2 December 2013

An Artist's Day

Philip Gilbert Hamerton, The Intellectual Life (London: Macmillan, 1887), pp. 336-337:
You cannot take a bit out of another man’s life and live it, without having lived the previous years that led up to it, without having also the assured hopes for the years that lie beyond. The attempt is constantly made by amateurs of all kinds, and by men of temporary purposes, and it always fails. The amateur says when he awakes on some fine summer morning, and draws up his blind, and looks out on the dewy fields: “Ah, the world of nature is beautiful to-day: what if I were to lead the life of an artist?” And after breakfast he seeks up his old box of watercolour and his block-book, and stool, and white umbrella, and what not, and sallies forth, and fixes himself on the edge of the forest or the banks of the amber stream. The day that he passes there looks like an artist’s day, yet it is not. It has not been preceded by the three or four thousand days which ought to have led up to it; it is not strong in the assured sense of present skill, in the calm knowledge that the hours will bear good fruit. So the chances are that there will be some hurry, and fretfulness, and impatience, under the shadow of that white parasol, and also that when the day is over there will be a disappointment. You cannot put an artist’s day into the life of any one but an artist. 
Gustave Caillebotte, Autoportrait au Chevalet (c. 1879)