display unbounded admiration, unqualified by even the slightest suspicion of dissent,
It may be contended, of course, and with reason, that, in the first place, all styles were based on Nature, whether confessedly or not ; and that even those of Oriental origin, in which the imitation of natural forms was most rigidly prohibited by religious dictates, give indisputable evidence of their inspiration from the same source. Precisely so. But it must be remembered that the detail of all styles—which consisted in most cases of the decorative rendering of leaves, flowers, fruit, husks, berries, etc., gathered or plucked straight from the garden, field, or hedgerow—in its pristine state partook very largely of the charm and freshness of the originals. In the course of centuries that charm and freshness have been lost by reason of incessant and ignorant copying, and lifeless repetition of copies. They have become, in a great measure, a flat " and uninteresting; their bloom has been sacrificed by too much handling and re-serving, as would happen to the daintiest creation of the greatest chej if subjected to a similar course of treatment.
If practical demonstration of the truth of this contention be demanded, let the doubter take the first acanthus scroll conceived and drawn by the old Italian artist, in sunny Florence or Venice, who had a curling bunch of fresh-plucked bank ursine, with its spiky serrations, veining, and elusive twists and turns before him, and compare it with the carefully stippled drawing or plaster study of precisely the same detail but taken " from the cast" by the art school " National Medallists " of to-day. Are they the same ? The Medallist undoubtedly does the very best he is able to do according to the prevailing system of study ; and let me say most emphatically that it is the system, and not the student, which is to be blamed. So it must always be, unless the artist goes straight to the fountain-head instead of being content to receive his supply of inspiration through old,
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