Architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry are by common consent, as has been said at the outset, the five principal or greater fine arts practised among developed communities of men. It is possible in thought to group Modes in which the five greater arts have been classified.these five arts in as many different orders as there are among them different kinds of relation or affinity. One thinker fixes his attention upon one kind of relations as the most important, and arranges his group accordingly; another upon another; and each, when he has done so, is very prone to claim for his arrangement the virtue of being the sole essentially and fundamentally true. For example, we may ascertain one kind of relations between the arts by inquiring which is the simplest or most limited in its effects, which next simplest, which another degree less simple, which least simple or most complex of them all. This, the relation of progressive complexity or comprehensiveness between the fine arts, is the relation upon which Auguste Comte fixed his attention, and it yields in his judgment the following order:—Architecture lowest in complexity, because both of the kinds of effects which it produces and of the material conditions and limitations under which it works; sculpture next; painting third; then music; and poetry highest, as the most complex or comprehensive art of all, both in its own special effects and in its resources for ideally calling up the effects of all the other arts as well as all the phenomena of nature and experiences of life. A somewhat similar grouping was adopted, though from the consideration of a wholly different set of relations, by Hegel. Hegel fixed his attention on the varying relations borne by the idea, or spiritual element, to the embodiment of the idea, or material element, in each art. Leaving aside that part of his doctrine which concerns, not the phenomena of the arts themselves, but their place in the dialectical world-plan or scheme of the universe, Hegel said in effect something like this. In certain ages and among certain races, as in Egypt and Assyria, and again in the Gothic age of Europe, mankind has only dim ideas for art to express, ideas insufficiently disengaged and realized, of which the expression cannot be complete or lucid, but only adumbrated and imperfect; the characteristic art of those ages is a symbolic art, with its material element predominating over and keeping down its spiritual; and such a symbolic art is architecture. In other ages, as in the Greek age, the ideas of men have come to be definite, disengaged, and clear; the characteristic art of such an age will be one in which the spiritual and material elements are in equilibrium, and neither predominates over nor keeps down the other, but a thoroughly realized idea is expressed in a thoroughly adequate and lucid form; this is the mode of expression called classic, and the classic art is sculpture. In other ages, again, and such are the modern ages of Europe, the idea grows in power and becomes importunate; the spiritual and material elements are no longer in equilibrium, but the spiritual element predominates; the characteristic arts of such an age will be those in which thought, passion, sentiment, aspiration, emotion, emerge in freedom, dealing with material form as masters or declining its shackles altogether; this is the romantic mode of expression, and the romantic arts are painting, music and poetry. A later systematizer, Lotze, fixed his attention on the relative degrees of freedom or independence which the several arts enjoy—their freedom, that is, from the necessity of either imitating given facts of nature or ministering, as part of their task, to given practical uses. In his grouping, instead of the order architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, music comes first, because it has neither to imitate any natural facts nor to serve any practical end; architecture next, because, though it is tied to useful ends and material conditions, yet it is free from the task of imitation, and pleases the eye in its degree, by pure form, light and shade, and the rest, as music 362pleases the ear by pure sound; then, as arts all tied to the task of imitation, sculpture, painting and poetry, taken in progressive order according to the progressing comprehensiveness of their several resources.
The thinker on these subjects has, moreover, to consider the enumeration and classification of the lesser or subordinate fine arts. Whole clusters or families of these occur to the mind at once; such as dancing, an art subordinate Place of the minor or subordinate fine arts.to music, but quite different in kind; acting, an art auxiliary to poetry, from which in kind it differs no less; eloquence in all kinds, so far as it is studied and not merely spontaneous; and among the arts which fashion or dispose material objects, embroidery and the weaving of patterns, pottery,glassmaking, goldsmith’s work and jewelry, joiner’s work, gardening (according to the claim of some), and a score of other dexterities and industries which are more than mere dexterities and industries because they add elements of beauty and pleasure to elements of serviceableness and use. To decide whether any given one of these has a right to the title of fine art, and, if so, to which of the greater fine arts it should be thought of as appended and subordinate, or between which two of them intermediate, is often no easy task.
The weak point of all classifications of the kind of which we have above given examples is that each is intended to be final, and to serve instead of any other. The truth is, that the relations between the several fine arts are No one classification final or sufficient.much too complex for any single classification to bear this character. Every classification of the fine arts must necessarily be provisional, according to the particular class of relations which it keeps in view. And for practical purposes it is requisite to bear in mind not one classification but several. Fixing our attention, not upon complicated or problematical relations between the various arts, but only upon their simple and undisputed relations, and giving the first place in our consideration to the five greater arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry, we shall find at least three principal modes in which every fine art either resembles or differs from the rest.
1. The Shaping and the Speaking Arts (or Arts of Form and Arts of Utterance, or Arts of Space and Arts of Time).—Each of the greater arts either makes something or not which can be seen and handled. The arts which make something which can be First classification: the shaping and the speaking arts.seen and handled are architecture, sculpture and painting. In the products or results of all these arts external matter is in some way or another manually put together, fashioned or disposed. But music and poetry do not produce any results of this kind. What music produces is something that can be heard, and what poetry produces is something that can be either heard or read—which last is a kind of ideal hearing, having for its avenue the eye instead of the ear, and for its material, written signs for words instead of the spoken words themselves. Now what the eye sees from any one point of view, it sees all at once; in other words, the parts of anything we see fill or occupy not time but space, and reach us from various points in space at a single simultaneous perception. If we are at the proper distance we see at one glance a house from the ground to the chimneys, a statue from head to foot, and in a picture at once the foreground and background, and everything that is within the four corners of the frame. There is, indeed, this distinction to be drawn, that in walking round or through a temple, church, house or any other building, new parts and proportions of the building unfold themselves to view; and the same thing happens in walking round a statue or turning it on a turntable: so that the spectator, by his own motions and the time it takes to effect them, can impart to architecture and sculpture something of the character of time arts. But their products, as contemplated from any one point of view, are in themselves solid, stationary and permanent in space. Whereas the parts of anything we hear, or, reading, can imagine that we hear, fill or occupy not space at all but time, and can only reach us from various points in time through a continuous series of perceptions, or, in the case of reading, of images raised by words in the mind. We have to wait, in music, while one note follows another in a theme, and one theme another in a movement; and in poetry, while one line with its images follows another in a stanza, and one stanza another in a canto, and so on. It is a convenient form of expressing both aspects of this difference between the two groups of arts, to say that architecture, sculpture and painting are arts which give shape to things in space, or, more briefly, shaping arts; and music and poetry arts which give utterance to things in time, or, more briefly, speaking arts. These simple terms of the shaping and the speaking arts (the equivalent of the Ger. bildende und redende Künste) are not usual in English; but they seem appropriate and clear; the simplest alternatives for their use is to speak of the manual and the vocal arts, or the arts of space and the arts of time. This is practically, if not logically, the most substantial and vital distinction upon which a classification of the fine arts can be based. The arts which surround us in space with stationary effects for the eye, as the house we live in, the pictures on the walls, the marble figure in the vestibule, are stationary, hold a different kind of place in our experience—not a greater or a higher place, but essentially a different place—from the arts which provide us with transitory effects in time, effects capable of being awakened for the ear or mind at any moment, as a symphony is awakened by playing and an ode by reading, but lying in abeyance until we bid that moment come, and passing away when the performance or the reading is over. Such, indeed, is the practical force of the distinction that in modern usage the expression fine art, or even art, is often used by itself in a sense which tacitly excludes music and poetry, and signifies the group of manual or shaping arts alone.
As between three of the five greater arts and the other two, the distinction on which we are now dwelling is complete. Buildings, statues, pictures, belong strictly to sight and space; to time and to hearing, real through the ear, or ideal through Intermediate class of arts of motion.the mind in reading, belong music and poetry. Among the lesser or subordinate arts, however, there are several in which this distinction finds no place, and which produce, in space and time at once, effects midway between the stationary or stable, and the transitory or fleeting. Such is the dramatic art, in which the actor makes with his actions and gestures, or several actors make with the combination of their different actions and gestures, a kind of shifting picture, which appeals to the eyes of the witnesses while the sung or spoken words of the drama appeal to their ears; thus making of them spectators and auditors at once, and associating with the pure time art of words the mixed time-and-space art of bodily movements. As all movement whatsoever is necessarily movement through space, and takes time to happen, so every other fine art which is wholly or in part an act of movement partakes in like manner of this double character. Along with acting thus comes dancing. Dancing, when it is of the mimic character, may itself be a kind of acting; historically, indeed, the dancer’s art was the parent of the actor’s; whether apart from or in conjunction with the mimic element, dancing is an art in which bodily movements obey, accompany, and, as it were, express or accentuate in space the time effects of music. Eloquence or oratory in like manner, so far as its power depends on studied and premeditated gesture, is also an art which to some extent enforces its primary appeal through the ear in time by a secondary appeal through the eye in space. So much for the first distinction, that between the shaping or space arts and the speaking or time arts, with the intermediate and subordinate class of arts which, like acting, dancing, oratory, add to the pure time element a mixed time-and-space element. These last can hardly be called shaping arts, because it is his own person, and not anything outside himself, which the actor, the dancer, the orator disposes or adjusts; they may perhaps best be called arts of motion, or moving arts.
2. The Imitative and the Non-Imitative Arts.—Each art either does or does not represent or imitate something which exists already in Second classification: the imitative and non-imitative arts.nature. Of the five greater fine arts, those which thus represent objects existing in nature are sculpture, painting and poetry. Those which do not represent anything so existing are music and architecture. On this principle we get a new grouping. Two shaping or space arts and one speaking or time art now form the imitative group of sculpture, painting and poetry; while one space art and one time art form the non-imitative group of music and architecture. The mixed space-and-time arts of the actor, and of the dancer, so far as he or she is also a mimic, belong, of course, by their very name and nature, to the imitative class.
It was the imitative character of the fine arts which chiefly occupied the attention of Aristotle. But in order to understand the art theories of Aristotle it is necessary to bear in mind the very different meanings which the idea of imitation The imitative functions of art according to Aristotle.bore to his mind and bears to ours. For Aristotle the idea of imitation or representation (mimesis) was extended so as to denote the expressing, evoking or making manifest of anything whatever, whether material objects or ideas or feelings. Music and dancing, by which utterance or expression is given to emotions that may be quite detached from all definite ideas or images, are thus for him varieties of imitation. He says, indeed, most music and dancing, as if he was aware that there were exceptions, but he does not indicate what the exceptions are; and under the head of imitative music, he distinctly reckons some kinds of instrumental music without words. But in our own more restricted usage, to imitate means to copy, mimic or represent some existing phenomenon, some definite reality of experience; and we can only call those imitative arts which bring before us such things, either directly by showing us their actual likeness, as sculpture does in solid form, and as painting does by means of lines and colours on a plane surface, or else indirectly, by calling up ideas or images of them in the mind, as poetry and literature do by means of words. It is by a stretch of ordinary usage 363that we apply the word imitation even to this last way of representing things; since words are no true likeness of, but only customary signs for, the thing they represent. And those arts we cannot call imitative at all, which by combinations of abstract sound or form express and arouse emotions unattended by the recognizable likeness, idea or image of any definite thing.
Now the emotions of music when music goes along with words, whether in the shape of actual song or even of the instrumental accompaniment of song, are no doubt in a certain sense attended with definite ideas; those, namely, which are Non-imitative character of music.expressed by the words themselves. But the same ideas would be conveyed to the mind equally well by the same words if they were simply spoken. What the music contributes is a special element of its own, an element of pure emotion, aroused through the sense of hearing, which heightens the effect of the words upon the feelings without helping to elucidate them for the understanding. Nay, it is well known that a song well sung produces its intended effect upon the feelings almost as fully though we fail to catch the words or are ignorant of the language to which they belong. Thus the view of Aristotle cannot be defended on the ground that he was familiar with music only in an elementary form, and principally as the direct accompaniment of words, and that in his day the modern development of the art, as an art for building up constructions of independent sound, vast and intricate fabrics of melody and harmony detached from words, was a thing not yet imagined. That is perfectly true; the immense technical and intellectual development of music, both in its resources and its capacities, is an achievement of the modern world; but the essential character of musical sound is the same in its most elementary as in its most complicated stage. Its privilege is to give delight, not by communicating definite ideas, or calling up particular images, but by appealing to certain organic sensibilities in our nerves of hearing, and through such appeal expressing on the one part and arousing on the other a unique kind of emotion. The emotion caused by music may be altogether independent of any ideas conveyable by words. Or it may serve to intensify and enforce other emotions arising at the same time in connexion with the ideas conveyed by words; and it was one of the contentions of Richard Wagner that in the former phase the art is now exhausted, and that only in the latter are new conquests in store for it. But in either case the music is the music, and is like nothing else; it is no representation or similitude of anything whatsoever.
But does not instrumental music, it will be said, sometimes really imitate the sounds of nature, as the piping of birds, the whispering of woods, the moaning of storms or explosion of thunder; or does it not, at any rate, suggest these things by resemblances An objection and its answer.so close that they almost amount in the strict sense to imitation? Occasionally, it is true, music does allow itself these playful excursions into a region of quasi-imitation or mimicry. It modifies the character of its abstract sounds into something, so to speak, more concrete, and, instead of sensations which are like nothing else, affords us sensations which recognizably resemble those we receive from some of the sounds of nature. But such excursions are hazardous, and to make them often is the surest proof of vulgarity in a musician. Neither are the successful effects of the great composers in evoking ideas of particular natural phenomena generally in the nature of real imitations or representations; although passages such as the notes of the dove and nightingale in Haydn’s Creation, and of the cuckoo in Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, the bleating of the sheep in the Don Quixote symphony of Richard Strauss, must be acknowledged to be exceptions. Again, it is a recognized fact concerning the effect of instrumental music on those of its hearers who try to translate such effect into words, that they will all find themselves in tolerable agreement as to the meaning of any passage so long as they only attempt to describe it in terms of vague emotion, and to say such and such a passage expresses, as the case may be, dejection or triumph, effort or the relaxation of effort, eagerness or languor, suspense or fruition, anguish or glee. But their agreement comes to an end the moment they begin to associate, in their interpretation, definite ideas with these vague emotions; then we find that what suggests in idea to one hearer the vicissitudes of war will suggest to another, or to the same at another time, the vicissitudes of love, to another those of spiritual yearning and aspiration, to another, it may be, those of changeful travel by forest, field and ocean, to another those of life’s practical struggle and ambition. The infinite variety of ideas which may thus be called up in different minds by the same strain of music is proof enough that the music is not like any particular thing. The torrent of varied and entrancing emotion which it pours along the heart, emotion latent and undivined until the spell of sound begins, that is music’s achievement and its secret. It is this effect, whether coupled or not with a trained intellectual recognition of the highly abstract and elaborate nature of the laws of the relation, succession and combinations of sounds on which the effect depends, that has caused some thinkers, with Schopenhauer at their head, to find in music the nearest approach we have to a voice from behind the veil, a universal voice expressing the central purpose and deepest essence of things, unconfused by fleeting actualities or by the distracting duty of calling up images of particular and perishable phenomena. “Music,” in Schopenhauer’s own words, “reveals the innermost essential being of the world, and expresses the highest wisdom in a language the reason does not understand.”
Aristotle endeavoured to frame a classification of the arts, in their several applications and developments, on two grounds—the nature of the objects imitated by each, and the means or instruments employed in the imitation. But in the case of Definition of music.music, as it exists in the modern world, the first part of this endeavour falls to the ground, because the object imitated has, in the sense in which we now use the word imitation, no existence. The means employed by music are successions and combinations of vocal or instrumental sounds regulated according to the three conditions of time and pitch (which together make up melody) and harmony, or the relations of different strains of time and tone cooperant but not parallel. With these means, music either creates her independent constructions, or else accompanies, adorns, enforces the imitative art of speech—but herself imitates not; and may be best defined simply as a speaking or time art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by successions and combinations of regulated sound.
That which music is thus among the speaking or time-arts, architecture is among the shaping or space-arts. As music appeals to our faculties for taking pleasure in non-imitative combinations of transitory sound, so architecture appeals Non-imitative character of architecture.to our faculties for taking pleasure in non-imitative combinations of stationary mass. Corresponding to the system of ear-effects or combinations of time, tone and harmony with which music works, architecture works with a system of eye-effects or combinations of mass, contour, light and shade; colour, proportion, interval, alternation of plain and decorated parts, regularity and variety in regularity, apparent stability, vastness, appropriateness and the rest. Only the materials of architecture are not volatile and intangible like sound, but solid timber, brick, stone, metal and mortar, and the laws of weight and force according to which these materials have to be combined are much more severe and cramping than the laws of melody and harmony which regulate the combinations of music. The architect is further subject, unlike the musician, to the dictates and precise prescriptions of utility. Even in structures raised for purposes not of everyday use and necessity, but of commemoration or worship, the rules for such commemoration and such worship have prescribed a more or less fixed arrangement and proportion of the parts or members, whether in the Egyptian temple or temple-tomb, the Greek temple or heroon, or in the churches of the middle ages and Renaissance in the West.
Hence the effects of architecture are necessarily less full of various, rapturous and unforeseen enchantment than the effects of music. Yet for those who possess sensibility to the pleasures of the eye and the perfections of shaping art, the architecture Analogies of architecture and music.of the great ages has yielded combinations which, so far as comparison is permissible between things unlike in their materials, fall little short of the achievements of music in those kinds of excellence which are common to them both. In the virtues of lucidity, of just proportion and organic interdependence of the several parts or members, in the mathematic subtlety of their mutual relations, and of the transitions from one part or member to another, in purity and finish of individual forms, in the character of one thing growing naturally out of another and everything serving to complete the whole—in these qualities, no musical combination can well surpass a typical Doric temple such as the Parthenon at Athens. None, again, can well surpass some of the great cathedrals of the middle ages in the qualities of sublimity, of complexity, in the power both of expressing and suggesting spiritual aspiration, in the invention of intricate developments and ramifications about a central plan, in the union of majesty in the main conception with fertility of adornment in detail. In fancifulness, in the unexpected, in capricious and far-sought opulence, in filling the mind with mingled enchantments of east and west and south and north, music can hardly do more than a building like St Mark’s at Venice does with its blending of Byzantine elements, Italian elements, Gothic elements, each carried to the utmost pitch of elaboration and each enriched with a hundred caprices of ornament, but all working together, all in obedience to a law, and “all beginning and ending with the Cross.”
In the case of architecture, however, as in the case of music, the non-imitative character must not be stated quite without exception or reserve. There have been styles of architecture in which forms suggesting or imitating natural or other Exceptional and limited admission of imitative forms in architecture.phenomena have held a place among the abstract forms proper to the art. Often the mode of such suggestions is rather symbolical to the mind than really imitative to the eye; as when the number and relations of the heavenly planets were imaged by that race of astronomers, the Babylonians, in the seven concentric walls of their great temple, and in many other architectural constructions; or as when the shape of the cross was adopted, with innumerable slight varieties and modifications, for the ground plan of the churches of Christendom. Passing to examples of imitation more properly so called, it may be true, and was, at any rate, long believed, that the aisles of Gothic churches, when once the use of the pointed arch had been evolved as a principle of construction, were partly designed to evoke the idea of the natural aisles of the forest, and that the upsoaring 364forest trunks and meeting branches were more or less consciously imaged in their piers and vaultings. In the temple-palaces of Egypt, one of the regular architectural members, the sustaining pier, is often systematically wrought in the actual likeness of a conventionalized cluster of lotus stems, with lotus flowers for the capital. When we come to the fashion, not rare in Greek architecture, of carving this same sustaining member, the column, in complete human likeness, and employing caryatids, canephori, atlases or the like, to support the entablature of a building, it then becomes difficult to say whether we have to do with a work of architecture or of sculpture. The case, at any rate, is different from that in which the sculptor is called in to supply surface decoration to the various members of a building, or to fill with the products of his own art spaces in the building specially contrived and left vacant for that purpose. When the imitative feature is in itself an indispensable member of the architectural construction, to architecture rather than sculpture we shall probably do best to assign it.
Defining architecture, then (apart from its utility, which for the present we leave out of consideration), as a shaping art, of which the Definition of architecture.function is to express and arouse emotion by combinations of ordered and decorated mass, we pass from the characteristics of the non-imitative to those of the imitative group of arts, namely sculpture, painting and poetry.
If we keep in mind the source and origin of these arts, we must remember what has already been observed, that they spring by no means from man’s love of imitation alone, but from his desire to record and commemorate experience, using theThe imitative arts are arts of record using imitation as their means.faculty of imitation as his means. Mnemosyne (Memory) was in Greek tradition the mother of the Muses; imitation, in the sense above defined, is but their instrument. Hence we might think “arts of record” a better name for this group than arts of imitation. The answer is—but a large part of pure architecture is also commemorative; from the pyramids and obelisks of Egypt down there are many monuments in which the impulse of men to perpetuate their own or others’ memories has worked without any aid of imitation. Hence as the definition of a class of arts contrasted with architecture and music the name “arts of record” would fail; and we have to fall back on the current and established name of the “imitative arts.” In considering them we cannot do better than follow that Aristotelian division which describes each art according, first, to the objects which it imitates, and, secondly, to the means it employs.
Taking sculpture first, as imitating a smaller range of objects than the other two, and imitating them more completely: sculpture may have for the objects of its imitation the shapes of whatever things possess length, breadth and magnitude. For its Sculpture as an imitative art.means or instruments it has solid form, which the sculptor either carves out of a hard substance, as in the case of wood and stone, or models in a yielding substance, as in the case of clay and wax, or casts in a dissolved or molten substance, as in the case of plaster and of metal in certain uses, or beats, draws or chases in a malleable and ductile substance, as in the case of metal in other uses, or stamps from dies or moulds, a method sometimes used in all soft or fusible materials. Thus a statue or statuette may either be carved straight out of a block of stone or wood, or first modelled in clay or wax, then moulded in plaster or some equivalent material, and then carved in stone or cast in bronze. A gem is wrought in stone by cutting and grinding. Figures in jeweller’s work are wrought by beating and chasing; a medallion by beating and chasing or else by stamping from a die; a coin by stamping from a die; and so forth. The process of modelling (Gr. πλ?ττειν) in a soft substance being regarded as the typical process of the sculptor, the name plastic art has been given to his operations in general.
In general terms, the task of sculpture is to imitate solid form with solid form. But sculptured form may be either completely or incompletely solid. Sculpture in completely solid form exactly reproduces, whether on the original or on a different Sculpture in the round and in relief.scale, the relations or proportions of the object imitated in the three dimensions of length, breadth and depth or thickness. Sculpture in incompletely solid form reproduces the proportions of the objects with exactness only so far as concerns two of its dimensions, namely, those of length and breadth; while the third dimension, that of depth or thickness, it reproduces in a diminished proportion, leaving it to the eye to infer, from the partial degree of projection given to the work, the full projection of the object imitated. The former, or completely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in the round; its works stand free, and can be walked round and seen from all points. The latter, or incompletely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in relief; its works do not stand free, but are engaged in or attached to a background, and can only be seen from in front. According, in the latter kind of sculpture, to its degree of projection from the background, a work is said to be in high or in low relief. Sculpture in the round and sculpture in relief are alike in this, that the properties of objects which they imitate are their external forms as defined by their outlines—that is, by the boundaries and circumscriptions of their masses—and their light and shade—the lights and shadows, that is, which diversify the curved surfaces of the masses in consequence of their alternations and gradations of projection and recession. But the two kinds of sculpture differ in this. A work of sculpture in the round imitates the whole of the outlines by which the object imitated is circumscribed in the three dimensions of space, and presents to the eye, as the object itself would do, a new outline succeeding the last every moment as you walk round it. Whereas a work of sculpture in relief imitates only one outline of any object; it takes, so to speak, a section of the object as seen from a particular point, and traces on the background the boundary-line of that particular section, merely suggesting, by modelling the surface within such boundary according to a regular, but a diminished, ratio of projection, the other outlines which the object would present if seen from all sides successively.
As sculpture in the round reproduces the real relations of a solid object in space, it follows that the only kind of object which it can reproduce with pleasurable effect according to the laws of regulated or rhythmical design must be one not too Subjects proper for sculpture in the round.vast or complicated, one that can afford to be detached and isolated from its surroundings, and of which all the parts can easily be perceived and apprehended in their organic relations. Further, it will need to be an object interesting enough to mankind in general to make them take delight in seeing it reproduced with all its parts in complete imitation. And again, it must be such that some considerable part of the interest lies in those particular properties of outline, play of surface, and light and shade which it is the special function of sculpture to reproduce. Thus a sculptured representation in the round, say, of a mountain with cities on it, would hardly be a sculpture at all; it could only be a model, and as a model might have value; but value as a work of fine art it could not have, because the object imitated would lack organic definiteness and completeness; it would lack universality of interest, and of the interest which it did possess, a very inconsiderable part would depend upon its properties of outline, surface, and light and shade. Obviously there is no kind of object in the world that so well unites the required conditions for pleasurable imitation in sculpture as the human body. It is at once the most complete of organisms, and the shape of all others the most subtle as well as the most intelligible in its outlines; the most habitually detached in active or stationary freedom; the most interesting to mankind, because its own; the richest in those particular effects, contours and modulations, contrasts, harmonies and transitions of modelled surface and circumscribing line, which it is the prerogative of sculpture to imitate. Accordingly the object of imitation for this art is pre-eminently the body of man or woman. That it has not been for the sake of representing men and women as such, but for the sake of representing gods in the likeness of men and women, that the human form has been most enthusiastically studied, does not affect this fact in the theory of the art, though it is a consideration of great importance in its history. Besides the human form, sculpture may imitate the forms of those of the lower animals whose physical endowments have something of a kindred perfection, with other natural or artificial objects as may be needed merely by way of accessory or symbol. The body must for the purposes of this art be divested of covering, or covered only with such tissues as reveal, translate or play about without concealing it. Chiefly in lands and ages where climate and social use have given the sculptor the opportunity of studying human forms so draped or undraped has this art attained perfection, and become exemplary and enviable to that of other races.
Relief sculpture is more closely connected with architecture than the other kind, and indeed is commonly used in subordination to it. But if its task is thus somewhat different from that of sculpture in the round, its principal objects of imitation Subjects proper for sculpture in relief.are the same. The human body remains the principal theme of the sculptor in relief; but the nature of his art allows, and sometimes compels, him to include other objects in the range of his imitation. As he has not to represent the real depth or projection of things, but only to suggest them according to a ratio which he may fix himself, so he can introduce into the third or depth dimension, thus arbitrarily reduced, a multitude of objects for which the sculptor in the round, having to observe the real ratio of the three dimensions, has no room. He cam place one figure in slightly raised outline emerging from behind the more fully raised outline of another, and by the same system can add to his representation rocks, trees, nay mountains and cities and birds on the wing. But the more he uses this liberty the less will he be truly a sculptor. Solid modelling, and real light and shade, are the special means or instrument of effect which the sculptor alone among imitative artists enjoys. Single outlines and contours, the choice of one particular section and the tracing of its circumscription, are means which the sculptor enjoys in common with the painter or draughtsman. And indeed, when we consider works executed wholly or in part in very low relief, whether Assyrian battle-pieces and hunting-pieces in alabaster or bronze, or the backgrounds carved in bronze, marble or wood by the Italian sculptors who followed the example set by Ghiberti at the Renaissance, we shall see that the principle of such work is not the principle of sculpture at all. Its effect depends little on qualities of surface-light and shadow, and mainly on qualities of contour, as traced by a slight line of shadow on the side away from the light, and a slight line of light on the side next to it. And we may fairly hesitate whether we shall rank the artist who works on this principle, which 365is properly a graphic rather than a plastic principle, among sculptors or among draughtsmen. The above are cases in which the relief sculptor exercises his liberty in the introduction of other objects besides human figures into his sculptured compositions. But there is another kind of relief sculpture in which the artist has less choice. That is, the kind in which the sculptor is called in to decorate with carved work parts of an architectural construction which are not adapted for the introduction of figure subjects, or for their introduction only as features in a scheme of ornament that comprises many other elements. To this head belongs most of the carving of capitals, mouldings, friezes (except the friezes of Greek temples), bands, cornices, and, in the Gothic style, of doorway arches, niches, canopies, pinnacles, brackets, spandrels and the thousand members and parts of members which that style so exquisitely adorned with true or conventionalized imitations of natural forms. This is no doubt a subordinate function of the art; and it is impossible, as we have seen already, to find a precise line of demarcation between carving, in this decorative use, which is properly sculpture, and that which belongs properly to architecture.
Leaving such discussions, we may content ourselves with the definition of sculpture as Definition of sculpture.a shaping art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by the imitation of natural objects, and principally the human body, in solid form, reproducing either their true proportions in three dimensions, or their proportions in the two dimensions of length and breadth only, with a diminished proportion in the third dimension of depth or thickness.
In considering bas-relief as a form of sculpture, we have found ourselves approaching the confines of the second of the shaping imitative arts, the graphic art or art of painting. Painting, as to its means or instruments of imitation, dispenses Painting as an imitative art.with the third dimension altogether. It imitates natural objects by representing them as they are represented on the retina of the eye itself, simply as an assemblage of variously shaped and variously shaded patches of colour on a flat surface. Painting does not reproduce the third dimension of reality by any third dimension of its own whatever; but leaves the eye to infer the solidity of objects, their recession and projection, their nearness and remoteness, by the same perspective signs by which it also infers those facts in nature, namely, by the direction of their several boundary lines, the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows, the strength or faintness of their tones of colour.
Hence this art has an infinitely greater range and freedom than any form of sculpture. Near and far is all the same to it, and whatever comes into the field of vision can come also into the field of a picture; trees as well as persons, and Range of objects imitable by painting.clouds as well as trees, and stars as well as clouds; the remotest mountain snows, as well as the violet of the foreground, and far-off multitudes of people as well as one or two near the eye. Whatever any man has seen, or can imagine himself as seeing, that he can also fix by painting, subject only to one great limitation,—that of the range of brightness which he is able to attain in imitating natural colour illuminated by light. In this particular his art can but correspond according to a greatly diminished ratio with the effects of nature. But excepting this it can do for the eye almost all that nature herself does; or at least all that nature would do if man had only one eye since the three dimensions of space produce upon our binocular machinery of vision a particular stereoscopic effect of which a picture, with its two dimensions only, is incapable. The range of the art being thus almost unbounded, its selections have naturally been dictated by the varying interest felt in this or that subject of representation by the societies among whom the art has at various times been practised. As in sculpture, so in painting, the human form has always held the first place. For the painter, the intervention of costume between man and his environment is not a misfortune in the same degree as it is for the sculptor. For him, clothes of whatever fashion or amplitude have their own charm; they serve to diversify the aspect of the world, and to express the characters and stations, if not the physical frames, of his personages; and he is as happy or happier among the brocades of Venice as among the bare limbs of the Spartan palaestra. Along with man, there come into painting all animals and vegetation, all man’s furniture and belongings, his dwelling-places, fields and landscape; and in modern times also landscape and nature for their own sakes, skies, seas, mountains and wildernesses apart from man.
Besides the two questions about any art, what objects does it imitate, and by the use of what means or instruments, Aristotle proposes (in the case of poetry) the further question, which of several possible forms does the imitation in any The chief forms or modes of painting: line, light-and-shade and colour.given case assume? We may transfer very nearly the same inquiry to painting, and may ask, concerning any painter, according to which of three possible systems he works. The three possible systems are (1) that which attends principally to the configuration and relations of natural objects as indicated by the direction of their boundaries, for defining which there is a convention in universal use, the convention, that is, of line; this may be called for short the system of line; (2) that which attends chiefly to their configuration and relations as indicated by the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows—this is the system of light-and-shadeor chiaroscuro; and (3) that which attends chiefly, not to their configuration at all, but to the distribution, qualities and relations of local colours upon their surface—this is the system of colour. It is not possible for a painter to imitate natural objects to the eye at all without either defining their boundaries by outlines, or suggesting the shape of their masses by juxtapositions of light and dark or of local colours. In the complete art of painting, of course, all three methods are employed at once. But in what is known as outline drawing and outline engraving, one of the three methods only is employed, line; in monochrome pictures, and in shaded drawings and engravings, two only, line with light-and-shade; and in the various shadeless forms of decorative painting and colour-printing, two only, line with colour. Even in the most accomplished examples of the complete art of painting, as was pointed out by Ruskin, we find that there almost always prevails a predilection for some one of these three parts of painting over the other two. Thus among the mature Italians of the Renaissance, Titian is above all things a painter in colour, Michelangelo in line, Leonardo in light-and-shade. Many academic painters in their day tried to combine the three methods in equal balance; to the impetuous spirit of the great Venetian, Tintoretto, it was alone given to make the attempt with a great measure of success. A great part of the effort of modern painting has been to get rid of the linear convention altogether, to banish line and develop the resources of the oil medium in imitating on canvas, more strictly than the early masters attempted, the actual appearance of things on the retina as an assemblage of coloured streaks and patches modified and toned in the play of light-and-shade and atmosphere.
It remains to consider, for the purpose of our classification, what are the technical varieties of the painter’s craft. Since we gave the generic name of painting to all imitation of natural objects by the assemblage of lines, colours and lights and darks Technical varieties of the painter’s craft.on a single plane, we must logically include as varieties of painting not only the ordinary crafts of spreading or laying pictures on an opaque surface in fresco, oil, distemper or water-colour, but also the craft of arranging a picture to be seen by the transmission of light through a transparent substance, in glass painting; the craft of fitting together a multitude of solid cubes or cylinders so that their united surface forms a picture to the eye, as in mosaic; the craft of spreading vitreous colours in a state of fusion so that they form a picture when hardened, as in enamel; and even, it would seem, the crafts of weaving, tapestry, and embroidery, since these also yield to the eye a plane surface figured in imitation of nature. As drawing we must also count incised or engraved work of all kinds representing merely the outlines of objects and not their modellings, as for instance the graffiti on Greek and Etruscan mirror-backs and dressing-cases; while raised work in low relief, in which outlines are plainly marked and modellings neglected, furnishes, as we have seen, a doubtful class between sculpture and painting. In all figures that are first modelled in the solid and then variously coloured, sculpture and painting bear a common share; and by far the greater part both of ancient and medieval statuary was in fact tinted so as to imitate or at least suggest the colours of life. But as the special characteristic of sculpture, solidity in the third dimension, is in these cases present, it is to that art and not to painting that we shall still ascribe the resulting work.
With these indications we may leave the art of painting defined in general terms as a Definition of painting.shaping or space art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by the imitation of all kinds of natural objects, reproducing on a plane surface the relations of their boundary lines, lights and shadows, or colours, or all three of these appearances together.
The next and last of the imitative arts is the speaking art of poetry. The transition from sculpture and painting to poetry is, from the point of view not of our present but of our first division among the fine arts, abrupt and absolute. It is a transitionPoetry as an imitative art.from space into time, from the sphere of material forms to the sphere of immaterial images. Following Aristotle’s method, we may define the objects of poetry’s imitation or evocation, as everything of which the idea or image can be called up by words, that is, every force and phenomenon of nature, every operation and result of art, every fact of life and history, or every imagination of such a fact, every thought and feeling of the human spirit, for which mankind in the course of its long evolution has been able to create in speech an explicit and appropriate sign. The means or instruments of poetry’s imitation are these verbal signs or words, arranged in lines, strophes or stanzas, so that their sounds have some of the regulated qualities and direct emotional effect of music.
The three chief modes or forms of the imitation may still be defined as they were defined by Aristotle himself. First comes the epic or narrative form, in which the poet speaks alternately for himself and his characters, now describing their The chief forms or modes of poetry.situations and feelings in his own words, and anon making each of them speak in the first person for himself. Second comes the lyric form, in which the poet speaks in his own name exclusively, and gives expression to sentiments which are purely personal. Third comes thedramatic form, in which the poet does not speak for himself at all, but only puts into the mouths of each of his personages successively such discourse as he thinks 366appropriate to the part. The last of these three forms of poetry, the dramatic, calls, if it is merely read, on the imagination of the reader to fill up those circumstances of situation, action and the rest, which in the first or epic form are supplied by the narrative between the speeches, and for which in the lyric or personal form there is no occasion. To avoid making this call upon the imagination, to bring home its effects with full vividness, dramatic poetry has to call in the aid of several subordinate arts, the shaping or space art of the scene-painter, the mixed time and space arts of the actor and the dancer. Occasionally also, or in the case of opera throughout, dramatic poetry heightens the emotional effect of its words with music. A play or drama is thus, as performed upon the theatre, not a poem merely, but a poem accompanied, interpreted, completed and brought several degrees nearer to reality by a combination of auxiliary effects of the other arts. Besides the narrative, the lyric and dramatic forms of poetry, the didactic, that is the teaching or expository form, has usually been recognized as a fourth. Aristotle refused so to recognize it, regarding a didactic poem in the light not so much of a poem as of a useful treatise. But from the Works and Days down to the Loves of the Plants there has been too much literature produced in this form for us to follow Aristotle here. We shall do better to regard didactic poetry as a variety corresponding, among the speaking arts, to architecture and the other manual arts of which the first purpose is use, but which are capable of accompanying and adorning use by a pleasurable appeal to the emotions.
We shall hardly make our definition of poetry, considered as an imitative art, too extended if we say that it is Definition of poetry.a speaking or time art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by imitating or evoking all or any of the phenomena of life and nature by means of words arranged with musical regularity.
Neither the varieties of poetical form, however, nor the modes in which the several forms have been mixed up and interchanged—as such mixture and interchange are implied, for instance, by the very title of a group of Robert Browning’s poems, Relation of poetry as an Imitative art to painting and sculpture.the Dramatic Lyrics,—the observation of neither of these things concerns us here so much as the observation of the relations of poetry in general, as an art of representation or imitation, to the other arts of imitation, painting and sculpture. Verbal signs have been invented for innumerable things which cannot be imitated or represented at all either in solid form or upon a coloured surface. You cannot carve or paint a sigh, or the feeling which finds utterance in a sigh; you can only suggest the idea of the feeling, and that in a somewhat imperfect and uncertain way, by representing the physical aspect of a person in the act of breathing the sigh. Similarly you cannot carve or paint any movement, but only figures or groups in which the movement is represented as arrested in some particular point of time; nor any abstract idea, but only figures or groups in which the abstract idea, as for example release, captivity, mercy, is symbolized in the concrete shape of allegorical or illustrative figures. The whole field of thought, of propositions, arguments, injunctions and exhortations is open to poetry but closed to sculpture and painting. Poetry, by its command over the regions of the understanding, of abstraction, of the movement and succession of things in time, by its power of instantaneously associating one image with another from the remotest regions of the mind, by its names for every shade of feeling and experience, exercises a sovereignty a hundred times more extended than that of either of the two arts of manual imitation. But, on the other hand, words do not as a rule bear any sensible resemblance to the things of which they are the signs. There are few things that words do not stand for or cannot call up; but they stand for things symbolically and at second hand, and call them up only in idea, and not in actual presentment to the senses. In strictness, the business of poetry should not be called imitation at all, but rather evocation. The strength of painting and sculpture lies in this, that though there are countless phenomena which they cannot represent at all, and countless more which they can only represent by symbolism and suggestion more or less ambiguous, yet there are a few which each can represent more fully and directly than poetry can represent any thing at all. These are, for sculpture, the forms or configurations of things, which that art represents directly to the senses both of sight and touch; and for painting the forms and colours of things and their relations to each other in space, air and light, which the art represents to the sense of sight, directly so far as regards surface appearance, and indirectly so far as regards solidity. For many delicate qualities and differences in these visible relations of things there are no words at all—the vocabulary of colours, for instance, is in all languages surprisingly scanty and primitive. And those visible qualities, for which words exist, the words still call up indistinctly and at second hand. Poetry is almost as powerless to bring before the mind’s eye with precision a particular shade of red or blue, a particular linear arrangement or harmony of colour-tones, as sculpture is to relate a continuous experience, or painting to enforce an exhortation or embellish an abstract proposition. The wise poet, as has been justly remarked, when he wants to produce a vivid impression of a visible thing, does not attempt to catalogue or describe its stationary beauties. Shakespeare, when he wants to make us realize the perfections of Perdita, puts into the mouth of Florizel, not, as a bad poet would have done, a description of her lilies and carnations, and the other charms which a painter could make us realize better, but the praises of her ways and movements; and with the final touch,
“When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that,”
he evokes a twofold image of beauty in motion, of which one half might be the despair of those painters who designed the dancing maidens of the walls of Herculaneum, and the other half the despair of all artists who in modern times have tried to fix upon their canvas the buoyancy and grace of dancing waves. In representing the perfections of form in a bride’s slender foot, the speaking art, poetry, would find itself distanced by either of the shaping arts, painting or sculpture. Suckling calls up the charm of such a foot by describing it not at rest but in motion, and in the feet which
“Beneath the petticoat,
Like little mice, went in and out,”
leaves us an image which baffles the power of the other arts. Keats, when he tells of Madeline unclasping her jewels on St Agnes’s Eve, does not attempt to conjure up their lustre to the eye, as a painter would have done, and a less poetical poet might have tried to do, but in the words “her warmed jewels” evoked instead a quality, breathing of the very life of the wearer, which painting could not even have remotely suggested.
The differences between the means and capacities of representation proper to the shaping arts of sculpture and painting and those proper to the speaking art of poetry were for a long while overlooked or misunderstood. The maxim of Simonides, General law of the relative means and capacities of the several imitative arts: sculpture.that poetry is a kind of articulate painting, and painting a kind of mute poetry, was vaguely accepted until the days of Lessing, and first overthrown by the famous treatise of that writer on the Laocoön. Following in the main the lines laid down by Lessing, other writers have worked out the conditions of representation or imitation proper not only to sculpture and painting as distinguished from poetry, but to sculpture as distinguished from painting. The chief points established may really all be condensed under one simple law, that the more direct and complete the imitation effected by any art, the less is the range and number of phenomena which that art can imitate. Thus sculpture in the round imitates its objects much more completely and directly than any other single art, reproducing one whole set of their relations which no other art attempts to reproduce at all, namely, their solid relations in space. Precisely for this reason, such sculpture is limited to a narrow class of objects. As we have seen, it must represent human or animal figures; nothing else has enough either of universal interest or of organic beauty and perfection. Sculpture in the round must represent such figures standing free in full clearness and detachment, in combinations and with accessories comparatively simple, on pain of teasing the eye with a complexity and entanglement of masses and lights and shadows; and in attitudes comparatively quiet, on pain of violating, or appearing to violate, the conditions of mechanical stability. Being a stationary or space-art, it can only represent a single action, which it fixes and perpetuates for ever; and it must therefore choose for that action one as significant and full of interest as is consistent with due observation of the above laws of simplicity and stability. Such actions, and the facial expressions accompanying them, should not be those of sharp crisis or transition, because sudden movement or flitting expression, thus arrested and perpetuated in full and solid imitation by bronze or marble, would be displeasing and not pleasing to the spectator. They must be actions and expressions in some degree settled, collected and capable of continuance, and in their collectedness must at the same time suggest to the spectator as much as possible of the circumstances which have led up to them and those which will next ensue. These conditions evidently bring within a very narrow range the phenomena with which this art can deal, and explain why, as a matter of fact, the greater number of statues represent simply a single figure in repose, with the addition of one or two symbolic or customary attributes. Paint a statue (as the greater part both of Greek and Gothic statuary was in fact painted), and you bring it to a still further point of imitative completeness to the eye; but you do not thereby lighten the restrictions laid upon the art by its material, so long as it undertakes to reproduce in full the third or solid dimension of bodies. You only begin to lighten its restrictions when you begin to relieve it of that duty. We have traced how sculpture in relief, which is satisfied with only a partial reproduction of the third dimension, is free to introduce a larger range of objects, bringing forward secondary figures and accessories, indicating distant planes, indulging even in considerable violence and complexity of motion, since limbs attached to a background do not alarm the spectator by any idea of danger of fragility. But sculpture in the round has not this licence. It is true that the art has at various periods made efforts to escape from its natural limitations. Several of the later schools of antiquity, especially that of Pergamus in the 3rd and 2nd centuries b.c., strove hard both for violence of expression and complexity of design, not only in relief-sculptures, like the great altar-friezes now at Berlin, but in detached groups, such as (pace Lessing) the Laocoön itself. Many modern virtuosi of sculpture since Bernini have misspent their 367skill in trying to fix in marble both the restlessness of momentary actions and the flimsiness of fluttering tissues. In latter days Auguste Rodin, an innovating master with a real genius for his art, has attacked many problems of complicated grouping, more or less in the nature of the Greeksymplegmata, but keeps these interlocked or contorted actions circumscribed within strict limiting lines, so that they do not by jutting or straggling suggest a kind of acrobatic challenge to the laws of gravity. The same artist and others inspired by him have further sought to emancipate sculpture from the necessity of rendering form in clear and complete definition, and to enrich it with a new power of mysterious suggestion, by leaving his figures wrought in part to the highest finish and vitality of surface, while other parts (according to a precedent set in some unfinished works of Michelangelo) remain scarcely emergent from the rough-hewn or unhewn block. But it may be doubted whether such experiments and expedients can permanently do much to enlarge the scope of the art.
Next we arrive at painting, in which the third dimension is dismissed altogether, and nothing is actually reproduced, in full or partially, except the effect made by the appearance of natural objects upon the retina of the eye. The consequence Means and capacities of painting.is that this art can range over distance and multitude, can represent complicated relations between its various figures and groups of figures, extensive backgrounds, and all those infinite subtleties of appearance in natural things which depend upon local colours and their modification in the play of light and shade and enveloping atmosphere. These last phenomena of natural things are in our experience subject to change in a sense in which the substantial or solid properties of things are not so subject. Colours, shadows and atmospheric effects are naturally associated with ideas of transition, mystery and evanescence. Hence painting is able to extend its range to another kind of facts over which sculpture has no power. It can suggest and perpetuate in its imitation, without breach of its true laws, many classes of facts which are themselves fugitive and transitory, as a smile, the glance of an eye, a gesture of horror or of passion, the waving of hair in the wind, the rush of horses, the strife of mobs, the whole drama of the clouds, the toss and gathering of ocean waves, even the flashing of lightning across the sky. Still, any long or continuous series of changes, actions or movements is quite beyond the means of this art to represent. Painting remains, in spite of its comparative width of range, tied down to the inevitable conditions of a space-art: that is to say, it has to delight the mind by a harmonious variety in its effects, but by a variety apprehended not through various points of time successively, but from various points in space at the same moment. The old convention which allowed painters to indicate sequence in time by means of distribution in space, dispersing the successive episodes of a story about the different parts of a single picture, has been abandoned since the early Renaissance; and Wordsworth sums up our modern view of the matter when he says that it is the business of painting
To one blest moment snatched from fleeting time
The appropriate calm of blest eternity.”
Lastly, a really unfettered range is only attained by the art which does not give a full and complete reproduction of any natural fact at all, but evokes or brings natural facts before the mind merely by the images which words convey. The whole Means and capacities of poetry.world of movement, of continuity, of cause and effect, of the successions, alternations and interaction of events, characters and passions of everything that takes time to happen and time to declare, is open to poetry as it is open to no other art. As an imitative or, more properly speaking, an evocative art, then, poetry is subject to no limitations except those which spring from the poverty of human language, and from the fact that its means of imitation are indirect. Poetry’s account of the visible properties of things is from these causes much less full, accurate and efficient than the reproduction or delineation of the same properties by sculpture and painting. And this is the sum of the conditions concerning the respective functions of the three arts of imitation which had been overlooked, in theory at least, until the time of Lessing.
To the above law, in the form in which we have expressed it, it may perhaps be objected that the acted drama is at once the most full and complete reproduction of nature which we owe to the fine arts, and that at the same time the number of The acted drama no real exception to the general law.facts over which its imitation ranges is the greatest. The answer is that our law applies to the several arts only in that which we may call their pure or unmixed state. Dramatic poetry is in that state only when it is read or spoken like any other kind of verse. When it is witnessed on the stage, it is in a mixed or impure state; the art of the actor has been called in to give actual reproduction to the gestures and utterances of the personages, that of the costumier to their appearances and attire, that of the stage-decorator to their furniture and surroundings, that of the scene-painter to imitate to the eye the dwelling-places and landscapes among which they move; and only by the combination of all these subordinate arts does the drama gain its character of imitative completeness or reality.
Throughout the above account of the imitative and non-imitative groups of fine arts, we have so far followed Aristotle as to allow the name of imitation to all recognizable representation or evocation of realities,—using the word “realities” in no Things unknown shadowed forth by imitation of things known.metaphysical sense, but to signify the myriad phenomena of life and experience, whether as they actually and literally exist to-day, or as they may have existed in the past, or may be conceived to exist in some other world not too unlike our own for us to conceive and realize in thought. When we find among the ruins of a Greek temple the statue of a beautiful young man at rest, or above the altar of a Christian church the painting of one transfixed with arrows, we know that the statue is intended to bring to our minds no mortal youth, but the god Hermes or Apollo, the transfixed victim no simple captive, but Sebastian the holy saint. At the same time we none the less know that the figures in either case have been studied by the artist from living models before his eyes. In like manner, in all the representations alike of sculpture, painting and poetry the things and persons represented may bear symbolic meanings and imaginary names and characters; they may be set in a land of dreams, and grouped in relations and circumstances upon which the sun of this world never shone; in point of fact, through many ages of history they have been chiefly used to embody human ideas of supernatural powers; but it is from real things and persons that their lineaments and characters have been taken in the first instance, in order to be attributed by the imagination to another and more exalted order of existences.
The law which we have last laid down is a law defining the relations of sculpture, painting and poetry, considered simply as arts having their foundations at any rate in reality, and drawing from the imitation of reality their indispensable elements and Imitation by art necessarily an idealized imitation.materials. It is a law defining the range and character of those elements or materials in nature which each art is best fitted, by its special means and resources, to imitate. But we must remember that, even in this fundamental part of its operations, none of these arts proceeds by imitation or evocation pure and simple. None of them contents itself with seeking to represent realities, however literally taken, exactly as those realities are. A portrait in sculpture or painting, a landscape in painting, a passage of local description in poetry, may be representations of known things taken literally or for their own sakes, and not for the sake of carrying out thoughts to the unknown; but none of them ought to be, or indeed can possibly be, a representation of all the observed parts and details of such a reality on equal terms and without omissions. Such a representation, were it possible, would be a mechanical inventory and not a work of fine art.
Hence the value of a pictorial imitation is by no means necessarily in proportion to the number of facts which it records. Many accomplished pictures, in which all the resources of line, colour and light-and-shade have been used to the utmost of Completeness not the test of value in a pictorial imitation.the artist’s power for the imitation of all that he could see in nature, are dead and worthless in comparison with a few faintly touched outlines or lightly laid shadows or tints of another artist who could see nature more vitally and better. Unless the painter knows how to choose and combine the elements of his finished work so that it shall contain in every part suggestions and delights over and above the mere imitation, it will fall short, in that which is the essential charm of fine art, not only of any scrap of a great master’s handiwork, such as an outline sketch of a child by Raphael or a colour sketch of a boat or a mackerel by Turner, but even of any scrap of the merest journeyman’s handiwork produced by an artistic race, such as the first Japanese drawing in which a water-flag and kingfisher, or a spray of peach or almond blossom across the sky, is dashed in with a mere hint of colour, but a hint that tells a whole tale to the imagination. That only, we know, is fine art which affords keen and permanent delight to contemplation. Such delight the artist can never communicate by the display of a callous and pedantic impartiality in presence of the facts of life and nature. His representation of realities will only strike or impress others in so far as it concentrates their attention on things by which he has been struck and impressed himself. To arouse emotion, he must have felt emotion; and emotion is impossible without partiality. The artist is one who instinctively tends to modify and work upon every reality before him in conformity with some poignant and sensitive principle of preference or selection in his mind. He instinctively adds something to nature in one direction and takes away something in another, overlooking this kind of fact and insisting on that, suppressing many particulars which he holds irrelevant in order to insist on and bring into prominence others by which he is attracted and arrested.
The instinct by which an artist thus prefers, selects and brings into light one order of facts or aspects in the thing before him rather than the rest, is part of what is called the idealizing or ideal faculty. Interminable discussion has been spent on the Nature of the idealizing process.questions,—What is the ideal, and how do we idealize? The answer has been given in one form by those thinkers (e.g. Vischer and Lotze) who have pointed out that the process of aesthetic idealization carried on by the artist is only the 368higher development of a process carried on in an elementary fashion by all men, from the very nature of their constitution. The physical organs of sense themselves do not retain or put on record all the impressions made upon them. When the nerves of the eye receive a multitude of different stimulations at once from different points in space, the sense of eyesight, instead of being aware of all these stimulations singly, only abstracts and retains a total impression of them together. In like manner we are not made aware by the sense of hearing of all the several waves of sound that strike in a momentary succession upon the nerves of the ear; that sense only abstracts and retains a total impression from the combined effect of a number of such waves. And the office which each sense thus performs singly for its own impressions, the mind performs in a higher degree for the impressions of all the senses equally, and for all the other parts of our experience. We are always dismissing or neglecting a great part of our impressions, and abstracting and combining among those which we retain. The ordinary human consciousness works like an artist up to this point; and when we speak of the ordinary or inartistic man as being impartial in the retention or registry of his daily impressions, we mean, of course, in the retention or registry of his impressions as already thus far abstracted and assorted in consciousness. The artistic man, whose impressions affect him much more strongly, has the faculty of carrying much farther these same processes of abstraction, combination and selection among his impressions.
The possession of this faculty is the artist’s most essential gift. To attempt to carry farther the psychological analysis of the gift is outside our present object; but it is worth while to consider somewhat closely its modes of practical operation. Subjective and objective ideals.One mode is this: the artist grows up with certain innate or acquired predilections which become a part of his constitution whether he will or no,—predilections, say, if he is a dramatic poet, for certain types of plot, character and situation; if he is a sculptor, for certain proportions and a certain habitual carriage and disposition of the limbs; if he is a figure painter, for certain schemes of composition and moulds of figure and airs and expressions of countenance; if a landscape painter, for a certain class of local character, sentiment and pictorial effect in natural scenery. To such predilections he cannot choose but make his representations of reality in large measure conform. This is one part of the transmuting process which the data of life and experience have to undergo at the hands of artists, and may be called the subjective or purely personal mode of idealization. But there is another part of that work which springs from an impulse in the artistic constitution not less imperious than the last named, and in a certain sense contrary to it. As an imitator or evoker of the facts of life and nature, the artist must recognize and accept the character of those facts with which he has in any given case to deal. All facts cannot be of the cast he prefers, and in so far as he undertakes to deal with those of an opposite cast he must submit to them; he must study them as they actually are, must apprehend, enforce and bring into prominence their own dominant tendencies. If he cannot find in them what is most pleasing to himself, he will still be led by the abstracting and discriminating powers of his observation to discern what is most expressive and significant in them, he will emphasize and put on record this, idealizing the facts before him not in his direction but in their own. This is the second or objective half of the artist’s task of idealization. It is this half upon which Taine dwelt almost exclusively, and on the whole with a just insight into the principles of the operation, in his well-known treatise On the Ideal in Art. Both these modes of idealization are legitimate; that which springs from inborn and overmastering personal preference in the artist for particular aspects of life and nature, and that which springs from his insight into the dominant and significant character of the phenomena actually before him, and his desire to emphasize and disengage them. But there is a third mode of idealizing which is less vital and genuine than either of these, and therefore less legitimate, though unfortunately far more common. This mode consists in making things conform to a borrowed and conventional standard of beauty and taste, which corresponds neither to any strong inward predilection of the artist nor to any vital characteristic in the objects of his representation. Since the rediscovery of Greek and Roman sculpture in the Renaissance, a great part of the efforts of artists have been spent in falsifying their natural instincts and misrepresenting the facts of nature in pursuit of a conventional ideal of abstract and generalized beauty framed on a false conception and a shallow knowledge of the antique. School after school from the 16th century downwards has been confirmed in this practice by academic criticism and theory, with resulting insipidities and insincerities of performance which have commonly been acclaimed in their day, but from which later generations have sooner or later turned away with a wholesome reaction of distaste.
The two genuine modes of idealization, the subjective and the objective, are not always easy to be reconciled. The greatest artist is no doubt he who can combine the strongest personal instincts of preference with the keenest power of observing characteristics as Examples of the two modes and of their reconciliation.they are, yet in fact we find few in whom both these elements of the ideal faculty have been equally developed. To take an example among Florentine painters, Sandro Botticelli is usually thought of as one who could never escape from the dictation of his own personal ideals, in obedience to which he is supposed to have invested all the creations of his art with nearly the same conformation of brows, lips, cheeks and chin, nearly the same looks of wistful yearning and dejection. There is some truth in this impression, though it is largely based on the works not of the master himself, but of pupils who exaggerated his mannerisms. Leonardo da Vinci was strong in both directions; haunted in much of his work by a particular human ideal of intellectual sweetness and alluring mystery, he has yet left us a vast number of exercises which show him as an indefatigable student of objective characteristics and psychological expressions of an order the most opposed to this. And in this case again followers have over-emphasized the master’s predilections, Luini, Sodoma and the rest borrowing and repeating the mysterious smile of Leonardo till it becomes in their work an affectation cloying however lovely. Among latter-day painters, Burne-Jones will occur to every reader as the type of an artist always haunted and dominated by ideals of an intensely personal cast partly engendered in his imagination by sympathy with the early Florentines. If we seek for examples of the opposite principle, of that idealism which idealizes above all things objectively, and seeks to disengage the very inmost and individual characters of the thing or person before it, we think naturally of certain great masters of the northern schools, as Dürer, Holbein and Rembrandt. Dürer’s endeavour to express such characters by the most searching intensity of linear definition was, however, hampered and conditioned by his inherited national and Gothic predilection for the strained in gesture and the knotted and the gnarled in structure, against which his deliberate scholarly ambition to establish a canon of ideal proportion contended for the most part in vain. And Rembrandt’s profound spiritual insight into human character and personality did not prevent him from plunging his subjects, ever deeper and deeper as his life advanced, into a mysterious shadow-world of his own imagination, where all local colours were broken up and crumbled, and where amid the struggle of gloom and gleam he could make his intensely individualized men and women breathe more livingly than in plain human daylight.
It is by the second mode of operation chiefly, that is by imaginatively discerning, disengaging and forcing into prominence their inherent significance, that the idealizing faculty brings into the sphere of fine art deformities and degeneracies Caricature and the grotesque as modes of the ideal.to which the name beautiful or sublime can by no stretch of usage be applied. Hence arise creations like the Stryge of Notre-Dame and a thousand other grotesques of Gothic architectural carving. Hence, although on a lower plane and interpreted with a less transmuting intensity of insight and emphasis, the snarling or jovial grossness of the peasants of Adrian Brauwer and the best of his Dutch compeers. Hence Shakespeare’s Caliban and figures like those of Quilp and Quasimodo in the romances of Dickens and Hugo; hence the cynic grimness of Goya’s Caprices and the profound and bitter impressiveness of Daumier’s caricatures of Parisian bourgeois life; or again, in an angrier and more insulting and therefore less understanding temper, the brutal energy of the political drawings of Gilray.
Sculpture, painting and poetry, then, are among the greater fine arts those which express and arouse emotion by imitating or evoking real and known things, either for their own sakes literally, or for the sake of shadowing forth things not known but Unidealized imitation not fine art.imagined. In either case they represent their originals, not indiscriminately as they are, but sifted, simplified, enforced and enhanced to our apprehensions partly by the artist’s power of making things conform to his own instincts and preferences, partly by his other power of interpreting and emphasizing the significant characters of the facts before him. Any imitation that does not do one or other or both of these things in full measure fails in the quality of emotional expression and emotional appeal, and in so failing falls short, taken merely as imitation, of the standard of fine art.
But we must remember that idealized imitation, as such, is not the whole task of these arts nor their only means of appeal. There is another part of their task, logically though not practically independent of the relations borne by their imitations The appeal of the imitative arts depends partly on non-imitative elements.to the original phenomena of nature, and dependent on the appeal made through the eye and ear to our primal organic sensibilities by the properties of rhythm, pattern and regulated design in the arrangement of sounds, lines, masses, colours and light-and-shade. That appeal we noted as lying at the root of the art impulse in its most elementary stage. In its most developed stage every fine art is bound still to play upon the same sensibilities. In a work of sculpture the contours and interchanges of light and shadow are bound to be such as would please the eye, whether the statue or relief represented the figure of anything real in the world or not. The flow and balance of line, and the distribution of colours and light-and-shade, in a picture are bound to be such as would make an agreeable pattern although they bore no resemblance to natural fact (as, indeed, many subordinate applications of this art, in decorative painting and geometrical and other ornaments, do, we know, give pleasure though they represent nothing). The 369sound of a line or verse in poetry is bound to be such as would thrill the physical ear in hearing, or the mental ear in reading, with a delightful excitement even though the meaning went for nothing. If the imitative arts are to touch and elevate the emotions, if they are to afford permanent delight of the due pitch and volume, it is not a more essential law that their imitation, merely as such, should be of the order which we have defined as ideal, than that they should at the same time exhibit these independent effects which they share with the non-imitative group.
So far we have assumed, without asserting, the necessity that the artist in whatever kind should possess a power of execution, or technique as it is called in modern phrase, adequate to the task of embodying and giving shape to his ideals. Necessity of due balance between conception and technique: the non-imitative arts and their technique.In thought it is possible to separate the conception of a work of art from its execution; in practice it is not possible, and half the errors in criticism and speculation about the fine arts spring from failing to realize that an artistic conception can only be brought home to us through and by its appropriate embodiment. Whatever the artist’s cast of imagination or degree of sensibility may be in presence of the materials of life, it is essential that he should be able to express himself appropriately in the material of his particular art. To quote the writer (R.A.M. Stevenson) who has enforced this point most clearly and vividly, perhaps with some pardonable measure of over-statement: “It is a sensitiveness to the special qualities of some visible or audible medium of art which distinguishes the species artist from the genus man.” And again: “There are as many separate faculties of imagination as there are separate mediums in which to conceive an image—clay, words, paint, notes of music.” ... “Technique differs as the material of each art differs—differs as marble, pigments, musical notes and words differ.” The artist who does not enjoy and has not with delighted labour mastered the effects of his own chosen medium will never be a master; the hearer, reader or spectator who cannot appreciate the qualities of skill, vitality and charm in the handling of the given material, or who fails to feel their absence when they are lacking, or who looks in one material primarily for the qualities appropriate to another, will never make a critic. The technique of the space-arts differs radically from that of the time-arts. So again do those of the imitative and the non-imitative arts differ among themselves. The non-imitative arts of music and architecture are in a certain degree alike in this, that the artist is in neither case his own executant (this at least is true of music so far as concerns its modern concerted and orchestral developments); the musical composer and the architect each imagines and composes a design in the medium of his own art which it is left for others to carry out under his direction. The technique in each case consists not in mastery of an instrument (though the musical composer may be, and often is, a master of some one of the instruments whose effects he in his mind’s ear co-ordinates and combines); it lies in the power of knowing and conjuring up all the emotional resources and effects of the various materials at his command, and of conceiving and designing to their last detail vast and ordered structures, to be raised by subordinate executants from those materials, which shall adequately express his temperament and embody his ideals.
In the imitative arts, on the other hand, the sculptor, unless he is a fraud, must be wholly his own executant in the original task of modelling his design in the soft material of clay or wax, though he must accept the aid of assistants whether The imitative arts and their technique: painting and sculpture.in the casting of his work in bronze or in first roughing it out from the block in marble. Too many sculptors have been inclined further to trust to trained mechanical help in finishing their work with the chisel; with the result that the surface loses the touch which is the expression of personal temperament and personal feeling for the relations of his material to nature. The artist in love with the vital qualities of form, or those of his own handiwork in expressing such qualities in modelling-clay, will never stop until he learns how to translate them for himself in marble. Proceeding to that imitative art which leaves out the third dimension of nature, and by so doing enormously increases the range of objects and effects which come within its power—proceeding to the art of painting, the painter is in theory exclusively his own executant, and in practice mainly so, though in certain schools and periods the great artists have been accustomed to surround themselves with pupils to whom they have imparted their methods and who have helped them in the subordinate and preparatory parts of their work. But the painter fit to teach and lead can by no means escape the necessity of being himself a master of his material, and his handling of it must needs bear the immediate impress of his temperament. His emotional preferences among the visible facts of nature, his feeling for the relative importance and charm of line, colour, light and shade, used whether for the interpretation and heightening of natural fact or for producing a pattern in itself harmonious and suggestive to the eye, his sense of the special modes of handling most effective for communicating the impression he desires, all these together inevitably appear in, and constitute, his style and technique. If he is careless or inexpert or conventional, or cold or without delight, in technique, though he may be animated by the noblest purposes and the loftiest ideas, he is a failure as a painter. At certain periods in the history of painting, as in the 13th and 14th centuries in Italy, the technique seems indeed to modern eyes wholly immature; but that was because there were many aspects of visible things which the art had not yet attempted or desired to portray, not because it did not put forth with delight its best traditional or newly acquired skill in portraying the special aspects with which it had so far attempted to grapple. At certain other periods, as in the later 16th and 17th centuries in the same country, the elements of inherited technical facility and academic pride of skill outweigh the sincerity and freshness of interest taken in the aspects of things to be portrayed, and the true balance is lost. At other times, as in much of the work of the 19th century, especially in England, painters have been diverted from their true task, and lost hold of intelligent and living technique altogether, in trying to please a public blind to the special qualities of their art, and prone to seek in it the effects, frivolous or serious, which are appropriate not to paint and canvas but to literature.
Lastly, the poet and literary artist must obviously be the exclusive master of his own technique. No one can help him: all depends on the keenness of his double sensibility to the thrill of life and to that of words, and to his power of maintaining a Technique in poetry: the magic of words.just balance between the two. If he is truly and organically sensitive to words alone, and has learnt life only through their medium and not through the energies of his own imagination, nor through personal sensibility to the impact of things and thoughts and passions and experience, then his work may be a miracle of accomplished verbal music, and may entrance the ear for the moment, but will never live to illuminate and sustain and console. If, on the other hand, he has imagination and sensibility in full measure, and lacks the inborn love of and gift for words and their magic, he will be but a dumb or stammering poet all his days. There is no better witness on this point than Wordsworth. His own prolonged lapses from verbal felicity, and continual habit of solemn meditation on themes not always inspiring, might make us hesitate to choose him as an example of that particular love and gift. But Wordsworth could never have risen to his best and greatest self had he not truly possessed the sensibilities which he attributes to himself in the Prelude:
“Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own sakes, a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love.”
And again, expressing better than any one else the relation which words in true poetry hold to things, he writes:
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words;
There darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes,—there,
As in a mansion like their proper home,
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognized,
In flashes, and with glory not their own.”
3. The Serviceable and the Non-Serviceable Arts.—It has been established from the outset that, though the essential distinction of fine art as such is to minister not to material necessity or practical use, but to delight, yet there are some among the Third classification: the serviceable and the non-serviceable arts.arts of men which do both these things at once and are arts of direct use and of beauty or emotional appeal together. Under this classification a survey of the field of art at different periods of history would yield different results. In ruder times, we have seen, the utilitarian aim was still the predominant aim of art, and most of what we now call fine arts served in the beginning to fulfil the practical needs of individual and social life; and this not only among primitive or savage races. In ancient Egypt and Assyria the primary purpose of the relief-sculptures on palace and temple walls was the practical one of historical record and commemoration. Even as late as the middle ages and early Renaissance the primary business of the painter was to give instruction to the unlearned in Bible history and in the lives of the saints, and to rouse him to moods of religious and ethical exaltation. The pleasures of fine art proper among the manual-imitative group—the pleasures, namely, of producing and contemplating certain arrangements rather than others of design, proportion, pattern, colour and light and shade, and of putting forth and appreciating certain qualities of skill, truth and significance in idealized imitation,—these were, historically speaking, by-products that arose gradually in the course of practice and development. As time went on, the conscious aim of ministering to such pleasures displaced and threw into the background the utilitarian ends for which the arts had originally been practised, and the pleasures became ends in themselves.
But even in advanced societies the double qualities of use and 370beauty still remain inseparable, among the five greater arts, in architecture. We build in the first instance for the sake of Among the greater arts, architecture alone exist primarily for service.necessary shelter and accommodation, or for the commemoration, propitiation or worship of spiritual powers on whom we believe our welfare to depend. By and by we find out that the aspect of our constructions is pleasurable or the reverse. Architecture is the art of building at once as we need and as we like, and a practical treatise on architecture must treat the beauty and the utility of buildings as bound up together. But for our present purpose it has been proper to take into account one half only of the vocation of architecture, the half by which it impresses, gives delight and belongs to that which is the subject of our study, to fine art; and to neglect the other half of its vocation, by which it belongs to what is not the subject of our study, to useful or mechanical art. It is plain, however, that the presence or absence of this foreign element, the element of practical utility, constitutes a fair ground for a new and separate classification of the fine arts. If we took the five greater arts as they exist in modern times by themselves, architecture would on this ground stand alone in one division, as the directly useful or serviceable fine art; with sculpture, painting, music and poetry together in the other division, as fine arts unassociated with such use or service. Not that the divisions would, even thus, be quite sharply and absolutely separated. Didactic poetry, we have already acknowledged, is a branch of the poetic art which aims at practice and utility. Again, the hortatory and patriotic kinds of lyric poetry, from the strains of Tyrtaeus to those of Arndt or Rouget de Lisle or Wordsworth’s sonnets written in war-time, may fairly be said to belong to a phase of fine art which aims directly at one of the highest utilities, the stimulation of patriotic feeling and self-devotion. So may the strains of music which accompany such poetry. The same practical character, as stimulating and attuning the mind to definite ends and actions, might indeed have been claimed for the greater part of the whole art of music as that art was practised in antiquity, when each of several prescribed and highly elaborated moods, or modes, of melody was supposed to have a known effect upon the courage and moral temper of the hearer. Compare Milton, when he tells of the Dorian mood of flutes and soft recorders which assuaged the sufferings and renewed the courage of Satan and his legions as they marched through hell. In modern music, of which the elements, much more complex in themselves than those of ancient music, have the effect of stirring our fibres to moods of rapturous contemplation rather than of action, military strains in march time are in truth the only purely instrumental variety of the art which may still be said to retain this character.
To reinforce, however, the serviceable or useful division of fine arts in our present classification, it is not among the greater arts that we must look. We must look among the lesser or auxiliary arts of the manual or shaping group. The Other and minor arts of service subordinate to architecture.weaver, the joiner, the potter, the smith, the goldsmith, the glass-maker, these and a hundred artificers who produce wares primarily for use, produce them in a form or with embellishments that have the secondary virtue of giving pleasure both to the producer and the user. Much ingenuity has been spent to little purpose in attempting to group and classify these lesser shaping arts under one or other of the greater shaping arts, according to the nature of the means employed in each. Thus the potter’s art has been classed under sculpture, because he moulds in solid form the shapes of his cups, plates and ewers; the art of the joiner under that of the architect, because his tables, seats and cupboards are fitted and framed together, like the houses they furnish, out of solid materials previously prepared and cut; and the weaver and embroiderer, from the point of view of the effects produced by their art, among painters. But the truth is, that each one of these auxiliary handicrafts has its own materials and technical procedure, which cannot, without forcing and confusion, be described by the name proper to the materials and technical procedure of any of the greater arts. The only satisfactory classification of these handicrafts is that now before us, according to which we think of them all together in the same group with architecture, not because any one or more of them may be technically allied to that art, but because, like it, they all yield products capable of being practically useful and beautiful at the same time. Architecture is the art which fits and frames together, of stone, brick, mortar, timber or iron, the abiding and assembling places of man, all his houses, palaces, temples, monuments, museums, workshops, roofed places of meeting and exchange, theatres for spectacle, fortresses of defence, bridges, aqueducts, and ships for seafaring. The wise architect having fashioned any one of these great constructions at once for service and beauty in the highest degree, the lesser or auxiliary manual arts (commonly called “industrial” or “applied” arts) come in to fill, furnish and adorn it with things of service and beauty in a lower degree, each according to its own technical laws and capabilities; some, like pottery, delighting the user at once by beauty of form, delicacy of substance, and pleasantness of imitative or non-imitative ornament; some, like embroidery, by richness of tissue, and by the same twofold pleasantness of ornament; some, like goldsmith’s work, by exquisiteness of fancy and workmanship proportionate to the exquisiteness of the material. To this vast group of workmen, whose work is at the same time useful and fine in its degree, the ancient Greek gave the place which is most just and convenient for thought, when he classed them all together under the name of τ?κτονες, or artificers, and called the builder by the name of ?ρχιτ?κτων, arch-artificer or artificer-in-chief. Modern usage has adopted the phrase “arts and crafts” as a convenient general name for their pursuits.