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If we look through the more important of the but who, except the penny press, cared for those landscapes in the Salon, we find that there is in pictures in the same way? Why is it that Mr. the better works an amount of dignity which we Vicat Cole paints year after year, in entrancing have hardly obtained in landscape. In place of hues, the most beautiful scenes of woodland and the patient reproduction of pre-Raphaelitism, we river in our land, and yet never awakens in us a find in these works a style of treatment in which, thought or a feeling beyond admiration for his while details are given in abundance, they never- skill? It is because he is (as far as can be seen theless are held in strict subordination to the rul- in his works) utterly without any feeling for the ing feeling of the painter. It seems to me that scenes which he paints, and is only intent upon the influence of great traditions of painting, which making a beautiful picture. has such a disastrous effect upon the figure com- So I would hold that the chief merit of the positions of the French, is at the root of the French landscape-painting is its clear recognibreadth of conception which is to be found in tion of the human element, which is necessary their representations of natural scenery, and that, before paintings of scenery can affect us powerconsidering there is no trace to be found among fully. When their paintings are without this, French artists of the pre-Raphaelite love of na- they are distinctly inferior to the majority of ture's detail, this academic tradition is, on the English works, and in the element of color they whole, a good thing; it at all events prevents the are nearly always either deficient or exaggerated. artists from treating landscape in the fashion of Thanks to a few determined English artists who the Scotch painters, and reducing it to a mere have borne their banner triumphantly through a record of transient gleams of sun and clouds of perfect storm of ridicule, our painters in general mist.
have grasped the great fact that the grass is If we do not get pictures which tell us how green and the sky blue; but our neighbors have keenly the artist has felt the beauty of the scene, yet to learn it. Water-color painting, which has we certainly get some which tell us with what done so much to spread right notions as to landfeeling he has regarded it; we have an illustra- scape, is still in France in a very immature state, tive rendering of Nature, if not a transcription of and used more for slight sketches and tinted her essential beauty. Thus, for instance, in a drawings than for completed pictures. Such picture, like that by C. Bernier, of “The Aban- work as that of Walker, Pinwell, Boyce, Alfred doned Avenue,” we have a rendering of a scene Hunt, and dozens of others, has nothing to come which is both natural and beautiful, but in which near it in the Société des Aquarellistes; there is neither nature nor beauty is the chief quality, hardly a picture which attempts even to give the nor is even the solitude of a deserted park the delicacy of the medium employed. This is eschief meaning of the painter. What the artist pecially noticeable in the treatment of skies and wishes to impress upon us is a sentiment pecu- water. It seems that this arises more from a liarly national—the feeling that even the most mistaken notion as to the capabilities of the mabeautiful scenes of nature are desolate when they terial, than actual incompetence on the part of are abandoned by man—a sort of quaint, half- the artists, for in the work which they attempt in conceited, half-pathetic regret for the forest, in water-colors the French are as delicately skillful which the frou-frou of Worth's dresses is no as could be desired. But the works in this melonger heard. This feeling of the profound con- dium seem only to be designed for albums, and nection between humanity and nature is, I think, there is a bewildering spottiness of bright patches very imperfectly realized by my countrymen, and of color, and a general look of unnatural lightis partly the reason of much of our bad realistic ness and unsubstantiality, very unworthy of the art. When Mr. Millais painted “Chill October," name of serious art. If I wished to point out, why was it that every one delighted so much in to any admirer of the French coloring. its essenthe picture? Reeds and water and cloudy gray tial want of depth and feeling, I should take him sky had all been done as well before. The se- to this water-color gallery, and then to Boissier's cret was, that the artist had caught the feeling of sweetmeat-shop on the Boulevard, and ask him lost summer and coming winter, had combined to notice how exactly similar was the coloring of an intense impression with beautiful painting, and the comfits and the pictures. then given the spectator a key to his thought, so а
We have had in the Salon large works of that its truth was immediately recognized. If historical, allegorical, and sentimental interest you think that it was only because of the mas- treated from the outside point of view, and deterly painting of the picture, will you tell me why pendent for their interest on the arrangement of none of the subsequent landscapes by this mas- their figures, the gracefulness of their lines, and ter have attracted the same liking ? The paint- the accuracy of their treatment. We have had ing in “ Scotch Firs" and "Winter Fuel " was also tableaux de genre, of which we have found even more wonderful than in “Chill October ”; the great fault to be a certain staginess of treatment, which gave an unreal air to the most ordi- to examine it quietly for themselves, they will nary occurrences, except where the motive was understand why I place such work on a level by one connected with labor and sorrow, both of itself, far above the various styles which I have which are in the main depicted simply and truly described. There is in it not only beauty and We have had various styles of landscape, in thought, though there is much of both, but there which the greatest kind has been almost invaria- is that which is far beyond either, and can hardly bly actuated chiefly by the personal sentiment of be characterized in words—something which can the painter, and various styles of portraiture com- not be explained if it is not felt. One might as prehending all but the very highest department well try to explain the reason why we feel glad of that art; and we have also had decorative on a bright spring morning. I desire especially pictures and minute realistic works of many to avoid all charge of finding imaginary beauties kinds. So much for the Salon. In the Academy in pictures, or of using extravagant eulogy; but we have found that of great historical works we it is my sincere belief that this work is one of have hardly a trace; but that of the academic the highest class of spiritual art, and that, whatprinciple, which is so fully appreciated and car- ever its errors and inconsistencies may be, they ried out by the French, there are evident traces, are not to be dwelt upon for a moment in comthough it is by no means such pure academicism parison with the great truth and deep insight as in France. We have glanced at the greatest which are here displayed. Thus I think that if merit of our portraiture, and tried to show that a fair comparison be instituted between French it is superior to any that the French possess, and and English art, we shall come to the conclusion noted the great drawback of the large landscapes that, though the former is considerably wider in both of our English and Scotch schools, and also its range, and far more daring and varied in its of men like Millais and Brett, and we have rather conceptions, yet we have in English pictures hinted at than explained the true distinction be- three things, and those of the highest importween pre-Raphaelite and picturesque landscape. tance, which are hardly to be found across the
So we see that of what I defined in the be- Channel. We have portraiture-painting which ginning of this article as the greatest art we have excels in depth of feeling and penetration any found no specimens, and, as far as I am aware, foreign rivalry; we have a school of landscapethere are only two painters in England who are painting which paints nature with absolute truth capable of producing such work, and these are as far as its power extends; and we have figureRossetti and Burne Jones. Of the former it painting which can seize the inner meaning of a would be useless for me to speak, since it is years scene, and clothe its representation with an since the public has had any opportunity of see- amount of poetry and beauty before which we ing his pictures, but “ The Annunciation" of the can only bow our heads in admiration, and to latter hangs in the Grosvenor Gallery; and I which we can find no parallel even in the “ pleasthink, if any of my readers will take the trouble ant land of France.”
A VENETIAN NIGHT.
TWIL 'WILIGHT found us lingering in a palace- of years, with tremulous maiden-hair standing out
garden which had been laid out in the last from the crevices to form a background for the century for the convenience of contesse in patch- great water-god, with his beard dropping slime es and farthingales and lustrissimi in red cloaks and his mantle embroidered with weeds, who and knee-breeches. But Nature, who after all stood with a wide-mouthed urn under his arm, has a tender thought for the barren stone city, from which hung a growth of green, born of the had set the well-trimmed hedges shooting out long-gathered dregs of the stream. In the batheir arms in wild entanglement, had straightened sin below, the water lay dark and silent, with its the distorted larches and covered the flower- rock-border filled with ferns that leaned over beds with rank weed-growth, from which sprang among the shadows of the bending fir-trees. up snapdragons and larkspurs and marigolds, Ivy-leaves and brown cones lay idly on the surwhose seeds had blown down from the soap-box face. Through the arching boughs above, the gardens of the neighboring garrets.
ray of an early star darted into the sluggish Against the ivy-grown wall was an alcove water and trembled at the feet of the old god. lined with shells, mottled by the weather-stains On one side of the garden flowed the canal. A broad marble stair led to the water's edge young girls in light dresses, with dashes of color where the black gondole were moored. A white in them that lightened the gray arches and harcarved balustrade gleamed against the dark leaf- monized with the glittering balls, red and yellow age with vines, heavy with white roses, drooping and blue and silver, that hung from the oleanderover it to meet the wash of the canal.
boughs, reflecting the glow of the street-lamps You may read of such gardens as these of and catching the rays of the early moon. Venice in the old Italian poets-gardens inhab- We came upon an archway by the side of a ited by lovely enchantresses who intoxicated the church—the entrance to a dismantled cloister. senses of the warriors they lured to their painted The moonlight lay white on the pavement, pavilions lost in groves of orange and oleander, broken by the oblique shadows of the inner coland lulled their valor to sleep with the scents of umns. A stone quadrangle, raised above the magical flowers, the plashing of enchanted foun- level of the walk, occupied the body of the cloistains, the tinkling of mysterious lutes. You may ter space, with two stone wells upon it, about see sometimes, in the Italian theatres, some which, all day long, patter the naked feet of the coarse picture on the curtain, of marble steps water-carriers, the jangling of whose copper vesand balustrades, with oleanders massed above sels breaks the convent peace. them, with walks stretching back in far perspec- High on the wall were perched worn tombs tive, and a cloud-land palace high up on a hill in of old divines and physicians and soldiers and the vaporous distance, while in the foreground senators. Angels bearing scrolls, grotesque monsits a lady, in rich-toned broidered dress, listening sters, grave-eyed human heads peered down from to the love-words of some page or knight. There the stone masses rendered shapeless by the shadis something in the gaudy daub that will carry ows. The windows of the cells looked out upon you away from the vulgar actuality of its repre- the quadrangle, but, instead of peering, cowled sentation into the ideal country where the poor heads, the moonlight fell on cheerful flowerscene-painter wandered in his dreams.
growth. Along the ledge above the columns, A wide gateway led to the court of the pal- crawled stealthy feline shapes, like the ghosts of ace. On either side stood a dark, weather-beaten the old brotherhood roused from their tombs by group in stone—a satyr bearing away a nymph the night-spell. in his arms—things by which some old noble, About the windows, tawny, large- limbed infected with the false classicism of his time, had shapes were faintly outlined in the moonlightno doubt set great store, but which Nature had the green and red draperies of old Venicecharitably hidden under the drooping larch- cherubs and goddesses and giants—strong and boughs.
muscular-drawn in the red-brown tones that The court was inclosed by arches with bal- the old lagoon painters loved, and thrown into conies behind them above the covered walk. bolder relief by the gray of the wall, where the Above the street entrance was a large gilded es- plaster had dropped away, carrying with it the cutcheon-all arabesques and scrolls, tarnished bare limbs of some frescoed virtue or the floatand stained. Grated windows, overgrown with ing cloak of a pagan god. convolvulus-vines, looked on to the court. Busts We paused in the moonlight silence. There of warriors, in bronze and marble, with wide was no sound but an occasional quick tread along ball-less eyes, frowned from their smoky pedes- the outer walk, which died away under the arches. tals. Over the winding stair was a gilded Ma- It is at times like this that Venice is peopled with donna with a black face. A well, with Byzantine phantoms. arches and twisted columns carved upon it, black “Look there, where the moonlight falls on in the hollows and gleaming white on the worn the flowers in that window! Do you not see a marble projections, stood in the middle of the scaffolding rising against the arch?” I cried to court. Old wine-casks, dull blue, with rusty iron my companions. “And, standing with his hand bands, lay under the arches. A man sat smok- following the outline of that robust nymph, do ing his pipe under a bit of green vine in the cor- you not mark a tall, bearded figure in velvet cap ner. A woman was knitting near the stair. and gown? Something bright, like steel, gleams
Along the narrow streets, the people were under his long robe. As he works, he glances sitting about the thresholds with their children around, and now and again his hand leaves the playing near. Through the open doors we caught brush and wanders to his side. Down below, on glimpses of chests of drawers with fanciful pot- the cloister-walk, do you mark those slight figtery adorning them and flaring sacred prints on ures in doublet and long hose, lurking behind the the walls—all merged into the dusk that was columns and gazing up at the painter as though broken only where the rays of the shrine-lamp they would blight him with one glance from their darted from among the flowers.
fierce black eyes? Do you know who he is, that On the balconies sat, among the leafy plants, phantom painter who plies his brush so busily in the moonlight of the summer nights? It is one dened into a piazza that stretched away on one Pordenone, who lived in the golden age of Ven- side under high, covered arches, under which ice. He was all his life fired with a passion to stood market-stalls. A wide, sloping staircase, rival Titian, the pride of the republic. He paint- with low buildings on either side, led across a ed so closely after his great model, and so well bridge. wrought was his work, that the disciples of the The inner arches were thick with shadows, great colorist feared for their master's fame and through which gleamed out, touched by the swore to annihilate this upstart. And so, when moonlight, a marble shape that bore the semthe monks of San Stefano ordered Pordenone to blance of a kneeling human figure supporting a cover their cloister-wall with shapes of beauty, the platform. It was the old Gobbo, the Hunchback poor painter was forced to work at his task with of the Rialto, a poor broken slave who had knelt his sword by his side, for he knew not at what there, year after year, through the noisy noonmoment some fiery Venetian youth, whose color- days and the silent midnights, bearing upon his god was Titian, might not snatch his brush from bowed shoulders the pedestal from which the his hand and strangle him there on the holy laws and edicts of the old republic were procloister-ground."
claimed. Scrawled with pencil-marks—the cal. I can picture old Pordenone sitting up there culations of some brown fisherwife—blackened on the scaffolding in the summer mornings, when with dust and charcoal, a mark for decayed the friars were pacing the length of the cloisters, vegetables from the surplus stock of youthful conning their mass-books or telling their beads, traders, he had dragged on a weary, miserable stopping to give the painter a word of greeting, life that should have ended with the end of the or to glance stealthily at the wondrous mythic republic. There was something pathetic in that shapes, pagan gods or goddesses in the disguise submissive attitude of his, there in the mellow of Christian virtues, with which he is covering loneliness of the moonlight. He had outlived their hitherto undefiled walls. I wonder if then, his day. Centuries of humiliation had bowed his as now, the pigeons circled about the wells, back till he dared no longer walk erect among drinking at the hollows in the marble; if the the scoffing market - people. He should have bright dresses of the water-carriers flashed among gone down into the past with all the old legends the columns; if the country girls trudged with of the city, and have remained an honored, intheir baskets of roses and lavender through the tangible memory. barren stone passage; if the white-kerchiefed Who knows but that Antonio's indebtedness market-women bore their shrieking fowls head to Shylock was proclaimed from the weary shouldownward along the walk; if the tired peasants ders of the Gobbo? Or perhaps the merry dragged their baskets of purple figs, with sweet maskers, of whom Lorenzo was one, laid a rude red mouths, into the cloister-shade and begged hand on his poor head as they passed, bidding leave of the friars to stand there and sell them ? him rise and come with them. How fair and gracious the summer must have Back under the arches, at the opening of a seemed to the painter who sat up there in the narrow street, stands the dark, moldy pile the world of his creation !
people call Shylock's house. And there is a winVoices began to echo through the streets dow, set high in the wall, through which, says from the groups gathered about the doorways or tradition, fair Jessica escaped. Tell us, old Gobhigh up in the windows under the tiles—the harsh bo, if thou didst see the sweet, bold page waitvoices of men drinking in the lighted wine-shops, ing up there for gay Lorenzo ?-didst see her let the tender lullabies of watching mothers, the shrill fall the jewel-case ?-didst hear the ring of the young melody of girls' voices, hidden like night- ducats on the pavement? Didst thou twist thy ingales in high leafy prisons, the passionate utter- wry neck and prick up thy poor, servile ears to ance of young men's hearts. There is a deep see the meeting of the lovers? Was thy poor reverence for nature and the unseen in the night- heart wrung with longing and fierce despair at songs of the Venetian people. Light and gay the sight of their happiness ? Did Jessica give they are, for they are born of the moonlight and thee a kindly glance from her black eyes as she the lagoon-foam, but, like the light and the foam, passed on in the midst of the mad train, with the they are the blossoming of the heart-depths of torch-glare reddening the arches, frightening the the universe.
drowsy bats, and glowing on thy pale, pitiful A sudden turning brought us into a broad countenance ? Didst thou watch the merry crew street with shops and booths on both sides, dash up the long stair till it was lost on the closed and deserted, save for some sleepy vaga- other side, and then sink down into the darkness bond lying at full length against a door, or a and cry out in thine agony for the human Godwatchful carabiniere striding by, with his tall gifts of love and joy and pain and tears? plume nodding at every step. The street wi- Dost thou remember, old dreamer, how thy human counterpart, Launcelot Gobbo, was wont ergreens and flowering trees hung with golden to come sauntering by, and assail thee with his balls. foolish wit, turning thy miseries to a jest and High up on the terraces, tables were spread striking thee for thine ugliness? And the long- among the vines and the pots of flowers. Hidbearded Jew, tottering home to find his ducats den lamps cast mysterious lights about the stateand his daughter gone-didst thou not writhely figures of the men, the clear-cut features of when he smote thee in his agonized rage? the women, the curly heads of the children.
Where the market-boats unload and pyramids It was the bathing season in Venice. From of green cabbages rise high above the green the interior towns of the northern provinces the water, stands the old justice-hall
. When the people had flocked to the city to pass their vilmoonlight streams over the great arched door leggiatura within its dazzling white walls. It by the side of the bridge, I can see Antonio en- was easy to distinguish them from the languid, ter in his black dress, supported by his friend graceful population of the lagoons. If they were Bassanio, with the Jew whetting his knife on his of the upper classes, you would recognize a sleeve as he follows, hustled by the angry crowd greater attention to fashion in their dress with of gondoliers and fishermen, eager, one and all, less of native elegance and distinction—a certain to throw the Jewish dog into the canal. He briskness in speech and motion which jars on the may thank his prophets that he is well protected eye and ear accustomed to the soft undulations by the guards of the senate. When the plash of Venetian form and speech. of an oar echoes through the stillness, I know But it is in the middle class that the most that a gondola has drawn up at the water-gate fruitful field for comparison is found. You may of the palace. It left the mainland at dawn, and know them, as they stroll about the streets, by in it sit, half in tears, half mirthful, young Doctor their awkward air of unaccustomed idleness. Bellario and his beardless clerk Nerissa. How The women are brave in gold rings and pins, the crowd cheers and applauds ! - It is this wise and silks of green and blue and violet, made young doctor who is to plead the poor mer- with all the splendor of adornment that the taste chant's cause. I linger with the crowd on the of the provincial dressmaker could devise. The bridge, gazing eagerly up at the windows of the men wear shining black hats and fine new broadgreat hall. We are silent and breathless, for a cloth that is a deal too flimsy for their stalwart clear sweet voice rings out on the summer breeze, limbs, and indeed they look as though they were speaking of mercy, to judge and Jew. The peo- aware of the fact, and wished the ambition of ple outside catch something of the gentle speech their hard-toiling spouses had run into some and cry: “Bravo! bravissimo! il Signor Dot- other channel. Undoubtedly they are great tore!"
prophets in their own country-own fields of There is a hum of voices in the court-room vine and olive and yokes of snow-white oxen, or above. The crowd streams down the stairs, else spend their lives in dark shops, in some gray calling and huzzaing, for the Jew is worsted and old town of Lombardy or Romagna, accumuAntonio is free! Here he comes, the pale mer- lating lire, with no greater dissipation in their chant. The people crowd around him and kiss thoughts than a cheap seat at the opera on festa his hands, and the old market-women snatch at nights or a chair near the music-stand on the the folds of his robe and press them to their lips market-place of a Sunday afternoon. They wore as though he were one of their martyr-saints. a look of sober concentration, as though enjoyAnd the people cry out for a sight of the good ment were a new thing to them, and the folding young doctor, but he and his clerk have slipped of their hands a crime to be confessed to the away into the gondola that bore them to Venice, cathedral priest on their return home. for they are eager to reach Belmont before night. The women ape the Venetian graces-pow
We crossed the wide space of glittering mar- dered their hair and draped the black veil about ble which broke the rhythm of the canal, and their sunburned faces—but it booted nothing. passed piazze, surrounded by high, moldy houses, The taint of life-long activity and workfulness with arches and turreted chimneys thrown into would not give place to the calm grace and inrelief by the moonlight. Here and there, a wide born repose of the Venetian nature. church-door, with gaudy paper flowers above it, We entered the brilliant street of shops, which yawned out from the shadows. As we neared is as narrow and fantastic in its construction as an St. Mark's, the footfalls grew more frequent. Eastern bazaar. We passed arched doorways, Bursts of laughter rang through the streets. with reliefs of their patron saints over them, in Through open archways that had plants grouped which the mediæval tradesmen were wont to about them, we looked into gardens where peo- stand in their sleek prosperity on summer evenple sat about little tables, eating and drinking ings—churches with tombed philosophers over and smoking, in a blaze of gaslight among ev- the door, frowning from among their books and