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Title: Artists Past and Present - Random Studies
Author: Cary, Elisabeth Luther
Language: English
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ARTISTS PAST AND PRESENT


By the Same Author


    =The Works of James McNeill Whistler.= Illustrated with
        Many Reproductions of Etchings, Lithographs, Pastels and
        Paintings, 6-3/4 × 9-1/4 Inches. Boxed, $4.00 Net.
        (Postage 32 cents.)

    A study of Whistler and his works, including etchings, lithographs,
    pastels, water-colors, paintings, landscapes. Also a chapter on
    Whistler's "Theory of Art."


    =The Same.--Limited Edition de Luxe.= The Limited Edition
        of the Above Work, Illustrated with Additional Examples
        on Japan and India Paper. Printed on Van Gelder Hand-made
        Paper, with Wide Margins. Limited to 250 Numbered
        and Signed Copies, of which a few are left unsold. Boxed,
        $15.00 Net. (Postage Extra.)


    =The Art of William Blake.= Uniquely and Elaborately Illustrated.
        Size 7-1/2 × 10-1/2 Inches. Wide Margins. Boxed, $3.50
        Net. (Postage 25 cents.)

    A volume of great distinction, discussing the art of Blake in
    several unusual phases, and dwelling importantly upon his
    Manuscript Sketch Book, to which the author has had free access,
    and from which the publishers have drawn freely for illustrations,
    many of which have never been published before.



[Illustration: DANS LA LOGE

_From a painting by Mary Cassatt_]



Artists Past and Present

RANDOM STUDIES

BY

ELISABETH LUTHER CARY

Author of "_The Art of William Blake_," "_Whistler_," Etc.


_ILLUSTRATED_

NEW YORK

MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY 1909



_Copyright_,1909, _by_

MOFFAT, YARD & COMPANY

NEW YORK


PUBLISHED, SEPTEMBER, 1909


_The Plimpton Press Norwood Mass. U.S.A._



CONTENTS


                                                            PAGE

    I. ANTOINE LOUIS BARYE                                     1

   II. THE ART OF MARY CASSATT                                25

  III. MAX KLINGER                                            37

   IV. ALFRED STEVENS                                         49

    V. A SKETCH IN OUTLINE OF JACQUES CALLOT                  61

   VI. CARLO CRIVELLI                                         81

  VII. THE CASSEL GALLERY                                     95

 VIII. FANTIN-LATOUR                                         109

   IX. CARL LARSSON                                          119

    X. JAN STEEN                                             131

   XI. ONE SIDE OF MODERN GERMAN PAINTING                    143

  XII. TWO SPANISH PAINTERS                                  165



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  DANS LA LOGE                                            _Frontispiece_
 _From a painting by Mary Cassatt_
                                                               Facing
                                                                 Page

  PORTRAIT OF ANTOINE LOUIS BARYE                                2
  _From a painting by J. F. Millet_

  LION DEVOURING A DOE                                           6

  BULL THROWN TO EARTH BY A BEAR                                 6
  _From a bronze by Barye_

  A LIONESS                                                      8
  _From a bronze by Barye_

  THE PRANCING BULL                                             10
  _From a bronze by Barye_

  PANTHER SEIZING A DEER                                        12
  _From a bronze by Barye_

  THE LION AND THE SERPENT                                      16
  _From a bronze by Barye_

  ASIAN ELEPHANT CRUSHING TIGER                                 20
  _From a bronze by Barye_

  CHILD RESTING                                                 28
  _From an etching by Mary Cassatt_

  ON THE BALCONY                                                32
  _From a painting by Mary Cassatt_

  WOMAN WITH A FAN                                              34
  _From a painting by Mary Cassatt_

  BEETHOVEN                                                     38
  _From a statue in colored marble by Max Klinger_

  CASSANDRA                                                     44
  _From a statue in colored marble by Max Klinger_

  L'ATELIER                                                     52
  _From a painting by Alfred Stevens_

  PORTRAIT OF JACQUES CALLOT                                    68
  _Engraved by Vosterman after the painting of Van Dyck_

  ST. DOMINIC                                                   84
  _From a panel by Carlo Crivelli_

  ST. GEORGE                                                    86
  _From a panel by Carlo Crivelli_

  PIETÀ                                                         88
  _From a panel by Carlo Crivelli_

  A PANEL BY CARLO CRIVELLI (_a_)                               90

  A PANEL BY CARLO CRIVELLI (_b_)                               92

  SASKIA                                                        98
  _From a portrait by Rembrandt_

  NICHOLAS BRUYNINGH                                           102
  _From a portrait by Rembrandt_

  PORTRAIT OF MME. MAÎTRE                                      112
  _From a painting by Fantin-Latour_

  MY FAMILY                                                    120
  _From a painting by Carl Larsson_

  A PAINTING BY CARL LARSSON                                   126

  PEASANT WOMEN OF DACHAUER                                    148
  _From a painting by Leibl_

  FIDDLING DEATH                                               154
  _From a portrait by Arnold Boecklin_

  THE SWIMMERS                                                 166
  _From a painting by Sorolla_

  THE BATH--JÁVEA                                              168
  _From a painting by Sorolla_

  THE SORCERESSES OF SAN MILAN                                 170
  _From a painting by Zuloaga_

  THE OLD BOULEVARDIER                                         172
  _From a painting by Zuloaga_

  MERCEDÈS                                                     174
  _From a painting by Zuloaga_



ARTISTS PAST AND PRESENT



I

ANTOINE LOUIS BARYE


At the Metropolitan Museum of Art are two pictures by the Florentine
painter of the fifteenth century called Piero di Cosimo. They represent
hunting scenes, and the figures are those of men, women, fauns, satyrs,
centaurs, and beasts of the forests, fiercely struggling together. As we
observe the lion fastening his teeth in the flesh of the boar, the bear
grappling with his human slayer, and the energy and determination of the
creatures at bay, our thought involuntarily bridges a chasm of four
centuries and calls up the image of the Barye bronzes in which are
displayed the same detachment of vision, the same absence of
sentimentality, the same vigor and intensity if not quite the same
strangeness of imagination. It is manifestly unwise to carry the parallel
very far, yet there is still another touch of similarity in the beautiful
surfaces. Piero's fine, delicate handling of pigment is in the same
manner of expression as Barye's exquisite manipulation of his metal after
the casting, his beautiful thin patines that do not suppress but reveal
sensitive line and subtle modulation. We know little enough of Piero
beyond what his canvases tell us. Of Barye we naturally know more,
although everything save what his work confides of his character and
temperament is of secondary importance, and he is interesting to moderns,
especially as the father of modern animal sculpture, and not for the
events of his quiet life.

[Illustration: From the collection of the late Cyrus J. Lawrence, Esq.

PORTRAIT OF ANTOINE LOUIS BARYE

_From a painting by J. F. Millet_]

Antoine Louis Barye, born at Paris September 15, 1796, died June 25,
1875, in the same year with Corot and at the same age. The circumstances
under which he began his career have been told in detail by more than
one biographer, but it would be difficult rightly to estimate the
importance and singularity of his work without some review of them. His
father was a jeweler of Lyons, who settled in Paris before Antoine was
born, and whose idea of education for his son was to place him at less
than fourteen with an engraver of military equipments from whom he
learned to engrave on steel and other metals, and later with a jeweler
from whom he learned to make steel matrixes for molding reliefs from
thin metals. A certain stress has been laid on this lack of schooling in
the conventional sense of the word, but it is difficult to see that it
did much harm, since Barye, though he was not a correct writer of
French, was a great reader, keenly intelligent in his analysis of the
knowledge he gained from books, and with extraordinary power of turning
it to his own uses. Such a mind does not seriously miss the
advantages offered by a formal training, and it might fairly be argued
that the manual skill developed at the work-bench was in the long run
more valuable to him than the abstract knowledge which he might have
acquired in school could possibly have been. Be that as it may, up to
the time of his marriage in 1823 he had a varied apprenticeship. At
sixteen he was drawn as a conscript and was first assigned to the
department where maps in relief are modeled. Before he was twenty-one he
was working with a sculptor called Bosio, and also in the studio of the
painter, Baron Gros. He studied Lamarck, Cuvier and Buffon. He competed
five times for the _Prix de Rome_ at the Salon, once in the section of
medals and four times in the section of sculpture, succeeding once (in
the first competition) in gaining a second prize. He then went back to
the jeweler's bench for eight years, varying the monotony of his work by
modeling independently small reliefs of _Eagle and Serpent_, _Eagle and
Antelope_, _Leopard_, _Panther_, and other animals.

In 1831 he sent to the Salon of that year the _Tiger Devouring a Gavial
of the Ganges_, a beautiful little bronze, seven and a half inches high,
which won a Second Medal and was bought by the Government for the
Luxembourg. This was the beginning of his true career. In the same Salon
was exhibited his _Martyrdom of St. Sebastian_, but the powerful
realism and energy of the animal group represented what henceforth was
to be Barye's characteristic achievement, the realization, that is, of
what the Chinese call the "movement of life;" the strange reality of
appearance that is never produced by imitation of nature and that makes
the greatness of art. The tiger clutches its victim with great gaunt
paws, its eyes are fixed upon the prey, its body is drawn together with
tense muscles, its tail is curled, the serpent is coiled about the
massive neck of its destroyer with large undulating curves. The touch is
everywhere certain, the composition is dignified, and the group as an
exhibition of extraordinary knowledge is noteworthy.

A lithograph portrait of Barye by Gigoux, made at about this time, shows
a fine head, interested eyes, a firm mouth and a determined chin. His
chief qualities were perseverance, scientific curiosity, modesty and
pride, and that indomitable desire for perfection so rarely encountered
and so precious an element in the artist's equipment. He was little of a
talker, little of a writer, infinitely studious, somewhat reserved and
cold in manner, yet fond of good company and not averse to good dinners.
Guillaume said of him that he had the genius of great science and of
high morality, which is the best possible definition in a single phrase
of his artistic faculty. He had the kind of sensitiveness, or
self-esteem, if you will, that frequently goes with a mind confident
of its merits, but not indifferent to criticism or sufficiently elevated
and aloof to dispense with resentment. In 1832 he sent to the Salon his
_Lion Crushing a Serpent_, and in 1833 he sent a dozen animal
sculptures, a group of medallions and six water-colors. That year he was
made chevalier of the Legion of Honour, but the following year nine
groups made for the Duke of Orleans were rejected by the Salon jury, and
again in 1836 several small pieces were rejected, although the _Seated
Lion_, later bought by the government, was accepted. The reasons for the
rejections are not entirely clear, but Barye was an innovator, and in
the field of art the way of the innovator is far harder than that of the
transgressor. Charges of commercialism were among those made against
him, and he--the least commercial of men--took them deeply to heart. His
bitterness assumed a self-respecting but an inconvenient and
unprofitable form, as he made up his mind to exhibit thereafter only in
his own workshop, a resolution to which he held for thirteen years.
After the rejection of his groups in 1834 he happened to meet Jules
Dupré, who expressed his disgust with the decision. "It is quite easy to
understand," Barye replied, "I have too many friends on the jury." This
touch of cynicism indicates the ease with which he was wounded, but it
was equally characteristic of him that in planning his simple revenge
he hurt only himself. He did indeed refrain from sending his bronzes to
the Salon and he did act as his own salesman, and the result was the
incurrence of a heavy debt. To meet this he was obliged to sell all his
wares to a founder who wanted them for the purpose of repeating them in
debased reproductions. His own care in obtaining the best possible
results in each article that he produced, his reluctance to sell
anything of the second class, and his perfectly natural dislike to
parting with an especially beautiful piece under any circumstances, did
not, of course, work to his business advantage, although the amateurs
who have bought the bronzes that came from his own refining hand have
profited by it immensely. It would be a mistake, however, to think of
him as a crushed or even a deeply misfortunate man. He simply was poor
and not appreciated by the general public according to his merits. After
1850, however, he had enough orders from connoisseurs, many of them
Americans, and also from the French government to make it plain that his
importance as an artist was firmly established at least in the minds of
a few. He sold his work at low prices which since his death have been
trebled and quadrupled, in fact, some of his proofs have increased
fifty-fold, but the fact that he was not overwhelmed with orders gave
him that precious leisure to spend upon the perfecting of his work
which, we may fairly assume, was worth more to him than money.

[Illustration: From the collection of the late Cyrus J. Lawrence, Esq.

LION DEVOURING A DOE

("LION DEVORANT UNE BICHE")]

[Illustration: From the collection of the late Cyrus J. Lawrence, Esq.

BULL THROWN TO EARTH BY A BEAR

("TAUREAU TERRASSÉ PAR UN OURS")

_From a bronze by Barye_]

Nor was he entirely without honor in his own country. At the Universal
Exposition of 1855 he received the Grand Medal of Honour in the section
of artistic bronzes, and in the same year the Officer's Cross of Legion
of Honour--a dignity that is said to have reached poor Rousseau only
when he was too near death to receive the messengers. In 1868 Barye was
made Member of the Institute, although two years earlier he had been
humiliated by having his application refused. And from America, in
addition to numerous proofs of the esteem in which he was held there by
private amateurs, he received through Mr. Walters in 1875 an order to
supply the Corcoran Gallery at Washington with an example of every
bronze he had made. This last tribute moved him to tears, and he
replied, "Ah! Monsieur Walters, my own country has never done anything
like that for me!" These certainly were far from being trivial
satisfactions, and Barye had also reaped a harvest of even subtler joys.
One likes to think of him in Barbizon, living in cordial intimacy with
Diaz and Rousseau and Millet and the great Daumier. Here he had
sympathy, excellent talk of excellent things, the company of artists
working as he did, with profound sincerity and intelligence, and he had
a chance himself to paint in the vast loneliness of the woods where he
could let his imagination roam, and could find a home for his tigers and
lions and bears studied in menageries and in the _Jardin des Plantes_.
It is pleasant also to think of him among the five and twenty _Amis du
Vendredi_ dining together at little wineshops on mutton and cheese and
wine with an occasional pâté given as a treat by some member in funds
for the moment. He was not above enthusiasm for "_un certain pâté de
maquereau de Calais_" and he was fond of the theater and of all shows
where animals were to be seen. It is pleasantest of all to think of him
at his work, the beauty of which he knew and the ultimate success of
which he could hardly have doubted.

[Illustration: From the collection of the late Cyrus J. Lawrence, Esq.

A LIONESS

_From a bronze by Barye_]

In what does the extraordinary quality of this work consist? The
question is not difficult to answer, since, like most of the truly great
artists, Barye had clear-cut characteristics among which may be found
those that separate him from and raise him above his contemporaries.
Scientific grasp of detail and artistic generalization are to be found
in all his work where an animal is the subject, and this combination is
in itself a mark of greatness. If we should examine the exceptionally
fine collection of Barye bronzes belonging to the late Mr. Cyrus J.
Lawrence, and consisting of more than a hundred beautiful examples, or
the fine group in the Corcoran Gallery at Washington, we should soon
learn his manner and the type established by him in his animal subjects.
In the presence of so large a number of the works of a single artist,
certain features common to the whole accomplishment may easily be
traced. One dominating characteristic in this case is the ease with
which the anatomical knowledge of the artist is worn. Even in the early
bronzes the execution is free, large, and quite without the dry
particularity that might have been expected from a method the most
exacting and specific possible. Barye from the first went very deeply
into the study of anatomy, examining skeletons, and dissecting animals
after death to gain the utmost familiarity with all the bones and
muscles, the articulations, the fur and skin and minor details. His
reading of Cuvier and Lamarck indicates his interest in theories of
animal life and organism. He took, also, great numbers of comparative
measurements that enabled him to represent not merely an individual
specimen of a certain kind of animal, but a type which should be true in
general as well as in particular. He would measure, for example, the
bones of a deer six months old and those of a deer six weeks old,
carefully noting all differences in order to form a definite impression
of the normal measurements of the animal at different ages. He made
comparative drawings of the skulls of cats, tigers, leopards, panthers,
the whole feline species, in short, seeking out the principles of
structure and noting the dissimilarities due to differences in size. He
made innumerable drawings of shoulders, heads, paws, nostrils, ears,
carefully recording the dimensions on each sketch. Among his notes was
found a minute description of the characteristic features of a blooded
horse.

He was never content with merely an external observation of a subject
when he had it in his power to penetrate the secrets of animal
mechanism. He first made sketches of his subjects, of course, but
frequently he also modeled parts of the animal in wax on the spot to
catch the characteristic movement. His indefatigable patience in thus
laying the groundwork of exact knowledge suggests the thoroughness of
the old Dutch artists. He followed, too, the recommendation of
Leonardo--so dangerous to any but the strongest mind--to draw the parts
before drawing the whole, to "learn exactitude before facility."

[Illustration: From the collection of the late Cyrus J. Lawrence, Esq.

THE PRANCING BULL

("TAUREAU CABRÉ")

_From a bronze by Barye_]

A story is told of a visit paid him by the sculptor Jacquemart: "I will
show you what I have under way, just now," said he to his friend, and
looking about his studio for a moment, drew out a couple of legs and
stood them erect. After a few seconds of puzzled thought he remembered
the whereabouts of the other members, and finally drew out the head from
under a heap in a corner. And the statue once in place was conspicuous
for its fine sense of unity. It was not, of course, this meticulous
method, but the use he made of it, that led Barye to his great results.
His mind was strengthened and enriched by every fragment of knowledge
with which he fed it. It all went wholesomely and naturally to the
growth of his artistic ideas, and he does not appear to have been
interested in acquiring knowledge that did not directly connect itself
with these ideas. By his perfect familiarity with the facts upon which
he built his conceptions he was fitted to use them intelligently, omit
them where he chose, exaggerate them where he chose, minimize them where
he chose. They did not fetter him; they freed him; and he could work
with them blithely, unhampered by doubts and inabilities. It is most
significant both of his accuracy and his freedom that in constructing
his models he dispensed with the rigid iron skeleton on which the clay
commonly is built. Having modeled the different parts of his
composition, he brought them together and supported them from the
outside by means of crutches and tringles, after the fashion of the boat
builders, thus enabling himself to make alterations, corrections and
revisions to the very end of his task. The definitive braces were put in
place only at the moment of the molding in plaster.

[Illustration: PANTHER SEIZING A DEER

_From a bronze by Barye_]

For small models he preferred to use wax which does not dry and crack
like the clay. He also sometimes covered his plaster model with a layer,
more or less thick, of wax, upon which he could make a more perfect
rendering of superficial subtleties. Occasionally, as in the instance of
_The Lion Crushing the Serpent_, cast by Honoré Gonon, he employed the
process called _à cire perdue_, in which the model is first made in
wax, then over it is formed a mold from which the wax is melted out by
heat. The liquid bronze is poured into the matrix thus formed, and when
this has become cold the mold is broken off, leaving an almost accurate
reproduction of the original model, which is also, of course, unique,
the wax model and the mold both having been destroyed in the process.
Upon his _patines_ he lavished infinite care. Theodore Child has given
an excellent description of the difference between this final enrichment
of a bronze as applied by a master and the _patine_ of commerce. "The
ideal _patine_," he says, "is an oxydation and a polish, without
thickness, as it were, a delicate varnish or glaze, giving depth and
tone to the metal. Barye's green _patine_ as produced by himself has
these qualities of lightness and richness of tone, whereas the green
_patine_ of the modern proofs is not a _patine_, not an oxydation, but
an absolute application of green color in powder, a _mise en couleur_,
as the technical phrase is. In places this _patine_ will be nearly a
millimeter thick and will consequently choke up all delicate modeling,
soften all that is sharp, and render the bronze dull, _mou_, heavy. To
produce Barye's fine green _patine_, requires time and patience, and for
commercial bronze is impracticable. Barye, however, was never a
commercial man. When a bronze was ordered he would never promise it at
any fixed date; he would ask for one or two or three months; 'he did
not know exactly, it would depend on how his _patine_ came.'"

His patines are by no means all green; some of them are almost golden in
their vitality of color--the "_patine médaillé_," as in _The Walking
Deer_, which is a superb example; some are dark brown approaching black.
The most beautiful in color and delicacy which I have seen is that on
Mr. Lawrence's _Bull Felled by a Bear_ (_Taureau terrassé par un ours_),
a bronze which seems to me in many particulars to remain a masterpiece
unsurpassed by the more violent and splendid later works. Another
remarkable example of the effect of color possible to produce by a
_patine_ is furnished by the _Lion Devouring a Doe_ (_Lion devorant une
biche_), dated 1837. The green lurking in the shadows and the coppery
gleam on the ridge of the spine, the thigh, and the bristling mane, the
rich yet bright intermediate tones, give a wonderful brilliancy and
vitality to the magnificent little piece in which the ferocity of nature
and the charm and lovableness of art are commingled. In his interesting
book on Barye, published by the Barye Monument Association, Mr. De Kay
has referred to this work as an example of Barye's power to reproduce
the horrible and to make one's blood run cold with the ferocity of the
destroying beast. It seems to me, however, that it is one of the pieces
in which Barye's power to represent the horrible without destroying the
peace of mind to be found in all true art, is most obvious. With his
capacity for emphasizing that which he wishes to be predominant in his
composition he has brought out to the extreme limit of expression the
strength of the lion and its savage interest in its prey. The lashing
tail, the wrinkled nose, the concentrated eyes are fully significant of
the mood of the beast, and were the doe equally defined the effect would
be disturbing. But the doe, lying on the ground, is treated almost in
bas-relief, hardly distinguishable against the massive bulk of its
oppressor. The appeal is not to pity, but to recognition of the force of
native instincts. Added to this is the beauty, subtly distinguished and
vigorously rendered, of the large curves of the splendid body of the
lion. Even among the superb later pieces it would be difficult to find
one with greater beauty of flowing line and organic composition.

In the illustration we can see the general contour from one point of
view, but we cannot see the rhythm of the curves balancing and repeating
each other from the tip of the uplifted tail to the arch of the great
neck. Nor is a particle of energy sacrificed to these beautiful
contours. The body is compact, the head large and expressive of power,
the thick paws rest with weight on the ground. There is none of the
pulling out of forms so often employed to give grace and so usually
suggestive of weakness. The composition is at once absolutely graceful
and eloquent of immense physical force. In the _Panther Seizing a Deer_
(_Panthère saississant un Cerf_), one of the largest of the animal
groups, we have again the characteristic double curves, the fine play of
line, and the appropriate fitting of the figures into a long oval, and
also the minimizing of the cruelty of the subject by the reticent art
with which it is treated. We see clearly enough the angry jaws, the
curled tail, the weight of the attacking beast falling on the head of
its victim, dragging it toward the ground. Nothing is slighted or
compromised. We see even the gash in the flesh made by the panther's
claws and the drops of blood trickling from the wound. But we have to
thank Barye's instinct for refined conception that these features of the
work do not claim and hold our attention which is absorbed by the vital
line, the gracious sweep of the contours, the lovely surface, and the
omission of all irrelevant and unreasonable detail.

Many of Barye's subjects included the human figure and in a few
instances the human figure alone preoccupied him. Occasionally he was
very successful in this kind. The small silver reproduction of _Hercules
Carrying a Boar_ has the remarkable quality of easy force. The figure of
Hercules is without exaggerated muscles, is normally proportioned and
quietly modeled. His burden rests lightly on his shoulders, and his free
long stride indicates that the labor is joy. This is the ancient, not
the modern tradition, and the little figure corresponds, curiously
enough, with one of the male figures in the Piero di Cosimo mentioned at
the beginning of this article. In the latter case the strong man is
engaged in combat with a living animal, but he carries his strength with
the same assurance and absence of effort in its exercise. Barye,
however, does not always give this happy impression when he seeks to
represent the human figure. If we compare, for example, the bronze made
in 1840 for the Duke of Montpensier (_Roger Bearing off Angelica on the
Hippogriff_) with any of the animal groups of that decade or earlier, we
can hardly fail to be amazed at the lack of unity in the composition and
the distracting multiplicity of the details. If we compare the _Hunt of
the Tiger_ with the _Asian Elephant Crushing Tiger_ the great
superiority of the latter in the arrangement of the masses, the dignity
of the proportions, and in economy of detail, is at once evident. The
figures of the four stone groups on the Louvre, however, have a certain
antique nobility of design and withal a naturalness that put them in the
first class of modern sculpture, I think.

[Illustration: From the collection of the late Cyrus J. Lawrence, Esq.

THE LION AND THE SERPENT

("LION AU SERPENT")

_From a bronze by Barye_]

One point worthy of note in any comparison between Barye's animals and
his human beings is the intensity and subtlety of expression in the
former and the absence of any marked expression in the latter. His men
are practically masked. No passion or emotion makes its
impression on their features. Even their gestures, violent though they
may be, seem inspired from without and not by the impulse of their own
feelings. His animals on the contrary show many phases of what must be
called, for lack of a more exact word, psychological expression. A
striking instance of this is found in the contrast between the sketch
for _The Lion Crushing the Serpent_ and the finished piece. In the
sketch there is terror in the lion's face, his paw is raised to strike
at the reptile, his tail is uplifted and lashing, the attitude and
expression are those of terror mingled with rage and the serpent appears
the aggressor. In the finished bronze the lion is calmer and in obvious
possession of the field. The fierce claws pushing out from their
sheathing, the eyes that seem to snarl with the mouth, the massive paw
resting on the serpent's coiled body combine to give a subtle impression
of certain mastery, and the serpent is unquestionably the victim and
defendant in the encounter. It is by such intuitive reading of the
aspect of animals of diverse kinds, that Barye awakens the imagination
and leads the mind into the wilderness of the untamed world. He is
perhaps most himself when depicting moods of concentration. The fashion
in which he gathers the great bodies together for springing upon and
holding down their prey is absolutely unequaled among animal sculptors.
His mind handled monumental compositions with greater success, I think,
than compositions of the lighter type in which the subject lay at ease
or exhibited the pure joy of living which we associate with the animal
world.

Two exceptions to this statement come, however, at once to my mind--the
delightful _Bear in his Trough_ and the _Prancing Bull_. The former is
the only instance I know of a Barye animal disporting itself with
youthful irresponsibility, and the innocence and humor of the little
beast make one wish that it had not occupied this unique place in the
list of Barye's work. The _Prancing Bull_ also is a conception by itself
and one of which Barye may possibly have been a little afraid. With his
extraordinary patience it is not probable that he had the opposite
quality of ability to catch upon the fly, as it were, a passing motion,
an elusive and swiftly fading effect. But in this instance he has
rendered with great skill the curvetting spring of the bull into the air
and the lightness of the motion in contrast with the weight of the body.
This singular lightness or physical adroitness he has caught also in his
representation of elephants, the _Elephant of Senégal Running_, showing
to an especial degree the agility of the animal despite its enormous
bulk and ponderosity.

While Barye's most important work was accomplished in the field of
sculpture, his merits as a painter were great. His devotion to the study
of structural expression was too stern to permit him to lapse into
mediocrity, whatever medium he chose to use, and the animals he
created, or re-created, on canvas are as thoroughly understood, as
clearly presented, as artistically significant as those in bronze. With
every medium, however, there is, of course, a set of more or less
undefinable laws governing its use. Wide as the scope of the artist is
there are limits to his freedom, and if he uses water-color, for
example, in a manner which does not extract from the medium the highest
virtue of which it is capable he is so much the less an artist. It has
been said of Barye that his paintings were unsatisfactory on that score.
About a hundred pictures in oil and some fifty water-colors have been
put on the list of his works. Mr. Theodore Child found his execution
heavy, uniform, of equal strength all over, and of a monotonous impasto
which destroys all aerial perspective. I have not seen enough of his
painting in oils either to contradict or to acquiesce in this verdict;
but his water-colors produce a very different impression on my mind. He
uses body-color but with restraint and his management of light and shade
and his broad, free treatment of the landscape background give to his
work in this medium a distinction quite apart from that inseparable from
the beautiful drawing. In the painting that we reproduce the soft washes
of color over the rocky land bring the background into delicate harmony
with the richly tinted figure of the tiger with the effect of variety in
unity sought for and obtained by the masters of painting. The weight
and roundness of the tiger's body is brought out by the firm broad
outline which Barye's contemporary Daumier is so fond of using in his
paintings, the interior modeling having none of the emphasis on form
that one looks for in a sculptor's work. In his paintings indeed, even
more than in his sculpture, Barye shows his interest in the
psychological side of his problem. Here if ever he sees his subject
whole, in all its relations to life. The vast sweep of woodland or
desert in which he places his wild creatures, the deep repose commingled
with the potential ferocity of these creatures, their separateness from
man in their inarticulate emotions, their inhuman passions, their
withdrawn powerfully realized lives, their self-sufficiency, their part
in nature--all this becomes vivid to us as we look at his paintings and
we are aware that the portrayal of animal life went far deeper with
Barye than a mere anatomical grasp of his subject. Corot did not find
his tigers sufficiently poetic and altered, it is said, the tiger drawn
for one of his own paintings until he succeeded in giving it a more
romantic aspect. Barye's poetry, however, was the unalterable poetry of
life. He found his inspiration in realities but that is not to say that
his realities were external ones. He excluded nothing belonging to the
sentiment of his subject and comparison of his work with that of other
animal sculptors and painters deepens one's respect for the
penetrating insight with which he sought his truths.

Since Barye's death and the great increase in the prices of his work,
many devices have been used to sell objects bearing his name, but not
properly his work. For example, he produced for the city of Marseilles
some objects in stone (designed for the columns of the gateway), which
were never done in bronze; since his death these have been reduced in
size and produced in bronze as his work. Works of the younger Barye
signed by the great name are also confused with those of the father.
Further still, to the confusion of inexperienced collectors, the bronzes
of Méne, Fratin, and Cain, all artists of importance, but hardly
increasing fame, have had the signatures erased and that of Barye
substituted. It is therefore inadvisable to attempt at this date the
collection of Barye's bronzes without special knowledge or advice. The
great collections of early and fine proofs have been made. At the sale
of his effects after his death the models with the right of reproduction
were sold, and in many instances these modern proofs are on the market
bearing the name of Barye, with no indication of their modernity. Some
of these are so cleverly done that great knowledge is required to detect
them, and if they were sold for a moderate price, would be desirable
possessions. Certain dealers frankly sell a modern reproduction as
modern and at an appropriate price, but I know of one only, M.
Barbédienne, who puts a plaque with his initials on each piece produced
by him.

[Illustration: ASIAN ELEPHANT CRUSHING TIGER

_From a bronze by Barye_]

During Barye's lifetime he had, however, in his employ, a man named
Henri, who possessed his confidence to a full degree. A few pieces are
found with the initial of this man, showing that they were done under
his supervision and not that of Barye, but whether before or after the
death of the latter is not yet determined.



THE ART OF MARY CASSATT



II

THE ART OF MARY CASSATT


Some fifteen years ago, on the occasion of an exhibition in Paris of
Miss Cassatt's work a French critic suggested that she was then,
perhaps, with the exception of Whistler, "the only artist of an
elevated, personal and distinguished talent actually possessed by
America." The suggestion no doubt was a rash one, since, as much
personal and distinguished work by American artists never leaves this
country, the data for comparison must be lacking to a French critic; but
it is certainly true that, like Whistler, Miss Cassatt early struck an
individual note, looked at life with her own eyes, and respected her
intellectual instrument sufficiently to master it to the extent, at
least, of creating a style for herself. Born at Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, she studied first at the Philadelphia Academy, and later
traveled through Spain, Italy, and Holland in search of artistic
knowledge and direction. In France she came to know the group of
painters including Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas, and especially
influenced by the work of Degas, she turned to him for the counsel she
needed, receiving it in generous measure. It was a fortunate choice, the
most fortunate possible, if she wished to combine in her art the
detached observation characteristic in general of the Impressionist
school with a passionate pursuit of all the subtlety, eloquence and
precision possible to pure line. The fruit of his influence is to be
found in the technical excellence of her representations of life, the
firmness and candor of her drawing, her competent management of planes
and surfaces, and the audacity with which she attacks difficult problems
of color and tone. The extreme gravity of her method is the natural
result of working under a master whose intensity and austerity in the
pursuit of artistic truth are perhaps unequaled in the history of modern
art.

Her choice of subject is not, however, the inspiration of any mind other
than her own. She has taken for the special field in which to exercise
her vigorous talent that provided by the various phases of the maternal
relation. Her wholesome young mothers with their animated children,
comely and strong, unite the charm of great expressiveness with that of
profoundly scientific execution. The attentive student of art is well
aware how easily the former quality unsupported by the latter may
degenerate into the cloying exhibition of sentiment, and is equally
aware of the sterility of the latter practised for itself alone. With
expressiveness for her goal and the means of rendering technical
problems for her preoccupation, Miss Cassatt has arrived at hard-earned
triumphs of accomplishment. One has only to turn from one of her
recently exhibited pictures to another painted ten or twelve years ago
to appreciate the length of the way she has come. The earlier painting,
an oil color, is of a woman in a striped purple, white, and green gown,
holding a half-naked child, who is engaged in bathing its own feet, with
the absorbed expression on its face common to children occupied with
such responsible tasks. The bricky flesh tints of the faces and hands,
and the greenish half-tones of the square little body are too highly
emphasized, but a keen perception of facts of surface and construction
is obvious in the well-defined planes of the child's anatomy, in the
foreshortened, thin little arm pressing firmly on the woman's knee and
in the stout little legs, hard and round and simply modeled. There is
plenty of truth in the picture, but in spite of an almost effective
effort toward harmony of color, it lacks what the critics call "totality
of effect." The annotation of the various phenomena is too explicit, the
values are not finely related, and there is little suggestion of
atmosphere.

In the later picture this crudity is replaced by a beautiful fluent
handling and the mastery of tone. The subject is again a woman and
child, the latter just out of its bath, its flesh bright and glowing,
its limbs instinct with life and ready to spring with uncontrollable
vivacity. The modeling of the figures is as elusive as it is sure, and
in the warm, golden air by which they seem to be enveloped, the
well-understood forms lose all suggestion of the hardness and dryness
conspicuous in the early work. Another recent painting of a kindred
subject, _Le lever de bébé_, shows the same synthesis of detail, the
same warmth and richness of tone, the same free and learned use of line.
Obviously, Miss Cassatt has come into the full possession of her art and
is no longer constrained by the struggle, sharp and hard as it must have
been, with her exacting method--a method that has not at any time
permitted the sacrifice of truth to charm. Since art is both truth and
charm, record and poetry, there is a great satisfaction in watching the
flowering of a positive talent, after the inevitable stages of
literalism are passed, into the beauty of intelligent generalization. In
all the later work there is the important element of ease, a certain
graciousness of style, that enhances to a very great degree the beauty
of the serious, dignified canvases. And from the beginning these have
shown the admirable qualities of serenity and poise. There is no
superficiality or pettiness about these homely women with their deep
chests and calm faces, peacefully occupying themselves with their sound,
agreeable children. The air of health, of fresh and normal vigor, is
the characteristic of the chosen type, and lends a suggestion of the
Hellenic spirit to the modern physiognomies.

[Illustration: CHILD RESTING

_From an etching by Mary Cassatt_]

If, however, in her technique and in the feeling of quietness she
conveys, Miss Cassatt recalls the classic tradition, she is intensely
modern in her choice of natural, unhackneyed gesture, and faces in which
individuality is strongly marked and from which conventional beauty is
absent. Occasionally, as in the picture shown at Philadelphia in 1904,
and in the fine painting owned by Sir William C. Van Horne, we have a
face charming in itself and modeled in a way to bring out its
refinement, but in the greater number of instances the rather heavy and
imperfect features of our average humanity are reproduced without
compromise, with even a certain sense of triumph in the beautiful
statement of sufficiently ugly facts and freedom from a fixed ideal.

Nothing, for example, could be less in the line of academic beauty than
the quiet bonneted woman in the opera-box shown at the Pennsylvania
Academy in 1907. She has her opera-glass to her eyes and her pleasant
refined profile is cut sharply against the light balustrade of the
balcony. Other figures in adjoining boxes are mere patches of color and
of light and shade, telling, nevertheless, as personalities so acutely
are the individual values perceived and discriminated. The color is
personal and interesting, the difficult perspective of the curving line
of boxes is mastered with amazing skill; the fidelity of the drawing to
the forms and aspects of things seen gives expression to even the
inanimate objects recorded--and to painters who have tried it we
recommend the subtlety of that simply modeled cheek! The whole produces
the impression of solid reality and quick life and we get from it the
kind of pleasure communicated not by the imitation but by the evocation
of living truth. We note things that have significance for us for the
first time--the fineness of the hair under the dark bonnet, the pressure
of the body's weight on the arm supported by the railing, the relaxation
of the arm holding the fan, and very clever painting by artists of less
passionate sincerity takes on a meretricious look in contrast with this
closeness of interpretation.

This, perhaps, is the chief distinction of Miss Cassatt's art--closeness
of interpretation united to the Impressionist's care for the transitory
aspect of things. She follows the track of an outline as sensitively if
not as obviously as Ingres, and she exacts from line as much as it is
capable of giving without interference with the expressiveness of the
whole mass. She takes account of details with an unerring sense for
their appropriateness. She selects without forcing the note of
exclusion, and she thus becomes an artist of sufficiently general appeal
to be understood at once. She is not merely intelligent, but
intelligible; her art has no cryptic side. It is only the initiated
frequenter of galleries who will pause to reflect how tremendously it
costs to be so clear and plain.

In her etchings and drawings Miss Cassatt early arrived at freedom of
handling. The more responsive medium gave her an opportunity to produce
delightful studies of domestic life while she was still far from having
attained an easy control of pigment and brush. Her dry-points, pulled
under her own direction and enriched with flat tints of color, are
interesting and expressive, rich in line and large and full in modeling.
The color was not, however, wholly an improving experiment. Under the
friendly influence of time it may become an element of beauty, since in
no case is it either commonplace or crude, but in its newness it lacks
something of both delicacy and depth. The later etchings without color
are more nearly completely satisfying. The three charming
interpretations of children recently sent over to this country are full
of freshness and life, and are admirable examples of the brilliant use
of pure line. The attitude of the child in the etching reproduced here
is, indeed, quite an extraordinary feat of richness of expression with
economy of means. The heavy little head sagging against the tense arm,
the small, childish neck and thin shoulder are insisted upon just
sufficiently to render the mood of light weariness, and the little
face, full of individuality, is tenderly observed and modeled with
feeling. The psychological bent of the artist, her interest in the
portrayal of mental and moral qualities, is nowhere more clearly
revealed than in her drawings of children. She has never been content to
reproduce merely the physical plasticity and delicacy of infancy, but
has shown in her joyous babies and dreamy little girls at least the
potentiality of strong wills and clear minds. Great diversity of
character and temperament are displayed in the expressive curves of the
plump young faces, and the eyes, in particular, questioning, exultant,
wondering, reflective or merry, betray a penetrating and subtle insight
into the dawning personality under observation.

[Illustration: From the Wilstach Collection, Philadelphia.

ON THE BALCONY

_From a painting by Mary Cassatt_]

One of her earliest works recently has been added to the Wilstach
collection in Philadelphia. It shows a man and two women on a balcony.
The straight line of the balcony railing stretches across the foreground
without any modification of its rigid linear effect. The man's figure is
in shadow, barely perceptible as to detail, yet indicated without
uncertainty of drawing or vagueness of any kind, a solid figure the
"tactile values" of which are clearly recognized. One of the women is
bending over the railing in a half-shadow while the other lifts her face
toward the man in an attitude that makes exacting requirements of the
artist's knowledge of foreshortening. The whole is duskily brilliant
in color, full of the sense of form, simple, dignified, sturdy, opulent.
It shows that Miss Cassatt held at the beginning of her career as now,
valuable ideals of competency and lucidity in the interpretation of
life.

[Illustration: WOMAN WITH A FAN

_From a painting by Mary Cassatt_]



MAX KLINGER



III

MAX KLINGER


Max Klinger is one of the most interesting and representative figures in
the art of Germany to-day. Essentially German in manner of thought and
feeling, he has brought into the stiff formality of early nineteenth
century German painting and sculpture a plasticity of mind and an
elevation of purpose and idea that suggest (as most that is excellent in
Germany does suggest) the influence of Goethe. In his restless
interrogation of all the forms of representative art, his work in the
mass shows a curious mingling of fantasy, imagination, brusque realism,
antique austerity, and modern science. The enhancing of the sense of
life is, however, always the first thought with him, and lies at the
root of his method of introducing color into sculpture, not by the means
of a deadening pigment but by the use of marbles of deep tints and
positive hues, and of translucent stones. As an artist, his chief
distinction is this unremitting intention to convey in one way or
another the sense of the vitalizing principle in animate objects. We may
say of him that his drawing is sometimes poor, that his imagination may
be clumsy and infelicitous, that his treatment of a subject is
frequently coarse and even crude, but we cannot deny that out of his
etchings and paintings, and out of his great strange sculptured figures
looks the spirit of life, more often defiant than noble, more often
capricious than beautiful, but not to be mistaken, and the rarest
phenomenon in the art product of his native country. He unites, too, a
profound respect for the art of antiquity with a stout modern sentiment,
a union that gives to his better work both dignity and force. What he
seems to lack is the one impalpable, delicate, elusive quality that
makes for our enjoyment of so many imperfect productions, and the lack
of which does so much to blind us to excellence in other directions--the
quality of charm, which in the main depends upon the possession by the
artist of taste.

Max Klinger was born in Leipzig on the eighteenth of February, 1857. His
father was a man of artistic predilections, and in easy circumstances,
so that the choice of a bread-winning profession for the son was not of
first importance. As Klinger's talent showed itself at a very early age,
it was promptly decided that he should be an artist. He left school at
the age of sixteen, and went to Karlsruhe, where Gussow was beginning to
gather about him a large number of pupils. In 1875 he followed Gussow
to Berlin, where he came also under the influence of Menzel. Gussow's
teaching was all in the line of individualism and naturalism. He led his
pupils straight to nature for their model, and encouraged them to paint
only what they themselves saw and felt. For this grounding in the
representation of plain facts Klinger has been grateful in his maturer
years, and looks back to his first master with admiration and respect as
having early armed him against his tendency toward fantasy and idealism.
His early style in the innumerable drawings of his youth is thin and
weak, without a sign of the bold originality characterizing his recent
work, and he obviously needed all the support he could get from frank
and sustained observation of nature. His first oil-painting, exhibited
in Berlin in 1878, showed the result of Gussow's influence in its
solidity and practical directness of appeal, but a number of etchings,
executed that year and the next--forerunners of the important later
series--indicate the natural bent of the young artist's mind toward
symbolic forms and unhackneyed subjects.

[Illustration: BEETHOVEN

_From a statue in colored marble by Max Klinger_]

About the art of drawing as distinguished from that of painting he has
his own opinions, expressed with emphasis in an essay called _Malerei
und Zeichnung_. Drawing, etching, lithography and wood-engraving he
considers preeminently adapted to convey purely imaginative thoughts
such as would lose a part of their evanescent suggestiveness by
translation into the more definite medium of oil-color, and he holds
_Griffelkunst_, or the art of the point in as high estimation as any
other art for the interpretation of ideas appropriate to it, an opinion
not now as unusual as when he first announced it to his countrymen. For
about five years after the close of his student period, he occupied
himself chiefly with etchings, turning out between 1879 and 1883 no
fewer than nine of the elaborate "cycles" which are so expressive of his
method of thought, and of the best qualities of his workmanship. In
these cycles he delights in following a development not unlike that of a
musical theme, beginning with a prelude and carrying the idea through
manifold variations to its final expression. His curious history of the
finding of a glove which passes through different symbolic forms of
individuality in the dreams of a lover, is a fair example of his
eccentric and somewhat lumbering humor in the use of a symbol in his
earlier years. His etchings for Ovid's _Metamorphoses_ show the same
violent grasp of the lighter side of his subject, but in his landscape
etchings of 1881 we have ample opportunity to see what he could do with
a conventionally charming subject treated with conventional sentiment
and without symbolic intention. The moonlight scene which he calls
_Mondnacht_, has all the subtle exquisite feeling for harmony and tone
to be gained from a Whistler nocturne. The dim light on the buildings,
the soft sweep of the clouds across the dark sky, the impalpable
rendering, the grave and deep beauty of the scene combine to express the
essence of night and its mystery. The oil-painting _Abend_, of 1882,
also bears eloquent testimony to Klinger's power to evoke purely
pictorial images of great loveliness.

In 1882, after about a year of study in Munich, he painted the important
frescoes for the Steglitz Villa, in which the influence of Boecklin
played freely. It was in Paris, however, where he studied between 1883
and 1885, that Klinger received his strongest and most definite impulse
toward painting. His _Judgment of Paris_ revealed the fact that the
young painter had come into possession of himself, and could be depended
upon for qualities demanding constraint and a measure of severity. In
choosing a legend of antiquity for the subject of his picture, he may
have felt a psychological obligation to obey the greater influences of
the antique tradition. At all events he rather suddenly developed a
style of great maturity and firmness. From Paris he went back to Berlin,
but in 1889 he started for Rome, where he spent four profitable years.
The fruit of this Roman period has continued to ripen up to the present
time, although since 1893 Klinger has made his home in Leipzig, his
_wanderjahre_ apparently over and done with. He not only painted in
Rome a _Pietà_, a _Crucifixion_, and a number of pictures in which
problems of open-air painting are attacked, but he conceived there the
powerful series of etchings on the subject of death, and there he made
his first attempts in colored sculpture. From his earliest years, the
image of death had often solicited him, and some of his interpretations
are filled with dignity and pathos. In the slender, rigid figure on a
white draped bed, from the etching cycle entitled _Eine Liebe_, there is
the suggestion of a classic tomb, severe and impressive in outline,
while nothing could be more poignant than the emotional appeal of the
_Mutter und Kind_ in the second death series. To turn from these to the
two religious paintings executed in Rome, is to realize that eccentric
as Klinger often is, both in choice of subject and treatment, his
attitude toward the mysteries and problems of man's existence is that of
a serious thinker with a strong artistic talent, but a still stronger
intelligence. It is not, however, until we reach the period which he
devotes to sculpture, that we find in his art the quality of nobility, a
certain breadth, which in spite of innovations in execution and almost
trivial symbolic detail, impresses upon his conceptions the classic
mark.

He began his studies for his great polychromatic statue of Beethoven as
early as 1886, fifteen years before its completion. In 1892 it was
reported in Rome that he had turned to sculpture as a new field in
which to prove himself a master, and his first exhibited figure placed
him above the rank of the amateur. He threw himself into his new work
with his usual energy, making himself familiar with the technicalities
of marble cutting in order to follow the execution with intelligence at
every stage. He sought for his material with unwearying zest, taking
long journeys into Italy, Greece and the Pyrenees to procure marble with
the soft, worn, rich quality produced by exposure to the weather; with
this he combined onyx and brilliant stones, bronze, ivory and gold,
always with the intention of creating an impression of life in addition
to producing a decorative result. His strong decorative instinct comes
to his aid, however, in avoiding the incoherence that would seem
inevitable from the mixture of so many and such diverse materials, and
the equally strong intellectual motive always obvious in his work also
tends to hold it together in a more or less dignified unity. The
_Cassandra_, his second colored statue, finished in Leipzig in 1895, and
now in possession of the Leipzig Museum, is especially free from
eccentricity and caprice. The beautiful Greek head, with its deep-set
eyes and delicate mouth, is expressive of intense but normal feeling.
The flesh is represented by warm-toned marble, the hair is brownish-red,
the garment is of alabaster, yellowish-red with violet tones, and the
figure stands on a pedestal of Pyranean marble. In color effect,
however, the _Beethoven_ is the most striking. In _Les Maîtres
Contemporains_, M. Paul Mongré thus describes it:

"The pedestal, half rock, half cloud, which supports the throne of the
Olympian master, is of Pyranean marble of a dark violet-brown; the eagle
is of black marble, veined with white, its eyes are of amber. The nude
bust of Beethoven is of white Syrian marble, with light yellowish
reflections, the drapery, hanging in supple folds, is of Tyrolean onyx
with yellow-brown streaks in it. The throne of bronze is of a dull brown
tone, except in the curved arms, which are brilliantly gilded. Five
angel heads in ivory are placed like a crown on the inside of the back
of the throne; their wings are studded with multi-colored gems and with
antique fluorspar; the back of the throne is laid with blue Hungarian
opals." All these different elements, the French critic maintains, are
held together in reciprocal cohesion, and are kept subordinated to the
bold conception of Beethoven as the Jupiter of music--"the godlike power
accumulated and concentrated, on the point of breaking forth in
lightnings; the eagle in waiting, ready to take flight, as the visible
thought of Jupiter, before whom will spring up a whole world, or the
musical image of a world: that is what is manifested by this close
alliance of idea and form."

[Illustration: CASSANDRA

_From a statue in colored marble by Max Klinger_]

This monument to Beethoven is a performance designed to express not
merely the artistic interest of the subject for Klinger, but the
abounding enthusiasm of the latter for the great musician's genius.
Immediately after leaving Rome, Klinger also brought to completion a
series of etchings called _Brahms-phantasie_, and intended to illustrate
the emotions aroused by the compositions of Brahms. In 1901 he made a
portrait bust of Liszt, and his drawings for the _Metamorphoses_ were
dedicated to Schumann. In the autumn of 1906 his Brahms memorial was
placed in the new Music Hall in Hamburg. This memorial monument has the
form of a powerful Hermes with the head of Brahms. The Muse of tone is
apparently whispering secrets of art into the ears of the master. His
debt, therefore, to the masters of music may be considered as fully and
promptly paid, and the impression of hero-worship conveyed by these
ardent tributes is a reminder that the artist is young in temperament,
Teutonic in origin, and untouched by the modern spirit of indifference
to persons. Unlike many German artists of the present day, he did not
find in Paris the atmosphere that suited him. In spite of his years
there and in Rome, he has remained undisturbed by any anti-German
influence. His compatriots speak with pride of the intensely national
character of his mind, and have early recognized his importance, as
perhaps could hardly have failed to be the case with powers so far from
humble, and a method so far from patient. France also has paid him more
than one tribute of appreciation, and the general feeling toward him
seems now to be that expressed by one of his German admirers in America:
"Why criticize him? He is so overwhelming, so overpowering
intellectually that the best we can do is to try to understand him."



ALFRED STEVENS



IV

ALFRED STEVENS


An exhibition of the paintings of Alfred Stevens was held in April and
May, 1907, at the city of Brussels, and later in May and in June at the
city of Antwerp. The collection comprised examples from the museums at
Brussels, Antwerp, Paris and Marseilles, and from the galleries of many
private owners. It was representative in the fullest sense of the word,
showing the literal tendencies of the artist's youth in such pictures as
_Les Chasseurs de Vincennes_ (1855) tightly painted, conscientiously
modeled, with only the deep, resonant red of a woman's cape to indicate
the magnificent color-sense soon to be revealed; or _Le Convalescent_,
in which the two sympathetic women hovering over the languid young man
in a Paris drawing-room are photographically true to the life of the
time, without, however, conveying its spiritual or intellectual
expression; showing also the rich and grave middle period in which
beauty of face and form and the charm of elegant accessories are
rendered with singular intensity and perfect sincerity; as in _Les
Visiteuses_, _Désespérée_, etc.; and, finally, showing the psychological
synthesis of the later years, which reveals itself in such works as _Un
Sphinx Parisien_, baffling in its fixed introspective gaze, and executed
with an impeccable technique.

Many of the early pictures have a joyousness of frank workmanship, a
directness of attack and a simplicity of arrangement that appeal to the
world at large more freely than the subtler blonde harmonies of the
later years. The _Profil de Femme_ (1855) in which M. Lambotte discerns
the influence of Rembrandt, is more suggestive to the present writer of
familiarity with Courbet's bold, heavy impasto and sharp transitions
from light to shadow. The _Réverie_ of the preceding year has also its
suggestions of Courbet, in spite of the delicately painted flowers in
the Japanese vase; but in the pictures of the next few years, the robust
freshness of the painter's Flemish vision finds expression in
color-schemes that resemble nothing so much as the gardens of Belgium in
springtime, filled with hardy blossoms and tended by skillful hands; _La
Consolation_ of 1857, for example, in which the two black-robed women
form the heavy note of dead color against which are relieved the pink
and white of their companion's gown, the pale yellow of the wall, the
blue of the floor and the low, softly brilliant tones of the beautiful
tapestry curtain. Another painting of about the same time has almost
the charm of Fantin-Latour's early renderings of serious women bending
over their books or their sewing. In _La Liseuse_ the girl's face is
absorbed and thoughtful, the color harmony is quiet, the white dress,
the dull red of the chair, the blue and yellow and green wools on the
table, forming a pattern of closely related tones as various in its
unity as the motley border of an old-fashioned dooryard. In other
examples we have reminiscences of that time of excitement and esthetic
riot when the silks and porcelains and enamels of the Far East came into
the Paris of artists and artisans and formed at once a part of the
baggage of the Parisian atelier. _L'Inde à Paris_ is a particularly
delightful reflection of this period of "Chinoiseries." It depicts a
young woman in a black gown of the type that Millais loved, leaning
forward with both hands on a table covered with an Indian drapery. On
the table stands the miniature figure of an elephant. The background is
of the strong green so often used by Manet and the varied pattern of the
table cover gives opportunity for assembling a number of rich and vivid
yet quiet hues in an intricate and interesting color composition.

_La Parisienne Japonaise_ is a subject of the kind that enlisted
Whistler's interest during the sixties--a handsome girl in a blue silk
kimono embroidered with white and yellow flowers, and a green sash,
looks into a mirror that reflects a yellow background and a vase of
flowers. The colors are said to have faded and changed, to the complete
demoralization of the color-scheme, but it is still a picture of winning
charm, less reserved and dignified than Whistler's _Lange Leizen_ of
1864, but with passages of subtle color and a just relation of values
that have survived the encroachments of time.

From a very early period Stevens adopted the camel's-hair shawl with its
multi-colored border as the model for his palette and the chief
decoration of his picture. It is easier, says one of his French critics,
to enumerate the paintings in which such a shawl does not appear than
those in which it does. It slips from the shoulders of the _Désespérée_
and forms a wonderful contrast to the smooth fair neck and arm relieved
against it; it is the magnificent background of the voluminous gauzy
robe in _Une Douloureuse Certitude_; it falls over the chair in which
the young mother sits nursing her baby in _Tous les Bonheurs_; it hangs
in the corners of studios, it is gracefully worn by fashionable visitors
in fashionable drawing-rooms; its foundation color is cream or red or a
deep and tender yellow as soft as that of a tea-rose; it determines the
harmony of the colored silks and bric-à-brac which are in its vicinity,
it rules its surroundings with a truly oriental splendor, and it gives
to the work in which it plays so prominent a part an individuality
supplementary to the artist's own. It is as important as the rugs in the
pictures of Vermeer of Delft or Gerard Terborch.

[Illustration: L'ATELIER

_From a painting by Alfred Stevens_]

The silks and muslins of gowns and scarves are also important
accessories in these pictures which have a modernity not unlike that of
the pictures of Velasquez, in which the ugliness of contemporary
fashions turns to beauty under the learned rendering of textures and
surfaces. Bibelots and furnishings, wall-hangings, pictures, rugs,
polished floors, glass and silver and china and jewels are all likewise
pressed into the service of an art that used what lay nearest to it, not
for the purposes of realism but for the enchantment of the vision. M.
Lambotte has pointed out that Stevens introduced mirrors, crystals and
porcelains into his canvasses with the same intention as that of the
landscape-painter who makes choice of a subject with a river, lake or
pond, knowing that clear reflections and smooth surface aid in giving
the effect of distance and intervening atmosphere. The same writer has
told us that so far from reproducing the ordinary costumes of his period
Stevens took pains to seek exclusive and elegant examples, _chefs
d'oeuvres_ of the dressmaker's art, and that such were put at his
service by the great ladies of the second empire. The beautiful muslin
over-dress of the _Dame en Rose_ is perhaps the one that most taxed his
flexible brush. It is diaphanous in texture, elaborately cut and
trimmed with delicate laces and embroideries, and the rose of the
under-robe, the snowy white of the muslin, the silver ornaments and the
pale blonde hair of the wearer make the lightest and daintiest of
harmonies accentuated by the black of the lacquer cabinet with its
brilliant polychromatic insets.

Unlike Whistler, Stevens never abandoned the rich and complicated color
arrangements of his youth for an austere and restricted palette. He
nevertheless was at his best when his picture was dominated by a single
color, as in the wonderful _Fédora_ of 1882 or _La Tricoteuse_. In the
former the warmly tinted hair and deep yellow fan are the vibrant notes,
the creamy dress, the white flowers, the silver bracelet, and the white
butterfly making an _ensemble_ like a golden wheatfield swept by pale
lights. The piquant note of contrast is given by the blue insolent eyes
and the hardly deeper blue blossoms of the love-in-a-mist held in the
languid hands.

In _La Tricoteuse_ the composition of colors is much the same--a creamy
white dress with gray shadows, reddish yellow hair, and a bit of blue
knitting with the addition of a sharp line of red made by the signature.
There is no austerity in these vaporous glowing arrangements of a single
color. They are as near to the portraiture of full sunlight as pigment
has been able to approach and if it can be said that Whistler has
"painted the soul of color," it certainly can be said that Stevens here
has painted its embodied life. For the most part we have, however, to
think of Alfred Stevens as a portraitist of the ponderable world; a
Flemish lover of brilliant appearances, a scrupulous translator of the
language of visible things into the idiom of art. In the picture
entitled _L'Atelier_, which we reproduce, is a more or less significant
instance of his artistic veracity. On the crowded wall, forming the
background against which is seen the model's charming profile, is a
picture which obviously is a copy of the painting of _La Fuite en
Egypte_ by Breughel. Two versions of the same subject, one, the original
by Breughel the elder, the other, a copy by his son, now hang in the
Brussels Museum, alike in composition but differing in tone, the son's
copy having apparently been left in an unfinished condition with the
brown underpainting visible throughout. That this, and not the elder
Breughel's, is the original of the picture in Steven's _L'Atelier_ is
clear at the first glance, the warm tonality having been accurately
reproduced and even the drawing of the tree branches, which differs much
in the two museum pictures having conformed precisely to that in the
copy by the younger Breughel. It is by this accuracy of touch, this
respect for differences of texture and material, this recognition of the
part played in the ensemble by insignificant detail, this artistic
conscience, in a word, that Stevens demonstrates his descent from the
great line of Flemish painters and makes good their tradition in modern
life. Many of his sayings are expressive of his personal attitude toward
art. For example:

"It is first of all necessary to be a painter. No one is wholly an
artist who is not a perfect workman."

"When your right hand becomes too facile--more facile than the thought
that guides it, use the left hand."

"Do not put into a picture too many things which attract attention. When
every one speaks at once no one is heard."

Concerning technique, he says to his pupils: "Paint quantities of
flowers. It is excellent practice. Use the palette knife to unite and
smooth the color, efface with the knife the traces of the brush. When
one paints with a brush the touches seen through a magnifying glass are
streaked with light and shade because of the hairs of the brush. The use
of the palette knife renders these strokes as smooth as marble, the
shadows have disappeared. The material brought together renders the tone
more beautiful. Marble has never an ugly tone."

"One may use impasto, but not everywhere. Your brush should be handled
with reference to the character of what you are copying ... do not
forget that an apple is smooth. I should like to see you model a
billiard ball. Train yourself to have a true eye."

These are precepts that might be given by any good painter, but few of
the moderns could more justly claim to have practiced all that they
preached.

As a creative artist Stevens had his limitations. His lineal
arrangements are seldom entirely fortunate and his compositions, despite
the skill with which the given space is filled, lack except in rare
instances the serenity of less crowded canvasses. He invariably strove
to gain atmosphere by his choice and treatment of accessories but he
rarely used the delicate device of elimination. Nevertheless he was a
great painter and a great Belgian, untrammeled by foreign influences. He
not only drank from his own glass but he drank from it the rich old
wines of his native country.



A SKETCH IN OUTLINE OF JACQUES CALLOT



V

A SKETCH IN OUTLINE OF JACQUES CALLOT


In the Print Room of the New York Public Library are a large number of
etchings by Jacques Callot, which are a mine of wealth to the
painter-etcher of to-day, curious of the methods of his predecessors.
Looking at the portrait of Callot in which he appears at the height of
his brief career with well formed, gracious features, ardent eyes, a
bearing marked by serenity and distinction, an expression both grave and
genial, the observer inevitably must ask: "Is this the creator of that
grotesque manner of drawing which for nearly three centuries has borne
his name, the artist of the _Balli_, the _Gobbi_, the _Beggars_?" In
this dignified, imaginative countenance we have no hint of Callot's
tremendous curiosity regarding the most fantastic side of the fantastic
times in which he lived. We see him in the rôle least emphasized by his
admirers, although that to which the greater number of his working years
were dedicated: the rôle, that is, of moralist, philosopher and
historian, one deeply impressed by the sufferings and cruelties of which
he became a sorrowful critic.

There surely never was an artist whose life and environment were more
faithfully illustrated by his art. To know one is to know the other, at
least as they appear from the outside, for with Callot, as with the less
veracious and ingenuous Watteau, it is the external aspect of things
that we get and from which we must form our inferences. Only in his
selection of his subjects do we find the preoccupation of his mind; in
his rendering he is detached and impersonal, helping us out at times in
our knowledge of his mental attitude with such quaint rhymes as those
accompanying _Les Grandes Misères de la Guerre_, but chiefly confining
his hand to the representation of forms, relations and distances, with
as little concern as possible for the expression of his own temperament,
or for psychological portraiture of any sort.

In the little history, more or less authenticated, of his eventful youth
is the key to his charm as an artist, a charm the essence of which is
freedom, an easy, informal way of looking at the visible world, a light
abandon in the method of reproducing it, an independence of the tool or
medium, resulting in art which, despite its minuteness of detail, seems
to "happen" as Whistler has said all true art must. The beginning was
distinctly picturesque, befitting a nature to which the world at first
unfolded itself as a great Gothic picturebook filled with strange,
eccentric and misshapen figures.

One spring day in 1604, a band of Bohemians, such as are described in
Gautier's _Le Capitaine Fracasse_, might have been seen journeying
through the smiling country of Lorraine on their way to Florence to be
present there at the great Fair of the Madonna. No gipsy caravan of
to-day would so much as suggest that bizarre and irresponsible company
of men, women, and children, clad in motley rags, some in carts, some
trudging on foot, some mounted on asses or horses rivaling Rosinante in
bony ugliness, the men armed with lance, cutlass and rifle, a cask of
wine strapped to the back of one, a lamb in the arms of another. A
couple of the swarming children were decked out with cooking utensils,
an iron pot for a hat, a turnspit for a cane, a gridiron hanging in
front apron wise. Chickens, ducks, and other barnyard plunder testified
to the marauding course of the troop whose advent at an inn was the
signal for terrified flight on the part of the inmates. The camp by
night, if no shelter were at hand, was in the forest, where the
travelers tied their awnings to the branches of trees, built their
fires, dressed their stolen meats, and lived so far as they could
accomplish it on the fat of the land--for the most part of their way a
rich and lovely land of vine-clad hills and opulent verdure.

The period was lavish in curious gay figures to set against the peaceful
background of the landscape. Strolling players of the open-air
theaters, jugglers, fortune-tellers, acrobats, Pierrots, and dancers
amused the pleasure-loving people. The band of Bohemians just described
was but one of many. Its peculiarity consisted in the presence among its
members of a singularly fair and spirited child, about twelve years of
age, whose alert face and gentle manner indicated an origin unmistakably
above that of his companions. This was little Jacques Callot, son of
Renée Brunehault and Jean Callot, and grandson of the grandniece of the
Maid of Orleans, whose self-reliant temper seems to have found its way
to this remote descendant.

Already determined to be an artist, he had left home with almost no
money in his pocket and without the consent of his parents, set upon
finding his way to Rome, where one of his playfellows--the Israel
Henriet, "_son ami_," whose name is seen upon so many of the later
Callot prints--was studying.

Falling in with the gipsies, he traveled with them for six or eight
weeks, receiving impressions of a flexible, wanton, vagabond life that
were never entirely to lose their influence upon his talent, although
his most temperate and scholarly biographer, M. Meaume, finds little of
Bohemianism in his subsequent manner of living. Félibien records that
according to Callot's own account, when he found himself in such wicked
company, "he lifted his heart to God and prayed for grace not to join
in the disgusting debauchery that went on under his eyes." He added also
that he always asked God to guide him and to give him grace to be a good
man, beseeching Him that he might excel in whatever profession he should
embrace, and that he "might live to be forty-three years old." Strangely
enough this most explicit prayer was granted to the letter, and was a
prophecy in outline of his future.

Arriving in Florence with his friends the Bohemians, fortune seemed
about to be gracious to him. His delicate face with its indefinable
suggestions of good breeding attracted the attention of an officer of
the Duke, who took the first step toward fulfilling his ambition by
placing him with the painter and engraver, Canta Gallina, who taught him
design and gave him lessons in the use of the burin. His taste was
already for oddly formed or grotesque figures, and to counteract this
tendency Gallina had him copy the most beautiful works of the great
masters.

Possibly this conventional beginning palled upon his boyish spirit, or
he may merely have been impatient to reach Israel and behold with his
own eyes the golden city described in his friend's letters. At all
events, he shortly informed his master that he must leave him and push
on to Rome. Gallina was not lacking in sympathy, for he gave his pupil
a mule and a purse and plenty of good advice, and started him on his
journey.

Stopping at Siena, Callot gained his first notion of the style, later to
become so indisputably his own, from Duccio's mosaics, the pure
unshadowed outline of which he bore in mind when he dismissed shading
and cross-hatching from the marvelously expressive little figures that
throng his prints. He had hardly entered Rome, however, when some
merchants from the town of Nancy, his birthplace, recognized him and
bore him, protesting, back to his home.

Once more he ran away, this time taking the route to Italy through Savoy
and leading adventurous days. In Turin he was met by his elder brother
and again ignominiously returned to his parents. But his persistence was
not to go unrewarded. The third time that he undertook to seek the light
burning for him in the city of art, he went with his father's blessing,
in the suite of the ambassador dispatched to the Pope by the new duke,
Henry II.

It is said that a portrait of Charles the Bold, engraved by Jacques from
a painting, was what finally turned the scale in favor of his studying
seriously with the purpose of making art his profession. He had gained
smatterings of knowledge, so far as the use of his tools went, from
Dumange Crocq, an engraver and Master of the Mint to the Duke of
Lorraine, and from his friend Israel's father, chief painter to Charles
III. He had the habit also of sketching on the spot whatever happened to
attract his attention.

In truth he had lost but little time. At the age of seventeen he was at
work, and very hard at work, in Rome under Tempesta. Money failing him,
he became apprenticed to Philippe Thomassin, a French engraver, who
turned out large numbers of rubbishy prints upon which his apprentices
were employed at so much a day. Some three years spent in this fashion
taught Callot less art than skill in the manipulation of his
instruments. Much of his early work is buried in the mass of Thomassin's
production, and such of it as can be identified is poor and trivial. His
precocity was not the indication of rapid progress. His drawing was
feeble and was almost entirely confined to copying until 1616, when, at
the age of twenty-four, he began regularly to engrave his own designs,
and to show the individuality of treatment and the abundant fancy that
promptly won for him the respect of his contemporaries.

While he was in Thomassin's studio, it is reported that his bright charm
of face and manner gained him the liking of Thomassin's young wife--much
nearer in age to Callot than to her husband--and the jealousy of his
master. He presently left the studio and Rome as well, never to return
to either. It is the one misadventure suggestive of erratic tendencies
admitted to Callot's story by M. Meaume, although other biographers have
thrown over his life in Italy a sufficiently lurid light, hinting at
revelries and vagaries and lawless impulses unrestrained. If, indeed,
the brilliant frivolity of Italian society at that time tempted him
during his early manhood, it could only have been for a brief space of
years. After he was thirty all unquestionably was labor and quietness.

From Rome he went to Florence, taking with him some of the plates he
recently had engraved. These at once found favor in the eyes of Cosimo
II, of the Medici then ruling over Tuscany, and Callot was attached to
his person and given a pension and quarters in what was called, "the
artist's gallery." At the same time he began to study under the then
famous Jules Parigi, and renewed his acquaintance with his old friend
Canta Gallina, meeting in their studios the most eminent artists of the
day--the bright day not yet entirely faded of the later Renaissance.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF JACQUES CALLOT

_Engraved by Vosterman after the painting of Van Dyck_]

Still his work was copying and engraving from the drawings of others.
Had he been under a master less interested and sympathetic than the good
Parigi, it is possible that his peculiar talent would never have
declared itself. At all events, Parigi urged him, and the urging
seems to have been necessary, to improve his drawing, to drop the burin
and study the great masters. Especially Parigi prayed him to cultivate
his precious talent for designing on a very small scale the varied and
complicated compositions with which his imagination teemed. His taste
for whatever was fantastic and irregular in aspect had not been
destroyed by his study of the beautiful. The Bohemian side of human
nature, the only nature for which he cared, still fascinated his mind,
whether it had or had not any influence upon his activities, and
Parigi's remonstrances were silenced by his appreciation of the comic
wit sparkling in his pupil's sketches.

We see little of Callot among his friends of this period, but the
glimpses we get reveal a lovable and merry youth in whose nature is a
strain of sturdy loyalty, ardent in work and patient in seeking
perfectness in each individual task undertaken, but with a curious
contrasting impatience as well, leading him frequently to drop one thing
for another, craving the relaxation of change. An anecdote is told of
him that illustrates the sweet-tempered blitheness of spirit with which
he quickly won affection.

In copying a head he had fallen into an error common among those who
draw most successfully upon a small scale, he had made it much too
large. His fellow-students were prompt to seize the opportunity of
jeering at him, and he at once improvised a delightful crowd of impish
creatures on the margin of his drawing, dancing and pointing at it in
derision.

His progress under Parigi's wise instruction was marked, but it was four
years after his arrival in Florence before he began to engrave to any
extent from his own designs. In the meantime, he had studied
architecture and aerial and linear perspective, and had made innumerable
pen and pencil drawings from nature. He had also begun to practice
etching, attaining great dexterity in the use of the needle and in the
employment of acids.

In 1617--then twenty-five years old--he produced the series of plates
which he rightly deemed the first ripe fruits of his long toil in the
domain of art. These were the delightful _Capricci di varie figure_ in
which his individuality shone resplendent. They reproduced the spectacle
of Florence as it might then have been seen by any wayfarer; street
people, soldiers, officers, honest tradesmen and rogues, mandolin
players, loiterers of the crossways and bridges, turnpike-keepers,
cut-throats, buffoons and comedians, grimacing pantaloons, fops,
coquettes, country scenes, a faithful and brilliant study of the time,
the manners, and the place. Parigi was enthusiastic and advised his
pupil to dedicate the plates to the brother of the Grand Duke.

After this all went well and swiftly. Passing over many plates,
important and unimportant, we come three years later to the _Great Fair
of Florence_, pronounced by M. Meaume, Callot's masterpiece. "It is
doubtful," says this excellent authority, "if in Callot's entire work a
single other plate can be found worthy to compete with the _Great Fair
of Florence_. He has done as well, perhaps, but never better."

At this time his production was, all of it, full of life and spirit,
vivacious and fluent, the very joy of workmanship. He frequently began
and finished a plate in a day, and his long apprenticeship to his tools
had made him completely their master. In many of the prints are found
traces of dry point, and those who looked on while he worked have
testified that when a blank space on his plate displeased him he was
wont to take up his instrument and engrave a figure, a bit of drapery,
or some trees in the empty spaces, directly upon the copper, improvising
from his ready fancy.

For recreation he commonly turned to some other form of his craft. He
tried painting, and some of his admirers would like to prove that he was
a genius in this sort, but it is fairly settled that when once he became
entangled in the medium of color he was lost, producing the heaviest and
most unpleasing effects, and that he produced no finished work in this
kind. He contributed to the technical outfit of the etcher a new
varnish, the hard varnish of the lute-makers which up to that time had
not been used in etching, and which, substituted for the soft ground,
enabled him to execute his marvelous little figures with great lightness
and delicacy, and also made it possible for him to keep several plates
going at once, as he delighted to do, turning from one to another as his
mood prompted him.

This Florentine period was one of countless satisfactions for him. More
fortunate than many artists, he won his fame in time to enjoy it. His
productions were so highly regarded during his lifetime that good proofs
were eagerly sought, and to use Baldinucci's expression, were
"_enfermées sous sept clefs_." He was known all over Europe, and about
his neck he wore a magnificent gold chain given him by the Grand Duke
Cosimo II, in token of esteem. In the town which he had entered so few
years before in the gipsy caravan, he was now the arbiter of taste in
all matters of art, highly honored, and friend of the great. When Cosimo
died and the pensions of the artists were discontinued, Callot was quite
past the need of princely favors, and could choose his own path. He had
already refused offers from Pope and emperor and doubtless would have
remained in Florence had not Prince Charles of Lorraine determined to
reclaim him for his native place.

In 1621 or 1622 he returned to Nancy, never again to live in Italy. He
went back preeminent among his countrymen. He had done in etching what
had not been done before him and much that has not been done since. He
had created a new genre and a new treatment. He had been faithful to his
first lesson from Duccio and had become eloquent in his use of simple
outline to express joy, fear, calm or sorrow, his work gaining from this
abandonment of shadows a largeness and clearness that separates him from
his German contemporaries and adds dignity to the elegance and grace of
his figures. His skill with the etching needle had become so great that
technical difficulties practically did not exist for him. What he wished
to do he did with obvious ease and always with distinction. His feeling
for synthesis and balance was as striking as his love of the curious,
and as these qualities seldom go together in one mind, the result was an
art extremely unlike that of other artists. It was characteristic of him
that he could not copy himself, and found himself completely at a loss
when he tried to repeat some of his Florentine plates under other skies.

Arrived at Nancy, he found Henry II, the then reigning Duke of Lorraine,
ready to accord him a flattering welcome, and under his favor he worked
with increasing success. Among the plates produced shortly after his
return is one called _Les Supplices_, in which is represented all the
punishments inflicted throughout Europe upon criminals and legal
offenders. In an immense square the revolting scenes are taking place,
and innumerable little figures swarm about the streets and even upon the
roofs of the houses. Yet the impression is neither confused nor painful.
A certain impersonality in the rendering, a serious almost melancholy
austerity of touch robs the spectacle of its ignoble suggestion.
Inspection of this remarkable plate makes it easy to realize Callot's
supreme fitness for the tasks that shortly were to be laid upon him.

He was chosen by the Infanta Elisabeth-Claire-Eugenie of Austria to
commemorate the Siege of Breda, in a series of etchings, and while he
was in Brussels gathering his materials for this tremendous work he came
to know Van Dyck, who painted his portrait afterward engraved by
Vosterman, a superb delineation of both his face and character at this
important period of his eminent career. Soon after the etchings were
completed, designs were ordered by Charles IV, for the decorations of
the great carnival of 1627. Callot was summoned to Paris to execute some
plates representing the surrender of La Rochelle in 1628, and the prior
attack upon the fortress of St. Martin on the Isle of Ré. In Paris he
dwelt with his old friend Israel Henriet, who dealt largely in prints
and who had followed with keen attention Callot's constantly increasing
renown. Henriet naturally tried to keep his friend with him in Paris as
long as possible, but Callot had lost by this time the vagrant
tendencies of his youth. He was married and of a home-keeping
disposition, and all that Henriet could throw in his way of stimulating
tasks and congenial society, in addition to the formidable orders for
which he had contracted, detained him hardly longer than a year. Upon
leaving he made over all his Parisian plates save those of the great
sieges to Henriet, whose name as publisher appears upon them.

Callot's return to Nancy marked the close of the second period of his
art, the period in which he painted battles with ten thousand episodes
revealed in one plate, and so accurately that men of war kept his
etchings among their text-books for professional reference. The next
demand that was made upon him to represent the downfall of a brave city
came from Louis XIII, upon the occasion of his entering Nancy on the
25th of September, 1633. By a ruse Richelieu had made the entry
possible, and the inglorious triumph Louis deemed worthy of
commemoration by the accomplished engraver now his subject. Neither
Callot's high Lorraine heart nor his brilliant instrument was
subjugated, however, and he respectfully begged the monarch to absolve
him from a task so revolting to his patriotism. "Sire," he said, "I am
of Lorraine, and I cannot believe it my duty to do anything contrary to
the honor of my Prince and my Country." The king accepted his
remonstrance in good part, declaring that Monsieur of Lorraine was very
happy to have subjects so faithful in affection. Certain courtiers took
Callot to task, however, for his refusal to obey the will of His
Majesty, and to them Callot responded that he would cut off his thumb
rather than do violence to his sense of honor. Some of the artist's
historians have made him address this impetuous reply to the king
himself, but M. Meaume reminds us that, familiar with courts, he knew
too well the civility due to a sovereign to make it probable that he so
forgot his dignity. Later the king tried to allure Callot by gifts,
honors and pensions, but in vain. The sturdy gentleman preferred his
oppressed prince to the royal favor, and set himself to immortalizing
the misfortunes of his country in the superb series of etchings which he
called "_Les Misères de la Guerre_." He made six little plates showing
in the life of the soldier the misery he both endures and inflicts upon
others. These were the first free inspiration of the incomparable later
set called "_Les Grandes Misères_," "a veritable poem," M. Meaume
declares, "a funeral ode describing and deploring the sorrows of
Lorraine." These sorrows so much afflicted him that he would gladly
have gone back to Italy to spend the last years of his life, had not the
condition of his health, brought on by his indefatigable labor,
prevented him.

He lived simply in the little town where he had seen his young visions
of the spirit of art, walking in the early morning with his elder
brother, attending mass, working until dinner time, visiting in the
early afternoon with the persons, many of them distinguished and even of
royal blood, who thronged his studio, then working until evening. He
rarely attended the court, but grew constantly more quiet in taste and
more severe in his artistic method, until the feeling for the grotesque
that inspired his earlier years were hardly to be discerned. Once only,
in the tremendous plate illustrating the Temptation of Saint Anthony,
did he return to his old bizarre vision of a world conceived in the mood
of Dante and Ariosto.

Callot died on the 24th of March, 1635, at the age of forty-three. Still
a young man, he had passed through all the phases of temperament that
commonly mark the transit from youth to age. And he had used his art in
the manner of a master to express the external world and his convictions
concerning the great spiritual and ethical questions of his age. He
enunciated his message distinctly; there were no tender gradations, no
uncertainties of outline or mysteries of surface in his work. It is the
grave utterance of the definite French intelligence with a note of
deeper suggestion brought from those regions of ironic gloom in which
the Florentine recorded his sublime despair.



CARLO CRIVELLI



VI

CARLO CRIVELLI


Among the more interesting pictures acquired by the Metropolitan Museum
within the past two years are the panels by Carlo Crivelli, representing
respectively St. George and St. Dominic.

Crivelli is one of the fifteenth century Italian masters who show their
temperament in their work with extraordinary clearness. His spirit was
ardent and his moods were varying. With far less technical skill than
his contemporary, Mantegna, he has at once a warmer and more brilliant
style and a more modern feeling for natural and significant gesture. His
earliest known work that bears a date is the altar-piece in S. Silvestro
at Massa near Fermo; but his most recent biographer, Mr. Rushworth,
gives to his Venetian period before he left for the Marches, the Virgin
and Child now at Verona, and sees in this the strongest evidences of his
connection with the School of Padua. Other important pictures by him are
at Ascoli, in the Lateran Gallery, Rome, in the Vatican, in the Brera
Gallery at Milan, in the Berlin Gallery, in the National Gallery at
London, in Frankfurt (the Städel Gallery), in the Museum of Brussels, in
Lord Northbrook's collection, London, in the Boston Museum, in Mrs.
Gardiner's collection at Boston, and in Mr. Johnson's collection at
Philadelphia. The eight examples in the National Gallery, although
belonging for the most part to his later period, show his wide range and
his predominating characteristics, which indeed are stamped with such
emphasis upon each of his works that despite the many and great
differences in these, there seems to be little difficulty in recognizing
their authorship. No. 788, _The Madonna and Child Enthroned, surrounded
by Saints_, an altarpiece painted for the Dominican Church at Ascoli in
1476, is the most elaborate and pretentious of the National Gallery
compositions, but fails as a whole to give that impression of moral and
physical energy, of intense feeling expressed with serene art, which
renders the _Annunciation_ (No. 739) both impressive and ingratiating.
The lower central compartment is instinct with grace and tenderness. The
Virgin, mild-faced and melancholy, is seated on a marble throne. The
Child held on her arm, droops his head, heavy with sleep, upon her arm
in a babyish and appealing attitude curiously opposed to the dignity of
the Child in Mantegna's group which hangs on the opposite wall. His hand
clasps his mother's finger and his completely relaxed figure has
unquestionably been studied from life. At the right and left of the
Virgin are St. Peter and St. John, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St.
Dominic, whole-length figures strongly individualized and
differentiated. St. John in particular reveals in the beauty of feature
and expression Crivelli's power to portray subtleties and refinements of
character without sacrificing his sumptuous taste for accessories and
ornament. The Saint, wearing his traditional sheep skin and bearing his
cross and scroll, bends his head in meditation. His brows are knit, his
features, ascetic in mold and careworn, are eloquent of serious thought
and moral conviction. By the side of St. Peter resplendent in pontifical
robes and enriched with jewels, he wears the look of a young devout
novice not yet so familiar with sanctity as to carry it with ease. He
stands by the side of a little stream, in a landscape that combines in
the true Crivelli manner direct realism with decorative formality. The
St. Dominic with book and lily in type resembles the figure in the
Metropolitan, but the face is painted with greater skill and has more
vigor of expression. Above this lower stage of the altarpiece are four
half-length figures of St. Francis, St. Andrew the Apostle, St. Stephen
and St. Thomas Aquinas, and over these again are four pictures showing
the Archangel Michael trampling on the Dragon, St. Lucy the Martyr, St.
Jerome and St. Peter, Martyr, all full length figures of small size and
delicately drawn, but which do not belong to the original series. The
various parts of the altarpiece were enclosed in a splendid and ornate
frame while in the possession of Prince Demidoff in the latter half of
the nineteenth century and the whole is a magnificent monument to
Crivelli's art. The heavy gold backgrounds and the free use of gold in
the ornaments, together with the use of high relief (St. Peter's keys
are modeled, for example, almost in the round, so nearly are they
detached from the panel) represent his tendency to overload his
compositions with archaic and realistic detail, but here as elsewhere
the effect is one of harmony and corporate unity of many parts. The
introduction of sham jewels, such as those set in the Virgin's crown and
in the rings and medallions worn by Peter, fails to destroy the dignity
of the execution. It may even be argued that these details enhance it by
affording a salient support to the strongly marked emotional faces of
the saints and to the vigorous gestures which would be violent in a
classic setting.

[Illustration: ST. DOMINIC

_From a panel by Carlo Crivelli_]

A quite different note is struck in the grave little composition
belonging to an altarpiece of early date in which two infant angels
support the body of Christ on the edge of the tomb. Nothing is permitted
to interrupt the simplicity of this pathetic group. In the much more
passionate rendering of a similar subject--the _Pietà_ in Mr. Johnson's
collection--the child angels are represented in an agony of grief, their
features contorted and their gestures despairing. The little angels of
the National Gallery picture, on the contrary, are but touched by a
pensive sorrow. One of them rests his chin upon the shoulder of the
Christ half tenderly, half wearily; the other in fluttering robes of a
lovely yellow, applies his slight strength to his task seriously but
without emotion. The figure of Christ, tragically quiet, with suffering
brows, the wound in the side gaping, is without the suggestion of
extreme physical anguish that marks the figure in the Boston _Pietà_. The
sentiment with which the panel is inspired is one of gentleness, of
resignation, of self-control and piety. The same sentiment is felt in
the companion panel, now in the Brussels Gallery--_The Virgin and the
Child Jesus_--which originally, with the _Pietà_, formed the central
double compartment of a triptych at Monte Fiore, near Fermo. The sad
coloring of the Virgin's robe--a dull bluish green with a gold pattern
over an under robe of pale ashes of roses, the calm, benign features,
the passive hands, are all in the spirit of subdued feeling. The child
alone, gnomish in expression and awkward in a straddling attitude upon
his mother's knee, fails to conform to the general gracious scheme.

In the _Annunciation_ already mentioned, we have another phase of
Crivelli's flexible genius--a phase in which are united the pomp and
splendor of his fantastic taste with the innocence and sweetness of his
most engaging feminine type. It would be difficult to imagine a more
demure and girlish Virgin than the small kneeling figure in the richly
furnished chamber at the right of the panel. The glory of her fate is
symbolized by the broad golden ray falling from the heavens upon her
meekly bowed head. Her face is pale with the dim pallor that commonly
rests upon Crivelli's flesh tones, and her clasped hands have the
exaggerated length of finger and also the look of extraordinary
pliability which he invariably gives. Outside the room in the open court
kneels the Angel of the Annunciation and by his side kneels St. Emedius,
the patron of Ascoli, with a model of the city in his hands. These
figures are realistic in gesture and expression, interested, eager,
responsive, filled with quick life and joyous impulse. The richly
embroidered garment of the angel, his gilded wings, his traditional
attitude, neither overpower nor detract from the vivid individuality of
the beautiful face so firmly yet so freely modeled within its delicate
hard bounding line. This feeling of actuality in the scene is carried
still farther by the introduction of a charming little child on a
balcony at the left, peering out from behind a pillar with naive
curiosity and half-shy, half-bold determination to see the end of the
adventure. All this is conceived in the spirit of modernity and the
personal quality is unmistakable and enchanting. There is no excess of
emotion nor is there undue restraint. There is a blithe sense of the
interest of life and the personality of human beings that gives a value
to the subject and a meaning beyond its accepted symbolism. On the
technical side, also, the panel has remarkable merit even for this
expert and careful painter. His Venetian fondness for magnificent
externals finds ample expression in the rich accessories. A peacock is
perched on the casement of the Virgin's room, flowers and fruits, vases
and variegated marbles all come into the plan of the handsome
environment, and are justified artistically by the differentiation of
textures, the gradation of color, the research into intricacies of
pattern, the light firm treatment of architectural structure, and the
skilful subordination of all superficial detail to the elements of the
human drama, the figures of which occupy little space, but are
overwhelming in significance.

[Illustration: In the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

ST. GEORGE

_From a panel by Carlo Crivelli_]

It is interesting to compare this _Annunciation_ with the two small
sextagonal panels of the same subject in the Städel Museum at Frankfurt
which are earlier in date. In many respects the compositions are closely
similar. There is the same red brick wall, the same Oriental rug hanging
from the casement, the types of Angel and Virgin are the same, but in
the Frankfurt panel there is more impetuous motion in the gesture of the
Angel, who hardly pauses in his flight through air to touch his knee to
the parapet. His mouth is open and the words of his message seem
trembling on his lips. Although all the outlines are severely defined
with the sharpness of a Schiavone, the interior modeling is sensitive
and delicate and in the case of the Virgin, tender and softly varied, so
that the curve of the throat and chin seem almost to ripple with the
breathing, the young chest swells in lovely gradation of form under the
close bodice, and the whole figure has a graciousness of contour, a slim
roundness and elasticity by which it takes its place among Crivelli's
many realizations of his ideal type as at least one of the most lovable
if not the most characteristic and personal. Especially fine, also, is
the treatment of the drapery in these two admirable little panels. The
mantle surrounding the angel billows out in curling folds as eloquent of
swift movement as the draperies of Botticelli's striding nymphs; and the
opulent line of the Virgin's cloak is superb in its lightly broken swirl
about the figure. The hair, too, of both the Angel and the Virgin, waves
in masses at once free and formal, with something of the wild beauty of
Botticelli's windblown tresses. The analogy between the two painters,
the ardent and poetic Florentine and the no less ardent and at times
almost as poetic Venetian (if we accept his own claim to the title),
might be further dwelt upon, although it would be easy to overemphasize
it. One attribute, certainly, they had in common and it is the one that
most completely separates each of them from his fellows--the exultant
_verve_, that is, with which the human form is made to communicate
energy of movement in their compositions. It is impossible to believe
that either of them ever painted a tame picture. If, however, Crivelli
could not be tame he could be insipid, escaping tameness by what might
be called the violence of his affectation. The _St. George_ in the
Metropolitan Museum is an instance of his occasional use of a type so
frail and languid in its grace and so sentimental in gesture and
expression as to suggest caricature. Another example dated 1491 is the
_Madonna and Child Enthroned_ in the National Gallery. On either side of
the melancholy Madonna are St. Francis and St. Sebastian. The latter is
pierced by arrows and tied to a pillar, but so far from wearing the look
of suffering or of calm endurance, he has a trivial glance of
deprecation for the observer, and his figure is wholly wanting in the
force of young manhood. A striking contrast to this effeminate mood may
be found in No. 724, also a _Madonna Enthroned_, between St. Jerome and
St. Sebastian, a late signed picture of Crivelli's declining talent,
with a predella below the chief panel in which appear St. Catherine,
St. Jerome in the Wilderness, the Nativity, the Martyrdom of St.
Sebastian again, and St. George and the Dragon. The little compartment
containing the scene of the Nativity is quite by itself among Crivelli's
works for intimate and homely charm. The simplicity of the surroundings
and the natural attitudes of the people have an almost Dutch character,
borne out by the meticulous care for detail in the execution united to
an effect of chiaro-oscuro very rare in early Italian art and hardly to
be expected in a painter of Crivelli's Paduan tendencies. The St. George
is more characteristic, with an immense energy in its lines. In
arrangement it recalls the St. George of Mrs. Gardiner's collection and
despite its small size is almost the equal of that magnificent example
in concentration and fire.

[Illustration: In the Metropolitan Museum, New York.

PIETÀ

_From a panel by Carlo Crivelli_]

Still another type, and one that combines dignity and much spirituality
with naive realism, is the _Beato Ferretti_ (No. 668), showing an open
landscape with a village street at the right and a couple of ducks in a
small pond at the left, the Beato kneeling in adoration with a vision of
the _Virgin and Child_ surrounded by the _Mandorla_ or _Verica_ glory
appearing above. The kneeling saint is realistically drawn and his face
wears an expression of intense piety. The landscape is marked by the
bare twisted stems of trees, that seem to repeat the rigid and
conceivably tortured form of the saint. A beautiful building with a
domed roof is seen at the right. At the top of the picture across the
cloud-strewn sky is a festoon of fruits, Crivelli's characteristic
decoration.

[Illustration: In the Städel Gallery at Frankfort.

A PANEL BY CARLO CRIVELLI (_a_)]


[Illustration: In the Städel Gallery at Frankfort.

A PANEL BY CARLO CRIVELLI (_b_)]


In all these pictures Crivelli reveals himself as an artist filled with
emotional inspiration, to whom the thrill of life is more than its
trappings, and one, moreover, who observes, balances and differentiates.
The society of his saints and angels is stimulating; the element of the
unexpected enters into his work in open defiance of his pronounced
mannerism. It is possible to detect beneath the close and manifold
coverings of his ornate decoration a swift flame of imaginative impulse
such as Blake sent into the world without such covering. He would have
pleased Blake by this nervous energy and by his pure bright coloring,
despite the fact that he signed himself "Venetus." He painted in tempera
and finished his work with care and deliberation. It is remarkable that
so little of his mental fire died out in the slow process of his
execution. It is still more remarkable that in spite of his reactionary
tendencies, his archaistic use of gold and relief at a moment when all
great artists were renouncing these, he is intensely modern in his
sentiment. He seems to represent a phase of human development at which
we in America have but recently arrived; a phase in which appreciation
of ancient finished forms of beauty is united to a restless eagerness
and the impulse toward exaggerated self-expression. He is supposed to
have been born about 1440, which would make him a contemporary of the
two Bellini, of Hans Memling and of Mantegna. Had he only been able to
give his imagination a higher range--had he possessed a more controlling
spiritual ideal, had the touch of self-consciousness that rests like a
grimace on the otherwise lovely aspect of much of his painting, been
eliminated, he would have stood with these on the heights of fifteenth
century art. We are fortunate to have in America the Boston Museum
_Pietà_, which shows him in one of his most temperate moods, the _Pietà_
of Mr. Johnson's collection, which is the emphatic expression of his
least restrained moments, the _St. George_ of Mrs. Gardiner's
collection, in which his grasp of knightly character and pictorial grace
is at its best, and these two strongly contrasted types of the
Metropolitan Museum.



REMBRANDT AT THE CASSEL GALLERY



VII

REMBRANDT AT THE CASSEL GALLERY


The art gallery of Cassel is well known to connoisseurs as containing a
group of Rembrandts of the first order. The earliest example is a small
painting of a boy's head supposed to be a portrait of the artist at the
age of twenty or one and twenty; Dr. Bode considers 1628 too late rather
than too early as the probable date, and the same authority warns us
against considering such studies in the light of serious portraiture:
"It had never occurred to the young artist," he says, "to make a
dignified portrait of himself at the time when he painted these
pictures." The execution is clumsy, the color is dull and heavy and of
the brownish tone common to Rembrandt's early painting, and much of the
drawing--as in the rings of hair escaping to the surface from the thick
curling mass--is meaningless and indefinite, but the distribution of
light and shade is not unlike that of Rembrandt's later work and the
touch has a certain bold freedom that seems to have been his from the
first whenever he served as his own model, even while his handling was
still hard and prim in his portraits of others. Another work ascribed
to his early period, about 1634, is the "Man with a Helmet," also
commonly known as a self-portrait, fluent in execution and vivacious and
lifelike in expression, yet not without that hint of conscious pose
common with the artist in his endeavors to force the note of character.
The blunt, strong features are strikingly like those of the
authenticated portraits of the artist, but Dr. Karl Voll, Director of
the Alt Pinakothek at Munich, declares that the idea of a
"self-portrait," attractive as it is, can hardly in this case be upheld.
Whoever the sitter may have been, the painting is an amazing example of
dexterity of hand and acute observation. The sharp glitter of the
helmet, the contrasting flesh-like quality of the painting in the face,
the light vigorous drawing of the moustache and hair, give an impression
of the artist's mastery of his craft hardly to be surpassed at any
period of his life. Far less poetic in its color-scheme and
chiaro-oscuro than the youthful portrait belonging to Mrs. Gardiner's
collection, it is even more eloquent of the ease with which he managed
his tools. Of a still greater charm, with subtler problems met and
solved, is the portrait of Saskia van Ulenburgh, whom he married in
Amsterdam in the year 1634, the probable date of the Cassel portrait. At
all events the young woman carries in her hand a spray of rosemary, the
symbol of betrothal, and her dress has the richness of a Dutch bride's
equipment. Here we see Rembrandt's art in perhaps its most delicate and
psychologically interesting phase. The character revealed by the small
pretty features has neither extraordinary force nor marked
individuality. The lines are neither deep-cut nor broad. One is reminded
of a fine little etching in which the plate has been bitten only to a
moderate depth and which requires a sensitive handling in the printing
to produce anything like richness. Yet the result is rich in the fullest
sense of the term. It depends for its quality not only upon the splendid
color-scheme formed by the dark red of the velvet hat and gown, the
white of the feather, the gold and gray and dull blue of the trimmings
and ornaments, the beautiful jewels, with which Rembrandt then as later
produced an appearance of great magnificence, the bright red-gold of the
hair falling lightly over the softly modeled brow, and the fair warm
tones of the flesh glowing as from living health and physical energy: it
depends as much upon the deep research into the expression that has
resulted in the intimate portraiture possible only to genius and seldom
found even in the work of the great masters, never, so far as the
writer's observation has gone, in the work of their later years. The
smile that hesitates at the corner of the whimsical little mouth, the
tender modulations of surface on the forehead and about the
straight-gazing honest eyes, the swift suggestions of movement and play
of mood in the flexible contours, the gaiety and sweetness and singular
purity of the girlish face, are evoked with magisterial authority and
precision. Never surely has there been a finer example of Dutch care and
thoroughness in the observation and rendering of minute detail united to
breadth of effect. The painting of the jewels and embroideries is
wrought to a singularly perfect finish. It is almost as though the
artist had set himself to extract the utmost beauty of which the
textures of stuffs and gems are capable, to prove how much more
enchanting was the beauty of the brilliant blond demure little face
daintily poised above them. Dr. Bode calls the picture "one of the most
attractive, not only of his early pictures, but of all his works."

[Illustration: Courtesy of Berlin Photographic Company.

SASKIA

_From a portrait by Rembrandt_]

To Rembrandt's early years also are ascribed certain careful studies of
old men's heads and several portraits of younger men. Among these are
one of the writing-master Coppenol and one of the poet Krul, the former
painted in 1632, the latter in 1633. The Krul portrait is the more
striking of the two, and the pictorial costume with the broad hat
casting its lucent shadow over the fine brow, the silken jacket with its
gleaming reflections and the wide white ruffles at neck and sleeve on
which the light blazes full, adds to the dignity and richness of the
effect. It is easy, however, to agree with Dr. Voll in ranking the
splendid portrait of an unknown man, of some five or six years later
date, far above the Krul portrait in artistic quality. Although
excessively warm in tone it has in addition to excellent construction
and a lifelike aspect a nobility of bearing that imposes itself directly
and irresistibly upon the spectator.

The portrait of Coppenol is not easily analyzed and Dr. Bode notes that
the likeness to the authenticated portraits of the famous drawing master
is not altogether convincing. Simpler and homelier in appearance than
the portrait of Krul, this solid and even heavy figure seated
comfortably in an armchair, the well-drawn hands busy with mending a
quill pen, the glance reflective, but hardly thoughtful, the mouth under
the small fair moustache slightly indeterminate, the head covered with
short hair, the smooth fat face three-quarters in light, presents at
first glance a commonplace aspect enough. But returning to it from the
Krul or even from the more masterly later portrait, the spectator is
certain to be deeply impressed by the quiet yet searching execution that
takes account of every significant change in plane or outline in the
large cheek and full chin. From the very commonplace of the pose and
type one gains a special pleasure, since the power of the artist to
irradiate an ordinary subject is the more clearly seen. The serene light
enveloping the good head and falling gently on the background brings no
thought of method or pigment to the mind, and the fleshlike quality of
the face and hands is as near imitation of reality as is possible within
the bounds of synthetic art. It is easy to agree with Dr. Bode's opinion
that the homely simple portraits painted in ordinary costume and under
ordinary conditions of light during Rembrandt's first three years in
Amsterdam are intellectually more worth while than the earlier more
personal works. The theory is that he turned them out in competition
with his contemporaries and eclipsed them on their own ground.

The portrait of "Rembrandt's Father in Indoor Dress," of the preceding
year (1631), is in a quite different manner, and closely resembles the
painting in Boston of an old man with downcast eyes, from the same
model. The bald head and scanty beard, the wrinkled face and slightly
uncertain mouth, are familiar to all students of Rembrandt's art. In
1631 Rembrandt was still in his father's house and one gains some notion
of the old miller's amiability from the frequency with which he appeared
in etchings and paintings and the variety of the poses which he took on
behalf of his ardent son, adjusting his expression to his assumed
character with no little dramatic skill. Never in his later years did
Rembrandt so delicately render the patience and discipline of age. In
this alert, unprepossessing yet kindly face we can read a not too
fanciful history of the temperament of the sitter. We see, at all
events, the mark of a sympathetic mind.

The next picture in the collection to mark a special period and one of
brilliant achievement in Rembrandt's career is the so-called
"Woodcutter's Family," belonging to the decade between 1640 and 1650.
After an old fashion the Holy Family is represented as seen in a
painting before which a curtain is partly drawn. The mother sits by the
side of a cradle from which she has lifted the child who clings to her
neck while she presses him to her in a close embrace. In the farther
corner of the room is the figure of the father in his carpenter's apron,
and in the center a cat is crouching near some dishes on the floor. The
room is filled with a mild sunlight that filters through the air and
falls across the figures of the mother and child and across the broad
expanse of floor. The simplicity and poetic feeling in lighting and
gesture are worthy of Rembrandt's prime, and there is no trace of the
extreme drama that marks the religious compositions at Munich. The color
is beautiful and the tone mysterious. Nevertheless one misses the
precious quality of the earlier craftmanship as it shines in such lovely
paintings as the "Saskia" and the "Portrait of a Young Woman." In these
the painter shows that he was still young, that he had arrived at a
skill of hand that permitted him to use his medium with ease and
certainty, but that he had not yet ceased to attempt what lay just
beyond his powers. His brush still sought out subtle refinements of
modeling with the patience that allied him to the earlier Dutch and
Flemish masters. He had, no doubt, the instinctive feeling of ardent
youth, the assumption of time ahead for the carrying out of all
projects, and his brilliant manipulations of his pigment showed neither
haste, nor as yet the complete confidence that leaves untold the detail
of the story for the imagination of the audience to supply. He was not
ready to sacrifice everything else to that light and atmosphere of which
he made his own world in his later years. Characteristic of his most
winning use of this light that he created for his own purposes is the
portrait of Nicholas Bruyningh, Secretary of one of the divisions of the
Courts of Justice at Amsterdam: one of the most salient and brilliant of
the Rembrandts in the Cassel Gallery. This portrait belongs to the year
1652 when the artist was about forty-five years old, and it is a superb
example of matured genius. The subject offered an opportunity for daring
handling and pictorial arrangement upon which Rembrandt seized with a
full understanding of its possibilities. The beautiful gay face with its
suggestion of irresponsibility glows from a mist of atmosphere that
veils all minor detail, leaving in strong relief the mass of curling
hair, the smiling dark eyes, the smiling mouth unconcealed by the slight
moustache, the firmly modeled nose and pliant chin, with the tasseled
collar below catching the point of highest light. It is the poetry of
good humor, of physical beauty, of content with life and life's
adventures. It also marks what Herr Knackfuss calls Rembrandt's "softer
manner" in which all sharp outlines of objects are effaced, and the
lights gleam from a general darkness. More than "The Sentinel," which
sometimes is given as the starting point for this departure in style, it
has the appearance of a dramatic emergence from shadow. From having been
a painstaking craftsman Rembrandt at this time had become a dramatist
selecting from his material those elements best adapted to sway the
emotions. He has lost himself--or found himself--in the expression of
character; not merely character as one element in a picture's interest,
but character as _the_ element. In this picture of Nicholas Bruyningh we
cannot escape from the merry careless temperament. We cannot as in the
early portrait of Saskia linger in dalliance over charming accessories
and beautifully discriminated textures until we reach by moderate
degrees the eloquence of the profoundly studied face. Bruyningh's face
is like the "_tirade_" of a French play--it is rendered at white heat
and in one inconceivably long breath. Its significance is so intensified
as to produce a profound feeling in a sympathetic spectator.

[Illustration: Courtesy of Berlin Photographic Company. In the Cassel
Museum.

NICHOLAS BRUYNINGH

_From a portrait by Rembrandt_]

If we compare it with the badly named "Laughing Cavalier" of Franz Hals
we see clearly enough the difference between drama and realism. Drama as
defined by Robert Louis Stevenson consists not of incident but of
passion that must progressively increase in order that the actor may be
able to "carry the audience from a lower to a higher pitch of interest
and emotion." This also defines Rembrandt's painting at all periods. As
one approaches the human face in his pictures one becomes aware of an
emotional quality that is irresistible, and in a portrait like that of
Bruyningh the emotional quality is almost isolated from incident or
detail. It is the great moment of the third act when the audience holds
its breath.

"The Standard Bearer" is not accepted by Dr. Bode as a fine work or even
as certainly original, the version of the same subject in Baron G. du
Rothschild's collection having made much deeper an impression upon him.
The Cassel version is nevertheless a work of great distinction, the
grave and beautiful face and shining armor looking out of a luminous
atmosphere that has more of the Rembrandtesque quality than many
authenticated works of Rembrandt's riper period. The work is engaging,
personal, striking, and if not entirely great certainly possessed of
many of the qualities of greatness.

While the Cassel collection does not contain any of the superb self
portraits of Rembrandt's later years, the one example in this kind
having authority without great interest, it does include one biblical
picture of unusual importance belonging to the year 1656, the "Jacob
Blessing his Grandchildren," which is, however, unfinished. The square,
direct brush strokes suggest those of Hals, the drapery is thinly
painted with a flowing medium, the black shadows on the face of Jacob
cut sharply into the half tones, there is little discrimination in the
textures and the background comes forward. But the faces of the children
are charming in characterization, recalling the simple tenderness of the
"Girl Leaning Out of the Window" at Dulwich, one of the most enchanting
embodiments of youth ever achieved by Rembrandt, and the woman,
Israelitish in type, with large eyes and features rather abruptly
defined, is an attractive attempt to realize feminine beauty, a task in
which Rembrandt was never dexterous, however.

Of the two landscapes, that with the ruined castle is the most
impressive, but neither compares favorably with the dainty perfection of
the landscape etchings.

If we add to these examples the studies of old men's heads and the
delightful portrait of the artist's sister holding a pink in her hand,
we realize that the group as a whole covers many phases of Rembrandt's
constantly changing inspiration. He betrayed in his later works the
impatience of those to whom few years are left in which to complete
their accomplishment, but he kept the sensitiveness of his youth well
into his brief prime, although he transferred it from the field of form
to that of light. It betrays itself in the quality of that light which
absorbs all that is ugly, coarse, or ultra real in its poetizing
glamour. From the tender explicit craftsmanship of the wonderful Saskia
to the golden mist enveloping the figure of Nicholas Bruyningh, is a
long step, but not longer than many a painter has taken in his progress
from youth to maturity. The special comment upon Rembrandt's character
as a painter which we are able to gather from the Cassel pictures is
that in casting off the trammels of particularity he did not become less
receptive to poetic influences. He grew more and more a dreamer, and in
losing the clear objective manner of his early portraits he substituted
not the idle carelessness which in the work of a painter's later years
is apt to be condoned as freedom, but the generalization that excludes
vulgarities of execution and makes necessary increased mastery of the
difficult craft of painting.



FANTIN-LATOUR



VIII

FANTIN-LATOUR


Fantin-Latour was born in 1836, was the son of a painter, and was
educated at Paris under his father's guidance and that of Lecoq and
Boisbaudeau, professor at a little art school connected with the Ecole
des Beaux-Arts. One of the most interesting painters of the little group
in France whose work began to come before the public about the middle of
the nineteenth century, a close friend of Whistler, a passionate admirer
of Delacroix, and an inspired student of the old masters, he managed to
preserve intact an individuality that has a singular richness and
simplicity seen against the many-colored tapestry of nineteenth-century
art. Rubens, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Franz Hals, and Nicolaas Maas, Pieter
de Hooch and Vermeer of Delft, Watteau and Chardin, Van Dyck, Titian,
Tintoret, and Veronese were his true masters and his copies of their
works are said by his enlightened critic, M. Arsène Alexandre, to have a
masterly quality of their own, to be far removed from the
conventionality of facsimiles, and to bear upon an underlying fidelity
of transcription an impress of individual sentiment. He sought to be
faithful to the originals beyond external imitation, by seeking to
render the original tone of the painting in its first freshness, as it
appeared before time and varnish had yellowed and darkened it. He thus
made himself familiar with the technical methods of the great periods of
painting, and, coming into his inheritance of modern ideas and ideals,
he was able to achieve a beauty of execution much too rarely sought by
his contemporaries, although his intimate companions like himself
frequented the Louvre with a considerable assiduity, spending upon the
old masters the enthusiasm which they withheld from the later academic
school of painting.

His earlier subjects were largely Biblical and historical. He then
passed to domestic scenes and in 1859, 1861, and 1863 was painting his
pictures of _Les Liseurs_ and _Les Brodeuses_ which showed the charming
face of his sister with her sensitive smiling mouth and softly modeled
brows, and later that of his wife. At the Salon of 1859 he and Whistler
both submitted subjects drawn from family life, Whistler his _At the
Piano_ with his own sister and his niece, little Annie Haden, for the
models, and Fantin his painting of young women embroidering and reading,
only to have their canvases refused. Fantin was not, however, a martyr
to his predilections in art. He early obtained admission to the Salon
although he had enough rejected work to permit him to appear among the
painters exhibiting in the famous little "Salon des Refusés" of 1863. He
received medals and official recognitions. But his modesty of taste led
him to hold himself somewhat apart and exclusive among those who shared
his likings. His portrait of himself, painted in 1858, shows a dreamy
young man with serious, almost solemn, eyes, sitting before his easel,
and looking into the distance with the expression of one who sees
visions.

As a matter of fact he did see visions and attempted to fix them with
his art. An ardent lover of music, he was eager to translate the
emotions aroused by it into the terms of his own art. As early as 1859
he was in England, to which he returned in 1861 and 1864, and while
there he was surrounded by a group of people who shared his enthusiasm
for German music. There he first became familiar with Schumann's
melodies, and made the rare little etching representing his English
friends, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, playing one of Schumann's compositions,
Edwards with his flute and Mrs. Edwards at the piano. In 1862 he had the
very tempered satisfaction of finding that Wagner, already beloved by
him, had reached the public taste through the labors of the courageous
Pasdeloup. "I always regret," he wrote to Edwards, "seeing the objects
of my adoration adored by others, especially by the masses. I am very
jealous when I love."

In order to celebrate Wagner's triumph over these masses, however, he at
once made the lithograph called _Venusberg_, from which sprang the very
different oil version of the same subject which together with the
_Hommage à Delacroix_, the story of which M. Bénédite has recounted, was
admitted to the Salon of 1864. Fantin's lithographs, a number of which
are in the print room of the Lenox Library building in New York City,
show clearly his preoccupation with music, and an interesting article on
this phase of his temperament appeared in the _Revue des Deux Mondes_,
September 15, 1906. Naturally a worshiper, he did not confine himself to
commemorating only the musicians who were his favorites. In lithography
and painting he exalted such diverse heroes of the different arts as
Stendhal, Hugo, Baudelaire, Delacroix, Manet, Schumann, Weber, Berlioz,
and Wagner. In 1877 his enthusiasm for Wagner revived in his work, and
compositions based on the Ring music followed each other in rapid
succession. Wolfram gazing at the evening star, or following with
enchanted eyes Elizabeth's ghostly figure as it moves slowly up the hill
toward the towers of Wartburg; the Rhine maidens playing with rhythmic
motions in the swirling waters, with Alberic, crouched in the
foreground, watching them; Sieglinde, giving Siegmund to drink, as
hounded and pursued he sinks at the door of Hunding's dwelling; the
evocation of Kundry by Klingner; Siegfried blowing his horn and
receding from the enticements of the Rhine maidens--these are among the
subjects that engaged him. It would be difficult to describe his manner
of interpretation. Quite without theatrical suggestion, it combines a
dramatic use of dark and light and a feeling for palpable atmosphere
hardly equaled by Rembrandt himself, with a remarkably certain touch.
Nothing could better emphasize the value of technical drill to a poetic
temperament than these imaginative drawings. In them Fantin gives full
rein to his emotional delight in tender visions and twilight dreams. The
lovely rhythm of his lines, the rise and fall of his sensitive shadows
and lights that play and interplay in as strict obedience to law as the
waves of the sea, his delicate modeling by which he brings form out of
nebulous half-tones with the slightest touches, the least discernible
accents, the accurate bland drawing, the ordered composition, the subtle
spacing, the innumerable indications of close observation of life--all
these qualities combine to give an impression of fantasy and reality so
welded and fused as to be indistinguishable to the casual glance.

[Illustration: In the Brooklyn Art Museum.

PORTRAIT OF MME. MAÎTRE

_From a painting by Fantin-Latour_]

In spite of the assiduous study of Dutch and Italian masters, Fantin's
work is characteristically French in both its fantasy and its realism.
Not only the grace of the forms and the elegance of the gestures, but
the sentiment of the composition and the quality of the color, are
undisguisedly Gallic. He is closer to Watteau than to any other painter
but his firmer technic and more patient temperament give him an
advantage over the feverish master of eighteenth-century idyls. His art
throbs with a fuller life and in his airiest dreams his world is made of
a more solid substance. For melancholy he offers serenity, for
daintiness he offers delicacy.

His technique, especially in his later work, is quite individual in its
character. He models with short swift strokes of the brush--not unlike
the brush work in some of Manet's pictures. His pigment is rather dry
and often almost crumbly in texture, but his values are so carefully
considered that this delicately ruffled surface has the effect of
casting a penumbra about the individual forms, of causing them to swim
in a thickened but fluent atmosphere, instead of suggesting the rugosity
of an ill-managed medium.

In his paintings of flowers he found the best possible expression for
his subtle color sense. The letters written to him by Whistler in the
sixties show how fervently these paintings were admired by the American
master of harmony, and also how much good criticism came to him from his
comrade whose enthusiasm for Japanese art already was fully awakened.

As a portraitist, Fantin was peculiarly fortunate. His exquisitely
painted flower studies, his pearly-toned beautifully drawn nudes, his
lithographs with their soft darks and tender manipulations of line, his
ambitious imaginative compositions, are none of them so eloquent of his
personality as his portraits with their absolute integrity, their fine
divination, and their fluent technique. The portrait which we reproduce
is of Madam Maître, was painted in 1882, and was acquired by the Museum
of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in 1906. It represents a
woman of middle years with a sincere and thoughtful face and a quiet
bearing. The felicities of Fantin's brush are seen in the way in which
the silk sleeve follows the curve of the round firm arm, and the soft
lace of the bodice rests against the throat and is relieved almost
without contrast of color against the white skin. The touches of pure
pale blue in the fan and the delicate tints of the rose are
manifestations of the artist's restrained and subtle management of
color, but above all there is a perfectly unassuming yet uncompromising
rendering of character. There is nothing in the plain refined features
that cries out for recognition of a temperament astutely divined. They
have the calm repose that indicates entire lack of self-consciousness,
no quality is unduly insisted upon, there is neither sentimentality nor
brutal realism in the handling, the sitter simply lives as naturally
upon the canvas as we feel that she must have lived in the world. It is
for such sweet and logical truth-telling, such mild and strict
interpretation, that we must pay our debt of appreciation to Fantin, the
painter of ideal realities and of actual ideals.



CARL LARSSON



IX

CARL LARSSON


The accomplished Swedish critic, Georg Nordensvan, opens his monograph on
Carl Larsson with the statement that the latter is unquestionably the
most popular artist of the present day in his own country, and that he is
equally popular as a man. It is not often that the personality of an
artist seems so essentially connected with his work as in Larsson's case.
His gay, pugnacious, independent, yet amiable temper of mind is so
directly reflected in the character of his various production as to make
a consideration of the two together an almost necessary prelude to any
account of him. He has insisted upon expressing his individuality at
whatever cost of traditional and conventional technique and he has at the
same time unconsciously represented the frankest, most wholesome, and, on
the whole, most characteristic side of the Swedish character. A rather
daring and flippant humor enters into his paintings. One of his portraits
of himself shows him standing, his happy reddish face aglow, against a
yellowish-brown wall. He is dressed in a long, yellowish-brown smoking
frock, and holds in his raised hand a pencil from which appears to spring
a little feminine figure supposed to represent his genius. "This figure
carries what looks like a quantity of small round cookies," says his
critic, "possibly to symbolize the adequacy with which his genius
provides for his nourishment."

Another shows him with his little girl sitting on his head, maintaining
her equilibrium by planting stout feet on his shoulders. The painter
wears a house-jacket, loose slippers and baggy trousers, his face beams
with good-humor; the child is brimming with laughter; the little scene
is instinctive with the spirit of intimate domesticity, and the drawing,
free and easy, without apparent effort in the direction of elegant
arrangement or expressiveness of line, is nevertheless singularly
nervous and vigorous.

[Illustration: MY FAMILY

_From a painting by Carl Larsson_]

In still another portrait, he is sitting before his easel, his little
girl on one knee, his canvas on the other with the easel serving only as
a prop. His eyes are turned toward a mirror which is outside the picture
and the reflection in which he is using as a model; the child's eyes are
fixed on the canvas watching the growth of the design. These are
"self-portraits" in more than the usual sense. It is the rarest thing in
art to find a painter representing his own aspect with such complete
lack of self-consciousness. No characteristics seem especially to be
emphasized, none betray exaggeration, there apparently is neither
distortion nor idealization, nor is there any attempt to select a mood
that shall preserve a favorable impression of the sitter. Nothing could,
however, more favorably present a character to the critical scrutiny of
strangers than this superb good faith. The least sentimental of us must
recognize with frank delight the wholesome sweetness of the world these
kindly faithful records open to us.

Larsson was born at Stockholm in 1853. From the age of thirteen he
depended upon his own labors for support; retouching photographs at first.
Later he entered the elementary school of the academy where he received
honors. He drew from the antique and from the model and began to make
drawings for illustration when he was about eighteen. The public knew him
first through his drawings for the comic paper called _Kasper_, and he
shortly became a much sought after illustrator for papers and books. The
first book illustrated by him was a collection of stories by Richard
Gustafsson, the editor of _Kasper_, the next was Anderson's "Tales." In
the latter he succeeded Isidor Törnblom, who died in 1876 after having
executed only a few drawings for the first part. He became bold and rapid
in improvisation, and light and easy in execution--qualities that he never
lost. He was obliged to make of his academic studies a side issue,
bread-winning taking necessarily the first place with him. No doubt it is
to this necessity that he owes that prompt adaptation of his facility to
various uses, that practical application of his freshly acquired knowledge
which give to the simple compositions of his earlier period an especial
spontaneity. He had no time to fix himself in ruts of practice. To draw
from the Antinous one day and the next to press one's Greek outline into
service for the representation of little dancing girls and happy babies is
to effect that union between art and life which makes the first moving and
the second beautiful; the union in which Daumier found the source of his
prodigious strength. In his early years Larsson was anything but a
realist. His fancy turned to unusual and vast subjects, and his natural
impatience caused him to launch himself upon them with very inadequate
preliminary study. The first canvas attempted by him during the study-time
in Paris (time which he won at the Academy) was nearly ten feet high and
represented a scene from the deluge with figures double life size.
Naturally, he found himself unable to cope with the difficulties that
promptly arose and was obliged to give it up. In 1877, when he was
twenty-four years old, he painted a three-quarter length portrait of a
woman standing, which was his best work of that period. The genre
pictures which he sent home to Stockholm at about the same time awakened
little enthusiasm and spread the impression that he had no future as a
painter and would be obliged to content himself with illustration. As an
illustrator he became thoroughly successful, turning out a large amount of
work and gaining for himself in Stockholm the very inappropriate name of
"the Swedish Doré." He made enough money in this branch of art to try
painting again in Paris, but with almost no success until the Spring of
1883, when he exhibited at the Salon a couple of small water-colors, the
subjects taken from the field and garden life of Grez, a little painting
village that lies south of the Fontainebleau forest. These pictures won a
medal and were bought in Gothenburg. Other similar subjects followed, all
distinguished, Nordensvan affirms, by the same pleasing delicacy of
handling, the same glow and splendor of sunlight, and the same glad
color-harmony. He now was in a position to marry, and pictures of family
life presently appeared in great numbers. These are altogether
charming--spirited, vivid, original, and full of an indescribable
freshness and heartiness. Sometimes he painted his young wife holding her
baby, sometimes he painted his two boys parading as mimic soldiers;
sometimes it was his little girl hiding under the great, handsome
dining-table; or a young people's party in the characteristic
dining-room, all the furniture and decorations of which are reproduced
with crisp naturalism.

Not the least charm of his paintings lies in the beauty of these
handsome interiors in which detail has the precise definition found in
the work of the old Dutch artists. While Larsson's technique lacks the
exquisite finish of a Terborch or Vermeer of Delft he tells almost as
many truths about a house and its occupants as they do. If we consider,
for example, the charming composition which he calls "The Sluggard's
Melancholy Breakfast" ("Sjusofverskans dystra frukost") we find worthy
of note not only the pensive and rather cross little girl sitting alone
at the table with her loaf of bread and cup of milk, but also the long
tablecloth with its handsome conventional design, obviously a bit of
artistic handicraft since it is signed and dated above the fringe at one
end, the decoration on the wall, possibly the lower part of a painted
window, with its significant motto "Arte et Probitate"; the graceful
pattern of the chairs, the big pitcher full of flowers and fruits, the
plain ample dishes, the polished floor of the passage-way at the end of
which a door opens on the green fields with a child's figure half-seen
standing on the threshold, the fine rich color harmony of greens and
reds and blues and browns held together by a subtlety of tone that
involves no loss of strength.

His outdoor scenes are hardly less personal in their portraiture. There
is the one called "Apple-Bloom" with a Larsson child in a pink sunbonnet
clinging to the slim stem of a young apple-tree; in the distance some
long low red buildings behind a board fence, in the foreground the pale
green of spring grass; there is the one in which the larger part of the
picture is filled with delicate field growth, thin sprays of pink, blue
and white blossoms, and long slender leaves, at the top of the canvas a
little thicket of trees with a small bright head peering between the
branches; there is the one in which a baby lies on the greensward under
the trees; each has an indescribable charm of individuality. Doubtless
resembling a hundred other groves or meadows, these have an expression
of their own distinguishing them from their kind. It is the genius of
the close observer for discrimination between like things.

Whatever the subject, the treatment is always brilliant, frank and
joyous. Larsson's brushwork is light and flowing; he has, indeed, a
certain French vivacity of technique, but his motives and his personal
point of view are so purely Scandinavian as to leave no other impression
on the mind. Nor is he merely the painter of the Swedish type. He is the
painter of intimate home life and character as found within his own
walls. Hardly any other family in Sweden is known so well as his, and
the variety and enthusiasm of his mind lend spontaneity to these
domestic pictures, so that one does not easily tire of the strong
smiling creatures naturally and effectively presented to our vision.

In the field of mural decoration also he has shown marked originality.
Under the encouragement of Mr. Pontus Furstenberg, one of the foremost
patrons of art in Sweden, he tested himself on a series of paintings for
a girl's school in Gothenburg. He accomplished his task in a manner
entirely his own, taking for his subjects typical figures of women in
Sweden at different periods of history--a Viking's widow; the holy
Brigitta; a noble house mother of the time of the Vasas, etc.--but
although his manner of painting was free and blithe it hardly satisfied
the most severe critics on account of its lack of architectonic
qualities and the absence in it of anything like monumental simplicity.
He has continued, however, to go his own way in mural decoration and
holds to the principle that the walls should look flat and that the
harmony of color and line should be balanced and proportioned with
regard to decorative and not to realistic effect. His subjects are apt
to be fanciful and are executed in a semi-playful spirit not in the
least familiar to an uninventive age, as where the spirit of the
Renaissance is represented by a young woman seated high on a
step-ladder, looking toward the sky, with Popes and Cardinals seated
on the rungs below gazing in adoration, while underneath them all yawns
the grave filled with skeletons, from which the Renaissance has risen.

[Illustration: A PAINTING BY CARL LARSSON]

On the subject of home arts and handicrafts Larsson has emphatic ideas
and urges on his compatriots the desirability of preserving their
national types. "Take care of your true self while time is," he says,
"again become a plain and worthy people. Be clumsy rather than elegant:
dress yourselves in furs, skins, and woolens, make yourselves things
that are in harmony with your heavy bodies, and make everything in
bright strong colors; yes, in the so-called gaudy peasant colors which
are needed contrasts to your deep green pine forests and cold white
snow." He has made designs for haute-lisse weaving which were executed
by the Handicraft Guild and which were practically open air painting
translated into the Gobelin weave. In all that he does he is free from
the trammels of convention; but his chief triumphs are in a field that
is sadly neglected in modern art. As a painter of family life he is
surpassed by none of his contemporaries.



JAN STEEN



X

JAN STEEN


Jan Steen was born in Leyden about 1626, which would make him nineteen
years younger than Rembrandt. He is said to have studied first under
Nicolas Knüpfer and then possibly under Adriaen van Ostade in Harlem,
and finally under Jan van Goyen at the Hague. In 1648 he was enrolled in
the Painter's Guild at Leyden, and the following year he married
Margaretha van Goyen, the daughter of his latest master. His father was
a well-to-do merchant and beer-brewer and Steen himself at one time ran
a brewery, though apparently not with great success. He incontestably
was familiar with the life of drinking places and houses in which rough
merrymaking was the chief business. Many of his subjects are drawn from
such sources and his brush brings them before us with their
characteristic features sharply observed and emphasized. He has been
accused of a moralizing tendency and it may at least be said that he
permits us to draw our own moral from perverted and unpolished facts. In
his least restrained moments he is a kind of Dutch Jordaens, less
exuberant, less sturdy and florid and gesticulatory; but with the same
zest for living, the same union of old and young in any festival that
includes good meat and good drink with song and dance and horse-play. If
we compare "_Die Lustige Familie_" at Amsterdam with that ebullient
rendering of the same subject by Jordaens entitled "_Zoo de ouden
zongen: Zoo pypen de jongen_" that hangs in the Antwerp Museum, we have
no difficulty in perceiving the points of similarity. There even are
likenesses in the color-schemes of the two painters, Jordaen's silvery
yellows for once meeting their match; but we find in Steen's picture a
more subtle discrimination in the characters and temperaments lying
beneath the physical features of the gay company.

Oftentimes Steen indulges in a gay and harmless badinage as different as
possible from the bold and keen irony of his wilder themes. In "_Die
Katzentanz Stunde_" of the Rijks museum at Amsterdam the laughing
children putting the wretched little cat through a course of unwelcome
instruction, the excited pose of the dog, the concentration of the girl
upon her dance-music, are rendered with joyous freedom and animation,
and suggest a childlike mood. The lovely _Menagerie_ of the Hague is
conceived in a still milder and gentler temper, the demure child among
her pets, feeding her lamb, with her doves flying about her head and
the faithful little Steen dog in the background, is an idyllic figure.
Indeed the entire composition has a tenderness and almost a religious
depth of sentiment that make it unique among the painter's achievements.
Another charming composition in which homely pleasures enjoyed with
moderation and in a mood of simple merriment are delicately depicted is
"_Der Wirtshausgarten_" in Berlin, in which the young people and their
elders together with the happy dog are having a quiet meal under a green
arbor. Family pets play an important part in all these scenes of
domestic life; apparently Jan Steen even more than other Dutch painters
was interested in the idiosyncrasies of the animals about him and was
amused by incidents including them. His pictures gain by this a certain
suggestion of kindliness and community of good feeling that is
refreshing in the midst of the frequent vulgarity of theme and
sentiment. Reminiscences of the exquisite feeling shown in "_Die
Menagerie_" continually occur in such incidents as a girl feeding her
parrot, the play of children with the friendly dogs and cats of the
noisy inn, and especially in the importance given to the expressions and
attitudes of the dumb creatures. The dog is nearly always in the
foreground, invariably characterized with the utmost vivacity and
clearness, and usually playing his cheerful part in whatever of lively
occupation his masters are engaged in. In "_Die Lustige Familie_" he
joins his voice to the family concert with an expression of canine
agony.

Frequently the subjects are obviously drawn from the life of his own
family circle and the portraits of his children in these canvases are
always sympathetic and delightful, giving a peculiarly intimate
character to the artist's works in this kind. In "_Das Nikolausfest_" at
Amsterdam the little girl in the foreground--apparently the little
Elisabeth born in 1662, who figures in so many of the later
paintings--is a particularly engaging figure.

These simpler "feasts" and family gatherings in which gay laughter
reigns in place of brawling, constitute a delightful phase of Steen's
art, yet curiously they are seldom as beautiful in their esthetic
qualities as the tavern scenes and incidents of low and vicious life.
The picture in the Louvre, however, "_Das Familien Mahl_," contradicts
this generalization in the sheer loveliness of color, in the light that
streams through the window hung with vines, and in the delicately
discriminated textures of the gowns and furnishings. In this picture the
figure of the woman nursing her child in the background has an amplitude
of line and graciousness of pose that places it on a plane with Millet's
renderings of similar subjects, while the painting in itself is of a
quality never achieved by the poetic Frenchman.

Occasionally we find compositions by Steen in which only two or three
figures are introduced, although as a rule he crowds every inch of his
canvas with human beings and still-life. A very beautiful example of
these compositions is seen in "_Die Musikstunde_" of the National
Gallery, London. The daintiness and innocence of the young girl's
profile, the refinement of the man's face, and the enchanting tones of
the yellow bodice and blue skirt make of this picture a worthy sequel to
"_Die Menagerie_."

Another composition of two figures is "_Das Trinkerpaar_" in the Rijks
Museum at Amsterdam. A woman is drinking from a glass, and a man
standing at one side holds a jug and looks at her with an expression of
concern. The painting of the woman's right hand which she holds to her
breast is delightful and so is the clear half-tone of her face. An
attractive one-figure composition, also in the Rijks Museum, is "_Die
Scheuermagd_," a scullery maid scouring a metal pitcher on the top of a
cask. The discriminations of texture in this picture, the wood and metal
surfaces, the cotton of the woman's blouse, the rather coarse skin of
her bared arms and the more delicate texture of her full throat, are
especially noteworthy. Several compositions in which two or three
figures are grouped are variations of one theme, an invalid visited by
her physician. In several instances the title, the rather lackadaisical
expression of the lady, and the significant glances of her companions,
indicate that love-sickness is the malady. The color in these pictures
is usually beautiful and the types are cleverly differentiated, the
entire story becoming apparent to the spectator by particularities of
gesture and feature, neither exaggerated nor emphasized unduly, but
acutely observed and rendered at their precise value in the
expressiveness of the whole. A very fine example of these
"_Doktorbilder_" is in the collection of the New York Historical
Society. The doctor is bleeding his patient, and there are several
people in the room. The rich costumes are distinguished by the
indescribable blond yellows and silvery blues that make Steen's color
harmonies at their best singularly delicate and blithe.

Among the compositions in which many figures in a complicated
environment tax the artist's technical skill to the utmost, are several
representations of the bean feast, that saturnalia of Germany, upon
which abundant eating and drinking are in order. One of the most
beautiful of these pictures is in the Cassel Gallery. Steen himself,
portly and flushed, sits at the table, grimacing good-naturedly at the
racket assailing his ears. His handsome wife is in the foreground, her
large free gesture and unrestrained pose bringing out the opulent beauty
of her form draped in shining silken stuffs. Her face, turned toward
the little urchin who has found the bean in the cake and thus won the
right to wear a paper crown as king of the revels, is dimpled with
smiles. The two children are babyish in figure and expression and the
little dog is more serious than is his wont upon these occasions. A
couple of men are making a din with bits of brass and iron, and the
place is in complete disorder with eggshells and kitchen utensils
scattered about on the floor, yet the aspect of the scene is curiously
removed from vulgarity. Both beauty and character have been ideals of
the artist. He has not only grasped the loveliness of external things
but he has delved rather deeply into the individualities of these
roistering Hollanders. You do not feel as you do with Jordaens that
excess of flesh and the joys of the palate are all the world holds for
the revelers. The world holds, for one thing, appreciation of rich
accessories. The columned bedstead, the handsome rugs, the carved
furniture, the glint of gold in the ornate picture frame, especially the
sheen of the silk skirts, the soft thick velvet and fur of the sacques
and bodices, these, while they are not uncommon in the Dutch interiors
of the period combine to produce an impression of esthetic well-being
that tempers the unctuous physical satisfactions of a merry-making
class. With Jordaens it is the satyr in man that sets the standard of
enjoyment, except in his religious pictures which often are filled with
genuine and noble emotion, and in which he rises superior to Steen where
the latter works in the same kind. Nothing could be more commonplace or
characterless in color and form than Steen's rendering of the dinner at
Emmaus. Occasionally, however, he is equally without inspiration in his
lustiest subjects. In the "_Fröhliche Heimkehr_" at Amsterdam, a merry
enough scene of people returning from a boatride in high spirits, there
is neither charm of color (save in the yellow jacket of a girl who leans
over the side of the boat) nor subtlety of characterization.

Fully to appreciate Steen, we should know his pictures in the Louvre and
at Amsterdam. They cover a wide range and comprise a considerable number
of masterpieces. The life he depicts in them is not of a very high
order, but he has seen the possibilities for pictorial representation in
his surroundings as almost no other painter of his time. His people are
alive and their living is active and fervent. What they do they do with
zest. There is energy in the painter's line and vitality in his color.
Nothing is dull or tame in his family drama. All has a touch of moving
beauty. In the "_Schlechte Gesellschaft_" of the Louvre or the more
vulgar "_Nach dem Gelage_" of the Rijks Museum--least rewarding of
pictures for the moralist--how rich in beauties of color and line is the
composition, how tender in modeling are the forms, how bewitching to
the eye the fine enamel of the surface!

In the Metropolitan Museum, in New York, is one characteristic example:
"The old rat comes to the trap at last," which badly needs cleaning, and
one new purchase attributed to Steen in the lists of his work but hardly
typical or even characteristic. The subject is a kitchen scene. In it we
have neither Steen's charm of color nor his perfection of finish. Yet
the turn of the woman's head, the unaffected merriment of her expression
and that of the youth, and the type to which her face belongs
sufficiently recall such examples of the artist's work as "_Das Galante
Anerbieten_" at Brussels with which indeed it has more in common than
with any other of Jan Steen's pictures known to me.

Steen's own portrait, painted by himself and hanging now in the
Amsterdam Museum, shows a face upon which neither wild living nor ardent
toil has left unhappy marks. His serious eyes look frankly out from
under arched brows. His mouth is firm though smiling slightly. The high,
bold nose and strong chin, the well-shaped head and thoughtful brow
indicate a character more decided and more praiseworthy than the legends
adrift concerning his life would lead us to expect in him.



ONE SIDE OF MODERN GERMAN PAINTING



XI

ONE SIDE OF MODERN GERMAN PAINTING


The best substitutes for the judgments of posterity are the judgments of
foreigners. A group of pictures by the artists of one country, taken to
another country for exhibition and criticism, is subjected to something
the same test as the pictures of one generation coming under the
scrutiny of another generation.

When a collection of pictures by modern German artists was exhibited in
America in 1909, the American people were prompt in their recognition of
a certain quality which they termed national. The critics--many of
them--saw this quality from the adverse side and were far from
complimentary to the Germans in their comparisons between American art
and German art, but a general impression was given of a vitality
sufficiently marked to make itself felt by the least initiated observer.
A number of the pictures by the older men had little enough of this
vitality, but where it existed it was so decided as to leaven the mass.
And there was almost none of the sentimentality characterizing the
Teutonic ideal as it had manifested itself in the pictures formerly
brought to this country.

Compared, then, with the paintings of American artists and with those of
the Frenchmen, whose work we have known so much better than that of any
other country, compared also with the work of the modern Spaniards,
whose paintings were on exhibition the same winter at the Hispanic
Museum, we find the special character of the German painting to exist in
a resolute individualism, a determination to express the inner life of
the artist, his temperament and predilections and his mood at whatever
cost of technical facility. Expressiveness, getting the idea into
circulation, getting something said, this appears to be the common goal
of the German painter of the present day.

In such case, of course, the idea is of particular importance. If it is
to take precedence over purely esthetic qualities it is reasonable to
expect it to be an idea of no little importance. Let us examine some of
the painters represented in the exhibition arranged for America, and see
whether in most cases the idea is emotional as with the artists of China
and Japan, and therefore peculiarly appropriate to translation by
rhythms of line and harmonies of color, or intellectual, and therefore
demanding a complex and difficult expression and the solution of
technical problems that do not come into the question at all when
nothing else is required than to evoke an especial mood or temper of
soul.

The oldest of the painters represented was Adolf von Menzel, who was
born in 1815 and died in his ninetieth year. As he began work at an
early age his accomplishment practically covers the period of the
nineteenth century. He has been designated by one of his German critics
as three Menzels in one: the first, the historian of the Freiderician
period; the second, the historian of his own time, recording the court
life in which he played his part; the third, the acute observer of the
life of the streets and workrooms and a commentator on the amusing
details of the passing show.

A number of his sketches were shown at the exhibition, a couple of
landscapes, a ballroom scene and a theater subject, beside a little
mediaeval subject in gouache. These displayed his dexterity of hand
which was truly astounding, and also his memory, as the "Théâtre
Gymnase" was painted fully a year after he left Paris. The ballroom
supper was painted in an ironic mood and the gluttony of his fellow
humans, their unattractive personalities, their curious aspect of the
educated animal, appear with an intense and pitiless fidelity to the
fact which is of the essence of intellectual realism, but which could
equally have been achieved through the medium of words. In spite of a
cultivated color sense and a fine control over his instrument he was
from first to last essentially an illustrator. It was difficult for him
to omit any detail that would add to the piquancy or fulness of his
story, however much the omission might have done for his general effect.
He said himself, "There should be no unessentials for the artist," and
he advised his pupils to finish as much as possible and not to sketch at
all. This passion for completeness rarely accompanies a strong feeling
for the romantic aspects of nature or for atmospheric subtleties.
Neither does the painter who observes human nature closely and
represents it with a detailed commentary upon its characteristics
usually convey the impression of any subjective emotion.

Menzel is no exception to this rule. In his work he appears as
emotionless as a machine, but his accomplishment is not mechanical. It
is, on the contrary, the record of a busy, highly individualized,
accurate mind. A Berlin man, he had the alertness, the clear-cut
effectiveness, the energy, and the coldness typical of a cosmopolitan
product. If we compare his "Ball Supper" in which the glare of lights,
the elaboration of costume, the rapacity and shallow glittering
superficiality of a Court festivity are presented almost as though in
hackneyed phrases, so devoid is the picture of any meaning beyond the
obvious, with the "Steel Foundry" in which the unsentimental acceptance
of labor as a necessary factor in civilization is conspicuous, it is
clear that his mind was free from dreams and visions whichever side of
society he looked upon. In this respect his influence is salutary. It is
like a cool and wholesome breeze blowing away all miasmic vapors, and
there is a positively exhilarating quality in his firm assumption of the
power of the human being over his material. His workmen are men of
strong muscle and prompt brain. In the "Steel Foundry" we see their
efficient handling of the great bars of metal with admiration as we
should in life, and we note what in modern times is not always present
for notation, the intelligence and interest in their faces. In one
corner of the room, behind a screen or partition, a little group is
devouring luncheon. Here we strike once more the note of the ballroom
supper in the munching eagerness of the eaters, but seen in
juxtaposition with the physical force and effort of the workers it
ceases to be revolting, and seems to symbolize the lusty joy of living
with a sympathetic zest of realization.

In all of Menzel's work we have this sense of physical and mental
competency. It shows nothing of the abnormal or decadent, and it must
also be admitted that only in a few instances does it show anything of
esthetic beauty. He was able to paint crowds of people and he managed to
get a remarkable unity of effect in spite of his devotion to detail, but
his masses of light and shade are not held in that noble harmonious
relation achieved by the peasant Millet who was Menzel's contemporary,
his lines have no rhythmic flow, his color, though often charming, is
seldom held together in a unified tone. Some one has called him "the
conscience of German painting," but he is more than that. He is both
conscience and brain. It is always possible to obtain an intellectual
satisfaction from his point of view. What is lacking is emotion.

We feel this lack in other Berlin masters. Professor Max Liebermann is
one of the most distinguished of the modern group, and his large, cool,
definite art is innocent of the moving quality. He was represented in
the exhibition by a portrait of Dr. Bode, a vigorous little composition
called "The Polo-players," the "Flax Barn at Laren," and "The Lace
Maker." The last two were especially typical of his steady detachment
from his subject. The old lace maker, bending over her bobbins, suggests
only absorption in her task. There is no ennobling of her form, no
idealizing of her features, no enveloping of her occupation with
sentiment, nothing but the direct statement of her personality which is
neither subtle nor complex and the description of what she is doing. But
she is intensely real, more real, even, than Menzel's closely observed
individuals. Liebermann, born in 1847, was the leader of the new
tendency characterizing the Germany of the seventies, the tendency
toward constant reference to nature as opposed to the old-fashioned
conventionalism and Academic methods. There could have been no safer
leader for a band of rebels since he was the sanest of thinkers and
worked out a style in which the classic qualities of nobility in the
disposition of lines and spaces and remarkable purity of form played a
prominent part.

[Illustration: Courtesy of Berlin Photographic Company.

PEASANT WOMEN OF DACHAUER

_From a painting by Leibl_]

Observing his "_Flax Barn_," in comparison with the work of his
compatriots, its fine freedom from triviality of detail was apparent,
and the beauty of its cool light, spread over large spaces and diffused
throughout the interior of the low shed, made itself felt. One noted
also, as elements of the picture's peculiarly dignified appeal, the
severe arrangement of the figures with the long row of workers under the
windows, the long threads of flax passing over their heads to the women
in the foreground, and the almost straight line formed in turn by these
women. The composition, quite geometrical in its precision, gave a sense
of deep repose in spite of the vitality of the individual figures and
the impression they made of being able to turn and move at will, an
impression nearly always missed by Leibl, Liebermann's great forerunner
in the painting of humble life. We get much the same austere effect from
the almshouse pictures of old men and women on benches in the open
square, always arranged in a geometrical design, and always calm in
gesture and mild in type, which appear from time to time in the foreign
exhibitions of Liebermann's work.

Liebermann has done for the Germans something of what Millet did for the
French. He has built his art upon the daily life of the poor, but while,
like Millet, he has introduced a monumental element into his work, it is
clearer, more closely reasoned, more firmly knit than Millet's art, and
at the same time less emotional. Liebermann's hospitality to purely
technical ideas, his interest in problems of light and air, his diligent
analysis of motion, his ability to translate a scene from the life of
the laboring class without sentimentality, without prettiness or
eloquence or any of the attributes that catch the multitude, give to his
art a touch of coldness that is not without its charm for those who care
for a highly developed orderly product of the mind.

Most of the Berlin men who are in any degree notable share somewhat in
this attribute. Arthur Kampf, although he has less than Liebermann of
cool detachment, has both elegance and gravity. He could hardly have had
a better representation by any one or two canvases than by the "Charity"
and the "Two Sisters" of the American exhibition. In the first he
depicts a street scene with its contrasts of poverty and wealth. A man
and woman in evening dress, returning from their evening's pleasure, are
besought by poor people clustering around a soup stall and drop coin
into the insistent hands. The smoking caldron of soup in the center and
the circle of sharply differentiated faces form an admirable
composition, the apparently accidental lines of which play into a
dignified linear scheme. The "Two Sisters" reveals the influence of
Velasquez in its flat modeling and subtle characterization, and in its
atmospheric grays enlivened with geranium reds. Both of these pictures
indicate a modern temper of mind in the fluency of their technique and
the realism of their treatment together with the attention paid to the
tonal quality and to the character of the space composition. Kampf,
however, although a young man--he was born in 1864--has passed through
many phases of development which are recorded in his many-sided art. His
subjects range from the historical themes of his wall decorations at
Magdeburg and Aachen through portraiture in which he grasps characters
essentially diverse and suggests with unerring instinct the dominant
quality, scenes of labor as in his "Bridge-Building," scenes of
brutality and excitement as in his "Bull-fight," scenes from the drama
of the Biblical story, scenes of domestic life as in his delicately
humorous picture of the absorbed reader eating his breakfast with the
morning paper propped up in front of him, and scenes of peaceful
holiday-making among the poor as in his idyllic "Sunday Afternoon" which
shows a peasant boy playing his harmonicum under the trees, with his
old father and mother sitting by in placid enjoyment. Various as these
pictures are and closely as the manner has in each case been adapted to
the special subject, we nowhere miss the note of individuality, although
in such a portrait as that of the Kaiser, which was shown in America, it
unquestionably is subdued. Neither do we miss the note of locality. Born
at Aachen, Kampf is a true Rheinlander and one of his German critics
notes that we must look to this fact for the explanation of his special
qualities, declaring that without the Rheinlander's cheerfulness and
energetic temperament, and without the background of the ancient Rhenish
culture, he would be inconceivable. On the other hand his turning to
drama and romance for his inspiration speaks of his Duesseldorfian
training and his realism of representation allies him to Menzel. At
forty-two he was made president of the Royal Academy of Art in Berlin,
and it is probable that the wholesome Rhenish energy of which his critic
speaks will save him from sinking into the formalism of the academic
tradition.

In his art, however, as in that of his compatriots, it is apparent that
the world of ideas is the world in which he lives, and he works to
express his mind rather than his soul, his thoughts rather than his
emotions, if we follow the indefinite and arbitrary division between
thought and feeling that does service as a symbol of a meaning difficult
to express clearly.

There were other interesting painters represented in the Berlin group at
the American Exhibition, Otto Engel, Fritz Berger, Hans Hartig--and of
all it is more or less true that the idea in their work is more
important than the feeling. It is true also that the tradition of the
peasant Leibl, a great painter, but invariably cold, rests upon most of
them. His wonderful manipulation of pigment is equaled by none of them,
but his accurate, detached observation, his balanced rendering, the
firmness of his method, have entered more or less into their scheme of
art. And it is to be noted that his ideas and theirs are ideas
appropriate to the painter's medium. Menzel's literary bent is not
shared by them, his predilection for a story to illustrate almost never
appears among the younger Berlin painters, and he cannot in any real
sense be considered their prototype.

When we turn to the older members of the modern Munich school we find
the influence of Boecklin dominant. Arnold Boecklin, a Swiss by birth,
and possessed of the Swiss ingenuity of mind, has been the subject of
endless discussion among the Germans of the present day. He exhausted
his very great talent in painting a symbolic world, and by his
appreciation of the value of coherence he made his paintings
impressive. They are each a perfectly coherent arrangement of parts,
making a whole which has the appearance of simplicity, however numerous
the elements composing it may be. By a combined generalization and
intensity he turned the actual world which he studied closely enough,
into his own unreality. Thus, in his Italian landscapes, he reveals the
architectonic structure of his scene stripped of all incidental
ornament, the upright and horizontal lines left severe and
uncompromised, and the blue of the heavens and the sea, and the dark
green of the cypresses, pushed to an almost incredible depth. Everything
is more significant than in nature, yet nature has provided the elements
of significance. It is in his ability to see things whole and to
co-ordinate the selected details that Boecklin is most an artist. This
largeness of generalization gives him power over the imagination, and
is, perhaps the only, certainly the chief source of his power. His color
by its very intensity overdoes the intended effect. The imagination
instead of being stimulated is sated, and his obvious symbolism fails to
pique the curiosity. Moreover, his handling of paint lacks
sensitiveness. He has something of the disregard shown by the English
painter Watts for the beauty inherent in his material which might as
well be clay or textile as pigment in his hands. But his appreciation of
the effect upon the mind of noble arrangements of space and mass
raises him to a much higher place as an artist than he can be said to
occupy as a painter.

[Illustration: FIDDLING DEATH

_From a portrait by Arnold Boecklin_]

Franz von Stuck is Boecklin's most distinguished follower. When we turn
from the examples of Boecklin's work, by no means the most impressive
examples, exhibited in America, to Stuck's "Inferno" we perceive both
the influence of Boecklin and the powerful individuality that mingles
with it.

There is Boecklin's insistence upon the symbol, and upon the bodying
forth of things unseen, there is the solid violence of color, there is
the pompous statement of the half-discerned truths which more sensitive
artists are content to whisper. But there is also a splendid arabesque
of line and a deeper reading of the spiritual content of the subject.

If we compare Stuck with William Blake whose fancy also was haunted by
Dantesque conceptions, we see how much more impressive Blake's visions
of the unreal world are and we find the reason in their swift energy of
conception and in the artist's tenacity in holding his conception. With
both Boecklin and Stuck we feel that the manner of rendering the
conception becomes more important than the initial conception, and this
seldom, if ever, is true of Blake. In spite of Boecklin's superb
restraint in the disposition of his masses, when it comes to color he is
at the mercy of the material pigment and permits it to obliterate where
it should enhance and reveal. His forms, also, and even more than
Stuck's, lose vitality under the weight of significance forced upon
them, while Blake's emerge from the blank panel clean and strong and
unencumbered. We feel that Blake, with all his struggle to utter truth
by means of symbol, never allows his mind to lose the idea that "Living
form is eternal existence," but in Boecklin's pictures "living form" is
often buried beneath his colored clays.

Thus we see that it cannot truly be said of him and his followers that
the idea is of first importance to them. It is their material that is of
first importance, otherwise they would learn so to subordinate their
material as to support and disclose their idea. This is the more obvious
that their idea is emotional and therefore perfectly suited to
expression through the medium of art. Liebermann's ideas although they
are intellectual are not of a kind that cannot appropriately be
translated into pictures, and his respect for them leads him to fit his
manner of expression closely to their requirements. Like Leibl he is a
painter and a thinker in one, and the faculties of the two work in
complete coordination.

Painters of Boecklin's type, on the other hand, wish to produce in the
observer a strong emotion, but they become slaves to their medium
because their own emotion is not sufficiently powerful to conquer their
minds, which become diverted by the colors and forms they produce. One
of Blake's swift upward soaring lines has more power to carry the
imagination heavenward than all the versions of Boecklin's "Island of
Death."

Against Boecklin's followers, whose minds are more or less befogged by
their lack of appreciation of paint as a means to an end, we must place
Wilhelm Truebner who is a clear thinker and a great painter, with more
warmth than Liebermann and with a reticent color sense, a feeling for
expressive form, a love of reality, and no apparent desire to re-invent
the grotesque. His elegance of line in itself sets him apart from most
of his compatriots, and his knowledge of how to extract from his color
scheme its essential beauty is greater than that of most modern
painters, whatever their nationality. His blacks have the depth and
luster without unctiousness characteristic of black as the great
colorists use it, and in his touches of pale refined color enlivening a
black and white composition, we have the delightful effect so often
given by Manet, as of a bunch of bright flowers thrown into a shadowy
corner.

If young Germany were content to follow in Truebner's footsteps we
should soon have a revival of the ancient craftsmanship and conscience
that animated Holbein and Dürer. Young Germany, however, has other
plans. To learn of them the reader is referred to Meier-Graefe's
comprehensive and stimulating volume on modern art. The only
representation of the painters of the immediate present given in the
American exhibition was confined to the Scholle School, which, however,
indicates clearly the creative impulse that is stirring in the younger
painters. "A warlike state," Blake wrote, "never can produce Art. It
will Rob and Plunder and accumulate into one place and Translate and
Copy and Buy and Sell and Criticize, but not Make." This has been true
of the Germans, but the present generation is bent upon making and it is
natural that the strongest impulse toward originality should come to the
Munich painters rather than to the cosmopolitan Berlin men.

The Scholle is a Munich association consisting of a group of young men
who, taking the humble and fecund earth as their symbol, as the title of
the society implies, seek to get into their painting the vigor and
intensity of life and force which devotion to the healthy joys provided
by our mother Earth is supposed to engender.

They are like the giant Antaeus whose strength was invincible so long as
he remained in contact with the earth, but who easily was strangled when
lifted into the upper air. Their strength also melts into helplessness
when confronted by problems of atmosphere and the delicate veils of tone
which enwrap the material world for the American painter.

But the energy of these young Germans in their own field is something at
which to wonder. They remind one of their critics of a band of lusty
peasant boys journeying in rank from their University to the nearest
beer garden, singing loud songs by the way. Leo Putz, Adolf Muenzer,
Fritz Erler, are the leaders of the group, although Alex Salzmann and
Ferdinand Spiegel were Erler's collaborators in the famous Wiesbaden
frescoes which offended the taste of the Kaiser. These young men are
entirely capable of offending a less conventional taste than the
Kaiser's, but they all are doing something which has not been done in
Germany for many a long year; they are busying themselves with the
visible world and painting frankly what they see. It does not matter in
the least that in their decorative work they give rein to their fancy
and produce such symbolism as we find in Erler's "Pestilence," or that
in the illustrations for Jugend they tell a story with keen appreciation
of its literary significance. Their eyes are open upon the aspect of
material things and they paint flesh that is palpitating with life,
forms that live and move, and color that vibrates.

Here again as with Liebermann and Truebner the idea and the execution
are in harmony, but with the Scholle painters the idea is apt to be a
very simple one, depending upon straightforward representation for its
impressiveness. Above all it reflects the national temper of mind, for
all these individualists are German to the core and not to be mistaken
for any other race.

One characteristic of this national temper is directness. Not
necessarily simplicity, of course, since the German painter as well as
the German writer has frequently complex thoughts to express and uses
corresponding elaborations of expression. But he does not often say one
thing while seeming to say another; he does not often give double and
contradictory meanings to the same subject. He does not present for your
contemplation the disheartening spectacle of sophistication masquerading
as innocence, or duplicity masquerading as frankness. To that extent he
is an optimist, however deep his native pessimism may go in other
directions.

There is, for example, a picture by the French artist Jacques Blanche,
entitled "Louise of Montmartre," and known to many Americans, in which
the girl to whom Paris irresistibly calls is shown in her boyish blouse
and collar, her youthful hat and plainly dressed hair, in a nonchalant
attitude, pretty and plebeian, with honest eyes, yet revealing in every
line of her frank and fresh young face the potentiality of response to
all the appeals made by the ruthless spirit of the city. It is
impossible to discern at what points the artist has betrayed that
artless physiognomy in order to reveal the secrets of temperament, but
the thing is done.

It is not what the German is interested in doing. His imagination works
subjectively, giving form to his own conceptions, rather than
objectively or as an interpreter of others. Hence the downright, and, in
a sense, confiding aspect of so much of this brave art. Hence, also, its
affinity with the American spirit, for the American still bends a rather
unsuspecting gaze upon life and accepts character and temperament as
they choose to present themselves. The German, however, is articulate
and ratiocinating where we are more purely instinctive. We are not
inclined to reason about our moods and we seldom are able to express
them in our literature. In our art, on the other hand, especially in our
landscape art, we manage to translate our subtlest emotion. We are able
to suggest what is too delicate for analysis, and in this we stand
almost alone in the painting of the present day.



TWO SPANISH PAINTERS



XII

TWO SPANISH PAINTERS


Modern art, particularly American art, owes much to Velasquez and
something to Goya, and modern painters have been prompt to acknowledge
their indebtedness. But there has been a prevailing impression that with
Goya's rich and unique achievement Spanish art stopped in its own
country so completely as to be incapable of revival. The impression was
disturbed in this country by the appearance in the galleries of the
Hispanic Museum in New York, and also in Buffalo and in Boston, of the
work of two modern Spaniards, one a painter who demonstrated by his
methods and choice of subjects that the old Spanish traditions and
ideals had not been forgotten, the other a singularly isolated
individual who illumined for us a side of Spanish life which art
previously had ignored. Both spoke a racy idiom and conveyed a sense of
quickened vitality by freedom of gesture, unhackneyed arrangement,
intensity of color, reality of type, yet in their influence upon the
public they were as far as might be asunder.

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida was born at Valencia, Spain, in 1863, and
began seriously to study art at the age of fifteen. He studied at the
Academy of his birthplace for several years and won there a scholarship
entitling him to a period of study in Italy. He visited Paris also,
where he was profoundly impressed, it is said, by two exhibitions in the
French capital, one of the work of Bastien LePage, the other of the work
of the German Menzel. The modern note is clearly felt in all his later
painting, but certainly not the influence of either Bastien LePage or
Menzel. The painter to whom he bears the most marked resemblance is
Botticelli. The spiritual languor, the melancholy sentiment, the
mystical tendency, the curiosity and interest in the unseen which are
important characteristics of the Florentine who read his Dante to such
good purpose do not appear in the work of this frank and lusty
Valencian, but where else in modern painting do we find the gracile
forms, the supple muscles, the buoyancy of carriage, the light
impetuosity of movement, and the draperies blown into the shapes of
wings and sails, which meet us here as in the pagan compositions of
Botticelli?

[Illustration: In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

THE SWIMMERS

_From a painting by Sorolla_]

If we glance at Sorolla's young girls and young boys racing along the
hot beach, or his bathers exulting in their "water joy," we recall at
the same moment the "Primavera" with its swift-stepping nymphs, the
wind gods in the "Birth of Venus," or the "Judith" with her maid
moving rapidly along a flower-strewn path. This joy of motion and this
continual suggestion of youth and vitality form the link that binds
together the so dissimilar ideals of the old and the modern master.
Sorolla's inspiration is by far the simpler. His art reflects the
brilliant sunshine of the Mediterranean coast, the tonic quality of the
fresh air, and the unconventionality of life by the sea. All his people
use natural gestures and express in their activity the untrammeled
energy of primitive life. In looking at these children, and there is
hardly a figure that has not the naïveté of childhood, we think less of
the individuals portrayed than of the outdoor freshness of which they
are a part. They are much more spirits of nature than the dryads and
nereids and mermaids conceived by the Germans to express in symbol the
natural forces. Nothing suggests the use of models, all has the look of
spontaneity as though the artist had made his notes in passing, without
the slightest regard to producing a picture, with only the idea of
reproducing life. Life, however, appears in his canvases in a
sufficiently decorative form, although not in the carefully considered
patterns of those artists with whom the decorative instinct is supreme.

Observe, for example, the painting entitled "Sea Idyl." Two children are
stretched on the beach, their bright bodies wet and glistening and
casting blue shadows on the sands. They are lying so close to the
water's edge that the waves lap over them, the boy's skin shines like
polished marble under the wet film just passing across it, and the
girl's drenched garments cling with sharp chiseled folds to the form
beneath like the draperies of some young Greek goddess just risen from
the sea. The insolence of laughing eyes, the idle fumbling of young
hands in the wet sand, the tingling life in the clean-cut limbs, the
buoyancy of the waves that lift them slightly and hold them above the
earth,--all are seen with unwearied eyes, and reproduced with energy.

The management of the pigment in this picture as in many of the others
can be called neither learned nor subtle. Apparently the artist had in
mind two intentions, the one to represent motion, the other to represent
light, and he set about his task in the simplest way possible, with such
simplicity, indeed, that the extraordinary character of the result would
easily be missed by a pedant. It has not been missed by the public, who
have entered with enthusiasm into the painter's mood, perceived the
originality of his vision and the joyousness of his art, and have
radiated their own appreciation of this vitalized, healthful world of
happy people until they have increased the distrust of the pedant for an
art so helplessly popular.

[Illustration: In the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

THE BATH--JÁVEA

_From a painting by Sorolla_]

The distrust is not unnatural. To follow the popular taste would lead us
into strange errors in our judgments of art, and only rarely would
produce a predilection capable of lasting over a generation. How is it,
then, that we fearlessly may range ourselves on the side of the public
in admiration of Sorolla's art? Because the painter has cast off the
slavery of the conventional vision. He sees for himself, the rarest of
gifts, and thus can well afford to paint like others. He spends,
apparently, but little thought upon his execution, letting it flow
easily according to his instinct for the appropriate. It is not a safe
example to follow for painters who do not see with unusual directness.
Often in searching out refinements of execution the eye discovers
refinements of fact in the scene to be portrayed and makes its selection
with greater distinction than would be possible at first sight. But
Sorolla's prompt selective vision flies to its goal like a bee to a
honey-bearing flower. He takes what he wants and leaves the rest with
the dew still on it. His forces are neither scattered nor spent. His
freshness is overmastering, and with our eyes on his creations we have
that curious sense of possessing youth and health and freedom which we
get sometimes from the sight of boys at their games. We are cheated into
forgetfulness of the world's great age and our own lassitudes and
physical ineffectiveness. This illusion is agreeable to the most of us,
hence our unreserved liking for Sorolla's art which produces it.

The art of Ignacio Zuloaga, on the contrary, produces the opposite
impression of complete sophistication. In place of adolescent
exultations and ebullient physical activities, we find in it the strange
sorceries of a guileful civilization. There are smiling women with
narrowed eyelids and powdered faces, old men practising dolorous
rejuvenations, laughter that conceals more than it expresses, motions
that are as calculated as those of the dance, serpentine forms, fervid
passions, and underneath the sophistries a violent primeval temper. In
spite of the flowerlike gaiety of the color in rich costumes, the glint
of silver, the sweet cool blues, the pale violets, in the painter's
versions of the typical toreador of Spain the types are bold, cruel, and
sullen. In spite of the fragility and elegance of the women on balconies
under soft laces the prevailing note is that of undisciplined ferocity
of emotion. This too is Spain, but not the Spain of the beach and sea
life.

The rather numerous examples of what Mr. Christian Brinton has called
Zuloaga's "growing diabolic tendency" make it clear that his art holds
no place for spontaneity and the innocence due to ignorance, but where
he keeps to Spanish subjects his work remains healthy. There is the
picture entitled "The Sorceresses of San Milan" in which three old
women are seen against a dramatic landscape. These haggard jests of
nature bring before us a Spain from which the American finds it
impossible not to shrink with horror, but they are rich in dramatic
quality and recall the power of Goya to endow the abnormal with
imaginative splendor while holding to essential truth. They are
diabolic, if you will, but not Mephistophelian. There is the abstract
horror in them which we associate with unknown powers of darkness, but
not the guile with which we endow a personal devil. In striking contrast
to this group are the balcony pictures in which women of ripe aggressive
beauty lounge gracefully in the open-air rooms with the same freedom of
pose as within doors, haughty yet frank, opulent, languid yet animated,
flowers that could have bloomed nowhere else than under a scorching sun.

[Illustration: Courtesy of the Hispanic Society of America.

THE SORCERESSES OF SAN MILAN

_From a painting by Zuloaga_]

Then there is the group of dancers and actors and singers in each of
which we find the adroit mingling of the artificial with the real, and
the appreciation of the fact that with the people of the stage much that
is artificial to others becomes their reality. The most vivid of them
all is Mlle. Lucienne Bréval as "Carmen." The sinuous figure is wrapped
in a shawl apparently of a thousand colors; actually, a strong
combination of yellow, green, and red. The skirt which the singer
gathers in one hand and lifts sufficiently to show the small foot in its
red slipper has a dark vermilion ground on which is a pattern of large
flowers of paler vermilion, boldly outlined with blue.

Over it droops the dark fringe of the shawl. A crimson flower is in the
dark hair, and the footlights cast an artificial amber glow on the face.
This tawny harmony is seen against a background of slightly acid green;
at the other side of the canvas is a little table with two men seated at
it. They look "made up," in the theatrical sense, and the table looks
rather light and rickety; there is one solid natural stage property, the
yellow jug on the table with its dull blue figure. The whole life and
reality of the picture are in the Carmen smiling and muffled in the
curious shawl, as if she were about to move in a fiery dance in which
her brilliant wrappings would take a part as animated and vital as her
own. No one but a Spaniard could invest a garment with such
expressiveness.

[Illustration: Courtesy of the Hispanic Society of America.

THE OLD BOULEVARDIER

_From a painting by Zuloaga_]

"Paulette as Danseuse" is another stage figure. Here again the costume
speaks with extraordinary eloquence. The colors are green and pink, and
play delicately within a narrow range of varied tones. Under the short
green jacket the low-cut bodice shows a finely modeled throat and a
chest that seems almost to rise and fall with the breath, so palpitating
with life is the fleshlike surface. The poise of the figure suggests
that the dance has that moment ended, and the eyes and mouth are
slightly arched. The undulating line of the draperies, now tightly
drawn about the figure, and again billowing into ampler curves, suggests
the rhythm of the dance.

In another canvas we see Paulette once more, this time in walking
costume, standing with her hands on her hips in a daintily awkward pose.
Her lips, in the first picture upturned at the corners, mouselike, have
widened in a frank smile, her eyes have lost their formal archness and
look with detached interest upon the passing show, she still is supple,
clear cut, with a flexible silhouette, but her gown would find it
impossible to dance, and, as before, she and her gown are one.

In "The Actress Pilar Soler," on the other hand, Zuloaga dispenses as
far as possible with definite aids to expression. The costume is
undefined; the half-length figure, draped in black and placed high on
the canvas, is seen against a dark greenish-blue background. The mass of
the silhouette, unbroken as in an Egyptian statue, but with tremulous
contours suggesting the fluttering of life in the dimly defined body, is
sufficiently considered and distinguished; but it is the modeling of the
face that holds the attention, a mere blur of tone, yet with all the
planes understood and with a certain material richness of impasto that
contributes to the look of solid flesh, the dark of the eyebrows making
the only pronounced accent--a face that becomes more and more vital as
you look at it, with that indestructible vitality of which, among the
Frenchmen, Carrière was master.

In several other canvases, notably in the first version of "My Cousin
Esperanza," and the second version of "Women in a Balcony," Zuloaga has
caught this effect of vague fleeting values, changes in surface so
subtle as to be felt rather than seen, a kind of floating modeling that
suggests form rather than insists upon it. And he has done this in the
most difficult manner. Whistler long ago taught us to appreciate the
effect, but he worked with thin layers of pigment, a sensitive surface
upon which the slightest accent made an impression. Zuloaga, on the
contrary, works with a full brush, and consequently a more unmanageable
surface. He attains his success as a sculptor does against the odds of
his material, but he seems better to suggest his special types in this
way.

[Illustration: Courtesy of the Hispanic Society of America.

MERCEDÈS

_From a painting by Zuloaga_]

Often he makes his modeling with the sweep of his brush in one direction
and another. "Candida Laughing" shows this method, and so does the
"Village Judge," in which the pigment is still more freely swept about
the bone of the cheek and the setting of the eye, telling its story of
the way the human face is built up in the frankest and briefest manner.
With the lovely "Mercedès," a fragile figure, elegant in type, the
workmanship becomes again less outspoken. The haughty, graceful
carriage, and the intense refinement of the features that glow with
a pale light beneath the fine lace of the scarf, demand and receive a
daintier, more fastidious interpretation. In the portrait of Mrs. F., Jr.,
there is a fresher manner, a breezier, crisper feeling throughout. The
color harmony of gray and green is cool and lively, the poise of the
figure lacks the touch of languor that is present in the fieriest of the
typical Spaniards. We seem to have passed into another and cooler air.

The composition of this picture too, is especially admirable. The
subject stands, bending forward a little, the left hand resting on the
hip, the other fingering a string of pearls, a gauzy scarf is about the
shoulder and floats away from the figure at the hips, the sky is
atmospheric and there is a background of trees, river, and bridge. At
the left of the canvas an iron balustrade, bent into free, graceful
curves, comes into the composition, beautifully drawn and painted in a
just value, adding in the happiest manner to the decorative effect.

This is the class of pictures in which Zuloaga is at his best. The types
offer him adequate opportunity for exercising the faculty of astute
discrimination with which he is gifted, without calling into play the
ironic temper that broods with cold amusement over such a canvas as "The
Old Boulevardier" than which cynicism can go but little farther. It
might reasonably be argued that it is only in subjects which call forth
as many evidences as possible of the artist's temperament and character
that we can fully measure his force. The impulse, however, that turns
his gaze toward those physiognomies that offer the richest reward to the
investigating scrutiny is a part of his force, as also his choice of
subjects about which he can talk, as one of his French critics has put
it in his own language.



Transcriber's Notes:

The word esthetic left as is throughout text. Compound words left as is
throughout text. Alternative and original spelling has been maintained
including Rijksmuseum and Rijks Museum.

Spelling and punctuation, by page number:

Page

   3 - _Tiger devouring a Gavial of the Ganges_ changed to Devouring.

  12 - the patine of commerce[inserted . period] "The ideal

  27 - fluent handling and the mystery of tone changed to mastery.

  44 - In Les Mâitre Contemporains, M. Paul Mongré thus changed to
  Maître.

  45 - but the abounding enthusisam of the latter changed to enthusiasm.

  61 - the _Gobbi_, the _Beggars_?" inserted question mark and closing
  quotation mark.

  74 - Years 1827 and 1828 changed to 1627 and 1628 respectively.

  82 -(Städel Gallery) in the Museum of Brussels, changed to (Städel
  Gallery), in the Museum of Brussels,

  84 - those set in the Virign's changed to Virgin's.

  85 - physical anguish that mark the figure changed to marks.

  92 - his most temperate moods, the _Pieta_ changed to _Pietà_.

 100 - 1831 changed to 1631.

 132 - of the two painters, Jordaen's silvery---Jordaen's left as is,
 corrected it would have been Jordaens'. Jordaens was the painter's
 name.

 138 - In the "_Frohliche Heimkehr_" at Amsterdam changed to Fröhliche.

 174 - slightest accent made an impresssion changed to impression.

 174 - With the lovely "Mercedes," changed to Mercedès.





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