Notebook, 1993-

Eastlake's Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters

Eastlake, Sir Charles Lock [One-time President of the Royal Academy], Methods and Materials of Painting of the Great Schools and Masters [Formerly titled: Materials for a History of Oil Painting]. Vol. One. New York; Dover Publications, Inc. 1960 [Originally published by Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans in 1847]

Professional Essays - Life in Inanimate Things

The surface of the living figure is the most noble object of imitation, and it is this which chiefly limits sculpture to the naked. Life being the fittest aim of representation, it becomes so also, in some form or mode, in inanimate objects. In sculpture, where colour is wanting, the drapery for example is often made to cling to the forms, in order that it may derive from them an interest which the mere expression of folds cannot possess intrinsically. Besides this, drapery, even when not showing so distinctly the forms of the nude, may assist composition, [p. 373] and may be grand or beautiful in itself from the arrangement of its lines. But it is in painting, and when the charm of colour is added, that an attribute allied to life may be given to drapery, and to all inanimate objects, independently of their forms. The contrasts of warmth and coolness, of transparency and opacity, of pure and negative hues--contrasts, in short, of all kinds which the eye can appreciate, besides those connected with mere form--these form the life of nature, and give interest and beauty to objects that would be otherwise passed over. As painting cannot do without such objects, and as they make up a large portion of every picture--from skies and clouds to trees, rocks, and foreground; from draperies and architecture to all kinds of artificial productions and implements--these inanimate portions of a picture should receive the especial attention of the artist to endow them with life. Light, gradation, and contrast are the means by which this may be effected, but within these words lies the whole soul of refined imitation. The infinite modes in which inanimate objects are rendered charming to the eye, but the means here indicated, can only be studied in well-coloured pictures. Contrast of colour is the chief agent: gradation is, strictly speaking, only a subdivision of contrast, for, as the object of contrast is variety, so no contrasts should be repeated; and this suggests degrees of intensity--varieties in degree as well as in kind. [p. 374]



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