George Fuller, by Sidney Dickinson, 1884, continued.
eighteen years of study and practice have made, and Fuller found his life at Deerfield none too long to rid him of his respect for formulas.
His experience there was a continuous round of study. He completed little, although he painted much, inexorably blotting out, no matter after what expenditure of labor, the work that failed to respond to his idea, and striving constantly to be simple, straight-forward, and impressive, without being vapid, arrogant, or dogmatic. He possessed in large measure that rarest of gifts to genius — modesty — and approached the secrets of nature and life more tremblingly as he passed from their outer to their inner circles. It was a necessity of his peculiar feeling and manner of study that he should develop a lingering, hesitating, half-uncertain style of painting, which, however variously it may be viewed by different minds, is undoubtedly of the utmost effectiveness in describing the principles, rather than the facts, of nature and life. This way of presenting his idea, which some call a "mannerism," — a term that has wrongly come to have a suggestion of contempt attached to it, — was with him a principle, and employed by him as the one in which he could best express truth. Art may justly claim great latitude in this endeavor, and schools and systems arrogate too much when they seek to define its limitations. Absolute truth to nature is impossible in art, which is constrained to lie to the eye in order to satisfy the mind, and continually transposes the harmonies of earth and sky into the minor key. Fuller offended the senses often, but he touched that nerve-centre in the heart, without which impressions are not truly recognized. He won liking, rather than startled men into it, and his art, instead of approaching, retired and beckoned. His figures never "came out of the frame at you," as is the common expression of admiration nowadays. He put everything at a distance, made it reposeful, and drew about figure and landscape an atmosphere which not only made them beautiful, but established a strange and reciprocal mood of sentiment between them. He alone of all American painters filled the whole of his canvas with air; others place a barrier to atmosphere in their middle distance, and it comes no farther, but he brought it over to the nearest inch of foreground. This treatment, while it aided the quietness and restful mystery of his pictures, also strengthened his constant effort to avoid marked contrasts. He sought always a general impression, and ruthlessly sacrificed everything that called attention to itself at the expense of the whole. Yet he was not a man of swift insight in comprehensive matters, nor one who could be called clever. Weighty in thought as in figure, he moved slowly and in long waves, and although of marked quickness in intuition, he seemed to distrust this quality in himself until he had proved it by reason. He received his motive as by a spark quicker than the lightning's, and when he began a work saw its intention clearly, although its form and details were wholly obscured. Out of a mist of darkness he saw a face shine dimly with some light of joy or sorrow that was in it, and at the moment caught its suggestion upon the waiting canvas. Then came inquiry, explanation, reasoning, the exercise of a manly and poetic sensibility, and endless experiment with lines and forms, of which the greater part were meaningless, until by
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