Abbildungen der Seite

of those of the model, and by such as cannot be mistaken. Finally, we may come to the conclusion, that imitative resemblance is that which compels us to see one object in another, and that a distinct and, relatively to the total of the general model, necessarily partial one.

On these conditions rest the merit and pleasure of imitative resemblance. The merit, because, in fulfilling these, as we

/ have seen, lies both the difficulty of the art, and its success, which consists in so ordering things that we shall not have cause either to complain of, or to discover what is wanting to the imitation in order to render it complete, and to appear reality.

The pleasure, because 'it is always from our knowing the want of reality in the image, that the faculties of comparing and judging are called into action, for which, without this knowledge, there would be no occasion.

If imitative resemblance in the fine arts can only be a partial and fictious resemblance of the object imitated, and if it can only be produced with and by means of elements distinct from the elements of that object, it must be acknowledged that the conditions of imitation, far from being the

V result of a system, are only facts observed in and drawn from the nature of things. Hence it will assuredly follow, that every image, or every work of the fine arts, will more or less contradict the nature of imitation, in proportion as the artist has

aimed more or less at producing the effect of identical repetition, or real similarity.

We shall presently show, that there exist, nevertheless, two grand sources of error, distinct only as they differ in degree, which constantly tend to vitiate, in its very elements, that imitation which is proper to the fine arts, to destroy its beauty, and nullify its means of pleasing, by affecting to increase the one, and multiply the other.

As it is especially against these two errors, so inimical to the fine arts, that this theory is directed, I will proceed, after having pointed them out, to show the result I propose to obtain, and the course to be pursued to arrive at it.

The first of these evils which it is necessary to contend against, consists in the endeavour to augment the resources and the effect of the species of imitation proper to one of the arts in particular, by the addition of those proper to the imitation of

another art. (See Chap. ix.) The second tends to deprive every art, as much

as possible, of that part of its fictious and conventional nature which makes it appear art, by sub

stituting, through a spurious fidelity, the character - of reality for that of appearance, and similarity

by means of identity for resemblance by means of an image.

But before exposing in all their nakedness the vices of these two modes of procedure, and the fallacious results arising from them, it will be necessary to pursue the development of the principles that have been established, as a general theory, by applying them more directly to each of the fine arts considered individually; and to show how the constitution of each of them carries us also back per force to the elementary principle of imitation; so that the principle of the elementary definition of imitation must yet further become that of the definition of every imitative mode proper to each of the fine arts in particular.





HITHERTO we have been, by the very nature of things, endeavouring to search out the elementary principles of imitation and imitative resemblance; principles from which we hope to be able to deduce doctrines and rules of taste, whereon to found a general theory of the fine arts.

It is now time to quit the more or less obscure region of generalities, and, proceeding to an order of things less abstract, show that each one of the fine arts considered as acting by imitation, can exercise but one branch of it, and that, by the very fact of the restriction thus placed upon its power of action, it corroborates the evidence of those principles which have been already laid down.

The only cause for the division of the imitation of nature, among the fine arts, exists in its being impossible, as already shown, for any one art to attain identity or reality of resemblance, which is in fact but repetition.

Certain indefinite phrases have been the cause of confused ideas gaining credit with the generality of persons, and which, in this matter, serve to perpetuate the errors that continually obscure it. Thus it is again and again propounded that nature is the model of the arts : an axiom as true as it is insignificant. Then, what is said of the arts in general, is repeated of each one in particular; and forth with there is no subdivision of an art which has not nature for its model.

And this is all true enough; but then the model of every art, or, in other words, of every part of the demesne of imitation, must in like manner be restricted to a part only of nature.

The different arts of imitation are not inventions of man, the creations of his fantasy, that he can extend or modify them at will ; nor can the productions of those arts be changed in obedience! to his pleasure. Each, submitting to the supreme laws of the nature of things, or of necessity, is compelled to be exclusively in relation with such or such order of imitable objects, with such or such means or instruments of imitation, with such or such qualities physical or moral, with such or such faculty of our senses or mind; and to which there is also a necessary relation between each of these things and the corresponding art which takes cognizance of it.

« ZurückWeiter »