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Art Of Giotto

( Originally Published 1912 )



CHARACTERISTIC of this America of ours are the waves of fashion that sweep through the country. There is danger in this jerky, intense way of doing things, even when the excitement is directed towards some object in itself entirely laudable. The wise man, the strong man, does not take up a purpose with terrible seriousness one hour to forget about it the next. We attack amusements, charities, politics, religion, literature, germs and art in the same nervous unsteadfast spirit.

It is therefore with very mixed feelings that we must regard the rise in the field of art of a distinct fad for Italian primitives. We may concede at once that the present popularity of the Giotteschi in many ways gives cause for optimism. It is impossible not to feel that a taste for Giotto, if sincere, represents an immeasurable intellectual and artistic advance over the taste for Barbison and Fragonard, which it supplants. There is great satisfaction in seeing that the mantle of Elijah which our grandfathers wrapped about the slippery shoulders of the Eclectics, and which our fathers passed down to Raphael and Michel Angelo, has by the present generation been bestowed upon the great master of the Dugento. It is a wholesome sign that the term " Giotteschi " should be as much used and abused in current art jargon as was the term " Pre-Raphaelite " in the nineteenth century. Even the word " Pre-Giottesque " is coming to have an almost hackneyed sound. Cimabue has emerged from that grey-green mysterious twilight in which he sat shrouded by the legends of Vasari; the speechless mysterious sphinx of rigid limbs and inscrutable aspect, unapproachable as an Assyrian goddess, has resolved herself into the gracious Madonna of the lower church at Assisi. Mr. Kahn's " Cavallini " shrinks within herself, looking with great reproachful eyes upon the ugliness of the new world, as if half hoping, half despairing of mitigating its banality by the presence of her own incomparable loveliness. All this we cannot but see with the greatest pleasure. Yet American fads have a dreadful way of blighting and befouling all that they touch. The swarm of locusts flies away leaving the verdure sere, the flowers deprived of their freshness.

At least it must be admitted that fashion in her arbitrary and unreasoning pickings and choosings could hardly have chanced upon any figure in the history of art whom age has so little power to wither or custom to stale. Modern criticism, which has pulled down many temples about the heads of false gods and has unseated ancient despots of the world of art, has merely strengthened the throne of Giotto. Closer study has changed even radically our conception of the master, and has swept away many venerable fables and misapprehensions, but the figure of the artist emerges only the more commanding. Dr. Sirčn's recent researches have enriched the Metropolitan Museum with an ac-credited and hitherto unsuspected work of the master, but have also relieved him in part of responsibility for the famous cycle of frescos, numbers 2 to 20, at Assisi. The latter, dealing with the life of St. Francis, have been accepted heretofore as an early work of the artist, and include such panel's as that of " St. Francis preaching to the Birds," which possibly more than any other painting has represented Giotto in the popular conception. The entire cycle now appears to be the work of Cavallini and his pupils, of whom Giotto was merely one.

The fact that such confusions have been, and still are, often possible, demonstrate's a truth so frequently brought out by modern criticism that one wonders the critics themselves have failed to grasp it. The difference between the great masters, their predecessors and followers, is so slight as to be nearly imperceptible. The keenest critics, with the aid of documentary evidence and the most subtle technical analysis, are frequently unable to determine which paintings are, and which are not, by the man with the well known name. It follows as a necessary consequence that there is no such great gulf fixed between the master, his predecessors and his followers, as connoisseurs for centuries have been disposed to believe. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The Assisi panel of " St. Francis preaching to the Birds " remains one of the world's masterpieces of mural decoration whether it was painted by the great Giotto or by an unnamed and obscure follower of Cavallini. The "Nativity" of the Metropolitan Museum should have given us as keen pleasure before Dr. Sirčn christened it a Giotto, as now that it has become one of the most prized possessions of the Museum. The very critics, who proclaim most loudly the superiority of Giotto over other artists of his time, are constantly mistaking works of minor painters for productions of the master.

This worship of names has ever since the thirteenth century been one of the great curses of art. There has been a continuous tendency to give because of the name of the artist a fictitious, not a true, value. It results perhaps -from a certain mental laziness that, instead of making our own valuations, we are ever eager to take them ready-made. The same mental stupidity causes the success of advertising. There is not one of us but who, by intelligent effort, could discover the type of breakfast food he likes best. Do we make this effort? Far from it. We meekly allow the inferior variety to be forced down our throats by clever manufacturers who advertise until we become familiar with the name. The same thing has happened in art. The advertising, it is true, has been done less crudely than in the case of breakfast food, but has nevertheless existed ever since the fourteenth century, and has continually become worse. It was, moreover, introduced by Giotto. Although Romanesque sculptors had occasionally not hesitated to extol their own Wares, Giotto was the first individual since Roman times (except possibly Cimabue) who succeeded in imposing his name upon the world of art. This preeminence came to him, doubtless, in no small part through the famous lines of Dante, which would have sufficed to give him immortality, even had no example of his painting survived. We have, therefore, in Giotto the first great name in art, and in Dante the first of the critics. This was the beginning of a vicious system of ready-made values, which has been carried to incredible lengths by the present age.

There is, I think, one truth we may safely deduce not only from the study of art but from the observation of all human and natural phenomena about us — the comparatively little importance of the individual. In the Middle Ages the individual hardly existed apart from the community. In Renaissance and modern times he has assumed lamentable prominence. Now Giotto was one of the first individualists, he was one of the first to arrogate to himself a position and supremacy among his fellows, disproportionate, I do not say to his merits, but to theirs.

I think it must be obvious upon careful consideration that every man is essentially of his own time. The art of Giotto as it has come down to us is less a product of his own individual genius — great as that indubitably was — than that of the age in which he lived.

Had he been born in the sixteenth century he must inevitably have painted in the manner of the Eclectics; had he lived at the present day he must necessarily have painted as do our modern artists. We may grant that his art would have been better than that of any Eclectic or of any modern, but it is inconceivable that he could have possessed even in small part the merit which he actually did possess. The force of the community must in every instance be inevitably greater than the force of the individual. If there is no artist living at the present day whose work can stand beside that of Giotto, the fault lies not with the individual artist but with the age. If the Dugento had not produced Giotto, it must inevitably have produced someone else who would have done his work. The century which brought forth the Gothic cathedral and St. Francis of Assisi perhaps the two grandest products of human civilization — was predestined to produce what should destroy the work of both. In Cimabue, Cavallini and their school we see developing an evolution which slides into the art of Giotto so gradually, so softly, that perhaps no man may say precisely where one ends and the other begins. On the other hand the art of Giotto slides into that of his followers and disciples as smoothly, as inevitably. There reigns, for example, the utmost uncertainty as to whether Giotto or some assistant or pupil painted the Magdalen frescos at Assisi. Giotto therefore really occupied a central position in a tendency which began long before his time, and continued as long after his death. The old legend of Vasari must consequently be discarded. Giotto no longer appears as a heaven-sent minister of genius who created the sweet new style with a single stroke of his brush. This flaming, heraldic figure standing on the first page of all histories of Italian painting is mythical. We now know that Italian art existed long centuries before the birth of Giotto, and many of us have come to feel that he represents not its birth but its culmination.

When all is said and done, then, we find that the first individualist Giotto was, like most of the individualists who followed him, not an individualist at all, but merely a necessary product of his time, and that his great name rests very largely, not on his indubitable merits, but on an importance which has been erroneously attributed to him.

Nevertheless, back of the legend of Vasari as back of most legends, there does lie an element of truth. Giotto stands at the turning of the way. With him we reach the crest of the pass. All that had been ceases. The course of art at this period is like a road across a mountain pass. At a given point the up-grade becomes downgrade, the waters which had been flowing south commence to run north, and yet we are always following along the same road in the same direction, developing the same tendencies.

To appreciate the error of Vasari in its true enormity we must bear in mind two facts: the first is that the present is an age of artistic decadence, and the second that the fault for this lies very largely with Giotto. Both statements may require explanation.

The artistic decadence of the present time is an ungrateful subject. Sour-mouthed prophets have never been beloved, and least of all when they have told the truth. Yet the situation is so extreme and alarming that it ought to be faced squarely. The starting point for constructive artistic advance in America must be destructive criticism.

Take modern furniture, for example. Never before have household articles been manufactured so absolutely without charm and without beauty. Our furniture manufacturies after having run through an orgy of horrors have finally abandoned the attempt to create their own styles. They are content to copy anything antique. By this very fact they acknowledge their decadence. There is a great deal of difference in old furniture; some of it is better, some of it worse, but none of it is as bad 'as the modern reproduction. Place the copy beside the original and you will see to what depths we have fallen.

Even more striking is the decadence in china. Among modern designs offered for sale at fabulous prices in the Fifth Avenue shops, one searches almost in vain for a single one that shows a sense for either composition, colour or decorative effect. Placed beside the products of the same art in the eighteenth century, they show a decline from the good manner more sharp and more alarming than any from which Roman art suffered at the epoch of the barbarian invasions. The disquieting part about this modern china is that our people as a rule are entirely oblivious to its dreadfulness. They buy it in quantities, when really good pottery might be had for the same price or less. They eat off it three times a day, and allow their eyes and sensibilities to be corrupted without ever realizing its machine-made hardness, its sentimentality, its vulgarity.

Even worse is the case with silverware.

Before the war I was often fairly appalled in examining the gifts commonly accumulated at a wedding. How in the name of reason has the human mind been able to conceive of such designs, to assemble so many examples of all imaginable ugliness! How can people who pretend to refinement and good breeding endure the possession of this mass of articles which has no other usefulness than the vulgar and ostentatious display of wealth? Such things could not be, if long custom had not blinded our eyes to lack of beauty. Nor would we otherwise be able to endure the insipidity of modern jewelry.

The Christmas festival is undoubtedly the greatest holiday we have in America. It is a time of excited delight for children, whose pleasure is frequently less keen than that of their elders. How do we celebrate this happy season? In the first place by decorating our houses with red and green, which probably of all possible colours and combinations of colour are the most jarring and discordant. Then we take a Christmas tree which as it grows in the forest is an object of singular beauty and poetry. We adorn this no longer with candles but with electric lights, undoubtedly one of the most detestable of all modern inventions. These electric lights are frequently coloured the most poisonous shades of red, blue and even green. As if this were not enough we proceed to cover the tree with all sorts of tinsel and trinkets, sentimental wax angels, terrible glass ornaments, everything which is glittering and vulgar. This is the great treat which we have for our children. We teach them how pretty it is; and how the joy of seeing this wonderful object is the great event in the entire year. If we were not aesthetic idiots, would we not save ourselves the pain of beholding this dreadful object? Would not a conscientious realization of the fact that we were ruining the aesthetic perceptions of our children cause us to discover some means of celebrating the festival by means that were equally joyous, without being hideous?

It is perhaps unnecessary to push the point further. He who takes the pains to look, will soon perceive that our life is surrounded by ugliness as has been the life perhaps of no other civilized people in any age.

Architecture gives us a clue to one of the underlying reasons for the degeneracy of the modern artistic intellect. We Americans once possessed a good architecture. The buildings of the Colonial period, and especially those erected at the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century were often full of charm and dignity. It is of course true that some were bad, and many in-different, but the general average was highly satisfactory, certainly much better than any-thing we have since attained. The Colonial period was succeeded by the Greek revival. Then good architecture came to a sudden end in America about the year 1850. The cause is not difficult to find. It was the machine which crushed out handwork, it was the machine which killed beauty. The Neo-Grecque house, of good proportions and dignified detail, gave place in turn to the Victorian or wholly evil dwelling, adorned with lathe work, turned balustrades, little cupolas, scroll gables, incredible gingerbread of every description.

The machine killed architecture in America, not only because it killed handwork and because it substituted quantity for quality, but also in a more subtle way. It changed the ideal, the nerves, the entire nature of our people. It is an eternal truth that to think highly one must live simply. Our people ceased to live simply. Life became ever more complex, ever more agitated. Prosperity entered at the front door, and thoughtfulness, poetry and repose were forced out at the back.

Now this brings us to the great indictment to which Giotto must answer. He, or rather the age of which he is typical, represents the introduction of the modern spirit. He was the first of the materialists, the first to place the tangible above the intangible, the worldly above the supermundane. It is the spirit of Giotto that has been working on this planet of ours for the last six centuries, and that has brought the world where it is today.

I believe it is not necessary for me to turn aside to point out how completely that school of critics which harps upon the spirituality of Giotto, is in error. It is strange that such sentimental nonsense should still continue to be repeated. The psychological attitude of the master is evident enough from the internal evidence of his paintings, which show the hard-headed, matter-of-fact, sensible man, interested in the solution of practical problems, eager to see things as they are, without sympathy for the poetic mysticism, the imaginative fervour of the Middle Ages. The matter is made even more obvious by Giotto's poem. The " Canzone sopra la Povertŕ " might have been written by a brilliant materialist of the nineteenth century. It is an incisive satire against idealism, as clear-cut and relentless as a lawyer's brief. It would hardly have been possible to find a man less suited by temperament than Giotto to comprehend the spirit of St. Francis. It is one of the tragedies' in the history of art that he was selected to paint the Franciscan legend. To speak of the religious feeling in Giotto is like talking of the Catholicism of Martin Luther. Compared with some of our modern divines, Luther approaches more closely the Catholics, because, for example, he believed in the Devil and Hell. Compared with later painters, Giotto showed the survival of numerous traditions of the Middle Ages which give his work superficially something of a religious aspect. In point of fact, however, Giotto bears the same relation to the religious art of the Middle Ages that Luther bears to the Church of Rome. His art in essence is in the highest degree materialistic. He it was who started the search for material truths. His was the spirit of investigation upon which rests all modern science. His successors in the Florentine school followed in his footsteps; they were primarily one and all scientists and investigators of physical phenomena.

Now although I hold Giotto largely responsible for the introduction of the gospel of materialism which has led to such dire results, I should not wish to be understood as disparaging the value of his contribution to the thought of the world. After all, truth and even material truth, is one of the most vital and useful of all things. If we can only really see the truth in any matter, however humble, we have made a great step forward. All progress in the technical arts has been founded primarily upon the accurate observation of fact. The acquisition of fact is, and always has been, and always must be, one of the chief pursuits and the greatest triumphs of man. It is because our knowledge of facts is only partial that we are men, not gods. The curse of human destiny has been that man is so often unwilling to accept fact even when it is accessible to him.

I am sorry therefore that the modern world has learnt only half the lesson taught by Giotto and his successors. We have accepted the scientific part of the teaching; we have learned how objects possessing three dimensions may be represented on a canvas possessing but two so as to produce even more vivid retinal impressions. We have learned the science of perspective in all its intricacies and refinements. We have learned the theory of shades and shadows and a thousand details of drawing and technique. All this science we have taken over from the Italian Renaissance. But modern art has forgotten the other and no less vital part of the teaching — psychological truth. This cannot, perhaps, be better illustrated than by comparing Pintoricchio's portrait of Alexander VI in the " Ascension" of the Borgia apartments with almost any modern portrait. No one who has seen the painting of the pope will ever forget it. The character of this most decadent of pontiffs is as clearly drawn by the artist as in the page of history: The portrait of Dorian Gray never told half so plain a story. Sensuality, greed, brutishness, are written in characters that no one can mistake. How dared Pintoricchio paint such a picture? Why did the pope allow it to descend to posterity? It is clear that in that age men were not afraid of facing the truth. The painter recorded truthfully, without flattery, what he saw. To-day we are almost ready to forgive the pope for all his vices in return for the frank honesty which made such a portrait possible. You will search through Quattrocento art almost in vain for an instance in which the painter has sought to flatter either the character or the features of the sitter. These pictures are great because they are psychologically true, because they are an honest record of observed fact, because they retain the vitality and personality of the sitter. Turn from them to a modern portrait (I except only those by Sargent), let us say of a society woman. Instead of a record of fact we find intentional deception. The one desire of both painter and sitter is not to look truth in the face. If there is some unfortunate feature, the face is turned so as to conceal it; if the woman is ugly, she must be made to look pretty; if old, she must appear young. Even more shocking is the wilful perversion of character. The continual effort of our modern artists and the continual effort of our modern sitter is to bring into the world a portrait which will represent the sitter not as he actually is, but as he would like the world to think him to be. What a sad commentary upon our twentieth century ideals these portraits form! How dreadful these women are! The shallowness of that pretty face, the inanity of the smile, the lack of character in the whole production will leave to posterity which they think so easily to deceive, a terrible record of uninteresting vacuity.

The same spirit of untruthfulness has permeated our architecture. The Gothic builders followed consistently the Lamp of Truth. All that the modern age has discarded. Imitation materials, false construction, columns which do not support, concealed steel frames are the very alphabet of present-day architecture. In fact, in only one thing, so far as I know, are the New York architects honest — that is, in their bath-room windows. As I walk the streets of the city, the one feature of the inside of the building that I see expressed externally is the bath-room. There they are, row after row of small windows, one directly above the other, following the lines of the plumbing, and triumphantly proclaiming to all the world the nature of the apartment which they ventilate. Even here, however, in this one apparent frankness, we have a lie. The bath-room is the one room in the house in which plenty of ventilation, plenty of light and plenty of air are imperatively needed. We therefore make the windows for this room of about one quarter the size of the windows for the rest of the house. Vanitas vanitatum, ornais vanitas.

It is not because he studied truth, nor even because he studied material truth, that we quarrel with Giotto, but because he neglected, in his passionate search for the visible, principles even greater and more vital. In this world about us, at least as far as it is possible for us to judge, there seem to be two great classes of phenomena. One is the material, by which I mean all that which is physical. The other is the immaterial, by which I mean all that which is psychological. To cite an obvious example, if we slip and break our leg, the resulting pain will be material, that is to say, it will be caused by a purely physical process the workings of which can be explained on mechanistic principles. If, on the other hand, we lose a friend by death, the pain we suffer may be quite as acute or even worse, but we are not able to explain why we feel it on physical grounds; the psychological or the immaterial enters. It matters not whether the actual physiological processes set in motion in the two cases be or be not analogous; the ultimate cause in one case is physical, in the other psychological. Similarly in the world about us there are these two distinct groups of phenomena. The art of the Middle Ages occupied itself exclusively with the immaterial; Giotto turned from the immaterial to the material. The difficulty of the modern world is not that it has discovered the material, but that it has so largely forgotten the immaterial. Mind is incontestably greater than matter. Any art which ignores this fact falls into irretrievable error. From the time of Giotto onward, artists have turned more and more consistently from the more essential to the less essential. The Middle Ages painted the soul ; Michelangelo painted the body; modern art paints the clothes. This is the great and unanswerable indictment to which the art of Giotto must answer.

The only possible defence is an invasion. The charge, you say, is merely archćological, and archaeology is of no account. As an archaeologist I am prepared to admit it cheer-fully. Archaeology often is, and often has been, the enemy of art and its true appreciation; and it is only when strictly relegated to a subordinate position, that of scholar instead of teacher, that it can be of service. If I have emphasized this archćological indictment it is chiefly to demonstrate how completely wrong is the traditional — equally archćological — eulogy of Giotto first hallowed by Vasari, and since without end repeated, that Giotto is of interest, not so much intrinsically, as because he was the first to show the world the way from the dark shades of the mediaeval night to the blinding brightness of the glorious new manner, as witnessed by the paintings of Vasari himself.

No, the merit of Giotto is distinctly not archćological. It is not as an historical curiosity nor as a shadowy figure from a remote and inaccessible past that he appeals to us today; it is on the contrary because his work still lives, because in itself and on its own merits it still grips us with a power unsurpassed perhaps by that of any other master.

Much has been written but never half enough can be said of the repose of Giotto. Even across the redaubing of Bianchi, what a wonderful space surrounds his S. Croce frescos, and with what feelings of calmness, of refreshment we look upon this world of the artist's creation from which have vanished all the sordidness, the oppression of life. These paintings have the power of separating us from the noise and confusion of the century, from its restlessness, its world-weariness, as completely as the summit of some remote mountain. They call forth in our innermost being sensations of exaltation, of poise, of power. To know them gives the same inspiration as knowing one of those rare beings who have eliminated from life all that is unessential.

And this is precisely the secret of the feeling for space and repose in Giotto. He is preeminent among modern artists in knowing how to give the significant, and the significant alone. There is in his works but very rarely intrusion of unnecessary detail.

I can cite no more striking instance of this virtue of Giotto than a painting, not by the master himself, but by his close follower Bernardo Daddi, which is now in the Jarves gallery at New Haven. The subject is the vision of St. Dominic. The legend relates that one day while the Saint was in Rome seeking to have his new order confirmed by the pope, he went into the church of St. Peter to pray; suddenly the two Princes of the Apostles appeared to him miraculously. and St. Peter placed in his hand a sword, St. Paul a book.

Let us stop for a moment to think what possibilities this subject would suggest to a modern painter or even to a painter of the high Renaissance. The imposing architecture of the church itself, the great arches, the vistas in perspective, offered a chance for the display of architectural accessories equal to that afforded by the " School of Athens." Then the artist might have introduced a stately procession robed in gorgeous colours, moving towards the altar in the background amid clouds of incense. And in the foreground, among the group of citizens present at the office, what a chance to introduce splendid portraits of well-known personages and the artist's friends.

Of all these opportunities, however, Bernardo Daddi availed himself not at all. He introduced no architecture, no processions of priests, no citizens. The background in this painting is a simple wash of gold, divided by a horizontal line from a field of solid colour suggesting but not imitating the pavement of the church. Against this background the action is represented. Everything which is superfluous, everything which is unessential, has been eliminated. The fact of the miracle is set forth by itself with the utmost simplicity but in a manner which can never be forgotten by one who has seen it. Space, rhythm, composition, line, poetry — in achieving these elements the artist has discovered the essence of beauty, and in isolating them he has enabled us to realize them.

Why is it that this picture holds us with such power? Why is it that the sweep of line haunts our memory? After the artist has once taught us, we may find an infinite number of curves equally sweeping and beautiful in nature, which we would otherwise have been incapable of seeing or enjoying. The same with the other great qualities in this painting. Repose — is it possible that any picture should have a calm, a restfulness as great as that of nature? Space — can a little block of wood, measuring at most some ten or twelve inches, possess the extent of the sea, or the loftiness of the sky? Why is it, then, that Bernardo Daddi makes us feel all these things so keenly, so overwhelmingly, so unforgettably?

The answer is, I believe, simply because the artist has learned the great principle of elimination. He has learned to do without. Entbehren sollst, du sollst entbehren. Of the manifold beauty in the world, from its puzzling confusing richness he has taken certain aspects, isolated them, separated them from everything which distracts, held them up to our attention so that we cannot fail to see them. Stimulated by his art, we return to nature and find we are able to enjoy these same beauties in the living world around us. After we have once grasped the isolated beauty, we are able to understand this beauty in connection with others, where at first the very exuberance of aspects, the very number of the opportunities for enjoyment, would have overwhelmed us.

And in the last analysis this is perhaps the mission of the artist, and by the artist I mean not only the painter, but the sculptor, the architect, the poet, the dramatist, whoever strives to create beautiful things. The artist, if he be a true artist, is a prophet, he is the interpreter of God to man.

Is there one of us who had ever appreciated to its full the beauty of sunlight through the trees until he had seen the paintings of the Barbison school? Who had realized that there was a greater pleasure to be experienced in the mist and rain than in clear blue sky, before Whistler opened his eyes? After we have become acquainted with Japanese art, the snow must ever give us an increased thrill of pleasure. Could a person so unfortunate as not to have seen a Greek marble ever under-stand the poetry and beauty of manhood? Whoever comprehended the charm of femininity so well before he knew Correggio? Whoever grasped the tenderness and sweetness of mother-love without first knowing the Madonnas of Raphael? And so we might continue indefinitely. Each true artist has left the world the richer in sensations of beauty, of joy; each has revealed to those of us who choose to listen, new understanding, new possibilities of happiness. In the last analysis art is the key to nature and the world around us. This twentieth century of ours has produced countless histories natural and unnatural, animal fables strange as the bestiaries of the Middle Ages, above all classifications of birds, beasts and flowers. But if we are to understand nature in anything but the most material sense, we must go far back of the twentieth century. Not that I mean the classifications are harmful; on the contrary, I firmly believe that all knowledge is always useful. Let us know how to distinguish the Grey-checked from the Olive-backed Thrush, the Yellow-bellied from the Arcadian Fly-catcher; nay, let us even learn Latin names, and when we see a robin speak of merula migratoria. Only when we have done this, let us not imagine that we have understood nature.

The larger enjoyment of nature can only come through the medium of the artist. It is, I believe, a profound truth that to know is to love — that is to say, if by to know we mean the word in its broadest sense, in the meaning of comprehension. If we all love our friends better than other people, it is not because they are necessarily more admirable than thousands of persons with whom we are unacquainted, but merely because we know them better, because we have more understanding of them. Not that equal knowledge implies equal love; that would obviously be false, for there are always beings and objects more admirable than others. I merely mean that to appreciate the admirable, we must first understand; and the greater our understanding, the more we shall find to ad-mire. We may even push the point further. There is, I believe, no one in the world whom we would not love, if we were able really to understand him, to enter completely into his life. Our dislikes are inevitably due to our own shortcoming, to our own failure to comprehend. The despairing wail of Shelley, " The wise lack love, and those who love lack wisdom," contains a fundamental error. If we look closely we shall find that the man who is truly wise cannot lack love, nor is it possible for him who loves to be wholly lacking in wisdom.

This same principle applies not only to man but to the entire universe of which man is merely an inseparable part. In measure as we know it, as we comprehend it, we find it admirable, we love it, we derive from it joy, happiness. In that most solemn of symphonies, the silence of the American forest, there break many motives of significance to him who understands. The recurrent song of the White-throat is, for example, capable of giving the same exquisite pleasure that we derive from the reiteration of the love motive in " Tristan " which it so unexpectedly resembles. In one case as in the other, however, we lose this pleasure of recollection unless our intellect is sufficiently trained. The enjoyment of nature is the most difficult, the most exacting of occupations, but if it demands more from us than anything else, it also gives more in return.

This paper had been written, when my attention was called to the fact that the theory of art which I had believed to have been followed instinctively rather than designedly by artists, and never before to have been formulated, had been put in very explicit words, and that by Leonardo da Vinci. I quote from Dr. Sirén's paraphrase, which is in part a translation: " Leonardo's continually expanding and deepening knowledge was, however, to him its own reward and a constant source of satisfaction. With its aid he was able to penetrate deeper and deeper into Nature's secrets and feel himself more and more completely their interpreter and master. Through this knowledge he learned to know and love Nature. ` Great love is born of great knowledge of the objects loved. If you do not possess knowledge of them you can love them only a little or perhaps not at all. And if you love them only for the good which you expect to gain from them and not for the sum of their qualities, you are like the dog who wags his tail to anyone who gives him a bone.'

" He [Leonardo] stood in a way above the ordinary antithesis of love and hatred — he loved because he knew and understood. Nothing was hateful to him, because he recognized that hatred meant only the lack of deeper knowledge, for ` love is the daughter of knowledge and love is deeper in measure as knowledge is more assured.' "

This confession by the artist who, although he lived in an age of decadence, nevertheless perhaps more nearly than any other realized the full possibilities of his calling, gives me greater confidence to state a view of art, of the truth of which I have been convinced for upwards of twelve years.

If, therefore, the artist be the interpreter of nature to man, at once the priest and prophet of God, it follows that his sin is especially damnable when as is unfortunately the tendency at the present time he prostitutes his art at the feet of Mammon. The true artist, like the true priest and the true prophet, must speak to all humanity, not merely to the aristocratic, least of all the moneyed, few. In fact I think it is no exaggeration to say that every art which is really great, really vital, has had its roots in the nation, the race, not in any class. Certain it is that in the case of Giotto this was preeminently true. His cycles of frescos at Padova and S. Croce were painted for the people, and have for centuries increased the joy in life for whoever cared to seek in them inspiration. The Italians have a proverb, essere non avere; which may be translated, he who is, has. Beauty is always cheap; Heaven may be had for the asking. Happiness lies not in the material physical possession of works of art, but in the immaterial, psychological ability to appreciate the beauty which always surrounds us.

In conclusion, therefore, if I may presume to estimate the value of the art of Giotto, I shall place it exceedingly high, not because, as Vasari claims, he originated the modern manner, for he is not in reality responsible for this, nor would it be to his credit if he were, but because of the greatness of his prophecy. For perhaps no other artist has ever seen so keenly the beauty of the world, nor interpreted it so skilfully. From the study of the works of Giotto, as from those perhaps of no other artist, we turn to the world about us, stimulated in every nerve, with vastly heightened powers of enjoyment, more in tune with the mysterious, but ever-present, beauty of the universe.



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