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Speaking of the "St. George and the Dragon" teller than do the pictures in S. Giorgio degli in the series, and especially of the distant figures of the sultan and his daughter, Ruskin says:
For truly, and with hard-earned and secure knowledge of such matters, I tell you, through all this round world of ours, searching what the best life of it has done of brightest in all its times and years,—you shall not find another piece quite the like of that little piece of work, for supreme, serene, unassuming, unfaltering sweetness of painter's perfect art. Over every other precious thing, of such things known to me, it rises, in the compass of its simplicity; in being able to gather the perfections of the joy of extreme childhood, and the joy of a hermit's age, with the strength and sunshine of mid-life, all in one. Which is indeed more or less true of all Carpaccio's work and mind; but in this piece you have it set in close jewellery, radiant, inestimable.
Schiavoni. Though he afterward painted some pictures which are to be ranked higher as art, they are more under the technical influence of the greater painters of the school in which he had his training-a training which, like that of Tintoretto, was interfered with by what must be considered as a refractory originality. He had the Venetian sense of color in a high degree, but in his use of the material he never attained the technical perfection of the secondary masters, such as Palma and Lotto. The telling of his story was evidently more imporin the Slavonian series is thin and in parts tant to him than his technic, and the painting slovenly. What is said of his method by Cavalcaselle, referring to his best work, I accept as proof that he had never attained the complete mastery of oils that some of his contemporaries gained. He began like Bellini with tempera, but unlike Bellini he never rid himself of the influence of his original method of working.
No one can dispute Ruskin's enjoyment of this phase of art, or his right to establish his own standard of art for his own enjoyment and teaching. I can only point out that the standard is one which does not conform to that of the greater experts in art, the painters themThat a glowing, ruddy, perhaps uniform tone selves, or with my view of a healthy definition was habitual to him in these days, is proved by of art itself. The infirmity of his judgment is vatore at Venice, under the name of Giovanni the "Christ at Emmaus" preserved in San Salfurther shown in what he says of some little Bellini; a picture in which we neither notice Belpictures in the church of St. Alvise, which he lini's types, nor his feeling as a colorist, nor his attributes to Carpaccio, but which the highest line as a draughtsman. If we look at the contrasts living authority in that particular line of judg- of tints and their harmony, we detect the art fament, not only in my opinion but in that miliar to Carpaccio in pitting one shade against of Cavalcaselle, and whose knowledge is even another to make up the chord; there is no subadmitted by Mr. Ruskin,-C. F. Murray, dis- tle agency at work to blend tints together, the tinctly declares to have no trace of the work-flesh is not broken up or varied to produce efmanship of Carpaccio beyond the evident imi- fect. Warmth, on the contrary, is obtained by an even red film thrown over all, and without partial tation of some of his peculiarities of drawing glazes. by a follower whose inherent feebleness Ruskin mistakes for the youth of the master. But he says, with that peremptoriness of opinion which leaves no chance of modification, except in confession of ignorance, that "in all these pictures the qualities of Carpaccio are already entirely pronounced; the grace, quaintness, simplicity, and deep intentness on the meaning of incidents." It is true that Crowe and Cavalcaselle enter these pictures in the catalogue of works of Carpaccio, but as "school pictures," a term at which Ruskin inveighs, but which is in precise accordance with the opinion of Mr. Murray. To give the best view of such an extraordinary estimate of the qualities of Carpaccio, I can only say that Ruskin forms his opinion of the painter (and to a great extent of all art) on the quality of story-telling, which I hold is not, properly speaking, the art at all, but is the thought of the man, and is always to be held utterly distinct from the manner in which the story is presented, which is his art.
The "History of St. Ursula" gives higher proof of Carpaccio's preeminence as a story
This is the method of a painter whose mastery of the technical appliances is incomplete. A great colorist would never be obliged to complete his harmony by a general glaze warming the entire scheme, this being a rude device to cure a recognized crudeness.
As a story-teller Carpaccio has had no superior in the school of Venice, and perhaps none in Italian art. His imagination is wayward, subtle, full of minute inventions and happy surprises, and his originality is distinct and, in his most matured and characteristic work, almost separates him from the contemporary Venetian art, though in his methods he at times adheres to one or another of the teachers with whom he was associated in his early training. He leaves upon me the impression of an artist in whom the subject had always overpowered the art, in whom invention ran so far ahead of the power of delivery that he had no time to wait for his brush to do its work completely. To the dilettante who studies him completely, and who is not led aside from the
intellectual conception by the critical study of methods and technical mastery, he offers more intense satisfaction than some of the greater painters a satisfaction which I must hold to be apart from the purely artistic standard. It is on this ground that Ruskin does him honor. Living and dying as he did in the midst of a community in which the technical appre
ciation of art had been fed to the utmost by daily study of the greatest triumphs of color the world has seen, his life and his exit from it, as well as his works, attracted less attention than they merited. Thus it is that we know nothing of Carpaccio personally, and know not when or where he was born and died.
W. J. Stillman.
NOTES BY TIMOTHY COLE.
HE Carpaccio detail is taken from the large picture in the Venice Academy, which is itself one of a series of nine large works showing scenes from the legend of St. Ursula. The entire picture represents the ambassadors of the king of England before the king of Brittany to prefer their prince's request for the hand of his daughter Ursula. The compartment to the right of the picture, separated from it by a pillar and showing conventionally another room of the palace, is the detail that I have chosen. It is in itself a complete composition, and very charming it certainly is.
Much embarrassed, the king has retired from the council to his private chamber; for he knows that his daughter has made a vow of perpetual chastity and has dedicated herself to Christ, yet he fears to offend the powerful monarch of England by refusing his suit. He has delayed the answer till the morrow, and now sits meditating his reply. He leans his head upon one hand. The other, gloved, still holds the letter of the king of England. While in this mood his daughter Ursula enters, and, learning the cause of his melancholy, bids him be of good cheer, and proceeds to detail to him the conditions under which she will wed the king.
First, he shall give to the as my ladies and companions ten virgins of the noblest blood in his kingdom, and to every one of these a thousand attendants, and to me also a thousand maidens to wait on me. Second, he shall permit me for the space of three years to honor my virginity, and with my companions to visit the holy shrines where repose the bodies of the saints. And my third demand is [we can imagine the maid in the picture
as in the act of telling this, for she is touching her third finger] that the king and his court shall receive baptism; for other than a perfect Christian I cannot wed.
The size of the entire work is 8 feet 9%1⁄2 inches high by 19 feet 3 inches long. That of the detail given is 3 feet 3 inches wide by 5 feet 6 inches high. It is painted on canvas, and is very rich and soft in color. It is broadly and simply treated, though upon close inspection we find it full of the most exquisite detail. The king's robe, for instance, is richly worked in embroidery too delicate to allow of engraving on so small a scale. I have stippled it, and have thus given some impression of its rich effect. It is of a glowing, soft tone of yellow like old gold. This is relieved against the white bedspread and the canopy above, which is of a rich, soft red. The background is warm gray, and appears to be of marble. Through the grating above is seen the ceiling of another room. The Madonna on the wall is enshrined in a yellow frame like gold. The casing of the window is of a soft, dull red, the book beneath it of a brighter red, and under all there is a charming dado of flowers. The head of the princess is relieved against a dark panel. Her complexion and hair are fair. She is clothed in a delicate, soft, neutral blue, draped with a mantle of rich, bright red. The combination of the whole is most harmonious and pleasing. St. Ursula is the patroness of young girls, particularly school-girls, and of all women who devote themselves especially to the care and education of their own sex.
THE GREAT UNKNOWN.
In mare multa latent.
IR CHARLES LYELL, the eminent geologist, and a most intelligent observer of natural phenomena, while in this country asked his friend Colonel Perkins of Boston what he knew of the so-called sea-serpent. The latter replied," Unfortunately, I have seen it." The guarded qualification of his remark betrays the chronic condition of wounded sensibility entertained by the eye-witnesses of the "strange occurrence" at that time.
Ridicule had dealt most bitterly with the gentle souls who in the innocence of their wellassured integrity had given a heartless world their simple "word for it." It was now a temptation to forswear, or at least to ignore, all knowledge of any strange creature, marine or terrestrial; though all the while, in mental reserve, they were ready to affirm with Galileo, "E pur si muove"; or, perhaps, with the righteous old negro preacher, in equal faith and with like spirit, to insist that "the sun do move."
Students of the present day have become so familiar with the remarkable remains of extinct reptilian forms, of species differing essentially in size and aspect from those of the present, yet evidently nearly allied, that it has come to be a rational and legitimate thought that
Such things be,
And overcome us like a summer's cloud, Without our special wonder.
It is a well-known scientific truth that races of terrestrial and aquatic animals now extinct,
proportions, correspond so nearly to the living ocean creature which has been seen in various parts of the Atlantic Ocean and is known as the sea-serpent," that it is tolerably well settled among zoologists that the existence of such an animal in the present geological time is not improbable.
Up to the present our recorded knowledge of such creatures, quite aside from the idle tales that periodically appear in print, has originated from the most respectable sources; and it is most fortunate that in several instances the observers chanced to be practical zoologists.
but not far removed from some present living forms, were of the most surprising magnitude.
The examples of "findings" pointing strongly to the coetaneous relations of man and mastodon are accumulating with much significance. In the phosphate beds of South Carolina, and in the greensands of New Jersey, lie the bones of gigantic reptiles, cetaceans, and sharks. The "Bad Lands" of Kansas and the adjacent Territories teem with buried forms, all strange and all gigantic. The halls of Princeton, Yale, and Columbia, and the Central Park Museum of Natural History, contain many a "cross-bone" and cranium, pelvis and vertebra, whose restored relations would greatly astonish us. The great mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, ichthyosaurs, and numerous other sea-reptiles, whose bones are found buried along the Atlantic shores and represent creatures of gigantic
Small wonder, therefore, that the theme, albeit peculiarly susceptible to misconstruction, should be held by zoologists as involving great possibilities.
It is the all but actual discovery lately of a great creature evidently allied to the "Unknown" that has prompted the gathering of these scraps of history appertaining to the subject.
Having been familiar with the early testimony concerning the appearance on the New England coast of the so-called sea-serpent, and having had personal acquaintance with some of the eye-witnesses, now all passed away,and having personal knowledge of the views
of the elder Agassiz, and some other eminent zoologists, whose faith in the probable existence of such was well known, I have recorded from time to time any facts tending to elucidate the theme. Some recent developments, to be referred to anon, tended to strengthen the interest, and it seemed most advisable that whatever has borne the semblance of truth in the several remarkable testimonies should be brought to the archives of science for preservation.
At a recent session of the New York Academy of Sciences I had the pleasure of presenting a résumé of the subject, which was subsequently published in the Academy's "Transactions," with some appropriate remarks by the president, Dr. J. S. Newberry, and others, eliciting the fact that a general feeling exists favorable to the views herein expressed.
The subject is interesting, and tempts one to give a historical presentation, but the valuable pages of THE CENTURY cry aloud for conciseness. It is necessary, therefore, to present the historical connections" by title."
DRAWN BY J. SMIT.
As in all that appertains to human book knowledge, Aristotle forms the starting-point of this history. Pliny follows, and tells some startling, if not altogether reliable, things. Then follow the usual learned authors whose ponderous folios and great copper-etchings, elaborate and costly, picture all that is told about sea-monsters with a latitude sufficient, perhaps, for the liveliest imagination.
Some of the later of the ancient authors speak of sea-serpents that inhabit the Indian Ocean and some parts of the Pacific. These records have been verified, but the length of the creatures is never more than twelve feet. It is now well known in scientific ichthyology that there are several species of the genera Pelamys, Hydrophis, and Platurus inhabiting the oceans mentioned, that they are true ocean-snakes, and are more or less venomous. Several small forms of the genera are in the collection at Central Park. The tails are flattened vertically, and serve the purpose of oars, "sculling" being their true method of propulsion. In the Catacombs of Rome several sarcophagi were found containing remains of early Christians. On one of the inscriptions is a likeness of a great serpent swallowing a man, though it is entitled Jonah and the Whale." The oldest chronicler of "sea-serpent" lore, independent of the purely imaginary tales, is Olaus Magnus, Archbishop of Upsala, who devotes an entire chapter to the subject. Bishop Pontoppidan, whose "Natural History of Norway " is so well known, fills a notable place in the literature of
ENGRAVED BY J. DALZIEL.
vision of profound, exacting research which obtains at present.
It is not altogether the fact that few or many good people subscribe under oath to what they have seen that can satisfy the modern zoölogist. It is the fact that the actual bony remains of precisely such creatures as have been described as "sea-serpents" are found in various places on our coast. It is this more than all else that induces a belief in the probable existence of similar creatures in the great depths.
Near the close of the second decade of the present century there appeared off the coast of Massachusetts Bay one or more strange creatures, differing essentially in general aspect from anything hitherto observed. They were evidently sea-going creatures, oceanic ones, and impressed all of their many observers as serpentine or saurian-like in shape and movements.
Colonel Perkins of Boston communicated his observations of one of these "appearances" to the "Boston Daily Advertiser" at the time.
Wishing to satisfy myself on a subject on which there existed a great excitement, I visited Gloucester, Cape Ann, with Mr. Lee. We met sevcreature had not been seen during several days. eral persons returning who reported that the We, however, continued on our route to Gloucester. All the town, as you may suppose, were on the alert, and almost every individual, both great and small, had been gratified, at a greater
or less distance, with a sight of him. The weather was fine, the sea smooth, and Mr. Lee and myself sat on a point of land overlooking the harbor, and about fifty feet from the water. In a few moments I saw on the opposite side of the har
bor, at about two miles' distance from where I had been sitting, an object moving with a rapid motion up the harbor on the western shore. As he approached us it was easy to see that his motion was not that of a common snake, either on land or in the water, but evidently the vertical movement of a caterpillar. As nearly as I could judge there was visible at a time about forty feet of his body. It was very evident that the length must have been much greater than what appeared, as in his movements he left a considerable wake in his rear.
I had a fine glass, and was within a third of a mile of him. The head was flat in the water, and the animal was, as far as I could distinguish, of
a chocolate color.
There were a great many people collected, many of whom had seen the same object. From the time I first saw him until he passed by where I stood, and soon after disappeared, was about twenty minutes.
One of the revenue cutters, whilst in the neighborhood of Cape Ann, had an excellent view of the animal at a few yards' distance. He moved slowly, and at the approach of the vessel sank, and was not seen again.
In 1817, the Linnæan Society of Boston, Massachusetts, published a "Report relative to the appearance of a large marine monster, supposed to be a sea-serpent, seen near Cape Ann, Massachusetts, in August of that year." A good deal of care was taken to obtain evidence, and the depositions of eleven witnesses of marked integrity were taken. There was great uniformity in the testimony.
The Hon. Amos Lawrence, one of the most eminent of Boston's citizens, gave similar testimony from personal observation. His cottage
was situated on high ground overlooking the bay, within less than a mile of the creature at times.
Colonel Harris, commanding at Fort Independence, Boston Harbor, stated that such a creature had been seen and reported by his sentinels, while it was swimming around the fort in the early hours.
Many other accounts were stated and recorded, agreeing in the main with the above. I select that of Mr. Nathan D. Chase of Lynn, Massachusetts, as especially trustworthy and valuable from the fact that he was one accustomed to observe closely, and to record his observations in the light of much reading on semi-technical subjects. I am inclined to give unusual weight to his statement, also, from having known him intimately through life as a neighbor and friend, and, as such, having heard from him the "oft-told tale." The following refers to the second appearance of the seaserpent, in 1819, at Lynn. In a letter written in 1881 for the purpose of conveying concisely all he knew of the circumstances, with reference to recording them, Mr. Chase says:
In relation to the account given by myself of a strange fish, serpent, or other marine animal, I have to say that I saw him on a pleasant, calm summer morning of August, 1819, from Long Beach, Lynn, now called Nahant. The water was smooth, and the creature seemed about a quarter of a mile away; consequently we could see him distinctly, and the motion of his body. Later in the day I saw him again off Red Rock. He then passed along about one hundred feet from where I stood, with head about two feet out of the water. His speed was about that of an ordinary steamer.
What I saw of his length was about sixty feet. It was difficult to count the humps, or undulations,