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Principles Of Artistical Composition
THE principles of delineation which were laid down in one of the preceding chapters, are generally applicable also to the regulation of artistical composition. For the purposes of the present disquisition at least, we may regard composition as but the plural of delineation.
Arrangement And Order
The necessity of perspicuity and clearness as regards the principles of delineation, has already been shown in a previous chapter, and the value of the observance of this rule fully pointed out. What perspicuity and clearness are to delineation, arrangement and order are to composition ; and, indeed, the two former constitute a necessary, and the only sure foundation for the latter.
Art Theory - Variation Of Forms
The importance of variety, amounting even to contrast, in artistical efforts, so far as regards its generally pleasing effect upon the mind, independent of its power in contributing to the production of beauty, has already been alluded to while considering the principles of delineation.
Art Theory - Disposition Of Figures
As the principles of design, including those of delineation, have been considered as mainly and strictly applicable to single figures and individuals viewed by themselves independently; so, as already observed, those of composition may be deemed to relate generally and properly to figures in groups, and to the disposition of them as regards their relation one to another.
Art Theory - Disposition Of Groups
The same principles which are applicable for our guidance in the distribution of the different figures in a composition are also applicable to the distribution of the different groups. And as in figures the principal one takes the lead, and all the others are subordinate to it; so among groups there is in a corresponding manner a principal one to which the other groups are subordinate.
Art Theory - Relation Of Constiuents
The various personages and parts in a composition should bear the same relation to one another, and to the principal figure or individual in it, as the different members of the same body, although varying extensively in their nature and purposes, and exercising very different functions one from the other, bear to one another, and especially to the head.
Art Theory - Unity Of Subject
The maintenance of a complete and harmonious unity of object and purpose in the conduct of the representation, is a matter of essential importance in artistical composition of each kind, and contributes alike to the perspicuity of the de-sign, and to its general vigour and effect.
Artistical Auxillaries
In addition to the direct application of the various principles already enumerated for artistical composition, there are certain collateral and indirect means to be resorted to, which are of essential importance both in themselves and for aiding the effect and the operation of others.
Illustrations Of The Foregoing Principles In Each Of The Arts
The examples afforded in the last chapter from the cartoons of ' Paul Preaching at Athens,' and of ' Christ's Charge to Peter,' serve as admirable illustrations of the principles laid down with regard to composition in art.
Description, Narration, And Action In Artistical Representation.
THE principles laid down in this work relative to delineation and to composition, are, to a great extent, applicable to description, and also to narration and action, which are, as it were in art, the active principles, of which the two former are the passive; delineation, moreover, being composition in the singular number, while, composition is but delineation in the plural.
Method Employed In Differnt Arts
Having considered the general principle which regulates the subject before us, we have next to inquire into the proper mode of its application to each particular art, from which it will be seen that these several arts vary from one another in this respect as extensively as they do in their essential nature.
Art Theory - Motion, How Represented
Of all the different conditions which are the subject of artistical representation, there is none more important, and, at the same time, more difficult efficiently to describe than that of motion, in which state of being a large number of objects in nature are constantly existent, and which is, indeed, the ordinary condition under which a considerable proportion of them are viewed.
Art Theory - Vital Action
Motion, so far as it has relation to artistical composition, is of various kinds. But of all the different kinds of motion, that which may strictly be termed vital action, is the most important, as the most nearly allied to nature, and the correct and truthful representation of which is the most difficult to be effected in artistical composition.
Art Theory - Continuous Action
Where the action represented consists merely in the transient movement of a single figure, this may be considered to be independent in itself, and as having no direct or necessary relation to the motion which has preceded it, or to that which is to follow.
Art Theory - Action Past, Present, And Prospective
Not merely, however, if nature is truly to be represented, are motion and action, and also continuous action to be portrayed, but that which has not only immediately, but which has for some time passed; and that which is not only immediately, but which is for some time prospective, as well as immediately past and present action, must be described.
Art Theory - Unity Of Action
The importance of maintaining the unity of the subject in artistical composition of each kind, has already been demonstrated in the preceding chapter. No less essential is the preservation of unity of action among all the different personages in a transaction which forms the topic of artistical description or narration.
Art Theory - Repose
A condition of repose is ordinarily regarded as in contrast to one of action, and thus considered is merely negative in its nature. It is, nevertheless, occasionally, although not often, to a certain extent also positive, and of itself actually affecting to the mind, and productive of results quite independent of the action with which it may be contrasted.
Art Theory - Still Life
Besides the representation of action and of repose as exhibited in nature, there is another condition in which nature may be described when, although animate, she is neither in action, nor yet in repose strictly so called, but in a neutral state which differs from both. This is the description of what is termed in art still life.
Art Theory - Inanimate Nature
In addition, however, to the representation of still life, inanimate nature, and inanimation,—by which I mean a description of real nature as she is seen in the world, although of that part of nature only which is destitute of animation, such as fruit and flowers and trees, and of objects wanting in life, and mountains,—require also to be portrayed.
Art Theory - Death
As repose differs from still life in being not merely in action, but the very counterpart of action ; so death differs both from still life and from inanimate nature in being not merely the absence of life, but the actual presence of that which is most opposite to it. This presence of death in artistical representation should, moreover, be as positive as is ever the presence of life.
Examples In Each Art
We must now advert to some of the leading examples afforded in illustration of each of the foregoing principles together and in the aggregate, by the different arts, in addition to those already cited in the previous sections, as also in the other chapters of the present work. The arts as regards their different operations so far as they have been treated on in this chapter, appear to divide them-selves into those which are descriptive, those which are narrative, and those which are suggestive only.
Representation Of Human Nature
As the study of human nature is one of the noblest and one of the most important themes upon which the mind can be engaged, so whatever tends to aid us in this exalted undertaking must necessarily be deemed worthy of our attention and our regard.
Description And Expression
If, therefore, the due and adequate representation of human nature is of such important consequence in art, we have next to inquire into the mode by which this grand object can be efficiently attained.
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