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tury so alive; the same spirit but the environment changed. And so it is not the aim of these masters to emulate or copy the great men of a past age. They are full of modern ideas and endeavour to solve the problems of their own day and generation. It is vain to hark back to the days of Raphael or earlier. If art has no new living message to give to its children, it is a dead art and useless. When sufficient time has elapsed to give a true perspective view, these men will stand out as the worthy successors of their own great artists, and as a powerful force, carrying further on the work of Constable and of the French School of 1830.
*All men of striking originality, they broke away from the past traditions of art in their country, and, going direct to nature, strove, by careful study, to give a truthful view, each as he saw it, of her many changing moods. This individual way of painting what they saw makes these men the creators of a new personality in art. They form an extraordinary collection of individually great men, each painting in his own way, but preserving the most sensitive sympathy with the same fundamental truths of nature. As Turner and Constable in England, Corot and Millet and others in France, through their individuality of vision, showed the effect of the scenery and the people of their country upon highly sensitive and poetic natures by a wholly different revelation from anything that had been seen
* The catalogue of an Exhibition of Old and Modern Dutch paintings, held at Whitechapel, London, in the spring of 1904, says:
“Dutch art with bold originality set itself in the seventeenth century to paint the portrait of the new-born Holland, its men and women, its manners, its plains and canals, its taverns and kitchens. The Dutch, with the misty, diffused light of their Northern climate, discovered the true basis of fine colour, the effect of contrast in giving values. It is commonly said that Dutch art is realistic and positive, but in reality its charm and greatness lies in the fact that it idealizes the actual. There is an imaginative power about their work that is far more haunting than the more obvious idealization of forms by the Italians. The
Dutch painters almost accidentally, it seems, merely by their very truthfulness, caught that mysterious poetry of the fleeting moment that lies on landscapes, houses, and men. The modern Dutch painters, when the revival began about the middle of the last century, had merely to cultivate the soil of their native land, which had lain fallow since the end of the seventeenth century. Like their great ancestors they sought inspiration in their own land and times. Though their range is more limited than that of the old Dutch masters, which swept life from the magnificence of Rembrandt, to the somewhat gross burlesque of Ostade, they possess the tranquil sureness of effect that marked the classic masters."
before, so in Holland, though the peasantry and their humble homes had been the common subjects of artists for centuries, no one saw them as they are painted by Israels until revealed by his genius. And the spacious interiors of Bosboom are equally personal to him, as are the cattle and sheep of Mauve, and the landscapes of James Maris and Weissenbruch and the sun-lit fields of William Maris to them. This is the reason of their greatness; they were original and self-revealing, their insight went further and deeper than that of others, and they painted with 1 “Only great technical skill what they each saw, in a emotional way that showed how intensely their feelings mankind,
and emowere affected by the wonders and beauty of tion is innature.
with accuThe study of nature must be the basis of racy. Stud
Con ies may be all art, but it is only the foundation, and on
accurate; this the artist must build. If these men had noble
pictures are given us merely a correct topographical view never of what they saw, their memory would fade accurate.”
“Thoughts with that of many other clever craftsmen.' about Art." But they give us much more; for with this
Hamerton. truthfulness to nature, subordinated to higher
ends, they show to us their distinct individual interpretations, unconsciously revealing, through the gift of imagination, the effect produced on their own feelings, and awakening a responsiye echo in the observers.
VARIOUS OPINIONS ABOUT ART
We have seen in the first chapter that the earliest of the modern landscape painters were idealists, and by no means close copyists of nature. Since their day there have been frequent attempts to prove that realism is the true aim of art. The upholders of the art for art's sake theory in its crudest form have even gone so far as to say that subject in a picture is of no importance, and that it does not matter what is painted as long as the work is well done, and the design and the colour make a beautiful piece of decoration. The men who hold these views are usually artists, busily engaged in painting, who imagine that they are faithfully copying nature and doing nothing more than this. They think that they are not able to see more than the actual scene before them, or to do more than give as lifelike a rendering of it as their