22 FEBRUARY 1902, Page 18


rrO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."] Si,—Is it possible to explain satisfactorily why modern art is practically entirely divorced from religion ? There is a

fragment of conversation in a popular novel which seems to represent fairly accurately the ideas of the present day about art. Lady Esdaile is made to remark :—

"Still, some of the modern pictures are very pretty, don't you think Is and so much more interesting than the old ones. Do you know, I get rather tired of nothing but Madonnas and Holy Families. Of course, they are very nice in their way, and devout and religious and all that but if I had to choose a picture, I'd much rather have a hunting scene or a railway station or a Scotch moor."

We may contrast with this an extract from the statutes of the Painters' Guild of Siena, 1355 :— " Since we are teachers to unlearned men, who know not how to read, of the marvels done by the power and strength of holy religion to the end that in this our calling, however unworthy it may be, we may have a good beginning and a good ending in all our works and deeds, we will earnestly ask the aid of the Divine grace, and commence by a dedication to the honour of the Name, and in the Name, of the most Holy Trinity."

The Church, of course, was originally the sole patron of art, and pictures were the only books the people had to read ; then when the Renaissance came with its wave of classicalism, religion 'began gradually to take a secondary place in art.

Nowadays, judging from the Royal Academy, it seems to

have no place at all; and if the advent of books did away with the religious motive in art, it seems rather hard that we

should be reduced to railway-station pictures now that we

have our Bradshaws.—I am, Sir, &c., E. STOGDON.

Elstree, Herts.