Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][ocr errors]

he believed that, as it would be a shame young artist offered to decorate the great for a rich man to eat copiously in the waiting-room of Euston Station (the termimidst of the starving, so it is a shame that nus of the London and Northwestern only an artist, his friends and patrons, Railway) with the “ History of Cosmos." should enjoy what he has realized. There- The sapient directors refused their perfore, proclaimed he, art should be brought mission. A parallel to this unappreciato those who cannot or do not come to it. tion occurred in later years when, to our Such places as railway stations, court- shame, a place in the White House was houses, churches, and museums, should be refused to the noble picture which Mr. decorated with frescoes, for there all the Watts had generously presented to the people can freely enjoy them. To make American people. Nothing daunted by his deeds speak louder than his words, the his first rebuff, the painter sought and

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

obtained permission to decorate the new the Sage of Chelsea declared that he was Hall of Lincoln's Inn. What he might painted like a mad laborer), Gladstone's,' have done for the education of the throng Walter Crane's, and Tennyson's were who daily pass through the railway station ideal. The last named, his friend and may be gathered from his frescoes in the neighbor, he painted half a dozen times. lawyers' hall, and from those in the Church The poet had projected for his last volume of St. James the Less. When our artist a poem descriptive of his admiration for began his preaching, great public walls in Mr. Watts's pictures and of their common London, which every one could see, were love of the yellow crocus. Tennyson once undecorated ; now, among others, there asked the painter to describe his notion are not only Mr. Watts's frescoes, but the of what a true portraitist should be. The equally remarkable ones of Mr. Walter reply so impressed the poet that he emCrane at the South Kensington Museum bodied it in the “Idylls of the King :" and of Sir William Richmond at St.

As when a painter, poring on a face, Paul's.

Divinely, thro' all hindrance, finds the man This, however, was only half the task. Behind it, and so paints him that his face, Art would be doubly enforced, said the

The shape and color of a mind and life,

Lives for his children, ever at its best. reformer, if things that every one uses showed artistic endeavor-such intimate That is the way our painter paints his environments as tools, utensils, door-knobs portraits. He sees the best in life, he and knockers, lamps, stoves, chimneys, paints the best, he brings the greatest chairs, tables, cupboards, wall-paper, and good to the greatest number. pavements. True, the Venetians and When the venerable artist does a porothers had long since lessoned the world trait, he gets more by listening to his sitter in this regard. If, however, in politics and talking with him than by looking at England had progressed by centuries fur- him. He knows that some one trait must ther than other European nations, in art differentiate each subject from all manthe Continent had seen the rise and fall kind, and he talks and listens until he has of the mighty Italian, Flemish, Spanish, discovered it—a something never to be and Dutch schools, while, before our found merely by looking. Such a method painter's day, England had produced cannot fail to produce strongly marked hardly an artist of first-rate originality save individuality in each canvas. Gainsborough, Constable, and Turner. Again, he prefers certain subjects not Still less was there any attempt to bring for themselves alone, but because they are art to the masses. When Mr. Watts types. He might almost say here, as he began his crusade, British household gods does of his other work: “I paint ideas, and goods were heavy, unlovely, of the not things.” He seeks typical nobleness earth, earthy; now they show the talent before he seeks beauty. When we see expended on them by the best artists— one of his portraits, we note first of all the himself, Burne-Jones, Herkomer, Morris, individual man, and then we note someCrane, Richmond, Holiday.

thing more—the universal man. We have The man who, more than any other, at once the individual and the type-a has accomplished these two reforms stands union rarely realized elsewhere. This before us not only a true altruist and largeness of view is just as much a Watts idealist, but also one of the most eminent characteristic as is lightness of touch. He of living portrait-painters. He is distinct works with a spirit as broad as it is elefrom his fellows in that we feel in all his vated. He does more; he communicates works not so much any good or bad tech- it to any one beholding his pictures; for nique as his own attitude of mind. Here from the work of what other portraitagain he is an idealist, and first of all in painter do we receive such inspiration ? his subjects. If we realize this foremost We feel that the man himself must dwell in those suggestive, symbolic canvases, in a lofty mountain-sphere of intellect and “Love and Life,” “Love and Death," soul. “ Paolo and Francesca," “ Sir Galahad," The chief charm of these canvases, and the rest, we feel it secondarily, but however, is that they live. They live almost more forcibly, in his portraiture. Such subject-heads as Carlyle's (though

,! See May, 1898, Magazine Number for illustration of this portrait:

[graphic]

WALTER CRANE

By George Frederick Watts. physically as well as spiritually. The the world, but into it. Thus a subjective portraits are no wax figures; the heads painter accomplishes objective aims. His are painted against no apparent back- portraits are not forced upon the sense as ground—whether warm, like that of the are those of MM, Carolus-Duran and French artists, or cold, like Professor Bonnat, or even those of Mr. Herkomer. Herkomer's. The Watts heads have, in We learn to know and love the Watts one sense, no background at all; they are subjects as we do the real people all about surrounded with atmosphere. This patient, us; for the most part not suddenly, but persistent shadow-effect, this trembling va- slowly, and with the quiet dignity becoming porousness, this twilight of tone-in short, an acquaintance that daily deepens into this atmosphere-transports us, not out of something very much like actual friendship,

« AnteriorContinuar »