Skip to main content

Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

See other formats

on Painting                  153

as though their appearance in such a place at all were some-
thing that must have an explanation not obvious upon the
face of it.

Lombard Portals

The crouching beasts, on whose backs the pillars stand,
generally have a little one beneath them or some animal
which they have killed, or something, in fact, to give them
occupation; it was felt that, though an animal by itself
was well, an animal doing something was much better.
The mere fact of companionship and silent sympathy is
enough to interest, but without this, sculptured animals
are stupid, as our lions in Trafalgar Square—which, among
other faults, have that of being much too well done.

So Jones's cat, Prince, picked up a little waif in the court
and brought it home, and the two lay together and were
much lovelier than Prince was by himself.*

Holbein at Basle

How well he has done Night in his " Crucifixion " 1 Also he
has tried to do the Alps, putting them as background to the
city, but he has not done them as we should do them now.
I think the tower on the hill behind the city is the tower
which we see on leaving Basle on the road for Lucerne, I
mean I think Holbein had this tower in his head.

Van Eyck

Van Eyck is delightful rather in spite of his high finish
than because of it. De Hooghe finishes as highly as any one
need do. Van Eyck's finish is saved because up to the last
he is essentially impressionist, that is, he keeps a just account
of relative importances and keeps them in their true sub-
ordination one to another. The only difference between him
and Rembrandt or Velasquez is that these, as a general rule,
stay their hand at an earlier stage of impressionism.

* Prince was my cat when I lived in Barnard's Inn. He used to
stray into Mr. Kemp's rooms on my landing (see p. 131 ante). Mrs.
Kemp's sister brought her child to see them, and the child, playing with
Prince one day, made a discovery and exclaimed :

" Oh 1 it's got pins in its toes."

Butler put this into The Way oj all Flesh