New Bearings in Esthetics and Art Criticism

A Study in Semantics and Evaluation

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PROBLEMS IN MEANING
which the hand of man can produce: for can one conceive a case in which the mind would not guide the hand of the artist and will anyone believe it possible, likewise, that, despite all attempts to imitate, he will not tinge his singular work with the color of his mind?101
Similarly we may say that the artistic imagination crucially affects even the most "realistic" types of worthy drawing and painting. When Mr. Berenson, in discussing the drawings of Andrea del Sarto, remarks upon their "unsurpassed faithfulness to the thing seen," he does not mean that the drawings are exact replicas of nature; for in another place he calls them "matchlessly vital transcripts of reality," thus indicating a high admiration for these sketches as well as an awareness of their sparkle and vitality.102 Or when Mr. Hagen speaks of the "physiological and psychological truthfulness of the great Realists, Ribalta, Roelas, and the older Herrera," 103 he is not referringor at least he should not beto a slavish reproduction of nature; for even these realistic painters (whom, incidentally, I consider minor rather than "great") have transformed their models by imbuing them, to a degree, with imaginative force and energy. Or again, far from being mere copies of reality, are not the meticulously rendered details in the painting of Jan van Eyck fresh and vivid re-creations? One may differently describe this important distinction between
101.  The Journal of Eugene Delacroix (New York, 1937), pp. 665-666. Walter Pach, trans.
Likewise the world of the poet, to quote D. G. James, "is, of course, personal to him, the creature of a unique imagination synthesizing its own experience of life. . . . Hence verisimilitude is a quite useless concept; indeed it is that which must be abandonedfor of what can poetry be an imitation, except of a world which is personal to a unique imagination?" (Scepticism and Poetry [London, 1937], p. 51).
102.  The discussion of the drawings occurs in Bernard Berenson's book The Drawings of the Florentine Painters (Chicago, 1938), pp. 269-294.
103.  Oscar Hagen, Patterns and Principles of Spanish Art (Madison, 1936), p. 192.