Month: May 2010
The Van Eycks, Memling, Van der Weyden were the most perfectly trained, the most comprehensively competent, and the most conscientiously laborious artists ever known; also they understood drawing, composition, and lighting as no others ever did, while their sense of beauty of colour, either in itself or in subtle and splendid combinations, was unique. There never was a school of such consummate craftsmanship as this of Flanders. They were not portents, sudden meteors shooting across a dark sky, they simply continued and developed a long and glorious tradition.
Long before them the monasteries had been producing great art of every kind–frescos, illuminations, stained glass, embroidery, painted sculpture –and it was all art of the greatest. When Hubert painted the Adoration of the Lamb, he merely gathered together all these arts and manifested his enormous and astounding synthesis in concentrated form, and better than any one had ever done before. All the intricate delicacy of jewel work, all the vivacity of clean-cut sculpture, all the suavity of silken needlework, all the flaming splendour of stained glass are brought together here in one astonishing combination, and to this era-making synthesis is added the living light and the human appeal of the poignant beauty of the world, and the transcendent magic of the supernatural, sacramentally and visibly set forth.
Van Eycks did not invent oil painting, if by the phrase is meant the oil painting of the nineteenth century. This, the use of mechanically ground pigments already mixed with an oil medium, is a trick hardly more than a century old, and is a time-saving device for the obtaining (which it does not succeed in doing), at the least expenditure of time and thought, of the effects originally produced by the old method that held from the time of Hubert Van Eyck down to that of Sir Joshua Reynolds. This old method consisted in dividing the work of a painter into three stages–drawing, modelling, colouring–each of which had to be done laboriously and to perfection.
After the picture had been drawn completely and in every detail it was modelled in a thick underpainting of impasto with its varied reliefs and textures, and then the colour was applied; successive coats of transparent pigment, one imposed on the other, each being allowed to dry before the next was put on. The result was, amongst other things, that depth, resonance, and transparency of colour that mark the great painting of the past and are absolutely unobtainable by the use of the opaque and muddy pigments squeezed out of collapsible tubes. In this earlier method there was no short road to success; a painter could not sweep in his broad masses of paint with a few masterly strokes, masking his lack of proficiency in drawing by daring and theatrical brush work, and making amends for his opaque and unbeautiful colour by a stunning exhibition of a delusive chiarooscuro.
Everything was built up laboriously and conscientiously; it was consummate craftsmanship, with much in common with stained glass, orféverie, and even with architecture. No wonder a painter’s training frequently began with a goldsmith; it demanded the most exquisite and conscientious craft and there was no substitute that a public trained in eye and quick in appreciation could be induced to accept. Temperament was no excuse for incapacity; daring brush work made no amends for lack of competence; for once painting was on a par with the other arts, and a painter was as much a master of craft, and as rigidly held to its highest standards, as a musician or a master builder.
Of course there always had been fresco-painting, and here the method was quite different, for the colour had to be applied swiftly and once for all to the wet plaster. Here the technique was direct and instantaneous, quite unlike that of panel painting, and though it was no more adaptable to the vagaries of temperamental expression, it opened up new possibilities of which painters were always trying to take advantage. Giotto himself, being the greatest master of this particular mode, was always working along these lines, and later Velasquez combined them with the possibilities inherent in the development of underpainting as a thing final in itself, without the laborious and studied glazing of successive coats of pure colour.
The history, the principles, the motives, the methods of that mode of art which expresses itself in pictorial form are involved in more error and misrepresentation than happens in the case of any of its allies. For this the nineteenth century, and particularly the Teutonic nineteenth century, with its inability to understand art in any form save that of music, is chiefly responsible.
Every effort has been made to isolate it as an independent form of art, to confine it to “easel painting” on panel or canvas, or to wall decorations conceived after the same fashion and on the same lines, to reduce it to certain schools and individuals and localities; in a word, to make it a highly specialised form of personal expression, like lyric poetry or theological heresy. This is to miss its essential character and deny its primary function.
Painting is the use of colour and the composition of lines and forms for sheer joy in this particular kind of beauty; for the honouring of the most honourable things; for the stimulating of high and fine human emotion; for the symbolical (and therefore sacramental) expression of spiritual adventures and experiences that so far transcend the limitations of the material that they are not susceptible of intellectual manifestation. Painting is primarily and in its highest estate an ally and an aid of architecture, as are also sculpture and (in a less intimate degree) music, poetry, and the drama, all working together for the building up, under the inspiration of religion, of a great stimulus and a great expression.
As a thing by itself it fails of half its power, but, like all the arts, it can be used in this way, though indifferently and only within certain limitations. To say, therefore, that painting as an art began with Giotto or Cimabue or Duccio, is absurd; there was great painting long before them, and some of it reached heights even they could not attain. Of course most of it is gone, vanishing with the destroyed or remodelled buildings, where it worked intimately with architecture, scraped off by “restorers,” whitewashed by iconoclasts, done over by easel painters, so it is hard to judge it justly, but a few fragments remain in France and Italy that give some idea of its original power and beauty.
Similarly, illumination is not a handicraft or an industrial art; it was frequently great art of a very distinguished quality, and so was the painting of carving and sculpture, an art not disdained by the Van Eycks themselves. From the earliest beginnings of the Middle Ages there was great painting, and the Duccios and Massaccios and Memlings only added to it certain different, and not always admirable, qualities, while devising novel methods that made possible novel modes of expression.
Gaul, as a whole, began to participate in antique civilisation under the Roman rule. A highly centralised administration united the provinces which extended from the Rhine to the Pyrenees, from the ocean to the Alps, imposing a common existence and a common culture upon them. When one travels along a Roman road it is very easy to understand how the dwellers in these regions were sensible of a distant solidarity. Their roads, even when disused, are not obliterated; they still indicate the ancient route across fields. Stretching in purposeful rigidity from point to point, regardless of mountains and valleys, they bore the legions to the frontier, and carried the will of Rome into the interior.
Every halting-place along them was the nucleus of a future city of France. At the cross-roads we shall find the active centres of Roman art. A network of more natural and less geometrical highways, corresponding to the local geology, was related to this vast system of main roads. And yet the extremities, from Arles to Cologne, from Lyons to Saintes, felt that they were members of one body. Thus the solid causeways, built for eternity, were the channels of human intercourse during the Middle Ages; they transported pilgrims and merchants to sanctuaries and fairs respectively. From Burgundy to Provence, from Tours to Roncevaux, they maintained uninterrupted communication, even when these provinces were no longer united by Roman centralisation.
The conquerors brought their Latin habits with them; buildings akin to those of Italy rose in the cities where they established themselves; an official art, easily imposed on a country innocent of architecture, and immune from all local influence, manifested its identity at Narbonne, Bordeaux, and Reims: it was an urban and utilitarian art, created for the enjoyment of great cities. After the decay of Marseilles, Narbonne and Fréjus rose to importance, and close at hand, Orange and Nîmes, whose ancient monuments are among the finest in the world.
Arles, the Rome of Gaul, began her glorious existence as a capital, a city of luxury, art, and pleasure. But this municipal clvilisation soon outgrew Provence. Municipalities raised triumphal arches dedicated to emperors; Trèves, Reims, Besançon, Langres and Saintes have preserved these proud structures. Towns of second and third rate importance had their amphitheatres; the more wealthy among them boasted thermae. Temples were no doubt numerous; they disappeared to furnish columns for the new basilicas of youthful Christianity.
Around the great cities rose the rich villas of the Gallic aristocracy, and beyond these a vague population, the Pagani, long recalcitrant to Latinism and subsequently to Christianity. Roman culture had penetrated only into the towns; but monkish hosts ploughed the fallows of the countryside; after the municipal art of the Gallo- Romans came the rural art of the Romanesque epoch.
In the Salon of 1822, Eugene Delacroix ( 1798-1863), exhibited a scene from the Divine Comedy. But there was nothing in this livid vision of Virgil and Dante in Hell very surprising to a public familiar with Caravaggio, and the Raft of the Medusa. It was not until two years later, before the Massacre of Scio, that the critics inveighed against the “massacre of painting” Delacroix had, in fact, transformed his pictorial language in the interval; inspired by the English landscape painters he had loaded his palette with brilliant colours and illumined Gros’ robust impasto with the glint of Oriental tissues and the marble tints of putrefaction. This time, the work was frankly revolutionary; the young Romanticists rallied round Delacroix, and the struggle against the classical tradition began; no durable school resulted from it, but the consequences were such as to transform the very conception of art.
Adventures of Tintin – Blue Lotus Adventure Book Cover Drawing Illustration – Famous French Comic Character Tintin’s Album Cover Ink Drawings with Color Framed Art Prints – Herge’s Tintin Books Covers Illustrations Prints – Old Classic French Comic – Caricature – Comic Hero Character Tintin’s Adventures Framed Prints – 20th Century European Comic Book Hero Tintin’s Ink Drawings by Herge – Vintage European Graphic Novel – Comic – Caricature Book Characters Artworks
Abstract art has never stopped adding to its range and means of expression, never faltered in its search for greater depth. The critics’ ignorance and the public’s sophisticated grumbling were unable to prevent it from branching out into the remotest corners of the western world, where it has won over intelligent collectors and gained a hold, even a considerable hold, in civic museums and galleries.
Modern Decorative Wall Art – Contemporary Abstract Masterpieces – Abstract Trees and the Lake Canvas Art Print – Art Decor Wall Decoration – Abstract Landscape Art Stretched Canvas Print – Red and Green Tones Minimalist Nature Abstract Artworks – Minimalist Modern Expressionist Abstract Landsape Painting Canvas Print
Abstract Flowers Art Painting Stretched Canvas Print – Abstract Landscape and Flora Artworks – Contemporary Minimalist Abstract Floral Art Stretched Canvas Print – From Original Canvas Painting by Cheri Blum
Cézanne was the boldest spirit in the circle of the Ecole de Batignolles that gathered round Manet. The essential principle among all of them was not color–this varied in every case–but flat painting as opposed to modelling in paint. In this Cézanne surpassed even the leader of the group. We may take it for granted that in periods of evolution the matter round which the efforts of all revolve will be fermenting at the same moment in individual minds, and that he who is most articulate will become the leader of the rest.
For this position Cézanne was in no sense fitted. He was a very reserved person; of the younger generation none ever saw him; artists who owe him everything never exchanged a word with him. His very existence has been doubted. Since his sojourn with Dr. Gachet he has never, as far as I know, left the South of France. He lives, I have heard, at Aix. Gachet describes him as the exact antithesis of Van Gogh, utterly incapable of formulating his purposes, absolutely unconscious, a bundle of instincts, which he was anxious not to dissipate.
Manet and his friends had two great harbingers–Delacroix and Courbet. Manet, indeed, had yet another of an earlier period, to whom I should have devoted a chapter here, had not others already written of him inimitably. This was Francesco Goya.
None of the colourists of Manet’s generation made men forget the colourist Delacroix; everything, or nearly everything, that tends to their glory increases his fame; he was their god. Delacroix’ colour had come too early for the weakness of humanity. When the trappings of Romanticism were cleared away, his palette was thrown aside as one of its accessories. After the strong and healthy recognition of reality by the great landscape school of 1830 and the realism of the school of Courbet, painters were impelled to get at a right distance from Nature; this was the logical way between the two manifestations that had come to an end.