At the Stafford & Carfax Galleries.
In the afternoon I was troubled by Mr. Walter Sickert’s pictures at the Stafford Gallery. In the twilight, seeking light, I re-read a passage by John Stuart Mill, in which it is stated that every human action, including, of course, painting, has three aspects:– 1. The Moral, according to which we approve or disapprove; 2. The Æsthetic, according to which we admire or despise; 3. The Sympathetic, according to which we love, pity or dislike. Try as I would, Mr. Sickert’s paintings would not conform neatly to any of these aspects. I approve and disapprove of his pictures. I admire them. I dislike them. This confession plays havoc with Mill’s analysis of the aspects of human action, and may be compared to the fit of indigestion that a wild beast might experience from swallowing a hedgehog. Perhaps it would be better to leave the hedgehog severely alone, saving oneself the pain of the prickles, but also losing the enjoyment of such succulent parts as a hedgehog may possess. It would be easier to look at the hedgehog cursorily and to disapprove absolutely.