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THE BEAUTIFUL IN ART.CONCLUSION
LAW PBRVADES NATURE AND ART-FUNCTION OF ART TO ELEVATE-OF
THOUGHT AND EXECUTION-DIFFERENCES OP APPRECIATION— POSITIVE
ASPECT OF HOME -- PICTURES, CASTS, FLOWERS, ETC. — NATURAL CRAVING FOR BEAUTY-INTERCOURSE WITH THE LABOURING CLASSES BENEFICIAL-VULGAR IDEAS REGARDING MONEY AND TASTE
DIFFUSION OF TASTE-ITS POSITIVE BASIS. EXHIBITIONS-ANTICIPATION OF THE CRYSTAL PALACE BY CHAUCER
THE SYDENHAM COURTS-CONVENTIONALITY AND LICENSE-PYTHAGOREAN STATEMENT-NATURE MATHEMATICAL-ART CONFORMS TO
C RATION-VITAL ART INDIGENOUS DESCRIPTION OF SYDENHAM BY AN ARABIAN POET OF THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY-MEANS OF PROSECUTING ART-STUDIES REQUISITE FOR ALL CLASSES-EDUCATION
ISE INCOMPLETE ACQUAINTANCE WITH GREAT WORKS MUSEUMS—EFFICIENT LECTURERS AND NEW PROFESSORSHIPS NEEDED - IMPORTANCE OF SUCH STUDIES FOR THE PUBLIC WELLBEING
THEIR INFLUENCE ON MANUFACTURES, IN EDUCATION THE RELIGIOUS ELEMENT NOT TO BE OVERLOOKED
EDUCATION, WHAT IS IT?-ITS BENIGN INFLUENCE. BRIEF SUMMATION AND RETROSPECT OF THE VARIOUS ARTS-SOOTHING
INFLUENCE OF ART-WORDSWORTH'S EXPERIENCE-FUTURE CHRISTIAN ART-ART NOT ULTIMATE, BUT VALUABLE AS MEANS TO AN END.
HAVING thus cursorily examined the various Arts, we have found them employed by man in every age to minister to that innate longing for beauty and ideal perfection which speaks his own high origin and immortal destinies; that wherever Art is most successful, its efforts
will be found in strict conformity with certain definite laws, impressed alike on mind and matter, the latter being made subservient to the former. As the crystal must take its predetermined shape, so the whole universe is but a visible embodiment of the great Creator's THOUGHT. Hence Sir Thomas Browne quaintly but truly speaks of Nature as “the Art of God.”
The HIGHEST works by means, and so must man. The type the formative thought-with “high capabilities” of “looking before and after” existing in his soul, to find expression for these, he must employ the outward or material; and in so doing, conform to harmonious laws found alike at the fountain head, and far down the stream of being
In the physical world there are depressing influences constantly at work, and also elevating agencies to counteract these. Art is in itself, at best, not ultimate, but chiefly valuable as means to an end : sanctified, its tendency is to counteract the depressing influences of cark and care, to diminish the rough attrition of life, and to elevate heart and soul by bringing them into closer relationship with the harmony, beauty, or perfection of the universe.
Thought itself is ever of the first moment, and then such excellence of execution as will add impressiveness to it. Those artists whose lives are most in conformity with God's requirements, and who have a foundation of good sense, heart, judgment, with vivid powers of imagination—which last, rightly understood, is, as we have shown, “Reason in her most exalted mood”-will prove the most efficient. “The noblest art,” says Ruskin in The Stones of Venice, “is an exact union of the abstract value, with the imitative power, of forms and colours. It is the noblest composition, used to express the noblest facts. But the human mind cannot, in general, unite the two perfections; it either pursues the fact to the neglect of the composition, or pursues the composition to the neglect of the fact
“And it is intended by the Deity that it should do this : the best art is not always wanted. Facts are ofteu wanted without art, as in a geological diagram ; and art often without facts, as in a Turkey carpet. And most men have been made capable of giving either the one or the other, but not both. Only one or two, the very highest, can give both.”
In Shakspere's Dramas, these opposite qualities, with every shade between, exist in perfection, and constitute part of his pure universality. · Even among persons of taste, a truly sympathetic and discriminating appreciation of art is comparatively rare, and, among these again, that higher degree of cultivation which renders the taste sensitive as an electrometer, is only to be found in a very few individuals. Among artists, too, in every department, there are similar diversities and degrees of excellence, to say nothing of those who unworthily assume the name. The following beautiful aud deeply poetical Greek proverb expresses our meaning:—“The thyrsus-bearers are many, but the bacchants few”-thus happily annotated by Trench, “Many assume the signs and outward tokens of inspiration, whirling the thyrsus aloft; but those whom the God indeed fills with his spirit, are few all the while.”
1 Reprobating the misuse of this word in common art-parlance, Mr. Ruskin says—“Composition is, in plain English, 'putting together,' and it means the putting together of lines, of forms, of colours, of shades, or of ideas. Painters compose in colour, compose in thought, compose in form, and compose in effect, the word being in use merely in order to express a scientific, disciplined, and inventive arrangement of any of them, instead of a merely natural or accidental one."
In reference to diversity of judgment in matters of taste, we find that Harding in his Principles and Practice of Art, feeling the absolute necessity of some positive basis, and groping after it, thus clearly expresses himself as to the result, although without any definite idea as to the mode by which a positive basis is to be attained :-“Decision on beautiful forms,” says he, “ of whatever kind, does not, and ought not, to depend on vague, capricious taste, and uncultivated feelings ; for unless they be controlled by sound judgment, formed on observation of the truth of Nature, we are not in a condition clearly to distinguish the beautiful, and, consequently, can have no power either to judge of, or to depict it. Unless from such education, no two persons could have the same opinion of the beautiful, and should even the opinion of one of them happen to be right, he would be unable to give a sufficient reason for it; but if the elements of beauty, founded in truth, be understood, beauty may then be demonstrated, and distinguished from every shade of deformity, which is so often mistaken for it, or set up by fashion in its stead.”
Throughout these pages it has been our endeavour, while acknowledging the existence of a definite standard or canon of taste founded on a positive basis, at the same time to indicate the direction in which this standard must be looked for. · We have seen, too, that many of the greatest artists. have been men of action, and variously distinguished. Æschylus--the soldier, the hero at Marathon, Salamis, and Plataea-in his own epitaph makes no mention of his having, as it were, invented and perfected tragic poetry. The patriotic Leonardo da Vinci successfully conducted the defences of Florence during the siege of the Prince of Orange; superintended marble quarries; was practically acquainted with all the science of his age, indeed, so far was he in advance of it as to have been familiar with many things usually accounted recent discoveries ; and he would have taken his own high place although The Last Supper had never been painted. That wonderful picture, which is so touchingly grand and beautiful, in spite of the influences of time and all the restorations to which it may have been subjected, and so different from all engraved copies we have ever seen that even the best of these is hardness itself in comparison with the original
the calm majesty and beaming love of the central face affecting many of the most noble and manly hearts to tears!
Petrarch and Chaucer were chosen to conduct intricate and delicate diplomatic business. Shakspere was wise, in the worldly acceptation of the term, both as regards the accumulation and investment of means, guiding all his affairs, so far as is known of him, with exemplary discretion.
Milton-Cromwell's patient, self-denying, Latin Secretary-in troublous times, bravely and patriotically stood forward in the van, denouncing tyranny, and endeavouring to secure liberty for thought, and the freedom of the press. Such a life was worthy of him, of whose “soulanimating strains” Landor has finely and as comprehensively said