Modern Painters Volume I (of V)
by John Ruskin
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It is with much regret, and partly against my own judgment, that I republish the following chapters in their present form. The particular circumstances (stated in the first preface) under which they were originally written, have rendered them so unfit for the position they now hold as introductory to a serious examination of the general functions of art, that I should have wished first to complete the succeeding portions of the essay, and then to write another introduction of more fitting character. But as it may be long before I am able to do this, and as I believe what I have already written may still be of some limited and partial service, I have suffered it to reappear, trusting to the kindness of the reader to look to its intention rather than its temper, and forgive its inconsideration in its earnestness.

Thinking it of too little substance to bear mending, wherever I have found a passage which I thought required modification or explanation, I have cut it out; what I have left, however imperfect, cannot I think be dangerously misunderstood: something I have added, not under the idea of rendering the work in any wise systematic or complete, but to supply gross omissions, answer inevitable objections, and give some substance to passages of mere declamation.

Whatever inadequacy or error there may be, throughout, in materials or modes of demonstration, I have no doubt of the truth and necessity of the main result; and though the reader may, perhaps, find me frequently hereafter showing other and better grounds for what is here affirmed, yet the point and bearing of the book, its determined depreciation of Claude, Salvator, Gaspar, and Canaletto, and its equally determined support of Turner as the greatest of all landscape painters, and of Turner's recent works as his finest, are good and right; and if the prevalence throughout of attack and eulogium be found irksome or offensive, let it be remembered that my object thus far has not been either the establishment or the teaching of any principles of art, but the vindication, most necessary to the prosperity of our present schools, of the uncomprehended rank of their greatest artist, and the diminution, equally necessary as I think to the prosperity of our schools, of the unadvised admiration of the landscape of the seventeenth century. For I believe it to be almost impossible to state in terms sufficiently serious and severe the depth and extent of the evil which has resulted (and that not in art alone, but in all other matters with which the contemplative faculties are concerned) from the works of those elder men. On the continent all landscape art has been utterly annihilated by them, and with it all sense of the power of nature. We in England have only done better because our artists have had strength of mind enough to form a school withdrawn from their influence.

These points are somewhat farther developed in the general sketch of ancient and modern landscape, which I have added to the first section of the second part. Some important additions have also been made to the chapters on the painting of sea. Throughout the rest of the text, though something is withdrawn, little is changed; and the reader may rest assured that if I were now to bestow on this feeble essay the careful revision which it much needs, but little deserves, it would not be to alter its tendencies, or modify its conclusions, but to prevent indignation from appearing virulence on the one side, and enthusiasm partisanship on the other.


I have been lately so often asked by friends on whose judgment I can rely, to permit the publication of another edition of "Modern Painters" in its original form, that I have at last yielded, though with some violence to my own feelings; for many parts of the first and second volumes are written in a narrow enthusiasm, and the substance of their metaphysical and religious speculation is only justifiable on the ground of its absolute honesty. Of the third, fourth, and fifth volumes I indeed mean eventually to rearrange what I think of permanent interest, for the complete edition of my works, but with fewer and less elaborate illustrations: nor have I any serious grounds for refusing to allow the book once more to appear in the irregular form which it took as it was written, since of the art-teaching and landscape description it contains I have little to retrench, and nothing to retract.

This final edition must, however, be limited to a thousand copies, for some of the more delicate plates are already worn, that of the Mill Stream in the fifth volume, and of the Loire Side very injuriously; while that of the Shores of Wharfe had to be retouched by an engraver after the removal of the mezzotint for reprinting. But Mr. Armytage's, Mr. Cousen's, and Mr. Cuff's magnificent plates are still in good state, and my own etchings, though injured, are still good enough to answer their purpose.






CHAPTER I.—Introductory. PAGE Sec. 1. Public opinion no criterion of excellence, except after long periods of time. 1 Sec. 2. And therefore obstinate when once formed. 4 Sec. 3. The author's reasons for opposing it in particular instances. 5 Sec. 4. But only on points capable of demonstration. 5 Sec. 5. The author's partiality to modern works excusable. 6

CHAPTER II.—Definition of Greatness in Art.

Sec. 1. Distinction between the painter's intellectual power and technical knowledge. 8 Sec. 2. Painting, as such, is nothing more than language. 8 Sec. 3. "Painter," a term corresponding to "versifier." 9 Sec. 4. Example in a painting of E. Landseer's. 9 Sec. 5. Difficulty of fixing an exact limit between language and thought. 9 Sec. 6. Distinction between decorative and expressive language. 10 Sec. 7. Instance in the Dutch and early Italian schools. 10 Sec. 8. Yet there are certain ideas belonging to language itself. 11 Sec. 9. The definition. 12

CHAPTER III.—Of Ideas of Power.

Sec. 1. What classes of ideas are conveyable by art. 13 Sec. 2. Ideas of power vary much in relative dignity. 13 Sec. 3. But are received from whatever has been the subject of power. The meaning of the word "excellence." 14 Sec. 4. What is necessary to the distinguishing of excellence. 15 Sec. 5. The pleasure attendant on conquering difficulties is right. 16

CHAPTER IV.—Of Ideas of Imitation.

Sec. 1. False use of the term "imitation" by many writers on art. 17 Sec. 2. Real meaning of the term. 18 Sec. 3. What is requisite to the sense of imitation. 18 Sec. 4. The pleasure resulting from imitation the most contemptible that can be derived from art. 19 Sec. 5. Imitation is only of contemptible subjects. 19 Sec. 6. Imitation is contemptible because it is easy. 20 Sec. 7. Recapitulation. 20

CHAPTER V.—Of Ideas of Truth.

Sec. 1. Meaning of the word "truth" as applied to art. 21 Sec. 2. First difference between truth and imitation. 21 Sec. 3. Second difference. 21 Sec. 4. Third difference. 22 Sec. 5. No accurate truths necessary to imitation. 22 Sec. 6. Ideas of truth are inconsistent with ideas of imitation. 24

CHAPTER VI.—Of Ideas of Beauty.

Sec. 1. Definition of the term "beautiful." 26 Sec. 2. Definition of the term "taste." 26 Sec. 3. Distinction between taste and judgment. 27 Sec. 4. How far beauty may become intellectual. 27 Sec. 5. The high rank and function of ideas of beauty. 28 Sec. 6. Meaning of the term "ideal beauty." 28

CHAPTER VII.—Of Ideas of Relation.

Sec. 1. General meaning of the term. 29 Sec. 2. What ideas are to be comprehended under it. 29 Sec. 3. The exceeding nobility of these ideas. 30 Sec. 4. Why no subdivision of so extensive a class is necessary. 31



CHAPTER I.—General Principles respecting Ideas of Power.

Sec. 1. No necessity for detailed study of ideas of imitation. 32 Sec. 2. Nor for separate study of ideas of power. 32 Sec. 3. Except under one particular form. 33 Sec. 4. There are two modes of receiving ideas of power, commonly inconsistent. 33 Sec. 5. First reason of the inconsistency. 33 Sec. 6. Second reason for the inconsistency. 34 Sec. 7. The sensation of power ought not to be sought in imperfect art. 34 Sec. 8. Instances in pictures of modern artists. 35 Sec. 9. Connection between ideas of power and modes of execution. 35

CHAPTER II.—Of Ideas of Power, as they are dependent upon Execution.

Sec. 1. Meaning of the term "execution." 36 Sec. 2. The first quality of execution is truth. 36 Sec. 3. The second, simplicity. 36 Sec. 4. The third, mystery. 37 Sec. 5. The fourth, inadequacy; and the fifth, decision. 37 Sec. 6. The sixth, velocity. 37 Sec. 7. Strangeness an illegitimate source of pleasure in execution. 37 Sec. 8. Yet even the legitimate sources of pleasure in execution are inconsistent with each other. 38 Sec. 9. And fondness for ideas of power leads to the adoption of the lowest. 39 Sec. 10. Therefore perilous. 40 Sec. 11. Recapitulation. 40

CHAPTER III.—Of the Sublime.

Sec. 1. Sublimity is the effect upon the mind of anything above it. 41 Sec. 2. Burke's theory of the nature of the sublime incorrect, and why. 41 Sec. 3. Danger is sublime, but not the fear of it. 42 Sec. 4. The highest beauty is sublime. 42 Sec. 5. And generally whatever elevates the mind. 42 Sec. 6. The former division of the subject is therefore sufficient. 42





CHAPTER I.—Of Ideas of Truth in their connection with those of Beauty and Relation.

Sec. 1. The two great ends of landscape painting are the representation of facts and thoughts. 44 Sec. 2. They induce a different choice of material subjects. 45 Sec. 3. The first mode of selection apt to produce sameness and repetition. 45 Sec. 4. The second necessitating variety. 45 Sec. 5. Yet the first is delightful to all. 46 Sec. 6. The second only to a few. 46 Sec. 7. The first necessary to the second. 47 Sec. 8. The exceeding importance of truth. 48 Sec. 9. Coldness or want of beauty no sign of truth. 48 Sec. 10. How truth may be considered a just criterion of all art. 48

CHAPTER II.—That the Truth of Nature is not to be discerned by the Uneducated Senses.

Sec. 1. The common self-deception of men with respect to their power of discerning truth. 50 Sec. 2. Men usually see little of what is before their eyes. 51 Sec. 3. But more or less in proportion to their natural sensibility to what is beautiful. 52 Sec. 4. Connected with a perfect state of moral feeling. 52 Sec. 5. And of the intellectual powers. 53 Sec. 6. How sight depends upon previous knowledge. 54 Sec. 7. The difficulty increased by the variety of truths in nature. 55 Sec. 8. We recognize objects by their least important attributes. Compare Part I. Sect. I. Chap. 4. 55

CHAPTER III.—Of the Relative Importance of Truths:—First, that Particular Truths are more important than General Ones.

Sec. 1. Necessity of determining the relative importance of truths. 58 Sec. 2. Misapplication of the aphorism: "General truths are more important than particular ones." 58 Sec. 3. Falseness of this maxim, taken without explanation. 59 Sec. 4. Generality important in the subject, particularity in the predicate. 59 Sec. 5. The importance of truths of species is not owing to their generality. 60 Sec. 6. All truths valuable as they are characteristic. 61 Sec. 7. Otherwise truths of species are valuable, because beautiful. 61 Sec. 8. And many truths, valuable if separate, may be objectionable in connection with others. 62 Sec. 9. Recapitulation. 63

CHAPTER IV.—Of the Relative Importance of Truths:—Secondly, that Rare Truths are more important than Frequent Ones.

Sec. 1. No accidental violation of nature's principles should be represented. 64 Sec. 2. But the cases in which those principles have been strikingly exemplified. 65 Sec. 3. Which are comparatively rare. 65 Sec. 4. All repetition is blamable. 65 Sec. 5. The duty of the painter is the same as that of a preacher. 66

CHAPTER V.—Of the Relative Importance of Truths:—Thirdly, that Truths of Color are the least important of all Truths.

Sec. 1. Difference between primary and secondary qualities in bodies. 67 Sec. 2. The first are fully characteristic, the second imperfectly so. 67 Sec. 3. Color is a secondary quality, therefore less important than form. 68 Sec. 4. Color no distinction between objects of the same species. 68 Sec. 5. And different in association from what it is alone. 69 Sec. 6. It is not certain whether any two people see the same colors in things. 69 Sec. 7. Form, considered as an element of landscape, includes light and shade. 69 Sec. 8. Importance of light and shade in expressing the character of bodies, and unimportance of color. 70 Sec. 9. Recapitulation. 71

CHAPTER VI.—Recapitulation.

Sec. 1. The importance of historical truths. 72 Sec. 2. Form, as explained by light and shade, the first of all truths. Tone, light, and color, are secondary. 72 Sec. 3. And deceptive chiaroscuro the lowest of all. 73

CHAPTER VII.—General Application of the Foregoing Principles.

Sec. 1. The different selection of facts consequent on the several aims at imitation or at truth. 74 Sec. 2. The old masters, as a body, aim only at imitation. 74 Sec. 3. What truths they gave. 75 Sec. 4. The principles of selection adopted by modern artists. 76 Sec. 5. General feeling of Claude, Salvator, and G. Poussin, contrasted with the freedom and vastness of nature. 77 Sec. 6. Inadequacy of the landscape of Titian and Tintoret. 78 Sec. 7. Causes of its want of influence on subsequent schools. 79 Sec. 8. The value of inferior works of art, how to be estimated. 80 Sec. 9. Religious landscape of Italy. The admirableness of its completion. 81 Sec. 10. Finish, and the want of it, how right—and how wrong. 82 Sec. 11. The open skies of the religious schools, how valuable. Mountain drawing of Masaccio. Landscape of the Bellinis and Giorgione. 84 Sec. 12. Landscape of Titian and Tintoret. 86 Sec. 13. Schools of Florence, Milan, and Bologna. 88 Sec. 14. Claude, Salvator, and the Poussins. 89 Sec. 15. German and Flemish landscape. 90 Sec. 16. The lower Dutch schools. 92 Sec. 17. English school, Wilson and Gainsborough. 93 Sec. 18. Constable, Callcott. 94 Sec. 19. Peculiar tendency of recent landscape. 95 Sec. 20. G. Robson, D. Cox. False use of the term "style." 95 Sec. 21. Copley Fielding. Phenomena of distant color. 97 Sec. 22. Beauty of mountain foreground. 99 Sec. 23. De Wint. 101 Sec. 24. Influence of Engraving. J. D. Harding. 101 Sec. 25. Samuel Prout. Early painting of architecture, how deficient. 103 Sec. 26. Effects of age upon buildings, how far desirable. 104 Sec. 27. Effects of light, how necessary to the understanding of detail. 106 Sec. 28. Architectural painting of Gentile Bellini and Vittor Carpaccio. 107 Sec. 29. And of the Venetians generally. 109 Sec. 30. Fresco painting of the Venetian exteriors. Canaletto. 110 Sec. 31. Expression of the effects of age on Architecture by S. Prout. 112 Sec. 32. His excellent composition and color. 114 Sec. 33. Modern architectural painting generally. G. Cattermole. 115 Sec. 34. The evil in an archaeological point of view of misapplied invention, in architectural subject. 117 Sec. 35. Works of David Roberts: their fidelity and grace. 118 Sec. 36. Clarkson Stanfield. 121 Sec. 37. J. M. W. Turner. Force of national feeling in all great painters. 123 Sec. 38. Influence of this feeling on the choice of Landscape subject. 125 Sec. 39. Its peculiar manifestation in Turner. 125 Sec. 40. The domestic subjects of the Liber Studiorum. 127 Sec. 41. Turner's painting of French and Swiss landscape. The latter deficient. 129 Sec. 42. His rendering of Italian character still less successful. His large compositions how failing 130 Sec. 43. His views of Italy destroyed by brilliancy and redundant quantity. 133 Sec. 44. Changes introduced by him in the received system of art. 133 Sec. 45. Difficulties of his later manner. Resultant deficiencies. 134 Sec. 46. Reflection of his very recent works. 137 Sec. 47. Difficulty of demonstration in such subjects. 139



CHAPTER I.—Of Truth of Tone.

Sec. 1. Meanings of the word "tone:"—First, the right relation of objects in shadow to the principal light. 140 Sec. 2. Secondly, the quality of color by which it is felt to owe part of its brightness to the hue of light upon it. 140 Sec. 3. Difference between tone in its first sense and aerial perspective. 141 Sec. 4. The pictures of the old masters perfect in relation of middle tints to light. 141 Sec. 5. And consequently totally false in relation of middle tints to darkness. 141 Sec. 6. General falsehood of such a system. 143 Sec. 7. The principle of Turner in this respect. 143 Sec. 8. Comparison of N. Poussin's "Phocion." 144 Sec. 9. With Turner's "Mercury and Argus." 145 Sec. 10. And with the "Datur Hora Quieti." 145 Sec. 11. The second sense of the word "tone." 146 Sec. 12. Remarkable difference in this respect between the paintings and drawings of Turner. 146 Sec. 13. Not owing to want of power over the material 146 Sec. 14. The two distinct qualities of light to be considered 147 Sec. 15. Falsehoods by which Titian attains the appearance of quality in light. 148 Sec. 16. Turner will not use such means. 148 Sec. 17. But gains in essential truth by the sacrifice. 148 Sec. 18. The second quality of light. 148 Sec. 19. The perfection of Cuyp in this respect interfered with by numerous solecisms. 150 Sec. 20. Turner is not so perfect in parts—far more so in the whole. 151 Sec. 21. The power in Turner of uniting a number of tones. 152 Sec. 22. Recapitulation. 153

CHAPTER II.—Of Truth of Color.

Sec. 1. Observations on the color of G. Poussin's La Riccia. 155 Sec. 2. As compared with the actual scene. 155 Sec. 3. Turner himself is inferior in brilliancy to nature. 157 Sec. 4. Impossible colors of Salvator, Titian. 157 Sec. 5. Poussin, and Claude. 158 Sec. 6. Turner's translation of colors. 160 Sec. 7. Notice of effects in which no brilliancy of art can even approach that of reality. 161 Sec. 8. Reasons for the usual incredulity of the observer with respect to their representation 162 Sec. 9. Color of the Napoleon. 163 Sec. 10. Necessary discrepancy between the attainable brilliancy of color and light. 164 Sec. 11. This discrepancy less in Turner than in other colorists. 165 Sec. 12. Its great extent in a landscape attributed to Rubens. 165 Sec. 13. Turner scarcely ever uses pure or vivid color. 166 Sec. 14. The basis of gray, under all his vivid hues. 167 Sec. 15. The variety and fulness even of his most simple tones. 168 Sec. 16. Following the infinite and unapproachable variety of nature. 168 Sec. 17. His dislike of purple, and fondness for the opposition of yellow and black. The principles of nature in this respect. 169 Sec. 18. His early works are false in color. 170 Sec. 19. His drawings invariably perfect. 171 Sec. 20. The subjection of his system of color to that of chiaroscuro. 171

CHAPTER III.—Of Truth of Chiaroscuro.

Sec. 1. We are not at present to examine particular effects of light. 174 Sec. 2. And therefore the distinctness of shadows is the chief means of expressing vividness of light. 175 Sec. 3. Total absence of such distinctness in the works of the Italian school. 175 Sec. 4. And partial absence in the Dutch. 176 Sec. 5. The perfection of Turner's works in this respect. 177 Sec. 6. The effect of his shadows upon the light. 178 Sec. 7. The distinction holds good between almost all the works of the ancient and modern schools. 179 Sec. 8. Second great principle of chiaroscuro. Both high light and deep shadow are used in equal quantity, and only in points. 180 Sec. 9. Neglect or contradiction of this principle by writers on art. 180 Sec. 10. And consequent misguiding of the student. 181 Sec. 11. The great value of a simple chiaroscuro. 182 Sec. 12. The sharp separation of nature's lights from her middle tint. 182 Sec. 13. The truth of Turner. 183

CHAPTER IV.—Of Truth of Space:—First, as Dependent on the Focus of the Eye.

Sec. 1. Space is more clearly indicated by the drawing of objects than by their hue. 185 Sec. 2. It is impossible to see objects at unequal distances distinctly at one moment. 186 Sec. 3. Especially such as are both comparatively near. 186 Sec. 4. In painting, therefore, either the foreground or distance must be partially sacrificed. 187 Sec. 5. Which not being done by the old masters, they could not express space. 187 Sec. 6. But modern artists have succeeded in fully carrying out this principle. 188 Sec. 7. Especially of Turner. 189 Sec. 8. Justification of the want of drawing in Turner's figures. 189

CHAPTER V.—Of Truth of Space:—Secondly, as its Appearance is dependent on the Power of the Eye.

Sec. 1. The peculiar indistinctness dependent on the retirement of objects from the eye. 191 Sec. 2. Causes confusion, but not annihilation of details. 191 Sec. 3. Instances in various objects. 192 Sec. 4. Two great resultant truths; that nature is never distinct, and never vacant. 193 Sec. 5. Complete violation of both these principles by the old masters. They are either distinct or vacant. 193 Sec. 6. Instances from Nicholas Poussin. 194 Sec. 7. From Claude. 194 Sec. 8. And G. Poussin. 195 Sec. 9. The imperative necessity, in landscape painting, of fulness and finish. 196 Sec. 10. Breadth is not vacancy. 197 Sec. 11. The fulness and mystery of Turner's distances. 198 Sec. 12. Farther illustrations in architectural drawing. 199 Sec. 13. In near objects as well as distances. 199 Sec. 14. Vacancy and falsehood of Canaletto. 200 Sec. 15. Still greater fulness and finish in landscape foregrounds. 200 Sec. 16. Space and size are destroyed alike by distinctness and by vacancy. 202 Sec. 17. Swift execution best secures perfection of details. 202 Sec. 18. Finish is far more necessary in landscape than in historical subjects. 202 Sec. 19. Recapitulation of the section. 203



CHAPTER I.—Of the Open Sky.

Sec. 1. The peculiar adaptation of the sky to the pleasing and teaching of man. 204 Sec. 2. The carelessness with which its lessons are received. 205 Sec. 3. The most essential of these lessons are the gentlest. 205 Sec. 4. Many of our ideas of sky altogether conventional. 205 Sec. 5. Nature, and essential qualities of the open blue. 206 Sec. 6. Its connection with clouds. 207 Sec. 7. Its exceeding depth. 207 Sec. 8. These qualities are especially given by modern masters. 207 Sec. 9. And by Claude. 208 Sec. 10. Total absence of them in Poussin. Physical errors in his general treatment of open sky. 208 Sec. 11. Errors of Cuyp in graduation of color. 209 Sec. 12. The exceeding value of the skies of the early Italian and Dutch schools. Their qualities are unattainable in modern times. 210 Sec. 13. Phenomena of visible sunbeams. Their nature and cause. 211 Sec. 14. They are only illuminated mist, and cannot appear when the sky is free from vapor, nor when it is without clouds. 211 Sec. 15. Erroneous tendency in the representation of such phenomena by the old masters. 212 Sec. 16. The ray which appears in the dazzled eye should not be represented. 213 Sec. 17. The practice of Turner. His keen perception of the more delicate phenomena of rays. 213 Sec. 18. The total absence of any evidence of such perception in the works of the old masters. 213 Sec. 19. Truth of the skies of modern drawings. 214 Sec. 20. Recapitulation. The best skies of the ancients are, in quality, inimitable, but in rendering of various truth, childish. 215

CHAPTER II.—Of Truth of Clouds:—First, of the Region of the Cirrus.

Sec. 1. Difficulty of ascertaining wherein the truth of clouds consists. 216 Sec. 2. Variation of their character at different elevations. The three regions to which they may conveniently be considered as belonging. 216 Sec. 3. Extent of the upper region. 217 Sec. 4. The symmetrical arrangement of its clouds. 217 Sec. 5. Their exceeding delicacy. 218 Sec. 6. Their number. 218 Sec. 7. Causes of their peculiarly delicate coloring. 219 Sec. 8. Their variety of form. 219 Sec. 9. Total absence of even the slightest effort at their representation, in ancient landscape. 220 Sec. 10. The intense and constant study of them by Turner. 221 Sec. 11. His vignette, Sunrise on the Sea. 222 Sec. 12. His use of the cirrus in expressing mist. 223 Sec. 13. His consistency in every minor feature. 224 Sec. 14. The color of the upper clouds. 224 Sec. 15. Recapitulation. 225

CHAPTER III.—Of Truth of Clouds:—Secondly, of the Central Cloud Region.

Sec. 1. Extent and typical character of the central cloud region. 226 Sec. 2. Its characteristic clouds, requiring no attention nor thought for their representation, are therefore favorite subjects with the old masters. 226 Sec. 3. The clouds of Salvator and Poussin. 227 Sec. 4. Their essential characters. 227 Sec. 5. Their angular forms and general decision of outline. 228 Sec. 6. The composition of their minor curves. 229 Sec. 7. Their characters, as given by S. Rosa. 230 Sec. 8. Monotony and falsehood of the clouds of the Italian school generally. 230 Sec. 9. Vast size of congregated masses of cloud. 231 Sec. 10. Demonstrable by comparison with mountain ranges. 231 Sec. 11. And consequent divisions and varieties of feature. 232 Sec. 12. Not lightly to be omitted. 232 Sec. 13. Imperfect conceptions of this size and extent in ancient landscape. 233 Sec. 14. Total want of transparency and evanescence in the clouds of ancient landscape. 234 Sec. 15. Farther proof of their deficiency in space. 235 Sec. 16. Instance of perfect truth in the sky of Turner's Babylon. 236 Sec. 17. And in his Pools of Solomon. 237 Sec. 18. Truths of outline and character in his Como. 237 Sec. 19. Association of the cirrostratus with the cumulus. 238 Sec. 20. The deep-based knowledge of the Alps in Turner's Lake of Geneva. 238 Sec. 21. Farther principles of cloud form exemplified in his Amalfi. 239 Sec. 22. Reasons for insisting on the infinity of Turner's works. Infinity is almost an unerring test of all truth. 239 Sec. 23. Instances of the total want of it in the works of Salvator. 240 Sec. 24. And of the universal presence of it in those of Turner. The conclusions which may be arrived at from it. 240 Sec. 25. The multiplication of objects, or increase of their size, will not give the impression of infinity, but is the resource of novices. 241 Sec. 26. Farther instances of infinity in the gray skies of Turner. 242 Sec. 27. The excellence of the cloud-drawing of Stanfield. 242 Sec. 28. The average standing of the English school. 243

CHAPTER IV.—Of Truth of Clouds:—Thirdly, of the Region of the Rain-Cloud.

Sec. 1. The apparent difference in character between the lower and central clouds is dependent chiefly on proximity. 244 Sec. 2. Their marked differences in color. 244 Sec. 3. And in definiteness of form. 245 Sec. 4. They are subject to precisely the same great laws. 245 Sec. 5. Value, to the painter, of the rain-cloud. 246 Sec. 6. The old masters have not left a single instance of the painting of the rain-cloud, and very few efforts at it. Gaspar Poussin's storms. 247 Sec. 7. The great power of the moderns in this respect. 248 Sec. 8. Works of Copley Fielding. 248 Sec. 9. His peculiar truth. 248 Sec. 10. His weakness, and its probable cause. 249 Sec. 11. Impossibility of reasoning on the rain-clouds of Turner from engravings. 250 Sec. 12. His rendering of Fielding's particular moment in the Jumieges. 250 Sec. 13. Illustration of the nature of clouds in the opposed forms of smoke and steam. 250 Sec. 14. Moment of retiring rain in the Llanthony. 251 Sec. 15. And of commencing, chosen with peculiar meaning for Loch Coriskin. 252 Sec. 16. The drawing of transparent vapor in the Land's End. 253 Sec. 17. The individual character of its parts. 253 Sec. 18. Deep-studied form of swift rain-cloud in the Coventry. 254 Sec. 19. Compared with forms given by Salvator. 254 Sec. 20. Entire expression of tempest by minute touches and circumstances in the Coventry. 255 Sec. 21. Especially by contrast with a passage of extreme repose. 255 Sec. 22. The truth of this particular passage. Perfectly pure blue sky only seen after rain, and how seen. 256 Sec. 23. Absence of this effect in the works of the old masters. 256 Sec. 24. Success of our water-color artists in its rendering. Use of it by Turner. 257 Sec. 25. Expression of near rain-cloud in the Gosport, and other works. 257 Sec. 26. Contrasted with Gaspar Poussin's rain-cloud in the Dido and Aeneas. 258 Sec. 27. Turner's power of rendering mist. 258 Sec. 28. His effects of mist so perfect, that if not at once understood, they can no more be explained or reasoned on than nature herself. 259 Sec. 29. Various instances. 259 Sec. 30. Turner's more violent effects of tempest are never rendered by engravers. 260 Sec. 31. General system of landscape engraving. 260 Sec. 32. The storm in the Stonehenge. 260 Sec. 33. General character of such effects as given by Turner. His expression of falling rain. 261 Sec. 34. Recapitulation of the section. 261 Sec. 35. Sketch of a few of the skies of nature, taken as a whole, compared with the works of Turner and of the old masters. Morning on the plains. 262 Sec. 36. Noon with gathering storms. 263 Sec. 37. Sunset in tempest. Serene midnight. 264 Sec. 38. And sunrise on the Alps. 264

CHAPTER V.—Effects of Light rendered by Modern Art.

Sec. 1. Reasons for merely, at present, naming, without examining the particular effects of light rendered by Turner. 266 Sec. 2. Hopes of the author for assistance in the future investigation of them. 266



CHAPTER I.—Of General Structure.

Sec. 1. First laws of the organization of the earth, and their importance in art. 270 Sec. 2. The slight attention ordinarily paid to them. Their careful study by modern artists. 271 Sec. 3. General structure of the earth. The hills are its action, the plains its rest. 271 Sec. 4. Mountains come out from underneath the plains, and are their support. 272 Sec. 5. Structure of the plains themselves. Their perfect level, when deposited by quiet water. 273 Sec. 6. Illustrated by Turner's Marengo. 273 Sec. 7. General divisions of formation resulting from this arrangement. Plan of investigation. 274

CHAPTER II.—Of the Central Mountains.

Sec. 1. Similar character of the central peaks in all parts of the world. 275 Sec. 2. Their arrangements in pyramids or wedges, divided by vertical fissures. 275 Sec. 3. Causing groups of rock resembling an artichoke or rose. 276 Sec. 4. The faithful statement of these facts by Turner in his Alps at Daybreak. 276 Sec. 5. Vignette of the Andes and others. 277 Sec. 6. Necessary distance, and consequent aerial effect on all such mountains. 277 Sec. 7. Total want of any rendering of their phenomena in ancient art. 278 Sec. 8. Character of the representations of Alps in the distances of Claude. 278 Sec. 9. Their total want of magnitude and aerial distance. 279 Sec. 10. And violation of specific form. 280 Sec. 11. Even in his best works. 280 Sec. 12. Farther illustration of the distant character of mountain chains. 281 Sec. 13. Their excessive appearance of transparency. 281 Sec. 14. Illustrated from the works of Turner and Stanfield. The Borromean Islands of the latter. 282 Sec. 15. Turner's Arona. 283 Sec. 16. Extreme distance of large objects always characterized by very sharp outline. 283 Sec. 17. Want of this decision in Claude. 284 Sec. 18. The perpetual rendering of it by Turner. 285 Sec. 19. Effects of snow, how imperfectly studied. 285 Sec. 20. General principles of its forms on the Alps. 287 Sec. 21. Average paintings of Switzerland. Its real spirit has scarcely yet been caught. 289

CHAPTER III.—Of the Inferior Mountains.

Sec. 1. The inferior mountains are distinguished from the central, by being divided into beds. 290 Sec. 2. Farther division of these beds by joints. 290 Sec. 3. And by lines of lamination. 291 Sec. 4. Variety and seeming uncertainty under which these laws are manifested. 291 Sec. 5. The perfect expression of them in Turner's Loch Coriskin. 292 Sec. 6. Glencoe and other works. 293 Sec. 7. Especially the Mount Lebanon. 293 Sec. 8. Compared with the work of Salvator. 294 Sec. 9. And of Poussin. 295 Sec. 10. Effects of external influence on mountain form. 296 Sec. 11. The gentle convexity caused by aqueous erosion. 297 Sec. 12. And the effect of the action of torrents. 297 Sec. 13. The exceeding simplicity of contour caused by these influences. 298 Sec. 14. And multiplicity of feature. 299 Sec. 15. Both utterly neglected in ancient art. 299 Sec. 16. The fidelity of treatment in Turner's Daphne and Leucippus. 300 Sec. 17. And in the Avalanche and Inundation. 300 Sec. 18. The rarity among secondary hills of steep slopes or high precipices. 301 Sec. 19. And consequent expression of horizontal distance in their ascent. 302 Sec. 20. Full statement of all these facts in various works of Turner.—Caudebec, etc. 302 Sec. 21. The use of considering geological truths. 303 Sec. 22. Expression of retiring surface by Turner contrasted with the work of Claude. 304 Sec. 23. The same moderation of slope in the contours of his higher hills. 304 Sec. 24. The peculiar difficulty of investigating the more essential truths of hill outline. 305 Sec. 25. Works of other modern artists.—Clarkson Stanfield. 305 Sec. 26. Importance of particular and individual truth in hill drawing. 306 Sec. 27. Works of Copley Fielding. His high feeling. 307 Sec. 28. Works of J. D. Harding and others. 308

CHAPTER IV.—Of the Foreground.

Sec. 1. What rocks were the chief components of ancient landscape foreground. 309 Sec. 2. Salvator's limestones. The real characters of the rock. Its fractures, and obtuseness of angles. 309 Sec. 3. Salvator's acute angles caused by the meeting of concave curves. 310 Sec. 4. Peculiar distinctness of light and shade in the rocks of nature. 311 Sec. 5. Peculiar confusion of both in the rocks of Salvator. 311 Sec. 6. And total want of any expression of hardness or brittleness. 311 Sec. 7. Instances in particular pictures. 312 Sec. 8. Compared with the works of Stanfield. 312 Sec. 9. Their absolute opposition in every particular. 313 Sec. 10. The rocks of J. D. Harding. 313 Sec. 11. Characters of loose earth and soil. 314 Sec. 12. Its exceeding grace and fulness of feature. 315 Sec. 13. The ground of Teniers. 315 Sec. 14. Importance of these minor parts and points. 316 Sec. 15. The observance of them is the real distinction between the master and the novice. 316 Sec. 16. Ground of Cuyp. 317 Sec. 17. And of Claude. 317 Sec. 18. The entire weakness and childishness of the latter. 318 Sec. 19. Compared with the work of Turner. 318 Sec. 20. General features of Turner's foreground. 319 Sec. 21. Geological structure of his rocks in the Fall of the Tees. 319 Sec. 22. Their convex surfaces and fractured edges. 319 Sec. 23. And perfect unity. 320 Sec. 24. Various parts whose history is told us by the details of the drawing. 321 Sec. 25. Beautiful instance of an exception to general rules in the Llanthony. 321 Sec. 26. Turner's drawing of detached blocks of weathered stone. 322 Sec. 27. And of complicated foreground. 323 Sec. 28. And of loose soil. 323 Sec. 29. The unison of all in the ideal foregrounds of the Academy pictures. 324 Sec. 30. And the great lesson to be received from all. 324



CHAPTER I.—Of Water, as Painted by the Ancients.

Sec. 1. Sketch of the functions and infinite agency of water. 325 Sec. 2. The ease with which a common representation of it may be given. The impossibility of a faithful one. 325 Sec. 3. Difficulty of properly dividing the subject. 326 Sec. 4. Inaccuracy of study of water-effect among all painters. 326 Sec. 5. Difficulty of treating this part of the subject. 328 Sec. 6. General laws which regulate the phenomena of water. First, The imperfection of its reflective surface. 329 Sec. 7. The inherent hue of water modifies dark reflections, and does not affect right ones. 330 Sec. 8. Water takes no shadow. 331 Sec. 9. Modification of dark reflections by shadow. 332 Sec. 10. Examples on the waters of the Rhone. 333 Sec. 11. Effect of ripple on distant water. 335 Sec. 12. Elongation of reflections by moving water. 335 Sec. 13. Effect of rippled water on horizontal and inclined images. 336 Sec. 14. To what extent reflection is visible from above. 336 Sec. 15. Deflection of images on agitated water. 337 Sec. 16. Necessity of watchfulness as well as of science. Licenses, how taken by great men. 337 Sec. 17. Various licenses or errors in water painting of Claude, Cuyp, Vandevelde. 339 Sec. 18. And Canaletto. 341 Sec. 19. Why unpardonable. 342 Sec. 20. The Dutch painters of sea. 343 Sec. 21. Ruysdael, Claude, and Salvator. 344 Sec. 22. Nicolo Poussin. 345 Sec. 23. Venetians and Florentines. Conclusion. 346

CHAPTER II.—Of Water, as Painted by the Moderns.

Sec. 1. General power of the moderns in painting quiet water. The lakes of Fielding. 348 Sec. 2. The calm rivers of De Wint, J. Holland, &c. 348 Sec. 3. The character of bright and violent falling water. 349 Sec. 4. As given by Nesfield. 349 Sec. 5. The admirable water-drawing of J. D. Harding. 350 Sec. 6. His color; and painting of sea. 350 Sec. 7. The sea of Copley Fielding. Its exceeding grace and rapidity. 351 Sec. 8. Its high aim at character. 351 Sec. 9. But deficiency in the requisite quality of grays. 352 Sec. 10. Variety of the grays of nature. 352 Sec. 11. Works of Stanfield. His perfect knowledge and power. 353 Sec. 12. But want of feeling. General sum of truth presented by modern art. 353

CHAPTER III.—Of Water, as Painted by Turner.

Sec. 1. The difficulty of giving surface to smooth water. 355 Sec. 2. Is dependent on the structure of the eye, and the focus by which the reflected rays are perceived. 355 Sec. 3. Morbid clearness occasioned in painting of water by distinctness of reflections. 356 Sec. 4. How avoided by Turner. 357 Sec. 5. All reflections on distant water are distinct. 357 Sec. 6. The error of Vandevelde. 358 Sec. 7. Difference in arrangement of parts between the reflected object and its image. 359 Sec. 8. Illustrated from the works of Turner. 359 Sec. 9. The boldness and judgment shown in the observance of it. 360 Sec. 10. The texture of surface in Turner's painting of calm water. 361 Sec. 11. Its united qualities. 361 Sec. 12. Relation of various circumstances of past agitation, &c., by the most trifling incidents, as in the Cowes. 363 Sec. 13. In scenes on the Loire and Seine. 363 Sec. 14. Expression of contrary waves caused by recoil from shore. 364 Sec. 15. Various other instances. 364 Sec. 16. Turner's painting of distant expanses of water.—Calm, interrupted by ripple. 365 Sec. 17. And rippled, crossed by sunshine. 365 Sec. 18. His drawing of distant rivers. 366 Sec. 19. And of surface associated with mist. 367 Sec. 20. His drawing of falling water, with peculiar expression of weight. 367 Sec. 21. The abandonment and plunge of great cataracts. How given by him. 368 Sec. 22. Difference in the action of water, when continuous and when interrupted. The interrupted stream fills the hollows of its bed. 369 Sec. 23. But the continuous stream takes the shape of its bed. 370 Sec. 24. Its exquisite curved lines. 370 Sec. 25. Turner's careful choice of the historical truth. 370 Sec. 26. His exquisite drawing of the continuous torrent in the Llanthony Abbey. 371 Sec. 27. And of the interrupted torrent in the Mercury and Argus. 372 Sec. 28. Various cases. 372 Sec. 29. Sea painting. Impossibility of truly representing foam. 373 Sec. 30. Character of shore-breakers, also inexpressible. 374 Sec. 31. Their effect how injured when seen from the shore. 375 Sec. 32. Turner's expression of heavy rolling sea. 376 Sec. 33. With peculiar expression of weight. 376 Sec. 34. Peculiar action of recoiling waves. 377 Sec. 35. And of the stroke of a breaker on the shore. 377 Sec. 36. General character of sea on a rocky coast given by Turner in the Land's End. 378 Sec. 37. Open seas of Turner's earlier time. 379 Sec. 38. Effect of sea after prolonged storm. 380 Sec. 39. Turner's noblest work, the painting of the deep open sea in the Slave Ship. 382 Sec. 40. Its united excellences and perfection as a whole. 383



CHAPTER I.—Of Truth of Vegetation.

Sec. 1. Frequent occurrence of foliage in the works of the old masters. 384 Sec. 2. Laws common to all forest trees. Their branches do not taper, but only divide. 385 Sec. 3. Appearance of tapering caused by frequent buds. 385 Sec. 4. And care of nature to conceal the parallelism. 386 Sec. 5. The degree of tapering which may be represented as continuous. 386 Sec. 6. The trees of Gaspar Poussin. 386 Sec. 7. And of the Italian school generally, defy this law. 387 Sec. 8. The truth, as it is given by J. D. Harding. 387 Sec. 9. Boughs, in consequence of this law, must diminish where they divide. Those of the old masters often do not. 388 Sec. 10. Boughs must multiply as they diminish. Those of the old masters do not. 389 Sec. 11. Bough-drawing of Salvator. 390 Sec. 12. All these errors especially shown in Claude's sketches, and concentrated in a work of G. Poussin's. 391 Sec. 13. Impossibility of the angles of boughs being taken out of them by wind. 392 Sec. 14. Bough-drawing of Titian. 392 Sec. 15. Bough-drawing of Turner. 394 Sec. 16. Leafage. Its variety and symmetry. 394 Sec. 17. Perfect regularity of Poussin. 395 Sec. 18. Exceeding intricacy of nature's foliage. 396 Sec. 19. How contradicted by the tree-patterns of G. Poussin. 396 Sec. 20. How followed by Creswick. 397 Sec. 21. Perfect unity in nature's foliage. 398 Sec. 22. Total want of it in Both and Hobbima. 398 Sec. 23. How rendered by Turner. 399 Sec. 24. The near leafage of Claude. His middle distances are good. 399 Sec. 25. Universal termination of trees in symmetrical curves. 400 Sec. 26. Altogether unobserved by the old masters. Always given by Turner. 401 Sec. 27. Foliage painting on the Continent. 401 Sec. 28. Foliage of J. D. Harding. Its deficiencies. 402 Sec. 29. His brilliancy of execution too manifest. 403 Sec. 30. His bough-drawing, and choice of form. 404 Sec. 31. Local color, how far expressible in black and white, and with what advantage. 404 Sec. 32. Opposition between great manner and great knowledge. 406 Sec. 33. Foliage of Cox, Fielding, and Cattermole. 406 Sec. 34. Hunt and Creswick. Green, how to be rendered expressive of light, and offensive if otherwise. 407 Sec. 35. Conclusion. Works of J. Linnel and S. Palmer. 407

CHAPTER II.—General remarks respecting the Truth of Turner.

Sec. 1. No necessity of entering into discussion of architectural truth. 409 Sec. 2. Extreme difficulty of illustrating or explaining the highest truth. 410 Sec. 3. The positive rank of Turner is in no degree shown in the foregoing pages, but only his relative rank. 410 Sec. 4. The exceeding refinement of his truth. 411 Sec. 5. There is nothing in his works which can be enjoyed without knowledge. 411 Sec. 6. And nothing which knowledge will not enable us to enjoy. 412 Sec. 7. His former rank and progress. 412 Sec. 8. Standing of his present works. Their mystery is the consequence of their fulness. 413

CHAPTER III.—Conclusion.—Modern Art and Modern Criticism.

Sec. 1. The entire prominence hitherto given to the works of one artist caused only by our not being able to take cognizance of character. 414 Sec. 2. The feelings of different artists are incapable of full comparison. 415 Sec. 3. But the fidelity and truth of each are capable of real comparison. 415 Sec. 4. Especially because they are equally manifested in the treatment of all subjects. 415 Sec. 5. No man draws one thing well, if he can draw nothing else. 416 Sec. 6. General conclusions to be derived from our past investigation. 417 Sec. 7. Truth, a standard of all excellence. 417 Sec. 8. Modern criticism. Changefulness of public taste. 418 Sec. 9. Yet associated with a certain degree of judgment. 418 Sec. 10. Duty of the press. 418 Sec. 11. Qualifications necessary for discharging it. 418 Sec. 12. General incapability of modern critics. 419 Sec. 13. And inconsistency with themselves. 419 Sec. 14. How the press may really advance the cause of art. 420 Sec. 15. Morbid fondness at the present day for unfinished works. 420 Sec. 16. By which the public defraud themselves. 421 Sec. 17. And in pandering to which, artists ruin themselves. 421 Sec. 18. Necessity of finishing works of art perfectly. 421 Sec. 19. Sketches not sufficiently encouraged. 422 Sec. 20. Brilliancy of execution or efforts at invention not to be tolerated in young artists. 422 Sec. 21. The duty and after privileges of all students. 423 Sec. 22. Necessity among our greater artists of more singleness of aim. 423 Sec. 23. What should be their general aim. 425 Sec. 24. Duty of the press with respect to the works of Turner. 427



Casa Contarini Fasan, Venice 110 From a drawing by Ruskin.

The Dogana, and Santa Maria della Salute, Venice 136 From a painting by Turner.

Okehampton Castle 258 From a painting by Turner.

Port Ruysdael 376 From a painting by Turner.








Sec. 1. Public opinion no criterion of excellence, except after long periods of time.

If it be true, and it can scarcely be disputed, that nothing has been for centuries consecrated by public admiration, without possessing in a high degree some kind of sterling excellence, it is not because the average intellect and feeling of the majority of the public are competent in any way to distinguish what is really excellent, but because all erroneous opinion is inconsistent, and all ungrounded opinion transitory; so that while the fancies and feelings which deny deserved honor and award what is undue have neither root nor strength sufficient to maintain consistent testimony for a length of time, the opinions formed on right grounds by those few who are in reality competent judges, being necessarily stable, communicate themselves gradually from mind to mind, descending lower as they extend wider, until they leaven the whole lump, and rule by absolute authority, even where the grounds and reasons for them cannot be understood. On this gradual victory of what is consistent over what is vacillating, depends the reputation of all that is highest in art and literature. For It is an insult to what is really great in either, to suppose that it in any way addresses itself to mean or uncultivated faculties. It is a matter of the simplest demonstration, that no man can be really appreciated but by his equal or superior. His inferior may over-estimate him in enthusiasm; or, as is more commonly the case, degrade him, in ignorance; but he cannot form a grounded and just estimate. Without proving this, however—which it would take more space to do than I can spare—it is sufficiently evident that there is no process of amalgamation by which opinions, wrong individually, can become right merely by their multitude.[1] If I stand by a picture in the Academy, and hear twenty persons in succession admiring some paltry piece of mechanism or imitation in the lining of a cloak, or the satin of a slipper, it is absurd to tell me that they reprobate collectively what they admire individually: or, if they pass with apathy by a piece of the most noble conception or most perfect truth, because it has in it no tricks of the brush nor grimace of expression, it is absurd to tell me that they collectively respect what they separately scorn, or that the feelings and knowledge of such judges, by any length of time or comparison of ideas, could come to any right conclusion with respect to what is really high in art. The question is not decided by them, but for them;—decided at first by few: by fewer in proportion as the merits of the work are of a higher order. From these few the decision is communicated to the number next below them in rank of mind, and by these again to a wider and lower circle; each rank being so far cognizant of the superiority of that above it, as to receive its decision with respect; until, in process of time, the right and consistent opinion is communicated to all, and held by all as a matter of faith, the more positively in proportion as the grounds of it are less perceived.[2]

Sec. 2. And therefore obstinate when once formed.

Sec. 3. The author's reasons for opposing it in particular instances.

Sec. 4. But only on points capable of demonstration.

But when this process has taken place, and the work has become sanctified by time in the minds of men, it is impossible that any new work of equal merit can be impartially compared with it, except by minds not only educated and generally capable of appreciating merit, but strong enough to shake off the weight of prejudice and association, which invariably incline them to the older favorite. It is much easier, says Barry, to repeat the character recorded of Phidias, than to investigate the merits of Agasias. And when, as peculiarly in the case of painting, much knowledge of what is technical and practical is necessary to a right judgment, so that those alone are competent to pronounce a true verdict who are themselves the persons to be judged, and who therefore can give no opinion, centuries may elapse before fair comparison can be made between two artists of different ages; while the patriarchal excellence exercises during the interval a tyrannical—perhaps, even a blighting, influence over the minds, both of the public and of those to whom, properly understood, it should serve for a guide and example. In no city of Europe where art is a subject of attention, are its prospects so hopeless, or its pursuits so resultless, as in Rome; because there, among all students, the authority of their predecessors in art is supreme and without appeal, and the mindless copyist studies Raffaelle, but not what Raffaelle studied. It thus becomes the duty of every one capable of demonstrating any definite points of superiority in modern art, and who is in a position in which his doing so will not be ungraceful, to encounter without hesitation whatever opprobrium may fall upon him from the necessary prejudice even of the most candid minds, and from the far more virulent opposition of those who have no hope of maintaining their own reputation for discernment but in the support of that kind of consecrated merit which may be applauded without an inconvenient necessity for reasons. It is my purpose, therefore, believing that there are certain points of superiority in modern artists, and especially in one or two of their number, which have not yet been fully understood, except by those who are scarcely in a position admitting the declaration of their conviction, to institute a close comparison between the great works of ancient and modern landscape art, to raise, as far as possible, the deceptive veil of imaginary light through which we are accustomed to gaze upon the patriarchal work, and to show the real relations, whether favorable or otherwise, subsisting between it and our own. I am fully aware that this is not to be done lightly or rashly; that it is the part of every one proposing to undertake such a task strictly to examine, with prolonged doubt and severe trial, every opinion in any way contrary to the sacred verdict of time, and to advance nothing which does not, at least in his own conviction, rest on surer ground than mere feeling or taste. I have accordingly advanced nothing in the following pages but with accompanying demonstration, which may indeed be true or false—complete or conditional, but which can only be met on its own grounds, and can in no way be borne down or affected by mere authority of great names. Yet even thus I should scarcely have ventured to speak so decidedly as I have, but for my full conviction that we ought not to class the historical painters of the fifteenth, and landscape painters of the seventeenth, centuries, together, under the general title of "old masters," as if they possessed anything like corresponding rank in their respective walks of art. I feel assured that the principles on which they worked are totally opposed, and that the landscape painters have been honored only because they exhibited in mechanical and technical qualities some semblance of the manner of the nobler historical painters, whose principles of conception and composition they entirely reversed. The course of study which has led me reverently to the feet of Michael Angelo and Da Vinci, has alienated me gradually from Claude and Gaspar—I cannot at the same time do homage to power and pettiness—to the truth of consummate science, and the mannerism of undisciplined imagination. And let it be understood that whenever hereafter I speak depreciatingly of the old masters as a body, I refer to none of the historical painters, for whom I entertain a veneration, which though I hope reasonable in its grounds, is almost superstitious in degree. Neither, unless he be particularly mentioned, do I intend to include Nicholas Poussin, whose landscapes have a separate and elevated character, which renders it necessary to consider them apart from all others. Speaking generally of the older masters, I refer only to Claude, Gaspar Poussin, Salvator Rosa, Cuyp, Berghem, Both, Ruysdael, Hobbima, Teniers, (in his landscapes,) P. Potter, Canaletti, and the various Van somethings, and Back somethings, more especially and malignantly those who have libelled the sea.

It will of course be necessary for me in the commencement of the work to state briefly those principles on which I conceive all right judgment of art must be founded. These introductory chapters I should wish to be read carefully, because all criticism must be useless when the terms or grounds of it are in any degree ambiguous; and the ordinary language of connoisseurs and critics, granting that they understand it themselves, is usually mere jargon to others, from their custom of using technical terms, by which everything is meant, and nothing is expressed.

Sec. 5. The author's partiality to modern works excusable.

And if, in the application of these principles, in spite of my endeavor to render it impartial, the feeling and fondness which I have for some works of modern art escape me sometimes where it should not, let it be pardoned as little more than a fair counterbalance to that peculiar veneration with which the work of the older master, associated as it has ever been in our ears with the expression of whatever is great or perfect, must be usually regarded by the reader. I do not say that this veneration is wrong, nor that we should be less attentive to the repeated words of time: but let us not forget, that if honor be for the dead, gratitude can only be for the living. He who has once stood beside the grave, to look back upon the companionship which has been forever closed, feeling how impotent there are the wild love, or the keen sorrow, to give one instant's pleasure to the pulseless heart, or atone in the lowest measure to the departed spirit for the hour of unkindness, will scarcely for the future incur that debt to the heart, which can only be discharged to the dust. But the lesson which men receive as individuals, they do not learn as nations. Again and again they have seen their noblest descend into the grave, and have thought it enough to garland the tombstone when they had not crowned the brow, and to pay the honor to the ashes, which they had denied to the spirit. Let it not displease them that they are bidden, amidst the tumult and the dazzle of their busy life, to listen for the few voices, and watch for the few lamps, which God has toned and lighted to charm and to guide them, that they may not learn their sweetness by their silence, nor their light by their decay.


[1] The opinion of a majority is right only when it is more probable with each individual that he should be right than that he should be wrong, as in the case of a jury. Where it is more probable, with respect to each individual, that he should be wrong than right, the opinion of the minority is the true one. Thus it is in art.

[2] There are, however, a thousand modifying circumstances which render this process sometimes unnecessary,—sometimes rapid and certain—sometimes impossible. It is unnecessary in rhetoric and the drama, because the multitude is the only proper judge of those arts whose end is to move the multitude (though more is necessary to a fine play than is essentially dramatic, and it is only of the dramatic part that the multitude are cognizant). It is unnecessary, when, united with the higher qualities of a work, there are appeals to universal passion, to all the faculties and feelings which are general in man as an animal. The popularity is then as sudden as it is well grounded,—it is hearty and honest in every mind, but it is based in every mind on a different species of excellence. Such will often be the case with the noblest works of literature. Take Don Quixote for example. The lowest mind would find in it perpetual and brutal amusement in the misfortunes of the knight, and perpetual pleasure in sympathy with the squire. A mind of average feeling would perceive the satirical meaning and force of the book, would appreciate its wit, its elegance, and its truth. But only elevated and peculiar minds discover, in addition to all this, the full moral beauty of the love and truth which are the constant associates of all that is even most weak and erring in the character of its hero, and pass over the rude adventure and scurrile jest in haste—perhaps in pain, to penetrate beneath the rusty corselet, and catch from the wandering glance the evidence and expression of fortitude, self-devotion, and universal love. So, again, with the works of Scott and Byron; popularity was as instant as it was deserved, because there is in them an appeal to those passions which are universal in all men, as well as an expression of such thoughts as can be received only by the few. But they are admired by the majority of their advocates for the weakest parts of their works, as a popular preacher by the majority of his congregation for the worst part of his sermon.

The process is rapid and certain, when, though there may be little to catch the multitude at once, there is much which they can enjoy when their attention is authoritatively directed to it. So rests the reputation of Shakspeare. No ordinary mind can comprehend wherein his undisputed superiority consists, but there is yet quite as much to amuse, thrill, or excite,—quite as much of what is, in the strict sense of the word, dramatic, in his works as in any one else's. They were received, therefore, when first written, with average approval, as works of common merit: but when the high decision was made, and the circle spread, the public took up the hue and cry conscientiously enough. Let them have daggers, ghosts, clowns, and kings, and with such real and definite sources of enjoyment, they will take the additional trouble to learn half a dozen quotations, without understanding them, and admit the superiority of Shakspeare without further demur. Nothing, perhaps, can more completely demonstrate the total ignorance of the public of all that is great or valuable in Shakspeare than their universal admiration of Maclise's Hamlet.

The process is impossible when there is in the work nothing to attract and something to disgust the vulgar mind. Neither their intrinsic excellence, nor the authority of those who can judge of it, will ever make the poems of Wordsworth or George Herbert popular, in the sense in which Scott and Byron are popular, because it is to the vulgar a labor instead of a pleasure to read them; and there are parts in them which to such judges cannot but be vapid or ridiculous. Most works of the highest art,—those of Raffaelle, M. Angelo, or Da Vinci,—stand as Shakspeare does,—that which is commonplace and feeble in their excellence being taken for its essence by the uneducated, imagination assisting the impression, (for we readily fancy that we feel, when feeling is a matter of pride or conscience,) and affectation and pretension increasing the noise of the rapture, if not its degree. Giotto, Orgagna, Angelico, Perugino, stand, like George Herbert, only with the few. Wilkie becomes popular, like Scott, because he touches passions which all feel, and expresses truths which all can recognize.



Sec. 1. Distinction between the painter's intellectual power and technical knowledge.

In the 15th Lecture of Sir Joshua Reynolds, incidental notice is taken of the distinction between those excellences in the painter which belong to him as such, and those which belong to him in common with all men of intellect, the general and exalted powers of which art is the evidence and expression, not the subject. But the distinction is not there dwelt upon as it should be, for it is owing to the slight attention ordinarily paid to it, that criticism is open to every form of coxcombry, and liable to every phase of error. It is a distinction on which depend all sound judgment of the rank of the artist, and all just appreciation of the dignity of art.

Sec. 2. Painting, as such, is nothing more than language.

Painting, or art generally, as such, with all its technicalities, difficulties, and particular ends, is nothing but a noble and expressive language, invaluable as the vehicle of thought, but by itself nothing. He who has learned what is commonly considered the whole art of painting, that is, the art of representing any natural object faithfully, has as yet only learned the language by which his thoughts are to be expressed. He has done just as much towards being that which we ought to respect as a great painter, as a man who has learned how to express himself grammatically and melodiously has towards being a great poet. The language is, indeed, more difficult of acquirement in the one case than in the other, and possesses more power of delighting the sense, while it speaks to the intellect, but it is, nevertheless, nothing more than language, and all those excellences which are peculiar to the painter as such, are merely what rhythm, melody, precision and force are in the words of the orator and the poet, necessary to their greatness, but not the tests of their greatness. It is not by the mode of representing and saying, but by what is represented and said, that the respective greatness either of the painter or the writer is to be finally determined.

Sec. 3. "Painter," a term corresponding to "versifier."

Speaking with strict propriety, therefore, we should call a man a great painter only as he excelled in precision and force in the language of lines, and a great versifier, as he excelled in precision or force in the language of words. A great poet would then be a term strictly, and in precisely the same sense applicable to both, if warranted by the character of the images or thoughts which each in their respective languages convey.

Sec. 4. Example in a painting of E. Landseer's.

Take, for instance, one of the most perfect poems or pictures (I use the words as synonymous) which modern times have seen:—the "Old Shepherd's Chief-mourner." Here the exquisite execution of the glossy and crisp hair of the dog, the bright sharp touching of the green bough beside it, the clear painting of the wood of the coffin and the folds of the blanket, are language—language clear and expressive in the highest degree. But the close pressure of the dog's breast against the wood, the convulsive clinging of the paws, which has dragged the blanket off the trestle, the total powerlessness of the head laid, close and motionless, upon its folds, the fixed and tearful fall of the eye in its utter hopelessness, the rigidity of repose which marks that there has been no motion nor change in the trance of agony since the last blow was struck on the coffin-lid, the quietness and gloom of the chamber, the spectacles marking the place where the Bible was last closed, indicating how lonely has been the life—how unwatched the departure of him who is now laid solitary in his sleep;—these are all thoughts—thoughts by which the picture is separated at once from hundreds of equal merit, as far as mere painting goes, by which it ranks as a work of high art, and stamps its author, not as the neat imitator of the texture of a skin, or the fold of a drapery, but as the Man of Mind.

Sec. 5. Difficulty of fixing an exact limit between language and thought.

It is not, however, always easy, either in painting or literature, to determine where the influence of language stops, and where that of thought begins. Many thoughts are so dependent upon the language in which they are clothed, that they would lose half their beauty if otherwise expressed. But the highest thoughts are those which are least dependent on language, and the dignity of any composition and praise to which it is entitled, are in exact proportion to its independency of language or expression. A composition is indeed usually most perfect, when to such intrinsic dignity is added all that expression can do to attract and adorn; but in every case of supreme excellence this all becomes as nothing. We are more gratified by the simplest lines or words which can suggest the idea in its own naked beauty, than by the robe or the gem which conceal while they decorate; we are better pleased to feel by their absence how little they would bestow, than by their presence how much they can destroy.

Sec. 6. Distinction between decorative and expressive language.

There is therefore a distinction to be made between what is ornamental in language and what is expressive. That part of it which is necessary to the embodying and conveying the thought is worthy of respect and attention as necessary to excellence, though not the test of it. But that part of it which is decorative has little more to do with the intrinsic excellence of the picture than the frame or the varnishing of it. And this caution in distinguishing between the ornamental and the expressive is peculiarly necessary in painting; for in the language of words it is nearly impossible for that which is not expressive to be beautiful, except by mere rhythm or melody, any sacrifice to which is immediately stigmatized as error. But the beauty of mere language in painting is not only very attractive and entertaining to the spectator, but requires for its attainment no small exertion of mind and devotion of time by the artist. Hence, in art, men have frequently fancied that they were becoming rhetoricians and poets when they were only learning to speak melodiously, and the judge has over and over again advanced to the honor of authors those who were never more than ornamental writing-masters.

Sec. 7. Instance in the Dutch and early Italian schools.

Most pictures of the Dutch school, for instance, and excepting always those of Rubens, Vandyke, and Rembrandt, are ostentatious exhibitions of the artist's power of speech, the clear and vigorous elocution of useless and senseless words: while the early efforts of Cimabue and Giotto are the burning messages of prophecy, delivered by the stammering lips of infants. It is not by ranking the former as more than mechanics, or the latter as less than artists, that the taste of the multitude, always awake to the lowest pleasures which art can bestow, and blunt to the highest, is to be formed or elevated. It must be the part of the judicious critic carefully to distinguish what is language, and what is thought, and to rank and praise pictures chiefly for the latter, considering the former as a totally inferior excellence, and one which cannot be compared with nor weighed against thought in any way nor in any degree whatsoever. The picture which has the nobler and more numerous ideas, however awkwardly expressed, is a greater and a better picture than that which has the less noble and less numerous ideas, however beautifully expressed. No weight, nor mass, nor beauty of execution can outweigh one grain or fragment of thought. Three penstrokes of Raffaelle are a greater and a better picture than the most finished work that ever Carlo Dolci polished into inanity. A finished work of a great artist is only better than its sketch, if the sources of pleasure belonging to color and realization—valuable in themselves,—are so employed as to increase the impressiveness of the thought. But if one atom of thought has vanished, all color, all finish, all execution, all ornament, are too dearly bought. Nothing but thought can pay for thought, and the instant that the increasing refinement or finish of the picture begins to be paid for by the loss of the faintest shadow of an idea, that instant all refinement or finish is an excrescence, and a deformity.

Sec. 8. Yet there are certain ideas belonging to language itself.

Sec. 9. The definition.

Yet although in all our speculations on art, language is thus to be distinguished from, and held subordinate to, that which it conveys, we must still remember that there are certain ideas inherent in language itself, and that strictly speaking, every pleasure connected with art has in it some reference to the intellect. The mere sensual pleasure of the eye, received from the most brilliant piece of coloring, is as nothing to that which it receives from a crystal prism, except as it depends on our perception of a certain meaning and intended arrangement of color, which has been the subject of intellect. Nay, the term idea, according to Locke's definition of it, will extend even to the sensual impressions themselves as far as they are "things which the mind occupies itself about in thinking," that is, not as they are felt by the eye only, but as they are received by the mind through the eye. So that, if I say that the greatest picture is that which conveys to the mind of the spectator the greatest number of the greatest ideas, I have a definition which will include as subjects of comparison every pleasure which art is capable of conveying. If I were to say, on the contrary, that the best picture was that which most closely imitated nature, I should assume that art could only please by imitating nature, and I should cast out of the pale of criticism those parts of works of art which are not imitative, that is to say, intrinsic beauties of color and form, and those works of art wholly, which, like the arabesques of Raffaelle in the Loggias, are not imitative at all. Now I want a definition of art wide enough to include all its varieties of aim: I do not say therefore that the art is greatest which gives most pleasure, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to teach, and not to please. I do not say that the art is greatest which teaches us most, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to please, and not to teach. I do not say that the art is greatest which imitates best, because perhaps there is some art whose end is to create, and not to imitate. But I say that the art is greatest, which conveys to the mind of the spectator, by any means whatsoever, the greatest number of the greatest ideas, and I call an idea great in proportion as it is received by a higher faculty of the mind, and as it more fully occupies, and in occupying, exercises and exalts, the faculty by which it is received.

If this then be the definition of great art, that of a great artist naturally follows. He is the greatest artist who has embodied, in the sum of his works, the greatest number of the greatest ideas.



The definition of art which I have just given, requires me to determine what kinds of ideas can be received from works of art, and which of these are the greatest, before proceeding to any practical application of the test.

Sec. 1. What classes of ideas are conveyable by art.

I think that all the sources of pleasure, or any other good, to be derived from works of art, may be referred to five distinct heads.

I. Ideas of Power.—The perception or conception of the mental or bodily powers by which the work has been produced.

II. Ideas of Imitation.—The perception that the thing produced resembles something else.

III. Ideas of Truth.—The perception of faithfulness in a statement of facts by the thing produced.

IV. Ideas of Beauty.—The perception of beauty, either in the thing produced, or in what it suggests or resembles.

V. Ideas of Relation.—The perception of intellectual relations, in the thing produced, or in what it suggests or resembles.

I shall briefly distinguish the nature and effects of each of these classes of ideas.

Sec. 2. Ideas of power vary much in relative dignity.

I. Ideas of Power.—These are the simple perception of the mental or bodily powers exerted in the production of any work of art. According to the dignity and degree of the power perceived is the dignity of the idea; but the whole class of ideas is received by the intellect, and they excite the best of the moral feelings, veneration, and the desire of exertion. As a species, therefore, they are one of the noblest connected with art; but the differences in degree of dignity among themselves are infinite, being correspondent with every order of power,—from that of the fingers to that of the most exalted intellect. Thus, when we see an Indian's paddle carved from the handle to the blade, we have a conception of prolonged manual labor, and are gratified in proportion to the supposed expenditure of time and exertion. These are, indeed, powers of a low order, yet the pleasure arising from the conception of them enters very largely indeed into our admiration of all elaborate ornament, architectural decoration, etc. The delight with which we look on the fretted front of Rouen Cathedral depends in no small degree on the simple perception of time employed and labor expended in its production. But it is a right, that is, an ennobling pleasure, even in this its lowest phase; and even the pleasure felt by those persons who praise a drawing for its "finish," or its "work," which is one precisely of the same kind, would be right, if it did not imply a want of perception of the higher powers which render work unnecessary. If to the evidence of labor be added that of strength or dexterity, the sensation of power is yet increased; if to strength and dexterity be added that of ingenuity and judgment, it is multiplied tenfold, and so on, through all the subjects of action of body or mind, we receive the more exalted pleasure from the more exalted power.

Sec. 3. But are received from whatever has been the subject of power. The meaning of the word "excellence."

So far the nature and effects of ideas of power cannot but be admitted by all. But the circumstance which I wish especially to insist upon, with respect to them, is one which may not, perhaps, be so readily allowed, namely, that they are independent of the nature or worthiness of the object from which they are received, and that whatever has been the subject of a great power, whether there be intrinsic and apparent worthiness in itself or not, bears with it the evidence of having been so, and is capable of giving the ideas of power, and the consequent pleasures, in their full degree. For observe, that a thing is not properly said to have been the result of a great power, on which only some part of that power has been expended. A nut may be cracked by a steam-engine, but it has not, in being so, been the subject of the power of the engine. And thus it is falsely said of great men, that they waste their lofty powers on unworthy objects: the object may be dangerous or useless, but, as far as the phrase has reference to difficulty of performance, it cannot be unworthy of the power which it brings into exertion, because nothing can become a subject of action to a greater power which can be accomplished by a less, any more than bodily strength can be exerted where there is nothing to resist it.

So then, men may let their great powers lie dormant, while they employ their mean and petty powers on mean and petty objects; but it is physically impossible to employ a great power, except on a great object. Consequently, wherever power of any kind or degree has been exerted, the marks and evidence of it are stamped upon its results: it is impossible that it should be lost or wasted, or without record, even in the "estimation of a hair:" and therefore, whatever has been the subject of a great power bears about with it the image of that which created it, and is what is commonly called "excellent." And this is the true meaning of the word excellent, as distinguished from the terms, "beautiful," "useful," "good," etc.; and we shall always, in future, use the word excellent, as signifying that the thing to which it is applied required a great power for its production.[3]

Sec. 4. What is necessary to the distinguishing of excellence.

The faculty of perceiving what powers are required for the production of a thing, is the faculty of perceiving excellence. It is this faculty in which men, even of the most cultivated taste, must always be wanting, unless they have added practice to reflection; because none can estimate the power manifested in victory, unless they have personally measured the strength to be overcome. Though, therefore, it is possible, by the cultivation of sensibility and judgment, to become capable of distinguishing what is beautiful, it is totally impossible, without practice and knowledge, to distinguish or feel what is excellent. The beauty or the truth of Titian's flesh-tint may be appreciated by all; but it is only to the artist, whose multiplied hours of toil have not reached the slightest resemblance of one of its tones, that its excellence is manifest.

Sec. 5. The pleasure attendant on conquering difficulties is right.

Wherever, then, difficulty has been overcome, there is excellence: and therefore, in order to prove excellent, we have only to prove the difficulty of its production: whether it be useful or beautiful is another question; its excellence depends on its difficulty alone. For is it a false or diseased taste which looks for the overcoming of difficulties, and has pleasure in it, even without any view to resultant good. It has been made part of our moral nature that we should have a pleasure in encountering and conquering opposition, for the sake of the struggle and the victory, not for the sake of any after result; and not only our own victory, but the perception of that of another, is in all cases the source of pure and ennobling pleasure. And if we often hear it said, and truly said, that an artist has erred by seeking rather to show his skill in overcoming technical difficulties, than to reach a great end, be it observed that he is only blamed because he has sought to conquer an inferior difficulty rather than a great one; for it is much easier to overcome technical difficulties than to reach a great end. Whenever the visible victory over difficulties is found painful or in false taste, it is owing to the preference of an inferior to a great difficulty, or to the false estimate of what is difficult and what is not. It is far more difficult to be simple than to be complicated; far more difficult to sacrifice skill and cease exertion in the proper place, than to expend both indiscriminately. We shall find, in the course of our investigation, that beauty and difficulty go together; and that they are only mean and paltry difficulties which it is wrong or contemptible to wrestle with. Be it remembered then—Power is never wasted. Whatever power has been employed, produces excellence in proportion to its own dignity and exertion; and the faculty of perceiving this exertion, and appreciating this dignity, is the faculty of perceiving excellence.


[3] Of course the word "excellent" is primarily a mere synonym with "surpassing," and when applied to persons, has the general meaning given by Johnson—"the state of abounding in any good quality." But when applied to things it has always reference to the power by which they are produced. We talk of excellent music or poetry, because it is difficult to compose or write such, but never of excellent flowers, because all flowers being the result of the same power, must be equally excellent. We distinguish them only as beautiful or useful, and therefore, as there is no other one word to signify that quality of a thing produced by which it pleases us merely as the result of power, and as the term "excellent" is more frequently used in this sense than in any other, I choose to limit it at once to this sense, and I wish it, when I use it in future, to be so understood.



Sec. 1. False use of the term "imitation" by many writers of art.

Fuseli, in his lectures, and many other persons of equally just and accurate habits of thought, (among others, S. T. Coleridge,) make a distinction between imitation and copying, representing the first as the legitimate function of art—the latter as its corruption; but as such a distinction is by no means warranted, or explained by the common meaning of the words themselves, it is not easy to comprehend exactly in what sense they are used by those writers. And though, reasoning from the context, I can understand what ideas those words stand for in their minds, I cannot allow the terms to be properly used as symbols of those ideas, which (especially in the case of the word Imitation) are exceedingly complex, and totally different from what most people would understand by the term. And by men of less accurate thought, the word is used still more vaguely or falsely. For instance, Burke (Treatise on the Sublime, part i. sect. 16) says, "When the object represented in poetry or painting is such as we could have no desire of seeing in the reality, then we may be sure that its power in poetry or painting is owing to the power of imitation." In which case the real pleasure may be in what we have been just speaking of, the dexterity of the artist's hand; or it may be in a beautiful or singular arrangement of colors, or a thoughtful chiaroscuro, or in the pure beauty of certain forms which art forces on our notice, though we should not have observed them in the reality; and I conceive that none of these sources of pleasure are in any way expressed or intimated by the term "imitation."

But there is one source of pleasure in works of art totally different from all these, which I conceive to be properly and accurately expressed by the word "imitation:" one which, though constantly confused in reasoning, because it is always associated in fact, with other means of pleasure, is totally separated from them in its nature, and is the real basis of whatever complicated or various meaning may be afterwards attached to the word in the minds of men.

Sec. 2. Real meaning of the term.

Sec. 3. What is requisite to the sense of imitation.

I wish to point out this distinct source of pleasure clearly at once, and only to use the word "imitation" in reference to it. Whenever anything looks like what it is not, the resemblance being so great as nearly to deceive, we feel a kind of pleasurable surprise, an agreeable excitement of mind, exactly the same in its nature as that which we receive from juggling. Whenever we perceive this in something produced by art, that is to say, whenever the work is seen to resemble something which we know it is not, we receive what I call an idea of imitation. Why such ideas are pleasing, it would be out of our present purpose to inquire; we only know that there is no man who does not feel pleasure in his animal nature from gentle surprise, and that such surprise can be excited in no more distinct manner than by the evidence that a thing is not what it appears to be.[4] Now two things are requisite to our complete and more pleasurable perception of this: first, that the resemblance be so perfect as to amount to a deception; secondly, that there be some means of proving at the same moment that it is a deception. The most perfect ideas and pleasures of imitation are, therefore, when one sense is contradicted by another, both bearing as positive evidence on the subject as each is capable of alone; as when the eye says a thing is round, and the finger says it is flat; they are, therefore, never felt in so high a degree as in painting, where appearance of projection, roughness, hair, velvet, etc., are given with a smooth surface, or in wax-work, where the first evidence of the senses is perpetually contradicted by their experience; but the moment we come to marble, our definition checks us, for a marble figure does not look like what it is not: it looks like marble, and like the form of a man, but then it is marble, and it is the form of a man. It does not look like a man, which it is not, but like the form of a man, which it is. Form is form, bona fide and actual, whether in marble or in flesh—not an imitation or resemblance of form, but real form. The chalk outline of the bough of a tree on paper, is not an imitation; it looks like chalk and paper—not like wood, and that which it suggests to the mind is not properly said to be like the form of a bough, it is the form of a bough. Now, then, we see the limits of an idea of imitation; it extends only to the sensation of trickery and deception occasioned by a thing's intentionally seeming different from what it is; and the degree of the pleasure depends on the degree of difference and the perfection of the resemblance, not on the nature of the thing resembled. The simple pleasure in the imitation would be precisely of the same degree, (if the accuracy could be equal,) whether the subject of it were the hero or his horse. There are other collateral sources of pleasure, which are necessarily associated with this, but that part of the pleasure which depends on the imitation is the same in both.

Sec. 4. The pleasure resulting from imitation the most contemptible that can be derived from art.

Ideas of imitation, then, act by producing the simple pleasure of surprise, and that not of surprise in its higher sense and function, but of the mean and paltry surprise which is felt in jugglery. These ideas and pleasures are the most contemptible which can be received from art; first, because it is necessary to their enjoyment that the mind should reject the impression and address of the thing represented, and fix itself only upon the reflection that it is not what it seems to be. All high or noble emotion or thought are thus rendered physically impossible, while the mind exults in what is very like a strictly sensual pleasure. We may consider tears as a result of agony or of art, whichever we please, but not of both at the same moment. If we are surprised by them as an attainment of the one, it is impossible we can be moved by them as a sign of the other.

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