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Modern Painting by George Moore

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matter, or as so much light and shade. Violet, for instance, contains
not only red and blue in proportions which may be indefinitely varied,
but also certain proportions of light and shade; the former tending
towards the highest light, represented on the palette by flake white;
the latter tending towards the deepest dark, represented on the
palette by ivory black.

Similar to a note in music, no colour can be said to be in itself
either false or true, ugly or beautiful. A note and a colour acquire
beauty and ugliness according to their associations; therefore to
colour well depends, in the first instance, on the painter's knowledge
and intimate sense of the laws of contrast and similitude. But there
is still another factor in the art of colouring well; for, just as the
musician obtains richness and novelty of expression by means of a
distribution of sound through the instruments of the orchestra, so
does the painter obtain depth and richness through a judicious
distribution of values. If we were to disturb the distribution of
values in the pictures of Titian, Rubens, Veronese, their colour would
at once seem crude, superficial, without cohesion or rarity. But some
will aver that if the colour is right the values must be right too.
However plausible this theory may seem, the practice of those who hold
it amply demonstrates its untruth. It is interesting and instructive
to notice how those who seek the colour without regard for the values
inherent in the colouring matter never succeed in producing more than
a certain shallow superficial brilliancy; the colour of such painters
is never rich or profound, and although it may be beautiful, it is
always wanting in the element of romantic charm and mystery.

The colour is the melody, the values are the orchestration of the
melody; and as the orchestration serves to enrich the melody, so do
the values enrich the colour. And as melody may--nay, must--exist, if
the orchestration be really beautiful, so colour must inhere wherever
the values have been finely observed. In Rembrandt, the colour is
brown and a white faintly tinted with bitumen; in Claude, the colour
is blue, faintly flushed with yellow in the middle sky, and yet none
has denied the right of these painters to be considered colourists.
They painted with the values--that is to say, with what remains on the
palette when abstraction has been made of the colouring matter--a
delicate neutral tint of infinite subtlety and charm; and it is with
this, the evanescent and impalpable soul of the vanished colours, that
the most beautiful pictures are painted. Corot, too, is a conspicuous
example of this mode of painting. His right to stand among the world's
colourists has never, so far as I know, been seriously contested, his
pictures are almost void of colouring matter--a blending of grey and
green, and yet the result is of a richly coloured evening.

Corot and Rembrandt, as Dutilleux pointed out, arrived at the same
goal by absolutely different ends. He saw clearly, although he could
not express himself quite clearly, that, above all painters, Rembrandt
and Corot excelled in that mode of pictorial expression known as
values, or shall I say chiaroscuro, for in truth he who has said
values has hinted chiaroscuro. Rembrandt told all that a golden ray
falling through a darkened room awakens in a visionary brain; Corot
told all that the grey light of morning and evening whispers in the
pensive mind of the elegiac poet. The story told was widely different,
but the manner of telling was the same: one attenuated in the light,
the other attenuated in the shadow: both sacrificed the corners with a
view to fixing the attention on the one spot in which the soul of the
picture lives.

All schools have not set great store on values, although all schools
have set great store on drawing and colour. Values seem to have come
and gone in and out of painting like a fashion. One generation hardly
gives the matter a thought, the succeeding generation finds the whole
charm of its art in values. It would be difficult to imagine a more
interesting and instructive history than the history of values in
painting. It is far from my scheme to write such a history, but I wish
that such a history were written, for then we should see clearly how
unwise were they who neglected the principle, and how much they lost.
I would only call attention to how the principle came to be
reintroduced into French art in the beginning of this century. It came
from Holland _via_, England through the pictures of Turner and
Constable. It was an Anglo-Dutch influence that roused French art,
then slumbering in the pseudo-classicisms of the First Empire; and,
half-awakened, French art turned its eyes to Holland for inspiration;
and values, the foundation and corner-stone of Dutch art, became
almost at a bound a first article of faith in the artistic creed. In
1830 values came upon France like a religion. Rembrandt was the new
Messiah, Holland was the Holy Land, and disciples were busy dispensing
the propaganda in every studio.

Since the bad example of Greuze, literature had wound round every
branch of painting until painting seemed to disappear in the parasite
like an oak under a cloud of ivy. The excess had been great--a
reaction was inevitable--and Rembrandt, with his Biblical legends,
furnished the necessary transition. But when a taste for painting had
been reacquired, one after the other the Dutch painters became the
fashion. It is almost unnecessary to point out the influence of
Hobbema on the art of Rousseau. Corot was less affected by the
Dutchmen, or, to speak more exactly, he assimilated more completely
what he had learnt from them than his rival was able to do. Moreover,
what he took from Holland came to him through Ruysdael rather than
through Hobbema.

The great morose dreamer, contemplative and grave as Wordsworth, must
have made more direct and intimate appeal to Corot's soul than the
charm and the gaiety of Hobbema's water-mills. Be this as it may, it
was Holland that revived the long-forgotten science of values in the
Barbizon painters. They sought their art in the direction of values,
and very easily Corot took the lead as chief exponent of the new
principle; and he succeeded in applying the principle of values to
landscape painting as fully as Rembrandt had to figure painting.

But at the moment when the new means of expression seemed most
distinctly established and understood, it was put aside and lost sight
of by a new generation of painters, and, curiously enough, by the men
who had most vigorously proclaimed the beauty and perfection of the
art which was to be henceforth, at least in practice, their mission to
repudiate. For I take it that the art of the impressionists has
nothing whatever in common with the art of Corot. True, that Corot's
aim was to render his impression of his subject, no matter whether it
was a landscape or a figure; in this aim he differed in no wise from
Giotto and Van Eyck; but we are not considering Corot's aims but his
means of expression, and his means of expression were the very
opposite to those employed by Monet and the school of Monet. Not with
half-tints in which colour disappears are Monet and his school
concerned, but with the brilliant vibration of colour in the full
light, with open spaces where the light is reflected back and forward,
and nature is but a prism filled with dazzling and iridescent tints.

I remember once writing about one of Monet's innumerable snow effects:
"This picture is in his most radiant manner. A line of snow-enchanted
architecture passes through the picture--only poor houses with a
single square church tower, but they are beautiful as Greek temples in
the supernatural whiteness of the great immaculate snow. Below the
village, but not quite in the foreground, a few yellow bushes, bare
and crippled by the frost, and around and above a marvellous glitter
in pale blue and pale rose tints." I asked if the touch was not more
precious than intimate; and I spoke, too, of a shallow and brilliant
appearance. But if I had asked why the picture, notwithstanding its
incontestable merits, was so much on the surface, why it so
irresistibly suggested _un decor de theatre_, why one did not enter
into it as one does into a picture by Wilson or Corot, my criticism
would have gone to the root of the evil. And the reason of this is
because Monet has never known how to organise and control his values.
The relation of a wall to the sky which he observes so finely seem as
if deliberately contrived for the suppression of all atmosphere; and
we miss in Monet the delicacy and the mystery which are the charm of
Corot. The bath of air being withdrawn, a landscape becomes a mosaic,
flat surface takes the place of round: the next step is some form or
other of pre-Raphaelitism.

MONET, SISLEY, PISSARO, AND THE DECADENCE.

Nature demands that children should devour their parents, and Corot
was hardly cold in his grave when his teaching came to be neglected
and even denied. Values were abandoned and colour became the unique
thought of the new school.

My first acquaintance with Monet's painting was made in '75 or
'76--the year he exhibited his first steam-engine and his celebrated
troop of life-size turkeys gobbling the tall grass in a meadow, at the
end of which stood, high up in the picture, a French chateau.
Impressionism is a word that has lent itself to every kind of
misinterpretation, for in its exact sense all true painting is
penetrated with impressionism, but, to use the word in its most modern
sense--that is to say, to signify the rapid noting of illusive
appearance--Monet is the only painter to whom it may be reasonably
applied. I remember very well that sunlit meadow and the long coloured
necks of the turkeys. Truly it may be said that, for the space of one
rapid glance, the canvas radiates; it throws its light in the face of
the spectator as, perhaps, no canvas did before. But if the eyes are
not immediately averted the illusion passes, and its place is taken by
a somewhat incoherent and crude coloration. Then the merits of the
picture strike you as having been obtained by excessive accomplishment
in one-third of the handicraft and something like a formal
protestation of the non-existence of the other two-thirds. Since that
year I have seen Monets by the score, and have hardly observed any
change or alteration in his manner of seeing or executing, or any
development soever in his art. At the end of the season he comes up
from the country with thirty or forty landscapes, all equally perfect,
all painted in precisely the same way, and no one shows the slightest
sign of hesitation, and no one suggests the unattainable, the beyond;
one and all reveal to us a man who is always sure of his effect, and
who is always in a hurry. Any corner of nature will do equally well
for his purpose, nor is he disposed to change the disposition of any
line of tree or river or hill; so long as a certain reverberation of
colour is obtained all is well. An unceasing production, and an almost
unvarying degree of excellence, has placed Monet at the head of the
school; his pictures command high prices, and nothing goes now with
the erudite American but Monet's landscapes. But does Monet merit this
excessive patronage, and if so, what are the qualities in his work
that make it superior to Sisley's and Pissaro's?

Sisley is less decorative, less on the surface, and though he follows
Monet in his pursuit of colour, nature is, perhaps, on account of his
English origin, something more to him than a brilliant appearance. It
has of course happened to Monet to set his easel before the suburban
aspect that Sisley loves, but he has always treated it rather in the
decorative than in the meditative spirit. He has never been touched by
the humility of a lane's end, and the sentiment of the humble life
that collects there has never appeared on his canvas. Yet Sisley,
being more in sympathy with such nature, has often been able to
produce a superior though much less pretentious picture than the
ordinary stereotyped Monet. But if Sisley is more meditative than
Monet, Pissaro is more meditative than either.

Monet had arrived at his style before I saw anything of his work; of
his earlier canvases I know nothing. Possibly he once painted in the
Corot manner; it is hardly possible that he should not have done so.
However this may be, Pissaro did not rid himself for many years of the
influence of Corot. His earliest pictures were all composed in pensive
greys and violets, and exhaled the weary sadnessof tilth and grange
and scant orchard trees. The pale road winds through meagre uplands,
and through the blown and gnarled and shiftless fruit-trees the
saddening silhouette of the town drifts across the land. The violet
spaces between the houses are the very saddest, and the spare furrows
are patiently drawn, and so the execution is in harmony with and
accentuates the unutterable monotony of the peasant's lot. The sky,
too, is vague and empty, and out of its deathlike, creamy hollow the
first shadows are blown into the pallid face of a void evening. The
picture tells of the melancholy of ordinary life, of our poor
transitory tenements, our miserable scrapings among the little mildew
that has gathered on the surface of an insignificant planet. I will
not attempt to explain why the grey-toned and meditative Pissaro
should have consented to countenance--I cannot say to lead (for,
unlike every other _chef d'ecole_, Pissaro imitated the disciples
instead of the disciples imitating Pissaro)--the many fantastic
revolutions in pictorial art which have agitated Montmartre during the
last dozen years. The Pissaro psychology I must leave to take care of
itself, confining myself strictly to the narrative of these
revolutions.

Authority for the broken brushwork of Monet is to be found in Manet's
last pictures, and I remember Manet's reply when I questioned him
about the pure violet shadows which, just before his death, he was
beginning to introduce into his pictures. "One year one paints violet
and people scream, and the following year every one paints a great
deal more violet." If Manet's answer throws no light whatever on the
new principle, it shows very clearly the direction, if not the goal,
towards which his last style was moving. But perhaps I am speaking too
cautiously, for surely broken brushwork and violet shadows lead only
to one possible goal--the prismatic colours.

Manet died, and this side--and this side only--of his art was taken up
by Monet, Sisley, and Renoir. Or was it that Manet had begun to yield
to an influence--that of Monet, Sisley, and Renoir--which was just
beginning to make itself felt? Be this as it may, browns and blacks
disappeared from the palettes of those who did not wish to be
considered _l'ecole des beaux-arts, et en plein_. Venetian reds,
siennas, and ochres were in process of abandonment, and the palette
came to be composed very much in the following fashion: violet, white,
blue, white, green, white, red, white, yellow, white, orange,
white--the three primary and the three secondary colours, with white
placed between each, so as to keep everything as distinct as possible,
and avoid in the mixing all soiling of the tones. Monet, Sisley, and
Renoir contented themselves with the abolition of all blacks and
browns, for they were but half-hearted reformers, and it was clearly
the duty of those who came after to rid the palette of all ochres,
siennas, Venetian, Indian, and light reds. The only red and yellow
that any one who was not, according to the expression of the new
generation, _presque du Louvre_, could think of permitting on his
palette were vermilion and cadmium. The first of this new generation
was Seurat, Seurat begot Signac, Signac begot Anquetin, and Anquetin
has begotten quite a galaxy of lesser lights, of whom I shall not
speak in this article--of whom it is not probable that I shall ever
speak.

It was in an exhibition held in Rue Lafitte in '81 or '82 that the new
method, which comprised two most radical reforms--an execution
achieved entirely with the point of the brush and the division of the
tones--was proclaimed. Or should I say reformation, for the execution
by a series of dots is implicit in the theory of the division of the
tones? How well I remember being attracted towards an end of the room,
which was filled with a series of most singular pictures. There must
have been at least ten pictures of yachts in full sail. They were all
drawn in profile, they were all painted in the very clearest tints,
white skies and white sails hardly relieved or explained with shadow,
and executed in a series of minute touches, like mosaic. Ten pictures
of yachts all in profile, all in full sail, all unrelieved by any
attempt at atmospheric effect, all painted in a series of little dots!

Great as was my wonderment, it was tenfold increased on discovering
that only five of these pictures were painted by the new man, Seurat,
whose name was unknown to me; the other five were painted by my old
friend Pissaro. My first thought went for the printer; my second for
some _fumisterie_ on the part of the hanging committee, the intention
of which escaped me. The pictures were hung low, so I went down on my
knees and examined the dotting in the pictures signed Seurat, and the
dotting in those that were signed Pissaro. After a strict examination
I was able to detect some differences, and I began to recognise the
well-known touch even through this most wild and most wonderful
transformation. Yes, owing to a long and intimate acquaintance
with Pissaro and his work, I could distinguish between him and Seurat,
but to the ordinary visitor their pictures were identical.

Many claims are put forward, but the best founded is that of Seurat;
and, so far as my testimony may serve his greater honour and glory, I
do solemnly declare that I believe him to have been the original
discoverer of the division of the tones.

A tone is a combination of colours. In Nature colours are separate;
they act and react one on the other, and so create in the eye the
illusion of a mixture of various colours-in other words, of a tone.
But if the human eye can perform this prodigy when looking on colour
as evolved through the spectacle of the world, why should not the eye
be able to perform the same prodigy when looking on colour as
displayed over the surface of a canvas? Nature does not mix her
colours to produce a tone; and the reason of the marked discrepancy
existing between Nature and the Louvre is owing to the fact that
painters have hitherto deemed it a necessity to prepare a tone on the
palette before placing it on the canvas; whereas it is quite clear
that the only logical and reasonable method is to first complete the
analysis of the tone, and then to place the colours which compose the
tone in dots over the canvas, varying the size of the dots and the
distance between the dots according to the depth of colour desired by
the painter.

If this be done truly--that is to say, if the first analysis of the
tones be a correct analysis--and if the spectator places himself at
the right distance from the picture, there will happen in his eyes
exactly the same blending of colour as happens in them when they are
looking upon Nature. An example will, I think, make my meaning clear.
We are in a club smoking-room. The walls are a rich ochre. Three or
four men sit between us and the wall, and the blue smoke of their
cigars fills the middle air. In painting this scene it would be usual
to prepare the tone on the palette, and the preparation would be
somewhat after this fashion: ochre warmed with a little red--a pale
violet tinted with lake for the smoke of the cigars.

But such a method of painting would seem to Seurat and Signac to be
artless, primitive, unscientific, childish, _presque du Louvre_--above
all, unscientific. They would say, "Decompose the tone. That tone is
composed of yellow, white, and violet turning towards lake"; and,
having satisfied themselves in what proportions, they would dot their
canvases over with pure yellow and pure white, the interspaces being
filled in with touches of lake and violet, numerous where the smoke is
thickest, diminishing in number where the wreaths vanish into air. Or
let us suppose that it is a blue slated roof that the dottist wishes
to paint. He first looks behind him, to see what is the colour of the
sky. It is an orange sky. He therefore represents the slates by means
of blue dots intermixed with orange and white dots, and--ah! I am
forgetting an important principle in the new method--the complementary
colour which the eye imagines, but does not see. What is the
complementary colour of blue, grey, and orange? Green. Therefore green
must be introduced into the roof; otherwise the harmony would be
incomplete, and therefore in a measure discordant.

Needless to say that a sky painted in this way does not bear looking
into. Close to the spectator it presents the appearance of a pard; but
when he reaches the proper distance there is no denying that the
colours do in a measure unite and assume a tone more or less
equivalent to the tone that would have been obtained by blending the
colours on the palette. "But," cry Seurat and Signac, "an infinitely
purer and more beautiful tone than could have been obtained by any
artificial blending of the colours on the palette--a tone that is the
exact equivalent of one of Nature's tones, for it has been obtained in
exactly the same way."

Truly a subject difficult to write about in English. Perhaps it is one
that should not be attempted anywhere except in a studio with closed
doors. But if I did not make some attempt to explain this matter, I
should leave my tale of the decline and fall of French art in the
nineteenth century incomplete.

Roughly speaking, these new schools--the symbolists, the decadents,
the dividers of tones, the professors of the rhythm of gesture--date
back about ten years. For ten years the division of the tones has been
the subject of discussion in the aesthetic circles of Montmartre. And
when we penetrate further into the matter--or, to be more exact, as we
ascend into the higher regions of _La Butte_--we find the elect, who
form so stout a phalanx against the Philistinism of the Louvre,
themselves subdivided into numerous sections, and distraught with
internecine feuds concerning the principle of the art which they
pursue with all the vehemence that Veronese green and cadmium yellow
are capable of. From ten at night till two in the morning the
_brasseries_ of the Butte are in session. Ah! the interminable bocks
and the reek of the cigars, until at last a hesitating exodus begins.
An exhausted proprietor at the head of his waiters, crazed with
sleepiness, eventually succeeds in driving these noctambulist apostles
into the streets.

Then the nervous lingering at the corner! The disputants, anxious and
yet loth to part, say goodbye, each regretting that he had not urged
some fresh argument--an argument which had just occurred to him, and
which, he feels sure, would have reduced his opponent to impotent
silence. Sometimes the partings are stormy. The question of the
introduction of the complementary colours into the frames of the
pictures is always a matter of strife, and results in much
nonconformity. Several are strongly in favour of carrying the
complementary colours into the picture-frames. "If you admit," says
one, "that to paint a blue roof with an orange sky shining on it you
must introduce the complementary colour green--which the spectator
does not see, but imagines--there is excellent reason why you should
dot the frame all over with green, for the picture and its frame are
not two things, but one thing." "But," cries his opponent, "there is a
finality in all things; if you carry your principle out to the bitter
end, the walls as well as the frame should be dotted with the
complementary colours, the staircases too, the streets likewise; and
if we pursue the complementaries into the street, who shall say where
we are to stop? Why stop at all, unless the neighbours protest that we
are interfering with their complementaries?"

The schools headed by Signac and Anquetin comprise numerous disciples
and adherents. They do not exhibit in the Salon or in the Champ de
Mars; but that is because they disdain to do so. They hold exhibitions
of their own, and their picture-dealers trade only in their works and
in those belonging to or legitimately connected with the new schools.

If I have succeeded in explaining the principle of coloration employed
by these painters, I must have excited some curiosity in the reader to
see these scientifically-painted pictures. To say that they are
strange, absurd, ridiculous, conveys no sensation of their
extravagances; and I think that even an elaborate description would
miss its mark. For, in truth, the pictures merit no such attention. It
is only needful to tell the reader that they fail most conspicuously
at the very point where it was their mission to succeed. Instead of
excelling in brilliancy of colour the pictures painted in the ordinary
way, they present the most complete spectacle of discoloration
possible to imagine.

Yet Signac is a man of talent, and in an exhibition of pictures which
I visited last May I saw a wide bay, two rocky headlands extending far
into the sea, and this offing was filled with a multitude of gull-like
sails. There was in it a vibration of light, such an effect as a
mosaic composed of dim-coloured but highly polished stones might
produce. I can say no good word, however, for his portrait of a
gentleman holding his hat in one hand and a flower in the other. This
picture formulated a still newer aestheticism--the rhythm of gesture.
For, according to Signac, the raising of the face and hands expresses
joy, the depression of the face and hands denotes sadness. Therefore,
to denote the melancholy temperament of his sitter, Signac represented
him as being hardly able to lift his hat to his head or the flower to
his button-hole. The figure was painted, as usual, in dots of pure
colour lifted from the palette with the point of the brush; the
complementary colours in duplicate bands curled up the background.
This was considered by the disciples to be an important innovation;
and the effect, it is needless to say, was gaudy, if not neat.

A theory of Anquetin's is that wherever the painter is painting, his
retina must still hold some sensation of the place he has left;
therefore there is in every scene not only the scene itself, but
remembrance of the scene that preceded it. This is not quite clear, is
it? No. But I think I can make it clear. He who walks out of a
brilliantly lighted saloon--that is to say, he who walks out of
yellow--sees the other two primary colours, red and blue; in other
words, he sees violet. Therefore Anquetin paints the street, and
everything in it, violet--boots, trousers, hats, coats, lamp-posts,
paving-stones, and the tail of the cat disappearing under the _porte
cochere_.

But if in my description of these schools I have conveyed the idea of
stupidity or ignorance I have failed egregiously. These young men are
all highly intelligent and keenly alive to art, and their doings are
not more vain than the hundred and one artistic notions which have
been undermining the art-sense of the French and English nations for
the last twenty years. What I have described is not more foolish than
the stippling at South Kensington or the drawing by the masses at
Julien's. The theory of the division of the tones is no more foolish
than the theory of _plein air_ or the theory of the square brushwork;
it is as foolish, but not a jot more foolish.

Great art dreams, imagines, sees, feels, expresses--reasons never. It
is only in times of woful decadence, like the present, that the
bleating of the schools begins to be heard; and although, to the
ignorant, one method may seem less ridiculous than another, all
methods--I mean, all methods that are not part and parcel of the
pictorial intuition--are equally puerile and ridiculous. The
separation of the method of expression from the idea to be expressed
is the sure sign of decadence. France is now all decadence. In the
Champ de Mars, as in the Salon, the man of the hour is he who has
invented the last trick in subject or treatment.

France has produced great artists in quick succession. Think of all
the great names, beginning with Ingres and ending with Degas, and
wonder if you can that France has at last entered on a period of
artistic decadence. For the last sixty years the work done in literary
and pictorial art has been immense; the soil has been worked along and
across, in every direction; and for many a year nothing will come to
us from France but the bleat of the scholiast.

OUR ACADEMICIANS.

That nearly all artists dislike and despise the Royal Academy is a
matter of common knowledge. Whether with reason or without is a matter
of opinion, but the existence of an immense fund of hate and contempt
of the Academy is not denied. From Glasgow to Cornwall, wherever a
group of artists collects, there hangs a gathering and a darkening sky
of hate. True, the position of the Academy seems to be impregnable;
and even if these clouds should break into storm the Academy would be
as little affected as the rock of Gibraltar by squall or tempest. The
Academy has successfully resisted a Royal Commission, and a crusade
led by Mr. Holman Hunt in the columns of the _Times_ did not succeed
in obtaining the slightest measure of reform.... Here I might consult
Blue-books and official documents, and tell the history of the
Academy; but for the purpose of this article the elementary facts in
every one's possession are all that are necessary. We know that we owe
the Academy to the artistic instincts of George III. It was he who
sheltered it in Somerset House, and when Somerset House was turned
into public offices, the Academy was bidden to Trafalgar Square; and
when circumstances again compelled the authorities to ask the Academy
to move on, the Academy, posing as a public body, demanded a site, and
the Academy was given one worth three hundred thousand pounds. Thereon
the Academy erected its present buildings, and when they were
completed the Academy declared itself on the first opportunity to be
no public body at all, but a private enterprise. Then why the site,
and why the Royal charter? Mr. Colman, Mr. Pears, Mr. Reckitt are not
given sites worth three hundred thousand pounds. These questions have
often been asked, and to them the Academy has always an excellent
answer. "The site has been granted, and we have erected buildings upon
it worth a hundred thousand pounds; get rid of us you cannot."

The position of the Academy is as impregnable as the rock of
Gibraltar; it is as well advertised as the throne itself, and the
income derived from the sale of the catalogues alone is enormous. Then
the Academy has the handling of the Chantrey Bequest Funds, which it
does not fail to turn to its own advantage by buying pictures of
Academicians, which do not sell in the open market, at extravagant
prices, or purchasing pictures by future Academicians, and so
fostering, strengthening, and imposing on the public the standard of
art which obtains in Academic circles. Such, in a few brief words, is
the institution which controls and in a large measure directs the art
of this country. But though I come with no project to obtain its
dissolution, it seems to me interesting to consider the causes of the
hatred of the Academy with which artistic England is saturated,
oftentimes convulsed; and it may be well to ask if any institution,
however impregnable, can continue to defy public opinion, if any
sovereignty, however fortified by wealth and buttressed by
prescription, can continue to ignore and outrage the opinions of its
subjects?

The hatred of artistic England for the Academy proceeds from the
knowledge that the Academy is no true centre of art, but a mere
commercial enterprise protected and subventioned by Government. In
recent years every shred of disguise has been cast off, and it has
become patent to every one that the Academy is conducted on as purely
commercial principles as any shop in the Tottenham Court Road. For it
is impossible to suppose that Mr. Orchardson and Mr. Watts do not know
that Mr. Leader's landscapes are like tea-trays, that Mr. Dicksee's
figures are like bon-bon boxes, and that Mr. Herkomer's portraits are
like German cigars. But apparently the R.A.'s are merely concerned to
follow the market, and they elect the men whose pictures sell best in
the City. City men buy the productions of Mr. Herkomer, Mr. Dicksee,
Mr. Leader, and Mr. Goodall. Little harm would be done to art if the
money thus expended meant no more than filling stockbrokers'
drawing-rooms with bad pictures, but the uncontrolled exercise of the
stockbroker's taste in art means the election of a vast number of
painters to the Academy, and election to the Academy means certain
affixes, R.A. and A., and these signs are meant to direct opinion.

For when the ordinary visitor thinks a picture very bad, and finds
R.A. or A. after the painter's name, he concludes that he must be
mistaken, and so a false standard of art is created in the public
mind. But though Mr. Orchardson, Sir John Millais, Sir Frederick
Leighton, and Mr. Watts have voted for the City merchants' nominees,
it would be a mistake to suppose that they did not know for whom they
should have voted. It is to be questioned if there be an R. A. now
alive who would dare to deny that Mr. Whistler is a very great
painter. It was easy to say he was not in the old days when, under the
protection of Mr. Ruskin, the R.A.s went in a body and gave evidence
against him. But now even Mr. Jones, R.A., would not venture to repeat
the opinion he expressed about one of the most beautiful of the
nocturnes. Time, it is true, has silenced the foolish mouth of the
R.A., but time has not otherwise altered him; and there is as little
chance to-day as there was twenty years ago of Mr. Whistler being
elected an Academician.

No difference exists even in Academic circles as to the merits of Mr.
Albert Moore's work. Many Academicians will freely acknowledge that
his non-election is a very grave scandal; they will tell you that they
have done everything to get him elected, and have given up the task in
despair. Mr. Whistler and Mr. Albert Moore, the two greatest artists
living in England, will never be elected Academicians; and artistic
England is asked to acquiesce in this grave scandal, and also in many
minor scandals: the election of Mr. Dicksee in place of Mr. Henry
Moore, and Mr. Stanhope Forbes in place of Mr. Swan or Mr. John
Sargent! No one thinks Mr. Dicksee as capable an artist as Mr. Henry
Moore, and no one thinks Mr. Stanhope Forbes as great an artist as Mr.
Swan or Mr. Sargent. Then why were they elected? Because the men who
represent most emphatically the taste of the City have become so
numerous of late years in the Academy that they are able to keep out
any one whose genius would throw a doubt on the commonplace ideal
which they are interested in upholding. Mr. Alma Tadema would not care
to confer such a mark of esteem as the affix R.A. on any painter
practising an art which, when understood, would involve hatred of the
copyplate antiquity which he supplies to the public.

This explanation seems incredible, I admit, but no other explanation
is possible, for I repeat that the Academicians do not themselves deny
the genius of the men they have chosen to ignore. So we find the
Academy as a body working on exactly the same lines as the individual
R.A., whose one ambition is to extend his connection, please his
customers, and frustrate competition; and just as the capacity of the
individual R.A. declines when the incentive is money, so does the
corporate body lose its strength, and its hold on the art instincts of
the nation relaxes when its aim becomes merely mercenary enterprise.

If Sir John Millais, Sir Frederick Leighton, Mr. Orchardson, Mr. Hook,
and Mr. Watts were to die tomorrow, their places could be filled by
men who are not and never will be in the Academy; but among the
Associates there is no name that does not suggest a long decline: Mr.
Macbeth, Mr. Leader, Mr. David Murray, Mr. Stanhope Forbes, Mr. J.
MacWhirter. And are the coming Associates Mr. Hacker, Mr. Shannon, Mr.
Solomon, Mr. Alfred East, Mr. Bramley? Mr. Swan has been passed over
so many times that his election is beginning to seem doubtful. For
very shame's sake the elder Academicians may bring their influence and
insist on his election; but the City merchants' nominees are very
strong, and will not have him if they can help it. They may yield to
Mr. Swan, but no single inch further will it be possible to get them
to go. Mr. Mouat Loudan, Mr. Lavery, Mr. Mark Fisher, and Mr.
Peppercorn have no chance soever. Mr. Mouat Loudan, was rejected this
year. Mr. Lavery's charming portrait of Lord McLaren's daughters was
still more shamefully treated; it was "skied". Mr. Mark Fisher, most
certainly our greatest living landscape-painter, had his picture
refused; and Mr. Reid, a man who has received medals in every capital
in Europe, has had his principal picture hung just under the ceiling.

On varnishing-day Mr. Reid challenged Mr. Dicksee to give a reason for
this disgraceful hanging; he defied him to say that he thought the
pictures underneath were better pictures; and it is as impossible for
me as it was for Mr. Dicksee to deny that Mr. Reid's picture is the
best picture in Room 6. Mr. Peppercorn, another well-known artist, had
his picture rejected. It is now hanging in the Goupil Galleries. I do
not put it forward as a masterpiece, but I do say that it deserved a
place in any exhibition, and if I had a friend on the Hanging
Committee I would ask him to point to the landscapes on the Academy
walls which he considers better than Mr. Peppercorn's.

Often a reactionary says, "Name the good pictures that have been
rejected; where can I see them? I want to see these masterpieces,"
etc. The reactionary has generally the best of the argument. It is
difficult to name the pictures that have been refused; they are the
unknown quantity. Moreover, the pictures that are usually refused are
tentative efforts, and not mature work. But this year the opponents of
the Academy are able to cite some very substantial facts in support of
their position, a portrait by our most promising portrait-painter and
a landscape by the best landscape-painter alive in England having been
rejected. The picture of the farm-yard which Mr. Fisher exhibited at
the New English Art Club last autumn would not be out of place in the
National Gallery. I do not say that the rejected picture is as good--I
have not seen the rejected picture--but I do say that Mr. Fisher could
not paint as badly as nine-tenths of the landscapes hanging in the
Academy if he tried.

The Academy is sinking steadily; never was it lower than this year;
next year a few fine works may crop up, but they will be accidents,
and will not affect the general tendency of the exhibitions nor the
direction in which the Academy is striving to lead English art. Under
the guidanceship of the Academy English art has lost all that charming
naivete and simplicity which was so long its distinguishing mark. At
an Academy banquet, anything but the most genial optimism would be out
of place, and yet Sir Frederick Leighton could not but allude to the
disintegrating influence of French art. True, in the second part of
the sentence he assured his listeners that the danger was more
imaginary than real, and he hoped that with wider knowledge, etc. But
if no danger need be apprehended, why did Sir Frederick trouble to
raise the question? And if he apprehended danger and would save us
from it, why did he choose to ask his friend M. Bouguereau to exhibit
at the Academy?

The allusion in Sir Frederick's speech to French methods, and the
exhibition of a picture by M. Bouguereau in the Academy, is strangely
significant. For is not M. Bouguereau the chief exponent of the art
which Sir Frederick ventures to suggest may prove a disintegrating
influence in our art?--has proven would be a more correct phrase. Let
him who doubts compare the work of almost any of the elder
Academicians with the work of those who practise the square brushwork
of the French school. Compare, for instance, Sir Frederick's "Garden
of the Hesperides" with Mr. Solomon's "Orpheus", and then you will
appreciate the gulf that separates the elder Academicians from the men
already chosen and marked out for future Academicians. And him whom
this illustration does not convince I will ask to compare Mr. Hacker's
"Annunciation" with any picture by Mr. Frith, or Mr. Faed, I will even
go so far as to say with any work by Mr. Sidney Cooper, an
octogenarian, now nearer his ninetieth than his eightieth year.

It would have been better if Sir Frederick had told the truth boldly
at the Academy banquet. He knows that a hundred years will hardly
suffice to repair the mischief done by this detestable French
painting, this mechanical drawing and modelling, built up
systematically, and into which nothing of the artist's sensibility may
enter. Sir Frederick hinted the truth, and I do not think it will
displease him that I should say boldly what he was minded but did not
dare to say. The high position he occupies did not allow him to go
further than he did; the society of which he is president is now
irreparably committed to Anglo-French art, and has, by every recent
election, bound itself to uphold and impose this false and foreign art
upon the nation.

Out of the vast array of portraits and subject-pictures painted in
various styles and illustrating every degree of ignorance, stupidity,
and false education, one thing really comes home to the careful
observer, and that is, the steady obliteration of all English feeling
and mode of thought. The younger men practise an art purged of all
nationality. England lingers in the elder painters, and though the
representation is often inadequate, the English pictures are
pleasanter than the mechanical art which has spread from Paris all
over Europe, blotting out in its progress all artistic expression of
racial instincts and mental characteristics. Nothing, for instance,
can be more primitive, more infantile in execution, than Mr. Leslie's
"Rose Queen". But it seems to me superficial criticism to pull it to
pieces, for after all it suggests a pleasant scene, a stairway full of
girls in white muslin; and who does not like pretty girls dressed in
white muslin? And Mr. Leslie spares us the boredom of odious and
sterile French pedantry.

Mr. Waterhouse's picture of "Circe Poisoning the Sea" is an excellent
example of professional French painting. The drawing is planned out
geometrically, the modelling is built up mechanically. The brush,
filled with thick paint, works like a trowel. In the hands of the
Dutch and Flemish artists the brush was in direct communication with
the brain, and moved slowly or rapidly, changing from the broadest and
most emphatic stroke to the most delicate and fluent touch according
to the nature of the work. But here all is square and heavy. The
colour scheme, the blue dress and the green water--how theatrical, how
its richness reeks of the French studio! How cosmopolitan and pedantic
is this would-be romantic work!

But can we credit Mr. Dicksee with any artistic intention in the
picture he calls "Leila", hanging in the next room? I think not. Mr.
Dicksee probably thought that having painted what the critics would
call "somewhat sad subjects" last year, it would be well if he painted
something distinctly gay this year. A girl in a harem struck him as a
subject that would please every one, especially if he gave her a
pretty face, a pretty dress, and posed her in a graceful attitude. A
nice bright crimson was just the colour for the dress, the feet he
might leave bare, and it would be well to draw them from the plaster
cast--a pair of pretty feet would be sure to find favour with the
populace. It is impossible to believe that Mr. Dicksee was moved by
any deeper thought or impression when he painted this picture. The
execution is not quite so childlike and bland as Mr. Leslie's; it is
heavier and more stodgy. One is a cane chair from the Tottenham Court
Road, the other is a dining-room chair from the Tottenham Court Road.
In neither does any trace of French influence appear, and both
painters are City-elected Academicians.

A sudden thought.... Leader, Fildes, David Murray, Peter Graham,
Herkomer.... Then it is not the City that favours the French school,
but the Academy itself! And this shows how widely tastes may differ,
yet remain equally sundered from good taste. I believe the north and
the south poles are equidistant from the equator. Looking at Sir
Frederick Leighton's picture, entitled "At the Fountain", I am forced
to admit that, regarded as mere execution, it is quite as intolerably
bad as Mr. Dicksee's "Leila". And yet it is not so bad a picture,
because Sir Frederick's mind is a higher and better-educated mind than
Mr. Dicksee's; and therefore, however his hand may fail him, there
remains a certain habit of thought which always, even when worn and
frayed, preserves something of its original aristocracy. "The Sea
giving up its Dead" is an unpleasant memory of Michael Angelo. But in
"The Garden of the Hesperides" Sir Frederick is himself, and nothing
but himself. And the picture is so incontestably the work of an artist
that I cannot bring myself to inquire too closely into its
shortcomings. The merit of the picture is in the arabesque, which is
charming and original. The maidens are not dancing, but sitting round
their tree. On the right there is an olive, in the middle the usual
strawberry-cream, and on the left a purple drapery. The brown water in
the foreground balances the white sky most happily, and the faces of
the women recall our best recollections of Sir Frederick's work. In
the next room--Room 3--Mr. Watts exhibits a very incoherent work
entitled "She shall be called Woman".

The subject on which all of us are most nearly agreed--painters'
critics and the general public--is the very great talent of Mr. G. F.
Watts. Even the Chelsea studios unite in praising him. But were we
ever sincere in our praise of him as we are sincere in our praise of
Degas, Whistler, and Manet? And lately have we not begun to suspect
our praise to-day is a mere clinging to youthful admirations which
have no root in our present knowledge and aestheticisms? Perhaps the
time has come to say what we do really think of Mr. Watts. We think
that his very earliest pictures show, occasionally, the hand of a
painter; but for the last thirty years Mr. Watts seems to have been
undergoing transformation, and we see him now as a sort of cross
between an alchemist of old time and a book collector--his left hand
fumbling among the reds and blues of the old masters, his right
turning the pages of a dusty folio in search of texts for
illustration; a sort of a modern Veronese in treacle and gingerbread.
To judge him by what he exhibits this year would not be just. We will
select for criticism the celebrated portrait of Mrs. Percy Wyndham--in
which he has obviously tried to realise all his artistic ideals.

The first thing that strikes me on looking on this picture is the too
obvious intention of the painter to invent something that could not go
out of fashion. On sitting down to paint this picture the painter's
mind seems to have been disturbed with all sorts of undetermined
notions concerning the eternal Beautiful, and the formula discovered
by the Venetian for its complete presentation. "The Venetians gave us
the eternal Beautiful as civilisation presents it. Why not select in
modern life all that corresponds to the Venetian formulae; why not
profit by their experience in the selection I am called upon to make?"

So do I imagine the painter's desire, and certainly the picture is
from end to end its manifestation. Laurel leaves form a background for
the head, and a large flower-vase is in the right-hand corner, and a
balustrade is on the right; and this Anglo-Venetian lady is attired in
a rich robe, brown, with green shades, and heavily embroidered; her
elbow is leaned on a pedestal in a manner that shows off the
plenitudes of the forearm, and for pensive dignity the hand is raised
to the face. It is a noble portrait, and tells the story of a lifelong
devotion to art, and yet it is difficult to escape from the suspicion
that we are not very much interested, and that we find its compound
beauty a little insipid. In avoiding the fashion of his day Mr. Watts
seems to me to have slipped into an abstraction. The mere leaving out
every accent that marks a dress as belonging to a particular epoch
does not save it from going out of fashion. It is in the execution
that the great artists annihilated the whim of temporary taste, and
made the hoops of old time beautiful, however slim the season's
fashions. To be of all time the artist must begin by being of his own
time; and if he would find the eternal type he must seek it in his own
parish.

The painters of old Venice were entirely concerned with _l'idee
plastique_, but on this point the art of Mr. Watts is a repudiation of
the art of his masters. Abstract conceptions have been this long while
a constant source of pollution in his work. Here, even in his
treatment of the complexion, he seems to have been impelled by some
abstract conception rather than by a pictorial sense of harmony and
contrast, and partly for this reason his synthesis is not beautiful,
like the conventional silver-grey which Velasquez used so often, or
the gold-brown skins of Titian's women. The hand tells what was
passing in the mind, and seeing that ugly shadow which marks the nose
I know that the painter was not then engaged with the joy of purely
material creation; had he been he could not have rested satisfied with
so ugly a statement of a beautiful fact. And the forehead, too, where
it comes into light, where it turns into shadow; the cheek, too, with
its jawbone, and the evasive modelling under and below the eyes, are
summarily rendered, and we think perforce of the supple, flowing
modelling, so illusive, apparent only in the result, with which Titian
would have achieved that face. Manet, an incomplete Hals, might have
failed to join the planes, and in his frankness left out what he had
not sufficiently observed; but he would have compensated us with a
beautiful tone.

For an illustration of Mr. Watts' drawing we will take the picture of
"Love and Death", perhaps the most pictorially significant of all Mr.
Watts' designs. The enormous figure of Death advances impressively
with right arm raised to force the door which a terrified Love would
keep closed against him. The figure of Death is draped in grey, the
colour that Mr. Watts is most in sympathy with and manages best. But
the upper portion of the figure is vast, and the construction beneath
the robe too little understood for it not to lack interest; and in the
raised arm and hand laid against the door, where power and delicacy of
line were indispensable for the pictorial beauty of the picture, we
are vouchsafed no more than a rough statement of rudimentary fact.
Love is thrown back against the door, his right arm raised, his right
leg advanced in action of resistance to the intruder. The movement is
well conceived, and we regret that so summary a line should have been
thought sufficient expression. Any one who has ever held a pencil in a
school of art knows how a young body, from armpit to ankle-bone, flows
with lovely line. Any one who has been to the Louvre knows the passion
with which Ingres would follow this line, simplifying it and drawing
it closer until it surpassed all melody. But in Mr. Watts' picture the
boy's natural beauty is lost in a coarse and rough planing out that
tells of an eye that saw vaguely and that wearied, and in an execution
full of uncertain touch and painful effort. Unless the painter is
especially endowed with the instinct of anatomies, the sentiment of
proportion, and a passion for form, the nude is a will-o'-the-wisp,
whose way leads where he may not follow. No one suspects Mr. Watts of
one of these qualifications; he appears even to think them of but
slight value, and his quest of the allegorical seems to be merely
motived by an unfortunate desire to philosophise.

As a colourist Mr. Watts is held in high esteem, and it is as a
colourist that his admirers consider his claim to the future to be
best founded. Beautiful passages of colour are frequently to be met
with in his work, and yet it would be difficult to say what colour
except grey he has shown any mastery over. A painter may paint with an
exceedingly reduced palette, like Chardin, and yet be an exquisite
colourist. To colour well does not consist in the employment of bright
colours, but in the power of carrying the dominant note of colour
through the entire picture, through the shadows as well as the
half-tints, and Chardin's grey we find everywhere, in the bloom of a
peach as well as in a decanter of rich wine; and how tender and
persuasive it is! Mr. Watts' grey would seem coarse, common,
uninteresting beside it. Reds and blues and yellows do not disappear
from Mr. Watts' palette as they do from Rembrandt's; they are there,
but they are usually so dirtied that they appear like a monochrome.
Can we point to any such fresh, beautiful red as the scarf that the
"Princesse des Pays de la Porcelaine" wears about that grey which
would have broken Chardin's heart with envy? Can we point to any blue
in Mr. Watts' as fresh and as beautiful as the blue carpet under the
Princess's feet?

With what Mr. Watts paints it is impossible to say. On one side an
unpleasant reddish brown, scrubbed till it looks like a mud-washed
rock; on the other a crumbling grey, like the rind of a Stilton
cheese. The nude figure in the reeds--the picture purchased for the
Chantrey Fund collection--will serve for illustration. It is clearly
the work of a man with something incontestably great in his soul, but
why should so beautiful a material as oil paint be transformed into a
crumbly substance like--I can think of nothing else but the rind of a
Stilton cheese. Mr. Watts and Mr. Burne-Jones seem to have convinced
themselves that imaginative work can only be expressed in wool-work
and gum. A strange theory, for which I find no authority, even if I
extend my inquiry as far back as Mantegna and Botticelli. True, that
the method of these painters is archaic, the lights are narrowed, and
the shadows broadened; nevertheless, their handling of oil colour is
nearer to Titian's than either Mr. Watts' or Mr. Burne-Jones'.

It is one of the platitudes of art criticism to call attention to the
length of the necks of Rossetti's women, and thereby to infer that the
painter could not draw. True, Rossetti was not a skilful draughtsman,
but not because the necks of his women are too long. The relation
between good drawing and measurement is slight. The first quality in
drawing, without which drawing does not exist, is an individual seeing
of the object. This Rossetti most certainly had; there his
draughtsmanship began and ended. But the question lies rather with
handling than with drawing, and Rossetti sometimes handled paint very
skilfully. The face and hair of the half-length Venus surrounded with
roses is excellent in quality; the roses and the honeysuckle are quite
beautiful in quality; they are fresh and bright, pure in colour, as if
they had just come from the garden. The "Annunciation" in the National
Gallery is a little sandy, but it cannot be said to be bad in quality,
as Mr. Watts' and Mr. Jones' pictures are bad. Every Rossetti is at
least clearly recognisable as an oil painting.

In the same room there is Mr. Orchardson's picture of "Napoleon
dictating the Account of his Campaigns". I gather from my notes the
trace of the disappointment that this picture caused me. "Two small
figures in a large canvas. The secretary sits on the right at a small
table. He looks up, his face turned towards Napoleon, who stands on
the left in the middle of the picture, looking down, studying the maps
with which the floor is strewn. A great simplicity in the
surroundings, and all the points of character insisted on, with the
view of awakening the spectator's curiosity. From first to last a
vicious desire to narrate an anecdote. It is strange that a man of Mr.
Orchardson's talent should participate so fully in the supreme vice of
modern art which believes a picture to be the same thing as a scene in
a play. The whole picture conceived and executed in that pale yellow
tint which seems to be the habitual colour of Mr. Orchardson's mind."
A pity, indeed it is that Mr. Orchardson should waste very real talent
in narratives, for he is a great portrait painter. I remember very
well that beautiful portrait of his wife and child, and will take this
opportunity to recall it. It is the finest thing he has done; finer
than the portrait of Mr. Gilbey. Here, in a few words, is the subject
of the picture. An old-fashioned cane sofa stretches right across the
canvas. A lady in black is seated on the right; she bends forward, her
left arm leaning over the back of the sofa; she holds in her hand a
Japanese hand-screen. The fine and graceful English profile is
modelled without vulgar roundness, _un beau modele a plat_; and the
black hair is heavy and loose, one lock slipping over the forehead.
The painter has told the exact character of the hair as he has told
the character of the hand, and the age of the hand and hair is
evident. She is a woman of five-and-thirty, she is interested in her
baby, her first baby, as a woman of that age would be. The baby lies
on a woollen rug and cushion, just beneath the mother's eyes; the
colour of both is a reddish yellow. He holds up his hands for the
hand-screen that the mother waves about him. The strip of background
about the yellow cane-work is grey-green; there is a vase of dried
ferns and grasses on the left, and the whole picture is filled and
penetrated with the affection and charm of English home-life, and
without being disfigured with any touch of vulgar or commonplace
sentimentality. The baby's face is somewhat hard; it is, perhaps, the
least satisfactory thing in the picture. The picture is wanting in
that totality which we find in the greatest masters--for instance, in
that exquisite portrait of a mother and child by Sir Joshua Reynolds,
exhibited this year in the Guildhall--that beautiful portrait of the
mother holding out her babe at arms'-length above her knee.

Room 4 is remarkable for Stanhope Forbes' picture of "Forging the
Anchor". Mr. Stanhope Forbes is the last-elected Academician, and the
most prominent exponent of the art of Bastien-Lepage. Perhaps the most
instructive article that could be written on the Academy would be one
in which the writer would confine his examination to this and Mr.
Clausen's picture of "Mowers", comparing and contrasting the two
pictures at every point, showing where they diverge, and tracing their
artistic history back to its ultimate source. But to do this
thoroughly would be to write the history of the artistic movement in
France and England for the last thirty years; and I must limit myself
to pointing out that Mr. Clausen has gone back to first principles,
whereas Mr. Stanhope Forbes still continues at the point where
Bastien-Lepage began to curtail, deform, and degrade the original
inspiration. Mr. Clausen, I said, overcame the difficulty of the
trousers by generalisation. Mr. Stanhope Forbes copied the trousers
seam by seam, patch by patch; and the ugliness of the garment bores
you in the picture, exactly as it would in nature. And the same
criticism applies equally well to the faces, the hands, the leather
aprons, the loose iron, the hammers, the pincers, the smoked walls. I
should not be surprised to learn that Mr. Stanhope Forbes had had a
forge built up in his studio, and had copied it all as it stood. A
handful of dry facts instead of a passionate impression of life in its
envelope of mystery and suggestion.

Realism, that is to say the desire to compete with nature, to be
nature, is the disease from which art has suffered most in the last
twenty years. The disease is now at wane, and when we happen upon a
canvas of the period like "Labourers after Dinner", we cry out, "What
madness! were we ever as mad as that?" The impressionists have been
often accused of a desire to dispense with the element of beauty, but
the accusation has always seemed to me to be quite groundless, and
even memory of a certain portrait by Mr. Walter Sickert does not cause
me to falter in this opinion. Until I saw Mr. Clausen's "Labourers" I
did not fully realise how terrible a thing art becomes when divorced
from beauty, grace, mystery, and suggestion. It would be difficult to
say where and how this picture differs from a photograph; it seems to
me to be little more than the vices of photography magnified. Having
spoken so plainly, it is necessary that I should explain myself.

The subject of this picture is a group of field labourers finishing
their mid-day dinner in the shade of some trees. They are portrayed in
a still even light, exactly as they were; the picture is one long
explanation; it is as clear as a newspaper, and it reads like one. We
can tell how many months that man in the foreground has worn those
dreadful hobnailed boots; we can count the nails, and we notice that
two or three are missing. Those disgusting corduroy trousers have hung
about his legs for so many months; all the ugliness of these
labourers' faces and the solid earthiness of their lives are there;
nothing has been omitted, curtailed, or exaggerated. There is some
psychology. We see that the years have brought the old man cunning
rather than wisdom. The middle-aged man and the middle-aged woman live
in mute stupidity--they have known nothing but the daily hardship of
living, and the vacuous face of their son tells how completely the
life of his forefathers has descended upon him. Here there is neither
the foolish gaiety of Teniers' peasants nor the vicious animality of
Brouwers'; and it is hardly necessary to say that the painter has seen
nothing of the legendary patriarchal beauty and solemnity which lends
so holy a charm to Millet's Breton folk. Mr. Clausen has seen nothing
but the sordid and the mean, and his execution in this picture is as
sordid and as mean as his vision. There is not a noble gesture
expressive of weariness nor an attitude expressive of resignation. Mr.
Clausen seems to have said, "I will go lower than the others; I will
seek my art in the mean and the meaningless." But notwithstanding his
very real talent, Mr. Clausen has not found art where art is not,
where art never has been found, where art never will be found.

Looking at this picture, the ordinary man will say, "If such ugliness
as that exists, I don't want to see it. Why paint such subjects?" And
at least the first part of this criticism seems to me to be quite
incontrovertible. I can imagine no valid reason for the portrayal of
so much ugliness; and, what is more important, I can find among the
unquestioned masters no slightest precedent for the blank realism of
this picture. The ordinary man's aversion to such ugliness seems to me
to be entirely right, and I only join issue with him when he says,
"Why paint such subjects?" Why not? For all subjects contain elements
of beauty; ugliness does not exist for the eye that sees beautifully,
and meanness vanishes if the sensation is a noble one. Have not the
very subjects which Mr. Clausen sees so meanly, and which he degrades
below the level even of the photograph, been seen nobly, and have they
not been rendered incomparably touching, even august, by----Well, the
whole world knows by whom. But it will be said that Mr, Clausen
painted these people as he saw them. I dare say he did; but if he
could not see these field-folk differently, he should have abstained
from painting them.

The mission of art is not truth, but beauty; and I know of no great
work--I will go even further, I know no even tolerable work--in
literature or in painting in which the element of beauty does not
inform the intention. Art is surely but a series of conventions which
enable us to express our special sense of beauty--for beauty is
everywhere, and abounds in subtle manifestations. Things ugly in
themselves become beautiful by association; or perhaps I should say
that they become picturesque. The slightest insistance in a line will
redeem and make artistically interesting the ugliest face. Look at
Degas' ballet-girls, and say if, artistically, they are not beautiful.
I defy you to say that they are mean. Again, an alteration in the
light and shade will create beautiful pictures among the meanest brick
buildings that ever were run up by the jerry-builder. See the violet
suburb stretching into the golden sunset. How exquisite it has become!
how full of suggestion and fairy tale! A picturesque shadow will
redeem the squalor of the meanest garret, and the subdued light of the
little kitchen where the red-petticoated housewife is sweeping must
contrast so delicately with the white glare of the brick yard where
the neighbour stands in parley, leaning against the doorpost, that the
humble life of the place is transformed and poetised. This was the ABC
of Dutch art; it was the Dutchmen who first found out that with the
poetising aid of light and shade the meanest and most commonplace
incidents of every-day life could be made the subjects of pictures.

There are no merits in painting except technical merits; and though my
criticism of Mr. Clausen's picture may at first sight seem to be a
literary criticism, it is in truth a strictly technical criticism. For
Mr. Clausen has neglected the admirable lessons which our Dutch
cousins taught us two hundred years ago; he has neglected to avail
himself of those principles of chiaroscuro which they perfected, and
which would have enabled him to redeem the grossness, the ugliness,
the meanness inherent in his subject. I said that he had gone further,
in abject realism, than a photograph. I do not think I have
exaggerated. It is not probable that those peasants would look so ugly
in a photograph as they do in his picture. For had they been
photographed, the chances are that some shadow would have clothed,
would have hid, something, and a chance gleam might have concentrated
the attention on some particular spot. Nine times out of ten the
exposure of the plate would not have taken place in a moment of flat
grey light.

But it is the theory of Mr. Clausen and his school that it is right
and proper to take a six-foot canvas into the open, and paint the
entire picture from Nature. But when the sun is shining, it is not
possible to paint for more than an hour--an hour and a half at most.
At the end of that time the shadows have moved so much that the effect
is wholly different. But on a grey day it is possible to paint on the
same picture for four or five hours. Hence the preference shown by
this school for grey days. Then the whole subject is seen clearly,
like a newspaper; and the artist, if he is a realist, copies every
patch on the trousers, and does not omit to tell us how many nails
have fallen from the great clay-stained boots. Pre-Raphaelitism is
only possible among august and beautiful things, when the subjects of
the pictures are Virgins and angels, and the accessories are marbles,
agate columns, Persian carpets, gold enwoven robes and vestments,
ivories, engraven metals, pearls, velvets and silks, and when the
object of the painter is to convey a sensation of the beauty of these
materials by the luxury and beauty of the workmanship. The common
workaday world, with accessories of tin pots and pans, corduroy
breeches and clay-pipes, can be only depicted by a series of ellipses
through a mystery of light and shade.

Beauty of some sort there must be in a work of art, and the very
conditions under which Mr. Clausen painted precluded any beauty from
entering into his picture. But this year Mr. Clausen seems to have
shaken himself free from his early education, and he exhibits a
picture, conceived in an entirely different spirit, in this Academy.
Turning to my notes I find it thus described: "A small canvas
containing three mowers in a flowering meadow. Two are mowing; the
third, a little to the left, sharpens his scythe. The sky is deep and
lowering--a sultry summer day, a little unpleasant in colour, but
true. At the end of the meadow the trees gleam. The earth is wrapped
in a hot mist, the result of the heat, and through it the sun sheds a
somewhat diffused and oven-like heat. There are heavy clouds overhead,
for the gleam that passes over the three white shirts is transitory
and uncertain. The handling is woolly and unpleasant, but handling can
be overlooked when a canvas exhales a deep sensation of life. The
movement of mowing--I should have said movements, for the men mow
differently; one is older than the other--is admirably expressed. And
the principal figure, though placed in the immediate foreground, is in
and not out of the atmosphere. The difficulty of the trousers has been
overcome by generalisation; the garment has not been copied patch by
patch. The distribution of light is admirable; nowhere does it escape
from the frame. J. F. Millet has painted many a worse picture."

Mr. Solomon and Mr. Hacker have both turned to mythology for the
subjects of their pictures. And the beautiful and touching legends of
Orpheus, and the Annunciation, have been treated by them with the
indifference of "our special artist", who places the firemen on the
right, the pump on the left, and the blazing house in the middle of
the picture. These pictures are therefore typical of a great deal of
historical painting of our time; and I speak of them because they give
me an opportunity of pointing out that before deciding to treat a page
of history or legend, the painter should come to conclusions with
himself regarding the goal which he desires to obtain. There are but
two.

Either the legend passes unperceived in pomp of colour and wealth of
design, or the picture is a visible interpretation of the legend. The
Venetians were able to disregard the legend, but in centuries less
richly endowed with pictorial genius painters are inclined to support
their failing art with the psychological interest their imaginations
draw from it. But imaginative interpretation should not be confused
with bald illustration. The Academicians cannot understand why, if we
praise "Dante seeing Beatrice in a Dream", we should vilify Mr.
Fildes' "Doctor". In both cases a story is told, in neither case is
the execution excellent. Why then should one be a picture and the
other no more than a bald illustration? The question is a vexed one,
and the only conclusion that we can draw seems to be that
sentimentality pollutes, the anecdote degrades, wit altogether ruins;
only great thought may enter into art. Rossetti is a painter we
admire, and we place him above Mr. Fildes, because his interpretations
are more imaginative. We condone his lack of pictorial power, because
he could think, and we appreciate his Annunciation--the "Ecce Ancilla
Domini!" in the National Gallery, principally because he has looked
deep into the legend, and revealed its true and human significance.

It is a small picture, about three feet by two, and is destitute of
all technical accomplishment, or even habit. It is painted in white
and blue, and the streak of red in the foreground, the red of a screen
on which is embroidered the lily--emblem of purity--adds to the chill
and coldness. Drawn up upon her white bed the Virgin crouches, silent
with expectation, listening to the mystic dream that has come upon her
in the dim hush of dawn. The large blue eyes gleam with some strange
joy that is quickening in her. The mouth and chin tell no tale, but
the eyes are deep pools of light, and mirror the soul that is on fire
within. The red hair falls about her, a symbol of the soul. In the
drawn-up knees, faintly outlined beneath the white sheet, the painter
hints at her body's beauty. One arm is cast forward, the hand not
clenched but stricken. Behind her a blue curtain hangs straight from
iron rods set on either side of the bed. Above the curtain a lamp is
burning dimly, blighted by the pallor of the dawn. A dead, faint
sky--the faint ashen sky which precedes the first rose tint; the
circular window is filled with it, and the paling blue of the sky's
colour contrasts with the deep blue of the bed's curtain, on which the
Virgin's red hair is painted.

The angel stands by the side of the white bed--I should say floats,
his fair feet hanging out of a few pale flames. White raiment clothes
him, falling in long folds, leaving the arms and feet bare; in the
right hand he holds a lily all in blossom; the left hand is extended
in rigid gesture of warning. Brown-gold hair grows thick about the
angel's neck; the shadowed profile is outlined against the hard, sad
sky; the expression of the face is deep and sphinx-like; he has come,
it is clear, from vast realms of light, where uncertainty and doubt
are unknown. The Dove passes by him towards the Virgin. Look upon her
again, crouching in her white bed, her knees drawn to her bosom, her
deep blue eyes--her dawn-tinted eyes--filled with ache, dream, and
expectation. The shadows of dawn are on wall and floor--strange, blue
shadows!--the Virgin's shadow lies on the wall, the angel's shadow
falls across the coverlet.

Here, at least, there is drama, and the highest form of
drama--spiritual drama; here, at least, there is story, and the
highest form of story--symbol and suggestion. Rossetti has revealed
the essence of this intensely human story--a story that, whenever we
look below the surface, which is mediaeval and religious, we recognise
as a story of to-day, of yesterday, of all time. A girl thralled by
the mystery of conception awakes at morn in palpitations, seeing
visions.

Mr. Hacker's telling of the legend is to Rossetti's what a story in
the _London Journal_ is to a story by Balzac. The Virgin has
apparently wandered outside the town. She is dressed in a long white
garment neither beautiful nor explicit: is it a nightdress, or a piece
of conventional drapery? On the right there is a long, silly tree,
which looks as if it had been evolved out of a ball of green wool with
knitting-needles, and above her floats an angel attired in a wisp of
blue gauze. Rossetti, we know, was, in the strict sense of the word,
hardly a painter at all, but he had something to say; and we can bear
in painting, as we can in literature, with faulty expression, if there
is something behind it. What is most intolerable in art is scholastic
rodomontade. And what else is Mr. Hacker's execution? In every
transmission the method seems to degenerate, and in this picture it
seems to have touched bottom. It has become loose, all its original
crispness is lost, and, complicated with _la peinture claire_, it
seems incapable of expressing anything whatsoever. There is no variety
of tone in that white sheet, there is nobody inside it, and the angel
is as insincere and frivolous as any sketch in a young lady's album.
The building at the back seems to have been painted with the scrapings
of a dirty palette, and the sky in the left-hand corner comes out of
the picture. I have only to add that the picture has been purchased
out of the Chantry Bequest Fund, and the purchase is considered to be
equivalent to a formal declaration that Mr. Hacker will be elected an
Associate of the Royal Academy at the next election.

Mr. Hacker's election to the Academy--I speak of this election as a
foregone conclusion--following as it does the election of Mr. Stanhope
Forbes, makes it plain that the intention of the Academy is to support
to the full extent of its great power a method of painting which is
foreign and unnatural to English art, which, in the opinion of a large
body of artists--and it is valuable to know that their opinion is
shared by the best and most original of the French artists--is
disintegrating and destroying our English artistic tradition. Mr.
Hacker's election, and the three elections that will follow it, those
of Mr. Shannon, Mr. Alfred East, and Mr. Bromley, will be equivalent
to an official declaration that those who desire to be English
Academicians must adopt the French methods. Independent of the
national disaster that these elections will inflict on art, they will
be moreover flagrant acts of injustice. For I repeat, among the forty
Academicians there is not one who considers these future Academicians
to be comparable to Mr. Whistler, Mr. Albert Moore, Mr. Swan, or Mr.
Sargent. No one holds such an opinion, and yet there is no doubt which
way the elections in the Academy will go.

The explanation of this incredible anomaly I have given, the
explanation is not a noble one, but that is not a matter for which I
can be held responsible; suffice it to say, that my explanation is the
only possible explanation. The Academy is a private commercial
enterprise, and conducts its business on the lines which it considers
the most advantageous; its commercialism has become flagrant and
undeniable. If this is so--how the facts can otherwise be explained I
cannot see--it is to be regretted that the Academy got its beautiful
site for nothing. But regrets are vain. The only thing to do now is to
see that the Academy is no longer allowed to sail under false colours.
This article may awaken in the Academy a sense that it is not well to
persist in open and flagrant defiance of public opinion, or it may
serve to render the Academicians even more stiff-necked than before.
In either case it will have accomplished its purpose.

THE ORGANISATION OF ART.

No fact is more painful to the modern mind than that men are not born
with equal brains; and every day we grow more and more determined to
thwart Nature's desire of inequality by public education. Whether
everybody should be taught to read and write I leave to
politicians--the matter is not important; but that the nation should
not be instructed in drawing, music, painting, and English literature
I will never cease to maintain. Everything that has happened in
England for the last thirty years goes to prove that systematised
education in art means artistic decadence.

To the ordinary mind there is something very reassuring in the words
institutions, professors, examinations, medals, and titles of all
kinds. All these things have been given of late years to art, and
parents and guardians need no longer have any fear for those confided
to their charge: the art of painting has been recognised as a
profession! The principal institution where this profession is
practised is called the Royal Academy. It owes its existence to the
taste of a gentleman known as George the Third, and it has been
dowered by the State to the extent of at least three hundred thousand
pounds. Professors from Oxford, even bishops, dine there. The members
of this institution put R.A. after their names; the president has been
made a baronet; there was even a rumour that he was going to be made a
lord, and that he was not we must consider as another blow dealt
against the dignity of art.

Literature does not offer so much scope for organisation as painting;
but strenuous efforts are being made to organise it, and, by the aid
of academies, examinations, and crowns, hopes are entertained that,
before long, it will be brought into line with the other professions.
And the journalists too are anxious to "erect their craft to the
dignity of a profession which shall confer upon its members _certain
social status_ like that of the barrister and lawyer". Entrance is to
be strictly conditional; no one is to have a right to practice without
a diploma, and members are to be entitled to certain letters after
their names. A movement is on foot to Churton-Collinise English
literature at the universities, and every month Mr. Walter Besant
raises a wail in the _Author_ that the peerage is not as open to
three-volume novelists as it is to brewers. He bewails the fact that
no eminent man of letters, with the exception of Lord Tennyson, has
been made the enforced associate of brewers and politicians. Mr.
Besant does not think that titles in these democratic days are foolish
and absurd, pitiful in the personality of those who own them by
inheritance, grotesque in the personality of those on whom they have
been conferred. Mr. Besant does not see that the desire of the baker,
the brewer, the butcher, and I may add the three-volume novelist, to
be addressed by small tradesmen and lackeys as "yer lordship", raises
a smile on the lips even of the most _blase_.

I am advocating an unpopular _regime_ I know, for the majority believe
that art is in Queer Street if new buildings are not being raised, if
official recognition of merits is not proclaimed, and if the
newspapers do not teem with paragraphs concerning the homes of the
Academicians. The wailing and gnashing of teeth that were heard when
an intelligent portion of the Press induced Mr. Tate to withdraw his
offer to build a gallery and furnish it with pictures by Messrs.
Herkomer, Fildes, Leader, Long, are not forgotten. It was not urged
that the pictures were valuable pictures; the merit or demerit of the
pictures was not what interested, but the fact that a great deal of
money was going to be spent, and that titles, badges, medals, crowns,
would be given to those whose pictures were enshrined in the new
temple of art. The Tate Gallery touched these folk as would an
imposing review of troops, a procession of judges, or a coronation in
Westminster Abbey. Their senses were tickled by the prospect of a
show, their minds were stirred by some idea of organisation--something
was about to be organised, and nothing appeals so much to the vulgar
mind as organisation.

An epoch is represented by a word, and to organise represents the
dominant idea of our civilisation. To organise is to be respectable,
and as every one wants to be respectable, every one dreams of new
schemes of organisation. Soldiers, sailors, policemen, members of
parliament, independent voters, clerks in the post office, bus
drivers, dockers, every imaginable variety of worker, domestic
servants--it is difficult to think of any class that has not been
organised of late years.

There is a gentleman in parliament who is anxious to do something in
the way of social organisation for the gipsies. The gipsies have not
appealed to him; they have professed no desire to have their social
status raised; they have, I believe, disclaimed through their king,
whoever he may be, all participation in the scheme of this benevolent
gentleman. Nor does any sense of the absurdity of his endeavour blight
the worthy gentleman's ardour. How should it? He, like the other
organisers, is an unreasoning instrument in a great tendency of
things. To organise something--or, put it differently, to educate
some one--is to day every man's ambition. So long as it is not
himself, it matters no jot to him whom he educates. The gipsy under
the hedge, the artist painting under a hill, it matters not. A
technical school of instruction would enable the gipsy to harness his
horse better than he does at present; and the artist would paint much
better if he were taught to stipple, and examined by salaried
professors in stipple, and given prizes for stippling. The general
mind of our century is with education and organisation of every kind,
and from this terrible general mind art seems unable to escape. Art,
that poor little gipsy whose very condition of existence is freedom,
who owns no code of laws, who evades all regulations, who groups
himself under no standard, who can live only in disastrous times, when
the world's attention is drawn to other things, and allows him life in
shelter of the hedges, and dreams in sight of the stars, finds himself
forced into a uniform--poor little fellow, how melancholy he looks on
his high stool in the South Kensington Museum, and notwithstanding the
professors his hand drops from the drawing-board, unable to accomplish
the admired stipple.

But solemn members of parliament are certain that official recognition
must be extended to art. Art is an educational influence, and the
Kensington galleries are something more than agreeable places, where
sweethearts can murmur soft nothings under divine masterpieces. The
utilitarian M.P. must find some justification for art; he is not
sensible enough to understand that art justifies its own existence,
that it is its own honour and glory; and he nourishes a flimsy lie,
and votes that large sums of money shall be spent in endowing schools
of art and founding picture galleries. Then there is another
class--those who have fish to fry, and to whom art seems a convenient
frying-pan. Mr. Tate craves for a museum to be called Tate's; or, if
his princely gift gained him a title, which it may, the museum would
be called--What would be an appropriate name? There are men too who
have trifles to sell, and they talk loudly of the glories of modern
art, and the necessity of a British Luxembourg.

That France should have a Luxembourg is natural enough; that we should
have one would be anomalous. We are a free-trading country. I pass
over the failure of the Luxembourg to recognise genius, to save the
artist of genius a struggle with insolent ignorance. What did the
Luxembourg do for Corot, Millet, Manet, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Sisley,
Pissaro? The Luxembourg chose rather to honour such pretentious
mediocrities as Bouguereau, Jules Lefebvre, Jules Breton, and their
like. What has our Academy done to rescue struggling genius from
poverty and obscurity? Did it save Alfred Stevens, the great sculptor
of his generation, from the task of designing fire-irons? How often
did the Academy refuse Cecil Lawson's pictures? When they did accept
him, was it not because he had become popular in spite of the Academy?
Did not the Academy refuse Mr. Whistler's portrait of his mother, and
was it not hung at the last moment owing to a threat of one of the
Academicians to resign if a place was not found for it? Place was
found for it seven feet above the line. Has not the Academy for the
last five-and-twenty years lent the whole stress and authority of its
name to crush Mr. Whistler? Happily his genius was sufficient for the
fight, and it was not until he had conquered past all question that he
left this country. The record of the Academy is a significant one. But
if it has exercised a vicious influence in art, its history is no
worse than that of other academies. Here, as elsewhere, the Academy
has tolerated genius when it was popular, and when it was not popular
it has trampled upon it.

We have Free Trade in literature, why should we not have Free Trade in
art? Why should not every artist go into the market without title or
masquerade that blinds the public to the value of what he has to sell?
I would turn art adrift, titleless, R.A.-less, out into the street and
field, where, under the light of his original stars, the impassioned
vagrant might dream once more, and for the mere sake of his dreams.

ART AND SCIENCE.

"Mr. Goschen," said a writer in a number of the _Speaker_, "deserves
credit for having successfully resisted the attempt to induce him to
sacrifice the interests of science at South Kensington to those of
art." An excellent theme it seemed to me for an article; but the
object of the writer being praise of Mr. Tate for his good intention,
the opportunity was missed of distinguishing between the false claims
of art and the real claims of science to public patronage and
protection. True it is that to differentiate between art and science
is like drawing distinctions between black and white; and in excuse I
must plead the ordinary vagueness and weakness of the public mind, its
inability very often to differentiate between things the most opposed,
and a very general tendency to attempt to justify the existence of art
on the grounds of utility--that is to say, educational influences and
the counter attraction that a picture gallery offers to the
public-house on Bank Holidays. Such reasoning is well enough at
political meetings, but it does not find acceptance among thinkers. It
is merely the flower of foolish belief that nineteenth century wisdom
is greater than the collective instinct of the ages; that we are far
in advance of our forefathers in religion, in morals, and in art. We
are only in advance of our forefathers in science. In art we have done
little more than to spoil good canvas and marble, and not content with
such misdeeds, we must needs insult art by attributing to her
utilitarian ends and moral purposes.

Modern puritanism dares not say abolish art; so in thinly disguised
speech it is pleaded that art is not nearly so useless as might easily
be supposed; and it is often seriously urged that art may be
reconciled after all with the most approved principles of
humanitarianism, progress, and religious belief. Such is still the
attitude of many Englishmen towards art. But art needs none of these
apologists, even if we have to admit that the domestic utility of a
Terburg is not so easily defined as that of mixed pickles or
umbrellas. Another serious indictment is that art appeals rather to
the few than to the many. True, indeed; and yet art is the very spirit
and sense of the many. Yes; and all that is most national in us, all
that is most sublime, and all that is most imperishable. The art of a
nation is an epitome of the nation's intelligence and prosperity.
There is no such thing as cosmopolitanism in art? alas! there is, and
what a pitiful thing that thing is.

Unhappy is he who forgets the morals, the manners, the customs, the
material and spiritual life of his country! England can do without any
one of us, but not one of us can do without England. Study the
question in the present, study it in the past, and you will find but
one answer to your question--art is nationhood. All the great artistic
epochs have followed on times of national enthusiasm, power, energy,
spiritual and corporal adventure. When Greece was divided into
half-a-dozen States she produced her greatest art. The same with
Italy; and Holland, after having rivalled Greece in heroic effort,
gave birth in the space of a single generation to between twenty and
thirty great painters. And did not our Elizabethan drama follow close
upon the defeat of the Armada, the discovery of America, and the
Reformation? And did not Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Romney begin to
paint almost immediately after the victories of Marlborough? To-day
our empire is vast, and as our empire grows so does our art lessen.
Literature still survives, though even there symptoms of decadence are
visible. The Roman, the Chinese, and the Mahometan Empires are not
distinguished for their art. But outside of the great Chinese Empire
there lies a little State called Japan, which, without knowledge of
Egypt or Greece, purely out of its own consciousness, evolved an art
strangely beautiful and wholly original.

And as we continue to examine the question we become aware that no
further progress in art is possible; that art reached its apogee two
thousand five hundred years ago. True that Michael Angelo in the
figures of "Day" and "Night", in the "Slave", in the "Moses", and in
the "Last Judgment"--which last should be classed as sculpture--stands
very, very close indeed to Phidias; his art is more complete and less
perfect. But three hundred years have gone since the death of Michael
Angelo, and to get another like him the world would have to be steeped
in the darkness of another Middle Age. And, passing on in our inquiry,
we notice that painting reached its height immediately after Michael
Angelo's death. Who shall rival the splendours, the profusion of
Veronese, the opulence of Tintoretto, the richness of Titian, the pomp
of Rubens? Or who shall challenge the technical beauty of Velasquez or
of Hals, or the technical dexterity of Terburg, or Metzu, or Dow, or
Adrian van Ostade? Passing on once again, we notice that art appears
and disappears mysteriously like a ghost. It comes unexpectedly upon a
people, and it goes in spite of artistic education, State help, picture
dealers, and annual exhibitions. We notice, too, that art is wholly
untransmissible; nay, more, the fact that art is with us to-day is proof
that art will not be with us to-morrow. Art cannot be acquired, nor can
those who have art in their souls tell how it came there, or how they
practise it. Art cannot be repressed, encouraged, or explained; it is
something that transcends our knowledge, even as the principle of life.

Now I take it that science differs from art on all these points.
Science is not national, it is essentially cosmopolitan. The science
of one country is the same as that of another country. It is
impossible to tell by looking at it whether the phonograph was
invented in England or America. Unlike art, again, science is
essentially transmissible; every discovery leads of necessity to
another discovery, and the fact that science is with us to-day proves
that science will be still more with us to-morrow. Nothing can
extinguish science except an invasion of barbarians, and the
barbarians that science has left alive would hardly suffice. Art has
its limitations, science has none. It would, however, be vain to
pursue our differentiation any further. It must be clear that what are
most opposed in this world are art and science; therefore--I think I
can say therefore--all the arguments I used to show that a British
Luxembourg would be prejudicial to the true interests of art may be
used in favour of the endowment of a college of science at South
Kensington. Why should not the humanitarianism of Mr. Tate induce him
to give his money to science instead of to art? As well build a
hothouse for swallows to winter in as a British Luxembourg; but
science is a good old barn-door fowl; build her a hen-roost, and she
will lay you eggs, and golden eggs. Give your money to science, for
there is an evil side to every other kind of almsgiving. It is well to
save life, but the world is already overstocked with life; and in
saving life one may be making the struggle for existence still more
unendurable for those who come after. But in giving your money to
science you are accomplishing a definite good; the results of science
have always been beneficent. Science will alleviate the wants of the
world more wisely than the kindest heart that ever beat under the robe
of a Sister of Mercy; the hands of science are the mercifulest in the
end, and it is science that will redeem man's hope of Paradise.

ROYALTY IN ART.

The subject is full of suggestion, and though any adequate examination
of it would lead me beyond the limits of this paper, I think I may
venture to lift its fringe. To do so, we must glance at its historic
side. We know the interest that Julius the Second took in the art of
Michael Angelo and Raphael: had it not been for the Popes, St. Peter's
would not have been built, nor would "The Last Judgment" have been
painted. We know, too, of Philip the Fourth's great love of the art of
Velasquez. The Court of Frederick the Great was a republic of art and
letters; and is it not indirectly to a Bavarian monarch that we owe
Wagner's immortal _chefs-d'oeuvre_, and hence the musical evolution of
the century? With these facts before us it would be puerile to deny
that in the past Royalty has lent invaluable assistance in the
protection and development of art. Even if we turn to our own country
we find at least one monarch who could distinguish a painter when he
met one. Charles the Second did not hesitate in the patronage he
extended to Vandyke, and it is--as I have frequently pointed out--to
the influence of Vandyke that we owe all that is worthiest and
valuable in English art. Bearing these facts in mind--and it is
impossible not to bear them in mind--it is difficult to go to the
Victorian Exhibition and not ask: Does the present Royal Family
exercise any influence on English art? This is the question that the
Victorian Exhibition puts to us. After fifty years of reign, the Queen
throws down the gauntlet; and speaking through the medium of the
Victorian Exhibition, she says: "This is how I have understood art;
this is what I have done for art; I countenance, I court, I challenge
inquiry."

Yes, truly the Victorian Exhibition is an object-lesson in Royalty. If
all other records were destroyed, the historian, five hundred years
hence, could reconstitute the psychological characteristics, the
mentality, of the present reigning family from the pictures on
exhibition there. For in the art that it has chosen to patronise (a
more united family on the subject of art it would be hard to
imagine--nowhere can we detect the slightest difference of opinion),
the Queen, her spouse, and her children appear to be singularly
_bourgeois_: a staid German family congenially and stupidly
commonplace, accepting a little too seriously its mission of crowns
and sceptres, and accomplishing its duties, grown out of date,
somewhat witlessly, but with heavy dignity and forbearance. Waiving
all racial characteristics, the German _bourgeois_ family mind appears
plainly enough in all these family groups; no other mind could have
permitted the perpetration of so much stolid family placidity, of so
much "_frauism_". "Exhibit us in our family circle, in our coronation
robes, in our wedding dresses, let the likeness be correct and the
colours bright--we leave the rest to you." Such seems to have been the
Royal artistic edict issued in the beginning of the present reign. In
no instance has the choice fallen on a painter of talent; but the
middling from every country in Europe seems to have found a ready
welcome at the Court of Queen Victoria. We find there middling
Germans, middling Italians, middling Frenchmen--and all receiving
money and honour from our Queen.

The Queen and the Prince Consort do not seem to have been indifferent
to art, but to have deliberately, and with rare instinct, always
picked out what was most worthless; and regarded in the light of
documents, these pictures are valuable; for they tell plainly the real
mind of the Royal Family. We see at once that the family mind is
wholly devoid of humour; the very faintest sense of humour would have
saved them from exhibiting themselves in so ridiculous a light. The
large picture of the Queen and the Prince Consort surrounded with
their children, the Prince Consort in knee-breeches, showing a
finely-turned calf, is sufficient to occasion the overthrow of a
dynasty if humour were the prerogative of the many instead of being
that of the few. This masterpiece is signed, "By G. Belli, after F.
Winterhalter"; and in this picture we get the mediocrity of Italy and
Germany in quintessential strength. These pictures also help us to
realise the private life of our Royal Family. It must have spent a
great deal of time in being painted. The family pictures are
numberless, and the family taste is visible upon them all. And there
must be some strange magnetism in the family to be able to transfuse
so much of itself into the minds of so many painters. So like is one
picture to another, that the Exhibition seems to reveal the secret
that for the last fifty years the family has done nothing but paint
itself. And in these days, when every one does a little painting, it
is easy to imagine the family at work from morn to eve. Immediately
after breakfast the easels are set up, the Queen paints the Princess
Louise, the Duke of Edinburgh paints Princess Beatrice, the Princess
Alice paints the Prince of Wales, etc. The easels are removed for
lunch, and the moment the meal is over work is resumed.

After having seen the Victorian Exhibition, I cannot imagine the Royal
Family in any other way; I am convinced that is how they must have
passed their lives for the last quarter of a century. The names of G.
Belli and F. Winterhalter are no more than flimsy make-believes. And
are there not excellent reasons for holding to this opinion? Has not
the Queen published, or rather surreptitiously issued, certain little
collections of drawings? Has not the Princess Louise, the artist of
the family, publicly exhibited sculpture? The Princess Beatrice, has
she not done something in the way of designing? The Duke of Edinburgh,
he is a musician. And it is in these little excursions into art that
the family most truly manifests its _bourgeois_ nature. The sincerest
_bourgeois_ are those who scribble little poems and smudge little
canvases in the intervals between an afternoon reception and a
dinner-party. The amateur artist is always the most inaccessible to
ideas; he is always the most fervid admirer of the commonplace. A
staid German family dabbling in art in its leisure hours--the most
inartistic, the most Philistine of all Royal families--this is the
lesson that the Victorian Exhibition impresses upon us.

But why should not the Royal Family decorate its palaces with bad art?
Why should it not choose the most worthless portrait-painters of all
countries? Dynasties have never been overthrown for failure in
artistic taste. I am aware how insignificant the matter must seem to
the majority of readers, and should not have raised the question, but
since the question has been raised, and by her Majesty, I am well
within my right in attempting a reply. The Victorian Exhibition is a
flagrant representation of a _bourgeois_, though a royal, family. From
the beginning to the end the Exhibition is this and nothing but this.
In the Entrance Hall, at the doorway, we are confronted with the
Queen's chief artistic sin--Sir Edgar Boehm.

Thirty years ago this mediocre German sculptor came to England. The
Queen discovered him at once, as if by instinct, and she employed him
on work that an artist would have shrunk from--namely, statuettes in
Highland costume. The German sculptor turned out this odious and
ridiculous costume as fast as any Scotch tailor. He was then employed
on busts, and he did the entire Royal Family in marble. Again, it
would be hard to give a reason why Royalty should not be allowed to
possess bad sculpture. The pity is that the private taste of Royalty
creates the public taste of the nation, and the public result of the
gracious interest that the Queen was pleased to take in Mr. Edgar
Boehm, is the disfigurement of London by several of the worst statues
it is possible to conceive. It is bad enough that we should have
German princes foisted upon us, but German statues are worse. The
ancient site of Temple Bar has been disfigured by Boehm with statues
of the Queen and the Prince of Wales, so stupidly conceived and so
stupidly modelled that they look like figures out of a Noah's Ark. The
finest site in London, Hyde Park Corner, has been disfigured by Boehm
with a statue of the Duke of Wellington so bad, so paltry, so
characteristically the work of a German mechanic, that it is
impossible to drive down the beautiful road without experiencing a
sensation of discomfort and annoyance. The original statue that was
pulled down in the interests of Boehm was, it is true, bad English,
but bad English suits the landscape better than cheap German. And this
disgraceful thing will remain, disfiguring the finest site in London,
until, perhaps, some dynamiter blows the thing up, ostensibly to serve
the cause of Ireland, but really in the interests of art. At the other
end of the park we have the Albert Memorial. We sympathise with the
Queen in her grief for the Prince Consort, but we cannot help wishing
that her grief were expressed more artistically.

A city so naturally beautiful as London can do without statues; the
question is not so much how to get good statues, but how to protect
London against bad statues. If for the next twenty-five years we might
celebrate the memory of each great man by the destruction of a statue
we might undo a great part of the mischief for which Royalty is mainly
responsible. I do not speak of Boehm's Jubilee coinage--the
melting-pot will put that right one of these days--but his statues,
beyond some slight hope from the dynamiters, will be always with us.
Had he lived, London would have disappeared under his statues; at the
time of his death they were popping up by twos and threes all over the
town. Our lovely city is our inheritance; London should be to the
Londoner what Athens is to the Athenian. What would the Athenians have
thought of Pericles if he had proposed the ornamentation of the city
with Persian sculpture? Boehm is dead, but another German will be with
us before long, and, under Royal patronage, will continue the odious
disfigurement of our city. If our Royal Family possessed any slight
aesthetic sense its influence might be turned to the service of art;
but as it has none, it would be well for Royalty to refrain. Art can
take care of itself if left to the genius of the nation, and freed
from foreign control. The Prince of Wales has never affected any
artistic sympathies. For this we are thankful: we have nothing to
reproach him with except the unfortunate "Roll-call" incident. Royalty
is to-day but a social figment--it has long ago ceased to control our
politics. Would that Royalty would take another step and abandon its
influence in art.

ART PATRONS.

The general art patron in England is a brewer or distiller.
Five-and-forty is the age at which he begins to make his taste felt in
the art world, and the cause of his collection is the following, or an
analogous reason. After a heavy dinner, when the smoke-cloud is
blowing lustily, Brown says to Smith: "I know you don't care for
pictures, so you wouldn't think that Leader was worth fifteen hundred
pounds; well, I paid all that, and something more too, at the last
Academy for it." Smith, who has never heard of Leader, turns slowly
round on his chair, and his brain, stupefied with strong wine and
tobacco, gradually becomes aware of a village by a river bank seen in
black silhouette upon a sunset sky. Wine and food have made him
happily sentimental, and he remembers having seen a village looking
very like that village when he was paying his attentions to the eldest
Miss Jones. Yes, it was looking like that, all quite sharp and clear
on a yellow sky, and the trees were black and still just like those
trees. Smith determines that he too shall possess a Leader. He may not
be quite as big a man as Brown, but he has been doing pretty well
lately.... There's no reason why he shouldn't have a Leader. So
irredeemable mischief has been done at Brown's dinner-party: another
five or six thousand a year will henceforth exert its mighty influence
in the service of bad art.

Poor Smith, who never looked attentively at a picture before, does not
see that what inspires such unutterable memories of Ethel Jones is but
a magnified Christmas card; the dark trees do not suggest treacle to
him, nor the sunset sky the rich cream which he is beginning to feel
he partook of too freely; he does not see the thin drawing, looking as
if it had been laboriously scratched out with a nail, nor yet the
feeble handling which suggests a child and a pot of gum. But of
technical achievement how should Mr. Smith know anything?--that
mysterious something, different in every artist, taking a thousand
forms, and yet always recognisable to the educated eye. How should
poor Smith see anything in the picture except what Mr. Whistler
wittily calls "rather a foolish sunset"? To perceive Mr. Leader's
deficiency in technical accomplishment may seem easy to the young girl
who has studied drawing for six months at South Kensington; but Smith
is a stupid man who has money-grubbed for five-and-twenty years in the
City; and through the fumes of wine and tobacco he resolves to have a
Leader. He does not hesitate, he consults no one--and why should he?
Mr. Leader put R.A. after his name--he charges fifteen hundred.
Besides, the village on the river bank with a sunset behind is
obviously a beautiful thing.... The mischief has been done, the
irredeemable mischief has been achieved. Smith buys a Leader, and the
Leader begets a Long, the Long begets a Fildes, the Fildes begets a
Dicksee, the Dicksee begets a Herkomer.

Such is the genesis of Mr. Smith's collection, and it is typical of a
hundred now being formed in London. In ten years Mr. Smith has laid
out forty or fifty thousand pounds. He asks his friends if they don't
like his collection quite as well as Brown's: he urges that he can't
see much difference himself. Nor is there much difference. The same
articles--that is to say, identically similar articles--vulgarly
painted sunsets, vulgarly painted doctors, vulgarly painted babies,
vulgarly painted manor-houses with saddle-horses and a young lady
hesitating on the steps, have been acquired at or about the same
prices. The popular R.A.s have appealed to popular sentiment, and
popular sentiment has responded; and the City has paid the price. But
Time is not at all a sentimental person: he is quite unaffected by the
Adelphi reality of the doctor's face or the mawkish treacle of the
village church; and when the collection is sold at auction twenty
years hence, it will fetch about a fourth of the price that was paid.

Mr. Smith's artistic taste knows no change; it was formed on Mr.
Brown's Leader, and developing logically from it, passing through
Long, Fildes, and Dicksee, it touches high-water mark at Hook. The
pretty blue sea and the brown fisher-folk call for popular admiration
almost as imperatively as the sunset in the village churchyard; and
when an artist--for in his adventures among dealers Mr. Smith met one
or two--points out how much less like treacle Mr. Hook is than Mr.
Leader, and how much more flowing and supple the drawing of the
sea-shore is than the village seen against the sunset, Mr. Smith
thinks he understands what is meant. But remembering the fifteen
hundred pounds he paid for the cream sky and the treacle trees, he is
quite sure that nothing could be better.

The ordinary perception of the artistic value of a picture does not
arise above Mr. Smith's. I have studied the artistic capacity of the
ordinary mind long and diligently, and I know my analysis of it is
exact; and if I do not exaggerate the artistic incapabilities of Mr.
Smith, it must be admitted that the influence which his money permits
him to exercise in the art world is an evil influence, and is
exercised persistently to the very great detriment of the real artist.
But it will be said that the moneyed man cannot be forbidden to buy
the pictures that please him. No, but men should not be elected
Academicians merely because their pictures are bought by City men, and
this is just what is done. Do not think that Sir John Millais is
unaware that Mr. Long's pictures, artistically considered, are quite
worthless. Do not think that Mr. Orchardson does not turn in contempt
from Mr. Leader's tea-trays. Do not think that every artist, however
humble, however ignorant, does not know that Mr. Goodall's portrait of
Mrs. Kettlewell stands quite beyond the range of criticism. Mr. Long,
Mr. Leader, and Mr. Goodall were not elected Academicians because the
Academicians who voted for them approved of their pictures, but
because Mr. Smith and his like purchased their pictures; and by
electing these painters to Academic honours the taste of Mr. Smith
receives official confirmation.

The public can distinguish very readily--far better than it gets
credit for--between bad literature and good; nor is the public deaf to
good music, but the public seems quite powerless to distinguish
between good painting and bad. No, I am wrong; it distinguishes very
well between bad painting and good, only it invariably prefers the
bad. The language of speech we are always in progress of learning; and
the language of music being similar to that of speech, it becomes
easier to hear that Wagner is superior to Rossini than to see that
Whistler is better than Leader. Of all languages none is so difficult,
so varying, so complex, so evanescent, as that of paint; and yet it is
precisely the works written in this language that every one believes
himself able to understand, and ready to purchase at the expense of a
large part of his fortune. If I could make such folk understand how
illusory is their belief, what a service I should render to art--if I
could only make them understand that the original taste of man is
always for the obvious and the commonplace, and that it is only by
great labour and care that man learns to understand as beautiful that
which the uneducated eye considers ugly.

Why will the art patron never take advice? I should seek it if I
bought pictures. If Degas were to tell me that a picture I had
intended to buy was not a good one I should not buy it, and if Degas
were to praise a picture in which I could see no merit I should buy it
and look at it until I did. Such confession will make me appear
weak-minded to many; but this is so, because much instruction is
necessary even to understand how infinitely more Degas knows than any
one else can possibly know. The art patron never can understand as
much about art as the artist, but he can learn a good deal. It is
fifteen years since I went to Degas's studio for the first time. I
looked at his portraits, at his marvellous ballet-girls, at the
washerwomen, and understood nothing of what I saw. My blindness to
Degas's merit alarmed me not a little, and I said to Manet--to whom I
paid a visit in the course of the afternoon--"It is very odd, Manet, I
understand your work, but for the life of me I cannot see the great
merit you attribute to Degas." To hear that some one has not
understood your rival's work as well as he understands your own is
sweet flattery, and Manet only murmured under his breath that it was
very odd, since there were astonishing things in Degas.

Since those days I have learnt to understand Degas; but unfortunately
I have not been able to transmit my knowledge to any one. When
important pictures by Degas could be bought for a hundred and a
hundred and fifty pounds apiece, I tried hard to persuade some City
merchants to buy them. They only laughed and told me they liked Long
better. Degas has gone up fifty per cent, Long has declined fifty per
cent. Whistler's can be bought to-day for comparatively small prices;
[Footnote: This was written before the Whistler boom.] in twenty years
they will cost three times as much; in twenty years Mr. Leader's
pictures will probably not be worth half as much as they are to-day.
What I am saying is the merest commonplace, what every artist knows;
but go to an art patron--a City merchant--and ask him to pay five
hundred for a Degas, and he will laugh at you; he will say, "Why,
I could get a Dicksee or a Leader for a thousand or two."

PICTURE DEALERS.

In the eighteenth century, and the centuries that preceded it, artists
were visited by their patrons, who bought what the artist had to sell,
and commissioned him to paint what he was pleased to paint. But in our
time the artist is visited by a showily-dressed man, who comes into
the studio whistling, his hat on the back of his head. This is the
West-End dealer: he throws himself into an arm-chair, and if there is
nothing on the easels that appeals to the uneducated eye, the dealer
lectures the artist on his folly in not considering the exigencies of
public taste. On public taste--that is to say, on the uneducated
eye--the dealer is a very fine authority. His father was a dealer
before him, and the son was brought up on prices, he lisped in prices,
and was taught to reverence prices. He cannot see the pictures for
prices, and he lies back, looking round distractedly, not listening to
the timid, struggling artist who is foolishly venturing an
explanation. Perhaps the public might come to his style of painting if
he were to persevere. The dealer stares at the ceiling, and his lips
recall his last evening at the music-hall. If the public don't like
it--why, they don't like it, and the sooner the artist comes round the
better. That is what he has to say on the subject, and, if sneers and
sarcasm succeed in bringing the artist round to popular painting, the
dealer buys; and when he begins to feel sure that the uneducated eye
really hungers for the new man, he speaks about getting up a boom in
the newspapers.

The Press is in truth the great dupe; the unpaid jackal that goes into
the highways and byways for the dealer! The stockbroker gets the
Bouguereau, the Herkomer, the Alfred East, and the Dagnan-Bouveret
that his soul sighs for; but the Press gets nothing except unreadable
copy, and yet season after season the Press falls into the snare. It
seems only necessary for a dealer to order an artist to frame the
contents of his sketch-book, and to design an invitation card--"Scenes
on the Coast of Denmark", sketches made by Mr. So-and-so during the
months of June, July, and August--to secure half a column of a goodly
number of London and provincial papers--to put it plainly, an
advertisement that Reckitts or Pears or Beecham could not get for
hundreds of pounds. One side of the invitation card is filled up with
a specimen design, usually such a futile little thing as we might
expect to find in a young lady's sketch-book: "Copenhagen at Low
Tide", "Copenhagen at High Tide", "View of the Cathedral from the
Mouth of the River", "The Hills of----as seen from off the Coast". And
this topography every art critic will chronicle, and his chronicling
will be printed free of charge amongst the leading columns of the
paper. Nor is this the worst case. The request to notice a collection
of paintings and drawings made by the late Mr. So-and-so seems even
more flagrant, for then there is no question of benefiting a young
artist who stands in need of encouragement or recognition; the show is
simply a dealer's exhibition of his ware. True, that the ware may be
so rare and excellent that it becomes a matter of public interest; if
so, the critic is bound to notice the show. But the ordinary show--a
collection of works by a tenth-rate French artist--why should the
Press advertise such wares gratis? The public goes to theatres and to
flower-shows and to race-courses, but it does not go to these dealers'
shows--the dealer's friends and acquaintances go on private view day,
and for the rest of the season the shop is quieter than the
tobacconist's next door.

For the last month every paper I took up contained glowing accounts of
Messrs. Tooth & MacLean's galleries (picture dealers do not keep
shops--they keep galleries), glowing accounts of a large and extensive
assortment of Dagnan-Bouveret, Bouguereau, Rosa Bonheur: very nice
things in their way, just such things as I would take Alderman
Samuelson to see.

These notices, taken out in the form of legitimate advertisement,
would run into hundreds of pounds; and I am quite at a loss to
understand why the Press abandons so large a part of its revenue. For
if the Press did not notice these exhibitions, the dealers would be
forced into the advertising columns, and when a little notice was
published of the ware, it would be done as a little return--as a
little encouragement for advertising, on the same principle as ladies'
papers publish visits to dressmakers. The present system of noticing
Messrs Tooth's and not noticing Messrs. Pears' is to me wholly
illogical; and, to use the word which makes every British heart beat
quicker--unbusinesslike. But with business I have nothing to do--my
concern is with art; and if the noticing of dealers' shows were not
inimical to art, I should not have a word to say against the practice.
Messrs. Tooth & MacLean trade in Salon and Academy pictures, so the
notices the Press prints are the equivalent of a subvention granted by
the Press for the protection of this form of art. If I were a
statistician, it would interest me to turn over the files of the
newspapers for the last fifty years and calculate how much Messrs.
Agnew have had out of the Press in the shape of free advertisement.
And when we think what sort of art this vast sum of money went to
support, we cease to wonder at the decline of public taste.

My quarrel is no more with Messrs. Agnew than it is with Messrs. Tooth
& MacLean; my quarrel--I should say, my reprimand--is addressed to the
Press--to the Press that foolishly, unwittingly, not knowing what it
was doing, threw such power into the hands of the dealers that our
exhibitions are now little more than the tributaries of the Bond
Street shop? This statement will shock many; but let them think, and
they will see it could not be otherwise. Messrs. Agnew have thousands
and thousands of pounds invested in the Academy--that is to say, in
the works of Academicians. When they buy the work of any one outside
of the Academy, they talk very naturally of their new man to their
friends the Academicians, and the Academicians are anxious to please
their best customer. It was in some such way that Mr. Burne-Jones's
election was decided. For Mr. Burne-Jones was held in no Academic
esteem. His early pictures had been refused at Burlington House, and
he resolved never to send there again. For many years he remained firm
in his determination. In the meantime the public showed unmistakable
signs of accepting Mr. Jones, whereupon Messrs. Agnew also accepted
Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones was popular; he was better than popular, he stood
on the verge of popularity; but there was nothing like making things
safe--Jones's election to the Academy would do that. Jones's scruples
would have to be overcome; he must exhibit once in the Academy. The
Academicians would be satisfied with that. Mr. Jones did exhibit in
the Academy; he was elected on the strength of this one exhibit. He
has never exhibited since. These are the facts: confute them who may,
explain them who can.

It is true that the dealer cannot be got rid of--he is a vice inherent
in our civilisation; but if the Press withdrew its subvention, his
monopoly would be curtailed, and art would be recruited by new talent,
at present submerged. Art would gradually withdraw from the bluster
and boom of an arrogant commercialism, and would attain her olden
dignity--that of a quiet handicraft. And in this great reformation
only two classes would suffer--the art critics and the dealers. The
newspaper proprietors would profit largely, and the readers of
newspapers would profit still more largely, for they would no longer
be bored by the publication of dealers' catalogues expanded with
insignificant comment.

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