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Lecture III 1
Nietzsche's Art Principles in the History of Art

Part I
Christianity and the Renaissance

"For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." — Romans viii. 13.

        I shall now endeavour to show you when and where Nietzsche's Art doctrine, or part of it, has raised its head in the past, and to touch lightly upon the conditions which led to its observance.
        In doing this I shall travel backwards, zigzag fashion, from Rome, viâ Greece to Egypt, and beginning with Christianity, I shall show how the Holy Catholic Church succeeded in establishing one of the conditions necessary to all great Art, which, as I have said, is unity and solidarity lasting over a long period of time, and forming men according to a definite and severe scheme of values.

        1 Delivered at University College on Dec. 15th, 1910.

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1. Rome and the Christian Ideal.

        The compass of these lectures does not allow me to say anything concerning the Art of Rome. There are many aspects of this Art which are both interesting and important from the historical standpoint; but, from the particular point of view which I am now representing, temporal Rome does not concern me nearly as much as sacred Rome and its provincial Government.
        For the first act of the Christian power was not to volatilize the stone bulwarks of the monuments of antiquity, neither was it to spiritualize the citizen of the Roman Empire; but it was to convert Rome the secular administration into Rome the Eternal City.
        Long before the exterior of the Græco-Roman column was divided up and sub-divided, until, despite its volume, it seemed to have no solidity whatever; and long before men's eyes and bodies were transformed from broad, spacious wells of life into narrow, tenuous cylinders of fire, a teaching was spread broadcast over the Roman Empire, the devouring power of which was astounding, and the like of whose digestion has not been paralleled in history.
        The Romans in their latter days had degenerated through the decline among them of that very principle which is the basis of all great art — restraint. Always utilitarians, in the end they had become materialists, and finally their will power had disintegrated.

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        Then, suddenly — perhaps through the very fact that their will power had declined, and through a preponderance among them of a class of people who were unfit to allow themselves any material enjoyment, and who were conscious of this shortcoming — the pendulum of Life swung back with a force so great to the opposite extreme, that the Pagan world was shaken to its foundations, and in its death-agony stretched out its arms and embraced the foreign creed which said —
        "Flesh is death; Spirit is life and peace. The body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If ye live after the flesh ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." 1
        Here was a fundamentally new valuation, a totally novel outlook upon the world of man. Some extraordinarily magnetic creator of values had spread his will over an empire, and stamped his hand upon a corner of the globe, and "the blessedness to write upon the will of millenniums as upon brass," 2 promised to be his.
        Here was a principle which obviously must have found its origin in a class of mind which, in order to overcome the flesh at all, knew of no better means thereto than to cut it right away and for ever. It was not a matter of contriving some sort of desirable inner harmony; the will of the people in whom this creed took its roots was incapable of such an achievement. The order went: "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from

        1 Romans viii. 6, 10, 13.
        2 Z., III, LVI.

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thee . . . if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off!" Whenever the Spirit was mentioned it was spelt in capital letters and uttered in exalted tones; while the body, on the other hand, as the great obstacle to salvation, was written small. States of the soul became surer indices to the qualities "good," "beautiful," and "virtuous," than states of the body, and the paradox that Life was the denial of Life, was honestly believed to be an attainable ideal. In Lübke's words: "Christianity disturbed the harmony between man and nature, and introduced a sense of discordance by proclaiming to man a higher spiritual law, in the light of which his inborn nature became a sinful thing which he was to overcome." 1
        The people who acclaimed this teaching by instinct ultimately organized themselves, conquered the Pagan world, enlisted Pagan elements into their organization — Pagan spirit and Pagan order — and gradually accomplished a task which no other European values seem to have been able to do. They established one idea, one thought, one hope, in the breasts of almost all great Western peoples, from Ireland to Constantinople, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic.
        The power of their creation — the Church — was such that it co-ordinated the most heterogeneous elements, the most conflicting factors, and the most absurd contrasts. And, however much one may deprecate the nature of the type they advocated, and the ignoble valuation of humanity upon

        1 Outlines of the History of Art, Vol. I, p. 445.

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which their religion was based, as a Nietzschean, one can but acknowledge the power they wielded, the might with which they made one ideal prevail, and the art with which for a while they united and harmonized such discordant voices as those of the people of Europe.
        One can admire all this, I say, even though it is but a spiritual reflection of Rome's former power, her former victories, and her former law and order. 1
        For, soon, however un-Pagan the ideal may have been which the Church made to prevail, the methods it employed were purely Pagan methods.
        Fearing nothing, respecting nothing that was opposed to it, and not losing heart before the difficulty of vanquishing even the most formidable enemies of the expiring Empire — the Teutons away in the North — spiritual Rome thus set about its task of appropriating humanity; and all the art of the organizer, of the orator, of the painter, sculptor and architect, was speedily ordered into its service. If the type to which its ideal aspired were not already a general fact, then it must be made a general fact. It must be reared, cultivated and maintained.

        1 See H. H. Milman, D.D., History of Latin Christianity (Ed. 1864), Vol. I, p. 10. Speaking of Catholicism, he says: "It was the Roman Empire, again extended over Europe by a universal code, and a provincial government; by a hierarchy of religious praetors or proconsuls, and a host of inferior officers, each in strict subordination to those immediately above them, and gradually descending to the very lowest ranks of society, the whole with a certain degree of freedom of action, but a restrained and limited freedom, and with an appeal to the spiritual Cæsar in the last resort."

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        Strangely enough, the feat of vanquishing the German nation proved a thousand times easier to Rome the Eternal City, than it had done to Rome the Metropolis of the Greatest Empire of antiquity. The ancient Germans, with their strong tendency to subjectivity, to fantastic brooding and to cobweb spinning, and with their coarse, brutal natures unused either to restraint or to the culture that arises from it, fell easy victims to this burning teaching of the spirit, of faith, and of sentiment; 1 and it was in their susceptible and untutored breasts that Christianity laid its firmest foundation.
        In its work of appropriation and consumption, as I say, the Church halted at nothing.

2. The Pagan Type appropriated and transformed by Christian Art.

        Just as St. Paul had not refrained from taking possession of the Unknown God whom the Athenians ignorantly worshipped, by declaring

        1 See J. B. Bury, A History of the Roman Empire, Vol. I, p. 17: It has been said that the function of the German nations was to be the bearers of Christianity. The growth of the new religion was indeed contemporary with the spread of the new races in the Empire, but at this time in the external events of history, so far from being closely attached to the Germans, Christianity is identified with the Roman Empire. It is long afterwards that we see the mission fulfilled. The connection lies on a psychological basis: the German character was essentially subjective The Teutons were gifted with that susceptibility which we call heart, and it was to the needs of the heart that Christianity possessed endless potentialities of adaptation. . . . Christianity and Teutonism were both solvents of the ancient world, and as the German nations became afterwards entirely Christian we see that they were historically adapted to one another."

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Him to be precisely the God whom he had come among them to proclaim, so Christianity did not refrain from incorporating all the suitable features of the Pagan faith into its own creed.
        The Pagan type was thus the first thing to be assimilated and absorbed, and in the early Christian paintings of the catacombs you must not be surprised to find the Saviour depicted with all the beauties and charms of the classical god or hero. Here he appears as a Hermes, there as an Apollo, and yonder as an Orpheus. 1 Beardless, young, and strong, Christ stalks towards you. His gait is free his carriage majestic. Across his shoulders you will sometimes see, as in the catacombs of the Via Appia in Rome, that he bears a sheep, and he looks for all the world like a young Hermes, who, as you know, was the Greek god of flocks.
        Elsewhere he looks like a Roman senator, as in the catacomb of St. Callixtus, for instance; his mother Mary looks like a Roman matron, praying with uplifted hands, and the apostles Peter and Paul, together with the prophets, appear as peripatetic philosophers, grasping learned-looking scrolls of manuscript, while Daniel is presented as a Hercules. 2

        1 On this point see Kraus, Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, Vol. I, pp. 41, 46 et seq. Muther, Geschichte der Malerei, Vol. I, p. 13. Woltmann and Woermann, History of Painting, Vol. I, pp. 151–156. Paul Lacroix, Les Arts au Moyen Age et à l'Epoque de la Renaissance (Ed. 1877, Paris), p. 254.
        2 See J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, The History of Painting in Italy (Ed. 1903), Vol. I, p. 4. Woltmann and Woermann, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 156.

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        Even the famous bronze statue of St. Peter in his great church at Rome is in fact an antique statue of a consul which has been transformed into a Peter, and the original of this monument was probably quite innocent of the sanctity which has caused the foot of his effigy to be worn away by the kisses of the faithful. 1
        This bold manner of appropriating the Pagan ideal in Art was but the symbol of what was actually occurring in the outside world; for the object was not to glorify the Pagan type, but to overthrow it, to transform it by degrees into the type which was compatible with Christian values, and thus to obliterate it.
        We can watch this process. We can see the classic features and form of body surely and permanently vanishing from the wall decorations of the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries A.D., and the Christian type asserting itself with ever greater assurance. Already in San Paolo fuori-le-mura in Rome, which had been decorated about the middle of the fifth century, 2 Christ appears bearded, 3 ugly and gloomy, and his apostles reflect his appearance and mood. In the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, of the sixth century, the spirit of the antique had almost passed away; 4 in the basilica of San Lorenzo fuori-le-mura the bearded Christ is no longer sublime and dignified, but wan and

        1 Woltmann and Woermann, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 156.
        2 J. A. Crowe and G. B. Cavalcaselle, op. cit., pp. 14, 15.
        3 For a discussion of the material causes of the change of type, see Milman, op. cit., Vol. IX, p. 324.
        4 Crowe and Cavalcaselle, op. cit., Vol. I, pp. 24, 25.

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emaciated; 1 while in the Church of SS. Nazarus and Celsus at Ravenna, there is a mosaic of the fifth century in which even the sheep are beginning to look with gloomy and dissatisfied eyes upon the world about them.
        Examples could be multiplied almost indefinitely to prove how slow but sure was this gradual self-assertion of the type that was compatible with Christian values, and the early period of mediæval art is well described by Woltmann and Woermann as one in which the classical cast of figure and features gets swallowed up in ugliness. 2
        Finally, in the seventh century, the most daring and most extraordinary artistic feat of all was accomplished. The greatest paradox the world had ever seen — a god on a cross — was portrayed for men's eyes to behold. The Crucifixion became one of the loftiest subjects of Christian art, and the god of the Christians was painted in his death agony.
        I will not dwell upon the manifold influences exercised by this class of picture; I simply record the fact, in order to show with what steadily increasing audacity the Church ultimately realized and exhibited its type.
        For, the fact that Christian Art was didactic, as all art is which is associated with the will and idea of a fighting cause, and which is born on a soil of clashing values, nobody seems to deny. 3

        1 Woltmann and Woermann, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 185.
        2 Woltmann and Woermann, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 230.
        3 See an interesting discussion on the early Christian attitude towards art in Kraus, Geschichte der christlichen

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Paulinus of Nola, Gregory the Great, Bishop Germanus, Gregory the Second, 1 John of Damascus and Basil the Great were all agreed as to the incalculable worth of images in the propagation of the Christian doctrine, and their attitude, subsequently adopted by the Franciscans and Dominicans, lasted, according to Milman, until very late in the Middle Ages. When it is remembered, moreover, that illuminated manuscripts, which were destined to remain in the hands of single individuals, retained the classical mould of body and features much later than did the work for church decoration, it is not difficult to discover the strong motive which lay behind the production of public art. 2
        With Roman culture and art, the western and northern provinces of Gaul, Spain, Germany and Britain thus received their religion and their ideal type; and if to-day, in our ball-rooms and drawing-rooms we are often confronted with tenuous, flame-

Kunst, Vol. I, pp. 58 et seq. See also Milman's conclusions on the subject, History of Latin Christianity, Vol. II, pp. 345, 346.
        1 See his letter to Leo the Isaurian, quoted by Milman, op. cit., Vol. II, pp. 358–361. See also the Rev. J. S. Black's article on "Images" in the Encyclopædia Britannica (9th Edition).
        2 The Rev. J. S. Black says, in his article on "Images," above referred to, that even as early as the fourth or fifth centuries there is evidence of the tendency to enlist art in the service of the Church, while Woltmann and Woermann (op. cit., Vol. I, p. 167) quote the following instance: "When St. Nilus (A.D. 450) was consulted about the decoration of a church, he rejected as childish and unworthy the intended design of plants, birds, animals, and a number of crosses, and desired the interior to be adorned with pictures from the Old and New Testaments, with the same motive that Gregory II expressed afterwards. . . ."

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like, swan-necked creatures, that recall Burne-Jones, Botticelli, Duccio and Segna to our minds, we know to which values these people owe their slender, heaven-aspiring stature, and their long, sensitive fingers.
        For the attitude of the Christian ideal to Life, to the body, and to the world was an entirely negative one. The command from on high was, that the deeds of the body should be mortified through the Spirit. All beauty, all voluptuousness, smoothness and charm were very naturally regarded with suspicion by the promoters of such an ideal; for beauty, voluptuousness and shapeliness lure back to Life, lure back to the flesh, and ultimately back to the body.
        What else, then, could possibly have been expected from such an ideal than the ultimate decline and uglification of the body? To what else did such an ideal actually aspire? For was not ugliness the strongest obstacle in the way of the loving one, in the way of him who wished only to affirm and to promote life?
        When the student of mediæval miniatures, wall-paintings and stained-glass windows finds bodily charm almost completely eliminated, when he sees ugliness prevailing, and even made seductive by a host of the most subtle art-forms, by a gorgeous wealth of ornament and repetitive design; and when he perceives a certain guilty self-consciousness in regard to the attributes of sex revealing itself in such paintings as that on the ceiling of the Church of St. Michael at Hildesheim, where

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Adam and Eve are represented as naked human monstrosities, exactly alike in frame and limbs, and with all indications as to sex, save Eve's long tresses and Adam's beard, carefully suppressed, 1 what can be concluded from all this irrefutable and unimpeachable evidence?
        When he finds the Gothic type of figure growing ever more tenuous, ever more emaciated and more sickly as the centuries roll on; when he hears of a Byzantine canon of the eleventh century in which the human body is actually declared to be a monstrosity measuring nine heads; when he finds strength and manhood gradually departing from the faces and the limbs of the men, and an expression of tender sentiment, culminating in puling sentimentality becoming the rule; finally, when he stands opposite Segna's appalling picture of "Christ on the Cross" at the National Gallery; what, under these circumstances, is he to say, save that he is here concerned with an art which is antagonistic and hostile to beauty, to Life and the world?
        For the qualities of this art, qua art, although they never once attain to the excellence of Ruler-Art, are sometimes exceedingly great. With Meier Graefe I should be willing to agree that there has been no real style since the Gothic, 2 or certainly not one that can claim anything like such general distribution. And, if it had not been for the fact

        1 Kraus seems to be of the opinion that this suppression of primary sexual characteristics in paintings was not at all uncommon in the Middle Ages. See Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, Vol. II, p. 280.
        2 Modern Art, Vol. I, p. 24.

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that the more the paradox at the root of Christian doctrine was realized, the more paradoxical it appeared — a fact which called forth the energies of scores of apologists, commentators, and dialecticians, and which made pictures retain to the very end a rhetorical, persuasive, and therefore more or less realistic manner, sometimes assisted (more especially towards the close of the Middle Ages) by almost lyrical ornament and charm; there is no saying to what simple power Christian art might not have attained. For behind it were all the conditions which go to produce the greatest artistic achievements.
        As a style, apart from its subject — or content beauty; as the manifestation of a mighty will — who can help admiring this art of Christianity? If only its ideal had been a possible one, and one which would have required no rhetoric, seduction, or emotional oratory, accompanied by the ringing of all the precious metals, to support it until the end; it might have ascended to the highest pinnacle of art in simplicity, restraint and order. Into simplicity, however, it was never able to develop, while its constant need of explaining made it to the very last retain more or less realism in the presentation of its ideal type.

3. The Gothic Building and Sentiment.

        But the hierarchy of the Church, although it left no doubt in the minds of its followers as to the genuine type which was the apotheosis of Christian

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values, was nevertheless unable completely to impose its culture upon the barbarians under its sway. And soon, somewhere towards the end of the twelfth century, there began to appear in Europe, in things that did not seem to matter from the moral or didactic standpoint, a certain uncouth and uncultured spirit, which showed to what extent the despotic rule of Rome was beginning to be flouted.
        In architecture, which, like music, has for some reason or other always seemed to Europeans to be less intimately connected with the thought and will of man than the graphic arts, an un-Catholic spirit was preparing its road to triumph. When I say un-Catholic, I mean emancipated from the law and order of the Universal Church. 1 And in the

        1 Speaking of Gothic buildings in general, Fergusson in A History of Architecture, Vol. I, p. 41, says: "It is in Nature's highest works that we find (he symmetry of proportion most prominent. When we descend to the lower types of animals we find we lose it to a great extent and among trees and vegetables generally find it only in a far less degree, and sometimes miss it altogether. In the mineral kingdom among rocks and stones it is altogether absent. So universal is this principle in Nature that we may safely apply it to our criticism on art, and say that a building is perfect as a whole in proportion to its motived regularity and departs from the highest type in the ratio in which symmetrical arrangement is neglected. It may, however be incorrect to say that an oak-tree is a less perfect work of creation than a human body, but it is certain that a picturesque group of Gothic buildings may be as perfect as the stately regularity of an Egyptian or classic temple; but if it is so, it is equally certain that it belongs to a lower and inferior class of design." Page 34: "The revival of the rites and ceremonies of the Mediæval Church, our reverent love of our own national antiquities, and our admiration of the rude but vigorous manhood of the Middle Ages, all have

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Gothic edifice, from its early stages to its development into the flamboyant style, all the impossibilities, all the terrible self-immolations imposed by the Christian ideal upon man, begin to make themselves openly felt.
        Now churches begin to tower aloft into heights undreamt of heretofore. Huge columns spring heavenwards, bearing up a roof that seems almost ethereal because it is so high. Spires are thrust right into the very breasts of clouds, and acres are covered by constructions which, mechanically speaking, are alive. Kicks from the vaulted arches against the hollowed-out walls below, necessitate counter-kicks; buttresses and flying buttresses strive and struggle against the crushing pressure of the stone or brick skies of these fantastic architectural feats. All the parts of this mass of stone on baked clay are at loggerheads and at variance with each other, and their strife never ceases.
        Typical of the contest going on within the body of the mediæval Christian, and the vain aspirations of his soul, the lofty buildings are also symbolic of the discord and lack of equilibrium which, as Lübke says, Christianity introduced into man's relations to Nature and to himself. And when we find the columns of these buildings carved and moulded to look like groups of pillars embracing each other to gain strength, the salient parts of the

combined to repress the classical element, both in our literature and in our art, and to exalt in their place Gothic feelings and Gothic art to an extent which cannot be justified on any grounds of reasonable criticism,"

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construction grooved and striped, and the extremities of the clustered pillars spreading after the manner of a fan, over our heads; we are amazed at the manner in which mass and volume have been volatilized, spiritualized, and apparently dissipated.
        Elsewhere, too, there is variegated glass, gigantic filigree work, festive decoration, as elaborated as that of a queen or a bride; infinite grandeur and infinite littleness. 1 The ornament is nervous and excited, festoons, trefoils, gables, gargoyles and niches, all thrust themselves at you; all strive for individual effect, individual attention, and individual value, with a restlessness and an importunacy which knows no limits; until your eyes, bewildered and dazzled by the jutting, projecting and budding details, and out-startled by surprise, instinctively drop at last, and perhaps close in a paroxysm of despair, before the High Altar. 2
        This was the germ of Protestantism in stone. Long before Martin Luther burned the Papal Bull in the market-place of Wittenberg, the elements of Protestantism had already found expression in Gothic architecture. True the Pagan and Catholic spirit

        1 See Hippolyte Taine, On the Nature of the Work of Art (translated by John Durand), pp. 130, 131, 132, 133, 134.
        2 Dr. Wilhelm Lübke, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 14, 15, says, speaking of the Gothic: "What a contrast to the quiet, sober masses of the Romanesque style . . . ! Here, on the other hand, everything thrusts itself into prominence, everything strives for outward effect, everything endeavours to work out its individuality with spirit and energy. . . . At the choir . . . a positive sense of disquiet and confusion is produced, which may indeed excite the fancy, but cannot satisfy the sense of beauty."

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was still sufficiently master to dominate them, just as it did the heretics, by a tremendous force of style; but they are nevertheless present, and it is in this architecture, if we choose to seek it, that we shall find, at once, all the beauty, all the ugliness, and all the incompatible elements of the Christian ideal.
        Its beauty and the fact for which we ought to be grateful to it, is, that by its one-sided and earnest advocacy of the spiritual in man, it extended the domain of his spirit over an area so much greater than that which had been covered theretofore, that only now can it be said that he knows exactly where he stands and who he is. Its ugliness lies in its contempt of the body and of Life; and its incompatible elements are its negation of Life and the necessary attitude of affirmation towards Life which all living creatures are bound to assume.
        If, however, the above description of the Gothic may seem unfair, hear what one of the greatest friends of the Gothic has said on the subject!
        John Ruskin, in the early days of the last half of the nineteenth century, wrote as follows —
        "I believe that the characteristic or moral elements of the Gothic are the following, placed in order of their importance: (1) Savageness, (2) Changefulness, (3) Naturalism, (4) Grotesqueness, (5) Rigidity, (6) Redundance." 1
        He speaks of it as being "instinct with work of an imagination as wild and wayward as the

        1 On the Nature of Gothic Architecture (1854), p. 4.

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Northern Sea"; 1 lays stress upon its rudeness, 2 and declares that it is that strange disquietude of the Gothic spirit — that is its greatness,"that restlessness of the dreaming mind, that wanders hither and thither among the niches, and flickers feverishly around, and yet is not satisfied, nor shall be satisfied." 3
        In fact, in no instance could the saying, "preserve me from my own friends," be more aptly applied than in Ruskin's defence of the Gothic. For Ruskin was a conscientious student, and things which even enemies of his subject would be likely to overlook, he brings forward proudly and ingenuously, like a truculent mother presenting an ugly child to a friend, and with a broad smile in his forcible prose which sometimes throws even the experienced reader quite off his guard.
        Hippolyte Taine speaks of the people of the Middle Ages as being possessed of delicate and over-excited imaginations, of morbid fancy unto whom vivid sensation — manifold, changing, bizarre and extreme — are necessary. In referring to their taste in ornament, he says, "It is the adornment of a nervous, over-excited woman, similar to the extravagant costumes of the day, whose delicate and morbid poesy denotes by its excess the singular sentiments, the feverish, violent, and impotent aspiration peculiar to an age of knights and monks." 4

        1 On the Nature of Gothic Architecture, p. 6.
        2 Ibid., p. 11.
        3 Ibid., p. 19.
        4 On the Nature of the Work of Art, pp. 131–33, 134.

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The Canon of Polycleitus

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        And if you think of the physical and spiritual operations they had been made to undergo, you will not feel very much inclined to question these conclusions. It must not be supposed that the canon of Polycletus, measuring seven heads, was transformed into the Byzantine canon, measuring nine heads, without some one's suffering — even though it took centuries to effect the change. It must not be believed that the calm Pagan idea of death was converted into the Christian terror of death without the sacrifice of something; nor must these emaciated, careworn, and neurotic faces in Mediæval paintings be conceived as mere inventions of morbid phantasy. The deeds of the body are not mortified through the Spirit with impunity. Such brilliant achievements have their accounts to pay, and the Church never once deceived itself or its followers as to what was paying, what was suffering, or where the amputations and vivisections were taking place.
        Look at the type of which the monks approved! Examine it in Cimabue's, Duccio's, Segna's and the Cologne painters' pictures. Examine it in the tapestry of Berne, known as the "Adoration of the Kings"; look at it in countless stained glass windows, and see its repetition in hundreds of illuminated manuscripts, some of which, like the Latin missal of the Church of St. Bavon at Ghent, and the Lives of the Saints by Simeon Metaphrasi, have found their way into the British Museum.
        Then ask yourself whether or not humanity was suffering in conforming itself to this holy creed.

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        "Like those mothers," says Lecky, "who govern their children by persuading them that the dark is crowded with spectres that' will seize the disobedient, and who often succeed in creating an association of ideas which the adult man is unable altogether to dissolve, the Catholic priests, by making the terrors of death for centuries the nightmare of the imagination, resolved to base their power upon the nerves." 1
        And, now that all this is known and realized, what is the meaning of the Renaissance, what is its explanation?

4. The Renaissance.

        The Renaissance, in its early stages, at least, was a period neither of pure realism nor of classicalism; it was neither a revival of learning nor a revival of antiquity. These words are mere euphemisms, mere drawing-room phrases. For, at its inception, the Renaissance was nothing more nor less than man's convalescence, after an illness that had lasted centuries. It was his first walk into the open, after leaving his bed and his sick-room.
        According to the Nietzschean doctrine of art, this realism of Van Eyck, of Van der Weyden, Quintin Massys, Donatello, Pisanello, Masolino, Ucello and others ought to disgust you. It is not art, or if it is, its rank is inferior. Why, then, does it claim

        1 History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne, Vol. I, p. 211.

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attention? Why is it far superior to the realism of the present day, despite some appallingly ugly features? 1
        It is superior only in this sense, that it is the work of convalescents. After they had been laid on the rack in the attempt to stretch their limbs and bodies to infinity, you must not be surprised that these men could only limp along. How could they be expected to walk majestically and with grace? That they could stand at all was a mercy. That they were able to hobble along as they did was a triumph.
        To expect these recovering invalids to impart something of themselves to Life, to enrich her and to transfigure her, would be to expect the impossible. But if you applaud them at all, applaud them for their recovery, for the fact that it is well that they can give us even drabby reality as it is. Do not congratulate them yet on their health. For

        1 Kraus, in his Geschichte der christlichen Kunst, Vol. II, denies that the revival of the antique was predominant in the Renaissance, and argues that individualism and nature study were the prominent notes. Venturi, the Italian art-historian declares that the antique began to be paramount only in the sixteenth century, and that with it the decadence began. While Eugène Müntz, in his monumental work, L'Histoire de l'Art pendant la Renaissance, Vol. I, p. 42, speaking of the two movements of the period, says: "Deux voies s'ouvraient aux novateurs, ou le naturalisme à outrance, un naturalisme qui n'étant plus soutenu par les hautes aspirations du moyen âge, risquait fort de sombrer dans la vulgarité (l'exemple de Paolo Ucello, d'Andrea del Castagna, de Pollajuolo l'a bien prouvé) ou bien la nature contrôlée, purifiée, ennoblie par l'étude des modèles anciens." The latter was the later movement. See also Woltmann and Woermann, History of Painting, Vol. II, Introduction.

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their realism, as realism, is as hopeless, as uninteresting and as unelevating as any realism ever was and ever will be.
        It is deceptive, too, for what seem to be beauties in their pictures are borrowed from such of their predecessors of the late Gothic period as were already overloading their pictures with ornamental art forms, in order to disguise the ugliness of the type they presented. Where they beguile you, it is often with a wealth of sweet ornament. 1
        In Ucello's "Battle of Sant' Eglidio," at the National Gallery, it is impossible not to recognize the pains the artist has taken to make your eye dwell on the dainty trappings and accoutrements of the knights and their steeds, on the distracting balls of gold in the shrubbery, artfully repeated in the bridles of the horses, and on the complex maze of pikes, spears and lances, which makes the glimpse of hills in the distance all the more restful and pleasing.
        Also in Pisanello's "St. Anthony and St. George" (National Gallery), whatever charm there is to be seen is still a Gothic charm, and the same holds good of this painter's remarkable picture of the "Vision of St. Eustace," in which the deliberately ornamental purpose of the animals in the background charms you more than their startling realism.
        If you leave these pictures, in the National

        1 Muther, in his History of Painting, Vol. I, p. 87, actually declares that Jan van Eyck and Pisanello in their dainty manner remained Gothic.

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Gallery, and walk over to Orcagna's "Coronation of the Virgin," you will see where the ornamental charm of the early Renaissance realists probably found its origin. For these convalescent men made no sudden and unanticipated appearance. They were preceded by painters like Orcagna, who were beginning to feel the impossibility of making a beautiful image out of the Christian type, and who therefore crammed their pictures with ornament in a manner so prodigal that the human portion of them assumed quite a subordinate place.
        Look at this picture of Orcagna's. It seems positively to ring with gold. Massed halos of the precious metal convert the faces of the people into mere decorative discs of colour. The golden embroidery on the dresses and on the hangings in the background give you a feeling of sunshine, of wealth and of luxury, which makes you forget the ideal for which all this lavish display is acting but as a subtle impresario. And the utilization of every square inch of room by filigrees, festoons, frills and fretwork of gorgeousness, almost convinces you at last that you are in front of an art which says "Yea" to the glory of sunshine, beauty and life.
        In this very need of extravagant ornament, however, Orcagna confesses quite openly to you that, as far as humanity is concerned, he, as an artist, is bankrupt and destitute. His picture, like most things connected with the art of Christianity, is a pictorial paradox; and when you leave it, to wander through the other rooms, your mind must be of a

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singularly ingenuous stamp if it feels no suspicion with regard to Orcagna's use of such a deafening brass band in the exaltation of his ideal.
        If you doubt all this, how can you explain the fact that those painters of the early Renaissance who remained faithful to the Christian type — such men, I mean, as Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, Alesso Baldovinetti, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio — all remained more or less faithful, too, to Orcagna's belief in ornament and pretty accessories; while all those painters who either carried on or developed the new spirit in Pisanello's, Ucello's, Masolino's and Masaccio's work — such men as Pollaiuolo, Verrochio, Perugini, Bellini, and ultimately Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian and Raphael — all discarded pretty and seductive accessories, or, when they did use them, made them completely subordinate to the human element in their work?
        The gradual growth in the importance of the human body and of the Pagan type, in the Renaissance painters, from Masaccio to Michelangelo, with whom there can no longer be any question of convalescence, the rapid return to a healthy life-affirming type, and the ultimate triumph of this type in the very heart of the Vatican — the headquarters of the greatest negative religion on earth, — these are the facts which make the art of this age so admirable and so thrilling.
        It represents the greatest stand which Europe has ever made against the denial of life, humanity and beauty; and if some of the artists, like Pisanello,

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Piero della Francesca, and ultimately Titian, in their great zeal, returned to nature with almost as much interest as to man, this is easily accounted for when it is remembered how long nature and man had been separated. 1
        But the fact that makes the final glory of the Renaissance type all the more glorious is the extraordinary circumstance that almost every one of the artists who fought for it, and for the principles it involved, from Piero della Francesca to Titian, were one after the other captured and enchained by the Church itself. Often it was in the very atmosphere of the high altar, with the fumes of the incense about them, that they asserted their positive faith in Life and Man. The greatest dangers, the greatest temptations surrounded them But they planted their banner, notwithstanding, in the centre of their true enemy's camp, and, for a while, their true enemy acquiesced, because the command was in the hands of men who were artists and pagans themselves, and who consequently did not believe in one single tenet of the negative creed which they professed.
        Just as the realism of some of the early Renaissance artists, however, was the inevitable outcome of their convalescent state, so the strong realism of many of the painters and sculptors of the late

        1 Of Piero della Francesca, Muther says, op. cit., Vol. I, p. 97: "He created the grammar of modern painting . . . Four hundred years ago he proposed the problem of realism, and endeavoured, as the forerunner of the most modern artists, to establish in what manner atmosphere changes colour impressions."

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Renaissance was the natural result of their combative attitude.
        Fighting for a particular kind of man, against centuries of false and unhealthy tradition, it was necessary to bring forward the new ideal with every characteristic plainly, emphatically and powerfully expressed; for every characteristic of a new ideal is of the highest importance.
        These new values of the Renaissance spirit were scarcely one hundred years old, when Michelangelo set himself the task of embodying them in his sculpture and painting. Would it be fair to criticize him from the standpoint of Egypt or even of Greece?
        From the standpoint of Egypt he is disappointing. The preponderance of characteristic traits over simplicity in his work spoils the power of his conceptions. His prevailing lack of simplicity makes you guess at the youth of the values on which he stood, and his tortuous bodies often make you question whether his types have entirely left the nerves of the Gothic period behind them. But are not all these defects precisely of a kind which are unfortunately inseparable from the position which Michelangelo assumed?
        He was the greatest of the Renaissance artists. In criticizing him, I have said all that can be said, from this particular standpoint, of his predecessors and contemporaries. His power lies in the forcibleness, the exhilaration, the exuberance and the wealth with which he brings forward his type. It lies in his absolute contempt of seductive prettiness,

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his sometimes terrible strength, his vehemence and his energy, and above all in his magnificent conceptions and the types with which he illustrates them. Compared with the art from which it had sprung, his art was stupendous.
        And where he is weak, compared with a higher — and by no means a modern — concept of art, he suffers from the virtues of his position as a fighter and as an innovator.
        In valuing him, as I said in my first lecture, it all depends whence you come. If you hail from Europe of the nineteenth and twentieth century, you can but go on your knees before him. If you hail from Memphis of the year 4000 B.C., you can but criticize and feel ill at ease before his work.
        I have not yet said anything concerning the relation of the Renaissance artists to Greece, simply because, taking in view the circumstances of their development, the relation seems fairly obvious. In discussing the art of Greece itself, however, the matter will probably appear quite clear to you. How much of the transfiguration in late Renaissance art is actually due to Greek influence, or to the Dionysian spirit of the age, it is difficult to determine. In my opinion, the latter influence was more potent, and to the Greek influence I should be more prepared to ascribe the spur which originally led to the adoption of a thoroughly Pagan type.



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