He intended to perform its duties, and not only attract and please the beholder's eyes through his works, but elevate his heart and mind, as beauty, truth, grandeur, and eternity uplifted his own soul. He recognised in the tireless creative power which keeps Nature ever new, fresh, and bewitching, the presence of the same deity whose rule manifested itself in the life of his own soul.
The strong pure yellow marks the beholder's enthusiastic recognition of the technical skill of the artist, while all the other colours are expressions of the various emotions evoked within him by the examination of so glorious a work of art.
The Padishah, or Father of all the Sovereigns on earth, has not that majestic air which some sovereigns possess, and which makes the beholder's eyes wink, and his knees tremble under him: he has a black beard, and a handsome well-bred face, of a French cast; he looks like a young French roue worn out by debauch; his eyes bright, with black rings round them; his cheeks pale and hollow.
Fashion might turn her attention to the back of the head, and forthwith waterfalls and chignons would appear at her behest, but Sibyl, while congratulating her friends upon the wonders they achieved, would still wind her thick golden braids in a classical coil, so that her head in profile brought up to the beholder's mind a vision of an antique statue.
The creature stood in a vanishing point; yet a little while, and he was still a man, and had eyes and apprehension; yet a little longer, and with a last sordid piece of pageantry, he would cease to be. And here, in the meantime, with a trait of human nature that caught at the beholder's breath, he was tending a sore throat.
No, it is not the picture or nude statue or text, with clear aim, that is indecent; it is the beholder's own thought, inference, distorted construction. True modesty is one of the most precious of attributes, even virtues, but in nothing is there more pretense, more falsity, than the needless assumption of it. Through precept and consciousness, man has long enough realized how bad he is.
The piquant, handsome face, with its lively expression, its parted lips disclosing a row of pearly teeth, presents itself to the beholder's gaze as if coquettishly challenging his admiration, while the hand holds the pencil as in the act of drawing.
Over a pallet bent a form, on which, though youth seemed withered and even pride broken, the unconquerable soul left somewhat of grace and of glory, that sustained the beholder's remembrance of better days; a child in its first infancy knelt on the nearer side of the bed with clasped hands, and vacant eyes that turned towards the intruder with a listless and lacklustre gaze.
He had such a complexion as that with which Raffaelle enriches the countenance of the youthful son of Zacharias, a complexion which, though clear, is far enough removed from virgin delicacy, and suggests plenty of sun and wind as its accompaniment. His features were sufficiently straight in the contours to correct the beholder's first impression that the head was the head of a girl.
The homes in which men have lived now and again lend themselves to the beholder's subjective impression; they seemed to be brooding in forlorn isolation like some life-wearied gray-beard over ancient and sorrow-stricken memories. At Les Charmettes a pitiful melancholy penetrates you.