Page:William Blake in his relation to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1911).djvu/4

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romantic school in Germany, its distinguishing feature was its mysticism, which can be traced through all the works of the Praeraphaelites, be they literary or artistic. Already in some later works of the German Romantics, e. g. in the second part of Goethe's Faust and in Hoffmann's Erzählungen, mystic ideas are interwoven; but what I may perhaps term "modern mysticism", to distinguish it from the Catholic mysticism of the Middle Ages, found its true development in the literary and artistic productions of the Praeraphaelitic school; and the great fore-runner of this school was William Blake. In the following pages I will try to examine somewhat closer than has been done up to now wherein this influence existed and in how far Blake really conduced to the Praeraphaelitic movement.

Indeed, beyond the mere acknowledgement that such an influence did exist I found nowhere a single effort for a somewhat thorough investigation. I think that it suffices for this purpose when I show the influence Blake has exercised on Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Not because he was the greatest of the Praeraphaelites,[1] for indeed G. F. Watts[2] far excelled him as a painter, creating new myths, whereas Rossetti's genius concentrated itself principally in the reproduction of single female figures; Robert Browning was a greater poet; Holman Hunt remained faithful in all his works to the rules laid down in their first assemblies; Dante Gabriel Rossetti, not even in the religious period of his art, stuck to the rules he himself had laid down with so much ardour. And I think it was J. E. Millais, who

  1. When I talk of Praeraphaelites I mean this school in its widest sense. Robert Browning belongs to it because of his great love for the Italian art as well as for the minute carefulness he displays in his descriptions, but most of all because of the great stress he lies on the study of soul. "Little else", he writes, "than the development of a soul is worth study" (Preface of Sordello). Others like G. F. Watts and Burne-Jones, though only for a time painting under the Praeraphaelitic banner, I include as well, as F. Madox Brown, Ch. Collins, A. Hughes, and many others of lesser note. It seems that the row closes with Byam Shaw's picture Love's Baubles and that he is the last of all those who painted or wrote under the influence of the Praeraphaelitic school.
  2. Even in his Praeraphaelitic period.