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There is something undefinable that separates the depiction of a suffering man from that of Christ, the depiction of a happy mother from the Madonna. I have not said - I could not say - that the primitives always give me this mysterious quality; sometimes they, like ourselves, are sensual and earthbound. But they always give at least the illusion of it. It is that when they copy their lady to depict Our Lady, they show her with that innocence, that simplicity, that virginity of the soul and of the eyes which underpins all religious sentiment. They don't feel themselves free, as Hegel did, to recreate the world to their taste. They would never think of saying, as did that bad painter Zucchero, attributing it to Raphael: We must paint nature not as it is, but as it ought to be. 

Such a statement, ladies and gentlemen, makes no sense to anyone other than the Platonists of the Renaissance. It is often said that the Renaissance divinised man and restored paganism. This is true, but its principal idol is the artist. The Renaissance introduced pride and subjectivity into an operation which the Primitive accomplished with the simplicity of an image appearing "in camera clara." 

Platonic idealism succeeded the positivism of Aristotle and the Scholastics. 

I beg your permission once again to have recourse to St. Thomas's Summa

We have no 'Aesthetics' dating from the Middle Ages. There is De Pulchro, attributed to St. Thomas, which is doubtless not by him, but which, like all his philosophy, derives its inspiration from Aristotle. Nonetheless, we have this definition by St. Thomas in the Summa: "the beautiful is that which pleases the eyes," and this other, no less categorical: that the beautiful is concerned with knowing Pulchrum respicit vim cognoscitivam. It is evident that all aesthetics are grounded upon a theory of knowledge, and that this theory is part of the Scholastic theory of external perception, which comes from Aristotle. I leave the details to you: it is enough to see the essence. According to Aristotle, sensation is the common work of the object of the sensation and of the subject which experiences it. External perception seizes the resistant action of its object, whether luminous or other, as wax receives the imprint of a seal, species impressa, the which implies, by means of an inevitable reaction, the activity of a thinking subject, species expressa. Thus a sole act unites the actor with that which is acted upon, requiring a certain presence of the object within the subject. While not implying doubt as to the existence of the external world, this theory goes so far as to assert the objectivity of colours and of sounds. A vibration in the air is a sound before it be perceived -  "White," St. Thomas says, "is white in potentiality before becoming so in act." Finally, I draw your attention to this other passage from St. Thomas: "The human intellect has as its proper object each particular being, that is to say, nature existing within corporeal matter. It is of the very essence of the nature we perceive that it exists in a particular being, it cannot exist outside corporeal matter. It is the nature of a stone to exist within a particular stone, of the nature of a horse to exist within a particular horse, as well as in all the others." 

This notion of the concrete and the individual in the thought and art of the Middle Ages is a matter of no small importance once we realise that, ever since the Renaissance, we have, by contrast, developed a taste for abstraction, for the general, the typical, and that for that naive passion for things seen, a generalised and entirely Platonic idealism has been substituted. We began by radically separating body from soul and by asking how a simple substance can act upon an extended substance and vice-versa; and we have concluded that nothing exists other than our own ideas. You don't believe that has influence upon aesthetics and art? Well then, you're wrong! There is no longer equality between subject and object, between the agent and the sentient, between nature and man. Man has become an artist, that is to say a sort of distorting prism which interposes between nature, if she exist, and himself, an ensemble, otherwise admirable, of judgements and aesthetic conventions. He is Homo additus naturae, while awaiting the 19th century German metaphysicians to become a seer, a priest, a superman, a demigod, and later, in the 20th century, a "pure brain," lacking all contact with external reality. 

And if, I might add in passing, we should search among the masterpieces born out of this law of the individual, which of the painters of the Renaissance painters continues to give us the highest degree of religious emotion, I am sure it is Rembrandt who will come to mind. He was not a mystic, nor was his art hieratic. He was, precisely, a painter who had, vis-à-vis nature, the most scrupulous, the most medieval innocence. Here there is no "beau ideal," no generalised types, but the direct emotion of an individual life, and, significantly, he made no more use of local colour than did Giotto. And he was also, like the Primitives, a great Christian poet.