Serial: Appletons' journal: a magazine of general literature.
Title: Mr. Cimabue Brown on the Defensive [Volume 11, Issue 65, Nov 1881; pp. 444-451]
Collection: Making of America Journal Articles
Article URL: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/moajrnl/acw8433.2-11.065/451
MR. CiMABUE BROWW OiV THE DEFENSiVE. 4+7 enthusiasts," he says, "but consider the immense now decorated with olive-green Vallauris pottery change for the better actually wrought in un- and quaintly pretty Satsuma teapots. The girls pretending ways among ten thousand English who used once to work Berlin-wool tapestry with households." I for my part, however, don't care square mosaic pictures of ladies and lapdogs and to be apologetic. I won't apologize, so don't ex- monstrous realistic roses, now work with crewels pect it. I boldly deny the whde accusation. I in really beautiful decorative patterns drawn to say there are no such ~sthetes as those angu- conventionalized designs. Our women univerlar-elbowed, green-complexioned, intense young sally dress in subdued and delicate colors; even ladies and gentlemen whom popular satire rep- our children play with toy books made lovely for resents as typical of our set. I defy you to them by Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane. point me out~one single specimen in real life. I, Some of the attempts that people make at the Cimabue Brown, am probably at this moment beautiful are still doubtless painful and ridiculous the best ridiculed and most laughed-at man in enbugh; but, at any rate, they make the attempt, all England; and yet I am not ashamed of my- instead of remaining as of old in a blissful and self. I ask you to look at us as we really are, contented state of utter Philistine ugliness. To not as you see us caricatured in Mr. Du Maurier's know a little about art, about poetry, about the clever sketches or Mr. Gilbert's comic operas. emotional side of life altogether, has become an Come to one of my wife's Wednesday evening object and a desire with thousands and thousands At Homes, and you will see, I can promise you, of people who never felt it so before. And that all the most ~sthetic people in London assem- result has been brought about in large part, I bled together. I acknowledge that you will find confidently assert, by us, the despised and mucha sunflower decoration in the hall; and very ridiculed "~sthetes." In the proud consciouspretty it is too, for my friend Partington took as ness of having played my part in a great and much pains with that dado as he ever took with beneficent revolution-a revolution which has anything he has designed. I acknowledge also made home-life happier, brighter, purer, nobler, that you will find old china plates put up against and in a word higher, for hundreds of thousands the wall, and Venetian glass in the cabinet, and of Englishmen and Englishwomen-I can afford, some good Persian tiles around the fireplace, and I feel, to laugh lightly at the little passing jokes a pretty Indian rug on the floor. I allow that and not unkindly caricatures of my good friends you will find the girls dressed for the most part at the theatres and in the comic papers. After in pleasant neutral tints, not in crude and staring all, as I said before, in making fun of me they reds, greens, and yellows; and that you will hear are really playing my game, and helping indirectmore conversation about Italian pictures and Mr. ly to familiarize the world with those objects and Lang's last ballade than about the latest fluctua- methods which seem to me most beautiful and tions of the Stock Exchange or about two pri- most desirable. vate person's irresponsible opinions on the hun- There are a few other more serious objections, dred and twentieth clause of the Irish Land Bill. however, sometimes urged against the great conBut if you see anybody posing in medi~val at- temporary ~sthefic movement typified by my titudes after Fra Angelico, or attempting to as- unworthy personality, about which objections I sume an expression of earnest ideality after San- should like to say a few words in passing, now dro Botticelli, or talking the burlesque jargon that I have got you fairly button-holed in a corner about subtile influences and utter intensity after by yourself. The first of them-a very common Mr. Du Maurier, why, then I promise you to for- one-is that we` ~sthetes" are sworn enemies feit five hundred pounds down without a mur- to colot There never was a greater mistake on mur for the benefit of the Royal Hospital for this earth. We revel in color; we perfectly roll Incurable Idiots. And I will use my first nomi- in it; we live in the midst of green, and blue, nation as a benefactor to insure that person's and scarlet, and purple. all our days. Nobody immediate admission within the walls of the in- who has once seen the interior of a really good stitution. modern ~sthetic house could ever afterward se If you turn from fancy to fact, the real thing riously commit such a ridiculous blunder as to that we have accomplished is this: we have ob- say that it was "dingy," or " gloomy," or " fadedtained the general recognition of culture as a dis- looking," as a thousand unthinking critics assert tinct aim in English life. Even those people who unhesitatingly every day. I think I can see the laugh at us most have really adopted our prin- origin of this absurd misconception: it arises ciples and imitated our practice. There is hardly from looking at things piecemeal, instead of taka middle-class house in England where our wall- ing them in their harmonious final combination. papers and our cretonnes have not penetrated. Young ladies and gentlemen, walking down OxThe mantel-pieces which used once to be 717;2269]covered ford Street, glance into the windows of a famous with blue and gold vases and ormolu clocks are red-brick shop near the lower end of Orchard