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The Witness of Art: Or, The Legend of Beauty

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Pages: 104

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC

By: Bayliss Sir Wyke 1835-1906

Excerpt from book: T THE ANTIQUE. HERE is perhaps no sentiment more real amongst lovers of Art than that of reverence for the great masters of the Classic and Mediaeval schools. Nor is this reverence to be deprecated. Without a reverential spirit nothing great can be accomplished : but let us see that we revere intelligently. If Polycletus was greater than Michael Angelo in ideality, Michael Angelo was greater than Polycletus in fervour: but this implies that an excellence is conceivable that should surpass both. There is again no feeling more strong amongst thoughtful men, than that if pure religion demands some sacrifice in Art, the sacrifice must be made. And this is no doubt true : but it does not follow that the sacrifice is demanded : let us see that we do not charge our Faith with folly. How common, for example, is the idea that Church music suffered at the Reformation. Such a proposition, however,will not bear examination: the Mass was relegated to the concert-room, where it expanded to the Oratorio, while in its stead our churches were filled with music in its grandest form—that of the chorale. Now, so far as this reverence for the antique or the mediaeval is the expression of individual modesty, its effects cannot but be in the highest degree elevating and strengthening: but it commonly takes the form of an assumption that there were giants in those days, and that it is the destiny of modern Art to reflect, to the extent of its limited capacity, the doings of those mighty ones. So far also as this readiness to sacrifice aesthetic taste is the result of a sincere conviction that its cultivation would endanger religious truth, it is worthy of all respect: but its too common form is the unquestioning assumption that our Faith has this depressing influence on Art. The tyranny of...  


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