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as though the field were bashful at its own beauty. They enter watered valleys where many less trees, twining about the greater, and the golden-coloured flowers of the one, woven as it were with the green boughs of the other, made a goodly sight and delight. But, throughout, myrtle and sycamore, grain in its green youth or yellow maturity, blueness of river and waterpool, flush of rose blossom, and gilt embroidery of climbing flowers, are merely the exquisitely devised framework to those china figures which in pastoral prose, play, or lyric represent ' l'être humain.' Even Andrew Marvel, true lover of the earth, familiar and intimate lover as few men are-(No leaf does tremble in the wind, Which *I, returning, cannot find ')-cannot divest garden, park, or meadow of that same tincture of intrusive humanity. With his own mower he sees in all the mirror of his own thought:
My mind was once the true survey
Did see its hopes as in a glass. And so in the works of one and all of his pastoral predecessors and contemporaries the spectator of nature is for ever in the picture he makes of her. Earth is simplyalmost solely-regarded in its relationship to a sentiment, as the environment befitting the portrayal of a personality, as the stage for the enacting of a love-scene or griefscene of human emotion. Tree, leaf, fruit, and flower, and herb are in the picture not because they exist, far less as they exist (the touch of exaggeration, the fields whose blades of grass ‘had a flower on either side,' is seldom wholly absent), but because they are needed to supply the requisite touch of colour to the décor du théâtre of the pastoral playactor, to accentuate, as they do with the unfailing instinct for effect characteristic of their best days, the gaiety of fantastic melancholies, or the decorative sadness of lamenting lover or forsaken lady, to point a metaphor or institute a comparison of compliment.
It is not a long day's journey from such fancy landscapes of imaginative literature, from the sylvan scenes, the woodlands and groves, where Silvanus wept or Pyrocles wooed, from Marvel's sheepcotes and meadows and gardens of flower-beds and cut lawns-although as century merges into century there is some faint and intermittent foreboding of the healthless self-consciousness of years to be—to that school of French painting of the first three quarters of the eighteenth century, of which the influence was destined to
abodiment of manner regard. The idealias
leave as clear, if not as indelible, a mark upon the pages of æsthetic history as that left by the Dutch painters of the seventeenth century.
In the French renaissance a new phase of imaginative landscape was to supplant the elder transcendental idealism of her two master-painters of the preceding century, Claude Lorrain and Poussin. It was a phase which may be distinguished as the idealism of artificiality. In the ideal landscape of le paysage historique, it is still possible to trace some elemental affinities with the long-past phase of symbolic art in its attitude of mind towards nature. Symbolism—the symbolism of days when, as it has been described, the imagination of the world, like the Holy Child, held in its hands the Creator's globe-regarded nature as
the apparent picture of unapparent realities. The idealist after something of the same manner regarded nature as the apparent embodiment of unapparent ideals: ideals of what nature should be represented as being, a perfection of symmetry, of harmony, of grace, dignity, and beauty. For the vision of gods secreted in her forms he substituted the visions, the conceptions of his own imaginations of surpassing excellence. He occupied himself, not as men of old with the relationship of nature to the divinities of earth, air, and flood, but with its relationship to these creations of his own mind, superimposed by him on nature. Persistently, though clothed outwardly in a far other and almost unrecognisable garb, one root principle was persistently-as it is the way of all root principles-playing its undying part in Time's long masquerade. The fixed habit of dwelling upon nature in its connexion with things outside, within or beyond itself, was still active, if incognito, and the result was, in kind if not in degree, the same. The mental vision transformed, nullified, or obliterated the vision of the eye, and readjusted, according to its own will, that exterior aspect of the earth for which we have been taught to claim a presumptuous monopoly of reality. Indeed, the sense of sight, dual in its mental and physical qualities, was destined in matters of art to prove as a house divided against itself; the intellectual and ideal conception of nature warring continuously, with many alternating episodes of defeat and of victory, over the exterior perceptions of the eye. And if in some instances the conflict was suspended, if in a Turnerian painting or in a Wordsworthian descriptive passage, the imaginative conception by force of a rare instinct of intuitive truth was wholly at one with the
actuality of which it was the counterpart, where no severance, no dividing line, is traceable between the image thought and the image seen, such perfect equilibrium is for the most part strictly confined to the possession of the few whose genius bears à double face of truth. It must be counted with apart, and the predominance of the impulses of conception or perception must broadly be accepted as determining the classification of the majority of individual artists, relegating them to the ranks of idealism, or assigning them their place amongst the schools of realism.
But if the elder painters were, as we may conceive, removed from nature's actualities by the spiritual barrier of an imaginative ideal, the painters of the eighteenth century were severed from her by that far more insurmountable barrier, an artificial idealism. They were as actors playing their parts in a play within a play, the copy of a copy, twice removed from life. Their forest glades, their woodland lawns were but as a 'scène agreste au rideau 'vert.' The last note, even to its last echo, of romance, had died away-romance with its passions good and evil, with its hates of the sword and its loves of body, soul, and spirit, its red-handed faiths and its white-shrined worships, had passed into the land of the forgotten, its claim to be believed in as the ideal reality was once and for all repudiated. The serene and sunny seriousness of early pastoral sentiment, the faint aroma of chivalry still clinging to its skirts, had wholly evaporated, its claim to be accepted as the ideal of sentimental fancy had been for ever and aye set aside. But the genius of French wit, the wit at once brilliant, frivolous, and keen, the wit of fans and rouge-pots and flowers and knives, invented as its characteristic pastime in place of romance and pastoral, the fairy tale. In that creation of a world of tinsel imagination, of elaborate grace, of sharpedged sous-entendre, of delicate superficiality, of decorative unrealities, of all the possible artificiality of loveliness, stage prince and stage princess, painted ivories of courtiers, kings, marionnette herdsmen and shepherdesses, passed to and fro upon an earth unrecognisable in its etherialised superficiality. In the pictures of Anthony Watteau, the love-poet of eighteenth-century painting, the same spirit moves and breathes and invents. There Harlequin and Columbine, Pierrot and Scaramouche and Mezzotin, and the guitar and the mandolin player are the actors, the earth they dwell in exists only as in a transformation scene. It is in very truth landscape in relation, and in relation only, to love's
the the life of "nature in relation, coloured like
lightest play-acting, to the levities of passion, to hearts of painted thistledown whose web of life is gossamer set on fire with Christmas crackers, with for background “une • terre complice, des bois galants . . . un pays double,
peuplé de figures qui n'ont que des yeux et des bouches,
une flamme et un sourire. It is nature verily seen by limelight. A nature of transparent waters leaf-green under their tree-canopies of closely interwoven branches, a nature of gold-dusted air, of sunlit distances, of faint rubytinted haze, of emerald-tinged dusks, a nature coloured like gems under a film of dew, nature in relation, strict relation, not with the life of gods, not with the life of heroes, not even with the life of men, but nature in relation to the counterfeits of life, the life at second hand, of the Comédie Française. It is nature, an out-of-door magic lantern show, an opal-hued, shifting, sun-shafted fantasia, lovely with the loveliness of which soap bubbles are made, where the densest network of summer boughs shows rifts through which the blue of inmeasurably far-off heaven burns like a steadfast sapphire, a stable infinity outstretched above the playground of the sons and daughters of Time's most ephemeral of days. Yet, and therein lies its distinction from all such other artificialities as well as from all the calm idealities of a Claude, it is a playground in a cemetery, it is nature with the scar of a human life drawn across the canvas. "L'homme passe au travers de son cuvre. It is the life of Watteau himself, the great painter of little things, sombre et mélancolique,' as his contemporary biographer sets him before us; Anthony Watteau, fevered, restless, solitary, always conscious that “la plus belle des • fleurs ne dure qu'un matin,' who paints his scènes galantes with the warning, with a sting in the laughter, Belle,
n'écoutez rien, Arlequin est un traître ;' Watteau, the piper who plays that others may dance, who spreads the feast that others may revel, the singer who sings the love songs of other men's lips, the prince of court painters of whom it was said that 'la pureté de ses mours lui
permettoit à peine de jouir du libertinage de son esprit,' and who remained to the end the tragic spectator of all that riot of grace and glamour, of gaiety and frivolity, of the pleasure, the sweetness, the folly and the license of which his works are the incarnate, the glorified, and the pitiless embodiment.
Watteau invented in the religion of beauty the canonisation of triviality. Other men were swift, even during his
lifetime, to fashion themselves letter by letter, line by line, upon his invention. Il asservit à sa manière, à son goût, à
son optique toute la peinture du xviiie siècle.' The unreality of Watteau's imagination became the unreality of mere invention, the invention of copyists. The ideal in art became under their hands definitely transmuted into the fanciful in the works of a Lancret or a Pater. Claude and the idealists of his school had transposed, it may be falsified, nature into a harmony of dignity; it was now transposed into a harmony of levity consonant with its themes, Fêtes Champêtres, Fêtes Galantes, Rendez-vous, Conversations, Entretiens, Leçons, Plaisirs, Bergers, Amoureux. •Paysagiste,' wrote M. de Goncourt, speaking of Boucher as the impersonification of the spirit of his time, « il ne semble avoir d'autre préoccupation que celle de sauver " à son temps l'ennui de la nature.' Landscape had reached the zenith of voluntary and resolute unveracity of form, colour, and sentiment. In the absoluteness of its artificiality it triumphed over realism—a realism which in art can be at best only relative, comparative, and approximate, a half truth inevitably tainted with the fallibility of humanity as opposed to those frauds which may attain a perfection almost unadulterated by any admixture of truth.
M. André Michel has sketched succinctly the succeeding phase of landscape when the old order died amidst the clamours of the Revolution, when the knife of the guillotine had done its work, and the painters of the Republic, Valenciennes and his continuateurs,' had established the new classicism with its regulated compositions, its choix • de sujets propres à embellir le paysage. But Jean-Jacques Rousseau with his famous 'discovery of nature,' Bernardin de Saint-Pierre with his demand for new terms, a new phraseology for use in ‘l'art nouveau de rendre la nature' (nos premiers maîtres paysagistes en littérature,' as Eugène Fromentin calls them), had not sown the seed of doctrine in vain. In the very city where artificiality had reigned in all its tinsel glories, spreading its infection far and wide through the whole arena of what has been called “l'Europe • française du xviiie siècle,' naturalism in its most complete duality was to be reborn. Claude [b. 1600], Watteau [b. 1684), Corot [b. 1796]—the three names may well stand out for the lay reader of all histories of modern art as typical artists of three of the greatest schools of postrenaissance painting. In Claude the imagination of the seventeenth century reached its height of idealism; in