Modern history

CHAPTER VI

ART AND ARCHITECTURE

In the arts of building, painting and sculpture, the nineteenth century starts about 1760. Before that date in most countries art had been a need of the church or the pleasure of court and nobility. From that date the artist, like the writer, began to emancipate himself from patronage. Art became the pursuit of self-reliant, socially emphatically independent men. ‘The unacknowledged legislators of the world’, is what Shelley called the artists, and Schiller ranks the bard with the king; ‘for both walk on the summits of mankind’. The social break is best remembered in this country by Dr Johnson’s letter to Lord Chesterfield, written in 1755:

Is not a Patron, my Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and, when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early, had been kind, but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and cannot enjoy it,... till I am known, and do not want it.

It is characteristic that this remarkably early declaration of liberty should have been written in England. For socially, politically, philosophically, England was the leading country of Europe in the eighteenth century. That this was so in art and architecture too, is less known. It might be denied on the strength of the supreme aesthetic qualities of Watteau’s or Tiepolo’s paintings or the South German and Austrian churches and palaces of the Rococo. But if the later eighteenth century is looked at as a preface to the nineteenth, then it will be recognised beyond any doubt that from road making and canal making, from factory construction (of iron as early as 1792) and bridge construction to the arts of architecture and painting England was ahead at least until the closing years of the century. Eighteenth-century painting on the continent had been chiefly of religious and mythological or otherwise classical subjects, in England of portraits. Now J. H. Mortimer competed for a prize endowed by the Society of Arts, not with a composition from the life of Alexander the Great, but with one representing Edward the Confessor, and William Hamilton painted for Alderman Boydell The Abdication of Mary Queen of Scots, that is to say a scene from national, not from Greek and Roman history. In 1760 Hayman painted the Victory of Quiberon Bay and Clive receiving the Homage of the Nabob, and in 1770 West his celebrated Death of General Wolfe, that is scenes from contemporary, not from long-past history. De Loutherbourg’s Methodist preacher surrounded by a crowd of listeners dates from 1777, Copley’s Brook Watson and the Shark from 1778. They are not history painting at all, but sensational contemporary reportage. And on the side of imaginative painting, visitors to the exhibitions could now derive that gruesome pleasure which in past centuries had been aroused by a Temptation of St Anthony or a Martyrdom of St Agatha, from Fuseli’s Nightmare, shown in 1782, and depicting a woman thrown back on her bed in agony with her bosom bare and a huge ghostly mare peering in through the bed curtains. At the same moment when Fuseli was thus replacing religious by secular sensation (Goya in the Caprichos was to follow soon), Blake replaced a mythology familiar to all members of the educated classes by a private mythology of his own. His Urizens and Luvahs and Loses remained inaccessible to the public. They are entirely individual expressions, and wherever an artist or art as a whole puts the individual before the group, class, nation, or whatever the superordinate unity may be, work of high personal character may result, but the social well-being of art and artist are in danger. Here lies for the art historian one of the basic problems of the nineteenth century.

It was not a completely new problem. The Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century, under a middle-class hegemony, the most conspicuous before that of the nineteenth century, had known similar conditions. The fate of Seghers, and of Rembrandt and Frans Hals in their old age is a foreboding of the fate of Blake, of Corot, of Cezanne, of van Gogh. Another parallel between the nineteenth century and the Holland of Rembrandt’s age is that both are remembered not for their contributions to the Grand Manner, but for the more intimate arts of landscape, portrait, still-life and genre painting. Here, once more, England led the way. Her chief contributions from about 1760, when Reynolds and Gainsborough were mature artists, to at least the years about 1800, when Crome, Girtin, Turner and Constable set to work, were to portrait and landscape painting. The intimacy of Reynolds’s Nelly O’Brien, of so many Gainsborough portraits, of the works of Stubbs and of Zoffany was unmatched on the continent, and so were the observation of nature and the self-abandon in nature (and in native British nature at that) of the landscape painters in oil and water-colours.

The same qualities which appear in their works and those of the portrait painters led the English (at a yet earlier date) to give up the grand formality of French and Italian gardens and replace it by the free asymmetrical layouts known as picturesque. Their freedom—accepted as a corollary of English political freedom—and their naturalness impressed the continent enormously, more perhaps than any other English innovation in art and architecture. In a subtle way they prepared the ground for an architectural style equally free and asymmetrical and picturesque, that is the style predominant in most private and much public architecture of the mid and the later nineteenth century. As to the architecture of 1760 and after, English leadership appears again. It shows itself here in the early abandonment of one accepted taste. The imitation of Palladio’s serene classicism, it is true, went on to 1830 and after, but the essential new facts of about 1760 are the discovery of the real Greek Doric and its occasional adoption by certain architects and clients, and the fashion for Gothic. Here and there yet other styles were imitated, Chinese, Moorish, Hindoo. Conversely an architect like Sir John Soane could evolve his highly personal style, so remarkably independent of period precedent, only at a moment when a self-conscious selection of style had become possible and variety was replacing uniformity.

Variety of style, what Pugin called the ‘Carnival of Architecture’, is the hallmark of architecture for the whole nineteenth century. Yet 1830 marks a clearly definable boundary. Conditions in 1830 and the following decades are here analysed first and foremost in England, because England was specially important in architecture, on account of her great prosperity, the wide range of public and private building that went on, and the religious movements which acted as an equally potent stimulus to church building. The most notable individual building of the period between 1830 and 1870 from our present point of view is no doubt the Crystal Palace. But the Crystal Palace, like the iron-framed factories, the quite numerous iron-framed office buildings put up in the 1850’s and 1860’s, and the bridges, from the Clifton Suspension Bridge designed in 1829 to the Firth of Forth Bridge begun in 1883, was not the work of an architect. These buildings were mostly due to civil engineers, a profession which had separated itself during the early nineteenth century from that of the architect; and the designer of the Crystal Palace, Joseph Paxton (1801-65), was a gardener, horticultural expert and amateur inventor. Some architects and critics could see that iron and glass held the promise of a new style in architecture. Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811-78) for instance, perhaps the most successful architect of the period, wrote that ‘this triumph of modem metallic construction opens out a perfectly new field for architectural development’, but it never occurred to him that this field might be his. Discrepancies between thought and performance are always a sign of weakness. In Victorian architecture they occur everywhere and point to a disturbed balance for which there were many reasons. Architects could not absorb the new materials and techniques, let alone create them, as they had done in the Middle Ages, because architecture as an art had changed its function together with all other arts.

A new class of patrons made new demands. They were a class neither trained in the subtleties and elegances of Georgian taste nor provided with leisure to acquire them. They were for the first time in history patrons altogether short of leisure. The rich man as a hard worker was a new type. Art and architecture to please him had to be of a new kind: eloquent, speaking in rather a loud voice, seeking rather elementary effects, but at the same time sufficiently remote from everyday considerations to fortify their claim to being something special, select, worth while, and worth money. This situation is as evident in painting as it is in architecture. As to architecture, the everyday surroundings in the cities were grim; grim the factories, and grim the miles of uniformly drab housing. Work was a duty, art a superadded ornament. ‘Ornamentation is the principal part of architecture’, taught Ruskin. The ‘great principle’ of architecture was in Scott’s words ‘to decorate construction’. Both definitions ignore planning, that is creation in space, whether the exterior space of a town or a quarter, or the interior space of the rooms of a building. The architect is the designer of facades.

Here lies one explanation of Pugin’s ‘Carnival of Architecture’. Another is that to distinguish between a Grecian and a Gothic facade is so much easier for the busy layman than to distinguish between the aesthetic values of varieties of proportions, of mouldings and similar details. A third is the rapid growth of all factual knowledge, including archaeological knowledge, throughout the nineteenth century. The nineteenth century believed in the provable fact, in scientific accuracy, in the accumulation of data. In terms of architecture that meant volume after volume of measured drawings of Gothic churches in Spain, of the brick buildings of north Germany, of the palace architecture of Tuscany, of the cathedral antiquities of England, of window tracery, capitals and much besides. Architects, confined to the decoration of construction and working for clients impressed by knowledge more than sensitivity, drew freely on these innumerable publications, and so the history of nineteenth-century architecture, as presented in the few textbooks and handbooks devoting any space to it, is a history of the styles imitated. As such it is not without interest.

At the beginning, up to about 1830, churches were mostly classical but could also be Gothic. For private houses the same two styles were available (as they had been in the late eighteenth century). Public buildings were exclusively classical. The first public building in England to disown the rules of Georgian taste was the new Houses of Parliament, for which the competition of 1835 stipulated Gothic or Elizabethan, as the two national styles of England. Gothic won; and Gothic received’ a further strengthening from the fervently propounded theories of A. W. N. Pugin (1812-52), a convert to Rome, the equally fervent, if more verbose and therefore more popular theories of John Ruskin (1819-1900), and the ecclesiological movement started by the Cambridge Camden Society in 1839 and championed in the volumes of The Ecclesiologist. Gothic became thus established in England as the Christian style par excellence. Norman or Romanesque remained relatively rare. Archaeological research gave Gothic churches of the 1840’s and after an earnestness absent from the efforts of the late Georgians. The churches of George Gilbert Scott may be dull, but they are competent. Originality such as can be found in the ecclesiastical architecture of William Butterfield (1819-1900) was rare and not usually welcome. Restraint and a certain unction seemed to belong to church design. The more robust if coarser virtues of Victorian architects and clients appear in secular commissions. In public buildings, besides the Gothic and the Elizabethan a third style was admitted, the Italian Palatial, first established by Charles Barry (1795-1860), the architect of the Houses of Parliament, in the Travellers’ and Reform Clubs in London. In freer, more open and more lustily decorated Cinquecento forms this style became a serious competitor to Gothic for town halls and other official buildings. For private houses Gothic was recommended only by the staunchest Gothicists but Elizabethan and Jacobean were highly popular, as was a debased Italian style which Professor Robert Kerr called Rural Italian. They were all three asymmetrical and picturesque, and displayed broken skylines and restless all-over ornamentation. Add to these accepted styles of the mid-nineteenth century the French Renaissance with its tall pavilion roofs, which reached England in the late 1850’s (and the United States about the same time) and we have all that is needful for a general picture of English architecture in the mid-Victorian era. There were some critics who complained of the absence of an original style in the nineteenth century, but Scott for instance wrote: ‘Eclecticism is a principle of the highest value’; Professor Kerr asserted: ‘Our age has a very notable style of its own, the style of instinct superseded by learning’; and Ruskin in his irritable and pompous manner formulated the same thought as follows: ‘We want no style of architecture The forms of architecture already known are good enough for us, and far better than any of us.... A man who has the gift, will take up any style that is going... and be great in that... ’. His conclusion is that the choice should lie between the Pisan Romanesque, the Early Gothic of Tuscany, Lombardy and Liguria, the Venetian Gothic, and the English Earliest Decorated. As we have seen, the accepted choice was more catholic and less consistent, but choice it was all the same. ‘In what style of architecture shall you build your house?’ is the first sentence of Kerr’s chapter on architectural style.

This attitude is still with us to this day, though the gradual creation of an original style of the twentieth century has reduced its dangers. Its worst danger in its heyday was the almost total lack of interest amongst architects in the most burning problems of building, which were social rather than aesthetic problems, and problems of planning rather than of facade embellishment. How could the precipitously growing working classes of the cities be housed? Tenement houses built specially for them, after a promising start in the 1840’s, became hideously grim in the hands of the Baroness Burdett Coutts, the Peabody Trust and similar philanthropic or profit-making institutions—grimmer visually, though no doubt more hygienic, than the slums of cottages had been which they were to replace. Factories were not designed by professional men and were placed in no planned relation to houses. Schools were sombre, open spaces inadequate, amenities confined to church halls, chapel halls, and public houses. It should have been for the architects and their professional representatives, the Royal Institute of British Architects, to point to these deficiencies and remedy them. But nothing of this sort happened. The architect remained the purveyor of facades.

If this was true of England, it was true of all other nations. The picture just painted of the architectural development in Great Britain between 1830 and 1870 is in no essential way different from that of developments in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the other European countries, or indeed the United States of America in the same period. Accents are not everywhere placed in exactly the same positions, and certain nuances are to be found only or predominantly in certain countries, but the general character and the main course of events were international.

Everywhere, including Russia, the 1830’s saw the Neo-Greek style in firm possession of the academic fields of building activity. A building like the Moscow Gate (1833-8) at Leningrad, by Vassili Petrovich Stassow (1769-1848), a hexastyle Greek Doric triumphal arch with columns not of stone, but of cast iron, might have been erected in any country.

Gothic, on the other hand, was nationally more diversified, in strength as well as forms. England, undeniably, was leading. It is a characteristic fact that English architects won both the international competitions for St Michael’s, the principal church of Hamburg in 1844, and for the new cathedral at Lille in 1855. But in Germany Gothic achieved almost the same leading position for church building as in England. Goethe in his youth was the first to appraise its true greatness and character. The Romantics, Wackenroder, Schlegel and others, worshipped it. Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781-1841), the greatest German architect of the first decades of the nineteenth century, used it as enthusiastically and as originally as he used Neo-Greek. It received a public triumph, when in 1840 the Domverein was founded at Cologne to complete the gigantic fragment of the cathedral in accordance with the original plans discovered in 1814 and 1816. E. F. Zwimer (1802-61) was made Dombaumeister, and from 1842 to 1880 the huge building rose above the roofs of the medieval city. Yet Gothic was not in sole possession of the field of church architecture in Germany. It had a competitor in what was called the Round-arched Style (Rundbogenstil), a style mixed of elements of the Early Christian and the Italian Romanesque, which was established at the same time by Schinkel and his successor Persius (1805-45) in Prussia and by Gartner (1792-1847) and others in Munich. In England it had only a passing popularity in the 1840’s. In Germany it was adapted even to the building of a railway station (Munich, 1847-9, by Burklein), and in and around Hanover to schools, museums, banks and other edifices. It was indeed perhaps more suitable in the secular field than the bristly Gothic. Yet right to the end of the period and beyond, some of the most spectacular public buildings chose a Gothic dress, notably the town halls of Vienna (1872) and of Munich (1874) and the Houses of Parliament at Budapest (1885-1902).

The Romance nations reacted differently. They knew nothing like the Anglo-German passion for Neo-Gothic. In Italy the Gothic style had never succeeded in acclimatising itself, not even in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. So the revival also was late and weak, and it is characteristic that the first example of goticismo was built under English influence by the architect of one of the best Neo-Greek buildings in Italy: the so-called Pedrocchino of 1837 at Padua by Giuseppe Japelli (1783—1852) the architect of the celebrated Cafe Pedrocchi with its Doric porches (1816-31).

That France did not take kindly to the Gothic Revival, may at first appear stranger. However, it can perhaps be said that just because France had created the Gothic style in the twelfth century and developed it to its logical conclusion in the thirteenth, she could instinctively not agree to its use for purely picturesque purposes. The best Neo-Gothic church of Paris, Ste Clotilde (1840), is the work of Franz Christian Gau of Cologne (1790-1853). But a real understanding of Gothic principles survived— more so than in England. That is proved by the fact that some French architects were ready in the middle of the century to make intelligent and unashamed use of the new metallic building materials. In England, we have seen, these were used extensively, more extensively perhaps than in France, but only by a few outsiders. In France Henri Labrouste (1801-75) proudly exhibited his iron construction at the Library of Ste Genevieve (1844-50) and then the Bibliotheque Nationale (1868). At the same time L.-A. Boileau (1812-96) built the church of St Eugene with iron piers and iron rib-vaulting (1854-5). England possesses nothing so radical.

Nor does America. Down to the middle of the nineteenth century and after, the United States seem indeed at first glance merely to repeat the pattern of England. Most large-scale public building was Neo-Classical, more even than in England, State Capitols everywhere and the big structures of the administration at Washington. Architects such as William Strickland (1787-1854) are, if anything, superior to their opposite numbers in England. The leading churches on the other hand, for instance Holy Trinity, New York (1839-46), by Richard Upjohn (1802-79) and St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York (1850-79), by James Renwick (1792-1863), are Gothic, and commercial architecture makes thorough use of iron. In this America seems to have gone beyond England. There is evidence that the first facades of office buildings made completely of iron and glass, without any outer stone encasement, belong to New York and the 1830’s and 1840’s. Naturally, to a country in which skilled craftsmanship was so scarce, any system of prefabrication, that is of building parts made in a factory and only assembled on the site had much to recommend itself.

In American design also it is certain factory-made comforts which show the country to be ahead of Britain: such as Pullman trains and their convertible compartments, and bathrooms in private houses and hotels. The hotel in fact owes much to America. In England the Regency type of hotel, a kind of country-house-cum-assembly-rooms remained until it was replaced by the modem type in the 1860’s. In the United States this appears already in Isaiah Rogers’s (1800-89) Tremont Hotel at Boston in 1828-9 with ‘its elaborate battery of water closets, and the bathrooms with running water in the basement’. The decorative style used in this and other hotels, however, remained consistently Classical.

So much for the Classical and the Gothic components of the phase here under discussion. In England, as we have seen, the 1830’s added to them the Italian High Renaissance and the Elizabethan-Jacobean which was then still called the native Renaissance. The best examples of the Quattrocento and Cinquecento revival on the Continent belong to Germany. At Munich it began as early as Leo von Klenze’s (1784-1864) Odeon of 1816 and was carried on in Gartner’s State Library of 1831. The high-water marks of this Neo-Renaissance, however, are the works of Gottfried Semper (1803-79) at Dresden, the first Opera House of 1838-41 and the State Gallery of 1847, forming incidentally with two older buildings a fine and picturesque piece of urban planning—a rarity in the nineteenth century. The revival of native ‘Renaissance’, that is the sixteenth-century styles of northern countries, began in France at the same time as in England. In both countries it was moods of national pride which led to an appreciation of the somewhat showy architecture of their sixteenth centuries. The key-dates in France are the extension to the Paris Town Hall begun in 1836 and the far more spectacular and influential extensions of the Louvre begun in 1851 by L. Visconti (1791-1853) and continued by H.-M. Lefuel (1810-81). A curiously early and solitary case of this revival of the French Renaissance, the style of the Loire chateaux, is the large new palace at Schwerin in north Germany begun by Demmler in 1844. Other countries also tended to revert to their native forms of ‘Renaissance’, Germany characteristically enough immediately after the Franco-Prussian War, and—to give one more example—Russia, where a slowly growing Byzantine revival and a renewed sympathy with Russian forms of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries is to be noticed. Showiness and pomposity, which are so eminently High-Victorian in England, also began to tinge the more purely classical designs from the 1840’s and 1850’s onwards. In France from such facades as J.-L. Duc’s (1802-79) Palais de Justice, begun in 1841, there originated that style which the Americans later on christened the Beaux Arts style, that is the accepted style of the Paris Academy. In America itself the completion of the Capitol at Washington by Thomas U. Walter (1804-87) between 1855 and 1865 with a huge dome (of cast-iron) and extensive colonnades is characteristic of the same tendency. It culminated at the end of the century in such vast and empty monuments as that to King Victor Emanuel II in Rome, begun in 1885 by Sacconi.

The vastness of such buildings is in itself characteristic of the nineteenth century. Larger cities needed larger town-halls, larger populations altogether larger public offices. So national and municipal administration and also care for education, care for the sick, and other services all called for buildings as large as the palaces of Baroque rulers, and as these edifices multiplied in the metropolitan cities they caused a general inflation of building sizes. The monument for all posterity, it seems, of that megalomania of the nineteenth century is Joseph Poelaert’s truly splendid Palais de Justice at Brussels (1862-83). Here in crushingly solid stone the proudest dreams of Piranesi are left far behind. That this should be a building in the land of Rubens is significant. England in accordance with the restraint of the national character has little more of this Neo-Baroque than occasional theatre interiors. The most refined example of NeoBaroque is to be found at Paris in the Opera by Charles Gamier (1825-98) begun in 1861.

A great deal of the external effect of the Opera depends on its position at the intersection of several of the new boulevards and avenues of Paris. These new, long, wide, straight, tree-planted thoroughfares are the most famous contribution of our period to town-planning. They are bold, very logical and very impressive—wholly in the absolutist traditions of the Paris of Louis XIV, and indeed due to the absolutism of Napoleon III and his Prefect of the Seine Department, Baron Haussmann (1809-91). The straightness of the boulevards recommended itself for defence in case of civil war, but it was without any doubt also welcome aesthetically. London has nothing like these sweeping axes. Holbom Viaduct, Victoria Street and Shaftesbury Avenue are ridiculous in comparison. Yet, socially the Paris boulevards were just as ineffectual as was the absence of any major planning in London. The slums of the vast tenements and narrow sunless courtyards remained unchanged behind the new spectacular facades.

Nineteenth-century architecture, as we have seen, was entirely a matter of facades, that is of designing in two rather than three dimensions. Here also lies the reason why the century did so badly in sculpture and so exceedingly well in painting. Sculpture works in volumes and spaces, painting on the flat wall or canvas. It is no accident that one remembers so few names of sculptors working between 1830 and 1870, and that a chapter on the arts of these decades is complete without any. Whom should one mention in England? Alfred Stevens of course (1817-75), who was far from successful, then Thomas Woolner (1825-92) and Alexander Munro (1825-71), the two who started as Pre-Raphaelites, and then John Bell (1811-95) and J. H. Foley (1818-74) who were most popular and had their share in the decoration of the Albert Memorial. Their opposite numbers in Germany were Ernst Rietschel (1804-61) and perhaps August Kiss (1802-65) whose Amazon Sir Matthew Digby Wyatt in 1851 called ‘probably the noblest work of art now existing’. The French contribution is aesthetically more worth while than that of the other nations—with Francois Rude’s (1784-1855) dramatic groups, Louis Barye’s (1796-1875) animals and the lively and graceful Neo-Rococo nudes and groups of the younger J. B. Carpeaux (1827-75). Carpeaux’s is the only work where the voluptuousness desired by wealthy Victorian clients and supplied by the less scrupulous but most highly paid artists goes with high artistic quality.

On the whole it can be said that a divorce between what is officially or socially successful and what is aesthetically good is one of the chief characteristics of nineteenth-century art. Nor has this situation much changed during the first half of our century, as any comparison between Academy exhibitions and the art discussed by serious critics of contemporary work shows. It has been said before that this cleavage appeared for the first time in Holland in the seventeenth century. The pioneer and experimenter had to be satisfied with the garret, and silk and velvet came to the man of superficial glamour, or cheap naturalism. In France also in the Rococo period the Chardins were obscured by the Bouchers, though not as completely. What then was new in the Victorian age? Two things chiefly. What had been exceptional and rare became now usual everywhere. And, whereas in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at least some of the greatest artists had been amongst the socially successful, aesthetic conscience now fades out of accepted art. The new situation appears with perfect clarity in France, and as French painting is without any doubt the most important in Europe during the nineteenth century, it must now for the decades here under consideration be analysed in as much detail as space will allow.

By 1830, Jacques-Louis David, exponent of classical painting, had been dead some five years. When he was young, he had belonged to the revolutionary Convention, painted trenchant portraits of martyrs of the Revolution—Marat assassinated in his Bath—and voted for the abolition of the Academie de Peinture et de Sculpture as the privileged body in art during the ancien regime. He then turned to Napoleon and glorified him and his empire in vast, classically aloof compositions. With the Restoration he had to leave Paris and died at Brussels. The academy was now revived as the Academie des Beaux Arts, one part of the Institut de France, and enjoyed privileges as useful as the old. It staffed the Ecole des Beaux Arts, distributed prizes including the coveted Prix de Rome, and managed the selection of works of art for the Salon. In the academy by 1830 the leading personality was Jean Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). He had in his youth adhered to romantic ideals, but his impeccable draughtsmanship had soon turned to classical subjects. The older he grew, the more did his rule tend to be narrow in its high-mindedness. His career is closely paralleled by that of Peter von Cornelius (1783-1867) in Germany who also had started as a romantic rebel against academic conventions and become the academic tyrant of 1830 and after. Like Ingres he upheld drawing as against colour, precision as against rapidity of execution, and subjects from the accepted fields of history, religion or mythology as against the subjects which for new reasons the young painters passionately preferred.

Who were they, and what did they want to achieve? They belonged to the generation bom about the end of the eighteenth century, Theodore Gericault (1791-1824), Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863), Camille Corot (1796-1875) in art; in literature Victor Hugo (bom in 1802), and in music Hector Berlioz (bom in 1803). The meaning of the revolt is more familiar in literature and music than in art. The scandal at the first night of Hugo’s Hernani (1830) will be remembered as will the preface to his Cromwell (1827) with its emphasis on nature, truth and inspiration, on violent contrasts, local colour, the characteristic rather than the beautiful, and on drama as the leading art of the modem age. Berlioz at the Conservatoire in the ’twenties was in permanent revolt. In 1827 he composed an overture to Waverley, in 1828-9 eight scenes from Faust, and in 1830 he came out with a cantata, The Death of Sardanapalus. The Fantastic Symphony followed with its sensational scenes, and Harold in Italy.

Gericault leapt into fame with his Raft of the Medusa (1819), a ferociously dramatised report of a recent shipwreck with all its horrors duly underlined. He also painted the Epsom Derby, cavalry officers on prancing horses, and shockingly true-to-life faces of madmen and mad women portrayed in an asylum. He worked with excessive concentration; his handling of his brushes was fast, and his life was fast too. Ingres called him an enemy of ‘sound honest painting’, and blamed him for corrupting public taste. Amongst the most important early works of Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) are Marino Falieri, the Death of Sardanapalus, the Murder of the Bishop of Lidge (from Quentin Durward), a set of lithographic illustrations to Faust, and the Massacre of Scio and Liberty on the Barricades. Clearly, inspiration came to these French romantics of 1830 from Britain and Germany, from Byron and Scott and the early Goethe, and from contemporary events.

Delacroix’s was the highest intellect amongst all nineteenth-century painters. His journals and his letters are an incomparable source of information on the mood of the second romanticism, the romanticism of 1830, after the profounder, more monumental, more disciplined, more Christian romanticism of the first third of the century. For Delacroix, Rubens was the Homer of painting. No earlier romantic painter would have agreed. ‘The father of warmth and enthusiasm’, is what Delacroix calls him. He is fascinated by Rubens’s ‘verve which is both of the blood and of the head’. ‘He dominates you, he overwhelms you with so much freedom and boldness’, he writes. In such passages he speaks for himself, his own character and art. But there are others apparently in complete contradiction, expressing admiration for Mozart, for Racine, for Raphael. There are, he says, artists ‘who are not in control of their genius but who are controlled by it’ and others ‘who follow their natural bent but are also in command of it’. A man of genius, he says in one place, knows no rules, in another (very much later, it is true) his definition of genius is ‘a man of superior rationality’. This conflict between theory and performance is worth remembering as typical of the successful artist of the nineteenth century. Another example has been pointed out before, in the person of Sir George Gilbert Scott. Delacroix was indeed successful, even if never popular nor the founder of a school. The same conflict between character and ambition is reflected in Delacroix’s social attitude. He was dark and romantic looking, musical, and elegantly dressed, carried on a liaison with a niece of the Empress Josephine, and for twenty years pined for acceptance by the academy. But at the same time he called the public ‘this stupid herd’, and wrote to a civil servant friend, who warned him against showing paintings which were too revolutionary or daring: ‘The whole universe will not prevent me from seeing things in my own manner.’

What was his manner? It was developed from an admiration of Gericault and from study at the Louvre. Delacroix was proud of being essentially self-trained, a pride which appears again and again amongst mid-nineteenth-century painters and expresses their distrust of steady traditions. The decisive event, however, in Delacroix’s formative years was his discovery of Constable’s art, which was represented by three pictures in the Salon of 1824. Delacroix was showing his Massacre of Scio and immediately before the opening repainted large parts of it to open up the surfaces, get rid of all heaviness of modelling and colour and give it that sketchiness which Constable had developed to represent a never halting life in nature. From that date Delacroix’s brush also assumed that dashing rapidity. ‘When he was in front of his canvas’, said Gautier, ‘he forgot his classical views, his impetuous painter’s temperament got the upper hand and he roughed out one of his feverish and impassioned sketches.’ Delacroix was the first to formulate what had already been Constable’s problem and became later that of the Impressionists: to keep in the final painting the freshness of the first sketches and yet endow it with a completeness and consistency necessarily absent in the early stages. Delacroix was a ferocious worker. ‘We will work till our last gasp’, he wrote at the age of fifty-five. ‘What else is there to do except get drunk when the time comes when reality no longer equals one’s dreams?’ His ceuvre is vast in number and wide in range. His early subjects from romantic literature have already been mentioned. ‘Remember certain passages of Byron if you wish for eternal inspiration’, he wrote in his diary at twenty-six. The Liberty on the Barricades of 1830 is a rare if characteristic excursion into the politics of the day. After 1830 such excursions ceased and literary subjects also became much rarer. The Bible on the other hand continued to offer subjects to Delacroix, and he may well be called the last for a long time who could paint Jacob wrestling with the Angel, or The Lake of Gennesaret, or The Good Samaritan. An artist younger than he, an artist born in the nineteenth and not the eighteenth century, could not have done it. Religious painting returned as a possibility—if a rare one—only at the very end of the nineteenth century in Gauguin and in the twentieth in Rouault and Nolde. The mid-nineteenth century was not religious and not enthusiastic. It was too realistic for that. It is eminently characteristic in this context that Delacroix himself, after 1830, looked for justification of the tempestuous scenes he wanted to paint in surroundings more real, more probable than those of Byron and the Bible. He found them on a journey to Morocco which he undertook in 1831. What he saw here of heat and violence, or dreamt he might have seen, provided him with subjects for the rest of his life: battle scenes with sheiks, slaves and rapes of women, and lion-hunts glowing with ruby reds and emerald greens set against hot browns and an occasional passage of blue and dashed off with a vehemence which European painting had not seen since Rubens. But what in Rubens had been the Rape of the Sabine Women and the Calydonian Boar was now made to appear contemporary. Thus far Delacroix, after 1830, gave way to realism.

Realism is the hall-mark of the mid-century decades. It is what corresponds in art to the great developments of science and technology, to the Origin of Species and the Crystal Palace. In French painting realism appears in many guises, in Paul Gavami’s (1804-66) lithographs of Parisian life, in Honord Daumier’s (1808-79) political and social caricatures and his brilliantly vivid oil sketches—the theatre (Le Drame), a washerwoman and her child, a third-class carriage—in J. L. E. Meissonnier’s (1815-91) pedantically and meticulously painted and immensely popular Louis XV and Louis XVI genre scenes and his contemporary battle scenes, in the exquisitely limpid early landscapes of Corot, and in the great art of the painters of Barbizon in the Forest of Fontainebleau. Camille Corot (1796-1875) is another of the untutored artists of the nineteenth century. ‘Nobody has taught me anything,’ he wrote towards the end of his life, and ‘I struggled with nature quite alone, and this is the result’, and ‘Nature must be interpreted with naivety’. This naivety which was indeed one of the most engaging qualities in the personal character of the much beloved ‘pere Corot’ gives his small and unpretentious Italian landscapes painted in the ’twenties their freshness and spontaneity. They are the French parallel to Cotman’s contemporary water-colours. Corot’s more popular nymphs in misty glades belong to his later years—one instance among many of a slackening of tensions in the course of the careers of nineteenth-century artists. Baudelaire, the most sensitive art critic of the 1840’s and 1850’s, places Corot ‘at the head of the modern school’, with the proviso, however, that if Rousseau would exhibit more, that supremacy might be doubtful.

Theodore Rousseau (1812-67) can be regarded as the chief of the school of Barbizon. His robust art of landscape painting is visibly influenced by Constable’s. It can hardly be said that he or the older landscape painters of the school break new ground. But they established the English innovations of the first and second thirds of the century for the Continent, and handed them on to the Impressionists of the last third. More important from the point of view of this survey is Jean-Frangois Millet (1814-75), who in 1849 also settled down at Barbizon. Millet discovered the farmer and the farm labourer for the nineteenth century. No painter since Bruegel had taken the worker on the land as seriously as Millet. He was not aware himself that—chiefly by means of his low horizons which make his figures appear of more than human stature—he monumentalised his subjects and that often, for instance in the famous Angelus, he sentimentalised them too. Baudelaire was the only critic perspicacious enough to see that: ‘His peasants are pedants who think too much of themselves Whether they are harrowing, sowing, pasturing their cows, or tending their animals they always seem to be saying: It is we the poor and disinherited of the earth who make it fertile. We are fulfilling a mission, exercising a priestly vocation.’ It is typical that Millet was anxious not to be mistaken for a socialist. Proudhon’s ‘Qu'est-ce que la proprute’’ appeared in 1840, his Philosophic de la misere in 1846. Henceforth realism in art—the exposure of life as it really is—might easily join forces with socialism.

Such was the case of Gustave Courbet (1819-77), the chief representative in painting of the second half of our period. Delacroix, more than twenty years older, had still the burning fire of romanticism, Corot still its poetry. Courbet was proud of being ‘without ideals and without religion’. Thus in his irritating way, he stated on his notepaper heading: ‘Gustave Courbet, Master Painter, without ideals and without religion’. Courbet is in painting what the English High Victorian buildings are in architecture: robust, self-confident and gross. ‘I am the first and only artist of this century’, he said of himself. He was a big fat man, with a roaring laugh, who used to beat the table with his fist to show approval or disapproval and to consume innumerable chopes of beer while at work. He was proud of never having had any other intention with women than to enjoy them; among his paintings are characteristically enough some which are unashamedly pomographical, and many which are elaborately suggestive. In French literature thecounterpart of Courbet is the much younger Zola, rather than the contemporary Flaubert. Like so many of the other progressive artists of the nineteenth century Courbet was essentially self-taught. ‘A pupil of nature’ he called himself. The chief works of his early maturity, the 1850’s, deserve individual notice. They begin with the Stonebreakers, painted when he was thirty-one. He wrote of them: ‘I have invented nothing. I saw the wretched people in this picture every day as I went on my walks.’ But the fact remains that, if he has not invented, he has arranged. The attitudes of the old man and his young mate form themselves into an easily discerned composition and the paint possesses a rich and substantial old-masterliness. The result is life on the land as monumentalised as Millet’s, though without sentimentality. The Stonebreakers was accompanied in the Salon of that same year by the Funeral at Ornans, a picture 9 1/2 ft. by more than 21 ft., deliberately primitive in composition, which showed a large number of figures all standing stock-still and mostly bolt-upright. They are painted with the greatest truth. No piety or tenderness seems to move the participants.

M. Courbet's Studio, which followed it a few years later, is of about the same size as the Funeral. It formed the programmatic centrepiece of the special pavilion at the International Exhibition of 1885 which Courbet put up for his work and called 'Realism'. In the middle the painter himself is seen busy at a canvas with a landscape. A farmer’s boy and a nude model, with her clothes scattered demonstratively on the floor, watch him; for everybody can understand Courbet’s work. On the left are his other models, a huntsman, a poor Irishwoman in rags, a Jew, a gravedigger, a prostitute and various others; on the right appear Baudelaire representing poetry, Proudhon representing socialism and, among many others, two couples representing Fashionable Love and Free Love.

To the same years belong the Bathers, two heavily built women in a thickly wooded landscape, one exposing the back of her naked body— ‘the vulgarity and pointlessness of the conception are abominable’ Delacroix wrote of it—then the Girls on the Banks of the Seine, two young women lazily and voluptuously stretched out by the river, and The Hammock, where a woman of similar fleshiness shows a little too much of her legs and her breasts. It is a revelation of the animal nature of man. The brutal vigour of Courbet’s paint and the solidity of his modelling matched his programme to perfection. They enabled him to create some of the most powerful landscapes and seascapes of the nineteenth century. Next to one of Courbet’s rocky river gorges a Corot looks flimsy and so does a Monet. But often, especially in those later works in which he introduces stags and deer, everything is spoiled by his lack of refinement and the vulgarity of his taste. Everything—except success. It is just these least discriminating of his pictures which have become popular in reproductions. Courbet remains the interesting and rare case of a great painter with bad taste. Just like some of his nudes, some of his landscapes were painted to rouse cheap emotions. Courbet could not understand that Daumier, whom he felt to be his brother in revolt, could choose to remain in the background. When Daumier in 1870 refused the Legion of Honour Courbet embraced him with delighted approval but blamed him because Daumier had not refused it ‘with eclat'. Courbet did everything with eclat, the eclat with which, in his stodgier and more respectable way, Sir George Gilbert Scott endowed St Pancras Station. Courbet’s idea, Sainte-Beuve tells us in 1862, was ‘to look on vast railway stations as new churches for painting, and to cover the big walls with a thousand subjects... picturesque, moral, industrial...; in other words the saints and miracles of modern society’.

Nothing came of this dream, and there are no paintings by Courbet celebrating industry and commerce. More generally speaking, the Industrial Revolution and the age of the railways have not left much of a mark on contemporary painting. Wright of Derby’s smithies are Caravaggesque compositions of figures in violent artificial light. Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed; the Great Western Railway of 1844 is an atmospheric not a social study. The same is true of Karl Blechen’s (1798-1845) Rolling Mill, an impressionist sketch, and of Adolf Menzel’s (1813-1900) Berlin-Potsdam Railway of 1847. But Menzel was also the first major painter to take as his subject the interior of a factory. His Rolling Mill, a picture 5 ft. by more than 9 ft., shows the steamy, smoky atmosphere under the vast glass roofs and the workmen—not monumentalised in any way—as they deal with the white hot molten metal pouring out. The date of the picture is 1875.

Menzel’s career is interesting from our present viewpoint. He was a man of brilliant talent, and his early sketchy pictures are influenced by Blechen and typical of that pre-impressionism which is the German parallel to Constable and Bonington—landscapes near Berlin, or a comer of a church with the pastor in the pulpit, or a room with the white curtains blown by a breeze and the sun fully shining in. Concurrently, however, Menzel worked on a series of wood engravings to illustrate Kugler’s Life of Frederick the Great. He applied himself to this task with immense industry and gathered all available information on the multifarious paraphernalia of Prussian fife in the eighteenth century. The engravings are accurate in every detail, and their success made Menzel embark on some oil paintings of subjects from the life of the king. The first of these dates from 1850. Here are realism and historicism, those hallmarks of the nineteenth century, at their most meticulous. The technique is similar to that of Meissonier in his pictures of Rococo fops. In his late years Menzel adopted the same technique for many-figured scenes from contemporary society. The Supper at the Imperial Palace of 1878 and the Piazza d'Erbe at Verona of 1884 are tours de force of keenly observed and painstakingly rendered detail—always entertaining and never pedantic.

The sparkle of his technique, grounded in his early impressionism, distinguishes Menzel from his English counterpart, William P. Frith (1819-1909). Ramsgate Sands of 1854, Derby Day of 1858, and Paddington Station of 1862 are too familiar to need description here. They made Frith famous all over Europe, and he could place below his name on the title-page of his autobiography: ‘Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium, Member of the Academies of Stockholm, Vienna and Antwerp.’

Belgian honours were especially valued at the time. For Antwerp had become a centre of academic art in Europe. It was here in the hands of Wappers (1803-74), Gallait (1810-87), and de Keyser (1813-87) that a kind of melodramatic history painting was developed which took the place from about 1830 onwards of the noble but anaemic art of the neoclassical cartoon or painting. The Belgians—and Paul Delaroche (1796— 1856) in France—are like so many Delacroixs with the genius of their prototype watered down and his brio tempered.

Wishing to become a history painter, Ford Madox Brown (1821-93) went to study under Wappers in Antwerp. Then, however, after some time in Paris, he visited Rome, and here he came under the influence of Overbeck, the surviving Nestor of the German romantics of the early years of the century. The outcome of this was his Chaucer at the Court of Edward III painted in 1847. The picture with its Gothic arched top and its colourfully painted figures in the costumes of the fourteenth century is entirely Pre-Raphaelite in style, though painted several months before the formation of the Brotherhood. Its founders, chiefly Rossetti, Holman Hunt and Millais, were all younger than Brown, and Rossetti became Brown’s pupil for a short time during the crucial winter of 1847-8. The aims of the Brotherhood are set down in their short-lived journal The Germ. Here we read a doctrine which is in every respect but one a mere translation of that of the German romantics. ‘Without the pure heart nothing can be done worthy of us’, wrote F. G. Stephens. And: ‘exaggerated action,... false sentiment, voluptuousness, poverty of invention’ must be rigorously avoided. ‘An entire adherence to the simplicity of nature’ is to be aimed at, ‘and direct attention to the comparatively few works which art has yet produced in this spirit’. They were to be looked for in the Italy of before Raphael and also, or even more, in the Netherlands and Germany of Memling and Durer. Hence the extremely attractive, humble and angular drawings and paintings of 1848 and the following years by Holman Hunt, Millais and Rossetti. They seem the very opposite of all that at the same moment Courbet and Millet and Daumier were doing. Yet the hallmark of the mid-nineteenth century is firmly impressed on the Pre-Raphaelites as well. Truth was their watchword, but truth not interpreted in the sense of the Nazarenes. ‘Truth demands from the painter of a historical picture that he should make himself thoroughly acquainted with the character of the times and habits of the people which he is about to represent... [and] consult the proper authorities for the costume... architecture, vegetation or landscape, or accessories.’ Menzel could have written that. In fact it is by Ford Madox Brown.

Now Brown, older than the others and never strictly speaking a member of the Brotherhood himself, remained faithful to the principles of The Germ to the end, whether he painted Wyclif or Cordelia or one of his sharply green landscapes closely rendered with fine pointed brushes. His most personal contribution is one also demanded by The Germ (in an article by J. L. Tupper). The Germ says that to find worth-while subjects artists should go not only to the past but also to the ‘great lessons of piety, truth, charity, honour, gallantry’ in our own time. Today’s heroes should appear in today’s paintings. We should hate Nero, but we should also hate ‘an underselling oppressor of workmen’. How Courbet would have agreed, and how different his heroes of our time, say his Stotiebreakers, look from, for instance, John Brett’s Stonebreaker painted seven years after—a healthy pretty boy in a tightly packed sunny landscape. Madox Brown began to paint The Last of England, illustrating the departure of emigrants for Australia, in 1852 and Work in the same year. Among his late pictures are John Dalton collecting Marsh-gas and Crabtree discovering the Transit of Venus. Work is the most important document of social reform in European painting of its time. It would take too long here to describe properly its contents and the significant attitudes and action of its nearly twenty figures. Since Hogarth no one had attempted to crowd so much meaning on to a moderate-sized canvas. The scene is Hampstead, painted with entire accuracy. Carlyle and F. D. Maurice are portraits at once recognisable. They represent brain-work, as the navvies represent work of the strong arm and the ragged flower-vendor those who have never learnt to work. Then there are the poor fatherless slum children in tatters, the idle young lady and the well-meaning woman distributing tracts. The tract is called The Hodman's Haven or Drink for Thirsty Souls. The navvies prefer ale and have a right to. Other inscriptions on posters and so on remind the reader—or, rather, the spectator— of the Working Men’s College (which had been founded by Maurice in 1854 and where Rossetti taught for a while) and the Boys’ Home in the Euston Road.

A literary subject indeed, one that can only be fully appreciated with a key or guide! But then the same is true of Courbet’s Studio and Menzel’s Supper at the Palace. The Pre-Raphaelites objected fiercely to the superficially theatrical genre pictures with subjects chosen at random from poetry or fiction, which were so highly popular in Victorian days, the pictures described by Dickens in Bleak House as follows: ‘One stone terrace (cracked), one gondola in distance, one Venetian senator’s dress complete, richly embroidered white satin costume with profile portrait of Miss Jogg the model, one scimitar superbly mounted in gold, with jewelled handle, elaborate Moorish dress (very rare), and Othello.’ The Pre-Raphaelites objected even if the execution was done with the utmost care. ‘Frith beastly’, writes Brown in May 1851.2 Their own Lears and Dantes and Ladies of Shalott combined accuracy with a new dedication and earnestness—at least in the early years of the movement.

After a few years the Pre-Raphaelite group disintegrated, as all such groups of young artists have a way of doing, and the founders went in opposite directions. Holman Hunt (1827-1910) remained entirely a Pre-Raphaelite. To paint The Scapegoat he had to go to Palestine in 1854 so that his Dead Sea might be the correct Dead Sea—a most curious aberration of realism—and to paint May Day at Oxford he had, though an old man then, to climb Magdalen Tower every morning at five. The results are so close to nature in their detail and so over-focused that they cease entirely to be realistically convincing. They would be reminiscent of the modem photographer’s cobbles and pebbles and unretouched large portrait heads, if it were not for their vile, obtrusive, shadowless colours, heather-purples, absinthe greens and so on. Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s (1828-82) colours in his later works are hotter and richer but equally repulsive. The languid voluptuousness of his figures is in no way compatible with the preachings of The Germ, though very tame if compared with the full-blooded sensuality of Courbet. Even so, it had to be purified and translated into cool blues and greys to become universally popular in the works of Burne-Jones. But Burne-Jones’s more refined art belongs to the late Victorian era.

Finally there was John Everett Millais (1829-96). He changed from a P.R.B. to a P.R.A., that is from being a Pre-Raphaelite Brother to being the President of the Royal Academy, and in later life painted The North West Passage and Soap Bubbles rather than Christ in the House of his Parents and Ophelia. His is the most interesting case in England of the conflict in one man between the worlds of conscientious art and social success. G. F. Watts (1817-1904) is another example. He started in a vigorous Venetian manner, strong and warm, and ended with large, vapid illustrative machines such as the celebrated Mammon and Love and Life, and Time, Death and Judgement.

Titles did a good deal in High Victorian days to attract success. Just as laymen found it easier to distinguish between Italianate and Gothic than between the managing of proportions in one facade as against another, so they preferred to look at a picture of two dogs if it was called High Life and Low Life, or a picture of a stag if it was called The Monarch of the Glen, than at good pictures pure and simple. These two titles are taken at random from the oeuvre of Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73). Others are Alexander and Diogenes, A Distinguished Member of the Humane Society (a St Bernard dog) and Dignity and Impudence.

In France a popular picture, the picture of the year, was less likely to be literary. The English painter to be successful appealed to sentiment, the French to the senses. Men like Cabanel (1823-89) and Bouguereau (1825-1905) went on painting their seductive nudes year in year out.

Cabanel’s Birth of Venus, spread out voluptously on a sea of cardboard, appeared at the Salon in 1863 and was at once bought by Napoleon III, as Queen Victoria had bought Frith’s Ramsgate Sands and knighted Landseer.

In the same year in which Cabanel’s Venus was the sensation of the Salon, Manet had painted his Olympia which was rejected by the Salon. The antagonism between popularly accepted art and the art of Manet and his friends who, a little later, gathered around him under the banner of Impressionism, was even more strident than it had been in the middle of the century. ‘An almost childish ignorance of the first elements of drawing’, ‘a deliberate manifestation of inconceivable vulgarity’, ‘this Olympia, a kind of female gorilla’, ‘this yellow-bellied odalisk’, ‘art which has sunk to such a low level doesn’t deserve to be condemned ’—these are only a few of the press comments on Manet’s Olympia when the picture was shown in 1865.

But Manet, who was bom in 1832, belongs only with his earliest work to the period here considered, and the Impressionists belong scarcely at all. In 1870 Degas was 36 years old, Monet and Renoir 30. The art of Impressionism, subtle, fleeting, exceedingly sensitive and exceedingly superficial in that true sense of the word which indicates that all phenomena are regarded purely as they affect the eye, is decidedly of the late nineteenth century. The same turn towards refinement and an isolation of the aesthetic aspects of art from all others appears in English architecture and design, the two arts in which, thanks chiefly to William Morris and Norman Shaw, England carried on her leadership beyond the confines of this chapter. Morris was bom in 1834, Norman Shaw in 1831. Morris’s style and his theories of social reform, also characteristic in their particular form of the Late as against the High Victorian era, were developed, it is true, in the 1860’s, but they began to spread only when his firm received its first big commissions—such as the dining room of 1867 designed for the Victoria and Albert Museum—and when he began to lecture publicly in 1877. Norman Shaw’s mature style begins with the New Zealand Chambers in Leadenhall Street in the City. This was designed in 1871. The daintiness of its bay windows, the freshness and independence of period precedent of its wide ground-floor oriels, the playful and original way in which motifs are interwoven—all this is in a complete contrast to the heavy, pompous, respectable and gloomy office buildings of the preceding High Victorian decades. Four years later, at Bedford Park near London, the first of all garden suburbs was built, in just as convincing a contrast to the mid-Victorian housing of Kensington and Bayswater. Again, two years later, William Morris in the earliest of his lectures compared the London of the Middle Ages with its ‘pretty, carefully whitened houses’ with the London of his day consisting entirely of ‘hideous hovels, big, middle-sized and little’. In the same lecture Morris recommended that ancient work should be studied but not imitated or repeated, advocated ‘simplicity of life’, and ‘cleanliness and decency’ in the things we surround ourselves with in our houses, and ended with a hope ‘that the world should sweep away all art for a while... that it might yet have a chance to quicken in the dark’. Now let us compare with these revolutionary words, what the new painters have to say, Whistler in 1885 and Monet in 1889. Here is Whistler: ‘Art... is a goddess of dainty thought—reticent of habit, abjuring all obtrusiveness, proposing in no way to better others’, and here Monet: ‘He wished he had been born blind and then suddenly gained his sight or that he could have begun to paint without knowing what the objects were that he saw before him.’ This detachment from everything material, everything literary, everything moral is just as revolutionary as the architecture of Norman Shaw and the theories of Morris. All these tendencies can only be understood as the outcome of a quickened sensitivity and recovered aesthetic integrity: the late as against the mid-nineteenth century.

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