Delacroix wanted in his work to “prolong the sensation” – “The arts are not algebra, where abbreviation of the figures contributes to the success of the problem. To be successful in the arts is not a matter of summarizing but of amplifying where it is possible, and of prolonging the sensation by every means”. [Journal, October 20, 1853] But what sensation are you prolonging, you might well ask? What sight is is not obvious. It consists of many more perceptual aspects than we typically acknowledge.
In fact, I believe we tend to understand vision more in terms of concepts than by sensation. The average man sees the thing. That’s what he’s aware of – not the appearance of the thing. Artists are more attuned to the appearance, but artists too understand vision categorically. Technique breaks perception down into different sorts of concepts – line, tone, color, form, texture, size, scale, proportion…. And the sensation is something else altogether.
“…le succès dans les arts n’est point d’abréger, mais d’amplifier, s’il se peut, de prolonger la sensation, et par tous les moyens.”