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art really is, we do not know of anything so luminous and convincing, or couched in such well expressed terms, as the essays on art by John Addington Symonds and W. J. Stillman. We give in the appendix extracts from these essays, as some of them are out of print and difficult to find. They convey a great deal of information and are full of interest.
Another beautifully written book is “The Old Masters of Belgium and Holland," by Eugène Fromentin, which presents some of the best and most truthful criticism to be found and well repays a careful study.
In the present chapter we give a number of opinions from writers and artists, in support of the subjective view of art. And first let us quote the following passage, which forms an admirable introduction, from a course of lectures delivered to students at “Considthe Metropolitan Museum, New York, charm
bem erations on
Painting.” ing in their style, original in treatment and John La
Farge. most instructive: “I remember, years ago, sketching with two well-known men, artists who were great friends, a passing effect upon the hills that lay before us. Our three sketches
were different in shape, the distance bore a different relation to the foreground, the clouds were treated with different precision and different attention. The drawing was the same, that is to say, the general make of things, but each man had involuntarily looked upon what was most interesting to him in the whole sight. The colour of each painting was different, and each picture would have been recognized anywhere as a specimen of work by each one of us, characteristic of our names. We had not the first desire of expressing ourselves. We were each one true to nature. Of course there is no absolute nature; as with each slight shifting of the eye involuntarily we focus some part to the prejudice of others. ... You will see that the man is the main question, and that there can be no absolute view of nature. At some moment or other you will have brought before you that most important conflict of realism and its opposite. What I want you to notice is that though in abstraction there must be such a thing, yet in these realities with which we are concerned realism is a very evasive distinction. If ex
periences such as I have just stated bring out the result that you have seen, there is for you no such thing as realism. If you ever know how to paint somewhat well, and pass beyond the position of the student who has not yet learned to use his hands as an expression of the memories of his brain, you will always give to nature, that is, what is outside of you, the character of the lens through which you see it . .. which is yourself.”
P. G. Hamerton tells us that after living on Loch Awe for a year, and after careful study, he painted a picture of the great mountain Ben Cruachan, that towers aloft at the upper end of the lake. He drew it with absolute fidelity. Turner painted the same mountain." 1“Life of
Turner." To gain the real but not the apparent truth, Chapter IV. he disregarded local conditions. He drew P. G. Ham
erton. the mountain too high, left out a neighbouring
8 And peak, Ben Vorich, and changed the shape of “Landanother. In literal and exact truth he was so
Chapter wrong, but Hamerton realized that his own XIII. P.G.
Hamerton. fidelity to nature had only produced a topographical picture and did not give the true ,
e g“Talent impression made on him. Whereas Turner lacks that