Sculpture Of The Nineteenth Century
( Originally Published 1899 )
From the First to the Third Empire.
"THE finest sculpture is still the product of France. And "why ? Because sculpture is a formal art, which lives by " tradition, and which can only flourish where it is well " taught. . . . The superiority of France in this great art—" I speak of the superiority of the moment—is derived no " doubt from various causes, for instance that exquisite " sense of measure which is natural to the French Spirit. " But it is derived also from the uninterrupted sequence of " vigorous study, which has produced an uninterrupted " succession of illustrious masters." These words were written by the eminent critic, M. Charles Blanc, nearly forty years ago. They demonstrate admirably the secret of that impulse, which during this century has been given to Sculpture, and has once again helped to place France in the proud position of leader in Modern Art.
The glory of French Sculpture has always been its inherent personality—its strong national note. What produced its decadence at the beginning of the century was no lack of talent—no lack of training, so absolutely essential to art—but the chilling of the warm, generous, fearless national genius by the powerful, the dominating pedagogy of Louis David's false ideal of Classic beauty, aided and abetted by the Italianizing influence of the delightful and seductive Canova.
It has been suggested that a sort of self-mistrust in matters of Art, led the men of the revolution and the first Empire to turn eagerly to the traditiOns of a ready-made art—that it was a sense of their own ignorance—the need of something stamped by the hall-mark of centuries of cultivation as stable and settled—that led them to seize on the art of Greece and Rome, as it was then known, and take it as their model and ideal. I cannot agree with this ingenious and amusing theory. As I have endeavoured to demonstrate, the Classic revival of David and the Empire had its origin far back in the eighteenth century. But be the causes what they may, it is undeniable that the living, personal French Art of the eighteenth century, had at the beginning of the nineteenth given place to a debased Classic ideal. And the all-powerful influence of David, and of Canova — twice summoned to Paris by the Emperor, whose taste for all things Italian was manifested both in Architecture and Sculpture—had a profound effect on the sculptors of the day. While these classic tendencies were fostered—at all events in decorative sculpture—by the neo-pompeiian tastes of the architect Percier.
We have but to glance at the early nineteenth century sculpture in the Louvre to see evidences of these tendencies on all sides. We find an amazing amount of talent. Some artists display much grace. All show facility. While here and there in portraiture, face to face with the human being. we get a certain sense of life. But for the most part, if not frigidly classic, all are correct and elegant to the point of positive irritation. In such works for instance as those of Pradier—the author of the " Style Louis Philippe," and the most popular artist of his day—we find nothing noble or moving. The soft, smooth touch has no word to say to us. The works are at once faultless and exasperating. But while even the older men—Rolland, Lemire, Dumont, are affected in some degree by this overwhelming current of classicism ; while the younger men—Chaudet, and Cortot, Cartellier, Bosio, and many another, are unable to resist it ; to say nothing of the High priests of a close " imitation of the Ancients," such as Rainey, Moitte, etc.—yet help is at hand.
The regeneration which Géricault, Delacroix, and the landscape painters wrought in painting, was brought about in Sculpture by three great artists—David d'Angers, Rude, and Barye.
It is no exaggeration to say that Modern Sculpture, whether in France, in England, or in America, owes its being to the impulse given to the Art by the lofty and magnificent conceptions of these three masters. The desires, the ambitions, the questionings and searchings for a nobler, a more true and living art, that were at once the glory and the torment of the leaders in letters and in painting of the Romantic movement, haunted the three great sculptors likewise—the two first brought up in the strictest sect of artistic Pharisees. For David d'Angers was a pupil of David the painter and Roland the sculptor. And Rude, with his premier prix, was only prevented going to the School of Rome by lack of public funds ; and while in exile in Brussels was under the direct influence of David. Out of the heart of the Classic school they came—these Pioneers, who swept away the deadening, cramping formulas of a false classic ideal, by the profoundest respect for the higher ideals of pure Greek Art ; and brought life, truth, imagination, and patriotism to the renaissance of the art of Sculpture.
Before studying the history of the modern school, and its three great founders, David d'Angers, Rude, and Barye, certain artists of the first Empire and the Restoration must be mentioned, ln a few of them we find germs of that honest love of nature and sense of life, which has so distinguished modern French sculpture. But most of them, although their talent is undeniable, yield to the overwhelming pressure of the Classic revival under Louis David, or the insipid sentimentality of the Restoration ; to the deadening influence of academic or official art.
CHINARD, JOSEPH (b. Lyons, 1756 ; cl. 1813), the sculptor of the Directoire and the Consulate, is now well-nigh for-gotten. But all his works bear the stamp of truth, and of a vigorous if somewhat naïf personality. Not one person in a thousand looks at his "Carabinier" of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. Nevertheless it is a most living figure. The bust of Mme. Récamier, copied and so widely distributed by Chifflet, which has been sometimes attributed to Houdon, was by Chinard. And some of his terra-cotta medallions are of great value. His life was chiefly spent at Lyons, where he was Professor at the School of Fine Arts.
CHAUDET, ANTOINE DENIS (b. Paris, 1763 ; d. Paris, 1810), shared the Imperial favours so lavishly bestowed on Canova. Inspired by the immortal sculptures of Jean Goujon, Chaudet with Moitte and Rolland decorated the oeils de boeuf of the rez-de-chausée and the upper storeys of the Louvre in 1808, when Percier and Fontaine completed Perrault's building. His statue of Napoleon as Caeesar adorned the Vendôme Column until 1814. And his well-known bust of the Emperor (now at Arras) has become classic.
In spite of a certain conventionality, his " Amour " (534, Louvre) is graceful, with a charming set of conceits in low relief on the plinth. And " Le Berger Phorbas et OEdipe " (533) is a statue of considerable merit.
DUPATY, LOUIS (b. Bordeaux, 1771 ; d. Paris, 1825), took up sculpture somewhat late. He had been intended for the magistracy, but renounced it for Art, trying landscape painting under Valenciennes, and historical painting with Vincent, before he settled upon sculpture. He gained the prix de Rome in 1799, staying in Italy for eight years. For his lovely " Biblis changée en Fontaine " (667, Louvre) alone he would deserve mention ; not to speak of many statues and busts in public gardens and galleries.
CARTELLIER, PIERRE (b. Paris, 1757 ; d. Paris, 1831), the pupil of Bridan and master of Rude,' had a true sense of life, strong convictions, and an honest nature. This was made evident in the excellent teaching his pupils received in his justly popular atelier ; and in the fine bas relief of the "Capitulation of Ulm" on the Arc du Carrousel, and that of the "Char de la Gloire " above the Colonnade of the Louvre. At Versailles we find a bust and statue of Louis Bonaparte, King of Holland ; and a fine statue of Pichegru, by Cartellier.
BOSIO, FRANCOIS-JOSEPH (b. Monaco, 1773 ; d. 1845).-" The abundant and facile Bosio "—chevalier of Saint-Michel, Baron, Premier Sculpteur du Roi, Professor of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and Member of the Institute from the founding of the seventh chair—was equally in favour under the Empire and the Restoration. All the Court, under both régimes, posed for him. The bronze chariot of the Arc du Carrousel is his; so are some of the bas reliefs of the Vendôme Column ; the Louis XIV. of the Place des Victoires ; the Henri IV. enfant, of Pau ; and the silver replica at Versailles ; where we also find a bust of Napoleon and one of Charles X.
GIRAUD, PIERRE - FRANCOIS - GRÉGOIRE (b. Luc. près Draguignan, 1783 ; d. Paris, 1836), is another of those artists who has not deserved the neglect he has met with.. A fine classical scholar, and pupil of his compatriot, J. B. Giraud, he developed a thoroughly original and personal talent. His stately "Projet de Tombeau " (697) of the Louvre is in wax, a substance Giraud always preferred to clay ; and its effect in this case is that of finely polished bronze. The conception is full of real feeling ; for it was the result of a profound sorrow, and of the desire to perpetuate the memory of his wife and two infant children. It is of great value in the history of Art, for it betrays the coming revolution. Romanticism is already in the air.
His well-known " Chien Braque " (695) was exhibited in the memorable Salon of 1827 ; and is a fine and life-like study.
CORTOT, JEAN PIERRE (b. Paris, 1787 ; d. 1843), is better represented in the Louvre by his " Soldat de Marathon "—heavy though it be—than by his stiff and silly "Daphnis and Chloé ". He was one of the purely official school. He produced numbers of Royal Statues ; was given the fourth group, " Le Triomphe de 1810," on the Arc de Triomphe in preference to Rude ; and was eulogized by Raoul Rochette, the perpetual secretary of the Academy and the sworn foe of naturalism.
PRADIER, JAMES (b. Geneva, 1792; cl. Bougival, 1862), who has been called the author of the Louis Philippe style, belonged to a French Protestant family, which had taken refuge in Geneva after the Edict of Nantes. He was studying at the Municipal School of Geneva, when Vivant Denon, the director of the Louvre, remarked his aptitude for sculpture. He took him to Paris, obtained a pension for him from Napoleon to enable him to complete his studies, and placed him with Lemot, in 1809. He gained the grand prix in 1813. And after five years in Rome returned to Paris, and exhibited for the first time in 1819—not in 1817 as has been often stated. The piece was the " Centaure et Bacchante " now at Rouen. In 1827 he was a Membre de l'Institut, and Professor at the École des Beaux Arts.
Pradier's gifts—his facility, his decent paganism, his correctness and elegance—were such as suited the taste of the time. " He sets out every morning for Athens, and arrives " every evening at the rue de Breda" ! said the caustic Préault. His Psychés, his Sapphos, his Fils de Niobé, even his pretty " Toilette d'Atalante," are exasperating in their insipid elegance. He fills the place in sculpture which Delaroche filled in painting—that safe and happy mean which brings prosperity ; for it is certain to make no demands upon the greater depths of feeling and intelligence.
Besides the works I have mentioned, the Louvre owns his excellent bronze bust of Maxime Du Camp. To Pradier also are due the bust of Louis XVIII. at Versailles. Four " Renommées " on the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. Twelve " Victories " for the Tomb of Napoleon. " Comédie gaie et Comédie sérieuse " for the Fontaine Molière, rue de Riche-lieu. And the statues of " Lille" and of " Strasbourg " on the Place de la Concorde ; besides innumerable busts, statues, and groups.
Among other more or less academic artists may be mentioned seven of the bas reliefs for the tomb of Napoleon, and the pediment of the Pavillon Denon at the Louvre. JALEY, J. L. NICHOLAS (1802-1866), a good pupil of Cartellier's, whose statue of Louis XI. is in the Louvre. LEMAIRE, PH-JOSEPH-HENRI (1798-1880), author of the Pediment of the Madeleine, and the bas relief of the Funeral of Marceau on the Arc de Triomphe: PERRAUD, J. JOSEPH (1819-1877), the author of the somewhat famous bas relief of "Les Adieux " now in the Louvre, which was acclaimed by the partisans of pure classicism as the last word of Greek Art. It is indeed an admirable bit of sculpture : but was so much better done 2000 years ago, either in Athens or in Rome. CLÉSINGER, JEAN-BAPTISTE-AUGUSTE (b. Besançon, 1814; d. Paris, 1883), who enjoyed a brilliant but ephemeral reputation. And is now best known as the son-in-law of George Sand, having married Mlle. Solange Dudevant. In 1847 his " Femme piquée par un Serpent " brought him great popularity. His statues of Rachel and George Sand at the Comédie Française are inferior.
But before DURET, FRANCISQUE (b. Paris, 1804 ; d. Paris, 1865), we pause among the Classic pastiches of many of the other sculptors of this period, with a sense of relief. With his " Jeune Pêcheur dansant la Tarentelle " a finer, stronger, more honest chord is touched. It is a pity that such an impulse only lasted for a time ; and that Duret's later works did not carry him beyond the youthful vigour of this early effort.
PRÉAULT, AUGUSTE (b. 1810 ; d. 1879), must be by no means forgotten in speaking of the beginning of the Romantic movement. For though perhaps he is better remembered as the author of many mordant bon mots which are still quoted in the studios, he was also the author of the fine "Jacques Coeur" at Bourges ; of the "Clémence Isaure" in the garden of the Luxembourg ; of the " Marceau," an admirable statue on the place d'Armes at Chartres ; and the " Cavalier Gaulois " of the Pont d'Iéna.
We now reach the true Pioneers of Modern Sculpture.
DAVID, PIERRE JEAN, dit DAVID D'ANGERS (b. Angers, 1789 ; d. 1856).-Among his contemporaries David d'Angers ranked as the first sculptor of the age. His medallions were placed far above the works of Houdon in the past, or of Rude in the present. This opinion has however been modified. In a few important works he attained a complete revelation of his powers, such as the Pediment of the Pantheon—the " Philopomène " of the Louvre—the tomb of " Général Gobert " at Père Lachaise—and I am inclined to add the tomb of the Comte de Bourck, also in Père Lachaise.
But his medallions are without doubt the most important part of his work, worthy, so M. Charles Blanc considers, to be placed beside the drawings of Ingres, or Charlet's lithographs. They are indeed instinct with the quality which distinguishes all his work—the sensation of life. In these medallions we get a series of portraits of all his contemporaries, a series of extreme intrinsic interest, and of the very highest historic as well as artistic value. Through them we know what manner of men and women, to take a few names at random, Bonaparte—the Bonaparte who Gros saw at the bridge of Arcole—Kléber, Géricault, Alfred de Musset, Lafayette, the captivating Mme. Récamier, Goethe, Schiller, Flaxman, Fennimore Cooper, Lady Morgan, Bentham, Spurzheim, Lamartine, George Sand, Jules Janin, Théophile Gautier, Lord Byron, Victor Hugo, Delphine Gay, Dumas, Thiers, Guizot—every one of note, in fact—appeared to the artist, who worshipped genius, and knew so well how to render the type, the character, the nationality—nay, even the colouring of his sitter. It is an education in itself to study the series which adorns the walls of the Salle Rude at the Louvre—that Hall to which, alas ! such a fraction of the thousands of visitors ever penetrate.
David d'Angers—son of a sculptor in wood who served the Republic as a soldier in La Vendée—" a delicate and " sickly child, was carried off by his father among the " baggage of the army ". He was brought up to the sound of drum and cannon, amid the horrors and heroisms of war ; and his whole soul was affected by so strange an education. He belonged to the French Revolution, and the passions it engendered. But those passions in David d'Angers were always generous and noble ones. Though a thorough-going republican, he could nevertheless dedicate one of his finest works to the Vendéan general, Bonchamps, a fanatical royalist—because the general had spared the life of David's father, taken prisoner after Saint-Florent.
At ten years of age, in spite of all opposition, the child was determined to be an artist. He had mastered the rudiments of education and drawing at the Ecole centrale of Angers. And one fine day, with fifty francs in his pocket, lent him by a painter named Delusse, he set out for Paris. Arriving there with nine francs, he became a stone carver to gain his bread. But after a time a pension was allowed him by the city of Angers, and in gratitude he added the name of his native place to his own. As the pupil of Louis David and Rolland he soon began to make his way. And as Pensionnaire (he only gained the second prize) he spent the usual time in Rome studying the antique.
After his sojourn in Rome he heard that Lord Elgin had brought the marbles of the Parthenon to England. And as a pious pilgrim of old to the Holy Land, David instantly started for London. What he gained from a profound study of Phidias was what he already possessed in no small degree—the sense of life. "The taste for noble "lines, moderation of movement, measured gesture, the " selection of forms, and the artifices which best set them off—" all this he knew already, and he talked of it all like a Greek : " but the moment he found himself in the presence of nature " with the clay in his fingers or the chisel in his hand, his " dominant faculty reasserted itself in full force ; carried " away by his warinth of temperament he gave himself over " wholly to the endeavour to give movement to marble or " bronze."
Few artists have displayed a more complete professional probity, a more inflexible conscience in all their work, than David. And when once he had embarked on his con-temporary medallions, no sacrifice of time, money, or ease, was too great to gain his end. He would travel to London to model Sir Walter Scott's profile ; to Berlin for Rauch, the sculptor ; to Weimar, for Goethe ; to Lombardy to " seize the great nomad Byron on the road to death " ; to Athens even, for portraits of Canaris, Fabvier, and Coletti.
" These gentlemen would not come to me—no matter. I am " met with my little slate, racing along as if I was hurrying " to see immortality. A statuary is the registrar of posterity. " He is the future ! "
A prodigious number of statues and busts were produced in his studio. His records of men of mark adorn the squares and museums of cities far and wide, from Dunkerque to Missolonghi, from Aix to Philadelphia. While in Paris some of his finest monuments are to be found in Pére Lachaiseanother much neglected spot, of deep interest to the student of Modern Sculpture.
RUDE, FRANCOIS (b. Dijon, 1784 ; d. Paris, 1855).-" Rude is a doctrine, a principle ; he has caught sight of the " eternal verities of Art ; he is the block of granite upon " which rest the generous hopes of our School." 1
A Burgundian by race and birth, François Rude is a worthy descendant of the Burgundian masters of the fifteenth century. Those splendid instincts which guided the hand of Claus Sluter as he sculptured his "Puits de Moïse " and his "Philippe le Hardi," live again in "Le Départ"; in "Maréchal Ney"; and in the " Gaspard Monge ". Rude possessed in full measure the distinguishing gifts of his Burgundian forerunners—a fearless love of truth and detestation of cramping formulas—solid judgment—keen observation—a gay but well-balanced temperament—and an iron constitution.
Son of a coppersmith in the rue de la Petite-Poissonerie, at Dijon, the lad's strong hand was trained betimes to the use of hammer and file in the forge. But his father, who was in easy circumstances, gave him an excellent education as well. And in 1798 his taste for drawing was so pronounced that he entered the school of design, under that admirable teacher Devosge, whose name is still held in honour at Dijon. And well it may be. For he was the master of Prud'hon as well as of Rude—a man of taste and insight, and of generous appreciation of talent. Thanks to Devosge, young Rude was recommended to M. Frémiet, controleur des contributions directes, who henceforth played an important part in his life. M. Frémiet not only gave him his first commission—a bust of M. Monnier, his father-in-law —but paid the artist's substitute for military service. And in consultation with Devosge, this excellent man soon decided that Rude must finish his education in Paris.
In 1807 Rude therefore set forth, armed with a letter to the all-powerful Vivant-Denon, superintendent of museums. Vivant-Denon was also a Burgundian. He received his young compatriot warinly, and sent him to Gaulle, to whom the direction of the sculptures for the Vendôme Column, just begun, had been entrusted. Rude helped with the bas-reliefs of the base. But of far greater importance was the fact that he became a pupil of Cartellier, in whose studio the most promising young artists gathered while about the same time he entered the École des Beaux Arts. Cartellier's advice to the new-comer was worthy of master and pupil alike. " Observez les gestes et les attitudes, " cherchez surtout la synthèse morale des vos figures."
In 1809 Rude gained the second prix de Rome. In 1812 he gained the first with his " Aristée déplorant la perte de ses abeilles ". This success was a perilous one. For a time he fell under the influence of the pedagogues of classic formula. Happily, however, he was not able to go to Rome, as all available money at that moment was needed for war. One must believe that his vigorous personality would in any case have triumphed in the end over the deadening influence of the École de Rome, as it then was. But that it would have delayed the full development of his genius cannot be doubted. Events however were hastening on with fateful rapidity.
Rude, like most of the young generation, was possessed by the Napoleonic idea. After Waterloo he fled to Dijon. There he joined his early friend, M. Frémiet, and accompanied him to Brussels. Here among the exiles of the Revolution and the Empire, he found David ; and fell once more under classic influence. Undaunted by exile or misfortune Rude set himself bravely to work. A bust of King William I., which pleased the sovereign, and others of Bonnet, Jacotot, and Villaine, brought him into notice. And the friendship of these exiles proved of great service to him. Thanks to David he obtained an important share in the sculpture of the Chateau de Tervuen, built for the Prince of Orange—a series of decorative bas reliefs. Also commissions for the cariatides of the Théatre Royale ; and for the pediment of the Hotel des Monnaies. It is interesting to see in these classic works how his innate sense of life, of nature, of movement, struggles with his endeavour to remain severely academic.
Twelve years he spent at Brussels ; where besides the works already mentioned, he executed allegoric figures for the d'Arenberg Library—cariatides for the Salle du Concert Noble—a pulpit for the church of Saint Étienne, Lille—and produced a chef d'oeuvre in his wonderful bust of David, now in the Louvre. This period of exile was indeed a happy one to François Rude. He earned an income sufficient for his modest needs. And he married the beautiful Sophie Frémiet, herself a charming artist and a pupil of David's. He had loved her with the tenderest devotion for many years ; and she remained to the end the joy and crown of his life.
Meanwhile Cartellier and others urged him to come back to Paris. And in 1827 he returned to his native land, and exhibited the model of his " Mercure " in the Salon. This was welcomed by the Classics, who hoped to find in the rising master a valuable recruit for academic art. Their disenchantment was considerable when in the Salon of 1831, Rude, besides the bust of " David," exhibited the enchanting " Petit Pêcheur jouant avec une tortue ".
The " Petit Pêcheur," now one of the treasures of the Louvre, began the long list of Rude's noblest works. Exquisite in its fresh, life-like truth, it was acclaimed by the young school as an unanswerable protest against " les rêveries glacées de l'ideal ". The painters had found emancipation in the revolt of Géricault and Delacroix. Now Sculpture had found its champion. And this new life, these new ideals in art, filled the souls of men wearied of a false classicism with hope and enthusiasm. The little Neapolitan fisher boy was absolutely irresistible. Exhibited in marble in 1833 he was bought for the Musée Royale; and his author was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour.
Commissions and successes now followed fast. M. Thiers, a warm admirer of the " Mercury," asked Rude to furnish a scheme for the decoration of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile. Begun by Napoleon in 1806, to celebrate his own glory, it had progressed but slowly. And it was not until 1832, that under Blouet 1 the work was pushed forward vigorously. Rude's idea was of four great subjects—" Le Départ, le Retour, la Défense du Sol, la Paix," for which he furnished sketches. But jealousies and intrigues only left him one of the groups. To Cortot, the official Cortot, was given "Le Triomphe de 1810 ". "La Résistance" and "La Paix" were given to Étex. "Le Départ des Volontaires de 1790 " alone fell to Rude. But it is enough to secure the immortal fame of its author. The very stone cries aloud in the passion of patriotism. While for dignity and nobility of thought and expression, no Greek would be ashamed to call Rude his brother.
Celebrated, overwhelmed with commissions, Rude remained as unmoved by success as he had been by difficulties ; living the same serenely tranquil life in his little atelier of the rue d'Enfer, where Madame Rude reigned over the simple, modest home, and completed his happiness. As a master—for at length after much hesitation he decided to open an atelier—he trained some of the most brilliant of contemporary sculptors, who adored and revered him. " His "teaching, essentially technical, is based on the rigorous " study of nature." " I am here to teach you sculpture, not " to teach you to think," he would say.
The list of his works in those fruitful years from 1836 to the end, is a long one. But certain among them, but little known outside France, need special notice. The first of these is the tomb of " Godefroy Cavaignac " in the Montmartre Cemetery. In the name of a committee, Etienne Arago came to request Rude to undertake the work. The subscriptions were scanty. " Why talk of money?" was the artist's characteristic reply. " I knew what the man was worth. I would do it for nothing." The nude figure, after the manner of the gisants of the sixteenth century, was modelled entirely by Rude's own hand with impetuous fervour. On the nude he himself arranged the drapery ; and confided its execution to one of his favourite pupils. And after retouching the winding sheet, he inscribed on the damp clay, " Rude et son jeune élève Christophe ". Cast in bronze in 1847, it was not put in position till 1856, after Rude's death. The second work is the monument to his compatriot, " Gaspard Monge," the mathematician. This was a commission for the Burgundian city of Beaune. Rude threw himself into the work heart and soul. He had seen Monge in his youth. And assisted by a portrait, and by bis friend Jacotot's recollections, he produced a marvel of life. " He represents him, not as a dignitary of the Empire, but as " the savant . . . his face strained in the effort of thought—" the attitude grave and meditative, emphasizing by a demonstrative gesture the phrase which seems to leave his mouth." The original plaster model of the head is in the Louvre—an extraordinary bit of force and audacious modernity.
The third work is the magnificent statue of " Maréchal Ney," erected by the Government of the third Empire, on the spot in the Avenue de l'Observatoire where Ney was shot.' Rude had for many years dreamt of some heroic statue in which he could express his anger and regret for " le brave des braves ". And when M. de Persigny proposed the work to him in 1852, he eagerly seized the coveted opportunity. But he had to abandon his first idea—Ney baring his breast to the firing party. The monument was not to be a work of rancour, but " the sign of a rehabilitation proclaimed by the " public conscience". The last touches were given to the bronze in May, 1853. And on December 7th, the anniversary of Ney's death, the archbishop chanted the De Profundis—amid the roll of muffled drums Rude's chef d'oeuvre is uncovered—and Ney appears to the vast bare-headed crowd —Ney of the great Napoleonic épopée, with flashing sword, head thrown back, and every line expressing that shout of " En Avant," which comes from the bronze lips.
But two years remain. The Universal Exhibition of 1855 was a triumph to the great artist, and he received the Médaille d'Honneur of Sculpture by forty-seven votes out of fifty. But he never became a member of the Institute—Duret, Simart, and Lemaire being preferred to the sculptor of " Le Départ ". And on the 3rd November, 1853, Rude died suddenly and gently—a heart attack ending the life of an honest man and a great artist.
Examples in Louvre :
Petit Pêcheur jouant avec un tortue, marble. 808.
Mercure attachant ses talonnières, bronze. 809.
Maurice de Saxe. 810.
Jeanne d'Arc écoutant les Voix, 1852. 812.
Bust, Louis David. 815.
Original plaster head, Gaspard Monge.
Napoléon s'éveillant à l'immortalité, 1846, plaster model. The monument is at Fixin, near Dijon.
Le Départ, 1832 ; and part of the great frieze, Arc de Triomphe de l'ÉtOile.
Godefroy Cavaignac, bronze, 1833, Cimetière de Montmartre.
Le Maréchal Ney, 1853, Carrefour de l'Observatoire. Gaspard Monge, Beaune.
Général Bertrand, Chateauroux.
Hébé ; and L'Amour dominateur du monde, 1857, Musée de Dijon.
BARYE, ANTOINE-LOUIS, O. (b. Paris, 1796; d. 1875). —" The life of Antoine-Louis Barye," says M. Charles Blanc, " may be related in fifteen lines ; but a whole book would be " needed to give an account of his work, which is immense."
Born in Paris in 1796, he was destined to be a mere workman, and at fourteen was apprenticed to an engraver in metal, who had obtained from the ministry of war the privilege of furnishing all the stamps for the metal ornaments of military dress—buttons, belt buckle, collar clasps, eagles, grenades, etc. His apprenticeship was not at an end in 1813, when a decree placed 160,000 Frenchmen born in 1796, at the disposition of the minister of war. Barye, among them, was attached to the topographical brigade of engineers, and employed in modelling some of the plans in relief, which are still in existence—such as those of the Mont Cenis, Cherbourg, Coblentz, etc. He then joined the 2nd battalion of sapeurs du génie. But in 1814 his military service ended ; and he again took up the profession of metal engraver, which was soon in his hands to become an art.
His early studies and his tastes inclined him to sculpture. But six months' work under Bosio left him chilled and discouraged. And in 1817 he entered Gros' studio. Here he found what he needed—that vigour of life, movement, expression, which he had so far sought for in vain in sculpture, yet hoped to find in the future.
In 1819 he competed for the prix de Rome as engraver of medals. He only obtained the third prize. The next year he competed in sculpture. He won the second prize—Jacquot carrying off the first with a more academic piece. The next year Barye was not even mentioned. So he gave up all thought of the prix de Rome, and became once more an " ouvrier ciseleur ". He placed his talent at the service of a goldsmith, Fauconnier, in the rue du Bac ; one of those persons whose genius consists in finding the best men and using them. Barye invented jewels, engraved precious stones, chased necklaces and every sort of delicate ornament, many of which Fauconnier sold to the Duchesse de Berri, who showed them at Court.
But Barye, married and living with his family close by in the passage Sainte-Marie, never for a moment relaxed his artistic education. He drew from nature in Suisse's school ; and painted from the old masters in the Louvre. He tried his hand on portraits, beginning with his two little daughters ; and studied anatomy both of man and of animals with infinite care and patience. He then acquainted himself with all the different processes of casting ; and the best methods for making casts by the sand or wax process.
His existence was a quiet and simple one, after the fashion of artists of that date. Charlet, Chenavard, Abel Hugo, and a few others had founded a little dinner club, which met at la mère Saguet-Bourdon's, at the barrière du Maine, and was intended to consist of artists and writers. Barye and Sainte Beuve were the first to be admitted. Others joined. Béranger occasionally appeared ; and Charlet contrived to get his intimate friend General de Rigny admitted as a great favour ; for those who had no title in art or letters were looked on with disfavour. "It was here that the great "battle of the romantics for the triumph of Victor Hugo in " Hernani was prepared. Barye spoke little, but always dis-" creetly and always well. He listened, observed, caught " the profiles of the guests and used them to model medals in " the Pisan taste. Beneath a phlegmatic appearance he hid " an ardent and passionate soul, and he seemed cold because " he was both modest and proud." Such was the training of the great master.
To the Salon of 1827 he sent several busts. But that of 18312 was the beginning of his real fame. He exhibited besides a " Martyrdom of St. Sebastian," a " Tiger devouring a young crocodile " and, the sketch of a " Bear ". In the next few years came the " Lion strangling a viper " ; the " Cerf terrassé par deux lévriers de grande race," and the "Jeune lion terrassant un cheval ". The enthusiasm these noble works created among the new school of artists was intense. Here in plaster and in bronze, side by side with Rude's " Pêcheur " and " Le Départ "—was the life, the truth, the liberty, for which literature and painting were fighting so fierce a battle. For centuries animals in marble and bronze —lions and horses-for who had ever thought of the presentment of a tiger, a bear, a gazelle, or a crocodile !—f or centuries they had been treated in a merely conventional manner. The first apparition of Barye's work served to reveal all this to the eyes of artists, and to open a new field for Art. And, innovator as he was, he never in all the amazing novelty of his treatment lost the dignity, the true beauty of the classic spirit.
It was in 1834 that his famous bronzes began, and his fame was established. In 1831 he was given a second class medal. In 1833 the Legion of Honour. From 1848 to 1851 he held the post of conservateur de la galerie des Plâtres et des Moulages au Louvre. And in 1855 was made Officier de la Legion d'Honneur.
His life was spent between Paris and the Forest of Fontainebleau, where, among the famous group at Barbizon, Barye worked as the humblest and youngest landscape painter—painting his beloved animals in water-colour or oils against a background of the forest—after studying their lives, their ways, their every turn and movement, in the Jardin des Plantes.
Besides his large groups, Barye produced a number of those marvellous little bronzes which are now so eagerly sought after by all connaisseurs. And nowhere have Barye's works been so much appreciated as in the United States.
Examples in Louvre :
Tiger and Gavial, bronze. 493.
Jaguar and hare, 1852, bronze. 495.
Centaure et Lapithe, 1851, bronze.
Groups of Peace ; War ; La Force protégeant le Travail ; L'ordre comprimant les pervers, Pavillons Denon and Richelieu, Louvre.
Lion, of the Column of July, Paris.
Lion strangling a boa, Garden of the Tuileries.
Young bears playing, and Tiger eating a goat, Musée de Lyon.
Lynx, plaster model, 1833, Musée de Lisieux. Elephant, 1834, S. A. R. duc de Nemours.
Jeune lion terrassant un cheval, Duc de Luynes.
The South Kensington Museum has some fine casts of Barye's works.