UNSCHOOLED in the laws that make pictorial art, the photographer has tried to emulate the sculptor. Forgetful that all his effects are confined to the surface of paper, he has tried to make a round thing on this paper, he has wanted his representation to "stand out," as he is accustomed to express it. Not photography but sculpture in high relief is adapted to such forceful methods. In photography and painting the paper or canvas is felt through the print or painting and is a part of the picture, just as in a Gobelin the design is woveri into the fabric of the canvas. A person represented should not "stand out" but should "stay in" the space. This does not mean that the figure is to seem shut into an enclosure, fenced about, imprisoned with a perpetuated expression, but something is meant to the effect that the surface, being the means of an artistic expression, should be utilized as one whole field, every portion of it being a vital part of the entire intricate fabric. For instance, in Figures
57, 65, 86, 112, or in any plain photograph, the central portion or the place occupied by the figure is overburdened, congested with material, while all about is a space saying nothing. The image is not fully "alive," it is "posed," conventional, unnatural, certainly not touched by art. It reminds us of the photographs of statuary made to suggest the originals in museums. Such photographs aim at nothing more than to give a scientifically correct idea of the originals for us to analyze, study, and enjoy. But let not the photographer think he is making a picture when he reproduces such a statue. It can never be a picture because the subject is not nature but a work of art. There is, therefore, nothing for the photographer to "treat"; he cannot intensify its beauty, he can only awaken in us by his reproduction a desire to see the original with its direct and inexhaustible loveliness. His photograph in this instance is only the reminder, as a photograph of a machine is a reminder in the advertisements of to-day. What should be done in such a case is to render the whole as clearly as possible, but that is not the office of the photographer when dealing with the portrayal of the human being. Such a portrait should not be a reminder but a direct conveyer of enjoyment. The person must appear to live in our presence. If its office were only to remind us of some one, the portrait and the tombstone would be of like nature, but they are, in truth, of opposite intent. The person lives in the picture and the creative nature of the artist has brought this about. It is this that gives to art its lofty character; we speak of "undying art," "perpetuating in art." It is this that makes the kings of Egypt and Assyria, the gods of Greece and Rome, the most living things in the past, while the pyramids are the expression of regret, heavy heart-burnings and perpetual sadness of a race.
We should, therefore, distinguish sharply between the imitative faculty employed when we photograph a statue, and the creative power brought into play when we take a subject from nature and make out of it a picture.
In Fig. 51 the frame, background, and figure are woven together as in a Gobelin; their sum of expression produces the masterly portrait. Analyzing the pen sketch, 98, we find that the spaces marked 1, 2, 3 are light, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 are dark, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 are intermediate tones. All of these light and dark spaces represent respectively face, hands, linen, cuirass, cloth, hair, rock, sky, and shadow, but they are first of all spaces, each important. None can be omitted, neither can any portion be treated without consideration of the part it is to play in the ensemble, for the expression of the face, the character of the figure itself, can be changed by such apparently (and only apparently) minor features as make up the background. Hence when the photographer tries to obtain beauty by utilizing a sculpturesque attitude, tries to convey the sense of reality by attempting to make the figure free from all influences such as background and frame, tries to make it "stand out" as in Fig. 50, he fails in his effort toward art.
The geometric lines bounding a representation and forming its frame are the "staying' factors of the picture. Any figure within their limit will have stability when its lines and the lines of the background are so controlled with relation to the frame that they affect vitally the whole picture surface. We may compare a picture to a spider's web, - Fig. 99. The latter is constructed to sustain the weight of the spider, and in order to be equal to its task its delicate threads reach out to various points for support. How necessary these points of attachments are. In Fig. 100 we have the frame of the picture with a spot located centrally. This spot has the shape of a head and a vignetted bust. It suggests weight made gross by its position and the lack of supporting lines. A weight unsustained is incongruous; the spot must throw out lines for its support. Thus lines in pictorial representation exist not only for beauty but quite as much for use.
The deficiencies of all vignetted plain photographs are the same as those of Fig. 100, but even in this kind of pictorial representation the relation of frame, background, and figure must be maintained. Suppose the frame and the object in the centre of Fig. 100 to be made of wood; the central mass having no support would fall. To prevent this it would be necessary to tie it to the upper frame with one or more supports — Figures 101, 102. We thus have the first "staying-in' element. We know, however, that it would still be likely to swing in and out, — Fig. 103, whereas it should be absolutely firm. If we place pieces of wood below, the condition is somewhat ameliorated, — Fig. 104, but to convey the impression that the object is perfectly secured, it should also be attached above or on the side as in Fig. 105, where the centre is made to stay in the frame firmly. In all of the masterly vignetted portraits painted by Franz von Lenbach, the lines of the figure reach out toward the frame, they sustain the figure. The direct downward lines found in photo-vignettes are not seen in his work.