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“If a pic- loveliness or mystery of a scene, and to com
municate through his work the emotions that give lasting pleasure, it stir him, he shows the possession of a rare has to sat
power. It is difficult enough for the figure than the
painter, who has the assistance given by the James expression of the features, to move us by the Maris.
emotion he feels. It is very much more difficult to do this by means of pure landscape. When this is realized, we know that paintings of landscape that have this power of moving us* are different from all others, not only in degree but in kind. They belong to a different and a higher order of art. The ability to see and realize this comes only with time, as undoubtedly the first feeling of the student or observer is to look for mere likeness. He cannot, indeed, understand any other view of pictures, until he feels the effect of imagination and idealism as shown in them. Then all is changed. He has learned what to look for, he feels the new influence, and lives in a different world.
*"SUBJECTIVITY IN ART.”
“If, in the Work, must needs stand manifest
The Person, be his features, therein shown,
The subjective view of art must not be confounded with the theory of “literature” in painting, which is so denounced by Whistler, Manet, and many other artists: the painting of historical and literary subjects which are not self-explanatory, and about which we require to be told, by the name attached to them or in some other way, who the people are that are represented, what they are gathered together for, etc., etc. It is held that these are not properly speaking pictorial subjects, and should be treated in literature; that they should not be used in painting except for their decorative quality, without regard to the subject; and that we should not ask from any picture more than the artist intends to give, and is able to express by the use of form and colour on his canvas. For instance, some one paints Othello telling his adventures by sea and land to Desdemona. This is a subject for literature, for the picture cannot tell that it is the Moor of Venice, but only that two people are having a conversation; so that the picture, if it be a work of art, must be of value for other reasons than the subject. Many artists hold very extreme views about this, but it is certainly a matter that may be argued from both sides. It is the great struggle in which Ruskin and Whistler were engaged, and both seem to have been in part wrong; Ruskin, in not looking sufficiently at the painter quality, and Whistler in trying to banish literary ideas altogether. When Whistler paints “An Arrangement in Grey and Black” (Portrait of the Painter's Mother) are we only to consider it as a piece of beautiful decoration, with values and tones perfect, and not to look at it as the loving rendering of the resigned figure, sitting in her room in the twilight of life, by one who owed so much to her and wished to express his affection and gratitude by portraying her gentle character as he could so well do? The artist-critic may say, “Yes, its decorative quality, its dexterous workmanship, and the expression of thoughtfulness on the face, this is all the picture tells and should tell.” But most people will doubt this and will feel strongly that the knowledge of the Plate XVII. — The Sea Shore. James Maris.