Presently I Would Come
To A Picture That Struck Me As Being Distinctly Worth While.
my untutored conceptions it possessed unlimited beauty.
was, it seemed to me, life in the figures, reality in the colors,
grace in the grouping. And then, just when I was beginning really
to enjoy it, the guide would come and snatch me away.
He would tell me the picture I thought I admired was of no account
whatsoever - that the artist who painted it had not yet been dead
long enough to give his work any permanent value; and he would
drag me off to look at a cracked and crumbling canvas depicting a
collection of saints of lacquered complexions and hardwood
expressions, with cast-iron trees standing up against cotton batting
clouds in the background, and a few extra halos floating round
indiscriminately, like sun dogs on a showery day, and, up above,
the family entrance into heaven hospitably ajar; and he would
command me to bask my soul in this magnificent example of real art
and not waste time on inconsequential and trivial things. Guides
have the same idea of an artist that a Chinaman entertains for an
egg. A fresh egg or a fresh artist will not do. It must have the
perfume of antiquity behind it to make it attractive.
At the Louvre, in Paris, on the first day of the two we spent
there, we had for our guide a tall, educated Prussian, who had an
air about him of being an ex-officer of the army.
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