The Victorian Morality of Art: An Analysis of Ruskin's Esthetic, by Henry Ladd

By Henry Ladd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE CASE FOR TRUTH

TRUE REPRESENTATION

SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS once referred to drawing, modelling and using colors as a language through which the artist must learn to express himself. 1 Ruskin caught the suggestion of Reynold's figure but changed its emphasis. Between 1840 and 1846 he was not interested in self-expression; he was eager to find out what artistic truth was. He knew that the value of Turner's paintings for him lay in their power to convey true things that he had only half seen. Art is a language? Yes! But as the value of spoken language lies in what is said so art's value must lie in the ideas it communicates. Here Ruskin found his first principle.

Artistic truth, therefore, rests in "the faithful statement" of ideas. The source of the ideas in art is nature, but nature understood in a larger sense than that which Sir Joshua and his period had conceived; nature enlarged by increased travel, new science, poetry, social theory and introspection. One may thus discover in art thoughts as well as facts; moral emotions as well as simple ideas. Truth then really enters into a consideration of each type of "Ideas" which art carries; but these Ruskin had cast into a formal scheme. Briefly reinterpreting this scheme, thoughts correspond to "Ideas of Relation," moral emotions to "Beauty" and true and false expressions to "Ideas of Power" and "Ideas of Imitation" respectively. Facts--

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The Victorian Morality of Art: An Analysis of Ruskin's Esthetic, by Henry Ladd
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Table of Contents ix
  • Errata *
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - The Truth and Beauty of Art 5
  • Chapter I - Eighteenth Century Traditions 7
  • Bibliorraphical Note 25
  • Chapter II - Ruskin and Tradition 26
  • Chapter III - New Theories for a New Public 39
  • General Background 55
  • Chapter IV - The Case for Truth 57
  • Chapter V - The Complex Traditions of Beauty 83
  • Chapter VI - The Problem of Beauty 110
  • Part II - Morals and Imagination 145
  • Chapter I - Nature and God 147
  • Chapter II - The Roots of Beauty 167
  • Chapter III - Imagination 202
  • Chapter IV - The Morality of Picture Making 225
  • Chapter V - Style 245
  • Chapter VI - Esthetic Respectability Gentility 270
  • Part III - "High Seriousness" 293
  • Chapter I - The Moral Conflict 295
  • Chapter II - Ruskin's Contributions 316
  • Chapter III - Conclusion 328
  • Notes 343
  • Index 405
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