Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/32

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22
THE HIDDEN MASTERPIECE.

the life, and not the life itself. A hand,—since I have taken that as an example,—a hand is not merely a part of the body, it is far more; it expresses and carries on a thought which we must seize and render. Neither the painter nor the poet nor the sculptor should separate the effect from the cause, for they are indissolubly one. The true struggle of art lies there. Many a painter has triumphed through instinct without knowing this theory of art as a theory.

"Yes," continued the old man vehemently, "you draw a woman, but you do not see her. That is not the way to force an entrance into the arcana of Nature. Your hand reproduces, without an action of your mind, the model you copied under a master. You do not search out the secrets of form, nor follow its windings and evolutions with enough love and perseverance. Beauty is solemn and severe, and cannot be attained in that way: we must wait and watch its times and seasons, and clasp and hold it firmly ere it yields to us. Form is a Proteus less easily captured, more skilful to double and escape, than the Proteus of fable; it is only at the cost of struggle that we compel it to come forth in its true aspects. You young men are content with the first glimpse you get of it; or, at any rate, with the second or the third. This is not the spirit of the great warriors of art,—invincible powers, not misled by will-o'-the-wisps, but ad-