Fort Worth, Texas, Carnegie Public Library
( Originally Published 1915 )
THE state of Texas is to be congratulated that the Carnegie Library at Fort Worth has one of Gilbert Stuart's splendid portraits, with a perfectly authenticated history. This portrait is unique, too, in being that of a lady who was a pupil of Stuart. Miss Clementina Beach, the subject of the "Portrait" (Fig. 213), was one of those splendid women who helped mould the young women of our Republic. Miss Beach was born in Bristol, England, and came to America about 1800, when she was scarcely twenty-five years old. In conjunction with Mrs. Saunders, she opened a school f or young women in Dorchester, Mass. She was ambitious also to know some-thing of portrait painting, so between the years 1810 and 1815 she sat to Gilbert Stuart for this portrait, and afterward copied the picture, making it a standard for her own work. The original portrait went to a relative, Miss C. R. Smith of Lenni Mills, near Philadelphia, and later was inherited, together with the copy, by Mrs. Emmons Rolfe, Fort Worth. We look with satisfaction into the face of this fine woman, and are gratified that women of her stamp instilled fundamental truths into the girls of America a hundred years ago. That their works do follow them is evident in the steady, level-headed young women of to-day young women who are not carried off their feet by ists or isms, but who move steadily forward in their high calling, whatever that calling is, saying to all that success means, "To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."
"The Coming Storm" (Fig. 214), by George Inness, is another picture that is cause for just pride to the city of Fort Worth. To own an Inness is more of an honor each year, and to have one of his storm pictures is particularly gratifying. Inness was especially felicitous in representing the states of the weather, if such a prosaic term may be used for his poetic portrayal of nature's moods. He makes us feel the summer's heat—hot, drowsy, quiet, shimmery under the noonday sun, also the coming storm when the air is heavy with gathering moisture. The clouds heap themselves together in wild masses, literally driving out the sunshine as they hurl their thunderbolts across the valley. A glorious sight, that moving mass now shrouding the hilltop ! A hush is in the valley; not even the treetops feel the fury of the coming storm. The sunlight twinkles and glows on the gathering clouds, as though defying the onrush. A thrill of pleasure is ours in a scene like this, for often we have watched just such a storm gather. Inness never fails to bring to us a sense of nearness—as some-thing that warms our heart and makes us hap-pier. Usually it is summer that appeals to him, the time when the earth rejoices and nature is giving her fullest bounty.
The later artists, many of them, turn to win-ter for their inspiration. They are dealing with light, and never is light as fickle as when it plays about the snowdrifts and through the stripped trees. The "Sunlight in the Woods" (Fig. 215), as Gardner Symons shows it to us, is frankly coquettish as it slips in and out catching this bare trunk and that snow bank, this dark evergreen and that bubbling water tumbling over the rough stones. The wood and stream are full of the glee of laughing children playing hide and seek in the soft clean snow and hiding behind boulder and tree trunk. In imagination can you not see the children? and do you not feel the gladness and sparkle that the winter sun has brought to the wood and stream and barren trees, standing knee-deep in the snowdrifts? Mr. Symons has a certain American independence that is delightful. He is bound by no rule that does not harmonize with his own originality. His independence is controlled by clear-sighted good sense.
The Museum has a number of fine examples of the later men of the American landscape school, the men who are not only manipulating light, as the organist manipulates his instrument, but interpreting the various aspects of nature. Naturally there is a similarity of subject and treatment among these men, when they choose nature in her bleakest moods. The subjects of the two paintings, "December" (Fig. 216), by Leonard Ochtman, and "Manana Point" (Fig. 217), by Paul Dougherty, would have but little interest for us were it not for the individuality of the artists.
"December" is certainly a raw bleak month in this section, wherever it is, and the scene it-self is not one to hold us, but Mr. Ochtman commands us to halt. Now we begin to realize that here is beauty of the most enchanting kind. See how well balanced it is. Our eyes follow along the narrow pass between the low sloping hills and the broken line of trees, conscious that the sunbeam struggling to break through the clouds is calling us. We see its light reflected in the pool in the foreground and follow it on and on, realizing that we are under a spell. After all, is the scene bleak and drear?' Is it not rather one of hope?
These men have opened vistas in the realm of light of which we never before were conscious. We may not always agree with their methods, possibly because of ignorance, but they have set us to thinking. The lovely soft radiance that envelopes this winter scene speaks to our souls ; we are learning to love winter scenes when the brush of a genius shows them to us.
"Manana Point" is just as drear, with its wild waste of waters. With what rush and swirl they lash the sturdy rocks at the point, and then defeated pour back to gather force for the next attack. The foam and roar of the water is like some wild beast lashed into impotent rage. And see how wonderfully the light plays upon the seething mass, until the whole is a sea of glory! Mr. Dougherty undertook a daring deed when he thought to fashion that stupendous onrush in paint, but he was equal to the task. The vibrations of light quiver and palpitate under his brush-:strokes until the whole mass of water is ready to burst its bonds while we watch it; and then the sullen retreating mass glides back as though ashamed. The power in that tumult is tremendous—the spirit of the great deep is there.