Studio: international art — 2.1894

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The Lay Figure at Home

The Lay Figure was reading a list of
the sending-in days for the R.A. and
other shows ; looking up with a sigh, it
said, " When I think of the certain rejections at the
Galleries and the small percentage of sales, I wonder
anybody, without a private income, ever finds
courage to take up painting as a profession."

" There should be a Society of Painters, like
the Society of Authors, and the Society of Illus-
trators," said the city man. " Of course I quite
know, it is not very much that they do for you,
but it is satisfactory to feel that for a guinea or
so your interests are being cared for."

" I do not see how you can make laws, without
force to back them up," said the journalist; " every
new law creates a new crime, and if members of
such societies find it profitable to defy their rules,
who shall prevent them ? "

" I wish," the man with the clay pipe broke in,
" the commercial side of art were not always put
to the front. You find one critic ranking this
artist according to his prices; another, advising
you that this method should be abandoned, not
because it is inefficient, but because it is going
out of fashion and unsaleable, and the question of
cash payment influencing the choice of everything,
from subject to its frame."

" It is a comfort to think it never influenced
you," said the journalist.

" Perhaps because I never sell anything," he
replied. " Sometimes I think Art should only be
taken in the leisure of life, not as an income-earning
pursuit. Of course it is awkward to explain how
the years of technical study could be arranged
for; but is it any wonder that picture-making is a
trade, when so many depend upon it for their
livelihood ? "

"You would like to see the patron back again,
like a Japanese daimio, subsidising artists, so that
they might create what they really loved to pro-
duce, with a certain assured income all the time,"
said the journalist.

" I cannot see," said the man with the clay pipe,
" why great corporations and very rich men should
not do something of the sort."

" Everybody is too impatient to wait for one
man to complete a scheme," said the Lay Figure.
" Now if you intend to have wall paintings in a
building, such as the Boston Library, for example,
you ask many painters, each to take a room, and
often enough merely a panel."

"I know," said the man with the clay pipe, "like

the old woolwork carpets, where the owner cajoled
her friends into working each a square of their
own choice, and then sewed the lot together. It
certainly does not conduce to large effect, or a
consistent unity of style."

" I see that the room Sargent is decorating at
Boston is 80 feet long," said the ci:y man, "and
that his subject is a pictured history of the religious
ideals of the world. Surely after that one cannot
say modern artists lack courage to attack great

"What a pity it should be an American city
that is to be thus enriched," broke in the journalist.
" When one thinks of the miles of bare wall space
in our public buildings and the hundreds of empty
pedestals and niches, one wishes that some form of
local authority were empowered to fill them. How
can the training for fresco and architectural
sculpture be gained, except actual experiments are
possible ? "

"And yet St. Paul's Cathedral seems to have
waited in vain for its Michael Angelo," said the
Lay Figure. " If one recalls the many schemes of
the last twenty years—and their ultimate abandon-
ment—it does not look very hopeful as a precedent
for new departures."

" Perhaps we shall have to accept new ideals of
beauty," the man with the clay pipe said mournfully.
" Maybe the Forth Bridge will be as aesthetically
attractive to a twentieth century man as the
Parthenon appeared all-sufficient to our fathers,
and that the convention of monochrome will be
deemed more satisfying than the use of colour."

" It is always possible," said the Lay Figure,
"that a dislike to colour may be from a too subtle
perception of it, and that an artist who despairs
of ever putting down the light and vibration of
natural colour, will prefer to leave it to the imagin-
ation of students of his work."

" Please stop theory," said the city man.
"Theory is the curse of Art, as morbid analysis
is the curse of fiction to-day. A true artist gains
his effect he hardly knows how, and then as he
meditates before it evolves the theory—or more
often finds other people evolving it for him."

" You are right," said the Lay Figure ; " it is the
mixture of metaphysics with their pigments which
has ruined so many men."

"This is theorising most unprofitably," said the
city man. " What do you think of Mrs. Dunlop
Hopkins' new crusade in aid of the applied
arts ? "

" The moral of any applied art lies in its appli-
cation," said the Lay Figure sententiously.
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