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the school. To him all seems to come easily. He has made his own and depicts equally well landscapes; seashores and shipping; towns, with their cathedrals and red-roofed houses and wharves; ploughmen on their farms; and horses on the canal banks towing the heavy sand-laden barges. In all these pictures he paints beautiful cloud-filled skies, which are a never-ending delight. They differ from each other in countless ways, as did the skies themselves that he watched as the wind drove across them grand mountains of pure white cumuli against backgrounds of heavenly blue, or filled from horizon to zenith with grey masses of rushing darkness that threatened storm and rain.
All these are the pictures that he paints con amore, and these are the scenes he loves and that he ponders over. The technical skill shown cannot be surpassed, but all that he does has the far higher quality of revealing the true love of nature felt by this poet painter, and his own feelings about the world around him. He has not quite the sympathetic quality of Mauve, nor the large simplicity of Weissenbruch, but he is a stronger colourist than either, and has more varied technical equipment, and his pictures compel admiration for their brilliancy and beauty, an admiration few people can withhold.
He also paints figures, and these have a great charm, the best being those in which his own children appear. The draughtsmanship and skill shown in them, and their colour, are very fine, but we do not find that his figure paintings have the depth of spiritual feeling in them that Josef Israels puts into his work. They do not seem to us to reach the level of his own wonderful landscapes, which remain his masterpieces and speak his last word to us.
James Maris held very strongly that an artist's strength depended on the way in which he arranged and moulded his materials together into one harmonious whole, which should be complete in itself. So he gradually came to the conclusion that while it was very necessary for the beginner to study nature closely, when maturity is reached direct study from nature is not so necessary. Th. de Bock has explained how little realistic James Maris was in his paintings, which have such an appearance of frank truth that one would hesitate without this proof to think they were other than records of the places he painted. He used to make numerous sketches of the bridge and canal near his house, but when he came to paint he combined all these into a picture which, though not this bridge, yet got the indefinable something, the essence of the scene before him, though it was far from being like a photographic statement of it.
Nowhere is to be found the exact original of any of his completed pictures, here and there a motive only. He often put churches and towers from one town into another. “When I am tired,” he said, “of long, straight roof lines, why should I not introduce a cupola, especially where the cloud formation requires its support?” And again, "Why should I not build my own towns to suit myself?” Why not, indeed! Glad are we, great builder, that like another Kubla Khan, you were able to raise such sunny domes in air, and win us to so great delight! Glad are we that you did