Volume II, Chapter 9B7, page 495—564. Art.

Cover of the Foundations


Back to main page
The original text in German: Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts
DOWNLOAD the Foundations of the Nineteenth Century




A. The Teutons as Creators of a New Culture
ii 187
B. Historical Survey ii 233
1. DISCOVERY ii 261
2. SCIENCE ii 293
3. INDUSTRY ii 329
7. ART ii 495
INDEX ii 565


7. ART (From Giotto to Goethe).


    It is no easy matter in these days to speak about art; for, despite the example of all the best German authors, an absolutely senseless limitation of the notion “art“ has become naturalised among us, and, on the other hand, the systematising philosophy of history has cruelly paralysed our faculty of looking at historical facts with open, truth-seeking eyes, and of passing a sound judgment upon them. I sincerely regret the necessity of mixing up polemical controversy with this final section, where I would fain be soaring in the highest regions, but there is

496 ART

no way out of it; for in art the most senseless errors are as firmly rooted as in religion, and we cannot rightly estimate either the development of art of the year 1800 or its importance in the nineteenth century till we have cleared away all misconceptions and corrected the distorted misrepresentations of history. At any rate, if I must pull down, I shall try at once to build up again, and so shall employ the exposition of traditional errors as a means of revealing the true position.
    In these days a General History of Art embraces only plastic technique, from architecture to casting in pewter; in a work of this description Michael Angelo's Last Judgment, or a portrait of Rembrandt by himself, will be found side by side with the lid of a beer-mug or the back of an arm-chair. Two arts, however, are absolutely unrepresented, not a word is said about them, they are, it would seem, not “art“; I refer to those two which, as Kant said, occupy the “highest place“ among all arts, and about which Lessing made the extremely happy remark: “Nature meant them not so much to be united as to be one and the same art.“ * These arts are Poetry and Music. The view which our art-historians hold of “art“ might well provoke our indignation; it annihilates the life-work of Lessing, Herder, Schiller, Goethe, who took such pains to prove the organic unity of the whole creative work of man, and the primacy of the poet among his fellows. From the Laocoon to the Aesthetic Education and to Goethe's thoughts on the part played by art “as nature's worthiest interpreter,“ † through all the thought of the German Classics we can trace this red thread — the great endeavour clearly and definitely to determine the essence of art, as a peculiar, human capacity; when once this is settled, the dignity of art, as one of the highest and holiest instruments for the trans-

    * Zum Loakoon ix.
    † Goethe: Maximen und Reflexionen, Div. 3.

497 ART

figuration of all human life and thought, is also established. And now come our experts who go back to Lucian's view; * art is for them a technique, a trade, and since the work of the hands in poetry and music signifies nothing, these are not included in art. “Art“ is exclusively plastic art, but, to make up for this, it includes every possible plastic activity, every manuum factura, every handicraft! The term is, therefore, not only inconsistently limited by them, but also senselessly widened to be a synonym for technique. That means the loss of one essential thing in art — the idea of the creative element. † Let us look with a critical eye first at the preposterous extension, and then at the senseless limitation.
    The shortest and at the same time the most exhaustive definition of art is that of Kant: “Beautiful art is the art of genius.“ ‡ A history of art would, therefore, be a history of creative genius, and everything else, such as the development of technique, the influence exercised by the workers in the industrial arts, the changes of fashion, &c., would come in merely as an explanatory supplement. To make technique the chief thing is ridiculous. It is no excuse to urge that the greatest masters were at the same time the greatest inventors and exponents of the technical art; that all depends upon the reason why they were inventors in technique, and the answer is: because originality is the first quality of the creative mind, in virtue of which the original genius must invent new means of expressing what he has to say, new instruments for his own peculiar and personal creations.
    Heaven forbid that I should enter the stony, thorny and sterile sphere of aesthetics! I have nothing to do with aesthetics, but only with art itself. § I cling firmly to what

    * See vol. i. p. 302. Cf. Schiller's Letter to Meyer of 5. 2. 1795.
    † Cf. the remarks on Technique in contrast to Art and Science, vol i. p. 138.
    ‡ Kritik der Urteilskraft, § 46.
    § “By every theory of art we close the path to true enjoyment: for no more baneful nullity has ever been invented.“ — GOETHE.

498 ART

the Hellenes thoroughly realised and the German classics always emphasised: that poetry is the root of every art. Now if I take the view of art just given, and add to it that of the “historians of art,“ I get so wide and indefinite a term that it embraces my beer-jug and Homer's Iliad, and every journeyman with his graver is put on the same level as Leonardo da Vinci. And so Kant's “art of genius“ vanishes into thin air. But the importance of creative art, as I, following Schiller, have sketched it in the introduction to the first chapter of this book, and in the course of the same chapter have exemplified it in the Hellenes (vol. i. p. 14), is too significant a fact in our history of culture to be sacrificed in this way. In the triad philosophy, religion, art — which three make up culture — we could least of all dispense with art. For Teutonic philosophy is transcendent, and Teutonic religion ideal; both, therefore, remain unexpressed, incommunicable, invisible to most eyes, unconvincing to most hearts, unless art with her freely creative moulding power — i.e., the art of genius — should intervene as mediator. For this reason the Christian Church — as formerly the Hellenic faith in Gods — has always sought the help of art, and for that reason Immanuel Kant expresses the opinion that it is only with the help of a “divine art“ that man is able to overcome mechanical constraint by conscious inner freedom. Since we realise that mechanical constraint exists, our philosophy of life (purely as philosophy) must be negative; our art, on the contrary, arises from our inward experience of freedom, and is, therefore, wholly and essentially positive.
    This great and clear idea of art we must preserve as a sacred, living possession; and if any one speaks of “art“ — not of artistic handiwork, artistic technique, artistic cabinet-making, &c. — he must use that sacred term solely of the art of genius.
    Genuine art alone forms the sphere in which those two worlds, which we have just learned to distinguish (p. 483)

499 ART

— the mechanical and the unmechanical — meet in such a way that a new, third world arises. Art is this third world. Here freedom, which otherwise remains only an idea, an eternally invisible inner experience, reveals direct activity in the world of phenomena. The law here prevailing is not the mechanical law; rather is it in every respect analogous to that “Autonomy“ which stirred Kant to such admiration in the moral sphere (p. 489). And what religious instinct only vaguely divines and figures forth in all kinds of mythological dreams (vol. i. p. 416), enters by art, so to speak, “into the daylight of life“; for when art, of free inner necessity (genius), transforms the given, unfree, mechanical necessity (the world of phenomena), it reveals a connection between the two worlds which purely scientific observation would never have brought to light. The artist enters into an alliance with the investigator of nature; for while he freely shapes, he also “interprets“ nature, that is, he looks deeper into the heart of things than the measuring and weighing observer. With the philosopher too he joins hands; the logical skeleton receives from him a blooming body and learns the reason of its being in the world; as proof I need only refer to Goethe and Schiller, who both attain the loftiest heights of their powers and their significance for the Teutonic race after they have been associated with Kant, but thereby show the world in quite a different manner from Schelling and his fellows what incalculable importance is to be attached to the thought of the great Königsberg Professor. *

    * Since Goethe has undoubtedly here and there been influenced by Schelling and this has often led to absolutely false judgments, the fact must be emphasised that he placed Kant far above any of his successors. At the time when Fichte and Schelling were at the zenith of their influence, and Hegel was beginning to write, Goethe expressed the opinion: “Speculation on the Superhuman, in spite of all Kant's warnings, is a vain toil.“ When Schelling's life-work was already known to the world (in 1817), Goethe said to Victor Cousin that he had begun to read Kant again and was delighted with the unexampled

500 ART


    The relation between art and religion has still to be mentioned. This relation is so manifold and intimate that it is a hard matter to analyse it critically. In the present connection the following should be noted. As I have shown in many passages in this book, among all the Indo-Teutonic peoples religion is always “creative“ in the artistic sense of the word, and therefore related to art. Our religion never was history, never exposition of chronicles, but always inner experience and the interpretation, by free, reproductive activity, of this experience as well as of surrounding nature, which means the nature of experience; our whole art, on the other hand, owes its origin to religious myths. But as we are no longer able to follow the simple impulse of creative myth-production, our myths must be the outcome of the highest and deepest reflection. The material is at hand. The true source of all religion to-day is not an indefinite feeling, not interpretation of nature, but the actual experience of definite human beings; * with Buddha and with Christ religion has become realistic — a fact which is consistently overlooked by the philosophers of religion, and of which mankind as a whole has not yet become conscious. But what these men experienced and what we experience through them is not something mechanically “real,“ but something much more real than that, an experience of our inmost being. And it is only now, in the light of our new

clearness of his thought; he added also: “Le système de Kant n'est pas détruit.“ Six years later Goethe complained to Chancellor von Müller that Schelling's “ambiguous expressions“ had put back rational theology fifty years. The personality of Schelling, certain qualities of his style, and certain tendencies of his thought, often fascinated Goethe; but so great a mind could never commit the error of regarding Kant and Schelling as commensurable magnitudes. (For the above quotations see the Gespräche, ed. by Biedermann, i. 209, iii 290, iv. 227).
    * See the whole of chap. iii., especially p. 182 f.

501 ART

philosophy, that this inner meaning has become quite clear; it is only now — when the faultless mechanism of all phenomena is irrefutably proved — that we are able to purge religion of the last trace of materialism. But hereby art becomes more and more indispensable. For we cannot express in words what a figure like Jesus Christ signifies, what it reveals; it is something in the inmost recesses of our souls, something apart from time and space — something which cannot be exhaustively or even adequately expressed by any logical chain of thought; with Christ it is a question solely of that “nature which is subordinate to a will“ (as Kant said, p. 484), not of that which makes the will subordinate to itself; that is, it is a question of that nature in which the artist is at home, and from which he alone is able to build a bridge over into the world of phenomena. The art of genius forces the Visible to serve the Invisible. * Now in Jesus Christ it is the corporeal revelation, to which His whole earthly life belongs, that is the Visible, and, in so far, to a certain extent, only an allegorical representation of the invisible being; but this allegory is indispensable, for it was the revealed personality — not a dogma, not a system, certainly not the thought that here the Word invested with a distinct personality went about in flesh and blood — that made the unparalleled impression and completely transformed the inner being of men; with death the personality — that is, the only effectual thing — disappeared. What remains is fragment and outline. In order that the example may retain its miraculous power, that the Christian religion may not lose its character as actual, real experience, the figure of Jesus Christ must ever be born anew; otherwise there remains only a vain tissue of dogmas, and the personality — whose extra-

    * This is not aesthetic theory, but the experience of creative artists. Thus Eugène Fromentin says in his exquisite and thoroughly scientific book Les Maîtres d'autrefois (éd. 7, p. 2): „L'art de peindre est l'art d'exprimer l'invisible par le visible.“

502 ART

ordinary influence was the sole source of this religion — becomes crystallised to an abstraction. As soon as the eye ceases to see, and the ear to hear, the personality of Christ fades further and further away, and in place of living and — as I said before — realistic religion, there remains either stupid idolatry, or an Aristotelian structure of reason made up of pure abstractions. We saw this in the case of Dante, in whose creed the one sure foundation of religion possible to us Teutons — experience — is altogether absent and the name of Christ consequently not once mentioned (cf. pp. 106, 425). Only one human power is capable of rescuing religion from the double danger of idolatry and philosophic Deism; * that power is art. For it is art alone that can give new birth to the original form, i.e., the original experience. In Leonardo da Vinci, who is perhaps the greatest creative genius that ever lived, we have a striking example of the way in which art steers safely between these two cliffs; his hatred of all dogma, his contempt of all idolatry, his power to give shape to the true subject-matter of Christianity, namely, the figure of Christ Himself, have been emphasised by me in the first chapter (vol. i. p. 82); they signify the dawn of a new day. And we might prove the same of every artistic genius from him to Beethoven.
    This point I may require to explain more fully, to make the relation between art and religion perfectly clear.
    I said on p. 291 that a mechanical interpretation of the world is consistent only with an ideal religion; I think I have proved this irrefutably in the previous

    * These two tendencies become more concrete to us when we think of them as Jesuitism and Pietism (the correlative of Deism). For each of these finds in an apparent contrast a complementary form, into which it is liable to merge. The correlative of Jesuitism is Materialism; as Paul de Lagarde has rightly remarked: “The water in these communicating pipes is always at the same height“ (Deutsche Schriften, ed. 1891, p. 49); all Jesuitical natural science is just as strictly dogmatic and materialistic as that of any Holbach or De Lamettrie; the correlative of abstract Deism is Pietism with its faith in the letter.

503 ART

section. Now what is the distinguishing-mark of an ideal religion? Its absolute existence in the present. We recognised this clearly in the case of the Mystics; they put time aside like a cast-off garment; they wish to dwell neither upon creation — in which the materialistic religions find the guarantee of God's power — nor upon future reward and punishment; rather is the present time to them “like eternity“ (p. 421). The scientific philosophy which has been built up by the intellectual work of the last centuries has given clear and comprehensible expression to this feeling. Teutonic philosophy has from the first “turned on two hinges“: (1) The ideality of space and time; (2) the reality of the idea of freedom. * That is at the same time — if I may so express myself — the formula of art. For in the creations of art the freedom of the will proves itself real, and time — as compared with the inner, unmechanical world — a mere, inconstant idea. Art is the everlasting Present. And it is that in two respects. In the first place it holds time in its spell: what Homer creates is as young to-day as it was three thousand years ago; he who stands before the tomb of Lorenzo de' Medici feels himself in the presence of Michael Angelo; the art of genius does not grow old. Moreover, art is the Present in the sense that only that which is absolutely without duration is present. Time is divisible, infinitely so, a flash of lightning is only relatively shorter than a life of a hundred years, the latter only relatively longer than the former; whereas the Present in the sense of something which has no duration is shorter than the shortest thinkable time and longer than all conceivable eternity; this applies to art; the works of art have an absolutely

    * Cf. Kant: Fortschritte der Metaphysik, Supplement. As we see, the Real which is derived from the testimony of sense is interpreted as an idea, whereas the Idea which is given by inner experience is interpreted as real. It is exactly like the Copernican theory of motion: what was supposed to be moving, rests, and what was supposed to rest, moves.

504 ART

momentary effect, and at the same time awaken the feeling of everlastingness. Goethe somewhere distinguishes true art from dream and shadow by saying that art is “a living, momentary revelation of the inscrutable.“ Even this much-abused word “revelation“ receives in the light of Teutonic philosophy a perfectly clear sense devoid of all extravagance; it means the opening of the gate which separates us (as mechanical phenomena) from the timeless world of freedom. Art keeps watch over the gate. A work of art — let us say Michael Angelo's Night — shows the gate wide open; we step from the surroundings of the temporal into the presence of the Timeless. As this artist himself says triumphantly, “Dall' arte è vinta la nartua!“ (Nature is conquered by art); that is to say, the Visible is forced to give shape to the Invisible — the Inevitable is forced to serve freedom; the stone now presents a living revelation of the Inscrutable.
    What powerful support a religion resting on direct experience derives from such a power must be plain to all. Art is capable of always bringing to new life the former experience; it can reveal in the personality the super-personal element, in the ephemeral phenomenon the unephemeral; a Leonardo gives us the figure and a Bach the voice of Jesus Christ, now for ever present. Moreover, art elsewhere reveals that religion which had found in the One its inimitable, convincing existence, and we are deeply moved when, in a portrait of Dürer or Rembrandt by their own hand, we look into eyes which introduce us to that same world in which Jesus Christ “lived and moved and had his being,“ the threshold of which can be crossed neither by words nor thoughts. Something of this is in all sublime art, for it is this that makes it sublime. Not only the countenance of man, but everything that the eye of man sees, that the thought of man grasps and has moulded anew according to the law of inner, unmechanical freedom, opens that gate of “momentary revelation“;

505 ART

for every work of art brings us face to face with the creative artist, that is, with the rule of that at once transcendent and real world from which Christ speaks when he says that the Kingdom of God lies in this life like a treasure buried in the soil. Look at one of the numerous representations of Christ by Rembrandt, e.g., The Hundred Gulden etching, and hold beside it his Landscape with Three Trees; my meaning will become clear. And the reader will agree with me when I say, Art is not indeed Religion — for ideal Religion is an actual process in the inmost heart of every individual, the process of conversion and regeneration, of which Christ spoke — but Art transports us into the atmosphere of religion, explains all nature to us, and by its sublime revelations stirs our inmost being so deeply and directly that many men only get to know what religion is by Art. That the converse is also true is manifest without further words, and we can understand how Goethe — who cannot be reproached with piety in the ecclesiastical sense — could assert that only religious men possessed creative power. *
    So much to define what we are to understand by, and reverence in, the term “art“ and to prevent a weakening of the idea by uncritical extension. The theoretical definition of art I have thought fit to supplement by reference to the importance of the art of genius in the work of culture generally, by which the significance of art is concretely presented to the mind. We see how far polemics may lead us in a short time! I therefore turn now to the second point: the senseless limitation which our art-historians affect in the use of the term “art.“

    * Cf. The Conversation with Riemer on March 26, 1814.

506 ART


    No history of art of the present day makes any mention of poetry or music; the former now belongs to literature — the art of writing letters — the latter stands in a category by itself, neither fish nor flesh, its technique being too abstruse and difficult to awaken interest or be understood outside the narrow circle of professional musicians, and its influence too physical and general not to be regarded somewhat contemptuously by the learned as the art of the misera plebs and the superficial dilettanti. And yet we have but to open our eyes and look around us to see that poetry not only occupies in itself, as the philosophers assert, the “highest place“ among all arts, but is the direct source of almost all creative activity and the creative focus even of those works of art which do not directly depend upon it. Moreover, every historical and every critical investigation will convince us, as they did Lessing, that poetry and music are not two arts, but rather “one and the same art.“ It is the poet wedded to music that ever awakens us to art; it is he who opens our eyes and ears; in him, more than in any other creator, reigns that commanding freedom which subordinates nature to its will, and, as the freest of all artists he is unquestionably the foremost. All plastic art might be destroyed and yet poetry — the poet wedded to music — would remain untouched; the empire of music would not be an inch narrower, only here and there devoid of form. It is indeed an inexact expression when we say that poetry is the “first“ among the arts: rather is it the only art. Poetry is the all-embracing art which gives all other arts life, so that where the latter emancipate themselves, they needs must carry on an ars poetica on their own account — with as much success as may be. Only think: is the plastic art of the Hellenes conceivable without their poetical

507 ART

art? Did not Homer guide the chisel of Phidias? Had not the Hellenic poet to create the forms before the Hellenic artist could re-create them? Are we to believe that the Greek architect would have erected inimitably perfect temples had not the poet conjured up before his mind such glorious divine forms that he felt compelled to devote to the work of invention every fibre of his being, so as not to fall too far short of that which hovered before his own imagination and that of his contemporaries as divine and worthy of the Gods? It is the same with ourselves. Our plastic art depends partly on Hellenic, partly and to a large extent upon Christian religious poetry. Before the sculptor can grasp them, the forms must exist in the imagination; the God must be believed in, before temples are built to him. Here we see religion — as Goethe bade us to see — the source of all productiveness. But historical religion must have attained poetical shape before we can represent and understand it in plastic form: the Gospel, the legend, the poem is the forerunner and forms the indispensable commentary to every Last Supper, every Crucifixion, every Inferno. The Teutonic artist, however, in accordance with his true, analytic nature, as soon as he had mastered the technique of his craft, went much deeper; he shared with the Indian the leaning towards nature; hence the two-fold inclination which strikes us so much in Albrecht Dürer: outwards, to painfully exact observation and lovingly conscientious reproduction of every blade of grass, every beetle — inwards, into the inscrutable inner nature, by means of the human image and profound allegories. Here the most genuine religion is at work and for that reason — as I have already proved — the most genuine art. Here we see exactly reflected the mental tendency towards Nature of the Mystics, the tendency towards the dignity of man of the Humanists, the tendency towards the inadequacy of the world of phenomena of the naturalist-philosopher.

508 ART

Every one of them in fact contributes his stone to the building of the new world, and since the uniform spirit of a definite human race predominates, all the different parts fit exactly into each other. I am therefore far from denying that our plastic art has emancipated itself much more from poetry (i.e., word-poetry) than it did among the Hellenes; I believe indeed that we can trace a gradual development in this direction from the thirteenth century to the present day. Yet we must admit that this art cannot be understood unless we take into account the general development of culture, and if we do this we shall at once see that all-powerful, free poetry everywhere preceded, took the lead and smoothed the way for her manifoldly restricted sisters. A Francis of Assisi had to press nature to his burning heart and a Gottfried von Strassburg inspiredly to describe it, before men's eyes were opened and the brush could attempt to delineate it; a great poetical work had been completed in every district of Europe — from Florence to London — before the painter recognised the dignity of the human countenance, and personality began to take the place of pattern in his works. Before a Rembrandt could reveal his greatness, a Shakespeare had to live. In the case of allegory the relation of the plastic arts to poetry is so striking that no one can be blind to it. Here the artist himself wishes to invent poetically. In the Introduction (p. lx) I quoted words of Michael Angelo, in which he puts the stone and unwritten page on the same footing, and says that into neither of them does anything come but what he wills. He therefore creates poetically as with the pen, so with the chisel and the brush.
The kindled marble's bust may wear
More poesy upon its speaking brow
Than aught less than the Homeric page may bear!
BYRON (“Prophecy of Dante“).
Michael Angelo's Creation of Light is his own

509 ART

invention, but we should not understand it did it not rest upon a well-known myth. And his figures Day and Night, with Lorenzo de' Medici above them, what are they if not poetical creations? Surely they are not merely two naked figures and a draped one. What then has been added? Something which, by the power which it has of stirring the feelings, is just as closely related to music as it is to poetry by its awakening of thoughts. It is an heroic attempt to create poetically, by means of the mere world of phenomena, without the help of an existing poetical fable, and that necessarily means by way of allegory. The great work of Michael Angelo can, in fact, only be understood and judged as poetic creation, and the same holds of Rembrandt and Beethoven; all aesthetic wrangling on this point, and on the limits of expression in the various arts, is settled when we grasp the simple fact that clear ideas can only be communicated by language; from this it follows that every plastic creation must lack definiteness of idea and in so far exercise a “musical“ effect, if it is to have any at all; but on the other hand, this plastic creation must, inasmuch as it is devoid of music, be interpreted by ideas and in so far is to be regarded “poetically.“ “Night“ is, of course, but one word, but in spite of that, thanks to the magic power of language, it unrolls a whole poetical programme. And thus we see that plastic art, event where it follows, as much as possible, its own independent course, yet stretches out both hands to the poet, “who is wedded to music“: if it has not borrowed the matter from him, it must receive from him the soul that will give life to its work.
    I do not think I need say anything more to prove that a history of art which leaves out poetry is just as senseless as the famous representation of Hamlet without the Prince. And yet I shall immediately show that the most daring historico-philosophical assertions of

510 ART

well-known scholars rest on this view. When in one scene Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do not appear on the stage, it seems empty to our historians of art. But, as I was speaking of the poet whose words are wedded to music, and as the twin-sister of the poet, Polyhymnia, is included in the anathema and not regarded as presentable, I must still say a word about her art, before going on to discuss the historical delusions.
    It is now a universally acknowledged fact that in all the branches of the Indo-European group in ancient times poetry was at the same time music: evidence regarding the Indians, Hellenes and Teutonic peoples is to be found in all the more recent histories. Among the books which contributed most in the nineteenth century to the formation of a sound judgment on this point, those of Fortlage, Westphal, Helmholtz and Ambros on the music of the Greeks deserve special mention: they clearly show that music was valued as highly by the Greeks as poetry and plastic art, and that at the time of the greatest splendour of Greek culture music and poetry were so closely allied and intertwined “that the history of Hellenic music cannot be separated from the history of Hellenic poetry and vice versa.“ * What we to-day admire as Hellenic poetry is only a torso; for it was the music which organically belonged to them that first “raised the Pindaric ode, the Sophoclean scene, into the full brilliancy of the Hellenic day.“ If modern ideas should hold good, which have established the threefold division, Literature, Music, Art, and have banished all that is sung from literature and still more from art, then all Greek poetry must belong to the history of music — not to literature or to art! That gives something to think about. In the meantime, music has passed through a great development (to which I shall return in another connection), whereby it has not

    * Ambros: Geschichte der Musik, 2nd ed. i. 219.

511 ART

lost in dignity or independence, but on the contrary has become more and more powerful in expression, and therefore more capable of artistic form. Here we have not merely development, as our historians of music would fain represent it, but the passing over of this art from Hellenic into Teutonic hands. The Teuton — in all the branches of this group of peoples — is the most musical being on earth; music is his special art, that in which he is among all mankind the incomparable master. We have seen how in ancient times the Teutons did not lay aside the harp even when on horseback, and how their most capable kings were personally the leaders of instruction in singing (vol. i. p. 327); the ancient Goths could invent no other term for reading (lesen) than singing (singen), “as they knew no kind of communication in elevated speech but what was sung.“ * And so the Teuton, as soon as in the thirteenth century he had awakened to independence and to some extent shaken off the deadening spell of Rome, at once devoted himself to that harmony and polyphony which is natural to him alone: the development starts in the thoroughly Teutonic Netherlands (the home of Beethoven) and for at least three centuries its one firm support and cradle, so to speak, is there and in the north generally. † It was only at a later time that the Italians, who were really pupils of the Germans, attained to importance in music; even Palestrina follows closely in the footsteps of the men of the north. ‡ And that which was so

    * Lamprecht: Deutsche Geschichte, 2nd ed. i. 174.
    † The usual exclusive emphasising of the Netherlands is, as Ambros shows, an historical error; Frenchmen, Germans, English, have to a great extent assisted; see loc. cit. iii. 336, as well as the following section and the whole of Bk. II. It is interesting to learn that Milton's father was a composer. For further facts see Riemann's Geschichte der Musiktheorie and Illustration zur Musikgeschichte.
    ‡ It is very noteworthy that Palestrina's teacher, the Frenchman Goudimel, was a Calvinist, who was killed on the night of Saint Bartholomew; for as Palestrina in style and manner of writing followed his teacher most closely (see Ambros, II, p. 11 of V.) We see that the

512 ART

enthusiastically begun went on without a break. In Josquin de Près, a contemporary of Raphael, Teutonic music had already produced a genius. From Josquin to Beethoven, on the threshold of the nineteenth century, the development of this divine art, which, as Shakespeare says, alone can transform the inmost nature of man — has progressed smoothly and uninterruptedly. Music, zealously cultivated and furthered by thousands and tens of thousands, put at the disposal of every succeeding genius ever more and more perfect instruments, a ripe technique, a finer receptive capacity. * And this specifically Teutonic art has been for centuries also recognised as a specifically Christian art and frequently called simply the “divine art,“ la divina musica, and rightly too, since it is the peculiarity of this art not to build with forms presented by the senses, but, absolutely neglecting these, to influence the feelings directly. That is why it stirs the heart of man so powerfully. The profound affinity between mechanism and ideality, to which I have often referred (see especially pp. 291 and 486 f.), here presents itself, as it were, in the embodiment of an image: the mathematical art which is above all others and in so far also the most “mechanical“ one is at the same time the most “ideal,“ the most free of all that is corporeal.

purification of Roman church-music “from lascivious and obscene songs“ (as the Council of Trent in its twenty-second sitting expressed it) and its elevation and refinement were fundamentally the work of Protestantism and the Teutonic north.
    * I intentionally refrain from saying “ear“ or “hearing,“ for, to judge from many facts known to every musician, we may conclude that there has within the last three centuries been a retrogression instead of an advance in power of ear. Our forefathers, for example, had a preference for compositions for four, eight or even more voices, and the dilettante, who sang to the lute, did not take the treble (as that was considered vulgar!) but a middle part. But it has long been established that acuteness of ear stands in no necessary, direct relation to susceptibility to musical expression; to a great extent this acuteness is a matter of practice, and we find peoples (e.g., the Turks) who can without exception accurately distinguish quarter-notes and who yet are absolutely lacking in musical imagination and creative power.

513 ART

This explains the directness of the effect of music, i.e., its absolute presentness, which implies a further affinity to genuine religion; and, in fact, if we wished by means of an example to make clear what we meant by calling religion an experience, musical experiences, that is, the direct, all powerful and indelible impression which sublime music makes upon the mind, would certainly be the most appropriate and perhaps the only permissible illustration. There are chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach — and not only chorales, but I name these to keep to what is best known — which in the simple, literal sense of the word are the most Christ-like sounds ever heard since the divine voice died into silence upon the Cross.
    I shall say nothing more in this connection; it is enough to have alluded to the great importance of music for our culture, and to have called to mind the incomparable achievements which the “art of genius“ has accomplished during the last five centuries in this sphere. Every one will be ready to admit that generalisations on the connection between art and culture are of no value, if poetry and music, which — as Lessing taught us — in reality form one single, comprehensive art, are shut out from consideration.


    We are by this time armed to do battle with those dogmas of the history of art which are so universally accepted at the present day. An indispensable undertaking, for this philosophy of history renders an understanding of the growth of Teutonic culture absolutely impossible, and at the same time laughably distorts all judgment of the art of the nineteenth century.
    A concrete example must be given, and as we everywhere find the same luxuriant aftermath of Hegelian delusion, it does not much matter where we seek one.

514 ART

I take up an excellent book which is very widely read, the Einführung in das Studium der neueren Kunstgeschichte by Professor Alwin Schultz, the famous Prague professor; I quote from p. 5 of the edition of 1878: “Have art and science ever at the same moment (sic!) produced their finest fruits? Did not Aristotle appear, when the heroic age of Greek art was already past? And what scholar (sic!) lived at the time of Leonardo, Michael Angelo, Raphael, whose works could even approximately be placed side by side with those of these masters? No! art and science have never at the same time been successfully cultivated by the nations; art rather precedes science; science does not really gain strength till the brilliant epoch of art is a thing of the past, and the more science grows and gains in importance, the more is art pressed into the background. No nation has ever simultaneously achieved great things in both spheres. We can therefore take consolation from the fact that in our century, the scientific work of which has been so brilliant and so momentous for our cultures, art has succeeded in achieving something which is only less important.“ There are a couple more pages in the same strain. The reader must peruse the quotation several times carefully, and every time he does so he will be more and more amazed at this mass of absurd judgments, and especially at the fact that a conscientious scholar can simply ignore self-evident facts known to every educated person, in favour of a traditional, artificial, absolutely false construction of history. Little wonder that we laymen no longer understand the history of the past, and consequently our own time! But we will understand them. Let us therefore look more closely and with critical eyes at the official philosophy of history which I have just quoted.
    In the first place I ask: Even supposing that what Professor Schultz says were true of the Hellenes, what

515 ART

would that prove for us Teutons? Behind his error there lurks once more the cursed abstract conception of “humanity.“ For he speaks not only of Greeks; universal laws are laid down with his “ever“ and “never,“ as if we could all — Egyptians, Chinese, Congo negroes, Teutons — be cast into one pot; whereas in every sphere of life we see that even our nearest relations — Greeks, Romans, Indians, Iranians — pass through a perfectly individual and peculiar course of development. Moreover, the example he takes to prove his point rings a false note. Of course, if our historians of art had set themselves to prove the thesis, which I have attempted to sketch in the first chapter of this book, viz., that creative art — the art of Homer — has formed the basis of all Hellenic culture, that by it we first “entered into the daylight of life,“ and that this is the special distinguishing-mark of the one unique, Hellenic history, their position would have been unassailable, and we should have been indebted to them; but there is no question of that. Poetry and music form no part of art in Schultz's estimation any more than they do in that of his colleagues; not a word is said about them; “the whole wide sphere of manual production“ (p. 14) is looked upon as belonging to the subject — that is, the plastic arts alone. And in that case the assertion made is not only risky but demonstrably false. For, in the first place, the limitation of the heroic age of plastic art to Phidias is little more than a convenient phrase. What do we possess from his hand to serve as good grounds for such a judgment? Is not investigation from year to year recognising ever more and more the many-sided importance of Praxiteles, * and has not Apelles the reputation of having been an incomparable painter? Both are contemporaries of Aristotle. And are we really justified, for the sake of

    * Read the reports on the recent discoveries in Mantineia with Praxiteles' reliefs of the Muses.

516 ART

a favourite system, to despise the splendid sculptures from Pergamon as “second-rate goods“? But Pergamon was not founded till fifty years after Aristotle's death. I have always been compelled in this book to mention only a few pre-eminent, well-known names; I have also laid the greatest emphasis on art as “the art of genius“; but it seems to me ridiculous when such simplification is admitted into standard books; genius is not like an order of merit hung on the breast of a single, definite individual, it slumbers, and not only does it slumber but it is at work in hundreds and thousands of men, before the individual can rise to pre-eminence. As I have said on p. 34 (vol. i.), it is only in a surrounding of personalities that personalities can as such make themselves seen and heard; art of genius implies a basis of widespread artistic genius; in works of creative imagination, as Richard Wagner has remarked, there shows itself “a common power distributed among infinitely various and manifold individualities.“ * Such widespread genius as the Greeks manifested even down to later times, a genius which long after Aristotle produced the Giant's frieze and the Laocoon group, does not need to fear comparison with science — above all with the absolutely unheroic science of that late period! I shall, however, not insist more on this, but, to begin with, make the standpoint of the art-historians my own, and regard the age of Pericles as the zenith of art. But in that case how could I close my eyes to the fact that the “heroic age“ of science corresponds exactly to that of art? For how is it possible to regard Aristotle as the chief Greek scientist? This great man has summarised, sifted, arranged, schematised the science of his time, like everything else; but his own personal science is anything but heroic, indeed it is rather the opposite, that is to

    * Eine Mitteilung an meine Freunde, Collected Works, 1st ed. iv. 309.

517 ART

say, decidedly official, not to say parsonic. On the other hand, more than a century before the birth of Phidias all Hellenic thinkers proved themselves scientifically trained mathematicians and astronomers, and science became really “heroic“ when Pythagoras, born at latest eighty years before Phidias, appeared. I refer to what I merely sketched on p. 52 (vol. i). To-day it is a recognised fact how brilliant the Pythagorean astronomy was; with what zeal and success the Greeks down to the Alexandrian age, without a break, cultivated mathematics and astronomy, and how Aristotle stands apart from this movement, which is the only one dealing with genuine natural science: how can any one overlook these facts in favour of a dogmatic theory? From Thales, who a hundred years before Phidias fixes in advance the date of the eclipse of the sun, to Aristarchus, the forerunner of Copernicus, who was born a hundred years after Aristotle — that is, as long as the Greek intellectual life was at all in a flourishing condition, from the beginning to the end — we see the active influence of the peculiar Hellenic capacity for the science of space. Apart from this the Greeks have on the whole accomplished little of lasting importance in science, for they were too hasty, too bad observers; but two names are so pre-eminent that even to this day they are known to every child: Hippocrates, the founder of scientific medicine, and Democritus, far the greatest of all Hellenic investigators of nature, the only one of them whose influence is not yet spent; * and both of these are contemporaries of Phidias!

    * Democritus can only be compared with Kant: the history of the world knows of no more remarkable intellectual power than his. Whoever does not yet know this fact should read the section in Zeller's Philosophy of the Greeks (Div. 2, vol. i.) and supplement this by Lange's Geschichte des Materialismus. Democritus is the only Greek whom we can regard as a forerunner of Teutonic philosophy; for in him — and in him alone — we find the absolutely mathematical-mechanical interpretation of the world of phenomena, united to the idealism of

518 ART

    But the assertion that art and science have never at the same time been cultivated with success has still less justification when we apply it to Teutonic culture. “What scholar lived in the time of Leonardo, Michael Angelo, Raphael, whose works could be even approximately compared with those of these great masters?“ Truly, one can't help pitying such a poor art-historian! At the very first name — Leonardo — we exclaim: “Why, my good sir, Leonardo himself!“ Scientific authorities say regarding him: “Leonardo da Vinci must be regarded as the greatest forerunner of the Galilean epoch of the development of inductive science.“ *
    I have often had occasion in this book to refer to Leonardo, and so I may here merely remind the reader that he was mathematician, mechanician, engineer, astronomer, geologist, anatomist, physiologist. Though the short span of a human life made it impossible for him to win in every sphere the immortal fame which he won in that of art, his numerous correct divinations of things which were discovered later are all the more

inner experience and the resolute rejection of all dogmatism. In contrast to the silly “middle path“ of Aristotle he teaches that truth lies in depth! Knowledge of things according to their real nature is, he says, impossible. His Ethics are just as important: morality depends, in his estimation, solely upon will, not upon works; he already gives us a glimpse of Goethe's idea of reverence for self, and rejects fear and hope as moral impulses.
    * Hermann Grothe: Leonardo da Vinci als Ingenieur und Philosoph, p. 93.  In this book the author has attempted to prove that scientific knowledge in Leonardo's time was altogether more extensive and precise than two centuries later, yet he too humours the Hegelian art-history so far as to write: “We have always been able to observe the fact that the greatest splendour of science is preceded by a sublime epoch of art“; surely that is the non plus ultra. Nothing is more difficult to root out than such phrases: the very man who in a pre-eminent case has just proved the opposite, still babbles the same phrases and excuses the departure from the supposed rule with an “always“ — to which we are inclined to retort with the question: Where is there except among the Teutonic peoples a “highest splendour of science?“ He would be at a loss for an answer. And with us — that he could not deny — art from Giotto to Goethe runs parallel to science from Roger Bacon to Cuvier.

519 ART

valuable, as they are not airy intuitions but the result of observation and a strictly scientific method of thinking. He was the first to establish clearly the great central principle of all natural science, mathematics and experiment. “All knowledge is vain,“ he says, “which is not based upon facts of experience and which cannot be traced step by step to the scientifically arranged experiment.“ * I certainly do not know whether Professor Schultz would call Leonardo a “scholar“; but history proves that there is something greater than scholarship even in the sciences, namely, genius; and Leonardo is, beyond doubt, one of the greatest scientific geniuses of all time. But let us look further to see if there is not another scientific contemporary of Michael Angelo and Raphael worthy of being “approximately“ placed alongside of them. Nothing is more difficult than to awaken men to the appreciation of past scientific greatness, and if I were to quote, as examples of natural investigators whose lives fall within that of Michael Angelo, Vesalius, the immortal founder of human anatomy, Servet, the forerunner of the discovery of the circulation of the blood, Konrad Gessner, that remarkable many-sided marvel of all later “naturalists,“ and others as well, I should have to add a commentary to each name, and even after all a whole life of successful work would still not be equivalent, in the vague conception of the layman, to one great work of art which he knows by having actually seen it. But fortunately in this case we have not to seek far to find a name, the splendour of which has impressed even the most unscientific brain. For with all our admiration of these immortal artists we must yet admit that a Nicolaus Copernicus has exercised a greater, more thorough and more lasting influence upon all human culture than Michael Angelo and Raphael. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg exclaims,

    * Libro di pittura, § 33 (ed. Ludwig).

520 ART

after pointing out the scientific and moral greatness of Copernicus: “If this was not a great man, who in this world can lay claim to the title?“ * And Copernicus is so exactly the contemporary of Raphael and Michael Angelo that his life embraces that of Raphael. Raphael was born in 1483 and died in 1520: Copernicus' dates are 1473-1543. Copernicus was famous in Rome at a time when Raphael's name was unknown there; and when the genius of Urbino was summoned by Julius II., in 1508, the astronomer already carried in his brain his theory of the cosmic system, although like a genuine investigator of nature he worked at it for thirty years longer before publishing it. Copernicus is twenty-one years younger than Leonardo, two years younger than Albrecht Dürer, two years older than Michael Angelo, four years older than Titian; all these men were at the zenith of their powers between 1500 and 1520. But not they alone, the epoch-making natural investigator Paracelsus † is only ten years younger than Raphael and closed his eventful and scientifically important life more than twenty years before Michael Angelo. We must, however, not overlook the fact that men like Copernicus and Paracelsus do not fall from heaven; if the art of genius is a collective phenomenon, science is so in a still higher degree. The very first biographer of Copernicus, namely, Gassendi, proved that he would not have been possible but for his predecessor Regiomontanus, and that the latter owed just as much to his teacher, Purbach; and on the other hand, the astronomer Bailly, a recognised authority, asserts that, if his instruments had been a little more perfect, Regiomontanus would have anticipated most of the discoveries of Galilei. ‡

    * See his Leben des Kopernikus in his Physikalische und mathematische Schriften, ed. 1884, Part I. p. 51.
    † Cf. pp. 392, 425 f.
    ‡ Both facts are taken from the above-mentioned biography by Lichtenberg.

521 ART

    It is impossible to compare art and science with one another in the way in which our art-historians compare them; for art — the art of genius — “is always at its goal,“ as Schopenhauer has finely remarked; there is no progress beyond Homer, beyond Michael Angelo or Bach; science, on the other hand, is essentially “cumulative“ and every investigator stands on the shoulders of his predecessor. The modest Purbach paves the way for that marvel Regiomontanus, and the latter makes Copernicus possible, upon his work Kepler and Galilei (who was born in the year in which Michael Angelo died) build, and upon theirs Newton. According to what criterion are we to determine the “best fruit“ here? A single consideration will show how invalid artificial determination from a priori constructions is. The great discoveries of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magalhães, &c., are the fruits of exact scientific work. Toscanelli (born 1397), the adviser of Columbus and probable instigator of the voyage to the west, was an excellent, learned astronomer and cosmographer, who undertook to prove the spherical shape of the earth, and whose map of the Atlantic Ocean, which Columbus used on his first voyage, is a marvel of knowledge and intuition. The Florentine Amerigo Vespucci was taught by him, and thus enabled to map the first exact topographical details of the American coast. Yet that would not have sufficed. But for the wonderfully exact astronomical almanacs of Regiomontanus which, on the basis of his observations of the stars and of new methods, he had calculated and printed for the period I475-1506, no transatlantic voyage would have been possible; from Columbus onwards every geographical discoverer had them on board. * I should have thought that the discovery of the earth, which coincides exactly with the greatest splendour of plastic art in Italy, was in itself a

    * For all these facts see Fiske: The Discovery of America.

522 ART

“fruit,“ just as worthy of our appreciation as a Madonna of Raphael; science, in preparing the way for and making art possible, can hardly be said to have limped on behind, but rather to have preceded art.
    If we continued step by step to criticise our art-historian, we should still have much to say concerning him; but now we have shown the total invalidity of the basis of his further assertions, we may throw open door and window and let the sunshine of glorious reality and the fresh air of impetuous development clear the stuffy atmosphere of a philosophy of history, in which the past remains obscure and the present insignificant. I may therefore briefly summarise the further facts that go to refute his theory.
    About a hundred and fifty years after Raphael's death — Kepler and Galilei had been long dead, Harvey recently; Swammerdam was engaged in discovering undreamt-of secrets of anatomy, Newton had already worked out his theory of gravitation, and John Locke in his fortieth year was just undertaking the scientific analysis of the human mind — a poem was written, of which Goethe has said: “If poetry were altogether lost to the world, it could be restored by means of this work“; that must be, I should think, art of genius in the most superlative sense! The artist was Calderon, the work his Steadfast Prince. * Such extravagant praise from so capable and level-headed a critic as Goethe makes us feel that the creative power of Art in the seventeenth century had not declined. We shall doubt it the less when we consider that Newton, the contemporary of Calderon, might have seen Rembrandt at work, and perhaps — I do not know — did see him; if he had travelled in Germany, he might equally have seen the great musician of the Thomaskirche produce one of his Passions, and doubtless he

    * Letter to Schiller, June 28, 1804.

523 ART

saw or knew Handel, who had settled in England long before Newton's death. This brings us past the middle of the eighteenth century. In the year of Handel's death, Gluck was at the zenith of his power, Mozart was born and Goethe had written a great deal, not for the world, but for his brother Jakob, who died young, and he had just become, in consequence of the presence of the French in Frankfurt, acquainted with the theatre before and behind the scenes; before the close of the same year Schiller saw the light of the world. These few hasty indications — and I have not mentioned the rich artistic life of England, from Chaucer to Shakespeare, and from the latter to Hogarth and Byron, nor the fine creations of France, from the invention of Gothic architecture in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to the great Racine — prove quite clearly that in no century, since our new world began to arise, have there been lacking a deep-felt need of art, widespread artistic genius and its revelation in glorious masterpieces. Calderon does not stand alone, as we have just seen: what Goethe said of his Steadfast Prince he might just as well have said of Shakespeare's Macbeth; and in the meantime the purest of all the arts — that art which was to give the Teutonic poets the instrument they required for the full expression of their thought — music — gradually attained a perfection undreamt of before, and produced one genius after the other. This reveals the invalidity of the assertion that art and science exclude each other: an assertion which rests partly upon an altogether capricious and wrong definition of the term “art,“ partly upon ignorance of historical facts and traditional perversity of judgment.
    If there is a century which deserves to be called the “scientific“ century, it is the sixteenth; we find this view of Goethe's confirmed by the authority of Justus Liebig (p. 320); but the sixteenth is the century of

524 ART

Raphael, Michael Angelo and Titian, its beginning saw Leonardo and its end Rubens; the century of natural science above all others was therefore also a century incomparably rich in plastic art. But all these divisions should be rejected as artificial and senseless. * There are no such things as centuries except in our imagination, and there is no relation between art and science except one of indirect mutual advancement. There is only one great unfettered power, busily active in all spheres simultaneously, the power of a definite race. This power is, of course, hindered or furthered now here, now there, frequently by purely external chance events, often by great ideas and the influence of pre-eminent personalities. Thus Italian painting developed importance and independence under the direct influence of Francis of Assisi, and of the great churches of which his order encouraged the building with frescoes for the instruction of the ignorant; then in Germany in consequence of almost three hundred years of war, devastation and inner strife, the interest in and capacity for plastic art gradually waned, because that, more than any other art, requires wealth and peace, in order that it may live; or to give another example, the circumnavigation of the world supplied a great impetus to astronomical studies (p. 284), while the rise of the Jesuits put a complete stop to the growth of science in Italy (p. 193). All this the historian — and the art-historian as well — can and should show us, by means of concrete

    * Those who like such frivolous divisions may note the following: in the year of Michael Angelo's death (1564) Shakespeare was born; the death of Calderon (1681) coincides almost exactly with the birth of Bach, and the lives of Gluck, Mozart, and Haydn bring us exactly to the end of the eighteenth century; we might therefore say that a century of plastic art was followed by one of poetry and that by one of music. There have been people who have spoken of mathematical, astronomical-physical, anatomical-systematic and chemical centuries — simply nonsense, which mathematicians, natural scientists and anatomists of to-day will know how to estimate at its proper value.

525 ART

facts, instead of dimming our judgment by impotent generalisations.


    And yet we require generalisations; without them there is no knowledge, and hence, until the arrival of the eagerly expected Bichat of the history of culture, we sway backwards and forwards between false general views, which reveal every individual fact in a wrong perspective, and correct individual judgments, which we are unable so to unite that knowledge, i.e., an understanding embracing all phenomena, may be thereby derived. But I hope the whole preceding exposition, from the first chapter of this book onwards, will have provided us with sufficient material to complete our makeshift bridge here. The fundamental facts of knowledge now lie so clearly before us and have been regarded from so many sides that I do not require to offer excuses for an almost aphoristic brevity.
    In order to understand the history and the importance of art in succession of time and amid other phenomena of life, the first and absolute condition is that we consider it as a whole, and do not fix our attention solely on this or that fragment — as, for example, “the sphere of manual production“ — and philosophise over that. *
    Wherever and in whatever way there is free, creative reshaping of the inner and outer material presented by nature, there we have art. As art implies freedom and creative power, it demands personality; a work which does not bear the stamp of a peculiar distinct individuality is not a work of art. Now personalities are distinct not only in physiognomy, but also in degree; here (as elsewhere in nature) the difference in degree merges at a certain point into specific difference, so that we are

    * I recall to the reader's memory Goethe's remark: “Technique finally becomes fatal to art“ (Sprüche in Prosa); that means, of course, to true, creative art.

526 ART

justified in asserting with Kant that the genius is specifically different from the ordinary man. * This is nowhere so apparent as in art, which in the works of authentic geniuses becomes a kind of second nature, and is consequently, like it, imperishable, incalculable, inexplicable and inimitable. Yet in every personality which is free, that is, capable of originality, there is affinity to genius; this is seen in the fine appreciation of the art of genius, in the enthusiasm which it arouses, in the stimulus which it gives to creative activity, in its influence upon the work of men who are not in the true sense of the word artists. Not only does the art of the inspired man live in an atmosphere of artistic creation in which genius has preceded him, is his contemporary, and will live after him, but genius stretches out its roots to the most remote spheres, drawing in nourishment from all sides and conveying vitality wherever it goes. I point to Leonardo and to Goethe. Here we can see with our eyes how the artistic gift, overflowing all boundaries, expands its fructifying power over every field that the intellect of man can till. If we look more closely, we shall be no less astonished at the way in which these men draw fresh inspiration from the most varied and widely differing sources; the fostering soil of Goethe's inspiration extends from comparative osteology to the philologically exact

    * Cf. vol. i. p. 24. How many aesthetic delusions and useless discussions the nineteenth century might have spared itself had it weighed more carefully Kant's profound remark: “Genius is the inborn quality of mind, by which nature prescribes the rule to art — for this reason genius cannot describe or scientifically reveal how it produces; for the same reason, the producer of a work of genius does not know the source of the ideas which conduced to it, nor can he, according to a plan or at will, think out these ideas and communicate them with instructions to others, so as to enable the latter to produce similar works“ (Kritik der Urteilskraft, § 46). Cf. also chapter § 57, close of the first note. The Italian Journey had not then appeared in print, otherwise Kant might have referred to Goethe's letter of September 6, 1789: “The greatest works of art have at the same time been the greatest works of nature, produced by men according to true and natural laws.“

527 ART

criticism of the Hebrew Torah; that of Leonardo from the inner anatomy of the human body to the actual execution of those magnificent canals of which Goethe dreamt in his old days. Are we just to such men, if we measure and codify their artistic capacity according to what they have achieved within the four corners of “fixed patterns“? Are we to allow intellectual pigmies to clamber down from their Darwinian monkey-tree and reproach these men for going beyond their own particular “speciality in art“? Certainly not. “Only as creator can man be really worthy of our reverence,“ said Schiller. * Leonardo's and Goethe's views on nature and their philosophic thoughts are by their creative character most certainly “worthy of reverence“; they are Art.
    What is here visibly manifest, because in these exceptional men we can directly observe in the same individual the capacity for giving and receiving, goes on everywhere by manifold mediation, though for that very reason it remains unnoticed. Everything can be a source of artistic inspiration, and on the other hand, often where, in the hurry of life, we least expect it, successes are achieved which must be attributed in the last instance to artistic inspiration. Nothing is more receptive than human creative power. It takes impressions from everywhere, and for it a new impression means a new addition not only to its material, but also to its creative capacity, because, as I said on p. 78 (vol. i.) and pp. 273 and 326 (vol. ii.), nature alone, and not the human mind, is inventive and gifted with genius. There is therefore a close connection between knowledge and art, and the great artist (we see it from Homer to Goethe) is always specially eager to learn. But art gives back with interest what it receives; by a thousand often hidden channels it influences philosophy, science, religion, industry, life, but especially the possibility of knowledge. As Goethe says: “Men as a whole are better adapted to

    * Über Anmut und Würde.

528 ART

art than to science. The former belongs in the largest measure to themselves, the latter in the largest measure to the world; — so we must necessarily conceive science as art, if we expect from it any kind of completeness.“ * Thus, for instance, Kant's Theory of the Heavens is just as artistic a work as Goethe's Metamorphosis of Plants, and that not only on the positive side, as a creative benefit to mankind, but also negatively, in so far as all such summaries are, in spite of the instruments of mathematics, human creations, that is to say, myths.
    I therefore postulate as our first principle that art must be considered as a whole, and in saying this I maintain that I have laid down an important rule. Artistic handicraft belongs altogether to Industry, i.e., to the department of civilisation; it can flourish (as among the Chinese) without a trace of creative power being present; Art, on the other hand, as element of culture (in the various branches of the Indo-European family) is like the life-blood throbbing through the whole higher intellectual life. In order to form a correct historical estimate of our art, we must first of all comprehend the unity of the impulse — which proceeds from the innermost emotions of the personality — then we must trace the manifold exchange of giving and taking in all its most minute ramifications. I said on p. 233 it is only the man who surveys the whole that can establish distinctions within that whole; and a true history of art cannot be built up by piecing together the various so-called “forms of art“; we must rather first of all obtain a view of art as a uniform whole and trace it to where it merges with other phenomena of life into a still greater whole; only then are we in a position to judge correctly the importance of its individual manifestations.
    This then is the first general principle.

    * Materialien zur Geschichte der Farbenlehre, Div. 1.

529 ART


    The second fundamental principle draws the indispensable narrower circle; all genuinely artistic creation is subject to the absolute primacy of poetry. For the most part I can rest content with referring to what has been said on p. 506 f. The reader will find further confirmation everywhere. Thus Springer shows that the first movements of plastic creative power among the Teutons (about the tenth century) did not occur where men copied former patterns of plastic art, but where their imagination had been awakened to free creation by poetical works — chiefly by the Psalms and legends; immediately “there reveals itself a remarkable poetic power of perception, it penetrates the object and envelops even abstract conceptions with a tangible body.“ * The plastic artist, then, becomes productive when he can give form to figures which the poet has conjured up before his imagination. Of course the plastic artist receives many a creative inspiration which has not first been conveyed to him by the pen of the poet; a brilliant example is presented by the almost incalculable influence of Francis of Assisi; but we must not overlook the fact that it is not only what is written that is poetry. Poetical creative power slumbers in many breasts and in many forms; “the real inventor was in all times the people alone; the individual cannot invent, he only makes himself master of what has been already invented.“ † Scarcely had this wonderful personality of Francis vanished, when the people transformed and transfigured it to an ideal figure; and it is this ideal poetical figure that stimulated Cimabue, Giotto and those who followed after them. But the lesson to be drawn from this example is not yet

    * Handbuch der Kunstgeschichte (1895), ii. 76.
    † Richard Wagner: Entwürfe, Gedanken, Fragmente (1885), p. 19.

530 ART

exhausted. An art-historian, who has made the influence of Francis upon plastic art the subject of the most minute studies, and who must be inclined rather to over-estimate than under-estimate that influence, namely, Professor Henry Thode, calls attention to the fact that only to a certain degree did this influence have a creative effect; such a religious movement rouses the slumbering depths of the personality, but in itself offers the eye little material and still less form; in order that the plastic art of Italy should grow to full strength, a new impulse had to be given, and that was the work of the poets. * It was Dante who taught the Italians to create; and not he only, but also the poetry of antiquity which had been unearthed in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Naturally we must not take a narrow view of this fact; while the illuminator of the tenth century may get his inspiration for free creation by following a psalm verse by verse, at a later time such an illustrator is little valued, freer invention is demanded; in every sphere the artist rises to ever increasing independence; but his independence is determined by the development and the power of all-embracing Poetry.
    This is an appropriate place for introducing Lessing's important theory, that poetry and music are one single art, that the two together form true poetry. That is the starting-point for an understanding of Teutonic art, including plastic art; whoever carelessly overlooks this fact will never reach the purity of truth. To what has been already said above (p. 510 f.) I require only to add a few words by way of an indispensable supplement.

    * Franz von Assisi und die Anfänge der Kunst der Renaissance in Italien, 1885, p. 524 f.

531 ART


    Wherever we find highly developed, creative poetry among Teutonic peoples, there too we find a developed tone-art, which is intimately bound up with it. I shall mention only three characteristic features of the Aryan Indians. Bharata, the legendary inventor of their most popular art, namely, the Drama, is looked upon also as the author of the Foundations of Musical Instruction, for in India music was an integral part of dramatic works; lyric poets were wont to give the melody along with the verses, and when they did not do so they at least indicated in what key each poem was to be rendered. These two features bear eloquent witness; — a third clearly illustrates the development of technique. The old method, which was universal in all Europe, of designating the musical scale do, re, mi, &c., is derived from India, transmitted through Erania. Thus we see how intimately associated music and poetry were, and what a part the knowledge of music played in life. * I need not add anything concerning the music of the Hellenes. Herder says: “Among the Greeks poetry and music were but one work, one splendour of the human mind.“ † In another passage he says: “The Greek theatre was Song; everything was arranged with a view to that; and whoever does not understand this has heard nothing of the Greek theatre.“ ‡ On the other hand, where there was no poetry, as among the ancient Romans, there too music was absent. At a late hour they obtained a substitute for both, and Ambros mentions, as especially characteristic, the circumstance that the chief instrument of the Romans was the pipe, whereas among the Indians, harps, lutes, and other

    * Cf. Schröder: Indiens Litteratur und Kultur, Lectures iii and l.; and Ambros: Geschichte der Musik, Bk. I, i.
    † Ideen zur Geschichte der Menschheit, Bk. XIII. Div. 2.
    ‡ Nachlese zur Adrastea I.

532 ART

stringed instruments formed the chief stock; this fact tells the whole tale. Ambros points out that the Romans never demanded more of music than that “it should be pleasant and should delight the ear“ (practically the same standpoint as that of most of our men of letters and aesthetic critics); on the other hand, they were never able to comprehend the lofty intellectual significance which all Greeks, artists and philosophers alike, attributed to this very art. And so they were the first to have the melancholy courage to write Odes (i.e., songs) which were not meant to be sung. In the later Imperial age, in music as in other things, there was aroused an interest in virtuosity and aimless dilettantism; this was the work of the Chaos of Peoples which was beginning to assert itself. * These facts need no commentary. But one thing that does require comment is the fact already alluded to, that the prominence of musical talent is an intellectual characteristic of the Teutons — which of necessity implies a new and special development of Poetry, and with it of Art in general. The contrast presented by other Indo-European races will be instructive on this subject. Certainly the Indians too seem to have been highly gifted musically, but with them everything merged and lost itself in something Prodigious, Over-complex, and, therefore, Shapeless. Thus they distinguished nine hundred and sixty different keys and so made a complete technical development impossible. †

    * Ambros, as above, conclusion of vol. i.
    † It is well known that authorities are inclined to see in the Hungarian gypsies of to-day an early severed branch of the Indian Aryans, and musical writers have thought fit to see in the incomparable and peculiar musical gifts of these people an analogy to genuine Indian music: a scale which includes quarter-notes and sometimes even minuter differences, hence harmonic structures and progressions unknown to Teutonic music; moreover the passionate fervour of the melody and the infinitely rich and florid accompaniment, which defies fixation by our scale of notation, corresponds exactly to what is told us of Indian music, and so renders intelligible much that is to us inexplicable in Indian musical books. Any one who has for a whole evening listened to a genuine Hungarian gypsy orchestra will agree with me when I assert that here and here alone we see absolute musical

533 ART

The Hellenes erred by going to the other extreme; they possessed a scientifically complete but narrowly limiting musical theory, and their music developed in such a direct and inseparable alliance with their poetry — music being, as it were, the living body of the words — that it never attained to any independence, and for that reason never to a higher life of expression. The linguistic expression always formed the basis of Hellenic music; on that, and not on purely musical considerations, the Greeks built up even the melody; and instead of constructing, as we do, the harmonic structure from the bottom upwards (this is not of course caprice, but is based on the facts of acoustics, namely, the presence of harmonising overtones), the Greeks constructed from the top downwards. With them the melody of speech was supreme, and it was independent, unfettered by considerations of the musical structure; it was, so to speak, “speech sung“; and the instrumental accompaniment, which was devoid of all independence, was linked on as something subordinate. Even those who are not musicians will understand that on such a basis the ear could not be trained and music could not grow into an independent art; music remained under these circumstances an indispensable artistic element rather than a creative art. * What therefore

genius at work; for this music, though built upon well-known melodies, is always improvised, always suggested by the moment; now pure music is not monumental, but direct feeling, and it is clear that music which is at the time of playing improvised as the expression of momentary feeling must influence the heart quite differently, that is, must exercise a more purely musical effect than music which has been learned and practised. But such a production contains unfortunately no elements out of which lasting works of art can be forged (we only require to refer to those stupid parodies of Hungarian music which under the name of “Hungarian dances“ enjoy a regrettably wide popularity); this is in fact not a question of real art but of something lying deeper, namely, the elements from which art first arises, it is not the sea-born Aphrodite, but the sea itself.
    * In so far there is an analogy between Indian and Hellenic music, however different they otherwise were; in the one case it is over-luxuriance, in the other subordination of the musical expression, by which the feeling is created of something unshaped and elementary in

534 ART

in the case of the Indians was frustrated by excessive refinement of the ear, was from the first impossible to the Hellenes in consequence of the subordination of the musical sense in favour of the linguistic expression. Schiller has laid down the decisive law: “Music must become form“; the possibility of this was first realised among the Teutons.
    By what means the Teuton succeeded in making music an art — his art — and in developing it to ever growing independence and capacity of expression, may be studied by the reader in histories of music. But, as we are here considering art as a whole, I must call his attention to one great drawback in such histories. Since music is essentially the revelation of something inexpressible, we can “say“ little or nothing about it; histories of music shrink, therefore, in the main, into a discussion of things technical. In histories of the plastic arts this is not so much the case; plans, photographs, facsimiles give us a direct view of the objects; moreover, the handbooks of the plastic arts contain only so much of the technical as every intelligent person can at once understand, whereas musical technique requires special study. The comparison with histories of poetry is just as unfavourable to music. For in these we are hardly told that there is such a thing as technique, its discussion is limited to the narrowest circles of the learned; knowledge of the history of poetry is acquired directly from the poetical works themselves. Thus the various branches of art are presented to us in totally different historical perspectives, and this makes it very difficult to acquire a view of art as a whole. It is our business, therefore, mentally to rearrange our historical knowledge of art; and in this respect it is useful to know that there is no art in which —

contrast to genuine, formed art. To gain deeper insight into Hellenic music, I recommend the reader to consult the little book of Hausegger: Die Anfänge der Harmonie, 1895; from these seventy-six pages he can learn more facts, and more important ones than from whole volumes.

535 ART

in the living work — technique is so absolutely a matter of indifference as in music. The theory of music is altogether abstract, the technique of musical instruments quite mechanical; both run, as it were, parallel to art, but stand in no other relation to it than the theory of perspective or the handling of the brush to the picture. So far as instrumental technique is concerned, it consists solely of the training of certain muscles of the hands, arms, or, it may be, of the face, or of the appropriate drilling of the vocal chords; all else that is necessary — intuitive understanding of what has been felt by another, and expression — cannot be taught, and it is just this that is music. It is the same with theory; the greatest musical genius — the Hungarian gypsy — does not know what a note, an interval, or a key is, and the most profound musical theorists among the Greeks possessed as little musical talent as the physicist Helmholtz; they were not artists, but mathematicians. * For music is the only art which is non-allegorical, it is, therefore, the purest, the most perfectly “artistic,“ that in which the human being comes nearest to an absolute creator; for the same reason its influence is direct; it transforms the listener into a “fellow-creator“; when taking in musical impressions, every one is a genius; hence the Technical disappears completely in this case, indeed we may almost say that at the moment of execution it does not exist. The consequence is that in music, where we hear most about it, technique possesses the least significance. †
    Still more important for the historical estimate of art

    * That is the reason why they (as Ambros points out, i. 380 and elsewhere) dabble in purely imaginary musical subtleties, which would have been impossible in practice and would not have contributed in the least to pave the way for a development of Greek music. On the contrary, the highly developed theory of music actually hindered the development of Greek music.
    † To avoid stupid misinterpretations, I may remark that I do not fail to appreciate the interest or the value of musical theory and instrumental technique; but neither is art, they are merely the instruments of art.

536 ART

as a whole is the following point, which is again based upon Lessing and Herder and their theory of the one Art, namely, that music has never been able to develop itself apart from poetry. Even in the case of the Hellenes, it is a striking fact that, in spite of their great gifts and their brilliance as theorists, they were never able to emancipate and develop music where it was cultivated apart from poetry (e.g., in the dance). On the other hand, we shall see that all Indian music, so rich and varied instrumentally, develops around song as a kind of frame, and as a manifold deepening of the expression. The gypsy of our day never plays anything but what is based upon some definite song; if you say to him that you do not like the melody, that it does not suit the mood of the moment, he will invent a new one, or transform the already known one (as the modern musician his “motives“) into something psychically different; but, if you ask him freely to extemporise, he does not know what that means; and he is right, for a music not based upon a definite poetical mood is a mere juggling with vibrations. Now if we carefully follow the development of Teutonic music, we shall discover a fact which is certainly unknown and will be surprising to most of our contemporaries, namely, that from the first it has developed in the most direct dependence upon, and intimately bound up with, poetry. Not only was all old Teutonic poetry at the same time music, not only were all Troubadours and Minnesingers just as much musicians as poets, but when, from the beginning of the eleventh century onwards, with Guido of Arezzo our music began its triumphant progress towards technical perfection and undreamt-of richness of expressive power it remained throughout the whole development Song. The training of the ear, the gradual discovery of harmonic possibilities, the wonderful artistic structure of counterpoint, by which music, so to speak, builds itself a home in which it can rule as mistress; all this we have not

537 ART

thought out independently, like the Grecian theorists, nor invented in an instrumental ecstasy, as those enthusiastic visionaries who dream of an “absolute“ music imagine; — we have attained it by song. Guido himself expressed the opinion that the path of the philosophers was not for him, he was interested solely in the improvement of church-singing and the training of the singers. For centuries there was no music but what was song or the accompaniment of song. And though this singing sometimes seems to treat the words rather arbitrarily and violently; though the expression often disappears in favour of polyphonic effects in counterpoint — only one really great master needs to come and then we learn the purpose of it all: namely, technical mastery of material in the interest of expressive power. Thus our music develops from master to master; the technique of composition more and more perfect, the singers and instrumentalists more and more accomplished, the musical genius consequently more and more free. Even of Josquin de Près his contemporaries said: “Others had to submit their will to the notes, but Josquin is a master of notes, they must do as he wills.“ * And what was his aim? Whoever has not the privilege of hearing works of this glorious master should read Ambros (iii. 211 f.) to learn how he not only maintained the whole mood of every poetical work, a Miserere, a Te Deum, a Motette, a joyful (sometimes very frivolous) many part song, &c., but also gave the full significance to the purport of the words, and kept bringing them forward again and again, wherever necessary, not for mere fun's sake, but in order to convey to the feelings the poetical meaning of the words in all their aspects. Every one knows Herder's fine remark: “Germany was reformed by songs“; † we may say, music itself was reformed by songs. If this were the

    * The quotation is said to be from Luther.
    † Kalligone, 2nd Part, iv. The quotation seems to have been taken from Leibniz.

538 ART

proper place, I should make it my business to prove that even at a later time, when pure instrumental technique had arisen, genuine Teutonic music never moved further away from poetry “than the rose can be carried in bloom,“ for as soon as music desires complete independence, it loses the vital spark; it can indeed continue to move in forms already attained, but it contains no creative, moulding principles. That is why Herder — that truly great aesthetic critic — sounds a note of warning: “May the Muse save us from a mere poetry of ear!“ For such poetry, in his opinion, leads to shapelessness and makes the soul “useless and dull.“ * Still more clearly has the great tone-poet of the nineteenth century explained the connection: “Music, even at the highest climax, when raised to its highest point, is only feeling; it comes in as the companion of the moral act, but not as act itself; it can represent feelings and moods side by side, but it cannot, as the need arises, develop one mood from another; it lacks the moral will.“ † And hence, even during that century which stretches from Haydn's birth to Beethoven's death, and produced the greatest splendour of instrumental music, there has never been a musical genius who did not devote a great, if not the greatest, part of his artistic activity to the calling to life of poetical works. That is true of all composers before Bach, it is true in the highest degree of Bach himself, likewise of Handel, of Haydn in a scarcely less degree, of Gluck in every respect, of Mozart both in his artistic achievements and in his words, also of Beethoven, though in his case seemingly less so, because with him pure instrumental music has reached such a pitch of precision that, with the courage of desperation, it dared to create a poetry of its own; but Beethoven came ever nearer and nearer to poetry, either by descriptive music or by the

    * Über schöne Litteratur und Kunst ii. 33.
    † Richard Wagner: Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft, Collected Writings, 1st ed. iii. 112.

539 ART

preference given to vocal compositions. I do not dispute the justification of pure instrumental music — Lessing expressly guards against any such mistake — I am an enthusiastic admirer of it, and I regard chamber music (when played in a room, not in a concert hall) as one of the greatest blessings that enrich our intellectual life; but I insist that all such music draws its breath from the achievements of the song, and that every single extension and increase of musical expression always proceeds from that music, which is subject to the “moral will“ of the creative poet. We have become aware of this once more in the nineteenth century. A fact that should not be overlooked, as it often is, when we are estimating art as a whole, is that, even in the works of so-called absolute music, the poet always stands, frequently indeed unperceived, beside the musician. Had this music not grown up under the wing of the poet, we should be unable to understand it, and even now it cannot dispense with the poet, it only turns to the listener and begs him to take the place of the poet, which he can only do so long as music does not leave the sphere of what is known to him by analogy. Goethe describes it as a general characteristic of Teutonic poetry in contrast to Hellenic:
Hier fordert man Euch auf zu eigenem Dichten,
Von Euch verlangt man eine Welt zur Welt. *
In no sphere is that more true than in that of our instrumental music. A really, literally “absolute“ music would be a monster without an equal; for it would be an expression which expresses nothing.
    It is impossible ever to gain a clear conception of our whole artistic development if we do not first arm ourselves with a critical knowledge of Teutonic music, in order to turn back to the consideration of poetry in its widest compass. It is only in this way that Lessing's

    * Here you are called to be yourself a poet, / To add a world to the existing world.

540 ART

remark, “Poetry and music are one and the same art,“ becomes really intelligible, and that light is thrown on our whole history of art. In the first place, it is manifest that we must regard our great musicians as poets if we are to be just to them and thereby help our own understanding; in the sphere of Teutonic poetry they occupy a place of honour; no poet in the world is greater than Johann Sebastian Bach. No art but music could have given artistic shape to the Christian religion, for it alone could catch up and reflect the glance into the soul (see p. 512); how poor in this respect is a Dante in comparison with a Bach! And this specifically Christian character passes from the works, in which the Gospel finds expression, to other, purely instrumental ones (an example of the previously mentioned analogous procedure); the Wohltemperierte Klavier, for example, is in this respect one of the most sublime works of humanity, and I could name a Prelude from it, in which the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do“ — or rather, not the words but the divine frame of mind which gave birth to them — have found so clear, so touching an expression that every other art must despair of ever attaining this pure effect. But what we here call Christian is at the same time specifically Teutonic, so we are in a certain sense justified in asserting that our truest and greatest poets are our great musicians. This is especially true of Germany, where, as Beethoven has strikingly said, “Music is a national need.“ * At the same time, we notice in our poetry, even apart from music, a leaning or rather an irresistible impulse towards development in the musical direction, an impulse whose deeper meaning becomes clear to us. The introduction of rhyme, for example, which was unknown to the ancients, is no accident; it springs from the musical need. Still

    * Letter to Privy Councillor von Mosel (cf. Nohl: Briefe Beethoven's, 1865, p. 159).

541 ART

more significant is the magnificent musical sense which we find in our poets. Read those two wonderful pages in Carlyle where he shows that Dante's Divina Commedia is music everywhere; music in the architectonic structure of the three parts, music not only in the rhythm of the words, but as he says, “in the rhythm of the thoughts,“ music in the fervour and passion of the feelings; “go deep enough, there is music everywhere!“ * Our poets are all musicians; the greater they are, the more manifest does this become. Hence Shakespeare is a musical artist of inexhaustible wealth, and Calderon in his way no less so. Just as the learned musical philologist, Westphal, has pointed out in Bach and Beethoven the most complicated rhythm of the Hellenic stanza, so in the Spanish drama we find a preference for musically interlaced lines, we might almost say for tricks of counterpoint. From Petrarch to Byron, moreover, we notice an inclination on the part of the lyric poet to develop more and more the purely musical element, and this is due to the felt lack of music. Regarding Goethe's lyric poems, more than one musician of fine feeling has said that they could not be composed, they were already in all respects music. In reality, for a long time we have been in a peculiar position. Poetry and music are by nature destined to be one and the same art, and now in the most musical race in the world they have been separated! The musician, it is true, has developed more and more strength in the strictest dependence upon poetry, but the song of the word-poet has gradually grown silent, until his words have come to be mere printed letters, to be read silently; and so the word-poet has had to save himself either by didactic subjects or by those circumstantial, impossible descriptions of things, to which music alone can do justice, or has devoted all his energy to the task

    * Hero-Worship, 3rd Lecture.

542 ART

of creating music without music. This misrelation has been particularly noticeable in dramatic art, the living centre of all poetry. “Les poètes dramatiques sont les poètes par excellence,“ says Montesquieu; * but they were deprived of the mightiest dramatic instrument of expression just at the moment when it had attained a power undreamt of before. Herder has given voice to this in words of touching eloquence: “If a Greek, accustomed to the musical atmosphere of Greek tragedy, were to go to see ours, he would find it a melancholy spectacle. How dumb with all the wealth of words, he would say, how depressing, how toneless! Have I entered an adorned tomb? You shout and sigh and bluster! You move the arms, make faces, wrangle, declaim! Does your voice and feeling never burst forth in song? Do you never feel the want of this all-powerful expression? Does your rhythm, your iambus, never invite you to utter the accents of the true divine speech?“ † This state of affairs was, and still is, really tragical. Not that an “absolute poetry,“ which only “supposes“ the musician, as Lessing says, is not as justifiable as an absolute music — indeed it is much more so; that is, however, not the point; the important thing is to note that our natural musical craving, our need of an expression which only music can give, has forcibly influenced even those poetical works and those poets who stood apart from music. This has of course been felt most profoundly in Germany, where music has reached an incomparable development. From the passages quoted, it is clear how disapprovingly Lessing regarded the void in Teutonic poetry and how keenly it was felt by Herder. But many a reader will attach still more value to the sentiments of their great creative contemporaries. Schiller tells us of himself: “With

    * Lettres Persanes, 137.
    † Früchte aus den sogenannt goldenen Zeiten des 18. Jahrhunderts, II. Das Drama.

543 ART

me a certain musical mood precedes, and after this comes the poetical idea“; * several of his works are directly inspired by definite musical impressions, the Jungfrau von Orleans by the production of a work of Gluck. The feeling that “the drama leans to music“ constantly occupies his mind. In a letter to Goethe on December 29, 1797, he sifts the matter thoroughly: “In order to exclude from a work of art all that is alien to its class, we must necessarily be able to include everything which belongs to the class. And it is just this that is at present impossible (to the tragic poets) .... The capacity of feeling which the audience possesses must be fully occupied and affected at all points; the measure of this capacity is the standard for the poets“; and at the close of his letter he rests his hope upon music and expects it to fill up the gap so painfully felt in the modern drama. Music on the stage he knew only in the shape of opera, and he expected and hoped “that from it, as from the choruses of the ancient Bacchic festival, tragedy would develop in a nobler form.“ As for Goethe, the musical element in his work — I mean what is related to, and saturated with music — reveals itself forcibly at every step, and without calling attention to the frequent use of music in his drama, pointed with the stage direction “ahnend seltene Gefühle“ (expressing intense feeling) and the like, we could easily prove that even the conception of his plays indicates motives, principles, and aims which belong to the innermost sphere of music. Faust is altogether music; not only because, as Beethoven says, music flows from the words, for this is only true of individual fragments, but because every situation, from the study to the chorus mysticus, has, in the fullest sense of the word, been “musically“ conceived. The older he grew the more highly did Goethe value music. He was of the same opinion as Herder and Lessing

    * Letter to Goethe, March 18, 1796.

544 ART

regarding the relations of word-poetry to tone-poetry, and he expressed this in his own inimitable way: “Poetry and music alternately compel and free each other.“ Regarding the ethical value of music he says: “The dignity of art appears perhaps most pre-eminently in music, because it contains nothing which has to be subtracted; it is all form and quality, elevating and ennobling everything that it expresses.“ For this reason he would have made music the centre of all education: “For from it there emanate smoothly paved paths in all directions.“ *


    Goethe having taught us that from music, which means poetry wedded to music, smooth paths run in all directions, we have reached an eminence from which we can gain a wide view of the growth of our whole art. For we have already recognised that poetry is the alma mater of all creative art, no matter in what form it reveals itself; and now we see that our Teutonic poetry has passed through a peculiar, individual development, which stands by itself without any analogy in history. The extraordinary development of music, i.e., of the art of poetical expression, cannot but have exercised influence upon our plastic arts. For just as it was the Homeric word that taught the Hellenes to raise defined claims to artistic work, and to bring their rude statuary to the perfection of art, so music has taught our Teutonic races to make higher demands in regard to the power of expression in every art. In the sense which I hope is now quite clear, full of meaning, and free from all claptrap, we may call this tendency of taste and of productive activity the tendency of music. It is organically

    * See the Wanderjahre, Bk. II, chap. i. 9. Further details on this point and especially on the organic relations between poetry and music are to be found in my book on Richard Wagner, 1896, pp. 20 f., 186 f., 200 (text ed. 1902, pp. 28 f., 271 f., 295 f.), as also in my lecture on the Klassiker der Dicht- und Tonkunst (Bayreuther Blätter, 1897); cf., too, my Immanuel Kant, p. 29.

545 ART

connected with that bent of our nature which makes us Idealists in philosophy, and in religion followers of Jesus Christ, and which, in the form of artistic creation, finds its purest expression in music. Our ways differ, therefore, from the ways of the Hellenes, a fact to which I shall return when I have exhausted this other important point; not that the Hellenes were unmusical — we know the contrary — but their music was extremely simple, meagre and subordinate to the text, while ours is polyphonous, powerful, and all too inclined, in the storm of passion, to sweep away every constant verbal form. I think it would be an apt comparison to say of an engraving of Dürer or of a Medician tomb by Michael Angelo, that they were polyphonous works in contrast to the strict “homophony“ of the Greeks, which, be it noted, applies even to representations, where, as in friezes, numerous figures are represented in rapid motion. In order to give right expression to feelings, music must be polyphonous; for while thought is essentially simple, feeling on the contrary is so complex that at the same moment it can harbour essentially different, indeed directly contradictory emotions such as hope and despair. It is foolish to try to draw theoretical boundaries, but we may gain insight into the various nature of relative tendencies if we realise the following fact: where, as in the case of the Greeks, the word alone gives shape to poetry, there in the plastic arts transparent, homophonous clearness, with colder, more abstract, allegorical expression, will predominate; whereas, on the other hand, when the musical incentive to direct, inner expression exercises great influence upon creative work, there we shall find polyphonous designs and interlacing lines, bound up with a symbolical power of expression which defies analysis by means of logic. It is only when we keep this in mind that the trite phrase of an affinity between Gothic architecture and music receives a living, conceivable meaning; but at the same time we cannot

546 ART

help seeing that the architecture of Michael Angelo, who has so thorough an affinity to music, and of the Florentines as a whole, is just as “musical“ as the Gothic. The comparison, however, in spite of Goethe, fails to hit the mark; we must look somewhat deeper, to see the musical element at work in all our arts. One of the finest judges of plastic arts in recent years, Walter Pater, who was in addition a man of classical culture and tendencies, comes to the following conclusion regarding Teutonic art: “All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music ... Music, then, and not poetry, as is so often supposed, is the true type or measure of perfected art. Therefore, although each art has its incommunicable element, its untranslatable order of impressions, its unique mode of reaching the 'imaginative reason,' yet the arts may be represented as continually struggling after the law or principle of music to a condition which music alone completely realises....“ *


    If, however, we have gained anything towards a more profound understanding of art and its history, we still should occupy a one-sided and therefore misleading position if we were to let the matter rest there; we must leave the one pinnacle which we have reached in order to cross over to another. When we say that our art aspires towards that expression which is the very vital essence of music, we characterise thereby the inner element of art; but art has also an outer side; indeed, even music becomes, as Carlyle has aptly remarked, “quite demented and seized with delirium whenever it departs completely from the reality of perceptible, actual things.“ † The same principle applies to art

    * See The Renaissance, Studies in Art and Poetry, revised and enlarged edition, 1888, pp. 140, 144-5.
    † The Opera, in his Miscellaneous Essays.

547 ART

and to the individual man; in thought we may separate an Inner principle and an Outer, in practice it is impossible; for we know no Inner principle but what is presented by means of an Outer. Indeed, we can confidently assert that a work of art, in the first instance, consists solely of an Exterior. I call to mind the words of Schiller discussed on p. 16 (vol. i.). The beautiful is indeed “life“ in so far as it awakens in us feelings, i.e., actions, but to begin with it is merely “form,“ which we “look at.“ If then, when contemplating Michael Angelo's Night and Twilight, I experience so profound and intense an emotion that I can only compare it with the impression of intoxicating music, that is, as Schiller says, my “action“; not every soul would have thrilled in the same way; many a man might have admired the symmetry and composition, without feeling an emotion like the presentiment of eternity; he would, in fact, have merely “looked at“ the work. But if the artist really succeeds in moving the spectator by the sense of sight — in awakening life by form, how high we must estimate the importance of form! In a certain sense we may simply say, Art is form. And when Goethe calls art “an interpreter of the Inexpressible,“ we may add the commentary; only that which is Spoken can interpret the Unspeakable, only the Seen that which is not seen. It is precisely the Spoken and the Visible — not the Inexpressible and the Invisible — that constitute art. It is not the expression that is art, but that which interprets the expression. From this it is clear that no question in regard to art is more important than that which deals with the “Exterior,“ that is to say, with the principle of artistic shaping.
    This question is much simpler than the previous one; for the “musical tendency“ discussed in the former section, deals with something Inexpressible, it aims at the condition of the artist, as Schiller would say, at the

548 ART

innermost essence of his personality, and shows what qualities we must possess in order not merely to contemplate, but also to feel his work, and in such matters it is difficult to express oneself clearly; in the present case, on the contrary, we have to deal with visible form. I think we may be very concise and simply lay down the law that genuine Teutonic art is naturalistic; where it is not so, it has been forced by exterior influences from its own straight path prescribed to it by the tendencies of our race. We have already seen (p. 302) that our science is “naturalistic“ and therefore essentially different from the Hellenic, anthropomorphic, abstract science. Here we may safely proceed by analogy, for we are drawing a conclusion from ourselves about ourselves, and we have discovered in ourselves the same tendency of mind in very widely differing spheres. I refer especially to the second half of the section on “Philosophy.“ The unanimous endeavours of our greatest thinkers were directed to the freeing of visible nature from all those limitations and interpretations which the superstition, fear, hope, blind logic or systematising mania of man had piled so high around it that it was no longer visible. On the other side were love of nature, faithful observation, patient questioning; we realised too that it is nature alone that nurtures and develops our thoughts and dreams, our knowledge and imagination. How could so positive a tendency, which we find in no other human race either of the past or the present, remain without influence upon art? No, however much many appearances may tend to mislead us, our art has been from its birth naturalistic, and wherever we see it in the past or at the present resolutely turning to nature, there we may be sure that it is on the right path.
    I know that this assertion will be much disputed; our very nurses instil into us a horror of naturalism in art, and inspire us with reverence for a so-called

549 ART

classicism; but I do not propose to defend my position, not only for lack of space, but also because the facts speak too convincingly to require any commentary of mine. Refraining, then, from polemical controversy, I shall, in conclusion, merely elucidate some of these facts from the special standpoint of this book, and show their importance in connection with the work as a whole.
    That a gloriously healthy, strong naturalism asserted itself opportunely in Italian sculpture is brought home to us laymen by the fact that — though in Italy especially, and in this very branch of art, the Antique was bound to paralyse the unfolding of Teutonic individuality — still at the beginning of the fifteenth century Donatello gave such powerful and convincing expression to naturalism that no later, artificially nurtured fashion could destroy its influence. Whoever has seen the Prophets and Kings on the Campanile in Florence, whoever has contemplated that splendid bust of Niccolo da Uzzano, will understand what our art will achieve, and that it has of necessity to follow ways that are different from those of the Hellene. * Painting turns immediately

    * Here, as elsewhere in this chapter, I have been forced to mention only a few well-known names, which will serve as guiding stars in the survey of our history, but more careful study of the history of art, as it is pursued with so much success to-day, shows that no genius grows up in a night like a mushroom. The power of Donatello, which seems to resemble an elemental force, is rooted in hundreds and thousands of honest, artistic efforts, which go back two or three centuries and have their home — as should be noted — not in the south, but in the north. Look at the reliefs of the Prophets in the choir of St. George in the Bamberg Cathedral; here is spirit of Donatello's spirit. An authority who has recently made a most careful study of these sculptures, says: “Note how the artist follows the spoor of nature with the instinct of the tracker.“ This historian then asks himself in what school the Bamberg sculptor learned and practised such astonishing individuality, and proves convincingly that these great works of German artists, dating from the beginning of the thirteenth century, were inspired by a long series of attempts in the same line by their Teutonic brethren in the west, who were happier, more free, and richer in their political and social conditions. This artistic longing to follow the track of nature had long before found an artistic centre in the Frankish and Norman north (Paris, Rheims, &c.), another in that steadfast focus of

550 ART

to nature (as I remarked on p. 508), when the Teuton has shaken off the Oriental-Roman spirit of priestcraft. Nothing is so touching as to observe the gifted men of the north brought up in the midst of a false civilisation, surrounded and stimulated by the scanty remains of a great but alien art — following the natural bent of their heart in the track of nature; nothing is too great for them, nothing too small; from the human countenance to the shell of the snail, they faithfully sketch everything, and, in spite of all technical minuteness, they are able “to interpret the Inexpressible.“ * Soon came that great man, whose eye penetrated so deeply into nature, and who should always have remained the model of all plastic artists, Leonardo. “No painter,“ says a recent historian, “ever emancipated himself so completely from antique tradition ... in only one passage of his numerous writings does he mention the Graeci e Romani, and then only in reference to certain drapings.“ † In his famous Book of Painting Leonardo constantly warns painters to paint everything from nature, and never to rely on their memory (76); even when not standing at the easel, but walking or travelling, it is the duty of the artist ever and unceasingly to study nature; he should pay careful attention to spots on walls, to the ashes of a dead fire, even to

free, heretical, Gothic art, Toulouse (cf. Arthur Weese: Die Bamberger Domskulpturen, 1897, pp. 33, 59 f.). The same is manifestly true of painting. The brothers Van Eyck, born a hundred years before Dürer, are masters of noble, genuine naturalism, and they were educated in this school by their father; but for the fatal influence of Italy, which ever and anon, like the periodical waves of the Pacific Ocean, swept away our whole stock of individuality, the development of genuine Teutonic painting would have been quite different.
    * It has already been shown (see p. 307) that our whole natural science rests on the same basis of faithful, untiring observation of every detail, and the reader may conclude from that how closely our science and our art are related, both of them being creations of the same individual spirit.
    † E. Muntz: Raphaël, 1881, p. 138.

551 ART

mud and dirt (66); his eye would thus become “a mirror,“ a “second nature“ (58a). Albrecht Dürer, Leonardo's equal and contemporary, told Melanchthon that in his youth he had admired paintings chiefly as creations of the imagination, and valued his own according to the variety which they contained; “but when an older man he had begun to observe nature and copy her virgin countenance, and had recognised that simplicity was the highest ornament of art.“ * It is well known how minutely Dürer studied nature; whoever does not know this should look at his water-colour study of a young hare (No. 3073 of the collection in the Albertina) and that masterpiece of miniature work, the Wing of a Roller (No. 4840). † His Large Lawn and his Small Lawn in the same collection show how lovingly he studied the plant-world. Need I also mention Rembrandt to prove that all the greatest artists have pointed in the same direction? Need I show how even in the composition of freely invented pictures representing motion he is so naturalistic, i.e., true to nature, that even to the present day few have had the power and the courage to follow his example? Let me quote an expert; of the Good Samaritan Seidlitz says: “Here we find no strained pathos or forced heroism intended to move the spectator; the figures are completely wrapt up in their own actions, they are perfectly natural. In attitude, mien and gesture every one of them is fully taken up with what is inwardly moving him.“ ‡ This, as is evident, signifies a high stage of naturalism; psychological truth in place of outwardly formal construction according to pretended laws; no Italian ever reached such a height.

    * Quoted from Janitschek: Geschichte der deutschen Malerei, 1890, p. 349.
    † Birds of the family Coracidae are so called because of their habit of turning over suddenly or “tumbling“ in their flight. The common European species is known as Coracias garrula.
    ‡ Rembrandt's Radierungen, 1894, p. 31. See also Goethe's short essay on the same picture, Rembrandt der Denker.

552 ART

For in truth there are “eternal laws“ even outside of aesthetic handbooks; the first of them runs, “To thine own self be true!“ (vol. i. p. 549). Herein lies the great significance of Rembrandt for us Teutons; for ages to come he will be our landmark, our guide to tell us whether our plastic art is moving along the right and true path or is straying into alien territory. On the other hand, every classical reaction, like the one which set in so violently at the end of the eighteenth century, is a deviation from the right path, the cause of desperate confusion.


    Who can doubt where the truth lies, when he contemplates on the one hand Goethe's theoretical doctrines concerning plastic art, and on the other Goethe's own life-work? Never was so un-Hellenic a work written as Faust; if Hellenic art were necessarily our ideal, we should have but to confess that invention, execution, everything in this poem is a horror. And we must not overlook the progressive movement within this mighty work, for — to employ the famous but empty word “Olympic“ (with all the contempt it deserves) — the first part, in comparison with the second, would have to be called “Olympic.“ Faust, Helena, Euphorion — and, as counterpart, Greek classicism! The Homeric laughter, into which we must burst on hearing such a comparison, would be the only “Greek“ thing about it. Even the hero, drainer of marshes, might have pleased the Romans, but never the Greeks. If then our poetry — Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Josquin, Bach, Beethoven — is un-Hellenic to the very marrow, what is the meaning of holding up ideals to our plastic arts and prescribing to them laws which are borrowed from that alien poetry? Is not poetry the mother's lap of every art? Should our plastic art not remain our own, in-

553 ART

stead of limping along, an unloved and unrecognised bastard? At the root of all this lies a fatal mistake made by the Humanists, otherwise men of great merit; they wished to free us from Romish ecclesiastical fetters, and pointed to free, creative Hellenism; but archaeology soon grew predominant, and we fell from one dogma into another. We see what narrowness lies at the bottom of this fatal doctrine of classicism from the example of the great Winckelmann; of whom Goethe says that not only had he no appreciation of poetry, but he actually hated it, Greek poetry included; even Homeros and Aeschylus he valued only as indispensable commentaries to his beloved statues. * On the other hand, every one of us has frequently had occasion to notice how classical philology mostly produces a peculiar insusceptibility to plastic art, as also to nature. For example, concerning Winckelmann's famous contemporary F. A. Wolf, we learn that his stupidity as regards nature and his absolute inability to appreciate works of art made him almost unbearable to Goethe. † We stand therefore — with our dogma of Classical art — before a pathological phenomenon, and we must needs rejoice when Goethe with his healthy, magnificent nature, while on the one hand lending his help to the sickly Classical reaction, on the other gives expression to absolutely naturalistic precepts. Thus on September 18, 1823, he warns Eckermann against phantastic poetising, and teaches him that “reality must provide the occasion and the subject-matter of all poems; a special case becomes common property and poetical by the very fact that the poet treats it ... the real world does not lack poetical interest.“ The very doctrine of Donatello and Rembrandt! And if we study Goethe's conception more closely — to which the Einleitung in die

    * Winckelmann (section on Poetry).
    † F. W. Riemer: Mitteilungen über Goethe, 1841, i, 266.

554 ART

Propyläen, written in 1798 at the close of our period, will greatly help us — we shall find that the Classical element is, in his case, little more than a graceful draping. Ever and anon he reminds us that the study of nature is the “highest demand,“ and not satisfied with purely artistic study he requires exact scientific knowledge (mineralogy, botany, anatomy, &c.); that is the important point, for this is absolutely un-Hellenic and totally and specifically Teutonic. And when we find the fine remark that the artist should “in emulation of nature“ try to produce a work “at once natural and supernatural,“ we shall, without hesitation, discover in this creed a direct contrast to the Hellenic principle of art; for the latter neither penetrates down to the roots of nature nor soars upward into the Supernatural. *
    This comparison deserves a special paragraph.
    The man who is not satisfied with the “sounding brass“ of aesthetic phrases, but desires, by means of a clear insight into the peculiar and unique individuality of the Hellenic race, to grasp the distinct nature of their art, will do well not arbitrarily to separate the Greek artist from his intellectual surroundings, but from time to time for purposes of comparison to bring in and critically examine Greek science and philosophy. Then he will recognise that that “proportion,“ which we admire in the works of the Greek creative power, is the result of inborn restraint — not narrowness, but restraint, — not as a special, purely artistic law, but as an inevitable consequence of the whole nature of Greek individuality. The clear eye of the Hellene fails him whenever his glance wanders beyond the circle of what is human, in the narrower sense of the word. His natural

    * Goethe also writes in another passage (Dichtung und Wahrheit, Bk. XV.): “But no one reflected that we cannot see as the Greeks did, and that our poetry, sculpture and medicine can never be the same as theirs.“

555 ART

investigators are not faithful observers, and in spite of their great gifts they discover absolutely nothing, a fact which startles us at first, but is easily explained, since discovery always depends on devotion to nature, not on mere human power (see p. 269 f.). * Here, therefore, we find a clear, sharp dividing-line in the downward direction; only what lies in man himself — mathematics and logic — could reveal itself to the Greeks as genuine science; and in this they achieved remarkable results. In the upward direction the boundary is just as clear. Their philosophy is from the first closed to everything which a Goethe would call “supernatural,“ such things as he himself has represented poetically in Faust's descent to the “Mothers“ and in his Ascension to Heaven. On the one hand we find the strictly logical rationalism of Aristotle, on the other the poetical mathematics of a Pythagoras and a Plato. Plato's ideas, as I have already remarked (p. 313), are absolutely real, indeed concrete. The profound introspective glance into that other “supernatural“ nature — the glance into Ãtman, which formed the subject of Indian reflection, the glance into that realm which was familiar to every one of our mystics as “the Realm of Grace,“ and which Kant called the “Realm of Freedom“ — was denied to the Hellene. This is the distinct dividing-line in the upward direction. What remains is man, man perceived by sense, and all that this human being from his exclusively and restrictedly human standpoint observes. Such was the nature of the people that created Hellenic art. Who would deny, when the facts speak so eloquently, that this tendency of mind was an excellent

    * Thus Aristotle had noticed that in a thick wood the sunshine casts circular spots of light, but instead of convincing himself by childishly simple observation that these spots were sun-images and consequently round, he immediately constructed a frightfully complicated, faultlessly logical and absurdly false theory, which, till Kepler's time, was regarded as irrefutable.

556 ART

one for artistic life? Yet we see this Hellenic art develop out of the whole mental tendencies of this one peculiar human family; what can therefore be the meaning of holding up Hellenic principles of art as a law and ideal to us, whose intellectual gifts are manifestly so very different from theirs? Is our art then at any price to be an artificial and not an organic one? a made art, and not one that makes itself, that is to say, a living art? Are we not to be allowed to follow Goethe's admonition, to take our stand upon that nature which is external to man, and to strive upwards to that nature which is above us — both closed realms to the Hellene? Are we to disregard Goethe's other warning: “We cannot see as the Greeks did, and our poetry and sculpture can never be like theirs“?
    The history of our art is now to a great extent a struggle, a struggle between our inborn tendency and other foreign tendencies that are forced upon us. This struggle will be met with at every step — from the Bamberg sculptor to Goethe. Sometimes it is a case of one school opposing another; frequently the struggle rages in the breast of the individual artist. It lasted throughout the whole of the nineteenth century.


    Yet there is another struggle, one that is altogether productive of good, one that accompanies and moulds our art. In our characterisation of it, the words already quoted from Goethe, that our art should be “natural and at the same time supernatural“ will be of good service. To attain both — the Natural and the Supernatural — is not within the reach of every one. And the problem varies very much according to the department of art. To make matters perfectly clear, we may discard those two words “natural“ and “supernatural,“

557 ART

which are hardly appropriate in art, and replace them by naturalistic and musical. The opposite of natural is artificial, and there we come to a stop; on the other hand, the contrast to Naturalistic is Idealistic, and this at once makes everything clear. The Hellenic artist creates according to the human “idea“ of things; we, on the other hand, demand what is true to nature, i.e., the creative principle which grasps the particular individuality of things. Regarding the “Supernatural,“ demanded by Goethe, we must observe that of all the arts music alone is directly — i.e., of its very essence — supernatural; the Supernatural in the products of other arts may, therefore, from the artistic standpoint, be described as musical. These two tendencies, qualities, instincts, or whatever else you may please to call them — the Musical on the one hand and the Naturalistic on the other — are, as I have been endeavouring to show, the elementary powers of our whole artistic creation; they are not contradictory, as superficial minds are wont to suppose, they rather supplement each other, and it is just in the co-existence of two impulses so opposed and yet so closely correlated that individuality consists. * The man who paints the severed wing of the roller as minutely as if his salvation depended upon it, also creates the picture, Knight, Death and Devil. However, it is sufficiently apparent that from this peculiar nature of our intellect a rich inner life of powers either opposing each other or combining in the most various ways was bound to result. Our power of music has borne us aloft, as on angel's wings, to regions to which no human aspirations had as yet soared. Naturalism has been a safety anchor, but for which our art would soon have lost itself in fantasies, allegories and thought-cryptography. One is almost inclined to point to the vigorous

    * Cf. p. 226. Thus we see the plastic art of the Greek sway back and forwards between the Typical and the Realistic, while ours roves throughout the whole realm, from the Fantastic to the Naturalistic.

558 ART

antagonism and the consequently enhanced strength of the united Patricians and Plebeians in Rome (see vol. i. p. 99).


    This view of art, which I cannot pursue further, I would fain recommend to the consideration of the reader. It contains, as I believe, the whole history of our genuine, living art. * I shall only give two examples to illustrate in its essence and consequences the above-mentioned struggle between the two creative principles. If the strong naturalistic impulse had not separated poetry from music, we should never have had a Shakespeare. On the Hellenic standpoint, therefore, one of the brightest stars in the imaginative world would have been impossible. Schiller writes to Goethe: “It has occurred to me that the characters of Greek tragedy are more or less idealistic masks and not real individuals, as I find them in Shakespeare and in your dramas.“ † This collocation of two poets, who stand so far apart, is interesting; what unites Goethe and Shakespeare is truth to nature. Shakespeare's art is altogether naturalistic, even to rudeness — yes, thank heaven, even to rudeness. As Leonardo tells us, the artist should lovingly study even “the dirt.“ This explains how Shakespeare could be so shamefully neglected in the century of false classicism, and how even so great a mind as Frederick could prefer the tragedies

    * The “True“ must “prove itself true“ everywhere. That is why I gladly refer to the investigations of specialists as confirming testimony that my general philosophical view adequately expresses the concretely existing relations. Thus Kurt Moriz-Eichborn, in his excellent book on the Skulpturen-cyclus in der Vorhalle des Freiburger Münsters, 1899 (p. 164, with the sections preceding and following), comes to the conclusion that “Teutonic art is rooted, and reaches its highest growth, in Naturalism and the drama;“ and for the drama he points to Wagner, that is, to music.
    † April 4, 1797.

559 ART

of a Voltaire to those of the great English poet. Recently several critics have cavilled at Shakespeare's art for not being true to nature in the sense of so-called “Realism“; but, as Goethe says, “Art is called art because it is not nature.“ * Art is creative shaping; this is the business of the artist and of the special branch of art; to demand absolute truth to nature from a work is in the first place superfluous, as nature herself gives us that; in the second place absurd, as man can only achieve what is human; and in the third preposterous, as man desires by means of art to force nature to represent something “Supernatural.“ In every work of art, therefore, there will be an arbitrary Fashioning; † art can be naturalistic only in its aims, not in its methods. “Realism“ as it is called, denotes a low ebb of artistic power; even Montesquieu said of the realistic poets: “Ils passent leur vie à chercher la nature, et la manquent toujours.“ To demand of Shakespeare that his characters should make no poetical speeches is just as reasonable as it was for Giovanni Strozzi to demand of Michael Angelo's Night that the stone should stand up and speak. Shakespeare himself has in the Winter's Tale with infinite grace destroyed the tissue of these aesthetic sophisms:
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean; so, o'er that art
Which, you say, adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes ... this is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.
Since it is the aim of Shakespeare's drama to depict characters, the degree of his naturalism can be measured by nothing but his naturalistic representation of charac-

    * Wanderjahre, ii. 9.
    † Described by Tane with delightful scientific clearness: Philosophie de l'Art, i. 5. On the other hand, Seneca's Omnis ars imitatio est Naturae shows the thorough Roman shallowness in all questions of art and philosophy.

560 ART

ters. He who thinks that the cinematographic reproduction of daily life on the stage is naturalistic art, looks at things too much from the silly standpoint of the panopticon to make it worth while to enter into a discussion with him. * My second example shall be taken from the other extreme. Music had with us, as I have shown above, almost completely severed itself from poetry; it seemed to have freed itself from earth. It became so predominantly, indeed, one might almost say, so exclusively expression, that it seemed sometimes as if it had ceased to be art, for as we have seen, art is not expression but that which interprets expression. And, as a matter of fact, while Lessing, Herder, Goethe and Schiller had honoured music in the highest degree, and Beethoven had said of it that “it was the one incorporeal entrance into a higher world,“ there soon came men who boldly asserted and taught the whole world that music expressed nothing, signified nothing, but was merely a kind of ornamentation, a kaleidoscopic playing with relative vibrations! Such is the retribution that falls upon an art which leaves the ground of actuality. Yet in reality something totally different had taken place from what these empty-nutshell-headed worthies had found sufficient for their modest intellectual needs. Our musicians had in the meantime, by efforts extending over exactly five hundred years, gradually attained a more

    * At most we might do such a man the kindness to refer him to Schiller's illuminating remarks on this point in his essay Über den Gebrauch des Chors in der Tragödie; they culminate in the sentences: “Nature itself is an idea of the mind, which the senses do not encounter. It lies under the covering of appearance, but it never appears itself. Only the art of the Ideal is able, or rather it is its task, to grasp this spirit of the Whole and bind it in a corporeal form. Even it can never bring this spirit before the senses, but by its creative power it can bring it before the imagination and thereby be truer than all actuality and more real than all experience. From that it manifestly follows that the artist can use no single element from actuality, as he finds it; his work in all parts must be ideal if it is to have reality as a whole and be in agreement with nature.“

561 ART

and more complete mastery of their material, had made it more pliant and workable, that is, more capable of creating form (cf. p. 536) — which in Greece, where music was strictly subordinate to the text, would have been as impossible as the birth of a Shakespeare. And so music, the better it became able to interpret expression, had become more and more true Art. And as a result of this development music — which was formerly a more purely formal art, like a flowing robe wrapt round the living body of poetry — came more and more within the reach of the naturalistic creative tendencies peculiar to the Teutonic races. Nothing is so direct in its effect as music. Shakespeare could paint characters only by the mediation of the understanding, that is, by a double reflex process; for the character first mirrors itself in actions, which require a far-reaching definition, in order to be understood, and then we throw back upon it the reflection of our own judgment. Music, on the other hand, appeals immediately to the understanding; it gives us all that is contradictory in the mood of the moment, it gives the quick succession of changing feelings, the remembrance of what is long past, hope, longing, foreboding, it gives expression to the Inexpressible; Music alone has made possible the natural religion of the soul, and that in the highest degree by the development which culminated at the beginning of the nineteenth century in Beethoven.


    In order to make myself quite clear let me once more summarise the factors upon which our whole artistic development is founded; on the one hand depth, power and directness of expression (musical genius) as our most individual gift, on the other, the great secret of our superiority in so many spheres, namely, our inborn tendency to follow nature honestly and faithfully (Natural-

562 ART

ism); and opposed to these two contrary but, in all the highest works of art, mutually supplementary impulses and capacities, the tradition of an alien, dead art, which in strict limitation attained to great perfection, an art which affords us lively stimulus and valuable instruction, but at the same time, by mirroring a foreign ideal, leads us astray again, and inclines us to despise that in which our greatest talent lies — the power of expression in music and naturalistic truth. If any one follows out these hints, he will, I am convinced, be rewarded by vivid conceptions and valuable insight in every branch of art. I should only like to add the warning that where we desire to arrive at a combined whole we must contemplate things with exactitude, but not too closely. If, for example, we regard this age as the end of the world, we are almost oppressed by the near splendour of the great Italian epoch; but if we take refuge in the arms of an extravagantly generous future, that wonderful splendour of plastic art will perhaps appear a mere episode in a much greater whole. Even the existence of a man like Michael Angelo, side by side with Raphael, points to future ages and future works. Art is always at its goal; I have already appropriated this remark of Schopenhauer, and so in this section have not traced the historical development of art from Giotto and Dante to Goethe and Beethoven, but have contented myself with pointing to the permanent features of our individual human race. It is only a knowledge of these impelling and constraining features that enable us really to understand the art of the past and of the present. We Teutons are yet destined to create much, and what will be created must not be measured by the standard of an alien past; we must rather seek to judge it by a comprehensive knowledge of our whole individuality. In this way only shall we possess a criterion that will enable us to be just to the widely diverging movements of the nineteenth century, and to make an

563 ART

end of clap-trap, that poison-breathing dragon of all art — criticism.


    I think that my imaginary “Bridge“ is now finished. We have seen that nothing is more characteristic of our Teutonic culture than the fact that the impulse to discover and the impulse to fashion go hand in hand. Contrary to the teaching of our historians we hold that our art and science have never rested; had they done so, we should have ceased to be Teutons. Indeed we see that the one is dependent upon the other; the source of all our inventive talent, of all our genius, even of the whole originality of our civilisation, is nature; yet our philosophers and natural scientists have agreed with Goethe when he said: “The worthiest interpreter of nature is art.“ *
    How much might still be added! But I have now placed in position not only the key-stone of my “Bridge“ for this chapter, but also for my whole book, which I merely regard and wish others to regard — from beginning to end — as a makeshift structure. I said at the very beginning (see p. lix of the Introduction) that my object was not to instruct; even at the very few points where I might have more knowledge at my command than the average educated man who is not specially well read in any particular branch of learning, I have endeavoured to keep this in the background; for my object was not to bring forward new facts, but to give shape to those that are well known, and so to fashion them that they might form a living whole in our consciousness. Schiller says of beauty that it is at once our condition and our achievement; this may be applied to knowledge. To begin with, knowledge is something purely objective, it forms no portion of the person who knows; but if this

    * Maximen und Reflexionen.

564 ART

knowledge is shaped, it becomes a living portion of our consciousness, and is henceforth “a condition of our subject.“ This knowledge I can now look at from all sides, can, so to speak, turn it over and over. That is already a very great gain. But it is not all. A knowledge which has become a condition of my Ego, something which I not only “regard,“ but “feel“; — it is part of my life; “in a word, it is at once my condition and my achievement.“ To transform knowledge into fact! to summarise the past in such a way that we no longer take pride in an empty, borrowed learning concerning things long dead and buried, but make of the knowledge of the past a living, determining power for the present! a knowledge which has so fully entered our consciousness that even unconsciously it determines our judgment! Surely a sublime and worthy aim! And the greater the difficulty there is, in view of the increase of new facts, in surveying the whole field of knowledge, the more worthy of attainment that aim becomes. “In order to rescue ourselves from endless complexity, and once more to attain simplicity, we must always ask ourselves the question: How would Plato have acted?“ Such is the advice of our greatest Teuton, Goethe. But the aphorism might well plunge us into despair, for who would dare to say: thus and thus only would a Teutonic Plato of to-day have set about the task of reducing complexity to simplicity, which means, to possibility of life?
    Far be it from me to pretend that in this book I have succeeded in picturing the Foundations of the Nineteenth Century upon these principles. Between the undertaking and the execution of such a task, so many intentions, so many hopes are wrecked on the narrow, sharp limitations of a man's own powers that he cannot write his last words without a sense of humility. Whatever success my book may have attained I owe to those giants of our race upon whom I have kept my eyes steadfastly fixed.


Back to main page
The original text in German: Kapitel 9b7
Previous chapter: Philosophy and Religion
Next section: Index

Last update: May 4th, 2004