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

By Henry Ladd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE MORALITY OF PICTURE MAKING

IMAGINATIVE IDEALISM

THE effort to objectify beauty so as to talk about its constituents one by one led Ruskin, as has been shown, from God to the oyster and back again. It is not merely that when he objectified his appreciation of line, color and quality, these turned into abstract enormities, but that his appreciation also gathered up his sentiments and the particular group of emotions which he called moral. These, when interpolated into the organic and inorganic nature about him, transformed the universe into a vast reflection of this man's sensibility at once pathetic and ludicrous. The theoretical analysis of imagination, however, depended less than the study of beauty upon this objectification of sentiment. In seeking the moral modes of active composition, Ruskin remained within a more reasonable circle of inference -- the circle of the human self. But because of the limited psychology which he followed and because of the vagueness of the central moral emotions which he believed motivated the artist, Ruskin was unable to trace sharply the fundamental moral relation of the appreciation of artistic truth and beauty to their creation.

His views on the problem of representative truth in art pointed clearly to two important moral conditions: love, it was found, stimulates the acuteness of bodily sense; moral emotion sharpens the perception and judg-

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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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