Imatges de pÓgina
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tion or market for the art which is the outcome of genius, and we must remember that the results of the rightly-developed life of one genius will do more real good to the true interests of art than the results of a hundred schools which develope mere talent. Those who congratulate the present day on its art-advantages might answer: 'But what can a student want more than the British Museum and the National Gallery in order to develope his higher genius?—the British Museum, where Phidias teaches the glories of form; and the National Gallery, where Titian teaches the glories of colour.' We think this answer would be only conclusive to the amateur. These standards of rarest excellence are helpful as standards to the last degree. But their perfection is very high above and beyond the student-genius of our day. The power of Phidias was the culmination of a line of sculptor ancestors imbued with great art feeling and religious feelings, though the religion was pagan. Titian's power was the culmination of a line of painter ancestors imbued in like manner with the noblest feeling art is capable of inspiring. Both were encouraged by living fellow-workers of the same calibre as themselves. High art took a high place in the world. A first importance was given to it by the Governments of the countries in which these artists worked, every incentive that could encourage genius to do its best. Unsurpassed excellence was the result. 'There were giants in those days.' Surely we make a great mistake if we think we are giving ample opportunities by our art education for the reproduction of giants, excellent though this education may be for the production of artists who have no intention of trying even to be giants.

High art not being the result of an exact copy of nature, still less an exact copy of the antique, what is there of teaching in the three principal schools in London-the Academy, South Kensington, or the Slade Schools-which even attempts a higher teaching? The student who possesses genius, his brain fertile in invention, his feelings keenly sensitive to all natural beauty, wants a manner of work, a form of expression to do justice to both. He appreciates the achievements of Phidias and Titian, but does not know the road which has led them to such perfection; not that he wants to imitate either Phidias or Titian, Raphael or Botticelli, even could he do so successfully, for he who imitates must always walk behind, but he wants help in working out his gift; he wants his sensibilities directed towards the noblest in art and nature, otherwise he may lose many years in learning to discriminate, and lose precious time on unremunerative work; whereas the student of the present day, leaving the public schools of art, has generally to look on study as study finished, has to direct his whole attention to the fact that to make a livelihood is very difficult; that imperfect works of high aim do not, as a rule, sell; that without a name even very excellent work is not

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bought; and that, to get a name, his work must be exhibited at the Academy, the Grosvenor Gallery, or at other exhibitions-moreover, look well there, and attract attention. No student without a private fortune can work on the slow principles of the 'Old Masters' without help or without the further difficulties of money worries. No; he must devote himself to the production of work which will not take long, and yet will tell out' from other pictures crowded about it. If he is very clever, he soon acquires a name for a certain trick of picture; his fortune is made, and he is considered successful. But success is not greatness. The more successes we have of this kind the less success, as an educating power, art will have in the nation; for the art that costs little in the production cannot really benefit in the long run. It destroys the taste of the artist, and gives no standard of excellence to the public. We have a few great artists in England who have steadily and most persistently refused to degrade their genius by working for any motive whatsoever but the highest intention of their art-instinct, seeing in its perfecting their right calling. We do not accuse these painters of possessing any extra amount of the sense of duty, for that might mislead; but it appears they possess the true art-instinct, for obviously it is an imperative necessity of their natures to use mind, hand, and eye so that their genius may have its say. The position these artists hold shows that greatness is practically recognised, notwithstanding the vast amount of mud which ignorance is allowed to throw at it through the medium of hasty criticism. Through their acknowledged genius, students of genius, we think, might be helped. Mr. Watts, Mr. Rossetti, Mr. Burne Jones ought undoubtedly to hand on the form their genius has created for itself to the next generation. There is no lack of enthusiasm among the students of the schools of art for the work of these great painters, and the right place for a student possessing genius has always been the studio of a great master. There he learns by working on the work of his master, seeing in detail how great work gets put together; there he feels the impress of a mind working under the influence of high aims. At the schools, however good the teaching may be, it cannot be the same. It is always the pupil's work which is studied there by teachers and students alike, with the exception of M. Legros' tour de force exhibitions of how to paint a model's head in two hours, which is purely a teaching of proficiency in execution. Sir Frederick Leighton and Mr. Millais are all masters can be in the higher branches of school-work at the Academy; but for the development of individual genius, for tiding over those years of difficulty when so much superior talent succumbs under the pressure and difficulties of living, there is at present very little right help.

It would be no easy or small help to ask of great artists to start a school of student-helpers, though we fancy such a plan might prove

of value, after the first effort, to the master, as well as of every importance to the student. No great painter is able to carry out half his designs himself; but, for a pupil to be of any real help even in the least prominent parts of the work, he requires special training and sympathy in the master's manner of work. In addition to this would arise the difficulty that when the student became a real help he would be ready and anxious to start work of his own. Having relays of students always wanting the same preparation before becoming of any real service, and then wishing to use their experience and knowledge on their own works instead of on the master's, would be a labour no great artist could undertake without injury to his own work, and therefore the worst injury to the interests of art in general. Such a plan might be made to work satisfactorily, perhaps, on a larger scale than has ever been tried in England, where a tradition of the manner of the master would be passed on from the elder to the younger students; at any rate, of first importance for such a scheme to succeed, would be to make it certain that the pupil's work carried out, instead of interrupting, the master's. Still the money difficulty would exist.

In these days of advanced culture, could not something like an art company be formed composed of our first artists and the enlightened Croesuses who seem anxious to help art along with other good work; also all true lovers of art whose moral feeling does not rest satisfied in spending money merely to become themselves the possessors of beautiful works of art? The artists could help by their genius and knowledge, and the Croesuses by their money and influence, towards the production of great public works of art, apprenticing struggling students of genius to the company for so many years, in this way helping individual talent and doing something towards beautifying modern external life. That there is no way in which money can be more satisfactorily spent than in making men live the best lives they are capable of living, is acknowledged by all advanced philanthropists; but when it is spent to enable genius to develope itself, the help becomes one which spreads wide for the social good not only of the present, but of the future. A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.' Works on a great scale might, we think, by means of such a company, be produced which, for lack of time and means, remain for ever dreams in the imagination of poet-painters; and it is works on a great scale, works of high and noble intention, decorating places belonging to or used by the public, and these alone, which can rightly influence the masses, and become inspiring to the latent art-instincts of nations; works which would harmonise the dwellings of men with the beauties of nature, carrying out, it would seem, the intention nature had when she created the artist gift. Men living in cities, as well as in the country, ought to have that rest and contentment in gazing on external objects which beauty inspires. They surely ought not, for

the best healthiness of their condition, to be obliged continually to resort to the effort of thought in order to elevate their mood. Artists might have, we think, a very decided mission in the advanced education of our time, if they realised the seriousness of such a mission.3

Never, it would seem, was there a time when life required the rounding harmonious influence of beauty more. It is a want, which, though the cause is not consciously realised, becomes a morbid pain in many intellectual natures. As dogmatic religion slips more and more from under their hold, there is often a dry emptiness left in that part of the soul which faith has deserted and which no excitement can satisfy.

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Some turn to the beauty in an abstract idea, the beauty in the triumph of a moral endurance and an unselfish devotion, an exercise of the emotion of pity to allay that necessity which exists in their nature for beauty of some kind. George Eliot' describes, as she alone can, how that painful life of mental doubt falls back and takes refuge in the simplest acts which allay the sufferings of the sick, where a ground of sympathy for needs common to all humanity can always be found; and of course there can be no more practical or worthy result of 'honest doubt' and that humiliation which in honest natures results from moral and mental confusion. But to weep with the side of nature which weeps, and not to rejoice with the beauty of nature that rejoices, is an asceticism which is contrary, we think, to the obvious intentions of nature, and lands us on a shore barren of the pure delights which our senses were created to enjoy.

The world wants educating in the beautiful-for we have thwarted the instinct for beauty which, from savages upwards, all healthy human nature was meant to possess; we have thwarted it by the faults of our civilisation, by allowing ourselves to become over-greedy, unreal, ever seeking for effect to appear different from what we are thwarted it by being too indolent to be original, too ambitious to be simple, too careless to be discriminating. Having lost the instinct through our weaknesses, the question is, can we

• Wordsworth, in his sonnet to Haydon, says:—

'High is our calling, friend; creative art
(Whether the instrument of words she use
Or pencil pregnant with ethereal hues)
Demands the service of a mind and heart
Though sensitive, yet in their weakest part
Heroically fashioned-to infuse

Faith in the whispers of the lonely Muse,
While the whole world seems adverse to desert,
And oh when Nature sinks, as oft she may,
Through long-lived pressure of obscure distress,
Still to be strenuous for the bright reward,
And in the soul admit of no decay,
Brook no continuance of weak-mindedness,
Great is the glory, for the strife is hard!'

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revive it out of the virtues of our modern civilisation, out of the honest desire for intellectual and moral truth, out of the intense interest in natural science, out of the subtlety of the best critical instinct, out of the purity of our finest literary and poetic taste? there enough latent religious feeling, amidst all the dreary materialism in which so much of the world seems soaked, to nurture a great school of art-enough to counterbalance and get the better of the vulgarities of the time? Of refining of luxury we have so much we are apt to mistake its results for those of the soul, putting them on the altar of 'good taste' and worshipping them. There is such a straining to be clever, many brains are toppled over before their real work in the world begins; such a straining to be muscular and strong, many bodies are maimed by an excess in athletics before they are even fully grown. Surely all this grotesque exaggeration means that there is some serious element left out, which, if brought into the scheme of education, would keep this wildness in better order, give it a tone of better breeding, more balance, and more dignity; to every developing power its right place, but no more. With all our modern excitement of excess, happiness is not the state which the hardest livers, either in the intellectual or physical line, seem, by their own account, to have attained. The ways of the world tend to what is physically and morally ugly; the modern mind, as a rule, is wanting in that attitude of awe and reverence, inseparable from the appreciation of beauty, and is unconnected by any religious fervour with what in nature is inspired and supernatural. The souls of the masses, as well as of the highly cultured and intellectual, have very real requirements, and these requirements ought to be acknowledged and provided for by the thought of the advanced classes. It is these requirements which have found in former ages expression in the highest art. One fact about Art is distinctly proved in her history-all really great schools of art have been inspired by religion. The Greeks abstracted from nature a feeling which they could humanise, and out of the streams and clouds, trees and mountains, made men and women, forms which they deified with the spirit of nature. The early Italians out of men and women made Christs and angels, Madonnas and saints; the Italians of the Renaissance, taking partly the text of the Christian and partly the form of the Greek, threw the passions of humanity into a blaze of colour and an almost violent movement of action. These gloried in a vividness, an unrestrained generosity of beauty, which, like the rich blaze of an autumn garden under the glow of an October sunset, a glow richer and fuller than all the summer suns could cast on it, but the glow which precedes the night of killing frost, flamed up and then vanished, leaving Art no longer an important power in the world. Is there any hope of reviving that power? Can we, through the feeling for nature which certainly exists, though in a minority,

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