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are wrought by beating and chasing; a medallion by beat- | pleasurable imitation in sculpture as the human body. It
In general terms, the task of sculpture is to imitate solid form with solid form. But sculptured form may be either But sculptured form may be either completely or incompletely solid. Sculpture in completely solid form exactly reproduces, whether on the original or on a different scale, the relations or proportions of the object imitated in the three dimensions of length, breadth, and depth or thickness. Sculpture in incompletely solid form reproduces the proportions of the objects with exactness only so far as concerns two of its dimensions, namely those of length and breadth; while the third dimension, that of depth or thickness, it reproduces in a diminished proportion, leaving it to the eye to infer, from the partial degree of projection given to the work, the full projection of the object imitated. The former, or completely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in the round; its works stand free, and can be walked round and seen from all points. The latter, or incompletely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in relief; its works do not stand free, but are engaged in or attached to a background, and can only be seen from in front. According, in the latter kind of sculpture, to its degree of projection from the background, a work is said to be in high or in low relief. Sculpture in the round and sculpture in relief are alike in this, that the properties of objects which they imitate are their outlines, or the boundaries and circumscriptions of their masses, and their light and shade-the lights and shadows, that is, which diversify the curved surfaces of the masses in consequence of their alternations and gradations of projection and recession. But the two kinds of sculpture differ in this. A work of sculpture in the round imitates the whole of the outlines of any given object, and presents to the eye, as the object itself would do, a new outline succeeding the last every moment as you walk round it. Whereas a work of sculpture in relief imitates only one outline of any object; it takes, so to speak, a section of the object as seen from a particular point, and traces on the background the boundary-line of that particular section; merely suggesting, by modelling the surface within such boundary according to a regular, but a diminished, ratio of projection, the other outlines which the object would present if seen from all sides successively.
As sculpture in the round reproduces the real relations of a solid object in space, it follows that the only kind of object which it can reproduce with pleasurable effect must be one not too vast or complicated, one that can afford to be detached and isolated from its surroundings, and of which all the parts can easily be perceived and apprehended in their organic relations. Further, it will need to be an object interesting enough to mankind in general to make them take delight in seeing it reproduced with all its parts in complete imitation. And again, it must be such that some considerable part of the interest lies in those particular properties of outline and light and shade which it is the special function of sculpture to reproduce. Thus a sculptured representation in the round, say, of a mountain with cities on it, would hardly be a sculpture at all; it could only be a model, and as a model might have value; but value as a work of fine art it could not have, because the object imitated would lack organic definiteness and completeness; it would lack universality of interest, and of the interest which it did possess, a very inconsiderable part indeed would depend upon its properties of outline and light and shade. Obviously there is no kind of object in the world that so well unites the required conditions for
Relief sculpture is more closely connected with architec- Subjects ture than the other kind, and indeed is commonly used in proper subordination to it. But if its task is thus somewhat sculpdifferent from that of sculpture in the round, its principal ture in objects of imitation are the same. The human body relief. remains the principal theme of the sculptor in relief; but the nature of his art allows, and sometimes compels, him to include other objects in the range of his imitation. As he has not to represent the real depth or projection of things, but only to suggest them according to a ratio which he may fix himself, so he can introduce into the third or depth dimension, thus arbitrarily reduced, a multitude of objects for which the sculptor in the round, having to observe the real ratio of the three dimensions, has no room. He can place one figure in slightly raised outline emerging from behind the more fully raised outline of another, and by the same system can add to his representation rocks, trees, nay mountains and cities, and birds on the wing.
But the more he uses this liberty, the less will he be truly Relief a sculptor. Solid modelling, and real light and shade, are sculpture the special means or instruments of effect which the sculp- merge tor alone among imitative artists enjoys. Single outlines and contours, the choice of one particular section and the tracing of its circumscription, are means which the sculptor on the enjoys in common with the painter or draughtsman. And one hand indeed, when we consider works executed wholly or in part architecin very low relief, whether Assyrian battle-pieces and hunt- ture on ing pieces in alabaster or bronze, or the backgrounds carved theother in bronze, marble, or wood by the Italian sculptors who followed the example set by Ghiberti at the Renaissance, we shall see that the principle of such work is not the principle of sculpture at all. Its effect depends not at all on qualities of surface-light and shadow, but exclusively on qualities of contour, as traced by a slight line of shadow on the side away from the light, and a slight line of light on the side next to it. And we may fairly hesitate whether we shall rank the artist who works on this principle, which is properly a graphic rather than a plastic principle, among sculptors or among draughtsmen. The above are cases in which the relief sculptor exercises his liberty in the introduction of other objects besides human figures into his sculptured compositions. But there is
tion of sculpture.
Nature and methods of painting.
another kind of relief sculpture in which the artist has less choice. That is the kind in which the sculptor is called in to decorate with carved work parts of an architectural construction which are not adapted for the introduction of figure subjects, or for their introduction only as features in a scheme of ornament that comprises many other elements. To this head belongs most of the carving of capitals, mouldings, friezes (except the friezes of Greek temples), bands, cornices, and in the Gothic style, of doorway arches, niches, canopies, pinnacles, brackets, spandrils, and the thousand members and parts of members which that style so exquisitely adorned with true or conventionalized imitations of natural forms. This is no doubt a subordinate function of the art; and it is impossible, as we have seen already, to find a precise line of demarcation between carving, in this decorative use, which is properly sculpture, and that which belongs properly to architecture.
Leaving such discussions, we may content ourselves with the definition of sculpture as a shaping art, of which the business is to imitate natural objects, and principally the human body, by reproducing in solid form either their true proportions in all dimensions, or else their true proportions in the two dimensions of length and breadth only, with a diminished proportion in the third dimension of depth or thickness.
| For the painter, the intervention of costume between man
In considering bas-relief as a form of sculpture, we have found ourselves approaching the confines of the second of the shaping-imitative arts, the graphic art, or art of paint ing. Painting, as to its means or instruments of imitation, dispenses with the third dimension altogether. It imitates natural objects by representing them as they are represented on the retina of the eye itself, simply as an assemblage of lines and colours on a flat surface. The character and disposition of the lines and colours in painting are determined by two things, the local colours of the objects themselves, and their shapes and positions in space. Painting does not reproduce the third dimension of reality by any third dimension of its own whatever; but leaves the eye to infer the solidity, the recession and projection, the nearness and remoteness of objects, by the same perspective signs by which it also infers those facts in nature—namely, by the direction of their several boundary lines, the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows, the strength or faintness of their tones of colour. Hence this art has an infinitely greater range and freedom than any form of sculpture. Near and far is all the same to it, and whatever comes into the field of vision can come also into the field of a picture; trees as well as personages, and clouds as well as trees, and stars as well as clouds; and on earth the remotest mountain snows as well as the violet of the foreground, and far-off multitudes of people as well as one or two near the eye. Whatever any man has seen, or can imagine himself as seeing, that he can also fix by painting, subject only to one great limitation, that of the range of brightness which he is able to attain in imitating natural colour illuminated by light. In this particular his art can but correspond according to a greatly diminished ratio with the effects of nature. But excepting this it can do for the eye almost all that nature herself does; or at least all that nature would do if man had only one eye; since the three dimensions of space produce upon our binocular machinery of vision a particular stereoscopic effect of which a picture, with its two dimensions only, is incapable. The range of the art being thus almost unbounded, its selections have naturally been dictated by the varying interest felt in this or that subject of representation by the societies among whom the art has at various times been practised. As in sculpture, so in painting, man, whether as figuring God, or for the sake of his own looks and doings, has always held the first place. |
Besides the two questions about any art, what objects Three does it imitate, and by the use of what means or instru- modes ments, Aristotle proposes (in the case of poetry) the further tating question, which of several possible forms does the imitation nature in any given case assume? We may transfer very nearly in paintthe same inquiry to painting, and may ask, concerning any ing. painter, according to which of three possible systems he works. The three possible systems are (1) that which attends principally to the configuration and relations of natural objects as indicated by their circumscribing linesthis may be called for short the system of line; (2) that which attends chiefly to their configuration and relations, as indicated by the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows-this may be called the system of light-andshade; and (3) that which attends chiefly, not to their configuration at all, but to the distribution, qualities, and relations of colours upon their surface-this is the system of colour. Line, light-and-shade, and colour, these three kinds of appearances between them make up the whole world of sight. (We do not pause to insist on the fact that line is in truth partly an invention of the mind; those divisions between objects which the painter or draughtsman indicates with an outline or dark marking being in nature only indicated by the even edge where one colour ends and another begins.) It is not possible for a painter to imitate natural objects to the eye at all without either defining their masses by outlines, or suggesting them by juxtapositions of light and dark or of local colours. In the complete art of painting, of course, all three methods are employed at once. But in what is known as outline drawing and outline engraving, one of the three methods only is employed, line; in grisaille pictures, and in shaded drawings and engravings, two only, line with light-and-shade; and in the shadowless pictures of the early religious schools, a different two only, line with colour. And even in the most accomplished examples of the complete art of painting, as has been justly pointed out by Professor Ruskin, we find that there almost always prevails a predilection for some one of these three parts of painting over the other two. Thus among the mature Italians of the Renaissance, Titian is above all things a painter in colour, Michelangelo in line, and Leonardo in light-and-shade.
The value of a pictorial imitation is by no means neces-Comsarily in proportion to its completeness. Many accom- pleteplished pictures, in which all the resources of line, colour, and light-and-shade have been used to the uttermost of test of the artist's power for the imitation of all that he could see value in nature, are worthless in comparison with a few faintly- in a pie touched outlines or lightly-laid shadows or tints of another imitaartist who could see nature better. The fine art of paint- tion. ing addresses not merely the eye but the imagination. Unless the painter knows how to choose and combine the elements of his finished work so that it shall contain in every part suggestions and delights over and above the mere imitation, it will fall short, in that which is the essential charm of fine art, not only of any scrap of a great master's handiwork, such as an outline sketch of a child by Raphael,
or a colour sketch of a boat or a mackerel by Turner, but I thought and feeling of the human spirit, for which mankind
in the course of its long evolution has been able to create
It remains to consider, for the purposes of our classificanical va- tion, what are the technical varieties of the painter's craft. rieties of Since we gave the generic name of painting to all imitation painting of natural objects by the assemblage of lines, colours, and lights and darks on a single plane, we must include as varieties of painting, not only the ordinary crafts of spreading or laying pictures on an opaque surface in fresco, oil, or water-colour, but also the craft of arranging a picture to be seen by the transmission of light through a transparent substance, in glass painting; the craft of fitting together a multitude of solid cubes or cylinders so that their united surface forms a picture to the eye, in mosaic; the craft of spreading vitreous colours in a state of fusion so that they form a picture when hardened, as in enamel; and even, it would seem, the crafts of tapestry and embroidery, since these also yield to the eye a plane surface figured in imitation of nature. As drawing we must also count incised or engraved work of all kinds representing merely the outlines of objects and not their modellings, as for instance the mythological subjects incised upon the bronze mirrors and dressing cases of Etruscan ladies; while raised work in low relief, in which outlines are plainly marked and modellings neglected, furnishes, as we have seen, a doubtful class between sculpture and painting. 'In all figures that are first modelled in the solid and then variously coloured, sculpture and painting bear a common part; as for instance when the sculptor Praxiteles handed his finished statue to the painter Nicias to receive its circumlitio or tinting. But as the special characteristic of sculpture, the third dimension, is here present, it is to that art and not to painting that we shall still ascribe the resulting work. The system of more or less highly colouring stone statues, that is, of painting sculpture, which the moderns have disused, prevailed alike in the Greek and Gothic ages; and solid form and local colour have been similarly combined in the productions of pottery in all ages, from those of Corinth and Tanagra down to those of Dresden and Sèvres.
With these indications, which the reader can easily tion of follow up for himself, we may leave the art of painting painting, defined in general terms as a shaping art, of which the business is to imitate all kinds of natural objects by reproducing on a plane surface the relations of their boundary lines, lights and shadows, or colours, or all three of these appearances together.
We shall hardly make our definition of poetry, con- Definisidered as an imitative art, too extended if we say that it tion of is a speaking art, of which the business is to represent by poetry. means of verbal signs arranged with musical regularity everything for which verbal signs have been invented.
Neither the varieties of poetical form, however, nor the modes in which the several forms have been mixed up and interchanged-as such mixture and interchange are implied, for instance, by the very title of a group of Mr Browning's poems, the Dramatic Lyrics,-the observation of neither of these things concerns us here so much as the observation of the relations of poetry in general, as an art of representation or imitation, to the other arts of imitation, painting and sculpture.
The next and last of the imitative arts is the speaking
Verbal signs have been invented for innumerable things which cannot be imitated or represented at all either in solid form or upon a coloured surface. You cannot carve or paint a sigh, or the feeling which finds utterance in a sigh; you can only suggest the idea of the feeling, and that in a somewhat imperfect and uncertain way, by representing the physical aspect of a person in the act of breathing the sigh. Similarly you cannot carve or paint any movement, but only figures or groups in
logies and contrasts
which the movement is represented as arrested in some particular point of time; nor any abstract idea, but only figures or groups in which the abstract idea, as for example between release, captivity, mercy, is illustrated in the concrete shape the three of allegory. The whole field of thought, of propositions, imitative arguments, injunctions, and exhortations, is open to poetry but closed to sculpture and painting. Poetry, by its command over the regions of the understanding, of abstraction, of the movement and succession of things in time, by its power of instantaneously associating one delightful image with another from the remotest regions of the mind, by its names for every shade of feeling and experience, exercises a sovereignty a hundred times more extended than that of either of the two arts of manual imitation. But on the other hand, words do not as a rule bear any sensible resemblance to the things of which they are the signs. There are few things that words do not stand for or cannot call up; but they stand for things, as it were, only at second hand, and call them up only in idea, and not in actual presentment to And just in this lies the strength of painting and sculpture, that though there are countless things which they cannot represent at all, and countless more which they can only represent by suggestion more or less ambiguous, yet there are a few things which they represent more effect ually and directly than poetry can represent any thing at all. These are, for sculpture, the forms or configurations of things, which that art represents directly to the senses both of sight and touch; and for painting the forms or configurations, colours, and relative positions of things, which the art represents to the sense of sight, directly so far as regards surface appearances, and indirectly so far as regards solidity. For many delicate qualities and differences in these visible relations of things, there are no words at all—the vocabulary of colours, for instance, is in all languages surprisingly scanty and primitive. And those visible qualities for which words exist, the words still call up indistinctly and at second hand. Poetry is almost as powerless to bring before the mind's eye with precision a particular shade of red or blue, as sculpture is to relate a continuous experience, or painting to enforce an exhortation or embellish an abstract proposition. The wise poet, as has been justly remarked, when he wants to produce a vivid impression of the beauty of a visible thing, does not attempt to catalogue or describe its stationary beauties. In representing the perfections of form in a bride's slender foot, the speaking art, poetry, would find itself distanced by either of the shaping arts, painting or sculpture; the wise poet calls up the charm of such a foot by describing it not at rest but in motion, and in the
which we have unsystematically glanced at in the above, Law of The their rewere for a long while overlooked or misunderstood. maxim of Simonides, that poetry was a kind of articulate lations. painting, and painting a kind of mute poetry, was vaguely accepted until the days of Lessing, and first overthrown by the famous treatise of that writer on the Laocoön. Following in the main the lines laid down by Lessing, other writers have worked out the conditions of representation or imitation proper, not only to sculpture and painting as distinguished from poetry, but to sculpture as distinguished from painting, until there is perhaps no part of artistic theory so well or so generally understood as this. chief points, with some of which we have become acquainted already, may really all be condensed under the simple law, that the more direct and complete the imitation effected by any art, the less is the range and number of phenomena which that art can imitate. Thus sculpture in the round imitates its objects much more completely and fully than any other single art, reproducing one whole set of their relations which no other art attempts to reproduce at all, namely, their solid relations in space. Precisely for this reason, such sculpture is limited to a narrow class of objects. As we have seen, it must represent human or animal figures; nothing else has enough of organic beauty and perfection, or enough of universal interest. It must represent such figures in combinations and with accessories comparatively simple, on pain of puzzling and embarrassing the eye with a complexity and entanglement of masses and lights and shadows; and in attitudes comparatively quiet, on pain of violating, or appearing to violate, the conditions of mechanical stability. Being a stationary or space-art, it can only represent a single action, which it fixes and perpetuates for ever; and it must therefore choose for that action one as significant and full of interest as is consistent with due observation of the above laws of simplicity and stability. Such actions, and the facial expressions accompanying them, must not be those of sharp crisis or transition, because sudden movement or flitting expression, thus arrested and perpetuated in full and solid imitation by bronze or marble, would be displeasing and not pleasing to the spectator. They must be actions and expressions in some degree settled, collected, and capable of continuance, and in their collectedness must at the same time suggest to the spectator as much as possible of the circumstances which have led up to them. These conditions eviand those which will next ensue. dently bring within a very narrow range the phenomena with which this art can deal, and explain why, as a matter of fact, by far the greater number of statues represent simply a single figure in repose, with the addition of one or two symbolic or customary attributes. Paint the statue and you bring the imitation to a still further point of completeness by the addition of local colour; but you do not thereby lighten in any degree the restrictions which are inevitably laid upon sculpture so long as it undertakes to reproduce in full the third or solid dimension of bodies. You only begin to lighten its restrictions when you begin to relieve it of that duty. We have traced how sculpture in relief, which is satisfied with only a partial reproduction of the third dimension, is free to introduce a larger range of objects, bringing forward secondary figures and accessories, indicating distant planes, indulging even in some violence and complexity of motion, since limbs attached to a background do not alarm the spectator by any idea of danger or fragility; though for the due effect of the work, and the pleasurable distinctness and diversity of its lights and shadows, such complexity must not, even in relief, be carried too far. And so by degrees we arrive at painting, in which the third dimension is dismissed altogether, and nothing is actually reproduced, in full or partially, except the effect made by the appearance of natural objects upon the retina of the eye. The conse
is that this art can range over distance and multitude, | representation whatever of realities. By realities we have Things can represent complicated relations between its various meant not only phenomena as they actually or literally unknown figures and groups of figures, extensive backgrounds, and all exist, or may have existed in the past. Imitation, as we ed forth those subtleties of appearance in natural things which understand it, is not tied to such strict veracity of positive by imitadepend upon local colour and incidence of light and shade. delineation or report. It includes the representation of tion of These last phenomena of natural things are in our experi- things which, though similar to things actually existing, things ence subject to change, in a sense in which the substantial have themselves never actually existed-the invention of known. or solid properties of things are not so subject. Colours, phenomena, and of relations and combinations among shadows, and atmospheric effects are to some extent as- phenomena, derived from those of actual experience, but not sociated with ideas of transition, mystery, and evanescence. identical with them. Such shadowing forth of the unknown Hence painting is able to extend its range to another kind by means of the known is part of the work of that compreof facts over which sculpture has no power. It can perpet- hensive faculty which we call the imagination. But the uate in its imitation, without breach of its true laws, certain materials or elements with which the imaginative faculty is classes of facts which are themselves fugitive and transitory, at liberty thus to deal are materials or elements supplied by as a smile, the glance of an eye, a gesture of horror or of real experience. When we find among the ruins of a Greek passion, the waving of the young Achilles' hair "not un- temple the statue of a beautiful young man at rest, or above stirred," as the old description has it, by the wind, the toss the altar of a Christian church the painting of one transfixed and gathering of ocean waves, even the flashing of light- with arrows, we know that the statue is intended to bring ning across the sky. Still, any long or continuous series of to our minds no mortal youth, but the god Hermes or changes, actions, or movements is quite beyond the means Apollo, the transfixed victim no simple captive, but Sebasof this art to represent. Painting remains, in spite of its tian the holy saint. At the same time we none the less know comparative width of range, tied down to the inevitable that the figures in either case have been studied by the conditions of a space-art: that is to say, it has to delight the artist from living models before his eyes. In like manner, mind by a harmonious variety in its effects, but by a variety in all the representations alike of sculpture, painting, and apprehended not through various points of time successively, poetry, the things and persons represented may bear but from various points in space at the same moment. symbolic meanings and imaginary names and characters; Lastly, a really ample range is only attained by the art they may be set in a land of dreams, and grouped in relawhich does not give a full and complete reproduction of any tions and circumstances upon which the sun of this world natural fact at all, but represents or brings natural facts never shone-and such in truth was the purpose to which before the mind merely by the images which words convey. the arts were almost universally put until but the other The whole world of movement, of continuity, of cause and day; but it is from real things and persons that their effect, of the successions, alternations, and interaction of lineaments and characters have been taken in the first events, characters, and passions, of everything that takes instance, in order to be attributed by the imagination to time to happen and time to declare, is open to poetry as it another and more exalted order of existences. is open to no other art. We speak only of those parts of poetry which may properly be called its imitative or representative parts, and not of its other parts or applications, in reasoning, in exhortation, in denunciation, and the like. As an imitative or representative art, then, poetry is subject to no limitations except those which spring from the poverty of human language, and from the fact that its means of imitation are indirect. Poetry's report of the visible properties of things is from these causes much less full, accurate, and efficient than the reproduction or delineation of the same properties by sculpture and painting. And this is the sum of the conditions concerning the respective functions of the three arts of imitation which had been overlooked, in theory at least, until the time of Lessing.
The law which we have last laid down is a law defining Imitathe relations of sculpture, painting, and poetry, considered tion by simply as arts having their foundations at any rate in artneces sarily an reality, and drawing from the imitation of reality their indi- idealized spensable elements and materials. It is a law defining the imita range and character of the elements or materials in nature tion. which each art is best fitted, by its special means and resources, to imitate. But we must remember that, even in this fundamental part of its operations, none of these arts proceeds by imitation pure and simple. None of them contents itself with seeking to represent realities, however literally taken, exactly as those realities are. A portrait in sculpture or painting, a landscape in painting, a passage of local description in poetry, may be representations of known things taken literally or for their own sakes, and not for the sake of carrying our thoughts to the unknown; but none of them ought to be, or indeed can possibly be, a representation of all the observed parts and details of such a reality on equal terms and without omissions. Such a representation, were it possible, would be a mechanical inventory and not a work of fine art. That only, we know, is fine art which affords keen and permanent delight to contemplation. Such delight the artist can never communicate by the display of a callous and pedantic impartiality in presence of the facts of life and nature. His delineation or report of realities will only strike or impress others in so far as it directs their attention to things by which he has been struck and impressed himself. To excite emotion, he must have felt emotion; and emotion is only another word for partiality. The constitution which observes and registers every detail of an experience with uniform and equal minuteness is a constitution which has been strongly affected by no part of that experience. Such a constitution will never make an artist. The ulterior imaginative meanings and combinations of art being left out of the question, the artist is one who instinctively tends to modify and work
To this law, in the form in which we have expressed it, ed drama it may perhaps be objected that the acted drama is at once tion to the most full and complete reproduction of nature which this law. we owe to the fine arts, and that at the same time the number of facts over which its imitation ranges is the greatest. The answer is that our law applies to the several arts only in that which we may call their pure or unmixed state. Dramatic poetry is in that state only when it is read or spoken like any other kind of verse. When it is witnessed on the stage, it is in a mixed or impure state; the art of the actor has been called in to give actual reproduction to the gestures and utterances of the personages, hat of the costumier to their appearances and attire, that the stage-decorator to their furniture and surroundings, hat of the scene-painter to imitate to the eye the dwellingplaces and landscapes among which they move; and only by the combination of all these subordinate arts does the drama gain its character of imitative completeness or reality.
Throughout the above account of the imitative and nonimitative groups of fine arts, we have so far followed Aristotle as to give the name of imitation to all recognizable