Positive Aesthetics: Is Everything in Nature Beautiful?

     
Henry James once wrote:

Mr. Homer . . . cares not a jot for such fantastic hairsplitting as the distinction between beauty and ugliness. . . .to see, and to reproduce what he sees, is his only care. . . . He not only has no imagination, but he contrives to elevate this rather blighting negative into a blooming and honorable postive. He is almost barbarously simple, and to our eye, he is horribly ugly. . . . He has chosen the least pictorial features of the least pictorial range of scenery and civilization; he has resolutely treated them as if they were pictorial, as if they were every inch as good as Capri or Tangiers; and to reward his audacity, he has incontestably succeeded.

Such painting is an example of positive aesthetics.


Winslow Homer, Morning Bell, 1866, Yale University Art Gallery