Page:Life of William Blake 2, Gilchrist.djvu/220

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162
SELECTIONS FROM BLAKE'S WRITINGS.

NUMBER XV.

Ruth.—A Drawing.

This Design is taken from that most pathetic passage in the Book of Ruth where Naomi, having taken leave of her daughters-in-law, with intent to return to her own country, Ruth cannot leave her, but says, 'Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: God do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.'

The distinction that is made in modern times between a Painting and a Drawing proceeds from ignorance of art. The merit of a Picture is the same as the merit of a Drawing. The dauber daubs his Drawings; he who draws his Drawings draws his Pictures. There is no difference between Raphael's Cartoons and his Frescoes, or Pictures, except that the Frescoes, or Pictures, are more finished. When Mr. B. formerly painted in oil colours, his Pictures were shown to certain painters and connoisseurs, who said that they were very admirable Drawings on canvas, but not Pictures; but they said the same of Raphael's Pictures. Mr. B. thought this the greatest of compliments, though it was meant otherwise. If losing and obliterating the outline constitutes a Picture, Mr. B. will never be so foolish as to do one. Such art of losing the outlines is the art of Venice and Flanders; it loses all character, and leaves what some people call expression: but this is a false notion of expression; expression cannot exist without character as its stamina; and neither character nor expression can exist without firm and determinate outline. Fresco Painting is susceptible of higher finishing than Drawing on Paper, or than any other method of Painting, But he must have a strange organisation of sight who does not prefer a Drawing on Paper to a Daubing in Oil by the same master, supposing both to be done with equal care.

The great and golden rule of art, as well as of life, is this: That the more distinct, sharp, and wiry the bounding line, the more perfect the work of art; and the less keen and sharp, the greater is the evidence of weak imitation, plagiarism, and bungling. Great inventors, in all ages, knew this: Protogenes and Apelles knew each other by this line. Raphael and Michael Angelo, and Albert Dürer, are known by this and this alone. The want of this determinate and bounding form evidences the idea of want in the artist's mind,