Sunday, July 20, 2014

John Ruskin, art Critic and author, and James McNeilll, artist, exchange insults

For Mr. Whistler's own sake, no less than for the protection of the purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of tIle artist so nearly approached the aspect of willful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of cockney impudence before now; but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas.for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face.
 Over and over again did the Attorney-General cry out aloud, in the agony of his cause, "What is to become of painting if the critics withhold their lash?"

 As well might he ask what is to become of mathematics under similar circumstances, were they possible. I maintain that two and two the mathematician would continue to make four, in spite of the whine of the amateur for three, or the cry of the critic for five.
 We are told that Mr. Ruskin has devoted his long life to art, and as a result is "Slade Professor" at Oxford. In the same sentence we have thus his position and its worth. It suffices not, Messieurs! A life passed among pictures makes not a painter-else the policeman in the National Gallery might assert himself.
 As well allege that he who lives in a library must needs die like a poet.
 Let not Mr. Ruskin flatter himself that more education makes the difference between himself and the policeman when both stand gazing in the Gallery. There they might remain until the end of time; the one decently silent, the other saying, in good English, many high-sounding empty things, like the crackling of thorns under a pot-undismayed by the presence of the Masters with whose names he is sacrilegiously familiar; whose intentions he interprets, whose vices he discovers with the facility of the incapable, and whose virtues he descants upon with a verbosity and flow of language that would, could he hear it, give Titian the same shock of surprise that was Balaam's, when the first great critic proffered his opinion.

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