Rossetti Archive Textual Transcription

Document Title: Pre-Raphaelitism
Author: John Ruskin
Date of publication: 1851 August
Publisher: John Wiley
Edition: 1

The full Rossetti Archive record for this transcribed document is available.

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Added TextRuskin, John





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These Pages,





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Eight years ago, in the close of the first volume of

“Modern Painters,” I ventured to give the following ad-

vice to the young artists of England:—
“They should go to nature in all singleness of heart,

and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no

other thought but how best to penetrate her meaning; re-

jecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing.”

Advice which, whether bad or good, involved infinite la-

bour and humiliation in the following it; and was there-

fore, for the most part, rejected.
It has, however, at last been carried out, to the very

letter, by a group of men who, for their reward, have been

assailed with the most scurrilous abuse which I ever re-

collect seeing issue from the public press. I have, there-

fore, thought it due to them to contradict the directly false

statements which have been made respecting their works;

and to point out the kind of merit which, however deficient

in some respects, those works possess beyond the possibility

of dispute.
Denmark Hill,

Aug. 1851.
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It may be proved, with much certainty, that God intends

no man to live in this world without working: but it

seems to me no less evident that He intends every man to

be happy in his work. It is written, “in the sweat of

thy brow,” but it was never written, “in the breaking of

thine heart,” thou shalt eat bread: and I find that, as on

the one hand, infinite misery is caused by idle people,

who both fail in doing what was appointed for them to do,

and set in motion various springs of mischief in matters

in which they should have had no concern, so on the other

hand, no small misery is caused by over-worked and un-

happy people, in the dark views which they necessarily

take up themselves, and force upon others, of work itself.

Were it not so, I believe the fact of their being unhappy is

in itself a violation of divine law, and a sign of some kind

of folly or sin in their way of life. Now in order that peo-

ple may be happy in their work, these three things are

needed: They must be fit for it: They must not do too

much of it: and they must have a sense of success in it—

not a doubtful sense, such as needs some testimony of

other people for its confirmation, but a sure sense, or ra-

ther knowledge, that so much work has been done well,

and fruitfully done, whatever the world may say or think

about it. So that in order that a man may be happy, it

is necessary that he should not only be capable of his

work, but a good judge of his work.
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The first thing then that he has to do, if unhappily his

parents or masters have not done it for him, is to find out

what he is fit for. In which inquiry a man may be very

safely guided by his likings, if he be not also guided by

his pride. People usually reason in some such fashion as

this: “ I don't seem quite fit for a head-manager in the

firm of ——& Co., therefore, in all probability, I am

fit to be Chancellor of the Exchequer.” Whereas, they

ought rather to reason thus: “I don't seem quite fit to

be head-manager in the firm of ——& Co., but I dare

say I might do something in a small greengrocery busi-

ness; I used to be a good judge of pease;” that is to say,

always trying lower instead of trying higher, until they

find bottom: once well set on the ground, a man may

build up by degrees, safely, instead of disturbing every

one in his neighbourhood by perpetual catastrophes. But

this kind of humility is rendered especially difficult in

these days, by the contumely thrown on men in humble

employments. The very removal of the massy bars which

once separated one class of society from another, has ren-

dered it tenfold more shameful in foolish people's, i.e. in

most people's eyes, to remain in the lower grades of it,

than ever it was before. When a man born of an artisan

was looked upon as an entirely different species of animal

from a man born of a noble, it made him no more uncom-

fortable or ashamed to remain that different species of

animal, than it makes a horse ashamed to remain a horse,

and not to become a giraffe. But now that a man may

make money, and rise in the world, and associate himself

unreproached, with people once far above him, not only

is the natural discontentedness of humanity developed to

an unheard-of extent, whatever a man's position, but it

becomes a veritable shame to him to remain in the state

he was born in, and everybody thinks it his duty to try to

be a “gentleman.” Persons who have any influence in
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Sig. 1*
the management of public institutions for charitable edu-

cation know how common this feeling has become. Hard-

ly a day passes but they receive letters from mothers who

want all their six or eight sons to go to college, and make

the grand tour in the long vacation, and who think there

is something wrong in the foundations of society, because

this is not possible. Out of every ten letters of this kind,

nine will allege, as the reason of the writers' importunity,

their desire to keep their families in such and such a

“station of life.” There is no real desire for the safety,

the discipline, or the moral good of the children, only a

panic horror of the inexpressibly pitiable calamity of their

living a ledge or two lower on the molehill of the world—

a calamity to be averted at any cost whatever, of struggle,

anxiety, and shortening of life itself. I do not believe

that any greater good could be achieved for the country,

than the change in public feeling on this head, which

might be brought about by a few benevolent men, undeni-

ably in the class of “gentlemen,” who would, on principle,

enter into some of our commonest trades, and make them

honourable; showing that it was possible for a man to re-

tain his dignity, and remain, in the best sense, a gentleman,

though part of his time was every day occupied in manual

labour, or even in serving customers over a counter. I do

not in the least see why courtesy, and gravity, and sym-

pathy with the feelings of others, and courage, and truth,

and piety, and what else goes to make up a gentleman's

character, should not be found behind a counter as well

as elsewhere, if they were demanded, or even hoped for,

Let us suppose, then, that the man's way of life and

manner of work have been discreetly chosen; then the

next thing to be required is, that he do not over-work him-

self therein. I am not going to say anything here about

the various errors in our systems of society and commerce,
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which appear, (I am not sure if they ever do more than ap-

pear) to force us to over-work ourselves merely that we may

live; nor about the still more fruitful cause of unhealthy

toil—the incapability, in many men, of being content with

the little that is indeed necessary to their happiness. I have

only a word or two to say about one special cause of over-

work—the ambitious desire of doing great or clever things,

and the hope of accomplishing them by immense efforts:

hope as vain as it is pernicious; not only making men

over-work themselves, but rendering all the work they do

unwholesome to them. I say it is a vain hope, and let the

reader be assured of this (it is a truth all-important to the

best interests of humanity). No great intellectual thing

was ever done by great effort;
a great thing can only be

done by a great man, and he does it without effort. No-

thing is, at present, less understood by us than this—no-

thing is more necessary to be understood. Let me try to

say it as clearly, and explain it as fully as I may.
I have said no great intellectual thing: for I do not

mean the assertion to extend to things moral. On the

contrary, it seems to me that just because we are intended,

as long as we live, to be in a state of intense moral effort,

we are not intended to be in intense physical or intellec-

tual effort. Our full energies are to be given to the soul's

work—to the great fight with the Dragon—the taking the

kingdom of heaven by force. But the body's work and

head's work are to be done quietly, and comparatively

without effort. Neither limbs nor brain are ever to be

strained to their utmost; that is not the way in which the

greatest quantity of work is to be got out of them: they

are never to be worked furiously, but with tranquillity

and constancy. We are to follow the plough from sun-

rise to sunset, but not to pull in race-boats at the twilight:

we shall get no fruit of that kind of work, only disease

the heart.
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How many pangs would be spared to thousands, if this

great truth and law were but once sincerely, humbly un-

derstood,—that if a great thing can be done at all, it can

be done easily; that, when it is needed to be done, there is

perhaps only one man in the world who can do it; but he

can do it without any trouble—without more trouble, that

is, than it costs small people to do small things; nay, per-

haps, with less. And yet what truth lies more openly on

the surface of all human phenomena? Is not the evidence

of Ease on the very front of all the greatest works in ex-

istence? Do they not say plainly to us, not, “there has

been a great effort here,” but, “there has been a great

power here”? It is not the weariness of mortality, but the

strength of divinity, which we have to recognise in all

mighty things; and that is just what we now never recog-

nise, but think that we are to do great things, by help

of iron bars and perspiration:—alas! we shall do no-

thing that way but lose some pounds of our own weight.
Yet, let me not be misunderstood, nor this great truth

be supposed anywise resolvable into the favorite dogma of

young men, that they need not work if they have genius.

The fact is that a man of genius is always far more ready

to work than other people, and gets so much more good

from the work that he does, and is often so little conscious

of the inherent divinity in himself, that he is very apt to

ascribe all his capacity to his work, and to tell those who

ask how he came to be what he is: “If I am anything,

which I much doubt, I made myself so merely by labour.”

This was Newton's way of talking, and I suppose it would

be the general tone of men whose genius had been devot-

ed to the physical sciences. Genius in the Arts must

commonly be more self-conscious, but in whatever field, it

will always be distinguished by its perpetual, steady, well-

directed, happy, and faithful labour in accumulating and

disciplining its powers, as well as by its gigantic, incom-
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municable facility in exercising them. Therefore, literally,

it is no man's business whether he has genius or not:

work he must, whatever he is, but quietly and steadily;

and the natural and unforced results of such work will be

always the things that God meant him to do, and will be

his best. No agonies nor heart-rendings will enable him

to do any better. If he be a great man, they will be great

things; if a small man, small things; but always, if

thus peacefully done, good and right; always, if rest-

lessly and ambitiously done, false, hollow, and despica-

Then the third thing needed was, I said, that a man

should be a good judge of his work; and this chiefly that

he may not be dependent upon popular opinion for the

manner of doing it, but also that he may have the just

encouragement of the sense of progress, and an honest

consciousness of victory: how else can he become

  • “That awful independent on to-morrow,
  • Whose yesterdays look backwards with a smile.”
I am persuaded that the real nourishment and help of

such a feeling as this is nearly unknown to half the work-

men of the present day. For whatever appearance of

self-complacency there may be in their outward bearing,

it is visible enough, by their feverish jealousy of each

other, how little confidence they have in the sterling value

of their several doings. Conceit may puff a man up, but

never prop him up; and there is too visible distress and

hopelessness in men's aspects to admit of the supposition

that they have any stable support of faith in themselves.
I have stated these principles generally, because there

is no branch of labour to which they do not apply: But

there is one in which our ignorance or forgetfulness of

them has caused an incalculable amount of suffering: and
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I would endeavour now to reconsider them with especial

reference to it,—the branch of the Arts.
In general, the men who are employed in the Arts

have freely chosen their profession, and suppose them-

selves to have special faculty for it; yet, as a body, they

are not happy men. For which this seems to me the

reason, that they are expected, and themselves expect, to

make their bread by being clever—not by steady or quiet

work; and are, therefore, for the most part, trying to be

clever, and so living in an utterly false state of mind and

This is the case, to the same extent, in no other profes-

sion or employment. A lawyer may indeed suspect that,

unless he has more wit than those around him, he is not

likely to advance in his profession; but he will not be

always thinking how he is to display his wit. He will

generally understand, early in his career, that wit must

be left to take care of itself, and that it is hard knowledge

of law and vigorous examination and collation of the facts

of every case entrusted to him, which his clients will

mainly demand: this it is which he has to be paid for;

and this is healthy and measurable labour, payable by

the hour. If he happen to have keen natural perception

and quick wit, these will come into play in their due

time and place, but he will not think of them as his chief

power; and if he have them not, he may still hope that

industry and conscientiousness may enable him to rise in

his profession without them. Again in the case of clergy-

men: that they are sorely tempted to display their eloquence

or wit, none who know their own hearts will deny, but then

they know this to be a temptation: they never would sup-

pose that cleverness was all that was to be expected from

them, or would sit down deliberately to write a clever ser-

mon: even the dullest or vainest of them would throw some

veil over their vanity, and pretend to some profitableness
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of purpose in what they did. They would not openly ask

of their hearers—Did you think my sermon ingenious, or

my language poetical? They would early understand

that they were not paid for being ingenious, nor called to

be so, but to preach truth; that if they happened to pos-

sess wit, eloquence, or originality, these would appear

and be of service in due time, but were not to be contin-

ually sought after or exhibited: and if it should happen

that they had them not, they might still be serviceable

pastors without them.
Not so with the unhappy artist. No one expects any

honest or useful work of him; but every one expects him

to be ingenious. Originality, dexterity, invention, imagin-

ation, every thing is asked of him except what alone is to

be had for asking—honesty and sound work, and the due

discharge of his function as a painter. What function?

asks the reader in some surprise. He may well ask; for

I suppose few painters have any idea what their function

is, or even that they have any at all.
And yet surely it is not so difficult to discover. The

faculties, which when a man finds in himself, he resolves

to be a painter, are, I suppose, intenseness of observation

and facility of imitation. The man is created an observer

and an imitator; and his function is to convey knowledge

to his fellow-men, of such things as cannot be taught

otherwise than ocularly. For a long time this function

remained a religious one: it was to impress upon the

popular mind the reality of the objects of faith, and the

truth of the histories of Scripture, by giving visible form

to both. That function has now passed away, and none

has as yet taken its place. The painter has no profession,

no purpose. He is an idler on the earth, chasing the

shadows of his own fancies.
But he was never meant to be this. The sudden and

universal Naturalism, or inclination to copy ordinary nat-
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ural objects, which manifested itself among the painters

of Europe, at the moment when the invention of printing

superseded their legendary labours, was no false instinct.

It was misunderstood and misapplied, but it came at the

right time, and has maintained itself through all kinds of

abuse; presenting in the recent schools of landscape, per-

haps only the first fruits of its power. That instinct was

urging every painter in Europe at the same moment to

his true duty— the faithful representation of all objects of

historical interest, or of natural beauty existent at the

representations such as might at once aid the

advance of the sciences, and keep faithful record of every

monument of past ages which was likely to be swept

away in the approaching eras of revolutionary change.
The instinct came, as I said, exactly at the right mo-

ment; and let the reader consider what amount and kind

of general knowledge might by this time have been pos-

sessed by the nations of Europe, had their painters under-

stood and obeyed it. Suppose that, after disciplining

themselves so as to be able to draw, with unerring preci-

sion, each the particular kind of subject in which he most

delighted, they had separated into two great armies of

historians and naturalists;—that the first bad painted

with absolute faithfulness every edifice, every city, every

battle-field, every scene of the slightest historical interest,

precisely and completely rendering their aspect at the

time; and that their companions, according to their sev-

eral powers, had painted with like fidelity the plants and

animals, the natural scenery, and the atmospheric phe-

nomena of every country on the earth—suppose that a

faithful and complete record were now in our museums

of every building destroyed by war, or time, or innovation,

during these last 200 years—suppose that each recess of

every mountain chain of Europe had been penetrated, and

its rocks drawn with such accuracy that the geologist's dia-
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gram was no longer necessary—suppose that every tree

of the forest had been drawn in its noblest aspect, every

beast of the field in its savage life—that all these gather-

ings were already in our national galleries, and that the

painters of the present day were labouring, happily and

earnestly, to multiply them, and put such means of

knowledge more and more within reach of the common

people—would not that be a more honourable life for

them, than gaining precarious bread by “bright effects?”

They think not, perhaps. They think it easy, and there-

fore contemptible, to be truthful; they have been taught

so all their lives. But it is not so, whoever taught it

them. It is most difficult, and worthy of the greatest

men's greatest effort, to render, as it should be rendered,

the simplest of the natural features of the earth; but also

be it remembered, no man is confined to the simplest;

each may look out work for himself where he chooses,

and it will be strange if he cannot find something hard

enough for him. The excuse is, however, one of the lips

only; for every painter knows that when he draws back

from the attempt to render nature as she is, it is oftener

in cowardice than in disdain.
I must leave the reader to pursue this subject for him-

self; I have not space to suggest to him the tenth part of

the advantages which would follow, both to the painter

from such an understanding of his mission, and to the

whole people, in the results of his labour. Consider how

the man himself would be elevated: how content he

would become, how earnest, how full of all accurate and

noble knowledge, how free from envy—knowing creation

to be infinite, feeling at once the value of what he did,

and yet the nothingness. Consider the advantage to the

people; the immeasurably larger interest given to art

itself; the easy, pleasurable, and perfect knowledge con-

veyed by it, in every subject; the far greater number of
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men who might be healthily and profitably occupied with

it as a means of livelihood; the useful direction of myriads

of inferior talents, now left fading away in misery. Con-

ceive all this, and then look around at our exhibitions,

and behold the “cattle pieces,” and “sea pieces,” and

“fruit pieces,” and “family pieces;” the eternal brown

cows in ditches, and white sails in squalls, and sliced

lemons in saucers, and foolish faces in simpers;—and try

to feel what we are, and what we might have been.
Take a single instance in one branch of archæology.

Let those who are interested in the history of religion con-

sider what a treasure we should now have possessed, if,

instead of painting pots, and vegetables, and drunken

peasantry, the most accurate painters of the seventeenth

and eighteenth centuries had been set to copy, line for

line, the religious and domestic sculpture on the German,

Flemish, and French cathedrals and castles; and if every

building destroyed in the French or in any other subse-

quent revolution, had thus been drawn in all its parts with

the same precision with which Gerard Douw or Mieris

paint basreliefs of Cupids. Consider, even now, what in-

calculable treasure is still left in ancient basreliefs, full of

every kind of legendary interest, of subtle expression, of

priceless evidence as to the character, feelings, habits, his-

tories, of past generations, in neglected and shattered

churches and domestic buildings, rapidly disappearing

over the whole of Europe—treasure which, once lost, the

labour of all men living cannot bring back again; and then

look at the myriads of men, with skill enough, if they had

but the commonest schooling, to record all this faithfully,

who are making their bread by drawing dances of naked

women from academy models, or idealities of chivalry

fitted out with Wardour Street armour, or eternal scenes

from Gil Blas, Don Quixote, and the Vicar of Wakefield,

or mountain sceneries with young idiots of Londoners
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wearing Highland bonnets and brandishing rifles in the

foregrounds. Do but think of these things in the breadth

of their inexpressible imbecility, and then go and stand

before that broken basrelief in the southern gate of Lin-

coln Cathedral, and see if there is no fibre of the heart in

you that will break too.
But is there to be no place left, it will be indignantly

asked, for imagination and invention, for poetical power,

or love of ideal beauty? Yes; the highest, the noblest

place—that which these only can attain when they are all

used in the cause, and with the aid of truth. Wherever

imagination and sentiment are, they will either show them-

selves without forcing, or, if capable of artificial develop-

ment, the kind of training which such a school of art would

give them would be the best they could receive. The in-

finite absurdity and failure of our present training con-

sists mainly in this, that we do not rank imagination and

invention high enough, and suppose that they can be

taught. Throughout every sentence that I ever have writ-

ten, the reader will find the same rank attributed to these

powers,—the rank of a purely divine gift, not to be at-

tained, increased, or in anywise modified by teaching, only

in various ways capable of being concealed or quenched.

Understand this thoroughly; know once for all, that a

poet on canvas is exactly the same species of creature as

a poet in song, and nearly every error in our methods of

teaching will be done away with. For who among us

now thinks of bringing men up to be poets?—of producing

poets by any kind of general recipe or method of cul-

tivation? Suppose even that we see in youth that which

we hope may, in its development, become a power of this

kind, should we instantly, supposing that we wanted to

make a poet of him, and nothing else, forbid him all quiet,

steady, rational labour? Should we force him to perpe-

tual spinning of new crudities out of his boyish brain,
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and set before him, as the only objects of his study, the

laws of versification which criticism has supposed itself to

discover in the works of previous writers? Whatever

gifts the boy had, would much be likely to come of them

so treated? unless, indeed, they were so great as to break

through all such snares of falsehood and vanity, and build

their own foundation in spite of us; whereas if, as in

cases numbering millions against units, the natural gifts

were too weak to do this, could any thing come of such

training but utter inanity and spuriousness of the whole

man? But if we had sense, should we not rather restrain

and bridle the first flame of invention in early youth,

heaping material on it as one would on the first sparks and

tongues of a fire which we desired to feed into greatness?

Should we not educate the whole intellect into general

strength, and all the affections into warmth and honesty,

and look to heaven for the rest? This, I say, we should

have sense enough to do, in order to produce a poet in

words: but, it being required to produce a poet on canvas,

what is our way of setting to work? We begin, in all

probability, by telling the youth of fifteen or sixteen, that

Nature is full of faults, and that he is to improve her;

but that Raphael is perfection, and that the more he co-

pies Raphael the better; that after much copying of Ra-

phael, he is to try what he can do himself in a Ra-

phaelesque, but yet original, manner: that is to say, he is

to try to do something very clever, all out of his own

head, but yet this clever something is to be properly sub-

jected to Raphaelesque rules, is to have a principal light

occupying one-seventh of its space, and a principal sha-

dow occupying one-third of the same; that no two peo-

ple's head in the picture are to be turned the same way,

and that all the personages represented are to possess ideal

beauty of the highest order, which ideal beauty consists

partly in a Greek outline of nose, partly in proportions
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Note: There is a small notation made in ink on the left side of the page in the middle of the second paragraph.
expressible in decimal fractions between the lips and chin;

but partly also in that degree of improvement which the

youth of sixteen is to bestow upon God's work in general.

This I say is the kind of teaching which through various

channels, Royal Academy lecturings, press criticisms,

public enthusiasm, and not least by solid weight of gold,

we give to our young men. And we wonder we have no

But we do worse than this. Within the last few years

some sense of the real tendency of such teaching has ap-

peared in some of our younger painters. It only could

appear in the younger ones, our older men having become

familiarised with the false system, or else having passed

through it and forgotten it, not well knowing the degree

of harm they had sustained. This sense appeared, among

our youths,—increased,—matured into resolute action.

Necessarily, to exist at all, it needed the support both of

strong instincts and of considerable self-confidence, other-

wise it must at once have been borne down by the weight

of general authority and received canon law. Strong in-

stincts are apt to make men strange, and rude; self-con-

fidence, however well founded, to give much of what

they do or say the appearance of impertinence. Look at

the self-confidence of Wordsworth, stiffening every other

sentence of his prefaces into defiance; there is no more of

it than was needed to enable him to do his work, yet it is

not a little ungraceful here and there. Suppose this stub-

bornness and self-trust in a youth, labouring in an art of

which the executive part is confessedly to be best learnt

from masters, and we shall hardly wonder that much of

his work has a certain awkwardness and stiffness in it, or

that he should be regarded with disfavour by many, even

the most temperate, of the judges trained in the system he

was breaking through, and with utter contempt and repro-

bation by the envious and the dull. Consider, farther,
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Note: There is a small notation made pointing to "enriched by plagiarism" on the left side of the page.
that the particular system to be overthrown was, in the

present case, one of which the main characteristic was the

pursuit of beauty at the expense of manliness and truth;

and it will seem likely, à priori , that the men intended

successfully to resist the influence of such a system should

be endowed with little natural sense of beauty, and thus

rendered dead to the temptation it presented. Summing

up these conditions, there is surely little cause for surprise

that pictures painted, in a temper of resistance, by exceed-

ingly young men, of stubborn instincts and positive self-

trust, and with little natural perception of beauty, should

not be calculated, at the first glance, to win us from works

enriched by plagiarism, polished by convention, invested

with all the attractiveness of artificial grace, and recom-

mended to our respect by established authority.
We should, however, on the other hand, have antici-

pated, that in proportion to the strength of character re-

quired for the effort, and to the absence of distracting sen-

timents, whether respect for precedent, or affection for

ideal beauty, would be the energy exhibited in the pursuit

of the special objects which the youths proposed to them-

selves, and their success in attaining them.
All this has actually been the case, but in a degree

which it would have been impossible to anticipate. That

two youths, of the respective ages of eighteen and twenty,

should have conceived for themselves a totally independ-

ent and sincere method of study, and enthusiastically

persevered in it against every kind of dissuasion and oppo-

sition, is strange enough; that in the third or fourth year

of their efforts they should have produced works in many

parts not inferior to the best of Albert Durer, this is per-

haps not less strange. But the loudness and universality

of the howl which the common critics of the press have

raised against them, the utter absence of all generous help

or encouragement from those who can both measure their
Image of page 22 page: 22
toil and appreciate their success, and the shrill, shallow

laughter of those who can do neither the one nor the

other,—these are strangest of all—unimaginable unless

they had been experienced.
And as if these were not enough, private malice is at

work against them, in its own small, slimy way. The

very day after I had written my second letter to the Times

in the defence of the Pre-Raphaelites, I received an anony-

mous letter respecting one of them, from some person ap-

parently hardly capable of spelling, and about as vile a

specimen of petty malignity as ever blotted paper. I

think it well that the public should know this, and so get

some insight into the sources of the spirit which is at

work against these men—how first roused it is difficult to

say, for one would hardly have thought that mere eccen-

tricity in young artists could have excited an hostility so

determined and so cruel;—hostility which hesitated at no

assertion, however impudent. That of the “absence of

perspective” was one of the most curious pieces of the hue

and cry which began with the Times, and died away in

feeble maundering in the Art Union; I contradicted it in

the Times—I here contradict it directly for the second

time. There was not a single error in perspective in three

out of the four pictures in question. But if otherwise,

would it have been any thing remarkable in them? I

doubt, if, with the exception of the pictures of David

Roberts, there were one architectural drawing in perspec-

tive on the walls of the Academy; I never met but with

two men in my life who knew enough of perspective to

draw a Gothic arch in a retiring plane, so that its lateral

dimensions and curvatures might be calculated to scale

from the drawing. Our architects certainly do not, and

it was but the other day that, talking to one of the most

distinguished among them, the author of several most

valuable works, I found he actually did not know how to
Image of page 23 page: 23
Note: There is a small notation made in ink on the left side of the page.
draw a circle in perspective. And in this state of general

science our writers for the press take it upon them to tell

us, that the forest trees in Mr. Hunt's Sylvia, and the

bunches of lilies in Mr. Collins's Convent Thoughts, are

out of perspective.*
It might not, I think, in such circumstances, have been

ungraceful or unwise in the Academicians themselves to

have defended their young pupils, at least by the contra-

diction of statements directly false respecting them,† and
Transcribed Footnote (page 23):

* It was not a little curious, that in the very number of the Art Union

which repeated this direct falsehood about the Pre-Raphaelite rejection

of “linear perspective” (by-the-bye, the next time J. B. takes upon him

to speak of any one connected with the Universities, he may as well first

ascertain the difference between a Graduate and an Under-Graduate), the

second plate given should have been of a picture of Bonington's,—a pro-

fessional landscape painter, observe,—for the want of aerial perspective,

in which the Art Union itself was obliged to apologise, and in which the

artist has committed nearly as many blunders in linear perspective as

there are lines in the picture.

Transcribed Footnote (page 23):

† These false statements may be reduced to three principal heads,

and directly contradicted in succession.

The first, the current fallacy of society as well as of the press, was,

that the Pre-Raphaelites imitated the errors of early painters.

A falsehood of this kind could not have obtained credence any where

but in England, few English people, comparatively, having ever seen a

picture of early Italian Masters. If they had, they would have known

that the Pre-Raphaelite pictures are just as superior to the early Italian

in skill of manipulation, power of drawing, and knowledge of effect, as

inferior to them in grace of design; and that in a word, there is not a

shadow of resemblance between the two styles. The Pre-Raphaelites

imitate no pictures: they paint from nature only. But they have op-

posed themselves as a body, to that kind of teaching above described,

which only began after Raphael's time: and they have opposed them-

selves as sternly to the entire feeling of the Renaissance schools; a feel-

ing compounded of indolence, infidelity, sensuality, and shallow pride.

Therefore they have called themselves Pre-Raphaelite. If they adhere

to their principles, and paint nature as it is around them, with the help

of modern science, with the earnestness of the men of the thirteenth

and fourteenth centuries, they will, as I said, found a new and noble

Image of page 24 page: 24
the direction of the mind and sight of the public to such

real merit as they possess. If Sir Charles Eastlake, Mul-

ready, Edwin and Charles Landseer, Cope, and Dyce

would each of them simply state their own private opinion

respecting their paintings, sign it, and publish it, I believe

the act would be of more service to English art than any

thing the Academy has done since it was founded. But

as I cannot hope for this, I can only ask the public to give

their pictures careful examination, and look at them at

once with the indulgence and the respect which I have

endeavoured to show they deserve.
Yet let me not be misunderstood. I have adduced

them only as examples of the kind of study which I would

desire to see substituted for that of our modern schools,

and of singular success in certain characters, finish of de-

tail, and brilliancy of colour. What faculties, higher than

imitative, may be in these men, I do not yet venture to

say; but I do say, that if they exist, such faculties will

manifest themselves in due time all the more forcibly be-

cause they have received training so severe.
For it is always to be remembered that no one mind is

like another, either in its powers or perceptions; and

while the main principles of training must be the same
Transcribed Footnote (page 24):

school in England. If their sympathies with the early artists, lead

them into mediævalism or Romanism, they will of course come to noth-

ing. But I believe there is no danger of this, at least for the strongest

among them. There may be some weak ones, whom the Tractarian

heresies may touch; but if so, they will drop off like decayed branches

from a strong stem. I hope all things from the school.

The second falsehood was, that the Pre-Raphaelites did not draw

well. This was asserted, and could have been asserted only by persons

who had never looked at the pictures.

The third falsehood was, that they had no system of light and shade.

To which it may be simply replied that their system of light and shade

is exactly the same as the Sun's; which is, I believe, likely to outlast

that of the Renaissance, however brilliant.

Image of page 25 page: 25
Sig. 2
for all, the result in each will be as various as the kinds

of truth which each will apprehend; therefore, also, the

modes of effort, even in men whose inner principles and

final aims are exactly the same. Suppose, for instance,

two men, equally honest, equally industrious, equally im-

pressed with a humble desire to render some part of what

they saw in nature faithfully; and, otherwise, trained in

convictions such as I have above endeavoured to induce.

But one of them is quiet in temperament, has a feeble

memory, no invention, and excessively keen sight. The

other is impatient in temperament, has a memory which

nothing escapes, an invention which never rests, and is

comparatively near-sighted.
Set them both free in the same field in a mountain

valley. One sees everything, small and large, with al-

most the same clearness; mountains and grasshoppers

alike; the leaves on the branches, the veins in the peb-

bles, the bubbles in the stream: but he can remember

nothing, and invent nothing. Patiently he sets himself to

his mighty task; abandoning at once all thoughts of

seizing transient effects, or giving general impressions of

that which his eyes present to him in microscopical dis-

section, he chooses some small portion out of the infinite

scene, and calculates with courage the number of weeks

which must elapse before he can do justice to the inten-

sity of his perceptions, or the fulness of matter in his

Meantime, the other has been watching the change of

the clouds, and the march of the light along the mountain

sides; he beholds the entire scene in broad, soft masses of

true gradation, and the very feebleness of his sight is in

some sort an advantage to him, in making him more sen-

sible of the ærial mystery of distance, and hiding from

him the multitudes of circumstances which it would have

been impossible for him to represent. But there is not
Image of page 26 page: 26
one change in the casting of the jagged shadows along the

hollows of the hills, but it is fixed on his mind for ever;

not a flake of spray has broken from the sea of cloud

about their bases, but he has watched it as it melts away,

and could recall it to its lost place in heaven by the

slightest effort of his thoughts. Not only so, but thou-

sands and thousands of such images, of older scenes, re-

main congregated in his mind, each mingling in new asso-

ciations with those now visibly passing before him, and

these again confused with other images of his own cease-

less, sleepless imagination, flashing by in sudden troops.

Fancy how his paper will be covered with stray symbols

and blots, and undecipherable short-hand:—as for his sit-

ting down to “draw from Nature,” there was not one of

the things which he wished to represent, that staid for so

much as five seconds together: but none of them escaped,

for all that: they are sealed up in that strange storehouse

of his; he may take one of them out perhaps, this day

twenty years, and paint it in his dark room, far away.

Now, observe, you may tell both of these men, when they

are young, that they are to be honest, that they have an

important function, and that they are not to care what

Raphael did. This you may wholesomely impress on

them both. But fancy the exquisite absurdity of expect-

ing either of them to possess any of the qualities of the other.
I have supposed the feebleness of sight in the last, and

of invention in the first painter, that the contrast between

them might be more striking; but, with very slight mo-

dification, both the characters are real. Grant to the first

considerable inventive power, with exquisite sense of co-

lour; and give to the second, in addition to all his other

faculties, the eye of an eagle; and the first is John

Everett Millais, the second Joseph Mallard William

Image of page 27 page: 27
They are among the few men who have defied all false

teaching, and have therefore, in great measure, done just-

ice to the gifts with which they were intrusted. They

stand at opposite poles, marking culminating points of

art in both directions; between them, or in various rela-

tions to them, we may class five or six more living artists

who, in like manner, have done justice to their powers.

I trust that I may be pardoned for naming them, in order

that the reader may know how the strong innate genius

in each has been invariably accompanied with the same

humility, earnestness, and industry in study.
It is hardly necessary to point out the earnestness or

humility in the works of William Hunt; but it may be

so to suggest the high value they possess as records of

English rural life, and still life. Who is there who for a

moment could contend with him in the unaffected, yet

humorous truth with which he has painted our peasant

children? Who is there who does not sympathize with

him in the simple love with which he dwells on the bright-

ness and bloom of our summer fruit and flowers? And

yet there is something to be regretted concerning him:

why should he be allowed continually to paint the same

bunches of hot-house grapes, and supply to the Water

Colour Society a succession of pineapples with the regu-

larity of a Covent Garden fruiterer? He has of late dis-

covered that primrose banks are lovely, but there are

other things grow wild besides primroses: what un-

dreamt-of loveliness might he not bring back to us, if he

would lose himself for a summer in Highland fore-

grounds; if he would paint the heather as it grows, and

the foxglove and the harebell as they nestle in the clefts

of the rocks, and the mosses and bright lichens of the

rocks themselves. And then, cross to the Jura, and

bring back a piece of Jura pasture in spring; with the

gentians in their earliest blue, and a soldanelle beside the
Image of page 28 page: 28
Note: There is a line notation drawn in ink next to the last three lines of the second paragraph on the left side of the page.
fading snow! And return again, and paint a grey wall

of alpine crag, with budding roses crowning it like a

wreath of rubies. That is what he was meant to do in

this world; not to paint bouquets in China vases.
I have in various other places expressed my sincere re-

spect for the works of Samuel Prout: his shortness of

sight has necessarily prevented their possessing delicacy

of finish or fulness of minor detail; but I think that those

of no other living artist furnish an example so striking of

innate and special instinct, sent to do a particular work at

the exact and only period when it was possible. At the

instant when peace had been established all over Europe,

but when neither national character nor national architec-

ture had as yet been seriously changed by promiscuous

intercourse or modern “improvement;” when, however,

nearly every ancient and beautiful building had been long

left in a state of comparative neglect, so that its aspect of

partial ruinousness, and of separation from recent active

life, gave to every edifice a peculiar interest—half sorrow-

ful, half sublime;—at that moment Prout was trained

among the rough rocks and simple cottages of Cornwall,

until his eye was accustomed to follow with delight the

rents and breaks, and irregularities which, to another

man, would have been offensive; and then, gifted with

infinite readiness in composition, but also with infinite

affection for the kind of subjects he had to portray, he

was sent to preserve, in an almost innumerable series of

drawings, every one made on the spot , the aspect borne, at

the beginning of the nineteenth century, by cities which,

in a few years more, re-kindled wars, or unexpected pros-

perities, were to ravage, or renovate, into nothingness.
It seems strange to pass from Prout to John Lewis; but

there is this fellowship between them, that both seem to

have been intended to appreciate the characters of foreign

countries more than of their own, nay, to have been born
Image of page 29 page: 29
Note: There are several wavy lines drawn in ink on the left side of the page.
in England chiefly that the excitement of strangeness

might enhance to them the interest of the scenes they had

to represent. I believe John Lewis to have done more

entire justice to all his powers, (and they are magnificent

ones,) than any other man amongst us. His mission was

evidently to portray the comparatively animal life of the

southern and eastern families of mankind. For this, he

was prepared in a somewhat singular way—by being led

to study, and endowed with altogether peculiar apprehen-

sion of, the most sublime characters of animals them-

selves. Rubens, Rembrandt, Snyders, Tintoret, and

Titian, have all, in various ways, drawn wild beasts mag-

nificently; but they have in some sort humanized or de-

monised them, making them either ravenous fiends, or

educated beasts, that would draw cars, and had respect

for hermits. The sullen isolation of the brutal nature;

the dignity and quietness of the mighty limbs; the shaggy

mountainous power, mingled with grace as of a flowing

stream; the stealthy restraint of strength and wrath in

every soundless motion of the gigantic frame; all this

seems never to have been seen, much less drawn, until

Lewis drew and himself engraved a series of animal sub-

jects, now many years ago. Since then, he has devoted

himself to the portraiture of those European and Asiatic

races, among whom the refinements of civilisation exist

without its laws or its energies, and in whom the fierce-

ness, indolence, and subtlety of animal nature are associ-

ated with brilliant imagination and strong affections. To

this task he has brought not only intense perception of the

kind of character, but powers of artistical composition

like those of the great Venetians, displaying, at the same

time, a refinement of drawing almost miraculous, and ap-

preciable only, as the minutiae of nature itself are appre-

ciable, by the help of the microscope. The value, there-

fore, of his works, as records of the aspect of the scenery
Image of page 30 page: 30
Note: There is a small notation made in ink on the left side of the page.
and inhabitants of the south of Spain and of the East, in

the earlier part of the nineteenth century, is quite above

all estimate.
I hardly know how to speak of Mulready: in delicacy

and completion of drawing, and splendour of colour, he

takes place beside John Lewis and the pre-Raphaelites;

but he has, throughout his career, displayed no definite-

ness in choice of subject. He must be named among the

painters who have studied with industry, and have made

themselves great by doing so; but having obtained a con-

summate method of execution, he has thrown it away on

subjects either altogether uninteresting, or above his

powers, or unfit for pictorial representation. “The

Cherry Woman,” exhibited in 1850, may be named as an

example of the first kind; the “Burchell and Sophia”

of the second (the character of Sir William Thornhill

being utterly missed); the “ Seven Ages” of the third;

for this subject cannot be painted. In the written pas-

sage, the thoughts are progressive and connected; in the

picture they must be co-existent, and yet separate; nor

can all the characters of the ages be rendered in painting

at all. One may represent the soldier at the cannon's

mouth, but one cannot paint the “bubble reputation”

which he seeks. Mulready, therefore, while he has

always produced exquisite pieces of painting, has failed

in doing any thing which can be of true or extensive use.

He has, indeed, understood how to discipline his genius,

but never how to direct it.
Edwin Landseer is the last painter but one whom I

shall name: I need not point out to any one acquainted

with his earlier works, the labour, or watchfulness of

nature which they involve, nor need I do more than

allude to the peculiar faculties of his mind. It will at

once be granted that the highest merits of his pictures

are throughout found in those parts of them which are
Image of page 31 page: 31
Note: There are two small notations on the left side of the page. In the second paragraph the phrase "a large perception of space" is underlined with a series of dashes.
least like what had before been accomplished; and that

it was not by the study of Raphael that he attained his

eminent success, but by a healthy love of Scotch terriers.
None of these painters, however, it will be answered,

afford examples of the rise of the highest imaginative

power out of close study of matters of fact. Be it remem-

bered, however, that the imaginative power, in its magni-

ficence, is not to be found every day. Lewis has it in no

mean degree, but we cannot hope to find it at its highest

more than once in an age. We have had it once, and

must be content.
Towards the close of the last century, among the various

drawings executed, according to the quiet manner of the

time, in greyish blue, with brown foregrounds, some

began to be noticed as exhibiting rather more than ordi-

nary diligence and delicacy, signed W. Turner.* There

was nothing, however, in them at all indicative of genius,

or even of more than ordinary talent, unless in some of

the subjects a large perception of space, and excessive

clearness and decision in the arrangement of masses.

Gradually and cautiously the blues became mingled with

delicate green, and then with gold; the browns in the

foreground became first more positive, and then were

slightly mingled with other local colours; while the

touch, which had at first been heavy and broken, like

that of the ordinary drawing masters of the time, grew

more and more refined and expressive, until it lost itself

in a method of execution often too delicate for the eye to

follow, rendering, with a precision before unexampled,

both the texture and the form of every object. The style

may be considered as perfectly formed about the year

1800, and it remained unchanged for twenty years.
Transcribed Footnote (page 31):

* He did not use his full signature, J. M. W., until about the year


Image of page 32 page: 32
During that period the painter had attempted, and with

more or less success had rendered, every order of land-

scape subject, but always on the same principle, subduing

the colours of nature into a harmony of which the key-

notes are greyish green and brown; pure blues, and deli-

cate golden yellows being admitted in small quantity as

the lowest and highest limits of shade and light: and

bright local colours in extremely small quantity in figures

or other minor accessaries.
Pictures executed on such a system are not, properly

speaking, works in colour at all; they are studies of light

and shade, in which both the shade and the distance are

rendered in the general hue which best expresses their

attributes of coolness and transparency; and the lights

and the foreground are executed in that which best ex-

presses their warmth and solidity. This advantage may

just as well be taken as not, in studies of light and shadow

to be executed with the hand; but the use of two, three,

or four colours, always in the same relations and places,

does not in the least constitute the work a study of colour,

any more than the brown engravings of the Liber Studio-

rum; nor would the idea of colour be in general more

present to the artist's mind when he was at work on one

of these drawings, than when he was using pure brown in

the mezzotint engraving. But the idea of space, warmth,

and freshness being not successfully expressible in a single

tint, and perfectly expressible by the admission of three

or four, he allows himself this advantage when it is pos-

sible, without in the least embarrassing himself with the

actual colour of the objects to be represented. A stone in

the foreground might in nature have been cold grey, but

it will be drawn nevertheless of a rich brown, because it

is in the foreground; a hill in the distance might in nature

be purple with heath, or golden with furze; but it will be
Image of page 33 page: 33
Note: There is a small notation made in ink on the left side of the page.
Sig. 2*
drawn, nevertheless of a cool grey, because it is in the

This at least was the general theory,—carried out with

great severity in many, both of the drawings and pictures

executed by him during the period: in others more or

less modified by the cautious introduction of colour, as the

painter felt his liberty increasing; for the system was

evidently never considered as final, or as anything more

than a means of progress: the conventional, easily man-

ageable colour, was visibly adopted, only that his mind

might be at perfect liberty to address itself to the acquire-

ment of the first and most necessary knowledge in all art

—that of form. But as form, in landscape, implies vast

bulk and space, the use of the tints which enabled him

best to express them, was actually auxiliary to the mere

drawing; and, therefore, not only permissible, but even

necessary, while more brilliant or varied tints were never

indulged in, except when they might be introduced with-

out the slightest danger of diverting his mind for an in-

stant from his principal object. And, therefore, it will be

generally found in the works of this period, that exactly

in proportion to the importance and general toil of the

composition, is the severity of the tint; and that the play

of colour begins to show itself first in slight and small

drawings, where he felt that he could easily secure all

that he wanted in form.
Thus the “Crossing the Brook,” and such other elabor-

ate and large compositions, are actually painted in nothing

but grey, brown, and blue, with a point or two of severe

local colour in the figures; but in the minor drawings,

tender passages of complicated colour occur not unfre-

quently in easy places; and even before the year 1800 he

begins to introduce it with evident joyfulness and longing

in his rude and simple studies, just as a child, if it could

be supposed to govern itself by a fully developed intellect,
Image of page 34 page: 34
would cautiously, but with infinite pleasure, add now and

then a tiny dish of fruit or other dangerous luxury to the

simple order of its daily fare. Thus, in the foregrounds

of his most severe drawings, we not unfrequently find

him indulging in the luxury of a peacock; and it is im-

possible to express the joyfulness with which he seems to

design its graceful form, and deepen with soft pencilling

the bloom of its blue, after he has worked through the

stern detail of his almost colourless drawing. A rainbow

is another of his most frequently permitted indulgences;

and we find him very early allowing the edges of his

evening clouds to be touched with soft rose-colour or gold;

while, whenever the hues of nature in anywise fall into

his system, and can be caught without a dangerous de-

parture from it, he instantly throws his whole soul into

the faithful rendering of them. Thus the usual brown

tones of his foreground become warmed into sudden

vigour, and are varied and enhanced with indescribable

delight, when he finds himself by the shore of a moorland

stream, where they truly express the stain of its golden

rocks, and the darkness of its clear, Cairngorm-like pools,

and the usual serenity of his aerial blue is enriched into the

softness and depth of the sapphire, when it can deepen

the distant slumber of some Highland lake, or temper the

gloomy shadows of the evening upon its hills.
The system of his colour being thus simplified, he

could address all the strength of his mind to the accumu-

lation of facts of form; his choice of subject, and his

methods of treatment, are therefore as various as his

colour is simple; and it is not a little difficult to give the

reader who is unacquainted with his works, an idea

either of their infinitude of aims, on the one hand, or of

the kind of feeling which pervades them all, on the other.

No subject was too low or too high for him: we find him

one day hard at work on a cock and hen, with their family
Image of page 35 page: 35
Note: There is a wavy line drawn in ink next to lines 9 through 12 on the left side of the page.
of chickens in a farm-yard; and bringing all the refine-

ment of his execution into play to express the texture of

the plumage; next day he is drawing the Dragon of Col-

chis. One hour he is much interested in a gust of wind

blowing away an old woman's cap; the next he is paint-

ing the fifth plague of Egypt. Every landscape painter

before him had acquired distinction by confining his ef-

forts to one class of subject. Hobbima painted oaks;

Ruysdael, waterfalls and copses; Cuyp, river or meadow

scenes in quiet afternoons; Salvator and Poussin, such

kind of mountain scenery as people could conceive, who

lived in towns in the seventeenth century. But I am well

persuaded that if all the works of Turner, up to the year

1820, were divided into classes (as he has himself divided

them in the Liber Studiorum), no preponderance could be

assigned to one class over another. There is architec-

ture, including a large number of formal “ gentlemen's

seats,” I suppose drawings commissioned by the owners;

then lowland pastoral scenery of every kind, including

nearly all farming operations,—ploughing harrowing,

hedging and ditching, felling trees, sheep-washing, and

I know not what else; then all kinds of town life—

court-yards of inns, starting of mail coaches, interiors of

shops, house-buildings, fairs, elections, &c.; then all

kinds of inner domestic life—interiors of rooms, studies

of costumes, of still life, and heraldry, including multi-

tudes of symbolical vignettes; then marine scenery of

every kind, full of local incident; every kind of boat and

method of fishing for particular fish, being specifically

drawn, round the whole coast of England;—pilchard fish-

ing at St. Ives, whiting fishing at Margate, herring at

Loch Fyne; and all kinds of shipping, including studies

of every separate part of the vessels, and many marine

battle pieces, two in particular of Trafalgar, both of high

importance,—one of the Victory after the battle, now in
Image of page 36 page: 36
Note: There is a wavy line drawn in ink on the left side of the page.
Greenwich Hospital; another of the Death of Nelson, in

his own gallery; then all kinds of mountain scenery,

some idealised into compositions, others of definite locali-

ties; together with classical compositions, Romes and

Carthages and such others, by the myriad, with mytholo-

gical, historical, or allegorical figures,—nymphs, mon-

sters, and spectres; heroes and divinities.*
What general feeling, it may be asked incredulously,

can possibly pervade all this? This, the greatest of all

feelings—an utter forgetfulness of self. Throughout the

whole period with which we are at present concerned,

Turner appears as a man of sympathy absolutely infinite

—a sympathy so all-embracing, that I know nothing but

that of Shakspeare comparable with it. A soldier's wife

resting by the roadside is not beneath it; Rizpah the

daughter of Aiah, watching the dead bodies of her sons,

not above it. Nothing can possibly be so mean as that it

will not interest his whole mind, and carry away his whole

heart; nothing so great or solemn but that he can raise

himself into harmony with it; and it is impossible to

prophesy of him at any moment, whether, the next, he

will be in laughter or in tears.
This is the root of the man's greatness; and it follows

as a matter of course that this sympathy must give him a

subtle power of expression, even of the characters of mere

material things, such as no other painter ever possessed.

The man who can best feel the difference between rude-

ness and tenderness in humanity, perceives also more dif-

ference between the branches of an oak and a willow than

any one else would; and, therefore, necessarily the most

striking character of the drawings themselves is the spe-

ciality of whatever they represent—the thorough stiffness
Transcribed Footnote (page 36):

* I shall give a catalogue raisonnée of all this in the third volume of

“Modern Painters.”

Image of page 37 page: 37
of what is stiff, and grace of what is graceful, and vast-

ness of what is vast; but through and beyond all this, the

condition of the mind of the painter himself is easily

enough discoverable by comparison of a large number of

the drawings. It is singularly serene and peaceful: in

itself quite passionless, though entering with ease into the

external passion which it contemplates. By the effort of

its will it sympathises with tumult or distress, even in

their extremes, but there is no tumult, no sorrow in itself,

only a chastened and exquisitely peaceful cheerfulness,

deeply meditative; touched without loss of its own perfect

balance, by sadness on the one side, and stooping to play-

fulness upon the other. I shall never cease to regret the

destruction, by fire, now several years ago, of a drawing

which always seemed to me to be the perfect image of the

painter's mind at this period,—the drawing of Brignal

Church near Rokeby, of which a feeble idea may still be

gathered from the engraving (in the Yorkshire series).

The spectator stands on the “Brignal banks,” looking

down into the glen at twilight; the sky is still full of soft

rays, though the sun is gone; and the Greta glances

brightly in the valley, singing its even-song; two white

clouds, following each other, move without wind through

the hollows of the ravine, and others lie couched on the

far away moorlands; every leaf of the woods is still in the

delicate air; a boy's kite, incapable of rising, has become

entangled in their branches, he is climbing to recover it;

and just behind it in the picture, almost indicated by it,

the lowly church is seen in its secluded field between the

rocks and the stream; and around it the low churchyard

wall, and the few white stones which mark the resting

places of those who can climb the rocks no more, nor hear

the river sing as it passes.
There are many other existing drawings which indicate

the same character of mind, though I think none so touch-
Image of page 38 page: 38
ing or so beautiful; yet they are not, as I said above,

more numerous than those which express his sympathy

with sublimer or more active scenes; but they are almost

always marked by a tenderness of execution, and have a

look of being beloved in every part of them, which shows

them to be the truest expression of his own feelings.
One other characteristic of his mind at this period re-

mains to be noticed—its reverence for talent in others.

Not the reverence which acts upon the practices of men

as if they were the laws of nature, but that which is ready

to appreciate the power, and receive the assistance, of

every mind which has been previously employed in the

same direction, so far as its teaching seems to be consist-

ent with the great text-book of nature itself. Turner thus

studied almost every preceding landscape painter, chiefly

Claude, Poussin, Vandevelde, Loutherbourg, and Wilson.

It was probably by the Sir George Beaumonts and other

feeble conventionalists of the period, that he was per-

suaded to devote his attention to the works of these men;

and his having done so will be thought, a few scores of

years hence, evidence of perhaps the greatest modesty

ever shown by a man of original power. Modesty at once

admirable and unfortunate, for the study of the works of

Vandevelde and Claude was productive of unmixed mis-

chief to him; he spoiled many of his marine pictures, as for

instance Lord Ellesmere's, by imitation of the former;

and from the latter learned a false ideal, which confirmed

by the notions of Greek art prevalent in London in the

beginning of this century, has manifested itself in many

vulgarities in his composition pictures, vulgarities which

may perhaps be best expressed by the general term

“Twickenham Classicism,” as consisting principally in

conceptions of ancient or of rural life such as have influ-

enced the erection of most of our suburban villas. From

Nicolo Poussin and Loutherbourg he seems to have de-
Image of page 39 page: 39
Note: There are two small notations made in ink on the left side of the page.
rived advantage; perhaps also from Wilson; and much

in his subsequent travels from far higher men, especially

Tintoret and Paul Veronese. I have myself heard him

speaking with singular delight of the putting in of the

beech leaves in the upper right-hand corner of Titian's

Peter Martyr. I cannot in any of his works trace the

slightest influence of Salvator; and I am not surprised at

it, for though Salvator was a man of far higher powers

than either Vandevelde or Claude, he was a wilful and

gross caricaturist. Turner would condescend to be helped

by feeble men, but could not be corrupted by false men.

Besides, he had never himself seen classical life, and

Claude was represented to him as competent authority

for it. But he had seen mountains and torrents, and

knew therefore that Salvator could not paint them.
One of the most characteristic drawings of this period

fortunately bears a date, 1818, and brings us within two

years of another dated drawing, no less characteristic of

what I shall henceforward call Turner's Second period.

It is in the possession of Mr. Hawkesworth Fawkes of

Farnley, one of Turner's earliest and truest friends; and

bears the inscription, unusually conspicuous, heaving

itself up and down over the eminences of the foreground

—“Passage of Mont Cenis. J. M. W. Turner, January

15th, 1820.”
The scene is on the summit of the pass close to the hos-

pice, or what seems to have been a hospice at that time,

—I do not remember such at present,—a small square-

built house, built as if partly for a fortress, with a de-

tached flight of stone steps in front of it, and a kind of

drawbridge to the door. This building, about 400 or 500

yards off, is seen in a dim, ashy grey against the light,

which by help of a violent blast of mountain wind has

broken through the depth of clouds which hangs upon

the crags. There is no sky, properly so called, nothing
Image of page 40 page: 40
but this roof of drifting cloud; but neither is there any

weight of darkness—the high air is too thin for it,—all

savage, howling, and luminous with cold, the massy bases

of the granite hills jutting out here and there grimly

through the snow wreaths. There is a desolate-looking

refuge on the left, with its number 16, marked on it in

long ghastly figures, and the wind is drifting the snow off

the roof and through its window in a frantic whirl; the

near ground is all wan with half-thawed, half-trampled

snow; a diligence in front, whose horses, unable to face

the wind, have turned right round with fright, its passen-

gers struggling to escape, jammed in the window; a lit-

tle farther on is another carriage off the road, some figures

pushing at its wheels, and its driver at the horses' heads,

pulling and lashing with all his strength, his lifted arm

stretched out against the light of the distance, though too

far off for the whip to be seen.
Now I am perfectly certain that any one thoroughly

accustomed to the earlier works of the painter, and shown

this picture for the first time, would be struck by two

altogether new characters in it.
The first, a seeming enjoyment of the excitement of the

scene, totally different from the contemplative philosophy

with which it would formerly have been regarded.

Every incident of motion and of energy is seized upon

with indescribable delight, and every line of the compo-

sition animated with a force and fury which are now no

longer the mere expression of a contemplated external

truth, but have origin in some inherent feeling in the

painter's mind.
The second, that although the subject is one in itself

almost incapable of colour, and although, in order to in-

crease the wildness of the impression, all brilliant local

colour has been refused even where it might easily have

been introduced, as in the figures; yet in the low minor
Image of page 41 page: 41
key which has been chosen, the melodies of colour have

been elaborated to the utmost possible pitch, so as to be-

come a leading, instead of a subordinate, element in the

composition; the subdued warm hues of the granite pro-

montories, the dull stone colour of the walls of the build-

ings, clearly opposed, even in shade, to the grey of the

snow wreaths heaped against them, and the faint greens

and ghastly blues of the glacier ice, being all expressed

with delicacies of transition utterly unexampled in any

previous drawings.
These, accordingly, are the chief characteristics of the

works of Turner's second period, as distinguished from

the first,—a new energy inherent in the mind of the

painter, diminishing the repose and exalting the force and

fire of his conceptions, and the presence of Colour, as at

least an essential, and often a principal, element of design.
Not that it is impossible, or even unusual, to find draw-

ings of serene subject, and perfectly quiet feeling, among

the compositions of this period; but the repose is in

them, just as the energy and tumult were in the earlier

period, an external quality, which the painter images by

an effort of the will: it is no longer a character inherent

in himself. The “Ulleswater,” in the England series,

is one of those which are in most perfect peace: in the

“Cowes,” the silence is only broken by the dash of the

boat's oars, and in the “Alnwick” by a stag drinking;

but in at least nine drawings out of ten, either sky, water,

or figures are in rapid motion, and the grandest drawings

are almost always those which have even violent action in

one or other, or in all: e. g. high force of Tees, Coventry,

Llanthony, Salisbury, Llanberis, and such others.
The colour is, however, a more absolute distinction; and

we must return to Mr. Fawkes's collection in order to see

how the change in it was effected. That such a change

would take place at one time or other was of course to be
Image of page 42 page: 42
securely anticipated, the conventional system of the first

period being, as above stated, merely a means of study.

But the immediate cause was the journey of the year

1820. As might be guessed from the legend on the draw-

ing above described, “Passage of Mont Cenis, January

15th, 1820,” that drawing represents what happened on

the day in question to the painter himself. He passed the

Alps then in the winter of 1820; and either in the pre-

vious or subsequent summer, but on the same journey, he

made a series of sketches on the Rhine, in body colour,

now in Mr. Fawkes's collection. Every one of those

sketches is the almost instantaneous record of an effect of

colour or atmosphere, taken strictly from nature, the

drawing and the details of every subject being comparative-

ly subordinate, and the colour nearly as principal as the

light and shade had been before,—certainly the leading

feature, though the light and shade are always exquisitely

harmonized with it. And naturally, as the colour becomes

the leading object, those times of day are chosen in which

it is most lovely; and whereas before, at least five out of

six of Turner's drawings represented ordinary daylight,

we now find his attention directed constantly to the even-

ing: and, for the first time, we have those rosy lights

upon the hills, those gorgeous falls of sun through flam-

ing heavens, those solemn twilights, with the blue moon

rising as the western sky grows dim, which have ever

since been the themes of his mightiest thoughts.
I have no doubt, that the immediate reason of this

change was the impression made upon him by the colours

of the continental skies. When he first travelled on the

Continent (1800), he was comparatively a young student;

not yet able to draw form as he wanted, he was forced to

give all his thoughts and strength to this primary object.

But now he was free to receive other impressions; the

time was come for perfecting his art, and the first sunset
Image of page 43 page: 43
Note: There is a small notation drawn in ink on the left side of the page.
which he saw on the Rhine taught him that all previous

landscape art was vain and valueless, that in comparison

with natural colour, the things that had been called paint-

ings were mere ink and charcoal, and that all precedent

and all authority must be cast away at once, and trodden

under foot. He cast them away: the memories of Van-

develde and Claude were at once weeded out of the great

mind they had encumbered; they and all the rubbish of

the schools together with them; the waves of the Rhine

swept them away for ever; and a new dawn rose over

the rocks of the Siebengebirge.
There was another motive at work, which rendered the

change still more complete. His fellow artists were

already conscious enough of his superior power in draw-

ing, and their best hope was, that he might not be able to

colour. They had begun to express this hope loudly

enough for it to reach his ears. The engraver of one of

his most important marine pictures told me, not long ago,

that one day about the period in question, Turner came

into his room to examine the progress of the plate, not

having seen his own picture for several months. It was

one of his dark early pictures, but in the foreground was

a little piece of luxury, a pearly fish wrought into hues

like those of an opal. He stood before the picture for

some moments; then laughed, and pointed joyously to

the fish;—“They say that Turner can't colour!” and

turned away.
Under the force of these various impulses the change

was total. Every subject thenceforward was primarily

conceived in colour;
and no engraving ever gave the

slightest idea of any drawing of this period.
The artists who had any perception of the truth were in

despair; the Beaumontites, classicalists, and “owl spe-

cies” in general, in as much indignation as their dulness

was capable of. They had deliberately closed their eyes
Image of page 44 page: 44
to all nature, and had gone on inquiring “Where do you

put your brown ‘tree.’” A vast revelation was made to

them at once, enough to have dazzled any one; but to

them, light unendurable as incomprehensible. They

“did to the moon complain,” in one vociferous, unani-

mous, continuous “Tu whoo.” Shrieking rose from all

dark places at the same instant, just the same kind of

shrieking that is now raised against the Pre-Raphaelites.

Those glorious old Arabian Nights, how true they are!

Mocking and whispering, and abuse loud and low by

turns, from all the black stones beside the road, when one

living soul is toiling up the hill to get the golden water.

Mocking and whispering, that he may look back, and be-

come a black stone like themselves.
Turner looked not back, but he went on in such a tem-

per as a strong man must be in, when he is forced to walk

with his fingers in his ears. He retired into himself; he

could look no longer for help, or counsel, or sympathy

from any one; and the spirit of defiance in which he was

forced to labour led him sometimes into violences, from

which the slightest expression of sympathy would have

saved him. The new energy that was upon him, and the

utter isolation into which he was driven, were both alike

dangerous, and many drawings of the time show the evil

effects of both; some of them being hasty, wild, or expe-

rimental, and others little more than magnificent expres-

sions of defiance of public opinion.
But all have this noble virtue—they are in everything

his own: there are no more reminiscences of dead mas-

ters, no more trials of skill in the manner of Claude or

Poussin; every faculty of his soul is fixed upon nature

only, as he saw her, or as he remembered her.
I have spoken above of his gigantic memory: it is espe-

cially necessary to notice this, in order that we may un-

derstand the kind of grasp which a man of real imagina-
Image of page 45 page: 45
tion takes of all things that are once brought within his

reach—grasp thenceforth not to be relaxed for ever.
On looking over any catalogues of his works, or of par-

ticular series of them, we shall notice the recurrence of the

same subject two, three, or even many times. In any

other artist this would be nothing remarkable. Probably

most modern landscape painters multiply a favourite sub-

ject twenty, thirty, or sixty fold, putting the shadows and

the clouds in different places, and “inventing,” as they

are pleased to call it, a new “effect” every time. But if

we examine the successions of Turner's subjects, we shall

find them either the records of a succession of impressions

actually received by him at some favourite locality, or

else repetitions of one impression received in early youth,

and again and again realised as his increasing powers

enabled him to do better justice to it. In either case we

shall find them records of seen facts; never compositions

in his room to fill up a favourite outline.
For instance, every traveller, at least every traveller of

thirty years' standing, must love Calais, the place where

he first felt himself in a strange world. Turner evidently

loved it excessively. I have never catalogued his studies

of Calais, but I remember, at this moment, five: there is

first the “Pas de Calais,” a very large oil painting, which

is what he saw in broad daylight as he crossed over, when

he got near the French side. It is a careful study of

French fishing boats running for the shore before the

wind, with the picturesque old city in the distance. Then

there is the “Calais Harbour” in the Liber Studiorum :

that is what he saw just as he was going into the harbour,

—a heavy brig warping out, and very likely to get in his

way or run against the pier, and bad weather coming on.

Then there is the “Calais Pier,” a large painting, engraved

some years ago by Mr. Lupton*: that is what he saw
Transcribed Footnote (page 45):

* The plate was, however, never published.

Image of page 46 page: 46
when he had landed, and ran back directly to the pier to

see what had become of the brig. The weather had got

still worse, the fishwomen were being blown about in a

distressful manner on the pier head, and some more fish-

ing boats were running in with all speed. Then there is

the “Fortrouge,”Calais: that is what he saw after he

had been home to Dessein's, and dined, and went out

again in the evening to walk on the sands, the tide being

down. He had never seen such a waste of sands before,

and it made an impression on him. The shrimp girls

were all scattered over them too, and moved about in

white spots on the wild shore; and the storm had lulled

a little, and there was a sunset—such a sunset,—and

bars of Fortrouge seen against it, skeleton-wise. He did

not paint that directly; thought over it,—painted it a

long while afterwards.
Then there is the vignette in the illustrations to Scott.

That is what he saw as he was going home, meditatively;

and the revolving lighthouse came blazing out upon him

suddenly, and disturbed him. He did not like that so

much; made a vignette of it, however, when he was asked

to do a bit of Calais, twenty or thirty years afterwards,

having already done all the rest.
Turner never told me all this, but any one may see it if

he will compare the pictures. They might, possibly, not

be impressions of a single day, but of two days or three;

though in all human probability they were seen just as I

have stated them*; but they are records of successive im-

pressions, as plainly written as ever traveller's diary. All

of them pure veracities. Therefore immortal.
I could multiply these series almost indefinitely from

the rest of his works. What is curious, some of them have
Transcribed Footnote (page 46):

* And the more probably because Turner was never fond of staying

long at any place, and was least of all likely to make a pause of two or

three days at the beginning of his journey.

Image of page 47 page: 47
a kind of private mark running through all the subjects.

Thus I know three drawings of Scarborough, and all of

them have a starfish in the foreground: I do not remem-

ber any others of his marine subjects which have a star-fish.
The other kind of repetition—the recurrence to one early

impression—is however still more remarkable. In the

collection of F. H. Bale, Esq., there is a small drawing of

Llanthony Abbey. It is in his boyish manner, its date

probably about 1795; evidently a sketch from nature,

finished at home. It had been a showery day; the hills

were partially concealed by the rain, and gleams of sun-

shine breaking out at intervals. A man was fishing in

the mountain stream. The young Turner sought a place

of some shelter under the bushes; made his sketch, took

great pains when he got home to imitate the rain, as he

best could; added his child's luxury of a rainbow; put

in the very bush under which he had taken shelter, and

the fisherman, a somewhat ill-jointed and long-legged fish-

erman, in the courtly short breeches which were the

fashion of the time.
Some thirty years afterwards, with all his powers in

their strongest training, and after the total change in his

feelings and principles which I have endeavoured to de-

scribe, he undertook the series of “England and Wales,”

and in that series introduced the subject of Llanthony

Abbey. And behold, he went back to his boy's sketch

and boy's thought. He kept the very bushes in their

places, but brought the fisherman to the other side of the

river, and put him, in somewhat less courtly dress, under

their shelter, instead of himself. And then he set all his

gained strength and new knowledge at work on the well-

remembered shower of rain, that had fallen thirty years

before, to do it better. The resultant drawing* is one of

the very noblest of his second period.
Transcribed Footnote (page 47):

* Vide Modern Painters, Part II. Sect. III. Chap. IV. § 14.

Image of page 48 page: 48
Another of the drawings of the England series, Ulles-

water, is the repetition of one in Mr. Fawkes's collection,

which, by the method of its execution, I should conjecture

to have been executed about the year 1808 or 1810: at

all events, it is a very quiet drawing of the first period.

The lake is quite calm; the western hills in grey shadow,

the eastern massed in light. Helvellyn rising like a mist

between them, all being mirrored in the calm water.

Some thin and slightly evanescent cows are standing in

the shallow water in front; a boat floats motionless about

a hundred yards from the shore: the foreground is of

broken rocks, with some lovely pieces of copse on the

right and left.
This was evidently Turner's record of a quiet evening

by the shore of Ulleswater, but it was a feeble one. He

could not at that time render the sunset colours: he went

back to it therefore in the England series, and painted it

again with his new power. The same hills are there, the

same shadows, the same cows,—they had stood in his

mind, on the same spot, for twenty years,—the same boat,

the same rocks, only the copse is cut away—it interfered

with the masses of his colour: some figures are introduced

bathing, and what was grey, and feeble gold in the first

drawing, becomes purple, and burning rose-colour in the

But perhaps one of the most curious examples is in the

series of subjects from Winchelsea. That in the Liber

Studiorum, “Winchelsea, Sussex,” bears date 1812, and

its figures consist of a soldier speaking to a woman, who

is resting on the bank beside the road. There is another

small subject, with Winchelsea in the distance, of which

the engraving bears date 1817. It has two women with

bundles and two soldiers toiling along the embankment in

the plain, and a baggage waggon in the distance. Neither

of these seems to have satisfied him, and at last he did
Image of page 49 page: 49
Note: There is a small notation drawn in ink on the left side of the page.
Sig. 3
another for the England series, of which the engraving

bears date 1830. There is now a regiment on the march;

the baggage waggon is there, having got no farther on in

the thirteen years, but one of the women is tired, and has

fainted on the bank; another is supporting her against

her bundle, and giving her drink; a third sympathetic

woman is added, and the two soldiers have stopped, and

one is drinking from his canteen.
Nor is it merely of entire scenes, or of particular inci-

dents that Turner's memory is thus tenacious. The slight-

est passages of colour or arrangement that have pleased

him—the fork of a bough, the casting of a shadow, the

fracture of a stone—will be taken up again and again, and

strangely worked into new relations with other thoughts.

There is a single sketch from nature in one of the portfolios

at Farnley, of a common wood-walk on the estate, which

has furnished passages to no fewer than three of the most

elaborate compositions in the Liber Studiorum.
I am thus tedious in dwelling on Turner's powers of

memory, because I wish it to be thoroughly seen how all

his greatness, all his infinite luxuriance of invention, de-

pends on his taking possession of everything that he sees,

—on his grasping all, and losing hold of nothing,—on his

forgetting himself, and forgetting nothing else. I wish it

to be understood how every great man paints what he sees

or did see, his greatness being indeed little else than his

intense sense of fact. And thus Pre-Raphaelitism and

Raphaelitism, and Turnerism, are all one and the same, so

far as education can influence them. They are different

in their choice, different in their faculties, but all the

same in this, that Raphael himself, so far as he was great,

and all who preceded or followed him who ever were

great, became so by painting the truths around them as

they appeared to each man's own mind, not as he had
Image of page 50 page: 50
Note: There is a wavy line drawn on the left side of the page.
been taught to see them, except by the God who made

both him and them.
There is, however, one more characteristic of Turner's

second period, on which I have still to dwell, especially

with reference to what has been above advanced respect-

ing the fallacy of overtoil; namely, the magnificent ease

with which all is done when it is successfully done. For

there are one or two drawings of this time which are not

done easily. Turner had in these set himself to do a fine

thing to exhibit his powers; in the common phrase, to

excel himself; so sure as he does this, the work is a failure.

The worst drawings that have ever come from his hands

are some of this second period, on which he has spent

much time and laborious thought; drawings filled with

incident from one side to the other, with skies stippled

into morbid blue, and warm lights set against them in

violent contrast; one of Bamborough Castle, a large water-

colour, may be named as an example. But the truly

noble works are those in which, without effort, he has ex-

pressed his thoughts as they came, and forgotten himself;

and in these the outpouring of invention is not less miracu-

lous than the swiftness and obedience of the mighty hand

that expresses it. Any one who examines the drawings

may see the evidence of this facility, in the strange fresh-

ness and sharpness of every touch of colour; but when

the multitude of delicate touches, with which all the aerial

tones are worked, is taken into consideration, it would

still appear impossible that the drawing could have been

completed with ease, unless we had direct evidence on the

matter: fortunately, it is not wanting. There is a draw-

ing in Mr. Fawkes's collection of a man-of-war taking in

stores: it is of the usual size of those of the England

series, about sixteen inches by eleven: it does not appear

one of the most highly finished, but is still farther re-

moved from slightness. The hull of a first-rate occupies
Image of page 51 page: 51
Note: There is a small notation drawn on the left side of the page.
nearly one-half of the picture on the right, her bows

towards the spectator, seen in sharp perspective from stem

to stern, with all her portholes, guns, anchors, and lower

rigging elaborately detailed; there are two other ships of

the line in the middle distance, drawn with equal pre-

cision; a noble breezy sea dancing against their broad

bows, full of delicate drawing in its waves; a store-ship

beneath the hull of the larger vessel, and several other

boats, and a complicated cloudy sky. It might appear no

small exertion of mind to draw the detail of all this ship-

ping down to the smallest ropes, from memory, in the

drawing-room of a mansion in the middle of Yorkshire,

even if considerable time had been given for the effort.

But Mr. Fawkes sat beside the painter from the first

stroke to the last. Turner took a piece of blank paper one

morning after breakfast, outlined his ships, finished the

drawing in three hours, and went out to shoot.
Let this single fact be quietly meditated upon by our

ordinary painters, and they will see the truth of what was

above asserted,—that if a great thing can be done at all,

it can be done easily; and let them not torment them-

selves with twisting of compositions this way and that,

and repeating, and experimenting, and scene-shifting. If

a man can compose at all, he can compose at once, or

rather he must compose in spite of himself. And this is

the reason of that silence which I have kept in most of

my works, on the subject of Composition. Many critics,

especially the architects, have found fault with me for not

“teaching people how to arrange masses;” for not “at-

tributing sufficient importance to composition.” Alas! I

attribute far more importance to it than they do;—so

much importance, that I should just as soon think of sit-

ting down to teach a man how to write a Divina Comme-

dia, or King Lear, as how to “compose,” in the true

sense, a single building or picture. The marvellous stu-
Image of page 52 page: 52
Note: There are two small notations drawn on the left side of the page.
pidity of this age of lecturers is, that they do not see that

what they call, “principles of composition,” are mere

principles of common sense in every thing, as well as in

pictures and buildings;—A picture is to have a principal

light? Yes; and so a dinner is to have a principal dish,

and an oration a principal point, and an air of music a

principal note, and every man a principal object. A pic-

ture is to have harmony of relation among its parts? Yes;

and so is a speech well uttered, and an action well order-

ed, and a company well chosen, and a ragout well mixed.

Composition! As if a man were not composing every

moment of his life, well or ill, and would not do it instinct-

ively in his picture as well as elsewhere, if be could. Com-

position of this lower or common kind is of exactly the

same importance in a picture that it is in any thing else,

—no more. It is well that a man should say what he has

to say in good order and sequence, but the main thing is

to say it truly. And yet we go on preaching to our pupils

as if to have a principal light was every thing, and so

cover our academy walls with Shacabac feasts, wherein

the courses are indeed well ordered, but the dishes empty.
It is not, however, only in invention that men overwork

themselves, but in execution also; and here I have a word

to say to the Pre-Raphaelites specially. They are work-

ing too hard. There is evidence in failing portions of

their pictures, showing that they have wrought so long

upon them that their very sight has failed for weariness,

and that the hand refused any more to obey the heart.

And, besides this, there are certain qualities of drawing

which they miss from over-carefulness. For, let them be

assured, there is a great truth lurking in that common de-

sire of men to see things done in what they call a “mas-

terly,” or “bold,” or “broad,” manner: a truth oppressed

and abused, like almost every other in this world, but an

eternal one nevertheless; and whatever mischief may
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Note: There are two small notations drawn on the left side of the page.
Sig. 3*
have followed from men's looking for nothing else but this

facility of execution, and supposing that a picture was as-

suredly all right if only it were done with broad dashes of

the brush, still the truth remains the same:—that because

it is not intended that men shall torment or weary them-

selves with any earthly labour, it is appointed that the

noblest results should only be attainable by a certain ease

and decision of manipulation. I only wish people under-

stood this much of sculpture, as well as of painting, and

could see that the finely finished statue is, in ninety-nine

cases out of a hundred, a far more vulgar work than that

which shows rough signs of the right hand laid to the

workman's hammer: but at all events, in painting it is

felt by all men, and justly felt. The freedom of the lines

of nature can only be represented by a similar freedom in

the hand that follows them; there are curves in the flow

of the hair, and in the form of the features, and in the

muscular outline of the body, which can in no wise be

caught but by a sympathetic freedom in the stroke of the

pencil. I do not care what example is taken, be it the

most subtle and careful work of Leonardo himself, there

will be found a play and power and ease in the outlines,

which no slow effort could ever imitate. And if the Pre-

Raphaelites do not understand how this kind of power, in

its highest perfection, may be united with the most severe

rendering of all other orders of truth, and especially of

those with which they themselves have most sympathy,

let them look at the drawings of John Lewis.
These then are the principal lessons which we have to

learn from Turner, in his second or central period of

labour. There is one more, however, to be received; and

that is a warning; for towards the close of it, what with

doing small conventional vignettes for publishers, making

showy drawings from sketches taken by other people of

places he had never seen, and touching up the bad en-
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gravings from his works submitted to him almost every

day,—engravings utterly destitute of animation, and

which had to be raised into a specious brilliancy by

scratching them over with white, spotty, lights, he gra-

dually got inured to many conventionalities, and even falsi-

ties; and, having trusted for ten or twelve years almost

entirely to his memory and invention, living I believe

mostly in London, and receiving a new sensation only

from the burning of the Houses of Parliament, he painted

many pictures between 1830 and 1840 altogether un-

worthy of him. But he was not thus to close his career.
In the summer either of 1840 or 1841, he undertook

another journey into Switzerland. It was then at least

forty years since he had first seen the Alps; (the source

of the Arveron, in Mr. Fawkes's collection, which could

not have been painted till he had seen the thing itself,

bears date 1800,) and the direction of his journey in 1840

marks his fond memory of that earliest one; for, if we

look over the Swiss studies and drawings executed in his

first period, we shall be struck with his fondness for the

pass of the St. Gothard; the most elaborate drawing in

the Farnley collection is one of the Lake of Lucerne from

Fluelen; and, counting the Liber Studiorum subjects,

there are, to my knowledge, six compositions taken at the

same period from the pass of St. Gothard, and, probably,

several others are in existence. The valleys of Sallenche

and Chamouni, and Lake of Geneva, are the only other

Swiss scenes which seem to have made very profound

impressions on him.
He returned in 1841 to Lucerne; walked up Mont

Pilate on foot, crossed the St. Gothard, and returned by

Lausanne and Geneva. He made a large number of

coloured sketches on this journey, and realised several of

them on his return. The drawings thus produced are dif-

ferent from all that had preceded them, and are the first
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Note: There are three small notations drawn on the left side of the page.
which belong definitely to what I shall henceforward call

his Third period.
The perfect repose of his youth had returned to his

mind, while the faculties of imagination and execution

appeared in renewed strength; all conventionality being

done away with by the force of the impression which he

had received from the Alps, after his long separation

from them. The drawings are marked by a peculiar largeness

and simplicity of thought: most of them by deep serenity,

passing into melancholy; all by a richness of colour, such

as he had never before conceived. They, and the works

done in following years, bear the same relation to those of

the rest of his life that the colours of sunset do to those of

the day; and will be recognised, in a few years more, as

the noblest landscapes ever yet conceived by human in-

Such has been the career of the greatest painter of this

century. Many a century may pass away before there

rises such another; but what greatness any among us may

be capable of, will, at least, be best attained by following

in his path;—by beginning in all quietness and hopeful-

ness to use whatever powers we may possess to represent

the things around us as we see and feel them; trusting

to the close of life to give the perfect crown to the course

of its labours, and knowing assuredly that the determina-

tion of the degree in which watchfulness is to be exalted

into invention, rests with a higher will than our own.

And, if not greatness, at least a certain good, is thus to be

achieved; for though I have above spoken of the mission

of the more humble artist, as if it were merely to be sub-

servient to that of the antiquarian or the man of science,

there is an ulterior aspect in which it is not subservient,

but superior. Every archæologist, every natural philoso-

pher, knows that there is a peculiar rigidity of mind

brought on by long devotion to logical and analytical
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Note: There are several lines drawn on the left side of the page.
inquiries. Weak men, giving themselves to such studies,

are utterly hardened by them, and become incapable of

understanding any thing nobler, or even of feeling the

value of the results to which they lead. But even the

best men are in a sort injured by them, and pay a definite

price, as in most other matters, for definite advantages.

They gain a peculiar strength, but lose in tenderness,

elasticity, and impressibility. The man who has gone,

hammer in hand, over the surface of a romantic country,

feels no longer, in the mountain ranges he has so labo-

riously explored, the sublimity or mystery with which

they were veiled when he first beheld them, and with

which they are adorned in the mind of the passing trav-

eller. In his more informed conception, they arrange

themselves like a dissected model: where another man

would be awe-struck by the magnificence of the precipice,

he sees nothing but the emergence of a fossiliferous rock,

familiarised already to his imagination as extending in a

shallow stratum, over a perhaps uninteresting district;

where the unlearned spectator would be touched with

strong emotion by the aspect of the snowy summits which

rise in the distance, he sees only the culminating points

of a metamorphic formation, with an uncomfortable web of

tan-like fissures radiating, in his imagination, through

their centres.* That in the grasp he has obtained of the
Transcribed Footnote (page 56):

* This state of mind appears to have been the only one which Words-

worth had been able to discern in men of science; and in disdain of

which, he wrote that short-sighted passage in the Excursion, Book III.

l. 165-190., which is, I think, the only one in the whole range of his

works which his true friends would have desired to see blotted out.

What else has been found fault with as feeble or superfluous, is not so

in the intense distinctive relief which it gives to his character. But these

lines are written in mere ignorance of the matter they treat; in mere

want of sympathy with the men they describe; for, observe, though the

passage is put into the mouth of the Solitary, it is fully confirmed, and

even rendered more scornful, by the speech which follows.

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Note: There is a wavy line drawn vertically next to the entire remaining paragraph on the left side of the page.
inner relations of all these things to the universe, and to

man, that in the views which have been opened to him of

natural energies such as no human mind would have ven-

tured to conceive, and of past states of being, each in

some new way bearing witness to the unity of purpose

and everlastingly consistent providence of the Maker of

all things, he has received reward well worthy the sacri-

fice, I would not for an instant deny; but the sense of the

loss is not less painful to him if his mind be rightly con-

stituted; and it would be with infinite gratitude that he

would regard the man, who, retaining in his delineation of

natural scenery a fidelity to the facts of science so rigid as

to make his work at once acceptable and credible to the

most sternly critical intellect, should yet invest its fea-

tures again with the sweet veil of their daily aspect;

should make them dazzling with the splendour of wander-

ing light, and involve them in the unsearchableness of

stormy obscurity; should restore to the divided anatomy

its visible vitality of operation, clothe naked crags with

soft forests, enrich the mountain ruins with bright pas-

tures, and lead the thoughts from the monotonous recur-

rence of the phenomena of the physical world, to the sweet

interests and sorrows of human life and death.
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