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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

146                A Painter's Views

conventions ensure an effect of more or less devotional
character, and this, coupled with our reverence for the name
of Raffaelle, the sentiments arising from antiquity and foreign-
ness, and the inability of most people to judge of the work on
technical grounds, because they can neither paint nor draw,
prevents us from seeing what a mere business picture it is
and how poor the painting is throughout. A master in any
art should be first man, then poet, then craftsman; this
picture must have been painted by one who was first worldling,
then religious-property-manufacturer, then painter with
brains not more than average and no heart.

The Madonna's head has indeed a certain prettiness of a
not very uncommon kind ; the paint has been sweetened with
a soft brush and licked smooth till all texture as of flesh is
gone and the head is wooden and tight; I can see no ex-
pression in it; the hand upon the open book is as badly drawn
as the hand of S. Catharine (also by Raffaelle) in our gallery,
or even worse ; so is the part of the other hand which can be
seen ; they are better drawn than the hands in the Ecce homo
of Correggio in our gallery, for the fingers appear to have
the right number of joints, which none of those in the Cor-
reggio have, but this is as much as can be said.

The dress is poorly painted, the gold thread work being
of the cheapest, commonest kind, both as regards pattern
and the quantity allowed; especially note the meagre allow-
ance and poor pattern of the embroidery on the virgin's
bosom; it is done as by one who knew she ought to have,
and must have, a little gold work, but was determined she
should have no more than he could help. This is so where-
ever there is gold thread work in the picture. It is so on
S. Nicholas's cloak where a larger space is covered, but the
pattern is dull and the smallest quantity of gold is made to
go the longest way. The gold cording which binds this is
more particularly badly done. Compare the embroidery
and gold thread work in " The Virgin adoring the Infant
Christ/' ascribed to Andrea Verrocchio, No. 296, Room V ;
" The Annunciation " by Carlo Crivelli, No. 739, Room VIII;
in "The Angel Raphael accompanies Tobias on his Journey
into Media " attributed to Botticini, No. 781, Room V; in
" Portrait of a Lady," school of Pollaiuolo, No. 585, Room V;
in " A Canon of the Church with his Patron Saints " by