The study of the living figure should accompany, but not precede that of the antique ; they should be each studied with a reference to the other. The Medical Student does not commence dissecting without books of reference, nor, if he studies these alone, will he ever become a practical surgeon. The antique statues are our books of reference and the living model the subject of experimental study. From natural causes mentioned in the chapter on proportion, no standard of Form will probably ever surpass or even rival that of Ancient Greece. Our first studies should be therefore those works of art in which inherent and essential form has not only been purged of that which is accidental, but also crowned upon by that which is ideal. Our studies from life will be of little use if we do not learn to gather and combine from them the perfections of each, and so unite in one the beauties which we still find scattered in temples wrecked by sin and disease.
The preliminary study of the Antique is recommended, not because it is the easiest, far from it, but in order that our taste may be formed and our knowledge in some degree matured before we search ourselves for those beauties which, without this study, we shall find with difficulty in the evanescent expressions and changeful features of life. The unheroic figures of Albert Durer have been instanced as what the accurate study of nature could effect without the assistance of an ideal standard ; for fashion, habits, disease and accident so mar the human frame, that perfect form is nowhere to be found.
Having however our minds imbued with forms, the fruit of the life-long study of the greatest men, we shall reap infinite benefit from an accurate study of nature. And here our pursuit in some degree changes. From the contemplation of ideal form we come to the investigation of nature, its machinery, its character, and its expressions; subsequently to unite the two and form of them a standard for ourselves. But our business now is to study nature as we find it, not as we imagine it ought to be ; and so, by a knowledge of its defects and varieties, we shall become familiar with character, and avoid the mining insipidity which is the inevitable fate of generalized drawings from life. " The pursuit of idealism in humanity as of idealism in lower nature, can be successful only when followed through the most constant, patient and humble rendering of actual models, accompanied with that earnest mental as well as occular study of each which can interpret all that is written upon it ; * * everything done without such study must be shallow and contemptible, and generalization or combination of individual character will end less in the mending than the losing of it, and, except in certain instances, is valueless and vapid." (“The slovenly, authoritative and uninformed manner” -"Modern Painters.") in which