1902 Encyclopedia > Fine Arts

Fine Arts

FINE ART is the abstract or collective name given to the result of a whole group of human activities; the activities themselves which constitute the group being severally called the FINE ARTS. In antiquity the fine arts were not explicitly named, nor even distinctly recognized, as a separate class. In other modern languages besides English they are called by the equivalent name of the beautiful arts (belle arti, beaux arts, schöne Künste). The fine or beautiful arts, then, are those among the arts of man which minister, not to his material necessities or conveniences, but to his love of beauty (using the word beauty in its widest sense); or if any art fulfills both these purposes at once, still as fulfilling the latter only is called a fine art. Thus architecture, in so far as it provides shelter and accommodation, is one of useful or mechanical arts, and one of the fine arts only in so far as its structures give pleasure by the aspect of strength, fitness, harmony and proportion of the masses, by disposition and contrast of light and shade, by colour and enrichment, by variety and relation of lines, surfaces, and intervals.

There is no difference of opinion concerning the nature of fine art and the fine arts as thus generally described, and as contra-distinguished from art and the arts mechanical. It is acknowledge that the one set of arts exists to satisfy practical needs, and the other set exists to give delight and satisfy the sense of beauty, while as to an intermediate set of art which exist for both purposes, it is possible to distinguish in each case the part which is beautiful or pleasurable from the part which is mechanical or merely useful. But as soon as we inquire further, and seek for more precise definitions, we find ourselves confronted with a mass of speculation and discussion as formidable as has been accumulated in any department of human thought. Granting that the fine arts are those of which the end is beauty, or beauty and use conjointly, the question next arises, what is beauty? and next, how does the beauty of art differ from the beauty of nature? and the, what place do the arts of beauty hold in the general scheme of things?—what are the relations of these activities and their results to the idea of the universe, to the faculties of man, and to each other? To such inquiries as these, enormous in extent and enormous in complexity, a separate place has been given in modern philosophy under the name Aesthetics. "It is the province of aesthetics," says Professor Ruskin, "to tell you (if you did not know it before) that the taste and colour of a peach are pleasant, and to ascertain (if it be ascertainable, and you have any curiosity to know) why they are so." But in a less sarcastic and more extended definition, it would be said that the name Aesthetics is intended to designate a scientific doctrine or account of beauty in nature and art, and of the faculties for originating beauty which exist in man. Instead, however, of an accepted or uniform science, we find on these subjects a multitude of speculations as conflicting as they are voluminous; but yet conflicting as they are voluminous; but yet conflicting more in appearance than in reality, because the source of their contradictions lies less in difference of judgement concerning the facts themselves, than in difference of doctrine concerning the abstract order of the universe in which those facts find a place, and in consequent diversity of method in arranging and of formula in interpreting the facts.

Of the principal speculations of AESTHETICS the reader already possesses a synopis under the proper heading. Our present task is of a different kind. We shall, indeed, as well as our space admits, endeavour to state what characters all the fine arts possess in common, and in what they severally differ from one another, as well as to lay down certain leading facts of their history; in other words we shall submit (1) a definition of fine art in general (2) a definition and classification of the fine arts severally, (3) some observations on their historical development. But in so doing, we shall not profess even to state the deeper problems either of metaphysics or psychology which will lie to right and left of our path, still less, as the exponents of anyone philosophical system, to solve them. We shall simply take account of the facts and phenomena of the several arts as we find them in experience, and sum them up in the language of every day; keeping of necessity in view only the most salient features of the vat provinces of inquiry before us, and leaving particulars to be supplied under the headings of the individual arts. And when, as will sometimes happen, we do quote the formulas and refer to the systems of philosophers, it will be, not as adopting any of them for better for worse, but as finding suggestions in all of them by turns; since, though one body of speculative doctrine may be no truer than another, yet each brings forwards some aspect and contains some presentment of the truth; and a complicated mass of facts, when it is arranged in the order and expressed in the terms of a system, may not be essentially the clearer, but is usually the better marshalled for review.

At the threshold it will be necessary that we should call to mind the terms of our own definition of art in general (see ART). According to the popular distinction between art and nature, the idea of art only includes phenomena of which man is the cause—and that, when he acts not spontaneously but with calculation, not from impulse but from forethought; while the idea of nature includes all phenomena, both in man and in the world outside him, which take place without forethought or studied initiative of his own. This distinction we saw reason to recognize as practically valid. Art, we said accordingly, means every regulated operation or dexterity whereby we pursue ends which we know beforehand; and it means nothing but such operations and dexterities. That which any one does without thinking about it, and without considering what he is doing it for, is not art at all. Hence we shall allow the title of fine art to natural eloquence, to charm or dignity of manner, to delicacy and conduct for which such a title is sometimes claimed, though they really proceed from an unconscious gift or unreflecting habit in those who exhibit them. All these are manifestations of the beautiful, and in witnessing them we experience a pleasure analogous, no doubt, to the pleasures of fine art. Nevertheless, so far as such manifestations are spontaneous, they are not arts, but, as we have called them. Graces; they are due, as Greek theology would have expressed it, not to the teaching of Athênê but to gift of the Charites. When the exigencies of a deductive and ontological system lead a writer like Dr Robert Zimmermann, of Vienna, to co-ordinate these spontaneous acts or traits of beautiful and expressive behaviour with the deliberate artistic activities of the race, we feel that he is sacrificing to system a distinction which is essential. That distinction common parlance very justly observes, with its opposition of "art" to "nature," and its phrase of "second nature" for those habits which have become so ingrained as to seem spontaneous, whether originally the result of discipline or not. One of the essential qualities of art is premeditation;and when Shelley talks of the skylark’s profuse strains of unpremeditated art, he in effect lays emphasis on the fact that it is only by a metaphor that he uses the word art in this case at all; he calls attention to that which (if the songs of birds are as instinctive as we suppose) precisely makes the difference between the skylark’s outpourings and his own. For example, when we see a person in all whose ordinary movements there are freedom and beauty, we put down the charm of these to inherited and inbred physical aptitudes of which the person has never thought, and call it nature; but when we go on to notice that the same person is beautifully and appropriately dressed, since we know that it is impossible to dress without thinking of it, we put down the charm of this to judicious fore thought and calculation, and call it art. Again, it is an established and a just practical maxim of the dramatic art, that the actor who in the moment of performance really and involuntarily surrenders himself to the emotions of his part and situation, though he may rouse the sympathies of the audience by a natural exhibition of feeling, yet is not acting like an artist, and does not produce as much effect, nor an effect of the same kind, as he does when, master of himself, he goes through a series of utterances and gestures which he has deliberately conceived and rehearsed before-hand. The task of art is not, either of the above instances, to crate a product outside of or separately form the artist. The material upon which the artist has in these cases to work consists of his or her own natural aptitudes; aptitudes, in the one case, of personal charm, which have to be made the most of by appropriate adornment; aptitudes, in the other case, for mimicry and emotional expression, which have to be made the most of by study and practice. In such instance, it may often be hard to separate the share of nature from the share of art in the result—to determined were grace ends and calculation begins, or where ends the sympathetic power of natural expression, and where begins the properly artistic power of studied and premeditated expression. Perhaps no writer has observed the differences or laid don the boundary lines between these adjacent kingdoms of artlessness and art with more acuteness than Schleiermacher. But we have said enough to mark for the present purpose the reality and importance of the distinction. And having thus secured ourselves against the intrusion among fine arts of those phases of beauty in human act and utterance which justly belong not to art at all but nature, we can enter upon what is our proper business, the delimitation of the separate place and functions of the fine arts among each other.


When we say of the fine arts as a group that they are activities which minister to the love of beauty in man, it is as if we said, the tailor’s art is an activity which ministers to his need of clothes; and the inference is, in the one case as in the other, that a separate class of men is to be found in every community devoted to this particular employment. And such, practically, we all know to be the case; the gifts and calling of the artist constitute a separate profession, a profession of the producers, so to speak, of fine art, while the rest of the community are enjoyers or recipients of the fine art produces. In the most primitive societies, undoubtedly, this was not so, and we can go back to an original or rudimentary stage of every fine art at which the separation between a class of producers or performers, and a class or recipients, does not exist. Such an original or rudimentary stage of the dramatic art, for instance, we are accustomed to witness in children, who will occupy themselves at all moments with mimicry and make-believe for their own satisfaction, and without the least regards to the presence or absence of witnesses. The original or rudimentary type of the profession of imitative sculptors or painters is the cave-dweller of the palaeolithic age, who, when he rested from his day’s hunting, first took up the bone handle of his weapon, and with a flint either carved it into the shape, or on its surface scratched the outlines, of the animals of the chase. The original or rudimentary type of the architect, considered not as a more builder but as an artist, is the savage who, when his tribe had taken to live in tents or hunts instead of caves, first arranged the skins and timbers of his tent or hut in one way because it pleased his eyes, rather that in some other way which was as good for shelter. The original type of the artificer or maker of household implements, considered in the same light, was the other savage who first took it into his head to fashion his club or spear in one way rather than in another way as good for killing, and to ornament it with tufts or markings. In none of these cases had the primitive artist any reason for pleasing anybody but himself. Again, the original or rudimentary type of lyric song and dancing arose when the first reveller clapped hands and stamped or shouted in time, in honour of his god, in commemoration of a victory, or in mere obedience to the blind stirring of a rhythmic impulse within him; and to such a display the presence or absence of witnesses does not signify at all. The original type of the instrumental musician is the shepherd who first notched a reed and drew sounds from it while his sheep were cropping. The father of all artists in dress and personal adornment was the first wild man who tattooed himself or bedecked himself with shells and plumes. But in both of these last instances, it may be said, the primitive artist surely had the motive of pleasing not himself only, but his mate, or female whom he desired to be his mate? However that may be, it is clear that what any one can enjoy by himself, whether in the way of musical sounds or personal adornments, or in the way of mimicry, of rhythmical movements, of imitative or ornamental carving and drawing, of the disposition and adornment of dwelling places and utensils—the same things, it is clear, other can also enjoy with him. For these and similar things to give pleasure, it is not essential that other should be by; but the pleasures they give are essentially of a kindin which other can, if they are by, participate.

And so, with the growth of societies, it comes about that one class of persons separate themselves, and become the ministers or producers of this kind of pleasures, while the rest become the persons ministered to, the participator in or recipients of the pleasures. Artists are those members of a society who are so constituted as to feel more acutely than the rest certain classes of pleasures which all can fell in their degree. By this fact of their constitution they are impelled to devote their active powers to the production of such pleasures, to the making or doing of some of those things which they enjoy so intensely when they are made and done by others. At the same time the artiste does not, by assuming these ministering or creative functions, surrender his enjoying or receptive functions. He continues to participate in the pleasures of which he is himself the cause, and remains a conscious member of his own public. The architect, sculptor, painter, are able respectively to stand off from and appreciate the results of their own labours; the singer enjoys the sound of his own voice, and the musician of his own instruments; the poet, according to his temperament, furnishes the most enthusiastic or the most fastidious reader for his own stanzas. Neither, on the other hand, does the person who is a habitual recipient from others of the pleasures of fine art, forfeit the privilege of producing them according to his capabilities, and of becoming, if he has the power, an amateur or occasional artist. Nay, these opposite functions of producing and enjoying the fruits of production, of ministering and being ministered to, are much more commonly combined in this other departments of human exertion. Nearly every one is ready to be the minister, if he can, of his own higher pleasures, and therefore to be his own singer architect, sculptor, or painter. Few are ready to be ministers of their own lower needs, and to be their own tailors, their own butchers (except in the case of wild game, killing of which, being superfluous, possesses an attraction of which necessary killing is devoid), their own cobblers, cooks, servants, and the rest. In spite, however, of such combination or interchange of functions, we ma, both practically and for the purpose of the present discussion, regard the artist as belonging generally to one category and the rest of the world to another. We may separate in our consideration those phenomena which attend the production of fine art, or exercise of the aesthetic activities, from those phenomena which attend the enjoyment of fine art, or contemplation of the result of such exercise.

For the rest, of the two parts of which our preliminary definition consisted, we shall gain most by letting alone the one and following out the other. If we take up the affirmative part, in which we said that the fine arts are those which minister to our love of beauty, and if we tray to develop and complete that, we shall have, for one thing, to explain how the love of beauty, in the wide and somewhat loose sense in which we here use the phrase, means a faculty which man possesses for taking keen and permanent delight in the contemplation and the imagination of many kinds of things, including some not strictly to be called beautiful, such as grotesqueness, comicallay, even ugliness itself, when they are presented in typical forms. For another thing, we shall be very apt to find ourselves arguing in a circle, and saying, such and such an art is fine because it produces beauty, and such and such a thing is beautiful because it is produced by fine art. But if we take up the negative part of our definition, in which we only said that the fine arts are arts which exist independently of practical necessity of utility, and if we try to follow out this, we shall find that here we have got hold a character of the fine arts which at once presents instructive aspects and far-reaching consequences. Indeed, the greater part of those other characters, or common properties of whatever king, which have been recognized by consent as peculiar to the group of fine arts, will appear on examination to be implied in, or deducible from, this one fundamental character.

Let us take first, among such common properties, one relating to the frame of mind, or moral attitude, so to call it, which accompanies the reception as distinguished from the production of aesthetic pleasure. It is an observation as old as Aristotle that such pleasures differ from most other pleasures of experience in that they are disinterested. That is to say, of course not disinterested in the sense in which that word implies the positive ethical virtue of self-abnegation, preferring others one’s self; but disinterested in the sense that they are not such as nourish a man’s body nor add to his riches; they are not such as can gratify him, when he received them, by the sense of advantage or superiority over his fellow creatures; they are not such as one human being can in any sense receive exclusively from the objet which bestows them. We have partly learnt as much already in glancing at the origins or rudimentary stages of the several fine arts, when we say that, whether the primitive artist meant it or not, his operations were capable at any rate of pleasing others besides himself. To turn to their developed stages, it is evidently characteristic of a beautiful building that its beauty cannot be monopolized, but can be seen and admired by the inhabitant of a whole city and by all visitors for all generations. The same thing is true of a picture or a statue, except in so far as an individual possessor may choose to keep such a possession to himself, in which case his pride of monopoly is a sentiment wholly independent of his pleasure in artistic contemplation; (and as a rule we practically find that the heir or collector who takes most pleasure in his treasures of art is also the readiest to make them accessible to others). Similarly, music is composed to be sung or played for the enjoyment of many at a time, and for such enjoyment a hundred years hence as much as to-day. Poetry is written to be read by all readers for ever who care for the ideas and feelings of the poet and can apprehend the meaning and melody of his language. If we consider other pleasures which might seem to be analogous to those of fine art, but to which common consent yet declines to allow that character, we shall see that one reason is, that such pleasures are not in their nature thus disinterested. Thus the senses of smell and taste have pleasures of their own like the senses of sight and hearing, and pleasures neither less poignant nor every much less capable of fine graduation and discrimination than those. Why, then, are the experience of these senses not called beautiful? and why is the title of fine art not claimed, or only claimed in jest, for any skill in arranging and combining them? Why are there no arts of savours and perfumes corresponding in rank to the arts of forms, colours, and sounds? An answer commonly given is that sight and hearing are intellectual and therefore higher senses, that through them we have our avenues to all knowledge and all ideas of things outside us; while taste and smell are unintellectual and therefore lower senses, through which few such impressions find their way to us as help to build up our knowledge and our ideas. To this it may be replied that music, in its perfect or developed state, the accomplished fine art, that is, of sounds, deals precisely with those modes and relations of sound, pure sound as apart from words, which least convey knowledge or definite ideas, and can so far at least be called intellectual. The reply is far from complete; still, a more satisfactory reason than the above why there are no fine arts of taste and smell, or at best but humble fine arts half ironically so called, is this, that savours and perfumes yield only private pleasures, which it is not possible to build up into separate and durable schemes such that every one may have the benefit of them, and such as cannot be monopolized or used up. If against this it is contended that what the programmed of a performance is in the musical art, the same is menu in the culinary, and that practically it is no less possible to serve up a thousand times and to a thousand different companies the same dinenr than the same symphony, we must fall back upon that still more fundamental form of the distinction between the aesthetic and non-aesthetic bodily senses, upon which the physiological psychologist of he English school lay stress. We must say that the pleasures of taste and smell cannot be aesthetic pleasures, or pleasures of the art, because their enjoyment is too closely associated—in the case of taste inseparably—with the most indispensable and the most strictly personal of utilities, eating and drinking. To pass from these lower pleasures to the highest; consider the nature of the delight derived from the contemplation, by the person who is happy enough to be their object, of the signs and manifestations of love. That at lest is a beautiful experience; why is the pleasure which it affords not an artistic ether? Why, in order to receive an artistic pleasure from human sign and manifestations of this kind, are we compelled to go the theatre, and see them exhibited in favour of a third person, who is not really their object any more than ourselves? This is so, for one reason, evidently, because of that difference between art and nature on which we have already dwelt. Not to art, but to nature and life, belongs love where it is really felt, with its attendant train of hopes and fears, momentous passions and contingencies. To art belongs love displayed where it is not really felt; and in this sphere, along with reality and spontaneousness of the display, and along with its momentous bearings, there disappear all those elements of pleasure in its contemplation which, however exquisite, are not disinterested—the elements of personal exultation, of gratitude and self-congratulation, the pride of favour found, the delight of exclusive possession or acceptance, all these emotions, in short, which can be summed up in the lover’s triumphant monosyllable, "Mine." Only when those personal emotions are absent can the properly aesthetic emotions or pleasures of fine art find place. That in witnessing a dramatic performance, part of the spectator’s enjoyment consists in sympathetically identifying himself with the lover, may be true, but cannot affect the argument, since at the same time he is well aware that every other spectator present may be similarly engaged with himself.

Thus, from the lowest point of the scale to the highest, we may observe that the element of personal advantage of monopoly in human gratifications seems to exclude them from the kingdom of fine art. The pleasures of fine art seem to define themselves as pleasures of delighted contemplation, but of such contemplation only when it is dis-interested. Now, the negative part of our first definition was that the fine arts were art having nothing to do with the satisfaction of practical necessities or supply of practical utilities. So far as the necessity of anything implies its necessity to the sustenance or comfort of the individual apart form others, and so far as its utility implies its capacity of being used by one to the exclusion of others, our new observation, it is evident, does but confirm that first statement; repeating it as to a part of the ground which it covers, and drawing out a part of its consequences in the moral and social sphere.

Next, let us consider another generally accepted observation concerning the nature of the fine arts, and one, this time, relating to the disposition and state of mind of the artist himself. The observation we mean is this, that while for success in other arts it is only necessary to learn their rules, and to apply them until practice gives facility, in the fine arts rules and their application will carry but a little way towards success. All that can depend on rules, on knowledge, and on the application of knowledge by practice, the artist must indeed acquire, and the acquisition is often very complicated and laborious. But outside of and beyond such acquisition, he must trust to what is called genius or imagination, that is, to be spontaneous working together of an incalculably complex group of faculties, reminiscences, preferences, emotions, instincts, in his constitution. Now, if we consider this characteristic of the activities of the artist, we shall see that it is a direct consequence or corollary of the fundamental fact that the art he practises is independent of utility : thus. A useful end is necessarily a determinate and prescribed end. To every end which is determinate and prescribed there must be one road which is the best. Skill in any useful art means knowing practically, by rules and the application of rules, the best road to the particular ends of that art. Thus the farmer, the engineer, the carpenter, the builder so far as he is not concerned with the look of his buildings, the weaver so far as he is not concerned with the designing of the patterns which he weaves, these and the hundred other varieties of craftsmen or artificers in a community, possess each his separate skill to which fixed problems are set, and which, if it indulges in new inventions and combinations at all, can indulge them only for the sake of an improved solution of those particular problems and no others. The solution once found, the invention once made, its rules can be written down, or at any rate its practice can be imparted to others, who will apply it in their turn. Whereas no man can write down, in a way that others can act upon in their turn, how Betthoven conqured unknown kingdoms in the world of harmony, and established new laws by the inspired violation of old; or how Rembrandt turned the aspects of spiritual abjectness and physical gloom into pictures as worthy of contemplation as those into which the exaltation and shadowless day. The reason why the operations of the artist thus differ from the operations of the ordinary craftsman or artificer is that his ends, being ends other than useful, are not determinate nor fixed as there are. He has largely liberty to choose his own problems, and may solve each of them in a thousand different ways according to the prompting of his own ordering or creating instincts. The musical composer has the largest liberty of all. Having learned what is learnable in his art, having mastered the complicated and laborious rules of musical form, having next determined the particular class of the work which he is about to compose, he has then before him the whole inexhaustible world of appropriate successions and combinations of emotional sound. He is merely directed and not fettered, in the case of song, cantata, oratorio, or opera, by the sense of words which he has to set. The poverty or splendour of the result depends absolutely on his possessing or failing to possess powers which can neither be trained in, nor communicate to, any man. And this double freedom, alike from practical service and from the representation of definite objects, is what makes music in a certain sense the typical fine art, or art of arts. Architecture shares one half of this freedom. It has not imitate natural objects; for this service it calls in sculpture to its aid; but architecture is without the other half of freedom altogether. The architect has a sphere of liberty in the disposition of his masses, lines, colours, alternations of light and shadow, of plain and ornamented surface, and the rest; but upon this sphere he can only enter on condition that he at the same time fulfils the strict practical task of supplying the required accommodation, and obeys the strict mechanical necessities imposed by the laws of weight, thrust, support, resistance, and other properties of solid matter. In the imitative arts, the sculptor, the paint, the poet, has each in like manner his sphere of necessary facts, rules, and conditions corresponding to the nature of his task. The sculptor must be intimately versed in the facts of the human frame and rules and conditions for its representation in solid form; the painter in a much more extended range of natural facts and appearances, and the rules and conditions for representing them on a plane surface; the poet’s art of words has its own not inconsiderable basis of positive and disciplined acquisition. So far as rules, precepts, measurements, and other communicate laws or secrets can carry the artist, so far also the spectator can account for, analyse, and, so to speak, tabulate the effects of his art. But the essential character of the artist’s operation, its very bloom and virtue, lies in those parts of its which fall outside this range of regulation on the one hand and analysis on the other. His merit varies according to the felicity with which he is able, in the region, to exercise his face choise and frame his individual ideal, and according to the tenacity with which he strives to grasp and realize his choice, or to attain perfection according to that ideal. Of the amplitude of that freedom, of the complex and unsearchable secrets of that felicity, of the honourableness of that pursuit after perfection, men in general have expressed their consciousness when they have called these the fine or beautiful arts; thereby signifying not less their admiration of the nature of the operation than their pleasure in its results. Corresponding, then, to the fact, concerning the ends or purposes of the mechanical and the fine arts respectively, that those exist for use these independently of use—we get the further fact, concerning the respective modes of their pursuit, that the mechanical arts can be rightly practised by strict adherence to rule and precept, while the fine arts, though they have technical foundations which are matter of rule and precept too, can yet be rightly practised only by following, in a region outside the reach of rule and precept, the free prompting of some of the finest faculties of the spirit.

In an age when the power and province of mechanical art are daily expanding, it expanding, it is worth while in this connexion to inquire in what way such expansion affects the power and province of fine art. The great practical movement of the world in our age is a movement for the development of mechanical inventions and multiplication of mechanical products. So far as there inventions are applied to purposes purely useful, and so far as their products do not profess to offer anything delightful to contemplation, this movement in no way concern our argument. But there is a vast multitude of product which do profess qualities of pleasantness, and upon which the ornaments intended to make them pleasurable are bestowed by machinery, an in speaking of which we are accustomed to the phrases art-industry, industrial art, art manufactures, and the like. It concerns us to know what relation the fine arts really hold to these. The answer is, that the industry or ingenuity which directs the machine is not fine art at all, since the object of the machine is simply to multiply as easily and as possible a definite and prescribed impress or pattern. This is equally true whether the machine is a perfectly simple one, like the engraver’s press for producing and multiplying impressions from an engraved plate, or a highly complex, one, like the loom, in which elaborate patterns of carpet or curtain are set for weaving. In both cases there exists behind the mechanical industry an industry which is one of fine art in its degree. In the case of the engraver’s press, there exists behind the industry of the printer the art of the engraver, which, if the engraver is also the free inventor of the design, is then a fine art, or if he is but the interpreter of the invention of another, is then in its turn a semi-mechanical appliance in aid of the fine art of the first inventor. In the case of the weaver’s loom there is, behind the mechanical industry which directs the loom at its given task, the fine art, or what ought to be the fine art, of the designer who has contrived the pattern. In the case of the engraving, the mechanical industry of printing only exists for the sake of bringing out an disseminating abroad the fine art employed upon the design. In the case of the carpet or curtain, the fine art is only called in to make the product of the useful or mechanical industry of the loom acceptable, since the eye of man is so constituted as to receive pleasure or the reverse of pleasure from whatever it rest upon, and it is to the interest of the manufacturer to have his product so made as to give pleasure if it can. Whether the machine is thus a humble servant to the artist, or the artist a kind of humble purveyor to the machine, the fine art in the result is due to the former alone; and in any case it reaches the recipient at second-hand, having been put in circulation by a medium not artistic but mechanical. So far, then, as the adoption of mechanical agencies causes an increasing number of people to buy the same print, or decorate their apartments with the same hangings, or wear the same pattern, where before each community or section of a community used products according to its individual taste and tradition, so far such adoption tends to reduce the number of first-hand artistic inventions, or total quantity of fine art, in the world. There is no greater mistake than to supposed that the expansion of what are called art industries is necessarily tantamount to an increase or propagation of fine art; it is only tantamount to an increase or propagation of particular decorations mechanically multiplied; and is a thing desirable or not according as the decorations so multiplied replace something better or worse than themselves.

Again, with reference not to the application of mechanical contrivances but to their invention,—is not, it may be inquired, the title of artist due to the inventor of some of the astonishingly complex and astonishingly effect machines of modern times? Does he not spend as much thought, labour, genius, as any sculptor or musician in perfecting his construction according to his ideal, and is not the construction when it is done—so finished, so responsive in all its parts, so almost human—is not that worthy of the name of fine art? Nay, we must reply, for the inventor has a definite and practical end before him; his ideal is not free; he deserves all credit as the perfector of a particular instrument for a prescribed function, but an artist, a free follower of the fine arts, he is not. Lastly, let us consider one common observation more concerning the nature of the fine arts, though in effect it too does but affirm, in a somewhat new light, that negative definition on which we have dwelt so much already. The fine arts, it is said, and activities which men put forth, not because they need but because they like. They have the activity to spare, and to put it forth in this way pleases them. Fine art is to mankind what play is to the individual, a free and arbitrary vent for energy which is not needed to be spent upon tasks concerned with the conservation, perpetuation, or protection of life. To insist on the superfluous or optional character of the fine arts, to call them the play or pastime of the human race as distinguished from its inevitable and sterner tasks, is obviously only to reiterate our fundamental distinction between the fine arts and the useful or necessary. But the distinction, as expressed in this particular form, has been interpreted in a great variety of ways, and followed out to an infinity of conclusions, conclusions regarding both the nature of the activities themselves and the character and value of their result.

For instance, starting from this saying that aesthetic activities are a king of play, the English psychology of association goes back to the spontaneous cries and movements of children, in which their superfluous energies find a vent. It then enumerates pleasures of which the human constitution is capable apart from direct advantage or utility. Such are the primitice or organic pleasures of sight and hearing, and secondary or derivative pleasures of association or unconscious reminiscence and inference that soon become mixed up with these. Such are also the pleasures derived from following any kind of mimicry, or representation of things real or like reality. It describes the grouping within the min of predilections based upon these pleasures; it shows how the growing organism learns to govern its play, or direct its superfluous energies, in obedience to such predilections, till in mature individuals, and still more in mature societies, a highly regulated and accomplished group of leisure activities are habitually employed in supplying to a not less highly cultivated group of disinterested sensibilities their appropriate artistic pleasures.

Again, in the views of an ancient philosopher, Plato, and a modern poet, Schiller, the consideration that the artistic activities are in the nature of play, and the manifestations in which they result independent of realities and utilities, has led to judgement so differing as the following.

Plato held that the daily realities of things in experience are not realities indeed, but only far-off shows or reflections of the true realities, that is, of certain ideal or essential forms which can be apprehended as existing by the mind. Holding this, Plato saw in the works of fine art but the reflections of reflections, the shows of show, and depreciated them according to their degree of remoteness from the ideal, typical, or sense-transcending existences. He sets the arts of medicine, agriculture, shoemaking, and the rest, above the fine art, inasmuch as they produce something serious or useful (______). Fine art, he says, produces nothing useful, and makes only semblances (______), whereas what mechanical art produces are utilities, and even in the ordinary sense realities (_____).

In another age, and thinking according to another system, Schiller, so far from holding thus cheap the kingdom of play and show, regarded his sovereignty over that kingdom as the noblest prerogative of man. Schiller wrote his famous Letters on the Aesthetica Education of Man in order to throw into popular currency, and at the same time to modify and follow up in a particular direction, certain systematic doctrines which had lately been launched upon the schools by Kant. The spirit of man, said Schiller after Kant, is placed between two worlds, the physical world or world of sense, and the moral world of will, Both of these are worlds of constraint or necessity. In the sensible world, the sprit of man submits to constraint from without; in the moral world, it imposes constraint from within. So far as man yields to the importunities of sense, in so far he is bound and passive, the mere subject of outward shocks and victim of irrational forces. So far as he asserts himself by the exercise of will, imposing upon sense and outward things the dominion of the moral law within him, in so far he is free and active, the rational lord of nature and not her slave. Corresponding to these two worlds, he has within him two conflicting impulses or impulsions of his nature, the one driving him towards one way of living, the other toward another. The one, or sense-impulsion, Schiller thinks of as that which enslaves the spirit of man as the victim of matter, the other or moral impulsion as that which enthrones it as the dictator of form. Between the two the conflict at first seems inveterate. The kingdom of brute nature and sense, the sphere of man’s subjection and passivity, wages war against the kingdom will and moral law, the sphere of his activity and control, and every conquest of the one is an encroachment upon the other. One of the two, it seems, must win. The man it seems must either be slave or master; he must either obey the impulsion of matter, and let sense and outward shocks lay upon him the constraint of nature, or he must obey the impulsion of form, and must control and subjugate sense under the constraint of moral reason and the will. It there, then, no hope of truce between the two kingdoms, no ground where the two contending impulses can be reconciled? Must a man either abandon law and give way to sense absolutely, or else absolutely set up law an put down sense? Nay, the answer comes, there is such a hope; such a neutral territory there exists. Between the passive kingdom of matter and sense, where man is compelled to blindly feel and be, and the active kingdom of law and reason, where he is compelled sternly to will and act, there is a kingdom where both sense and will may have their way, and where man may give the rein to all his powers. But this middle kingdom does not lie in the sphere of practical life and conduct. In practical life and conduct you cannot yield to both impulsions at once; let yourself go, in that sphere, to the allurements of sense, and you cast off law; maintain law, and you mortify sense. It is in the sphere of those activities which neither subserve any necessity of nature, nor fulfil any moral duty, that the middle kingdom lies where sense and reason can be reconciled. Towards activities of this kind we are driven by a third impulsion of our nature not less essential to it than the other two, the impulsion, as Schiller calls it, of Play. Relatively to real life and conduct, play is a kind of harmless show; it is that which we are free to do or leave undone as we please, and which lies alike outside the sphere of need and duties. In play we may do as we like, and no mischief will come of it. In this sphere man may put forth all his powers without risk of conflict, and may invent activities which will give a complete ideal satisfaction to the contending faculties of sense and will at once, to impulses which bid him feel and enjoy the shocks of physical and outward things, and the impulse which bids him master such things, control, and regulate them. In play you may impose upon Matter what Form you choose, and the two will not interfere with one another or clash. The kingdom of matter and the kingdom of Form thus harmonized, thus reconciled by the activities of play and show, will in other words be the kingdom of the Beautiful. Follow the impulsion of play, and to the beautiful you will find your road; the activities you will find yourself putting forth will be the activities of aesthetic creation—you will have discovered our invented the fine arts. "Midway," these are Schiller’s own words, "midway between the formidable kingdom of natural forces and the hallowed kingdom of moral laws, the impulse of aesthetic creation builds up a third kingdom unperceived, the gladsome kingdom of play and show, wherein it emancipates man from all compulsion alike of physical and of moral forces." Schiller, the poet and enthusiast, thus making his won application of the Kantian metaphysics, goes on to set forth how the fine arts, or activities of play and show, are for him the typical, the ideal activities of the race, in them alone is it possible for man to put forth his whole, that is his ideal self. "Only when he plays is man really and truly man." "Man ought only to play with the beautiful, and he ought to play with the beautiful only." "Education in taste an beauty has for its object to train up in the utmost attainable harmony the whole sum of the powers both of sense and spirit." And the rest of Schille’s argument is addressed to show how the activities of artistic creation, once invented, quickly react upon other departments of human life, how the exercise of the play impulse prepares men for an existence in which the inevitable collision of the two other impulses shall be softened or averted more and more. That harmony of the powers which clash so violently in man’s primitive nature, having first been found possible in the sphere of the fine arts, reflects itself, in his judgement, upon the whole composition of man, and attunes him, as an aesthetic being, into new capabilities for the conduct of his social existence.

Our reasons for dwelling on this wide and enthusiastic formula of Schiller’s are both its importance in the history of reflection—it produced, indeed, so great an impression that it may still be called a formula almost classical—and its positive value. The notion of a sphere of voluntary activity for the human spirit, in which, under no compulsion of necessity or conscience, we order matter as we like them apart from any practical end, seems at least co-extensive with the widest conception of fine art and the fine arts. It insists on and brings into the light the essential point of the free, or as we have called it, the optional character of these activities, as distinguished from others to which we are compelled by necessity or duty. It also insists on and brings into the light what is no less essential, the fact that these activities, superfluous as they are from the points of view of necessity and of duty, spring nevertheless from an imperious and a saving instinct of our nature. It does justice to the part which is, or at any rate may be, filled in the world by pleasures which are apart from profit, and by delights for the enjoyment of which men cannot quarrel. It claims the dignity they deserve for those shows and pastimes in which we have found a way to make permanent all the transitory delights of life and nature, to turn our very tears and yearnings, by their artistic utterance, into sources of appeasing joy, to make amends to ourselves for the confusion and imperfection of reality by conceiving and imaging forth the semblances of things clearer and more complete, since in contriving them we incorporate with the experiences we have had the better experiences we have dreamed of and longed for.

Schiller’s theory may thus be no explanation of the essential nature and place in the universe of these activities and their result; it will certainly be none for those to whom the Kantian doctrine of metaphysical opposition between the senses and the reason has to meaning. Neither can his particular application of that doctrine with its terminology of Stoffrieb, Formtrieb, and Spieltrieb, the three impulses, or impulsions, of Matter, Form, and Play, be considered altogether happy. Nevertheless the theory furnishes us with a suggestive approach to a working definition, and has remained a fruitful one for many minds independently of the metaphysical doctrines upon which it was based. Its great fault is that, though it asserts that man ought only to play with the beautiful, and that he is his best or ideal self only when he does so, yet it does not sufficiently determine what kinds of play are beautiful nor why we are moved to adopt them. It does not sufficiently show how the delights of the eye and spirit in contemplating forms, colours, and movements, of the ear and spirit in apprehending musical and verbal sounds, or of the whole mind at once in following the comprehensive current of images called up by poetry—it does not sufficiently show how delights like these differ from those yielded by other kinds of play or pastime, and between them make up the whole kingdom of artistic pleasures.

The chase, for instance, is a play or pastime which gives scope for any amount of premeditated skill; it has pleasures, for those who take part in it, which are in some degree analogous to the pleasures of the artist; and we all know the claims made on behalf of the noble art of venerie by the knights and woodmen of Walter Scott’s romances. But the here were must remember that, though the chase is play to us, who in civilized communities follow in on no plea of necessity, yet to a not remote ancestry it was earnest; in primitive societies hunting does not belong to the class of optional activities at all, but is among the most pressing of utilitarian needs. And this character of its origin and history might exclude it from the class of fine arts, even if there were not the further fact that the pleasures of the sportsman are the pleasures arising from the chase; his exertions afford pain to the victim, and no satisfaction to any class of recipients but himself; or at least the pleasures of the bystanders at a meet or a battue are hardly to be counted as pleasures of contemplation. Again it may be said that such a theory does not sufficiently exclude from among the fine arts the class of athletic games or sports, not connected with the chase, though these do afford pleasure to multitudes, and most communities, especially our own, are accustomed to devote to them much trained skill and a large portion of their leisure activity. Here the difference is, that the event which excites the spectator’s interest and pleasure at a race or athletic contest is not a wholly unreal or simulated event; true, it is less real than life, but it is more real than art. The contest has not, indeed, any momentous practical consequences, but it is a contest in which competitors put forth real strength, and one really wins, and others are defeated. Such a contest, in which the exertions are zeal and the uncertain, we follow with an excitement and an expectancy which are different in kind from the feelings with which we contemplate nay fictitious representation of which the issues are arranged beforehand. For example, let the reader recall the feeling with which he has watches a real fencing bout, and compare them with those with which he watches the simulate fencing bout in Hamlet. The instance is a crucial one, because the simulated contest is made infinitely more exciting than such contests in general by the introduction of the poisoned foil, and by the tremendous consequences which we are aware will turn, in the representation, on the issue. Yet because the fencing scene in Hamlet is a representation, and not real, we find ourselves watching it in a mood wholly different from that in which we watch the most ordinary real fencing-match with vizors and blunt foils; a mood much more exalted, if the representation is good, but amid the aesthetic emotions of which those other fluctuations of direct, even if trivial, excitement, of participation, approval, disappointment, suspense, eagerness, find no place. Again, of athletic in general, they are pursuits to a considerable degree definitely utilitarian, having for their specific end the training and strengthening of the human body. Here, however, our argument touches ground which is not free from debate; inasmuch as in some systems the title of fine arts has been consistently claimed, if not for athletics technically so-called, and involving the idea of competition and defeat, at any rate for gymnastics, regarded simply as a display of the physical frame of man cultivated by exercise—as, for instance, it was cultivated by the ancient Greeks—to an ideal perfection of beauty and strength.

Divesting the view of Schiller, then, of the Kantian metaphysic, and adding to it those provisions on which, in the course of our argument, we have seen the necessity of laying stress, we might put the matter thus. There are some things which we do because we must; those are our necessities. There are other things which we do because we ought; those are our duties. There are other things which we do because we like; those are our play. Among the various kinds of things done by men only because they like, the fine arts are those of which the results affords to many permanent and disinterested delight, and of which the performance, calling for premeditated skill, is capable of regulation up to a certain point, but, that point passed, has secrets beyond the reach and a freedom beyond the restraint of rules. We believe that this definition or description, avnoiding barren controversy concerning the nature of beauty, will be found both to state the limits of the group of undisputed fine arts, and to enunciate some of its chief characteristics.


Architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry are by common consent the five principal or greater fine arts.

It is possible in thought to group these five arts in as many different orders as there are among them different kinds of relation or affinity. One thinker fixes his attention upon one kind or relations as the most important, and arranges his group accordingly; another upon anther; and each, when he has done so, is very prone to claim for his arrangement the virtue of being the sold essentially and fundamentally true. For example, we may ascertain one kind of relations between the arts by inquiring which is the simplest or most limited in its effects, which next simplest, which less simple still, which least simple or most complex of them all. This, the relation of progressive complexity or complexity or comprehensiveness between the fine arts, is the relation upon which an influential thinker of recent times, Auguste Comte, has fixed his attention, and it yields in his judgement the following order :—Architecture lowest in complexity, because both of the kinds of effects which it produces, and material conditions and limitations under which it works; sculpture next; painting third; then music; and poetry highest, as the most complex or comprehensive art of all, both in its own special effects and in its resources for ideally calling up the effects of all the other arts, as well as all the phenomena of nature and experiences of life. A somewhat similar grouping was adopted, though from the consideration of a wholly different set of relations, by Hegel. Hegel fixed his attention on the varying relations borne by the idea, or spiritual elements, to the embodiment of he idea, or material element, in each art. Leaving aside that part of his doctrine which concerns, not the phenomena of the arts themselves, but their place in the dialectical world-plan, or scheme of the universe—Hegel said in effect something like this. In certain ages and among certain races, as in Egypt and Assyria, and again in the Gothic age of Europe, mankind has only dim ideas for art to express, ideas insufficiently disengaged and realized, of which the expression cannot be complete or lucid, but only adumbrated and imperfect; the characteristic art of those ages is a symbolic art, with its material element predominating over and keeping down its spiritual, and such a symbolic art is architecture. In other ages, as in the Greek age, the ideas of men have com to be definite, disengaged, and clear; the characteristic art of such an age will be one in which the spiritual and material elements are in equilibrium, and neither predominates over or keeps down the other, but a perfectly distinct idea is expressed in a perfectly adequate form; this is the mode of expression called classic, and the classic art is sculpture. In other ages, again, and such are the modern ages of Europe, the idea grows material elements are no longer in equilibrium, but the spiritual element predominates; the characteristic arts of such an age will be those in which thought, passion, sentiment, aspiration, emotion, emerge in freedom, dealing with material form as masters, or declining its shackles altogether; this is the romantic mode of expression, and the romantic arts are painting, music, and poetry. Next let us take another point of view, and turn our attention, with one of the acutest of recent critics of aesthetic systems, Dr Hermann Lotze, to the relative degrees of freedom or independence which the several arts enjoy—their freedom, that is, from the necessity of either imitating given facts of nature or ministering, as part of their task, to given practical uses. In this grouping, instead of the order architecture, sculpture, painting, music, poetry—music will come first, because it has neither to imitate any natural facts nor to serve any practical end; architecture next, because though it is tied to useful ends and material conditions, yet it is free from the task of imitation, and phases the eyes in its degree, by pure form, light and shade, and the rest, as music pleases the ear by pure sound; then, as arts all tied to the task of imitation, sculpture, painting, and poetry, taken in progressive order according to the progressing comprehensiveness of their several resources.

Again, besides the enumeration of the five greater fine arts, which is fixed, and their classification, which is thus unfixed and variable, the thinker on these subjects has to consider the enumeration and classification of the lesser or subordinate fine arts. Whole clusters or families of these occur to the mind at once; such as acting, an art auxiliary to poetry, but quite different in kind; dancing, an art not auxiliary but subordinate to music, from which in kind it differs no less; eloquence in all kinds, so far as it is studied and not merely spontaneous; and among the arts which fashion or dispose material objects, embroidery and the weaving of patterns, pottery, glassmaking, goldsmith’s work and jewellery, joiner’s work, gardening, according to the claim of some, and a score of other dexterities and industries which are more than mere dexterities and industries because they add elements of beauty and pleasure to elements of serviceableness and use. To decide whether any given one of these has a right to the title of fine art, and if so, to which of the greater fine arts it should be thought of as appended and subordinate, or between which two of them intermediate, is often no easy task.

The weak point of all classifications of the kind of which we have given examples is that each is intended to be final, and to serve instead of any other. The truth is, the relations between the several fine arts are much too complex for any single classification to bear this character. Every classification of the fine arts must necessarily be provisional, according to the particular class of relations which it keeps in view. And for practical purposes it is requisite to bear in mind not on classification but several. Fixing our attention not upon complicated or problematical relations between the various arts, but only upon their simple and undisputed relations, and giving the first place in our consideration to the five greater arts of architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and poetry, we shall find at three principal modes in which every fine art either resembles or differs from the rest.

1. The Shaping and the Speaking Arts.—Each art either makes something, or does not make anything, that can be seen and handled. The arts which make something that can be seen and handled are architecture, sculpture, and painting. In the products or results of all these arts external matter is in some way or anther manually put together, fashioned, or disposed. But music and poetry do not produce any results of this kind. What music produces is something that can be heard, and what poetry produces, is something that can be either heard or read—which last is a kind of ideal hearing, having for its avenue the eye instead of the ear, and for its material, written sign for words instead of the spoken words themselves. Now what the eyes sees from any one point of view, it sees all at once; in other words, the parts of anything we see fill or occupy not time but space, and reach us from various points in space at a single simultaneous perception. If we art at the proper distance we see at one glance the whole height and breadth of a house from the ground to the chimneys, the whole of a statue from head to foot, and in a picture at once the foreground and background, and everything that is within the four corners of the frame. On the other hand, the parts of anything we hear, or, reading, can imagine that we hear, fill or occupy not space but time, and reach us from various points in time through a continuous series of perception, or, in the case of reading, of images raised by words in the mid. We have to wait, in music, while one note follows another in a bar, and one bar another in movement; and in poetry, while one note follows another in a bar, and one bar another in an air, and one air another in a movement; and in poetry, while one line with its images follows another in a stanza, and one stanza another in a canto, and so on. It is a convenient form of expressing both aspects of this difference between the two groups of arts, to say that architecture, sculpture, and arts which give shape to things in space, or more briefly, shaping arts; and music and poetry arts which give utterance to things in time, or more briefly, speaking arts. These simple terms of the shaping and the speaking arts are not usual in English; but they seem appropriate and clear, and we shall adopt them for denoting the distinction we are now considering between the group that work in space, architecture, sculpture, and painting, and the group that work in time, music ant poetry. (The distinction is best expressed in the German bildende and redende Künste; for which the words manual and vocal, or else formative, or plastic, an rhetorical, are some times used, not too happily, in English.) This is practically, if not logically, the most substantial and vital distinction upon which a classification of the fine arts can be based. The arts which surround us in space with stationary effects for the eye, as the house we live in, the picture on the walls, the marble figure in the vestibule, are stationary, hold a different kind of place in our experience—not a greater or a higher place, but essentially a different place—from the arts which provide us with transitory effects in time, effects capable of being awakened for the ear or mind at any moment, as a symphony is awakened by playing and an ode by reading, but lying in abeyance until we bid that moment come, and passing away when the performance or the reading is over. Such, indeed, is the practical force of the distinction that in modern usage the expression fine art, or even art, is often used by itself in a sense which tacitly excludes music and poetry, and signifies the group of manual or shaping arts alone.

As between any two of the five greater arts, the distinction on which we are now dwelling is sharp and absolute. Buildings, statues, pictures, belong absolutely to sight and space; to time and to hearing, real through the ear, or ideal through the mind in reading, belong absolutely music and poetry. Among the lesser or subordinate arts, however, there are several in which this distinction finds no place, and which produce, in space and time ate once, effects midway between the stationary or stable, and the transitory or fleeting. Such, first of all, is the dramatic art, in which the actor makes with his actions and gestures, or several actors make with the combination of their different actions and gestures, a kind of shifting picture, which appeals to the eyes of the witnesses while the sung or spoken words of the drama appeal to their ears; thus making of them spectators and auditors at once, and associating with the pure-art of words the mixed time-and-space art of bodily movements. As all movement whatsoever is necessarily movement through space, and takes time to happen, so every other fine art which is wholly or in part an art of movement partakes in like manner of this double character. Along with acting thus comes dancing. Dancing, when it is of the mimic character, may itself be a kind of acting, and is, whether apart from or in conjunction with this mimic element, at any rate any art in which bodily movements obey, accompany, and as it were accentuate in space the time effects of music. Eloquence or oratory in like manner, so far as its power depends on studied and premeditated gesture, is also an art which to some extent enforces its primary appeal through the ear in time by a secondary appeal through the eye in space. So much for the first distinction, that between the shaping or space-arts and the speaking or time-arts, with the intermediate and subordinate class of arts which, like acting, dancing, oratory, add to the pure time elements element a mixed time-and-space element. These can hardly called shaping arts, because it is his own person, and not anything outside himself, which the actor, the dancer, the orator dispose or adjusts; they may perhaps best be called arts of motion, or moving arts. We must postpone further description of the functions of the several fine arts until we have taken account of the second great principle of classification among them, which is as follows :—

2. The Imitative and the Non-imitative Arts.—Each art either represents or imitates something, or does not represent or imitate anything, which exists already in nature. Of the five greater fine arts, those which thus represent objects existing in nature, are sculpture, painting, and poetry. Those which do not represent anything so existing are music and architecture. So that on this principle we get a different grouping from that which we got on the principle last explained. Two space-arts and one time art now form the imitative of sculpture, painting, and poetry; while one space-art and one time-art form the non-imitative group of music an architecture. The mixed space-and-time arts of the actor, and the dancer so far as he or she is also a mimic, belong of course, by their very name and nature, to the imitative class.

It was this imitative character of the arts which chiefly occupied the attention of Aristotle. But Aristotle had not realized that there existed, along with the great group of imitative, arts, another group strictly non-imitative. In his mind the idea of imitation or representation (mimêsis) was extended so as to denote the expressing, uttering, or making manifest of anything whatever. Music and dancing, by which utterance or expression is given to emotions that may be quite detached from all definite ideas or images are thus for him varieties of imitation. He says, indeed, most music and dancing, as if he was aware that there were exceptions, but he does not indicate what the exceptions are; and under the head of imitative music, he distinctly reckons some kinds of instrumental music without words. But in our own more precise usage, to imitate is necessarily to imitate some individual things, some definite reality of experience; and we can only call those imitative arts which tell us of such things, either by showing us their actual likeness, as sculpture does in form, and as painting does by means of lines and colours on a plane surface, or else by calling up ideas or images of them in the mind, as poetry and literature do by means of words. It is by a stretch of ordinary usage that we apply the word imitation even to this last way of representing things; since words are no true likeness of, but only arbitrary signs for, the thing they represent. And those arts we cannot call imitative at all which by indefinite utterance or expression produce in us emotions unattended by the recognizable likeness, idea, or image, of anything.

Now the emotions of music, when music goes along with words, whether in the shape or actual song, or even of the instrumental accompaniment of song, are no doubt in a certain sense attended with definite ideas. But the ideas then in question are the ideas expressed by the words themselves; and the same ideas would be conveyed to the mind equally well by the same words if they were not sung or accompanied, but simply spoken. What the music contributes is a special elements of its own, an element of pure emotion which heightens the effect of the words upon the feelings, without in the least helping to elucidate them for the understanding. Nay, it is well known that a song produces its intended effect upon the feelings almost as well though we fail to catch the words or are ignorant of the language to which they belong. Thus the view of Aristotle cannot be defended on the ground that he was familiar with music only in an elementary form, and principally as the direct accompaniment of words, and that in this day the modern development of the art, as an art for building up immense construction of independent sound, glorious and intricate fabrics of melody and harmony detached from words, was a thing neither imagined nor imaginable. That is perfectly true; but the essential character of musical sound is the same in its most elementary as in its most complicated stage. Its privilege is to give delight, not by communicating definite ideas, or calling up particular images, but by expressing on the one part, and arousing on the other, a unique kind of emotion. The emotion caused by music may be altogether independent of any ideas conveyable by words. Or it may serve to intensity and enforce other emotions arising at the same time in connexion with the ideas conveyed by words; and a distinguished composer and energetic musical reformer of our own day insists that in the former phase the art is now exhausted, and that only in the latter are new conquests in store for it. But in either case the music is the music, and is like nothing else; it is no reprsentation or similitude of anything whatsover.

But does not instrumental music really, it may be urged, sometimes imitate the sounds of nature, as the piping of birds, the whispering of woods, the moaning of storms, or very explosion of the thunder; or does it not at any rate suggest these things by resemblances so close that they almost amount to imitation? Occasionally, it is true, music does allow itself these playful excursions into a region of quisi-imitation or mimicry. It modifies the character of its abstract sounds into something, so to speak, more concrete, and, instead of sensations which are like nothing else, affords us sensations which recognizably resemble those we receive from some of the sounds of nature. But such excursions are hazardous, and to make them often is the surest proof of vulgarity in a musician. Neither are those effects of the great composers in accompanying the verbal descriptions of natural phenomena, which we recognize as appropriate to the phenomena described, generally in the nature of real imitations or representations of them. The notes of the dove and nightingale in Haydn’s Creation must be acknowledge to be instances of true though highly idealized imitation; but in such other instances of direct, obvious, and suggestive appropriateness of the music tot the words as even the "Hailstone" chorus and the "Darkness" chorus of the Israel in Egypt, the music in no true sense imitates the phenomena, or shows us how fire mingled with the hail ran along upon the ground, or how there came over all the land of Egypt thick darkness—even darkness which might be felt. Again, it is an acknowledged fact concerning the operation of instrumental music on its hearers, that all hearers will find themselves in tolerable agreement as to the meaning of any passage so long as they only attempt to describe it in terms of vague emotion, and to say, such and such a passage expresses, as the case may be, dejection or triumph, effort or the relaxation of effort, eagerness or languor, suspense or fruition, anguish or glee. But there agreement comes to an end the moment they begin to associate, in their interpretation, definite ideas with these vague emotions; then we find that what suggests in idea to one hearer the vicissitudes of war will suggest to another, or to the same at another time, the vicissitudes of love, to another those of spiritual yeaning and aspiration, to another, it may be, those of changeful travel by forest, champaign, and ocean, to another those of life’s practical struggle and ambition. The infinite variety of the ideas which may thus be called up in different minds by the same strain of music is proof enough that music is not like any particular thing. The torrent of entrancing emotion which it pours along the heart, emotion latent and undivined until the spell of sound begins, that is music’s achievement and its secret; the ideas which may spring up in attendance on the emotion are o more than as the rainbow colours which come and go in the torrent spray.

It is perhaps hardly necessary to add, that the latest physiological explanation of the source of music’s power within us in no way shakes or interferes with this fundamental character of the art. According to that explanation, the charm of musical sounds depends on susceptibilities which have gone on accumulating in the fibres of the human constitution, by hereditary transmission through uncounted generations, ever since our brute progenitors found favour with their mates by wooing them (as other brutes are known to woo theirs now) with love-cries which in their regulated time and pitch contained the rudimentary elements of music. If this explanation is true, that does not of course mean that the musical utterance of to-day is any copy or imitation of those aboriginal love-cries;only that it is an infinitely complex and remote development of faculties which had in them their earliest exercise.

Aristotle endeavoured to frame a classification of the arts, in their several applications and developments, on two grounds—the nature of the objects imitated by each, and the means or instruments employed in the imitation. But in the case of music the first part of this endeavour falls to the ground, because the object imitated has, in truth, no existence. The means employed by music are successions and combinations of vocal or instrumental sounds regulated according to the three conditions of time or interval, tone or pitch (which together make up melody), and harmony, or the relations of different strains of time and tone cooperant but not parallel. With these means, music either creates her independent contructions, or else accompanies, adorns, enforces, the imitative art of speech—but herself imitates not; and may be defined simply as a speaking art, of which the business is to utter and arouse emotion by successions and combinations of regulated sound.

That which music is thus among the speaking or time-arts, architecture is among the shaping or space-arts. As music appeals to our faculties for taking pleasure in non-imitative combinations of transitory sound, so architecture appeals to our faculties for taking pleasure in non-imitative combinations of stationary mass. Corresponding to the system of ear-effects or combinations of time, tone, and harmony with which music works, architecture works with a system of eye-effects or combinations of line, light and shade, colour, proportion, interval, alteration of plane and decorated parts, regularity and variety in regularity, apparent stability, vastness, appropriateness, and the rest. Such pleasures of the eye and ear, depending on abstract relations of sounds in time and sights in space, and not all on concrete imitation, are one half of those disinterested pleasures of which we are capable, and which the play-impulse within us finds out an turns to account. Only, the materials of architecture are not volatile and intangible like sound, but solid brick, stone, metal, and mortar, and the laws of weight and force according to which these materials have to be combined are much more severe and cramping than the laws of melody and harmony which regulate the combinations of music. The architect is further subject up to a certain point, which the musician is not, to the dictates and precise prescriptions of utility. Hence the effect of architecture are necessarily less full of various, rapturous, and unforeseen enchantment than the effects of music. Yet for those who posses sensibility (which many persons without knowing it completely lack) to the pleasures o the eyed and the perfections of shaping art, the architecture of the great ages has yielded combinations which, so far as comparison is permissible between things unlike in their materials, fall no whit, short of the achievements of music in those kinds of excellence which are common to them both. Thus in virtues of lucidity, of just proportion and organic inter-dependence of the several parts or members, in exquisite subtlety of their mutual relations, and of the transitions from one part or member to another, in consummate purity and consummate of finish of individual forms, in the character of one thing growing naturally out of another and everything serving to complete the whole—in all these qualities, no musical combination can surpass a typical Doric temple such as the Hecatompedon at Athens. None, again, can surpass the great cathedrals of the Middle Age in the qualities of sublimity, of complexity, in the power both of expressing and suggesting spiritual aspiration, in the invention of intricate developments and ramifications about a central plan, in the union of greatness and majesty in the main conception with inexhaustible fertility of adornment in detail. In fancifulness, in the unexpected, in capricious opulence and far-sought splendour, in filling the mind with mingled enchantments of East and West and South and North, name can surpass a building like St Mark’s at Venice, with its blending of Byzantine elements, Italian elements, Gothic elements, each carried to the utmost pitch of elaboration and each enriched with a hundred caprices of ornament, but all working together, all in obedience to a law, and "all beginning and ending with the Cross." It would be tempting to carry further, and into more particular application, the parallel between the space-effects of architecture and the time-effects of music. But we must be content with having indicated it here. It is no fanciful similitude, but constitutes, so to speak, the positive aspect of that affinity between music and architecture, of which we bring forward the negative aspect only when we separate these two arts, as being non-imitative, from the imitative arts of sculpture, painting, and poetry.

In the case of architecture, however, as in the case of music, this non-imitative character must not be stated quite without exception or reserve. There have been styles of architecture in which forms suggesting or imitating natural or other phenomena have held a place among the abstract forms proper to the art. Often the mode of such suggestions is the rather symbolical to the mind than really imitative to the eye; as when the number and relations of the heavenly planets were imaged in the seven concentric walls of their great temple, and in many other architectural constructions, by that race of astronomers the Babylonians; or as when the shape of the cross was adopted, with innumerable slight varieties and modifications, for the ground plan of the churches of Christendom. Passing to examples of imitation more properly so-called, it may be true, and was at any rate long believed, that the aisles of Gothic churches had reference to or were inspired by the aspect of the natural forest aisles amid which they rose, and that the upsoaring forest trunks and meeting branches were imaged in their piers and vaultings. In the temple-palaces of Egypt, one of the regular architectural members, the sustaining pier, is often systematically wrought in the actual likeness of a conventionalized cluster of lotus stems, with lotus flowers for the capitals. When we come to the fashion, not rare in Greek architecture, of carving this same sustaining members, the column, in complete human likeness, and employing Caryatids, Canephori, Atlases, or the like, to carry the architrave of a building, it then becomes difficult to say whether we have to do with the work of architecture or of sculpture. The case, at any rate, is different from that in which the sculptor is called in to supply surface decorative to the various members of a building, or to fill with the products of his own art spaces in the building specially contrived and left for that purpose. When the imitative feature is in itself an indispensable member of the architectural construction, to architecture rather than sculpture (not that such niceties of appropriation are important) we shall probably do best to assign to it. Defining architecture, the (apart form its utility, which for the present we leave out of consideration), as a shaping art, of which the function is to arouse emotion by combination of ordered and decorated mass, we pass from the characteristics of the non-imitative to those of the imitative group of arts.

The second half of the disinterested pleasures of which we are capable, an which the play impulse finds and turns to accounts in us, are the pleasures afforded by imitation, that is by the showing of shows or the telling of stories which bring before us things like what we know in reality. In the consideration of the arts which minister to these pleasures, we cannot do better than follow that Aristotelian division to which we have already alluded, and which describes each art according, first, to the objects it imitates, and secondly, to the means or instruments it employs.

Sculpture, then, may have for its objects of imitation the shapes of whatever things possess length, breadth, and magnitude. For its means or instruments it has solid form, which the sculptor either carves out of hard substance, as in the case of wood and stone, or models in a yielding as in the case of wood and stone, or models in a yielding substance, as in the case of clay and wax, or casts in a dissolved or molten substance, as in the case of plaster and of metal in certain uses, or beats, draws, or chases in a malleable and ductile substance, as in the case of metal in other uses, or stamps from dies, or moulds, a method sometimes used in all soft or fusible materials. Thus a statue or statuette may either be carved straight out of a block of stone or wood, or first modelled in clay or wax, then moulded in plaster or some equivalent material, and then carved in stone or cast in bronze. A gem is wrought in stone by cutting and grinding. Figure in jeweller’s work are wrought by beating and chasing; a medallion by beating and chasing or else by stamping from a die; a coin by stamping from a die; and so forth. The process of modelling (Greek ______) in a soft substance being regarded as the typical process of the sculptor, the name plastic art has been given to his operations in general.

In general terms, the task of sculpture is to imitate solid forms with solid form, But sculptured form may be either completely or incompletely solid. Sculpture in completely solid form exactly reproduces, whether on the original or on a different scale, the relations or proportions of the object imitated in the three dimensions of length, breadth, and depth or thickness. Sculpture in incompletely solid form reproduces the proportions of the objects with exactness only so far as concerns two of its dimensions, namely those of length and breadth; while the third dimension, that of depth or thickness, it reproduces in a diminished proportion, leaving it to the eye to infer, from the partial degree of projection given to the work, the full projection of the object imitated. The former, or completely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in the round; its works stand free, and can be walked round and seen its works stand free, and can be walked round and seen from all points. The latter, or incompletely solid kind of sculpture, is called sculpture in relief; its works do not stand free, but are engaged in our attached to a background, and can only be seen from in front. According, in the latter kind of sculptors, to its degree of projection form the background, a work is said to be in high or in low relief. Sculpture in the round and sculpture in relief are alike in this, that the properties of objects which they imitate are their outlines, or the boundaries and circumscriptions of their masses, and their, light and shade—the lights and shadows, that is, which diversity the curved surfaces of the masses in consequence of their alternations and gradations of projection and recession. But the two kinds of sculpture differ in this. A work of sculpture in the round imitates the whole of the outlines of any given object, and presents to the eye, as the object itself would do, a new outline succeeding the last every moment as you walk round it. Whereas a work of sculpture in relief imitates only one outline of any object; it takes, so to speak, a section of the object as seen from a particular point, and traces on the background the boundary-line of that particular section; merely suggesting, by modelling the surface within such boundary according to a regular, but a diminished, ratio of projection, the other outlines which the object would present if seen from all sides successively.

As sculpture in the round reproduces the real relations of a solid object in space, it follows that the only kind of object which it can reproduce with pleasurable effect must be one not too vast or complicated, one that can afford to be detached and isolated from its surroundings, and of which all the parts can easily be perceived and apprehended in their organic relations. Further, it will need to be an object interesting enough to mankind in general to make them take delight in seeing it reproduced with all its parts in complete imitation. And again, it must be such that some considerable part of the interest lies in those particular properties of outline and light and shade it is the special function of sculpture to reproduce. Thus a sculptured representation in the round, say, of a mountain with cities, on it, would hardly be a sculpture at all; it could only be a model, and as a model might have value; but value as a work of fine art it could not have, because the object imitated would lack organic definiteness and completeness; it would lack universality of interest, and of the interest which it did posses, a very inconsiderable part indeed would depend upon its properties of outline and light and shade. Obviously there is no kind of object in the world that so well unites the required conditions for pleasurable imitation in sculpture as the human body. It is at one the most complete of organisms, and the shape of all other the most subtle as well as the most intelligible in its outlines; the most habitually detached in active of stationary freedom; the most interesting to mankind, because its own; the richest in those particular effects, contours and modulations, contrasts, harmonies, and transitions of modelled surface and circumscribing line, which it is the prerogative of sculpture to imitate. Accordingly the object of imitation for this art is pre-eminently the body of man of woman. That it has not been for the sake of representing men and women as such, but for the sake of representing gods in the likeness of men and women, that the human form has been most enthusiastically studied, does not affect this fact in the theory of the art, though it is a consideration of great importance in its history. Besides the human form, sculpture may imitate the forms of those of the lower animals whose physical endowments have something of kindred perfection, with other natural or artificial objects as may be needed merely by way of accessory or symbol. The body must for the purposes of this art be divested of covering, or only with such tissues as reveal, translate, or play about without concealing it. Only in lands and ages where climate and social use have given the sculptor the opportunity of studying human forms so draped or undraped has this art attained perfection, or become exemplary and enviable to that of other races.

Relief sculpture is more closely connected with architecture than the other kind, and indeed is commonly used in subordination to it. But if its task is thus somewhat different from that of sculpture in the round, its principal objects of imitation are the same. The human body remains the principal theme of the sculptor in relief; but the nature of his art allows, and sometimes compels, him to include other objects in the range of his imitation. As he has not to represent the real depth or projection of things, but only to suggest them according to a ratio which he may fix himself, so he can introduce into the third or depth dimension, thus arbitrarily reduced, a multitude of objects for which the sculptor in the round, having to observe the real ratio of the three dimensions, has no room. He can place one figure in slightly raised outline emerging from behind the more fully raised outline of another, and by the same system can add to his representation rocks, trees, nay mountains and cities, and birds on the wing.

But the more he uses this liberty, the less will he be truly a sculptor. Solid modelling, and real light and shade, are the special means or instruments of effect which the sculptor alone among imitative artists enjoys. Single outlines and contours, the choice of one particular section and the tracing of its circumscription, are means the sculptor enjoys in common with the painter or draughtsman. And indeed, when we consider works executed wholly or in part in very low relief, whether Assyrian battle-pieces and hunting pieces in alabaster or bronze, or the backgrounds carved in bronze, marble, or wood by the Italian sculptors who followed the example set by Ghiberti at the Renaissance, we shall see that the principle of such work is not the principle of sculpture at all. Its effect depends not at all on qualities of surface-light and shadow, but exclusively on qualities of contour, as traced by a slight line of shadow on the side away from the light, and a slight line of light on the side next to it. And we may fairly hesitate whether we shall rank the artist who works on this principle, which is properly a graphic rather then a plastic principle, among sculptors or among draughtsmen. The above are class in which the relief sculptor exercises his liberty in the introduction of other objects beside human figure into his sculptured compositions. But there is another kind of relief sculpture in which the artist has less choice. That is the kid in which the sculptor is called in to decorate with carved work parts of an architectural construction which are not adapted for the introduction of figure subjects, or for their introduction only as features in a scheme of ornament that comprises many other elements. To this head belongs most of the caring of capitals, mouldings, friezes (except the friezes of Greek temples), bands, cornices, and in the Gothic styles, of doorway arches, niches, canopies, pinnacles, brackets spandrils, and the thousand members and parts of members which that style so exquisitely adorned with true or conventionalized imitations of natural forms. This is no doubt a subordinate function of the art; and it is impossible, as we have seen already, to find a precise line of demarcation between carving, in this decorative use, which is properly sculpture, and that which belongs properly to architecture.

Leaving such discussions, we may content ourselves with the definition of sculpture as a shaping art, of which the business is to imitate natural object, and principally the human body, by reproducing in solid form either their true proportions in all dimensions, or else their true proportions in the two dimensions of length an breadth only, with a diminished proportion in the third dimension of depth or thickness.

In considering bas-relief as a form of sculpture, we have found ourselves approaching the confines of the second of the shaping-imitative arts, graphic art, or art of painting. Painting, as to its means or instruments of imitation, dispenses with the third dimension altogether. It imitates natural objects by representing them as they are represented on the retina of the eye itself, simply as an assemblage of lines and colours on a flat surface. The character and disposition of the lines and colours in painting are determined by two things, the local colours of the objects the themselves, and their shapes and positions in space. Painting does not reproduce the third dimension of reality by any third dimension of its own whatever; but leaves the eye to infer the solidity, the recession and projection, the nearness and remoteness of objects, by the same perspective signs by which it also those facts in nature—namely, by the direction of their several boundary lines, the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows, the strength or faintness of their tones of colour. Hence this art has an infinitely greater range and freedom than any form of sculpture. Near and far is all the same to it, and whatever comes into the field of vision can come also into the field of a picture; trees as well as personages, and clouds as well as trees, and stars as well as clouds; and on earth the remotest mountain snows as well as the violet of the foreground, and far-off multitudes of people as well as one or two near the eye. What ever any man has seen, can imagine himself as seeing, that he can also fix by painting, subject only to one great limitation,—that of the range of brightness which he is able to attain in imitating natural colour illuminated by light. In this particular his art can but correspond according to a greatly diminished ration with the effect of nature. But excepting this it can do for the eye almost all that nature herself does; or at least all that nature would do if man had only eye; since the three dimensions of space produce upon our binocular machinery of vision a particular stereocopic effect of which a picture, with its two dimensions only, is incapable. The range of the art being thus almost unbounded, its selections have naturally been dictated by the varying interest felt in this or that subject of representation by the societies among whom that art has at various times been practised. As in sculpture, so in painting, man, whether as figuring God, or for the sake of his own looks and doings, has always held the first place. For the painter, the intervention of costume between man and his environment is not a misfortune in the same degree as it is for the sculptor. For him, clothes of whatever fashion or density have their own charm; they serve to diversify the aspect of the world, and to express the characters and stations, if not the physical frames, of personages; and he is as happy or happier among the brocades of Venice as among the bare limbs of the Spartan palaestra. Along with man, there come into painting all animals and vegetation, all man’s furniture and belongings, his dwelling-places, fields, and landscape; and in modern times also landscape and nature for their own sakes, skies, seas, mountains, and wilderness apart from man.

Besides the two questions about any art, what objects does it imitate, and by the use of what means or instruments, Aristotle proposes (in the case of poetry) the further question, which of several possible forms does the imitation in any given case assume? We may transfer very nearly the same inquiry to painting, and may ask, concerning any painter, according to which of three possible systems he works. The three possible systems are (1) that which attends principally to the configuration and relations of natural objects as indicated by their circumscribing lines—this may be called for short the system of line; (2) that which attends chiefly to their configuration and relations, as indicated by the incidence and distribution of their lights and shadows—this may be called the system of light-and-shade; and (3) that which attends chiefly, not to their configuration at all, but to the distribution, qualities, and relations of colours upon their surface—this is the system of colour. Line, light-and –shade, and colour, these three kinds of appearance between them make up the whole world of sight. (We do not pause to insist on the fact that line is in truth partly an invention of the mind; those divisions between objects which the painter or draughtsman indicates with an outline or dark marking being in nature only indicated by the even where one colour ends and another begins.) It is not possible for a painter to imitate natural objects to the eye at all without either defining their masses by outlines, or suggesting them by juxtapositions of light and dark or of local colours. In the complete art of painting, of course, all three methods are employed at once. But in what is known as outline drawing and outline engraving, one of three methods only is employed, line; in grisaille picture, and in shaded drawings and engravings, two only, line with light-and-shade; and in the shadowless pictures of the early religious schools, a different two only, line with colour. And even in the most accomplished examples of the complete art of painting, as has been justly pointed out by Professor Ruskin, we find that there almost always prevails a predilection for some one of these three parts of painting over the other two. Thus among the mature Italians of the Renaissance, Titian is above all things a painter in colour, Michelangelo in line, and Leonardo in light-and-shade.

The value of a pictorial imitation is by no means necessarily in proportion to its completeness. Many accomplished pictures, in which all the resources of line, colour, and light-and-shade have been used to the uttermost of the artist’s power for the imitation of all that he could see in nature, are worthless in comparison with a few faintly-touched outlines or lightly-laid shadows or tints of another artist who could see nature better. The fine art of painting addresses not merely the eye but the imagination. Unless the painter knows how to choose and combine the elements of his finished work so that it shall contain in every part suggestions and delights over and above the mere imitation, it will fall short, in that which is the essential charm of fine art, not only of any scrap of a great master’s handiwork, such as an outline sketch of a child by Raphael or colour sketch of a boat or a mackerel by Turner, but even of any scrap of the merest journeyman’s handiwork produced by an artistic race, such as the first Japanese drawing for children in which a water-flag and king-fisher, or a spray of peach or almond blossom across the sky, is dashed in with a mere hint of colour, but a hint that tells a whole tale to the imagination. This, however, is an order of considerations belonging rather to particular criticism than to general classification.

It remains to consider, for the purposes of our classification, what are the technical varieties of the painter’s craft. Since we gave the generic name of painting to all imitation of natural objects by the assemblage of lines, colours, and lights and darks on a single plane, we must include as varieties of painting, not only the ordinary crafts of spreading or laying pictures on an opaque surface in fresco, oil, or water-colour, but also the craft of arranging a picture to be seen by the transmission of light through a transparent substance, in glass painting; the craft of fitting together a multitude of solid cubes or cylinders so that their united surface forms a picture to the eye, in mosaic; the craft of spreading vitreous colours in a state of fusion so that they form a picture when hardened, as in enamel; and even, it would seem, the crafts of tapestry and embroidery, since these also yield to the eye a plane surface figured in imitation of nature. As drawing we must also count incised or engraved work of all kinds representing merely the outlines of objects and not their modellings, as for instance the mythological subjects incised upon the bronze mirrors and dressing cases of Etruscan ladies; whole raised work in low relief, in which outlines are plainly marked and modellings neglected, furnishes, as we have seen, a doubtful class between sculpture and painting. In all figures that are first modelled in the solid an then variously coloured, sculpture and painting bear a common part; as for instance when the sculptor Praxiteles handed his finished statue to the painter Nicias to receive its circumlitio or tinting. But as the special characteristic of sculpture, the third dimension, is here present, it is to that art and not to painting that we shall still ascribe the resulting work. The system of more or less highly colouring stone statues, that is, of painting sculpture, which the moderns have disused, prevailed alike in the Greek and Gothic ages; and solid form and local colour have been similarly combined in the production of pottery in all ages, from those of Corint and Tanagra down to those of Dresden and Sèvres.

With these indications, which the reader can easily follow up for himself, we may leave the art of painting defined in general terms as a shaping art, of which the business is to imitate all kinds of natural objects by reproducing on a plane surface the relations of their boundary lines, lights and shadows, or colours, or all three of these appearances together.

The next and last of the imitative arts is the speaking art of poetry. The transition from sculpture and painting to poetry is, from the point of view not of our present but of our first division among the fine arts, abrupt and absolute. It is a transition from space into time, from the sphere of material forms to the sphere of immaterial images. This is not the place for any detailed exposition of the principles of poetry. But for the sake of the due co-ordination of this art in our general scheme, we are bound as briefly as we can to state its functions among the rest. In so doing we will again adopt the several heads of description with which the reader is already familiar from Aristotle. The object of poetry’s imitation, then, we shall define as everything of which the idea or image can be called up by words, that is, every force and phenomenon of nature, every operation and result of art, every fact of life and history, or every imagination of such a fact, every thought and feeling of the human spirit, for which mankind in the course of its long evolution has been able to create in speech an explicit and appropriate sign. The means or instruments of poetry’s imitation are these verbal signs or words, arranged in lines, strophes, or stanzas, so that their sounds have some of the regulated qualities of music. The three chief modes or forms of the imitations may still be defined as they were defined by Aristotle himself. First comes to epic or narrative form, in which the poet speaks alternately for himself and his characters, now describing their situations and feelings in his own words, and anon making each of them speak in the first person for himself. Second comes the lyric form, in which the poet speaks in his own name exclusively, ad gives expression to sentiments which are purely personal. Third comes the dramatic form, in which the poet does not speak for himself at all, but only puts into the mouths of each of his personage successively such discourse as he thinks appropriate to the part. The last of these forms of poetry, the dramatic, calls, if it is merely read, on the imagination of the reader to fill up those circumstances of situation, action, and the rest, which in the first or epic form are supplied by the narrative between the speeches, and for which in the lyric or personal form there is no occasion. To avoid making this call upon the imagination, to bring home its effects in full reality, dramatic poetry has to call in the aid of several subordinate arts, the shaping or space art of the scene-painter, the mixed time and space arts of the actor and the dancer. Occasionally also, or in the case of opera throughout, dramatic poetry heightens the emotional effect of its words with music. A play or dram is thus, as performed upon the theatre, not a poem merely, but a poem accompanied, interpreted, completed, and brought several degrees nearer to reality by a combination of auxiliary effects of the other arts. Beside the narrative, the lyric, and dramatic forms of poetry, the didactic, that is, the teaching or expository form, has usually been recognized as a fourth. Aristotle refused so to recognize it, regarding a didactic poem in the light not so much of a poem as of a treatise. But from the Works and Days down to the Loves of the Plants there has been too much literature produced in this form for us to follow Aristotle here. We shall do better to regard didactic poetry as a variety corresponding among the speaking arts, to architecture and the other manual arts of which the first purpose is use, but which are capable of accompanying and adorning use by a pleasurable appeal to the emotions.

We shall hardly make our definition of poetry, considered as an imitative art, too extended if we say that it is a speaking art, of which the business is to represent by means of verbal signs arranged with musical regularity everything for which verbal signs have been invented.

Neither the varieties of poetical form, however, nor the modes in which the several forms have been mixed up and interchanged—as much mixture and interchange and implied, for instance, by the very title of a group of Mr Browning’s poems, the Dramatic Lyrics,—the observation of neither of these things concerns us here so much as the observation of the relations of poetry in general, as an art of representation or imitation, to the other arts of imitation, painting and sculpture.

Verbal signs have been invented for innumerable things which cannot be imitated or represented at all either in solid form or upon a coloured surface. You cannot carve or paint a sigh, or feeling which finds utterance in a sigh; you can only suggest the idea of the feeling, and that in a somewhat imperfect and uncertain way, by representing the physical aspect of a person in the act of breathing the sigh. Similarly you cannot carve or paint any movement, but only figures or groups in which the movement is represented as arrested in some particular point of time; nor any abstract idea, but only figures or groups in which the abstract idea, as for example release, captivity, mercy, is illustrated in the concrete shape of allegory. The whole field of thought, of propositions, arguments, injunctions, and exhortations, is open to poetry but closed to sculpture and painting. Poetry, by its command over the regions of the understanding, of abstraction, of the movement and succession of thing in time, by its power of instantaneously associating one delightful image with another from the remotest regions of the mid, by its names for every shade of feeling and experience, exercise a sovereignty a hundred times more extended than that of either of the two arts of manual imitation. But on the other hand, words do not as a rule bear any sensible resemblance to the things of which they are the signs. There are few things that words do not stand for or cannot call up; but they stand for things, as it were, only at second hand, and call them up only in idea, and not in actual presentation to the senses. And just in this lies the strength of painting and sculpture, that though there are countless things which they cannot represent at all, and countless more which they can only represent by suggestion more or less ambiguous, yet there are a few thing which they represent more effectually and directly than poetry can represent any thing at all. These are, or sculpture, the forms or configurations of things, which that art represents directly to the senses both of sight and touch; and for painting the forms or configurations, colours, and relative positions of things, which the art represents to the sense of sight, directly so far as regards surface appearances, and indirectly so far as regards solidity. For many delicate qualities and differences in these visible relations of things, there are no words at all—the vocabulary of colours, for instance, is in all languages surprisingly scantly and primitive. And those visible qualities for which words exist, the words still call up indistinctly and at second hand. Poetry is almost as powerless to bring before the mind’s eye with precision a particular shade of red or blue, as sculpture is to relate a continuous experience, or painting to enforce an exhortation or embellish an abstract proposition. The wise poet, as has been justly remarked, when he wants to produce a vivid impression of the beauty of a variable thing, does not attempt to catalogue or describe its stationary beauties. In representing the perfections of form in a bride’s slender foot, the speaking art, poetry, would find itself distanced by either of the shaping arts, painting or sculpture; the wise poet calls up the charm of such a foot by describing it not at rest but in motion, and in the feet which

"Beneath the petticoat, Like little mice, went in and out,"

leaves us an image which baffles the power of the other arts. Shakespeare, when he wants to make us realize the perfections of Perdita, puts into the mouth of Florizel, not, as a bad poet would have done, a description of her lilies and carnations, and the other charms which a painter could make us better, but the praises of her ways and movements; and with the final touch—

"When you do dance, I wish you A wave o’ the sea, that you might ever do Nothing but that,"

He leaves upon the mind twofold image of beauty in motion, of which one-half might be the despair of those painters who designed the dancing maidens of the walls of Herculaneum, and the other half the despair of all artists who in modern times have tried to fix upon their canvas the buoyancy and grace of dancing waves.

The difference between the means and capacities of representation proper to the shaping arts of sculpture and painting, and those proper to the speaking art of poetry, which we have unsystematically glanced at in the above, were for a long while overlooked or misunderstood. The maxim Simonides, that poetry was a kind of articulate painting, and painting a kind of mute poetry, was vaguely accepted until the days of Lessing, and first overthrown by the famous treatise of that writer on the Laocoön. Following in the main the lines down by Lessing, other writers have worked out the conditions of representation or imitation proper, not only to sculpture and painting as distinguished from poetry, but to sculpture as distinguished from painting, until there is perhaps no part of artistic theory so well or so generally understood as this. The chief points, with some of which we have become acquainted already, may really all be condensed under the simple law, that the more direct and complete the imitation effected by any art, the less is the range and number of phenomena which that art can imitate. Thus sculpture in the round imitates its objects much more completely and fully than any other single art, reproducing one whole set of their relations, their solid relations in space. Precisely for this reason, such sculpture is limited to a narrow class of objects. As we have seen, it must represent human or animal figures; nothing else has enough of organic beauty and perfection, or enough of universal interest. It must represent such figures in combinations and with accessories comparatively simple, on pain of puzzling and embarrassing the eye with a complexity and entanglement of masses and lights and shadows; and in attitudes comparatively quiet, on pain of violating, or appearing to violate, the conditions of mechanical stability. Being a stationary or space-art, it can only represent a single action, which it fixes and perpetuates for ever; and it must therefore choose for the action one as significant and full of interest as is consistent with due observation of the above laws of simplicity. Such actions, and the facial expressions accompanying them, must not be those of sharp crisis or transition, because sudden movement or flitting expressions, thus arrested and perpetuated in full and solid imitation by bronze or marble, would be displeasing and not pleasing to the spectator. They must be actions and expressions in some degree settled, collected, and capable of continuance, and in their collectedness must at the same time suggest to the spectator as much as possible of the circumstances which have led up to them and those which will next ensue. These conditions evidently bring within a very narrow range the phenomena with which this art can deal, and explain, why, as a matter of fact, by the greater number of statues represent simply a single figure in repose, with the addition of one or two symbolic or customary attributes. Paint the statue and you bring the imitation to a still further point of completeness by the addition of local colour; but you do not thereby lighten in any degree the restrictions which are inevitably laid upon sculpture so long as it undertakes to reproduce in full the third or solid dimension of bodies. You only begin to lighten its restrictions when you begin to relieve if of that duty. We have traced how sculpture in relief, which is satisfied with only a partial reproduction o the third dimension, is free to introduce a larger range of objects, bringing forward secondary figures an accessories, indicating distant planes, indulging even in some violence and complexity of motion, since limbs attached to a background do not alarm the spectator by any idea of danger or fragility; though for the due effort of the work, and pleasurable distinctness and diversity of its lights and shadows, such complexity must not, even in relief, be carried too far. And so by degrees we arrive at painting, in which the third dimension is dismissed altogether, and nothing is actually reproduced, in full of partially, except the effect made by the appearance of natural objects upon the retina of the eye. The consequence is that this art can range over distance and multitude, can represent complicated relations between its various figures and groups of figures, extensive backgrounds, and all those subtleties of appearance in natural things which depend upon local and incidence of light and shade. These last phenomena of natural things are in our experience subject to change, in a sense in which the substantial or solid properties of things are not so subject. Colours, shadows, and atmospheric effects are to some extent associated with ideas of transition, mystery, and evanescence. Hence painting is able to extend its range to another kind of facts oer which sculpture has no power. It can perpetuate in its imitation, without breach of its true laws, certain classes of facts which are themselves fugitive and transitory, as a smile, the glance of an eye, a gesture of horror or of passion, the waving of the young Achilles’ hair "not unstirred," as the old description has it, by the wind, the toss and gathering of ocean waves, even the flashing of lightning across the sky. Still, any long or continuous series of changes, actions, or movements is quite beyond the means of this art to represent. Painting remains, in spite of its comparative width of range, tied down to the inevitable conditions of a space-art : that is to say, it has to delight the mind by a harmonious variety in its effects, but by a variety apprehended not through various points of time successively, but from various points in space at the same moment. Lastly, a really ample range is only attained by the art which does not give a full and complete reproduction of any natural fact at all, but represents or brings natural facts before the mind merely by the images which words convey. The whole world of movement, of continuity, of such and effect, of the successions, alternations, and interaction of events, characters, and passions, of every thing that takes time to happen and time to declare, is open to poetry as it is open to no other art. We speak only of those parts of poetry which may properly be called its imitative or representative parts, an not of its other parts or applications, in reasoning, in exhortation, in denunciation, and the like. As a imitative or representative art, then, poetry is subject to no limitations except those which spring from the poverty of human language, and from the fact that its means of imitation are indirect. Poetry’s report of the visible properties of thing is from these caused much less full, accurate, and efficient than the reproduction or delineation of the same properties by sculpture an painting. And this is the sum so of the conditions concerning the respective functions of the three arts of imitation which had been overlooked, in theory at least, until the time of Lessing.

To the law, in the form in which we have expressed it, it may perhaps be objected that the acted drama is at once the most full and complet reproduction of nature which we own to the fine arts, and that at the same time the number of facts over which its imitation ranges is the greatest. The answer is that our law applies to the several arts only in that which we may call their pure or unmixed state. Dramatic poetry is in that state only when it is read or spoken like nay other kind of verse. When it is witnessed on the stage, it is in a mixed or impure state; the art of the actor has been called in to give actual reproduction to the gestures and utterances of the personages, that of the costumier to their appearance and attire, that of the stage-decorator to their furniture and surroundings that of the scene-painter to imitate to the eye the dwelling places and landscapes among which they move; and only by the combination of all these subordinate arts does the drama gain its character of imitative completeness or reality.

Throughout the above account of the imitative and non-imitative groups of fine arts, we have so far followed Aristotle as to give the name of imitation to all recognizable representation whatever of realities. By realities we have meant not only phenomena as they actually or literally exist, or may have existed in the past. Imitations, as we understand it, is not tied to such strict veracity of positive delineation or report. It includes the representation of things which, though similar to things actually existing, have themselves never actually existed—the invention of phenomena, and of relations and combinations among phenomena, derived from those of actual experience, but not identical with them. Such shadowing forth of the unknown by means of the known is part of the work of that comprehensive faculty which we call the imagination. But the materials or elements with which the imaginative faculty is at liberty thus to deal are materials or elements supplied by real experience. When we find among the ruins of a Greek temple the statue of a beautiful young man at rest, or above the altar of a Christian church the painting of one transfixed with arrows, we know that the statue is intended to bring to our minds no mortal youth, but the god Hermes or Apollo, the transfixed victim no simple captive, but Sebastian the holy saint. At the same time we none the less know that the figures in either case have been studied by the artist from living models before his eyes. In like manner, in all the representations alike of sculpture, painting, and poetry, the things, and persons represented may bear symbolic meanings and imaginary names and characters; they may e set in a land of dreams, grouped in relations and circumstances upon which the sum of this world never shone—and such in truth was the purpose to which the arts were almost universally put until but the other day; but is from real things and persons that their lineaments and characters have been taken in the first instance, in order to be attributed by the imagination to another and more exalted order of existences.

The law which we have last laid down is a law defining the relations of sculpture, painting, an poetry, considered simply as arts having their foundations at any rate in reality, and drawing from the imitation of reality their indispensable elements and materials. It is a law defining the range and character of the elements or material in nature which each art is best fitted, by its special and resources, to imitate. But we must remember that, even in this fundamental part of its operations, none of these arts proceeds by imitations pure and simple. None of them contents itself with seeking to represent realities, however literary taken, exactly as those realities are. A portrait in sculpture or painting, a landscape in painting, a passage of local description in poetry, may be representation of known things taken literally or for their own sakes, and not for the sake of carrying our thoughts to the unknown; but none of them ought to be, or indeed can possible be, a representation of all the observed parts and details of such a reality on equal terms and without omissions. Such a representation, were it possible, would be a mechanical inventory and not a work of fine art. That only, we know, is fine art which affords keen and permanent delight to contemplation. Such delight the artist can never communicate by the display of a callous and pedantic impartially in presence of the facts of life and nature. His delineation or report of realities will only strike or impress others in so far as it directs their attention to things by which he has been struck and impressed himself. To excite emotion, he must have felt emotion; and emotion is only another word for partiality. The constitution which observes and registers every detail of an experience with uniform and equal minuteness is a constitution which has been strongly affected by no part of that experience. Such a constitution will never make an artist. The ulterior imaginative meanings and combinations of art being left out of the question, the artist is one who instinctively tends to modify and work upon every reality before him in conformity with some poignant and sensitive principle of preference or selection in his mind. He instinctively adds something to nature in one direction and takes away something in another, overlooking this kind of fact an insisting on that, suppressing many particulars which he holds irrelevant in order to insist on and bring into prominence other by which he is attracted and arrested. To do this is called to idealize, and the faculty by which an artist prefers, selects, and brings into the light one order of facts or aspects in the thing before him rather than the rest, is called the idealizing or ideal faculty. To the definitions of the imitative arts above given, in which we said that their business was to imitate natural facts—one by solid form, another by line, light-and-shade, and colour, a third by words in regulated combination,—to these definitions, then, we must now add that the imitation of natural fact in question is no an imitation pure and simple, but an idealized imitation, in which the mind acts upon the facts of nature, and sifts and sorts them at its choice, before it represents or puts them on record.

This idealizing faculty is also one of that great cluster of faculties or powers within is for mentally making the most of the world we lie in, which are commonly associated together under the comprehensive name imagination. Interminable discussion has been spent on the question,—What is the ideal, and how do we idealize? The answer has been put in the most sensible form by those thinkers (e.g., Vischer and Lotze), who have pointed out that the process of aesthetic idealization carried on by the artist is only the higher development of a process carried on in an elementary fashion by all men, from the very nature of their constitution. The physical organs of sense themselves do not retain or put on the impressions made upon them. When the nerves of the eye receive a multitude of different stimulations at once from different points in space, the sense of eyesight, instead of being aware of all these stimulations singly, only abstracts and retains a total impression of them together. In like manner we are not made aware by the sense of hearing of all the several waves of sound that strike in a momentary succession upon the nerves of the ear; that sense only abstracts and retains a total impressions from the combined effect of a number of such waves. And the office which each sense thus performs singly for its own impressions, the mind performs in a higher degree for the impressions of all the senses equally, and for the other parts of our experience. We are always dismissing or neglecting a great part of our impressions, and abstracting and combining among those which we retain. The ordinary human consciousness works like an artist up to this point; and when we speak of the ordinary or inartistic man as being impartial in the retention or registry of his daily impressions, we mean, of course, in the retention or registry of his impressions as already thus far abstracted and assorted in consciousness. The artistic man, whose impressions affect him much more strongly, carries much farther these same process of abstraction and combination among his impressions, and according to the complexion of his feeling imparts a colour from his own mind both to the literal record of his experiences and to the imaginary constructions which he builds upon them.

It will further help our understanding of what is meant by the ideal in art. If we observe that into the framing of every ideal there enter two parts or elements. These are, a subjective and an objective part of element—or so we may for convenience call them. The artist, affected more than other men by his daily impressions, grows up with certain inmate or acquired predilections which become a part of his constitution whether he will or no,—predilections, say, if he is a dramatic poet, for certain types of character and situation; if he is a sculptor, for certain proportions and a certain habitual carriage and disposition of the limbs; if he is a figure painter, for certain moulds of figure and airs and expressions of countenance; if a landscape painter, for a certain class of character, configuration, and sentiment in natural scenery. This is the subjective or purely personal part of the artistic idea. But on the other hand, as an imitator of fact, the artist has to recognize and accept the character of the facts which he finds at any given moment before him. All facts cannot be of the cast which he prefers, and in so far as he undertakes to deal with facts of an opposite cast he must submit to them; he must study them as they actually are, must abstract, retain, bring into prominence, and carry out their own dominant tendencies. If he cannot find in them what is most pleasing to himself, he will still be led y the abstracting and discriminating powers of his observation to discern what is most significant in them, he will emphasize and put on record this, idealizing the facts before him not in his direction but in their own. This, the disengaging and bringing forward of the characteristics actually dominant in any object as he finds it, is the second or objective half of the artist’s task of idealization. It is this half upon which M. Taine has dwelt almost exclusively, and on the whole with a just insight into the principles of the operation in his well-known treatise On the Ideal in Art. These two modes of idealization, the subjective and the objective, are not always easy to be reconciled. Though the perfect artist would no doubt be he who should combine the strongest personal instincts of preference with the keenest power of observing characteristics as they are, yet in fact we had few artists in whom both these elements of the ideal faculty have been equally developed. To take some familiar instances among painters : Leonardo da Vinci, haunted as he was above all men by a particular human ideal of intellectual sweetness and alluring mystery, which perpetually recurs in the faces of his women and young men, has yet left us a vast number of exercises which show him as an indefatigable student of objective characteristics and psychological expressions of an order the most opposed to this. An older painter of the same period, Sandro Botticelli, is on the other hand as good an example as can be named of an artist who could escape from the dictation of his own personal ideals, in obedience to which he invested all the creations of his art with nearly the same conformation of brows, lips, cheeks, and chin, nearly the same looks of wistful yearning and dejection. If, again, we desire an example of the principle, of that idealism which idealizes above all things objectively, and disengages the very inmost and individual characters, however unattractive or unseemly, of the thing or person before it, we must turn to the northern schools, and especially to the work of Remdrandt;though, indeed, that master’ profound sense of human sympathy and commiseration, and his predilection for a certain class of light-shade effects, throw in this case, too, a veil of distinct personal feeling over his representations.

Sculpture, painting, and poetry, then, are arts which re-present things known and real, either for their own sakes literally, or for the sake of shadowing forth things not known but imagined. It either case they represent their originals, not indiscriminately as they are, but bettered, completed, or at the least simplified and enforced to our apprehensions, partly by the transmuting power of the artist’s own instincts and partly by his discriminating, selecting, and rejecting power among the facts before him. But before we dismiss these arts, we must remember that imitation is not the whole of their task. Just as music and architecture, we saw, though non-imitative arts in the main, admitted occasional and partial elements of imitations, so sculpture, painting, and poetry include non-imitative elements in their turn. Part of the pleasures of sculpture, and a larger part of those of painting, are independent of the representation of natural facts, and depend, only, like the pleasures of architecture, on abstract properties of line, colour, and light-and-shade. In like manner of the pleasures of poetry are independent of the images which the words in poetry call up, and depend only, like the pleasures of music, on the melody and emotional suggestiveness of the sounds of those words as they are combined in the line or stanza. It is impossible by the eye and respectively apart from imitation is purely organic pleasure of the senses, and how much is pleasure of the senses, and how much is pleasure derived from the association of particular form, hues, and sounds with desirable and beneficent qualities. Certain it is that there are figures and combinations of line, and patterns and arrangements of colour, and successions, transitions, and oppositions of sound, which affect our senses with an organic pleasure; and certain it is no less that are other which seem to affect them with a similar pleasure from being unconsciously associated in our mind with experience of efficiency, beneficence, or power. The point at which these kindred pleasures merge into one another it does not here concern us to distinguish, if we could. It is sufficient that the effects of architecture and music depend, as we have learned, almost entirely on their appeal to these pleasures; while the effect of sculpture, painting, and poetry, depending mainly on the pleasures derived from idealized representation of fact, depend on the others also in a secondary but none the less in an indispensable degree. Thus, the outlines, intervals, and shadows of the masses in a work of sculpture are bound to be such as would please the eye, whether the statue or relief represented the figure of anything real in the world or not. The flow and balance of line, and the distribution of colours and light-and-shade, in a picture are bound to be such as would make an agreeable pattern although they bore no resemblance to natural fact (as, indeed, many subordinate applications of this art, in decorative painting and geometrical and other ornaments, do, we know, give pleasures though they represent nothing). The sound of a line or verse in poetry is bound to be such as would thrill the physical ear in hearing, or the mental ear in reading, with a delightful excitement even though the meaning went for nothing. If the imitative arts are to touch and elavate the emotions, if they are to afford permanent delight of the due pitch and volume, it is not a more essential law that their imitation should be of the order which we have defined as ideal, than that they should at the same time exhibit these independent effect which they share with the non-imitative group.

Having now sufficiently drawn attention to the effects presented by the several greater fine arts as divided into an imitative and non-imitative group, and having found that division the most convenient for the general discussion of the nature of the several arts, it not the most important for practice, we may now pass to another point of view, and consider very briefly the results which are gained by a third mode of classification.

3. The Serviceable and the Non-Serviceable Arts.—It has been established from the outset that, thought the essential distinction of fine art is to minister not to necessity but to delight, yet among the arts of men there are some which do both these things at one, and add beauty, or the quality which gives us delight, to use, or the quality which satisfies our needs. This double character is inseparable, among the five greater arts, from architecture. We build in the first instance for the sake of necessary shelter and accommodation. By and by we find out that the aspect of our construction is pleasurable or the reverse. Architecture is the art of building at once as we need and as we like, and a practical treatise on architecture must treat the beauty and the utility of building as bound up together. But for out present purpose it has been proper to take into account one half only of the vocation of architecture, the half by which it gives delight, and belongs to that which is the subject of our study, to fine art; and to neglect the other half of its vocation, by which it belongs to what is not the subject of our study, to useful or mechanical art. It is plain, however, that the presence or absence of this foreign elements, the element of utility, constitutes a fair ground for a separate classification of the fine arts. If we took the five greater arts only, architecture would on this ground stand alone in one division, as the useful or serviceable fine art; with sculpture, painting music, and poetry together in the other divisions, as fine arts unassociated with direct use or service. Not that the divisions would, even thus, be quite sharply and absolutely separated. Didactic poetry, we have already acknowledge, is a branch of the poetic art which aims at practice and utility. Again, the hortatory and patriotic kinds of lyric poetry, from the strains of Tyrtaeus to those of Arndt or Rouget de Lisle, may fairly be said to belong to a phase of fine art which is directly concerned, if not with practical needs, at any rate with practical duties. So may the strains of music which accompany such poetry. The same practical character, as stimulating and attuning the mind to definite ends and actions, might indeed have been claimed for the greater part of the whole art of music, as that art was practised in antiquity, when each of several prescribed and highly elaborated moods, or modes, of melody were supposed to have a known effect upon the courage and moral temper of the hearer. In modern music, of which the elements, much more complex in themselves than those of ancient music, have the effect of stirring our fibres to moods of rapturous contemplation rather than action, military strains in march time are the only purely instrumental variety of the art which may still be said to retain this character.

To reinforce, however, the serviceable or use division of fine arts in our present classification, it is not among the greater arts that we must look. We must look among the lesser or auxiliary arts of the manual or shaping group. The potter, the joiner, the weaver, the smith, the goldsmith, the glass-maker, these and a hundred artificers who produce wares primarily for use, produce them in a form or with embellishments that have the secondary virtue of giving pleasure to the user. Much ingenuity has been spent to little purpose in attempting to group and classify these lesser shaping arts under one or other of the greater shaping arts, according to the nature of the means employed in each. Thus the potter’s art has been classed under sculpture, because he moulds in solid form the shapes of his cups, plates, and ewers; the art of the joiner under that of the architect, because his tables, seats, and cupboards, are fitted and framed together, like the houses they furnish, out of solid materials previously prepared and cut; and we our selves had occasion above to class the weaver and embroiderer, from the point of view of the effects produced by their art, among painters. But the truth is, that each one of these auxiliary handicraft has it own materials and technical procedure, which cannot, without forcing and confusion, be describe by the name of proper tot he materials and technical procedure of any of the greater arts. The only satisfactory classification of these handicrafts is that now before us, according to which think of them all together in the same group with architecture, not because any one or more of them may be technically allied to that art, but because, like it, they all yield products capable of being at the same time useful and beautiful. Architecture is the art which fits and frames together, of stone, brick, timber, or iron, the abiding and assembling places of man, all his houses, palaces, temples, workshops, roofed places of meeting and exchange, theatres for spectacle, fortresses of defence, bridges, aqueducts, and ships for seafaring. The wise architect having fashioned any one of these great constructions at once for service and beauty in the highest degree, the lesser or auxiliary manual arts come in, to fill, furnish, and adorn it will things of service and beauty in a lower degree, each according to its own technical laws and capabilities; some, like pottery, delighting the use at once by beauty of form, delicacy of substance, and pleasantness of imitative or non-imitative ornament; some, lie embroidery, by richness of tissue, and by the same twofold pleasantness of ornament; some, like goldsmith’s work, by preciousness of fancy and workamanship proportionate to the preciousness of the material. To this vast group of workmen, whose work is at the same time useful and fine in its degree, the ancient Greek gave the place which is most just and convenient for thought, when he classed them all together under the name of _____ or artificers, and called the builder by the name of _____, arch-artificer or artificer-in-chief.

Of the manner in which the operation of these auxiliary manual arts has been modified in later times by the increase of mechanical agencies, and of the degree to which the intervention of such agencies, in multiplying one uniform design upon a vast number of wares, is compatible with the true character of fine art in the product, we have said enough further back. It is time now to turn to the last section of our inquiry.


Under this heading it will not expected, nor will our space allow, that we should do more touch in the most general terms on some of the great facts and divisions in the history of the several arts. The students of human culture have within the last hundred years concentrated a great deal of attentive thought upon the history of the fine art, and have put forth various comprehensive generalizations intended at once to sum up and to account for, the phases and vicissitudes of that history. The most famous formula of all is that of Hegel, to which we have already alluded. Hegel, we learned, regarded particular arts as being characteristic of and appropriate to particular forms of civilization and particular ages of history. For him, architecture was the symbolic art appropriate to ages of obscure and struggling ideas, and characteristic of the Egyptian and the Asiatic races of old and of the mediaeval age in Europe. Sculpture was the classical art appropriate to ages of lucid and self-possessed ideas, and characteristic of the Greek and Roman period. Painting, music, and poetry were the romantic arts, appropriate to the ages of complicated and overmastering ideas, and characteristic of modern humanity in general. In the working out of these generalizations, Hegel has brought together a great mass of judicious and striking observation; and that they are generalizations containing on the whole a preponderance of truth may be admitted point of view, that they too much mix up the definition of what the several arts theoretically are with consideration of what in various historical circumstances they have practically been. From the historical point of view, there can be taken what seems a more valid objection, that these formulas of Hegel tend too much to concentrate the attention of the student upon the one dominant art chosen as characteristic of any period, and to give him false ideas of the proportions and relations of the several arts at the same period,—of the proportions and relations which poetry, say, really, bore to sculpture among the Greeks and Romans, or sculpture to architecture among the Christian nations of the Middle Age. The truth is, that the historic survey gained over any field of human activity from the height of generalizations so vast in their range and scope as these are, must needs, in the complexity of earthly affairs, be a survey too distant to give much guidance until and such nearer study is apt to compel the student in the long run to qualify the theories with which he has started until they are in danger of disappearing altogether.

Another systematic exponent of the universe, whose system is very different from that of Hegel, Mr Herbert Spencer, has brought the great scientific generalization of our time, the doctrine of Evolution, to bear, not without interesting results, upon the history of the fine arts and their development. Mr Herbert Spencer sets forth how the manual group of fine arts, architecture, sculpture, and painting, were in their first rudiments bound up together, and how each of them in the course of history has liberated itself from the rest by a gradual process of separation. These arts did not at first exist in the distant and developed forms in which we have above describe them. There were no statues in the round, and no painted panels or canvasses hung upon the wall. Only the rudiments of sculpture and painting existed, and that only as ornaments applied to architecture, in the shape of tiers of tinted reliefs, representing, in a kind of picture-writing, the exploit of kings upon the walls of their temple-palaces. Gradually sculpture took greater salience and roundness, and tended to disengage itself from the wall, while painting found out how to represent solidity by means of its own, and dispensed with the raised surface upon which it was first applied. But the old mixture and union of the three arts, with an undeveloped art of painting and an undeveloped art of sculpture still engaged in or applied to the works of architecture, continued on the whole to prevail through the long cycles of Egyptian and Assyrian history. In the Egyptian palace-temple we find a monument at once political and religious, and into this one class of monument we find concentrated all the energies and faculties of all the artificers of the race. With its incised and pictured walls, its half-detached colossi, its open and its colonnaded chambers, the forms of the columns and their capitals recalling the stems sand blossoms of the lotus and papyrus, with its architecture everywhere taking on the characters and covering itself with the adornments of immature sculpture and painting—this structure exhibits within its single fabric the origins of the whole subsequent group of shaping arts. From hence it is along way to the innumerable artistic surroundings of later Greek and Roman life, the many temples with their detached and their engaged statues, the theatres, the porticoes, the baths, the training schools, with free and separate statues both gods and men adorning every building and public place, the frescoes upon the walls, the panel-pictures hung in temples and public and private galleries. In the terms of the theory of evolution, the advance from the early Egyptian to the later Greek stage is an advance from the one to the manifold, from the simple to the complex, from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, and affords a striking instance of that vast and ceaseless process of differentiation and integration which it is the law of all things to undergo. In the Christian monuments of the early Middle Age, again, the arts have gone back to the rudimentary stage, and are similarly attached to and combined with each other. The single monument, the one great birth of art, in that age, the Gothic church. In this we find the art of applied sculpture exercised in fashions infinitely rich and various , but entirely in the service and for the adornment of the architecture; we find painting exercised in fashions more rudimentary still, principally in the forms of coloured imagery in the chancel windows and illuminated miniatures in the pages of missals and service-books. And from this stage again the process of the differentiation of the arts is repeated. It is by a new evolution or unfolding, and by one carried to much farther and more complicated stages than the last had reached, that thee arts since the Middle Age, have come to the point where we find them to-day; when architecture is applied to a hundred secular uses with not less magnificence, or at least not less desire of magnificence, than that with which it fulfilled its single sacred use of old; with sculpture adorning, or intended to adorn, all our streets and commemorating all our likenesess; with the subjects of painting extended from religion to all life and nature, until this one art has been divided into the dozen branches of history, landscape, still life genre, anecdote, and the rest. Such being in brief the successive stages and such the reiterated processes, of the evolution among the shaping arts, the action of the same law can be traced in the growth of this speaking or time arts also. Originally poetry and music, the two speaking arts, speaking arts, were not separated from each other and from the arty of bodily motion, dancing. The father of song, music, and dancing, all there, was that savage of whom we have already spoken, who first clapped hands and leapt and shouted in time at some festival of his tribe. From the clapping or rudimentary rhythmical noise, has been evolved the whom art of instrumental music, down to the entrancing complexities of the modern symphony. From the shout, or rudimentary emotional utterance, has proceeded by a kindred evolution the whole art of vocal music down to the modern opera or oratorio. From the savage, leap, or rudimentary expression of emotion by rhythmical, from the stately figures of the tragic chorus of the Greeks to the kordax of their comedy or the cancan of modern Paris.

That the theory of evolution serves well to group and to interpret many facts in the history of art we are not disposed to deny, though it would be easy to show that Mr Herbert Spencer’s instances and applications are nt sufficient to sustain all the conclusions that he seems to draw from them. Thus, it is perfectly true that the Egyptian or Assyrian palace wall is an instance of rudimentary painting and rudimentary sculpture in subservience to architecture. But it is not true that races who had no architecture at all, but lived in caverns of the earth, exhibit, as we have already had occasion to notice, the rudiments of the other two arts, in a different form, in the carved or incised handles of their weapons. And it is almost certain that, among the nations of Oriental antiquity themselves, the art of decorating solid walls so as to please the eye with patterns and presentations of natural was itself borrowed from the precedent of an older art, which works, in easier materials, the art of weaving or tapestry, It would be in the perished textile fabrics of the earliest dwellers in the valley of the Nile and the Euphrates that we should find, if anywhere, the origins of the systems of surface design, whether conventional or imitative, which those races afterwards applied to the decoration of their solid constructions. Not in any one exclusive type of primitive artistic activity, but in a score of such types equally, varying according to race, region, and circumstances, shall we find so many germs or nuclei from which whole families of fine arts have in the course of the world’s history and unfolded themselves. And once at least during that history, a cataclysm of all the political and social forces has not only checked the process of the evolution of the fine arts, but from an advanced stage of development has thrown them back again—we speak especially they are all practised conjointly and in mutual inter dependence. By Mr Herbert Spencer’s application of the theory of evolution, not less than by Hegel’s theory of the historic periods, attention is called to the fact that Christian Europe, during several centuries of the Middle Age, presents to our study a civilization analogous to the civilization of the old Oriental empires in this respect, that its ruling and characteristic manual art is architecture, to which sculpture and painting are, as in the Oriental empires, once more subjugated and attached. It does not of course follow that such periods of fusion or mutual dependence among the arts are periods of bad art. On the century, each stage of the evolution of any art has its own characteristic excellence. There is an excellence of sculpture as a decorative or subsidiary art, and that it reached in the Gothic age. There is an excellence of sculpture as an independent art, and that it reached in Greece, in the 5th century B.C., and again approached in Tuscany in the 15th century A.D. The arts can be employed in combination, and yet be all severally excellent. When music, dancing, and singing were combined in the performance of the Greek chorus, the combination no doubt presented a relative perfection of each of the four elements analogous to the combined perfection, in the contemporary Doric temple, of pure architectural form, sculptured enrichment of spaces specially contrived for sculpture in the pediments and frieze, and coloured decoration over all. The extreme differentiation of any art form every other art, and of the several branches of one art among themselves, does not by means tend to the perfection of that art. The process of evolution the fine arts many go, and indeed, in the course of history has gone, too far. Thus an artist of our own day is usually either a painter only or a sculptor only; but yet it is acknowledge that the painter who can model a statue, or the sculptor who can paint a picture, is likely to be the more efficiently master of both arts; and in the best days of Florentine art the greatest men were generally painters, sculptors, architects, and goldsmiths all at once. In like manner a landscape painter who paints landscape only is apt not to paint it so well as one who paints the figure too; and in recent times the skill of engraving had almost perished from the habit of allotting one part of the work, as skies, to one hand, another part, as figures, to a second, and another part, as landscape, to a third. This kind of continually progressing subdivision of labour, which seems to the necessary law of industrial processes, is fatal to any skill which demands, as skill in the fine arts, we have seen demands, the face exercise and direction at every moment of a highly complex cluster both of faculties and sensibilities. Turning to the other group of arts, there are reformers who say that the process of evolution and differentiation has in like manner gone too far with music. Music, as separated from words and actions, say Dr Wagner and his followers,—independent orchestral and instrumental music,—has reached its utmost development, and its farther advance can only be an advance into the inane; while the music that is still associated with words, operatic music, has broken itself up into a number of set separate forms, as aria, scena, recitative, which correspond to no real varieties of instinctive emotional utterance, and in the aimless production of which the art is in danger of paralysing and stultifying itself. This process, they say, must be checked; music and words must be brought back again into close connexion and mutual dependence; the artificial opera forms must be abolished, a new and homogeneous musical drama must be created, of which the author shall combine in himself the now differentiated functions of poet, composer, inventor, and director of scenery and stage appliances, so that the entire creation may bear the impress of a single mind.

It is thus evident that the evolution theory furnishes us with some instructive points of view for the history of the fine arts as for other things. Another key to what is called the philosophy of that history, although one which has been employed with results perhaps less really luminous than they are certainly showy and attractive, is that supplied by a distinguished French writer, M. Taine. M. Taine’s philosophy, which might perhaps be better called a natural history, of fine art, consist in regarding the fine arts as the necessary result of the general conditions under which they are at any time produced—conditions of race, conditions of climate, conditions of religion, civilization, and manners. Acquaints yourself with these conditions as they existed in any given people at any given period, and you will be able to account for the characters assumed by the arts of that people at that period and to reason from on to the other, as a botanist can account for the flora of any given locality and can reason form its soil, exposure, and temperature, to the orders of vegetation which it will produce. This method of treating the history of the fine arts, again, is one which can be pursued with profit, in so far as it makes the student realized the connexion of fine art with human culture in general, and teaches him how the arts of any age and country are not in independent or arbitrary phenomenon, but are essentially an outcome, or efflorescence, to use a phrase of Professor Ruskin’s, of may deep-seated elements in the civilization which produces them. But it is a method which, rashly used, is very apt to lead to a hasty and one-sided handling both of history and of art. It is easy to fasten on certain obvious relations of fine arts to general civilization when you know a few of the facts of both, and to say, the cloudy skies and mongrel industrial population of Amsterdam at such a date had their inevitable reflexion in the art of Rembrandt; the wealth and pomp of the full-fleshed burghers and burgesses of Antwerp had their in the art of Rubens. But to do this in the precise and conclusive manner of M. Taine’s treatises on the philosophy of art always means to ignore a large range of conditions or causes for which no corresponding effect is on the surface apparent, and generally, also, a large number of effects for which appropriate causes cannot easily be discovered either. The truth is, that this particular efflorescence of human culture depends for its character at any given time combinations of causes which by no means simple, but generally highly complex, obscure, and nicely balanced. For instance, the student who should try to reason back from the holy and beatified character which prevails in much of the devotional painting of the Italian schools down to the Renaissance would make a great mistake if he were to conclude, "like art, like life, thoughts, and manners." He would not understand the relations of the art to the general civilization of those days, unless he were to remember that one of the chief functions of the imagination is to make up for the shortcomings of reality, and to supply to contemplation images of that which is most lacking in actual life; so that the visions at once peaceful and ardent of the religious schools of the Italian cities are to be explained, not by the peace, but rather in great part by the dispeace, of contemporary existence.

Either of the three modes of generalization to which we have referred might no doubt yield, however, supposing in the student the due gifts of patience and of caution, a working clue to guide him through that immense region of research, the history of the fine arts. But it is hardly possible to pursue to any purpose the history of the two great groups, the shaping group and the speaking group, together. Words are a means of expression which men have generally mastered more quickly than any other; and in Greece all three divisions of the art of poetry, the narrative, lyric, and dramatic, had been perfected, and two of them had again declined, before sculpture reached maturity, or painting had again declined, before sculpture reached maturity, or painting had passed beyond the stage of its early severity. Again, many nations have been great in poetry at a time when their other fine arts flourished humbly if at all—as England in the days of Elizabeth. The history of poetry must thus of necessity be separate study. And so must the history of music. Music in its independent development is an invention—whether made, as some think, in response to the special needs of modern souls, or, as other, hold, simply like other inventions in the progress of human ingenuity—but at any rate an invention of the last two hundred years.

On the other hand, it is very possible to take the whole of the shaping group of fine arts together, and to pursue connectedly the history, throughout the course of civilization, of architecture, sculpture, and painting, and of their mutual relations with one another. Being all arts of manual dexterity, and all occupied in providing for our delight objects intended for visual contemplation in space, these have a natural and practical affinity. Leaving aside the arts of the races of Egypt and the East, which, profoundly interesting as they are, have had no direct effect upon ourselves except in so far as they communicated the first hints or germs of inspiration to the ancestors and masters of Western civilization, the Greeks,—leaving those aside, the history of the manual arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture, falls naturally into four great periods or divisions :— (1) the Greek and Roman period, from about 700 B.C. to the final triumph of Christianity, say 400 A.D.; (2) the Christian period, from the triumph of Christianity to about 1260 A.D. in Italy and about 1460 in northern Europe; (3) the Renaissance period, from the above dates till about 1620 A.D.; (4) the modern period, from about 1620 to our own day. We have not set down, as is usually done, specifically Gothic age in art, for this reason. The characteristic of the whole Christian period is that its dominant art is architecture, chiefly employed in the service of the church, and with the arts of painting and carving only applied subordinately for its enrichment. It makes no essential difference to this fundamental character that from the 5th to the 12the century the forms of this art were derived in the east of Europe from the Byzantine branch, and in the west from the branch usually called Romanesque, of the round-arched architecture of the empire; and that by the 13th century a new form of architecture, in which the round arch was replaced by the pointed, and the decorations took another character, had been invented in France, and from thence spread to Germany, England, Spain, and last to Italy. The essential difference only begins when the imitative arts, sculpture and painting, begin to develop and detach themselves, to exist and strive after perfection on their own account. This happens in Italy with the artificers of the 13th and 14th centuries, with Niccola Pisano and Giotto; and it happens, though the respective arts are still wholly engaged upon ecclesiastical subjects, in connexion with an incipient study of and passion for antique models. From this time and onward, that movement of men’s minds which gradually enthroned the images of pagan antiquity beside those of Christian worship as the ideal theme of art, continued until, the 15th century, it communicated itself to the more pious races of the North, and until in Italy it reached its culmination in the movement of the arts held on, with its energy exhausted and its inspiration flagging, until, soon after the beginning of the 17th century, the Dutch school of common life’s appeared an announced the greatest revolution of all. This is a revolution which has its counterpart in literature too, and which proceeds from a modern manner of regarding life totally different from that of either antiquity, the Christian Middle Age, or the Renaissance. By it the fine arts were brought down from the exclusive regions of the religious and the classical ideal, and launched upon their human, their secular, their democratic, their realistic career, of which who shall as yet foretell the issue? (S. C.)

The above article was written by Prof. Sidney Colvin, M.A.; Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum from 1884; Slade Professor of Fine Art, Cambridge, 1873-85; edited the Edinburgh edition of R. L. Stevenson's works, Letters of R. L. Stevenson, and History of Painting, from the German of Woltmann and Woermann.

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