The Experimental Psychology of Beauty

By C. W. Valentine | Go to book overview

Chapter VIII FURTHER EXPERIMENTS WITH PICTURES AND WITH PHOTOGRAPHS OF OBJETS D'ART

In the previous chapter I have dealt briefly with what seemed to me the most fundamental points in the enjoyment of pictures and illustrated freely individual differences especially from my own earliest elementary experiments. In more recent years much more attention has been paid to the statistical examination of reactions to pictures and other examples of visual art. In this chapter I wish to give an account of the most important of these. We have already stressed individual differences; we shall be led in this chapter to consider evidence for their being some general agreement in aesthetic judgements on pictures.


Burt's experiments with pictures

We will consider first the important research carried out by Cyril Burt among children and adults. A general account of this was given in his broadcast, and printed in the book, How the Mind Works.1 Burt first selected fifty picture-postcards. He writes:

They included reproductions from classical masters, second-rate pictures by second-rate painters, every variety and type down to the crudest and the most flashy birthday-card that I could find at a papershop in the slums. The test consisted in arranging the fifty cards in order of preference.

Burt tells me that he included the following pictures: Raphael "Sistine Madonna", Leonardo "Madonna of the Rocks", Botticelli

____________________
1
Allen and Unwin, 1st ed., 1933, 3rd imp., 1948. Sir Cyril Burt has very kindly at my request supplied me with more precise details of this inquiry, including the correlations which I have given in the text.

-146-

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