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Potent Quotables

George Dennis, however, though he too does not find much ‘art’ in Etruscan things, says of the Volterran ash-chests: ‘The touches of Nature on these Etruscan urns, so simply but eloquently expressed, must appeal to the sympathies of all—they are chords to which every heart must respond; and I envy not the man who can walk through this museum unmoved, without feeling a tear rise in his eye’

And recognizing ever and anon
The breeze of Nature stirring in his soul.

The breeze of Nature no longer shakes dewdrops from our eyes, at least so readily, but Dennis is more alive than Ducati to that which is alive. What men mean nowadays by ‘art’ it would be hard to say. Even Dennis said that the Etruscans never approached the pure, the sublime, the perfect beauty which Flaxman reached. Today, this makes us laugh: the Greekified illustrator of Pope’s Homer! But the same instinct lies at the back of our idea of ‘art’ still. Art is still to us something which has been well cooked—like a plate of spaghetti. An ear of wheat is not yet ‘art’. Wait, wait till it has been turned into pure, into perfect macaroni.

D. H. Lawrence, Etruscan Places