Studio: international art — 17.1899

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The Work of W. Reynolds-Steft hens


Although the most obvious ten-
dency of the present-day demand for art work
is to drive the producers into the narrowest type
of specialism, and to limit each one’s effort to
certain classes of achievement, there are happily
still active amongst us some few artists who have
both the inclination and the capacity to rebel
against these restrictions, and to strive for wide
independence of thought and practice. These
men refuse to be bound by the popular fancy, or
to give way to influences which cramp and pervert
the assertion of their individuality. They hold
strongly the creed that the true mission of the art
worker is to prove himself capable of many things,
to show that he has an all-round knowledge of the
varieties of technical expression, and a practical
acquaintance with many methods of stating the
ideas which are in his mind. Instead of seeking
to find one particular direction in which they can,
by scrupulous attention to business, secure an
extensive custom, and instead of making up their
minds to continue for the rest of their lives active
only in the repetition of that one idea which proves
to be acceptable to a large section of the public,
they regard their successes in one branch of art
only as incentives to widen their scope, and as
justifying them to aim at achievements equally

successful in other branches. Among the many
men who are content to plod along a beaten track,
seeing nothing of the attractive prospect on either
side, and ignoring all invitations to tempt fortune
by excursions into unknown regions, these restless
spirits stand out as valuable exceptions. They
play an important part in the economy of the art
world, for they keep alive the love of experiment,
and encourage that desire for progress which would
soon die out if the popular inclination to bind all
artists down, each to his particular pattern, were
generally accepted.

Therefore to every one who thinks carefully and
deeply about aesthetic questions there is no more
fascinating subject for study than the methods
employed by the all-round man in working out
the problems presented by his profession. He
has always something fresh to say, some new hint
to give about old ideas; and the suggestions he
has to offer are constantly worthy of consideration,
because they open up wider possibilities of practice
and make for a better grasp of artistic essentials.
By watching the various stages of his progress an
excellent idea can be gained of the comprehensive-
ness of art in the broad sense and of the multipli-
city of opportunities that are open to the intelligent
student of great principles. Every new departure
he attempts, every fresh experiment in methods or
processes, has its value as a demonstration of the
opinion of a thinker who is not ashamed of his
insatiable curiosity and has no hesitation in setting



XVII. No. 76.—July, 1899.

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