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But this thing can not always last–I look for the time when we shall set apart the best and noblest men and women of earth for teachers, and their compensation will be so adequate that they will be free to give themselves for the benefit of the race, without apprehension of a yawning almshouse. A liberal policy will be for our own good, just as a matter of cold expediency; it will be Enlightened Self-interest.

With the rise of the Bellinis, Venetian art ceased to be provincial, blossoming out into national. Jacopo Bellini was a teacher–mild, gentle, sympathetic, animated. His work reveals personality, but is somewhat stiff and statuesque: sharp in outline like an antique stained-glass window. This is because his art was descended from the glassworkers; and he himself continued to make designs for the glassworkers of Murano all his life. Considering the time in which he lived he was a great painter, for he improved upon what had gone before and prepared the way for those greater than he who were yet to come. He called himself an experimenter, and around him clustered a goodly group of young men who were treated by him more as comrades than as students. They were all boys together–learners, with the added dignity which an older head of the right sort can lend.

“Old Jacopo” they used to call him, and there was a touch of affection in the term to which several of them have testified. All of the pupils loved the old man, who wasn’t so very old in years, and certainly was not in heart. Among his pupils were his two sons, Gentile and Gian, and they called him Old Jacopo, too. I rather like this–it proves for one thing that the boys were not afraid of their father. They surely did not run and hide when they heard him coming, neither did they find it necessary to tell lies in order to defend themselves. A severe parent is sure to have untruthful children, and perhaps the best recipe for having noble children is to be a noble parent.

It is well to be a companion to your children, and just where the idea came in which developed into the English boarding-school delusion, that children should be sent away among hirelings– separated from their parents–in order to be educated, I do not know. It surely was not complimentary to the parents. Old Jacopo didn’t try very hard to discipline his boys–he loved them, which is better if you are forced to make choice. They worked together and grew together. Before Gian and Gentile were eighteen they could paint as well as their father. When they were twenty they excelled him, and no one was more elated over it than Old Jacopo. They were doing things he could never do: overcoming obstacles he could not overcome–he clapped his hands in gladness, did this old teacher, and shed tears of joy–his pupils were surpassing him! Gian and Gentile would not admit this, but still they kept right on, each vieing with the other. Vasari says that Gian was the better artist, but Aldus refers to Gentile as “the undisputed master of painting in all Venetia.” Ruskin compromises by explaining that Gentile had the broader and deeper nature, but that Gian was more feminine, more poetic, nearer lyric, possessing a delicacy and insight that his brother never acquired. These qualities better fitted him for a teacher; and when Old Jacopo passed away, Gian drifted into his place, for every man is gravitating straight to where he belongs.

The little workshop of one room now was enlarged: the bottega became an atelier. There were groups of workrooms and studios, and a small gallery that became the meeting-place for various literary and artistic visitors at Venice. Ludovico Ariosto, greatest of Italian poets, came here and wrote a sonnet to “Gian Bellini, sublime artist, performer of great things, but best of all the loving Teacher of Men.”