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the symbols at its disposal are capable of doing this, and if it is at the same time to stir the thoughts of the observer, one of the most important requisites to secure these two ends is to paint the picture so that it will appear very simple and natural, and not lead the thought away from the feelings the artist wished to convey or from the colour effect. It may be that we shall discover on closer examination the manner in which the technical skill of the artist and his knowledge of the rules of the best forms of composition have been concealed. But that comes later. “Ars est celare artem" is as true of painting to-day as of that in the past. Whenever we feel, on first seeing a picture, how cleverly it is done, and what ability the artist has shown and what trouble he has taken in overcoming technical difficulties, we may be sure, no matter how much we are impressed by the skill exhibited, that we are not looking at a really great picture.
We may take as an example the works of Alma Tadema. Very beautiful in a sense they are, and the workmanship is of the finest. So is that of Meissonier, whose broader brush work is more attractive though his attention to detail is equally great. But when we have There is an fully admired the great ability shown by these iny
we all great artists we cannot get any further. In attempt- pictures for
those who ing to do so we are met by the nothingness are able behind it all. The pictures contain no thought. and willing
to accept it.
server, as them. There is no inspiration in them.
he studies a So it will be found that great pictures pro- painting, duce in the observer a feeling of simplicity, as it were a as if they were quite easy to paint, a feeling long way
into it, but that the artist was not distracted by any diffi- feels him
And the self, after a mphisms nis purpose. nu a short time tone and values are also right, without any spent be
fore it, discordant colour note to call away the atten
blocked and tion. And so the observer feels in accord with debarred
from further the artist, and able to listen undisturbed to progress,
then there what he has to say.
In looking at the work of these seven Dutch something artists, we are struck by their unaffected simplicity and straightforwardness, and also of a lack
of sympathy by their perfect tone quality and beautiful in the harmony of contrasted colour. Showing how observer. much can be gained by emphasizing this
simplicity and tone quality, proving the importance of generalizing, and exhibiting the strongly subjective side of painting, are their additions to the art knowledge of the world. For these things they have given up much, but they held them to be all-important and well worth what they cost. Following these ideas and developing them, they were able to aim at, and to secure, great freedom from artificiality in their work, and to give to it a strongly suggestive element. A comparison with the work of other schools will show that in these two matters the Dutch artists certainly excel.
Modern art cannot hope to surpass in perfection of detail and finish, united with as much breadth as the treatment can possibly allow, such works as those of Van Eyck, Raphael, Titian, and Holbein. Finely and minutely as they have finished their paintings, they yet in some marvellous way gain an effect of broad treatment, and with all their detail reveal the essence of the subject. There is no use in trying to rival this. It has been done once for all in such a magnificent man