Denton Jaques Snider.

Music and the fine arts; a psychology of aesthetic online

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young sunshine, of many of them, all of
which stay fixed in his pictures.

Already the outline of a drawing in black
and white hints the transfer of the sculptural
shape from outer to inner. The whole sur-
face of the statue is made over into a linear
play in which the dark bounds the white. But
that which specially distinguishes Painting-
is its employment of color — the many colors
of the spectrum with all their complicated
shadings. The statue's light usually white,
divides itself into vast manifoldness of tints,
of which the separative character should
again be duly noted. The marble suddenly
breaks up into rainbows, as if a storm had
come whose waterfall analvzed the sheen of
the sun into the iridescence of Painting.
Well, there was such a storm, truly a world-
historical tempest, of which something will



20G MUSIC AND THE FINE ARTS.

be said later. At present we are to observe
that the one direct ray is refracted into many
diverse rays, or is broken into a varied
multiplicity of light which is manifested by
a colored radiance. This is the element
which Painting specially seizes upon for self-
ntterance. Not the one straight light, but the
broken self-separated light is the illumina-
tion of this art. The element of nature in
which it moves has, therefore, an inner di-
vision which it throws out into color. Now
this elemental color, bearing in its very ori-
gin a breach within itself, will suggest to the
artist who feels his material, the soul's
breach which is verily the deepest content of
Painting. Hence it comes that this art at its
highest creative reach has portrayed the su-
preme separation or breach in the universe,
that of God become man, the infinite descent
into the finite, the immortal suffering mor-
tality. Such is the risen consciousness which
calls for and begets Christian Painting.

The intimacy between Light and Mind or
Self has always been felt by man, and has
found expression probably in every tongue.
Light is Nature's metaphor for spirit's in-
telligence; the soul bleeds and laughs in
color. Hence we easily think that the light
in a picture is its mind, and the play of col-
ors is its life of emotions and mental activi-



PAINTING. 207

ties. Moreover the colored separation of
light, though external and physical, suggests
the inner separation of the Self in the act of
consciousness. For the simple implicit Ego,
like white light, divides within itself and
thus attains self-manifestation, and becomes
self-aware; the inner rainbow of soul seeks
and loves the painted rainbow as its own
first jDicture, in which it sees itself. Such is
the primal affinity between the Ego and
Painting; both are manifested in colors, in-
ner and outer, and are made to shine by the
refracted rays of pure light, here of Nature
and there of Spirit, both of which are ulti-
mately of the one All-Self (Pampsychosis).
It may be here noted that the descent of the
Supreme Light into finite bodies appearing
in color will be specially celebrated by Great
Painting, which will seek to reveal God Him-
self in His many-tinted individuation.

Owing to this more intimate and complete
relation to the Self, Painting stands nearer
to us and affects us more directly and pro-
foundly than Sculpture. "Besides, we mod-
erns are more subjective than the ancients,
and the Christian art-world is still our own
in faith, more or less, being closer to us by
many centuries than that of Hellas, which at
its highest hardly knew that inner chasm of
soul which is the sovereign theme of Paint-



208 MUSIC A\D THE FIXE ARTS.

ing. In general we observe tliat light itself
with its manifold separations corresponds to
the pivotal character of this Art, which, as
already stated, is separative. Another con-
sonant quality of light should be here in-
serted : it is radiant and flies from its center,
the sun ; it will separate from its source, and
therein is opposite to matter which gravi-
tates toward its center, seeking to become
one with the same. Light then, taken in its
own natural act, is separative, a kind of pro-
tester; it is the counterstroke to the heavy
earth, which gravitates while all light de-
gravitates and rays outward through the
physical universe; in scientific phrase light
is diacosmical while matter as such, for in-
stance the marble, is cosmical. But this is
not the end of division. Nature still further
divides light in a many-colored prismatic ra-
diance which Painting seizes upon to repre-
sent its deepest potencies. Thus, Painting
is illumined inside, while Sculpture is dark
inside; we might conceive the statue to be
flattened into a picture, and thereby to have
its unsunned implicit internality pressed out-
ward into sheen and color, which, however,
would be a new revelation transcending the
Greek God and his art.

III. Here we are to emphasize the fact
that in the eiitire movement of civilization



PAixTixa. 209

and its arts of expression there lias been but
one supreme moment of Painting, a moment
lasting several centuries indeed, yet one
epochal sovereignty of the Art, never before
or afterwards attained. This imperial time
of Painting flowered in Italy during the Thir-
teenth Century and held its supremacy to-
Avard three hundred years. AVhy just then,
why just there, why just this Art, are ques-
tions which must be fathomed if we would
strive to touch the bottom of our theme.

In general, the Christian world-view had
supplanted that of Classic Heathendom, and
a new Art sprang up for the adequate ex-
pression of the new order. The descent of
the God-Man or divine individual (Christ)
through the mortal woman, in common with .
all humanity, was the germ of a new faith
Avhicli brought man into a new relation with
the Creator of the Universe. Through the one
Son of God manifesting a career of mortality,
every finite human soul was, or could be, me-
diated anew with its universal source, and
was also exalted into participation with di-
vine sonship, becoming conscious of its ce-
lestial heritage. Tluis arose the conception
of tlie Mediator between God and Man, of
the God-Man connected in origin with both
extremes, born of an immortal and mortal pa-
rent. This became the living faith of the

14



210 MUSIC AXD THE FINE ARTS.

folk, the ever-throbbing heart of Christen-
dom. At this stage we should likewise note
that the Christian Mythns began to unfold as
the people's expression of their deepest be-
lief in the divine order. Art springs out of
this mythical substrate of the folk-soul, mint-
ing the crude but precious ore into forms of
beauty. Now Painting, as we often see, ex-
tracts from the Christian Mythus its grand-
est theme and inspiration. But when the
artist loses his faith in his Mythus and in the
truth of its divinity, his art is waning from
its sovereign worth, whatever may be his
technical dexterity.

Just here indeed lies the ultimate dualism
of Painting, the deepest point of separation
which we have noted as inherent in its char-
acter. The descent of God into the God-
Man is that of the infinite into the finite, of
the universal into the particular, of the in-
visible into the visible. Evidently here
yawns the chasm between the supremely cre-
ative One and its created manifestation, be-
tween the boundless All and the bounded
Many, that is, between the unpicturable and
the picturable. In the nature of the case
Painting has properly to do with the latter;
it gives the God-descended but not rightly
the God, who is the Beyond. Still all Chris-
tian Painting points to what is above itself,



PAIXTIXG. 211

to that something iiiipaiiited and iTiipaint-
able, uttering the seen aspiration for the un-
seen. In the Sistine Madonna what is the
mother looking at, what the chihl, what the
cherubs? Certainly at something not in the
picture, at just the unpicturable One, whose
spirit descends into and shines through their
faces where we the people may behold it and
share in it also. Thus the painter becomes
a new mediator between his folk and deitv,
by means of his Art ; in such a work he me-
diates the divine Mediator, and Painting
reaches its supreme function, becoming an
instrument of human salvation in the faith
of the time, and of man's reconciliation with
the Highest. Mark then this twofoldness of
the Art, wliicli paints the unpainted through
the painted.

Such a dualism is not found in the Hellenic
God-world and hence not in its Sculpture.
Greek Zeus descended into the finite shape
moulded by Phidias; that was just the di-
vine manifestation ; the Greek sculptor
evoked the immediate presence of the God
into his artistic form. There was in his re-
ligion no God-Man, nor Madonna, nor Saints
who would irradiate from their seen mortal
looks the one unseen supreme Godhood.
Greek faith was essentially polytheistic, even
if there was a lurking conception of unity



212 MUSIC AXD THE FINE ARTS.

and sovereignty in Zens, who, however,
would also appear in marble shape like the
rest of the Olympians. So it comes that the
Christian dualism between the unseen and
seen, the beyond and here, the other-worldly
and this-worldly, which runs through medie-
val Painting is as yet but implicit in Greek
Sculpture, even if this gives many a hint of
the impending cleavage in its later Hellen-
istic development.

And yet Painting often tried, in spite of
its own limits; to form the Supreme One be-
yond all natural form. That triune descent
of Father, Son, Spirit, was ever present in
the soul of the artist ; dared he realize its
form in full? Often he suggested the First
Person by a cloud, veiling the Beyond while
pointing to it; then the outlines of a face
might be given with a shrinking glance.
Sometimes a mere mathematical figure like
a triangle or circle was drawn as a symbol
of Godhead ; then again the divine hand
would extend out of a nebulous background,
leaving the rest invisible. Still other more
daring artists would show the face, the bust,
the whole form, liveried at times like a Pope,
or perchance like the Super-Pope. Northern
artists, as Dlirer and van Eyck have made
God appear on their canvas. Even gentle,
dareless Raphael did the same, though we



PAINTING. 213

believe against his instinct, if we may judge
by his greatest works which avoid this clash
with the bounds of his Art (see the Sistlne
Madonna and the Trayis figuration). Raph-
ael at Rome probably felt the spur of a
mightier genius whom he would imitate or
rival, and so dared somewhat after his ex-
amplar. This was Michel Angelo, whose
very character, barrier-bursting, Heaven-de-
fying, w^ould push him to challenge God Him-
self to a revelation in pictured shape. So he
has shown on the ceiling of the Sistine
Chapel the Supreme Creator in the very
act of primordial creation, cleaving chaos,
bowling forth from his hand the balls of the
cosmos — sun, moon, stars — and finally cre-
ating man and also woman. The original
separation of the physical universe from its
source, the individuation of the human being,
and even his diremption into the two sexes,
are here set forth after the Bible, yet in a
new Bible which weighs upon us with the im-
pression of superhuman inspiration. In the
pictures of the Sistine Chapel, Painting has
concluded its supreme work, has delivered
its uttermost message, yea has broken over
the very limits of its artistic existence. It
calls for some new expression of the time's
artificer, of the World- Spirit.

The descent of God into Nature and Man



214 M its If AXD THE FIXE ARTIS.

is thus portrayed by Michel Angelo in a
mighty reconstruction of the Biblical
Mytlius, though the incarnation of the God-
Man is not here represented, being the tliroe-
ful genetic labor of all Painting, and never
fully mastered by Michel Angelo himself to
his own satisfaction, as we may infer from
the many struggling fragments of this
theme scattered through his whole life. More
about this greatest hero of his Art will be
said hereafter, but now we may note that he
sought to embody in one colossal sweep of
his genius the total Mythus of Christendom,
indeed of all civilization including classical
Heathendom, with whose mythical character
he "was peculiarly intimate.

IV. It is necessary at this point to give
some account of the Christian Mvthus, which
is the original substrate out of which Paint-
ing springs, and from which it takes its deep-
est and most native themes. In general, the
Mythus is the product of the folk-soul of
the age, wdiich creates the same as its own
immediate form of self-expression; no indi-
vidual makes or can make this elemental
stuff of all Art, but only the people possess
that genetic power. The Mythus primarily
sets forth an Upper World, that of the su-
pernal Powers who come down to our human
realm and in one way or other shape its



PAINTING. 215

destiny. The descent of Godhead into the
human individual, who thus becomes the God-
Man, the Christ, born of a mortal mother, is
the first genetic starting-point of the Chris-
tian Mythus, which heralds a new world-
order with its Art. Stress is now put upon
the mother with her love of the child, which
is henceforth to have its place in the develop-
ment of humanity. The Greek did not realize;
this love, nor did the Orient, even if we may
discern hints of it in certain Egyptian pres-
entations of Isis and Plorus. Mother-love
thus becomes an ever-active force of the
Christian Mythus, to be reproduced in count-
less painted forms. But Father-love is by
no means left out of the account: "for God
so loved the world that he gave his only be-
gotten son" for its redemption. The indi-
viduation of man and of all things is ascribed
to love, which will receive its highest realisa-
tion in the Christ-life.

The development of the Christian Mythus
took many centuries, starting from its first
germ in the Incarnation till it reached its
fairest and completest efflorescence in Ital-
ian Art. What was it doing all this time?
It was working over into its own material
the other mythical beliefs of the people with
which it came into contact; it had to trans-
mute the native expression of the folk-soul



216 MVHW AND THE FINE AliTii.

wliicli takes the form of legend, fable, mar-
velous tale, into the mythical utterance of a
new faith. The Greek Mvthus, which it met
everywhere still alive in the Roman Empire,
was always recounting by means of
Poetry and Sculpture, as well as pop-
ular tradition, the epiphany of the God
in human shape, but this revealed no divine
sonship as mediatorial, even if such a hint
might be some times glimpsed in the hero
like Hercules, born of Zeus and a mortal
mother. The Semitic Mythus, native to the
founder and his earliest disciples, furnished
the conception of the one unseen God, whose
manifestation in a graven image was forbid-
den by the law. Now both the Greek and Se-
mitic contributions were taken up by the
Christian Mythus, whose art, as already
said, had as its double theme, the God both
visible and invisible. Nor was this all. The
invading Teutonic tribes of the North, known
as barbarians, had infused fresh and uncor-
rupted blood into the civilized but decayed
people of the old civilization; in this way the
Teutonic Mythus with its peculiar charac-
ter had become an ingredient of the seeth-
ing mythical caldron of Italy, especially of
the upper half of the peninsula. Who does
not feel this element in Dante and Michel
Angelo? And there is even a still lower sub-



PAiXTixa. 217

strate in bdtli, which reaches far down to the
old Etruscan consciousness with its religious
stress upon the future state. Indeed there
was a second or Tuscan flowering in the
later Middle Ages of the City-States of
ancient Etruria similar to that which existed
at the dawn of Roman History. Florence
was the greatest of these medieval Tuscan
communities and especially the home of Art
and Poetry which sprouted up so luxuriantly
there from the Christian Mythus, culminat-
ing in the two men just named. But that
which we must now grasp is that the myth-
ical stores of numerous peoples were taken
into and gradually elaborated by the new re-
ligious world-view which first budded in Ju-
dea and thence spread out over the ancient
world, fusing all its faiths and their expres-
sion in mythology.

There is no doubt that many artistic tra-
ditions and dexterities had come down
through the Byzantine period from old Hel-
las. Still this period brought forth no orig-
inal art of Painting, being fixed and mummi-
fied in spirit-crushing prescription. At last
the hour of freedom struck, the human mind
was ready, the Mythus was ready, and so \vas
Providence. Only once before have we
noticed such an outburst of the human soul
into its supreme expression in Art. That



218 MUSIC A^D THE FIXE ARTS.

was at Athens when Phidias produced the
sculpture of the Parthenon. Not merely the
artist, not merely Athens and Greece, human-
ity itself was present in that artistic deed
done at the pivotal moment. We may con-
ceive that the World-Spirit turned sculptor
just then, and really never since; in like
phrase it may be said that the World-Spirit
took to Painting in Italy for his own highest
self-expression, and then after some three
centuries laid down his brush forever. For
this reason we today study and appropriate
these two supremacies of Art as an essential
stage of humanity's evolution as well as ut-
terance, and hence of our own. When Civili-
zation herself makes statues or paints faces,
we have to look, and doubtless all futurity
will keep up and deepen the gaze.

At present, however, our attention centers
upon the Christian Mythus as the protoplas-
mic material out of which is shaped the ar-
tistic forms of Painting in its supreme call-
ing. The artist is to employ such material
primordially given and to transfigure it into
his Art according to his faculty.

V. It is worth while to take a brief sur-
vey of the content of the Christian Mythus
as it revealed itself in Painting. This leg-
endary lore shot out in all directions among
the people, varying with the locality, taking



PAINTING. 219

the color of the narrator, moulded to the
time; its plasticity is what we wish here to
note, formable to the hand of the artist who
had to transfigure a theme already familiar
to the popular mind., which wanted not a new
subject but a new and better and more beau-
tiful interpretation of what lay already
brooding in its consciousness.

It has been previously indicated that the
generative source of the Christian Mythus
was the divine descent into human form, the
appearance of the Christ in mortality. Thus
there is an upper world in this Mythus, the
miraculous, the supra-natural, supra-scien-
tific, the truly mythical element, which is a
phase of the human soul, indeed a phase of
the universal soul. This is what has now to
manifest itself in a vast multiplicity of forms
which shoot into all the colors of the rain-
bow. Christ becomes somatic and finite
and hence the varied and variegated theme
of Art. Zeus is also somatic in Sculpture,
and so has likewise a finite sensuous mani-
festation in body, with which, however, he
seems quite serene and satisfied, notwith-
standing the line of destiny which weaves
through his equanimous, self-contained look.
But the one infinite God hovers over all
Painting as over our variable, visible, many-
tinted world — He, the unpictured and the un-



220 MUSIC AXD THE FIXE ARTS.

picturable in spite of the God-darer, Michel
Aiigelo. Such is the last yet creative dual-
ism of this Art, the inner breach which makes
it, giving its ultimate character. We may
consolidate all Painting of this period into
a single colossal Picture, embracing the
work of three centuries and conceive one
hand wielding the brush — whose is it! He
paints Himself becoming the human and
paintable, the One unpainted and the Many
painted, yet both present in the same picture,
and each through the other. Such is the pe-
culiar mystery of the Mytlius in Painting,
partaking of both the unseen and seen,
wherein the colored sheen of the body is
made to irradiate its primordial creative
source, the universal Creator.

We shall now try to give a brief outline
of this painted Mythus of Christendom (as
distinct from the sculptured Mythus of
Heathendom) which rays out into a million-
fold tinted diversity of finite forms, as if
bursting from a central sun into a given
stretch of Space at a given momentary stroke
of Time. Of course only some general group-
ings can be noted in an uncounted variety of
themes.

(1) The start is made with the epiphany
of the God-Man on Earth, which naturally
hovers about the Mother and Child (Madon-



PAINTING. 221

na and Bambino). There is the Annuncia-
tion to the Virgin (a favorite mythical con-
ception) ; the Visitation usually with the
cousin Elizabeth; the Nativity in the manger
with the ox (Jew) and the ass (Gentik^
looking on; the Adoration of Magi, which
legend traversed Europe from Constanti-
nople to Cologne where it was transformed
into the Ploly Three Kings; on the other
hand was the humbler Adoration of the Shep-
herds. Then the countless Holy Families
with great variety in treatment and numbers
present; especially the Mother and Child,
with the pictured procession from above
through the Holy Spirit (in form of the
dove) from the Father. Then comes the
Earthly descent of the mortal side, introduc-
ing the parents of Mary and even of Joseph.
So the Mythus unfolds on all sides seeking
to reflect the new Birth of Time in all its di-
versified relations. Connected with these
appearances is the vast population of the
Upper World — archangels, angels, seraphs,
cherubs, spirits. Such was the mass of
mythic material which kept re-enacting the
new divine individuation of man and its ap-
pearance as infant along with the human
mother. This given material the artist took
in hand, forming it afresh according to his
gift and the time's demand. That artistic



222 MUSIC AXD Tin: fixij arts;.

gift showed itself at its best in the ability to
make Love radiant from the human face and
form, Divine Love. Mother, Son, Disciples,
Saints, are all transfused with this celestial
sheen of Love which unites the children of
the Faith.

(2) The mature Christ is the theme which
Painting elaborates next in order with great
fullness. The Mother and the Holy Family
recede into the background, and Joseph quite
disappears, in fact dies. The Apostles be-
come the associates of the propagator, and
the scenes recorded in the Gospels are typ-
ical examples of the embryonic Mythus. The
adolescent Christ is scantily treated by
Painting, though the Dispute in the Temple
may be placed in this period. But events
connected with his trial, death and resurrec-
tion have been depicted in countless varia-
tions, often with the highest degree of power
and sympathy. For here lies the supreme
conflict between the old and the new order;
the bearer of an incoming world is judged,
condemned, and executed by an outgoing
world, which still has authority. Such is the
subject of innumerable pictures which kept
vividly before the minds of the people the
deepest process of Christendom; every Ital-
ian community had to have its painter who
preached the most effective sermon with his



PAIXTING. 223

pictured stor}' of the Cross varied in thou-
sandfold appeal through form and color.
Here is the suffering of the finite individual
pushed to its last extreme ; what are you go-
ing to do with it, man ? Transfigure it into
its divine part ; make it a stage of the return
to God.

Painting thus becomes a mediator of the
folk, indeed a mediator of the Mediator who
is to be made visible in his entire process of
mediation. For this Italian people must
see him in order to know him, in order to be
mediated at all. They were a sense-people,
and could only reach the Divine through a
somatic presentation. Christ himself had to
become anthropomorphic literally, to save
man, his fellow-mortal; Painting followed in
deepest sympathy and also became anthro-
pomorphic, and so it rose to be the supreme
Christian Art. But the time will come when
this Art wdll be questioned about its exter-
nality, its anthropomorphism must be called
to judgment. Then another deeper spiritual
change will strike on the horologe of History,
and Painting will droop from its artistic as-
cendency as mediatorial.

(3) After the personal evanishment of
the Mediator, the Christian Mvthus is still
active, in some respects more active than



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