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Physical Science for Artists.1

Nature volume 44, pages 175178 | Download Citation



I THINK it right that I should begin by explaining how it is that I am here to-day, to lecture to you on a subject which touches art as well as science. It happens in this wise. Some years ago, while studying a certain branch of optics, it became important for me to try to learn something of the exact sequence of colours at sunrise and sunset; and being, like you, busy all day in a large city, I thought it would not be a bad idea, and that it would save a little time, if I studied pictures representing these phenomena en attendant the happy holiday time that I should spend in the country. So I went to the Academy and other picture galleries, and endeavoured to get tip the information from pictures which I could not at that time get from Nature herself. I then had, as I have still, such an extreme respect for art and artists that I was perfectly prepared to take the pictures as representing truthfully what I wanted to see. The result, however, brought me face to face with a difficulty that I was not long in finding out. I was driven to the conclusion that artists could be divided into two distinct classes—those who studied Nature and Nature's laws, and gave us most exquisite renderings of this or that, and those who apparently considered themselves far superior to any such confining conditions as would be imposed by any law; and that, unfortunately, made me a little doubtful as to the results.

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