermetropic the glass changes it into a Turner tree. eye, on the contrary, has too weak a
Let us now turn from the individual refraction : it unites convergent rays of case of a great artist to a whole category light upon the retina; parallel or diverof cases, in which the works of painters gent rays of light it unites behind the are modified by anomalies in their retina, unless an effort of accommodavision-I mean cases of irregularities in tion is made. The degree of hypermethe refraction of the eye. The optical tropy, or over-sightedness, is determined apparatus of the eye forms, like the by the focal distance of the strongest apparatus of a photographer, inverted convex glass with which objects can still images. In order to be seen distinctly be distinctly seen at a great distance. these images must fall exactly upon the Hypermetropy has no essential in. retina. The capacity of the eye to fluence upon painting ; it only reduces accommodate itself to different consecu- the power of application, and must tive distances, so as to receive on the therefore be corrected by wearing conretina distinct images of objects, is called vex glasses. This can never be avoided accommodation. This faculty depends if the hypermetropy is so great as to upon the power of the crystalline lens diminish the distinctness of vision. to change its form. The accommodation Short-sightedness, on the contrary, geneis at its greatest tension if we adapt our rally influences the choice of the subject eye to the nearest point. It is, on the of the artist and also the manner of its .contrary, in complete repose if we adapt execution. As a very small handwriting it to the farthest point. The optical is an indication of short-sightedness, so state of the eye during its adaptation we find that artists who paint small for the farthest point, when every effort pictures, and finish the details with great of accommodation is completely sus- minuteness, and, with fine touches of the pended, is called its refraction.
brush, are mostly short-sighted. There are three different kinds of re- Sometimes the shape of the eye difraction : firstly, that of the normal eye; verges from its normal spherical form, secondly, of the short-sighted eye; and this is called astigmatism. This thirdly, of the over-sighted eye. has only been closely investigated since
1. The normal eye, when the activity Airy discovered it in his own eye. of its accommodation is perfectly sus- Figure to yourself meridians drawn on pended, is adjusted for the infinite dis- the eye as on a globe, so that one pole tance; that is to say, it unites upon the is placed in front: then you can define retina parallel rays of light.
astigmatism as a difference in the cur2. The short-sighted eye has, in con- vature of two meridians, which may, sequence of an extension of its axis, a for instance, stand perpendicularly upon stronger refraction, and unites therefore each other; the consequence of which is in front of the retina the rays of light a difference in the power of refraction which proceed from infinite distance. In of the eye in the direction of the two order to be united upon the retina itself meridians. An eye may, for instance, the rays of light must be divergent; that have a normal refraction in its horizontal is to say, they must come from a nearer meridian, and be short-sighted in its point. The more short-sighted the eye vertical meridian. Small differences of is, the stronger must be the divergence; this kind are found in almost every eye, such an eye, in order to see distinctly but are not perceived. Higher degrees