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element of silliness clings to classic sculpture in which the human figure is posed as an object of pure beauty, and why such efforts so soon decline into voluptuous prettiness. The human figure is hardly beautiful enough for unoccupied pose as a pure ornament, and sculpture must engage it in block-like shapes, as did Michael Angelo, or give it the rhythm and significance of action, as does Rodin, to relieve it of this haunting insufficiency.
We are now ready to confront Mr. Harrison's crowning example of the horrible and foul in Rodin's art, for I do not think I need defend his Bourgeois de Calais. That splendid piece of character work solves a problem in design never before attempted. For Rodin here is not dealing with the composition of one single figure to be seen from all the points on a circle in succession--the ordinary and difficult enough problem of the sculptor in the round --but with six figures at once, that move among themselves as the spectator moves, an infinite, almost, of design. I will pass from that and come to La Vieille Heaulmière. Mr. Harrison tells us that the title means, in antique French, ' The Old Strumpet.' His obsession here has obscured his scholarship, for the words mean simply 'The Armourer's (helmet-maker's) daughter grown old,' the subject of Villon's poem. I have heard an eminent Academician say of this figure that no gentleman could have done it.' Certainly no mere gentleman could, but the phrase seems to point to a confusion of two arts. If we were to put upon the stage, or to bring into a room to be stared at, an old woman such as is here sculptured, the effect would be shocking, because whether she minded it or not, we should imagine it for her as a personal outrage, and therefore be uncomfortable. But we must not be frightened by being told that she is ' ugly.' She is far from lovely, but any artist who can free himself from the enthralling attraction of loveliness will tell you that the deeply marked character, the engraving of Time in fold and wrinkle make her as much more ready and rich material for drawing than a smooth pretty girl, as a gnarled tree is more beautiful than a slip from the nursery
To this beauty in the subject the artist has added the rhythm of the pose, which at the same time expresses the tragic appeal of dejection, weariness and feebleness in the decrepit being. We are weak creatures; we cannot stand a great deal of knowledge about ourselves ; we must, for the most part, pass easily, without looking or thinking, on one side or the other; a figure like this is not an ornament for the dining-room or the drawing-room or the street; but either the Triumph of Time was a morbid deviation of the poet's, or the sculptor also has his right to compose a De Senectute less comfortable than Cicero's. And if this be permitted, the particular subject here treated calls for realism, since that is of its essence.
So much for the tragic side in Rodin's work, but there is another count in the indictment. Rodin is also erotic. We are, all of us, in our degree, erotic, except a few unfortunates. Not all the great creators have given in their art a special expression to this element; but the most various and healthy, as well as the most narrow and morbid are apt to do so. The Eros of Rodin is not the green-sickness of the Venus and Adonis of Shakespeare, nor the conventual gauloiserie of the Contes Drolatiques; nor is it one of the deviations that afflicted some of his great predecessors in plastic art; it is not the obscene compromise of a Leda or a Danaë, still less is it the perversion of British prudery. He touches more than one point in the poetry of love, that ranges from The Song of Songs to Dante. And he is found, at times, among the Fauns and Satyrs, as how could he fail to be, having himself their form? His Satyrs are Satyrs unashamed; the Frenchman, when he joins the Bacchants, does it almost as frankly as the Greek Brygos who painted ithyphallic riots on his vases. But, the Dionysus of Rodin being Dionysus, bis Apollo also is Apollo.
When sculptors use tragic realism, Mr. Harrison calls it 'foul’; when they set out to render 'dreams, he tells them it is impossible. Let him ask Donatello and Michael Angelo what they think of the domain he would allow their art.
D. S. MacColl.
WANTED: A MINISTRY OF FINE ARTS
It is not for want of being told of our faults that we do not mend them. Not a book or pamphlet is published to-day, not a newspaper article printed-saving always those of the permanent journalistic staff—but points out to us the serious defects in our national system.
An ex-President of a friendly nation dines at our expense and scolds us like a schoolmaster for our want of attention to lessons. The Headquarters Staff of an inimical nation indicates to us the vulnerable points in our armaments and the weak spots that we will not strengthen until the horse is stolen.' At home we are not more free from criticism. Beginning with the ordinary necessities of life, such as the coal-supply and its blackmail, the telephone service and its irregularity, the taximeter cab and its brigandage, down to the more vital questions of cancer and carelessness, infant mortality and sweated labour-the last two may well be bracketed with regard to the mothers—we are treated to the private opinion of every individual who has a grievous experience on any one of these subjects, and who relieves his mind or shifts his responsibilities by printing, publishing, or preaching on whatever abuse comes within his range of sight or knowledge.
To all these attacks we as a nation remain magnificently impervious. Our imperturbability is at once the gibe of other peoples and the envy. For have we not muddled through for centuries with discredit to our vanity and credit to our bankers ? Why put a house in order that, with the worst cooks in the world and the coldest staircases, is at the same time the most sought after and the most frequented ? England remains commercially, socially, and artistically the Mecca of merchants, millionaires, and 'maestros.' To have the hall-mark of London punched into the solid silver of endeavour means the establishment of a market-value all over the world. Why or how this has come about it is not easy to say, for commercially the English are as slow to adopt a new article as they are socially quick to accept only what will amuse them, while artistically they are neither reactionary nor progressive, but patiently sit on the fence until they are shown on which side to descend.
All around us the world is waking up and rubbing its eyes, wondering how and when Great Britain managed, with so little effort, to assert her supremacy; and all around us there is a growing determination to wrest it from us without loss of time. Meanwhile, Great Britain, tired with so many centuries of energy that divide her from her competitors, drowsily smiles, and, without so much as looking back, throws a 'Catch-me-if-you-can 'over her shoulder and falls asleep again in the noonday shade. That she will presently, during her 'week-end off,' be overtaken and passed by her rivals, it is difficult for her to believe-she has outstripped them for so many years; yet while we ignore the increasing activity of our opponents, we are also blind to the increasing inactivity of ourselves, and prefer to ignore the increasing age of our Constitution and its approaching senile decay. We still talk 'patter' about the liberty of the subject under a Constitutional Government, though that liberty has long been a thing of the past; we fondle our belief in it because we are still free to air our grievances by writing to the papers, the only vestige of freedom that is left to us since Democracy has had its heel on our necks.
At St. Stephen's our representatives are no longer allowed to voice what we have sent them to Westminster to say. Into our offices or workshops the apparitors of a rapacious Inquisition may penetrate at all hours uninvited, now representing a County Council that dictates to us how many washhand basins we shall supply for our employés (or details of equal importance likely to be forgotten by the employer who may well be expected to look after his staff in his own interests); now representing a Treasury that endeavours to make our profit-and-loss account demonstrate to the State how fine and lucrative a business is ours, in which personal losses may not be set against nominal salary lest the income-tax collector be defrauded of his prey. In our homes our death-beds are no longer dignified by reflections on a higher life above, but degraded by sordid calculations on an after-life for our heirs below in the coming conflict with the death duties. The smug satisfaction that was ours in knowing
. a little better than our neighbours when we bought that Riesener cabinet for a hundred guineas, or that since-authenticated Rembrandt for fifty, is now twisted into discontent that fashion should have taken its valuation out of our hands. For Democracy has decreed that the individual shall not reap the benefit of individual effort and individual wisdom. Such benefits shall not be inherited by the offspring of the master-mind that built the fortune, but shall be squandered by a State on behalf of a Constitution that is dead. Derelict! The Constitutional Chariot is vieux jeu and out of date. The machinery creaks, the
hinges are rusty. It cannot be used with credit to-day even for State occasions. The Amiable Despot, the Father of the People, alone can save England against herself, against the extraordinary contradiction of her self-complacency and her self-depreciation fighting each other.
It is natural that, associated as I am with things artistic, I should incline to government by an amiable despot, for the Arts have ever Aourished under wise paternal government from the day when Cosimo de Medici, known to his contemporaries as Cosimo Pater Patriae, gave that impetus to painters, sculptors, and craftsmen that has produced most of the greatest wonders in the world of Art. But for the encouragement to the Fine Arts accorded in turn by every member of that autocratic family of the Medicis, from Cosimo Pater Patriae, Piero il Gottoso, Lorenzo il Magnifico, down to the Archdukes of their line, and finally to the generous Anne who bequeathed the family treasures to the City, Florence might never have held her head erect through many ages as the centre to which pilgrims worshipping at the shrine of the Renaissance are attracted from all parts of the world. Indeed, to the Medicis she owes much of her material prosperity, due in the present day more to the museums they founded than to the banks by which they made their fortunes.
In England the Arts are for the most part left to look after themselves; that is to say, they are left to the accidental benevolence of the private man of fortune or taste. Less than nothing is left for the upkeep and replenishments of our Galleries. The National Gallery has virtually no fund at all at its command, when we consider that it is continually put into competition with, let us say, the Berlin Museum, where Dr. Bode holds the strings of an apparently unlimited purse; and it is due to the agitation of a few enthusiasts that some of the chefs d'ouvre that have been in England for many decades have not recently passed out of it for ever. In Italy, which as a country is not financially considered wealthy, there exists a law preventing the collector from letting his treasures go out of the country before he has offered them to the Nation at a fair valuation ; but in England, where no such law exists, and where the owner is faced with enormous death duties on his inheritance, the practice of selling the capo d'opera of the collection to the biggest offer from America or elsewhere has crept in to provide a sum that need not be taken out of capital. Then begins the outcry that this country is being depleted of the world-famous masterpieces that have been accumulated by our ancestors.
The three sets of conditions that lead up to this are interesting. Legislation has begun by saying, firstly, that it is not