Imagini ale paginilor


weakly; if she hesitates to write of her own experiences; and if she thinks it freferable to write of events and localities about which she personally knows nothing, instead of her own familiar and homely surroundings, she has mistaken her vocation. Her intellectual training she will find a very satisfactory acquisition; and the experience with her pen will stand her in good stead in letter-writing and as secretary of village sewing-circles and literary societies; but the world at large has no need of her. So let her obey St. Paul's injunction and keep silence in public.

Granted that a wonian possesses the intellectual culture, the practical experience with the pen, and the ideas; now comes the last question : Does she feel an irrepressible desire to write? Can fancied want of time prevent her? Do difficulties of any sort hinder her? Can discouragements daunt her? If so, the crown of author. ship was never destined to rest upon her brow. If she is inclined to fritter away her time in trifles, let her fritter it away-her vocation is not writing. If she is not actuated by a powerful, overwhelming impulse to write--an impulse which will not be denied, and which causes her thoughts to rest upon her like unendurable burdens, which can only be shaken off by the aid of the pen—and which compels her to commit them to paper in spite of every obstacle--she has not the strength of character, and the fervor of inspiration, which indicate that writing is her especial, undoubted vocation,

The little, feeble stream, which flows intermittently—now a threu of silver, now its bed entirely dry—may be dammed, and only a muddy pool, stagnant and without power, is the result. But the ever-flowing river becomes a mighty flood, and forces its way through, and breaks down every barrier, and Hows in a resistless torrent, in the path that God has ordained for it. The writer will write and inust write. Denial, obstacles, difficulties, hindrances, only develop more strongly the power which has accumulated behind them.

These are the men and women to whom the angel says “Write;" and when they have written, the world will gladly read what they have to say.



A CENTURY ago, the country's struggle was for life. Having won independence, she maintained her existence by constant exertion. Beginning with nothing, she has grown to be wealthy and powerful. Busy much of her life in combat with foes with. out and foes within, fighting the battles of the Revolution, those of 1812, and of Mexico, assailing ignorance by her public schools, opposing abolitionism to slavery, meeting secession with rifle and cannon, gaining victory over time and space by wonderful inventions, she has waxed strong. In the full flush of health and strength, she Stands now at the beginning of a new century. The countries of the world have this year sent their Centennial greeting. Side by side with them she displays the riches of her products and almost vaingloriously points to the wealth of her soil, the abundance of her crops, the wonders of her machinery, the active intelligence of her people.

All these she boasts; but, through the hundred years just past, true to the puri. tanic influences of early life, which considered aspiration after beauty as idolatry in

[ocr errors]

the heart, and which zealously and carefully removed from the public gaze all temptation to such sinful indulgence, and whose virtues, though so manisest were yet so austere, she has hardly looked toward that Art and Art-culture which so beautifies and glorifies other countries. The people, not entirely unmindsul of the soothing and ennobling influence of beauty of form and color, have, it is true, gathered around them some worthy examples of architecture, sculpture and painting; some such examples have been produced among us.

On the other hand, no more severe criticism can be made on the taste of the American people than the character of the exhibits made at the Centennial Exhibition by one or two countries, who have retained at home their best works of art and sent to us only such showy and sensational things in decorative art, painting and sculpture as the mass of Americans love to buy.

But, within the last twenty years, there has certainly been growing a sense of our weakness in æsthetic culture; and, in the last five years, this has rapidly increased, so that simultaneous and similar action has been taken in various places without intercommunication. To one who has given attention to it, the movement is wonderful, as if one great thought was stirring the minds of the people, as if some powerful influence was working through the land. It is not only here and there, but everywhere through the country that the desire for art-education arises. The spirit of the age demands it.

How shall this demand be met? To whom shall art-education be given, and for what purposes ?

I reply: In its elements let it be given to every child. The elements of art are as necessary, as practical, and as practicable as the elements of language or of science. Art is a language, and, in its wisest practice, science is necessary.

I would have drawing a regular school exercise, not as an amusement but as a study, a study in which the powers of perception and conception are cultivated, in which analysis is called for, the judgment strengthened and wisely developed, the creative faculty recognized, and a love for the beautiful fostered and nourished. It should also be a study looking to eminently practical results, and so taught that those boys and girls who enter on mechanical pursuits should be better fitted for their work, that they should by it have attained a skill of hand and an accuracy of eye which should enable them, when they leave school for work, to pass rapidly over the edge of apprenticeship, and take not only the place of a workman but that of a skilled workman.

I would like to emphasize particularly the recognition of the creative faculty in this study. In our educational systems the power to produce, innate in a child, is almost lost sight of. The greater part, if not all, of school time is spent in teaching pupils to comprehend what has been produced by others, and their minds become simply receptive and lose their creative force.

To a child nothing is more delightful than to make something. The charm of mud pies lies in this, that something has been made. Kindergartners furnish every opportunity for the exercise of this faculty, giving to the children ways and means of creating, from the beginning of their education. The creative power is developed remarkably by drawing, and many who have watched its workings, have been surprised to discover a faculty whose existence had not been thought of,—the faculty to design. A teacher looking in wonder at a great number of designs, some of them really beautiful, which had been produced by her pupils, said to me, “ I have been teaching a long time, and know children pretty well, but I never dreamed that they could do this."

This creative faculty is permitted to lie dormant in the minds of most children, very little attempt being made to develop it. Moreover the culture attendant on the study of drawing, is sufficient argument for its use. In this busy, rough-and-tumble go-ahead age, the race is for money, leading us sometimes to think that the only end of our schools is to enable the pupils to go out in the world and make money, and to forget the deeper uses of education and culture. Could we have the elements of arteducation given to pupils through school lise, we should meet in some degree both sides of the case, having provided practical knowledge and skill which would command good wages, and, at the same time, education, cultivation and refinement.

This is not a utopian scheme, for it is carried out successfully in several cities of the country, notably in Boston.

There should also be ample provision for advanced instruction in art, by means of which those who are especially fitted for artistic pursuits might be trained. This word “ training" may sound harsh to some who have a fancy that an artist is gifted with inspiration, which enables him to produce works of art without study and without labor, that, by some mysterious gist vouchsafed to genius only, a drawing is made, the colors chosen, the canvas covered, and that art is profaned if training and study and labor are mentioned in connection with it.

But the truth lies here; Art is most exacting. She requires the most ardent secking, the most devoted study, and a hand perfectly under control. She requires thorough knowledge of the principles which underlie all good art work, and scorns the sentimental and crude productions of persons with some natural aptitude but no train ing. As there is no royal road to learning, so there is none to art, and only those who are willing to labor earnestly can tread the path.

We need, then, art schools, where the work shall be based upon principle and not on sentiment, and where the influences shall be in favor of persevering and steadfast labor, and not of aimless dilettanteism. This will not seem severe to any genuine art students, for they will realize that the delight in the labor and the consciousness of mastery obtained, will make it an enjoyment. If we look back through the history of art we find that those who have made themselves names have been unwearying students. Raphael and Michael Angelo, those two greatest of artists, have left us unmistakable evidences of this. The drawings of Raphael show how he built up, as it were, his figures. In many of his drawings the figure is first a skeleton, then clothed with flesh, and finally draped. The life of Michael Angelo is so well known that it is not necessary to dwell on his faithful, untiring and laborious study. Leonardo da Vinci, another great master, was an earnest inquirer into the principles of art, and Albert Durer, the father of German art, reduced his work to science as far as lay in his power. These did not fear the materialization of art by the exposition of fixed laws concerning it, but they felt the need of a solid and enduring foundation on which to raise their beautiful superstructure. Art schools are not numerous in this country, and there is need for one in every State -a university of art, so lo speak, which should be broad in its foundation and scope; which should furnish instruction in industrial and decorative art, in drawing, painting, architecture and sculpture ; which should provide lectures on the history and development of art; which should train teachers for the charge of art education in various parts of the state, and which should stand at the head of a system of art instruction, which should embrace elementary work in our primary and secondary schools, more advanced work in special art schools, and the highest work in the art university.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

I have said that there is need for these schools in every state. Still farther, they should be provided by the state. Massachusetts, as usual foremost in a good work, has already established a Normal Art School, and has a state director of art education. New York and California require elementary instruction in drawing to be given in their public schools; other states will follow.

Hitherto we have spoken of the training of those who are actual workers in art, and who may become artists in their special field. We need an appreciative public for these artists, and in America the appreciative public does not include the masses. It is thought by some that a picture or a statue, appealing as it does directly to the eye, must compel recognition, if worthy, and will at once be appreciated by all. But let such consider that the eye is susceptible of cultivation to a wonderful extent. To the child, broad masses of color are the most pleasing; later, an idea of form is gained, and a picture tells its story, but a circus poster is much more alluring than a Meyer von Bremen or a Frere. After a few years, the taste becomes somewhat elevated, and those chromos which are held out by shrewd business men as inducements to all sorts of purchases, from gastronomic to literary, are received as most beautiful. As the mind grows and expands, the power of receiving impressions through the eye is greatly increased and refined, and the youth begins to take a keen delight in harinonies of color and subtleties of light and shade. A picture which would once have been to him an unmeaning, mottled surface now reveals to him something of the artist's thought, and elevates him to its plane. And so he progresses until he may be ready at last to enter into the very arcana of art, to rejoice in Raphael, to ascend to the Olympian heights of the sculpture of the Greeks. I have spoken here of the progress from childhood to manhood of one who has been fortunate in his opportunities for culture.

The great mass of our people, however, though of mature yeurs, is in its art childhood, and the greater majority have not passed the circus-poster state, while a multitude have advanced only to advertising chromos. There are many art purchasers who select according to the frames, and there are many who esteem themselves as connoisseurs, who line their walls with pictures in which bad drawing and crude coloring vie with each other.

For all these, public exhibitions, loan collections and art museums must be the educators. A recent lively writer on the French says, “ The wide dissemination of art feeling has a refining tendency on the manners of all classes. Beautiful squares and parks, with walks and shady forests, fountains and lakes, are open to all. The eyes of the people are made familiar with architectural beauty as exhibited in the boulevards, bridges and public edifices of the great city. The magnificent art galleries are free to all who wish to see them, and the working-people visit them frequently, especially on Sundays and fete-days, when they are kept open for their benefit. The round of Pierre's and Justine’s recreation on these holidays usually be-, gins with a visit to the Louvre, the Luxembourg, or the Exposition, before they are off on their sylvan junketings, and the habit of being brought face to face with art has an influence on their lives. Thus the man in blouse is often familiar with the pictures of French masters. In the houses of the poor, there are no vapid keepsake heads in glowing colors, but copies of pictures exhibiting more or less merit. The deep red and blue Daniel in the lion's den, and the doll-faced Mary Ann, surrounded with an inch of bright mahogany, are not seen on their walls. The square, loudticking and loud-striking clock in red wood, and the plaster-of-paris cat or rabbit, painted in unnatural hues, have no places on their mantels. In humble cafes are found pictures which would be considered fit to hang in some of the best restaurants of London and New York.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Associations for the study and promotion of art do a most important work.

The sirring appeals for the formation of such societies, made by Mrs. Howe and Mrs. Doggett, of the Women's Congress in Syracuse, last year, were not without their sruit. A most flourishing society, called the Portfolio Club, was the direct result in Syracuse. Its members, twenty-five in number, all young ladies, and nearly all workers in art, met weekly to listen to essays, readings, conversations and discussions on art, and provided an occasional evening entertainment for invited guests, at which the exercises were similar to those of the afternoon meetings, and at which a collection of the work of the members in drawing and painting, of photographs illustrating their subject, and such paintings by native and foreign artists as could be gathered, was displayed.

We have there also the Aesthetic Society, whose membership is formed from students at Syracuse University, and the Social Art Club. The latter has a membership of forty ladies, who, during the past winter, took the old masters as their study. The members of this club were not many of them workers in art, but students of art history. Their meetings for readings, essays and discussions, were in the afternoon mainly, and were illustrated by photographs, heliotypes and engravings of the works of the artists under consideration. These pictures were arranged to form an exhibition for the evening, when the friends of the members were invited, and the exercises were social. One lecture was given to the club on Michael Angelo. At the close of the season, the heliotypes purchased by the club were framed and hung in a room granted by the Board of Education, and will serve as a beginning for a public Art gallery.

I speak of the Art societies of Syracuse, because I have personal knowledge of them, but I am aware that the same spirit is moving in many of the larger cities. ' I very much hope that my example may be followed, and that others will tell of other Art societies, and the manner of conducting them,

The encouragement to work for the promotion of art-study and art-culture is very great. The public mind is ready. We gain some idea of the interest felt in the matter from the prominence and frequency of articles on art subjects in our weeklies and periodicals. Looking over the recent magazines, we find “ Art applied to Life” by Charles Myllis Elliott in the Galaxy, a series of articles by Clarence Cook in Scrib

- The Centennial seen through the Ariist's Eye” by Donald G. Mitchell in Scribner, &c. Harpers' publications have had their art articles for a long time; for example, the series on Household Art in the Bazar; those on Decorative Art and Modern Houses in the Monthly.

We have three magazines devoted partially or wholly to art ; “The American Builder," “ The American Architect," “ The Art Journal.”

All these must be in answer to the public demand.

Again, art takes its place among the themes for discussion in large and influential gatherings. The presentation of the topic “ The True Place of Art in Christianity” by Samuel Osgood and C. C. Perkins at the Episcopal Church Congress to convene in Boston on November 12, is a noteworthy example of this.

The materials for art study are constantly multiplying, and by the heliotype process illustrations are brought within the reach of all. The Centennial Exhibition will of necessity give impetus to art study and add to art culture. And those who cannot come and see for themselves will not fail to learn of the wonderful exhibits, in household and decorative art especially, and long to know more. Thus the ground is prepared for all efforts which may be made to promote ästhetic culture.

In conclusion let me repeat the question asked at the outset.


« ÎnapoiContinuați »