Hegel's Lectures on Aesthetics. Part 3
The general transition from sculpture to the other arts is produced, as we saw, by the principle of subjectivity which was breaking into the subject-matter and the artistic mode of its portrayal. Subjectivity is the essential nature of the spirit which is explicitly ideal in its own eyes and withdraws out of the external world into an existence within; and consequently it no longer coincides in indissoluble unity with its body.
What therefore follows at once from this transition is the dissolution of unity, i.e. the separation of the two sides contained and involved with one another in the substantive and objective unity of sculpture at the focal point of its peace, stillness, and rounded self-perfection. We can consider this cleavage in two aspects. (i) Sculpture, in its content, intertwined the substantive character of the spirit with that individuality which is not yet reflected into itself as an individual person, and therefore constituted an objective unity in the sense that ‘objectivity’ as such means what is eternal, immovable and true, substantive with no part in caprice or singularity. (ii) On the other hand, sculpture did not get beyond pouring this spiritual content into the corporeal form as its animation and significance and therefore forming a new objective unification in that meaning of the word ‘objective’ which signifies external real existence, i.e. ‘objective’ contrasted with what is purely inner and ‘subjective’.
Now if these two sides, made adequate to one another for the first time by sculpture, are separated, then the spirit which has withdrawn into itself stands opposed to externality as such, to nature and also to the inner life’s own body; moreover, in the sphere of the spiritual itself, so far as the substantive and objective aspect of the spirit is no longer confined to simple and substantive individuality, it is cut apart from the living and individual subject. The result is that all these factors hitherto fused into a unity become free from one another and independent, so that now in this very freedom they can be fashioned and worked out by art.
1. For subject-matter, therefore, we acquire, on the one side, the substantiality of the spiritual sphere, the world of truth and eternity, the Divine which here, however, conformably with the principle of subjectivity, is grasped and actualized by art as itself subject, personality, as the Absolute conscious of itself in its infinite spirituality, as God in spirit and in truth. On the other side there enters the mundane and human subject [or person] who, no longer immediately one with the substantive aspect of the spirit, can unfold himself in the entirety of his human particular character, so that the whole of the human heart and the entire wealth of human manifestations are made accessible to art.
But both sides here have their point of reunification in the principle of subjectivity which is common to both. On this account the Absolute is manifest as a living, actual, and therefore human subject, just as the human and finite subject in virtue of his being spiritual, makes the absolute substance and truth, the Spirit of God, living and actual in himself. But the new unity thus won no longer bears the character of that first immediacy presented by sculpture, but of a unification and reconciliation displayed essentially as the mediation of the two different sides, and capable of being completely manifested, adequately to its nature, in the inner and ideal life alone.
In the general Introduction to our whole study of art [Vol. I, p. 85] I have described this by saying that when sculpture displays present and visible the inherently compact individuality of the god in the bodily shape entirely adequate to him, there emerges, confronting this object, the community as the spirit’s reflection into itself. But the spirit which has drawn back into itself can present the substance of the spiritual world to itself only as spirit and therefore as subject, and in that presentation it acquires at the same time the principle of the spiritual reconciliation of the individual subject with God. Yet as an individual subject a man has also a contingent existence in nature and a wider or more restricted range of finite interests, needs, aims, and passions in which he can gain independence and satisfaction or which he can equally well submerge in his ideas of God and his reconciliation with God.
2. Secondly, as for the external side of the representation, it likewise becomes independent in all its details and acquires a right to come on the stage in this independence, because the principle of subjectivity forbids that immediate correspondence between, and perfect interpenetration of, inner and outer in all their parts and relations. For here subjectivity is precisely the inner life, explicit to itself, turned back out of its embodiment in externality into feeling, heart, mind, and meditation. This ideal sphere does manifest itself in its external shape, but in such a way that that shape itself reveals that it is only the external shape of a subject with an independent inner life of his own. The firm connection of body and spirit in classical sculpture is not on this account dissolved into the lack of any connection at all, but it is made so slack and loose that, although neither side is there without the other, both sides preserve in this loose connection their individual and mutual independence; or at least, if a deeper unification is actually achieved, the spirit becomes a centre essentially shining out as the inner life transcending its fusion with what is objective and external. Thus, on account of this relatively increased independence of what is objective and real, the result in most cases is the portrayal of external nature and its separate and most particularized objects, but, in this event, despite all the fidelity of their treatment, there is made obvious in them a reflection of the spirit, because in the manner of their artistic realization they make visible the liveliness of their treatment, the participation of the spirit, the mind’s very indwelling in this uttermost extreme of externality, and therefore an inner and ideal life.
Therefore on the whole the principle of subjectivity necessarily implies on the one hand the sacrifice of the naive unity of the spirit and its body and also the positing of the body more or less as negative in order to lift the inner life out of externality, and on the other hand the grant of free play to the details of the variety, disunion, and movement of spirit and sense alike.
3. Thirdly, this new principle has also to be made to prevail in the material which art uses for its new productions.
(a) Up to this point the material was something material as such, heavy mass in all three spatial dimensions, while the shape was simply abstracted as mere shape. When this material is now entered by the subjective inner life, full and particularized in itself, this life, in order to be able to appear outwardly as inner, will extinguish the spatial dimensions of the material and change it out of their immediate existence into something opposite, namely a pure appearance produced by the spirit; but, on the other hand, in respect of the shape and its external sensuousness and visibility, it will have to introduce the entire particularity of the appearance which the new content requires. But here art has still to move at first in the sensuous and visible sphere because, consequentially on the process described hitherto, the inner life must of course be understood as a reflection into self, but at the same time as a return into itself out of externality and corporeality, and therefore has to appear as a coming to itself which, to begin with, can once again be displayed only in the objective reality of nature and the existence of spirit in the body.
The first of the romantic arts will therefore still exhibit its content visibly, in the manner indicated, in the forms of the external human figure and the whole of nature’s productions in general, though yet going beyond the visible and abstract character of sculpture. To do this is the task to which painting is called.
(b) But painting does not afford, as sculpture does, the fully accomplished coalescence of spirit and body as its fundamental type, but instead the outward appearance of the self-concentrated inner life; and it follows that in general the spatial external form is clearly no truly adequate mode of expression for the subjectivity of spirit. Consequently art abandons its previous mode of configuration and adopts, in place of spatial figuration, figurations of notes in their temporal rising and falling of sound; for a note wins its more ideal existence in time by reason of the negativing of spatial matter, and therefore it corresponds with the inner life which apprehends itself in its subjective inwardness as feeling, and which expresses in the movement of notes every content asserting itself in the inner movement of heart and mind. The second art which follows this principle of portrayal is music.
(c) Therefore music puts itself again on the opposite side, and, in contrast to the visual arts both in its content and its sensuous material and mode of expression, keeps firmly to the inner life without giving it any outward shape or figure. But, if it is to be adequate to the whole of its essential nature, art has to bring to our contemplation not only the inner life but also, and equally, the appearance and actuality of that life in its external reality. But if art has given up incorporating the inner life in the actual and therefore visible form of objectivity and turned over exclusively into the element of the inner life, then the objectivity to which it recurs can no longer be a real objectivity but only a purely intellectual one, one formed and shaped for inner contemplation, ideas, and feelings. The presentation of this, as the communication to spirit of the spirit which is creative in its own sphere, must use the sensuous material of its disclosure as simply a means of communication and therefore must degrade it to being a sign which has no significance by and in itself. Poetry, the art of speech, is in this position. Just as the spirit makes intelligible to spirit in language what is already implicit in the spirit itself, so now poetry embodies its productions in language developed into being an instrument of art. At the same time, because in its element it can unfold the totality of the spirit, it is the universal art which belongs equally to all the art-forms and it fails to appear only where the spirit, not yet having made its highest content clear to itself, can become conscious of its own presentiments only in the form of a content external to and other than itself.
The most suitable subject for sculpture is the peaceful and substantive immersion of character in itself. The character’s spiritual individuality emerges into and completely masters the body in which it has its real existence, and the sensuous material, in which this incorporation of the spirit is displayed, is made adequate to the spirit only in its external shape as such. A person’s own subjective inwardness, the life of his heart, the soul of his most personal feelings are not revealed in the sightless figure nor can such a figure convey a concentrated expression of the inner life, or of spiritual movement, distinction from the external world or differentiation within. This is the reason why the sculptures of antiquity leave us somewhat cold. We do not linger over them long, or our lingering is rather a scholarly study of the fine shades of difference in their shape and in the forms given to a single individual. We cannot take it amiss if people do not show that profound interest in profound sculptures which they deserve. For we have to study them before we can appreciate them. At a first glance we are either not attracted or the general character of the whole is quickly revealed, and only afterwards have we to examine details and see what further interest the work supplies. But a pleasure that can only be produced after study, reflection, scholarship, and examination often repeated, is not the direct aim of art. And, even in the case of a pleasure gained by this circuitous route, what remains unsatisfied in the sculpture of antiquity is the demand that a character should develop and proceed outwardly to deeds and actions, and inwardly to a deepening of the soul. For this reason we are at once more at home in painting. Painting, that is to say, opens the way for the first time to the principle of finite and inherently infinite subjectivity, the principle of our own life and existence, and in paintings we see what is effective and active in ourselves.
In sculpture the god confronts our vision as a mere object; but in painting, on the other hand, God appears in himself as a spiritual and living person who enters the Church and gives to every individual the possibility of placing himself in spiritual community and reconciliation with him. The Divine is therefore not, as in sculpture, an individual inherently fixed and immobile, but the Spirit who has drawn into the Church and become particularized there.
The same principle distinguishes the subject from his own body, and his surroundings in general, while at the same time it brings the inner life into harmony with them. The sphere of this subjective particularization involves (a) the individual man’s achievement of independence against God, nature, and other individuals whether in their mental or physical life, and (b), conversely, the most intimate connection and firm relation between God and the Church and between the individual and his God, his natural environment, and the endlessly varied needs, aims, passions, actions, and deeds of human existence. Within this sphere there falls the whole movement and life which have to be missing in sculpture’s content as well as in its means of expression, and thus there is introduced into art afresh an immeasurable richness of material and a vast variety in the mode of portrayal which hitherto had been lacking. So the principle of subjectivity is on the one hand the basis of particularization and, nevertheless, on the other hand, the principle of mediation and synthesis, so that painting now unites in one and the same work of art what hitherto devolved on two different arts; the external environment which architecture treated artistically, and the shape which sculpture worked out as an embodiment of the spirit. Painting places its figures in nature or an architectural environment which is external to them and which it has invented in the same sense as it has invented the figures; and by the heart and soul of its treatment it can make this external background at the same time a reflection of what is subjective, and no less can it set the background in relation and harmony with the spirit of the figures that are moving against it.
This we may take as the principle of the new mode of representation which painting adds to those considered hitherto.
Asked about the route to be followed in our more detailed consideration of painting, I propose to divide the subject as follows:
First, as before, we must look for the general character which painting, in view of its essential nature, must assume as regards its specific content, the material corresponding to this content, and the artistic treatment conditioned thereby.
Secondly, we must next expound the particular characteristics which are implicit in the principle of the content and its portrayal and which place fixed limits on painting’s corresponding subject-matter as well as on its modes of treatment, composition, and colouring.
Thirdly, owing to these particular characteristics painting is individualized in different schools which, as is the case in the other arts, are here too developed in historical stages.
I have specified as the essential principle of painting the subjectivity of mind which in the life of its feelings, ideas, and actions embraces the whole of heaven and earth and is present in a variety of situations and external modes of appearance in the body; and therefore I have placed the centre of painting in romantic and Christian art. Consequently it can occur at once to any critic that not only in Greece and Rome were there excellent painters who reached as high a level in this art as others then did in sculpture, i.e. the highest level, but that other peoples too, the Chinese, the Indians, the Egyptians acquired fame on the score of their paintings. Of course owing to the variety of subjects it adopts and the manner in which it can portray them, painting is less restricted than sculpture in the range of its spread amongst different peoples. But this is not the point really at issue. If we look only at empirical facts, then this or that has been produced at the most different periods in this or that manner in this, that, or the other nation. But the deeper question is about the principle of painting, i.e. to examine its means of portrayal, and therefore to determine what that subject-matter is which by its very nature so precisely harmonizes with the form and mode of portrayal employed by painting that this form corresponds exactly with that content.
Of the paintings of antiquity we have only few remains, pictures that clearly are neither amongst the most excellent ones produced in antiquity nor are the work of the most famous masters of their time. At any rate, this is true of what has been found in excavations of Roman villas. Nevertheless, we must admire in these survivals, the delicacy of taste, the suitability of the subjects, the clarity of the grouping, the lightness of touch in the execution, and the freshness of colouring, excellences which surely were possessed in a far higher degree by the original models after which, for instance, the murals in the so-called ‘House of the Tragic Poet’ at Pompeii were produced. Unfortunately nothing by masters known to us by name has come down to us.But however excellent even these original paintings may have been, we still have to say that, compared with the unsurpassable beauty of their sculptures, the Greeks and Romans could not bring painting to that degree of proper development which was achieved in the Christian Middle Ages and then especially in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This backwardness of painting in comparison with sculpture in antiquity is quite naturally to be expected, because the inmost heart of the Greek outlook corresponds, more than is the case with any other art, precisely with the principle of what sculpture, and sculpture alone, can achieve. But in art the spiritual content is not separated from the mode of presentation. If, this granted, we ask for a reason why painting has been brought to its own proper height through the content of romantic art alone, the answer is that the spiritual depth of feeling, the bliss and grief of the heart is precisely this deeper content which demands spiritual animation and which has paved the way to the higher artistic perfection of painting and made that necessary.
As an example in this connection I will refer again only to what Raoul-Rochette says about the treatment of Isis holding Horus on her knees. In a general way the subject here is the same as it is in Christian pictures of the Madonna: a divine mother with her child. But the difference in the treatment and portrayal of this subject is enormous. In this pose the Egyptian Isis occurs in bas-reliefs: there is nothing maternal in her, no tenderness, no trait of that soul and feeling which is not entirely missing even in the stiffer Byzantine pictures of the Madonna. What has Raphael or indeed any other of the great Italian masters not made of the Madonna and the Christ-child! What depth of feeling, what spiritual life, what inner wealth of profound emotion, what sublimity and charm, what a human heart, though one wholly penetrated by the divine Spirit, does not speak to us out of every line of these pictures! And how endlessly how endlessly various are the forms and situations in which this subject has been portrayed, often by the same master, but still more by different artists! The mother, the young Virgin, the beauty of form and spirit, the sublimity and charm-all this and far more is emphasized in turn as the chief characteristic expressed. But above all it is not the visible beauty of the figures but the spiritual animation whereby mastery is displayed and which leads to the mastery of the presentation.
It is true that Greek art far outsoared Egyptian and even took as a subject the expression of man’s inner life, but it could not yet attain the spiritual inwardness and depth of feeling characteristic of the Christian mode of expression and, owing to its entire character, it did not strive at all for this kind of animation. The faun who holds the young Bacchus in his arms, which I have mentioned already, is extremely attractive and lovable; the same is true of the nymphs who attend on Bacchus, a most beautiful group displayed on a small gem. Here we have the like feeling of naive love for the child, a love without desire or longing, but, let alone maternal love, there is here no expression at all of the inner soul, the depth of heart which we do meet with in Christian paintings. In antiquity many excellent portraits may have been painted but neither the classical treatment of natural objects nor its vision of human or divine affairs was of such a kind as to make possible in painting the expression of such a depth of spirituality as was presented in Christian painting.
But the fact that painting demands this more subjective sort of animation is already implicit in its material. The sensuous element in which it moves, that is to say, is extension on a surface and the formation of a picture by means of particular colours whereby the form of the object as our vision sees it is transformed from the shape of something real into a pure appearance artistically created by the spirit [of the artist]. It is implicit in the principle of this material that the external existent is no longer to have validity in the last resort on its own account in its actual, even if spiritually animated, existence, but in this reality it must precisely be degraded to being merely a pure appearance of the inner spirit which wants to contemplate itself there on its own account. When we look at the thing more deeply we can see that the advance from the totality of the sculptural figure has no other meaning but this. It is the inner life of the spirit which undertakes to express itself as inner in the mirror of externality. Then, secondly, the surface on which painting makes its subjects appear, leads on by itself to surroundings, connections, and relations; and colour, as the particularization of the appearance in the picture, demands also a particularization of the inner life, which itself can become clear only by definite expressions, situations, and actions, and therefore requires a direct variety, a movement, and a detailed inner and outer life. But this principle of that inwardness as such which in its actual appearance is linked at the same time with the varied forms of external existence, and is recognized as collected together in itself out of its detailed existence, we have seen as the principle of the romantic form of art; and therefore it is the sphere of painting, and that one sphere alone, which has its entirely correspondent object in the content and mode of presentation of that form. But on the other hand we may say likewise that when romantic art wishes actually to produce works of art, it must look for a material correspondent with its content and find it first of all in painting which in all objects and modes of treatment other than those of romantic art remains more or less formal. Therefore, although there is oriental, Greek, and Roman painting outside Christian painting, nevertheless the real heart of painting remains the development which this art has attained within the confines of the romantic sphere. And we can only speak of oriental and Greek painting in the sense in which we referred to Christian sculpture in comparison with the sculpture that was rooted in the classical ideal and reached its true peak in portraying that ideal. In other words, everyone must admit that only in the material available in the romantic art-form does painting acquire topics completely meeting its means and forms, and therefore only in treating those topics has it used its means and exhausted them to the full.
When we pursue this matter purely in general terms, the following are the points that arise in connection with the subject-matter, the material, and the artistic mode of treatment in painting.
The chief determinant of the subject-matter of painting is, as we saw, subjectivity aware of itself.
(α) Therefore, if we consider it on its inner side, individuality may not pass over entirely into what is substantive [and universal] but must on the contrary display how it contains in itself, as this individual, every content, and has and expresses in that content its inner being, its very own life of idea and feeling; nor can its outer shape appear, as in sculpture, purely and simply dominated by the individual’s inner life. For the subject masters the external thing as the object belonging to itself, yet at the same time it is that identity, returning into itself, which owing to this self-enclosure is indifferent to the external and lets it go its own way. For this reason, so far as the spiritual side of the content is concerned, the individual person is not directly made one with what is substantive and universal but is reflected into himself up to the extreme pinnacle of personal independence. So too the particularity and universality of the external shape departs from that plastic unification into a predominance of the individual and therefore of what is rather accidental and indifferent in the same way that in empirical reality too this [contingency] is already the dominant character of all phenomena.
(β) A second point concerns the enlargement which painting receives, owing to its principle, in the subjects which it is to portray.
The free subjective individual allows independent existence to the entire range of things in nature and all spheres of human activity but, on the other hand, he can enter into every particular thing and make it into material for inner contemplation; indeed, only in this involvement with concrete reality does he prove himself in his own eyes to be concrete and living. Therefore it is possible for the painter to bring within the sphere of his productions a wealth of things that remain inaccessible to sculpture. The whole range of religious topics, ideas of Heaven and Hell, the story of Christ, the Apostles, the saints, etc., the realm of nature outside us, human life down to the most fleeting aspects of situations and characters-each and everything of this can win a place in painting. For to subjectivity there also belongs what is particular, arbitrary, and contingent in human interests and needs, and these therefore equally press for treatment in art.
(γ) A third thing is a corollary of this, namely that painting takes the heart as a content of its productions. What lives in the heart is present in a subjective way, even if the objective and the absolute are the burden of it. For the heart’s feeling may have the universal as what it feels, and yet, as feeling, the universal does not retain the form of this universality but appears in the way that I, this specific individual, know and feel myself in it. If I am to set forth an objective content of feeling in its objectivity, I must forget myself. Thus painting does of course bring to our vision the inner life in the form of an external object, but the real content which it expresses is the feeling of the individual subject; consequently it cannot after all provide, so far as form goes, such specific visions of the Divine, for example, as sculpture can, but only those more indefinite ideas which feeling can provide. This may seem a contradiction, for we see the greatest masters often preferring to choose as subjects for painting our external environment, hills, valleys, forests, burns, trees, shrubs, ships, clouds, sky, the sea, buildings, rooms, etc., and yet it seems contradictory to say that the heart of these pictures is not the subjects themselves but the liveliness and soul of the subjective treatment and execution, the mind of the artist which is mirrored in his work and provides not only a mere copy of these external things but at the same time himself and his inner soul. Precisely for this reason the subjects painted, even so regarded, are indifferent to us because the manifestation of the individual artist in them begins to become prominent as the chief thing. It is by this orientation to the heart, [the expression of] which, in the case of natural objects, can often be no more than a general echo of the mood they produce, that painting is most clearly distinguished from architecture and sculpture, because it more nearly approaches music and makes the transition from the plastic arts to the art of sound.
More than once already I have described the most general chief features of the sensuous material used by painting as distinct from sculpture; here therefore I will only touch on the closer connection between this material and the spiritual content which it is its principal business to portray.
(α) The first point to be considered in this connection is that painting contracts the spatial totality of three dimensions. Their complete contraction would be their concentration into a point which implies cancelling all juxtaposition and, in this cancellation, a restlessness like that belonging to a point of time. But only music goes to the length of carrying out this negation completely and logically. Painting, however, does allow space to persist and extinguishes only one of the three dimensions, so that a surface becomes the medium of its representations. This reduction of the three dimensions to a level surface is implicit in the principle of interiorization which can be asserted, as inwardness, in space only by reason of the fact that it restricts and does not permit the subsistence of the totality of the external dimensions.
People are commonly inclined to suppose that this reduction is a caprice on the part of painting and that for this reason painting has an inescapable defect. For it is supposed to want to make visible to us even natural objects in their whole reality and, by the medium of the human body and its deportment, spiritual ideas and feelings, but, it is held, the surface is insufficient for this purpose and always inferior to nature which confronts us in a totally different sort of completeness.
(αα) Of course, so far as matter in space is concerned, painting is more abstract than sculpture, but this abstraction, far from being a purely capricious restriction or a lack of human skill in contrast to nature and its productions, is precisely the necessary advance beyond sculpture. Even sculpture was not a bare imitation of what was existent in nature or corporeally; on the contrary, it was a reproduction issuing from the spirit and therefore it stripped away from the figure all those features in ordinary natural existence which did not correspond with the specific matter to be portrayed. In sculpture this included the detail of the colouring, so that all that remained was the abstraction of the visible shape. In painting, however, the opposite is the case, for its content is the spiritual inner life which can come into appearance in the external only as retiring into itself out of it. So painting does indeed work for our vision, but in such a way that the object which it presents does not remain an actual total spatial natural existent but becomes a reflection of the spirit in which the spirit only reveals its spiritual quality by cancelling the real existent and transforming it into a pure appearance in the domain of spirit for apprehension by spirit.
(ββ) Therefore painting has to renounce the totality of space and it is not required by any lack of human skill to sacrifice this completeness. Since the subject-matter of painting in its spatial existence is only a pure appearance of the spiritual inner life which art presents for the spirit’s apprehension, the independence of the actual spatially present existent is dissolved and it acquires a far closer relation to the spectator than is the case with a work of sculpture. The statue is predominantly independent on its own account, unconcerned about the spectator who can place himself wherever he likes: where he stands, how he moves, how he walks round it, all this is a matter of indifference to this work of art. If this independence is to be preserved, the statue must give something to the spectator wherever he stands. But this independence the work of sculpture has to retain because its content is what is, within and without, self-reposing, self-complete, and objective. Whereas in painting the content is subjectivity, more precisely the inner life inwardly particularized, and for this very reason the separation in the work of art between its subject and the spectator must emerge and yet must immediately be dissipated because, by displaying what is subjective, the work, in its whole mode of presentation, reveals its purpose as existing not independently on its own account but for subjective apprehension, for the spectator. The spectator is as it were in it from the beginning, is counted in with it, and the work exists only for this fixed point, i.e. for the individual apprehending it. Yet for this relation to vision and its spiritual reflection the pure appearance of reality is enough, and the actual totality of spatial dimensions is really disturbing because in that case the objects perceived retain an existence of their own and do not simply appear as configurated artificially by spirit for its own contemplation. For this reason nature cannot reduce its productions to a level surface since they have, and at the same time are meant to have, a real independence of their own. In painting, however, satisfaction does not lie in the objects as they exist in reality but in the purely contemplative interest in the external reflection of the inner life, and consequently painting dispenses with all need and provision for a reality and an organization totally spatial in all dimensions.
(γγ) With this reduction to a surface there is associated, thirdly, the fact that painting is at a still further remove from architecture than sculpture is. For even if sculptures are set up independently on their own account in public squares or gardens, they always need an architecturally treated pedestal, while in rooms, forecourts, halls, etc., architecture serves purely as an environment for the statues or, alternatively, sculptures are used as a decoration of buildings, and therefore there is a closer connection between the two arts. Whereas painting, whether in the confines of a room or in open galleries or in the open air, is confined to a wall. Originally it has only the purpose of filling empty wall-surfaces. This function it fulfilled, especially in antiquity where the walls of temples, and later of private houses, were decorated in this way. The chief task of Gothic architecture was to provide an enclosure of the most grandiose proportions, and it affords still larger surfaces, indeed the most immense surfaces conceivable, yet in its case, whether for the outside or inside of the buildings, painting occurs only in earlier mosaics as a decoration of empty surfaces. The later architecture of the fourteenth century, on the contrary, fills its tremendous walls in a purely architectural way; of this the main façade of Strasbourg Cathedral provides the most magnificent example. In this case, apart from the entrance doors, the rose window and other windows, the empty surfaces are adorned with much grace and variety by window-like decorations traced on the walls and by statuesque figures, so that no paintings are required at all over and above. Therefore in religious architecture painting enters again only in buildings which begin to approach the model of classical architecture. Nevertheless, on the whole, Christian religious painting is separated from architecture, and its works become independent as, for instance, in large altar-pieces or in chapels or on high altars. Even here the painting must remain related to the place, for which it is intended, but in other respects its function is not merely filling surfaces on a wall; on the contrary, it is there on its own account, as a sculpture is. Finally, painting is used to decorate halls and rooms in public buildings, town-halls, palaces, private houses, etc., and this links it again more closely with architecture, although in this link it ought not to lose its independence as a free art.
(β) But the further necessity which makes painting reduce the spatial dimensions to a surface depends on the fact that painting is called on to express the inner life particularized in itself and therefore possessed of a wealth of varied specifications. The pure restriction to the spatial forms of the figure, with which sculpture can be satisfied, is therefore dissipated in the richer art, for the spatial forms are the most abstract thing in nature, and now, when a more inherently varied material is required, particular differences must be grasped. The principle of representation in space therefore carries with it here a physically specified definite material; if its differentiations are to appear as the essential ones in the work of art, then they display this themselves at the expense of that totality of space which no longer remains the ultimate mode of representation. In order to make prominent the appearance of the physical element there must be a departure from the totality of the spatial dimensions. For in painting the dimensions are not present on their own account in their proper reality but are only made apparent and visible by means of this physical element.
(αα) Now if we ask about the character of the physical element which painting uses, the answer is that it is light as what makes visible universally the whole world of objects.
The sensuous concrete material of architecture, considered above, was resistant heavy matter which, especially in architecture, presented precisely this character of heavy matter as compressing, burdening, carrying, and being carried, etc., and this same character was not lost in sculpture. Heavy matter presses because it has its material point of unity not in itself but in something else; it seeks and strives for this point but it remains where it is owing to the resistance offered by other bodies which therefore serve as its support. The principle of light is the opposite of the heavy matter which has not yet achieved its unity. Whatever else may be said about light, we cannot deny that it is absolutely weightless, not offering resistance but pure identity with itself and therefore purely self-reposing, the earliest ideality, the original self of nature. With light, nature begins for the first time to become subjective and it is now the universal physical self which, it is true, has neither advanced to particularization nor become concentrated into individuality or the self-perfection of a point, but still it does cancel the pure objectivity and externality of heavy matter and can abstract from the sensuous and spatial totality of matter. From this point of view of the more ideal quality of light, light becomes the physical principle of painting.
(ββ) But light as such exists only as one side of what is implicit in the principle of subjectivity, i.e. as this more ideal [self] -identity. In this respect light only manifests, in the sense that it proves in nature to be simply what makes things in general visible ; but the particular character of what it reveals remains outside it as an object which is not light but the opposite of light and so is dark. Now light makes these objects known in their differences of shape, distance from one another, etc., and it does this by irradiating them; i.e. it lightens to a greater or lesser extent their darkness and invisibility. It makes single parts more visible the more nearly they come before the spectator’s eye while others it keeps in the background as darker, i.e. further removed from the spectator. For when the specific colour of an object is not in question, bright and dark as such are related in general to the distance of the irradiated objects from us, i.e. to the way in which they are specifically lit. In this relation to objects, light does not now present itself as light pure and simple but produces that already inherently particularized brightness and darkness, light and shadow, the varied figurations of which reveal the shape of the objects and their distance from one another and from the spectator. This is the principle which painting uses because particularization is implicit in its very nature from the start. If we compare painting in this respect with architecture and sculpture, these arts do actually present the real differences in the spatial form and they produce the effect of light and shadow both by the illumination provided by natural light and also by the position of the spectator. In this case the roundness of the forms is there already on its own account, and the light and shadow which makes them visible is only a consequence of what was actually there already independently of this being made visible. In painting, on the other hand, light and darkness with all their gradations and finest nuances belong themselves to the principle of the material used in painting and they produce only the intended pure appearance of what sculpture and architecture shape in reality. Light and shadow, the appearance of objects in their illumination, are produced by art and not by natural light which therefore only makes visible that brightness and darkness and the illumination which had already been produced by the painter’s art. This is the positive reason, drawn from the very material itself, why painting does not need the three dimensions. The painted shape is made by light and shadow, and the shape of a real [three-dimensional] object is in itself superfluous.
(γγ) Bright and dark, light and shadow, and their interplay are, however, only an abstraction which does not exist as this abstraction m nature and therefore cannot be used as a sensuous material either.
Light, as we have seen already, is related to its opposite, darkness. But yet in this relation these two opposites do not remain independent at all but are set in unity, in an interplay of light and dark. Light darkened, made in this way murky in itself, which at the same time penetrates and illumines the dark, provides the principle of colour as the real material for painting. Light as such remains colourless, the pure indeterminacy of identity with itself. Colour, which in contrast to light is something relatively dark, entails something different from light, a murkiness with which the principle of light is united, and it is therefore a bad and false idea to suppose that light is compounded out of different colours, i.e. out of different darkenings.
Shape, distance, boundaries, contours, in short all the spatial relations and differences of objects appearing in space, are produced in painting only by colour. Its more ideal principle is capable of representing too a more ideal content, and by its profound contrasts, infinitely varied modulations, transitions, and delicacies of arrangement it affords the widest possible scope for the softest nuances in presenting the wealth and particular characteristics of the objects to be selected for painting. It is incredible what colour can really achieve in this way. Two men, for example, are altogether different; of them in his personality and bodily organism is a perfect totality in mind and body, and yet in a painting this entire difference is reduced to a difference of colours. At one point a colour stops and another begins, and by this means everything is there, form, distance, play of features, expression, the entire visible and spiritual character. And this reduction, as I have said, we may not regard as a makeshift and a deficiency, but the very contrary. Painting does not at all feel the lack of the third dimension; it discards it deliberately in order to substitute for what is simply a real object in space the higher and richer principle of colour.
(γ) This richness enables painting to develop in its productions the entirety of appearance. Sculpture is more or less restricted to the fixed self-enclosedness of the individual; but in painting the individual is not firmly kept to the like limitation within, and against what is without, but enters into relations of the greatest possible variety. For on the one hand, as I have mentioned already, the individual [m a painting] is put into a far closer relation with the spectator, while on the other hand he acquires a more varied connection with other individuals and the external natural environment. The simple fact of presenting only the appearance of objects makes possible in one and the same work of art the presentation of the furthest distances and widest spaces as well as the objects of the most various kinds occurring in them. Yet the work of art must nevertheless be a self-enclosed whole, and in this self-enclosure must show that its limits and boundaries are not arbitrary but that it is an entirety of particular details belonging to one another as the topic in hand requires.
Thirdly, after this general consideration of the subject-matter and material of painting we have to indicate briefly the general principle of the artist’s mode of treatment. More than architecture and sculpture, painting admits of two extremes: what is made the chief thing is (a) the depth of the subject-matter, i.e. religious and moral seriousness in the treatment and presentation of the ideal beauty of form, and (b), in the case of insignificant subjects chosen by the artist, the details of them as they actually are and the subjective skill of the artist in his work. For this reason we can often hear two extreme judgements: on the one hand, the exclamation ‘what a magnificent subject, how deep the conception, how attractive, how marvellous, what sublimity of expression, what boldness of design!’ And then the opposite: ‘how magnificently and incomparably painted!’ This separation of judgements is implicit in the very nature of painting itself; indeed we could even say that both these aspects are not to be unified or uniformly developed but that each must be independent on its own account. For painting has as its means of portrayal both the shape as such, the forms of objects delimited in space, and also colour. Owing to this character that it has it lies in the middle between what is ideal and plastic and, at the other extreme, the 1mmediate particular character of what is actual. For this reason two kinds of painting come before us: (i) the ideal kind with the universal as its essence, and (ii) the other which presents what is 1ndividual in its closeness of particular detail.
(α) In this respect, painting, in the first place, like sculpture, has to accept [for presentation] what is substantive, i.e. the objects of religious faith, great historical events, the most pre-eminent individuals, although it brings this substantive material before our contemplation in the form of inner subjectivity. Here what is important is the magnificence, the seriousness of the action represented, the profundity of the mind expressed there, and the result is that full justice cannot be done to the development and application of all the rich artistic means which painting can use or to the skill required for perfect virtuosity in the use of those means. It is the power of the subject-matter to be represented, and immersion into its essential and substantive character, which push into the background, as something less essential, that overwhelming skill in the painter’s art. So, for example, Raphael’s cartoons are of inestimable value and they display every excellence of conception, but, even in his completed pictures, whatever mastery he may have achieved in design, composition, and colouring, and in the purity of his ideal yet always living and individual figures, he is nevertheless certainly outclassed by the Dutch painters in colour, landscape, etc. Still more true is this sort of thing in the case of the earlier Ialtian masters; in depth, power, and deep feeling of ‘expression Raphael is just as inferior to them as he soars above them in a painter’s skill, in the beauty of vivid grouping, in design, etc.
(β) Conversely, however, as we saw, painting must go beyond this immersion in the rich content of subjectivity and its infinity. On the contrary it must free, and release into independence, particular detail, i.e. what constitutes as it were something otherwise incidental, i.e. the environment and the background. In this progress from the most profound seriousness to external details, painting must press on to the extreme of pure appearance, i.e. to the point where the content does not matter and where the chief interest is the artistic creation of that appearance. In supreme art we see fixed the most fleeting appearance of the sky, the time of day, the lighting of the trees; the appearances and reflections of clouds, waves, lochs, streams; the shimmering and glittering of wine in a glass, a flash of the eye, a momentary look or smile, etc. Here painting leaves the ideal for the reality of life; the effect of appearance it achieves here especially by the exactitude with which every tiniest individual part is executed. Yet this is achieved by no mere assiduity of composition but by a spiritually rich industry which perfects each detail independently and yet retains the whole connected and flowing together; to achieve this, supreme skill is required. Here the thus achieved liveliness in creating an appearance of reality seems to have a higher specific character than the ideal and therefore in no art has there been more dispute about ideal and nature, as I have already explained at greater length on another occasion.We could of course blame the application of all artistic means to such a trivial subject-matter, on the ground of extravagance, yet painting may not spurn this subject-matter which on its side and alone is fitted to be treated with such art and to provide this infinite subtlety and delicacy of pure appearance.
(γ) But, in painting, artistic treatment does not remain in this more general opposition [between ideal and nature], but, since painting in general rests on the principle of the subjective and the particular, it proceeds to still closer particularization and individualization: Architecture and sculpture do display national differences, and sculpture especially makes us aware of a more detailed individuality of schools and single masters. But, in painting, this variation and subjectivity in the mode of treatment expands widely and to an incalculable extent, just as the subjects selected for portrayal cannot be delimited in advance. Here above all we find asserted the particular spirit of nations, provinces, epochs, and individuals, and this affects not only the choice of subjects and the spirit of the artist’s conception, but also the sort of design, grouping, shading, handling of the brush, treatment of specific colours, etc., right down to individual mannerisms and habits.
Since painting has the function of engaging so unrestrictedly in the sphere of particulars and the inner life, few precise generalizations can be made about it, just as there are few specific facts about it which could be cited as universally true. Yet we ought not to be content with the explanation I have so far given of the principle of painting’s subject-matter, material, and mode of artistic treatment. On the contrary, even if we leave on one side the vast variety of empirical detail, we must give closer consideration to some particular aspects of painting which appear to be decisive.
The different considerations governing this firmer characterization which we now have to undertake are prescribed to us in advance by our previous discussion. Once again they concern the subject-matter, the material, and the artistic treatment of both of these.
(i) The subject-matter, as we have seen, corresponds with the content of the romantic form of art; but we must raise the further question of what specific spheres of the wealth of this art-form are pre-eminently fitted and appropriate to portrayal in painting.
(ii) We are already acquainted with the sensuous material in principle, but we must specify in more detail the forms which can be expressed on a plane surface by colour, because the human form and other things in nature are to be made visible in order to make manifest the inner life of die spirit.
(iii) Similarly, there is a question about the specific nature of the artistic treatment and portrayal which corresponds in different ways with the differing character of the subject-matter and therefore introduces particular genres of painting.
Earlier on I referred to the fact that there were excellent painters in antiquity, but at the same time I remarked that the mission of painting could only be really fulfilled by means of that sort of outlook and feeling which is in evidence and active in the romantic form of art. But if we consider this in relation to the subject-matter it seems to contradict the fact that precisely at the zenith of Christian painting, at the time of Raphael, Correggio, Rubens, etc., mythological subjects were used and portrayed partly on their own account, partly decoratively and allegorically in connection with great exploits, triumphs, royal marriages, etc. A similar thing has been mentioned in various ways in most recent times. Goethe, for example, has taken up again the descriptions of the paintings of Polygnotus by Philostratus, and with his poetic treatment has freshened up these subjects and renewed them for painters. But if with these suggestions there is bound up a demand that the topics of Greek mythology and the stories in the Greek sagas, as well as scenes from the Roman world (for which the French at a certain period of their painting showed a great preference) be treated and portrayed in exactly the sense and spirit of antiquity, it must at once be retorted that this past cannot be recalled to life and that what is specifically characteristic of antiquity cannot be made perfectly conformable with the principle of painting. Therefore the painter must make of these materials something totally different, and insert into them a totally different spirit, a different mode of feeling and illustration, from that of antiquity itself, if such subject-matter is to be brought into harmony with the proper tasks and aims of painting. So after all the range of these classical materials and situations is on the whole not that which painting has developed in a consistent way; on the contrary it has abandoned them as at the same time a heterogeneous matter which has first to be transformed. For, as I have already indicated more than once, painting has primarily to grasp that material which, in contrast to sculpture, music, and poetry, it is especially able to represent in ‘an external form. This is the concentration of the spirit in itself, the expression of which sculpture must ever renounce, while music in its turn cannot pass over into an external perceptible manifestation of the inner life, and poetry itself can only provide an imperfect vision of what is corporeal. Whereas painting can link both sides together; in the external itself it can express the full range of deep feeling; it can take as its essential subject-matter the deeply stamped particularity of character and characteristics, and the spiritual depth of feeling in general as well as in particular; as an expression of that depth of feeling, specific events, relations, or situations must not appear as simply the unfolding of an individual character; on the contrary, what is specifically particular in that character must appear as deeply engraved or rooted in the soul and facial expression and as entirely assumed by the external shape.
But what is required for the expression of spiritual depth as such is not that original and ideal independence and magnificence of the classical figures in which individuality remains in immediate harmony with the substance of its spiritual being and with the visible aspect of its appearance in the body; neither is the representation of the heart satisfied by the Greek natural serenity, cheerfulness in enjoyment, and bliss of self-absorption. On the contrary the depth and profound feeling of the spirit presupposes that the soul has worked its way through its feelings and powers and the whole of its inner life, i.e. that it has overcome much, suffered grief, endured anguish and pain of soul, and yet in this disunion has preserved its integrity and withdrawn out of it into itself. In the myth of Hercules the Greeks have presented us with a hero who after many labours was placed amongst the gods and enjoyed blissful peace there. But what Hercules achieved was only something outside him, the bliss given him as a reward was only peaceful repose. The ancient prophecy that he would put an end to the reign of Zeus, he did not fulfill, supreme hero of the Greeks though he was. The end of that rule only began when man conquered not dragons outside him or Lernaean hydras, but the dragons and hydras of his own heart, the inner obstinacy and inflexibility of his own self. Only in this way does natural serenity become that higher serenity of the spirit which completely traverses the negative moment of disunion and by this labour has won infinite satisfaction. The, feeling of cheerfulness and happiness must be transfigured and purified into bliss. For good fortune and happiness still involve an accidental and natural correspondence between the individual and his external circumstances; but in bliss the good fortune still attendant on a man’s existence as he is in nature falls away and the whole thing is transferred into the inner life of the spirit. Bliss is an acquired satisfaction and justified only on that account; it is a serenity in victory, the soul’s feeling when it has expunged from itself everything sensuous and finite and therefore has cast aside the care that always lies in wait for us. The soul is blissful when, after experiencing conflict and agony, it has triumphed over its sufferings.
(α) If we now ask what can be strictly ideal in this subject-matter, the answer is: the reconciliation of the individual heart with God who in his appearance as man has traversed this way of sorrows. The substance of spiritual depth of feeling is religion alone, the peace of the individual who has a sense of himself but who finds true satisfaction only when, self-collected, his mundane heart is broken so that he is raised above his mere natural existence and its finitude, and in this elevation has won a universal depth of feeling, a spiritual depth and oneness in and with God. The soul wills itself, but it wills itself in something other than what it is in its individuality and therefore it gives itself up in face of God in order to find and enjoy itself in him. This is characteristic of love, spiritual depth in its truth, that religious love without desire which gives to the human spirit reconciliation, peace, and bliss. It is not the pleasure and joy of actual love as we know it in ordinary life, but a love without passion, indeed without physical inclination but with only an inclination of soul. Looked at physically, this is a love which is death, a death to the world, so that there hovers there as something past the actual relationship of one person to another; as a real mundane bond and connection this relationship has not come essentially to its perfection; for, on the contrary, it bears in itself the deficiency of time and the finite, and therefore it leads on to that elevation into a beyond which remains a consciousness and enjoyment of love devoid of longing and desire.
This is the trait constituting the soulful, inner, higher ideal which enters here in place of the quiet grandeur and independence of the figures of antiquity. The gods of the classical ideal too do not lack a trait of mourning, of a fateful negative, present in the cold necessity imprinted on these serene figures, but still, in their independent divinity and freedom, they retain an assurance of their simple grandeur and power. But their freedom is not the freedom of that love which is soulful and deeply felt because this depends on a relation of soul to soul, spirit to spirit. This depth of feeling kindles the ray of bliss present in the heart, that ray of a love which in sorrow and its supreme loss does not feel sang-froid or any sort of comfort, but the deeper it suffers yet in suffering still finds the sense and certainty of love and shows in grief that it has overcome itself within and by itself. In the ideal figures of antiquity, on the other hand, we do see, apart from the above mentioned trait of quiet mourning, the expression of the grief of noble beings, e.g. in Niobe and the Laocoon. They do not lapse into grief and despair but still keep their grandeur and large-heartedness. But this preservation of their character remains empty; grief and pain is as it were final, and in place of reconciliation and satisfaction there can only enter a cold resignation in which the individual, without altogether collapsing, still sacrifices what he had clung to. It is not a matter of suppressing what is beneath him; he does not display any wrath, contempt, or vexation, and yet the loftiness of his individuality is only a persistent self-consistency, an empty endurance of fate in which the nobility and grief of his soul still appear as not balanced. It is only the religious love of romanticism which has an expression of bliss and freedom.
This oneness and satisfaction is in its nature spiritually concrete because it is what is felt by the spirit which knows itself in another as at one with itself. Here therefore if the subject-matter portrayed is to be complete, it must have two aspects because love necessarily implies a double character in the spiritual personality. It rests on two independent persons who yet have a sense of their unity; but there is always linked with this unity at the same time the factor of the negative. Love is a matter of subjective feeling, but the subject which feels is this self-subsistent heart which, in order to love, must desist from itself, abandon itself, and sacrifice the inflexible focus of its own private personality. This sacrifice is what is moving in the love that lives and feels only in this self-surrender. Yet on this account a person in this sacrifice still retains his own self and in the very cancelling of his independence acquires a precisely affirmative independence. Nevertheless, in the sense of this oneness and its supreme happiness there still remains left the negative factor, the moving sense not so much of sacrifice as rather of the undeserved bliss of feeling independent and at unity with self in spite of all the self-surrender. The moving emotion is the sense of the dialectical contradiction of having sacrificed one’s personality and yet of being independent at the same time; this contradiction is ever present in love and ever resolved in it.
So far as concerns the particular human individual personality in this depth of feeling, the unique love which affords bliss and an enjoyment of heaven rises above time and the particular individuality of that character which becomes a matter of indifference. The ideal figures of the gods in sculpture do pass over into one another, as has been noticed already, but although they are not without the content and range of original and immediate individuality, this individuality does still remain the essential form of their sculptural portrayal. Whereas in the pure ray of bliss which has just been described, particular individuality is superseded: in the sight of God all men are equal, or piety, rather, makes them all actually equal so that the only thing of importance is the expression of that concentration of love which needs neither happiness nor any particular single object. It is true that religious love too cannot exist without specific individuals who have some other sphere of existence apart from this feeling. But here the strictly ideal content is provided by the soulful depth of spiritual feeling which does not have its expression and actuality in the particular difference of a character with its talent, relationships, and fates, but is rather raised above these. Therefore, when we hear nowadays that the chief thing in education, and in what a man should require of himself, is concern for differences of personal character (which implies the fundamental principle that everyone should be treated, and that an individual should treat himself, differently from everyone else), this way of thinking is entirely opposed to religious love in which such individual differences fall into the background. Conversely, however, just because individual characterization is the non-essential element which is not absolutely fused with love’s spiritual kingdom of heaven, it acquires here a greater determinacy. This is because, in conformity with the principle of the romantic form of art, it becomes liberated, and it becomes all the more characteristic in that it does not have for its supreme law classical beauty, i.e. the permeation of immediate life and finite particularity by the spiritual and religious content. Nevertheless this individual characterization cannot and should not disturb that spiritual depth of love which on its side is likewise not tied down to individual character as such but has become free and is in itself the truly independent and spiritual ideal.
The ideal centre and chief topic of the religious sphere, as has been explained in our consideration of the romantic form of art, is love reconciled and at peace with itself. Painting has to portray spiritual subject-matter in the form of actual and bodily human beings, and therefore the object of this love must not be painted as a purely spiritual ‘beyond’ but as actual and present. Here we may specify the Holy Family, and above all the Madonna’s love for her child, as the absolutely suitable ideal subject for this sphere. But on either side of this centre there extends a still wider material, even if in one respect or another it is in itself less perfect for painting. This whole subject-matter we may articulate in the following way:
(αα) The first topic is the object of love itself in its simple universality and undisturbed unity with itself – i.e. God in his essence, devoid of any appearance, i.e. God the Father. Here, where painting intends to present God the Father as he is conceived in Christian ideas, it has great difficulties to surmount. The father of gods and men as a particular individual is exhaustively represented in art in the figure of Zeus. Whereas what God the Father lacks at once in Christianity is the human individuality in which alone art can reproduce the spirit. For, taken in himself, God the Father is certainly spiritual personality, supreme power, wisdom, etc., but he is always kept shapeless and as an abstract ens rationis. But art cannot renounce anthropomorphism and must therefore give him a human shape. Now, however universal this shape may be, however lofty, profound, and powerful it may be kept, nevertheless what emerges from it is only a masculine, more or less serious, individual who cannot completely correspond with our idea of God the Father. Amongst the older Dutch painters van Eyck has achieved the summit of excellence possible in this sphere in his presentation of God the Father in the altar picture at Ghent. This is a work which can be set beside the Olympian Zeus. Nevertheless, however perfect it may be in its expression of eternal peace, sublimity, power, and dignity, etc.-and in conception and execution its depth and grandeur are unsurpassable-it still has in it something unsatisfying according to our ideas. For God the Father is presented here as at the same time a human individual, and this can only be Christ the Son. In him alone have we a vision of this factor of individuality and humanity as a factor in the Divine, and we see it in such a way that it is not a naive imaginative shape, as in the case of the Greek gods, but proves to be an essential revelation, as what is most important and significant.
(ββ) The more important object of love presented in paintings is therefore Christ. With this topic art passes over at the same time into the human sphere which expands beyond Christ into a further province, to the portrayal of Mary, Joseph, John the Baptist, the Disciples, etc., and finally the people, partly those who follow the Saviour, partly those who demand Christ’s Crucifixion and mock at his sufferings.
But here the difficulty already mentioned returns when Christ is to be conceived and portrayed in his universality, as has been attempted in busts and portraits. I must confess that to me at least the satisfaction they are intended to afford is not given by the heads of Christ that I have seen, e.g. by Carracci, and above all the famous head painted by van Eyck, once in the Solly collection, now in the Berlin Gallery, and that head by Hemling once belonging to the brothers Boisserée, now in Munich. Van Eyck’s head is in shape, in the forehead, and in its colour and whole conception magnificent, but at the same time the eye and the mouth do not express anything superhuman. The impression given is rather of a fixed seriousness which is intensified by the typical character of the form, parting of the hair, etc. Whereas if such heads incline in expression and form to that of an individual man, and therefore to something gentle, rather soft and weak, they quickly lose depth and powerfulness of effect. But, as I have already observed, what is least of all suited to them is the beauty of the Greek form.
Therefore Christ may be more appropriately taken in the situations of his earthly life as a subject for paintings. Yet in this matter an essential difference is not to be overlooked. In the life story of Christ the human subjective manifestation of God is a chief feature; Christ is one of the Trinity and, as one of its Persons, comes into the midst of men, and therefore he can be portrayed also in his appearance as a man, in so far as that appearance expresses the inner life of the spirit. But, on the other hand, he is not only an individual man but very God. Now in situations where his Divinity should break out from his human personality, painting comes up against new difficulties. The depth of all that this implies begins to become all too powerful. For in most cases where Christ teaches, for instance, art can get no further than portraying him as the noblest, worthiest, wisest man, like Pythagoras, for example, or one of the other philosophers in Raphael’s School of Athens. Accordingly, one very favourite expedient painting finds, and is only able to find, by bringing the Divinity of Christ before our eyes, in the main, through placing him in his surroundings, particularly in contrast to sin, remorse, and penitence, or to human baseness and wickedness, or alternatively through his worshippers who, by their worship, deprive him of his immediate existence as man, as man like themselves, a man who appears and exists, so that we see him raised to the spiritual heaven, and at the same time we have a sight of his appearance not only as God but as an ordinary and natural, not ideal, man; we see too that as Spirit he exists essentially in humanity, in the Church, and expresses his Divinity as reflected there. Yet we must not interpret this spiritual reflection by supposing that God is present in humanity only accidentally or in an external form and mode of expression; on the contrary, we must regard the existence of the Spirit in the consciousness of man as the essential spiritual existence of God. Such a mode of portrayal will have to appear especially where Christ is to be put before our eyes as man, teacher, risen, or transfigured and ascended into heaven. But the means at the disposal of painting, the human figure and its colour, the flash and glance of the eye, are insufficient in themselves to give perfect expression to what is implicit in Christ in situations like these. Least of all can the forms of classical beauty suffice. In particular, the Resurrection, Transfiguration, and Ascension, and in general all the scenes in the life of Christ when, after the Crucifixion and his death, he has withdrawn from immediate existence as simply this individual man and is on the way to return to his Father, demand in Christ himself a higher expression of Divinity than painting is completely able to give to him; for its proper means for portraying him, namely human individuality and its external form, it should expunge here and glorify him in a purer light.
More advantageous for art and more in correspondence with its aim are therefore those situations out of the life-story of Christ where he appears not yet spiritually perfect or where his Divinity is restricted and abased, i.e. at the moment of his self-negation. This is the case in the childhood of Christ and the story of the Passion.
The fact that Christ is a child does in one way definitely express the meaning he has in our religion: he is God who becomes man and therefore goes through the stages of human life. But at the same time the fact that he is portrayed as a child implies the obvious impossibility of clearly already exhibiting everything that is implicit in him. Now here painting has the incalculable advantage that from the naïveté and innocence of the child it can make shine out a loftiness and sublimity of spirit which gains in power by this contrast; though just because it belongs to a child it is asked to display this depth and glory in an infinitely lower degree than it would be in Christ the man, the teacher, the judge of the world, etc. So Raphael’s pictures of the Christ-child, especially the one in the Sistine Madonna in Dresden, have the most beautiful expression of childhood, and yet we can see in them something beyond purely childlike innocence, something which makes visible the Divine behind the veil of youth and gives us an inkling of the expansion of this Divinity into an infinite revelation; and at the same time the picture of a child has justification in the fact that in him the revelation is not yet perfect. On the other hand, in van Eyck’s pictures of the Madonna the child is every time the least successful part: he is usually stiff and in the immature shape of a new-born infant. Some people propose to see something intentional and allegorical in this, on the ground that the reason why the child is not beautiful in these pictures is that it is not the beauty of the Christ-child that is the object of worship, but Christ as Christ. But in art such reflections are out of place, and Raphael’s pictures of the Christ-child stand in this respect far above van Eyck’s as works of art.
Equally appropriate is the portrayal of the Passion story – the mockery, the crown of thorns, the Ecce Homo, the carrying of the cross, the Crucifixion, the Descent from the Cross, the Entombment, etc. For here the subject is provided precisely by God in the opposite of his triumph, in the abasement of his limitless power and wisdom. Not only does it remain possible for art to portray this material in a general way, but originality of conception has at the same time great scope here without deviating into the fantastic. It is God who suffers in so far as he is man, confined within this specific limitation, and so his grief does not appear as merely human grief over a human fate; on the contrary, this is an awesome suffering, the feeling of an infinite negativity, but in a human person as his personal feeling. And yet, since it is God who suffers, there enters again an alleviation, a lowering of his suffering which cannot come to an outburst of despair, to grimaces and horror. This expression of suffering of soul is an entirely original creation especially by several Italian masters. In the lower parts of the face grief is just seriousness, not, as in the Laocoon, a contraction of the muscles which could be taken to indicate an outcry, but in the eyes and on the forehead there are waves and storms of the soul’s suffering which, as it were, roll over one another. Drops of sweat break out, indicating inner agony, on the forehead, just where the chief determinant is the immovable bone. And precisely at this point where nose, eyes, and forehead meet, and where inner thinking and the nature of spirit are concentrated and emergent, there are only a few muscles and folds of skin which, being incapable of any great play, can therefore exhibit this suffering as restrained and at the same time as infinitely concentrated. I have in mind in particular a head in the Schleissheim gallery in which the master (Guido Reni, I think) has discovered, as other masters too have done in similar pictures, an entirely peculiar tone of colour which is not found in the human face. They had to disclose the night of the spirit, and for this purpose fashioned a type of colour which corresponds in the most splendid way to this storm, to these black clouds of the spirit that at the same time are firmly controlled and kept in place by the brazen brow of the divine nature.
As the most perfect subject for painting I have already specified inwardly satisfied [reconciled and peaceful] love, the object of which is not a purely spiritual ‘beyond’ but is present, so that we can see love itself before us in what is loved. The supreme and unique form of this love is Mary’s love for the Christ-child, the love of the one mother who has borne the Saviour of the world and carries him in her arms. This is the most beautiful subject to which Christian art in general, and especially painting in its religious sphere, has risen. The love of God, and in particular the love of Christ who sits at’ the right hand of God, is of a purely spiritual kind. The object of this love is visible only to the eye of the soul, so that here there is strictly no question of that duality which love implies, nor is any natural bond established between the lovers or any linking them together from the start. On the other hand, any other love is accidental in the inclination of one lover for another, or,’ alternatively, the lovers, e.g. brothers and sisters or a father in his love for his children, have outside this relation other conceI1l8 with an essential claim on them. Fathers or brothers have to apply themselves to the world, to the state, business, war, or, in short, to general purposes, while sisters become wives, mothers, and so forth. But in the case of maternal love it is generally true that a mother’s love for her child is neither something accidental just a single feature in her life, but, on the contrary, it is her supreme vocation on earth, and her natural character and most sacred calling directly coincide. But while other loving mothers see and feel in their child their husband and their inmost union with him, in Mary’s relation to her child this aspect is always absent. For her feeling has nothing in common with a wife’s love for her husband; on the contrary, her relation to Joseph is more like a sister’s to a brother, while on Joseph’s side there is a secret awe of the child who is God’s and Mary’s. Thus religious love in its fullest and most intimate human form we contemplate not in the suffering and risen Christ or in his lingering amongst his friends but in the person of Mary with her womanly feeling. Her whole heart and being is human love for the child that she calls her own, and at the same time adoration, worship, and love of God with whom she feels herself at one. She is humble in God’s sight and yet has an infinite sense of being the one woman who is blessed above all other virgins. She is not self-subsistent on her own account, but is perfect only in her child, in God, but in him she is satisfied and blessed, whether. at the manger or as the Queen of Heaven, without passion or longing, without any further need, without any aim other than to have and to hold what she has.
In its religious subject-matter the portrayal of this love has a wide series of events, including, for example, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Birth, the Flight into Egypt, etc. And then there are, added to this, other subjects from the later life of Christ, i.e. the Disciples and the women who follow him and in whom the love of God becomes more or less a personal relation of love for a living and present Saviour who walks amongst them as an actual man; there is also the love of the angels who hover over the birth of Christ and many other scenes in his life, in serious worship or innocent joy. In all these subjects it is painting especially which presents the peace and full satisfaction of love.
But nevertheless this peace is followed by the deepest suffering.
Mary sees Christ carry his cross, she sees him suffer and die on the cross, taken down from the cross and buried, and no grief of others is so profound as hers. Yet, even in such suffering, its real burden is not the unyieldingness of grief or of loss only, nor the weight of a necessary imposition, nor complaint about the injustice of fate, and so a comparison with the characteristic grief of Niobe is especially appropriate. Niobe too has lost all her children and now confronts us in pure sublimity and unimpaired beauty. What is kept here is the aspect of her existence as an unfortunate woman, the beauty that has become her nature and makes up the whole of her existence in reality; her actual individuality remains what it is in her beauty. But her inner life, her heart, has lost the whole burden of its love and its soul; her individuality and beauty can only turn into stone. Mary’s grief is of a totally different kind. She is emotional, she feels the thrust of the dagger into the centre of her soul, her heart breaks, but she does not turn into stone. She did not only have love; on the contrary, her whole inner life is love, the free concrete spiritual depth of feeling which preserves the absolute essence of what she has lost, and even in the loss of the loved one she ever retains the peace of love. Her heart breaks; but the very substance and burden of her heart and mind which shines through her soul’s suffering with a vividness never to be lost is something infinitely higher. This is the living beauty of soul in contrast to the abstract substance which, when its ideal existence in the body perishes, remains imperishable, but in stone.
Lastly, a final subject for painting in connection with Mary is her death and her Assumption. The death of Mary in which she recovers the attraction of youth has been beautifully painted by Scorel especially. Here this master has given to the Virgin the expression of walking in her sleep, of the presence of death, of rigidity, and of blindness to everything external, along with the expression of her spirit which, though still peeping through her features, exists and is blissful elsewhere.
(γγ) But, thirdly, there enters into the sphere of this actual presence of God in his and his friends’ life, in his sufferings and glory, humanity, the subjective consciousness which makes God, or in particular his acts in his historical life, into an object of its love and so is related to the Absolute and not to some temporal state of affairs. Here too there are three aspects to emphasize: (i) tranquil worship, (ii) repentance and conversion which internally and externally repeat the Passion story of God in man, and (iii) the soul’s inner transfiguration and bliss of purification.
(i) Worship as such especially provides the subject-matter of prayer. This is indeed a situation of humility, of the sacrifice of Pelf and the quest for peace in another, but still it is not so much begging (Bitten) as praying (Beten). Of course begging and praying are closely related because a prayer may also be a begging. Yet begging proper wants something for itself; it is addressed to someone who possesses something essential to me, in the hope that my begging will incline his heart to me, weaken his heart, and stimulate his love for me and so arouse in him a sense of identity with me. But what I feel in begging him is the desire for something that he is to lose when I get it; he is to love me so that my own selfishness can be satisfied and my interest and welfare furthered. But I give nothing in return except perhaps an implicit avowal that he can ask the same things of me. This is not the kind of thing that prayer is. Prayer is an elevation of the heart to God who is absolute love and asks nothing for himself. Worship itself is the prayer answered; the petition itself is bliss. For although prayer may also contain a petition for some particular thing, this particular request is not what should really be expressed; on the contrary, the essential thing is the assurance of simply being heard, not of being heard in respect of this particular request, but absolute confidence that God will give me what is best for me. Even in this respect, prayer is itself satisfaction, enjoyment, the express feeling and consciousness of eternal love which is not only a ray of transfiguration shining through the worshipper’s figure and situation, but is in itself the situation and what exists and is to be portrayed. This is the prayerful situation of e.g. Pope Sixtus in the Raphael picture that is called after him, and of St. Barbara in the same picture; the same is true of the innumerable prayerful situations of Apostles and saints (e.g. St. Francis) at the foot of the Cross, where what is now chosen as the subject is, not Christ’s grief or the timorousness, doubt, and despair of the Disciples, but the love and adoration of God, the prayer that loses itself in him.
Especially in the earlier ages of painting there are faces of this kind, usually of old men who have gone through much in life and suffering. The faces have been treated as if they were portraits, yet they are those of worshipful souls. The result is that this worship is not their occupation at this moment only, but on the contrary they become priests, as it were, or saints whose whole life, thought, desire, and will is worship, and their expression, despite all portraiture, has in it nothing but this assurance and this peace of love. Yet things are different already in the case of the older German and Flemish masters. The subject of the picture in Cologne Cathedral, for instance, is the patron saints of Cologne and the adoration of the Magi, and this topic is much favoured too in the school of van Eyck. Here those in prayer are often well-known people, princes, etc., as e.g. it has been proposed to recognize in the famous prayer picture (in the Boisserée collection), said to be by van Eyck, as two of the Magi, Philip of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. In these figures we see that they are something else beyond praying and that they have other business. It is as if they go to Mass only or Sundays or early in the morning, while in the rest of the week, or the day, they pursue their other concerns. Especially in Flemish or German pictures those who commissioned them appear as pious knights, or God-fearing housewives, with their sons and daughters. They are like Martha who goes about the house, careful and troubled about many things external and mundane, and not like Mary who chose the better part.Their piety does not lack heart and spiritual depth, but what constitutes their whole nature is not the song of love which should have been their whole life, as it is the nightingale’s, and not merely an elevation, a prayer or thanks for a mercy received.
The general distinction to be made in such pictures between saints and worshippers on the one hand, and, on the other, pious members of the Christian church in their actual daily life may be indicated by the fact that, especially in Italian pictures, the worshippers display in the expression of their piety a perfect correspondence between their inner self and their outward behaviour. The soulful mind appears also as the soulfulness especially of the cast of features which expresses nothing opposed to the feelings of the heart or different from them. Yet this correspondence does not always exist in real life. A child in tears, for example, especially when it is just beginning to cry, often leads us to laugh at its grimaces, quite apart from the fact that we know that its suffering is not worth tears. Similarly, older people screw up their faces when they want to laugh, because their features are too fixed, cold, and for them to be accommodated to a natural unrestrained laugh or friendly smile. This lack of correspondence between the feeling and the visible forms in which piety is expressed must be avoided by painting which, so far as possible, must produce a harmony between inner and outer; and this, after all, the Italian painters have done in the fullest measure, while the Flemish and German ones, because of their portraiture, have been less successful.
I will add, as a further comment, that this soulful worship must not be a call of anguish in distress, whether in soul or in outward circumstances, like that in the Psalms and many Lutheran hymns – e.g. [Psalm xlii] ‘as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God’ – but on the contrary a fusion with the Divine (even if not so sweet as it is in the case of nuns), a surrender of the soul, and a delight in this surrender, a sense of satisfaction and completion. For the beauty of the romantic ideal has nothing to do with the distress of faith, the anguished pining of the soul, the doubt and despair which gets no further than struggle and disunion, with hypochondriacal piety like this, which never knows whether it is not still sunk in sin, whether its repentance is genuine, whether its pardon is assured, or with such a surrender in which the individual cannot relinquish himself and shows this precisely by his anguish. Rather may worship direct the eye longingly to heaven, although it is more artistic and satisfying if the eye is directed to a present and this-world object of prayer, e.g. to Mary, Jesus, a saint, etc. It is easy, far too easy, to give a higher interest to a picture by making the chief figure raise his eyes to heaven, to something beyond this world; after all, nowadays this easy means has often been used to make God and religion the foundation of the state or to prove anything and everything by biblical quotations instead of from the rational heart of actuality. In Guido Reni, for instance, it has become a mannerism of his to give his figures this look and raising of the eyes. His Assumption of Mary, in the Munich gallery, for example, has won the highest fame from friends and connoisseurs of art, and certainly it has a supreme effect in the lofty glory of the transfiguration, the immersion and dissolving of the soul in heaven, and in the entire attitude beauty of the colour. Nevertheless I find it less satisfactory for Mary than when she is portrayed in her present love and bliss as she has her eye on her child. The longing and striving in her look towards heaven borders too nearly on modern sentimentalism.
(ii) The second point concerns the entry of the negative into this spiritual worship and love. The Disciples, saints, and martyrs have to traverse the road of grief (whether within or imposed on them from without) which Jesus walked before them in the events of the Passion.
This grief lies in a way at the boundaries of art which painting may readily be inclined to cross by taking as subjects the cruelty and horror of physical suffering – flaying, burning at the stake, the torment and agony of crucifixion. But, if painting is not to depart from the spiritual ideal, this it cannot be allowed to do, and not simply because there is no beanty in bringing martyrdoms of this sort clearly before our eyes or because we have weak nerves nowadays; but for a deeper reason, namely that the ideal has nothing to do with this physical aspect of suffering. The real topic to be felt and presented is the history of the spirit, the soul in its sufferings of love (not the immediate physical suffering of an individual in himself), grief at the sufferings of someone else, or grief of heart at personal unworthiness. The steadfastness of the martyrs in their physical horrors is a steadfastness which does endure purely physical suffering, but in the spiritual ideal the soul has to do with’ itself, its pain, the wounding of its love, with inner repentance, sorrow, regret, and remorse.
But even in this inner agony the positive element is not missing. The soul must be assured of the objective absolutely complete reconciliation of man with God and be anxious only about whether this eternal salvation is purely subjective within it. Thus we commonly see penitents, martyrs, monks who in their certainty of an objective reconciliation are still plunged in mourning for a heart which should have been surrendered, or who have actually accomplished this self-surrender and yet still want to know this reconciliation achieved ever anew and so have ever again and again imposed penances on themselves.
Here two different starting-points can be taken. If artists take as a basis an original and natural cheerfulness, freedom, serenity, and a decisiveness which can take life easily with its actual ties and quickly make its account with them, then there can still more readily be associated with it a natural nobility, grace, cheerfulness, freedom, and beauty of form. If on the other hand the presupposition is a stiff-necked, arrogant, crude, and narrow mentality, then for overcoming it a harsh power is required to extricate the spirit from sense and the world, and win the religion of salvation. Therefore in the case of this refractoriness harsher forms of force and firmness enter; the scars of the wounds which have to be inflicted on this obstinacy are more visible and permanent, and beauty of form disappears.
(iii) The positive aspect of reconciliation, transfiguration out of grief, bliss won as a result of repentance, may be made an independent topic for painting, a subject, it is true, which may easily lead the artist astray.
These are the chief differences in the absolute spiritual ideal as the essential subject-matter of romantic painting. This is the burden of its most successful, most celebrated works-works that are immortal because of the depth of their thought. And when their burden is truthfully portrayed, they are the supreme elevation of mind to its blessedness, the most soulful thing, the greatest spiritual depth that any artist can ever provide.
After this religious sphere we have now to mention two other different areas of romantic painting.
(β) The opposite of the religious sphere is, taken in itself, altogether lacking in spiritual depth or the Divine, i.e. it is nature, and, more precisely in the case of painting, landscape. The character of religious subjects we have so interpreted as expressing in them the substantive spiritual depth of the soul, love’s abiding in itself in God. But spiritual depth of feeling has still another content. In what is plainly external it can find an echo of the heart, and in the objective world as such can recognize traits akin to the spirit. In their direct appearance, hills, mountains, woods, glens, rivers, meadows, sunshine, the moon, the starry heavens, etc., are perceived as simply mountains, rivers, sunshine, etc., but first, these objects are of interest in themselves because it is the free life of nature which appears in them and produces a correspondence with the Spectator who is a living being too, and secondly, these particular natural and objective things produce moods in our heart which correspond to the moods of nature. We can identify our life with this life of nature that re-echoes in our soul and heart, and in this way possess in nature a spiritual depth of our own. Just as Arcadians spoke of a Pan who made them shuddering and terror-struck in the gloom of the woods, so the different features of the natural landscape in their calm serenity, their fragrant peace, their freshness in spring and deadness in winter, their morning wakening and their evening repose, etc., correspond to specific states of the soul. The peaceful depths of the sea, the possibility that these depths may burst forth with infinite power, have a relation to the soul, while, conversely, a storm, the roaring, swelling, foaming, and breaking of storm-tossed waves move the soul to a sympathetic voice; This depth of spiritual feeling painting also takes as a subject. But on this account these natural objects as such in their purely external form and juxtaposition should not be the real subject-matter of painting, because, if they were, painting would become mere imitation; on the contrary, the life of nature, which extends through everything, and the characteristic sympathy between objects thus animated and specific moods of the soul, is what “ painting has to emphasize and portray in a lively way in its landscapes. This profound sympathy is alone the spiritual and deeply emotional factor which can make nature not a mere environment: [or background] but a subject for painting on its own account.
(γ) A third and last kind of spiritual depth of feeling is what find partly in wholly insignificant objects torn from their environment, and partly in scenes of human life which appear to us as purely accidental or even base and vulgar. WhereI have tried already to justify the artistic appropriateness of such subjects. Here I will add to the previous discussion only the following remarks with reference to painting.
Painting is concerned not only with the subjective inner life as such but at the same time with the inner life as particularized within. Precisely because it is the particular which is the principle of this inner life, this life cannot stay with the absolute subject- matter of religion, nor can it take as its content from the external world the life of nature only and its specific character as landscape; on the contrary, it must proceed to anything and everything in which a man as an individual subject can take an interest or find satisfaction. Even in pictures drawn from the sphere of religion, the higher art rises the more-does it carry its subject-matter into mundane and present reality, and thereby give to it the perfection of worldly existence, with the result that the chief thing is the sensuous existent created by art, while the interest of worship decreases. For here, after all, art has the task of working out these ideal subjects into actuality, of making visible to sense what is withdrawn from sense, and bringing into the present, and humanizing, topics drawn from scenes that are far off and past.
At the stage we have now reached it is a deep sense of oneness with what is immediately present, with our everyday surroundings, with the commonest and tiniest details, that becomes the subject-matter of painting.
(αα) If we ask what the really artistically appropriate subject-matter is in what otherwise is the poverty and accidental character of such material, the answer is that the substance maintained and emphasized in these things is the life and joy of independent existence in general which persists amid the greatest variety of individual aims and interests. Man always lives in the immediate present; what he does at every moment is something particular, and the right thing is simply to fulfil every task, no matter how trivial, with heart and soul. In that event the man is at one with such an individual matter for which alone he seems to exist, because he has put his whole self and all his energy into it. This cohesion [between the man and his work] produces that harmony between the subject and the particular character of his activity in his nearest circumstances which is also a spiritual depth and which is the attractiveness of the independence of an explicitly total, rounded, and perfect existence. Consequently, the interest we may take in pictures of objects like those mentioned does not lie in the objects themselves but in this soul of life which in itself, apart altogether from the thing in which it proves to be living, speaks to every uncorrupt mind and free heart and is to it an object in which it participates and takes joy. We therefore must not allow our pleasure to be diminished by listening to the demand that we are to admire these works of art on the ground of their so-called ‘naturalness’ and their deceptive imitation of nature. This demand which such works seem to make obvious is itself only a deception which misses the real point. For it implies that our admiration results from an external comparison between a work of art and a work of nature and is based only on a correspondence between the painting and something that exists there already, while here the real subject-matter and the artistic thing in the treatment and execution is the correspondence of the portrayed object with itself, for this is reality explicitly ensouled. On the principle of deception, Denner’s portraits may be praised: they are indeed imitations of nature, but for the most part they do not hit that life as such which is the important thing here; on the contrary, they go on in detail to portray hairs and wrinkles, and in general what is not exactly something abstract and dead, though neither is it the life of the human face.
Further, if we allow our pleasure to be trivialized by accepting the supercilious intellectual reflection that we should regard such objects as vulgar and unworthy of our loftier consideration, we are taking the subject-matter of painting in a way quite different from that in which art really presents it to us. For in that case we are bringing with us only the relation we take up to such objects when we need them or take pleasure in them or regard them from the point of view of the rest of our culture and our other aims; i.e. we are treating them only according to their external purpose, with the result that it is our needs which become the chief thing, a living end in itself, while the life of the object is killed because the object appears as destined essentially to serve as a mere means or to remain wholly indifferent to us because we cannot use it. For· example, a ray of sunshine falling through the open door of a room we are entering, a neighbourhood we travel through, a sempstress, a maid we see busy at her work, all these may be something wholly indifferent to us because we are giving free rein to thoughts and interests far remote from them. Consequently, in our soliloquy or conversation with others, the existing situation confronting us is too weak, in comparison with our thoughts or talk, to be put into words, or it arrests an entirely fleeting attention which goes no further than the bare judgement: ‘How beautiful, or pleasing, or ugly’. Thus we enjoy even the jollity of a ceilidh because we are just lookers-on in a casual way, or we get out of the road and despise it because we ‘are enemies of everything uncivilized’. Our attitude is the same to the human faces that we meet in company every day or encounter by accident. Here our personality and” our varied preoccupations always have their part to play. We are impelled to say this or that to this or that man; we have business to transact, things to consider; we have this or that to think about him, we see him in this or that situation of his that we know, and we direct our conversation accordingly, for we say nothing about this or that in order not to wound him, we do not touch on a subject because he might take it ill of us if we did. In short, we always keep in view his life-story, his rank and class, our attitude to him and our business with him, so that either we preserve a practical relation to him or else we are indifferent to him and absentmindedly fail to attend to him.
But, in portraying such living realities, art entirely alters our attitude to them because it cuts away all the practical ramifications, which otherwise connect us with things in the world, and brings them to us in an entirely contemplative way; and it also cancels all our indifference to them and leads our notice, preoccupied otherwise, entirely to the situation portrayed, on which, if we are to enjoy it, we must pull ourselves together and concentrate. By its mode of portraying the ideal, sculpture in particular suppresses from the start a practical relation to its subject, because a sculpture shows at once that it does not belong to this practical and real sphere. Whereas painting conducts us at once, on the one hand, into the present and its more closely related world of every day, but, on the other hand, in that present-day world it cuts all the threads of attractiveness or distress, of sympathy or antipathy, which draw us to it or the reverse, and it brings these present objects nearer to us as ends in themselves in their own particular liveliness. What happens here is the opposite of what [A. W.] Schlegel, in the story of Pygmalion, describes so wholly prosaically as the return of the perfect work of art to common life, where what matters is subjective inclination and enjoyment in the real. This return is the opposite of that removal of objects from any relation to our needs which art affords and precisely in this way puts before our eyes their own independent life and appearance.
(ββ) Just as art in this sphere revindicates the lost independence of a subject-matter to which we otherwise do not allow full liberty in its own special character, so, secondly, it can immobilize those objects which in reality do not stay long enough for us to notice them explicitly. The greater the height that nature reaches in its organisms and their mobile appearance, the more it resembles an actor who works for a momentary effect. In this connection I have already earlier eulogized art for its ability to triumph over reality and give permanence to what is most fleeting. In painting this making the momentary permanent is evident in the momentary life that is concentrated in specific situations and also in the magic of their pure appearance in their varying momentary colour. For example, a troop of calvary can alter at every minute in its grouping and in the position of its every member. If we ourselves belonged to it we would have plenty of other things to do than to notice the living spectacle of these changes: we would have to mount, dismount, fill our knapsack, eat, drink, rest, unharness the horses, water them, fodder them, etc.; or if in our ordinary practical life we were spectators, we would look on with a totally different interest: we would want to know what the troop was doing, where its members came from, why they were drawn up, etc. The painter, on the other hand, espies the most ephemeral movements, the most fleeting facial expressions, the most momentary appearances of colour in this kaleidoscope, and brings them before our eyes in the interest of this vivacity of appearance which, but for him, would vanish. It is especially the play of colour’s appearance, not just colour as such, but its light and shadow, the way that objects, appear in the foreground or the background, that provides the reason why the picture seems life-like. This is something which art alone brings to our awareness, but it is an aspect of works of art to which we commonly give less attention than it deserves. Moreover, in these matters the artist borrows from nature its privilege of entering into the smallest detail, of being individualized concretely and definitely, because he confers on his subjects the like individuality of living appearance in its quickest flashes, and yet; he does not provide immediate and slavishly imitated details for mere perception but produces for imagination something quite specific in which at the same time the universal remains effective.
(γγ) The more trivial are the topics which painting takes as its subjects at this stage, in comparison with those of religion, the more does the chief interest and importance become the artist’s skill in production, his way of seeing, his manner of treatment and elaboration, his living absorption in the entire range of his chosen tasks, and the soul and vital love of his execution itself. But whatever his subject becomes under his hand, it must not be different from what it is or can be in fact. We think that we are looking at something quite different and new only because in the real world we have not attended in such detail to similar situations, and their colour. Of course, on the other hand, something new is indeed added to these commonplace subjects, namely the love, the mind and spirit, the soul, with which the artist seizes on them, makes them his own, and so breathes his own inspiration of production as a new life into what he creates.
These are the most essential points for notice in connection with the subject-matter of painting.
The aspect next to be discussed concerns the more detailed characteristics to which the sensuous material must prove to be amenable if it is to lend itself to the subject-matter indicated above.
(α) The first thing of importance in this connection is linear perspective. It comes in of necessity because painting has at its disposal only a surface; it can no longer spread out its figures alongside one another on one and the same plane, as the bas-relief of Greek sculpture could, but must proceed to a mode of presentation which has to make apparent to us the distance between objects in all three spatial dimensions. For painting has to develop its chosen subject-matter, to put it before our eyes in its manifold movement, and to bring figures into a varied connection with their external natural landscape, or with buildings, the rooms they are in, etc., to an extent quite beyond what sculpture can achieve in any way, even in reliefs. Instead of what painting in this connection cannot place before us in its actual distance, as sculpture can in a real way, it must substitute the pure appearance of the reality. In this matter its first recourse is to divide the one surface confronting it into different planes apparently lying distant from one another. In this way it acquires the opposition of a near foreground and a distant background, and they are connected together again by the middle distance. It sets down its subjects on these different planes. Now the further that objects lie from the eye, the more do they diminish proportionately, and this decrease in size follows in the very nature of optical laws determinable mathematically. Consequently painting has to accept and follow these rules which have a specific sort of application owing to the transfer of objects to a single surface. This is the necessity for the so-called linear or mathematical perspective in painting; but the detailed rules for it we do not have to discuss here.
(β) Secondly, however, the subjects painted are not only at a specific distance from one another, but they are also different in form. This particular spatial delimitation by which each object is made visible in its specific shape is a matter of draughtsmanship. It is the drawing alone which provides the distance of objects from one another and also their individual shape. Its principal law is exactitude in [delineating] form and distance. It is true that this is primarily related not to the expression of spirit but only to what appears externally, and therefore it constitutes only a purely external fundamental principle. Nevertheless, it is of great difficulty, especially in the case of organic forms and their manifold movements owing to the foreshortenings which these necessitate. Since these two aspects relate purely to the shape and its spatial totality, they constitute the plastic or sculptural element in painting. Since this art also expresses the inmost life in an external shape, it can neither give up this element, nor, from another point of view, fail to go beyond it. For its proper task is colouring, so that, in genuine painting, distance and shape win their proper presentation and their real appearance only in differences of colour.
(γ) Consequently, it is colour, colouring, which makes a painter a painter. It is true that we linger over draughtsmanship and especially over sketches as over something clearly indicative of genius; but no matter with what richness of invention and wealth of imagination the inner spirit may directly emerge in sketches from the, as it were, more transparent and thinner veil of form, still painting must paint if it intends to portray its subjects in their living individuality and particular detail and not to stop, in its visible aspect, at presenting only an abstraction. Nevertheless, this is not to imply that significant value is to be denied to the drawings, and especially the free-hand drawings, of great masters like Raphael and Albrecht Dürer. On the contrary, from one point of view it is precisely these free-hand drawings which have the greatest interest because we see in them the miracle that the whole spirit of the artist passes over immediately into the manual dexterity which with the greatest ease, without groping, sets before us in the production of a moment everything that the artist’s spirit contains. For example, Dürer’s marginal drawings in the Prayer Book in the Munich Library have an indescribable spirituality and freedom: conception and execution appear as one and the same, whereas in paintings we cannot get rid of the idea that perfection has been achieved in them only after several over-paintings and a continuous process of advance and improvement.
Despite this, it is only by the use of colour that painting gives to the life of the soul its really living external appearance. But not all schools of painting have reached the same height in the art of colouring. Indeed it is a peculiar phenomenon that hardly any painters, except the Venetian and especially the Flemish, have become perfect masters of colour: both these groups lived near the sea in a low-lying country intersected by fens, streams, and canals. In the case of the Dutch, their mastery may be explained by the fact that, owing to their always misty horizon, they had before them the persistent idea of a grey background and then, owing to this murkiness, they were all the more induced to study and emphasize colour in all its effects and varieties of lighting, reflection, brilliance, etc., and to find precisely in this the chief task of their art. Compared with the Venetians and the Dutch, the rest of Italian painting, with the exception of Correggio and a few others, seems dry, sapless, cold, and lifeless.
In connection with colour, the following more detailed points of the greatest importance may be emphasized.
(αα) First, the abstract foundation of all colour, namely the light and the dark. If effect is given to this opposition and its mediations independently of colour differences, what then comes into view are only the oppositions of white, as light, to black, as shadow, and their transitions and nuances; these integrate the drawing because they belong to the strictly plastic character of the shape, and produce the prominence, the lowering, the contours, and the distance of the objects portrayed. In this connection we may mention here, in passing, the art of etching which is solely concerned with the light and the dark as such. Apart from the endless industry and most careful workmanship demanded by this art, which is to be valued highly when it reaches its zenith, there are linked together in it, as in the art of printing too, both intelligence and the utility of multiplying copies. Yet, unlike drawing as such, it is not confined purely to light and shade but, especially in its recent development, 1t struggles to rival painting and, over and above the light and the dark effect produced by the lighting, to express also those differences of greater light and darkness which arise from local colour itself; as, for instance, in an etching the difference between light and dark hair can be made visible with the same lighting.
But although in painting, as I said, light and dark provide only what is fundamental, this foundation is of the highest importance.’ For this alone determines the foreground and background, the contours, in general the proper appearance of the shape as a visible shape, and, in short, what is called ‘modelling’. Those who are masters in colour have pursued this, in this respect, into the most extreme opposition between the clearest light and the darkest shadows, and only in this way do they produce their supreme effects. Yet they are allowed this opposition only in so far as it does not remain rigid, i.e. in so far as it does not remain devoid of a wealthy play of transitions and mediations which put everything into a flow and interconnection and proceed to the most delicate nuances. But if such oppositions are missing, the whole thing becomes flat, because it is only the difference of light and dark which can emphasize some specific parts and put others in the background. Especially in rich compositions with wide distances between the subjects to be represented is it necessary to go into the darkest detail in order to have a broad scale of light and shadow.
The closer determinacy of light and shadow depends principally on the sort of illumination chosen by the artist. All the most varied differences arise from daylight, morning, midday, and evening light, sunshine or moonshine, clear or cloudy skies, light in storms, candlelight, a protected light, one falling on one spot or spread equally through a room, in short all the most varied modes of illumination: In the case of a public and complicated affair, a situation clear in itself to which we are wide awake, artificial lighting is rather an accessory, and the artist does best to use ordinary daylight, so long as the demands of dramatic vivacity, the desired emphasis on specific figures and groups and the soft-pedalling of others, do not necessitate an unusual mode of lighting which is more favourable for such differences. For this reason the great painters in the older schools made little use of contrasts in lighting or, in general, of entirely specific situations demanding, as it were, unusual lighting. And they were right, because they made straight for the spirit as such rather than for the effect of a visible mode of appearance, and with their emphasis on the inwardness and importance of their subject they could dispense with this always more or less external aspect. Whereas in the case of landscapes and the insignificant objects in our daily life, the lighting has a quite different importance. Here the great artistic, but also often contrived, and magical effects have their place. For example, in landscape bold contrasts of great masses of light and strong parts in shadow make their best effect, and yet they may become only a mannerism. Conversely, in this range of subjects, there are reflections, pure appearance and the mirror of it, this marvellous echo of light which produces an especially living play of light and dark, demanding from the spectator, no less than from the artist, serious and constant study. Next, in this matter, the lighting which the painter has seized upon in the external world, or in his inner conception of a subject, can only be a quickly passing and altering appearance. But however sudden or unusual the lighting so grasped may be, the artist must still take care, even in the case of the most animated action, to make sure that the whole picture, despite its variety, shall not be restless, swithering, or confused but remain clear and co-ordinated.
(ββ) The implication of this, however, as I have said already above, is that painting must not express the light and the dark in their bare abstraction but through difference of colour itself. Light and shadow must be coloured. Therefore we must proceed, secondly, to discuss colour as such.
The first point here again primarily affects the lightness and darkness of colours in relation to one another, because they win their effect in their reciprocal relation to one another as light and dark and emphasize one another or repress and interfere with one another. For example, red, and, still more, yellow is in itself brighter than blue, given the same intensity. This is connected with the nature of the different colours themselves which in recent times Goethe alone has seen correctly. For example, in blue the predominant thing is darkness which appears as blue only by working through a clearer but not completely transparent medium. The sky, for example, is dark; on the highest mountains it always becomes blacker; through a transparent but murky medium, like the atmosphere at lower levels, it appears blue and all the more clearly so the less transparent the atmosphere is. In the case of yellow, conversely, pure clarity works through a murky medium which still enables clarity to shine through it. Smoke, for instance is such a murky medium: seen in front of something black which is effective through it, it appears bluish, while in front of something bright it appears yellowish and reddish. Pure red is the effective regal and concrete colour in which blue and yellow, contraries again themselves, are fused together. Green can also be regarded as such a unification, not however as a concrete unity but, as purely expunged difference, as saturated and calm neutrality.” These colours are the purest, simplest, and original fundamental colours. For this reason it is possible to look for a symbolical meaning in the manner in which the older masters used them, especially in the employment of blue and red. Blue corresponds to softness, sensuousness, stillness, to inward-looking depth of feeling, because it has as its principle the darkness which offers no resistance, while the light is rather what resists, produces, lives, and is cheerful. Red is masculine, dominant, regal; green indifferent and neutral. In accordance with this symbolism, when the Virgin Mary is portrayed enthroned as Queen of Heaven she usually has a red mantle, but when she appears as a mother, a blue one.
All the other colours in their endless variety must be regarded as mere modifications in which one or other of the shades of those fundamental colours is to be recognized. In this sense, no painter would call violet, for example, a colour. In their reciprocal relationship all these colours become lighter or darker in their effect on one another. This is a fact to which the painter must give essential consideration if he is not to fail to give the right tone necessary at. each point for the relief and distance of objects. Here a quite exceptional difficulty arises. For example, in the face the .lips are red, the eyebrows dark, black, or brown, or even if they are fair, still whatever their colour they are darker than the lips. Similarly, owing to their redness the cheeks are brighter than the nose where the main colour is yellowish, brownish, or greenish. In virtue of their local colour these parts of the face may be more brilliantly and intensively coloured than is consonant with their modelling. In sculpture, and indeed even in a drawing, such parts are kept light and dark purely and simply in accordance with the relation of their shape and the way they are lit. The painter, however, must adopt them in their local colouring and this disrupts that relation. The same thing is still more the case with objects at a greater distance from one another. When we look at things in an ordinary way, our intellectual judgement about the distance and form etc. of objects is not based merely on the colour of their appearance but on totally different grounds too. But in painting it is colour alone that is available and this may impair what demands light and darkness on its own account. Now at this point the skill of the painter consists in his wiping out such a contradiction and putting colours together in such a way that they do not interfere with one another either in their local tints in the modelling or in any other respect of their relationship. Only by attention to both points can the actual shape and colouring of objects come into appearance in perfection. For example, with what skill have the Dutch painted the lustre of satin gowns with all the manifold reflections and degrees of shadow in the folds, etc., and the sheen of silver, gold, copper, glass vessels, velvet, etc., and, by van Eyck, the lighting of precious stones, jewels, and goldbraid. The colours whereby the flash of gold, for instance, is produced have nothing metallic about them in themselves; looked at closely there is nothing in them but pure yellow which, considered by itself, has little brightness; the whole effect depends partly on an emphasis of the form and partly on the proximity into which every single nuance of colour is brought.
Secondly, a further aspect is the harmony of colours.
I have already observed that colours form an ensemble articulated by the very nature of colour itself. They must now appear in this completeness: no fundamental colour should be missing altogether, because otherwise our sense of this ensemble is to some extent lost. It is especially the older Italian and Flemish painters who give us complete satisfaction in relation to this system of colour: in their paintings we find blue, yellow, red, and green. This completeness constitutes the basis of harmony. Further, however, the colours must be so assembled that what we are given for our eye is both their pictorial opposition and also the mediation and dissolution of this opposition, so that peace and reconciliation are achieved. It is partly the manner of their assembly, partly the degree of the intensity of each colour which produces such power of contrast and the peace of reconciliation. Amongst the older painters it was especially the Flemish who used the fundamental colours in their purity and their simple lustre; the sharpness of their contrast makes harmony more difficult, but, when it i. achieved, the eye is satisfied. But in that case, along with th.ia decision and power of colour the character too of the objects and the power of expression must also be decisive and simple. This implies at the same time a higher harmony between the colouring and the subject-matter. For example, the chief people must have the most salient colour, and in their character and their bearing and expression they must appear grander than their entourage to whom only mixed colours are assigned. In landscape painting such contrasts of the pure fundamental colours occur to a lesser extent; on the other hand, those simpler colours have their place in scenes where persons are the chief thing, and especially where robes take up the largest parts of the whole canvas. Here the scene is drawn from the world of the spirit where the inorganic, the natural surroundings, must appear more abstractly, i.e. not in their natural completeness and isolated effect, and the various tints of landscape in their variegated wealth of shades are lest suitable.
In general, landscape as an environment for scenes of human life is not so completely suitable as a room or something architectural, since situations that take place in the open air are on the whole not as a rule those actions that reveal as the essential thing the fulness of the inner life. But if a man is placed out of doors, then nature must have its value only as an environment. In pictures like these, as has been said, the decisive colours principally have their right place. Yet their use requires boldness and power. Faces that are sweet, blurred, or doting are unsuited for decisive colours; a weak expression like that, or a mistiness of expression, like what has commonly been regarded as ideal since Mengs, would be entirely wiped out by such colours. In most recent times in Germany the faces that have principally become the fashion are insignificant and weak with affected airs, especially graceful or simple and pretending to be grandiose. Then this unimportance of inner spiritual character also carries with it unimportance in colour and the tone of colour, so that all the colours are kept in unclarity and enervated feebleness and they are damped down, with the result that nothing really emerges; it is true that one colour does not suppress another but at the same time no colour is emphasized. Yes, this is a harmony of colours and often of great sweetness and a flattering loveliness, but it is all insignificant and unimportant. In the same connection Goethe says in the notes to his translation of Diderot’s Essay on Painting:
It cannot be admitted that it is easier to harmonize a weak: colouring than a strong one; but it is true that if the colouring is strong, if colours vivid, then the eye senses harmony or disharmony much more Yet if the colours are weakened, if in a picture some are used pure, others mixed, others smudged, then it is true that no one knows whether he is looking at an harmonious or an inharmonious picture. All the same, he can say in any case: ‘That is ineffective and meaningless.’
But in the matter of colouring not everything is achieved by a harmony of colours, for, thirdly, other aspects must be added if perfection is to be attained. In this connection I will mention here only the so-called atmospheric perspective, carnation [i.e. flesh-tints], and, finally, the magic of colour’s pure appearance.
Linear perspective primarily concerns only the differences of size made by the lines of the objects in their greater or lesser distance from the eye. But this alteration and diminution of the form of the object is not the only thing that painting has to copy. For in reality everything undergoes a different sort of colouring owing to the atmosphere which pervades and differentiates objects and indeed their different parts. This tone of colour, diminishing with distance, is what constitutes atmospheric perspective, because in this way objects are modified in the manner of their outlines as well as in their dark or light appearance and their other colouring. People usually suppose that what lies nearest to the eye in the foreground is always the brightest while the background is darker, but In fact things are different. The foreground is at once the darkest and the lightest, i.e. the contrast of light and shadow is at its strongest in what is near at hand, and the outlines are at their maximum clarity of definition; but the further the objects are removed from the eye all the more do they become colourless, vague in their shape, because the opposition of light and shadow is more and more lost and the whole thing disappears into a clear grey. Yet the different kind of illumination produces in this matter the most varied sorts of deviation in colour. – Especially in land. scape painting, but also in all other pictures which portray wide spaces, atmospheric perspective is of supreme importance, and the greatest masters of colouring have achieved magical effects here too.
But, secondly, the most difficult thing in the matter of colour, the ideal or, as it were, the summit of colouring, is ‘carnation’, the colour tone of human flesh which unites all other colours marvellously in itself without giving independent emphasis to either one or another. The youthful and healthy red of the cheeks is pure carmine without any dash of blue, violet, or yellow; but this red is itself only a gloss, or rather a shimmer, which seems to press outwards from within and then shades off unnoticeably into the rest of the flesh-colour, although this latter is an ideal inter-association of all the fundamental colours. Through the transparent yellow of the skin there shines the red of the arteries and the blue of the veins, and into the light and the dark and other manifold brightnesses and reflections there come tones as well of grey, brownish and even greenish which at a first glance look extremely unnatural to us and yet they may be correct and have their true effect. Still this combination of appearances is wholly lustreless, i.e. the appearance of one colour does not shine in another; on the contrary, the whole appearance is animated and ensouled from within. This way that the inner shines through is what especially presents the greatest difficulty for portrayal in a picture. We might compare this to a lake in the light of the evening where we can see both the things mirrored in it and at the same time the clear depth and special character of the water. On the other hand the lustre of metal is shining and reflecting, and precious stones are transparent and flashing; but in these cases there is no shining of one colour through another as there is in flesh; the same is true of satin, lustrous silks, etc. The skin of animals, whether hair, feathers, wool, etc. has similarly the most varied sorts of colouring, but has one direct and independent colour in specific parts, so that the variety is rather a result of different surfaces and planes, small points and lines of different colouring, than of an interpenetration of different colours as occurs in human flesh. The nearest approach to the latter is the interplay of colour on a bunch of grapes and the marvellous, delicate, and transparent shades of colour in a rose. But even these do not reach the pure appearance of inner animation which flesh colour must have, and to produce this pure appearance and its lustreless emanation of the soul is amongst the most difficult things known to painting. For this inwardness and the subjective side of life should not appear on a surface as laid on, as material colour in strokes and points etc., but as itself a living whole – transparent, profound, like the blue of the sky which should not be in our eyes a resistant surface, but something in which we must be able to immerse ourselves. In this connection Diderot says in the Essay on Painting translated by Goethe: ‘The man who has got the feel of flesh has already gone far. Everything else is nothing in comparison. Thousands of painters have died without having had this feeling, and thousands more will die without having had it.'
As for the material to be used for producing this lustreless vitality of flesh, the short answer is that oils alone have proved perfectly suitable for this purpose. Treatment in mosaic is least of all fitted for producing this effect of fusion of colours; its permanence is a recommendation but it has to express shades of colour by juxtaposing differently coloured glass studs or small stones and therefore it can never produce the flowing fusion of the ideal shining of one colour through another. An improvement on this is painting frescoes or in tempera. But in fresco painting the colours laid on wet plaster were absorbed too quickly, so that, for one thing, the greatest facility and sureness of brushwork was necessary, and, for another thing, the work had to be executed in great strokes alongside one another, and these dried too quickly to permit of any finer shading. A similar thing is true of painting in tempera colours; they can be given inner clarity and beautiful illumination, yet owing to their drying quickly they likewise lend themselves less to harmony and shading and necessitate a treatment dashed off with strokes of the brush. On the other hand, oil colour not only permits the most delicate and soft fusion and shading of colours, with the result that the transitions are so unnoticeable that we cannot say where a colour begins and ends, but it also acquires, given correct mixing and the right way of applying the paint, a brilliance like that of precious stones, and by means of the difference between opaque pigments and glazes it can produce, in a far higher degree than painting in tempera can, a translucency of different layers of colour.
The third point, finally, which we must mention concerns sfumato, the magical effect of colouring. This magic of the pure appearance of colour has in the main only appeared when the substance and spirit of objects has evaporated and what now enters is spirit in the treatment and handling of colour. In general, it may be said that the magic consists in so handling all the colours that what is produced is an inherently objectless play of pure appearance which forms the extreme soaring pinnacle of colouring, a fusion of colours, a shining of reflections upon one another which become so fine, so fleeting, so expressive of the soul that they begin to pass over into the sphere of music. What is relevant here, in connection with modelling, is mastery of chiaroscuro where; amongst the Italians, Leonardo da Vinci and, above all, Correggio, were supreme. They proceeded to portray the deepest shadows, but light nevertheless breaks through these again and, by unnoticed transitions, they rise to the clearest light. In this way there is evident a supreme rounding; nowhere is there any harsh or sharp line, transition is everywhere; light and shadow are not effective as purely direct light and shadow, but they both shine into one another, just as an inner force works throughout an external thing. This is true similarly about the handling of colour in which the Dutch too were the greatest masters. Owing to this ideality, this fusion, this hither and thither of reflections and sheens of colour, this mutability and fluidity of transitions, there is spread over the whole, with the clarity, the brilliance, the depth, the smooth and luscious lighting of colours, a pure appearance of animation; and this is what constitutes the magic of colouring and is properly due to the spirit of the artist who is the magician.
(γγ) This leads to a final point and I will discuss it briefly.
We began with linear perspective and then proceeded to draughtsmanship, and finally colour, and there with (i) light and shade in connection with modelling, (ii) colour itself and in particular with the relative lightness and darkness of colours in their relation to one another, as well as with harmony, atmospheric perspective, carnation, and their magic. Now (iii) we consider the subjective activity of the artist in the production of colouring.
It is commonly supposed that in this matter the artist can proceed in accordance with entirely definite rules. But, first, this is true only in the case of linear perspective as a purely geometrical science, although even here the rule as an abstract rule should not shine through, or otherwise it would destroy what is really pictorial. Secondly, a drawing cannot be entirely reduced to the general laws of perspective, and least of all can colouring. The sense of colour must be a property of the artist, an individual way of looking at and conceiving tones of colour as they really exist; it must as well be an essential feature of reproductive imagination and invention. On account of this personal way in which the artist sees colour-tone in his world and which at the same time he continually produces in his work, the great difference in pictorial colouring is no mere caprice or a favourite way of adopting a colour that does not exist in rerum natura, but on the contrary it lies in the nature of the case. For example, Goethe in his Poetry and Truthrelates the following incident that is relevant here:
After a visit to the Dresden Gallery when ‘I went again to my shoemaker’s’ (where he had a whim to lodge)
to have my lunch, I could hardly believe my eyes, for I thought I was looking at one of Ostade’s pictures, so perfect that it should have been hung only in a gallery. The position of the objects, the light and shade, the brownish tint of the whole, everything that we admire in these pictures I saw here in real life. This was the first time that I became aware, in such a high degree, of the gift that I later exercised with clearer consciousness, namely that of seeing nature with the eyes of this or that artist to whose works I had actually given special attention. This faculty has given me much pleasure, but has also increased the desire to indulge vigorously from time to time a talent which nature seemed to have denied me.
On the one hand this difference of colouring is prominent above all in the portrayal of human flesh as such, apart altogether from all externally effective modifications of lighting, age, sex, situation, nationality, passion, etc. On the other hand, whether it is a matter of portraying a natural landscape or ordinary daily life out of doors or inside houses, inns, churches, etc., the wealth of objects and colours here leads every painter more or less to his own attempt to treat, reproduce, and invent from his own insight, experience, and imagination this manifold play of pure appearance.
Up to now we have spoken, in respect of the particular points to be made about painting, first of the subject-matter, and secondly of the material in which the subject-matter can be pictured. Thirdly, and finally, it still remains to us to establish the manner in which the artist, as a painter, is to conceive and execute his subject-matter in conformity with this specific sensuous material. The huge subject thus offered for our consideration may be divided as follows:
First, it is the more general modes of conception which we must distinguish and follow in their advance to an ever richer liveliness.
Secondly, we must concern ourselves with the more specific aspects which within these kinds of treatment affect the strictly pictorial composition, the artistic motifs of the selected situation and grouping.
Thirdly, we will cast a glance at the characterization which proceeds from differences in both the objects portrayed and the conception of them.
(α) The most general modes of pictorial treatment have their origin partly in the subject-matter itself which is to be portrayed; and partly in the course of the evolution of painting which does not at its start work out the whole wealth implicit in a subject but achieves perfect vitality only after various stages and transitions.
(αα) In this matter the first form that painting can adopt shows its descent from sculpture and architecture, because in the general character of its entire mode of conception it is still closely connected with these arts. This may principally be the case when the artist restricts himself to individual figures which he puts before us not in the living distinctness of a situation with all its variety but in their simple independent self-repose. Out of the different ranges of the subject-matter which I have described as appropriate to painting, what are especially suitable in this sphere are religious topics, Christ, individual Apostles, and saints. For such [independent] figures must be able to have sufficient meaning, by themselves in their individuality, to be a whole in themselves, and to be a substantive object of our conscious worship and love. This is the sort of thing that we find principally in the earlier painting, where Christ and the saints are portrayed as isolated, without any specific situation or natural environment. If an environment is added, it chiefly consists in architectural (especially Gothic) decor, as occurs, for instance, frequently in the older Flemish or north German painters. In this relation to architecture where many such figures, the twelve Apostles, etc., are set alongside one another between pillars and arches, painting does not yet proceed to the liveliness of later art, and even the figures themselves still retain the stiff statuesque character of sculpture or they do not yet get beyond a rigid type like that borne in, for example, Byzantine painting. For such individual figures without any environment, or with a purely architectural enclosure, a severer simplicity and cruder decision of colour is suitable after all. For this reason the oldest painters kept, instead of an elaborate natural environment, a uniform background of gold which the colours of the robes must make head against and parry, as it were; and therefore these colours are more decisive, more crude, than is the case in the times of painting’s most beautiful development – not to speak of the fact that barbarians in general take their pleasure in simple and vivid colours like red and blue, etc.
Miracle-working pictures belong in the main to this first sort of treatment. A man’s attitude to them as to something stupendous is stupid, indifferent to their character as art; and therefore they are not brought nearer to his mind in a friendly way by their possessing human vivification and beauty; and those that are given the greatest religious veneration are, from the point of view of art, the very worst of all.
But if such isolated figures cannot be an object of veneration and interest on the score of their having the independent and perfect wholeness of a complete personality, then their portrayal, carried out on the principle of a sculptural treatment, has no sense. For example, portraits, to those who know the sitter, are interesting subjects are forgotten or unknown, then their portrayal in an action or a situation with a definite character arouses a totally different interest from the one we could gain from such an entirely simple [statuesque] mode of conception. If great portraits confront us through all the means at the disposal of art, in their full vitality, we already have in this amplitude of their existence this advance and emergence from their frames. For example, in Van Dyck’s portraits, cspecially when the position of the sitter is not entirely en face but slightly turned away, the frame has looked to me like the door into the world that the sitter is entering. For this reason, if individuals, unlike saints, angels, etc., are not something perfect and complete in themselves and so can be interesting only on account of some specific situation, some single circumstance or action, it is inappropriate to portray them as figures independently of that situation. So, for example, there is the last work of Kügelgen, in Dresden, a picture with four heads, half-length figures of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and the Prodigal Son. When I saw it [in 1824] I found the treatment of Christ and John the Evangelist entirely appropriate. But in the Baptist and above all in the Prodigal Son I did not see at all that independent individuality which might have enabled me to recognize them in a half-length picture. To make them recognizable it is necessary to put these figures into movement and action, or at least to bring them into situations in which they could acquire, in living connection with their external surroundings, the characteristic individuality of a whole and inherently perfect personality. Kügelgen’s head of the Prodigal Son does express very finely his grief, deep penitence, and remorse, but the fact that what is meant to be portrayed is the penitence precisely of the Prodigal is only indicated by a very tiny herd of swine in the background. Instead of this symbolic hint, we should have seen him in the midst of the herd, or in some other scene of his life. For he has no existence or complete and general personality for us, if he is not to become purely allegorical, except in the familiar series of situations in which he is sketched in the story. He should have been brought before us in concrete and actual life as he is leaving his father’s house, or in his misery, repentance, and return. But those swine in the background are not much better than a label with his name on it.
(ββ) Painting in general has to take for its subject-matter the full details of subjective depth of feeling; and therefore less than sculpture can it keep to a situationless self-repose and the treatment of the mere substance of a character. On the contrary, it must surrender this independence and struggle to display its subject-matter in a specific situation, in the variety and difference of characters and shapes in relation to one another and their environment. The advance which enables painting at last to reach its own particular point of view consists in this abandonment of purely traditional and static types, and of the architectural placing and surrounding of figures and the sculptural way of treating them; in this liberation from repose and inactivity; in this search for a living and human expression and a characteristic individuality; and in investing its every subject with detail both in the person himself and in his variegated external surroundings. For this reason painting, more than the other visual arts, is not merely allowed, but a demand must even be made on it, to advance to dramatic liveliness, so that the grouping of its figures indicates their activity in a specific situation.
(γγ) Then, thirdly, this entry into the perfect life of the existence and dramatic movement of situations and characters carries with it the ever greater and greater importance placed, in the conception and execution of the work, on individuality and on the complete vitality of the coloured appearance of all objects, because, in painting, the highest degree of liveliness can be expressed only in colour. Yet this magic of pure appearance may ultimately be asserted so preponderantly that the subject of the painting becomes in comparison a matter of indifference. In this way, just precisely as sculpture in the further development of reliefs begins to approach painting, so painting in the pure sfumato and magic of its tones of colour and their contrast, and the fusion and play of their harmony, begins to swing over to music.
(β) The next point for consideration now concerns the specific rules which must be followed in the production of paintings owing to, the mode of composition required to portray a specific situation, and the more detailed motifs involved, by means of juxtaposing and grouping different figures or natural objects into a whole perfect in itself.
(αα) The chief requirement which we may place at the top is the happy choice of a situation suitable for painting.
Here above all the imagination of the painter has an unlimited field: from the simplest situation consisting of an insignificant object, a bunch of flowers, or a wine-glass with plates, bread, and some fruit round it, up to the richest compositions of great public events, important or state occasions, coronations, battles, and the Last Judgement where God the Father, Christ, the Apostles, the Heavenly Host, the whole of mankind, Heaven, earth, and Hell all meet.
On this matter it may be said, in particular, that what is strictly paintable is clearly distinct from what is sculptural on the one hand, and poetic on the other, for it is poetry alone which can give perfect expression to what is poetic.
The essential difference between a sculptural situation and a paintable one lies, as we have seen already, in the fact that sculpture’s principal vocation is to portray both what is independently self-reposing and also an absence of conflict in harmless situations where definiteness is not the decisive thing, and only in reliefs does it begin to advance to grouping, to an epic spread of heroic figures, and to the presentation of actions with more movement and with a collision as their basis; painting on the other hand only begins on its proper task when it departs from the relationless independence of its figures and from lack of definiteness in the situation, in order to be able to enter the living movement of human circumstances, passions, conflicts, and actions, in steady relation to their environment, and, even in the treatment of landscape, to keep to the same definiteness of a specific situation and its most living individuality. For this reason we demanded of painting at the very beginning that it should provide a portrayal of character, the soul, the inner life, not however in such a way that this inner life shall afford a recognition of itself directly in its external figure but only as it develops and expresses what it is through actions.
It is chiefly this latter point which brings painting into closer connection with poetry. In this matter both arts have an advantage and a disadvantage as well. Painting, unlike poetry and music, cannot portray the development of a situation, event, or action in a succession of changes but can only strive to seize on one moment. From this there follows the quite simple reflection that in this one moment the whole of the situation or action must be portrayed in its bloom, and that therefore painting must look for the instant in which what preceded and what followed is concentrated in one point. For example, in the case of a battle this would be the moment of victory: the fighting is still visible, but at the same time the outcome is already certain. The painter can therefore pick up a residue of the past which in its withdrawal and vanishing still asserts itself in the present, and at the same time he can hint at the future which must arise as a direct consequence of a specific situation. But I cannot go into further detail here.
Along with this disadvantage in comparison with the poet, the painter has over him the advantage of being able to paint a specific scene in its most perfect individuality because he brings it before our vision in the pure appearance of its actual reality. ‘Ut pictura poesis' is a favourite saying often nsisted on especially by theorists, and it is adopted literally and used by descriptive poetry in its sketches of seasons, times of the day, flowers, and landscapes. But the description of such objects and situations in words is on the one hand very dry and tedious, and even so, when it goes into detail, can never be complete; and on the other hand it remains confusing because it must provide in a succession of ideas what painting sets simultaneously before our eyes. The result is that we always forget what preceded and lose the thread, whereas what preceded should always be in essential connection with what follows, because both belong to the same space and have value only in this simultaneity and connection. On the other hand it is precisely in these simultaneous details that the painter can compensate for what escapes him in the matter of the continuing succession of past and future events.
Yet in another connection painting is left behind again by poetry and music, namely in respect of what is lyrical. Poetry can develop feelings and ideas not only as such but also in their change, progress, and intensification. In relation to the concentration of the inner life, this is still more the case with music which has to do with the inner movement of the soul. But, for this purpose, painting has nothing but posture and facial expression, and it misconceives the means at its disposal if it launches out exclusively into what is lyrical. For however far it expresses the inner passion and feeling revealed by the play of countenance and movements of the body, this expression must not be the direct expression of feeling as such but the expression of feeling manifested in a specific event or action. The fact that painting portrays the inner life in an external mode has not the abstract meaning of making the inner life visible through face and figure; on the contrary, the external medium in the form of which it expresses that life is precisely the individual situation of an action or the passion in a specific deed, whereby alone the feeling is explained and recognized. If therefore the poetic element in painting is supposed to lie in its expressing inner feeling in posture and facial expression directly without any precise motif and action, this only means thrusting painting back into an abstraction which is exactly what it must be rid of, and requiring it to master the special character of poetry; but if it ventures on an attempt at such mastery, ‘it merely falls into aridity or insipidity.
I emphasize this point here because in the Berlin Art Exhibition last year (1828) several pictures from the so-called Dusseldorf, school became very famous. These artists with great intelligence and technical skill have adopted this tendency to pure inwardness, i.e. to what can be presented by poetry alone and exclusively. Their subjects were for the most part poems by Goethe or were, drawn from Shakespeare, Ariosto, and Tasso, and were especially made up of the inner feeling of love. Each of the best pictures generally portrayed a pair of lovers, e.g. Romeo and Juliet, Rinoldo and Armida, without any more definite situation, so that the do nothing and express nothing except being in love with another and so, having an inclination for one another, regard other as true lovers and look one another in the eye as true lovers. Naturally in these cases the chief expression is concentrated the mouth and the eye, and Rinaldo in particular is so placed that he really does not know what to do with his long legs as they lie. They stretch so far as to become wholly meaningless Sculpture, as we have seen, dispenses with the glance of the eye and the soul, whereas painting seizes on this richly expressive, feature. But it must not concentrate on this one point or endeavour to make the chief aim of the expression, without any motive, the fire or the overflowing langour and longing of the eye or the sweet friendliness of the mouth.
Of a similar kind was Hubner’s Fisherman. This subject was taken from the familiar poem of Goethe which describes with such; wonderful depth and grace of feeling the vague longing for the peace, cooling, and purity of the water. The youthful fisherman who in the picture is attracted into the water naked has, like the masculine figures in the other pictures, very prosaic features, and if his face were in repose it would not occur to us that he could be capable of deep and fine feelings [like those of the youth in the poem]. In general we cannot say of all these male and female figures that they were endowed with healthy beauty. On the contrary they display nothing but the nervous excitement, languishing, and sickliness of love, and of feeling generally, which we do not want to see reproduced and which we would rather he always spared in life, and still more in art.
In the same category is the manner in which Schadow, the Master of this School, has portrayed Goethe’s Mignon. Her character is wholly poetic. What makes her interesting is her past, the harshness of her inner and outer fate, the conflict of an Italian strongly aroused passion in a heart which is not clear to itself about it, which lacks: any purpose and decision, and which, a mystery in itself, intentionally mysterious, cannot now help itself. This self-expression, introverted and incoherent, which lets us see only in isolated and disconnected outbursts what passes in her mind is the awfulness of the interest which we have to take in her. Such a wealth of complexity may well be posed to our imagination, but painting cannot do what Schadow intended, namely display it simply by Mignon’s figure and expression without any definiteness of situation and action.
On the whole, therefore, we may assert that these pictures that I have named are conceived without any imagination of situations, motives, or expression. For what is implicit in a painting which is to be a genuine work of art is that the whole subject portrayed shall be imaginatively grasped and brought before our vision in figures expressing themselves, displaying their inner life through a succession of feelings, through an action so indicative of them that each and every feature in the work of art appears to have been completely used by imagination for the expression of the chosen subject-matter.
The older Italian painters especially have certainly also, like these modern ones, portrayed love-scenes and to some extent have taken their material from poems, but they have understood how to shape it with imagination and healthy cheerfulness. Cupid and Psyche, Cupid with Venus, Pluto’s rape of Proserpine, the Rape of the Sabine Women, Hercules with the distaff in the halls of Omphale who has clad herself in his lion’s skin, all these are subjects portrayed by the older masters in living and specific situations, in scenes motivated and not merely, without any imagination, as a simple feeling not involved in any action. Love scenes are borrowed from the Old Testament too. For example, in Dresden there is a picture by Giorgione: Jacob, arriving from a distance, greets Rachel, presses her hand, and kisses her; in the background a few labourers are busy drawing water from a well for their large herd grazing in the valley.Another picture portrays Jacob and Rebecca: Rebecca gives a drink to Abraham’s servants whereby she is recognized.Scenes are also taken from Ariosto: e.g. Medoro is writing Angelica’s name at the edge of a spring: When so much has been said in recent times about the poetry in painting, this ought to mean only conceiving a subject with imagination, making feelings explicable by an action, and not proposing to adhere to a feeling in the abstract and expressing it like that. Even poetry, which can express a feeling in its inner depth, spreads itself in ideas, images, and descriptions. For example, if it is proposed to go no further in expressing love than saying ‘I love you’, and always just repeating ‘I love you’, this indeed might be agreeable to those gentlemen who have had much to say about the ‘poetry of poetry', but it would be the flattest prose. For art in general consists, as regards feeling, in the grasp and enjoyment of feeling by imagination which, in poetry, translates passion into images and gives us satisfaction by their expression whether in lyric, the events of epic, or the actions of drama. In painting, however, mouth, eye, and posture are insufficient for expressing the inner life; only a total and concrete object can have value as the external existence of the inner life.
In a painting, then, the chief thing is the portrayal of a situation, the scene of an action. In this connection the first law is intelligibility. Here religious subjects have the great advantage that everyone knows them. The Annunciation by the angel, the Adoration of the Shepherds or the Three Kings, the repose during the Flight into Egypt, the Crucifixion, the Entombment, the Resurrection, as well as the legends of the saints, were not strange to the public for which the canvases were painted, even if nowadays the stories of the martyrs are further from our ken. For example, what was usually portrayed for a church was the story of a patron-saint, either of the church or of the town. Therefore it was not by their choice that the painters themselves kept to such subjects, but the subjects were needed for altars, chapels, religious houses, etc., with the result that the very place of exhibition contributed to the intelligibility of the picture. This is in a way necessary because painting lacks the language, words, and names which poetry can call in aid, quite apart from its other means of designation. For example, in a royal castle, in a town-hall, in a House of Parliament, scenes of great events, important features in the history of this state, this town, this House, have their place and are known everywhere in the locality for which the pictures are destined. For a royal castle in this country, for instance, no one would readily select a subject drawn from English or Chinese history or from the life of King Mithridates. It is different in picture galleries where there is hung together everything that has been owned or could be bought up in the way of good works of art, and in that case it is true that the pictures lose their individual association with a specific place and the intelligibility afforded by that association. The same is the case in private houses: a private individual takes what he can get or collects as a gallery does, and besides he has his other preferences and whims.
Far below historical subjects in intelligibility are the so-called allegorical presentations which once had a considerable vogue and, apart from the fact that they must usually lack inner life and individuality of figure, they become vague, uninteresting, and cold. On the contrary, landscapes and situations drawn from daily human life are clear in what they arc meant to indicate, and in individuality, dramatic variety, movement, and richness of detail they also afford an extremely favourable scope for invention and execution.
(ββ) It may be the painter’s business to make a specific situation intelligible. To make it recognizable needs more than the mere place where the picture hangs and general acquaintance with its subject. For on the whole these arc only external circumstances with little effect on the picture as such. The chief point of real importance consists, on the contrary, in the painter’s having artistic sense and spirit enough to bring out and, with a wealth of invention, to give shape to the different motives involved in the specific situation. Every action in which the inner life is objectified has immediate external characteristics, visible consequences, and relations which, by being in fact effects of the inner life, betray and mirror feeling, and therefore they can be used in the happiest way for the purpose of making the subject of the picture intelligible and individual. For example, it is a familiar and often repeated reproach against Raphael’s Transfiguration that it falls apart into two actions entirely devoid of any connection with one another, and in fact this is true if the picture is considered externally: above on the hill we see the Transfiguration, below is the scene with the child possessed of an unclean spirit. But if we look at the spirit of the composition, a supreme connection is not to be missed. For, on the one hand, Christ’s visible Transfiguration is precisely his actual elevation above the earth, and his departure from the Disciples, and this must be made visible too as a separation and a departure; on the other hand, the sublimity of Christ is here especially transfigured in an actual simple case, namely in the fact that the Disciples could not heal the possessed child without the help of the Lord. Thus here the double action is motivated through out and the connection is displayed within and without in the fact that one Disciple expressly points to Christ who has departed from them, and thereby he hints at the true destiny of the Son of God to be at the same time on earth, so that the saying will be true: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
To cite another example, Goethe once prescribed as a subject for a prize competition the portrayal of Achilles in girl’s clothes being discovered by Odysseus.In one sketch Achilles looks at the helmet of the hero in arms, his heart glows at the sight and, following on his inner agitation, he breaks the pearl necklace he is wearing on his neck; a boy looks for the pearls and picks them up from the ground. These are motives of a happy kind.
Moreover, the artist has spaces more or less large to fill: he needs landscape as a background, lighting, architectural surroundings, incidental figures, furnishings, etc. This whole visible mass of material he must, so far as is feasible, use for presenting the motives implicit in the situation, and so he must be able to bring what is external into relation with these motives so that it no longer remains insignificant. For example, two princes or patriarchs shake hands: if this is to be a sign of peace or setting the seal on a treaty, then the appropriate environment for the pact is made up of soldiers, weapons, and the like, or preparations for a sacrifice to consecrate the oath. If on the other hand the same persons happen to meet on a journey and shake hands to say good-day or au revoir, then totally different motifs are necessary. To invent such things in such a way that significance emerges for the scene, and individualization for the entire presentation, is above all the thing to which in this respect the spiritual and artistic sense of the painter has to address itself. For this reason, after all, many artists have proceeded to introduce symbolical features into the surroundings and the action. For example, in a picture of the Adoration of the Three Kings we often see Christ lying in a crib under a dilapidated roof with old walls in decay and, round about, the ruins of an ancient building, while in the background is the beginning of a cathedral. This crumbling masonry and the rising cathedral have a bearing on the destruction of heathenism by the Christian Church. In a similar way, especially in the school of van Eyck, in pictures of the Annunciation, Mary often has at her side flowering lilies without anthers, and these thus hint at the virginity of the Mother of God.
(γγ) Now, thirdly, owing to the principle of the inner and outer variety within which painting has to bring out the specific character of situations, occurrences, conflicts, and actions, it has to proceed to manifold differences and oppositions in its subjects, whether these be natural objects or human figures; and at the same time there is imposed on it the task of articulating this variety of separate parts, and bringing them together into an harmonious whole. The result is that one of the most important demands on it is the necessity of placing and grouping its figures artistically. Granted the great mass of separate principles and rules that are applicable here, the most general thing that can be said about them can only be formal, and I will cite briefly only a few chief points.
The primary sort of arrangement remains still entirely archi- tectonic, i.e. an homogeneous juxtaposition of the figures or a regular opposition and symmetrical conjunction both of the figures themselves and also of their bearing and movements. Of this kind it is especially the pyramidal form of the group which is the chief favourite. In a Crucifixion, for instance, the pyramid is formed as it were automatically, because Christ hangs on the cross above and then the Disciples, Mary, or saints stand at the side. The same is the case in Madonna pictures where Mary with child sits on a raised throne and below her at both sides has Apostles, martyrs, etc. as her worshippers. In the Sistine Madonna too this sort of grouping is still retained as decisive. In general this shape is soothing for the eye, because by its apex the pyramid grips together what otherwise would be separated and dispersed and gives to the group an external unity.
Within such a general and rather abstract symmetrical arrange-ment, there can be, in particulars and details, great liveliness and individuality of placing, expression, and movement. By using together all the means that his art possesses, the painter has several planes enabling him to give greater emphasis to the chief than to the others, and moreover for the same purpose he has lighting and colour at his command. Thus it is obvious how, with this in view, he will place his group: the chief figures will not be put at the side nor will incidental things be given a place where they will attract the maximum of attention. Similarly he will cast the most brilliant light on the things constituting the main subject of the picture; he will not put them in the shade or use the most important colours to put subsidiary figures in the clearest light.
Given a less symmetrical and therefore more lively grouping, the painter must take special care not to press the figures against one another or, as we sometimes see in pictures, so confuse them that we first have to seek out the limbs and have trouble in distinguishing which legs belong to which head or how the different arms, hands, borders of clothes, weapons, etc., are to be allotted. On the contrary, in the case of larger canvases the best thing will be to keep the whole in separate and clearly surveyable parts, but not to isolate them from one another, or disperse them, altogether.
This is especially so in the case of scenes and situations which are already by their very nature a dispersed medley, as for instance the collection of manna in the wilderness, annual fairs, and others of the same kind.
On this occasion I will limit myself to these general suggestions on this subject.
(γ) After having dealt, first, with the general sorts of pictorial treatment, and, secondly, with composition in relation to the choice of situations, ferretting out motifs, and grouping, I must, in the third place, add something about the mode of characterization by which painting is distinguished from sculpture and its ideal plasticity.
(αα) As has been said on various occasions already, free scope is allowed in painting to the mental and physical particularity of personality which on this account does not need to be that beauty of the individual which is elevated into being an ideal beauty, but on the contrary may proceed to that specialization whereby there first emerges what in our modern sense is called characteristic. In this connection, what is characteristic has commonly been made the distinguishing mark of modern art as opposed to that of antiquity; and, in the meaning we propose to give to the word ‘characteristic’ here, this notion of course has its justification. Measured by modern standards, Zeus, Apollo, Diana, etc., are strictly not characters at all, although we must admire them as these eternal, lofty, plastic, and ideal individuals. In Homer’s Achilles, in Agamemnon and Clytemnestra in Aeschylus, in Odysseus, Antigone, Ismene, etc., in Sophocles (who makes them expose their inner life by their words and deeds), there does enter a more specific individualization on which these figures are founded as on something belonging to their own essence and in which they maintain themselves. Thus, it is true, we do find characters portrayed in antiquity, if we like to call those just mentioned ‘characters’. But In Agamemnon, Ajax, Odysseus, etc., the individuality always remains of a universal kind, the character of a prince, of an insane mood, of cunning, in only a rather abstract, specific way; the Individual element is combined and closely interlaced with the universal, and the character is raised to an ideal individuality. Painting, on the other hand, does not confine particularity of character to that ideal but develops precisely the whole variety of even accidental particulars, so that now we see confronting us not those plastic ideals of gods and men but particular persons in all the accidents of their particular character. Therefore the physical perfection of the figure and the complete adaptation of the mentality to its healthy and free existence – in a word, what we called the ideal beauty of sculpture – is something that we should not require in painting to the same extent, nor may we make it the chief thing, because what is central now is the deep feeling of the soul and its living subjective character. This more ideal or subjective region is not so deeply penetrated by the realm of nature: the piety of the heart, the religion of the mind, can dwell even in the external form of a body which, considered in itself, is ugly, just as a moral disposition and activity can dwell in the Silenus features of Socrates. Of course for the expression of spiritual beauty the artist will avoid what is absolutely ugly in external forms, or he can subdue and transfigure it through the power of the soul that breaks through it, but nevertheless he cannot entirely dispense with the ugly. For the subject-matter of painting, described at length above, has in it an aspect to which what strictly corresponds consists of the abnormal and of misshapen human, figures and faces. This aspect is the sphere of the bad and the evil, which comes into appearance in religious subjects especially in soldiers who play their part in the Passion story, or in the devils and sinners in Hell. Michelangelo especially could paint devils who, in their fantastic shape, exceed the proportions of human figures and yet at the same time still remain human.
But however far the individuals portrayed in painting must be in themselves a complete ensemble of particular characteristic this is not at all to say that there cannot appear in them something analogous to what constitutes the plastic ideal. In religious paintings the chief thing is the fundamental trait of pure especially in Mary whose whole being lies in this pure love, but also in the women who accompany Christ and, amongst the Disciples, John, the loving Disciple. But with the expression of this there can also be closely associated the sensuous beauty of the figures, as in Raphael’s pictures for example; only there may not be any attempt to assert this beauty as mere beauty of form; on the contrary, it must be spiritually animated and transfigured by the inmost soul of the expression, and this spiritual inmost depth of feeling must be made to evince itself as the real aim and subject of the painting. In pictures of the childhood of Christ and John the Baptist, beauty has free scope too. In the case of the other figures, Apostles, saints, Disciples, sages of antiquity, etc., that expression of intensified depth of feeling is as it were rather a matter of specific and more fleeting situations. This apart, these men appear as more independent, as characters present in the world, equipped with the power and constancy of courage, faith, and action, so that here the fundamental trait, despite all differences of character, is serious and dignified manliness. These are not ideal divinities but entirely human ideals, not simply men as they should be, but ideal men as they actually live and exist, men lacking neither particularity of character nor a connection between particularity and that universal which fills their individual lives. Figures of this kind have been transmitted to us by Michelangelo and Raphael, and by Leonardo da Vinci in his famous Last Supper, and they possess a dignity, grandeur, and nobility totally different from that in the figures of other painters. This is the point at which painting meets antiquity on the same ground, without abandoning the character of its own sphere.
(ββ) Now since among the visual arts painting is the one which most of all allows to the particular figure and its special character the right to emerge independently, the transition to portraiture proper lies especially near to its nature. It would therefore be very wrong to condemn portrait painting as incompatible with the lofty aim of art. Who would want to dispense with the huge number of excellent portraits by the great masters? Who is not curious, apart altogether from the artistic worth of such pictures, to have not merely an idea of famous individuals, their spirit and their deeds, but to have brought before him this idea completely portrayed in specific detail for contemplation? After all, the greatest, most highly placed man was or is an actual individual, and this individuality, spirituality in its most actual particularization and life, we want to bring before our vision. Yet apart from such aims which fall outside art, it may in a certain sense be maintained that the advances made by painting from its unsuccessful attempts onwards have consisted precisely in its working its way to the portrait. At first it was the sense of piety and worship which produced the inner life; higher art animated this sense by adding to it truth of expression and particular existence, and, with this deeper entry into external appearance, the inner life was deepened also, and it was with this that art had to do.
Yet, even so, if the portrait is to be a genuine work of art, it must, as has been mentioned already, have stamped on it the unity of the spiritual personality, and the spiritual character must be emphasized and made predominant. The principal contribution to this end is made by all parts of the face, and the painter’s keen sense of physiognomy enables him to bring the special character of the individual before our eyes by treating and emphasizing precisely those traits and parts in which this spiritual special character is expressed most clearly, pregnantly, and vividly. In this respect a portrait may be very faithful to nature and most industriously executed, and yet be spiritless, whereas a sketch thrown off by a master hand with a few strokes may have infinitely more life and be strikingly true. But in that case such a sketch must present in the really significant and expressive strokes the character’s simple but entire fundamental image which less spiritual execution and more fidelity to nature glosses over and makes invisible. In this matter the most advisable course will once again be to keep to the happy mean between such sketching and a faithful imitation of nature. One example of this kind is afforded by Titian’s masterly portraits. They meet us so individually and they give us a conception of spiritual vitality unlike what a face actually confronting us gives. This is like what happens with a description of great deeds and events provided by a truly artistic historian who sketches for us a picture that is far higher and truer than any we could gain by ourselves as eye-witnesses. Reality is overburdened with appearance as such, with accidental and incidental things, so that often we cannot see the wood for the trees and often the greatest matter slips past us like an ordinary daily occurrence. It is their indwelling sense and spirit which alone makes events into great actions, and these are given to us by a genuinely historical portrayal which does not accept what is purely external and reveals only that in which the inner spirit is vividly unfolded. In this way too the painter must set before us by means of his art the spiritual sense and character of his subject. If this is done with perfect success, then we can say that such a portrait hits the mark better as it were, is more like the individual than the actual himself.
Portraits like this have been painted by Albrecht Durer too. With few means at his disposal he has emphasized the features so simply, definitely, and splendidly that we think we have before us the entirety of a spiritual life. The longer one looks at such a picture, the more deeply one immerses oneself in it, all the more does one see emerging from it. It remains like a clear-cut, spiritually full sketch which contains the character perfectly, and it executes everything else in colours and forms only to make the picture more intelligible, clearer, more of an ensemble, but without entering, like nature, into the detail of life’s mere poverty. For example, in a landscape too, nature paints the most complete outline and colouring of every leaf, bough, blade of grass, etc., but a landscape painting may not propose to imitate nature in this comprehensiveness but should present details only in so far as they conform to the mood which the whole expresses; while, even if it must remain characteristic and individual in essentials, it may not make a portrait of the details, faithful in itself to nature in every little fibre and indentation, etc. In the human face nature’s drawing is the bone structure or the hard parts around which the softer ones are laid, developed into a variety of accidental detail; but however important those hard parts are for the character drawing of portraiture, it consists in fixed traits, i.e. the countenance transformed by the spirit. In this sense we may say of a portrait that it not only may but must flatter, because it renounces what belongs to the mere chance of nature and accepts only what makes a contribution to characterizing the individual himself in his most personal inmost being. Nowadays it is the fashion, with a view to making them friendly, to give to all faces a smiling air; this is very hazardous and difficult to keep within limits. Charming it may be, but the mere polite friendliness of social intercourse is not a fundamental trait of any character, and in the hands of many painters it all too easily lapses into mawkish insipidity.
(γγ) Yet however portrait-like its procedure may be in all its presentations, painting must still always make individual features, figures, postures, groupings, and kinds of colouring conform to the specific situation in which it places its figures and natural Objects with a view to expressing some subject-matter or other. For it is this subject-matter in this situation which portrayed.
I will touch briefly on only one principal point out of the infinitely varied detail which could come under consideration here. Either the situation is by its nature transient and the feeling expressed in it is momentary, so that one and the same individual could express many other similar feelings or even opposite ones, or alternatively, the situation and the feeling pervade the whole soul of the character who therefore manifests in these the fulness of his inmost nature. These latter situations are the true decisive moments for characterization. In the Madonna’s situations which I mentioned above there is nothing which does not belong to the Mother of God, to the whole range of her soul and character, no matter how distinctly she may also be envisaged as an individual complete in herself. Here she must also be so characterized that it is clear that she is nothing other than what she can express in this specific situation. So the greatest masters have painted the Madonna in such eternal situations and crises of maternity. Other masters have given to her character an expression of a different life in the world and another sort of existence. This latter expression cae be very beautiful and alive, but the same figure, the same traits, the like expression would nevertheless be suitable for other interests and circumstances of conjugal love etc., and therefore we are inclined to look at such a figure from a point of view different from that appropriate to a Madonna, whereas in supreme pictures we cannot find room for any thought except the one which the situation is meant to arouse. This is the reason why Correggio’s Mary Magdalene in Dresden seems to me to be so worthy of admiration and it will ever be admired. She is the repentant sinner, yet we see in her that sin is not the serious thing for her, but that from the start she was noble and cannot have been capable of bad passions and actions. So her profound but reserved withdrawal into herself is but a return to herself and this is no momentary situation but her whole nature. In the whole presentation, in the figure, facial traits, dress, pose, surroundings, etc., the artist has therefore left no trace of reflection on one of the circumstances which could hint back to sin and guilt; she is unconscious of those times, absorbed only in her present situation, and this faith, this sensitiveness, this absorption seems to be her entire and real character.
Such perfect accord between inner and outer, between specific character and its situation, has been reached above all by the Italians in the most beautiful way. In Kügelgen’s half-length picture of the Prodigal Son, mentioned above, on the other hand, the remorse of his repentance and his grief is indeed expressed vividly, but the artist has not achieved the unity of the whole character, which the Prodigal would have had outside this situation, with the situation itself in which he is portrayed to us. If we study his features quietly, they give us only the face of any man whom we might meet on the bridge at Dresden. In the case of a genuine correspondence between a character and the expression of a concrete situation, that sort of thing would never occur to us. After all, in genuine genre-painting the liveliness, even in the case of the most fleeting moments, is too great to leave any room for the idea that these figures would ever adopt a different position, other features, and a changed expression.
These are the chief points relative to the subject-matter and its artistic treatment in the sensuous material of painting, namely canvas and colour.
But, thirdly, we cannot stop, as we have done up to now, at a purely general indication and discussion of the subject-matter appropriate to painting and the mode of configuration arising from the principle of painting. For, since this art rests entirely on the individuality of characters and their situation, on the figure and its position, colouring, etc., we must have before us and discuss the actual reality of its particular productions. The study of painting is only perfect when you know the pictures themselves in which the points made above have their validity and when you can enjoy and judge them. This is the case with every art, but, amongst the arts so far considered, with painting most of all. For architecture and sculpture you can make do, at first, with copies, descriptions, and casts, because in these arts the range of the subject-matter is more restricted, the forms and means of representation are less plentiful and varied, and their particular specific characteristics are simpler and more decisive. Painting demands a sight of the individual works of art themselves; in its case especially mere descriptions are inadequate, however often you have to content yourself with them. Owing to the infinite variety of ways in which painting is deployed and aspects of which occur separately in particular works, these works appear at first sight as only a variously coloured medley which, neither organized nor classified for examination, makes even the special character of individual paintings scarcely visible. For example, unless we bring with us in the case of each picture a knowledge of the country, period, and school to which it belongs and of the master who painted it, most galleries seem to be a senseless confusion out of which we cannot find our way. Thus the greatest aid to study and intelligent enjoyment is an historical arrangement. Such a collection, historically ordered, unique and invaluable of its kind, we shall soon have an opportunity to admire in the picture gallery of the Royal Museum constructed here in Berlin. In this collection there will be clearly recognizable not only the external history of painting, i.e. the development of technique, but the essential progress of the inner history of painting, i.e. its different schools and subjects, as well as the conception of these and their mode of treatment. It is only such a living spectacle that can give us an idea of painting’s beginning in traditional and static types, of its becoming more living, of its search for expression and individual character, of its liberation from the inactive and reposeful existence of the figures, of the progress to dramatically moved action and grouping and the full magic of colouring, as well as of the difference of the schools, some of which treat the same subjects in their own peculiar way, while others are marked out from one another by the difference of the subject matter which they adopt.
The historical development of painting is of great importance not only for its ordinary study but also for its philosophical treatment and exposition. The subject-matter that I indicatcd, the development of the material, the principal different features of the treatment, all these things acquire their concrete existence in a factually consistent sequence and variety only in painting’s history, and I must cast a glance at this and emphasize its most prominent features. In general terms, the essence of painting’s progress is this: a start is made with religious subjects, still typically treated, arranged simply and architectonically with elementary colouring. Next there enter more and more into the religious situations the present, the individual, the living beauty of the figures, depth of inner feeling, alluring and magical colouring, until painting turns towards the world; it takes possession of nature, the everyday experiences of human life, or historically important national events, whether past or present, portraits and the like, all down to the tiniest and most insignificant detail, and it does this with the same love that had been lavished on the ideal content of religion. And in this sphere above all it attains not only the supreme perfection of painting but also the greatest liveliness of conception and the greatest individuality in the mode of execution. This progress can be followed in sharpest outline in the general course of Byzantine, Italian, Flemish, and German painting, and after characterizing these briefly we will, at the end, make the transition to music.
The Greeks had always kept exercising the art of painting to a certain extent, and the Greek examples were beneficial for this better technique of Byzantine painting as well as for the portrayal of postures, robes, etc. On the other hand, this art entirely forsook nature and life; in facial expressions it remained traditional, in figures and modes of expression typical and stiff, in the arrangement more or less architectonic: the natural environment and the background of landscape were missing, the modelling by light and shade, clear and dark, and their fusion, like perspective and the art of live grouping, attained no development at all or only a very trifling one. Given an adherence to one and the same type already settled earlier, independent artistic production had very little scope. The art of painting and mosaic often sank into a mere craft and therefore became more lifeless and spiritless, even if these craftsmen, like the workers who made Greek vases, had before them excellent models which they could follow in postures, folds of drapery, etc.
A similar type of painting covered the ravaged West also with its sombre art and spread to Italy above all. Here, however, even if in weak beginnings at first, there already appeared in early times the urge to go beyond completely finished forms and ways of expression and to advance towards a higher, even if originally crude, development, whereas in the Byzantine pictures, as von Rumohr (op. cit. i, p. 279) says of the Greek Madonnas and pictures of Christ, ‘we see even in the most favourable examples that they had their direct origin in mummies and that artistic development had been renounced in advance’. Confronted by a similar type of art, the Italians, in contrast to the Byzantines, strove for a more spiritual treatment of Christian subjects even before the times of their independent artistic development in painting. So, for example, the scholar just mentioned cites (i, p. 280) as a remarkable proof of this difference the manner in which the Byzantine Greeks and the Italians present the body of Christ on pictures of the Crucifixion. ‘The Greeks’, he says,
accustomed to the sight of gruesome physical punishments, pictured the Saviour on the Cross hanging down with the whole weight of his body, the lower part swollen, knees slackened and bent to the left, the bowed head struggling with the agony of a gruesome death. Thus what they had in view as their subject was physical suffering as such. On the other hand, in the older Italian memorials (where we must not overlook the fact that the Virgin with the Child, and the Crucified [Christ] too are portrayed extremely seldom) the Italians were accustomed to give a comforting appearance to the face of the Saviour on the Cross, and so, as it seems, followed the idea of the victory of the spirit and not, as the Byzantines did, the succumbing of the body. This undeniably nobler sort of treatment came early to light in the far more favourable climate of the West.
This suggestion may suffice for this subject here.
But in the freer development of Italian painting we have to look for a different character of this art. Apart from the religious subject-matter of the Old and the New Testament and the life-stories of martyrs and saints, Italian painting takes its other subjects for the most part from Greek mythology, seldom from events in national history, or, portraits excepted, from the present day and contemporary life, and equally seldom, and only in late and isolated pictures, from natural landscapes. But what above all it introduces for the treatment and artistic elaboration of the religious sphere is the living actuality of the spiritual and corporeal existence into which now all the figures are materialized and animated. The fundamental principle for this life is, on the side of the spirit, that natural serenity, on the side of the body, that beautiful correspondence with the visible form which in itself, as beautiful form, proclaims innocence, cheerfulness, virginity, natural grace of disposition, nobility, imagination, and a richly loving soul. Now if there is added to this natural endowment the elevation and adornment of the inner life by the deep feeling of religion, by that spiritual trait of a more profound piety which soulfully animates the originally more decided assurance and complete acceptance of existence in this sphere of salvation, then we have before us an original harmony between a figure and its expression which, when it reaches perfection, gives us a vivid reminder, in this sphere of romantic and Christian art, of the pure ideal of art.
It is true that even within such a new harmony the deep feeling of the heart must preponderate, but the inner feeling is a happier and purer heaven of the soul, the way to which, by reversion from the sensuous and the finite and by return to God, still remains easy and unburdensome, even if it lies through immersion in the deep grief of repentance and death; for the grief is concentrated in the region of the soul, ideas, and faith, without rising to the field of powerful desires, refractory barbarism, harsh self-seeking and sin, and without fighting these enemies of bliss in order to gain a hard-won victory. It is a transition remaining ideal, a grief that in its suffering is more ecstatic than harmful, a rather abstract, richly soulful suffering which proceeds in the inner life; it does not reveal physical agony, nor are the traits of stubbornness, crudity, and ruggedness, or those of trivial and vulgar people, visible in the character of the faces and bodily forms, for, if they were, a persistent battle would be needed before they could be susceptible of an expression of piety and religious feeling. This more peaceful deep feeling of the soul and more original adaptation of the forms to this inner life constitutes the attractive clarity and unclouded enjoyment which the truly beautiful works of Italian painting must give us. Just as we say of instrumental music that there is timbre and song in it, so here the pure song of the soul, a penetrating melody, sings over the whole figure and all its forms. And just as in Italian music and the notes of its song, when voices ring out in their purity without any associated screeching, it is the pleasure of the voice itself which resounds in every part and modulation of the sound and the melody, so such self-enjoyment of the loving soul is the keynote of Italian painting too.
It is the same depth of feeling, clarity, and freedom that we find again in the great Italian poets. The skilful echo of rhymes in terza-rima, canzone, sonnets, and stanzas, this sound which not only satisfies the need for uniformity in a single repetition but preserves uniformity in a triple one, is a free melodious sound which flows along for its own sake, for the sake of its own enjoyment. The like freedom is shown in the spiritual subject-matter. In Petrarch’s sonnets, sestets, canzone, it is not for the actual possession of its object that the longing of the heart struggles; there is no thought or feeling seriously concerned with the actual object or the thing at issue or expressing a need for possession; on the contrary, the expression itself is the satisfaction. It is the self-enjoyment of love which seeks its happiness in its mourning, its laments, descriptions, memories, and fancies; it is a longing satisfied as longing, and with the picture and the spirit of the loved one it is already in full possession of the soul with which it longs to be at one. Dante too, led by his master, Virgil, through Hell and Purgatory, sees the most frightful horrors, he is uneasy and is often in floods of tears, but he strides on, tranquil and consoled, without fear and anxiety, without the ill-humour and exasperation that says ‘things should not be thus’. Indeed even his damned souls in Hell still have the bliss of eternity – io eterno duro stands over the gate of Hell – they are what they are, without repentance or desire, they say nothing of their torments – these affect neither us not them, as it were, at all, for they endure for ever – they keep in mind only their disposition and deeds, firm and constant to themselves in their same interests, without lamentation and longing.
When you have grasped this trait of blissful independence and freedom of soul in love, you understand the character of Italy’s greatest painters. In this freedom they are masters of the details of expression and situation; on the wings of this inner freedom they have at their command figure, beauty, and colour; since they have their feet entirely on the ground and often give us, or seem to give us, portraits, the pictures they produce in the most exact portrayal of reality and character are pictures of another sun, another spring; they are roses blossoming at the same time in heaven. So in beauty itself their concern is not with beauty of form alone, not with that sensuous unity of the soul with its body which is effused over the sensuous corporeal forms, but instead with this trait of love and reconciliation in each figure, form, and individuality of character. It is the butterfly, the Psyche, which in the sunlight of its heaven hovers even over withered flowers. Only through this rich, free, perfect beauty were the Italians enabled to produce the ideals of antiquity amid those of the modern world.
Yet such a level of perfection Italian painting did not achieve all at once from the beginning; on the contrary, before it could reach it, it first travelled the whole length of a long road. But purely innocent piety, the magnificent artistic sense of the whole conception, naïve beauty of form, and deep feeling of soul are often most strikingly present in the old Italian masters, despite all imperfection in the development of technique. In the eighteenth century, however, the older masters were little valued but were rejected as being clumsy, dry, and paltry. Only in recent times have they been rescued from oblivion by scholars and artists; but now they have been admired and imitated with a preference that is excessive, that has induced people to deny a further development in the mode of treatment and portrayal, and that therefore was bound to lead to the opposite wrong road.
In connection with the details of the chief phases in the history of the development of Italian painting up to the stage of its perfection, I will briefly emphasize only the following points that are of importance in the characterization of the most essential aspects of painting and its manner of expression.
(α) After earlier crudity and barbarity the Italians departed with a new impetus from the mainly mechanical type propagated by the Byzantines. But the range of subjects portrayed was not great and the chief thing remained severe dignity, solemnity, and religious majesty. As is testified by von Rumohr (op. cit. ii, p. 4), an important connoisseur of these earlier epochs, Duccio of Siena and Cimabue of Florence already tried to adopt and as far as possible to rejuvenate in their own spirit the miserable relics of the classical draughtsmanship, founded on perspective and anatomy, which, mechanically imitated, had been accepted in old Christian works of art, especially by the later Byzantine painting. They ‘sensed the value of such designs but they strove to soften the crudity of their ossification because they compared these half-understood traits with life – or so we may conjecture or assume from seeing their productions’. These are only the first beginnings of the art, lying between what was typical and stiff and what had life and full individual expression.
(β) But the second step consisted in emancipation from those late Byzantine models, in entry to humanity and individuality in both the whole conception and execution, and in the developed and deeper adaptation of human characters and forms to the religious material which was to be expressed.
(αα) Here the first thing to mention is the great influence exercised by Giotto and his pupils. Giotto changed the former way of preparing colours, just as he altered the mode of treatment and the aim of the composition. The Byzantines, as chemical investigations have shown, probably used wax either as a means of binding colour or as a varnish, and from this there resulted ‘the yellowish-green, darkish tone which cannot always be explained as a result of lamp-light’ (op. cit. i, p. 312). This viscous binding- material of the Byzantine painters Giotto entirely rejected and on this account went over to the grinding of colours with the clarified sap of young plant-shoots, unripe figs, and other less oily sizes which, possibly, had been used by Italian painters in the earlier Middle Ages before they turned again to the stricter imitation of the Byzantines (ibid. ii, p. 312). These binding-materials had no darkening influence on the colours, but left them brilliant end clear. More important, however, is the change introduced by Giotto into Italian painting by the choice of subjects and the manner of their portrayal. Ghiberti, as long ago as that, praised Giotto for abandoning the crude manner of the Byzantine Greeks and for introducing nature and grace without exceeding the bounds of proportion (ibid. ii, p. 42). And Boccaccio too (Decameron, Sixth Day, fifth story) says of him that ‘nature produces nothing which Giotto cannot imitate to the point of deception’. In Byzantine painting we can scarcely descry a trace of a vision of nature; it was only Giotto who directed his attention outwards to the present and real world and compared the forms and sentiments, which he undertook to portray, with life itself as it moved around him. With this drift outwards there is connected the fact that at Giotto’s time not only did morals become freer and life more cheerful as a general rule, but nearer to his date lay the veneration of many new saints. These were especially selected as subjects of his art by Giotto in view of the direction of his attention to the actual present, with the result that now once again the subject-matter itself demanded the naturalness of the way the body appeared, and also the portrayal of specific characters, actions, passions, situations, postures, and movements. But what was relatively lost in Giotto’s attempts was that splendid holy seriousness which had been the basis of the previous stage of art. The world wins a place and development, as after all, Giotto, true to the sense of his age, gave a place to the burlesque as well as to the pathetic, so that von Rumohr justly says (ibid. ii, p. 73) ‘in these circumstances I cannot understand how some people who have given the whole strength of their attention to the subject, praise the aim and achievement of Giotto as the most sublime thing in modern art’. To have given us once again the right point of view for estimating Giotto is the great merit of this profound scholar who also drew attention to the fact that Giotto, while aiming at humanizing his figures and at naturalness, still always remained on the whole at a lower stage of painting’s development.
(ββ) Within this mode of conception awakened by Giotto Italian painting developed further. The typical portrayal of Christ, the Apostles, and the more important events reported in the Gospels, were put more and more into the background; but on the other side, the range of subjects is extended (ibid. ii, p. 213)
because all hands were busy painting the transition of modern saints into life: their previous worldliness, the sudden awakening of their consciousness of sanctity, their entry into the life of piety and asceticism, the miracles they wrought in life and especially after their death, all these enter into the portrayal where (as is implied by the external conditions of art) the expression of the feeling of the living prevails Over an indication of their invisible power of miracle-working.
Along with this, however, the events in the Passion story of Christ are not neglected. In particular, the birth and upbringing of Christ, and the Madonna and the Child, rise to being favourite subjects and were invested rather with more living family affection, with tenderness and intimacy, with something human and rich in feeling, while too in themes taken from the Passion story, what is emphasized is no longer the sublimity and the triumph but rather the emotion – the immediate consequence of that enthusiastic outpouring of sympathy with the earthly sufferings of the Redeemer, an outpouring to which by example and teaching St. Francis gave a new and hitherto unexampled impulse.
In connection with a further progress towards the middle of the fifteenth century there are especially two names to mention, Masaccio and Fra Angelico.In them the essentially important thing in connection with the progressive incorporation of the religious material into the living forms of the human figure and the soulful expression of human traits was, on the one hand, as von Rumohr puts it (op. cit. ii, p. 243), an increased rotundity of all forms; on the other hand ‘a deeper penetration into the distribution, co-ordination, and varied degrees of attraction and significance in human facial expressions’. The first solution of this artistic problem, the difficulty of which might at that time have been beyond the powers of a single artist, was shared by Masaccio and Fra Angelico. ‘Masaccio took over the exploration of chiaroscuro, the roundness and separation of figures set together; Fra Angelico, on the other hand, the investigation of inner co-ordination, the indwelling meaning of human facial expressions, the rich sources of which he was the first to open up for paintings’ – Masaccio not, as you might think, in an effort after grace, but with grand treatment, manliness, and in the need for a more decisive unity; Angelico with the fervour of a religious love remote from the world, with a conventual purity of disposition, elevation and sanctity of soul, so that Vasari tells of him that he never painted anything without first praying from the depths of his heart and never painted his Redeemer’s Passion without bursting into tears (ibid. ii, p. 252).
The result is that what was of importance on the one side in this advance of painting was intensified liveliness and naturalness, but on the other side, although the depth of the pious heart and the simple deep feeling of the soul in faith were not absent, what still preponderated was the freedom, skill, natural truth, and beauty of the composition, posture, colour, and clothing. If the later development could attain a still far loftier and more complete expression of spiritual inwardness, nevertheless the epoch with which we are dealing at present has not been surpassed in its purity and innocence of religious disposition and serious depth of conception. Many pictures of this time do have about them something repellent for us in their colouring, grouping, and drawing, because the vivid forms required for the portrayal of inner religious feeling do not yet appear perfectly elaborated for expressing this. However, if we consider the spiritual artistic sense which produced these works of art, we should not miss their naive purity, their familiarity with the inmost depths of truly religious convictions, the certainty of a believing love even in affliction and pain, and often too the gracefulness of innocence and bliss. We have all the less reason to miss these things when we reflect that even if later epochs made advances in other aspects of artistic perfection, they never again attained these original merits after they had been lost.
(γγ) In painting’s further progress a third point in addition to those mentioned concerns the greater spread of subjects which a new artistic sense adopted for portrayal. Just as, in Italian painting, sanctity approached reality from the very beginning by reason of the fact that men nearly contemporaneous with the painters themselves were canonized, so art now drew into its own sphere other parts of the real and contemporary world. From that stage of pure deep feeling and piety which aimed only at the expression of this religious animation itself, painting proceeded more and more to associate life in the external world with religious subjects. !he cheerful and powerful self-reliance of the citizens with their Industriousness, their trade and commerce, their freedom, their manly courage and patriotism, their well-being in enjoying life in the present, this reawakening gusto of man in his virtue and witty cheerfulness, this reconciliation with reality both in his inner spirit and Its external form – all this is what entered artistic treatment and portrayal and asserted itself there. In this artistic sense we see coming to life a love for landscape backgrounds, for views of cities, for the surroundings of churches and palaces; contemporary portraits of famous scholars, friends, statesmen, artists, and other persons who in their day had won favour on the strength of their wit or their cheerfulness, gain a place in religious situations; traits of domestic or civil life arc used with more or less freedom and skill; and even if the spiritual character of the religious material remained fundamental, still the expression of piety was no longer isolated on its own account but was linked with the fuller life of reality and the spheres of mundane life (cf. op. cit. ii,. p. 282). Of course, owing to this trend, the expression of religious concentration and its inner piety is weakened, but in order to reach its peak painting needed this mundane element too.
(γ) Out of this fusion of living and fuller reality with the religious feeling of the heart there sprang a new spiritual problem and its perfect solution was reserved for the great artists of the sixteenth century. For it was now a matter of harmonizing soulful depths of feeling, the seriousness and profundity of religion, with that sense for the liveliness of the physical and spiritual present of characters and forms, so that the physical figure in its posture movement, and colouring should not remain merely an external scaffolding but become itself full of soul and life and, thanks to the perfect expression of all the parts, appear at the same time beautiful alike physically and spiritually.
Amongst the most excellent masters who had this goal in view special mention is to be made of Leonardo da Vinci. He it was who, with almost subtle profundity and delicacy of intellect and feeling, not only accepted more deeply than any of his predecessors the forms of the human body and the soul of their expression, but, with equal mastery of the technique of painting, also acquired great assurance in applying the means which his study had put into his hands. In this way he could at the same time preserve a fully reverential seriousness for the conception of his religious themes, so that, however much his figures tend to acquire the pure appearance of a fuller and rounded actual existence and in their mien and graceful movement display the expression of sweet and smiling joy, they still do not lack the sublimity which reverence for the dignity and truth of religion demands (cf. ibid. ii, p. 308).
But in this sphere the purest perfection is achieved by Raphael alone. Von Rumohr ascribes especially to the Umbrian school of painters from the middle of the fifteenth century a secret charm to which every heart is open, and he tries to explain this attraction by the depth and delicacy of feeling as well as by the wonderful union into which those painters could bring dim recollections of the oldest Christian artistic strivings and the softer ideas of the modern and contemporary world; and in this respect he thinks that they outclassed their Tuscan, Lombard, and Venetian contemporaries (ibid. ii, p. 310). This expression of ‘spotless purity of soul and total surrender to bitter-sweet and ecstatic tender feelings’ Perugino, Raphael’s master, could make his own and therefore could fuse together the objectivity and the life of external figures, compliance with the real and the individual, as this had been developed principally by the Florentines.From Perugino, to whose taste and style Raphael seems to have been still addicted in his early works, Raphael proceeded to the most complete fulfillment of the demand mentioned above. In him, that is to say, there were united (a) the supreme spiritual feeling for religious subjects, as well as the full knowledge of and affectionate attention to natural phenomena in the whole liveliness of their colour and form, and (b) the like sense for the beauty of antiquity. Yet this great admiration for the ideal beauty of antiquity did not lead him at all to the imitation, adoption, and use of the forms which Greek sculpture had so perfectly developed; on the contrary, he only took up in a general way the principle of their free beauty which in his case was penetrated through and through by pictorial and individual liveliness and by deeper soul of expression as well as by what was hitherto unknown to the Italians, an open and cheerful clarity and thoroughness of portrayal. In the development of these elements and equally in their harmonious combination he reached the summit of perfection in his art.
Still greater were Correggio in the magical wizardry of chiaroscuro, in the soulful delicacy and gracefulness of heart, forms, movement, and grouping, and Titian in the wealth of natural life, and the illuminating shading, glow, warmth, and power of colouring. There is nothing more attractive than the naïveté, in Correggio, of a grace not natural but religious and spiritual, nothing sweeter than his smiling unselfconscious beauty and innocence.
The perfection of painting in these great masters is a peak of art which can be ascended only once by one people in the course of history’s development.
As for German painting we may affiliate what is strictly German to that of the Low Countries.
The general difference from the Italians consists here in the fact that the German and the Flemish painters neither could nor wished to attain from their own resources those free ideal forms and modes of expression that corresponded with a transition to spiritual and transfigured beauty. For this reason they develop, on the one hand, an expression for depth of feeling and subjective self-sufficiency of mind; on the other hand, they add to this deep feeling of faith a more extended specification of the individual character which now does not manifest an exclusive inner pre-occupation with the interests of faith and the salvation of the soul, but also shows how the individuals portrayed are troubled by mundane affairs, enwrapped in the cares of life, and through this hard effort have acquired mundane virtues, fidelity, steadfastness, integrity, chivalrous tenacity, and civil efficiency. Along with this artistic sense, immersed more or less in limited affairs, we find at the same time, in contrast with the always purer forms and characters of the Italians, the expression rather of a formal obstinacy of refractory characters who either set themselves against God with the energy of defiance and brutal self-will or else are compelled to do violence to themselves in order to be able to extricate themselves, by painful labour, from their limitations and crudity and to battle their way to religious reconciliation; the result is that the deep wounds which they had to inflict on their inner life still appear in the expression of their piety.
In detail I will only draw attention to a few of the main points of importance concerning the older Flemish school in distinction from the North-German and later Dutch painters of the seventeenth century.
(α) Amongst the older Flemish painters the brothers Hubert and Jan van Eyck were especially prominent at the beginning of the fifteenth century; their mastery we have only now in recent times learnt to value again. As is well known, they are named as the inventors of oil-painting, or at least as really the first men to bring it to perfection. Their step forward was so great that we might suppose that it must be possible to demonstrate a series of stages from earlier beginnings along the route to perfection. But of such a gradual progress history has preserved no artistic memorials. Beginning and perfection confront us, so far as our knowledge goes, simultaneously. For hardly anything can be more excellent than what these brothers painted. Moreover, their surviving works, in which the typical is already discarded and overcome, not only give proof of great mastery in drawing, in placing and grouping subjects, in mental and physical characterization, in the warmth, clarity, harmony, and delicacy of colouring, in the grandeur and finish of composition, but in addition in them the whole wealth of painting in relation to natural environment, architectural accessories, backgrounds, horizon, magnificence and variety of cloth etc., robes, sort of weapons and decoration etc., is treated already with such fidelity, with so much feeling for the pictorial, and with such virtuosity, that even later centuries have nothing to show which is more perfect, at least in respect of profundity and truth. Nevertheless, when we compare these Flemish pictures with the masterpieces of Italian painting, we are more attracted by the latter, because the Italians with all their depth of religious feeling give prominence to spiritual freedom and imaginative beauty. The Flemish figures do delight us by their innocence, naïveté, and piety; indeed in depth of heart they surpass the best Italian ones to some extent. But the Flemish masters could not rise to the same beauty of form and freedom of soul; and their pictures of the Christ-child especially are ill-formed; and however far their other characters, men and women, display within their religious expression a soundness, sanctified by depth of faith, in mundane interests as well, they would seem beyond this piety, or rather below it, to be insignificant and as it were incapable of being free in themselves, imaginative, and particularly bright.
(β) A second aspect which deserves notice is the transition from a more peaceful and reverential piety to the portrayal of torments and the ugliness of the world generally. This is the sphere in which especially the masters of North Germany excel when, in scenes from the Passion story, it is the crudity of the soldiers, the malignity of the mockery, the barbarity of their hatred of Christ in his suffering and death, that they reveal with great energy in characterizing the greatest uglinesses and deformities which are external forms corresponding to an inner corruption of heart. The quiet and beautiful effect of peaceful and deeply felt piety is disdained and, in the case of the movement prescribed by the situations just mentioned, portrayal goes on to horrible grimaces and gestures expressive of ferocious and unbridled passions. Owing to the crowd of figures pressing on one another in confusion and the preponderating barbarity of the characters, there is easily visible in these pictures a lack of inner harmony whether in composition or colour, so that, especially when a taste for the older German painting was reborn, its far from perfect technique gave rise to many blunders in assessing the date of these works. They were regarded as older than the more perfect paintings of the period of van Eyck, whereas most of them belong to a later time. Yet the North German masters did not stick exclusively to such portrayals of the Passion at all; they have also treated various religious subjects, and, like Albrecht Dürer for example, have been able, even in situations from the Passion story, to tear themselves free in triumph from the extreme of plain barbarity, because they preserved for such subjects too an inner nobility and an external finish and freedom.
(γ) The final achievement of German and Flemish art is its utterly living absorption in the world and its daily life, and consequently the differentiation of painting into the most varied kinds of portrayal which are distinguished from one another, and one-sidedly developed, in respect of both subject-matter and treatment. Even in Italian painting there is noticeable a progress from the simple splendour of worship to an ever increasingly evident worldliness, but here, as, for example, in Raphael, this remains in part penetrated by religious feeling and in part limited and concentrated by the principle of the beauty of antiquity; while the later history is less a dispersal into the portrayal of subjects of every kind under the guidance of colouring than a rather superficial confusion or eclectic imitation of forms and styles. On the other hand, German and Flemish painting ran through, in the clearest and most striking way, the whole range of subject-matter and modes of treating it: from the purely traditional ecclesiastical pictures, individual figures, and half-lengths, to sensitive, pious, and reverential portrayals, and then from these up to the animation and extension of these in huge compositions and scenes in which, however, the free characterization of the figures, the intensified life in processions, servants, persons accidentally in the entourage, decoration of robes and vessels, as well as the wealth of portraits, architectural works, natural environment, vistas of churches, streets, cities, rivers, forests, mountain formations, etc., in short the entirety of life and reality is still collected together and carried by the religious foundation. It is this central foundation which is absent now, so that the range of subjects, hitherto kept in unity, is dispersed, and particular things in their specific individuality and the accidents of their alteration and change are subject to the most varied sorts of treatment and pictorial execution.
To frame a complete judgement on this last phase in our consideration of painting’s history, we must, as we have done before, visualize again the national situation in which it had its origin. What was responsible here was movement away from the Catholic Church, and its outlook and sort of piety, to joy in the world as such, to natural objects and their detailed appearance, to domestic life in its decency, cheerfulness, and quiet seclusion, as well as to national celebrations, festivals, and processions, to country dances and the jollities and boisterousness of wakes-weeks; and we have to defend this as follows: the Reformation was completely accepted in Holland; the Dutch had become Protestants and had overcome the Spanish despotism of church and crown. And what we find here in political matters is neither a superior nobility expelling its prince and tyrant or imposing laws on him, nor a people of farmers, oppressed peasants, who broke free, like the Swiss; on the contrary by far the greater part, except the courageous warriors on land and the bold heroes on the sea, consisted of townspeople, burghers active in trade and well-off, who, comfortable in their business, had no high pretensions, but when it was a question of fighting for the freedom of their well-earned rights, of the special privileges of their provinces, cities, and corporations, ‘they revolted with bold trust in God and in their courage and intelligence, without any fear of exposing themselves to all sorts of danger in face of the tremendous repute of the Spanish domination of half the world; courageously they shed their blood and by this righteous boldness and endurance triumphantly won for themselves both civil and religious independence. If we can call any particular trend of mind ‘deutsch’ [i.e. Dutch or German], it is this loyal, comfortable, homely bourgeois type: this remains in house and surroundings simple, attractive, and neat, in a self-respect without pride, in a piety without the mere enthusiasm of a devotee, but instead concretely pious in mundane affairs and unassuming and content in its wealth; and it can preserve unimpaired an ancestral soundness in thorough carefulness and contentedness in all its circumstances along with independence and advancing freedom, while still being true to its traditional morality.
This sensitive and artistically endowed people wishes now in painting too to delight in this existence which is as powerful as just, satisfying, and comfortable; in its pictures it wishes to enjoy once again in every possible situation the neatness of its cities, houses, and furnishings, as well as its domestic peace, its wealth, the respectable dress of wives and children, the brilliance of its civil and political festivals, the boldness of its seamen, the fame of its commerce and the ships that ride the oceans of the world. And it is just this sense for an honest and cheerful existence that the Dutch painters bring with them to objects in nature too; and now in all their paintings they link supreme freedom of artistic composition, fine feeling for incidentals, and perfect carefulness in execution, with freedom and fidelity of treatment, love for what is evidently momentary and trifling, the freshness of open vision, and the undivided concentration of the whole soul on the tiniest and most limited things. This painting has developed unsurpassably, on the one hand, a through and through living characterization in the greatest truth of which art is capable; and, on the other hand, the magic and enchantment of light, illumination, and colouring in general, in pictures of battle and military life, in scenes in the tavern, in weddings and other merry-making of peasants, in portraying domestic affairs, in portraits and objects in nature such as landscapes, animals, flowers, etc. And when it proceeds from the insignificant and accidental to peasant life, even to crudity and vulgarity, these scenes appear so completely penetrated by a naive cheerfulness and jollity that the real subject-matter is not vulgarity, which is just vulgar and vicious, but this cheerfulness and naïveté. For this reason we have before us no vulgar feelings and passions but peasant life and the down-to-earth life of the lower classes which is cheerful, roguish, and comic. In this very heedless boisterousness there lies the ideal feature: it is the Sunday of life which equalizes everything and removes all evil; people who are so whole-heartedly cheerful cannot be altogether evil and base. In this matter it is not all one whether evil enters a character momentarily or is its basic trait. In the Dutch painters the comical aspect of the situation cancels what is bad in it, and it is at once clear to us that the characters can still be something different from what they are as they confront us in this moment. Such cheerfulness and comicality is intrinsic to the inestimable worth of these pictures. When on the other hand in modern pictures a painter tries to be piquant in the same way, what he usually presents to us is something inherently vulgar, bad, and evil without any reconciling comicality. For example, a bad wife scolds her drunken husband in the tavern and really snarls at him; but then there is nothing to see, as I have said once before, except that he is a dissolute chap and his wife a drivelling old woman.
If we look at the Dutch masters with these eyes, we will no longer suppose that they should have avoided such subjects and portrayed only Greek gods, myths, and fables, or the Madonna, the Crucifixion, martyrs, Popes, saints male or female. What is an ingredient in any work of art is one in painting too: the vision of what man is as man, what the human spirit and character is, what man and this man is. The poetical fundamental trait permeating most of the Dutch painters at this period consists of this treatment of man’s inner nature and its external and living forms and its modes of appearance, this naïve delight and artistic freedom, this freshness and cheerfulness of imagination, and this assured boldness of execution. In their paintings we can study and get to know men and human nature. Today however, we have all too often to put up with portraits and historical paintings which, despite all likeness to men and actual individuals, show us at the very first glance that the artist knows neither what man and human colour is nor what the forms are in which man expresses that he is man in fact.
To take a glance back at the road we have travelled up to now in the development of the several arts, we began with architecture. It was the most incomplete art because we found it incapable, in the mere heavy matter which it took as its sensuous element and treated in accordance with the laws of gravity, of portraying the spirit in a presence adequate to it, and we had to restrict it, from its own spiritual resources, to preparing for the spirit in its living and actual existence an artistically appropriate external environment.
Sculpture, secondly, did make the spirit itself its subject, but neither as a particular character nor as subjective inwardness of heart, but as free individuality separated neither from the substantive content nor from the corporeal appearance of the spirit; on the contrary, as an individual, the spirit enters the portrayal only in so far as is required for the individual vivification of a content inherently substantial, and it penetrates the bodily forms as an inner spiritual life only in so far as the inherently inseparable unity spirit and its corresponding shape in nature permits. This identity necessary for sculpture, of the spirit that is self-confronting only in its bodily organism and not in the element of its own inner life, imposes on this art the task of still retaining heavy matter as its material; but the shape of this material it has not to form, as architecture does, into a purely inorganic environment constructed according to the laws of bearing and loading; on the contrary, it has to transform it into a classical beauty adequate to the spirit and its ideal plasticity.
In this respect sculpture appeared especially adapted to vivify in works of art the content and mode of expression of the classical form of art, while architecture, which could also prove serviceable for that subject-matter, did not get beyond the fundamental model of a symbolic indication in its mode of portrayal. This being so, with painting, thirdly, we entered the sphere of the romantic. For in painting, the external shape is indeed still the means by which the inner life is revealed, but this inner life is ideal and particular personality, the mind turned into itself out of its corporeal existence, the subjective passion and feeling of character and heart, which are no longer totally effused in the external shape, but precisely in that shape mirror spirit’s inner self-apprehension and its preoccupation with the sphere of its own circumstances, aims, and actions. On account of this inwardness of its content, painting cannot be satisfied with a material which can only be shaped with difficulty or which is unparticularized and can only be treated externally, but has to choose as a means of sensuous expression pure appearance and the pure appearance of colour. Yet colour is available to make spatial forms and figures visible as they exist in actual life only when the art of painting has developed to the magic of colour in which what is objective begins as it were to vanish into thin air, and the effect scarcely comes about any longer by means of something material. For this reason, however far painting develops to a more ideal liberation, i.e. to that pure appearance which is no longer tied to the figure as such but which has liberty to expatiate independently in its own element, in the play of appearance and reflection, in the enchantments of chiaroscuro, still this magic of colour is always of a spatial kind, and a pure appearance of separated things, which therefore persists.
1. But if the inner life, as is already the case in the principle of painting, is in fact to be manifested as a subjective inwardness, the genuinely correspondent material cannot be of such a kind that it persists on its own account. Consequently we get a different mode of expression and communication where objectivity does not enter into its sensuous element as a spatial figure in order to have stability there, and we need a material which for our apprehension is without stability and even as it arises and exists vanishes once more. This obliteration not of one dimension only [as in painting] but of the whole of space, purely and simply, this complete withdrawal, of both the inner life and its expression, into subjectivity, brings completely into being the second romantic art – music. Thus viewed, it forms the real centre of that presentation which takes the subjective as such for both form and content, because as art it communicates the inner life and yet even in its objectivity remains subjective, i.e., unlike the visual arts, it does not permit the manifestation in which it flourishes to become free and independent and reach an existence self-reposing and persistent but, on the contrary, cancels it as objective and does not allow the external to assume in our eyes a fixed existence as something external.
Yet since the cancellation of spatial objectivity as a means of portrayal is a renunciation beginning within the sensuous spatiality of the visual arts themselves, this negation must be actively applied to the previously peaceful and independently persistent material, just as painting in its own field reduced the spatial dimensions of sculpture to a flat surface. The cancellation of space therefore consists here only in the fact that a specific sensuous material sacrifices its peaceful separatedness, turns to movement, yet so vibrates in itself that every part of the cohering body not only changes its place but also struggles to replace itself in its former position. The result of this oscillating vibration is sound or a note, the material of music.
Now, with sound, music relinquishes the element of an external form and a perceptible visibility and therefore needs for the treatment of its productions another subjective organ, namely hearing which, like sight, is one of the theoretical and not practical senses, and it is still more ideal than sight. For the peaceful and undesiring contemplation of [spatial] works of art lets them remain in peace and independence as they are, and there is no wish to consume or destroy them; yet what it apprehends is not something inherently posited ideally but on the contrary something persisting in its visible existence. The ear, on the contrary, without itself turning to a practical relation to objects, listens to the result of the inner vibration of the body through which what comes before us is no longer the peaceful and material shape but the first and more ideal breath of the soul. Further, since the negativity into which the vibrating material enters here is on one side the cancelling of the spatial situation, a cancellation cancelled again by the reaction of the body, therefore the expression of this double negation, i.e. sound, is an externality which in its coming-to-be is annihilated again by its very existence, and it vanishes of itself. Owing to this double negation of externality, implicit in the principle of sound, inner subjectivity corresponds to it because the resounding, which in and by itself is something more ideal than independently really subsistent corporeality, gives up this more ideal existence also and therefore becomes a mode of expression adequate to the inner life.
2. If now we ask, conversely, of what kind the inner life must be to prove itself adequate again on its part to this sounding and resounding, we have already seen that, taken by Itself as real objectivity, sound in contrast to the material of the visual arts is wholly abstract. Stone and colouring receive the forms of a broad and variegated world of objects and portray them as they actually exist; sounds cannot do this. On this account what alone is fitted for expression in music is the object-free inner life, abstract subjectivity as such. This is our entirely empty self, the self without any further content. Consequently the chief task of music consists in making resound, not the objective world itself, but, on the contrary, the manner in which the inmost self is moved to the depths of its personality and conscious soul.
3. The same is true of the effect of music. What it claims as its own is the depth of a person’s inner life as such; it is the art of the soul and is directly addressed to the soul. Painting too, for example, as we saw, can also express the inner life and movement, the moods and passions, of the heart, the situations, conflicts, and destinies of the soul, but it does so in faces and figures, and what confronts us in pictures consists of objective appearances from which the perceiving and inner self remains distinct. No matter how far we plunge or immerse ourselves in the subject-matter, in a situation, a character, the forms of a statue or a picture, no matter how much we may admire such a work of art, may be taken out of ourselves by it, may be satisfied by it – it is all in vain: these works of art are and remain independently persistent objects and our relation to them can never get beyond a vision of them. But in music this distinction disappears. Its content is what is subjective in Itself, and its expression likewise does not produce an object persisting in space but shows through its free unstable soaring that It is a communication which, instead of having stability on its own account, is carried by the inner subjective life, and is to exist for that life alone. Hence the note is an expression and something external, but an expression which, precisely because it is something external, is made to vanish again forthwith. The ear has scarcely grasped it before it is mute; the impression to be made here is at once made within; the notes re-echo only in the depths of the soul which is gripped and moved in its subjective consciousness.
This object-free inwardness in respect of music’s content and mode of expression constitutes its formal aspect. It does have a content too but not in the sense that the visual arts and poetry have one; for what it lacks is giving to itself an objective configuration whether in the forms of actual external phenomena or in the objectivity of spiritual views and ideas.
As for the course we intend to follow in our further discussions. we have
(1) to bring out more specifically the general character of music and its effect, in distinction from the other arts, in respect both of its material and of the form which the spiritual content assumes.
(2) Next we must explain the particular differences in which the musical notes and their figurations are developed and mediated, in respect of their temporal duration and the qualitative differences in their real resonance.
(3) Finally, music acquires a relation to the content it expresseli in that, either it is associated as an accompaniment with feelings, ideas, and thoughts already expressed on their own account on words, or launches out freely within its own domain in unfettered independence.
But if after this general indication of the principle of music and. the division of the subject we propose to go on to distinguish its particular aspects, we are met in the nature of the case with a peculiar difficulty. Since the musical element of sound and the inner life, in which the content proceeds, is so abstract and formal, we cannot go on to particularize without at once running into technical matters such as numerical relations between notes, differences between instruments, keys, concords, etc. But I am little versed in this sphere, and must therefore excuse myself in advance for restricting myself simply to the more general points and to single remarks.
The essential points of importance in relation to music in general may be brought before our consideration in the following order:
(a) We have to compare music with the visual arts on the one hand and with poetry on the other.
(b) Next, therefore, we must expound the manner in which music can apprehend a subject-matter and portray it.
(c) In the light of this manner of treatment we can explain more specifically the special effect which music, in distinction from the other arts, produces on our minds.
In connection with the first point, when we propose to set out clearly the specific and particular character of music, we must compare it with the other arts in three respects.
(α) First, although it stands in contrast to architecture, it still has an affinity with it.
(αα) In architecture the subject-matter to be impressed on architectonic forms does not go wholly into the shape as it does in sculpture and painting but remains distinct from it as merely an external environment for it; so too in music, as a properly romantic art, the classical identity between the inner life and its external existence is dissolved again in a similar, even if opposite, way to what was the case in architecture which, as a symbolic mode of portrayal, could not attain that unity. For the spiritual inner life proceeds from pure concentration of mind to views and ideas and to forms for these developed by imagination; but music remains capable rather of expressing only the element of feeling, and it accompanies explicitly enunciated spiritual ideas with the melodious sounds expressive of feeling, just as architecture in its own sphere surrounds the statues of the god (true, in a rigid way) with the mathematical forms of its pillars, walls, and entablatures.
(ββ) In this way sound and its figuration becomes an element artificially moulded by art and by purely artistic expression, and this is quite different from the way that painting and sculpture precede with the human body and its posture and facial expression. In this respect too music may be compared more closely with architecture which derives its forms, not from what exists, but from the spirit’s invention in order to mould them according to the laws of gravity and the rules of symmetry and eurhythmy. Music does the same in its sphere, since, on the one hand, independently of the expression of feeling, it follows the harmonic laws of sound which rest on quantitative proportions, and, on the other, in relation both to the repetition of the beat and the rhythm and to the further development of the notes it is itself subject in many ways to the forms of regularity and symmetry. Consequently what dominates in music is at once the soul and profoundest feeling and the most rigorous mathematical laws so that it unites in itself two extremes which easily become independent of one another. When they do, music acquires an especially architectonic character because, freed from expressing emotion, it constructs on its own account, with a wealth of invention, a musically regular building of sound.
(γγ) In spite of all this similarity, the art of sound moves in a realm totally opposed to architecture. It is true that in both arts the foundation is relations of quantity, or more precisely proportion, but the material shaped in accordance with these relations is directly opposite in the two arts. Architecture takes heavy visible masses in their peaceful juxtaposition and external spatial shape, whereas music takes the soul of tone, working itself free from spatial matter, in the qualitative differences of sound and in the movement of the ever-rolling stream of time. Thus the works of the two arts belong to two quite different spheres of the spirit, for architecture erects its colossal buildings to endure in symbolic forms to be looked at from outside; but the world of sounds, quickly rustling away, is directly drawn by the ear into the inner life of the heart and harmonizes the soul with emotions in sympathy with it.
(γ) Secondly, as for the closer relation of music to the other two visual arts, the similarity and difference that can be cited is partly grounded in what I have just indicated.
(αα) Music is furthest away from sculpture in respect both of the material and the manner of its configuration and also of the perfect fusion of inner and outer which sculpture attains. With painting, on the other hand, music has a closer relationship partly on account of the preponderating inwardness of expression, partly in relation to the treatment of the material in which, as we saw, painting may undertake to touch on the territory of music very nearly. But painting always has as its aim, in common with sculpture, the portrayal of an objective spatial figure, and it is tied down by that form of the figure which is actual and present already outside art. Of course neither the painter nor the sculptor takes every time a human face, a bodily posture, the contours of a mountain, the branches and leaves of a tree, exactly as he sees these external phenomena in nature here and there; on the contrary, his task is to adjust what is given to him in advance and make it conform to a specific situation and to the expression which follows necessarily from the nature of that situation. Thus in this case there is on one side an explicitly ready-made subject-matter which is to be individualized artistically, and on the other side natural forms equally existent independently on their own account; and when the artist, in accordance with his vocation, proposes to fuse these two elements into one another, he has in both of them fixed points for the conception and execution of his work. Since he starts from these firm specific terms he has to give a concrete body to the universal element in the idea and also to generalize and spiritualize the human figure or other natural forms which can serve him individually as models. The musician on the other hand does not abstract from each and every topic but finds a topic in a text which he sets to music or, independently of any text, he clothes a mood in the form of a musical theme which he then elaborates further; but the region of his compositions remains a rather formal inwardness, pure sound; and his immersion in the topic becomes not the formation of something external but rather a retreat into the inner life’s own freedom, a self-enjoyment, and, in many departments of music, even an assurance that as artist he is free from subject-matter altogether.
Now if in general we may regard activity in the realm of the beautiful as a liberation of the soul, as freedom from oppression and restrictedness (since, by presenting figures for contemplation, an itself alleviates the most powerful and tragic fates and makes them become satisfying), music carries this liberation to the most extreme heights. Music must achieve in a totally different way what the visual arts attain by their objective and plastic beauty which sets forth in the particularity of the individual the totality of man, human nature as such, the universal and the ideal, without losing the inner harmony of particular and universal. The visual artist needs only to bring out, i.e. to produce, what is veiled in an idea, what is there in it from the beginning, so that every individual feature, in its essential definiteness, is only a further unfolding of the totality which floats before the spirit on the strength of the subject-matter to be portrayed. For example, a figure in a plastic work of art demands in this or that situation a body, hands, feet trunk, head, with such and such an expression, pose, and other figures, other associations, etc., and each of these things demands the others in order to close with them into a whole founded in itself. Here the development of the theme is a more exact analysis of what the theme already contains in itself, and the more elaborated the image is which confronts us in this way, the more concentrated is the unity and the stronger the definite connection of the parts. If the work of art is of a genuine kind, the most perfect expression of the individual must at the same time be the production of supreme unity. Now of course a work in music too may not lack an inner articulation and a rounding of the parts into a whole in which one part makes the others necessary; but in the of case music the execution is of a totally different kind and we have taken the unity in a more restricted sense.
(ββ) The meaning to be expressed in a musical theme is already exhausted in the theme; if the theme is repeated or if it goes on to further contrasts and modulations, then the repetitions, modulations, transformations in different keys, etc. readily prove superfluous for an understanding of the work and belong rather to a purely musical elaboration and an assimilation into the manifold realm of harmonic differences etc. which are neither demanded by the subject-matter nor remain carried by it; while in the visual arts, on the other hand, the execution of individual parts down to individual details is solely an ever more exact mode of bringing the subject-matter itself into relief and an analysis of it in a living way.
Yet we cannot deny, it is true, that in a musical composition a topic can be unfolded in its more specific relations, oppositions, conflicts, transitions, complications, and resolutions owing to the way in which a theme is first developed and then another enters, and now both of them in their alternation or their interfusion advance and change, one becoming subordinate here and then more prominent again there, now seeming defeated and then entering again Victorious. But, even so, such elaboration does not, as in sculpture and painting it does, make the unity more profound and concentrated; it is rather an enlargement, an extension, a separation of elements, a flight and a return, for which the content to be expressed does form the more general centre; but the content does not hold the entire work so closely together as is possible in the figures of visual art, especially where that art is restricted to the human organism.
(γγ) In this respect, music, in distinction from the other arts, lies too near the essence of that formal freedom of the inner life to be denied the right of turning more or less away above the content, above what is given. Recollection [Erinnerung] of the theme adopted is at the same time the artist’s inner collection [Er-innerung] of himself, i.e. an inner conviction that he is the artist and can expatiate in the theme at will and move hither and thither in it. And yet the free exercise of imagination in this way is expressly to be distinguished from a perfectly finished piece of music which should essentially be an articulated whole. In the free exercise of imagination, liberation from restriction is an end in itself, so that now the artist can display, amongst other things, freedom to interweave familiar melodies and passages into what he is producing at present, to give them a new aspect, to transform them by nuances of various kinds, to make transitions from them, and so to advance from them to something totally heterogeneous.
On the whole, however, the composer of a piece of music has liberty generally either to execute it within strict limits and to observe, so to say, a plastic unity or, with subjective liveliness, to let, himself go at will in greater or lesser digressions from every Point, or similarly to rock to and fro, stop capriciously, make this or that interrupt his course or rustle forward again in a flooding stream. While therefore we must recommend the painter and the sculptor to study natural forms, music does not possess a natural sphere outside its existing forms, with which it is compelled to comply. The range of its compliance with law and the necessity of its forms fall principally in the sphere of the notes themselves which do not enter into so close a connection with the specific character of the content placed in them, and in their use mostly leave a wide scope for the subjective freedom of the execution.
This is the chief point from which a comparison can be made between music and the objective and visual arts.
(γ) Thirdly, in another way music has the greatest affinity with poetry because they both make use of the same perceptible material, i.e. sound. And yet there is the greatest difference between the two arts both in their way of treating sounds and in their mode of expression.
(αα) In poetry, as we have seen already in our general division of the arts, the sound as such is not elicited from various instruments invented by art and richly modified artistically, but the articulate tone of the human organ of speech is degraded to being a mere token of a word and acquires therefore only the value of being an indication, meaningless in itself, of ideas. Consequently the sound· in general remains an independent audible existent which, as a mere sign of feelings, ideas, and thoughts, has its immanent externality and objectivity in the fact that it is only this sign. For the proper objectivity of the inner life as inner does not consist in the voices and words but in the fact that I am made aware of a thought, a feeling, etc., that I objectify them and so have them before me in my ideas or that I develop the implications of a thought or an idea, distinguish the inner and outer relations of my thought’s content or its different features in their bearing on one another. Of course we’ always think in words but without needing actual speech for that reason.
Since the speech-sounds, as perceptible, are in this way accidental to the spiritual content of our ideas which they are used to communicate, sound here again acquires independence. In painting, colours and their juxtaposition, regarded as colours simply, are likewise meaningless in themselves and are a sensuous medium wholly independent in face of the spirit; but colour as such does not make a painting, since a figure and its expression must be added. In that event colour’s connection with these spiritually animated forms is far closer than that which speech-sounds and their assembly into words have with ideas.
If we look now at the difference between the poetic and the musical use of sound, music does not make sound subservient to speech but takes sound independently as its medium, so that sound, just as sound, is treated as an end in itself. In this way, since the range of sound is not to serve as a sign, it can enter in this liberation into a mode of configuration in which its own form, i.e. artistic note-formation, can become its essential end. Especially in recent times music has torn itself free from a content already clear on its own account and retreated in this way into its own medium; but for this reason it has lost its power over the whole inner life, all the more so as the pleasure it can give relates to only one side of the art, namely bare interest in the purely musical element in the composition and its skilfulness, a side of music which is for connoisseurs only and scarcely appeals to the general human interest in art [!].
(γγ) But what poetry loses in external objectivity by being able to set aside its sensuous medium (so far as that may be permitted to any art), it gains in the inner objectivity of the views and ideas which poetic language sets before our apprehension. For these views, feelings, and thoughts have to be shaped by imagination into a self-complete world of events, actions, moods, and outbursts of passion, and in this way imagination fashions works into which the entirety of reality, alike in its external appearance and in its inner content, enters for apprehension by our spiritual feelings, vision, and ideas. This sort of objectivity music must renounce in so far as it means to remain independent [e.g. of words] in its own field. The realm of sound, as I have indicated already, has a relation to the heart and a harmony with its spiritual emotions, but it gets no further than an always vague sympathy, although in this respect musical composition, so long as it has sprung from the heart Itself and is penetrated by a richness of soul and feeling, may even so be amply impressive.
Elsewhere, our feelings do proceed further out of their element of vague immersion in their object and subjective implication with it to a more concrete vision and more general idea of the object. This can happen in a musical composition too, so soon as the feelings which it arouses in us on the strength of its own nature and artistic animation develop new ideas and insights in us and so bring to our minds the definiteness of mental impressions in firmer views and more general ideas. But in that case this is only our idea and our vision, aroused indeed by the musical composition, but not having been produced directly by the musical treatment of notes. Poetry on the other hand expresses the feelings, views, and ideas themselves and can sketch a picture of external objects for us, although it cannot approach the clear plasticity of sculpture and painting or the depth of soul of music. It must therefore summon in: supplementation our other sensuous perceptions and our wordless apprehension of our emotions.
(yy) Thirdly, however, music does not remain in this independence of poetry and the spiritual content of consciousness but closely allies itself with a subject-matter already completely developed by poetry and clearly expressed in a series of feelings, thoughts, events, and actions. Yet if the musical side of such an artistic composition remains its essential and prominent feature, then poetry, as poem, drama, etc., may not come forward with a claim to validity of its own. In general, within this link between music and poetry the preponderance of one art damages the other Therefore, if the text, as a poetic work of art, has throughout independent worth on its own account, it may only have a weak support from music, as, for example, the choruses in Greek tragedy were only a subordinate accompaniment. But if on the other hand the musical side gets the place of a greater and more special independence of its own, then the text in its poetic execution can only be more or less something superficial and can get no further than expressing general feelings and generally held ideas. Poetical elaborations of profound thoughts are as little able to provide a good musical text as sketches of things in nature or descriptive poetry in general. Songs, operatic arias, the texts of oratorios, etc., can therefore, so far as the details of poetic execution go, be meagre and of a certain mediocrity; if the musician is to have free scope, the poet must not try to be admired as a poet. In this respect it is the Italians, like Metastasio e.g. and others, who have displayed great skill, while Schiller’s poems, certainly not written at all for this purpose, prove very awkward and useless for musical composition. Where music reaches an artistically adequate development, we understand little or nothing of the text, especially in the case of our German language and its pronunciation. Therefore it is after all an unmusical trend to put the main emphasis of interest on the text. For example, an Italian public chatters during the less important scenes of an opera, eats, plays cards, and so on, but when a striking aria begins or an important piece of music, everyone is all attention. We Germans, on the contrary, take the greatest interest in the fate of princes and princesses in opera and in their speeches with their servants, esquires, confidants, and chamber-maids, and even now there are perhaps many of us who groan as soon as a song begins because the interest is interrupted and who then take refuge in conversation.
Even in sacred music the text is for the most part a familiar Credo or is put together out of some passages in the Psalms, so that the words are only to be regarded as an opportunity for a musical commentary which is an independent construction of its own; it is not meant in any way merely to emphasize the text but rather derives from it only the universal element in its meaning in much the same way that painting may select its subject-matter from sacred history.
If, secondly, we examine the mode of treatment, in the form of which, in distinction from the other arts, music, whether guided by or independent of a specific text, can grasp and express a specific subject-matter, I have said already that amongst all the arts music has the maximum possibility of freeing itself from any actual text as well as from the expression of any specific subject-matter, with a view to finding satisfaction solely in a self-enclosed series of the conjunctions, changes, oppositions, and modulations falling within the purely musical sphere of sounds. But in that event music remains empty and meaningless, and because the one chief thing in all art, namely spiritual content and expression, is missing from it, it is not yet strictly to be called art. Only if music becomes a spiritually adequate expression in the sensuous medium of sounds and their varied counterpoint does music rise to being a genuine art, no matter whether this content has its more detailed significance independently expressed in a libretto or must be sensed more vaguely from the notes and their harmonic relations and melodic animation.
(α) In this respect the proper task of music is to vivify some content or other in the sphere of the subjective inner life, not however for spiritual apprehension in the way that happens when this content is present in our consciousness as a general idea, or when, as a specific external shape, it is already present for our apprehension or acquires through art its appropriate appearance. The difficult task assigned to music is to make this inwardly veiled life and energy echo on its own account in notes, or to add to the words and ideas expressed, and to immerse ideas into this element of sound, in order to produce them anew for feeling and sympathy.
(αα) Inwardness as such is therefore the form in which music can conceive its subject-matter and therefore it can adopt every thing which can enter the inner life as such and which above all can be clothed in the form of feeling. But in that case this implies that music’s purpose cannot be an attempt to work for visual apprehension but must be limited to making the inner life intelligible to itself, whether by making the substantial inner depth of a subject-matter as such penetrate the depths of the heart or whether by preferring to display the life and energy of a subject-matter in a single subjective inner life so that this subjective deep feeling itself becomes music’s own proper subject-matter.
(ββ) The inner life in its abstraction from the world has as its first differentiation the one that music is connected with, namely feeling, i.e. the widening subjectivity of the self which does proceed to have an objective content but still leaves this content remaining in this immediate self-sufficiency of the self and the self’s relation to itself without any externality at all. Therefore feeling remains the shrouding of the content, and it is to this sphere that music has
(γγ) Here then all particular feelings spread out from one another for expression, and all nuances of cheerfulness and serenity, the sallies, moods, and jubilations of the soul, the degrees of anxiety, misery, mourning, lament, sorrow, grief, longing, etc., and lastly, of awe, worship, love, etc., become the peculiar sphere of musical expression.
(β) Outside art a sound as an interjection, as the cry of pain, as a sigh or a laugh, is already the direct and most living expression of states of soul and feelings, is the ‘och’ and ‘oh’ of the heart. What lies in it is a self-production and objectification of the soul as soul, an expression midway between (a) the unconscious immersion, and reversion into self, in inward specific thoughts, and (b) a production, not practical but contemplative, just as the bird has in its song this delight and this production of itself.
But the purely natural expression in the form of interjections is still not music, for these outcries are not articulate and arbitrary signs of ideas, like language-sounds, and therefore do not utter something envisaged in its universality as an idea; on the contrary, in and on the sound itself they manifest a mood and a feeling which express themselves directly in such sounds and give relief to the heart by their utterance; but this liberation is not a liberation by art. Music must, on the contrary, bring feelings into specific tone-relationships, deprive the natural expression of its wildness and crude deliverance, and mitigate it.
(γ) Interjections do form the starting-point of music, but music is itself art only by being a cadenced interjection, and in this matter has to dress up its perceptible material artistically to a greater extent than is the case in painting and poetry; not until then can the material express a spiritual content in an artistically adequate way. The manner in which the range of sounds is transformed into this adequacy we have to consider in more detail later ; meanwhile I will only repeat the remark that the notes in themselves are an ensemble of differences and may be separated and combined in the most varied sorts of direct harmonies, essential oppositions, contradictions, and modulations. To these unifications and oppositions, to the variety of their movements and transitions, to their entry, progress, struggle, dissolution and disappearance there corresponds more closely or more distantly the inner nature of this or that subject-matter, as well as of the feelings in the form of which the heart and mind master a subject-matter, so that now such noterelationships, treated and formed in this correspondence, provide the animated expression of what is present in the spirit as a specific content.
But therefore the medium of sound proves to be more akin to the. inner simple essence of a subject-matter than the sensuous material hitherto considered, because instead of being fixed in spatial figures and acquiring stability as the variety of things separated or juxtaposed in space it has rather assigned to it the ideal sphere of time, and therefore it does not reach the difference between what is simply inner and its corporeal concrete appearance and shape. The same is true of the form of the feeling of a subject-matter which it is principally the business of music to express. As in selfconscious thinking, so here too there already enters into our vision and ideas the necessary distinction between (a) the self that sees, has ideas, and thinks, and (b) the object of sight, ideas, and thought. But, in feeling, this distinction is expunged, or rather is not yet explicit, since there the thing felt is interwoven with the inner feeling as such, without any separation between them. When therefore music is linked with poetry as an art accompanying it, or, conversely, when poetry as the elucidating interpreter is linked with music, music cannot propose to give an external illustration to ideas and thoughts as these are consciously apprehended by us, or to reproduce them, but, on the contrary, as I said, must bring home to our feelings the simple essence of some subject-matter in such note-relationships as are akin to the inner nature of that subject; or, more particularly, it must try to express that very feeling which the object of views and ideas may arouse in the spirit (itself just as capable of having sympathetic feelings as of having ideas), and to do this by means of its notes that accompany and inwardize the poetry.
From this trend of music we can derive the power with which it works especially on the heart as such; for the heart neither proceeds to intellectual considerations nor distracts our conscious attention to separate points of view, but is accustomed to live in deep feeling and its undisclosed depth. For it is precisely this sphere of inner sensibility, abstract self-comprehension, which music takes for its own and therefore brings movement into the seat of inner changes, into the heart and mind as this simple concentrated centre of the whole of human life.
(a) Sculpture in particular gives to its works of art an entirely self-subsistent existence, a self-enclosed objectivity alike in content and in external appearance. Its content is the individually animated but independently self-reposing substance of the spirit, while its form is a three-dimensional figure. For this reason, by being a perceptible object, a sculpture has the maximum of independence. As we have already seen in considering painting (pp.805-6), a picture comes into a closer relation with the spectator, partly on account of the inherently more subjective content which it portrays, partly because of the pure appearance of reality which it provides; and it proves therefore that it is not meant to be something independent on its own account, but on the contrary to be something essentially for apprehension by the person who has both vision and feeling. Yet, confronted by a picture, we are still left with a more independent freedom, since in its case we always have to do with an object present externally which comes to us only through our vision and only thereby affects our feelings and ideas. Consequently the spectator can look at a picture from this angle or that, notice this or that about it, analyse the whole (because it stays in front of him), make all sorts of reflections about it, and in this way preserve complete freedom for his own independent consideration of it.
(αα) A piece of music, on the other hand, does also proceed, like any work of art, to a beginning of the distinction between subjective enjoyment and the objective work, because in its notes as they actually sound it acquires a perceptible existence different from inner appreciation; but, for one thing, this contrast is not intensified, as it is in visual art, into a permanent external existent in space and the perceptibility of an object existing independently, but conversely volatilizes its real or objective existence into an immediate temporal disappearance; for another thing, unlike poetry, music does not separate its external medium from its spiritual Content. In poetry the idea is more independent of the sound of the language, and it is further separated from this external than expression is the case in the other arts, and it is developed in a special course of images mentally and imaginatively formed as such. It is true that it might be objected that music, as I have said previously may conversely free its notes from its content and so give them independence, but this liberation is not really compatible with art. Compatibility here consists in using the harmonic and melodious movement entirely as an expression of the content once chosen and of the feelings which that content is capable of arousing. Expression in music has, as its content, the inner life itself, the inner sense of feeling and for the matter in hand, and, as its form, sound, which, in an art that least of all proceeds to spatial figures, is purely evanescent in its perceptible existence; the result is that music with its movements penetrates the arcanum of all the movements of the soul. Therefore it captivates the consciousness which is no longer confronted by an object and which in the loss of this freedom [of contemplation] is carried away itself by the ever-flowing stream of sounds.
Yet, even here, given the varied directions in which music can develop, a varied kind of effect is possible. For when music lacks a. deeper content or, in general, does not express fullness of soul, it may happen that, on the one hand, we take delight, without any movement of emotion, in the purely sensuous sound and ita melodiousness or, on the other hand, follow with purely intellectual consideration the course of the harmony and melody by; which the heart itself is no further touched or led. Indeed in the case of music above all it is possible to indulge in such a purely intellectual analysis for which there is nothing in the work of art except skill and virtuosity in compilation. But if we take no account: of this intellectualistic attitude and approach a musical work of art naïvely instead, then it draws us into itself and carries us along with it, quite apart from the power which art, by being art, generally exercises over us. The peculiar power of music is an elemental one, i.e. it lies in the element of sound in which art moves here.
(ββ) The self is not only gripped by this element in some particular part of its being or simply through a specific content; on the contrary in its simple self, in the centre of its spiritual existence, it is elevated by the musical work and activated by it. So for example, in the case of prominent and easily flowing rhythms we at once desire to beat time with them and to join in singing the melody; and dance music even gets into our feet; in short, music gets hold of the individual as this man. Conversely, in the case of a purely regular action which, falling into time, conforms with the beat owing to this uniformity and has no further content at all, on the one hand we demand an expression of this regularity as such so that this action can come to the individual’s apprehension in a way itself subjective, and on the other hand we desire an interest less empty than this uniformity. Both are afforded by a musical accompaniment. It is thus that music accompanies the march of troops; this attunes the mind to the regularity of the step, immerses the individual in the business of marching, and concentrates his mind on what he has to do. For the same sort of reason, the disorderly restlessness of a lot of people in a restaurant and the unsatisfying excitement it causes is burdensome; this walking to and fro, this clattering and chattering should be regulated, and since in the intervals of eating and drinking we have to do with empty time, this emptiness should be filled. This is an occasion, like so many others, when music comes to the rescue and in addition wards off other thoughts, distractions, and ideas.
(γγ) Here there is also in evidence the connection between (a) subjective feeling and (b) time as such which is the universal element in music. The inner life in virtue of its subjective unity is the active negation of accidental juxtaposition in space, and therefore a negative unity. But at first this self-identity remains wholly abstract and empty and it consists only in making itself its object and yet in cancelling this objectivity (itself only ideal and identical with what the self is) in order to make itself in this way a subjective unity. The similarly ideal negative activity in its sphere of externality is time. For (i) it extinguishes the accidental juxtaposition of things in space and draws their continuity together into a point of time, into a ‘now’. But (ii) the point of time proves at once to be its own negation, since, as soon as this ‘now’ is, it supersedes itself by passing into another ‘now’ and therefore reveals its negative activity. (iii) On account of externality, the element in which time moves, no truly subjective unity is established between the first point of time and the second by which it has been superseded; on the contrary, the ‘now’ still remains always the same in its alteration; for each point of time is a ‘now’ just as little distinguished from the other, regarded as merely a point of time, as the abstract self is from the object in which it cancels itself and, since this object is only the empty self itself, in which it closes with itself.
Furthermore the actual self itself belongs to time, with which, if we abstract from the concrete content of consciousness and self-consciousness, it coincides, since it is nothing but this empty movement of positing itself as ‘other’ and then cancelling this alteration, i.e. maintaining itself in its other as the self and only the self as such. The self is in time, and time is the being of the subject himself. Now since time, and not space as such, provides the essential element in which sound gains existence in respect of its musical value, and since the time of the sound is that of the subject too, sound on this principle penetrates the self, grips it in its simplest being, and by means of the temporal movement and its rhythm sets the self in motion; while the further figuration of the notes, as an expression of feelings, introduces besides a still more definite: enrichment for the subject by which he is likewise touched and: drawn on.
This is what can be advanced as the essential reason for the elemental might of music.
(ββ) If music is to exercise its full effect, more is required than purely abstract sound in a temporal movement. The second thing to be added is a content, i.e. a spiritual feeling felt by the heart, and the soul of this content expressed in notes.
Therefore we may not cherish a tasteless opinion about the all powerfulness of music as such, a topic on which ancient writers, profane and sacred alike, have told so many fabulous stories. In the case of the civilizing miracles of Orpheus, his notes and their movement sufficed for wild beasts which lay around him tame, but not for men who demanded the contents of a higher doctrine. After all the Hymns called Orphic which have come down to us, whether in their original form or not, contain mythological and other ideas. Similarly the war-songs of Tyrtaeus are famous by their means, so it is said, the Spartans, after a long series of unsuccessful battles, were fired with irresistible enthusiasm and were victorious over the Messenians. In this case too the content of the ideas stimulated by these elegies was the chief thing, although the worth and effect of their musical side too is not to be denied especially at a period of deeply stirred passions and amongst barbarian peoples. The pipes of the Highlanders made an essential contribution to inflaming their courage, and the power of the Marseillaise, the ça ira of the French Revolution, is not to be gainsaid. But enthusiasm proper has its ground in the specific in the true spiritual interest which has filled the nation and which can be raised by music into a momentarily more lively feeling because the notes, the rhythm, and the melody can carry the man away who gives himself up to them. Nowadays, however, we will not regard music as capable of producing by itself such a courageous mood and a contempt for death. Today nearly all armies have really good regimental music which engrosses the troops, diverts them, spurs on their march, and incites them to attack; but we do not suppose that all this is to defeat the enemy. Mere bugle-blowing and drum-beating does not produce courage, and it would take a lot of trumpets before a fortress would tumble at their sound as the walls of Jericho did. It is enthusiastic ideas, cannon, the genius of generals which achieve this now, and not music, for music can only count as a support for those powers which in other ways have already filled and captured the mind.
(γ) A final aspect of the effect of the notes on the mind con sists of the manner in which a musical work, as distinguished from other works of art, comes home to us. Unlike buildings, statues, and paintings, the notes have in themselves no permanent subsistence as objects; on the contrary, with their fleeting passage they vanish again and therefore the musical composition needs a continually repeated reproduction, just because of this purely momentary existence of its notes. Yet the necessity of such renewed vivication has still another and a deeper significance. For music takes as its subject-matter the subjective inner life itself, with the aim of presenting itself, not as an external shape or as an objectively existing work, but as that inner life; consequently its expression must be the direct communication of a living individual who has put into it the entirety of his own inner life. This is most clearly the case in the song of the human voice, but it is relatively true also of instrumental music which can be performed only by practising artists with their living skill both spiritual and technical.
It is only this subjective aspect in the actual production of a musica1 work that completes in music the significance of the subjective; but the performance may go so far in this subjective direction that the subjective side may be isolated as a one-sided extreme, the result that subjective virtuosity in the production may as Such be made the sole centre and content of the enjoyment.
I will let these remarks suffice in relation to the general character of music.
Up to this point we have considered music only on the side of its having to shape and animate notes into the tones of the subjective inner life; the next question is about the means that make it possible and necessary for the notes not to be a purely natural shriek of feeling but the developed and artistic expression of it. For feeling as such has a content [it is a feeling of something], while a mere note has none [it is not the sound of anything]. Therefore the note must first be made capable, by artistic treatment, of assimilating the expression of an inner life. On this point the following conclusions may be formulated in most general terms.
Each note is an independent existent, complete in itself, but one which is not articulated and subjectively comprehended as a living unity as is the case with the animal or human form; and, on the other hand, it is unlike a particular limb of a corporeal organism or some single trait of a spiritually or physically animated body, which shows on the surface that this particular detail can exist at all and win significance, meaning, and expressiveness only in animated connection with the other limbs and traits. So far as the external material goes, a picture consists of single strokes and colours which may exist on their own account also; but the real matter which alone makes those strokes and colours into a work of art, i.e. the lines, surfaces, etc. of the figure, have a meaning only as a concrete whole. On the other hand, the single note is more independent in itself and can also up to a certain point be animated by feeling and become a definite expression of it.
Conversely, however, the note is not a merely vague rustling and sounding but can only have any musical worth on the strength of its definiteness and consequent purity. Therefore, owing to this definiteness in its real sound and its temporal duration, it is in direct connection with other notes. Indeed it is this relation alone which imparts to it its own proper and actual definiteness and, along with that, its difference from other notes whether in opposition to them or in harmony with them.
Owing to their relative independence this relation remains something external to the notes, so that the connections into which they are brought do not belong to the single notes themselves, do not belong to them by their nature as they do to the members of an animal or a human organism, or even to the forms of a natural landscape. Bringing different notes together in specific relations is therefore something, if not contradicting the essence of the note, still only artificial and not otherwise already present naturally. Consequently such a relation proceeds from a third party [the composer] and exists only for a third party, i.e. the man who apprehends it [i.e. either the executant or the listener].
On account of this externality of the relation, the specific character of the notes and their assembly rests on quantity, on numerical proportions which of course have their basis in the nature of sound itself, but they are used by music in a way first discovered by art and most variously modified.
From this point of view, what constitutes the basis of music is not life in itself, as an organic unity, but equality, inequality, etc., in short the mathematical form dominant in the quantitative sphere. Therefore if musical notes are to be discussed with precision, our statements must be made solely in terms of numerical proportions and the arbitrary letters by which we are accustomed to designate the notes according to these proportions.
In this reduction to pure quanta and their mathematical and external character music has its principal affinity with architecture, because, like architecture, it constructs its inventions on the firm basis and the frame of proportions; but there is no expansion into an organic and living articulation where with one detail the rest are given, and no closure of detail into a living unity. On the contrary, music, like architecture, begins to become a free art only in the further developments which it can produce out of those proportions. Now while architecture gets no further in this process of liberation than producing a harmony of forms and the animation characteristic of a secret eurhythmy, music per contra, having as its content the inmost subjective free life and movement of the soul, breaks up into the profoundest opposition between this free inner life and those fundamental quantitative proportions. Yet it cannot rest in this opposition but acquires the difficult task of both adopting and overcoming it, because through those necessary proportions it gives to those free movements of the heart, which it expresses, a more secure ground and basis on which the inner life then moves and develops in a freedom made concrete only through that necessity.
In this connection we must distinguish in the note two aspects in accordance with which it can be used in an artistic way: (i) the abstract foundation, the universal but not yet specifically physical element, namely time, within the sphere of which the note falls. (ii) The sounding itself, the difference in reality between notes both in respect of differences in the sensuous sounding material and in respect of the notes themselves in their relation to one another as single notes and as an ensemble. Then (iii) there is the soul which animates the notes, rounds them off into a free whole, and gives to them, in their temporal movement and their real sounding, an expression of the spirit. These three aspects provide us with the following series of stages for the more specific articulation of our subject.
(i) First, we have to concern ourselves with the purely temporal duration and movement which the art of music may not leave to chance but must determine in fixed measures; it has to diversify them by introducing differences, and yet restore unity amid these differences. This provides the necessity for time, bar or beat, and rhythm.
(ii) But, secondly, music is not only concerned with time as such and relations of longer or shorter duration, pauses, emphases, etc., but with the concrete time of specific notes in their resonance which therefore do not differ from one another solely in their duration. This difference rests, on the one hand, on the specific quality of the sensuous material from the vibrations of which the note proceeds, and, on the other hand, on the different number of vibrations in which the resonant bodies tremble during the same length of time. Thirdly, these differences afford the essential aspects for the relationship of notes in their harmony, opposition, and modulation. We may indicate this part of our subject by giving it the general name of the theory of harmony.
(iii) Thirdly and lastly, it is melody whereby, on these foundations of the rhythmically animated beat and the harmonic differences and movements, the realm of notes closes into one spiritually free expression; and this thus leads us on to the following, and final, chief section which has to consider music in its concrete unification with the spiritual content it is to express in beat, harmony, and melody.
If we take in the first place the purely temporal aspect of musical sound, we have to discuss (a) the necessity of time’s being in general the dominant thing in music; (b) the bar as the purely mathematically regulated measure of time; (c) rhythm which begins to animate this abstract rule by emphasizing some specific beats and subordinating others.
(α) The figures of sculpture and painting are juxtaposed in space and this extension in space is presented as an actual or apparent whole. But music can produce notes only by making a body existing in space tremble and setting it in vibratory motion. These vibrations belong to art only in the sense of following one another, and so the sensuous material enters music not with its spatial form but only with the temporal duration of its movement. Now it is true that any movement of a body is also always present in space, so that although the figures of sculpture and painting are actually at rest they still have the right to portray the appearance of movement; music however does not adopt movement as it occurs in space, and therefore there is left for its configuration only the time in which the vibration of the body occurs.
(αα) But it follows, as we have seen already, that time, unlike space, is not a positive juxtaposition but, on the contrary, a negative sort of externality, i.e. as a point, external juxtaposition being cancelled, and as a negativing activity, cancelling this point of time to give place to another which likewise is cancelled to give place to another, and so on and on. In the succession of these points of time each note can be fixed independently as a single note or it can be brought into a quantitative connection with others, and in this way time becomes countable. Conversely, however, time is the unbroken series of the coming to be and the passing away of these points of time, which, taken purely as such and in their unparticularized abstraction, have no difference from one another; consequently time proves to be both a uniform stream and also an inherently undifferentiated duration.
(ββ) Yet music cannot leave time in this indeterminacy; it must on the contrary determine it more closely, give it a measure, and order its flow by the rule of such a measure. It is owing to this regulating treatment that time enters for notes. Then the question arises at once why music requires such a measure at all The necessity for specific periods of time may be developed from the fact that time stands in the closest connection with the simple self which perceives and is meant to perceive in the notes its own inner life; this is because time as externality has in itself the same principle which is active in the self as the abstract foundation of everything inner and spiritual. If it is the simple self which as inner is to become objective to itself in music, then the universal element in this objectivity must be treated in conformity with that principle of the inner life. But the self is not an indeterminate continuity and unpunctuated duration, but only becomes a self by concentrating its momentary experiences and returning into itself from them. The process of self-cancellation whereby it becomes an object to itself it turns into self-awareness and now only through this self-relation does it come to have a sense and consciousness, etc., of itself. But this concentration of experiences essentially implies an interruption of the purely indefinite process of changes which is what time was as we envisaged it just now, because the coming to be and passing away, the vanishing and renewal of points of time, was nothing but an entirely formal transition beyond this ‘now’ to another ‘now’ of the same kind, and therefore only an uninterrupted movement forward. Contrasted with this empty progress, the self is what persists in and by itself, and its self-concentration interrupts the indefinite series of points of time and makes gaps in their abstract continuity; and in its awareness of its discrete experiences, the self recalls itself and finds itself again and thus is freed from mere self-externalization and change.
(yy) Accordingly, the duration of a note does not go on indefinitely but, by its start and finish, which thereby become a specific beginning and ending, the note cancels the series of moments of time which in itself contains no differences. But if many notes follow one another and acquire a different duration from one another, then in place of that first empty indefiniteness there is substituted anew only an arbitrary and therefore equally indefinite variety of particular quantities. This unregulated running riot contradicts the unity of the self just as much as the abstract forward movement does, and the self can find itself again and be satisfied in this diversified definiteness of duration only if single quanta are brought into one unity. Since this unity subsumes particulars under itself, it must be a definite unity, although as a mere identity in the external sphere, it can at first remain only of an external kind.
(β) This leads us to the further regulation produced by the bar (or beat).
(αα) The first point for consideration here consists in the fact, already mentioned, that different divisions of time are bound together into a unity in which the self makes itself aware of its self-identity. Since the self in the first place affords the foundation here only as an abstract self, this equality of the onward flow of time and its notes can also itself prove to be effective only as an abstract equality, i.e. as the uniform repetition of the same temporal unit. Accordingly the simple purpose of the bar is (a) to establish a specific temporal unit as the measure and rule both for the marked interruption of the previously undifferentiated temporal succession and also for the equally arbitrary duration of single notes which now are brought together into a definite unity, and (b) to bring about the continual renewal of this time-measure in an abstractly uniform way. In this respect the bar has the same function as regularity in architecture where, for example, columns of the same height and thickness are placed alongside one another at equal intervals, or a row of windows of a specific size is regulated by the principle of equality. Here too a fixed definiteness and a wholly uniform repetition of it is present. In this uniformity self-consciousness finds itself again as a unity, because for one thing it recognizes its own equality as the ordering of an arbitrary manifold, and, for another thing, the repetition of the same unity calls to mind the fact that this unity was already there and precisely through its repetition shows itself as the dominating rule. But the satisfaction which the self acquires, owing to the bar, in this rediscovery of itself is all the more complete because the unity and uniformity does not pertain either to time or the notes in themselves; it is something which belongs solely to the self and is inserted into time by the self for its own self-satisfaction. For in nature this abstract identity does not exist. Even the heavenly bodies have no uniform beat or bar in their motion; on the contrary, they accelerate or retard their course so that in the same time they do not traverse the same space. The case is similar with falling bodies, the projection of a missile, etc., and stillness do animals reduce their running, jumping, snatching, etc. to the precise repetition of a measure of time. In this matter, the beat proceeds from the spirit alone far more than do the regular fixed magnitudes of architecture, analogies for which may more easily be found in nature.
(ββ) But the individual always perceives the like identity which proceeds from and is himself, and if in the midst of the multitude of notes and their duration he is to revert into himself as a result of the bar, this implies in addition the presence of what is unregulated and not uniform, if the definite unity is to be felt as rule. For only if the definiteness of the measure conquers and regulates what is arbitrarily unlike, is that definiteness proved to be the unity of the accidental variety and the rule for it. For this reason this definiteness must therefore absorb the variety into itself and make uniformity appear in what is not uniform. This it is which first gives to the beat its own definite character in itself and also therefore; distinguishes this character from that of other measures of time which can be repeated in conformity with a beat.
(γγ) Accordingly, the multiplicity of notes enclosed in a bar has its specific norm by which it is divided and regulated, and from this, thirdly, the different sorts of bar arise. The first thing to be noticed in this context is the internal division of the bar in accordance with either the even or odd number of the repeated equal parts. Of the first kind examples are two-four and four-four time. Here the even number is clearly predominant. A three-four time is a different kind; in it the parts, of course equal to one another, still form a unity in an uneven number. Both characteristics are united, for example in a six-eight time, which seems numerically the same as a three-four one; but in fact it falls not into three but into two parts, although both of these in their further division take three, i.e. the odd number, for their principle.
A specification like this is the steadily repeating rule for every particular sort of bar. But however strictly the specific beat has to govern the variety of duration and its longer or shorter section nevertheless its domination is not to extend so far that it dominates the variety quite abstractly in such a way that in a four-four bar, for instance, only four entirely equal minims can occur, in a three-four one only three, in a six-eight one only six crotchets etc.; on the contrary, regularity is restricted here in such a way that in a four-four bar the sum of the single notes amounts only to four equal minims which, however, not only may divide besides into crotchets and quavers, but conversely may just as readily contract again and also are capable of great variations in other ways.
(γ) Yet the further this abundant variation goes, the more necessary it is for the essential sections of the bar to be asserted in it and actually marked out as the principal rule to be emphasized. This is brought about by means of rhythm which alone brings proper animation to the time and the bar. In relation to this vivification too, different aspects can be distinguished.
(αα) The first is the accent which can be laid more or less audibly on specific parts of the bar while others flit by unaccented. Through such stress or absence of stress, once more varied, each individual kind of bar receives its peculiar rhythm which is exactly connected with the specific way in which this kind is divided. A four-four bar, for example, in which the even number dominates, has a double arsis, first on the first minim and next, though weaker, on the third. The more strongly accentuated parts are called ‘strong’ parts of the bar, others the ‘weak’ ones. In a three-four bar the accent falls wholly on the first minim, but in six-eight on the first and fourth, so that here the double accent emphasizes the precise division into two halves.
(ββ) When music is an accompaniment, its rhythm has an essential relation to that of the poetry. On this matter I will only remark, in the most general terms, that the accent of the bar must not directly conflict with that of the metre. If, for example, a syllable not accented in the rhythm of the verse falls into a strong part of the bar while the arsis or even the caesura falls into a weak part, the result is a false contradiction, better avoided, between the rhythm of the poetry and that of the music. The same is true of long and short syllables; these too must in general so correspond with the duration of the notes that longer syllables fall on longer notes and shorter on shorter, even if this correspondence cannot be carried through to the last degree of exactitude, since music may often be allowed greater scope for the duration of long notes as well as for the more abundant division of them.
(γγ) Thirdly, to make a preliminary remark at once about melody, its animated rhythm is to be distinguished from the abstractness and regular and strict return of the rhythm of the beat. In this connection music has a freedom similar to poetry’s and an even greater one. In poetry, as we all know, the beginning and ending of words need not correspond with the beginning and ending of the feet of a line, for on the contrary such a coincidence of the two produces a lame line with no caesura. Similarly the beginning and ending of sentences and periods must not always be the beginning and ending of a line. On the contrary, a period ends better at the beginning or even in the middle and towards the later feet of the line; and there a new period begins which carries one line over to the next one. It is the same in music with bar and rhythm. The melody and its different periods need not begin strictly with the beginning of a bar and end with the closing of another; indeed they can be emancipated in the sense that the chief arsis of the melody falls in that part of a bar which, so far as its ordinary rhythm goes, has no such emphasis, while conversely a note which in the natural course of the melody should have had no marked emphasis may stand in the strong part of the bar which requires arsis. Thus the value of a note in the rhythm of a bar differs from that which this note may claim for itself in the melody. But the counter-thrust between the rhythm of the bar and that of the melody comes out at its sharpest in what are called syncopations.
If on the other hand the melody keeps strictly in its rhythm and parts to the rhythm of the beat, then it readily sounds humdrum, bare, and lacking in invention. What may be demanded in this connection is, in brief, freedom from the pedantry of metre and the barbarism of a uniform rhythm. For deficiency in greater freedom of movement, along with dullness and carelessness, readily leads to what is gloomy and melancholy, and thus many of our poplar tunes have about them something lugubrious, drawling, and lumbering because the soul has available only a rather monotonous movement as a medium of expression and is led consequently to put into that medium the plaintive feelings of a broken heart.
The southern languages, on the contrary, especially Italian, leave open a rich field for a varied and more lively rhythm and an out pouring of melody. In this there already lies an essential difference between German and Italian music. The uniform and flat iambic scansion which recurs in so many German songs kills any free and joyous abandon of melody and inhibits any higher flight and variety. In modern times Reichardt and others seem to me to have brought a new rhythmic life into song-composition precisely by abandoning this iambic sing-song, although in some of their songs it does still predominate. Yet the influence of the iambic rhythm occurs not only in songs but in many of our greatest musical compositions. Even in Handel’s Messiah the composition in many arias and choruses follows with declamatory truth not only the sense of the words, but also the fall of the iambic rhythm, partly in the mere difference between longs and shorts, partly in the fact that the long syllable of the iambus is given a higher note than the short one. This character is indeed one of the features which make us Germans so completely at home in Handel’s music, along with its other excellences, its majestic swing, its impetuous movement, and its wealth of feelings, as profoundly religious as they are idyllically simple. This rhythmical ingredient in melody falls on our ear much more easily than on an Italian one. The Italians may find in it something unfree and strange and uncongenial to their ear.
The other content which alone fills in music’s abstract foundation in bar and rhythm, and, therefore makes it possible for that foundation to become really concrete music, is the realm of notes as such. This more essential province of music comprises the laws of harmony. Here a new element comes on the scene because by its vibration not only does a body cease to be portrayable by art in its spatial form and move over instead to the development of, as it were, its temporal form, but, depending on its physical character, its varying length or shortness, and the number of vibrations it makes during a specific time, it sounds differently. Therefore this is something which art must seize upon and mould to its artistic purposes.
In this second element there are three main points to emphasize in more detail.
(α) The first point that demands our consideration is the difference between the particular instruments. It has been necessary for music to invent and construct them in order to produce an ensemble which even in relation to the audible sound, independently of all difference in the reciprocal relation of treble and bass or high and low pitch, constitutes a compact range of different notes.
(β) Yet. secondly, the sound of music, apart from variations in instruments and the human voice, is in itself an articulated ensemble of different notes, scales, and keys which depend primarily on quantitative relations; determined by these relations, these are the notes which each instrument, and the human voice, has the task of producing in its own specific tonality with a greater or lesser degree of completeness.
(γ) Thirdly, music consists neither of single intervals nor of purely abstract scales and separate keys; on the contrary, it is a concrete harmony, opposition, and modulation of notes which therefore necessitate a forward movement and a transition from one to the other. This juxtaposition and change does not rest on pure accident and caprice, but is subject to specific laws in which everything genuinely musical has its necessary foundation.
In now passing on to the more detailed consideration of these points I must particularly restrict myself here, as I said before, to the most general remarks.
(α) Sculpture and painting have their perceptible material, wood, stone, metal, etc., colours, etc., more or less at hand or, in order to: make it fit for artistic use, they have to transform it to only a slight extent.
(αα) But music, which as such moves in an element first manufactured by and for art, must subject it to a significantly more difficult process of preparation before music achieves the production of notes. Apart from the mixture of metals for casting, the grinding of colours and fixing them with the sap of plants, oil etc., and the mixture of them to form new shades, sculpture and painting need no further wealth of inventions. Except the human voice, which is provided directly by nature, music must itself first thoroughly fashion its usual media into actual notes before it can exist at all.
(ββ) So far as concerns these media as such, we have already considered sound as being the trembling of something existent in space, the first inner animation which asserts itself against purely objective juxtaposition in space, and, by the negation of this real spatiality, appears as an ideal unity of all the physical properties of a body, e.g. its specific gravity and sort of cohesion. If we go on to ask about the qualitative character of that material which is made to sound, it is extremely varied alike in its physical nature and in its construction for artistic purposes: e.g. (i) a straight or curved column of air enclosed in a fixed tube of wood or metal, (ii) a surface of stretched parchment, (iii) a straightly stretched string of catgut or metal, or (iv) a metallic or glass bell. – In this matter the following chief differences may be noted.
First, the direction of a line is the dominating thing which produces instruments really and properly useful musically, whether the chief principle is provided by a non-cohesive column of air, as in wind instruments, or a column of matter which must be tightly stretched but preserve elasticity enough to enable it to vibrate, as in stringed instruments,
Secondly, there is the domination of a surface though this provides only subordinate instruments like the kettledrum, bell, and harmonica. For between the self-apprehending inner life and the ‘linear’ sounds there is a secret sympathy, and consequently the inherently simple self demands the resounding tremble of the simple length instead of that of broader and rounder surfaces. The inner life, that is to say, is as a self this spiritual point which apprehends itself in notes qua the expression of itself, but the first cancellation and expression of this point is not the surface but the simple direction of a line. From this point of view, broad and round surfaces do not meet the needs or the power of our subjective apprehension.
In the case of the kettledrum a skin is stretched over a hemispherical basin and when it is struck at one point the whole surface is made to tremble into a hollow sound which can be made to harmonize but in itself, like the whole instrument, cannot be given sharper definition or any great variety. The opposite is the case with the harmonica and its lightly struck musical glasses. Here there is a concentrated and non-emergent intensity which is so fatiguing that many people cannot hear it without soon getting a nervous headache. Besides, in spite of its specific effect, this instrument has not been able to give permanent pleasure and it can be combined with other instruments only with difficulty because it is too little in accord with them. In the case of the bell, there is the same deficiency in different notes, and the same character of being struck at one point as occurs with the kettledrum, but the bell does not have such a hollow sound; it rings out freely although its reverberating boom is more like a mere echo of its being struck at one point.
Thirdly, we may specify as the freest, and in its sound the most perfect instrument the human voice, which unites in itself the character of wind and string instruments because in this case it is a column of air which vibrates, while through the muscles there also comes into play the principle of tightly stretched strings. Just as we saw, in the case of the colour of the human skin, that, as an ideal unity, it contains the rest of the colours and therefore is the most perfect colour, so the human voice contains the ideal totality of sound, a totality only spread out amongst the other instruments in their particular differences. Consequently it is the perfection of sound and therefore marries most flexibly and beautifully with the other instruments. At the same time the human voice can apprehend itself as the sounding of the soul itself, as the sound which the inner life has in its own nature for the expression of itself, an expression which it regulates directly. On the other hand, in the case of the other instruments a vibration is set up in a body indifferent to the soul and its expression and, in virtue of its own character, more remote from these; but in song the soul rings out from its own body. Hence, like the heart and its own feelings, the human voice develops in a great variety of particular ways, a variety founded, so far as its more general differences are concerned, in. national and other natural circumstances. So, for example, the Italians are a people of song and amongst them the most beautiful voices occur most frequently. A principal feature in this beauty is the material basis of the sound as sound, the pure metal of the voice which should not taper off to mere sharpness or glass-like thinness or remain dull and hollow; but, at the same time, without going so far as tremolo, it preserves within this as it were compact and concentrated sound an inner life and an inner vibration of the sound. In this matter the voice must above all be pure, i.e. along with the perfect note no noise of any kind should assert itself.
(γγ) Music can use this whole range of instruments singly or alt together in complete harmony. It is especially in recent times that music has first developed this latter capacity. The difficulty of such an artistically satisfactory assembly is great, for each instrument has its own special character which does not immediately fit in with that of another. Consequently great knowledge, circumspection, experience, and gift for invention are required for harmonizing many instruments of different kinds, for the effective introduction of some particular species, e.g. wind or string instruments, or for the sudden thunder of trumpet-blasts, and the changing succession of the sounds emphasized out of the entire chorus, and for doing all this in such a way that, amidst such differences, changes, oppositions, transitions, and modulations, an inner significance, a soul and feeling cannot be missed. So, for instance, in the symphonies of Mozart who was a great master of instrumentation and its intelligent, living, and clear variety the change of the particular instruments has often presented itself to me as a dramatic concert, as a sort of dialogue in which the character of one sort of instrument proceeds to the point where the character of the others is indicated and prepared; one replies to another or brings in what the sound of the preceding instrument was denied the power to express adequately, so that by this means a dialogue arises in the most graceful way between sounding and echoing, between beginning, progress, and completion.
(β) The second element to be mentioned no longer concerns the physical quality of the sound but instead the specific character of the note in itself and its relation to other notes. This objective relation whereby sound first expands into a range of notes both as individual in themselves and firmly determinate, and also as continually in essential relation with one another, constitutes the properly harmonic element in music and rests, in what again is primarily its physical side, on quantitative relations and numerical proportions. At the present stage the following more detailed points about this system of harmony are of importance.
First, the individual notes in their specific measure and in its relation to other notes: the theory of individual intervals.
Secondly, the assembled series of notes in their simplest succession in which one note directly hints at another: the scale.
Thirdly, the difference of these scales which, since each of them takes its start from a different note as its keynote, become both particular keys different from each other and also a whole system of these keys.
(αα) The individual notes acquire not merely their sound but its perfectly specific determinacy by the vibration of a body. If this determinacy is to be achieved, then the sort of vibration must not be accidental and arbitrary but fixedly determined in itself. A column of air or a stretched string or a surface etc., which sounds, has a certain length or extension. For example, if we take a string and fasten it at two points and vibrate the stretched part that lies between them, the first thing of importance is the thickness and tension of the string. If this is done with two identical strings, then, according to an observation first made by Pythagoras, the principal matter is the length, because two strings similar in thickness but of different lengths give a different number of vibrations over the same period of time. The difference of this number from another number and its relation to another is the basis for the difference and relation between particular notes in relation to their pitch; whether high or low.
But when we hear such notes, our apprehension of them feels quite different from an apprehension of dry numerical relationships: we need not know anything of numbers and arithmetical proportions, and indeed if we see a string vibrating, then, for one thing, the trembling vanishes without our being able to count it and, for another thing, we do not need to look at a body emitting a sound to get an impression of the sound it emits. Therefore the connection between the sound and these numerical relations may not merely strike us as incredible; on the contrary, we may get the impression that our hearing and inner understanding of the harmonies is actually degraded by referring their origin to something purely quantitative. Nevertheless, the numerical relation between vibrations occurring in the same length of time is and remains the basis for determining the notes. For the fact that our hearing is a feeling simple in itself provides no ground for a convincing objection. Even what gives us a simple impression may, alike in its nature and as it exists, be something inherently varied and essentially connected with something else. For example, if we see blue or yellow, green or red colours in their specific purity, they likewise have the appearance of being wholly and simply determinate, while violet is easily seen as a mixture of red and blue. Nevertheless even pure blue is not something simple, but a specific relation of interpenetration of light and dark. Religious feelings and a sense of justice in this or that case seem equally simple, and yet everything religious, every legal relation contains a variety of particular features, and it is their unity which gives rise to the simple feeling. In the same way, however true it is that we hear and have a feeling for a note as something purely simple in itself, the note still rests on a variety which, because the note arises from the trembling of a body and therefore falls with its vibrations within time, is to be derived from the specific character of this trembling in time, i.e. from the specific number of vibrations within a specific time. To further particulars of this derivation I will devote the following remarks.
The notes that harmonize directly and whose difference in sound is not perceptible as an opposition are those in which the numerical relation of their vibrations remains of the simplest kind, whereas those that do not harmonize naturally have more complex proportions. Octaves are an example of the first kind. If we tune a string whose specific vibrations give the keynote and then divide it equally, the second half has just as many vibrations as the first in the Same period of time. If the string giving the keynote vibrates twice and the shorter string thrice, the latter gives a fifth; the proportion of four to five produces a third. It is otherwise with a second and a seventh which are eight to nine and eight to fifteen respectively.
(ββ) Now we have seen already that these proportions cannot be selected by chance but must contain an inner necessity both for their particular characters and for their ensemble; consequently the single intervals determined by such numerical proportions cannot remain indifferent to one another but have to close together into a whole. But the first ensemble of sounds arising in this way is not a concrete harmony of different notes but a wholly abstract systematic succession of notes according to their simplest relations to one another and their position in their ensemble. This gives us the simple series of notes called a scale. The basic determinant of the scale is the keynote which is repeated in its octave, and the other six notes are spread within this double limit which, since the keynote harmonizes with itself directly in its octave, is a reversion into itself. The other notes of the scale either harmonize directly with the keynote as the third and fifth do, or have in contrast with it a more essential difference of sound, as the second and seventh have, and they are arranged in a specific order of succession, the details of which, however, I will not explain further here.
(γγ) From this [diatonic] scale, in the third place, the different keys arise. Each note of the scale can itself be made again the key-note for a new particular series of notes arranged according to the same law as the first was. With the development of the scale into a greater wealth of notes, the number of keys has been automatically increased; modern music, for example, moves in a greater multiplicity of keys than Greek music did. The different notes of the scale, as we saw, are related to one another either by immediate correspondence in harmony or by an essential deviation and difference, and it follows that the series of keynotes arising from these notes either display a closer affinity and therefore immediately permit a modulation from one to another or, alien to one another, are not susceptible of such an immediate transition. But, furthermore, the keys become separated into the differences between major and minor, and, finally, owing to the keynote on which they are based, they have a specific character which corresponds again on its side to a particular mode of feeling, e.g. to sorrow, joy, grief, incitation to courage, etc. In this sense the Greeks even in their day wrote much about the difference of keys and used and developed them in various ways.
(γ) The third main point, with which we may conclude our brief suggestions on the theory of harmony, concerns the chiming together of the notes themselves, i.e. the system of chords.
(αα) Up to this point we have seen that the intervals form a whole, yet in the first instance this totality unfolds, in the scales and keys, into mere rows of separate sounds where each note ill succession appears individual on its own account. At this point the sound was still abstract because it was always only one determinant, of it that was in evidence. But the notes were in fact what they were only in virtue of their relation to one another, and thus the must sound itself also gain existence as this concrete sound, i.e. different notes have to close together into one and the same sound. This combination of sounds, in which the number of notes united is of no essential consequence so that even two notes may form such a unity, is the essential nature of the chord. The determinate character of the individual notes cannot be left to chance or caprice; they must be regulated by an inner conformity to law and be arranged in their order of succession. Consequently the like conformity to law will have to enter for the chords also in order to determine what sort of grouping of notes is permissible for musical use and what is not. These laws alone provide us with the theory of harmony in the strict sense, and it is in accordance with this theory that the chords once again unfold into an inherently necessary system.
(ββ) In this system particular and different chords are developed because it is always specific notes that chime in together. We are therefore concerned at once with a totality of particular chords. As for the most general division of this totality, the detailed points are valid here again which I touched on cursorily in dealing with intervals, scales, and keys.
The first kind of chords consists of those formed from notes which harmonize with one another immediately. In these notes no opposition or contradiction arises and their complete concord is unimpaired. This is the case with the so-called ‘consonant’ chords, the basis of which is the triad [or ‘common chord']. Of course this consists of the keynote, the third or mediant, and fifth or dominant. In this case the conception of harmony, indeed the very nature of that conception, is expressed in its simplest form. For we have before us an ensemble of different notes which nevertheless display this difference as an undisturbed unity; this is an immediate identity which yet does not lack particularization and mediation, while at the same time the mediation transcends the independence of the different notes; it may not be content with the to and fro of a changing relationship [between the notes] but actually brings their unification about and in that way [the chord] reverts to immediacy in itself.
But, secondly, what is still lacking in the different sorts of triad, into the details of which I cannot enter here, is the actual appearance of a deeper opposition. But, as we saw earlier, the scale contains, over and above those notes that harmonize with one another without any opposition, other notes that cancel this harmony. Such notes are the diminished and the augmented seventh. Since these belong likewise to the ensemble of notes, they must also gain an entry into the triad. But, if this happens, that immediate unity and consonance is destroyed, because a note is added which sounds essentially different, and in this way alone does a specific difference really enter, and indeed an opposition. What constitutes the real depth of the note-series is the fact that it goes on even to essential oppositions and does not fight shy of their sharpness and discordance. For the true Concept is an inherent unity, though not a merely immediate one but one essentially split internally and falling apart into contradictions. On these lines, for example, in my Logic I have expounded the Concept as subjectivity, but this subjectivity, as an ideal transparent unity, is lifted into its opposite, i.e. objectivity; indeed, as what is purely ideal, it is itself only one-sided and particular, retaining contrasted with itself something different and opposed to it, namely objectivity; and it is only genuine subjectivity if it enters this opposition and then overcomes and dissolves it. In the actual world too there are higher nature who are given power to endure the grief of inner opposition and to conquer it. If music is to express artistically both the inner meaning and the subjective feeling of the deepest things, e.g. of religion and in particular the Christian religion in which the abysses of grief form a principal part, it must possess in the sphere of its notes the means capable of representing the battle of opposites. These means it gains in the so-called dissonant chords of the seventh and ninth but what these indicate more specifically is a matter on which I cannot enter further here.
If on the other hand we look, in the third place, at the general nature of these chords, the further important point is that they keep opposites, even in this form of contradiction, within one and the same unity. But to say that opposites, just as opposites, should be in unity is plainly contradictory and invalid. Opposites as such have, owing to their nature, no firm support either in themselves or in their opposition. On the contrary, in their opposition they perish themselves. Harmony therefore must go beyond such chords as present to the ear nothing but a contradiction which must be resolved if satisfaction is to be given to the ear and the heart. Consequently along with the contradiction there is immediately given the necessity for a resolution of the discords and a return to the triad. Only this movement, as the return of the identity into itself, is what is simply true. But in music this complete identity itself is only possible as a dispersal of its essential features in time and they therefore become a succession; yet they prove their intimate connection by displaying themselves as the necessary movement of a progress founded upon itself and as an essential course of change.
(γγ) This brings us to a third point to which we have to give our attention. We saw that the scale is a series of successive sounds which is fixed in itself although primarily still abstract; so now the chords too do not remain separate and independent but acquire an inner bearing on one another and the need of change and progress. Although this progress may acquire a more significant area of change than is possible for scales, yet in it there must be no ingredient of mere caprice; on the contrary, the movement from chord to chord must rest on the nature partly of the chords themselves, partly of the keys into which they pass. In this matter the theory of music has laid down a multitude of prohibitions; but to explain and establish these might involve us in all too difficult and extensive discussions. Therefore I will let these few very general remarks suffice.
To recapitulate what we were concerned with in relation to the particular media of musical expression, we treated first the way of dealing with the temporal duration of notes in respect of time, beat, bar, and rhythm. We then proceeded to the actual notes, and there, first, to the sound of instruments and the human voice; secondly, to the fixed proportions determining the intervals and their abstract serial succession in the scales and different keys; thirdly, to the laws of the particular chords and their modulation into one another. The final sphere in which the earlier ones form into a unity, and in this identity provide the basis for the first genuinely free development and unification of the notes, is melody.
Harmony comprises only the essential proportions constituting the necessary law for the world of notes; yet, as little as the beat, bar and rhythm, are they already in themselves music proper, for, on the contrary, they are only the substantive basis, the ground and soil which conforms to law and on which the soul expatiates in its freedom. The poetic element in music, the language of the soul, which pours out into the notes the inner joy and sorrow of the heart, and in this outpouring mitigates and rises above the natural force of feeling by turning the inner life’s present transports into an apprehension of itself, into a free tarrying with itself, and by liberating the heart in this way from the pressure of joys and sorrows – this free sounding of the soul in the field of music – this is alone melody. This final domain is the higher poetic element in music, the sphere of its properly artistic inventions in the use of the elements considered hitherto, and this is now above all what we would have to discuss. Yet here precisely those difficulties that were mentioned earlier stand in our way. On the one hand, a spacious and well-founded treatment of the subject would require a more exact knowledge of the rules of composition and a far wider acquaintance with the masterpieces of music than I possess or have been able to acquire, because from real scholars and practicing musicians – least of all from the latter who are frequently the most unintelligent of men – we seldom hear anything definite and detailed on these matters. On the other hand, it is implicit in the nature of music itself that it is and should be less permissible in than it is in the other arts to take account of and to emphasize specific and particular points in a more general way. For however far music too adopts a spiritual subject-matter and makes it its business to express the inner meaning of this topic or the inner movements of feeling, still just because this subject-matter is apprehended on its inner side or reverberates as subjective feeling, it remains indefinite and vague; and the musical changes do not always correspond at the same time to changes in a feeling or an idea, a thought or an individual person, but are a purely musical development where the artist plays with himself and into which he introduces method. For these reasons I will confine myself to the following general observations which have struck me and which seem interesting.
(α) In its free deployment of notes the melody does float independently above the bar, rhythm, and harmony, and yet on the other hand it has no other means of actualization except the rhythmical measured movement of the notes in their essential and inherently necessary relations. The movement of the melody is therefore confined to these media of its existence and it may not seek to win an existence in them which conflicts with their inherently necessary conformity to law. But in this close link with harmony the melody does not forgo its freedom at all; it only liberates itself from the subjectivity of arbitrary caprice in fanciful developments and bizarre changes and only acquires its true independence precisely in this way. For genuine freedom does not stand opposed to necessity as an alien and therefore pressing and suppressing might; on the contrary, it has this substantive might as its own indwelling essence, identical with itself, and in its demands it is therefore so far following its own laws and satisfying its own nature that to depart from these prescriptions would be to turn away from itself and be untrue to itself. Conversely, however, it is obvious that the bar, rhythm, and harmony are, taken by themselves, only abstractions which in their isolation have no musical worth, but can acquire a genuinely musical existence only through and within the melody as the essential features and aspects of the melody itself. In thus bringing into an accord the difference between harmony and melody there lies the chief secret of the greatest compositions.
(β) Secondly, the following points seem to me to be of importance in connection with the particular character of melody.
(αα) First, in relation to its harmonic course, a melody can be restricted to a quite simple range of chords and keys by moving within the limits of the notes which harmonize with one another without any opposition and which it then uses purely as a basis in order to find there more general points of support for its further figuration and movement. For example, song melodies, which need not on this account be superficial at all but may express depth of soul, are commonly allowed to move within the simplest harmonic proportions. They do not, as it were, make a problem of the more difficult complications of chords and keys, but are content with such progressions and modulations as, in order to produce a harmony, do not push further on to sharp oppositions, and require no manifold mediations before the satisfying unity is established. Of course this sort of treatment may lead to shallowness too, as in many modern French and Italian melodies where the harmonic Succession is of a wholly superficial kind, while the composer tries to substitute for what he lacks in this respect only a piquant charm of rhythm or other seasonings. In general, however, the emptiness of a melody is not a necessary effect of the simplicity of a harmonic basis.
(ββ) Secondly, a further difference consists in the fact that a melody is no longer developed, as in the first case, simply in a succession of simple notes on the basis of a relatively independent forward-moving harmonic series; on the contrary each single note of the melody is filled out as a concrete whole into a chord and thereby acquires a wealth of sound and is so closely interwoven with the course of the melody that no such clear distinction can any longer be made between an independent and self-explanatory melody and a harmony providing only the accompanying points of support and a firm ground and basis. In that case harmony and melody form one and the same compact whole, and a change in the one is at the same time necessarily a change in the other. This is especially the case, for example, in chorales set for four voices. Similarly one and the same melody may so weave through several voices that this interlacing may form a progression of harmonies, or in the same way there may even be different melodies worked harmonically into one another so that the concurrence of specific notes in these melodies affords a harmony, as e.g. occurs often in, Bach’s compositions. In that case development is split into progressions deviating from one another in numerous ways; they seem to draw along beside one another independently or to be interwoven with one another, and yet they retain an essential harmonic relation to one another and this then introduces again in this way a necessary match between them.
(γγ) In such a mode of treatment more profound music not only may push its movements up to the very limits of immediate consonance, indeed may even first transgress them in order then to return into itself, but, on the contrary, it must tear apart the simple first harmony into dissonances. For such oppositions alone are the basis of the deeper relations and secrets of harmony which have a necessity of their own, and thus the deeply impressive movements of the melody also have their basis solely in these deep harmonic relations. Boldness in musical composition therefore abandons a purely consonant progression, goes on to oppositions, summons all the starkest contradictions and dissonances and gives proof of its own power by stirring up all the powers of harmony; it has the certainty nevertheless of being able to allay the battles of these powers and thereby to celebrate the satisfying triumph of melodic tranquility. We have here a battle between a battle between imagination’s freedom to give itself up to its soaring and the necessity of those harmonic relations which imagination needs for its expression and in which its own significance lies. But if the chief thing is harmony, the use of all its means, and the boldness of the battle in this use and against these means, then the composition easily becomes awkward and pedantic, because either it actually lacks freedom in its movement or at least it does not let the triumph of that freedom emerge in its completeness.
(γ) In every melody, thirdly, the properly melodic element, i.e, what can be sung, must appear, no matter in what kind of music, as the dominant and independent element which in all the wealth of its expression is neither forgotten nor lost. Accordingly, melody is the infinite determinability and possibility of the advance of the notes, but it must be so regulated that what we apprehend is always an inherently total and perfect whole. This whole does contain variety and it has an inner progress, but, being a whole, it must be firmly rounded in itself, and thus needs a definite beginning and end, so that the middle is only the mediation between the beginning and the termination. Only as this movement, which never runs off into vagueness but is articulated in itself and returns into itself, does melody correspond to that free self-subsistence of subjective life which it is its task to express. In this way alone does music in its own element of inwardness perfect the immediate expression of the inner life, and it imparts to that expression, immediately becoming inner, the ideality and liberation which, being obedient to the necessity of harmonic laws, yet at the same time lift the soul to the apprehension of a higher sphere.
After indicating the general character of music we have considered the particular guides necessary for fashioning the notes and their temporal duration. But with melody we have entered the sphere of free artistic invention and actual musical creation and so the question arises at once of a subject-matter which is to gain an artistically adequate expression in rhythm, harmony, and melody. The establishment of the general sorts of this expression gives us the final point of view from which we now still have to cast a glance at the different provinces of music. In this matter the first thing is to emphasize the following difference.
(i) As we saw earlier, music may be an accompaniment, if its spiritual content is not simply seized in the sense of its abstract inwardness or as subjective feeling but enters into the musical movement exactly as it has been already formulated by the imagination and put into words. (ii) On the other hand music tears itself free from such a previously ready-made content and makes itself independent in its own field so that either, if it still makes some specific content its general concern, it immerses that content directly in melodies and their harmonic elaboration, or it can rest satisfied with the entirely independent sounds and notes as such and their harmonic and melodic figuration. Although in a totally different field, there recurs here a difference similar to what we have seen in architecture as that between independent architecture and architecture that serves a purpose. But music as an accompaniment is essentially freer and it enters into a much closer unity with its content than can always be the case in architecture.
In music as it exists, this difference is marked by the difference in kind between vocal and instrumental music. But we must not take this difference in a purely external way as if it were simply that what is used in vocal music is only the sound of the human voice and in instrumental music the various sounds of the other instruments; on the contrary, in singing, the voice speaks words which give us the idea of a specific subject-matter. The result is that if both sides, the notes and the words, are not to fall apart unrelated and indifferent to one another, music by being a sung word can only have the task, so far as music can execute it, of making the musical expression adequate to this subject-matter which, by being contained in words, is brought before our minds in its dearer definition and no longer remains a property of vaguer feeling. But despite this unification, the topic envisaged can be apprehended and read by itself in a libretto and therefore our minds distinguish it from the musical expression. Consequently the music added to a libretto is an accompaniment, whereas in sculpture and painting the content represented does not come before our minds independently and outside its artistic form. On the other hand, neither must we take the nature of such accompaniment in the sense of its being the servant of a purpose, for the truth is precisely the reverse: the text is the servant of the music and it has no worth other than creating for our minds a better idea of what the artist has chosen as the subject of his work. That being so, music preserves this freedom principally by the fact that it does not apprehend this content at all in the way that a libretto makes it intelligible, but on the contrary it masters a medium other than that of perception and ideas. In this connection I have indicated, in dealing with the general character of music, that music must express the inner life as such, but this life can be of two kinds. To get at the heart of an object may mean on the one hand grasping it not as it appears in external reality but in its ideal significance; on the other hand, it can also mean expressing it just as it is living in the sphere of subjective feeling. Both modes of apprehension are possible for music. I will try to make this more nearly intelligible.
In old church-music, e.g. in a Crucifixus, the deep elements lying in the nature of Christ’s Passion, e.g. this divine suffering, death, and entombment, are often so treated that what is expressed is not a subjective feeling or emotion of sympathy or individual human grief at these events, but as it were the thing itself, i.e. the profundity of its meaning moves through the harmonies and their melodic course. Of course even in this case the work is meant to appeal to the listener’s feeling; he should not contemplate the grief of the Crucifixion and the entombment, should not merely form a general idea of it. On the contrary, in his inmost self he should live through the inmost meaning of this death and this divine suffering, immerse himself in it with his whole heart so that now the thing becomes in him something apprehended which extinguishes everything else and fills him with this one thing. Similarly, if his work of art is to have the power of producing this impression, the composer must immerse his heart entirely in the thing and in it alone and not have familiarized himself with only a subjective feeling of it and tried to make that alone alive in notes addressed to ‘inner sense’.
Conversely, I can read a book or a libretto which relates an event, presents an action, or puts feelings into words, and as a result my most heartfelt feeling may be most vigorously stimulated so that I shed tears, etc. This subjective feature, feeling namely, may accompany every human deed and action, every expression of the inner life, and it may be aroused even by the perception of every action and the apprehension of any occurrence. This feature music is equally entirely able to organize, and in that event, by its impression on the listener, softens, pacifies, and idealizes the sympathetic feeling to which he finds himself disposed. Thus in both cases the topic resounds for the inner self, and, just because music masters the self in its simple self-concentration, it can for that self-set limits to the roving freedom of thinking, ideas, and contemplation and to a passage beyond the specific topic at issue, because it keeps the heart firmly to one particular thing, engages it in that topic, and, within this sphere, moves and occupies the feelings.
This is the sense in which we have to discuss music here as an accompaniment, namely that, in the way indicated, it develops the inward side of a topic already set before our minds by the libretto. But because music can discharge this task in vocal music especially and then besides links instruments with the human voice, it is customary to describe the instrumental music itself preferably as an accompaniment. Of course it does accompany the voice and in that case should not try to be absolutely independent or the chief thing; yet in this alliance vocal music comes more directly under the above-mentioned category of an accompanying sound because the voice utters articulate words for intellectual apprehension and the song is only a further modification of the burden of these words, namely an elaboration of them for the heart’s inner feeling, while, in the case of really and purely instrumental music, utterance for the intellect disappears and this music must be restricted to its own means of a purely musical mode of expression.
Finally to these differences a third is added, and it must not be overlooked. Earlier on I drew attention to the fact that the living actuality of a musical work must always be reproduced anew. In this respect sculpture and painting amongst the visual arts have the advantage. The sculptor or the painter conceives his work and executes it completely; the whole of the artistic activity of creation is concentrated in one and the same individual, and in this way the inner correspondence between invention and actual execution wins easily. The architect, however, is worse off because he needs the many activities of numerous branches of craftsmanship and these he has to entrust to other hands. The composer likewise has to give his work over to other hands and throats, but with the difference that in this case the technical execution and the expression of his work’s inner animating spirit requires the activity of an artist over again, not that of a mere craftsman. Especially in this connection, while in the other arts no new discoveries have been made, nowadays again, as happened long ago in the older Italian opera, two miracles have occurred in music: one in the conception, the other in the genius of virtuosi in the execution. The result is that, in regard to the latter, the notion of what music is and what it can do has been more and more widened, even for greater experts.
This gives us the following main points for the division of these final considerations about music:
First, we have to concern ourselves with music as an accompaniment and to ask of what ways of expressing a content it is generally capable.
Secondly, we must raise the same question about the precise character of independent music.
Thirdly, we will end with a few remarks about the execution of musical works of art.
A direct consequence of what I have already said about the respective positions of libretto and music is the demand that in this first sphere of music the musical expression must be far more strictly associated with a specific topic than is the case when music may surrender itself to its movements and inspirations independently. For from the very start the libretto gives us distinct ideas and tears our minds away from that more dreamlike element of feeling which is without ideas and in which we need not abandon either wandering to and fro undisturbed or the freedom to derive this or that feeling from the music or to feel ourselves moved in this that or the other way. But in this interweaving of music and words music must not sink to such servitude that, in order to reproduce the words of the libretto in their really entire character, it forgets the free flow of its own movements and thereby, instead of creating a self-complete work of art, produces merely the intellectual trick of using musical means of expression for the truest possible indication of a subject-matter outside them and already cut and dried without them. Every perceptible compulsion, every cramping of free production, breaks up the impression [to be made by music]. Yet, on the other hand, music must avoid what has become the fashion now with most modern Italian composers, i.e. it must not emancipate itself almost entirely from the contents of the libretto, which in that case seem to be a chain because of their definiteness, and then seek to approach the character of independent music throughout. This art consists, on the contrary, in being filled with the sense of the spoken words, the situation, the action, etc., and then, out of this inner animation, finding and musically developing a soul-laden expression. This is what all the great composers have done. They produce nothing alien to the words but neither do they let go a-missing either the free outpouring of notes or the undisturbed march and course of the composition which is therefore there on its own account and not on account of the words only.
Within this genuine freedom three different sorts of expression may be distinguished.
(α) I will start with what may be described as the strictly melodic element in the expression. Here it is feeling, the resounding soul, which is to become explicit and to enjoy itself in its expression.
(αα) The human breast, the mood of the heart, i.e., in general, the sphere in which the composer has to move, and melody, this pure resounding of the inner life, is music’s own inmost soul. For a note only acquires a soul-laden expression by having a feeling introduced into it and resounding out of it. In this respect there are already extremely expressive the natural cry of feeling, e.g. the scream of horror, the sobbing of grief, the triumphal shout and thrills of exultant pleasure and joyfulness, etc., and I have already described this sort of expression as the starting-point of music beyond but I have added at the same time that music must go merely natural interjections. This is where the special difference between music and painting lies. Painting can often produce the most beautiful and artistic effect when the painter familiarized himself with the actual form, colouring, and soul-laden expression of the sitter confronting him in a specific situation and environment and he now reproduces entirely true to life what has so impressed him and what he has absorbed. In this instance truth to nature is entirely in place when it coincides with artistic truth. Music, on the other hand, must not reproduce as a natural outburst of passion the expression of feelings as they existed but must animate the sound with a wealth of feeling and develop it into specific notes and their relations. In this way it has to elevate the expression into an element created by and for art alone, in which the simple cry is analysed into a series of notes, into a movement, the change and course of which is supported by harmony and rounded into a whole by melody.
(ββ) This melodic element acquires a more precise meaning and function in relation to the entirety of the human spirit. Sculpture and painting, as fine arts, portray the spiritual inner life in externally existent object, and they liberate the spirit again form this external object of contemplation, because in that object produced by the spirit, the spirit finds itself again and its inner life, while nothing is left over for individual caprice, for arbitrary Ideas, opinions, and reflections, because the content [the inner life] is set forth in the object in its entirely specific individuality. Music, on the contrary, as we have seen more than once, has for such an object only the element of the subjective itself, whereby the inner life therefore coincides with itself and it reverts into itself in its expression which is feeling’s song. Music is spirit, or the soul which resounds directly on its own account and feels satisfaction in its perception of itself. But as a fine art it at once acquires, from the spirit’s point of view, a summons to bridle the emotions themselves as well as their expression, so that there is no being carried away into a bacchanalian rage or whirling tumult of passions, or a resting in the distraction of despair, but on the contrary an abiding peace and freedom in the outpouring of emotion whether in jubilant delight or the deepest grief. The truly ideal music is of this kind, the melodic expression of Palestrina, Durante, Lotti, Pergolesi, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart. Tranquility of soul is never missing in the compositions of these masters; grief is expressed there too, but it is assuaged at once; the clear rhythm inhibits extremes j everything is kept firmly together in a restrained form so that jubilation does not degenerate into a repulsive uproar, and even a lament gives us the most blissful tranquility. In connection with Italian painting I have said already that, even in the deepest grief and the most extreme distraction of soul, that reconciliation with self which even in tears and sorrows preserves the traits of peace and happy assurance is not allowed to be missing. In a profound soul grief remains beautiful, just as what dominates in Harlequin is gracefulness and charm. In the same way, nature has bestowed on the Italians above all the gift of melodic expression. In their older church-music we find at the same time along with the deepest religious worship the pure sense of reconciliation, and, even if grief stirs the depths of the soul, we still find beauty and bliss, the simple grandeur and expatiation of imagination in its variously expressed self-enjoyment. This is a beauty of sensuousness and this melodic satisfaction is often taken to be a purely sensuous enjoyment but it is precisely in the element of sense that art has to move and to lead the spirit on into a sphere in which, as in nature the keynote remains the satisfaction of the self with and in itself.
(γγ) While therefore melody must be the expression of a particular feeling, music makes passion and imagination issue in a stream of notes and therefore should lift the soul above this feeling in which it is immersed, make it hover above its content, and in this way form for it a region where a return out of this immersion can occur unhindered, along with a pure sense of self. This properly constitutes what is really singable, the genuine song of a musical piece. In that case it is not the progress of the specific feeling itself (love, longing, cheerfulness, etc.) which is the principal thing, but the inner life which dominates it, which develops and enjoys its own self alike in grief and joy. The bird on the bough or the lark in the air sings cheerfully and touchingly just in order to sing, just as a natural production without any other aim and without any specific subject-matter, and it is the same with human song and melodious expression. Therefore Italian music, where in particular this principle prevails, often passes over, like poetry, into melodious sound as such and may easily seem to sacrifice, or may actually sacrifice, feeling and its definite expression because it looks only to the enjoyment of art as art, to the melodious sound of the soul in its inner satisfaction. But this is more or less the character of what in general is really properly melodious. Although the pure definiteness of what is expressed is not missing, it is at the same time cancelled because the heart is immersed not in something different or definite but in its self-apprehension, and only so does it, like pure light’s vision of itself, give us the supreme idea of blissful deep feeling and reconciliation.
(ββ) Now just as in sculpture ideal beauty and self-repose must prevail, while painting already advances to characterizing the particular and fulfils a chief task in the energy of its expression of something specific, so music cannot be content with melody as described above. The soul’s pure feeling of itself and the resonant play of its self-apprehension is in the last resort merely a mood and so too general and abstract, and it runs the risk of not merely abandoning a closer indication of the content expressed in the libretto but of becoming purely empty and trivial. But if grief, joy, longing etc. are to resound in the melody, the actual concrete soul in the seriousness of actual life has such moods only in an actual context in specific circumstances, particular situations, events, and actions; etc. If, for instance, a song awakens in us a feeling of mourning or a lament for a loss, the question arises at once: ‘What loss? Is it loss of life with its wealth of interests, or loss of youth, happiness, spouse, or beloved, or loss of children, parents, or friends?’ In this way a further task is imposed on music in relation to the specific subject-matter and the particular relations and situations with which the heart is familiar and in the midst of which it makes its inner life resound in notes, namely the further task of giving to its expression the like particular detail. For music is concerned not with the inner life in the abstract, but with a concrete inner life, the specific content of which is most intimately linked with the specific character of the feeling, so that pari passu with the difference in the content there must essentially enter a difference in the expression. Consequently, the more the heart flings itself with all its might into some particular experience, the more are its emotions intensified; instead of keeping that blissful self-enjoyment of the soul, it becomes distracted and subject to internal struggles and the mutual conflict of passions, and, in a word, it descends to a depth of particularization to which the expression previously considered no longer corresponds. The details of the content are precisely what the libretto provides. In the case of a melody proper, which is less concerned with this specific subject-matter, the finer points of the libretto are only accessories. A song, for example, may have as its words a poem which is a whole containing a variety of shades of moods, perceptions, and ideas, and yet it usually has at bottom the ring of one and the same feeling pervading the whole, and therefore it strikes above all one chord of the heart. To hit this chord and to reproduce it in notes is the chief function of such song-melodies. Such a melody may therefore remain the same throughout the poem and all its lines no matter how variously their meaning is modified, and this repetition so far from impairing the effect may intensify it. The same is true of a landscape where also objects of the most varied kinds are placed before our eyes and yet one and the same fundamental mood and situation of nature animates the whole. Even if such a tune fits some lines of the poem and not others, it must dominate in the song because here the specific sense of the words must not be the prevailing thing; on the contrary, the melody floats simply and on its own account above all the variety. On the other hand, in the case of many compositions which begin every new verse with a new tune, often different from its predecessor in beat, rhythm, and even key, we cannot see why if such essential changes were really necessary, the poem too did not have to change at every verse in metre, rhythm, and arrangement of rhyme.
(αα) But what proves suitable for the song, which is a genuinely musical voice of the soul, is not adequate for every sort of musical expression. We have therefore to emphasize in contrast to melody a second aspect which is of the same importance and which alone makes the song a genuinely musical accompaniment. This is the case in that mode of expression which dominates in recitative. Here there is no self-enclosed melody which comprises as it were the keynote of that content, in whose development the soul apprehends itself as a subject at one with itself; on the contrary, the meaning of the words in its precise specific character is stamped on the notes and it determines whether they are high or low, emphasized or not. In this way music becomes, in distinction from expression in a tune, a declamation in sound, closely tied to the words alike in their meaning and their syntactical connection. What it adds to them as a new element is only a more exalted feeling, and so it stands between melody as such and the speech of poetry. This position thus introduces a freer accentuation which keeps strictly to the specific sense of the individual words; the libretto itself does not need any fixedly determinate metre, and the musical recital, unlike melody, does not require to follow the beat and the rhythm similarly or to be tied down to them; on the contrary this aspect, in connection with accelerando and rallentando, pausing on certain notes and quickly passing over others, can be freely left to the feeling which is moved entirely by the meaning of the words. So too the modulation is not so restricted as it is in melody: start, progression, pause, breaking off, starting again, conclusion – all of this is allowed a more unlimited freedom according to what the libretto to be expressed requires. Unexpected accentuation, less mediated transitions, sudden changes and conclusions are all allowed; and in distinction from the flowing stream of melody, even a mode of expression which is fragmented, broken off, and passionately tom asunder, when this is what the words require, is not disturbing.
(ββ) In this connection, expression in declamation and recitative is evidently equally fitted both for the tranquil consideration and peaceful record of events and also for that feeling-burdened description of the soul which displays the inner life tom into the midst of some situation and awakens the heart, by living tones of the soul, to sympathy with all that moves in that situation. Recitative therefore has its chief application (i) in oratorio, partly as the recitation of a narrative, partly a more lively introduction to a momentary event, (ii) in dramatic song, where, whether it is expressed in abrupt changes, briefly, fragmentarily, or in a storm of aphorisms, it is competent to break up all the nuances of a fleeting communication and every sort of passion in a dialogue with rapid flashes and counter-flashes of expression or alternatively to make them all stream connectedly together. Moreover, in both spheres, epic and dramatic, instrumental music may be added, either quite simply to indicate pauses for the harmonies, or else to interrupt the song with intermezzi which in a similarly characteristic way paint in music other aspects and progressive movements of the situation.
(γγ) Yet what this recitative kind of declamation lacks is precisely the advantage which melody as such has, namely specific articulation and rounding off: the expression of that deep feeling and unity of soul which is indeed inserted into a particular content but in that content manifests precisely the soul’s unity with itself, because it is not distracted by individual features, tom and split hither and thither, but asserts in them only their subjective collocation. Therefore, in relation to such more definite characterization of the topic given to it by the libretto, music cannot be content with recitative and declamation nor can it remain satisfied with the mere difference between melody, which floats in a relative way over the individual words and their details, and recitative which tries to cling as closely as possible to them. On the contrary, it must try to find a middle way, combining these two elements. We may compare this new unification with what we saw coming on the scene earlier in relation to the difference between harmony and melody. Melody adopted harmony as not only its general foundation but its inherently specific and particularized foundation, and therefore instead of losing the freedom of its movements won for them a power and definiteness similar to that acquired by the human organism through its skeleton which hinders inappropriate postures and movements only and gives support and security to appropriate ones. This leads us to a final point of view for considering music as an accompaniment.
(γ) The third mode of expression consists in this, that the melodic song which accompanies a libretto turns towards particular characterization and therefore it refuses to be confronted by the principle of recitative as if that were purely indifferent to it; on the contrary, it makes that principle its own so that there can be bestowed (a) on itself the definiteness which it lacked, and (b) on the characterizing declamation the organic articulation and fully unified completeness [which it had lacked on its side]. For even melody, as was observed above, could not remain altogether empty and vague. Above, I gave special emphasis to one point only about melody, namely that in each and every content what is expressed is a mood of the soul, preoccupied with itself and its deep feelings and blissful in this unity with itself, and that this mood corresponds to melody as such because the latter, regarded musically, is the like unity and circular return into itself. But I said this only because this point indicates the specific character of melody in the abstract and differentiates it from recitative and declamation. But the further task of melody consists, we may say, in its making into its own property what at first seems necessarily to move outside it and in its acquiring a truly concrete expression by means of this plenishing which makes it as much declamatory as melodious. On the other side, therefore, the declamation is no longer there separate and independent but has its own one-sidedness supplemented by being drawn into the melodic expression. This constitutes the necessity of this concrete unity.
In order to go into further detail, the following distinctions must be made:
First, we must cast a glance at the character of the libretto which is suited to musical composition, because the specific meaning of the words has now proved to be of essential importance for music and its expression.
Secondly, a new element has entered the composition itself, namely the characterizing declamation, which we must therefore consider in its relation to the principle that we originally found in melody.
Thirdly, we will review the genres of music within which this sort of musical expression has its principal place.
(αα) At the stage with which we are concerned now, music does not merely accompany the text in general but, as we saw, has to comply with its more detailed character. It is therefore a disastrous prejudice to suppose that the character of the text is a matter of indifference so far as composition goes. On the contrary, great music [when an accompaniment] has as its basis an excellent text which the composers have selected with true seriousness or have written themselves. For the material treated by an artist can never be a matter of indifference to him, and this is all the more true of a musician the more that poetry has worked out and settled for him in advance the precise epic, lyric, or dramatic form of the subject-matter.
The chief thing to be demanded of a good libretto is that its content shall have an inherent and true solidity. Nothing musically excellent and profound can be conjured out of what is inherently flat, trivial, trumpery, and absurd; the composer can add what seasoning and spices he likes, but a roasted cat will never make a hare-pie. It is true that in purely melodious pieces of music, the libretto is on the whole less decisive, but even these crave words some real meaning. Still, on the other hand, what the words convey must not be all too difficult thoughts or profound philosophy, as, for example, the grand sweep of the ‘pathos’ in Schiller’s lyrics soars above any musical expression of lyrical feelings. It is similar with the choruses of Aeschylus and Sophocles, which, with all their depth of insight, are worked out in detail so imaginatively, sensitively, and profoundly, and are so perfect already in their poetic form, that there is nothing left for music to add; it is as if the inner life is left with no scope for playing with this content and developing it in new variations. The newer materials and modes of treatment in the so-called ‘romantic’ poetry are of an opposite kind. They are supposed to be for the most part naïve and popular, but this is all too often a precious, artificial, and screwed up naïveté which instead of being genuine feeling amounts only to forced feelings elaborated by reflection, miserable wistfulness, and self-flattery; it glories in banality, silliness, and vulgarity just as much as, on the other hand, it loses itself in absolutely empty passions, envy, debauchery, devilish wickedness, and more of the like, and it has a self-satisfied delight in its own excellence in the one case as well as in this distraction and worthlessness in the other. Original, simple, serious, impressive feeling is totally lacking here, and when music produces the same in its sphere, nothing does it greater damage.
Thus a genuine content for a libretto is not afforded either by profundity of thought or by self-complacent or worthless feelings. What therefore is most suitable for music is a certain intermediate kind of poetry which we Germans scarcely allow to be poetry at all, whereas the French and Italians have had a real sense for it and skill in it: a poetry which in lyrics is true, extremely simple, indicating the situation and the feeling in few words, and in drama without all too ramified complications, clear and lively, not working out details but concerned as a rule to provide sketches rather than to produce works completely elaborated poetically. In this case, and this is what is necessary, the composer is given only a general foundation on which he can erect his building on the lines of his own invention, exhausting every motive, and moving in a living way in every direction. For since music is to be associated with the words, these must not paint the matter in hand down to the last detail because otherwise the musical declamation becomes petty, dispersed, and drawn too much in different directions so that unity is lost and the total effect weakened. In this matter errors of judgement are all too often made about the excellence or inadmissibility of a libretto. How often, for example, have we not heard chatter to the effect that the libretto of The Magic Flute is really lamentable, and yet this ‘bungling compilation’ is amongst the finest opera libretti. On this occasion, after many mad, fantastic, and trivial productions, Schikaneder has hit the nail on the head. The realm of night, the queen, the realm of the sun, the mysteries, initiations, wisdom, love, tests, and along with these a sort of commonplace morality excellent in its general principles – all this combined with the depth, the bewitching loveliness and soul, of the music broadens and fills the imagination and warms the heart.
To cite still further examples, for religious music the old Latin words for High Mass, etc., are unsurpassed because they set forth in the greatest simplicity and brevity the most general doctrines of the faith and the corresponding essential stages in the feelings and minds of the congregation of the faithful, and they allow the musician the greatest scope for composition. The Requiem and passages from the Psalms, etc., are equally serviceable. In a similar way Handel has assembled, into a rounded whole, texts drawn from religious doctrines themselves and above all from the Bible and situations with a symbolic connection, etc.
As for lyric, particularly suitable for composition are deeply felt shorter poems, especially those that are simple, laconic, profound in sentiment which express with force and soul some mood and condition of the heart, or even those that are lighter and merrier. Hardly any nation lacks poems of this kind.
For the dramatic field I will mention only Metastasio and Marmontel, this Frenchman with his wealth of feeling, his exquisite culture, and his lovableness, who taught Piccinni French, and who could link grace and cheerfulness in drama with skill in developing an action and making it interesting. Above all, however, preference must be given to the texts of the more famous operas of Gluck. They are concerned with simple motives and keep within the sphere of the most sterling objects of feeling; they sketch love of mother, spouse, brother, or sister, as well as friendship, honour, etc., and these simple motives and their essential collisions are developed peacefully. In this way passion remains throughout pure, great, noble, and of plastic simplicity.
(ββ) A correspondence must be established by music between such a content and music which is both melodious and characteristic in its expression. If this is to be possible, the text must contain the seriousness of the heart, the comedy and tragic greatness of passions, the depths of religious ideas and feeling, and the powers and fates of the human breast; moreover, the composer too on his side must identify himself with these with his whole mind and must have lived through this content and felt it all with his whole heart.
Further, equally important is the relation into which the two sides, the characteristic and the melodic, must be brought. In this matter the chief demand seems to me to be that the victory shall always be given to the melody as the all-embracing unity and not to the disunion of characteristic passages scattered and separated individually from one another. For example, today’s dramatic music often looks for its effect in violent contrasts by forcing into one and the same musical movement opposite passions which are artistically at variance. So, for instance, it expresses cheerfulness, a wedding, festivities, and then shoves in at the same time hate, revenge, and enmity, so that in the midst of pleasure, joy, and dance-music there is a storm of violent quarrels and most repugnant discord. Such contrasts between things rent from one another toss us from one side to another without giving us any unity and they are all the more opposed to the harmony of beauty the more sharply characterized are the opposites in their direct contact with one another; and in that case there can be no question of pleasure and the return of the inner life into itself in a melody. In general the union of melody with characterization involves the risk that the more specific sketching of the content may overstep the delicately drawn limits of musical beauty, especially when it is a question of expressing violence, selfishness, wickedness, impetuosity, and other extremes of one-sided passions. So soon as music commits itself to the abstraction of characterization in detail, it is inevitably led almost astray into sharpness and harshness, into what is thoroughly unmelodious and unmusical, and is reduced even to the misuse of discords.
The like is the case in respect of the particular characterizing passages. If these are kept fixedly in view and strongly pronounced, they quickly become loosened from one another and become as it were immobile and independent, whereas in the musical development, which must be an essential advance and a firm relationship between the parts of this progress, isolation of them at once disturbs the flow and the unity in a disastrous way.
From these points of view, truly musical beauty lies in the fact that, while an advance is made from pure melody to characterization, still within this particularization melody is always preserved as the carrying and unifying soul just as, for example, within the characteristic detail of a Raphael painting the note of beauty is always still retained. Further, melody is meaningful, but in all definition of its meaning it is the animation which permeates and holds together the whole, and the characteristic particulars appear only as an emergence of specific aspects which are always led back by the inner life to this unity and animation. But in this matter to .hit the happy medium is of greater difficulty in music than in the other arts because music more easily breaks up into these opposed modes of expression. After all, judgement of musical works has in almost every period been divided: some give the preponderance to melody, others prefer characteristic detail. For example, even in his operas Handel often demanded a strictness of expression for every single lyrical feature and already in his day had to encounter battles enough with his Italian singers, until at last when the public sided with the Italians he turned over entirely to the composition of oratorios in which his productive gift found its richest field. Further, the long and lively dispute between the Gluckists and the Piccinnists in Gluck’s time became famous. Again, Rousseau for his part has given preference to the richly melodic music of the Italians over the older French music with its absence of melody. Finally people have disputed in a similar way for or against Rossini and the newer Italian school. Rossini’s opponents decry his music as a mere empty tickling of the ear; but when we become more accustomed to its melodies, we find this music on the contrary full of feeling and genius, piercing the mind and heart, even if it does not have to do with the sort of characterization beloved of our strict German musical intellect. For it is true that all too often Rossini is unfaithful to his text and with his free melodies soars over all the heights, and so the result is that we can only choose whether to stick to the subject-matter and grumble at the music that no longer harmonizes with it, or alternatively to abandon the subject-matter and take unhindered delight in the free inspirations of the composer and enjoy with fullness of soul the soul that they contain.
(γγ) In conclusion I will make the following brief remarks on the principal genres of music as an accompaniment.
The first chief kind we may call church music. It has to do not with the individual’s subjective feeling but with the substantive content of all feeling or with the general feeling of the Church as a whole; it therefore remains for the most part solid, as an epic is, even if it does not acquaint us with events as such. But how an artistic treatment can still be epical without relating events is something that we have to explain later when we come to a detailed treatment of epic poetry. This serious religious music is amongst the deepest and most effective things that any art can produce. In so far as it is related to the priest’s intercession for the congregation, it has its proper place within Roman Catholic worship as the Mass, and in general as a musical exaltation in connection with various ecclesiastical ceremonies and feasts. The Protestants too have given us similar music with the greatest depth of religious sense as well as of musical solidity and wealth of invention, as, above all, for example, Bach, a master whose grand, truly Protestant, robust, and yet as it were learned genius we have come only in recent times to admire completely. But in distinction from the trend in Catholicism, what has principally been developed here is the form of the oratorio which has been perfected in Protestantism only, though it originates in commemorations of the Passion. It is true that in Protestantism nowadays, music is no longer so closely associated with actual worship and it does not intrude into divine service, and indeed it has become more of a scholarly exercise than a living production.
Secondly, lyrical music expresses in melody the mood of the individual soul, and must keep itself so far as possible free from the purely characteristic and declamatory, although it too may proceed to adopt into its expression the specific meaning of the words, whether the meaning is religious or of some other kind. But stormy passions, unassuaged and unending, the unresolved discord of the heart, and mere inner distraction are less fitted for independent expression in lyric and find their better place as part and parcel of particular sections of dramatic music.
Lastly, music develops likewise into dramatic music. Even Greek tragedy was musical, but in it music had no preponderance, for in strictly poetic works priority must always be given to an imaginative treatment of ideas and feelings, and since music’s harmonic and melodic development had not risen in Greece to the level it reached later in Christian times, it could only serve in a rhythmical way to give a living enhancement to the musical sound of the words and make it more impressive for the feelings. However, after it had already come to perfection in church-music, and to a great extent in music’s lyrical expression too, dramatic music has won an independent position in modern opera, operetta, etc. Operetta, however, so far as song goes, is a rather trivial intermediate sort, which mixes up, quite disconnectedly, speech and song, the musical and the unmusical, prosaic words and melodious singing. It is commonly said that the singing in dramas is generally unnatural, but this reproach misses the mark and could have turned rather against opera where from beginning to end every idea, feeling, passion, and resolve is accompanied by and expressed through song. For this reason operetta is still to be justified, on the contrary, for making music enter, because in it feelings and passions are stirred in a living way and in general prove amenable to musical description; all the same its juxtaposition of prosaic chatter in the dialogue and artistically treated interludes of song always remains an impropriety, for in that case liberation by art is incomplete. In real opera, on the other hand, which treats one entire action musically throughout, we are once and for all transferred from prose to a higher artistic world. To the character of this world the entire work adheres, if the music takes for its chief content the inner side of feeling, the individual and universal moods aroused in different situations, and the conflicts and struggles of passions, in order to make these conspicuous for the first time as a result of the most complete expression of the way they affect us. In vaudeville, conversely, where separate, rather striking jeux d’ esprit in rhyme are accompanied by favourite tunes already familiar in other contexts, the singing is as it were ironical about itself. The fact of singing is supposed to be a cheerful veneer or a sort of parody; the chief thing is an understanding of the words and the jokes, and when the singing stops we just have a laugh that there was any singing at all.
Since melody is complete and perfectly finished and self-reposing, we were able to compare it with plastic sculpture, while in musical declamation we recognized again the model of painting which goes further into detail in its treatment. In such a more specific characterization [of the subject-matter] a wealth of traits is unfolded which the always simpler movement of the human voice cannot differentiate in all their richness, and therefore an instrumental accompaniment is added here, the more that music develops in variety and vitality.
Secondly, in addition to the melody which accompanies a libretto and to the characterizing expression of the words, we have to put forward the other side, namely liberation from a content communicated already on its own account outside the musical notes in the form of specific ideas. The principle of music is the inner life of the individual. But the inmost being of the concrete self is subjectivity as such, undetermined by any fixed content and therefore not compelled to move along one definite line or another but resting on itself in untrammelled freedom. Now if this subjective experience is to gain its full due in music likewise, then music must free itself from a given text and draw entirely out of itself its content, the progress and manner of expression, the unity and unfolding of its work, the development of a principal thought, the episodic intercalation and ramification of others, and so forth: and in doing all this it must limit itself to purely musical means, because the meaning of the whole is not expressed in words. This is the case’ in the sphere of what I have already called ‘independent’ music. What music as an accompaniment is to express is something outside itself and its expression is related not to itself as music but to another art, namely poetry. But if music is to be purely musica1, then it must spurn this element which is not its own and, now that it has won complete freedom, it must be completely released from the determinate sphere of words. This is the point which we now have to discuss further.
Even in the sphere of music as an accompaniment we saw such an act of liberation already beginning. For while the poetic words did repress the music and make it subservient, music did also hover in blissful peace above the details of the precise words or cut) itself free from the ideas they expressed in order to indulge itself as it liked, whether cheerfully or sorrowfully. We find a similar, phenomenon again in the case of listeners too, i.e. the public, especially in relation to dramatic music. Opera, namely, has ingredients of many kinds: landscape or some other locality, march of the action, events, processions, costumes, etc., and, on the other side, passion and its expression. In this case the contents are double: the external action and the inner feeling. Now although the action is what holds all the individual parts together, its course is less musical and is for the most part elaborated in recitative. The listener easily frees himself from this subject-matter, he gives no special attention to the statements and repetitions of the recitative, and sticks simply to what is really musical and melodious. This is especially the case, as I said earlier, with the Italians; most of their more recent operas, after all, are so fashioned throughout that, instead of listening to the musical twaddle or other trivialities, people prefer to talk themselves, or amuse themselves otherwise, and only attend again with full pleasure to the strictly musical parts which in that case are enjoyed purely musically. It follows from this that the composer and the public are on the verge of liberating themselves altogether from the meaning of the words and treating and enjoying the music on its own account as independent music.
(α) But the proper sphere of this independence cannot be vocal music, an accompaniment always tied to a text, but instrumental music. For the voice, as I have already stated, is the sounding belonging to the entire subjective life which is not without ideas and words also and now in its own voice and song finds the adequate organ when it wishes to express and apprehend the inner world of its ideas, permeated as they are by an inner concentration of feeling. But the reason for an accompanying text disappears for instruments, so that here what may begin to dominate is music restricting itself to its own, its very own, sphere.
(β) Such music whether of single instruments or a whole orchestra proceeds, in quartets, quintets, sextets, symphonies, etc., without any libretto and without human voices and not in accordance with an independent run of ideas; and precisely on this account it is addressed to feeling generally and in the abstract, and this can be expressed in this medium in only a general way. But the chief thing remains the purely musical hither and thither, up and down, of the harmonious and tuneful movements, the progress of the music whether easy-flowing, or more hindered and difficult, deeply striking and incisive, as well as the elaboration of a melody by every musical means, the artistic harmony of the instruments in their sounding as an ensemble, in their succession, their alteration and their seeking and finding themselves. It is especially in this region that an essential difference begins to arise between the dilettante and the expert. What the layman likes most in music is the intelligible expression of feelings and ideas, something tangible, a topic, and therefore turns in preference to music as an accompaniment: whereas the expert who has at his fingers’ ends the inner musical relations between notes and instruments, loves instrumental music in its artistic use of harmonies and melodious interactings and changing forms: he is entirely satisfied by the music itself and he has the closer interest of comparing what he has heard with the rules and laws that are familiar to him so that he can fully criticize and enjoy the composition, although here the inventive genius of the artist may often perplex the expert who is not accustomed to precisely this or that development, modulation, etc. The mere amateur seldom has the benefit of such complete satisfaction, and at once the desire steals over him to supplement this apparently unsubstantial procession of sounds and to find some holds for the spirit to grasp and, in general, specific ideas and a more definite meaning for what rings in his soul. In these circumstances music for him becomes symbolical, but with his attempt at snatching a meaning he is confronted by mysterious enigmas which run swiftly past, cannot always be solved, and in general are capable of all sorts of interpretations.
The composer for his part can of course put into his work a specific meaning, a content consisting of ideas and feelings and their articulated and complete succession, but, conversely, he can also not trouble himself with any such content and make the principal thing the purely musical structure of his work and the ingenuity of such architecture. But in that case the musical production may easily become something utterly devoid of thought and feeling, something needing for its apprehension no previous profound cultivation of mind or heart. On account of this lack of material not only do we see the gift for composition developed at the most tender age but very talented composers frequently remain throughout their life the most ignorant and empty-headed of men. Music is therefore more profound when the composer gives the same attention even in instrumental music to both sides, to the expression of a content (true, a rather vague one) and to the musical. structure, and in that case he is free to give the preference now to melody, now to the depth and difficulty of harmony, now to characterization, or to interweave all these elements.
(γ) From the beginning of this section about independent music we have established as its general principle the composer’s subjective creation of music unhampered by any text. This freedom from a content already fixed on its own account will therefore always more or less carry on into caprice, and caprice must be allowed a scope not strictly definable. For although even this sort of composition has its specific rules and forms to which a mere whim must be made subject, still such laws affect only its more general aspects, and for its details an infinite sphere lies open in which, provided the composer keeps within the limits prescribed by the nature of note-relationships, he can do as he likes and exert his mastery in everything else. Indeed, in the series of the developments of the kinds of instrumental music the composer’s own caprice becomes the untrammeled master along with, in contrast to the fixed course of melodic expression and the textual content of music as an accompaniment, its fancies, conceits, interruptions, ingenious freaks, deceptive agitations, surprising turns, leaps and flashes, eccentricities, and extraordinary effects.
In sculpture and painting we have the work of art before us as the objectively and independently existent result of artistic activity, but not this activity itself as produced and alive. The musical work of art, on the other hand, as we saw, is presented to us only by the action of an executant artist, just as, in dramatic poetry, the whole man comes on the stage, fully alive, and is himself made into an animated work of art.
Just as we have seen music developing in two directions, either undertaking to be adequate to a specific subject-matter, or preferring to go its own way in freedom and independence, so we may now distinguish two chief ways in which a musical work of art is executed. The one immerses itself entirely in the given work of art and does not wish to render anything beyond what the work in hand already contains: whereas the other does not merely reproduce but draws expression, interpretation, the real animation in short, principally from its own resources and not only from the composition as it exists.
(α) Epic, in which the poet intends to unfold for us an objective world of events and ways of action, leaves no alternative for the rhapsodist in his recital but to make his individual personality retire in favour of the deeds and events which he is reporting. The more he effaces himself the better; indeed, without prejudice to his task, he may even be monotonous and soulless. What is to have an effect is not the actual tones of his voice, his speech and narrative, but the subject itself, its poetic treatment and narration. From this fact we can abstract a rule for the first kind of musical interpretation. If the composition has, as it were, objective solidity so that the composer himself has put into notes only the subject itself or the feeling which is entirely full of it, then the reproduction must be of a similar matter-of-fact kind. The executant artist not only need not, but must not, add anything of his own, or otherwise he will spoil the effect. He must submit himself entirely to the character of the work and intend to be only an obedient instrument. Yet, on the other hand, in this obedience he must not, as happens often enough, sink to being merely mechanical, which only barrel-organ players are allowed to be. If, on the contrary, art is still to be in question, the executant has a duty to give life and soul to the work in the same sense as the composer did, and not to give the impression of being a musical automaton who recites a mere lesion and repeats mechanically what has been dictated to him. The virtuosity of such animation, however, is limited to solving correctly the difficult problems of the composition on its technical side and in that process avoiding any appearance of struggling with a difficulty laboriously overcome but moving in this technical element with complete freedom. In the matter not of technique but of the spirit, genius can consist solely in actually reaching in the reproduction the spiritual height of the composer and then bringing to life.
(β) Things are different in the case of works in which what preponderates is the composer’s own freedom and caprice, and, in general, where we look less for thorough solidity in expression and in other ways of treating melody, harmony, characterization, etc. Here the bravura of the virtuoso is in its right place, while genius is not restricted to the mere execution of what is given but has a wider scope so that the executant artist himself composes in his interpretation, fills in gaps, deepens what is superficial, ensouls what is soulless and in this way appears as downright independent and productive. So, for example, in Italian opera much is always left to the singer: he has freer scope especially in cadenzas, and, since declamation here is freed from the strictest attachment to the particular meaning of the words, this more independent execution becomes a free melodic stream of the soul which rejoices to resound on its own account and lift itself on its own wings. Thus when it is said, for instance, that Rossini makes things easy for the singers, this is only partly correct. Indeed he makes it really difficult for them by so often referring them to the activity of their own musical genius. If this really is genius, the resulting work of art has a quite peculiar attraction, because we have present before us not merely a work of art but the actual production of one. In this completely living presence of art, all external conditions are forgotten – place, occasion, specific context in the act of divine service, the subject and sense of a dramatic situation; we no longer need or want any text; nothing at all is left beyond the universal note of feeling. In that element the self-reposing soul of the executants artist abandons itself to its outpouring and in it he displays his inventive genius, his heart’s deep feeling, his mastery in execution and, so long as he proceeds with spirit, skill, and grace, he may even interrupt the melody with jokes, caprices, and virtuosity, and surrender to the moods and suggestions of the moment.
(γ) Thirdly, such vividness is still more wonderful if the instrument is not the human voice but one of the other instruments. These with their sound are more remote from the expression of the soul and remain, in general, an external matter, a dead thing, while music is inner movement and activity. If the externality of the instrument disappears altogether, i.e. if inner music penetrates this external reality through and through, then in this virtuosity the foreign instrument appears as a perfectly developed organ of the artistic soul and its very own property. I recall, for instance, that in my youth a virtuoso on the guitar had composed great battle music in a tasteless way for this trivial instrument. By trade he was, I think, a linen-weaver; if you addressed him, he was an ignorant man of few words. But when he started to play, you forgot the tastelessness of the composition, just as he forgot himself and produced marvellous effects because he put into his instrument his whole soul which, as it were, knew no higher execution than the one that made these notes resound on this instrument.
When virtuosity like this reaches its culminating point it not only evinces an astounding mastery over external material but displays its inner unbounded freedom by surpassing itself in playing with apparently insurmountable difficulties, running riot With ingenuity, making surprising jokes in a witty mood with interruptions and fancies, and making enjoyable in its original inventions even the grotesque itself. For a poor head cannot produce original works of art, but in the case of executants of genius their works reveal their incredible mastery of and in their instrument; the virtuoso can overcome the restrictions of his instrument and now and again, as an audacious proof of this victory, can go through the gamut of the different sorts of sound given by instruments other than his own. In this sort of execution we enjoy the topmost peak of musical vitality, the wonderful secret of an external tool’s becoming a perfectly animated instrument, and we have before us at the same time, like a flash of lightning, the inner conception and the execution of the imagination of genius in their most momentary fusion and most quickly passing life.
These are the most essential things that I have heard and felt in music and the general points which I have abstracted and assembled for the consideration of our present subject.
1. For Hegel, time is the negativing of space. See e.g. Philosophy of Nature,§ 257.
2. For coloured reproductions of some paintings in Roman villas and of one from Pompeii, see T. B. L. Webster, Hellenistic Art (London, 1967).
3. This is not now true, e.g. of polygnotus.
4. The four physical elements were earth, air, water, and fire. Hegel, however, is alluding to his philosophy of nature where physics, which begins with light, supervenes on mechanics, which deals with space, matter, gravity, weight, etc. In this whole passage ‘physical’ is a reference to that treatment of physics.
5. A reader perplexed by this must be referred to the relevant passage in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, §§ 275-8.
6. Goethe’s theory of colour as a synthesis of light and dark is never far from Hegel’s mind.
7. Newton, Opticks, i, pt. 2: ‘The whiteness of the sun’s light is compounded of all the primary colours mixed in a due proportion.’
8. see Vol. I, pp.41-6
9. His inclusion here may seem odd since he is nearly a century later than the other two: 1483-1520; 1489-1534; 1577-1640.
10. This altar-piece in twelve parts is regarded as the masterpiece of J. van Eyck (1390-1441). It may have been begun by his elder brother Hubert. Hegel saw it in 1827.
11. A. Carracci, 1560-1609, probably, but his brother and his uncle were also painters.
12. An English picture-dealer who sold a remarkable collection of fourteenth and fifteenth-century Italian pictures, as well as others, to Frederick William III In 1821. They were transferred to the Berlin Gallery when it opened in 1830, so ‘now’ is Hotho’s word, not Hegel’s.
13. In 1804 Melchior (1786-1851) and Sulpiz (1783-1854) Boisserée founded a Collection of pictures in Heidelberg. It was transferred into the possession of the Ring of Bavaria in 1827. For Hemling read Memling.
14. In a fine palace north of Munich. G. Reni, 1575-1642.
15. This is the Second Night in the Dark Night of St. John of the Cross, from whom Hegel’s metaphor seems to be drawn.
16. Hegel has in mind again the story that, after the death of her children, Niobe went to Mt. Sipylon and, at her own request, was turned into a stone by Zeus.
17. The doctrine of the Bodily Assumption had not been defined in Hegel’s day, but it was believed in many places.
18. The Sistine Madonna is so called because it came from the church of San Sisto in Piacenza. The St. Sixtus to whom the church is dedicated was a saint who became Pope Sixtus III (d. 440). In the picture Raphael gave him the features of Pope Julius II who died in 1513, i.e. at about the time when the PIcture was painted. It has no connection with the Sistine Chapel or, despite what Bénard thinks, with Pope Sixtus V who was not born until a year after Raphael died.
19. The picture was catalogued as by van Eyck, but it is actually by Rogier van der Weyden (1400-64).
20.Luke 10: 41-2.
21. ‘Barbarians were seized by the Panic terror. It is said that terror without a reason comes from Pan’ (Pausanias, x. 23. 5).
22. See above in Vol. I, pp. 168-I71 and 597-600.
23. Goethe, Faust, line 944 (pt. i, sc. 2).
24. If the ‘others’ had been specified, this judgement might have seemed less sweeping.
25. Any black and white representation of a scene can, like a photograph, differentiate (a) the varying intensity of illumination falling on various objects, and (b) the varying brightness of the local colour of objects under the same illumination.
26. i.e. glazing, to bring out in relief through light and shade, or to produce chiaroscuro effects.
27. i.e. there may be a conflict between truth to local colour and the require ments of tonal gradations to achieve relief. In a black and white picture, the nose, projecting more than the cheeks, would be brighter than the cheeks in order to make it stand out. But in colour the red cheeks would be brighter than yellowish-green nose, and the painter must therefore tone down the red from the properly observed local colour in order to bring the nose into relief.
28. Essai sur la peinture. Ouvres complètes (Paris, 1876), vol. x, p. 47I.
29. Frescoes arc wall-paintings, so-called because they must be painted on the wall while the plaster is still fresh, i.e. wet (E. H. Gombrich, The Story of Art, London 1970, p. 144). In the Middle Ages painters prepared their own colours by grinding coloured plants or minerals to powder and then using egg as a liquid to bind the powder into a paste. Painting in tempera is painting with this kind of colour-preparation (ibid., p. 172). Hegel mentions other sizes below in dealing with the history of Italian art.
30. In oil-painting, layers of opaque colours and glazes (transparent colours) can be superimposed to produce varying effects of translucence. In tempera only opaque colours are available, so that light could not penetrate superimposed layers of colour.
31. His autobiography, Book viii (Eng. tr. London 1932, pp. 278-9).
32. G. von, 1772-1820.
33. Horace. Ars poetica, 361: ‘Poetry is like painting.’
34. In Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered
35. J., I806-82.
36. The fairy-like girl in Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship. She pines for her Italian home and dies from unrequited love. In the Preface to his translation of this work, Carlyle says: ‘The history of Mignon runs like a thread of gold through the tissue of the narrative ... This is poetry in the highest meaning of the word.’
38. Genesis 29.
39. If, as it seems to be, this is a reference to Genesis 24, then ‘Jacob’ is an error for ‘Isaac’.
40. In Orlando F'urioso, canto xxi. 36.
41. F. von Schlegel, and others of his school, thought that a man’s ordinary self may achieve poetry, but only his transcendental self (a conception they drew from the philosophy of Fichte) could achieve the ‘poetry of poetry’.
42. Matthew 18: 20. Luke 9: 28-42.
43. There are different versions in ancient authors of the way that Odysseus penetrated the disguise (note I on p. 760 above). See Sir James Frazer’s notes to Apollodorus III. xiii. 8.
44. The lilies appear in Italian painting a century earlier.
45. In Greek art there is a sort of natural harmony between beauty of form and the mentality expressed within it. We have a plastic figure which is universal rather than a real individual. Individuality implies an emphasis on man’s own convictions, and their spiritual character can persist even in an external expression which is ugly. The natural ugliness does not dominate or penetrate or interfere with moral conviction which can find expression even in an ugly face.
46. A reprint of Hegel’s lectures on painting with coloured illustrations is much to be desired.
47. Hotho adds in a note that this statement was made in a lecture on 17 February 1829. The gallery was opened on 3 August 1830.
48. The omission of Spain was not unnatural in Hegel’s lifetime. The omission of England may seem less excusable until we reflect that in what he says of modern (i.e. post-Byzantine) painting, Hegel relies almost entirely, and not Improperly. on what he had seen for himself in Paris, the Low Countries, Austria, and Germany (where, unlike Italian works, English paintings may not have been on view at his date).
49. Matthew II: 30. ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
50. Inferno, canto iii, 8. ‘Eternal I endure.’
51. In Greek mythology Cupid is an emblem of the heart, as Psyche is of the soul. She was represented with the wings of a butterfly, itself another symbol of t e soul.
52. 1255-1319 and c. 1240-1302.
53. c. 1266-1327.
54. L., 1378-1455, sculptor and art-historian.
55. e.g. St. Francis of Assisi (c. 1182-1226), canonized in 1228.
56. ‘Modern’ saints presumably means those canonized in the fifteenth century or later. If Hegel was no stylist, von Rumohr may not be one either. Hegel has said that sometimes we have to put up with mere descriptions of pictures, and here he seems to rely on von Rumohr, possibly not altogether a blind guide.
57. 1401-28 and 1387-1455.
58. Umbria–Raphael, 1483-1520. Tuscany–Michelangelo, 1475-1564. Lombardy–Correggio, 1489- 1564’ Venice–Giorgione, 1478-1510,? and TitIan, 1477-1576.
59. c. 1450-1523.
60. Fra Angelico (of Fiesole), Uccello, 1396-1475. B. Gozzoli, 1420-98, etc.
61. In Vol. I, p. 169.
62. Sculpture is still three-dimensional, but it is less purely objective spatially than architecture because it portrays the subjective spirit more adequately. Thus within these arts the abandonment of purely objective spatiality begins. It goes further in painting which is only two-dimensional. And music now goes further still in the same negative direction by negating the ‘peaceful’ or motionless material of painting, its canvas and colour, and adopting sound which results from the ‘vibration’ of matter.
63. For clarification of Hegel’s view of sound, obscurely expressed here, see his Philosophy of Nature (Enc., §§ 299 ff.). Sound is said to be a double negation because vibration momentarily breaks up, e.g. a string, into its parts but at once unifies them again in a sound.
64. i.e. in the memory. The notes of a tune vanish successively and the tune exists as a tune in memory alone and for subjective apprehension alone.
65. Hegel might have said that music has a meaning, but that the meaning cannot be stated otherwise than in the notes. But he thinks that the meaning or message of the other arts can be translated, and he is not wholly consistent. See pp. 933 ff. He seems to think that music ought to have a meaning but that this can only be detected when it is associated with words in opera and songs. This is perhaps why he may be at sea when he comes to deal with instrumental music.
66. This confession of limited knowledge comes as a relief. It might have been more comprehensive. Hegel studied and loved painting, but in music he was less at home. His predilection for opera (especially Rossini and Mozart) and his lack of enthusiasm for instrumental music may explain or be explained by his views on the human voice. The fact that he never mentions Beethoven, his exact contemporary, is not surprising, because he is by no means the only person to have a distaste for contemporary music. If he ever heard Beethoven’s music, he probably regarded it, as I regard e.g. Prokofiev’s, as restless and incoherent.
67. This is Hegel’s defence, perhaps reluctant, of instrumental music. If he had not said what he does below about ‘characterization’ in music, he might have been thought to welcome ‘programme music’.
68. i.e. in instrumental music, when the composer has no libretto or words to set to music.
69. Is this an allusion to, for instance, Schubert and Beethoven?
70. Hegel’s diction here is evidence of his perplexity about instrumental music. It is curious that a lover of Mozart’s operas did not have more appreciation, e.g. of Mozart’s symphonies, than his remarks below suggest. Mozart died when Hegel was twenty-one.
71. P. A. D. B., 1698-1782, author of libretti used again and again by eighteenth century composers including Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and especially Gluck.
72. This might be taken as a criticism (perhaps unfortunate) of the Ninth Symphony and many of Schubert’s songs. But although this symphony was first performed in 1824 in Vienna, it was not performed in Berlin until after Hegel’s death, and it is a fair inference that he never heard it. Whether he knew Schubert’s songs and disliked them or whether he was ignorant of them it is not Possible to say. Schubert was 27 years Hegel’s junior and died in I828 at the age of thirty-one.
73. Religious feeling has religion as an ‘objective content’, but as feeling it is purely subjective, a state of consciousness suffusing the self without any reference to any kind of externality (Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind, Ene. §400). Thinking distinguishes between itself and what is thought, but in feeling this distinction is only implicit. ‘The thing felt is interwoven with the feeling itself’ (see p. 904. final paragraph of this section, b).
74. Johsua, 6.
75. In Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature mechanics precedes physics. Time belong to the former, sound to the latter. Nevertheless, in § 330, Zusatz, Hegel says, that ‘sound belongs to the mechanical sphere .... It is a free physical expression of the ideal realm which yet is linked with mechanism–it is freedom in heavy matter and at the same time freedom from it.’
76. Takt. The word also means ‘beat’ in the sense of any ‘measured sequence of Sounds’ (O.E.D.), but ‘bar’ is less misleading in many contexts, especially where Hegel discusses the divisions of the bar in 2/4, 6/8tirne etc. ‘Beat’, in the sense of a conductor’s beat, is also used in the translation.
77. i.e. folk-songs.
78. J. F., 1752-1814. Master of Music to Frederick the Great. Of his numeroUS compositions only his Singspiele and Lieder are remembered.
79. i.e. differences of pitch or harmony between notes.
80. This is derived from Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature. See, for instance, § 256: By cancelling itself the point constitutes a line which, cancelled in turn, produces a surface.
81. For references to ancient literature, see the action on Pythagoras in Hegel’s lectures on the History of Philosophy. The numerical basis of hannony is discussed at some length in Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature, Addition to § 301.
82. If the example is unfortunate, Goethe’s theory of colours is to blame.
83. Half the string produces the octave above the note of the whole string. If the string is divided in the proportion of two to three, then the vibrations are in the same proportion, and the shorter string gives the fifth sound in the octave, i.e. if C is the keynote.
84. e.g. into a chromatic scale.
85. The reference is primarily to Aristoxenus, fourth-century B.C. He distinguished thirteen keys.
86. e.g. the third note in the diatonic scale is only third because it follows the second and precedes the fourth.
87. e.g. Section I of the Subjective Logic (Eng. tr. by A. V. Miller: The Science of Logic, pp. 599 ff.). Or, more briefly. in the first edition of the Encvclopaetdia §§ 109-39.
88. Kant, k.d.r. V., A. 98
89. Their selection is of interest and so are their dates: 1525-94; 1684-1755; 1667-1740; 1710-36; 1714-87; 1732-1809; 1756-91.
90. i.e. as he appears in Italian comedy, rather than in English pantomime.
91. Hegel has in mind not only opera but especially the place of music in Greek drama.
92. See Index. s.v. Newton.
93. E., 1748-1812. He also wrote (as Hegel indicates) the libretto for numerous popular operas, now forgotten.
94. N., 1728-1800. Used Marmontel’s French libretti.
95. By Metastasio.
96. 1792-1868, apparently the only composer younger than himself of whom Hegel approved. In the autumn of I824 he spent some time in Vienna and wrote enthusiastically to his wife about the Italian opera there. At first he found Rossini’s music ‘occasionally wearisome’ but after a further hearing of The Barber of Seville he thought Rossini’s Figaro ‘infinitely more pleasing than Mozart’s’. He adds that the reason Rossini’s music is not liked in Berlin is that it is ‘made for Italian throats’.
97. Interest in Bach, hitherto regarded as too arithmetical, was promoted by the publication of Forkel’s book on him in 1802. But what made a sensation in Berlin was Mendelssohn’s production of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829. Hegel was a visitor to Mendelssohn’s home but he would also derive an appreciation of Bach from his colleague in the University of Berlin, C. F. Zelter, Mendelssohn’s teacher.
98. We may think that these remarks have a measure of justification when we reflect that some ‘amateurs’ have given the name of ‘Moonlight’ to Beethoven’s Sonata, op. 27 no. 2, even if Beethoven invited ‘interpretation’ by the title he prefixed to this work.