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and it would be pleasant indeed to follow the play and interplay of objectivity and subjectivity in these examples; but it seems to me that the theme can be developed better through other examples, through Corot and Claude. The pictures Corot painted in Rome were beautifully-drawn domes, roofs, and arcades, with a sullen river beneath, and in our National Gallery there is the dome of St. Peter's seen in the distance through overarching boughs. An arid subject this would seem to be, and one very unlikely to find a customer, and no doubt many years had to pass before it found one. But in the beginning of his life, when art was upon him, Corot did not think about customers, and feeling that he could draw as well as Claude, he continued to seek subjects on his return from Rome that a painter of less natural genius would turn from. An erstwhile friend of mine is the possessor of a picture of a factory yard in which there is neither tree nor plant nor flower, only yellow sand and yellow sandstone walls and high-pitched, blue-slated roofs. In the middle distance is another building with a highpitched roof, blue slates and an iron gateway, and the only relief from this desert ugliness is a shadow thrown across the foreground by a building outside of the picture. We have seen Parisian workmen sawing through great blocks of sandstone, and we have met the blocks on lorries drawn by six great grey Normandy horses in charge of a carter, who cracks a loud whip and calls upon them, but not on the great docile beast in the shafts; he knows his business so well that he needs no telling, and the sawyers and the carters of the yellow sandstone will help the reader to see the factory that Corot saw under an almost cloudless June sky. When he undertook to find a picture in this very unpictorial subject, he looked forward to interrupting the monotony of the foreground with a beautiful brown shadow, and his thoughts passing on to the long, narrow windows, he began to think how by beautiful drawing they might be made to seem more beautiful than they really were; and how the iron railings could also be redeemed by good drawing, and the tone of the high-pitched roof varied, for the slates were only violet in certain hours of the day. Above the roof was the blue air, and he knew he could get its depths and contrast its airy lightness with the grimness below. The picture was now in his head and seeing warm tones of yellow and brown everywhere, he composed his palette, his thoughts returning to Rome. A subtle aesthetician it would be who could determine whether this picture was an early or a middle-period picture painted in his early style. In the life of every artist there are sudden advancements and sudden returnings. But why waste time in conjectures when a visit to the library can give us a fact? Because conjectures are often more interesting than facts and more improving to the mind. The encyclopaedia cannot tell us everything, happily, and no date has any biographer put upon Corot's discovery of the sentimental willow. A picturedealer may have shown him a newspaper in which
the critic said that Corot could not paint the French country, only Italy, and a challenge is always inspiring; or it may have been that Corot was asked by some friends who lived in the country to spend Sunday with them, friends who lived by a river shadowed by poplars (which is most sentimental, a poplar or a willow?). Corot, who had never observed the French country before, returned at once to Ville d'Avray, and brought back poplars and willows that were sold for large sums of money. Nor is it impossible that he wished to die a rich man, and having once caught sight of a fisherman putting forth, he could never resist again the temptation of a boat with a fisher in it, his snood showing through the greenery like a red anemone, a fisher who never caught a fish but drew a great draft of dollars out of a city situated by a lake in the Middle West.
And whilst thinking how I had met him in the woods of Ville d'Avray my thoughts began to droop and would have passed into nothingness if the church clock striking two had not roused me. We cannot be far off now from the dawn, about an hour, mayhap two, for the month is August. The travellers are in their beds with their wives, sleeping. And thinking it would be better to be asleep than sitting in filmy light thinking unpleasant things of Corot I struggled upstairs, between sleeping and waking recalling the words we had exchanged-with difficulty, for my brain was fuddled with sleep: A beautiful picture, master, is beginning on your canvas, but I can't find your foreground in nature. My foreground is two hundred yards ahead, he answered. That was in 'seventy-four or 'seventy-five, in the last years of his life, when he found willows everywhere, principally in his own head. Subjectivity, objectivity
Tristan or the Mastersingers: which will last the longer? Which will be admired fifty years hence? ... to bed, to bed!