THE MIND OF THE ARTIST ***
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THE MIND OF THE ARTIST
[Illustration: _Rembrandt_ THE POLISH RIDER _Berlin Photographic Co_]
THOUGHTS AND SAYINGS OF PAINTERS AND SCULPTORS ON THEIR ART
COLLECTED & ARRANGED BY MRS. LAURENCE BINYON
WITH A PREFACE BY GEORGE CLAUSEN, R.A.
LONDON CHATTO & WINDUS 1909
_All rights reserved_
It is always interesting and profitable to get the views of workmen on their work, and on the principles which guide them in it; and in bringing together these sayings of artists Mrs. Binyon has done a very useful thing. A great number of opinions are presented, which, in their points of agreement and disagreement, bring before us in the most charming way the wide range of the artist's thought, and enable us to realise that the work of the great ones is not founded on vague caprice or so-called inspiration, but on sure intuitions which lead to definite knowledge; not merely the necessary knowledge of the craftsman, which many have possessed whose work has failed to hold the attention of the world, but also a knowledge of nature's laws.
"The Mind of the Artist" speaks for itself, and really requires no word of introduction. These opinions as a whole, seem to me to have a harmony and consistency, and to announce clearly that the directing impulse must be a desire for expression, that art is a language, and that the thing to be said is of more importance than the manner of saying it. This desire for expression is the driving-force of the artist; it informs, controls, and animates his method of working; it governs the hand and eye. That figures should give the impression of life and spontaneity, that the sun should shine, trees move in the wind, and nature be felt and represented as a living thing--this is the firm ground in art; and in those who have this feeling every effort will, consciously or unconsciously, lead towards its realisation. It should be the starting-point of the student. It does not absolve him from the need of taking the utmost pains, from making the most searching study of his model; rather it impels him, in the examination of whatever he feels called on to represent, to look for the vital and necessary things: and the artist will carry his work to the utmost degree of completion possible to him, in the desire to get at the heart of his theme.
"Truth to nature," like a wide mantle, shelters us all, and covers not only the outward aspect of things, but their inner meanings and the emotions felt through them, differently by each individual. And the inevitable differences of point of view, which one encounters in this book, are but small matters compared with the agreement one finds on essential things; I may instance particularly the stress laid on the observation of nature. Whether the artist chooses to depict the present, the past, or to express an abstract ideal, he must, if his work is to live, found it on his own experience of nature. But he must at every step also refer to the past. He must find the road that the great ones have made, remembering that the problems they solved were the same that he has before him, and that now, no less than in Dürer's time, "art is hidden in nature: it is for the artist to drag her forth."
This little volume, it need hardly be said, does not aim at being complete, in the sense of representing all the artists who have written on art. It is hoped, however, that the sayings chosen will be found fairly representative of what painters and sculptors, typical of their race and time, have said about the various aspects of their work. In making the collection, I have had recourse less to famous comprehensive treatises and expositions of theory like those of Leonardo and of Reynolds, than to the more intimate avowals and working notes contained in letters and diaries, or recorded in memoirs. The selection of these has entailed considerable research; and in tracing what was often by no means easy to find, I wish to acknowledge the kind assistance, especially, of M. Raphael Petrucci, M. Louis Dimier, and Mr. Tancred Borenius. I have also to thank Lady Burne-Jones, Miss Birnie Philip, Mrs. Watts, Mrs. C. W. Furse, Mr. W. M. Rossetti, Mr. J. G. Millais, Mr. Samuel Calvert, and Mr. Sydney Cockerell, for permission to make quotations from Burne-Jones, Whistler, Watts, Furse, D. G. Rossetti, Madox Brown, Millais, Edward Calvert, and William Morris; also Sir Martin Conway, Sir Charles Holroyd, Mrs. Herringham, Mr. E. McCurdy, and Mr. Everard Meynell, for allowing me to use their translations from Dürer, Francisco d'Ollanda (conversations with Michael Angelo), Cennino Cennini, Leonardo, and Corot, respectively.