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was the “minion of monarchy," and that the Italian citizen has “ no thanks to render to the art of the past.” He does, however, render homage to it, and prizes its remains as a glorious memorial of his ancient liberties. When Mr. Beecher says of it, “ I know of nothing that served the common people,” he could not have been aware that the most remarkable historical painting of the new kingdom of Italy, Ussi's “Expulsion of the Duke of Athens from Florence" by the people in A. D. 1342, is but a new version of a fresco of that time by Giottino, representing the same scene, with the addition that the people are represented as acknowledging their victory as due to Divine aid, - a sentiment, we trust, as creditable to them in his eyes as was the thanksgiving of our Puritan fathers upon their victories over the Indian Philip and George III.
It is an artistic anachronism which several of our critics have fallen into, upon a superficial glance at the few and minor specimens of the old masters to be seen in this country, to consider their works as comparable only to the efforts of children in their first lessons in writing. What! the designs of a Giotto, Orgagna, Fra Angelico, or a Luca Signorelli of no more beauty or value than the pot-hooks of a six-year old girl! By parity of reasoning, the architect who designed the best of our new meeting-houses ought to have displayed astonishing genius in comparison with the designers of the Loggia and Campanile at Florence. Six centuries have but served to stamp the Florentine monuments as marvels of beauty and skill, original and lofty conceptions, in harmony with their purposes and burning with intellectual life. Certain works of man are a perpetual joy, — the same yesterday, to-day, and forever, - because they are a revelation from the unseen, and an assertion of the eternal supremacy of spirit over matter. Genius creates, talent constructs. The power of the one is instinctive, a gift from above; of the other, receptive, accumulating by example and training. Hence genius alone gives birth to great, new, or noble work; while simple talent, however clever in execution, often fails from want of intuitive discernment and original thought.
In viewing art new to him, one should not abandon him
self to first impressions without investigating their soundness. If he does so too hastily, he often finds upon further experience that his wisdom was foolishness. Art may seem obscure or unintelligible, and the fault lie not in it, but in us. We can comprehend no work until we have raised ourselves to the level of the author's meaning and feeling. All partial or one-sided comprehension is a mutual loss. Yet the best beginning of any intercourse is frank expression; for the basis of misconception being exposed, an understanding is more than half accomplished. We sympathize with the visitor who said before us, of some early Italian paintings, “I should as soon think of enjoying bad health or bruises as them,” because it needs a few hints only entirely to change the point of view. There is, indeed, a wide gulf between the extremes of cultivation and sympathy, and stolid apathy or ignorance. Each can be sincere and genuine. The visitor who exclaimed on seeing for the first time gold-background pictures, as she passed from one room into another, “ More of these ridiculous Chinese paintings !” was as much a representative of one class of critics among us,
such an exclamation would not have occurred in Europe out of England, as the person whom we saw seated, moved to tears, before one of the very works thus contemptuously condemned, was a representative of another.
The rough, uncultivated class is a more hopeful one to cultivate to higher perceptions in art than that which looks upon the work of the hands that designed the “Spina" Church at Pisa, adorned the Cathedral of Orvieto, or wrote Bible-stories in fresco at Assisi, covering the walls of its Duomo with spiritual allegory, as but the scrawls of children in comparison with the portfolio of the modern drawing-master. The latter class seeks results not sought by the old master. It overlooks the fact that the men whose works it superciliously condemns have received for centuries the unanimous suffrage of the cultivated judges of all nations. There is much technical failure in their work. But it often serves to make more conspicuous their spiritual feeling and depth of earnestness. Chaucer and Shakespeare do not spell as we do; but do these differences of form between the literature of our ancestors and our own, prove theirs to be the scrawls and ideas of children? Why
should it be held different with art ? Giotto was worthy in all respects to be the friend of Dante, and Martini of Petrarch, so the poets themselves tell us. Painting and poetry are but different phases of speech. It becomes us to throw off all conceit of actual superiority in intellect over our predecessors, and, before judging them, to inquire in what circumstances they differed from us, and whether what we do is as well done, and from as exalted inspiration, as what they did. Any other course puts us farther apart, and leads to wrong conclusions. “ I do not believe in them” is the doctrine of conceited judgment, effectually darkening the mind to light. Some critics misjudge the early Italian art from choosing a wrong point of view. We have seen a professor of drawing go hastily up to one of Lorenzetti's angels, and turn as hastily away, with the curt remark, “ That man did not know what. bones were.” Perhaps not. The teacher had been doing nothing else except trying to draw anatomically well. Lorenzetti's imagination had striven to rise to the vision of ethereal beings, and to the symbolizing of spiritual ideas. To us his success seemed wonderful, which might not have been the case had he practised more on “bones.” The scientific knowledge of design of the old eclectic school exceeded that of our own. Yet, as Blackwood justly states, “learned" as it was "in all the tricks of composition, and declamatory in startling effect, it has in great measure given place to those earlier works where thought and deep emotion are content to be simple and truthful." We are to enjoy both the material and spiritual aspects of art, but each at its relative value. It is an error to suppose there can be no attractiveness in painting without perfect design. Supernal beings can only be suggested by art, just as they are to our imagination. That artist is most successful in this who best impresses the spectator with the idea of a spiritual being, avoiding all intrusion of technical artifice, or display of anatomical dexterity. Fra Angelico is excelled by many a schoolboy now in the science of design, but no artist of any age equals him in the spirituality of his angels and Madonnas, or gives more elevated types of heavenly beings. But were a committee of drawing-masters to report upon his scientific knowledge, we fear their list of defects would be as long as
would be the list of misspelt words taken by some modern grammar-master from the Faerie Queene, or the letters of Abélard. Give, however, to either an angel to conceive, or a poem to compose, and the result would plainly show the absolute difference between inherent genius and acquired knowledge. What should we think of one who could find no loveliness in a sunset because unable to analyze its colors, and get the exact proportions of the orange, violet, gold, or emerald hues which form its glory? Yet of such a disposition are those who approach art solely through science. Art is an occult power. If the eye is trained to see only a bush, it sees nothing more; but if the inner vision is opened, he sees, with Moses, the angel of the Lord “in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush.”
There is another obstacle beside the want of imagination to prevent enjoyment of art. None find joy in natural scenery whose minds are captious or irritable. Both art and nature demand a receptive mood. Heart and mind should overflow towards them, with the desire of Christ's little children to know about the kingdom of heaven. The conceit of pseudoamateurship spoils much pleasure from its want of faith. The fear of being deceived, and the vanity of affected knowledge, are stumbling-blocks to progress in any direction. In art they often look ludicrous or stupid. The word “original ” is a strange mystery to many. They attach to the word vague ideas of super-excellence. We have heard a critic of this sort pronounce the very pictures in a gallery, about which there might be discussion, perfectly genuine, and those of which, from their very character and material, there could not be the slightest doubt, fabrications. Although wholly ignorant of that form of art, he thought it incumbent upon him to pronounce judgment upon it. A distaste for foreign art on first view is to be expected. And with us, beside the antagonisms of novelty and strangeness, it has to encounter professional opposition as unwise as it is ungenerous. One of our journals, much given to art criticism, calls the Jarves Collection of Paintings a “mass of antique rubbish.” Another asserts that these works are so much beneath the productions of comparatively obscure living painters in color,
drawing, conception, as to be unworthy of a position beside them.” If the coloring of Giorgione, Bellini, or Rubens, the conceptions of Sano di Pietro, Gentile di Fabriano, or Benozzo Gozzoli, the drawing of Luca Signorelli, Bazzi, Leonardo, or Domenichino, are unworthy to be named beside even the works of obscure American artists, of what rank are our recognized men, like Church, Inness, Hunt, Kensett, Leutze, Thompson, and their compeers? Or is the ratio of genius in America in proportion to its obscurity, and have we all the while been honoring the wrong artists? The people are not long misled by such unfounded assertions. Art has not yet risen in America to the level of genius. Any exaggeration of the present at the expense of the past is mischievous in many ways. American art has special need of the competitive and stimulating influences of other schools. Much of its recent progress is owing to its being forced into a comparison with the English, French, and German schools by periodical exhibitions of their works. The true artist delights in every fresh means of artistic comparison and knowledge. An enlightened public taste is his best friend, and sound criticism the ordeal he most covets. Any shrinking from or jealous abuse of what helps to form them is felt by him to be mean and unworthy. A patriot welcomes the infusion into our younger blood of the riper intellectuality of older civilization, because it raises our standard of excellence, and supplies means of more rapid progress. For each new nation to begin to create afresh every institution, art, or science, out of conceit of its original talents, would be as foolish as for every man to refuse to profit by his neighbor's or his progenitor's learning or skill. Much of the progress of any nationality lies in its power of assimilation. Let us therefore welcome foreign art as we welcome foreign science or toil, for its tendency is to create and exalt taste. It remains to our artists to satisfy it by proving their ability to compete with foreign schools with all the advantages of a chosen field and national sympathy.
“ Indian Summer" is familiar to our readers, as one of the latest types of the American landscape school. The spirit of the composition is wildly picturesque, savage even ; in details, much truth of form, and considerable mechanical dexterity;