Miscellaneous Studies: A Series of Essays
by Walter Horatio Pater

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[38] By his immense productiveness, by the even perfection of what he produced, its fitness to its own day, its hold on posterity, in the suavity of his life, some would add in the “opportunity” of his early death, Raphael may seem a signal instance of the luckiness, of the good fortune, of genius. Yet, if we follow the actual growth of his powers, within their proper framework, the age of the Renaissance–an age of which we may say, summarily, that it enjoyed itself, and found perhaps its chief enjoyment in the attitude of the scholar, in the enthusiastic acquisition of knowledge for its own sake:–if we thus view Raphael and his works in their environment we shall find even his seemingly mechanical good fortune hardly distinguishable from his own patient disposal of the means at hand. Facile master as he may seem, as indeed he is, he is also one of the world’s typical scholars, with [39] Plato, and Cicero, and Virgil, and Milton. The formula of his genius, if we must have one, is this: genius by accumulation; the transformation of meek scholarship into genius– triumphant power of genius.

Urbino, where this prince of the Renaissance was born in 1483, year also of the birth of Luther, leader of the other great movement of that age, the Reformation–Urbino, under its dukes of the house of Montefeltro, had wherewithal just then to make a boy of native artistic faculty from the first a willing learner. The gloomy old fortress of the feudal masters of the town had been replaced, in those later years of the Quattro-cento, by a consummate monument of Quattro-cento taste, a museum of ancient and modern art, the owners of which lived there, gallantly at home, amid the choicer flowers of living humanity. The ducal palace was, in fact, become nothing less than a school of ambitious youth in all the accomplishments alike of war and peace. Raphael’s connexion with it seems to have become intimate, and from the first its influence must have overflowed so small a place. In the case of the lucky Raphael, for once, the actual conditions of early life had been suitable, propitious, accordant to what one’s imagination would have required for the childhood of the man. He was born amid the art he was, not to transform, but to perfect, by a thousand reverential retouchings. In no palace, however, but [40] in a modest abode, still shown, containing the workshop of his father, Giovanni Santi. But here, too, though in frugal form, art, the arts, were present. A store of artistic objects was, or had recently been, made there, and now especially, for fitting patrons, religious pictures in the old Umbrian manner. In quiet nooks of the Apennines Giovanni’s works remain; and there is one of them, worth study, in spite of what critics say of its crudity, in the National Gallery. Concede its immaturity, at least, though an immaturity visibly susceptible of a delicate grace, it wins you nevertheless to return again and again, and ponder, by a sincere expression of sorrow, profound, yet resigned, be the cause what it may, among all the many causes of sorrow inherent in the ideal of maternity, human or divine. But if you keep in mind when looking at it the facts of Raphael’s childhood, you will recognise in his father’s picture, not the anticipated sorrow of the “Mater Dolorosa” over the dead son, but the grief of a simple household over the mother herself taken early from it. That may have been the first picture the eyes of the world’s great painter of Madonnas rested on; and if he stood diligently before it to copy, and so copying, quite unconsciously, and with no disloyalty to his original, refined, improved, substituted,–substituted himself, in fact, his finer self–he had already struck the persistent note of his career. As with his age, it is [41] his vocation, ardent worker as he is, to enjoy himself–to enjoy himself amiably, and to find his chief enjoyment in the attitude of a scholar. And one by one, one after another, his masters, the very greatest of them, go to school to him.

It was so especially with the artist of whom Raphael first became certainly a learner–Perugino. Giovanni Santi had died in Raphael’s childhood, too early to have been in any direct sense his teacher. The lad, however, from one and another, had learned much, when, with his share of the patrimony in hand, enough to keep him, but not to tempt him from scholarly ways, he came to Perugia, hoping still further to improve himself. He was in his eighteenth year, and how he looked just then you may see in a drawing of his own in the University Galleries, of somewhat stronger mould than less genuine likenesses may lead you to expect. There is something of a fighter in the way in which the nose springs from the brow between the wide- set, meditative eyes. A strenuous lad! capable of plodding, if you dare apply that word to labour so impassioned as his–to any labour whatever done at Perugia, centre of the dreamiest Apennine scenery. Its various elements (one hardly knows whether one is thinking of Italian nature or of Raphael’s art in recounting them), the richly- planted lowlands, the sensitive mountain lines in flight one beyond the other into clear distance, the cool yet glowing atmosphere, [42] the romantic morsels of architecture, which lend to the entire scene I know not what expression of reposeful antiquity, arrange themselves here as for set purpose of pictorial effect, and have gone with little change into his painted backgrounds. In the midst of it, on titanic old Roman and Etruscan foundations, the later Gothic town had piled itself along the lines of a gigantic land of rock, stretched out from the last slope of the Apennines into the plain. Between its fingers steep dark lanes wind down into the olive gardens; on the finger-tips military and monastic builders had perched their towns. A place as fantastic in its attractiveness as the human life which then surged up and down in it in contrast to the peaceful scene around. The Baglioni who ruled there had brought certain tendencies of that age to a typical completeness of expression, veiling crime– crime, it might seem, for its own sake, a whole octave of fantastic crime–not merely under brilliant fashions and comely persons, but under fashions and persons, an outward presentment of life and of themselves, which had a kind of immaculate grace and discretion about them, as if Raphael himself had already brought his unerring gift of selection to bear upon it all for motives of art. With life in those streets of Perugia, as with nature, with the work of his masters, with the mere exercises of his fellow-students, his hand rearranges, refines, renews, as if by simple contact; [43] but it is met here half-way in its renewing office by some special aptitude for such grace in the subject itself. Seemingly innocent, full of natural gaiety, eternally youthful, those seven and more deadly sins, embodied and attired in just the jaunty dress then worn, enter now and afterwards as spectators, or assistants, into many a sacred foreground and background among the friends and kinsmen of the Holy Family, among the very angels, gazing, conversing, standing firmly and unashamed. During his apprenticeship at Perugia Raphael visited and left his work in more modest places round about, along those seductive mountain or lowland roads, and copied for one of them Perugino’s “Marriage of the Virgin” significantly, did it by many degrees better, with a very novel effect of motion everywhere, and with that grace which natural motion evokes, introducing for a temple in the background a lovely bit of his friend Bramante’s sort of architecture, the true Renaissance or perfected Quattro-cento architecture. He goes on building a whole lordly new city of the like as he paints to the end of his life. The subject, we may note, as we leave Perugia in Raphael’s company, had been suggested by the famous mystic treasure of its cathedral church, the marriage ring of the Blessed Virgin herself.

Raphael’s copy had been made for the little old Apennine town of Citta di Castello; and another place he visits at this time is still more [44] effective in the development of his genius. About his twentieth year he comes to Siena–that other rocky Titan’s hand, just lifted out of the surface of the plain. It is the most grandiose place he has yet seen; it has not forgotten that it was once the rival of Florence; and here the patient scholar passes under an influence of somewhat larger scope than Perugino’s. Perugino’s pictures are for the most part religious contemplations, painted and made visible, to accompany the action of divine service–a visible pattern to priests, attendants, worshippers, of what the course of their invisible thoughts should be at those holy functions. Learning in the workshop of Perugino to produce the like–such works as the Ansidei Madonna–to produce them very much better than his master, Raphael was already become a freeman of the most strictly religious school of Italian art, the so devout Umbrian soul finding there its purest expression, still untroubled by the naturalism, the intellectualism, the antique paganism, then astir in the artistic soul everywhere else in Italy. The lovely work of Perugino, very lovely at its best, of the early Raphael also, is in fact “conservative,” and at various points slightly behind its day, though not unpleasantly. In Perugino’s allegoric frescoes of the Cambio, the Hall of the Money-changers, for instance, under the mystic rule of the Planets in person, pagan personages take their place indeed side by side with the figures of the New [45] Testament, but are no Romans or Greeks, neither are the Jews Jews, nor is any one of them, warrior, sage, king, precisely of Perugino’s own time and place, but still contemplations only, after the manner of the personages in his church-work; or, say, dreams–monastic dreams–thin, do-nothing creatures, conjured from sky and cloud. Perugino clearly never broke through the meditative circle of the Middle Age.

Now Raphael, on the other hand, in his final period at Rome, exhibits a wonderful narrative power in painting; and the secret of that power–the power of developing a story in a picture, or series of pictures–may be traced back from him to Pinturicchio, as that painter worked on those vast, well-lighted walls of the cathedral library at Siena, at the great series of frescoes illustrative of the life of Pope Pius the Second. It had been a brilliant personal history, in contact now and again with certain remarkable public events–a career religious yet mundane, you scarcely know which, so natural is the blending of lights, of interest in it. How unlike the Peruginesque conception of life in its almost perverse other- worldliness, which Raphael now leaves behind him, but, like a true scholar, will not forget. Pinturicchio then had invited his remarkable young friend hither, “to assist him by his counsels,” who, however, pupil-wise, after his habit also learns much as he thus assists. He stands depicted there in person in the scene [46] of the canonisation of Saint Catherine; and though his actual share in the work is not to be defined, connoisseurs have felt his intellectual presence, not at one place only, in touches at once finer and more forcible than were usual in the steady-going, somewhat Teutonic, Pinturicchio, Raphael’s elder by thirty years. The meek scholar you see again, with his tentative sketches and suggestions, had more than learned his lesson; through all its changes that flexible intelligence loses nothing; does but add continually to its store. Henceforward Raphael will be able to tell a story in a picture, better, with a truer economy, with surer judgment, more naturally and easily than any one else.

And here at Siena, of all Italian towns perhaps most deeply impressed with medieval character–an impress it still retains–grotesque, parti-coloured–parti-coloured, so to speak, in its genius–Satanic, yet devout of humour, as depicted in its old chronicles, and beautiful withal, dignified; it is here that Raphael becomes for the first time aware of that old pagan world, which had already come to be so much for the art-schools of Italy. There were points, as we saw, at which the school of Perugia was behind its day. Amid those intensely Gothic surroundings in the cathedral library where Pinturicchio worked, stood, as it remained till recently, unashamed there, a marble group of the three Graces–an average Roman work in [47] effect–the sort of thing we are used to. That, perhaps, is the only reason why for our part, except with an effort, we find it conventional or even tame. For the youthful Raphael, on the other hand, at that moment, antiquity, as with “the dew of herbs,” seemed therein “to awake and sing” out of the dust, in all its sincerity, its cheerfulness and natural charm. He has turned it into a picture; has helped to make his original only too familiar, perhaps, placing the three sisters against his own favourite, so unclassic, Umbrian background indeed, but with no trace of the Peruginesque ascetic, Gothic meagreness in themselves; emphasising rather, with a hearty acceptance, the nude, the flesh; making the limbs, in fact, a little heavy. It was but one gleam he had caught just there in medieval Siena of that large pagan world he was, not so long afterwards, more completely than others to make his own. And when somewhat later he painted the exquisite, still Peruginesque, Apollo and Marsyas, semi-medieval habits again asserted themselves with delightfully blent effects. It might almost pass for a parable–that little picture in the Louvre–of the contention between classic art and the romantic, superseded in the person of Marsyas, a homely, quaintly poetical young monk, surely! Only, Apollo himself also is clearly of the same brotherhood; has a touch, in truth, of Heine’s fancied Apollo “in exile,” who, Christianity now triumphing, has served as [48] a hired shepherd, or hidden himself under the cowl in a cloister; and Raphael, as if at work on choir-book or missal, still applies symbolical gilding for natural sunlight. It is as if he wished to proclaim amid newer lights–this scholar who never forgot a lesson–his loyal pupilage to Perugino, and retained still something of medieval stiffness, of the monastic thoughts also, that were born and lingered in places like Borgo San Sepolcro or Citta di Castello. Chef-d’oeuvre! you might exclaim, of the peculiar, tremulous, half- convinced, monkish treatment of that after all damnable pagan world. And our own generation certainly, with kindred tastes, loving or wishing to love pagan art as sincerely as did the people of the Renaissance, and medieval art as well, would accept, of course, of work conceived in that so seductively mixed manner, ten per cent of even Raphael’s later, purely classical presentments.

That picture was suggested by a fine old intaglio in the Medicean collection at Florence, was painted, therefore, after Raphael’s coming thither, and therefore also a survival with him of a style limited, immature, literally provincial; for in the phase on which he had now entered he is under the influence of style in its most fully determined sense, of what might be called the thorough-bass of the pictorial art, of a fully realised intellectual system in regard to its processes, well tested by experiment, upon a survey [49] of all the conditions and various applications of it–of style as understood by Da Vinci, then at work in Florence. Raphael’s sojourn there extends from his twenty-first to his twenty-fifth year. He came with flattering recommendations from the Court of Urbino; was admitted as an equal by the masters of his craft, being already in demand for work, then and ever since duly prized; was, in fact, already famous, though he alone is unaware–is in his own opinion still but a learner, and as a learner yields himself meekly, systematically to influence; would learn from Francia, whom he visits at Bologna; from the earlier naturalistic works of Masolino and Masaccio; from the solemn prophetic work of the venerable dominican, Bartolommeo, disciple of Savonarola. And he has already habitually this strange effect, not only on the whole body of his juniors, but on those whose manner had been long since formed; they lose something of themselves by contact with him, as if they went to school again.

Bartolommeo, Da Vinci, were masters certainly of what we call “the ideal” in art. Yet for Raphael, so loyal hitherto to the traditions of Umbrian art, to its heavy weight of hieratic tradition, dealing still somewhat conventionally with a limited, non-natural matter–for Raphael to come from Siena, Perugia, Urbino, to sharp-witted, practical, masterful Florence was in immediate effect a transition from reverie to [50] realities–to a world of facts. Those masters of the ideal were for him, in the first instance, masters also of realism, as we say. Henceforth, to the end, he will be the analyst, the faithful reporter, in his work, of what he sees. He will realise the function of style as exemplified in the practice of Da Vinci, face to face with the world of nature and man as they are; selecting from, asserting one’s self in a transcript of its veritable data; like drawing to like there, in obedience to the master’s preference for the embodiment of the creative form within him. Portrait-art had been nowhere in the school of Perugino, but it was the triumph of the school of Florence. And here a faithful analyst of what he sees, yet lifting it withal, unconsciously, inevitably, recomposing, glorifying, Raphael too becomes, of course, a painter of portraits. We may foresee them already in masterly series, from Maddalena Doni, a kind of younger, more virginal sister of La Gioconda, to cardinals and popes–to that most sensitive of all portraits, the “Violin- player,” if it be really his. But then, on the other hand, the influence of such portraiture will be felt also in his inventive work, in a certain reality there, a certain convincing loyalty to experience and observation. In his most elevated religious work he will still keep, for security at least, close to nature, and the truth of nature. His modelling of the visible surface is lovely because he understands, can see the hidden causes [51] of momentary action in the face, the hands–how men and animals are really made and kept alive. Set side by side, then, with that portrait of Maddalena Doni, as forming together a measure of what he has learned at Florence, the “Madonna del Gran Duca,” which still remains there. Call it on revision, and without hesitation, the loveliest of his Madonnas, perhaps of all Madonnas; and let it stand as representative of as many as fifty or sixty types of that subject, onwards to the Sixtine Madonna, in all the triumphancy of his later days at Rome. Observe the veritable atmosphere about it, the grand composition of the drapery, the magic relief, the sweetness and dignity of the human hands and faces, the noble tenderness of Mary’s gesture, the unity of the thing with itself, the faultless exclusion of all that does not belong to its main purpose; it is like a single, simple axiomatic thought. Note withal the novelty of its effect on the mind, and you will see that this master of style (that’s a consummate example of what is meant by style) has been still a willing scholar in the hands of Da Vinci. But then, with what ease also, and simplicity, and a sort of natural success not his!

It was in his twenty-fifth year that Raphael came to the city of the popes, Michelangelo being already in high favour there. For the remaining years of his life he paces the same streets with that grim artist, who was so great a [52] contrast with himself, and for the first time his attitude towards a gift different from his own is not that of a scholar, but that of a rival. If he did not become the scholar of Michelangelo, it would be difficult, on the other hand, to trace anywhere in Michelangelo’s work the counter influence usual with those who had influenced him. It was as if he desired to add to the strength of Michelangelo that sweetness which at first sight seems to be wanting there. Ex forti dulcedo: and in the study of Michelangelo certainly it is enjoyable to detect, if we may, sweet savours amid the wonderful strength, the strangeness and potency of what he pours forth for us: with Raphael, conversely, something of a relief to find in the suavity of that so softly moving, tuneful existence, an assertion of strength. There was the promise of it, as you remember, in his very look as he saw himself at eighteen; and you know that the lesson, the prophecy of those holy women and children he has made his own, is that “the meek shall possess.” So, when we see him at Rome at last, in that atmosphere of greatness, of the strong, he too is found putting forth strength, adding that element in due proportion to the mere sweetness and charm of his genius; yet a sort of strength, after all, still congruous with the line of development that genius has hitherto taken, the special strength of the scholar and his proper reward, a purely cerebral strength [53] the strength, the power of an immense understanding.

Now the life of Raphael at Rome seems as we read of it hasty and perplexed, full of undertakings, of vast works not always to be completed, of almost impossible demands on his industry, in a world of breathless competition, amid a great company of spectators, for great rewards. You seem to lose him, feel he may have lost himself, in the multiplicity of his engagements; might fancy that, wealthy, variously decorated, a courtier, cardinal in petto, he was “serving tables.” But, you know, he was forcing into this brief space of years (he died at thirty-seven) more than the natural business of the larger part of a long life; and one way of getting some kind of clearness into it, is to distinguish the various divergent outlooks or applications, and group the results of that immense intelligence, that still untroubled, flawlessly operating, completely informed understanding, that purely cerebral power, acting through his executive, inventive or creative gifts, through the eye and the hand with its command of visible colour and form. In that way you may follow him along many various roads till brain and eye and hand suddenly fail in the very midst of his work–along many various roads, but you can follow him along each of them distinctly.

At the end of one of them is the Galatea, and in quite a different form of industry, the datum [54] for the beginnings of a great literary work of pure erudition. Coming to the capital of Christendom, he comes also for the first time under the full influence of the antique world, pagan art, pagan life, and is henceforth an enthusiastic archaeologist. On his first coming to Rome a papal bull had authorised him to inspect all ancient marbles, inscriptions, and the like, with a view to their adaptation in new buildings then proposed. A consequent close acquaintance with antiquity, with the very touch of it, blossomed literally in his brain, and, under his facile hand, in artistic creations, of which the Galatea is indeed the consummation. But the frescoes of the Farnese palace, with a hundred minor designs, find their place along that line of his artistic activity; they do not exhaust his knowledge of antiquity, his interest in and control of it. The mere fragments of it that still cling to his memory would have composed, had he lived longer, a monumental illustrated survey of the monuments of ancient Rome.

To revive something of the proportionable spirit at least of antique building in the architecture of the present, came naturally to Raphael as the son of his age; and at the end of another of those roads of diverse activity stands Saint Peter’s, though unfinished. What a proof again of that immense intelligence, by which, as I said, the element of strength supplemented the element of mere sweetness and charm in his [55] work, that at the age of thirty, known hitherto only as a painter, at the dying request of the venerable Bramante himself, he should have been chosen to succeed him as the director of that vast enterprise! And if little in the great church, as we see it, is directly due to him, yet we must not forget that his work in the Vatican also was partly that of an architect. In the Loggie, or open galleries of the Vatican, the last and most delicate effects of Quattro-cento taste come from his hand, in that peculiar arabesque decoration which goes by his name.

Saint Peter’s, as you know, had an indirect connexion with the Teutonic reformation. When Leo X. pushed so far the sale of indulgences to the overthrow of Luther’s Catholicism, it was done after all for the not entirely selfish purpose of providing funds to build the metropolitan church of Christendom with the assistance of Raphael; and yet, upon another of those diverse outways of his so versatile intelligence, at the close of which we behold his unfinished picture of the Transfiguration, what has been called Raphael’s Bible finds its place–that series of biblical scenes in the Loggie of the Vatican. And here, while he has shown that he could do something of Michelangelo’s work a little more soothingly than he, this graceful Roman Catholic rivals also what is perhaps best in the work of the rude German reformer–of Luther, who came to Rome about this very [56] time, to find nothing admirable there. Place along with them the Cartoons, and observe that in this phase of his artistic labour, as Luther printed his vernacular German version of the Scriptures, so Raphael is popularising them for an even larger world; he brings the simple, to their great delight, face to face with the Bible as it is, in all its variety of incident, after they had so long had to content themselves with but fragments of it, as presented in the symbolism and in the brief lections of the Liturgy:- -Biblia Pauperum, in a hundred forms of reproduction, though designed for popes and princes.

But then, for the wise, at the end of yet another of those divergent ways, glows his painted philosophy in the Parnassus and the School of Athens, with their numerous accessories. In the execution of those works, of course, his antiquarian knowledge stood him in good stead; and here, above all, is the pledge of his immense understanding, at work on its own natural ground on a purely intellectual deposit, the apprehension, the transmission to others of complex and difficult ideas. We have here, in fact, the sort of intelligence to be found in Lessing, in Herder, in Hegel, in those who, by the instrumentality of an organised philosophic system, have comprehended in one view or vision what poetry has been, or what Greek philosophy, as great complex dynamic facts in the world. But then, with the artist of the sixteenth century, [57] this synoptic intellectual power worked in perfect identity with the pictorial imagination and a magic hand. By him large theoretic conceptions are addressed, so to speak, to the intelligence of the eye. There had been efforts at such abstract or theoretic painting before, or say rather, leagues behind him. Modern efforts, again, we know, and not in Germany alone, to do the like for that larger survey of such matters which belongs to the philosophy of our own century; but for one or many reasons they have seemed only to prove the incapacity of philosophy to be expressed in terms of art. They have seemed, in short, so far, not fit to be seen literally– those ideas of culture, religion, and the like. Yet Plato, as you know, supposed a kind of visible loveliness about ideas. Well! in Raphael, painted ideas, painted and visible philosophy, are for once as beautiful as Plato thought they must be, if one truly apprehended them. For note, above all, that with all his wealth of antiquarian knowledge in detail, and with a perfect technique, it is after all the beauty, the grace of poetry, of pagan philosophy, of religious faith that he thus records.

Of religious faith also. The Disputa, in which, under the form of a council representative of all ages, he embodies the idea of theology, divinarum rerum notitia, as constantly resident in the Catholic Church, ranks with the “Parnassus” and the “School of Athens,” if it does not rather [58] close another of his long lines of intellectual travail–a series of compositions, partly symbolic, partly historical, in which the “Deliverance of St. Peter from Prison,” the “Expulsion of the Huns,” and the “Coronation of Charlemagne,” find their places; and by which, painting in the great official chambers of the Vatican, Raphael asserts, interprets the power and charm of the Catholic ideal as realised in history. A scholar, a student of the visible world, of the natural man, yet even more ardently of the books, the art, the life of the old pagan world, the age of the Renaissance, through all its varied activity, had, in spite of the weakened hold of Catholicism on the critical intellect, been still under its influence, the glow of it, as a religious ideal, and in the presence of Raphael you cannot think it a mere after-glow. Independently, that is, of less or more evidence for it, the whole creed of the Middle Age, as a scheme of the world as it should be, as we should be glad to find it, was still welcome to the heart, the imagination. Now, in Raphael, all the various conditions of that age discover themselves as characteristics of a vivid personal genius, which may be said therefore to be conterminous with the genius of the Renaissance itself. For him, then, in the breadth of his immense cosmopolitan intelligence, for Raphael, who had done in part the work of Luther also, the Catholic Church–through all its phases, as reflected in its visible local centre, [59] the papacy–is alive still as of old, one and continuous, and still true to itself. Ah! what is local and visible, as you know, counts for so much with the artistic temper!

Old friends, or old foes with but new faces, events repeating themselves, as his large, clear, synoptic vision can detect, the invading King of France, Louis XII., appears as Attila: Leo X. as Leo I.: and he thinks of, he sees, at one and the same moment, the coronation of Charlemagne and the interview of Pope Leo with Francis I., as a dutiful son of the Church: of the deliverance of Leo X. from prison, and the deliverance of St. Peter.

I have abstained from anything like description of Raphael’s pictures in speaking of him and his work, have aimed rather at preparing you to look at his work for yourselves, by a sketch of his life, and therein especially, as most appropriate to this place, of Raphael as a scholar. And now if, in closing, I commend one of his pictures in particular to your imagination or memory,, your purpose to see it, or see it again, it will not be the Transfiguration nor the Sixtine Madonna, nor even the “Madonna del Gran Duca,” but the picture we have in London–the Ansidei, or Blenheim, Madonna. I find there, at first sight, with something of the pleasure one has in a proposition of Euclid, a sense of the power of the understanding, in the economy with which he has reduced his material to the [60] simplest terms, has disentangled and detached its various elements. He is painting in Florence, but for Perugia, and sends it a specimen of its own old art–Mary and the babe enthroned, with St. Nicolas and the Baptist in attendance on either side. The kind of thing people there had already seen so many times, but done better, in a sense not to be measured by degrees, with a wholly original freedom and life and grace, though he perhaps is unaware, done better as a whole, because better in every minute particular, than ever before. The scrupulous scholar, aged twenty-three, is now indeed a master; but still goes carefully. Note, therefore, how much mere exclusion counts for in the positive effect of his work. There is a saying that the true artist is known best by what he omits. Yes, because the whole question of good taste is involved precisely in such jealous omission. Note this, for instance, in the familiar Apennine background, with its blue hills and brown towns, faultless, for once- -for once only–and observe, in the Umbrian pictures around, how often such background is marred by grotesque, natural, or architectural detail, by incongruous or childish incident. In this cool, pearl-grey, quiet place, where colour tells for double–the jewelled cope, the painted book in the hand of Mary, the chaplet of red coral–one is reminded that among all classical writers Raphael’s preference was for the faultless Virgil. How orderly, how divinely [61] clean and sweet the flesh, the vesture, the floor, the earth and sky! Ah, say rather the hand, the method of the painter! There is an unmistakeable pledge of strength, of movement and animation in the cast of the Baptist’s countenance, but reserved, repressed. Strange, Raphael has given him a staff of transparent crystal. Keep then to that picture as the embodied formula of Raphael’s genius. Amid all he has here already achieved, full, we may think, of the quiet assurance of what is to come, his attitude is still that of the scholar; he seems still to be saying, before all things, from first to last, “I am utterly purposed that I will not offend.”

38. *A lecture delivered to the University Extension Students, Oxford, 2 August, 1892. Published in the Fortnightly Review, Oct. 1892, and now reprinted by the kind permission of the proprietors.


Charles L. Shadwell’s Preface  •  A Chronology of Pater’s Works, 1866-1895  •  Prosper Merimee  •  Raphael  •  Pascal  •  Art Notes in North Italy  •  Notre-Dame d’Amiens  •  Vezelay  •  Apollo in Picardy  •  The Child in the House  •  Emerald Uthwart  •  Diaphaneite

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