MISCELLANEOUS examples of contemporary foreign paintings number about fifty most of which have been acquired since the collet. ion was transferred to the trustees.
The nucleus of this collection is the canvas by George Morland (1763-1804), which was bought by Mr. Corcoran in 1850, for his house, and came to the Gallery with the original gift. " The Warrener," or " The Farm House," as it was formerly called, is one of those typical, pastoral scenes which Morland painted so well, introducing a wealth of homely detail, while preserving the handsome tone of the whole. The picture is full of lively, charming incident, and shows observation of farm life in its relation to the natural beauties of rural England.
Morland was one of the greatest English painters of his epoch. It is said that he drew well when only four years of age, and gained a reputation by sketches shown in the Royal Academy in his eleventh year.
Most of the Barbison painters are represented amongst the works of foreign masters : Corot, Daubigny, Troyon, Jules Breton, Diaz and Dupré all figure in the collection. Of these the most important is " Wood Gatherers," by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), purchased at the Mary Morgan sale, in 1886. The picture is one of the last painted by the artist. According to the records, it was signed by Corot, in his bed, a few days before he died.
The catalogue tells us that " Corot was inspired to use for the motive of this picture an old study by Morvan, representing a landscape, with St. Jerome at prayer. Alfred Robault owned the sketch for the picture, and also another ,one, in which the composition was changed from ` St. Jerome' to ` The Wood Gatherers.' Corot made several sketches for it and, in the last transformation of the motive, he changed the principal figure and added others." The studies show the development to the final enlarged version.
The painting was destined to become the property of a Monsieur Breyesse. It was shown in the Salon of 1875 (No. 519 of the catalogue), and was sold at the Faure sale, April 29, 1878, for thirteen thousand five hundred francs, and appeared again at Shaus', in New York, in 1881.
Corot was born in Paris, of simple parentage.
His father was the grandson of an agriculturalist of Mussy-la-fosse. Camille was entered at the College of Rouen at the early age of eleven and stayed there until 1812. His father then put him to work in the employ of a cloth merchant, and, despite his distaste for the business, he tried, out of deference to his father, to accustom himself to it during a period of eight years.
Everything we read of Corot points to the sterling worth of his character. " His straightforward honesty in his advice to customers at the cloth shop, where he was employed, was not always in accordance with the interests of his employer." Later, when under the influence and stimulus of Michallon, he began to attempt landscape, " he rose early and made use of all his leisure moments, for with scrupulous honesty he made a strong point of fulfilling all his other engagements and of observing strict regularity in business." Finally his father yielded to his entreaties to be allowed to be a painter, though greatly against his prejudices.
For thirty years he lived on an income of about sixty pounds, which his father settled upon him at his majority. His needs were few, and he enjoyed the idea that he was free to devote himself to art. He practised great economy, gave himself up entirely to his studies, and delighted his master by his energy and frankness.
It was a grief to Corot when Michallon died, in 1822, and, after that bereavement, he entered the studio of Victor Bertin, a faithful disciple of Valenciennes, and at the time one of the best qualified painters of the conventional, historical landscape.
Corot spent two years in Italy, from 1825 to 1827, — years of delightful freedom, and of friendly intercourse with Aligny and Bertin, who were his inseparables, such a life as made the contrasts of his return to France doubly severe. Beside the complete change of habits involved by his return, many difficulties awaited him. He no longer felt at home in Paris, where everything had undergone a complete transformation during his absence. The remaining exponents of academic landscape painting had acquired a certain authority, and, with systematic despotism, opposed the new doctrines of the rising group of painters.
Corot's sympathies were with this younger school, but he was unknown to its adherents, and was determined to make his way alone, living apart and joining neither the academic nor the romantic coteries, both of which were much in the public eye.
Without imitating Claude, for whom he professed great admiration, Corot seems to have developed upon his traditions. He enjoyed order and rhythm in line and a certain symmetry in arrangement, at the same time his love of freedom prevented the monotony produced by a too rigid regularity. The air circulates freely through his pictures, and the light appears through the leaves of his graceful trees.
The beauty of Fontainebleau appealed to him and in 183o, 1833, and 1834, he sent to the Salon pictures of subjects he had found there.
Corot's talent was characterized by great sincerity. He was a true impressionist in his knowledge of what to hold back, while in the precision and accuracy of his touch, one recognizes the master.
" Every year at the beginning of spring," says Emile Michel, " he was in a hurry to leave Paris and to go to the fields. Fascinated and deeply touched by the mysterious awakening of all vegetation, he liked to be near enough to watch its daily progress; while, after being shut up the whole winter in his studio, he loved to feel himself gradually growing young again by inhaling the fresh, vivifying air and by refreshing his eyesight with all the delicate and fleeting harmonies of spring. To the venerable artist these were privileged moments, and one feels in the more delicate technique of his later studies, and in the more exquisite gradations of colour, a sort of emotion mingled with the joy of painting."
" Nature," he said, " is never two minutes alike, it changes constantly, according to the season, ac-cording to the weather, the hour, the light, the cold, or the heat. All this constitutes its expression, and it is just this which one must translate well. One day it is this way, and another, that, and when once the artist has taken in all its different aspects, he must make a whole of it, and this whole will be like nature, if he has seen properly." These ideas were also those of Constable.
The Gallery possesses an excellent example of Constant Troyon (1810-1865), who was born at Sevres, and who received his impulse toward animal painting from a visit to Holland, in 1846, where he came under the influence of Paul Potter and Cuyp, and studied through them the natural relationship between animals and landscape.
The Drinking Place " was purchased for the Gallery in 1885.
Emile van Mareke (1827-1890) was Troyon's pupil and equally famous as an animal painter. He placed his cattle in pasture lands, marshes, by the sea, or near cottages in Normandy, and his landscape backgrounds often have. as much character and interest as the beasts. His cows were painted with more accuracy than those of Troyon, who often failed to understand either the character or the anatomy. Of van Mareke, the Gallery owns two examples.
The revolutionary painter, Gustave Courbet (1819-1878), is represented by one small, characteristic " Landscape," — vigorous, fresh, and joyous. As the first pronounced exponent of the realistic school, Courbet, of all the French painters of his epoch, exerts the strongest influence upon the landscape painting of to-day.
" Brittany Widow " by Jules Adolphe Breton (1827-1906), is a fairly representative example of this artist. It was painted in 1886, and appeared in the Salon of that year. It represents a sailor's widow, who carries to the altar of Saint Anne, the virgin patroness of Brittany sailors, a taper in memory of her husband. It is of the solid, stodgy painting which Breton made so faultlessly and with so little temperament.
Passing to later painters, we have three examples of Jean Baptiste Edouard Detaille (1848-) of which "Le Regiment qui Passe," painted in 1875, is the most important. The scene takes place on the Grand Boulevard of Paris, before the Porte Saint Martin, one of the ancient gateways of the old city. The public will be keenly interested in the key to the picture, by the aid of which, one may recognize portraits of numerous celebrated contemporaries of the painter, including Meissonier at the extreme right, with Detaille, himself, beside him in a brown coat, in whose lapel the red ribbon of the Legion of Honour is conspicuous. Adolphe de Neuville stands at the extreme left.
Léon Auguste L'hermitte (1844-), the most eminent of the painters of peasant life at the present time, is represented by a large canvas painted in 1908, and one of the recent accessions. " La Famille " plays a variation upon the painter's favourite theme, which displays the peasant in all his rusticity, painted objectively, with horny hands, bronzed face, at rest amidst the suspended labours of the fields, which the painter understands so well, having himself worked in their company, for L'hermitte was the son of a peasant.
Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) is favourably shown in the Gallery by a small study of a " Bull " received from the heirs of the late George E. Lemon, of Washington, with nine other pieces.
Thomas Couture (1815-1879) is represented by a strongly individual " Female Head," admirable for its breadth of handling, the massive realism of the vigorous drawing and the quality of the painting. In his larger, more important works, such as " The Thorny Path," in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, we feel Couture's academic training, ,his adherence to the traditions which Ingres, Delaroche, David, and the generation which preceded him imposed upon him, but in these slighter performances his fatherhood of Manet --who was his pupil is perfectly comprehensible, and it is even possible to imagine Manet's courageous personality reacting upon his master, causing him to paint more freely and more acceptably to modern thought.
Of Jean Charles Cazin (1840-1901) the Gallery owns two attractive canvases.
Amongst the miscellaneous foreign pictures is a portrait of Bismarck by Franz Lenbach (1836-1904), the famous Bavarian portrait painter. The portrait is one of many that Lenbach made of the German prince. It was bought by the Gallery in 1903 and was painted in Friedrichsruh, in 1892.
From Richard Muther, professor of art history at the University of Breslau, is quoted the following: " The greatest pupil of the old masters, Franz Lenbach, stands in a close and most important relationship with those endeavours of modern art, through some of his youthful works.
" The public has accustomed itself to think of him only as a portrait painter, and he is justly honoured as the greatest German portraitist of the century. . . His gallery of portraits has been called an epic in paint upon the heroes of our age. The greatest historical figures of the century have sat to him, the greatest conquerors and masters in the kingdoms of science and art. . . . Some of his Bismarck portraits, as well as his last pictures of the old Emperor William, will always stand amongst the greatest achievements of the century, in portraiture. In the one portrait is indestructible power, as it were the shrine built for itself by the mightiest spirit of the century; in the other the majesty of the old man, already half alienated from the earth and glorified by a trace of still melancholy, as by the last radiance of the evening sun. In these works, Lenbach appears as a wizard calling up spirits, an 'évocateur d'âmes,' as a French critic has named him."
Again, in describing his methods, Muther says: — " He paints only the eyes with thoroughness, and possibly the head ; but these he renders with a psychological absorption which is only to be found amongst modern artists, perhaps in Watts. In a head by Lenbach there glows a pair of eyes which burn themselves into you. The countenance, which is the first zone around them, is more or less, generally less, amplified ; the second zone, the dress and the hands, is either less amplified or scarcely amplified at all. The portrait is then harmonized in a neutral tone, which renders lack of finish less Obvious. In this sketchy treatment and in his striking subjectivity, Lenbach is the very opposite of the old masters."
So much for the contemporary criticism of a compatriot. To the writer there is little interest in those portraits by the German painter, whose originality of thought seems to have been pretty well stultified by the numerous copies which he made for Baron Shack.
" Study of a Head of a Young Man," by Louis Mettling (1847-1894), is a gift to the Gallery from Ralph Cross Johnson of Washington. It is admirable in its quality and in the sincerity of the painting, being of that class of fine arts of which Alfred Stevens was so notable an example.
Adolphe Schreyer (1828-1899) is ably represented by " The Watering Place," a powerful can-vas containing much valuable study of the anatomy of the horse. A large and characteristic Dutch interior — " Interior of a Cottage "— by Josef Israels (1824-1911), was added to the collection in 1903. " The Banks of the Adige " is a good ex-ample of the work of Martin Rico, of the Spanish School, whose style reflects his intimacy with his distinguished contemporary, Fortuny.
Oswald Achenbach of the Düsseldorf School, brother and pupil of the more famous Andreas, is represented by an interesting canvas which depicts the " Festival of Santa Lucia : Naples," painted in 1886. The type of picture is now hopelessly démodé, but one may still admire its dramatic sense of movement, in the darkened crowd of revellers, and the restraint with which he painted the fire-works; and the contrasting peacefulness of the Bay of Naples, which balances the activities upon the shore.
A somewhat similar subject is treated very differently by Hugo Frederick Salmson of Stockholm (1843-1904), whose " Fête of Saint John in Dalecarlia, Sweden," is fairly suggestive of the robust joy of the Scandinavian merrymakers, which he invests with a good deal of individual beauty and fidelity of costume.
A " Portrait " by John Jackson (1778-1831), presented by the fourth president of the Gallery, Samuel H. Kauffmann, is a good specimen of English portraiture.
With the original installation of Mr. Corcoran's collection, in the old gallery, were eleven pictures selected and purchased by Mr. W. T. Walters in Europe in 1873. These were: " Flower Piece," and " Flower Piece (with Cat)," by E. Gustave Couder ; " Spring Landscape," by Japy ; " Death of Julius Caesar," by J. L. Gérôme; Snow Scene: Moonrise," and " Landscape : Sunset," by Emile Breton; " Vase of Flowers," by G. Jeannin; " Lost Dogs," by O. von Thoren ; " Count Eberhard of Wittenberg Weeping over the Body of his Son," by Ary Scheffer; " The Drought in Egypt," by F. Portaels ; and " A Family of Satyrs," by Louis Priou.
Most of these works were purchased from the Paris and Vienna Expositions of that year, and were painted between 1869 and 1873, reflecting the somewhat arid period which they represented, as well as the taste of a collector who did not depart from the traditions of a very general public.
Jean Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) for instance, enjoyed a great vogue during his lifetime as a history and genre painter, receiving many medals and honours, and reaching the zenith of his fame at about the time of Mr. Walters' trip to Europe, as art commissioner to the Vienna Exposition. He was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1855, Officer in 1867 and Commander in 1878. At the Exposition Universelle of 1867, he received a medal of honour, and was awarded one of the eight grand medals of honour at the similar exposition of 1878. As an instructor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, in Paris, he became widely known and popularized by his students.
" Caesar Dead " is supposed to have been the study for Gérôme's more elaborate composition of the same subject in which the conspirators are rep-resented retiring from their bloody work in the Senate Hall.
The picture is academic to the point of suppressing all the emotions, and leaves the spectator, for all its tragic story, as cold as ice.
" Lost Dogs," by Otto von Thoren (1828-1889) was exhibited at the Vienna Exposition of 1873, and has always been one of the popular favourites of the Gallery. The painter was a Viennese and was decorated with the Order of Franz Josef and the Russian Order of. Vladimir.
Ary Scheffer's " Count Eberhard," also known as " The Weeper," is based upon the story of the ballad of Uhland, in which Ulrich, son of the count, had lost the battle of Reatlingen, in which many of the nobility were slain. Ulrich was dangerously wounded, but recovered and sought his father, finding him at Stuttgart over his solitary meal. He was coldly received — not a word was spoken — as he took his place at the table opposite his father. When the fish and wine were served to him the old count seized a knife and cut the table cloth between them. Frenzied by this insult, Ulrich rushed into the middle of the fight, gained the battle of Doffingen and was slain. Schiller's ballad, based upon this theme, of which Lord Lytton made a spirited translation, gives many details of the incident which inspired the picture.
According to an old catalogue of the Gallery this is claimed to be the original canvas painted by Scheffer, of which replicas are owned by the Rotterdam Museum, the French Government, and the Boston Athenaeum.
The most modern in feeling of the works purchased for the Gallery by Mr. Walters, is " A Family of Satyrs," by Louis Priou, a French painter, born in Toulouse in 1845, and educated under Gibert and Cabanel. This picture was awarded a gold medal of the first class, at the Paris Exposition of 1874. It is a spirited composition. The satyrs are grouped in the interior of a wood. Interest centres upon an infant satyr, who blows upon the pipes and dances while his father snaps his fingers in time to the music, and incites the boy to further effort. A female satyr leans forward to watch and listen. The grouping is effective, and the painting skilful and professional.
( Originally Published 1912 )
The Art Treasures of Washington:
The Development Of Washington
The Corcoran Gallery Of Art
The New Building
The Nucleus Of The Collections : The Hudson River School
Influence Of The Dusseldorf School Upon American Painters
Links In The Chain Of American Painters
Early Portrait Painters
West And Morse
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