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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

on Painting                  147

Gheeraert David, No. 1045, Room XI; or indeed the general
run of the gold embroidery of the period as shown in our
gallery.*

So with the jewels; there are examples of jewels in most
of the pictures named above, none of them, perhaps, very
first-rate, but all of them painted with more care and serious
aim than the eighteen-penny trinket which serves S. Nicholas
for a brooch. The jewels in the mitre are rather better than
this, but much depends upon the kind of day on which the
picture is seen ; on a clear bright day they, and indeed every
part of the picture, look much worse than on a dull one because
the badness can be more clearly seen. As for the mitre itself,
it is made of the same hard unyielding material as the portico
behind the saint, whatever this may be, presumably wood.

Observe also the crozier which S. Nicholas is holding;
observe the cheap streak of high light exactly the same thick-
ness all the way and only broken in one place; so with the
folds in the draperies; all is monotonous, unobservant, un-
imaginativeŚthe work of a feeble man whose pains will
never extend much beyond those necessary to make him
pass as stronger than he is; especially the folds in the white
linen over S. Nicholas's throat, and about his girdleŚweaker
drapery can hardly be than this, unless, perhaps, that from
under which S. Nicholas's hands come. There is not only no
art here to conceal, but there is not even pains to conceal the
want of art. As for the hands themselves, and indeed all the
hands and feet throughout the picture, there is not one which
is even tolerably drawn if judged by the standard which
Royal Academicians apply to Royal Academy students now.

Granted that this is an early work, nevertheless I submit
that the drawing here is not that of one who is going to do
better by and by, it is that of one who is essentially insincere
and who will never aim higher than immediate success.

* Raffaelle's picture " The Virgin and Child attended by S. John
the Baptist and S. Nicholas of Bari " (commonly known as the " Ma-
donna degli Ansidei "), No. 1171, Room VI in the National Gallery,
London, was purchased in 1885. Butler made this note in the same
year; he revised the note in 1897 but, owing to changes in the gallery
and in the attributions, I have found it necessary to modernise his
descriptions of the other pictures with gold thread work so as to make
them agree with the descriptions now (1912) on the pictures them-
selves.