« AnteriorContinuar »
Though I have been studying this subject, and teaching the subject, all my working-life, it has been my good fortune to listen to teachers here who have taken it up as one of many subjects they were required to teach, and have seen them give drawinglessons with a clearness, a precision, and practical skill on the blackboard, surpassing any teaching of the kind I ever saw. That is the ground of my confidence in the teachers of our common schools being perfectly competent to teach drawing. There is yet an absence of the appliances with which to teach; but we shall get all these in time. It is not possible for this country to remain definitely behind other countries for a long time in anything which is necessary to human progress, or which increases human skill; for, when that is the case, America will have ceased to exist. Some European countries have had a hundred, some fifty, and some thirty years' start of us in this subject; and that is handicapping us rather heavily in the race for distinction in art-education. Yet, in these days, progress does not depend so much upon the time we have been traveling as the rate of speed at which we run, and the straightness of the road along which we are progressing. From my own observation, I judge that the balance is considerably in our favor in these respects; and, therefore, though we have yet something to learn, we have happily nothing to unlearn: and the prospects of our winning the race are so good, that I
expect to live in the days when European travelers
will come across the Atlantic, to study the art-education of America.
This, if it becomes a reality, will be brought about in our common schools more than by schools of art, and by regular teachers like you rather than special teachers like myself: for it is the education which children get that forms the character of a nation; and the demands of an art-loving people will at all times produce a race of ministering artists.
Let the teaching of drawing in the public schools be sound, practical, and sensible, and art schools, museums, and galleries will as inevitably come as that harvest follows seed-time.
The foundation-stone of American liberty says that all men are born free and equal : as teachers, it is our business to see that this means freedom from ignorance, and equality with the best.
The time-honored arts have not been the monopoly of a race or a period : their features may have changed in revolving centuries; the theatre on which their excellence has been displayed' has shifted from place to place : yet, wherever there has existed ' a happy combination of freedom, peace, and prosperity, and love of education, there the arts have flourished, and shed lustre and glory upon the race and epoch which have been free, educated, and artistic.
It falls legitimately within the righteous ambition of any nation to desire that its citizens shall be capable of exercising all the nobler faculties of human nature, among which is a reverence for and love of
the beautiful in nature and art, in the revelations of Almighty Power in natural phenomena, and in the manifestation of artistic skill in the accumulated monuments of art; for such a characteristic will in all times increase the happiness, whilst it adds to the prosperity, of the nation.
Let us reverently hope that a country, which has fulfilled some of the conditions of this distinction may also reap some of its rewards.
As the greatest living writer on art has expressed it, “We may, abandon the hope, or, if you like the words better, we may disdain the temptation, of the pomp and grace of Italy in her youth. For us there can be no more the throne of marble, for us no more the vault of gold: but for us there is the loftier and lovelier privilege of bringing the power and charm of art within the reach of the humble and the poor ; and, as the magnificence of past ages failed by its narrowness and its pride, ours may prevail and continue by its universality and its lowliness.
“ The paintings of Raphael and of Buonarotti gave force to the falsehoods of superstition, and majesty to the imagination of sin; but our art may have for its task to inform the soul with truth, and touch the heart with compassion.
“ The steel of Toledo and the silk of Genoa did but give strength to oppression, and lustre to pride. Let it be for our furnaces and our looms, as they have already richly earned, still more abundantly to bestow comfort on the indigent, civilization on the rude, and to dispense through the peaceful homes of
nations the grace and the preciousness of simple adornment and useful possession.”
The art of the future will recognize no feasts of the gods, nor martyrdoms of saints. “We have no need of sensuality, no place for superstition or costly insolence.” But there is in us, as there has been in all great epochs of the world's history, a yearning after the beautiful in thought and language, and form and color; and the country in which love of art is the most general, and its practice in the highest branches the most thorough, shall now, as in the past, be the representative to all future ages of the civilization of mankind.
AS A BRANCH OF EDUCATION IN OUR COMMON SCHOOLS.
BY J. BAXTER UPHAM, M. D.
BEFORE acceding to the request of your Honorable President that I would present to the Institute a paper upon the subject of musical instruction in our public schools, I felt bound to confess that all I should be likely to say on this occasion had already been said, at different times and in various forms, in my Official Reports as a member of the Music Committee of the Boston schools, and might mainly be found in the manuscript and published annals of the School Board. Premising this, I have endeavored to bring together the main points of these expressed views and opinions, and offer them, with such additions and modifications as my further experience can suggest, for the consideration of the Institute.
It is pleasant, in this connection, to recall to your
minds the fact that just forty-two years ago, at the