An Unfinished Discussion on Finish

1879 The Art Journal (1875-1887)  
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more » ... ntent 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. 316 TIIE ART JOURNAL. of the spring in Italy. M. Jules Lefebvre has also been out of Paris, having beeni detained in the country by the severe illness of his daughter. His superb ' Diana' goes to Lonclon, having been purchased by a wealthy English Art-collector. M. Castiglione is at work on two life-sized and full-length portraits, which will pro bably figure at the Salot of next spring. There is very little doing among our American painters, most of them being out of town. Mr. William Lippincott recently completed a fine portrait of the young son of Mr. Robert R. Hitt, our first Secretary of Lega tion. The charming little fellow (he is just three years old) makes a lovely picture, and the likeness is very striking. As an evidence of how the works of an artist occasionally rise in value after his death, I will cite the price paid for a sketch by Jean Baptiste Millet, which was sold at the Musard sale for eigh teen hundred dollars. It was purchased of a dealer some years ago for the sum of sixty dollars, and was considered to be well sold at that. LucY H. HOOPER. AN UNFINISHED DISCUSSION ON FINISH. _s r CHANCE of testing a few ideas by appropriate ; 1 artistic methods, and one which appears much too promising to be lost," remarked a querist on Art, "1 presents itself in this talk about our friend's picture, criticised so variously. And . may I ask, to begin with, to be instructed by this esteemed company of artists as to the true meaning of finish and its value in Art? For, beyond being in reality the moot point in the present case, it is what one hears most and knows least of in all the category of Art-subjects talked of in these days. The fact of artists being always so far from having one faith as to the relative importance of finish would of itself confuse the mind sufficiently, without noting back of that the conflicting multitude of ideas about its right significance which are continually disclosing themselves in any talk on Art. It seems not now a very insignificant number, nor I believe an altogether unworthy kind of artists, who profess to regard finish as something quite non-essential in Art, if not in the highest artistic appreciation an absolute injury. Occasionally they give us works of a beautiful order, such as men with theories most widely opposed to theirs consent very heartily to admire; with which come undeniably great things as well as great ideas from the artists whose belief as you remember was to some extent signified on the occasion of Burne-Jones's declaring, under grave judicial responsibility, that 'complete finish is the necessary quality of a picture.' " "1 Certainly," answered Pamphilus, with all his accustomed fresh ness, although looking a trifle older since Fortune has lately brought him so considerable an increase of fame and gold; "and nine tenths of the nmen who don't finish neglect to do so because they haven't the knowledge." "I If a young artist may lhasten to express an opinion, without the better courtesy of waiting for his elders," interposed Megaby zus, " I would say it is also true that nine-tenths of those who finish highly do so because they are mere workmen, and can nei ther feel nor express idleas. You may see one of the best illustra tions of the other case in Millet, who has too many ideas to waste himself as a workman." "But," added Theon-whose own pictures are highly noted for generalisation and suggestive effects-" the most common admira tion is for an eternal clap-trap of little things. Minds, instead of going out after meanings, go out after details. The majority of such pictures are without the quality of inspiring emotion, and you go all over them to find out what is in them. Where there is one with an exalted idea, there ar-e a thousand devoted to things such as women's dresses. It is a matter of fashion, and is not to be pre vented. Even a foreign picture of an imaginative character of the grander sort is clifficult of sale here. The trumpery trickeries are preferred-pictures which we may call natty-what is stronger and more hidden is not seen. Our people buy a picture which will sell againi, and not for what it suggests to the mind. A satire common in Paris a few years ago was that every American leaving that city departed with a Bouguereau under one arm and a Verboeckhoven under the other. But the imitators of Gerome produce the mean est style of Art, as G6rone himself does in his humdrum imitations of old pans and armour. ' The Duel after the Masquerade' was
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