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•which they are islanded. Engravers, indeed, invariably lose the effect of all passages of cold color, under the mistaken idea that it is to be kept pale in order to indicate distance; whereas it ought commonly to be darker than the rest of the' sky.
To appreciate the full truth of this passage, we must understand another effect peculiar to the rain-cloud, that its openings exhibit the purest blue which the sky ever shows. For, as we saw in the first chapter of this section, that aqueous
J2S. The truth of , .. i i -i. t 1
this particular vapor always turns the sky more or less gray, it folFy pure blue aky lows that we never can see the azure so intense as rain, "and "how when the greater part of this vapor has just fallen in rain. Then, and then only, pure blue sky becomes visible in the first openings, distinguished especially by the manner in which the clouds melt into it; their edges passing off in faint white threads and fringes, through which the blue shines more and more intensely, till the last trace of vapor is lost in its perfect color. It is only the upper white clouds, however, which do this, or the last fragments of rain-clouds, becoming white as they disappear, so that the blue is never corrupted by the cloud, but only paled and broken with pure white, the purest white which the sky ever shows. Thus we have a melting and palpitating color, never the same for two inches together, deepening and broadening here and there into intensity of perfect azure, then drifted and dying away through every tone of pure pale sky, into the snow white of the filmy cloud. Over this roll the determined edges of the rain-clouds, throwing it all far back, as a retired scene, into the upper sky. Of this «23. Absence of effect the old masters, as far as I remember, have worka^Tthe ai! taken no cognizance whatsoever; all with them masters. is^ as we partially noticed before, either white cloud
or pure blue: they have no notion of any double-dealing or middle measures. They bore a hole in the sky, and let you up into a pool of deep, stagnant blue, marked off by the clear round «dges of imperturbable, impenetrable cloud on all sides—beautiful in positive color, but totally destitute of that exquisite gradation and change, that fleeting, panting, hesitating effort, with which the first glance of the natural sky is shed through the turbulence of the earth-storm.
They have some excuse, however, for not attempting this, In the nature of their material, as one accidental dash of the brush with water-color on a piece of wet or damp paper, will come nearer the truth and transparency of this rainon/water-color blue than the labor of a day in oils ; and the puri
artists In its ren- , . ,. ., , ,,, , ,,
Bering. uso of it ty and felicity of some of the careless, melting water-color skies of Cox and Tayler may well make us fastidious in all effects of this kind. It is, however, only in the drawings of Turner that we have this perfect transparency and variation of blue, given in association with the perfection •of considered form. In Tayler and Cox the forms are always partially accidental and unconsidered, often essentially bad, and always incomplete; in Turner the dash of the brush is as completely under the rule of thought and feeling as its slowest line; all that it does is perfect, and could not be altered, even in a hairbreadth, without injury; in addition to this, peculiar management and execution are used in obtaining quality in the color itself, totally different from the manipulation of any other artist; and none, who have ever spent so much as one hour of their lives over his drawing, can forget those dim passages of dreamy blue, barred and severed with a thousand delicate and soft and snowy forms, which, gleaming in their patience of hope between the troubled rushing of the racked earth-cloud, melt farther and farther back into the height of heaven, until the eye is bewildered and the heart lost in the intensity of their peace. I do not say that this is beautiful—I do not say it is ideal, nor refined—I only ask you to watch for the first opening of the clouds after the next south rain, and tell me if it be not true?
The Gosport affords us an instance more exquisite even than the passage above named in the Coventry, of the use of this melting and dewy blue, accompanied by two distances of rain-cloud, $25. Expression one towering over the horizon, seen blue with ex°nntheTMGo^portd cessive distance through crystal atmosphere ; the and other works. other breaking overhead in the warm, sulphurous fragments of spray, whose loose and shattering transparency, being the most essential characteristic of the near rain-cloud, is precisely that which the old masters are sure to contradict. Look, for instance, at the wreaths of cloud? in the Dido and iEneas of Gaspar Poussin, with their unpleasant edges cut as
hard and solid and opaque and smooth as thick b]ack paint can make them, rolled up over one another like a dirty
|S6. Contrasted .,,,,,, , , , ,, ,, J
withGaspar Pons- sail badly reefed ; or look at the agreeable transpar*
sin's rain - cloud • . ° . r
in the Dido and ency and variety of the cloud-edge where it cuts the Mountain in N. Poussin,s Phocion, and compare this with the wreaths which float across the precipice in the second vignette in Campbell, or which gather around the Ben Lomond, the white rain gleaming beneath their dark transparent shadows; or which drift up along the flanks of the wooded hills, called from the river by the morning light, in the Oakhampton ; or which island the crags of Snowdon in the Llanberis, or melt along the Cumberland hills, while Turner leads us across the sands of Moreeambe Bay. This last drawing deserves especial notice; it is of an evening in spring, when the south rain has ceased at sunset, and through the lulled and golden air, the confused and fantastic mists float up along the hollows of the mountains, white and pure, the resurrection in spirit of the new-fallen rain, catching shadows from the precipices, and mocking the dark peaks with their own mountain-like but melting forms till the solid mountains seem in motion like those waves of cloud, emerging and vanishing as the weak wind passes by their summits; while the blue, level night advances along the sea, and the surging breakers leap up to catch the last light from the path of the sunset.
I need not, however, insist upon Turner,s peculiar power of
rendering mist, and all those passages of intermediate mystery,
between earth and air, when the mountain is melting into the
cloud, or the horizon into the twilight; because
j W. Turner'a . . . ° ,:
power of render- his supremacy in these points is altogether undis
'"8mist i. A fu xv. -i. u u_
puted, except by persons to whom it would be impossible to prove anything which did not fall under the form of a Rule of Three. Nothing is more natural than that the studied form and color of this great artist should be little understood, because they require for the full perception of their meaning and truth, such knowledge and such time as not one in a thousand possesses, or can bestow; but yet the truth of them for that very reason is capable of demonstration, and there is hope of our being able to make it in some degree felt and comprehended even by those to whom it is now a dead letter, or an offence. But the aerial and misty effects of landscape, being i 28. His effects of matters of which the eye should be simply cognizSaurTotatonCce ant, and without effort of thought, as it is of light, caJnen'20morethbe nrast, where they are exquisitely rendered, either !o:nednouthannt De ^e^ at once, or prove that degree of blindness ture hereeif. and bluntness in the feelings of the observer which there is little hope of ever conquering. Of course for persons who have never seen in their lives a cloud vanishing on a mountain-side, and whose conceptions of mist or vapor are limited to ambiguous outlines of spectral hackney-coaches and bodiless lamp-posts, discern through a brown combination of sulphur, soot, and gaslight, there is yet some hope ; we cannot, indeed, tell them what the morning mist is like in mountain air, but far be it from us to tell them that they are incapable of feeling its beauty if they will seek it for themselves. But if you have ever in your life had one opportunity with your eyes and heart open, of seeing the dew rise from a hill-pasture, or the storm gather on a sea-cliff, and if you have yet no feeling for the glorious passages of mingled earth and heaven which Turner calls up before you into breathing, tangible being, there is indeed no hope for your apathy—art will never touch you, nor nature inform.
It would be utterly absurd, among the innumerable passages of this kind given throughout his works, to point to one as more characteristic or more perfect than another. The Simmer Lake, i as. Various in- near Askrig, for expression of mist pervaded with *tauces. sunlight,—the Lake Lucerne, a recent and unen
graved drawing, for the recession of near mountain form, not into dark, but into luminous cloud, the most difficult thing to do in art,—the Harlech, for expression of the same phenomena, shown over vast spaces in distant ranges of hills, the Ehrenbreitstein, a recent drawing, for expression of mist, rising from the surface of water at sunset,—and, finally, the glorious Oberwesel and Nemi,* for passages of all united, may, however, be named, as noble instances, though in naming five works I insult five hundred.
One word respecting Turner,s more violent storms, for we
* In the possession of B. 6. Windus, Esq., of Tottenham.
have hitherto been speaking only of the softer rain-clouds, associated with gusty tempest, but not of the thunder-cloud and the whirlwind. If there be any one point in
§80. Turner* / *
more violent ef- which engravers disgrace themselves more than in
fccts of tempest ,. ....... .. ." , ,..
are never rendered another, it is in their rendering of dark and furious storm. It appears to be utterly impossible to force it into their heads, that an artist does not leave his color with a sharp edge and an angular form by accident, or that they may have the pleasure of altering it and improving upon it ; and equally impossible to persuade them that energy and gloom may in some circumstances be arrived at without any
§81. General ays- ,. . . T
tcm of landscape extraordinary expenditure of mk. I am aware of
engraving. , .. L . . . . .
no engraver of the present day whose ideas of a storm-cloud are not comprised under two heads, roundness and blackness : and, indeed, their general principles of translation (as may be distinctly gathered from their larger works) are the following: 1. Where the drawing is gray, make the paper black. 2. Where the drawing is white, cover the page with zigzag lines. 3. Where the drawing has particularly tender tones, cross-hatch them. 4. Where any outline is particularly angular, make it round. 5. Where there are vertical reflections in water, express them with very distinct horizontal lines. G. Where there is a passage of particular simplicity, treat it in sections. 7. Where there is anything intentionally concealed, make it out. Yet, in spite of the necessity which all engravers impose upon themselves, of rigidly observing this code of general laws, it is difficult to conceive how such pieces of work, as the plates of Stonehenge and Winchelsea, can ever have been
presented to the public, as in any way resembling.
§ 32. The storm in * * ,, . . '. . J. ,,B
the stonehcngc. or possessing even the most fanciful relation to the Turner drawings of the same subjects. The original of the Stonehenge is perhaps the standard of storm-drawing, both for the overwhelming power and gigantic proportions and spaces of its cloud-forms, and for the tremendous qualities of lurid and sulphurous colors which are gained in them. All its forms are marked with violent angles, as if the whole muscular energy—so to speak—of the cloud, were writhing in every fold, and their fantastic and fiery volumes have a peculiar horror—an awful life—shadowed out in their strange, swift, fearful outlines,