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sidered them seriously at all, as he should like only good ones. Among these he will always have his preferences, but none but fine works should appeal to him.
“It was my duty to have loved the highest,
It surely was my profit had I known,
Such is the vain regret called up in after years by wandering from the way during the stormy passion of youth, and allowing the golden opportunity to pass. And similarly it is true of art, that it is our duty to know the best, and then it will be our profit and pleasure to recognize it and enjoy it.
Looked at from the observer's point of view, the first effect produced by a good picture on anyone commencing this study is a generally pleasing impression of harmonious colour and of interesting subject. Some people perceive the quality of fine colour more quickly than others, having a natural gift for it. But all who desire to learn can acquire this knowledge by practice, and then they soon begin to see that there is something besides this first impression of colour and subject, about the picture, something that causes them to stop and think, and they find out by experience that this something they feel is the thought and individuality of the artist, impressed by him on the picture as he painted it, and expressed by it and revealed in some inexplicable way to the observer. As soon as this, the finer meaning of painting, is understood, it well repays anyone to learn as much as possible of the processes by which the artists produce their pictures, the drawing of form, the skilful use of colour, the attainment of perfect tone, the composition of graceful lines and well balanced masses, all the technical side of the subject. But it must not be forgotten that while there is great technical skill in all fine pictures, this should not be considered as the end, but only the means, and it must be informed and inspired by the mind of the artist. Then it becomes indeed the faithful and capable servant that carries out the will of its master and interprets on the glowing canvas his thought and the personal vision he sees.
All pictures that stop short of this ideal, and do not create in the observer feelings which have the power to stir his imagination, are not on the highest plane of art. They may have a value for decorative purposes and as showing the way in which difficulties can be overcome, but they are at best only clever exhibitions of skilled craftsmanship. On the other hand, the pictures of the great artists, besides showing this technical ability, have the power to take our thoughts away from our surroundings and to lead them wandering into other worlds.
These, then, are the important things to look for in a picture. It should convey a feeling of pleasure and content by its beautiful colour and form and its fine technique, it should reveal the poetry and imagination of the artist's vision, and it should communicate his thought and feeling to those in sympathy with his ideas. And so from the observer's position we come again to the subjective view of art.
This view finds its latest expression in the paintings of the seven Dutch artists to whom
I specially refer in this book. I have known and admired their works for years, while yet they were all living, painting their beautiful pictures, developing each according to his own bent, enlarging their ideas about art, broadening their style, and generalizing more and more as time went by. I think that seldom in the world's history has a greater group of individual artists appeared.
A poem sent to me by “Barry Dane” is given with his kind permission.
In the Appendix will be found some very interesting extracts from two volumes of essays by J. A. Symonds and W. J. Stillman, and I wish to thank the publishers Messrs. Chapman and Hall, Limited, and Messrs. Houghton, Mifflin & Co., for kindly allowing me to use them.
MONTREAL, CANADA, 1905.
E. B. G.