The Art Of The Eighteenth Century - Continued
( Originally Published 1899 )
SCULPTORS AND ARCHITECTS
FRANCE has never struck a more purely personal note in Art since the Middle Ages than that of the eighteenth century. And although, as I have said, the most complete artistic expression of the period is to be found in painting, the sculptors of the eighteenth century were more absolutely French than they had been for three hundred years. For with the end of the Grand Siècle, in Sculpture as well as in painting, a new ideal appears, charming and original. This new tendency in Sculpture had begun even under the rigid officialism of the reign of Louis XIV. Once more Sculpture had led the way to a purely national art. Girardon suggests it. Coysevox develops it. With the Coustous, Robert Le Lorrain, J. B. Lemoyne, it waxes strong. Till with their pupils, with such artists as Bouchardon, Pigalle, Pajou, Clodion, Houdon, it reaches its full expression. Statuary has shaken itself free from pedantry. It becomes instinct with life, with movement, with that special grace that is the hall-mark of the eighteenth century Art. If religious sculpture remains feeble and conventional, it is because religious life has lost its fervour. Humanity is what is occupying the minds of men in the eighteenth century ; and portrait sculpture redeems the weakness of religious sculpture. It is par excellence the age of portrait busts ; and these show qualities of rare merit. " Flesh quivers in marble and " bronze ; technique assumes an infinite ` brio ' ; the rendering " of the epidermis, that ultimate object of the sculptor's " attainment, that authentic signature of the great masters, " whether they are called Phidias, Praxiteles, Beauneveu, " Sluter, Donatello, Colombe, Michael-Angelo, Goujean, " Coysevox or Pujet, becomes current coin of the trade."'
In Architecture the same tendencies, though in a less degree, are observed. Architecture for a time loses the severity, the pomposity of the seventeenth century. It becomes humanized, intimate, familiar, livable. The façades take elegant curves. They are decorated with rounded balconies of rich, bulging iron work. The storeys are lower. The gentle ascent of the staircase seems to welcome the visitor in powder and satin, who arrives in a vinaigrette or a Sedan chair.
Much was done during the eighteenth century towards the embellishment of Paris. The Bourg du Roule became one of the Faubourgs in 1722, adding a large and important district to the city ; and the Avenues d'Antin and de Marigny were opened in the Champs Elysées. Under Louis XIV. the northern Boulevards had been planted. Under Louis XV. the southern were planted, and finished in 1761; and those between the Invalides, the École Militaire and Vaugirard were traced out and planted. In 1770 the Champs Elysées were entirely replanted ; and the splendid avenue was prolonged to the famous Pont de Neuilly, which Perronnet completed in 1772, to replace the old wooden bridge ruined by ice.
Under Louis XVI. the architect Goudoin built the École de Médecine ; Peyre and de Wailly, the Odéon ; Desmaisons, part of the Palais de Justice ; Le Noir, the Théâtre de la Porte St. Martin ; Louis, the Galleries of the Palais Royal, and the Théâtre Français. The Palace of the Elysée is one of the most important buildings of the epoque. Begun in 1718 for the Comte d'Evreux, it was enlarged by Mme. de Pompadour and her brother, the Marquis de Marigny ; then again by the financier Beaujon ; and took its final form under the ownership of the Duchesse de Bourbon-Condé, who gave it her name, " Elysée Bourbon ". A good example of domestic architecture of the end of the reign of Louis XV. and beginning of Louis XVI., is the Petit Trianon at Versailles. This was built by Gabriel in 1768. And six or seven years later Marie Antoinette added the charming Jardin Anglais about it, under the influence of the universal Anglomania of the day.
But with the latter part of the century a fresh influence made itself felt. The discovery of the Greek Temples of Paestum was destined to produce an immense effect on French Architecture. They created intense enthusiasm among French architects. M. Lagardette had measured these buildings, and published his measurements and drawings in a folio volume. And for a time the Order of Paestum columns was used with wild prodigality on buildings of all sorts. The Lycée Bonaparte was built under this influence in 1780 by Brongniard. The Classic tendencies that were to reign supreme during the Empire, were already beginning to make themselves felt. But this important and interesting subject belongs to another chapter.
GABRIEL, JACQUES ANGE (b. 1698 ; d. 1782).—Why, except that he was son of Jacques-Jules Gabriel, and great-nephew of J. Hardouin Mansart, Gabriel should have been made a member of the Academy when barely thirty, is not known. At thirty he was appointed Controller of the Buildings at Fontainebleau. In 1742 he was made Architecte du roi ; and later in the same year, on the death of his father, premier Architecte to Louis XV. Before his father's death he had taken over the building of the front and towers of the Cathedral of Orleans. And in 1745 he became Inspecteur-général des Batiments, and furnished plans for the restoration of Rheims ; for carrying on the Palais des États, Dijon, which he eventually built between 1775 and 1784 ; and for the École Militaire, Paris. In 1752 he made the plans for the Place Louis XV., which was inaugurated in 1763. But the Colonnades and the rue Royale were not finished till 1772. Between 1753 and 1774 he rebuilt the central Pavilion of the Cour d'Honneur at Versailles, now known as " l'Aile Gabriel ". And also built the Theatre. It was inaugurated in 1770, and was considered at the end of the eighteenth century as one of the most sumptuous in Europe, with its sculptures by Pajou and Guibert, and its exquisite decorations. Having been much altered by Louis Philippe, it now belongs to the Senate, and is not open to the public.
In 1755 M. de Marigny confided to Gabriel a work of the utmost importance—the restoration of the Louvre. Perrault's wing had never been roofed in, and was becoming absolutely ruinate. Gabriel began by restoring Perrault's Colonnade ; and then undertook the reconstruction of the opposite façade, looking on the court. This was in so perilous a condition that it was necessary actually to rebuild it ; which was done carefully. And Gabriel then proceeded to unite the façade upon the river with the western wing upon the court, destroying what remained of Le Vau's work. He then added the sculptures to the greater part of Perrault's building. These form the ornamentation, so worthy of admiration, which now exists. About the same time, he rebuilt the Chapel of Compiègne. And in 1759 he decorated the, great anti-chambre du roi at Fontainebleau after his own designs. Besides these works, he finished the Palais Bourbon ; added to the Grand Chateau de Choisy, and built the small one.
SOUFFLOT, JACQUES-GERMAIN (b. Trancy, Yonne, 1709 ; cl. Paris, 1780).—This celebrated architect began his studies at Lyons. He then went to Rome, where, through the interest of Saint-Aignan, then Ambassador, he was appointed Pensionnaire du roi.' After three years in Rome, Soufflot went to Asia Minor. And in 1737 returned to Lyons to superintend the building of the Church of the Chartreux, for which he had already sent plans from Italy. He also built the new buildings of the Hotel Dieu, enlarged the Loge de Change, restored the Archevêché in Lyons ; and in 1747 received 500 livres for the levelling of the Rhone from Saint-Clair to Ainay. In 1749 he was admitted to the Academy of Architecture, and the following year accompanied M. de Marigny to Rome. But he was obliged by his health to return to France, and halted again at Lyons, where he furnished plans for the old Grand Théatre and for a Concert Hall.
Soufflot took part in the open competition in 1752 for the Place Louis XV., which was gained by Gabriel. And two years later was entrusted with the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Rennes. In the same year his plans for the Lyons theatre being accepted, he was given a salary of 6000 livres and travelling expenses. The theatre, which was finished in 1756, was rebuilt in 1828. In 1755 he prepared plans for the Hotel de Ville at Bordeaux ; was made con-troller of the works at Marly ; and, a little later, of the Monuments de Paris. In the following year he furnished plans for the Ecole de Droit, though the work was not begun till 1771, and for the Trésor and Grande Sacristie of Notre Dame. In 1757 he was created Chevalier of the Order of Saint Michel, and prepared the plans for Sainte-Geneviève (the Pantheon). The first stone of this great church was laid in 1764, Soufflot carrying on the works as far as the beginning of the Dome.
Few parts of France are untouched by the popular architect's hand. He superintended the building of the Cathedral of Rennes in 1760, for which he had given the plans six years before ; and in 1770 was called to Sens to decide with Coustou upon the place for the Dauphin's tomb : finishing the Hotel Dieu at Macon in the same year. In 1771 he had the temerity to "improve" the principal door of Notre Dame, repairing it and removing the central pillar ! This, happily, has since been restored under the vigilance of M. Viollet-le-Duc. Lyons was the chief provincial centre of his work ; and in 1772 he was made controller-general of the embellishment of the city, "en récompense de ses travaux à l'Hotel de Ville, " à l'hôpital général, à la loge de change, et à la salle de " spectacle, et pour son désintéressement ". Again, the following year, he was summoned to Lyons to direct the works on the place Royale, and granted leave of absence for this purpose. On the suppression of the appointments of controleurs-général, he was made "intendant-général des batiments du roi," and lodged at first in the rue de Champfleury ; afterwards obtaining a house in the enclos de l'Orangerie at the Louvre, where he died in 1780.
Among his many works were :
The Guichet de Marigny in the Grande Galerie du Louvre (now destroyed).
Twenty pavilions of the Pont Neuf (also destroyed).
Hotel Lauzun, au Roule.
Some works at the Louvre.
Chateau de Chatou for Bertin.
The Orangerie, Chateau de St. Ménan.
The Church of the Visitation, Le Mans.
Parts rebuilt of the Abbey of St. Germain d'Auxerre.
He also wrote two books : ,1 Plans and cuts of the three Temples at Poestum, 1750 ; 2, OEuvres ou recueils de plusieurs parties d'architecture, 1767.
COUTURE, GUILLAUME MARTIN (b. Rouen, 1732 ; d. 1799), —after completing his education in Italy came to Paris, and there built the Hotels de Saxe and de Coislin. In 1773 he was admitted to the Academy of Architecture. And two years later built the Jubé of the Cathedral of Rouen upon designs of Le Carpentier, who had just died. In 1776 he, with Moreau and Antoine, undertook the rebuilding of the portions of the Palais. de Justice in Paris, which had been burned down. But he was replaced by Desmaisons. In 1777, having succeeded Constant d'Ivry as architect of the Madeleine, he modified the original plans, adding two bays, as he did not consider the nave of sufficient length. The works, however, were interrupted by the Revolution, and the Madeleine as we now know it was not completed until 1842, by Huvé, who was appointed in 1828, Pierre Vignon having carried on the works during the first Empire. Couture built the great Barracks ,at Caen, which were not finished until 1835. He was made premier Architecte du roi and Grand Cordon of Saint Michel. And died in 1799.
DESMAISONS, PIERRE,—was admitted to the Academy and appointed Architecte du roi in 1762. In 1770-72 he furnished plans for the double staircase of the Archevêché. Assistant to Couture in rebuilding the burnt parts of the Palais de Justice, upon his retirement Desmaisons with Moreau, finished the Cour de Mai ; and he continued architect of the Palais de Justice until 1791.
WAILLY, CHARLES DE (b. 1729 ; d. 1798),-a pupil of Blondel, and later of Servandoni, gained the Grand Prix d'Architecture in 1752, and two years later his brevêt as " elève de Rome ". He, however, obtained leave to divide this privilege with his friend Moreau, who had only gained the second prize after four attempts. In Italy de Wailly was made member of the Institute of Bologna. And on his return to France he was admitted in 1767 to the first class of the Academy of Architecture without the usual preliminaries of passing through the second class. In 1771 he was admitted to the Academy of Painting upon the same favour-able terms. And next year was appointed architect of the Palace of Fontainebleau in conjunction with Peyre, who was henceforth associated with him in many of his best known works. In 1773 de Wailly obtained a prolonged leave of absence, in order to complete the decoration of the Hotel Spinola at Genoa. And he returned to Italy afterwards for other works. In 1779 he and Peyre built the Theatre of the Odéon, one of their best known works.. And de Wailly later on built the Hotel de Voyer, rue des Bons Enfants, which became the Chancellerie du duc d'Orléans, etc. Among his other works, he modified the plans of the Opéra Comique, then the Italian Opera House—finished the Chapel of the Virgin, St. Sulpice—and built a chapel at Versailles, which is now a Protestant church. Such was his popularity that Catherine of Russia, ever on the lookout for fresh talent, offered him the Presidency of the Academy of Architecture in St. Petersburg, with a large income. But he refused to expatriate himself. After the conquests of Holland and Belgium, he was sent to those countries to chose works of Art for the French museums. And on the creation of the Institute he became one of its original members.
PEYRE, MARIE JOSEPH (b. 1730),-gained the Grand Prix de Rome in 1751, the year before de Wailly. In 1769 he entered the Academy. In 1772 was appointed architect of Fontainebleau with de Wailly. And in 1779, again in association with de Wailly, he furnished fresh plans for the Odéon, began by his brother-in-law Moreau, which was finished in 1782.
MOREAU-DESPROUX, LOUIS PIERRE (d. 1793).-For four years Moreau gained the second and third prizes at the Academy. And it was not until 1754 that he obtained the brevêt of " Eléve de Rome," thanks to his friend de Wailly (see ante). In 1762 he was admitted to the Academy, and made director of buildings to the Ville de Paris. In the same year he began the façade of the Palais Royal, looking upon the Cour d'Honneur and the rue St. Honoré. And also began the rebuilding of the Opera House at the corner of the rue de Valois, which was burnt down in 1781 after a representation of Orphée.
In 1772 Moreau was ordered to continue work on the front of St. Eustache, which had been begun by Mansart de Jouy. And upon this he worked until 1788, when the works were stopped afresh, and the front left as it remains to-day. The triangular fronton which exists, was added by Moreau. Appointed Architecte du roi in 1783, he perished on the guillotine ten years later.
NICHOLAS COUSTOU (1658-1732) ; GUILLAUME COUSTOU (1677-1746),-nephews and pupils of Coysevox, came from Lyons, where their father had married Coysevox's sister. From 1700 Nicholas was his uncle's most active collaborator. To the . two brothers are due the delicious allegoric marble of the Passage du Rhin, in the vestibule of the Chapel at Versailles. It was begun, under Louis XV., by Nicholas, and finished after his death by his brother. Coysevox had intended that the brothers should render his magnificent " stuc " in the Salon de la Guerre in marble.' But funds ran short, and the whole scheme was never carried out.
Two of Nicholas Coustou's best works are at Lyons—the bronze figures of the Saone and the Rhone. He also is the artist of the splendid " Jules César " in the Louvre, and the statue of Louis XV. as a Roman.
Guillaume, the younger brother, is the most famous. For to him we owe the charming " Marie Leczinska " with a peacock, while an amour offers her the Crown (Louvre, 543). The " Adonis resting from the chase " (547). The decoration of the portail d'honneur des Invalides. The Tomb of Cardinal Dubois in the Church of St. Roch. The Tomb of the Dauphin in the Cathedral of Sens. And lastly, the famous " Chevaux de Marly," now on the Place de la Concorde, at the entrance to the Ave. des Champs Elsyées.
LE LORRAIN, ROBERT (b. 1666, d. 1743), was pupil of Girardon, and master of Pigalle. Girardon looked on him as his right hand. He employed him first on figures for the tomb of Richelieu. Le Lorrain won the prize of the Academy, and went to Rome as Pensionnaire du Roi : but on account of fever he was obliged to return immediately to France. He entered the Academy in 1701, becoming Professor in 1717, and Rector in 1737. He was much occupied at Versailles and Marly. He exhibited groups in several Salons from 1704 to 1737. The Prince de Rohan-Soubise employed him on the Évêché de Strasbourg—the palais de Saverne—and on his vast hotel (now the Archives Nationales), where most of his sculptures happily remain—Force, Wisdom, Hercules, Pallas, and the Four Seasons. But his chef d'oeuvre is on the Hotel de Rohan (now the Imprimerie Nat.). This is his famous group in high relief of " Les chevaux du Soleil à l'Abreuvoir ". It is a work of extraordinary verve and vigour, quite outside the classic lines, as indeed was all Le Lorrain's work. He shows a completely novel sentiment, with " the most free, most " spirited, most living execution ".
MICHEL-ANGE SLODTZ (b. 1705 ; d. 1764),-the most famous of the numerous family of Slodtz, was the pupil of Girardon, and the master of Houdon. He spent fourteen years in Rome, returning to Paris in 1747. His St. Bruno in St. Peter's is considered one of the best modern statues in Rome. But his chef d'oeuvre is the tomb in marble and bronze of the Abbé Languet (Diderot's bête noire), at St. Sulpice in Paris. Speaking of the central figure, Diderot says, " I know of no " sinner who would not be inspired by it with some belief in " divine mercy ! " Slodtz was much absorbed by his functions as designer to the King of decorations for public rejoicings and for " pompes funèbres," which left him little time for sculpture. Among his works are a bas relief in bronze for the altar of one of the side chapels at Versailles, and the fine " Hannibal " in the Garden of the Tuileries.
LEMOYNE, JEAN BAPTISTE (b. 1704 ; d. 1778). — Lemoyne, grandson of Monnoyer the flower painter, and the talented pupil of Le Lorrain, was the heir of the manner of the Coustous. And though somewhat affected, he had a real sentiment for nature, which is specially seen in his busts. His faults were the faults of an excessive imagination. But these, when face to face with the portrait, disappear.
Lemoyne was the master of Pigalle, one of the Caffieri, Pajou, Falconet, etc. His two most important works were the Tomb of Louis XV. in the École Militaire. And the Tomb of Mignard, with his beautiful daughter, Mme. de Feuquières, kneeling before her father's bust (by Desjardins). This was in the Church of the Jacobins. Its débris are now in St. Roch, where the lively Mme. de Feuquières has become a Magdalen at the foot of the cross, in the Chapel of Calvary. There is also an important Baptism of Christ by Lemoyne in St. Roch. A beautiful balcony, rue des Saints Pères. Busts of Comte de St. Florentin, duc de la Veillière, Versailles, 1908 ; Fontenelle, one of his best works, Versailles, 850 ; Mlle. Clairon, 1761, Theatre Français ; Crébillon, Musée de Dijon.
BOUCHARDON, EDME (b. 1698, Chaumont en Bassigny ;
d. 1762).—If the works of Lemoyne and Slodtz were too exuberant, what they lacked was found in excess in Bourchardon. He possessed that correctness, balance, and distinction which please the semi-cultivated public. No one of his time was more admired, more acclaimed. " He has known," said Mariette, " how to unite the grace of Corregio with the " purity of the antique." " He is the Phidias of France," cried Voltaire. A learned and cultivated man, a fervent disciple of the Ancients, he was a consummate draftsman, knowing every secret of his trade. But Coustou's teaching enabled him to be something more than a mere imitator of the Classics.
His most important work is undoubtedly the great Fountain in the rue de Grenelle. The well-known bas relief on it of Winter, with delightful naked babies and a dog warming themselves before a fire of sticks, is a charming work. His " Love carving a bow from Hercules club " is another of his most popular works. But the head and wings make the figure appear top - heavy (Louvre, 508). The model in bronze of the equestrian statue of Louis XV. for the Place Louis XV., on a pedestal ornamented with bas reliefs, has been replaced in its original position, Cabinet du Roi, Versailles. There is also a bas relief, bronze, date 1747, side chapel, Versailles.
PIGALLE, JEAN BAPTISTE (b. 1714 ; d. 1785).-It has been cleverly said that " Bouchardon was only a talent ; " Pigalle is a temperament, and one of the most lively, one of " the most brilliant of the eighteenth century. As an actual " practitioner in marble, no one could teach him anything ; " he is, like Houdon, a sculptor of the epidermis, a virtuoso " of the chisel." 1 His vigorous, fertile imagination gives all his works a certain accent of life and originality. He has many defects ; when he makes a mistake it is often a big one. But his qualities are those which make the masters—the true artists—the " lumineux," as Fromentin calls them.
Pigalle was the seventh son of a humble joiner in Paris. Robert le Lorrain, who was a neighbour, took the child at eight years of age into his studio ; where he made the acquaintance of Lemoyne, whose teaching completed what Le Lorrain had begun. And his natural instincts for life and movement were fostered by two such vigorous masters. About twenty he became a student at the Academy. But he failed to obtain the Prix de Rome, from a certain want of faith in his own talent. Some friends however enabled him to go to Rome. And there he was fortunate in obtaining the friendship and protection of the son of G. Coustou, himself a successful artist, who secured him several orders in Italy.
On his return to Paris he set to work on his " Mercure attachant ses talonnières ". When Lemoyne saw it he cried, " Would that I had done it ! " It is indeed a delightful thing. And one is not surprised that on the mere sight of the model, Pigalle was elected to the Academy. The small marble (Louvre, 720) was his diploma work in 1744, when he was received with enthusiasm. Louis XV. was so enchanted with the Mercury, that he ordered Pigalle to reproduce it in marble on a seven-foot scale, and to make a pendant to it. This was the " Venus giving orders to Mercury ". The plaster model was in the Salon of 1747. The King had small reproductions made of both in Biscuit de Sèvres ; and sent the marble statues as a present to his ally, Frederick II. They are now both at Potsdam.
Among Pigalle's other celebrated works is the extraordinary " Voltaire nu," now at the entrance of the Library of the Institute. It seems to have been a caprice, possibly a wager. The naked figure sits on a rock, pencil in hand, with eyes uplifted in inspiration. Another important work is the monument of Louis XV. at Rheims, still in the centre of the Place Royale. The original statue of the King was melted down at the Revolution. But the most interesting part of the monument, the two great bronze statues of "France" and " Commerce" on the pedestal, were happily pre-served. The latter, with his Mercury, is Pigalle's finest nude —a magnificent countryman, sitting, gravely contemplative, on a sack of corn, while the wolf and the lamb lie down together at his feet. The Tomb also of the " Maréchal de Saxe " in Strasbourg Cathedral is an important work. Though the accessories may be too exuberant, the dignity of the fine statue of the Maréchal, stepping calmly down into the tomb, redeems all.
The Louvre contains the pretty and well-known group of "L'amour et l'Amitié " (780). The latter supposed to be a portrait of Mme. de Pompadour.
Mércure attachant ses talonnières, small marble. 720.
Mércure, large statue in Plomb ; a repetition for the King of the Potsdam statue, and even finer. 782.
L'Enfant à la Cage.
Bronze bust, G. M. Guèrin, Surgeon-Major. 785.
Marble bust, Maréchal de Saxe. 783.
Terrecuite reproduction L'amour et l'amitié, Cabinets du roi, Versailles. 3757.
Louis XV. as Roman Emperor, reduction in terre-cuite of statue for Belleville (destroyed),Versailles. 2208.
Voltaire nu, Bibliothèque de l'Institut.
Tomb of the Harcourts, Nôtre Dame.
Narcisse, Chateau de Sagan, Courlande.
Jeune fille à repine, Musée Condé.
Le Nègre Paul, Musée d'Orléans.
THE CAFFIERI.—Philippe I., the head of this distinguished and extremely interesting family of artists, came to France in the time of Louis XIV. He was employed on the deco-rations of Versailles. He did much of the carved and gilt woodwork in the King's appartements, metal capitals for the Grande Galerie and Cabinet des Bains, frames for pictures, furniture, etc.
JACQUES CAFFIERI (b. 1678 ; d. 1755),-his third son was " fondeur et ciseleur du roi ". He is the artist to whom is due the famous gilt bronze case of Passement's celebrated clock, in the Salon de l'Horloge, Versailles ; the fine bronzes of Zephyr and Flora on the mantelpiece in the chambre à coucher du Dauphin are his. And so is the marvellous toilet table, "la reine des commodes à ventre rebondies," of the Wallace Collection. He was the father of Philippe II. and of Jean Jacques.
PHILIPPE II. (b. 1714 ; d. 1774) was an artist of rare merit. He made the great gilt bronze Cross and six Candlesticks for the High Altar of Notre Dame, to replace the exquisite silver garniture of Claude Ballin which was sent to the mint in 1760. The Seven Years' War had so completely exhausted the Royal treasury that the King had to appeal to the Churches for assistance. This was the worst blow that ecclesiastical art treasures sustained. The Revolution only finished the work of destruction the Monarchy had begun. Nothing of this set of gilt bronze now remains. Happily the set Caffieri made for the Cathedral of Bayeux is still intact. He also worked on the decorative bronzes of Versailles.
JEAN JACQUES (b. 1725 ; d. 1792), his younger brother, was " a man and a master ". He is the last and most illustrious of the numerous family, and is too often con-fused with his brother, the ciseleur-doreur. His life was one of extraordinary success. Though he spent five years in Rome, it in no way modified his great, and original talent. In 1759 he was received at the Academy upon the delicious little " Fleuve " of the Louvre. His busts, however, are the most important and personal part of his work. These were mostly in terra-cotta or plaster. He only worked to order in marble, and charged a high price, 3000 francs. For these superb marble busts, his chief patron was the Comédie Française. In the Foyer a magnificent series is to be seen, of the deepest interest to historian and artist alike. Caffieri died in 1792 in the same house in which he was born, rue des Canettes.
Fleuve, small, 1759, Louvre. 518.
Portrait d'homme, painted terra-cotta, Louvre. 520.
Statues Corneille, and Molière, Institut.
Pingré, terra-cotta, Bibliothèque St. Geneviève.
Busts, Rameau, plaster. Du Peirsac, terra-cotta, Bibliothèque de l'Institut.
Busts, marble, at the Comédie Française.
Buirette de Belloy. Piron. P. Corneille, 1777. La Chaussée, 1785. J. B. Rousseau, 1787. Rotrou, a strange and magnificent work of art.
PAJOU, " CITOYEN DE PARIS " (b. 1730 ; d. 1809).-Pajou incarnates in marble the taste and grace of his time, as did Boucher and Fragonard on canvas. He was a pupil of Lemoyne. At eighteen he gained the Prix de Rome ; and twelve years later he became an Academician. His antique is antique after the fashion of Chénier. His grace is the grace of Clodion, his son-in-law. His best period is about 1770. To that belong what I must consider his two chefs d'oeuvres—the enchanting bust of Mme. du Barry in the Louvre ; and the bust of Marie Antoinette in the Salon des Cabinets de la Reine, Versailles. " Toute jeune " encore, mais devenue déjà la ` petite reine ' qui fait l'orgueil " et l'inquiétude de Marie-Thérèse, Pajou a fixé sa grâce en " ce buste frais et nerveux, digne pendant du marbre de Le-" moyne qui est au Musée de Vienne."
Pajou's " Psyché " (Louvre, 776) is probably his most popular work. It is indeed the most completely eighteenth century Pysché one can imagine, without a touch of Greek feeling about it. As M. André Michel well says : " The flowing " curls of her hair seem waiting for a cap of the national " colours, . . . the opulent softness of her bosom from which " before she stabs herself she has cast off the great soft gauze " veil—the very nuance of her sorrow—all is deliciously in " sympathy with the style, the taste, the ideas of the "age"
Examples in the Louvre :
Queen Marie Leczinska as Charity, ordered after the Queen's death, Salon, 1769. 777.
Pluto and Cerberus, small, diploma for Academy. 771. Psyché, 1790. 776.
Bacchante, 1774. 774.
Busts, M. Labile. 775. Mme. du Barry. 773. De Buffon. 772.
Carlin Bertinazzi, terra-cotta, Comédie Française., Versailles :
High reliefs, Foyer of Theatre.
Sculptures, theatre, now Salle du Senat.
Turenne, statue, marble. 2836.
De Buffon, statuette, bronze. 2155.
Louis XVI., bust, in armour, 1779, Petit Trianon. 2212.
Marie Antoinette, bust, marble, Salon des Cabinets de la Reine. 2213. The clay model of this is at Sèvres.
CLODION. CLAUDE MICHEL, dit CLODION (b. Nancy, 1738 ; d. Paris, 1814),—tenth child of Claude Michel and Anne Adam, learnt the first elements of sculpture from his uncle, Lambert-Sigisbert-Adam, who had become famous by the central group of the Bassin de Neptune at Versailles. On his uncle's death in 1759, Clodion entered Pigalle's studio; and shortly obtained the Grand Prix. But being obliged by the rules to spend a certain period in the École des Élèves protégés, founded by M. de Marigny, he only reached Rome in 1762. His natural instincts led him to the production of charming little models, which delighted his fellow pupils. But, in truth, he cared little for the great masters of the past.
His success was rapid. M. M. Julienne and La Live de Jully, who greatly admired his works, set the fashion for them ; and between 1767 and 1771 he had already sold much. Indeed it is probable that the easy life and facile success which Italy brought him would have kept him there in-definitely, had not M. de Marigny recalled him to France in 1771 to undertake work for the King. From this moment his life, according to his historians, becomes dual. On one side the clever modeller in terra-cotta, who allows his fancy to run riot in pretty follies. On the other the serious and cultivated artist sometimes gets the ascendency in " oeuvres longuement méditées ". So enormous was the number of his commissions, that he had to arrange his whole existence with a view to carrying them out. In the great house of the Place Louis XV. his old aunt sees to his material needs, while he directs his assistants and carries on half-a-dozen works at the same time. No artist was more in fashion—more sought after. Despite his numerous assistants, loud complaints are made by his patrons because he will not work fast enough ; and he is too busy even to send a reception piece to the Academy.
-Besides portraits, nymphs, bacchantes and statues of Saints, and bas reliefs sacred and profane, Clodion executed numbers of decorative works for private houses in Paris. Among these one of the most admirable is the beautiful mantelpiece, in Mme. de Serilly's boudoir now in the South Kensington Museum. This little gem of eighteenth century decoration is not as well known as it deserves to be, although it has been many years in the museum. J. J. Lagrenée, dit le Jeune, painted the subjects on the panels, lunettes, and ceiling. Jean Simon Rousseau de la Rottière, carved the gilt and painted decorative sculptures in low relief, on the pilasters and ceiling. And the gilt metal ornaments on Clodion's mantelpiece are by the famous Gouthière. The white marble thermale figures supporting the mantel-piece, are certainly one of Clodion's chefs d'oeuvres. An-other remarkable specimen of his decoration is to be seen in the Hotel de Chambrun, rue de Monsieur. But the most famous of his works of this order was the Salle des Bains, in the Hotel of Baron de Bezenval, rue de Grenelle. Clodion had a free hand as to the decoration of this sumptuous nymphaeum. Stone vases ornamented with arabesques, forming fountains, filled the niches. Long bas reliefs representing nymphs and Tritons decorated each side. And a life-size " Source," leaning on an urn, occupied the end of this marvellous room. Happily this remarkable decoration is not lost, though no longer in its original position, de Bezenval's descendant, the Comte de Chabrillan, having moved it in 1822 to the Chateau de Digoine (Saône-et-Loire).
Curiously enough Clodion's latest works show a complete change of style. The master of Loves and Nymphs has followed the times. And his " Entrée A Munich," a bas relief for the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, is purely First Empire.
Various Terra-cottas, Louvre.
Faune and Faunesse, Chantilly.
The great Sèvres Vase.
Bacchante portant un Satyre, Museum d'Orléans.
Sainte Cécile, Cathédral de Rouen.
Mort de la Vierge, bas relief, Cathédral de Rouen.
Cheminée aux Termes, east side, South hall, South Kensington Museum.
Numbers of groups, bas reliefs, etc., in private collections.
HOUDON, JEAN-ANTOINE (b. Versailles, 1741 ; d. Paris, 1828),—son of a servant of M. de la Motte, who was in time made Concierge of the École des Élèves protégés, it is probable that the child gained his first enthusiasm for Art in the studios of the professors of the school—Lemoyne, Adam, Slodtz, Vassé, Bouchardon. But from the outset he was himself. At twelve years of age his mind was made up, and he entered the Royal School of Sculpture.
In the Salon of 1795 he describes himself as pupil of Michel Slodtz : but it is known that he also studied with Pigalle and Lemoyne. This however matters little. With a Houdon the inspiration comes from within, not from without. His own words best describe his aims : " Un " des plus beaux attributs de l'art si difficile du statuaire est " de conserver avec toute la vérité des formes et de rendre " presque impérisable l'image des hommes qui ont fait la " gloire ou le bonheur de leur patrie. Cette idée m'a " constamment suivi et encouragée dans mes longs travaux."
At fifteen he gained a third medal at the Academy. At twenty he triumphantly carried off the Grand Prix de Rome. But Rome, its teaching and examples, were powerless to turn the young artist from the passion for truth as against official art, that already possessed him. His stay in Rome was devoted to the most determined study. It was no oft-repeated classic subject which he sent as his Morceau de pensionnaire, but the famous " Écorché," which has become classic in every studio. And the Procurator general of the Carthusians, recognizing the talent of his young country-man (for he was a Frenchman), gave him an important order—the " Saint Bruno," which is still to be seen at Santa-Maria-degli-Angeli. It is a stately and impressive work in its penetrating sentiment, in its absolute simplicity both of pose and execution. And is indeed an extraordinary one for a young artist not yet twenty-five. " He would speak," cried Pope Clement XIV., " if the rule of his order did not " impose silence."
On Houdon's return to Paris in 1771, after ten years' absence, he presented himself for election to the Academy with the model of " Morphée," of which the exquisite marble statuette is now in the Louvre—only spoilt by the horrid suggestion of whiskers. It was his reception piece eight years later. But in the Salon of 1771, at which the " Morphée " appeared, Houdon began his incomparable series of portraits, with his first bust of Diderot. The second, of 1775, is now at Versailles. He had found the true expression of his great talent. And from this moment that wonderful series of nearly 200 busts follow each other in rapid succession, in which he is to write with unequalled power and insight the character and temperament, as well as the mere physical peculiarities of all his most remarkable contemporaries.
To the student of human nature Houdon's portrait busts must always remain the most intensely interesting part of his great work ; though they are only a part. Yet what a part. What a marvellous record. The Lafayette ; the Benjamin Franklin; the many busts of Voltaire—at Versailles, in marble with a wig, at the Louvre, old and serpent-like in bronze—the Mirabeau, courtier and orator, so sure of him-self ; the Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The Louis XV., with those drooping eyelids, and that smile, tolerant of his own failings and those of others, effeminate and sensual—what a human document. The Louis XVI., of Versailles, in which the artist has given a sense of kindly majesty. And above all, what a triumph of art is that positively miraculous " Molière " of the Comédie Française. Houdon only had a few contemporary engravings and portraits to guide him. But the incomparable genius of Molière lives for ever in his marble effigy through the incomparable genius of the sculptor.
But as I say Houdon did not confine his work to portraits. For in his famous "Diane Chasseresse " he attained the summit of the sculptor's ambition. In vain had the Empress Catherine tried to tempt him to Russia. He contented himself by sending models for two monuments for the Galitzin family, and a bust of the Empress. These were exhibited in the Salon of 1773. In 1775, with the monument of the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg Gotha, came the model for the " Femme au Bain," which was completed in marble in 1783, while a negress in lead, painted in natural colours, holding a white marble drapery with one hand, poured water from a golden beaker. The group was placed in the Parc de Monceau, but was destroyed at the Revolution. It was a daring innovation for those days ; and one cannot, save for the interest of such a work, lament its destruction over much. But Houdon's greatest triumph was to come in that same Salon of 1783, with the famous Diane Chasseresse, in which he attained the summit of his artistic desire. The bronze—he cast it himself in 1790—light and charming, classic, while very human, is too well known in the Louvre to need comment. A marble variant is in the collection of the Hermitage. In 1781 he had exhibited his charming " Frileuse " (Montpellier).
The magnificent " Voltaire assis " of the Comédie Française dates from 1778. M. Louis Gonse has selected a fine engraving of it by Gaujean, as the frontispiece to his Sculpture Française. It was in 1785 that Houdon undertook his voyage to the United States, to make his models for the statue of Washington ordered by the Virginian Parliament. He left Le Havre with Franklin on 22nd July, 1785 ; stayed a fortnight with Washington in Philadelphia ; and, after making the necessary notes and models, returned to France, January, 1786. This statue now adorns the capitol of Richmond, Va. It kept the artist at work for several years.
Though he continued his series of busts, after 1808 his power diminishes. In 1812 he exhibited two statues, General Joubert, and Voltaire dressed as a Roman. It is almost the end. One bust of the Emperor Alexander in 1814.
And then the great sculptor is seen every evening at the Français with a servant, sitting in the stalls ; and taking bits of china or pebbles out of his pocket he rubs them with his thumb—the sculptor's own motion—and then sleeps to the end of the performance. In 1828 he slept the long sleep of the dead.