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We shall see hereafter, in considering ideas of beauty, that color, even as a source of pleasure, is feeble compared to form; * 9. Recspituu- but tn'S we cann°t insist upon at present; we have tiaa- only to do with simple truth, and the obser
vations we have made are sufficient to prove that the artist who sacrifices or forgets a truth of form in the pursuit of a truth of color, sacrifices what is definite to what is uncertain, and what is essential to what is accidental.
It ought farther to be observed respecting truths in general, that those are always most valuable which are most historical,
that is, which tell us most about the past and fuance of historical ture states of the object to which they belong. In
a tree, for instance, it is more important to give the appearance of energy and elasticity in the limbs which is indicative of growth and life, than any particular character of leaf, or texture of bough. It is more important that we should feel that the uppermost sprays are creeping higher and higher intothe sky, and be impressed with the current of life and motion which is animating every fibre, than that we should know the exact pitch of relief with which those fibres are thrown out against the sky. For the first truths tell us tales about the tree, about what it has been, and will be, while the last are characteristic of it only in its present state, and are in no way talkative about themselves. Talkative facts are always more interesting and more important than silent ones. So again the lines in a crag which mark its stratification, and how it has been washed and rounded by water, or twisted and drawn out in fire, are more important, because they tell more than the stains of the lichens which change year by year, and the accidental fissures of frost or decomposition; not but that both of these are historical, but historical in a less distinct manner, and for shorter periods.
Hence in general the truths of specific form are piaWd by light the first and most important of all; and next to flret of nil truths, them, those truths of chiaroscuro which are necescoior'aregsecond. sary to make us understand every quality and part
of forms, and the relative distances of objects among each other, and in consequence their relative bulks. Altogether lower than these, as truths, though often most important as beauties, stand all effects of chiaroscuro which are productive merely of imitations of light and tone, and all effects of color. To make us understand the space of the sky, is an end worthy of the artist,s highest powers ; to hit its particular blue or gold is an end to be thought of when we have accomplished the first, and not till then.
Finally, far below all these come those particuehiaroMuro the lar aecuraciesor tricks of chiaroscuro which cause • objects to look projectingfrom the canvas, not worthy of the name of truths, because they require for their attainment the sacrifice of all others; for not having at our disposal the same intensity of light by which nature illustrates her objects, we are obliged, if we would have perfect deception in one, to destroy its relation to the rest. (Compare Sect. II. chap. V.) And thus he who throws one object out of his picture, never lets the spectator into it. Michael Angelo bids you follow his phantoms into the abyss of heaven, but a modern French painter drops his hero out of the picture frame.
This solidity or projection then, is the very lowest truth that art can give; it is the painting of mere matter, giving that as food for the eye which is properly only the subject of touch; it can neither instruct nor exalt, nor please except as jugglery; it addresses no sense of beauty nor of power; and wherever it characterizes the general aim of a picture, it is the sign and the evidence of the vilest and lowest mechanism which art can be insulted by giving name to.
GENERAL APPLICATION OF THE FOREGOING PRINCIPLES.
We have seen, in the preceding chapters, some proof of what was before asserted, that the truths necessary for deceptive imiji. The different tation are not only few, but of the very lowest con^eq0unen0tfofnthe order. We thus find painters ranging themselves imultlon "or at *n^° ^wo great classes; one aiming at the developtmth. ment of the exquisite truths of specfic form, refined
color, and ethereal space, and content with the clear and impressive suggestion of any of these, by whatsoever means obtained ; and the other casting all these aside, to attain those particular truths of tone and chiaroscuro, which may trick the spectator into a belief of reality. The first class, if they have to paint a tree, are intent upon giving the exquisite designs of intersecting undulation in its boughs, the grace of its leafage, the intricacy of its organization, and all those qualities which make it lovely or affecting of its kind. The second endeavor only to make you believe that you are looking at wood. They are totally regardless of truths or beauties of form; a stump is as good as a trunk for all their purposes, so that they can only deceive the eye into the supposition that it is a stump and not canvas.
11. The old T° which of these classes the great body of the
My; TMl" only °^ landscape painters belonged, may be partly at imitation. gathered from the kind of praise which is bestowed upon them by those who admire them most, which either refers to technical matters, dexterity of touch, clever oppositions of color, etc., or is bestowed on the power of the painter to deceive. M. de Marmontel, going into a connoisseur,s gallery, pretends to mistake a fine Berghem for a window. This, he says, was affirmed by its possessor to be the greatest praise the picture had ever received. Such is indeed the notion of art which is at the hottom of the veneration usually felt for the old landscape painters; it is of course the palpable, first idea of ignorance; it is the only notion which people unacquainted with art can by any possibility have of its ends ; the only test by which people unacquainted with nature can pretend to form anything like judgment of art. It is strange that, with the great historical painters of Italy before them, who had broken so boldly and indignantly from the trammels of this notion, and shaken the very dust of it from their feet, the succeeding landscape painters should have wasted their lives in jugglery : but so it is, and so it will be felt, the more we look into their % s. what truths works, that the deception of the senses was the they gave. great and first end of all their art. To attain this
they paid deep and serious attention to effects of light and tone, and to the exact degree of relief which material objects take against light and atmosphere ; and sacrificing every other truth to these, not necessarily, but because they required no others for deception, they succeeded in rendering these particular facts with a fidelity and force which, in the pictures that have come down to us uninjured, are as yet unequalled, and never can be surpassed. They painted their foregrounds with laborious industry, covering them with details so as to render them deceptive to the ordinary eye, regardless of beauty or truth in the details themselves ; they painted their trees with careful attention to their pitch of shade against the sky, utterly regardless of all that is beautiful or essential in the anatomy of their foliage and boughs : they painted their distances with exquisite use of transparent color and aerial tone, totally neglectful of all facts and forms which nature uses such color and tone to relieve and adorn. They had neither love of nature, nor feeling of her beauty; they looked for her coldest and most commonplace effects, because they were easiest to imitate; and for her most vulgar forms, because they were most easily to be recognized by the untaught eyes of those whom alone they could hope to please; they did it, like the Pharisee of old, to be seen of men, and they had their reward. They do deceive and delight the unpractised eye; they will to all ages, as long as their colors endure, be the standards of excellence with all, who, ignorant of nature, claim to be thought learned in art. And they will to