Professor Herron’s Impressionism -- By: Z. Swift Holbrook

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 052:207 (Jul 1895)
Article: Professor Herron’s Impressionism
Author: Z. Swift Holbrook


Professor Herron’s Impressionism

Z. Swift Holbrook

The nineteenth century bids fair to go out witnessing the fields of literature and art dominated by impressionism. Socialistic thought in its very nature loves glittering generalizations, and abhors details as nature does a vacuum. That socialism as a theory, and socialistic thought, has had its influence in literature, no one can deny who reflects upon the enormous sale of such a book as Bellamy’s “Looking Backward.” There is a growing tendency to impatience of details, to paint truths of impression rather than truths of fact, to aim at tone and effect without proper regard to exactness and truth. The motive is the desire to make a striking picture.

In art, this desire for effect ignores and even despises photographic accuracy, and rebounds “into the extreme of fleeting and shadowy impressionism.” (See Century Dictionary, “Impressionism.”) “It is the doctrine that natural objects should be painted or described as they first strike the eye in their immediate and momentary effects—that is, without selection, or artificial combination or elaboration.”

Professor George D. Herron has painted another impression piece,— for he can paint none other,—and the result is before us in the form of a tasty and modest appearing book entitled “The Christian State.”1 He is frank to admit that his book may have no more than an inspirational value, and this confession reveals the fact that he is aware of the limits of the practical utility of impressionism. There have been many and conflicting opinions of the real need and influence of such writings as Professor Herron’s. By many he has been hailed as a new apostle full of divine truth and inspiration and an impetus for the rapid development of Christ’s kingdom; while others have deemed him a destructionist,—

tearing down, with no effort to rebuild, and going through the Lord’s vineyard plucking its half-ripe fruit, and pounding it to make it ripe, while all it needed was but time and sunshine to develop and mature it, Of course it rots.

There need be no such conflicting opinions, however, of Professor Herron’s work. He is simply an artistic impressionist, an impatient idealist, and, as such, has an abundance of merit. He is poetical, striking, and oftentimes, even inspiring. He is emotional but never judicial; full of fancy but not of fact; theoretical but not practical. His sayings run easily and sometimes naturally into the hysterical, the fanatical, and even the crazy. They have the merit of possessing passion and fire, but are rhetorical and sensational.

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