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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

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A Painter's Views on Painting

The Old Masters and Their Pupils

THE old masters taught, not because they liked teaching, nor
yet from any idea of serving the cause of art, nor yet because
they were paid to teach by the parents of their pupils. The
parents probably paid no money at first. The masters took
pupils and taught them because they had more work to do
than they could get through and wanted some one to help
them. They sold the pupil's work as their own, just as people
do now who take apprentices. When people can sell a pupil's
work, they will teach the pupil all they know and will see
he learns it. This is the secret of the whole matter.

The modern schoolmaster does not aim at learning from
his pupils, he hardly can, but the old masters did. See how
Giovanni Bellini learned from Titian and Giorgione who both
came to him in the same year, as boys, when Bellini was 63
years old. What a day for painting was that! All Bellini's
best work was done thenceforward. I know nothing in the
history of art so touching as this. [1883.]

P.S. I have changed my mind about Titian. I don't like
him. [1897.]

The Academic System and Repentance

The academic system goes almost on the principle of offer-
ing places for repentance, and letting people fall soft, by
assuming that they should be taught how to do things before
they do them, and not by the doing of them. Good economy
requires that there should be little place for repentance, and
that when people fall they should fall hard enough to re-
member it.