Art Of The Nineteenth Century
( Originally Published 1899 )
As I have already pointed out, periodic revivals of worship of the antique have taken place in the history of French Art. The first of these was the Classic revival of the French Renaissance. The second was the severe and rigid classicism of the Siècle de Louis XIV. The third, which ushered in the Art of the nineteenth century, is usually known as " Style Empire "—thereby leading people to believe that it was suddenly introduced by the First Empire. The fact is that this third Classic reaction only culminated at that moment, under the dominant influence of a man of genius and of prodigious force of character and purpose—Louis David. Its first symptoms may be detected as far back as the middle of the eighteenth century. " Les monuments " respectables des anciens, tels qu'on les voit encore en " Italie," are then spoken of by the Mercure with grave and gracious condescension.
A number of important books, published during the last half of the century, served to attract general attention to the art of Greece and Rome, and helped to bring about that revolution in taste which substituted Diderot's " grand gout sévère et classique," for that of La Pompadour. Leroy's " Ruines des plus beaux Monuments de la Grèce," published 1758—Mariette's treatise on the engraved gems of the Royal Collections—Bartholi's " Receuil des peintures antiques "—De Caylus' " Receuils d'antiquités "—Winckelman's " L'Art dans l'antiquité "—Sir William Hamilton's invaluable collections and learned works—and the excavations and researches at Herculaneum, Pompeii, Paestum, Palmyra, Baalbec—all these stimulated a growing enthusiasm for the beauties of classic Art.
M. de Marigny's successor under Louis XVI., the Comte d'Angivilliers, was one with the movement. On his appointment as Director of buildings, arts, academies, and manufactures in 1774, he suggests that the King should every year order " four or five pictures in the genre of history, " which seems to be neglected and growing weak ". And announces that he intends " as far as possible to restore to " Arts all their dignity, to recall them to their ancient origin " and their true destination ".
In the Petit Trianon—in the Petits appartements of Versailles—the ornamental sculpture, the exquisite gilt bronzes of Riesener, Beneman, and that prince of " Ciseleurs-doreurs," the great Gouthière, all display classic motives. In some cases it is difficult to distinguish the work of Louis XVI. from that of the Empire, so nearly are they allied.
In Architecture, when, after the stress and storm of the Revolution, building began once more under the Empire, nothing but Classic architecture is tolerated. And we get the Madeleine and the Bourse.
Canova in Sculpture seconds David's efforts. His influence is immense : and his " pure antique " bids fair for a while to impose itself on France. But as has always been the case in French Sculpture, other influences were at work —influences purely national, vigorous, modern. Rude and Barye will soon sweep away the cold, correct, elegant classicism of Pradier and the followers of Canova, with the rush of a life, a strength, a beauty all their own. For with them and with David d'Anger's vehement and impressive portraiture, Modern French Sculpture begins.
It is however in painting that the Classic revival exercised by far the deepest, most important, most lasting influence on Modern Art. For though Vien, the " célèbre vieillard," might to some extent have been his predecessor, it is to David, and to David alone that we must look as at once Prophet and High Priest of antiquity. As early as 1783, when David went for a second time to ROme to plunge anew into the sacred springs of " l'Antique tout cru," his rigid classic style begins with his " Serment des Horaces ". Six years later Paris is enchanted by the "archaeological exactitude" of his "Brutus," ordered by Louis XVI. just before the Revolution, in 1789. And the public " repeated with admiration that the head of Brutus was " copied exactly from an antique bust in the Capitol, the " Statue of Rome and the bas relief of Romulus and Remus " from the original monuments ". The costumes, and the models of furniture which were made by the cabinet-maker Jacob from David's own drawings, were studied with interest and curiosity. They were taken from Etruscan Vases. And these studio " properties," which appear in the Horaces--Socrates—Brutus—even in the portrait of Mme. Récamier—had a rapid and marked effect on French furniture and interior decoration.
" Les formes sévères et carrées " were then the fashion. Women had given up stays and high-heeled shoes. Light and airy clothes, and the curling hair of a Vigée-Lebrun or a Madame Roland replaced the satins with paniers, and stiff, long-waisted bodices. While with men, a republican simplicity, flowing locks and quiet cloth coats, had succeeded the powdered hair and charming " fancy dress " of Louis XV.
Under the Empire the classic tendencies in dress developed into that debased Roman style which is known as " Empire ". The dress of the Empress Joséphine, and Marie Louise, of Mme. Létitia Bonaparte as the Roman Mother, of Napoleon and his generals, when he plays at being a Roman Emperor—as in David's " Distribution des Aigles," at Versailles, or the " Sacre " of the Louvre, or Robert Lefèvre's great official " Caesar " of 1811—is all late Roman. For it was unfortunately to Roman and not to pure Greek Art that David and his school turned. They drew their inspiration from tainted sources. Their knowledge was but partial. Pure Greek Art, such as the nineteenth century has revealed it to us, in all its perfection and glory, was but little known in 1800. The friezes of the Parthenon were only brought to England in 1816. And if David and his school had not yet learnt, from the very insufficient data before them, to distinguish between Greek and Roman Sculpture„ the learned Winckelman knew no better. David's whole ideal was that of beauty. And though the data were inadequate, he felt that the beauty he sought was only to be found in the Antique ; that here alone could he discover beautiful lines, heroic motives, noble gestures. In his Sabines, painted in 1799, he imagined that he was actually representing the Hellenic ideal ; though we only see in it an admirably drawn, but intolerably conventional picture, cold in colour, irritating and theatrical in composition, and full of archaeologic and historic anachronisins.
David's " Classic fanaticism being complicated by a re-" volutionary fanaticism," all that was not strictly in accordance with this new ideal of classical beauty, was placed on the index. The whole of the gracious art of the eighteenth century was shut away as a thing abominable, beneath con-tempt. Watteau, Boucher—" Boucher maudit "—" Boucher de ridicule mémoire "—Lemoyne, Pigalle, even the strong, vigorous, vivid Fragonard, were supposed to have " neglected " all that belongs to the ideal "—to represent " the most complete decadence of taste and of an epoch of corruption ".. The sublime, the heroic, the classic, the academic style alone is tolerated by the makers of the revolution. And by a strange Nemesis the very man who had swept away the old Academies, was the chief instrument in creating a fresh and even more rigidly academic style of painting, and of introducing the reign of " Pompiers "—of " gens en casque to modern Art. For David and his atelier, his pupils and followers, and especially his great successor Ingres, imposed this Classic ideal upon the nineteenth century for sixty years.
In the rival studios of J. B. Regnault, and F. A. Vincent,. the same doctrines were preached. And though, as time went on, David began to suspect that he had not reached the true source of antique beauty, it was no movement of repentance for his deliberate rejection of modern contemporary life that made him cry, " Ah ! if I could only begin my " studies over again, now that antiquity is better known, I " should go straight to the goal ".
What a gulf lies fixed between the art of the school of David, and that of the eighteenth century ! And yet, which is the most living, the truest to the lovelier aspects of nature, the most enchanting in its poetry—such a picture as one of the Watteaus at Hertford House, or David's " Sabines " ? Yet that David the Classic, is the father of Modern Art, cannot be denied. For he bore within his breast those germs of Modern Art, that a few years later were to burst into such marvellous life. Face to face with the living human being, David's genius seems vitalized by the contact. We can see it in his portraits — always admirable — often of deep significance. Nothing for instance can be more intense in vigour, and in emotion, nothing can be more truly " Modern," than his sketch of the dead Marat's head. We see this too in some of his splendid presentments of contemporary events. Yet he deliberately crushed down those instinctive yearnings for a truer, a more living art, both in himself and in his followers, with a fierceness of repression that has something pathetic in it. He refused to see, in his worship of the beauty which he imagined he could only discover in the antique, that the life about him contained as great and greater beauty than that of a false classicism.
With this dawn of the nineteenth century, Art enters upon a new phase. Political, social, moral ideals have changed in those few years since the Revolution. And the new century ushers in new men, new ideals, new ways and means in Art as in things political and social. The artist is a free man. He has henceforth not only liberty to exercise his art but liberty to speak the truth that is in him. It is true that the Monarchy, or the Empire, or the Institute, or the stupidity of the public, have at times obstructed the free-will of the artist of the nineteenth century. But the growth of self-respect, of a noble independence, of the finer qualities of the Democratic spirit, has enabled artists in France, often through fierce and bitter opposition, to say what they had to say with-out fear or favour.
French Art in the nineteenth century divides itself into a series of groups or movements. These exemplify the curiously articulate genius of the French race. Each group, each movement, has a definite object in view. It is absolutely aware of its objects, of what it needs. There is no hesitation, no groping about for expression. Straight to their goal go Classics, Romantics, Naturalists, Realists, Neo-Greeks, Décoratifs, Idealists, Impressionists—and how many more sub-divisions and passing fashions? They are all immensely in earnest—sometimes bitterly, fiercely in earnest. With none has the decisive victory remained. And with none is it well that victory should remain. For so surely as a system arrogates to itself an exclusive source of inspiration, so surely does it destroy the source of life within it, and become not only tyrannical but sterile. All through the history of French Art in the nineteenth century we see the ceaseless struggle between the old and the new, between tradition and present effort. What we learn from the spectacle—deeply interesting, deeply instructive, deeply edifying in its history and its achievements —is, that the only thing in art that really matters, the only thing that bears weight, the only thing that leaves its mark on the age and on all ages to come, is individual genius—the mind of the one man —who, be he Classic or Romantic, Naturalist, Symbolist, or Impressionist, is great enough to stand alone, to be himself, to give to the world that message which is in him to give.
DAVID, JACQUES-LOUIS (b. Paris, 1748 ; d. Brussels, 1825).—By a quaint chance Louis David's first counsellor in art was Boucher, a distant relative, with whom his mother proposed to place him. But Boucher was old ; and passed the young man on to Vien. Two years after his admission to Vien's studio, Louis David, unknown to his master, competed for the Prix de Rome, and won it. But Vien was so incensed at his pupil's independent action that he got the decision reversed, and David was only awarded the second prize. In 1772 and 1773 he again competed, not even receiving an " honorable mention ". He was, however, successful in 1774 with his " Stratonice " ; and in the following year went to Italy with his master Vien, who had just been appointed director of the French Academy in Rome.
Hitherto David's work had been more in sympathy with the style of his relation Boucher, as when he decorated the Salon of Perregaux, the banker ; or completed the ceiling begun by Fragonard, for the celebrated dancer, Mlle. Guimard. But in Rome he soon became absorbed in that study of the antique which was to be the passion of his life. Vien in later days, when David was famous, took the credit of this conversion to himself. But as I have already shown, Vien had a happy knack of prophesying after the event, and a boundless belief in his own importance. In any case David did little but draw while in Rome. The few pictures however that he sent back to Paris were highly approved. In 1778 the judges of the " Envois de Rome " say that " le " sieur David shows the greatest facility with his brush ; his " colour is animated though rather same, his method of " draping broad and truthful ". The " Peste de Saint Roch," exhibited in Rome in 1779, was a great success. Though in " rhetoric and style it closely approaches academic art, " it has more energy in the drawing, and greater truth ".
In 1780 David returned to Paris. He was elected to the Academy on his " Belisaire " ; and received in 1783 on his " Death of Hector ". These are both works of his period of transition. The rigid and severe style he was to impose on his followers, was not yet fully developed. But David began to feel the necessity for closer study of " l'Antique tout cru "; and in this same year he returned to Rome with his young wife, and his brilliant pupil Drouais. The picture painted in Rome, " Le Serment des Horaces," marks the beginning of his regular antique style. It was exhibited in the Salon of 1785, and confirmed the master's growing reputation and authority. His " Mort de Socrate " two years later, is a better picture, and a good example of his " Roman " manner. The cartoon sketch for this picture is interesting, as showing his method of work. The whole composition is admirably and carefully drawn in, in the nude, without draperies or accessories. In 1789, as I have mentioned, David painted his " Brutus " for the King.
But now the Revolution burst upon France. And, intimately associated with the terrible drama, David's pictures of the revolutionary period present a singular contrast to his earlier work. A life, a vigour, an emotion is displayed in them, very far removed from his cold, dry, severe style of Classic beauty. David's work for Art during the Revolution has already been spoken of (chap. xii.). But though he took so prominent a part in politics as an adherent of Robespierre and member of the Convention, as well as the chief organizer of Art, he did not wholly escape from the perils of the Terror. On the 15th Thermidor he was arrested and imprisoned for four months in the Luxembourg. And on the 9th Prairial, An III. (1794), he was again incarcerated in the Luxembourg for a further three months. After his final release he renounced politics, and devoted himself exclusively to Art, both in practice and in theory. For when the Directoire created the Institute on the ruins of the old Royal Academies, David was one of the two original members of the class of Beaux Arts, whose delicate mission it was to select the other members.
David's portraits of the revolutionary period are of extraordinary force and life. His theories paled before the surging life about him. There was no thought of " Classic beauty " when he drew that marvellous little head of Marat —Marat who he loved—dead in his bath ; and wrote in the four corners, " A Marat l'Ami du Peuple, David ". One feels that every stroke carried with it anger, pity, regret. The portraits begin with Lavoisier and his wife in 1788. And as the awful drama of the time sweeps on, they grow in emotion and intensity, with Michel Gérard and his family, Mme. d'Orvilliers in 1790, and the terrible Barrère in the act of making the speech which cost Louis XVI. his life.
Then begin the Bonaparte series. Like many another revolutionist, David was completely carried away by the attraction, the genius of the Premier Consul. His faithful pupil and biographer Delécluze, describes the General's visit to David's studio in the Louvre. The pupils are dismissed. And in three hours that wondrous sketch, now in the collection of the Marquis de Bassano, is made in spite of many interruptions from the impatient model. Only the head was finished. But what a head ! And next morning David breaks out in enthusiastic praise to the eager pupils, of Bonaparte and his successes. Enfin, mes amis, c'est un homme auquel on aurait élevé des autels dans l'antiquité; oui, mes amis, Bonaparte est mon ` héros ! " The hero had troublesome views on Art. What he demanded in a picture was not a likeness, but an object to rouse the admiration of the people. It was needless, he told David, that he should sit for him. The painter's task was to make his genius live. And that wonderful sketch from the life is therefore of far greater value as a document, than the official " Bonaparte crossing the Alps " ; or the " Distribution des Aigles," which in spite of fine passages is cold and strained.
In the famous " Sacre de l'Empereur Napoleon," however, we get a real chef d'oeuvre. Here again, all is from the life. At first the great contemporary work seemed to David against his principles. But as it progressed during the four years that he devoted to it, he confessed that in the long vestments of the priests, the crimson robes of the prelates, the court dresses of the ladies, the uniforms of generals, he had found " more resources of art than he expected ". The tragic portrait of the Pope, the kneeling Joséphine, above whose head Caesar in his white satin tunic and long crimson velvet mantle holds the crown, with all their brilliant entourage, forin a subject likely indeed to yield artistic suggestions. And David — now premier peintre to the Emperor, and membre de l'Institut, expressed a naïf surprise at his own success. The picture finished, Napoleon, with Joséphine, his military household, his ministers, preceded and followed by musicians and horsemen, arrives at the rue St. -Jacques.' For half-an-hour he walks up and down before the great canvas in silence, examining every detail ; while David and the whole company, greatly moved, stand motion-less. At length Csar breaks silence. " C'est bien, David,, " vous avez compris toute ma pensée." And making two steps towards the painter, Napoleon lifting his hat bowed slightly, saying in a loud voice, " David, I salute you " !
In 1799 the " Sabines," sketched out during his captivity' in the Luxembourg, was finished and exhibited. This was the first picture in David's " Greek" style. It was the subject of much curiosity and discussion when exhibited for the second time at the Salon of 1810. Already a vague, feeling was abroad that the true sources of Greek art had not been reached, that the picture presented archaeological anachronisms. And many preferred Girodet's " Deluge," to the " Hellenic ideal " according to David. But until the end of his life he persisted in this cold, theatrical style—breaking away from it occasionally into some really magnificent portrait full of life, truth, and emotion—such for instance as his " Père Fuzelier" (1814), the doyen of the Custodians of the Louvre ; or the three " Commères"; or the charming portraits of Joseph Bonaparte's daughters (1822). The well-known " Leonidas " was exhibited in 1814.
Two years later after the Restoration, by the law of January, 1816, David was exiled from France. Permission to go to Rome was refused him. He therefore settled in Brussels.' Here he painted many pictures in the style to which he remained faithful—" L'Amour quittant Psyché, " Télémaque et Eucharis," " la Colère d'Achille," etc., etc. And here he died on the 29th December, 1825. His influence on his pupils, and through them on the public taste, was unexampled. Nearly all the best known painters of the end of the eighteenth and early years of the nineteenth century passed through his studio, or came under his influence ; his. most famous disciples being Girodet, Drouais, Gros, Gérard, Isabey, Ingres, Léopold Robert, Granet, etc., etc. While Guérin, though a pupil of J. B. Régnault, may be considered as one of David's school and most devoted adherents.
Examples in the Louvre :
Les Sabines, 1799. 188.
Léonidas aux Thermopyles, 1814. 187.
Le Serment des Horaces, 1784. 189.
Brutus, 1789. 191.
Bélisaire demandant l'aumone, 1784. 192.
Sacre de l'Empereur Napoléon I., 1808.
POpe Pious VII. and Card. Caprara, 1805. 198.
Madame Récamier (sketch). 199.
M. and Mme. Pécoul, 1783 (father and mother in law of David). 196, 197. Etc., etc.
Barère, 1790. 4607.
Marat, study of head in pen and ink ; Nouvelle acquisition. Distribution des Aigles. 2278.
Bonaparte crossing the Alps.
Michel Gérard, Musée du Mans.
Bonaparte, sketch, Coll. du Duc de Bassano.
Peste de St. Roch, 1799, Marseille.
Portrait, Mme. Vigée-Lebrun, Musée de Rouen. Napoleon taking the oath of fidelity to the French Constitution, Barnard Castle.
Death of Milo of Crotona, Irish Nat. Gall., Dublin.
GIRODET DE ROUCY-TRIOSON, ANNE-LOUIS (b. Montargis, 1767 ; d. Paris, 1824).—Left an orphan in early youth, and adopted by M. Trioson, an army doctor, Girodet took his benefactor's name on the death of his only son. Having learnt the principles of drawing from Luquin, he entered David's studio at eighteen.
In 1789 he won the first prize of the Academy—defeating Gérard—and went to Rome. He stayed there more than five years, thus escaping the whole of the Revolution. On his return to Paris, the " Poems of Ossian " which had taken the world by storm, had considerable influence on Girodet. He had a literary turn of mind, and even wrote some very poor poems himself. And here in the heart of David's studio, in the very centre of the Classic reaction, we find the first faint suggestion of the coming Romantic movement. " To " the great scandal of his master, he turned early towards a " sentimental mannerism, a kind of academic Romanticism."
" Atala au tombeau " (1808) and the " Ossian," suggested these dangerous tendencies. Delécluze describes David's visit to Girodet's studio, high perched in the attics of the Louvre, to see the finished Ossian ". The master looked long and silently on the picture ; exclaiming at length, " Ma foi, my good friend, I must confess it—I don't under-" stand that sort of painting. No ! my dear Girodet, I don't " understand it in the least ! " The visit ended abruptly. And down in the court of the Louvre, David raged. " Ah ! ca ! " he is mad, is Girodet, he is mad ! . . . What a pity ! " With his fine talent that man will never produce anything " but follies—he has no common sense ! " The general opinion of the rabid Classics was that it would be well for painters and for poets to send the "bard of Morvan " back into the mists from which he came, and follow the singer of Achilles. But " Ossian " made an impression all the same. It was destined for Malmaison, which Girodet and Gérard were decorating. The Atala " in 1808, and the " Déluge," which though painted in 1806 was exhibited in 1810, and gained the Grand Prix d'histoire, mark the zenith of Girodet's career.
In easy circumstances, with a delicate constitution, and lack of much imagination or inventive power, he worked slowly and produced but few pictures. He however made an immense number of drawings—illustrating Racine, Vigil, Anacreon, Sappho, Bion, Moschus, Ossian. His later paintings were laboured and very inferior. " In looking at the pictures of Raphael and Veronese, one is pleased with " oneself," said David. " Those men make one believe that " painting is an easy art ; but when one sees those of Girodet, " painting seems a trade fit only for galley-slaves."
At the Restoration Girodet was made member of the Académie des Beaux Arts, and chevalier of the Legion of Honour. He died December 9, 1824 ; and Louis XVIII. ordered the Cross of Officier which he had intended to give him, to be placed on his coffin.
Scène du Déluge, 1810, premier médaille. 360.
Someil d'Endymion, 1792, Rome. 361.
Atala au Tombeau, 1808. 362.
J. B. Belley, the coloured deputy from San Domingo, 1796. 4616.
Napoléon recevant les clefs de Vienne, 1808. 1549. La révolte du Caire, 1810.
GERARD, FRANÇOIS, BARON (b. Rome, 1770 ; d. Paris, 1837).—His father, intendant to the Bailli de Suffren, then Ambassador to Rome, brought young François back to Paris when he was twelve. Through the Bailli de Breteuil, the lad was admitted to the little school which M. de Marigny had founded for twelve young artists, known as the " Pension du Roi ". After eighteen months he left it for Pajou's studio. He then went to Breuet. And finally, in 1786 entered David's studio.
In 1789 he competed for the Prix de Rome. Girodet, as I have said, gained it, and Gérard only obtained the second prize. Family troubles, the death of his father, and return of his mother, an Italian, to Rome, in 1790, interrupted his work. And when the Revolution broke out Gérard was included in the conscription of 1793. David rescued him from this by an almost worse fate ; appointing him a member of the Revolutionary tribunal ; and in order to escape from its terrible duties he feigned illness, and almost gave up his work. In 1795 however, he exhibited his " Bélisaire " which the painter Isabey bought, saving the young artist from something approaching to starvation. Isabey did more. He insisted on Gérard receiving the extra profits, when he resold the picture to M. Meyer, the Dutch Ambassador. And it is to Gérard's gratitude that we owe the charming portrait of Isabey and his daughter (Louvre)—the first of a long series of successes. The " Psyché et l'Amour "—cold and affected—exhibited in 1798, was immensely admired. But still the artist found it hard to live.
It was not until 1800 that his vogue as a portrait painter began. Once begun, his success was prodigious. No one understood better how to flatter and make things pleasant for his sitters. Even Madame Récamier, discontented with David's glorious, half-finished portrait, came to the " roi des peintres, et le peintre des rois ". The master never forgave the slight. And when in 1805 the charming and faithless lady returned to David and begged him to go on with the picture, he answered dryly that artists, like women, were capricious. " Souffrez que je garde votre "portrait dans l'état où nous l'avons laissé." He even threatened to destroy it. Happily he did not carry out his intentions.
And now all parties in the State, all dynasties in those years of upheaval and change, pass through Gérard's studio. Empresses, Generals, Kings, Dancers, Statesmen. And as the fashion grows and the years roll on, the baron Gèrard, premier peintre du roi, becomes more and more artificial. His portraits lose the happy directness and simplicity of his early work. His subject pictures grow colder in colour and in decadent classicism.
In 1819 Louis XVIII. created him a Baron. In 1825 Charles X. bought his tiresome " Daphnis and Chloé " ; and he painted the King's Coronation in 1829. Louis Philippe ordered, among other works, four pendentives for the Pantheon, which kept him busy from 1832 to 1836. The Peste de Marseille," which he presented to the sanitary administration of that city, was one of his last works. He died in January, 1837.
Examples--ten pictures in the Louvre :
Psyché et l'Amour, 1798. 328.
Daphnis et Chloé, 1824. 329.
Portrait of Isabey and his daughter, 1795. 332. Mme. Visconti. 337.
Austerlitz, 2765 ; Entrée de Henri IV. à Paris ; Mme. Récamier ; Général Hoche, sketch, 4936 ; Napoléon I., Nouvelle acquisition ; Joséphine, 4699, 5135 ; Marie-Louise et roi de Rome, 4703 ; Mme. Mère, Maria-Laetitia-Bonaparte, 4558 ; Le Roi de Rome, 4707 ; Murat, 1114 ; Duc de Berry, 4798 ; Duchesse de Berry et enfants, 4799 ; Charles X., two great portraits, 4794-95; Sacre de Charles X., 1792 ; Lamartine ; Numerous sketches and studies for portraits, of great beauty ; etc.
Bonaparte, Premier Consul. Les trois ages. Duchesse d'Orléans, Chantilly.
A sumptuous Portrait of Charles X., Madrid Gallery.
GROS, ANTOINE-JEAN, BARON (b. Paris, 1771 ; d. Meudon, 1835).—Baron Gros, the son of a miniature painter, was the most devoted and docile of all David's pupils. His natural tastes and his vigour of character, led him away from the rigid path of Classic art, traced out for him by his imperious master. His battle pictures, his great paintings of contemporary events, seemed to point to a leader in a new, realistic, living art, which should regenerate the so-called " School of History and Style ". But although David could show a certain indulgent liberality towards less gifted pupils, and advise them to paint how and what they would, so long as they did it well—yet with artists of great talents such as Gros, he insisted almost fiercely that they should remain faithful to " le grand art " that he taught them.
Gros entered David's studio in 1785. In 1792 he tried unsuccessfully for the Prix de Rome. But thanks to David and Regnault he obtained a passport in 1793 ; started on his own account' for Italy ; and after many difficulties arrived in Genoa. Here his imagination was excited by the works of Van Dyck, Pujet, and above all, Rubens. Here also in 1796, he made the acquaintance of Joséphine, an acquaintance as important in its effects, as his introduction to Ruben's colour. She carried him off to Milan, and presented him to Bonaparte, who at once took a liking for him, attached him to his staff, allowed him to paint his portrait—that wonderful portrait now in the Louvre of " Napoleon at the bridge of Arcole "—and to follow the course of that series of memorable battles. Here Gros saw life indeed ; and his robust talent. responded eagerly to the drama of war under such a leader. He was also appointed member of the commission for selecting the works of art which were to enrich the museum of the Louvre (see chap. xii.). And he distinguished himself by the delicacy and probity with which he carried out this difficult task, in Bologna, Modena and Perugia. He arrived at Rome in March, 1797, and after a few months there returned to Milan. He was now to make an even closer acquaintance with the realities of war. Disaster overtook the French armies in Italy while Bonaparte was in Egypt. And Gros had to take an unwilling part in the terrible siege of Genoa which Masséna sustained in 1799. He at last escaped on an English vessel, and reached Marseilles in an almost dying condition from hunger and privations. Here however he was nursed back to life by a friend, and reached Paris in 1801, after nine years' absence.
Hitherto, with the exception of the " Napoleon at the bridge of Arcole," his pictures had been small portraits, or classic subjects. But now a competition was opened for the best picture of the battle of Nazareth, where Junot with 500 men defeated 6000 Turks and Arabs. Gros' sketch (Musée de Nantes) gained the prize. But the picture was never painted. In 1804 he painted the " Pestiférées de Jaffa ". This picture, so full of emotion, of vigour and truth, painted under the double influence of the glamour of Ruben's colour and of actual, first-hand knowledge of war and all its sufferings, created a profound effect. The young artists of the day hung a wreath upon the frame in the Salon. They recognized and did homage to what they were dimly seekingfor—life, truth, feeling, colour. This picture was followed in 1806 by the " Bataille d'Aboukir ". In 1808 came the " Champ de Bataille d'Eylau ". In 1810 the " Bataille des Pyramides ".
Gros now received an important commission from M. de Montalivet, the decoration of the Cupola of the Pantheon —finished after many vicissitudes, in 1824, it earned him the title of Baron. In 1816 he was made member of the Institute, Honorary Councillor of Museums, and Professor of the École des Beaux Arts.
But David had seen with something akin to despair that his favourite and most tractable pupil was leaving the paths he, the master, had indicated. When exiled to Brussels in 1815-16 he left the leadership of his school to Gros, and ceaselessly implored him to leave these " sujets futiles et tableaux de circonstance " for "fine historical pictures ". Unhappily, Gros, who looked on David with positively pious veneration, listened to the urgent appeals his imperious master made him. He believed more in David's opinion than in his own genius. Every contemporary picture or portrait that he painted, seemed to him an infidelity. When, on the day of Girodet's funeral, the members of the Institute lamented over "the irreparable loss the school " had sustained at a moment when it needed some powerful hand to hold it back from the abyss into which the " so-called Romantic school was dragging it," Gros exclaimed with tears in his eyes, " For myself, not only have I not " enough authority to direct the school, but I must accuse " myself of being one of the first who set the bad example " others have followed ". And the great and successful painter, who might have been one of the leaders of Modern Art, humbly returned at David's bidding to his Plutarch.
In Baron Gros we witness the tragedy of a great talent doing violence to itself. His contemporary war pictures, in which his genius found full expression, had been ruthlessly criticised by the upholders of the Classic school as opening the door—so M. Guizot said in 1810—to a school which, " accustomed to seek for truth without adding beauty as a " necessary condition, will easily sink into hideous exaggeration ". Now, the classic subjects he painted as a self-imposed penance—especially a Hercules and Diomed (Salon 1835)—called forth even more violent criticisms from the adherents of the new powerful Romantic school. None guessed the drama that tore his honest heart. He was laughed at—sneered at—treated as a " dead man ". And wearied out with what he considered the lasting disgrace and shame that he had brought upon himself and his school, Baron Gros lay down on his face in three foot of water at Meudon, on June 25, 1835, where two boatmen discovered his body next day.
His sufferings and his genius were not without fruits. Among his pupils from 1815 to 1835 we find the names of Charlet, Raffet, Paul Huet, Barye. Of his generous kindness to Delacroix, I speak in its own place. And though he was not actually Géricault's master, there can be no doubt that his works—those which were part of his own being—the Jaffa—the Eylau—the Aboukir—powerfully affected the young genius who was to lead the new revolution.
Examples in the Louvre :
Les Pestiférées de Jaffa. 388.
Napoleon à Eylau. 389.
François I. et Charles Quint. 390.
Bonaparte à Arcole. 391.
His pupil, Alcide de la Rivallière. 392.
Ceiling, Salle 1, Louvre.
Ceiling, Salle 5, Musée Charles X., Louvre.
Cupola of Panthéon (Ste. Geneviève), Paris. Versailles :
Bataille d'Aboukir, Grande Salle des Gardes. 1799.
Napoleon and François II., after Austerlitz. 1551.
Napoleon receiving the Queen of Prussia, Tilsitt. 1555.
Departure of Louis XVIII. from the Tuileries, 1815. 1778.
Portrait of Gros by himself, painted in Italy. 4786, etc.
Sketch for the Pestiférées de Jaffa, Chantilly.
Sketch for battle of Nazareth, Musée de Nantes.
GUERIN, PIERRE-NARCISSE, BARON (b. Paris, 1774 ; d. Rome, 1833).—Though a pupil of J. B. Regnault, Guérin was a follower of David, and may be considered as belonging to his school. His " Retour de Marcus-Sextus," in 1798—incredible as it may now seem—was a prodigious success.
Though he had gained the Prix de Rome, his health prevented his remaining more than six months in Italy. And while still a student he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, in 1803.
In 1815, the King increased the number of members of the Académie des Beaux Arts, and made Guérin an Academician. In 1816 he was appointed Director of the École de Rome : but was obliged to refuse the appointment. And when in 1822 he succeeded M. Thévenet, and went to Rome, his health was so bad that he was unable to paint during the whole six years. Returning to Paris in 1829 the King made him a Baron. And when Horace Vernet was made Director of the Ecole de Rome, Guérin could not resist the desire to accompany him, and see Rome once more. He did so, only to die at the end of a few months.
His studio in Paris was much frequented, being one of the three most important of the day. Géricault, Delacroix, Champmartin, Ary Scheffer, and many more of the best known " Romantics " passed through it ; though they had but little in common with such teaching as was to be had there. Delacroix thus describes it. " Our masters, " in order to give the Ideal to the head of an Egyptian, make "it as near as possible resemble the Antinous. They say, " We have done all we can, but if, thanks to our corrections " it is not yet sufficiently beautiful, the fault lies with its " irregular nature—with this flat nose, these thick lips, which " are things intolerable to look upon."
Examples in the Louvre :
Retour de Marcus-Sextus. 393.
Offrande â Esculape. 394.
Andromaque et Pyrrhus. 396.
Enée et Didon. 397.
Aurore et Céphale. 399.
Louis XVIII., Buckingham Palace.
INGRES, JEAN-DOMINIQUE-AUGUSTE (b. Montauban, 1780 ; d. Paris, 1867).—Though Ingres was for many years looked upon with distrust, as too " Gothic " in his tendencies, an admirer of the primitives—though on his first journey to Italy he made endless studies in the Campo Santo of Pisa, exclaiming " C'est à genoux qu'il faudrait copier ces hommes-" là "—yet Ingres is the Classic of Classics—the implacable successor and continuator of David and the Classic school—the irreconcilable adversary of Romantics and Naturalists. Ingres was one of David's most distinguished pupils. Having gained a second prize in 1800, he carried off the first Prix de Rome in 1801 with " The Ambassadors of Agamemnon visiting Achilles ". This picture was so much admired by Flax-man, who was passing through Paris, that David was seriously annoyed. A coolness began between master and pupil. They drifted further and further apart. And from 1814, Ingres endeavoured to avoid any personal communication with the master he was to succeed. Although he gained the Prix de Rome in 1801 he was not sent to Rome till 1806. These years he spent in " drawing to learn, and " painting to live ".
Many of the portraits of this time are of high significance. They demonstrate his absolute sincerity, his vigour, his precision as a draftsman. The great portrait of Napoleon on his throne (1806) shows what power the young master had already attained. " La belle Zélie," of the Musée de Rouen, is also of this year. And before he left for Italy he drew the delightful pencil portraits of the " Famille Forestier "—the father, mother, friend, the servant, the dog, and the pretty daughter who gives Ingres the note on the piano as he tunes his violin ; for he was a great musician, and spent his evenings playing duets with the young lady, to whom he was half engaged. The parents wished to postpone the marriage till his return from Italy. His own words best describe the reason of its final abandonment. " Un beau soir, le soir des " adieux, la jeune fille contraria mes idées en peinture et me tint " tête ; cela m'avertit, je la laissai de côté." Nothing must come between him and his own views in Art !
In 1808 Ingres sent his famous " Œdipe interrogeant le Sphynx " from Rome. In it we find what became his own signature in all his best works—that intensity and purity in his treatment of the nude. In a sort of unimpassioned distinction, an intellectual as apart from sensual worship of form, in his actual modelling of flesh, he stands alone. In his best portraits, as in the "OEdipe," the " Baigneuse " (1808), " Jupiter and Thetis " (1811), the " Odalisque " (1814), M. André Michel says the influence of the masters of the fifteenth century is shown, " in his fine and uncommon method " of modelling in the lights, and indicating with a nervous " and sober precision the most subtle modulations of form ".
For many years Ingres remained quietly in Rome, given wholly to the determined pursuit of his plastic ideal—a complete stranger to the moving drama of his own country —battles, victories, defeats, conquests, disasters, changes of dynasties and changes of opinion, that were breeding a new race of men in Art as well as in Literature.
In these fruitful years of quiet and incessant labour we get his " Romulus," his " Marcellus," " Ossian," 1812. "Fiançailles de Raphaël," 1813. " Aretino et Tintoret," 1817. " Death of Léonardo da Vinci," 1818. " L'entrée de Charles V. à Paris," 1821. Besides these and others, many painted and pencil portraits. And such small historical pictures as the " Françoise de Rimini," 1819, which made the followers of David accuse him of being Gothic—an imitator of Jean de Bruges.
His detractors and critics were many. And it was only with the " Voeu de Louis XIII." that his first victory was scored. It was an order for the Cathedral of Montauban, his native place. And though he says he would have preferred to paint an " Assumption," he began the work at Florence in 1821, sparing no pains to " make the thing " Raphaélesque and my own ". It was exhibited after Ingres' return to Paris, in the famous Salon of 1824—that Salon which marked the final break between the Classics and Romantics ; for it introduced new men, new ideals, to the world. Delacroix exhibited his " Massacre de Chio ". Ary Scheffer his " Gaston de Foix ". Constable for the first time in France showed landscapes that revolutionized landscape painting. And the artistic world was divided into Homerists and Shakesperians.
Ingres now threw himself into the strife. The educated Classics who " ranged themselves round him, found it " convenient to make him ` l'homme de la résistance,' and " helped to exalt the most orthodox tendencies of his art and " his genius ". Those who had for so many years disowned, discouraged, and mocked him, now lavished tenderness and enthusiasin on him, rendered all the more vehement by the alarming effect of the " Massacre of Chios ". A new leader was wanted for the Classic school. Its chief in exile—Girodet dead—Gérard, now the official portrait painter, a traitor—" That man !—may God forgive him, if He can " aid Ingres later on—Ingres was the man to restore this dying school to life. Ingres, amazed and enchanted at this sudden and unexpected burst of popularity, decided to stay in France, to open a studio, to profess and maintain a doctrine. He was soon admitted to the ranks of the Institute. In after years he was made Grand Officier de la Légion d'Honneur and Senator of the Empire. And hence-forth the works he cares for most are those which illustrate the " Saving Gospel " he preaches—" Point de paix avec les " méchants "—the wicked in this case being the Romantics and Colourists, as represented by Delacroix and Rubens. The " Apotheosis of Homer," painted for a ceiling in the Louvre, gave an excellent opportunity of preaching this gospel. The drawing is magnificent. The unity of purpose admirable. But the flat, cold, crude colour gives the impression of a frigid and uninteresting bas relief.
Ingres held strong and peculiar views on Colour. " It " is without precedent that a great draftsman should not " find the colour that exactly suits the character of his drawing." And again—" A thing well drawn is always well enough painted ". Colour was really of little use to him. He used it merely to emphasise the drawing in his pictures. " Rubens and Van Dyck," he would say, " may please the " eye, but they deceive it—they belong to a bad school of " Colour—the school of falsehood." His exquisite drawings, of which M. Bonnat has so large and precious a collection—those portraits in which a few light touches of the pencil give the most delicate modelling of flesh within the purest outline—were the part of his work for which he cared least. Ingres, the last of the great Pagans, wished to be re-membered as "painter of history and violinist—priest of " Raphaël, the Antique, and Mozart ". The influence of this strong, intolerant, and bigoted nature on the Art of France was prodigious. While Rector of the École des Beaux Arts he taught the students—to use his own words—" to see " and copy nature by the help of the Antique and Raphaël".
One of almost his last works, is perhaps his best known and his most charming—" La Source ". Begun as a study in 1824, he turned it into a picture in 1856, when he was seventy-six. It was exhibited in the Great Exhibition of 1862, in London ; and is now in the Louvre. " C'est un " morceau de nature, et c'est une vision."
Examples in the Louvre :--
Homère déifié, 1827. 417.
Roger délivrant Angélique, 1819. 419.
OEdipe intèrrogeant le Sphynx, 1808. 421.
La Source, 1856. 422.
Chérubini, portrait, 1842. 418.
M. and Mme. Rivière. 426, 427.
L'Odalisque et l'Esclave.
Napoléon I. sur son Trône, Invalides.
Portrait of himself at 24. Mme. Devançay. Venus Anadyomène. Francesca di Rimini ; Chantilly. St. Symphorien, Cathédral, Autun.
Voeu de Louis XIII., Cath., Montauban.
La Belle Zélie, Musée de Rouen.
PRUD'HON, PIERRE (b. Cluny, 1758 ; d. Paris, 1823),-though he does not belong to the Classics, was so completely their contemporary that he must be spoken of with them. A charming and unexplained apparition, Pierre Prud'hon may be said to belong to no school, no group, no time. He followed no one. He left no successor. For his only pupil, Mlle. Mayer, died before him ; and her talent was the outcome of a passionate tenderness for the unhappy master, to whom her love brought the only consolation of his life. Prud'hon belongs to the school of Corregio and Leonardo more than to any other. " He seems to have been raised up " to bridge over the transition between the eighteenth century " and modern painting. He inherits from the one the senti-" ment and pursuit of grace ; he maintains the tradition " of plump little loves ; but. he already possesses all the " melancholy of a new age ; an intimate sadness mingles " even with his smile—reflex of a cruel and recent experience. "
The thirteenth child of a poor mason at Cluny, Pierre Prud'hon was brought up by the monks of the famous Abbey. The pictures there inspired him with a love of drawing, which soon developed in so marked a manner that the Bishop of Macon remarked it, and sent the boy to the admirable François Devosges, at Dijon. Devosges, to whom Rude owed so much (see Rude), was director of the School of Fine Arts at Dijon. Under his teaching Prud'hon made rapid progress ; and in 1780 Devosges and an enlightened amateur, M. de Joursanvault, sent the young man to Paris with a letter to Wille the engraver. There he stayed three years ; and on his return to Dijon obtained the triennial prize established by the States of Burgundy, and went to Rome to finish his education. Here he chose a line of his own. Though he studied the antique in order to " paint beautiful forms," he only used it as a means to an end. And his enthusiasm went forth to Corregio and Leonardo rather than to Raphaël and Michael Angelo—Leonardo, " my master " and my hero, the inimitable, the father, the prince, the " first of all painters ".
On his return to Paris in 1789, life began for him in all its sadness and cruelty. Unknown and poor, he had committed the folly—unpardonable in most cases, and especially so in that of the artist—of marrying young. Worst of all he had married badly. His wife was a woman of detestable temper. And his whole life was poisoned by the misery she brought on him. It is pathetic to think of the surroundings in a garret in the rue Cadet—poverty—reproaches from the "wife —tears from the numerous and half-starved children—in which for several years Prud'hon produced those enchanting -dreams of the loves of Cupid and Psyché, " L'Amour réduit .à la raison," " L'Union d'Amour et de l'Amitié," and so forth. For a time he had to gain a scanty living by drawings for the heads of official papers, for brevets—even for bonbon boxes. Among these, little chefs d'oeuvres may be found. 'Then escaping for a time from Paris, he employed him-self while with some relations in the country, on the charming illustrations for the Amours pastorales de Daphnis et Chloé.
On his return to Paris in 1797, David and Girodet turned a cold shoulder on him. He was too much given to the ways of " Boucher de ridicule mémoire to suit them. Gros was kind to him, but anything but encouraging. " De '" la famille et du talent," he said. " C'est plus qu'il n'en faut "pour mourir à la peine." But he added, " Celui-ci ira plus '" loin que moi ; il enfourchera les deux siècles avec des " bottes de sept lieues ".
At last however, through the engravings of his lovely drawings, Prud'hon's name became known. In the Salon of 1799 he exhibited his first large painting, " La Sagesse ramenant la Vérité sur la Terre ". And it was ordered for a ceiling at Saint-Cloud. Lanois employed him to decorate the Salon of his hotel (now Hotel Rothschild, rue Laffite). His most important decorative works followed—the ceiling of the Salle grecque, medallions in the Salle des Antonins. The " Triomphe de Bonaparte, or la Paix," and " Minerve conduisant le Génie des Arts à l'immortalité " secured him popularity, despite the opposition of the Classics. And Bonaparte not only ordered the charming portrait of Joséphine in the park of Malmaison, but after his second marriage appointed Prud'hon drawing master to the Empress Marie-Louise. From 1808 to 1814 he produced his very best works—delightful portraits of women—Mme. Copia, Mme. Jarre, and Mlle. Mayer ; " L'enlèvement de Psyché," "Le Zéphyr qui se balance," portraits of the roi de Rome, and decorative and allegoric works connected with the marriage of Napoleon.
During his later years he painted several pictures in collaboration with Mlle. Mayer, whose tender devotion consoled him for the desertion of his wife. But his friend's terrible suicide in 1821 broke his heart. His last pictures—" La famille malheureuse," the " Christ en Croix," a drawing of the " Portement de Croix," and a sketch " l'Ame délivrée "—show the effect of this tragedy on his mind. And he died in February, 1823.
Many of his pictures, such as the famous " Justice et, Vengeance poursuivant le Crime " (Louvre, 747), are so. injured by bitumens that it is difficult to get any just idea, of his colour from their cold black shadows. The best examples are :—`
Portraits of l'Impératrice Joséphine. 751. Mme. Jarre. 752. Le naturaliste Bruun Neergaard. 753. Baron Denon. 754.
L'enlèvement de Psyché. 756.
Etc., etc., etc.
Portrait, M. de Talleyrand, Ville de Paris.
Assumption of the Virgin, Hertford House.
Mme. Copia, M. Bischoffsheim.
ISABEY, JEAN-BAPTISTE (b. Nancy, 1767 ; d. Paris, 1855),. —miniature painter and lithographer, was a pupil of David's. He was premier peintre to the Empress Joséphine ; director of the decorations of the Opera ; and assistant conservator of the Musée Royal. His miniatures are of world-wide reputation, and represent the most distinguished personages, of the Revolution and Empire. His drawings and paintings of people and contemporary official events are admirable. The well-known " Congrès de Vienne," and the " Revue du premier Consul dans la cour des Tuileries," are in the possession of H.M. the Queen.
ISABEY, LOUIS-GABRIEL-EUGENE (b. Paris, 1833; cl. 1886) was son of J. B. Isabey, and a painter of great distinction.
His pictures are mostly marine or ceremonial. But all possess fine qualities of colour and composition and true beauty.
The " Bois de Varangeville," and the " Manoir Ango " are admirable specimens of his landscapes, which have much in common with de Wint. The provincial museums in France contain many of his sea-ports, etc.