Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French III).djvu/34

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
24
THE HIDDEN MASTERPIECE.

use up many a crayon and spoil many a canvas before you reach that height. Undoubtedly a woman carries her head this way and her petticoats that way; her eyes soften and droop with just that look of resigned gentleness; the throbbing shadow of the eyelashes falls exactly thus upon her cheek. That is it, and—that is not it. What lacks? A mere nothing; but that mere nothing is all. You have given the shadow of life, but you have not given its fulness, its being, its—I know not what—soul, perhaps, which floats vaporously about the tabernacle of flesh; in short, that flower of life which Raphael and Titian culled. Start from the point you have now attained, and perhaps you may yet paint a worthy picture: you grew weary too soon. Mediocrity will extol your work; but the true artist smiles. O Mabuse! O my master!" added this singular person, "you were a thief; you have robbed us of your life, your knowledge, your art! But at least," he resumed, after a pause, "this picture is better than the paintings of that rascally Rubens, with his mountains of Flemish flesh daubed with vermilion, his cascades of red hair, and his hurly-burly of color. At any rate, you have got the elements of color, drawing, and sentiment,—the three essential parts of art."

"But the saint is sublime, good sir!" cried the young man in a loud voice, waking from a