To me the youthful Edna Waugh, whom, admittedly, I know only through photographs, was one of the raving beauties of the age. (The only woman artist who could hold a candle to her in looks was Suzanne Valadon, mother of another artist, Maurice Utrillo.) But that is only my opinion. To Michael Holroyd, Augustus John's biographer, she was merely "very pretty." I doubt that anyone could be found to call her ugly; but could anyone analyze what it was that made her beautiful? An 18th-Century English artist, William Hogarth, wrote a book called "The Analysis of Beauty." He thought beauty lay in "the serpentine line"--wiggles and curves. In other words, his book was simply propaganda for the prevailing rococo style. He was preaching what he practiced. A later artist, such as Jacques-Louis David, sternly neoclassical, would have deplored such a view. The consensus about Edna Clarke Hall's beauty is wide enough to suggest that some criteria of beauty must exist. But when you try to commit them to paper, they elude you. It is like trying to pick up quicksilver with the fingers, or taking iridescent tropical fish out of the aquarium and laying them on blotting paper for inspection. Should this impalpability of beauty worry the aesthete, the art critic and the art historian? No: it is what distinguishes them from scientists. The theories of the latter must be provable; those of the former will always be a matter of opinion. It is the difference between the numerate and the numinous. A scientist is discredited if his theories are disproved, as Georg Ernst Stahl's "phlogiston theory" was discredited by Antoine Lavoisier's "oxygen theory" of combustion. But if the aesthete's theories could be proved or disproved, he would become redundant--his occupation, like Othello's, gone. Vive imprecision! Vive back-biting and internecine warfare between art critics! If laws of beauty could ever be proven--perhaps even enforced --an "ugly" contest might become something more serious--and more sinister--than a student prank.