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fore Jesus taught, so did all national arts lack, as we have shown, their consummation till man and God became united in Christ. The artist had long sought, even as the philosopher, though in vain, to fashion the perfect God and the perfect man. The Greek moulded the head of Jupiter as a lion god, and conceived nobly of Apollo as a Phœbus god. But it is only in such creations as the Cenacola at Milan that we behold the Father and the Son in form incarnate. The Jews preserved awe-moving traditions of angry Deity thundering from Sinai they knew of a mighty arm which had divided the sea and driven out the heathen; and then, in the fulness of time, a Child was born in Galilee, and henceforth the God who had been shrouded in darkness was seen to walk in the light of common day. No wonder that for ever after artists in long succession told the amazing storyno wonder that they shed around the infant in the manger a flood of glory which blinded the eyes of simple pilgrim - shepherds-no wonder that every act in the drama which heaven here unfolded upon earth the history of Mary, the childhood of Jesus, the temptation in the wilderness, the triumph in Jerusalem, the agony in the garden, the death upon the cross-was shown forth by the Christian artist in forms of simplicity seemly for a child, yet with the majesty befitting a God. And then follows the final scene, when He who was sent of the Father returned unto the home in the heavens, whence He shall yet come to judge both quick and dead. A narrative such as this was, we once again repeat, for the Christian painter a prompting power such as no artist had yet known. Humanity had been crowned in a glory not dreamt of, even in the fabled apotheosis of the Greeks the form which sin had marred was restored to its primal purity; the ruin which the classic artist had attempted to reinstate was at length built into a temple. Such is Christian art in its unc
tion and its essence; in its birth it was like the grain of mustard-seed; in its growth it filled the world. Finite though it be, it comprises within its form the infinite; mortal though the outward fashion of it seem, yet does it contain the spirit of immortality, for as was the history of our Lord, such is the beginning and progression of that art which seeks to celebrate every Christian perfection.
These reflections have been suggested by the works of the late Mrs Jameson on 'Sacred and Legendary Art,' as well as by the two volumes of Lady Eastlake on 'The History of our Lord.' The central idea we have set forth is indeed the prelude to the boldly yet delicately wrought treatise, which gives its title to our present article.
The History of our Lord as represented in Art," says Lady Eastlake, "is essentially the history of Christian Art. Round His sacred head, encircled in early medieval forms with the cruciform nimbus, all Christian Art revolves, as a system round a sun. He is always the great centre and object of the scene since, whether represented, according to the taste of the artist or the requirements of the patron, as infant, youth, or man teacher, physician, or friend — as victim and sacrifice-as king or judge He is always intended, under every aspect, real or ideal, to be looked upon as God. For no philosophy falsely so called' intrudes into the domain of Christian Art-no subtleties on His human nature, no doubts of His Godhead, no rationalistic interpretations of His miracles. Christian Art pre-eminently illustrates faith in Christ as God manifest in the flesh,' as 'the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;' and without these great fundamental truths of Christianity there is no Christian Art, either in fact or in possibility." It is not our wish to raise religious art as an ensign around which hostile theologians may fight out doctrinal disputes. Rather would we emulate the
charity of Mrs Jameson, who, gone to the soul's rest, now realises her own prophetic vision, that poetry and art and true religion are but the varying aspects of one and the same divine reality. As in the realms of nature the sky above and the water beneath mingle at the horizon, so in the mind's horizon do the art which is born of earth and the religion that is revealed from heaven join at the point of distance where the soft atmosphere of poetry suffuses the harshness of a too near outline. It was this insight into the higher and distant relations of a wide-stretching subject which gave to the criticisms of Mrs Jameson peculiar value and charm. By intuition of intellect and through womanly sympathy of heart she felt the spark which had given to arts, however ancient and effete, their original fire. While others were ready with the asperity belonging to contracted intellects to cavil at minor and accidental flaws, she, in the exercise of master power, could grasp a work in its integrity and essence. Thus among the historians of art she is known as one of the most catholic and tolerant. Without the surrender of any principle to which enlightened conscience owes allegiance, she could, with a simple earnestness which ofttimes rose to eloquence, plead the cause of an art sometimes frail and erring, and make apology for painters who may have given offence to over-plain and plodding though well-meaning people. She had courage on fitting occasion to denounce the "narrow puritanical jealousy which holds the monuments of a real and earnest faith in contempt;" and again, she had shafts of ridicule for our over-zealous ancestors" who chopped off the heads of Madonnas and saints, and paid vagabonds to smash the storied windows of our cathedrals." hate the destructive as I revere the progressive spirit." "We ought," continues Mrs Jameson, "to comprehend and to hold in due reverence that which has once been consecrated to holiest aims, which
has shown us what a magnificent use has been made of art, and how it may still be adapted to good and glorious purposes, if, while we respect these time-consecrated forms and types, we do not allow them to fetter us, but trust in the progressive spirit of Christianity to furnish us with new impersonations of the good,-new combinations of the beautiful."
Mrs Jameson's mind was catholic in the true sense in which Christian art is catholic and not sectarian : it was many-sided, as was the genius of those painters who illustrated and adorned the Bible narrative; it took the wide range of vision which includes within its sweep universal religion, and it was able thus to recognise in all noble art the aspirations of the mind heavenwards. Few persons have been better fitted for the work in which they found their hands occupied and few writers indeed have been so fortunate in the times wherein their labours were cast. Mrs Jameson was in the possession of rare literary powers, and had attained considerable art knowledge, just when a field, hitherto little tilled, gave promise of harvest. The arts of the middle ages, save in the later development of the renaissance, had been reputed little else than barbarous, the works of the early painters and sculptors had no value in the mart of Europe, when the time came for one of those reactions which often completely reverse the previous current of men's tastes. And no sooner does a new love take possession of the mind than even reason lends herself the willing slave to inordinate desire. Suddenly all that was medieval became coveted, and with the fond eye of affection personal defects shone as beauties in disguise. A saint seemed all the more solemn because of the severity of his features and the stiff outline of his bodily frame. Then it was that the rage grew fierce, and the competition intense for every remnant of Christian art: ivories were collected, missals co
pied, old panels purchased, rude carvings and terra cottas brought into museums, all to serve as illustrations of the rise and progress of those arts which adorned medieval Christianity, and had sprung as flowers at the feet of saints, and around the graves of martyrs.
This newly-begotten joy in the discovery of treasures long locked up soon passed from its incipient wonder to the more rational stage of serious and strict inquiry. The student required to know what themes served the middle-age artist for subjects; what characters crowded the canvass, and what histories and traditions passed from the Church and the cloister into the painter's studio. Just at this time, when the traveller wandering through galleries, the pilgrim walking to shrines, as well as the quiet reader and thinker staying at home, were seeking for instruction, yet knew not where it was to be found, Mrs Jameson published her two first volumes, The Poetry of Sacred and Legendary Art.' This work was followed in the long interval of fourteen years by two more volumes, 'Legends of the Monastic Orders' and 'Legends of the Madonna.' Yet still the arduous task remained unaccomplished. "The History of our Lord,' the corner-stone, and the crowning pinnacle to the structure, was left but in fragment.
And now let us pay due honour to the memory of one who has done this good work. Mrs Jameson perhaps has not manifested much original or creative power, but her mind possessed a quality which, for the special mission it had to fulfil, proved of more specific service. It was lucid and faithful as a mirror to receive and then throw forward, free from distortion, every form which shone upon its surface. It is true that Mrs Jameson was, by the nature of her office, a compiler, yet, at the same time, she became insensibly something more. Compilation in her hands assumed the more vital function of assimilation; and thus, under her skilful treat
ment, the rough clay moulds and mellows into living form, which stands out in bold and clear relief. For the task of art-critic she was, as we have said, singularly well endowed. To her was given the poet's insight, which perceives the latent signs of beauty, a delicate sensibility to harmonies that often slumber unheeded, beauties that breathe into life as the spirit of art awakes. This it is which enables the truth-seeking student to rejoice over the birth of Christian art, even when, like its divine Master, it, as yet, is bound in swaddling-clothes, and lying in a manger: this it is which baptises the critic in the waters of peace and of charity, which opens his eye and attunes his ear to the simplest forms of symmetry, and the faintest whispers of melody, so that the fair creations of art stretch before his view, even as the fields of nature, or the trees of the forest, whereon the dews fall, the sun shines, and the breezes play, shedding on all that lives the blessings of a bounteous providence. And when, to this recipient mood, emotional and highly sensitive to the approaches of poetry, a writer can add cool calculation of the intellect, then, indeed, as we have said, has the mind been specially framed for the functions of criticism. Yet the reader who shall go to the pages of Mrs Jameson will not find that the critic unduly exalts her office. The earnest student has always abundant cause for humility. He knows of his own infirmities; he feels that time is swift, that life is short; above all, that truth is infinite, and that the ways of God are past finding out. And thus is it the experience of every writer that his subject stretches far beyond his ken, and that the realities he most desires to
grasp fill an immensity which his powers cannot reach. This, indeed, was the experience of Mrs Jameson, who, in the closing passage to one of her gracefully-written introductions, affords not only an example of the method of her criticism, but furnishes, as it were, an epitaph
which, like the well-known words of one of England's honoured philosophers, merits to be graven on a monument. "I must stop," writes Mrs Jameson, "here; and yet one word more. All the productions of art, from the time it has been directed and developed by Christian influences, may be regarded under three different aspects:-1. The purely religious aspect, which belongs to one mode of faith; 2. The poetic aspect, which belongs to all; 3. The artistic, which is the individual point of view, and has reference only to the action of the intellect on the means and materials employed. There is pleasure, intense pleasure, merely in the consideration of art as art; in the faculties of comparison and nice discrimination brought to bear on objects of beauty; in the exercise of a cultivated and refined taste on the productions of mind in any form whatever. But a threefold, or rather a thousandfold pleasure is theirs, who, to a sense of the poetical, unite a sympathy with the spiritual in art, and who combine with delicacy of perception and technical knowledge more elevated sources of pleasure, more variety of association, habits of more excursive thought. Let none imagine, however, that in placing before the uninitiated these unpretending volumes, I assume any such superiority as is here implied. Like a child that has sprung on a little way before its playmates, and caught a glimpse through an opening portal of some varied Eden within, all gay with flowers and musical with birds, and haunted by divine shapes which beckon forward, and, after one rapturous survey, runs back and catches its companions by the hand, and hurries them forward to share the newfound pleasure, the yet unexplored region of delight: even so it is with me,-I am on the outside, not the inside, of the door I open.'
Lady Eastlake has worthily followed in the footsteps of her predecessor. The labours of Mrs Jameson were suddenly cut short in the
spring of 1860, and the goodly volumes now before us, containing 'The History of our Lord,' were then nothing more than a few rudimentary fragments. The MS., such as it was, the publisher intrusted to Lady Eastlake for completion. The task proved more onerous than had been anticipated. It is true that detached passages were already written, but not a single illustration had been suggested, and the greater portion of the proposed text had no other indication save a mere outline. Lady Eastlake brought, as we may be sure, to the performance of the onerous duties committed to her hands ardour and aptitude. To do honour to the memory of her friend, and justice to one of the grandest subjects which could engage the pen of any writer, she at once set herself to serious study, aided, as she tells us, by every possible advantage, both at home and abroad. In her preface she acknowledges special obligations to Mr Carpenter, Mr Holmes, and Mr Franks of the British Museum, also to the Hon. Robert Curzon, Dr Rock, Mr Robinson, and Mr George Scharf. She has indeed, with commendable enterprise, travelled far and wide to gather varied materials, and to give to "a realm of Art almost kindred in amount to a kingdom of nature," a boundless circumference. That she accomplished in the end all that she herself could have desired, is, of course, not to be expected. No one knows better than Lady Eastlake how utterly exhaustless is the theme on which she has entered; a history which, did it recount all that could be told, the world itself, to borrow the bold metaphor of the Evangelist, could not contain the books that should be written. Still we have here in these volumes, penned in a truth-seeking spirit, and illustrated with a copious generosity, which at once elucidates and adorns each section of the subject, contributions to the literature of Christian art for which every artist, and indeed even the student of theology, will con
fess a debt of sincerest gratitude. To thoughtful inquirers richest mines are here opened for meditation. To minds prepared for leeper draughts to quench the thirst for knowledge, wells are dug and fountains are made to flow even in the desert tracts of time, where pilgrim's foot but seldom attempts to tread. We think indeed that Lady Eastlake has done special service in bringing into popular view recondite stores which have hitherto been sealed from public use. She has, for example, by appeal to the early heads of Christ in the Catacombs, by reference to Christian sarcophagi of the fourth century, to ivories as old as the sixth century, and Greek MSS. and Byzantine miniatures of the ninth century, enabled the art student to trace the history of types and antitypes, and to analyse the rudimentary germs which, from age to age accumulating strength and growing in comeliness, at length issued forth in perfected pictorial form.
It is to this, the infancy of art, that at the present moment peculiar interest attaches. Of its manhood, as manifest in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we have for long known wellnigh all that can be learnt. But of the infant cradle of art, as it was tossed to and fro on the troubled waters of persecution, as it was watched by heaven and tended by angels, the world is naturally curious to know more. The idea, perhaps but the echo of too credulous affection, has been cherished indeed, that in the earliest ages a picture may have been an authentic narrative of an actual fact that the Christian painter may have depicted an event which he witnessed, or a countenance that he knew; or, in other words, that the nearer art approached to the days when miracles were wrought, and holy men wrote as they were inspired by God, the more of heaven and of divine truth does the work reflect.
Somewhat of this persuasion probably enters most minds on the
descent into the dark subterranean chambers beneath the Roman Campania, the refuge, the church, and the sepulchre of the early believer. The mysterious gloom of these galleries, the perplexed labyrinth of these tortuous passages, not unlike to the obscure avenues of the shadowy past, the fitful flicker of the precarious light which the darkness seems hungry to devour-these and many kindred suggestions awaken in the Catacombs wondering imagination.
Then it is that the mind is ready, nay eager, to entertain fondest hopes; that faith is willingly given to stories which fancy paints; that the feet tread reverently, in the trust that these same paths were worn by the steps of disciples; and then too it is, as the taper throws transient gleams along the walls and across the vaults, that the eye believes it looks upon the very pictures which apostles saw and sanctioned, and that the shadowy heads which peer out from the mysterious gloom are nothing less than the actual portraits of saints, martyrs, or even of Christ himself. We recollect, when in Rome, conversing with Padre Marchi on the then recent Catacomb discoveries, and fervent was the faith of the old man in the monumental chronicles of Christianity which he and others were zealously exhuming. "We have," said he, "recently come upon a chamber, the remains in which there is reason to believe date back to the very time of the apostles." This conjecture is repeated merely to show of what moving interest are the investigations which have been made, and are still prosecuted, into the iconography of the earliest Christian art. The importance of these inquiries, indeed, whether to the artist or to the theologian, it is scarcely possible to overrate. It is often said that the blood of the martyrs was the seal of the Church, and so verily the tomb of the believer was the charter or pedigree of Christian art. Thereon were inscribed the symbols of the disciples' faith-the dove, the lyre, the palm