George Fuller, by Sidney Dickinson, 1884, continued.
nature's life, and of its influence upon the sensitive mind of man. He perceived the truth that nature without man is naught, even as there is no color without light, and strove earnestly to show in his art the relations that they sustain to each other. He saw, also, that the material in each is nothing without the spirit which they share in common, and thus he painted not places, but the influence of places, even as he painted not persons merely, but their natures and minds. It is for this reason that, although we see in all his pictures where landscape finds a place the meadows, trees, and skies of Deerfield, we also see much more, — the general and unlocated spirit of New-England scenery.
This is the true impressionism — a system to which Fuller was always constant in later life, and which he developed grandly. He was, however, as far removed as possible from that cheap, shallow, and idealess school of French painters whose wrongful appropriation of the name "Impressionist" has prejudiced us against the principle that it involves. The inherent difference between them and Fuller lies in this — he exercised a choice, and thought the beautiful alone to be worthy of description, while they selected nothing, but painted indiscriminately all things, with whatever preference they indicated lying in the direction of the strong and ugly, as being most imperative in its demands for attention. Fuller's subjects were always sweet and noble, and it followed as a matter of course that his treatment of them was refined and strong. His idea was also broad; he sought for the typical in nature and life, and grew inevitably into a continually widening and more comprehensive style. He taught himself to lose the sense of detail, and to strike at once to the centre, presenting the vital idea with decision, and departing from it with increasing vagueness of treatment, until the whole area of his work was filled with a harmonious and carefully graduated sense of suggestion. He arrived at his method by an original way of studying the natural world. He did not, as most artists do, take his paint-box and easel and devote himself to description, and from his studies work out the finished picture. Instead, he disencumbered himself of all materials for making memoranda, and merely stood before the scene that impressed him, looking upon it for hours at a time. Then he betook himself to his studio, and there worked from the impression that his mind had formed under the guiding-hand of his fancy, the result being that nature and human thought appeared together upon the canvas, giving a double grace and power. The process was subtle, and not to be described clearly even by the painter himself, who found his work so largely a matter of inspiration that he was never able to make copies of his pictures. They grew out of his consciousness in a strange way whose secret he could not grasp; to the end of his life he was an inquirer, always hesitating, and never confident in anything except that art was truth, and that he who followed it must walk in modesty and humbleness of spirit before the greatness of its mystery. A man of ideas and sentiment, remote from the clamor of schools and the complaints of critics, with recollections of the grandest art of the world in his mind, and beautiful aspects of nature continually before his eyes, he could hardly fail to work out a style of marked originality. The effort, however, was slow; one does not erase on the instant the impressions that
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