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to you as to give some brief account. For it is continually said of me, and I observe has been publicly repeated lately by one of my very good friends, that I have “changed my opinions” about painting and architecture. And this, like all the worst of falsehoods, has one little kernel of distorted truth in the heart of it,” which it is practically necessary, now, that you, my Sheffield essayists of St. George's service, should clearly know.
6. All my first books, to the end of the Stones of Venice, were written in the simple belief I had been taught as a child; and especially the second volume of Modern Painters was an outcry of enthusiastic praise of religious painting, in which you will find me placing Fra Angelico (see the closing paragraph of the book) above all other painters.
But during my work at Venice, I discovered the gigantic power of Tintoret,” and found that there was a quite different spirit in that from the spirit of Angelico; and, analysing Venetian work carefully, I found,—and told fearlessly, in spite of my love for the masters,—that there was “no religion whatever in any work of Titian's ; and that Tintoret only occasionally forgot himself into religion.” repeat now, and reaffirm, this statement; but must ask the reader to add to it, what I partly indeed said in other places at the time, that only when Tintoret forgets himself, does he truly find himself. Now
you see that among the four pieces of art I have given you for standards to study, only one is said to be " perfect,”—Titian's. And ever since the Stones of Venice
[Tennyson : The Grandmother, viii. (“A lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies "); quoted also in Vol. VII. p. 352.) . (See Ruskin's letters of 1845 to his father (Vol. IV. p. xxxvii.). ]
(See the Stones of Venice, vol. i. ch. i. $$ 13-14 (Vol. IX. pp. 31-32): “There is no religion in any work of Titian's. ... The mind of Tintoret sometimes forgets itself into devotion ;” and compare Modern Painters, vol. i. (Vol. III. p. 182).]
[Not expressly said ; but implied in the descriptions of Tintoret's paintings in the Scuola di San Rocco : see Vol. IV. pp. 270 seq., and Vol. XI. pp. 403 seq. ; and compare Vol. VII. p. 295.]
(See Letter 66, § 17 (Vol. XXVIII. p. 625).] (See Letter 69, § 15 (Vol. XXVIII. p. 700).]
was written, Titian was given in all my art teaching as a standard of perfection. Conceive the weight of this problem, then, on my inner mind—how the most perfect work I knew, in my special business, could be done “ 'wholly without religion”!
7. I set myself to work out that problem thoroughly in 1858, and arrived at the conclusion—which is an entirely sound one, and which did indeed alter, from that time forward, the tone and method of my teaching,—that human work must be done honourably and thoroughly, because we are now Men;—whether we ever expect to be angels, or ever were slugs, being practically no matter. We are now Human creatures, and must, at our peril, do Human—that is to say, affectionate, honest, and earnest work. *
Farther, I found, and have always since taught, and do teach, and shall teach, I doubt not, till I die, that in resolving to do our work well, is the only sound foundation of any religion whatsoever : and that by that resolution only, and what we have done, and not by our belief, Christ will judge us, as He has plainly told us He will (though nobody believes Him) in the Resurrection.
But, beyond this, in the year 1858, I came to another conclusion, which was a false one.
My work on the Venetians in that year not only convinced me of their consummate power, but showed me that there was a great worldly harmony running through all they did-opposing itself to the fanaticism of the Papacy;
* This is essentially what my friend Mr. Harrison means (if he knew it) by his Religion of Humanity,-one which he will find, when he is slightly more advanced in the knowledge “of all life and thought," was known and acted on in epochs considerably antecedent to that of modern Evolution.
1 [As, for instance, in Two Paths, $ 57 (Vol. XVI. p. 298). ] : (Compare Time and Tide, $ 33 (Vol. XVII. p. 348). ]
3 (Ruskin's note for Index here is “Work, the resolution to do it well, the only true foundation of religion; compare end of Bible of Amiens, ch. iv. § 66."]
* [See, for instance, Matthew vii. 20 seq.]
• (See the passage in Mr. Harrison's letter in Vol. XXVIII. p. 663 (“Thought and life are very wide, and I will listen to the judgment only of those who have patiently weighed the whole of both"), and Ruskin's note upon it (ibid., p. 664). See also, below, p. 568 n.]
and in this worldly harmony of human and artistic power, my own special idol, Turner, stood side by side with Tintoret; so also Velasquez, Sir Joshua, and Gainsborough, stood with Titian and Veronese; and those seven menquite demonstrably and indisputably giants in the domain of Art, of whom in the words of Velasquez himself, “ Tizian z'e quel che porta la Bandiera,”stood, as heads of a great Worldly Army, worshippers of Worldly visible Truth, against (as it seemed then to me), and assuredly distinct from, another sacred army, bearing the Rule of the Catholic Church in the strictest obedience, and headed by Cimabue, Giotto, and Angelico; worshippers not of a worldly and visible Truth, but of a visionary one, which they asserted to be higher; yet under the (as they asserted—supernatural) teaching of the Spirit of this Truth, doing less perfect work than their unassisted opposites !
8. All this is entirely so; fact tremendous in its unity, and difficult enough as it stands to me even now; but as it stood to me then, wholly insoluble, for I was still in the bonds of my old Evangelical faith ; and, in 1858, it was with me, Protestantism or nothing: the crisis of the whole turn of my thoughts being one Sunday morning, at Turin, when, from before Paul Veronese's Queen of Sheba,” and under quite overwhelmed sense of his God-given power, I went away to a Waldensian chapel, where a little squeaking idiot was preaching to an audience of seventeen old women and three louts,* that they were the only children of God in Turin; and that all the people in Turin outside the chapel, and all the people in the world out of sight of Monte Viso, would be damned. I came out of the chapel, in sum of twenty years of thought, a conclusively un-converted man-converted by this little Piedmontese gentleman, so powerful in his organ-grinding, inside-out, as it
* Counted at the time ;-I am not quite sure now if seventeen or eighteen.
(" Titian it is who bears the banner.” See The Two Paths, Lecture II., "The Unity of Art,” § 69 (Vol. XVI. p. 313).]
* [For a photogravure from this picture, see Vol. XVI., Plate III.]
“Here is an end to my Mother-Law' of Protestantism anyhow I-and now-what is there left ?”] You will find what was left, as, in much darkness and sorrow of heart I gathered it, variously taught in my books, written between 1858 and 1874. It is all sound and good, as far as it goes : whereas all that went before was so mixed with Protestant egotism and insolence, that, as you have probably heard, I won't republish, in their first form, any of those former books. * 2
9. Thus then it went with me till 1874, when I had lived sixteen full years with “the religion of Humanity,” for rough and strong and sure foundation of everything; but on that, building Greek and Arabian superstructure, taught me at Venice, full of sacred colour and melancholy shade. Which is the under meaning of my answer to the Capuchin (Fors, Aug. 1875, § 2o), that I was “more a Turk than a Christian.” The Capuchin insisted, as you see, nevertheless that I might have a bit of St. Francis's cloak : which accepting thankfully, I went on to Assisi, and there, by the kindness of my good friend Padre Tini, and others, I was allowed (and believe I am the first painter who ever was allowed) to have scaffolding erected above the high altar, and therefore above the body of St. Francis which lies in the lower chapel beneath it; and thence to draw
* Not because I am ashamed of them, nor because their Art teaching is wrong (it is precisely the Art teaching which I am now gathering out of the Stones of Venice, and will gather, God willing, out of Modern Painters, and reprint and reaffirm every syllable of); but the Religious teaching of those books, and all the more for the sincerity of it, is misleading-sometimes even poisonous; always, in a manner, ridiculous; and shall not stand in any editions of them republished under my own supervision.
[Compare Præterita, vol. iii. ch. i. § 23, and the Introduction to Vol. VII. of this edition, pp. xl., xli.]
· [Thus Modern Painters, in its complete form, was not republished (after 1873) till 1888. For the plans, here referred to, see Vol. III. pp. xlvii., xlix. Seven Lamps was not republished between 1855 and 1880, and the edition of the latter year contained many deprecatory notes by the author. The Stones of Venice was republished in its first form in 1874; it is the rearranged “ Travellers' Edition" of 1879-1881 which Ruskin here projects.]
. [Letter 56, Vol. XXVIII. p. 385.)
what I could of the great fresco of Giotto, “The marriage of Poverty and Francis.” *
And while making this drawing, I discovered the fallacy under which I had been tormented for sixteen years,—the fallacy that Religious artists were weaker than Irreligious. I found that all Giotto's “weaknesses (so called) were merely absences of material science. He did not know, and could not, in his day, so much of perspective as Titian, so much of the laws of light and shade, or so much of technical composition. But I found he was in the make of him, and contents, a very much stronger and greater man than Titian; that the things I had fancied easy in his work, because they were so unpretending and simple, were nevertheless entirely inimitable; that the Religion in him, instead of weakening, had solemnized and developed every faculty of his heart and hand; and finally that his work, in all the innocence of it, was yet a human achievement and possession, quite above everything that Titian had ever done!
“But what is all this about Titian and Angelico to you,” are you thinking? “We belong to cotton millsiron mills ;-what is Titian to us ! —and to all men. Heirs only of simial life, what Angelico ?”
Patience—yet for a little while. They shall both be at least something to you before St. George's Museum is six months older.
* The drawing I made of the Bride is now in the Oxford schools, and the property of those schools, and King Alfred. But I will ask the Trustees to lend it to the Sheffield Museum, till I can copy it for you, of which you are to observe, please, that it had to be done in a dark place, from a fresco on a vaulted roof which could no more be literally put on a flat surface than the figures on a Greek vase.
[See Letter 7, § 14 (Vol. XXVII. p. 128).} : [The drawing, however, was not given to Oxford, nor was it sent to Sheffield. Ruskin seems to have sent it to America in 1879 (see, in a later volume, the letter to Professor Norton of February 27), but it does not figure in the Catalogue of the American Exhibition (Vol. XIII. pp. 582 seq.). Studies of the fresco were included in the Bond Street Exhibition of 1878 (ibid., p. 527). As Ruskin's copy is not available, a photographic reproduction of the fresco has been given (Plate I., Vol. XXVIII. p. 164). “King Alfred” was associated in Ruskin's mind with his Oxford schools, because of Alfred's supposed foundation of the University.,, Thus, in the schools, the Oxford fritillary was called “King Alfred's Dew-flower” (Vol. XXI. p. 76).]