Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

neither disturbing the repose of the masses, nor interfering with the general effect in a picture.

The Pre-Raphaelites, therefore, may appeal to high authority for the cardinal doctrine of their creed ; and whatever be their errors in judgment or in taste, they have inaugurated a revolution which will release art from its fetters, and give it a freer and a nobler aim. Nature is too grand in her minuteness, and too beautiful in her humility, to be overlooked in the poetry of art. If her tenderest and most delicate forms are worthy of admiration, she will demand from the artist his highest powers of design. If the living organizations of the teeming earth, upon which we hourly tread, are matchless in structure, and fascinating in colour, the palette of the painter must surrender to them its choicest tints. In the foreground of the highest art, the snail-shell may inoffensively creep from beneath the withered leaf or the living blade; the harebell and the violet may claim a place in the sylvan dell; the moss may display its tiny frond, the gnarled oak or the twisted pine may demand the recognition of the botanist, while the castle wall rises in grandeur behind them, and the gigantic cliffs or the lofty mountain range terminate the scene.

If these views are sound, the man of taste will no longer endure slovenliness in art. He will demand truth as well as beauty in the landscape; and that painter may change his profession who cannot impress geology upon his rocks, and botany upon his plants and trees, or who refuses to display, upon his summer or his autumn tablet, the green crop as well as the growing and the gathered harvest. Thus enlarged in its powers and elevated in its purposes, the art of painting will be invested with a new character, demanding from its votaries higher skill and more extended knowledge. In former times, the minute and accurate delineation of nature was a task almost impossible, requiring an amount of toil which could hardly be repaid even when slightly performed; but science has now furnished art with the most perfect means of arresting, in their most delicate forms, every object, however minute, that can enter into the composition of a picture. These means are the arts of photography and stereoscopic re-combination, when rightly directed, and it is the object of the present chapter to shew how the artist may best avail himself of their valuable and indispensable aid.

Every country and district, and even different parts of the same district, have a Flora and Geology peculiar to themselves; and the artist who undertakes to represent its beauties owes to truth the same obligations as the botanist who is to describe its plants, or the mineralogist its rocks and stones. The critic could not, in former times, expect more details from his unaided pencil than it has generally furnished; but with the means now at his command, he must collect, like the naturalist, all the materials for his subject. After the camera has given him the great features of his landscape, he must appeal to it for accurate delineations of its minuter parts,—the trunks, and stems, and leafage of his trees—the dipping strata of its sandstone beds—the contortions of its kneaded gneiss, or the ruder features of its trap and its granite. For the most important of these details he will find the camera, as at present constructed, of little service. It is fitted only to copy surfaces; and therefore, when directed to solid bodies, such as living beings, statues, &c, it gives false and hideous representations of them, as I have shewn in a preceding chapter. It is peculiarly defective when applied to parts of bodies at different distances from it, and of a less diameter than the lens. The photograph of a cube taken by a lens of a greater diameter, will display five of its sides in a position, when its true perspective representation is simply a single square of its surface. When applied to trees, and shrubs, and flowers, its pictures are still more unsatisfactory. Every stem and leaf smaller than the lens, though absolutely opaque, is transparent, and leaves and stems behind and beyond are seen like ghosts through the photographic image.

This will be understood from Fig. 48, in which Ll is the

[graphic]

lens of the camera, Ab the breadth of the trunk or stem of a tree less than Ll in width. Draw La, Lb, touching Ab in the points A, B, and crossing at c. Objects behind Ab, and placed within the angle Acb, will not have any images of them formed by the lens Ll, because none of the rays which proceed from them can fall upon the lens, but objects placed within the angle Ecf, however remote be their distance, will have images of them formed by the lens. If D, for example, be a leaf or a fruit, or a portion of a branch, the rays which it emits will fall upon the portions L»i, Ln of the lens, determined by drawing Dm, Dn touching Ab, and an image of it will be formed in the centre of the photographic image of A b, as if A B were transparent. This image will be formed by all the portions of the surface of the lens on which the shadow of Ab, formed by rays emanating from D, would not fall. If the object D is more remote, the shadow of Ab will diminish in size, and the image of the object will be formed by a greater portion of the lens. If the sun were to be in the direction M N, his image would appear in the centre of the trunk or stem, corresponding to Ab, Fig. 49.

[graphic]

If the stem occupies any other position, ab, Fig. 48, in the landscape, objects, such as d, within the angle ecf, will have

images of them formed within the corresponding portion of the trunk or stem. Hence, if Ab, Fig. 49, represents the shadow of the stem across the lens Ll, the image of any object, which if luminous would give this shadow, will be formed within the photographic image of the stem, and as every part of it may have branches, or leaves, or fruit behind it, its photographs will be filled with their pictures, which will have the same distinctness as other equidistant parts of the landscape.

These observations are applicable to the limbs and slender parts of animate and inanimate figures, when they are of a less size than the lens with which their photograph is taken. They will be transparent to all objects behind them, and their true forms and shades cannot be taken with the cameras now in use.1

In order, therefore, to collect from nature the materials of his profession, the artist must use a camera with a lens not much larger than the pupil of his eye, and with such an instrument he will obtain the most correct drawings of the trunks and stems of trees, of the texture and markings of their bark, of the form of their leaves, and of all those peculiarities of structure and of leafage by which alone the trees of the forest can be distinguished. In like manner, he will obtain the most correct representations of the rocks and precipices, and the individual stones2 which may enter

1 By using large lenses, we may obtain the picture of an object within the picture of an opaque one in front of it; and with a telescope, we may see through opaque objects of a certain size. Many singular experiments may be made by taking photographs of solid objects, simple or compound, with lenses larger than the objects themselves.

2 In a landscape by Mr Waller Paton, called the "Highland Stream," now in the Edinburgh Exhibition, the foreground consists principally of a bed of waterworn stones, on the margin of a pool at the bottom of a waterfall. The stones are

M

« ZurückWeiter »