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ner that the world still wonders and admires. It was original and great work, but if anyone were to try to paint like that now, it would be to ignore the compensations the modern painter has in the advance in knowledge that art has made, and to produce at the best only copies of the ideas and the styles of the past, which would be devoid of individuality, and from an artistic standpoint vain and useless.
Modern artists must aim at something different from this. They realize that more knowledge as to the painting of air and atmosphere and effects of light has been gained and that many other matters are better understood, and they feel that on certain lines they can get results different from, and a degree of perfection greater than can be found in, the works of their predecessors. So we find that modern artists have tried to give in a manner unthought of in the past the very feeling of space in their landscapes by their new rendering of sunshine and shade, of stretches of country and seashore filled with atmosphere, and of skies in which the clouds float in the air. The figure painters try to get the same atmospheric surroundings, and both have discovered new methods, and have found that to succeed in their efforts they must give the appearance of simplicity and freedom from artificiality we have been speaking about. They have to dispense with a great deal of what they thought in their student days was necessary accuracy, for this prevents the suggestion of the real characteristics of the scene. The amount of genius an artist has can be gauged by the power of suggestiveness his pictures possess, combined with their artistic quality. It is on these lines that progress has been made since the time of Constable and Turner. Their ideas were popularized, and their methods of painting made familiar to many by their adoption by the French artists of 1830, and they have been developed and carried further on by the modern Dutch painters.
These artists of Holland are painters of nature, and the peasants, the cattle, the canals and boats, are incidents only. And we see by the broad way in which they are treated how careful the artists were not to allow them to interfere in any way with the greater
object they had, of painting the scene as a whole.
Each has his own way of treating the effects of light and atmosphere. Mauve usually sees
the light diffused, and softly refracted here · and there by figure or tree, and by his treat
ment of it, as it brightens the sky and floods his landscapes of silvery grey or autumn yellow browns, he gains a very beautiful atmospheric effect. And it is just because he is not trying to paint portraits of sheep and cattle, but wants to show the effect of a lovely spring or fall day, with the animals as they appeared to him very truly an intimate and integral part of the scene, that he is one of the greatest painters of sheep and cattle the world has known. In the works of James and William Maris, it is the more striking effects of light we often meet with. They delight in painting the bright sunlight shining on the backs of horses, or pouring down in brilliant rays on cattle in the meadows, or throwing a warm silvery light on the water. So we find Bosboom painting, not the architecture of a church, with its hard linear
perspective, but the light pervading the whole building, and softening everything. And Israels has the same aim constantly in view. Whatever the subject of interest in his pictures may be, it is the mystery of the lighting of his cottage interiors that is ever before him. With Weissenbruch it is always the light in the skies that attracts him, as it illuminates the clouds, or shines down on the quiet sea, or strikes the white-edged waves as they are lifted into the air and driven before the gale.
They are all impressionists in the true sense of the word, giving the impressions made upon them by the scenes they paint. They do not attempt to tell any stories in their pictures. Their subjects are the simplest and of common occurrence, belonging to the ordinary life about them. Even the cottage interiors with their inmates have nothing of the anecdotal quality in them. Whether they paint out-door or in-door life, their pictures are just the records of what the artists saw as they watched the peasants engaged at work in their every-day pursuits, and as they shared in their happiness or sorrow.