Studio: international art — 1.1893

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https://digi.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/diglit/studio1893/0115
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Is the Camera the Friend or Foe of Art ?

monochrome. To a large class photography in doubt rigidly abstaining from the help of the

natural colours is the one unfulfilled promise of camera, has obeyed the laws of the tyrant, and not

science. The school we are describing has antici- deliberately altered a line or a detail of his subject,

pated this still deferred invention and produced In spite of the famous instantaneous photographs

what is practically the awaited miracle. by Mr. Edward Muybridge, it is doubtful if one

That Mr. Jan Van Beers did or did not paint new pose of sterling value has been added to those

his La Sylphide (was not that its title ?) upon a consecrated by art. We have found the conven-

photograph it was the object of a famous law-suit tions of the Greeks, or the later schools, sufficiently

to ascertain. Which way the verdict went concerns near the average truth of human vision to need no

us not here, practically the result was already correction. In a photograph of a lighted candle

evident—for though the artist may never have the circular halo is strangely akin to the time-worn

FROM A PHOTOGRAPH BY MR. HENRY DIXON

[Reproduced, by Special Permission)

used a photograph even for reference, he depicted convention of the older painters; but, on the other

his subject with the mechanical accuracy of the hand, the average eyesight is more suited for the

lens, with a suggestion of its shadows and peculi- representation of movement than the too faithful

arities in a way that no doubt provoked the witness of the instantaneous camera. In comparing

criticism which resulted in the suit in question. In paintings of street scenes to-day with those of past

studying the older landscapes wherein some famous times, we are struck at once with the scarcely

cathedral or palace appears, you frequently find veiled formality of the older pictures, wherein

the building not as it really is, but modified to suit vehicles and foot-passengers are disposed in an

the artist's composition; now the opposite course arbitrary way; while in such a composition as

is pursued, and whether broadly, as in a Whistler Mr. Logsdail's Bank we find them, roughly speak-

nocturne, or with the fatal insistence upon pro- ing, very much as a photograph might record them,

voking details of a certain school of British water- In these and similar scenes the influence of the

colours, you can but feel the painter has at least camera may be conceded without any hidden

been anxious not to provoke luckless comparisons accusation that the artist employed his mechanical

with a photograph of the same scene, and while no ally. In modern pictures of wild animals the

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