Studio: international art — 2.1894

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The Taste for Trifles



There was an Art
A Note in the Daily
Graphic lately which deserves
quoting : " Young painters," the
writer says, "would do well to
bear in mind that they should
turn their attention to the paint-
ing of small pictures if they wish
to sell their works. Formerly
people liked to have one or two •
pictures of moderate size in their
rooms and leave plenty of wall
space. Now it is all changed,
and you often see rooms so
crammed with small pictures that
you fail to discover what the tint'
of the walls may be. Everything
must be of small dimensions;
indeed, the life-sized portrait is
beginning to lose its popularity
in favour of one a fourth the size,
and at picture sales you will find
a fine work, eight feet by five, will
not fetch a quarter of the price of
an altogether inferior production
of two feet by one. In the present
day it seems, if an artist wishes
to make money, he must measure
his work by inches, not by feet."

This is true of other arts to-
day : a busy age has little time for
the five-act tragedy, the epic or
the oratorio. Even grand opera
of late has shown a tendency to
shorter forms ; while the level of
mere technique has risen, the
level of intelligent appreciation
has risen also. Therefore, we no
longer enjoy elaborate exercises
in any art undertaken to display
the worker's mastery of his craft.
In place of the theme overladen
with details and demanding sheer
genius to carry it through on a
huge scale, we prefer the idea
epigrammatically put. The idea
need be no less important; indeed,
as detached lines of poetry show,
many a couplet gains immortality
while a huge work sinks weighted
byitsownsuperfluouselaboration. a fountain (in plaster), 22 feet in height, by j. w. swynnerton

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