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MED 1 



Coyright, 1909, by Charles . Scribner's Sons 
Published October, 1909 


n. JT. 

J. S. H. 


THIS little book represents the ful- 
filment of a promise to put into per- 
manent form certain impromptu talks 
on landscape painting given before the 
Art Students' League of New York at 
its summer school at Woodstock, N. Y. 
No effort has been made to elaborate 
the themes treated, the writer feeling 
that what might be gained in literary 
form might very well be lost in spon- 
taneity and conciseness of statement. 
It is hardly necessary to say that these 
little talks make no claim to infallibil- 
ity of judgment. They simply repre- 
sent the present beliefs and convictions 
of a painter who is himself still a stu- 


dent ; but they are sincere, at least, and 
" straight from the shoulder." 

It is to be regretted that the art of 
color printing has not yet reached a 
stage of development where it can be 
trusted with the reproduction of a mas- 
terpiece of landscape, which often de- 
pends for its beauty on color-tones and 
color-transitions of extreme delicacy. 
In the present volume it has been 
judged best to confine the reproduc- 
tions to simple half-tones in black and 
white to give no color rather than 
color which is false and misleading; 
and the illustrations here included are 
therefore presented, not as adequate 
representations of the works them- 
selves, but as hints and suggestions 
only of the qualities* which give to those 
works their distinction and their beauty. 

Thanks are due to the editors of 
Scribner's Magazine, The North Amer- 


ican Review, The International Studio, 
and Palette and Brush for permission 
to reprint here certain of the chapters 
which have already appeared in the 
publications mentioned. 

B. H. 

WOODSTOCK, N. Y., 1909. 































"Landscape" Frontispiece 


" The Shepherdess" 10 


"A Flock of Sheep" ...... 22 


" The Bridge at Argenteutt" ... 34 


" The Fog Warning" .:,... 44 


" Twilight, Autumn" . . . . . . 60 


" The North Atlantic" 74 


"Landscape" 90 


"Land and Sea" 104 





"The Red Barn" 112 


"La Crepuscvle" 126 


"Brooklyn Bridge 19 132 


" Summer Moonlight" 148 


"Winter in Picardy" 154 


"Wood Interior" 166 


" November Hills" 174 


"Early Moonrise" ...... 186 


" New England Factory Village " . 196 


"Moonrise" 202 


"Landscape" 208 





"Woodstock Meadows in Winter" . 216 


"At Dusk" 228 


"October Evening" 240 


"Autumn Oaks" , 248 




FOR some occult reason in which the 
two factors of race and psychology 
are intimately blended, landscape art 
in its best expression is and ever has 
been confined within the narrow geo- 
graphical limits of Northern and West- 
ern Europe. Oriental art the art of 
Persia, Japan, and India has always 
been more or less abstract and symbol- 
ical; and, as the art of a people invari- 
ably reflects the character of the race 
which gave it birth, we may deduce with 


certainty the character of the Oriental 
from the character of his art. By revers- 
ing the same reasoning we reach the con- 
clusion that the simple existence of our 
Aryan ancestors (lived close to nature 
in the constant companionship of ele- 
mental things) has found expression 
in the landscape art of their remote 
descendants. The artistic temperament 
is no growth of a day. It has its roots 
in the far-away beginnings of a people, 
and we make no unwarranted presump- 
tion in asserting that the landscape 
or marine painter of to-day is at last 
giving expression to the groping in- 
stincts and ideals of his cave-dwelling 
forbears. The blinding storms with 
which they battled, the mountains they 
scaled in the pursuit of game, the waves 
they rode in their primitive canoes, the 
hard winters that froze their blood, and 
the soft spring suns that warmed them, 



have all been woven into the fabric of 
the race. In this way only can we ex- 
plain the fact that the peoples of North- 
ern Europe have alone been able to 
comprehend and place upon canvas the 
ever-varying moods of nature savage, 
cruel, and relentless at times, and at 
times exquisitely gentle, brooding, and 

What is more difficult to explain, how- 
ever, is the fact that this ability should 
only have developed and ripened with- 
in the last hundred years. Of course, 
viewed in the larger sense, European 
pictorial art, as a whole, is a compara- 
tively modern thing a mere matter of 
four or five centuries. But in its earliest 
development it was in no sense an ex- 
pression of out-of-door life or of out- 
of-door feeling. 

This is doubtless in part explained by 
the fact that the earliest European art 


was an Oriental derivative (see the By- 
zantine school), and that it remained 
throughout the whole of the Italian 
Renaissance in the service of the Ori- 
ental religion which we had imported 
from Palestine. Moreover, the Italians 
were themselves more or less Oriental in 
character, with the subtle southern tem- 
perament and the southern mental bias. 
There was little of the cave-dweller or 
the viking in their ancestry. 

However this may be, it is quite certain 
that the old masters knew little about 
landscape and cared less. Their con- 
cern was with humanity; its joys and 
its sorrows; its loves and its passionate 
hatreds; its wars; its pageants; its faiths 
and its superstitions. Landscape to 
them was never more than a stage 
setting, a background against which 
the human actors played their parts. 
Viewed simply in this light, it was not 



only adequate, but frequently artistic 
and admirably beautiful. Nevertheless, 
it was not landscape at all in the mod- 
ern sense of the word landscape as we 
know it. It was conventional in form, 
false in color, and devoid of atmosphere 
and luminosity. 

Not until the early years of the nine- 
teenth century, and then in far-away 
England, did the first true school of 
landscape make its appearance. A 
small group of painters, the best known 
of whom perhaps were Constable, 
Crome, and Bonington, went out into 
the fields, and brought back pictures 
which were the first true impressions of 
out-door nature ever placed upon can- 
vas. Their achievement was unique. 
Indeed, it was one of the most as- 
tounding intellectual feats of all time, 
and it has never received a fraction 
of the praise which is its just due. 


Art, be it remembered, is a thing 
of infinitely slow growth, each school 
building upon the foundations prepared 
by its forerunners, each generation add- 
ing its mite to the general store of 
knowledge and experience. 

The English portrait men of the 
same period, for instance, although fine 
painters, simply followed in the tracks 
of the old masters. There is nothing es- 
pecially original in the canvases of Rey- 
nolds, Gainsborough, or Romney. But 
this little band of landscapists, with no 
artistic parents, with no predecessors to 
point out the way, suddenly evolved a 
totally new art out of thin air. Their dis- 
coveries, it is true, were confined to the 
realm of color, but their achievements 
in that domain were sufficiently remark- 
able to give England a place which she 
could never otherwise have had among 
the art-producing nations of the world. 



They were the first to see and to record 
the pearly tones of out-door nature, and 
their technical bequest to posterity was 
an extended gamut of grays and mauves 
and lilacs which remain upon the ar- 
tist's palette to the present day. 

A scant half-dozen of their pictures 
drifted over to France, and there be- 
came the inspiration of a new art move- 
ment, which finally resulted in the great 
school of Barbizon. Millet and Troyon, 
Corot and Rousseau incontestably pro- 
duced greater work than Crome and 
Constable, but their pictures were all 
painted on the lines marked out by the 
Englishmen. Indeed, it is questionable 
if we should have ever had a Barbizon 
school had it not been for the iconoclasts 
across the Channel. 

While the great Barbizon school of 
painters was still in its prime, there ap- 
peared upon the artistic horizon another 



band of innovators who have since be- 
come known as the French Impression- 
ists or Luminarists. They were in reality, 
as their name implies, painters of light, 
and their technique was founded upon 
the scientific principle that light is essen- 
tially prismatic. White, being made up 
of the three primary colors red, yel- 
low, and blue should so be painted, 
they declared, the three pure pigments 
lying side by side upon the canvas and 
the same with red, with yellow, and 
with blue; there could be no blue so 
powerful that it would not be qualified 
with touches of red and yellow, no 
yellow so brilliant that the red and the 
blue were not felt in its composition, 
no red so intense that the blue and 
the yellow did not play across it. The 
work of these men really seems to vi- 
brate with light, and the word "vibra- 
tion," first employed by them, has now 



been permanently added to the artists' 
vocabulary. Under the leadership of 
Pissaro, Sisley, and Monet they deliv- 
ered a message which future artists can 
never afford to ignore. 

But, while their discovery is sound in 
principle, no entirely satisfactory tech- 
nical method of applying it to the paint- 
ing of pictures has yet been discovered. 
It is certain that the dots and dashes 
and cross-hatched strokes of pure color 
generally used by theLuminarists do not 
render the effect of nature as seen by 
the ordinary cultivated eye. The veteran 
Monet himself has lived long enough to 
recognize this, and in his more recent 
work he has abandoned his early mili- 
tant method, while retaining the general 
principle of broken color. 

This is one of the unsolved problems 
of art that we moderns have to work 
out. Another is the question of how 



best to convey the impression of motion 
upon the rigidly quiescent surface of a 
canvas. This has never been accom- 
plished, but to assert that it is impos- 
sible would be a hazardous statement. 
Still another problem derives from the 
limitations of the human eye. A good 
photographic lens will see every leaf 
upon a tree or every individual in a 
crowd of ten thousand people. The hu- 
man eye can see at best but a dozen or 
two of leaves or people, the remainder 
producing the effect of a more or less 
indefinite blur. How is this blur to be 
rendered with just sufficient definition 
to produce the desired effect upon the 
spectator ? It is quite certain that other 
problems will arise, problems as unsus- 
pected to-day as was the prismatic 
theory of light a hundred years ago. It 
is impossible of course to particularize. 
One small discovery frequently leads to 



a much greater one, and the only thing 
we can predict with certainty is that the 
unexpected will occur. But we do at 
least know that the door is ajar, that 
the glorious sunlight is out there, just 
beyond, and that nothing can keep us 
longer cooped up in-doors. 



WE are all born color-blind. The most 
perfect eyes in the world cannot see one- 
quarter of the colors which are known 
to exist in nature. Those of us who are 
fortunate, it is true, are able to differ- 
entiate with reasonable exactness the 
three primary colors which go to make 
up our limited human color-scale but 
what about the tones which certainly 
exist above the ultra-violet band and 
below the infra-red ? 

For convenience, the full color-scale of 
nature may be divided into four octaves, 
of which less than one-quarter is taken 
up by the prismatic scale of the rain- 
bow, which includes all the colors visi- 


ble to the human eye. Immediately be- 
low the line of infra-red, at the point 
where the human vision ceases to record 
color-impressions, there begins a series 
of vibrations which we can only feel as 
warmth; and still lower down the scale 
is another series which the human ear 
records in the form of sound. Yet we 
know of a certainty that these vibra- 
tions are also potential color-waves, 
that each note of music carries its own 
special color-note, whose quality and 
beauty, alas! may never be known to 
man, owing to the limited range of his 

However, no one can with certainty 
affirm that this may not be one of 
the joys that await future generations. 
Nothing is beyond the range of possi- 
bility. Already, by means of the fluoro- 
scope, we are able to extend our vision 
somewhat, and peer over a little into 



the realm of the ultra-violet. And, if it 
is held that a wise providence, at the 
beginning of things, limited our sensory 
nerves to the record of such impres- 
sions as were essential to the physical 
existence of the primal creature, thereby 
confining our later aesthetic activities to 
the exploitation of a given range of sen- 
sations, a certain regret is nevertheless 
permissible when one thinks of the be- 
wildering color-feast that might await 
us in a Wagner overture or a Beethoven 
sonata. What a fascinating problem it 
would be, for instance, to work out the 
color probabilities of some great mas- 
terpiece of music, and fling them glow- 
ing upon the translucent page of a vast 
cathedral window. If the time ever 
comes when man is able, by means of 
some miraculous transformer, to gaze 
upon music-color, it is safe to venture 
the prediction that it will be found to 



be harmonious and beautiful in pro- 
portion to the harmony and beauty of 
the music upon which it is based. 

This is guesswork, of course, but it 
rests upon a strong basis of probability. 
Our actual knowledge of the subject is 
at present limited to mathematics. The 
velocity of the impulses has been noted 
and the number of the vibrations has 
been counted. We know those of sound 
to be comparatively slow, there being 
but 4,000 vibrations to the inch in the 
highest treble note of the piano. Above 
this on the ascending scale comes a long 
series of vibrations of which we know 
little or nothing; and it is not until we 
reach 36,000 vibrations to the inch 
that we come again within the range 
of human sensory consciousness. This 
number represents the rate of vibra- 
tions in the red note of our prismatic 
scale. The rate of vibration increases 



throughout the scale until with the 
ultra-violet it reaches 61,000 to the inch. 
Here we step out once more into the 

Yet color has no actual existence. It 
is only by courtesy that we can use the 
word. Nature is a monochrome save 
when there are living eyes to see it. The 
trees are not really green, nor are the 
flowers red and yellow and blue. Each 
object simply reflects rays of light which 
vibrate at a given rate of speed; and 
these rays, smiting upon the sensitive 
retina of the eye, produce the impres- 
sions which we know as color. Were it 
not for the retina there would be no 
color; and when the sensory nerves of 
the retina are partially paralyzed or de- 
ficient, as in the case of the color-blind, 
nature appears to the eye in her true 
monochromatic garb. 

The human eye resembles closely the 



photographic camera, both in structure 
and in its manner of functioning. At the 
front in both is placed the lens, with 
its diaphragm to control the quantity of 
light which enters the recording cham- 
ber, this function being performed in 
the human eye by the elastic iris, which 
contracts and expands automatically as 
the light waxes or wanes. At the back 
of the camera is the sensitized plate, 
and at the back of the eye is the infi- 
nitely more sensitive retina, overlaid by 
the optic nerve, with its millions upon 
millions of minute tentacles, reaching 
out to seize upon every fleeting color 
and form that passes before the lens. 
These little transparent filaments (so 
infinitely minute that the point of the 
finest needle is like a fence-post in com- 
parison) are divided into two distinct 
varieties, known respectively as rods 
and cones. The rods are straight and 



pointed like needles, and the cones are 
somewhat blunt at the extremity. 

We are told that the number of these 
nerve filaments reaches the astonishing 
total of about 137,000,000, of which 
only 7,000,000 are cones; but it is with 
this comparatively insignificant num- 
ber of 7,000,000 cones that we artists 
have particularly to do. It is the func- 
tion of the cones to record color, 
while the needles take care of the 


If each of us had only received the 
7,000,000 cones which are his just due, 
all would be well. Unfortunately, this 
is not the case. Nature abhors a dupli- 
cate, and no two human beings are 
similarly endowed in this respect. To 
the favored few she has given an unfair 
share of the precious cones, and others 
she has deprived of their birthright. 
The fortunate ones are the great color- 



ists of the world, while those bereft 
are the color-blind. 

Now we, as artists, could afford to ig- 
nore all this scientific side of the color 
question, were it not for the fact that it 
makes clear certain things which it is 
well for us to know. In the first place, 
it shows us the futility of any serious 
attempt to cultivate the sense of color. 
We are born with a certain given number 
of color-cones, and with just* that allot- 
ment we must be content to go through 
life, for there is no known way of in- 
creasing their number, or of augment- 
ing their efficiency. This efficiency may 
be decreased, however, either by a sud- 
den shock, by paralysis, or by abuse of 
tobacco. In partial compensation for 
the depression born of the knowledge 
of this ruthless law, is the further knowl- 
edge that the artistic personality of 
a painter must be chiefly credited to 



the working of this same law for our 
sense of color is primarily due to the 
varying number of color-cones with 
which each of us is endowed. It is in 
color, more than in any other artistic 
attribute, that the temperamental qual- 
ity of a painter's product shows itself 
most clearly. 

In more than the strictly scientific 
sense heretofore noted, color is very 
closely allied to music. Both are sen- 
suous and passional, playing directly 
upon the emotions and producing their 
effects by some mysterious appeal to 
the subconscious, whose ways have as 
yet eluded us. Both, in their highest 
expression, come nearer to the perfect 
ideal of beauty as felt and understood 
by humanity than any other form of 
art. Finally, both are stimulating and 
mentally suggestive, while attempting 
no direct intellectual expression; and 



this is the test of the highest form of 
art that it should stimulate the im- 
agination and suggest more than it ex- 
presses. This emotional attribute of 
color is keenly felt even in a work of 
art as devoid of any intellectual appeal, 
as a Turkish rug or a Japanese ceramic; 
but when color is used purposely to 
enhance and offset some poetic mood 
of nature, as in a Venetian sunset by 
Gedney Bunce, or a spring morning by 
Corot, its poignant charm is overpower- 
ing and irresistible. It is hardly neces- 
sary to say, however, that it requires 
the intuitive genius of the master to 
accomplish this result with certainty. 
Those of us who are gifted only with 
the average, normal color-sense, cannot 
hope to rise to similar heights; but we 
can nevertheless learn something from 
the great ones if not how to climb the 
heights, at least how to avoid the pit- 



falls. Where the color-sense is not in- 
fallible, for instance, it is safe to avoid 
the brilliant tones, to deal in a gamut of 
quiet and delicate hues. I have a friend 
who, though color-blind, is a clever and 
successful painter. His pictures sell well, 
and I doubt if one of his patrons has 
ever guessed that he must label the red 
and the green on his palette in order 
to tell them apart. Discovering his 
misfortune only after several years of 
study, he determined to see if by limit- 
ing his palette to the scale of yellows, 
blues, and grays in which his sight was 
normal, adding only a little touch of 
red or green here and there to heighten 
the effect, he might not still produce 
creditable pictures. He was, fortunately, 
a good draughtsman, with a fine sense 
of the picturesque in his arrangement 
of mass and values. For his specialty 
he wisely chose town-scapes and street- 



scenes, thus eliminating altogether the 
dangerous problems of the greens ; and 
his success (for he has taken many 
medals and received many honors) shows 
at least how much may be accomplished 
by pure intelligence in the avoidance of 
insurmountable obstacles and difficul- 

Another useful point that we may 
learn is the emotional effect of the dif- 
ferent colors. The warm colors, the 
yellow, red, and orange, are always ex- 
citing, stimulating, sometimes irritating, 
and in the end fatiguing. Red, as is well 
known, always enrages a bull; and in a 
lesser degree it affects other animals 
and birds in the same way. A red skirt 
floating in the wind is the best protec- 
tion to the poultry-yard, for the chicken- 
hawk will never approach it. With man 
the stimulating effect of this color ap- 
pears to be pleasantly exciting rather 



than disagreeable when taken in mod- 
eration; but did a wrathful deity desire 
to punish mankind with a specially 
hideous form of torture, I could im- 
agine nothing more dreadful than that 
he should change all the green in the 
world into screaming scarlet. Imagine 
a bright vermilion world under a 
brilliant sun, and tell me how long 
it would be before all the inhabitants 
would be raving maniacs. 
The cool colors blue, green, mauve, 
violet, and all the delicate intervening 
grays are, on the contrary, restful 
colors in the emotional sense; and the 
wisdom of the choice of these tones for 
the landscape scheme of the world is 
hardly open to question. Moreover, it 
is well known to all expert household 
decorators that these tones are always 
the most satisfactory for the walls and 
all large spaces in interior decoration; 



and that the powerful notes of red, yel- 
low, and orange should come in only 
as a spot here and there to enliven the 
effect. If we carry the same idea into 
the domain of purely pictorial art, we 
shall see how the restful beauty of a 
gray-green landscape by Corot is en- 
hanced by the tiny red bonnet of his 
peasant woman. 

While it is, alas ! only too true that any 
personal and individual progress in the 
domain of color is debarred by physical 
law, it is nevertheless a fact that in the 
broad and world-wide sense, most of 
the progress made in art in the past two 
centuries has been made in the domain 
of color. For one thing, we have in the 
meantime moved out of doors. From the 
quiet, subdued, and restful light of the 
studio, we have stepped out into the 
gay and palpitating sunlight; and in so 
doing we have had to meet and conquer 



many new and fascinating problems, 
problems whose fundamental color- 
scheme is the reverse of the one which 
had for a thousand years engrossed the 
attention of the older artists. In the quiet 
north light of the studio, illumined only 
by the sky, the lights were cool and the 
shadows warm; in the open air, on 
the contrary, the lights are warm and 
the shadows cool, for out here in the 
open the gay yellow sunlight is the source 
of illumination, while the shadows catch 
only the cool reflections of the sky. At 
the present time it is hard to conceive 
how difficult it was for the first land- 
scape painters to make this simple 
change in their point of view, how te- 
nacious the old tradition of the studio 
proved to be, and how very slowly it was 
abandoned to make room for the simple 
truths of out-of-door nature. Even after 
the new law had been fully recognized 



and accepted, the methods of the older 
masters were adhered to. So great and 
true a colorist as Corot, even, con- 
tinued to "rub in" his shadows in the 
warm browns of the sixteenth century 
painters. Of course, this "rub in" was 
later painted over with the violet and 
pearl-gray tones of out-door nature, 
but the brown underlay has begun to 
"strike through" in many of his pict- 
ures, and it may in the end seriously 
impair some of them. It was not un- 
til the "luminarists" came along with 
their gay and militant iconoclasm that 
the old tradition was wholly cast aside, 
and the pearly stream of out-door color 
at last flowed pure and free and un- 
defiled. And if it happens (as it very 
well may) that we shall also cast aside 
the luminarists' patchwork system of 
prismatic spots and splashes, we shall 
nevertheless be eternally their debtors 



in that they freed us from the fetters 
that bound us to the old system of 
in-door painting, and gave us a fresh 
palette of pearl and opal and lapis- 
lazuli, in place of the old snuff-colored 
affair of our fathers. Thanks to them, 
it is not possible for the worst of our 
modern landscapists to use such dis- 
tressing color as is to be found in the 
best of the Hobbemas and Cuyps and 
Ruysdaels of the sixteenth century. 
What developments in the direction of 
color the future may hold in store for 
us, it is of course difficult to say. One 
thing, however, is sure; the mathe- 
matics which govern the laws of color 
will be worked out and tabulated, as 
have those relating to music; so that it 
will be possible and easy for any one, 
either expert or layman, to produce a 
harmony in color by the simple appli- 
cation of the prescribed formula. But 



beyond this the mathematicians' contri- 
butions to art will have little value. 
Its direct benefits will be found to be 
negative rather than positive. While it 
may prevent the perpetration of jarring 
discords, it will hardly make possible 
the creation of masterpieces; for here 
again the personal equation comes into 
play. Lacking the note of personality, 
no real art is possible. A musician of 
my acquaintance, having discovered 
that when the law of mathematics 
was applied to a sonata by Beetho- 
ven, the theme worked out faultlessly 
to a seemingly inevitable conclusion, 
decided that the process could be 
reversed, and that a given theme, if 
correctly figured out, would undoubt- 
edly produce a musical number of 
faultless beauty. He put his theory into 
practice and made a sonata accord- 
ing to this system. His production was 



impeccable and absolutely worthless. 
When will the world learn that art can- 
not be manufactured ? 




THE most splendid achievement of the 
nineteenth century in painting, and its 
best legacy to the future, was the discov- 
ery of the technical means by which the 
scintillating effect of living light could 
be transferred to the dead and rigid 
surface of a canvas. Of this the old 
masters had absolutely no conception. 
The discovery belongs to our genera- 
tion, and is a distinction of which any 
age might well be proud for it is the 
only important step in advance made 
since the great Renaissance of the fif- 
teenth century. Without it landscape 
art had hardly been possible land- 
scape art, that is, in the modern sense 



in which we know it. There were indeed 
many landscape painters among the 
older masters Ruysdael and Cuyp, 
Hobbema, Salvator Rosa, Claude, and 
even Rembrandt on occasion. But, owing 
to a curious psychological phenomenon, 
none of these men were able to see 
straight out of their eyes once they were 
in the open air. They painted land- 
scape, but landscape in which the fields 
and the hills and the trees bore no rela- 
tion to the skies that overhung them, 
in which the shadows were warmer in 
color than the lights, in which browns 
took the place of violets, and in which 
(owing to ignorance of the laws of 
vibration) the surface of the canvas 
nevei entirely disappeared from view. 
As I have previously stated, the dawn 
of the new movement was seen in Eng- 
land, when Constable and his confreres 
carried their easels into the open, and 



brought back studies wherein the pearly 
tones of out-of-door nature were for the 
first time accurately seen and noted. 

A few of these pictures finding their 
way to France, were eagerly studied by 
a group of young Frenchmen, who, 
tired of the hide-bound conventions of 
David and Delaroche, were quick to 
recognize and absorb the new light. 
Armed with this fresh knowledge, these 
men in their turn went out into the 
fields, and looked and studied and 
painted; and thus grew up the great 
school of Barbizon. 

A little later the artistic world was 
startled by the appearance of the 
French impressionists or luminarists. 
According to them, nature had spread 
her palette upon the heavens in the 
form of the rainbow, where all who 
looked might see and understand it. 
And everywhere and always, on hill 



and dale, on rock and tree, so long as 
light endured there must also be the 
rainbow attenuated and diminished 
in power, it is true, but with its three 
primary and prismatic colors, locking 
and interlocking, shifting and shim- 
mering and playing across one another 
in an iridescent dance of color that 
was, or should be, always clearly visi- 
ble to the eye of the trained artist. 
And as they saw nature so these men 
painted their pictures, laying the pure 
pigments side by side upon the canvas 
in strokes and dots or dashes of red 
and yellow and blue which, seen at the 
proper distance, were supposed to fuse 
into the desired tones and masses, while 
at the same time retaining a luminous 
quality of their own never before seen 
upon canvas. 

I can remember the first exhibition 
which these men gave in Paris in the 




. (5 





little rotunda behind the Palais de 
Tlndustrie; and the bewilderment and 
scorn with which it was received by the 
critics and the older painters. I can re- 
member also the heroic struggle which 
they made against apparently hopeless 
odds; and we all know how they finally 
won the long fight, proving their point 
so conclusively that no one to-day 
thinks of questioning it. 

But while all painters now admit that 
the prismatic theory of light as applied 
to the art of painting is both scientifi- 
cally correct and artistically admirable 
that it is practically impossible to 
secure luminosity in a picture without 
some sacrifice to the principle, it is 
nevertheless open to question if the 
crude and primitive method invented 
by the French Impressionists is neces- 
sarily the last word on the technical 
side of the matter. We must have 



"vibration" in a picture, it is true, be- 
cause without vibration there can be 
no light, but may it not be possible to 
secure the necessary vibration without 
loss of "quality," that charm of surface 
with which we would not willingly part ? 
There are many, many paths by which 
the problem may be approached. In- 
deed, one of the chief delights of the art 
of painting lies in the fact that each 
artist does, and of necessity must, in- 
vent his own technique ; for his personal 
technique is an inalienable part of the 
personal vision which makes his art his 
own. Nevertheless there are in a broad 
sense only four general methods of 
painting with oil colors, from which 
(used either in their direct and simple 
expression or infinitely varied and com- 
pounded) all of our personal technical 
methods must be drawn. First we may 
mention the method used by so many of 



the old masters, which consisted in a 
solid underpainting in black and white 
with a slight admixture of red. In this 
method the whole scheme of the picture 
was built up with these three pigments, 
and all of the drawing and modelling 
was accomplished without any attempt 
at color. Then, after a very thorough 
drying, the work was completed and 
the color obtained by a series of very 
thin glazes drawn over the dried and 
hardened surface. This method, al- 
though wonderfully sound in itself and 
lasting in its results, must of course be 
discarded by the modern painter for 
the reason that it precludes all possi- 
bility of vibration. 

Of the three remaining systems one 

other is entirely bad for the same reason 

it does away with vibration. This 

system consists in mixing the tones 

evenly and applying them to the canvas 



in smooth flat masses in much the same 
manner as a house painter paints his 
door or cornice. There remain then 
practically but two systems from which 
the modern painter is at liberty to 
choose. The first of these is the spot and 
dash method used by the Impressionists 
and their school. It must be clear to 
any one that this system, while giving 
beautiful results in the way of luminos- 
ity, does not logically follow the forms 
of nature, or reproduce her surfaces, 
and it must therefore be regarded as 
an imperfect and a temporary manner 
which is destined to be superseded in 
time by some more supple and expres- 
sive technique. 

The last of the four systems men- 
tioned and one which has gradually 
come to be adopted by the vast majority 
of our best landscape painters is one in 
which vibration is obtained by means 



of a cool overtone painted freshly into 
a warm undertone, care being taken 
not to mix or blend the two coats and 
not to cover up completely the under- 
tone, rather letting it show through 
brokenly all over the canvas; the vibra- 
tion being secured, naturally, by the 
separate play of the warm and the cold 
notes. Neither alone would accomplish 
this purpose, nor would the neutral 
gray that would result from a too thor- 
ough mixing of the tones in the final 

This method has first of all the great 
advantage of being thoroughly logical; 
for in nature herself the undertones 
are represented by the local color of the 
various units leaves, grass, rocks, and 
good rich earth; and these are always 
warmer and more vivid in color than 
the lights dropped upon their surfaces 
by the over-arching sky. But the method 



has the still greater advantage of being 
wonderfully supple and responsive 
lending itself not only to the infinite 
variations of technique demanded by 
differing temperament in the artist, but 
allowing endless latitude for any and 
all desired changes in composition or 
mass after the picture is placed on the 
canvas; for all of these changes can be 
made in the undertone itself before 
the overtone is applied, and therefore 
before any attempt to secure vibration 
has been made. Indeed the whole pic- 
ture in all its exact values can and 
should be built up in this preliminary 
covering of the canvas, for the value 
of the overtone must in every case ex- 
actly match the value of the undertone. 
While we wish to secure broken color, 
we must avoid broken values, for they ut- 
terly destroy atmosphere. Any one who 
wishes to prove this to his own satisf ac- 



tion can readily do so by making the 
following experiment. Paint a sunny 
sky in two simple tones, using, say, 
delicate gray pink for the underlay and 
blue green or green blue for the overlay, 
varying the color from the horizon up 
as it occurs in nature. In the first ex- 
periment mix the overlay with extreme 
care until its value exactly matches that 
of the underlay. Then mix another lot 
to the green blue either slightly darker 
or slightly lighter than the underlay. 
Apply these tones each to one-half of 
the prepared sky, and you will find 
that the sky painted with the perfectly 
matched tone will fly away infinitely, 
will be bathed in a perfect atmosphere, 
while the other half of the canvas will 
remain merely paint and canvas, and 
will have no atmospheric quality what- 
ever. The explanation of this is very 
simple nature deals in broken color 



everywhere, but she never deals in 
broken values. The color dances, but 
the values "stay put." 
As to the general tint of color of the 
undertone no rule can be given, for it 
can never in any two pictures be alike. 
It will vary infinitely, according to the 
effect to be painted, and also according 
to the temperament of the artist. There 
would seem to be only two rules that 
cannot be broken: first the undertone 
must be warmer than the overtone, and 
second it must never be brown ; and this 
for the excellent reason that out-of-door 
nature abhors brown, and never uses it. 
Even the house-painter's most venom- 
ous effort in this direction is generally 
met by kindly and all-forgiving mother 
nature with some gray reflection from 
the sky to mitigate its worst virulence. 
The one weak spot in the technical 
armor of the Barbizon painters was 



their tenacity in clinging to the tradi- 
tional recipe of the brown rub-in. And 
although this was allowed to dry thor- 
oughly and was then completely painted 
over with pearly tones that were true to 
nature, the browns are now beginning 
to strike through to the surface to the 
serious detriment of some of the finest 
pictures on earth. 

Now when the fullest acknowledg- 
ment has been made of our stupendous 
indebtedness to the discoverers of pris- 
matic painting, it will be wise for us to 
recognize the limitations of the system; 
to admit that there are very many effects 
in which it must be used with extreme 
caution, and others in which it had best 
not be employed at all. If we frankly 
envisage the fact that its chief function 
is to endow our dead pigments with life, 
with the power to convey in a picture 
the joyous impression of dancing light, 



we shall understand where these limita- 
tions begin. As the system gives its best 
results in the translation of brilliant 
sunlight, so, as the light decreases its 
value decreases, until in a low-toned 
moonlight it may become positively 
detrimental. It can easily be seen that 
in this subdued light the sibilant vibra- 
tion of powerful color-tones would be 
fatally out of place and their use detract 
seriously from the brooding sense of 
mystery which gives to night its most 
poignant charm. 

We must not forget, moreover, that 
another weakness inherent to the sys- 
tem lies in the physical impossibility of 
securing with pigments and brushes any 
approximation to the infinitely fine 
and delicate color vibration of nature 
where no spot or dash or stroke of pure 
color is anywhere visible; and that our 
best efforts in this direction are there- 



fore only a compromise that owing to 
this compromise our best technique of 
vibration remains at the present time 
more or less obtrusive, and that any 
technique which obtrudes itself is to 
that extent bad technique; for tech- 
nique, as Millet so truly said, "should 
always hide itself modestly behind the 
thing to be expressed." 

Finally let us frankly admit the fact 
that vibration has little to do with at- 
mosphere in a picture (in spite of much 
wordy argument to the contrary). A 
Whistler nocturne, for instance, which 
is painted without the slightest vibra- 
tion, or any attempt at broken color, 
may swoon in the most exquisite bath 
of atmosphere, while a vibrant Monet, 
with a few hard edges, may lack all 
atmospheric quality. 

Atmosphere in a painting is only se- 
cured by the use (conscious or un- 



conscious) of the laws of "refraction," 
a much more subtle and elusive visual 
phenomenon of which I will say a word 
in the following chapter. 



\VHAT is refraction refraction as ap- 
plied to art ? When I first had to speak 
to my own students of this most elusive 
but most important quality, I found 
myself curiously handicapped by the 
fact that there was no word in the Eng- 
lish language to describe it. A careful 
search of the dictionaries revealed noth- 
ing that met the need. The French 
word envelope and our own "lost-edge" 
were descriptive of the result only and 
not of the cause. Neither radiation, nor 
reaction, nor reflection, nor ambience 
fully defined the thing which it was de- 
sired to describe. 



Piracy seemed the only way out of 
the dilemma; so I boldly seized upon 
the word refraction and forced it willy- 
nilly to assume the new role. And 
while it was necessary -to twist it far 
from its original meaning I have faith 
that with growing years it will come 
to carry gracefully the full burden of 

For the purposes of this paper there- 
fore the reader will kindly assume re- 
fraction to stand for that intimate effect 
of one mass of color or value upon its 
adjoining mass which results in the 
"lost-edge," and a general diffusion of 
tone, thus giving to pictures their atmos- 
pheric quality. 

Now refraction is only in a very lim- 
ited sense an objective fact. It is mainly 
a visual fact whose operation is due to 
the imperfect construction of the lens 
of the human eye. The scientific fact is 



that the edges of things are sharp and 
hard as a rule. This is amply proved 
by the photographic lens, which gives 
us a clear-cut definition all over the 
plate which the human eye could never 
hope to compass in looking at nature 
through its own imperfect instrument. 
And if the camera were still more per- 
fect, if there were no question of focus, 
it would probably give us an edge 
everywhere as sharp as the traditional 
Toledo blade. 

But this scientific fact would still re- 
main an artistic lie. Fortunately, we 
painters have to do only with impres- 
sions and not with realities. For these 
impressions we must rely solely upon 
the lenses which God has given us; and 
as a painter I congratulate myself daily 
that the lens of the human eye was de- 
signed not at all after the pattern of 
the lenses adapted to the camera, the 



microscope, and the various other scien- 
tific instruments. As we are now pro- 
vided, nature is infinitely beautiful to 
us ; while it might have been a hideous 
nightmare of sharp and cutting angles 
or edges, without rest or relief any- 

It is not necessary for our purposes to 
enter here into the physiological struc- 
ture of the human eye. It will be enough 
to state that its radius of exact vision 
is extremely limited; so limited in fact 
that at a distance of six feet from the 
eye it would hardly be possible for any 
human being to enumerate accurately 
the spots on a target four feet in diam- 
eter, while holding the gaze rigidly 
fixed on the bull's-eye. Beyond the ra- 
dius of twelve inches from the centre 
the image begins to blur, and this blur 
increases rapidly, until out of the tail of 
the eye on either side we get only an in- 



definite consciousness of things rather 
than any genuine vision of things them- 

It is curious when you come to think 
of it, how many untold centuries it has 
taken mankind to recognize this sim- 
ple visual phenomenon, which every one 
of the race must have been experienc- 
ing ten thousand times a day for ten 
million years; and how few there are 
even to-day who are fully cognizant 
of it. 

A gentleman of marked intelligence 
and culture once berated me for what 
he termed the artist's impudence in giv- 
ing to the public a smudge of green- 
ish brown or of gray up against the sky 
and asking them to accept it as a tree. 
"Why," he said, "I can see every leaf 
on that oak tree in the meadow yonder. 
And so can any one whose eyesight is 



My reply to this was to pin a card to 
one of the oak's lower branches and ask 
my friend, standing at ten paces, to tell 
me how many of the leaves he could 
count without shifting his gaze from 
the white card. 

"Well, by Jove!" he presently ex- 
claimed, "I can't count up to fifty." 

"What do the rest of the leaves look 
like," I asked, "a more or less indefi- 
nite blur?" 

"Yes! Just a blur." 

"Well," I said, "now you understand 
just a little of the meaning of the word 

But the new knowledge did not seem 
to console him. He continued to regret 
the loss of all those leaves. I could not 
convince him that it would have been 
a disaster had he been obliged to see 
each individual leaf of all the millions 
which the tree doubtless carried, and in 



addition to this, to be conscious of all 
the twigs and blades of grass and other 
infinite details around about. 

Now any interesting picture motive 
generally has a focus, or centre of inter- 
est on which the artist's eye rests with 
especial pleasure; and in view of the 
visual limitation just described it is evi- 
dent that this portion will appear much 
more definite in outline than the out- 
lying regions of the composition; which 
will become more and more blurred, as 
they recede, with the softened or lost 
edge everywhere. This is refraction; 
and as the eye sees it, so, without ques- 
tion, the hand should paint it. 

But there are other motives certain 
of Whistler's nocturnes, for instance 
wherein the eye broods dreamily over 
the whole scene, not resting fixed upon 
any one given point of interest; and 
these should be painted precisely as 



Whistler painted them, the refraction 
distributed evenly all over the canvas. 
Whistler, in fact, was past master of the 
art of refraction, its one great and su- 
preme prophet; and it is to the con- 
summate and most artistic use which 
he made of this one quality that his 
work owes all of that emotional, ap- 
pealing, and poetic charm which is its 
distinguishing trait. 

Of course every artist of any training 
at the present day is more or less aware 
of this phenomenon, otherwise his pict- 
ures would not find acceptance at the 
hands of the juries, for they would be 
hopelessly hard and edgy and unatmos- 
pheric. No one, for instance, would to- 
day think of painting the spots of sky 
showing through the interstices of a large 
tree with the tint he had mixed for the 
sky out in the open on the other side of 
the picture. If he did so paint these 



spots, they would shine out like elec- 
tric lights and he would instinctively 
lower their value at once. Here the law 
of refraction has come into force again, 
and the visual no longer accords with 
the actual. The sky behind the tree of 
course is in reality just as light as the 
rest of the sky, but the refraction from 
the surrounding dark mass of foliage 
has robbed the spots of much of their 
power of light and has softened them in 
every way. 

But while all good painters to-day are 
aware of refraction, and (whether con- 
sciously or unconsciously) use it in their 
work, very few, I think, have any con- 
ception of the far-reaching effect and 
control of the law. I am myself abso- 
lutely convinced that the refraction ema- 
nating, we will say, from a large dark 
tree standing up against a sunset sky will 
affect the sky and gradually lower its 



value out to its very centre; and that, 
per contra, the darkest spot in the tree 
itself will be found to be near its focal 
point, owing to the inward refraction 
from the sky for naturally refraction 
acts both ways, from light to dark as 
well as from dark to light. Whether it 
is necessary or advisable in practical 
painting to utilize the law up to the 
extreme limit, is of course a point that 
is open to discussion. As painters our 
business is to transmit to picture-lovers 
through the medium of our pictures the 
emotions, and the impressions of strength 
and power, or of poetic beauty which 
have come to us direct from nature ; but 
in doing this we are not called upon to 
saddle ourselves with more difficulties 
than are absolutely necessary. Indeed 
it is by means of the wise selection and 
synthesis of the elements which are es- 
sential to his work and the ruthless elim- 



ination of all such as are unessential 
that the consummate artist shows his 
calibre. Nevertheless I can recall certain 
canvases by Corot, poetic masterpieces 
of the first order, in which the very 
fullest use of this law was made. It 
can do no harm at least for any painter 
to keep the law always in mind, to be 
used whenever its use will add an ele- 
ment of beauty or of distinction to his 

In addition to the above defined the- 
ory, a long and close study of the law of 
refraction has left on my mind the strong 
conviction that the out- worn and rather 
cheap practice of vignetting was not 
without a certain sound basis of justi- 
fication in the underlying laws of na- 
ture. If you will bear in mind the fact 
that the colors and values that are seen 
out of the corners of the eyes, are, on 
account of their very situation, able to 



affect only a very limited number of the 
sensitive nerves of the retina, you will 
understand that the force of their im- 
pact must be proportionately less than 
those which come to the eye from the 
full centre of vision ; and if you are will- 
ing to try the experiment of looking for 
five minutes at a given scene in nature, 
keeping the gaze fixed during all that 
time on some focal point a church 
steeple, for instance but throwing the 
mind's eye constantly back and forth 
from outside margin to centre and from 
centre to outside margin again, it will 
gradually dawn upon you that there 
is an actual and very marked visual 
difference in the color and value in- 
tensity of the two radii. I am sure, 
therefore, that the eighteenth-century 
artists who made use of this law in 
their work were fundamentally correct 
in their intuitions; but the excess to 



which they carried it landed them in 
the quagmire of the commonplace and 
vulgar. Nevertheless, I am certain that 
no picture in its extreme corners should 
be painted with quite the same vigor of 
technique or strength of color or of value 
as in its natural focal centre. Indeed, 
a careful study of certain masterpieces 
shows that wonderful results have occa- 
sionally been obtained by the reserved 
and masterly use of this principle. 
In the "Shepherdess," by Millet, for in- 
stance, the sense of immensity and of 
limitless space which marks and dis- 
tinguishes that great canvas is derived 
largely from the extremely subtle use to 
which he put his knowledge of this ob- 
scure phenomenon. 

So far I have spoken of refraction only 
in its relation to values. But there is 
also color refraction ; and here its action 
is much more in harmony with the scien- 



tific laws of color, for its first and im- 
mediate effect is to call up the com- 
plementary. I sat one day out in the 
blazing sunlight on the white painted 
deck of a river steamer holding in my 
hand a crimson ticket, in the centre of 
which a square hole had been perfo- 
rated. After glancing through this hole 
for an instant I handed the ticket to my 
companion and asked her to say what 
color the deck appeared to be as seen 
through the square opening. "Why! 
it is brilliant green," she replied, at 
the same time putting the ticket aside 
to see if in reality the deck had 
been painted green in that particular 

This, of course, was an extreme case; 
the very powerful scarlet, under the 
compelling stress of the intense sun- 
light, had simply conjured up its com- 
plementary in an exceptionally bril- 



liant and dramatic demonstration. But 
in greater or less degree, the law is al- 
ways at work. Any painter who has 
posed his sitter against a red back- 
ground, for instance, must have noted 
how the red ground brought out the 
green tones in the flesh. And has it ever 
occurred to you why never a portrait 
was painted against a bright blue back- 
ground. Simply because there has never 
been found a human being modest 
enough to stand for the jaundiced pre- 
sentment of himself that would be the 
natural result yellow being the com- 
plementary of blue. 

It results from this that no color has 
any definite and fixed existence of its 
own once it is out of the tube. It is 
changed and varied infinitely as its sur- 
roundings change and vary. Even when 
it is fixed definitely under the varnish 
of some masterpiece, it remains subject 



to the same old law, and, to a certain 
extent, can be made attractive and 
lovely, or forbidding and ugly accord- 
ing to the background against which 
the picture is hung. 

Of course in the scale of subdued col- 
ors color-refraction works feebly, and it 
is therefore of minor importance to the 
landscape painter, though, as I have al- 
ready noted, Corot knew how to make 
good use of the little crimson cap on 
his peasant women; for the tiny spot 
of red doubled the beauty of his deli- 
cate greens. But the figure painter oc- 
casionally finds a knowledge of this 
law of great value; as, for instance, 
when he wishes to play upon the emo- 
tions by the simple use of pure color. 
Splendid effects have been produced 
in this way by Monticelli, by Frank 
Brangwyn, and more recently by the 
Spaniard Sorolla. 



It is fortunate, perhaps, that the limits 
of space here draw a line, for the things 
that might be said about refraction are 
endless. I will, however, add one parting 
word in regard to its technical side. 
How may we best secure the lost-edge 
and the other qualities deriving from 
refraction while maintaining crisp draw- 
ing and a free and agreeable brush- 
work. In this we can hardly do better 
than study and follow the two great 
masters of the art, Corot and Whistler. 
Prepare for the refraction, as they did, 
by lowering values as you approach 
the edge, so that the final stroke which 
draws your limb or your tree may be 
as fresh and as crisp as possible without 
being hard; and if you are painting in 
broken color that is, using prismatic 
vibration to secure luminosity then do 
all this preparatory work fully and 
carefully in the undertone, so that the 



final painting may be accomplished 
with that dash and freedom which, say 
what you may, will always remain an 
admirable quality in a picture. 



OF late years the English term "values" 
has entirely replaced the Italian "chiar- 
oscuro" by which painters were long wont 
to describe the light and shade of a 
picture as apart from its color. The 
change is certainly a good one. 

Values are a pure convention, because 
they are built upon the assumption that 
nature is monochromatic. They are 
however, a most important convention 
one that is practically indispensable 
to a painter for it is upon sound values 
that pictures depend for their solidity 
and their convincing power. Good 
painting, after all, is a matter of analy- 
sis and synthesis; and we painters are 



so used to picking nature to pieces, 
studying her in detail, considering the 
undertones by themselves, for instance, 
while we hold the overtones in abey- 
ance, that we find no difficulty in sepa- 
rating the chiaroscuro from the color, 
and temporarily assuming a color- 
blindness if we have it not. 

But values are a convention in still 
another sense. Our ability to counter- 
feit nature in a picture depends upon a 
palette made up of a certain number of 
dead pigments, whose scale of light and 
shade is ludicrously inadequate when 
compared with that of nature. Limited 
thus on the material side, the best we 
can do is to translate the infinite value- 
scale of nature into our sadly finite scale 
of pigments, and endeavor, by most 
careful balance, to adjust our means to 
our ends. This would be practically 
impossible were it not for the kindly 



help we receive from the human imagi- 
nation> which is ever ready to accept a 
mere hint and build upon it a whole 
world; to fill in all discrepancies; and, 
given a few scratches of pen or pencil, 
to construct therefrom a complete 
representation of nature. How pecul- 
iarly human is this mental attitude is 
proved by the fact that no animal is 
ever known to recognize the most real- 
istic painting as anything more than 
simple paint and canvas. 

Contenting ourselves, however, with 
our own small value-scale, as we needs 
must, and assuming it to be adequate, 
the most important thing to consider is 
the value-key of our picture. Assuming 
the whole scale of values from the deep- 
est black to the purest white to be repre- 
sented by the number 100, the question 
arises as to what proportion of this 
number we shall use in the particular 



work which we are proposing to exe- 
cute. In this matter the golden rule is 
reserve. We lose rather than gain in 
power by forcing the note, and a picture 
in which the whole scale from black 
to white should be employed would 
be absolutely without atmosphere, and 
without charm. It would indeed be a 
crudity and a horror, from which we 
would flee with hands on high. The 
whole beauty of a canvas depends often 
on the wisdom with which we make this 
choice of key whether our picture is 
pitched in the upper, the middle, or the 
lower register, and whether we use a 
limited or an extended scale. 

It is evident, of course, that we could 
attentuate our scale to the vanishing 
point, so that a breath would almost 
blow the picture from the canvas; just 
as by going to the other extreme we 
should fatally brutalize the work. 



But within the limits of, say, the num- 
ber ten and the number ninety of the 
scale, there exist a dozen or more keys 
of value, any one of which we are at lib- 
erty to select. It is equally evident that 
a picture painted in any one of these 
keys would be true to nature, if the 
relative values within the scale were 
carefully noted and adhered to. But in 
every case there would be one of those 
keys which would have suited the mood 
of that particular picture better than 
any other, and it is in the intuitive se- 
lection of just the right key that the 
true artist most frequently shows his 
power. As a rule, it may be said that the 
upper middle range will be found best 
to suit the great majority of pictures, 
but there are motives whose brilliancy 
calls out for the highest attainable key 
of light, and others whose brooding 
mystery must hide itself in the shadowy 



gloom of the lower register. Of equal 
importance with this question of alti- 
tude in the register is that of the numer- 
ical scale whether to use ten, twenty, 
fifty, or seventy of the possible 100 
points in the full scale. This will depend 
largely upon the effect to be produced, 
whether the message we have to convey 
is one of dramatic power, of brilliancy, 
or of tender and poetic charm. It will 
depend also considerably upon the 
character of the work and its ultimate 
destination. In a mural decoration, for 
instance, the demand for a restricted 
scale of values is absolutely mandatory, 
because the first consideration in a work 
of this character is that the observer 
must always remain conscious (or sub- 
consciously conscious) of the flat sur- 
face of the wall. If this plane were de- 
stroyed, the architectural unity would 
suffer the sense of the supporting 



power and strength of the wall being 
gone. In an easel picture it is just the 
contrary; there we desire to annihilate 
the flat surface of the canvas, to pro- 
duce the illusion of atmosphere and to 
convey the impression that it would be 
possible to step over the border of the 
frame and out into the fields beyond. 
In this case therefore the scale of values 
must be generous enough to convey the 
impression of solidity and reality, while 
being held sufficiently in hand to obvi- 
ate the danger of crudity. 

As this whole question of values is a 
matter of translation, and of delicate ad- 
justment inside of fixed conventional 
limits, there is practically no effect in 
nature that cannot at least be suggested 
by a wise and skilful use of pigments. 
Take, for instance, the familiar effect 
where the sun, high in the heavens, is 
reflected in a brilliant pathway of scin- 



tillating light across the surface of the 
sea. In this case it is evident that the 
actual color-scale of nature is a thousand 
times more powerful than that of the 
artist's palette; yet by a careful selec- 
tion of the register, and a wise adjust- 
ment of the scale, it is quite possible 
not only to render the illusion of this 
radiant scene, but to do this without ex- 
hausting our limited value-scale. In fact, 
in this, and in all similar effects in which 
radiation of light is the principal motive 
of the picture, it is of the utmost import- 
ance to keep well within the limits of 
the scale, in order that even the deepest 
shadows shall remain luminous and 
palpitant. Nature never exhausts her 
value-scale. Even in the most violent 
effects, she always holds plenty in re- 
serve. And, so far as is possible with 
our limited scale, we should do the 



This, of course, does not mean that we 
should paint a gray-day landscape in a 
key so low that we could give its full 
force to a burst of sunlight that might 
suddenly strike across the scene. (If the 
sunlight is to be included, it should have 
been conceived as part of the picture in 
the beginning, and so arranged for.) 
But it does mean that we should always 
be able to go a little higher on the high 
note or a little lower on the low note if 
it is desirable to do so. 

Having decided upon the scale and 
the register, the next most important 
thing is so to visualize our subject that 
we shall be able to group our values in 
large and simple masses. See big ! Grab 
the essential, and leave the little things 
for any foolish person who chooses to 
gather them up. To tell the truth, detail 
is so blatant, so insistent, that it takes 
years of hard training to see beyond it, 



to appreciate the essential bigness of 
things. This is particularly true of out- 
door nature. The sun is a great leveller. 
It flattens all masses, the lights as well 
as the shadows. An out-door picture- 
motive is complicated indeed if it can- 
not be divided into four or five domi- 
nant values. If these are understood, 
and painted with sympathetic truth, it is 
astonishing how little detail it requires 
to complete the picture the trunk of a 
tree, a few scattered leaves, the curve of 
a road, and the trick is turned. Always 
leave something to the imagination of 
the beholder. A picture is often com- 
plete long before you suspect it. 

There is probably no better way of 
training the eye to simplicity of vision, 
than studying moonlight, for in 
moonlight effects, the broad masses 
alone are visible, and the shadows lie 
all over the picture in one big soft value, 







The lights are distributed in two or 
three values at most, and nowhere is 
there any detail. Try to see your day- 
light effects in the same way, and you 
will come far nearer the truth than you 
might think. 

Personally, I am inclined to hold values 
to be the most important quality in a 
picture and this in spite of the fact 
that the work must depend for its charm 
upon the other qualities of color, de- 
sign, and refraction. But a picture that 
is good in all these respects being weak 
and unsound in values, will neverthe- 
less be a poor picture. Values might be 
compared to the skeleton in a human 
figure, which depends for its beauty upon 
the exquisite curves of the rounded limbs, 
the silken sheen of the hair, and the color 
of eyes and lips and blushing cheeks. 
Remove the skeleton, and the whole 
fabric of beauty falls to earth a shape- 



less mass. Moreover, values are one of 
the few things in art that can be learned 
by almost any one who is gifted with or- 
dinary eyesight; and for that particular 
reason they should engage the earnest 
attention of every serious student. One 
who has thoroughly mastered them 
has gone a long way on the road to 
success in painting. 

Of course, all that has here been said 
refers only to the art of the past and of 
the present, for it is by no means cer- 
tain that the intellectual and spiritual 
conditions which now bind us will en- 
dure forever. When I try to draw aside 
the veil, and peer into the mists of the 
future, I seem to see another art, less 
material, more akin to the pure spirit of 
music; an art stripped of all that is 
gross and material; an art in which 
abstract beauty alone shall rule. In this 
new art values may very possibly be 



unnecessary, and all will be stated in 
terms of beautiful color. 
This is not yet however; and any art 
which is to endure must be true to the 
spirit of its own age. 




DRAWING is the grammar of art. As 
grammar is the framework on which 
all good literature is built, so drawing 
is the foundation of all good painting. 
It is no more possible to imagine a 
great picture with crude and incom- 
petent drawing than it is to think of a 
great sonnet whose grammar should be 
uncouth and halting. Like grammar, 
also, drawing is not a virtue to be ex- 
tolled in a picture, but an essential to 
be demanded. 

Fortunately, both grammar and draw- 
ing may be learned by any one of good 
average intelligence. In reference to 
drawing, however, this statement ap- 



plies only to that kind of good, sound, 
commonplace drawing which serves to 
uphold a picture in which color and 
sentiment are the main things; but not, 
of course, to the truly great drawing 
which is beautiful in and by itself, and 
which is one of the rarest qualities in 
all art so rare indeed that the great 
draughtsmen of the world can be 
counted upon the fingers of one hand. 
Of these probably Holbein and Leo- 
nardo were the most eminent examples. 
In the work of these two men the sense 
of refined and tender line was so ex- 
quisite that we should almost prefer to 
have it without color; and indeed when 
color was used to secure the added 
beauty of modelling, as in the "Mona 
Lisa," it was always flat and conven- 
tional. It would be impossible, for in- 
stance, to imagine a Holbein painted 
in the impressionist manner of the 



present day. The grace of line which 
is this master's chief distinction would 
be destroyed by the modern method of 
applying the pigment: and this shows 
once again the futility of the frequent 
demand that a single picture shall con- 
tain in itself all of the manifold quali- 
ties of art. 

In landscape, of course, drawing is of 
secondary importance; color, refrac- 
tion, and vibration ranking first; but 
no landscapist must imagine that for 
this reason a sound knowledge of draw- 
ing can be dispensed with. The char- 
acter of his tree, his stream, his moun- 
tain outline is as important as the 
character of an eye or a mouth in a 
drawing of the human face. Moreover, a 
good knowledge of drawing is essential 
to good workmanship. The charm of a 
picture often lies in the freshness, the 
brilliancy, and alacrity of the brush- 



work; and this kind of stroke can only 
be secured when it is backed by a sure 
knowledge of the underlying form. The 
poor and uncertain draughtsman fum- 
bling for form loses all "quality." 

Turn the pages of any exhibition cata- 
logue, and you will find it difficult to 
place your finger on the name of a 
really fine landscape painter who is not 
also a fine draughtsman. And I think 
that inquiry will disclose the fact that 
the best of them have devoted at least 
four or five years pretty exclusively to 
the study of drawing. This is none too 
much. But the best place to acquire 
this knowledge, even for a landscape 
painter, is not out of doors before na- 
ture; because it is so much easier to 
study drawing in-doors from the nude. 

In art, as in the other affairs of life, 
those go fastest and furthest who follow 
the line of least resistance. In the open, 



therefore, our attention should be con- 
centrated on the study of color, vibra- 
tion, refraction, and the mystery of 
atmosphere on those qualities in fact 
which can be studied nowhere else to 
the same advantage. But if a class of 
students in drawing should plant 
themselves down in the woods, using 
the oaks, the elms and the beeches 
for models, their progress toward an 
exact and synthetic knowledge of 
form would be slow indeed. The tree 
forms would permit them too much 
latitude. The articulation of a limb 
upon the trunk of an oak, for instance, 
might start a foot higher up or a foot 
lower down and still be in character, 
but the articulation of a knee joint, 
an elbow, or a shoulder of the human 
figure must be true to the inch. In fact, 
nowhere else can the sense of form be 
so perfectly trained as in following the 



exquisite and subtle lines of the most 
beautiful, the most perfect thing in 
nature the nude human figure. There- 
fore, although we take it for granted 
that the drawing of a landscape shall be 
good, it is not in the drawing of land- 
scape itself that landscape drawing can 
best be learned. When the eye is once 
trained to see and feel the infinite deli- 
cacies of the human form, it will find 
no difficulties in any of the other forms 
of nature. A landscapist should, of 
course, familiarize himself with the 
character of the trees, the hills, the turn 
of winding streams and of hillside 
roads by making frequent pencil draw- 
ings from nature, but he should first of 
all learn to draw. 

Hence, when the student brings in 
badly drawn landscape studies, the 
only thing to do is to send him back to 
town ; or, if he happens to be a capable 



draughtsman, erring through careless- 
ness, to tell him to spend more time 
with the charcoal and less with the 
brush. It has been suggested that in 
order to keep the eye of the student 
always keyed up in drawing, it might 
be well to have a class in out-door figure 
painting connected with every school of 
landscape art. This idea gained numer- 
ous adherents at the time of the wonder- 
ful exhibition in New York of the Span- 
ish painter, Sorolla y Bastida. Nor was 
this to be wondered at; for these bril- 
liant and exquisite studies of out-door 
Spanish life, the figures throbbing with 
vitality, and the very air palpitating 
with the gay southern sunshine, might 
well excite the enthusiasm of all lovers 
of art; and their astounding realism, 
coupled as it was with a true sense of 
beauty, was the very thing that would 
be sure to fascinate the younger paint- 



ers. Nevertheless nothing, in my opin- 
ion, could be less intelligent than the 
above suggestion. For the student who 
aims to go far in art the golden rule is, 
one thing at a time. 
If you consider for a moment, you 
will perceive that painting the figure in 
the open involves a simultaneous at- 
tack on nearly every problem in the 
wide domain of art. You have first 
of all the out-door questions of atmos- 
pheric vibration and refraction, and 
the consideration of the color-scale and 
value-scale ; then, in addition to these, 
you have practically all the in-door 
problems, which include figure-compo- 
sition and arrangement, in addition 
to the usual problems of drawing and 
modelling the latter presented in a 
reversed and unfamiliar form, owing to 
the new and unexpected color-reflec- 
tions from the sky and the surround- 



ing sunlit landscape. Of course, if this 
kind of study were regarded as merely 
a form of dissipation, a little spree as 
it were, to vary the dull monotony of 
landscape routine, it might have its 
good points. Change is a great tonic; 
and it does no harm occasionally to 
shoot arrows at the stars even if you 
know that they will not carry. But 
for students seriously to shoulder all 
these problems at once, shows both 
courage and naivete, but little discre- 
tion. Did they know that Sorolla him- 
self worked for twenty-five years at the 
problem before he painted his first 
successful out-door canvas, they would 
perhaps attack it with less enthusiasm. 
But courage is an admirable thing, and 
it seems a shame to put obstacles in its 

I have said that Holbein and Leo- 
nardo da Vinci were probably two of the 



greatest draughtsmen the world has 
ever seen, stating at the same time that 
the character of their work precluded 
the possibility of really good painting 
as we moderns conceive it. Depending 
as it does for its distinction upon 
extreme delicacy and finesse of line, 
free and vibrant brush-work was of 
course not possible. There, fortunately, 
is another and larger manner of draw- 
ing which is peculiarly fitted for the 
true painter's use. This is drawing 
by mass, as it is seen in the work of 
J. F. Millet, Winslow Homer, and the 
French landscapist Harpignies. As 
landscape art in its highest expression 
is a synthetic grouping of masses of 
delicate and beautiful color, this kind 
of drawing is that which is made for 
the landscape painter's special needs. 
It allows full scope for the true rend- 
ering of character in all the principal 



forms, and at the same time it lends it- 
self to the large and noble vision for, 
even in drawing, the true painter must 
always see big. Here, as elsewhere, 
he must "grab the essential" and cast 
the little and the inessential behind 




THERE are so many millions of good 
compositions in the world that it seems 
strange any one should ever waste time 
on a bad one. The good ones lie about 
us at every turn of the road. All 
that is necessary is the eye to see them. 
There are no fixed and immutable laws 
of composition at least, none that can- 
not frequently be broken to advantage 
by a man of genius. All of the old con- 
ventional rules are explanatory rather 
than constructive. They may prevent 
an utterly bad arrangement, but they 
can hardly enable us to create a master- 
piece; for the all-essential note of per- 
sonality would be absent. In my own 



opinion, about all of the rules of com- 
position which are of any practical value 
to a painter, are negative rather than 
positive, and can best be expressed in a 
series of "don'ts." 

The first and by far the most impor- 
tant of these is, "don't try to say two 
things on one canvas." Any motive that 
is worth painting must have a central 
point of interest. Concentrate on that 
and sacrifice everything else to it. If 
there chance to be another attractive 
feature in the same subject, ruthlessly 
suppress it, in order that the one thing 
which you have to say may be said 
strongly. It often happens in nature 
that there are two points of nearly equal 
interest in the same scene. In this case 
divide the motive into two separate pic- 
tures, or else paint some other motive. 
If you try to paint both on the same 
canvas you will fall between two stools; 



2 W 

I * 


* I 

* * 



for the human mind is capable of 
receiving but one impression at a time. 
An instance of this double motive 
which recurs constantly in nature is 
the scene where some handsome land- 
scape is reflected in a pool or stream, 
the reflection being often more beauti- 
ful than the scene which it reflects. It 
would be fatal to attempt to reproduce 
both in one picture. The eye of the 
spectator would not know upon which 
of the two pictures to rest and neither 
would make its full impression. 

An excellent example of the correct 
way to treat this motive is to be found 
in the river views of the Norwegian 
painter, Fritz Thaulow, who never gives 
more of the landscape itself than a 
suggestion at the top of the picture, 
thus concentrating the attention on the 
beautiful swirling expanse of water be- 
low. The water itself tells all that is 



needful of the thing it reflects, and the 
attention is not distracted in the effort 
to see two things at once. 

I have seen many a poor picture in 
which two very excellent pictures had 
been painted upon the same canvas, 
either of which would have been beau- 
tiful by itself. If you wish your message 
to carry, don't confuse your audience 
with irrelevancies. Make your single 
statement clear and forceful and con- 
vincing and let it stand by itself. Don't 
try to give too much for the money. 
This is even a worse mistake in art 
than it is in business. 

Secondly. "Don't divide your picture 
into spaces of equal size and propor- 
tion." For some psychological reason of 
which we have not the explanation, the 
human mind abhors an equal division 
of space in a picture. Therefore don't 
put either your horizon line or your 



principal object of interest in the exact 
centre of the canvas. How far above or 
how far below, the centre the horizon 
should be placed, will of course de- 
pend upon the character of the motive 
and its various units. Unless there is 
some very convincing reason for the 
high horizon, however, all experience 
points to the lower division as best. 
A vast sky always lends nobility to a 
picture ; while the suppression or nearly 
total elimination of the sky tends to 
convert the canvas into a sort of tran- 
scendent still-life. This is the case with 
the water pictures of Thaulow. They 
are the very apotheosis of still-life, it is 
true, but they are held within the still- 
life class by the fact that they are a 
representation of near-by objects, that 
they make no appeal to the infinite 
translate no mood or effect. 
The low horizon line is peculiarly es- 



sential when the principal motive of 
the picture is found in the sky itself 
some vast composition of rolling clouds, 
some gorgeous sunburst radiating its 
luminous streamers athwart the canvas, 
some castle in the air towering up and 
up to the zenith. In this case, a mere 
line of land is often sufficient enough 
to give the dark and solid value that 
lends light and air to the upper reaches 
of the sky. 

"Don't have anything in the picture 
which does not explain itself." Because 
a thing happens to exist in nature 
is no reason why it should be allowed 
a place in your picture which is a 
work of art. Treat nature with respect 
and affection, but don't let her rule 
you. And, moreover, don't paint any 
motive that is so unusual and outre 
that it will not explain itself without 
a pamphlet attached to the frame. I 



once asked Mr. Lhermitte, the veteran 
French master, what he proposed to 
call an important picture which he had 
just then completed for the Salon. "I 
don't know," he replied. "A picture 
which needs a title should never have 
been painted. What would you call it 
yourself ?" We had best not poach upon 
the preserves of the story-teller, be- 
cause he can always beat us at his own 
game. No beauty was added to a certain 
picture of the Cornish coast which I once 
saw in the Royal Academy, by the fact 
that it was entitled " Where the Phoe- 
nicians came for tin." 

"Don't repeat the main line of your 
picture with another important line 
parallel to it." If you have a mountain 
form swinging up to the left, have your 
clouds swing up to the right; or tend in 
that direction. If you are painting in 
a flat country like Holland, and your 



horizon line is forcedly horizontal, make 
this straight line beautiful by adjusting 
the cloud forms to it in agreeable con- 
trast. The sky is in this respect a won- 
derful resource to the painter, for its 
lines may sweep in any one of an hun- 
dred different directions; and they can 
thus always be made to balance or 
accentuate or modify the lines of the 
solid earth, which cannot change. 

Above all, "don't let the dominant 
line of your picture end aimlessly in 
mid-air." With the sky to help, there is 
no excuse for this. It should be picked 
up and carried on in a sinuous, living 
line, like the sweep of a winding brook 
or the curve of a mountain road. The 
psychological effect of this living line 
in a picture is one of the most potent, 
though one of the most mysterious, 
things in art. 

As I have already said, however, there 



is not one of these rules, nor one of the 
old conventional tenets, that cannot oc- 
casionally be disregarded to advantage. 
No! in this I am mistaken. There is 
one rule at least which must never 
be broken the rule which says "thou 
shalt not paint two pictures upon one 
canvas"; for the house which is divided 
against itself inevitably falls to the 

But I have seen an excellent picture in 
which the horizon line bisected the can- 
vas exactly in the centre the necessary 
balance being achieved by other means. 
I have also seen pictures in which the 
repetition of the dominant line added a 
strange beauty to the canvas. 

"Don't crowd your composition." Let 
your tree or your mountain have breath- 
ing space. Keep them away from the 
edge of the frame. They will gain in 
dignity and apparent bigness by di- 



minishing rather than increasing their 

"Don't put in a single unnecessary 
feature." Everything which does not 
contribute to the grace, or the beauty, 
or the force, or the sentiment of your 
picture detracts from it. 

But unquestionably the best rule of all 
is to keep the eyes always wide open and 
observant of the things about you, for 
the most beautiful compositions in the 
world are always the daring and un- 
expected arrangements of nature. It 
behooves us to see them. 



THE Belgian master, Alfred Stevens, 
was wont to say that a picture in order 
to be truly great must excel from two 
different points of view. When seen 
from a distance it must be handsome in 
color, fine in composition, and true to 
the scene depicted ; and when examined 
at close range the pigment must reveal 
that precious and jewel-like surface 
which is described by the word "qual- 

Jean Fra^ois Millet, on the contrary, 
abhorred quality, and vehemently pro- 
tested that any painter who concerned 
himself with surface prettiness was 
little better than an artisan at best a 



jeweler out of his element. Personally, 
I am inclined to think that both of 
these great masters were in the wrong, 
but that Millet came nearer to the truth 
than Stevens. It is quite certain, at any 
rate, that his instinct was correct in so 
far as it applied to his own work. Pre- 
ciosity of surface could only detract 
from such a picture as the "Sower" or 
the "Shepherdess," while it would be a 
positive offence in a picture such as 
the "Man with a Hoe," Millet, of 
course, was too great and true an artist 
to fall into this error. His pictures give 
evidence of an infallible instinct for the 
eternal fitness of things, and as he was 
concerned always with the iking to be 
said, he used every resource at his com- 
mand to reinforce the dominant idea 
of the work, suppressing every thing 
which might distract the attention from 
the central motive. The epic of labor 



was his message; and the coarse and 
often repellent surface texture of his 
pictures was in absolute harmony with 
the character of his subjects. These^ 
while not precisely tragic, were invari- 
ably sober and serious, with the large 
dignity of primitive things. 

But the fact that an enamel-like 
beauty of surface was not in keeping 
with the art of Millet is no valid proof 
that it has not a legitimate place of 
its own in painting. Indeed, the whole 
question of the relative value of things 
in art is here involved. The time is no 
longer when the figure painter can look 
down upon the landscape painter, when 
the painter of vast historical composi- 
tions has his special place reserved for 
him at the head of the board, while the 
painter of mere portraits must be con- 
tent with a seat below the salt. It is the 
intrinsic beauty of the work itself that 


decides its value, and neither the size 
of the canvas nor the character of the 
subject counts. A portrait by Velasquez, 
a landscape by Corot, or a tiny still- 
life by Chardin may very well be worth 
a dozen great figure compositions by 
Le Brun or Van Loo. To withhold 
praise therefore from one of the be- 
wilderingly beautiful pipe-dreams of 
Monticelli would be to deny the value 
of all the decorative art in the world; 
to say that the mere sensuous beauty 
of the flower or of the peacock's feather 
has no value because it delivers no 
intellectual message; to brush aside as 
worthless the keramic art of Japan, the 
textiles of Persia, and the cathedral 
glass of the Middle Ages. 

But just as we should deprecate the 
presence of a precious surface quality 
in one of Millet's noble and homely can- 
vases, so we should resent any attempt 



at a didactic or serious message in a 
picture by Monticelli or Watteau. And 
herein lies the mistake of Alfred Ste- 
vens. Throughout all the ages the great 
masters have been content to say but 
one thing upon one canvas; to subor- 
dinate everything else in the picture to 
the one dominant idea, and to eliminate 
everything which does not contribute to 
reinforce it. As I have already said in 
the chapter on Composition, any at- 
tempt to convey two ideas at one and 
the same time leads to inevitable con- 
fusion. Each idea may be beautiful in 
itself, but the beauty of one will nullify 
the beauty of the other. Indeed, the 
fact that a secondary idea in a picture is 
especially interesting is the strongest ar- 
gument for its suppression. If the idea 
is of sufficient beauty it deserves a can- 
vas by itself, and should be reserved for 
another picture to be painted later on. 



Of the works of Monticelli, Watteau, 
Gaston La Touche, and their fellows, 
we therefore ask no more than they 
have given us. We are content to satu- 
rate our souls in their sensuous loveli- 
ness; to take deep draughts of this in- 
toxicating wine of beauty and to dream 
the day away. We do not say that their 
work is greater or less great than that 
of Millet or Winslow Homer or the 
other master painters of humanity. We 
only say that it is different, and we are 
glad that it is as it is and not otherwise. 
In the garden of art there are many 
mansions. We love to wander from one 
to another under the wide and bosky 
shade, and are happy that we must not 
dwell always in the same palace be it 
ever so beautiful. 

Now there is no question but that this 
elusive and exquisite surface beauty 
this so-called "quality" is peculiarly 



at home in some forms of landscape 
art. Of this we have indubitable proof 
in the work of Claude and Turner and 
in the pictures of our own painters, 
Ranger, Dearth, and Bunce. One thing, 
however, must not be lost sight of. 
When the picture is intended to de- 
liver a message to convey some poetic 
or strongly dramatic "mood" of nature, 
the unreserved use of quality may lead 
to the pitfall of the double motive. But 
when the character of the subject is quiet 
and idyllic, the sensitive appreciation of 
surface beauty on the part of the artist 
and his dexterous manipulation of pig- 
ment to secure it is not only legitimate 
but practically mandatory. Some of the 
most enduring works of beauty in 
painting owe their charm almost wholly 
to this one thing. 

It is sometimes objected that there 
are various receipts by the use of which 



quality can be secured by the first- 
comer. If this were true, it would be 
the greatest of boons to the artistic 
profession. But, alas! the only real re- 
ceipt for quality is to be born a colorist. 
The kind which is secured by simple 
recourse to the varnish-pot is a sadly 
spurious article, which will bring little 
pleasure to any one with a sensitive 
artistic organization. Quality which is 
obtained at the expense of truth is 
dearly bought, and varnish in itself 
does not make art. 

When, therefore, I am asked by stu- 
dents for the best way to secure quality 
in a picture, I feel inclined to para- 
phrase the reply of Oliver Wendell 
Holmes to the reporter who asked him 
the best way to make sure of a long 
life. "The best way," said the Autocrat, 
" is to select long-lived parents." 



THE question of the medium in which 
the painter shall execute his pictures is 
an affair of temperament. Each artist 
must consult his own feelings in this 
matter and select the medium which is 
to him the most sympathetic. To-day, 
there are practically but three systems 
of painting in common use, tempera 
having gone out of vogue, and fresco 
having very wisely been discarded in 
favor of better and sounder methods. 
The three remaining methods are, of 
course, pastel, water-color, and oil. Each 
of these has its own special advantages, 
and its countervailing disadvantages. 
Pastel, the most exquisite and fasci- 



nating of the three is also technically 
considered the most dangerous. It has, 
indeed, so many drawbacks on the ma- 
terial side that only the most thoroughly 
trained technician is able to avoid them 
all, and thus assure to his picture the 
permanence which is a first essential 
in any work of art. To begin with, it is 
the most fragile of materials. If a fixa- 
tive is used it must be applied with a 
sure knowledge of the results to be ob- 
tained; for any carelessness or igno- 
rance of manipulation during this deli- 
cate process will result in a certain loss 
of the surface bloom the quality which 
more than anything else gives to pastels 
their exquisite charm. This statement 
applies more particularly to the paint- 
ing in which the pastel is applied as a 
heavy coat over the whole surface of 
the canvas, and in which, therefore, fix- 
ing is an absolute necessity. When the 
pastel is used meagrely, and the sur- 



plus pigment is thoroughly shaken off, 
a pastel is nearly as indestructible as 
any other drawing, and this without 
the use of fixatives. But the worst short- 
coming of pastel is its tendency to fade. 
This is unnecessary and is due solely 
to carelessness on the part of the man- 
ufacturers. The remedy, therefore, is to 
patronize only the most reliable makers. 
Water-color has many of the charms 
of pastel, with practically no demerits. 
Its permanence is amply demonstrated 
by the cartoons of Raphael and Leon- 
ardo, while it gives to our work an airy 
delicacy that can be secured by no other 
means. Its only disadvantage is also one 
of its chief attractions the element of 
uncertainty always present, for the color 
dries out a tone lighter than the freshly 
applied wash, and of course only long 
training enables one to discount with 
absolute certainty this subtle change 
of tone. However, we must admit that 



its usefulness is limited to comparatively 
light effects, and to pictures of moder- 
ate size, as it lacks the necessary depth 
and power for low-toned pictures or for 
canvases of large dimensions. As the 
lead factor is not present in water-color 
work, almost the whole scale of pig- 
ments may be used with impunity and 
with reasonable certainty of perma- 

But of all the methods of painting yet 
discovered, painting in oil is unques- 
tionably the most valuable and the 
most satisfactory in its general results. 
The range of its power is only limited 
to the power of the pigments at our 
command ; and its permanence depends 
only on our care in the selection of 
these pigments. In this respect, how- 
ever, it must be admitted that our 
palette is still far from ideal. 

That in this age of chemical conquest 


we should still be using the sixteenth 
century colors; still be forced to pick 
and choose our pigments in the con- 
stant fear of chemical change, is a 
pointed comment on the intelligence of 
the artist fraternity. Had painters been 
able to combine in a united demand, 
they would long ago have had a palette 
as brilliant as the rainbow and as endur- 
ing as the pyramids. They ask no im- 
possibility. Indeed, the solution of this 
problem would be a comparatively 
simple matter for the modern chemist, a 
mere nothing in comparison with the 
prodigies that have been wrought in 
the domain of steel and in the field of 
electricity. But alas! from the very 
nature of things, concerted action was 
impossible. The artist is a hopeless 
individualist. Were he able to sink his 
individuality in any merger, he would 
no longer be an artist. I have in mind 


a dinner given by a benevolent lover 
of art and artists, to which a dozen 
prominent painters were bidden, that 
they might explain their needs to an 
eminent chemist who was the guest of 
the evening. I shall not soon forget the 
bewilderment of the man of science 
at the end of the conference. In less 
than an hour he had received a dozen 
widely varying accounts of the needs of 
the profession, each one describing the 
special and individual needs of a special 
painter. Moreover, the discussion was 
so filled with gay and reckless persi- 
flage, so shot through with wit and 
repartee, that it was hopeless to attempt 
to separate the light from the serious. 
It was a very gay party, but it advanced 
little the cause of sound color. 

If, therefore, artists are ever to secure 
the pigments which they need, the 
demand must come from some alien 


source. Fortunately, this demand has 
already arisen. The manufacturers of 
print goods all over the world are in- 
tisting upon pigments which will re- 
main permanent under the strong rays 
of the tropical sun, and which will at 
the same time resist the action of the 
various alkalies and acids they are sure 
to encounter in the wash-tub. To meet 
this demand one great firm of color- 
makers has a hundred expert chemists 
employed upon the problem. Already 
they have achieved one definite and 
splendid result a synthetic red which 
is absolutely neutral, chemically con- 
sidered, and ten times more powerful 
than the best vermilion. As an artist's 
color, it replaces almost all the other 
red pigments which we have inherited 
from the past. The same chemists have 
an equally powerful yellow and blue 
under careful observation, and it is 



highly probable that in another year or 
two these, also, will be given to the 
world. Now it is evident that if painters 
can secure these three primary colors 
in two values, a light and a dark shade, 
they will, with the addition of white and 
black, have a perfect palette; as all of 
the secondary and tertiary colors, such 
as orange, green, violet, and their vari- 
ous derivatives can be compounded by 
an admixture of these original pigments. 
But while we may hope for the com- 
pletion of the new color-scale, it would 
be foolish prematurely to assume it as 
assured. In the meantime, we must act 
as if we were always to be dependent 
upon the old hereditary palette. That 
splendid and durable results can be 
secured through its use is amply proved 
by the superb examples of the old 
masters which have come down to us 
in a perfect state of preservation. All 



that is required is a little care and in- 
telligence in the selection of the pig- 
ments. Lead is the one dangerous fac- 
tor. If we were willing to take from 
the palette the white lead and the 
chromes, which have also a lead basis, 
we could use almost all the other pig- 
ments with impunity. But our only 
substitute for white lead is zinc white, 
which has the disadvantage of being 
so extremely brittle when hard-dry, 
that it cracks when the canvas is 
rolled, or under the action of extremes 
of heat and cold. The danger from 
lead is its strong affinity for sulphur, 
and the unfortunate fact that sulphide 
of lead is a blackish brown. There- 
fore when any of the colors containing 
sulphur (such as vermilion and the 
cadmiums) are mixed with either white 
lead or the chromes, we are sure to 
evolve the deadly sulphide, and there 



results a general browning or greening 
of the whole picture. 

The rule, then, is either to content 
ourselves with zinc white, or, if white 
lead is used, to cast aside the cadmiums, 
vermilion, and emerald green (which, 
having a copper basis, is also subject 
to change when brought into contact 
with sulphur). The vermilion, fortu- 
nately, has now been replaced by the 
new color (which has been named by its 
makers Harrison red) ; and the cad- 
miums are hardly necessary, as they 
can be replaced by the chromes. Thus, 
with either lead white or zinc white, 
we have a very extended range, which 
has been greatly strengthened of late 
years by the addition of the two superb 
and perfectly safe alizarine colors, 
the scarlet and the crimson varieties. 
Neither the yellow nor the green aliz- 
arine can yet be claimed as perfectly 



sound and enduring ; but then neither 
is essential. 

Now, with this list of twenty or thirty 
pigments to select from, the question 
arises, naturally, as to the choice we 
shall make from them; for it is evident, 
I think, that even the most courageous 
amateur would hardly venture upon 
the whole gamut at one time. In the 
first place, it may be said that choice 
of palette is a matter of temperament. 
Each student must experiment with 
the various pigments and select those 
which he personally finds most sym- 
pathetic. But, in general, it is best to 
eliminate all the secondary or com- 
pound colors, such as green, purple, 
etc.; and this for two reasons: first, 
because a painter secures more vibra- 
tion in his work by mixing his own 
secondary and tertiary tones; and, 
second, because if one has a green on 



the palette, one is very apt to use that 
special green, instead of searching out 
the various greens (and they are in- 
finite) that may enter into his picture 
motive. It may also be stated as an 
axiom, that the more experienced the 
artist, the more limited is his palette. 
The expert cannot be bothered with 
useless pigments. He selects the few 
that are really essential and throws 
aside the rest as useless lumber. The 
distinguished Swedish artist, Zorn, uses 
but two colors vermilion and yel- 
low ochre; his two other pigments, 
black and white, being the negation 
of color. With this palette, simple 
to the point of poverty, he neverthe- 
less finds it possible to paint an im- 
mense variety of landscape and figure 
subjects, and I have never heard his 
color criticised as being anaemic or lack- 
ing in power. Many other painters 



limit themselves to five colors; and 
when the palette is extended beyond 
seven, it is safe to presume that one is 
skirting the borders either of the ama- 
teur or the student class. 

So much for pigments. But now we 
are confronted with another and a still 
more difficult problem : that of the me- 
dium in which the colors are to be 
mixed. For this purpose nothing better 
than pure linseed oil has ever been 
discovered, and indeed nothing better 
could be desired ; for it combines nearly 
all of the good qualities transparency, 
hardness, a certain flexibility when dry, 
and a durability whose limits we are 
as yet unable to gauge the first pict- 
ures ever painted in oil colors being 
still in a good state of preservation. 
Unfortunately it has now become very 
difficult to obtain pure linseed oil. 
Most of the oil of the world is at 



present extractd by the oil trust, which, 
in order to secure a slightly increased 
output, subjects the seed under pres- 
sure to a high heat, with the result 
that in addition to the oil there is 
pressed out of the mash a variety of 
resins and essential oils, whose ulti- 
mate chemical effect on our colors we 
cannot as yet determine. Finally, the 
whole output is boiled with a certain 
addition of litharge to help its drying 
quality, and litharge is red lead. So 
here the lead equation enters into our 
palette again, in spite of our best ef- 
forts to exclude it. There are, however, 
I believe, two color-men in the world 
who, recognizing the necessity of pure 
raw oil for artist's use, have recently es> 
tablished plants of their own, where the 
seed is pressed cold and the oil is left raw. 
These firms are Bloch and Winsor & 
Newton. There may, of course, be 



others of which I do not know. To 
ensure entire safety and durability, 
nothing but pure linseed oil should be 
mixed with the colors; all cracking, 
gumming, etc., being due to inequalities 
in the drying period of the different 
mediums used on our canvas. If any- 
thing at all is mixed with the oil, the 
safest and best thing in the world is 
certainly pure Venice turpentine. If 
kerosene is used, it should be care- 
fully washed to eliminate all of the 
acid which is used in refining the 
crude oil. Otherwise this free acid will 
attack the lead and discolor it. 

In regard to varnishing, the important 
thing is to allow the picture to dry 
thoroughly before the varnish is ap- 
plied. Six months is none too much for 
this, and a year is far better. A picture 
varnished before the oil is hard-dry is 
certain to crack sooner or later, as the 



oil and the varnish dry at different rates 
of speed. The pictures of Rubens and 
Vandyke were varnished with a medium 
made by exposing pure linseed oil to the 
sunlight until it was quite thick. This 
required a month or two to dry thor- 
oughly after it was applied to the pict- 
ure; but the splendid preservation and 
the great brilliancy of Rubens's pict- 
ures have justified all the extra pains 
and trouble incident to the method 
which he employed. 


A PICTURE is a convention an illu- 
sion. We take a few crude materials, a 
square of canvas, some earthy pig- 
ments, and by a sort of artistic legerde- 
main we propose to make those ma- 
terials disappear and to persuade the 
spectator that he is looking through the 
frame and out over the sunny landscape 
beyond. If the magician is clever enough, 
if he observes carefully the laws of 
color, of values, and of refraction, he 
may succeed fairly well. But the slight- 
est thing will break the spell. A scratch 
across the sky, a little indentation, and 
the illusion disappears; for the observer 
has become conscious of the surface of 
the canvas. The rough edge of the 



stretcher has the same disillusioning 
effect, and for this reason no picture is 
really complete until it is enclosed with- 
in the sheltering protection of a frame. 
It is necessary to separate the real from 
the unreal, the hard reality of the back- 
ground of burlap or of wall-paper from 
the illusion of the picture. 

Now the question at once arises as to 
the best form for this protecting bar- 
rier, the best material to use in its 
construction, and the best and most 
harmonious surface for its finish. Ar- 
tists are all aware of the vital im- 
portance of this matter. They know 
that a frame can either make or mar 
their picture, and they give the subject 
constant thought and attention. At one 
period I devoted considerable time 
and study to the question and made 
voyages of discovery into many strange 
and untried fields. 



Of course I tried frames of carved 
wood of various hues and varied de- 
sign ; I collected sea-shells and fish-nets, 
poppy-stalks, ears of grain, and all 
sorts of beautiful dried weeds out of 
the fields, which I glued to the flat sur- 
face of my frames, and gilded. I made 
experiments also with textile fabrics 
applied between narrow bands of 
gold. At one time I cut up a superb 
Turkish rug and made me a precious 
frame of this exquisite material. Bar- 
barous vandalism, if you will, but all 
in the good cause of art. However, that 
was the most disastrous frame of all. 
The rug was so beautiful that the un- 
fortunate picture was entirely anni- 
hilated. The surface texture of the rug 
was in itself so compelling that no pict- 
ure could stand up against it. It was 
this frame, however, which first showed 
me that I was on the wrong track. All 



of my shells and nets and weeds, al- 
though gilded, were actual objects, with 
which the eye was familiar. The ob- 
server as a consequence saw the frame 
when it was essential that he should 
see only the picture. The frame, I per- 
ceived at last, must be something mid- 
way between the real and the unreal 
conventional in form and intangible in 
surface. And I re-discovered the fact, 
which the old masters had discovered 
so many centuries ago, that there was 
no material in the whole range of nat- 
ure so admirably fitted for the surface 
of a frame as gold or metal leaf. Next 
to the mirror, it presents the most elu- 
sive of all surfaces. Semi-reflecting, 
semi-solid, it is just the thing that fills 
all the requirements. So I came back 
home again and spent the rest of my 
time in a study of the best forms and 
the best tones of metal leaf to be em- 




ployed. Fortunately, there is a large 
range of colors at our disposal, be- 
ginning with pure silver, and going 
through various tints of green, yellow, 
and orange gold to the deep red of 
copper a gamut as extended as the 
most demanding painter could ask. 

Here it soon became apparent that the 
law of complementaries reigned su- 
preme. A picture whose dominant note 
was pink demanded a greenish gold 
frame, a blue picture called for a tone 
of pure yellow or orange gold, while a 
picture whose dominant tone was gold- 
en yellow could only be well clothed in 
silver. Fortunately, the dominant note 
of most landscapes is found in the 
blue or blue-gray sky, and thus the pure 
gold frame is its ideal casing. But there 
are pictures often enchanting effects 
which are killed by the juxtaposi- 
tion of yellow gold; and these pict- 



ures are barred out of our exhibitions 
by the barbaric rule which limits all 
frames to those of gold leaf. One of my 
own most successful canvases, repre- 
senting the interior of a birch wood in 
autumn, was a solid mass of shimmer- 
ing yellow foliage, relieved only by the 
silVery notes of the slender and graceful 
trees. I tried it, without success, in 
every possible tone of gold leaf; but 
finally had to come to silver. The pict- 
ure, of course, was "returned with 
thanks on account of the frame"; but 
it found an immediate purchaser in the 
first private exhibition at which it was 
seen. The price, moreover, had been 
doubled as a balm to my wounded 

When it comes to the form and design 
of a frame, infinite latitude is allowable, 
but, in general, the law of contrast holds 
good here also. A very complicated pict- 



ure which depends for its effect largely 
upon some graceful and intricate de- 
sign will show to best advantage in a 
comparatively flat and simple frame. 
A simple picture, on the contrary, which 
is built up with a few broad and 
powerful masses, will frequently appear 
best in a rich and ornamental frame, 
the very richness of design accentuating 
the simple beauty of the canvas. If, 
however, the value-scale of a picture 
is extremely delicate, this must also 
be taken into account, and the frame, 
though ornamental in design, should be 
in low relief, in order to harmonize 
with the picture which it is to frame. 
The question of the mat surface and the 
burnished surface, or the proportion of 
each to be allowed in a given frame, 
must depend upon the special picture 
under consideration, and also upon the 
individual taste of the painter. The 



worst frame of all, the only inexcusable 
one, is the blatant, vulgar over-ornate, 
over- wide, over-burnished affair, which 
cries out, "look at me, I cost five hun- 
dred dollars, so this picture must be 
worth five thousand." 



IF the infant Sargent or Whistler had 
been marooned with a savage tribe and 
brought up beyond the furthest confines 
of civilization, what would their art 
have amounted to? We may presume 
that they would have carved the totem 
pole just a little more cleverly than 
their savage mates, or have given the 
idol's features a twist more of deviltry 
or of intelligence. But this would have 
been the limit of their performance, for 
art is the child of time and of precedent. 
It inherits the ages; but unless the ar- 
tist comes into his inheritance, he is 
helpless. At best, can he go but one 
little step beyond the fathers, add one 
little stone to the edifice; and in order 



to accomplish even this much, he must 
know well the work of his predecessors. 
If by some dreadful catastrophe all the 
art of the world should suddenly be de- 
stroyed and all knowledge of it blotted 
from the minds of the survivors, it 
would require ten thousand years for 
humanity to recover the lost ground. As 
an artist is dependent upon the past, it 
is evident that he must strive to see and 
to study all of the past art that he can 
find to feed his mind constantly upon 
it. In the old days when the painter was 
a craftsman a little higher than the 
workers in iron or in brass, in wood, or 
in the precious metals, but still in the 
same category it was customary to 
apprentice lads to some well-known 
master. Velasquez was thus apprenticed 
at the age of thirteen, Perugino at nine, 
and Andrea del Sarto at the tender age 
of seven. Constantly under the master's 


From a photograph, copyright 1906, by N. E. Montross 

Childe Hassam " Brooklyn Bridge" 


eye, they learned their craft much as a 
tailor's apprentice learns his trade. 
When they were not grinding colors or 
stretching canvas, or sweeping out the 
studio, they were allowed to copy the 
master's work or possibly to fill in 
backgrounds for him, and they received 
his instruction in return for their labors. 
We do not hear of anything resembling 
the modern art school until the time of 
the brothers Carraci; and it thus hap- 
pens that the graduates of the first 
genuine school of art were the painters 
of the Italian Decadence. There would 
seem to be a sinister significance in this 
coincidence a significance which has 
been a facile argument in the hands of 
those who hold that schools of art exert 
a pernicious influence upon the student, 
destroying his individuality and his per- 
sonal outlook. They forget that the 
effect of the school atmosphere is a bag- 



atelle in comparison to the overwhelm- 
ing influence of the private master, 
whose dominant personality must have 
been felt at every hour of the day for 
years at a stretch. The truth is that 
where an artist is born with the three es- 
sentials temperament, character, and 
sincerity it is impossible to destroy the 
personal note in him. Nothing can sub- 
merge it. The main thing is for him 
to acquire knowledge and more knowl- 
edge and still more knowledge, and the 
source of his information matters not 
one whit. 

Personally, I am convinced that the 
synchronous arrival of the art school 
and the Decadence of Italian art was 
a mere coincidence, and that the 
modern system of art instruction the 
great art school with its corps of in- 
tructors is a distinct improvement 
over the ancient method. 



It will be readily seen and understood, 
for instance, that, unless a master 
chances to be exceptionally intelligent, 
he will be apt to insist upon the stu- 
dent's using his own palette and his 
own technical methods, and this will 
delay the acquisition of the personal 
color-scale and the personal technic 
most fitted to the individual needs of 
each different student. This can be, and 
often is, corrected by the outside study 
and investigations of students them- 
selves, but it were better that the influ- 
ence had never been exerted. 

On the whole it may be said that our 
great schools both here and abroad are 
singularly free from this defect, and 
that they give to the really serious stu- 
dent ample facility for a thorough 
training in drawing, painting, compo- 
sition, and all the fundamentals of art 
as understood by the great masters of 



other times. The schools, however, 
have in some respects not kept pace 
with the progress of modern art, and 
the student graduating from the class 
has still many things to learn for and 
by himself before he can put into his 
work the qualities which distinguish the 
art of our own times from that of the 
past. My own experience of twenty-five 
years ago is still very generally the ex- 
perience of students leaving the schools 

I left the Ecole des Beaux Arts, after 
six years of hard and conscientious 
labor, and drifted down to Brittany, 
fully prepared, as I believed, to paint 
medal pictures for the Salon. 

I gathered together a collection of 
stunning subjects, laid them in bravely, 
and set to work to develop them into 
pictures, according to the rules and 
standards which I had learned in Paris. 



I confess that I was somewhat surprised 
when, at the end of a year's work, I 
had not a single satisfactory canvas to 
show. At the end of eighteen months I 
began to suspect that something was 
radically wrong, and when, at the end 
of two years, I was still without a 
picture worthy of the name, I became 
genuinely discouraged. 

About this time I was at work on an- 
other huge "Salon," a canvas some 
twelve by eight feet in dimension, if I 
remember rightly, which depicted the 
interior of a birchwood in autumn, with 
a single figure of a peasant girl raking 
up the dead leaves. The work was 
well toward completion. It was, I knew, 
well drawn, sound in values, and at 
least as true and delicate in color as the 
average picture. It was an honest en- 
deavor, at any rate, and my very best; 
yet down deep in my heart I felt that it 



was a failure, like all the others. But the 
heart-breaking part of it was that I could 
not guess why it was a failure. 

One day, as I was painting away con- 
scientiously, a friend strolled by a 
Scandinavian painter for whose work I 
had the most profound admiration. 
After studying my effort for awhile he 
remarked: "Harrison, that thing of 
yours is so good it is a pity it is not a 
d d sight better." 

"Well, for Heaven's sake, U.," I said, 
"tell me what is the matter with it." 

"I am not sure that I could tell you," 
he replied, "but if you will lend me 
your palette for ten minutes I might, 
perhaps, be able to show you." 

He selected an area of eighteen inches 
in the left centre of my composition, 
and in fifteen minutes had entirely 
repainted it. His work, as I studied it, 
did not vary in color, in tone, or in value 



from the surrounding portions of the 
picture which I had painted myself; 
yet it was as if a window had been 
opened in the centre of the canvas. 
U.'s work vibrated and sparkled with 
light and with atmosphere, while mine 
lay flat and dead. It was also as if a 
window had been opened in my own 
soul. U. had shown me the secret of 
atmospheric painting had made clear 
to me in a single lucid demonstration 
the importance of vibration and re- 
fraction in landscape painting. I threw 
aside the canvas upon which I was 
at work and started another, which I 
carried through with such enthusiasm 
and verve as I can never remember 
having put into another work using, 
of course, the new knowledge which 
had come to me so opportunely. 

This picture really went to the Salon. 
It was hung upon the line, received a 



medal, and was bought by the French 
government for one of the national 
museums, where, doubtless, it still 

I then and there made up my mind 
that if it ever came my turn to instruct 
young students I should endeavor to 
teach them those things for which we 
painters of the older generation had to 
grope blindly for years, unaided and in 
the dark things which are of equal 
value and importance in a picture with 
good drawing, good composition, and 
good color, but which, for some reason, 
have never been taught in the regular 
art schools. 



THE "Free Art League of America" 
has recently printed an open letter, in 
which it congratulates the American 
people on the triumph of free art and 
rejoices over the certitude that valuable 
collections of old masterpieces will soon 
be brought to this country, and that 
beautiful carvings, bronzes, ivories, and 
antiques of all descriptions will drift 
into our museums, and into private 
collections all over the country. It finds 
particular satisfaction in the fact that 
these objects will now be at the service 
of our manufacturers for use as models, 
and that as a natural consequence "all 
of our manufactured products in which 



design plays an important part will be 
better able to compete with those of 

We may indeed rejoice if we are at 
last to come into our heritage so long 
withheld; if we may hope soon to se- 
cure our fair share of the treasures of 
the world. But if our only use for them 
is to copy them, to use them for models, 
it were better they should remain 
across the water. It is certain, I think, 
that America will one day have a school 
of decorative art that will win the 
universal admiration of the world ; but 
if this is ever to happen, it will be 
because she has developed an art that 
is wholly her own ; an art that is purely 
American; an art whose symbols will 
be the American flora and fauna as 
seen by American eyes and felt through 
the American temperament. 

There is only one path by which an 



individual or a nation can hope to at- 
tain to eminence in art, or even in the 
"arts and crafts" and that path al- 
ways leads direct to nature. We may 
study the antiques, and joy in them, and 
fill our souls with their beauty, but for 
our inspiration we must ever hark back 
to nature and get as near her heart as 
ever we can. She has a special message 
of beauty for every sincere questioner, 
and the message she gives to me will 
differ from that which she holds for you, 
and the message she delivers to the 
Dutchman will not be the same as that 
which she gives to the Spaniard. 

The decorative art of the Japanese is 
nature as the Japanese see it; the deco- 
rative art of the Hindoos is nature as 
that strangely subtle and occult people 
see it; the decorative art of the Moors 
was nature as the Saracens saw it; and 
the decorative art of America must be 



nature as the Americans see it. There 
is no art so synthetic, so conventional, 
that it does not derive from nature, and 
the difference between the art of 
Persia and the art of Europe is the 
mental and temperamental difference 
between the Persian and the European. 
This is the foundation and explana- 
tion of all art, whatever period it rep- 
resents, or from whatever country it 
emanates, and it applies with equal 
force to the decoration on a porcelain 
jug or to the greatest mural painting 
in the world. 

Sincerity! Sincerity! that is the key to 
it all. 

Of course it was comparatively easy 
for the Hindoo or the Japanese or the 
Persian to be sincere and naive because 
the arts of other countries were un- 
known to them. But our wider knowl- 
edge is no handicap, no disadvantage 



to us if we only preserve our own in- 

This we must do in absolute sin- 
cerity and without any mental reserva- 
tion. Even in the development of the 
conventional forms, which are the basis 
of all decorative art, we cannot with 
safety use the rules which were in- 
vented and tabulated by the older 
craftsmen. We must invent our own 
systems. Having analyzed our bird or 
our leaf or our flower, we must select 
as the groundwork of our conventional 
design the particular form or tint that 
appeals to us as the most beautiful or 
the most graceful or fitting; and just 
because we are Americans, just because 
of the mental difference between our- 
selves and the men of other nations, 
our selection would be different from 
the selection made from the same basic 
elements by a Japanese, a Persian, or a 



Hindoo, or a Frenchman, an English- 
man, or a German; and in this slight 
difference at the beginning of things 
lies the germ of all that is distinctive 
and characteristic, and therefore of all 
that is truly beautiful in art. 



MURAL painting occupies a position 
alone and by itself, midway between 
the purely conventional decoration and 
the realistic easel picture. It must be 
sufficiently real to tell its story; it must 
not be so real as to destroy the flatness 
and solidity of the surface upon which 
it is painted. Mural painting, in fact, 
must be considered as an adjunct of 
architecture, and not as a self-depend- 
ent creation. First of all, therefore, it 
must be in harmony with the architect- 
ural scheme of the room which it is 
supposed to decorate and adorn. It 
must not blatantly insist upon recogni- 
tion, but must rather modestly invite 



the attention of the gaze which has at 
first been occupied with the proportions 
of the apartment, the hall, or the church 
which it helps to beautify. It is, in fact, 
applied art in the highest sense of the 
term. As a mural painting must always 
remain in its original position, it is pecul- 
iarly dependent upon its surroundings, 
and the mural painter has not only to 
consider the form and position of the 
space which the picture is to fill, but the 
color of the surrounding walls and the 
quantity and quality and direction of 
the light which it will receive. In its 
most important aspect, therefore, it is 
the exact opposite of the easel picture; 
for while the easel picture must, first 
of all, be true to nature and express 
nature's mood, the mural decoration 
must, first of all, be true to the a^chi- 
tecture and express its mood. It must, 
in other words, pick UD the scheme 


W. L. Metcalf "Summer Moonlight" 
By permission of the Corcoran Art Gallery 


where the architect dropped it, and 
carry the same motive to still greater 
heights of beauty. Its first and most 
important function, therefore, is purely 
decorative, to fill and satisfy the eye 
with a surface of graceful line and sen- 
suous and beautiful color. And the 
mural decorator who forgets this car- 
dinal fact or is temperamentally inca- 
pable of working within the prescribed 
limits, should devote himself to some 
other line of art. It will be seen, there- 
fore, that the rigid and enforced condi- 
tions under which the mural painter 
works impose upon him great reserve in 
his scale of color and of values. If he 
were to use the full scale of either (or 
anything approaching it), he would in- 
evitably produce the illusion of the 
easel picture, which it is essential to 
avoid. His wall surface would appar- 
ently disappear, and one of the chief 



architectural unities would be violated. 
For the same reason a carved or gilded 
frame is not allowable on any purely 
mural decoration, the gold frame hav- 
ing been replaced by universal consent 
with a decorative border painted upon 
the flat surface of the wall, thus helping 
rather than hindering the sense of sup- 
port and solidity that must be main- 
tained at all costs. It is probable that 
the more the artist is willing to limit 
his scale of color, the more conventional 
he makes it, the more beautiful will be 
his result; and it is quite permissible to 
doubt whether any of the modern highly 
colored decorations have filled the first 
essential of mural art so well as the 
old-time tapestry with its limited scale 
of gray greens, gray blues, buffs, and yel- 
lows. It is quite certain at any rate 
that when Puvis de Chavannes in his 
decorations at the Sorbonne and the 



Pantheon cut the color-scale and the 
value-scale in half, we were all con- 
scious of an unaccustomed and quite 
peculiar fitness of the means to the end ; 
of a truth that was higher than the 
truth of nature, because it was the truth 
of art. 

But although the color-scale of a 
mural painting may be limited or atten- 
uated, it must still remain true within its 
limits. Even the tapestry is true so far 
as it goes. The human eye would re- 
pudiate scarlet grass or a grass-green 
sky. The elements of the decoration 
must come from nature exactly as they 
do in the easel picture, the difference 
being that in the latter case the painter 
accepts and utilizes practically all that 
nature gives him, while the mural 
painter takes from nature only those 
elements which will best subserve his 



It would, however, be absurd to assert 
that because the convention of the 
Gobelins, the Beauvais, and the Arras 
was beautiful and soul-satisfying, it 
must necessarily be the ultima ihule of 
decorative art. It was simply one good 
form out of hundreds, many of which 
are yet to be discovered. The color- 
schemes that could be utilized for this 
purpose are simply unlimited in num- 
ber, and when the demand arises it is 
almost certain that another convention 
equally beautiful, though different, will 
appear right here in our own country. 
The new conditions of life in this new 
civilization make it impossible that our 
American scheme of decoration, when it 
is finally evolved, should be the same as 
that which grew out of the life and the 
conditions of mediaeval Europe. 

Those of our artists who are foolishly 
occupied in copying or transposing the 



beautiful art of the ancients have en- 
tered a blind alley which ends against 
a blank wall. Imitation is the sincerest 
form of flattery, but in art it leads only 
to a fall. 

Until very recent years, almost all 
important mural decorations were fig- 
ure compositions in which land- 
scape played only a minor part ; but 
the trend of modern life points clearly 
to a time a time in the very near 
future, I believe when pure landscape 
will be largely used in mural work. 
We can already point to several im- 
portant and eminently successful at- 
tempts of this kind in the city of New 
York, and there is little reason to doubt 
that this number will be added to rap- 
idly as the fitness of the material for 
the purpose is recognized and the 
beauty and decorative quality of the 
result is seen and appreciated. 



VISION! the key to the door of art; the 
power to see with the eyes of the soul! 
as necessary to the artist as faith to the 
true believer. We have been talking of 
color, vibration, refraction, drawing, 
and so on all so much useless lumber 
if a painter have not the one divine gift. 
I once knew an artist who had all these 
technical things at his finger tips; he 
was an able draughtsman, a strong col- 
orist, and the difficulties of refraction 
and vibration were to him a mere 
bagatelle. Yet one of his pictures was 
like a man without a soul a verita- 
ble Frankenstein Monster of art for 
he lacked the artist vision. 



Fortunately, the true vision is not a 
rare endowment. By the grace of God 
many of us are born with the sense of 
beauty ; and even if we are gifted with 
but a tiny spark, this spark can be 
fostered until it grows into a clear and 
luminous flame whose light will trans- 
form the most commonplace scene or 
object into a vision of infinite love- 
liness. If we look always for beauty we 
shall come at last to find it in the 
most unexpected places and under 
many strange garbs. But the true 
vision means not only the power to 
see and to recognize beauty, but the 
power to see it stripped of all vulgar- 
ities and inessentials; the power to 
see the soul of the thing and to grasp 
its essential beauty. For any landscape 
has a soul as well as a body. Its body 
is our great rock-ribbed mother-earth 
with her endless expanse of fields and 
[ 155 ] 


hills, of rivers and surging seas. Its 
soul is the spirit of light of sunlight, 
of moonlight, of starlight which plays 
ceaselessly across the face of the land- 
scape, veiling it at night in mystery 
and shadow, painting it at dawn with 
the colors of the pearl-shell, and bath- 
ing it at mid-day in a luminous glory. 
To this and to the ambient and all- 
enveloping atmosphere, with its clouds 
and its mists, its rain and its veiling 
haze, are due the infinite and ever- 
shifting moods of nature. He who 
paints the body alone may be an excel- 
lent craftsman, but the true artist is 
he who paints the beautiful body in- 
formed and irradiated by the still more 
lovely and fascinating spirit he who 
renders the mood. 

The painter who lacks this greatest of 
all gifts, or who, having it, fails* to 
use it, might just as well scrape his 



palette and close his color-box, for his 
message to humanity will not be worth 
the telling. 




BE courageous. Always dare to the 
limit of your knowledge and just a little 
beyond. You must show conviction 
yourself, if you would convince others. 
One of our best painters recently assured 
me that cheek was his only technical 
asset. This was not true, but it was half 

The public loves to be dictated to in 
matters of art to feel that the painter 
is "onto his job." It will pass by the 
man who says "I think," and stand 
rapt every time before the picture of 
the man who says "I know." Aim to 
tell the truth; but if you have to lie, lie 
courageously. A courageous lie has 


often more virtue than a timid truth. 
My brother, the marine painter, was 
once asked by a mutual friend to criti- 
cise two marines upon which the lat- 
ter was at work. He went without 
enthusiasm, for the man had never at- 
tempted a sea-piece in his life and it 
takes years to understand the ocean. 
On his return, I asked about it. "Why it 
was simply astounding," was the reply. 
" They were false of course. But they 
were so cheeky that they would convince 
any one but a marine painter." When 
you know that this man was color-blind, 
and that he had compassed success in 
spite of his handicap, you will under- 
stand the kind of courage he dealt in. 
Use plenty of pigment also great 
"gobs" of it. A well-furnished palette 
is half the battle. Squeeze out twice as 
much color as you think you can pos- 
sibly need, and then use it all. Look 



at the work of our friends Redfield, 
Sorolla, Foster, Schofield, Dougherty, 
Dearth, Chase all the good painters. 
It shows clearly that they have plenty of 
paint upon their palettes. Never count 
the cost of your pigments. Use them as 
if they were the very dirt under your feet. 
There are difficulties enough in art 
without adding another to the list. At 
best (or worst) you can hardly use more 
than twenty dollars' worth of pigment 
on any one canvas, and that is a baga- 
telle in comparison to the thousands 
which you propose to ask for your pict- 
ure. Paint with house paints if you 
are too poor to have a generous supply 
of the tube variety, but for Heaven's 
sake, don't stint your palette. 

When I was working in France, some 
twenty years ago, one of the younger 
painters asked me for a criticism on his 
"Salon." I found him at work upon 



quite a large canvas, using a palette 
which was dotted with mere pin-points 
of color. The picture was well arranged 
and well "seen," but with that palette 
of course good painting was impossible. 
Carroll was a poor man. We were all 
aware that his allowance was barely 
sufficient to pay for the simplest of food 
and lodging; and the cost of artist's ma- 
terials must have been a serious drain 
upon his slender resources. So I hesi- 
tated long before asking for his color- 
box. There was but one thing to do, 
however; so, resolutely smothering all 
compunctions, I seized upon the pre- 
cious tube of madder and squeezed out 
a most generous supply. Carroll jumped 
nearly out of his boots. 

" Good gracious ! " he exclaimed, " why 
that amount would last me two weeks at 

My only reply was to follow suit with the 



cobalt, the cadmium, and the ultra-ma- 
rine. In less than two minutes I had a pal- 
ette as generously furnished as the most 
extravagant impressionist could desire. 

"There, Carroll," I said, "that is the 
best criticism I can possibly give you. 
Use all those pigments this morning, and 
the result will be such a piece of painting 
as you have never done in your life." 

It was a seemingly heartless piece of 
surgery. But I felt that, like many an- 
other surgical operation, it was necessary 
to save life. Carroll was first of all a 
painter. He could dispense with food 
for a while, but he could not dispense 
with the materials of his craft. Well! 
the paint was out of the tubes, and 
it must either be utilized or wasted. So 
Carroll used it, with the result that his 
picture was not only well hung, but 
was sold for enough to repay the cost 
of the colors fifty-fold. Not long since 
r 1621 


I met him again, and he assured me 
that his whole success as a painter 
dated from that lesson. 

But there is another form of courage 
which is more important than either of 
those referred to and that is moral 
courage the ability to stand squarely 
upon your own feet and say, "Thus do 
I see the thing, and thus will I paint it " 
Look at Winslow Homer and at Whis- 
tler. Do you imagine for an instant that 
either of these masters ever concerned 
himself with the question of how any 
one else saw nature ? Their pictures say, 
hardily, "This is the way that I see it." 
Stick to your own vision therefore, if 
you would rise above the throng. Stand 
aloof! and force the note, if possible 
your own personal note. But first of all, 
be sure that you have something to say ; 
for an empty boast awakes only a smile, 
and a bluff is soon called. 



HAS it ever occurred to you to inquire 
who it is that mechanically writes your 
letters for you while you do the think- 
ing; who plays the notes of the piano 
or the violin while the musician is intent 
upon the interpretation ; who frequently 
goes on reading the printed page when 
your thoughts have wandered far away ? 
It is the sub-conscious servant, the 
eager helper, who performs for us daily 
a thousand little unrecognized services, 
saves our lives often by the rapid- 
ity of his action, and watches over us 
with constant care lest, by our own 
thoughtlessness, we come to any harm 



the willing assistant, without whose 
tireless aid we could none of us sup- 
port the strain of a single day's exist- 

The human brain is divided into two 
entirely separate compartments, which 
might be compared to the two stories 
of a mansion, in the upper of which 
resides the lord and master who does 
all of the planning and ordering, while 
the ground floor is inhabited by the 
well-trained servant, who not only 
carries out the orders that are tele- 
phoned down from above, but, without 
any direct commands, attends to all the 
mechanical details of the household, 
protects the master from outside inva- 
sion, and watches over his physical 
needs the conscious ego and the sub- 
conscious servant. But if the servant is 
to be a thoroughly capable and intelli- 
gent assistant, he must be well and 
f 1651 


carefully trained; and this fact is so 
well recognized that the years of our 
adolescence are mainly devoted to this 

In order to appreciate how well the 
work is carried out and how attentively 
the pupil has listened to his master, 
you have only to call upon him for, say, 
the letters of the alphabet or the multi- 
plication table. He will reel them off 
for you at a rate to make the head spin. 
He has charge of all the stored-up in- 
formation of life ; he is the guardian of 
the treasures of memory, and he keeps 
his treasures all pigeon-holed and tabu- 
lated, and ready for the instant service 
of the master but upon one condition 
that his services be so frequently called 
upon that his powers do not become atro- 
phied through lack of use. It is not in the 
simple capacity of a bookkeeper, how- 
ever, that he serves us best. Having per- 




sonal charge of all our stores of knowledge 
and experience, he is able to correlate 
quickly, and can often hand us in a 
flash the solution of a problem which 
the reasoning ego might have taken 
hours to reach, or might never have 
been able to reach at all. There are 
numerous records of cases where 
mathematicians or other searchers after 
truth, having labored long and fruit- 
lessly to solve a certain problem, have 
waked up some morning with the solu- 
tion clear before them. The little sub- 
conscious servant had taken the thing 
up during the night and handed them 
the answer in the morning. The sub- 
conscious never sleeps. It is only the 
reasoning part of our brains that needs 
the recuperation of slumber.* 
Genius is the term by which we desig- 

* See the very remarkable book on "Sleep," by Hon. 
John Bigelow. 



nate the man or woman who is gifted 
with a sub-conscious nature of unusual 
power or activity; for the so-called 
flashes of genius represent the beautiful 
and perfect correlations and harmonies 
that can only be compassed at the 
source of things, and without the bun- 
gling interference of reasoning man. In- 
stinct, intuition, and inspiration are 
other words which we use to describe 
this phenomenon, but they all mean the 
same thing. 

There is no man, probably, who has 
more need of the help of this faithful 
sub-conscious servant than the artist, 
for so many of the mental processes of 
art must be instinctive. Moreover, in 
the purely mechanical sense, painters, 
and especially landscape painters, are 
peculiarly dependent upon a well- 
trained memory. When I was a student 
in Paris a certain celebrated painter 



was helpful to me in many ways and 
gave me much good advice. I was in his 
studio one day, a month or so after his 
return from a trip in Holland. He 
placed upon the easel one after another 
eight finished pictures and showed me 
a dozen canvases rubbed in with the 
warm gray which he preferred for an 
undertone. "Those also are finished," 
he said; "all that remains is to put on 
the color." Each picture represented a 
different time of day, the effects vary- 
ing from high noon to midnight. The 
motives had been stored carefully in 
the memory and the pictures all painted 
after the master's return to Paris. 

It was a marvellous feat to have 
carried all these varying effects simul- 
taneously in the mind without con- 
fusion, and I did not dissimulate my 

"Well, mon ami," he said, "I dis- 



covered when I was quite a youngster 
that all of the really beautiful effects, 
the things which I particularly wished 
to paint, would not wait my pleasure. 
They were often evanescent moods that 
lasted but ten minutes at most, or they 
were night scenes. So I began to make 
studies from memory one little study 
every day. After five years of this train- 
ing I found that I could reproduce fairly 
well any scene which I had been able to 
study for ten minutes; and now after 
twenty-five years of practice my mem- 
ory has become automatic; so that if I 
fail with any of my canvases it is not 
because my memory fails me but be- 
cause of technical difficulties or poor 
judgment in the selection of the mo- 
tive. On several occasions I have 
painted effects seen from the window 
of a flying train. I should advise you to 
begin the same kind of study." 



I took his advice, and after twenty- 
five years of the same kind of practice 
I can at least corroborate his statement 
in regard to the automatic working of 
the thoroughly trained memory. 

But even where the effect is more last- 
ing, and where a painter might have 
two or three hours to work direct from 
nature, I believe that the final picture 
must always be painted from memory ; 
and I seriously question if any really 
great landscape was ever wholly painted 
in the open. A picture painted direct 
from nature must necessarily be hasty, 
ill-considered, somewhat raw, and lack- 
ing in the synthetic and personal qual- 
ity which is the distinguishing mark of 
all great art unless indeed the work 
is really done from memory while the 
painter is standing before nature 
which might be the case if he had had 
time and opportunity to ripen his vision. 



Of course one must paint what one 
sees, but one must see through the mind 
as well as through the eye. I do not 
mean by this to assert that young 
painters can entirely dispense with 
study direct from nature, or even that 
the veteran would not do well occa- 
sionally to carry his easel into the open 
air. The student indeed must paint for 
many years direct from his subject, 
must pry as closely as ever he can into 
the secrets of nature; but I would have 
him at the same time constantly train 
the sub-conscious servant, so that when 
the time comes that his services shall 
be needed, he will be indeed a "good 
and faithful servant." 

The wonderful synthetic charm of 
Japanese art is largely due to the uni- 
versal custom of the Japanese artists of 
working wholly from memory. Any one 
who studies their drawings of birds, of 



fishes, of animals, and of flowers would 
find it hard to maintain (as I have 
heard it maintained in regard to mem- 
ory painting) that they thereby lose the 
character of the subject. It is only when 
the memory is deficient or insufficient 
that this danger arises. A pretty story 
illustrative of this is told of an Amer- 
ican traveller who, while in Tokio, had 
purchased an embroidered picture of a 
waterfall which he desired to have 
appropriately framed before leaving 
Japan. He was directed to the work- 
shop of an expert wood-carver, who 
accepted the commission ; and after 
consultation a design was selected 
whose principal decorative motive was 
the tortoise. Returning in a couple of 
days, the patron found the artist at 
work upon the nearly completed frame, 
which was indeed a beautiful and most 
artistic creation. While they talked, 



something stirred among the shavings 
at the back of the bench. It was a live 
turtle which had served the carver for 
a model. The poor man was all blush- 
ing confusion. 

"The honorable gentleman will par- 
don me," he said. "I am a simple artisan. 
Had I been an artist I should not have 
needed the turtle here to copy from." 

One of my own most interesting and 
illuminating experiences was an inter- 
view which I once had with an eminent 
Japanese artist. At the time of my visit 
he was at work upon a large screen 
of which the principal motive was a 
crouching leopard ready to spring. I 
watched him as with three or four long 
supple sweeps of the brush he placed the 
beast upon the silken background, a 
marvel of sinuous and savage force. 

"It is a wonder!" I exclaimed. "How 
do you do it?" 


Bruce Crane "November Hills" 

By permission of Carnegie Institute, Pittsburg 


Oki smiled. 

"In Nippon," he said, "we do not 
study art in the American way. We 
don't sit down before a thing and copy 
it. The master takes his pupils to the 
cage of the tiger, and he say: 'Look at 
the tiger's leg and the shape of his paws; 
look at his eyes and the way his ears 
lie back upon the head; look at his 
long body and his sweeping tail; see 
how he crouches as he walks.' Then we 
go home and each one makes a draw- 
ing, and the master say all those draw- 
ings very bad. And the next day we go 
again to the cage of the tiger and look 
at the things we do not remember; and 
we go again the next day, and maybe we 
go every day for one month, two month, 
three month but in the end we know 
that tigerV' And he certainly did know 
his tiger. 

To the figure painter, of course, and 



especially to the painter of in-door sub- 
jects, who can control his effect and 
can place his model day after day in the 
same light, the advantage of memory 
painting may not be so apparent; yet 
even here I maintain that its more fre- 
quent use would be of greater advan- 
tage than is appreciated at the first 
blush; and this because the psychology 
of art is universal in its application, and 
true synthetic beauty is not within the 
reach of the mere copyist be he ever 
so brilliant a workman. 

It is said that Rembrandt often worked 
upon his pictures from memory, and 
report has it that Velasquez preferred 
to paint with his sitter in the next room. 
In regard to the greatest of all modern 
figure painters, and one of the greatest 
of all times, Jean Fra^ois Millet, we 
have living witnesses to the fact that he 
never worked from nature. 



Now if this is held to be bad and dan- 
gerous counsel to give to students, I 
would simply remark that a student is a 
potential master, that he has the right 
to all the knowledge there is in the 
world, and that he must be presumed 
to have sufficient discretion to apply it 
wisely to his own needs. Coddling never 
developed a strong man. 



A TALENTED young painter, who was 
just beginning to make his mark, drifted 
into my studio one day and threw him- 
self into a chair in gloomy silence. He 
smoked morosely for five minutes, while 
I went on with my painting. Finally he 
broke the silence. "Have I told you," he 
said, "that I mean to give up art, to 
quit the whole bally business? Well! it 
is a fact. I have had the offer of an ex- 
cellent berth in my father's office, and I 
am going to accept it." 

"Why! why!" I cried, "what is all 
this coil?" 

"That is precisely what I am unable 
to explain," he replied. "I have simply 



lost my grip. I have forgotten how to 
paint, and that is all there is to it. I am 
in first-class shape physically and my 
brain-box doesn't show any unusual 
cracks; but for the past two months my 
work has been going from bad to worse. 
Every canvas is just a little more like 
punk than the preceding one. At first I 
gritted my teeth and worked all the 
harder; but the harder I worked the 
worse my things became. It's no use. I 
throw up the sponge." 
I dropped my palette and grasped him 
by the hand with an enthusiasm which 
must have appeared to him somewhat 
misplaced. "My dear fellow," I cried, 
"I congratulate you. If your pictures 
had not already shown you the consum- 
mate painter, you have just given the 
most incontrovertible proof of the fact. 
You are simply soaked in temperament. 
Get down on your knees, my boy, and 



thank your lucky stars for that. If the 
pendulum has swung unconscionably 
low at present, you may rest assured that 
it will swing all the higher on the return 
stroke. The only man who never doubts 
himself, who plugs stolidly on to his 
goal, deviating neither to right nor to 
left, is the man who is born wholly with- 
out temperament. If he never falls to 
any depths of despair, neither does he 
rise to any heights of glory; and if he 
is never supremely miserable, on the 
other hand he is never supremely happy. 
He is simply the good, honest bromide ; 
the very salt of the earth, if you will, 
and its balance-wheel ; but never by any 
conceivable possibility could he be an 
artist. Your present depression is simply 
the price that you pay for the immense 
joy which is yours during the full tide of 
creative production. So take your medi- 
cine like a man. Also take a drink if you 



need it, but let us hear no more of this 
drivel about giving up art." 

As artists grow older, and after a dozen 
repetitions of the same experience, they 
come to regard this recurrent waxing 
and waning of the divine flame as a 
normal condition of their being; and 
presently they recognize the fits of de- 
pression as periods of incubation, out of 
which they are apt to emerge with added 
strength, with some new light on diffi- 
cult problems that have long harassed 
them. They also discover that these off 
times can be very profitably employed 
in many ways in absorbing the great 
literature of the world for instance, a 
pleasure for which they have scant 
leisure at other times; in studying the 
great masters of painting and delving 
after the secret of their greatness; and 
last, but not least, in simple physical 
relaxation and recuperation tramps 



across the hills or bouts on the golf-links 
the eye always open and the mind 
passively but delightfully receptive. 

One of our very greatest painters, who 
is now gone, never learned this impor- 
tant lesson. When the flame burned low, 
and work lagged, he drank coffee to 
stimulate his tired nerves. When even 
this failed to rouse the exhausted ener- 
gies he had recourse to alcohol, and 
when finally the great work was com- 
pleted the painter was often launched 
upon a spree of a fortnight's duration. It 
thus happens that a man who tempera- 
mentally disliked alcohol, who was nor- 
mally one of the gentlest and soberest of 
men, has gone down in history as a 
roysterer and a dipsomaniac. He burned 
himself out before his time; but in thus 
recklessly using up his vital energies, he 
produced a series of wonderful pictures 
that will remain for all time one of the 



chief glories of our day. In the final 
summing up, when reputations are re- 
sorted and re-classed, he will be given 
his true place; and it will be the place 
of a great if a mistaken hero. 

But most of us have now grown wiser. 
In either literature or art it is no longer 
considered necessary unduly to burn the 
midnight oil or to wear the hair long. 
And when the inevitable fits of temper- 
amental depression are upon us we have 
learned that the only thing to do is to 
keep a level head, to see things in their 
true proportions, and to trust in the 
Lord to be a philosopher, in a word. 
I do not mean a philosopher of the cold 
and aristocratic Nietzsche type, nor a 
pessimist like Schopenhauer, but a gen- 
ial, sane, and whole-souled optimist like 
Socrates. All true philosophers are lev- 
ellers levellers up as well as down. A 
condition of affairs which might loom 



portentous and threatening to the man 
in the street, such an one would receive 
with a smile of gentle humor, for he 
would see through the disguise and 
know it as a harmless humbug; while 
something else which to the ordinary 
mortal might appear a mere triviality 
he would lift gravely into a place of 
high honor, divining its fundamental 
seriousness and importance. 

These regularly recurring fits of de- 
pression seem to depend in no wise upon 
the state of the bodily health. In Robert 
Louis Stevenson and Theodore Robin- 
son we have examples of wonderful 
temperamental resilience coupled with 
wretched physical condition. 

In fact, as a noted painter once said to 
me, "These semi-invalids neither need 
nor deserve our commiseration, for in 
reality the beggars have the advantage 
of us. Their nerves are always sensitive 



and keyed to pitch, while we husky 
chaps have to flog ours up to the point. 
We must dig painfully through the 
outer layers of flesh and muscle before 
we can get at the spirit, while the in- 
valids are all spirit. Personally, I know 
that my best work is always done the 
morning after a spree, when I come to 
the studio a bit shaky and with the 
nerves all on edge." 
Although this highly immoral state- 
ment was evidently made largely with 
a view to picturesque effect, it did, 
nevertheless, enunciate a truth that has 
generally escaped attention ; for it is 
quite true that (given sufficient strength 
to drag the body about) physical weak- 
ness is not an insuperable bar to success 
in art. Very frail men and very frail 
women have achieved distinction in 
various artistic callings. This, however, 
applies more particularly to the seden- 



tary arts, such as writing, musical com- 
position, and certain lines of craftswork : 
for the painter, and especially the land- 
scape painter, must sometimes cover 
miles with his legs in the course of his 
day's work. We all know also that a 
robust physique is essential to success 
on the operatic stage. 

Nor do the spells of depression of 
which we are speaking appear to derive 
in any way from the dominating and 
conscious portion of our brains the 
part which under great physical or emo- 
tional strain sometimes loses its balance; 
for there are cases of artists who have 
become insane and have still remained 
great artists. A noted example of this 
kind was the Spaniard Goya. The char- 
acter of his subjects was affected by his 
loss of mental control, naturally. They 
became ghastly and often incoherent. 
This was what might have been ex- 


Ben Foster " Early Moonrise" 


pected. But the fundamental tempera- 
mental quality of his art remained great 
to the end. The temperamental man, 
dwelling deep down below the surface, 
had not been affected by the storm 
which had played havoc with the sur- 
face nature. 

We are therefore forced irresistibly to 
the conclusion that temperament re- 
sides in the emotional, in other words, 
in the sub-conscious nature of man. 
When the temperamental energy gives 
out, and the artist loses his grip, the 
strong probability is that he has, with- 
out knowing it, overworked the sub- 
conscious servant; and if this ever- 
faithful helper fails to respond to the 
demands made upon him, it is through 
no unwillingness to serve the master, but 
because of utter exhaustion and inability 
to react. 

If therefore we regard these periods 



of temperamental depression as incom- 
prehensible, it is because we have come 
to look upon the conscious, reasoning 
part of our intelligence as the sole source 
of mental energy, whereas it is only one 
factor in the complicated organism 
which we know as the human ego. If 
we cared to push still further our re- 
searches along this same line, we might 
claim that above and beyond both the 
conscious and the sub-conscious natures 
of man lives the animating and con- 
trolling essence from which both must 
draw their power, and which, for lack 
of a better nomenclature, we call the 
human soul. But this is the job of the 
psychologist, not of the artist. 



IF you should ask a dozen painters 
what mental qualification was most 
essential to an artist's success, the 
chances are that every man of them 
would reply " temperament " in other 
words, genius and imagination. Trans- 
posed, these terms all mean the same 
thing a peculiarly sensitive sub-con- 
scious organization one that is at once 
keenly alive to beauty, and capable of 
that rapid and intuitive coordination of 
impressions whose visible and tangible 
result is the work of genius. And in 
a way the painters would be right; for 
without temperament no man can be 
an artist; but temperament alone will 



not suffice. If I were myself asked to 
supply a formula for the making of an 
artist, my receipt would be, one part 
genius and nine parts hard work. I 
sometimes glance back to my student 
days and wonder what has become of 
all the clever and brilliant chaps over 
whose easels the rest of us were used to 
hang in awe and admiration. One by 
one they have all dropped out. Things 
came too easy to them. They were not 
obliged to "plug" and "grind," and so 
they never learned their trade. Their 
places have been taken by others the 
plodders who stuck to their studies 
throughout the whole week with grim 
determination, dropping their brushes 
only at the stroke of twelve on Saturday. 
One ugly duckling in particular I re- 
member well. His work was so hope- 
less that the whole Latin Quarter was 
sincerely sorry for him. Finally his 



master in despair urged him to give 
up art and go into the grocery line. 
That man is at present one of the 
most famous artists of the day a 
truly great painter. Down deep in his 
nature, of course, he had temperament. 
He could not have achieved his distin- 
guished place in art without it. But he 
also had character; character, which 
means the ability to work when it 
would be easier to play; the ability to 
say "No," when it would be far easier 
to say "Yes"; the ability to stand out 
in the sun and sweat over a study when 
it would be so much pleasanter to lie 
in the shade and read a book; the abil- 
ity to live on a dollar a week and be con- 
tent; the ability to surrender all of the 
little present pleasures of life, in order 
one day to achieve that greater pleasure 
which comes with success in one's 
chosen profession. 



I met recently a schoolboy companion 
who as a man has won an enviable posi- 
tion in life. He told me that at one time 
he was a cub engineer in the employ of 
Andrew Carnegie. An important part of 
one of the important machines having 
broken, he was detailed to secure a 
duplicate fitting, with stringent orders 
to return with the missing part before 
nightfall. He hustled off with the deter- 
mination to make a record, and scoured 
both Pittsburg and Allegheny City 
without result. He then telephoned to 
Cincinnati, Cleveland and Louisville 
with no better success. Finally he called 
up New York; and there at last got on 
the track of the much wanted cam. He 
could have caught a late afternoon 
train and been back in the morning, 
but, all things considered, he thought 
it would be best to report at head- 
quarters, and then take the midnight 



express if ordered to do so. He was 
pretty proud of himself on the whole, 
and did not mind having missed his 
dinner. Seeking out Mr. Carnegie he 
started in to tell him all that he had 
done in his strenuous day. The iron- 
master interrupted him brusquely. 

"Young man," he said, "I care no- 
thing for explanations. I demand re- 
sults. I will give you another twenty- 
four hours. If by that time you have 
not procured the cam, you leave the 

My friend left the iron master's pres- 
ence somewhat crestfallen; but he then 
and there made up his mind to demand 
as much of himself in future as was 
now demanded of him. He never failed 
again in a serious undertaking; and he 
rose to be one of the chief steel experts 
of the country, with an income any- 
where from $50,000 to $100,000 a year. 



Now if that kind of character and de- 
termination are necessary to success in 
business life, they are infinitely more 
necessary to an artist. He has no task- 
master to hold him to his job. He is the 
slave of no factory bell or whistle. No 
desk or office calls him daily at 9 A. M. 
He is as free as the air to come and go 
as he likes, and when he likes. He can 
work as little or as much as he pleases. 
He can loaf at his own sweet will. And 
for this very reason, he is in honor 
bound to work, and to work hard and 
seriously. It is a case of noblesse oblige. 

Moreover, it is a case of necessity. If 
you would "arrive," you must work 
always to the limit of your force and 
just a little beyond. It is not all cakes 
and ale. There is no especial fun for 
instance in grinding away month after 
month, and year after year, at drawing, 
which is not your forte; in cramming 



up on values, refraction and other 
technical things which are not always 
remarkably interesting, but which you 
must have at your finger-ends before 
you can "let yourself go." And even 
when you have reached that happy 
stage, the necessity for hard and un- 
remitting labor has not ceased. Sargent 
will tell you that he has frequently 
scraped out a single head twenty times. 
For the optimistic student who looks 
forward to the happy time when the 
necessity for hard work shall be ended 
there is inscribed over the portals of 
the palace of art this special motto: 
"All hope abandon ye who enter here." 
A young painter once stood behind 
the veteran Jules Breton, while he was 
at work upon one of his important 
pictures his favorite subject of little 
maids in their white communion robes. 
It was delightful to observe the ease 



and dexterity of his every stroke. The 
youth spoke enviously of the joy it 
must be to have attained to his per- 
fect facility of technic and to know 
every time a picture was begun that it 
could be carried through easily to a suc- 
cessful end. 

"My dear boy," was the reply, "you 
will never reach that happy land here 
below. I sweat blood over every one of 
my pictures, and there is never a one 
that is not at some time a failure. Every 
new picture brings a new problem, and 
who knows if we may be able to solve 
it. But if there were no new problems 
we should all cease painting; for there 
would be no more art." 

The true artist, after all, is greedy 
for work. He needs no spur to goad 
him to his best endeavor. The danger 
lies upon the other side. Cazin used to 
say, "An artist has no time to care for 



his health." And this is literally true; 
for the conditions of artistic creation 
often demand that a painter or a sculp- 
tor shall frequently work far beyond the 
limits of his strength during a long 
period shall draw heavy drafts upon 
the future; and these drafts must either 
be paid by a shortened life, or made up 
later by prolonged periods of rest. As 
it is not possible for the artist to work 
as other men work, a given number of 
hours each day, this hardest of all 
workers frequently gains the reputation 
of being an idler. 

I cannot think , however, that erratic 
hours are either necessary or excusable 
in the routine of student life. The stu- 
dent's business is to learn all he can 
to train the sub-conscious servant to be 
the valuable helper that he must needs 
be later on ; and this can be done day by 
day with as much adherence to regular 



hours as the business man demands of 
his assistants. Moreover, the habit thus 
acquired will tend to reduce to a mini- 
mum the irregularity which to a certain 
extent is inevitable later on. Let the 
student who feels within his soul the 
divine fire of genius beware of pitfalls. 
If he is wise, he will bottle up that fire 
for future use, and in the meantime 
apply himself (like the diligent appren- 
tice) to the acquisition of knowledge. 



IN reply to the above question almost 
any painter would reply "mine own"; 
and if the particular painter to whom 
the question is put chances to be gifted 
with sufficient temperament, backed by 
a sufficient training, his claim might 
very well be justified. But there is an 
equal chance that his judgment would 
be at fault in the matter, for artists 
are notoriously the poorest judges of 
their own work. All painters willingly 
concede the correctness of this state- 
ment as applied to their brother ar- 
tists, but there are few, indeed, who 
will admit its justice when applied to 
themselves. If this were otherwise the 



rule which has for years made the ex- 
hibitions of the National Academy of 
Design the poorest of their kind in the 
United States that provision which ex- 
empts from the action of the jury certain 
pictures entered by Academicians and 
Associates would long since have been 
abrogated; for, just as no man willingly 
or wittingly writes himself down an 
ass, so no painter would wittingly brand 
himself a duffer. In spite of this pe- 
culiar personal blindness (which seems 
to be incidental to the artistic tempera- 
ment) when it comes to the work of 
other artists, painters are the best judges 
of painting. Of course due allowance 
must be made for personal idiosyn- 
crasy and variation of taste. In art, as 
in music or gastronomy, taste varies 
infinitely according to individual tem- 
perament, or training. But just as a wise 
gourmet, to whose palate terrapin makes 



no special appeal, would not, for that 
only reason, deny it a place upon the bill 
of fare, so no sensible painter would 
deny the artistic value of a Japanese 
print or a Persian rug simply because 
he does not happen to make that brand 
of art. Indeed, if there is any one rule 
for the judgment of works of art whose 
application is universal, it is that which 
demands of a picture, a print or a 
keramic that it shall differ from all 
other work in the same line, that it shall 
bear the impress not only of race but of 
individual personality within the racial 
limits. For it is the personality which 
makes the art. Nature, however beau- 
tiful, is not art. Art is natural beauty 
interpreted through human tempera- 

Here, then, we have at least one in- 
fallible test, which can be applied to 
any work under discussion that it 



shall be clearly and strongly stamped 
with the personality of its maker, so 
that we may know without asking that 
a drawing is by Hokusai, or a painting 
by Velasquez, Whistler, or Winslow 
Homer. And originality thus expressed 
is only another word for sincerity. 
Sincerity used in this sense, however, 
is far from meaning a slavish or me- 
chanical copy of nature. The highest 
form of sincerity is truth to the artist's 
own personal vision of beauty. 

All true art is the direct result of anal- 
ysis and synthesis on the part of the 
artist whether instinctive, or accom- 
plished with a clear conception of the 
work to be done. Having analyzed nat- 
ure's suggestive motive, the artist is at 
liberty in the synthetic building up of 
his work to use as many or as few of the 
elements as his personal sense of 
beauty tells him will be necessary to 



the work in hand. He can employ 
the whole scale or he can reduce his 
choice to the few conventional symbols 
used in a beautiful Persian rug; the 
only imperative law being that he shall 
go direct to nature for his inspiration; 
the inevitable penalty of failure in this 
respect being the limbo of the imitator 
the loss of all freshness, spontaneity, 
and personality. With this one restric- 
tion the artist's latitude is practically 
unlimited, for in a general sense art is 
any object made by man which is con- 
ceded by his fellow-man to be beautiful. 
In regard to the picture, it is difficult 
to foresee at present just how far the 
average cultivated person will follow 
the artist into the region of pure sym- 
bolism ; how few of the elements he will 
demand, and how much his own im- 
agination will supply. When we remem- 
ber that less than a generation ago the 



work of Corot and of Millet was near- 
ly incomprehensible to the cultivated 
French public; that even the artist juries 
refused it admission to the Salon; that 
twenty years since those who freely ac- 
cepted the work of Monet and Sisley 
were few indeed, we may confidently 
look forward to a time when only the 
most essential symbols of beauty will 
be required of the artist. But what 
exact direction this synthetic develop- 
ment will take we can only conjecture at 
the present time. Whether Matisse and 
his followers in France to-day are the 
true prophets crying in the wilder- 
ness the future alone can demonstrate. 
If this group finally makes good it will 
be because they have discovered some- 
thing which is fundamentally true and 
human, something which is sincerely (if 
blindly) desired by the race at large. It 
is quite certain that no abnormality 



masquerading under the name of the 
"art of the future" will win a perma- 
nent place in the regards of humanity. 
The beauty which is to endure must be 
sane and wholesome, because the human 
race is sound at heart and can be 
counted upon in the long run to reject 
anything which is essentially unhealthy 
or decadent. 

In the meantime all our aesthetic ex- 
perience points to the fact that the new 
beauty does not destroy our love or 
appreciation of the old. A picture by 
Rembrandt or Velasquez meets to-day 
with as much admiration as if the 
"luminarist" or the "symbolist" school 
had not arisen. A thing that is once 
truly beautiful is always beautiful; and 
the painters of to-day can remain calmly 
confident that if they are true to their 
own ideals and to the spirit of their 
times, their output will be accorded the 



same meed of praise by future genera- 
tions that we to-day give to the work of 
the old masters. 




WHEN instantaneous photography was 
first discovered, some thirty years ago, 
high hopes of it were entertained by 
the artists. It was thought, for instance, 
that it would prove of inestimable value 
to such painters as Meissonier and 
Schreyer, men who delighted to portray 
the horse in violent action. But to the 
surprise of everybody these great ex- 
pectations were not fulfilled. At first, 
the artists themselves were puzzled to 
account for this and to explain why the 
curiously contorted attitudes now dis- 
closed for the first time, conveyed so 
little the impression of motion. But 
when the instantaneous photographs 



were subjected to a process of selec- 
tion and elimination, it was finally dis- 
covered that there were practically but 
two instants in the stride of the gallop- 
ing horse that conveyed any idea of 
rapid flight to the human eye. The first 
of these was at the very beginning of 
the stride, when, with all four legs 
bunched together under the belly, the 
animal was preparing for the forward 
leap; and the second was at the end of 
the impulse, when, with legs out- 
stretched to the limit, the horse was 
ready to take the ground again for 
another stride. Both of these periods, 
it will be seen, were the instants of 
arrest of motion instants when the hu- 
man eye could readily seize the action 
without the intervention of the kodak. 
Then at last was perceived the funda- 
mental law which underlay the phe- 
nomenon: the human eye, and the hu- 


Emil Carlsen " Landscape " 


man brain behind it, declined to accept 
as a symbol of motion anything which 
the eye had not been able to see for and 
by itself unaided. In this case, of course, 
it was only during the two instants of 
arrest of motion that the eye had been 
able to note the position of the horse's 
limbs. And these two positions of com- 
parative inaction had, through long as- 
sociation, become the permanent and 
fixed symbols of action in the racing 
horse. The kodak had revealed hitherto 
unsuspected facts and aspects of mo- 
tion, but the eye would have none of 
them, and clung only to that which was 

It was this experience with the earliest 
kodaks which finally made plain the 
reason why, from time out of mind, ar- 
tists desiring to convey the concept of 
motion had instinctively chosen the end 
or the beginning of the stroke or im- 



pulse the axe poised in mid-air ready 
for its downward sweep, or the stroke 
completed in the heart of the tree the 
lifting wave poised for the fall, or the 
breaker that has crashed to its turbulent 
end upon the beach. Shortly also, it 
began to be seen that the marine 
painter who depended upon the kodak 
for his drawing, lost all sense of motion 
in the waves, that the wind-blown 
drapery of a photograph was nearly as 
rigid as a sheet of crumpled tin; that 
the impression, in fact, which the eye 
received from nature was not that which 
was rendered by the camera; and that, 
therefore, the human brain could never 
accept the photograph as a thoroughly 
satisfactory transcript of nature. 
It is to be feared that the hopes which 
are at present being built upon color- 
photography are doomed to like disap- 
pointment for the simple reason that 



the photographic lens in no way resem- 
bles the lens of the human eye. The 
very fact that it is a more perfect instru- 
ment is against it. It gives us scientific 
facts; and scientific facts are generally 
artistic lies. Art has nothing to do with 
things as they are, but only with things 
as they appear to be, with the visual not 
the actual, with impressions, not with 
realities. It is a scientific fact, for in- 
stance, that trees are green, and yet it 
is only under the rarest combination of 
favoring circumstances that a tree is 
really green to the visual sense. It is 
much more likely to be pearly-gray or 
royal-purple or rich amber or sapphire- 
blue, according as it happens to be seen 
under the pale effulgence of dawn, the 
shimmering blaze of noonday, the gold- 
en glow of sunset or the azure mystery 
of night. And it is the same with every 
other landscape feature under the great 



blue arch of heaven. Each rock, each 
tree, each waving field of grain has, of 
course, its fixed and definite local color, 
but the appearance of each of these ob- 
jects changes a thousand times a day. 
And it is with this equation this fleet- 
ing, intangible, ever-shifting, ever-vary- 
ing appearance, that artists have to do. 
The facts of nature are to him nothing, 
the mood everything. 

By an ironical chance he has it in his 
power to convince the most uncom- 
promising and unimaginative scientific 
purist of the truth of his statement that 
the most unquestionable facts of science 
are often the most shameless of visual 
lies and this by the simplest sort of a 
scientific demonstration. In the dia- 
gram on page 213, two upright lines of 
equal length are traced side by side, 
and near enough together to allow of 
easy visual comparison. To No. 1 have 



been affixed at top and bottom a pair of 
divergent wings extending upward and 
downward away from the centre. To 
No. 2 the same wings have been affixed, 

No. x. No. a. 

but their direction has been reversed so 
that they extend toward the centre of 
the diagram instead of away from it. 
Now no amount of didactic statement 
will convince the human eye that those 
two central lines are of the same length. 



Here the scientific fact has become a 
visual lie. If an artist should by any 
chance be using these two forms as 
units in a decorative frieze wherein it 
was essential that they should be of the 
same length, he would unhesitatingly 
lengthen the central line of No. 2 and 
shorten that of No. 1, so that visually 
they would become equal; and in so 
doing he would be telling the truth in 
his own way; whereas had he allowed 
the foot-rule to control him he would 
have been guilty of an artistic lie. 

The Greek architects, observing that 
the horizontal architrave surmounting 
the columns on their temples appeared 
to sag, corrected the fault by giving 
their architrave a slightly upward arch, 
thus by means of a curve securing a 
straight line; or at least a line which was 
architecturally and visually straight. 

Here then clearly lies the division line 



between science and art the one gives 
us actual truths, the other visual truths ; 
the one facts, the other moods, impres- 
sions, visions; each in its place admi- 
rable, each ministering to one of the two 
great needs of humanity, the physical 
and the spiritual. If only a pact could 
be signed between them, by the terms of 
which each should agree to abide peace- 
ably within the bounds of its own legiti- 
mate sphere, all would be well. But alas! 
science is a conscienceless freebooter. 
So much the sturdier of the two, he 
encroaches constantly on the domain of 
art; insists on recognition where he has 
no right to a hearing, and monopolizes 
the whole front of the stage. Even the 
artists are unable to escape his impor- 
tunities; and the younger ones especi- 
ally are often misled and lured to a 
false allegiance. 
This is small wonder of course, when 



you remember that ever since the day 
of our birth we have been storing our 
minds with thousands upon thousands 
of facts very useful facts, too, in their 
way, facts whose possession and un- 
conscious daily use are essential to our 
very physical existence. But when, as 
artists, we go into the open, to study 
and to dream, they rise before us like a 
miasma, a deadly cloud that obscures 
the whole face of nature ; so that we see 
the landscape not as it is, but as we 
have been taught in some former stage 
of existence that it should be. 

Among the facts that have thus been 
clamped upon us there are two alas! 
which have been learned by everybody 

that trees are green and that the sky 
is blue. It matters not that the sky is 
often pale green, or violet, or pearl-gray 
or opal, blue it is painted forever and 
forever; and the trees are painted green 



Birge Harrison "Woodstock Meadows in Winter'* 


And these blue and green monstrosities 
not only find a ready sale but much 
loving appreciation. There are in the 
world so many others who as children 
learned that the sky was blue and the 
trees were green and have never since 
opened their eyes. To tell the truth, so 
strong is the hold upon us of these 
early traditions that it takes many years 
of the severest training to overcome 
them. In many cases, and not infre- 
quently in the case of some truly great 
painter, the fifty-year mark is chalked 
up against him before the scales fall 
utterly from his eyes and he is able at 
length to look out straight before him 
with a vision that is clear and unob- 
scured. Take my word for it, technique 
is not the difficult thing in art. Any 
reasonably capable youth can readily 
master all of the technical problems in 
existence in a few short months, but it 



requires many a long and weary year 
to learn to see. 

And to think that but for those stored- 
up facts it would all have been so easy. 
If painters, gazing upon nature, could 
only look forth with the simplicity of a 
new-born child, which opens its eyes 
for the first time on a fresh and virgin 
world, the principal problem of art 
would be solved in an instant. Give us, 
Oh, Lord! to see! and we will find the 
means of expression. 

It is a simple platitude to say that an 
artist can always paint as much as he 
sees. All of the fumbling, and struggle, 
and hard work connected with a pict- 
ure comes of the effort to see just a 
little more, just a little better. Tech- 
nique truly is mere child's play. It is a 
question, moreover, if too much tech- 
nique is not a serious handicap to any 
artist if indeed it does not tend to 



degrade him to the level of the mere 
handcraftsman. At any rate, Millet's 
previously quoted saying to the effect 
that technique should never open shop 
for itself, that it should always hide 
modestly behind the idea to be ex- 
pressed is one of the eternal truths of 
art. In the work of his own great period 
the technique is so rough as to prove 
conclusively his personal contempt for 
mere surface quality. And this crudity 
must have been voluntary. We may go 
even further and say that it was inten- 
tional; for in his own brilliant youth 
there were none so clever, none so ha- 
bile as he. 

In the case of our own Winslow Homer 
also, the thing to be said is often so 
vital, the vision so clear-cut, that al- 
though the paint is simply flung at the 
canvas, we don't care a fig. The mood 
has been rendered the message has 



carried, and we do not stop to consider 
the phraseology. 

But, as I have before intimated, each 
painter must look at all times out of 
his own eyes, and not through the eyes 
of his brother. In fact, in the modern 
scheme of things, the artist is the last 
rank individualist to survive. For him 
the merger and the combination spell 
ruin. Again we insist, and insist yet 
once again, that the very essence and 
marrow of art is personality. Any sur- 
render of personality, therefore, can 
lead only to one goal the abyss of 
artistic worthlessness. 

Under these circumstances it becomes 
interesting to inquire just how much 
the young painter may accept with 
safety from his master ; in what manner 
he may best acquire the thorough and 
intimate knowledge of technique which 
is so essential to his success, without 



sacrifice of that personal integrity which 
is still more essential. Let us at once 
concede the fact that there is no perfect 
system of art instruction. But without 
question the system most nearly ap- 
proaching the ideal is that which has 
the great art school or institute for its 
central idea. To begin with, students 
learn much more from each other than 
they do from their masters. The con- 
stant attrition and stimulation, the 
wholesome emulation of the school 
keeps every mental fibre on the full 
jump, every nerve alive and tingling. 
The progress made by each helps the 
other forward. The student sees here 
a technical point, there a trick or an 
idea, and, like the young barbarian 
that he is, he promptly appropriates 
them all to his own use. And this is 
just so much to the good, for the cal- 
low cub is putting on technique much 



as . a young animal puts on flesh. The 
system has only one serious draw- 
back. The tendency of all schools is to 
develop a school. This is bad, because 
the whole intent of art training should 
be to develop individual artists, each 
differing from the other to the full 
breadth and extent of personal tem- 
perament. This danger, it is true, arises 
only toward the end of the school period 
when the youths' eyes are at last open 
and they are beginning to "take notice" 
of things about them. But it is neverthe- 
less a very genuine and menacing dan- 
ger, which is to be guarded against and 
combated in every way possible. 

When in the course of human events 
it came my own turn to fulfil the uni- 
versal duty of the older to the younger 
generation, I had this danger writ large 
before me. One day there came the in- 
evitable little deputation of students, 



asking if the master would kindly con- 
sent to paint a study before the class, 
"just to show the way he would go 
about it" to obtain this effect or that. 
My reply, I remember, was somewhat 
brusque. "Not on your life," I said. "I 
will tell you all that I know of the fun- 
damental principles which underlie all 
good art, and which are everywhere 
and eternally the same. I will tell you 
also as much as I personally know of 
the infinite variety of technical meth- 
ods which abound in oil painting, 
and from which it is yours to select 
at will such as may best suit the tem- 
perament or the personal point of view 
of each of your number. But I will 
never do you the unkind service of 
putting you in the way to imitate a 
technique which, though serviceable to 
me personally, could no more fit your 
aesthetic needs than would an old coat 



of mine fit your bodies. Remember that 
art is nature as the artist sees it, and it 
is no more possible for two human 
beings to see nature in the same way 
than for the same two people to have 
exactly similar features. As our brains 
vary, so does our point of view. Cling 
desperately to your own vision, there- 
fore. Accept no advice, take no criticism 
that does not harmonize with it. In this 
way only can you hope to be original. 
Turn the mind to nature like a mirror 
and let it reflect exactly what is thrown 
upon it. He who attempts to improve 
upon nature either lacks judgment or 
is endowed with a conceit so colossal 
that there is no health in him. Be 
reverent before nature and honest with 
yourself, and your art will ring true 
every time. All of you, it is true, will 
not sing the song of the nightingale, 
because you were not all born nightin- 



gales; but the blackbird's lay is sweet, 
and the thrush and the oriole fill the 
woods with melody. Even the homely 
robin and the linnet have modest little 
notes of their own which are pleasant to 
the ear of a dewy April morning. Of 
all the songsters in creation there is 
only one, I believe, whose lay is uni- 
versally condemned and that is the 

The greater the artist, I think, the 
more certain is he to cling religiously to 
nature, not only for his inspiration, but 
for the actual material of his creations. 
Rodin not long since said to an inter- 
viewer, "All my attention as an artist 
is devoted to reproducing exactly what 
I see in nature. I do not endeavor to 
'express something.' Those who have a 
pre-conceived idea an inspiration as 
they call it are seldom able to render 
their ideal. Those, on the contrary, who 



charm us by their talent have done 
nothing throughout the ages but repro- 
duce nature. They copy as closely as 
ever they can the most beautiful, the 
most admirable, the most perfect thing 
in the world which is nature." 

This does not mean, however, that an 
artist must necessarily be a mere ma- 
chine, that he has no intellectual liberty 
of choice in regard to what he shall rep- 
resent and how he shall represent it. 
Art includes every object of intrinsic 
beauty that was ever created by human 
hands. The Turkish rug, the Chinese 
keramic, the Moorish carving, the Jap- 
anese color-print and the Gothic cathe- 
dral are just as truly art in the highest 
sense as the Greek marble or the mod- 
ern painting. But there are certain lim- 
its beyond which an artist may not step, 
and all art which has attained to great- 
ness has been the sincere expression, 



not only of the individual artist, but of 
the race to which he belongs, and the 
epoch in which he lives. It will not do 
for Americans to make Oriental rugs or 
Japanese color-prints; and we have all 
seen and deplored the Japanese at- 
tempt to assimilate and reproduce our 
own occidental art have shuddered 
indeed at the brilliant and hollow shell 
without a soul. Is it not enough for us 
to admire without attempting to imi- 
tate, to surround ourselves with the 
beauty of all ages and all peoples while 
calmly pursuing the type of beauty 
which it is given to us to see as none 
others have been able to see it ? Now, 
if I am not much mistaken, the form of 
beauty which appeals to us as it has 
appealed to no other race in any other 
epoch of the world's history is the 
poetry of out-of-door nature, her mys- 
tery, and her ever- vary ing and shifting 



moods. Surely in this wide field there 
remains to us a sufficient latitude of 
choice both as regards the subjects we 
shall paint and the manner in which 
we shall render our impressions. It is 
always open to us to choose our direc- 
tion. In each of us there is a Dr. Jekyll 
and a Mr. Hyde, and in art as in life 
it depends on ourselves which shall rule. 
When I was a student in Paris away 
back in the seventies, a group of young 
artists who were at that time making 
some stir in the art world asserted with 
a great deal of unnecessary noise and 
bluster that good painting could glorify 
the most revolting subject. The sub- 
ject was nothing, the craftsmanship 
everything. I remember that I was 
temporarily caught up in the swirl of 
the movement and that for a time I 
ran with the shouting iconoclasts; and 
the memory of this makes me still le- 


From a photograph, copyright by N. E. Montross 

W. L. Lathrop "At Dusk" 


nient with any youngster who raises the 
old cry false as it is. It is a phase 
one of the growing pains of adolescence 
which are normal and to be expected. 
If we only remember that, we shall have 
no cause to worry. I believe that every 
young painter must at some time wor- 
ship at the shrine of technique, just as 
every youth who is to grow up to true 
and generous manhood must at some 
period of his boyish career be a socialist. 
But it is a sign of mental atrophy of 
arrested development, when the youth 
or the artist fails to graduate out of 
this chrysalis stage. 

Nature is not all beautiful by any 
means. But why should we choose to 
perpetuate her ugly side ? I believe it to 
be one of the artist's chief functions, 
as it should be his chief delight, to 
watch for the rare mood when she wafts 
aside the veil of the commonplace and 



shows us her inner soul in some be- 
wildering vision of poetic beauty. I 
should not care personally to hold a 
brief for the opponents of this view 
nor should I know how to support it. 
Yet a painter of world- wide reputation 
once said to me that he positively hated 
a picture in which there was a moon. 
He declared that any picture which de- 
pended for its appeal upon the beauty 
of the subject was weak-kneed art, pub- 
licly advertising its own weakness. The 
very perfection of craftsmanship could 
not save such a picture, he said. The 
best and only answer to this sincere 
critique is that the painter who made 
it has remained all his life a craftsman 
a craftsman of the highest distinc- 
tion if you will, but never an artist. 

Now from all that has been said above, 
it would appear that originality must 
be the easiest of all qualities to attain. 



But this is, unfortunately, not the case. 
The facility is only apparent. The hard 
and sober reality is that the personal 
note is the most difficult of all things 
for an artist to grasp and to hold. It 
is only necessary to count over the 
number of our truly original artists 
(it can be done upon the ten fingers) 
to see how true this statement is. One 
of the oldest of our proverbs says that 
to err is human. It is also human, un- 
fortunately, to be a sheep to do as 
you see others do to imitate the thing 
which you admire; and the sad result 
of this is that few ever learn to see the 
thing which lies out in the sunlight 
under their own very eyes. And this is 
why originality why true impression- 
ism will ever remain one of the rarest 
and most precious qualities in art. 

Now it has doubtless been objected 
that the present chapter, while profess- 



ing to deal with impressionism, says 
mighty little about the impressionists. 
But I have failed singularly in my in- 
tention if, by this time, I have not 
made it clear that anyone who honestly 
and sincerely records his impressions 
of nature is in the truest sense an im- 
pressionist that Velasquez and Titian 
and Rembrandt were as truly impres- 
sionists as were Manet or Monet or 
Sisley because, in the canvases of 
these great masters of the Renaissance, 
there rings the true note of personality 
proof positive of their honesty, their 
reverence, and their humility before 
nature. To tell the truth, the so-called 
French impressionists were far more ac- 
curately termed luminarists, or painters 
of light. Their special achievement in 
art was a purely technical triumph 
the discovery that by the use of broken 
color in its prismatic simplicity the 



pulsating, vibrating effect of light could 
be transferred to the surface of a can- 
vas. But they were neither the fathers 
of impressionism nor were they es- 
pecially distinguished in this line. As 
a matter of fact, they were somewhat 
deficient in the quality of personal 
vision, and their rage to secure the 
effect of light at all hazards led to a 
certain monotony of technique which 
tended to blunt the personal note in 
their work. 




WE hear with increasing frequency 
to-day the statement that art is uni- 
versal and without a country; that, 
being the record of abstract beauty, it 
cannot be confined within stated geo- 
graphical limits; that the terms "French 
art," "English art," etc., are therefore 
absurd. Art is art tout bonnement, and 
that is all there is to it. 

According to these critics, the mere 
fact that a man with the temperamental 
sense of beauty chances to be born in 
France or in Holland does not neces- 
sarily make him a French or a Dutch 
painter. If the Frenchman were brought 
up in Holland, and the Hollander in 

* Reprinted by consent of the North American Review. 


France, the Frenchman would then in- 
evitably belong to the Dutch school and 
the Dutchman would develop as a 
French impressionist. Each, being tem- 
peramentally sensitive to beauty, would 
simply respond to the appeal of his en- 

Now, if this is correct, there could, of 
course, be no such thing as American 
art. But that there is such a thing an 
art which would have been impossible 
but for the evolution of the American 
man, as distinct from the men of Ger- 
many, France, Spain, or even England 
is precisely what I hope to demon- 
strate in this final chapter. And that 
this American art is destined to grow 
rapidly in power and distinction, until 
it occupies for its little time the fore- 
most place in the world of art, is not, I 
think, beyond the power of reasonable 



Let us first clear the ground by re- 
hearsing those points upon which both 
parties are agreed. 

All admit, of course, that art is the 
record of beauty in some one of its 
myriad forms, be it a Persian rug, a 
Japanese keramic, a Greek statue, or a 
modern oil-painting. In each case, if the 
beauty be of a sufficiently high order, the 
result is art. We all admit also that art 
is personality that nature is only the 
crude material from which art is made. 
This crude material must be fused in 
the alembic of the human soul, mixed 
with the alloy of temperament, and col- 
ored with the artist's personality before 
it can be poured out into the final mould 
and receive the name of art. It is the 
artist's personality, in other words, that 
makes the art. And just according to 
the beauty or the individuality of his 
temperament will be the beauty or the 



individuality of the artistic result. If he 
be a poet, like Corot, the result will be 
a poetic and delicate interpretation of 
nature. If he be a colorist, like Monti- 
celli, the result will be some such gor- 
geous mosaic of splendid color as that 
wonderful painter gave us. If he be a 
purist of the fine, clean-cut intellectual 
type, such as Saint- Gaudens, the result 
will be something akin to the Sherman 
monument that dignifies the entrance to 
Central Park in New York. 

But just here comes the dividing line 
between the contending factions. What 
is personality? One group declares 
that personality is simply temperament 
which plays freely within the artist's 
soul; and, working upon whatever 
chance material its environment affords, 
transmutes this crude material into the 
fine gold of art. The opposing group, 
while admitting that the basis of artistic 



personality is temperament, asserts that 
this temperament is bound hand and 
foot by the inherited traits and charac- 
teristics of a thousand ancestors, and 
that the Frenchman brought up in Hol- 
land would therefore always remain 
essentially a Frenchman, in spite of his 
Dutch surroundings. They claim also 
that racial personality is just as im- 
portant a factor in all good art as in- 
dividual personality. They assert, more- 
over, that no artist can possibly shake 
off the racial chains that bind him, and 
that any attempt to do so could only 
result in some monstrous hybrid or 
some feeble imitation not deserving the 
name of art. 

Each artist is, first of all, a unit of 
some specified human group or race. 
Therefore, if he truly and conscien- 
tiously records his own impressions, he 
will also record the accumulated im- 



pressions of the race to which he be- 
longs. That he does this is amply proved 
by the fact that any reasonably expert 
judge will tell you whether a picture 
belongs to the French or the Dutch or 
the Scandinavian school, without know- 
ing the name of the painter, or any- 
thing more of the picture than the can- 
vas itself discloses. 

It is impossible, therefore, to avoid 
the conclusion that racial individuality 
in art is fact and a very real and 
solid fact at that. In some of our mod- 
ern schools of painting, this racial char- 
acter is so strong as quite to dominate 
and submerge the individual note, so 
that it is often difficult to distinguish 
the work of one well-known painter 
from that of some equally celebrated 
fellow-artist. This is particularly true 
of the Dutch school, for instance. In 
fact, the whole art of the Netherlands 



is so intensely "Dutch" that we may 
know the characteristics of the Dutch 
people as well by studying their art as 
by reading all that has been written 
about them. 

Now, it is a curious thing that, while 
we in America have, for the past twenty 
years, been discussing the question of 
whether any such thing as a national 
school of art exists here, in Paris "VEcole 
Americaine" has for fully as long a time 
been recognized as a distinct school, 
with a marked personal note of its own. 
And it must be remembered that this 
verdict was based upon a very partial 
and imperfect knowledge of American 
art even as it then existed ; for the "Am- 
erican School," as it was known to the 
French writers of 1885, embraced only 
a certain number of young American 
artists who were living in France, and 
whose whole art training had been 


Charles Melville Dewey " October Evening " 


received in Paris under exclusively 
French influences. In spite of this fact, 
the French critics felt in the work of 
Sargent, of John Alexander, of Mel- 
chers, of Alexander Harrison and of 
Saint- Gaudens, an exotic note, anew 
point of view, whose chief characteristic 
was an unusual directness and clarity 
of vision, coupled with a corresponding 
simplicity of statement. 

A great French painter once said to 
me: 'You Americans have one ad- 
vantage over all others. You have no 
traditions. You can look straight at 
nature out of your own eyes, while our 
vision is clouded and obscured by the 
inheritance of a thousand years." 

If to the above list of names we add a 
few others Winslow Homer, Homer 
Martin, John La Farge, George Inness, 
Alexander H. Wyant, all those of 
painters who were at that time at the 



full height of their powers, but who 
were established at home on this side 
of the Atlantic it will be seen that the 
French were not mistaken in announc- 
ing the appearance on the Western 
horizon of a new and original school 
of art. 

Since the date above mentioned, art 
in America has made such rapid strides 
that a roll-call of American artists of 
the first class taken to-day would have 
to include three or four times as many 
names as could have been mustered in 
1885. And it is a significant fact that 
this increase in the number of American 
artists, and in the quality of their out- 
put, has been coincident with a phe- 
nomenal decrease in the number of 
really great artists at present practising 
abroad. This decrease has been par- 
ticularly marked in France, which, dur- 
ing the larger part of the nineteenth 



century, certainly led the world in all 
matters connected with art. Yet in 
France to-day we will search in vain 
for any such body of painters as made 
up the wonderful school of Barbizon, 
which, in the fifty years beginning with 
1830 and ending with 1880, gave the 
world the greatest art it has seen since 
the Italian, Dutch, and Spanish Re- 
naissance of the sixteenth century. 

It could hardly be expected, I suppose, 
that this glorious time of blossom and 
fruitage should repeat itself in France 
during our own time. Indeed, all history 
has shown that things do not so happen 
in the domain of art. Art is a plant 
whose seed germinates only under cer- 
tain special and favoring conditions. 
These conditions are really epochal in 
their character, and they rarely recur 
in the life of any one nation; or, if by 
some specially happy chance they do 



repeat themselves, it is only after the 
lapse of many centuries. 

To every energetic people there comes 
sooner or later a time of great material 
prosperity; it may be as the result of 
successful wars, of territorial expansion 
or of commercial supremacy. Whatever 
the cause, this period of prosperity is 
invariably accompanied by a tremen- 
dous mental stir and awakening, and 
this, in turn, is followed by a magni- 
ficent outburst of art, which lasts for 
fifty, or maybe a hundred years, and 
dies away as it came. 

Now, if ever in the history of the world 
conditions have been ripe for the birth 
of a great art movement, they are so in 
America to-day. Titanic forces have 
been at work for a century preparing 
the way, extracting untold wealth from 
a virgin soil; increasing this wealth an 
hundredfold by the help of marvellous 



scientific and mechanical genius; con- 
quering, with the irresistible impulse of 
a new people, every physical obstacle 
that lay in their way, and building up 
the richest and most powerful com- 
munity the world has ever known. Its 
early struggles are now apparently over, 
and its surplus wealth is daily increas- 
ing. The average of comfort is high and 
the physical well-being of the people 
seems practically assured. Whenever in 
the course of history a nation attains to 
this stage of development, it begins to 
reach out toward the ideal, to demand 
more of life and better than simple food 
and shelter. 

This is precisely what is taking place 
in America to-day. There is a growing 
demand for beauty in all its forms; for 
the adornment of our public buildings; 

for galleries of paintings and statuary, 
for museums containing porcelains, 



bronzes, textiles, prints and objects of 
art of all kinds a demand so insistent 
that our municipalities and our legisla- 
tures are everywhere beginning to re- 
spond to the call of the people. This 
movement, which may be said to have 
started a scant ten years ago, is spread- 
ing rapidly all over the country. To the 
art museums in cities of the first class, 
such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston, 
Chicago, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, have 
already been added museums or regu- 
lar yearly exhibitions in many cities of 
the second or third class. Among these 
may be mentioned Pittsburg, Worcester 
Buffalo, Toledo, Minneapolis, Kansas 
City, Atchison, Richmond, Charleston, 
Atlanta, Memphis, Oakland, and Seat- 
tle ; while every year a number of names 
is added to the list. Unless all signs fail, 
therefore, we may expect during the 
current century an unprecedented de- 



mand for art in the United States, and 
we are certainly justified in assuming 
that native artists of the first rank will 
arise to meet the demand. 

Conceding this much, it will be inter- 
esting, and also I think quite possible, 
to forecast the general trend of the 
movement and the general character of 
the new art for new it is bound to be. 

If the American painters of thirty 
years ago had been separated into two 
groups, the figure-painters on one side 
and the landscape men on the other, 
the balance would have been found to 
be fairly even. If the same thing were 
repeated to-day, fully two-thirds of our 
ablest painters would be found in the 
camp of the landscapists. This shifting 
of the balance is most significant, for 
it shows a new drift, a tendency on the 
part of our artists to carry their easels 
out into the open ; to paint, or to try to 



paint, all of the shimmering, iridescent 
effects that happen only under the great 
blue arch of the sky; the glory of the 
noonday sunlight, the pale beauty of 
the dawn, the golden glow of sunset and 
the brooding mystery of night. 

Why, we may ask, this change of di- 
rection ? The answer is simple : the art- 
ists have discovered that most of the 
unsolved problems of art lie in the open 
air. They know by instinct that art, to 
be alive, must move ever forward tow- 
ard some new goal. If it remains in one 
rut, it stagnates or dies. The end of 
every great art movement has come 
when its living, rushing, turbulent 
waters have been congealed into icy 
formulas rules of thumb by the use of 
which the mere artisan can produce a 
sort of "near-art" which is necessarily 
without vitality or charm. The true 
artist must always be an innovator, a 



pioneer in fresh fields, an adventurer 
seeking new Eldorados. If he now goes 
afield, therefore, it is because he knows 
that in the domain of indoor figure- 
painting there are few undiscovered 
countries. This branch of art was ex- 
ploited long ago by the old masters, and 
their achievements were so transcend- 
ent that any modern painter who sets 
out to equal or excel them in their own 
chosen line must be endowed with a 
large share of courage and self-confi- 

Another cause of this universal return 
to nature is doubtless the fact that our 
lives are not, humanly speaking, so 
beautiful as they once were. Our cloth- 
ing is no longer picturesque. The ad- 
vent of farm machinery has destroyed 
much of the pastoral and bucolic beauty 
of country life. The sowing and reaping 
and binding and threshing that were 



done by hand in the old days with such 
splendid rhythmic swing of muscle are 
now matters of revolving wheels and 
clattering chains and knives. Even our 
buildings have deteriorated at least 
from the artist's point of view; for the 
comfortable villa farmhouse of the 
present day does not cling lovingly to 
the soil and become part of the environ- 
ing landscape, as did the spreading, 
low-hung buildings of our fathers. And 
so, to quench the eternal thirst for 
beauty, we must needs return once 
more to kindly nature, whose beauty is 
exhaustless and everlasting. Her skies 
have lost none of their early crystal- 
line charm of color; her hills and her 
rock-bound coasts are as grand as ever; 
her trees, her rivers and her spread- 
ing fields are as beautiful and as ap- 
pealing now as in the days of Hesiod. 
But, precious beyond all other things, 



her exquisite and ever-varying effects 
that happen because of the change 
from night to day and from day to night 
again are spread out always before us, 
an endless feast of beauty for those who 
have eyes to see and minds to appre- 

Nevertheless, it is quite possible that, 
in the very changed conditions of our 
civilization, there may lurk wonderful 
and hitherto unsuspected opportunities 
for our future artists, and especially our 
figure-painters. There is certainly a 
strange picturesqueness in some of our 
modern steel mills, with their cyclopean 
forces at work against backgrounds of 
whirling steam and glowing furnace. 
Even our sky-scrapers have an unusual 
beauty of their own, and the sky-line of 
lower New York is far from being ugly 
or uninteresting. Another field that is 
replete with possibilities is the teeming 



and kaleidoscopic life of our city slums, 
which the inexorable law of migration 
has crowded with strange peoples from 
the far corners of the earth ; peoples who 
are as yet unassimilated, who still wear 
their exotic costumes and live their 
strange, foreign lives in our very midst. 
There has already been some attempt 
to use this exhaustless material (unfor- 
tunately, as yet, without adequate tech- 
nical skill), but when the trained master 
shall paint for us the life of our streets 
with all its vital and original character, 
we shall welcome his pictures as a price- 
less addition to the world's store of 
precious things. 

I have as yet made no mention of 
mural painting, which is, of course, des- 
tined to occupy a very important place 
in the art of the future. Thousands of 
new public and private buildings all 
over the country will call for decoration, 



and I have no hesitation in predicting 
that the opportunity thus afforded will 
result in some bewilderingly great dis- 
covery in advance of our present-day 
knowledge of that art a step in ad- 
vance at least as important as that made 
by Puvis de Chavannes when he painted 
the out-of-door atmosphere upon the 
walls of the Pantheon in Paris. It is at 
least certain that the movement in this 
same direction will be pushed much 
farther than at present, and that open- 
air effects and open-air tones will be 
used with increasing frequency by our 
mural painters, because on this line 
only can they hope to achieve any not- 
able advance over their predecessors. 

The fact is that the open has claimed 
us as a people ! We devote ourselves with 
ever-increasing enthusiasm to out-of- 
door pleasures and out-of-door pursuits; 
we have learned to love out-of-door 



nature and out-of-door beauty. It is our 
best achievement as a nation; and our 
artists in this are, therefore, simply 
keeping step with the march of modern 


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