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is simply the harmonic expression of human emotion. Where there is no emotion there is no art, except in that secondary sense which relates to the primary as the letter to the spirit. All the great schools of painting and sculpture have been purely subjective in their origin and development. The moment the subjective method which was its life gave way to the objective or scientific method, the art began to go down. The moment of completest triumph, in which art seemed to have added to its proper charm that of the realistic fidelity which wins the universal applause, was that in which decline began. This was the epoch of Praxiteles and Scopas, of Titian and Raphael; and when, finally, at Bologna, the academy model took the place of the ideal, there was no longer any hope of any school of art. The reason for this it is not difficult to state. The genuine creative or ideal art is only possible where there is full liberty to embody distinct conceptions which are creations; and here the mental conception must be so clear in the mind of the artist that it serves the mental vision as the type of which
the work of art is the visible embodiment. But when constant and concurrent reference to the model is kept up this is not possible, and the slightest indication of the model shown in design is immediately destructive of this supreme quality of art. There can be no doubt that the Greek sculptors never worked directly from nature. We know the same to be true of Michael Angelo, and in all the work of the great painters of the Italian schools we find unmistakable indications that they did not work before nature. Not only is this the immutable law of all great art, but I maintain that the scientific study of nature, whether as anatomy, geology, or botany, is obnoxious in a high degree to the development of the great qualities of design. Beauty is purely a visible and therefore superficial quality. The Greeks had no knowledge of anatomy, or of the use of the muscular system. Down to the last of the great schools, that of Rembrandt, Teniers, and Rubens, the deference to nature, except in portraiture, never went further than to make sketches from nature in which the essential qualities
only were recorded, using nature as a vehicle for their ideals of composition and colour. Turner, who attained the highest expression of subjective art of his time, possibly of all time, was in no period of his career a student of nature in the modern acceptation of that term. Then the art died, as the Greek and Italian schools had died, from a method of study initiated by portraiture, and the sudden recognition of an interest in nature never felt before by the general mind. When the modern landscape and genre painter brought into painting a clear unconventional way of seeing nature, and uncompromising fidelity in rendering facts requiring neither knowledge of, nor feeling for, art in its public, or poetic insight in its painter, it brought into existence what is commonly supposed to be a rational art, but which is, in reality, the negation of art. That the inspiration, however, is not extinct we see in Delacroix, J. F. Millet, Watts, Burne Jones, and Rossetti. To know nature and employ her terms for the expression of the artist's ideal is a widely different thing from the imitation of her forms and facts. The former
is an education; it awakens a kinship to all great thought, and all great thinkers: the latter narrows and dwarfs the intellect and exterminates the imagination.
FROM THE ESSAY ON “LANDSCAPE,” IN “ESSAYS SPECULATIVE AND SUGGESTIVE.” BY JOHN
It is an error to suppose that the ancients were insensible to the charm and beauty of external nature. The Greek way of regarding nature differed widely from ours, and encouraged a different order of artistic symbolism. In their religion they deified the powers of the universe under concrete forms of human personality. When they gazed upon sky, earth, and sea, the image of an idealized man or woman intervened between their imaginative reason and the natural object, Pan, Fauns, Tritons, Naiads, etc. Haunted by such conceptions, the poet and the artist could not look on nature as we do. The Latin religion remained more abstract in its character, more rigid and utilitarian, less poetical and picturesque. Their gods and goddesses intervened with no legendary charm of human fate and passion between the Latin mind and landscape. Accordingly we find