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DAINTERS assure us that the object most call at the inn, offered to purchase the painted T difficult to imitate is the living human skin, table for a price which more than compensated There needs no artist come from the studio to the owner. tell us this. Humble critics though we be, we Fiddles, flies, dead game, and other objects can easily distinguish between the work of na- have been imitated with such fidelity as to be ture and the work of art. There have been regarded by all persons beholding them as origipainted draperies whose folds we could probe, nal or natural productions, and in a church on goblets we could place to our lips, perspective the Continent (I think at Genoa) there is a wall interiors we might walk into, water we could so cunningly painted as to lead the spectator to bathe in, flowers and fruits whose perfumes we believe that he is gazing, not upon a flat surface, might inhale; but no face or form depicted upon but upon a continuation of the sacred interior. a canvas has ever so far deceived the eye as to Several pages might be devoted to a record be mistaken for the reality.
of similar art illusions in reference to inanimate Perhaps the most successful thing in the way subjects, but, of stories in which the representaof pictorial illusion ever attempted is the famous tion of a human countenance has passed muster diorama of the siege of Paris in the Champs for the living reality, the majority are fabulous, Elysées of the French capital. In that interest. while the best authenticated have usually been ing work the painter, assisted by the mechanist, connected with certain external circumstances has produced that which, to the most practiced which have in some way assisted in the decepeye, seems a natural landscape, in which a real tion. It is related of Titian's portrait of Charles sky, real trees and buildings, real earthworks, V. that, when viewed for the first time in a semiand real cannons appear. Figures of men, paint- darkened chamber near a table at which it was ed on the flat surface of the canvas-upon which placed, the son of the Emperor began to conevery object is traced except that which consti- verse with it, being under the impression that he tutes the foreground-stand out in marvelous re- was addressing his own father. Under similar lief, and, but for their faces, might pass for human circumstances did Cardinal Pescia kneel before soldiers. Here, however, art has failed, as we Raffaele's likeness of Leo X. and present to it are not long in discovering that the representa- bulls for signature, believing the picture to be tions under our gaze are of paint and not of flesh the Pope himself. and blood.
Sculptors have endeavored to give life and Apelles, from whom so many ben trovato animation to their marble productions by the anecdotes in connection with art are derived, is employment of paint, and by tinting the eyes and reported to have painted a basket of fruit so ac- hair ; waxworks have also done their best to decurately that birds came and pecked at it. It is, ceive the eye in various ways; and a word might however, somewhat doubtful whether this may be said of that wonderful flesh-color which in be accepted as evidence of the artist's skill, when our youth was intimately associated with our we consider how easily duped are those members dolls, our toy theatres, our pantomimes, our Guy of the feathered tribe who mistake a clumsily- Fawkeses, and our silk stockings; but to these constructed scarecrow for a live peasant, or a and other efforts to reproduce the human epiderlump of chalk for a new-laid egg.
mis the moral saying, “Flesh is weak,” might not A far better instance of success in still-life unfitly be applied. painting is furnished by the story of George Mor- Since the time of Giotto and Cimabue the list land, who, being unable to pay the reckoning at of painters who have been remarkable as coloran inn, where the thriftless artist had halted dur- ists is very small indeed. Michael Angelo, though ing his vagrant wanderings, beat a hasty retreat a giant in all else that he attempted, was certainby a low window. On the landlord entering the ly not what is understood as a colorist, and since deserted chamber he beheld upon a table what Michael Angelo lived there have been innumerappeared the untouched meal of his fraudulent able artists who have succeeded in every departvisitor, but which was actually a painted repre- ment of art except that of flesh-painting. Such sentation of the food with its corresponding striking exceptions as Titian, Rembrandt, Vanplates and dishes. The landlord, at first much dyke, Velasquez, Murillo, Paul Veronese, Gioraggrieved by the non-payment of his bill and the gione, the Carracci, Correggio, Reynolds, Gainsdamage done to his furniture, was easily appeased borough, and Etty, have been few and far bewhen a certain connoisseur, who happened to tween'; and in more modern times, when art
competition has been greater than ever it was, with black or ultramarine in the shadows; and painters of their rank have been even propor- over that is scumbled thinly and smooth a warmtionately rarer.
er tint." Similarly the Adonis of Titian in the Of those who have mastered the difficult de- Colonna Palace he describes as being composed partment of color a distinction must again be of “dead-colored white, with the muscles marked made between the limner of youth and the lim- bold; the second painting has scumbled a lightner of age; for there are many who fail in the color over it ; the lights a mellow flesh-color; the one and yet succeed notably in the other. Thus shadows in the light parts of a faint purple hue; it not unfrequently happens that a portrait-paintat least, they were so at first. That purple hue er is far happier as a delineator of men than of seems occasioned by blackish shadows under, and women and children, and vice versa. Rem- the color scumbled over them. . . . I copied the brandt himself is best known by his pictures of Titian," he adds, “with white, umber, minio, elderly people, belonging, for the most part, to cinnabar, and black; the shadows thin of color.” the least comely class; though it might easily be In a memorandum-book which the English presumed that so great a master of color and portrait-painter kept in the year 1755, when he character was capable of accomplishing almost was receiving only five guineas for a head, is enanything with the brush.
tered the following recipe for flesh-painting : No subject is open to more controversy than “ Black, blue-black, white, lake, carmine, orpithat of flesh-painting, for every artist, unless he ment, yellow ochre, ultramarine, and varnish." follow a particular school or master, has his own At a later period Reynolds altered his system, as way of viewing nature. Give a dozen brothers it is pretty generally known that for his flesh he of the brush the same model to copy from, and, employed raw umber, Indian red, Vandyke brown, though the result may in each case be satisfac- yellow ochre, raw sienna, vermilion, crimson lake, tory, no two will be found to resemble each ivory-black, blue-black, and fake-white. Strange other in point of tone, harmony, and modus ope- to say, some of these pigments are altogether randi. To one the object before him has ap- avoided by more than one great colorist. peared somber and subdued; to another all is All colors were equally valuable to the late bright, vivid, and fresh; a third has been im- Spanish painter Mariano Fortuny, whose colorpressed by gray and pearly tones; a fourth has ing was as brilliant and true to nature as his gazed as through a mist or a glass which is drawing was graceful and accurate. His method dimmed by frost; while a fifth has observed as of work consisted, so to speak, in the absence of if a magnifier interposed between him and the all conventional method. He was what is termed object he has striven to imitate.
a “once" painter-that is, he endeavored to Upon one canvas the colors will have been match the object before him at once, without thickly and firmly laid, exhibiting such roughness any preliminary groundwork or subsequent reand impasto that the picture can be adequately touching. His work was accomplished piecejudged of only at a given distance. Upon an- meal, one portion being completed at a single other the hues have been placed lightly and thin- sitting before a fresh portion was begun. It is ly, displaying the utmost smoothness and deli- well known that if a head or any part thereof cacy. The flesh-tints belonging to this work did not "come right,” as artists term it, before have been secured only after many coats of paint the day's labor was over, Fortuny would wipe or have been applied, assisted by thin glazes of color scrape it clean off the canvas and begin afresh on and oil administered toward the finish; those ap- another occasion. pertaining to this have been accomplished at once Fortuny was one of the few painters who without any preparatory groundwork or subse- have succeeded in producing work which will quent retouching.
bear close inspection, and yet appear equally To the first of these two opposite methods effective when viewed at a distance. This is belong the Titian and Reynolds schools; to the generally admitted to be one of the most diffilast those of Velasquez, Vandyke, and the more cult things to accomplish in art, as it very fremodern painter Fortuny.
quently happens that a picture, however carefully Sir Joshua Reynolds, after much study of his executed and highly finished, will lose half its favorite masters and many studio experiments, charm when a few yards interpose between it arrived at the conclusion that the human epider- and the spectator, while a work which has been mis, with its lights and shadows, its middle-tints broadly treated, and can not possibly be apand grays, could best be imitated with the fewest proached, will, when inspected at a distance, and simplest colors. He was in the habit of dis- seem smooth and sufficiently complete. secting, as it were, the flesh-tints of his predeces. In one of the galleries at Florence there is a sors. Thus he would discover that a certain head man's head painted with such extraordinary atby Correggio was painted in “dead-colored white, tention to detail that every hair, over as well as under the brow, might be counted, and the shaven pink, and Rubens's madder. It would scarcely portion of the face, which is represented by in- be surprising if such a one were in doubt whethnumerable dots corresponding with those ob- er burnt sienna, mars orange, Chinese orange, servable, in a man's beardless countenance, might lemon yellow, burnt brown ochre, warm sepia, be similarly reckoned. In the same manner are sugar of lead, and dragon's blood were not conthe pores of the skin so faithfully transcribed as nected with fruit and confectionery, or whether to bear inspection through the most powerful violet carmine and burnt carmine did not belong magnifying-glass, and the eyes are treated in to heroines and martyrs of romance. Yet these such a way that an oculist might study them with and many equally strange names are perfectly advantage.
comprehensible to artists—more particularly to After contemplating this remarkable produc- those who follow the departments of landscape tion, the spectator wonders whether art has not and water-colors. achieved its completest triumph, and whether it Wilkie's favorite pigment was asphaltum, or is possible to match nature more accurately. bitumen, which at one period he used unsparingBut, with all its marvelous elaboration, and de- ly not only in his flesh-shadows but in other porceptive as the work actually is when closely ex- tions of his work. This rich, transparent brown, amined, many of its merits disappear and give which has a sirange fascination for most artists, place to blemishes when the picture is observed is, nevertheless, a most pernicious pigment, being at a given distance. For some reason, which a far from permanent, with a tendency to crack painter or a connoisseur might explain, the flesh and discolor, as is too clearly shown in many a appears as if composed of cream or wax
chef-d'æuvre of our Scottish genre painter. Some artists have pet colors, so to speak, From the earliest periods there have been which they use more freely than any others, and fashions in art as in everything else, and hence thus it is that painters of reputation are easily have arisen what are called schools of painting. recognized by the prevailing tone of their work. An artist has but to make himself remarkable Here is one for whom brown seems an indispen- for some distinguishable feature in his art, and sable pigment; here is another who appears to his manner will soon become popular. accomplish nothing without a brick-dust red; a Let him transcribe nature as if seen through third luxuriates in cream color and buff; while, a microscope, which his critics and admirers, for for a fourth, hues resembling brimstone and trea- want of a better title, call pre-Raphaelitism, and cle seem to have a strange fascination. On the soon there will gather a small army of enthusiother hand, there are those who cherish a positive asts, dubbing themselves pre-Raphaelites, who antipathy to certain colors, and who declare war paint after the same pattern. In a few years the to the (palette) knife, now to Vandyke brown, popular one alters his views and adopts the broad now to Indian red, to burnt sienna, to Ant- or slap-dash style, in direct opposition to that werp blue or to crimson lake, pigments which to hitherto approved of. Then the pre-Raphaelites, some are indispensable.
dropping their microscopes, assume the whiteMost strange and varied are the hues em- wash-brush, and lay on their colors after the fashployed by artists, and to the unlearned in such ion of scene-painters. matters it seems incomprehensible how some of Some one presently discovers that animate them should actually be required to do duty, espe- nature is best copied in the open air-an examcially in the portrayal of a human countenance. ple previously set by Titian and other early masThe very names are in many cases unfamiliar. It ters—and forthwith a number of gentlemen of would perhaps never occur to the outsider that the brush, quitting their comfortable studios, be"mummy," which he had always associated with take themselves to the house-tops or to back-garEgyptian embalmments, was a brown used by dens, and pose their models al fresco; or the some artists for their shadows. He might well master may be impressed by the belief that hube puzzled to comprehend what difference there man flesh shows to best advantage when more existed between this color and bone brown, or be- than half enveloped by shadow, in which case tween the latter and Capphah brown, manganese his enthusiastic followers place their subjects brown, Prout's brown, Vandyke brown, Verona against the solitary window of a dimly lighted brown, madderine brown, and madder brown. chamber and abandon themselves to somberness As well might he be expected to distinguish be- and gloom. tween flake white, Chinese white, permanent Most artists attach great importance to the white, silver white, barytes white; cremnitz backgrounds of their pictures. There are those white, white lead, and zinc white; or, to explain who have a preference for a bright-blue sky or a the precise nature of ceruleum, verdigris, cobalt, cloudy and stormy firmament, while others show orpiment, cadmium, oxide of chromium, smalt, off their flesh-tints against a deep, rich crimson bistre, Cassel earth, verditer, aureolin, Italian ground, a dark brown, or an invisible green. Others again consider drab, yellow, or stone-color of the sitter found to her surprise that her husmore becoming.
band had not only one hat on his head but anThe painting of a head with its harmonious other under his arm! surroundings might not inappropriately be com- Others besides Reynolds could doubt?ess suppared to a dramatic performance, in which the ply innumerable stories of a similar character. leading character is rendered more striking when What portrait-painter has not met with the douwell supported by those who fill subordinate parts ble-chinned dowager who declines to have that and by the scenic accessories. Some painters superfluity of her face introduced in her picture will, however, sacrifice everything in their work on the score of unbecomingness, or the lady with which might otherwise tend to destroy the bril- the prominent teeth who will not be represented liancy and vividness of their flesh-tints, and hence with an open mouth. How often have not gray portrait-painters are frequently careless in the hair been converted into raven black, green eyes matter of hands, dress, and other things. . into celestial blue, sallow skins into pink-and
The unfortunate artist who has not yet risen white complexions, and corpulent busts into slim to eminence and consequent independence of ac- and graceful figures? What limner of faces has tion in his profession is often sadly restricted in not been requested to be particular respecting this respect, when certain of his patrons insist the “pleasing" but artificial smirk of his sitter, upon the introduction or suppression of details and to bear in mind that there is actually no which as frequently as not prove fatal to his “tone” or “depth,” as the artist would have it, fame. Queen Elizabeth, in sitting for her por- on her fair countenance, but that it is white even trait, made it a condition that the artist should unto chalkiness, just as her skin is smooth and introduce no positive shadow in her royal coun- highly polished, and not rough and thick with tenance, and hence posterity is left with a flat as paint, as in the picture ? well as a flattered representation of her Majesty. How many gaudy costumes, jewel-bedecked The Chinese monarch who regarded the shaded fingers, impossible accessories, have not been inside of Romney's portrait of George III. as so sisted upon by patron or patroness, who is indifmuch dirt is another instance of the difficulties ferent whether the predominance of blue or any which an artist encounters in the matter of satis- other vivid color does or does not spoil the genfying patrons.
eral harmony of the picture? Reynolds has left many stories in connection with such difficulties to contend with, there with fastidious sitters. One of these refers to a is little wonder if a young and promising porgentleman who desired to be painted with his hat trait-painter frequently fails in the matter of his on his head instead of in his hand, the latter po- flesh-color. With a slight paraphrase of the sition being more customary at the period when poet, one might say of him and his handiwork, Sir Joshua chose conventional attitudes after the “Let him paint an inch thick, to this complexion manner of his old master Hudson. It is said it must come.” that when the likeness was sent home the wife
All the Year Round.
LIFE AT HIGH PRESSURE.
L OW comes it that so many great men, men which from eight cylinders can print and fold
1 that have been great benefactors of their about a hundred thousand newspapers in an kind and have left great works behind them, have hour. What but the pressure of necessity could had to live under pressure, with strained ener- ever have made machinery accomplish such wongies, and the sense of having too much to do? ders? It needs something of the same sort to It seems as if men could hardly become great take the most out of human faculties. Under under the conditions of a calm, leisurely life. A the pressure, the faculties become enlarged and man can not run at his fastest, or swim his far- quickened, and are thus capable of producing thest, in ordinary circumstances; he must be results that calm leisure never attains. running in an exciting race, or swimming for Still it is true that overwork is an evil. It is dear life, to do his best. It rarely appears what more—it is often a murderer. Sir Walter Scott, a man is capable of till he is put to his mettle. Sir James Simpson, Dr. Norman Macleod, and Necessity is a wonderful educator, a wonderful many others certainly did not live to the end of enlarger and quickener of men's faculties. We their days, and it was overwork that robbed them lately read an account of a printing-machine of the residue. No doubt, as is often said, it is not work but worry that does the mischief. But minutes when neither love nor money can eke worry is the daughter of overwork; it is having out the allowance. too little time to be patient that gives the feeling Besides saving time, the pressure of work of worry; it is having the nerves so stretched makes the mental machinery go faster. The that the slightest opposition frets them. When mind comes under an excitement which quickens a celebrated editor complained of being
all its processes. The steam gets up, and the
piston flies through the cylinder like lightning. “Overworked, overworried, Over-Croker'd, over-Murray'd,"
Pieces of work have been done in these moods
that would not or could not have been done unthe first word of his lamentation explained all the der more still and quiet conditions. If St. Paul rest. Undoubtedly, then, overwork, while a means had not led so busy a life, his epistles would have to good, is itself an evil. A distinguished man borne a different character. They would not of our acquaintance used to say that the most have the stimulating power they have. The rush desirable condition of life was to have just some- and rapidity of the apostle's mind communiwhat more to do than you could possibly accom- cates itself to his readers. The same thing is plish. Not far too much, for that would crush true, in a sense, of the speeches of most great you; but enough to check the tendency to lazi- orators. Such things could not be produced in ness, enough to supply a perpetual spur. The cold blood. Men must be on wings to do them. evil is, that it is so difficult to realize this happy If the rocket were not discharged in a sort of condition; men who are able to do much are frantic excitement, it would not describe the usually pressed to do far too much; and the beautiful curve which it traces. It is certain that warning which so often comes in the form of the leisure which busy men so naturally crave paralysis or of heart disease comes too late to would greatly restrict and impair many of their admit of a remedy.
greatest efforts. Their work might indeed be It must be accepted, we apprehend, as the done with more finish and beauty of detail, but true state of things that, while there are evils in- it would have far less of the living and quickenseparable from high pressure and overwork, the ing power to which, very probably, its chief value best that a strong man is capable of can not be is due. No doubt, if sober thought be the chief done without them. Let us observe, for exam- thing needed in a piece of work, the slower it is ple, how careful an overworked man is to make done the better ; a judge must be deliberate, and the most of his time. What an early riser he solemn, and slow; but, if the purpose be to illubecomes ! Can anything make a man start from minate, to quicken, to impel, the mind will be all the luxury of a half-waking, half-sleeping state the better of the excitement that comes from the in bed like the conviction that if he is not at pressure of too much to do. work at a given minute the whole business of the When able men are urged on in this way, it day will be thrown into arrear and inevitable con- is wonderful what they can do even in their hora fusion ? Dickens has a character somewhere subsecivæ. Sometimes it seems as if they could who says he always goes to bed with regret and never stop. They go on like the Flying Dutchrises with disgust. The pressure of work re- man, as if they were embodiments of the permoves both the regret and the disgust, for at petual motion. There is Mr. Gladstone, for exbedtime bed is welcome to the busy worker, ample. No sooner is he relieved of the burden while in the morning it is a thief and a robber. of the premiership than he is up to the neck in How much more rapidly one runs through the Homer. When people are wondering how he newspaper when there is but ten minutes for it; gets time to keep up his Greek, he is out with an or how much more quickly one transacts busi- elaborate pamphlet on Ultramontanism. Hardly ness, or makes inquiries, or goes through friendly is the ink dry when a publication is announced greetings, when dozens are waiting in the ante- on the Turkish massacres. And, when people room, let doctors and lawyers say. “Don't go are thinking him fairly exhausted, he goes through to men of leisure when you want anything done an electioneering campaign like a meteor, and
-go to busy men,” was a saying of the late delivers a succession of speeches, that for every George Moore's, of Bow Churchyard, himself a quality of powerful and brilliant oratory fill the busy man, the architect of a colossal business, whole world with astonishment. We suppose and yet able to carry on his shoulders the inter- that in his best days a similar activity must have ests of innumerable charities. In the United characterized Lord Brougham. When could he States they have a rule in some of their conven- have written his papers for the Useful Knowledge tions that speakers shall not occupy more than Society, or studied and written his chapters on two minutes. It seems to many as if a speaker Paley's “ Natural Theology”? The sparks from would need that time at least to clear his throat ; such men's anvils are equal to the chief products and yet it is wonderful what can be said in two of ordinary craftsmen. But even these men