Some Books on Art
Spanish Art : An -Introductory Review of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture, Textiles, Ceramics, Woodwork and Metal Work. Edited by It. R. Tatloek. (Burlington :Magazine. 42s.) Landmarks in Nineteenth Century Painting. By Clive Bell. (Chatto and Windus. 10s. Ucl.) THE supply of aids to the study of all the plastic arts becomes embarrassingly rich.. But such a volume as the Editor of the Burlington Magazine has brought together concerning Spanish Art could scarcely be overpraised. Nine authors handle the. seven branches of the subject, but the opening may on Architecture, by Mr. Royall Tyler, is most skilfully contrived to be at the same time a review of Spanish History and a- survey of the country, which binds up the whole. Sir Quarks Holmes follows with generalizations over the Spanish Temper in relations to Spanish Painting, before Mr. Kay Produces his synopsis of the Spanish schools—dry, but quietly suffused with interest by reference to the illustrations, Which in each ease follow the section of text appropriate to then'. The latter half of the volume is of great value to collec- tors of Spanish stuffs, pottery, furniture and-Metalwork. A getteralhibliography•-and"map complete the equipment of this work, costly, but cheap at the money for those 1010 can afford it —and this should include all libraries.
Mr. Berenson's new book is costly too, and of quite a different appeal. He is a high-power student who invites the less advanced to come and watch how he does it.
So his readers are taken on an intricate journey, the goal of which is to be the assignment of nine panels to Domenico Morons. IItr. Heroism says that, in his opinion, all tho horses found in Italian painting have been to sonic degree sired by the " bronze creatures prancing over the pu,rch of San Marco." For " never will man have commerce with nature: when a great work of art bars the way." Still, inland workers at Florence and elsewhere, constantly seeing actual horses, underwent sonic influence. " The Venetian artist alone had the pure breed, never bastardized by contact, however uncon- scious, with the living animal." The horses in the panels under study were completely Venetian. Yet Verona is on the land. " Yes, and so was Padua ; but so jealous was the power of Venice that I defy anyone to find a horse derived from either town which is not a thoroughbred San Marco." Architecture and dress have to yield their testimony. under Mr. Berenson's shrewd, humorous, cogent analysis ; and it is all great fun, and one is in the company of a man who has been always living in the most vital contact with pictures that so easily might be dead, but for the like Of' him.
Mr. Furst's large volume on painting portraits proves to be a discussion of more than the title suggests. Ile begins with the period when painters, departing from the symbolic treat- ment of figures, attempted to be " lifelike" ; and he ends with the reaction of the twentieth century, when painters chose to see people as cubes (or anything but people) and completely abandoned the ideal of producing what would be instantly recognized.
public," says Mr. Furst, '' must learn to look at a picture as a picture instead of a subst it ute fur nature." On the other hand he hopes that " new convent ions will establish themselves which the artist will respect as a matter of courtesy to an equally courteous public. who will no longer be left, as it is so often to-day, at sea." It is indeed.
The truth is that the modern public has not learnt to see
beauty in the results produced, when men and women in modern dress among modern surroundings are treated. as Mr. Clive Bell says, " artistically." Manet, he says, gave offence
because he " was not only to coot i i h)uorum, life form is theme, but flattening it out- stylizing, distorting things that were familiar." Yet, " the Impressionists offer colour and form of the loveliest, saturated in the sweet delicious wine of newly tapped paganism." That is what you get, presumably, from the " Blanchisseuses " of Degas —one tired woman yawning over her work, while another presses an iron on sonic linen. If the colour is of the loveliest, in any ordinary acceptation of the word, the picture must be unlike 1110Nt by this master ; and there is about as lunch of the " sweet delicious wine of paganism " as in a novel of Gissing's. This picture is a view of life--not photographic-- it is much too lifelike for that. Incidentally a good pattern is mile on the canvas. But for the ordinary public it is a presentment, powerldly given, of two washerwomen --a portrait, in Mr. Furst's sense. Nobody would call one of Gissing's books, or Hardy's, an exercise in harmonies. There is a harmony in the sentences ; there is the design and shaping ; but the mind is affected by their artists in a manner comparable to that in which Degas moves it.
Mr. Thomas Bodkin, who had the luck to be closely asso-
ciated with Sir Hugh Lane, has tried his hand also at settling the question what an educated person really should look for in a picture. His Approach to Painting is much simpler and less pontifical than Mr. Clive Bell's or Mr. Furst's ; and when he also comes to deal with the moderns he is, to put it plainly,
more intelligible. Manet was, he says, a Frenchman who " would insist on seeing and feeling for himself." His " Olympia " is "a modern Parisienne lying on a modern bed in a modern room." Mr. Bodkin cleverly juxtaposes Titian's " Venus with the Lapdog," in the Uffizi, and the two composi- tions, so like in composition, so unlike in all else, emphasize the extent of Mallet's departure.
But both are lifelike ; both are only varieties of portraitpre, Mr. Bodkin does not go on to tell us how to approach the art that would not for the world resemble nature.