THE peculiar physical and mental character of an artist is a determining factor in his choice of direction in art. Some men are strongly emotional, others are distinguished as intellectual. The emotional painter excels in the color quality of his pictures and the intenseness of his stroke, but few having this temperament are natural composers. The intellectual artist constructs well; Puvis de Chavannes stands for this class. His decorations in the Boston Public Library will surely be a great influence in developing the art of our country. They are readily analyzed and reveal a wonderful science, each line and tone being the result of deliberation and conveying an expression of the artist's thought, while each is kept subservient to the decorative scheme as a whole.
Among painters of easel pictures, F. F. Henner compares favorable with Chavannes in the intellectual field. An analysis of his "Fabiola," Fig. 71, will help us to realize this. By his mastery the rigid, almost uncompromising lines of the geometric oblong into which he has composed his picture have been made to carry the tender vision of a girl of dreams. Figure 72 gives the line whose strength can cope best with the geometric frame. This line also serves the law of beauty because of the agreeable irregularity produced by its placing.
Beauty in lines, secured by the irregular placing on the picture plane, attains a passive quality appealing to and satisfying our feeling. To this is often added a certain mental action, something that engages our reasoning powers as well. We must make the irregular arrangement of lines a means of expressing our ideas and also the degree of our feeling. This new element, so intimately interlaced with "beauty in lines," is what we designate as "power and force of line," culminating in "movement."
As in a monarchy there is always a leader in the person of a king or emperor, in a republic a president, in the army a chief officer, as wherever organization exists there is a head or directing element, — so in a picture where of necessity many lines are used there is a main or leading line, followed by a secondary, then a third, and so on. There never can be two leading lines; the duplication of the first would be a negation, each has its place according to its use. The relation of each to the others and to the frame establishes the weight of their statement and the degree of their intensity or force. That which establishes the weight of their statement is largely intellectual and appeals to our reasoning. It is the province of definition and drawing. That which establishes the degree of intensity or force affects our emotions. We speak of it as accentuation. To elucidate, if we remove the line in Fig. 72 and free it from all relation to a frame and to any other line, — Fig. 73, we are simply curious to know why it is there; we note its peculiarities, but further than that it means nothing. In Fig. 74 this same line placed upon a picture plane is to our intellect an intention, and to our emotional nature a movement. It vigorously infringes upon a given territory and divides it into parts: it is very decided, it has "power," as we say in art. As soon as we find we have a means of expressing power, the natural deduction is that if we were to make a second line equally powerful on the picture surface one would annul the other. We must make a second one stronger or weaker than the first. It would be illogical to make it stronger, for an unbroken picture plane demands that the first line be the most forceful one since the strongest line is best able to cope with the sum of power contained in the picture space. The second should support the first, — Fig. 75, and should break the larger of the two uneven spaces created by line No. I; the third should make it its duty to effect division of the larger space that now remains, — Fig. 76, but it should do more. It should be so placed that it will not injure the other two lines by making them appear as units. Instead it must help to quiet, to unify them to the degree of producing harmonious action among all three factors. By doing this it also establishes the much coveted quality of stability. Every additional line should further the same end.
How carefully the master has built up his picture from the frame inward, how its "power' has been controlled to protect that delicate face. The broken soft lines of the profile rest safely in the network previously constructed. If line I had been weak and the profile had been emphasized the outcome would have been the loss of the saint and the probable creation of the peasant type. How sensitively dependent expression is upon construction may be realized when we study Fig. 77. The face lacks an element of kindness that is peculiar to the original and that is restored to our drawing when line V is introduced, - Fig. 78. The absence of this line serves to increase the strength of the first three lines out of their due proportion, with the effect that the entire facial character undergoes the change mentioned.