A writer in the Art Journal at the time when the decoration of the Houses of Parliament was under consideration, who evidently held a brief for fresco as against other modes of wall-painting, expressed admirably many of the characteristics which should be found in paintings executed on the wall in any medium. He says: "It is clear that fresco is not adapted for any such branch of art as requires principally strong effects of light or shade or colour aiming at producing illusion, and such effects should be avoided as resulting in certain failure. On the other hand, fresco essentially possesses the power of representing form and figure, all that can express thought, idea, character, and is perfectly adapted to any undertaking which acknowledges these as its legitimate object." "Architecture gives the general forms, to enliven without destroying them is the task of fresco painting. Its subjects must make, therefore, no appeals to the sense's illusion, nor aim at being mistaken for the reality; the highest object should be poetic and artistic truth." "The space painted seems enlarged by light colours and appears loftier, more free and cheerful. The absurd custom of totally transforming and destroying the architectural surface by means of perspective and optical trick, so as to apparently raise the roof of a hall, or of a church having a flat roof to a cupola, etc., commenced during the decline of the art under Correggio, and is most remarkable in the period of Andrea Pozzo and his contemporaries. To transfer the effect of oil to fresco destroys every principle. The inevitable result is dry, dull, heavy shades, the destruction of the architectural surface, and finally want of light and quality of colour." " The excellence of fresco painting must essentially depend upon the creative power of the mind. To think in little would be as useful here as to war in little. Fresco is adapted to represent, with force and beauty, a great idea; it is not so well adapted to reproduce the scenes of nature, or to depict the affections, the feelings and the ties of social life. The chefs cFceuvre of painting are in oil—the grandest compositions are in fresco/9 The writer goes on to enumerate several of the special disadvantages under which decorative painters laboured in England—disadvantages which are happily less at the present day than at the time when be wrote, though quite great enough still.
"Keligion' does not consecrate the offerings of their genius by placing them within the precincts *of their temples; the legislator is palsied by the fear of their direct encouragement; nor have they, as they merit, the advantage of public sympathy and support".
At the time when painting was beginning to revive after its sleep of conventionality, and the growing power and wealth of the communes aroused that emulation which gave birth to the great schemes of building and decoration, the wrecks of which are to be seen in so many towns in Italy, how different things were! Then nearly all the wall-paintings executed were painted either upon the walls of churches or of communal buildings, and the town which had given birth to a painter of talent esteemed itself happy in finding him employment for the term of his natural life. And the painters for their part realised the nobility of the part they were called to play, and the assistance which their works might lend to the cause of education as well as to the decoration of the buildings which enshrined them, and, at least officially, held the standard high. Listen to the commencement of the statutes of the Art of Painters of Siena, dated 1355, but representing an older tradition, since the historians of the city say that they had already enrolled themselves as a corporation in the twelfth century. " Since, by the grace of God, we are teachers to ignorant men, who know not how to read, of the miracles performed by virtue of the Holy Faith, and the foundations of our faith are principally laid in the adoration and belief of One God in Trinity, and in God of infinite power, infinite wisdom and infinite love and mercy: and since no undertaking, however small, can have a beginning or an end without these three things—that is without the power to do, without knowledge, and without the true love of our work—and since in God every perfection is eminently united: now to the end that in this our calling, however unworthy it may be, we mayJiave a good beginning and a good ending in all our words and deeds, we will earnestly ask the aid of the Divine Grace, and commence by a dedication to the honour of the name, and in the name of the most Holy Trinity." The Florentine Compagnia di S. Luca in its statutes, as printed by Baldinucci, was inspired by much the same spirit. " We order that all those who are or shall be inscribed in this society, men or women, shall be contrite and have confessed their sins, or at least have the intention of confessing as soon as may be, and that the Captains and Chamberlains who enter their names shall inform them of this. And whoever is received into this society is bound to say every day five Pater Nosters and five Ave Marias, and if through forgetfulness or by any press of business he does not say them every day he must say them the next silence and pray to God for the souls of faithful Christians dead, passed from this life, and specially for those of this company which may be in purgatory; that God will lead them to the blessings of eternal life." With such regulations governing the Guild of the Painters the opening words of Cennino Cennini's "Trattato" are in harmony: "Ye of gentle spirit, who are lovers of this art and devoted to its pursuit, adorn yourselves with the garment of love, of modesty, of obedience, and of perseverance." The most scrupulous honesty was prescribed in the use of colours, and though wags like Buffalmacco might occasionally supply themselves with wine by humorous expedients, it was considered an act of criminal dishonesty, punishable by fine, to employ any but the best colours: "Any member of the guild who should dare or presume to use in his works any gold, silver, or colour other than he may have promised to employ—as, for instance, alloyed gold for fine gold, tin for silver, cobalt blue for ultramarine, indigo for azure, red ochre or carmine for 'cinabrese'—should be punished and fined upon every conviction ten 'libri/" Cennini also insists upon the use of good- colours as a religious obligation, and most especially in portraying the Virgin. Even if the painter was underpaid for his work " God and Our Lady will recompense him in the soul and in the body "I It is scarcely necessary to point out how different all this is from the temper which prevails in the most cultivated art centres among the students of the present day. And most of the fruit produced is of the different kind which is to be expected from such different roots. In those days, too, the learning of the craft of painting was much more serious than it is now. There was first a year of trial to see if the youth had sufficient promise and industry to make it worth while to teach him. If the master was satisfied, the boy was then bound apprentice for twelve years. He was sworn never to divulge the secrets of the art till, having become a master himself, he had apprentices, to whom he would then teach them, first binding them by a similar oath to that which had been administered to himself. Now a few years in an art school is considered sufficient equipment to enable the aspirant to wrestle with the most difficult problems, though, tradition being dead, he cannot have the advantage of having seen those problems approached from different points and solved more or less successfully by his masters. Professor Max Koch of Berlin, in a paper in the Zeitschrift filr Bildende Kunst on the training of the decorative painter, strongly advises him to spend most of his time in " room - painting." He says: "The trained room painter has no fear of technical difficulties. He has used lime colours from his youth; he has painted his studies with tempera and cheese-medium, and also knows the more easily learnt oil technique. He knows all about the mediums which he uses and how they behave, leaves alone the long-winded treatises which teach new things upon all possible painting processes, and makes his medium by the receipt which he learnt in the workshop and has himself often tested." He gives further advice which is worth quoting: " It is often the case that weak young men who are no good for handicraft wish to become decorative painters. This is a mistake. I can from experience assure them that painting on the ceiling is no child's play. They had better learn how to paint rooms, so that they may work earnestly; the iron 'must' of life will teach much better than an art schooL They should study the works of the German, Italian, and French ornamentists." "The architect generally conceives the general scheme (of decoration) and gives the painter a sketch of wall, roof, or other architectural form which he thinks of decorating with painting, and leaves him free to give his fancy rein. A mistake is often made by architect, sculptor, plasterer, and painter, each striving to put as much as possible of his particular form of art into the space, and thus gain a greater part in that whole which is to be made beautiful by sound judgement. The scheme settled, two very important questions arise—the cost of the work and the time required to carry it out. Now one sees the value of practical training. The trained room-painter has seen before how such a thing may be done, and lays down the right scale at once. He also knows approximately how much colour will be required, where to use the cheap colours, and how to give the greatest effect to the dearer ones. He knows further what scaffolding is necessary and what secondary things, and makes himself pleasant to the client from the beginning. After the sketches the studies and cartoons must be prepared in the studio, for the painter must be ready with everything on his scaffold if he is to gain credit or profit from his enterprise".
SCENES FROM THE PASSION.
External wall-painting at Hallstadt.