The Exhibition of the Royal Academy

Chas. E. Pascoe, Charles E. Pascoe
1875 The Art Journal (1875-1887)  
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more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. THE ART JOURNAL. I85 homely themes, not suggestive of stirring thought or fine emotion to a superficial observer. Whence, then, did Millet surmmon that poetical beauty which is the great characteristic of his compo sitions ? Ho'w was it that, in the representation of a life which possessed in itself little charm and something to repel, he conveyed to the mind of the spectator an infinite tenderness, a sweet sad ness, a sense of brotherly love? This feeling was called up by the deep compassion of his nature, by his fervent sympathies, and his devout faith. 'The Angelus' may be taken as a marked exam ple of the ideality which he lent to the ordinary. Here one sees a great ploughed field, with a grey sky, a somewhat misty atmo sphere, a little church in the distance, and, just along the horizon, a silver'gleam of light. In the middle of the field stand two pea sants, a man and a woman, who for a moment suspend their labour and bend their heads reverentially at the sound of the church-bell. The lines of toil are stamped upon the faces of the two, and upon their figures; the colourless sky,. the wide-spreading dark earth, which they have been compelling to fruitfulness, monotonous and dreary, tell the tale of the peasant's life; the gleam of light over the little church and the expressiQn of religious faith in the work ers as they listen to the angelus relieve the gloom of the scene, and-indicate the hope which makes those dark days of toil endura ble. Labour and patience, that was what Millet saw before him; over these ideas and their associations his sadness brooded, and out of these his fine spirit and his extraordinary skill of hand ex tracted a beauty so profound, that to see it unmoved is impossible. Eyes which can look complacently at pictures like ' The Roll-Call,' or ' The Death of Nelson,' or ' The Death of General Wolfe,' or such-like heroic displays, may drop tears at Millet's solemn, almost unintentional pathos. Sometimes he rouses emotion by the idea which he calls up of Nature's bounteous gifts, as in the picture of 'Spring.' Whether he chooses the bright or the mournful aspect of country-life, he is always true; he is never sentimental. The feeling by which he engages our sympathies is profound; he does not strive to exhibit or make the most of it, he only allows it to work out its own expression. Sentiment is a shred of emotion decked out so as to attract attention. Trick is a particular mode apart from truth, and generally an exaggeration of truth, adopted to excite surprise and to produce immediate effect. There is none of it in any production of Millet's. In the now-famous picture called 'Le Veau,' where the new-born calf is being carried in a barrow to the field, and its mother is walking alongside with out stretched neck licking the little one, there is no effort to impart a human expression to the cow; it is simply the unforced image of maternity and its simplicity. There was hardly any object from which Millet could not distil some unexpected charm. There are painters who delight in distortion, and adopt it as a substitute for force. It has, no doubt, a disagreeable energy, which, in some instances, strikes the spectator so sharply that he is wvilling to ac cept astonishment for admiration, and to attribute superhuman power to the painter, who is so unflinching in his antagonism to the beautiful. There is much more matter for honest wonder and reverence in the strength of Millet's work. Any one who has
doi:10.2307/20568710 fatcat:d7cvj4hsojfdbovhp6mk45pzym