International studio — 55.1915

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The Edmund Davis Collection

(First Article.)

impossible one. And, with the withdrawal of
patronage, there is no longer any reason for finish-
ing anything. It becomes convenient to say that
“a work of art is finished from the beginning.”

Before beginning to write in detail of this
collection it may not be out of place to say some-
thing generally as to the position of collectors
to-day in relation to the art of their own period.
This may be done here the more appropriately
since the collector whose possessions we are to
pass in review, is recognised as one of the few
whose influence has been an agent in stimulating
the art production of their time.
Every one who is interested in modern art is
conscious that in the midst of excited attempts to
attain originality confusion reigns, and artists are
baffled by a loss of certainty as to the very nature
of the mission of art. Remedies for a state of
indecision which is reacting upon the artist to the
deterioration of art are constantly being put forward
in new theories about painting, which are acted
upon without success. But we have not seen it

It may be true that some of the most perfect
results in art have resulted from the sudden re-
lease of faculties which have been confined to tasks
not self-imposed. But the special vitality of work
of this kind—in which the discipline from con-
forming has remained with the hand that has no
longer to conform—cannot be sustained or re-
peated except under the same conditions. It is
the artist who is adversely affected by the with-
drawal of the patron he has scared away.
This state of things appears to have arisen from
laying too much stress upon only one aspect
of the phenomenon of self-expression. The large
part that mere receptivity plays in the process of
creative art has been ignored; also the fact that it
is the quality of the mind at work, and not the
method pursued, that determines results. Genius
implies the possession of a more sensitive mental

suggested, at least not in
print, that everything might
be put right if the artist
would show more willing-
ness to receive some direc-
tion from outside—in the
shape of a definite order
from some one—instead of
waiting for a voice “from
within ” which has lost its
imperativeness from ex-
haustion. For it is quite
true that in these days there
are artists who tremble at
the receipt of an order lest
its execution should in-
volve some damage to their
artistic constitution. Now
art, we believe, has much
more to fear from all this
self-consciousness of the
artist than he himself has
to fear from any outside in-
tervention. The modern
artist’s horror of receiving
direction from any source
but his own impulse is not
a sign of wealth of genius.
He complains of the ab-
sence of the patron while
his own vain attitude has
made the position an almost



LV. No. 218.—April 1915

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