Deduction Of The Principles Of The Picturesque


HAVING enunciated the principles of delineation in art, and traced their foundation in nature, we must next proceed to point out and to define what may aptly be termed the principles of the picturesque, constituting as they do the foundation of tasteful design in every branch of art alike.

In a former part of this work, when tracing the origin in the mind of the different arts, I endeavoured to show how the germ of each of them might be found existent there; and in what manner the various faculties of the soul, and also the several feelings, and passions, and emotions, and sensations, were called into operation by certain affections of them, caused by or proceeding from external objects, which ultimately resulted in the production of art. I have here further to remark, in continuation of this portion of the subject, that all the efforts of the mind of this class, whether springing from the exertion of the intellectual faculties, or the calling forth of the emotions and passions of the soul, result finally in the excitement of it in four principal, distinct, and independent modes, in relation to its artistical or picturesque feelings and perceptions, which may be respectively comprehended in, and classified as the sentiments of grandeur, of beauty, of pathos, and of satire or ridicule.

The principles of delineation, which I have already examined, originate mainly, as I have before remarked, in the operation of the faculty of reason. The principles of the picturesque, which we are now to consider, originate mainly in the operation of the faculty of taste.

The four several sentiments already alluded to, constitute also the four several orders or principles of the picturesque style, which may respectively be denominated, correspondingly with these sentiments, the grand, the beautiful, the pathetic, and the satirical.

Reference has already been made in a previous chapter, to the development and classification of different styles in art. A point of considerable interest here arises in the inquiry as to the precise relationship of the several orders of the picturesque to these various styles. The epic style appears to be mainly indebted to grandeur, although in some instances beauty as well may contribute, to a limited extent, to the completion of the composition, as may also pathos; but it owes nothing to satire or ridicule, any infusion of which seems, indeed, directly inimical to, if not subversive of grandeur. The beautiful style owes everything to the principle of beauty, but little to grandeur, although occasionally it is more or less indebted to pathos, and is seldom if ever served by satire. The tragic style owes something both to grandeur and to beauty, and still more to the pathetic, though nothing to satire. The representation of familiar scenes is mainly aided by beauty. Grandeur assists it but little, though pathos occasionally does so more or less, and sometimes also satire. The humorous style owes but little if anything to grandeur, something in certain cases to beauty, as also to pathos, and almost everything to satire. The representation of active animal life may have effect given to it occasionally by grandeur, and very often by beauty; some-times to an extent more or less limited, according to circumstances, by pathos, although very seldom, and to a very small extent, if ever, by satire. Landscape scenery, in its representation, is aided, more or less extensively, both by grandeur and beauty, according to the character of the particular composition ; very little if anything by pathos, and not at all by satire. The representation of dead nature can owe but little to grandeur, though to beauty it may be largely indebted, as also to pathos. To satire it will seldom be under any obligation. The representation of inanimate objects, exclusive of course of such as may constitute a portion of a landscape view, can be aided but slightly by grandeur, though beauty may be of essential service here. Pathos and ridicule, except under extraordinary and special circumstances, will be of little use.

Three distinct acts or stages of process are discernible in the perception and admiration alike of grandeur, beauty, pathos, and satire or ridicule, and which have already been referred to in a previous chapter.

In the first place, the object which is admired must strike the sense to which it is adapted. In the next place, a sensation by this means must be conveyed to the mind, and must affect it in an agreeable or gratifying manner. And in the third place, the intellectual faculties must be aroused or excited by this appeal to their notice ; which is indeed the test of the intellectual merit of the performance in whatever art.

Each of the orders of the picturesque already enumerated, are entirely distinct from and independent of the other, and indeed are not often united in the same object, whether natural or artistical. Beauty and grandeur, moreover, differ as essentially and as widely as do beauty and pathos.

In the case alike of grandeur, beauty, pathos, and ridicule, although each of the elements which constitute them contribute more or less to their formation, yet they are not all necessarily united in or essential to them. On the other hand, while certain of these elements are individually by themselves dispensable, yet unless a due proportion of them are found in any object, and in an extensive measure, it will fail to be largely endowed with these particular principles or orders of the picturesque.