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Full text of "The Training of the Memory in Art and the Education of the Artist ... Translated ... by L. D. Luard."

THE 

UNIVERSITY 

OF CHICAGO 

LIBRARY 



THE TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

AND 

THE EDUCATION OF THE ARTIST 



MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

LONDON • BOMBAY • CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK • BOSTON • CHICAQO 
ATLANTA • SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. 

TORONTO 



THE TRAINING 



OF 



THE MEMORY IN ART 

AND THE 

EDUCATION OF THE ARTIST 

BY 

LECOQ DE BOISBAUDRAN 

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY 
L. D. LUARD 

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

SELWYN IMAGE, MA. 

SLADE PROFESSOR OF FINE ART IN THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

191 1 



" Ainsi, le but auquel doit tendre tout professcur charge 
d'un enseignement des beaux-arts, quel qu'en soit le degre, 
est le developpement des aptitudes artistiques, naturelles, 
de chaque 61eve. Les moyens, exercices ou procedes 
d'enseignement les meilleurs sont ceux qui concourrent 
le plus surement et le plus directement a ce but." 

H. Lecoq de Boisbaudran. 



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE 

It seems astonishing that the teaching and the name 
of Lecoq de Boisbaudran should be so little known, 
even in his own country, considering how many of 
the famous French artists of the generation that has 
almost passed away were among his pupils. For the 
names of Cazin, Fantin-Latour, Legros, Lhermitte, 
Guillaume Rigamey, Tissot, among painters — and 
Whistler, and Bracquemond too> who by their associa- 
tion with Fantin, Legros, and other of his students 
fell under his influence ; of Rodin and Dalou among 
sculptors ; of Gaillard, engraver ; Roty, medallist ; 
Solon, designer of pottery ; form a very remarkable list, 
which contains more than one name of genius. It 
suggests, moreover, by its variety, that he achieved his 
aim as a teacher, which was to develop each student in 
the direction of his natural bent. 

While education cannot create genius or talent, or 
even supply their deficiencies, it must help or thwart 
their full development. Indeed, the importance of 
early education is universally admitted, for it is one 
of the ineffaceable influences upon a man's work up 
to the very end of his career. And it is because 
this book seems to me to lay down the fundamental 



vi TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE 

principles of a thorough and absolutely liberal artistic 
education, that I have taken the trouble to translate 
it. I have further been at some pains to follow up 
the subject by interviewing such of his pupils as are 
still living, to get all the information I could upon 
the author and his teaching. 

If I have not gathered very much beyond what is 
to be found in these pamphlets, it is perhaps because, 
as M. Solon wrote to me, " Lecoq was very chary of 
his words in his intercourse with his students." 

This statement is confirmed by some MSS. notes 
of her husband's early reminiscences, kindly lent me 
by Mme Fantin-Latour. They describe Lecoq's teach- 
ing as " d'ailleurs tres simple," and show how careful 
he was to take into account each student's individual 
temperament, and give him the particular counsel that 
he felt was best suited to his needs at the moment : 
"... l'un des traits les plus frappants de ses conseils, 
c'est pr£cisement le tact avec lequel, a ce propos, il 
garde la mesure toujours." He very rarely took up 
brush or charcoal when criticising his pupils' studies ; 
and never allowed them to see his own work, for fear 
lest they should be led into imitation. 

Fantin-Latour tells of the expeditions into the 
country which he and his fellows made upon Sundays 
- — often to the pond at Villebon, where they bathed and 
made memory studies of each other in the open air ; 
and of how they discovered on the outskirts of Paris 
an inn which had a high-walled garden, where Lecoq 
organised classes for working from the model out of 
doors, a great innovation in those days. 

Here is an account by one of his pupils of the 



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE vii 

first lesson he had from him : " Lecoq set me down 
to copy an engraving. When I showed him the 
result, confident that I had done it rather well and 
expecting him to praise me, he took out his pen-knife 
and with its point showed me where I had failed in 
really giving the line of the back, of the foot, and 
other parts. I set to work again, determined this 
time to win the approval which had been withheld. 
c Better,' was his comment, c but still not exact 
enough/ and again the pen-knife relentlessly pointed 
out the inaccuracies. Five times I had to make the 
drawing before he was satisfied." 

While revising the translation I have had the 
opportunity of seeing M. Rodin, who in telling me 
of his early days with Lecoq de Boisbaudran paid 
him the following tribute : " We did not fully 
appreciate at the time, Legros, and I, and the other 
youngsters, what luck we had in falling in with such 
a teacher. Most of what he taught me is assuredly 
in me still." 

In fact, the enthusiasm with which his pupils, one 
and all, speak of the value and stimulus of his teaching 
is only equalled by the affection with which they speak 
of the man himself. 

The three pamphlets which make up this book 
were written at intervals of some years. Thus " The 
Training of the Memory in Art " (U Education de la 
memoire picaresque) was published originally in 1847, 
and again in 1862 ; "A Survey of Art Teaching" (Un 
Coup d?ceil sur V ensetgnement des beaux-arts) in 1872 and 
1879 ; and " Letters to a Young Professor — Summary 



viii TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE 

of a Method of teaching Drawing and Painting " {Lettres 
h un jeune professeur — sommaire d*une methode four 
l y enseignement du dessin et dela peinture) in 1877. 

In consequence, as the French editors point out 
in a note to the collected edition of 1879, "the 
three pamphlets do not follow each other like the 
chapters of a book, but overlap upon some of the 
more essential points. They are, however, very closely 
connected through their unity of aim and principle, 
and amplify and explain each other, thus forming a 
complete statement of their author's doctrines." 

In translating the book the original order has been 
preserved, while it seemed best to retain intact the 
pamphlet called " A Survey of Art Teaching," despite a 
few parts that are merely topical. For it treats the 
subject invariably from general principles, and is far 
more than a criticism upon the teaching of the time 
at which it was written. 

The photographs of memory-drawings, which will 
be found at the end of the volume, are reproduced 
by the kind permission of Dr. Pierre Rondeau, late 
"chef-adjoint honoraire des travaux physiologiques k 
la Faculty de Medecine k Paris," a nephew of Lecoq 
de Boisbaudran, who has in his possession portfolios 
full of the pupils' drawings. I take this opportunity 
to thank him for the readiness with which he has put 
at my disposal his rights over the drawings and the 
writings left him by his uncle ; and to acknowledge 
the kindness and help which he has invariably shown 
me. 

1 wish also to thank Mme Cazin, Mme Fantin- 
Latour, and Lecoq's old pupils, MM. Rodin, 



TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE ix 

Lhermitte, Legros, Bellenger, Boutelie, Ferrier, Solon, 
Ottin, and Frederic Regamey for the readiness with 
which they gave me information upon the author and 
his methods. And further, I must acknowledge the 
help which I received from Mr. G. D. Luard in 
revising the translation. 

L. D. L. 

Paris, 191 i. 



NOTE ON THE AUTHOR'S LIFE 

Horace Lecoq de.Boisbaudran, who came of an old 
family of Poitou, was born at Paris in 1802. 

He entered the Ecole des Beaux- Arts in 18 19, and 
exhibited from 1831 to « 1844, at which date his own 
work gave way to his teaching, 

His painting was cold and hard, showing un- 
mistakable signs of a very bad education. One feels 
that he recognised this for himself, and that it was an 
incentive to him in his search for sound principles for 
teaching others. 

What he might have done as a painter if he had 
not devoted all his time to teaching is an interesting 
speculation, for his later productions show a breadth, 
a looseness, and a modernity in striking contrast to his 
early pictures ; and such was his enthusiasm that he 
continued working until the very last, even when too 
ill to leave his bed. 

I feel that he is thinking of the bad education from 
which his own work suffered, when he writes that some 
artists manage by sheer force of will to leave the wrong 
road up which their early training led them, and create 
a manner of their own, but that such c < manufactured 
originality" can never have the individuality and the 

xi 



xii NOTE ON THE AUTHOR'S LIFE 

virtue that belong to one who " has not lost his artistic 
virginity." 

Whether it was this conviction or the call of his 
genius for teaching that led him to become a teacher 
matters little ; but we should have lost more than we 
could have gained if he had remained a producer and 
not a teacher of art. For a "master teaches by his 
work, a professor by his instruction and his method." 
Of the former class we have many, of the latter not 
one who has left us so clear a notion of his principles. 

His first post was that of assistant professor at the 
Ecole Royalefrom 1841 to 1844. In 1847 he became 
professor at the School of the Legion of Honour, 
where he began his experiments in memory training. 

In 1 85 1 he submitted the results of his system to 
the Acad6mie des Beaux-Arts, and again in 1856 to 
the Society for the Encouragement of Industries. 

In addition to their approval, he received open 
encouragement from Viollet Le Due, who strongly 
advocated the adoption of his methods in an article 
that he wrote condemning the academic teaching of 
the day. In 1865 he received official recognition by 
being created a member of the Legion of Honour. 

He was authorised in 1863 to employ his own 
methods of teaching, and to open a class for memory 
training at the Ecole Imperiale, of which school he 
became the head in 1866. Yet such was the opposition 
roused by the originality of his methods, even among 
his own subordinates, that in 1869 he resigned his 
post. He continued for one year longer at the Lyc6e 
Louis Legrand, and the School of Architecture founded 
by Trelat, when he finally gave up teaching altogether. 



NOTE ON THE AUTHOR'S LIFE xiii 

Of the students that passed through his hands, it is 
only those whom he took to work with him in his 
private class that can be properly considered to be his 
pupils. And it must be remembered that most of these 
had to earn their living at a very early age, before they 
had had time to complete their artistic education. His 
interest in his pupils never waned, and many of them 
turned for counsel to the " Pere Lecoq," as he was 
affectionally called, to the end of his life. In his con- 
cern for their welfare he impressed upon them that 
an artist must be able to live if he is to produce, and 
that the surest means of earning a living by art is 
a power of drawing. He followed up this practical 
counsel by leaving certain of them money in his will. 

He looked to Qizin to carry on his teaching, and 
Cazin had the natural gifts for it. He was indeed 
in mental attitude a teacher all his life. Having, 
however, his own original work to do, he naturally 
put teaching aside, so that there has been no real 
successor in the tradition. 

Let us be thankful that at least his principles were 
laid down for us by himself, and only need to be put 
in practice with a. true understanding of their spirit to 
again produce living results. 

To those who read this book carefully the liberality 
of his outlook and the large handling of his theme 
must be evident. He was by temperament a philo- 
sopher, with an instinct for liberty and justice, and of 
a very reasonable and logical turn of mind. 

He stood for liberty of thought and practice in 
religion, as in art. For himself, he was a professed 
agnostic. " Gardons intacte la . raison," he writes, 



xiv NOTE ON THE AUTHOR'S LIFE 

" notre guide essentiel, le pr£cieux instrument de no$ 
projets passes et futurs ; et en m6me temps com- 
prenons tout ce qu'il peut y avoir d'esp£rances et de 
consolation dans ce mot, dans cette id£e, Peut-£tre." 

A good musician — -playing both piano and violin, 
with a voice fit for opera — and a man of wide culture, 
he understood the similarity of purpose of all the arts, 
and declared that some cultivation is necessary to every 
student who is to gain the width of outlook indispens- 
able to the highest production. 

He denied that an artist need be, or can be without 
injury to himself, a bad citizen, or that his conduct is 
excused by his work. 

In stature he was tall, and towards the close of his 
life bore a curious resemblance to the portrait of 
Veronese in the big " Supper of Cana " in the Louvre. 
A charcoal drawing of his own head is reproduced 
in Rigamey's pamphlet entitled " Horace Lecoq de 
Boisbaudran et ses 61&ves," * to which pamphlet I am 
indebted for the facts of his life given here. 

He was a contemporary of the great French 
painters that belong properly to the nineteenth 
century. 

He died in 1897, at the advanced age of ninety-five, 
and was buried in the Cimeti&re Montparnasse in Paris, 
without ceremony of any kind, at his expressed wish. 

While the systematic training of the memory is 
perhaps the most novel idea in his teaching, it is, as 
he is careful to remind us, only one of the parts which 
form a complete scheme of artistic education, Another 
point, worth the serious attention of all teachers, is his 

1 By Felix Regamey, published by Honore Champion. Paris, 1903. 



NOTE ON THE AUTHOR'S LIFE xv 

insistence upon the educational value of copies when 
properly employed, in moderation and with tact. 

Teaching, such as he conceived it, requires a pro- 
fessor of unusual talent, willing to devote his best 
energies to the task. Undoubtedly Lecoq's own gift 
of teaching amounted to genius, and genius of a very 
rare kind, the combination of strong personality with 
a complete power of self-efFacement. 

" If only people could understand," he writes, " the 
immense self-denial, devotion, knowledge, and breadth 
of mind that is demanded by his office, they could not 
fail to hold the teacher in the honour he deserves." 

For himself, so disinterested was he in his teaching, 
that if the force of his example and the results of his 
experience should influence art teaching, and quicken 
it to better issues, he will be receiving from posterity 
the sole honour or reward for which he cared. 



CONTENTS 



Translator's Preface 


PAGE 

V 


Note on the Author's Life 


xi 


Introduction ..... 


xxi 


The Training of the Memory in Art — 




Preface to the Edition of 1862 . 


1 


Memory of Form .... 


3 


Memory for Colour 


'24 


Advanced Study — Practical Applications . 


29 


Appendix I. . 


4i 


Appendix II. .... 


. 45 


Appendix III. . 


52 


Appendix IV. . 


53 



A Survey of Art Teaching — 

A Survey of Art Teaching 

Epilogue 

Notes to the Edition of 1879 

Appendix 

xvii 



57 

92 
100 



XV111 



CONTENTS 



Letters to a Young Professor — Summary of 
a Method of teaching Drawing and 
Painting — 



Introduction 


103 


First Letter 


107 


Second Letter 


118 


Third Letter 


123 


Fourth Letter 


131 


Fifth Letter 


154 


Epilogue 


162 


Supplementary Notes 


168 


Note on the Illustrations 


179 


Index 


. 183 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



1. Memory Drawing from Nature, by G» Bellenger, 

" Unloading Barges on the Seine." Drawn before 

the Commission of the ficole des Beaux- Arts To face p. 182 

2. Memory Drawing from Nature, by L. Lhermitte, 

" Choir Practice." Drawn before the Commission 

of the ficole des Beaux- Arts „ 

3. Memory Drawing from Nature, by L. Lhermitte, 

" In the * Bois.' " Drawn before the Commission 

of the ficole des Beaux-Arts „ 

4. Memory Drawing from Nature, by Ch. Cazin, " Viva- 

voce Examination." Drawn before the Com- 
mission of the £cole des Beaux-Arts ♦ . . „ 

5. Memory Drawing from Holbein's " Erasmus," by A. "j 

Legros V „ 

6. Holbein's " Erasmus," from the picture in the Louvre J 

7. Memory Drawing from Titian's " Laura di Dianti," ^ 

by G. Bellenger. Drawn before the Commission 
of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 

8. Titian's " Laura di Dianti," from the picture in the 

Louvre 

9. Memory Drawing from the Portrait of Guillaume de 

Montmorency, by J. Valnay 

10. Guillaume de Montmorency, from the picture in the 

Louvre 

1 1 . Memory Drawing from the Antique, by Chapron . „ 

12. Memory Drawing from the Antique, by A. Legros • „ 

These drawings fill an ordinary sheet of Ingres paper, about 
24 x 19 inches. Reproductions Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 are from 
photographs by S. L. EavestafF, 2 The Avenue, Brondesbury, 

N.W. 



INTRODUCTION 

Over questions of artistic education, whether considered 
definitely" with reference to an artistic career, or as a 
new element in the general educational curriculum of 
our young people, the authorities are to-day seriously 
concerning themselves. It seems, therefore, most 
happy, that at such a moment Mr. Luard should have 
come across M. Lecoq de Boisbaudran's three treatises 
on " The Training of the Memory in Art " ; " A Survey 
of Art Teaching" ; and " Letters to a Young Professor," 
and have been so struck by them as to undertake their 
translation into English. I call this most happy, 
because, at any rate, to my thinking, and to put it 
restrainedly, in soundness of theory and practicalness of 
method these treatises are not to be surpassed ; and I 
feel it a singular privilege that I have been honoured 
by the invitation to write this short introduction to 
them, now that for the first time they are being brought 
within the reach of all our English teachers. 

The treatises are short, systematic, eminently lucid ; 
so that there is no need for me here to analyse either 
their principles or their methods. They were written 
with a direct aim at practice, to show how step by step 

xxi 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

a pupil can be led on securely, through carefully gra- 
dated stages, from the first lesson in drawing till he 
has become a trained and fully equipped artist. This 
little book can be read through easily, yet carefully, in 
a couple of reasonable sittings ; and, if I may advise, 
for the first time it would be well so to read it, that 
one may have the author's intention and doctrine 
grasped, so to say, at once as a whole. One can after- 
wards go back upon it, considering it point by point ' 
curiously ; it calls for such consideration, and is worthy 
of it. 

But in our reading let us remember this. No 
doubt from time to time we shall be brought up against 
statements that, at first sight, strike us as strange, even 
impracticable, and this, perhaps, because they seem a 
little over-austere. Well, I say, do not let us reject 
them off-hand, but let us throughout be careful to 
remember this. Lecoq de Boisbaudran was not only a 
teacher with ideas, a theorist, a teacher of genius : he 
had immense experience of teaching, and was eminently 
a successful teacher in practice, as the names of his 
famous pupils, and their devotion to him, prove. 
What he says, then, comes to us with authority. We 
are not listening to a doctrinaire. We are listening to 
a practical man, who accomplished what he aimed at 
accomplishing, and who is telling us what it was that he 
aimed at, and by what means he accomplished it. cc If 
you follow my counsel," says he, " which I am giving 
you as frankly and as plainly as I can, I am confident 
that you, too, will arrive at no little measure of success." 

It is probable that there is nothing in Lecoq's 
teaching that will strike us more than the insistence 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

he lays upon the cultivation of the memory. This 
is fundamental with him. Now memory-drawing 
is in name, indeed, and in a certain sense in practice, 
not unfamiliar to us here in England to-day. If one 
were in a caustic humour, one might almost go the 
length of saying, it is only too familiar. Really, to 
hear some people talk, one might fancy that we had 
invented it within these few years past ! It is salutary, 
'therefore, to discover that Lecoq urged with importunity 
its value, its incomparable, indispensable value, as long 
ago as 1847, that is to say, sixty-four years since. 
But alas ! there is much to reflect upon. Between this 
great master's idea of what drawing from memory 
means and what it means for so many of us, ah ! what 
a world of difference. I write this not petulantly, not 
sarcastically, but with keen, enforced regret. For the 
truth is, how many of us just now are content with 
results merely plausible, with but tolerable impressions 
of, and approximations to, this or that, which our 
pupils have been called on to look at, and then re- 
produce ! Not so Lecoq. Here, as in everything, 
he will not let the pupil go till he has reproduced 
the object with accuracy. 

Accuracy. Just so. And accuracy of knowledge, 
accuracy of craftsmanship, this is by us poor mortals 
not easy of attainment. Its attainment means discipline; 
and discipline means trouble, disappointment, pain — 
the going back and again back on the unrelished task, 
when we are itching to be off and at play — it means 
struggle and tears. Though, thank heaven, it has its 
immense compensations, and these not only in the 
future, yet it does mean all this. Yes, we are not easily 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

to content ourselves, nor, as pupils, to be allowed easily 
to content ourselves. Let it not be thought that this 
is mere hard-hearted, unsympathetic rigorism. Educa- 
tion, beyond a doubt, need be no continuously dis- 
tasteful process : but, if it is to be sound, it cannot, 
in the nature of things, be all, or mostly, play and 
pleasantness. The point is, that it can as little be this 
in matters dealing with Art as in anything else. And 
yet here is just where we are in danger, pretty fancies 
and sentimentality seducing us clean astray. Perhaps 
nowadays, more than ever, we need warning, and to set 
ourselves on guard. 

Certainly Lecoq de Boisbaudran was no uncom- 
promising, steely rigorist. Again and again he insists 
upon the vital necessity of the character and bent of 
the pupil being carefully taken into account, and upon 
the teacher being given a free hand. Nothing is more 
characteristic in his teaching than his sympathy, his 
sedulous, wholesome effort not to impose on his pupils 
a cast-iron system ; he is always for appealing to their 
various instincts, and trying to develop these. Here, 
for example, are two of his maxims— such important 
maxims, as they seem to him, that he detaches and 
prints them apart from the rest of the text in Roman 
type : "Art is essentially individual. It is individuality 
which makes the artist." And again, "All teaching, 
that is real teaching, based upon reason and good sense, 
must make it its aim to keep the artist's individual 
feeling pure and unspoiled, to cultivate it and bring 
it to perfection." Well, at any rate there is no mis- 
taking this, it could not be put plainer ; and throughout 
the book it is insisted on perpetually, urgently. To 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

the imposition of a hard, mechanical uniformity of 
system, with its monotonous results, however skilful 
in execution, Lecoq is the sworn foe. He calls it 
stupid, disastrous, deadly ; he attributes to it much of 
the failure of modern artistic education, and of modern 
art. This is so. But as to the one matter of accuracy 
— here there must be no licence, no shuffling, no easy 
contentedness. Absolute accuracy may be unattain- 
able ; but reasonable accuracy — the qualifying word 
reasonable being interpreted pretty stiffly — this is to 
be required always, in the first stages of instruction as 
in the last ; and its attainment means great pains. 

May I be forgiven if on this point in Lecoq's teach- 
ing I seem to dwell perhaps a little over-much? My 
experience, unfortunately, is that it just now sadly needs 
emphasising. If fortune is kind, I am in hopes that 
this book will come into the hands not only of teachers 
in schools of art, but of teachers, too, in elementary 
and secondary schools, where amongst other subjects 
of a sound general education instruction in drawing, 
and even in what is called design, is now being largely 
introduced. Lecoq's treatises deal with the teaching 
of art from its beginning right through to its final 
stage. To many teachers in our elementary and 
secondary schools it may, therefore, at first glance not 
unnaturally seem as if this book had for them small 
significance. "We have no intention," they will say, 
" of training our children to be artists." Undoubtedly. 
But to confine ourselves for the moment to a single 
matter, to drawing. Now, if drawing is to be taught 
at all, there is no more fatal mistake than to suppose 
that it may mean one thing for a pupil who ultimately 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

is to become an artist, and another for the pupil to 
whom it is simply to be part of his general education ; 
or to fancy that the way of teaching it to the one may 
be different from the way of teaching it to the other. 
This, indeed, is hardly less fantastic than to imagine 
that for an astronomer, say, and an ordinary citizen the 
science of numbers may stand for different things, and 
their instruction in it be different. As to this matter 
of drawing, the only real difference between the case of 
the person studying it to become an artist, and that of 
the person studying it as part of his ordinary education, 
should be this — that the former goes through all the 
stages of instruction in the art, and the latter only 
through the preliminary stages. As Lecoq points out, 
these stages must be carefully graduated, and no pupil 
allowed to pass from one stage on to the next until he 
has mastered the earlier stage. Then, at whatever 
point he stops, he is at least so far in possession of 
sound knowledge and accomplishment ; and if, by and 
by, he desires to proceed further, he has, fortunate 
creature ! nothing to unlearn. This is the plain truth 
of the matter, but it needs driving home. Lecoq does 
drive it home in these treatises. That is why they 
may be so valuable for every kind of school as well as 
for schools of art ; and all the more valuable at a time 
when we are so much at sixes and sevens in our 
educational ideas and methods, with such a tendency 
to fantastical notions and towards making everything 
over-easy and pleasant, for ever on the look-out to hit 
on short-cuts and royal roads. Vanity of vanities ! 

I need here say no more. I sincerely hope that 
this book may be a success, and get into many hands ; 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

for all those of us who are concerned about art, and 
art education, owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Luard 
for the labour he has been at over it, and for bringing 
it under our notice. At the same time let us not be 
over-sanguine or easily disheartened. A good thing 
does not necessarily tell at once. I think it more than 
likely that many excellent, enthusiastic persons will 
call M. Lecoq's counsels old-fashioned, and complain 
that they do not show sufficient understanding of our 
modern young people's minds and ways, and are out 
of touch with our current educational ideas and 
methods. However, I am entirely sure that in the 
hands of intelligent and earnest teachers the counsel 
given in these treatises will be productive incalculably 
of sound and fruitful, though I do not say of im- 
mediately showy, results ; and so to such teachers, 
and for such results, I commend them, and commend 
them heartily. 

SELWYN IMAGE. 



20 Fitzroy Street, W. 
nth April 191 1. 



THE TRAINING OF THE MEMORY 

IN ART 



u M£me la culture de la memoire, qu'il recommande 
si particulierement, n'est au fond de sa pensee qu'une 
culture plus intense de la personnalit£ de chacun." 

Fantin-Latour's Reminiscences, 



XXX 



PREFACE TO THE EDITION OF 1862 OF 
"THE TRAINING OF THE MEMORY 
IN ART" 

Although fifteen years have passed since the first 
edition of this work, I think it better not to introduce 
any essential changes, since time and experience have 
only served to confirm the justness of my principles 
as originally laid down, and to corroborate my early 
experiments. 

The book was originally published in 1847, and I 
might perhaps have altered a few phrases here and 
there which give the impression that this is the first 
edition. But I have been too much occupied since 
then with the actual practice of teaching to make any 
further effort to attract public attention, and what I 
have done is known only to the few people who have 
seen me at work ; consequently to most people my 
method is entirely new. 

My object in publishing this second edition is to 
make known, as I promised, the later developments of 
my original idea, and by completing my treatise to 
justify its title, cc The Training of the Memory in Art." 

To the original text, which dealt especially with 
memory of form, I have added a note upon memory 
of colour. I have also written a third section, which 



2 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

summarises these two, in which I suggest a series of 
practical applications of their principles to really- 
advanced teaching. 

I do not ask that these advanced ideas of mine 
should be put into practice hastily or prematurely. I 
am content merely to state them, without entering into 
questions of how or when they could be introduced. 
In an Appendix I have added a few notes to fill 
certain gaps, to reply to criticisms, and to add various 
supplementary explanations. 

One of these notes is devoted to a short account of 
the tests to which my method was submitted by the 
Fine Art Section of the Institut and the Society for 
the Encouragement of National Industries. I also 
give the text of a report from the Academie des 
Beaux- Arts to the Minister of the Interior. 

To these official testimonials I have added the 
letters in which two very well-known artists express 
their opinion on my method ; one is from M. Leon 
Cogniet, the other from M. Horace Vernet. 

I have also given the names of many men, eminent 
in science and in art, who encouraged me in the earliest 
stages of my experiment, which is always such a 
difficult moment. My object, in so doing, is to take 
advantage of their testimony in my favour, as well as 
to show my appreciation of their kindness. I also 
wish to pay a tribute of respect to the memory of 
many among them who are no longer with us. 



MEMORY OF FORM 

Among all the intellectual faculties that are brought 
into play in the study and practice of art, there is none 
which is of such importance as the memory ; and yet, 
despite its importance, this faculty has, until now, 
never been the object of special study or of systematic 
training ; and what little cultivation it has received has 
been mostly haphazard and left to chance. 

It is just this serious gap in artistic education which 
I hope to fill by my method of memory training. 

I am sure that my first need in introducing this 
idea of mine is to allay the alarm, which is so naturally 
aroused by all innovations, by saying at once that my 
system of memory training is not intended in any 
sense to supplant the ordinary methods of art teaching. 
For it cannot dispense with the ordinary training, nor 
without it produce its best results. Itis not a question 
of disturbing or ousting the ordinary curriculum, but 
simply of adding to it and completing it. 

Let me then begin by stating that the meaning in 
which I use the word memory is that of stored observation ; 
and that in my method of training there is no intention 
of letting unthinking memory work take the place of 
intelligence, for it is my object to cultivate the two side 
by side. 

3 



4 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

These preliminary explanations and the reservations 
that they naturally imply once made, let me appeal for* 
support to the methods of teaching universally adopted 
in science and literature, where the immense importance 
attached to a memory for words and ideas is sufficiently 
shown in the assiduous care devoted to its cultivation. 
Why then is not the same care devoted to the reason- 
able cultivation of the memory of visual effects, which 
is necessarily of such prime importance in an art which 
has to reproduce them ? 

In science and literature the memory is trained by 
lessons learnt by heart, by giving a child at the outset 
only one line to learn, then a whole sentence, and later 
tasks of increasing difficulty. A memory for form 
must be trained in exactly the same way by a graduated 
series of shapes. 

In his progress from the simple to the complex, the 
beginner should learn by heart and reproduce from 
memory the simplest possible shapes, commencing with 
mere straight lines to cultivate first of all his memory 
for length and proportion. Next should come shapes 
of gradually increasing difficulty. As the exercises 
become more complex, these drawings of mere shapes 
should be followed by memory work of shading, 
modelling, and effect, until finally he attempts full 
relief from real objects. And while the subjects 
increase in difficulty, the time during which he is 
allowed to study them must be gradually reduced, 
so as to teach him to seize essentials with increasing 
rapidity. 

And just as a schoolboy, to learn his repetition, 
says it over a certain number of times, either aloud 



MEMORY OF FORM 5 

or in his head, so the draughtsman must draw and 
redraw Ms model either upon paper or mentally, as 
often as he finds it necessary to enable him to repro- 
duce the object from recollection, when it is no longer 
before him. 

In studying the methods in general use in other 
forms of education, we shall find many useful principles 
and many examples for us to follow. For instance, it 
is an accepted fact that persons whose memory has been 
cultivated early in life, remember without difficulty and 
over long periods of time things which they have seen 
or learned ; while those whose memory was neglected 
when young, manage to remember only a few things, 
and forget the greater part of what they learn. Further, 
we have for our encouragement the feats of memory 
performed by numberless savants, lawyers, actors, and 
preachers, where natural gift is so immensely fortified 
by practice. 

In art no one can seriously question the advantages, 
or even the absolute necessity of this power of working 
from memory. 1 

Without it, innumerable subjects are entirely be- 
yond us. How else can animals, clouds, water, rapid 
movement, expression, or passing effects of colour be 
recorded ? 

Think of the number of artists who find such things 

1 The value of memory work in art is indeed widely appreciated, and I hope that 
my system may be found to supply a general need. Many teachers have made an 
incomplete attempt to cultivate their pupils' memories by advising them, for instance, 
to make a sketch of the anatomy of the nude model from knowledge, or to draw him 
from recollection at the end of the week. But no one has yet attempted to formu- 
late a general and systematic method for the training of a memory for effects ; a 
method which, by taking this precious faculty at the best possible moment, would 
put it through a series of graduated exercises, a sort of gymnastic course in fact, to 
toughen and develop it until it is ready for all the various uses, of which the value 
is just beginning to be really understood. 



6 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

hopelessly beyond them ! For, owing to the lack of its 
systematic cultivation, they have only what little un- 
trained memory nature gave them, and must necessarily 
lag far behind the happy few who were born with a 
really full share of this great gift. The well-known 
name of M. Horace Vernet 1 will occur at once to 
prove how much the power of any talent is multiplied 
by the gift of memory. But besides such exceptional 
instances of men born with great natural aptitude, there 
are numbers of people who only need study and wise 
direction to achieve results no less remarkable. 

It should never be forgotten how essential this 
faculty is, not only in the higher walks of art, but also 
in the humblest. Any one must see this for himself 
who will take the trouble to analyse and consider what 
the complex act of drawing really is. It consists ia 
looking at the object with the eyes, and retaining its 
image in the memory^ whilst drawing it with the hand. 
So that even if my method helped the memory only in 
this, the humblest of its functions, it would still be of 
real value to the artist of the highest rank and the 
merest beginner alike. 

It is just because its service is so wide and far- 
reaching, that I devoted my efforts to the subject and 
made the experiments of which this book gives a short 
account. 

Before I could determine any principles on which 
to base my teaching, I had necessarily to make many 
experiments and observations for myself, for in this 
particular branch of teaching I had no predecessor to 

1 To most of us who have no real interest nowadays in Vernet's work, his name 
is not a very good example. Turner, Hokusai, or Millet would serve better. — 
Translator. 



MEMORY OF FORM 7 

guide me. Consequently my position as professor at 
the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin * was particularly fortu- 
nate, for I had there some hundreds of pupils of every 
age and degree of proficiency to experiment on. I was 
thus enabled to collect innumerable detailed facts, and 
to arrive at wide generalisations. I learnt to recognise 
the first indications of memory power and to judge 
the different degrees of natural gift, which helped me 
immensely in constructing a rational and progressive 
course of exercises, and in deciding the best age at 
which the students should begin. 

Even when my original idea had grown into a 
definite theory, it was still necessary to correct and 
confirm my theory by putting it to the test of practice. 

I was very fortunately situated for the purpose, 
for I had at the school students who were full of faith 
and enthusiasm, while the apparatus was all that I 
could need. And further, my experiment was~i;o take 
place in a public institution, under conditions which 
would establish its genuineness, and give it a wider 
publicity than could ever be the case in a private 
school. 

By the charter of the school, granted to it in 1843 
by the Minister of the Interior, the professors were 
bound to meet regularly in council under the Director 
to consider questions affecting the teaching. It was at 
one of these meetings, on the 1st of February 1847, 
that I first aired my ideas and submitted my plans to 
the judgment of my colleagues, and asked them for 
leave to begin my experiments. My proposal was 

1 This was in 1847. The school has since become the Ecole des Arts 
D6coratifs. — Translator. 



8 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

unanimously accepted, the necessary permission was 
given me, and record of the fact was made in the 
minutes of the meeting. 

I think the clearest and simplest way to make my 
method understood is to describe it in the order of its 
development, and so I will begin by giving a few details 
of my earliest experiments. 

My original intention had been to begin with two 
different classes simultaneously, the one of children of 
nine to twelve years old, the other of from twelve to 
fifteen. 

I meant with the younger class to begin from the 
very elements, by setting them to learn by heart the 
lengths of simple straight lines. I meant to follow 
these with angles of different degrees, followed by 
curves varying in difficulty. I should always have 
been most careful not to weary them with too many 
abstract forms. For abstract forms, from having no 
connection with any known objects, are lacking in 
interest, and, if complex, are exceedingly difficult to 
remember. 

Questions of the moment, however, made me put 
off this part of my plan till the following year, and I 
confined myself for the time being to the class of boys 
ranging from twelve to fifteen years of age. 

Between these ages there were ten pupils in the 
class called "la bosse elementaire " (the elementary 
class for drawing from the round). The class had been 
formed only the year before, and students belonged 
to it simply from their proficiency in other directions. 
They had never been tested at all for their memories, 
and I knew that I should find them endowed with very 



MEMORY OF FORM 9 

different natural capacities. It was also a great advant- 
age for my purpose that they were fairly well advanced 
in manual skill, being about half-way up the school. 

It was my definite opinion, as I have already stated, 
that memory work should be added to the ordinary 
curriculum, and should in no sense take its place, and 
I took good care that none of the pupils should give up 
any of their ordinary work. 

Further, I wished those who joined the memory 
class to join of their own free will, feeling sure that in 
this way I should get better progress and results. I 
therefore asked them, without using the least pressure, 
if they would not join my class. I explained the idea 
of this new study to them, emphasising the fact that it 
would be very hard work. I told them of its purpose, 
and the benefit which I believed they would derive from 
it, while I left them entire liberty of choice, to take it 
or leave it as they pleased. The eagerness with which 
they took up the idea was most encouraging, and they 
expressed great faith in its advantages for the future of 
their work in general, and particularly in the various 
special branches of art to which they meant to devote 
themselves. 

The first subject I gave them was one of the sim- 
plest details of the human face, a nose drawn in profile, 
and I allowed them some few days in which to learn it. 
But first I made them notice those characteristics of its 
form which should help to fix it in their memories, 
and explained to them its anatomical construction. 
And just as they used to learn their poetrjr and 
grammar at school, either by repeating it over and over 
again, or through learning it by the sense, so I bade 



io TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

them study the copy either by looking at it attentively 
or by drawing it repeatedly, until they could remember 
its modelling, proportions, outline, and minor forms 
exactly. I was most careful not to say that they must 
follow a particular method in doing this, for I wished 
them to have free scope for their own natural and 
individual ways of working. 

On the appointed day they handed me back the 
copies and sat down to draw the subject from 
memory. The results which they produced at this first 
attempt were very encouraging both to me and to 
themselves. The next subject that I gave them was a 
little more difficult. At the end of only three months' 
practice upon a series of carefully graduated exercises 
they were able, in drawing simple heads from memory, 
to get a very satisfactory likeness, even down to such 
details as the hair. 

I had taken immense trouble in arranging my series 
of exercises, and had every reason to be satisfied with 
the results I had obtained so far. Yet I kept altering 
their order over and over again, partly because I was 
compelled to do so by the unexpected rapidity of 
my students' progress, and partly because, as 1 kept 
reminding myself, a system must never become rigid, 
or unable to modify itself as experience suggests. 

One thing forcibly reimpressed upon me was that 
oddity and caricature are the easiest things to remember. 
The human face too is relatively easier than other 
objects, such as flowers, decorations, animals, for there 
appears to be an instinctive sympathy between man and 
his own image, whereby it is the more readily impressed 
on him. One look at a human face is sufficient to give 



MEMORY OF FORM n 

even the least practised observer a distinct impression 
of its individual character, whereas animals of the same 
species will appear to him to have faces all alike. 

I was very careful to be present at every single 
lesson, both to direct it and to ensure fair play. I 
examined the papers every time to make sure that not 
even the slightest mark that could help had been traced 
upon them. The copies were always carefully put out 
of sight and the pupils made to sit sufficiently far apart 
to prevent their getting any help from each other's 
drawing. 

It was a remarkably interesting sight to watch their 
young faces, and see a look deep and thoughtful as 
that of some solitary sage take the place of their 
naturally light-hearted expressions ; to watch them 
frowning under a mental effort such as no other of 
their studies could evoke, and such as no direct ex- 
hortation could have brought them to make. But 
their features soon relaxed, and it was with the greatest 
eagerness that they came forward to compare their 
drawings with the original. 

They worked steadily through the whole of the 
course with unfailing intelligence and enthusiasm, and 
got on very fast. And their teacher must admit that 
he learned a great deal from them, and found that their 
work, and their questions and ideas upon it, were of 
the greatest help to him in testing the value of his 
theories, and in resolving many knotty points. I 
determined to question them, while actually at work, 
upon their methods of procedure, and to lead them on 
to tell me of themselves how they set about it. And 
this I did on many different occasions, putting all sorts 



12 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

of questions to them, of which I give a few examples 
with their answers. 

Question. — When you have studied the model, and 
it has been taken away from you, and you are trying 
to draw it from memory, how do you set about it, £nd 
in what order do you proceed ? Answer. — I try to 
picture my model in my head, but I only see it in- 
distinctly. Another answer. — I see the model in my 
head. Another answer. — I see it better when I shut 
my eyes. 

Question. — What do you do when the model, or 
rather its image, is too indistinct, or even disappears 
entirely ? Answer. — It becomes more visible as I try to 
recall it ; sometimes it suddenly escapes me altogether, 
but by making efforts 1 manage to recover it. Another 
answer. — The image appears indistinct as a whole, 
but if I give my whole attention to a single detail, 
this part becomes sufficiently distinct for me to draw 
it, and this first detail helps me to recall another, and 
so I get from one bit to another until I can manage 
the whole drawing. 

Question. — It is now four months since you began 
to practice. Do you still find it as great an effort as at 
first ? Answer. — No, the image is much more distinct 
to begin with, and if it disappears I recall it almost at 
will. (This reply was endorsed by almost all the 
others.) 

It would seem then, that the image is transmitted 

by the eye to the brain, which receives it and retains it, 

and it seems certain that a regular exercise of these 

organs can bring them to a state of great perfection. 

Question. — Explain to me the means you employ to 



MEMORY OF FORM 13 

remember the model, and get it well into your head ? 
Answer. — I draw it over and over again, very often. 
Another answer. — I learn it by noticing its proportions, 
shape, and colour. 

I received this last answer with great satisfaction, for 
it showed much more intelligence. It is evident then 
that the endeavour to remember a thing forces one to 
very close study, by comparison and observation, so 
that memory work (and it is a fact of far-reaching 
importance) leads to a habit of concentration and exact 
observation. 

Although it will be readily recognised how valuable 
this is, any new idea is sure to rouse objections. And 
I think it wiser to forestall such objections by replying 
to thefn in advance, even though they might, when 
raised, only lead to a more thorough understanding 
and appreciation of the idea itself. 

Some one will say, for instance, that the habit of 
drawing by heart will injure the precious quality of 
naivete, and that after such training recollections quite 
foreign to his subject will come between the artist and 
what he is drawing, and destroy the fidelity of his 
imitation. But this danger can only occur if memory 
drawing is allowed to supplant ordinary drawing 
entirely, and against this I absolutely set my face. 
Drawing from the model in the ordinary way will 
ensure the maintenance of a high standard of accurate 
imitation, which will be further maintained if the teacher 
is careful to exact in the memory work not only a 
general resemblance to the model, but an absolute like- 
ness. And I take this opportunity of insisting upon 
this essentially important point, that it is this absolute 



i 4 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

fidelity of likeness to the model, this exactness and 
simplicity, which must be demanded of the beginner ; 
for it is the only way to cultivate accuracy and na'fvete 
of memory. It is only later, when the powers df 
correctness and precision have already been acquired, 
that he should be allowed to try and render a subject 
by interpretations, equivalents, and abstractions, in 
order to express its essential spirit, rather than itfs 
literal aspect. For such a way of working, which is 
so well suited to living and moving things, should be 
used deliberately, and should not be the outcome of 
mere inability to be really accurate. It should, in fact, 
be one faculty the more. 

Again, some one will perhaps object, on more general 
grounds, that one already meets far too many people 
who, with their overloaded memories, are walking 
dictionaries of facts, dates, prose, and poetry, and whose 
second-hand learning appears to have ousted all ideas 
of their own, so that their talk or writings are merely 
compilation and quotation. But if we take the trouble 
to examine the case of these bores, we shall soon dis- 
cover the causes of their desperate condition. First, 
there is the want of balance in the education of their 
different faculties, for it is as ridiculous to cultivate the 
memory exclusively as it is to neglect it altogether : 
next, there is the want of wise selection in the subjfects 
they have studied, for instead of filling their heads with 
quantities of ready-made ideas and phrases from all 
sorts of writers, they should have cultivated their own 
ideas and received their impressions at first hand. But 
the chief source of failure is the lack of real intelligence, 
without which the best ideas and widest learning are 



MEMORY OF FORM 15 

useless. There is not then so much excess of memory, 
in their case as there is want of judgment, of taste, of 
tact, of natural parts ; for memory is none of these 
things, nor is it imagination, still less is it genius. It 
is indeed a very valuable servant to them all, but it 
would be ridiculous to pretend that it can create them 
or do their work. 

As regards the fine arts in particular, some one will 
very likely suggest that there is in such training a 
danger of injuring individuality of style and expression. 
But there is really no reason to train the memory 
always in one way or to study one master's work too 
much, for. the field of study open to us is so wide, 
that it is very easy to avoid working too exclusively in 
one direction, the more so that our real object of study 
is nature. For nature is the living source from which 
we should always draw. If we could only imitate her 
style, it would necessarily be a style of the greatest 
originality. 

As a general reply to other objections, let me state 
that it is precisely when the memory is left entirely to 
itself that it runs the risk of becoming disastrously 
overcrowded with masses of incoherent matter ; that is 
to say, if it does not just die of atrophy. Whereas, 
under scientific teaching, there is every hope and likeli- 
hood of keeping it in a state of efficiency and directing 
it to the acquisition of useful knowledge. 

Among other points it has been proved by experi- 
ence that students of the memory class lost none of 
their exactness, but became, in fact, rather more exact 
and intelligent in their ordinary work from the model. 
I noticed indeed with great satisfaction, that after look- 



1 6 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

ing at the model, they were able to draw for a longer 
time, without the least loss of accuracy, before they 
needed to look at it again, which proves that> their 
impression was better observed and was retained for a 
longer space of time. 

As the end of the school year was approaching, it 
seemed a good moment to close our four months' 
experiment with the stimulus and test of an examina- 
tion. The subject I selected was a rather intricate 
piece of anatomy, yet despite its difficulty my pupils 
wound up this their first term's work with great credit 
by producing results that far exceeded my expectations. 
On principle, I had determined to say nothing of 
my idea until it had been very thoroughly tested ; but 
on the advice of a great many distinguished savants 
and artists, 1 I agreed to publish such results as I had 
already obtained, without waiting for the discoveries 
and modifications which must necessarily occur as my 
method was more thoroughly tested in practice. 

Although the Ecole Imperiale de Dessin offered 
a very wide and varied field for experiments, such 
experiments were necessarily influenced and restricted 
by the fact that it is primarily a school for applied art. 
There is, however, one fundamental study which 
should be made the basis of all teaching in all schools, 
and should come before any specialisation, for it is the 
parent-stem of all branches of art, however high or 
low — I mean the study of anatomy. A knowledge of 
the structure of the human body, which is in itself 
a resume of all -the forms in nature, should be 

1 I published my idea first in a magazine article in 1847, and in 1848 in a 
pamphlet called Education de la memoire pittoresque. (Here follows a list of names, 
which have been transferred to Appendix III. p. 5 z.— Translator.) 



MEMORY OF FORM 17 

considered a sort of syntax of the art of drawing, and 
as such should be learnt by heart ; just as in the 
study of languages, which by analogy is a very 
valuable guide to us, we see grammar taught to 
beginners, both to exercise the memory and to store 
it with fundamental principles. It is the master's 
business to teach the subject so interestingly as to 
prevent its becoming over dry or difficult. 

It is quite clear, that besides the great old masters, 
such as Raphael, Michael Angelo, or Rubens, those 
who devoted themselves to applied design, such as 
Cellini, Palissy, and others, also all possessed by heart 
an absolute knowledge of artistic anatomy, acquired 
through their great natural powers, if not through 
systematic training. It is this very power which gives 
them the superiority in certain directions, which so 
clearly separates them from most moderns. 

To a worker in applied art a trained memory is 
evidently as useful as it is to a pictorial artist in such 
a study as anatomy, which is a necessary part of the 
education of both of them ; but its service to the 
former does not cease here, for it is indispensable to 
him later in a number of special industries, if he is to 
be able to compose and make use of objects not before 
his eyes. And decorators and heraldic painters are a 
class of artists that are rarely able to have a model at 
hand. 

Among the graceful arts in which French taste 
stands unrivalled, and which are a source of national 
wealth and renown, are to be found the designing of 
bronzes, wall-papers, and textiles, and the arts of 
ornament in general. Such artistic trades require the 

c 



1 8 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

whole of creation to furnish them with ideas of form 
and colour. Men, animals, plants, fruits, precious 
stones, etc. are laid under contribution : all the 
creatures and things which God has clothed with such 
variety and beauty are elements for imagination, as 
she roams the fields of fancy, to play with and com- 
bine, as the spirit moves her, for the satisfaction of 
man's insatiable craving for novelty. Except in our 
memories, how can we ever hope to reconstruct 
nature's endless happy groupings once they are broken 
and scattered, especially as seen under the particular 
lighting and from the particular point of view upon 
which their effect entirely depended ? 

The introduction into elementary instruction of 
visual memory training would be the best preparation 
of a child's brain for almost every study he might 
take up later. Science, for instance, although it goes 
deeper than the mere outside appearance, still needs 
for purposes of comparison to observe and recall the 
shape and colour of objects. Mechanics, which is at 
once art, science, and industry, would derive great 
benefit from memory in the drawing and designing 
of machines. The natural sciences, namely zoology, 
botany, mineralogy, would find a memory of char- 
acteristic appearances of the greatest service. In fact 
all classifications and nomenclatures would thus lose 
their dryness and become easier to remember, because 
they would call up in the reader's mind an exact 
image of the objects they dealt with. 

I have attempted so far to give an idea of the benefit 
of visual memory as applied to industry, and of its 
importance in primary education, together with the first 



MEMORY OF FORM 19 

principles of its cultivation. Before going on to further 
considerations I must state that the ideas which follow, 
though they have a certain connection with those that 
went before, can yet be entirely dissociated from them. 
I particularly wish to make this point, to prevent any 
one supposing that I confuse together industrial, artistic, 
and general education, any more than I confound 
elementary and advanced studies. 

It is not then as an artist, so much as an observer of 
life in general, that I am going to call attention to the 
importance of visual memory in all education. 

It is very generally admitted nowadays, that any 
complete scheme of education should include the 
"polite" arts, drawing, and even painting as well. 
But the failure to understand that drawing consists of 
three faculties, accuracy of eye, skill of hand, and also 
memory, that is, the retention of one's observations, 
has caused us to overlook how valuable it is in general 
education on account of the last of these faculties alone. 
For while all three are clearly equally essential to an 
artist, the^ first two can be dispensed with in general 
education, the last never. A dim recognition of this 
fact is expressed when we say that drawing is eminently 
helpful in forming taste, but there is no clear perception 
that Tt is really observation and memory which fulfil 
this office. For iti^only when we are able to retain 
in our minds the impressions of such beautiful objects 
as we have studied, that we can possess a standard of 
taste and beauty* 

Once drawing is definitely included in general 
education, ancl " memory-observation " is given the 
importance that I attach to it, it will be quickly recog- 



20 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

nised not merely as a pleasant possession, but as a 
faculty of the first utility. And all who consider an 
education incomplete and lopsided which does not 
cultivate all our faculties, will insist upon the develop- 
ment of this faculty. Without it our brains are 
deformed and undeveloped, and its neglect is only 
comparable to the sadly persistent neglect of the left 
hand. 

Moreover, the general teaching of drawing, and the 
cultivation of observation and memory, would increase 
the taste for art, and would help to create a public who 
understood and cared for it, such as artists are always 
looking for in vain. There would be fewer people 
so hopelessly at sea in all questions of art, however 
great their judgment and perception in other subjects, 
people who fail entirely to see where the real merit lies 
in a work based upon the artistic observation of nature, 
because they have no stored observation of such A 
kind themselves. As they know everything except 
the essential elements of the art they pretend to judge, 
they always seek in works of art, not the artistic idea 
upon which it is essentially based, but some literary, 
historical, or archaeological ideas, which, though often 
happily enough associated with art, are not art itself, 
and are absolutely subordinate to it. 

The pity we feel for the blind is very similar to the 
pity that artists feel, and with very good reason, for 
the numberless people who can scarcely tell on which 
side an object is lighted, learned and well-educated as 
they often are, because they have never cultivated their 
observation. Think of all the interesting effects, 
charming contrasts, and fine harmonies this loses them. 



MEMORY OF FORM 21 

No doubt nature is so splendid that she can still make 
some impression even on their dimmed eyes ; but it is 
only when taught by art to look, to notice, and to 
remember, that we reach a full appreciation of nature's 
wonders, and so increase the more our reverence for 
their Creator. In this sense, as is too often forgotten, 
art is essentially religious. 

Memory and imagination are so closely linked that 
imagination can only use what memory has to offer her, 
producing, like chemistry from known elements, results 
completely new. How much more productive then 
must the imagination be when nourished by a cultivated 
memory, for it has at its service a store of material 
richer both in quantity and in variety, yet absolutely 
precise. We may be sure then that memory training 
is a great stimulus to artistic creation by ministering to 
and reinforcing the imagination. 

Let us take an artist, one I mean who has the true 
spirit within him, and is endowed with the peculiar 
artistic faculty for which there is no possible substitute, 
and let us suppose his memory to have been systematic- 
ally and perfectly trained from the first. Think how 
his brain would teem with chosen images. Having 
become quite early in life a master of observation, he 
would possess the power of retaining not only the 
actual appearance of places, persons, objects, and effects 
that he had once seen, but also the colour schemes 
and compositions which they had suggested to him. 
A journey, a view, a fine sky, attitudes, monuments, 
great works of art, instead of leaving only a dim 
impression upon him, a sort of dream picture in which 
nothing is clearly seen, would be permanently recorded, 



22 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

ready, so to speak,to pose to him at his pleasure, and 
to fall into schemes and combinations as his fancy or 
his emotion required. 

Kept thus in touch with fact, he could throw him- 
self without hesitation into the pursuit of the ideal with 
far less danger of lapsing into formless and impossible 
unrealities. 

Art, looking down from the heights to which she 
soars, is only too content to feel for science the same 
disdain that science shows for her, science, who still 
grudges to admit her as her equal ; and yet their 
alliance upon equal terms is necessary to intel\ectual 
fulness, of whose essence they are but opposite rtiani- 
festations. 

Before I end, I have one more brief reflection to 
make. 

Great divergence of opinion is known to exist 
between philosophers of the highest reputation upon 
the question of the origin of ideas. The majority 
consider them to be simply visual impressions retained 
by the memory. And even those who declare that 
certain ideas must belong to a different class of de- 
ductions, since we receive them by senses other than 
sight alone, allow that a great number of them are of 
purely visual origin. 

In either case we may reasonably suppose, that the 
intellect must derive the greatest assistance through cul- 
tivated observation and memory, not only in its artistic 
mental processes, but in its mental processes in general. 
For once these faculties have been strengthened by 
systematic training they will furnish the imagination, 
for its unending creativeness, from a storehouse of 



MEMORY OF FORM 23 

ideas filled with images that are clearer cut, more lasting, 
and more responsive to its will. If you do not deny 
the parallel between artistic and general intelligence you 
must admit that the science of visual memory training 
("mnemotechnie pittoresque ") takes its place of right 
in any general scheme of education. 

I will not pursue the examination of this subject 
further than to raise one more question. Would not 
the study of visual memory and its effects be a very 
simple method to apply in making at least an attempt 
to resolve some of the doubts, and perhaps even clear 
up experimentally some of the metaphysical problems 
involved in the origin and nature of ideas ; and in the 
relation of memory to imagination, etc ? These are 
advanced questions, which, for want of any possible 
proof, have at present led to nothing but interminable 
and barren altercation. 

As I make this hurried survey of the question, its 
horizons ; widen and give me glimpses of fresh fields 
of discovery .fulH5f"promise, but I must adhere to my 
original purpose and confine myself strictly to those 
questions which belong properly to my subject. 

From the study of memory for form, I am led 
naturally to the study of memory for colour. But 
this is quite a distinct faculty, entirely neglected up till 
now, which demands a method of its own, and exercises 
specially designed for its cultivation. I shall devote 
the following section to giving an account of my re- 
searches and experiments in this direction. 



MEMORY FOR COLOUR 

The training of the memory consists in general of 
two parts — memory for form and memory for colouf, 
which must not be confounded. 

To begin with, they should be cultivated quite 
separately, and we must be as careful to remember their 
differences as their similarities, for as faculties they are 
quite distinct. 

I took memory for colour, therefore, by itself, and 
tried to discover the proper method of training it. 

To this end I followed the same system that I had 
employed for memory drawing, and formed a series of 
colour studies of increasing difficulty. 

The first of these studies was the simplest combina- 
tion possible of two flat tints placed side by side, like 
differently coloured wafers. They were painted upon 
a piece of paper tinted grey. Paper of the same tint 
was distributed to the pupils, in order that they should 
make their first attempts at reproduction under condi- 
tions of opposition and contrast exactly similar to those 
of the copy. 

I thought it wisest to insist upon their using oil 
paint, which is the medium that lends itself best to 
mixing tints rapidly with absolute accuracy. And to 

24 



MEMORY FOR COLOUR 25 

accuracy too much importance cannot be attached in 
the beginning. 

I chose for the first subject complementary tints, 
because they are the most easily grasped, owing to 
the frankness of their contrasts. They also teach an 
elementary principle. 

The second subject was composed of three tints less 
definite in themselves, while their relation to each .other 
was less obvious. 

The later models were composed of series of tints, 
increasing in number, becoming gradually more complex 
and intricate. 

As there were no painting classes at the Ecole 
Imperiale de Dessin, I made my experiments with a 
certain number of boys at my own house. They were 
full of enthusiasm, but had never done any painting, 
and were, in fact, using a paint brush for the first time. 
I made them take the copies in regular order, just as 
they had done when drawing from memory. 

Some of them simply observed the subjects with the 
closest attention, others had recourse to copying them 
over and over again. All succeeded in learning them 
by heart and reciting them, so to speak, with their 
brushes. And this, too, with the most absolute 
accuracy, although they were mere colour studies, with 
no form to make the recollection of them easier, and 
were composed of very subtle and intricate gradations. 
These exercises further proved that the natural gifts of 
colour and form memory are two faculties absolutely 
distinct. 

I found very few cases of the possession of an equal 
degree of power in both directions. I discovered, 



26 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

however, during these experiments the fact that special 
practice will re-establish a true balance between them : 
and certain natural failings, such as lead an artist 
to see everything grey or yellow, for instance, were 
quickly recognised, attacked at their root, and com- 
pletely corrected. 

These exercises, of which the efficacy in correcting 
and strengthening the judgment of the eye for colour 
is established, are excellent as a preparation for the 
study of painting, if it is to be taught with the same 
order and method that is habitually followed in teach- 
ing drawing. For in most art schools a student has to 
begin by drawing straight lines and curves, followed by 
a series of features and parts of the face. But it is 
rarely that anything of the kind is attempted in teach- 
ing painting, where he is usually set to make a study 
from a head straight away. 

Would it not be more rational to let the student 
approach a task of such immense difficulty more 
gradually ? And would it not be especially useful to 
make sure first of all that his eye for colour is really 
accurate ? For no organ is more naturally liable to 
error, or so capable of being corrected and trained to 
perfection. 

The natural moment to introduce this innovation of 
mine is the moment so well known to all professors, 
when a student's keen desire to paint is beginning to 
distract him from the study of drawing, which is the 
most important and fundamental part of his education. 

By satisfying his impatience to some extent, it would 
keep him longer at his drawing, and he would thus 
gradually slip into painting when he was ripe for it. 



MEMORY FOR COLOUR 27 

These are the lines which I pursued in the follow- 
ing experiment : — 

After I had kept my students for a sufficient length 
of time painting these flat tints in oils from memory, 
I gave them some bits of still-life, followed by frag- 
ments of pictures to be learnt by heart. They finally 
succeeded in painting from memory, with a quite 
extraordinary impression of truth, landscapes and effects 
of moonlight and sunlight, observed very rapidly from 
nature. 

These results alone, even putting aside all possible 
further developments, are sufficient to prove that the 
faculty of judging and remembering colour is sus- 
ceptible of immense development. Under this new 
method it becomes much more flexible, and can be 
developed and maintained in a state of all-round 
efficiency. 

Artists, who by their genius have divined certain 
laws of colour, or savants, who have worked them out 
by force of reasoning, will find that my method is in no 
sense in opposition to them, but is a reasonable system 
of developing the necessary faculties to a state of readi- 
ness to receive and profit by their advanced teaching. 1 

It is easy to see the great services that a trained 
sense of colour must render in the numberless trades in 
which taste and daintiness play so great a part. In 
the manufacture of carpets, stuffs, wall-papers, or 
decorative painting a constant appeal is made to the 

1 Besides the number of true colourists whose work and counsel are very 
instructive, there are many fervent admirers of the old Venetian and Flemish 
schools of painting who are making great efforts to recover their secrets and 
traditions ; and many men of science who are, from various points of view, making 
very interesting researches in the study of colour. Among such works I must 
mention M. ChevreuFs important book upon contrasts. 



28 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

imagination to provide schemes of colour, upon which 
the success of such things almost entirely depends. 

As regards painting in the full meaning of the word, 
memory for colour is, in the sense that I attach to it, 
the absolute condition of its existence. 

For through it alone can we reap the full benefit of 
the splendid lessons of the great masters of colour, or 
the still more splendid lessons which nature displays 
before us every day. In the inexhaustible variety of 
her colour she spreads her harmonies in unending 
modulations upon the heavens, the woods, the waters, 
the mists, and the countless thousands of her living 
creatures, until in man, in his highest type, she gives 
an echo of them all without repeating any of them ; as 
if, indeed, it was the purpose of the great Artist that 
the world should be one vast scheme of decoration 
tuned to subordinate harmony with his noblest creature, 
to serve but as a setting for his sovereign beauty. 
Nature scatters her lovely pageantry of colour far and 
wide for all men to look upon, but he alone will seize 
and fix her fleeting beauties who can store them in his 
memory. 



ADVANCED STUDY— PRACTICAL 
APPLICATIONS 

After a preliminary degree of memory for form and 
colour has been acquired, through the exercises de- 
scribed above, it is possible to begin the more advanced 
course of its application to artistic ends. For this is 
the way to complete the training of the memory in art, 
and to make its full range of usefulness really under- 
stood. 

I might restrict myself to deducing theoretically 
the consequences which should result from the studies 
that I have been describing, but I prefer to continue 
in the course I have hitherto pursued, by basing 
theory upon the results of practice. 

My students had been trained to the proficiency 
necessary to my experiment, and encouraged by their 
past successes had gained confidence in their own 
powers, so that when I sketched to them the pro- 
gramme of the new work they were to undertake, 
they showed the liveliest interest in the prospects it 
held out, and hailed it as a pleasure trip with all that 
splendid " go " of youth from which such fine results 
can and should be obtained. 

I will give a short account of these experiments. 

It was agreed that master and pupils should meet 

29 



3 o TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

in a most beautiful spot, a sort of natural park. The 
deep shadows thrown by the great trees in full leaf 
contrasted sharply with the blaze of light with which 
the open glade was flooded. A pond full of reflec- 
tions lay at their feet. It was a perfect place, offering 
endless backgrounds for the human figure, with every 
possible effect and range of light and shade, exacdy 
satisfying the purpose that I had in view. The 
models I had hired for the occasion had to walk, run, 
sit, and stand about in natural attitudes, either naked 
like the fauns of old, or clothed in draperies of 
different styles and colours. 

The sight, odd enough to outsiders, was full of 
interest and instruction for my pupils, as it must 
have been for any artist. The poor hirelings of the 
life -class were transfigured, as it were, by their 
splendid living setting. Here were no stiff, fagged 
models perched on the traditional throne, weighing 
heavily on the conventional stick or string ; here was 
man, the chosen of life's creatures, in all his strength, 
in all his beauty, moving in his kingdom with all the 
grace that is born of freedom, and giving birth at 
every step to beautiful lines of harmony or of contrast. 

Often we would stop one of them with a shout, 
and beg him to stay a moment in some chance attitude 
that had struck us all. Often as he passed beneath 
the sweeping boughs of some great tree he would 
be bathed in transparent shadow, or mounting some 
rising ground would stand out boldly against the sky. 

Once our admiration rose to the highest enthusiasm. 
One of our models, a man of splendid stature, with a 
great sweeping beard, lay at rest upon the bank of the 



ADVANCED STUDY 31 

pond, close to a group of rushes, in an attitude at once 
easy and beautiful. The illusion was complete — 
mythology made true lived before our eyes, for there 
before us was a river -god of old, ruling in quiet 
dignity over the course of his waters ! 

But our real business was not only to look on and 
enjoy these pictures, but to observe them rapidly, so 
as to be able to record with pencil or brush, from 
memory, either the actual appearance at the moment 
or the ideal picture that it suggested. 

And this task was attempted on the following days 
by all those pupils whose memories were sufficiently 
trained for it ; and it made them really understand 
the purpose of this unusual training, for without it 
all their fine impressions would have faded away 
rapidly like dreams. 

While I allowed none of them to shirk giving some 
account of their powers, either in colour or black and 
white, I allowed them entire liberty to choose the 
impression that had most vividly struck them. In this 
way I was enabled to discover their differences of 
artistic bent. I noticed that some of them, though 
not insensible to the beauty of the human figure, had 
yet subordinated it to the surrounding landscape, which 
clearly had made the most impression on them. 

We also brought back a sheaf of impressions suit- 
able to applied and decorative art. On the edge of 
the wood a fine tree caught our eyes. Its trunk was 
covered with bark grooved as regularly as a fluted 
column and encircled by ivy leaves, placed by nature 
with so perfect an art that it was impossible not to 
think of the graceful ornamented columns left us by 



32 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

the Renaissance. I took the opportunity to point out 
how much the artists of that period, which was so full 
of naive fancy, had borrowed from the rich storehouse 
of nature's plant-forms. 

This little lesson bore good fruit, and several of my 
young audience were not long in finding among the 
plants and foliage decorative and ornamental combina- 
tions that suggested charming and original motives for 
applied art. 

It was by quite another class of subject, and in an 
entirely different setting, that our artistic interest was 
excited a few days later. The clever architect of one 
of our public buildings was good-natured enough to 
put at my disposal several spacious halls of a severe 
type of architecture before they were thrown open to 
the public. 1 

It is difficult to imagine the noble effect that was 
made by figures in fin^ draperies as they passed through 
the great doorways, leaned upon the balustrades, or 
stepped majestically down the monumental stair. 

It was with the keenest interest that I watched the 
impression that these various scenes produced upon my 
boys. Art study appeared to them under an entirely 
new aspect full of attractiveness. They marvelled as 
they discovered the unsuspected stores of beauty hidden 
in nature ; they longed to seize them, and possess 
them all. 

Many of the drawings and paintings done under 
such stimulus were most successful, even from the 
very first ; and the experiment, though only in its 

1 The Palais de Justice. Some of these sketches in colour are in Dr. Rondeau's 
collection. — Translator. 



ADVANCED STUDY 33 

infancy, may be considered to have been highly sug- 
gestive and convincing. 

Unfortunately these exercises could not be repeated 
very often, partly because places for them were so hard 
to find, partly because the older of my pupils were 
almost all engaged in various trades, and were unable 
to give all the time they wished to their artistic studies. 
Such difficulties would not exist, or at least would 
hardly exist, in any great school of art which chose to 
make its teaching more complete in this manner. For 
it could combine all the conditions most favourable to 
success, being able to have all the models, draperies, 
costumes, and apparatus best suited to the purpose. 
In the name of art it would have no difficulty in getting 
placed at its disposal parks and public buildings, and 
that too at regular times. And best of all, it would 
have first class students, who had been prepared by the 
right preliminary training to set to work at once upon 
this new course of " Higher Instruction," as I call it. 
Such students, with their thoroughly trained powers of 
observation, would be very responsive to all impressions, 
while the school would be able to show them subjects 
worth the remembering, which would form their taste 
and direct it to the higher walks of art. Also the 
masterpieces in Exhibitions and Museums to which 
it directed their attention would leave upon their 
thoroughly trained minds the most vivid impressions, 
both lasting and fruitful. 

But the valuable lessons to be learnt from the past 
and from the great masters, are not enough, for nature's 
lessons are still more necessary. 

While the study of the life model, as ordinarily 



34 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

understood and practised, should be carefully retained, 
it should never again be accepted as sufficient in itself. 1 

The enforced stillness of the posed model is, of 
course, inseparable from the ordinary matter-of-fact 
study without hurry of the life school, but it quickly 
destroys all the movement and expression of the pose, 
and causes the muscles to lose their shapeliness. The 
lighting and background in the studio are always the 
same, and produce an effect of stultifying monotony. 

Is it not time the school began to understand the 
study of nature in a larger sense ? The professor 
could take his advanced pupils, upon certain days, to 
the parks and public buildings set at the disposal of 
the school. There he would have all the necessary 
apparatus, and picked models, and could repeat, upon 
a much larger scale, the experiments in which I have 
been a pioneer, varying them as he thought best. 

It is only when the school thus joins the study 
of the model as he moves to that of the posed model, 
and makes the students look at him, not as a thing 
isolated and detached, but in his visible relations to the 
shapes and colours of his surroundings, that it will be 
able to inscribe with any truth in its prospectus — 
"Study of Nature." 

The introduction into the school course of such 

1 There is no question of abandoning the methods of teaching that have stood 
the test of being employed in all ages. Students must be made to imitate everything 
that will pose to them, as well as learning to remember fleeting and changing effects. 
For they needs must depend later upon both of these opposite processes, in executing 
their own works. I leave this point now, as I have as yet no complete plan to 
offer for the organisation of an art-school, and return, as I am bound to do, to my 
special subject. But you must not, therefore, conclude that I underrate the value of 
existing teaching, or that I fail to see that much of what exists needs perfecting. 
There is much too which is altogether lacking, more especially courses of lectures, 
which through history and poetry would help to develop and raise the students' 
minds, widen their ideas, and rouse their emotions and enthusiasm, 



ADVANCED STUDY 35 

excursions, with the discussions to which they give 
rise upon the spot, will be found a great help in all 
the branches of instruction. For what could be more 
useful in the study of anatomy, or more in accordance 
with tradition, than the close observation of nude 
models at exercise, in imitation of the ancient 
athletes ? 

The play of the muscles and the bone forms, the 
changes of shape, due to movement, whether gentle or 
violent, would be watched and seized upon the spot, 
and would test and confirm the lessons of the anatomy 
school. 

With living nature before their eyes, there would 
be no fear of the students falling into the affectations 
that result from excess of scientific study on the one 
hand, or into the mistakes which occur from the 
exclusive study of the slack muscles of dead bodies 
on the other. For what one may call dead anatomy 
would be corrected and supplemented by this study of 
anatomy alive. 

Perspective, again, despite its importance, is generally 
very unattractive to young artists. Its operations seem 
to them dull and dry, and to belong more properly to 
mathematics than to art. Such mischievous prejudices 
are easily removed by observations made, under the 
professor's direction, to show the truth of its rules, 
and how helpful they are when applied to natural 
objects. 

First-rate demonstrations of perspective may be 
given, either in the open country or in the interior of 
buildings, in a way that makes them most attractive, 
by placing models at the proper distances. It at once 



36 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

ceases to be an abstract study. Its laws, facts, and 
accidents are then seen actually at work, in the loss of 
size, which decreases directly as the distance : in the 
change of appearance due to change of point of view : 
in the foreshortenings of the human figure, or its 
relation to surrounding objects. 

Aerial perspective, which has always been supposed 
to be beyond all rules, could be made the subject of 
experiments, and of exercises, the purpose of which is 
to leave in the students' memory general notions which 
are of the greatest utility. 

Suppose, for instance, that models were placed in a 
row like survey poles, a distance of seven or eight 
yards apart, and that the nearest model was at a like 
distance from the spectators, they could then gauge the 
degrees of loss of colour, from the first model to the 
last, in its relation to known distances. Suppose the 
models to be draped, each colour would show its own 
principle of variation. For instance, if they were all in 
white, it would be seen that white losas its force only 
upon the side in shadow, and that the lighted side 
retains almost all its brilliancy, however far from the 
observer. 

Similar observations can be made upon avenues 
of trees, or upon arcades, or rows of columns, either 
inside or outside public buildings. In this way may 
be studied all the modifications of colour that are 
produced by distance, or rather by the interposition 
of air between the spectator and the objects. 

By the repetition of this practice the students would 
very soon acquire, if not the actual principles of an 
absolute science, at least the results of a series of 



ADVANCED STUDY 37 

personal observations of the essential phenomena pro- 
duced by aerial perspective. 

A little time should also be set aside for the study 
of costume, and the best archaeological works of refer- 
ence should be provided. Ancient costume should be 
studied in a manner really classic, by explaining to the 
students the origin of different sorts of drapery. To 
make their cut the better understood, models should be 
dressed in them, and should be taught as far as possible 
how to wear them, in accordance with the habit of the 
country and the period. 

It would hardly be necessary, when working from 
drapery, to arrange folds laboriously on the lay figure, 
for the habit of rapid observation would make it 
possible to work from what we may call "living 
drapery," as it follows the wearer's attitudes and 
movements. For it is only after having been worn 
for a certain time and moulded by the free movements 
of the wearer to his shape, that drapery really loses the 
stiff look of all new clothes, and can express his form 
and action. In this way there spring into view un- 
suspected motives, often of great beauty, as the model 
walks, runs, or rests ; their variety, already infinite, 
being still further diversified by the action of the 
wind. 

Such object lessons could be simplified or elaborated 
at will. They might, so far as the setting and pro- 
perties allowed, even revive a period, by showing monks 
or cavaliers in a Gothic hall, or personages of the court 
of Louis XIV. or of Francis I. in the long walks, or on 
the lawns of some great park. In this way scenes of 
many times and fashions would pass before the students' 



38 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

eyes, needing only the help of their artistic imagination 
to complete the illusion. 

The study of animals demands particularly the 
employment of the memory. It could be made the 
occasion of introducing into the school course a form 
of work as novel as it is valuable, by turning the 
animals under observation out loose into the school 
grounds. 

The horse, in particular, should be very thoroughly 
studied, not only anatomically, but in its living forms 
and paces. Studied by itself or grouped together with 
man, as in the bas-reliefs of the Parthenon, it would 
give rise to many picturesque and splendid subjects, 
which would create deep and lasting impressions on 
the students' mind, and help towards the development 
of style. 

It is unnecessary to enumerate all the ways in which 
the school could widen its programme and infuse into 
it fresh life. But there is one point of paramount 
importance on which I must insist, that to obtain the 
most valuable results, every pupil must be obliged to 
render an account, so to speak, at the end of every such 
lesson, either in colour or in drawing, of whatever 
struck him most. For this will accustom him not to 
rest content with indistinct memories of what he saw, 
but to express his sensations definitely and accurately. 

Personal impressions of this kind, derived directly 
from nature, immensely favour the development of 
individual feeling and the birth of original talent. 

After they have been some time in the school, and 
have gathered a store of observations really of their 
own, the students will thenceforward possess material 



ADVANCED STUDY 39 

for their own work, directly borrowed from nature, 
such as will prevent their being reduced to eternally 
paraphrasing the same old masters. 

It is indeed only then that one can expect from 
students compositions really their own, in the sense 
that they arise from their individual conception of the 
subject. 

All these studies tend directly to the development 
of the power of composition, and prove that the power 
of retaining the image of absent things develops enor- 
mously the power of calling up before the mind's eye 
not only things actually seen, but also the things that 
we think of or invent. A distinctness and crispness of 
definition is thus given to our conceptions, which 
brings them, in a sense, before our actual eyes, and ready 
to our service. 

This new course of study gives great impetus to the 
faculty of invention and to the growth of personal 
outlook. It is, too, very closely connected with tradi- 
tion, and the students who follow it are struck from 
the first moment by the resemblance between the 
beauties which they discover in nature with their own 
eyes and the works of the great masters. In observing 
nature in her living beauty, in catching her, so to speak, 
in the act and at first hand, they are indeed doing 
exactly what the masters did, are drinking from the 
same source as they. 

It is in fact certain, that artists in all the great periods 
of art, whether of ancient Greece and Rome, or at the 
time of the Renaissance, had continually before their 
eyes, in the habits, costumes, and all the circumstances 
of the civilisation in which they lived, scenes to inspire 



4 o TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

their genius, as the strong influence of such sights upon 
their works distinctly shows us. 

Without denying the greatness of the times in which 
we live, it is only too plain that our habits of life are 
commonplace, and our dress is contemptible, when it is 
not positively ridiculous or ugly; so that if we mean 
to revive and raise artistic inspiration, we must let our 
young men see nature alive and moving under such 
conditions as make best for visible beauty. 

We must create a place apart, a place of serious 
study outside the commoner realities of life, filled with 
an atmosphere of charm and poetry, which shall unite 
all that can help to foster genius and lift it towards the 
ideal. ( 

But to be surrounded by life and plastic beauty is 
not enough, for if we are to express their life and 
deeper meaning, we must know how to observe and to 
remember. And consequently this advanced course of 
higher teaching, with all the practical applications that 
follow from it, and complete it, must be preceded by 
systematic cultivation of the artistic memory. 



APPENDIX I 

Some people hoped that over and above the system of exercises 
that I gave them in the first edition of this book, they were 
going to find some aids or cc tips " to memory ; and were sur- 
prised that I had not borrowed- from any of the different 
memory systems that deal with words, ideas, dates, or 
numbers. 

No doubt the different kinds of memory have points of 
similarity with each other ; yet their points of difference are 
so marked that one and the same method of procedure could 
hardly help them all. 

Most of the systems in question have, too, the defect of 
being entirely mechanical in their operation, and make no 
appeal to the intelligence ; while the fundamental principle in 
my method is, that memory and intelligence must always be 
cultivated side by side, and in such a way that the development 
of one encourages the development of the other. 

Again, while I offer the students my ways of working, I 
never force them on them, in order to avoid interfering with 
their individual mental processes, and to allow them full liberty 
to follow their own natural procedure. My restraint in this 
matter of advice is largely due to the fear of my hints being 
taken as rules of thumb, and, if I may put it in this way, applied 
as a panacea indiscriminately to all temperaments alike. All 
the same, to satisfy a wish that has been very widely expressed 
upon this point, I will give a few general ideas to direct and 
facilitate observation work, and consequently memory work as 
well. 

41 



42 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

In observing a subject there are five principal points to be 
kept in view. They are : dimensions, position, form, modelling, 
and colour. 

To observe the dimensions or proportions, compare the 
different parts of the subject one with another, and choose one 
as a unit of measure. 

To appreciate the respective position of the different parts, 
imagine horizontal and vertical lines passing through tpe most 
noticeable points. These lines and their points of intersection 
once established, will give the memory exact landmarks from 
which to make definite observation. 1 

In calculating a shape, one may imagine it inscribed in a 
simple elementary figure, such as a square, a circle, a triangle, 
etc., and decide how far it approaches or recedes from the 
imaginary figure described about it. 

Modelling, which comprises the advancement and retirement 
of form, is best observed by comparing with each other the 
different tones that result from the varying quantity of light 
and shade. Some, part of the subject, either the darkest or the 
lightest, should be used as a unit of comparison. 

For colour observation, it is necessary to judge and compare 
with each other both the different values of light and shade, and 
the different degrees of intensity of colour. And here the 
memory can fill the very important oifice of recalling with 
absolute fidelity the tints chosen as units of comparison. They 
are the fixed points from which to calculate the intensity of 
the other colours. 

It is especially in the early stages of memory work that my 
pupils make use of these general methods, together with personal 
methods of their own invention. But as practice develops the 
power of seeing the object though no longer present, such 
conscious methods become gradually less necessary. For then 
the proportions, points, shapes, modelling, and colour are 
calculated by what I may call the inner eye of the memory, 

1 These principles are those of ordinary drawing 5 it i3 only a matter of applying 
them to memory work. Cf. p. 116. 



APPENDIX 43 

without recourse to previous calculations and reasoning, much 
as they are judged by the eye in ordinary vision. 

To see the object, when absent, is then the real goal to 
which all these exercises should lead. Among the various 
methods of procedure which may help directly to this result, I 
will mention only one of the most successful. Here, so to 
speak, is the formula : — 

Being suitably placed for studying the object that you wish 
to commit to memory, draw its forms in your head, and to 
concentrate your attention the better, follow the forms, at a 
distance, with the end of your finger or anything pointed. 
Then shut your eyes, or look away from the object, and draw 
it again in the air. 

These imaginary drawings, being naturally of the easiest 
possible execution, may be repeated very rapidly, and as often 
as you think necessary to help you to implant securely in your 
mind's eye the image of the thing of which you mean to make 
an actual drawing. 

The manner in which this method is employed should 
depend upon the power of the student's memory. The abler 
ones may begin with the big lines of the mass, that is, the 
simplified impression of the whole effect, before attending to 
details. The weaker ones, being unable to grasp the whole 
subject at once, will have to make imaginary drawings of one 
part only over and over again, and stroke by stroke, in order 
that the impression may be, so to speak, incrusted on their 
mind. They will have to deal similarly with each part in 
turn, and when they finally come to the study of the subject 
as a whole, must repeat it over and over again in the same 
manner. 

Again, if they cannot grasp both form and colour at once, 
they should begin by making an abstract of the shadows. 

Subject to slight modifications, all these prescriptions apply 
equally well to the studying of colour by memory. In that 
case, imagine your finger to be a paint brush, and to better fix 
the attention, pass it over the subject, from a distance, as if 



44 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

you were actually painting the various tints. Then turn your 
eyes away and repeat this imaginary painting in the air until 
the coloured image of it appears so distinctly in your mind 
that you can reproduce it from memory in real paint. 1 

These operations, which may perhaps appear at first sight 
odd and almost fantastic, have been proved to be very simple in 
practice, and offer advantages very readily appreciated. 1 

In the execution of such drawings and paintings in our 
heads, our ideas and feelings are unhampered by material 
difficulties and have free play to follow their natural inclination. 
They need not be slavishly bound by the exact appearances of 
things, which they may modify at pleasure by selection, by 
abstraction, by adding to them or taking away from them, by 
emphasis or embellishment, in short, by grafting, as it were, 
the ideal upon the real. 

Is not that truly an act of assimilation, whereby an artist, 
once he has made nature his own, is able, so to speak, to infuse 
her with his own personal sentiment ? 

Thus the procedure that I advocate must be admitted to 
exercise and cultivate simultaneously artistic memory, artistic 
intelligence, and artistic feeling. It is equally well adapted for 
advanced as for elementary study. Besides tending to develop 
the memory and the higher faculties, it will lead to the early 
formation of the excellent habit, only too rare, of devoting a 
few moments of head work to considering the model, before 
the hand work is allowed to begin. 

I commend these ideas and methods of procedure to the 
consideration of art teachers. 

Teachers must recognise that, in the application of any 
method, its fundamental and characteristic principle must be 
rigidly observed. The same is not true, however, of its 
auxiliary means, which should be varied to suit different 
temperaments, and should be applied in the way that helps 
them best in the direction of their natural bent. To this end 
the professor must take the trouble to study his pupils deeply, 

1 See Appendix IV. p. 53. 



APPENDIX 45 

so as to discover their different dispositions. With this clue he 
will be able to invent endless fresh ways of helping each pupil 
forward in his special line of work, and he will thus become in 
his turn a real originator, even when applying a method which 
was not of his own invention. 

I am convinced that, apart from any question of justice, it 
would have an immense effect for good if the professor's status 
were raised. I have always thought it a mistake to minimise 
the scope and importance of his functions through an excess of 
regulation that touches the minutest details. 

It is on the professor alone that the intelligent and liberal 
application of any method must depend. For he is the living 
method in himself, whose place no written method either can 
take or should attempt to take. 1 



APPENDIX II 

Several members of different sections of the cc Institut," who 
had taken great interest in my experiments from the very first, 
made me promise to submit my theory and its results to the 
Academie des Beaux-Arts. I did not, however, act on their 
advice, encouraging as it was, until near the end of 1851, that 
is, until I considered the results were sufficient to warrant it. 

The Academie was quite ready to study the question 
seriously, and appointed a Commission for the purpose, consist- 
ing of Messrs. Couder, Horace Vernet, and Robert Fleury, and 
summoned me to one of their meetings to explain my theory. 

Their reception of my explanation was most encouraging, 
several members observing, with great good sense, that the 
Academie could only express a definite opinion after properly 
organised tests, and that such tests should take place under 
their own eye. 

1 It is just the great effect of his personal influence that lays such responsibility 
upon the professor, and at the same time relieves the method that he is applying of 
all responsibility for failure, in the cases where he fails to apply it with practical 
good sense, enlightenment, and system. 



46 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

The tests were made as follows : — 

One of my pupils was taken into the council room of the 
" Institut," and set to make a drawing of the statue of Poussin 
by Dumont, which had never been cast or exhibited in public. 1 

When the drawing was finished it was handed to the 
members of the Commission, and the boy taken to another 
room, where, under strict watch, he had to reproduce the 
subject from memory. To test the accuracy of the latter 
drawing, it was compared both with the drawing made from 
the statue and with the statue itself. 

At my suggestion a second test of a more difficult kind 
took place. Another pupil was chosen to draw a subject from 
memory, without the help of having made a preliminary draw- 
ing of it, after having merely observed it with great attention. 

The subject in this case was the bust of Carle Vernet by 
Dan tan. 

In consequence of the complete success with which my 

pupils passed these two convincing tests, the Academie sent 

the following report to the "Minister of the Interior," and 

granted me full permission to publish its contents. 

* " Institut de France, 

"Academie des Beaux-Arts. 

"The permanent Secretary of the Academie declares what 

follows to be a true extract from the minutes of the meeting of 

Saturday, January 17, 1852. 

"Report upon the Method of teaching Art of M. 

r 

Lecoq de Boisbaudran, professor at the c Ecole 

Speciale de Dessin.' 
" Gentlemen — At the suggestion of your Commission, the 
drawings of M. de Boisbaudran's pupils were submitted for 
your inspection, and you have been able to appreciate the 

1 The pupil in this case was C. Cuisin, who later became a well-known botanical 
draughtsman. Both drawings are in Dr. Rondeau's collection. One recognises the 
memory drawing at once as being a portrait of Poussin. It is interesting to notice 
how the foreshortened foot, which was not well understood in the drawing from the 
statue, is reproduced " photographically " the same in the drawing from memory. 
Among the mass of drawings in the collection, one is constantly remarking the differ- 
ence between such mechanical and really intelligent memory work. — Translator. 



APPENDIX 47 

beneficial results of his teaching. It is only necessary therefore 
to repeat briefly the explanations that you have already heard 
on this subject. 

" M. de Boisbaudran being convinced of the great benefits 
that must result from a memory for form developed by syste- 
matic exercise, determined in the year 1847 t0 ma ^ e some 
experiments upon his class. 

"Working always from the simple to the more complex, 
he put his pupils through a series of very carefully graduated 
exercises. Their success was very encouraging, and they were 
soon equal to learning by heart statues, bas-reliefs, and heads 
from the antique, etc. He made them work always in the 
same way, that is, by making first a drawing from the subject 
before reproducing it from memory alone. 

"You have had an opportunity of judging of the correctness 
of general impression, the sense of character, and the accuracy 
of form which these drawings show. Such achievement is, in 
truth, worthy of all praise, yet amongst his pupils trained in 
his method there are some who have achieved still more. For 
they have actually reproduced, with an astonishing exactness of 
imitation, subjects of as great difficulty as their fellows without 
having made any drawing from the subject first. They merely 
observed their subjects for an hour or two, arranging their 
observations systematically and carefully in their memory. 
They then returned to the class-room, and without any help 
beyond the recollection of their own observations, succeeded in 
reproducing the antiques selected for this trial with the nai'vete 
and precision that make these drawings so remarkable. 

" M. de Boisbaudran is very far from overvaluing the results 
of his system. He makes no claim to its being employed alone, 
as a new method that makes unnecessary the ordinary course of 
study that has been in use for ages. No, M. de Boisbaudran 
only claims to have discovered a method of systematically 
cultivating the students' memory so as to make it capable of 
retaining visual impressions with accuracy, a power of indis- 
putable advantage to all who study art. 



48 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

" Consequently, gentlemen, the members of your Com- 
mission recommend you to give your support to M. de 
Boisbaudran's method of c training the memory in art.' 

" Signed in the minutes by Horace Vernet, Auguste Couder, 
and Robert Fleury. 

"This report was adopted by the Academic 
" True copy. 

" Raoul Rochette, 
" Permanent Secretary" 

This explicit approval of my method, expressed by a society 
of such high authority in matters artistic, was doubly valuable 
to me. It established the bona fides of my system, and the 
reality and the practical value of its results in the practice of 
the fine arts. 

My next business was to establish its efficacy in the matter 
of applied art. To effect this I naturally turned to the Society 
for the Encouragement of National Industries, which possessed 
both the qualifications and wide reputation necessary to my 
purpose. 

I attached the greater importance to gaining their approval, 
because they had the habit of testing industrial and scientific 
inventions with absolute thoroughness, and would consequently 
put my system through tests, all the more conclusive, on 
account of their severity. 

The Society was indeed quite ready to examine the 
question, for they had lately created a permanent Commission 
of Inquiry into all questions affecting the application of fine art 
to industry. 

The Commission, which included many specialists znd 
heads of businesses amongst its members, came with their 
President to the cc Ecole ImpeYiale de Dessin " to watch my 
students at work. In answer to their questions, those of my 
students who were already employed in various trades testified 
to the practical help that the power of drawing from memory 
afforded them. 

The Commission appeared completely satisfied with all they 



APPENDIX 49 

had seen and heard, and were on the point of withdrawing, 
when one of their number suddenly raised the following 
objection : — 

While readily admitting that the drawings done in his 
presence were proofs of very unusual memory power, he yet 
wondered, whether students with naturally strong memories 
who had learnt ordinary drawing, could not achieve results 
as remarkable as these, without having been specially trained 
by my system. He undertook that the Commission should 
clear up this important point by making comparative 
tests. 

The Society determined, therefore, to approach the Ecole des 
Beaux-Arts, and request them to select from their students 
those who combined to the highest degree trained accomplish- 
ment in drawing with naturally strong memories, in order to 
pit them against my pupils. 

The Ecole des Beaux-Arts passed this request on to two of 
its most eminent professors, one of whom, M. L<§on Cogniet, 
replied in the following letter, as remarkable for its goodwill 
and fairness as for its clear appreciation of the point at 
issue : — 

« Paris, 12th Nov. 1853. 

a I look upon the proposed competition as entirely super- 
fluous. There is not one of my pupils that I know of, who 
could enter with any show of reason into a competition in 
memory drawing ( c imitation de memoire') with M. de 
Boisbaudran's ablest and most practised pupils. I cannot, 
therefore, ask any of them to take part in such an unequal 
contest, of which the issue is quite certain, for it is a challenge 
which I personally should not think of taking up. 

" I have cultivated my memory a great deal, and perhaps 
with some profit. I have often got my pupils to do so. 
But neither they nor I have done it so consecutively or 
methodically as to imagine that we could produce results, when 
the model is no longer present, to compare in mathematical 



5 o TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

exactness with achievements such as M. de Boisbaudran sub- 
mitted to the Acad£mie des Beaux-Arts, as is recorded in 
their minutes. 

" M. de Boisbaudran has my authority to make any use of 
this letter that he thinks fit. LioN Cogniet ." 

The other professor of the Beaux- Arts, to whom the request 
had been passed on, replied in substance that he thought his 
pupils were not qualified for the proposed test, but that it 
would be so interesting and instructive to make the trial, that 
he would send such of his pupils as best fulfilled the require- 
ments of the Society. 

Nothing now remained but to choose the subject for the 
competition. 

A little antique figure was chosen, which had been but 
lately found in making excavations, and had been given by the 
King of Naples to the Marquis de Pastoret. Consequently it 
was absolutely unknown in France. 

The competitors, after being allowed an equal length of time 
in which to study it, had to draw it from memory. 

A second competition of the same nature, and under similar 
conditions, was arranged between my pupils and those of one 
of the principal municipal schools of Paris. 

I had great hopes of these two tests, which were calculated 
to settle, once for all, a question likely to be only too 
frequently raised. 

My pupils clearly and conclusively established the superiority 
of our theory and practice. Many of their opponents were 
reduced to a state of complete inability to produce anything ; 
while even the most successful of them only managed to make 
vague drawings, without definite shape, which were like dreams 
already half-effaced. 

I had given an account to the Commission of my first 
experiments on memory for colour ; and though there was 
only one of my pupils sufficiently advanced in this direction, 
they begged him to show what he could do. He had to paint 



APPENDIX 51 

from memory a carpet, of very varied hues, which faded into 
one another in extremely delicate gradations. 

All these subtle changes were, despite their difficulty, 
rendered in paint from memory with a truth and accuracy 
approaching illusion. 

All these facts were set out in the report of the Commission 
of the Society for the Encouragement of National Industries, 
which decided to grant me a medal in recognition of the 
practical value of my method as applied to industry. 

I should prefer to suppress all reference to the successes 
achieved by my own method, but it is absolutely necessary that 
I should support my claims and statements with the testimony 
of genuine official tests. Amongst a great number of other 
important testimonials I will quote only one, that of a dis- 
tinguished artist, whose reputation is more than popular, for it 
is world-wide. Gifted with a marvellous memory, he has 
given proof in his work of the service and power of this 
precious faculty. The reader has guessed already that I mean 
M. Horace Vernet. Every one must admit his competence, or 
rather his absolute authority upon the question of the memory 
in art. 

I cannot perhaps end better, than by printing the letter 
which M. Horace Vernet did me the honour of writing to 
me when on one of his last journeys. In it he sets forth in a 
few words his opinion upon the part that memory can play in 
art, and declares it to be high time that my book was published. 

"Chateau de Champagnete, 
this z\th of September i860. 

" Dear Sir — It is with great pleasure that I learn upon my 
return from a tour in Brittany, that you intend to publish a 
second edition of your book, Memory in Art* I cannot wait 
till I get to Paris to beg you to push forward your enterprise, 
which deserves every encouragement. To formulate in 
writing the principles which you have employed with such 
success in your classes, is the surest way of making your 



52 TRAINING OF THE MEMORY IN ART 

method more widely known. It is as a method completely 
new, for its purpose is to cultivate the power of retaining in 
the memory, what is fugitive in nature, such as expression, 
rapid movement, passing effects, etc., things which it is quite 
hopeless to attempt to get from a model in the studio. 
Memory then is clearly of the greatest service. 

" The c Institut ' has already shown by its appreciation of 
what you have done how valuable it considers the education 
you are giving your pupils in this direction. 

"^Personally I have the best of reasons for being one of your 
most enthusiastic supporters, for I have made use of my 
memory all through my artistic career. I pledge you, there- 
fore, to continue to make your ideas better known, for they 
are on the road to true progress, and open up new and far- 
reaching prospects in the teaching of art. — Believe me, yours 
affectionately, Horace Vernet." 



APPENDIX III 

Among the distinguished people who gave this effort of 
mine their approval and encouragement, I must mention, in 
the fine arts, Messrs. Paul Delaroche, at that time Member of 
the Institut, Professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts ; Merime'e, 
Senator, Member of the Academie Francaise, of the Academie 
des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres ; Leon Cogniet, Member of 
the Institut, Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique ; Viollet-le- 
Duc, Inspector-General of Historical Monuments - y Eugene 
Delacroix, Member of the Institut ; Baron Taylor, Member 
of the Institut ; Horace Vernet, Member of the Institut, 
Professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts ; Pradier, at the time 
Member of the Institut. In science the following : Francois 
Arago, then permanent Secretary of the Academy of Science ; 
Dumas, Senator, Senior Member of the Faculty of Science ; 
Chevreul, Member of the Academy of Science ; Gaudichaud, 



APPENDIX 53 

Member of the Academy of Science ; Isidore Geoffroy St. 
Hilaire, Member of the Academy of Science, Professor at the 
Natural History Museum. 

From want of space I am unable to mention all the other 
support, equally distinguished, which my efforts have since 
received, for which I am extremely grateful. 



APPENDIX IV 

Mr. T. R. Way, an intimate friend of Whistler, once 
described in a lecture at the Art Workers' Guild Whistler's 
method of committing his Nocturnes to memory. When 
observing the scene he wished to remember, he would study 
the essential points upon which the effect depended, then turn 
his back upon it and recapitulate these points, turning round 
again to see if he had got his lesson perfect. This he did 
aloud to Mr. Way, who was looking at the subject, and was 
thus able to judge of the correctness with which the lesson had 
been learned. 

Mr. Way also said that when he called Whistler's atten- 
tion to a second effect on the same evening, equally worth 
remembering, his reply was, " No, no ; one thing is enough 
at a time." 

This account is a very interesting contribution to the 
subject, and is very strong evidence that de Boisbaudran's 
methods are not fantastic, but of serious use in practice. And, 
further, the inference is that Whistler got his method from 
de Boisbaudran himself, for in Pennell's Life of Whistler we are 
told that he came under his influence in his early days in Paris, 
through his close association with Fantin, Legros, and other 
of his pupils. — Translator. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 



55 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

In the last few years great interest has been taken in 
the question of how to infuse new life into art, of how 
to raise it to a higher level, and to enlarge its outlook. 
At least there has been a great deal of talk upon this 
interesting subject, and the air has been full of tentative 
schemes for recasting our old art schools. Why, such 
ideas even invaded the sanctuaries of officialdom ! 
Nevertheless, these attempts at regeneration do not 
seem to have achieved any very notable results. 1 

Does not the cause of this lack of real success lie in 
the fact that State protection, like the encouragement of 
private societies, has little or no influence upon art 
itself, useful as it is in promoting the interests and the 
association of artists ? 

The distribution of fine prizes in money and honours 
may do much to stimulate and encourage artistic out- 
put : it can do nothing to raise its quality. 

It is in the education of the artist that we must look 
for the true means of progress, and of infusing fresh 
life into art. And this can be achieved only through 

1 This treatise, it must be remembered, was written in 1872, with the exception 
of the notes at the end. [The above original foot-note was intended for the reader 
of 1879. Perhaps it is right to call the attention of the reader of this translation to 
the fact that not only seven but thirty-nine years have passed since 1872. Is the 
art teaching of to-day yet up to Lecoq's standard ? — Translator.] 

57 



58 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

the perfecting of art teaching, which must not be con- 
fused with routine and regulation. 

Foreign nations seem to be realising this truth. At 
the Universal Exhibition of 1867 we had an opportunity 
of appreciating the efforts which their schools were 
making. Yet, sad to relate, the most advanced pro- 
ductions, notably those of the school of Bavaria, were 
almost without exception dull and monotonous in 
effect. For all the drawings exhibited, and they were 
many, seemed to be the product of the same mind and 
hand. Despite the variety of signature, individuality 
was completely lacking. And this lack reveals the 
defect of their system — a defect against which we 
should be particularly on our guard. 1 

Instead of congratulating ourselves upon the mis- 
takes in artistic education made by our competitors, let 
us rather take our own case severely in hand ; and in 
order to cure our own failings, let us make a serious 
examination of the procedure in our schools. 

In France, the schools in which drawing, painting, 
and sculpture are taught are either in private hands, or 
under the control of municipalities, or the State. 

I will rapidly survey these different classes of teach- 
ing, calling attention to the essential modifications 
which I consider could be made in them, and setting 
forth the principles on which they should, in my 
opinion, be directed. 

Private Teaching 

The opening of the studios of the Ecole des Beaux- 
Arts, though hardly seven years old, has already caused 

1 See Note A, p. 92. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 59 

great injury to private schools of art. For, by admit- 
ting young men in every stage of advancement 
without any entrance examination, it attracts almost all 
the pupils from the other schools. The bait of its 
prizes, and the weight that official institutions always 
carry, have an irresistible attraction for them. No 
professor would venture to open a school of painting 
against so crushing a competitor as the State. It would 
be impossible to revive nowadays studios such as those 
of David, Gros, Ingres, or Leon Cogniet. 1 

Effective competition can only be maintained by 
societies and combination. Of such societies, that of 
the Brothers of Christian Doctrine is by far the 
most influential. It has numerous schools not only in 
Paris, but scattered all over France. I will postpone 
the discussion of the influence which they exercise. 

Through the devotion of certain distinguished people 
there was formed some years ago an institution of con- 
siderable importance, called the Central Union of Fine 
Art as applied to Industry. To-day it is the chief, if 
not the only, example of private enterprise, and on this 
account deserves especial notice. 

The purpose of this useful society is, as its name 
suggests, to introduce into industry good taste, grace, 
and daintiness, with a finer sense of style, by bringing 
the influence of fine art to bear upon it. It has done 
good service with its exhibitions by publicly showing 
there the work of almost all the French schools of 
drawing ; for it is essential in studying the question of 

1 This is no longer the case, as Paris teems with every sort of school, many kept 
by foreigners even. But this was written before Paris had the vogue it has had 
lately, and before art became the craze it is at present with amateurs of both sexes. — 
Translator. 



60 A. SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

teaching that it should be possible to judge from actual 
results the influence of the teacher, the value of the 
methods employed, and of the models and copies which 
are used in the teaching. 1 

To be perfectly frank, the greater part of the work 
shown was not satisfactory. -If the general impression 
had been merely one of want of progress, or want of 
strength, there would not be much reason to distress 
ourselves. For the cure for this is simply to encourage 
industry and application. But the evil lies deeper, 
and we must make haste to determine its cause. 

One and the same radical defect is noticeable in 
almost all the drawings exhibited, whatever their pro- 
ficiency or the difficulty of their subject. This defect, 
and it is a very serious one, is the complete lack of 
truth, sincerity, and naturalness. 

A student's first attempts may be interesting enough, 
despite their feebleness, if only they show signs of 
conscientious and simple-minded research ; for artless- 
ness often lends a charm to ignorance itself. Unfor- 
tunately, among all the innumerable drawings exhibited 
there was no such interest to be found. Instead, the 
drawings of children are displayed by their self-satisfied 
professors as the achievements of prodigies of twelve 
and thirteen, and show, alas ! that they have merely 
lost the freshness of their natural simplicity, and have 
suffered deformity in the most essential of their artistic 
faculties. 

Instead of showing in their first attempts the modest 
diffidence which is a sign of conscientious and pains- 
taking work, they set down forms that are entirely 

1 See Note B, p. 94. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 61 

false, and violently exaggerated effects, with an assur- 
ance that almost eclipses that of their elders. 

The causes of such widespread corruption are not 
difficult to determine. In a majority of the schools 
one sees the most fatal methods still held in honour, 
which betray themselves invariably in the disastrous 
results which they inevitably produce. 

Breaking up all the forms of nature, including those 
of the human figure, into squares, angles, and triangles, 
cannot fail to affect a child's notion of real form : for 
children are highly impressionable. By thus destroying 
all grace, suppleness, and delicacy, and forcing on their 
young attention shapeless masses, exaggerated into 
squares and angles, the delicate growth of a true feel- 
ing for beauty and harmony is destroyed in the bud. 

The origin of this sorry procedure dates back about 
thirty years. At that time there appeared a strange 
system, happily since consigned to oblivion, which 
consisted in making the students copy from a series 
of plaster blocks, working the shadows with a stump. 
The first block gave the mass of a head, without any 
indication of detail. In the second block rectangular 
projections stood for the more prominent features. 
In each succeeding block the forms were gradually 
refined, until the, last became a recognisable human 
head. When this last model had been drawn and 
shaded with a stump the series of studies was finished. 

This fine discovery, praised and pushed by a friendly 
Press, as warranted to give the most wonderful results 
in no time, was welcomed with open arms and put 
into practice even in the most out-of-the-way parts of 
the country. 



62 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

A minister of the day adopted it as a system so 
sound and full of promise, that he gave orders that it 
should be employed in every school in Paris. But 
when put to the test it had to be withdrawn almost 
at once, and with it went all hopes of the success so 
loudly trumpeted. 1 

Though this strange idea has been greatly modified 
since then, it is still easy to see that it is the origin 
and contains the principle of an extreme system of 
masses, angles, and squares, which yet flourishes only 
too widely. 

A pupil of sufficient proficiency ought assuredly, 
like a fully trained artist, to begin a drawing by 
establishing the masses. This may be called the first 
stage in execution. But it is by no means the first 
stage in a student's education. For the first stage in 
education is the preparation of the faculties, on which 
drawing essentially depends, that is the eye and hand, 
by exercises calculated to give them the nicety and 
dexterity which must be acquired before drawing can 
really begin. And this result is entirely missed by 
exercises that deliberately misdirect the artistic faculties. 
It can, however, be attained, as it often has been, 
through the sincere imitation of graduated copies 
representing natural forms as they really appear, 
primarily those of the human figure. These are the 
principles laid down by Leonardo da Vinci, that great 
man, whose genius was only equalled by his good sense. 

When an artist first begins to teach, he often makes 
what is only the most natural of mistakes, that of 
thinking that the methods of execution which he 

1 See Note C, p. 96. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 63 

prefers for his own work, are for that very reason the 
best methods to teach to others. For instance, many- 
painters find it a good plan, in getting an object placed 
upon their canvas, to draw neither its real shape nor 
its outline, but rather the shapes of the masses of light 
and shade upon it. In this way they suppress all use 
of outline and put in the lights and darks at once. In 
so doing the artist is unconsciously employing abstrac- 
tions and making calculations which have become easy 
to him through habit, the purpose and good sense of 
which he well understands. But a beginner cannot 
properly follow such a complicated process, and it is 
very important to show him the simplest, most direct, 
and most natural way of working. For we must 
inevitably confuse and unsettle him if we make him 
use processes he cannot understand. 

It is always risky to proceed from the complex to 
the simple and thus upset the most elementary and 
well established principle of all rational education. 
Rigid insistence upon extreme systems, enforced with- 
out restraint, without any explanation of their principles, 
is the chief cause of the evils that stare us in the face. 

As to the copies, they must of course be in harmony 
with the method they are intended to illustrate, for they 
are the means by which it is to be taught, and should 
be the outcome of its needs. Among those exhibited 
by the Central Union a few were well executed, and 
really praiseworthy, but the greater number were 
extremely faulty, displaying extraordinary ignorance of 
the principles of teaching. 1 

Not only had beauty of form been completely lost 

1 See Note D, p. 96. 



64 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

in most of them, but truth of form into the bargain. 
The pure delicate curves of antique figures were re- 
presented by angles, sharp points, and broken lines. 
All curves, or suppleness, they seemed to say, is 
licence hardly to be borne. Such is fashion ! 

Is it not strange that, at the very moment when 
we are invoking the example and authority of Raphael 
and other great master draughtsmen, the copies used 
as models for training young artists should be the 
deliberate contradiction of the principle of their draw- 
ings. For their drawings are so full of life and 
movement, so flexible and free in outline — are seen as 
a united whole, and emphasise with such knowledge 
the foreshortening and construction. 

The same contradiction is just as striking in the 
matter of values and general effect, for here, instead of 
the delicate and restrained harmonies of the great 
colourists, the copies are full of the harshest contrasts 
of dark and light. 

Could one set about it better, if it was one's 
deliberate purpose to destroy all delicacy of the eye ? 
As for the actual way in which the copies are drawn, 
it is in most cases stupidity itself ; for they are either 
drawn in flat tints, without any suggestion of modelling, 
or in elaborate cross-hatching of lines so conspicuous 
in themselves, that the pupil's whole time and attention 
is occupied in copying these lines alone. 

After the question of the copies, comes that of 
the teachers. There are undoubtedly among country 
professors many skilled draughtsmen and experienced 
teachers who would have produced good results, with 
better models and better methods, and longed to throw 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 65 

off the yoke, and follow their own instincts. But if 
you know the state of intellectual stagnation and bond- 
age to which whole districts are reduced by the over 
centralisation of the control, you will understand how 
impossible it is for such men to put their good inten- 
tions into practice. For they are isolated and un- 
supported, and are surrounded by ignorance, prejudice, 
jealousy, and even hostility. To have rejected the 
methods and models that came from Paris, and were 
officially employed in every public school there, would 
have been something more than a mere act of daring. 
To these men, capable of rendering such valuable 
service to the cause of teaching, the Central Union 
could give just the effective support, which they so 
badly need and so richly deserve. 

Other teachers, and they are the vast majority, have 
let themselves drift with the stream, either from con- 
viction or mere indifference. The exhibitions have 
given only too well the measure of their understanding 
and their efforts. But zealous, or not zealous, they 
were at best only capable of teaching what they had 
themselves been taught, of passing on to others the 
doctrines which they saw were generally accepted. 

Still it is very clear what a hearty welcome would 
be given to any sane ideas and wide-minded counsels 
that the Central Union chose to offer, from the 
readiness with which many teachers come to it even 
now for information and advice. 

Next let us turn our attention to the schools of 
the Brothers of Christian Doctrine. These schools 
one would expect to be far in advance of all others, 
thanks to the funds at their command, to the close 

F 



66 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

ties which unite them as a brotherhood, and to their 
admirable organisation. And one would expect to see 
them busily perfecting their methods of instruction 
and creating new models and copies, in fact full of 
healthy stimulus. But so far they have been quite 
content to accept the ordinary routine ideas, and 
imitate the other schools. 

There is no denying the enthusiasm and devotion 
of the professors of the brotherhood, but they seem to 
he wanting in invention and imagination and do not 
appear to be real artists. The creative faculty seems 
lacking. 

And so the Central Union seems really destined to 
become a centre of information, instruction, and good 
counsel to provincial schools. It is a noble mission to 
serve such a purpose — up till now, indeed, the State 
has shown no inclination to dispute any one's right to 
serve it — and in fulfilling its mission the Union will 
deservedly gain great influence. 

Still the responsibility is in proportion to the im- 
portance of the task, and the power likely to be thus 
put into the Union's hands, because of the confidence 
it inspires, will be a great power for good or for evil, 
according to the direction in which its counsels 
tend. 

Good intentions, enthusiasm, and perseverance are 
not enough ; for it is specialised and expert know- 
ledge that is needed. So that it will be necessary for 
the Union to study and learn all that bears upon the 
teaching of drawing, and elucidate its principles before 
it is possible truly to enlighten others. To render its 
influence really beneficial it must go still further, and 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 67 

besides showing itself to be wide-minded and liberal in 
its point of view, must show that it is entirely disr- 
interested, and could never be suspected of a wish to 
dominate those whom it advises and helps. Being the 
Central Union in fact, and not in name alone, should 
make it the easier for it to resist any tendency to over- 
centralise the control and teaching of art or reduce the 
teacher's independence. 

There is only too great an inclination just now to 
narrow the routine of teaching by imposing one uni- 
form system upon every one, which is cramping to 
professor and pupils alike. Instead of recommending 
the use of one particular method, even though it were 
the best of all, it is far better to lay down the large 
essential principles of teaching, to which all systems 
should conform, so broadly as not to entrench upon the 
teacher's liberty. For it is important that he should 
have the power of making such modifications upon 
the system he has to use as will make him feel it to 
be really his own method that he is teaching ; as only 
in this way can he keep the spring and enthusiasm 
sufficient to carry him through his onerous task. 

Nor must the Union ever forget that it is essential 
to preserve all the variety and independence of action 
that properly belongs to private teaching, lest it destroy 
those very opportunities for personal enterprise that 
hardly ever occur under official direction. When the 
State thinks fit to undertake the organisation of art 
teaching, it is naturally inclined to employ its usual 
methods of administration — regulation, centralisation, 
unification. Such measures, unless they are kept 
very well in hand, quickly fall into opposition to the 



68 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

whole spirit of art, which is based upon independence 
and spontaneity. 

Teaching in the Municipal Schools of the 
City of Paris 

For a long time the City of Paris had only two 
schools of drawing. This number was clearly in- 
sufficient for its needs, but it has suddenly been 
increased qut of all reason. It would have been wiser 
to have taken time first to enquire into methods of 
teaching, and to select or train teachers. It would have 
been wiser to have opened the new schools one by 
one, as the need for more training of this kind in 
industrial occupations became apparent. For it is to 
be feared that, through want of forethought and of 
real understanding of industrial conditions, many 
professions have become distressingly over -stocked, 
especially those for girls. 

China painting, for instance, a few years ago offered 
women a secure livelihood and relatively good pay ; 
but these advantages attracted so many workers that 
soon there was not work enough for all, and the pay 
fell below the level of a living wage. 

If things were left to their natural course, the dis- 
tress would never become so acute as when aggravated 
by some powerful accidental influence. What, pray ! 
will happen now that twenty new schools * for girls 
have been opened at once, which are educating a stream 
of pupils for the so-called prosperous professions of 
fan-painting, china-painting, and the like ? 

1 It should be remembered that this was written in 1872, and is of little interest 
to the English reader. — Translator. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 69 

Come what may, the new schools are already estab- 
lished and provided with complete staffs of teachers, 
and before giving judgment upon their methods of 
teaching it is only fair to let them have time to get 
into working order and show what they can do. 

So there can be no question at the moment of any 
modification in the municipal schools of Paris. The 
most that can be done is to experiment in some of the' 
primary schools to see if it is not possible, without 
actually teaching them drawing, to give the children 
such a training as will make drawing come more easily 
to them later on. 

Primary education, while not forgetting to teach 
children the things th^y must know, ought, in my 
opinion, to pay particular attention to the cultivation 
of their senses and their all-round development, so that 
they may be the better prepared to face the difficulties 
of secondary education. And this is but to follow the 
example of the good workman who sharpens the tools 
before setting to work. 

This question, which is a very wide one, becomes 
much simpler if I confine myself to that branch of 
teaching which is my special province ; and if among 
all the senses which are capable of cultivation I treat 
only of the sense of sight, and for the moment of that 
sense only as regards the power of judging size and 
proportion by the eye. 

Every one who has devoted himself to teaching 
drawing knows what persistent difficulty the beginner 
finds in judging proportion ; and it is so real a 
difficulty as never to be entirely overcome, so that not 
only students, but even the most accomplished artists 



7 o A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

never succeed in what they call the placing or estab- 
lishing of the subject on the canvas without an effort* 
And this is just because it depends chiefly upon 
judging relations of size and distance. 

The refractoriness of the faculty here brought into 
play is probably only due to neglect in its earliest 
stages. Personally I consider that this faculty should 
be subjected as early as possible to a gymnastic course 
of graduated exercises, to harden it and to check the 
growth of such natural failing. 

And to this end I would suggest introducing into 
primary instruction, even perhaps into infant schools, 
certain exercises designed to cultivate the children's 
accuracy of eye. 

These exercises should be of the simplest possible 
kind, of which the following is a specimen : — 

On a sheet of paper, or a blackboard, let a straight 
line be drawn and on it let some unit of measurement 
such as a centimetre be marked off with two dots. 
Then let the children be given a pencil and try in turn 
to mark off this same length upon another straight line 
drawn ready for them. As soon as they have acquired 
the habit of doing this easily, they must repeat it from 
memory without having the copy before their eyes. 

In this way it would not take very long, I hope, to 
fix in the children's minds the exact impression of a 
centimetre, several centimetres, a whole metre, and 
even several metres, and so on. 

It is impossible to give any idea of all the conceivable 
developments and varieties of exercise that could be 
invented, for every object within sight can be made of 
service. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 71 

The children could be asked, for instance, to tell the 
dimensions of one pane or of the entire window, the rela- 
tion of the breadth to the height of the door, the distance 
between two trees in the garden. Such lessons are very 
easily made entertaining, and would quickly become a 
source of amusement during playtime or walks. 1 

The habit thus acquired of judging size, by having 
a standard unit of measure indelibly engraved on the 
memory, would provide the eye with a real system of 
measurement, giving extraordinary accuracy in appreciat- 
ing relation and proportion, and would be a very 
valuable apprenticeship to the many trades and profes- 
sions for which the children are destined. 

As regards drawing in the strict sense of the word, 
every one must see the helpfulness of such preparation. 
For it would remove, at least partially, one of the first 
difficulties encountered in teaching drawing, and as we 
may fairly hope, would in consequence make progress 
in the future more certain and more rapid. 

As I have never taught children as young as those 
in the primary and infant schools, I have not been able 
to put the exercises that I suggest into practice. Still 
I recommend the idea to all men of open mind, who 
are sufficiently interested in the cause of progress to 
make a real effort for the coming generation. 

State Instruction 

The Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Nationale 
de Dessin 2 are the two channels through which the State 
gives instruction in Art. 

x ^See Appendix, p. ioo. 
2 Now called the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs. — Translator. 



72 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

The Ecole des Beaux-Arts is for teaching the Fine 
Arts of painting, sculpture, engraving, and architecture. 

The Ecole Nationale de Dessin is for the teaching, 
as applied to industry, of sculpture, and the rudiments 
of architecture and mathematics. 

Every time that the authorities have undertaken the 
reorganisation of the two schools they have taken one 
or the other alone, without apparently ever thinking of 
organising them under one head, and in relation to 
each other. 

The result of such narrowness has, of course, been 
that two establishments, which have so many points 
of contact, often overlap, and even clash, and although 
administered by one authority more often obstruct 
than help one another. 

Latterly, the Ecole des Beaux-Arts has filled its 
studios with students drawn almost exclusively from 
the Ecole de Dessin, taking them even before they 
have finished their elementary course. In so doing it 
has done sad injury to the latter school, and has injured 
itself very seriously by destroying the nursery, that 
provided it with most of its best material. 

One is constantly being reminded that it is not the 
business of the Ecole de Dessin to train young pupils 
for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, its exclusive purpose 
being to educate artisans and workers in the applied 
arts and industries. Yet all students, whatever branch 
of art they intend ultimately to take up, need the same 
teaching as beginners, and they have come, from the 
moment of its foundation, with scarcely an exception, 
to seek it at the Ecole de Dessin in the face of all 
statutes and all rules. Would it not be more reason- 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 73 

able to take such a persistent fact into account and 
accept it frankly, instead of attempting to check the 
natural course of things with such ineffectual restrictions ? 

The reorganisation of the two schools could be best 
effected, in my opinion, by simply combining them, 
thus making them work together to a higher purpose, 
being careful, of course, strictly to ascribe to each its 
proper functions. 

If the State is to continue to undertake the teaching 
of art, its machinery for the purpose may well continue 
to consist of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole 
de Dessin, The latter should, however, have added 
to it a new section devoted to the actual practice of 
industrial and decorative art. 

The Ecole de Dessin might then take the title of 
Central, for its teaching being ground-work would lead 
up to all applications of drawing in general, both fine- 
art and trade work, and it would be training pupils for 
all schools, public and private alike. It would thus 
meet a want and fulfil a purpose really central and 
necessary in art education. 1 

Once it had become central, the Ecole de Dessin 
should clearly state that it did not, in principle, admit 
two methods of teaching drawing, a superior method for 
artistic, an inferior one for industrial work. To every 
student alike it would give one and the same teaching, 
from the first elementary grounding up to the highest 
possible developments, which each could follow to the 
particular stage of advancement best suited to his 
capacities, or to the branch of art he had decided to 
take up. 

1 See Note E, p. 97. 



74 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

So keen is the attraction of art for young people 
that no encouragement is needed to lead them to take 
it up as a profession. Rather is it necessary to thwart 
them and prevent their yielding to its seductions with- 
out sufficient consideration, or sufficient talent, for this 
leads to cruel disappointments. Very stiff and thorough 
tests should, therefore, be in force at the Ecole des 
Beaux-Arts to prevent the entry of all students, who 
cannot show real training as well as real natural gifts. 

A school of the high position of the Ecole des 
Beaux-Arts should admit only students of mark, really 
capable of following its higher teaching with profit. 
And it ought, both in its own interest and in the 
interest of art in general, to refuse to encourage a 
crowd of second-rate artists by the ease with which 
it accepts them as students. 

The applied arts, on the other hand, lack dignity 
and fascination in young people's eyes, and must be 
made as attractive and easy of access as possible. And 
to this the creation of the practical section of which I 
spoke would contribute immensely. For it .would 
rouse the students' interest and stimulate them to 
keener effort, by showing them the practical application 
of the various kinds of drawing which they were learn- 
ing in the school. 

In such a section many students would discover 
their true vocations, and would choose of their own 
free will professions qf which they would otherwise 
very likely never have heard, either because they had 
special aptitude for them or found them easier to enter. 

So convinced am I of the benefits that would result 
from the addition to the Ecole de Dessin of this special 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 75 

section for practical work, that I intend to develop the 
idea in a special pamphlet and discuss the best way of 
organising it. 1 It is, in fact, a subject closely connected 
with much of my work, and many of the experiments 
that I have been making for years. Meanwhile I will 
give a few reflections upon artistic education in general 
and upon the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in particular. 

Ecole des Beaux-Arts 

I am not going to discuss either the probable changes, 
which the authorities may in the future introduce into 
the organisation of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, or the 
benefits that might arise from them. They may 
perhaps take the form of suppressing the existing 
studios, and allowing the present professors to take 
them over as their own private classes. It may be 
that in order to educate the public as well as artists 
they will turn the Ecole into a sort of artistic College 
de France, with courses of lectures and discussions 
open to artists and public alike. Nor will I discuss 
the existing organisation of the Ecole. I think it is 
better merely to lay down those general principles 
which, in my opinion, ought to be the basis of all 
artistic education. This will leave it open to every 
one to judge of their value for himself, and those who 
approve of my principles will be able to draw their own 
conclusions as to the present condition of the Ecole and 
the different improvements that could be made. 

Here then are the principles, together with certain 
formulas which follow as their corollaries. 

1 See Note F, p. 98. 



76 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

Art, in the sense in which we are discussing it, is 
the expression by form and colour of the artist's feeling* 

An artist, in the highest sense of the word, is in- 
spired with a passionate love of beauty ; he is a true 
lover of nature, and does not see her imperfections, but 
discovers beauties which escape the eye of the ordinary 
observer. These he combines and idealises in his work, 
impressing them with the stamp of his own personality. 

Artistic feeling, like any other true feeling, is essen- 
tially personal. It varies as the nature of the man that 
feels it. Hence the immense variety of styles in, art, 
ranging from the lofty conceptions of a Pheidias, a 
Raphael, or a Titian, to the light fancies of a Watteau, 
the wild fury of a Salvator, or the grotesques of a 
Callot. 

Unlike as they are, all these men are true artists, 
however different in degree. All have observed nature 
with the same sincerity, according to their instinctive 
preferences. Each of them, too, has learnt how to 
execute his works so as to affect us powerfully with the 
impression that it was given to him alone to receive. 
By showing us some personal view of nature, by giving 
us some fresh interpretation of her, or some idealised 
conception that she has inspired, by showing her as 
strong and terrible or gentle and sublime, these masters 
raise us to a higher plane of thought, or charm and 
refresh us, increasing in number and variety our store 
of exquisite and nobler enjoyments. The least among 
them has his use and takes his place of right in the 
chain of art, for his absence would mean the loss of a 
link. 

Art, then, when understood in its widest sense, 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 77 

consists not only of higher manifestations, but of all 
manifestations that bear the mark of passionate and 
individual conviction. And innumerable and magnifi- 
cent as such manifestations have been in the past, there 
is yet an inexhaustible store of them for the future, for 
the shades and variety of human feeling from which 
they spring are infinite in number and always fresh 
and new. 

From this we may, I think, logically deduce the 
following maxims : — 

ART IS ESSENTIALLY INDIVIDUAL. IT IS INDIVIDUALITY 

WHICH MAKES THjE ARTIST. 

From which consequently results a second formula : — 

ALL TEACHING, THAT IS REAL TEACHING, BASED UPON 
REASON AND GOOD SENSE, MUST MAKE IT ITS AIM TO KEEP 
THE ARTIST'S INDIVIDUAL FEELING PURE AND UNSPOILED, TO 
CULTIVATE IT AND BRING IT TO PERFECTION. 

With these principles to guide us, it is easy to 
judge calmly and impartially the different systems of 
art teaching which have succeeded each other until 
now, and also any that may be suggested in the future. 

Let us apply the test first to the Ecole des Beaux- 
Arts. 

The Ecole des Beaux-Arts has made it its mission 
to preserve and hand down the fine traditions of 
antiquity and the great masters. But its doctrines, 
although jtruly classical in principle, very soon deter- 
iorated in the hands of the academicians, who took 
their place in turn as the leaders of the French school, 
and controlled art teaching at the end of the last 
century. So much so, indeed, that David repudiated 



78 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

the doctrines of the Ecole at the time, declaring, 
in the name of the true antique tradition, that it was 
not maintaining tradition as it professed to do. He 
dared to assert openly that the official teaching was 
both false and injurious ; and went so far as to forbid 
his pupils to try for the prizes. The competitions 
appeared to him as a sort of spider's web, which 
the students could not touch unharmed, and without 
losing something of their own original sentiment and 
naiVete. 

We will not inquire too closely if David never 
allowed himself to tamper with the personal sentiment, 
to which he attached such value ; let us only bear 
witness to the fact that the alarm he felt at these 
competitions is largely justified, for we see that 
they have invariably produced exactly the disastrous 
consequences which that great artist foresaw and, 
feared. 

The young people who enter for these competi- 
tions naturally devote all their efforts to gaining the 
prizes. Unfortunately they usually consider that the 
surest and easiest means to this end is to imitate the 
prize works of previous competitions, which, to be 
sure, are carefully exhibited as examples that point the 
true road to success. 

Is the full effect of such misdirection understood 
even yet ? Do people really see how it leads most of 
the competitors to reject all ideas and inspiration of 
their own, and servilely to copy such work as the 
school holds up to honour and consecrates by success ? 

I ask all who have been at the Ecole des Beaux- 
Arts, Is not this what generally happens ? And 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 79 

sadder still, are not the students often heard to say 
that if they are trying to imitate the manner and style 
of such and such a prize work, it is not because they 
admire it ? They admit that they are perfectly aware 
that they are taking a direction quite opposed to their 
own taste and real artistic feeling ; but mean later to 
become themselves again, once the prize is won. But 
an artist's conviction is a religious faith, which cannot 
stoop without a sort of apostasy to such sordid cal- 
culations. 

Like honour, the artist's faith, 

Est comme une ile escarpee et sans bords ; 
On n'y saurait rentrer des qu'on en est dehors. 1 

The harm would not be beyond all cure if the 
young competitor only carried off the " grand prix " at 
his first attempt. But who can hope for such good 
hick ? And the pursuit of the c< Grand Prix de 
Rome " always absorbs many years, if not the whole 
of an artist's youth. 2 With scarcely an exception, no 
student succeeds in being even admitted. iq compete 
for this prize, that is he does not reach what is 
called the "entr£e en loge," till he has spent some 
years working exclusively to this end. It is the length 
of time spent in this way working against his natural 
instincts that is so dangerous to his chance of retaining 
his originality. 

Pupils who spend all their time at this competition 

1 Is like an island steep-cliffed without a beach ; once one has left it, one can 
never land on it again. 

2 Students may compete for the " Prix de Rome " who have not attained thirty- 
one years of age. The competitions referred to further on are for the purpose of 
selecting out of the thirty, or thirty-five students, who pass the preliminary trials, 
the ten who actually compete. These have to execute a picture in the "loge," or 
little studio in the school set apart for each competitor. — Translator. 



80 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

end like certain students trying for a degree, by caring 
much more for getting their diploma than for acquiring 
a knowledge of their subject. 

Two tests must be passed before one is admitted 
"en loge ,, : a sketch or composition of a given sub- 
ject, and a figure painted from nature. To practice, 
then, for these tests becomes the student's whole pre- 
occupation. Every day he devotes himself exclusively 
to making routine compositions and studies of the 
figure, always on the scale, and within the time limits 
prescribed, carefully copying the examination style. 

After whole years devoted to such practice, what 
can be left of the student's most precious qualities ? 
Of his naivete, his sincerity, his naturalness ? The 
exhibitions of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts give us only 
too clear an answer. 

Some of the competitors imitate the style of their 
master or some other well-known artist, others try to 
copy the work of recent prize-winners, the last exhibi- 
tion hit, or any picture that has greatly struck them. 

Such different influences may give an exhibition a 
certain apparent variety, but it is very different from 
the real variety and impression of originality that 
comes from personal inspiration. 

Let us admit at once that often much of the work 
shows real talent and skill : but what one does not 
often find are just the qualities one would expect to 
find most in young people's work — and they are the 
most interesting qualities, too, and those that show the 
greatest promise for the future — namely, spontaneity, 
go, naivete, freshness of impression ; in a word, the 
qualities of youth ! 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 81 

What can be the reason of a state of things so 
general and so unnatural, if it is not a system opposed 
to the free development of individuality ? 1 

I have pointed out some of the evils that belong to 
competitions, but there are others no less serious ; for 
competitions accustom the students to overlook the 
nobler and purer pleasure that is found in the 
pursuit of beauty in a search for praise and self- 
advancement. 

How can I reproach this generation for such faults 
as these ? How can I accuse the artists of to-day of 
turning art into a business, into a mere means to obtain 
fortune and honour ? How can I accuse them of the 
want of real conviction which separates our age so 
completely from the times of true artistic faith ? 

Is it not the training which, apparendy without the 
least suspicion of what it was doing, corrupted their 
artistic conscience in their youth, and turned it into 
evil courses ? 

I am perfectly aware of the general belief in the 
great advantages of competitions ; and for that very 
reason feel that I must lay stress upon the dangers that 
they cause when employed without judgment and 
moderation. 

In primary schools, public schools, and at college 
prizes have the undeniable merit of exciting emulation, 
and stimulating less gifted and more indolent natures. 
Now, in all these instances we have to deal with 
crowds, and must teach effectively the greatest number 
of people that we can, for the State can never have too 

1 All this is true, not only of the work done for the " Prix de Rome,'' but of all 
the work exhibited from the different classes in the school. 

G 



82 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

many well-educated citizens. But in a school of art it 
is a very different matter. There a crowd is the last 
thing that is wanted. Only those should be admitted 
to whom art is a calling, and who have unusual talent. 
The best students, those who have come through the 
severest tests, need no artificial stimulus to work. For 
if they really have the artistic temperament, which was 
the ground of their admission to the class, they have 
the true motive force in themselves, in the essential 
elements of love for nature and for art, in enthusiasm, 
and in intense convictions. 

For such students competitions are not only un- 
necessary but dangerous ; they distract young talent 
from the course of its natural development into waste- 
ful struggles and rivalries. A young artist should 
never aim at getting the better of his rivals, but should 
endeavour to excel his own past achievements by 
making continual progress in the development of his 
natural gifts. 

Must we conclude, then, that all prize competitions 
should be suppressed ? In my opinion, we should be 
careful not to be too precipitate. Full time should 
always be allowed for thinking out any alteration, how- 
ever badly reform is needed. 

So, for the moment, as the prizes have become the 
students' only stimulus, they must continue to be 
given, until we succeed in finding stronger and nobler 
attractions to take their place. 

In elementary schools of drawing, prizes will always 
be of the greatest use. What else can really influence 
the very young pupils who follow such preliminary 
courses ? At their age ideas and feelings of a higher 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 83 

order are still too undeveloped to respond to any other 
appeal that we can make to them. 

Even if the "Prix de Rome" is not suppressed, 
and I do not suppose it will be for many years to 
come, it is at least possible to reduce its evils very 
considerably. 

First, the reign of the old competitions must be 
publicly declared at an end, and the competitors must 
be persuaded that they need no longer be the slaves of 
convention, but are free to express with absolute sin- 
cerity whatever impressions they receive from nature. 

Further, the competitions must be so arranged that 
no one can tell in advance either the class or style of 
subject selected, or the scale or length of time arranged 
for its execution. The subjects ought to be made a 
complete surprise by being widely varied from yeai^ to 
year, and impossible to predict. 

Sculptors should be asked without warning for 
sculpture in low- or full-relief; painters for pictures 
one year, the next for decorative paintings or cartoons 
of any kind of unexpected shape and size. 

An even more radical change might be made by 
giving the big prize to the pupil who had, of his 
own initiative, produced the most remarkable and 
promising work of the year, executed in the school 
itself. 

It would be a very good thing, too, if prizes could 
be given in the same competition for two works of 
equal merit, however dissimilar in style, in order to 
establish the fact that a prize can be won in many 
different ways. 

By some such methods as these the Ecole des 



84 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

Beaux-Arts could perhaps free its competitions of the 
serious evils to which they give rise so readily. 

A few years ago there was still a " Prix de Rome " 
for landscape. The prize was much sought after, and 
the competitors all strove to acquire the style demanded 
for it, in those days called "historical landscape.'' 

In making studies from nature they only looked 
about for views that reminded them of Poussin's com- 
positions, and picked out only such of nature's skies, 
rocks, and trees as were "historical." But as nature 
does not often satisfy such requirements, they were 
forced to " arrange," or rather mutilate her, in order to 
give her the necessary "historical" character. The 
result was such an entire lack of truth, such a complete 
absence of all observation of nature, such a tedious 
repetition of the same forms ; in fine, such a wearisome 
combination of conventionality and pretension, that 
prize and competition alike were abolished. 1 

This bold step once taken, students were no longer 
distracted by thinking continually of the wretched prize, 
and set to work to study nature simply and without 
prejudice, with the sole purpose of recording the 
impressions received direct from her. A lead had 
already been given them in this direction by many 
landscape painters of distinction, who had broken fresh 
ground for themselves outside the influence of all prize 
competitions or routine. And it is through their 
action that we have to-day a school of landscape painting 
full of life and variety of which the country is so 
justly proud. 

We must do the old Ecole des Beaux- Arts the 

1 In 1857. 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 85 

justice of admitting that it was always its intention to 
raise the level of its teaching by basing it upon great 
tradition. But it forgot that the great masters, whose 
example it was continually quoting, were not satisfied 
merely to accept tradition as handed down to them by 
their predecessors, but sought how to combine it with 
the living elements of their own age, and thus become 
creators in their turn. 

Pheidias found traditions already established, which 
though splendid in principle were worn out and fettered 
by convention. He gave life to their dry bones, 
fusing in his works, at once so true to nature and 
sublime, fine tradition with fine realism, drawn from 
the splendid life of Greece around him. 

As one admires the cavalry of the Parthenon frieze 
one feels sure that Pheidias watched them passing 
through the streets of Athens. At the time of the 
Renaissance, did not Raphael, fired with enthusiasm 
for the antique masterpieces that had only recently 
been discovered, infuse his style with the types and 
life of his own time, as well as with the grandeur and 
beauty that he borrowed from the ancients ? 

Great artists such as Titian and Veronese, sur- 
rounded by the luxury, the pomp of ceremonies, the 
flash of silk and brocade of the Venice of their day, 
joined, in their sumptuous canvases, the glowing im- 
pressions of all these gorgeous effects of colour to the 
tradition of the great works which were produced before 
their day, so that on every hand we see in the work of 
great masters the alliance of tradition and of living 
nature. 

The incompleteness of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts 



86 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

has been due to its exclusive pre-occupation with tradi- 
tion. No doubt it believed its teaching to be sufficiently 
closely in touch with nature through the life class for 
drawing from the figure, an error shared by every 
other school of the day. 

Drawing from the life is undeniably of the greatest 
use, but it can hardly be considered to constitute the 
complete study of nature. How can a model, fagged 
\yith the strain of posing, and lighted by the monotonous 
north light of the studio, give even the faintest idea or 
man when free in his natural movements, out in the 
fresh air and the open country, and lighted by the sky ? 

It is incontestable that the pictorial moments of 
nature, as she lives and moves, can only be seized by 
very rapid observation. And such impressions as 
young artists receive are generally too fleeting to be 
of much practical use to them unless they have been 
properly trained. Consequently, to make the study 
of living nature really possible, it is necessary that 
the faculties of observation and memory should be 
previously developed by practice. 

I have made a very close study of the subject, and 
have shown that these faculties can be developed to 
such a remarkable degree as to permit henceforth the 
introduction into every school of a study of nature 
completer than was ever possible before. For it 
throws open to the students the immense field, almost 
unexplored, of living action, and changing, fugitive 
effects. 

A few years ago I published, under the title of " The 
Training of the Memory in Art," a special study of 
this question. And I wish to refer the reader particularly 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 87 

to the section called "Advanced Study." 1 It" opens 
with an account of some of my experiments, in which I 
made my pupils first observe, and then draw or paint 
from memory nude and draped models, not posing on 
a stand, but moving freely at their pleasure, in the 
open air, in the midst of a fine park. In this way they 
got what they could never get in the school, the study 
of the human figure developed and ennobled in the 
fulness of the beauty that belongs to it in action among 
the endless variety of nature's effects of form and 
colour. 

Living and picturesque scenes like these furnish the 
observation and the imagination with material for the 
higher walks of art, such as modern civilisation rarely 
offers. For through them the students, instead of 
absorbing a "grand style " ready-made beforehand, are 
inspired to a granci style that is really their own. 

Before closing this short summary of my views and 
opinions upon teaching, I wish to make it quite clear 
that the last thing that I propose is that my ideas 
should be applied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, or any 
of the other schools, in their present condition. For 
if they are to bear good fruit it is not sufficient in 
itself that the students should have been trained in 
memory work. They must also never have had their 
real natures, their own originality of feeling, distorted 
or corrupted by false teaching, by the temptations of 
prize competitions, or other bad influences. 

There are, no doubt, here and there in the schools 
a few rare natures that have escaped the contagion. 
But to make simple and naive again those who have 

1 See p. 29. 



88 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

long lost these qualities is a task of surpassing difficulty, 
for it is to restore to them, so to speak, their lost 
artistic virginity. 

So convinced am I that my method would be un- 
likely at present to meet with the conditions necessary 
to its success, that I would rather defer its introduction 
into the official schools. I think it is much better 
merely to call attention in a general way to art teaching, 
contenting myself by laying before such men of judg- 
ment as take a serious interest in this important 
question the observations, ideas, and principles which 
I have had occasion to collect during many years' 
practice as a teacher. 



EPILOGUE 

For some time past new systems of drawing have been 
appearing in great numbers, each in turn declaring 
itself superior to all others both in method and results, 
and clamouring to be adopted exclusively by the State 
or the town. 

If we are to choose amongst these diverse rival 
theories with any certainty, we must do exactly the 
opposite of what has been done up till now, and before 
adopting any must examine them in a systematic and 
rational way, so as to avoid the false conclusions so 
common in such matters. 

Mistakes such as have been made in the past would 
be doubly disastrous now, when there is an idea of 
founding a training college for forming art masters. 
The idea of such a foundation is excellent, but only 
upon the condition of its being thoroughly thought 
out and understood beforehand ; for it could lead as 
readily to the spreading of darkness as of light, not 
only among the youth of our day, but of the next 
generation as well. 

In training art teachers the first thing to be decided 
is exacdy the doctrine you wish to teach them ; and 
to have an opinion of real value on the question, it is 
indispensable to make experiment and comparison of 

89 



9 o A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

different methods, which, as a rule, is exactly what is 
not done. A new method is usually taken up without 
having been subjected to the test of practice, and 
through being adopted officially and imposed on all 
public schools, becomes a monopoly which prevents 
the appearance of any rival. As a consequence all 
comparison of different ways of teaching is rendered 
impossible, for the only sure means of gauging and 
recognising the value of even the best and most 
practical innovations has been lost. Is it not time 
that such stagnation in art teaching should be ended ? 
And if teaching is to be revived and enter the path 
of progress, we must decide at once to allow all new 
methods, which seem worthy of consideration, to show 
their value through comparative tests. The numerous 
schools belonging to the town and the State offer a 
wide field for such highly interesting experiments. 
The inspectors, who overlook the work done in these 
establishments, would then have a very simple and 
useful duty to perform. It would become their 
business not to interfere with the methods of teaching 
which were on trial, but only to guarantee that the pro- 
fessors were faithfully carrying out the method they 
were applying. 

And the programme of each method should be very 
carefully drawn up, precisely setting forth every element 
considered indispensable to its success, such as its special 
principles and aim, the nature of its exercises, with the 
order in which they should be taken, and all other 
necessary conditions. By clearly defining the method 
in this way all uncertainty as to its purpose would be 
removed, and the absolute honesty which is so neces- 



EPILOGUE 9 1 

sary to the proper appreciation of new theories would 
be guaranteed. All changes and improvements in the 
course of experiment would be permitted, but an exact 
record would be kept of them. And thus all fraud 
would become impossible, and there could be no 
borrowing from other methods to cover up some 
failure in the system upon trial. The tests could no 
longer be falsified, and would consequently become 
truly instructive and conclusive. It is only after sub- 
jection to trial under perfectly honest conditions that 
methods can be judged and adopted with any real 
certainty. For then their adoption results from 
positive and regular proofs of their merit, and 
ceases to depend, as is too often the case now, upon 
self-advertisement, obstruction, or favouritism. 



NOTES TO THE EDITION OF 1879 

Although the publication of the present edition has been 
advertised for some time, I thought it right to postpone it until 
after the opening of the universal exhibition of 1878. It 
seemed absolutely essential that I should see what this great 
exhibition of the world's progress had to show in the way of 
new discoveries in the teaching of fine art, that I might take 
them into account before publication. After a close examina^ 
tion of the work shown by the art schools, it did not take me 
long to decide that there were no changes of any real im- 
portance. 

What are the obstacles to progress in art teaching ? What 
are the means by which it could be given a fresh impulse ? 
These are the questions treated of in the pamphlet which I was 
begged to republish, and the state of teaching at the moment 
seems to me to confirm the need of such republication. 

I have therefore decided to publish a fresh edition of it as it 
stands, only adding the notes that follow. 

Note A (from p. 58) 

The foreign schools of art sent so few specimens of their 
work to our great exhibition of 1878 that it is impossible to 
judge their relative merit. It is much to be regretted, for one 
would have liked to have seen exhibits from all the schools that 
took part in the exhibition of 1867, especially from that of 
Bavaria, which then gained the first prize, although its work 
was so lacking in variety. 

Our national system of teaching was open to this same 
reproach of uniformity, and at the time I called attention to 

92 



NOTES 



93 



it, pointing out the danger that might result. Were my 
fears well-founded ? We can judge of that to-day. 

The first thing that strikes a visitor to the work of the 
French art schools in the exhibition of 1878 is their evident 
monotony. No doubt if one were to compare the drawings 
very carefully, one would discover slight differences in their 
degrees of strength and accomplishment ; but it is impossible 
to find any appreciable difference in manner of execution or in 
feeling. Everywhere we find the same effect, the same uniform 
process of execution, the same complete absence of personal 
initiative, or ingenuity, or independent invention. When one 
reflects how students differ from each other in natural character- 
istics, in all the delicate variations of mind and body, one asks 
what is this method that results in making them all so much 
alike ? Where can this early effacement of individuality lead 
to later, unless it be to the reduction of all talent to the same 
level of commonplace ? Many right-thinking people, while 
seeing clearly enough how odd and evil such a system of teach- 
ing is, do not seem to be properly alarmed at it. Truly they 
say modern teaching often chokes the germs of natural talent, 
represses all true and spontaneous enthusiasm, and reduces all 
intelligence to the same level ; but once school-work is over 
the real artists revolt against these early bad influences, and set 
to work to remake their originality. 

Unfortunately young people, whose artistic faculties have 
not suffered irreparable injury through an education which is at 
once commonplace and repressive, are very rare. The more 
intelligent ones recognise, but often very late, the false path 
which they are pursuing. By sheer force of will and energy 
they sometimes succeed in forgetting what they have learnt, and 
arrive at creating a manner of their own, both independent 
and original. But such manufactured originality can never 
have quite the sincerity or the simplicity which their natural 
originality would have retained, if it had been kept pure and 
uninjured while being properly developed. 



94 



A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 



Note B (from p. 60) 

I must call attention to a grave oversight in the exhibitions 
of the work of our schools, which has deprived them of a great 
deal of their interest and value. 

From the very first of the exhibitions, organised by the 
Central Union for making the conditions of art teaching in 
France better known, regret has been constantly expressed that 
there was no proof that the results shown by the schools were 
really bona fide. It is evident that in such a matter the honesty 
must not be left to be taken for granted, but must be estab- 
lished by proof beyond all question. For instance, there must 
be an absolute guarantee that the pupils are really of the age, 
and have only worked for the time stated, and that their draw- 
ings have not been retouched by masters or old students, who 
have left the school long ago and finished their education else- 
where. Without such definite guarantees upon these essential 
points, the real use of school exhibitions is entirely thrown 
away, for it becomes quite impossible to judge with any 
certainty the merit of the drawings, the value of the system 
employed, or the worth of the teachers. And, further, it is 
very important that the exhibitors who play fair— and happily 
they are the great majority— should not suffer for their 
honesty. 

It is no doubt for reasons such as these that the Central 
Union has decided not to exhibit the work done in any com- 
petitions, except such as are held upon lines laid down by 
themselves and under their own eye. 

Schools might follow their example, or, if they prefer it, 
could follow the practice that I adopted at the time of the 
exhibition of 1867. 

As head of the National School of Drawing, and in accord- 
ance with the wishes of the Council, it was my duty to exhibit 
the memory drawings made by my pupils under my method. 
It is clear that it was of the first importance to me to establish 
beyond all question that the drawings had really been done 
from memory. I hoped also to introduce, through my initiative, 



NOTES 95 

into all art schools the practice of holding genuinely honest 
exhibitions. 

My views upon this subject having been highly approved by 
the Education Committee for the Universal Exhibition, of 
which I was a member, as well as by the committee of the 
Section of Fine Art, a commission was formed to carry out the 
tests I had suggested, composed of men of distinction qualified 
for the purpose. 

To show the interest taken at this time in everything con- 
cerning the teaching of art, I will give the names of a few or 
the members of the commission : The Count of Niewer- 
kerque, director of Fine Arts ; Eugene Guillaume, member 
of the Institute, director of the Jtcole des Beaux -Arts -, 
Auguste Couder, member of the Institute $ Philibert Pompee, 
Mayor of Ivry, Inspector of Public Instruction. 

It was arranged that my pupils should execute their drawings 
from memory in one of the rooms at the Ecole des Beaux- 
Arts, 1 in the presence of examiners who never left the room. 
The director, Monsieur Guillaume, handed to each of the pupils 
as they came in a sheet of paper bearing the stamp of the school, 
which consequently could not be changed for another sheet, 
and was the one that had to be used for the drawing. At the 
end of each sitting the sheet was returned to the director, by 
whom it was given back to the pupil at the beginning of the 
next sitting, so that he might go on with the drawing that he 
had begun. Further, to add to the completeness of the guarantee, 
members of the commission came in turn, and without warning^ 
to visit the pupils and to watch them actually at work, so as 
to be able to testify that the drawings were' done truly from 
memory, and that all was honest and above-board. 

I cannot see why there should be any difficulty, even in 
quite small places, in arranging similar safeguards in any 
examination in which schools take part. Well-known people, 
or even public authorities, would not refuse to lend their help 

1 Sec the drawings by Bellenger, Lhermitte, etc., reproduced at the end of the 
book. 



96 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

during a few days, or even a week or two, in the cause of 
honesty and to serve so useful an end. 

Finally, the question of a school's taking part in big public 
exhibitions should be left, as far as possible, to the decision ? of 
the professors ; for, though competitions may be very useful as 
a spur, they can also be very vexatious if allowed to interrupt a 
course of teaching at a moment which should be devoted to 
study and preparation. 



Note C (from p. 62) 

Under the name of "Methods of Drawing" there have 
been produced in all ages capricious systems destined by their 
entire lack of reason and good sense to come rapidly to grief ; 
but as often as not they are none the less welcomed for that, 
either through favouritism or infatuation. And the reason of 
it is that these so-called methods never fail to promise that 
they will shorten the period of study, or even do away with it 
almost altogether ! Such claims, instead of being a recom- 
mendation, should at once lay them open to suspicion. In all 
education, time is one of the absolutely necessary factors to be 
reckoned with. An idea planted in the mind must, like seed 
sown in the earth, have its proper time to germinate. In the 
case of drawing it is not only a question of understanding, it 
is a matter of actual performance. And, however clear the 
teaching is, and however well it is assimilated, execution can 
only be acquired by persistent exercise and after long practice. 



Note D (from p. 63) 

The first copies should be of such a kind that beginners can 
imitate them with absolute exactness ; for close attention and 
fidelity of imitation are the only means by which they can 
attain to the correctness which is the first faculty to be acquired. 
Interpretation must only begin with drawing from the round 
and from nature. Later, when the students have developed 



NOTES 97 

their own really personal way of seeing, they will naturally 
and legitimately slip away from exact imitation. 

Truth in art is not photographic truth, as many people 
seem to think nowadays. Numbers of painters seem, under the 
influence of this idea, to be entering into a rivalry with the 
camera, as laborious as it is futile. I grant that in the direc- 
tion of detail and illusion they have achieved results such as 
the great old masters neither dreamt of nor tried for. Yet to 
appreciate this triumph of the moderns at its proper value, let 
us suppose for a moment that photography were to succeed 
one day in reproducing and fixing colour. In that case where 
would the most detailed and most successful imitation be in 
comparison with pictures of nature that were similar to a reflec- 
tion in a looking-glass ? While the works of great masters, 
such as Raphael, Titian, Michael Angelo, and others, would 
not only not lose by comparison with the mechanical pictures 
of photography, but would appear all the finer. What makes 
real art would then be far better understood, and it would be 
admitted beyond question that art is not just nature, but is the 
interpretation of nature through human feeling and human 
genius. 

Note E (from p. 73) 

Many new names have been proposed at one time or 
another for the National School of Drawing, notably that of 
the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs. 1 Such a title calls attention, 
it is true, to its special purpose, and marks its independence of 
the £cole des Beaux- Arts. But it makes no mention of the 
most important function that it ought to be made to serve, that 
of being the "Central School," which it would become through 
organising its teaching of drawing on lines so thorough and so 
wide as to satisfy the requirements of all the different purposes 
to which drawing is applied. 

If the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs is to be protected in its 

1 This was written in 1873, after de Boisbaudran had retired from being its head 
in 1869. The school now bears this name. — Translator. 

H 



98 A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 

early stages from losing its advanced students, and if the dis- 
tressing overcrowding of the profession of fine as distinguished 
from applied art is not to be aggravated, all students wishing 
to enter the £cole des Beaux-Arts must be refused admission 
unless they can pass the test of really stiff examinations. 

Finally, it is clear how important it is that the two schools 
should be reorganised together, whenever either of them requires 
reformation or even modification ; for the lack of such com- 
bined organisation must lead to overlapping and to a confusion of 
their functions and character which puts them at cross-purposes, 
and can only result in antagonism and waste of power. 

Note F (from p. 75) 

A serious obstacle to the proper teaching of decorative art 
is the custom which has grown up lately in manufacture of 
designating the precise style in which work is to be done, 
without allowing the artist any opportunity of using his own 
ideas. For instance, a Gothic coffer is asked for, or a Re- 
naissance vase, or a piece of Louis XV. furniture. It is 
perfectly plain that none of these styles could ever have 
originated or developed under such conditions. The ex- 
clusive admiration for old work is an obstacle so difficult 
to overcome, that in ornamentation our age runs the risk of 
leaving no trace of its existence, nor any style with a character 
of its own. One can hardly give the name of style to mere 
arrangements and combinations, however great the taste and 
ingenuity they show. 1 

Most professors, so far from resisting this tendency, try 
rather to fall in with it, their chief aim being that their 
students should know every style that has been created in the 
past. The irresistible demands of manufacture and commerce 
make the continuance of such routine teaching inevitable, but 
it must be strictly excluded from all earlier studies, else it will 
kill invention at its birth and prevent the young decorator 

1 This was written, the reader should remember, in 1873. — Translator. 



NOTES 99 

from ever developing ideas of his own. Instead, then, of 
putting young students too soon to the study and imitation of 
the past, would it not be far better to set them, as soon as 
possible, face to face with nature, so that they might study 
her sincerely for themselves, in the freshness and independence 
of their own ideas, and find in her material of their own 
for personal conceptions ? In this way we might, perhaps, 
succeed in breaking through the endless round in which 
modern decorative art turns unceasingly a prisoner. 

This does not mean that our age is to fail in appreciation 
of, or reject the different styles of other times, but it is only 
right that it should add some riches of its own creation to the 
store of treasure left us from the past. 



ioo A SURVEY OF ART TEACHING 



APPENDIX (from p. 71) 

As an instance of how closely de Boisbaudran is supported by 
authority, I give a passage from Leonardo da Vinci's Note- 
books, translated by M'Curdy (Duckworth & Co., 1906) : — 
"On games in which draughtsmen should indulge.— When 
you draughtsmen wish to find some profitable recreation in 
games, you should always practise things which may be of use 
in your profession, that is, by giving your eye accuracy of 
judgment, so that it may know how to estimate the truth as 
to the length and breadth of objects. So in order to accustom 
the mind to such things, let one of you draw a straight line 
anywhere on a wall, and then let each of you take a light rush 
or straw in his hand, and let each cut his own to the length 
which the first line appears to him when he is distant from it 
a space of ten braccio, and then let each go up to the copy in 
order to measure it against the length which he has judged it 
to be, and he whose measure comes nearest to the length of 
the copy has done best and is the winner, and he should receive 
from all the prize which was previously agreed upon by you. 
Furthermore, you should take measurements foreshortened, 
that is, you should take a spear or some other stick and look 
before you to a certain point of distance, and then let each set 
himself to reckon how many times this measure is contained 
in the said distance. Another thing is to see who can draw 
the best line one braccio in length, and this may be tested by 
tightly-drawn thread. Diversions such as these enable the eye 
to acquire accuracy of judgment, and this is the primary 
essential of painting." — Translator. 



LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

SUMMARY OF A METHOD OF TEACHING 
DRAWING AND PAINTING 



IOI 



INTRODUCTION 

The publication of my last pamphlet, " A Survey of 
Art Teaching," has caused a number of artists who find 
themselves in agreement with my ideas to ask me to 
publish a " Method." They consider that I can do no 
less, after my severe criticisms of the various methods 
of teaching actually in use. My judgment of the 
others, they declare, can only have been formed by 
comparing them with some method that I think better, 
and I ought therefore to submit this true method of 
mine to criticism. 

The true one ! That is far too exclusive a word. 
There is not, and can never be, only one method. 
Every sensible teacher should have full liberty to 
construct his own method, provided always that he 
bases it upon true principles and rational deductions. 

My friends, however, insisted. The poorness of 
contemporary teaching seemed to them to be due to a 
general ignorance of true principles. If you believe 
yourself to possess such principles, they argued, it is 
your duty to make them known, and to spread them 
abroad. And further, even when your principles are 
once accepted, you have surely a way of your own of 
teaching them, which seems to you the best after your 
long practice and constant experiment. Could you not 
let that also be put to the test of criticism ? 

103 



io 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

I was, I confess, rather scared at the idea, and was 
disinclined to follow their suggestion, well meant as it 
was, when there appeared quite another motive for 
doing so. An old pupil of mine, a young artist of 
talent, 1 who had just been appointed art master of one 
of our provincial art schools, begged me to help him by 
recapitulating to him the chief points of my method of 
teaching. And so I decided to publish these letters, 
written to my friend, under the title of " Letters to a 
Young Professor." They contain the exposition of my 
method asked for, and will, I hope, while satisfying my 
friends and well-wishers, be of some public value. 

These few letters contain a rapid survey of my 
methods, the essential gist of my teaching. They form 
indeed but a short summary, a sort of guide, that gives 
the more important directions, while it leaves the 
teacher full liberty of action, within the limits of its 
fundamental principles. 

I have already treated in the two previous pamphlets 
some of the subjects to which I shall call attention here. 
If the reader likes to refer to them, he will find that 
they contain explanations and amplification of certain 
points, which will help him to complete this very short 
statement. I shall give references back to the more 
important passages which he should consult, and shall 
further complete the instruction given in these letters 
by some additional notes. 

Before I actually begin, I should like to set forth 
certain reflections suggested to me by the wide diverg- 
ence of contemporary opinion upon questions of art 
teaching. 

1 J. C. Cazin, at Tours. 



INTRODUCTION 105 

For instance, I am perfectly aware of the strong 
objection that is felt against all copies, either drawn or 
engraved, especially those that represent figures or 
parts of figures. We are still suffering from the 
perfectly legitimate irritation caused by the dreadful 
copies of Reverdin and Julien, so full of complicated and 
pretentious cross-hatchings. Experience has indeed 
condemned them once for all. Their faultiness and 
the excessive employment of them sufficiently explain 
the present strong reaction against all copies. But we 
must be upon our guard against its becoming too 
violent, or it will result in its turn in a counter-reaction, 
such as all exaggeration brings. 1 

The thing then for us to do to-day, is to simplify- 
both outlines and shadows as much as we possibly can. 
For copies can only be a useful step in a student's 
education upon the condition of their never losing such 
simplicity. For then the professor can insist upon 
their being copied absolutely perfectly, since they never 
vary, and do not permit of interpretation or mere 
approximation. 

Copies are indeed especially fitted to exercise and 
develop the primary faculties of correctness and pre- 
cision, essential faculties, which, like tools, must be 
sharpened before work, or the result will be sure to 
show signs of bad workmanship. Copying drawings is 
a very useful transition from the study of geometrical 
figures to drawing from casts. I shall examine this 
particular point very thoroughly when I return to it 
later on. 

After years of neglect, the question of how to 

1 See Note A, p. 168. 



106 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

teach drawing has been taken up again with the most 
laudable enthusiasm. Numberless people, all apparently 
equally convinced of the merit of their own theories, 
bring forward a system, and ask that it should be 
adopted. 

It is much to be wished that the State, instead of 
adopting only one particular method at a time, should 
adopt several, and should thus encourage private enter- 
prise. For then we should see teaching gain new life 
from the healthy rivalry excited between the pupils and 
masters, working with different methods. 

Nothing is more favourable to art and the teaching 
of art at every stage, than liberty and spontaneity ; 
nothing is more obstructive than excessive centralisation, 
narrow rules, and uniformity. 



FIRST LETTER 

My dear Friend — You ask me to help you in your 
new profession of art teacher by describing to you 
the essential principles that I employed or discovered 
in my own teaching. I will do my very best to help 
you, but I am afraid that I shall be of very little use 
to you, and shall forfeit your good opinion of me as a 
teacher if I keep too strictly within the terms of your 
request. 

Methods of teaching have no inherent virtue in 
themselves, for, like medicines or processes of cultiva- 
tion, they are useful or injurious according to the 
moment of their application, and the degree in which 
they are employed. To have a good effect they must 
be applied in their proper order, and the proper order 
cannot be determined until we know exactly the end 
for which we are making, and really understand the 
principles upon which the means to attain this end 
must be based. 

In my last pamphlet, in which I treated this im- 
portant question of the aim and principles of teaching 
from many points of view, I enunciated the formulas 
which follow : — 

"Art is essentially individual. It is individuality 
which makes the artist. 

107 



108 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

"From which consequently results a second for- 
mula : — 

"All teaching, that is, real teaching, based upon 
reason and good sense, must make it its aim to keep 
the artist's individual feeling pure and unspoiled, to 
cultivate it, and bring it to perfection." 1 

Therefore it should be the aim of every teacher, of 
whatever grade, to develop the natural gifts of every 
pupil. And so I conclude that of all exercises, pro- 
cesses, and principles of teaching, the best are those 
which lead most surely and directly to this end. 

There is one fundamental and absolute principle 
which must control their choice and the order of their 
arrangement. It is the principle of the progressive 
development of the artistic faculties , that is, the gradation 
of the difficulty of the exercises used? 

Now that I have laid down these first principles, the 
fundamental basis of my teaching, which I take as 
universally accepted, for they have never been seriously 
challenged, I will begin by dividing my subject into five 
parts or stages of education. 

It is in no sense an arbitrary division. For it is as 
the result of long study and experiment that I consider 
it to be the best order in which to arrange the different 
studies. These five stages in the entire journey of 
complete artistic education, by being thus kept distinct, 
make it easier for masters and for schools, whose 
teaching is restricted or directed to special purposes, to 
choose the point in the complete course where they 
should stop, for it gives them clear grounds on which 
to base their decision. 

1 From " A Survey of Art Teaching," p. yj. 2 See Note B, p. 168. 



FIRST LETTER 109 

The First Stage 1 

Drawing is the essential base of all those arts which 
are called, and indeed for this very reason, The Graphic 
Arts. 

Outline is the simplest method of graphic expression. 
Therefore I begin my teaching with outline-drawing. 2 

To make these first steps, which have such an 
influence upon all subsequent studies, the better under- 
stood, I will give specimens of a few of the elementary 
lessons. 

First Lesson 

Provide the pupil with a sheet of white paper, a 
black pencil, and some bread to rub out with, and seat 
him at a sloping table or desk. Place the copy 
vertically in front of him. The first copy is a straight 
line. 3 

The following words contain the general sense of the 
directions which the professor should give the pupil : — 

" You must imitate the line AB upon your paper 
exactly as you see it in the copy. You must 
reproduce it exactly in size and precision. You 
must needs begin with one or other of the 
extremities of the line. Suppose you begin 
with the point A. Place it as you like upon 
your paper as a point of departure. Now if 
you had the point B placed on your paper 
in the same relation to the point A as it 
bears to it in the copy, you would only have 
to draw the line that joins the two points. FiEst Figure 
Try then to find the position of the point B by 

1 See Note C, p. 170. 2 See Note D, p. 170. 3 See Note E, p. 171. 



no LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

gauging the distance which separates it from the point 
A, measuring this only by eye, for any measuring 
with instruments does away with the very exercise 
through which alone accuracy of eye can be cultivated." 

The point being found by the pupil with sufficient 
accuracy, * after more or less correction, the professor 
goes on :— 

" Now you must draw the line which joins the point 
of departure to the second point. Do not try and do 
it at a stroke. 1 It is better to prepare it first, with a 
series of dots at a little distance from each other. Rub 
out these dots lightly with bread, so that there remain 
only the palest marks, over which you must draw the 
definitive line of the exact size and precision of the 
copy." 

Simple as this first exercise is, it will almost invari- 
ably be found difficult, and it will generally be necessary 
to begin it several times over. 

The professor must be very exacting as to the result 
of this first lesson. It is a principle of the greatest 
importance that the pupil should never pass on to a 
greater difficulty before he has mastered the difficulty 
that precedes it. For this is the only way of making 
him surely and successfully pass through all the pro- 
gressive stages of his education. 

Children, ever eager for change, readily clamour for 
new copies. Certain teachers believe that it increases 
their interest and enthusiasm if they give in to their 
whims, but this is a serious and lamentable mistake. 
For, as his importunity has won him one new copy, 
the child soon clamours for another. And so, recoiling 

1 See Note F, p. 171. 



FIRST LETTER in 

from the slightest difficulty, he never really masters 
any of his tasks, and will always remain in his original 
state of ignorance. The more often the copies are 
changed, the more complicated and difficult they be- 
come, until at last they are too great to conquer, and 
the pupil, recognising his inability to overcome them, 
relapses into disgust and incurable discouragement. 

If, on the contrary, the teacher remains strictly 
faithful to the method, and compels the beginner, even 
in his vety first drawing, to persist until the result is 
satisfactory, by making him clearly understand that this 
is the only way in which he can reach a new copy, he 
will exert himself and will end by succeeding. And 
his success, when it comes, will be all the sweeter to him 
for the very efforts he has had to make, painful as they 
often are. He will also have a satisfaction in his work, 
if only the drawing of a straight line, once he has 
become capable of executing it cleanly and with pre- 
cision. And, pleased with his first success, he will be 
ready for a new struggle, and will thus acquire from 
the very outset the healthy and rewarding habit of 
perseverance. 

Second Lesson 

After this preliminary lesson we pass on to a second 
copy, for instance a square, which has the advantage of 
compelling the pupil to repeat his previous exercise 
four times over, while it familiarises his eye and hand 
with lines, horizontal, vertical, and parallel. 

Although in the study of geometry and mechani- 
cal drawing with instruments the students learn the 



ii2 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 



Second Figure- 



principle of a square, and the definitions of horizontal, 
vertical, and parallel lines, such ideas are well worth 

repeating. Moreover, they 
make for good execution, 
which ought in this case to 
resemble, as nearly as possible, 
execution with ruler and com- 
pass. 1 

The professor then must 
insist upon absolute exactness 
of size, with accuracy and 
purity of line, before allowing 
the study of even such an elementary curve as is 
given in the third copy, which represents a circle 
inscribed in a square. 

Third Lesson 

The pupil, after having drawn a square as before, 
must add the diagonals AD and BC ; then he must 
divide each of the four sides A H D 

of the square in half, with- 
out the help of any instru- 
ment, and mark the points 
of division, H, E, G, F ; 
next he must draw the lines 
HG, EF. The professor 
will now call the pupils' 
attention to the fact, that in 
the copy the quarter of the 
circle with which he is deal- 
ing touches the straight lines at three points, viz. 

1 See Note G, p. 172. 



•N. ' A 



o 

Third Figure 



FIRST LETTER 113 

E, I, H, of which the two points E, H are already 
established in his drawing. If in his drawing he 
now marks off on the diagonal AD the point I, 
judging its distance from the point A by eye, he 
will have established the three guiding points E, I, 
H, through which the first quarter of the circle must 
pass. Repeating the same operation three times over 
for the other three quarters, he will have his points for 
the whole circle. 

The professor should be careful to remind the pupil, 
naturally disposed to actwithout reflection or method, that 
he must not draw gaily away with a free hand, but that, 
whether drawing the straight lines or the arcs of the circle, 
he should always proceed tentatively, by first setting out 
dots to assist him in achieving rightness of lines and 
accuracy of form. He will be helped in drawing his 
curve by the proximity of the straight lines AE, AH ? 
with which he should compare it, observing how 
different points on the curve approach or recede from 
these straight lines, which are its tangents. The use of 
the straight lines in judging the degree of curvature 
will become still clearer when the chord EH is drawn, 
which will make the appreciation of the arc of the 
circle EIH still easier. 

The pupil will quickly appreciate for himself how 
helpful the horizontal and vertical lines in the copy are, 
both in deciding the guiding points, and in judging the 
shape of the curves through comparison with straight 
lines. This is the moment to remind him that these 
lines, so kindly drawn to help him here, will not exist 
in the next copies that he is given, nor perforce will 
they be found upon natural objects when the time comes 



ii 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 



for him to draw them. Ought we then to refuse their 
help ? Far from it. But we must learn to draw them 
imaginarily, either by tracing them in the air or by 
holding up the pencil to represent them. This is the 
lesson taught by the fourth copy. It is an exercise of 
great importance for beginners, and particular attention 
should be paid to it. 

Fourth Lesson 

To make the explanation of this the clearer, I have 
shown on the one side the copy without the working 

lines, and on the other 
side the student's 
drawing from it as it 
would appear with the 
working lines dotted 





in. 



Let us take the 
point A as our point 
of departure, and place 
Fourth Figure it where we like upon 

our paper. Then from the point A in the copy let fall a 
vertical line of indefinite length, an imaginary line, that 
is drawn only in space or represented by holding up the 
pencil. We shall see this imaginary line pass through 
the point B in the copy. From the point A in our 
drawing let fall similarly a vertical line of indefinite 
length, but this time actually drawn upon the paper ; on 
it mark off the distance AB, after judging its length by 
eye without the help of any measurement. Having 
thus established the length of the drawing, let us now 
determine its breadth. 



FIRST LETTER 115 

After observing that in the copy the point C is the 
most prominent point, and that consequently the figure 
is widest here, let us draw from this point an imaginary 
horizontal line of indefinite length, which will cut the 
imaginary vertical line AB in an imaginary point E, at 
a distance from the point A which we must judge by 
eye, retain in our memory, and mark off in our drawing 
at E. Through this point E let us draw upon our 
paper a horizontal line of indefinite length. Returning 
now to the imaginary point E in the copy, we have 
only to judge the distance EC and mark off a similar 
length at C upon the horizontal line EC in our drawing. 
Thus we have three points of departure, A, B, C, for 
drawing the required curve. 

This method for determining the different points, 
by which the placing and shape of the figure were so 
readily established, is only the fundamental method of 
all drawing ; and in contradistinction to all methods 
based upon false principles, will need no modification 
later. It is a method as applicable to drawing from 
natural objects as it is to drawing from flat copies, that 
is, to drawing the most elementary and the most 
advanced. 

It is a method employed daily by most artists, 
although numbers of them are quite unconscious of it, 
having only arrived at it after much groping and loss 
of time. 

It is in no sense a case of teaching new and arbitrary 
ideas to children, but of initiating them from the first 
into the practice of a method to which they must 
surely come, though often only by steps both slow 
and! indirect. To reach it more directly and more 



1x6 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

perfectly, it is necessary to proceed methodically and 
with an understanding of cause and effect, in fact to 
replace empiricism by method. 

Once the pupil has grasped the fact that the first 
thing in placing a drawing and establishing the masses 
is to judge the relative position of points, he will soon 
learn to pick out such of the salient points as are most 
helpful for this purpose, and to neglect the less 
important. 

In this way he will be led quite naturally to a living 
and intelligent understanding of masses, and will 
appreciate that he should begin by determining them 
rapidly by certain of their principal points, instead of 
falling into the common error of scribbling them in 
anyhow. For the determination of such points there 
are indeed many other means that the student might 
employ, such as sloping lines, angles of different 
degrees and the like ; but when the matter is carefully 
considered, it becomes clear that it is horizontal and 
vertical lines alone that form a really positive basis of 
comparison. For they alone have exact and constant 
positions, and should therefore be exclusively employed 
by beginners. 

I think it is unnecessary to insist further upon the 
service of horizontal and vertical lines. The examples 
I have just given of their use in the elementary lessons 
should suffice to make the teacher understand the 
principle of the method, and how it is applied at the 
start. It is his business to explain it thoroughly by 
amplification, and by contriving various occasions for 
its use, in a series of five or six copies, which should 
consist of curves of gradually increasing difficulty. 



FIRST LETTER 117 

These copies must never exceed the degree of simplicity, 
which essentially belongs to the first stage of our 
teaching, and must always be within the student's 
capabilities, so that a high standard of execution can be 
maintained. 

The teacher must overlook the pupil in his first 
attempts with the greatest care, to make sure of his 
using these principles properly, and of his really 
understanding what he is doing ; for the object is to 
make him contract so firm a habit that he will arrive 
at using them without thinking of them, and so to 
speak, instinctively. Drawing should iii this resemble 
reading, where the mind must be quite unconscious of 
the complicated processes involved in the act of reading, 
if it is to appreciate the sense to the full. 

If the pupil has regularly followed* under the care 
of a watchful teacher, the course I have sketched but, 
he will soon possess considerable accuracy of eye 
through the practice of judging distances, and will have 
acquired a primary development of skill of hand, 
through imitating the lines of the copies with the help of 
the tentative points. His employment of horizontal 
and vertical lines will have given him a regular and 
positive method of observation and study* and he will 
have begun to contract very valuable habits of orderli- 
ness and sequence, both in thinking and working. 
After he has received this indispensable grounding, 
which is the first stage of his education, his faculties 
will be sufficiently trained to allow him to enter upon 
his second stage in the way he should, with every 
chance in his favour. 



SECOND LETTER 

The Second Stage 

Great care must be given to the choice of copies to 
follow those of the first stage. In making his collec- 
tion of copies for the second stage, the teacher must 
pay particular attention to their forming a regular series. 
If he likes to follow the advice of Leonardo da Vinci, 
he may begin the series with parts of human heads, 
to be followed by complete heads under various effects. 
He is at liberty to choose as copies other subjects 
besides figures. The only condition, that he must 
never, upon any consideration whatever, fail to observe, 
is to gradate the difficulties. Whatever the subjects 
of the copies, the first of them should be in simple 
outline, the next drawn with very simple shading, 
leading on to those in which a little more real model- 
ling is introduced. They should be either drawn, 
engraved, or lithographed. Drawn and engraved copies 
should, in general, be considered as only preparatory 
exercises, and their use should not be too prolonged. 
It is important that they should be accurate and that 
they should help in the formation of taste from the 
first. Especial care should be taken to employ them 
judiciously in relation to the knowledge possessed by 

118 



SECOND LETTER 119 

the pupils, in order that the teacher may always be 
able to insist upon the execution being really good 
and thorough. 

As soon as a certain skill has been acquired in out- 
line and shading, the students should be given some 
solid figures, made of wood or plaster, and painted 
white, arranged in the following order : a cube, a 
prism, a pyramid, a cylinder, a cone, a sphere. 

A beginner's intelligence cannot be completely 
developed without the study of full-relief to make 
him observe on real objects the apparent alterations of 
size and shape due to the point of view from which 
they are seen — in other words, the effects of perspective 
and foreshortening, which he made no effort to under- 
stand when imitating the first copies. 

Nor without the study of full relief can he really 
understand the shadows, lights, and half-tones, cast- 
shadows, and reflections that he has been copying ; 
for it shows him, on actual objects, the contrast of the 
different planes, the loss of light due to the modelling 
of the forms, in fact the relations of the different 
values. 

The first observation of real objects is always inter- 
esting to students, because it truly opens their eyes. 
Nor is it long before they begin to understand the 
meaning of the drawn or engraved copies, which had 
been up till then a closed book to them, and which they 
had copied almost mechanically. As they have now 
become more full of meaning, the copies, so far from 
being discarded, as is often suggested, should be used 
alternately with the models in full relief; for they 
possess certain real advantages over the latter for 



120 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

absolute beginners, which had better be explained. 
For instance, they are better as an exercise in exact 
imitation than the models in relief, which always admit 
of some personal interpretation. They are also better 
fitted for making the hand flexible and dexterous, 
because the imitation of them exacts more self-control 
and more decision from it. 

The reasons for employing as copies drawings of the 
human face, especially in teaching beginners, are very 
strong. They are much more vividly impressed by 
the particular character of a face than by the character 
of any other object. The resemblance of the drawing 
to the copy is much more easily judged, and con- 
sequently the students appreciate without difficulty 
exactly what to aim at. 

Also every variety of shape and colour too is found 
in the human form, and consequently every possible 
variety and difficulty of drawing. 

It is a matter of experience that students who have 
been trained on the study of the human figure are apt 
at any other kind of drawing, and after they have had 
a little time to specialise in it, generally show their 
superiority as draughtsmen. But this is not at all the 
case with those who have begun by studying some 
particular line, such as flowers, ornaments, animals^ or 
landscapes, especially landscape, for landscape should 
be entirely excluded from the first lessons in imitation. 
It cannot fail to be injurious, for of its very nature it 
does not admit of strict accuracy of imitation, but only 
of approximation, interpretation, and equivalents. 

We come now to an important question, that of the 
medium to be employed. After much experiment I 



SECOND LETTER 121 

consider the pencil as the only proper instrument to be 
used in elementary drawing. The stump ought to be 
forbidden, at least in the first stages, for it leads the 
beginner into smudginess, excessive blackness, over- 
modelling, and softness. Many systems recommend 
its exclusive employment, in spite of these objections, 
as being easy to use and covering the paper rapidly. 
But this is entirely to misunderstand the special needs 
of teaching, and to confuse disastrously the methods of 
execution that commend themselves to particular artists 
with the methods that are best for training students. 
The stump, because of the very ease with which it 
covers large surfaces, diminishes and almost does away 
with all the gymnastics of the hand, and so prevents 
the development of delicacy of touch. The pencil, 
because it is firmer and more precise than the stump, 
renders the artist's impressions better. It is capable of 
the most delicate shades of expression. It is an instru*- 
ment that responds to the artist's intelligence, to his 
wit, and, above all, to his strength. The great masters 
of drawing have always had a predilection for it. 1 

During the second stage of teaching the professor 
must watch his pupils' work unceasingly and with the 
greatest care, and be ready whenever necessary to re- 
mind them of the fundamental principles. He must 
explain to them again and again, if need be, the use of 
the points and lines. He should show them, in actual 
practice, the advantage of invariably beginning a draw- 
ing that is at all intricate by first establishing the 
masses ; and that not roughly and only approximately, 
but accurately, by setting down with great exactness a 

1 See Note H, p. 173. 



122 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

few well -chosen points, as the ground -plan of this 
suggestion of the whole. To such accepted methods 
he will add fresh ones as fresh difficulties require them. 

He must teach his students, above all, that whether 
judging proportions or colours, details or the effect of 
the whole, they must proceed invariably by comparison, 
by relations, by using a unit of measurement. And to 
make the importance of this practice the better under- 
stood, he must constantly apply it in his lessons. Let 
him remember to put himself and the pupil at a certain 
distance from the drawing which he is correcting, which 
should be set up against the subject. In order to 
make his meaning the clearer he should provide him- 
self with one of those long sticks, called by painters 
mahlsticks, so as to be able to touch any part of the 
drawing to which he wishes to call attention. The 
relation of the drawing to the model, or of the parts 
to the whole, which he thus points out will be perfectly 
clear to the pupil, and in consequence his various 
remarks and observations will interest him and strike 
home. Being quickly convinced by such demonstra- 
tions of the value of the above method, the pupil will 
adopt it, and make use of it for himself. As soon 
as he has begun to make a habit of this, a sort of new 
conception will be seen to develop in him. His draw- 
ings, without ceasing to be just as faithful and naive as 
before, will be better understood, and the budding 
of his artistic intelligence and feeling will very soon 
appear. 

This brings us to the goal of the second stage, and 
in the period that follows we shall be able to attack 
new difficulties of a higher kind. 



THIRD LETTER 

The Third Stage 

We have brought the students at present as far as 
drawing shaded heads from copies. They can now 
pass on to copies of hands and feet, as a step towards 
copies from the nude, which should be useful in giving 
them a knowledge of the figure as a whole. 

We must take care 1 to avoid the excessive use that 
was made of flat copies not long ago. Still we should 
continue to use them, within reason, alternately with 
models in full relief, increasing the importance of the 
latter according to the progress that the student makes, 
for they ought very soon to occupy most of his time. 

In the second stage we introduced the student to 
the study of full relief by setting him to draw from 
solids : we shall now carry on his study of full relief 
with z) graduated series of casts of features and parts of 
faces, varied if the teacher wishes it with casts of 
ornamental details. This is essential as a stepping- 
stone, the value of which has been proved in practice, 
in approaching, with more certainty, the ever-increasing 
difficulties of complete heads, hands and feet, sculptured 
ornaments, and whole figures from casts. 

1 See Note I, p. 173. 
123 



i2 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

It would do no harm just at first to copy a few 
masks cast from nature, but in the casts from the 
Antique we have an infinite choice of models of all 
variety and excellence. 

Unfortunately, as regards excellent copies, we have 
nothing like the same choice, for there are very few 
that can be considered even passable. The artists 
responsible for the majority of them do not seem to 
have ever considered what qualities are needed in a 
copy. They are many, and are consequently difficult to 
combine. A good copy ought to be accurate, in good 
taste, simple and natural, that is without the affecta- 
tions either of square or other kind of conventional 
form. It ought to look easy, free, and attractive to the 
student. It should contain great knowledge without 
pedantry, truth with style, and broad and simple effects 
without monotony. The almost complete want of good 
copies has very naturally made people think of the 
fine drawings by great masters to be found in our 
museums, and has made them imagine, with apparently 
the best of sense, that there could not be better copies 
than photographs exactly reproducing such masterpieces. 
But this is to confuse the point of view of art with 
the point of view of teaching, and to forget that these 
drawings were generally made by the masters as a pre- 
paration for their pictures. They are almost always 
very difficult, if not impossible, for even highly skilled 
artists to copy, and are therefore still less suited to any 
of the stages in a student's education. And further, 
apart from the frequent stains and spots on them, and 
the effacements here and there, they are full of altera- 
tions and of different trial outlines, which are of the 



THIRD LETTER 125 

greatest interest as allowing us to follow their author's 
experiments and the development of his ideas, but are 
to young students quite incomprehensible and of insur- 
mountable difficulty. 

It is no doubt the apparent simplicity of Holbein's 
original drawings that suggested the idea of using 
them as elementary copies. But his outlines, so simple 
at first sight, are really refined with such delicacy and 
to so exquisite a point that the least deviation by the 
copyist destroys the character entirely. As for copying 
the wonderful modelling of the faces, nothing could be 
more difficult than to give its exquisite delicacy and 
simplification, so profoundly full of knowledge. Rather 
let these inimitable drawings be kept for their proper 
moment in advanced art education, being reproduced 
by photography for the study and admiration of young 
artists when they have become capable of really under- 
standing the great lessons they contain. Every school 
should possess a collection of photographs after great 
masters, which the teacher should use to illustrate and 
corroborate his teaching. 

As the result of many trials it has been proved that 
photographs are of no practical use as copies. Such 
trials are none the less praiseworthy or useful for that. 
For it is only through the knowledge and enterprise of 
those who conducted them that this interesting point 
has been cleared up. They are now, it appears, trying 
to make certain of the masters' drawings more intelli- 
gible to students by translating them into lithography; 
and we may hope for good results in this direction, if 
the particular conditions required by teaching are 
thoroughly understood and kept in mind^ 



126 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

Until the ideal and perfect copy is realised, the 
teacher must take great trouble to collect out of the 
best of existing copies those that he thinks the most 
suited to the third grade of teaching. But it is to the 
work done from the round that he must now attach 
the most importance, maintaining a very strict standard 
in accepting any drawing, before he allows its author 
to pass on to a subject that is more difficult in degree 
or character than the last. He must in the third 
stage adhere more than ever to the method of correc- 
tion already adopted. That is to say, after he has 
examined a drawing at close quarters for its delicacy of 
form and workmanship, he must never neglect to com- 
pare it with the subject from a distance, placing them 
side by side, and pointing to them with a mahlstick. 

Nothing awakens the pupil's own faculty of observa- 
tion quicker than teaching him entirely through com- 
parison and reasoning, and when his observation is 
aroused it should be further stimulated by the practice 
of drawing from memory. 1 

It can hardly be necessary for me to repeat once 
more that memory-work is not in itself a method of 
teaching drawing. It is only one of the auxiliary 
means, and should like all the other means play its 
proper part in the whole group of studies, of which a 
complete method of teaching drawing is composed. 

Learning to draw exclusively from memory was 
never even suggested. All that I propose is a reasoned 
method of teaching memory drawing ; but to confound 
this special study with the general system is to mistake 
the part for the whole. 

1 See "The Training of the Memory in Art. Memory for Form. 1 ' 



THIRD LETTER 127 

Nor is this study in any sense founded on separate 
principles, for it proceeds regularly from the simple to 
the complex through a graduated sequence of difficulties* 
The copies used for it are preferably taken from the 
human face, because it is important to practise the 
memory at first upon objects whose appearance is easily 
seized. 

As an easy object to begin with, take an outline 
drawing of a nose in profile. Let every pupil take 
this first copy home with him, and learn it as one 
learns a lesson by heart. He can either draw it several 
times over, or content himself with merely observing 
it attentively, taking special note of everything that 
might help his memory. The time allowed him on 
the first occasion should be fairly long. 

On the appointed day, after giving back the copies, 
the pupils must go to their places and draw it entirely 
from memory. Having done his best, each pupil must 
in turn submit his work to the professor for criticism. 
After having taken very careful note of the differences 
pointed out to him, which he must confirm with his 
own eyes, let him return to his place to make the 
necessary alterations upon his drawing, correcting it of 
course from memory alone. And such corrections he 
must repeat until the result is satisfactory. The pro- 
fessor must insist upon very close approximation to the 
copy, if not upon quite as absolute an exactness as in 
the case of an ordinary copy. He cannot make use of 
too much tact and experience in judging just how much 
a pupil's memory can do, for all its real development 
depends upon his demanding of it an effort exactly 
equal to, but never beyond its strength. 



128 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

Most of the meg.ns that are helpful in ordinary 
drawing are helpful in memory work : for instance 
horizontal and vertical lines, drawn in imagination 
across the subject, which make at their intersections 
with its forms many points to assist the memory ; 
or again the comparison of the sizes, shapes, and colours 
with one another, or the use of units of measurement, 
scales of proportion, etc. 

All such means should be suggested to the students, 
but should not be forced upon them. The working 
of the memory is too intimate in its nature, and to tell 
the truth is still too much shrouded in mystery for us 
to interfere with it lightly. 

It is undeniable that processes which suit certain 
students are quite useless to others ; but every one 
very soon finds out methods for himself. 

Moreover, there comes a time when all such pro- 
cesses, once so useful and so much relied on, are 
gradually discarded, because they become less and less 
necessary. 

Methodical exercise of the memory develops so 
extraordinarily the power of being able to see in the 
imagination objects which have been carefully observed, 
but are no longer present, that it becomes possible to 
draw them almost as if they were before the eyes. 
The degree to which a student can attain such power 
is, I need hardly say, dependent on his application and 
his natural gift. Some can see an object as a whole 
with great clearness, others only indistinctly : often 
some detail which struck them particularly stands out 
very clear in their minds, and leads them on successively 
to other details next to it. 



THIRD LETTER 129 

The teacher should make his own collection of 
copies for memory work by drawing them for himself 
For it is indispensable that they should be carefully 
graduated in proper series, and this requires experi- 
ence of a special kind. As a teacher he will under- 
stand, that it is not the class of subject that makes a 
copy difficult to remember — one subject is in this 
sense very like another — but that it is on its com- 
plexity, and the absence of striking characteristics in 
the particular copy that the difficulty depends. Thus 
ugly forms, grotesque or strange, are the most easily 
remembered of all, at least by beginners ; later students, 
in whom the feeling for beauty has begun to develop, 
often find it easier to remember beautiful shapes 
because they are more struck by them. 

But we must not anticipate advanced memory 
teaching in this way. Let us think at present only of 
the things that belong properly to the third stage, that 
is, to a series of studies, which beginning, let us say, 
with a nose in profile drawn in outline, will pass 
through successive steps until it arrives in due course 
at simple heads drawn in outline, to be followed by 
heads with a little shading. 

Memory lessons must never be allowed to oust the 
ordinary work. The two must go on side by side and 
help each other. 

The time allowed the students for learning the 
copies they take home may be gradually reduced, 
always of course in relation to their progress. 
Memory practice, or what we may call the " drawing- 
repetition" lessons ("la recitation dessmie"), may 
take place once or twice a week in the third stage, 

K 



130 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

that is, one or two memory lessons for six lessons in 
ordinary drawing. 

At the end of the third stage of our course, the 
students have become capable of copying heads and 
nude figures, either from copies or from the antique. 

And besides this, their powers of observation and 
memory have received such a first degree of education 
as enables them to reproduce by memory simple heads 
from copies. 

Modest enough achievements it is true, but in- 
valuable all the same, if only they are sincere, free 
from bad habits, and are the result of working on 
sound principles rich in promise for the future. 

As soon as this indispensable elementary knowledge 
has been gained and these essential preliminary studies 
finished, we enter upon the fourth stage of our teach- 
ing, in which the artistic character of the study becomes 
definitely pronounced. 1 

1 See Note K, p. 173. 



FOURTH LETTER 

The Fourth Stage 

Now that all preliminary difficulties are overcome for 
good, we are free to develop our teaching and to bring 
it to its full completion, elaborating it as we please. 
To avoid confusion, and to make my explanations at 
once orderly and clear, I will explain the principal 
branches of study of which the fourth stage is composed, 
taking them one at a time. They are seven : study of 
the Antique and the old masters ; study of the living 
model ; anatomy ; perspective and the drawing of 
architecture ; painting ; memory training for form and 
colour ; and lastly composition, which is the revision 
and practical application of all the foregoing subjects. 

The Study of the Antique and the 
Old Masters 

Up to this point good reductions from the Antique 
will have been quite enough as models ; but from the 
moment we enter upon the fourth stage, nothing can 
be too good to put before the students. 

As far as is possible, they should be given casts 
moulded on the original itself, or still better, though 

131 



132 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

this only towards the end of the fourth stage, they 
should be sent to study the originals themselves in 
the museums. To the study of the Antique might be 
added the study of some of the sculpture of Michael 
Angelo and certain other great masters, to show that 
it is possible to produce new conceptions of beauty, 
quite unlike the wonderful types created .by the 
Greeks. There are in the museums and libraries 
innumerable other objects just as precious, which it is 
well worth while to study by sketching or copying 
them. 

Towards the end of the fourth stage the professor 
must decide the moment from which the student is to 
be gradually emancipated from the rigid discipline of 
regular school work. He should then take him in 
person round the picture galleries and decide for him 
what he is to copy, going regularly to overlook his 
work. 

It is at this point that the teacher's calling enters 
definitely upon a wider and a higher plane. To possess 
knowledge, taste, and real artistic feeling is not enough. 
For when he is in front of the masterpieces, which it 
is his business to help the student to understand, he 
must be able to appreciate them in his capacity of 
teacher, putting away his own personal predilections and 
looking at them with a width of mind that understands 
the artistic expression of beauty in all its forms. 
However great his own admiration for the old masters, 
he must remember that, though it is quite right that 
young students should study and copy them with 
passion, they must never become so over-absorbed in 
the imitation of their work as to injure the most 



^TAPESTRY; REPRESENTING PARIS 
\2/ IN THE 1 5TH CENTURY 



FOURTH LETTER 133 

precious part of their artistic equipment, their own 
personal sentiment and originality. 1 

Study of the Life Model 

The study of the life model is of the highest im- 
portance, and a great deal of time must be given up to 
it during the fourth stage. 

The student will be a little worried when first con- 
fronted with a model that lacks the absolute stillness 
and unity of tint of the casts, which he has been 
studying up till this moment. The professor should 
assure him that this is a difficulty which does not as 
a rule last very long* He should tell him to begin 
by making several sketches of the whole figure with- 
out shadows, in order to learn to seize movement 
with rapidity, 2 and should set him especially on his 
guard against putting in too many details, or making 
them too apparent ; for if they are not subordinate 
to the mass the forms will be mean, and there will be 
no simplicity or breadth of effect. 

It is in drawing the figure from life that the 
students should begin to show decisively their own 
personal feelings and methods of expression. Such is 
the evident perfection of the Antique that it is im- 
possible to think of altering it or improving it. In 
the living model, on the contrary, however relatively 
great its beauty, we can always find defects to lessen 
or correct. Its appearance, even in the most motion- 
less attitude, never quite loses that variable and inde- 
terminate something which is the mobility that belongs 

1 See Note L, p. 174. 2 See Note M, p. 176. 



i 3 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

to every living thing. Every one sees it in a different 
way, and would, by natural consequence, express it 
differently, if there were not so often disastrous causes 
at work which prevent his doing so. 

Sometimes in studios and schools one sees that all 
the work from the life has the same character, the 
same technique, the same colour, a state of things often 
praised without stint. The great advantage of studio- 
work, it is said, is that it is a kind of mutual instruc- 
tion, the stronger students showing the others by 
their example how to feel and execute their studies. 

A teacher imbued with the principles of our 
method will, on the contrary, see in the similarity of 
such results one of the dangers of teaching art in 
common. Without failing to appreciate the advan- 
tages of the system he will make every effort to 
combat its more serious evils. If he notices the least 
tendency in a pupil to imitate one of his more ad- 
vanced fellows, or to counterfeit the work of some 
artist, ancient or modern, be he never so distinguished, 
he will check him at once in his evil course. He will 
make him understand that, before everything, he must 
be himself, or he will lose some of his power as an 
artist. The masters whose names remain famous are 
those whose individuality was the most vigorous and 
marked in character. 

Study of the Antique, combined with study of the 
living model, is the necessary corrective for this. It 
raises the student's taste, and prevents its being in- 
fluenced by the uglinesses and poorness of form from 
which even the finest models are not always free. 

An important reservation must, however, be made 



FOURTH LETTER 135 

on this subject. The forms of the Antique must never 
be substituted for those of the model upon the pretext 
of correcting them and making them finer, as was the 
practice of most of the painters at the beginning of this 
century, who were carried away with a passion for the 
beauty of Greek sculpture. Assuredly an artist may 
make it his ideal to produce beauty equal to the 
Antique, but it must be in a different manner. 

In the Antique we find beauty, simplicity, nobility, 
and truth united, great qualities which the student 
should be eager to acquire. They are the creative 
qualities in art, and the forms in which they have been 
manifested so far are not the only forms that they can 
take, for their power of creation is as unexhausted as 
it ever was, and is in fact inexhaustible. 

Let young artists, then, study living nature in all 
sincerity and without prejudice, according to their 
personal vision. But let them train and perfect their 
vision and raise it, if they can, to the level of that of 
the masters of antiquity and other great periods. For 
thus they will be able, in their turn, to create, accord- 
ing to their different talents, forms true, beautiful, and 
noble, yet withal new. 1 

Anatomy 

Anatomy is the inevitable corollary of the study of 
the living model, the indispensable key to the forms of 
men and animals. 2 

Yet necessary as the knowledge of anatomy is to a 
student, he should not be taught it before he has drawn 

1 See Note N, p. 176. 2 See Note O, p. 177. 



136 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

a certain number of figures from nature, for then he 
will be keen to understand the causes that produce the 
surface forms and their changes under different move- 
ments. 

There is another very serious reason for not allow- 
ing the study of anatomy to begin too soon, which is 
the fear lest young students should let their anatomical 
knowledge take the place of naive imitation of the 
model. It is doubtless this idea that led Ingres to 
forbid the study of anatomy in his school. But the 
danger which this famous artist feared, and with 
reason, may be avoided by teaching anatomy at the 
right moment, that is, when the students have given 
proof of their sincerity and na'fvet6 in a consider- 
able number of drawings from nature. For then the 
teacher will easily make them understand the im- 
portance and the possibility of reconciling na'ivet£ 
with knowledge, once they appreciate the part that 
each should play. 

Anatomy teaches the laws of human forms in general, 
of which the living model gives particular instances 
peculiar to the individual ; for all models, whatever 
their race, sex, or age, have the same muscles. For 
instance, they all have a deltoid with definite points of 
attachment. Here, then, is a general fact laid down 
by anatomy, the knowledge of which will give the 
student a positive and definite idea to grasp ; yet 
the deltoid of every model is somewhat different in 
appearance, and it is the infinite variations of this in- 
dividual character which the student must always be 
ready and able to express. 

There are a great many treatises on anatomy specially 



FOURTH LETTER 137 

intended for the use of sculptors and painters ; but 
the learned doctors who are responsible for them, have 
not always succeeded, despite the best of intentions, in 
placing themselves quite at the artist's point of view, 
and while giving superfluous details have often left 
out the most necessary explanations. 

It is the teacher's business, therefore, to make an 
abstract of such different books, and supply what is 
missing. His little manual, which he should make 
as short as possible, must be learnt by heart, and so 
completely mastered by the students that they are able 
to reply without a moment's hesitation when ques- 
tioned upon a living model, an anatomical figure, or a 
skeleton. 

Here are some examples of such questions. 

Name this bone and its prominences. Name this 
muscle. Tell me its points of attachment. Point out 
its tendons and attachments. Explain its functions. 
What is the cause of this prominence ? Is it muscular 
or bony ? Explain the anatomical reasons for the 
changes of form resulting from this movement. 
Account for the considerable change of appearance in 
the knee, according as it is straight or bent. Give the 
reason for the difference of curve that is noticeable in 
the outline of the inside and outside of the upper and 
lower limbs, as for instance in the forearm. 

Such questions should be varied and multiplied ad 
lib. and rapid answers insisted upon, for when the 
artist is working from nature or making compositions 
he has no time to hunt through his book* He must, 
as it were, be able to read and write his anatomy 
fluently. This will be attained much more readily if 



138 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

the advanced students are present at actual dissections. 
There is, too, another exercise which cannot be too 
highly recommended as a means of inculcating a 
thorough knowledge of the construction of the human 
body. 

First make one of the students draw a figure from 
nature, in which he must emphasise very markedly, 
even exaggeratedly, all the prominences produced by 
the bones. Next, on a tracing made from this drawing, 
he must fill in the bones, either by looking at a 
skeleton, or from the knowledge he has of it in his 
head, taking as his guiding points the bony promin- 
ences on the living model which are emphasised in 
the tracing from his drawing. He will thus have a 
drawing of the skeleton, not in the ordinary stiff pose 
without movement, but in the actual movement of the 
living model. 

The bony structure once established in a true and 
definite movement, it only remains to cover it again 
with the muscles. The tracing gives the outline of 
the muscles, and all that there remains to do is to take 
the outline as a guide and follow the muscles to their 
insertions on the bones. He will then have produced 
in his drawing the fiction of a living skeleton and a 
living anatomical figure. 

Drawings such as this are so instructive that they 
should be learnt by heart, and drawn from memory, 
whenever the teacher asks for it. This indeed is one 
of the important applications of memory drawing ; for 
an artist should have his anatomy always present in 
his mind in images of absolute precision. 1 ^ v 

1 In u Aims and Ideals in Art," Mr. Clausen quotes the advice that he received 



FOURTH LETTER 139 

Strong draughtsmen such as Raphael, and especially 
Michael Angelo, evidently proceeded by working from 
the skeleton overlaid with muscles. 

It is only through a profound and practical know- 
ledge of the human body, and by extracting in a sense 
the laws of its construction that an artist can become 
in a real sense creative, and able to free himself at 
will from that servitude to the model from which the 
modern school can so rarely escape. 



Drawing from Memory 

In the previous stage the students have been repro- 
ducing from memory simple heads, after drawings or 
engravings. They will now begin to draw heads of 
greater difficulty, next whole figures, and so pass on to 
groups and motives from the great masters. Next will 
come memory drawing from the round, and from parts 
of antique heads up to complete figures and bas-reliefs. 

Drawing the living model from memory is a thing 
to allow with great discretion, and only when the 
character or beauty of the forms are really remarkable. 
For it would be a great pity to fill young students' 
memories with images of ugliness, or of what is 
commonplace or simply insignificant. It must never 
be forgotten that cultivation of memory is at the same 
time cultivation of taste. 

from Watts. " I was speaking of the difficulty of doing something I was trying to 
do, because I could not get a model to pose, and I said, ' Of course one has to*rely 
on memory.' 4 Yes,' he said, ' memory is a good thing, but there's a better.' I 
asked him what that was. ' Knowledge,' said he, and he took a piece of chalk and 
made a drawing of the bones of the knee. 4 There,' he said, * when you really know 
the shape of these bones, it doesn't matter what position you draw the knee in, 
you'll understand it.' " — Translator. 



i 4 o LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

It is with this idea that I will sketch here an exercise 
very useful in cultivating what feeling for beauty a 
pupil may possess. 

At the end of the week's drawing from the life, the 
professor should ask the students to reproduce from 
memory the model from whom they have been work- 
ing, idealising his figure as is explained below. 

While actually working from the life the students 
should aim, above all, at faithful imitation. If they 
notice defects in the model, they should alter them 
only with the greatest reserve for fear of losing truth 
and accuracy. Besides, when in front of nature, they 
are sure to be attracted and dominated by her ; whereas 
when once away, with nothing but their recollection, 
they recover their own personal point of view. They 
become free to correct the faults that distressed them, 
and having already faithfully expressed the exact ap- 
pearance of the model, can now add what embellish- 
ments and accents they please. In this way they can 
accomplish their task of drawing the model from 
memory, correcting and perfecting it the while, not 
conventionally in accordance with canons imposed 
upon them from without, but according to their own 
conceptions and ideals. 

When the memory has been made capable by pro- 
gressive exercise of retaining the image of the unalterable 
forms of drawings and casts and the less rigid forms of 
the life model, and is thoroughly trained and flexible, it 
is the moment to turn it to its real artistic use, which 
is that of retaining fugitive effects, and rapid and spon- 
taneous movements. 

To attain this result the first step is really to impress 



FOURTH LETTER 141 

the pupils with its importance, and the next to get 
them to observe attentively such sights and scenes 
from real life as they meet with when they are out. 
For early practice the simplest subjects should be pre- 
ferred, such, for instance, as a soldier on sentry-duty, 
a beggar at the door of a church, a peasant carrying a 
load, and so on. All such observations must be drawn 
from memory and shown to the professor on a given 
day. In such cases, of course, the absolute accuracy 
can no longer be tested as it has been previously. But 
the students have already given proof of their exact- 
ness of observation in studies where it could be put to 
the test, and the teacher by going out with his pupils, 
at least the first few times, will have the opportunity 
of noticing the subjects chosen. Besides, real impres- 
sions direct from nature have certain characteristics of 
ingenuousness and truth which are unmistakable. 

Little by little the memory gains certainty and 
power, and is equal to reproducing more complicated 
actions, such as a religious ceremony, a review, a street 
accident, or what will interest certain students more, 
. interiors, animals, or landscape. Here the student's 
individual bent begins to try its wings and becomes 
recognisable, which it cannot do in the ordinary classes. 
For here every one is allowed complete liberty, and by 
looking at nature in his own way will feel emotions 
different from his neighbours', and must, in con- 
sequence, find out his own particular method of 
expressing them. Nothing is better fitted than such 
exercises to cultivate truly personal feeling and to 
develop individuality, in other words, true originality. 
Such practice has the further advantage of creating a 



i 4 2 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

habit of and a taste for observation, which makes the 
memory an inexhaustible treasury from which the artist 
may draw freely for his work ; for he is always adding 
to it fresh material which he has made his own by this 
intimate process of assimilation. 1 

Perspective and the Drawing of Architecture 

Perspective and the drawing of architecture can be 
taught in special classes by special teachers ; still the 
professor who directs the teaching as a whole ought to 
have a general knowledge of architectural drawing. 
As regards perspective, he ought to understand its 
principles thoroughly, and really have the sense of it, 
so as to impress it upon the students more than is 
generally done nowadays. 

Since the time when Jean Cousin published his 
very ingenious, but hardly practical, method for deter- 
mining with strict accuracy the foreshortenings of the 
human figure, all application of perspective to figure 
drawing seems to have been given up, and these two 
branches of art have been taught in complete detach- 
ment from each other. Here lies the cause of the 
indifference that students of painting feel for perspec- 
tive, the advantage of which they fail to understand. 

Of course no one would think of submitting figure 
drawing to the geometrical operations of perspective. 
But it is a mistake not to apply the essential principles 
of the science to this branch of art, as to all others, as 
far as is reasonably possible, so as to avoid at least the 
more outrageous of the errors so commonly made. 

1 See Note P, p. 177. 



FOURTH LETTER 143 

For instance, retiring lines often do not converge to- 
wards the point of sight ; sometimes the height of the 
horizon seems to have been completely forgotten, and 
parts of the drawing, which should have been seen 
from above, have been seen from below, or vice versa. 

The professor should, therefore, tell his students to 
pay great attention to the point of sight on the horizon 
line and to the distance point marked off upon it. 
They should also bear in mind the geometrical plane, 
and the perspective plane, etc. 

Such elementary notions of perspective will, when 
applied to ordinary drawing, make the students per- 
ceive its practical utility. There should be a special 
class for the complete study of the science of perspec- 
tive, and there the students will be roused to the keen 
interest in it which the subject deserves once they have 
seen the beauty of its applications to art. 

Painting 

In old days processes of painting were the secrets 
of different masters and their schools. Indeed, we 
know very little of the methods of execution employed 
by the great Dutch and Italian colourists. What little 
precious tradition still lingered among a few of the 
French painters at the end of the last century x has been 
almost entirely lost in the artistic revolution brought 
about by David. This narrow and fanatical reformer 
professed the most profound contempt for the age 
that preceded his own. He not only repudiated their 

1 Lecoq's faith in the value of tradition, and the necessity for recovering tradition, 
is clearly shown in the phrase in which Monsieur Rodin described his school to me, 
as " un petit atelier, XVIII feme siecle." — Translator. 



i 4 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

taste and their doctrines, but even their teaching of 
the material side of painting, and forbade it to his 
pupils. This is the reason why his school, from which 
sprang, almost exclusively, the artistic generation before 
our own, has only been able to hand on to us defective 
technical processes with no authority behind them. 

It is with all reservation, therefore, that I give these 
methods to my students ; and I give them, not as 
definite methods for the execution of their work as 
artists, but only so as to make it possible for them to 
begin painting. They will have to modify, perfect, 
and complete them for themselves, through practice, 
experience, and observation of the character of the work 
of great colourists. 

First of all, here is the composition of the palette for 
the beginner, the colours being placed from right to 
left in the following order : — 

Flake white, Naples yellow, yellow ochre, raw 
sienna, burnt sienna, vermilion, light red, rose madder, 
bitumen, 1 burnt umber, ivory black, Prussian-blue. 

This very simple palette may seem even a little 
poor, but it has, at least, the advantage of forcing 
beginners to hunt out their tints for themselves, 
without. the help of the numerous colours employed 
nowadays, with which it will be perfectly legitimate 
to enrich their palette later on. 

The right moment to begin painting is towards the 
middle of the fourth stage, when the student possesses 
sufficient facility in drawing. For not only is it 
necessary to be able to place the subject on the canvas 

1 Exception may be taken, to some of these colours on the ground of permanence, 
bitumen for one being finally condemned.— Translator. 



FOURTH LETTER 145 

and draw it in before beginning to paint, but it is also 
most important all the time one is painting to lay on 
and handle the colour with a feeling for the modelling 
and form. 

Still, in order not to put off the practice of handling 
paint too long, which is so difficult in itself, it would 
be excellent practice to make the student begin the 
study of colour 1 from memory while he is still working 
up his drawing to the required standard. It would 
enable the teacher to test his natural eye for colour 
from the first, to correct it, if need be, and gradually 
develop it. At the same time it would give the 
student a preliminary habit of using his tools, his 
palette, his mahlstick, his brushes, etc., and he would 
thus get over their strangeness, before beginning real 
painting. But the most important object of all is to 
cultivate the faculty of remembering colour, for there 
is no limit to its utility and application in art. 

The tints must be learnt by heart, just as the forms 
were, and then painted from memory. 2 

After such preliminary practice, which will be longer 
or shorter as the professor thinks best, the student 
should begin painting by copying some painted heads, 
to be followed by still life from nature, such as fruit, 
flowers, pots and pans, and the like. In the course of 
such practice, which by the way he will find very attrac- 
tive, he will have to judge and compare a great variety 
of colours, and will learn how to harmonise them. 

The imitation of motionless objects is an excellent 
step towards painting the figure from life. 

1 See "The Training of the Memory in Art. Memory for Colour." 
2 See Note g, p. 178. 

L 



146 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

The latter study, which is quite indispensable, is 
often made unnecessarily dull and monotonous. It 
would be a good plan to vary the background of the 
life-school occasionally, enlivening it with draperies of 
harmonious colour, which would heighten the effect 
of the model. 

As to how to set about painting, the professor may 
make the following suggestions, at least to beginners : 
first mix with the palette-knife a few of the tints of 
the subject ; next, after drawing the outline of the 
model on the white canvas, begin with the shadows, 
either painting them, as right as possible, straight off, 
or putting down only their values with a single colour, 
such as burnt umber or ivory black, etc. It is very 
important to have some distinct contrasts, as terms 
of comparison, by which to judge the half-tints and 
the lights, which, if placed in the middle of the white 
canvas, it is practically impossible to gauge. 1 For the 
same reason one should indicate from the outset the 
colour or value of the background. No attempt 
should be made to reproduce at once all the variations 
which are visible on the model ; on the contrary, the 
student should look for the general effect produced 
by several tints by half closing the eyes. Later, upon 
this general local tint will be placed other touches, to 
modify and complete the colour. 

If this is done rapidly, and before the colours are 
dry, it is called painting au premier coup. The usual 
way to begin is with a general " rub in " of the form 

1 Corot, in a letter to his pupil, recommends him, when working on a white 
canvas, to begin with his strongest dark, so as to establish the extremes of light and 
dark, between which he has to work, and as a key to the intermediate tones, adding 
" c'est plus logique." — Translator. 



FOURTH LETTER i 4 7 

and tones. When this "rub in" is dry, and its 
surface has been cleaned, or, if one wishes, rubbed 
down, it serves as a preparation for new work, either 
in solid colour, or with thin opaque colour and 
glazings. 

There are a great number of different manners of 
painting. Every artist adopts his own, and naturally 
enough declares it superior to all others. I make no 
pretence of judging these personal methods, considering 
them all legitimate, if their results are good. We 
are at present on the question of teaching, and owing 
to the lack of direct instruction transmitted by the 
old master colourists, I have chosen the method which 
seems to me most favourable to practice and learning, 
which are conditions that the professor must neces- 
sarily observe. Within these conditions he should be 
allowed the fullest possible liberty, and it could only 
do harm to lay down, in writing, such details of the 
teaching as are best left to the spontaneous judgment, 
tact, and knowledge of the artist who is actually directing 
it. Besides, in painting, more even than in drawing, 
the way of working, the handling of the actual " paint " 
of the picture counts for a great deal in the artist's 
talent. Again, as soon as the student has overcome 
the first difficulties of painting, through such practice 
as I have described, he should no longer be told to 
employ any one particular method, but should, on 
the contrary, be advised to try several, so that he may 
be able through selection and comparison to form for 
himself a method of expression in paint which really 
fits his thoughts and feelings. But what the professor 
can properly say to his pupils, and say with insistence 



148 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

too, is that they slfould try for the essential qualities 
of painting, such as solidity, transparence, light, har- 
mony, etc. But to attain these qualities he should allow 
each student to choose such different means as suit 
him best, however extraordinary or rarely employed. 

Pictures by masters are a great assistance here. 
Suppose, for instance, a beginner to have some failing, 
of which he is perhaps quite unconscious, such as exces- 
sive heaviness in painting shadows, of the transparency 
of which he has no conception, it would be an excellent 
lesson to send him to the galleries to look at some 
master who knew very well how to give his shadows a 
beautiful transparency. He ought even to copy parts 
of the pictures in which the quality he is studying is 
most clearly shown. This way of studying the masters 
would be more profitable than the practice of making 
copies without the definite purpose of studying some- 
thing in particular, or of getting a lesson upon some 
special point. 

To sum up then, the painting lessons, apart from 
the actual painting which they teach, should always 
lead a student in the direction of his natural bent, so 
as to help in the formation of his individuality as 
painter and colourist. 

Composition 

The most favourable moment for beginning exer- 
cises in composition is in the middle of the fourth 
stage, when the students have drawn a good deal 
from the life, and have made some memory drawings 
from nature. For there can be no composition in any 



FOURTH LETTER 149 

true sense unless they have previously made observa- 
tions of their own. 

One sometimes meets with young people, even mere 
children, endowed with very precocious gifts of inven- 
tion, who are tormented unless they can give birth to 
the creations of their imaginations. It would be a great 
pity to undervalue dispositions so interesting, and to 
let them die for want of proper food and exercise. 
Any real scheme of education must take account of 
them therefore, and must foster them, but under 
particular conditions, which I will explain. 

Almost all children, long before they begin really 
to draw, make what they call pictures of people. These 
are mostly confused scribbles, to which no one attaches 
any importance ; Leonardo da Vinci, however, with his 
wide perceptions and his great good sense, did not 
think the subject unworthy of his attention. He made 
a great distinction between the gifts of a child that 
always draws the same profiles and one that also draws 
figures full face and three-quarters, for this shows much 
more observation. 

From the very commencement then of the first stage 
the teacher should encourage the beginners to show him 
any scribbles they have made in their leisure moments. 
He should help them with criticism, which means 
chiefly the encouragement of their observation. To 
make this clearer I will take an instance. Let us sup- 
pose that one of these childish drawings represents a 
horseman out of all proportion to his mount ; the 
teacher will urge the student to observe the relations 
of the size of a man to a horse upon the first rider he 
may see in the street. In all probability the result will 



i 5 o LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

be that the proportions are better observed in the next 
attempt. It is much better to lead the children to 
make their own observations upon real objects rather 
than upon representations of such objects in pictures 
and engravings. 

The teacher should go on with this little study, 
alongside the regular work, without appearing to con- 
sider it of importance, or making it compulsory. These 
little preludes to real composition should always remain 
merely a pleasure, and a voluntary distraction to the 
younger students. Those of them who, of their own 
free will, keep it up with enthusiasm and perseverance 
from the first, may by the fourth stage produce results 
of real interest, very favourable to beginning the study 
of composition seriously. 

This branch of study requires very nice handling by 
the teacher, for its purpose is the development of one 
of the most intimate and delicate of all the faculties, 
namely, invention. One must be careful not to con- 
fuse invention with mere compilation, more or less 
perfectly disguised. 

Invention is essentially personal, or it is not inven- 
tion at all : which is the reason why our chief pre- 
occupation should be the safeguarding of individuality. 
It is self-evident how dangerous it must be to ask 
students for compositions beyond their ideas, or the 
observations they have been able to make directly for 
themselves, for it can only lead them to borrowing 
from well-known pictures instead of forming the habit 
of gathering observations from their proper source. 
Therefore we will begin with subjects of which the 
material is to be easily had ; and set them, for instance, 



FOURTH LETTER 151 

to make a crown, a garland, or a " rose " from living 
plants and flowers put at their disposal. 

When we gradually reach more difficult subjects, in 
which the human figure appears or takes the chief part, 
we must still choose subjects within the students' range, 
for which the scenes and natural effects they have had 
the opportunity of seeing and observing will form 
proper settings. If they have been away in the 
country, such subjects may be set as vintage or harvest 
scenes, or any other subject connected with country life. 

The teacher might say to the students, at the 
beginning of spring, for instance, you will have to 
produce a picture in which you must give the character 
of Spring. I leave you absolute liberty of choice of the 
material you select, flowers, landscape, animals, figures. 
Make yourselves ready, by observing nature, when you 
are out walking ; try to seize and express the impres- 
sions that Spring will make upon you in such a way as 
to communicate them to those who see your picture. 

We often hear people speak of the rules of composi- 
tion. Properly speaking, there are no such rules, 1 there 
are only certain effective practices ("convenances") 
which the pupils will accept readily enough, without 
their being set up as absolute rules and imposed as 
such. Common sense admits at once the necessity for 
the unities of time and place, the importance^of clearness 
in setting forth the subject, and the need for every 
drawing and painting to express itself spontaneously 

1 The following quotation from a letter of J. F. Millet's is interesting in support 
of this statement : *' . . . You can imagine the hole into which such people put me 
when they say, * This at least you must admit, that there are rules for composition ' ! 
. . . Now for years I have held the conviction that composition is purely a means 
of conveying to others our own feelings and impressions as forcibly as possible, and, 
furthermore, that an idea will discover of itself the best means for its expression." 



152 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

through its own proper medium without being helped 
out with explanations in writing. 

As for the so-called " principle of pyramidal com- 
position," which is given as a general rule, and as 
inseparable from every composition possessing style, 
nothing can be more certain to paralyse originality 
and reduce all ideas to a stereotyped uniformity. 

I have already spoken of the difficulties that beset 
art teaching when given to many pupils in common. 
They are particularly serious in the case of the com- 
position class, where it is most important that students 
should not borrow each others' ideas, even involuntarily. 

To avoid this danger the professor will take care 
not to set the same subject to several pupils at once, 
unless, at least, he imposes different conditions of shape 
and scale for each student's sketch ; which, indeed, is 
very excellent as training for decorative designing, for 
in actual practice decorative compositions must almost 
always conform to shapes and scales decided in advance. 
It provides excellent opportunities for the practice of 
what is called arrangement ; and these conditions of 
shape and size imposed upon the designer, which at 
first sight appear to create needless difficulties, that 
demand a wasteful expenditure of force to overcome 
them, often stimulate him to greater effort, resulting 
in a more perfect achievement. It may be compared 
in a sense to the practice of making verses, which has 
much the same effect in the teaching of literature. 

There are various other means that one can think 
of for training students in composition, but I will only 
mention one example here. 

Let us suppose the subject chosen is a faun playing 



FOURTH LETTER 153 

with a goat. The student should be given the use of 
a model of the right type for an hour or two, so that 
he may be able to make a thorough study of living 
nature from the particular point of view of his 
composition. He should test the movement he has 
imagined, to see if it is possible, and should pay 
particular attention to observing foreshortening and 
the more difficult parts of the figure, such as the 
extremities and the attachments, making any notes and 
sketches he thinks necessary. It is on his memory, 
above all, that he should impress his observations. He 
needs next to study a live goat by observation in the 
same way. Then, equipped with his recollections of 
them both, alone with his own ideas, his own feelings 
and methods of expression, he should work out his 
composition, which must of necessity be original, 
because it comes entirely out of himself. 

From subjects composed exclusively of natural 
objects, which he can have before his very eyes, the 
student may pass gradually and methodically to com- 
positions which make a greater call upon his inventive 
powers. 

And here imagination will find all the exercise it 
needs for its development. It will become more and 
more capable of performing its real task, which is to 
infer the unknown from the known, the ideal from the 
real, in a word, to invent through the force of induction 
and artistic feeling. 

As to what is called c< historical" composition, it 
will be deferred until the end of the last stage of 
teaching, for it is only then the students will be 
properly trained for it. 



FIFTH LETTER 

The Fifth Stage 

I might perhaps refrain from carrying the explana- 
tion of my method any farther, for I consider the 
instruction already given sufficient to enable students, 
who have worked at it in real earnest, to embark 
professionally upon the different branches of drawing 
and painting, to which their preferences and their 
natural gifts lead them. When I say that I think the 
instruction already given is sufficient, I mean, of course, 
when the hints and directions given in these chapters 
have been properly developed and completed through 
the initiative of the professor. 

The teaching contained in the fourth stage is already 
more than is required for many artistic trades, and is 
fully sufficient for all the specialisations of ordinary 
fine art. Thus a young man who feels himself drawn 
to paint everyday scenes from contemporary life, will 
have received in the work of the fourth stage all the 
training necessary for the purpose ; for he will have 
mastered the methods of execution which he feels suit 
him best. His taste, his sincerity, and his own natural 
originality have been carefully kept intact while being 
cultivated ; and lastly, he has learnt to observe and 

154 



FIFTH LETTER 155 

retain his observations. He need then only look 
about him in his walks and on his travels to find 
endless subjects and materials for his compositions. 

But the case of the student who, after following the 
same course of study, feels himself drawn towards the 
still higher branches of art, is not at all the same. 
Undoubtedly, he too possesses the means of execution 
necessary for expressing his ideas, but the ideas them- 
selves are out of tune with the sights which daily meet 
his eyes. There is very little in his surroundings to 
satisfy his taste and help him in the quest of beauty. 
The types he meets with are generally commonplace, 
the costumes ugly and often ridiculous, besides being 
subject to the caprice of fashion. Our manners admit 
less and less liberty, less fulness of gesture, less natural 
play of expression, while the nude, the chief element of 
great art, is completely banished from our daily life. 

Thus the young artist who is in pursuit of the ideal 
sees nothing that responds to his aspirations except the 
works of Antiquity, and the old masters. What is he 
to do ? What can he do when he wishes to treat 
subjects of the highest style ? He must be reduced 
to borrowing and reproducing incessantly the forms, 
the draperies, the arrangements of the masterpieces, 
which are the only things which impress him. 

Is this really to understand or follow in the steps 
of the great masters ? Assuredly not : for the great 
masters were not content to copy their predecessors, 
but brought each in turn his own style, different in 
character from all others, thus imposing a new and 
wider acceptation of the meaning and range of art. 
Among the splendid gifts given them at birth, they 



156 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

certainly received an instinct for what is great and 
beautiful. But this innate feeling for what is great 
and beautiful was developed and continually rekindled 
in their day by the beauty of the human form, by the 
splendid costumes, the nobility of manners and draperies, 
the f£tes, the ceremonials, in short by the life of the 
civilisations in which they moved ; so that in Greece, 
Rome, Venice, the artists were able, without losing hold 
of the great traditions from which they were sprung, 
continually to refresh themselves by drawing live and 
noble inspiration from their surroundings. 

There is no denying that the youth of our day, far 
from possessing like advantages, are placed under very 
unfavourable conditions. Works of the highest order 
are expected of them, without reflecting that they 
entirely lack what even the most famous masters could 
not do without, that is, the living material suited to 
great art. It is a very lamentable state of things, for 
which we must seek a remedy, so far as it is at all 
possible. 

And this is why I have added to the four stages of 
teaching a fifth stage, for wh^t I call advanced study, 
of which the purpose is to create a kind of artistic 
atmosphere, in which young artists will be able to find 
to a certain extent, litde though it be, some of the 
sights which inspired the masters of old. 1 

All my teaching has been leading to this climax. 
And every branch of it, taken up again from the point 
to which it was brought at the conclusion of the fourth 
stage, will reach its fulfilment here in the picturesque 
and animated scenes that are offered to the young 

1 See " The Training of the Memory in Art. Advanced Study." 



FIFTH LETTER 157 

artist's observation. Anatomy, for instance, will be 
demonstrated upon living models in action before their 
eyes, so as to let them see in actual life all that they 
had been previously taught upon the skeleton, and the 
dead body, and to make them understand, above all, 
the plastic beauty of human structure. 

Perspective, already thoroughly studied upon paper, 
will be demonstrated practically in nature,, in the 
interior of buildings or in the open country. Models 
placed at determined distances, while adding animation 
to the scene, will provide a perspective lesson of 
the highest interest, whether they are subordinated to 
the picture, as a whole, or treated as the principal 
subject. 

Through various experiments undertaken by them- 
selves, the students will confirm their theoretical studies, 
and provide themselves with definite ideaSj upon the 
loss of size due to distance, for example, upon the fore- 
shortening of the human figure, and the relation of its 
scale to its surroundings, — lessons that will be of practical 
service to them all their days. Observation will make 
clear a number of facts relative to perspective, which 
must be seen in nature to be properly understood, such 
as the importance of the point of distance, and of its 
being sufficiently far off, to avoid causing distortion 
in the appearance of objects. 

The students will then discover the reason for certain 
intentional inaccuracies employed by skilful artists ; and 
in their turn can essay this compromise between taste 
and the strict observance of principles, a compromise 
which may be called the perspective of feeling, and 
which is only possible through a thorough knowledge 



158 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

of the rules, and after the actual observation of their 
instances in nature. 

Aerial perspective cannot be taught so rigidly, but 
may still be studied in a series of special observations. 
Experiments should be made before the pupils upon 
the modifications that take place in a colour according to 
its distance from the spectator. Here are instances of 
such experiments : models nude, or all draped in the 
same colour, should be placed like survey poles at 
regular distances, when they will give rise to very 
instructive observations upon the effect that different 
degrees of distance have upon colour, light, and shadow. 
If the models are drfesed in drapery of the same colour 
and placed at distances measured in advance, the 
spectators will be able to appreciate the modifications 
that the colour undergoes in relation to known dis- 
tances. A row of columns, or an avenue of trees, will 
give occasion for similar experiments. 

Such observations upon aerial perspective, capable of 
infinite variation, should be stored in the memory, and 
will thus become a fund of knowledge of invaluable 
help to the artist. 

The life model posing in the school was one of the 
most important subjects of study in the fourth stage of 
teaching, but the advanced stage has nothing to do 
with academic poses. Its object is to show man in 
action in all freedom and naturalness. Instead of 
saying to a model, for instance, Take the pose of a 
man carrying a stone, we shall say, Carry this stone 
from here to here. The students who are observing 
him, as he crosses the room, will be watching a series 
of movements always real, and because they are natural 



FIFTH LETTER 159 

and right, almost always beautiful. In fact the model 
will lift the stone with exactly the effort it demands, 
will walk as a person walks when carrying a burden of 
that size and weight, and his action will necessarily be 
true again when he puts the stone down at the required 
point. When it is remembered that the students of 
the fifth stage are practised in rapid observation, it will 
be evident how great is the benefit which they are likely 
to draw from the frequent repetition of such exercises. 

A number of models together will allow of more 
complicated movements. Let them wear garments of 
different styles and periods, so as to serve in the study 
of old costume. The attention and interest aroused by 
antique draperies will be keenest when the models are 
in action. For then the young artists looking on will 
see how the absence of restraint, and the naturalness of 
the movements, cause the folds to fall into happy lines 
that give rise to admirable motives at every moment. 

The beauty of such living scenes, and their interest 
as study, can be further increased by the effects under 
which they occur. First the groups of figures, whether 
nude or draped, will no longer be lighted by the un- 
changing light of the studio, but by the ever-varying 
light of the sky. They will have as background trees, 
clouds, and misty distances, and will detach themselves 
against their background in light or shadow. 

Other impressions just as striking will occur to help 
the students towards a finer style ; as, for instance, 
when they see in the interior of some fine building 
how figures clothed in noble draperies, as they pass 
under the great porticoes, ascend and descend the 
spacious staircases, or look down from the galleries, 



160 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

fall everywhere into harmony with the lines and forms 
of the architecture. 1 

What precious lessons, what subjects for their 
admiration, will such living and splendid scenes afford 
to those who live amongst them ! And as they find 
on every side of them effects which recall the works of 
the great masters of form and colour, they will come 
to see how much these various geniuses drew their 
inspiration from the living source of nature, each 
through his own feeling and his own character, and 
will thus perceive the true example to be followed, if 
one would do as they did. 

Holding such convictions, the students will be only 
too eager, when under the emotion of scenes that rouse 
their enthusiasm, to try in their turn to express their 
own ideas. And when the professor asks them to give 
an account, in drawings and paintings from memory, of 
what impressed them most, they will eagerly respond to 
his appeal. They will then appreciate more than ever 
the precious advantages of possessing a memory which 
enables them to seize effects so changing and actions 
so rapid, in a word, impressions of nature and of life. 

In thus giving an account of their impressions the 
students show their different characters and all the 
natural aptitudes, which their education was so careful 
to preserve and keep inviolate, while cultivating and 
perfecting them. 

Moreover, such impressions will not always be 
exact reproductions of things that struck them, but 
will often be the expression of the ideas to which the 
sights of nature gave birth. 

1 See " The Training of the Memory in Art. Advanced Study." 



FIFTH LETTER 161 

After they have had a sufficiency of such practice 
in the advanced classes, they may be set to work for 
themselves upon compositions of the highest style. 1 

They have, in a sense, lived in poetic times and 
lands where their ideas have been raised and ennobled. 
They carry in their memories a store of precious 
material, a crowd of picturesque facts, unused by 
any one before them* These their imaginations will 
know how to idealise and combine in a thousand 
ways in the compositions, which are the fruit of the 
exercises with which the fifth and last stage of educa- 
tion closes. 

And here ends the part played by teaching, of which 
I have tried to sketch the plan from its first principles 
and their elementary deductions up to their most 
advanced application. 

The students, henceforth full-fledged artists, must 
now be left to themselves in the execution of their work. 
If the method has succeeded in its mission, which is to 
implant in them the seeds of the great qualities in art, 
they can, as they enter upon its practice, cry, " Anch' io 
son pittore." 

They, too, are ready to burst into flower, possessing 
faculties of observation and memory, possessed of a 
love both for art and for nature, and imbued with a 
feeling for fine tradition. Their individual talent is 
unspoiled, while strengthened and developed in the 
natural direction of its own originality, and finding its 
fulfilment in the knowledge which is now at its 
service. 

1 See Note R, p. 178. 



M 



EPILOGUE 

The reader may possibly be surprised that the fore- 
going letters should insist so much upon the educa- 
tional advantages that are to be found in the galleries 
and museums of Paris, since they were written originally 
to the professor of a provincial school. I think I 
ought to explain this point. 

To make the play and development of the method 
the better understood, I imagined its being applied first 
in Paris, that is, in the surroundings most favourable 
to artistic education, on account of the museums, 
picture-galleries, libraries, and rich collections of the 
decorative arts that exist there. The principal provincial 
towns are also in a position to carry out, though on a 
more modest scale, the suggestions given in my method, 
for they also possess museums, picture-galleries, libraries, 
and numbers of casts from the Antique. 

Still, there are schools far removed from any artistic 
centre, which are in consequence without such resources, 
and most of the professors who are in charge of them 
complain bitterly of the disadvantages of their position, 
and lose all heart. 

But before considering their task impossible, are 
they sure that they have fully examined and understand 
their own position ? May not the fact that they are 

162 



EPILOGUE 163 

buried in the country carry certain compensations 
with it, certain advantages, which result from their 
very isolation ? In my opinion there is in this con- 
nection an experiment very well worth trying, and 
worthy of a teacher of real merit, who is banished to 
the depths of the country, as does sometimes happen 
to such a teacher. 

To make success possible in this proposed experi- 
ment, the first thing he must do is to forget Paris, 
and give up all idea of preparing his students for its 
competitions. Next, having thoroughly mastered the 
principles of our method, he must apply them resolutely 
and conscientiously. It is plain that the work in the first, 
second, and third stages is as well suited to the country 
as to Paris. The difficulties of completely carrying out 
the teaching in the country only begin with the fourth 
stage, in which the study of the great masters is re- 
commended. In truth, such study is very valuable 
and very often bears good fruit. Still, the habit of 
going to picture-galleries too soon, a habit impossible 
to prevent in Paris y has its dangers for very young 
students. It may encourage them to take their ideas 
from the old masters instead of finding them in them- 
selves, and learning how to bring them forth. And 
the faculty of invention, if it is not exercised and 
cultivated early, wanes and quickly dies. 

The teacher in the country need fear no such 
dangers. Freed from our competitions, which are 
often unfair, alone, and consequently able to do as he 
pleases, he can insist upon hard work and the strict 
observance of his method. Undoubtedly he will be 
forced to reduce in his teaching the part played 



i6 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

ordinarily by tradition, but then the part played by 
nature will be all the larger ; and in truth, drawing from 
the life model, with anatomy and perspective, must 
always remain the essential basis of education. Again, 
through the training of their memory and observation, 
his students will make all the finest landscape of the 
country-side their own, and every country-side has 
subjects worthy of an artist's interest, and capable of 
inspiring works of art. 

As for painting, instructive object lessons and 
Subjects can never be lacking, wherever there is a sky 
to spread light and colour ; and to crown his teaching 
the professor can apply the exercises of the fifth stage, 
so far as possibility allows, and thus nourish the aspira- 
tions of the few among his pupils who have natures 
finer or more poetical than their fellows. 

If one compares such teaching with the teaching 
that is possible in towns of real importance, one finds, 
of course, many gaps : but all the same one must not 
underrate the advantages that lie in peaceful, undis- 
turbed surroundings, and in isolation, for developing 
the intimate personal feeling and natural qualities of 
each pupil, in all their purity and freshness. In such 
surroundings, if protected with proper care and fore- 
sight, there might arise and even reach its full develop- 
ment a talent really new, naive, and spontaneous, 
developing such fulness of knowledge and strength of 
conviction as would ensure it against the danger of 
all outside influences. There would still be time to 
complete its education by travel, and by the study and 
observation of the great masters. 

Many of the famous artists have followed such a 



EPILOGUE 165 

course. Rubens undertook his first voyage to Italy 
after he had reached the fulness of his talent and his 
powerful individuality was fully developed ; and so the 
deep impression made upon his mind by the master- 
pieces that he then saw for the first time, did no injury 
to his own personal point of view. In his fine 
drawings after Leonardo da Vinci we see how entirely 
he remained himself, while copying and drawing in- 
spiration from these great masterpieces. 

If Rubens, instead of visiting Rome at the right 
moment, had been brought up there as a pupil of one 
of the famous masters of the day, the Roman school 
would assuredly have numbered another great artist in 
its ranks. The splendid genius of Flemish art, how- 
ever, would not have been revealed to the world : we 
should never have known Rubens ! 

In olden times there existed political and economic 
conditions, and difficulties of communication, which 
kept the different schools of art separated from one 
another, and compelled them to develop apart. To 
this, indeed, the distinctive character of each school is 
largely due. What can be more dissimilar than the 
Flemish, Dutch, and Spanish schools, or the different 
schools of Italy ? The latter, though flourishing in 
towns often very close together, were, in fact, as com- 
pletely separated by feuds, rivalry, and continual war- 
fare, as they could ever be by immense distances. 

The progress of civilisation has created an entirely 
different state of things in the arts. The facility and 
rapidity of communication, the frequency of exhibitions, 
local, national, and universal, bring artists of all coun- 
tries and all doctrines constantly in contact. They 



1 66 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

are incessantly exchanging and borrowing ideas, pro- 
cesses, and styles. And further, in these exhibitions 
the question of sales and orders becomes of immense 
importance. 

From the combination of all these essentially 
modern circumstances art finds itself to-day in an 
entirely new position. Without entering into it at 
too great length, the following chief characteristics are 
worth noting. There is a tendency towards a general 
level, with a certain raising of the average talent, and a 
continual increase in the number of artists. Also, it is 
impossible to overlook the sorry preoccupation with 
commerce, the far too frequent abandonment of dis- 
interested art, which is the outcome of real conviction, 
for the eager pursuit of monetary success. And lastly, 
it is noticeable that in the ever - increasing mass of 
production, often highly skilful, works of really great 
distinction and power become rarer and rarer. 

Every day the differences between the times in which 
we live and those of the old masters are increasing. 
Then, there were numbers of different schools, now 
it may be said that there is only one in Europe ; for 
the slight differences which still distinguish certain 
countries will soon have disappeared. 

There is no reason to regret, in the name of art, the 
old days of isolation and violence, or to condemn the 
progress of modern societies. On the contrary, it is 
in the continuation of the march of progress that we 
must look for the remedy. 

Civilisation, more powerful even than Achilles' spear, 
will be well able to heal the passing harm that it may 
cause. Then let the friends of artistic progress have 



EPILOGUE 167 

confidence in the future, and henceforward lend all the 
help they can : and may they realise that, first and fore- 
most of all the many difficult questions in art that wait 
to be solved, one of the most urgent and most vital is, 
that of its teaching. 

Surely it is full time to introduce in art really 
methodical study, and even hard grind, in such a way, 
of course, as not to interfere in the least with the 
fullest liberty for spontaneous and natural develop- 
ment. It is education alone that, by developing when 
young the artist's deepest personal convictions, can 
create in him the passion, the compelling need to 
express them, and so absorb all meaner feelings and 
self-interest in the noble and generous passion for art. 



SUPPLEMENTARY NOTES 

Note A (from p. 105) 

The majority of old copies produced such deplorable results, 
not, as some people seem to think, because their subjects 
were taken from human forms, but because they were essen- 
tially faulty, being elaborate and complicated, out of all 
relation to the previous studies that they were made to follow. 
From not being arranged in any sane order, or really graduated 
sequence, one copy could not lead on to the next, or help to 
any understanding of its purpose. Put before the students in 
this way, without method, they were quite unintelligible to 
them, and became mere tours de force of calligraphy, impossible 
to execute, resulting in fruitless struggles, discouragement, and 
despair. 

It is evident that such procedure must invariably produce 
disaster, whatever the subjects selected for the copies. 

By all means, let us learn from the failures of recent teach- 
ing - y but we must not suppose that because it failed, its failures 
undermine in any sense the authority of teachers such as 
Cennino Cennini, Leonardo da Vinci, Benvenuto Cellini, 
Vasari, Lomazzo, Armenini, Jean Cousin, and others, who all 
counselled the use of copies drawn or engraved from figures or 
parts of figures. 

Note B (from p. 108) 

In a great number of systems of teaching drawing, the 
perfectly natural and logical principle of arranging difficulties 

16S 



NOTES 169 

in a gradual sequence is entirely misunderstood. Exercises of 
great difficulty are often taken before others much easier, 
without any attention being paid to arranging them in a 
rational order. 

Such errors, and very serious errors they are in education, 
are almost always supported by appealing to the authority 
of nature. For instance, we are told that objects, as shown 
us by nature, strike us by their masses and not by their details, 
and that consequently all students of drawing should begin by 
establishing the masses. 

As a working rule — although I cannot admit the logic of 
the reasoning — it is certainly excellent for advanced students, 
but it can be extremely injurious to absolute beginners. To 
set them a task so difficult and complicated, which is at once 
beyond their powers and their understanding, is merely to 
plunge them into the greatest distress. Can this drawing 
by masses, without any preliminary training, be an exercise 
favourable to the development of the primary qualities of 
correctness and precision ? Far from it — since a mass can, of 
its very nature, never be more than an approximation. 

Nothing in truth is more to be commended than taking 
nature as our example, but we should make sure that we are 
following her lead upon the particular point with which we 
are concerned. If it is education we are concerned with, we 
must observe nature at work as a teacher, and not in her other 
moods. So let us see how she sets about such work. 

Young birds, for example, begin by exercising their wings 
under the direction of their parents, attempting at first only 
very gentle movements, proportioned to their growing strength. 
As their powers increase with exercise the movements become 
more vigorous and more complex. And it is only after they have 
sufficiently developed the organs necessary for flight, that they 
practice first upon the edge of the nest, and finally launch 
themselves into space. If, therefore, we really want to follow 
nature's example in education we must proceed, as she does, 
from the simple to the complex, and begin, before anything 



170 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

else, by developing the faculties and organs essential to the 
subject we propose to learn. If it is drawing, it is plain we 
must first practise accuracy of eye and skill of hand. 



Note C (from p. 109) 

It would undoubtedly be possible to make the first stages 
of learning to draw easier and shorter in a marked degree 
by employing such preparatory exercises as I have already 
suggested should be tried in primary schools. I should 
like to refer the reader to the passage in which I expressed 
my views upon the point in 1872, which is to be found upon 
pages 70 and 71 of a A Survey of Art Teaching." 

I originally published the idea in the Journal de V instruction 
publique^ in 1867. It was not at all well received, however, 
when it first appeared in all its novelty. But this, after all, 
is only what generally happens. It will probably be put into 
practice sooner or later. 

Note D (from p. 109) 

So incoherent are the ideas upon drawing and the teaching 
of drawing, that there has recently been given to the world 
a very strange theory. This is the gist of it. 

Outline does not exist in nature, consequently it is absurd 
to compel the student to surround his forms with a black 
outline. He ought to express the forms as he perceives them, 
that is, by their lights and shadows, and should determine their 
shape by the colours against which they come. 

That we see no black line round natural objects is a fact. 
But, O precise observers of nature ! there are not any lines 
drawn upon the earth, or the sky — no meridians, no ecliptic, 
no tropics, no equator — and yet what a help these imaginary 
lines are in studying the positions, size, and movements of the 
heavenly bodies ! 

If one studies most branches of human knowledge at their 



NOTES 1 71 

root, one finds almost always some hypothesis, some convention, 
as their starting-point and means of development. As to 
drawing, outline is the fiction of genius ; and it alone has made 
this art possible from its first gropings up to its finest mani- 
festations. 

Certainly we meet with skilled artists and clever students 
who see objects by their external shape and their modelling, 
and make use of tones before they have done much work in 
outline. Still, they can only work in this way through a very 
advanced development of their artistic perception, which is in 
fact largely the result of their education, in which the first 
indispensable step must always have been outline. 

Note E (from p. 109) 

I have come to no decision upon the size that the copies 
should be. The teacher is free, therefore, to do exactly 
as he likes in the matter. Still, he should not forget that for 
beginners big distances are more difficult to judge. He must 
always be careful to keep to the principle of gradation of 
difficulties, and should begin by insisting on the students making 
their drawings of exactly the same size as the copy, before he 
allows them to copy them on a different scale. 

Note F (from p. no) 

Certain systems of drawing recommend the teacher to 
make the students, from the very first, execute straight lines 
and curves, at one decided stroke, free hand, or rather with 
their arms held out straight. Many people in high places very 
much approve such a procedure, which appears to them 
eminently fitted to give a beginner a masterly style. But what 
is it that really happens in practice ? As to drawing the straight 
line at one fell swoop, as he is expected to do, even the most 
gifted student can only manage to do it very imperfectly. 
And at best it is rather an act of calligraphy than of real 



172 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

drawing. And when he has made his effort, what is the 
teacher to do ? Is he to accept it, imperfect as it is, or ought 
he to ask for it to be done over again ? But really there is no 
reason why the new tour de force should be any more successful 
than the last, except by some fortunate chance. For the 
student has already done all he can or knows, and has not 
learnt anything, nor can learn anything, in the process. The 
only way for the professor to obtain any improvement, or pro- 
gress, is to mark, or better still make the student mark, with 
dots the places where the straight line or curve is faulty, so as 
to correct it by the help of these dots. But is not this a return 
to the very method which I propose ? 

Real assurance, such as one admires in the work of great 
draughtsmen, can only come from feeling developed by study. 
Sham assurance, that is, " the cocksureness of ignorance," is the 
most regrettable and dangerous of vices. It destroys all 
development and progress at the root. Modesty, and an 
inclination to naive investigation are, on the other hand, the 
most precious of all qualities in a beginner. He will gain 
assurance as he increases in understanding and in vividness 
of impression, and such assurance will never degenerate into 
presumption. 

Note G (from p. 112) 

In this very short statement, to which I am limited, there 
is no room to treat in detail of the teaching of linear and 
geometrical drawing, the methods of teaching which are gener- 
ally satisfactory. Still, it is necessary to say a word upon its 
utility in artistic education, and the place which should be 
given it. 

This exact and correct kind of drawing tsnds to develop the 
feeling for accuracy and symmetry ; it also gives the student, 
through the use of instruments, a kind of skill that is very 
valuable in the study of architecture and perspective. But it 
must not be looked upon, as is too often done, as a preparation 
for drawing proper. For the use of instruments, such as ruler, 



NOTES 173 

compass, square:, etc. arrests the development of judgment by eye 
and skill of hand, through suppressing the practice of these very 
faculties. Linear and geometrical drawing should be studied 
simultaneously with ordinary drawing, but as a by-study, and 
no more than the proper proportion of time should be allotted 
to it ; say, one or two lessons of linear drawing for four or five 
of drawing by eye. 

Among other studies that a draughtsman should not 
neglect is modelling, which is as interesting as it is instructive. 

Later, the students should acquire some elementary know- 
ledge of chemistry, of which painters of our day are only too 
often quite ignorant. 

Note H (from p. 121) 

The beginner should be forbidden to use the stump. 
Later on students should be free to choose their own tools, 
since they are bound to create their own personal method of 
execution for themselves. 

Note I (from p. 123) 

To add a little variety to the students' work the pro- 
fessor may give them, with discretion, some copies of animals, 
ornaments, and flowers to draw from ; but he must take care 
to tell them that these different subjects can only be really 
mastered by making a special study of them direct from nature. 
As for landscape, copying engravings or drawings of it is not 
only useless, but actually injurious, for they are the personal 
interpretations of the artist who made them, and necessarily 
interfere with the interpretations which every artist should 
find spontaneously for himself. 

Note K (from p. 130) 

Many young people become artists without any previous 
literary instruction. The professor should use all his powers 



i 7 4 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

to induce them to repair this want, while there is still time. 
Otherwise they will be prevented from ever reaching the 
height they might have reached. 

Note L (from p. 133) 

Very few people appreciate properly all the qualities which 
go to make a real teacher. They are many, and often of a 
very high order. To his care and influence young students 
are entirely confided, and yet the estimation in which he is 
held, and the recompense that he receives, bear, as a rule, no 
relation to his duties or his merits. 

Surprise is sometimes expressed that there should be so 
few good teachers, particularly art teachers. The astonishment 
should rather be, that men of real merit should ever allow them- 
selves to be drawn, by the sheer force of vocation, into a career 
so ungrateful and so little appreciated. A teacher of drawing, 
indeed, if he devotes himself entirely to his teaching, and even 
goes so far as to sacrifice his own production to it, is almost 
always looked upon as an artist who has miscarried, a sort of 
artistic dead fruit. A teacher is valued on his success outside 
his teaching. A young teacher is always asked if he can draw 
a figure himself, not if he can show others how to do so. 
Opinions so mistaken and unfair are well calculated to repel 
the very men who are j best fitted to be teachers. And such 
opinions spring, as is so usual in errors of judgment, from a 
confusion of language, which results in a confusion of ideas. 
In fact, the words master and professor are almost always con- 
founded, as are the ideas which they express ; and yet the 
distinction is of the simplest. 

Masters in art teach by their works, professors teach by word 
of mouth, and through their method of instruction. 

Raphael, a master great in any company, exercises, and will 
doubtless always continue to exercise an authoritative influence 
through his work. His masterpieces will always be consulted 
and studied, and will provide every one with the highest lessons. 



NOTES 175 

But was Raphael a teacher in the ordinary sense of the word ? 
Did he take any interest in teaching, or make any effort to 
form pupils upon carefully thought-out principles ? It seems 
impossible, when one thinks of all the preoccupations by which 
his great mind must have been absorbed, and of the shortness 
of his life in relation to his marvellous output. 

Raphael gave a hearty welcome, no doubt, to the young 
men who were attracted by his fame and the renown of his 
works. And placed securely by his genius at a height inacces- 
sible to others, he had no need to make any mystery about his 
work, and never thought of doing so, but allowed every one to 
look on and follow him in all the stages of his splendid produc- 
tion, many even taking part in it. 

In truth, there was teaching there of a kind, such as most 
people long for ; and yet the " School of Raphael," like those of 
most illustrious artists, lacked initiative and power of its own. 
Even Giulio Romano himself, despite his brilliant gifts, was 
only an echo. 

There is a fundamental difference between the teacher and 
the artist who produces. The latter may be narrow, and 
unjust in his opinions ; he may think that he alone possesses 
the truth in art, for it is often in this that the passionate con- 
viction lies which gives him his power. But imagine the 
teacher to be possessed of the same kind of force and passion, 
and it is at once evident that the student must lose under such 
domination and coercion all his own natural character and 
sensibility. He may, perhaps, have talent, but it will be his 
master's talent. 

The real teacher must free his criticism of all judgment by 
rule. Hie must not be seen to be attached exclusively to one 
conception of art, but must understand all the conceptions of 
art that have already been produced, and must welcome all pos- 
sible new methods of expression in his pupils. Above all, he 
should never set up his own practice as an example to them, 

for THE MORE IMPERSONAL HE APPEARS, THE MORE CER- 
TAINLY WILL HE ENSURE AND CONFIRM THEIR PERSONALITY. 



176 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

Let it be understood, then, that the profession of teaching 
demands self-denial, devotion, learning, high ideals, and breadth 
of mind, and let it therefore be held in the estimation which it 
deserves. For these qualities are indispensable to the regenera* 
tion of art teaching, and through it to the regeneration of art 
itself. 

Note M (from p. 133) 

It may be useful at this point to teach the students some- 
thing of the divisions and proportions of the human body, such 
as the measurements of Jean Cousin or GeYard Andran, made 
upon the finest examples of the Antique. Not that we must 
expect to see any very immediate advantages result from this. 
Sculptors indeed will find such conventional measurements of 
real use — they must be careful, of course, not to employ them_ 
to excess, or they will result in monotony — for sculptprscon- 
ceive in three dimensions, and study mostly the pronle of the 
forms, which admits of exact measurement. To draughtsmen, 
however, all form and proportion show themselves in perspective, 
and measuring is consequently absolutely impossible. Still they 
may fix the typical proportions in their mind, and use them in 
a general and approximate way, making allowance as far as 
they can for the effect of foreshortening. 

Note N (from p. 135) 

The classical school, which unceasingly extols beauty and 
the pursuit of beauty, always speaks of it as having already 
attained its climax of absolute and final expression in the works 
of the past. Now beauty is not exclusively Greek or Roman. 
All aspects of nature, even the most ordinary, possess a certain 
beauty of their own. The artist's business is to discover and 
make plain to others the finer point of view of scenes of every 
kind, to disentangle their dominant characteristics, and to 
express with emphasis the artistic sentiment that underlies 
them. 



NOTES 177 

Such an interpretation being essentially personal must neces-^ 
sarily be different from every one else's. This indeed is the 
real characteristic of true originality. Therefore an artist must 
emphasise and establish definitely this personal interpretation 
without being afraid of repeating himself. The deliberate 
search for oddity or ugliness is in no sense originality. Artists 
sometimes think that in this way they are asserting their 
personal freedom and independence of all tradition : but let 
them know that, when they are not acting naturally and spon- 
taneously, they are in fact submitting to the domination of 
some outside influence, often merely a passing fashion, often 
the sterile ambition of attaining success at any price. 



Note O (from p. 135) 

After studying the anatomy of man the students should 
go on to the anatomy of animals, especially that of the horse, 
which they should learn to draw from nature with a knowledge 
of its construction. 

Note P (from p. 142) 

The reproduction from memory of his impressions is an 
excellent and conclusive test of a pupil's artistic bent. Under 
the ordinary course of study it is very difficult to arrive at any 
real opinion on the subject. What conclusion can be drawn 
in most cases from even a really well executed figure, or a good 
sketch from the life model ? For such results can be achieved 
by quite mediocre talent through the persistent imitation of 
abler students or of conventional types. Over and over again 
one sees the most brilliant beginnings of this kind end in quite 
insignificant and commonplace production. 

But in the reproduction from memory of observations which 
are purely personal the student necessarily lays himself bare. 
He shows what are the subjects with which nature inspires 
him, what he selects by preference, and the degree of distinction 

N 



178 LETTERS TO A YOUNG PROFESSOR 

and skill with which he interprets her. He shows what feelings 
are aroused in him, and whether he knows how to communi- 
cate them to others. In fact the artist that is in him is really 
put to the proof. 



Note Q (from p. 145) 

Both professor and students could consult M. ChevreuPs 
book upon the contrasts and harmony of colour with great 
advantage. In it they will find many observations, both 
interesting and instructive, which it would be well worth 
while to learn by heart. 

Note R (from p. 161) 

I have intentionally refrained from entering into any 
detail as regards "Historical Composition" or the " Grand 
Style " with which the teaching of the fifth stage ends. If I 
were to suggest, as is generally done, that the students should 
imitate the compositions of the great masters, I should be corn- 
pelled to deduce from typical masterpieces rules and principles 
such as the professor could hand on to them. But the whole 
purpose of my teaching is to evoke really individual concep- 
tions, of which the results must often be quite new and 
unforeseen. Consequently it follows, that it is the professor 
alone who can judge what teaching and what counsel should 
be given, according to the varying needs and circumstances, 
which are never twice alike. 



NOTE ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS 

The drawings reproduced in this book are taken by the kind 
permission of Dr. Rondeau from the portfolios full of the 
pupils' work, left him by his uncle. They are selected from 
among those marked by de Boisbaudran himself as done from 
memory. The drawings from nature, and the drawing from 
the Titian by Bellenger, were made before the Commission 
of the Ecole des Beaux -Arts, which thus establishes their 
bona fides beyond all question ; 1 while Professor Legros has 
given us his own account of his drawing of Holbein's 
" Erasmus," which I quote later. 

Between them, these drawings illustrate both the power that 
can be acquired by young students of memorising impressions 
direct from nature, and the manner in which such power was 
cultivated. 

Objection is sometimes raised to memory work, on the 
ground that it teaches students to draw out of their heads, or 
from u chic." Of this danger de Boisbaudran was well aware, 
and his teaching is carefully designed to combat it. 

In memory work, as in ordinary work, he tells us, the first 
step in training is the practice of literal imitation. For upon 
this alone is built up the power of expressing exactly and 
completely the profounder and less literal impressions, which an 
artist receives from nature later on, as his personality develops 
and matures. 

The, reader will remember how he insists upon exactness 
and thoroughness as the condition of all real progress, and how,v 

1 See p. 95 of " A Survey of Art Teaching." 

179 N 2 



180 NOTE ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS 

to check all tendency to drawing from " chic," instead of from 
real observation, he declares that memory work must not be 
content to be " something like " the subject, but should be as 
accurate as a drawing done from the subject itself. This was 
one of his reasons for making the students memorise pictures, 
statues, and drawings, as it is possible in such work to test the 
absolute fidelity of the imitation. 

Drawings Nos. 5, 7, 9, 11, 12 show clearly enough the 
standard of accuracy that he demanded. Reproductions from 
the original pictures are given for the- sake of comparison. 

In memory work from nature, it is, of course, impossible to 
prove the absolute fidelity of imitation, although real impressions 
from nature have certain " characteristics of naivete and truth 
which are almost unmistakable." Such characteristics are 
convincingly present in these drawings. Done from memory 
by young students, without the help of note or sketch of any 
kind, they show a power of grasping a scene as a whole, of 
seizing its essential character and movement, rarely possessed 
even by mature artists. The weaknesses and faults in pro- 
portion or construction are just the things which are easily 
corrected from the model. 

Do not, in fact, all these drawings from nature and from 
pictures alike, show the quality which de Boisbaudran declared 
to be the real object of his training, that is, the power of 
" seeing " vividly objects no longer present ? 

In an article that appeared in M.A.P. in 1903, Professor 
Legros gave the following account of his memory drawing 
from Holbein's cc Erasmus." 

" Lecoq's methods of teaching were his own, and their effect 
may be seen in the work of all his pupils. He set himself to 
developing in us a memory for pictures ; to this end he made 
us use our powers of observation to the utmost, by accustoming 
us to seize upon the essential points of everything. Often he 
sent us to Nature, but still more frequently to the Louvre, 
where we had to make drawings, which in turn had to be 
reproduced from memory in the school. 



NOTE ON THE ILLUSTRATIONS 181 

" One day I was sent to copy the portrait of 'Erasmus,' but 
my c carton/ or drawing - board, was so enormous and so 
cumbersome that I could not succeed in setting it up, and had 
to renounce my project. However, I did not excite myself 
about it, but resolved to learn my subject by heart, and see if I 
could not draw it on my return to the school. 

" I calculated the exact distances between the various points, 
fixed the characteristic traits firmly in my mind, and then the 
secondary ones, easy enough once I was sure of the principal 
ones. And thus I learned slowly to dissect and reconstruct 
this masterpiece. When I returned Lecoq asked me for my 
drawing. c I have not done it,' I replied, and then, seeing his 
perplexed look, I added quickly, c but I am going to do it now.' 
The professor went off", displeased and incredulous, and I set 
myself patiently to the task, recalling and arranging my mental 
notes, and conjuring up in my mind all the features of this 
great and moving picture. 

"When Lecoq came by again the drawing was well 
advanced. He seemed well pleased, sat down beside me, and 
watched me continue. From that day Lecoq showed a 
particular interest in me, and took me from the general room 
into his own studio, so this portrait of 'Erasmus' had a 
marked influence on my future." 

Professor Legros once said to me, when speaking of this 
drawing, cc I can to this day reconstruct it from memory," 
and further added that "from it he learnt all his art." — 
Translator. 





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No. l-MEMORY DRAWING FROM NATURE. 
By G. Bellenger. 

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No. to.— GUILLAUME DE MONTMORENCY. 
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No. 1 1.— MEMORY DRAWING FROM THE ANTIQUE. 
By Chapron. 




No, 12.— MEMORY DRAWING FROM THE ANTIQUE. 

By A. Lugros. 



INDEX 



Abstract Forms, 8 

Academie des Beaux-Arts* 45 

Accuracy, cultivation of, 13, 15; im- 
portance of, ii?T; insistence on, vii, 
126; in work from memory, 127 

Anatomy, 16, 35, 135, 1575 of animals, 
177 Note O 5 learnt by heart, 17, 
137, 138; moment of beginning, 135; 
practice, 138 5 questions on, 137 

Animals, 38, 173 Note 1 5 anatomy of, 
177 Note O 

Antique, 131, 134 

Arago, Francois, 52 

Architecture, drawing of, 142 

Armenini, 168 

Art, definition and principles of, 76, yy ; 
diverse manifestations of, 76 ; "ideal," 
155 ; interpretation of nature, 97 j in 
relation to photography, 97 

Audran, Gerard, 176 

Bavaria, Art-School of, 58 

Beaux -Arts, Academie des, 45 } Ecole 
des, 58, 71, 75, 77 j competition with 
Ecole des, 50 5 memory trials at, 95, 
and see Illustrations 

Bellenger, v, and see Illustrations 

Bracquemond, v 

Brothers of Christian Doctrine, 59, 65 

Callot, 76 

Casts, 124 ; in fourth stage, 131 

Cazin, v, xi, 104, and see Illustrations 

Cellini, 17, 168 

Cenninni, Cenninno, 168 

Chapron, w Illustrations 

Chevreul, 27 footnote, 52, 178 Note Q 

Cogniet, 49, 52, 59 

Colour, defective sense of corrected, 26 ; 

memory for, 24 $ memory trial, 50 
Competitions, 78-84 



Composition, 39, 148 ; in children, 150; 
exercises in, 151, 1525 "historical," 
153, 178 Note R 5 imitafion of others, 
1505 moment to begin, 148 5 objection 
to large classes, 152 j "rules'* of, 151 

Conviction, artist's, 79 

Copies, 63, 117, 168 Note A; bad, 64; 
drawings of old masters unsuited for, 
1245 drawn on the same scale, 171 
Note E j excessive use of, 123; in 
alternation with solids, 119 5 prejudice 
against, 105 5 proper service of, 105 ; 
qualities of good, 124; of second 
stage, n 8 ; size of, 171 Note E; 
teach exactness, 96, 105 

Copying, 132, 148 

Corot, 146 footnote 

Correction from a distance, 122, 126 

Costume, 37, 159 5 modern, 40 

Couder, 45, 95 

Cousin, Jean, 142, 168, 176 

Guisin, 46 footnote 

Curves, 8 j first study of, 112 

Dalou, v 

Dantan, 46 

David, 59, 77, 143 

Decorative art, obstacles to, 98 Note F 

Delacroix, Eugene, 52 

Delaroche, Paul, 52 

Drawing, base of the graphic arts, 109 ; 
dependent on memory, 6 j false and 
sound methods of, 115 j first lesson 
in, 109 ; in general education, 18 ; 
use of preparatory points, no, 113 

Dumas, 52 

Dumont, 46 

Ecole des Arts Decoratifs, 7 footnote ; 
des Beaux-Arts, 49, 58, 71, 75* 77 5 
competition with, 50 5 Imperiale de 
Dessin, x, 7, 25 ; Nationale, 71 



183 



1 84 



INDEX 



Education, effect of, 167 j first need in, 

62 ; primary, 69, 70 
Eye, 62, 170 Note B 

Face, human, as copies, 120 j for memory- 
work, 127 

Fantin-Latour, v, vi 

Figure, human, 120 5 proportions of, 176 
Note M 

Fleury, Robert, 45 

Freedom, false and real, 171 Note F 

Gaillard, v 

Galleries, danger of picture, 163 

Gaudichaud, 52 

Geometrical drawing, influence of, 172 

Note G 
Greece, 156 
Gros, 59 
Guillaume, 95 

Hand, 62, 170 Note B 

Hokusai, 6 footnote 

Holbein, 125 5 "Erasmus," see Illustra- 
tions ; Legros' drawing of " Erasmus," 
181, and see Illustrations 

Horizontals, use of, 42, 113, 1 16, 128 

Horse, 38 

Ideas, origin of, 22 

Imaginary drawings and paintings, 43 

Imagination, 21, 39, 153 

Imperiale, Ecole, de Dessin, x, 7, 25 

Ingres, 59, 136 

Institut, 45 

Instruments, not to be used, no 

Invention, 150 

Julien, 105 

Landscape, condemned for copies, 173 

Note I 5 unsuited to early training, 

120 
Legros, v, 181, and see Illustrations 
Letter, from Cogniet, 49 5 from Horace 

Vernet, 51 ; from the Institut, 46 
Life-model, 34, 86, 133 ; memory work 

from, 139, 140, 158 5 in movement, 

Literary education, 173 Note K 
Lomazzo, 168 

Masses, 43, 62 5 understanding of, 116 j 

use of, 121 
Master, definition of, 174 Note L 



Masters, old, 131 ; imitation of the 
great, 155 5 moment to study the 
great, 132 

Memory, 1-53, 139 ; age of pupils, 8 ; 
appreciation of trained, 160 ; carica- 
ture and oddity, 10,129 ; for colour, 
24, 145 5 order of study, 26, 127 ; 
correction of work from, 1275 differ- 
ences of, for form and for colour, 25 ; 
different kinds of, 41 ; drawing de- 
pendent on, 6 ; early cultivation of, 
5 ; in elementary education, 18 ; 
exactness in work from, 13, 15, 127 j 
exercises in colour, 24 ; experiments 
in park, public buildings, etc., 30, 32, 
1595 first lesson, 9, 127; four 
months' result, 16 ; in fourth stage, 
139 j in general education, 195 and 
imagination, 21, 161 5 indispensable, 
5 j and intelligence simultaneously 
cultivated, 41 5 in mechanics, 18 j 
methods of committing to, 43, 53 
App. IV. 5 moment to begin work 
from, 126 j naivete of impressions 
from nature, 141 ; natural bent made 
clear by work from, 31, 177 Note 
P 5 stored observation, 3 j originality 
cultivated by work from, 141 5 over- 
loaded, 14 ; power of recalling objects, 

128 ; practice in daily life, 141 5 pro- 
portion of lessons in work from, 1 30 ; 
qualities of copies for exercising the, 

129 5 questions and answers, 12 j 
"recitation dessinee," 129 ; in science, 
18 ; tact in handling the, 128 ; taste 
and, 139; third stage, degree attained 
in, 129, 130; three months' result, 
10 5 trials at the Ecole des Beaux- 
Arts, 95, and see Illustrations ; ulti- 
mate purpose of training, 43 ; work 
from life model,~ 139, 158 ; from 
movement, 140; from pictures, 139, 
180, 181 

Merim6e, 52 

Method, conditions necessary to success 
of, 87 5 fundamental principles of, 115, 
164, 168 Note B ; intelligent applica- 
tion of, 107 ; need of bona fide tests 
of, 94 j of representing form by squares, 
angles, etc., 61 5 test of different, 89 

Michael Angelo, 17, 97, 132, 139 

Millet, J. F., 6 footnote, 151 footnote 

Modelling, 173 Note G 

Modern conditions, unfavourable, 156 5 
influence of, 165 



INDEX 



185 



Movement, memory work from, 140 

NaTvete, absence of, 60 5 need of, 87 
Nature, 1 5 5 combined with tradition, 

^5» 135 ; real study of, 34 ; as a 

teacher, 169 
Niewerkerque, 95 

Observation, 149 ; becomes a habit, 142 ; 
five principal points in, 42 j stimula- 
tion of, 126 ; " stored," 3 

Originality, manufactured, 93 5 true, 
177 Note N 

Outline, 170 Note D ; the fiction of 
genius, 171 Note D 

Painting, 143 ; colour work from 
memory, 145 ; copying as a correc- 
tive, 148 5 diversity of manners of, 
147 5 palette for beginners, 144 j 
progressive studies, 145 ; traditional 
methods lost, 1445 ways of beginning, 
146 

Palissy, 17 

Parthenon, 38 

Pencil, use of, recommended, 121 

Personality, 148 ; in memory- work, 141 ; 
in life-school, 133 5 developed by 
memory-work, 141 

Perspective, 35, 142, 157; aerial, 36, 
158 j intentional inaccuracy, 157 

Pheidias, 76, 85 

Points, use of, no, 117 

Poussin, 46 

Pradier, 52 

Principle, fundamental, of teaching, 108 5 
of drawing, 115 

Proportions, difficulty of judging, 69 5 
early practice in judging, 70 ; elemen- 
tary exercises in, 71 

Public, artistic ignorance of, 20 

Raphael, 17, 64, 76, 85, 97, 139 ; as a 

teacher, 174 
Rigamey, Guillaume, v 
Reverdin, 105 
Rodin, v, vii, 143 footnote. 
RomanoTGiulio, 175 Note L 
Rome, 1565 Prix de, 79 footnote 5 for 

landscape, 84 
Roty, v 



Rubens, 17, 165 

St. Hilaire, Geoffroy, 53 

Salvator, 76 

Shadows, drawing by, 63 

Society for encouragement of National 

Industries, 48, 51 
Solid figures, use of geometrical^ .119 
Solon, v, vi 
Stage, results of fifth, 161 ; of first, 117 5 

of fourth, 154, of second, 122; of 

third, 129, 130 j seven divisions of 

fourth, 131 
Straight lines, 4, 8 
Stump, 173 Note Hj objections to, 121 

Taylor, Baron, 52 

Teacher, in country, 162 ; definition of, 
174 Note L; duty of, 44; explana- 
tion of great masters, 1325 personal 
influence of, 45 footnote 5 qualities of, 
174, 175 Note L 

Teaching, in the country, 162, 164 5 
principle of all good, yy, 108 5 time is 
required in, 96 Note C 

Tests, of de Boisbaudran's method, 95 ; 
need of bona fide, 94 

Tissot, v 

Titian, 76, 85, 97, and see Illustrations 

Turner, 6 footnote 

Tradition, 39, 77 

Uniformity, danger of, in schools, 134 ; 

evils of, 93 5 fault of, 58, 67 
Unit of comparison, 42, 122 ; learning 

accepted units by heart, 70 

Vasari, 168 

Venice, 156 

Vernet, Carle, 46 

Vernet, Horace, 6, 45, 52 j letter from, 

5i 

Veronese, 85 

Vertical lines, use of, 42, 113, 116, 128 

Vinci, Leonardo da, 62, 100, 118, 149, 

165, 168 
Viollet le Due, x, 52 

Watteau, 76 
Watts, 1 39 footnote 
Way, T. R., 53 
Whistler, v, 53 



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