Imagens das páginas

Hunt, I think, fails, and fails only, in foliage ; fails, as the Daguerreotype does, from over-fidelity ; for foliage will not be imitated, it must be reasoned out and suggested ; yet Hunt is « ?a. Hunt and the only man we have who can paint the real leaf howtob^rendCT- green under sunlight, and, in this respect, his %hetXarndaoffen- trees are delicious,—summer itself. Creswick has aive if otherwise. sweet feeling, and tries for the real green too, but, from want of science in his shadows, ends in green paint instead of green light; in mere local color, instead of color raised by sunshine. One example is enough to show where the fault lies. In his picture of the Weald of Kent, in the British Institution this year, there was a cottage in the middle distance with white walls, and a red roof. The dark sides of the white walls and of the roof were of the same color, a dark purple—wrong for both. Repeated inaccuracies of this kind necessarily deprive even the most brilliant color of all appearance of sunshine, and they are much to be deprecated in Creswick, as he is one of the very few artists who do draw from nature and try for nature. Some of his thickets and torrent-beds are most painfully studied, and yet he cannot draw a bough nor a stone. I suspect he is too much in the habit of studying only large views on the spot, and not of drawing small portions thoroughly. I trust it will be seen that these, as all other remarks that I have made throughout this volume on particular works, are not in depreciation of, or unthankfulness for, what the artist has done, but in the desire that he should do himself more justice and more honor. I have much pleasure in Creswick,s works, and I am glad always to see them admired by others.

I shall conclude this sketch of the foliage art of England, by mention of two artists, whom I believe to be representative of a considerable class, admirable in their reverence and patience «35. conclusion. °* study,yet unappreciated by the public, because Mu'lind'sfpailn- wna* ^eJ do is unrecommended by dexterities of CT- handling. The forest studies of J. Linnell are

peculiarly elaborate, and, in many points, most skilful; they fail perhaps of interest, owing to over-fulness of detail and a want of generalization in the effect; but even a little more of the Harding sharpness of touch would set off their sterling qualities, and make them felt. A less known artist, S. Palmer, lately admitted a member of the Old Water-Color Society, is deserving of the very highest place among faithful followers of nature. His studies of foreign foliage especially are beyond all praise for care and fulness. I have never seen a stone pine or a cypress drawn except by him; and his feeling is as pure and grand as his fidelity is exemplary. He has not, however, yet, I think, discovered what is necessary and unnecessary in a great picture; and his works, sent to the Society,s rooms, have been most unfavorable examples of his power, and have been generally, as yet, in places where all that is best in them is out of sight. I look to him, nevertheless, unless he lose himself in over-reverence for certain conventionalisms of the elder schools, as one of the probable renovators and correctors of whatever is failing or erroneous in the practice of English art.




"we have now arrived at some general conception of the extent of Turner,s knowledge, and the truth of his practice, by the deliberate examination of the characteristics of the four great elements of landscape—sky, earth, water, and vege

11. No necessity ... T, I /,, J' . , 6,

of entering into tation. 1 have not thought it necessary to devote

discussion of - , , , .. - , , ,

architectural a chapter to architecture, because enough has been said on this subject in Part II. Sect. I. Chap. VII.; and its general truths, which are those with which the landscape painter, as such, is chiefly concerned, require only a simple and straightforward application of those rules of which every other material object of a landscape has required a most difficult and complicated application. Turner,s knowledge of perspective probably adds to his power in the arrangement of every order of subject; but ignorance on this head is rather disgraceful than knowledge meritorious. It is disgraceful, for instance, that any man should commit such palpable and atrocious errors in ordinary perspective as are seen in the quay in Claude,s sea-piece, No. 14, National Gallery, or in the curved portico of No. 30; but still these are not points to be taken into consideration as having anything to do with artistical rank, just as, though we should say it was disgraceful if a great poet could not spell, we should not consider such a defect as in any way taking from his poetical rank. Neither is there anything particularly belonging to architecture, as such, which it is any credit to an artist to observe or represent; it is only a simple and clear field for the manifestation of his knowledge of general laws. Any surveyor or engineer could have drawn the steps and balustrade in the Hero and Leander, as well as Turner has ; but there is no man living but himself who could have thrown the accidental shadows upon them. I may, however, refer for general illustration of Turner,s power as an architectural draughtsman, to the front of Rouen Cathedral, engraved in the Rivers of France, and to the Ely in the England. I know nothing in art which can be set beside the former of these for overwhelming grandeur and simplicity of effect, and inexhaustible intricacy of parts. I have then only a few remarks farther to offer respecting the general character of all those truths which we have been hitherto endeavoring to explain and illustrate.

The difference in the accuracy of the lines of the Torso of

the Vatican, (the Maestro of M. An gel o,) from those in one of

M. Angelo,s finest works, could perhaps scarcely be appreciated

bv any eve or feeling undisciplined bv the most

4 2. Extreme , , , ., - i i i :i T

difficulty of mux- perfect and practical anatomical knowledge. , It tag the highest rests on points of such traceless and refined delicacy, that though we feel them in the result, we cannot follow them in the details. Yet they are such and so great as to place the Torso alone in art, solitary and supreme; while the finest of M. Angelo,s works, considered with respect to truth alone, are said to be only on a level with antiques of the second class, under the Apollo and Venus, that is, two classes or grades below the Torso. But suppose the best sculptor in the world, possessing the most entire appreciation of the excellence of the Torso, were to sit down, pen in hand, to try and tell us wherein the peculiar truth of each line consisted? Could any words that he could use make us feel the hairbreadth of depth and distance on which all depends? or end in anything more than bare assertions of the inferiority of this line to that, which, if we did not perceive for ourselves, no explanation could ever illustrate to us? lie might as well endeavor to explain to us by words some taste or other subject of sense, of which we had no experience. And so it is with all truths of the highest order; they arc separated from those of average precision by points of extreme delicacy, which none but the cultivated eye can in the least feel, and to express which, all words are absomiik of Turner is lutely meaningless and useless. Consequently, in shown in °tiu- all that I have been saying of the truth of artists, I butoniyTiiarein- have been able to point out only coarse, broad, and explicable matters; I have been perfectly unable to express (and indeed I have made no endeavor to express) the finely drawn and distinguished truth in which all the real excellence of art consists. All those truths which I have been able to explain and demonstrate in Turner, are such as any artist of ordinary powers of observation ought to be capable of rendering. It is disgraceful to omit them ; but it is no very great credit to observe them. I have indeed proved that they have been neglected, and disgracefully so, by those men who are commonly considered the Fathers of Art; but in showing that they have been observed by Turner, I have only proved him to be above other men in knowledge of truth, I have not given any conception of his own positive rank as a Painter of Nature. But it stands to reason, that the men, who in broad, simple, and demonstrable matters are perpetually violating truth, will not be particularly accurate or careful in carrying out delicate and refined, and undemonstrable matters; and it stands equally to reason, that the man who, as far as argument or demonstration can go, is found invariably truthful, will, in all probability, be truthful to the last line, and shadow of a line. And such is, indeed, the case with every touch of this consummate artist; the essen

'$ 4. The exceed- .

fng refinement of tial excellence—all that constitutes the real and exceeding value of his works—is beyond and above expression; it is a truth inherent in every line, and breathing in every hue, too delicate and exquisite to admit of any kind of proof, nor to be ascertained except by the highest of tests—the keen feeling attained by extended knowledge and long study. Two lines are laid on canvas ; one is right and another wrong. There is no difference between them appreciable by the compasses—none appreciable by the ordinary eye—none which can be pointed out, if it is not seen. One person feels it,—another does not; but the feeling or sight of the one can by no words be communicated to the other: it would be unjust if it could, for that feeling and sight have been the reward of years thineinhisworks of labor. And there is, indeed, nothing in Tur

whicn can be en- . , -.. . . .

ioyed without iier—not one dot nor line—whose meaning can be understood without knowledge; because he never aims at sensual impressions, but at the deep final truth, which only meditation can discover, and only experience recognize. There is nothing done or omitted by him, which does not imply such a comparison of ends, such rejection of the least worthy, (as

« AnteriorContinuar »