Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/715

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constantly changing until it disappeared in the approaching darkness. I have never before observed a meteor whose "tail" remained visible so long. The appearance of this meteor created great consternation among the negroes, and many of them imagined that the "last day" had arrived. Nothing has ever been seen to equal it by any one in this neighborhood.

Yours respectfully,
John Hawkins.
Prosperity, S.C., December 10, 1880.



WHEN we compare pictures of the sixteenth and of the nineteenth centuries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, we are conscious that the charm of modern work is in the truthful delineation of scenery and character, in a certain reflection of our experiences, and in fitness as related to the drift of our imagination. We see a reality and daylight effect which we miss in allegorical and other subjects by artists of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The coloring in pictures by Rubens and Murillo may be impressive, but not even this can obscure the truth that the result is not suited to the modern eye and taste. Most of us prefer nature mirrored by some of our modern masters. In fact, the disposition to appreciate work that seems practical does not favor the introduction of ancient methods. The pursuit of a highly developed sense of humor must impress artists with the importance of close attention to propriety and probability in every design. The fact that ancient art is not suited to present standards of taste was hinted at by Thackeray in "The Newcomes," in the artist who painted immense figures, and whose ideas of art were expressed in a picture fourteen feet high. The novelist intimates that this was high art in a literal sense; but the principal force of his satire is shown in the following remarks from the artist: "The models of the hancient Britons in that pictur' alone cost me thirty pound. . . . You recognize Boadishia, colonel, with the Roman 'elmet, cuirass, and javeling of the period all studied from the hantique, sir, the glorious hantique."

We also find a ludicrous contrast when ancient art is subjected to the practical test of modern scientific criticism, as seen in the disregard of the laws of equilibrium when angels are represented with arms as well as wings.[1]

The phrase "school of art" seems objectionable when it means more than a preparatory course by which the rudiments are mastered. An artist ought to be independent of all schools, or have a touch of all in his work, because otherwise his liberty will be restricted.

The advantage of originality appears in strong relief when we examine the negative work of imitators. While it is seen that artists having genius can produce striking effects, using apparently commonplace subjects, it is yet clear that imitators can not produce the same effects, because they fail to see them in nature. The picture painted by a great artist and the original in nature always produce two distinct and very different impressions upon the observer. Owing to some subtile change, which it is impossible for an imitator to follow, the picture has an indefinable effect of which we are not conscious in the natural occurrence or object. For this reason the imitators of original work must always fail. They see the effect after it has been rendered, but they can not perceive similar effects in the outer world of nature, as distinguished from the

  1. See "Popular Science Monthly," April, 1879: "The Monstrous in Art," by Samuel Kneeland, M.D.