Art in the Nineteenth Century. By C. Wallstein. (Cambridge University
Press, is. net.)—This pamphlet is the revised form of a lecture delivered at Cambridge, and in it the author surveys a very wide field, and gives us a general view of literature. painting, sculpture, music, architecture, and decorative art. It is impossible that so great a theme can receive more than the most superficial treatment within the small compass of a lecture. But it is surprising how few phases of artistic activity the author leaves on one side. It is, however, impossible that the views expressed can be upheld by much in the way of argument, and we have to accept statements for which we should like to have the reasoning which induced the author to arrive at his conclu- sions. The general idea of Mr. Waldstein is that the artists of the past century, whether plastic or literary, instead of finding themes in remote countries and far-off times, looked to the world around them as it actually existed for material. In doing this they were expanding the subject-matter of their respective arts, and at the same time were obliged to enlarge their technical resources to enable them to express the new ideas. The author has more to say of subject than of treatment, and so when he
deals with the art of painting he fails to notice the surprising innovations of the nineteenth century. The colour sense, for instance, seems to have been entirely changed in some respects. There is nothing in the art of the past to suggest that iridescent effects of colour were even seen, much less rendered. Turner was of course the great pioneer in this direction. Again, the sense of the relative values of objects is quite modern. Velasquez no doubt observed them fully in his interiors, but it was left for modern art to develop the system of natural lighting in landscapes. Mr. Waldstein talks vaguely of the advance of land- scape painting, but gives no hint of the road by which the painters achieved it. This road, in truth, was atmospheric iridescent colour and the observation of relative values. Another all-pervading characteristic of modern art is not alluded to, although it is of the most far-reaching effect. This is the loss of edges. In the landscapes of Corot the salient object emerges from vagueness gradually and without break. The melodies of Wagner rise to the surface of the orchestral sea without "periods" of four and eight bars. So in the poetry of Browning or the prose of Kipling much is merely alluded to which in a former epoch would have been defined. If Mr. Waldstein has not noted some of the leading tendencies of modern art, he has at any rate written a suggestive and thoughtful work, and if its conclusions are somewhat obvious, they are nevertheless sound.