Since Cezanne
Clive Bell

Part 2 out of 3

of a picture, according to the _cognoscenti_, must be implicit in its
forms; its essential quality is something which appeals directly to the
sensibility of any sensitive person; and any reference to life, to be of
consequence, must be a reference to that fundamental experience which is
the common heritage of mankind. Thus, those who cannot bring themselves
to accept the more austere definition of the term are willing to
recognize as significant certain qualities which are not purely formal.
They will recognize, for instance, the tragedy of Michael Angelo, the
gaiety of Fra Angelico, the lyricism of Correggio, the gravity
of Poussin, and the romance of Giorgione. They recognize them as
pertaining, not to the subjects chosen, but to the mind and character of
the artist. Such manifestations in line and colour of personality they
admit as relevant; but they are quite clear that the gossip of Frith and
the touching prattle of Sir Luke Fildes are nothing to the purpose.

And so we get a school of lenient criticism which takes account of an
appeal to life, provided that appeal be to universal experience and be
made by purely aesthetic means. According to this theory we can be moved
aesthetically by references to universal experience implicit in certain
arrangements of line and colour, always provided that such references
are expressions of the artist's peculiar emotion, and not mere comments
on life and history or statements of fact or opinion. These by everyone
are deemed unessential. No one seriously pretends that in a picture by a
Primitive of some obscure incident in the life of a minor saint there is
anything of true aesthetic import which, escaping the subtlest and most
sensitive artist, is revealed to the expert hagiographer: neither does
anyone still believe that to appreciate Sung painting one must make
oneself familiar with the later developments of Buddhist metaphysics as
modified by Taoist mysticism.

Such is the prevailing critical theory. What of critical practice?
It seems to me that even our best come something short of their
professions; and when I confess that I am going to pick a quarrel with
such fine exponents of their craft as the critics of _The Times_ and the
_Nation_ readers will guess that for once I mean to take my confreres
seriously. Lately we have seen a hot dispute in which, unless I mistake,
both these gentlemen took a hand, raging round a figure of Christ by
Mr. Epstein. For me the only interesting fact that emerged from this
controversy was that, apparently, most of the disputants had not so much
as heard of the greatest living sculptor--I mean Maillol, of course.
Certainly, with the art of Maillol clearly in his mind, it is
inconceivable that one so discriminating as the critic of the _Nation_
should have said, as I think he did say, that Mr. Epstein now stands for
European sculpture as Rodin stood before him. Not only is Maillol quite
obviously superior to Mr. Epstein; in the opinion of many he is a better
artist than Rodin.

But it was not around such questions as these, vexatious, no doubt, but
pertinent, that controversy raged. The questions that eminent critics,
writers, and dignitaries of divers churches discussed in public, while
colonels, Socialists, and cultivated theosophical ladies wrangled over
them at home, were: "Has Mr. Epstein done justice to the character of
Christ?" and, "What was His character?" Was Christ intelligent or was
He something nobler, and what has Mr. Epstein to say about it? Was He
disdainful or was He sympathetic? Was He like Mr. Bertrand Russell or
more like Mr. Gladstone? And did Mr. Epstein see Him with the eyes of
one who knew what for ages Christ had meant to Europe, or with those of
a Jew of the first century? Questions such as these--I will not swear to
any particular one of them--were what the critics threw into the arena,
and no one much blames the parsons and publicists for playing football
with them. But the critics must have known that such questions were
utterly irrelevant; that it mattered not a straw whether this statue,
considered as a work of art, represented Jesus Christ or John Smith.

This the critics knew: they knew that the appeal of a work of art is
essentially permanent and universal, and they knew that hardly one word
in their controversy could have meant anything to the most sensitive
Chinaman alive, unless he happened to be familiar with the Christian
tradition and Christian ethics. If there be no more in Mr. Epstein's
figure than what the critics talked about, then, should the Christian
religion ever become obsolete and half-forgotten, Mr. Epstein's figure
will become quite insignificant. Most of us know next to nothing about
Buddhism and Totemism, and only a little about Greek myths and Byzantine
theology, yet works of art historically associated with these remain,
by reason of their permanent and universal, that is to say their purely
aesthetic, qualities, as moving and intelligible as on the day they left
their makers' hands. About Mr. Epstein's sculpture the important thing
to discover is whether, and in what degree, it possesses these permanent
and universal qualities. But on that subject the critics are dumb.

An instructive parallel in literary journalism occurs to me. I have
noticed lately a tendency in the intellectual underworld--for here I
take leave of first-class criticism--to belittle Ibsen, with the object,
apparently, of magnifying Tchekov, and always it is in the name of art
that Ibsen is decried. Now, if our literary ragamuffins cared two pence
about art they would all be on their knees before Ibsen, who is, I
suppose, the finest dramatic artist since Racine. Few things are more
perfect as form, more admirably consistent and self-supporting, than
his later plays. It was he who invented the modern dramatic method of
seizing a situation at the point at which it can last be seized, and
from there pushing it forward with imperturbable logic and not one
divagation. As an artist Ibsen is to a considerable extent the master of
Tchekov; but, as art is the last thing to which an English Intellectual
pays attention, this fact has been overlooked. What our latter-day
intellectuals take an interest in is what interested their
grandmothers--morals. They prefer Tchekov's point of view to that of
Ibsen, and so do I. They are vexed by the teaching implicit in Ibsen's
tendencious plays; so am I. Yet when I ask myself: "Is Ibsen's
moralizing worse than anyone else's?" I am forced to admit that it is
not. The fact is all moralizing is tedious, and is recognized as such by
everyone the moment it becomes a little stale. Another generation, with
other ideals, will be as much irritated by Tchekov's ill-concealed
propaganda as our generation is by Ibsen's, and as Ibsen's was by
Tennyson's. Depend upon it: by those young people in the next generation
but one who talk loudest, wear the worst clothes, and are most earnest
about life and least sensitive to art, Tchekov will be voted a bore.
What is more, it will be in the name of art that they will cry him down.

Every now and then we hear eloquent appeals to the appropriate
authorities, praying them to add to their school of journalism a
department of art criticism. I hope and believe the appropriate
authorities will do no such thing. Should, however, their sense of
economy be insufficient to restrain them from paying this last insult
to art, they will still find me waiting for them with a practical
suggestion. Any student proposing to educate himself as a critic should
be compelled to devote the first years of his course to the criticism
of non-representative art. Set down to criticize buildings, furniture,
textiles, and ceramics, he will find himself obliged to explore the
depths of his own aesthetic experience. To explain honestly and precisely
why he prefers this chair to that requires, he will find, a far more
intense effort of the intellect and imagination than any amount of fine
writing about portraits and landscape. It will force him to take account
of his purely aesthetic emotions and to discover what exactly provokes
them. He will be driven into that world of minute differences and subtle
reactions which is the world of art. And until he knows his way about
that world he would do well to express no opinion on the merits of
pictures and statues.


[Footnote M: _Bonnard_. Par Leon Werth. Paris: Cres. 40 fr.]

In France, where even amateurs of painting enjoy a bit of rhetoric, for
two or three days after the death of Renoir one could not be long in
any of their haunts without being told either that "Renoir est mort et
Matisse est le plus grand peintre de France" or that "Renoir est mort et
Derain," etc. Also, so cosmopolitan is Paris, there were those who would
put in the query: "Et Picasso?" but, as no Frenchman much cares to be
reminded that the man who, since Cezanne, has had the greatest effect on
painting is a Spaniard, this interjection was generally ill-received.
On the other hand, those who queried: "Et Bonnard?" got a sympathetic
hearing always.

M. Leon Werth deals neither in rhetoric nor in orders of merit. Bonnard
is his theme; and on Bonnard he has written thirty-six pages without,
I think, pronouncing the name of one rival, leaving to his readers the
agreeable task of putting the right heads in the way of such blows as
he occasionally lets fly. Of Bonnard he has written with a delicacy of
understanding hardly to be matched in contemporary criticism. He has
sketched exquisitely a temperament, and if he has not told us much about
its fruits, about the pictures of Bonnard that is to say, he can always
refer us to the series of reproductions at the end of the volume.

[Illustration: BONNARD (_Photo: E. Druet_)]

What M. Werth would say to the distinction implied in my last paragraph
I cannot tell; but I am sure it is important. Certainly, behind every
work of art lies a temperament, a mind; and it is this mind that
creates, that causes and conditions the forms and colours of which a
picture consists; nevertheless, what we see are forms and colours, forms
and colours are what move us. Doubtless, M. Werth is right in thinking
that Bonnard paints beautifully because he loves what he paints; but
what Bonnard gives us is something more significant than his feeling
for cups or cats or human beings. He gives us created form with a
significance of its own, to the making of which went his passion and its
object, but which is something quite distinct from both. He gives us a
work of art.

To consider a picture by Vuillard, whose work is often compared with
that of Bonnard, might help us here. Vuillard loves what he paints,
and his pictures are attractive, as often as not, chiefly because they
represent lovely things. A picture by Bonnard, for all its fascinating
overtones, has a life entirely of its own. It is like a flower, which
is beautiful not because it represents, or reminds one of, something
beautiful, but because it is beautiful. A picture by Bonnard escapes
from its subject, and from its author, too. And this is all-important
because it is just this independent life of its own that gives to a work
of art its peculiar character and power. Unluckily, about this detached
life, about a work of art considered as a work of art, there is little
or nothing to be said; so perhaps M. Werth has done well to confine
himself to the task of giving his readers a taste of the quality of an
artist's mind. This task was difficult enough in all conscience; the
mind of Bonnard is subtle, delicate, and creative, and it has needed
subtlety, delicacy, and not a little creative power, to give us even a
glimpse of it.

The first thing one gets from a picture by Bonnard is a sense of
perplexed, delicious colour: tones of miraculous subtlety seem to be
flowing into an enchanted pool and chasing one another there. From
this pool emerge gradually forms which appear sometimes vaporous and
sometimes tentative, but never vapid and never woolly. When we have
realized that the pool of colour is, in fact, a design of extraordinary
originality and perfect coherence our aesthetic appreciation is at its
height. And not until this excitement begins to flag do we notice that
the picture carries a delightful overtone--that it is witty, whimsical,

Such epithets one uses because they are the best that language affords,
hoping that they will not create a false impression. They are literary
terms, and the painting of Bonnard is never literary. Whatever, by
way of overtone, he may reveal of himself is implicit in his forms:
symbolism and caricature are not in his way. You may catch him murmuring
to himself, "That's a funny-looking face"; he will never say "That's the
face of a man whom I expect you to laugh at." If you choose to take his
_Apres-Midi Bourgeoise_ (which is not reproduced here) as a sly comment
on family life you may: but anyone who goes to it for the sort of
criticism he would find in the plays of Mr. Shaw or Mr. Barker is, I am
happy to say, doomed to disappointment. What amused Bonnard was not the
implication, social, moral, or political, of the scene, but the scene
itself--the look of the thing. Bonnard never strays outside the world
of visual art. He finds significance in the appearance of things and
converts it into form and colour. With the pompous symbolism of the
grand-mannerist, or the smart symbolism of the caricaturist, or the
half-baked symbolism of the pseudo-philosophical-futuro-dynamitard he
has no truck whatever. His ambition is not to convey, without the aid
of words, certain elementary ideas, unimportant facts, or obvious
sentiments, but to create forms that shall correspond with his intimate
sense of the significance of things. The paraphernalia of symbolism are
nothing to his purpose: what he requires are subtlety of apprehension
and lightness of touch, and these are what he has. So M. Leon Werth
meets people who complain that "Bonnard manque de noblesse."

Bonnard is not noble. A kitten jumping on to the table moves him, not
because he sees in that gesture a symbol of human aspiration or of
feminine instability, the spirit of youth or the pathos of the brute
creation, nor yet because it reminds him of pretty things, but because
the sight is charming. He will never be appreciated by people who want
something from art that is not art. But to those who care for the thing
itself his work is peculiarly sympathetic, because it is so thoroughly,
so unmitigatedly that of an artist; and therefore it does not surprise
me that some of them should see in him the appropriate successor to
Renoir. Like Renoir, he loves life as he finds it. He, too, enjoys
intensely those good, familiar things that perhaps only artists can
enjoy to the full--sunshine and flowers, white tables spread beneath
trees, fruits, crockery, leafage, the movements of young animals, the
grace of girls and the amplitude of fat women. Also, he loves intimacy.
He is profoundly French. He reminds one sometimes of Rameau and
sometimes of Ravel, sometimes of Lafontaine and sometimes of Laforgue.

Renoir never reminded anyone of Ravel or Laforgue. Renoir and Bonnard
are not so much alike after all. In fact, both as artists and craftsmen
they are extremely different. Renoir's output was enormous; he painted
with the vast ease of a lyrical giant. His selections and decisions were
instinctive and immediate. He trusted his reactions implicitly. Also,
there is nothing that could possibly be called whimsical, nothing
critical or self-critical, about him. Bonnard, on the other hand, must
be one of the most painstaking artists alive. He comes at beauty by
tortuous ways, artful devices, and elaboration. He allows his vision to
dawn on you by degrees: no one ever guesses at first sight how serious,
how deliberately worked out his compositions are.

There is something Chinese about him; and he is one of those rare
Europeans who have dealt in "imposed" rather than "built-up" design.
Bonnard's pictures grow not as trees; they float as water-lilies.
European pictures, as a rule, spring upwards, masonry-wise, from their
foundations; the design of a picture by Bonnard, like that of many
Chinese pictures and Persian textiles, seems to have been laid on the
canvas as one might lay cautiously on dry grass some infinitely precious
figured gauze. Assuredly, the hand that lets fall these beauties is
as unlike that which, even in the throes of rheumatism, affirmed with
supreme confidence the mastery of Renoir, as the easy accessibility of
our last old master is unlike this shy, fastidious spirit that M. Leon
Werth, by a brilliant stroke of sympathetic intelligence, has contrived
to catch and hold for an instant.

[Illustration: (_Mrs. Jowitt's Collection_) DUNCAN GRANT]


To-day, [N] when the Carfax Gallery opens its doors at No. 5 Bond Street,
and invites the cultivated public to look at the paintings of Duncan
Grant, that public will have a chance of discovering what has for some
time been known to alert critics here and abroad--that at last we have
in England a painter whom Europe may have to take seriously. Nothing of
the sort has happened since the time of Constable; so naturally one is

[Footnote N: February 6, 1920.]

If the public knows little of Duncan Grant the public is not to blame.
During the fifteen years that he has been at work not once has he held
"a one-man show," while his sendings to periodic exhibitions have been
rare and unobtrusive. To be sure, there is a picture by him in the Tate
Gallery. But who ever thought of going there to look for a work of art?
Besides, during the last few years the Tate, like most other places
of the sort, has been given over to civil servants. Duncan Grant is a
scrupulous, slow, and not particularly methodical worker. His output is
small; and no sooner is a picture finished than it is carried off by one
of those watchful amateurs who seem a good deal more eager to buy than
he is to sell. Apparently he cares little for fame; so the public gets
few opportunities of coming acquainted with his work.

Duncan Grant is the best English painter alive. And how English he is!
(British, I should say, for he is a Highlander.) Of course, he has been
influenced by Cezanne and the modern Frenchmen. He is of the movement.
Superficially his work may look exotic and odd. Odd it will certainly
look to people unfamiliar with painting. But anyone who has studied
and understood the Italians will see at a glance that Duncan Grant is
thoroughly in the great tradition; while he who also knows the work of
Wilson, Gainsborough, Crome, Cotman, Constable, and Turner will either
deny that there is such a thing as an English tradition or admit that
Duncan Grant is in it. For my part, I am inclined to believe that an
English pictorial tradition exists, though assuredly it is a tiny and
almost imperceptible rill, to be traced as often, perhaps, through
English poetry as through English painting. At all events, there are
national characteristics; and these you will find asserting themselves
for good or ill in the work of our better painters.

Duncan Grant's ancestors are Piero della Francesca, Gainsborough, and
the Elizabethan poets. There is something Greek about him, too; not the
archaeological Greek of Germany, nor yet the Graeco-Roman academicism of
France, but rather that romantic, sensuous Hellenism of the English
literary tradition. It is, perhaps, most obvious in his early work,
where, indeed, all the influences I have named can easily be found.
Then, at the right moment, he plunged headlong into the movement, became
the student of Cezanne, Matisse, Picasso, though not, curiously enough,
of Bonnard, the modern artist with whose work his own has the closest
affinity, and, for a year or two, suffered his personality to disappear
almost beneath the heavy, fertilizing spate. He painted French
exercises. He was learning. He has learnt. He can now express, not
someone else's ideas, but himself, completely and with delicious ease,
in the language of his age. He is a finished and highly personal modern

I dare say Duncan Grant's most national characteristic is the ease with
which he achieves beauty. To paint beautifully comes as naturally to him
as to speak English does to me. Almost all English artists of any merit
have had this gift, and most of them have turned it to sorry account. It
was so pleasant to please that they tried to do nothing else, so easy to
do it that they scampered and gambolled down the hill that ends in mere
prettiness. From this catastrophe Duncan Grant has been saved by a gift
which, amongst British painters, is far from common. He is extremely
intelligent. His intellect is strong enough to keep in hand that most
charming and unruly of its sister gifts, sensibility. And a painter who
possesses both sensibility and the intellect to direct it is in a fair
way to becoming a master.

The sensibility of English artists, whether verbal or visual, is as
notorious as their sense of beauty. This becomes less surprising when we
reflect that the former includes the latter. The fact is, critics,
with their habitual slovenliness, apply the term "sensibility" to
two different things. Sometimes they are talking about the artist's
imagination, and sometimes about his use of the instrument: sometimes
about his reactions, and sometimes--in the case of painters--about the
tips of his fingers. It is true that both qualities owe their existence
to and are conditioned by one fundamental gift--a peculiar poise--a
state of feeling--which may well be described as "sensibility." But,
though both are consequences of this peculiar delicacy and what I should
like to call "light-triggeredness" of temperament, they are by no means
identical. By "sensibility" critics may mean an artist's power of
responding easily and intensely to the aesthetic significance of what
he sees; this power they might call, if they cared to be precise,
"sensibility of inspiration." At other times they imply no more than
sensibility of touch: in which case they mean that the contact between
the artist's brush and his canvas has the quality of a thrilling caress,
so that it seems almost as if the instrument that bridged the gulf
between his fingers and the surface of his picture must have been as
much alive as himself. "Sensibility of handling" or "hand-writing"
is the proper name for this. In a word, there is sensibility of the
imagination and sensibility of the senses: one is receptive, the other
executive. Now, Duncan Grant's reactions before the visible universe are
exquisitely vivid and personal, and the quality of his paint is often
as charming as a kiss. He is an artist who possesses both kinds of
sensibility. These are adorable gifts; but they are not extraordinarily
rare amongst English painters of the better sort.

In my judgement Gainsborough and Duncan Grant are the English painters
who have been most splendidly endowed with sensibility of both sorts,
but I could name a dozen who have been handsomely supplied. In my own
time there have been four--Burne-Jones (you should look at his early
work), Conder, Steer, and John, all of whom had an allowance far above
the average, while in America there was Whistler. No one, I suppose,
would claim for any of these, save, perhaps, Whistler, a place even in
the second rank of artists. From which it follows clearly that something
more than delicacy of reaction and touch is needed to make a man
first-rate. What is needed is, of course, constructive power. An artist
must be able to convert his inspiration into significant form; for in
art it is not from a word to a blow, but from a tremulous, excited
vision to an orderly mental conception, and from that conception, by
means of the problem and with the help of technique, to externalization
in form. That is where intelligence and creative power come in. And no
British painter has, as yet, combined with sure and abundant sensibility
power and intelligence of a sort to do perfectly, and without fail, this
desperate and exacting work. In other words, there has been no British
painter of the first magnitude. But I mistake, or Gainsborough, Crome,
Constable, and Duncan Grant were all born with the possibility of
greatness in them.

Many British (or, to make myself safe, I will say English-speaking)
painters have had enough sensibility of inspiration to make them
distinguished and romantic figures. Who but feels that Wilson, Blake,
Reynolds, Turner, and Rossetti were remarkable men? Others have had that
facility and exquisiteness of handling which gives us the enviable and
almost inexhaustible producer of charming objects--Hogarth, Cotman,
Keene, Whistler, Conder, Steer, Davies. Indeed, with the exceptions of
Blake and Rossetti--two heavy-handed men of genius--and Reynolds, whose
reactions were something too perfunctory, I question whether there be a
man in either list who wanted much for sensibility of either sort. But
what English painter could conceive and effectively carry out a work of
art? Crome, I think, has done it; Gainsborough and Constable at any rate
came near; and it is because Duncan Grant may be the fourth name in
our list that some of us are now looking forward with considerable
excitement to his exhibition.

An Englishman who is an artist can hardly help being a poet; I neither
applaud nor altogether deplore the fact, though certainly it has been
the ruin of many promising painters. The doom of Englishmen is not
reversed for Duncan Grant: he is a poet; but he is a poet in the right
way--in the right way, I mean, for a painter to be a poet. Certainly
his vision is not purely pictorial; and because he feels the literary
significance of what he sees his conceptions are apt to be literary.
But he does not impose his conceptions on his pictures; he works his
pictures out of his conceptions. Anyone who will compare them with those
of Rossetti or Watts will see in a moment what I mean. In Duncan Grant
there is, I agree, something that reminds one unmistakably of the
Elizabethan poets, something fantastic and whimsical and at the same
time intensely lyrical. I should find it hard to make my meaning
clearer, yet I am conscious enough that my epithets applied to painting
are anything but precise. But though they may be lyrical or fantastic or
witty, these pictures never tell a story or point a moral.

My notion is that Duncan Grant often starts from some mixed motif which,
as he labours to reduce it to form and colour, he cuts, chips, and
knocks about till you would suppose that he must have quite whittled the
alloy away. But the fact is, the very material out of which he builds
is coloured in poetry. The thing he has to build is a monument of pure
visual art; that is what he plans, designs, elaborates, and finally
executes. Only, when he has achieved it we cannot help noticing the
colour of the bricks. All notice, and some enjoy, this adscititious
literary overtone. Make no mistake, however, the literary element in the
art of Duncan Grant is what has been left over, not what has been added.
A Blake or a Watts conceives a picture and makes of it a story; a
Giorgione or a Piero di Cosimo steals the germ of a poem and by curious
cultivation grows out of it a picture. In the former class you will
find men who may be great figures, but can never be more than mediocre
artists: Duncan Grant is of the latter. He is in the English tradition
without being in the English rut. He has sensibility of inspiration,
beauty of touch, and poetry; but, controlling these, he has intelligence
and artistic integrity. He is extremely English; but he is more of an
artist than an Englishman.

Already the Chelsea show of African and Oceanian sculpture is sending
the cultivated public to the ethnographical collections in the British
Museum, just as, last autumn, the show organized in Paris by M. Paul
Guillaume filled the Trocadero. [O] Fine ladies, young painters, and
exquisite amateurs are now to be seen in those long dreary rooms that
once were abandoned to missionaries, anthropologists, and colonial
soldiers, enhancing their prestige by pointing out to stay-at-home
cousins the relics of a civilization they helped to destroy. For my part
I like the change. I congratulate the galleries and admire the visitors,
though the young painters, I cannot help thinking, have been a little

[Footnote O: 1919]

Negro art was discovered--its real merit was first recognized, I
mean--some fifteen years ago, in Paris, by the painters there. Picasso,
Derain, Matisse, and Vlaminck began picking up such pieces as they
could find in old curiosity and pawn shops; with Guillaume Apollinaire,
literary apostle, following apostolically at their heels. Thus a demand
was created which M. Paul Guillaume was there to meet and stimulate.
But, indeed, the part played by that enterprising dealer is highly
commendable; for the Trocadero collections being, unlike the British,
mediocre both in quantity and quality, it was he who put the most
sensitive public in Europe--a little cosmopolitan group of artists,
critics, and amateurs--in the way of seeing a number of first-rate

Because, in the past, Negro art has been treated with absurd contempt,
we are all inclined now to overpraise it; and because I mean to keep my
head I shall doubtless by my best friends be called a fool. Judging from
the available data--no great stock, by the way--I should say that Negro
art was entitled to a place amongst the great schools, but that it was
no match for the greatest. With the greatest I would compare it. I would
compare it with the art of the supreme Chinese periods (from Han to
Sung), with archaic Greek, with Byzantine, with Mahomedan, which, for
archaeological purposes, begins under the Sassanians a hundred years and
more before the birth of the prophet; I would compare it with Romanesque
and early Italian (from Giotto to Raffael); but I would place it below
all these. On the other hand, when I consider the whole corpus of black
art known to us, and compare it with Assyrian, Roman, Indian, true
Gothic (not Romanesque, that is to say), or late Renaissance it seems to
me that the blacks have the best of it. And, on the whole, I should be
inclined to place West and Central African art, at any rate, on a level
with Egyptian. Such sweeping classifications, however, are not to be
taken too seriously. All I want to say is that, though the capital
achievements of the greatest schools do seem to me to have an absolute
superiority over anything Negro I have seen, yet the finest black
sculpture is so rich in artistic qualities that it is entitled to a
place beside them.

I write, thinking mainly of sculpture, because it was an exhibition
of sculpture that set me off. It should be remembered, however, that
perhaps the most perfect achievements of these savages are to be found
amongst their textiles and basket-work. Here, their exquisite taste and
sense of quality and their unsurpassed gift for filling a space are seen
to greatest advantage, while their shortcomings lie almost hid. But it
is their sculpture which, at the moment, excites us most, and by it they
may fairly be judged. Exquisiteness of quality is its most attractive
characteristic. Touch one of these African figures and it will remind
you of the rarest Chinese porcelain. What delicacy in the artist's sense
of relief and modelling is here implied! What tireless industry and
patience! Run your hand over a limb, or a torso, or, better still, over
some wooden vessel; there is no flaw, no break in the continuity of the
surface; the thing is alive from end to end. And this extraordinary
sense of quality seems to be universal amongst them. I think I never saw
a genuine nigger object that was vulgar--except, of course, things made
quite recently under European direction. This is a delicious virtue,
but it is a precarious one. It is precarious because it is not
self-conscious: because it has not been reached by the intelligent
understanding of an artist, but springs from the instinctive taste of
primitive people. I have seen an Oxfordshire labourer work himself
beautifully a handle for his hoe, in the true spirit of a savage and
an artist, admiring and envying all the time the lifeless machine-made
article hanging, out of his reach, in the village shop. The savage gift
is precarious because it is unconscious. Once let the black or the
peasant become acquainted with the showy utensils of industrialism, or
with cheap, realistic painting and sculpture, and, having no critical
sense wherewith to protect himself, he will be bowled over for a
certainty. He will admire; he will imitate; he will be undone.

At the root of this lack of artistic self-consciousness lies the defect
which accounts for the essential inferiority of Negro to the very
greatest art. Savages lack self-consciousness and the critical sense
because they lack intelligence. And because they lack intelligence they
are incapable of profound conceptions. Beauty, taste, quality, and
skill, all are here; but profundity of vision is not. And because they
cannot grasp complicated ideas they fail generally to create organic
wholes. One of the chief characteristics of the very greatest artists
is this power of creating wholes which, as wholes, are of infinitely
greater value than the sum of their parts. That, it seems to me, is what
savage artists generally fail to do.

Also, they lack originality. I do not forget that Negro sculptors have
had to work in a very strict convention. They have been making figures
of tribal gods and fetiches, and have been obliged meticulously to
respect the tradition. But were not European Primitives and Buddhists
similarly bound, and did they not contrive to circumvent their doctrinal
limitations? That the African artists seem hardly to have attempted to
conceive the figure afresh for themselves and realize in wood a personal
vision does, I think, imply a definite want of creative imagination.
Just how serious a defect you will hold this to be will depend on the
degree of importance you attach to complete self-expression. Savage
artists seem to express themselves in details. You must seek their
personality in the quality of their relief, their modulation of surface,
their handling of material, and their choice of ornament. Seek, and you
will be handsomely rewarded; in these things the niggers have never been
surpassed. Only when you begin to look for that passionate affirmation
of a personal vision which we Europeans, at any rate, expect to find in
the greatest art will you run a risk of being disappointed. It will be
then, if ever, that you will be tempted to think that these exquisitely
gifted black artists are perhaps as much like birds building their nests
as men expressing their profoundest emotions.

And now come the inevitable questions--where were these things made, and
when? "At different times and in different places," would be the most
sensible reply. About the provenance of any particular piece it is
generally possible to say something vague; about dates we know next to
nothing. At least, I do; and when I consider that we have no records
and no trustworthy criteria, and that so learned and brilliant an
archaeologist as Mr. Joyce professes ignorance, I am not much disposed to
believe that anyone knows more. I am aware that certain amateurs think
to enhance the value of their collections by conferring dates on their
choicer specimens; I can understand why dealers encourage them in this
vanity; and, seeing that they go to the collectors and dealers for their
information, I suppose one ought not to be surprised when journalists
come out with their astounding attributions. The facts are as follows.

We know that Portuguese adventurers had a considerable influence on
African art in the sixteenth, and even in the fifteenth, century. There
begins our certain knowledge. Of work so influenced a small quantity
exists. Of earlier periods we know nothing precise. There are oral
traditions of migrations, empires, and dynasties: often there is
evidence of past invasions and the supersession of one culture by
another: and that is all. The discoveries of explorers have so far
thrown little light on archaeology; and in most parts of West and
Central Africa it would be impossible even for trained archaeologists to
establish a chronological sequence such as can be formed when objects
are found buried in the sand one above the other. But, in fact, it is to
vague traders and missionaries, rather than to trained archaeologists,
that we owe most of our fine pieces, which, as often as not, have been
passed from hand to hand till, after many wanderings, they reached the
coast. Add to all this the fact that most African sculpture is in wood
(except, of course, those famous products of early European influence,
the bronze castings from Benin), that this wood is exposed to a
devastating climate--hot and damp--to say nothing of the still more
deadly white ants, and you will probably agree that the dealer or
amateur who betickets his prizes with such little tags as "Gaboon, 10th
century" evinces a perhaps exaggerated confidence in our gullibility.

Whenever these artists may have flourished it seems they flourish no
more. The production of idols and fetiches continues, but the production
of fine art is apparently at an end. The tradition is moribund, a
misfortune one is tempted to attribute, along with most that have lately
afflicted that unhappy continent, to the whites. To do so, however,
would not be altogether just. Such evidence as we possess--and pretty
slight it is--goes to show that even in the uninvaded parts of West
Central Africa the arts are decadent: wherever the modern white man has
been busy they are, of course, extinct. According to experts Negro art
already in the eighteenth century was falling into a decline from some
obscure, internal cause. Be that as it may, it was doomed in any case.
Before the bagman with his Brummagem goods an art of this sort was bound
to go the way that in Europe our applied arts, the art of the potter,
the weaver, the builder and the joiner, the arts that in some sort
resembled it, have gone. No purely instinctive art can stand against the
machine. And thus it comes about that, at the present moment, we have
in Europe the extraordinary spectacle of a grand efflorescence of the
highly self-conscious, self-critical, intellectual, individualistic art
of painting amongst the ruins of the instinctive, uncritical, communal,
and easily impressed arts of utility. Industrialism, which, with its
vulgar finish and superabundant ornament, has destroyed not only popular
art but popular taste, has merely isolated the self-conscious artist and
the critical appreciator; and the nineteenth century (from Stephenson to
Mr. Ford), which ruined the crafts, in painting (from Ingres to Picasso)
rivals the fifteenth.

Meanwhile, the scholarly activities of dealers and journalists
notwithstanding, there is no such thing as nigger archaeology; for which
let us be thankful. Here, at any rate, are no great names to scare us
into dishonest admiration. Here is no question of dates and schools to
give the lecturer his chance of spoiling our pleasure. Here is nothing
to distract our attention from the one thing that matters--aesthetic
significance. Here is nigger sculpture: you may like it or dislike it,
but at any rate you have no inducement to judge it on anything but its



M. Andre Lhote is not only a first-rate painter, he is a capable writer
as well; so when, some weeks ago, he began to tell us what was wrong
with modern art, and how to put it right, naturally we pricked up our
ears. We were not disappointed. M. Lhote had several good things to
say, and he said them clearly; the thing, however, which he said most
emphatically of all was that he, Andre Lhote, besides being a painter
and a writer, is a Frenchman. He has a natural taste for order and a
superstitious belief in authority. That is why he recommends to
the reverent study of the young of all nations, David--David the
Schoolmaster! _Merci_, we have our own Professor Tonks.

Not that I would compare David, who was a first-rate practitioner and
something of an artist, with the great Agrippa of the Slade. But from
David even we have little or nothing to learn. For one thing, art cannot
be taught; for another, if it could be, a dry doctrinaire is not the man
to teach it. Very justly M. Lhote compares the Bouchers and Fragonards
of the eighteenth century with the Impressionists: alike they were
charming, a little drunk and disorderly. But when he asserts that it was
David who rescued painting from their agreeable frivolity he must be
prepared for contradiction: some people will have it that it was rather
the pupil Ingres. David, they will say, was little better than a politic
pedagogue, who, observing that with the Revolution classical virtues and
classical costumes had come into fashion, that Brutus, the tyrannicide,
and Aristides, called "the just," were the heroes of the hour, suited
his manners to his company and gave the public an art worthy of highly
self-conscious liberals. The timely discoveries made at Herculaneum and
Pompeii, they will argue, stood him in good stead. From these he learnt
just how citizens and citizen-soldiers should be drawn; and he drew
them: with the result that the next generation of Frenchmen were

Qui nous delivrera des Grecs et des Romains?

Whoever may have rescued European painting from the charming disorder of
the age of reason, there can be no question as to who saved it from the
riot of impressionism. That was the doing of the Post-Impressionists
headed by Cezanne. Forms and colours must be so organized as to compose
coherent and self-supporting wholes; that is the central conviction
which has inspired the art of the last twenty years. Order: that has
been the watchword; but order imposed from within. And order so imposed,
order imposed by the artist's inmost sense of what a work of art should
be, is something altogether different from the order obtained by
submission to a theory of painting. One springs from a personal
conviction; the other is enjoined by authority. Modern artists tend to
feel strongly the necessity for the former, and, if they be Frenchmen,
to believe intellectually in the propriety of the latter.

Look at a picture by Cezanne or by Picasso. What could be more orderly?
Cubism is nothing but the extreme manifestation of this passion for
order, for the complete organization of forms and colours. The artist
has subordinated his predilections and prejudices, his peculiar way of
seeing and feeling, his whims, his fancies and his eccentricities, to
a dominant sense of design. Yet the picture is personal. In the first
place a picture must be an organic whole, but that whole may be made up
of anything that happens to possess the artist's mind. Now, look at a
picture by Baudry or Poynter and you will see the last word in painting
by precept. The virtuous apprentice has stuck to the rules. He has done
all that his teacher bade him do. And he has done nothing else. David
ought to be pleased. Pray, M. Lhote, give him top marks.

Post-Impressionism, which reaffirmed the artist's latent sense of order
and reawoke a passion to create objects complete in themselves, left the
painter in full possession of his individuality. Now individualism is
the breath of every artist's life, and a thing of which no Frenchman,
in his heart, can quite approve. So, if an artist happens also to be a
Frenchman--and the combination is admirably common--what is he to do?
Why, look one way and row the other; which is what M. Lhote does. He
paints delightfully personal and impenitent pictures, and preaches
artistic Caesarism and David, "the saviour of society." All the week he
is a French artist, traditional as all real artists must be, but
never denying, when it comes to practice, that tradition is merely an
indispensable means to self-expression; and on Sundays, I dare say, he
goes, like Cezanne, to lean on M. le Cure, who leans on Rome, while his
_concierge_ receives the pure gospel of Syndicalism, which, also, is
based on absolute truths, immutable, and above criticism.

It is notorious that you may with impunity call a placable Frenchman
"butor," "scelerat," "coquin fieffe," "sale chameau," "depute" even, or
"senateur"; but two things you may not do: you may not call him "espece
d'individu," and you may not say "vous n'etes pas logique." It is as
unpardonable to call a Frenchman "illogique" as to shout after the
Venetian who has almost capsized your gondola "mal educato" M. Lhote is
"logique" all right: but "logical" in France has a peculiar meaning. It
means that you accept the consequences of your generalizations without
bothering about any little discrepancies that may occur between those
consequences and the facts ascertained by experience; it does not mean
that your high _a priori_ generalizations are themselves to be tested by
the nasty, searching instrument of reason. Thus it comes about that the
second master to whom M. Lhote would put this wild and wilful age of
ours to school is that mysterious trinity of painters which goes by the
name of "Le Nain."

I can quite understand M. Lhote's liking for the brothers Le Nain,
because I share it. Their simple, honest vision and frank statement are
peculiarly sympathetic to the generation that swears by Cezanne. Here
are men of good faith who feel things directly, and say not a word more
than they feel. With a little ingenuity and disingenuousness one might
make a _douanier_ of them. They are scrupulous, sincere, and born
painters. But they are not orderly. They are not organizers of form and
colour. No: they are not. On the contrary, these good fellows had the
most elementary notions of composition. They seem hardly to have guessed
that what one sees is but a transitory and incoherent fragment out of
which it is the business of art to draw permanence and unity. They set
down what they saw, and it is a bit of good luck if what they saw turns
out to have somewhat the air of a whole. Yet M. Lhote, preaching his
crusade against disorder, picks out the Le Nain and sets them up as an
example. What is the meaning of this?

M. Lhote himself supplies the answer. It is not order so much as
authority that he is after; and authority is good wherever found and
by whomsoever exercised. "Look," says he, "at Le Nain's peasants. The
painter represents them to us in the most ordinary attitude. It is the
poetry of everyday duties accepted without revolt. Le Nain's personages
are engaged in being independent as little as possible." No Bolshevism
here: and what a lesson for us all! Let painters submit themselves lowly
and reverently to David, and seventeenth-century peasants to their
feudal superiors. Not that I have the least reason for supposing M.
Lhote to be in politics an aristocrat: probably he is a better democrat
than I am. It is the [Greek: _kratos_], the rule, he cares for. Do as
you are told by Louis XIV, or Lenin, or David: only be sure that it
is as you are told. M. Lhote, of course, does nothing of the sort. He
respects the tradition, he takes tips from Watteau or Ingres or Cezanne,
but orders he takes from no man. He is an artist, you see.

In many ways this respect for authority has served French art well.
It is the source of that traditionalism, that tradition of high
seriousness, craftsmanship, and good taste, which, even in the darkest
days of early Victorianism, saved French painting from falling into the
pit of stale vulgarity out of which English has hardly yet crawled.
French revolutions in painting are fruitful, English barren--let the
Pre-Raphaelite movement be my witness. The harvest sown by Turner and
Constable was garnered abroad. Revolutions depart from tradition. Yes,
but they depart as a tree departs from the earth. They grow out of
it; and in England there is no soil. On the other hand, it is French
conventionality--for that is what this taste for discipline comes
to--which holds down French painting, as a whole, below Italian. There
are journeys a Frenchman dare not take because, before he reached their
end, he would be confronted by one of those bogeys before which the
stoutest French heart quails--"C'est inadmissible," "C'est convenu," "La
patrie en danger." One day he may be called upon to break bounds, to
renounce the national tradition, deny the preeminence of his country,
question the sufficiency of Poussin and the perfection of Racine, or
conceive it possible that some person or thing should be more noble,
reverend, and touching than his mother. On that day the Frenchman will
turn back. "C'est inadmissible."

France, the greatest country on earth, is singularly poor in the
greatest characters--great ones she has galore. Her standard of
civilization, of intellectual and spiritual activity, is higher than
that of any other nation; yet an absence of vast, outstanding figures
is one of the most obvious facts in her history. Her literature is to
English what her painting is to Italian. Her genius is enterprising
without being particularly bold or original, and though it has brought
so much to perfection it has discovered comparatively little. Assuredly
France is the intellectual capital of the world, since, compared with
hers, all other post-Renaissance civilizations have an air distinctly
provincial. Yet, face to face with the rest of the world, France is
provincial herself. Here is a puzzle: a solution of which, if it is to
be attempted at all, must be attempted in another chapter.


For the last sixty years and more one of the rare pleasures of political
philosophers has been to expatiate on "le droit administratif," on the
extraordinary powers enjoyed by Government in France, whatever that
government may be; and another pleasure, which few have denied
themselves, is that of drawing the not very obscure inference that
France is democratic rather than liberal, and that the French genius has
no patience with extreme individualism. If its effects were confined
wholly to politics, to criticize this national characteristic would be
no part of my business; but as it has profoundly influenced French art
as well as French life and thought, the reader, I trust, will not be
unbearably vexed by an essay which has little immediately to do with
the subject on which I am paid to write. "What is the cause of French
conventionality?" "What are its consequences?" These are questions to
which the student of French art cannot well be indifferent; and these
are the questions that I shall attempt to answer.

The cause, I suspect, is to be found in the defect of a virtue. If it
takes two to make a quarrel it takes as many to make a bargain; and if
even the best Frenchmen are willing to make terms with society, that
must be because society has something to offer them worth accepting. All
conventions are limitations on thought, feeling, and action; and, as
such, are the enemies of originality and character--hateful, therefore,
to men richly endowed with either. French conventions, however, have a
specious air of liberality, and France offers to him who will be bound
by them partnership in the most perfect of modern civilizations--a
civilization, be it noted, of which her conventions are themselves an
expression. The bribe is tempting. Also, the pill itself is pleasantly
coated. Feel thus, think thus, act thus, says the French tradition, not
for moral, still less for utilitarian, reasons, but for aesthetic. Stick
to the rules, not because they are right or profitable, but because they
are seemly--nay, beautiful. We are not telling you to be respectable, we
are inviting you not to be a lout. We are offering you, free of charge,
a trade mark that carries credit all the world over. "How French he (or
she) is!" Many a foreigner would pay handsomely to have as much said of

Any English boy born with fine sensibility, a peculiar feeling for art,
or an absolutely first-rate intelligence finds himself, from the outset,
at loggerheads with the world in which he is to live. For him there can
be no question of accepting those conventions which express what is
meanest in an unsympathetic society. To begin with, he will not go to
church or chapel on Sundays: it might be different were it a question
of going to Mass. The hearty conventions of family life which make
impossible almost relations at all intimate or subtle arouse in him
nothing but a longing for escape. He will be reared, probably, in an
atmosphere where all thought that leads to no practical end is despised,
or gets, at most, a perfunctory compliment when some great man who
in the teeth of opposition has won to a European reputation is duly
rewarded with a title or an obituary column in _The Times_. As for
artists, they, unless they happen to have achieved commercial success or
canonization in some public gallery, are pretty sure to be family jokes.
Thus, all his finer feelings will be constantly outraged; and he will
live, a truculent, shame-faced misfit, with _John Bull_ under his nose
and _Punch_ round the corner, till, at some public school, a course of
compulsory games and the Arnold tradition either breaks his spirit or
makes him a rebel for life.

In violent opposition to most of what surrounds him, any greatly gifted,
and tough, English youth is likely to become more and more aware of
himself and his own isolation. While his French compeer is having rough
corners gently obliterated by contact with a well-oiled whetstone, and
is growing daily more conscious of solidarity with his partners in a
peculiar and gracious civilization, the English lad grows steadily more
individualistic. Daily he becomes more eccentric, more adventurous, and
more of a "character." Very easily will he snap all conventional cables
and, learning to rely entirely on himself, trust only to his own sense
of what is good and true and beautiful. This personal sense is all that
he has to follow; and in following it he will meet with no conventional
obstacle that he need hesitate for one moment to demolish. English
civilization is so smug and hypocritical, so grossly philistine, and at
bottom so brutal, that every first-rate Englishman necessarily becomes
an outlaw. He grows by kicking; and his personality flourishes,
unhampered by sympathetic, clinging conventions, nor much--and this is
important, too--by the inquisitorial tyranny of Government. For, at any
rate until the beginning of the war, an Englishman who dared to defy the
conventions had less than a Frenchman to fear from the laws.

I have already suggested that the consequences of this difference
between French and English civilization may be studied in the history of
their literature and thought. For the abject poverty of English visual
art I have attempted to give reasons elsewhere: here I have not space to
say more than that it is rarely good for an artist to be a protestant,
and that a protestant is just what the English attitude to painting
generally forces a genuine artist to be. But consider the literature of
the French Renaissance: Rabelais is the one vast figure. Ronsard and his
friends are charming, elegant, and erudite; but not of the stupendous.
What is even more to the point, already with the _pleiade_ we have a
school--a school with its laws and conventions, its "thus far and no
further." Nothing is more notorious than the gorgeous individualism and
personality of those flamboyant monsters whom we call the Elizabethans,
unless it be the absence of that quality in the great French writers of
the next age. Had Pascal been as bold as Newton he might have been as
big. No one will deny that Descartes was a finer intelligence than
Hobbes, or that his meticulous respect for French susceptibilities gave
an altogether improbable turn to his speculations. In the eighteenth
century it was the English who did the discovering and the French who,
on these discoveries being declared _admissibles_, brought them to
perfection. Even in the nineteenth, the Revolution notwithstanding,
French genius, except in painting, asserted itself less vividly and
variously than the Russian or English, and less emphatically than the

In recording the consequences of this French taste for authority we have
had to register profit and loss. It is true that the picture presented
by French history offers comparatively few colossal achievements or
stupendous characters. With the latter, indeed, it is particularly
ill-supplied. Whereas most of the great and many of the secondary
English writers, thinkers, and artists have been great "characters," the
slightly monotonous good sense and refinement of French literary and
artistic life is broken only by a few such massive or surprising
figures as those of Rabelais, La Fontaine, Poussin, Rousseau, Flaubert,
Cezanne--a formidable list but a short one, to which, however, a few
names could be added. On the other hand, what France has lost in colour
she has gained in fertility; and in a universal Honours List for
intellectual and artistic prowess the number of French names would
be out of all proportion to the size and wealth of the country.
Furthermore, it is this traditional basis that has kept French culture
up to a certain level of excellence. France has never been without
standards. Therefore it has been to France that the rest of Europe has
always looked for some measure of fine thinking, delicate feeling, and
general amenity. Without her conventionality it may be doubted whether
France could have remained so long the centre of civilization.

One commonly deplored consequence of French conventionality is that it
makes Frenchmen incapable of well understanding or appreciating anything
foreign, or of judging acutely between foreigners and themselves. But is
even this a serious misfortune? French critics can discriminate between
French productions with unsurpassable delicacy and precision. As for the
spring of French inspiration, it is so copious that the creative genius
of that favoured race seems to need nothing more from outside than
an occasional new point of departure, to the grasping of which its
imperfect knowledge and unprehensile taste are adequate. Indeed, the
rare endeavours of Frenchmen seriously to cultivate alien methods and
points of view more often than not end in disaster. Shortly before
the war a school of particularly intelligent and open-minded writers
discovered, what we in England are only too familiar with, the aesthetic
possibilities of charity and the beauty of being good. Dostoevsky began
it. First, they ran after _him_; then, setting themselves, as well as
they could, to study Wordsworth and Walt Whitman, in translations,
they soon plunged miserably into a morass of sentimentality. A gifted
novelist and a charming poet, Charles-Louis Philippe and Vildrac, were
amongst the first to fall in. A Wordsworth can moralize, a Sterne
can pipe his eye, with impunity; but late eighteenth and early
twentieth-century literature prove how dangerous it is for a French
author to trespass in pursuit of motives beyond the limits of his

The reason why Frenchmen are incompetent to judge or appreciate what is
not French is that they apply to all things the French measure. They
have no universal standards, and, what is worse, they take for such
their own conventions. To read a French critic on Shakespeare or Ibsen
or Dostoevsky or Goethe is generally a humiliating experience for one
who loves France. As often as not you will find that he is depending
on a translation. It seems never to strike him that there is something
ludicrous in appraising nicely the qualities of a work written in a
language one cannot understand. Rather it seems to him ludicrous that
books should be written in any language but his own; and, until they are
translated, for him they do not exist. Many years ago, at Cambridge, I
remember having a sharpish altercation with Rupert Brooke, who had taken
it upon himself to denigrate the art of Racine. Before long it came out
that he had read the plays only in a translation; for at that time--he
was in his second year, I think--he had little or no French. Everyone
laughed, and the argument collapsed. Set the scene in Paris, imagine a
detractor of Shakespeare or Goethe being convicted of similar ignorance,
and ask yourself whether one Frenchman of the party would have felt that
by such an admission the critic was put out of court.

It cannot be denied, I fear, that the conventional habits of the French
mind lead easily to ignorance and self-satisfaction. To be frank, the
complacent aberrations of French taste, with its passion for Poe and its
pathetic confidence in Kipling and Chesterton, have become a standing
joke abroad. There is no great reason why the French should know
anything of foreign thought and literature; but there is every reason
why, knowing nothing, they should refrain from comment. And how many
Frenchmen do know anything? When I reflect that hardly one can quote
a line of English without committing or, at any rate, permitting the
grossest and most nonsensical blunders, I am inclined to suspect that
the answer is, very few. And I suppose it is this combination of
ignorance with an incapacity for handling criteria of universal validity
which gives to the nation that is assuredly the centre of civilization
its paradoxical air of provinciality. A Frenchman discoursing on foreign
peoples or on mankind in general--a favourite topic--suggests to me
sometimes the fantastic vision of a dog-fancier criticizing a steer.
Grant his premises--that whatever he admires in the one must be
essential to the other--and nothing could be more just and luminous than
his remarks. Undeniably the creature is a bit thick in the girth and,
what is worse, bull-necked. Only, as the points of an ox are different
from those of a poodle, the criticism is something beside the mark: and
there is not much more virtue in the objection to Shakespeare's later
tragedies that they are not written in rhymed verse. Blank verse,
however, is not in the great tradition; and the French critic, with
one eye fixed submissively on authority, doubts whether he would
be justified in admiring it unreservedly. Such are the inevitable
consequences of conventionality: and French conventionality is, in its
turn, the inevitable consequence of a civilization so gracious and
attractive that even the most lawless of its children cannot bear to
appear disloyal.


[Footnote P: _Marquet_. Par George Besson.]

The best picture by Marquet I ever saw was in the Grafton Gallery
exhibition of 1912. It represented a naked woman sitting in a
rocking-chair. Since then I have seen scores of things by him,
admirable, as a rule, and invariably brilliant, but never one that was
quite first-rate. And here comes M. George Besson, with an essay and an
album of photographs, to show us a few works which, surpassing anything
of which we had supposed him capable, emerge triumphantly from that
stream of clever variations on a theme which Marquet has made only too
much his own.

Anyone who compares these nudes with what Matisse was doing a dozen or
fifteen years ago will not fail to discover a common factor: neither
will he be surprised to learn that at one time these two artists were
treated almost as equals. Both achieved a strange and disquieting
intensity by bold simplifications and distortion, by concentration on
the vital movements and characteristics of the human body, and by an
absolute indifference to its literary and sentimental interest. "Lorsque
je dessine j'ai devant un homme les memes preoccupations que devant un
bec de gaz." That is well said: what is more, the saying has been put
successfully into practice. Such pictures as numbers 19, 25, and 27 are
entitled to a place beside those of no matter what contemporary.

Needless to say, the integrity of Marquet's vision has considerably
distressed those who have no taste for art; and from one of them,
Marquet's friend Charles-Louis Philippe, it drew a bit of art criticism
that ought not to be lost. "Le ciel me preserve," exclaims the author of
_Marie Donadieu_, "d'aimer d'un amour total un art dont l'ironie parfois
atteint a la cruaute! Et quand, tous les usages admis qui veulent qu'on
ne presente un homme que sous ses bons cotes, quand l'amitie meme que
j'eprouve pour M. Marquet m'eussent engage, a me taire, un devoir plus
imperieux me sollicitait, et j'aurais eu le sentiment de me rabaisser
moi-meme en y manquant."

Not even an art critic can be expected to lower himself in his own
eyes by turning a deaf ear to the solicitations of imperious duty.
So Monsieur Philippe very honourably concludes his observations by
expressing the opinion that "il n'a pas droit a toute l'admiration des
hommes puisqu'il a ete sans pitie."

The cry of this soft and silly sentimentalist has been neatly put by
M. Besson to the purpose of illustrating, and perhaps a little
exaggerating, the merits of a painter who is, assuredly, neither one
nor the other. Too clever by half, that rather is the fault with which
Marquet must be taxed. The artist who has given us a dozen first-rate
things--superb nudes, "felt" as solid, three-dimensional forms, and
realized as such--is always being forestalled by an astonishing
caricaturist who can knock you off something brilliant, rapid, and
telling while you wait for the boat. Always this brisk and agile person
is stepping forward in front of the artist and jotting down his neat
symbols in the space reserved for significant form. The landscapes
and boats and street-scenes of Marquet, with their joyously emphatic
statement, their lively contrasts, and their power of giving you the
pith of the matter in a few strokes, are about as valuable as the best
things of Forain. They are statements of fact, not expressions of
emotion. Marquet, the inimitable captor of life as it hurries by, is
not much better than a caricaturist; and as he becomes more and more
proficient in his craft he bothers less and less about that to which
it should be a means. The art of Marquet tends ever to become the
repetition of a formula.

Lately, in London, we have been looking at the works of Pissarro, and I
could wish that Marquet would look at them, too. Like him, Pissarro was
a painter of streets and landscapes who returned again and again to the
same motif. In the course of a long life he must, I should think, have
painted the Quai Voltaire, the Quai des Grands Augustins, and the Quai
St. Michel almost as often as Marquet has knocked them off. And if
Pissarro never invented a shorthand wherewith to make notes of what was
going on beneath his window, that was because Pissarro, for all his
impressionist theory, was less concerned with the transitory aspect
of things than with their aesthetic significance. He, too, approached
everything, men and women, trees, rivers, and houses, in the same
spirit: he approached them in the spirit of a painter. Never for the
ugliest harlot, the sorriest thief, or the most woebegone gas-jet did he
feel that whimpering, simpering, sentiment that Tolstoy frankly admired
and Philippe felt the want of. But always he seems to have seen his
motif with the finely disinterested passion of an artist. Now, the
passion of an artist is not to be jotted down: it has to be deliberately
transmuted into form.

If Marquet were as familiar with naked women as he is with the hats,
coats, and petticoats he sees from his window, doubtless by this time he
would have elaborated a set of symbols wherewith to record his sense of
them. Happily he is not: so, before the model, he finds himself obliged
to demand of the artist that is in him some plastic equivalent for his
intense and agitated vision. Thus goaded and disarmed he can produce
a masterpiece. And, therefore, were it for me to give advice, what
I should say to Marquet would be--throw away your sketch-book and
panel-box, and settle down in a studio, with a top light, a model or
two, and a six-foot canvas. Only, as this must be just what M. Lhote has
been telling him, naturally he would tell me to mind my own business.

His apologist, M. Besson, at any rate, has no patience with those who
would set artists in the way they should go. In this essay he gives them
a piece of his mind, and he does it so well and so gaily that it is a
pleasure to be scolded. First, he has a few words with "une dame,
que Gerome fit heritiere de ses uniformes et qui devint la muse d'un
geometre-arpenteur de certaine recente peinture." (Whom can he mean?)

Je connais l'atelier de Marquet, Madame, en marge de l'Atelier ou
l'on esthetise, ou l'on fabrique les manifestes et les novateurs de
genie. Marquet garde son role de peintre. Il n'est guere pour lui de
souci plus serieux que le souci de sa liberte. Il veut etre libre
pour peindre, libre meme pour oublier la peinture, libre encore,
libre davantage pour n'etre ni questionne ni consulte, pour ne
devenir ni un expert, ni un educateur de sots.

Et voila pourquoi, vous n'avez jamais fait de conference en son

And again:

Pour n'avoir jamais asservi son art a la construction d'un systeme,
pour avoir senti la vanite des theories, pour n'avoir pas fait tout
les pelerinages d'ou l'on revient avec des regles, l'art d'Albert
Marquet donne une impression de peinture heureuse.

Of course M. Besson is right. Few in this world cut a more ludicrous
figure than art-masters; few things are more deplorable than propaganda.
Yet M. Besson should be careful: one thing there is more ridiculous
still, and that is counter-propaganda. Protestantism in art is
the devil; but the devil is not such a fool as to protest against
protestantism. He leaves that to the young bloods of the Rotonde and the
Cafe Royal. By all means let M. Besson claim liberty for his artist,
but, in doing so, let him beware of denying it to another, even though
what that other demands be "liberty of prophesying" or the right to
preach the gospel according to David.


Some people in England are beginning to realize that while we have been
"saving civilization," first from Germans, and then from Bolsheviks, we
have come near losing it ourselves. [Q] This disquieting truth has been
borne in on them by various signs and portents, not least by the utter
collapse of taste. At life's feast we are like people with colds in
their heads: we have lost all power of discrimination. As ever, "Dido,
Queen of Carthage," and better things than that, are caviare to the
general: what is new, and worse, to our most delicate epicures bloater
paste is now caviare.

[Footnote Q: Written in March 1919.]

At a London dinner-party even a peeress, even an American lady who
has married a peer, dare not commit herself to an adverse literary
judgement--except in the case of notoriously disaffected writers--for
the very good reason that she does not know where to go for a literary
judgement that shall be above reproach. We have as little confidence in
our critics as in our ministers. Indeed, since all our officers, and
most of our privates, took to publishing pages of verse or, at any rate,
of prose that looks odd enough to be verse, the habit of criticism has
been voted unpatriotic. To grudge a man in the trenches a column of
praise loud enough to drown for a moment the noise of battle would have
seemed ungrateful and, what is worse, fastidious. Our critics were
neither; they did their bit: and no one was surprised to hear the stuff
with which schoolboys line their lockers described as "one of the
truest, deepest, and most moving notes that have been struck since the
days of Elizabeth."

This sort of thing was encouraging at the time, and kept our lads in
good heart; but, in the long run, it has proved demoralizing to our
critics as well as to their clients. For, now that the war is over,
those who so loyally proclaimed that any bugle-boy was a better musician
than any fiddler find themselves incapable of distinguishing, not only
between fiddlers, but even between buglers. Perhaps it was natural that
when, during the war, T.S. Eliot, about the best of our young poets--if
ours I may call him--published _Prufrock_, no English paper, so far as
I know, should have given him more than a few words of perfunctory
encouragement: natural that when Virginia Woolf, the best of our younger
novelists, and Middleton Murry published works of curious imagination
and surprising subtlety, critics, worn in the service of Mr. Bennett of
the Propaganda Office and our Mr. Wells, should not have noticed that
here were a couple of artists: but is it not as strange as sad that our
patriot geese, time out of mind a nation's oracles, should still be
unable to tell us whether Lieutenant Brooke, Captain Nicholls, Major
Grenfell, or Lieut.-Colonel Maurice Baring is the greatest poet of this

And in painting and music things are no better. Even our old prejudices
are gone. All is welcome now, except real art; and even that gets
splashed in the wild outpour of adulation. To admire everything is,
perhaps, a more amiable kind of silliness than to admire nothing: it is
silliness all the same. Also, it has brought taste to such a pass that,
except the Russian ballet, there was not last winter [R] in London one
entertainment at which a person of reasonable intelligence could bear
to spend an hour. As for the ballet, it was a music-hall turn, lasting
fifteen minutes, which the public seemed to like rather better than the
performing dogs and distinctly less than the ventriloquist. The public
accepted it because it accepts whatever is provided. Nevertheless, the
subtler of our music-hall comedians have obviously been ordered to
coarsen their methods or clear out, and the rare jokes that used to
relieve the merry misery of our revues and plays are now dispensed with
as superfluous.

[Footnote R: The winter 1918-19.]

The war is not entirely to blame: the disease was on us long before
1914. War, however, created an atmosphere in which it was bound to
prevail. Active service conditions are notoriously unfavourable to the
critical spirit. The army canteen need not tempt its customers: neither
need the ordinary shop under a rationing system: and, it must be
confessed, the habit of catering for colonial soldiers has not tended to
make our public entertainments more subtle or amusing. But the disease
of which taste is sick unto death has been on us these fifty years. It
is the emporium malady. We are slaves of the trade-mark. Our tastes are
imposed on us by our tradesmen, under which respectable title I include
newspaper owners, booksellers' touts, book-stall keepers, music-hall
kings, opera syndicates, picture-dealers, and honest bagmen.

As for the tradesman, he is no longer an expert any more than the critic
or the impressario is. No longer a merchant, no longer a shop-keeper
even, he is to-day a universal provider. Fifty years ago the nice
housewife still prided herself on knowing the right place for
everything. There was a little man in a back street who imported just
the coffee she wanted, another who blended tea to perfection, a third
who could smoke a ham as a ham should be smoked. All have vanished now;
and the housewife betakes herself to the stores. We no longer insist on
getting what we like, we like what we get. The March Hare's paradox has
ceased to be paradoxical. For five years Europe has been doing what it
was told to do; for five years our experts have subjected their critical
sense to a sense of patriotism and a desire to keep in with the
majority; at last the producers themselves have lost their sense of
values and can no longer test the quality of their own productions.
There are no standards.

Let no one imagine that standards are, like police regulations, things
that can be imposed by authority. Standards exist in the mind, where
they grow out of that personal sense of values which is one of the twin
pillars on which civilization rests. All that authority can do is to
stimulate and sharpen that sense by subtle education and absolute
sincerity. The critic can put good things in another man's way and
present them in a sympathetic light; also, he can resolutely refuse ever
to pretend that he likes what he does not like. Standards are imposed
from above in the sense that people who have the ability and leisure to
cultivate their sense of values will, if they take advantage of their
opportunities, inevitably influence those less favourably placed. In the
fine arts, certainly, taste is bound to be very much directed by people
blest with peculiar gifts and armed with special equipment. But, besides
taste in the fine arts, there is such a thing as taste in life; a power
of discerning and choosing for one's self in life's minor matters; and
on this taste in life, this sense of the smaller values, is apt to
flourish that subtler and more precious aesthetic sense. Without this
taste no civilization can exist; for want of it European civilization is
seemingly about to perish.

Take the thing at its lowest. A rich, good-humoured fellow, replete
with a fabulously expensive but distressingly ill-chosen dinner in a
magnificently ill-furnished and over-lit restaurant, excited by Saumur
(recommended as "Perrier Jouet, 1911") and a great deal of poor
conversation drowned, for the most part, by even noisier music, may be
heard to say, as he permits the slovenly waiter to choose him the most
expensive cigar--"That will do, sonny, the best's good enough for me."
The best is not good enough for anyone who has standards; but the modern
Englishman seems to have none. To go to the most expensive shop and buy
the dearest thing there is his notion of getting the best. You may dine
at any of the half-dozen "smartest" restaurants in London, pay a couple
of pounds for your meal, and be sure that a French commercial traveller,
bred to the old standards of the provincial ordinary, would have sent
for the cook and given him a scolding. It is not to be supposed that the
most expensive English restaurants fail to engage the most expensive
French chefs; they are engaged, but they soon fall below the mark
because there is no one to keep them up to it. The clients have no
standards. Go to the opera and look at the rich ladies' frocks: they
might have come out of an antimacassar factory. They express no sense of
what is personally becoming nor a sense of insolent luxury even: they
bear witness to an utter lack of standards, and they cost a great deal
of money. The best is good enough for these fine ladies, and their best
is the dressmaker's most expensive.

This is no mere question of fashions and conventions. If standards go,
civilization goes. To hear people talk you might suppose there had never
been such things as dark ages. Not only have there been dark ages,
there has been an unmeasured tract of pre-historic savagery, and sharp
eyes--notably those of Louis Weber--are beginning to detect certain
similarities between this age and that. The peculiarity of the historic
age, man's brilliant age, the age of civilization, is the conservatism
of its technique and its spiritual restlessness. In the pre-historic age
man's best energies were apparently devoted to perfecting the means
to material existence. Improving the instrument was the grand
preoccupation. From the old stone age to the new, from that to bronze,
and from bronze to iron is the story of pre-historic development. Then
follow some forty centuries during which man rests content with his
instrument. Between the Minoan age and the Industrial Revolution his
technical discoveries are insignificant by comparison with his spiritual
adventures. Content with the plough, the wagon, and the loom, man turns
the sharp edge of his mind to things of the mind, considers himself in
all his relations, thinks, feels, states, expresses, concerns himself
with spiritual, rather than material, problems. With the Industrial
Revolution begins the third act. Again human intelligence and ingenuity
concentrate on the prehistoric problem--the perfecting of the
instrument. For a hundred years Europe marches merrily back towards
barbarism. Then, at the very moment when she is becoming alarmed and
self-critical, at the very moment when she is wondering how she is to
reconcile her new material ambitions with the renascent claims of the
spirit, comes a war that relegates to the dust-bin or the gaol all that
is not of immediate practical utility. The smoke of battle drifts
slowly away and reveals a situation almost hopeless. We have lost our
standards, our taste in life: we have lost the very thing by which we
recognized that there were such things as spiritual values.

In one of his early essays Renan points out that the proper apology for
the old French aristocracy is that it performed the proper function of
a leisured class. It maintained standards. Unlike the English, it
concerned itself neither with politics nor with money-making, nor yet
with local affairs: it stood apart, "formant dans la nation une classe
qui n'avait d'autre souci que les choses liberales." Renan recognized
that a leisured class is the source of civilization; whether he also
recognized that there is no earthly reason why a leisured class should
be the ruling class is not clear. In Europe we have now no leisured
class; we have only a number of rich men, mere wealth-producers, who
perform for high wages the useful functions that miners and milkmaids
perform for low ones. Our leisured class, moribund before the war, died
peacefully in its sleep the year before last. There is no class on this
side the Atlantic to insist on quality now. But if, as I am told, we all
owe money to America, has not America acquired, along with her financial
supremacy, certain moral obligations? Has she not become the leisured
class of the world, and, as such, responsible to civilization for the
maintenance of those standards without which civilization falls? If so,
it is for America to insist in the fine arts on some measure of talent
and intelligence, in society on decent manners, in life on a critical
attitude: it is for her to reaffirm those standards of excellence below
which neither art nor thought nor manners nor merchandize shall be
suffered to fall: for her to teach us once again to be fastidious, to
embolden us to say to a poet, a painter, a politician, a newspaper
proprietor, or even to a _maitre d'hotel_--"This is not good enough."
America possesses the means; she can crack the only whip that carries
much conviction nowadays. Whether she has the will to use it is quite
another matter.


(I) _Criticism_

Critics do not exist for artists any more than palaeontologists exist
for fossils. If both critics and artists could recognize this, how much
poorer the world would be in malice and rancour! To help the artist is
no part of a critic's business: artists who cannot help themselves must
borrow from other artists. The critic's business is to help the public.
With the artist he is not directly concerned: he is concerned only with
his finished products. So it is ridiculous for the artist to complain
that criticism is unhelpful, and absurd for the critic to read the
artist lectures with a view to improving his art. If the critic reads
lectures it must be with a view to helping the public to appreciate, not
the artist to create. To put the public in the way of aesthetic pleasure,
that is the end for which critics exist, and to that end all means are

Connoisseurs in pleasure--of whom I count myself one--know that nothing
is more intensely delightful than the aesthetic thrill. Now, though many
are capable of tasting this pleasure, few can get it for themselves:
for only those who have been born with a peculiar sensibility, and have
known how to cherish it, enjoy art naturally, simply, and at first hand
as most of us enjoy eating, drinking, and kissing. But, fortunately,
it is possible for the peculiarly sensitive, or for some of them, by
infecting others with their enthusiasm, to throw these into a state
of mind in which they, too, can experience the thrill of aesthetic
comprehension. And the essence of good criticism is this: that, instead
of merely imparting to others the opinions of the critic, it puts them
in a state to appreciate the work of art itself. A man blest with
peculiar sensibility, who happens also to possess this infecting power,
need feel no more shame in becoming a critic than Socrates would have
felt in becoming a don. The vocations are much alike. The good critic
puts his pupil in the way of enjoying art, the good don or schoolmaster
teaches his how to make the most of life; while bad critics and
pedagogues stuff their victims with those most useless of all useless
things, facts and opinions.

Primarily, a critic is a sign-post. He points to a work of art and
says--"Stop! Look!" To do that he must have the sensibility that
distinguishes works of art from rubbish, and, amongst works of art, the
excellent from the mediocre. Further, the critic has got to convince,
he has got to persuade the spectator that there is something before him
that is really worth looking at. His own reaction, therefore, must be
genuine and intense. Also, he must be able to stimulate an appreciative
state of mind; he must, that is to say, have the art of criticism. He
should be able, at a pinch, to disentangle and appraise the qualities
which go to make up a masterpiece, so that he may lead a reluctant
convert by partial pleasures to a sense of the whole. And, because
nothing stands more obstructively between the public and the grand
aesthetic ecstasies than the habit of feeling a false emotion for a
pseudo-work-of-art, he must be as remorseless in exposing shams as a
good schoolmaster would be in exposing charlatans and short-cuts to

Since, in all times and places, the essence of art--the externalizing in
form of something that lies at the very depths of personality--has been
the same, it may seem strange, at first sight, that critical methods
should have varied. One moment's reflection will suffice to remind us
that there are often ten thousand paths to the same goal; and a second's
may suggest that the variety in critical methods is, at any rate, not
more surprising than the variety in the methods of artists. Always
have artists been striving to convert the thrill of inspiration
into significant form; never have they stuck long to any one
converting-machine. Throughout the ages there has been a continual
chopping and changing of "the artistic problem." Canons in criticism
are as unessential as subjects in painting. There are ends to which
a variety of means are equally good: the artist's end is to create
significant form; that of the critic to bring his spectator before a
work of art in an alert and sympathetic frame of mind. If we can realize
that Giotto, with his legends, and Picasso, with his cubes, are after
the same thing, surely we can understand that when Vasari talks of
"Truth to Nature" or "nobility of sentiment," and Mr. Roger Fry of
"planes" and "relations," both are about the same business.

Only a fool could suppose that the ancients were less sensitive to art
than we are. Since they were capable of producing great art it seems
silly to pretend that they were incapable of appreciating it. We need
not be dismayed by the stories of Apelles and Polygnotus with their
plums and sparrows. These are merely the instruments of criticism:
by such crude means did ancient critics excite the public and try to
express their own subtle feelings. If anyone seriously believes that the
Athenians admired the great figures on the Parthenon for their fidelity
to Nature I would invite him to take into consideration the fact that
they are not faithful at all. More probably a sensitive Athenian admired
them for much the same reasons as we admire them. He felt much what we
feel: only, he expressed his admiration and thus provoked the admiration
of others, by calling these grand, distorted, or "idealized" figures
"lifelike." Reading the incomparable Vasari, one is not more struck by
his sensibility and enthusiasm than by the improbability of his having
liked the pictures he did like for the childish reasons he is apt to
allege. Could anyone be moved by the verisimilitude of Uccello? I forget
whether that is what Vasari commends: what I am sure of is that he was
moved by the same beauties that move us.

The fact is, it matters hardly at all what words the critic employs
provided they have the power of infecting his audience with his genuine
enthusiasm for an authentic work of art. No one can state in words just
what he feels about a work of art--especially about a work of visual
art. He may exclaim; indeed, if he be a critic he should exclaim, for
that is how he arrests the public. He may go on to seek some rough
equivalent in words for his excited feelings. But whatever he may say
will amount to little more than steam let off. He cannot describe his
feelings; he can only make it clear that he has them. That is why
analytical criticism of painting and music is always beside the mark:
neither, I think, is analytical criticism of literary art much more
profitable. With literature that is not pure art the case is different,
facts and ideas being, of course, the analyst's natural prey. But before
a work of art the critic can do little more than jump for joy. And that
is all he need do if, like Cherubino, he is "good at jumping." The
warmth and truth of Vasari's sentiment comes straight through all his
nonsense. Because he really felt he can still arrest.

Take an artist who has always been popular, and see what the ages have
had to say about him. For more than two hundred and fifty years Poussin
has been admired by most of those who have been born sensitive to the
visual arts. No pretexts could be more diverse than those alleged by
these admirers. Yet it would be as perverse to suppose that they have
all liked him for totally different reasons as to maintain that all
those who, since the middle of the seventeenth century, have relished
strawberries have tasted different flavours. What is more, when I read,
say, the fantastic discourses on the pictures of Poussin delivered by
the Academicians of 1667, I feel certain that some of these erudite old
gentlemen had, in fact, much the same sort of enthusiasm, stirred by the
monumental qualities of his design and the sober glory of his colours,
that I have myself. Through all the dry dust of their pedantry the
accent of aesthetic sensibility rings clear.

Poussin's contemporaries praised him chiefly as a preceptor, an
inculcator of historical truths, more especially the truths of classical
and Hebrew history. That is why Philippe de Champaigne deplores the fact
that in his _Rebecca_ "Poussin n'ait pas traite le sujet de son tableau
avec toute la fidelite de l'histoire, parce qu'il a retranche la
representation des chameaux, dont l'Ecriture fait mention." But Le Brun,
approaching the question from a different angle, comes heavily down on
his scrupulous colleague with the rejoinder that "M. Poussin a rejete
les objets bizarres qui pouvaient debaucher l'oeil du spectateur et
l'amuser a des minuties." The philosophic eighteenth century remarked
with approval that Poussin was the exponent of a wholesome doctrine
calculated to advance the happiness of mankind. But to the fervid pages
of Diderot, wherein that tender enthusiast extols Poussin to the skies,
asserting that one finds in his work "le charme de la nature avec les
incidents ou les plus doux ou les plus terribles de la vie," our modern
sensibility makes no response. And we are right. The whole panegyric
rings hollow. For to visual art Diderot had no reaction, as every line
he wrote on the subject shows.

That devout critic who, in the reign of the respectable Louis-Philippe,
discovered that "Nicolas Poussin etait doue d'une foi profonde: la piete
fut son seul refuge," is in the same boat. And for companion they have
Mr. Ruskin, who, being, like them, incapable of a genuine aesthetic
emotion, is likewise incapable of infecting a truly sensitive reader. So
far as I remember, Ruskin's quarrel with Poussin is that to his picture
of the _Flood_ he has given a prevailing air of sobriety and gloom,
whereas it is notorious that an abundance of rain causes all green
things to flourish and the rocks to shine like agate. But when Ingres
attributes the excellence of Poussin to the fact that he was a faithful
disciple of the ancients we feel that he is talking about the thing
that matters, and that he is talking sense. And we feel the same--what
instance could more prettily illustrate my theory?--when Delacroix
passionately asserts that Poussin was an arch-revolutionary. [S]

[Footnote S: For this little history of Poussin criticism I am indebted
to M. Paul Desjardins: _Poussin_ (Paris, Librairie Renouard).]

The divergence between the pretexts alleged by our ancestors for their
enthusiasm and the reasons given by us, moderns, is easily explained
by our intense self-consciousness. We are deeply interested in our own
states of mind: we are all psychologists now. From psychology springs
the modern interest in aesthetics; those who care for art and the
processes of their own minds finding themselves aestheticians
willy-nilly. Now, art-criticism and aesthetics are two things, though at
the present moment the former is profoundly influenced by the latter.
By works of art we are thrown into an extraordinary state of mind, and,
unlike our forefathers, we want to give some exacter account of that
state than that it is pleasant, and of the objects that provoke it some
more accurate and precise description than that they are lifelike,
or poetical, or beautiful even. We expect our critics to find some
plausible cause for so considerable an effect. We ask too much. It is
for the aesthetician to analyze a state of mind and account for it: the
critic has only to bring into sympathetic contact the object that will
provoke the emotion and the mind that can experience it. Therefore, all
that is required of him is that he should have sensibility, conviction,
and the art of making his conviction felt. Fine sensibility he must
have. He must be able to spot good works of art. No amount of eloquence
in the critic can give form significance. To create that is the artist's
business. It is for the critic to put the public in the way of enjoying

2. _Second Thoughts_

It is becoming fashionable to take criticism seriously, or, more
exactly, serious critics are trying to make it so. How far they have
succeeded may be measured by the fact that we are no longer ashamed to
reprint our reviews: how far they are justified is another question. It
is one the answer to which must depend a good deal on our answer to that
old and irritating query--is beauty absolute? For, if the function of a
critic be merely to perform the office of a sign-post, pointing out
what he personally likes and stimulating for that as much enthusiasm as
possible, his task is clearly something less priestlike than it would
be if, beauty being absolute, it were his to win for absolute beauty
adequate appreciation.

I do not disbelieve in absolute beauty any more than I disbelieve
in absolute truth. On the contrary, I gladly suppose that the
proposition--this object must be either beautiful or not beautiful--is
absolutely true. Only, can we recognize it? Certainly, at moments we
believe that we can. We believe it when we are taken unawares and bowled
over by the purely aesthetic qualities of a work of art. The purely
aesthetic qualities, I say, because we can be thrown into that
extraordinarily lucid and unself-conscious transport wherein we are
aware only of a work of art and our reaction to it by aesthetic qualities
alone. Every now and then the beauty, the bald miracle, the "significant
form"--if I may venture the phrase--of a picture, a poem, or a piece of
music--of something, perhaps, with which we had long believed ourselves
familiar--springs from an unexpected quarter and lays us flat. We were
not on the look-out for that sort of thing, and we abandon ourselves
without one meretricious gesture of welcome. What we feel has nothing
to do with a pre-existent mood; we are transported into a world washed
clean of all past experience aesthetic or sentimental. When we have
picked ourselves up we begin to suppose that such a state of mind must
have been caused by something of which the significance was inherent and
the value absolute. "This," we say, "is absolute beauty." Perhaps it is.
Only, let us hesitate to give that rather alarming style to anything
that has moved us less rapturously or less spontaneously.

For, ninety-nine out of a hundred of our aesthetic experiences have been
carefully prepared. Art rarely catches us: we go half way to meet it,
we hunt it down even with a pack of critics. In our chastest moments we
enter a concert-hall or gallery with the deliberate intention of being
moved; in our most abandoned we pick up Browning or Alfred de Musset and
allow our egotism to bask in their oblique flattery. Now, when we come
to art with a mood of which we expect it to make something brilliant or
touching there can be no question of being possessed by absolute beauty.
The emotion that we obtain is thrilling enough, and exquisite may be;
but it is self-conscious and reminiscent: it is conditioned. It is
conditioned by our mood: what is more--critics please take note--this
precedent mood not only colours and conditions our experience, but draws
us inevitably towards those works of art in which it scents sympathy and
approval. To a reflective moralist Wordsworth will always mean more
than a yellow primrose meant to Peter Bell. In our moments of bitter
disillusionment it is such a comfort to jest with Pope and His Lordship
that we lose all patience with the advanced politician who prefers
Blake. And, behold, we are in a world of personal predilections, a
thousand miles from absolute values.

Discussion of this question is complicated by the fact that a belief in
the absolute nature of beauty is generally considered meritorious. It
can be hitched onto, and even made to support, a disbelief in the theory
that the universe is a whimsical and unpremeditated adventure which
rolls merrily down the road to ruin without knowing in the least where
it is going or caring to go anywhere in particular. This theory is
unpopular. Wherefore, absolute beauty is too often fitted into a whole
system of absolutes or rather into The Absolute; and, of course,
it would be intolerable to suppose that we could ever fail to
recognize--should I say Him? Unluckily, history and personal
experience--those two black beasts of _a priori_ idealists--here await
us. If beauty be absolute, the past was sometimes insensitive, or we
are: for the past failed to recognize the beauty of much that seems to
us supremely beautiful, and sincerely admired much that to us seems
trash. And we, ourselves, did we never despise what to-day we adore?
Murillo and Salvator Rosa and forgers of works by both enjoyed for years
the passionate admiration of the _cognoscenti_ In Dr. Johnson's time
"no composition in our language had been oftener perused than Pomfret's
_Choice_." If ever there was a man who should have been incapable of
going wrong about poetry that man was Thomas Gray. How shall we explain
his enthusiasm for Macpherson's fraud? And if there be another of whom
the bowling over might be taken as conclusive evidence in the court
of literary appeal that other is surely Coleridge. Hark to him: "My
earliest acquaintances will not have forgotten the undisciplined
eagerness and impetuous zeal with which I laboured to make proselytes,
not only of my companions, but of all with whom I conversed, of whatever
rank, and in whatever place.... And with almost equal delight did I
receive the three or four following publications of the same author."
That author was the Reverend Mr. Bowles.

I was saying that any work of art that has given the authentic thrill to
a man of real sensibility must have an absolute and inherent value: and,
of course, we all are really sensitive. Only, it is sometimes difficult
to be sure that our thrill was the real _coup de foudre_ and not the
mere gratification of a personal appetite. Let us admit so much: let us
admit that we do sometimes mistake what happens to suit us for what is
absolutely and universally good; which once admitted, it will be easy to
concede further that no one can hope to recognize all manifestations
of beauty. History is adamant against any other conclusion. No one can
quite escape his age, his civilization, and his peculiar disposition;
from which it seems to follow that not even the unanimous censure of
generations can utterly discredit anything. The admission comes in the
nick of time: history was on the point of calling attention to the
attitude of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries to Gothic,
Romanesque, and Byzantine art.

The fact is, most of our enthusiasms and antipathies are the bastard
offspring of a pure aesthetic sense and a permanent disposition or a
transitory mood. The best of us start with a temperament and a point of
view, the worst with a cut-and-dried theory of life; and for the artist
who can flatter and intensify these we have a singular kindness, while
to him who appears indifferent or hostile it is hard to be even just.
What is more, those who are most sensitive to art are apt to be most
sensitive to these wretched, irrelevant implications. They pry so deeply
into a work that they cannot help sometimes spying on the author behind
it. And remember, though rightly we set high and apart that supreme
rapture in which we are carried to a world of impersonal and
disinterested admiration, our aesthetic experience would be small indeed
were it confined to this. More often than not it must be of works that
have moved him partly by matching a mood that the best of critics
writes. More often than not he is disentangling and exhibiting qualities
of which all he can truly say is that they have proved comfortable
or exhilarating to a particular person at a particular moment. He is
dealing with matters of taste; and about tastes, you know, _non est

I shall not pretend that when I call the poetry of Milton good I suppose
my judgement to have no more validity than what may be claimed for that
of the urchin who says the same of peppermints: but I do think a
critic should cultivate a sense of humour. If he be very sure that his
enthusiasm is the only appropriate response of a perfectly disinterested
sensibility to absolute beauty, let him be as dogmatic as is compatible
with good breeding: failing that, I counsel as great a measure of
modesty as may be compatible with the literary character. Let him
remember that, as a rule, he is not demanding homage for what he knows
to be absolutely good, but pointing to what he likes and trying to
explain why he likes it. That, to my mind, is the chief function of a
critic. After all, an unerring eye for masterpieces is perhaps of more
use to a dealer than to him. Mistakes do not matter much: if we are
to call mistakes what are very likely no more than the records of a
perverse or obscure mood. Was it a mistake in 1890 to rave about Wagner?
Is it a mistake to find him intolerable now? Frankly, I suspect the man
or woman of the nineties who was unmoved by Wagner of having wanted
sensibility, and him or her who to-day revels in that music of being
aesthetically oversexed. Be that as it may, never to pretend to like what
bores or dislike what pleases him, to be honest in his reactions and
exact in their description, is all I now ask of a critic. It is asking
a good deal, I think. To a lady who protested that she knew what she
liked, Whistler is said to have replied--"So, madame, do the beasts of
the field." Do they? Then all I can say is the beasts of the field are
more highly developed than most of the ladies and gentlemen who write
about art in the papers.

3. _Last Thoughts_

Already I am in a scrape with the critics. I am in a scrape for having
said, a couple of years ago, that a critic was nothing but a sign-post,
and for having added, somewhat later, that he was a fallible sign-post
at that. So now, contributing to a supplement [T] which, being written by
critics, is sure to be read by them, I naturally take the opportunity of
explaining that what I said, if rightly understood, was perfectly civil
and obliging.

[Footnote T: Contributed to the Critical Supplement of _The New

Perhaps I shall stand a better chance of pardon when it is perceived
that I, too, am fallible, and, what is more, that I am quite aware of
the fact. The reader can see for himself that, from first thoughts to
last--in three years, that is--not only have my opinions on the art of
criticism been modified, but my critical opinions have themselves become
less confident. So, to recall what I did say: I said that critics exist
for the public, and that it is no part of their business to help artists
with good advice. I argued that a critic no more exists for artists than
a palaeontologist does for the Dinosaurs on whose fossils he expatiates,
and that, though artists happen to create those exciting objects which
are the matter of a critic's discourse, that discourse is all for the
benefit of the critic's readers. For these, I said, he is to procure
aesthetic pleasures: and his existence is made necessary by the curious
fact that, though works of art are charged with a power of provoking
extraordinarily intense and desirable emotions, the most sensitive
people are often incapable of experiencing them until a jog or a drop of
stimulant even has been given to their appreciative faculties.

A critic should be a guide and an animator. His it is first to bring his
reader into the presence of what he believes to be art, then to cajole
or bully him into a receptive frame of mind. He must, therefore, besides
conviction, possess a power of persuasion and stimulation; and if anyone
imagines that these are common or contemptible gifts he mistakes. It
would, of course, be much nicer to think that the essential part of a
critic's work was the discovery and glorification of absolute beauty:
only, unluckily, it is far from certain that absolute beauty exists, and
most unlikely, if it does, that any human being can distinguish it from
what is relative. The wiser course, therefore, is to ask of critics
no more than sincerity, and to leave divine certitude to superior
beings--magistrates, for instance, and curates, and fathers of large
families, and Mr. Bernard Shaw. At any rate, it is imprudent, I am sure,
in us critics to maintain so stoutly as we are apt to do, that when we
call a work of art "good" we do not mean simply that we like it with
passion and conviction but that it is absolutely so, seeing that the
most sensitive people of one age have ever extolled some things which
the most sensitive of another have cried down, and have cried down what
others have extolled. And, indeed, I will bet whatever this essay may
be worth that there is not a single contributor to this supplement who
would not flatly contradict a vast number of the aesthetic judgements
which have been pronounced with equal confidence by the most illustrious
of his predecessors. No critic can be sure that what he likes has
absolute value; and it is a mark of mere silliness to suppose that what
he dislikes can have no value at all. Neither is there any need of
certainty. A critic must have sincerity and conviction--he must be
convinced of the genuineness of his own feelings. Never may he pretend
to feel more or less or something other than what he does feel; and
what he feels he should be able to indicate, and even, to some extent,
account for. Finally, he must have the power of infecting others with
his own enthusiasm. Anyone who possesses these qualities and can do
these things I call a good critic.

"And what about discrimination?" says someone. "What about the very
meaning of the word?" Certainly the power of discriminating between
artists, that of discriminating between the parts and qualities of a
work of art, and the still different power of discriminating between
one's own reactions, are important instruments of criticism; but they
are not the only ones, nor, I believe, are they indispensable. At any
rate, if the proper end of criticism be the fullest appreciation of art,
if the function of a critic be the stimulation of the reader's power of
comprehending and enjoying, all means to that end must be good. The
rest of this essay will be devoted to a consideration of the means most
commonly employed.

Discriminating critics, as opposed to those other two great classes--the
Impressionistic and the Biographical--are peculiar in this amongst other
things: they alone extract light from refuse and deal profitably with
bad art. I am not going back on my axiom--the proper end of criticism is
appreciation: but I must observe that one means of stimulating a taste
for what is most excellent is an elaborate dissection of what is not. I
remember walking with an eminent contributor to _The New Republic_ and a
lady who admired so intemperately the writings of Rupert Brooke that
our companion was at last provoked into analyzing them with magisterial
severity. He concluded by observing that a comparison of the more airy
and fantastic productions of this gallant young author with the poems of
Andrew Marvell would have the instant effect of putting the former in
their place. The lady took the hint; and has since confessed that never
before had she so clearly seen or thoroughly enjoyed the peculiar
beauties, the sweetness, the artful simplicity and sly whimsicality of
the most enchanting of English poets. The discriminating critic is not
afraid of classifying artists and putting them in their places. Analysis
is one of his most precious instruments. He will pose the question--"Why
is Milton a great poet?"--and will proceed to disengage certain definite
qualities the existence of which can be proved by demonstration and
handled objectively with almost scientific precision. This sort of
criticism was brought to perfection in the eighteenth century; and
certainly it did sometimes lead critics quite out of sight and reach of
the living spirit of poetry. It was responsible for masses of amazing
obtuseness (especially in criticism of the visual arts); it was the
frequent cause of downright silliness; it made it possible for Dr.
Johnson, commenting on the line _Time and the hour runs through the
roughest day_, to "suppose every reader is disgusted at the tautology";
but it performed the immense service of stimulating enthusiasm for clear
thought and exact expression. These discriminating and objective critics
will always be particularly useful to those whose intellects dominate
their emotions, and who need some sort of intellectual jolt to set
their aesthetic sensibilities going. Happily, the race shows no signs of
becoming extinct, and Sir Walter Raleigh and M. Lanson are the by no
means unworthy successors of Dr. Johnson and Saint-Evremond.

It is inexact to say that the nineteenth century invented impressionist
criticism, the nineteenth century invented nothing except the electric
light and Queen Victoria. But it was in the later years of that century
that Impressionism became self-conscious and pompous enough to array
itself in a theory. The method everyone knows: the critic clears his
mind of general ideas, of canons of art, and, so far as possible, of all
knowledge of good and evil; he gets what emotions he can from the work
before him, and then confides them to the public. [U] He does not attempt
to criticize in the literal sense of the word; he merely tells us what a
book, a picture, or a piece of music makes him feel. This method can
be intensely exciting; what is more, it has made vast additions to our
aesthetic experience. It is the instrument that goes deepest: sometimes
it goes too deep, passes clean through the object of contemplation, and
brings up from the writer's own consciousness something for which in the
work itself no answerable provocation is to be found. This leads, of
course, to disappointment and vexation, or else to common dishonesty,
and can add nothing to the reader's appreciation. On the other hand,
there are in some works of art subtleties and adumbrations hardly to
be disentangled by any other means. In much of the best modern
poetry--since Dante and Chaucer, I mean--there are beauties which
would rarely have been apprehended had not someone, throwing the whole
apparatus of objective criticism aside, vividly described, not the
beauties themselves, but what they made him feel. And I will go so far
as to admit that in a work of art there may be qualities, significant
and precious, but so recondite and elusive that we shall hardly grasp
them unless some adventurer, guided by his own experience, can trace
their progress and show us their roots in the mind from which they

[Footnote U: Happily, I have never laid great claims to that prevalent
modern virtue, originality; otherwise, I might have been somewhat dashed
by coming across the following passage, only the other day, in the
miscellaneous writings of Gibbon (_de mes lectures Oct_. 3, 1762): "Till
now (says he) I was acquainted only with two ways of criticising a
beautiful passage: the one, to shew, by an exact anatomy of it, the
distinct beauties of it, and whence they sprung; the other, an idle
exclamation, or a general encomium which leaves nothing behind it.
Longinus has shown me that there is a third. He tells me his own
feelings upon reading it; and tells them with such energy that he
communicates them."]

Impressionistic criticism of literature is not much approved nowadays,
though Mr. Arthur Symonds and one or two of his contemporaries still
preserve it from the last outrages of a new and possibly less subtle
generation, while M. Proust, by using it to fine effect in his
extraordinary masterpiece, may even bring it again into fashion. But
it has got a bad name by keeping low company; for it has come to be
associated with those journalistic reviewers who describe, not the
feelings and ideas provoked in them by reading a book, but what they
thought and felt and did at or about the time they were supposed to be
reading it. These are the chatterboxes who will tell you how they got
up, cut themselves shaving, ate sausages, spilt the tea, and nearly
missed the train in which they began to read the latest work of
Benedetto Croce, which, unluckily, having got into conversation with
a pretty typist or a humorous bagman, they quite forgot, left in
the carriage, and so can tell you no more about. But this is not
Impressionism, it is mere vulgarity.

If in literary criticism the impressionist method is falling into
disfavour, in the criticism of music and painting it holds the field.
Nor is this surprising: to write objectively about a symphony or a
picture, to seize its peculiar intrinsic qualities and describe them
exactly in words, is a feat beyond the power of most. Wherefore, as
a rule, the unfortunate critic must either discourse on history,
archaeology, and psychology, or chatter about his own feelings. With the
exception of Mr. Roger Fry there is not in England one critic capable of
saying so much, to the purpose, about the intrinsic qualities of a work
of visual art as half a dozen or more--Sir Walter Raleigh, Mr. Murry,
Mr. Squire, Mr. Clutton Brock, Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, and Mr.
McCarthy to begin with--can be trusted to say easily, and, if necessary,
weekly, about the intrinsic qualities of a book. To be sure, Mr. Fry is
a great exception: with my own ears have I heard him take two or three
normally intelligent people through a gallery and by severely objective
means provoke in them a perfect frenzy of enthusiasm for masterpieces of
utterly different schools and ages. Doubtless that is what art-criticism
should be; but perhaps it is wrong to despise utterly those who achieve
something less.

Just at present it is the thing to laugh at biographical and historical
critics, a class of which Sainte-Beuve is the obvious representative,
and to which belong such writers as Taine and Francesco de Sanctis and
all who try to explain works of art by describing their social and
political circumstances. "At any rate," it is said, "these are not
_critics_." I shall not quarrel over words; but I am persuaded that,
when they care genuinely for books and have a gift of exposition, these
perform the same function as their more aesthetically-minded brethren. I
am sure that a _causerie_ by Sainte-Beuve often sends a reader, with
a zest he had never found unaided, to a book he had never opened
unadvised. There are plenty of men and women, equipped to relish the
finest and subtlest things in literature, who can hardly come at a book
save through its author, or at an author save through the story of his
life and a picture of his surroundings; wherefore, few things do more to
promote and disseminate a taste for art and letters and, I will add, for
all things of the spirit, than biographical and historical criticism and
the discussion of tendencies and ideas.

And this brings me to my conclusion. Though the immediate object of
criticism is to put readers in the way of appreciating fully a work or
works in the merit of which the critic believes, its ultimate value lies
further afield in more general effects. Good criticism not only puts
people in the way of appreciating particular works; it makes them feel,
it makes them remember, what intense and surprising pleasures are
peculiar to the life of the spirit. For these it creates an appetite,
and keeps that appetite sharp: and I would seriously advise anyone who
complains that his taste for reading has deserted him to take a dip into
the great critics and biographers and see whether they will not send him
back to his books. For, though books, pictures, and music stand charged
with a mysterious power of delighting and exciting and enhancing the
value of life; though they are the keys that unlock the door to the
world of the spirit--the world that is best worth living in--busy men
and women soon forget. It is for critics to be ever jogging their
memories. Theirs it is to point the road and hold open the unlocked
doors. In that way they become officers in the kingdom of the mind, or,
to use a humbler and preferable term, essential instruments of culture.


Friesz is a painter who has "come on" visibly since the war. He has
drawn right away from "the field" to join those leaders--Matisse,
Picasso, Derain, Bonnard, shall we say, with one or two more in close
attendance--a cursory glance at whom, as they flash by, provokes this
not unprofitable exclamation: "How different they are!" Apparently,
amongst the chiefs, that famous movement no longer counts for much. Look
at them; to an eye at all practised these artists are as unlike each
other as are hounds to the eye of a huntsman. Certainly, they all owe
something to Cezanne: but what other important characteristic have they
in common which they do not share with the best of the last hundred
years? It was ever thus: the best, who are all alike in some ways, in
others are, from the first, the most sharply differentiated simply
because they are the most personal. Also, as they mature they become
more and more peculiar because they tend to rely less and less on
anything but themselves and the grand tradition. Each creates and
inhabits a world of his own, which, by the way, he is apt to mistake for
the world of everyone who is not maliciously prejudiced against him. And
Friesz, whose character and intelligence are utterly unlike those of his
compeers, is now, naturally enough, producing work which has little in
common with that even of Matisse--

[Illustration: OTHON FRIESZ]

Matisse, to whom, not fifteen years ago, I saw a picture of his
attributed by a competent amateur who was the friend of both.

Friesz has an air of being more professional than any other artist of
this first rank--for Marchand, I think, is not quite of it. Indeed,
for a moment, Friesz may appear alarmingly professional. Certainly, he
leaves nothing to chance: all is planned, and planned not in haste and
agitation, fingers itching to be at it, but with the deliberation, the
critical thoroughness, of an engineer or an architect. There is so much
of the painstaking craftsman in his method that for a moment you may
overlook the sensitive artist who conceives and executes. But, in fact,
the effective alliance of practical intelligence with fine sensibility
is the secret of his strength, as I realized one day, when I had the
privilege of studying a large decoration (a sketch for a fragment of
which is to be seen in this exhibition) [V] which Friesz had just carried
out. Since then I have not doubted that he was the man who might give
this age that of which the age talks much and gets little--monumental

[Footnote V: At the Independent Gallery, 1921.]

Large decorative schemes--when they are not, what most are, mere wastes
of tumid pomposity--are apt to fail for one of two reasons: either they
are too much like pictures or too little like works of art. Because very
few artists are capable by taking thought of adapting their means to an
unfamiliar end, it will happen that a sensitive and gifted painter sets
about a decoration as though he were beginning an easel picture. He has
his sense of the importance of richness, of filling a picture to the
brim; he has a technique adequate to his conception; but he has neither
the practical readiness nor the intellectual robustness which would
enable him to adjust these to a new problem. He endeavours, therefore,
to key every part of his scheme up to the highest pitch of intensity
that line and colour can bear. He is attempting the impossible; his
conception is inappropriate; and, in any case, his technique is unequal
to so vast an undertaking. He produces something which may be delicious
in detail but is pretty sure to be unsatisfactory as a whole. He fails
to fill his space. His work has the vice of Sidney's _Arcadia_ and the
_Religio Medici_: it is good to dip into. You cannot write an epic as
though it were a sonnet.

On the other hand, you must not write an epic as though you were telling
a tale in the bar-parlour, lest you should create another _Earthly
Paradise_, leaving quite untouched the subtler and more energetic chords
in your listener's appreciative faculty. The craftsman decorator, though
he may know how to fill vast spaces, will never fill them with lively
images. His plan may be cleverly devised to surmount difficulties of
structure and material; it will not be inspired. Incapable of keying
his instrument too high, he will be satisfied with a slack string and
abominable flatness. His forms will be conventional; his handling
impersonal; ten to one he will give us a row of insipid Gothic figures
or something in the pseudo-Veronese taste.

Almost everyone would admit that, considered as pictures, those great
decorations in the Doges' Palace were a little empty; no one can deny
that as parts of a vast scheme they are superbly adequate. Very much the
same might be said of the decorations I have in mind. It is clear that
Friesz plotted and reasoned with himself until he had contrived a method
of matching means with ends. By constructing it out of forms less
charged, more fluent, and more in the nature of arabesques than those
he habitually employs he gave to his scheme continuity and easy
comprehensibility: but never did he allow those forms to subside into
mere coloured spaces, or the lines to become mere flourishes: always
every detail was doing something, and so the whole was significant and
alive. The scheme which was planned with caution was carried through
with passion.

Now, obviously, a painter capable of performing this feat must possess a
rare, at this moment possibly unique, gift. Friesz is one who can bring
the whole weight of his intellect to bear on his sensibility. That
sensibility let no one underrate. Before his vision of the external
world, especially before what we are pleased to call Nature, Friesz has


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