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them and on the “School of 1830,” Millet, Daubigny, Rousseau, Troyon, and the modern successor of Claude, Corot, who, although not 1796–1875. endowed with the imaginative power of Turner, yet idealized more than any landscape painter before him. His lovely notes of early morning and the quiet and rest of evening are a new personal and poetical revelation to the world. (See Plate 13.) Like Constable he was rejected by the critics of his day. They said his work was unfinished and careless. But the opinion of the few who recognized the coming of a genius in each case prevailed, and public opinion has placed them both in their true places among the most famous artists. Turner occupies a unique place in the history of art (see Plate 12), as the most imaginative landscape painter the world has seen, and as one of its supreme colourists.
About the middle of the nineteenth century the impressionists appeared in France. They had a new theory of placing brilliant colours pure on the canvas and not first mixed on the palette. This gave a very bright and beautiful quality of vibrating air, and many of the
ideas of this school will live; but its work seems an incomplete and transitional phase of art, though the names of its great leaders Manet, Monet, Degas and Renoir will always be remembered. This brings us to the latest school of landscape in Holland, with which we are more specially concerned, as the most recent expression of the subjective view of landscape painting.
It will thus be seen that the men who have had the most powerful influence on landscape art are Claude, Ruysdael, Constable, Turner, and Corot. They were all original and creative men, with a special love of nature and the gift of being able to reproduce their ideas on canvas. Each had his own characteristic views about art, and his own very individual manner and treatment. Each worked in ways not known before his day, and each had a great influence on those who came after him. They were the leaders of the different movements, that culminated in the modern art of landscape painting.
REVIVAL OF DUTCH ART
WHISTLER in his customary brilliant style has stated the theory that there is no such thing as a national art, but that all art is purely personal to the individuality of the artist, and has nothing to do with his environment, or the history of his country, or the special conditions prevailing at the time. It is in fact a matter of chance and accident. “Listen!” he says. “There never was an “Ten artistic period. There never was an artloving nation.” The genius of art, he tells us, flies hither and thither over the earth. At one time she touches the far-off dweller in the Celestial Empire. It is then that he produces those wonderful vases painted with the “blue of the sky after rain,” or the deep dazzling reds of the Ming dynasty, the despair of all imitators, or the delicate apple green of the tender leaves that deck the trees in early spring, or the celadon colour of the sea, as the wave breaks into foam and reveals under
neath its white crest the glittering sheen of depths of pure green; or again she dwells with the great Spaniard; or comes to live with the artists of Italy and France; or with Rembrandt and Ruysdael, or the painters of Germany and England. And in every case Whistler holds that it is the individual she stays with and inspires, and when he passes away she sadly departs. Her course through the world is without reason, her ways those of mere caprice.
What truth there is in this lies in the fact that all great art is individual, and that artists do not reproduce each other's ideas, but must have originality. It is right to insist on this, and to emphasize the personal element. And there may not be such a thing as a national art, though each nation has certain peculiar characteristics in its art which assert themselves and are easily recognized. But history* does
“The Philosophy of Art.” H. Taine. Translated by John Durand
*“In order to comprehend an artist or a group of artists we must clearly comprehend the general social and intellectual condition of the times to which they belong. It is their voice alone that we hear at this moment, through the space of centuries, but beneath this living voice which comes vibrating to us we distinguish a murmur and as it were a vast low sound, the great infinite and varied voice of the people chanting in unison with them.”