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the rigid sense of the word, there is but one sole identity in nature. This well established fact will become one of the fundamental supports of the theory of imitation in the fine arts, by aiding to prove what kind of resemblance is proper to their works. Those objects then are called identical, which simply appear to be so, as are all the works produced by mechanical operations. This kind of apparent identity, which is the cause of confusion between similar objects, is precisely that at which the imitation of the fine arts ought not to aim. Such resemblance ought not to be its end. Repetition by means of an image being the exact opposite of that by means of identity, all imitation which has the latter in view tends only to destroy itself, since in so doing it no longer aims at appearing imitation.
This idea may perhaps appear so simple that there can be no need of insisting upon it; perhaps also, its simplicity considered, it may be deemed little worthy of being converted into a principle; but I would observe that an elementary principle, before an opportunity has been afforded of developing its bearings, must necessarily be simple; if not, it is no longer a principle.
OF THE IDEA TO BE FORMED CONCERNING RESEMBLANCE IN THE
IMITATION PROPER TO THE FINE ARTS.
RESEMBLANCE is without doubt a necessary condition of imitation. These two expressions and their corresponding ideas approach so nearly, that in ordinary language they are often taken for one another; but this is not the greatest error. It consists in confounding resemblance by means af an image, or that of the fine arts, with similarity by means of identity, or that of the mechanical arts.
It is of importance to the theory which it is here designed to establish, to determine also the precise nature of imitative resemblance, and the limits within which it is confined, since in this respect there exists so much error, no less on the part of those who, by extending, think to increase the domain of every kind of imitation, than of those who deem that the pleasure ought to be greater, in proportion as the resemblance is more homogeneous. It will be well also on this point
d to examine the nature of things; for, in order to lay a firm foundation, it is scarcely possible to dig too deep
Be it in whatever it may, does the idea of resemblance carry with it the necessary conclusion, that, where it exists between two objects, there can be no difference between them? No one does or can understand it in such a light; for, if it were maintained that such ought to be the definition of resemblance, it would only serve to prove that it cannot exist. The very works of nature, or what we have called the results of an organic power, when we find them invested with such resemblance as to create confusion among them, only appear so to us on account of our inattention ; viewed nearer, and subjected to a more strict examination, they present to us very great varieties. These varieties are so numerous, that experience, conjointly with reason, obliges us to acknowledge that there are not, for instance, two leaves entirely alike.
The same may be said of all the mechanical productions of human industry. We defy it, by any means whatever, to produce in the works it elaborates with the greatest care, a complete resemblance, so multiplied are the causes which conduce to diversify them.
The idea of a complete resemblance is then, in speculation, but an abstraction, and, in reality, a chimera. If there can only be a question of an
approximate resemblance, even in those works whose similarity is the result of an organic or mechanical principle, the same may with still greater truth be affirmed of resemblances produced by an imitation, which does not repeat the object in reality, but only by an image.
This then is the elementary principle which should never be lost sight of, in estimating the nature and the properties of that resemblance, which it is the part of imitation to produce in the fine arts.
Now the fundamental idea of this kind of resemblance is afforded to us by the idea we have of what an image is; and this idea is exceedingly simple.
It will be sufficient to observe that an image is nothing more nor less than an appearance of the object represented. There is, between the object and its appearance, all the difference that separates that which truly is from that which only appears to be : and the same may also be applied to resemblance, since that which belongs to the image is nothing else than an appearance of resemblance.
It is the identical repetition of an object which produces the resemblance that may be called real, and which, from that very circumstance, is incapable of affording us pleasure; for it has been already seen that the pleasure arising from resemblance proceeds from the comparison instituted between two objects. But, morally speaking, it is not true that, in resemblances produced by means of identity, two objects are seen ; it is but to see the same thing twice.
It is, on the contrary, the very essence of imitation in the fine arts, to represent reality by its appearance alone.
Here then are two distinct objects. The pleasure of resemblance arises from the parallel itself, existing between the model, and its appearance or image. Since it is a necessary condition of imitation, that it furnish occasion for comparison, and since the art of comparing ceases where identity is present, it is necessary that we should be aware that what is offered to us by imitation, is only the appearance of the object.
Such is the fundamental and elementary character of that resemblance which belongs to the image, that is to say, to the result of imitation in the fine arts.
We may hence conclude that imitation would be no longer imitation, but identical repetition, if it were permitted to reproduce the real resemblance of the object, that is, to represent it under all those relations which constitute its reality. Again, that the image, in as much as it is an appearance, can only furnish an incomplete resemblance of the object imitated, in other words, limited to certain of its parts, its qualities, and its properties. Yet further, that the image, solely in that it is an image, can only produce its resemblances in and by means of the distinct elements