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the line is necessary, and so Matthew Maris covers nearly the whole of the plate to secure rich, soft tones, similar to those found in a mezzotint engraving. Into this work he has put a strong personal feeling, giving his own conception of Millet's grand figure, striding across the field as the day wanes, and casting the seeds of living grain into the furrows of the dark vitalizing earth. His interpretation of this great picture into black and white is a very remarkable one, deepening the mysteriousness even of the original, and it is the finest reproductive etching that we know of.
The striking originality of Matthew Maris's paintings makes them worthy of very careful study, and we should try to approach them in a feeling of sympathy with the artist, striving to realize as far as we can the scenes he wished to paint, and the ideas and suggestions he wanted to convey to us. This is the only way. If we require more solid, substantial subjects, or more practical ideas, or more obtrusively clever brush work, we must seek elsewhere, for he will not condescend to gratify us. It is useless to attempt to get from him
what he cannot or will not give. We must just take what his views of art and his own nature allow him to paint. We may admire it, or we may simply endure it, or we may dislike it, but it cannot be ignored; the fact remains that there it is before us, well thought over and pondered upon in secret, wondered about, dreamed of, — what do we make of it?
Thus sitting down for a little time of quiet consideration before pictures of his different periods, we find in the first place that his work seems to belong to no school; he is one of the few painters of the world. The local and particular almost vanish, the types only remain. To get above the ordinary, and to be able to produce this aloofness from the accidents of time and place, shows the possession of one of the rarest gifts that nature can bestow upon an artist, and distinguishes him who has it from all others. The mere portraits, the catching of superficial likenesses, are things very easily done, and have a baneful effect on the great majority of pictures. The figures in these are so evidently straight from the model, and are of so little interest, that it
makes us feel a debt of gratitude to the man who can, like the Greeks in carving their superb statues, sink the model in the memory of what he has seen, and paint from the visions that have formed themselves in his mind.
Then his technical ability is of the highest order, and his sense of colour profound. Those who consider the painter-quality of pictures as the most important, readily admit the truth of this as shown in what he did until about 1874, and his work of this period, from 1860 to 1874, is the admiration of artists. There is a directness and certainty about it, a delicate draughtsmanhip, a fine sense of composition, a beauty and richness of colouring, a uniqueness of aim and execution, that place it in a class by itself.
Having arrived at this point, Matthew Maris felt that there was something escaping him; the finer spirit of the subject, that which he wished to paint, could not be described in the somewhat set terms of expression he was then using, beautiful as they were. His art must grow and develop by getting more of the