. . . awakens to a feeling of his own originality . . . stirs to exercise his art in freedom.
KANT, Kritik of Judgment
Walter Pater once wrote that "nothing which has ever interested living men and women can wholly lose its vitality . . . no dream which has once been entertained by actual human minds . . . ." Men's intimations of divinity have brought within the scope of speculation problems of the provenance, nature, and province of their own creative powers. The speculation has been stimulated and sustained, as we have observed, by "genius," "inspiration," the "corruption of beauty," "means-invisible," and similar words and phrases recurrent in the tradition of the artist as creator.
If we are to believe Benedetto Croce, who perhaps of all aestheticians most eloquently voices the conviction that artistic and aesthetic expression is free creation, the production of physical beauty implies a will which persists in "not allowing certain visions, intuitions or representations to be lost."1 Raphael's "The School of Athens" portrays Neoplatonic philosophy. Van Dyck's "Portrait of a Gentleman" offers us the likeness of an unknown man. The "Colleoni Monument" is a spectacular presentation of a condottiere. The temple at Segesta celebrates a victory never won. Each representation preserves a specific nonaesthetic meaning. If something other than this is not lost, the explanation of its persistence must be consonant with the theory that the artist is free and that "fine art" is more than a mere phrase. For the moment, however, it is sufficient in an essay of the artist as creator to assume that, in addition to the unique perception Monet affords us in the "Rouen Cathedral," the style embodied in della Robbia's "Visitation," and the____________________