SPAIN is a country of pungent personalities ; it should, therefore, be the paradise of the portrait painter. (I regret that I cannot avoid, precise and pedantic reader, the aggressive alliteration of that sentence. I have challenged every word in it and not one will consent to be removed.) Miguel de Unamuno, were he revising my proofs, would, I know, insist on altering ” personalities ” to ” individualities,” for he holds strong and definite convictions upon the gulf that lies between the meanings of these two words, which I confess I had always taken, if not for twins, at all events for very close blood relations. Indeed I am not sure even now, after attending patiently to his elucidations, that I have very clearly grasped the distinction.
It appears, however, that this distinction is essential to a right understanding of the psycho-logy of the Spaniard. For, so the Rector of the University of Salamanca maintains, if I have succeeded in interpreting him aright, the Spaniard combines a strongly marked individuality with an insufficiently developed personality. To assist my slow comprehension Don Miguel presented me with the metaphor of a crab (cangrejo), a creature which has evolved an impenetrable, armoured exterior to encase a somewhat amorphous and slushy inside. The Spaniard, according to this theory, is crab-like. He is intensely individualistic, acutely conscious of his own separate and distinct existence ; holds fast to every characteristic that distinguishes him from his fellow-man ; is unwilling, perhaps even unable, to merge himself in the being or the emotions or the ideas of others ; elbows his way through the world in a noli-me-tangere fashion ; erects a barrier round his soulthe very cloak in which he wraps himself is symbolical of his attitude of isolation and detachment from the outer world. And yet within this hard-cased individuality resides a personality that is poor in content. He is self-contained, but the self which he contains is a meagre one. Spiritually he is a Montenegrinone who inhabits a barren country but fights passionately for its independence.
It is possible to go further and to maintain that it is the very stubbornness of the Spaniard’s individuality that causes the impoverishment of the personality. How can he be rich interiorly when his protectionist policy leads him to hold up all alien imports at the frontier of his ego ? His unreceptiveness and hostility to foreign ideas precludes the possibility of any rich diversification within. His intellectual soil is poor for want of irrigation ; the atmosphere of his soul dry and dusty because he has kept its windows too long closed. Those who lay the iniquities of the Spanish Inquisition at the door of the Church would do well to remember that the Inquisition in Spain was a popular institution, by no means uncongenial to the temper of the people. For what is heresy but newness and strangeness of thought ? This intrusion of a disintegrating element the Spaniard resented and combated with the sharp sword of the Inquisition. He wished to preserve the purity of the spiritual breed, the integrity of the national individuality.
Perhaps you are wondering where this digression upon Spanish psychology is going to lead me. I had hoped that it would lead me back to Goya, but I confess that he is not within sight at present. I cannot help a certain feeling of uneasiness when I lose sight of my hero for long. (Yes, I have been very uneasy whilst writing many of these notes ! I am always imagining that you want to hear only about him, whereas I am always trying to interest you in something else. I have a suspicion that you are really more interested in Goya than I am. I fear you will blame me for bringing you to Spain on false pretences.Close this parenthesis immediately ? Thank you.)
From the portrait painter’s point of view it may be that this distinction between individuality and personality is not vital, for it is an interior distinction, and the painter is concerned, primarily, with the outside. This outside, this rind of individuality, is more striking and vivid in the Spaniard than in any other race of Europeans that I know. It seems to me that our modern civilisation has an obliterating effect upon the features. People who have been turned out wholesale by the same educational machine, like so many gross of pins, who are nourished by the same halfpenny Press, who are recreated by the films of the same picture palaces, who live in rows of houses and villas built by the same jerry-builder, can hardly be expected to differ very sharply from one another facially when they resemble one another in nearly every other respect. The features tend to become blurred like those of a composite photo-graph that strikes the average of a score of different faces. Men begin to assume a general look of indistinction. In an older country such as Spain, and by ” older ” I mean one that still stands for the most part high and dry above the rising tide of progress,” it is just the note of personal distinction that is most remarkable in the faces of the people. What Stevenson said of Raeburn’s portraits is equally true of them-” compared with the sort of living people one sees about the streets, they are as bright new sovereigns to fishy and obliterated sixpences.”
This sharp impression, as of a freshly minted coin, is also the most forcible characteristic of the men and women whom Goya painted. Whether their faces gave the lie to their souls and their inner personality was lacking in emphasis, it is impossible in most cases now to determine ; but the originality and rigour of their external individuality is unmistakable. They were essentially paintable people. Their faces are like lamps in which the bright flame of vitality burns keenly.
This fact suggests an interesting speculation which, were I possessed of adequate knowledge, I should like to discuss at length the question as to how far the personality of the painter is capable of reacting upon and stimulating the personality of the sitter. Anyone who has ever sat for his portrait, even if only at the photographer’s, must have been aware of experiencing a unique and uneasy sensation. There is first that surprising realisation of possessing a face, a possession which, curiously enough, one is seldom conscious of in everyday life. But still more disconcerting is the sudden challenge of the portraitist demanding the delivery not merely of your money (that only incidentally of course), but also of your life, your inner life, the personality which is your own private secret. The inter-rogation of the camera is so sudden and tactless that one is rarely ready with the answer in time, and hence results, I suppose, the fact that the photograph so seldom reveals a personality, but merely an expression of startled surprise or of blank mask-like nullity. I have a notion that a good deal of the portrait painter’s success, apart altogether from his manual skill, depends upon his magnetic power of drawing the shy secret personality, the subconscious self, if you like, from its inner recesses to the surface of the features. I don’t mean that he merely observes and records the character that is already plainly chronicled on the face for all the world to see, but that he actually summons the hidden self from its hiding-place and compels it to come forth, naked, to the light of day.
As there are already so many digressions in this book, and those of a personal kind, to apologise for another would be merely to affect a formality, which after all might be a little out of place on so informal a pilgrimage. It is about a portrait of myself. I once had my head drawn by a young artist whose name it would perhaps be indiscreet to mention. I had never met him before. He was one of those who prefer to work in silenceat all events he made no response to my offers of conversation. We confronted one another eye to eye, with something of that silent, motionless and tense alertness, so it seemed to me, which usually marks the encounter of two strange and interrogatory dogs. By degrees I felt growing up within me an uncontrollable resentment of this slow, persistent, ruthless inquisition. I was not dismayed at his taking possession of the outworks of my individuality, the merely structural and uninforming features, but when he implacably pursued his assault to the very innermost citadel, involuntarily I endeavoured to strengthen my defences, at all hazards to screen my private self, passionately determining not to be sacked and looted even in my secret chambers. The resentment sharpened into positive hatred. I bristled with a quite. unreasoning and canine hostility. There was a palpable antagonism between us. When at last the drawing was completed I saw that I had suffered defeat. There in black and white every undesirable quality in my nature was stated with minute and cruel precision, every secret that I could have wished to conceal had been haled forth and put on public view, and with a kind of final, insolent flourish the artist had even published that very hostility, so bitter yet so unavailing, which he himself had evoked and triumphed over. It was not so much a portrait as a record of the clash of wills. By means of some unaccountable magic he had expelled the Jekyll and aroused the Hyde in me ; he had painted, not a compromise of the two, such as artists are wont to paint, but unadulterated Hyde. There are some among my friends who have told me, perhaps with a fine disregard of that candour which is so disintegrating to friendship, that they cannot recognise me in the drawing at all. But, unhappily for my peace of soul, I can recognise myself in it only too well.
Doubtless, it was in the light of this experience that I read many of Goya’s portraits ; andperhaps you will say that it was only guessworkI could not resist the conclusion that he too had a keen eye for the more sinister qualities in a man’s character and, what is more, a certain malicious glee in dragging them from their lurking-places and exposing them upon the canvas. Look at that portrait of brother-in-law Bayeu here in the Prado. An exquisite harmony of silver-greys, a trifle gayer and shriller than Velasquez would have allowed himself, you may say, but a thing of sheer beautyit is all that and something more. True, when it was painted the brothers-in-law were on more friendly terms than in the old days at Zaragozafor had not Bayeu been instrumental in securing for Goya the commission for the tapestries ?and yet it does not require a very discerning eye to detect, if not a malicious, at least a mischievous, intention in Goya’s brush. The narrow, scanning eyes, the puckered brow, the austerely drooping mouth, the precisely frizzed hair,how deliberately the cumulative effect is designed to hint at the narrow, pedantic, conventional mind. The painter has underlined with just a nuance of contempt the academician in Bayeu. I fancy it is his retaliation for that tactless resolution of the Chapter of El Pilar recommending him to be grateful to his brother-in-law !
Not unlike in composition and colour scheme is the portrait of Doctor Peral in the National Gallery. I know nothing whatever about the private life of this gentleman, but Goya has taken care that we shall not fail to catch his sinister aspect. He seems even to have leapt upon it, like a beast of prey upon his victim, with a kind of brutal rapture. How ruthlessly he fastens upon that crooked mouth, those eyes that strike you cold ! I recollect too that full-length portrait of the Duke of San Carlos which I saw at the offices of the Canal Imperial at Zaragoza. A very active, intelligent and business-like nobleman to the best of my knowledge, but Goya has rather spitefully made a mock of his dignity, giving him a dandiacal strut, a laughable air of self-conscious importance, and that touch of the manikin which makes the whole world of Goya’s genteel sitters kin.’
It must have demanded no slight degree of courage in a churchman to take his stand before Goya’s easel. He had a priest for his brother and helped him to a chaplaincy, and a priest for his best friend and first benefactor, Father Felix Salzedo ; yet no man ever exclaimed with a bitterer ring of conviction than Goya, ” Le cléricalisme, voila l’ennemi ! ” If he ever suffered ill-usage from a bullying cura at Fuendetodos he took an excessive revenge upon the cloth in his portraits. When painting a churchman he always mixed his paint with gall. All the evil that has ever been spoken of the much-abused Society of Jesus seems comparatively scatheless beside his portrait of Father Antonio Llorente, the learned historian of the Inquisition, whose countenance is a pungent epitome of the legendary astuteness and smiling inhumanity of the Jesuit. ” That one may smile and smile and be a villain,” is the painter’s comment. Even more terrible in its unsparing denunciation is his rendering of the dark hypocrisy and domineering arrogance of the president of the Inquisition, Canon Ramon Pignatelli, who, if Casanova’s scandalous gossip can be believed, was not undeserving of his place in Goya’s pillory.
But Goya was impartial in his censorship. He lashed no one more cruelly than Urquijo, the fiercely anti-clerical Secretary of State. There is at any rate more of the man in the full-blooded Pignatelli than in this sly, incompetent, mean-hearted creature who wormed his way into office by sycophancy, who doted on Tom Paine’s ” Age of Reason,” and received from Napoleon, without winking, the gift of a Bible ! Nor was Goya kinder to the military habit. Never, except in his own etchings, has the ferocity engendered by the trade of killing been revealed in starker nakedness than in his portrait of General Juan Martin.
But it would be wearisome and profitless to go through the whole range of Goya’s portraiture taking note of his lynx eye for the weaker side of human nature. (Of an example supposed to be the most audacious of all, his treatment of the Queen, I shall have occasion to speak presently.) Just as Ribera delighted to depict the physical dishonour of man Goya delights to hint at the ignobility of his soul. He knew not the meaning of hero-worship and was incapable of painting a halo. In almost all his portraits there is something disparaging, belittling, derogatory. In such terms might Swift have painted his contemporaries had he been the portraitist of his age. Hogarth affords but a partial parallel. He too was a satirist in paint, but his satires were for the most part the pictorial illustrations of the awful examples of the popular preacher. He dealt in the stock-in-trade of the satiristvice, vanity, avarice, chicanery, sloth. And in portraiture he was more than equitable, he was generous. A man who could regard the common stuff of humanity with the genial, tolerant, humorous sympathy that smiles from the canvas on which he has painted the heads of his servants, must verily have had a fair share of the milk of human kindness in him. Goya was less a satirist than a mocker. Standing before his portraits we seem to overhear not the moral intonation of the preacher, but the sneer of some satanic critic, cheapening the merits of the Great Artist’s overrated masterpiece, Man. Often he seems to stray upon the verge of caricature, but never trespasses over the boundary line. For caricature consists in a gross exaggeration of the truth. I do not think Goya ever consciously exaggerated. His satire is telling because it is truth-telling. But it does not tell the whole truth it omits the extenuating circumstances, it suppresses the redeeming graces. In striking the balance of a man’s character he invariably under-wrote the items on the credit side.
It may be that this bitter cynical temper is less individual than racial, Iberian, or at any rate Aragonese, and springs from some strain in the blood. The hypothesis is perhaps one which only he who is equipped with a wide and deep-reaching knowledge of the Peninsula and its people should venture to put forward. It haunts me, although I confess I cannot adduce much evidence in its support. This same contemptuous quality does not plainly appear in any other Spanish painter. Ribera painted a kind of lacerated humanity, but without ever assailing spiritual dignity. Velasquez gave elegance and distinction even to his beggars and buffoons ; his palette was a fount of honour from which every sitter derived a patent of nobilitybut, as I have said before, Velasquez seems to me always to oppose the main stream of Spanish tendencies. In the literature and in the character of the people, however, we are continually aware of a certain harsh and brutal outlook upon men and things, a materialistic scepticism, a doubt or even a denial of the high graces and grandeurs of the spirit, a kind of realism run amuck ; a quality which we may call, in a word, Sancho-Panzaism. You may say that this temper is merely the temper of the peasant all over Europe, and is to be found in Yorkshire and Normandy as well as in Castille and Aragon. But I think that nowhere does it demand so unrestrained and savage an expression as in Spain. Nowhere have I heard the note of disparagement sounded with such a bitter vehemence as among popular Spanish audiences. I remember once
But I must begin a new paragraph. I regret to find myself embarked upon a considerable digression.I remember that one night (or to be quite truthful, several nights) I amused my leisure, as Dr Johnson would put it, by visiting the Teatro Madrileno. The theatre is not, as its name might be supposed to imply, the principal theatre in Madrid ; it is situated in the somewhat unfashionable Calle de Toledo, and the price of a stall in the front row is one peseta. They detain you, in the manner of Continental railway companies, in a little bare waiting-room before allowing you into the hall, with the object of inducing you to partake in a series of petty lotteries of about a minute’s duration each, the tickets being of the value of a halfpenny, and the prize, a tiny bottle of villainous viridian liqueur, I suppose rather less. But I am not digressing merely in order to indicate the ubiquity of the lottery system. For me, the main interest of this little theatre lay not even in the performers but in the audience. I do not wish to disparage the performers. They were of course all dancers (happily the taste for knock-about and ” back-chat artists is still undeveloped in the more popular, Spanish music halls), and their dancing was as good as you are likely to see in Madrid, although that qualification, I admit, comes perilously near to damning with faint praise. But I had not been there long before I was forced to conclude that the audience had not come to applaud good dancing they were unmistakably happier when they were loudly censuring bad. And yet the dancing was not wholly bad ; some of it had the rare and very delightful charm of immaturity.
I remember one child who came on the stageI suppose she was midway in her teensa willowy slip of a girl, dressed in the familiar short jacket and baggy trousers closely fitted to the hips. I guessed that it was her first appearance. She went through all the conventional movements with a most deliciously unconventional grace. She twisted her long, lithe body into the desired contortions ; she stamped with resonant heels ; she made the most harmlessly fierce grimaces. And all the time she laughed, with clear, girlish laughter, at her own incompetence. Yet it was an incompetence far more gracious than the precise perfection of the practised ballerina. The rhythm of youth was in every line of her body. All her motions had the happy zest of irresponsible, glad, natural things, lambs and butterflies and little children. She seemed to bring into this alien slum the freshness of uncorrupted places, the mood of bright May mornings and tossing blossoms and running water. I thought too that she must surely bring a smile to every heart, for her own smile was so gay, irrepressible, infectious, disarming. But it did not avail to disarm the hostility of this censorious audience. They watched her for a moment or two in chilly silence, then growled disapprovingly, then burst into a frenzy of jeers, hoots, cat-calls. They told her their opinion of her with crude precision. ” Puera I” (Outside !) ” Que no vuelva ! ” (And don’t come back again !) Amidst a tempest of insults the inspired child, smiling tearfully now, fluttered into the wings.
Perhaps you don’t think much of the incident. But if you had been sitting there in the stalls I am sure you would have been aware of a calculated stinging and brutal opposition that would have shocked you, had you been accustomed only to the tepid disfavour of an English audience. It was not simple candour, nor yet was it mere unthinking heartlessness there was a palpable relish in it, the screaming joy of a pack in full cry. It was plain that the spectators needed, to complete their happiness, the anguish of a hunted creature. And it was the same with all the other performers. Each came forward to the dingy foot-lights with an undisguised desire to please. But the spectators’ pleasure was in their failure. Good, bad and indifferent, young and autumnal, artless and provocative, all had to submit to their baiting, to receive the chastisement of their well-meaning imperfections, to stand as a target for ragged satire, and finally to retire, with what wounded grace was left to them, before a salvo of Pueras ” and “Que no vuelvas.” And when the curtain dropped for the last time, the audience rose with faces bright with satisfaction, like a company of sportsmen at the close of a day on which they have dealt out death with liberal and unfaltering hand.
This same popular characteristicthe quick eye for a weakness and the unsparing manifestation of contemptis a common phenomenon of the bull-ring. I am convinced that a perfect exhibition of skill on the part of the diestro would not afford the spectators a perfect pleasure. They can be rapturously generous, with the safe and inexpensive generosity of the bull-ring, showering upon their hero hats, sticks and wineskins, which he and his attendants promptly return to their owners. But I think they would consider that they had not quite got their money’s worth if they were denied an occasion for that exhilarating howl of execration which follows an unhappy error like the peal of thunder after the lightning flash.
I am afraid we have again strayed rather far from Goya and his portraits. I think that when we last parted company with him I was casting about for some theory that might help to explain his accusatory attitude before his sitters. And I have thought to find a partial explanation in this imperative tendency of the Spanish mind, and above all of the Spanish peasant mind, to mistrust, to scrutinise with suspicion and hostility, to condemn without quarter, and to exult in the condemnation. Again I think it is of significant import that Goya was of peasant stock. His genius was like a sudden explosion of the latent passions of the race. Thrown abruptly into a circle of rank and fashion far above that of his origin, and pleased, as undeniably he was, to move in that glittering galaxy, he nevertheless preserved no little portion of the peasant’s ingrained suspicion and disdain of the unlabouring rich. I have even been aware, especially in his full-length portraits, of what has seemed to me to be an expression of physical contempt. Possibly this impression may in part be accounted for by the habitual shortness of the figures, in part by his usually perfunctory treatment of the legs, a formula of black knee-breeches and white stockings which rarely give any indication of firm muscle and solid bone within ; but no observer can fail to be struck with that air of the puppet and the manikin which he frequently obliges his men to wear. You can see it in the portrait of the Duke of San Carlos, in the cartoons for the tapestries, in the etchings. Goya himself was a man not only of intense vitality but also of great bodily vigour, and in painting the portraits of the lordlings and courtiers who commanded his brush he seems to have indulged his amused contempt for their frail limbs and flaccid muscles.
Miguel de Unamuno has somewhere remarked that any picture by a great painter portrays its author better than those portraits which he paints expressly of himself. Almost invariably all the sitters to a great portrait painter, however various and individual their features, will be found to participate in a common family likeness, unobtrusive perhaps but unmistakable by the close observer. This common denominator, this general cast of countenance which the painter has imposed upon his sitters rather than surprised in them, may be trusted to give the index to the painter’s own character. It is the reflex of his own temperament. It hints at the qualities which he himself possesses, or at any rate desiderates. It would not be difficult to multiply instances endlessly. It is incredible that all the men whom El Greco painted should have been mystics ; yet in each of their worn pallid faces burns the same keen, dry flame of the spirit. No human beings can have been more unlike than the misbegotten dwarfs and the high-born grandees of the Court of Philip II. ; yet Velasquez gave them equally that reserve and singular distinction the source of which was in his own serenity. Van Dyck provided all his, sitters with a pedigree ; Hals’s men are recognisable by their gross health and spirits and that incurable tendency to break out into the chorus of ” For he’s a jolly good fellow,” or what-ever its Dutch equivalent may be ; Reynolds bestowed upon his ladies and gentlemen alike a liberal measure of his English sanity and candour ; Gainsborough’s sitters are compelled to wear his own hue of melancholy, while Lawrence’s, on the other hand, are startled into a bright and meretricious animation, which doubtless some of them must have been surprised to find that they possessed.
It would seem at first sight that Goya was an exception to the general rule. His numerous progeny disowns a common kinship. The Duke of San Carlos is not on speaking terms with Bayeu ; Canon Pignatelli would cut the rationalist Urquijo dead if they were hung together in the same gallery ; it is difficult to believe that Moratin, the gentle poet, and the fire-eating General Juan Martin could have been denizens of the same planet. The common denominator is lacking. It might be said, if you will pardon me for dragging in these tedious terms, that Goya was an objective rather than a subjective painter. His gaze was searching, inquisitorial, analytic ; he never looked at his sitters through the coloured glasses of sentiment, as his predecessor, Murillo, had done. He furnished them with no credentials of nobility, or dignity, or virtue, to which they could not establish an authentic claim ; gave them no other passport to immortality than the signature of his own brush. He who assigns to men desirable attributes must have a belief in their desirability. Goya had scant belief in anything. His mind was essentially sceptical, iconoclastic. He had a prejudice against human nature, at all events against that section of it which came under his observation in Madrid at the close of the eighteenth century. He had the instinct of denigration. It is not surprising, therefore, that his sitters should conform to no general type. Each has to stand on his own merits, or rather on his own demerits.
” To me it has never ceased to be a matter of surprise,” Mr William Rothenstein has remarked, pertinently enough, ” that, seeing the frankness of his attitude, both as regards his art and his life, all the aristocracy of Spain should have been so eager to sit before him and become possessors of his pictures and his prints.” No doubt the ladies and gentlemen could have wished their features to be limned by a more tactful and courtier-like deferential hand. Fashion, however, is a hard task-master, and it must not be overlooked that Goya enjoyed the title of Pintor de Cámara and the favour of their Majesties. He seems, moreover, to have had a way with him, this bluff peasant’s son of Fuendetodos. His personal conduct was not quite so lacking in tactful deference as his art. And he had at least one superb merit, which not even the most conventional sitter can have failed to appreciatehis portraits were always alive. In many cases I suspect that they were more alive than the living sitter.
It should not be forgotten that Spain, when it sat to Goya for its portrait, had a sluggish pulse. To that fit of extravagant energy which conquered the Americas and launched the Armada succeeded a long bedridden period of exhaustion and convalescence. The Counter-Reformation lit a fire in the Spaniard’s soul which the eighteenth-century Enlightenment almost extinguished. In one of the essays of José Cadalso, a contemporary of Goya, there is a passage which opens a peep-hole into the daily life of the average well-to-do Spaniard of the time. ” There are in Spain,” he says, ” many thousands of men who rise very late ; drink chocolate, very hot, and water, cold; dress themselves ; take a stroll in the plaza ; quiz a good-looking girl or two ; hear Mass ; return to the plaza ; acquaint themselves with the latest local slander, and tittle-tattle ; return home ; eat very slowly ; take their siesta ; get up again ; take a stroll in the country ; return home ; take a little refreshment ; go to an evening party play a game of cards ; return home ; pray ; sup and go to bed.”
An extreme simplification of the art of life, is it not ? These leisurely gentlemen were merely amateurs of living. They required a little coaching from an expert in the art, such as Pepys, or Casanova, or Goya himselfmen who thought it shame ” on this short day of frost and sun to sleep before evening.”
Of such human invertebrates a large proportion of the raw material of Goya’s canvases consisted. True, he painted the whole ” Who’s Who ” of his daystatesmen, soldiers, writers, actors, priests, bullfightersall those who did anything or thought anything in the villa y corte of Madrid. The elect, however, who did and thought, were but a handful among the thousands who merely strolled in the plazas, returned home, prayed, supped and went to bed, repeating themselves like recurring decimals. But take a glance at the men and women in Goya’s portrait gallery.
There is a common denominator after allvitality, keen, interior, sometimes subterranean almost, but always shining through the veil of the flesh. Every one of them seems to be living where Walter Pater would have us all live, ” at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy.” However dimly burned the flame of life, however darkly it was screened by habit and convention, Goya had an eye for it. Rather than quench the smoking flax, he fanned it into a blaze. I think no other portrait painter possessed in the same degree as Goya that magic quality, which I spoke of a little while ago, of rousing, stimulating, kindling the personality of his sitters. He summoned the life to their faces as an insult summons the blood. He waked them from their lethargy as with a trumpet blast. He made them share, at least for the moment, his own overflowing and tumultuous vitality.
It would be interesting to compare a portrait by Goya with one of the same character by another hand. You can make one such comparison by going to the British Museum and demanding to see his drawing in sanguine of the head of the Duke of Wellington. I no longer marvel that Wellington has never secured that intimate place in the affections of his countrymen which the Mighty Seaman has won. They have never seen him as he really wasassuming that they have never seen that portrait in the British Museum. One’s mental image of the Iron Duke seems some-how to be derived from public monuments in provincial towns, where he presides, aloof, austere, glacial, over the din of tramcars and the frothy menaces of socialistic agitators. He is the man with the marble mask, as incapable of quickening sympathy as the Sphinx. But Goya broke through that British reserve, for which, I suppose, more than for the victory of Waterloo, the playing fields of Eton are responsible, and startled the soul into his face. It is an intrepid, exalted, fiery, yet delicately sensitive soul that transforms the marble mask into a mobile face, half that of Irish fighter and half that of a young Greek god. For once Goya has drawn a hero.
There is a fascination in Goya’s portraits different from the fascination of those of any other painter, except perhaps of El Greco. And in both cases the fascination springs from the painter’s keen perception of a mysterious, flame-like, inward vitality. This terrible quality of life was for Goya the mystery of mysteries. He never came to accept it as a fact of stale experience. It was a miracle that renewed itself every time that a human being took his stand before his easel. Hence in all the men and women that he painted there is something elemental and incalculable, something which at the last eludes analysis. They are never limited and circumscribed. Of the sitters of our greatest English portraitists you can usually predicate something certain and definite. You can say that they were country squires, or architects, or bankers, or men of letters, or women of fashion. Goya’s sitters were all these and some-thing more. Breeched, flounced, bewigged, be-. powdered, trapped in the cage of civilisation, they still remain earth’s sons and daughters, and their bright eyes glitter dangerously through the bars of the cage. Even though they’ are of the chocolate-drinking, plaza-strolling order, yet they have not quite put out the secret flame. Some night, as they return home to pray and sup, the great adventure may befall them.