Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/33

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23
THE HIDDEN MASTERPIECE.

vancing always until they force Nature to lie bare in her divine integrity. That was Raphael's method," said the old man, lifting his velvet cap in homage to the sovereign of art; "his superiority came from the inward essence which seems to break from the inner to the outer of his figures. Form with him was what it is with us,—a medium by which to communicate ideas, sensations, feelings; in short, the infinite poesy of being. Every figure is a world; a portrait, whose original stands forth like a sublime vision, colored with the rainbow tints of light, drawn by the monitions of an inward voice, laid bare by a divine finger which points to the past of its whole existence as the source of its given expression. You clothe your women with delicate skins and glorious draperies of hair, but where is the blood which begets the passion or the peace of their souls, and is the cause of what you call 'effects'? Your saint is a dark woman; but this, my poor Porbus, belongs to a fair one. Your figures are pale, colored phantoms, which you present to our eyes; and you call that painting! art! Because you make something which looks more like a woman than a house, you think you have touched the goal; proud of not being obliged to write currus venustus or pulcher homo on the frame of your picture, you think yourself majestic artists like our great forefathers. Ha, ha! you have not got there yet, my little men; you will