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gold; the browns in the foreground became first more positive, and then were slightly mingled with other local colors; while the touch, which had at first been heavy and broken, like that of the ordinary drawing masters of the time, grew more and more refined and expressive, until it lost itself in a method of execution often too delicate for the eye to follow, rendering, with a precision before unexampled, both the texture and the forin of every object. The style may be considered as perfectly formed about the year 1800, and it remained unchanged for twenty years.
During that period the painter had attempted, and with more or less success had rendered, every order of landscape subjcct, but always on the same principle, subduing the colors of nature into a harmony of which the key-notes are greyish green and brown; pure blues and delicate golden yellows being admitted in small quantity, as the lowest and highest limits of shade and light: and bright local colors in extremely small quantity in figures or other minor accessaries.
Pictures executed on such a system are not, properly speaking, works in color at all; they are studies of light and shade, in which both the shade and the distance are rendered in the general hue which best expresses their attributes of coolness and transparency; and the lights and the foreground are executed in that which best expresses their warmth and solidity. This advantage may just as well be taken as not, in studies of light and shadow to be executed with the hand; but the use of two, three, or four colors, always in the same relations and places, does not in the least constitute the work a study of color, any more than the brown engravings of the Liber Studiorum; nor would the idea of color be in general more present to the artist's mind, when he was at work on one of these drawings, than when he was using puro brown in the mezzotint engraving. But the idea of space, warmth, and fresliness being not successfully expressible in a single
tint, and perfectly expressible by the admission of three or four, he allows himself this advantage when it is possible, without in the least embarrassing himself with the actual color of the objects to be represented. A stone in the foreground might in nature have been cold grey, but it will be drawn nevertheless of a rich brown, because it is in the foreground; a bill in the distance might in nature be purple with heath, or golden with furze ; but it will be drawn nevertheless of a cool grey, because it is in the distance.
This at least was the general theory,-carried out with great severity in many, both of the drawings and pictures .. executed by him during the period : in others more or less modified by the cautious introduction of color, as the painter felt his liberty increasing; for the system was evidently never considered as final, or as anything more than a means of progress: the conventional, easily manageable color, was visibly adopted, only that his mind might be at perfect liberty to address itself to the acquirement of the first and most necessary knowledge in all art—that of form. But as form, in "landscape, implies vast bulk and space, the use of the tints which enabled him best to express them, was actually auxiliary to the mere drawing; and, therefore, not only permissible, but even necessary, while more brilliant or varied tints were never indulged in, except when they might be introduced without the slightest danger of diverting his mind for an instant from his principal object. And, therefore, it will be generally found in the works of this period, that exactly in proportion to the importance and general toil of the composition, is the severity of the tint; and that the play of color begins to show itself first in slight and small drawings, whero he felt that he could easily secure all that he wanted in form.
Thus the “Crossing the Brook,” and such other elaborate and large compositions, are actually painted in nothing but grey, brown, and blue, with a point or two of severe local
color in the figures; but in the minor drawings, tender passages of complicated color occur not unfrequently in easy places; and even before the year 1800 he begins to introduce it with evident joyfulness and longing in his rude and simple studies, just as a child, if it could be supposed to govern itself by a fully developed intellect, would cautiously, but with infinite pleasure, add now and then a tiny dish of fruit or other dangerous luxury to the simple order of its daily fare. Thus, in the foregrounds of his most severe drawings, we not unfrequently find him indulging in the luxury of a peacock; and it is impossible to express the joyfulness with which he seems to design its graceful form, and deepen with soft pencilling the bloom of its blue, after he has worked through the stern detail of his almost colorless drawing. A rainbow is another of his most frequently permitted indulgences; and we find him very early allowing the edges of his evening clouds to be touched with soft rose-color or gold; while, whenever the hues of nature in anywise fall into his system, and can ho caught without a dangerons departure from it, he instantly throws his whole soul into the faithful rendering of them. Thus the usual brown tones of his foreground become warmed into sudden vigor, and are varied and enhanced with indescribable delight, when he finds himself by the shore of a moorland stream, where they truly express the stain of its golden rocks, and the darkness of its clear, Cairngorm-like pools, and the usual serenity of his aerial blue is enriched into the softness and depth of the sapphire, when it can deepen the distant slumber of some Highland lake, or temper the gloomy shadows of the evening npon its hills.
The system of his color being thus simplified, he could address all the strength of his mind to the accumulation of facts of form; his choice of subject, and his methods of treatment, are therefore as various as his color is simple; aud it is not a little difficult to give the reader who is unacquainted with his works, an idea either of their infinitude of aims, on the one hand, or of the kind of feeling which pervades them all, on the other. No subject was too low or too high for him ; we find him one day hard at work on a cock and hen, with their family of chickens in a farin-yard; and bringing all the refinement of his execution into play to express the texture of the plumage; next day he is drawing the Dragon of Colchis. One hour he is much interested in a gust of wind blowing away an old woman's cap; the next he is painting the fifth plague of Egypt. Every landscape painter before him had acquired distinction by confining his efforts to one class of subject. Hobbima painted oaks ; Ruysdael, waterfalls and copses; Cuyp, river or meadow scenes in quiet afternoons ; Salvator and Poussin, such kind of mountain scenery as people could conceivc, who lived in towns in the seventeenth century. But I am well persuaded that if all the works of Turner, up to the year 1820, were divided into classes (as he has bimself divided them in the Liber Studiorum), no preponderance could be assigned to one class orer another. There is architecture, including a large number of formal “gentlemen's scats,” I suppose drawings commissioned by the owners; then lowland pastoral scenery of every kind, including nearly all farming operations,-ploughing, harrowing, hedging and ditching, felling trees, sheepwashing, and I know not what else; then all kinds of town life-court-yards of inns, starting of mail coaches, interiors of shops, house-buildings, fairs, elections, &c.; then all kinds of inner domestic life-interiors of rooms, studies of costumes, of still life, and heraldry, including multitudes of symbolical vignettes; then marine scenery of every kind, full of local incident; every kind of boat and method of fishing for particular fish, being specifically drawn, round the whole coast of England ;—pilchard fishing at St. Ives, whiting fishing at Dargate, berring at Loch Fyne; and all kinds of shipping,
including studies of every separate part of the vessels, and many marine battle-pieces, two in particular of Trafalgar, both of high importance,-one of the Victory after the battle, now in Greenwich Ilospital; another of the Death of Nelson, in his own gallery; then all kinds of mountain scenery, somo idealised into compositions, others of definite localities; together with classical compositions, Romes and Carthages and such others, by the myriad, with mythological, historical, or allegorical figures,-nymphs, monsters, and spectres ; herocs and divinities.*
What general feeling, it may be asked incredulously, can possibly pervade all this? This, the greatest of all feelingsan utter forgetfulness of self. Throughout the whole period with which we are at present concerned, Turner appears as a man of sympathy absolutely infinite-a sympathy so all-enbracing, that I know nothing but that of Shakspeare comparable with it. A soldier's wife resting by the roadside is not beneath it; Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, watching the dead bodies of her sons, not above it. Nothing can possibly be so mean as that it will not interest his whole mind, and carry away his whole heart; nothing so great or solemn but that he can raise himself into harmony with it; and it is impossible to prophesy of him at any moment, whether, the next, he will be in laughter or in tears.
This is the root of the man's greatness; and it follows as a matter of course that this sympathy must give him a subtle power of expression, even of the characters of mere material things, such as no other painter ever possessed. The man who can best feel the difference between rudeness and tenderness in humanity, perceives also more difference between the branches of an oak and a willow than any one else would;
• I shall give a catalogue raisonnée of all this in of " Modern Painters."
the third volume