Field And Hedgerow By Richard Jefferies

 -  The battle is the interest, the landscape merely the
stage. Till the latter days of European life the artist took - Page 290
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The Battle Is The Interest, The Landscape Merely The Stage.

Till the latter days of European life the artist took no notice of landscape.

The painting of hills and rocks and rivers, woods and fields, is of recent date, and even in these scenes the artist finds it necessary to place some animals or birds. Even now he cannot ignore the strong love of human beings for these creatures; if they are omitted the picture loses its interest to the majority of eyes. Every one knows how wonderfully popular the works of Landseer have been, and he was an animal painter, and his subjects chiefly suggested by sport. The same spirit that inspired the Cave-dweller to engrave the mammoth on the slab of ivory still lives in the hearts of men.

There is a beautiful etching of "The Poacher" (to which I shall have to recur); he is in the wood, and his dog is watching his upraised finger. From that finger the dog learns everything. He knows by its motion when to start, which way to go, what to do, whether to be quick or slow, to return or to remain away. He understands his master quite as well as if they conversed in human speech. He enters into the spirit of the enterprise. 'If you want your business done, go; if not, send' is true only of men. The poacher wants his business done, and he sends his agent - his dog - certain that it will be done for him better than he could do it himself.

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