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We see this rendered in this way, if the artist would give also in
the true impression of the wondrous depths Weissenbruch's of the azure vault above us. A typical William
Maris sky is a creation of his own, with its airy clouds floating lightly as down in the blue expanse, phantom fleecy forms that look as if a breath would blow them away out of sight.
It must always be remembered that William Maris is a landscape painter. The soft oozy meadows into which the hoofs of the cows sink, the shallow waters near by shining white in the rays of the sun, the trees in their robes of summer green, all these are not intended as a background for the cattle merely, but are painted for their own intrinsic loveliness and importance. And very beautiful indeed are the landscapes he gives us, sparkling in colour and radiant with light and air.
He shows in his paintings something of the reticence of James Maris, but his is a less complex character than that of his more varied brother, and his nature is gentler and more sympathetic. His life seems to have little of the stress and fever of modern times. He belongs to the earlier days Matthew Arnold tells of:
“O born in days when wits were fresh and clear,
In fact, strange as it may appear, his way of looking at life seems more akin to that of the Greeks of old. They did not in their art worry over the meaning of things they could not understand. A beautiful thing was a joy to them; to the artist in its production, to the observer in his contentment with simply beholding and enjoying it.
"If eyes were made for seeing,
“The Then beauty is its own excuse for being." Rhodora.”
Emerson. That was their way of looking at nature, and it is that also of William Maris. He is unlike them in showing us his own personal feelings in his pictures, which he very certainly does; but his happy and contented mental outlook belongs more to the past.
We gather, from his evident regard for living
creatures, that he would agree with Walt Whitman:
“Song of Myself.”
“I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and self-contained,
for their sins,
Yes! William Maris has also looked at them “long and long”; and he has now, through close study, and thorough acquaintance with their every mood, the power of reproducing them on canvas, with a few broad strokes of his brush, yet giving their very anatomy and construction, as these appear to the eye.
When we wish to escape from the "eternal sadness” so much about us, and which perhaps finds too much expression in art, we turn with joy to William Maris and his happy and healthy ideas of life, and from his sunny pastures and cool ponds there is wafted to us a breath of refreshing country air that brings peace and comfort in its train.
Like that of his fellow-artists, his work has