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wisely singled out by the Duke of Marlborough for some laudation), Wilson, Flaxman, Stothard, Wilkie, and Turner had worked altogether in vain. Bavarian artists, again, scem to have encouraged a similar prejudice, as anyone may now see in the Pinacothek at Munich, for in a gallery painted about 1836 to do honour to the Art of the world, while Italy, France, Spain, Holland, and Germany have representative men to stand for them, in the compartment devoted to England the figure of Sleeping Genius is portrayed, as he is just being aroused by a blast from the trumpet of Fame tingling in his startled ears. It is true that the Dome of St. Paul's Cathedral is in the background, but this is there to localise the scene rather than as a triumph of Art. I do not know that even now there is much advance on this point, although, indeed, about two years since in a letter from Berlin I observed a questionably complimentary phrase to the effect that England was certainly now beginning to develop a School of Art: a decision arrived at, perhaps, from the fact that in contributions to Continental exhibitions the works of Parisian inspiration by foreign artists settled in London appear in quantity, and to these with official Englishmen the grand prizes are always first given.
What has given ground for the prejudice is certainly the established indifference of the ruling classes to the claim that British artists have honestly earned, that they might be allowed to work on a scale deserving to be regarded as national.
There is a difficulty in any practical artist taking upon himself to define what is true in taste, since naturally it will be concluded that he is defending his own choice and manner of work. In a degree this must, indeed, be allowed for, but at the worst it cannot be so misleading as the ipse dixit of professors who never show you on what level their words describing the shore being explored are to be read, and whether they are standing on vessels of good burthen, or are floating only on corks or feathers up and down the twisting currents of the bestained and much polluted stream of passing life. The ideal of Art in this day has to be eliminated from a confusing jumble of misrepresentation, which imagines the defiling flood as the crystal of the pure river it once was, and which it should ever be. I do not claim more than that my work, such as, it is, ought to have enabled me to sift many hundreds of times my first theories, and to come to mature convictions which at iny start in life it would have been a blessing to me to have had demonstrated by an elder of real experience.
I have no word of blame for the dealers. Of course, they are not all of one grade in any respect. Some, indeed, within certain lines, acquire an independent knowledge of Art, but their business, whatever they may feel privately, is to learn the taste of the day, and to adapt their course to meet this. At times they make mistakes even from over-desire to be safe. You could not expect that any one of them would declare his prime motive in his dealing. Often—not altogether falsely—he uses the protestation of intense devotion to the interests of Art in the largest sense as a stalking horse for his nearest interests, but no sensible person would take him seriously as a perfect guide to the nation for reaching its highest pinnacle of glory. For an artist so to adapt himself to the market is a prostitution of all honest aims ; it is the selling of his soul alive, and when the example is followed, believe me that Art is on the road to the grave. The corpse may be fair and well decked out, but never more will it be raised up from the bier. His Grace has apportioned some well-deserved praise to a few members of the English school, mixed with his strictures on others. He will quickly see that the meritorious are not of the number turning out of their way to catch the favour of the “shrewd Scotch and Americans” who buy in obedience to the fashion of the time. There are too many caterers to spoilt children of fortune who pass for true artists. They have learned the trick of the trade. They know all the stock sentiments. They offer the faded tints and lines worn out and discarded by the truly inspired, and they can delight in the evidence of the ease, even, too, of the perfection, with which they have done their work. However they may display their well-drilled powers, their god is the market, and to this they sacrifice, having no fear of losing, and the largest reward being offered; but the end is not yet.
To prepare at closer hand for the investigation of the true ideal in Art, we must consider the matter in a manner parallel to that which Socrates recommends about philosophy. If the whimsical and ignorant infant patients imagined by the Athenian
dialectician were asked for their favourite provider of food, would they choose the physician whose experience made him a wise adviser for the training of youth destined for great athletic achievements? They would rather, it is justly pointed out, choose the confectioner who would indulge them with sweetmeats and pastry for their food, and demur loudly to the wholesome food which the guardian of health would supply. There are surely but few among the rich backing the dealers who are beyond the stage of these children. The stomach soon sends retribution for folly in too great indulgence in sweetmeats and other unwholesome dainties; but where does the penalty fall for transgressions of good judgment in taste? Not on the culprits at all, but only on the national Art, which many poor men are giving their lives to keep vigorous and to enlarge. It would not be difficult to prove that often misdirected potentates have spent not only their own but also the public money in encouraging one dishonest quack after another, and it seems to have given them more joy when the impostor was a foreigner; and thus the public prejudice against native power has been increased. The fact is that our misfortune is in the general flippant estimate by the great of the importance of Art to a country. The Duke gives evidence of this in the following sentence : -"We may be, and no doubt are, in matter of Empire, the Romans of modern Europe; but in Art and all that pertains to Art teaching the French are the modern Athenians, and Paris is the modern Athens.” He is perfectly unaffected with any feeling that perhaps there is fault somewhere outside the circle of workers when he brings himself to decide that the country which made its sacrifices, and showed its iron will under the leadership of his great ancestor, that Europe should not be given back to Cæsarism (as it did again in the great war against Napoleon), must now go down to posterity branded as a set of warriors fighting for no great object, that is, so far as any evidence in beauty of design left for the New Zealander to see could save them from the slur, and he never acknowledges the extreme improbability of such incapacity in a race which has produced incontestably the greatest poets the world has yet known. Surely he must see the absurdity of such a sweeping condemnation while the array of great masters England has produced in the face of the indifference of the great stand before all honest eyes, so that some even are quoted in his paper. What of use the rich have done in Art has mainly been to patronise portraiture. The result in the highest examples has been so noble that this alone has established the greatest aptitude of our race for the Art. What other modern country has come near to the greatness of our portraitists of a century since ? In other branches of the pursuit the workman has had to embrace continual poverty. Yet what Frenchman has painted a picture equal in living movement to Wilkie's “Blindman's Buff," one in sweetness like Leslie's “Mother and Babe"? Who has done one equal in honest and dignified pathos to F. Walker's “Vale of Rest"? Or let it be asked, what Turner have they had ? In one other interest than portraiture the rich here have also indulged their lust for painting. Sport with us is a kind of cult. Every kind of hunting has a poetic phase, and the pastime should, and does, in many persons lead to the growth of a love of Nature, yet in sporting pictures it is astounding how rarely there was at first anything but the baldest record of some details about the shape of a horse or other animal when stretched in a position like a butterfly, in a naturalist's case, pinned out to show his points. Landseer appealed to this love of the chase more capably with Art; he had a strong, if a sinister, poetic strain in him, which at times reached great heights, but the productions of his most in favour were of scenes dwelling upon the butcher-like side of the pursuit. Hounds tearing poor deer to their death, and terriers digging their teeth into rabbits or hares, or stags standing in such a way as to be “a good shot” for a sportsman--for a whole generation these were regarded by the rich as the noblest productions of the English school, and I think they did much to lower the conception of the purpose of painting and design; perhaps, too, they led to the very sudden rush of prejudice for Continental Art as found in Rosa Bonheur, who had not any spark of the English painter's poetry, who could not draw form so well, but who never descended to the vulgarity which frequently marred our animal painters' conceptions.
rush, so that now I am not exaggerating in saying that Englishmen are being driven from the possibility of continuing this profession. If the judgment is right which says that foreigners are our superiors, then our race must bear a stigma of incompetence in one point, which is a great reversal of the judgment on its first efforts.
What is this French Art with which in the matter of design Europe is now to be Cæsarised ? I have no lack of interest and admiration for it on its own ground in its highest examples. It is an expression, as all Art should be, of the nature of the race. We see the same spirit in its literature and on the stage. The situation is the object of aspiration. Figure-painting is
Figure-painting is used as the means of representing a dramatic situation; every point is made the most of for the case. A fact in history is chosen, it may be by a master mind ; the spectator sees the whole scene vividly as any historic penetration could present it. Every detail is accurate, costume, accessories, and architecture ; every figure is in its right place and costume. I delight in conning such a tableau over, and am grateful to the painter for a most useful piece of illustrative information, yet I look in vain for the divine breath which animates the living world. When the fact is of no historic or dramatic interest, with men doing what amounts to nothing, or otherwise the intention is to excite the latent brute in man, it is ingenious and curious, but not edifying, either as Art or as information. When no play is going on the figures are only dead pawns off the board.
Constable is thought by many French painters to have been a compatriot; so entirely, since he was honoured by their predecessors in 1820, have they followed him, not in spirit, but in manner. He had not a mind of the greatest range; his was an instrument with no high notes, but it was in direct resonance to Nature's lightest touch. His French followers, as all followers do, find their admirers waiting. They accept given patterns to copy more proudly than our painters of name do. A theme once found acceptable is repeated like a lesson. A moonlight under clouds, with the herding of sheep or cattle, was first etched divinely in two or three forms by our own Palmer. Then it was too new to be understood. Now it is welcomed as is a thrice-told tale by the dull. I have often read that amongst French landscape painters