Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Fourth Form of Error. From the Stones of Venice

Front porch of Bourges Cathedral. From
Side elevation of Bourges Cathedral. From
¨The fourth form of error is when the men of design envy facts; that is to say, when the temptation of closely imitating nature leads them to forget their own proper ornamental function, and when they lose the power of composition for the sake of graphic truth; as, for instance, in the hawthorn moulding so often spoken of round the porch of Bourges Cathedral, which though very lovely, might perhaps, as we saw above, have been better, if the old buider, in his excessive desire to make it look like hawthorn, had not painted it in green.
It is, however, carefully to be noted, that the two morbid conditions to which the men of design are liable. The morbid state of men of design injures themselves only; that of the men of facts injures the whole world. The Chinese porcelain painter is, indeed, not so great a man as he might be, but he does not want to break everything that is not porcelain: but the modern English fact-hunter, despising design, wants to destroy everything that does not agree with his own notions of truth, and becomes the most dangerous and despicable of iconoclasts, exited by egotism instead of religion. Again: the Bourges sculptor, painting his hawthorns green, did not prevent any one from loving hawthorn: but Sir George Beaumont, trying to make Constable paint grass brown instead of green, was setting himself between Constable and nature, blinding the painter, and blaspheming the work of God.¨
Landscape with Hagar and the Angel. By George Beaumont. From
The Haywain, 1821. By John Constable. From
From the Stones of Venice, by John Ruskin. In The Literature of England.p. 785. USA, 1966
(Bourges Cathedral is in central France. George Beaumont was a landscape painter and patron of art 1753-1827. John Constable was an English landscape painter 1776-1837)

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