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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

276     Material for a Projected Sequel

outside Poggibonsi to San Lucchese, a church of the I2th
or isth century, greatly decayed, but still very beautiful
and containing a few naif frescoes. He told us he had sung
the Sanctus here at the festa on the preceding Sunday. In a
room adjoining the church, formerly, we were told, a refectory,
there is a very good fresco representing the " Miraculous
Draught of Fishes " by Gerino da Pistoja (I think, but one for-
gets these names at once unless one writes them down then
and there). It is dated—I think (again !)—about 1509,
betrays the influence of Perugino but is more lively and in-
teresting than anything I know by that painter, for I cannot
call him master. It is in good preservation and deserves to be
better, though perhaps not very much better, known than it
is. Our driver pointed out that the baskets in which the fishes
are being collected are portraits of the baskets still in use in
the neighbourhood.

After we had returned to London we found, in the Royal
Academy Exhibition, a portrait of our bishop which, though
not good, was quite good enough to assure us that we had not
been mistaken as to his diocese.

The Etruscan Urns at Volterra

As regards the way in which the Etruscan artists kept to a
few stock subjects, this has been so in all times and countries.

When Christianity convulsed the world and displaced the
older mythology, she did but introduce new subjects of her
own, to which her artists kept as closely as their pagan an-
cestors had kept to their heathen gods and goddesses. We
now make believe to have freed ourselves from these trammels,
but the departure is more apparent than real. Our works of
art fall into a few well-marked groups and the pictures of each
group, though differing in detail, present the same general
characters. We have, however, broken much new ground,
whereas until the last three or four hundred years it almost
seems either as if artists had thought subject a detail beneath
their notice, or publics had insisted on being told only what
they knew already.

The principle of living only to see and to hear some new
thing, and the other principle of avoiding everything with
which we are not perfectly familiar are equally old, equally