The Peasant Painters
( Originally Published 1899 )
THE great struggle for liberty and truth in Art, begun by Géricault and Delacroix, and carried on by the landscape painters in the thirties, reached a further stage in the forties. For twenty-five years the public and the Institute had waged war against the Romantics who rebelled against a false classicism, and the Naturalists who dared to paint nature as they saw it. They now found themselves confronted with a fresh development—one destined to affect the art of the whole civilized world—confronted with two men to whom the honour belongs of having once and for all defied and shaken off the oppressive and deadening tyranny of academic tradition—with two men who dared to paint the human beings about them with the same passion for truth, that their friends and associates showed in landscape.
These men—" the Realists," as they were contemptuously called—have completed the work of the modern revolution. They have changed the whole modern outlook on Art. They have shown us the truth. They have shown us that the peasant is no longer a sort of stage property, merely to be used to embellish a landscape, set up in becoming clothes with a lamb or a milkpail at the turn of a road or the corner of a wood. They have shown us that there is deep significance—poetry, pathos, tragedy and comedy, in the everyday life of the fields and of the workshop. They have shown us that the painter,. if he would indeed be a " realist," must see the spirit as well as the mere matter. That there are beautiful as well as ugly sides to life. That the artist who chooses what is merely hideous or revolting, is as little worthy to be called a realist, as the other who refuses to see that beautiful young women with smooth hair, white hands, and untanned skin, are not commonly found gleaning corn or herding cattle in French fields.
To Gustave Courbet and Jean François Millet this great revolution is due.
The "Discovery of the Peasant," as it has been called, which created so wild an outcry in the middle of the century, is now not only an accepted fact, but its results are seen in every exhibition we enter. In France, in England, in Holland, in Belgium, in America, every show, little or big, swarms with Peasant Life, and le brave ouvrier. And we are apt to forget that before the advent of J. F. Millet, Gustave Courbet, and later on Bastien-Lepage, pictures of the actual peasant, in the joys and the sorrows of his life, were absolutely non-existent. And further—what gives such deep value and significance to this movement is, that these men painted the life that was their own, the people and places and animals among which they had lived from childhood. In a word, the pictures of these men are, one and all, the expression of the Democratic Spirit. And the more true they are—the nearer they get to the spirit of the fields, the woods, the workshop, the barn—the closer they keep to the actual, always seen with that divining of the hidden truth, that we call " the artistic sense "—so much the finer are their pictures as works of Art.
Moreover, the individual temperament, and the race instincts of each of these artists, leave their distinct traces on his work. The French peasant, the peasant of the north especially, is by nature serious and grave, with a touch of melancholy. " L'ouvrier de Paris est un révolté—le pay
san au contraire est un résigné," it has been well said. And that resignation is nowhere more strongly shown than in the works of J. F. Millet, the peasant painter. For he, and his successor, Bastien-Lepage, painted their own life, the life of their families, the life of their villages. With Millet and Bastien-Lepage we get the peasant as they knew him, each in their own province. The peasant of Normandy and the Seine-et-Marne—the peasant of the great plains of the Meuse. With Courbet, the revolutionary, we get not only the life of the Jura peasant—the life of the Jura forests with its roedeer and its hounds—but the life of the "révolté" —of the workman of the city, the maker of émeutes, the builder of barricades. While Lhermitte shows that although he has travelled by another road, he has also arrived at the truth. He is with the people, not of them. In his pictures we feel that it is an expression of the dramatic sense, the strong sympathy of the artist who apprehends the situation. Not the man of the people painting the drama of his own life.
When, however, we come to the work of the highly popular artist, Jules Breton, we feel at once that his pictures, charming as they are, lack the truth, the force, the power, that " vérité qui empoigne," in fine, the very qualities which make the work of the other artists of such extreme value to the Art of the nineteenth century. Jules Breton is a painter of pleasant things, of beautiful things—yet of things not as they are, but as they might be in some better world. We see that although there was a certain feeling for truth in some of his earliest pictures, such as the "Bénédiction des Blés," this was cast aside for deliberate compositions, painted from carefully selected, pre-eminently suitable peasant models. His pictures are not pictures of real people, in the joys and sorrows and hardships of their everyday life. They are not pictures of real people painted out of doors, in the air and light of the country in which they live.
" Dégager l'idéal du réel, c'est bien là le travail de l'artiste, " et qu'est ce que l'Idéal dans l'Art si ce n'est l'essence du " Vrai."' It is the truth that these men have taught us. It is the truth henceforth that we demand ; not some pretty, untruthful idealism, from which we must sooner or later shake ourselves free. We want the real truth. Not a mere sordid imitation of the outside of things : but the greater truth, "l'essence du Vrai," which gives us not only the faithful rendering of the outer semblance, but the hidden spirit, that inner radiance which is the life.
MILLET, JEAN-FRANÇOIS, (b. Gréville (Manche), 1814 ; d. Barbizon, 1875).-Jean François Millet came of good peasant stock, who had lived for many generations in the hamlet of Gruchy, in the Commune of Gréville, near Cherbourg. His father, though he worked hard in the fields was an artist at heart, alive to the beauties of nature. " Normandy peasants " are like Scottish country folks, for though generally poor "they are frequently very well trained and deeply read." And at eighteen, when his father, seeing the lad's talent, consented to his going to Cherbourg to learn to paint, Jean François could read his Bible and his Virgil in Latin ; and these remained his favourite books.
For a time he studied with Mouchel in Cherbourg, who prophesied he would be " a great painter ". But in 1835 his father's death forced him, as eldest son, to return to Gruchy to manage the farm. This he did quite simply, with calin resignation. His mother and grandmother, however, realized the immense sacrifice. And in 1836 they sent him back to Cherbourg, where he worked with Langlois, himself a pupil of Gros. Langlois, who Millet was already able to help with his pictures, obtained a grant for him of £16 a year from the Municipal Council of Cherbourg. This was increased by the council of the province to £40 ; and in December, 1836, he started for Paris. Here, after a time, he entered Paul Delaroche's studio, where the master disliked him and he learnt little. In the next few years he supported himself by painting nude figure pictures and portraits ; and in 1840 sent a portrait of his father to the Salon. It however made no impression. At Cherbourg he was asked to paint a portrait of the deceased mayor from a miniature. And here his respect for truth began to stand in his way. For he used a model for the hands of his portrait ; and this model was a labouring man, who had also been in prison. That the respected late mayor's hands should be painted from a criminal, deeply shocked the excellent provincials. The council refused to pay for the picture ; and many of his friends turned against him.
In 1841 Millet married Mlle. Pauline Virginie Ono of Cherbourg ; and went to Paris in 1842, when a portrait was refused at the Salon. In 1844 he sent in the "Laitière " in oils, and " La Leçon d'èquitation " in pastel. This latter "was greatly admired by Diaz for its colour, and by Thoré " for its harmony ".1 This was the one ray of light in years of poverty, distress, and discouragement. For his troubles grew apace ; and as a climax, in April, 1844, his wife died.
The next year matters began to mend a little. His portrait painting grew more popular in Cherbourg. He was even offered the post of drawing-master to the College, which he declined. And as he could not bear to face Paris again without a home, at the end of the year he married Mlle. Catherine Lemaire of Cherbourg—the devoted and courageous Madame Millet, who only died in 1895. On their way to Paris, Millet and his wife spent a month at Havre, where he painted many portraits and the " Offering to Pan," now at Montpellier, and also had a small exhibition which brought him popularity and a little money. At this period he painted numbers of small pictures of nude figures with great skill. But on accidentally hearing himself called " Millet, who only paints naked women," he determined to give up the nude entirely. This is a matter of regret, for such a picture as
L'Amour Vainqueur " is of the highest value for its beautiful drawing and sentiment as well as for the richness of its colour.
Millet now began to gather friends about him—Diaz was the first and the warmest. His picture of " OEdipus taken from the tree," was well noticed in the Salon of 1847 by Théophile Gautier and Thoré, who both prophesied that the painter would become famous. In the same year he drew the well-known crayon portrait of himself. And in the year of revolution, though only just recovering from severe illness, he sent his " Vanneuse " to the Salon, where it was given a place of honour in the Salon Carré.
In 1849 Millet left Paris, taking his wife and babies to Barbizon. This move was partly to avoid the cholera : but chiefly because he longed for the pure country air to breathe, and for peasants to paint. Rousseau and Diaz were already settled there. And here Millet made his real home. He had now found his true vocation. To the Salon of 1850-51 he sent one of his finest pictures — the first " Sower " ; followed in 1851 by " Going to labour ". And for the next twelve years he painted at his very best. The " Repas des Moissonneurs " in the Salon of 1853, gained him a second class medal. And in 1855 his " Greffier " was secretly bOught by Rousseau for 4000 francs. For though their merit began to be recognised to some degree, the pictures did not sell ; and by this time, Millet with his large and rapidly increasing family, was harassed by debts, and sorely wanted money. The misery of his life has been greatly exaggerated. But that from 1850 to 1860 the struggle for life was a very hard one, there is no doubt. His want of method, his dreamy disposition, his generous, hospitable nature, kept him in constant difficulties. But even at their worst, nothing hindered his painting. In 1856 he painted the superb " Berger au Parc ". The " Glaneuses " were in the Salon of 1857 ; and the famous Angelus " in that of 1859.
In 1860, Millet, who was still pressed for money, entered into a contract with M. Arthur Stevens of Paris, brother of M. Alfred Stevens the well-known Belgian painter. By this, the dealer agreed to buy all Millet's works for three years, allowing him £40 a month ; paying him at the rate of £4 for drawings, and as much as £120 for the more important pictures. During these years Millet painted among other pictures
L'homme A la Houe," " La Naissance du Veau," " La Tondeuse," " La Cardeuse," " La Gardeuse d'oies," etc. And about the same time the grand and little-known picture, " Maternité ". In the Salon of 1865 he exhibited " La Bergère ". This picture is now in the collection of M. Chauchard ; and hangs opposite the " Angelus," with the " Sheepfold at night " between them. In colour, composition, and feeling, the Bergère is one of the most beautiful of all Millet's pictures.
The Exposition Universelle of 1867 gave Millet the opportunity of a magnificent display—Rousseau being president of the Jury. He sent to it the " Glaneuses," the " Bergère," the " Angelus," the " Tondeuse," the " Berger au Parc," " Death and the Woodcutter," the " Parc à Moutons," the " Potato Planters," and the " Potato Gatherers ". For this splendid collection he received a first class medal. But against this great success, which thoroughly established his reputation, came the death of Rousseau in December of the same year—a blow which completely unnerved Millet and seriously affected his health. In 1868 he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. And when the appointment was mentioned at the meeting in the Salon Carré of the Louvre, the authorities, who had been a little doubtful as to how the artists would receive it, were completely disconcerted for a minute or two at the burst of loud, prolonged, sincere applause that greeted Millet's name.
He was now at the height of any fame he attained during his life. Acknowledged as a master, though still detested by the classics, he was named one of the Jury of the Salon. His pictures sold more easily, and for better prices. Unhappily, however, his health began to fail seriously in 1870 ; and frequent illnesses interfered with his work. The Republican Government gave him a commission in 1874 for four decorative panels for the Pantheon—" The Four Seasons ". He at once began charcoal sketches for them. But it was too late. Throughout the autumn his feebleness increased. And on the 20th of January, 1875, he died, surrounded by his devoted family.
Les Glaneuses. 644.
Le Printemps. 643.
Église de Gréville. 641.
L'Angelus ; La Bergère ; Le Parc A Moutons (nuit), Coll. of M. Chauchard, Paris.
L'Amour Vainqueur ; L'Angelus (pastel) ; and forty to fifty drawings, J. S. Forbes, Esq.
Pictures in the collections of Hon. Sir John Day ; James Donald, Esq. ; Alexander Young, Esq., etc.
In public galleries in New York and Boston. And, The Sower, La Tondeuse, Femme menant boire sa vache, and many others, Coll. Quincy Shaw, Esq., Boston, U.S.A.
COURBET, GUSTAVE (b. Ornans (Doubs), 1819 ; d. Tour de Peilz (Suisse), 1877).-With Gustave Courbet, the son of a wealthy farmer of Ornans in the Doubs, we find different expression of Democratic Art to that of J. F. Millet. The boy was destined by his ambitious father for the bar. But even at the little seminary at Ornans, he showed more aptitude for drawing than for lessons. And years after, one of his school-fellows, Monsignor Bastide, would speak of " un portrait épouvantable que fit de moi mon ami Courbet " à quinze ans ".
Nature was more attractive to the young " savage " than books. Nature round Ornans is indeed attractive. And young Courbet loved his native country and all that pertained to it, with passion. When at twenty he was sent to Paris to " faire son droit," he hastened to do something quite else. He had learned " the principles of art " from a painter, M. Flageoulet, at Besançon. And as soon as he arrived in Paris law was thrown to the winds ; he frequented the studios of Auguste Hesse and Steuben, and copied the Dutch, Flemish and Venetian masters with a sort of " frenzy ". But he was too much of a country man to be happy in Paris. He needed the clear air, the free, out-door life of his beautiful Jura country, and most of his year was spent in his old home. The life of the fields, the woods, the village, he knew and loved. And this was what he set himself to paint. A Republican by education and inclination, he was further penetrated by a passionate sympathy for the working classes. Among them he began to find subjects for his pictures. And after the revolution of 1848, he threw himself with renewed enthusiasm into this line of thought. It is significant, however, that Courbet's first picture in the Salon of 1844 was a portrait of himself. He was a prey to an overweening vanity. I have been told by one who was his intimate friend, that there was one subject on which M. Courbet would talk for ever, and that was " M. Courbet himself ". Therefore from 1844 we get pictures of Courbet standing, Courbet sitting, Courbet smoking, Courbet reading—in fact, Courbet at every hour of the day.
In 1849, before the political reaction had begun, Courbet received a second class medal at the Salon for the "Après diner à Ornans ". This put him hors concours, i.e., permitted him to exhibit henceforth without passing the Jury of the Salon. The next year he determined to make his name famous, and sent nine pictures to the Salon—two landscapes, four portraits, and three large compositions—" L'enterre-ment d'Ornans," " Les Casseurs de Pierres," " Le Retour de la Foire ". The reaction was in full tide, and these pictures raised a storm of fury. The works of art as such were never thought of. It was the supposedly dangerous socialistic suggestions of their subjects which exasperated the authorities. And the exasperation was increased by Courbet's second class medal, which enabled him to exhibit as many more Stonebreakers and Village Funerals as he chose. It is safe to say that no artist has ever been treated to such indignities in the way of criticism as Courbet. But here again his extraordinary vanity came in. After the 2nd of December, 1851, as his men of the people gave such offence, he deter-mined to try peasant women. So in the next three years we get his " Baigneuses," " Fileuse," " Cribleuses de Blé ". But they were as little appreciated as the others. And now laughter was added to abuse. Courbet's vanity, his intense desire for personal success, forced him on. If he could not capture that success with one set of subjects he must find another. Unlike Millet and Rousseau, he could not fight a losing battle for the sake of an ideal. And though he was never untrue to his studies of humanity, he laid them aside for awhile, devoting himself more exclusively to nature—to forest, sea, and sky, green leaves and snow, animals and flowers.
Before doing so, however, he painted in 1855 a singular picture, " L'atelier du peintre—allégorie réelle," in which he summed up the last seven years of his life—the types with whom he had been occupied. On the right the beggar, the labourer, the tradesman, the priest, the poacher, the croque-mort. On the left his friends ; among them portraits of Baudelaire, Champfleury, Proudhon, Promayet, Bruyas.. While between these groups, Courbet himself sits painting a landscape of Ornans. In this same year he painted the magnificent " Homme blessé," and his own portrait, known as " l'Homme à la ceinture de cuir ". These were both bought by the State in 1881, and are now in the Louvre. Both these pictures are painted with such reticence and care, that it is curious to recollect that they were supposed in 1855 to be revOlutionary in execution as well as in feeling.
The greater part of every year Courbet spent wandering through the mountains about his old home, or in journeys to Montpellier and Berry. With a gun beside his palette, the great preacher of " pleine air " produced such pictures as the "Biche forcée à la neige," "Le Cerf à l'eau," " Les Braconniers," " La Curée," " L'hallali du Cerf ". As I have said, Courbet courted success. And success began with his " Fighting Stags," in 1861, which twenty years later was bought by the State, and is now in the Louvre. But in 1866 came his greatest triumph, with the " Remise des Chevreuils au Ruisseau de Plaisirs Fontaine ". Thanks to the public spirit of certain gentlemen, this is also in the Louvre. It is hardly possible to imagine a more exquisite rendering of nature than this picture of the harbour of the dainty Roe-deer, secure in their cool, shady retreat, beside the stream in the Jura valley. This picture, and the " Casseurs de Pierres," perhaps show us Courbet's genius at its very best. The poetry of nature in one. In the other a masterly rendering of the toil, the weariness, the dull monotony of the labourer's life.
Many of his nude pictures are fine. The drawing and texture are admirable. But the colour of his flesh is often so cold, that it leaves the impression on the eye of a dead rather than of a living body. This is specially noticeable in the famous " Femme au perroquet ".
Courbet's system, as he himself explains it, was to replace the cult of the ideal by the sentiment of the real. " Savoir " pour pouvoir, telle fut ma pensée. Être à même de traduire " les moeurs, les idées, l'aspect de mon époque, selon mon " appréciation ; être non seulement un peintre, mais encore " un homme ; en un mot, faire de l'art vivant, tel est mon " but." This excellent explanation of his position as a " Realist " prefaced the catalogue of a private exhibition of his works in 1855. And after, as he considered, regenerating modern painting, he thought, unfortunately, that he was equally capable of regenerating humanity.
As time went on he became more and more incensed against all authorities, political or artistic. And partly from conviction, partly from pose, partly from the desire for notoriety, he lavished abuse on " Them," as he termed all those in authority. In 1870 he was nominated Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. This filled him with indignation. And he refused in such a letter as has seldom been sent to the Minister of Fine Arts.
Then came the war of 1870, and the Commune of 1871. Courbet now seems to have lost his head completely. After the 4th of September, Jules Simon made him President of the Commission of Fine Arts. And one of his first acts was to ask that the Vendôme Column might be removed from Paris, to efface all traces of the Empire, whether First or Third. While at the same time, by one of those singular contradictions we sometimes meet with in Paris during times of excitement, he was full of concern for the safety of the Arc de Triomphe ; and one at least of his proposals for its preservation gave rise to more amusement than confidence. But the Column was his bête-noir. And during the Commune, when he was made Directeur des Beaux Arts, others who sympathised with this foolish fury against a historic monument encouraged him in his desire for its destruction. On the 12th of April, therefore, a decree appeared, ordering the demolition of the Column. As all know, it was pulled down. But Courbet's actual share in the matter has never been fairly demonstrated. It was convenient to throw the whole odium upon him. And when he was arrested at the beginning of June, 1871, he was condemned to six months imprisonment, and to defray the whole cost—some 400,000 francs—of the reconstruction of the Column.
The unfortunate artist eventually managed to cross the frontier ; and spent the last years of his life at La Tour-de-Peilz, where he still succeeded in producing some fine works, such as " La Truite," and the portrait of his father. But his health and spirits were broken. And he died in 1877.
Examples in Louvre :
L'enterrement à Ornans. 143.
L'homme blessé. 144.
Combat de Cerfs. 145.
Remise des Chevreuils au ruisseau de Plaisirs fontaine. 146.
L'homme à la Ceinture de cuir. 147.
Le Philosophe Trapadoux, Coll. M. Antonin Proust.
Les Casseurs de pierres, Coll. M. Binant.
Biche forcée sur la neige, Coll. M. le Comte de Douville-Maillefeu.
La Femme au Perroquet, M. M. Durand-Ruel. Paysage, Alexander Young, Esq.
L'Immensité, Constantine A. Ionides, Esq.
BASTIEN-LEPAGE, JULES, (b. Damvilliers, 1848 ; d. Paris, 1884),—the son of Claude Bastien, one of the small peasant-proprietors of the Meusian district, was born at Damvilliers, a village near Verdun, which in the days of François I. had been strongly fortified. Madame Bastien's father, M. Le-page, a retired tax-collector, made his home with the family, his little pension helping to keep the household in comparative ease. There was no lack of refined tastes in the family. Claude Bastien drew well ; "the mother embroidered '' patterns of her own tracing " ; and the delightful old grand-father, so charmingly described by M. André Theuriet in " Sous Bois," was renowned all the country over for the beauty of his flowers.
As a tiny child, Jules showed an uncommon talent for drawing, which was fostered by his father, who made him draw some object in the room every evening before going to bed—believing that his talent would help him later on to a post in the administration of forests. At eleven Jules went to the College of Verdun. And here his artistic gifts attracted so much attention that M. Fouquet, the drawing master, told him he ought to be an artist. The idea grew in the boy's mind. He cared for nothing but drawing. And when he left college at eighteen, he declared, to the utter dismay of his parents, that he wished to go to Paris and study painting, instead of trying for the safe official post for which their sacrifices had prepared him. The father and grandfather opposed what seemed to them so wild and reckless a scheme. His mother alone pleaded for him, in spite of her horror of the unknown perils of the great city. But happily a relation in the Bureau des Postes in Paris suggested a way out of the difficulty. And in 1867 Jules qualified as assistant in the Post Office, and went to Paris as a supernumerary clerk. Here for six months he lived two lives in one—sorting letters from 3 A.M. to 7 A.M. ; and spending every free moment of the day at the courses of the École des Beaux Arts. Naturally he broke down under the strain. His relations were at last convinced that it was useless to oppose so fixed a determination. His mother actually went out to field work to earn a little money for .her boy. The grandfather contributed all he could out of his slender savings. And when the Council-General of the Dept. de la Meuse added an allowance of 600 francs, Jules, with barely enough to keep body and soul together, entered M. Cabanel's studio in 1868, and became a regular student at the École des Beaux Arts.
The first picture he exhibited was the portrait of a young architect in a green coat, at the Salon of 1870. It attracted some attention. But that summer War was declared. Jules joined a company of francs-tireurs under the painter Castellani. He was wounded in the chest by a fragment of a shell, in the trenches. The same day another shell struck his studio, and ruined the picture he had just painted—" La Source " ; and when peace was signed he went home broken in health, to recover slowly in his native air, and paint his neighbours for practice. When he returned to Paris in 1872, the struggle for life was harder than ever in the impoverished country. But his quiet determination carried him through ; though he was forced to turn his hand to anything for a living, from fans and shop-signs to news-paper illustrations.
In 1873 a perfumer ordered an advertisement for his wares ; and Jules produced a little picture after the manner of Watteau—youths and maidens coming hand-in-hand to drink of the fountain of youth in a green meadow. He wished to send it to the Salon. The perfumer consented on condition that it bore his address and the name of his special cosmetic ! This naturally could not be. The bargain came to an end ; and the picture was exhibited as " Le Printemps ". To the Salon of 1874 he sent another panel of the same type—" La Chanson du Printemps," in which the influence of Puvis de Chavannes is plainly seen. But it also displays a touch of realism. The little peasant girl listening to the dancing Cherubs was a child from his own village ; and the red roofs of Damvilliers are seen in the background.
A far more important work, however, was exhibited in the same Salon—the noble portrait, " Mon grand père," signed for the first time with the name " Jules Bastien-Lepage " ; for Jules out of gratitude and affection to his mother's family had adopted their name. The picture was the event of the Salon. A crowd gathered before it the moment the doors had opened ; and Bastien-Lepage found himself famous. The kindly old man, in his every-day clothes, painted actually " en plein-air," sitting among the flowers that he loved in his garden, struck a note so new, so powerful—the drawing was so superb—the painting so admirable—the whole thing was so instinct with life—that though the unconventional methods raised great discussion, the talent and strength of the new painter were beyond dispute. This success brought the young artist not only fame but commissions. M. Hayem (the distinguished amateur) ordered his portrait, which appeared in 1875, with " La Communiante ". This latter picture marked a new departure. Its extraordinarily fine brushwork, its extreme delicacy and finish, its uncompromising truth of detail, recall the work of the old Flemish masters, in strong contrast to the broader methods of his earlier pictures. And it began the series of small portraits which forin so remarkable a part of Bastien-Lepage's work.
In this same year (1875) he determined to compete for the Prix de Rome. The merits of his picture " L'annonciation aux Bergers " have never, I think, been sufficiently recognized. It only obtained the second prize, the first going to Comerre, a more academic artist. But the next morning Bastien-Lepage's fellow competitors had fastened a palm branch to its frame—a silent token of their opinion. Keenly disappointed, more for the sake of his parents than for himself, Bastien-Lepage competed again the next year. But " Priam at the feet of Achilles " was so uncongenial a subject that he failed once more—happily perhaps for his own talent. And he went back to Damvilliers to work out the great problem he had set himself—how to paint the Peasant in the open air. Had he gone to the Villa Medicis we might never have had " Les Foins," the " Potato gatherers," or " Jeanne d'Arc ".
He was now in full tide of work, prosperous and famous, to the delight of his parents, whose pride in his pictures and his success was intense. In 1876, with M. André Theuriet and his brother Emile, he took the walking tour in the Argonne, so enchantingly recorded as " La Chanson du Jardinier " in Sous Bois. But that autumn brought the first break in the happy home in the Grande Place. Claude Bastien died suddenly of congestion of the lungs, to the intense sorrow of his son, who only found comfort in work. To the Salon of 1877 he sent the portraits of his parents. To that of 1878 the beautiful little portrait of M. André Theuriet, and his chef d'oeuvre, " Les Foins," now one of the treasures of the Luxembourg. He now spent the winter months in Paris — his brother Émile, who was studying Architecture, sharing his large studio in the Impasse du Maine. Each year saw some large composition of peasant life, as well as more of the exquisite little portraits.
In 1879 he paid his first visit to England, where he was warmly welcomed. He studied Rembrandt's etchings at the British Museum, painted portraits, sketched the shipping in the Thames, and spent the last day of his stay in making a silver-point drawing of the Prince of Wales, which developed into the splendid little Holbeinesque portrait in oils. On his return to Paris he received the Legion of Honour. And then went home to Damvilliers to paint the great picture he had dreamt of for years—" Jeanne d'Arc écoutant les Voix ", Noble and striking as is the figure of Jeanne—a real Meusian peasant—the picture, partly on account of the visualized " Voices," did not attain the success that the artist and his friends had hoped. The Médaille d'Honneur went to Aimé Morot's " Good Samaritan ". And for the first time Bastien-Lepage began to doubt his own powers—that saddest phase of depression that can befal the artist. But a second visit to England restored his confidence. And the next two years were the period of his most active production. In 1881 he made a short tour to Como and Venice. But Venetian art did not appeal to him. He was indeed " Le Primitif " that his friends loved to call him. And London, and the life of its streets, entertained and charmed him far more than Tintoret and Titian. In June, 1882, he paid his last visit to England, and painted M. Coquelin, Blackfriars Bridge, a large picture Of a flower girl, and the delightful little " Shoeblack ".
Popular as he was in London, he was if possible even more so in Paris. And his close friendship with the strange genius, Marie Bashkirtseff, became one of the important facts of his life. But the end of both the friends was nearer than any one dreamed. In 1883 a fatal malady was undermining his health though he concealed his sufferings, and no one guessed that the painter of " L'Amour au Village," fêted and acclaimed by all Paris, was stricken with a terrible and deadly disease. But soon the truth could no longer be hidden. His health failed fast. " A journey to Algiers was " recommended, and his ` valiant little mother,' as he called " her, who had never left home except for a few days, " at once prepared to accompany him." 1 Though at first he revived, nothing could stay the inevitable end. His brother Émile joined him, bringing news of the immense success of the exhibition of his works at Georges Petit's ; and in June he was taken back, slowly dying, to Paris. Marie Bashkirtseff was dying too ; and the last meeting of the two young geniuses is one of the saddest romances of modern days. Eleven days later Marie died. Jules Bastien-Lepage lingered for five weeks more ; and saying with a smile to his mother, " It is time for children to go to sleep," his sufferings ended on 9th December, 1884.
Les Foins, 1878, Luxembourg.
Portraits of " Mon Grand père," 1874 ; " Mes Parents " ; M. E. Bastien-Lepage ; S.A.R. le Prince de Galles, 1879, M. Emile Bastien-Lepage.
M. André Theuriet, 1878, M. André Theuriet. Mme. Sarah Bernhardt, 1879, M. Blumenthal. Jeanne d'Arc écoutant ses voix, Metropolitan Art Museum, New York.
La Saison d'Octobre, or The Potato Gatherers, 1879, George M'Culloch, Esq.
Going to School, J. S. Forbes, Esq.
LHERMITTE, LÉON-AUGUSTIN, (b. Mont-Saint-Père, Aisne).—M. Léon Lhermitte, a pupil of Lecoq-de-Boisbaudran, is one of the most vigorous of the living painters of the peasant. His earlier works are mostly in charcoal. And it is by these that he is best known in England, as these splendid black-and-white drawings of the life of the workshop and the fields have been exhibited in London at various times. He first exhibited a charcoal drawing in the Salon of 1864, " Les bords de la Marne " ; followed in 1865 by " Souvenir d'une vallée à Mont-Saint-Père," also in charcoal. In 1874 he received a third class medal ; and a second class in 1880. He was created chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1884 ; and is now officier.
His first important oil painting was exhibited in the Salon of 1874, " La Moisson ". Followed in 1876 by the charming " Lavage des Moutons ". In the Exposition Universelle of 1889 M. Lhermitte's oil pictures, " La Moisson," " Le Vin," " L'aïeule," " La paye des Moissonneurs," etc., made a profound impression by their power and truth. His pastels also, in the pavillon des Pastellistes, were of extraordinary vigour and great beauty.
Examples—Galerie du Luxembourg :
La paye des Moissonneurs, 1882 ; La vielle demeure (charcoal).
L'Aïeule, 1880, Museum of Ghent.
Les Vendanges, 1884, Metropolitan Art Museum, New York.
Le Vin, M. Henry Vasnier.
La Mort et le Bucheron, 1893, The Artist.
BRETON, JULES-ADOLFE, C.* (b. Courrières, Pas de Calais, 1827).-A pupil of Félix de Vigne and of Drolling, M. Jules Breton is one of the most popular of living French painters. At the age of twenty he entered the École des Beaux Arts. He received a third class medal in 1855, a second class in 1857, and first class in 1859. He was created chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1861 ; and is now commandeur. In fact his whole career has been one of remarkable success. For although he has devoted himself to the painting of pictures of the French peasant, he has always known how to con-ciliate the taste of the public. In colour and composition M. Jules Breton's work is very beautiful and attractive. But his pictures are so evidently painted from carefully selected, well-arranged peasant models, that they lack the ring of truth and conviction which the peasant pictures of Courbet, Millet, Bastien-Lepage, and Lhermitte convey. One of his earlier pictures, the " Bénédiction des Blès," now in the Luxembourg, was painted in 1857—the " Rappel des Glaneuses " in 1859—" Les Sarcleuses " in 1861.
M. Jules Breton is the head of a family of artists. His brother, M. Émile Breton, is a well-known and excellent landscape painter. So is his son-in-law, M. Adrien Demont. While his daughter, Mme. Virginie Demont-Breton, is one of the most powerful French painters of sea-shore and fisher-folk. Her picture " Le Plage " (1882) is in the Luxembourg. And the Museum of Ghent possesses her very fine " Loups de Mer " of 1885.
La Bénédiction des Blés (Artois), 1857.
Rappel des Glaneuses (Artois), 1859.
La Glaneuse, 1877.
Misère et désespoir, 1849, Musée d'Arras.
Plantation d'un Calvaire, 1859, Musée de Lille.
Many pictures in Provincial Museums.
Les Sarcleuses, M. le Comte Duchatel.
Étude pour le Pardon, J. S. Forbes, Esq.
Les Communiantes, 1884, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, Montreal.