FINE ARTS, the name given to a whole group of human activities, which have for their result what is collectively known as Fine Art. The arts which constitute the group are the five greater arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry, with a number of minor or subsidiary arts, of which dancing and the drama are among the most ancient and universal. In antiquity the fine arts were not explicitly named, nor even distinctly recognized, as a separate class. In other modern languages besides English they are called by the equivalent name of the beautiful arts (belle arti, beaux arts, schöne Künste). The fine or beautiful arts then, it is usually said, are those among the arts of man which minister, not primarily to his material necessities or conveniences, but to his love of beauty; and if any art fulfils both these purposes at once, still as fulfilling the latter only is it called a fine art. Thus architecture, in so far as it provides shelter and accommodation, is one of the useful or mechanical arts, and one of the fine arts only in so far as its structures impress or give pleasure by the aspect of strength, fitness, harmony and proportion of parts, by disposition and contrast of light and shade, by colour and enrichment, by variety and relation of contours, surfaces and intervals. But this, the commonly accepted account of the matter, does not really cover the ground. The idea conveyed by the words "love of beauty," even stretched to its widest, can hardly be made to include the love of caricature and the grotesque; and these are admittedly modes of fine art. Even the terrible, the painful, the squalid, the degraded, in a word every variety of the significant, can be so handled and interpreted as to be brought within the province of fine art. A juster and more inclusive, although clumsier, account of the matter might put it that the fine arts are those among the arts of man which spring from his impulse to do or make certain things in certain ways for the sake, first, of a special kind of pleasure, independent of direct utility, which it gives him so to do or make them, and next for the sake of the kindred pleasure which he derives from witnessing or contemplating them when they are so done or made by others.
The nature of this impulse, and the several grounds of these pleasures, are subjects which have given rise to a formidable body of speculation and discussion, the chief phases of which will be found summarized under the heading Aesthetics. In the present article we have only to attend to the concrete processes and results of the artistic activities of man; in other words, we shall submit (1) a definition of fine art in general, (2) a definition and classification of the principal fine arts severally, (3) some observations on their historical development.
I. Of Fine Art in General.
According to the popular and established distinction between art and nature, the idea of Art (q.v.) only includes phenomena of which man is deliberately the cause; while the idea of Nature includes all phenomena, both in man and in the world outside him, which take place without forethought or studied initiative of his own. Art, accordingly, means every regulated operation or dexterity whereby we pursue ends which we know beforehand; and it means nothing but such operations and dexterities. What is true of art generally is of course also true of the special group of the fine arts. One of the essential qualities of all art is premeditation; and when Shelley talks of the skylark's profuse strains of "unpremeditated art," he in effect lays emphasis on the fact that it is only by a metaphor that he uses the word art in this case at all; he calls attention to that which (if the songs of birds are as instinctive as we suppose) precisely makes the difference between the skylark's outpourings and his own. We are slow to allow the title of fine art to natural eloquence, to charm or dignity of manner, to delicacy and tact in social intercourse, and other such graces of life and conduct, since, although in any given case they may have been deliberately cultivated in early life, or even through ancestral generations, they do not produce their full effect until they are so ingrained as to have become unreflecting and spontaneous. When the exigencies of a philosophic scheme lead some writers on aesthetics to include such acts or traits of beautiful and expressive behaviour among the deliberate artistic activities of mankind, we feel that an essential distinction is being sacrificed to the exigencies of a system. That distinction common parlance very justly observes, with its opposition of "art" to "nature" and its phrase of "second nature" for those graces which have become so habitual as to seem instinctive, whether originally the result of discipline or not. When we see a person in all whose ordinary movements there are freedom and beauty, we put down the charm of these with good reason to inherited and inbred aptitudes of which the person has never thought or long since ceased to think, and could not still be thinking without spoiling the charm by self-consciousness; and we call the result a gift of nature. But when we go on to notice that the same person is beautifully and appropriately dressed, since we know that it is impossible to dress without thinking of it, we put down the charm of this to judicious forethought and calculation and call the result a work of art.
The active and the passive pleasures of fine art
The processes then of fine art, like those of all arts properly so called, are premeditated, and the property of every fine art is to give to the person exercising it a special kind of active pleasure, and a special kind of passive or receptive pleasure to the person witnessing the results of such exercise. This latter statement seems to imply that there exist in human societies a separate class producing works of fine art and another class enjoying them. Such an implication, in regard to advanced societies, is near enough the truth to be theoretically admitted (like the analogous assumption in political economy that there exist separate classes of producers and consumers). In developed communities the gifts and calling of the artist constitute in fact a separate profession of the creators or purveyors of fine art, while the rest of the community are its enjoyers or recipients. In the most primitive societies, apparently, this cannot have been so, and we can go back to an original or rudimentary stage of almost every fine art at which the separation between a class of producers or performers and a class of recipients hardly exists. Such an original or rudimentary stage of the dramatic art is presented by children, who will occupy themselves for ever with mimicry and make-believe for their own satisfaction, with small regard or none to the presence or absence of witnesses. The original or rudimentary type of the profession of imitative sculptors or painters is the cave-dweller of prehistoric ages, who, when he rested from his day's hunting, first took up the bone handle of his weapon, and with a flint either carved it into the shape, or on its surface scratched the outlines, of the animals of the chase. The original or rudimentary type of the architect, considered not as a mere builder but as an artist, is the savage who, when his tribe had taken to live in tents or huts instead of caves, first arranged the skins and timbers of his tent or hut in one way because it pleased his eye, rather than in some other way which was as good for shelter. The original type of the artificer or adorner of implements, considered in the same light, was the other savage who first took it into his head to fashion his club or spear in one way rather than another for the pleasure of the eye only and not for any practical reason, and to ornament it with tufts or markings. In none of these cases, it would seem, can the primitive artist have had much reason for pleasing anybody but himself. Again, the original or rudimentary type of lyric song and dancing arose when the first reveller clapped hands and stamped or shouted in time, in honour of his god, in commemoration of a victory, or in mere obedience to the blind stirring of a rhythmic impulse within him. To some very remote and solitary ancestral savage the presence or absence of witnesses at such a display may in like manner have been indifferent; but very early in the history of the race the primitive dancer and singer joined hands and voices with others of his tribe, while others again sat apart and looked on at the performance, and the rite thus became both choral and social. A primitive type of the instrumental musician is the shepherd who first notched a reed and drew sounds from it while his sheep were cropping. The father of all artists in dress and personal adornment was the first wild man who tattooed himself or bedecked himself with shells and plumes. In both of these latter instances, it may be taken as certain, the primitive artist had the motive of pleasing not himself only, but his mate, or the female whom he desired to be his mate, and in the last instance of all the further motive of impressing his fellow-tribesmen and striking awe or envy into his enemies. The tendency of recent speculation and research concerning the origins of art has been to ascribe the primitive artistic activities of man less and less to individual and solitary impulse, and more and more to social impulse and the desire of sharing and communicating pleasure. (The writer who has gone furthest in developing this view, and on grounds of the most careful study of evidence, has been Dr Yrjö Hirn of Helsingfors.) Whatever relative parts the individual and the social impulses may have in fact played at the outset, it is clear that what any one can enjoy or admire by himself, whether in the way of mimicry, of rhythmical movements or utterances, of imitative or ornamental carving and drawing, of the disposition and adornment of dwelling-places and utensils - the same things, it is clear, others are able also to enjoy or admire with him. And so, with the growth of societies, it came about that one class of persons separated themselves and became the ministers or producers of this kind of pleasures, while the rest became the persons ministered to, the participators in or recipients of the pleasures. Artists are those members of a society who are so constituted as to feel more acutely than the rest certain classes of pleasures which all can feel in their degree. By this fact of their constitution they are impelled to devote their active powers to the production of such pleasures, to the making or doing of some of those things which they enjoy so keenly when they are made and done by others. At the same time the artist does not, by assuming these ministering or creative functions, surrender his enjoying or receptive functions. He continues to participate in the pleasures of which he is himself the cause, and remains a conscious member of his own public. The architect, sculptor, painter, are able respectively to stand off from and appreciate the results of their own labours; the singer enjoys the sound of his own voice, and the musician of his own instrument; the poet, according to his temperament, furnishes the most enthusiastic or the most fastidious reader for his own stanzas. Neither, on the other hand, does the person who is a habitual recipient from others of the pleasures of fine art forfeit the privilege of producing them according to his capabilities, and of becoming, if he has the power, an amateur or occasional artist.
Pleasures of fine art disinterested
Most of the common properties which have been recognized by consent as peculiar to the group of fine arts will be found on examination to be implied in, or deducible from, the one fundamental character generally claimed for them, namely, that they exist independently of direct practical necessity or utility. Let us take, first, a point relating to the frame of mind of the recipient, as distinguished from the producer, of the pleasures of fine art. It is an observation as old as Aristotle that such pleasures differ from most other pleasures of experience in that they are disinterested, in the sense that they are not such as nourish a man's body nor add to his riches; they are not such as can gratify him, when he receives them, by the sense of advantage or superiority over his fellow-creatures; they are not such as one human being can in any sense receive exclusively from the object which bestows them. Thus it is evidently characteristic of a beautiful building that its beauty cannot be monopolized, but can be seen and admired by the inhabitants of a whole city and by all visitors for all generations. The same thing is true of a picture or a statue, except in so far as an individual possessor may choose to keep such a possession to himself, in which case his pride in exclusive ownership is a sentiment wholly independent of his pleasure in artistic contemplation. Similarly, music is composed to be sung or played for the enjoyment of many at a time, and for such enjoyment a hundred years hence as much as to-day. Poetry is written to be read by all readers for ever who care for the ideas and feelings of the poet, and can apprehend the meaning and melody of his language. Hence, though we can speak of a class of the producers of fine art, we cannot speak of a class of its consumers, only of its recipients or enjoyers. If we consider other pleasures which might seem to be analogous to those of fine art, but to which common consent yet declines to allow that character, we shall see that one reason is that such pleasures are not in their nature thus disinterested. Thus the sense of smell and taste have pleasures of their own like the senses of sight and hearing, and pleasures neither less poignant nor very much less capable of fine graduation and discrimination than those. Why, then, is the title of fine art not claimed for any skill in arranging and combining them? Why are there no recognized arts of savours and scents corresponding in rank to the arts of forms, colours and sounds - or at least none among Western nations, for in Japan, it seems, there is a recognized and finely regulated social art of the combination and succession of perfumes? An answer commonly given is that sight and hearing are intellectual and therefore higher senses, that through them we have our avenues to all knowledge and all ideas of things outside us; while taste and smell are unintellectual and therefore lower senses, through which few such impressions find their way to us as help to build up our knowledge and our ideas. Perhaps a more satisfactory reason why there are no fine arts of taste and smell - or let us in deference to Japanese modes leave out smell, and say of taste only - is this, that savours yield only private pleasures, which it is not possible to build up into separate and durable schemes such that every one may have the benefit of them, and such as cannot be monopolized or used up. If against this it is contended that what the programme of a performance is in the musical art, the same is a menu in the culinary, and that practically it is no less possible to serve up a thousand times and to a thousand different companies the same dinner than the same symphony, we must fall back upon that still more fundamental form of the distinction between the aesthetic and non-aesthetic bodily senses, upon which the physiological psychologists of the English school lay stress. We must say that the pleasures of taste cannot be pleasures of fine art, because their enjoyment is too closely associated with the most indispensable and the most strictly personal of utilities, eating and drinking. To pass from these lower pleasures to the highest; consider the nature of the delight derived from the contemplation, by the person who is their object, of the signs and manifestations of love. That at least is a beautiful experience; why is the pleasure which it affords not an artistic pleasure either? Why, in order to receive an artistic pleasure from human signs and manifestations of this kind, are we compelled to go to the theatre and see them exhibited in favour of a third person who is not really their object any more than ourselves? This is so, for one reason, evidently, because of the difference between art and nature. Not to art, but to nature and life, belongs love where it is really felt, with its attendant train of vivid hopes, fears, passions and contingencies. To art belongs love displayed where it is not really felt; and in this Sphere, along with reality and spontaneousness of the display, and along with its momentous bearings, there disappear all those elements of pleasure in its contemplation which are not disinterested - the elements of personal exultation and self-congratulation, the pride of exclusive possession or acceptance, all these emotions, in short, which are summed up in the lover's triumphant monosyllable, "Mine." Thus, from the lowest point of the scale to the highest, we may observe that the element of personal advantage or monopoly in human gratifications seems to exclude, them from the kingdom of fine art. The pleasures of fine art, so far as concerns their passive or receptive part, seem to define themselves as pleasures of gratified contemplation, but of such contemplation only when it is disinterested - which is simply another way of saying, when it is unconcerned with ideas of utility.
An objection and its answer
Modern speculation has tended in some degree to modify and obscure this old and established view of the pleasures of fine art by urging that the hearer or spectator is not after all so free from self-interest as he seems; that in the act of artistic contemplation he experiences an enhancement or expansion of his being which is in truth a gain of the egoistic kind; that in witnessing a play, for instance, a large part of his enjoyment consists in sympathetically identifying himself with the successful lover or the virtuous hero. All this may be true, but does not really affect the argument, since at the same time he is well aware that every other spectator or auditor present may be similarly engaged with himself. At most the objection only requires us to define a little more closely, and to say that the satisfactions of the ego excluded from among the pleasures of fine art are not these ideal, sympathetic, indirect satisfactions, which every one can share together, but only those which arise from direct, private and incommunicable advantage to the individual.
Fine arts cannot be practised by rule and precept
Next, let us consider another generally accepted observation concerning the nature of the fine arts, and one, this time, relating to the disposition and state of mind of the practising artist himself. While for success in other arts it is only necessary to learn their rules and to apply them until practice gives facility, in the fine arts, it is commonly and justly said, rules and their application will carry but a little way towards success. All that can depend on rules, on knowledge, and on the application of knowledge by practice, the artist must indeed acquire, and the acquisition is often very complicated and laborious. But outside of and beyond such acquisitions he must trust to what is called genius or imagination, that is, to the spontaneous working together of an incalculably complex group of faculties, reminiscences, preferences, emotions, instincts in his constitution. This characteristic of the activities of the artist is a direct consequence or corollary of the fundamental fact that the art he practices is independent of utility. A utilitarian end is necessarily a determinate and prescribed end, and to every end which is determinate and prescribed there must be one road which is the best. Skill in any useful art means knowing practically, by rules and the application of rules, the best road to the particular ends of that art. Thus the farmer, the engineer, the carpenter, the builder so far as he is not concerned with the look of his buildings, the weaver so far as he is not concerned with the designing of the patterns which he weaves, possesses each his peculiar skill, but a skill to which fixed problems are set, and which, if it indulges in new inventions and combinations at all, can indulge them only for the sake of an improved solution of those particular problems. The solution once found, the invention once made, its rules can be written down, or at any rate its practice can be imparted to others who will apply it in their turn. Whereas no man can write down, in a way that others can act upon, how Beethoven conquered unknown kingdoms in the world of harmony, or how Rembrandt turned the aspects of gloom, squalor and affliction into pictures as worthy of contemplation as those into which the Italians before him had turned the aspects of spiritual exaltation and shadowless day. The reason why the operations of the artist thus differ from the operations of the ordinary craftsman or artificer is that his ends, being ends other than useful, are not determinate nor fixed as theirs are. He has large liberty to choose his own problems, and may solve each of them in a thousand different ways according to the prompting of his own ordering or creating instincts. The musical composer has the largest liberty of all. Having learned what is learnable in his art, having mastered the complicated and laborious rules of musical form, having next determined the particular class of the work which he is about to compose, he has then before him the whole inexhaustible world of appropriate successions and combinations of emotional sound. He is merely directed and not fettered, in the case of song, cantata, oratorio or opera, by the sense of the words which he has to set. The value of the result depends absolutely on his possessing or failing to possess powers which can neither be trained in nor communicated to any man. And this double freedom, alike from practical service and from the representation of definite objects, is what makes music in a certain sense the typical fine art, or art of arts. Architecture shares one-half of this freedom. It has not to copy or represent natural objects; for this service it calls in sculpture to its aid; but architecture is without the other half of freedom altogether. The architect has a Sphere of liberty in the disposition of his masses, lines, colours, alternations of light and shadow, of plain and ornamented surface, and the rest; but upon this Sphere he can only enter on condition that he at the same time fulfils the strict practical task of supplying the required accommodation, and obeys the strict mechanical necessities imposed by the laws of weight, thrust, support, resistance and other properties of solid matter. The sculptor again, the painter, the poet, has each in like manner his Sphere of necessary facts, rules and conditions corresponding to the nature of his task. The sculptor must be intimately versed both in the surface aspects and the inner mechanism of the human frame alike in rest and motion, and in the rules and conditions for its representation in solid form; the painter in a much more extended range of natural facts and appearances, and the rules and conditions for representing them on a plane surface; the poet's art of words has its own not inconsiderable basis of positive and disciplined acquisition. So far as rules, precepts, formulas and other communicable laws or secrets can carry the artist, so far also the spectator can account for, analyse, and, so to speak, tabulate the effects of his art. But the essential character of the artist's operation, its very bloom and virtue, lies in those parts of it which fall outside this range of regulation on the one hand and analysis on the other. His merit varies according to the felicity with which he is able, in that region, to exercise his free choice and frame his individual ideal, and according to the tenacity with which he strives to grasp and realize his choice, or to attain perfection according to that ideal.
Fine arts and machinery: "art manufactures."
In this connexion the question naturally arises, In what way do the progress and expansion of mechanical art affect the power and province of fine art? The great practical movement of the world in our age is a movement for the development of mechanical inventions and multiplication of mechanical products. So far as these inventions are applied to purposes purely useful, and so far as their products to not profess to offer anything delightful to contemplation, this movement in no way concerns our argument. But there is a vast multitude of products which do profess qualities of pleasantness, and upon which the ornaments intended to make them pleasurable are bestowed by machinery; and in speaking of these we are accustomed to the phrases art-industry, industrial art, art manufactures and the like. In these cases the industry or ingenuity which directs the machine is not fine art at all, since the object of the machine is simply to multiply as easily and as perfectly as possible a definite and prescribed impress or pattern. This is equally true whether the machine is a simple one, like the engraver's press, for producing and multiplying impressions from an engraved plate, or a highly complex one, like the loom, in which elaborate patterns of carpet or curtain are set for weaving. In both cases there exists behind the mechanical industry an industry which is one of fine art in its degree. In the case of the engraver's press, there exists behind the industry of the printer the art of the engraver, which, if the engraver is also the free inventor of the design, is then a fine art, or, if he is but the interpreter of the invention of another, is then in its turn a semi-mechanical skill applied in aid of the fine art of the first inventor. In the case of the weaver's loom there is, behind the mechanical industry which directs the loom at its given task, the fine art, or what ought to be the fine art, of the designer who has contrived the pattern. In the case of the engraving, the mechanical industry of printing only exists for the sake of bringing out and disseminating abroad the fine art employed upon the design. In the case of the carpet or curtain, the fine art is often only called in to make the product of the useful or mechanical industry of the loom acceptable, since the eye of man is so constituted as to receive pleasure or the reverse of pleasure from whatever it rests upon, and it is to the interest of the manufacturer to have his product so made as to give pleasure if it can. Whether the machine is thus a humble servant to the artist, or the artist a kind of humble purveyor to the machine, the fine art in the result is due to the former alone; and in any case it reaches the recipient at second-hand, having been put in circulation by a medium not artistic but mechanical.
Perfected machines: are they works of fine art?
Again, with reference not to the application of mechanical contrivances but to their invention; is not, it may be inquired, the title of artist due to the inventor of some of the astonishingly complex and astonishingly efficient machines of modern-times? Does he not spend as much thought, labour, genius as any sculptor or musician in perfecting his construction according to his ideal, and is not the construction when it is done - so finished, so responsive in all its parts, so almost human - is not that worthy to be called a work of fine art? The answer is that the inventor has a definite and practical end before him; his ideal is not free; he deserves all credit as the perfector of a particular instrument for a prescribed function, but an artist, a free follower of the fine arts, he is not; although we may perhaps have to concede him a narrow Sphere for the play of something like an artistic sense when he contrives the proportion, arrangement, form or finish of the several parts of his machine in one way rather than another, not because they work better so but simply because their look pleases him better.
Fine arts called a kind of play
Returning from this digression, let us consider one common observation more on the nature of the fine arts. They are activities, it is said, which were put forth not because they need but because they like. They have the activity to spare, and to put it forth in this way pleases them. Fine art is to mankind what play is to the individual, a free and arbitrary vent for energy which is not needed to be spent upon tasks concerned with the conservation, perpetuation or protection of life. To insist on the superfluous or optional character of the fine arts, to call them the play or pastime of the human race as distinguished from its inevitable and sterner tasks, is obviously only to reiterate our fundamental distinction between the fine arts and the useful or necessary. But the distinction, as expressed in this particular form, has been interpreted in a great variety of ways and followed out to an infinity of conclusions, conclusions regarding both the nature of the activities themselves and the character and value of their results.
The play idea as worked out by the English associationists
For instance, starting from this saying that the aesthetic activities are a kind of play, the English psychology of association goes back to the spontaneous cries and movements of children, in which their superfluous energies find a vent. It then enumerates pleasures of which the human constitution is capable apart from direct advantage or utility. Such are the primitive or organic pleasures of sight and hearing, and the secondary or derivative pleasures of association or unconscious reminiscence and inference that soon become mixed up with these. Such are also the pleasures derived from following any kind of mimicry, or representation of things real or like reality. The association psychology describes the grouping within the mind of predilections based upon these pleasures; it shows how the growing organism learns to govern its play, or direct its superfluous energies, in obedience to such predilections, till in mature individuals, and still more in mature societies, a highly regulated and accomplished group of leisure activities are habitually employed in supplying to a not less highly cultivated group of disinterested sensibilities their appropriate artistic pleasures. It is by Herbert Spencer that this view has been most fully and systematically worked out.
Again, in the views of an ancient philosopher, Plato, and a modern poet, Schiller, the consideration that the artistic activities are in the nature of play, and the manifestations in which they result independent of realities and utilities, has led to judgments so differing as the following. Plato held that the daily realities of things in experience are not realities, indeed, but only far-off shows or reflections of the true realities, that is, of certain ideal or essential forms which can be apprehended as existing by the mind. Holding this, Plato saw in the works of fine art but the reflections of reflections, the shows of shows, and depreciated them according to their degree of remoteness from the ideal, typical or sense-transcending existences. He sets the arts of medicine, agriculture, shoemaking and the rest above the fine arts, inasmuch as they produce something serious or useful . Fine art, he says, produces nothing useful, and makes only semblances , whereas what mechanical art produces are utilities, and even in the ordinary sense realities .
In another age, and thinking according to another system, Schiller, so far from holding thus cheap the kingdom of play and show, regarded his sovereignty over that kingdom as the noblest prerogative of man. Schiller wrote his famous Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man in order to throw into popular currency, and at the same time to modify and follow up in a particular direction, certain metaphysical doctrines which had lately been launched upon the schools by Kant. The spirit of man, said Schiller after Kant, is placed between two worlds, the physical world or world of sense, and the moral world or world of will. Both of these are worlds of constraint or necessity. In the sensible world, the spirit of man submits to constraint from without; in the moral world, it imposes constraint from within. So far as man yields to the importunities of sense, in so far he is bound and passive, the subject of outward shocks and victim of irrational forces. So far as he asserts himself by the exercise of will, imposing upon sense and outward things the dominion of the moral law within him, in so far he is free and active, the rational lord of nature and not her slave. Corresponding to these two worlds, he has within him two conflicting impulses or impulsions of his nature, the one driving him towards one way of living, the other towards another. The one, or sense-impulsion (Stofftrieb), Schiller thinks of as that which enslaves the spirit of man as the victim of matter, the other or moral impulsion (Formtrieb) as that which enthrones it as the dictator of form. Between the two the conflict at first seems inveterate. The kingdom of brute nature and sense, the Sphere of man's subjection and passivity, wages war against the kingdom of will and moral law, the Sphere of his activity and control, and every conquest of the one is an encroachment upon the other. Is there, then, no hope of truce between the two kingdoms, no ground where the two contending impulses can be reconciled? Nay, the answer comes, there is such a hope; such a neutral territory there exists. Between the passive kingdom of matter and sense, where man is compelled blindly to feel and be, and the active kingdom of law and reason, where he is compelled sternly to will and act, there is a kingdom where both sense and will may have their way, and where man may give the rein to all his powers. But this middle kingdom does not lie in the Sphere of practical life and conduct. It lies in the Sphere of those activities which neither subserve any necessity of nature nor fulfil any moral duty. Towards activities of this kind we are driven by a third impulsion of our nature not less essential to it than the other two, the impulsion, as Schiller calls it, of Play (Spieltrieb). Relatively to real life and conduct, play is a kind of harmless show; it is that which we are free to do or leave undone as we please, and which lies alike outside the Sphere of needs and duties. In play we may do as we like, and no mischief will come of it. In this Sphere man may put forth all his powers without risk of conflict, and may invent activities which will give a complete ideal satisfaction to the contending faculties of sense and will at once, to the impulses which bid him feel and enjoy the shocks of physical and outward things, and the impulse which bids him master such things, control and regulate them. In play you may impose upon Matter what Form you choose, and the two will not interfere with one another or clash. The kingdom of Matter and the kingdom of Form thus harmonized, thus reconciled by the activities of play and show, will in other words be the kingdom of the Beautiful. Follow the impulsion of play, and to the beautiful you will find your road; the activities you will find yourself putting forth will be the activities of aesthetic creation - you will have discovered or invented the fine arts. "Midway" - these are Schiller's own words - "midway between the formidable kingdom of natural forces and the hallowed kingdom of moral laws, the impulse of aesthetic creation builds up a third kingdom unperceived, the gladsome kingdom of play and show, wherein it emancipates man from all compulsion alike of physical and of moral forces." Schiller, the poet and enthusiast, thus making his own application of the Kantian metaphysics, goes on to set forth how the fine arts, or activities of play and show, are for him the typical, the ideal activities of the race, since in them alone is it possible for man to put forth his whole, that is his ideal self. "Only when he plays is man really and truly man." "Man ought only to play with the beautiful, and he ought to play with the beautiful only." "Education in taste and beauty has for its object to train up in the utmost attainable harmony the whole sum of the powers both of sense and spirit." And the rest of Schiller's argument is addressed to show how the activities of artistic creation, once invented, react upon other departments of human life, how the exercise of the play impulse prepares men for an existence in which the inevitable collision of the two other impulses shall be softened or averted more and more. That harmony of the powers which clash so violently in man's primitive nature, having first been found possible in the Sphere of the fine arts, reflects itself, in his judgment, upon the whole composition of man, and attunes him, as an aesthetic being, into new capabilities for the conduct of his social existence.
The strong points of Schiller's theory
Our reasons for dwelling on this wide and enthusiastic formula of Schiller's are both its importance in the history of reflection - it remained, indeed, for nearly a century a formula almost classical - and the measure of positive value which it still retains. The notion of a Sphere of voluntary activity for the human spirit, in which, under no compulsion of necessity or conscience, we order matters as we like them apart from any practical end, seems coextensive with the widest conception of fine art and the fine arts as they exist in civilized and developed communities. It insists on and brings into the light the free or optional character of these activities, as distinguished from others to which we are compelled by necessity or duty, as well as the fact that these activities, superfluous as they may be from the points of view of necessity and of duty, spring nevertheless from an imperious and a saving instinct of our nature. It does justice to the part which is, or at any rate may be, filled in the world by pleasures which are apart from profit, and by delights for the enjoyment of which men cannot quarrel. It claims the dignity they deserve for those shows and pastimes in which we have found a way to make permanent all the transitory delights of life and nature, to turn even our griefs and yearnings, by their artistic utterance, into sources of appeasing joy, to make amends to ourselves for the confusion and imperfection of reality by conceiving and imaging forth the semblances of things clearer and more complete, since in contriving them we incorporate with the experiences we have had the better experiences we have dreamed of and longed for.
Its weak points
One manifestly weak point of Schiller's theory is that though it asserts that man ought only to play with the beautiful, and that he is his best or ideal self only when he does so, yet it does not sufficiently indicate what kinds of play are beautiful nor why we are moved to adopt them. It does not show how the delights of the eye and spirit in contemplating forms, colours and movements, of the ear and spirit in apprehending musical and verbal sounds, or of the whole mind at once in following the comprehensive current of images called up by poetry - it does not clearly show how delights like these differ from those yielded by other kinds of play or pastime, which are by common consent excluded from the Sphere of fine art.
Kinds of play which are not fine art
The chase, for instance, is a play or pastime which gives scope for any amount of premeditated skill; it has pleasures, for those who take part in it, which are in some degree analogous to the pleasures of the artist; we all know the claims made on behalf of the noble art of venerie (following true medieval precedent) by the knights and woodmen of Sir Walter Scott's romances. It is an obvious reply to say that though the chase is play to us, who in civilized communities follow it on no plea of necessity, yet to a not remote ancestry it was earnest; in primitive societies hunting does not belong to the class of optional activities at all, but is among the most pressing of utilitarian needs. But this reply loses much of its force since we have learnt how many of the fine arts, however emancipated from direct utility now, have as a matter of history been evolved out of activities primarily utilitarian. It would be more to the point to remark that the pleasures of the sportsman are the only pleasures arising from the chase; his exertions afford pain to the victim, and no satisfaction to any class of recipients but himself; or at least the sympathetic pleasures of the lookers-on at a hunt or at a battle are hardly to be counted as pleasures of artistic contemplation. The issue which they witness is a real issue; the skilled endeavours with which they sympathize are put forth for a definite practical result, and a result disastrous to one of the parties concerned.
What then, it may be asked, about athletic games and sports, which hurt nobody, have no connexion with the chase, and give pleasure to thousands of spectators? Here the difference is, that the event which excites the spectator's interest and pleasure at a race or match or athletic contest is not a wholly unreal or simulated event; it is less real than life, but it is more real than art. The contest has no momentous practical consequences, but it is a contest, an , all the same, in which competitors put forth real strength, and one really wins and others are defeated. Such a struggle, in which the exertions are real and the issue uncertain, we follow with an excitement and a suspense different in kind from the feelings with which we contemplate a fictitious representation. For example, let the reader recall the feelings with which he may have watched a real fencing bout, and compare them with those with which he watches the simulated fencing bout in Shakespeare's Hamlet. The instance is a crucial one, because in the fictitious case the excitement is heightened by the introduction of the poisoned foil, and by the tremendous consequences which we are aware will turn, in the representation, on the issue. Yet because the fencing scene in Hamlet is a representation, and not real, we find ourselves watching it in a mood quite different from that in which we watch the most ordinary real fencing-match with vizors and blunt foils; a mood more exalted, if the representation is good, but amid the aesthetic emotions of which the fluctuations of strained, if trivial, suspense and the eagerness of sympathetic participation find no place. "The delight of tragedy," says Johnson, "proceeds from our consciousness of fiction; if we thought murders and treasons real, they would please no more." So does the peculiar quality of our pleasure in watching the fencing-match in Hamlet, or the wrestling-match in As You Like It, depend on our consciousness of fiction: if we thought the matches real they might please us still, but please us in a different way. Again, of athletics in general, they are pursuits to a considerable degree definitely utilitarian, having for their specific end the training and strengthening of individual human bodies. Nevertheless, in some systems the title of fine arts has been consistently claimed, if not for athletics technically so called, and involving the idea of competition and defeat, at any rate for gymnastics, regarded simply as a display of the physical frame of man cultivated by exercise - as, for instance, it was cultivated by the ancient Greeks - to an ideal perfection of beauty and strength.
The play theory in the light of anthropological research
But apart from criticisms like these on the theory of Schiller, the Kantian doctrine of a metaphysical opposition between the senses and the reason has for most minds of to-day lost its validity, and with it falls away Schiller's derivative theory of a Stofftrieb and a Formtrieb contending like enemies for dominion over the human spirit, with a neutral or reconciling Spieltrieb standing between them. Even taking the existence of the Spieltrieb, or play-impulse, by itself as a plain and indubitable fact in human nature, the theory that this impulse is the general or universal source of the artistic activities of the race, which seemed adequate to thinkers so far apart as Schiller and Herbert Spencer, is found no longer to hold water. The tendency of recent thought and study on these subjects has been to abandon the abstract or dialectical method in favour of the methods of historical and anthropological inquiry. In the light of these methods it is claimed that the artistic activities of the race spring in point of fact from no single source but from a number of different sources. It is admitted that the play-impulse is one of these, and the allied and overlapping, but not identical, impulse of mimicry or imitation another. But it is urged at the same time that these twin impulses, rooted as they both are among the primordial faculties both of men and animals, are far from existing merely to provide a vent whereby the superfluous energies of sentient beings may discharge themselves at pleasure, but are indispensable utilitarian instincts, by which the young are led to practise and rehearse in sport those activities the exercise of which in earnest will be necessary to their preservation in the adult state. (The researches of Professor Karl Groos in this field seem to be conclusive.) A third impulse innate in man, though scarcely so primordial as the other two, and one which the animals cannot share with him, is the impulse of record or commemoration. Man instinctively desires, alike for safety, use and pleasure, to perpetuate and hand on the memory of his deeds and experiences whether by words or by works of his hands contrived for permanence. This impulse of record is the most stimulating ally of the impulse of mimicry or imitation, and perhaps a large part of the arts usually put down as springing from the love of imitation ought rather to be put down as springing from the commemorative or recording impulse, using imitation as its necessary means. Granting the existence in primitive man of these three allied impulses of play, of mimicry, and of record, it is urged that they are so many distinct though contiguous sources from which whole groups of the fine arts have sprung, and that all three in their origin served ends primarily or in great part utilitarian. Examining any of the rudimentary artistic activities of primitive man already mentioned: the decoration of the person with tattooings or strings of shells or teeth or feathers had primarily the object of attracting or impressing the opposite sex, or terrifying an enemy, or indicating the tribal relations of the person so adorned; some of the same purposes were served by the scratches and tufts and markings on weapons or utensils; the graffiti or outline drawings of animals incised by cave-dwellers on bones are surmised to have sprung in like manner from the desire of conveying information, combined, probably, sometimes with that of obtaining magic power over the things represented; the erection of memorial shrines and images of all kinds, from the rudest upwards, had among other purposes the highly practical one of propitiating the spirits of the departed; and so on through the whole range of kindred activities. It is contended, next, that such activities only take on the character of rudimentary fine arts at a certain stage of their evolution. Before they can assume that character, they must come under the influence and control of yet another rooted and imperious impulse in mankind. That is the impulse of emotional self-expression, the instinct which compels us to seek relief under the stimulus of pent-up feeling; an instinct, it is added, second only in power to those which drive us to seek food, shelter, protection from enemies, and satisfaction for-sexual desires. According to a law of our constitution, the argument goes on, this need for emotional self-expression finds itself fully satisfied only by certain modes of activity; those, namely, which either have in themselves, or impress on their products, the property of rhythm, that is, of regular interval and recurrence, flow, order and proportion. Leaping, shouting, and clapping hands is the human animal's most primitive way of seeking relief under the pressure of emotion; so soon as one such animal found out that he both expressed and relieved his emotions best, and communicated them best to his fellows, when he moved in regular rhythm and shouted in regular time and with regular changes of pitch, he ceased to be a mere excited savage and became a primitive dancer, singer, musician - in a word, artist. So soon as another found himself taking pleasure in certain qualities of regular interval, pattern and arrangement of lines, shapes, and colours, apart from all questions of purpose or utility, in his tattooings and self-adornments, his decoration of tools or weapons or structures for shelter or commemoration, he in like manner became a primitive artist in ornamental and imitative design.
The special qualities of pleasure felt and communicated by doing things in one way rather than another, independently of direct utility, which we indicated at the outset as characteristic of the whole range of the fine arts, appear on this showing to be dependent primarily on the response of our organic sensibilities of nerve and muscle, eye, ear and brain to the stimulus of rhythm, (using the word in its widest sense) imparted either to our own actions and utterances or to the works of our hands. Such pleasures would seem to have been first experienced by man directly, in the endeavour to find relief with limbs and voice from states of emotional tension, and then incidentally, as a kind of by-product arising and affording similar relief in the development of a wide range of utilitarian activities. Into the nature of those organic sensibilities, and the grounds of the relief they afford us when gratified, it is the province of physiological and psychological aesthetics to inquire: our business here is only with the activities directed towards their satisfaction and the results of those activities in the works of fine art. On the whole the account of the matter yielded by the method of anthropological research, and here very briefly summarized, may be accepted as answering more closely to the complex nature of the facts than any of the accounts hitherto current; and so we may expand our first tentative suggestion of a definition into one more complete, which from the nature of the case cannot be very brief or simple and must run somehow thus: Fine art is everything which man does or makes in one way rather than another, freely and with premeditation, in order to express and arouse emotion, in obedience to laws of rhythmic movement or utterance or regulated design, and with results independent of direct utility and capable of affording to many permanent and disinterested delight.
II. Of the Fine Arts severally.
Architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry are by common consent, as has been said at the outset, the five principal or greater fine arts practised among developed communities of men. It is possible in thought to group these five arts in as many different orders as there are among them different kinds of relation or affinity. One thinker fixes his attention upon one kind of relations as the most important, and arranges his group accordingly; another upon another; and each, when he has done so, is very prone to claim for his arrangement the virtue of being the sole essentially and fundamentally true. For example, we may ascertain one kind of relations between the arts by inquiring which is the simplest or most limited in its effects, which next simplest, which another degree less simple, which least simple or most complex of them all. This, the relation of progressive complexity or comprehensiveness between the fine arts, is the relation upon which Auguste Comte fixed his attention, and it yields in his judgment the following order: - Architecture lowest in complexity, because both of the kinds of effects which it produces and of the material conditions and limitations under which it works; sculpture next; painting third; then music; and poetry highest, as the most complex or comprehensive art of all, both in its own special effects and in its resources for ideally calling up the effects of all the other arts as well as all the phenomena of nature and experiences of life. A somewhat similar grouping was adopted, though from the consideration of a wholly different set of relations, by Hegel. Hegel fixed his attention on the varying relations borne by the idea, or spiritual element, to the embodiment of the idea, or material element, in each art. Leaving aside that part of his doctrine which concerns, not the phenomena of the arts themselves, but their place in the dialectical world-plan or scheme of the universe, Hegel said in effect something like this. In certain ages and among certain races, as in Egypt and Assyria, and again in the Gothic age of Europe, mankind has only dim ideas for art to express, ideas insufficiently disengaged and realized, of which the expression cannot be complete or lucid, but only adumbrated and imperfect; the characteristic art of those ages is a symbolic art, with its material element predominating over and keeping down its spiritual; and such a symbolic art is architecture. In other ages, as in the Greek age, the ideas of men have come to be definite, disengaged, and clear; the characteristic art of such an age will be one in which the spiritual and material elements are in equilibrium, and neither predominates over nor keeps down the other, but a thoroughly realized idea is expressed in a thoroughly adequate and lucid form; this is the mode of expression called classic, and the classic art is sculpture. In other ages, again, and such are the modern ages of Europe, the idea grows in power and becomes importunate; the spiritual and material elements are no longer in equilibrium, but the spiritual element predominates; the characteristic arts of such an age will be those in which thought, passion, sentiment, aspiration, emotion, emerge in freedom, dealing with material form as masters or declining its shackles altogether; this is the romantic mode of expression, and the romantic arts are painting, music and poetry. A later systematizer, Lotze, fixed his attention on the relative degrees of freedom or independence which the several arts enjoy - their freedom, that is, from the necessity of either imitating given facts of nature or ministering, as part of their task, to given practical uses. In his grouping, instead of the order architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, music comes first, because it has neither to imitate any natural facts nor to serve any practical end; architecture next, because, though it is tied to useful ends and material conditions, yet it is free from the task of imitation, and pleases the eye in its degree, by pure form, light and shade, and the rest, as music pleases the ear by pure sound; then, as arts all tied to the task of imitation, sculpture, painting and poetry, taken in progressive order according to the progressing comprehensiveness of their several resources.
The thinker on these subjects has, moreover, to consider the enumeration and classification of the lesser or subordinate fine arts. Whole clusters or families of these occur to the mind at once; such as dancing, an art subordinate to music, but quite different in kind; acting, an art auxiliary to poetry, from which in kind it differs no less; eloquence in all kinds, so far as it is studied and not merely spontaneous; and among the arts which fashion or dispose material objects, embroidery and the weaving of patterns, pottery, glassmaking, goldsmith's work and jewelry, joiner's work, gardening (according to the claim of some), and a score of other dexterities and industries which are more than mere dexterities and industries because they add elements of beauty and pleasure to elements of serviceableness and use. To decide whether any given one of these has a right to the title of fine art, and, if so, to which of the greater fine arts it should be thought of as appended and subordinate, or between which two of them intermediate, is often no easy task.
No one classification final or sufficient
The weak point of all classifications of the kind of which we have above given examples is that each is intended to be final, and to serve instead of any other. The truth is, that the relations between the several fine arts are much too complex for any single classification to bear this character. Every classification of the fine arts must necessarily be provisional, according to the particular class of relations which it keeps in view. And for practical purposes it is requisite to bear in mind not one classification but several. Fixing our attention, not upon complicated or problematical relations between the various arts, but only upon their simple and undisputed relations, and giving the first place in our consideration to the five greater arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music and poetry, we shall find at least three principal modes in which every fine art either resembles or differs from the rest.
1. The Shaping and the Speaking Arts (or Arts of Form and Arts of Utterance, or Arts of Space and Arts of Time). - Each of the greater arts either makes something or not which can be seen and handled. The arts which make something which can be seen and handled are architecture, sculpture and painting. In the products or results of all these arts external matter is in some way or another manually put together, fashioned or disposed. But music and poetry do not produce any results of this kind. What music produces is something that can be heard, and what poetry produces is something that can be either heard or read - which last is a kind of ideal hearing, having for its avenue the eye instead of the ear, and for its material, written signs for words instead of the spoken words themselves. Now what the eye sees from any one point of view, it sees all at once; in other words, the parts of anything we see fill or occupy not time but space, and reach us from various points in space at a single simultaneous perception. If we are at the proper distance we see at one glance a house from the ground to the chimneys, a statue from head to foot, and in a picture at once the foreground and background, and everything that is within the four corners of the frame. There is, indeed, this distinction to be drawn, that in walking round or through a temple, church, house or any other building, new parts and proportions of the building unfold themselves to view; and the same thing happens in walking round a statue or turning it on a turntable: so that the spectator, by his own motions and the time it takes to effect them, can impart to architecture and sculpture something of the character of time arts. But their products, as contemplated from any one point of view, are in themselves solid, stationary and permanent in space. Whereas the parts of anything we hear, or, reading, can imagine that we hear, fill or occupy not space at all but time, and can only reach us from various points in time through a continuous series of perceptions, or, in the case of reading, of images raised by words in the mind. We have to wait, in music, while one note follows another in a theme, and one theme another in a movement; and in poetry, while one line with its images follows another in a stanza, and one stanza another in a canto, and so on. It is a convenient form of expressing both aspects of this difference between the two groups of arts, to say that architecture, sculpture and painting are arts which give shape to things in space, or, more briefly, shaping arts; and music and poetry arts which give utterance to things in time, or, more briefly, speaking arts. These simple terms of the shaping and the speaking arts (the equivalent of the Ger. bildende und redende Künste) are not usual in English; but they seem appropriate and clear; the simplest alternatives for their use is to speak of the manual and the vocal arts, or the arts of space and the arts of time. This is practically, if not logically, the most substantial and vital distinction upon which a classification of the fine arts can be based. The arts which surround us in space with stationary effects for the eye, as the house we live in, the pictures on the walls, the marble figure in the vestibule, are stationary, hold a different kind of place in our experience - not a greater or a higher place, but essentially a different place - from the arts which provide us with transitory effects in time, effects capable of being awakened for the ear or mind at any moment, as a symphony is awakened by playing and an ode by reading, but lying in abeyance until we bid that moment come, and passing away when the performance or the reading is over. Such, indeed, is the practical force of the distinction that in modern usage the expression fine art, or even art, is often used by itself in a sense which tacitly excludes music and poetry, and signifies the group of manual or shaping arts alone.
Intermediate class of arts of motion
As between three of the five greater arts and the other two, the distinction on which we are now dwelling is complete. Buildings, statues, pictures, belong strictly to sight and space; to time and to hearing, real through the ear, or ideal through the mind in reading, belong music and poetry. Among the lesser or subordinate arts, however, there are several in which this distinction finds no place, and which produce, in space and time at once, effects midway between the stationary or stable, and the transitory or fleeting. Such is the dramatic art, in which the actor makes with his actions and gestures, or several actors make with the combination of their different actions and gestures, a kind of shifting picture, which appeals to the eyes of the witnesses while the sung or spoken words of the drama appeal to their ears; thus making of them spectators and auditors at once, and associating with the pure time art of words the mixed time-and-space art of bodily movements. As all movement whatsoever is necessarily movement through space, and takes time to happen, so every other fine art which is wholly or in part an act of movement partakes in like manner of this double character. Along with acting thus comes dancing. Dancing, when it is of the mimic character, may itself be a kind of acting; historically, indeed, the dancer's art was the parent of the actor's; whether apart from or in conjunction with the mimic element, dancing is an art in which bodily movements obey, accompany, and, as it were, express or accentuate in space the time effects of music. Eloquence or oratory in like manner, so far as its power depends on studied and premeditated gesture, is also an art which to some extent enforces its primary appeal through the ear in time by a secondary appeal through the eye in space. So much for the first distinction, that between the shaping or space arts and the speaking or time arts, with the intermediate and subordinate class of arts which, like acting, dancing, oratory, add to the pure time element a mixed time-and-space element. These last can hardly be called shaping arts, because it is his own person, and not anything outside himself, which the actor, the dancer, the orator disposes or adjusts; they may perhaps best be called arts of motion, or moving arts.
2. The Imitative and the Non-Imitative Arts. - Each art either does or does not represent or imitate something which exists already in nature. Of the five greater fine arts, those which thus represent objects existing in nature are sculpture, painting and poetry. Those which do not represent anything so existing are music and architecture. On this principle we get a new grouping. Two shaping or space arts and one speaking or time art now form the imitative group of sculpture, painting and poetry; while one space art and one time art form the non-imitative group of music and architecture. The mixed space-and-time arts of the actor, and of the dancer, so far as he or she is also a mimic, belong, of course, by their very name and nature, to the imitative class.
The imitative functions of art according to Aristotle
It was the imitative character of the fine arts which chiefly occupied the attention of Aristotle. But in order to understand the art theories of Aristotle it is necessary to bear in mind the very different meanings which the idea of imitation bore to his mind and bears to ours. For Aristotle the idea of imitation or representation (mimēsis) was extended so as to denote the expressing, evoking or making manifest of anything whatever, whether material objects or ideas or feelings. Music and dancing, by which utterance or expression is given to emotions that may be quite detached from all definite ideas or images, are thus for him varieties of imitation. He says, indeed, most music and dancing, as if he was aware that there were exceptions, but he does not indicate what the exceptions are; and under the head of imitative music, he distinctly reckons some kinds of instrumental music without words. But in our own more restricted usage, to imitate means to copy, mimic or represent some existing phenomenon, some definite reality of experience; and we can only call those imitative arts which bring before us such things, either directly by showing us their actual likeness, as sculpture does in solid form, and as painting does by means of lines and colours on a plane surface, or else indirectly, by calling up ideas or images of them in the mind, as poetry and literature do by means of words. It is by a stretch of ordinary usage that we apply the word imitation even to this last way of representing things; since words are no true likeness of, but only customary signs for, the thing they represent. And those arts we cannot call imitative at all, which by combinations of abstract sound or form express and arouse emotions unattended by the recognizable likeness, idea or image of any definite thing.
Non-imitative character of music
Now the emotions of music when music goes along with words, whether in the shape of actual song or even of the instrumental accompaniment of song, are no doubt in a certain sense attended with definite ideas; those, namely, which are expressed by the words themselves. But the same ideas would be conveyed to the mind equally well by the same words if they were simply spoken. What the music contributes is a special element of its own, an element of pure emotion, aroused through the sense of hearing, which heightens the effect of the words upon the feelings without helping to elucidate them for the understanding. Nay, it is well known that a song well sung produces its intended effect upon the feelings almost as fully though we fail to catch the words or are ignorant of the language to which they belong. Thus the view of Aristotle cannot be defended on the ground that he was familiar with music only in an elementary form, and principally as the direct accompaniment of words, and that in his day the modern development of the art, as an art for building up constructions of independent sound, vast and intricate fabrics of melody and harmony detached from words, was a thing not yet imagined. That is perfectly true; the immense technical and intellectual development of music, both in its resources and its capacities, is an achievement of the modern world; but the essential character of musical sound is the same in its most elementary as in its most complicated stage. Its privilege is to give delight, not by communicating definite ideas, or calling up particular images, but by appealing to certain organic sensibilities in our nerves of hearing, and through such appeal expressing on the one part and arousing on the other a unique kind of emotion. The emotion caused by music may be altogether independent of any ideas conveyable by words. Or it may serve to intensify and enforce other emotions arising at the same time in connexion with the ideas conveyed by words; and it was one of the contentions of Richard Wagner that in the former phase the art is now exhausted, and that only in the latter are new conquests in store for it. But in either case the music is the music, and is like nothing else; it is no representation or similitude of anything whatsoever.
An objection and its answer
But does not instrumental music, it will be said, sometimes really imitate the sounds of nature, as the piping of birds, the whispering of woods, the moaning of storms or explosion of thunder; or does it not, at any rate, suggest these things by resemblances so close that they almost amount in the strict sense to imitation? Occasionally, it is true, music does allow itself these playful excursions into a region of quasi-imitation or mimicry. It modifies the character of its abstract sounds into something, so to speak, more concrete, and, instead of sensations which are like nothing else, affords us sensations which recognizably resemble those we receive from some of the sounds of nature. But such excursions are hazardous, and to make them often is the surest proof of vulgarity in a musician. Neither are the successful effects of the great composers in evoking ideas of particular natural phenomena generally in the nature of real imitations or representations; although passages such as the notes of the dove and nightingale in Haydn's Creation, and of the cuckoo in Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, the bleating of the sheep in the Don Quixote symphony of Richard Strauss, must be acknowledged to be exceptions. Again, it is a recognized fact concerning the effect of instrumental music on those of its hearers who try to translate such effect into words, that they will all find themselves in tolerable agreement as to the meaning of any passage so long as they only attempt to describe it in terms of vague emotion, and to say such and such a passage expresses, as the case may be, dejection or triumph, effort or the relaxation of effort, eagerness or languor, suspense or fruition, anguish or glee. But their agreement comes to an end the moment they begin to associate, in their interpretation, definite ideas with these vague emotions; then we find that what suggests in idea to one hearer the vicissitudes of war will suggest to another, or to the same at another time, the vicissitudes of love, to another those of spiritual yearning and aspiration, to another, it may be, those of changeful travel by forest, field and ocean, to another those of life's practical struggle and ambition. The infinite variety of ideas which may thus be called up in different minds by the same strain of music is proof enough that the music is not like any particular thing. The torrent of varied and entrancing emotion which it pours along the heart, emotion latent and undivined until the spell of sound begins, that is music's achievement and its secret. It is this effect, whether coupled or not with a trained intellectual recognition of the highly abstract and elaborate nature of the laws of the relation, succession and combinations of sounds on which the effect depends, that has caused some thinkers, with Schopenhauer at their head, to find in music the nearest approach we have to a voice from behind the veil, a universal voice expressing the central purpose and deepest essence of things, unconfused by fleeting actualities or by the distracting duty of calling up images of particular and perishable phenomena. "Music," in Schopenhauer's own words, "reveals the innermost essential being of the world, and expresses the highest wisdom in a language the reason does not understand."
Definition of music
Aristotle endeavoured to frame a classification of the arts, in their several applications and developments, on two grounds - the nature of the objects imitated by each, and the means or instruments employed in the imitation. But in the case of music, as it exists in the modern world, the first part of this endeavour falls to the ground, because the object imitated has, in the sense in which we now use the word imitation, no existence. The means employed by music are successions and combinations of vocal or instrumental sounds regulated according to the three conditions of time and pitch (which together make up melody) and harmony, or the relations of different strains of time and tone cooperant but not parallel. With these means, music either creates her independent constructions, or else accompanies, adorns, enforces the imitative art of speech - but herself imitates not; and may be best defined simply as a speaking or time art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by successions and combinations of regulated sound.
Non-imitative character of architecture
That which music is thus among the speaking or time-arts, architecture is among the shaping or space-arts. As music appeals to our faculties for taking pleasure in non-imitative combinations of transitory sound, so architecture appeals to our faculties for taking pleasure in non-imitative combinations of stationary mass. Corresponding to the system of ear-effects or combinations of time, tone and harmony with which music works, architecture works with a system of eye-effects or combinations of mass, contour, light and shade; colour, proportion, interval, alternation of plain and decorated parts, regularity and variety in regularity, apparent stability, vastness, appropriateness and the rest. Only the materials of architecture are not volatile and intangible like sound, but solid timber, brick, stone, metal and mortar, and the laws of weight and force according to which these materials have to be combined are much more severe and cramping than the laws of melody and harmony which regulate the combinations of music. The architect is further subject, unlike the musician, to the dictates and precise prescriptions of utility. Even in structures raised for purposes not of everyday use and necessity, but of commemoration or worship, the rules for such commemoration and such worship have prescribed a more or less fixed arrangement and proportion of the parts or members, whether in the Egyptian temple or temple-tomb, the Greek temple or herōon, or in the churches of the middle ages and Renaissance in the West.
Analogies of architecture and music
Hence the effects of architecture are necessarily less full of various, rapturous and unforeseen enchantment than the effects of music. Yet for those who possess sensibility to the pleasures of the eye and the perfections of shaping art, the architecture of the great ages has yielded combinations which, so far as comparison is permissible between things unlike in their materials, fall little short of the achievements of music in those kinds of excellence which are common to them both. In the virtues of lucidity, of just proportion and organic interdependence of the several parts or members, in the mathematic subtlety of their mutual relations, and of the transitions from one part or member to another, in purity and finish of individual forms, in the character of one thing growing naturally out of another and everything serving to complete the whole - in these qualities, no musical combination can well surpass a typical Doric temple such as the Parthenon at Athens. None, again, can well surpass some of the great cathedrals of the middle ages in the qualities of sublimity, of complexity, in the power both of expressing and suggesting spiritual aspiration, in the invention of intricate developments and ramifications about a central plan, in the union of majesty in the main conception with fertility of adornment in detail. In fancifulness, in the unexpected, in capricious and far-sought opulence, in filling the mind with mingled enchantments of east and west and south and north, music can hardly do more than a building like St Mark's at Venice does with its blending of Byzantine elements, Italian elements, Gothic elements, each carried to the utmost pitch of elaboration and each enriched with a hundred caprices of ornament, but all working together, all in obedience to a law, and "all beginning and ending with the Cross."
Exceptional and limited admission of imitative forms in architecture
In the case of architecture, however, as in the case of music, the non-imitative character must not be stated quite without exception or reserve. There have been styles of architecture in which forms suggesting or imitating natural or other phenomena have held a place among the abstract forms proper to the art. Often the mode of such suggestions is rather symbolical to the mind than really imitative to the eye; as when the number and relations of the heavenly planets were imaged by that race of astronomers, the Babylonians, in the seven concentric walls of their great temple, and in many other architectural constructions; or as when the shape of the cross was adopted, with innumerable slight varieties and modifications, for the ground plan of the churches of Christendom. Passing to examples of imitation more properly so called, it may be true, and was, at any rate, long believed, that the aisles of Gothic churches, when once the use of the pointed arch had been evolved as a principle of construction, were partly designed to evoke the idea of the natural aisles of the forest, and that the upsoaring forest trunks and meeting branches were more or less consciously imaged in their piers and vaultings. In the temple-palaces of Egypt, one of the regular architectural members, the sustaining pier, is often systematically wrought in the actual likeness of a conventionalized cluster of lotus stems, with lotus flowers for the capital. When we come to the fashion, not rare in Greek architecture, of carving this same sustaining member, the column, in complete human likeness, and employing caryatids, canephori, atlases or the like, to support the entablature of a building, it then becomes difficult to say whether we have to do with a work of architecture or of sculpture. The case, at any rate, is different from that in which the sculptor is called in to supply surface decoration to the various members of a building, or to fill with the products of his own art spaces in the building specially contrived and left vacant for that purpose. When the imitative feature is in itself an indispensable member of the architectural construction, to architecture rather than sculpture we shall probably do best to assign it.
Defining architecture, then (apart from its utility, which for the present we leave out of consideration), as a shaping art, of which the function is to express and arouse emotion by combinations of ordered and decorated mass, we pass from the characteristics of the non-imitative to those of the imitative group of arts, namely sculpture, painting and poetry.
The imitative arts are arts of record using imitation as their means
If we keep in mind the source and origin of these arts, we must remember what has already been observed, that they spring by no means from man's love of imitation alone, but from his desire to record and commemorate experience, using the faculty of imitation as his means. Mnemosyne (Memory) was in Greek tradition the mother of the Muses; imitation, in the sense above defined, is but their instrument. Hence we might think "arts of record" a better name for this group than arts of imitation. The answer is - but a large part of pure architecture is also commemorative; from the pyramids and obelisks of Egypt down there are many monuments in which the impulse of men to perpetuate their own or others' memories has worked without any aid of imitation. Hence as the definition of a class of arts contrasted with architecture and music the name "arts of record" would fail; and we have to fall back on the current and established name of the "imitative arts." In considering them we cannot do better than follow that Aristotelian division which describes each art according, first, to the objects which it imitates, and, secondly, to the means it employs.
Sculpture as an imitative art
Taking sculpture first, as imitating a smaller range of objects than the other two, and imitating them more completely: sculpture may have for the objects of its imitation the shapes of whatever things possess length, breadth and magnitude. For its means or instruments it has solid form, which the sculptor either carves out of a hard substance, as in the case of wood and stone, or models in a yielding substance, as in the case of clay and wax, or casts in a dissolved or molten substance, as in the case of plaster and of metal in certain uses, or beats, draws or chases in a malleable and ductile substance, as in the case of metal in other uses, or stamps from dies or moulds, a method sometimes used in all soft or fusible materials. Thus a statue or statuette may either be carved straight out of a block of stone or wood, or first modelled in clay or wax, then moulded in plaster or some equivalent material, and then carved in stone or cast in bronze. A gem is wrought in stone by cutting and grinding. Figures in jeweller's work are wrought by beating and chasing; a medallion by beating and chasing or else by stamping from a die; a coin by stamping from a die; and so forth. The process of modelling in a soft substance being regarded as the typical process of the sculptor, the name plastic art has been given to his operations in general.
Sculpture in the round and in relief
In general terms, the task of sculpture is to imitate solid form with solid form. But sculptured form may be either completely or incompletely solid. Sculpture in completely solid form exactly reproduces, whether on the original or on a different scale, the relations or proportions of the object imitated in the three dimensions of length, breadth and depth or thickness. Sculpture in incompletely solid form reproduces the proportions of the objects with exactness only so far as concerns two of its dimensions, namely, those of length and breadth; while the third dimension, that of depth or thickness, it reproduces in a diminished proportion, leaving it to the eye to infer, from the partial degree of projection given to the work, the full projection of the object imitated. The former, or completely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in the round; its works stand free, and can be walked round and seen from all points. The latter, or incompletely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in relief; its works do not stand free, but are engaged in or attached to a background, and can only be seen from in front. According, in the latter kind of sculpture, to its degree of projection from the background, a work is said to be in high or in low relief. Sculpture in the round and sculpture in relief are alike in this, that the properties of objects which they imitate are their external forms as defined by their outlines - that is, by the boundaries and circumscriptions of their masses - and their light and shade - the lights and shadows, that is, which diversify the curved surfaces of the masses in consequence of their alternations and gradations of projection and recession. But the two kinds of sculpture differ in this. A work of sculpture in the round imitates the whole of the outlines by which the object imitated is circumscribed in the three dimensions of space, and presents to the eye, as the object itself would do, a new outline succeeding the last every moment as you walk round it. Whereas a work of sculpture in relief imitates only one outline of any object; it takes, so to speak, a section of the object as seen from a particular point, and traces on the background the boundary-line of that particular section, merely suggesting, by modelling the surface within such boundary according to a regular, but a diminished, ratio of projection, the other outlines which the object would present if seen from all sides successively.
Subjects proper for sculpture in the round
As sculpture in the round reproduces the real relations of a solid object in space, it follows that the only kind of object which it can reproduce with pleasurable effect according to the laws of regulated or rhythmical design must be one not too vast or complicated, one that can afford to be detached and isolated from its surroundings, and of which all the parts can easily be perceived and apprehended in their organic relations. Further, it will need to be an object interesting enough to mankind in general to make them take delight in seeing it reproduced with all its parts in complete imitation. And again, it must be such that some considerable part of the interest lies in those particular properties of outline, play of surface, and light and shade which it is the special function of sculpture to reproduce. Thus a sculptured representation in the round, say, of a mountain with cities on it, would hardly be a sculpture at all; it could only be a model, and as a model might have value; but value as a work of fine art it could not have, because the object imitated would lack organic definiteness and completeness; it would lack universality of interest, and of the interest which it did possess, a very inconsiderable part would depend upon its properties of outline, surface, and light and shade. Obviously there is no kind of object in the world that so well unites the required conditions for pleasurable imitation in sculpture as the human body. It is at once the most complete of organisms, and the shape of all others the most subtle as well as the most intelligible in its outlines; the most habitually detached in active or stationary freedom; the most interesting to mankind, because its own; the richest in those particular effects, contours and modulations, contrasts, harmonies and transitions of modelled surface and circumscribing line, which it is the prerogative of sculpture to imitate. Accordingly the object of imitation for this art is pre-eminently the body of man or woman. That it has not been for the sake of representing men and women as such, but for the sake of representing gods in the likeness of men and women, that the human form has been most enthusiastically studied, does not affect this fact in the theory of the art, though it is a consideration of great importance in its history. Besides the human form, sculpture may imitate the forms of those of the lower animals whose physical endowments have something of a kindred perfection, with other natural or artificial objects as may be needed merely by way of accessory or symbol. The body must for the purposes of this art be divested of covering, or covered only with such tissues as reveal, translate or play about without concealing it. Chiefly in lands and ages where climate and social use have given the sculptor the opportunity of studying human forms so draped or undraped has this art attained perfection, and become exemplary and enviable to that of other races.
Subjects proper for sculpture in relief
Relief sculpture is more closely connected with architecture than the other kind, and indeed is commonly used in subordination to it. But if its task is thus somewhat different from that of sculpture in the round, its principal objects of imitation are the same. The human body remains the principal theme of the sculptor in relief; but the nature of his art allows, and sometimes compels, him to include other objects in the range of his imitation. As he has not to represent the real depth or projection of things, but only to suggest them according to a ratio which he may fix himself, so he can introduce into the third or depth dimension, thus arbitrarily reduced, a multitude of objects for which the sculptor in the round, having to observe the real ratio of the three dimensions, has no room. He cam place one figure in slightly raised outline emerging from behind the more fully raised outline of another, and by the same system can add to his representation rocks, trees, nay mountains and cities and birds on the wing. But the more he uses this liberty the less will he be truly a sculptor. Solid modelling, and real light and shade, are the special means or instrument of effect which the sculptor alone among imitative artists enjoys. Single outlines and contours, the choice of one particular section and the tracing of its circumscription, are means which the sculptor enjoys in common with the painter or draughtsman. And indeed, when we consider works executed wholly or in part in very low relief, whether Assyrian battle-pieces and hunting-pieces in alabaster or bronze, or the backgrounds carved in bronze, marble or wood by the Italian sculptors who followed the example set by Ghiberti at the Renaissance, we shall see that the principle of such work is not the principle of sculpture at all. Its effect depends little on qualities of surface-light and shadow, and mainly on qualities of contour, as traced by a slight line of shadow on the side away from the light, and a slight line of light on the side next to it. And we may fairly hesitate whether we shall rank the artist who works on this principle, which is properly a graphic rather than a plastic principle, among sculptors or among draughtsmen. The above are cases in which the relief sculptor exercises his liberty in the introduction of other objects besides human figures into his sculptured compositions. But there is another kind of relief sculpture in which the artist has less choice. That is, the kind in which the sculptor is called in to decorate with carved work parts of an architectural construction which are not adapted for the introduction of figure subjects, or for their introduction only as features in a scheme of ornament that comprises many other elements. To this head belongs most of the carving of capitals, mouldings, friezes (except the friezes of Greek temples), bands, cornices, and, in the Gothic style, of doorway arches, niches, canopies, pinnacles, brackets, spandrels and the thousand members and parts of members which that style so exquisitely adorned with true or conventionalized imitations of natural forms. This is no doubt a subordinate function of the art; and it is impossible, as we have seen already, to find a precise line of demarcation between carving, in this decorative use, which is properly sculpture, and that which belongs properly to architecture.
Definition of sculpture
Leaving such discussions, we may content ourselves with the definition of sculpture as a shaping art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by the imitation of natural objects, and principally the human body, in solid form, reproducing either their true proportions in three dimensions, or their proportions in the two dimensions of length and breadth only, with a diminished proportion in the third dimension of depth or thickness.
Painting as an imitative art
In considering bas-relief as a form of sculpture, we have found ourselves approaching the confines of the second of the shaping imitative arts, the graphic art or art of painting. Painting, as to its means or instruments of imitation, dispenses with the third dimension altogether. It imitates natural objects by representing them as they are represented on the retina of the eye itself, simply as an assemblage of variously shaped and variously shaded patches of colour on a flat surface. Painting does not reproduce the third dimension of reality by any third dimension of its own whatever; but leaves the eye to infer the solidity of objects, their recession and projection, their nearness and remoteness, by the same perspective signs by which it also infers those facts in nature, namely, by the direction of their several boundary lines, the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows, the strength or faintness of their tones of colour.
Range of objects imitable by painting
Hence this art has an infinitely greater range and freedom than any form of sculpture. Near and far is all the same to it, and whatever comes into the field of vision can come also into the field of a picture; trees as well as persons, and clouds as well as trees, and stars as well as clouds; the remotest mountain snows, as well as the violet of the foreground, and far-off multitudes of people as well as one or two near the eye. Whatever any man has seen, or can imagine himself as seeing, that he can also fix by painting, subject only to one great limitation, - that of the range of brightness which he is able to attain in imitating natural colour illuminated by light. In this particular his art can but correspond according to a greatly diminished ratio with the effects of nature. But excepting this it can do for the eye almost all that nature herself does; or at least all that nature would do if man had only one eye since the three dimensions of space produce upon our binocular machinery of vision a particular stereoscopic effect of which a picture, with its two dimensions only, is incapable. The range of the art being thus almost unbounded, its selections have naturally been dictated by the varying interest felt in this or that subject of representation by the societies among whom the art has at various times been practised. As in sculpture, so in painting, the human form has always held the first place. For the painter, the intervention of costume between man and his environment is not a misfortune in the same degree as it is for the sculptor. For him, clothes of whatever fashion or amplitude have their own charm; they serve to diversify the aspect of the world, and to express the characters and stations, if not the physical frames, of his personages; and he is as happy or happier among the brocades of Venice as among the bare limbs of the Spartan palaestra. Along with man, there come into painting all animals and vegetation, all man's furniture and belongings, his dwelling-places, fields and landscape; and in modern times also landscape and nature for their own sakes, skies, seas, mountains and wildernesses apart from man.
The chief forms or modes of painting: line, light-and-shade and colour
Besides the two questions about any art, what objects does it imitate, and by the use of what means or instruments, Aristotle proposes (in the case of poetry) the further question, which of several possible forms does the imitation in any given case assume? We may transfer very nearly the same inquiry to painting, and may ask, concerning any painter, according to which of three possible systems he works. The three possible systems are (1) that which attends principally to the configuration and relations of natural objects as indicated by the direction of their boundaries, for defining which there is a convention in universal use, the convention, that is, of line; this may be called for short the system of line; (2) that which attends chiefly to their configuration and relations as indicated by the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows - this is the system of light-and-shade or chiaroscuro; and (3) that which attends chiefly, not to their configuration at all, but to the distribution, qualities and relations of local colours upon their surface - this is the system of colour. It is not possible for a painter to imitate natural objects to the eye at all without either defining their boundaries by outlines, or suggesting the shape of their masses by juxtapositions of light and dark or of local colours. In the complete art of painting, of course, all three methods are employed at once. But in what is known as outline drawing and outline engraving, one of the three methods only is employed, line; in monochrome pictures, and in shaded drawings and engravings, two only, line with light-and-shade; and in the various shadeless forms of decorative painting and colour-printing, two only, line with colour. Even in the most accomplished examples of the complete art of painting, as was pointed out by Ruskin, we find that there almost always prevails a predilection for some one of these three parts of painting over the other two. Thus among the mature Italians of the Renaissance, Titian is above all things a painter in colour, Michelangelo in line, Leonardo in light-and-shade. Many academic painters in their day tried to combine the three methods in equal balance; to the impetuous spirit of the great Venetian, Tintoretto, it was alone given to make the attempt with a great measure of success. A great part of the effort of modern painting has been to get rid of the linear convention altogether, to banish line and develop the resources of the oil medium in imitating on canvas, more strictly than the early masters attempted, the actual appearance of things on the retina as an assemblage of coloured streaks and patches modified and toned in the play of light-and-shade and atmosphere.
Technical varieties of the painter's craft
It remains to consider, for the purpose of our classification, what are the technical varieties of the painter's craft. Since we gave the generic name of painting to all imitation of natural objects by the assemblage of lines, colours and lights and darks on a single plane, we must logically include as varieties of painting not only the ordinary crafts of spreading or laying pictures on an opaque surface in fresco, oil, distemper or water-colour, but also the craft of arranging a picture to be seen by the transmission of light through a transparent substance, in glass painting; the craft of fitting together a multitude of solid cubes or cylinders so that their united surface forms a picture to the eye, as in mosaic; the craft of spreading vitreous colours in a state of fusion so that they form a picture when hardened, as in enamel; and even, it would seem, the crafts of weaving, tapestry, and embroidery, since these also yield to the eye a plane surface figured in imitation of nature. As drawing we must also count incised or engraved work of all kinds representing merely the outlines of objects and not their modellings, as for instance the graffiti on Greek and Etruscan mirror-backs and dressing-cases; while raised work in low relief, in which outlines are plainly marked and modellings neglected, furnishes, as we have seen, a doubtful class between sculpture and painting. In all figures that are first modelled in the solid and then variously coloured, sculpture and painting bear a common share; and by far the greater part both of ancient and medieval statuary was in fact tinted so as to imitate or at least suggest the colours of life. But as the special characteristic of sculpture, solidity in the third dimension, is in these cases present, it is to that art and not to painting that we shall still ascribe the resulting work.
Definition of painting
With these indications we may leave the art of painting defined in general terms as a shaping or space art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by the imitation of all kinds of natural objects, reproducing on a plane surface the relations of their boundary lines, lights and shadows, or colours, or all three of these appearances together.
Poetry as an imitative art
The next and last of the imitative arts is the speaking art of poetry. The transition from sculpture and painting to poetry is, from the point of view not of our present but of our first division among the fine arts, abrupt and absolute. It is a transition from space into time, from the Sphere of material forms to the Sphere of immaterial images. Following Aristotle's method, we may define the objects of poetry's imitation or evocation, as everything of which the idea or image can be called up by words, that is, every force and phenomenon of nature, every operation and result of art, every fact of life and history, or every imagination of such a fact, every thought and feeling of the human spirit, for which mankind in the course of its long evolution has been able to create in speech an explicit and appropriate sign. The means or instruments of poetry's imitation are these verbal signs or words, arranged in lines, strophes or stanzas, so that their sounds have some of the regulated qualities and direct emotional effect of music.
The three chief modes or forms of the imitation may still be defined as they were defined by Aristotle himself. First comes the epic or narrative form, in which the poet speaks alternately for himself and his characters, now describing their situations and feelings in his own words, and anon making each of them speak in the first person for himself. Second comes the lyric form, in which the poet speaks in his own name exclusively, and gives expression to sentiments which are purely personal. Third comes the dramatic form, in which the poet does not speak for himself at all, but only puts into the mouths of each of his personages successively such discourse as he thinks appropriate to the part. The last of these three forms of poetry, the dramatic, calls, if it is merely read, on the imagination of the reader to fill up those circumstances of situation, action and the rest, which in the first or epic form are supplied by the narrative between the speeches, and for which in the lyric or personal form there is no occasion. To avoid making this call upon the imagination, to bring home its effects with full vividness, dramatic poetry has to call in the aid of several subordinate arts, the shaping or space art of the scene-painter, the mixed time and space arts of the actor and the dancer. Occasionally also, or in the case of opera throughout, dramatic poetry heightens the emotional effect of its words with music. A play or drama is thus, as performed upon the theatre, not a poem merely, but a poem accompanied, interpreted, completed and brought several degrees nearer to reality by a combination of auxiliary effects of the other arts. Besides the narrative, the lyric and dramatic forms of poetry, the didactic, that is the teaching or expository form, has usually been recognized as a fourth. Aristotle refused so to recognize it, regarding a didactic poem in the light not so much of a poem as of a useful treatise. But from the Works and Days down to the Loves of the Plants there has been too much literature produced in this form for us to follow Aristotle here. We shall do better to regard didactic poetry as a variety corresponding, among the speaking arts, to architecture and the other manual arts of which the first purpose is use, but which are capable of accompanying and adorning use by a pleasurable appeal to the emotions.
Definition of poetry
We shall hardly make our definition of poetry, considered as an imitative art, too extended if we say that it is a speaking or time art, of which the business is to express and arouse emotion by imitating or evoking all or any of the phenomena of life and nature by means of words arranged with musical regularity.
Relation of poetry as an Imitative art to painting and sculpture
Neither the varieties of poetical form, however, nor the modes in which the several forms have been mixed up and interchanged - as such mixture and interchange are implied, for instance, by the very title of a group of Robert Browning's poems, the Dramatic Lyrics, - the observation of neither of these things concerns us here so much as the observation of the relations of poetry in general, as an art of representation or imitation, to the other arts of imitation, painting and sculpture. Verbal signs have been invented for innumerable things which cannot be imitated or represented at all either in solid form or upon a coloured surface. You cannot carve or paint a sigh, or the feeling which finds utterance in a sigh; you can only suggest the idea of the feeling, and that in a somewhat imperfect and uncertain way, by representing the physical aspect of a person in the act of breathing the sigh. Similarly you cannot carve or paint any movement, but only figures or groups in which the movement is represented as arrested in some particular point of time; nor any abstract idea, but only figures or groups in which the abstract idea, as for example release, captivity, mercy, is symbolized in the concrete shape of allegorical or illustrative figures. The whole field of thought, of propositions, arguments, injunctions and exhortations is open to poetry but closed to sculpture and painting. Poetry, by its command over the regions of the understanding, of abstraction, of the movement and succession of things in time, by its power of instantaneously associating one image with another from the remotest regions of the mind, by its names for every shade of feeling and experience, exercises a sovereignty a hundred times more extended than that of either of the two arts of manual imitation. But, on the other hand, words do not as a rule bear any sensible resemblance to the things of which they are the signs. There are few things that words do not stand for or cannot call up; but they stand for things symbolically and at second hand, and call them up only in idea, and not in actual presentment to the senses. In strictness, the business of poetry should not be called imitation at all, but rather evocation. The strength of painting and sculpture lies in this, that though there are countless phenomena which they cannot represent at all, and countless more which they can only represent by symbolism and suggestion more or less ambiguous, yet there are a few which each can represent more fully and directly than poetry can represent any thing at all. These are, for sculpture, the forms or configurations of things, which that art represents directly to the senses both of sight and touch; and for painting the forms and colours of things and their relations to each other in space, air and light, which the art represents to the sense of sight, directly so far as regards surface appearance, and indirectly so far as regards solidity. For many delicate qualities and differences in these visible relations of things there are no words at all - the vocabulary of colours, for instance, is in all languages surprisingly scanty and primitive. And those visible qualities, for which words exist, the words still call up indistinctly and at second hand. Poetry is almost as powerless to bring before the mind's eye with precision a particular shade of red or blue, a particular linear arrangement or harmony of colour-tones, as sculpture is to relate a continuous experience, or painting to enforce an exhortation or embellish an abstract proposition. The wise poet, as has been justly remarked, when he wants to produce a vivid impression of a visible thing, does not attempt to catalogue or describe its stationary beauties. Shakespeare, when he wants to make us realize the perfections of Perdita, puts into the mouth of Florizel, not, as a bad poet would have done, a description of her lilies and carnations, and the other charms which a painter could make us realize better, but the praises of her ways and movements; and with the final touch,
"When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do
Nothing but that,"
he evokes a twofold image of beauty in motion, of which one half might be the despair of those painters who designed the dancing maidens of the walls of Herculaneum, and the other half the despair of all artists who in modern times have tried to fix upon their canvas the buoyancy and grace of dancing waves. In representing the perfections of form in a bride's slender foot, the speaking art, poetry, would find itself distanced by either of the shaping arts, painting or sculpture. Suckling calls up the charm of such a foot by describing it not at rest but in motion, and in the feet which
"Beneath the petticoat,
Like little mice, went in and out,"
leaves us an image which baffles the power of the other arts. Keats, when he tells of Madeline unclasping her jewels on St Agnes's Eve, does not attempt to conjure up their lustre to the eye, as a painter would have done, and a less poetical poet might have tried to do, but in the words "her warmed jewels" evoked instead a quality, breathing of the very life of the wearer, which painting could not even have remotely suggested.
General law of the relative means and capacities of the several imitative arts: sculpture
The differences between the means and capacities of representation proper to the shaping arts of sculpture and painting and those proper to the speaking art of poetry were for a long while overlooked or misunderstood. The maxim of Simonides, that poetry is a kind of articulate painting, and painting a kind of mute poetry, was vaguely accepted until the days of Lessing, and first overthrown by the famous treatise of that writer on the Laocoön. Following in the main the lines laid down by Lessing, other writers have worked out the conditions of representation or imitation proper not only to sculpture and painting as distinguished from poetry, but to sculpture as distinguished from painting. The chief points established may really all be condensed under one simple law, that the more direct and complete the imitation effected by any art, the less is the range and number of phenomena which that art can imitate. Thus sculpture in the round imitates its objects much more completely and directly than any other single art, reproducing one whole set of their relations which no other art attempts to reproduce at all, namely, their solid relations in space. Precisely for this reason, such sculpture is limited to a narrow class of objects. As we have seen, it must represent human or animal figures; nothing else has enough either of universal interest or of organic beauty and perfection. Sculpture in the round must represent such figures standing free in full clearness and detachment, in combinations and with accessories comparatively simple, on pain of teasing the eye with a complexity and entanglement of masses and lights and shadows; and in attitudes comparatively quiet, on pain of violating, or appearing to violate, the conditions of mechanical stability. Being a stationary or space-art, it can only represent a single action, which it fixes and perpetuates for ever; and it must therefore choose for that action one as significant and full of interest as is consistent with due observation of the above laws of simplicity and stability. Such actions, and the facial expressions accompanying them, should not be those of sharp crisis or transition, because sudden movement or flitting expression, thus arrested and perpetuated in full and solid imitation by bronze or marble, would be displeasing and not pleasing to the spectator. They must be actions and expressions in some degree settled, collected and capable of continuance, and in their collectedness must at the same time suggest to the spectator as much as possible of the circumstances which have led up to them and those which will next ensue. These conditions evidently bring within a very narrow range the phenomena with which this art can deal, and explain why, as a matter of fact, the greater number of statues represent simply a single figure in repose, with the addition of one or two symbolic or customary attributes. Paint a statue (as the greater part both of Greek and Gothic statuary was in fact painted), and you bring it to a still further point of imitative completeness to the eye; but you do not thereby lighten the restrictions laid upon the art by its material, so long as it undertakes to reproduce in full the third or solid dimension of bodies. You only begin to lighten its restrictions when you begin to relieve it of that duty. We have traced how sculpture in relief, which is satisfied with only a partial reproduction of the third dimension, is free to introduce a larger range of objects, bringing forward secondary figures and accessories, indicating distant planes, indulging even in considerable violence and complexity of motion, since limbs attached to a background do not alarm the spectator by any idea of danger of fragility. But sculpture in the round has not this licence. It is true that the art has at various periods made efforts to escape from its natural limitations. Several of the later schools of antiquity, especially that of Pergamus in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C., strove hard both for violence of expression and complexity of design, not only in relief-sculptures, like the great altar-friezes now at Berlin, but in detached groups, such as (pace Lessing) the Laocoön itself. Many modern virtuosi of sculpture since Bernini have misspent their skill in trying to fix in marble both the restlessness of momentary actions and the flimsiness of fluttering tissues. In latter days Auguste Rodin, an innovating master with a real genius for his art, has attacked many problems of complicated grouping, more or less in the nature of the Greek symplegmata, but keeps these interlocked or contorted actions circumscribed within strict limiting lines, so that they do not by jutting or straggling suggest a kind of acrobatic challenge to the laws of gravity. The same artist and others inspired by him have further sought to emancipate sculpture from the necessity of rendering form in clear and complete definition, and to enrich it with a new power of mysterious suggestion, by leaving his figures wrought in part to the highest finish and vitality of surface, while other parts (according to a precedent set in some unfinished works of Michelangelo) remain scarcely emergent from the rough-hewn or unhewn block. But it may be doubted whether such experiments and expedients can permanently do much to enlarge the scope of the art.
Means and capacities of painting
Next we arrive at painting, in which the third dimension is dismissed altogether, and nothing is actually reproduced, in full or partially, except the effect made by the appearance of natural objects upon the retina of the eye. The consequence is that this art can range over distance and multitude, can represent complicated relations between its various figures and groups of figures, extensive backgrounds, and all those infinite subtleties of appearance in natural things which depend upon local colours and their modification in the play of light and shade and enveloping atmosphere. These last phenomena of natural things are in our experience subject to change in a sense in which the substantial or solid properties of things are not so subject. Colours, shadows and atmospheric effects are naturally associated with ideas of transition, mystery and evanescence. Hence painting is able to extend its range to another kind of facts over which sculpture has no power. It can suggest and perpetuate in its imitation, without breach of its true laws, many classes of facts which are themselves fugitive and transitory, as a smile, the glance of an eye, a gesture of horror or of passion, the waving of hair in the wind, the rush of horses, the strife of mobs, the whole drama of the clouds, the toss and gathering of ocean waves, even the flashing of lightning across the sky. Still, any long or continuous series of changes, actions or movements is quite beyond the means of this art to represent. Painting remains, in spite of its comparative width of range, tied down to the inevitable conditions of a space-art: that is to say, it has to delight the mind by a harmonious variety in its effects, but by a variety apprehended not through various points of time successively, but from various points in space at the same moment. The old convention which allowed painters to indicate sequence in time by means of distribution in space, dispersing the successive episodes of a story about the different parts of a single picture, has been abandoned since the early Renaissance; and Wordsworth sums up our modern view of the matter when he says that it is the business of painting
To one blest moment snatched from fleeting time
The appropriate calm of blest eternity."
Means and capacities of poetry
Lastly, a really unfettered range is only attained by the art which does not give a full and complete reproduction of any natural fact at all, but evokes or brings natural facts before the mind merely by the images which words convey. The whole world of movement, of continuity, of cause and effect, of the successions, alternations and interaction of events, characters and passions of everything that takes time to happen and time to declare, is open to poetry as it is open to no other art. As an imitative or, more properly speaking, an evocative art, then, poetry is subject to no limitations except those which spring from the poverty of human language, and from the fact that its means of imitation are indirect. Poetry's account of the visible properties of things is from these causes much less full, accurate and efficient than the reproduction or delineation of the same properties by sculpture and painting. And this is the sum of the conditions concerning the respective functions of the three arts of imitation which had been overlooked, in theory at least, until the time of Lessing.
The acted drama no real exception to the general law
To the above law, in the form in which we have expressed it, it may perhaps be objected that the acted drama is at once the most full and complete reproduction of nature which we owe to the fine arts, and that at the same time the number of facts over which its imitation ranges is the greatest. The answer is that our law applies to the several arts only in that which we may call their pure or unmixed state. Dramatic poetry is in that state only when it is read or spoken like any other kind of verse. When it is witnessed on the stage, it is in a mixed or impure state; the art of the actor has been called in to give actual reproduction to the gestures and utterances of the personages, that of the costumier to their appearances and attire, that of the stage-decorator to their furniture and surroundings, that of the scene-painter to imitate to the eye the dwelling-places and landscapes among which they move; and only by the combination of all these subordinate arts does the drama gain its character of imitative completeness or reality.
Things unknown shadowed forth by imitation of things known
Throughout the above account of the imitative and non-imitative groups of fine arts, we have so far followed Aristotle as to allow the name of imitation to all recognizable representation or evocation of realities, - using the word "realities" in no metaphysical sense, but to signify the myriad phenomena of life and experience, whether as they actually and literally exist to-day, or as they may have existed in the past, or may be conceived to exist in some other world not too unlike our own for us to conceive and realize in thought. When we find among the ruins of a Greek temple the statue of a beautiful young man at rest, or above the altar of a Christian church the painting of one transfixed with arrows, we know that the statue is intended to bring to our minds no mortal youth, but the god Hermes or Apollo, the transfixed victim no simple captive, but Sebastian the holy saint. At the same time we none the less know that the figures in either case have been studied by the artist from living models before his eyes. In like manner, in all the representations alike of sculpture, painting and poetry the things and persons represented may bear symbolic meanings and imaginary names and characters; they may be set in a land of dreams, and grouped in relations and circumstances upon which the Sun of this world never shone; in point of fact, through many ages of history they have been chiefly used to embody human ideas of supernatural powers; but it is from real things and persons that their lineaments and characters have been taken in the first instance, in order to be attributed by the imagination to another and more exalted order of existences.
Imitation by art necessarily an idealized imitation
The law which we have last laid down is a law defining the relations of sculpture, painting and poetry, considered simply as arts having their foundations at any rate in reality, and drawing from the imitation of reality their indispensable elements and materials. It is a law defining the range and character of those elements or materials in nature which each art is best fitted, by its special means and resources, to imitate. But we must remember that, even in this fundamental part of its operations, none of these arts proceeds by imitation or evocation pure and simple. None of them contents itself with seeking to represent realities, however literally taken, exactly as those realities are. A portrait in sculpture or painting, a landscape in painting, a passage of local description in poetry, may be representations of known things taken literally or for their own sakes, and not for the sake of carrying out thoughts to the unknown; but none of them ought to be, or indeed can possibly be, a representation of all the observed parts and details of such a reality on equal terms and without omissions. Such a representation, were it possible, would be a mechanical inventory and not a work of fine art.
Completeness not the test of value in a pictorial imitation
Hence the value of a pictorial imitation is by no means necessarily in proportion to the number of facts which it records. Many accomplished pictures, in which all the resources of line, colour and light-and-shade have been used to the utmost of the artist's power for the imitation of all that he could see in nature, are dead and worthless in comparison with a few faintly touched outlines or lightly laid shadows or tints of another artist who could see nature more vitally and better. Unless the painter knows how to choose and combine the elements of his finished work so that it shall contain in every part suggestions and delights over and above the mere imitation, it will fall short, in that which is the essential charm of fine art, not only of any scrap of a great master's handiwork, such as an outline sketch of a child by Raphael or a colour sketch of a boat or a mackerel by Turner, but even of any scrap of the merest journeyman's handiwork produced by an artistic race, such as the first Japanese drawing in which a water-flag and kingfisher, or a spray of peach or almond blossom across the sky, is dashed in with a mere hint of colour, but a hint that tells a whole tale to the imagination. That only, we know, is fine art which affords keen and permanent delight to contemplation. Such delight the artist can never communicate by the display of a callous and pedantic impartiality in presence of the facts of life and nature. His representation of realities will only strike or impress others in so far as it concentrates their attention on things by which he has been struck and impressed himself. To arouse emotion, he must have felt emotion; and emotion is impossible without partiality. The artist is one who instinctively tends to modify and work upon every reality before him in conformity with some poignant and sensitive principle of preference or selection in his mind. He instinctively adds something to nature in one direction and takes away something in another, overlooking this kind of fact and insisting on that, suppressing many particulars which he holds irrelevant in order to insist on and bring into prominence others by which he is attracted and arrested.
The instinct by which an artist thus prefers, selects and brings into light one order of facts or aspects in the thing before him rather than the rest, is part of what is called the idealizing or ideal faculty. Interminable discussion has been spent on the questions, - What is the ideal, and how do we idealize? The answer has been given in one form by those thinkers (e.g. Vischer and Lotze) who have pointed out that the process of aesthetic idealization carried on by the artist is only the higher development of a process carried on in an elementary fashion by all men, from the very nature of their constitution. The physical organs of sense themselves do not retain or put on record all the impressions made upon them. When the nerves of the eye receive a multitude of different stimulations at once from different points in space, the sense of eyesight, instead of being aware of all these stimulations singly, only abstracts and retains a total impression of them together. In like manner we are not made aware by the sense of hearing of all the several waves of sound that strike in a momentary succession upon the nerves of the ear; that sense only abstracts and retains a total impression from the combined effect of a number of such waves. And the office which each sense thus performs singly for its own impressions, the mind performs in a higher degree for the impressions of all the senses equally, and for all the other parts of our experience. We are always dismissing or neglecting a great part of our impressions, and abstracting and combining among those which we retain. The ordinary human consciousness works like an artist up to this point; and when we speak of the ordinary or inartistic man as being impartial in the retention or registry of his daily impressions, we mean, of course, in the retention or registry of his impressions as already thus far abstracted and assorted in consciousness. The artistic man, whose impressions affect him much more strongly, has the faculty of carrying much farther these same processes of abstraction, combination and selection among his impressions.
Subjective and objective ideals
The possession of this faculty is the artist's most essential gift. To attempt to carry farther the psychological analysis of the gift is outside our present object; but it is worth while to consider somewhat closely its modes of practical operation. One mode is this: the artist grows up with certain innate or acquired predilections which become a part of his constitution whether he will or no, - predilections, say, if he is a dramatic poet, for certain types of plot, character and situation; if he is a sculptor, for certain proportions and a certain habitual carriage and disposition of the limbs; if he is a figure painter, for certain schemes of composition and moulds of figure and airs and expressions of countenance; if a landscape painter, for a certain class of local character, sentiment and pictorial effect in natural scenery. To such predilections he cannot choose but make his representations of reality in large measure conform. This is one part of the transmuting process which the data of life and experience have to undergo at the hands of artists, and may be called the subjective or purely personal mode of idealization. But there is another part of that work which springs from an impulse in the artistic constitution not less imperious than the last named, and in a certain sense contrary to it. As an imitator or evoker of the facts of life and nature, the artist must recognize and accept the character of those facts with which he has in any given case to deal. All facts cannot be of the cast he prefers, and in so far as he undertakes to deal with those of an opposite cast he must submit to them; he must study them as they actually are, must apprehend, enforce and bring into prominence their own dominant tendencies. If he cannot find in them what is most pleasing to himself, he will still be led by the abstracting and discriminating powers of his observation to discern what is most expressive and significant in them, he will emphasize and put on record this, idealizing the facts before him not in his direction but in their own. This is the second or objective half of the artist's task of idealization. It is this half upon which Taine dwelt almost exclusively, and on the whole with a just insight into the principles of the operation, in his well-known treatise On the Ideal in Art. Both these modes of idealization are legitimate; that which springs from inborn and overmastering personal preference in the artist for particular aspects of life and nature, and that which springs from his insight into the dominant and significant character of the phenomena actually before him, and his desire to emphasize and disengage them. But there is a third mode of idealizing which is less vital and genuine than either of these, and therefore less legitimate, though unfortunately far more common. This mode consists in making things conform to a borrowed and conventional standard of beauty and taste, which corresponds neither to any strong inward predilection of the artist nor to any vital characteristic in the objects of his representation. Since the rediscovery of Greek and Roman sculpture in the Renaissance, a great part of the efforts of artists have been spent in falsifying their natural instincts and misrepresenting the facts of nature in pursuit of a conventional ideal of abstract and generalized beauty framed on a false conception and a shallow knowledge of the antique. School after school from the 16th century downwards has been confirmed in this practice by academic criticism and theory, with resulting insipidities and insincerities of performance which have commonly been acclaimed in their day, but from which later generations have sooner or later turned away with a wholesome reaction of distaste.
Examples of the two modes and of their reconciliation
The two genuine modes of idealization, the subjective and the objective, are not always easy to be reconciled. The greatest artist is no doubt he who can combine the strongest personal instincts of preference with the keenest power of observing characteristics as they are, yet in fact we find few in whom both these elements of the ideal faculty have been equally developed. To take an example among Florentine painters, Sandro Botticelli is usually thought of as one who could never escape from the dictation of his own personal ideals, in obedience to which he is supposed to have invested all the creations of his art with nearly the same conformation of brows, lips, cheeks and chin, nearly the same looks of wistful yearning and dejection. There is some truth in this impression, though it is largely based on the works not of the master himself, but of pupils who exaggerated his mannerisms. Leonardo da Vinci was strong in both directions; haunted in much of his work by a particular human ideal of intellectual sweetness and alluring mystery, he has yet left us a vast number of exercises which show him as an indefatigable student of objective characteristics and psychological expressions of an order the most opposed to this. And in this case again followers have over-emphasized the master's predilections, Luini, Sodoma and the rest borrowing and repeating the mysterious smile of Leonardo till it becomes in their work an affectation cloying however lovely. Among latter-day painters, Burne-Jones will occur to every reader as the type of an artist always haunted and dominated by ideals of an intensely personal cast partly engendered in his imagination by sympathy with the early Florentines. If we seek for examples of the opposite principle, of that idealism which idealizes above all things objectively, and seeks to disengage the very inmost and individual characters of the thing or person before it, we think naturally of certain great masters of the northern schools, as Dürer, Holbein and Rembrandt. Dürer's endeavour to express such characters by the most searching intensity of linear definition was, however, hampered and conditioned by his inherited national and Gothic predilection for the strained in gesture and the knotted and the gnarled in structure, against which his deliberate scholarly ambition to establish a canon of ideal proportion contended for the most part in vain. And Rembrandt's profound spiritual insight into human character and personality did not prevent him from plunging his subjects, ever deeper and deeper as his life advanced, into a mysterious shadow-world of his own imagination, where all local colours were broken up and crumbled, and where amid the struggle of gloom and gleam he could make his intensely individualized men and women breathe more livingly than in plain human daylight.
Caricature and the grotesque as modes of the ideal
It is by the second mode of operation chiefly, that is by imaginatively discerning, disengaging and forcing into prominence their inherent significance, that the idealizing faculty brings into the Sphere of fine art deformities and degeneracies to which the name beautiful or sublime can by no stretch of usage be applied. Hence arise creations like the Stryge of Notre-Dame and a thousand other grotesques of Gothic architectural carving. Hence, although on a lower plane and interpreted with a less transmuting intensity of insight and emphasis, the snarling or jovial grossness of the peasants of Adrian Brauwer and the best of his Dutch compeers. Hence Shakespeare's Caliban and figures like those of Quilp and Quasimodo in the romances of Dickens and Hugo; hence the cynic grimness of Goya's Caprices and the profound and bitter impressiveness of Daumier's caricatures of Parisian bourgeois life; or again, in an angrier and more insulting and therefore less understanding temper, the brutal energy of the political drawings of Gilray.
Unidealized imitation not fine art
Sculpture, painting and poetry, then, are among the greater fine arts those which express and arouse emotion by imitating or evoking real and known things, either for their own sakes literally, or for the sake of shadowing forth things not known but imagined. In either case they represent their originals, not indiscriminately as they are, but sifted, simplified, enforced and enhanced to our apprehensions partly by the artist's power of making things conform to his own instincts and preferences, partly by his other power of interpreting and emphasizing the significant characters of the facts before him. Any imitation that does not do one or other or both of these things in full measure fails in the quality of emotional expression and emotional appeal, and in so failing falls short, taken merely as imitation, of the standard of fine art.
The appeal of the imitative arts depends partly on non-imitative elements
But we must remember that idealized imitation, as such, is not the whole task of these arts nor their only means of appeal. There is another part of their task, logically though not practically independent of the relations borne by their imitations to the original phenomena of nature, and dependent on the appeal made through the eye and ear to our primal organic sensibilities by the properties of rhythm, pattern and regulated design in the arrangement of sounds, lines, masses, colours and light-and-shade. That appeal we noted as lying at the root of the art impulse in its most elementary stage. In its most developed stage every fine art is bound still to play upon the same sensibilities. In a work of sculpture the contours and interchanges of light and shadow are bound to be such as would please the eye, whether the statue or relief represented the figure of anything real in the world or not. The flow and balance of line, and the distribution of colours and light-and-shade, in a picture are bound to be such as would make an agreeable pattern although they bore no resemblance to natural fact (as, indeed, many subordinate applications of this art, in decorative painting and geometrical and other ornaments, do, we know, give pleasure though they represent nothing). The sound of a line or verse in poetry is bound to be such as would thrill the physical ear in hearing, or the mental ear in reading, with a delightful excitement even though the meaning went for nothing. If the imitative arts are to touch and elevate the emotions, if they are to afford permanent delight of the due pitch and volume, it is not a more essential law that their imitation, merely as such, should be of the order which we have defined as ideal, than that they should at the same time exhibit these independent effects which they share with the non-imitative group.
Necessity of due balance between conception and technique: the non-imitative arts and their technique
So far we have assumed, without asserting, the necessity that the artist in whatever kind should possess a power of execution, or technique as it is called in modern phrase, adequate to the task of embodying and giving shape to his ideals. In thought it is possible to separate the conception of a work of art from its execution; in practice it is not possible, and half the errors in criticism and speculation about the fine arts spring from failing to realize that an artistic conception can only be brought home to us through and by its appropriate embodiment. Whatever the artist's cast of imagination or degree of sensibility may be in presence of the materials of life, it is essential that he should be able to express himself appropriately in the material of his particular art. To quote the writer (R.A.M. Stevenson) who has enforced this point most clearly and vividly, perhaps with some pardonable measure of over-statement: "It is a sensitiveness to the special qualities of some visible or audible medium of art which distinguishes the species artist from the genus man." And again: "There are as many separate faculties of imagination as there are separate mediums in which to conceive an image - clay, words, paint, notes of music." ... "Technique differs as the material of each art differs - differs as marble, pigments, musical notes and words differ." The artist who does not enjoy and has not with delighted labour mastered the effects of his own chosen medium will never be a master; the hearer, reader or spectator who cannot appreciate the qualities of skill, vitality and charm in the handling of the given material, or who fails to feel their absence when they are lacking, or who looks in one material primarily for the qualities appropriate to another, will never make a critic. The technique of the space-arts differs radically from that of the time-arts. So again do those of the imitative and the non-imitative arts differ among themselves. The non-imitative arts of music and architecture are in a certain degree alike in this, that the artist is in neither case his own executant (this at least is true of music so far as concerns its modern concerted and orchestral developments); the musical composer and the architect each imagines and composes a design in the medium of his own art which it is left for others to carry out under his direction. The technique in each case consists not in mastery of an instrument (though the musical composer may be, and often is, a master of some one of the instruments whose effects he in his mind's ear co-ordinates and combines); it lies in the power of knowing and conjuring up all the emotional resources and effects of the various materials at his command, and of conceiving and designing to their last detail vast and ordered structures, to be raised by subordinate executants from those materials, which shall adequately express his temperament and embody his ideals.
The imitative arts and their technique: painting and sculpture
In the imitative arts, on the other hand, the sculptor, unless he is a fraud, must be wholly his own executant in the original task of modelling his design in the soft material of clay or wax, though he must accept the aid of assistants whether in the casting of his work in bronze or in first roughing it out from the block in marble. Too many sculptors have been inclined further to trust to trained mechanical help in finishing their work with the chisel; with the result that the surface loses the touch which is the expression of personal temperament and personal feeling for the relations of his material to nature. The artist in love with the vital qualities of form, or those of his own handiwork in expressing such qualities in modelling-clay, will never stop until he learns how to translate them for himself in marble. Proceeding to that imitative art which leaves out the third dimension of nature, and by so doing enormously increases the range of objects and effects which come within its power - proceeding to the art of painting, the painter is in theory exclusively his own executant, and in practice mainly so, though in certain schools and periods the great artists have been accustomed to surround themselves with pupils to whom they have imparted their methods and who have helped them in the subordinate and preparatory parts of their work. But the painter fit to teach and lead can by no means escape the necessity of being himself a master of his material, and his handling of it must needs bear the immediate impress of his temperament. His emotional preferences among the visible facts of nature, his feeling for the relative importance and charm of line, colour, light and shade, used whether for the interpretation and heightening of natural fact or for producing a pattern in itself harmonious and suggestive to the eye, his sense of the special modes of handling most effective for communicating the impression he desires, all these together inevitably appear in, and constitute, his style and technique. If he is careless or inexpert or conventional, or cold or without delight, in technique, though he may be animated by the noblest purposes and the loftiest ideas, he is a failure as a painter. At certain periods in the history of painting, as in the 13th and 14th centuries in Italy, the technique seems indeed to modern eyes wholly immature; but that was because there were many aspects of visible things which the art had not yet attempted or desired to portray, not because it did not put forth with delight its best traditional or newly acquired skill in portraying the special aspects with which it had so far attempted to grapple. At certain other periods, as in the later 16th and 17th centuries in the same country, the elements of inherited technical facility and academic pride of skill outweigh the sincerity and freshness of interest taken in the aspects of things to be portrayed, and the true balance is lost. At other times, as in much of the work of the 19th century, especially in England, painters have been diverted from their true task, and lost hold of intelligent and living technique altogether, in trying to please a public blind to the special qualities of their art, and prone to seek in it the effects, frivolous or serious, which are appropriate not to paint and canvas but to literature.
Technique in poetry: the magic of words
Lastly, the poet and literary artist must obviously be the exclusive master of his own technique. No one can help him: all depends on the keenness of his double sensibility to the thrill of life and to that of words, and to his power of maintaining a just balance between the two. If he is truly and organically sensitive to words alone, and has learnt life only through their medium and not through the energies of his own imagination, nor through personal sensibility to the impact of things and thoughts and passions and experience, then his work may be a miracle of accomplished verbal music, and may entrance the ear for the moment, but will never live to illuminate and sustain and console. If, on the other hand, he has imagination and sensibility in full measure, and lacks the inborn love of and gift for words and their magic, he will be but a dumb or stammering poet all his days. There is no better witness on this point than Wordsworth. His own prolonged lapses from verbal felicity, and continual habit of solemn meditation on themes not always inspiring, might make us hesitate to choose him as an example of that particular love and gift. But Wordsworth could never have risen to his best and greatest self had he not truly possessed the sensibilities which he attributes to himself in the Prelude:
"Twice five years
Or less I might have seen, when first my mind
With conscious pleasure opened to the charm
Of words in tuneful order, found them sweet
For their own sakes, a passion, and a power;
And phrases pleased me chosen for delight,
For pomp, or love."
And again, expressing better than any one else the relation which words in true poetry hold to things, he writes:
Attends the motions of the viewless winds,
Embodied in the mystery of words;
There darkness makes abode, and all the host
Of shadowy things work endless changes, - there,
As in a mansion like their proper home,
Even forms and substances are circumfused
By that transparent veil with light divine,
And, through the turnings intricate of verse,
Present themselves as objects recognized,
In flashes, and with glory not their own."
3. The Serviceable and the Non-Serviceable Arts. - It has been established from the outset that, though the essential distinction of fine art as such is to minister not to material necessity or practical use, but to delight, yet there are some among the arts of men which do both these things at once and are arts of direct use and of beauty or emotional appeal together. Under this classification a survey of the field of art at different periods of history would yield different results. In ruder times, we have seen, the utilitarian aim was still the predominant aim of art, and most of what we now call fine arts served in the beginning to fulfil the practical needs of individual and social life; and this not only among primitive or savage races. In ancient Egypt and Assyria the primary purpose of the relief-sculptures on palace and temple walls was the practical one of historical record and commemoration. Even as late as the middle ages and early Renaissance the primary business of the painter was to give instruction to the unlearned in Bible history and in the lives of the saints, and to rouse him to moods of religious and ethical exaltation. The pleasures of fine art proper among the manual-imitative group - the pleasures, namely, of producing and contemplating certain arrangements rather than others of design, proportion, pattern, colour and light and shade, and of putting forth and appreciating certain qualities of skill, truth and significance in idealized imitation, - these were, historically speaking, by-products that arose gradually in the course of practice and development. As time went on, the conscious aim of ministering to such pleasures displaced and threw into the background the utilitarian ends for which the arts had originally been practised, and the pleasures became ends in themselves.
Among the greater arts, architecture alone exist primarily for service
But even in advanced societies the double qualities of use and beauty still remain inseparable, among the five greater arts, in architecture. We build in the first instance for the sake of necessary shelter and accommodation, or for the commemoration, propitiation or worship of spiritual powers on whom we believe our welfare to depend. By and by we find out that the aspect of our constructions is pleasurable or the reverse. Architecture is the art of building at once as we need and as we like, and a practical treatise on architecture must treat the beauty and the utility of buildings as bound up together. But for our present purpose it has been proper to take into account one half only of the vocation of architecture, the half by which it impresses, gives delight and belongs to that which is the subject of our study, to fine art; and to neglect the other half of its vocation, by which it belongs to what is not the subject of our study, to useful or mechanical art. It is plain, however, that the presence or absence of this foreign element, the element of practical utility, constitutes a fair ground for a new and separate classification of the fine arts. If we took the five greater arts as they exist in modern times by themselves, architecture would on this ground stand alone in one division, as the directly useful or serviceable fine art; with sculpture, painting, music and poetry together in the other division, as fine arts unassociated with such use or service. Not that the divisions would, even thus, be quite sharply and absolutely separated. Didactic poetry, we have already acknowledged, is a branch of the poetic art which aims at practice and utility. Again, the hortatory and patriotic kinds of lyric poetry, from the strains of Tyrtaeus to those of Arndt or Rouget de Lisle or Wordsworth's sonnets written in war-time, may fairly be said to belong to a phase of fine art which aims directly at one of the highest utilities, the stimulation of patriotic feeling and self-devotion. So may the strains of music which accompany such poetry. The same practical character, as stimulating and attuning the mind to definite ends and actions, might indeed have been claimed for the greater part of the whole art of music as that art was practised in antiquity, when each of several prescribed and highly elaborated moods, or modes, of melody was supposed to have a known effect upon the courage and moral temper of the hearer. Compare Milton, when he tells of the Dorian mood of flutes and soft recorders which assuaged the sufferings and renewed the courage of Satan and his legions as they marched through hell. In modern music, of which the elements, much more complex in themselves than those of ancient music, have the effect of stirring our fibres to moods of rapturous contemplation rather than of action, military strains in march time are in truth the only purely instrumental variety of the art which may still be said to retain this character.
Other and minor arts of service subordinate to architecture
To reinforce, however, the serviceable or useful division of fine arts in our present classification, it is not among the greater arts that we must look. We must look among the lesser or auxiliary arts of the manual or shaping group. The weaver, the joiner, the potter, the smith, the goldsmith, the glass-maker, these and a hundred artificers who produce wares primarily for use, produce them in a form or with embellishments that have the secondary virtue of giving pleasure both to the producer and the user. Much ingenuity has been spent to little purpose in attempting to group and classify these lesser shaping arts under one or other of the greater shaping arts, according to the nature of the means employed in each. Thus the potter's art has been classed under sculpture, because he moulds in solid form the shapes of his cups, plates and ewers; the art of the joiner under that of the architect, because his tables, seats and cupboards are fitted and framed together, like the houses they furnish, out of solid materials previously prepared and cut; and the weaver and embroiderer, from the point of view of the effects produced by their art, among painters. But the truth is, that each one of these auxiliary handicrafts has its own materials and technical procedure, which cannot, without forcing and confusion, be described by the name proper to the materials and technical procedure of any of the greater arts. The only satisfactory classification of these handicrafts is that now before us, according to which we think of them all together in the same group with architecture, not because any one or more of them may be technically allied to that art, but because, like it, they all yield products capable of being practically useful and beautiful at the same time. Architecture is the art which fits and frames together, of stone, brick, mortar, timber or iron, the abiding and assembling places of man, all his houses, palaces, temples, monuments, museums, workshops, roofed places of meeting and exchange, theatres for spectacle, fortresses of defence, bridges, aqueducts, and ships for seafaring. The wise architect having fashioned any one of these great constructions at once for service and beauty in the highest degree, the lesser or auxiliary manual arts (commonly called "industrial" or "applied" arts) come in to fill, furnish and adorn it with things of service and beauty in a lower degree, each according to its own technical laws and capabilities; some, like pottery, delighting the user at once by beauty of form, delicacy of substance, and pleasantness of imitative or non-imitative ornament; some, like embroidery, by richness of tissue, and by the same twofold pleasantness of ornament; some, like goldsmith's work, by exquisiteness of fancy and workmanship proportionate to the exquisiteness of the material. To this vast group of workmen, whose work is at the same time useful and fine in its degree, the ancient Greek gave the place which is most just and convenient for thought, when he classed them all together under the name of , or artificers, and called the builder by the name of , arch-artificer or artificer-in-chief. Modern usage has adopted the phrase "arts and crafts" as a convenient general name for their pursuits.
III. Of the History of the Fine Arts.
Current generalizations on the history of fine art: Hegel
Students of human culture have concentrated a great deal of attentive thought upon the history of fine art, and have put forth various comprehensive generalizations intended at once to sum up and to account for the phases and vicissitudes of that history. The most famous formulae are those of Hegel, who regarded particular arts as being characteristic of and appropriate to particular forms of civilization and particular ages of history. For him, architecture was the symbolic art appropriate to ages of obscure and struggling ideas, and characteristic of the Egyptian and the Asiatic races of old and of the medieval age in Europe. Sculpture was the classical art appropriate to ages of lucid and self-possessed ideas, and characteristic of the Greek and Roman period. Painting, music and poetry were the romantic arts, appropriate to the ages of complicated and overmastering ideas, and characteristic of modern humanity in general. In the working out of these generalizations Hegel brought together a mass of judicious and striking observations; and that they contain on the whole a preponderance of truth may be admitted. It has been objected against them, from the philosophical point of view, that they too much mix up the definition of what the several arts theoretically are with considerations of what in various historical circumstances they have practically been. From the historical point of view there can be taken what seems a more valid objection, that these formulae of Hegel tend too much to fix the attention of the student upon the one dominant art chosen as characteristic of any period, and to give him false ideas of the proportions and relations of the several arts at the same period - of the proportions and relations which poetry, say, really bore to sculpture among the Greeks and Romans, or sculpture to architecture among the Christian nations of the middle age. The truth is, that the historic survey gained over any field of human activity from the height of generalizations so vast in scope as these are must needs, in the complexity of earthly affairs, be a survey too distant to give much guidance until its omissions are filled up by a great deal of nearer study; and such nearer study is apt to compel the student in the long run to qualify the theories with which he has started until they are in danger of disappearing altogether.
Herbert Spencer and the evolution theory
Another systematic exponent of the universe, whose system is very different from that of Hegel, Herbert Spencer, brought the doctrine of evolution to bear, not without interesting results, upon the history of the fine arts and their development. Herbert Spencer set forth how the manual group of fine arts, architecture, sculpture and painting, were in their first rudiments bound up together, and how each of them in the course of history has liberated itself from the rest by a gradual process of separation. These arts did not at first exist in the distinct and developed forms in which we have above described them. There were no statues in the round, and no painted panels or canvases hung upon the wall. Only the rudiments of sculpture and painting existed, and that only as ornaments applied to architecture, in the shape of tiers of tinted reliefs, representing in a kind of picture-writing the exploits of kings upon the walls of their temple-palaces. Gradually sculpture took greater salience and roundness, and tended to disengage itself from the wall, while painting found out how to represent solidity by means of its own, and dispensed with the raised surface upon which it was first applied. But the old mixture and union of the three arts, with an undeveloped art of painting and an undeveloped art of sculpture still engaged in or applied to the works of architecture, continued on the whole to prevail through the long cycles of Egyptian and Assyrian history. In the Egyptian palace-temple we find a monument at once political and religious, upon the production of which were concentrated all the energies and faculties of all the artificers of the race. With its incised and pictured walls, its half-detached colossi, its open and its colonnaded chambers, the forms of the columns and their capitals recalling the stems and blossoms of the lotus and papyrus, with its architecture everywhere taking on the characters and covering itself with the adornments of immature sculpture and painting - this structure exhibits within its single fabric the origins of the whole subsequent group of shaping arts. From hence it is a long way to the innumerable artistic surroundings of later Greek and Roman life, the many temples with their detached and their engaged statues, the theatres, the porticoes, the baths, the training-schools, the stadiums, with free and separate statues both of gods and men adorning every building and public place, the frescoes upon the walls, the panel pictures hung in temples and public and private galleries. In the terms of the Spencerian theory of evolution, the advance from the early Egyptian to the later Greek stage is an advance from the one to the manifold, from the simple to the complex, from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, and affords a striking instance of that vast and ceaseless process of differentiation and integration which it is the law of all things to undergo. In the Christian monuments of the early middle age, again, the arts, owing to the political and social cataclysm in which Roman civilization went down, have gone back to the rudimentary stage, and are once more attached to and combined with each other. The single monument, the one great birth of art, in that age, is the Gothic church. In this we find the art of applied sculpture exercised in fashions infinitely rich and various, but entirely in the service and for the adornment of the architecture; we find painting exercised in fashions more rudimentary still, principally in the forms of translucent imagery in the chancel windows and tinted decorations on the walls and vaultings. From this stage again the process of the differentiation of the arts is repeated. It is by a new evolution or unfolding, and by one carried to much further and more complicated stages than the last had reached, that the arts since the middle age have come to the point where we find them to-day; when architecture is applied to a hundred secular and civil uses with not less magnificence, or at least not less desire of magnificence, than that with which it fulfilled its two only uses in the middle age, the uses of worship and of defence; when detached sculptures adorn, or are intended to adorn, all our streets and commemorate all our likenesses; when the subjects of painting have been extended from religion to all life and nature, until this one art has been divided into the dozen branches of history, landscape, still life, genre, anecdote and the rest. Such being in brief the successive stages, and such the reiterated processes, of evolution among the shaping or space arts, the action of the same law can be traced, it is urged, in the growth of the speaking or time arts also. Originally poetry and music, the two great speaking arts, were not separated from each other and from the art of bodily motion, dancing. The father of song, music and dancing, all three, was that primitive man of whom so much has already been said, he who first clapped hands and leapt and shouted in time at some festival of his tribe. From the clapping, or rudimentary rhythmical noise, has been evolved the whole art of instrumental music, down to the entrancing complexity of the modern symphony. From the shout, or rudimentary emotional utterance, has proceeded by a kindred evolution the whole art of vocal music down to the modern opera or oratorio. From the leap, or rudimentary expression of emotion by rhythmical movements of the body, has descended every variety of dancing, from the stately figures of the tragic chorus of the Greeks to the kordax of their comedy or the complexities of the modern ballet.
Weak and strong points of Spencer's generalization
That the theory of evolution serves usefully to group and to interpret many facts in the history of art we shall not deny, though it would be easy to show that Herbert Spencer's instances and applications are not sufficient to sustain all the conclusions that he seems to draw from them. Thus, it is perfectly true that the Egyptian or Assyrian palace wall is an instance of rudimentary painting and rudimentary sculpture in subservience to architecture. But it is not less true that races who had no architecture at all, but lived in caverns of the earth, exhibit, as we have already had occasion to notice, excellent rudiments of the other two shaping arts in a different form, in the carved or incised handles of their weapons. And it is almost certain that, among the nations of oriental antiquity themselves, the art of decorating solid walls so as to please the eye with patterns and presentations of natural objects was borrowed from the precedent of an older art which works in easier materials, namely, the art of the weaver. It would be in the perished textile fabrics of the earliest dwellers in the valleys of the Euphrates and the Nile that we should find, if anywhere, the origins of the systems of surface design, whether conventional or imitative, which those races afterwards applied to the decoration of their solid constructions. Not, therefore, in any one exclusive type of primitive artistic activity, but in a score of such types equally, varying according to race, region and circumstances, shall we find so many germs or nuclei from which whole families of fine arts have in the course of the world's history differentiated and unfolded themselves. And more than once during that history, a cataclysm of political and social forces has not only checked the process of the evolution of the fine arts, but from an advanced stage of development has thrown them back again to a primitive stage. Recent research has shown how the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations in the Mediterranean basin, with their developed fine arts, must have perished and been effaced before the second growth of art from new rudiments took place in Greece. The great instance of the downfall of the Roman civilization need not be requoted. By Spencer's application of the theory of evolution, not less than by Hegel's theory of the historic periods, attention is called to the fact that Christian Europe, during several centuries of the middle age, presents to our study a civilization analogous to the civilization of the old oriental empires in this respect, that its ruling and characteristic manual art is architecture, to which sculpture and painting are, as in the oriental empires, once more subjugated and attached. It does not of course follow that such periods of fusion or mutual dependence among the arts are periods of bad art. On the contrary, each stage of the evolution of any art has its own characteristic excellence. The arts can be employed in combination, and yet be all severally excellent. When music, dancing, acting and singing were combined in the performance of the Greek chorus, the combination no doubt presented a relative perfection of each of the four elements analogous to the combined perfection, in the contemporary Doric temple, of pure architectural form, sculptured enrichment of spaces specially contrived for sculpture in the pediments and frieze, and coloured decoration over all. The extreme differentiation of any art from every other art, and of the several branches of one art among themselves, does not by any means tend to the perfection of that art. The process of evolution among the fine arts may go, and indeed in the course of history has gone, much too far for the health of the arts severally. Thus an artist of our own day is usually either a painter only or a sculptor only; but yet it is acknowledged that the painter who can model a statue, or the sculptor who can paint a picture, is likely to be the more efficient master of both arts; and in the best days of Florentine art the greatest men were generally painters, sculptors, architects and goldsmiths all at once. In like manner a landscape painter who paints landscape only is apt not to paint it so well as one who paints the figure too; and in recent times the craft of engraving had almost ceased to be an art from the habit of allotting one part of the work, as skies, to one hand, another part, as figures, to a second, and another part, as landscape, to a third. This kind of continually progressing subdivision of labour, which seems to be the necessary law of industrial processes, is fatal to any skill which demands, as skill in the fine arts, we have seen, demands, the free exercise and direction of a highly complex cluster both of faculties and sensibilities.
Reaction against over-evolution amongst the fine arts
In the second half of the 19th century a reaction set in against such over-differentiation of the several manual arts and crafts. This reaction is chiefly identified in England with the name of William Morris, who insisted by precept and example that one form of artistic activity was as worthy as another, and himself both practised and trained others in the practice of glass-painting, weaving, embroidery, furniture and wall-paper designing, and book decoration alike. His example has been to some extent followed in most European countries, and efforts have been made to reunite the functions of artist and craftsman, and to set a limit to the process of differentiation among the various manual arts. In the vocal or time arts also, a reformer of high genius and force of character, Richard Wagner, rose to contend that in music the process of evolution and differentiation had gone much too far. Music, he urged, as separated from words and actions, independent orchestral and instrumental music, had reached its utmost development, and its further advance could only be an advance into the inane; while operatic music had broken itself up into a number of set and separate forms, as aria, scena, recitative, which corresponded to no real varieties of instinctive emotional utterance, and in the aimless production of which the art was in danger of paralysing and stultifying itself. This process, he declared, must be checked; music and words must be brought back again into close connexion and mutual dependence; the artificial opera forms must be abolished, and a new and homogeneous music-drama be created, of which the author must combine in himself the functions of poet, composer, inventor, and director of scenery and stage appliances, so that the entire creation should bear the impress of a single mind; to the creation of such a music-drama he accordingly devoted all the energies of his being.
Taine's philosophy or natural history of the fine arts
It is thus evident that the evolution theory, though it furnishes us with some instructive points of view for the history of the fine arts as for other things, is far from being the whole key to that history. Another key, employed with results perhaps less really luminous than they are certainly showy and attractive, is that supplied by Taine. Taine's philosophy, which might perhaps be better called a natural history, of fine art consists in regarding the fine arts as the necessary result of the general conditions under which they are at any time produced - conditions of race and climate, of religion, civilization and manners. Acquaint yourself with these conditions as they existed in any given people at any given period, and you will be able to account for the characters assumed by the arts of that people at that period, and to reason from one to the other, as a botanist can account for the flora of any given locality, and can reason from its soil, exposure and temperature, to the orders of vegetation which it will produce. This method of treating the history of the fine arts, again, is one which can be pursued with profit in so far as it makes the student realize the connexion of fine arts with human culture in general, and teaches him how the arts of any age and country are not an independent or arbitrary phenomenon, but are essentially an outcome, or efflorescence, to use a phrase of Ruskin's, of deep-seated elements in the civilization which produces them. But it is a method which, rashly used, is very apt to lead to a hasty and one-sided handling both of history and of art. It is easy to fasten on certain obvious relations of fine art to general civilization when you know a few of the facts of both, and to say, the cloudy skies and mongrel industrial population of Protestant Amsterdam at such and such a date had their inevitable reflection in the art of Rembrandt; the wealth and pomp of the full-fleshed burghers and burgesses of Catholic Antwerp had theirs in the art of Rubens. But to do this in the precise and conclusive manner of Taine's treatises on the philosophy of art always means to ignore a large range of conditions or causes for which no corresponding effect is on the surface apparent, and generally also a large number of effects for which appropriate causes cannot easily be discovered at all.
Criticisms and counter-criticisms on Taine's methods
These considerations have resulted in a reaction against Taine's theories which goes probably too far. It is no complete confutation of his philosophy of art-history to contend, as has been done somewhat contemptuously by Professor Ernst Grosse and others, that the great artist, so far from representing the general tendencies of his time and environment, is commonly a solitary innovator and revolutionist, and has to educate and create his own public, often through years of obloquy or neglect. This is sometimes true when the traditions and ideals of art are undergoing revolution or swift experimental change, but hardly ever true in times of stable tradition and accepted ideals; and when true it only shows that the tendencies the innovating genius represents are tendencies which have till his time been working underground, and which he is born to bring into light and evidence. A new and revolutionary impulse in art, as in thought or politics, is like a yeast or ferment working at first secretly, affecting for a while only a few spirits, as a new epidemic may for a while only affect a few constitutions, and then gradually ripening and strengthening till it communicates itself to thousands. In its inception such a ferment is not, indeed, one of the obvious phenomena of the society in which it takes root, but it is none the less one of the most vital and significant phenomena. The truth is, that this particular efflorescence of human culture depends for its character at any given time upon combinations of causes which are by no means simple, but generally highly complex, obscure and nicely balanced. For instance, the student who should try to reason back from the holy and beatified character which prevails in much of the devotional painting of the Italian schools down to the Renaissance would be much mistaken were he to conclude, "like art, like life, thoughts and manners." He would not understand the relation of the art to the general civilization of those days unless he were to remember that one of the chief functions of the imagination is to make up for the shortcomings of reality, and to supply to contemplation images of that which is most lacking in actual life; so that the visions at once peaceful and ardent embodied by the religious schools of art in the Italian cities are to be explained, not by the peace, but rather in great part by the dispeace, of contemporary existence, and by the longing of the human spirit to escape into happier and more calm conditions.
Difficulty of combining the study of the manual with that of the vocal group of fine arts
Any one of the three modes of generalization to which we have referred might no doubt yield, however, supposing in the student the due gifts of patience and of caution, a working clue to guide him through that immense region of research, the history of the fine arts. But it is hardly possible to pursue to any purpose the history of the two great groups, the shaping group and the speaking group, together. At some stages of the world's history the manual and the monumental arts have flourished, as in Egypt and Assyria, when there was no fine art of words at all, and the only literature was that of records cut in hieroglyph or cuneiform on palace walls and temples, and on tablets, seals and cylinders. At other times and in other communities there has existed a great tradition and inheritance of poetry and song when the manual arts were only beginning to emerge again from the wreck of an old civilization, as in the Homeric age of Greece, or where they had never flourished at all except by imitation and importation, as in Palestine. In historic Greece all three divisions of the art of poetry, the epic, lyric and the dramatic, had been perfected, and two of them had again declined, before sculpture had reached maturity or painting had passed beyond the stage of its early severity. The European poetry of the middle ages, abundant and rich as it was alike in France and Provence, in Germany and Scandinavia, can yet not take rank, among the creations of human genius, beside the great masterpieces of Romanesque and Gothic architecture; it was in Italy only that Dante, before the end of that age, carried poetry to a place of equality if not of primacy among the arts. Taking the England of the Elizabethan age, we find the great outburst of our national genius in poetry contemporary with nothing more interesting in the manual arts than the gradual and only half-intelligent transformation of late Gothic architecture by the adoption of Italian Renaissance forms imported principally by way of Flanders or France, together with a fine native skill shown in the art of miniature portrait-painting, and none at all worth mentioning in other branches of painting or in sculpture. If the course of poetry and that of the manual arts have thus run independently throughout almost the whole field of history, those of music and the manual arts have been more widely separated still. In ancient Greece music and poetry were, we know, most intimately connected, but of the true nature of Greek music we know but little, of that of the earlier middle ages less still, and throughout the later middle ages and the earlier Renaissance the art remained undeveloped, whether in the service of the church or in secular and popular use, and in both cases in strict subservience to words. The growth of independent music is entirely the work of the modern world, and will probably rank in the esteem of posterity as its highest spiritual achievement and claim to gratitude, when the mechanical inventions and applications of applied science, which now occupy so disproportionate a part of the attention of humanity, have become a normal and unregarded part of its existence.
Moments in history there have no doubt been when literature and the manual arts, and even music, have been swept simultaneously along a single stream of ideas and feelings. Such a moment was experienced in France in 1830 and the following years, when (to choose only a few of the greatest names) Hugo in poetry, Delacroix in painting, and Berlioz in music were roused to a high pitch of consentaneous inspiration by the new ideas and feelings of romanticism. But such moments are rare and exceptional. On the other hand, it is very possible to take the whole of the shaping or manual group of fine arts together and to pursue their history connectedly throughout the course of civilization. By the history of art what is usually meant is indeed the history of these three arts with that of some of their subordinate and connected crafts. Leaving aside the arts of the races of the farther East, which, profoundly interesting as they are, have but gradually and late become known to us, and the relations of which with the arts of the nearer East and the Mediterranean are still quite obscure - leaving these aside, the history of the manual arts of architecture, painting and sculpture falls naturally into several great periods or divisions to some extent overlapping each other but in the main consecutive.
These periods are roughly as follows: -
Main divisions of the history of art
1. The period of the great civilizations of Mesopotamia and the Nile, beginning approximately about 5000 B.C. and ending, roughly speaking (but some of them much earlier), with the spread of Greek power and Greek ideas under Alexander. On the main characteristics of the art of these empires we have already had occasion to touch.
2. The Minoan and Mycenaean period, partly contemporary with the above and dating probably from about 2500 to about 1000 B.C.; our knowledge of this is due entirely to quite recent researches, confined at present to certain points in Greece and Asia Minor, in Crete and other islands in the Mediterranean basin; enough has already been revealed to prove the existence of an original and highly developed palace-architecture and of forms of relief-painting and of all the minor and decorative arts more free and animated than anything known to Egypt or Assyria. (See Crete and Aegean Civilization.)
3. The Greek and Roman period, from about 700 B.C. to the final triumph of Christianity, say A.D. 400. During the first two or three centuries of this period the Hellenic race, beginning again after the cataclysm which had swallowed up the earlier Mediterranean civilizations, carried to perfection its most characteristic art, that of sculpture, in the endeavour to embody worthily its ideas of the supernatural powers governing the world. Putting aside the monstrous gods of Egypt and the East, it found its ideals in varieties of the human form as presented by the most harmoniously developed specimens of the race under conditions of the greatest health, activity and grace. In the figures of Greek sculpture, both decorative and independent, and no doubt in Greek painting also (but of that we can only judge from such specimens of the minor handicrafts, chiefly vase-paintings, as have come down to us) - in these were set for the whole Western world the types and standards of human beauty, and in their grouping and arrangement the types and standards of rhythmical composition and design. Gradually human portraiture and themes of everyday life took their place beside representations of the gods and heroes. New schools struck out new tendencies within certain limits. But in the general standards of form and design there was in the imitative arts relatively little change, though towards the end there was much failure of skill, throughout the whole period. The one great change was in architecture. Greece had been content with the constructive system of columns and horizontal entablature, and under that system had invented and perfected her three successive modes or orders of architecture - the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The genius of Rome invented the round arch, and by help of that system erected throughout her subject world a thousand vast constructions - temple, palace, bath, amphitheatre, forum, aqueduct, triumphal gate and the rest - on a scale of monumental grandeur such as Greece had never known.
4. The Christian period, from about 400 to about 1400. The decay or petrifaction of the imitative arts which had set in during the latter days of Rome continued during all the earlier centuries of the Christian period, while the Western world was in process of remaking. Free painting and free sculpture practically ceased to exist. Roman architecture underwent modifications under the influence of the church and of the new conditions of life; the Byzantine form, touched at certain times and places with oriental influences, developed itself wherever the Eastern Empire still stood erect in decay; the Romanesque form, as it is called, in the barbarian-conquered regions of the west and north. Sculpture existed for centuries only in rudimentary and subordinate forms as applied to architecture; painting only in forms of rigid though sometimes impressive hieratic imagery, whether as mosaic in the apses and vaults of churches, as rude illumination in MSS. and service-books, or as still ruder altar-painting carried on according to a frozen mechanical tradition. As time went on and medieval institutions developed themselves, a gradual vitality dawned in all these arts. In architecture the introduction of the pointed or Gothic arch at the beginning of the 13th century led to almost as great a revolution as that brought about by the use of the round or vaulted arch among the Romans. The same vital impulse that informed the new Gothic architecture breathed into the still quite subordinate arts of sculpture and painting (the latter now including the craft of glass-painting for church windows) a new spirit whether of devotional intensity or sweetness, or of human pathos or rugged humour, with a new technical skill for its embodiment. We have not set down, as is usually done, a specifically Gothic period in art, for this reason. The characteristic of the whole Christian period is that its dominant art is architecture, chiefly employed in the service of the church, with painting and sculpture only subordinately introduced for its enrichment. It makes no essential difference that from the 5th to the 12th century the forms of this art were derived with various modifications from the round-arched architecture of the Empire, and that by the 13th century new forms both of construction and decoration, in which the round arch was replaced by the pointed, had been invented in France, and from thence spread abroad to Germany and Scandinavia, Great Britain, Spain, and last and most superficially to Italy. The essential difference only begins when the imitative arts, sculpture and painting, begin to emancipate and detach themselves, to exist and strive after perfection on their own account. This happened first and very partially in Italy with the artificers of the 13th and 14th centuries - with the sculptors Nicola, Giovanni, and Andrea Pisano; the Sienese group of painters, Duccio, Simone Martini, and the Lorenzetti; and the Florentine group, Cimabue (if Cimabue is not a myth), Giotto and the Giotteschi. The development of the rapid and flowing craft of fresco in place of the laborious and piecemeal craft of mosaic (henceforth for several centuries almost lost) was a great aid to this movement. After a period of something like stagnation, the movement received a vigorous fresh impulse soon after 1400, at about which date in Italy (not till near a century later in northern Europe) the beginning of the Renaissance is usually fixed.
5. The Renaissance period, from about 1400 to about 1600. The passion for classic literature, stimulated by the influence of Greek scholars into Italy after the fall of Constantinople; the enthusiastic revival of classic forms of architecture by architects like Brunelleschi and Alberti; the achievements in sculpture and painting of masters like Donatello and Masaccio, based on a new and impassioned study of nature and the antique together; these are the outstanding and universally known symptoms of the Italian Renaissance in the second and third quarters of the 15th century. Promptly and contemptuously in Italy, much more gradually and incompletely in the north, Gothic principles of construction and decoration were cast aside for classical principles, as reformulated by eager spirits from a combined study of Roman remains and of the text of Vitruvius. To the ideal types of devout and prayer-worn, ascetic and spiritualized humanity (tempered in certain subjects with elements of the homely and the grotesque), which the spirit of the middle ages had dictated to the sculptor and the painter, succeeded ideals of physical power, beauty and grace rivalling the Hellenic. The personages of the Christian faith and story were brought into visible kindred with those of ancient paganism. In the hands of certain artists a fortunate blending of the two ideals yielded results of a poignant and unique charm, which for us, who are the heirs both of antiquity and the middle ages, is far from being yet exhausted. At the same time, the love alike of republics, great princes, churchmen, nobles and merchants for works of art gave employment to sculptors and painters on themes other than ecclesiastical. The taste for civic or personal commemoration, for portraiture, for illustrations of allegory, romance and classic fable, covered with pictures the walls of council halls, of public and private palaces, and of villas. The invention of the oil medium by the painters of Flanders, and its gradual adoption by the Venetians and other schools of Italy for all purposes except the external decorations of buildings, added enormously to the resources of the art in rivalry with nature, and to the splendour of its results as objects of pride and luxury. The glories of matured Italian art reacted, not always favourably, on the north. The great days of Flemish painting had been from about 1430 to 1500, before any appreciable influence of the Renaissance had touched the schools of Brussels, of Bruges or of Antwerp. By about 1520 the artists of those schools had begun, except in portraiture, to lose their native vigour and originality by contact with the alien south. Among the great artists of Germany in the first half of the 16th century the work of one or two, like Burgkmair and Holbein, shows Italian influence reconciled not unsuccessfully with native instinct; but Dürer, the greatest of them, remained in all essentials Gothic and German to the end. During the last half of the century, the Netherlands and Germany alike yielded little but work of mongrel Teutonized Italian or Italianized Teutonic type, until towards its close Rubens accomplished, in the fire of his prodigious temperament, a true fusion of Flemish and Venetian qualities, at the same time closing gloriously the Renaissance period properly so called, and handing on an example which irresistibly affected a great part of modern painting.
6. Modern period, from about 1600 to the present time. During this period architecture remained in all European countries, until the 19th century, more or less completely under the influence of the Italian Renaissance. The principles of the classical revival had during a century or more of transition been gradually absorbed, first by France, then by Germany, the Low Countries, and Spain, and last by England, each country modifying the style according to its degree of knowledge or ignorance, its needs, instincts and traditions. Sculpture, which in the hands of the great masters of the earlier and later Renaissance in Italy had almost equalled its ancient glories, nay, in those of Michelangelo had actually surpassed them in the qualities at least of superhuman energy and intellectual expression - sculpture lost the sense of its true limitations, and entered, with the work of Bernini and even earlier, into an extravagant or "baroque" period of relaxed and bulging line, of exaggerated and ostentatious virtuosity. In this it followed the lead given by Italian architecture, by Jesuit church architecture especially, at and after the height of the Catholic reaction. From the monumental and memorial purposes which sculpture principally serves, it remained still, except in purely iconic uses, attached to or dependent on architecture. Not so painting, which asserted its independence more and more. In Protestant countries the old ecclesiastical patronage of the art had quite died out; in those that remained Catholic it continued, and even received a new stimulus from the anti-Protestant reaction. The demand for religious art was supplied with abundance of traditional facility, of technical accomplishment and devotional display, but with a loss of the old sincerity and inspiration. Almost all painting, even for the most extensive and monumental phases of decoration in church or palace or civic hall, was on canvas stretched over or fitted into its allotted space in the architecture, and the art of fresco, even in Venice, its last stronghold, was for a time neglected or forgotten. Portable paintings for princely or private galleries and cabinets became the chief and most characteristic products of the art. The subjects of painting multiplied themselves. All manner of new aspects of life and nature were brought within the technical compass of the painter. Besides devotional and classical subjects and portraiture, daily life in all its phases, down to the homeliest and grossest, the life of the parlour and the tavern, of field and shore and sea, with landscape in all its varieties, took their place as material for the painter. The truths of indoor and outdoor atmosphere were translated on canvas for the first time. The Dutchmen from about 1620 to 1670 were the most active innovators and path-breakers of modern art along all these lines. The greatest of them, Rembrandt, dealt, as has been said, like a master and a magician with the problems of human individuality as revealed in a mysterious colour and shadow world of his own invention. At the same time a painter of no less power in Spain, Velazquez, viewing the world in the natural light of every day, showed for the first time how vitally and subtly paint could render the relief and mutual values of figures and objects in space, the essential truth of their visible relations and reactions in the enveloping atmosphere. The achievement of these two victorious innovators has only come to be fully understood in our own day. The simultaneous conquest of Claude le Lorrain, on the other hand, over the atmospheric glow of summer and sunset on the Roman Campagna and the adjacent hills and coasts, found acceptance instantly, less perhaps for its own sake than because of the classical associations of the scenery which he depicted. The vast widening of the field of the painter's art and multiplication of its subjects, which thus took place at the dawn of the modern period, were gains attended by one drawback, the loss, namely, of the sense of high seriousness and universal appeal which belonged to the art while its themes had been those of religion and classic story almost exclusively.
Classical and romantic revivals
During the three hundred or so years of the modern period, academical schools attempting, more or less unsuccessfully, to carry on the great Italian and classical traditions of the Renaissance have not ceased to exist side by side with those which have striven to express new ways of seeing and feeling. Sometimes, as in France first under Louis XIV., and again for forty years from the beginning of the Revolution to the dawn of romanticism, such schools have succeeded in crushing out and discrediting all efforts in other directions. Between these two epochs, say from 1710 to 1780, French 18th-century ideals of social elegance and brilliant frivolity expressed themselves in forms of great accomplishment and vivacity both in poetry and sculpture, from the days of Watteau to those of Fragonard and Clodion. At the same time England produced one of the finest and at the same time most national and downright masters of the brush in Hogarth; two of the greatest aristocratic portrait-painters of the world in Reynolds and Gainsborough, each of whom modified according to his own instincts the tradition imported in the previous century by Van Dyck, the greatest pupil of Rubens (Reynolds fusing with this influence those of Rembrandt and the Venetians in almost equal shares). Pastoral landscape in the hands of Gainsborough, classical, following Claude, in those of Wilson - these together with the humble but wholesome discipline of topographical illustration led on to the ambitious, wide-ranging and often inspired experiments of Turner, and to the narrower but more secure achievements of Constable in the same field, and made this country the acknowledged pioneer of modern landscape art. In the meantime the wave of classical enthusiasm which passed over Europe in the later years of the 18th century had produced in architecture generally a return to severer principles and purer lines, in reaction from the baroque and the rococo Renaissance styles of the preceding century and a half. In Italian sculpture, the same movement inspired during the Napoleonic period the over-honeyed accomplishment of Canova and his school; in northern sculpture, the more truly antique but almost wholly imitative work of Thorwaldsen, and the pure and rhythmic grace of the English Flaxman, a true master of design though scarcely of sculpture strictly so called. The same movement again was partly responsible in English painting and illustration from about 1770 to 1820 for much pastoral and idyllic work of agreeable but shallow elegance. In French painting the classic movement struck deeper. Along with much would-be Roman attitudinizing there was much real, if rigid, power in the work of David, much accomplished purity and sweetness in that of Prud'hon. The last and truest classic of France, and at the same time in portraiture the greatest realist, Ingres, held high the standard of his cause even through and past the great romantic revival which began with Géricault and culminated in Delacroix and the school of landscape painters who had received their inspiration from Constable. The main instincts embodied in the Romantic movement were the awakening of the human spirit to an eager retrospective love of the past, and especially of the medieval past, and simultaneously to a new passion for the beauties of nature, and especially of wild nature. Germany and England preceded France in this double awakening; in both countries the movement inspired a fine literature, but in neither did it express itself so fully and self-consciously through literature and the other arts together as it did in France when the hour struck. The revival of medieval sentiment in Germany had inspired comparatively early in the century the learned but somewhat aridly ascetic and essentially unpainterlike work of the group of artists who styled themselves Nazarener. In England the same revival expressed itself during a great part of the Victorian age in an enthusiastic return to the early Gothic ecclesiastical styles of architecture, a return unsuccessful upon the whole, because in pursuit of archaeological and grammatical detail the root qualities of right proportion and organic design were too often neglected.
Allied with this Gothic revival, and stimulated like it by the persuasive conviction and brilliant resource of Ruskin in criticism was the pre-Raphaelite movement in painting. Among the artists identified with this movement there was little really in common except in impatience of the prevailing modes of empty academic convention or anecdotic frivolity. The name covered for a while the essentially divergent aims of a vigorous unintellectual craftsman like Millais, fired for a few years in youth by contact with more imaginative temperaments, of a strenuous imitator of unharmonized local colours and unsubordinated natural facts like Holman Hunt, and of born poets and impassioned medievalists like Rossetti and after him Burne-Jones. Meantime in France, putting aside the work of the great Delacroix, the impulse of 1830 expressed itself best and most lastingly in the monumental work of Daumier both in caricature and romance, the impressive and significant treatment of peasant life and labour by J.F. Millet, the vitally truthful pastoral and landscape work of Troyon, Corot, Daubigny and the rest.
Since the exhaustion of the Romantic movement, the other movements that have been taking place in European art have been too numerous and too rapid to be touched on here to any purpose. Both in sculpture and painting France has taken and held the lead. Mention has already been made of the special tendency in recent sculpture identified with the name and influence of Rodin. In painting there has been the fertilizing and transforming influence of Japan on the decorative ideals of the West; there have been successively the Realist movement, the movements of the Impressionists, the Luminists, the Neo-impressionists, the Independents, movements initiated almost always in Paris, and in other countries eagerly adopted and absorbed, or angrily controverted and denounced, or simply neglected and ignored according to the predilection of this or that group of artists and critics; there has been a vast amount of heterogeneous, hurried, confident and clamant innovating activity in this direction and in that, much of it perhaps doomed to futility in the eyes of posterity, but at any rate there has not been stagnation.
Bibliography. - To attempt in this place anything like a full bibliography covering so vast a field would be idle. Many of the books necessary to a first-hand study of the subject are cited in the article Aesthetics. The following are some of the most important writings actually referred to in the text, English translations being mentioned where they exist: Aristotle, Poetics, edited with critical notes and a translation by S.H. Butcher (1898); S.H. Butcher, Aristotle's Theory of Poetry and Fine Art, with a critical text and a translation of the Poetics (1902); Plato, Republic, bk. x. 596 ff., 600 ff. (Grote, iii. 117 ff.; Jowett, iii. 489 ff.); B. Bosanquet, Introduction to Hegel's Philosophy of Fine Art (Asthetik), translation with notes and prefatory essay (1896); The Philosophy of Art, an Introduction to the Science of Aesthetics, by Hegel and C.L. Michelet, trans. Hastie (1886); Schiller, Briefe über die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen (trans, by G.J. Weiss, with preface by J. Chapman, 1845; also in Bohn's Standard Library, 1846); Herbert Spencer, First Principles, ch. xxii.; Gottfried Semper, Der Stil (1860-1863); Hippolyte Taine, De l'idéal dans l'art (1867), Philosophie de l'art en Grèce (1869), Philosophie de l'art en Italie, Philosophic de l'art dans les Pays-Bas (translations in 5 vols. by J. Durand, New York, 1889); Karl Groos, Die Spiele der Menschen (1899; trans, by E.L. Baldwin, 1901), and Die Spiele der Tiere (2nd ed., 1907; trans, by E.L. Baldwin, 1898); Ernst Grosse, Die Anfänge der Kunst (1894; trans, in the Anthropological Series, 1894); Yrjö Hirn, The Origins of Art (1900); G. Baldwin Brown, The Fine Arts (2nd ed., 1902); Felix Clay, The Origins of the Sense of Beauty (1908). For a general history of the manual or shaping group of arts, C.J.F. Schnasse, Geschichte der bildenden Künste (2nd ed., 1866-1879), though in parts obsolete, is still unsuperseded. A very summary general view is given in Salomon Reinach, The Story of Art through the Ages (trans. by Florence Simmonds, 1904); a general history of the same group was undertaken by Giulio Carotti (English translation by Alice Todd, 1909).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)