Imaginative Painters - Decorative Painters
( Originally Published 1899 )
THAT the later years of the nineteenth century should witness a reaction in Art was but natural, and to be looked for in the necessary course of events. For a considerable period the success of the actual, of so-called "Realism," of the most material view of Art, had held its own triumphantly, insolently. It has only been needful in the last thirty years to walk through the annual exhibitions, in order to see that in the vehement revolt against the Academic, the Classic, the Moyen-Age—against all that has been included in the term of " Pompier "—the dramatic suggestions of literature or history were despised, and poetry, faith, imagination, scorn-fully swept aside as unworthy a moment's attention. In this revolt, the popular Art of the last thirty years has become for the most part a sort of lurid photography—every fait divers seen through windows thrown wide open upon reality, as it has well been said, taken instantaneously " life-size and likeness guaranteed ". And the work of art has too often become a mere record—painted it is true with skill and power—of the lowest tendencies of a morbid and neurotic society. Such are the depths to which " Naturalisin " in Art has fallen.
But we do not go to Art to be reminded of the base and hideous actualities of life. We are only too keenly aware of them. Saddened and disgusted with the brutalities of existence, we seek some refuge from ourselves. And we turn to Art to show us some fairer state of being—some calmer and loftier outlook on life—to revive our faith in the ultimate destinies of mankind—to elevate. and ennoble our thoughts, and kindle our aspirations—whether in the presentment of some poetic vision of nature, or in the mystic conceptions of Faith and Religion, or in heroic and transcendental dreams of humanity.
Though Corot—the divine Corot—was requested, civilly, by the extreme realists " to kill once and for all the nymphs " with whom he peopled his woods, and replace them by " peasants "—yet whether he painted nymphs or peasants, matters little in the message he has to give us. And the very reason that makes us stand dreaming before Corot's silvery visions, where the nymphs dance beside the waters of Lac Nemi or Ville d'Avray, is the same that makes us stand dreaming before Millet's " Bergère ". Both speak to us of the au delà—of that something beyond the mere outward seeming of nature, that satisfies the cravings of our imagination. And in France, some of the successors of Corot the poet, of J. F. Millet the mystic, moved by this piteous desire of human nature for some refuge in the arid waste of materialism, by this cry of the outraged soul for some mystery, for something to worship, have given themselves with ever-growing fervour and conviction to the ideal, to what is mystic and symbolic, to the contemplation of pro-found and exalted abstractions.
Through all the worst times of the worship of actuality, French Art has found an escape into regions of imaginative beauty by means of a purely national forin of expression. Decorative painting has been as much the possession of France since the sixteenth century, as it was the possession of Italy until that period. And in decorative painting—in vast schemes of colour and form—the artist's imaginative faculty has always found salvation. In the earlier half of the nineteenth century, the decorative tradition, dear to France, found a superb exponent in Eugène Delacroix. But he stood alone. And for a while decoration fell into abeyance, until Paul Baudry carried us into the gracious land of fable and f aerie, among Gods and Muses, and a race of human beings created by his own love of the beautiful, who died with him. But about 1860 a greater than Paul Baudry arose ; and the nobler works of the greatest decorative artist of the century began to be known—the master, who, with his " War and Peace," with his " Bois Sacré," with his " History of Ste. Geneviève," transports us into regions of pure thought, of lofty symbolism, of serene philosophy, in which a profound reverence for humanity is combined with a profound respect for nature. To Puvis de Chavannes the highest expression of ideal Art in France owes its birth—an expression at once so exalted in thought, so simple in the purity of its manifestation, as to satisfy the aspirations of the sage and the child.
But the revolt from materialism, from actuality, from what has well been termed " a brutal realism," has spread far beyond the limits of decorative painting. It has manifested itself in many ways ; for in the last thirty years many influences have been at work in Northern Europe. As with the Romantic movement of the twenties and thirties, literature has led the way in the new development ; and literature and plastic art once more show the same tendencies. Literature has become introspective. Art also turns to introspection. It endeavours to suggest ideas, rather than represent facts ; to reveal hidden subtleties of character ; to pourtray the in-tangible, the spiritual, the poetic, even the sublime. Nothing is too obscure, too mysterious, too mystic, for the brush. And while much of this modern art is decadent, an equivalent in painting or sculpture for the decadence of Baudelaire, of Verlaine, of Maeterlinck, of Ibsen, it is interesting and suggestive. For it forins part of the great revolt from realism towards idealism.
Though the actual work of the English Pre-Raphaelites is but little known in France, the growing appreciation of our two great English idealists, Mr. Watts and Sir E. Burne Jones, marks the strong reaction in French public taste against a terre à terre materialism. The influence of the painter-poet Gustave Moreau, whose death in April, 1898, is one of the most serious losses French Art could sustain, is a proof of this. Almost unknown in England, and hitherto rarely seen in France, Gustave Moreau's work shows singular affinities to that of our English idealists. Working for himself, for his own inner satisfaction, and for a very few enlightened amateurs who have been able to appreciate his great qualities, some small part of his work has been found in private galleries, difficult of access. The rest, his later work, has till now been absolutely unseen. But as Professor of l'École des Beaux Arts in succession to Elie Delaunay, Gustave Moreau's atelier became a centre of " militant originality," of pupils who the master has inspired with a sincere enthusiasm for Art and for his own views on Art, with an admiration and reverence without limit for the great masters and nature herself. Death has unlocked the doors of that inner sanctuary, to which even his pupils were not admitted. And the generosity of M. Charles Hayem has enabled the public to gain some idea of the artist's methods and aspirations, by a splendid gift of his pictures to the Luxembourg.
As I have already said the ideal, the mystic, the symbolic, are questions which occupy an increasing number of French artists. This pre-occupation, this desire for the au delà, manifests itself in the most singular ways, in the most unexpected places. If at one end of the scale we find the pure and lofty conceptions of Puvis de Chavannes, or the symbolism of Gustave Moreau's colour harmonies, at the other end we get such examples of perversion and bad taste as " Le Christ chez le Pharisien " or the " Descente de Croix " of the clever artist Jean Béraud, or " l'Hôte " of M. Blanche. Without going to such lengths as Jean Beraud, some artists, followers of Von Uhde and Skredswig, endeavour to modernize the sacred story-to express with sincerity and reverence the " passion of pity," by representations of Christ in modern surroundings, such as " L'Ami des humbles " of M. Lhermitte, or " Le Christ Consolateur " of M. Besson. Or place the " Flight into Egypt," and " Hagar and Ishmael," among the sand dunes of the Pas de Calais, or the tulip and hyacinth gardens of the Low Countries. Others bring all the resources of modern art to the painting of sacred pictures, as with M. Dagnan-Bouveret's "Last Supper," and the " Disciples at Emmaus ". Or use all that archaeological research and local colour can give, in such a set of illustrations of the New Testament as M. James Tissot's now famous series. Others again, prefer merely to indicate their poetic thought, leaving it to the divination of those to whom it speaks. M. Aman-Jean is haunted by the mystery of " l'éternel féminin ". And in his beautiful and decorative panels he endeavours as OEdipus before the Sphinx or Leonardo before Mona Lisa, to read the secret that lies hidden in her eyes or the enigma of her smile.
But the greater proportion of these artists are not con-tent with suggestion. Their thought must be clothed in very visible shape. Each " i " must be carefully dotted. If they do not aim so high as Divine apparitions or even as Angels, every one may make essay of Muses-- Muses who too often do not float, but apparently have been studied from very solid coryphées securely suspended by wires from the flies of a theatre. Such are the " Harmonies de la Nature " who inspire M. Collin's composer ; or Destrem's " Stet Capitolium fulgens ". And even (though we must speak of this artist with far more serious respect) M. Henri Martin's .seraphic beings who lead the Poet through the mystic wood, or his " Apparition de Clémence Isaure aux Troubadours," remind one a little too much of a pantomime.
But go where we will in these later days, the same tendency is manifested. M. Adrien Demont must needs call one of his charming landscapes " The Annunciation ". And strangest of all, the painter of the most rigid actualities of Soldiers and soldiering, M. Detaille, cannot withstand the temptation ; and in " Le Rêve " he has endeavoured to combine his usual methods with a touch of the au delà. But this has already been better dône, we cannot but recollect, in Raffet's great imaginative work, " La revue nocturne ".
BAUDRY, PAUL-JACQUES-AIMÉ, C.*, M. DE L'INST. (b. La-Roche-sur-Yon, Vendée, 1828 ; d. Paris, 1886).-The son of a Vendéan Sabotier, whose only recreation was his violin which he played to the stars in the stillness of the forest, Paul Baudry inherited from his father a love of silence, of nature, and of music. Indeed so strong was his talent for music that for a while it seemed likely that he would become the ménétrier or violinist of his native place. But his talent for drawing was yet stronger. And he had the rare good fortune of finding a really enlightened artist, Sartoris, a. pupil of Abel de Pujol, in the drawing master of the little town of Bourbon-Vendée, now known as la-Roche-sur-Yon.. Sartoris, struck with the child's remarkable gifts, persuaded the family he must be painter, not musician ; and at the end of three years declared he could teach him no more, but that he must go to Paris. The parents were poor. But Sartoris persuaded the municipal council of the little town to give the boy a pension of 600 francs a year. And at sixteen young Paul set out for Paris ; sad at bidding adieu to his home ; but registering a vow, as he passed the statue of General Travot, that he too would become famous and an honour to his native place.
In Paris he entered Drolling's studio ; and from that hour he lived wholly in his work, allowing no pleasure to distract his mind for a moment. He was the model pupil. In 1847, the first time he competed for the Prix de Rome at the École des Beaux Arts, he carried off the second prize. In the two following years, he found the subjects so trivial—" des sujets " à la fleur d'oranger "—that he felt success would be impossible ; for already his personality was making itself felt and his love of colour, brilliant, flashing colour, while the tradition of the École was cold and grey, was beginning to give him the reputation of a revolutionist. But in 1850 the " Zénobie poignardée et retrouvée par les bergers " en-chanted him ; and he carried off the premier Grand Prix triumphantly. In Rome he threw himself straight into the arms of the greatest masters of the Italian renaissance—and henceforth his only teachers were to be Raphael, Michael Angelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto, Correggio, Titian, and Veronese, especially the three latter.
His envois de Rome were treated with great severity by the members of the Institute in Paris ; even the beautiful " La Fortune et le jeune enfant," now in the Luxembourg, did. not find favour in their sight. But Baudry had come to man's estate, and dared to be himself. And after his return to Paris, the Salon of 1857 was a triumph for him, with this picture, four other compositions, and the portrait of Beu1é. In a moment he had stepped into the foremost rank of the younger artists in the estimation of the public. And the Salon of 1862 confirmed his triumphant position in twO branches of painting, with his portrait of M. Guizot, and the beautiful " Perle et la Vague ".
But Baudry had higher ambitions than a facile success as a fashionable portrait or genre painter. His dream was to revive the great traditions of Decorative painting, which seemed for a while in abeyance. In such manifestations of Art he felt that his love for colour, his desire for imaginative compositions in which he might realize those visions of grace and beauty which haunted him, could have full play. Money mattered little to him, provided he could but realize his ideal. He sought and found his first opportunities in the decorations of the Hotel Galliera, the Hotel of Mme. de Païva, and that of M. Fould (these latter were bought by the duc d'Aumale and removed to Chantilly). But his greatest work was yet to come to him. His old comrade and friend in Rome, M. Charles Garnier, was building the new Opera House in Paris. And he offered the decoration of the Foyer to Baudry. This was indeed the chance he had longed for. And the successful, popular artist, who might have become the richest, the most fashionable painter of the day, made the deliberate choice between present success and posterity. Every advantage was abandoned for the perfecting of this great scheme. The master—sought after, praised, and admired—determined to leave nothing undone that could ensure the success of his work. And we have the unexampled instance of an artist at the very height of his career going back to school—back to Rome, to the Villa Medicis, where the master of thirty-five becomes the student once more. He felt he needed fresh counsel from the mighty painters of the Renaissance. And for a year he worked harder than any young student—copying Michael-Angelo in the Sixtine Chapel for ten hours a day ; elaborating his great compositions at night ; shut up alone with his idea in the silence of the Chambre Turque. Then came a journey to England to copy the Raphael Cartoons ; another to Spain—but Velasquez had little to say to him—before setting to work. For ten years Baudry devoted himself to the Foyer of the Opera House. And when it was at last accomplished and exhibited in the Palais des Beaux Arts before being placed in position, the amazing quality of the work—the Triumph of Music, more especially music of the theatre—was realized—its vast extent, its extreme beauty, its imaginative power and charm.
Baudry's portraits form a most remarkable and characteristic part of his work. So also do his easel pictures. But it is as a decorative painter that he desired to be known ; and as one of the great Décoratifs of the century he will go down to posterity. His " Glorification de la Loi " for the Cour de Cassation, is his other most important decorative work. And the beautiful " Enlèvement de Psyché in a cupola of the gallery at Chantilly is another example. He was preparing a scheme of decoration for the walls of the Pantheon—the history of Jeanne d'Arc—and had made notes and sketches, when his untimely death in 1886 cut short this brilliant and deservedly successful career. In 1897 a statue to the master was erected in his native place ; and thus his boyish dream was realized.
"Historical painter, decorative painter, portrait painter, " Paul Baudry to the very end was a faithful artist, " enamoured of perfection, severe towards himself, as much "in love with the present as he was respectful to the past." '
Triumph of Music, Foyer of the Opera, Paris.
Glorification de la Loi, Cour de Cassation, Paris.
Les Heures, Hotel de Païva.
Rome, Florence, Naples, Genoa, etc., Hotel de Galliera.
L'enlèvement de Psyché ; Saint Hubert ; and three decorations from Hotel de M. Fould, Chantilly.
Les Noces de Psyché, ceiling, Mr. Vanderbilt, New York.
La Fortune et le jeune enfant, 1857 ; La Vérité, 1882 ;
Portrait, M. Peyrat, Sénateur, 1883, Luxembourg.
La Vague et la Perle, lately sold in Stewart Collection, New York.
Psyché et l'Amour, engraved by Waltner.
And many portraits.
PUVIS DE CHAVANNES, PIERRE, C.* (b. Lyons, 1824 ; d. October, 1898).—Since these pages went to press, not only France but the world at large has sustained an irreparable loss in the death of M. Puvis de Chavannes, a noble man as well as a noble artist, whose place can never be filled, because he was absolutely himself.
" A thinker who paints, rather than a painter who " thinks." Thus M. de Fourcaud describes the great artist, who stands supreme at the end of the nineteenth century.
In Couture's studio, which Puvis de Chavannes entered in Paris, he found nothing to satisfy him. And Ary Scheffer to whom he passed on, had hardly more to give him. At that moment confusion reigned in French Art. Among the militant party a profound disquiet was felt --Corot was still ignored—Millet and Courbet ostracised—the landscape painters feeling their way. On the other hand, the influence of Ingres was still dominant among the remnants of the dying and sterile classic school.
From 1850 to 1859 the doors of the Salon were closed to Puvis de Chavannes. His work during those years is but little known. But in 1859, the decoration of a dining-room in a villa for his brother at Lons-le-Saulnier, revealed his true vocation. As he himself expressed it, " Je sentis " autour de moi de l'eau pour nager ". The " Retour de la Chasse," now in the museum of Marseilles, was his first success. The next year, the municipality of Amiens—to their everlasting honour be it spoken—furnished him with a magnificent opportunity, of which he has made yet more magnificent use. The museum of Amiens was being rebuilt, and Puvis de Chavannes was called upon to decorate it. In the Salon of 1861 appeared " Peace " and "War "—the earliest of these decorations. Théophile Gautier was one of the first to acclaim the genius of the new master. " It is not canvas, " but the scaffolding and great wall spaces that this artist " needs," he cried with enthusiasm. To these two, Puvis de Chavannes added later the four glorious subjects on the great staircase—" Le Labour," "Le repos," " Ludus pro patria," and " Ave Picardia Nutrix ". Then from 1876 to 1878 came the " Childhood of Ste. Geneviève " in the Panthéon ; followed by a long series of triumphs of which I give a list later on.
Until Puvis de Chavannes arose, landscape had been banished from decorative painting. In landscape, in nature herself, he has found a new method. " Inventer dans un " art," says Poussin, " c'est penser dans cet art,—c'est " découvrir des harmonies propre à cet art." Puvis de Chavannes has discovered some of those harmonies. He has gone straight to nature for some of his loftiest conceptions. It is the familiar country of the Isle de France which is used to give us that sense of exquisite repose and purity in the " Childhood of Ste. Geneviève ". It is the plain of Picardy—that delightful land through which thousands rush without so much as a glance, as they hurry from Calais to Paris—which we recognise in the noble " Ave Picardia Nutrix ". And what is the setting of " Pauvre Pêcheur," save the flats of the mouth of the Seine ?
But this landscape, this inspiration of nature, is used with a lofty reticence to enhance the intellectual conception he would present. And his human beings symbolise types of humanity rather than actualities.
In his " Repos " we do not ask where is that country of lofty mountains, and cypress groves, and oleanders blossoming beside the river—we do not ask to what nation those noble and beautiful human beings belong to. We are content—yes, thankful—to believe that somewhere, some when, they have existed or will exist, even if it should but be in the mind of the poet. In his " Labour," it is of the toil of all the ages, strong, patient, heroic, that those calm and splendid forms in the vast landscape tell us—types and symbols of the forces that have built up the world. And why " Pauvre Pêcheur " moves us far more than any brutality of the " imitator of nature," of the terre à terre realist, is that he is no mere half-starved fisherman, but a type of sad humanity letting down his net beside the illimitable ocean of life.
In decorative painting it is not enough to cover an immense canvas with paint and people. The building for which it is destined, the exigencies of position, must be ever present to the artist's eye in his vision of the whole, which is to enhance the beauty of architectural line, that inflexible setting in which his conception is to live.
In his drawings and cartoons we may follow the manner in which M. Puvis de Chavannes works out his noble compositions. " Nothing is less complicated," says M. André Michel ; " the conception springs directly and frankly from " the very nature of the subject. The claim of literary " invention is reduced to the smallest possible limits. From " the first moment, plastic invention and construction " solicit and command the whole effort of his thought." Gradually the lines of the whole, always subordinated to the architectural setting, arrange themselves. The masses are balanced with a view to this setting ; the individual parts take more precise form and shape ; and by degrees the rhythm of the whole appears—each element of the future creation, with its own character and value in the synthesis which is being evolved.
It has been the fashion among certain persons to say that the master cannot draw, because by synthetic abbreviations—somewhat excessive at times—he has sacrificed and subordinated forins and movements to the exigencies of his general conception. But in decorative painting, sacrifice is more necessary to the power of the whole, than in any other branch of Art. It is only by deliberate sacrifices in form and in colour, that the master has been enabled to produce works of a truly incomparable greatness. And if his critics will but examine some of his drawings in charcoal, in sanguine, in pencil and silver-point—such as those, for instance, in the Luxembourg—they can easily satisfy themselves. He not only knows how to draw, but it is not possible to study nature more closely, or to find in nature herself more noble, more truthful, more rhythmic suggestions than those which M. Puvis de Chavannes uses to express his great conceptions life and poetic thought. His Art is purely French ; we find in it the best traditions of the French School—composition, eloquence, science, united to an unsurpassed love and reverence for nature. For this great artist has discovered how to ally the true classic sense with the modern spirit. Inter Artes et Naturam ! He is not afraid to seek for the purest classic feeling in his vision of Rouen of to-day, with. its factory chimneys and gothic spires ; or in the tranquil and fertile plain of Picardy. " And over the heads of " Italianizers or Ultramontanes he joins hands with the old " masters, founders of the French tradition—French, not " Latin or Roman—those who invented the opus francige num."
Retour de la Chasse, 1859, Musée de Marseille.
Masilia, Colonie Grecque ; Marseille, porte de l'Orient,. Hotel de Ville, Marseille.
Peace, and War ; Labour ; Rest ; Ave Picardia Nutrix ; Ludus Pro Patria, Musée d'Amiens. Doux Pays, 1882, Hotel de M. Bonnat.
Le Bois Sacré, cher aux Arts et aux Muses, 1884 ; La. Vision antique ; L'Inspiration chrétienne ; Le Rhone et la Saône, 1886, Musée de Lyon. Le grand Hémicycle de la Sorbonne, 1887-89. Life of Sainte Geneviève, Panthéon, Paris.
Inter Artes et Naturam, Musée de Rouen.
L'été ; L'hiver ; Victor Hugo remettant sa lyre à la Ville de Paris, Hotel de Ville, Paris.
La Lumière inspirateur des Muses, Public Library, Boston, U.S.
Pauvre Pêcheur, Musée du Luxembourg.
Décolation de St. Jean Baptiste, M. M. Durand-Ruel.
MOREAU, GUSTAVE, O.*, M. DE L'INST. (b. Paris, 1826 ; d. 1898).—A pupil of Picot, M. Gustave Moreau entered the École des Beaux Arts in 1846. Forty-five years later he was to return there as Professor. But meanwhile he was destined to encounter that bitter or disdainful opposition, which has been the lot of nearly all the greatest artists of the century. What Sir E. Burne-Jones has represented in English Art, that Gustave Moreau, consider-ably his senior, had already foreshadowed in France. For with both " the richness of technical beauty yields nothing " to the splendour of the symbol ". A poet and a colourist of most singular quality, M. Gustave Moreau has lived in and for his art. Undisturbed alike by the mistrust and misconception of the many, or by the unbounded admiration of the few, he has worked silently, steadfastly, giving himself wholly to the guidance of his imagination. Like Puvis de Chavannes—like all the greatest painters—he has gone to the pure and ever flowing spring of classic inspiration, where each may find what he needs. As did his real master, Chassériau,' whose death at thirty-seven deprived France of one of her most exquisite spirits, Gustave Moreau " endeavoured to envelop the powerful evocation of Delacroix in the hieratic form of Ingres ".
His career may be divided into two periods. In the first he exhibited— at rare intervals it is true—in the Salons, and took part in other public exhibitions. In 1852 and 1853 his " Pieta," and his " Cantique des Cantiques," were bought by the State. He received medals in 1864-5-9. And in 1875 he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour. To this first period belong " Le Minotaur," 1855 ; " OEdippe et le Sphinx," 1864 ; " Le Jeune Homme et la Mort," in memory of Théo. Chassériau, 1865 ; " Diomède dévoré par ses chevaux " and " Orphée," 1866 ; " Hercule," " Salomé," and " L'Apparition," 1876.
But after 1880 he ceased to exhibit at all. His later works have never been seen. The door of his studio was kept jealously closed against all comers. Yet it is interesting to observe that as he withdrew himself more completely from the world, his influence on the world of art grew ever stronger. Round about the Poet-Artist — the recluse " enfermé dans sa tour d'Ivoire "—a legend rose. And the desire for his pictures increased as the possibility of seeing them was withheld. The few rare examples of his paintings which were to be seen might be counted on one hand. The rest were in the private collections of amateurs sufficiently enlightened to appreciate their rare qualities, or in the inviolable sanctuary of that closed studio. A few—a very few comparatively—of the early pictures had been photographed or engraved. And from these reproductions, the pupils—disciples perhaps would be the better word—of M. Gustave Moreau had to gain their impressions of the master's work. For a master he had truly become ; and when on the death of M. Élie Delaunay in 1891, he succeeded him as Professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, his atelier on the Quai Malaquais became a centre for militant originality.' The young and daring spirits flocked to him for counsel. Those who yearned for escape from the actual, turned to " the inspired initiator and the artist " predestined to be the link between the Romantic school " and the new symbolism ".
But one singular result of the lack of opportunity to his pupils for studying his colour, maybe observed in their work. The master's colour is one of his greatest and most singular charms ; at once delicate and intense. His methods are almost those of the enameller. His manner of using blue as a basis to work upon is quite original. And some of his water-colours—notably " L'Apparition," " Le Jeune Homme et la Mort," and the wonderful little " Crucifixion "—all in the Luxembourg—sparkle like jewels. But the pupils have only been able to study his form—his intention—to listen to his inspiring views on Art. And while endeavouring to cultivate that form and intention, their colour, with few exceptions, is remarkable for its cold sadness. All this is now changed. The doors of that closed studio have been thrown open by death. And one of M. Gustave Moreau's most profound and enlightened admirers, M. Charles Hayem, has given the public an opportunity of studying some of the master's choicest works, in his superb gift of six pictures to the Luxembourg.
Such work as that of M. Gustave Moreau met with little sympathy during the reign of realistic art. Even such a distinguished critic as M. Paul Mantz expresses himself with a certain reserve as late as 1889, the year M. Moreau was made a Membre de l'Institut ; though he confesses that " he has ended by interesting us " ! And after speaking of the artist's sympathy with the late fifteenth century, and suggesting that his inspiration was drawn from Mantegna and Crivelli, he says, " The master's sincerity is absolute ; he "is not systematically retrospective, he has passed through the " rose garden and its scent has clung to his clothing ; but he " possesses an individual caprice, and a fantasy all his own ". But such a judgment would seem cold beside those of the critics of the last six or eight years. For every year has added to the rapid growth of his influence on artists and critics alike. And his death in April, 1898, was one of the most serious blows French Art could have sustained.
Examples in Luxembourg :
OEdippe et le Sphinx, 1864.
Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, 1865.
L'Amour et les Muses.
These six last are the gift of M. Charles Hayem, 1898. CAZIN, JEAN-CHARLES, O.* (b. Samer, Pas de Calais, 1841).—Since the death of Corot no landscape painter has shown better right than M. Cazin to be regarded as his legitimate successor. The harmonies of his composition, the values which give them birth, the truly poetic sense of nature, all suggest kinship with the great master. The difference, however, between the two artists is more than merely a difference of degree. It is one of temperament. The sunny, happy disposition of le père Corot shows itself in the least of his sketches. His view of nature is tender, poetic, but always gay. M. Cazin, a man of the north, also gives us a dreamy, poetic view of nature. But it is touched with the welt-schmerz of the age—the intimate, reflective sadness of the pessimist. " The veiled serenity " and gentle melancholy " of his pictures render them in-finitely attractive and full of repose. Some artists, as M. André Michel has delightfully said, call upon us with loud, authoritative voices, to come and see the corner of the world they have discovered. " One might say that every stroke of " their brush attempts to explain how things are made, and to " reveal them by displaying them. . . . It was a mistake on " the part of the Almighty that they were not consulted during " the seven days of creation ! Cazin takes you gently by the " arm—and under his breath, almost without a word, without " a gesture, he invites you to contemplation."
His pictures of twilight, of the summer night when the stars come out in the blue-black sky over Pisa, or a single light shines through the chink of a shutter from those sleeping houses across the canal of some French provincial town, have a penetrating charm, a repose all their own.
But what is specially remarkable about M. Cazin's pictures is the manner in which he treats figures in landscape. Though he had already exhibited in 1865 and 1866, it was not until 1876 that he appeared as an artist—an artist thoroughly matured, both in power and in knowledge, by ten long years of silent endeavour, intellectual cultivation, and foreign travel. From 1871 to 1875 he lived chiefly in England, and there devoted much time to fascinating experiments in pottery. He also painted in Holland, Flanders, Italy ; was a Conservateur de Musée, and a professor. And in the Salons of 1876-77-78 his pictures at once produced a vivid impression of surprise. They struck a fresh and unexpected note. Here were episodes from the Bible story treated after a purely modern method, with a familiar landscape used to enhance the poetic emotion they conveyed to the spectator. For M. Cazin was one of the very first to be touched with the mystic reaction of which I have already spoken. In these early pictures, " La fuite en Egypte," 1877, " Le voyage de Tobie," 1878, " Le Départ," 1879, " Judith," " Hagar and Ishmael," 1883, etc., landscape plays a considerable role. The figures forin a natural and harmonious part of the whole, as in the noble pictures of Poussin or of Rembrandt, who treated such subjects of history and legend in much the same way.
From 1883 to 1888 M. Cazin again gave himself a time for study and reflection, spending much time in northern Italy. Since then landscapes have formed the chief part of his exhibited works. And in his figure pictures, legend and history have given place to a more purely modern sentiment of the aspects of humanity, such as " La Journée faite," " Les Voyageurs," etc. But whether he paints working men and women of to-day, or Judith going forth from the deserted ramparts, or Tobias and his angelic guide, or Hagar and Ishmael in the desert, M. Cazin always treats his subjects with dignity and elevation, and a profound poetic sense.
The Luxembourg contains the " Hagar and Ishmael," 1883, and the " Chambre Mortuaire de Gambetta ".
FANTIN-LATOUR, HENRI-IGNACE-THÉODORE, (b. Grenoble, 1836).-Pupil of his father, and of M. Lecoq de Boisbaudran. M. Fantin-Latour belongs to the growing school of Imaginative painters. Though in his earlier portraits he was some-times accused of sacrificing the interest which should be concentrated on his sitters to the details of their setting, each fresh work brings him nearer to those purest traditions of French Art, in which expression of thought has come before a puerile imitation of outward appearance. A friend of Manet—a passionate admirer of Wagner's music—every year sees M. Fantin-Latour making a fresh step onwards towards the ideal, as against the merely photographic. At the same time he never permits his execution to be sacrificed to his idea. His admiration and knowledge born of long study of the Venetian school is profound. And he knows accurately how to produce unexpected and special effects flashing and shimmering in rich and serious harmonies, with the grain of his canvas—with the stone—or with pastel.
In his scenes from Wagner's operas it would seem as if he tried to rival with the brush the glorious harmonies of the master he worships. And in such grandiose conceptions as the "Dernier Thème de Schumann," or the " Vision " from Oberon, he transports us into realms of purest fantasy —pursuing his way calinly, unmoved alike by fashion or by blame.
Un atelier aux Batignolles, 1879, Luxembourg.
Fleurs Variés, Mrs. Edwards.
These are flowers of Midsummer, G. Woodwiss, Esq.
The bather, C. J. Galloway, Esq.
Homage à Eugène Delacroix, 1864 ; Scène de Tannhauser, 1864 ; Scènes de Rheingold, 1878-80 ; Scènes de la Walkure, 1879.
CARRIÈRE, EUGENE, (b. Gournay, Seine et Oise).—M. Carrière, a pupil of Cabanel's, is among the most interesting modern representatives of French Art. His system, his point of view, has been met by violent attacks. He has been accused of affectation, of pose. But no clamour has turned him aside from his personal vision, in which life and nature appear to him through a tender haze.
He seeks his poem and his drama, in the fine and tremulous atmosphere of Parisian interiors, at the hour when the fading light gently obliterates all strongly marked contrasts, and softens colours and forms. " It is the milieu of " his dream, the choice of his spirit, this veiled harmony in " which nothing is lost but all is refined, this soft cozy " refuge, where far from all brutal contact the beloved vision " exists in the heart of the accustomed ways."
Each of M. Carrière's pictures, suggestive and intensely human, is the dream of a personality. We perceive the heads of his personages, modelled with exquisite and suggestive delicacy, through this strangely nebulous atmosphere. Whether in his portraits—or in the lovely " Maternité " of the Luxembourg—or in such a picture as the " Theatre Populaire," 1895—a profound human sentiment, tender and sad, is always present. And to his view of art we might apply Baudelaire's words, " What can be seen in sunlight is always " less interesting than what takes place behind a window " pane. In this dark or luminous hole life lives, life dreams, " life suffers."
In the Universal Exhibition of 1889 M. Carrière's contribution of three portraits and two subject pictures were rewarded by the decoration of the Legion of Honour. M. Carrière's contributions to the Salon of 1898 serve to accentuate his peculiar methods. One, a portrait group of an elderly lady and her grandchildren, is full of tenderness, and vague, almost melancholy sentiment. The second, a decorative panel for the Amphitheatre of Free Instruction at the Sorbonne, is a deeply interesting work—two symbolic figures just waking from sleep, above Paris wrapped in a mysterious smoke-like atmosphere, with long lines of mist beginning to rise from the dimly seen city.
Maternité, 1892, Luxembourg.
A Portrait Group, 1897, Luxembourg.
L'Enfant Malade, 1885, Musée de Montargis.
Portrait, Louis Henri Devillez, 1887.
MARTIN, HENRI-JEAN-GUILLAUME (b. Toulouse), pupil o M. Jean-Paul Laurens, received a first class medal in 188 for a " Paolo et Francesca ". In 1885 he was given a bourse de voyage—one of those travelling scholarships which are of such inestimable value to the young artist. And at the Universal Exposition of 1889, where he exhibited four pictures, he received a gold medal.
M. Henri Martin is a born décoratif and symbolist. Perhaps, if that is a title to fame, he is one of the most " discussed " artists of the day. For it is difficult to keep his name out of any symposium in Paris on Modern Art ; and once mentioned, it is a signal for the most unbridled and unending discussion.
In 1895 his picture " L'Inspiration," destined to form part of a great scheme of decoration for the Hotel de Ville of his native city, was bought for the Luxembourg ; which also robbed Toulouse of another of his canvases. The city, how-ever, has gained in the end. For the picture of 1898, " L'Apparition de Clémence Isaure aux Troubadours," is undoubtedly the best of the three.
In both " L'Inspiration " and " Clémence Isaure," M. Henri Martin chooses the edge of a southern pine wood for his locality—the late sunset for his hour of day. In both light flashes here and there upon the tall, red, pillared stems. In one, the poet wandering through the mysterious forest is attended by gentle and seraphic beings, floating like trails of evening mist behind his head, who reveal to him the thought for which he seeks. In the other, the amazed and enraptured troubadours perceive a cloud-like group of mystic forins, from the midst of which Clémence Isaure, protectress of the Arts, with the symbolic "pensée" at her breast, delivers to her well-beloved poets the charter of their Floral Games. It is interesting to compare the two pictures ; for in three years M. Henri Martin has made a great stride forward.
His well-known and well-abused method of producing the play of light he loves, is by little dots or comma-shaped strokes, which at a short distance melt into a whole. This treatment answers its purpose in his hands admirably for decorative work ; though it is somewhat worrying to the eye if seen too close. But this peculiar touch is greatly modified in the " Clémence Isaure ". Each year M. Martin's pigment grows softer, more melting. Each year the presentment of his conception, without losing distinction or strength, becomes more harmonious, more poetic ; for each year shows a decided advance upon the preceding one.
Paolo et Francesca aux Enfers, 1883, Musée de Carcassonne.
L'Inspiration, 1895, Luxembourg.
L'Apparition de Clémence Isaure aux Troubadours, 1898, Hotel de Ville, Toulouse.
Decorative Frieze, Hotel de Ville, Toulouse.
AMAN-JEAN, EDMOND (b. Chevry-Cossigny, Seine et Marne).—Among those modern painters who occupy them-selves with all the introspective, psychologie enigmas of character and temperament which so fascinate writers and artists of the present day, M. Aman-Jean holds a prominent place. " L'éternel feminin " is his study. And he analyses every movement, every pose, every thought of those subtle creatures, who appear on his canvas, reflective, contemplative, fragile, graceful. " The gestures are half-weary, the " hands with tapering fingers drop lazily, the unfathomable " mystery of the glance and the vague smile—irony, in-" terrogation or regret—reveal the flight of unquiet " thought." 1
M. Aman-Jean's work is distinctly decorative — even when it is not avowedly so, as in the panel of 1895, " La Jeune fille au Paon ". The beautiful portrait in the Luxembourg for example, with its grave and harmonious colouring, is almost Japanese in its decorative qualities. The artist, whose personality as well as whose talent has in the last few years made him the chief of a very considerable school, believes that poetry still exists in our modern life. And to reveal these poetic suggestions is the task he has set himself —a task he is fulfilling with rare distinction.
RENAN, ARY (b. Paris).—Son of the famous and learned philosopher, and great-nephew on his mother's side of Ary Scheffer the artist, M. Ary Renan could hardly fail, with such parents and such traditions, to distinguish himself by a very distinct personality. And in this we are not doomed to disappointment. His work shows an exquisite distinction, a symbolisin at once poetic and philosophic, a quality both as to colour, draftsmanship, technique, and imagination which is rare.
A pupil of Delaunay and Puvis de Chavannes, a follower of M. Gustave Moreau—on whose work he has written an admirable treatise—M. Ary Renan has much in common with this master in his sense of colour, his delight in what is rich and precious in material, what is beautiful in form and colour. Producing little, but that little of a very high order, M. Ary Renan's work is hardly known in England. And his small and exquisite " Plainte d'Orphée " passed almost unnoticed at the Grafton Galleries in 1894. But in France his position as one of the leaders of the Jeune Ecole is a recognised one. And his remarkable picture., " La Phalène," which was exhibited in the Salon of 1895, was the painting chosen by acclamation in the Quartier Latin that year.
The Luxembourg possesses his " Sappho". His first Salon picture in 1880 was a portrait. His second in 1882, " Le Plongeur ".
COTTET, CHARLES (b. Puy, Haute Loire), is undoubtedly one of the most interesting of the younger painters. Each year since the State in 1893 purchased his " Rayons du Soir-(port de Camaret) " for the Luxembourg, the strong and serious personality of the young artist has developed steadily. Each year he has added some fresh contribution, some, stronger and deeper note to the series of pictures to ,which he gives the collective title, " Au pays de la Mer ". As with J. F. Millet's toilers on the land, these toilers of the sea—their lives, their sorrows, their joys—belong to no one corner of France or any other country. M. Cottet synthetises, while others analyse. It is the spiritual vision set forth by the very simplest and humblest elements that suggests this deeply significant work. And his great triptych of 1898, which has been bought for the Luxembourg, reaches a height that he has not yet attained of pathos and power both of conception and execution. The central panel is " Le repas d'adieu," while right and left are " Ceux qui s'en vont and " Celles qui restent ". Before the subdued emotion—the grave harmonious colour of the lamp-lighted room—of the group of men on the boat as she steals away under the stars —of the women watching on the rugged shore—it is impossible to remain unmoved ; or to imagine that a great future does not await so serious and self-respecting an artist.
TISSOT, JAMES, (b. Nantes, 1836).-A pupil of Flandrin and Lamothe, M. Tissot entered the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1857. In the Salon of 1859 he exhibited two paintings of saints, a la cire, two portraits of women, and a " Promenade dans la Neige ". His " Faust et Marguerite " of 1861 is now in the Luxembourg. From that time, for some twenty years he constantly contributed to the Salons, and exhibited in England portraits and genre pictures, for the most part of an extremely exact contemporary realism, such for instance as " The Last Evening," belonging to Mr. Charles Gassiot'—a scene on board some ocean steamer.
In 1886, however, M. Tissot's work and aims underwent a complete change. As he himself tells us, he started for the East in the autumn of that year to study the scenes of the New Testament, and render them from his own point of view. " While some," he says, like the schools of the Renaissance, " have been occupied only with the mise en scène, and others, " like the mystic schools, with sentiment alone, they have " with one accord abandoned the ground of historical and " topographical accuracy . . . This is why, attracted as I " was by the divine figure of Jesus, and by the entrancing " scenes of the Gospel story, and desiring to represent them, " as faithfully as I could do, in their different aspects, I " determined to start for Palestine, and to visit it as a " devout pilgrim."
The results of that visit are well known. For ten years M. Tissot devoted himself wholly to the series of 365 small water-colour pictures, " The Life of our Lord Jesus Christ," which have been exhibited since 1896 in the Lemercier Gallery in London. When in 1894 they were first shown in Paris they created, and justly, a profound sensation. For " by its decision, its evident sincerity, and an obstinate and " pathetic insistence, the work commands and retains our sympathy ". In some degree it reminds us of the naturalist work of the French miniaturist masters of the fifteenth century. We have their preciseness and minuteness of detail. But if Jehan Fouquet had been to the East, he would have given us what unhappily is wanting in M. Tissot's rendering—colour, light, and warmth. For though he has seen Egypt and Palestine as the devout pilgrim, he has not seen them as the colourist.
The work, otherwise, is an amazing example of illustration, exact in every possible detail ; though wanting in imaginative or really religious quality.
DIBUFE, GUILLAUME, (b. Paris, 1853), is the son of Edouard Debufe (1819-1883), and grandson of Claude-Marie Dubufe (1790-1864), two of the best known portrait painters of the early half of the century. A pupil of his father and of Mazerolle, M. Dubufe seldom paints portraits, though had he given himself to that line of work, his own talent as well as the tradition of two generations would have ensured him a speedy success. M. Dubufe is however of too independent a character to care to reap where others have sown. And his painting is distinctly decorative, with a grace and lightness of its own. As an instance of his graceful decorative treatment of sacred subjects, we may cite his triptych of " La Salutation Angélique," or, again, the very charming series of water-colour drawings, illustrating the Life of the Virgin, which have been reproduced by Boussod and Valadon.
M. Dubufe, with M. M. Carolus-Duran and Duez, was one of the chief organisers of the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, founded in 1890 under the presidency of Meissonier, and familiarly known as the " Salon of the Champ de Mars ".