partake, in every particular, of that absolute sense of fitness which is to be found to perfection in Nature alone.
With the painter and the pictorial artist the case is entirely different. They may copy, as closely as they may be disposed or able, and with pre-Raphaelite minuteness if they possess the patience ; and the more faithful in every respect their copies are to the great original, the more perfect are they likely to be. The disciples of applied art are not by any means so situated—very frequently they wish sincerely that they were. Their ideas are not destined finally to be interpreted by means of pen, pencil, or brush, upon card, paper, canvas, or any other passive material capable of receiving them without presenting any appreciable obstacles. Those ideas have to be wrought in metals, precious and base ; to be tortured into beauty of form and richness of effect by means of the forge, crucible, melting-pot, hammer, pincers, graver, and many another instrument devised to subdue the materials' stubborn natures. For the interpretation of those ideas, the whole equipment of the saw-mill and joiner's factories, with their wondrous machinery, cutters, fitters, carvers, inlayers, painters, enamellers, and polishers, are ready and waiting ; the potters' kilns, lathes, moulds, and pastes ; the glass-blowers' furnaces, crucibles, and pipes, all have their part to play ; while, in great weaving-sheds, the looms are prepared for the reception of newly-filled bobbins, shuttles, and fresh-cut."cards/' in order that they, too, may be set in motion, to contribute their quota towards the ultimate beautification of the home.
Thus it is that the- decorative artist—or, to speak more precisely, the applied artist—is bound and restricted at almost every step by harassing conditions, many of which are most difficult to understand and to obey in practice. If he is to prove successful in the profession of his choice, he must do far more than merely supplement the possession of the creative spirit, or genius—call it what you will—by the the "new art" in france 289
acquisition of skill in drawing, and a knowledge of the cardinal principles of design. In addition to all this—and it is, of course, a sine qua non—he must make himself acquainted with the dry technicalities of those manufacturing processes connected with the particular crafts or trades through the medium of which he intends the fancies of his brain to be brought to light in the tangible form he wishes them to assume ; technicalities that dictate to him what he may, and what he may not, do ; laying down their inviolable laws with that exactitude which we generally associate with the traditional government of the oft-quoted Medes and Persians of oid. It is here that the great difficulty arises. Ideas which, when skilfully carried into effect, may be passing beautiful in one metal, cannot be successfully interpreted in another ; in wood their execution would be quite impossible ; while to render them in pottery, glass, or textile fabrics may be equally out of the question. Yet, they could, one and all, be presented to the eye with the most scrupulous exactitude by means of the pen, pencil, or brush. In the foregoing explanation is, I think, summed up the vital difference that subsists between those distinct expressions of art commonly distinguished by the descriptions, " Fine," " Illustrative/' " Decorative," and " Applied," but it is a difference whose very existence is but little known to, and therefore not appreciated by, the public at large.
Yet again, the applied artist spends, or is supposed to spend, his life in racking his brains for the production of designs the only reason for the existence of which is that they shall, in the end, serve some distinct, and, in the vast majority of cases, useful purpose which has been duly specified, understood, and provided for from the first. All °ther conditions having been fulfilled, it is for him to see, if he desire, of course, to do the best that lies within his power, that the particular purpose in view, with its individual requirements, whatever they may chance to be, is
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