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to consider the subject only from a critical point of view. Art has its philosophy, as history has, and the mind would stand confused and amazed before the 'gods many and the lords
many' of legendary piety, did it not take into account, along with the vast imaginative power of mankind, the mythology of the Indo-Germanic race and the anthropomorphic tendency of all our beliefs. Legends overlie and overwhelm history, but they are often a pseudo-history, and they presuppose some objective truth as their base, however fanciful they may be. The difficulties of such a task Mrs. Jameson did not attempt to lessen, but she touched the subjects with a reverent and uncontroversial hand. Her book, the one by which her name will ever be remembered, was received with acclamations at home and abroad. In America Mrs. Jameson had already many warm friends; but now Longfellow writes: God bless * you for this book! How very precious it is to me! Indeed, I can hardly try to express to you the feelings of affection with which I have cherished it from the first moment it reached us. It most amply supplies the cravings of the religious nature. This was really felt to be its character, and
' Mrs. Jameson might fairly have prefixed to her work, as its motto, the words of Horace Walpole: Pictures are the
scenery of devotion ... and the art that is the subject • of this book is the least likely to be perverted. In fact, if it be true that art is nature humanised, of sacred and legendary art it may be averred that it is nature sublimated, since, though its elements are drawn from everything in heaven and earth, its subjects are taken chiefly and most lovingly from Scripture, and from that human heart for which Scripture was made and given. Such painters are the “ eternal children of the Gospel of that Evangelion which speaks of a ' Man among men,' and which substituted humanity for the corrupt civilisation of classical Rome, the profound philosophies of India, and the metaphysical subtleties of Greece.
The subject of Christian art naturally grew in magnitude and importance as Mrs. Jameson devoted herself to it. Great masses of notes lay ready under her hands; the pictures seemed to beckon to her, and she brought out in 1852 her · Life of • '
the Madonna. Nothing can exceed the finish of this beautiful book, with its hundred and sixty-five wood engravings and its twenty-seven etchings, illustrating a letterpress of admirable and harmonious prose. Mrs. Jameson's style in a work of such magnitude as this is markedly more chastened and sustained, and her knowledge was profound of all the best pictorial representations of the Madonna. She seems to
have forgotten no example of very great merit, unless it be the exquisite miniature of the Annunciation in that ivorybound psalter of Queen Melisenda of Jerusalem, which is preserved with such care in the British Museum. It is one of the few examples in which the Virgin, instead of sitting, kneeling, or bending, during the visit of the'angel, is represented as standing erect. Veiled and robed in dark blue, she has an extraordinary expression of chastity and reserve, while the tall, dignified figure, in spite of its miniature scale, and of its being the work of a Greek artist of the twelfth century (1131-1144), reminds one of that Stabat Mater dolorosa of Perugino which is in the Pazzi chapel, and which within the last few years only has been shown to visitors in Florence.
In preparing a book which she called • The Life of the Ma• donna, Mrs. Jameson had at once to state and to speak of artistic facts as she found them, and to avoid all appearance of a polemical spirit. She wisely restricted herself to critical details, and though she wrote in Rome, and in sight of that tasteless column of the Immaculate Conception, which stands in the Piazza di Spagna, as if to record the high-water mark of Mariolatry in the nineteenth century, she did not even attempt to explain why modern Catholicism produces only the most debased, tawdry, and puerile trinkets of devotion. This is a fact which even the uninitiated can perceive for themselves; and it is certain that the gilt and stucco Madonnas which now fill the shops and churches are to the Virgins of Dürer, Raphael, and Murillo, as the “Rosaire de la Dé'votion' of Paul Parfait is to Bossuet's • Meditations on • the Gospel. It would look as if an excess of devotion to • Mary' had both vitiated the taste of the artist and debased the object, just as the over-fondness of a mother spoils a child, or as the overheating of a stove will ruin a beautiful plant. Mrs. Jameson passed this thorny matter over. Enough for her, and for her readers, were the canvases of the great masters, whose themes of innocence, pain, and superhuman beauty do not provoke an argument. When we stand before the Mater • Amabilis' of some monk who never himself owned either wife or child, or before some sweet pastoral Madonna which is to art what the Burgundian Noël, the Provençal Nouvé, and the English carol are to poetry, we also acknowledge the impersonation of sympathising womanhood in her who received from the angel tidings of the peace so long wept for in the world, but which cost the Lady of Pain herself so dear. And, controversy apart, these subjects may well have charms for us, illustrated as they have been by the ancient artists with
that mingled naïveté and reverence, and that vivid and dramatic power, which only faith and love and genius united could impart' (p. 134).
ti When Mrs. Jameson was young, her father was her collaborator; now that she had seen more than half a century, her niece Gerardine Macpherson worked at her side. Travellers in Italy in those days often met with these two women, copying or taking notes in the galleries and churches, while amongst the pleasantest places of rendezvous in Rome was the house in the Piazza di Spagna where Anna Jameson worked, while her niece's needle etched the illustrations for her books. Mrs. Jamesen herself also practised the art of etching. The graceful frontispiece to the Graphidæ,' a collection of epigrams on the painters by an anonymous poet, was the kindly work of her hand. This little book was privately printed, and is now rare.
The last of the series was now on its way. The labour of such an undertaking was very great, and if to Mrs. Jameson it did not appear overwhelming it was only because, as Goethe makes Helen say to Faust, it is easy-it comes from the • heart.' This History of our Lord' was intended to record the accumulated results of the piety and industry of nineteen Christian centuries. Mrs. Jameson undertook to tabulate the laws, moral, historical, and pictorial, which have, out of the history of our Lord, created a whole realm of religious art. She lingered lovingly over every picture which set Him forth: now over some pious legend of the Childhood, now over a cartoon of the Miracles, or over one of those Crucifixions which seem to have come, like a sob, from the penitent heart of humanity. The pictures were in great numbers and the themes inexhaustible ; for the Christ of history was, although historical, no passing apparition. While working at this great subject the pen fell from the hand of a tired, elderly, and solitary woman, and Anna Jameson died. The unfinished text of her book was handed to Lady Eastlake for completion, and it thus saw the light under the prestige of two persons who united in no common degree artistic and literary talent, the qualities of the artist with those of the connoisseur. It closed the long list of works, forty-eight in number, which stand in the catalogue of the British Museum under the name of Anna Jameson. Of these one has been translated into French, one into Polish, several have had American reprints, and one was brought out in Germany, bearing the press-mark of Frankfort-on-theMaine. Some of these books, like the Loves of the Poets,' are undeniable specimens of bookmaking, and all contain weak
or verbose pages, on which an eloquence, that it would not be illnatured to style Hibernian, replaced solid or original matter. But in others the style is really admirable, and sometimes, as in her analysis of the character of Miranda, in her study on the House of Titian,' and her sketch of an autumn Sunday afternoon at Carolside, it reached a very high degree of beauty.
The volumes on “Sacred Art’ are indispensable guides to the student. They exhibit in a marked manner her taste, her application, and her accuracy of detail, as well as the deficiencies of her training, and of her own conception of the sphere of a critic. It has sometimes been said that criticism is easy, art difficult;' but, in truth, criticism of the kind that Mrs. Jameson attempted is very much more difficult than she took it to be. It requires an innate artistic spirit, and its cultivation by prolonged study of the canons of art. There must be a habit of constant observation, a quick eye, and a retentive memory, as well as the acumen to perceive all the relationships between form and expression. The critic must have the technical knowledge of art, but also such a fond and loyal devotion to nature that he does not degenerate into a mere judge of bric-à-brac; and, above all, he must possess the taste which is even rarer than genius. In an old-fashioned English treatise by Jonathan (1723) the criticism of a picture is divided into these heads :-greatness, grace, invention, expression, composition, colouring, drawing, handling. Now Mrs. Jameson's attention was seldom given to all or even to many of these different points of view. Her sensibilities often ran away with her judgment, or she wandered off into the history of a picture, and then talked of all that it suggested to her, rather than of the picture itself. To the very last her objective knowledge of art remained extremely defective. She was inferior to Mrs. Merrifield in technical acquaintance with oil-painting, as well as the processes used for the arts of mosaic, distemper, gilding, and glass-staining, while she left untouched what we may call the chemistry of the fine arts, the oils, resins, pigments, mordants, and varnishes, upon all of which the longevity of picture so greatly depends. In many respects her criticism fell short, in many it is now out of date, for in this as in everything else there is either a progress or a fashion, ed ora ha
Giotto il grido. Other writers have jostled her out of place; exhibitions succeed but do not resemble each other, and taste in England now claims the right to divide itself into as many schools as there are different modes of practice and different veins of thought. Between them it is not our business to
judge, but, while speaking here of the literature of art, we may regretfully remark that as it was in the time of Pilkington so it is now, and our zeal in this matter is not unto knowledge. The mental training of a public that is supposed to foster art, or at any rate to buy pictures, is far behind that of other countries, and of the books published (taking the department of classical art singly as a specimen) two-thirds are written in Germany. The French follow at a respectful distance, and the English are the last in this province of mental attainments and research. That such studies have their value and their practical results on a nation anyone may convince himself who, at the Trocadéro, recently saw the triumphs of portrait painting in the hands of Richter and Lenbach of Berlin, or the landscape work of Achenbach, who may be justly styled the modern Hobbema. There is plainly a great deal for Mrs. Jameson's successors to accomplish and also to correct in England, and it is not too much to say of the newly-elected President of the Royal Academy that we expect him to do much for the education of his countrymen. To judge by the aspect of our latest exhibitions, he has a great task before him.
Before taking leave of Mrs. Macpherson's very interesting biography of her aunt, we must notice one aspect of Mrs. Jameson's career which, unlike her art-criticism, has gained in interest from the lapse of years, and from the present state of events and feeling in England. We allude to her letters on social subjects. It would be unjust not to notice the brave and philanthropical way in which Mrs. Jameson handled, not the odious and declamatory topic of Women's Rights,' but the social and national question of · Women's Work.' That she did this well and wisely is evident from the warm meed of admiration that she gained from the late Frederic Denison Maurice. Mrs. Jameson had herself begun to work at sixteen years of age. She knew the habits of all classes, the trials of working-women in the lower orders, and the deeper trials of the women of the middle class who are unmarried, who are in want of bread, but who have perhaps only untrained minds and unskilled hands to bring into a market that is already overstocked. She was also cognisant of that'vague disease' from which the more affluent suffer, and of which they sicken, and even, as an eminent physician has assured us, die, seeing that they have empty hearts, vacant hours, and idle hands. The singular disproportion of the sexes, which in Great Britain now shows the startling figure of a surplus female population amounting to one million, had even then begun to engage the attention of economists and philanthropists, and