INTRODUCTORY AND CRITICAL.
mate composition, of daring choice, of incisive relevancy, of memorable
These pictures are painted in the manner of the grand stylists,
without the least concession to the painters of "bits,' who turn all
question of merit into the treatment of still-life or bric-á-brac. To these
he is as deaf as was Ingres, or David, or Michael Angelo, or Leonardo.
I am not saying which coterie is right, and I appreciate as highly as
any one the marvels of the "morceau," as represented by able realists.
But I have observed that epic poets have a different choice of words
from vernacular and dialect poets, and I do not look in the pages of
my Dante for the terms of Pulcinello. I have observed that the best
old frescoes discard bric-á-brac representation; that Raphael, even when
he prepares so small an easel picture as the "Vision of Ezekiel;' adheres
to his grand statuesque manner, his reticence of trivial statements or facts
about texture. I observe that Baudry, decorating the Opera, goes to
Rome for years to catch "le pli de Michel-Ange," and comes back,
painting texturelessly without blame. In his case this seems to be
accepted as a concomitant of the grand style. At the present day.
easel -pictures must be painted, and not grand walls or big altarpieces.
Perhaps, on reflection, the critics will kindly allow these to be executed
sometimes in the grand manner, with the Dantean or Leonardesque
choice of terms, as kindly as they allow Raphael's little "Ezekiel" to
be so painted, or Baudry's great ceiling.
I enjoy with all my capacity the works of the greater realists, and
when a bit of execution conies before me that just hits a nail on the
head—gives me a "bit" happily mastered, a texture luckily imitated, a
scheme of values maintained to the point of illusion—no spectator is
more delighted But I have had the pleasure, on the other hand, of
studying certain temperaments, and from what I observe of the. methods
by which the bric-á-brac painters work, I am certain that there are
minds that would never stoop to their successes. Gerome, I am convinced, would hardly care to learn the tricks of texture, if they must
be got with devices, or by the use of implements, that would make him
lose absolute control over his drawing at every point. If the public
knew the arts by which texture is commonly got—the wiping away of
bitumen with rags, the notching of flat brushes into something like
garden-rakes, the scratching. with sacks and matches, the waiting for
megilp to get tacky, and then the torture of it into superb effects; the