Read LECTURE IV of Aratra Pentelici‚ Seven Lectures on the Elements of Sculpture, free online book, by John Ruskin, on


November, 1870.

109. You were probably vexed, and tired, towards the close of my last Lecture, by the time it took us to arrive at the apparently simple conclusion that sculpture must only represent organic form, and the strength of life in its contest with matter. But it is no small thing to have that “” fixed in your minds, as the one necessary sign by which you are to recognize right sculpture; and, believe me, you will find it the best of all things, if you can take for yourselves the saying from the lips of the Athenian maids, in its entirety, and say also. I proceed to-day into the practical appliance of this apparently speculative, but in reality imperative, law.

110. You observe, I have hitherto spoken of the power of Athena, as over painting no less than sculpture. But her rule over both arts is only so far as they are zoographic; representative, that is to say, of animal life, or of such order and discipline among other elements, as may invigorate and purify it. Now there is a speciality of the art of painting beyond this, namely, the representation of phenomena of color and shadow, as such, without question of the nature of the things that receive them. I am now accordingly obliged to speak of sculpture and painting as distinct arts: but the laws which bind sculpture, bind no less the painting of the higher schools, which has, for its main purpose, the showing beauty in human or animal form; and which is therefore placed by the Greeks equally under the rule of Athena, as the Spirit, first, of Life, and then of Wisdom in conduct.

111. First, I say, you are to ‘see Pallas’ in all such work, as the Queen of Life; and the practical law which follows from this, is one of enormous range and importance, namely, that nothing must be represented by sculpture, external to any living form, which does not help to enforce or illustrate the conception of life. Both dress and armor may be made to do this, by great sculptors, and are continually so used by the greatest. One of the essential distinctions between the Athenian and Florentine schools is dependent on their treatment of drapery in this respect; an Athenian always sets it to exhibit the action of the body, by flowing with it, or over it, or from it, so as to illustrate both its form and gesture; a Florentine, on the contrary, always uses his drapery to conceal or disguise the forms of the body, and exhibit mental emotion; but both use it to enhance the life, either of the body or soul; Donatello and Michael Angelo, no less than the sculptors of Gothic chivalry, ennoble armor in the same way; but base sculptors carve drapery and armor for the sake of their folds and picturesqueness only, and forget the body beneath. The rule is so stern, that all delight in mere incidental beauty, which painting often triumphs in, is wholly forbidden to sculpture; for instance, in painting the branch of a tree, you may rightly represent and enjoy the lichens and moss on it, but a sculptor must not touch one of them: they are inessential to the tree’s life, he must give the flow and bending of the branch only, else he does not enough ‘see Pallas’ in it.

Or, to take a higher instance, here is an exquisite little painted poem, by Edward Frere; a cottage interior, one of the thousands which within the last two months have been laid desolate in unhappy France. Every accessory in the painting is of value the fireside, the tiled floor, the vegetables lying upon it, and the basket hanging from the roof. But not one of these accessories would have been admissible in sculpture. You must carve nothing but what has life. “Why?” you probably feel instantly inclined to ask me. You see the principle we have got, instead of being blunt or useless, is such an edged tool that you are startled the moment I apply it. “Must we refuse every pleasant accessory and picturesque detail, and petrify nothing but living creatures?” Even so: I would not assert it on my own authority. It is the Greeks who say it, but whatever they say of sculpture, be assured, is true.

112. That then is the first law you must see Pallas as the Lady of Life; the second is, you must see her as the Lady of Wisdom; or and this is the chief matter of all. I cannot but think that, after the considerations into which we have now entered, you will find more interest than hitherto in comparing the statements of Aristotle, in the Ethics, with those of Plato in the Polity, which are authoritative as Greek definitions of goodness in art, and which you may safely hold authoritative as constant definitions of it. You remember, doubtless, that the, or, for the sake of which Phidias is called as a sculpture, and Polyclitus as an image-maker, Eth 6. 7. (the opposition is both between ideal and portrait sculpture, and between working in stone and bronze), consists in the “,” “the mental apprehension of the things that are most honorable in their nature.” Therefore, what is indeed most lovely, the true image-maker will most love; and what is most hateful, he will most hate; and in all things discern the best and strongest part of them, and represent that essentially, or, if the opposite of that, then with manifest detestation and horror. That is his art wisdom; the knowledge of good and evil, and the love of good, so that you may discern, even in his representation of the vilest thing, his acknowledgment of what redemption is possible for it, or latent power exists in it; and, contrariwise, his sense of its present misery. But, for the most part, he will idolize, and force us also to idolize, whatever is living, and virtuous, and victoriously right; opposing to it in some definite mode the image of the conquered.

113. This is generally true of both the great arts; but in severity and precision, true of sculpture. To return to our illustration: this poor little girl was more interesting to Edward Frere, he being a painter, because she was poorly dressed, and wore these clumsy shoes, and old red cap, and patched gown. May we sculpture her so? No We may sculpture her naked, if we like; but not in rags.

But if we may not put her into marble in rags, may we give her a pretty frock with ribbons and flounces to it, and put her into marble in that? No We may put her simplest peasant’s dress, so it be perfect and orderly, into marble; anything finer than that would be more dishonorable in the eyes of Athena than rags. If she were a French princess, you might carve her embroidered robe and diadem; if she were Joan of Arc, you might carve her armor for then these also would be “,” not otherwise.

114. Is not this an edge-tool we have got hold of, unawares? and a subtle one too; so delicate and cimeter-like in decision. For note that even Joan of Arc’s armor must be only sculptured, if she has it on; it is not the honorableness or beauty of it that are enough, but the direct bearing of it by her body. You might be deeply, even pathetically, interested by looking at a good knight’s dinted coat of mail, left in his desolate hall. May you sculpture it where it hangs? No; the helmet for his pillow, if you will no more.

You see we did not do our dull work for nothing in last Lecture. I define what we have gained once more, and then we will enter on our new ground.

115. The proper subject of sculpture, we have determined, is the spiritual power seen in the form of any living thing, and so represented as to give evidence that the sculptor has loved the good of it and hated the evil.

So represented,” we say; but how is that to be done? Why should it not be represented, if possible, just as it is seen? What mode or limit of representation may we adopt? We are to carve things that have life; shall we try so to imitate them that they may indeed seem living, or only half living, and like stone instead of flesh?

It will simplify this question if I show you three examples of what the Greeks actually did: three typical pieces of their sculpture, in order of perfection.

116. And now, observe that in all our historical work, I will endeavor to do, myself, what I have asked you to do in your drawing exercises; namely, to outline firmly in the beginning, and then fill in the detail more minutely. I will give you first, therefore, in a symmetrical form, absolutely simple and easily remembered, the large chronology of the Greek school; within that unforgettable scheme we will place, as we discover them, the minor relations of arts and times.

I number the nine centuries before Christ thus, upwards, and divide them into three groups of three each.



B. BEST.            {



Then the ninth, eighth, and seventh centuries are the period of archaic Greek art, steadily progressive wherever it existed.

The sixth, fifth, and fourth are the period of Central Greek art; the fifth, or central, century producing the finest. That is easily recollected by the battle of Marathon. And the third, second, and first centuries are the period of steady decline.

Learn this A B C thoroughly, and mark, for yourselves, what you, at present, think the vital events in each century. As you know more, you will think other events the vital ones; but the best historical knowledge only approximates to true thought in that matter; only be sure that what is truly vital in the character which governs events, is always expressed by the art of the century; so that if you could interpret that art rightly, the better part of your task in reading history would be done to your hand.

117. It is generally impossible to date with precision art of the archaic period often difficult to date even that of the central three hundred years. I will not weary you with futile minor divisions of time; here are three coins roughly, but decisively, characteristic of the three ages. The first is an early coin of Tarentum. The city was founded, as you know, by the Spartan Phalanthus, late in the eighth century. I believe the head is meant for that of Apollo Archegetes; it may however be Taras, the son of Poseidon; it is no matter to us at present whom it is meant for, but the fact that we cannot know, is itself of the greatest import. We cannot say, with any certainty, unless by discovery of some collateral evidence, whether this head is intended for that of a god, or demigod, or a mortal warrior. Ought not that to disturb some of your thoughts respecting Greek idealism? Farther, if by investigation we discover that the head is meant for that of Phalanthus, we shall know nothing of the character of Phalanthus from the face; for there is no portraiture at this early time.

118. The second coin is of AEnus in Macedonia; probably of the fifth or early fourth century, and entirely characteristic of the central period. This we know to represent the face of a god Hermes. The third coin is a king’s, not a city’s. I will not tell you, at this moment, what king’s; but only that it is a late coin of the third period, and that it is as distinct in purpose as the coin of Tarentum is obscure. We know of this coin, that it represents no god nor demigod, but a mere mortal; and we know precisely, from the portrait, what that mortal’s face was like.

119. A glance at the three coins, as they are set side by side, will now show you the main differences in the three great Greek styles. The archaic coin is sharp and hard; every line decisive and numbered, set unhesitatingly in its place; nothing is wrong, though everything incomplete, and, to us who have seen finer art, ugly. The central coin is as decisive and clear in arrangement of masses, but its contours are completely rounded and finished. There is no character in its execution so prominent that you can give an epithet to the style. It is not hard, it is not soft, it is not delicate, it is not coarse, it is not grotesque, it is not beautiful; and I am convinced, unless you had been told that this is fine central Greek art, you would have seen nothing at all in it to interest you. Do not let yourselves be anywise forced into admiring it; there is, indeed, nothing more here than an approximately true rendering of a healthy youthful face, without the slightest attempt to give an expression of activity, cunning, nobility, or any other attribute of the Mercurial mind. Extreme simplicity, unpretending vigor of work, which claims no admiration either for minuteness or dexterity, and suggests no idea of effort at all; refusal of extraneous ornament, and perfectly arranged disposition of counted masses in a sequent order, whether in the beads, or the ringlets of hair; this is all you have to be pleased with; neither will you ever find, in the best Greek Art, more. You might at first suppose that the chain of beads round the cap was an extraneous ornament; but I have little doubt that it is as definitely the proper fillet for the head of Hermes, as the olive for Zeus, or corn for Triptolemus. The cap or petasus cannot have expanded edges; there is no room for them on the coin; these must be understood, therefore; but the nature of the cloud-petasus is explained by edging it with beads, representing either dew or hail. The shield of Athena often bears white pellets for hail, in like manner.

120. The third coin will, I think, at once strike you by what we moderns should call its ‘vigor of character.’ You may observe also that the features are finished with great care and subtlety, but at the cost of simplicity and breadth. But the essential difference between it and the central art, is its disorder in design you see the locks of hair cannot be counted any longer they are entirely disheveled and irregular. Now the individual character may, or may not, be a sign of decline; but the licentiousness, the casting loose of the masses in the design, is an infallible one. The effort at portraiture is good for art if the men to be portrayed are good men, not otherwise. In the instance before you, the head is that of Mithridates VI. of Pontus, who had, indeed, the good qualities of being a linguist and a patron of the arts; but, as you will remember, murdered, according to report, his mother, certainly his brother, certainly his wives and sisters, I have not counted how many of his children, and from a hundred to a hundred and fifty thousand persons besides; these last in a single day’s massacre. The effort to represent this kind of person is not by any means a method of study from life ultimately beneficial to art.

121. This, however, is not the point I have to urge to-day. What I want you to observe is, that though the master of the great time does not attempt portraiture, he does attempt animation. And as far as his means will admit, he succeeds in making the face you might almost think vulgarly animated; as like a real face, literally, ’as it can stare.’ Yes: and its sculptor meant it to be so; and that was what Phidias meant his Jupiter to be, if he could manage it. Not, indeed, to be taken for Zeus himself; and yet, to be as like a living Zeus as art could make it. Perhaps you think he tried to make it look living only for the sake of the mob, and would not have tried to do so for connoisseurs. Pardon me; for real connoisseurs he would, and did; and herein consists a truth which belongs to all the arts, and which I will at once drive home in your minds, as firmly as I can.

122. All second-rate artists (and remember, the second-rate ones are a loquacious multitude, while the great come only one or two in a century; and then, silently) all second-rate artists will tell you that the object of fine art is not resemblance, but some kind of abstraction more refined than reality. Put that out of your heads at once. The object of the great Resemblant Arts is, and always has been, to resemble; and to resemble as closely as possible. It is the function of a good portrait to set the man before you in habit as he lived, and I would we had a few more that did so. It is the function of a good landscape to set the scene before you in its reality; to make you, if it may be, think the clouds are flying, and the streams foaming. It is the function of the best sculptor the true Daedalus to make stillness look like breathing, and marble look like flesh.

123. And in all great times of art, this purpose is as naively expressed as it is steadily held. All the talk about abstraction belongs to periods of decadence. In living times, people see something living that pleases them; and they try to make it live forever, or to make something as like it as possible, that will last forever. They paint their statues, and inlay the eyes with jewels, and set real crowns on the heads; they finish, in their pictures, every thread of embroidery, and would fain, if they could, draw every leaf upon the trees. And their only verbal expression of conscious success is that they have made their work ‘look real.’

124. You think all that very wrong. So did I, once; but it was I that was wrong. A long time ago, before ever I had seen Oxford, I painted a picture of the Lake of Como, for my father. It was not at all like the Lake of Como; but I thought it rather the better for that. My father differed with me; and objected particularly to a boat with a red and yellow awning, which I had put into the most conspicuous corner of my drawing. I declared this boat to be ‘necessary to the composition.’ My father not the less objected, that he had never seen such a boat, either at Como or elsewhere; and suggested that if I would make the lake look a little more like water, I should be under no necessity of explaining its nature by the presence of floating objects. I thought him at the time a very simple person for his pains; but have since learned, and it is the very gist of all practical matters, which, as Professor of Fine Art, I have now to tell you, that the great point in painting a lake is to get it to look like water.

125. So far, so good. We lay it down for a first principle that our graphic art, whether painting or sculpture, is to produce something which shall look as like Nature as possible. But now we must go one step farther, and say that it is to produce what shall look like Nature to people who know what Nature is like! You see this is at once a great restriction, as well as a great exaltation of our aim. Our business is not to deceive the simple; but to deceive the wise! Here, for instance, is a modern Italian print, representing, to the best of its power, St. Cecilia, in a brilliantly realistic manner. And the fault of the work is not in its earnest endeavor to show St. Cecilia in habit as she lived, but in that the effort could only be successful with persons unaware of the habit St. Cecilia lived in. And this condition of appeal only to the wise increases the difficulty of imitative resemblance so greatly, that, with only average skill or materials, we must surrender all hope of it, and be content with an imperfect representation, true as far as it reaches, and such as to excite the imagination of a wise beholder to complete it; though falling very far short of what either he or we should otherwise have desired. For instance, here is a suggestion, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, of the general appearance of a British Judge, requiring the imagination of a very wise beholder indeed to fill it up, or even at first to discover what it is meant for. Nevertheless, it is better art than the Italian St. Cecilia, because the artist, however little he may have done to represent his knowledge, does, indeed, know altogether what a Judge is like, and appeals only to the criticism of those who know also.

126. There must be, therefore, two degrees of truth to be looked for in the good graphic arts; one, the commonest, which, by any partial or imperfect sign, conveys to you an idea which you must complete for yourself; and the other, the finest, a representation so perfect as to leave you nothing to be farther accomplished by this independent exertion; but to give you the same feeling of possession and presence which you would experience from the natural object itself. For instance of the first, in this representation of a rainbow, the artist has no hope that, by the black lines of engraving, he can deceive you into any belief of the rainbow’s being there, but he gives indication enough of what he intends, to enable you to supply the rest of the idea yourself, providing always you know beforehand what a rainbow is like. But in this drawing of the falls of Terni, the painter has strained his skill to the utmost to give an actually deceptive resemblance of the iris, dawning and fading among the foam. So far as he has not actually deceived you, it is not because he would not have done so if he could; but only because his colors and science have fallen short of his desire. They have fallen so little short, that, in a good light, you may all but believe the foam, and the sunshine are drifting and changing among the rocks.

127. And after looking a little while, you will begin to regret that they are not so: you will feel that, lovely as the drawing is, you would like far better to see the real place, and the goats skipping among the rocks, and the spray floating above the fall. And this is the true sign of the greatest art to part voluntarily with its greatness; to make itself poor and unnoticed; but so to exalt and set forth its theme, that you may be fain to see the theme instead of it. So that you have never enough admired a great workman’s doing, till you have begun to despise it. The best homage that could be paid to the Athena of Phidias would be to desire rather to see the living goddess; and the loveliest Madonnas of Christian art fall short of their due power, if they do not make their beholders sick at heart to see the living Virgin.

128. We have then, for our requirement of the finest art, (sculpture, or anything else,) that it shall be so like the thing it represents as to please those who best know or can conceive the original; and, if possible, please them deceptively its final triumph being to deceive even the wise; and (the Greeks thought) to please even the Immortals, who were so wise as to be undeceivable. So that you get the Greek, thus far entirely true, idea of perfectness in sculpture, expressed to you by what Phalaris says, at first sight of the bull of Perilaus, “It only wanted motion and bellowing to seem alive; and as soon as I saw it, I cried out, it ought to be sent to the god,” to Apollo, for only he, the undeceivable, could thoroughly understand such sculpture, and perfectly delight in it.

129. And with this expression of the Greek ideal of sculpture, I wish you to join the early Italian, summed in a single line by Dante “non vide me’ di me, chi vide ’l vero.” Read the twelfth canto of the Purgatory, and learn that whole passage by heart; and if ever you chance to go to Pistoja, look at La Robbia’s colored porcelain bas-reliefs of the seven works of Mercy on the front of the hospital there; and note especially the faces of the two sick men one at the point of death, and the other in the first peace and long-drawn breathing of health after fever and you will know what Dante meant by the preceding line, “Morti li morti, e i vivi paren vivi.”

130. But now, may we not ask farther, is it impossible for art such as this, prepared for the wise, to please the simple also? Without entering on the awkward questions of degree, how many the wise can be, or how much men should know, in order to be rightly called wise, may we not conceive an art to be possible, which would deceive everybody, or everybody worth deceiving? I showed you at my First Lecture, a little ringlet of Japan ivory, as a type of elementary bas-relief touched with color; and in your rudimentary series you have a drawing, by Mr. Burgess, of one of the little fishes enlarged, with every touch of the chisel facsimiled on the more visible scale; and showing the little black bead inlaid for the eye, which in the original is hardly to be seen without a lens. You may, perhaps, be surprised when I tell you that (putting the question of subject aside for the moment, and speaking only of the mode of execution and aim at resemblance,) you have there a perfect example of the Greek ideal of method in sculpture. And you will admit that, to the simplest person whom we could introduce as a critic, that fish would be a satisfactory, nay, almost a deceptive, fish; while, to any one caring for subtleties of art, I need not point out that every touch of the chisel is applied with consummate knowledge, and that it would be impossible to convey more truth and life with the given quantity of workmanship.

131. Here is, indeed, a drawing by Turner, in which, with some fifty times the quantity of labor, and far more highly educated faculty of sight, the artist has expressed some qualities of luster and color which only very wise persons indeed could perceive in a John Dory; and this piece of paper contains, therefore, much more, and more subtle, art, than the Japan ivory; but are we sure that it is therefore greater art? or that the painter was better employed in producing this drawing, which only one person can possess, and only one in a hundred enjoy, than he would have been in producing two or three pieces on a larger scale, which should have been at once accessible to, and enjoyable by, a number of simpler persons? Suppose, for instance, that Turner, instead of faintly touching this outline, on white paper, with his camel’s-hair pencil, had struck the main forms of his fish into marble, thus, and instead of coloring the white paper so delicately that, perhaps, only a few of the most keenly observant artists in England can see it at all, had, with his strong hand, tinted the marble with a few colors, deceptive to the people, and harmonious to the initiated; suppose that he had even conceded so much to the spirit of popular applause as to allow of a bright glass bead being inlaid for the eye, in the Japanese manner; and that the enlarged, deceptive, and popularly pleasing work had been carved on the outside of a great building, say Fishmongers’ Hall, where everybody commercially connected with Billingsgate could have seen it, and ratified it with a wisdom of the market; might not the art have been greater, worthier, and kinder in such use?

132. Perhaps the idea does not at once approve itself to you of having your public buildings covered with ornaments; but, pray remember that the choice of subject is an ethical question, not now before us. All I ask you to decide is whether the method is right, and would be pleasant, in giving the distinctiveness to pretty things, which it has here given to what, I suppose it may be assumed, you feel to be an ugly thing. Of course, I must note parenthetically, such realistic work is impossible in a country where the buildings are to be discolored by coal-smoke; but so is all fine sculpture whatsoever; and the whiter, the worse its chance. For that which is prepared for private persons, to be kept under cover, will, of necessity, degenerate into the copyism of past work, or merely sensational and sensual forms of present life, unless there be a governing school addressing the populace, for their instruction, on the outside of buildings. So that, as I partly warned you in my Third Lecture, you can simply have no sculpture in a coal country. Whether you like coals or carvings best, is no business of mine. I merely have to assure you of the fact that they are incompatible.

But, assuming that we are again, some day, to become a civilized and governing race, deputing ironmongery, coal-digging, and lucre-digging, to our slaves in other countries, it is quite conceivable that, with an increasing knowledge of natural history, and desire for such knowledge, what is now done by careful, but inefficient, wood-cuts, and in ill-colored engravings, might be put in quite permanent sculptures, with inlay of variegated precious stones, on the outside of buildings, where such pictures would be little costly to the people; and in a more popular manner still, by Robbia ware and Palissy ware, and inlaid majolica, which would differ from the housewife’s present favorite decoration of plates above her kitchen dresser, by being every piece of it various, instructive, and universally visible.

133. You hardly know, I suppose, whether I am speaking in jest or earnest. In the most solemn earnest, I assure you; though such is the strange course of our popular life that all the irrational arts of destruction are at once felt to be earnest; while any plan for those of instruction on a grand scale, sounds like a dream, or jest. Still, I do not absolutely propose to decorate our public buildings with sculpture wholly of this character; though beast, and fowl, and creeping things, and fishes, might all find room on such a building as the Solomon’s House of a New Atlantis; and some of them might even become symbolic of much to us again. Passing through the Strand, only the other day, for instance, I saw four highly finished and delicately colored pictures of cock-fighting, which, for imitative quality, were nearly all that could be desired, going far beyond the Greek cock of Himera; and they would have delighted a Greek’s soul, if they had meant as much as a Greek cock-fight; but they were only types of the “,” and of the spirit of home contest, which has been so fatal lately to the Bird of France; and not of the defense of one’s own barnyard, in thought of which the Olympians set the cock on the pillars of their chariot course; and gave it goodly alliance in its battle, as you may see here, in what is left of the angle of moldering marble in the chair of the priest of Dionusos. The cast of it, from the center of the theater under the Acropolis, is in the British Museum; and I wanted its spiral for you, and this kneeling Angel of Victory; it is late Greek art, but nobly systematic flat bas-relief. So I set Mr. Burgess to draw it; but neither he nor I, for a little while, could make out what the Angel of Victory was kneeling for. His attitude is an ancient and grandly conventional one among the Egyptians; and I was tracing it back to a kneeling goddess of the greatest dynasty of the Pharaohs a goddess of Evening, or Death, laying down the sun out of her right hand; when, one bright day, the shadows came out clear on the Athenian throne, and I saw that my Angel of Victory was only backing a cock at a cock-fight.

134. Still, as I have said, there is no reason why sculpture, even for simplest persons, should confine itself to imagery of fish, or fowl, or four-footed things.

We go back to our first principle: we ought to carve nothing but what is honorable. And you are offended, at this moment, with my fish, (as I believe, when the first sculptures appeared on the windows of this museum, offense was taken at the unnecessary introduction of cats,) these dissatisfactions being properly felt by your “.” For indeed, in all cases, our right judgment must depend on our wish to give honor only to things and creatures that deserve it.

135. And now I must state to you another principle of veracity, both in sculpture, and all following arts, of wider scope than any hitherto examined. We have seen that sculpture is to be a true representation of true internal form. Much more is it to be a representation of true internal emotion. You must carve only what you yourself see as you see it; but, much more, you must carve only what you yourself feel, as you feel it. You may no more endeavor to feel through other men’s souls, than to see with other men’s eyes. Whereas generally now, in Europe and America, every man’s energy is bent upon acquiring some false emotion, not his own, but belonging to the past, or to other persons, because he has been taught that such and such a result of it will be fine. Every attempted sentiment in relation to art is hypocritical; our notions of sublimity, of grace, or pious serenity, are all secondhand: and we are practically incapable of designing so much as a bell-handle or a door-knocker, without borrowing the first notion of it from those who are gone where we shall not wake them with our knocking. I would we could.

136. In the midst of this desolation we have nothing to count on for real growth but what we can find of honest liking and longing, in ourselves and in others. We must discover, if we would healthily advance, what things are verily among us; and if we delight to honor the dishonorable, consider how, in future, we may better bestow our likings. Now it appears to me, from all our popular declarations, that we, at present, honor nothing so much as liberty and independence; and no person so much as the Free man and Self-made man, who will be ruled by no one, and has been taught, or helped, by no one. And the reason I chose a fish for you as the first subject of sculpture, was that in men who are free and self-made, you have the nearest approach, humanly possible, to the state of the fish, and finely organized. You get the exact phrase in Habakkuk, if you take the Septuagint text, “.” “Thou wilt make men as the fishes of the sea, and as the reptile things, that have no ruler over them.” And it chanced that as I was preparing this Lecture, one of our most able and popular prints gave me a wood-cut of the ‘self-made man,’ specified as such, so vigorously drawn, and with so few touches, that Phidias or Turner himself could scarcely have done it better; so that I had only to ask my assistant to enlarge it with accuracy, and it became comparable with my fish at once. Of course it is not given by the caricaturist as an admirable face; only, I am enabled by his skill to set before you, without any suspicion of unfairness on my part, the expression to which the life we profess to think most honorable, naturally leads. If we were to take the hat off, you see how nearly the profile corresponds with that of the typical fish.

137. Such, then, being the definition, by your best popular art, of the ideal of feature at which we are gradually arriving by self-manufacture: when I place opposite to it the profile of a man not in anywise self-made, neither by the law of his own will, nor by the love of his own interest nor capable, for a moment, of any kind of ‘Independence,’ or of the idea of independence; but wholly dependent upon, and subjected to, external influence of just law, wise teaching, and trusted love and truth, in his fellow-spirits; setting before you, I say, this profile of a God-made, instead of a self-made, man, I know that you will feel, on the instant, that you are brought into contact with the vital elements of human art; and that this, the sculpture of the good, is indeed the only permissible sculpture.

138. A God-made man, I say. The face, indeed, stands as a symbol of more than man in its sculptor’s mind. For as I gave you, to lead your first effort in the form of leaves, the scepter of Apollo, so this, which I give you as the first type of rightness in the form of flesh, is the countenance of the holder of that scepter, the Sun-God of Syracuse. But there is nothing in the face (nor did the Greek suppose there was) more perfect than might be seen in the daily beauty of the creatures the Sun-God shone upon, and whom his strength and honor animated. This is not an ideal, but a quite literally true, face of a Greek youth; nay, I will undertake to show you that it is not supremely beautiful, and even to surpass it altogether with the literal portrait of an Italian one. It is in verity no more than the form habitually taken by the features of a well-educated young Athenian or Sicilian citizen; and the one requirement for the sculptors of to-day is not, as it has been thought, to invent the same ideal, but merely to see the same reality.

Now, you know I told you in my Fourth Lecture that the beginning of art was in getting our country clean and our people beautiful, and you supposed that to be a statement irrelevant to my subject; just as, at this moment, you perhaps think I am quitting the great subject of this present Lecture the method of likeness-making, and letting myself branch into the discussion of what things we are to make likeness of. But you shall see hereafter that the method of imitating a beautiful thing must be different from the method of imitating an ugly one; and that, with the change in subject from what is dishonorable to what is honorable, there will be involved a parallel change in the management of tools, of lines, and of colors. So that before I can determine for you how you are to imitate, you must tell me what kind of face you wish to imitate. The best draughtsman in the world could not draw this Apollo in ten scratches, though he can draw the self-made man. Still less this nobler Apollo of Ionian Greece, in which the incisions are softened into a harmony like that of Correggio’s painting. So that you see the method itself, the choice between black incision or fine sculpture, and perhaps, presently, the choice between color or no color, will depend on what you have to represent. Color may be expedient for a glistening dolphin or a spotted fawn; perhaps inexpedient for white Poseidon, and gleaming Dian. So that, before defining the laws of sculpture, I am compelled to ask you, what you mean to carve; and that, little as you think it, is asking you how you mean to live, and what the laws of your State are to be, for they determine those of your statue. You can only have this kind of face to study from, in the sort of state that produced it. And you will find that sort of state described in the beginning of the fourth book of the laws of Plato; as founded, for one thing, on the conviction that of all the evils that can happen to a state, quantity of money is the greatest!, “for, to speak shortly, no greater evil, matching each against each, can possibly happen to a city, as adverse to its forming just or generous character,” than its being full of silver and gold.

139. Of course the Greek notion may be wrong, and ours right, only you can have Greek sculpture only on that Greek theory: shortly expressed by the words put into the mouth of Poverty herself, in the Plutus of Aristophanes, “,” “I deliver to you better men than the God of Money can, both in imagination and feature.” So, on the other hand, this ichthyoid, reptilian, or monochondyloid ideal of the self-made man can only be reached, universally, by a nation which holds that poverty, either of purse or spirit, but especially the spiritual character of being, is the lowest of degradations; and which believes that the desire of wealth is the first of manly and moral sentiments. As I have been able to get the popular ideal represented by its own living art, so I can give you this popular faith in its own living words; but in words meant seriously, and not at all as caricature, from one of our leading journals, professedly aesthetic also in its very name, the Spectator, of August 6, 1870.

“Mr. Ruskin’s plan,” it says, “would make England poor, in order that she might be cultivated, and refined, and artistic. A wilder proposal was never broached by a man of ability; and it might be regarded as a proof that the assiduous study of art emasculates the intellect, and even the moral sense. Such a theory almost warrants the contempt with which art is often regarded by essentially intellectual natures, like Proudhon” (sic). “Art is noble as the flower of life, and the creations of a Titian are a great heritage of the race; but if England could secure high art and Venetian glory of color only by the sacrifice of her manufacturing supremacy, and by the acceptance of national poverty, then the pursuit of such artistic achievements would imply that we had ceased to possess natures of manly strength, or to know the meaning of moral aims. If we must choose between a Titian and a Lancashire cotton mill, then, in the name of manhood and of morality, give us the cotton mill. Only the dilettanteism of the studio; that dilettanteism which loosens the moral no less than the intellectual fiber, and which is as fatal to rectitude of action as to correctness of reasoning power, would make a different choice.”

You see also, by this interesting and most memorable passage, how completely the question is admitted to be one of ethics the only real point at issue being, whether this face or that is developed on the truer moral principle.

140. I assume, however, for the present, that this Apolline type is the kind of form you wish to reach and to represent. And now observe, instantly, the whole question of manner of imitation is altered for us. The fins of the fish, the plumes of the swan, and the flowing of the Sun-God’s hair are all represented by incisions but the incisions do sufficiently represent the fin and feather, they insufficiently represent the hair. If I chose, with a little more care and labor, I could absolutely get the surface of the scales and spines of the fish, and the expression of its mouth; but no quantity of labor would obtain the real surface of a tress of Apollo’s hair, and the full expression of his mouth. So that we are compelled at once to call the imagination to help us, and say to it, You know what the Apollo Chrysocomes must be like; finish all this for yourself. Now, the law under which imagination works, is just that of other good workers. “You must give me clear orders; show me what I have to do, and where I am to begin, and let me alone.” And the orders can be given, quite clearly, up to a certain point, in form; but they cannot be given clearly in color, now that the subject is subtle. All beauty of this high kind depends on harmony; let but the slightest discord come into it, and the finer the thing is, the more fatal will be the flaw. Now, on a flat surface, I can command my color to be precisely what and where I mean it to be; on a round one I cannot. For all harmony depends, first, on the fixed proportion of the color of the light to that of the relative shadow; and therefore if I fasten my color, I must fasten my shade. But on a round surface the shadow changes at every hour of the day; and therefore all coloring which is expressive of form, is impossible; and if the form is fine, (and here there is nothing but what is fine,) you may bid farewell to color.

141. Farewell to color; that is to say, if the thing is to be seen distinctly, and you have only wise people to show it to; but if it is to be seen indistinctly, at a distance, color may become explanatory; and if you have simple people to show it to, color may be necessary to excite their imaginations, though not to excite yours. And the art is great always by meeting its conditions in the straightest way; and if it is to please a multitude of innocent and bluntly-minded persons, must express itself in the terms that will touch them; else it is not good. And I have to trace for you through the history of the past, and possibilities of the future, the expedients used by great sculptors to obtain clearness, impressiveness, or splendor; and the manner of their appeal to the people, under various light and shadow, and with reference to different degrees of public intelligence: such investigation resolving itself again and again, as we proceed, into questions absolutely ethical; as, for instance, whether color is to be bright or dull, that is to say, for a populace cheerful or heartless; whether it is to be delicate or strong, that is to say, for a populace attentive or careless; whether it is to be a background like the sky, for a procession of young men and maidens, because your populace revere life or the shadow of the vault behind a corpse stained with drops of blackened blood, for a populace taught to worship Death. Every critical determination of rightness depends on the obedience to some ethic law, by the most rational and, therefore, simplest means. And you see how it depends most, of all things, on whether you are working for chosen persons, or for the mob; for the joy of the boudoir, or of the Borgo. And if for the mob, whether the mob of Olympia, or of St. Antoine. Phidias, showing his Jupiter for the first time, hides behind the temple door to listen, resolved afterwards “,” and truly, as your people is, in judgment, and in multitude, so must your sculpture be, in glory. An elementary principle which has been too long out of mind.

142. I leave you to consider it, since, for some time, we shall not again be able to take up the inquiries to which it leads. But, ultimately, I do not doubt that you will rest satisfied in these following conclusions:

1. Not only sculpture, but all the other fine arts, must be for the people.

2. They must be didactic to the people, and that as their chief end. The structural arts, didactic in their manner; the graphic arts, in their matter also.

3. And chiefly the great representative and imaginative arts that is to say, the drama and sculpture are to teach what is noble in past history, and lovely in existing human and organic life.

4. And the test of right manner of execution in these arts, is that they strike, in the most emphatic manner, the rank of popular minds to which they are addressed.

5. And the test of utmost fineness in execution in these arts, is that they make themselves be forgotten in what they represent; and so fulfill the words of their greatest Master,