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not quite sea-deities.” After the first edition had been published, Murray's Hand-Book, the commonest traveller's guide, pointed out to him just the picture he had wished for ; and just where every body else who had visited the Louvre had stopped to admire it. Of its size, and it is not small, there is not one in the gallery more conspicuous, either in position or character. Not the grandest effort of Italian art ever filled us more completely with the conception of the artist and the sentiment of the subject. The irresistible power of the waters ; the blinding violence of the wind ; the lonely isolation of the inhabitants of the cottage, close shut against the storm, which scatters the spray over its thatched roof; the peril of the vessel near the shore, and the noble resistance of the one in the offing, are all as plainly told as if we heard and saw the scene itself.

Now, why did not the author see this before ? Simply because he was not looking for excellence among the Dutch masters, - not even in sea painting. “He had passed many days in the Louvre before the above passage was written, but had not been in the habit of pausing long anywhere except in the two last rooms containing the pictures of the Italian school.”

.” And if it was so in the Louvre, which is rich in Dutch pictures, was it not so in other galleries ? and if so, why did he not confine himself to a condemnation of the Italian school ? We do not admit his excuse, when he says of this omission, that “ he does not consider it as in any wise unfitting him for the task he has undertaken, that for every hour passed in galleries he has passed days on the seashore."

We admit and feel that he is a good judge of nature ; but we want what he undertakes in this book to give ; we want his careful and candid judgment of pictures. Having admitted, by way of prophesying, this power in Ruysdael, when he

supposed it had never been exercised, it is amusing to observe the unwilling praise with which he follows up this discovery of it in his last edition :

“ There is a sea piece of Ruysdael's in the Louvre, which, though nothing very remarkable in any quality of art, is, at least, forceful, agreeable, and, as far as it goes, natural; the waves have much freedom of action and power of color; the wind blows hard over the shore ; and the whole picture may be studied with profit, as a proof that the deficiency of color and every thing else in Backhuysen's works is no fault of the Dutch sea.”

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P. 340.

Again, of those who have been universally allowed to excel all others in rendering the truth of water :

“ The water-painting of all the elder landscape-painters, excepting a few of the better passages of Claude and Ruysdael, is so execrable, so beyond all expression and explanation bad, and Claude and Ruysdael's best are so cold and valueless, that I do not know how to address those who like such painting ; I do not know what their sensations are respecting sea. I can perceive nothing in Vandevelde or Backhuysen of the lowest redeeming merit; no power, no presence of intellect, or evidence of perception, of any sort or kind; no resemblance, even the feeblest, of any thing natural ; no invention, even the most sluggish, of any thing agree

able."

p. 324.

After this, the author need not be afraid of being thought to mean more than he has said ; the danger is, that, saying so much, he will be thought to mean nothing at all ; which, perhaps, would be his best apology.

Of Claude, Salvator, and Gaspar :

“ There is no evidence of their ever having gone to Nature with any thirst, or received from her such emotion as could make them even for an instant lose sight of themselves; there is in them neither earnestness nor humility; there is no simple or honest record of any single truth ; none of the plain words nor straight efforts that men speak and make when they once feel.”

- p. 76.

And much more of such general denial of all capacity for what they undertook, which, even where the denial is limited in terms to their truth, is attributed to an incapacity which leaves no room for the acknowledgment of any other merit.

The author claims to have formed these strange opinions, if such words really denote any, from a "familiar acquaintance with every important work of art from Antwerp to Naples”; and yet, by his own admission, he was ignorant, when he wrote the last of the foregoing extracts, of one of the most important pictures of Ruysdael in the Louvre ; and one of the very character in which he had sagacity enough to know that Ruysdael could paint well enough to compel praise even from him. “I wish Ruysdael had painted one or two rough seas. I believe, if he had, he might have saved the unhappy public from much victimizing, both in mind and pocket; for he would have shown that Vandevelde and Backhuysen were not quite sea-deities.” After the first edition had been published, Murray's Hand-Book, the commonest traveller's guide, pointed out to him just the picture he had wished for; and just where every body else who had visited the Louvre bad stopped to admire it. Of its size, and it is not small, there is not one in the gallery more conspicuous, either in position or character. Not the grandest effort of Italian art ever filled us more completely with the conception of the artist and the sentiment of the subject. The irresistible power of the waters ; the blinding violence of the wind ; the lonely isolation of the inhabitants of the cottage, close shut against the storm, which scatters the spray over its thatched roof; the peril of the vessel near the shore, and the noble resistance of the one in the offing, are all as plainly told as if we heard and saw the scene itself. Now, why did not the author see this before ? Simply because he was not looking for excellence among the Dutch masters,

not even in sea painting. “He had passed many days in the Louvre before the above passage was written, but had not been in the habit of pausing long any. where except in the two last rooms containing the pictures of the Italian school.” And if it was so in the Louvre, which is rich in Dutch pictures, was it not so in other galleries ? and if so, why did he not confine himself to a condemnation of the Italian school ? We do not admit his excuse, when he says of this omission, that “ he does not consider it as in any wise unfitting him for the task he has undertaken, that for every hour passed in galleries he has passed days on the seashore."

We admit and feel that he is a good judge of nature ; but we want what he undertakes in this book to give ; we want his careful and candid judgment of pictures. Having admitted, by way of prophesying, this power in Ruysdael, when he supposed it had never been exercised, it is amusing to observe the unwilling praise with which he follows up this discovery of it in his last edition :

" There is a sea piece of Ruysdael's in the Louvre, which, though nothing very remarkable in any quality of art, is, at least, forceful, agreeable, and, as far as it goes, natural; the waves have much freedom of action and power of color; the wind blows hard over the shore; and the whole picture may be studied with profit, as a proof that the deficiency of color and every thing else in Backhuysen's works is no fault of the Dutch sea."

P. 340.

He really seems to forget that this Dutch sea was painted by one of those two painters whose best works he still persists in pronouncing so cold and valueless, that he knows not how to address those who like such painting, nor what their sensations are respecting the sea. We want no better, though we should like a little heartier, praise of a sea storm, than he has given to this picture ; and being admitted to be so good, we think it might be “ studied with profit, as a proof” that this author is a very inconsistent and prejudiced critic.

His inconsistencies arise partly from carelessness and a passionate impatience of revisal, and partly from his laboring to make out a case rather than to find out the truth. We do not charge this to any worse motive than prejudice. We have no doubt that he has a very earnest, though very

ill-considered, conviction of the truth of his cause ; and if he had not been afraid to give his book an honest and cool revision, his asperities and extravagances might have disappeared under the influence of his better judgment. But standing, as they do, uncorrected after two editions, they ought entirely to destroy our reliance upon the mere opinions of the author, because they show a state of mind wholly unfitted for the task he has undertaken. He proposes to overthrow the judgment of centuries and of all civilized nations upon a question which, so far as it is one of fact, must yet depend on mere opinion ; for resemblance to nature, though a fact, cannot be proved, but is chiefly a question of pure taste. Now, before we can have any confidence in the result of such an inquiry, we must feel that it is pursued in perfect good faith ; in that good faith which includes freedom from violent prejudice and passion, as well as from intention to deceive. Certainly, no opinion, whether upon a point of fact or of taste, is too old to be questioned ; but things that the world has long acquiesced in are entitled to a strong presumption of their correctness, and nothing more so than a mere question of taste. Facts are handed down from generation to generation, often without examination, and as they stand on evidence, posterity frequently gains new means of correcting them. But in matters of taste, every generation passes a fresh judgment upon the whole case, and after long concurrence of opinion, they should be questioned with great modesty. The whole early Roman history has been in our own days pronounced to be

fabulous, and no one impeaches the learned author of presumption ; but it would be a very different thing to deny the genius of Shakspeare or Milton. And to begin, or even to end, the most ingenious argument to the point, by calling them fools and blockheads, would be mere impudence, and would only show the author to be a very unfit person to enter upon any such inquiry. There is abundance of talent in this book to insure it a careful consideration, however fearlessly, if modestly and fairly, it might have examined established opinions. But it does no such thing. It does not consider them worth examining. It simply asserts, dictates, and dogmatizes in a very heated and clever style ; heaps epithets of contempt upon the works and understandings of the old masters, and treats all who differ from the author as absolute idiots ; and if it treats them with any respect, it is that “ due to honest, hopeless, helpless imbecility.” It makes great pretensions, indeed, to demonstrating these opinions in a manner " which ought to involve no more reference to authority or character than a demonstration in Euclid." But there is not, and from the nature of the case there cannot be, a word of demonstration in the whole of it, taking the word, as he uses it, in the sense of proof. The subject is obviously all a matter of taste and judgment. Even the question of mere fidelity of imitation is notoriously one of opinion only, in which we continually hear people differ in judging of the same work of art. A fact agreed on or a fact proved is itself a proof of opinions or of other facts; but a fact asserted is no proof of any thing. Now the difficulty with this author's facts is, not only that they are neither admitted nor proved, but that many of them are absolutely untrue.

For example, the old landscape-painters are loudly and repeatedly condemned as having been convicted of a want of the truth of nature because they made the trunks of their trees taper from the ground to the lowest branch, and their branches from fork to fork ; whereas the author states, as an unquestionable fact, that a tree in its natural growth never tapers at all, but simply divides its bulk as it throws off branches. He states the fact thus : -“ Neither the stems nor the boughs of any of the ordinary trees of Europe taper, except where they fork.

Wherever a stem sends off a branch, or a branch a lesser bough, or a lesser bough a bud, the stem or the branch is on the instant less in diameter by the exact quantity

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