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ALBERT DURER 1 CONTENTS PREFACE PART I CONCERNING GENERAL IDEAS IMPORTANT TO THE ¨ COMPREHENSION OF DURER’S LIFE AND ART I. THE IDEA OF PROPORTION II THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON THE CREATIVE IMPULSE PART II ¨ DURER’S LIFE IN RELATION TO THE TIMES IN WHICH HE LIVED I. DURER’S ORIGIN, YOUTH, AND EDUCATION II. ¨HE WORLD IN WHICH HE LIVED III. DURER AT VENICE IV. HIS PATRONS AND FRIENDS 2 ¨ V. DURER, LUTHER, AND THE HUMANISTS VI. DURER’S JOURNEY TO THE NETHERLANDS VII. DURER’S LAST YEARS PART III DURER AS A CREATOR I. DURER’S PICTURES II. DURER’S PORTRAITS ¨ III. DURER’S DRAWINGS IV. DURER’S METAL ENGRAVINGS V. DURER’S WOODCUTS VI. DURER’S INFLUENCES AND VERSES PART IV ¨ DURER’S IDEAS I. THE IDEA OF A CANON OF PROPORTION FOR THE HUMAN FIG- URE II. THE IMPORTANCE OF DOCILITY III. THE LAST TRADITION IV. BEAUTY V. NATURE VI. THE CHOICE OF AN ARTIST VII. TECHNICAL PRECEPTS VIII. IN CONCLUSION ILLUSTRATIONS Apollo and Diana, Metal Engraving Water-colour drawing of a Hare Pilate Washing his Hands. Metal Engraving Agnes Frey ”Mein Angnes” Wilibald Pirkheimer Hans Burgkmair Adoration of the Trinity St. Christopher Assumption of the Magdalen D¨rer’s Mother Maximilian 3 Frederick the Wise Silver-point Portrait Erasmus Drawing of a Lion Lucas van der Leyden Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate. Metal Engraving St. George and St. Eustache Martyrdom of Ten Thousand Saints Road to Calvary Portrait of ¨rer Portrait of ¨rer Albert D¨rer the Elder Gswolt Krel Portrait at Hampton Court Portrait of a Lady Michel Wolgemuth Hans Imhof ”Jakob Muﬀel” Study of a Hound Memento Mei Silver-point Portrait Portrait in Black Chalk Cherub for a Cruciﬁxion Apollo and Diana An Old Castle Melancholia Detail from ”The Agony in the Garden” Angel with Sudarium The Small Horse The Great Fortune, or Nemesis Silver-point Drawing St. Michael and the Dragon Detail from ”The Meeting at the Golden Gate” Detail from ”The Nativity” Du¨rer’s Armorial Bearings Christ haled before Annas The Last Supper Saint Antony, Metal Engraving ”In the Eighteenth Year” ”Una Vilana Wendisch” Charcoal Drawing PART I CONCERNING GENERAL IDEAS IMPORTANT TO THE COMPREHEN- ¨ SION OF DURER’S LIFE 4 AND ART CHAPTER I THE IDEA OF PROPORTION I Ich hab vernomen wie der siben weysen aus kriechenland ainer gelert hab das dymass in allen dingen sitlichen und naturlichen das pest sey. DURER, British Museum MS., vol. iv., 82a. I have heard how one of the Seven Sages of Greece taught that measure is in all things, physical and moral, best. La souveraine habilete consistea bien connaitre le prix des choses. LA ROCHEFOUCAULD, III. 252. Sovereign skill consists in thoroughly understanding the value of things. The attempt that the last quarter century has witnessed, to introduce the methods of science into the criticism of works of art, has tended, it seems to me, to put the question of their value into the background. The easily scandalous inquiries, ”Who?” ”When?” ”Where?” have assumed an impertinent predominance. When I hear people very decidedly asserting that such a picture was painted by such an one, not generally supposed to be the author, at such a time, &c. &c., I often feel uneasy in the same way as one does on being addressed in a loud voice in a church or a picture gallery, where other persons are absorbed in an acknowledged and respected contemplation or study. I feel inclined to blush and whisper, for fear of being supposed to know the speaker too well. It is an awkward moment with me, for I am in fact very good friends with many such persons. ”Sovereign skill consists in thoroughly understanding the value of things”–not their commercial value only, though that is sovereign skill on the Exchange, but their value for those whose chief riches are within them. The value of works of art is an intimate experience, and cannot be estimated by the methods of exact science as the weight of a planet can. There are and have been forgeries that are more beautiful, therefore more valuable, than genuine specimens of the class of work which they ﬁgure as. I feel that the specialist, with his special measure and point of view, often endangers the fair name and good repute of the real estimate; and that nothing but the dominion and diﬀusion of general ideas can defend us against the specialist and keep the specialist from being carried away by bad habits resulting from his 5 devotion to a single inquiry. There was one general idea, of the greatest importance in determining the true value of things, which preoccupied Du ¨rer’s mind and haunted his imagination: the idea of proportion. I propose therefore to attempt to make clear to myself and my readers what the idea of proportion really implies, and of what service a sense for proportion really is; secondly, to determine the special use of the term in relation to the appreciation of works of art; thirdly, in relation to their internal structure;–before proceeding to the special studies of Du ¨rer as a man and an artist. II I conceive the human reason to be the antagonist of all known forces other than itself, and that therefore its most essential character is the hope and desire to control and transform the universe; or, failing that, to annihilate, if not the universe, at least itself and the consciousness of a monster fact which it entirely condemns. In this conception I believe myself to be at one with those by whom men have been most inﬂuenced, and who, with or without conﬁdence in the support of unknown powers, have set themselves deliberately against the face of things to die or conquer. This being so, and man individually weak, it has been the avowed object of great characters–carrying with them the instinctive consent of nations–to establish current values for all things, according as their imagination could turn them to account as eﬀective aids of reason: that is, as they could be made to advance her apparent empire over other elemental forces, such as motion, physical life, &c. This evaluation, in so far as it is constant, results in what we call civilisation, and is the only bond of society. With diﬃculty is the value of new acquisitions recognised even in the realm of science, until the imagination can place them in such a light as shall make them appear to advance reason’s ends, which accounts for the reluctance that has been shown to accept many scientiﬁc results. Reason demands that the world she would create shall be a fact, and declares that the world she would transform is the real world, but until the imagination can ﬁnd a function for it in reason’s ideal realm, every piece of knowledge remains useless, or even an obstacle in the way of our intended advance. This applies to individuals just as truly as it does to mankind. And since man’s reason is a natural phenomenon and does apparently belong to the class of elemental forces, this warfare against the apparent fact, and the fortitude and hope which its whole-hearted prosecution begets, appear as a natural law to the intelligence and as a command and promise to the reason. The alternative between the will to cease and the will to serve reason, with which I start out, may not seem necessary to all. ”Forgive their sin–and if not, blot me I pray thee out of thy book,” was Moses’ prayer; and to me it seems that only by lethargy can any soul escape from facing this alternative. The human mind in so far as it is active 6 always postulates, ”Let that which I desire come to pass, or let me cease!” Nor is there any diversity possible as to what really is desirable: Man desires the full and harmonious development of his faculties. As to how this end may most probably be attained, there is diversity enough to represent every possible blend of ignorance with knowledge, of lethargy with energy, of cowardice with courage. ”So endless and exorbitant are the desires of men, whether considered in their persons or their states, that they will grasp at all, and can form no scheme of perfect happiness with less.” So writes the most powerful of English prose-writers. And this hope and desire, which is reason, once thrown down, the most powerful among poets has brought from human lips this estimate of life– ”It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” No one knows whether reason’s object will or can be attained; but for the present each man ﬁnds conﬁdence and encouragement in so far as he is able to imagine all things working together for the good of those who desire good–in short, for ”reasonable beings.” The more he knows, the greater labour it is for him to imagine this; but the more he concentrates his faculties on doing good and creating good things, the more his imagination glows and shines and discovers to him new possibilities of success: the better he is able to ﬁnd– ”Sermons in stones and good in everything;” ”And make a moral of the devil himself.” But how is it that reason can accept an imagination that makes what in a cold light she considers her enemy, appear her friend? All things impress the mind with two contradictory notions–their actual condition and their perfection. Even the worst of its kind impresses on us an idea of what the best would be, or we could not know it for the worst. Reason, then, seizes on this aspect of things which suggests their perfection, and awards them her attention in proportion as such aspect makes their perfection seem near, or as it may further her in transforming the most pressing of other evils. All life tends to aﬃrm its own character; and the essential characteristic of man is reason, which labours to perfect all things that he judges to be good, and to transform all evil. Ultimate results are out of sight for all human faculties except the early-waking eyes of long-chastened hope; but reason loves this visionary mood, though she prefer that it be sung, and ﬁnd that less lyrical speech brings on it something of ridicule; for such a rendering betrays, as a rule, faint desire or small power to serve her in those who use it. The sense of proportion, then, is that ﬁneness of susceptibility by which we appreciate in a given object, person, force, or mood, 7 serviceableness in regard to reason’s work; in other words, by which we estimate the capacity to transform the Universe in such a way that men may ultimately be enabled to give their hearty consent to its existence, which at present no man rationally can. III Now, art appeals to ﬁne susceptibilities; for, as I have explained elsewhere, the value of works of art depends on their having come as ”real and intimate experiences to a large number of gifted men”–men who have some kinship to that ”ﬁnely touched and gifted man, the [Greek heuphnaes ] of the Greeks,” to use the phrase of our greatest modern critic. And in so far as we are able to judge between works successfully making such an appeal, we must be governed by this sense of proportion, which measures how things stand in regard to reason; that is, not merely intellect, not merely emotion, but the alliance of both by means of the imagination in aid of man’s most central demand–the demand for nobler life. Perhaps I ought to point out before proceeding, that this position is not that of the writers on art most in view at the present day. It is the negation of the so-called scientiﬁc criticism, and also of the personal theory that reduces art to an expression of, and an appeal to, individual temperaments; it is the assertion of the sovereignty of the aesthetic conscience on exactly the same grounds as sovereignty is claimed for the moral conscience. Æsthetics deals with the morality of appeals addressed to the senses. That is, it estimates the success of such appeals in regard to the promotion of fuller and more harmonious life. Flaubert wrote: ”Le genie n’est pas rare maintenant, mais ce que personne n’a plus et ce qu’il faut tacher d’avoir, c’est la conscience.” (”Genius is not rare nowadays, but conscience is what nobody has and what one should strive after.”) To-day I am thinking of a painter. Painting is an art addressed primarily to the eye, and not to the intelligence, not to the imagination, save as these may be reached through the eye–that most delicate organ of inﬁnite susceptibility, which teaches us the meaning of the word light–a word so often uttered with stress of ecstasy, of longing, of despair, and of every other shade of emotion, that the sound of it must soon be almost as powerful with the young heart, almost as immediate in its eﬀect, as the break of day itself, gladdening the eyes and glorifying the earth. And how often is this joy received through the eye entrusted back to it for expression? For the eye can speak with varieties, delicacies, and subtle shades of motion far beyond the attainment of any other organ. ”This art of painting is made for the eyes, for sight is the noblest sense of man,” says Du¨rer; and again: 8 ”It is ordained that never shall any man be able, out of his own thoughts, to make a beautiful ﬁgure, unless, by much study, he hath well stored his mind. That then is no longer to be called his own; it is art acquired and learnt, which soweth, waxeth, and beareth fruit after its kind. Thence the gathered secret treasure of the heart is manifested openly in the work, and the new creature which a man createth in his heart, appeareth in the form of a thing.” Yes, indeed, the function of art is far from being conﬁned to telling us what we see, whatever some may pretend, or however naturally any small nature may desire to continue, teach, or regulate great ones. All so-called scientiﬁc methods of creating or criticising works of art are inadequate, because the only truly scientiﬁc statements that can be made about these inquiries are that nothing is certain–that no method ensures success, and that no really important quality can be deﬁned; for what man can say why one cloud is more beautiful than another in the same sky, any more than he can explain why, of two men equally absorbed in doing their duty, one impresses him as being more holy than the other? The degrees essential to both kinds of judgment escape all deﬁnition; only the imagination can at times bring them home to us, only the reﬁned taste or chastened conscience, as the case may be, witnesses with our spirit that its judgment is just, and bids us recognise a master in him who delivers it. As the expression on a face speaks to a delicate sense, often communicating more, other, and better than can be seen, so the proportion, harmony, rhythm of a painting may beget moods and joys that require the full resources of a well-stored mind and disciplined character in order that they may be fully relished–in brief, demand that maturity of reason which is the mark of victorious man. Such being my conception, it will easily be perceived how anxious I must be to truly discern and express the relation between such objects as works of art by common consent so highly honoured, and at the same time so active in their eﬀect upon the most exquisitely endowed of mankind. Especially since to-day caprice, humour and temperament are, by the majority of writers on art, acclaimed for the radical characteristic of the human creative faculty, instead of its perversion and disease; and it is thought that to be whimsical, moody, or self-indulgent best ﬁts a man both to create and appraise works of art, whereas to become so really is the only way in which a man capable of such high tasks can with certainty ruin and degrade his faculties. Precious, surpassingly precious indeed, must every manifestation of such faculty before its ﬁnal extinction remain, since the race produces comparatively few endowed after this kind. Perhaps a suﬃcient illustration of this prevalent fallacy may be drawn from Mr. Whistler’s ”Ten O’Clock,” where he speaks of art: ”A whimsical goddess, and a capricious, her strong sense of joy tolerates no dulness, and, live we never so spotlessly, still may she 9 turn her back upon us.” ”As from time immemorial, she has done upon the Swiss in their mountains.” Here is no proof of caprice, save on the witty writer’s part; for men who fast are not saved from bad temper, nor have the kindly necessarily discreet tongues. The Swiss may be brave and honest, and yet dull. Virtue is her own reward, and art her own. Virtue rewards the saint, art the artist; but men are rewarded for attention to morality by some measure of joy in virtue, for attention to beauty by some measure of joy in works of art. Between the artist and the Philistine is no great gulf ﬁxed, in the sense that the witty ”master of the butterﬂy” pretends to assume, but an inﬁnite and gentle decline of persons representing every possible blend of the virtues and faults of these two types. Again, an artist is miscalled ”master of art.” ”Where he is, there she appears,” is airy impudence. ”Where she wills to be, there she chooses a man to serve her,” would not only have been more gallant but more reasonable; for that ”The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit,” and that ”many are called, few chosen,” are sayings as true of the inﬂuence which kindleth art as of that which quickeneth to holiness. Art is not digniﬁed by being called whimsical–or capricious. What can a man explain? The intention, behind the wind, behind the spirit, behind the creative instinct, is dark. But man is true to his own most essential character when, if he cannot refrain from prating of such mysteries, he qualiﬁes them as hope would have him, with the noblest of his virtues; not when he speaks of the unknown, in whose hands his destiny so largely rests, slightingly, as of a woman whom he has seduced because he despised her–calling her capricious because she answered to his caprice, whimsical, because she was as ﬂighty as his error. It is not art’s function to reward virtue. But, caprices and whimseys being ascribed to a goddess, it will be natural to expect them in her worshipper; and Mr. Whistler revealed the limitations of his genius by whimseys and caprice. Though it was in their relations to the world that this goddess and her devotee claimed freedoms so far from perfect, yet this, their avowed characteristic abroad, I think in some degree disturbed their domestic relations, Though others have underlined the absurdity of this theory by applying themselves to it with more faith and less sense, I have chosen to quote from the ”Ten O’Clock,” because I admire it and accept most of the ideas about art advanced therein. The artist who wrote it was able, in Du ¨rer’s phrase, ”to prove” what he wrote ”with his hand.” Most of those who have elaborated what was an occasional unsoundness of his doctrine into ridiculous religions are as unable to create as they are to think; there is no need to record names which it is wisdom to forget. But it may be well to point out that Mr. Whistler does not succeed in glorifying great artists when he declares that beauty ”to them was as much a matter of certainty and triumph as is to the astronomer the veriﬁcation of the result, foreseen with the light granted to him alone.” No, he only sets 10 up a false analogy; for the true parallel to the artist is the saint, not the astronomer; both are convinced, neither understands. Art is no more the reward of intelligence than of virtue. She permits no caprice in her own realm. Loyalty is the only virtue she insists on, loyalty in regard to her servant’s experience of beauty; he may be immoral in every other way and she not desert him; but let him turn Balaam and declare beauty absent where he feels its presence–though in doing this he hopes to advance virtue or knowledge, she needs no better than an ass to rebuke him. Nothing eﬀects more for anarchy than these notions that art derives from individual caprice, or defends virtue, or demonstrates knowledge; for they are all based on those ﬂattering hopes of the unsuccessful, that chance, rules both in life and art, or that it is possible to serve two masters. Doctrines often repeated gain easy credence; and, since art demands leisure in order to be at all enjoyed, ideas about it, in so fatiguing a life as ours has become, take men oﬀ their guard, when their habitual caution is laid to sleep, and, by an over-easiness, they are inclined to spoil both their sense of distinction and their children. Yes, they consent to theatres that degrade them, because they distract and amuse; and read journals that are smart and diverting at the expense of dignity and truth–in the same way as they smile at the child whom reason bids them reprove, and with the like tragic result; for they become incapable of enjoying works of art, as the child is incapacitated for the best of social intercourse. To prophesy smooth things to people in this condition, and ﬂatter their dulness, is to be no true friend; and so the modern art-critic and journalist is often the insidious enemy of the civilisation he contents. Nothing strikes the foreigner coming to England more than our lack of general ideas. Our art criticism is no exception; it, like our literature and politics, is happy-go-lucky and delights in the pot-shot. We often hear this attributed admiringly to ”the sporting instinct.” ”If God, in his own time, granteth me to write something further about matters connected with painting, I will do so, in hope that this art may not rest upon use and wont alone, but that in time it may be taught on true and orderly principles, and may be understood to the praise of God and the use and pleasure of all lovers of art.” Our art is still worse oﬀ than our trade or our politics, for it does not even rest upon use and wont, but is wholly in the air. Yet the typical modern aesthete has learnt where to take cover, for, though destitute of defence, he has not entirely lost the instinct for self-preservation; and, when he ﬁnds the eye of reason upon him, he immediately ﬂies to the diversity of opinions. But Du ¨rer follows him even there with the perfect good faith of a man in earnest. ”Men deliberate and hold numberless diﬀering opinions about beauty, and they seek after it in many diﬀerent ways, although ugliness is thereby rather attained. Being then, as we are, in such a state of error, I know 11 not certainly what the ultimate measure of true beauty is, and cannot describe it aright. But glad should I be to render such help as I can, to the end that the gross deformities of our work might be and remain pruned away and avoided, unless indeed any one prefers to bestow great labour upon the production of deformities. We are brought back, therefore, to the aforesaid judgment of men, which considereth one ﬁgure beautiful at one time and another at another.... ”Because now we cannot altogether attain unto perfection, shall we therefore wholly cease from learning? By no means. Let us not take unto ourselves thoughts ﬁt for cattle. For evil and good lie before men, wherefore it behoveth the rational man to choose the good.” A man may see, if he will but watch, who is more ﬁnely touched and gifted than himself. In all the various ﬁelds of human endeavour, on such men he should try to form himself; for only thus can he enlarge his nature, correct his opinions. Something he can learn from this man, something from that, and it is rational to learn and be taught. Are we to be cattle or gods? ”Is it not written in your law, I said, ’Ye are gods?’” Reason demands that each man form himself on the pattern of a god, and God is an empty name if reason be not the will of God. Then he whom reason hath brought up may properly be called a son of God, a son of man, a child of light. But it is easier to bob to such phrases than to understand them. However, their mechanical repetition does not prevent their having meant something once, does not prevent their meaning being their true value. It is time we understood our art, just as it is time we understood our religion. Docility, as I have pointed out elsewhere, is one of the marks of genius. Du ¨rer’s spirit is the spirit of the great artist who will learn even from ”dull men of little judgment.” ”Let none be ashamed to learn, for a good work requireth good counsel. Nevertheless, whosoever taketh counsel in the arts, let him take it from one thoroughly versed in those matters, who can prove what he saith with his hand. Howbeit any one may give thee counsel; and when thou hast done a work pleasing to thyself, it is good for thee to show it to dull men of little judgment that they may give their opinion of it. As a rule they pick out the most faulty points, whilst they entirely pass over the good. If thou ﬁndest something they say true, thou mayst thus better thy work.” Those who are thoroughly versed in art are the great artists; we have guides then, and we have a way–the path they have trodden–and we have company, the gifted and docile men of to-day whom we see to be improving themselves; and, in so far as we are reasonable, a sense of proportion is ours, which we may improve; and it will help us to catch up better and yet better company until we enjoy the intimacy of the noblest, and know as we are known. Then: ”May we not consider it a sign of sanity when we regard the human spirit as ... a poet, and art as a half written poem? Shall we not have a sorry disappointment if its conclusion is 12 merely novel, and not the fulﬁlment and vindication of those great things gone before?” For my own part, those appear to me the grandest characters who, on ﬁnding that there is no other purchase for eﬀort but only hope, and that they can never cease from hope but by ceasing to live, clear their minds of all idle acquiescence in what could never be hoped, and concentrate their energies on conquering whatever in their own nature, and in the world about them, militates against their most essential character–reason, which seeks always to give a higher value to life. IV When we speak of the sense of proportion displayed in the design of a building, many will think that the word is used in quite a diﬀerent sense, and one totally unrelated to those which I have been discussing. But no; life and art are parallel and correspond throughout; ethics are the Esthetics of life, religion the art of living. Taste and conscience only diﬀer in their provinces, not in their procedure. Both are based on instinctive preferences; the canon of either is merely so many of those preferences as, by their constant recurrence to individuals gifted with the power of drawing others after them, are widely accepted. The preference of serenity to melancholy, of light to darkness, are among the most ﬁrmly established in the canon, that is all. The sense of proportion within a design is employed to stimulate and delight the eye. Ordinary people may fear there is some abstruse science about this. Not at all; it is as simple as relishing milk and honey, and its development an exact parallel to the training of the palate to distinguish the ﬂavours of teas, coﬀees and wines. ”Taste and see” is the whole business. There are many people who have no hesitation in picking out what to their eye is the wainscot panel with the richest grain: they see it at once. So with etchings; if people would only forget that they are works of art, forget all the false or ill-understood standards which they have been led to suppose applicable, and look at them as they might at agate stones; or choose out the richest in eﬀect: the most suitable for a gay room, or a hall, or a library, as though they were patterned stuﬀs for curtains; they would come a thousand times nearer a right appreciation of Du ¨rer’s success than by making a pot-shot to lasso the masterpiece with the tangle of literary rubbish which is known as art criticism. The harmonies and contrasts of juxtaposed colours or textures are aﬀected by quantity, and a sense of proportion decides what quantities best produce this eﬀect and what that. The correctness or amount of information to be conveyed in the delineation of some object, in relation to the mood which the artist has chosen shall dominate his work, is determined by his sense of proportion. He may distort an object to any extent or leave it as vague as the shadow on a wall in diﬀused light, or he may make it precise and particular as ever Jan Van Eyck did; so only that its distortion or elaboration is so proportioned to 13 the other objects and intentions of his work as to promote its success in the eyes of the beholder. There are no fallacies greater than the prevalent ones conveyed by the expressions ”out of drawing” or ”untrue to nature.” There is no such thing as correct drawing or an outside standard of truth for works of art. ”The conception of every work of art carries within it its own rule and method, which must be found out before it can be achieved.” ”Chaque oeuvre `a faire a sa poetique en soi, qu’il faut trouver,” said Flaubert. Truth in a work of art is sincerity. That a man says what he really means–shows us what he really thinks to be beautiful–is all that reason bids us ask for. No science or painstaking can make up for his not doing this. No lack of skill or observation can entirely frustrate his communicating his intention to kindred natures if he is utterly sincere. An infant communicates its joy. It is probable that the inexpressible is never felt. Stammering becomes more eloquent than oratory, a child’s impulsiveness wiser than circumlocutory experience. When a single intention absorbs the whole nature, communication is direct and immediate, and makes impotence itself a means of eﬀectiveness. So the na¨ıveties of early art put to shame the purposeless parade of prodigious skill. Wherever there is communication there is art; but there are evil communications and there is vicious art, though, perhaps, great sincerity is incompatible with either. For an artist to be deterred by other people’s demands means that he is not artist enough; it is what his reason teaches him to demand of himself that matters, though, doubtless, the good desire the approval of kindred natures. A work of art addresses the eye by means of chosen proportions; it may present any number of facts as exactly as may be, but if it oﬀend the eye it is a mere misapplication of industry, or the illustration of a scientiﬁc treatise out of place; and those that choose ribbons well are better artists than the man that made it. Or again it may overﬂow with poetical thought and suggestion, or have the stuﬀ to make a ﬁrst-rate story in it; but, if it oﬀend the eye, it is merely a misapplication of imagination, invention or learning, and the girl who puts a charming nosegay together is a better artist than he who painted it. On the other hand, though it have no more signiﬁcance than a glass of wine and a loaf of bread, if the eye is rejoiced by gazing on the paint that expresses them, it is a work of art and a ﬁne achievement. Still, it may be as fanciful as a fairy-tale, or as loaded with import as the Cruciﬁxion; and, if it stimulates the eye to take delight in its surfaces over and above mere curiosity, it is a work of art, and great in proportion as the signiﬁcance of what it conveys is brought home to us by the very quality of the stimulus that is created in return for our gaze. For painting is the result of a power to speak beautifully with paint, as poetry is of a power to express beautifully by means of words either simple things or those which demand the eﬀort of a welltrained 14 mind in order to be received and comprehended. The mistake made by impressionists, luminarists, and other modern artists, is that a true statement of how things appear to them will suﬃce; it will not, unless things appear beautiful to them, and they render them beautifully. It will not, because science is not art, because knowledge is a diﬀerent thing from beauty. A true statement may be repulsive and degrading; whereas an aﬃrmation of beauty, whether it be true or fancied, is always moving, and if delivered with corresponding grace is inspiring–is a work of art and ”a joy for ever.” For reason demands that all the eye sees shall be beautiful, and give such pleasure as best consists with the universe becoming what reason demands that it shall become. This demand of reason is perfectly arbitrary? Yes, but it is also inevitable, necessitated by the nature of the human character. It is equally arbitrary and equally inevitable that man must, where science is called for, in the long run prefer a true statement to a lie. From art reason demands beautiful objects, from science true statements: such is human nature; for the possession of this reason that judges and condemns the universe, and demands and attempts to create something better, is that which diﬀerentiates human life from all other known forces–is that by which men may be more than conquerors, may make peace with the universe; for ”A peace is of the nature of a conquest; For then both parties nobly are subdued And neither party loser.” Of such a nature is the only peace that the soul can make with the body–that man can make with nature–that habit can make with instinct–that art can make with impulse. In order to establish such a peace the imagination must train reason to see a friend in her enemy, the physical order. For, as Reynolds says of the complete artist: ”He will pick up from dunghills, what, by a nice chemistry, passing through his own mind, shall be converted into pure gold, and under the rudeness of Gothic essays, he will ﬁnd original, rational, and even sublime inventions.” It is not too much to say that the nature both of the artist and of the dunghills is ”subdued” by such a process, and yet neither is a ”loser.” Goethe profoundly remarked that the highest development of the soul was reached through worship ﬁrst of that which was above, then of that which was beneath it. This great critic also said, ”Only with diﬃculty do we spell out from that which nature presents to us, the DESIRED word, the congenial. Men ﬁnd what the artist brings intelligible and to their taste, stimulating and alluring, genial and friendly, spiritually nourishing, formative and elevating. Thus the artist, grateful to the nature that made him, weaves a second nature–but a conscious, a fuller, a more perfectly human nature.” [Illustration: Water-colour drawing of a Hare] 15 FOOTNOTES: [Footnote 1: Swift, ”Contests and Dissensions in Athens and Rome.”] [Footnote 2: It may be urged that diversities of opinion exist as to what good is. The convenience of the words ”good” and ”evil” corresponds to a need created by a common experience in the same way as the convenience of the words ”light” and ”darkness” does. A child might consider that a diamond generated light in the same way as a candle does. He would be mistaken, but this would not aﬀect the correctness of his application of the word ”light” to his experience; if he confused light with darkness he must immediately become unintelligible. Good and light are perceived and named–no one can say more of them; the eﬀects of both may be described with more or less accuracy. To say that light is a mode of motion does not deﬁne it; we ask at once, What mode? And the only answer is, that which produces the eﬀect of light. A man born blind, though he knew what was meant by motion, could never deduce from this knowledge a conception of light.] [Footnote 3: The Monthly Review, October 1902, ”Rodin.”] [Footnote 4: ”Literary Remains of Albrecht Du¨rer,” p. 177.] [Footnote 5: Ibid. p. 247.] [Footnote 6: ”Literary Remains of Albrecht Du¨rer,” p. 252.] [Footnote 7: ”Literary Remains of Albrecht Du¨rer,” pp, 244 and 245.] [Footnote 8: ”Literary Remains of Albrecht Du¨rer,” p. 180.] [Footnote 9: The Monthly Review, April 1901, ”In Defence of Reynolds.”] [Footnote 10: Sixth Discourse.] CHAPTER II THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGION ON THE CREATIVE IMPULSE I There are some artists of whom one would naturally write in a lyrical strain, with praise of the ﬂesh, and those things which add to its beauty, freshness, and mystery–fair scenes of mountain, woodland, or sea-shore; blue sky, white cloud and sunlight, or the deep and starry 16 night; youth and health, strength and fertility, frankness and freedom. And, in such a strain, one would insist that the fondness and intoxication which these things quicken was natural, wise, and lovely. But, quite as naturally, when one has to speak of Du ¨rer, the mind becomes ﬁlled with the exhilaration and the staidness that the desire to know and the desire to act rightly beget; with the dignity of conscious comprehension, the serenity of accomplished duty with all the strenuousness and ardour of which the soul is capable; with science and religion. It is natural to refer often to the towering eminence of these virtues in Michael Angelo; both he and Du ¨rer were not only great artists, and active and powerful minds, but men imbued with, and conservative of, piety. And it seems to me, if we are to appreciate and sympathise deeply with such men, we must try to understand the religion they believed in; to estimate, not only what its value was supposed to be in those days, but what value it still has for us. Surely what they prized so highly must have had real and lasting worth? Surely it can only be the relation of that value to common speech and common thought which has changed, not its relation to man’s most essential nature? Therefore I will ﬁrst try to arrive at a general notion of the real worth of their ideas,–that is, the worth that is equally great from their point of view and ours. The whole of that period, the period of the so belauded Renascence, had within it (or so it seems to me) an incurable insuﬃciency, which troubles the aﬀections of those who praise or condemn it; so that they show themselves more passionate than those who praise or condemn the art and life of ancient Greece. This insuﬃciency I believe to have been due to the fact that Christian ideas were more ﬁrmly rooted in, than they were understood by, the society of those days. And to-day I think the same cause continues to propagate a like insuﬃciency, a like lack of correspondence between eﬀort and aim. Certain ideas found in the reported sayings of Jesus have so fastened upon the European intellect that they seem well-nigh inseparable from it. We are told that the eﬀort of the Greek, of Aristotle, was to ”submit to the empire of fact.” The eﬀort of the Jew was very similar; for the prophets, what happened was the will of God, what will happen is what God intends. Now it is noteworthy that Aristotle did not wish to submit to ignorance, though it and the causes which produce it and preserve it in human minds are among the most horrible and tremendous of facts; and it is the imperishable glory of the prophets, that, whatever the priest the king, the Sadducee or Pharisee might do, they could not rest in or abide the idea that God’s will was ever evil; no inconsistency was too glaring to check their indignation at Eastern fatalism which quietly supposed that as things went wrong it was their nature to do so;–vanity, vanity, all is vanity!–or that if men did wrong and prospered, it was God’s doing, and showed that they had pleased Him with sacriﬁces and performances. II 17 ’Wherever poetry, imagination, or art had been busy, there had appeared, both in Judea and Greece, some degree of rebellion against the empire of fact.. When Jesus said: ”The kingdom of heaven is within you,” he recognised that the human reason was the antagonist of all other known forces, and he declared war on the god of this world and prophesied the downfall of–the empire of the apparent fact;–not with fume and fret, not with rant and rage, as poets and seers had done, but mildly aﬃrming that with the soul what is best is strongest, has in the long run most inﬂuence; that there is one fact in the essential nature of man which, antagonist to the inﬂuence of all other facts, wields an inﬂuence destined to conquer or absorb all other inﬂuences. He said: ”My Father which is in heaven, the master inﬂuence within me, has declared that I shall never ﬁnd rest to my soul until I prefer His kingdom, the conception of my heart, to the kingdoms of earth and the glory of the earth.” ’We have seen that Du ¨rer describes the miracle; the work of art, thus: ”The secret treasure which a man conceived in his heart shall appear as a thing” (see page 10). And we know that he prized this, the master thing, the conception of the heart, above everything else. Much learning is not evil to a man, though some be stiﬄy set against it, saying that art puﬀeth up. Were that so, then were none prouder than God who hath formed all arts, but that cannot be, for God is perfect in goodness. The more, therefore, a man learneth, so much the better doth he become, and so much the more love doth he win for the arts and for things exalted. The learning Du¨rer chieﬂy intends is not book-learning or critical lore, but knowledge how to make, by which man becomes a creator in imitation of God; for this is of necessity the most perfect knowledge, rivalling the sureness of intuition and instinct. III ”Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Every one knows how anxious great artists become for the preservation of their works, how highly they value permanence in the materials employed, and immunity from the more obvious chances of destruction in the positions they are to occupy. Michael Angelo is said to have painted cracks on the Sistina ceiling to force the architect to strengthen the roof. When Jesus made the assertion that his teaching would outlast the inﬂuence of the visible world of nature and the societies of men–the kingdoms of earth and the glory of the earth–he did no more than every victorious soul strives to eﬀect, and to feel assured that it has in some large degree eﬀected; the diﬀerence between him and them is one of degree. It may be objected that diﬀerent hearts harbour and cherish contradictory conceptions. Doubtless; but does the desire to win the 18 co-operation and approval of other men consist with the higher developments of human faculties? Is it, perhaps, essential to them? If so, in so far as every man increases in vitality and the employment of his powers, he will be forced to reverence and desire the solidarity of the race, and consequently to relinquish or neglect whatever in his own ideal militates against such solidarity. And this will be the case whether he judge such eccentric elements to be nobler or less noble than the qualities which are fostered in him by the co-operation of his fellows. Jesus, at any rate, aﬃrmed that the law of the kingdom within a man’s soul was: ”Love thy neighbour as thyself”; and that obedience to it would work in every man like leaven, which is lost sight of in the lump of dough, and seems to add nothing to it, yet transforms the whole in raising up the loaf; or as the corn of wheat which is buried in the glebe like a dead body, yet brings forth the blade, and nourishes a new life. So he that should follow Jesus by obeying the laws of the kingdom, by loving God (the begetter or fountainhead of a man’s most essential conception of what is right and good) and his neighbour, was assured by his mild and gracious Master that he would inherit, by way of a return for the sacriﬁces which such obedience would entail, a new and better life. (Follow me, I laid down my life in order that I might take it again. He that ﬁndeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for my sake –as I did, in imitation of me–shall ﬁnd it.) For in order to make this very diﬃcult obedience possible, it was to be turned into a labour of love done for the Master’s sake. As Goethe said: ”Against the superiority of another, there is no remedy but love.” Is it not true that the superiority of another man humiliates, crushes and degrades us in our own eyes, if we envy it or hate it instead of loving it? while by loving it we make it in a sense ours, and can rejoice in it. So Jesus aﬃrmed that he had made the superiority of the ideal his; so that he was in it, and it was in him, so that men who could no longer ﬁx their attention on it in their own souls might love it in him. He was their master-conception, their true ideal, acting before them, captivating the attention of their senses and emotions. This is what a man of our times, possessed of rare receptivity and great range of comprehension, considered to be the pith of Jesus’ teaching. Matthew Arnold gave much time and labour to trying to persuade men that this was what the religion they professed, or which was professed around them, most essentially meant. And he reminded us that the adequacy of such ideas for governing man’s life depended not on the authority of a book or writings by eye-witnesses with or without intelligence, but on whether they were true in experience. He quoted Goethe’s test for every idea about life, ”But is it true, is it true for me, now?” ”Taste and see,” as the prophets put it; or as Jesus said, ”Follow me.” For an ideal must be followed, as a man woos a woman; the pursuit may have to be dropped, in order to be more surely recovered; an ideal must be 19 humoured, not seized at once as a man seizes command over a machine. This secret of success was was only to be won by the development of a temper, a spirit of docility. To love it in an example was the best, perhaps the only way of gaining possession of it. IV As we are placed, what hope can we have but to learn? and what is there from which we might not learn? An artist is taught by the materials he uses more essentially than by the objects he contemplates; for these teach him ”how,” and perfect him in creating, those only teach him ”what,” and suggest forms to be created. But for men in general the ”what” is more important than the ”how”; and only very powerful art can exhilarate and reﬁne them by means of subjects which they dislike or avoid. Every seer of beauty is not a creator of beautiful things; and in art the ”how” is so much more essential than the ”what,” that artists create unworthy or degrading objects beautifully, so that we admire their art as much as we loathe its employment; in nature, too, such objects are met with, created by the god of this world. A good man, too, may create in a repulsive manner objects whose every association is ennobling or elevating. ”The kingdom of heaven is within you,” but hell is also within. ”Hell hath no limits, nor is circumscribed In one self place; for where we are is hell And where hell is, must we for ever be: And, to conclude, when all the world dissolves, And every creature shall be puriﬁed, All places shall be hell that are not heaven,” as Marlowe makes his Mephistophilis say: and the best art is the most perfect expression of that which is within, of heaven or of hell. Goethe said: ”In the Greeks, whose poetry and rhetoric was simple and positive, we encounter expressions of approval more often than of disapproval. With the Romans, on the other hand, the contrary holds good; and the more corrupted poetry and rhetoric become, the more will censure grow and praise diminish.” I have sometimes thought that the diﬀerence between classic and more or less decadent art lies in the fact that by the one things are appreciated for what they most essentially are–a young man, a swift horse, a chaste wife, &c.–by the other for some more or less peculiar or accidental relation that they hold to the creator. Such writers lament that the young are not old, the old not young, prostitutes not pure, that maidens are cold and modest or matrons portly. They complain 20 of having suﬀered from things being cross, or they take malicious pleasure in pointing that crossness out; whereas classical art always rebounds from the perception that things are evil to the assertion of what ought to be or shall be. It triumphs over the Prince of Darkness, and covers a multitude of sins, as dew or hoar frost cover and make beautiful a dunghill. Dunghills exist; but he who makes of Macbeth’s or Clytemnestra’s crimes an elevating or exhilarating spectacle triumphs over the god of this world, as Jesus did when he made the most ignominious death the symbol, of his victory and glory. Little wonder that Albert Du¨rer, and Michael Angelo found such deep satisfaction in Him as the object of their worship–his method of docility was next-of-kin to that of their art. Respect and solicitude create the soul, and these two pre-eminently docile passions preside over the soul’s creation, whether it be a society, a life, or a thing of beauty. V Here, when art was still religion, with a simple, reverent heart, Lived and laboured Albrecht Du ¨rer, the Evangelist of Art. These jingling lines would scarcely merit consideration but that they express a common notion which has its part of truth as well as of error. Let us examine the ﬁrst assertion (that art has been religion.) Baudelaire, in his Curiosites Esthetiques says: La premi` ere aﬀaire d’un artiste est de substituer l’homme `a la nature et de protester contre elle . (”The ﬁrst thing for an artist is to substitute man for nature and to protest against her.”) The beginners and the smatterers are always ”students of nature,” and suppose that to be so will suﬃce; but when the understanding and imagination gain width and elasticity, life is more and more understood as a long struggle to overcome or humanise nature by that which most essentially distinguishes man from other animals and inanimate nature. Religion should be the drill and exercise of the human faculties to ﬁt them and maintain them in readiness for this struggle; the work of art should be the assertion of victory. A life worthy of remembrance is a work of art, a life worthy of universal remembrance is a masterpiece: only the materials employed diﬀerentiate it from any other work of art. The life of Jesus is considered as such a masterpiece. Thus we can say that if art has never been religion, religion has always been and ever will be an art. Now let us examine the second assertion that Du ¨rer was an evangelist. What kind of character do we mean to praise when we say a man is an evangelist? Two only of the four evangelists can be said to reveal any ascertainable personality, and only St. John is suﬃciently outlined to stand as a type; but I do not think we mean to imply a resemblance to St. John. The bringer of good news, the evangelist par excellence, was Jesus. He it was who made it evident that the sons of men have power to forgive sins. Victory over evil possible–this was the good news. No doubt every sincere Christian is supposed to be a more or less successful imitator of Jesus; and as such, D¨rer may rightly be called 21 an evangelist. But more than this is I think, implied in the use of the word; an evangelist is, for us above all a bringer of good news in something of the same manner as Jesus brought it, by living among sinners for those sinners’ sake, among paupers for those paupers’ sake; to see a man sweet, radiant, and victorious under these circumstances, is to see an evangelist. Goethe’s ﬁnal claim is that, ”after all, there are honest people up and down the world who have got light from my books; and whoever reads them, and gives himself the trouble to understand me, will acknowledge that he has acquired thence a certain inward freedom”; and for this reason I have been tempted to call him the evangelist of the modern world. But it is best to use the word as I believe it is most correctly employed, and not to yield to the temptation (for tempting it is) to call men like Du¨rer and Goethe evangelists. They are teachers who charm as well as inform us, as Jesus was; but they are not evangelists in the sense that he was, for they did not deal directly with human life where it is forced most against its distinctive desire for increase in nobility, or is most obviously degraded by having betrayed it.’ VI I have often heard it objected that Jesus is too feminine an ideal, too much based on renunciation and the eﬀort to make the best of failure. No doubt that as women are, by the necessity of their function, more liable to the ship-wreck of their hopes, the bankruptcy of their powers, they have been drawn to cling to this hope of salvation in greater numbers, and with more fervour; so that the most general idea of Jesus may be a feminine one. It does not follow that this is the most correct or the best: every object, every person will appear diﬀerently to diﬀerent natures. And it still remains true that there have been a great many men of very various types who have drawn strength and beauty from the contemplation and reverence of Jesus. That this ideal is too much based on making the best of failure is an objection that makes very little impression on me, for I think I perceive that failure is one of the most constant and widespread conditions of the universe, and even more certainly of human life. VII It remains now to see in what degree these ideas were felt or made themselves felt through the Romanism and Lutheranism of the Renascence period. Perhaps we English shall best recognise the presence of these ideas, the working of this leaven–this docility, the necessary midwife of ’genius, who transforms the diﬃcult tasks which the human reason sets herself into labours of love–in an Englishman; so my ﬁrst example shall be taken from Erasmus’ portrait of Dean Colet. It was then that my acquaintance with him began, he being then thirty, I two or three months his junior. He had no theological degree, but the whole University, doctors and all, went to hear him. Henry VII took note 22 of him, and made him Dean of St. Paul’s. His ﬁrst step was to restore discipline in the Chapter, which had all gone to wreck. He preached every saint’s day to great crowds. He cut down household expenses, and abolished suppers and evening parties. At dinner a boy reads a chapter from Scripture; Colet takes a passage from it and discourses to the universal delight. Conversation is his chief pleasure, and he will keep it up till midnight if he ﬁnds a companion. Me he has often taken with him on his walks, and talks all the time of Christ. He hates coarse language, furniture, dress, food, books, all clean and tidy, but scrupulously plain; and he wears grey woollen when priests generally go in purple. With the large fortune which he inherited from his father, he founded and endowed a school at St. Paul’s entirely at his own cost– masters, houses, salaries, everything. He is a man of genuine piety. He was not born with it. He was naturally hot, impetuous and resentful–indolent, fond of pleasure and of women’s society–disposed to make a joke of everything. He told me that he had fought against his faults with study, fasting and prayer, and thus his whole life was in fact unpolluted with the world’s deﬁlements. His money he gave all to pious uses, worked incessantly, talked always on serious subjects, to conquer his disposition to levity; not but what you could see traces of the old Adam when wit was ﬂying at feast or festival. He avoided large parties for this reason. He dined on a single dish, with a draught or two of light ale. He liked good wine, but abstained on principle. I never knew a man of sunnier nature. No one ever more enjoyed cultivated society; but here, too, he denied himself, and was always thinking of the life to come. His opinions were peculiar, and he was reserved in expressing them for fear of exciting suspicion. He knew how unfairly men judge each other, how credulous they are of evil, how much easier it is for a lying tongue to stain a reputation than for a friend to clear it. But among his friends he spoke his mind freely. He admitted privately that many things were generally taught which he did not believe, but he would not create a scandal by blurting out his objections. No book could be so heretical but he would read it, and read it carefully. He learnt more from such books than he learnt from dogmatism and interested orthodoxy. Some may wonder what Colet could have found to say about Christ which could not only interest but delight the young and witty Erasmus; and may judge that at any rate to-day such a subject is suﬃciently ﬂy-blown. The proper reﬂection to make is, ”A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Whether we say Christ or Perfection does not matter, it is what we mean which is either enthralling or dull, fresh or fusty; ”there’s nothing in a name.” 23 ”When Colet speaks I might be listening to Plato,” says Erasmus in another place, at a time when he was still younger and had just come from what had been a gay and perhaps in some measure a dissolute life in Paris: not that it is possible to imagine Erasmus as at any time committing great excesses, or deeply sinning against the sense of proportion and measure. Success is the only criterion, as in art, so in religion: the man that plucks out his eye and casts it from him, and remains the dull, greedy, distressful soul he was before, is a damned fool; but the man who does the same and becomes such that his younger friends report of him, ”I never knew a sunnier nature,” is an artist in life, a great artist in the sense that Christ is supposed to have been a great master; one who draws men to him, as bees are drawn to ﬂowers. Colet drew the young Henry the Eighth as well as Erasmus. ”The King said: ’Let every man choose his own doctor. Dean Colet shall be mine!’” Though no doubt charlatans have often fascinated young scholars and monarchs, yet it is peculiarly impossible to think of Colet as a charlatan. VIII Next let us take a sonnet and a sentence from Michael Angelo: Yes! hope may with my strong desire keep pace, And I be undeluded, unbetrayed; For if of our aﬀections none ﬁnds grace In sight of heaven, then, wherefore hath God made The world which we inhabit? Better plea Love cannot have than that in loving thee Glory to that eternal peace is paid, Who such divinity to thee imparts, As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts. His hope is treacherous only whose love dies With beauty, which is varying every hour; But in chaste hearts, uninﬂuenced by the power Of outward change, there blooms a deathless ﬂower, That breathes on earth the air of paradise. It is very remarkable how strongly the conviction of permanence, and the preference for the inward conception over external beauty are expressed in this ﬁne sonnet; and also that the reason given for accepting the discipline of love is that experience shows how it ”hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts.” In such a love poem–the object of which might very well have been Jesus–I seem to ﬁnd more of the spirit of his religion, whereby he binds his disciples to the Father that ruled within him, till they too feel the bond of parentage as deeply as himself and become sons with him of his Father;–more of that binding power of Jesus is for me expressed in this ﬁne sonnet than in Luther’s Catechism. The religion that enables a great artist to write of love in this strain, is the religion of docility, of the meek and lowly heart. For Michael 24 Angelo was not a man by nature of a meek and lowly heart, any more than Colet was a man naturally saintly or than Luther was a man naturally reﬁned. But because Michael Angelo thus prefers the kingdom of heaven to external beauty, one must not suppose that he, its arch high-priest, despised it. Nobody had a more profound respect for the thing of beauty, whether it was the creation of God or man. He said: ”Nothing makes the soul so pure, so religious, as the endeavour to create something perfect; for God is perfection, and whoever strives for perfection, strives for something that is God-like.” Now we can perceive how the same spirit worked in a great artist, not at Nuremberg or London, but at Rome, the centre of the world, where a Borgia could be Pope. IX Erasmus, the typical humanist, the man who loved humanity so much that he felt that his love for it might tempt him to ﬁght against God, travelled from the one world to the other; passed from the society of cardinals and princes to the seclusion of burgher homes in London, or to chat with Du¨rer at Antwerp. He belonged perhaps to neither world at heart; but how greatly his love and veneration of the one exceeded his admiration and sense of the practical utility of the other, a comparison of his sketch of Colet with such a note as this from his New Testament makes abundantly plain: ”I saw with my own eyes Pope Julius II. at Bologna, and afterwards at Rome, marching at the head of a triumphal procession as if he were Pompey or Cæsar. St. Peter subdued the world with faith, not with arms or soldiers or military engines. St. Peter’s successors would win as many victories as St. Peter won if they had Peter’s spirit.” But we must not forget that the book in which these notes appeared was published with the approval of a Pope, and that he and others sought its author for advice as to how to cope best with their more hot-headed enemy Martin Luther. We must also remember that we are told that Colet ”was not very hard on priests and monks who only sinned with women. He did not make light of impurity, but thought it less criminal than spite and malice and envy and vanity and ignorance. The loose sort were at least made human and modest by their very faults, and he regarded avarice and arrogance as blacker sins in a priest than a hundred concubines.” This spirit was not that of the Reformation which came to stop, yet it existed and was widespread at that time; it was I think the spirit which either formed or sustained most of the great artists. At any rate it both formed and sustained Albert Du ¨rer. Yet the true nature of these ideas, derived from Jesus, could not be understood even by Colet, even by Erasmus. For them it was tradition which gave value and assured truth to Christ’s ideas, not the truth of those ideas which gave value to the traditions and legends concerning him. The value of those 25 ideas was felt, sometimes nearer, sometimes further oﬀ; it was loved and admired; their lives were apprehended by it, and spent in illustrating and studying it, as were also those of Albert ¨rer and Michael Angelo. To understand the life and work of such men, w
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