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Pictures Every Child Should Know

Pictures Every Child Should Know

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Published by Aleksandar
Art, children, ...
Art, children, ...

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Published by: Aleksandar on Dec 29, 2009
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Pictures Every Child Should Know
Dolores Bacon
The Aleksandar freelanceACKNOWLEDGMENTSBesides making acknowledgments to the many authoritative writers uponartists and pictures, here quoted, thanks are due to such excellentcompilers of books on art subjects as Sadakichi Hartmann, Muther,C. H. Caffin, Ida Prentice Whitcomb, Russell Sturgis and others.INTRODUCTIONMan's inclination to decorate his belongings has always been one ofthe earliest signs of civilisation. Art had its beginning in the linesindented in clay, perhaps, or hollowed in the wood of family utensils;after that came crude colouring and drawing.Among the first serious efforts to draw were the Egyptian square andpointed things, animals and men. The most that artists of that daysucceeded in doing was to preserve the fashions of the time. Theirdrawings tell us that men wore their beards in bags. They show us,also, many peculiar head-dresses and strange agriculturalimplements. Artists of that day put down what they saw, and they sawwith an untrained eye and made the record with an untrained hand; butthey did not put in false details for the sake of glorifying thesubject. One can distinguish a man from a mountain in their work, butthe arms and legs embroidered upon Mathilde's tapestry, or the figuresrepresenting family history on an Oriental rug, are quite as correctin drawing and as little of a puzzle. As men became more intelligent,hence spiritualised, they began to express themselves in ideal ways;to glorify the commonplace; and thus they passed from Egyptiangeometry to gracious lines and beautiful colouring.Indian pottery was the first development of art in America and it ledto the working of metals, followed by drawing and portraiture. Amongthe Americans, as soon as that term ceased to mean Indians, art took amost distracting turn. Europe was old in pictures, great andbeautiful, when America was worshipping at the shrine of the chromo;but the chromo served a good turn, bad as it was. It was a linkbetween the black and white of the admirable wood-cut and the truecolour picture.
Some of the Colonists brought over here the portraits of theirancestors, but those paintings could not be considered "American" art,nor were those early settlers Americans; but the generation thatfollowed gave to the world Benjamin West. He left his Mother Countryfor England, where he found a knighthood and honours of every kindawaiting him.The earliest artists of America had to go away to do their work,because there was no place here for any men but those engaged inclearing land, planting corn, and fighting Indians. Sir Benjamin Westwas President of the Royal Academy while America was still revellingin chromos. The artists who remained chose such objects as DavyCrockett in the trackless forest, or made pictures of the ContinentalCongress.After the chromo in America came the picture known as the "buckeye,"painted by relays of artists. Great canvases were stretched andblocked off into lengths. The scene was drawn in by one man, who wasfollowed by "artists," each in turn painting sky, water, foliage,figures, according to his specialty. Thus whole yards of canvas couldbe painted in a day, with more artists to the square inch than are nowemployed to paint advertisements on a barn.The Centennial Exhibition of 1876 came as a glorious flashlight. Forthe first time real art was seen by a large part of our nation. Everyfarmer took home with him a new idea of the possibilities of drawingand colour. The change that instantly followed could have occurred inno other country than the United States, because no other people wouldhave travelled from the four points of the compass to see such anexhibition. Thus it was the American's _penchant_ for travel whichfirst opened to him the art world, for he was conscious even then ofthe educational advantages to be found somewhere, although thereseemed to be few of them in the United States.After the Centennial arose a taste for the painting of "plaques," uponwhich were the heads of ladies with strange-coloured hair; ofleather-covered flatirons bearing flowers of unnatural colour, or ofshovels decorated with "snow scenes." The whole nation began to revelin "art." It was a low variety, yet it started toward a goal whichleft the chromo at the rear end of the course, and it was a bettereffort than the mottoes worked in worsted, which had till then beenthe chief decoration in most homes. If the "buckeye" washand-painting, this was "single-hand" painting, and it did not take ageneration to bring the change about, only a season. After thePhiladelphia exhibition the daughter of the household "painted alittle" just as she played the piano "a little." To-day, much lessthan a man's lifetime since then, there is in America a universal lovefor refined art and a fair technical appreciation of pictures, whilealready the nation has worthily contributed to the world ofartists. Sir Benjamin West, Sully, and Sargent are ours: Inness,Inman, and Trumbull.The curator of the Metropolitan Museum in New York has declared thatportrait-painting must be the means which shall save the modernartists from their sins. To quote him: "An artist may paint a brightgreen cow, if he is so minded: the cow has no redress, the cow must
suffer and be silent; but human beings who sit for portraits seem tolean toward portraits in which they can recognise their own featureswhen they have commissioned an artist to paint them. A man _will_insist upon even the most brilliant artist painting him in trousers,for instance, instead of in petticoats, however the artist-whim maydirect otherwise; and a woman is likely to insist that the artist whopaints her portrait shall maintain some recognised shade of brown orblue or gray when he paints her eye, instead of indulging in a burntorange or maybe pink! These personal preferences certainly put a limitto an artist's genius and keep him from writing himself down amadman. Thus, in portrait-painting, with the exactions of truth uponit, lies the hope of art-lovers!"It is the same authority who calls attention to the danger that liesin extremes; either in finding no value in art outside the "oldmasters," or in admiring pictures so impressionistic that the objectsin them need to be labelled before they can be recognised.The true art-lover has a catholic taste, is interested in all forms ofart; but he finds beauty where it truly exists and does not allow thenightmare of imagination to mislead him. That which is not beautifulfrom one point of view or another is not art, but decadence. Thatwhich is technical to the exclusion of other elements remainstechnique pure and simple, workmanship--the bare bones of art. A thingis not art simply because it is fantastic. It may be interesting asshowing to what degree some imaginations can become diseased, but itis not pleasing nor is it art. There are fully a thousand picturesthat every child should know, since he can hardly know too much of agood thing; but there is room in this volume only to acquaint him withforty-eight and possibly inspire him with the wish to look up theneglected nine hundred and fifty-two.CONTENTSINTRODUCTIONI. Andrea del Sarto, Florentine School, 1486-1531II. Michael Angelo (Buonarroti), Florentine School, 1475-1564III. Arnold B”cklin, Modern German School, 1827-1901IV. Marie-Rosa Bonheur, French School, 1822-1899V. Alessandro Botticelli, Florentine School, 1447-1510VI. William Adolphe Bouguereau, French (Genre) School 1825-1905VII. Sir Edward Burne-Jones, English (Pre-Raphaelite) School, 1833-1898VIII. John Constable, English School, 1776-1837IX. John Singleton Copley, English School, 1737-1815

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