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knowledge of art enables them to paint. Yet often some of these men do put their very thought into their work without consciously knowing it. At the same time they are still quite genuine in thinking that art is realistic, and is not determined by the individual mental endowment of the painter.
Such artists, however, as Nicolas Poussin, Delacroix, Millet, and Fromentin see further into the heart of the matter, and having the gift of expression they have given their views to the world. They believe that great art is ideal and subjective, and that nature is changed as its varied scenes pass through the alembic of the artist's imagination ere he bodies them forth on his canvas.
There needs must be both realism and idealism in art, but the former should be subordinate to the latter. There must be realism; for the correct rendering of facts is the basis of all art, and it is the only means that the artist has to express himself. But the personal element comes in whenever the artist commences to work, and the only really important things in a picture are the charac
ter and the harmony of colour that the mind of the artist gives to the facts of realism.
John Ruskin and P. G. Hamerton in the latter part of the nineteenth century were the two best known writers on art subjects in England. If Hamerton had been endowed with more poetry and imagination, he would have been one of the best of critics. As it is he stands very high. Every person interested in scenery and in painting should be familiar with the very fine thirteenth chapter of his book on “Landscape.” Although it reads as if he, a conscientious and painstaking artist by training, were somewhat annoyed that good, faithful, and honest work did not produce a great picture, yet he shows that he does see the higher truths about art, and he states them clearly. He writes in a very interesting manner and has published a number of instructive and entertaining books on art.
Ruskin has the gift of poetic expression in a very high degree, and as a writer of magnificent English prose has scarcely an equal. He also has a vivid imagination and is often very daring, as in that beautiful passage
“Modern Painters." Vol. IV. Page 349.
quoted by Hamerton from “The Mountain Gloom.” “Through the arches of this trelliswork the avenue of the great valley is seen in descending distance, enlarged with line upon line of tufted foliage, languid and rich, degenerating at last into leagues of grey Maremma, wild with the thorn and the willow; on each side of it, sustaining themselves in mighty slopes and unbroken reaches of colossal promontory, the great mountains secede into supremacy through rosy depths of burning air, and the crescents of snow gleam over their dim summits, as — if there could be mourning, as once there was war, in Heaven - a line of waning moons might be set for lamps along the sides of some sepulchral chamber in the Infinite."
But as a critic of art, while he holds many advanced views, his teaching is nearly altogether taken up with inculcating the necessity of such knowledge of science on the part of the artist as it would take a lifetime to acquire, and the supreme importance of painting in the most minute and faithful detail.
For a logical and clear statement of what