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of ways of seeing, feeling, and painting. It seems as if the mechanical reproduction of what is, becomes to-day the highest expression of experience and knowledge, and that talent consists in struggling for exactitude, precision, and imitative force with an instrument. All personal interference of sensibility is out of place. What the mind has imagined is considered an artifice; and all artifice, that is, all conventionality, is proscribed by an art which can be nothing but conventional. There are even scornful appellations to designate contrary practices. They are called the old game, as much as to say an antiquated, doting, and superannuated fashion of comprehending nature, by introducing one's own into it.”
In the following extracts from the same book, it must be remembered that it is not one of those merely literary critics that painters object to (and perhaps with some reason if they have no knowledge of art practically and so cannot discuss that phase) who is writing, but a thoroughly trained artist of well-known and high reputation, who gives his views about the spiritual side of art, and expresses “The Old Masters of Belgium and Holland.”
his belief in the greatness of those pictures which show the ideas and feelings of the artist:
“The glory of Rubens must be found in the world of the true through which he travels as a master, and also in the world of the ideal, that region of clear ideas, of sentiments and emotions, whither his heart, as well as his mind, bear him incessantly.”
“The art of painting is the indisputable witness of the mental state of the painter at the moment he held the brush.”
“It is true that in the world of the beautiful two or three spirits can be found who have gone farther with a more lofty flight, who consequently have seen more nearly the Divine light, and the Eternal Truth. There are also in the moral world, in that of sentiments, visions, and dreams, depths into which Rembrandt alone has descended, which Rubens has not even perceived.”
“In Dutch art, reputed so positive, among these painters considered for the most part as near-sighted copyists, you feel a loftiness and goodness of soul, a tenderness for the true, a cordiality for the real, which gives to their works a value that the things themselves do not seem to have. Hence their ideality, an ideal a little misunderstood, rather despised, but indisputable for him who can seize it, and very attractive to him who knows how to relish it. No painting gives a clearer idea of the triple and silent operation of feeling, reflecting, and expressing. At times a grain of warmer sensibility makes of them thinkers, even poets on occasion.” “Rembrandt, that morose and mighty“ The Old
Masters of dreamer, ... who seemed to be painting his Belgium epoch, his country, his friends and himself, and Hol
land." but who at bottom painted only one of the Eugène unknown recesses of the human soul.” Fromentin.
“Rembrandt is before all a visionary, and Ibid. there are in the depths of nature things that this pearl fisher alone has discovered. He was a pure spiritualist, an idealist; I mean a spirit whose domain is that of ideas, and whose language is the language of ideas.”
“ JeanSimilarly J. F. Millet writes: “To have done François
Millet. more or less work which means nothing is Peasant and not to have produced. There is production Pa
Alfred only where there is expression.” “Men of Sensier.
genius have the mission to show out of the riches of nature only that which they are permitted to take away, and to show it to those who would not otherwise have suspected its presence. They serve as translators and interpreters to those who cannot understand the language.”
A. P. Ryder, A. N. A., one of the most subjective painters among the artists of the United States, whose works have the power in them of starting the observer's thoughts and setting
them wandering far away, says in his “Para“Broadway graphs from the Studio of a Recluse:” Magazine." "Nature is a teacher who never deceives. Sept., 1905.
When I grew weary with the futile struggle to imitate the canvases of the past, I went out into the fields. In my desire to be accurate I became lost in a maze of detail. Try as I would my colours were not those of nature. My leaves were infinitely below the standard of a leaf, my finest strokes were coarse and crude. The old scene presented itself one day before my eyes framed in an opening between two trees. It stood out like a painted canvas — the deep blue of a midday sky - a