IT is important for a figure painter to acquire some acquaintance with architecture. The made-up architecture of painters who are ignorant of its principles is a frequent subject of ridicule among professional architects. Such lapses are perhaps not quite so humorous or tragic as the average seaside memorial to a departed sovereign; but in days when archaeological accuracy and correctness of detail generally are exacted, no man of taste can afford to ignore the principles of ornament and construction, or any other subject that is at the base of the science of aesthetics, which most of us unfortunately have, as best we may, to acquire late in life. At school we should have been taught its elements, for it should form part of the curriculum in every school, high or low.<< Previous page
The Minister of Education who desires to leave a solid contribution to the country's material and intellectual welfare might, I respectfully submit, consider this suggestion. The study of aesthetics is a refining factor, and might react beneficially on all art productions. Nor will a general level of excellence in these productions be reached till the people are able to take more than a subjective interest in works of the independent arts, and see in applied artistic output the difference, for instance, between a Greek vase of the best period and the often hideous ware that is expected to beautify their homes.
You are not likely to find in any one volume an introduction to the rudiments of aesthetics, a textbook, by the way, that is sorely needed. Meanwhile, till such a work is compiled, there are to be found in most libraries treatises on architecture, the potter's art, and some estimates of the artistic crafts as a whole. Specimens, or good casts, of antique sculpture are to be found in most towns, and the museums are filled with choice products of the skilled craftsmen of all ages. On these things feast your eyes and your brains. A knowledge, however intimate, of one craft alone is but a poor equipment for a painter, to whom a critical taste in all things is of the highest importance.
This leads me on to the consideration of a branch of our art, to which reference has already been made—namely, mural painting—which can now very properly come under the heading of oil-painting. Pure fresco may or may not regain
its old ascendency, but since the invention of the system of " Maroflage," or a fixing of the painted canvas in such a way as to resist damp, and to make it practically a part of the wall itself, decorations can be painted in the studio with pigments that are analogous to oil-paints.
The chief distinction to be borne in mind is, that a mat or dull surface which will not shine at any angle from which the decoration is viewed must be safeguarded.
Colours for such work are mixed with but little oil or wax. Petroleum, spike oil, or turpentine as vehicles ensure the all-important dulness of surface.
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